Ireland existed long before people came to its shores, an island on the fringe of the Otherworld, the last stop before a traveller would come to the three times fifty islands of the Otherworld.
Cesaire was the first to come to Ireland. She led her followers; three times fifty women of art and skill, along with her father, her brother and her husband, through all the known world to come to this new land that she had dreamed of. The land welcomed them, new rivers and lakes burst forth and Cesaire and her people cleared away a new plain to live on. But they did not live long in Ireland, though some say their end came with the flood and others say that they faded away for want of men to give the women children, there came a day when only Fintan, the husband of Cesaire, was left.
Fintan learned the magic of changing his shape, and could take on the form of any animal in Ireland, so that time had no effect on him, and he could watch all who came after.
Next came Partholon, a giant from Greece, who was fleeing a terrible curse. He had brought the curse on himself when he killed his own parents, and he thought he might be able to escape it if he ran far enough away. Partholon’s people battled the Fomorians, sea-raiders from Tory Island in the North, for dominion of Ireland, and when they won their magical contest, four new lakes burst forth from the land. Fintan Mac Bochra made himself known to them, and helped them set up in Ireland. They cleared three plains, started agriculture and set legal precedents, and prospered for a time. But Partholon’s curse caught up with them at last, and all his descendants were wiped out by a plague, leaving Fintan Mac Bochra alone once again.
After a time, people came to Ireland again. Now came the followers of Nemed, in thirty ships with sixty people in each. On their way to Ireland, they passed by a tower of gold, and in their greed, they tried to capture it. But a storm blew up, and blew them away from the tower. They, too, had to battle the Fomorians, and defeat them to win the land. When they won, Nemed, remembering the wonderful tower of gold, made the Fomorians build for him a beautiful fortress. It was so beautiful, that Nemed killed the craftsmen who worked on it, so that they could never build its equal for anyone else. The Fomorians had their revenge after Nemed died, and put terrible taxes on his people, demanding a third of everything they produced, including their children. In desperation, the Nemedians rose up, and took the Fomorian fortress on Tory Island. But the Fomorians had a close relationship with the sea, and when they asked, it rose up and overwhelmed the Nemedians, killing all but two small groups.
One group went North, into the unknown, magical lands, and the other went East, to the Mediterranean. There they did not fare well, and were made slaves and labourers, and were called the Fir Bolg, which means the men of the sacks, for the heavy loads they would have to carry for their masters all day long. The Fir Bolg kept their spirits up through generations, by telling each other stories of Ireland, their homeland, till they one day managed to escape from oppression and return.
The Fir Bolg understood how power can corrupt, so they designed a political system in Ireland, where power would not be concentrated into any one place. Instead, the land was divided: four provinces, and each to be ruled by a King, and a fifth province at Tara, where the High King would rule from, and where each province could send their wisest and most skilful delegates to meet as Irishmen, and advise the High King, and take council from his druids at Uisneach.
Fintan Mac Bochra watched all of this happening, and approved. He introduced himself to the Fir Bolg, and helped them fight off the Fomorians.
Only thirty-seven years passed before a new race came to Ireland. They arrived in a mist, and when the mist cleared, the Fir Bolg saw a beautiful tower, and the ships of the new arrivals all in flames. They met these new arrivals, the Tuatha de Dannan, the people of the goddess, and learned that they were all related: these were the remnants of the people of Nemed who had gone North. But where the Fir Bolg had suffered greatly, the Tuatha de Dannan had prospered, journeying through the four magical cities, gathering enchanted treasures of great power, developing their wisdom and skill. The difference between them was notable: the Fir Bolg were short, dark and hairy, with crude weapons, and the Tuatha de Dannan tall, golden and beautiful, with light and brightly-shining weapons.
Peace was proposed, and the dividing of Ireland equally between the two groups, but the Fir Bolg wanted to fight, and so fight they did, on the Plains of Moy Tura. Fintan fought beside the Fir Bolg, and though they were defeated, they struck a blow against the Tuatha de Dannan, crippling their king, Nuada. The Fir Bolg were given the province of Connaught, but the Tuatha de Dannan had to find a new king, as no one, not even the wonderful Nuada, could reign if he was crippled. They elected Breas, son of a Fomorian father and a Tuatha de Dannan mother, in hopes that he would unite the two races, but their optimism was not rewarded. Dreadful battles followed, until at last another son of the two races, called Lugh, defeated the Fomorians in the Second Battle of Moy Tura and Nuada, with his arm magically restored, was able to take the kingship again.
For generations, the people of the goddess ruled Ireland, building on all that had gone before them. There came a time when the High King died, and his three sons were quarrelling over which of them should be king after him, and on the brink of civil war. They asked advice from a wanderer, an old man called Ith who had seen Ireland from the top of a tower in Northern Spain. Ith advised them to follow their own laws, and praised the land all about him. But he praised it so well that the Tuatha de Dannan grew nervous, thinking he was looking with the eye of a conqueror, and they killed him with no more provocation than that.
Word of this crime came back to Ith’s son, Mil, and Mil set out on a voyage of revenge, taking his sons with him. Though he died en route, the Sons of Mil followed through, countering the powerful magics of the Tuatha de Dannan with the power of their own druid, Amergin, who sang to the land and promised to honour it. Truces were made and then broken, and at last the Sons of Mil faced the Tuatha de Dannan in battle on the Plains of Tailtiu. The people of the goddess were defeated, their kings and queens were slaughtered, and many more were slaughtered in the rout, as their defeated army was driven all the way to the sea. The survivors decided not to stay, where they would have to pay taxes and tributes to their conquerors, so the people of the goddess retreated under the hills of Ireland, to the rivers and wild places to live out their immortal lives in peace, away from the sons of Mil and all their kind.
Fintan Mac Bochra threw his lot in with these new people, adapting to this new group as he had adapted to all the others, advising the Sons of Mil on the traditions of this land, and how to keep them best. He would change his shape now and then, to salmon, hawk, and deer, and he watched Ireland change until the five thousand years of his life came to an end.