translated by John O'Donovan
Electronic edition compiled by Benjamin Hazard
Funded by University College, Cork and
The HEA via the LDT Project.
2. Second draft.
Extent of text: 11300 words
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: G102003
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Created: transcribed by clerical scribes from earlier deeds Date range: 1150-1200.
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Benjamin Hazard (ed.)
Benjamin Hazard (ed.)
Benjamin Hazard (ed.)
Benjamin Hazard (ed.)
Staff of the CURIA Project (ed.)
The following Irish deeds are printed from the splendid MS. of the Gospels called the Book of Kells, preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, which, there is every reason to believe, was executed in the time of St. Columbkille. It would be out of place here to attempt a description of this MS., or to put together the evidences of its antiquity. It must suffice to observe, that the existence of the following charters, which have been copied into it, is sufficient to connect it with the monastery of Kells; and that it was in existence there in the year 1006, and then regarded as one of the most splendid relics of the western world, will appear from the following entry in the Annals of Ulster, under that year:
Anno Domini M[ordm ].ui[ordm ] (alias 1007) Soiscelae Mor Coluim Cille do dubgait is ind aidhci as ind iardom iartharach in daim liac moir Cenannsa. Prim mind iarthair domain ar ai in comdaigh doendai. In soscela-sin do foghbail dia fichet adaig ar dib misaib iar ngait de a oir, & fot tairis.
Anno Domini 1006 (alias 1007) The great Gospel of Columb-kille was sacrilegiously stolen by night out of the western porticus of the great church of Kells. This was the chief relic of the western world on account of the singular cover. This Gospel was found in twenty nights and two months, with its gold stolen off, and a sod over it.1
Muinter cennansa erraid deoraid ro edpair ard camma .i. baile ui uidrín co na muiliund & co na herund uili, & baile ui comgain cona herund uili & cona muiliund, do dia & do cholum cilli & dond epscop uí cellaig do senoir fer midi uili, & do maelmaire uí robartaig, do chind in disirt .i. hi teirt id. nouimir, la feili martain .i. in bliadhain at báthatar bai herenn & a mucca. Itteat inso na maithe ro edpratar .i. Muiredach ua clucain abb cennansa conanign ua breslen in sacart guaere ua clucain in ferlegind aed mac mic rechtacan in fosairchennech fiad laichaibh mathib imdaib .i. i fiadnaise tigernán uí ruairc rig fer breibne uile & gafraid ui regelluig (.i. ri macaire gaileng) & ade ui egra & fiad maccaib uí ruairc .i. donnchad & sittriucc ro edparthea dan na da baile sen .i. luigne connacht.
Disiurt cennannsa, do deoradaib craibdechaib do gres. Cipé tra laech no clerech ti in agid in cintisea bid esconte hé o colum cille & fhinán, & óclerchib herenn, óndh eclais cristaide co coitchenn.
Ro edpair rí temhrach h. 2. maelsechnaill mac conchobair hui mailshechnaill, ocus commarbba coluim cille .h. 2. domnall mac robartaig con hulib sruithib cenansa archena eter sacart ocus epscop ocus fer ligenn. ro edpair dno cid in fosairchennech .h. 2. cormacc mac rechtocan com macclerchib samtha coluim chille archena, ro edpairset didu na huli sin disiurt choluim chille hi cenunnus cona lubgortán do dia ocus do deoradaib craidbechaib do gres cen sheilb ndilis do nach erraid ann trea biuthu co ro chinne a bethaid do dia ocus corop craidbech.
Is iat imorra sláin ocus dilsi do rata ina dilsi in disirt sin, h. 2. sruithi cenansa faden cona nabbaid, Ri mide h. 2. maelsechnaill mac conchobair hui maelsechnaill co rigraid ocus dechdoinib mide ar chena, Donnchad mac airdd huí ruairgg ri connacht ocus galeng, in garbanach hua corran co nocthigernaib galeng ar chena, hi fiadnaisi rig casil na rig .h. 2. donnchada
p.132meicc carthaich hui chellachain chasil rofonaisced dilsi in disirt sin.
Bennacht isu crist ocus choluim chille cos na huilib noebaib nime ocus talman for cec noen mórfas cadus ocus cháthaid na edpartu sin. Mallacht imorra ocus mírad o dia cona noebaib forsin ti thicfa in agid cátad ocus chadussa na edparta sin. Bendacht imorra de bithbi co na hulib firenaib for an rí ocus for an nabbaid ocus for an sammad ro dilsigset in disiurt sa do dia ocus dia chraidbechaib. Oraid do mac maras tróg ro scrib soire ocus dilsi in disiurta sa do dia ocus dia chraidbechaib.
