Nuada Silverhand was one of the first kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He led the gods to Ireland in the days before memory. He had a magical sword which no enemy could stand against, but once in a battle his right hand was struck from his body. Then he could no longer be king, because in the old days people believed that a king must defend his people with his own body, if need be. But Diancecht, the god of healing, and Credne, the god of silversmiths, made Nuada a new hand out of jointed silver. It was put in the place of his old hand and it worked quite as well, although it glittered in the noonday sun as no hand made of flesh and bone would do. But Diancecht’s son, Miach, thought that he could do even better than a silver hand. He went out to the battlefield and found Nuada’s own hand of flesh. By his skill he fused the hand back upon Nuada’s body – bone to bone, muscle to muscle, nerve to nerve. When Nuada got his own hand back he became king again, and ruled for a long while. In later days the human kings of Ireland were sometimes called the Servants of Nuada
Nuada’s wife was Boann, the goddess of the river Boyne. He has many descendants, including the great ancient warrior Fionn MacCumhaill, or Finn McCool. The old princes of Leinster claimed to be descended from him, as did the Noonan family.
Nuada’s name may mean hunter, or it may mean fisher, or it may mean nothing that we can yet understand. Some have said that he is the same being as Britain’s Fisher King, who was wounded and then healed again. It is true that Nuada was also known in Britain, and was followed by his two dogs as a hunter might be. In Britain he was called Nodens, and he looked after people when they were ill. In the days when Rome ruled the world he had a temple near the Severn River, whose floors and walls were decorated with dolphins and salmon and sea-monsters. Here the sick would come and stay and pray to Nodens to heal them, and they would often leave behind as an offering little figurines in the shape of dogs.