In Irish mythology, Danu is a hypothetical mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann (Old Irish: "The peoples of the goddess Danu"). These were a group of people, who had been exiled from Ireland, and scattered. It is thought that Danu offered them her patronage, under which they succeeded in rebanding, learning new and magical skills, and returning to Ireland in a magical mist. The mist is thought to be the loving embrace of Danu herself. She is seen as having influenced them, nurturing these broken people back to strength, and imparting magic and esoteric wisdom to them.
Danu is the most ancient of the Celtic gods. She was referred to as the mother of the Irish gods, which indicates that she was a mother goddess. In this guise she probably represented the earth and its fruitfulness. Many place names in Ireland are associated with her, most notable the Paps of Anu in Kerry, which resemble the breasts of a large supine female, part of the land. She is the ‘beantuathach’ (farmer), which reinforces the fertility aspect of the goddess. Rivers are associated with her, and represent the fertility and abundance in a land. There is a suggestion that Danu might have had dual characteristics, one being the beneficent, nurturing mother goddess, and another being the strong, malevolent side of the warrior goddess. The root “dan” in ancient Irish means art, skill, poetry, knowledge, and wisdom.