Ferand do rúagell saccart cenandsa cona braethrib .i. oa breslen cona braithrib .i. isse inso in ferand .i. achad muine choscain cossin nachod mór ar a bélaib ocus cona lenu ocus cona mónaí .i. corrice in lathaig riss anes ocus cossin choélachod ris anair ocus cos sid aithlius ris anair co na lanntaib ocus frith lanntaib ocus co na aithche .i. cossin lathaig domnaig móir. Ocus is sé so in lóg, .i. xuiii. nungai co fuilledaib ailib .i. co fichet ungai iar dóthucht. Ocus ó ua riamán dergled, .i. a ferand díles fein. Ocus iteat so sís inna commairge & ina dílse do ratai and. Oengus mac mic rancáin lántoísech síl tuathail & coile follomain, ocus gilla odor mac mic ruadacháin ocus cudub mac
p.134mic comgain .i. o claínd ruadrach sen, ocus cuduilig óa sneain co na braithrib ó claind murchada sen, ocus oa gormán ó claind conaill, ocus tri micmeic cernaig, ocus da mac meic sherraig, ocus mac ui dubthaig doclaind chongalaig inna ndílsi foraib fen & for huíb riaman cossnaib uilib commairgib se reót ocus idiaid foraib fen .i. for claind chongalaig [...] ocus erchennech grellege & secnap & a bachall reódaide & erchennech cille scire & bachall scíre, & conall mac duib ocus iarnán .i. o shordus ule sen, ocus combarba coluim cille, .i. ferdomnach oa clucáin co samud coluim cille ule, ocus oengus oa domnallán in tanmcara
p.136.i. commarba in dissert coluim cille, ocus ind epscop óa dúnán .i. senoir leithe cuind, ocus rí temrach .i. domnall mac flaind huí maelshechnaill, ocus coss in cethor comothec ass in cetharaird .i. gilla beccán mac cillai shechnaill, oa oedan airchennech grencha, ocus ossin mac ectghail aistíre cennansa, ocus mac duibdaman airchennech ratha beccán, ocus óa fiachrach airchennech domnaig móir. Ocus is amlaid rogabta inna commairge se uile iar duidecht i timcell ind eraind do lár ind erainnd. Ocus bennacht de fors naib commairgib se uile nára trécet a commairge, ocus ní raib enech na comairce ó dia occu dia trécet. & issamlaid atá in ferannsa acht ni rodlecht nach císs de ria luaig & ní dlegar iar na luaigh.
Fechtastánic Conchobor ua maelshechlaind do síthradaui aeda .i. riagilla coloim [...] coaltan cenandsa co tarat comarba colaim cille (.i. maelmoire uauchtan) co na samud & co na minnaib [...]
p.138nocht chommairche friu, & conasragaib for a muin do altoir coluim cille & conasruc leis co les luigdech & co ros dall is in glind ri dún meic cennán a ndes. Conid i cinaid in tsháraigthe sein do rat conchobor ua maelsechlaind cill delga co na crích & co na ferund do dia & do colum cille co brath cen cis cen chobach cen fecht cen luaged cen choinnim ríg na toisig fuirri mar [...] ba raeimi, ar ni laimed taisech a tadall etir céin ro bai i crich. Ocus a teat so inna commairche & inna slána do rata and .i. amalgaid comarba patraic co mbachaill ísu & comarba finnén & comarba ciarán cona minnaib ó cleirchib, ri imorra telcha airdd .i. oengus ua cainelbain, & ri telcha cail .i. maelisu mac coirthen, & ri maige lacha .i. gilla griguir ua dummaige, & ri tuath luigne .i. laidgnen mac maelan, o laecaib, & mor ingen meic conchobair ind rígan cen nach nathcor na commairce sen co brath. I fiadnaise fer mide eter laechu & cleirchiu do rata na slana sein & na commairche, & tucsat uile eter laechu & cleirchiu a mbennachtain do cach rig na
p.140tairgad dar in saire sein co brath, & tucsat uile a mallachtain do cach rig do roised tairis sein. & gid guasacht do cach rí sarugud coluim cille is guasachtucha do rig & gid guasacht do cách rig is guasachtucha do rig temrach, uair is brathair hé do colum cille.
