906 And it was for the deaths of Éicnechán, Indrechtach, Flann, and Ciarmaccán, that it was said:
- Death that is hideous has left behind
the hosts who seek after treasure;
a vigorous king has changed color;
great sorrow that Éicnech lies dead.
- Éicnech was hard for warriors to deal with,
the king of hundredfold Cenél Conaill;
alas that a face that bad color shrivels
is under the earth's surface after death.
- Indrechtach of Bennchor of the troops,
Ciarmac of Gabair, powerful name,
Flann of Febal, noble against difficulty,
Éicnech of contentious Síl Conaill.
908 This is the thirtieth year of the reign of Flann son of Máel Sechlainn.
908 Anno Domini 900. A great army of the men of Munster was gathered by the same two men, that is, by Flaithbertach and Cormac, to demand the hostages of the Laigin and Osraige, and the men of Munster were all in the same camp. Flaithbertach happened to ride along a street of the camp on his horse; his horse fell into a deep ditch under him, and that was an evil omen for him. There were many of his own people, and of the whole army, who did not wish to go on the expedition after that, for it seemed to all of them that this fall of the holy man was a calamitous omen.
Then noble messengers came from the Laigin, from Cerball son of Muirecán, to Cormac first, and they delivered a message of peace on behalf of those of the Laigin who appeared to him (?): i.e., that there would be one peace in all of Ireland until the next Béltaine (for it was a fortnight into autumn at that time), and hostages would be given into the keeping
p.153of Móenach, the holy, wise and pious man, and other pious people; many goods and treasures would be given to Flaithbertach and to Cormac.
The peace offered him was most welcome to Cormac, and he came to tell Flaithbertach about it, and he told it to him as it had been brought him from the Laigin. When Flaithbertach heard that, he was greatly horrified, and he said, This demonstrates, he said, your lack of spirit and the meanness of your descent, for you are the son of an outsiderand he said many bitter and insulting words that it would be tedious to relate.
This is the reply that Cormac gave him: I am certain, said Cormac, of what will result from thatthat is, from giving battleholy man, said he. Cormac will be cursed for it, and it is likely that you will die. And when he had said that, he came to his own tent, tired and sorrowful, and when he had seated himself, he took a bucket of apples that was brought to him, and he was distributing them to his followers and he said, Beloved people, said he, I shall never bestow apples upon you from this time forward. Is it so, dear earthly lord? asked his people. Why have you made us sad and sorrowful? You have often made evil prophecies for us. He said then, Indeed, beloved people, what sorrowful thing have I said? For it is small wonder that I should not give you apples from my own hand, since there will be some one among you after me who will distribute apples to you.
Afterwards he ordered a watch. There was summoned to him then the wise, pious man, the exalted successor of Comgall, and he made his confession and his will in his presence, and he received the Body of Christ from his hand, and he renounced life in the presence of this Móenach, for he knew that he would be killed in the battle, but he did not wish many to know this about him. He asked that his body be brought to Cluain Uama, if possible, but if it was not, that it be brought to the burial ground of Diarmait grandson of Áed Rón, where he had studied for a long time. He greatly desired, however, to be buried at Cluain Uama of the son of Léníne. Móenach, however, preferred to bury him at Dísert Diarmata, for Dísert Diarmata was one of Comgall's places, and Móenach was successor of Comgall. Móenach son of Siadal was the wisest man in his time, and he worked hard then to make peace between the Laigin and the men of Munster, if possible. Many of the army of Munster deserted without leave.
Now there was great clamor and commotion in the encampment of the men of Munster at that time, for they heard that Flann son of Máel Sechlainn was in the Laigin camp with a huge army of foot and horse. Then Móenach said, Nobles of Munster, said he, it would be right
p.155for you to give the well-born hostages that I have brought you into the keeping of pious men until Béltaine, i.e. the son of Cerball, king of the Laigin, and the son of the king of Osraige. All the men of Munster were saying that it was Flaithbertach son of Inmainén alone who compelled them to go into Leinster.
