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Bethada Náem nÉrenn

Author: [unknown]

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Charles Plummer

English translation by Charles Plummer

Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber

Proof corrections by Janet Crawford, Carol Cregg, Beatrix Färber, Juliette Maffet

Funded by School of History, University College, Cork

1. First draft.

Extent of text: 40025 words


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For a description of the MS see Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, fasc. 23 (ed. Elizabeth FitzPatrick and Kathleen Mulchrone, Dublin 1940) 2780–83. For further information see the CELT file header of the Irish version, G201000.


    Manuscript sources for Irish text
  1. Brussels, Royal Library, MS 2324–40, written by Michael O'Clery, AD 1620–1635 (hereafter O'Clery 1).
  2. Brussels, Royal Library, MS 4190–200, written by Michael O'Clery, AD 1627–1635 (hereafter O'Clery 2).
  3. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 968 (olim A iv 1 olim Stowe MSS, vol. 9, see Catalogue of the Irish Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, fasc. 22, p. 2780), copied at Cork by Domhnall Ó Duinnín for Francis O'Mahony, provincial of the Friars Minor of Ireland in September 1627 (hereafter Stowe).
    Editions, secondary and reference works
  1. John Francis [=Iain] Campbell, Popular Tales of the West Highlands, orally collected with a translation by J. F. Campbell; vol. I, 48 (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1860–1862).
  2. Charles Plummer (ed.), Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, 2 vols. (Oxford 1910; repr. Oxford 1968) [SS Abbanus, Aedus, Albeus, Barrus, Berachus, Boecius, Brendanus, Cannicus, Carthagus, Ciaranus de Cluain, Ciaranus de Saigir, Coemgenus, Colmanus de Land Elo, Comgallus, Cronanus, Declanus, Endeus, Fechinus, Finanus de Cenn Etigh, Fintanus, Geraldus, Ita, Lasrianus seu Molaissus, Maedoc, Mochoemog, Mochua de Tech Mochua, Moling, Molua seu Lugidus, Munnu, Ruadanus, Samthanna, Tigernacus].
  3. Charles Plummer, Bethada Náem nÉrenn. Lives of the Irish Saints (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1922, repr. 1968). 2 vols. Vol. 1: Introduction, texts, glossary; vol. 2: Translations, notes, indexes.
  4. Silva gadelica, 2 vols. (London, 1892), i 1–65, ii 1–69 [Lives of SS Ciarán of Saigir, Mo Laise, Maigniu, Cellach; respectively from London, BL, Egerton 112; s. xviii (1780–2); London, BL, Additional 18205; s. xvi; London, BL, Egerton 91; s. xv; Dublin, RIA, 1230 olim 23 P 16 al. Leabhar Breac].
  5. D. B. Mulcahy (ed. & trans.), Beatha naoimh Chiaráin Saighre: Life of S. Kiaran (the Elder) of Seir (Dublin 1895).
  6. Paul Grosjean (ed.), 'Vita S. Ciarani episcopi de Saigir ex codice hagiographico Gothano', Analecta Bollandiana 59 (1941), 217–71.
  7. W. W. Heist (ed.), Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae ex codice olim Salmanticensi nunc Bruxellensi, Subsidia Hagiographica, 28 (Brussels 1965) [SS Brigida, Furseus, Brendanus (2), Ciaranus Cluanensis, Darerca seu Monenna, Finnianus de Cluain Iraird, Tigernachus, Columba Hiensis (2), Fintanus de Dun Blesci, Albeus, Lugidus seu Molua (2), Fintanus de Cluain Edhnech, Finanus de Cenn Etigh, Ruadanus, Aidus episcopus Killariensis, Cainnechus, Fintanus seu Munnu (2), Colmanus de Land Elo, Columba de Tir Da Glas, Aedanus seu Maedoc Fernensis, Abbanus, Cronanus de Ros Cré, Laurentius episcopus Dublinensis, Flannanus, Senanus, Comgallus, Carthachus seu Mochuda, Lasrianus seu Molaisse, Maccarthinnus, Ciaranus Saigirensis, Dairchellus seu Moling, Colmanus Dromorensis, Caemgenus Glenndalochensis, Baithinus Hiensis, Daigeus mac Cairill, Mochteus, Eoganus Ardsratensis, Macnissseus, Cuannatheus seu Cuanna Limorensis, Mochulleus].
  8. Liam de Paor, St Patrick's world: the christian culture of Ireland's apostolic age (Dublin 1993) 227–80 [SS Ailbe, Déclán, Ciarán of Saigir].
  9. Pádraig Ó Riain, Beatha Bharra: Saint Finnbarr of Cork, the Complete Life (London: Irish Texts Society 1994).
  10. Máire Herbert, Hagiography. In: Progress in medieval Irish studies, (Maynooth 1996).
  11. Ingrid Sperber (trans.), 'The Life of St Ciarán of Saigir', in William Nolan and Timothy P. O'Neill (eds.), Offaly: history and society (Dublin 1998) 131–52 [from Dublin, Marsh's L, Z 3.1.5. olim V. 3. 4; s. xv].
  12. Christina Harrington, Women in a Celtic Church: Ireland 450–1150 (Oxford 2002).
  13. Thomas Charles-Edwards, 'The Northern Lectionary: a Source for the Codex Salmanticensis', in: Jane Cartwright (ed), Celtic Hagiography and Saints' Cults (Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2003) 148–160.
  14. Nathalie Stalmans, Saints d'Irlande: Analyse critique des sources hagiographiques (VIIe-IXe siècles) (Rennes 2003).
  15. Pádraig Ó Riain, A dictionary of Irish Saints (Dublin 2011) (with bibliography).
    Select bibliography of the writings of Charles Plummer
  1. P. Allen; F. M. Stenton; R. I. Best, Charles Plummer 1851–1927 [with bibliography], Proceedings of the British Academy 15. Separately printed [1931].
  2. P. Grosjean, Charles Plummer, Revue Celtique 45 (1928), 431–435.
  3. Charles Plummer, The Conversion of Loegaire and his Death, Revue Celtique 6 (1884), 162–172.
  4. Charles Plummer, Notes on the Stowe Missal, Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 27 (1885), 441–448.
  5. Charles Plummer, Some new light on the Brendan legend, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 5 (1905), 124–141.
  6. Charles Plummer, Cáin Eimíne Báin, Ériu 4 (1908), 39–46.
  7. Charles Plummer, Betha Farannáin, Anecdota from Irish Manuscripts 3 (1909), 1–7.
  8. Charles Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford 1910). 2 vols.
  9. Charles Plummer, The miracles of Senan, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 10 (1914), 1–35.
  10. Charles Plummer, Notes on some passages in the Brehon laws, Ériu 8 (1916 (17)), 127–132; 9 (1921), 31–42; (1923), 109–117; 10 (1926), 113–129.
  11. Charles Plummer, On the meaning of Ogam stones, Revue Celtique 40 (1923), 387–390.
  12. Charles Plummer, Notes on some passages in the Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus of Stokes and Strachan, Revue Celtique 42 (1925), 376–378.
  13. Charles Plummer, Irish Litanies (London 1925). Henry Bradshaw Society 62.
  14. Charles Plummer, Miscellanea Hagiographica Hibernica (Brussels 1925). Société des Bollandistes, Subsidia Hagiographica 15.
  15. Charles Plummer, On the colophons and marginalia of Irish scribes, Proceedings of the British Academy 12, 11–44. Separately printed, 34 pp. (London [1926]).
  16. Charles Plummer, On the fragmentary state of the text of the Brehon laws, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 17 (1927), 157–166.
  17. Charles Plummer; J. Fraser; P. Grosjean, Vita Brigitae (Irish Texts 1 (1931), 2–18).
    Internet source
  1. Plummer's Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford 1910) is available on
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. Bethada Náem nÉrenn (Lives of Irish Saints) . Charles Plummer (ed), Richard Irvine Best (ed), Second edition, in that the text is reprinted from the corrected sheets of the first edition [vol. 1: xliv + 346 pp; vol. 2: 484pp] Clarendon Press Oxford (1922) (repr. 1968)


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This edition covers the English translation. Editorial introduction, glossary, and indexes have been omitted. Editorial foot- and endnotes are added into the electronic edition as such (endnotes being placed directly after the text they refer to; and sections introduced by Plummer being labelled 'subsections'). Missing text supplied by the editor is tagged.

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div0=the volume; div1=the individual saint's Life or religious text; sections (which derive from the MSS) are marked div2; sub-sections, which derive from the editor, are marked div3, when present; poems are marked for stanzas and lines. Typographical line-breaks are not marked. Page-breaks and folio numbers of the manuscript are marked.

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Created: Translation by Charles Plummer; for Irish text see CELT file header for file G201000. (c. 1921-1922)

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Language: [EN] The translation is in English.
Language: [LA] Some words and phrases are in Latin.
Language: [GA] Some words and phrases are in Irish.
Language: [FR] A phrase is in French.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: T201000F

Bethada Náem nÉrenn: Author: [unknown]

{folio 146b}

Life of Abban

Once upon a time an eminent king assumed the headship of Leinster, whose name was Cormac. He had a wife named Milla, and she was own sister to Bishop Iubar. And it so befell that she was pregnant, and at the time of her delivery she sent word to her brother, Bishop Iubar. And when Milla saw her brother, she said:—

    1. Bishop Iubar to my aid!
      It is he who knows my secrets;
      Let him ask forgiveness of my sins;
      Sharp pains have overtaken me.

And the bishop said:

    1. Bishop Iubar is before thee,
      Sharp pains have overtaken thee;
      Thou shalt bear a noble wondrous son;
      May the King of the elements aid thee!

At the prayer of the holy bishop the woman bare a son without pain or travail; and he was baptized, and the name Abban was given to him. And he was sent to be fostered, and to be instructed in feats of strength and valour1 with a view to his succeeding his father in the kingdom; but it was of no avail.

Whatever was recited to him of the words of God he would recite, and he remembered the Scripture without any trouble or committing to memory. The grace of God rested manifestly upon him; nor was this wonderful, seeing that Patrick, when he first landed in Leinster, prophesied of him, as did many other saints.

And his fosterers were astonished at Abban's mode of life; and they took him with them to his father and mother, and declared to them that Abban had no desire to shape his acts with a view to the succession, but (only) to follow the true God and the Catholic faith.

And his father and his mother entreated him to remain as their heir, but it was of no avail. ‘Everything is nought’ said he, ‘save God.’ And he was imprisoned, and chains put upon him, and he was put into2 the hostages' pit. But the next morning they found him free without chain or fetter on the green of the fort. And when


they saw that they had no power over him, they allowed him to follow his own will. And he returned to the abode of his fosterers.

One day when Abban was with his foster-mother's calves, a wolf came to him. ‘God commanded,’ said Abban, ‘to help necessity. Eat this calf,’ {folio 147a} said he, ‘for thou art hungry.’ The wolf ate it, and thanked Abban for its meal.

But the other youths were grieved that the calf should have been devoured by the wolf, and they went to complain of Abban to his foster-mother, and Abban was afraid of his foster-mother. ‘Ah Jesus!’ said he, ‘who didst create this calf without any material; create it now out of the material that is left of it here.’ The calf arose and joined the other calves, and bleated and frisked along with them. And Abban's fosterers went to the queen and king and told them of these miracles. ‘We are willing,’ said they, ‘that he should worship Him who wrought these miracles for him.’

Abban went to Bishop Iubar, his mother's brother; and the bishop welcomed him for his godliness even more than for his near relationship to himself. Abban was then twelve years old. Iubar had many a saintly pupil, and many a noble church. But he had one church that he loved above them all in an island on the south side of Leinster, named Beggery.

Iubar went to Rome, and he begged Abban to stay and superintend the monks till his return. But Abban did not wish to do this, but to set out for Rome with Iubar, and he wept so that his shirt and breast were wet. Iubar called him, and he laid his head on his breast, and fell asleep; and Iubar went on board unobserved by Abban. And when he awoke he saw the ship in the offing, so that it seemed to him almost like an airy cloud, and he was sorely grieved thereat. ‘Ah Jesus!’ said he, ‘prosper my way to yon boat. Thou didst cause the Red Sea to ebb, and nothing in the world is difficult for Thee. Lead me to worship Thee.’

He arose and set out over the sea, and angels were clearly seen on either side of him, and the spectators were uncertain whether heavenly wings had grown upon him, or whether he were walking like a man. The ship stopped for him on the sea, and the crew were astonished, until Iubar told them that it was for Abban that the ship delayed.

Abban went on board, and they land {folio 147b} in Italy, and go to a heathen city called Padua. And they were asked: ‘Whence have ye come? and in what direction are ye going?’ ‘We are Irish’, said they, ‘and we are journeying to Rome, to receive the benefit of the reward which God promised to His people.’ ‘What is that?’ said


the king, ‘and what say ye of our gods?’ ‘Gods deaf and dumb are yours; without power to help themselves or any one else.’ ‘Show us some miracle of your own God,’ said the king; ‘kindle this lamp with your breaths without any fire, or else ye shall have an evil death forthwith.’ And Iubar and his company breathed on the lamp in turn, and it was not kindled. Now Abban was sleeping then from the effects of his journey; and they wake him, and he breathed on the lamp, and it was kindled at once.

The wife of the king died that very night; and on the morrow the king came to the. saints, and begged them to raise his wife, and he would receive baptism. ‘To Abban has God granted to do this,’ said Iubar. Abban prayed over the woman, and roused her from death. And the king and his wife and all their people thereupon received baptism.

‘Help this country,’ said the king. ‘There is a venomous monster preying on it, both men and cattle daily. It has the shape of a lion; and I once led the people of the country to expel it, and it killed three hundred warriors of them, and remained in its own lair ravaging us daily.’ Abban took some of them with him as guides to the place where the monster was, and (then) they went back again, for their fear did not allow them to do more than point it out from a distance.

The venomous monster with its huge3 sting came to meet Abban. ‘I enjoin on the part of Jesus,’ said Abban, ‘that the soul which God placed in thee, with which thou hast done deeds of evil, depart from thee, and that the frightful sting which thou hast vanish.’ The soul (of the monster) {folio 148a} departed at the saint's word. And the inhabitants spread through the country to their own homes and dwellings praising God.

The king went to the saints. ‘We have a lake,’ said he, ‘with venomous monsters on it, which ravage the country, and we would fain have your help against them.’ They went together to the brink of the lake; and the monsters came to meet Abban, and lay down beside him, and licked his feet, and did obeisance to him. ‘I command you,’ said Abban, ‘in the name of the Trinity, to go into a small corner of yonder lake, and to live on its fish, and to remain there continually without injuring any one at all.’ And they did so; and they are still seen in that corner at the end of every seventh year,4 to show that they remain there in fulfilment of Abban's word.

The saints went on to Rome with the benedictions of the


people, and they also blessed the people. After accomplishing their pilgrimage in Rome they went back to Ireland.

Patrick and Bishop Iubar and Abban went in a ship on Loch Garman; and they saw a huge monster by their side with a hundred heads, two hundred eyes, and two hundred ears, and it stirred up a violent storm on the sea, bringing the gravel to the surface, so that the ship was sinking. Patrick and Bishop Iubar went on to the benches of the ship to pray God to help them.

