First Irish Colonists

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack



Chapter III.

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First Colonists—The Landing of Ceasair, before the Flood—Landing of Partholan, after the Flood, at Inver Scene—Arrival of Nemedh—The Fomorians—Emigration of the Nemenians—The Firbolgs—Division of Ireland by the Firbolg Chiefs—The Tuatha De Dananns—Their Skill as Artificers—Nuada of the Silver Hand—The Warriors Sreng and Breas—The Satire of Cairbré—Termination of the Fomorian Dynasty.

[A.M. 1599.]

Letter W

E shall, then, commence our history with such accounts as we can find in our annals of the pre-Christian colonization of Erinn. The legends of the discovery and inhabitation of Ireland before the Flood, are too purely mythical to demand serious notice. But as the most ancient MSS. agree in their account of this immigration, we may not pass it over without brief mention.

The account in the Chronicum Scotorum runs thus:—

"Kal. v. f. 1. 10. Anno mundi 1599.

"In this year the daughter of one of the Greeks came to Hibernia, whose name was h-Erui, or Berba, or Cesar, and fifty maidens and three men with her. Ladhra was their conductor, who was the first that was buried in Hibernia."[6] The Cin of Drom Snechta is quoted in the Book of Ballymote as authority for the same tradition.[7] The Book of Invasions also mentions this account as derived from ancient sources. MacFirbis, in the Book of Genealogies, says: "I shall devote the first book to Partholan, who first took possession of Erinn after the Deluge, devoting the beginning of it to the coming of the Lady Ceasair," &c. And the Annals of the Four Masters: "Forty days before the Deluge, Ceasair came to Ireland with fifty girls and three men—Bith, Ladhra, and Fintain their names."[8] All authorities agree that Partholan was the first who colonized Ireland after the Flood. His arrival is stated in the Chronicum Scotorum to have taken place "in the sixtieth year of the age of Abraham."[9] The Four Masters say: "The age of the world, when Partholan came into Ireland, 2520 years."[1]

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[6] Hibernia. —Chronicum Scotorum, p. 3.

[7] Tradition.—O'Curry, p. 13.

[8] Names.—Four Masters, O'Donovan, p. 3.

[9] Abraham,—Chronicum Scotorum, p. 5.

[1] Years.—Four Masters, p. 5.

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