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Cesair 1,


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1 Cessair, Ceasair, Cesara, Kesair. Leader or queen of the first invasion of Ireland in the Mythological Cycle. According to the curious reckoning of the Lebor Gabála [Book of Invasions], an attempt to mix Irish memory with biblical history, Cesair is a daughter of Bith, a son of Noah, and Birren who escapes to Inis Fáil (Ireland) just before the Flood; she has left her homeland in disgrace because she was denied admission to the Ark. An alternate version has her as the daughter of Banba, one of the eponymous goddesses of Ireland. She lands in Ireland at Dún na mBarc (Co. Cork) on Bantry Bay with fifty women and three men, forty days before the Flood. The three men divide the women among them, hoping to populate Ireland. Two of the men, including her helmsman, Ladra, die, leaving the full task to Fintan mac Bóchra, a patron of poets, who feels inadequate to it and flees in the form of a salmon. Abandoned, Cesair dies of a broken heart. According to the text, the origin of many obscure place-names may be traced to members of her retinue. Cesair is sometimes used as a poetic synonym for Ireland. See John Carey, ‘Origin and Development of the Cesair Legend’, Éigse, 22 (1987), 37–48.

2 Daughter of the ‘King of the Franks’ who marries Úgaine Mór and bears him twenty-five children.

Subjects: Religion


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