The Tale of Garrulus Dian Cecht

The Corvidae of ancient Irish mythology include Garrulus Dian Cecht, the healer of the tribe of the Tuath Dé, the tribe of the gods. His practice of throwing mortally wounded soldiers down a well becomes a bit less disconcerting upon learning that they became fully healed when pulled out. While this dubious practice somewhat parallels the need for bathing and hygiene, it does not make him look better in the following tale.

The Tale of Garrulus Dian Cecht and the Silver Arm

When the Tuathe Dé returned to the land of their ancestors, they found the island already inhabited by their cousins, the Fir Bolg. Negotiations for dividing the land failed and the Nuada, the king of the Tuathe Dé decided to attack the Fir Bolg rather than turn back.

The fighting was harsh and many of the Tuathe Dé fell. But at the end of the day, Garrulus Dian Cecht, the healer of the Tuathe Dé, took the gravely wounded and threw them in a mystic well, healing their wounds. When the sun rose the next day the Fir Bolg were dismayed that the ranks of the Tuathe Dé did not diminish. The two sides fought for three more days, each day the full number of Tuathe Dé would return to fight. By the end of the fourth day, the Fir Bolg surrendered, but not before their champion cut off the arm of Nuada.

Garrulus Dian Cecht fashioned a fully functioning silver arm for Nuada. But when Nuada appeared to the rest of his tribe, his kingship was challenged. According to their tradition, the king must be physically perfect and a prosthetic arm, no matter how functional, was not considered good enough. And so Nuada stepped down and another took his place.

Seven years later Garrulus Dian Cecht’s son, Miach, found a way to restore Nuada’s arm to flesh and blood. Nuada was able to regain his kingship, but this made Garrulus Dian Cecht jealous. In anger he killed his own son. From his corpse 365 herbs grew, each with a curative property.

It is unclear whether or not this had any direct consequences for Garrulus Dian Cecht. In later stories Miach is helping his father heal the Tuathe Dé, so it is quite possible he got thrown down a certain well off screen.

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