After the great complaint that they made, they came across Slíab Mairge from the west to Droichet Lethglinne. However, Tipraite, successor of Ailbe, and many clerics along with him stayed at Lethglenn, and also the servants of the army and their pack horses.
Then the men of Munster sounded trumpets and battlecries, and proceeded to Mag Ailbe. They were waiting for their enemies with their backs to a dense wood. The men of Munster formed themselves into three equally large, equally extensive battalions: Flaithbertach son of Inmainén and Cellach son of Cerball, king of Osraige, leading the first battalion; Cormac son of Cuilennán, the king of Munster, leading the middle Munster battalion; Cormac son of Mothla, king of the Déissi, and the king of Ciarraige, and kings of many other tribes of West Munster in the third battalion. Then they proceeded like that over Mag Ailbe. They were complaining about the number of their enemies and the smallness of their own forces. This is what the wise men (i.e., the people who were among them) reported: that the Laigin with their allies were three or four times the number of the men of Munster, or more.
Now the men of Munster came to the battle weak and in disorder. The noise in this battle was grievous, as the learned tell (i.e., the people who were in the battle), that is, the noise of the one army being slain, and the noise of the other army exulting in that slaughter. Now there were two causes that made the men of Munster suffer sudden defeat: first, that Célechair, kinsman of Cenn Gécáin, leaped suddenly onto his horse, and as he leaped onto his horse, he said: Nobles of Munster, he said, flee at once from this horrible battle, and leave it to the clergy themselves, who have given no other counsel but to do battle. And he fled immediately after that, and a great troop along with him. And then the other cause of the defeat: Cellach son of Cerball, when he saw the troop that included the King of Ireland's noble followers slaughtering his own troop, leaped upon his horse, and said to his own people, Get up on your horses, and drive away the people who are before you! And although he said that, it was not really for fighting that he said it, but rather in order to flee. What resulted from those causes, then, was the unanimous flight of the Munster battalions.
Alas, grievous and great was the slaughter throughout Mag Ailbe after that. Clergy were spared no more than laymen there; they were equally killed and beheaded. Whenever laymen or cleric was spared there, it was
p.157not done from mercy, but rather from desire to get ransom for them, or to keep them as servants.
Now Cormac the king escaped in the lead of the first troop. But his horse jumped into a ditch, and he fell from the horse; when a group of his people saw that as they were fleeing, they came to the king and put him back on his horse. Then he saw one of his own fostersons, named Áed, of the noblemen of the Eóganachta, learned in wisdom and jurisprudence and historical traditions and Latin, and the king said to him Beloved son, said he, do not stay with me, but get away as best you can. I have told you already that I would be killed in this battle.
A few stayed with Cormac, and he proceeded along the way on horseback, and there was much blood from men and horses along that road. Then the hind legs of his horse slipped on the slick road, in the path of that blood; the horse fell backwards, and the king fell backwards, and his back and his neck were broken in two, and he said as he was falling, In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. And his spirit departed, and the accursed impious sons went and stabbed spears into his body, and hacked his head from his body.
Although many were the slain on Mag Ailbe east of the Berba, the cruelty of the Laigin was not satisfied with that, so they pursued the retreat westward across Slíab Mairge, and they killed many noblemen in that pursuit.
At the very beginning of the battle Cellach son of Cerball, king of Osraige, and his son had immediately been killed. Both laymen and clergy were killed severally from then on: many noble clergy were killed in this battle, and many kings and chieftains. Fogartach son of Suibne, the sage in philosophy and theology, king of Ciarraige, was slain, and Ailill son of Eógan, the distinguished young scholar and nobleman, and Colmán, abbot of Cenn Éitig, distinguished master of jurisprudence in Ireland, and many others, whom it would be a long task to write down.
The laymen, moreover, were Cormac, king of the Déissi; Dubucán, king of Fir Maige; Cenn Fáelad, king of Uí Conaill; Connadar and Aineslis of the Uí Thairdelbaig; and Éiden, king of Aidne, who was in exile in Munster; Máel Muad; Matudán; Dub dá Bairenn; Congal; Catharnach; Feradach; Áed, king of Uí Liathain; and Domnall, king of Dún Cermna.
