Leabhar Gabahála
The Book of the Conquests of Ireland

The Recension of Mícheál Ó Cléirigh
MS. 23K32, RIA
Ed. and Trans. R.A.S. Macalister and Eoin Mac Neill
(Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Company - 1916).


7. Now Cesair, daughter of Bith son of Noe, was the first who found Ireland after the beginning of the world, forty days before the flood, in the year of the age of the world, 2242. Three men and fifty maidens were with her. For this reason they came thither, a-fleeing from the flood ; for God said to Noe, son of Lamech, that he should make an ark for himself, for his sons Sem, Cam, and Japhet, and for their wives Cova, Olla, Oliva, and Olivana, in hope of saving them(selves) from the wave-roar of the flood which He should pour on the earth, to destroy and to annihilate its inhabitants at large, on account of the many sins of the children of Adam ; except them only, for these eight persons were free from sin.

8. God permitted ( = commanded) Noe to bring a pair of each sort of unlawful animal into the ark, for the sake of propagation from them after the flood ; and three pairs of lawful animals, for the sake of sacrifice and of propagation from them likewise. He taught him the shape of the ark with the furniture which was necessary for it, and what he should bring therein of everything that would be required for the persons and animals besides.

9. When Bith, Finntan, and Ladhra, the men who accompanied Cesair in coming to Ireland later, heard that it was destined that a flood should come on the world, and that all the various races of the world should be drowned, save the people of the ark, they were terrified on that account. Each of them questioned Noe in turn as to whether he would let him go with him into the ark till the flood should be spent. Noe said that he had no power to let any one into it but such as God Himself had ordained, "for it was no ship of robbers, nor was it a den of thieves."

10. Then they and Cesair take counsel to know what device they should contrive to save themselves from the flood.
"Give submission to me," said the girl Cesair, "and I shall give you counsel."
"It shall be thine," said they.
"Take an idol to you," said she, "worship it, and forsake the God of Noe."

11. They agreed to that. They take an idol to themselves, they worship it, and they forsake the Lord at the advice of Cesair. This is the instruction it gave them thereafter, to make a ship, and that they should go on the sea to Ireland. They do so ; but neither they nor their idol knew when the flood should come.

12. Three men and fifty maidens went in that ship with Cesair. On Tuesday, so far as regards the day of the week, they went therein. Then they rowed from Meroe Island, a-fleeing from the flood, to the Tyrrhene Sea. Eighteen days they had on the Caspian Sea. Twenty days thence till they reached the Cimmerian Sea. One day till they reached Asia Minor, between Syria and the Tyrrhene Sea. Twenty days they had thence to the Alps. Eighteen days from the Alps to Spain. Nine days from Spain to Ireland. A Saturday they reached Ireland, in the fifteenth day of the moon ; and the place where they took harbour was at Dun na mBarc in Corco Duibhne. They were joyful then at reaching Ireland, for they hoped that whatsoever place where came not evil nor sin, and that was free from reptiles and monsters till then, would be safe from the flood ; for prophets had showed them before they came from the East that Ireland was on that wise.

13. Then, from there, they arrived at Miledach, which is called Bun Suainmhe to-day ; that is the Confluence of the Suir, the Nore, and the Barrow. Another name for it is Comar na dTri nUisce, from the meeting or coming together of the three rivers. The three men aforesaid divide the fifty maidens there. Finntan took seventeen wives, with Cesair. He gave Bith seventeen, with Bairfhind ; and gave Ladhra the sixteen others, and he complained about them.

14. It was of the division of the women and of their names that this was said —

1 A fair division we divided between us,
I and Bith and Ladhra bold :
Our peace, sensibly was it contrived,
About the fifty splendid maidens.

2 Seventeen I took, with Cesair ;
Lot, and Luam, and Mael, and Marr,
Fuirechair, Femmarr, Faible, Forall,
Cipir, Tarriam, Tamall, Tam,
Abla, Alia, Raigne, Sille,
That is the tale that we were there.

3 Seventeen Bith took, with Bairfhind,
Sealla, Delia, Daoibh, Addeoss,
Foda, Trage, Nena, Buanna,
Tamall, Tuama, Natar, Leos,
Fodarc, Rodarc, Dos, Clos, be it heard —
Those were our people further.