Abban stayed behind, for he did not consider his prayers comparable to those of the other saints; and the storm did not abate. An angel said above them: ‘Take Abban to you, for it is to his prayer that has been granted the repelling of yon monster.’ And Abban was brought to them, and he prayed to God and repelled the monster, and it was not known whither it had gone. And it was the devil who had caused the monster to come to them in that form to destroy the saints. The sea then became calm, and they landed on the strand of their choice.

Abban was once by the shore, and saw a sea wave of enormous size coming towards him, and it towered above the land, and struck the shore at {folio 148b} the place where he was, but came no further. Abban laid his staff upon the wave, and mounted on it, and the staff carried him on the wave out into the deep sea, and many devils came around him. ‘Now,’ said they, ‘we will take vengeance on thee for all the wrong and persecution which thou hast wrought on us, in carrying off our people from us by thy subtlety and fantastic jugglery;’ and then they heard the voice of an angel above them.

‘Be off,’ said he, ‘to the depth of hell, where ye shall abide for ever.’ And they did so; and Abban was upon his staff all the time. ‘Thou shalt be,’ said the angel, ‘for three hundred and seventeen years serving God without there being any power to assail thee, and (then) thy soul goes to the presence of the Trinity, and till the end of doom men will be the better for this voyage which thou hast made. God has given to thee power over the sea such as He never gave to any one before. No one who goes to sea in coracle or ship shall fail to return safe, if he recites (this couplet) thrice in the name of the Trinity’:

    1. 1] The coracle of Abban on the water,
      2] And the fair company of Abban in it.
‘And thrice shalt thou go to Rome.’

One day Abban was walking by the shore of the harbour; and saw three ships in port starting for Rome. He went to them, and entered one of them to join in the pilgrimage on which they were bound; and there were fifty men in each ship. They got out on to the high sea, but they could not move in any direction. They remained


thus for a long time, and marvelled greatly at it, till they heard the voice of an angel above them: ‘This is the cause of your (trouble)’ said he, ‘that ye have no head or abbot over you. There is a fitting abbot for you there,’ said the angel, ‘and his name is Abban.’ ‘We do not know the man,’ said they. ‘Cast these lots among you,’ said the angel, ‘and the one on whom this lot shall fall, offer to him the headship of you.’ And the lot fell upon Abban, and they did obeisance to him; and they had a prosperous voyage till they reached Rome.

In Rome they were met by one who used to give first night's entertainment to every pilgrim who entered Rome; and he took them to his house, and Abban was greatly honoured by him. And the men marvelled at the special treatment which he gave to Abban without knowing him. {folio 149a} ‘An angel pointed him out to me,’ said the goodman of the house. ‘That is no wonder,’ said they, ‘(for) we were compelled to remain motionless on the sea, till we did obeisance to him.’ Gregory conferred priest's orders on him, and made him an abbot.

And they set out to return to Ireland; and he fell in with two armies that were on the point of joining battle, with their spears couched and swords drawn one against the other. Abban went between them. ‘In the name of the Trinity,’ said he, ‘cease from this madness which possesses you, and exchange the worser deed for a good deed.’ They laid aside their anger, and made peace and concord, and they remained in quietness and amity thenceforth. And Abban went to Ireland, taking the benediction of these armies with him.

He went on to Connaught, and built three noble churches there. And he went back to Crích Eachach Coinchinn in the district of Corco Duibne. Many holy churches then were sained by Abban. And he blessed Boirnech, and gave it to Gobnat. And he blessed Cell Aithfe on Magh Coinchinn and gave it to Finan; and he prophesied of Finan sometime before he was born,5 and assigned Cell Eachach Coinchinn to him.

And he blessed Cúl Collainge, and Bri Gobhann, and Cell Cruimthir, and Cell na Marbh; and he blessed Cluain aird Mobecoc, and Cluain Finnglaisi, and left Beccan there, and many other churches; and he left officers of Holy Church in each one of them.

Abban went into Eile, and the king and the people of the country were holding a fair, and they were heathen; and Abban came sowing the word of God among them. ‘What is God?’ said


the king. ‘The fashioner of heaven and earth, who knows both past and future’ (lit. everything that has come and that has not come). ‘Tell me,’ said the king, ‘that big stone yonder on the hill, is there more of it in the earth or above the earth?’ And Abban told him. And slaves of the king were sent to raise it out of the earth, and it was found to be as Abban said. And the king and his country accepted baptism thereupon.

{folio 149b}

‘There is a venomous monster in this country,’ said the king, ‘shaped like a cat, with fiery head and tail, bigger than the calves of our kine, and with teeth like a dog's.’ ‘I promise thee on the part of God, that it shall not do harm to any one of this country,’ said Abban. And the monster happened to meet him one day by the river Brosnach, and licked his feet, and lowered its horrible bristles and its venomous sting, and did obeisance to him. And he took it with him, and put it into a lake near by, to live on fish and lake water. And he commanded it not to injure any man or beast thenceforth; and this was fulfilled.

Now the king was old at this time, and he had no heir except a daughter whom his wife bore that very night. And he requested Abban to baptize her. And he perceived the sadness of the king at having no heir. ‘If God pleases,’ said Abban, ‘thou shalt have an heir.’ ‘Nay,’ said the king, ‘that is impossible for me owing to my age.’ Abban took the infant in his hands, and prayed earnestly to God that the king might have an heir; and the girl that he immersed in the font he took out as a boy, and laid it in the king's bosom. ‘Here is thy son,’ said he. And the king was exceeding glad, and so were the people of the country, at these miracles. And Abban and the king parted in great amity, and Abban went to Ros mac Triuin.

One day Abban was on the bank of the Siuir, and the river was in flood. The (water at the) ford subsided before Abban, leaving (merely) dry stones. There were innumerable godly people with Abban at the time. ‘Take your way here,’ said he. They did so, and Abban followed them, and a young lad with him, whom he did not notice; and the stream overwhelmed him. They did not miss the lad till they were at refection the next day. Abban went to the stream and raised the child from the river bed, without a wet spot on his hair or raiment.

One day Abban's shepherds were tending their flock, when they saw {folio 150a} wolves coming to them. ‘Let them alone, and tend them,’ said Abban, and the wolves did so, and they it was that acted as his shepherds as long as he lived.

Cormac son of Diarmait, king of Úi Cennselaigh came to


ravage Camross, a monastery of Abban's. Some of his host went into Abban's kitchen, and carried out on to the green a bushel measure which was there, but they could not set it down, for their hands clave to it. The king and his host were frightened, and sent for Abban, and begged him to show mercy to them in the strait in which they were. Abban made the sign of the cross with his hand6 over them, and the bushel fell from them; and the land round about the place was given to Abban, and Abban returned with the benediction of the country.

Night fell upon him, and it was cold and dark, and they could not move a step on the way. An angel came to meet them, with a bright taper in his hand, and he placed it in the hand of Abban; and Abban guided them by the taper till they reached their own monastery. He found the angel waiting for him there in the church, who took the taper from his hand, and they parted from one another.

One day Abban seeing a dumb man coming towards him to seek his help, made the sign of the cross in the name of Jesus on an apple which he had in his hand. ‘Eat this,’ said he; the sick man did so, and was whole of every disease that he had.

Another day Abban saw a man who was paralysed, and wanting a hand and a foot. He entreated Abban for love and pity to help him. ‘Be whole,’ said Abban, ‘in the name of the Trinity’; and at Abban's word he was (whole).

One day Abban saw a man who had been attacked by leprosy, who begged his help. ‘I entreat God to help thee,’ said Abban; and God did so at the word of the saint.

There were two chiefs7 in Abban's neighbourhood who were at variance with one another. They had arranged a day of battle {folio 150b} on a certain plain, where they were face to face. The tribes to which the chiefs belonged sent to Abban to come and help them.8 He betook himself to ‘cross-vigil’9 to God with a view to this; and he obtained his request, so that they could not wield their weapons or attack one another, but became peaceful at Abban's word.

There was a certain distinguished wright in Abban's neighbourhood, who used to execute work for every saint in his time. And he was blinded through the reproaches of the saints, owing to the high prices which he charged them, and the excessive wages (which he extorted). He was called Gobán. Abban went to ask him to build a monastery for him. He said that it was impossible for him


to do so, as he was blind. Abban said to him: ‘Thou shalt receive thy sight while thou art at the work, but it will depart when the work is finished.’ This came true. And the name of God and of Abban was magnified thereby.

A dumb man came to Abban for his help. He said: ‘O Jesus, who didst once give speech to a brute beast, the ass, give utterance to this man,’ said he. And it was done thereupon as he requested.

Now Abban's monks had many kine, and one of their herdsmen came to him and said that he had a parti-coloured cow, more beautiful than any earthly cattle, but it was barren, and had never yielded milk or calved since it was born. He thereupon blessed the cow, and it bore twin calves coloured like itself, and10 vessels scarcely sufficed for its milk; and it continued so without abatement all Abban's lifetime, but failed afterwards.

Once on a time a congregation of monks in Abban's neighbourhood came to him to inquire as to their (future) life and (the place of) their resurrection, and to be taught and instructed by him. There were a hundred and forty clerks of them. Abban did as they requested, and thereupon they bade him farewell.

There is no ‘finit’ here to the life of Abban.11 12


{folio 122b}

Life of Bairre of Cork

Now my Bairre was of Connaught by race, of the descendants of Brian son of Eochaid, to speak precisely; to wit, Bairre son of Amairgen, son of Dubduibne, son of Art, son of Carthann, son of Fland, son of Ninnid, son of Brian, son of Eochaid Muigmedon. The race and stock of St. Bairre removed subsequently from the borders of Connaught, and occupied a possession and land at Achad Durbcon in the district of Muscraige Mitine.

There Amairgen, the father of Bairre, owned a townland. This Amairgen was a notable smith, chief smith to the king of Rathlenn at that time, Tigernach son of Aed Uargarb (cold-rough), son of Crimthann, son of Eochaid, son of Cas, son of Corc.

Now there was a beautiful female slave in the house of this king.13 The king gave notice to his household that none of them should have intercourse with her. Amairgen did not hear this. The smith and the handmaid came together secretly; and their matter became known subsequently, for the handmaid conceived. After this the king Tigernach called the handmaid, and asked her by whom she was pregnant;14 and she said that it was by Amairgen.

Then the king ordered that they should both be bound, Amairgen and the handmaid, and further ordered them to light a great fire, and cast them both into it. But God did not allow him to do this; for there came lightning and thunder, and heavy rain, so that they could not light the fire, because St. Bairre was dear to God, even before he was born. Then the infant spoke from his mother's womb, and said: ‘O King, do not this wicked deed, for thou wilt not be the better loved by God, though thou do it.’ Then said the king to his household: ‘Wait a while, that we may see and know who is addressing us.’

Then15 the lightning and thunder and rain ceased, and Amairgen and the handmaid were saved from being burned. And the handmaid bore the wondrous boy,16 St. Bairre. Immediately after his birth he addressed the king, (saying) that his father and mother should be released to him. The king set them at liberty at his request, and surrendered himself and his seed to Bairre {folio áa} for ever.

After this the child did not speak (again) till the proper time.


Amairgen and the handmaid afterwards went to Achad Durbcon, taking the little child with them. There the child was baptized. It was Mac Cuirb, bishop of Dal Modula of Corco Airchind Droma, who baptized him. The original name given to him was Loán; and he was nurtured in Achad Durbcon for the space of seven years.

Now there were three clerks of the men of Munster who were on pilgrimage in Leinster at this time.17 They went in the course of a journey to visit their own country, and on their journey they came to the house of Amairgen, and saw the beautiful little lad in the house. Said the eldest of the three: ‘Fair is this little boy,’ said he; ‘the grace of the Holy Spirit shines in his countenance; and it would be a pleasure to us to teach him.’ ‘If it be your pleasure,’ said Amairgen, ‘take him with you, and let him be taught.’ The elder said: ‘We will not take him now, (but wait) till we come again on our way back into Leinster.’

Afterwards the same three came to the house of Amairgen in the time of summer, and took the boy with them. Now when they reached the hill called Muincille, that is Ros Coill, the little boy became thirsty, and cried, asking for a drink. The elder said to his servant: ‘Go to that doe there on the hill, and bring from her a drink for the boy.’ The servant went, and milked a vessel full of milk from her, and it was given to the little boy.

Then said the elder: ‘The place in which God wrought this wonderful miracle for the boy, is a fit place for his instruction to commence, for his hair to be shorn, and his name to be changed.’ And so it was done. The man who sheared him said: ‘Beautiful and fair (find) is the crest (barr) on Loán.’ Said the elder: ‘Thou hast spoken well; for this shall be his name henceforth, Findbarr’18 (Fair-crest).

This was the day on which Brendan of Birr came to Sliab Muincille, and he had reached the place where Brendan's crosses stand to-day. His chariot bounded three times under him, and he was thrown out of it. And he wept greatly, and smiled afterwards. And his household asked him why he wept first, and laughed afterwards. ‘A little lad has come here to-day,’ (said he), ‘for whom God has wrought a great miracle. This is the reason why I was {folio 123b} sad.’

‘I had made request to God for three estates in Desmond that they might serve my successor after me, to wit from the Blackwater to the Lee, from the Lee to the Bandon and Bearhaven, from the Bandon to Cape Clear. And God did not grant them me; but God has given them to serve Bairre for ever.’ The three clerks above mentioned afterwards came into the district of Leinster, and Bairre with them. And it was he who marked out the church of Mac


Cathail (Kilmacahill) in Gowran Pass. And there Bairre read his psalms.

Once Bairre was reading his psalms, and there came a heavy fall of snow, so that there was a hood of snow round the hut in which Bairre was doing his lesson. Bairre said to his tutor: ‘I should like this hood to remain around my hut, till I shall have finished my psalms.’ God did so; for the snow melted from the earth, but the hood of snow remained round the hut till Bairre had finished his psalms.

Once a certain rich man, Fidach by name, came where Bairre was, to Lochan, to take him (Lochan) as his confessor. Lochan said to Fidach: ‘Kneel to that little lad there, to Bairre.’ Fidach said: ‘I think it a mean thing to kneel to him.’ Said Lochan to Fidach: ‘If I take him as confessor, wilt thou take him (also)?’ Fidach said that he would. Then the clerk knelt to Bairre, and Fidach knelt (also). And Lochan offered his church to God and to Bairre; and Fidach offered [himself] and his descendants [to him.] Bairre said to his tutor: ‘Receive from me this man and his descendants, in return for teaching me my psalms.’19

After this Bairre set out to go to Munster. He came to the place in Ossory where Cul Caissine stands to-day. He marked out the church, and it was offered to him for ever.20

After this Bairre came to Aghaboe, and he first settled there. Later on came Cainnech21 Mac Ua Dalann to Bairre, and begged him to relinquish the place to him. ‘What shall I have therefore?’22 said Bairre. ‘Thou shalt have {folio 124a} good therefore, O Bairre,’ said Cainnech; ‘the place in which thou shalt settle, and in which thy relics shall be, shall have continually abundance of learning and prosperity and honour in return for the honour which thou


showest to me.’