These are the men who won the battle: Flann son of Máel Sechlainn, King of Ireland; and Cerball son of Muirecán, king of Laigin; and Tadc son of Fáelán, king of Uí Ceinnselaig; Temenán, king of Uí Dega; Cellach and Lorccán, two kings of Fir Cualann; Indeirge son of Dub Gilla, king of Uí Dróna; Follaman son of Ailill, king of Fotharta Fea; Tuathal son of Augaire, king of Uí Muiredaig; Augrán son of Cennétig,
p.159king of Loíches; Máel Calland son of Fergal, king of the Fortuatha; Cléirchen, king of Uí Bairrchi.
Flann, King of Ireland, came after that with a large troop of royal horsemen, and installed Diarmait son of Cerball in the kingship of Osraige.
Then a group came before Flann, and they had the head of Cormac the king; they said to Flann, Life and health, triumphant powerful king: we have the head of Cormac for you; and as is the custom with kings, raise your thigh, and put this head under it, and crush it with your thigh. That is indeed evil, said Flann to them, and it was not thanks that he gave them. It was an evil deed, he said, to cut off the holy bishop's head; I shall honour it, and not crush it. Flann took the head in his hands, and kissed it, and he carried the consecrated head and the true martyr around him three times. After that the head was honourably brought from him to the body, in the place where Móenach son of Siadal, successor of Comgall, was, and he took Cormac's body to Dísert Diarmata, and it was greatly honoured there, where it produces omens and miracles.
Why, then, should the heart not be moved and mourn this awful deed, that is, the killing and hacking up (with abominable weapons) of the holy person who was the most skilled that ever was or will be of the men of Ireland? A scholar in Irish and in Latin, the wholly pious and pure chief bishop, miraculous in chastity and in prayer, a sage in government, in all wisdom, knowledge and science, a sage of poetry and learning, chief of charity and every virtue; a wise man in teaching, high king of the two provinces of all Munster in his time. ...
Flann, the King of Ireland, returned then, after leaving Diarmait in the kingship of Osraige and making a peace in partnership between him and his kinsmen. The Laigin returned also with triumph and spoils. Cerball son of Muirecán, king of the Laigin proceeded to Cell Dara with great troops of captives, and Flaithbertach son of Inmainén among those. The evil things that certain scholars of Leinster said about Flaithbertach are shameful to tell, and improper to write.
Flaithbertach was brought to Cell Dara then, and the clergy of Leinster reproached him severely, for they knew that it had been he alone who had urged the hosting and the battle, and that Cormac had come against his will. However, after the death of Cerball, king of the Laigin, Flaithbertach was released, which was at the end of that year, according to some. Muirenn, successor of Brigit, along with a large group of clergy and many relics, escorted him to Mag n-Airb, and when he arrived in Munster he made peace there. Afterwards he went to his monastery on Inis Cathaig, and he spent a while there piously, until he came out again to take the kingship of Cashel, and he was king of Munster for thirty-two years.
It was of this battle that Dallán son of Moire, master-poet of Cerball, king of the Laigin, sang:
Cormac son of Cuilennán and Cerball son of Muirecán were fosterbrothers raised together, and fellow students. Whence Cormac sang:
- Cormac of Femen, Fogartach,
Colmán, Cellach of hard battles,
have fallen with six thousand
in the battle of famous Belach Mugna.
- Aineslis from the Bóraime,
Fergal, keen around Scrib Water (?),
fair Cormac from the plain of Femen
and Cenn Fáelad from Frigrenn;
- Connadar from Mag Adair
and Éiden from Aidne
they fell by Cerball's hand
on Tuesday at Mag Ailbe.
- Máel Muad and Matudán
alas, the band was lovely
Dubucán from Aba Mór,
Dub Laech and Dub dá Bairenn.
- Congal and Catharnach,
and Feradach of Fasach,
Domnall from fair Dún Cermna
and Áed of Carn Tasaig.
- Flann of Temair from Mag Taillten,
Cerball from showery Carman;
on the seventeenth of September
they won the battle, with hundreds of victory-cries.
