Emerald Isle

The First Judgement in Ireland

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales from the Mythological Cycle

Justice was done and seen to be done

The Irish Brehon law codes are said to be the earliest fully developed legal system in Europe, but long before the Brehons were laid down there were earlier laws and all were subject to them, from the lowest to the highest!

Women could hold their own property, were not themselves considered property, and could seek an education and improve their own skills in ancient Ireland. Women were warriors, doctors, druids and poets. They ruled provinces and commanded armies.

The Book of Invasions, one of the earliest chronicles of Ireland, tells us how even from the time the first people arrived in the country, women were well regarded and respected.

Partholón was one of the earliest rulers of the country, although he warred savagely with the Fomorians who were there even before his people, and one day he took his warriors and went on an expedition from their island off the north coast, leaving his wife Delgnat behind.

Suffice it to say her eyes wandered and found a pleasing home on a young man called Topa, so before too long she lay with him and they dallied many a day and night while the king was abroad. Even their insolence extended to drinking from his golden cup through his golden straw!

Eventually Partholón returned and the first thing he did was call for his cup and straw, for a piercing thirst was on him. Taking a sip he found out immediately what had been going on for he knew well the taste of his wife's lips on the straw, but not those of Topa!

Furious at his betrayal, he went to Topa and cut the head clean off him, but that wasn't enough, for he also killed Delgnat's precious hound Saimer.

When word of this deed spread, the people judged that Partholón had done his wife wrong, acting excessively, and caused her more harm than she had caused him, for although his actions against Topa were justified, the dog was a different matter. The Brehons gathered and decided that she was due restitution, and so they granted her the island upon which she had lain with Topa, formerly Partholón's fastness.

She named the island Inis Saimer after her beloved dog, which means Saimer's island, and so it is called today.

"And that, without deceit, is the first judgement in Ireland, so that thence, with very noble judgement, it is the right of his wife against Partholón"

Inis Saimer is marked on the map below!

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