4 Sixteen thereafter with Ladhra,
Labra, Bonna, Abloir, Ail,
Gothiam, Grimoc, Aice, Inge,
Roorc, Rinde, Iuchar, Ain,
Urrand, Esba, Sinne, Somall,
Those were our fair company.

15. Ladhra went with his women to Ard Ladhrann, so that he died of excess of women, and he is the first dead of Ireland. His women went after his death to Cesair to know what they should do. A messenger is sent from Cesair to Bith about the division of the women. Bith comes to Finntan, to know his advice about the same matter. This is the conclusion they reached, to divide the women belonging to Ladhra in two, between them, so that each of them had twenty-five women thereafter.

16. Bith went with his women then to the north of Ireland, so that he died in Sliabh Betha, and the women bury him there in the stone-heap of Sliabh Betha, so that from him it is named. The women come back again to the place where they had left Cesair and Finntan.

17. Finntan escapes after that, a-fleeing before the women, over Bun Suainmhe, over Sliabh Cua, to Cenn Febrat mic Sin, left-handwise from Shannon eastward, to Tul Tuinne over Loch Dergderc.

18. Cesair goes to Cul Cesrach in Connacht, and her women with her ; and there her heart burst in the girl for the absence of her husband and the death of her father. The women bury her body there, so that from her are named Cul Cesra and Carn Cesra.

19. Then the first age of the world's ages was finished, that is from Adam to the flood, save seven days only. The flood overtook the women then, so that they were drowned.

20. So that of the tales of Cesair and her people this song was made —

1 Forty days of the strenuous journey,
was Ireland found before the flood ;
Cesair found it, fair of colour,
(with) the people of her bright-skinned, ship.

2 Cesair, wherefore came she,
with fifty-three persons well-complexioned ?
Tuesday she set out, harsh the omen,
from Meroe Island.

3 For this she came, glorious the story,
from Meroe Island,
over the Tyrrhene Sea without heaviness —
fleeing from the flood.

4 She was, as the bards relate,
on the side of every very lofty coast,
eighteen days in a ship — it was no reproach —
on the surface of the great Caspian Sea.

5 Twenty days from the crooked Caspian Sea
to the Cimmerian Sea of protection (?) ;
A day had she to Asia Minor — a long space westward —
between Syria and the Tyrrhene Sea.

6 Twenty days from Asia Minor
sailing to the glorious Alps,
in eighteen she came hither,
to the lofty corner of Spain.

7 Thence to noble Ireland,
in the space of nine days from Spain,
a Saturday, on the clear fifteenth,
she came to acquire territory.

8 Three men, fifty tall maidens,
that was her tale by a barbarous law ;
a wind drove them — terrible the manner —
to Ireland on a passage.

9 The three well-complexioned men divided
the fifty maidens in three ;
seventeen women for Fiontain without resting,
seventeen took Bith of plaited hair.

10 Sixteen took Ladhra the ample,
he thought that small, not great ;
of excess of women, an evil action,
Ladhra died in Ard Ladhrann.

11 The other two divided thereafter
his sixteen women in two parts ;
they were the first men, with stately freedom,
who slept with women in Ireland.

12 Bith of mountains took twenty-five women
to the north of Ireland's island ;
to the mountain over the noble sea,
whereabout came his latter end.

13 Thence is Sliabh Betha,
from the death of the hero with much outcry ;
to the women great was the labour,
his burial in the mountain.

14 Finntan escapes before the women
over Miledach — it was a placid slumber —
over Bun Suainmhe, with twining. ***(?)
over Sliabh Cua, over Cenn Febrat.

15 Keeping in front of them (?) — a saying without deceit —
came Finntan son of Bochra ;
till he reached, after loss of his strength,
Tul Tuinne over Loch Dergderc.

16 After that came Cesair the fair
to Cul Cesra in Connacht,
so that there she heard, after sleep,
the death of her father absent from her.

17 The lady screamed sharply aloud
after her husband, for the death of her father,
so that there ruptured — it was a great sorrow —
her heart in her very middle.

18 The women buried for friendship
the noble body of the lady ;
in the stone-heap over the fruitful Boyle
so that her name adhered from lofty Cesair.

19 These in the order of proceeding
are their deaths, their adventures ;
There was not but a single week
from them till there were forty [days complete].

création : 20/11/2009

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