Land ro chennaig congal ua brestlen .i. leth lainded meicc aeda cerd .i. iteat irratha filet inna dílsi aire fein & ar cach duine archena .i. comarba coluim chille .i. gilla adomnan ua coirthen, & sacart cenandsa .i. maelmártain ua brestlen & ferlegind cenandsa .i. guaire ua clucain [...] airchennech thige oeiged .i. oengus mac gillaibain & cúmara macc mic duairc ua m[...] anad mac oissin & in fosaircennech .i. muiridach mac meic rectacan & toisech [...] mac manchan & toisech na scoloc .i. oengus ua gamna. Ise inso log [...] ocus fland mac meic aeda & unga fon dilsi [...] airchennech.
Sochur arda brecan ó rig erendh o muirchertach ua lochlaindh & o diarmait ua malshechlaindh o rig midi & o rig loigaire o aed mac conulad ua chaennulbán. Araile dochur ro boí o loígairib ar indh eclais .i. adaig coinnmeda cech raithi. ro aslaig ua lochlaind rig erend & diarmait ua maelshechlaind rig mide ar ríg loegaire reic na haidche sin co bráth. ar tri hunghaib dór conid soer din ó díb modaib ind eclas co na crích & co na ferundh ar shaire coitchindh na nule neclas & ar in cendhaigecht sin conid scartha din ó na huilib modaib amlaid sin ard mhrecan fri
p.144Loégairib. IS iat so slána in tshochuir sin & na soire, .i. gilla meicliac comarba patraic muirchertach rig erend, diarmait mac domnaill meic murchaid rig mide étrú ua miadacan espcop mide, Congalach mac shenan rig galengh Imar ua cathasaig rig saitne, domnall ua braín rig luigne, maelruanaid ua ciarda rig cairpre, moélcrón mac gilli shechlaindh rig deiscirt breg, murchad ua findhullan rig delbna, mac rónan ríg cairpre gabra, in ogshaire na hecailse co brath, can chomaithches
p.146sliged no cailled acht a bith icoichend do muintir arda brecan amal bias do cach midiuch ar china.
Dorogill gilla crist mac manchan in ferand ar do láim shoscela ic dola sís ar ammus atha catán no ar do laim b [...] ain anís ón áth ó maccaib beollain .i. o choin ulad ocos ó brathair maelciarain. & is é in log xxiiii. unga ficet .i. dargut fritoeb legind mic coin ulad ? ITé na slána .i. moenach ua cinetha ercinnech atha daloarg & aed ua mailscire do shon. & scolaige ua labrat risogain. & is é in scolaige hísein rucastair fiach broit corcra alámaib mic
p.148imair acabrithi inna fordilsi. Mael brig [...] nan comarba cholaim cille & guare ua clucain in fer legind & sacart cenannsa & da toisech clebarta ocos dom [...] oc muintir cenannsa in n-ogdilsi in fherend ar meic mic beolain & ar cech nune ar cena no luadfed in ferand. Ite [...] o galengaib. Gille crist ua loiste co na chlaind & mac gillaibrigti mic athgidi o ua murthim ocos mac ui ar [...] .i. o [...] & mac danair o uaib Gelogan. & Dongal ua buachaillen ó claind cormaic, fiachraig imorra mac congail ercinnech [...] ua cinetha ercinnech imlig i slanigecht ind fheraind cetna. Maelruanaid mac meic cinnaith & amlaib mac meic fiacrac [...] ó u briuin. Ise imorro cricad ind eraind sin otá in sifóic anes co tuascert lochain patruic fo tuaid. errai in muilind umorro isé nos crícand dhonleith aile.
The family of Kells have granted for the support of pilgrims,3 Ardcanna,4 i.e. Baile Ui Uidhrin,5 with its mill, and with all its land, and Baile Ui Chomhgain,6 with all its land, and with its mill, to God, and to Columbkille, and to the Bishop o'Cellaigh, the senior of all the men of Meath, and to Maelmuire O'Robhartaigh, head of the Disert,7 on the third isle of the Ides of November, the feast of Martin, in the year when the kine and swine of Ireland perished by a pestilence. Here are the chiefs who made this grant, namely, Muredhach O'Clucain, abbot of Kells; Conaing O'Breslen, the priest; Guaire O'Clucain, the lector; Aedh, the son of Mac Rechtogan, the vice-erenagh. In the presence of many distinguished laymen, (i.e.) in the presence of Tiernan O'Rourke, King of the men of all Breifny;8 Godfrey O'Reilly, King of Machaire Gaileng, and Ade O'Hara; and in the presence of the sons of O'Rourke, Donnchadh, and Sitric, these two townlands, in Luighne, of Connaught, were granted.
