The beginning of the reign of Fogartach.
Kl. Cellach son of Gerthide becomes king of the Laigin.
724 Fogartach took the kingship again for one year, until he fell in the battle of Cenn Delgthen at the hand of Cináed son of Írgalach.
704 An army was led by Fogartach into Leinster, and the Laigin gave him battle, i.e. the Battle of Clóenad, and the Laigin won the battle and massacred Fogartach's followers, including Bodbcar son of Diarmait Ruanaid. Thus Orthanach sang:
- The battle of Clóenad, a harsh triumph,
in it caltrops (?) were put down,
so that Bodbcar, champion of the fair companies,
was slain by the host.
704 The death of Flann Fína, son of Oswy, king of the Saxons, the famous wise man, pupil of Adamnán; of whom Riaguil of Bennchor sang:
- Today Bruide fights a battle
over the land of his ancestor,
unless it is the wish of the Son of God
that restitution be made.
- Today the son of Oswy was slain
in battle against gray swords,
even though he did penance
and that too late in Iona (?).
- Today the son of Oswy was slain,
who used to have dark drinks;
Christ has heard our prayer
that Bruide would save the hills (?).
703 The Celebration of Easter.
In this year the men of Ireland accepted a single regulation and rule from Adamnán, regarding the celebration of Easter on Sunday, the fourteenth of the moon of April, and regarding the wearing of Peter's tonsure by all the clergy of Ireland; for there had been great disturbance in Ireland until then, that is, many of the Irish clergy were celebrating Easter
p.57on Sunday, the fourteenth of the moon of April, and were wearing the tonsure of Peter the Apostle, following Patrick. Many others, however, were following Colum Cille, celebrating Easter on the fourteenth of the moon of April no matter on which day of the week the fourteenth happened to fall, and wearing the tonsure of Simon Magus. A third group was not in accord with either the followers of Patrick or those of Colum Cille. So the clergy of Ireland used to hold many synods. And this is how those clerics used to come to the synods: with their people, so that there used to be battle challenges, and many slain among them; and many evils came to Ireland on that account, i.e. the great cattle murrain, and the vast famine, and many plagues, and foreigners destroying Ireland. It was like that for a long time, that is, until the time of Adamnán. He was the ninth abbot of Í after Colum Cille.
The Saxons took a great prey from Ireland. Adamnán went to redeem the hostages. And as Bede tells it in Bede's History, most of the bishops of all Europe gathered to condemn Adamnán for celebrating Easter according to Colum Cille, and for wearing the tonsure of Simon Magus (that is, from ear to ear). Bede says that there were many wise men in that synod, and that Adamnán exceeded them all in wisdom and eloquence. Adamnán said that it was not in imitation of Simon Magus that he wore that tonsure, but it was rather in imitation of John the Beloved, pupil of the Savior, and that that was the tonsure he had worn; and that though his Savior was beloved to Peter, John was beloved to the Savior; and that it was on the fourteenth of the moon of April, whatever day of the week it might be, that the apostles celebrated Easter.
Then an old man arose there, and said, Even if it were Colum Cille himself who was present here, we would not part from him until he were under the same rule as we. As for you, too, you will not be left alone until you are under the same rule as we. Adamnán answered him, and said, I will be under the same rule as you. Let yourself be tonsured, then, said the bishops. It is sufficient, said Adamnán, that it be done at my own monastery. No, they said, but at once. Adamnán was tonsured then, and no greater honor has been given to a man than that which was accorded to Adamnán then, and that large booty was surrendered to him, and he proceeded to his own monastery, Í.
His congregation was greatly amazed to see him with that tonsure. He was always urging the congregation to adopt the tonsure, and he could not get their consent. But God permitted the community to sin, that is, to expel that Adamnán who had compassion for Ireland. This is what Bede says; for Bede was with Adamnán while he was in England.
After that Adamnán came to Ireland, and he proclaimed that rule in Ireland, and that single regulation for Easter and the tonsure was not accepted from him until this year.
704 Adamnán died in this year, in the eighty-third year of his age.
716 Fogartach grandson of Cernach again in the kingship; whence was said:
- Fogartach will seek the sovereignty,
that which he lacks, which is above the world;
when he says that he is nothing,
after that he is king within a month.
717 Kl. The disruption of Oenach Taillten by Fogartach, in which the son of Máel Rubae and the son of Dond Slébe fell.
?715 170 Kl. Anastasius Augustus was driven out.
718 A shower of honey rained upon the fort of the Laigin. A shower of wheat, furthermore, rained on Othan Becc. Then Niall Condail son of Fergal was born, whence be was called Niall Frossach 'Niall of the Showers'.
