Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The History of Ireland (Author: Geoffrey Keating)

Section 42


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.
    2. 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 Munster, 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 to 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 Ferghuses 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:
    2. Dealbhna Mhor, Dealbhna Bheag of Breagha,
      Dealbhna of Eathra of strong headlands;
      A race of pleasant customs,
      Dealbhna of the tall-peaked Brugh;
    3. 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.