History Of Ireland Part 4 of 6

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Tuathal Teachtmhar son of Fiachaidh Fionnoladh, son of Fearadhach Fionn Feachtnach, son of Criomhthann Nia Nar, son of Lughaidh Riabh nDearg, son of the three Finneamhnas, son of Eochaidh Feidhlioch of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty years. He was called Tuathal Teachtmhar, as every good came in his time. Now Fiachaidh Fionnoladh left no issue but one son, who was called Tuathal Teachtmhar; and that son was in the womb of Eithne daughter of the king of Alba, wh escaped by flight from the destruction of Magh Cru in Connaught, when the Athachthuaith slew Fiachaidh Fionnoladh and the free tribes of Ireland. And after the birth of Tuathal in Alba he was brought up and educated in politeness there till he had reached the age of twenty-five years; and during that time Ireland had been in adversity; and the Athachthuaith being in a great difficulty went and consulted their druids as to the cause and origin of the adversity in which Ireland was at that time, and as to the way in which she might be freed from it. The druids replied that the cause of her adversity was that they had acted treacherously towards the kings and the free tribes of Ireland, and added that her wonted prosperity would not come back to Ireland until some one of the descendants of those kings who were slain assumed the sovereignty of the country. And it was about this time that the Athachthuaith heard that there was in Scotiand a son of Fiachaidh Fionnoladh, whose name was Tuathal Teachtmhar; and a large party of the Athachthuaith took counsel together, and they agreed to send envoys to Tuathal to Alba. There were also companies of the remnant of the free races of Ireland, namely, clann an Duinn Deasa of Leinster, Fiachaidh Casan and Fionnbhall his brother, and six hundred pirates with them, devastating Ireland to avenge the treachery of the Athachthuaith towards the kings and free tribes of Ireland.

When Tuathal Teachtmhar heard these tidings, he set out for Ireland with his mother, Eithne daughter of the king of Alba, accompanied by a large host. Tuathal was twenty-five years of age at that time. And they put into port at Iorrus Domhnann, where they met Fiachaidh Casan with his brother. Thence they proceeded to Tara, and there assembled their supporters from all parts of Ireland to meet Tuathal, and they proclaimed him king of Ireland. Eilim son of Connra, who at that time held the sovereignty of Ireland, having been elected by the Athachthuaith after the death of Cairbre Chinn Chait, came and fought the Battle of Aichill against Tuathal. In that battle Eilim and the Athachthuaith were defeated, and himself and the greater part of his army slain. Then Tuathal and his supporters went against the Athachthuaith throughout Ireland, and defeated them in twenty-five battles in Ulster, and twenty-five battles in Leinster, and twenty-five battles in Connaught, and thirty-five battles in Munster.

When Tuathal had won these battles, and rescued the free races of Ireland from the tyranny of the Athachthuaith, he convened the Feis of Tara; as it is customary for every king in the beginning of his reign to convene and bring together a great general assembly to regulate the laws and customs of the country. Then the nobles of the Gael from every province in Ireland came to him, and accepted him as their king, as he had delivered them from the slavery of the serfs and the Athachthuaith; and they pledged themselves by the elements, that they would leave the sovereignty of Ireland to himself, and to his children, as had formerly been promised to Ughaine Mor.

It was then, too, that he was given four portions of the provinces, out of which he made the present Meath, as the peculiar territory of the successive high kings of Ireland. For, although Meath was the name of the territory which is beside Uisneach from the time of the children of Neimhidh to the time of Tuathal, still Meath was not the name of the portions that were taken from the provinces until the time of Tuathal, and he made it into a territory distinct from the provinces.

Now, when Tuathal had put these four parts together and made them into one territory called Meath, he built therein four chief fortresses, that is, a fortress in each of the portions. Accordingly he built Tlachtgha in the portion of Munster which goes with Meath; and it was there the Fire of Tlachtgha was instituted, at which it was their custom to assemble and bring together the druids of Ireland on the eve of Samhain to offer sacrifice to all the gods. It was at that fire they used to burn their victims; and it was of obligation under penalty of fine to quench the fires of Ireland on that night, and the men of Ireland were forbidden to kindle fires except from that fire; and for each fire that was kindled from it in Ireland the king of Munster received a tax of a screaball, or three-pence, since the land on which Tlachtgha is belongs to the part of Munster given to Meath.

On the portion he had acquired from the province of Connaught he built the second fortress, namely Uisneach, where a general meeting of the men of Ireland used to be held, which was called the Convention of Uisneach, and it was at Bealltaine that this fair took place, at which it was their custom to exchange with one another their goods, their wares, and their valuables. They also used to offer sacrifice to the chief god they adored, who was cailed Beil; and it was their wont to lighttwo fires in honour of Beil in every district in Ireland, and to drive a weakling of each species of cattle that were in the district between the two fires as a preservative to shield them from all diseases during that year; and it is from that fire that was made in honour of Beil that the name of Bealltaine is given to the noble festival on which falls the day of the two Apostles, namely, Philip and James; Bealltaine, that is Beilteine, or the fire of Beil. The horse and the trappings of every chieftain who came to the great meeting of Uisneach were to be given as a tax to the king of Connaught, as the place in which Uisneach is belongs to the part of the province of Connaught given to Meath.

The third fortress which Tuathal built, called Taillte, is in the portion of the province of Ulster joined to Meath; and it was here the fair of Taillte was held, in which the men of Ireland were wont to form alliances of marriage and friendship with one another. And a most becoming custom was observed in that assembly, namely, the men kept apart by themselves on one side, and the women apart by themselves on the other side, while their fathers and mothers were making the contract between them; and every couple who entered into treaty and contract with one another were married, as the poet says:

    1. The men must not approach the women,
      Nor the women approach the fair bright men,
      But every one modestly biding apart
      In the dwelling of the great fair.

Although it was Lughaidh Lamhfhada that first instituted the fair of Taillte as a yearly commemoration of his own foster-mother, Taillte daughter of Maghmor, king of Spain, who was the wife of Eochaidh son of Earc, the last king of the Fir Bolg, as we have said above—now when Taillte had been buried by Lughaidh in that mound he inaugurated the fair of Taillte as a nasadh or commemoration of her; it was for that reason that the name of Lughnasa, that is the gracious nasadh or commemoration, was given to the first day of August, on which is now held the feast of the Chains of Peter—although the mound and fair of Taillte existed from the time of Lughaidh Lamhfhada, still Taillte was not a royal fortress till the time of Tuathal Teachtmhar. Now since the place in which Taillte is belongs to the part that was taken from the province of Ulster, the tax on the fair of Taillte went to the king of Ulster. This was the amount of that tax, namely, an ounce of silver for each couple that got married there.

The fourth royal fortress, Tara, is situated in the part of Leinster given to Meath, and there the Feis of Tara was held, every third year after the sacrifice had been offered to all the gods at Tlachtgha (as we have said) as a prelude to that royal assembly called the Feis of Tara, at which they were wont to institute laws and customs, and to confirm the annals and the records of Ireland, so that the ardollamhs might inscribe all that was approved of them in the Roll of the kings, which was called the Psalter of Tara; and every custom and record that was in Ireland that did not agree with that chief book were not regarded as genuine. We shall not give here in detail the laws or the customs that were severally ordained at the Feis of Tara, for the books of the Breithemhnas Tuaithe are full of them. I shall only give here the custom that was instituted at the Feis of Tara regarding the placing of the nobles and warriors for meals in the banquet-halls when they met for a feast.

There was indeed no doctor of seanchus in Ireland who did not write in the Roll of Tara the names of the nobles who were lords of territories, each according to his rank and title as regulated at the Feis of Tara, and every leader of those bands of warriors who had free quartering for the defence and protection of the lands of Ireland, had his name similarly inscribed by the ollamh; and there was none of these, either territorial lords or leaders of bands of warriors, who was not accompanied by a shield-bearer. Moreover, the banquet halls they had were narrow and long, with tables along the side-walls. Along each of these side-walls there was placed a beam in which there were numerous hooks above the seats on which the company used to sit, with only the breadth of a shield between each two of the hooks, and on these hooks the seancha hung the shields of the nobles and of the warriors before they sat down, each under his own shield, both nobles and warriors. But the territorial lords had the choice of a side, and the leaders of warriors had the other side; the upper end of the hall was occupied by the ollamhs, and the other end by the attendants who waited on the company.

It was also their custom that no one should sit immediately opposite to another, but that all, both territorial lords and leaders of warriors, should have their backs to the wall and sit each under his own shield. It was their custom also not to have women in the banquet-halls, but they were given a separate apartment in which they were served. It was, moreover, their custom, before the company were served, to clear out or empty the banquet-hall, so that only three remained in it, namely, a seancha, a bollsaire, that is a marshal of the house, and a trumpeter who had a trumpet or horn to call all the guests to the banquet-hall. He sounded his trumpet three times. The first time he sounded it, the shield-bearers of the nobles assembled at the door of the banquet-hall; and the bollsaire took the shield of each noble according to his title, and placed, according to the direction of the seancha, each of the shields in its own appointed place. The trumpeter sounded his trumpet a second time and the shield-bearers of the leaders of warriors assembled at the door of the banquet-hall; and the bollsaire took the shields from them and placed each shield, according to the direction of the seancha, at the other side of the house, over the warrior's table. Then the trumpeter sounded his trumpet the third time; and thereupon the nobles and warriors assembled in the banquet-hall, and each of them sat beneath his own shield, so that there was no contention or disagreement between them as to their seats.


It was this Tuathal Teachtmhar of whom we are speaking who imposed, the Boraimhe on the people of Leinster, as a tax to avenge the death of his two daughters, whose names were Fithir and Dairine. Now, there was a king over Leinster whose name was Eochaidh Aincheann, and he married Dairine, daughter of Tuathal Teachtmhar, and took her to Leinster to his own fortress, that is to Magh Luadhat; and some time after that he went to Tara and told Tuathal thatDairine had died, and asked him to give him his other daughter, that is Fithir, and Tuathal gave her to him, and he took her to Leinster to his own fortress; and when Fithir saw her sister Dairine alive before her, her soul quitted her body suddenly through shame; and Dairine having come to lament her died of her grief on the spot. And it was to relate this that the poet composed the following stanza:

    1. Fithir and Dairine
      Two daughgters of princely Tuathal;
      Fithir died of shame,
      Dairine died of her grief.

Now when Tuathal heard of the death of the two ladies he became enraged, and sent out messengers in all directions to the nobles of Ireland to complain of the treachery which the king of Leinster had practised against him; and accordingly the nobles of Ireland gave aid in warriors and auxiliaries to Tuathal with a view to avenge this outrage; and when Tuathal resolved to plunder and despoil the people of Leinster though they were unable to meet him in the field, they agreed to pay a tribute, themselves, and their descendants to Tuathal, and to each king who should succeed him, as a retribution for the death of these ladies.

The following is the amount of the tribute that was paid every second year by the Leinstermen to the kings of Ireland as a penalty for the death of the children of Tuathal, namely, three score hundred cows, three score hundred ounces of silver, three score hundred mantles, three score hundred hogs, three score hundred wethers, three score hundred bronze caldrons. And this tribute was thus divided :—a third part of it to the men of Connaught, a third to the Oirghialla, and a third to the Ui Neill. The tract entitled Boraimhe Laighean speaks thus in the following verses:

    1. Three score hundred kine with spancels,
      Gifts without fault,
      With three score hundred ounces
      Of silver in addition.

    1. With three score hundred fine mantles
      Of largest measure,
      With three score hundred large hogs
      Of lusty strength,

    1. With three score hundred wethers,
      Generous gift,
      With three score hundred brazen caldrons
      As a bright ornament.

    1. A third part to the men of Connaught,
      The ancient law,
      A third part to the Oirghilla,
      A third to the Ui Neill,

This was the tribute called Boraimhe Laighean, and it was in force during the reigns of forty kings who ruled Ireland, that is from the time of Tuathal Teachtmhar to the time that Fionnachta held the sovereignty of Ireland as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. There were fort kings
      Who carried off the Boromha
      From the time of Tuathal Tlachtgha
      To the time of Fear Fionnachta.

It was Moling who got it remitted by means of the respite until Monday which he got from Fionnachta; but the Monday Moling meant was the Monday of the Day of Judgment. The Leinstermen paid this tribute submissively at times, but at other times they would not consent to pay it, whence arose much strife and conflict between both parties, in which a great number of the nobles of Ireland fell on either side. And Tuathal Teachtmhar fell by Mall son of Rochruidhe.

Mal son of Rochruidhe, son of Cathbhadh, son of Giallchaidh Fionn, son of Fionnchadh, son of Muireadhach, son of Fiachna Fionnamhnas, son of Irial Glunmhar, son of Conall Cearnach, son of Aimhirgin Iairghiunach, son of Cas Trillseach, son of Cas, son of Fachtna, son of Capa, son of Gionga, son of Rudhruighe Mor from whom clanna Rudhruighe are called, of the race of Ir son of Milidh, held the sovereignty of Ireland four years, and he fell by Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar.

Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar son of Tuathal Teachtmhar, son of Fiachaidh Fionnoladh, son of Fearadhach Fionn Feachtnach, son of Criomhthain Nia Nar, son of Lughaidh Riabh nDearg, son of the three Finneamhnas, sons of Eochaidh Feidhlioch of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland nine years. Baine daughter of Scal Balbh, wife of Tuathal Teachtmhar, was the mother of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, and he was called Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar through the excellence of the legal judgments delivered in Ireland in his time. Now, the law Feidhlimidh ordained in his own time in Ireland resembled the law which is called in Latin lex talionis; this means that when one injures or wounds another a similar infliction would be visited on himself in retribution; thus trespass for trespass, a cow for a cow, a hand for a hand, a leg for a leg, an eye for an eye, and so on for every other injury beginning from these. And the result of this law was that the men of Ireland improved in their behaviour in the time of Feidhlimidh, whence he was called Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar. And at length this man died on his pillow.

Cathaoir Mor son of Feidhlimidh Fiorurghlas, son of Cormac Gealta Gaoth, son of Nia Corb, son of Cu Corb, son of Mogh Corb, son of Conchubhar Abhradhruadh, son of Fionn File, son of Rossa Ruadh, son of Fearghus Fairrge, son of Nuadha Neacht, son of Seadna Siothbhac,son of Lughaidh Loithfhionn, son of Breasal Breac, son of Fiachaidh Foibhric, son of Oilill Glas, son of Fearadhach Foghlas, son of Nuadha Fullon, son of Ealloit, son of Art, son of Mogh Airt, son of Criomhthann Coscrach,son of Feidhlimidh Foirthriun, son of Fearghus Fortamhail, son of Breasal Breodhamhan, son of Aonghus Ollamh, son of Oilill Bracain, son of Labhraidh Loingseach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland three years. Now Cathaoir had thirty sons, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. Thirty sons, good the progeny,
      Sprang from Cathaoir of Cuala;
      Thrice ten—a beauteous company,
      A troop of champions with stout spears.

But twenty of these children went without issue, and the other ten had issue. Here are the names of the sons who had issue:—Rossa Failgheach senior of the sons who had issue, Daire Barrach, Breasal Einiochghlas, Fearghus, Oilill, Criomhthann, Deargmhosach, Eochaidh Teimhin, Aonghus, and Fiachaidh Aiceadha, the youngest of the children, although it was his descendants who mostly held the sovereignty of Leinster. From Fiachaidh Aiceadha son of Cathaoir Mor sprang O Broin and O Tuathail; from Breasal Bealach son of Fiachaidh Aiceadha sprang Mac Murchadha; from Rossa Failgheach son of Cathaoir Mor sprang O Conchubhair Failghe and O Diomasaigh and O Duinn and clan Colgan, as we shall afterwards state when we are giving the genealogy of the sons of Milidh. And this Cathaoir Mor fell by Conn Ceadchathach in the Battle of Magh hAgha. Conn Ceadchathach son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty years, and was treacherously slain in the district of Tara, being found alone there by Tiobraide Tireach son of Mal, son of Rochruidhe, king of Ulster. Indeed, Tiobraide sent fifty warriors disguised as women to slay him; and it was from Eamhain they set out to do that treacherous deed. Una daughter of the king of Lochloinn was the mother of this Conn. Mogh Nuadhat wrested half of Ireland from this Conn, having defeated him in ten battles. Sioda daughter of Flann son of Fiachaidh, one of the Earna, was the mother of Mogh Nuadhat. The contest between Mogh Nuadhat and Conn arose in this way: The Earna of the race of Fiachaidh Fear Mara of the race of Eireamhon had gained supremacy in Munster over the race of Eibhear, so that three of them held conjointly the sovereignty of all Munster, namely, Lughaidh Eallaightheach, Daire Dornmhar, and Aonghus. And when Mogh Nuadhat saw the race of Eireamhon holding the sovereignty of Munster, he proceeded to Leinster, where he had been brought up by Daire Barrach son of Cathoir Mor, and brought thence a numerous host from Daire to assist him in recovering the kingdom of Munster, which was his birthright. He first turned to Ui Liathain in the south of Munster, where the above-mentioned Aonghus had established his sway, and Mogh Nuadhat defeated him, and drove him from the territory, so that he went to seek the aid of Conn, who gave him five battallions, that is fifteen thousand fighting men. With this host he proceeded to the territory of Ui Liathain, where Mogh Nuadhat fought against him the Battle of Ard Neimhidh, in which he defeated him with great slaughter of his followers.

