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

Section 13


Suibhne Meann, son of Fiachna, son of Fearadhach, son of Muircheartach, son of Muireadhach, son of Eoghan, son of Niall Naoighiallach, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirteen years. It was in the reign of Suibhne Meann that Caoimhghin of Gleann da Loch died, aged six score years. Caoimhghin was the son of Caomhlogha, son of Caoimhfhiodh, son of Corb, son of Fearghus Laoibdheargh, son of Fothach, son of Eochaidh Laimhdhearg, son of Meisin Corb, of the race of Labhraidh Loingseach. It was about this time that Aodh Beannain, king of Munster, died, and St. Adhamnan, son of Ronan, son of Tinne, son of Aodh, son of Colum, son of Seadna, son of Fearghus, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach, who was abbot of I in Alba. Rona, daughter of Dunghal, king of Ui Turtaire, was the wife of Suibhne Meann, king of Ireland. Suibhne Meann, king of Ireland, was slain by Conghal Claon, son of Scannlan Sciathleathan.

Domhnall, son of Aodh, son of Ainmire, son of Seadna, son of Fearghus Ceannfhoda, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirteen years. And it was this Domhnall who won the Battle of Dun Ceitheirn against Conghal Claon, in which he overthrew him and slew many of his people. It was, moreover, in the reign of Domhnall that the saint who was called Munna died, and that Carrthach, that is, Mochuda, were banished from Rathain to Lios Mor. And Mochuda was of the stock of Ciar, son of Fearghus.

Now when Mochuda went from Ciarraidhe on a pilgrimage to Rathain he built a monastery there, and he placed a community of monks in the monastery; so that there were seven hundred and ten monks with him there, who passed their lives so piously that an angel used to converse with every third monk of them, and thus it came to


pass that the fame and renown for great sanctity of the community of Rathain grew apace. For this reason the saints of the clann Neill became very envious, and they sent word to Mochuda directing him to abandon Rathain and betake himself to his own country, that is, to Munster. Mochuda replied to the messengers who brought him these instructions and said that he would not leave Rathain unless he were put out of it by the hand of a bishop or of a king. When this message reached the pious men of the clann Neill they besought Blathmhac and Diarmaid Ruanuidh, two sons of Aodh Slaine, who were of the clann Neill, to go and expel Mochuda from Rathain; and at the instigation of this body, Blathmhac and Diarmaid Ruanuidh, along with a company of clerics from the northern side, visited Rathain.

When Mochuda heard that they had come close to him he sent a lord of the Picts, or Cruitnigh, from Alba, called Constantine, who was a lay-brother in the community, to beseech these nobles to give a year's respite to Mochuda and to his community before expelling them from Rathain. And he got this request from them. And when the year passed the same nobles came in a year's time, along with a company of the same clerics, and when they had come close to Rathain, Blathmhac sent word to Mochuda asking him to come out of the monastery; and thereupon Mochuda sent the same Constantine to beseech them to give him another year's respite, and they granted this, though unwillingly. And at the end of the third year the same nobles and the same clerics were incited by the lawless folk of the Ui Neill to come and expel Mochuda the third year from Rathain; and when that company had come near the village they, of one accord, sent Diarmaid Ruanuidh and the airchinneach of Cluain Conghusa, along with a party, to bring Mochuda by the hand out of the monastery; and when these had reached the church the airchinneach went in and Diarmaid remained outside at the doorpost. When


Mochuda heard that Diarmaid was at the door he went to welcome him and ask him into the church. ‘I will not go in,’ said Diarmaid. ‘Is it to carry me off from the monastery thou hast come?’ said Mochuda. ‘It is,’ said Diarmaid, ‘but I dare not do it, and I repent of having come on this expedition, by reason of thy great sanctity and of the honour God gives thee.’ ‘Honour in heaven and on earth be thine,’ said Mochuda, ‘and power and the sovereignty and the kingdom of Ireland be thine, and may thy progeny prosper after thee; and when thou shalt have returned to thy company, the youths who are there will give thee the name Diarmaid Ruanuidh in reproach. But that nickname will redound to thy honour and to that of thy offspring.’ Thereupon Diarmaid returned to the company, and when he came before them Blathmhac asked him why he did not lay hands on Mochuda and bring him out of the monastery. ‘I dared not do it,’ said Diarmaid. ‘That, O Diarmaid, is a bashful behaviour.’ And when the company heard this they dubbed him Diarmaid Ruanuidh. Now ruanuidh means deargthach or 'bashful', so that his descendants are called the descendants of Diarmaid Ruanuidh ever since.

As to Blathmhac, he went with a party to the monastery and laid hands on Mochuda, and brought him and his community out of the monastery against their will. And Mochuda cursed Blathmhac. And Mochua proceeded thence, with his community of monks, performing wonders and miracles till he arrived at the Deise; and when he arrived there the king of the Deise went to meet him, and reverenced and honoured him, and commended his body and soul to his protection; and they both proceeded to Dun Scinne, which is now called Lis Mor. There Mochuda and his community dwelt, and there they built a church, so that the place has been honoured and celebrated for piety and learning ever since. Thus far the going of Mochuda from Rathain to Lis Mor.