718 The community of Í adopted the tonsure of Peter the Apostle; for until that time they had worn the tonsure of Simon Magus, as Colum Cille had worn it himself.
?716 Kl. Theodosius reigned for one year.
721 Kl. Leo reigned for nine years.
721 Kl. A raid on Mag Breg by Cathal son of Finguine, king of Munster, and Murchad son of Bran, king of the Laigin.
721 A raid on the Laigin by Fergal son of Máel Dúin. In other books of history I find that it was in the third year before, that is, in the tenth year of the reign of Fergal, that this raid on the Laigin was made, and that it was in revenge for it that Murchad brought the son of Finguine with the men of Munster to raid Mag Breg. Whichever of those years it was, though, Fergal made a great raid on the Laigin, that is to say, he burned and roasted and slew them, and he swore he would not cease until the Bóroma which Fínnachta remitted to MoLing was given to him, and until hostages were given to him in recognition of his lordship and of the tribute. The Laigin gave him hostages, and they promised the tribute.
721 It was at this time that Fergal made a prophecy for his sons, Áed Alláin and Niall Condail, and this is how that happened:
They came one day to visit him at Ailech Frigrenn. Áed, the elder son, a prime, clever, cruel and vigorous warrior, came thus to Ailech: with large, well-armed troops around him. But the younger son came thus: calmly and temperately, peacefully, with few attendants, and this is what he said, from his own diffidence and to honor his father: It would be more proper for me, he said, to lodge outside than to stay as a guest with you tonight. What is wrong with you, son, said the father, that you should say that, when the boy who is older than you has three times your attendants, and you do not have the confidence to stay in Ailech tonight as he is staying with his company? I would prefer, said Niall, that he should behave in the same way towards you. Do not go tonight at all, son, said Fergal, and be near your father and mother.
After that the older son, Áed, was brought into the great palace with his company. The young son, Niall, however, was brought to a lovely secluded house. Then they were entertained; and their father wished to test them both, so he came in the last part of the night to the house in which the elder son was staying, and he was listening at that house: it was very foul indeed inside that house. There were buffoons and satirists and horseboys and jugglers and oafs, roaring and bellowing there. Some were drinking, some sleeping, some vomiting, some piping, some whistling. Drummers and harpers were playing; a group was boasting and arguing. Fergal heard them thus. And he came then to visit the secluded house where the younger son was staying; and he listened at that house, and he heard nothing there but thanksgiving to God for all that they had received, and sweet, quiet harp playing, and the singing of praise songs to the Lord.
p.63And the king saw that great fear and love of the Lord were in that house. After that the king came to his own bed, and considered deeply the situation of those two houses.
Early in the morning he entered the great house where the elder son was staying, and he could scarcely pass through the house on account of the vomiting and filth and stench, and the number of dogs that were eating the vomit. And all inside were snoring as if they were dead, except for the king's son himself, and this is how he was sleeping: in his royal bed, as if he were waiting for battle, with a great shield on his left side, and two huge javelins on his right side, a long gold-hilted inlaid sword on his thigh, taking in and letting out great gasps, such as no one should do, however strong or agile.
He was unable to remain inside because of the great foulness of the air in that house, so he came into the house where the younger son was staying, and although he came quietly, the youth saw him, for he was not sleeping, but praying to the Lord. He rose immediately from the royal bed to greet his father, for he was thus: in a silk tunic, with gold and silver borders; and he opened the house for his father, and when his father came inside, he put his arms around his son's neck and gave him a kiss, and they came and sat together on the royal bed; and the son began first to converse with his father. And this is what he said: Father, it seems to us that you have spent this past night sleepless and troubled; you should sleep now in that bed until daybreak.
The father did so, and when daybreak came they rose together, and the son said to his father, Dear father, it would be proper for you to feast with us for a time here, for we still have half of the food and drink that was brought to us from you last night. And he had not finished saying that when servants brought out a huge vessel full of mead, and various foods, and they feasted together silently and peacefully then.
When everyone had risen, the king came out into his own house, and he predicted, in the presence of all, what the fortunes of his two sons yonder would be. He said that the elder son would take the kingship, and that his reign would be strong, heroic, vigorous, terrifying and lustful. The younger son, however, would take the kingship piously and honestly, and his descendants would be famous and royal, and would take the kingship every second time. And that has been fulfilled so far.
