In a time long past remembering, the ancient
race of the Tuatha De Dannen
yielded before the rule of an race older still, that of the Fomorians
. The most powerful of these relics of creation was their chief, Balor
of the Strong Blows, a cyclops
whose very glance killed
Balor had a grandson who was to prove his bane. The boy was the child of a secret union between Balor's daughter - who possessed the human beauty seen in some Fomorians - and a warrior of the Tuatha. When Balor discovered the child, he had him cast into the sea, for it was prophesised that he would meet his end at the hands of his own grandson. But the child was rescued by chiefs of the Tuatha and reared in secret for fear of Fomorian wrath.
When grown to a man, he presented himself to the Tuatha King in Ireland. He was a warrior, a poet, a harper, a sorcerer, a physician, a brass-worker and a smith. There was no creative skill known then that he did not possess. Moreover, it was said that his face was like a god's. The young man was called Lugh of the Long Hand because of his strength, and he was made champion of the Tuatha.
The new champions first step towards freedom was to murder the tribute gatherers of the Fomorians. A twisted and frightening host, he slew all save nine. Those nine he sent to Balor, to tell of what had happened and who had done the deed. Then he began the work of mustering the armies of the Tuatha for the battle that must come.
The battle was met on the plain of Mag Tured, in the Connacht region of Ireland. The fighting lasted for days, and the slaughter was terrible. "Many comely men fell there in the stall of death," wrote a chronicler, "Pride and shame were there side by side and hardiness and red anger, and there was blood on the white skin of young fighting men. And the dashing of spear against shield, and sword against sword, and the shouting of the fighters and the whistling of spears and the rattling of scabbards was like thunder through the battle. And many slipped in the blood that was under their feet, and they fell, striking their heads against one another; and the river carried away bodies of friends and enemies together."
Finding his grandfather at long last, Lugh issued a challenge. At the instant that Balor's guides lifted the lid of his terrible eye, Lugh cast his spear, flying through Balor's skull and into the Fomorians behind, carrying with it fragments of the deadly eye and an arching spout of blood. And every creature the exploding eye touched or the blood spattered died screaming. Leaderless, the Fomorians were routed and fled, and in the end only four members of that great army survived.