The Tuatha De Danaan and Ugaine Mór
Early Irish annalists referred to the Ó Nualláins (the O’Nolans) as the “ancient ones of Leinster” . Oral tradition further holds that they were descendants of the Tuatha De Danaan, the mythical Tribe of Dan, who, in their early wanderings, gave their name to the “Danube” river and the country of “Denmark”, reaching ancient Ireland sometime before the 4th century BC when Ugaine Mór, a High King of Ireland and, according to early genealogies, an ancestor of the Ó Nualláins, lived.
According to historical writings and recent archeological discoveries, the homeland of the Tuatha De Danaan was Scythia, a vast region extending northwards from the Black Sea and covering most of the Ukraine. Modern-day archaeology further states that the Scythians had a thriving agricultural economy supplying wheat to the Greek empire in exchange for wine and other goods. They were the first to domesticate the horse and perhaps even the first to use the horse in warfare. Already in the pre-Christian era, Scythian archers on horseback played a major role in military campaigns and were known throughout the Greek empire which extended into the Black Sea and all around the Mediterranean Sea. The Scythians were also renowned for their metallurgical skills, creating exquisite pieces of gold jewellery, tableware and even gold ornaments for their horses.
Based upon the foregoing, it is believed that the ancestors of the Nolans reached Ireland by a process of gradual seaward migration through the Black Sea, through the Mediterranean Sea and then finally into the Atlantic Ocean to Spain and Ireland. This is consistent with more recent archeological discoveries which suggest that the influx of Celtic peoples into Ireland was mainly through sea routes as opposed to land routes through Europe. Strong support for this theory is found in the simple fact that the celtic dialects of Ireland are known to be older than those of Britain and Europe.
Seaward migration would also be consistent with what is known about Ugaine Mór, the believed 4th century BC ancestor of the Nolans and contemporary of Alexander the Great, who ventured out by sea as far as the Mediterranean Sea, landing his forces in Africa and, from there, attacking Sicily then under Greek control.