Now the daughter of Congal son of Fergus of Fánad was the mother of the older son (that is, Áed Alláin), and she bore that son secretly. And this is the reason why Fergal had the girl secretly. Her father, Congal, dedicated her to the Lord, and she was a nun, and her father had given her much gold and silver and cattle for protecting her chastity. However,
p.65the universal enemy of the human race (that is, the Devil) deceived her; she gave her love to Fergal son of Máel Dúin, and Fergal loved her. Fergal and the daughter of Congal Cennmagar slept together. Fergal was rígdomna of Ireland at that time. Congal was King of Ireland.
The man who was messenger between them told that to Congal. Congal was greatly grief-stricken by that news, that is, that his daughter had been seduced, and he said that the bearer of the tale would not live, unless he procured the proof of that story. So the bearer of the tale was waiting until Fergal and Congal's daughter should be together, and when they were together, the tale-bearer sought Congal, and told him that they were together. Congal came to the house where they were, and when Congal's daughter saw him coming to the house with his attendants for she was clever, crafty, and spiteful, as was her fathershe hid Fergal under the bedclothes, and then sat on the bedclothes herself. A big cat that was inside came and found Fergal and bit at his legs, and the cat swallowed big pieces of Fergal's legs. Fergal put his hand out and took the cat by the an neck, and killed it. Congal searched in the house, but he did not find Fergal there. He went to the bearer of the tale and drowned him in a river. Afterwards he came to see his own daughter, and he asked her forgiveness, since she was a virgin, so that his sin against her might not be upon him. It was at that secret tryst that Áed Alláin was conceived.
Now after Áed Alláin was born, his mother turned him over to two trustworthy women to be drowned, so that her father might not find her out and be angry with her. Now one of these women was of Cenél Conaill, and one was of Cenél Eógain. When the woman of Cenél Eógain took the lovely little baby into her arms, she was filled with love and tenderness for the infant, and she said to her woman companion: Dear sister, it is not right to destroy this baby, but rather to keep it well. The other answered, He is dearer to you than to his own mother, and it is she who has commanded us to drown him, for fear of her father's anger. She became angry, and she set the child on the ground, and they fought each other, one for protecting, the other for drowning him. The woman of Cenél Eógain overcame the other woman, and she clutched her by her Adam's apple until she agreed to everythingnamely, to caring for the child. Thereafter they brought up the child together.
Once, four years later, the mother of the child happened to come into the house where he was, without knowing that he was alive. The little boy was playing there. His mother's mind turned to him, and she asked, How old is that boy over there? Everyone said that he was four years old. She called the trustworthy women over to her, and said to them, The sin I have committed is great, destroying a boy of that age to escape the anger of my father.
Do not grieve at all, said the women. That is that boy yonder, and we have protected him. Then she gave many gifts to the women, and the boy was taken secretly from them to his own father, Fergal.
Now the mother of Niall Condail 'Niall the Worthy' was the daughter of the king of Cianachta, and she was the fairest and most beautiful woman in Ireland in her time. However, she was childless for a long time, until she came to the holy nun Luaithrinn to ask her to pray to the Lord on her behalf to aid her. Luaithrinn did that, and Niall was conceived thereafter in the womb of the daughter of the king of Cianachta, and then he was born; and at that time she was Fergal's queen of Ireland.
All of this aside, when he spoke concerning his sons, as we have recounted, he urged and commanded each and every one of them his men to assemble all their forces the next year to invade the Laigin, to levy the Bóroma upon them, for the Laigin had not fulfilled what they had promised.
722 Kl. From the beginning of the world 5924 years. From the Incarnation of the Lord 722 years.
The Battle of Almu between the Laigin and Uí Néill. This battle was fought on the third of the Ides of December. The cause of this battle was that the Bóroma, which Fínnachta remitted to MoLing, was levied by Fergal, and the Laigin would not tolerate that. The Laigin did not pay it to Loingsech son of Oengus, and they did not pay it to Congal Cennmagar, although they had suffered great harrassment from Congal; nor did they have any greater wish to pay it to Fergal, since they trusted in the words of MoLing, who had promised that the Bóroma would never again be levied from the Laigin. That perturbed Fergalthat is, that the Laigin would not keep their pledges to himso he commanded a vast, irresistible hosting from Leth Cuinn, that is, from Connachta, and Cenél Conaill, and Airgialla, and Mide, in the fourteenth year of his own reign, or in the thirteenth year, as some will have it, to levy the Bóroma.