The Disert of Kells9 is granted to pious pilgrims for ever. Whatever layman or clergyman shall oppose this grant, he shall be accursed of Columbkille, and Finan, and the clergy of Ireland, and of the Christian Church in general.
The king of Tara has granted,10 that is, Maelsechnaill,11 son of Conchobhar12 O'Maelsechnaill, and the comharba successor of Columbkille, that is, Domhnall Mac Robhartaigh,13 with all the ecclesiastics of Kells, in like manner, both priest, and bishop, and professor; also the vice-erenagh has granted, that is, Cormac Mac Rechtogain,14 with young clerics of the congregation of Columbkille in like manner; these have all granted for ever Disert-Columbkille in Kells, with its vegetable garden, to God and pious pilgrims; no pilgrim having any lawful possession in it at any time until he devotes his life to God, and is devout.
These are the guarantees and securities given for securing the grant of this Disert, viz. the clergy of Kells themselves, with their abbot; the King of Meath, that is, Maelsechnaill, the son of Conchobhar O'Maelsechnaill, with the kings and chieftains of Meath in like manner; Donnchadh,15 the son of Art16 O'Rourke, King of Connaught and Galeng,17 the Garbhanach18 O'Corran,19 with the young lords of Galeng in like manner; in the presence of the King of Cashel of the Kings,
p.133that is Donnchadh, the son of Carthach, descendant of Ceallachan of Cashel, this grant of Disert was confirmed.
The blessing of Jesus Christ and of Columbkille, with all the saints of heaven and earth, upon every one who shall increase the respect and veneration of this grant. But a curse and a misfortune from God and his saints upon the person who shall oppose the respect and veneration of this grant. The blessing of the living God and of all the just upon the king, the abbot, and the congregation who confirmed this Disert to God and his pious pilgrims. A prayer for Mac Maras Trogh, who wrote the freedom and the confirmation of this Disert to God and his pious pilgrims.
Land which the priest of Kells and his kinsmen purchased, i.e. O'Breslan and his kinsmen. This is the land, viz. Achadh Muine Choscain,20 with Achad mor21 lying opposite to it, and with their meadows and bogs, i.e. as far as the lathach22 to the south, and as far as Coel-Achach23 to the east, and as far as Sidh Aithlius24 to the east, with their houses and out-houses, and with its lawns, i.e. as far as the lathach of Domnach mor.25 And this is the price, eighteen ounces of gold, with other additional considerations, i.e. to the value of twenty ounces. And from O'Riaman26 it was purchased, it being his own lawful land. The following are the guarantees and sureties given in it, Oengus,27 the son of Mac Rancan,28 full chief of Sil-Tuathail and
p.135Coill-Follamhain,29 and Gilla-Odhar,30 the son of Mac Ruadachan,31 and Cu-dubh,32 the son of Mac Comhgain;33 these were of the Clann-Ruadach;34 and Cu-duilig35 O'Sneain36 with his kinsmen, these were of the Clann-Murchadha;37 and O'Gorman of the Clann-Conaill;38 the three sons of Mac Cearnach,39 and the two sons of Mac Searraigh,40 and the son of O'Dubhthaigh,41 of the Clann-Congalaigh,42 as guarantees for themselves and for the O'Riamains, with all the guarantees already and hereafter mentioned for themselves, i.e. for the Clann-Congalaigh [...] and the Erenagh of Grellach,43 and the Sech-nabb44 and the Crozier of Reodaidhe,45 and the Erenagh of Cill Scire,46 and the Crozier of Scire, and Conall Mac Duibh, and Iarnan, i.e. all these are of Sord,47 and the
p.137Comharba of Columbkille, Ferdomnach O'Clucain,48 with all the congregation of Columbkille, and Oengus O'Domhnallain,49 the Anmchara,50 i.e. Comharba of Disert-Columbkille; and the Bishop O'Dunan, senior of Leth-Chuinn;51 and the King of Tara, i.e. Domhnall, the son of Flann O'Maelsechnaill, and with the four strangers from the four cardinal points, i.e. Gilla-Becan,52 Mac Gilla-Sechnaill, O'Oedhan,53 Erenagh of Greanach,54 and Oisin Mac Eachtghail55 Ostiarius of Kells; and Mac Duibhdaman,56 Erenagh of Rath-Beccan,57 and O'Fiachrach,58 Erenagh of Domhnach mor,59 and these sureties were taken as they were passing around the land, and through the middle of the land, and the blessing of God upon all these sureties, so they do not violate their guarantee; and they shall not have defence or protection from God if they violate it. No rent is due of this land before its being purchased, or after its being purchased.