‘What else?’ said Bairre. ‘Thou shalt have,’ said Cainnech, ‘heaven for every one of thy successors.’ ‘Methinks thou hast said this too soon,’ said Bairre, ‘it is likely that they will be remiss, [lit. let go], and get it23 because of this word.’ Cainnech said: ‘When thy successor and representative dies, by the gift of the heavenly King, he shall not depart without confession.’ They marked out the church and the cemetery; and Bairre said: ‘Few will be the sons of perdition in this church.’ Cainnech said: ‘Not many will be the sons of perdition in thy cemetery.’

After this Bairre came to Bishop Mac Cuirb in Cliu. This Mac Cuirb was a notable man, and fellow-pupil to David of Cell Muine, both of them being pupils of Gregory of Rome. When then Bairre came to Bishop Mac Cuirb, the king, Fachtna Fergach24 (i. e. the Wrathful) the elder, son of Caelbad, of Muscraige Breogan, addressed him, and said to him: ‘I want you to bless my two children, my blind son and my dumb daughter.’ Bairre blessed them both, and they were healed, to wit the sight of the son, and the speech of the daughter.

As they were conversing25 together, Bairre and the king, they heard a great lamentation. ‘What is this?’ said Bairre. The king said: ‘My wife has just died.’ Said Bairre to the king: ‘God is able to raise her from the dead.’ After this Bairre blessed water,26 and they washed the queen with it, and she arose from death, as if she were rising from sleep.

As they were talking together, Bairre and the king,27 the king said: ‘Why, O Bairre, dost thou not do miracles in our presence as well?’ Bairre said: ‘God is able to do them, if it be His pleasure.’ It was then just the time of spring.28 Nevertheless there fell29 ripe nuts from the hazel tree under which they were, so that their bosoms were full of the nuts. Then the king Fachtna offered Rath Airtenn (or Airrtad) to Bairre in perpetuity.

After this Bairre read the book of Matthew and the book of the Apostles {folio 124b} with Bishop Mac Cuirb. And Bishop Mac Cuirb demanded of Bairre the fee for his instruction. Bairre said: ‘What fee dost thou demand?’ Bishop Mac Cuirb said: ‘This is my wish, that the resurrection of us both may be in the same place in the Day of Judgement.’ Said Bairre: ‘Thou shalt have thy wish, for in the same place (with me) shalt thou be buried, and we shall have our resurrection.’

After this Bairre dwelt on Loch Irce, in Edergole to the


east of the lough.30 And this was the school which Bairre had on the lough: Eolang his tutor,31 Colman of Daire Duncon,32 and Baichine and Nesan, and Garban son of Findbarr, and Talmach, and Finnchad of Donaghmore, and Fachtna of Ria, and Fachtna of Ros Ailithir, Luicer and Caman and Loichine of Achad Airaird, Cairine and Finntan and Eothuile who are in Ros Caerach, Grellan in Druim Draighnighe, and Cáelchú and Mogenna, and Modimócc, and Santan, and Luiger son of Colum. All these east of the lough.33 And this was the school which Bairre had on the lough: Eolang his tutor,34 Colman of Daire Duncon,35 and Baichine and Nesan, and Garban son of Findbarr, and Talmach, and Finnchad of Donaghmore, and Fachtna of Ria, and Fachtna of Ros Ailithir, Luicer and Caman and Loichine of Achad Airaird, Cairine and Finntan and Eothuile who are in Ros Caerach, Grellan in Druim Draighnighe, and Cáelchú and Mogenna, and Modimócc, and Santan, and Luiger son of Colum. All these offered their churches to God and to Bairre in perpetuity.

These also were with him in Edergole: Bairre's own sister, and Crothru daughter of Conall, and three daughters of Mac Carthainn, and Coch a nun of Ross Banagher, and Moshillan of Rathmore, and Scothnat of Cluain Bec, and Lasar of Achad Durbcon, and three daughters of Lugaid, Dune,36 and Er, and Brigit of Airnaide. All these offered their churches to God and to Bairre in perpetuity.

Bairnech Mór in the district of Muscraige Mitaine, Iuran the Briton first settled there, and Nathi and Bróccán. They offered their church, Bairnech Mór, to Bairre; and Bairre left with them a reliquary37 and the four books of the Gospel. Lugaid son of Fintan of Dal Modúla of Airther Cliach was the first to occupy Cenna Dromma in Carn Tigernaigh in the district of Fermoy; he offered his church to Bairre, and he received from Bairre an offertorium of white bronze. Baetan son of Eogan occupied Glenn Cáin in the district of Úi Luigdech of Eile, and Modimócc also, a pupil of Bairre; and these two were bishops. They both offered their church, Glenn Cáin, to Bairre in full possession. {folio 125a} Druim Eidnech in the district of the Úi Luigdech of Eile was occupied by Sáran. He offered his church to Bairre, and received from Bairre his bronze reliquary containing the Host.38

Goban Corr (?the dwarf) settled on Fán Lopaist, and offered his church to Bairre, and Bairre gave him an offertorium of silver and an altar-chalice of gold. Fintan and Domangen occupied Cluain Fota, and Tulach Min, and they offered their church to Bairre. Bairre gave them an offertorium and altar-chalice of glass. Bairre performed a wonderful miracle there; he healed a boy of blindness and [a girl] of dumbness, and healed a leper so that he was whole. Brogan son of Senan39 was a pupil of Bairre, and he did three lessons daily with Bairre till orders were conferred upon him. He offered himself and his church, Clúain Cárnai, to Bairre in perpetuity.


Afterwards Bairre, with an angel guiding him, came to his own district, and built the church of Achad Durbcon. There is a cave there called Cúas Barrai (Bairre's Cave), and a fair pool beside it, from which was brought every night to Bairre a salmon caught in a net of a single mesh. The angel said to Bairre, ‘Not here shall be thy resurrection.’

After this Bairre crossed the river40 to Cell na Cluaine, and built a church there, and remained in it some time, till two pupils of Ruadan [of Lothra] came to him, Cormac and Buichin,41 who had asked of Ruadan a place for themselves. Ruadan said to them: ‘Go with my blessing, and the place where its tongue shall strike your bell, and in which the strap of your book-wallet shall break, there will be your resurrection.’

When they came to Bairre to Cel na Cluaine all these things befell them according to the word of Ruadan. They were much cast down thereat, for they did not think that the church would be given up to them. Bairre said to them: ‘Be not sad nor downcast; I give this church and all its treasures to you and to God.’ So then Bairre built twelve churches before he came to Cork, and gave them all up out of humility and the greatness of his charity.

{folio 125b}Afterwards the angel guided Bairre from Cell na Cluaine to the place where Cork stands to-day, and said to him: ‘Abide here, for here shall be thy haven of resurrection.’ Bairre then kept a fast of three days in this place, when there came to him Aed son of Comgall of the Úi mic Ciair, seeking a cow that had wandered away to drop her calf; and he found her with the clerks.

Aed asked them: ‘What has brought you here?’ Bairre answered: ‘We are seeking a place in which we may pray God for ourselves, and for the man who shall give it to us.’ Aed said: ‘I give thee this place, and the cow which God has led to thee there.’ After this came Aed son of Miandach, and offered to Bairre Foithrib Aeda (Aed's Wood) in Magh Tuath, and42 his own service and that of his offspring. And Aed came afterwards, and offered himself and his offspring to Bairre in perpetuity.

After this the angel of God came to attend on him, and said to him: ‘Is it thy will to remain here?’ Said Bairre: ‘Yes, if it be God's will.’ The angel said: ‘If thou remain here, fewer will be the sons of life who will go to heaven hence. Go a little further to the place to the east of thee where there are many waters, and remain there by the counsel of the Lord, and many will be the sages and sons of life of that place (who will go) to heaven.’


The angel then went before him to the place appointed him by God; and the angel marked out the church and blessed it; and Bairre remained in it afterwards.

Bairre went after this to Rome43 to receive episcopal orders together with Eolang, and Maedoc of Ferns, and David of Cell Muine, and twelve monks with them. Now Gregory was successor of Peter at that time. So when Gregory lifted up his hand over Bairre's head to read (the service of) orders over him a flame came from heaven on to his hand, and Gregory said to Bairre, ‘Go home, and the Lord himself will read (the service of) episcopal orders over thee.’

And thus it was fulfilled; for Bairre came to his own church, and the Lord Himself read (the service of) episcopal orders over him at the {folio 126a} cross in front of the church, where his remains were afterwards buried; and oil flowed abundantly out of the earth there, so that it rose over his shoes, and over the shoes of the elders who were with him.44 Then Bairre with his elders blessed the church and the cemetery, and they said (that there would be) abundance of wisdom continually in Cork.

After this Bairre remained in Cork and had with him there a great school of saints; Fachtna occupied Cell Ria, Eltin son of Cobthach occupied Cell na h-Indsi; Fergus of Fennor occupied Fennor of the kings, Condire son of Fortchern occupied Tulach Ratha. Bishop Libair occupied Cell Ia; Bishop Sinell occupied Cluain Bruices. Fingin and Trian occupied Dcmnach Mor of Mitaine. Mocholmoc son of Grillen settled at Ross Ailithir, and Fachtna son of Mongach also. Bishop Colman occupied Cenn Eich; Bishops Muadan and Cairpre occupied Cell Muadain. All these offered their churches to God and to Bairre.45

Bishop Mac Cuirb said to Bairre: ‘If my body is the first to go under the ground here, and my soul goes [forthwith] to heaven, I will not allow any one who dies within the circuit of Cork46 to go to hell.’ And afterwards the corpse of Bishop Mac Cuirb was the first to go under the soil of Cork.

Bairre was much concerned at being without a confessor after the death of his elder. So he went afterwards to visit Eolang; and God revealed to Eolang that Bairre was coming to him. And he said to his (monastic) family: ‘Noble guests will come to us to-day, and you must wait upon them in respect of refection and bathing.’

Presently Bairre arrived, and Eolang's hospitaller met him, and


welcomed him, and said: ‘The elder is fain of your coming; let (your raiment) be taken from you, and bathe yourselves.’ Said Bairre: ‘We would first address the elder.’ The hospitaller went to confer with Eolang, and told him Bairre's answer. Eolang said: ‘Let Bairre bathe first, and we will converse afterwards. Let him go to his monastery however to-morrow, and I will come to him at the end of a week.’

And this was fulfilled; {folio 126b} for Eolang came to Cork at the end of a week, and knelt forthwith to Bairre, and said as follows: ‘I offer to thee my church, my body, and my soul.’ Then Bairre wept, and said: ‘This was not my thought, but that it would be I that would offer my church to thee.’ Eolang said: ‘Let it be as I say that it shall be; for this is the will of God. And thou art dear to God, and thou art greater than I. But I ask of thee a guerdon for my offering, that our resurrection may be in the same place.’ Said Bairre: ‘This shall be thine; but I am still troubled about the confessorship.’ Said Eolang: ‘Thou shalt receive to thyself a confessor worthy of thee at my hand to-day.’

And this was fulfilled; for Eolang placed Bairre's hand in the hand of the Lord Himself by Eolang's monument in the presence of angels and archangels; and he said: ‘O Lord, take to Thee this just man.’ And the Lord then took to Him the hand of Bairre (leading him) to heaven. But Eolang said: ‘O Lord, take not Bairre from me now, till the time of his release from the body come.’ The Lord then released the hand of Bairre. And from that day no one could look upon his hand because of its radiance; therefore he used to wear a glove on his hand continually.47

It occurred to Bairre to seek some additional relics for his cemetery. Then an angel came to converse with him, and said to him: ‘Go up to-morrow to the district of the Úi Crimthann,and there are relics of bishops there.’ Bairre went on the morrow to Disert Mor. And he saw there a company carrying to burial the relics which he had come to seek. ‘Well then,’ said Bairre to Fiama, son of Eogan, ‘what art thou doing there?’ ‘This,’ said Fiama, ‘an angel of God came to converse with me last night, and told me to go for these relics to the place in which they were; and so I have taken them therefrom.’

‘That is the business which has brought me from my house,’ said Bairre. ‘What shall be done in the matter then?’ said Fiama. ‘Unquestionably the relics shall be left to thee,’ said Bairre. ‘That is good,’ {folio 127a} said Fiama, ‘and thou shalt have guerdon therefor; this place shall be thine with its relics from now


till doom.’ ‘I accept,’ said Bairre, ‘the place will be good, and its coarb will be honourable in the earth.’ For this Fiama merited to administer the body of Christ to Bairre in the day of his death.

Too numerous to recount or narrate are the miracles and mighty works which God wrought for St. Bairre. For no one would be able to narrate them all, unless he himself or an angel of God should come to relate them. Still, this little of them may suffice as an illustration of his inner life and his daily conversation, his lowliness, his obedience, his compassion, his sweetness, his patience and gentleness, his love and pity and readiness to forgive, his fasting and abstinence, his earnest prayer, his patient waiting, and his mind continually intent on God. No one can tell it unless he himself should come or an angel of God to tell it.

For there were many excellences in this Bairre; he was a just man with transparency of nature like a patriarch; he was a true pilgrim like Abraham; he was compassionate, simple, and forgiving of heart like Moses; he was a laudable and choice psalmist like David; he was a treasury of wisdom and knowledge like Solomon son of David; he was a chosen vessel to proclaim righteousness, like Paul the apostle; he was a man full of the grace and favour of the Holy Spirit, like the youth John. He was a lion for strength and power; he was a king for dignity and distinction, to free and to enslave, to kill and to make alive, to bind and to loose. He was a serpent for cunning and wisdom in everything good; he was a dove in gentleness and simplicity [in the face of all evil].

He was a fair garden full of herbs of virtue. He was the crystal fountain whereby were washed away the sins of the people whom God entrusted to him to be bettered by the transparence of his teaching. He was also the heavenly cloud wherewith was fructified the ground of the Church, that is, the souls of the righteous with the drops of his peaceful and virtuous teaching. He was the golden lamp lighted by the Holy Spirit, from which flee darkness and sin in the house of the Lord, that is, in the Church. He was {folio 127b} the shining fire with heat to warm and kindle love in the hearts of the sons of life. He was, too, the ever-victorious bark which conveyed the hosts of many peoples across the storms of the world to the shore of the heavenly Church. He was the consecrated ensign of the heavenly King, that made peace and concord between God and man.

He was the high-steward and most noble overseer whom the High King of heaven sent to exact the tribute of virtues and good deeds from the clans of the Gael. He was the precious stone with which the heavenly palace was adorned. He was the crystal vessel wherewith was distributed the wine of the word of God to the many peoples who follow it. He was the rich prosperous


high husbandman of wisdom and knowledge who paid the righteous poor with the abundance of his teaching. He was a branch of the true vine, that is Christ, to satisfy and bring life to the world. He was the true leech who healed sicknesses and diseases of the body and soul of every believer in the Church. Many then were the excellences of St. Bairre, so that a man cannot recount them by reason of their number.

There are seven evident miracles here, which God granted to Bairre beyond all other saints, to wit, his speaking before his birth in the womb of his mother; his speaking clearly a second time immediately after his birth before the proper time; the offering made to him before his baptism; miracles done for him without his pleading for them; angels conducting him and accompanying him in every way that he went; Eolang placing his hand in the hand of God; and the sun (shining) twelve days after his death without being darkened by clouds; and a golden ladder in his church awaiting the holy souls (who were to mount) by it to heaven, as was seen therein by Fursa the ascetic.