Now that muster of troops took a long time, for every man of Leth Cuinn, when the order came to him, would say, If Donn Bó comes on the hosting, I shall come. Now this Donn Bó was the son of a widow of the Fir Rois, and he never went away from his mother's house for a day or a night, and there was no one in all Ireland who was more beloved, or fairer of form or figure or build than he. There was no one in all Ireland who was more valorous or more skillful than he, and his were the best amusing poems and royal stories in the world; it was he who was best at training horses, and setting spears, and braiding hair; and he was a man with royal nature in his countenance, of whom was said:
But his mother would not let Donn Bó go with Fergal until Máel son of Failbe son of Erannán son of Crimthann, successor of Colum Cille, was pledged for his return alive, and until he pledged Colum Cille on his behalf, moreover, that Donn Bó would return safe to his own house from the territory of the Laigin.
- More lovely than all boys is dear Donn Bó;
more sweet his song than all utterances of the mouth;
more glorious than all the warriors of Inis Fáil;
Then Fergal set out on his way. There were guides going before him, but the guidance they gave him was not good: into the narrow places of each path, and into the rough places of each path, until they reached Cluain Dóbail 'the Unlucky Meadow in Almu. Áedán, the leper of Cluain Dóbail, was there before them. The army behaved badly: they slaughtered his only cow and roasted it on spits in his presence, and they took his house despite him and burned it; so the leper said that the punishment the Lord would inflict on the Uí Néill would be eternal. The leper went to Fergal's tent, and the kings of Leth Cuinn were all before him in the tent at that time. In their presence the leper complained of his ill-treatment, but the heart of none was moved for him, except the heart of Cú Bretan son of Congus, the king of Fir Rois, and Cú Bretan did not regret that, for except for Cú Bretan son of Congus alone, none of the kings who was in the tent escaped from the battle. It was on that occasion that Cú Bretan said:
Then Fergal said to Donn Bó, Entertain us, Donn Bó, for you are the best musician in Ireland, with flutes and piping, and with harps and poems
- I fear a crimson, bloody battle,
oh Fergal's man, whom I seek out;
sorrowful are the servants of Mary's Son
after the house has been taken in spite of them.
- The leper's cow
has been slaughtered after his ox;
woe to the hand that pierced their cloak skin?,
for the son of Bran did not restrain it, etc.
p.71and talk and royal stories of Ireland, and tomorrow morning we give battle to the Laigin. No, said Donn Bó, I cannot amuse you tonight, and I do not possess one of all those accomplishments to demonstrate tonight; but wherever you are tomorrow, and wherever I shall be, I will entertain you. Let the royal fool Úa Maigléine amuse you tonight.
Úa Maigléine was brought to them then. He set about telling the battles and combats of Leth Cuinn and the Laigin, from the destruction of Tuaim Tenbath (that is, Dind Ríg) in which Cobthach Cóel Breg was killed, up until that time; and they did not sleep much that night because of their great fear of the Laigin, and because of the severity of the weather, for it was the eve of the feast of Finnian, in the winter.
As for the Laigin, they went to Cruachan Cloenta, for the Laigin used not to be defeated if they made their plans there and then proceeded from there to the battle. Afterwards they went to Dind Canand. The following morning the troops of both sides met: nine thousand of the Laigin, and twenty-one thousand of Leth Cuinn. The battle was waged strongly and fiercely on both sides, and everyone took part in the fighting there. The combats of the Laigin and Leth Cuinn warriors would be excessive to relate. It is said that Brigit was seen over the Laigin; Colum Cille, moreover, was seen over the Uí Néill. The battle was won by Murchad son of Bran, and by Áed son of Donnchad son of Colcu, king of Laigin Desgabair. Fergal was slain there. Áed Mend and Dúnchad son of Murchad killed Fergal himself and Bile son of Bain, king of Alba, from whom Corr Bile in Almu gets its name. Moreover, it was Áed Mend who slew Donn Bó. However, Fergal did not fall until after Donn Bó fell. One hundred and sixty mercenaries were slain in that place. The Laigin killed their own numberthat is, nine thousandof the men of Leth Cuinn in that battle, and nine of them went mad, and one hundred of the kings. The Hill of Fergal is there. The Laigin raised shouts of triumph there, whence was said:
- At the end of the day at Almu,
after fighting for the cattle of Brega,
the red-mouthed, sharp-tongued scald-crow cried
triumph around the head of Fergal.
- Murchad parted from a coward.
He advanced champions on the earth;
he turned an edge against Fergal,
with an immense band of warriors to the south of Almu.
- One hundred prosperous kings died (there),
hard, firm, brawny,
along with nine madmen without gentleness,
along with nine thousand armed men.