After this Mogh Nuadhat expelled the Earna from Munster, as many of them as would not submit to him, whence arose a great war between Mogh Nuadhat and Conn, and Mogh Nuadhat defeated him in ten battles: namely, the Battle of Brosnach and the Battle of Samhpait; the Battle of Sliabh Musach; the Battle of Gabhran; the Battle of Suama and the Battle of Grian and the Battle of Ath Luain; and the Battle of Magh Croich, wherein fell Fiachaidh Rioghfhada son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar; the Battle of Asal and the Battle of Uisneach; and this conflict lasted till Mogh Nuadhat wrested half of Ireland from Conn, that is, the part of Ireland to the south of Gaillimh and Ath Cliath, Eiscir Riada being the boundary between them; and that half is called Leath Mogha, from Eoghan who was called Mogh Nuadhat; and the northern half is called Leath Cuinn, from Conn Ceadchathach. In declaration of this division some poet composed this stanza:

    1. Eoghan Mor, great was his success,
      Was as exalted as Conn Ceadchathach.
      These two, noble was their fame,
      Shared Ireland between them.

Another reason, also, why Mogh Nuadhat wrested half of Ireland from Conn is that there was a great famine in Ireland for seven years in his time; and, before the time of this famine came, Eoghan's druid foretold, long before the coming of the famine, that it would come upon all Ireland; and Eoghan, to make provision for the famine, used venison and fish for food, and stored the corn, and, moreover, he spent on corn all the rents and tributes he received, so that he filled his granaries; and, when the time of scarcity arrived, many of the men of Ireland came to him from all sides, and laid themseives under rent and tribute to Eoghan for his supporting them during that time of distress, as we read in the poem which begins, Eoghan Mor, great was his success:

    1. Eoghan transcended Conn,
      Not in number of battles and conflicts—
      More plenteously the food of adventurous Eoghan
      Was being distributed according to laws of peace.

    1. Lean famine rained on them—
      Its visitation was good for Eoghan—
      So that men eat their kind
      Throughout distressful Erin.

    1. When men heard—far it spread—
      That Eoghan had ale and food in plenty,
      They bound themselves as vassals—good the custom—
      To Eoghan for their sustenance.

Mogh Nuadhat had four names, namely, Eoghan Fidhfheacach, Eoghan Mor, Eoghan Taoidhleach, and Mogh Nuadhat, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. Four names without grief
      Had Eoghan Mor,
      Eoghan Fidhfheacach, the generous, the hospitable,
      Eoghan Taoidhleach, Mogh Nuadhat.

Now, if thou desirest, to learn the reason of each of these names mentioned in this stanza, read the Coir Anmann and thou wilt find it there. Eoghan Mor's wife was Beara daughter of Eibhear Mor son of Modhna, king of Castile, and she bore him a son and two daughters; the son's name was Oilill Olom, and the two daughters' names Scoithniamh and Coinneal. Here is the seancha's proof of this:

    1. Beara daughter of great Eibhear
      Was mother of Oilill Olom,
      And mother of the two pure ones,
      Coinneal and Scoithniamh.

Moreover, Conn Ceadchathach slew Mogh Nuadhat in his bed, having treacherously, according to some seanchas, attacked him at early morning, as they were on the point of engaging in battle against each other on Magh Leana. This king of whom we are treating was called Conn Ceadchathach, from the hundreds of battles he fought against the provincial kings of Ireland, as this stanza sets forth:

    1. A hundred battles against great Munster
      Won Conn Ceadchathach the just,
      A hundred battles against Ulster with valour,
      Sixty battles against the Leinstermen.

Conn was treacherously slain by Tiobraide Tireach at Tara.Conaire son of Mogh Lamha, son of Lughaidh Allathach, son of Cairbre Cromcheann, son of Daire Dornmhar, son of Cairbre Fionnmhor, son of Conaire Mor, son of Eidirsceol of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland seven years, and fell by Neimhidh, son of Sraibhgheann. This Conaire's mother was Eithne daughter of Lughaidh son of Daire. From this Conaire are descended the Dal Riada of Alba and of Ulster, the Baiscnigh from Leim Chon gCulainn, and the Muscruidhe, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. The Albanians of Riada from the promontory,
      The Baiscnigh from Leim Chon gCulainn,
      The Muscruidhe beyond, without reproach,
      Sprang from the fair Conaire.


Art Aoinfhear son of Conn Ceadchathach, son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty years; and his wife was Meadhbh Leithdhearg daughter of Conan Cualann, and from her is called Raith Meadhbha beside Tara. He was called Art Aoinfhear, for of his father's sons he alone survived, as his two brothers, namely, Connla and Crionna were slain by Eochaidh Fionn brother of Conn. For Conn had two brothers, namely, Eochaidh Fionn and Fiachaidh Suighdhe, and by them were slain Art's two brothers; and in testimony of this are these two quatrains from the seanchus:

    1. The two brothers of Conn witbout faults
      Were Eochaidh Fionn and Fiachaidh Suighdhe;
      They slew Connla and Crionna,
      Conn's two sons, two fair youths;

    1. Art hated Eochaidh Fionn
      After the two sons had been slain;
      He took the name of Art Aoinfhear
      After his,two brothers were slain.

Conn, indeed, had six children, namely, Art Aoinfhear, Connla, and Crionna, Maoin, Sadhbh, and Saruit, as we read in the poem which begins with the following stanza:

    1. I can name Conn's six children:
      Maoin, Sadhbh, Saruit, mother of the race of Olom;
      The fair, valiant, bright-skinned men,
      Connla, Crionna, Art Aoinfhear.

As we have said, Connla and Crionna were slain by Eochadh Fionn and by Fiachaidh Suighdhe. Saruit was married to Conaire son of Mogh Lamha, and she bore him the three Cairbres, namely, Cairbre Rioghfhada and Cairbre Baschaoin and Cairbre Musc. It was the descendants of Cairbre Rioghfhada who went to Alba; and it is they who are called Dal Riada. For Eochaidh Muinreamhar, a descendant of Cairbre Rioghfhada, had two sons, namely, Earc and Olchu. From Earc are descended the Dal Riada of Alba, and from Olchu the Dal Riada of Ulster, from whom the Ruta is called. Similarly Sadhbh daughter of Conn was married to Maicniadh son of Lughaidh of the race of Lughaidh, son of Ioth, and she bore him a son called Lughaidh, that is, Mac Con son of Maicniadh. And after the death of Maicniadh she was married to Oilill Olom, and bore him nine sons, namely, the seven who fell in the battle of Magh Muchruimhe, as Oilill Olom himself says in this stanza:

    1. Mac Con has slain my seven sons;
      Pitiful is my bitter, grievous cry,
      Eoghan, Dumbhmearchon, Mogh Corb,
      Lughaidh, Eochaidh, Diochorb, Tadhg,

and the two sons of Oilill who returned from the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe, namely, Cormac Cas and Cian. Now, although Oilill Olom had nineteen sons, that is nine by Sadhbh daughter of Conn, and ten by other women, still only three of them left issue, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. Nineteen pleasant sons had the chief—
      The beauteous Oilill Olom;
      Of one sole trio the race did not decay,
      From whom have sprung the progeny of the free-born.

These three who left issue were children of Sadhbh daughter of Conn. The first of them, Eoghan Mor son of Oilill, fell in the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe, by Beinne Briot, son of the king of Britain; and Fiachaidh Muilleathan, from whom clann Charrthaigh and the tribe of Suilleabhan, with their branches, are sprung, was the son of this Eoghan; and his mother was Moncha daughter of Dil son of Da Chreaga the druid; and he was born at Ath Uiseal on the Siuir, and was called Fiachaidh Fear-da-Liach. For líach means sad event; and sad were the two events that took place with regard to him, namely, the slaying of his father in the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe very soon after his conception in the womb, and the death of his mother immediately after his birth. Hence the name Fiachaidh Fear-da-Liach clung to him. Thus does Oilill Olom himself refer to this matter as we read in the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe

    1. A two-fold woe to thee their death
      Together, and a great disaster,
      Thy father and thy mother—
      Grief has overwhelmed thee.

    1. Thy father and thy mother,
      Two great permanent losses:
      The man in battle was struck down,
      Died the wife at thy birth.

Moreover he was called Fiachaidh Muilleathan, because when the time of his birth arrived his grandfather the druid said to Moncha that if she delayed the birth of her son for twenty-four hours, he would be a king; but if she brought him forth within that time, he would be only a druid.

‘Then,’ said Moncha, ‘in the hope that my son may become a king, I will not bring him forth for twenty-four hours unless he come through my side.’ And then she went into the ford of the Siuir that was beside her father's dun, and there sat upon a stone, and remained twenty-four hours seated on the stone. And at the end of that time she came out of the river and gave birth to a son, and she herself died immediately after having brought him forth. It was this son, then, that was called Fiachaidh Muilleathan; and he was called Muilleathan from the crown of his head being broad. For while his mother was sitting on the flag-stone in the ford, on the point of bringing him forth, the child's crown grew broad by the pressure of the flag-stone on which his mother sate in the ford; hence the name Fiachaidh Muilleathan clung to him.

The second son of Oilill Olom who left issue was Cormac Cas, from whom sprang the Dal gCais and siol Aodha,that is, clan Mac na Mara and siol Flannchuidhe. It was to this Cormac Cas that Oilill Olom had left the inheritance of Munster, until he was informed that Fiachaidh Muilleathan had been born to Eoghan Mor; and when he heard this, he directed that the sovereignty be left after him to Cormac during his life, and that it belong after Cormac's death to Fiachaidh Muilleathan during his life; and in this way that the sovereignty belong alternately in each succeeding reign to the descendants of Cormac Cas and those of Fiachaidh, Muilleathan for ever. And for some generations they held the sovereignty of Munster according to this arrangement.

This Cormac Cas son of Oilill Olom was the fifth best champion in Ireland in his own time; the other four were Lughaidh Lamha, Fionn son of Cumhall, Lughaidh Mac Con, Cairbre Gailin, the fifth champion being Cormac Cas; and there was no one in Ireland fit to fight with any of them outside of their own number. This Cormac Cas was the first to impose a rent-tax on the districts of Munster. He gave in one day nine ounces and five hundred ounces of silver to bards and learned men for praising him. He brought thirty preys from Britain when he was in exile, stirring up war against the Leinstermen; and the Leinstermen submitted to him.

The third son of Oilill who left issue was Cian. From this Cian are descended O Cearbhaill and O Meaghair, O hEadhra and O Gadhra and O Cathasaigh and O Conchubhar of Ciannachta.

Oilill Olom was the first king of the race of Eibhear who is named in the Reim Rioghruidhe as having held the sovereignties of the two provinces of Munster. Oilill held the sovereignty of Munster twenty-three years. For before Oilill banished Mac Con there were two races holding sway over Munster, namely, the descendants of Dairine of the race of Lughaidh son of Ioth, from whom sprang Mac Con, and the descendants of Deirgthine of the race of Eibhear, from whom sprang Oilill Olom. And whenever the sovereignty of Munster was held by the descendants of Dairine, the brehonship and tanistship were held by the descendants of Deirgthine; and when the descendants of Deirgthine held supreme power, the descendants of Dairine held the other offices, until Mac Con transgressed the command of Oilill Olom, as may be understood from what we are about to say. For Oilill ordered him not to take sides with Neimhidh son of Sraibhgeann against Eoghan son of Oilill, his own kinsman, and the three Cairbres. And in order that the cause of Mac Con's banishment may be better understood, I shall set down here the event that led to Mac Con's expulsion from Ireland, namely, the fall of Aingceal son of Deigheall, who was with Neimhidh son of Sraibhgheann; and by Neimhidh, in his struggle for the possession of Ireland, Conaire son of Mogh Lamha was slain; and it was because of Aingceal that the three Cairbres slew Neimhidh son of Sraibhgheann, the husband of their own mother, Saruit daughter of Conn. For it was Neimhidh who slew Conaire, their father. On account of this Conaire's three sons were with Art son of Conn.

Cairbre Riada went to Munster, to the house of Neimhidh and Saruit daughter of Conn, his own mother, for she married Neimhidh after Conaire son of Mogh Lamha, and Aingceal happened to be in Neimhidh's house at that time; and there was a strong wrestler there with him, called Dartadha, and whenever a party who were not known came to the house of Neimhidh, one of their men was forced to engage in wrestling with Dartadha. And as Cairbre Riada was going to the house of Neimhidh to visit his mother, he engaged in wrestling with Dartadha, and laid him on the great caldron of the house, and thus he slew him. Thereupon he returned to Tara; and on his relating his adventure to Art Aoinfhear, Art said that it was on a quick errand that he went westward yesterday, seeing that he returned eastward to-day, and hence he is called Cairbre Riada.

When the other two Cairbres, namely, Cairbre Musc and Cairbre Baschaoin, heard that Aingceal, with whom they were at enmity, was at the house of Neimhidh, they exclaimed, ‘That is pleasanter than to pursue him to Britain.’ And upon this the three Cairbres set out for Munster with a company of warriors; and when they came to the house of Eoghan Mor son of Oilill Olom, Eoghan and themselves marched against Neimhidh, and Neimhidh approached in the company of Mac Con, and the Battle of Feabhra then took place between them. Cairbre Musc wounded Mac Con in that battle, and Aingceal was slain there, and Neimhidh fled till he came to where Saruit was. ‘Protection, O my sons,’ said Saruit, extending her arms round Neimhidh. ‘As much of him as is within thy arms will be protected,’ said Cairbre Musc; and forthwith he dealt him a blow that cut off his head, and dealt him a second biow by which he cut off his legs. ‘That is a great disgrace, O Cairbre,’ said she; and hence he used to be called Cairbre Musc, that is, greater his disgrace than that of his brethren, for it was he who slew his mother's husband.

And on account of Mac Con's forming an alliance of friendship with Neimhidh son of Sraibhgheann, and because of his opposing Eoghan Mor and his kinsmen, namely, the three Cairbres, he was banished out of Ireland by Oilill, and was for a time in exile; and in the course of his exile he gained supporters and made friends for himself, so that himself and Beinne Briot, son of the king of Great Britain, and many other foreigners with them, came to Ireland and declared war on Art Aoinfhear king of Ireland, because of his having helped Oilill Olom; and the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe was arranged between them, to which Art came with all his host and the nine sons of Oilill with the seven battalions of Munster to help Art, while Mac Con with his foreigners were against them on the other side; and the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe was fought between them, and Art and his host were beaten, and Art himself slain by the hand of the champion Lughaidh Lamha, kinsman of Oilill Olom, who was taking part with Mac Con; and seven of the children of Oilill Olom fell there.

Oilill Olom's first name was Aonghus, and he was called Oilill Olom because he had intercourse with Aine daughter of Eoghabhal, and as she slept with Oilill she bit his ear off his head in retribution for his rape of her and for his having slain her father. Hence he was called Oilill Olom, that is ear-cropped. He was called Oilill also, because Oilill is the same as oil oll, 'a great blemish'; and he had three deforming blemishes which clung to him till death, namely, he was ear-cropped, his teeth had become black, and his breath was foul, which blemishes he thus came by: when he had lost his ear through the means of Aine, as we had said, he got enraged, and forthwith he drove his spear through her body into the earth, and the point of the spear struck against a stone and got bent, and he put the point between his teeth to straighten it, and the venom of the spear's point got into his teeth and blackened them at once, and thence foulness of breath came upon him, which clung to him till death, for he had violated the three geasa that were upon that spear, namely, not to allow its point to come against a stone, not to put its point between the teeth, and not to slay a woman with it. And it was from the violation of these geasa that the forementioned blemishes came upon him, and it was from these great blemishes that he was called Oilill—that is, oil oll, or great blemish. And Art Aoinfhear was slain in the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe.


Lughaidh, that is, Mac Con son of Maicniadh, son of Lughaidh, son of Daire, son of Fear Uillne, son of Eadbholg, son of Daire, son of Siothbholg, son of Fear Uillne, son of Deaghamhrach, son of Deaghaidh Dearg, son of Deirgthine, son of Nuadha Airgtheach, son of Luchtaire, son of Logha Feidhlioch, son of Eireamhon, son of Eadaman, son of Gosaman, son of Sin, son of Maitsin, son of Logha, son of Eadaman, son of Mal, son of Lughaidh, son of Ioth, son of Breoghan, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty years. Sadhbh daughter of Conn was Mac Con's mother, as we have said above. Lughaidh son of Maicniadh was called Mac Con because Oilill Olum had a hound called Eloir Dhearg, and when Mac Con was an infant in the house of Oilill, the child used to creep on his hands to the hound, and the hound used to take him to her belly, and he could not be prevented from going constantly to visit her, whence he was called Mac Con.

When Mac Con had become powerful and had returned from his exile, and had fought the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe, as we have said above in treating of Art Aoinfhear, he obtained for himself the sovereignty of Ireland in a single week, and kept it for thirty years, as we read in the poem which begins Cnucha, a hill over Lithfe. It thus speaks in these two stanzas:

    1. In the space of seven days, no slight cause of joy,
      Lughaidh became ruler of the land of Erin;
      He came to his strong kingdom
      The ruler of Erin in one week.

