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In Irish mythology Partholón was the leader of the second group of people to settle in Ireland, the first to arrive after the biblical Flood. They arrived in 2680 BC according to the chronology of the Annals of the Four Masters, 2061 BC according to Seathrún Céitinn's chronology, and the time of Abraham according to Irish synchronic historians.
Partholon was the son of Sera, the king of Greece, and fled his homeland after murdering his father and mother. He lost his left eye in the attack on his parents. Accompanied with his wife, Dealgnaid, their three sons, Sláinge (1), Rudraige (1) and Laiglinne, and their wives Nerba, Cichba and Cerbnad, along with a thousand followers, he set off from Greece, sailed via Sicily, round Spain, and arrived in Ireland from the west, having travelled for seven years. On 14 May, a Tuesday, they landed at Kenmare in West Kerry.
When they arrived there was only one plain, three lakes and nine rivers in Ireland. Partholón cleared four more plains, and seven more lakes erupted from the ground. He defeated Cíocal and the Fomorians at the Battle of Mag Ithe.
They settled for a while on an island in the middle of Lough Erne, which they called Saimher after a lap-dog that Partholón had killed out of jealousy of his wife. While her husband was out hunting, Dealgnaid had had an affair with her attendant, Todhga, and when challenged was unrepentant, saying, "is it possible for a woman to be near honey, or a child next to new milk, or a cat smell fresh meat, or a workman see sharp tools, or a man and woman be close in private, without meddling the one with the other?" In anger Partholon killed her dog. This is recounted as the first jealousy in Ireland.
Partholón died on Senmag, the "old plain", near modern Tallaght, after 30 years in Ireland. The rest of his people died 120 years later from pestilence. This plague took hold and laid waste to five thousand men and four thousand women in one week in the month of May. Only one man, Tuan, survived. Through a series of animal transformations he survived into historical times and told his story to a Christian saint.
The story seems to reflect Irish prehistory, in broad outline at least. Partholón's people brought ploughs and oxen, dairy farming, husbandry, houses and ale, and are said to have buried their dead in "long graves" in "stone heaps". This corresponds with the Neolithic farmers who arrived in Ireland around the 3rd millennium BC and buried their dead in long barrows derived from the rock-cut tombs of Sicily and southern Italy. Although this is said to be the first settlement after the Flood, the Fomorians were already there, living on fish and fowl like the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic. However the name 'Partholón' is not native and is probably a late addition, borrowed from a 'Bartholomaeus' who appears in the Christian pseudohistories of St. Jerome and Isidore of Seville.
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