- Tadc son of Fáelan, Temenán,
Cellach, and pure Lorccán,
Indeirge son of Dub Gilla:
they warded off forty-five men.
- Máel Callann son of Fergal,
Domnall, and Lorccán of Liamain,
Augaire from Dún Dermaige:
they were not four feeble men.
- Augrán of Mairge, great in deeds,
Cleirchén from Inis Failbe,
Follaman son of Ailill,
Dub dá Bairenn from Daimne.
- Tadc, the chieftain from Desgabair,
with blazing flails of huge rods;
he set out before everyone
to win battles over Cormac.
- It was an act of discipline,
and it sufficiently excites us;
it was pride, it was great excess,
to invade Cerball's territory.
- The bishop, the confessor,
the renowned triumphant scholar,
King of Caisel, King of West Munster,
Lord, alas for Cormac.
(Gelsearc, daughter of Derell, King of France, raised them together, whence the name Forod Geilseirce.)
- Bring me my timpán
so that I may make music on it,
on account of my special love for Gelsearc,
daughter of Derell.
909 Kl. Cerball son of Muirecán, king of the Laigin, died, whence Dallán sang:
Gormfhlaith, daughter of Flann, sang:
- Great grief that Life of fierce battles
lacks righteous Cerball of many clients,
a man modest, firm and prosperous,
whom ready Ériu served.
- I grieve for Cnoc Almaine
and Aillenn without warriors;
I grieve for Carman, I will not conceal it,
with grass over its roads.
- His life was not long
after Cormac was destroyed:
a day and a half, no miscalculation,
and one year, and no more.
- Ruler of a brilliant kingdom,
King of Leinster with many champions,
alas that the lofty rock of Almu
has gone on a bitter and melancholy path.
- Sparkling treasuresdistinguished the remnant
mourn a magnanimous king of Nás,
who has shaken dense hordes;
this is the greatest of griefs.
- Cerball was always in control;
his manner was vigorous till death.
Those of his claims that were unpaid
he carried off by his strength to Nás.
- Evil for me was the favour of two Foreigners:
they killed Niall and Cerball:
Cerball by Ulbfamous deed
and Niall Glúndub by Amlaide.
Some say that this was how Cerball was killed: he was going into Cell Dara eastward along the street of the stone steps, with a proud horse under him, when he came opposite a comb-maker's workshop; at that moment the comb-maker set out his antlers, when the horse was opposite him outside, and the proud horse shied backwards, and he Cerball struck his own spear, in the hands of his own servant, who was behind him (and Uille was the name of that boy, or the name of the comb-maker). Cerball died of that wound at the end of a year, and he was buried among his forefathers in the graveyard of Nás. Whence was said:
- There are nine kingsa warring line
in the churchyard of Nás, under brilliant sky:
Muirecán of gifts, without mistake,
Cerball and wise Cellach,
- Colmán, Bráen, and vigorous Bran,
Finn, Fáelán, bold Dúnchad;
in Cell Corbbáin, I have heard,
their soldier-graves were dug.
909 Bécc úa Lethlabair, king of Dál Araide, died, whence was said:
- Great news: shattered is the ship of the sea,
since it has come upon great sorrow
that the beloved, wise, golden youth no longer lives,
the famous king of Tuag Inbir.
909 Cadell son of Rhodri, king of Britain, died.
909 Caíróc son of Dunóc, king of Uí Fergusa, died.
909 Mugrón son of Sochlachán, king of Uí Maine, died.
?907 We have related above, that is, in the fourth year previously, that the Norwegian armies were driven out of Ireland, thanks to the fasting
p.169and prayers of the holy man, Céle Dabaill, for he was a saintly and pious man, and he had great zeal for the Christians; and besides inciting the warriors of Ireland against the pagans, he laboured himself through fasting and prayer, and he strove for freedom for the churches of Ireland, and he strengthened the men of Ireland by his laborious service to the Lord; and he removed the anger of the Lord from them. For it was on account of the Lord's anger against them that the foreigners were brought to destroy them (i.e., the Norwegians and Danes), to plunder Ireland, both church and tribe.