    1. Thirty years without flagging
      Was Mac Con in supreme sovereignty,
      Till the nimble champion fell
      With his supremacy unimpaired.

This Mac Con of whom we are treating was not of the descendants of Eanna Munchaoin of the race of Eibhear, as is stated in the poem which begins Fair Conaire, son-in-law of Conn, but of the race of Lughaidh son of Ioth, son of Breoghan. Now Lughaidh son of Ioth, son of Breoghan, and Milidh of Spain, who is called Golamh son of Milidh, son of Breoghan, were sons of two brothers, so that, though the descendants of Lughaidh son of Ioth are of the race of Gaedheal, still they are not of the progeny of Milidh, but only kinsmen to them, as the poet says, speaking of three branches of the descendants of Lughaidh son of Ioth in this stanza:

    1. O Cobhthaigh of the feast-serving goblets,
      O Floinn of Ard, O hEidirsceoil,
      A trio who traced not the genealogy of their ancestors (?),
      A trio not sprung from the sons of Milidh.

Here follow some of the other families who sprang from Lughaidh son of Ioth, namely, O Laoghaire of Ros, O Baire of Ara in Rinn Muinntire Baire in Cairbreacha, and O Cuirnin and Mac Ailin in Alba, who was descended from Fathadh Canann son of Mac Con, son of Maicniadh. This Mac Con was the third king of the race of Lughaidh son of Ioth who held the sovereignty of Ireland. The first of these kings was Eochaid Eadghothach, son of Daire, son of Conghal, son of Eadaman, son Mal, son of Lughaidh, son of Ioth, son of Breoghan, who held the sovereignty of Ireland four years till he fell by Cearmna son of Eibric; the second was Eochaid Apthach son of Fionn, son of Oilill, who held the sovereignty of Ireland nine years, when he fell by Fionn som of Bratha; the third of the race of Lughaidh son of Ioth who held the sovereignty was the Mac Con of whom we are now speaking. And it is in testimony of this that we have this stanza from the seanchus:

    1. Three kings sprung from the proud son of Ioth,
      Two Eochaidhs, the ferocious Lughaidh,
      It is not a deed that displeases us,
      The way in which pleasant Ioth was avenged.

Feircheas son of Coman Eigeas at the command of Cormac son of Art slew, with the spear called ringcne, Mac Con, as he stood with his back against a pillar-stone at Gort-an-oir, beside Deargraith in Magh Feimhean, to the west of Ath na gCarbad, while he was there distributing gold and silver to bards and ollamhs. When Feircheas son of Coman Eigeas, who resided at Ard na nGeaimhleach, which is now called An Chnocach, he came to to the meeting among the rest, having the ringcne; and when he had come into the presence of Mac Con, he drove that spear through him into the pillar-stone against which his back rested, and this caused his death without delay. From that time to this the plain on which Mac Con was slain is Gort-an-Oir, from the quantity of gold he there bestowed on bards and ollamhs. The reason why Mac Con came to Munster was that his druids foretold to him that he would not live half a year on the throne of Ireland unless he left Tara. Hence he came to Munstre, to seek aid of of his kinsmen—that is, the descendanst of Oilill Olom; but they remembered their old grudge against him, namely, that he had slain Eoghan Mor and his kinsmen in the battle of Magh Muchruimhe. And it thus happened that he was returning to Leinster when he was slain.

Fearghus Duibhdheadach son of Fionnchaidh, son of Oghaman, son of Fiatach Fionn, son of Daire, son of Dluthach, son of Deitsin, son of Eochaidh, son of Sin, son of Roisin, son of Triun, son of Roithriun, son of Airndil, son of Maine, son of Forga, son of Fearadhach, son of Oilill Earann, son of Fiachaidh Fear Mara, son of Aonghus Tuirbheach Teamhrach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland a single year. He was called Fearghus Duibhdheadach, as he had two large black teeth. This Fearghus came inside Cormac son of Art in the sovereignty of Ireland, when Cormac was expelled by the Ultonians to Connaught after they had taken his hostages, and he had made the feast for them in the north of Magh Breagh, whereat and attendant of the King of Ulster held a lighted candle to Cormac's hair, and scorched him severely.

Now it was the three sons of Fionnachaidh, son of Oghaman, son of Fiatach Fionn, namely, Feaghus Duibhdheadach, Fearghus Caisfhiaclach, and Fearghus Fuiltleabhair, who committed this outrage on Cormac; and Cormac went ot ask the help of Tadhg son of Cian, who was powerful in Eile at that time. Tadhg said to him that he would give his help if he got territory from him. ‘I will give thee,’ said Cormac, ‘as much of Magh Breagh as thou canst go round with thy chariot on the day on which thou shalt have overcome the three Feaghuses in battle.’ ‘Then,’ said Tadhg, ‘I can tell you where you will find the champion Lughiadh Lamha, my grandfather's brother, who, if you bring him to the battle, will in all likelihood slay the three Fearghuses, and the place where you will find him is in Eatharlach beside Sliabh gCrot.’ Upon this Cormac set out for Eatharlach, where he found Lughaidh Lamha lying down in a hunting-booth. Cormac stuch his javelin through the hunting-booth and wounded Lughaidh in the back. ‘Who wounds me?’ asked Lughaidh. ‘Cormac son of Art,’ replied the other. ‘It is well thou didst wound me,’ said Lughaidh, ‘for it is I who slew thy father, that is, Art Aoinfhear.’ ‘Give me an eric for him,’ said Cormac. ‘A king's head in battle for thee,’ said Lughaidh. ‘Then,’ said Cormac, ‘give me the head of the king of Ulster, namely, Fearghus Duibhdheadach, who is coming between me and the sovereignty of Ireland.’ ‘It shall be given thee,’ said Lughaidh. Upon this Cormac proceeded to Eile to Tadhg son of Cian,and himself and Tadhg marched with their full forces to Brugh-Mic-an-Oigh at Crionna Chinn Chomair, where the Battle of Crionna was convened between Cormac and the three Fearghuses.

Tadhg had, moreover, another reason for going against Ulster, as it was this Fearghus Duibhdheadach who slew his father in the Battle of Samhain. But Tadhg did not permit Cormac to go into the battle, but left him on a hill to the rear of the battle, and an attendant with him there. Now, Tadhg and Lughaidh Lamha attacked the three Fearghuses and their host; and Lughaidh Lamha slew Fearghus Fuiltleabhair and beheaded him, and took the head to the hill on which Cormac was. Now, Cormac, when all were on the point of going to the battle, clothed himself in the garments of Deilionn Druit, his attendant, and put his own clothes on the attendant; for he was certain that when his warrior frenzy should come upon Lughaidh, and when the rage of battle should seize him, he could not be trusted by anyone.

As to Lughaidh, he came with the head which he had into the presence of the attendant who was disguised as Cormac, and asked him whether that was not the head of Fearghus Duibhdheadach. ‘It is not,’ said the attendant, ‘it is the head of his brother.’ Upon this Lughaidh went into the battle again, and cut off the head of Fearghus Caisfhiaclach, and took it in his hand to the hill on which was the attendant disguised as Cormac. ‘Is this the head of the king of Ulster?’ asked Lughaidh. ‘It is not,’ said the attendant, ‘it is the head of his other brother’. He went the third time into the battle and brought the head of Fearghus Duibhdheadach with him, and he asked the same question of the attendant. The attendant answered and said that it was the head of the king of Ulster. Upon this Lughaidh aimed a blow at the attendant with the head and struck him in the chest, and the attendant died on the spot; and Lughaidh himself fell into a swoon because of the quantity of blood he had lost through his many wounds.

As to Tadhg, son of Cian, he defeated the Ulster host so that he routed them seven times in the same day between Crionna and Glas Neara on the side of Drom Ineasclain, as the poet Flannagan says in the following stanza:

    1. Tadhg son of Cian in raith Cro in the north
      Won seven battles in one day,
      Against Ulster, with brilliant success,
      From Ath Crionna to Ard Cein.

After this Tadhg went into his chariot, having three wounds from three spears; and he told his attendant to direct the chariot towards Tara, so that he might include the walls of Tara within the circuit made by his chariot on that day. They drove straight on, though Tadhg fainted several times through loss of blood from his wounds, and as they were approaching Ath Cliath, Tadhg asked the attendant if they had included Tara in that circuit. ‘We have not,’ replied the attendant. Upon this Tadhg struck him dead; and when the attendant had been slain, Cormac son of Art came up, and seeing Tadhg's three great wounds, he ordered the physician who was with him to put an ear of barley into one of his wounds, and a live worm into another of them, and a splinter of a javelin-head into the third wound, and to heal the wounds externally, so that Tadhg was a year in a wasting condition from this treatment, until Lughaidh Lamha went to Munster to fetch the surgeon. The surgeon came with his three pupils, and they heard

Tadhg's moaning as they approached the dun. The surgeon asked the first of the three pupils when they had heard from Tadhg a moan arising from the first wound, what was the cause of that moan. ‘This is the moan caused by a prickle, as there is a barley-prickle in his wound.’ On hearing a moan caused by the second wound, he asked the second pupil what was the cause of that moan. ‘This is the moan caused by a live creature,’ said he, ‘for a live worm has been put into the second wound.’ When the surgeon heard the third moan, he inquired of the third pupil what was the cause of that moan. ‘This is the moan caused by a weapon-point,’ said the third pupil. And when the surgeon reached the house in which Tadhg was, he placed an iron coulter in the fire until it became red hot and then got it in readiness in front of Tadhg. When Tadhg saw the red hot iron put in readiness for the purpose of thrusting it into his body, his heart trembled greatly; and, as a result of the terror that seized him, he violently ejected from his wounds the ear of barley, the worm, and the splinter of javelin-head, and thereupon the surgeon completely healed his wounds; and after that Tadhg was well without delay.

This Tadhg made large conquests in Leath Cuinn afterwards. For Tadhg son of Cian, son of Oilill Olom, had two sons, namely, Connla and Cormac Gaileang. From Iomchaidh son of Connla comes O Cearbhaill, and from Fionnachta son of Connla comes O Meachair. From Cormac Gaileang son of Tadhg, son of Cian, comes O Eadhra and O Gadhra and O Conchubhair Ciannachta. The following are the territories they acquired, namely: Gaileanga, east and west; Ciannachta, south and north; Luighne, east and west.

Moreover, another company of the race of Eibhear took possession of other territories in Leath Cuinn: these are the descendants of Cochlan son of Lorcan, son of Dathan, son of Treachuire, son of Trean, son of Sidhe, son of Ainbhile, son

of Beag, son of Aodhan, son of Dealbhaoth, son of Cas, son of Conall Eachluath, son of Lughaidh Meann (who reduced to swordland the territory between Luimneach and Sliabh Echtghe), son of Aonghus Tireach, son of Fear Corb, son of Mogh Corb, son of Cormac Cas, son of Oilill Olom. Here are the territories, namely, the seven Dealbhnas, that is Dealbhna Mhor, Dealbhna Bheag, Dealbhna Eathra, Dealbhna Iarthair Mhidhe, Dealbhna Shithe Neannta, Dealbhna Chuile Fabhair, and Dealbhna Thire da Loch in Connaught. To describe these the poet sets down the following stanzas taken from the seanchus:

    1. The seven Dealbhnas of brown spears,
      The race of Dealbhaoth of brown arms,
      They are in Leath Cuinn of the feasting,
      Where there is great honour for ollamhs:

    1. Dealbhna Mhor, Dealbhna Bheag of Breagha,
      Dealbhna of Eathra of strong headlands;
      A race of pleasant customs,
      Dealbhna of the tall-peaked Brugh;

    1. Dealbhna of the brilliant Sith Neannta,
      Dealbhna of harmless Nuadha;
      Dealbhna of fair bright Cul Fobhair,
      Which never was without good lakes.

Know that it was Lughaidh Lamha, by the direction of Cormac son of Art, who slew this Fearghus of whom we are treating, and that it was at the Battle of Crionna he was slain.


Cormac Ulfhada son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach, son of Feilimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland forty years. He is called Cormac Ulfhada, for he had a long ulcha, that is 'a long beard', or from the word Ulfhada, meaning 'Ultonians afar'; for he sent Ultonian chiefs into exile for sixteen years out of Ulster, on account of the injury they had done him before he attained the sovereignty of Ireland. And the mother of this Cormac was Eachtach daughter of Uilceathach the smith; and it was when the Battle of Magh Muchruimh was on the point of being fought that Art Aoinfhear became the father of Cormac by the smith's daughter, who was then his dowered mistress. For it was a custom at that time in Ireland, that whatever king or king's son coveted the daughter of a farmer or biadhtach, desiring to have her as a mistress or paramour, should get her, provided he gave her a marriage portion or dowry of cattle. And it was in this manner that Art obtained Cormac's mother, for it was not she who was his wedded wife, but Meadhbh Leithdhearg, daughter of Conan of Cuala, and from this latter Raith Meadhbha near Tara is named.

Strange was the vision which this Eachtach, that is the mother of Cormac, beheld. She imagined indeed, as she lay asleep beside Art, that her head was severed from her body and that a great tree grew out of her neck which extended its branches over all Ireland, and the sea came over this tree and laid it low; and after this another tree grew out of the roots of the first, and a blast of wind came from the west and felled it; and at the sight of this vision the woman started and awoke from her sleep, and she told the substance of the vision to Art. ‘That is true,’ said Art, ‘the head of every woman is her husband and I shall be taken from thee in the

Battle of Magh Muchruimhe; and the tree that will grow out of thee is a son which thou wilt bear to me, who will be king of Ireland; and the sea that will overwhelm him is a fish-bone which he will swallow, and he will be choked on that occasion. And the tree that will grow out of the roots of the first is a son that will be born to him who will be king of Ireland; and the blast of wind from the west that will overthrow him is a battle that will be fought between himself and the Fian; and he will fall by the Fian in that battle. But the Fian will not prosper thenceforth.’ And this vision was fuifilled in Cormac and his son Cairbre Lithfeachair, since the demons choked Cormac as he was swallowing a fish-bone, and Cairbre Lithfeachair fell by the Fian at the Battle of Gabhra.

Some seanchas state that Cormac's wife was Eithne Thaobhfhada daughter of Cathaoir Mor. But this cannot be true, seeing that she was the mother of Cairbre Lithfeachair. Since there were eighty-eight years from the death of Cathaoir till Cormac assumed the sovereignty of Ireland, namely, the twenty years Conn Ceadchathach held the sovreignty of Ireland, and the seven years Conaire son of Mogh Lamha held it, and the thirty years of Art Aoinfhear, the thirty years of Mac Con, and the one year of Fearghus Duibhdheadach in the sovereignty of Ireland up to the time Cormac assumed the supreme rule of that country.

It is, however, true that Eithne Ollamhdha daughter of Dunlaing son of Eanna Nia was the mother of Cairbre Lithfeachair; and it is she who was the foster child of Buicead, a farmer with hundreds of kine, who lived in Leinster, who kept a hospitable pot over a fire to give food to everyone of the men of Ireland who visited his house. Now this Buicead was thus circumstanced: he had vast wealth, for he had seven herds, and seven score kine in each herd, together with a corresponding number of horses and cattle of every other description, so that the nobles of Leinster, with companies of their followers, used to frequent his house, and some of them took away from him a number of his kine, and others some of his brood-mares, others again a number of his steeds, and thus they despoiled him of all his wealth, so that there remained to him only seven cows and a bull; and he fled by night with his wife and Eithne, his foster-child, from Dun Buicead, to an oak grove near Ceanannus na Midhe, where Cormac used to reside at that time; and Buicead built a hut, in which himself and his wife and foster-child then resided. And Eithne used to serve or wait upon her foster-father and her foster-mother as a maid-servant.

Now on a certain day Cormac went out alone on horseback to travel through the lands that surrounded the town, and he saw the fair maiden, Eithne, milking these seven cows of Buicead. And this was her way of doing it: she had two vessels, and she milked the first portion of each cow's milk into the first vessel, and the second portion into the second vessel, and she acted thus till she had milked the seven cows while Cormac kept watching her, through his great love for her. She then went into the hut in which her foster-father was, and left the milk there, and took out in her hand two other vessels and a cup to the stream which was near the town or the hut, and with the cup filled the first vessel from the water which was near the brink, and the second vessel from the water which was in the middle of the stream, and then she returned to the hut. She came out the third time, having a reaping-hook to cut rushes, and as she cut the rushes she used to put each long wisp of fresh rushes that she cut on one side, and the short rushes on the other side. Now Cormac, through his great love for her, was watching her during each of these practices; and Cormac asked for whom she was making the special selection of the water, the milk, and the rushes. ‘He, for whom I am making it,’ said she, ‘is worthy of a greater kindness from me were it in my power to do it.’ ‘What is his name?’ asked Cormac. ‘Buicead the farmer,’ she replied. ‘Is that Buicead, the Leinster biadhthach, who is celebrated throughout Ireland?’ asked Cormac. ‘It is,’ said she. ‘Then,’ said Cormac, ‘thou art Eithne daughter of Dunlaing, his foster-child?’ ‘I am,’ replied Eithne. ‘It is well,’ said Cormac; ‘for thou shalt be my wife.’ ‘It is not I who can dispose of myself,’ said she, ‘but my foster-father.’ Upon this, Cormac went with her to Buicead, and promised him presents if he got Eithne as his wife. Buicead consented to give Eithne to Cormac as his wife; and Cormac gave him the district of Odhran beside Tara, with its stock of cattle, during his life. And then Cormac knew Eithne, and she conceived of him, and after that she bore him an illustrious son, who was called Cairbre Lithfeachair.

