In Irish mythology, Cessair (also spelt Cesair and Ceasair; anglicized Kesair) was, according to the Book of Invasions, leader of the first inhabitants of Ireland before the Biblical Flood. The story is an attempt at the Christianisation of a legend that pre-dates the conversion, but may alternatively be the product of post-conversion pseudohistory.
She was daughter of Noah's son Bith and his wife Birren. According to legend, when her father was denied a place in the ark by Noah, Cessair advised him to build an idol. This idol advised them that they could escape the Deluge in a ship. Cessair, along with three men, Bith, Fintan and Ladra, and fifty women, set off and sailed for more than seven years. They landed in Ireland at Dún na mBarc (Donemark, on Bantry Bay in County Cork), forty days before the Flood, in Age of the World 2242 according to the Annals of the Four Masters, or 2361 BC according to Seathrún Céitinn's chronology.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2010)|
The three men shared out the women as wives between them. Cessair and sixteen others went with Fintan, seventeen, including Barann, went with Bith and sixteen, including Balba, with Ladra, but Ladra died and his wives were shared between Fintan and Bith. Then Bith died. Fintan found himself with all the women, and fled. Six days before the Flood, Cessair died of a broken heart at Cuil Ceasrach in Connacht. She is said to be buried at the summit of Cnoc Meadha, six miles south-west of Tuam, County Galway (Lynch, 2006).
The rest of Cessair's people were wiped out in the Flood, with the exception of Fintan, who turned into a salmon. After a series of animal transformations he eventually became a man again and told his people's story.
A variant version of the legend, apparently contained in the Book of Druimm Snechta, says that it was Banba who came to Ireland with three men and fifty women, two hundred and forty years before the Flood (2490 BC by his chronology). Her people lived in Ireland for forty years and died of plague. In the usual scheme Banba is numbered among the Tuatha Dé Danann, who lived in Ireland much later.
Seathrún Céitinn also refers to a legend that three fishermen from Spain, Capa, Laigne and Luasad, were driven to Ireland by a storm a year before the Flood. They liked it, so they went home to get their wives, returned shortly before the Flood, and were drowned.
|Mythical invasions of Ireland
AFM 2958 BC 
FFE 2361 BC 
- John O'Donovan (ed) (1848–1851), Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters Vol 1
- D. Comyn & P. S. Dineen (eds) (1902–1914), The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating
- James MacKillop (1998), Dictionary of Celtic Mythology
- Ronan Lynch (2006), The Kirwans of Castlehacket, Co. Galway:History, folklore and mythology in an Irish horseracing family, Four Courts Press, ISBN 1-84682-028-6.
|This page or section lists people that share the same given name. If an internal link led you here, you may wish to change that link to point directly to the intended article.|