- Four hundred steady men at Cruachan
with the mercenaries, wounded in the fight,
with three hundred brave men of Cenél Conaill,
The fool Úa Maigléine was taken captive there, and he was asked to give a fool's shout, and he did; that shout was loud and melodious, so that the shout of Úa Maigléine has remained from that time with the fools of Ireland. Afterwards Fergal's head was cut off, and the fool's head was also cut off. The echo of the fool's shout was in the air for three days and three nights. This is the origin of the saying, the shout of Úa Maigléine pursuing the men in the bog.
Then Áed Laigen son of Fidchellach, king of Úí Maine Connacht, was defeated and fled, saying to his sons, Do not leave me, sons; your mother will be better disposed towards you if you take me with you. They will not take you, said the Laigin. It was then that Áed Laigen, king of Úí Maine, was slain.
However, the sons of Áed Laigen, in the company of Áed Alláin son of Fergal, reached Lilcach, where Modichu son of Amargein and the pious Foreigner were. It was then that the Úi Néill and Connachta dug the rampart of the church, and they were in the guise of clergy, and it was thus that they were saved through a miracle of the saints, so that the friendship of the Úí Néill and Connachta is in that church from that time forth; wherefore Áed Ailáin sang:
- We did not find on earth
a place which would be as smooth as Almu;
after the battle we did not reach
a place which would be as bright as Lilcach.
That day was triumphant for the Laigin. Cú Bretan son of Congus, king of Fir Rois, was protected, however, on account of the verses he had made the evening before. The Laigin were in Condail of the Kings that night, drinking wine and mead cheerfully and happily after winning the battle, with each of them telling his exploits, and they were exhilarated and gloriously drunk. Murchad mac Brain said then, I would give a chariot worth four cumals, and my horse, and my trappings, to a warrior who would go into the battlefield and bring us a trophy from it. I will go, said Báethgalach, a Munster warrior. He put on his gear for battle and protection, and he went to the place where Fergal's body was, and he heard something, a proclamation in the air overhead, and it said for all to hear, It has been commanded to you by the King of seven heavens: make music for your lord tonight, for Fergal son of Máel Dúin; although all of your skilled people have fallen here, pipers and trumpeters and harpists, do not let terror or weakness prevent you from playing tonight for Fergal. Then the warrior heard mournful piping and song; and he heard then in the clump of rushes next to him a war chanting that was sweeter than any music. The youth went towards it. Do not come to me, said the head to him. Who are you? asked the warrior. I am the head of Donn Bó, replied the head, and I was pledged last night to entertain the king tonight, so do not harm me. Where is Fergal's body here? asked the warrior. It shines out before you, yonder. Shall I take you with me? asked the warrior. I would like you most of all to take me, said the head, but let Christ be your surety that if you take me, you bring me back to my body again. I shall indeed, said the youth.
And the youth returned to Condail with the head, and he found the Laigin drinking when he arrived the same night. Have you brought a trophy with you? asked Murchad. I have, said the warrior: the head of Donn Bó. Put it on that pillar over there, said Murchad. The whole host recognized it as the head of Donn Bó, and they all said, Alas for you, Donn Bó, your form was comely; entertain us tonight as you did your lord this morning. His face was turned then, and his sorrowful chant rose on high, so that all were crying and lamenting. The same warrior brought the head back to its body, as he had promised, and he placed it on its neck. With that, Donn Bó returned to his mother's house. For these were the three wonders of that battle: Donn Bó's returning alive
p.77to his house according to the words of Colum Cille, and the fool Úa Maigléines shout remaining three days and three nights in the air, and the nine thousand who overthrew the twenty-one thousand. Whence was said:
- The Battle of Almuhigh the origin
great the deed of December;
lofty Murchad of the raids won it,
the son of Bran, with the warriors of Leinster.
- Fergal of Fál was defeated
the son of huge Máel Dúin,
and mills below the battlefield
were grinding with pools of crimson blood.
- Eighty-eight kings, in truth,
nine thousand, without exaggeration,
of Leth Cuinn, renowned gathering,
fell there all together.
- Nine madmen were driven wild by it;
they escaped from them to Fid Gaible;
they changed color after that,
after which the Battle of Almu was decided (?).
These are the names of the kings who were killed in this battle. These are the ones of Sil g-Cuinn.
Now these following are of the southern Uí Néill:
Moreover, 180 died of sickness and cold after the Battle of Almu in which Fergal son of Máel Dúin was slain, etc.
Beginning of the reign of Cináed son of Írgalach, according to some.
Kl. Then Fogartach son of Niall took the name of King of Ireland immediately after Fergal. It was he who was defeated by the Laigin in the battle at Tailtiu. It was one year, or two, according to some, until he was killed by Cináed Lethcháech son of Írgalach.