When then the death day arrived of the man in whom were all these many excellences, to wit, St. Bairre, after he had healed the blind and the leper, the lame, the deaf and the dumb, and other sick folk of every kind, after founding many churches and {folio 128a} cells and monasteries for God, and after ordaining in them bishops, and priests, and people of every other grade, for unction, confirmation, consecration, and benediction of tribes and races, for baptism and communion, and confession, and instruction, and maintenance of the faith and belief in those districts continually, Bairre then went to Cell na Cluaine to visit Cormac and Baithine.

Fiama also came to meet him to Cell na Cluaine, and they blessed each other as holy brethren; and Bairre said to them: ‘It is time for me to be released from the prison of the body, and to go to the heavenly King who is calling me to Him now.’ After this Bairre took the sacrifice there from the hand of Fiama, and sent forth his spirit to heaven by the cross in the middle of Cell na Cluaine.

After this his monks and disciples and the synod of the churches of Desmond came to wake and honour the body of their master, St. Bairre, and bear it with them to the place of his resurrection, Cork.

This day—the day of St. Bairre's death—was prolonged to the elders. God did not allow the sun to go beneath the earth for twelve days afterwards, that is so long as the synods of the churches of Desmond were busied about the body of their master with hymns and psalms, and Masses and recitation of hours. Then the angels of


heaven came to meet his soul and carried it with them with honour and reverence to heaven, where he shines like the sun in the company of patriarchs and prophets, in the company of the apostles and disciples of Jesus, in the company of the nine heavenly orders who sinned not, in the company of the divinity and the humanity of the Son of God, in the company that is higher than any company, the company of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.48 Amen. It endeth.


The poor friar Michael O'Clery copied this life of Bairre at Cork in the convent of the brethren from a vellum book belonging to Domnall O Duinnín (Donald Dinneen) June 24, 1629.49 50


{folio }

The Life of Berach


Ego sitienti, etc., i. e. to him who desires righteousness I will give freely of the fount of living water. Qui uicerit, etc., i. e. to him who defeats (the enemy), to him shall these things be given. Et ero, etc., i. e. and I will be God to him. Et ille, etc., and he shall be a son to me. Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, the Lord of all creation, one of the three Persons of the Deity, the Mediator between the family of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the human race, it is He who said these words to show the great good which He bestows on His saints and righteous men, and on all those who bear great love to Him in the Church on earth.

And John the son of Zebedee, the heir of virginity, one of the twelve apostles whom Jesus chose to His apostleship, one of the four who wrote the gospel of the Lord, the man who sucked the fountain of true wisdom from the breast of the Saviour, he it was who wrote these words, and left the memorial of them with the Church to the end of the world, and says in this passage: Ego, etc. To him who desires righteousness, I will give freely of the fount of living water.

Now the context of these words is the passage in John contiguous to the place in which Jesus says in words which precede the text: Ego sum alpha, etc., i. e. I am the beginning of all creatures, and I am the end. So that (following) in the track of his Master Jesus (he says): Ego sitienti, etc. (repetition as above).

It is from this fount then, that is from Jesus Christ, who is the fount of true wisdom, that all the saints were filled with the grace of wisdom and prophecy, with mighty works and miracles, with powers unspeakable in driving away demons and heretics, in trampling down persecution and idolatry, and the children of perdition, as he was filled whose festival and commemoration fall at this time and season, namely the shining flame, the bright lamp, the brilliant sheen, the precious jewel, and the fruitful bough with shoots of virtues, Berach son of Nemhnall, son of Nemargen, son of Fintan, son of Mal, son of Dobtha, son of Aengus, son of Erc the Red, son of Brian, son of Eochaid Muigmedon. And Finmaith daughter of Carthach, sister of Fraech the Presbyter, was Berach's mother. And hereafter are related some of the mighty works and miracles of this same St. Berach.

Great then was the honour and distinction which God gave


to St. Berach, as was shown by the prophecy which Patrick prophesied when preaching to the men of Connaught, and baptizing them. Now Patrick chanced to come to the house of Dobtha the son of Aengus; and Dobtha gave great welcome to Patrick, as did his wife and children.

Then his wife told Dobtha to go and hunt. So Dobtha went a-hunting with his sons. And the Lord sent three stags and a wild pig to Dobtha and his sons forthwith. And they took them with them to their house where Patrick was with his clerks.

And when the day was ended, and the darkness of night came on, no lamp or candle could be found in the fort or dwelling of Dobtha by (the light of) which the game might be cut up and dressed. And Dobtha and his household were sad thereat. And then Patrick worked a great miracle; the sun shone back across the western colure, and gave light to the men of Erin; and so Dobtha and his household prepared the supper for the clerks; and the clerks and Dobtha with his household ate the supper, and gave thanks to God, and greatly praised the Lord, both clerks and laymen. And from this (the place) is still called Achad Gréine (the field of the sun).

Now when the cauldron was on the fire, and the sons of Dobtha were around the fire, then Dobtha arose to kindle the fire, and he set light to it forthwith. Then said Patrick to Dobtha: ‘There shall not be one headship of thy own seed over thy race till doom.’ ‘That is a pity, O clerk,’ said Benén, ‘for it is well that Dobtha did what he has done by way of service to us.’ Then said Patrick that every noble layman of his seed should be a head and chief by reason of his substance, and that it was because of the number of their good laymen that they would not be under a single head.

So on the morrow Patrick preached to Dobtha the Catholic faith from the Incarnation of the Son of God to His Resurrection. When the preaching was over, Dobtha said to Patrick: ‘Let me now be baptized, and my household.’ ‘Not so’, said Patrick. ‘Why so?’ said Dobtha. ‘A son who shall be born of the fourth man of the fruit of thy loins at the end of sixty years,’ said Patrick, ‘he it is who shall baptize thee, and all Erin and Alba shall be full of his fame, and of his mighty deeds and miracles. He will be a virulent serpent, a fearful terrible burning flash of lightning, he will be a wave of doom to slay, burn, and drown persecutors; he will be submissive, lowly, gentle, forgiving, loving to the household of the Lord; he will be a chosen golden vessel, full of wisdom and honour and purity, and of all virtues and good deeds.’

Although Dobtha was fain of this prophecy, he was sorrowful and murmured greatly against Patrick. Patrick said to Dobtha: ‘Murmuring shall follow thee till doom.’ Benén said to Patrick: ‘It was with good intent towards thee, that


Dobtha murmured.’ Patrick said: ‘If it be a warrior (layman) that the murmur helps (there shall be) pre-eminence of valour on him; if a woman, prosperity of storehouse; if a clerk, pre-eminence of learning and devotion. And moreover, Dobtha shall not depart this life till the child of promise have baptized him.’ Great was Dobtha's joy thereat, and it is from this murmur that the murmur of Berach's household (monastery) is derived to-day; and it is better and better that it turns out for them.

Patrick then left many good bequests to Dobtha and his descendants. He left to them in the near future pre-eminence of hospitality and prosperity on their women, pre-eminence of valour on their warriors, pre-eminence of hospitality and asceticism and learning on their clerks, pre-eminence of dutiful sons and daughters and foster-children, if only they would do the will of the child of promise; and he left (to them) that there would be distinguished laymen and clerics of their seed till doom.

Then said Dobtha to Patrick: ‘What services51 (or dues) leavest thou to this child?’ Patrick said: ‘A log from every fire about him on his fire; and a log from my fire on his fire’; that is Id the son of Aengus, for it was Patrick who baptized Id; and he left this to Berach as a beginning of services.52Then Patrick ordained that it should be in the meadow on the brink of the lake that the son of promise should build his city (monastery). And he ordered that its sanctuary ground should be all that lies between the bog and the lake, that is the plain with its wooded meadows and boggy oak-groves. And he left (as a bequest) that there should be prosperity in this city, and a living fire in it to the end of the world; and that this should be one of the three last fires that would remain in the west of the world (Ireland).

Then said Dobtha: ‘Difficult is the place of abode.’ Patrick said: ‘That which is difficult with men, is easy with God; and His care will accompany the child, and His saints will be united in protecting his city; and his city (monastery) will be the head of many cities; and whoever shall resist this child shall be deprived of heaven and earth, as shall be his children and his posterity, unless he repent speedily.’

Patrick bade farewell to Dobtha then, and left a blessing on him, and on his children, and on his posterity, and on his land, and on his ground, and on the child of promise above all, and with all, and after all. And he proceeded on his tour of preaching.

Dobtha then lived a life of distinction to the end of sixty years. He had a son named Mál, whose son was Fintan, whose son was Nemhnall. It was this Nemhnall who took to wife Finmaith, the daughter of Carthach. And she at the end of sixty years from


the prophecy, bore to Nemhnall this child of whom Patrick prophesied, namely St. Berach.

Now St. Berach was born in the house of his mother's brother, Fraech the Presbyter, son of Carthach, in Gort na Luachra (the Close of the Rushes), near Cluain Conmaicne. And in that place there is (now) a mother-church and a cross, and the stone on which St. Berach was born. And Presbyter Fraech subsequently offered this estate to Berach. Presbyter Fraech too it was who baptized St. Berach, and fostered him till he was old enough to study. Now Berach's baptismal name was Fintan, as the learned man said in the verse:

    1. Fintan a man pre-eminent, acute,
      Though he were proud at Cluain Coirpthe
      (Yet) he suffered, &c.
Berach (pointed, acute) however was the name he acquired by reason of his acuteness and the sharpness of his mighty works and miracles.

Finmaith moreover bore a daughter to Nemhnall, the holy, noble, and honourable virgin Midabair. She is the patron of Buimlinn (lit. she blessed at B.). And Berach was the one person in all the world who was dearest to Presbyter Fraech of all who ever received human nature, save Christ alone. And it was for this reason that Presbyter Fraech gave (him) the three blessings which Columcille had given to himself, on his dutiful sons, and nephews, and foster-children because of Berach.

When St. Berach had completed seven years, he was taken to Daigh mac Cairill to study; and he learned the wisdom of the Son of God, so that he became a sage, and the grace of God accompanied him day by day increasingly in mighty works and miracles. And he did service to his tutor Daigh son of Cairell.

On one occasion distinguished guests came to Daigh, and neither the monks nor the servants were in the monastery at the time, nor any one else but Daigh and Berach only. And Berach waited on the guests and washed their feet. And there were no provisions in the monastery except two measures of wheat. And Berach was bidden to go to the mill in Magh Muirthemne, to grind these two measures. And Berach proceeded to the mill on this service.

Then did the Lord perform very mighty works and miracles through Berach; that is to say, there was a certain woman at the mill, and a boy with her; and he was the son of a man of good family, of the Conaille Muirthemne, and the mill and the land on which it stood belonged to his father. And the woman had a bag of oats (being ground) in the mill, and Berach said to the woman: ‘Stop


the mill, and take away thy corn till this small amount be ground, for distinguished guests are waiting for us, and they have no food.’

But not only did the woman refuse to let Berach grind his corn, but reproached him grievously, and reproached (also) the elder from whom he came. Berach arose quickly and put his corn into the hopper of the mill, and the woman and Berach were working the mill together, for neither of them would give it up to the other. Then the divine powers separated the wheatmeal to one side of the mill, and the oatmeal to the other side.

Then the boy fell into the millpond and was drowned; and a sudden plague came upon the woman, and her soul and her body parted asunder. The other persons then that were at the mill arose, and the household of the woman and of the boy who had died came, and were for killing Berach. Then their feet and hands dried up and withered, and their strength was taken from them, so that no one of them was stronger than a woman in child-bed.

News of this reached the father of the boy, and he came and submitted unconditionally to Berach. He prostrated himself at his feet, and wept bitterly. Berach healed his household, and brought to life again the boy and the woman. Then the father of the child offered his mill to Berach and the place with it. So this is Raen Beraigh (Berach's Road) in Magh Muirthemne and the Mill Eilend. So the name of God and of St. Berach was magnified through these mighty deeds and miracles.

Afterwards Berach went to Inis Cáen, and his ground corn with him. And the guests and the monks and the poor were satisfied (therewith). The mighty deeds and miracles which Berach did were revealed to Daigh. Then said Daigh to Berach: ‘O Son, thou shalt not be nurtured here any longer for the multitude of thy miracles and mighty deeds; but go some other way.’ And Daigh gave to Berach the Bachall Gerr (short pastoral staff), and gave him a little bell, the last (lit. the remains) of a hundred and forty-seven relics; and Daigh left the graces of all these relics on the little bell, and this is Berach's bell (which is preserved) to this day in Glendalough. Daigh blessed Berach greatly and sent him to Coemgen.

Berach therefore proceeded across Magh Muirthemne into Crich Rois across the Boyne in Bregha. At that time a great feast was being prepared at the house of the king of Bregha for the king of Tara. Berach came to the place where the feast was, and went into the banqueting hall. There were fifty vats of beer in the banqueting hall, settling. Berach asked a drink of the steward of the liquor, and it was refused him. Berach said: ‘The feast would not have been the less, though a drink were given to one of the Lord's household.’

He went on his way, and forthwith the king of


Tara arrived at (the scene of) the feast. Straightway the king said: ‘Let a taste of the liquor be brought to us.’ They went into the hall where the vats were, and there was not found one drink for the king in the fifty vats, and no trace of the liquor was found in any of the vats, nor on the floor, nor in any vessel in the hall; and this was reported to the king. And the king asked who had touched it; and the steward of the liquor said that it was impossible (that any one could have done so); ‘but there did come to us into the hall a student with a little bell and staff, and asked for a drink in the name of the Lord, and it was refused him; and he went away in sadness.’

Said the king: ‘He it is who has ruined the feast. Take horses and go after him quickly, wheresoever he be overtaken. And let no violence be done to him, but let him be adjured by the name of the Lord, and he will come back.’ This was done, and Berach came back, and the king prostrated himself before him, and gave him his full desire; and Berach went to the banqueting hall and blessed the vats, and made the sign of the cross with the bell and staff over the vats, and they were filled forthwith with excellent liquor. The name of God and of St. Berach was magnified through this mighty work and miracle.

Then the king offered the place with its district and land to the Lord and to Berach; and this is Disert Beraigh (Berach's Hermitage) in Bregha. And he gave his own suit, and a suit from every king of Erin after him till doom every third year, and a scruple from every city of Clann Colmain every third year thenceforth till doom.

After this Berach proceeded into Leinster to Glendalough, and went into the guest-house; and his feet were washed there. At this time Coemgen's cook had died. Coemgen was troubled thereat, for he did not know who would be fit to superintend the monks' refection. And the angel said to him that he should entrust the task of preparing it night by night to the guests, till God should grant him some one suitable for it. And thus it was done by Coemgen; and that night the duty was entrusted to Berach. And Berach divided the refection in two, and prepared one-half that night; and the monks were much better served that night than any night in the year.

The next night the refection of the monks was entrusted to Berach to prepare. Then said Berach to the attendant: ‘Here is the half of last night's refection ready for the monks; take it with thee.’ And he did so. And though (the refection) was good the first night, it was better far the last night.

