The Dagda was one of the most important Deities of An Tuatha Dé Danann. The literal meaning of Dagda is ‘good god’ but he was also known as ‘Eochaid Ollathair, which means ‘All-father’.
He is depicted as a giant with a ferocious appetite which equalled his wisdom and generosity. He was considered the protector of the tribe and was said to have the ability to control almost everything including time, seasons, weather, agriculture, fertility, life-stock, land quality and the harvesting of crops. Above all, he was the symbol of strength and integrity which were the most important aspects of the Tuatha dé Danann.
The Dagda is said to have been an immensely powerful figure who owned a mighty club, a magical cauldron and an enchanted harp. The club had the ability to kill several men with one blow on one end but could return them to life with the other end. The Cauldron of the Dagda was known as the ‘Undry’ and was said to be bottomless with an endless supply of food. He also owned countless number of fruit trees that were constantly productive and two pigs for food. He had a beautiful harp called ‘Uaithne’, also known as ‘the four angled music’. It was a richly ornamented harp made of oak, which, when the Dagda played it, put the seasons in their correct order. It was also said to play three magical strains – joy, sorrow and slumber that he used to lull his enemies into submission.
The Dagda is often portrayed in the literature as a large, overweight man with a round, fat belly and usually wearing a tunic that barely covered his rear end. It has been suggested that this oafish and crude depiction was intended to discredit him and make him seem ungodlike by the Christan monks. who were introducing Christianity to Ireland. Other sources such as Coir Anmann describe him as ‘a beautiful God of the heathens … An Tuatha Dé Danann worshipped him … for he was an earth God to them because of the greatness of his magical power.’