Now the Norwegians left Ireland, as we said, and their leader was Ingimund, and they went then to the island of Britain. The son of Cadell son of Rhodri was king of the Britons at that time. The Britons assembled against them, and gave them hard and strong battle, and they were driven by force out of British territory.
After that Ingimund with his troops came to Aethelflaed, Queen of the Saxons; for her husband, Aethelred, was sick at that time. (Let no one reproach me, though I have related the death of Aethelred above, because this was prior to Aethelred's death and it was of this very sickness that Aethelred died, but I did not wish to leave unwritten what the Norwegians did after leaving Ireland.) Now Ingimund was asking the Queen for lands in which he would settle, and on which he would build barns and dwellings, for he was tired of war at that time. Aethelflaed gave him lands near Chester, and he stayed there for a time.
What resulted was that when he saw the wealthy city, and the choice lands around it, he yearned to possess them. Ingimund came then to the chieftains of the Norwegians and Danes; he was complaining bitterly before them, and said that they were not well off unless they had good lands, and that they all ought to go and seize Chester and possess it with its wealth and lands. From that there resulted many great battles and wars. What he said was, Let us entreat and implore them ourselves first, and if we do not get them good lands willingly like that, let us fight for them by force. All the chieftains of the Norwegians and Danes consented to that.
Ingimund returned home after that, having arranged for a hosting to follow him. Although they held that council secretly, the Queen learned of it. The Queen then gathered a large army about her from the adjoining regions, and filled the city of Chester with her troops.
?918 Almost at the same time the men of Foirtriu and the Norwegians fought a battle. The men of Alba fought this battle steadfastly, moreover, because Colum Cille was assisting them, for they had prayed fervently to him, since
p.171he was their apostle, and it was through him that they received faith. For on another occasion, when Imar Conung was a young lad and he came to plunder Alba with three large troops, the men of Alba, lay and clergy alike, fasted and prayed to God and Colum Cille until morning, and beseeched the Lord, and gave profuse alms of food and clothing to the churches and to the poor, and received the Body of the Lord from the hands of their priests, and promised to do every good thing as their clergy would best urge them, and that their battle-standard in the van of every battle would be the Crozier of Colum Cilleand it is on that account that it is called the Cathbuaid 'Battle-Triumph' from then onwards; and the name is fitting, for they have often won victory in battle with it, as they did at that time, relying on Colum Cille. They acted the same way on this occasion. Then this battle was fought hard and fiercely; the men of Alba won victory and triumph, and many of the Norwegians were killed after their defeat, and their king was killed there, namely Oittir son of Iarngna. For a long time after that neither the Danes nor the Norwegians attacked them, and they enjoyed peace and tranquillity. But let us turn to the story that we began.
The armies of the Danes and the Norwegians mustered to attack Chester, and since they did not get their terms accepted through request or entreaty, they proclaimed battle on a certain day. They came to attack the city on that day, and there was a great army with many freemen in the city to meet them. When the troops who were in the city saw, from the city wall, the many hosts of the Danes and Norwegians coming to attack them, they sent messengers to the King of the Saxons, who was sick and on the verge of death at that time, to ask his advice and the advice of the Queen. What he advised was that they do battle outside, near the city, with the gate of the city open, and that they choose a troop of horsemen to be concealed on the inside; and those of the people of the city who would be strongest in battle should flee back into the city as if defeated, and when most of the army of the Norwegians had come in through the gate of the city, the troop that was in hiding beyond should close the gate after that horde, and without pretending any more they should attack the throng that had come into the city and kill them all.
Everything was done accordingly, and the Danes and Norwegians were frightfully slaughtered in that way. Great as that massacre was, however, the Norwegians did not abandon the city, for they were hard and savage; but they all said that they would make many hurdles, and place props under them, and that they would make a hole in the wall underneath them. This was not delayed; the hurdles were made, and the hosts were under them making a hole in the wall, because they wanted to take the city, and avenge their people.