Now this Cormac was one of the wisest kings that ever ruled Ireland; witness the Teagasc Riogh he wrote for Cairbre Lithfeachair; and many laudable customs and laws devised by him, which are recorded in the Breitheamhnas Tuaithe. Moreover, of all the kings that ever ruled Ireland, Cormac was one of those who kept the most princely household, and the largest number of attendants and followers. The truth of this may be the more readily admitted from the account which Aimhirgin son of Amhalghaidh son of Maoilrian, the filé of Diarmaid son of Cearbhall, gives of the Teach Miodhchuarta, which Cormac himself renewed and regulated, though it was long before Cormac the Teach Miodhchuarta was built. For it was in it that Slanoll king of Ireland died, long before Cormac's time. This is what we read in the book of Dinnseanchas, which the above-mentioned Aimhirgin wrote, namely, that it was in Cormac's time it was made into a banquet-hall. It was three hundred feet in length, thirty cubits high, and fifty cubits in breadth. There was a torch kept constantly lighting in it. It had fourteen doors; thrice fifty beds, besides Cormac's bed; thrice fifty warriors in each bed. Cormac had thrice fifty stewards. There were fifty warriors standing in the king's presence as he sat at hismeal. There were three hundred cup-bearers in that dun, and thrice fifty goblets of carbuncle, of gold, and of silver. The total numberof that household amounted to one thousand and fifty men; so that on the greatness and goodness of Cormac, the poet composed this stanza:

    1. Of children Art left
      Only Cormac of the district of Corann.
      In dispensing jewels he was not close-fisted;
      Better Cormac than a hundred children.

Cormac had ten daughters, and three sons, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. Ten daughters had gentle Cormac,
      And three most prosperous sons,
      Plunderers of Claire of the spoils,
      Daire, Cairbre, and Ceallach.

Daire was slain in Dubhros on the Boyne, in Breagha, and Ceallach was slain by Aonghus Gaoibuaibhtheach, as the poet says:

    1. It was Aonghus Gaoibuaibhtheach of fame
      Who slew Ceallach son of Cormac:
      Daire and noble Tadhg son of Cian died
      In Dubhros of the Boyne in Breagha.

And that the sequence of these events may be better understood by setting down here a short genealogical account of these persons, know that Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar had three sons, namely, Conn Ceadchathach, Eochaidh Fionn, and Fiachaidh Suighdhe, as we have said above. The descendants of Conn were at Tara, and held the sovereignty; and the second brother of Conn, namely, Eochaidh Fionn, went to Leinster, and his descendants multiplied there; and it was his descendants that possessed the seven Fotharta of Leinster. It was in his time that Cu Chorb son of Mogh Corb held the sovereignty of Leinster. It was, moreover, by this Eochaidh Fionn that Laoighseach Ceannmhor son of Conall Cearnach was brought up and educated in politeness. It happened at that time that the Munstermen gained great sway in Leinster, so that they were in possession of Osruighe and Laoighis as far as Mullach Maistean.

Now, when Cu Chorb saw the Munstermen gaining power in Leinster, he asked Eochaidh Fionn to help him in expelling them from Leinster. Eochaidh consented to this; and he assembled his friends from all sides, and thus brought together a large army, and made his fosterson Laoighseach Ceannmhor leader of the host; and he himself and Cu Chorb king of Leinster, with their hosts, marched against the Munstermen, having Laoighseach Ceannmhor as commander-in-chief of the forces; and they drove the Munstermen from Mullach Maistean to the Bearbha, and routed them at Ath Troistean, which is called Ath I, on the Bearbha; and they followed up this rout till they defeated them a second time at Coirtheine in Magh Riada, which is called Laoighis Riada; and they continued the rout thence till they overthrew them a third time at Slighe Dhala—that is, Bealach Mor Osruighe; and thus they delivered the province of Leinster from the bondage of the Munstermen; and, in consideration of this, Eochaidh obtained the seven Fotharta of Leinster for himself and his descendants; and, similarly, his foster-son got the seven Laoighises for himself and for his descendants as a handsel in consideration of his leadership in expelling the Munstermen from the places we have mentioned.

Moreover, the king of Leinster ordained on his own behalf and on behalf of every king who should succeed him that the back of every beef and the ham of every hog slaughtered in the house of the king of Leinster be given as a champion's portion to the king of Laoighis, and that an axe-man should be in the house of the king of Leinster constantly, at the expense of that king, to receive that tribute for the king of Laoighis. Besides, the king of Laoighis belonged to the council of the king of Leinster; and he took the fourth next place to the king at a general assembly; and it was to him was given in charge every present made by the king of Leinster for distribution to nobles and to ollamhs; and it was to the king of Laoighis that every gift made to the king of Leinster was given to be presented to the king of Leinster.

In addition to this, there were seven of the king of Laoighis's men in the pay of the king of Leinster;and they always attended the king to dress his body. And when the king of Leinster went on tour with his host, the only provision the king of Laoighis was bound to give him was seven beeves which he sent to the king's own camp. But the king of Laoighis was bound to maintain seven score warriors at his own expense for the king's host, and he had also the right of leading the van of the king of Leinster's host when entering hostile territory and in positions of danger. Again, the king of Laoighis was bound to make muster at general assemblies along with the king of Fotharta, because Eochaidh Fionn son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, ancestor of the king of the Fotharta, was tutor to Laoighseach Ceannmhor, from whom sprang the king of Laoighis. And this custom was ever observed by them till the Norman Invasion.


As to Conn's other brother, namely, Fiachaidh Suighdhe, he got land near Tara, namely, the Deise Teamhrach; and he did not become king of Ireland.

Now he had three sons, namely, Rossa and Aonghus, called Aonghus Gaoibuaibhtheach, and Eoghan, the third son. But Aonghus Gaoibuaibhtheach surpassed his contemporaries in valour. And Cormac at that time was at enmity with a powerful personage, and no one protected him from Cormac but Aonghus Gaoibuaibhtheach; and the king gave Aonghus to him as a security. Aonghus took this nobleman under his protection. But after this, Ceallach son of Cormac took this nobleman prisoner in violation of the security of Aonghus, and took out his eyes without the king's permission. When Aonghus Gaoibuaibhtheach heard this, he proceeded to Tara, accompanied by a numerous host, and slew Ceallach by a cast of his spear, as he stood behind king Cormac in the court, and wounded the king himself in the eye, leaving him with only one eye. Cormac assembled a large host and banished Aonghus and his kinsmen.

These descendants of Fiachaidh Suighdhe involved Cormac in much fighting. However, Cormac drove them into Leinster, and they remained there a year; and thence they went to Osruighe, and thence they came to Oilill Olom, whose wife, Sadhbh daughter of Conn, was their kinswoman. Oilill Olom gave them the Deise in Munster, for their native territory was the Deise Teamhrach, before they were banished by Cormac.

These three sons of Fiachaidh Suighdhe divided that territory between them into three parts; and they are called the descendants of Oilill Earann, and the Earna. However, they are not the Earna, but the descendants of Conaire son of Mogh Lamha it is these that were styled the Earna. It is Corc Duibhne son of Cairbre Musc who was chief over the descendants of Fiachaidh Suighdhe who came to Munster; and it was these descendants that were called the Deise; and Aonghus son of Eochaidh Fionn son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar was their leader when coming to Munster, and with him were the three sons of Fiachaidh Suighdhe, namely, Rossa, Eoghan, and Aonghus. About that time Cairbre Musc had acquired great power in Munster; and in his time adversity and crop-failure had come upon Munster. Nor was this strange, for it was by incest and crime that he became father of Corc by Duibhfhionn, his own sister; for they were the children of Conaire son of Mogh Lamha and of Saruit daughtero f Conn Ceadchathach. When the Munster nobles observed the adversity that came with Cairbre's reign, they asked him what had deprived the country of its produce and its prosperity. Cairbre replied that it was because he had committed incest with his sister Duibhfhionn, and she had borne him two sons, to wit Corc and Cormac; and when the Munster nobles heard this, they demanded the sons, in order to destroy them—to burn them, and let their ashes go with the stream. ‘Act in that way towards Cormac,’ said Dinneach the Druid; ‘but do not kill Corc, but let him be given to me, that I may take him out of Ireland.’ This was granted to him; and he took him with him to sea, to Inis Baoi; and he found a house on the island in which was a crone called Baoi; and the druid placed Corc under her protection, and he remained with her for a year, and at the end of the year the druid took Corc and placed him under the protection of Saruit daughter of Conn, who was grandmother to the child, both on his father's and mother's side.

As to the Deise, they inquired of their filés whether they were fated to have rest or dwelling in Munster; and the filés told them in reply to stay in the country, and that the wife of Criomhthann son of Eanna Cinnsealach, king of Leinster, whose name was Congain, was pregnant, and that it was a daughter she would bring forth, and that they should ask the daughter in fosterage, and give a fee in order to obtain her. After this the daughter was born; and she was fostered by the Deise. The daughter's name was Eithne Uathach, and she was fed by the Deise on the flesh of infants that she might grow up the more quickly; for a certain druid had foretold that they would get territory from the man whose wife she would be. And when she was of age to wed, she was married to Aonghus son of Natfraoch, king of Munster. And Aonghus gave them, in consideration of getting her to wife, Magh Feimhean, that is, Trian Chluana Meala, and the Trian Meadhonach after the expulsion of the Osruighigh from these territories. And a long time after this Aonghus and Eithne were slain by the Leinstermen in the Battle of Ceall Osnadh, four miles east of Leithghlinn.

These descendants of Fiachaidh Suighdhe, who are called the Deise, possessed only the district known as Deise Dheisceirt, that is, from the Siuir southwards to the sea, and from Lios Mor to Ceann Criadain, up to the time when Eithne Uathach was married to Aonghus son of Natfraoch, king of Munster. For it was about that time that Aonghus gave them Deise Thuaisceirt, that is, from the same Siuir to Corca Athrach, which is called the Plain of Cashel. And O Faolain, who came from that stock, was king of Deise Thuaisceirt; and the place in which his residence was situated was on the brink of the Siuir to the west of Inis Leamhnachta; and Dun Ui Fhaolain is the name it is called to-day. Another kinsman of his occupied Deise Dheisceirt, and he was called O Bric; and he had his stronghold beside the sea, in the south, in the place which is now called Oilean Ui Bhric. And the Deise were divided thus between these two races until the race of O Bric became extinct; and O Faolain obtained the chieftainship of the two territories, and held it for a long period afterwards, until the race of Eibhear took Deise Thuaisceirt from him; and so he possessed only Deise Dheisceirt on the coming of the Foreigners to Ireland.

Understand that it was Aonghus Osruighe and his followers that obtained sway over Magh Feimhean, which is called Deise Thuaisceirt, and that it was this sept of Fiachaidh Suighdhe who expelled Aonghus Osruighe and his followers from Magh Feimhean; and from the defeat they inflicted on Aonghus are named Baile Orluidhe, and Mullach Inneona in Magh Feimhean at this day; Baile Orluidhe from the urlaidhe or long hair of the warriors in the battle, and Mullach Inneona from the Osruighigh having been driven from it to Leinster against their will.

About this time Cormac son of Art, king of Ireland, felt a scarcity of meat, having spent the rents of the provinces because of the extent of his household staff and he took counsel with his high-steward, how he could obtain supplies for his staff until the time of his rent-taking; and the steward advised him to assemble a large host, and go ino Munster to levy the head rent of the king of Ireland. ‘For they only pay thee,’ said he, ‘the rent of one province while there are two provices in Munster, and each of these provinces should pay the rent of a province to the king of Ireland.’ Cormac acted on that advice, and sent envoys to Fiachaidh Muilleathan, who was then king of Munster, demanding from him the rent of the second province. Fiachaidh answered the envoys, and said that he would not pay a higher rent to Cormac than was paid to the kings who preceded h im. And when this answer reached Cormac, he assembled a large host, and marched with them, and halted not till he reached Druim Damhghaire in Munster, which place is now called Cnoc Luinge. And there he fixed his tent or camp; and Fiachaidh Muilleathan, king of Munster, came on the other side against him front to front.

At that time Cormac was thus circumstanced: he had druids from Alba with him there, who practised much magic against the king of Munster and his followers, and in particular, not a drop of water was left near the camp of the king of Munster, and so people and cattle were on the point of death through want of water, and the king of Munster was obliged to send for Mogh Ruith, a druid, who was in Ciarraidhe Luachra; and this Mogh Ruith lived in the time of nineteen kings, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. The reign of nineteen successive kings
      Was the life of Mogh Ruith with much fighting
      From Roth son of Rioghall, great the fame,
      To Cairbre Lithfeachair the strong.

And when Mogh Ruith came, the king was obliged to give him two cantreds of Feara Muighe, which are called the country of the Roistigh and the country of the Condunaigh. And thereupon Mogh Ruith removed the barrier that had been put to the water withholding it, and at the same time threw up into the air a magic spear which he had, and in the place in which the spear fell there burst forth a well of spring water which relieved the men of Munster from the thirst that afflicted them and hereupon the king of Munster with his host made a sudden onset on Cormac and his followers, and expelled them from Munster, without their having fought a battle or carried off a spoil. And they pursued them to Osruighe, so that Cormac was forced to give pledges and securities that he would send hostages from Tara to Raith Naor, which is called Cnoc Rathfonn, to Fiachaidh Muilleathan, as a guarantee that he would make compensation for all the injury he had done to Munster in that expedition; and as a declaration of this, the poet composed this stanza:

    1. Fiachaidh Muilleathan, good the king,
      From the land of Aibhle in Leitre Craoi,
      Hostages from great Tara were sent him
      To bright Rathfonn to Raith Naoi.

This Fiachaidh had two sons, to wit, Oilill Flann Mor and Oilill Flann Beag. Oilill Flann Mor had no issue, and it is from Oilill Flann Beag that all who survive of the race of Fiachaidh Muilleathan are descended. And hence the poet indites this stanza:

    1. The sons of great Fiachaidh Muilleathan
      Were Oilill Flann Mor of the mead-drinking,
      And Oilill Flann Beag of the hosts;
      His progeny are great in Munster.

Now, as Oilill Flann Mor was without issue, he adopted his brother Oilill Flann Beag as a son, and left him his personal effects and his inheritance on condition that he and his descendants should place his name in the genealogy between his own name and that of Fiachaidh Muilleathan; and so it is in the Psalter of Cashel, and in other ancient books. It is not, however, to be inferred from them that Oilill Flann Mor was the father of Oilill Flann Beag. But the reason why the chroniclers used to put the name of Oilill Flann Mor in the genealogical tree of Fiachaidh Muilleathan was to commemorate the compact that existed between himself and Oilill Flann Beag, as we have said above. Fiachaidh Muilleathan was treacherously slain by Connla Clamh son of Tadhg, son of Cian, ancestor of the siol Cearbhaill and of the siol Meachair at Ath Uiseal, which is called Ath Aiseal on the Siuir at the present time. And the reason why he did that deed of treachery was that when Connla was a youth with Cormac son of Art, learning manners and accomplishments, leprosy or mange came upon him, and no medical treatment whatever availed him. Cormac told him on that occasion that there was no cure destined for him, until he should wash himself in the blood of a king, and that were he to do that he would be healed of his mange. Soon after this Connla took his leave of Cormac, and went into Munster to visit his kinsman, Fiachaidh Muilleathan, who was then king of Munster. And at that time Fiachaidh Muilleathan resided at Raith Rathfainne, which is nov called Cnoc Rathfonn, with his foster-mother, whose name was Rathfonn; and when Connla came into his presence, he bade him welcome.

Now, on a certain day soon after this, Fiachaidh went out beside the Siuir with all his household, attended by Connla, who carried his spear; and he went as far as Ath Aiseal, and proceeded to swim in the stream; and Connla bethought him of Cormac's instructions. And thereupon he went to the verge of the bank, and stabbed Fiachaidh with his spear as he swam, and thus slew him. Fiachaidh, however, before he died, protected Connla, and forbade his household to slay him. And he died immediately after that. And it was in this way the life of Fiachaidh Muilleathan ended.


We said above, following the seanchus, that Cormac had ten daughters. We shall, however, refer only to two of them here, to wit, Grainne, who was wife of Fionn son of Cumhall, and Aillbhe daughter of Cormac, who was wife of Fionn afterwards.

