I seek the land of Ireland.
Coursing be the fruitful sea,
Fruitful the stacked highland,
Stacked the showery wood,
Showery the river of cataracts,
Of cataracts the lake of pools,
Of pools the hill of a well,
Of a well of a people of assemblies.
—From The Book of Invasions
Long before the potato famine, before the Book of Kells was made, before St. Patrick arrived, even before the Romans glimpsed its shores, Ireland was a contested place. Several peoples were lured there by its thick forests, bright green fields, and swift-flowing rivers, including the godlike Tuatha Dé Danann and the monstrous Formorians. The battles, marriages, quests, and migrations of these peoples are remembered in the earliest Irish myths, which are as full of strange magics and uncanny mysteries as the Giant’s Causeway and the valley of Glendalough.