Long ago in Northern Africa, a woman named Cesaire had a prophetic dream. She dreamed that a great flood would come and wipe out all her people. She consulted with her grandfather, a priest of Egypt, and he advised her to build an ark and sail west, till she came to a land that had never been inhabited by man, which would not be touched by the flood.
Cesaire built her ark, and started to gather followers. Three times fifty women, with all sorts of skills and knowledge, all that they’d need to make their way in the new land., came to her. So many, that Cesaire had to build three arks to carry them all. The only men to come with her were her father, Bith, her brother, Ladra the pilot, and a young man named Fintan Mac Bochra, who became Cesaire’s husband.
Cesaire and her followers set sail. They sailed for seven years, crossing all over the known world, from the Nile all the way to Asia Minor and the Caspian Sea, across the Mediterranean. They sailed up rivers as far as the Alps, and lost two of their three ships along the way. At last, from a tower in northern Spain, Cesaire saw the coast of Ireland in the distance and knew their journey was nearly at an end. They landed in Ireland, in the harbour of Corca Dhuibhne in Kerry. Cesaire jumped onto the land first, because she was the leader, and so she became the first person ever to set foot on Ireland. Fintan Mac Bochra was the first man. All the others landed safely, except Ladra the pilot who took a wound from an oar to his thigh.
Now that they’d arrived they realized that they were going to have to populate the island, but they only had three men among fifty women! So they decided to divide into three groups, with one man to each group. Noah’s son Bith got 16 women because he was getting on in years and wasn’t as virile as he used to be, and the other two men got 17 women each.
They lived happily together for a while, but unfortunately Bith son of Noah was unable to cope with the task he’d been given and he died – the first death in Ireland – so his 16 women were divided between the other two men. Now Ladra had never quite recovered from the wound he’d taken when they landed, and he quickly succumbed. Now all the women looked to Fintan to populate Ireland.
Poor Fintan, being just one man among fifty women, was completely overwhelmed by this task and ran away and hid in the mountains. Cesaire, deeply in love with him, died of a broken heart. Fintan hid himself away in a cave, where he became a shaman, shapeshifting to take on the forms of all the different animals in Ireland, and living in this way for five thousand years.
One by one, Cesaire’s followers died, of disease, or old age, or other hardships, and over time the numbers dwindled. Only one woman survived, a great warrior woman called Banba, who sometimes had liaisons with Fintan Mac Bochra through the years, when he was in human form.