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In Irish origin legends, Míl Espáine or Míl Espáne (later pseudo-Latinised as Milesius; also Miled/Miledh) is the ancestor of the final inhabitants of Ireland, the "sons of Míl" or Milesians, who represent the vast majority of the Irish Gaels.

Míl is very much the product of Latin Christian scholarship. His name represents an Irish version of Latin Miles Hispaniae, meaning "Soldier of Hispania", which is attested in a passage (§ 13) in the 9th-century pseudo-history Historia Brittonum ("The History of the Britons"). The work offers an account of how Ireland was successively taken by settlers from Spain, among them Partholom, Nimeth and the "three sons of a Spanish soldier" (tres filii militis Hispaniae).[1] As A.G. van Hamel has suggested, the status of Spain as the land of origin can be traced back to Isidore of Seville, who in the introduction to his history of the Goths, Vandals and Suebi had elevated Spain to the "mother of all races".[2] A further explanation may lie in the mistake made by some classical geographers in locating Ireland closely opposite Spain. For instance, the Lebar Gabála (§ 100) recounts that from Bregon's Tower, the Milesian Íth was able to see right across the sea to Ireland.[3]

His given name was Golam or Galamh. He served as a soldier in Scythia and Egypt, before remembering a prophecy that his descendants would rule Ireland. He set off to the west, getting as far as Iberia (the Roman Hispania) where he fought several battles before dying, never seeing Ireland himself.

His wife Scota and his uncle Íth, who had spied Ireland from a tower, sailed to Ireland where Íth was killed by the Tuatha Dé Danann. When his body was brought back to Iberia, Míl's eight sons and Íth's nine brothers invaded Ireland and defeated the Tuatha Dé Danann.

He figures prominently in the genealogies of John O'Hart, being the common ancestor of all the Irish.

Milesius died in Iberia before he could reach the Isle of Destiny. His wife Scota went to Ireland with their eight sons. Due to some terrible storms (attributed to the magic of the Tuatha Dé Danann who already lived in Ireland) most of Milesius' sons died when they tried to land.

Contents

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Carey, Irish National Origin Legend, pp. 5-6.
  2. ^ Van Hamel, "On Lebor Gábala", p. 173.
  3. ^ Hellmuth, "Míl Espáine"

References

Further reading

  • Tochomlod mac Miledh a hEspain i nErind ("The Progress of the Sons of Míl from Spain to Ireland"), ed. and tr. M.E. Dobbs (1937). "Tochomlad mac Miledh a hEspain i nErind: no Cath Tailten?". Études Celtiques 2: 50-91. 
  • The Milesian Invasion of Ireland, ed. and tr. Hull, Vernam (1931-1933). "The Milesian Invasion of Ireland". ZCP 19: 155-60. 
  • Carey, John (1995). "Native Elements in Irish Pseudo-History". in Doris Edel. Cultural Identity and Cultural Integration: Ireland and Europe in the Early Middle Ages. Dublin: Four Courts. pp. 45-60. 
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