So on the morrow St. Berach was taken to Coemgen. Coemgen gave him welcome, and asked him whether he were willing to superintend the monks' refection. And Berach said that he would do anything which Coemgen


enjoined him. And he undertook to superintend the monks' refection. And Coemgen gave great thanks to the Lord for the good success which he gave to the monks' refection through the grace of Berach. So that it was of this that Coemgen said:
    1. Better than any refection is moderation,
      When one comes to eat;
      Better is pain than the abundance
      Which obtains eternal destruction.

At this time there were many legions of demons in Glendalough fighting against Coemgen and his monks, and they caused trembling and terror to weak men, and hurt them, and caused plagues and many sicknesses in the glen; and they could not be cast out till Berach came. Then Berach went round the city (monastery), and rang his bell, and sang maledictory psalms against the demons, and cast them out of the glen. And it was of this the poet sang:

    1. The little bell of Berach, lasting the treasure,
      Does battle against a perverse hundred;
      It was heard as far as Ferns of the hundreds;
      It chased demons from its sacred path.
And hence it is that the bell of Berach is carried daily round Glendalough and no power of demons, nor plague, nor punishment shall be there so long as Berach's bell shall be therein. And the name of God and of Berach was magnified through this mighty work.

Coemgen had a foster-child, Faelan son of Colman, a son of the king of Leinster; and the boy was crying to the clerk, that is to Coemgen, wanting milk; and this was a difficulty to Coemgen. And as he was speaking, Berach sained the mountain and said: ‘Let the doe with her fawn that is on the mountain come hither.’ And the doe came at once with her fawn following her; and she was milked every day for Faelan.

One day, however, there came a wolf, and killed the doe's fawn and ate it; and the doe did not give her milk without the fawn. Coemgen was troubled at this. So Berach sained the mountain, and said: ‘Let the animal who did the disservice, do service.’ Thereupon the wolf came and settled himself on his paws before the doe; and the doe licked the wolf, and gave her milk at (the sight of) him. And the wolf would come at every (milking) time; and the doe would be milked in his presence.

On one occasion in the winter Faelan was crying, and asking Coemgen for sorrel. This was a difficulty with Coemgen, and he consulted Berach about it. Berach sained a rock near the monastery on the top of the mountain, and abundance of sorrel grew up through it, and this was given to Faelan. And sorrel is still found


every winter on the top of the rock, and will be found till doom, as a sign of this great miracle.

On another occasion Berach and Faelan were passing a beautiful willow-tree which is in Glendalough. And Faelan cried, and asked for apples to be given him off the willow-tree. ‘God is able to do even that,’ said Berach; and he sained the willow-tree, and it produced a heavy crop of apples; and some of the apples were given to Faelan. And whenever the fruit trees bear fruit, there is still a heavy crop of fruit on the willow, and so it will be till doom, as a sign of this great miracle.

But when Cainech, the step-mother of Faelan, heard that Faelan was a child of special promise, she was seized with envy and jealousy of him; for she feared—what afterwards came about—that the kingdom would be conferred on Faelan to the exclusion of her own children. She came (therefore) with her band of witches (lit. women of power) to Glendalough, to ply druidism, and (magic) craft, and paganism, and diabolic science upon the boy to destroy him.

And an angel revealed this to Coemgen; and Coemgen bade Berach go and stop these devilish powers; and Berach went on this errand. And he saw Cainech on the summit of the mountain, worshipping the devil, and practising druidism. And Berach made prostrations and prayers, and said to Cainech and her band of women: ‘Get you under the earth.’ The earth forthwith swallowed up Cainech and her band of women; and therefore (the place) is called Cainech's Swamp in Glendalough. And on her head the dogs of the monastery void their excrement from that time forth till doom.

After this Berach came to where Coemgen was; and Coemgen asked him what had befallen him and Cainech. Then said Berach to Coemgen:

    1. Thou didst send Cainech, O glorious believing clerk,
      With her pernicious crew, down under the grassy (lit. hairy) earth.
So in this way Faelan was delivered, and Cainech was overcome by the grace of God and Berach and Coemgen.

One night the monks were in the refectory asking for hot water. Berach put a stone for every monk on the fire to heat the water; and he put on two extra stones. Coemgen asked the meaning of the (extra) stones. Berach said: ‘Two monks are on their way here (who are included) in this refection reckoning, and these two stones will be wanted to heat water for them.’ And the water was made hot, and a stone for each monk


was put into the water.

And the two (other) stones were burning in the fire. Coemgen said: ‘Take down the stones’; and Berach did not take them. A second time Coemgen ordered the stones to be taken out of the fire; and Berach did not take them. A third time Coemgen repeated the same thing. Thereupon came two monks from distant lands attracted by the fame of Coemgen (lit. to seek the fame of C.); and their feet were washed, and the hot water was given to them, and the two stones were put into it for them. And Coemgen admired Berach greatly for this.

Too many to number or relate are the mighty works and miracles which Berach did in Glendalough. Seven years did he serve Coemgen. Coemgen went with Berach to Bishop Etcen. And Bishop Etcen conferred orders upon Berach, and they made an agreement and covenant together, to wit, Bishop Etcen and Berach.

After this Coemgen and Berach proceeded to Glendalough. And every time that Berach attempted to go to his own land to fulfil the word of Patrick, Coemgen and his monks detained him. So an angel appeared to Coemgen one night, and said: ‘It is full time for Berach to go to his land to fulfil the word of Patrick.’ And Coemgen gave permission to Berach to go to his land; and they afterwards made a firm agreement, Berach and Coemgen. And Coemgen spoke this verse:

    1. The monks of Berach, welcome are they to me,
      Whether young or old;
      Though they come to me, men, women and children,
      I will not go to heaven till they come.

Berach left (as a legacy) good institutions in Glendalough. He left pre-eminence of learning and devotion therein; he left freedom from plague and punishment therein, as long as his own bell should be there; and he left the hospitality of the holder of a ploughland with the hospitaller there, on condition that he wash his hands from the (River) Casan. Hence the poet said:

    1. Berach the sweet-lipped left
      In the glen of the unbelieving monks
      Hospitality of a true lord of meat
      To the hospitaller (lit. man of warming) in the sacred glen;
    2. Whether they be foreigners, or buffoons, or jesters,
      Till the judgement come of the crashing din,
      He will not be without ample hospitality,
      If only he wash out of the Casan.

Then Coemgen put Berach's books on his chariot, and sained the mountain, and brought a stag (thence) to draw the chariot. And


Coemgen said that wherever the stag should lie down under the chariot, there Berach should build his monastery. And he said that whatever necessity should befall Berach, he would help him in enduring it. And he blessed him greatly.

Berach then proceeded to his land taking Maelmothlach with him as his servant, who was of the Ciannachta by race. And the stag was yoked to the chariot carrying the books. And the stag did not lie down under the chariot till it reached the place which Patrick foretold; and there the stag lay down. Berach said to Maelmothlach: ‘Here it was ordained for us to stop. Go and explore the meadow.’ Maelmothlach went on this errand, and explored the meadow.

Now on that day a great slaughter had taken place there; two royal princes had fought a battle there that day, to wit, Donnchad of Tara, and Tipraite son of Tadg, of Cruachan; and both had fallen in the middle of the fort which is in the meadow, with great slaughter about them. Tipraite was slain at once; the life was still in Donnchad, but he could not rise from the field of battle. When then Maelmothlach saw the slaughter, he was seized with a great terror; and he came hurriedly to the place where Berach was. Berach asked him: ‘What kind of meadow is it?’ ‘No pleasant meadow indeed,’ said Maelmothlach, ‘but all one meadow of corruption.’ ‘This shall be its name henceforth,’ said Berach, ‘the Meadow of Corruption’ (Cluain Coirpthe). And he told the story of the meadow from that time forth. Till then it bore the name of Cluain mac Lilcon (meadow of the sons of Liliuc).

Berach then went to the battlefield, and brought to life again all who had been slain in the battle. And he healed Donnchad; and hence it was that the poet said:

    1. Donnchad and Tipraite,
      And the great forces of them both,
      Fell in their great enclosure,
      In the very middle of the fort;
      Every mantle torn,53 every shirt red (with blood),
      Every wound inflicted,
      Unless the defence of the collars
      Were on their necks;
      A host of fair equipments would be smitten without shame

      Unless, &c.

Then Tipraite gave his service in life and death, and the service of his seed to Berach till doom, and commended his soul and


body to his protection, and gave them to him in the day of doom and after doom. And he related to Berach the great torment which he had seen in hell, and gave thanks to God for his delivery therefrom; and he said that never since Patrick had there come to Erin any one more wonderful or more humble than Berach. And he said: ‘Woe to the man who incurs the wrath of one who brings souls and sets them to live in their bodies again; for heaven and earth shall be taken from him and from his seed till doom and after doom, unless he do earnest penance.’ And they gave great praises to the Lord there, that is Berach with his clerks, and Donnchad and Tipraite with their numerous forces. And Donnchad and Tipraite parted there, and each of them went to his own land. And though their encounter had been eager, their parting was harmonious through the might of the Lord and the miracles of Berach.

After this Presbyter Fraech and Daigh son of Cairell came to Berach, and consecrated the monastery, and constructed it. And they said that whoever should persecute any one of them, all three of them would be his enemies, and so would the Lord be, and the company of heaven. Then said Presbyter Fraech: ‘This (monastery) shall be the western part of the meadow, and my church its eastern part.’ And these holy elders left their blessing with Berach, and each of them went to his own church.

Then Berach went to the place where Dobtha was living in a remarkable old age. And he preached to him and to his children, and the rest of his kin; and he baptized Dobtha with his children and his descendants, both men and women. And then was fulfilled the prophecy which Patrick foretold to Dobtha. So Berach returned to his monastery.

Now at this time there dwelt at Rathonn Diarmait the poet and his seven brethren (really, who was on of seven brethren), to wit, Diarmait, Tromra, Belech, Colum Derg (the Red), Cruinnicen, Brandub, and Duban, who was (afterwards) a clerk. They were of the Ciarraighe Luachra (or the Ciarraighe Connacht) by race. Now Diarmait was a goodly man, and head poet and chief master of druidism to Aedh son of Eochaid Tirmcarna, who was king of Connaught at that time. He it was who had given Rathonn to Diarmait in payment for a panegyric which he had composed for him.

And Berach told Diarmait to quit the land which Patrick had bequeathed to him (Berach); and Diarmait would not quit it. Much vexation therefore did Berach encounter, in contending for the possession of the land for the Lord's household, and for the young churchmen who should succeed him in the monastery in the service of God. So Berach


and Diarmait went to the king of Connaught, Aedh son of Eochaid, that he might decide between them. And Diarmait said to Aedh that if he adjudged the land to Berach, he would satirize him, so that three blisters would arise on his face, and that shame, blemish, and reproach would be upon it. Therefore Aedh would not decide between them, for he was afraid of being lampooned by Diarmait, and he was also afraid of Berach because of the multitude of his mighty deeds and miracles.

And Berach and Diarmait searched Erin through three times, and could not find in Erin any one to decide between them, for the same reasons. ‘Let us go to Alba’, said Diarmait. ‘By all means,’ said Berach. They proceeded therefore to Alba, to Aedan son of Gabran, king of Alba, that he might decide between them.

It happened that a great feast was being held at that time by Aedan and the chief men of Alba; and a great number of youths were engaged in sports on the lawn of the fort. Diarmait moreover was elaborately arrayed, and made a very fine figure; while Berach was adorning his soul, and not his body, and looked but meanly. And Diarmait hurried on before the clerk and said to the youths: ‘The impostor is coming; attack him with dung and cudgels and stones.’ The youths undertook to do so; and made a rush towards the clerk. The clerk looked at them. ‘May you be unable,’ said he, ‘to do what ye would attempt.’ Their feet clave to the earth, and their hands clave to the stocks and to the sticks which they held. And their form and visage changed, and God fixed them on that wise.

And Berach and Diarmait proceeded to the entrance of the fort. And great cold seized them at the entrance, and there were two great heaps or mounds of snow in front of the fort. ‘O impostor,’ said Diarmait, ‘if thou wert a true clerk, fire would be made of yon two mounds of snow, that we might warm ourselves thereat.’ ‘Let fire be made of them,’ said Berach, ‘arise and blow them.’ Diarmait went and blew the two mounds of snow, and they blazed up like dry wood, and Diarmait and Berach warmed themselves at them.

These mighty deeds and miracles were reported to Aedan; and Aedan said to his druids: ‘Find out who has done these mighty deeds and miracles.’ And the druids went on to their hurdles of rowan, and new beer was brought to them. Four was the number of the druids and the first one of them said:

    [Druid 1]

    1. Berach with unfailing triumphs,
      A mass of gold is his forefront;
      Erin, in her royal forts
      In her glorious sepulchres
      In her glorious sepulchres.


Said the second one of them:

    [Druid 2]

    1. There is no noble shining saint,
      Nor wondrous sacred virgin,
      Who could attain such wondrous deeds
      As Berach the ever triumphant
      From fair Badhgna.
Then said the third druid:

    [Druid 3]

    1. Berach, the son of Nemhnall,
      Son of Nemargen of the heroic strength;
      It is no landless man,
      (But) one weighty, strong, vigorous, generous,
      Against whom he puts forth his wrath.
Said the fourth druid:

    [Druid 4]

    1. His swiftness is revealed,
      His quickness turns away evil,
      The son55 of Oengus,
      Son of Erc the red.

And the druids said to Aedan: ‘Berach, a noble and honourable saint, has come from the lands of Erin, namely from Badhgna, from the regions of Connaught, and a poet with him, to seek of thee a decision concerning an estate. He it is who has done these mighty deeds and miracles; and they are in front of the fort.’ And he was brought into the fort forthwith; and Aedan gave Berach his whole desire, and prostrated himself before him. And Berach cured the youths.

And Aedan offered the fort to Berach; that is Eperpuill, a monastery of Berach's in Alba. And the king offered to Berach and to his convent after him his own royal suit, and that of every king after him, and dues from all Alba. And the youths offered their own service to Berach, and that of their offspring and seed till doom, and their districts and territories. And Aedan said that it was Aedh, son of Brenann, king of Tethba, and Aedh Dubh (the black), son of Fergna, king of Breifne who should decide between them in Erin.

And Berach and Diarmait returned to Erin. And they came to Aedh Dubh son of Suibhne, king of Ulster. Aedh Dubh received St. Berach with great joy, and showed great honour to them and he offered the fort in which he was to Berach. This is Cluain na Cranncha (Meadow of the Ploughgear) in Ulster, and there are numerous monks in it. Too many to relate here are the mighty works and miracles which Berach did therein.

Afterwards they went to Aedh Dubh son of Fergna, and to Aedh son of Brenann to decide between them. And they arranged an assembly for a fixed day; and the place


for the assembly was Lis Ard Abla (the High Fort of the Apple-Tree) in Magh Tethba. And Berach and Diarmait each went to his own territory the night before the assembly. And they held a preliminary assembly on the morrow at the thorn-tree that is in Tir Tromra (Tromra's land) at Rathonn. And Berach did not go to the preliminary assembly, but went direct to the assembly at Lis Ard Abla.

There was a great multitude in the assembly, Aedh Dubh son of Fergna, and the forces of Breifne with him; Aedh son of Brenann and the forces of Tethba with him. There were a great number of saints at the meeting, Daigh son of Cairell, and Presbyter Fraech, Mancan and Ciaran, Mael and Failbe Finn (the Fair) the pilgrim, Dachua, Samthann, and Arnáin, and many other saints.