One time that Conchobhar O'Maelsechlainn came to a peaceful conference with the grandson of Aedh (i.e. Gilla Coluimb [...] alumnus of Kells), so that the Comharba of Columbkille (i.e. Maelmuire O'Uchtain) with his congregation and reliques [...] came to give them
p.139protection. But he Conchobhar took him Gilla Columb on his back from the altar of Columbkille and carried him to Les-Luigdech,61 and deprived him of sight in the valley which is to the south of Dun-mic-Cennan.62 It was in atonement for this violation that Conchobhar O'Maelsechlainn gave Cill-Delga, with its territory and lands, to God and to Columbkille for ever, no king or chieftain having rent, tribute, hosting, coigny, or any other claim on it as [...] before, for no chief durst touch it while staying in the territory. Now these were the sureties and guarantees given in it viz. Amalgaidh, Comharba of Patrick, with the staff of Jesus;63 the Comharba of Finnen;64 the Comharba of Ciaran65 with his reliques, of the clergy; also the King of Telach-ardd,66 Oengus O'Cainelbain; the King of Telach-Cail,67 Mael-Isu Mac Cairthen;68 the King of Magh-Lacha,69 Gilla-Griguir O'Dummaig;70 the King of Tuath Luighne,71 Laignen Mac Moelain,72 of the laity; and also Queen Mor, the daughter of the son of Conchobhar, without any revocation of this for ever. In the presence of the men of Meath, both clergy and laity, these sureties and guarantees were given; and they all, both laity and clergy, gave
p.141their blessing to every king who should not violate this freedom for ever; and they all gave their curse to any king who should violate it; and though it is dangerous for every king to violate Columbkille, it is particularly dangerous for the King of Tara, for he is the relative of Columbkille.73
A house74 was purchased by Congal O'Breslen, i.e. the half house of Mac Aedha Cerd.75 These are the sureties for its perpetuity for themselves and for all men in like manner; viz. the Comharba of Columbkille, i.e. Gilla-Adomnan O'Coirthen; and the Priest of Kells, i.e. Maelmartin O'Breslen; and the Lector of Kells, i.e. Guaire O'Clucain [...] ; the Erenagh of the hospital,76 i.e. Oengus Mac Gillabain;77 and Cumara, the son of Mac Duarc O'M[...] Anad Mac Oisin78 and the Fos-Erenagh,79 i.e. Muiridhach,80 the son of Mac Rechtacan;81 and the Chief of [...] Mac Manchan;82 and the Chief of the Scologes,83 i.e. Oengus O'Gamhna.84 This is the price given to [...] and Flann, the son of Mac Aedha, and an ounce of gold for the fee-simple [...] the Erenagh.
The freedom of Ard Breacain 85 granted by the King of Ireland, i.e. Muirchertach O'Lochlainn, and by Diarmaid O'Maelsechlainn, King of Meath, and by the King of Loeghaire,86 Aedh,87 the son of Cu Uladh88 O'Caenulbhain. The Loegrians89 had a certain tribute of the church, viz. one night's Coinmhe90 every quarter of a year. O'Lochlainn, King of Ireland, and Diarmaid O'Maelsechlain, King of Meath, induced the King of Loeghaire to sell this night's coinmhe for ever, for three ounces of gold. The church, therefore, with its territory and lands, is free, for two reasons, viz. on account of the general freedom of all churches, and on account of this purchase. And Ard Brecain is thus by all means separated from the Loegrians. These are the guarantees
p.145of this freedom and liberty, viz. Gilla-Mac-Liag, the comharba of Patrick; Muirchertach, King of Ireland; Diarmaid, the son of Domhnall, son of Murchadh, King of Meath; Etru O'Miadhachain, Bishop of Meath; Congalach Mac Senain, King of Galeng; Imar O'Cathasaigh,91 King of Saithne;92 Domhnall O'Breen, King of Luighne;93 Malroney O'Ciardha,94 King of Cairbre;95 Moelchron Mac Gillisechlainn, King of South Bregia;96 Murchadh O'Finnullan,97 King of Dealbhna; Mac Ronan, King of Cairbre-Gabhra98 for the perfect freedom of the
p.147church for ever, without liberty of roads or woods, but to be common to the family of Ardbreacan, as to every Meathian in like manner.
