Dian Cecht in Celtic Mythology

The role of Dian Cecht among the Tuatha De Danaan is that of a healer and craftsman. While this seemingly disparate combination of abilities initially may seem an odd juxtaposition, it should be remembered that the Tuatha De were thought of as gods who brought various arts and magic to ancient Ireland. In addition, according to some interpretations, Dian Cecht was a craft-god, who also practiced healing through the use of magic. Indeed, this is how he is portrayed in the Book of Invasions (Leabhar Gabhala in Gaelic). There are stories of this god’s contributions, and one of the most prominent of these tales is examined below.

The first legend concerns Dian Cecht’s powers as a smith and craftsman. Nuada, once the leader of the Tuatha De Danaan, had gotten himself into a bit of a bind, in that he had lost his arm in battle. This serious wound had disqualified Nuada from his position as king, and in his absence, the unsavory Bres had stepped in to rule the Tuatha De. Unfortunately, no one was pleased with this change of leadership (except maybe Bres himself), so Dian Cecht created an arm of silver to make Nuada “whole” again. With his new limb, Nuada could once more rule his people, thanks to the industrious Dian Cecht.

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