“I am Aedh Abaid of Ess Ruad, also Ruad Rofhessa and Eochaid Ollathair. These are my names. I am the Good God of druidry of the Tuatha Dé Danann. An Dagda.”
And there he was, with Cermait Milbél, one of his sons, on his back. Now, Cermait had fallen in combat to the frenzy of Lugh, son of Cian, High King of Erin, for the sake of a woman’s embrace. Buach, who was the daughter of Daire Donn, was the wife of Lugh. As it often happens with the wives of great men, she endured much loneliness and turned often in the dark hours to her husband’s pillow, only to find it cold and bare. Well, Cermait the Dagda’s son, lay with her, wherefore Cermait was slain by Lugh. The Dagda considered his vast horde of knowledge and learning, then surrounded Cermait’s body with frankincense and myrrh and herbs and took to chanting such spells as he knew. This done, he lifted Cermait, and bearing the body of his son upon his back he searched the world until they came to the far eastern realms of the Earth.
In that strange and distant land he met three men going along road bearing their father’s treasures. The Dagda conversed with them and they said “We three are the sons of one father and mother, and we are sharing our father’s treasures, as is right for sons to do.”
“What treasures have ye?” asked the Dagda.
“A great shirt and a staff and a cloak.” said they.
“What virtues have these to be considered treasures?” said the Dagda.
“This great staff here,” said the eldest of them, “has a smooth end and a rough end. The rough slays the living, and the smooth revives the dead.”
“What of the shirt and the cloak?” said the Dagda, “What are their virtues?”
“He who wears the cloak may wear any shape, form, figure, or colour that he chooses. As for the one who wears the shirt, grief or sickness can never touch the skin that it covers.”
“Truly?” Said he.
“Very truly.” said they.
“Put the staff in my hand.” said the Dagda. Then the youngest of them lent him the staff, for he had been good company, and with great speed he put the rough end upon them thrice, and they fell dead in the road. Then he pressed the smooth end upon his son, and the lad arose in the fullness of his strength and health. Cermait put his hands on his face like one waking early from a dream, then rose up and looked at the three dead men that lay before him.
“Who are these three dead men in our path?” said Cermait to his father.
“Three men that I met,” said the Dagda, “sharing their father’s treasures. They lent me the staff and I slew them with one end and I brought yourself to life with the other end.”
“It would be a sad story to tell at our feasting,” said Cermait, “that they should not be given back their lives by that which caused me to live.”
The Dagda agreed and put the smooth end of the staff upon them, and the three brothers arose in the fullness of their health and strength.
“Know ye now that ye had been slain,” said he, “with your father’s staff?”
“We know it,” said they, “and you have taken an unfair advantage of us.”
“I have knowledge of your staff and its virtues,” said the Dagda, “and I have given you your three lives when I might have held them. Lend me the staff to take to Erin far to the west of this land.”
“What bonds have we that our father’s staff will ever come back to us?”
“The sun and moon, land and sea, provided that I might slay foes and give life to friends with its magic.”
Under that condition a loan of the staff was given to him.
“How shall we share the treasures we have?” said they. “For we are three and now only two remain to us.”
“Two of you will bear the treasures and one without any, until his turn come round at some predetermined interval.”
Then he brought that staff away to Erin, and his son, and with it he slew his foes and brought his friends to life. In time he took the kingship of Erin by means of that staff. However, the days of the Dagda’s kingship were numbered, as are the days of all things, and the time would come where the Dagda’s kingship would be ended, and indeed time has been so cruel to the Dagda and his sons and all of that fair Tribe, that we now living would hardly ever know that they lived at all were it not for the old tales that we tell.