Gillachrist Mac Manchain purchased the land on your gospel hand going down towards Ath-catan,99 or on your benediction hand up from the ford, from the sons of Beollan,100 i.e. from Cu-Uladh101 and his brother Mael Ciarain.102 The price was twenty-four ounces of silver, besides the tuition of Cu-Uladh's son. These were the sureties, viz. Moenach O'Cinetha,103 Erenagh of Ath-da-loarg;104 and Aedh O'Maelscire105 for him; and Scolaighe O'Labhrath,106 King of Soghan,107 and it was that Scolaighe who gave the price of a crimson mantle into or out
p.149of ? Mac Imar108 for its perpetuity. Maelbrigit O Cianan,109 Comharba of Columbkille: and Guaire O'Clucain, the reader, and the priest of Kells, and Da[...] chief of Clebarta and Dom[...] are guarantees to the family of Kells for the perfect Right of the land from the sons of Mac Beollain and every other person in like manner, who should claim the land. These [...] of the Galengs viz. Gillachrist O'Loiste110 with his sons; and the son of Gilla Brighde Mac Athgidi 111 O'Ciretha,112 Erenagh of Imleach,113 in guarantee of the same land. Maelruanaidh,114 the son of Mac Ceneth115 and Amlaibh,116 the son of Mac Fiachraig117 [...] of the Hy-Briuin.118 The boundary of this land is from the Siofoic119 at the south to the north of Lochan-Patruic120 northwards. The end of the mill is what bounds it at the other side.121
The foregoing Charters are of a date some centuries later than that of the Book of Kells itself, in which they are found; and it will be necessary to distinguish between the date of the Charters, i.e. of the contracts to which they relate, and of the copies now extant in the Book of Kells, which were probably transcribed from the original deeds into this sacred and venerable book in order to secure their preservation. The ink has in many places so faded that several words are illegible; and this appears to have been the case even in the time of Ussher, who had faithful transcripts of the first six of them made into a paper book, now preserved amongst his manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (E. 3. 8.) These transcripts, although not always accurate, have preserved some words which have since been destroyed by the bookbinder.
That the hand-writing of these documents, as they are now found in the Book of Kells, is not coeval with the persons whose names are mentioned in them, is evident from the fact that they appear to have been transcribed, at the same time, whereas it is quite obvious that Nos. 2 and 4 are at least half a century older than No. 1. The period at which they were transcribed into this book may be conjectured from the character of the writing and the contractions, which would appear to belong to the latter part of the twelfth century; but the dates of the deeds themselves can be pretty accurately fixed, from the notices of the deaths of the parties concerned, which are recorded in the Irish Annals, and will be given in the following remarks.
These Charters are exceedingly interesting to the historian, as proving that the ancient Irish had committed their covenants to writing in their own language before the Anglo-Norman invasion;
p.151and that their chiefs, though not succeeding according to the law of primogeniture, claimed the right of binding their successors to covenants lawfully made by thema right which Shane O'Neill and others called in question in the sixteenth century.
The other extant Charters made in Ireland at the same period are very few indeed, and are all in the Latin language. They are 1. The Charter of the foundation of the Abbey of Newry, granted about the year 1160, by Muirchertach or Mauritius Mac Loughlin, monarch of Ireland, by consent of his nobles.122 2. The Charter of the foundation of the Cisterician abbey of Rossglass, Monastereven, by O'Dempsey, about the year 1178.123 3. The Charter of foundation of the Augustinian monastery of Ferns by Dermot Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, previously to his having invited the English to invade Ireland, that is, about the year 1161.124 4. The foundation Charter of the Priory of All Saints on Hoggin Green in 1166.125
How early the ancient Irish began to commit their contracts and convenants to writing has not yet been determined, nor indeed made a subject of inquiry by any one qualified to arrive at just conclusions. If we may credit the compiler of the Book of Ballymote, Cathaoir Mor, monarch of Ireland, who died in the year of Christ 128, made a long last will and testament, which this compiler has transcribed, and which would puzzle any lawyer in Christendom to
p.152explain. We have also copies of the testamentary precepts of Moran Mac Main, who was chief Brehon to the Irish monarch Feradach the Just, in the first century. But without insisting on the authenticity of these predictions, we may clearly infer from some entries in the Book of Armagh that deeds of contract and even of sale of lands were committed to writing from the earliest ages of Christianity in Ireland. It is more than probable that hundreds of such deeds were preserved in the Irish monasteries, but it must be confessed that very few of them are now known to our antiquarians, if indeed they have survived the ravages of time.