Berach then did many mighty deeds and miracles in the assembly; and then Diarmait came to the assembly, and began reviling Berach, and said: ‘Thou impostor, there is not (here) the thorn-tree under which we held the assembly in Rathonn.’ Then said Berach: ‘God is able to bring it hither.’ And the divine power raised the thorn-tree aloft in the air with a cloud about it, and brought it so that it overhung the assembly. And Berach said to Diarmait: ‘Look aloft’; and Diarmait looked and saw the thorn-tree, and ceased reviling. Afterwards the thorn-tree was let down slowly to the earth, till it lighted on the mound on which Aedh son of Brenann was sitting, and stood on the mound as if it had grown out of the earth there.

And a deep flush came over Aedh son of Brenann. And the hosts were terrified at this, and glorified the Lord and Berach; and it was of this the poet said:

    1. Berach raised the thorn-tree (and bore it) in its course to the plain on which were the hosts, to the fair mound on which was Aedh son of Brenann of enduring fame.
      A blush came over noble Aedh at the gracious unsullied wonder, the countenance of the king of Tethba (with his) back to the ground, became all one red mass.

Hereupon an intense drowsiness came over Aedh Dubh son of Fergna, the king of Breifne. ‘O Samthann,’ (said he, ‘let me put) my head in thy bosom, O nun, that I may sleep.’ Samthann said to Aedh: ‘Go to Berach, and ask him to change thy complexion.’ Aedh went then to Berach, and said to him that he would perform all his desire, if he would change his complexion. ‘God is able (to do that),’ said Berach, ‘come and put thy head under my cowl, and sleep.’ Aedh put his head under Berach's cowl, and slept; and a shower of rain fell forthwith; and Aedh drew his head forth from the cowl, and he was the fairest of the warriors of the world. Then said one of his household: ‘Meseems he is Aedh Finn (the Fair) now, who was Aedh Dubh (the Black) a while ago.’ Berach said:


‘This shall be his name and the name of his seed till doom.’ So it is from this is named the Slicht Aeda Finn (progeny of Aedh Finn), of whom are the royal family of East Connaught. And Aedh Finn offered to Berach his own royal apparel and that of every king after him till doom, and a scruple from every city from his seed and offspring till doom.

And the hosts invoked the Trinity (praying) that the true God would give righteous judgement between Berach and Diarmait. Then an angel said above the hosts: ‘To Berach his inheritance from now till doom.’ Then said Aedh son of Brenann: ‘Ye hear that an angel has given the decision; his land to Berach till doom.’ Diarmait was wroth with Aedh son of Brenann for this, and (said he) ‘Meseems thou art saying this after him’ (i. e. at his dictation). And Diarmait opened his mouth to make an extempore lampoon on Aedh. Aedh said to Berach: ‘Under thy protection I place myself, O clerk, against the poet.’ Berach went up to Diarmait, and put his palm over his mouth, and said: ‘Neither satire nor panegyric shall cross these lips for ever, and I declare that this day year (lit. the namesake of this day at the end of a year) will be (the day) of thy death.’ And from that day forth he could make neither satire nor panegyric. So Aedh son of Brenann was delivered thereupon through the grace of Berach.

And Aedh offered his own royal apparel to Berach, and that of every king after him, and a scruple from every city from East Tethba and from his seed and offspring till doom. Then said Berach: ‘Let the thorn-tree return to its place.’ And the power of God raised the thorn-tree (and bore it) back to its place in Rathonn. And on this wise the assembly was dissolved.

Berach then went to his monastery. Diarmait went to Rathonn in great heaviness. On the morrow Berach went to the place where Diarmait was, and told him to leave the land. And he abandoned the land to Berach, and so did Cruinicen, and Dubán the clerk. Berach went to the place were Tromra was, and told him to leave the land. And Tromra said that he would never leave it. Berach said to Tromra: ‘Get thee under the earth.’ Straightway the earth swallowed up Tromra. Berach went to Belach and told him to leave the land. Belach said that he would never leave it. ‘Get thee under the earth in front of thee.’ Suddenly the earth swallowed up Belach. Berach went to Colum Derg (the Red), and told him to leave the land. And he would not. And Berach put Colum under the earth. Berach went on to Brandubh and told him to leave the land, and he would not. Brandubh too was put under the earth.

Diarmait went then to Baislec under the protection of Bishop Soichill, and remained there to the end of a year. On the day year Diarmait began to revile Berach, and said: ‘This is the day the


impostor promised me death.’ Bishop Soichill rebuked him: ‘Thinkest thou that there is not time (from now) to nightfall for death to come to thee? Go into the church, and shut thyself in.’ Diarmait went into the church and shut himself in.

Now a stag appeared to the folk of the western part of the land; and they pursued it, horse and foot, dog and man. The beast took the road to Baislec, and halted east of the church opposite a window; and all (the pursuers) set up a great shout at it. Diarmait got up hastily to see what was the matter, and came to the window and looked out. And one of the people who were pursuing the beast made a cast at it with his hunting spear; and the spear went through the window and hit Diarmait in the throat, and he fell on the floor of the church and died, according to the word of Berach, on the anniversary of the assembly. But the beast escaped unhurt.

Now when Cú-allaid (i. e. wolf) the son of Diarmait heard this, he went to overlook Rathonn and curse it, that no corn might grow from the land there, and that the cows might give no milk, nor the trees in its woods mast, as far as his eye could see. And he had nine robbers with him.

Berach happened to be at Dun Imgain in Magh na Fert (Plain of the Tombs), and Concennan with him. It was revealed to Berach that Cú-allaid was coming on this errand. And Berach sent Concennan after him; and said to him: ‘Challenge them first of all.’ Concennan then went in pursuit of the robbers, and overtook them on the chariot road; and he did not challenge them there, but discharged at them (the weapon) that was in his hand. And Cú-allaid turned his face and (the weapon) hit the arch of his forehead, and pierced his head, and he fell in the midst of his household. And he said: ‘Carry me up quickly to the summit of the mountain, that I may overlook the land of Berach, and curse it speedily from the summit of the mountain.’ And they carried him up to a bluff of the mountain, and Cú-allaid died there; and he could see nothing from it but a worthless oak grove, and that has been unfruitful ever since; and his company fled from him.

And Concennan went up to him and cut off his tress of hair, and carried it off as a trophy, and he was afraid of (meeting) the clerk, for he had not bidden him to slay a man. He cut a rod and arranged the tress upon it on the meadow after coming out of the wood. And hence (the place) is called Achad Cul-lebar (the Field of the Long Hair). Concennan then went to the place where Berach was. And the deed which he had done was revealed to Berach; and Berach was greatly displeased that a man should have been slain; and Concennan did penance. Moreover the company of Cú-allaid went astray till they happened on the place were Berach was, and they prostrated themselves before him and did penance, and gave their service to Berach,


and they are the Household of Cell Lallóg, and it was Berach who left them there.

One day the plough-team of Berach went mad (and bolted) from the monastery at Rathonn, and made for Cluain Coirpthe, and crossed the Shannon to Cluain Deoinsi, and Cluain Inchais, and Cluain Dártha, and thence to Ath na nDam (Ford of the Oxen). Ciáran Máel (the Bald) headed them there, and hence (the place) is called Ath na nDam; and they went back to Tuaim Usci (the Water Place) and crossed the Shannon westwards. And the monks were greatly concerned thereat. And Berach said that however far the oxen might scour (the country), they would complete their day('s journey) before night (lit. its night).

Meanwhile the oxen went through the desert to Eared Lara (the Mare's Ploughed field), and to Edargabail, and to Rath Ferchon (Fort of the Dog), and to Cluain in Buic Finn (Meadow of the White Buck), to Caill na nGlasán and to Lis Dúnabhra, and to Fan na mBachall (Slope of the Staves), and to Clar Lis mic Ciarain (Plain of the Fort of the Son of Ciaran) in Magh Ái, to Cluain Ingrec(h), and to Cluain Cái, and to Léna Ghlúin Áin, and into the mountain, and to Dubhcaill (the black wood), and to Rinn Daire Abréni, and into Tuaim Achad (Mound of the Field), and back into Rathonn, and they completed their day('s journey) before night. And their plough gear was on them and the iron (ploughshare) behind them all the time. And they ploughed in all these places, and every place in which they ploughed belongs to Berach. And from the spectre (scath) which appeared to the oxen on that day, (the place) Scathoch in Rathonn is named.

Once upon a time, after the defeat of the battle of Cuil Dremne, Columcille son of Feidlimid set out to (visit) Berach; for he had found no welcome with any saint whom he had visited up to that time. It happened that that evening was the eve of Sunday (i. e. Saturday evening). And the sacristan in Cluain Coirpthe rang the bell early (i. e. before the proper time). At that moment Columcille was crossing Magh Rathoinn, and sat down at the southern end of the causeway; and there is a cross and a parish church there. This was revealed to Berach, and he went to meet Columcille, and greeted him. Columcille greeted Berach, who welcomed him heartily, and said to him: ‘Let us go to the monastery now.’ ‘I will not go there on my feet to-night,’ said Columcille, ‘for the eve of Sunday has begun.’ ‘Then I will carry thee on my shoulders,’ said Berach. ‘Thou shalt not carry me forward to it to-night,’ said Columcille. ‘Then I will carry thee backwards’, (lit. with thy back before thee) said Berach. So then Berach carried Columcille on his shoulders, back to back, till they reached the refectory, and there he deposited



And the oxen of the plough team were killed for him that night, and Berach and Columcille made a covenant and compact, and Columcille left many good bequests in Cluain Coirpthe; he left heaven to its priest, and to its abbot (the promise) that he would be helped, if he pray three times at the cross of Columcille; he left (a promise) that association with himself in heaven should be granted to every monk of Berach who should come to him on pilgrimage. He left the gospel which he had written with his own hand in sign of the covenant between himself and Berach; and he left abundant blessing with Berach, and proceeded on his way.

Once upon a time great scarcity came to Erin. At that time Laegachan was in his island on Loch Laegachan, and had no provisions. He went then with his kernes to seek for food, and left his wife, who was pregnant, on the island with a single woman in her company; and he told her, if she should bear a child after his departure, to kill it, as they had no means of rearing it. And the woman bore a male child afterwards, and the woman who was with her asked her what was to be done with the boy. And she said: ‘Kill it.’ The other woman said: ‘It is better to take it to the clerk of the church here to the west, to be baptized, and let his service be offered to him in return for his maintenance.’

This plan was agreed upon by them, and the child was taken to Berach, and he baptized it, and the name given to it was Ineirge, and its service in life and death, and the service of its seed and offspring till doom was offered to Berach in return for its nurture. And Berach said: ‘Let the child be taken to its mother, and assistance of food and means will come to them.’ The child was taken to its mother as the clerk said.

As the women were there they heard a noise in the house56 (?). The woman went to see, but could not perceive anything there. [The same thing happened a second time.]57 A third time they heard the noise, and a third time the woman went to see, and there was a great salmon there, and an otter dragging it to land. And the woman went and dragged the salmon to land, and could not carry it for its size. And she called the other woman, and the two of them with difficulty carried the salmon, and they dressed it, and ate their fill, and the breasts of the mother of the child were filled with milk forthwith, and thus the child was saved.

Laegachan meanwhile went afar, and came to a place where all the folk had died, and the cows and all the cattle of the place were there, and they came with him to his land; and he sent some one on


ahead to find out whether his wife had borne a child, and, if so, whether it had been killed. And he found the child alive, and he went to the place where Laegachan was and told him. And Laegachan was fain of the news, and went to his island; and he asked how the child came to be alive; and the mother told how that it was Berach who had supported it; and that its service had been offered to him. And Laegach[an] went to Berach and offered his whole will to him, and confirmed to Berach the service of his child till doom.

Once upon a time the Úi Briuin of the Shannon, and Cucathfaid their king came to raid the inferior clans that were under the protection of Berach. And they set out to accomplish their raid. Berach was at Cluain Coirpthe at the time, and this was revealed to him; and he set out in the direction of the army, and met them at Bun Sruthra. Berach had the little gray (bell) in his hand, and he told Cucathfaid and the army to stop where they were; and they did not stop, but went past him in contempt of him, till the battalions reached the bog to the south of Bun Sruthra. Berach gazed at them from where he was; and struck his bell against them. The bog swallowed them up at once, with their king, and he made a lake of the bog forthwith; and that army may still be seen (beneath the water going) on the king's errand, and their spears on their backs.

Dicholla then and Toranach went from where they were after the army and Berach met them. ‘Stay by me,’ said Berach to Dicholla. ‘I will,’ said Dicholla; and he told Toranach to stay by him, and he did so. Then they heard a great cry of the army being swallowed up by the bog, and the lake coming over them. And they asked what had befallen them; and Berach told them what had befallen them (the army). And great fear came upon them straightway, and they prostrated themselves before Berach; and Berach said to Dicholla: ‘The lordship which Cucathfaid had shall belong to thee and to thy seed to the end of the world.’ And he gave his blessing to Dicholla and to Toranach, and to the few who were with them.

Hereupon a scholar58 who had escaped from the army came to them, and said to Berach: ‘I (put myself) under thy protection, O Clerk.’ Berach looked at him and was about to strike his bell against him, and to put him under the earth; and Dicholla and Toranach adjured Berach by the name of God, not to destroy the scholar; and said: ‘We have but few men now, and we have need of him.’ And Berach destroyed him not. The man did penance, and gave Berach all he willed. Berach left to him (as his destiny)


that he (i. e. his seed) should not exceed nine, and that the king's bedfellow should be (chosen) from them, if only they were obedient to him. Then Dicholla and Toranach offered their service to Berach, and he did not accept it. Then they ordained that the royal suit of their king and a scruple for every city, and for every dutiful son, and for every nephew, and every foster-child, should be given every third year. And they were freed thus.

On one occasion when Berach was in Cluain Coirpthe, he sent a monk on an errand to Rathonn, Sillen by name. Nine robbers fell in with him, who had come from the East of Tethba to ravage in Connaught, and they killed the monk, and went between his head and his body. This was revealed to Berach, and he proceeded quickly to seek them, and found them (standing) over the corpse. When the robbers saw Berach, they resolved forthwith to kill him, and seized their spears with that intent. Their hands stuck to their spears, and their spears stuck to the rock near them, and the marks of their butt-ends will remain on it till doom.

They did penance, and said to Berach: ‘Do not deprive us of heaven, and we will do all thy will, O Clerk.’ Berach then spared them, and said to them: ‘Fit the head to the trunk’; and they did so. And Berach took a rush from a rushy pool on the bank hard by, and made a prayer over it, and fitted it round the throat of the corpse, and he arose forthwith; and hence (these rushes) are (called) ‘Berach's rushes’ till doom. And Berach left great grace upon them, and (as a doom) to the robbers that their seed should never exceed nine, and that there should always be a servitor of them in Cluain Coirpthe, and that as long as there should be one, there should only be one man of them in succession to another. And this is what is still fulfilled, and will be fulfilled till doom. And a servitor went with Berach, and thus they parted.

