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The Firbolg were an ancient race of people that ruled Ireland before the Tuatha de Danaan and the Melesians. The origin of the name of these peoples is still subject to conjecture with 'men of spear', 'men of the bag' and 'men of boats' being suggested translations.
Legend has it that the Firbolg were enslaved by the Greeks. For three centuries their persecution continued before they eventually stole some Greek ships and set sail for Ireland. The leaders of the escape were five brothers, Slainge, Rudraige, Genann, Gann, and Sengann. The 5000-strong tribe headed to the west coast of Ireland but were soon scattered by the rough seas and had to land at different bays. They reformed at the Hill of Tara where the country was divided into 5 Provinces. These boundaries substantially survived into modern times and became four Provinces, with two of the original five being merged.
Ireland prospered under the Firbolg. They had a political structure, administration and a kingdom. They brought bronze-age technology to Ireland. They fought off persistent raids by the Fomorians, who they united with on several occasions to ward off would-be invaders. For 37 years there were 7 successive Firbolg kings who ruled over a thriving land. A new wave of invaders were on the way however, the Tuatha de Danaan.
Despite negotiations and time-stalling tactics by the Firbolg, defeat to the technically superior Tuatha de Danaan was inevitable. Despite staring defeat in the face the Firbolg petitioned the Tuatha de Danaan for once last chance of victory: a battle between equal forces.
Bravery was not enough though. The Firbolg were finally defeated at the Battle of Moytura but not before they impressed the new rulers of Ireland with their fierce courage and honour. The country was divided again with the western part of the country, Connaught Province, being assigned to the Firbolg.
From this time on the power of the Firbolg waned. They continued to live in the West of Ireland and, together with he Tuatha de Danaan and the Milesians, are regarded as one of the great Celtic tribes of Ireland.
The Firbolg - An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.
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