The Irish annals do not record the exact date of the 'perishing of the kine and swine of Ireland by a pestilence' within the century to which the Charter must be referred; but from the records in those Annals of the deaths of the persons mentioned in the Charter, it is certain that it must have been executed before A.D. 1140, in which year the death of Bishop O'Ceallaigh or O'Kelly is recorded by the Four Masters in the following words:
'A.D. 1140. Eochaid O'Kelly, head of the men of Meath, the most venerable bishop in all Ireland, died at an advanced age at Durrow Columbkille.'
See also Harris, in his edition of Ware's Bishops, says:
'Eochaid O'Kelly, Archbishop of the men of Meath, is mentioned in the anonymous Annals to have died in the year 1140.'126
The next named in this document of whom any notice is preserved in the Irish annals is Muredhach O'Clucain, Abbot of Kells, whose death is entered in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 1154. The periods of some of the more distinguished lay chieftains
p.153mentioned can also be well ascertained, as that of Tiernan O'Rourke, 'King of the men of all Breifny.' This is the celebrated O'Rourke whose wife eloped with Dermot Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, in the year 1152, an event which is supposed to have been the original cause of the English invasion. This Tiernan makes his first appearance in Irish history in the year 1128, when he insulted and assaulted Celsus, Archbishop of Armagh, and killed some of his clergy, from which period forward he figures as one of the most conspicuous of the Irish chieftains till the year 1172, when he is slain on the hill of Tlachtgha, near Athboy, by Griffin, a nephew of Maurice Fitzgerald.
The next chief is Godfrey or Geoffrey O'Reilly. According to the Annals of the Four Masters he was banished into Connaught in the year 1154 by Murchertach O'Loughlin or Mac Loughlin, King of the north of Ireland, and was slain at Kells in the year 1161, by Melaghlin O'Rourke.
From these dates we may safely conclude that this document cannot be older than the year 1128, nor later than 1140, in which the venerable Bishop O'Kelly died.
The date of this Charter may be pretty accurately fixed from the notices of the more distinguished persons therein mentioned, preserved by the Irish annalists. The death of Maelsechnaill or Maelseachlainn, the son of Conchobar O'Maelseachnaill, King of Tara, is entered in the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1087, as follows:
'A.D. 1087. Maelseachlainn, son of Conchobhar O'Maelseachlainn, King of Tara, was killed in treachery and guile by Cathal Mac Muiricen and the men of Teffia, at Ardagh of the Bishop Mel.'
Domhnall Mac Robhartaigh, the Comharba or successor of St. Columbkille at Kells, died, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in the year 1098. His name occurs in the inscription on the celebrated relic called the Cathach of St. Columbkille, now deposited in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.
Donnchadh, the son of Art O'Rourke, King of Connaught, mentioned as one of the guarantees and securities of the grant to which this deed relates, was killed, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in the battle of Moin Cruinneoige, on the 4th of the Calends of November, in the year 1084. The O'Briens carried away his head in truimph to Limerick, but it was recovered in 1088 by Donnell Mac Loughlin, King of Aileach.
Donnchadh, the son of Carthach, 'King of Cashel of the Kings,' and descendant of Callaghan-Cashel, was the brother of Muireadhach, the ancestor of the Mac Carthys. He is called King of Cashel in the interpolated Dublin copy of the Annals of Innisfallen, in which it is stated that he was slain by Callaghan O'Callaghan in the year 1092; but in the Annals of the Four Masters, which mention his death at the same year, he is called King of Eoghanacht Chaisil. The relationship of this Donnchadh to Callaghan O'Callaghan, by whom he was slain, will appear from the following table: See accompanying pdf.
It follows, therefore, that the year 1084 is the latest date that can be assigned to the Charter before us.