On another occasion Colman Cáel (the Lean) of Cluain Ingrech determined to go to Rome; he was a pupil of Berach, and it was Berach who appointed him to Cluain Ingrech. He went therefore to his tutor and master Berach. Berach tried to stop him from going, and could not. Colman Cáel set out, and Berach went a little way with him on the road. They met with Ciaran Máel (the Bald) at the end of the lawn. And he and Berach tried once more to stop Colman Cáel from going. And Colman Cáel said that he would not rest till he should see Rome with his eyes. Berach sained the air, and made the sign of the cross over Colman's eyes; and they three, Berach and Colman Cáel, and Ciaran Máel, saw Rome, and praised the Lord in that place, and erected a cross and a mother church there to Berach, and to Ciaran Máel, and to Colman Cáel. And


another cross was erected there to Paul and to Peter. And the visiting of those crosses is the same to any one as if he should go an equal distance of the road to Rome. And (Berach) stopped Colman Cáel there.

However, not till the sand of the sea be numbered, and the stars of the heaven, and the grass and all the herbs that grow out of the earth, and the dew which grows or lingers on the grass and on the herbs, will all the mighty deeds of St. Berach be numbered. A righteous man was this man. He was all purity of nature like a patriarch; a true pilgrim in heart and soul like Abraham; gentle and forgiving like Moses; a psalmist worthy to be praised like David; a moon (or treasury) of knowledge and wisdom like Solomon; a chosen vessel to proclaim righteousness like Paul the apostle; a man full of grace and favour of the Holy Spirit, like John the youth; a fair garden with plants of virtue, a branch of a fruitful vine; a shining fire all aglow to cherish and warm the sons of life in kindling and inflaming love. A lion for might and power; a dove for gentleness and simplicity, a serpent for prudence and ingenuity for good; gentle, humble, merciful, lowly towards sons of life; dark and pitiless towards sons of death; an industrious and obedient slave to Christ; a king for dignity and power to bind and loose, to free and to enslave, to kill and make alive.

So then after these great miracles, after raising the dead, after healing lepers and blind and lame, and every other plague, after ordaining bishops, and priests, and deacons, and people of every other order in the Church, after teaching and baptizing many, after founding churches and monasteries, after overcoming the arts of idols and of druidism, the day of St. Berach's death and of his going to heaven drew near. And before he went thither there appeared an angel to him, and said to him, that the Lord had great care for him, and for his monks and for his monastery; and said that whoever should ask a righteous perfect petition of him, it should be granted to him; and revealed to him the day of his going to heaven.

Now Berach spent his life in fastings and prayer and almsgivings in the presence of the Lord. He received communion and sacrifice from the hand of Talmach [and commended] to him his inheritance and the headship of his monastery and of his young ecclesiastics. He sent his spirit to heaven, and his body was buried in the dark house (i. e. grave) with great honour and reverence, and with miracles and mighty works in this world; but greater far will be (his honour) in the (great) Assize, when he will shine like the sun in heaven in the presence of the apostles and disciples of Jesus, in the presence of the Divinity and Humanity of the Son of God, in the presence of the sublime Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I pray the mercy of the Son of God Almighty through the intercession of St. Berach whose festival and commemoration are (observed) in


many noble churches to-day, that we may attain, that we may merit, that we may inherit the kingdom in secula seculorum. Amen.


(COLOPHON) This was copied from a bad old vellum book, belonging to the children of Brian59 O'Mulconry the younger. In the convent of the friars on the Drowes on Feb. 6, 1629 the poor friar Michael O'Clery wrote it.



{folio 222}

The Life of Old Ciaran of Saighir

There was a notable man in Ossory, of the Dal Birn, Lugna by name. He went on a circuit in the southern part of Ireland, in Corco Laigde to be precise, and took there a wife worthy of him, named Liadain. This woman saw a vision. It seemed to her that a star came from heaven, and entered her mouth, so that it enlightened all the men of Erin. She arose the next morning, and related all that she had seen; and this was the interpretation put upon it, that she would give birth to an eminent child, of whose mighty deeds and miracles all the West of the world would be full.

That proved true; the child was born, to wit Ciaran, and was fostered in Clear. And the grace of God was manifest upon him in many miracles and mighty deeds; and he was thirty years in that place, studying and praying diligently, though he had received neither baptism nor benediction, but only what he received of them (direct) from heaven. This was not surprising, for there was neither baptism nor belief in this island at that time. So Ciaran set out to go on a journey to Rome of Latium, for it had been revealed to him from heaven that it was there he should read his psalms, and receive episcopal orders, for that (city) was the head of the faith.

When he came {folio 223} to Rome, he was baptized on his arrival, and read the scripture and the divine canon under the abbot of Rome, and was engaged in this study thirty years, till it was commanded him to go to his own land, for it was there it was ordained that he should abide, and that his mighty deeds and prayers should be famed throughout the whole world.

Ciaran went thence to Italy, and there on the way Patrick met him, and they greeted one another. And Patrick told him to go to his own land, and that a monastery would be built in the middle of the island, and that he would find an Úarán (little cold spring) there. ‘And stay by it, and I will meet thee (there) after thirty years.’ ‘I do not know the way to it,’ said Ciaran, ‘for I know not this Úarán at which I should abide, from any other.’ ‘Thou shalt take my bell,’ said he, ‘and it will be dumb till it reaches the Úarán, and it will ring when it reaches it, and Bardan Ciarain will be the name of it (the bell) till doom, and mighty deeds and miracles will be done by you (i. e. Ciaran and the bell) together, and Saighir will be the name of the place.’

They bade farewell to one another to wit Patrick and Ciaran, and Ciaran did as he was told, till he came


to the famous Úarán which is in Eile {folio 224} of Munster; and his bell rang there as was promised. And he marked out his monastery thereafter.

God did many mighty works there for Ciaran. When he began to dig the cemetery all by himself, he saw a wild boar coming towards him, which began to cut and root, and with this rooting it cut down the whole wood, and turned up the ground, and levelled it. Afterwards he made a hut in which to stay while engaged on that great work, the wild animal cutting and dragging the timber for him till it was finished. God gave additional monks to Ciaran, and he saw coming to them a wolf with a badger and a fox in his train, and they remained with him doing him duty and service.

Thus they remained for a long time in this service, till it befell that the fox's native character came uppermost in his mind, and he stole Ciaran's shoes and fled to his earth (lit. cave house). As soon as Ciaran missed them, he said to the other monks, to the wolf and to the badger: ‘It is no fit practice for a monk,’ {folio 225} said he, ‘to plunder and steal; and go,’ said he to the badger, ‘and bring him with thee willingly or by force, that he may be reprimanded for it.’

Then the badger set out and overtook the fox, and he bound him from his ear to his tail, and brought him with him by force. Ciaran said to him: ‘Fast, and do penance, for such ill conduct is no fit practice for a monk, and be sensible, and if thou hast any longings, God will give to thee as thou shalt desire.’ He did as Ciaran bade, and remained under the same service (as before), so that the name of God and of Ciaran was magnified thereby.

After that, when the fame and repute of Ciaran were heard of, his relations gathered to him from every quarter; and his mother came to him, and brought many virgins with her to serve God and Ciaran. And he raised a royal monastery and a choice temple to God, and gave frequent instruction in the words of God to the neighbouring districts, and to his own fatherland, Ossory; and great multitudes of men believed on God through the instruction of Ciaran.

It then befell that Patrick came to sow the faith among the men {folio 226} of Ireland, and to baptize them, having been commanded so to do by Jesus on Mount Sinai when the Bachall Ísa (staff of Jesus) was given to him; and He (Jesus) approved and bound whatever Patrick should bind in this island. For before Patrick there were none to maintain faith and belief in Erin but Ciaran, and Ailbe, and Declan, and Bishop Iubar. All things were accomplished by Patrick as Jesus bade him; and he rescued the men of Erin from the hands of demons, and from the worship of idols.

Now Liadain, the mother of Ciaran, had a favourite fosterling, named Bruinech, and there was not in the world a woman more


beautiful or more virtuous. She was a daughter of one of the kings of Munster, and she had dedicated her virginity to God, and went to Ciaran with Liadain. One day the king of Cinel Fiachach61, named Dima, came to Ciaran, and saw the beauteous maiden, and was bewitched at the sight of her, and carried her off against her will without Ciaran's knowledge, and forced her afterwards.

This thing was a heavy grief to Ciaran, and he went to seek the maiden to the house of Dima; and Dima said to him: ‘Thou shalt not take the maiden,’ said he, ‘till thy {folio 227} Lord commands me.’ ‘God is able to do that,’ said Ciaran. They had not been long there, when a voice above them said: ‘Release the maiden.’ He released the maiden (to go) with Ciaran after that, and she was pregnant. Ciaran then made the sign of the Divine Cross over her, and it (the foetus) vanished immediately without being perceived.

Some time after this, it came into the mind, of Dima to go to seek the maiden again, for he could not endure to be without her. When the maiden saw the king coming towards her, she felt sure that he had come to carry her off whether willingly or by force, and she died forthwith. When Dima saw the death of the maiden, his limbs shook, and his mind was bewildered, and he said to Ciaran thereupon: ‘Thou hast killed my wife,’ said he, ‘and it shall be avenged on thee; and thou shalt be swept off the place where thou art, and it shall not be thine any longer.’ ‘Thou hast no power herein,’ said Ciaran, ‘the God of heaven is between us; my weal or woe is not in thy power.’

Hereupon at this answer a son of the king's died; and the child's nurse came into the presence of Ciaran, lamenting bitterly, and the woman {folio 228} said: ‘I offer that child and myself in service to thee,’ said she, ‘if thou help him at this time, for it is thou who didst slay him.’ Thereupon lightning struck the king's mansion, and it was burned, both men and cattle, and another son of the king was burned, viz. Duncad son of Dima.

When the king heard this, he went to Ciaran, and prostrated himself cross-wise before him with great contrition and deep sorrow, and implored him for help and forgiveness. Ciaran granted his request, and raised his two sons after death and burning so that they were whole. When Ciaran saw that the maiden was dead, he raised her from death in the same way, for he felt sure that the king would not again carry her off in his despite. The name of God and of Ciaran was glorified by these miracles.

Once upon a time Ciaran's cook came to him, and said: ‘We have no pigs, and we shall need them to feed our monks.’ ‘God


is able to effect that,’ said Ciaran. It was not long before they saw twelve pigs coming towards them. They remained with them, {folio 229} and many herds were bred from them.

Another time the same cook came to Ciaran, and said to him: ‘We are in need of sheep; and we shall have to buy them, if they cannot be got (otherwise).’ ‘It is not more difficult with God,’ said Ciaran, ‘(to provide sheep) than pigs.’ And that proved true; they see a flock of white sheep in the plain. And they were scarcely able to tend their progeny (i. e. they became so numerous).

On one occasion there came an honourable man named Fintan who lived near Ciaran, bringing his dead son with him, named Laeghaire, for Ciaran to raise. Ciaran prayed to God for help, and made earnest prayer with cross-vigil for him to God. The son arose from death at Ciaran's word, and the name of God and Ciaran was magnified thereby. And he (the father) gave all his wealth and riches to God and to Ciaran; and further gave the spot on which he was, with its territory, to God and Ciaran in perpetuity. Raith Fera is the name of it.

It was at this time then that Patrick came to Cashel to meet the king of Munster, Aengus son of Nadfraech, and Ciaran went to join them there; and Aengus and the nobles of Munster {folio 230} submitted to Patrick's baptism. There was a man of the Úi Duach of Ossory at that meeting, Erc by name, who stole the horse on which Patrick rode.

The man was bound (and taken) to the king.; and Ciaran went to beg him of the king. He could not obtain him without payment (were made) for him. Ciaran gave a weight of gold for him; for the Ossory man was a favourite of his. The criminal was given to him. The gold melted away afterwards and vanished. The king was angry thereat and said: ‘Why hast thou given thy phantom gold to me?’ said he, ‘and it was a shameful thing for thee to do,’ and he threatened him severely. ‘All the whole world is naught but a phantom and a vanishing,’ said Ciaran. And he was furious with the king thereupon, and proceeded to curse and punish him, so that the king was blinded, and nearly died.

Then Mochuda came to beg Ciaran to arrest the punishment, and (promised) that the king would submit to him. He helped the king afterwards, (and it was) as if he rose from the dead. For every one thought that he {folio 231} had (actually) died. And he gave innumerable treasures to Ciaran, and himself swore to do his will. And the name of God and of Ciaran was magnified through this miracle.

Once when the king of Munster, Aengus, was on a royal progress through Munster, he had minstrels and players with him. Some of them went on a circuit in Muscraige Tire. Enemies


attacked them for the sake of plunder, and the minstrels were slain, and hidden in a lough near by. There was a tree by the lough; and they were fastened to the tree together with their harps, after they had been stripped, for they (the robbers) did not wish that they should be discovered.

The king missed his minstrels sorely. He sent messengers to seek them, but no trace was found of them, whether alive or dead. The king went to Ciaran to inquire what had befallen his minstrels, for he was sure that he (Ciaran) was a prophet in heaven and earth. And Ciaran revealed to him all that he asked of him. And Ciaran went before the king to the lough, and prayed earnestly with cross-vigil to God, and the lough subsided, and it was plain to every one how {folio 232} they were fastened together to the tree, as we said before.

Ciaran bade them arise out of the lough, and they arose as it were from sleep, with their harps in their hands, after having been a month under the lough. So that Loch na Cruitirigh (Harpers' Lough) is its name still. And the name of God, &c.

Another time the king went on the same circuit. A chief of his following went and lighted on Ciaran's pigs. They killed one of the pigs. The hue and cry was raised against them, and eleven men of them were slain, including the chief. The king and Mochuda went to Ciaran, and bade him come with them to the slain soldiers, to carry them to Ciaran himself (i. e. to his church) to be buried.

They go to them, and they had not enough men to carry them. Ciaran said (to the slain men): ‘Arise, and accompany your king, in the name of God,’ said he. They arose at once from the dead at Ciaran's word, and the pig with them also alive, and they gave their service to him as long as they lived. And the name of God, &c.

{folio 233}

Ciaran went one day through a neighbouring wood, and saw a tall brake, with blackberries on it. He put a wisp of rushes on the bush, that it might remain in every season, whenever he might seek for them (the berries). It happened then that the king of Munster came on progress to the house of Concraid, son of Dui, king of Ossory. And the queen (of Munster), Eithne Uathach (the horrible), set her love upon him, for there was no man more comely than this Concraid; and Eithne whispered to him her desire.

Concraid consented not to this, for he had no wish to incur guilt in respect of the queen. So this is what Eithne did; she simulated decline and sickness, so that (as she alleged) she could not move. This was reported to Concraid, and he went to Eithne, and asked what would do her good. She said that nothing would be any good to her, unless blackberries could be got, for on them her desire was set, and they would be medicine and herbs of healing to her



Concraid went to Ciaran, and told him what Eithne had said to him. They went together to the blackberries {folio 234} spoken of above, and took them to Eithne, and she ate some of them, and they had the scent of wine and the taste of honey. And she was healed of all the love and all the sickness that she had. And it was little Easter (Lowtide) at that time.