And whoever should say that Fionn and the Fian never existed would not be stating truth. For, to prove that the Fian existed we have the three things that prove the truth of every history in the world except the Bible, namely, oral tradition of the ancients, old documents, and antique remains, called in Latin monumenta. For it has been delivered to us from mouth to mouth that Fionn and the Fian existed; and, moreover, there are numerous documents that testify to this. There are also antique remains named after them, as Suidhe Finn on Sliabh na mBan, called from Fionn descendant of Baoiscne, and Gleann Gharaidh in Ui Faithche, called from Garaidh son of Morna, and Leabaidh Dhiarmada Ui Dhuibhne agus Ghrainne at Poll Tighe Liabhain in Ui Fiachrach Eidhne, which is now called the country of O Seachnasaigh, and so, too, of many other places in Ireland. And should anyone say that much of what has been written about the Fian is not to be believed, he would certainly state the truth; for there was no kingdom in the world in which there were not written tales called fabulae in Pagan times, for example, the Knight of the Sun, Bevis of Hamton, Huon of Burdex, and other such like, which were written even in the time of the Faith. But there is no country in the world in which also true and credible histories have not been written. In the same manner, although many imaginative romances have been written about Fionn and the Fian, such as Cath Fionntragha, Bruighean Chaorthainn, and Imtheacht an Ghiolla Dheacair, and others of a similar kind, for the sake of amusement, still it is certain that true credible accounts of them were also written. And it is also certain that their bodies were not abnormally large, but only like those of their contemporaries; and they were nothing more than hired warriors of the Kings of Ireland, to defend and to protect the country for them, as every king has now captains and soldiers to defend his own dominions.

Now the Fian used to be quartered on the men of Ireland from Samhain to Bealltaine; and it was their duty to uphold justice, and to prevent injustice, for the kings and the lords of Ireland; and also to guard and preserve the harbours of the country from the violence of foreigners; and from Bealltaine to Samhain to be engaged in hunting, and the chase, and in every other duty the king of Ireland might impose upon them, such as putting a stop to robbery, exacting the payment of tribute, putting down malefactors, and so of every other evil in the country. For this, they had a certain pay, as every king in Europe gives pay to the captains and to the generals who serve under him. However, from Bealltaine until Samhain, the Fian were obliged to depend solely on the products of their hunting and of the chase as maintenance and wages from the Kings of Ireland; thus, they were to have the flesh for food, and the skins of the wild animals as pay. But they only took one meal in the day-and-night, and that was in the afternoon. And it was their custom to send their attendants about noon with whatever they had killed in the mornings hunt to an appointed hill, having wood and moorland in the neighbourhood, and to kindle raging fires thereon, and put into them a large number of emery stones; and to dig two pits in the yellow clay of the moorland,and put some of the meat on spits to roast before the fire; and to bind another portion of it with suagans in dry bundles, and set it to boil in the larger of the two pits, and keep plying them with the stones that were in the fire, making them seethe often until they were cooked. And these fires were so large that their sites are to-day in Ireland burnt to blackness, and these are now called Fulacht Fian by the peasantry.

As to the Fian, when they assembled on the hill on which was the fire, each of them stripped off, and tied his shirt round his waist; and they ranged themselves round the second pit we have mentioned above, bathing their hair and washing their limbs, and removing their sweat, and then exercising their joints and muscles, thus ridding themselves of their fatigue; and after this they took their meal ; and when they had taken their meal, they proceeded to build their hunting-tents, and so prepare themselves for sleep. Each of them made himself a bed of three things: the tops of trees, moss, and fresh rushes; the tree-tops at the bottom on the ground, the moss upon these, and the fresh rushes on top; and it is these are called in the old books, the three tickings of the Fian.

The following is an account of Fionn son of Cumhall, and of the branch of the Gaels whence he sprang. Now, Campianus says, in his chronicle, that some authors say that it was Fionn son of Cumhall who was called Roanus. But this assertion of his is not true. Know that it was Cumhall son of Treanmhor, the fourth in descent from Nuadha Neacht, king of Leinster, who was his father, and that his mother was Muirn Mhunchaomh daughter of Tadhg son of Nuadha, druid of Cathaoir Mor; and Almha of Leinster was the native inheritance of Tadhg son of Nuadha; and hence Alma of Leinster came to belong to Fionn in right of his mother. However, it was the king of Leinster who gave him Formaoil na bhFian in Ui Cinnsealaigh, where Luimneach Laighean is at this day.

Hector Boetius, in the History of Alba, unjustly calls Fionn son of Cumhall a giant; and besides he falsely asserts that he was fifteen cubits in height. For it is plain from the old books of the seanchus that he was not of abnormal size as compared with his contemporaries; and it is plain that there were some of the Fian of greater size, more powerful, and stronger than he. Now, the reason why he was made Ri Feinnidh over the warriors of Ireland was that his father and grandfather before him were leaders of the warriors of Ireland. Another reason also why he was made Ri Feinnidh was that he surpassed his contemporaries in knowledge and in learning in skill and in strategy, and also in wisdom and valour in fields of battle, so that it was on this account he was appointed Ri Feinnidh, and not because he surpassed all others in strength of body and size of person. The ordinary host that served under Fionn consisted of the three battalions of the Gnathfhian, having three thousand in each battalion, when the men of Ireland were at peace with one another. But whenever any party of the nobles of Ireland were at enmity with the high king, or whenever it was necessary to send a host to Alba to help Dal Riada against foreigners, Fionn used to have seven battalions, so that he had a sufficiently large host to go to Alba to assist Dal Riada, as well as to guard Ireland from the oppression of the foreigners.

There were many chief leaders under Fionn in command of the Fian, thus: a caithmhileadh in command of the battalion, as a colonel is in command of a regiment, the leader of a hundred like the modern captain, the chief of fifty like the lieutenant, and the head of thrice nine like the corporal, and the head of nine like the decurion of the Romans. For when the hundred were divided into ten divisions, or ten ranks, there was an officer over each, who was called a leader of nine. And when mention is made in the records of Ireland of a man match in battle for a hundred, or fifty, or nine, or such like as belonging to the Fian, we are not to understand from them that such a man would kill a hundred, or fifty, or nine, with his own hand; but what we are to understand from them is that he was leader of a hundred, or fifty, or nine, and was, with his following, a match in battle for a similar leader in command of a like following. There were four injunctions placed on everyone admitted to the ranks of the Fian. The first injunction was not to accept a dowry with a wife, but to choose her for her good manners and her accomplishments; the second injunction, not to force a woman; the third injunction, not to refuse a man asking for valuables or food; the fourth injunction, that none of them should flee before nine warriors.

The following are the other conditions which Fionn son of Cumhall attached to the degrees in bravery which each one was bound to obtain before being received into the Fian. The first condition: no man was received into the Fian or the great Assembly of Uisneach, or the Fair of Taillte, or the Feis of Tara, until his father and mother and clan and relatives gave guarantees that they would never demand any retribution from anyone for his death, so that he might look to no one to avenge him but to himself; and that if he should inflict great injuries, retribution should not be visited on his kinsmen. The second condition: no one was admitted into the Fian until he had become a filé, and had made up the twelve books of Filidheacht. The third condition: no one was admitted into the Fian until a large pit reaching above his knees had been made for him, and he was placed in it with his shield and a hazel staff as long as a warrior's arm in his hand; and nine warriors, with nine spears, were to approach him, leaving the space of nine furrows between him and them; and they hurled nine spears together at him, and if he were wounded in spite of his shield and his hazel staff, he would not be received into the Fian. The fourth condition: no man was admitted into the Fian until, having his hair plaited, he was sent through several woods with all the Fian in pursuit of him with a view to wounding him, while he got but the odds of a single tree over them, and if they overtook him, they would wound him. The fifth condition: no man was admitted into the Fian whose weapons trembled in his hand. The sixth condition: no man was admitted among them if a branch of a tree in the woods unloosed from its plait a single braid of his hair. The seventh condition: no man was admitted among them if he broke a withered bough beneath his feet. The eighth condition: no man was admitted among them unless he leaped over a tree as high as his forehead, and unless he stooped beneath a tree as low as his knee, through the great agility of his body. The ninth condition: no man was received into the Fian unless he could pluck a thorn from his foot with his hand without stopping in his race for the purpose. The tenth condition: no man was admitted among them unless he had sworn to the Ri Feinnidh that he would be faithful and submissive to him.

While Cormac held the sovereignty of Ireland some Ulster nobles made a raid on the coasts of Alba, and they came upon Ciarnait daughter of the king of the Cruithnigh, and brought her as a captive across the sea. And when Cormac heard of her beauty, he demanded her publicly, and took her to his own house; and she surpassed the women of her time in beauty; and for this Cormac loved her. But when Eithne Ollamhdha daughter of Dunlaing, Cormac's lawful wife, heard that Ciarnait lived with him, she said that he must not have them both at the same time; and Eithne insisted on getting charge of her; and she imposed on her as work of slavery that she should grind with a quern nine pecks or nine measures of corn every day. Notwithstanding this, Cormac met her in secret; and she conceived of him; and when she became pregnant, she was unable to grind; and she went privately to Cormac and told him so. Cormac sent to Alba for an artificer who could construct a mill. The artificer came to him, and made the mill to release Ciarnait from her slavery under Eithne; and it is on this theme the poet composed the following stanzas:

    1. Ciarnait, handmaid of just Cormac,
      Fed many hundreds from a quern;
      Nine pecks she had each day to grind;
      It was not work for a frivolous person.

    1. Then meets she the noble king
      In his house, where she is alone;
      And she conceived in secret,
      And after that she refused to grind.

    1. Conn's grandson went to visit her;
      He brought a millwright from over seas;
      The first mill of Cormac son of Art
      Was a help to Ciarnait.


It was in the time of Cormac that Fitheal lived; and he was his chief brehon; and as Fitheal was about to die, he sent for his son namd Flaithri; and this Flaithri was a wise and learned man. Fitheal left him his blessing, and advised him to observe four things most carfully, and that it would be to his advantage to do so, namely, not to nurse or take in fosterage a king's son, not to impart a dangerous secret to his wife, not to raise the state of a serf's son, not to commit his purse or his treasure to his sister's keeping. And after Fitheal's death, Flaithri resolved to test each of these points. And to make trial of them he took in fosterage the son of Cormac son of Art; and some time after he took the child with him into a wood, and gave him to one of his people, a swineherd, who lived in the recesses of the wood; and he asked him to conceal the child well until himself should send him a certain token, and then he returned to the town to his own house, and feigned much trouble and distress; and his wife inquired of him the cause of his trouble and distress. He said it was nothing. But when she saw his distress continue, she began to importune him to find out from him the cause of his trouble. He said that, if she would keep it a secret, he would tell her the cause of his distress.

She swore that whatever he should tell her as a secret she would not reveal it. ‘Then,’ said he, ‘I have committed a dreadful act of treachery, that is, the slaying of my fosterson, the king's son.’ Upon hearing this, the wife screamed and called the house-folk, and told them to bind the parricide because he had killed the king's son. And they did accordingly, and they took him bound to the king. Flaithri also had raised the state of the son of one of his own stewards so that he became a rich man. Similarly very soon after his father's death he committed some of his wealth to his sister's keeping, so that none of the four counsels his father had given him should go unstested by him. Now, when, the steward's son found that he was a prisoner, and the king about to put him to death, none of them was more bitter and severe against him than he, as he hoped to acquire Flaithri's inheritance for himself.

Flaithri, finding himself in this difficulty, sent a message to his sister, asking her to send him the treasure he had give her to keep, that he might make friends for himself around the king's person. But when the messenger reached her, she denied that she had ever received any such thing from him. And when that reply reached Flaithri, as he was about to be put to death, he asked to be permitted to go before the king, in order to speak to him on a secret matter; and when he had come into Cormac's presence, he told him that the child was safe, and asked to be kept in his bonds till his foster-son should be brought in. The son was sent for; and when the child had come in from the swineherd who had been keeping him in safety, as he beheld Flaithri in bonds, he wept without ceasing until he was set free. And when Flaithri had been set free, Cormac asked him privately why he had permitted himself to be placed in this predicament. ‘It was to test the four counsels my father gave me I did so,’ said Flaithri; ‘and I found on testing them that my father's four counsels to me were wise. In the first place, it is not wise for anyone to take upon him the bringing up of a king's son lest he may be guilty of neglect resulting in the injury or loss of the fosterchild, while the life or death of the foster-father who had been negligent was in the power of the king. As to the second counsel my father gave me, the keeping of a dangerous secret is not by nature in the power of women in general; hence it is not prudent to commit such a secret to them. The third counsel my father gave me was not to raise or make wealthy the son of a serf or of a lowly person; for such persons are usually unmindful of the benefit conferred on them; and moreover, they are hurt that the party who raised them should be aware of the meaness and lowly state whence they rose. Good,’ said he, ‘is the fourth counsel my father gave me: not to give my treasure to my sister; for it belongs to the nature of women to regard as spoil whatever valuables their friends give them to keep in safety.’

It was ordained in Cormac's time that every high king of Ireland should keep ten officers in constant attendance on him, who did not separate from him as a rule, namely, a prince, a brehon, a druid, a physician, a bard, a seancha, a musician, and three stewards: the prince to be a bodyattendant on the king; the brehon to explain the customs and laws of the country in the king's presence; a druid to offer sacrifices, and to forebode good or evil to the country by means of his skill and magic; a physician to heal the king and his queen and the rest of the household; a filé to compose satire or panegyric for each one according to his good or evil deeds; a seancha to preserve the genealogies, the history, and transactions of the nobles from age to age; a musician to play music, and to chant poems and songs in the presence of the king; and three stewards with their company of attendants and cupbearers to wait on the king, and attend to his wants. This custom was kept from the time of Cormac to the death ofBrian son of Cinneide without change, except that, since the kings of Ireland received the Faith of Christ, an ecclesiastical chaplain took the place of the druid, to declare and explain the precepts and the laws of God to the king, and to his household. Thus does the seancha set forth the matter just stated:

    1. There are ten round the king,
      Without rivalry, without anxiety—
      I can name them all,
      Both prince and official.

    1. There are appointed to attend on gracious kings,
      A brehon, a filé, and a prince;
      The king who has not the three named,
      His honour-price is not sanctioned by Fenian law.

    1. A chaplain to expound the gospels,
      A seancha who sets right every mishap,
      A musician skilled in harp-strings also:
      For these fine and honour-price are appointed.

    1. The fourth person is a physician,
      To look to each one's disease;
      Three stewards to serve famous companies,
      I shall record for the hosts of Erin.

    1. The king who shall not have all these
      Has no right to be in the Reim Rioghruidhe;
      In the house of Tara shall not pass his time
      A king not having the ten.

On account of the excellence of Cormac's deeds and judgments, and laws, God gave him the light of the Faith seven years before his death. And, accordingly, he refused to adore gods made with hands; and he set himself to reverence and honour the true God; so that he was the third man in Ireland who believed before the coming of Patrick. Conchubhar son of Neasa was the first to receive the faith when he heard from Bacrach the druid that the Jewish people would put Christ to death by torment; Morann son of Maon was the second person; and Cormac son of Art was the third. It was at Tara that Cormac usually resided, according to the practice of his predecessors, until his eye was desroyed by Aonghus Gaoibuaibtheach, as we have said above; and thenceforward he abode in Achaill, in the house of Cleiteach, and in Ceanannus. For the men of Ireland considered it neither becoming nor auspicious that a king with a blemish should abide in Tara; and for this reason Cormac gave over the sovereignty to his son Cairbre Lithfeachair; and he gave up Tara to him, retiring himself to the house of Cleiteach and to Achaill not far from Tara. And it was there he composed the Teagaisc Riogh, setting forth what a king should be, as we have said above, and how he should rule the people through their laws. And from the time that Cormac gave over the sovereignty, he believed only in the one God of heaven.

On a certain day, when Cormac was in the house of Cleiteach, the druids weren worshipping the golden calf in his presence; and the general body of the people were worshipping it after the manner of the druids. Maoilgheann the druid asked Cormac why he was not adoring the golden calf and the gods like the rest. ‘I will not,’ said Cormac, ‘worship a stock made by my own artificer; and it were better to worship the person who made it; for he is nobler than the stock’ Maoilgheann the druid excited the golden calf so that he made a bound before them all. ‘Dost thou see that, O Cormac?’ said Maoilgheann. ‘Although I see,’ said Cormac, ‘I will worship only the God of heaven, of earth, and of hell.’

After this his food was cooked for the king, and he began to eat a portion of a salmon from the Boinn. Thereupon the demon sprites came, at the instigation of Maoilgheann the druid, and they killed the king. Others say that it was a salmon-bone that stuck in his throat and choked him. For it was eating fish he was when the sprites, or demons of the air, choked him.

When the king was in the throes of death, he directed his officers not to bury his body at the Brugh, where the kings of Tara had been buried up to then. But when the people were conveying his body to the Brugh to be buried, the sprites put it into the greatly swollen river thrice before them; for they did not wish to let his body into the burial place of the idolaters, since he believed in the true God. And the fourth time its bearers carried the body into the river, and it was snatched away from them by the current of the Boinn, and it reached Ros na Riogh and became separated from the fuad, or bier, whence the ford Ath Fuaid on the Boinn is named. They mourned for him there; and his grave was made; and he was buried at Ros na Riogh. A long time after this, Columcille came to that place, and found the head of king Cormac there, and buried it. Columcille remained in the place till he had said thirty Masses above his grave, and there is now a church in the place.

As we have spoken of the druids here, I think it will be meet to give some account of them, and especially of their sacrifices, and of their geasa, as will appear below. There are, indeed, to be seen in Ireland to-day in many places, as relics of the Pagan times, many very wide flag-stones, and pillarstones supporting them; and these are called idol-altars in the old books, while the general populace call them beds of the Fian, as they are ignorant of the reason of their construction. On these altars the druids were wont to make their sacrifices in the olden time, and slay their he-goats, their bulls, and their rams; and the druids themselves went on their knees under the blood as it dropped from their victims, to cleanse themselves from the uncleanness of their sins, as the high priest did among the Jewish people when he went under the sacrificial bridge to let the blood of the victims flow over him, and hence he was called Pontifex, that is, bridge-wright.