It was then that the King (who was on the verge of death) and the Queen
p.173sent messengers to the Irish who were among the pagans (for the pagans had many Irish fosterlings), to say to the Irishmen, Life and health to you from the King of the Saxons, who is ill, and from the Queen, who holds all authority over the Saxons, and they are certain that you are true and trustworthy friends to them. Therefore you should take their side: for they have given no greater honour to any Saxon warrior or cleric than they have given to each warrior or cleric who has come to them from Ireland, for this inimical race of pagans is equally hostile to you also. You must, then, since you are faithful friends, help them on this occasion. This was the same as saying to them, Since we have come from faithful friends of yours to converse with you, you should ask the Danes what gifts in lands and property they would give to the people who would betray the city to them. If they will make terms for that, bring them to swear an oath in a place where it would be convenient to kill them, and when they are taking the oath on their swords and their shields, as is their custom, they will put aside all their good shooting weapons.
All was done accordingly, and they set aside their arms. And the reason why those Irish acted against the Danes was because they were less friends to them than the Norwegians. Then many of them were killed in that way, for huge rocks and beams were hurled onto their heads. Another great number were killed by spears and by arrows, and by every means of killing men.
However, the other army, the Norwegians, was under the hurdles, making a hole in the wall. What the Saxons and the Irish who were among them did was to hurl down huge boulders, so that they crushed the hurdles on their heads. What they did to prevent that was to put great columns under the hurdles. What the Saxons did was to put the ale and water they found in the town into the towns cauldrons, and to boil it and throw it over the people who were under the hurdles, so that their skin peeled off them. The Norwegians response to that was to spread hides on top of the hurdles. The Saxons then scattered all the beehives there were in the town on top of the besiegers, which prevented them from moving their feet and hands because of the number of bees stinging them. After that they gave up the city, and left it. Not long afterwards there was fighting again ...
910 In this year a great force from Bréifne came raiding. This was told to the King of Ireland and to his sons. Then the King of Ireland said, It is the end of time, said he, when peasants like these dare to rise against freemen. The King of Ireland and his sons immediately gathered an
p.175irresistible force, and they proceeded to Druim Criaich, and they were looking at the troops of the Bréifne men there. An army of peasants had never before been seen. They fought together after that, and although there was no king leading them, they fought firmly against the King of Ireland. The sons of the King of Ireland saw a company some ways out from the rest; they approached and fought against it. The sons of the King defeated that troop, and the other troops were immediately defeated and slaughtered, and many of them were taken prisoner, and they were ransomed in return for treasures. The King returned with glory and spoils from the peasants, after killing the king of Bréifne, Flann son of Tigernán.
?910 Kl. Diarmait, king of Osraige, and Áed son of Dub Gilla, king of Uí Dróna, devastated the south of Mag Raigne, and they destroyed Cell na g-Caillech 'the Church of the Nuns', i.e., of Sinche and Rechtín, and Áed's people killed the priest of the community, and God avenged that on Áed son of Dub Gilla, for some peasants of Osraige killed him as he was returning home. That Áed was king of Uí Dróna and the Trí Maige, and was eligible to be king of Uí Ceinnselaig. Whence was said:
- O youths of splendid Ailbe,
mourn the king of noble Sláine;
carry Áed of the hosts of Berba
as far as the sod of level Ferna.
- Ferna Mór with thousands of noble graces,
there has not reached it, as far as is remembered,
a dead man whose fame was more glorious
since Brandub of the hosts was slain.
- My defense, my shelter has gone;
may the King of Kings make smooth the roads;
it is clear in Ráith Étain
that Áed is dead, o youths.
?910 Uallachán son of Cathal, eligible to be king of Uí Failge, died.
Augaire son of Ailill was made king over the Laigin.
?910 Buadach son of Mothla, eligible to be king of the Déissi, died.
911 912 Kl. A great wonder, i.e. two suns moved together on the same day, on the day before the nones of May.
911 Dúnlang son of Cairpre, eligible to be king of the Laigin, died.
911 Domnall son of Áed, king of Ailech, took the pilgrim's staff.
?911 Máel Mórdai, abbot of Tír dá Glas, died.
?912 Gáethíne son of Augrán, eligible to be king of Loíches, dies.
?912 Buadach son of Gossán, eligible to be king of Uí Bairrche, died.