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Banba

In Irish mythology, Banbha, sometimes written as Banba in English, daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was one of the patron goddesses of Ireland. Her husband was Mac Cuill.

With her sisters, Fodla and Ériu, she was part of an important triumvirate of goddesses. When the Milesians arrived from Spain each of the three sisters asked that her name be given to the country. Ériu (Éire) won the argument, but Banbha is still sometimes used as a poetic name for Ireland, much as Albion is for England.

According to Seathrún Céitinn she worshipped Macha, who is also sometimes named as a daughter of Ernmas. The two goddesses may therefore be seen as equivalent. Céitinn also refers to a tradition that Banbha was the first person to set foot in Ireland before the flood, in a variation of the legend of Cessair.

In the ‘Tochomlad mac Miledh a hEspain i nErind: no Cath Tailten’ , it is related that as the Milesians were journeying through Ireland, ‘they met victorious Banba among her troop of faery magic hosts’ on Senna Mountain, the stony mountain of Mes. A footnote identifies this site as Slieve Mish in Dingle, County Kerry. The soil of this region is a non-leptic podzol If the character of Banbha originated in an earth-goddess, non-leptic podzol may have been the particular earth-type of which she was the deification.

The LÉ Banba (CM11), a ship in the Irish Naval Service (now decommissioned), was named after her.

Initially, she could have been a goddess of war as well as a fertility goddess.

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