As to the druids, the use theymade of the hides of the bulls offered in sacrifice was to keep them for the purpose of making conjuration, or laying geasa on the demons; and many are the ways in which they laid geasa on them, such as to keep looking at their own images in water, or gaze on the clouds of heaven, or keep listening to the noise of the wind or the chattering of birds. But when all these expedients failed them, and they were obliged to do their utmost, what they did was, to make round wattles of the quicken tree, and to spread thereon the offered in sacrifice, putting the side which had been next the flesh uppermost, and thus relying on their geasa to summon the demons to get information from them, as the conjurer does nowadays in the circus; whence the old saw has since been current which says that one has gone on his wattles of knowledge when he has done his utmost to obtain information.

Formerly, in the times of Paganism, there were two chief cemeteries in Ireland, in which most of the kings of Ireland were buried, namely, the Brugh of the Boinn, and the Cemetery of the Kings near Cruachain. It is plain, from the narrative given above, that the Brugh of the Boinn was a burial-place for the kings of Tara, and it is certain that the Cemetery of the Kings at Cruachain was a common cemetery for the kings of Ireland, according to Torna Eigeas in the following poem:

    1. A fair king of Fail lies beneath thee,
      Dathi son of Fiachraidh, a man of dignity;
      O Cruacha, thou hast concealed this
      From foreigners and from Gaels.

    1. Beneath thee lies strenuous Dunghalach,
      Who brought the hostages across the sea from the west;
      There is beneath thee, make known the gift,
      Conn Tuathal and Tomaltach.

    1. Three sons of Eochaidh Feidhlioch the fair,
      They are beneath thy wall as I aver;
      Eochaidh Aireamh lies prostrate,
      Slain by the mighty great Maol.

    1. Eochaidh Feidhleach the prince
      Is beneath thee, and worthy Deirbhri,
      And Clothra, not reproachful the dignity,
      And Meadhbh and Murasc.

    1. Eire Fodla and Banbha,
      Three beauteous noble young ladies,
      Are in Cruacha of the clans,
      Three women of the Tuath De Danann,

    1. The three sons of Cearmad, from Sith Truim,
      And Lughaidh from Liathdhruim,
      The sons of Aodh son of the Daghadh,
      And tall brave Midhir.

    1. Beneath thy pillar-stones are lying
      Graceful Cobhthach and Ughaine,
      And Badhbhcha of the prosperous reign,
      And proud, haughty Ollamh.

A fair.

Eochaidh Gunnat son of Fiach, son of Iomchaidh, son of Breasal, son of Siorchaidh, son of Fiatach Fionn from whom the Dal bhFiatach are named, son of Dluthaidh, son of Deitsin, son of Eochaidh, son of Sin, son of Roisin, son of Triun, son of Roithriun, son of Airndil, son of Maine, son of Forga, son of Fearadhach, son of Oilill Earann, son of Fiachaidh Fear Mara, son of Aonghus Tuirbheach Teamhrach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland one year, and he fell by Lughna Feirtre.


Cairbre Lithfeachair son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach, son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar, son of Fiachaidh Fionnoluidh of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-seven years; and he was called Cairbre Lithfeachair because it was near the Lithfe in Leinster that he was brought up. And his mother was Eithne Ollamhdha daughter of Dunlaing son of Eanna Nia. And Cairbre was slain at the Battle of Gabhra by Simeon son of Cearb, one of the Fortuatha of Leinster; and the reason why the Battle of Gabhra was fought was: Samhaoir daughter of Fionn son of Cumhall was the wife of Cormac Cas son of Oilill Olom, and she was the mother of Tinne and Connla and Mogh Corb; and it was by reason of that relationship that Mogh Corb protected his mother's brother, that is, Oisin son of Fionn, and the clanna Baoiscne from being overpowered by Cairbre Lithfeachair and Aodh Caomh son of Garaidh Glundubh of the race of Morna; and at that time the clanna Morna formed the regular army of Ireland; and they were at enmity with Fionn and with the clanna Baoiscne for seven years. Hence the party of Garaidh Glundubh incited Cairbre Lithfeachair and the provincial kings of Ireland to dethrone Mogh Corb in the hope that, as a consequence of this, the clanna Baoiscne would be banished. And this led to the Battle of Gabhra.

This Mogh Corb, with the manning of 300 ships, went with two brothers of his mother (they were sons of the king of Lochloinn) to obtain for them the sovereignty of Lochloinn from the king of Lochloinn, whose name was Iarus son of Iarnmhor, and he defeated the king in battle, and slew him and his four sons and his eight brothers, and the majority of the nobles of Lochloinn, and left his mother's two brothers in the possession of the country of Lochloinn.

Fothaidh Airgtheach and Fothaidh Cairptheach, two sons of Mac Con, son of Macniadh, son of Lughaidh, son of Daire, son of Fear Uileann of the race of Lughaidh son of Ioth, assumed the sovereignty of Ireland. They both reigned conjointly one year. And Fothaidh Cairptheach fell by Fothaidh Airgtheach, and Fothaidh Airgtheach fell by the Fian in the Battle of Ollarbha.

Fiachaidh Sraibhthine son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty-three years, and fell by the three Collas in the Battle of Dubhchumair. Aoife, daughter of the king of the Gallghaedheal, was the wife of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, and mother of Muireadhach Tireach; and he was called Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, for it was at Dun Sraibhthine i Connaught he was fostered. Now in order that this event may be better understood, we shall set down here, from the Psalter of Cashel, the cause of the Battle of Dubhchumair, and an account of the relationship that existed between the Collas and Fiachaidh Sraibhthine.

It is at Cairbre Lithfeachair that the Oirghialla—that is, the family of the Collas—separate in their pedigree from the clanna Neill and the Connachtaigh. And Fiachaidh Sraibhthine son of Cairbre Lithfeachair was grandfather of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon son of Muireadhach Tireach, son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine; and it is from this Muireadhach that the clanna Neill and the men of Connaught are descended. Eochaidh Doimhlean son of Cairbre Lithfeachair was brother to Fiachaidh Sraibhthine; and this Eochaidh had three sons, to wit, the three Collas, and from these are descended the Ui Mac Uais, the Ui Criomhthainn, and the Modhornaigh. The real names of the three Collas referred to were Cairioll, Muireadhach, and Aodh. Here is the seancha's statement of this matter:

    1. The three sons of Eochaidh, great their fame,
      The three Collas we have heard of;
      Colla Meann, Colla fo Chri,
      And Colla Uais the high king.

    1. The names of the three I know,
      And they slew the high king
      On yon wide bright plain,
      Aodh Muireadhach and Cairioll.

    1. Cairioll, Colla Uais the king,
      Muireadhach, Colla fo Chri,
      Aodh, Colla Meann, great his fame;
      These three were mighty beyond all strength.

Aileach daughter of Udhaire king of Alba, wife of Eochaidh Doimhlean, was the mother of the three Collas. It was Fiachaidh Sraibhthine these three Collas slew, though a kinsman, which resulted in the sovereignty of Ireland being lost to themselves. Now this was the cause of that murder of a kinsman. When Fiachaidh was king of Ireland, he had a good son called Muireadhach Tireach, and he was leader in battle for his father, for the king himself would not be allowed into battle. On a certain occasion Muireadhach went into Munster accompanied by a host and carried off hostages and spoils. Fiachaidh Sraibhtine happened then to be at Dubhchumair, beside Taillte on the south side, and a host with him there. His brother's three sons, that is the Collas, had another host at Dubhchumair near Taillte helping Fiachaidh Sraibhthine. When they heard of the success of Muireadhach in Muster, people generally said that he was the heir-presumptive to the sovereignty of Ireland. ‘What shall become of us,’ said the Collas, ‘if Muireadhach become king of Ireland after Fiachaidh?’ ‘What we had better do,’ said they, ‘is to give battle to the old king; and when we have slain himself and his host, we shall overcome his son when he will come against us.’ Fiachaidh at that time had a druid with him called Dubhchumair; and he spoke thus: ‘O king,’ said he, ‘if thou overcomest the Collas and slayest them, there will never be a king of thy offspring after thee in Ireland; and if it be they who shall succeed and slay thee there will never be a king of Ireland of their progeny.’ ‘Well then,’ said the king, ‘I prefer to fall by the Collas, and the kingdom to pass to my descendants after me, than that I should slay the Collas, and that the sovereignty of Ireland should go to their descendants after them.’ Thereupon the two hosts got ready for battle, and made onslaught on each other from either side; and Fiachaidh Sraibhthine was defeated and slain in that battle, as Dubhchumair had foretord of him.

Colla Uais son of Eochaidh Doimhlean, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aonfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland four years, and was then with his brothers banished into Alba by Muireadhach Tireach son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, where they were taken into military service by their kinsmen. For Aileach daughter of Udhaire, king of Alba, the wife of Eochaidh Doimhlean, was the mother of the three Collas. Cairioll was called Colla Uais from his being distinguished above the other Collas, since he held the sovereignty of Ireland, and the others did not.

Muireadhach Tireah son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty-three years, and fell by Caolbhach son of Cronn Badhraoi. Muireann daughter of Fiachaidh, king of Cineal Eoghain, the wife of Muireadhach Tireach, was mother of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon. As to the Collas they were banished by Muireadhach into Scotland, as we have said; and their host numbered three hundred; and the king of Alba received them with affection, and took them into military service on account of their valour; and they remained there three years. They came thence to Ireland—that is, Colla Meann and Colla da Chrioch and Colla Uais—in the hope that Muireadhach Tireach might slay them, though being his kinsmen, and that in consequece of this parricide the sovereignty of Ireland might go to their descendants. And they brought with them, as an escort, only nine warriors each, and they neither halted nor rested till they reached Tara and came into the presence of the king, Muireadhach Tireach. ‘Have ye news for us, O kinsmen?’ said the king. ‘We have no news,’ said they, ‘that would affect thee more than the deed we ourselves have done, that is, that we have slain thy father.’ ‘We have that news ourselves,’ said Muireadhach; ‘and it matters not to you, as it shall not be avengd on you; but the misfortune it has brought upon you will not pass away from you.’ ‘That is the reproach of a coward,’ said the Collas. ‘Be ye not dejected; ye are welcome,’ said he. They spent a long time after this in close friendship; and the Collas were leaders in battle for the king.

The king told them, then, that it was time they should win territory for their descendants. ‘In what territory dost thou wish us to make sword-land?’—there were no more daring youths in Ireland in their time than they. ‘Rise out against the Ultonians,’ said he; ‘for ye have just cause of battle with them, since an attendant of the king of Ulster burned the beard or hair of Cormac son of Art with a candle in Magh Breagh. Now, when Cormac had become king of Ireland, a strong force of the Ultonians came against him and drove him into Connaught, having carried off hostages from him., After that they made peace with Cormac and got ready a feast for him in north Magh Breagh. And it was there that an attendant of the king of Ulster burned Cormac's hair. And that deed is still unavenged.’

Upon this, king Muireadhach gave them a large host; and the Collas went thence into the province of Connaught, and the men of Connaught took them into military fostege. After this, the men of Connaught joined in their march with a force of seven battalions; and they reached Carn Achuidh Leithdheirg in Fearnmhagh. From that hill they fought seven battles against the Ultonians, that is a battle each day for a week. Six of these battles were fought by the Connaughtmen, and by the Collas was fought the seventh, in which Fearghus Fogha,king of Eamhain, was slain; and the Ultonians were defeated and pursued from Carn Achuidh Leithdheirg to Gleann Righe, and, after inflicting great slaughter on them, the Collas returned and attacked Emhain, which they plundered and burned, so that it has ever since remained without a king to inhabit it. On that occasion, the Collas wrested the following territority from the Ultonians, namely, Modharnuigh, Ui Criomthainn, and Ui Mac Uais. Colla Meann took possession ofModharnuigh, and Colla da Chrioch of Ui Criomhthainn, and Colla Uais of Ui Mac Uais. And Muireadhach Tireach fell by Caolbhaidh son of Cronn Badhraoi.

Caolbhaidh son of Cronn Badhraoi, son of Eochaidh Cobha, son of Lughaidh, son of Rossa, son of Iomchaidh, son of Feidhlimidh, son of Cas, son of Fiachaidh Aruidhe, son of Aonghus Gaibhnionn, son of Fearghus Foghlas, son of Tiobraide Tireach, son of Breasal, son of Fearb, son of Mal, son of Rochruidhe, son of Cathbhadh, son of Giallchaidh, son of Cunnchaidh, son of Fionnchaidh, son of Muireadhach, son of Fiachaidh Fionnamhnus, son of Irial Glunmhar, son of Conall Cearnach of the race of Ir son of Milidh, held the sovereignty of Ireland one year. Inneacht daughter of Lughaidh was the mother of Caolbhaidh son of Cronn Badhraoi; and he was slain by Eochaidh Muighmheadhon.

Eochaidh Muighmheadhon son of Muireadhach Tireach, son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac Ulfhada son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach, held the sovereignty of Ireland seven years. Moingfhionn daughter of Fiodhach, wife of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, was mother of Brian and of Fiachhaidh Fearghus and Oilill. And Cairrionn Chasdubh daughter of the king of Britain, another wife of Eochaidh's, was mother of Niall Naoighiallach. And he was called Eochaidh Muighmheadhon because, as to his head and breast, he resembled the king, and, as to his waist, he resembled a slave called Mionghadhach, and hence he was called Muighmheadhon.

It was over Eochaidh Muighmheadhon that Eanna Cinnsealach, king of Leinster, won the Battle of Cruachan Claonta; and therein Ceadnathach, filé to Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, was taken prisoner. But when Eanna came up, he inquired of his party why they had spared the druid. ‘Thou wouldst never,’ said the druid, ‘conquer from this hill on which I am, if I were to live.’ Upon this Eanna transfixed him with his spear; and, as the spear pierced his body, a laugh broke forth from Eanna. ‘Alas,’ said the druid, ‘that is a foul laugh and it is this that will be given as a name to thy posterity after thee for ever’; and hence that tribe are since called Ui Cinnsealaigh. Eanna Cinnsealach was powerful in his time, as may be seen from the poem composed by Dubhthach son of O Lughair, who was chief ollamh of Ireland when Patrick came to propagate the Gospel in Ireland. A battle fought by the Leinstermen, is the beginning of that poem. But I shall here quote only these two stanzas of it, from which it may be inferred that Eanna was powerful in his time. Here are the stanzas:—

    1. The tribute which was given to Eanna,
      From Leath Cuinn of the feasts,
      Was a screaball from each house,
      All of fionndruine.

    1. The tribute which was given to Eanna,
      From Mumha with insults
      Was an ounce of gold from each lios
      In the ensuing year.

And according to the Psalter of Cashel this Eanna defeated the clann Cuinn in thirteen battles.

Criomhthann son of Fiodhach, son of Daire Cearb, son of Oilill Flann Beag, son of Fiachaidh Muilleathan, son of Eoghan Mor, son of Oilill Olom of the race of Eibhear, held the sovereignty of Ireland seventeen years. Fidheang, daughter of the king ofConnaught, was his wife. This Criomhthann gained victories and obtained sway in Alba, Britain, and France, as the seancha says in the following stanza :—

    1. Criomhthann son of Fiodhach swayed
      The lands of Alba and of Erin;
      He swayed likewise beyond the clear blue sea
      Even the Saxons and the French.

It was also Criomhthann son of Fiodhach who gave the kingdom of Leath Mogha or Munster to his foster-son, namely, to Conall Eachluaith son of Lughaidh Lamhdhearg; and the descendants of Fiachaidh Muilleathan were displeased at this; and they said that Conall did not show himself a good kinsman by accepting it, while there was at the time among the descendants of Fiachaidh one qualified to be a good king, namely, Corc son of Lughaidh. And the arbitration the learned sages of Munster made between them at the time was that Corc son of Lughadh was to have the sovereignty of Munster in the first instance, as he was the senior, and that it was finally to go to the descendants of Cormac Cas. The descendants of Fiachaidh Muilleathan gave sureties and guarantees that they would allow the sovereignty of Munster to pass on the death of Corc to Conall Eachluaith or to his son should Conall himself be not living, as Oilill Olom ordained that it should belong to these two families in alternate generations, that is, the family of Fiachaidh Muilleathan and that of Cormac Cas. It was on that agreement, then, that Conall Eachluaith allowed the sovereignty of Munster to go to Corc son of Lughaidh; and, on the death of Corc, Conall Eachluaith himself took up the sovereignty of Munster; and Criomhthann son of Fiodhach gave the hostages of the men of Ireland, of Alba, Britain, and France into the hands of Conall Eachluaith. And accordingly Cormac son of Cuileannan composed the following stanzas:—

    1. Eachluaith received the tribute of Ireland
      After Criomthann, it was a tribute from abroad;
      Though he had not gone beyond the Sea of Manainn,
      Never did a better king receive it.

    1. As many as great Criomhthann son of Fiodhach brought
      Of hostages over the brimming sea,
      He gave into the hand of the red-speared champion,
      lllustrious noble Conall Eachluaith.