It was Domhnall, son of Aodh, son of Ainmire, king of Ireland, who fought the Battle of Magh Rath, where Conghal Claon, who had been ten years king of Ulster, was slain. And from the tract called the Battle of Magh Rath it may be readily seen that the array and order of the Irish troops as they went into conflict or engaged in battle were well regulated. For there was a leader of the entire host, and a leader of each division of the host under his charge, and an emblem on the standard of each leader, from which the divisions of the army were distinguished from one another by the seanchas, who were bound to be with the nobles whenever they engaged with one another in conflict or battle, so that the seanchas might be eyewitnesses of the exploits of the nobles, and thus be able to give a true account of their deeds on either side. And hence Domhnall, son of Aodh, king of Ireland, had his own seancha with him when he was about to engage in the Battle of Magh Rath. For when Domhnall was marching against Conghal, king of Ulster, and they were on either side of the river, and when they were in sight of each others host Domhnall asked his seancha to name every one of the standards separately, and its emblem, and the seancha told him what they were, as we read in the poem which begins: Mightily advance the battalions of Conghal, in which is this stanza on the king of Ulster's own emblem:

    1. A yellow lion upon green satin,
      The emblem of the Craobh Ruadh,
      Such as was held by noble Conchubhar
      Conghal now holds.
It is a long time since the Gaels began the practice of having emblems, in imitation of the children of Israel, who employed them in Egypt, in the life-time of Gaedheal, when the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, with Moses as their chief leader. Now there were twelve tribes of them, and each tribe had a separate division of an army and a separate emblem.


    1. The tribe of Ruben, a mandrake on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Simeon, a javelin on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Levi, the Ark on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Juda, a lion on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Isacar, an ass on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Zabulon, a ship on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Nephtalem, the figure of a wild ox on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Gad, the figure of a lioness on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Joseph, a bull on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Benjamin, a wolf on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Dan, a serpent on its standard as an emblem;
      The tribe of Aser, an olive branch on its standard as an emblem.

Here follows the seanchas account of the emblems of the children of Israel, as we read in the old Book of Leacaoin, in Urmhumha, and in many other old books, in the poem below:

    1. I know each great ensign
      That the proud children of Jacob had,
      Few are the people thereafter
      Who know their names.
    2. The tribe of Ruben, prosperity helped them,
      Their ensign was a mandrake;
      The spirited tribe lasted a long time,
      A good host followed its ensign.
    3. The tribe of Simeon asked no ensign
      But a stern avenging javelin;
      Simeon, the guileful wise one,
      Who was vindictive in the affair of Dionna.
    4. The tribe of Levi, the people of the Ark,
      Numerous their flocks and great herds;
      It was a guarantee of their welfare
      To see the Ark with them.
    5. The ensign of the noble tribe of Juda,
      The figure of a powerful lion;
      The tribe of Juda, in the hour of wrath
      Proud hosts following a good ensign
    6. The tribe of Isacar, of the pure gold,
      Had an ensign like an ass;
      Often a host with ruddy face,
      Followed the great beautiful ensign.

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    8. The tribe of Zabulon, of the bright girdles,
      The figure of their ensign was a laden ship;
      It was usual on the shallow waves
      For all to be in their laden ships.
    9. The figure of a wild ox, short-flanked, swift,
      Had the tribe of Neptalem, the venemous;
      Of the tribe that practised the fury of wrath
      The warriors round their ready ensign were not few.
    10. The ensign of the tribe of Gad, in conflict,
      Was as the figure of a lioness;
      Nor have we deemed timorous in the time of wrathful fury
      Each warrior following the great ensign.
    11. An ensign like a bull with constant strength,
      In the east had the tribe of renowned Joseph;
      It is well known that vultures sought
      The bold, glorious race.
    12. The tribe of Benjamin, of swift vigour,
      Its ensign was above ensigns;
      An ensign like the ravening wolf,
      Ruddiness in the glorious feast.
    13. The tribe of Dan, stubborn the race,
      A venemous family of a sinister house,
      Powerful to strike back, as it implies,
      Like a great serpent, its ensign.
    14. The tribe of Aser, not stinted in herds,
      An ensign they clung to like a garment;
      Its choice was identical with
      A beautiful fair olive branch.
    15. I have enumerated their tribes above,
      I have enumerated their ensigns;
      The enumeration of the abodes of the spirited tribes,
      How many men are ignorant of? I know.

It was in the reign of Domhnall, son of Aodh, king of Ireland, of whom we are treating, that the following saints died, to wit, Mochua, of the race of Oilill, son of Cathaoir Mor, who lived and blessed in Teach Mochua in Laoighis, and Mochudha and Maolaise of Leithghlinn, who were of the race of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach and


Comhdhan, son of Da Cearda, and Cronan, bishop of Caondrom. And Domhnall, son of Aodh, son of Ainmire, king of Ireland, died.