The date of this Charter is fixed to the latter part of the eleventh century by our knowledge of the obits of three of the persons mentioned in it, namely, O'Clucain, Comharba of Kells; the Bishop O'Dunan; and Donnell, the son of Flann, King of Tara. According to the Annals of Ulster and the Four Masters, Ferdomhnach O'Clucain, Comharba of Kells, died in the year 1114. The death of Maelmuire O'Dunan, archbishop, is entered in the Annals of Ulster, the Annals of the Four Masters, and the interpolated copy of the Annals of Innisfallen, at the year 1117; but they differ as to the name of his see. The Four Masters call him Archbishop of Munster, and the Annals of Innisfallen Archbishop of Ireland. The old translation of the Annals of Ulster makes mention of two prelates of this name who died in 1117, namely 'Maolmure O'Dunan, chief Bishop of the Irish, and head of Ireland, clergy and laitye, for almes', &; and 'Maolmure O'Dunan, Archbishop of Munster.' In Mageoghegan's translation of the Annals of Clonmacnoise, at the year 1100, where an account is given of a synod held that year at Cashel, he is called 'O'Downan, arch Bushopp and Elder of Ireland.' In Harris's edition of Ware's Bishops, p. 467, 'Miler or Melmury O'Dunan, Archbishop of Cashel, is said to have died at Clonard, on the 24th of December, 1118, in the 77th year of his age.' And again, in the list of the Bishops of Meath, p. 140, 'Idunan, called Bishop of Meath, is said to have flourished in 1096.' The fact would appear to be that there was but one O'Dunan, and that he was Bishop of Meath, and that 'head of the clergy of Ireland for almes,' has been understood as meaning archbishop, when, in reality, it means nothing more
p.156than 'the most charitable bishop.' Were he Bishop or Archbishop of Cashel he would not be styled Senior of Leth Cuinn in this document, but of Leth Mhoga; the former being the ancient name for the norther, and the latter for the southern half of Ireland.
According to the Annals of Clonmacnoise, and the Four Masters, Domhnall or Donnell, the son of Flann, King of Tara, mentioned in this deed, was King of Meath, and was deposed and slain by his own people in the year 1094. It must, therefore, follow, that this document was drawn up sometime previous to that year.
Nothing remains to determine the age of this document but the name of Amhalgaidh, Comharba of Patrick, who became Archbishop of Armagh in the year 1021, and died in 1050. There were many Kings of Meath of the O'Melaghlin family named Conchobar or conor, the son of Domhnall, who is mentioned in the Annals of Ulster, of Clonmacnoise and of the Four Masters, as having blinded his brother Flann in the year 1037.
The death of a Maelmuire O h-Uchtain, Comharba of Kells, is entered in the Annals of the Four Masters at tthe year 1008, but the person referred to in this document must have been a later namesake of his who flourished in or after the year 1021, when Amhalgaidh became Comharba or successor of St. Patrick. But of this second Maelmuire the Irish annalists have preserved no notice.
The names of the sureties mentioned in this deed do not occur in the Irish annals, but the date of the document may be inferred from that of No. 7, where it appears that Guaire O'Clucain, the
p.157Lector of Kells, was contemporary with the son of Imar III., King of the Danes of Dublin.
The date of this document can be fixed to about the middle of the twelfth century by the notices of the more illustrious persons therein mentioned, namely, Muirchertach O'Loughlin; Dermot O'Melaghlin; Gilla-mac-Liag, Comharba of St. Patrick; and Edru O'Miadhachain, Bishop of Meath.
¶1] Muirchertach O'Loughlin was monarch of Ireland 'without opposition,' in the year 1161, about which time he granted a Charter to the monastery of Newry. He was slain in the year 1166.
¶2] Dermot O'Melaghlin was contemporary with the monarch Muirchertach O'Loughlin, and survived him several years. He was appointed King of Meath in the year 1157 by the Synod of Mellifont, in the place of his brother Donnchadh, who was excommunicated by the same Synod.
¶3] Gilla-mac-Liag, or Gelasius, Comharba of Patrick, was Archbishop of Armagh. He succeeded in the year 1137, and died in 1174.
¶4] Edru O'Miadhachain, Bishop of Meath, succeeded in 1150, and died in 1173 or 1174. He assisted at the Synod of Kells in 1152.
From these historical notices it is evident that this document cannot be older than the year 1157, when Dermot O'Melaghlin became King of Meath, nor more modern than 1174, when Archbishop Gilla-mac-Liag, or Gelasius, died.
The date of this document may probably be fixed by the close of the eleventh century, if Maelbrigit O Cenan be mentioned in it, which
p.158is certainly doubtful, for the word is almost illegible, and the letters máelbrig