    1. Conall Eachluaith set out on an expedition
      Into every territory after pleasant Criomhthann;
      To Dun Liamhna, illustrious was the warrior,
      Where noble companies were slain.

    1. To him belonged Fearta Conaill in Feimhion,
      Druim Chormaic Aine Dun Gair,
      Cashel Coincheann strong Raith Leamhna,
      Fochair Mhaigh fair Dun Cearmna.


Moingfhionn daughter of Fiodhach, Criomhthann's own sister, gave him a poisoned drink in Inis Dornghlas on Muaidh, in the hope that the sovereignty would pass to her favourite son, that is, Brian son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon; and Criomhthann son of Fiodhach died of the poison of that drink on Sliabh Uidhe an Riogh, on the north side of Luimneach; and Mongfhionn herself died of the poison of the same drink in Inis Dornghlas on Muaidh, having taken some of it to urge her brother to drink it.


Niall Naoighiallach son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, son of Muireadhach Tireach, son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac Ulfhada, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-seven years. Cairionn Chasdubh, daughter of the king of Britain, was Niall's mother. Inne daughter of Lughaidh, wife of Niall, was the mother of Fiachaidh. A second wife of Niall's was Rioghnach, who bore him seven sons, namely, Laoghaire and Eanna, Maine, Eoghan, two Conalls, and Cairbre, as the poet says in this stanza :—

    1. Joyous was the bright Rioghnach
      When she bore Laoghaire son of Niall,
      Eanna, Maine of bright deeds,
      Eoghan, two Conalls, Cairbre.

This Niall went into Alba with a large host to strengthen and to establish the Dal Riada and the Scotic race in Alba, who were at this time gaining supremacy over the Cruithnigh, who are called Picti; and he was the first to give the name Scotia to Alba, being requested to do so by the Dal Riada and the Scotic race, on the condition that she should be called Scotia Minor or Lesser Scotia, while Ireland should be termed Scotia Major or Greater Scotia; and it was through veneration for Scota daughter of Pharao Nectonibus, who was wife of Galamh called Milidh of Spain, from whom they themselves sprang, that the Dal Riada chose the name of Scotia for Alba, instead of calling her Hibernia.

Camden states in his chronicle of Britain that Lesser Scotia was the name of Alba, and Greater Scotia the name of Ireland, and says that it cannot be proved by documents that the Albanians were called Scots till the time of the emperor Constantine the Great. Moreover, Camden gives the Irish the name of Scotorum Attavi, that is, the Forbears of the Scots, thus declaring that the Scots of Alba sprang from the Irish. Thus too he speaks on the same subject: The Scots,(says he,) came from Spain to Ireland in the fourth age. {Scoti ex Hispania in Hiberniam quarta aetate venerunt.}’’

Besides, Nennius, a British author says, according to Camden, that it was in the fourth age of the world that the Scithae—that is, the Scotic race—took possession of Ireland. Moreover, it is plain from the annals of Ireland that Alba was the name of that country up to the time of Niall Naoighiallach; and when the Dal Riada were permitted to call it Scotia, themselves and their descendants kept on that name. Before that time Alba or Albania was the country's name, from Albanactus, third son of Brutus, since it was Alba that fell to him as his share from his father. Now Brutus had three sons according to Monomotensis, namely Laegrus, Camber, and Albanactus; and Brutus divided the island of Great Britain between them; and to Laegrus he gave Laegria, which derives its name from him, and it is this country which is now called Anglia; to Camber he gave Cambria, which is now called Wales; and the third portion to Albanactus, from whom Alba is called Albania.

Niall marched after this with his full host from Alba to Laegria, and made an encampment there; and he sent a fleet to Brittany in France, which is called Armorica, for the purpose of plundering that country; and they brought two hundred noble youths as captives to Ireland with them; and it was in this captivity that they brought Patrick, who was sixteen years old, with them, and his two sisters Lupida and Darerca and many other captives besides.

Many authors testify that Scota was the name of Ireland, and that it was the Irish who were called the Scotic race. Thus does Jonas the abbot, in the second chapter, treating of Columcille, speak: Colman,(he says,) who is called Colum, was born in Hibernia, which is inhabited by the Scotic race. {Columbanus qui et Columba vocatur in Hibernia ortus est; eam Scotorum gens incoluit.}’’

Beda also, in the first chapter of the first book of the History of Sacsa, says that Ireland was the native land of the Scots. He speaks thus: Hibernia is the true fatherland of the Scots. {Hibernia propria Scotorum patria est.}’’ The same author, writing about the saints, makes a remark which agrees with this. He speaks thus: It was from Hibernia, the island of the Scots, that St. Kilian and his two companions came. {Sanctus Kilianus et duo socii eius ab Hibernia Scotorum insula venerunt.}’’ From this it is to be inferred that the Irish were called the Scotic race in the time of Beda, who lived 700 years after Christ. Orosius also, who lived within 400 years after Christ, agrees with the same statement. He thus speaks in the second chapter of the first book: It is the Scotic races that inhabit Ireland. {Hibernia a Scotorum gentibus colitur.}’’ And it is plain that the country which is called Ireland used to be called by authors Scotia. Serarius, writing of St. Kilian, speaks thus: Holy Kilian of the Scotic race, etc.’’ ; and immediately after he uses these words, Scotia, which is also called 'Hibernia'. {Beatus Kilianus Scotorum genere et relqa.}’’ From this it may be inferred that Scotia was a name for Ireland in constant use like Hibernia. The truth of this matter will be seen from the words of Capgrave, writing of St. Colum; he speaks thus: Scotia was an ancient name of Ireland, whence came the Scotic race, who inhabit that part of Alba which lies nearest to greater Britain; and that Alba is now for this reason called Scotia from Ireland, from which they derive their origin, and whence they immediately came. {Hibernia enim antiquitus Scotia dicta est, de qua gens Scotorum Albaniam Britanniae maiori proximam quae ab eventu modo Scotia dicitur inhabitans, originem duxit et progressum habuit.}’’ Marianus Scotus, a Scotic author, writing of St.Kilian, agrees with this. He speaks thus: Although that part of Britain which adjoins Sacsa on the north is now properly called Scotia, nevertheless Beda shows that Ireland was formerly known by that name; for when he states that the Pictish race came from Scythia to Ireland, he adds that it was the Scotic race they found there before them. {Etiamsi hodie Scotia proprie vocetur ea Britanniae pars quae ipsi Angliae contigens ad Septentrionem vergit, olim tamen eo nomine Hiberniam notatam fuisse ostendit D. Beda, cum Scythia Pictorum gentem in Hiberniam venisse ait ibique Scotorum gentem invenisse.}’’ And since it was from the Scotic race the country was named, Scotia was its name at that time.

It is to be inferred also from the words of Caesarius, who lived within 500 years after Christ, that Scotia was the name of Ireland. He thus speaks in the twelfth book of the Dialogues, chap 38: Whoever doubts the existence of Purgatory, let him go to Scotia, and go into the Purgatory of St. Patrick, and he will no longer doubt of the pains of Purgatory. {Qui de Purgatorio dubitat, Scotiam pergat, Purgatorium Sancti Patricii intret, et de Purgatorii poenis amplius non dubitabit.}’’

From the words of this author it is to be inferred that Scotia was a common name for Ireland at that time, as there is no place in Alba called Patrick's Purgatory; and it is plain that the place so called is in Ireland; and hence that it was Ireland Caesarius called Scotia. Serarius, writing on St. Bonifacius, is in accord with this: Scotia was also a name for Ireland. However, since there came from the same land of Ireland a certain race to the east of Britain, where the Picti were dwelling, and there they settled down along with them, and at first were called Dalrheudini (that is, Dal Riada), from their own leader Rheuda (that is, Cairbre Rioghfhada), as Beda affirms. But after this they routed the Picti themselves; and they occupied the entire northern portion of that country; and they gave it the old name of their race, so that there is but one Scotic race. There are, however, two Scotias: one of them, the elder and proper Scotia, is Ireland, and the other, which is recent, is the northern part of Britain. {Hibernia Scotiae sibi nomen etiam vindicabat, quia tamen ex Hibernia ista Scotorum pars quaedam egressa est in eaque Britanniae ora quam Picti iam habebant consederunt; ii quidem principio a duce suo Rheuda Dalrheudini dicti fuerunt, ut ait V. Beda; postea tamen Pictos inde ipsos exegerunt, et boreale totum illud latus obtinuerunt, eique vetus gentus suae nomen indiderunt. Ita ut Scotorum gens una fuerit, sed Scotia duplex facta sit, una vetus et propria in Hibernia, recentior altera in septentrionali Britannia.}’’

I note three things from the words of the author. The first of these is that the Irish are truly the Scots; the second is that it was the Dal Riada that were first called Scots in Alba, since it was they who first conquered the Picti in Alba. The third is that he says that Ireland was the older Scotia, and Alba the new Scotia, and that it was the Scotic race who first called it Scotia. Buchanan, a Scotch author, in the second book of the History of Scotland, makes a statement which bears out the author quoted above. He speaks thus: The inhabitants of Ireland were called Scots, as Orosius points out, and as our own annals record; it was not once only the Scots migrated from Ireland to Alba. {Scoti omnes Hiberniae habitatores initio vocabantur ut indicat Orosius, nec semel Scotorum ex Hibernia transitum in Albiam factum nostri annales referunt.}’’

From this it is to be inferred that it was not the Dal Riada alone who went from Ireland to settle in Alba, but numerous other tribes as well from time to time.


We read in the seanchus of Ireland that the following tribes went to Alba in succession to conquer that country.

First Aonghus Ollbhuadhach son of Fiachaidh Labhruinne went to impose on the Cruithnigh their headrent to the kings of Ireland two hundred and fifty years after the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland. A long time after that, Reachtaigh Rioghdhearg, king of Ireland, went to impose rent on them. Similarly Cairbre Rioghfhada with his host went to invade the north of Alba; and it is the race of Cairbre Rioghfhada that Beda calls the Dalrheudini of Alba. Mac Con went to conquer Alba and Britain; and it was from these countries he came to Ireland to fight the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe in which Art Aoinfhear fell, and Mac Con assumed the sovereignty of all Ireland, as we have said. After this Fathaidh Canann son of Mac Con went to Alba, and took possession of lands there; and from his posterity Mac Cailin and the correlative branches of that family have sprung. Also Colla Uais and his brothers went to Scotland, and they acquired large territories there; and from this Colla Uais sprang the clann Domhnaill of Alba and of Ireland. Criomhthann son of Fiodhach, king of Ireland, went to Scotland to make conquests; and Earc son of Eochaidh Muinreamhar, son of Aonghus Feart of the race of Cairbre Rioghfhada, and his posterity are called clann Eirc and Cineal Gabhran in Alba, and also Cineal Lodhairn, Cineal Comhghaill, and Cineal nAonghusa and the Cineal Con Crice of the Isle, with their branches.

Corc son of Lughaidh went to Alba with an army; and the reason of his going thither was that he had a stepmother named Daol daughter of Fiachaidh son of Niall (king of South Eile); and she was enamoured of him. And when Corc refused to have intercourse with her, she made a complaint of him to his father Lughaidh, in whose presence she wept; and he asked why the maiden wept: ‘For Corc has forced me,’ said she. Lughaidh grew jealous at this, and banished Corc to Alba, where he was welcomed by Fearadhach Fionn or by Fionn-Chormac, king of Alba, and where he was much beloved by reason of his refined manners. He got his own daughter called Moingfhionn married to Corc; and she bore him three sons in Alba, namely, Maine Leamhna, from whom are the Leamhnaigh of Alba; and Cairbre Cruithneach, from whom are the Eoghanacht of Magh Geirrghinn in Alba; and Cronan, from whom are the Cuircnigh in West Meath; and Cronan remained abroad till the time of Laoghaire son of Niall; and he then came to Ireland; and Laoghaire gave him his own daughter called Cairche, and from her is named Machaire Chuirchne; and Niall son of Eochaidh held four other sons of Corc as hostages. The names of the four sons were Corc, Greagha, Dula, and Maine. Corc the younger died in this captivity; and the father released the other three, and took them with him to Munster. In the time of Niall Naoighiallach, Corc son of Lughaidh went to Alba; and long after Niall, six sons of Muireadhach son of Eoghan, son of Niall, went to Alba, namely, two Lodharns, two Aonghuses, and two Fearghuses.

Conall was the first name of Corc son of Lughaidh; and Bolgbhain Breathnach, a censorious woman, was his mother; and she was not his father's wedded wife, since Daol daughter of Fiachaidh son of Niall, king of South Eile, was his wife. Here is a stanza by Giolla an Choimdhe O Corain in proof of this:

    1. Conall was before Corc
      The name of Lughaidh, faultless hero;
      Fire which a caldron preserves through the day,
      It was that purpled his fair ear.

And the reason why he was called Corc was: there were two simpletons in Munster destroying infants; and they made an attack on the place in which Conall, who is called Corc, was, for the purpose of destroying him, and he was hidden under an inverted caldron; and the simpletons traced him, and removed the caldron from over him, and they burned the child's ears, and from the purpling they gave his ears he was called Corc.

Maine Leamhna son of Corc, son of Lughaidh, went from Ireland to Alba, and there occupied territory which is called Magh Leamhna, whence the Mormhaor of Leamhain in Alba is named; and it is he is now called the Duke of Lenox; and it is from this Maine Leamhna son of Corc of the race of Eibhear sprang the noble families of the house of Lenox. It is from a brother of this Maine called Cairbre Cruithneachan sprang the Eoghnacht of Magh Geirrghinn in Alba; and it was after the time of Niall Naoighiallach they went there.

It may similarly be stated of every other tribe of Gaels in Alba that it was from the Gaels of Ireland their nobles sprang. However, the portion of them that are nearest Sacsa who were driven by William the Conqueror over the Saxon borders into Alba, and whose posterity have continuously inhabited the Galldacht of Alba, these are not of the Gaels but of the race of the Saxons; and the same holds of another tribe which we shall mention later on, according to Stow in his annals, page 153. He bears out the same statement where he relates that William, king of Alba, was taken prisoner by Henry the Second, king of England, and then sent by him as a captive to the city of Rouen in Normandy, where he was kept by king Henry in captivity until he was forced to pay four hundred pounds for his ransom. Then, when he was returning, being at peace with the king, he took with him to Alba a large number of young English nobles from whom he had received friendly attentions during his captivity; and he gave much land and territories to them and to their descendants after them; and many of these are in possession of the Galldacht of Alba at this day. Here are some of the surnames of the people who went with him at that time who inhabit Alba at present, and it is they are called the Galldacht of Alba; here are some of these surnames: Baliol, Brus, Soully, Mowbri, Sentcler, Hay, Gifford, Ramsey, Landell, Bisey, Barclay, Wellegen, Boys, Montgomery, Walley, Collomille, Frizer, Grame, Gurlay, and many others; the age of the Lord 1174.

Buchanan agrees with the above, in the thirty-fourth page of the second book of the History of Alba, where he says: Because both the inhabitants of Ireland and the colonists they sent to Alba were originally called Scots, in order that by some difference they might be distinguished from one another, people from the first called the one race Irish Scots, and the other Albanian Scots. {Principio cum utrique, id est Hiberniae incolae et coloni eorum in Albiam missi, Scoti appellarentur, ut discrimine aliquo alteri ab alteris distinguerentur, initio coepere alteri Scoti Ierni, alteri Scoti Albani, vocari.}’’

From these words of Buchanan two things are to be inferred; the first is that it was from Ireland the Scots went to occupy Alba; and the second is that the Irish were ordinarily called Scots from the beginning.

Before we treat of Niall Naoighiallach, we shall give here some events taken from the annals of Stow's Chronicle in confirmation of the truth of all that we have said above, as I imagine that the account we shall give of Niall from the seanchus of Ireland will appear the more credible if I set down these things from a foreign chronicle. Stow speaks as follows: When Marius son of Arviragus was king of Britain in the year of the Lord 73, Rudhruighe, king of the Pictish tribe from Scythia, together with the Scotic race, came to conquer Britain and to waste it with sword and fire; and Marius, above mentioned, gave them battle, and slew Rudhruighe and a large number of his host; and to those of them who survived, he gave lands in the north of Alba to settle down in; and they asked wives of the Britons, but these were unwilling to give them to them. They asked wives of the Irish, and obtained them from them.’’

As to this incident which Stow records of Rudhruighe, king of the Picts, it happened when the Pictish leader took women from Ireland in the time of Eireamhon, as we have said above, and that was more than thirteen hundred years before Marius was king of Britain.

The same author states that it was in the above year of the age of the Lord that Vespasian was made emperor, and that it was ten years before that time that the abbey of Glastonbury was founded. He also states that it was two hundred and seventy-six years after the birth of Christ that the emperor called Aurelianus first wore the imperial crown; and he was the first emperor who wore the imperial crown.

In the year of the Lord 395, Pelagius, a Briton, first began to sow heresy; and at this time the Scotic race and the Picti were wasting and destroying Great Britain; and the Britons sent envoys to the emperor Honorius asking assistance of him; and he only wrote to them requesting them to do all they could for themselves; and hence it came to pass that the Britons were a long time afterwards under the oppression of the Scots and the Picti. And again the Britons sent envoys to Rome; and they made a pitiful complaint of the cruelty towards them of the Scots and the Picts. The Romans sent an armed legion to relieve them; and when these reached Britain, they had several engagements with the Scots and the Picti; and the Roman host, growing weary, told the Britons to build a wall or fence between themselves and their bad neighbours, and that they themselves could not avoid returning to Rome.


As to the Britons, when the Romans had left them, they built a fence of earth from sea to sea between themselves and the Scots and the Picti. And when the Scotic race and the Picti had heard that the Romans had forsaken the Britons, they made a sudden attack on the latter, and broke down the wall and pillaged the country, so that the Britons were forced to send envoys to the Romans a third time, beseeching them not to permit their enemy to despoil them vengefully as they were doing. Upon this the Romans sent another legion to help them; and when these had reached Britain, they had several engagements with the Scots and Picti; and the Romans drove them across the boundary wall of which we have spoken. And when they had thus relieved the Britons, the Romans told them that it was of no advantage to themselves to come on any further expedition of relief to them, and that they should consider how they might protect or guard themselves against the enemy. Accordingly when the Roman army had left them, they began to build the wall that stretches from sea to sea between Britain and Alba, of stonework eight feet thick, and twelve feet high, according to Beda, in the fifth chapter of the first book of the History of Sacsa. When the Scots and the Picti heard that the Romans had refused to come any more to the aid of the Britons, they collected and assembled a large host, and marched towards the wall referred to, and overpassed it and devastated all Britain, so that the Britons were obliged to abandon their stone fortresses and dwellings and betake themselves for refuge to woods and wildernesses, where their sole food was the flesh of the wild beasts they hunted; and the remnant of them that survived wrote piteously to the consul who was in Rome whose name was Boetius, soliciting him for aid; and what they said was that they were hemmed in between the enemy and the sea, for as many of them as took to the sea, fleeing from the enemy, were drowned; and as many of them as turned from the sea were slain by the enemy, as Beda says in the thirteenth chapter of the first book of the History of Sacsa, quoting the words of the Britons when complaining to the Romans of the oppression they suffered from the Scots and Picti. These are the words:

The barbarians force us to the sea, (said they, speaking of the Scots and the Picti;) the sea throws them [us] back upon the barbarians; and by this twofold death, we are either slain or drowned, said they. {Repellunt barbari ad mare, repellit mare ad barbaros, inter haec oriuntur duo genera funerum, aut iugulamur aut mergimur.}’’

From this it may be inferred that the oppression exercised by the Scots of Ireland over the Britons was very great. Nennius, an ancient British author says, according to Speed's Chronicle, that the Scots and the Picti oppressed Britain for a period of forty years; and Camden, agreeing with this, says: Five hundred years after Caesar came to Britain, that country was left to the barbarity of the Scots and the Picti. {Anno 500 a Caesaris ingressu Britannia Pictorum et Scotorum immanitati relinquitur.}’’

This may also be inferred from the words of Beda in the fourteenth chapter of the same first book, in which, speaking of the Irish, he says: The shameless Irish plunderers return to their homes, (says he,) to come back soon again. {Revertuntur impudentes grassatores Hiberni domum post non longum tempus reversuri.}’’

From these words of Beda it may be inferred that the Irish would often go on expeditions of plunder into Britain.

As to the Britons, they were a long time without being pillaged or plundered by the Scots and the Picti after the Romans had left them. But this oppression was not the only misfortune the Britons suffered from at that time. The Pelagian heresy was then deluding the people; and the Britons determined to send to the French clergy, asking them to send prelates and preachers to them from France to put down the Pelagian heresy. Upon this, the French clergy sat in council, and resolved to send two holy bishops to propagate the pure faith amongst them, namely, Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus, bishop of Troyes; and when they arrived, they vanquished the heretics.

Notwithstanding what we have said, a constant warfare existed between the Scots and the Britons to the time of Vortigern, who was king of Britain in the year of the Lord 447. However, on account of the evil passions and the pride and the sins of the Britons at that time, God gave the Scots and the Picti the victory over them, so that they were obliged to bring over Horsus and Hingistus with their German host to assist them against the Scots and the Picti. And God used these Germans as a scourge to deprive the Britons of the sovereignty of all Britain ever since. The chroniclers of Britain relate, as Stow notes in the fifty-third page of the first part of his Chronicle, which was printed in London in the year of the Lord 1614, that 480 of the British nobles were treacherously slain by the Saxons, and that Aurelius Ambrosius, the king of Britain at that time, ordered that of the stones which Merlin took over to Britain from Sliabh gClaire in Munster a monument be raised on the spot on which these nobles were slain. It was, moreover, in the same place that he himself was buried. And the place was then called Chorea Gigantum; and it is now called Stone Henge on Salisbury Plain. And the same author says that it was from Africa the Gaels brought these stones; and Monomotensis says that no two of the stones were taken from the same country.

From this we may infer that the Gaels were wont to go to Africa to plunder that country, and that they were therefore powerful in other countries besides Ireland; and whoever should be surprised at these events or disbelieve them let him blame himself for it, for not having seen or searched the records. For often one is ignorant of the truth through not having made himself familiar with the old books of the ancients, as Macrobius points out in the sixth book of the Saturnalia, in which he says: We are ignorant of many things which should not be hidden from us if we were accustomed to read the ancients {Multa ignoramus quae non laterent si veterum lectio nobis esset familiaris.}’’; thus, when we state that the Scots and the Picti exacted a tribute from the Britons, if the reader disbelieves us, let him read Camden's chronicle, and he will find therein these words: The Britons were made to pay tribute to the Scots in the year of the Lord 446 {Britanni facti sunt tributuarii Scotis et Pictis anno Christi 446.}’’ ; or if we state that the Picti were extinguished by the Scots when Cinneide son of Ailpin was king of Alba 839 years after the birth of Christ, let him read Camden's chronicle, and he will find there testimony to the same event; or were we to assert that no foreign nation ever acquired full supremacy over Ireland except the tribes that successively occupied it, namely, Partholon, the clanna Neimidh, the Fir Bholg, and the Tuatha De Danann, and the sons of Milidh, perhaps we should not be believed unless the reader had seen what Gulielmus Nubrigensis has written, treating of Ireland, in the twenty-sixth chapter of the second book of his history, in which he says, Ireland never submitted to a foreign power. {Hibernia nunquam externae subiacuit ditioni.}’’ Similarly, if I make statements here concerning Niall Naoighiallach which the reader has not heard hitherto, let him know that I have song or story to prove every statement I advance here.


We read in a Life of Patrick, which we found written in an old vellum book, together with the Life of Mochuda and Abban, and other saints, that Patrick was a Briton. These are the words of the old book: Patrick, (it says,) a Briton, born in the town called Nemptor, in the Plain of the Tabernacles, of pious and religious parents. {Patricius Brito natus in oppido Nemptor in Campo Taburno .i. tabernaculorum, ex parentibus devotis et religiosis ortus.}’’

In the same place it uses these words: After the Scots from Ireland, together with their king Niall Naoighiallach, had plundered many territories in opposition to the Roman sovereignty, they severely pillaged Britain—the northern portion of it at first; and when they had banished the old tribes from it, they themselves dwelt in it. {Cum Scoti de Hibernia sub rege suo Niall Naoighiallach diversas provincias Britanniae contra Romanum imperium multum devastabant, contendere incipientes aquilonalem Britanniae plagam tandem, ejectis veteribus colonis, ipsi Hibernenses eam occupaverunt et habitaverunt.}’’

The same author says in the same place that it followed from this that there were three kingdoms in Great Britain, namely, Scotia, Anglia, and Britannia. The same author states that it was at this time, when Niall Naoighiallach was on this expedition planting the Dal Riada in Alba, an Irish fleet went to the place where Patrick dwelt. These are the author's words: An Irish fleet, (he says,) went at this time to the place where St. Patrick was, to pillage the country, and, as was the custom with the Irish, they brought a large number of captives with them, together with St. Patrick, then aged sixteen years, and his two sisters, namely Lupida and Darerca; and St. Patrick was brought as a captive to Ireland in the ninth year of the reign of Niall, king of Ireland, who held strenuously the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-seven years, and who pillaged Wales and Anglia to the sea that lies between Anglia and France. {Hoc autem tempore quaedam classis Hibernica depredavit patriam in qua morabatur D. Patricius et, consueto Hibernorum more, multi inde captivi ducti sunt, inter quos erant D. Patricius aetatis suae anno decimo sexto et duae eius sorores Lupida et Darerca; et ductus est Patricius in Hiberniam captivus anno nono Néill regis Hiberniae qui potenter 27 annis regnavit ac Britanniam et Angliam usque ad mare quod est inter Angliam et Galliam devastavit.}’’

From the above words we may believe that Niall Naoighiallach entered Great Britain, and that he made conquests there.

I am also of opinion that it was while Niall was making conquests in Great Britain that he sent a fleet to pillage the borders of France, to the country which is called Armorica, which is now called Little Britain, and that it was thence Patrick and his two sisters were brought as captives. I am the more convinced of the truth of this from the fact that Patrick's mother was sister to Martin, who was bishop of Tours in France, and because I read in an old book, in which is the Life of Patrick in Irish, that it was from Armorica Patrick and his two sisters were brought into captivity.

It is moreover likely that, since Niall was making conquests in Great Britain at that time, it was from Britain he sent a fleet to the borders of France, where Patrick and those who came with him into captivity resided. And besides I read in the old books of the seanchus that hostages were brought from France to Niall, and amongst these I believe was Patrick.

Now as to Niall, having taken many captives from Britain, he arrived in Ireland with a large host of Britons and of Irish; and he assembled additional forces, and sent word to Alba, to the chief of Dal Riada, requesting him to follow him with all his host to France.

Niall proceeded forthwith to France with a numerous host; and the chief of Dal Riada with his host overtook him as he was plundering France in the neighbourhood of the river Loor. And at that time the king of Leinster, having been banished by Niall to Alba, was under the protection of Gabhran son of Domhanghurt, chief of Dal Riada; and when this Gabhran went after Niall to France, Eochaidh (the king of Leinster) accompanied him. But Eochaidh did not dare to go into Niall's presence; and when Niall had sat down on the brink of the river, Eochaidh went to the other side of the river, into an oak grove which was there, and got ready an arrow in his bow, and cast it at Niall, and sent it through his body, so that he immediately expired.

The enmity between Eochaidh and Niall arose from Eochaidh's conspiring to settle down in Tara as king in the room of Niall; and when he had been nine days in Tara, a learned druid came into his presence and said to him that it was not lawful for him to violate the geasa of Tara; ‘for it is one of his geasa,’ said he, ‘that no king should settle down in Tara with a view to assuming the sovereignty of Ireland till he should first wear the nasc niadh round his neck.’ This was the same as to say that he should have received the degree of Knight of Chivalry. For as the Knight of Chivalry is called Miles Torquatus, so also Nia Naisc is applied in Irish to the champion who wore a nasc or chain round his neck. For nia means 'champion' or 'valiant man', and nasc means 'a chain'.

As to Eochaidh, when he heard the druid's instruction, he quitted Tara and relinquished the sovereignty. Niall came after that and settled down in Tara, and assumed the sovereignty of Ireland; and he banished Eochaidh to Alba after he had met him in several engagements; and it was for this reason that Eochaidh slew Niall as we stated above. Another cause of enmity between them was that when Eochaidh was going from Tara to Leinster, he went into the house of Laidcheann son of Bairrchidh, Niall's druid; and while he was there, the druid's son used defamatory language towards him, and on that account Eochaidh slew him.

Now, the druid made a complaint of this to Niall, and asked him to come and avenge the death of his son on the men of Leinster; and incited by the druid, Niall went into Leinster with a strong and imposing host to waste Leinster. And when they reached Leinster, the druid would not consent to Niall's accepting gifts or cattle from the Leinstermen until they had delivered the person of Eochaidh into the hands of Niall. And, to prevent the spoiling of Leinster, Eochaidh put himself in the power of Niall; and the druid ordered him to be tied to a pillar-stone which is to be seen to the west of the Slaine, between Cill Brighde and Tulach O Feidhlimidh; and that stone is in a standing position; it is high and broad, and perforated near the very top; and Eochaidh was obliged to stand with his back against the stone and an iron chain round his waist, with both ends of the chain passing through a hole that was in the pillar, and a stout iron spindle-bolt stuck through the two loops at the ends of the chain; and when the druid observed him in this position, he got ready nine warriors to put him to death.

When Eochaidh perceived the warriors approach, with intent to slay him, he stoutly shook himself in champion fashion, and forthwith strained the chain and broke the bolt, and escaped from the warriors with difficulty, after he had slain some of them; and no account is given of his proceedings till he reached Alba, under the protection of Gabhran son of Domhanghart, as we have said. And this was the second reason why he was at enmity with Niall.



Now, when Eochaidh was thus an exile in Alba, some say that the wife of Gabhran, who was called Ingheanach, and the wife of Eochaidh Feidhlim, daughter of Cobhthach son of Dathi, were both pregnant at the same time, and were brought to bed on the same night. The two women were shut up in the same house, no one being with them, but both being together, while there was a guard placed on the outside by Gabhran. As to these women, Gabhran's wife gave birth to a daughter, and the wife of Eochaidh to twin sons. Now, Gabhran's wife never brought forth any children but daughters; and as the wife of Eochaidh had brought forth twin sons, she asked her to give her one of them, and Eochaidh's wife consented to this. When the household, who were on guard, perceived that the women had been delivered, they asked the queen what offspring she had given birth to; she said that she had given birth to a son and daughter, and that the wife of Eochaidh had given birth to a son. All were delighted at this; and this son which the queen got from Eochaidh's wife had a name given him, and he was called Aodhan son of Gabhran; and Eochaidh's second son was called Brandubh son of Eochaidh. And after this, Eochaidh and his son came to Ireland, and he himself assumed the sovereignty of Leinster.

And a long time after this, Gabhran, chief of Dal Riada, who was king of Alba, died; and Aodhan assumed the sovereignty of Alba after him, and came to spoil and plunder Ireland, and endeavoured to conquer it, as he was of the posterity of Cairbre Rioghfhada. A large company of the men of Anglia, Alba, and Wales came with him; and when they landed in Ireland, they set to plunder Leinster in the first instance. Brandubh son of Eochaidh at that time held the sovereignty of Leinster; and Aodhan sent envoys demanding hostages from him as securities for his paying tribute to him, saying that otherwise he would waste the whole territory of Leinster. While Brandubh was in trouble at this message, his mother told him to take courage, and that she would avert the attack of Aodhan from him. Upon this the mother went to the camp of Aodhan; and when she had reached it, she inquired of Aodhan why he had come to waste Leinster. ‘Thou hag,’ said he, ‘I am not obliged to give thee any information on that matter.’ ‘If I be a hag,’ said she, ‘thy mother is a hag; and I have something to say to thee in secret.’ Thereupon he went with her apart. ‘Aodhan,’ said she, ‘I told thee that thy mother was a hag; and I tell thee now that I am she, and that accordingly Brandubh is thy brother. Therefore, send to Alba for thy supposed mother, and she will confess, in my presence, that I am thy mother; and until we meet, do thou refrain from spoiling Leinster.’

He acted as the woman directed; and when the women came together, the queen of Alba admitted that it was Brandubh's mother who gave birth to Aodhan; and when he heard this, he bound the women to keep the matter a close secret lest he should lose the sovereignty of Alba at the hands of the Dal Riada should they become aware of the affair. Thereupon, he sent for Brandubh; and they both formed a friendly alliance; and Aodhan left the country without inflicting injury on it. However, the Brandubh who was king of Leinster was not a son of this Eochaidh son of Eanna Cinnsealach, as will clearly appear in the second book of this history.

As to Niall, of whom we are treating, numerous are his descendants in Ireland sprung from his eight sons. But we shall not enumerate them here, because we intend to speak of them at length in the genealogy of the sons of Milidh. Now this king is called Niall Naoighiallach, from his having received nine hostages or nine captives, five of them from the provinces of Ireland, and four from Alba; and it was on this subject that the poet composed the following stanzas:

    1. Son of the noble Eochaidh of honour
      Was Niall, modest in each high distinction;
      He held the sovereignty of successions
      In Erin and in Alba.

    1. He got a hostage from each province
      In Erin through high valour;
      He brought under his sway, without blemish,
      Four hostages from Alba.

    1. Hence he was called
      In the mansions of the great,
      Through the gold of the prosperous kings,
      Niall of the nine hostages, the heroic.

Dathi son of Fiachraidh, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, son of Muiredhach Tireach, son of Fiachraidh Sraibhthine, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-three years. Fial daughter of Eochaidh, from whom is named Cruachan Feile, was his first wife. His second wife was Eithne daughter of Orach and mother of Oilill Molt. His third wife, Ruadh daughter of Airteach Uichtleathan son of Fear Congha, was mother of Fiachraidh Ealgach; and she died in bringing him forth. Fearadhach was his proper name at first; and he was called Dathi, for dathi} means 'quick'; and it was because of the quickness with which he put on his armour that he was called Dathi. And the manner in which Dathi was slain was this: a flash lightning descended from heaven on his crown when he was engaged in conquering France; and it was near the Alp mountains he was slain by the vengeance of God, since he had pillaged the penitentiary of a holy hermit called Parmenius who cursed him. And when he was slain in this manner, his friends brought his body to Ireland and buried it in Roilig na Riogh at Cruachain.