Eithne afterwards went to Ciaran and gave thanks to God and to Ciaran for her deliverance from the lust which had assailed her, and she confessed to him, and begged him to free her from every danger which might threaten her. Ciaran said: ‘I cannot free thee from the death which awaits thee; for a battle will be fought between the men of Munster and Leinster, and thou wilt fall there, and thy daughter and the king of Munster; and thou shalt receive the kingdom of heaven afterwards.’ And all that Ciaran said was fulfilled; for Aengus son of Nadfraech fell in the battle of Cell Osnad by the Leinstermen, as Ciaran foretold.

Another time there was an assembly of the Munstermen and Leinstermen in Ciaran's neighbourhood, to meet Patrick who was coming to baptize and instruct them in the word of God. There was no means of feeding them that night after the preaching, and Ciaran remained to satisfy them {folio 235} in the name of God and Patrick.

Ciaran bade his cook to minister to them. The cook said that it was impossible that they should be ministered to: ‘for night is at hand, and I have only seven oxen, and that is not support for every hundredth man of them there.’ ‘Boil the seven oxen,’ said Ciaran, ‘for it was no easier for Jesus to satisfy the five thousand with the five loaves and two fishes, than to satisfy us with those seven oxen.’ That proved true; he satisfied all that were there, and each thought his own supper abundant. And he blessed the fountain afterwards, and it had the taste of wine or honey for every one who drank of it, so that the hosts were drunk as well as filled. So that the name of God, &c.

On one occasion the king of Tara came on a hosting into Munster, and the Munstermen assembled against him, so that they faced each other in northern Eile. Ciaran besought God for help; and there arose a huge {folio 236} wood between them, and a river in high flood, named Brosna, and it remains there still.

So the armies separated; the men of Tara going to their homes, and the Munstermen remaining where they were for the night with Ailill king of Cashel. Ciaran sent a cow and a pig to them, and blessed them, so that they sufficed to satisfy the hosts, and with what was left (there was enough) for every man on the following day. So the name of God, &c.

It was a custom with Ciaran for all his monks throughout


all the diocese that belonged to them, to come to receive the Communion at the hands of Ciaran every Christmas Day. He had a foster-mother named Cuinche, who lived at Ross Banagher in Southern Leinster (read: Munster). She was a devout widow. Ciaran, after celebrating the Mass of the Nativity at Saighir, used to go to her to Ross Banagher, and she would receive the Communion at his hands on the morrow, and he would be at Mass at Sáighir the same day, though there was a great distance between them.

And he would go to pray together with Cuinche on a flood-surrounded rock, which was in the sea amid the waves to the south of Ross Banagher, {folio 237} and it is still called Cuinche's rock. And he would return to Saighir the same day; and it is not known how he did it, unless it were angelic overshadowing from the Trinity which speeded him.

Now there was an honourable lady in Ciaran's neighbourhood, called Eichill. She fell against a rock so that every bone of her was dislocated. This was lamented to Ciaran. He went to her, and said: ‘Arise,’ said he, ‘in the name of the Trinity.’ And the woman arose from death at once at the word of Ciaran, and gave thanks to God and to Ciaran, and gave land to him, to wit, Leim Eichille (Eichill's leap).

A certain thief came westwards over Slieve Bloom, and stole a cow from Ciaran. Mist and unspeakable darkness rose against him, and a river in strong flood, so that he was drowned, and the cow returned to Ciaran again.

Now there were three stewards of the king of Erin, collecting his dues in every place. It happened that one of them killed a friend of Ciaran without any guilt on his part, but (out of) mere tyranny of his lord. Cronan was the name of the youth. The news of this reached Ciaran, and he went in search of the youth, and found him at the end of seven {folio 238} days from his death. And he awoke him at once by prayer to God for him. And Ciaran said to the king of Eile: ‘Arrest that criminal, and burn him afterwards in revenge for the evil which he did without cause.’ And he did so.

After this the king of Erin, Ailill Molt, was wroth with Ciaran for the death of his servant, and reviled him with words. In punishment for this God caused a strangling of his speech, so that he was seven days without speaking. Then the king went to Ciaran and prostrated himself in cross-vigil before him, and granted him his full will. Ciaran made the sign of the Cross over his mouth, and he spoke afterwards as he had done before, and they separated afterwards in peace and amity, to wit, the king and Ciaran.

Bishop Germanus went from Patrick on a visit to


Ciaran. They go together into the stream to perform their devotions, according to Ciaran's wont. Germanus could not endure the water by reason of its icy coldness. Ciaran noticed this in him, and made a cross with his bachall on the stream, so that it seemed hot to Germanus after that.

Then said Ciaran: ‘The son of the king of Cashel, Carthach, will come to us to-morrow, and he is a faithful foster-child of mine; {folio 239} and catch,’ said he, ‘the salmon which is passing by you.’ Germanus did as Ciaran bade him, so that he had a salmon in readiness for Carthach on the morrow. Carthach came as Ciaran foretold, and he confessed to him, and took him as his soul-friend, and departed afterwards with his blessing, after completing his tour, and fulfilling his penance.

There was a cruel king in the neighbourhood of Clonmacnois. He gave all his treasures to Ciaran of Cluain to keep. Ciaran distributed them to God's poor and to churches of the Saints. The king sent to demand them, and did not get them. He blamed Ciaran therefor, and imprisoned him, and said that he would not accept (any ransom) for him except sixty white cows with red ears. ‘God is able,’ said Ciaran, ‘to do that. Loose my chains, that I may go in quest of them.’ His chains were removed, and he went to Ciaran of Saighir.

He found Brendan there on his arrival. They were greatly pleased and delighted at seeing Ciaran of Cluain. Ciaran of Saighir asked {folio 240} his cook what provision he had for those high saints. ‘I have nothing,’ said the cook, ‘except bacon, and it is greasy.’ ‘Let it be prepared quickly,’ said Ciaran, ‘and taken into the refectory,’ This was done. Ciaran blessed it, and produced for them honey, wine, oil, and pottage. A certain monk said that he would not eat aught of them, because they had been made of the bacon. Ciaran answered: ‘Thou wilt desert thy habit,’ said he, ‘and thou wilt eat meat in Lent, and do every kind of evil, and thou shalt not have heaven at last.’

They ate their supper, and gave thanks afterwards, and Ciaran of Cluain said: ‘Let there be abundance of riches and prosperity in this place till doom.’ ‘Let there be grace of learning and devotion on thy place continually,’ said Ciaran of Saighir. Ciaran of Cluain told his errand. ‘Let us go in quest of them,’ said Ciaran of Saighir and Brendan.

They set out, and they had not been going long, when God sent (the kine) to them. And Ciaran of Cluain offered them to the king in place of his treasure. And after they had been given to the king, they all melted away {folio 241} and vanished. When the king saw that, he prostrated himself before Ciaran, and prayed God to forgive him this fault; and he remitted all his treasure to Ciaran, and they were at peace after that.


There was a rich man in Clonmacnois, and he was cunning in many kinds of evil. His name was Trichem. He went to Ciaran of Saighir. Now with Ciaran the Easter fire was never extinguished from one Easter to another. Trichem put out the fire. ‘Ill befell thee, thou devil,’ said Ciaran, ‘to extinguish the fire; and we shall be without fire till next Easter, unless it comes from heaven. And thou shalt die forthwith; and wolves shall devour thy body’; and this was fulfilled.

This was revealed to Ciaran of Cluain, and he went to Saighir. Ciaran (of Saighir) welcomed him, and when he saw that he had no fire wherewith to prepare food for these elders, he lifted up his hands to heaven, and entreated the Lord that fire might come to him. A ball of fire fell in his presence, and therewith their supper was boiled for them, and set before them.

Said Ciaran of Cluain: ‘I will not touch food,’ said he, ‘till the son of my household be brought to me.’ ‘We knew that that was thine errand,’ said Ciaran of Saighir, ‘and it is my will, if it be God's will, that that man come to thee whole and sound.’ Thereupon he came at Ciaran's {folio 242} word, and ate together with them; and departed thence with Ciaran to Cluain, and afterwards forsook the devilry that was in him.

Once upon a time Ruadan of Lothra came on a visit to Ciaran. A demon came and put out Ciaran's fire. When Ciaran saw this, he blessed a huge stone, and struck flames of fire from it, and carried it all blazing in his hand into Ruadan's presence for him to warm himself at it.

After this the hospitaller brought a pail of milk to the clerks. The demon came and spilt the milk and broke the pail. The pail was carried to Ciaran, and he made the sign of the Cross over it; and it was whole with its full of milk in it.

When Ciaran's last days were approaching, he himself knew the time of his death, and he asked three requests of God before his death. The angel came to him and said that he should receive everything that he asked. ‘Every one,’ said he, ‘who shall be buried in my monastery, that the gate of hell shall not be closed upon him’; and that every one who honoured and reverenced his festival, should have pre-eminence of stock and riches in the present life, and the kingdom of heaven in the other; and that pre-eminence in battle should rest upon the men of Ossory, and that they should never be ejected from their own territory, for he himself belonged to them by origin.

Now it occurred to the mind of Finnian of Clonard that the last days of Ciaran were approaching. Finnian went to {folio 243} visit him, for he was his tutor, for it was with him he studied his psalms and every kind of learning that he had; and a great many of the


saints of Ireland resorted to him, for he was tutor to a large proportion of them.

There were thirty bishops with him of those who learned of him, and on every one of whom he had conferred priest's orders. And Ciaran went before them all into the church at the time of his death, and received Communion and sacrifice; and there came a multitude of angels to meet the soul of Ciaran, and bore his spirit with them to heaven, after pre-eminent fasting and repentance, after overcoming the devil and the world, to be welcomed by the family of heaven. He was buried in his own monastery at Saighir on the fifth day of the month of March with great honour and regard in the eyes of God and men. And though great was his honour on the day of his death, it will be greater in the assembly of the Judgement in the company of the nine heavenly orders, in the company of the apostles and disciples of God, in the company of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I entreat the mercy of God through the intercession of St. Ciaran, that we may attain to that company in secula seculorum. Amen.62

The End.


{folio 144a}

Life of Ciaran of Saighir

After Ciaran had studied the divine Scriptures in Rome, and had been made a bishop, Patrick met him in Italy and said to him: ‘Go before me to Ireland, and arrange a place for thyself in the middle of the island; and there shall be thy honour and thy resurrection.’ Ciaran answered and said: ‘I do not know the place, and it is not easy for me to find it.’ Patrick said: ‘Wherever this bell shall ring as thou bearest it, there settle.’ Thereafter Ciaran came to Ireland, bearing some of the relics of St. Peter and St. Paul with him, and the bell (remained) dumb till he reached the valley bottom of Saighir, and there the bell sounded (lit. spoke), to wit, Ciaran's Bardan, which Germanus the smith made by the grace of God.

Ciaran stopped at the place, and sat down under a tree there, and found a wild boar under the shade of the tree. The boar fled from Ciaran at first, but afterwards came back gently to him; and this boar was Ciaran's first monk, and cut with his tusks the wattles and (other) materials for the church. Afterwards other monks came to Ciaran, to wit, a fox, a badger, and a wolf, and were obedient to him.

Now it fell out one day that the monk named Fox stole and carried off to his dwelling the hawks 63 of the abbot, to wit, St. Ciaran. So St. Ciaran sent the monk named Badger to track the fox and the hawks; and he found them. And when he had found them, he bit off the fox's two ears and his tail, and a great deal of his fur.

Then the fox and the badger came to the saint, bringing the hawks uninjured. {folio 144b} Ciaran said to the fox: ‘Why didst thou do this wickedness?’ said he, ‘for if thou didst desire to eat flesh, God could have made flesh for thee from the bark (lit.skins) of the trees, and our water would be sweet for drinking.’ Then the fox did penance, that is a fast of three days.

Now after Patrick came to Ireland, faith and devotion increased, and the number of holy men was multiplied; and of them was Brendan of Birr, whose settlement was close to Ciaran. Now Brendan [read: Ciaran] had a single cow; and Cairbre Crom (‘the crooked’), steward of the king of Leinster, stole this cow; and when


he came to Slieve Bloom a dark black cloud enveloped him, so that he fell into the river and was drowned [lit. found death] in it; and the cow returned to Ciaran.

Now St. Ciaran wished to send this cow to Brendan; and Brendan would not have the cow, saying that he would have no cows about him till doom. Now Ciaran was at that time in his (Brendan's) dwelling, and he said that he did not feel very well, and that he should like some milk. And Brendan ordered a little narrow brass vessel to be filled with water, and he blessed it, and made new milk of it. And this was brought to the guest house to Ciaran; and Ciaran blessed the milk and turned it into water. After this Brendan accepted the cow, and Ciaran thanked Brendan for receiving the cow again.

Then said Ciaran to Brendan: ‘Let this cow fix for ever the division of our respective inheritances; that is to say as far as she goes grazing to-day, let the place {folio 145a} in which she stops be the boundary between us.’ And the cow grazed that day as far as Achad Bo (the cow's field), and that is the boundary between Ciaran and Brendan.

Now St. Ciaran of Clonmacnois was at that time in the power of King Forfige (Furbaide) on account of a cauldron belonging to the king which Ciaran had given to God's poor. And the king said to Ciaran: ‘If thou wouldst be set free, seek for seven sleek red calves with white heads.’ Afterwards Ciaran of Clonmacnois came to Saighir where Ciaran of Saighir was, to ask him whether he could find the like of this ransom which was demanded of him, namely seven sleek red calves with white heads. And when Ciaran of Clonmacnois reached Saighir, he found there in the guest house the two Brendans, namely Brendan of Birr, and Brendan son of Findlugh.

Ciaran of Saighir was delighted to see this company, and said to his cook: ‘What hast thou that we can set before these guests?’ ‘There is a gammon of bacon,’ said the cook, ‘but I bethink me that it is a fast.’ ‘Set it before the guests, nevertheless,’ said Ciaran; and it was taken to them; and it was found to be fish, and honey, and oil, through the word of Ciaran. And the name of God and of Ciaran was magnified thereby.

But there was a lay-brother there, the son of the cook, and he would not sup with them, because he had seen the gammon of bacon in the cook's hands, and he did not wish (to eat) meat on a fast day. Ciaran of Saighir said to him: ‘Thou shalt eat beef red-raw in Lent, and that very hour thou shalt be slain by thine enemies, and shalt not receive the kingdom of heaven.’ And this was fulfilled, as Ciaran said.

And when this entertainment of the saints was finished,


Ciaran the elder of Saighir {folio 145b} went on the way with Ciaran of Clonmacnois to converse with him. And Ciaran of Clonmacnois said to Ciaran of Saighir: ‘Abundance of food and riches be in thine abode till doom.’ And Ciaran of Saighir said to Ciaran of Clonmacnois: ‘Abundance of wisdom and consecrated oil be in thine abode till doom.’

And after this the two Ciarans went to Achad Salchar on the bank of the river, and found the seven calves, smooth, red, and white-headed for which Ciaran of Clonmacnois was then under bond. And when Ciaran of Clonmacnois had gone forth free from the king, no trace was found of the seven calves. And the name of God, &c.

On another occasion a youth named Crichid of Clonmacnois came to Saighir, and when he had been a few days there, on a certain day he, by the instigation of the devil, extinguished the consecrated fire which the monks maintained. And Ciaran said to the monks: ‘Do ye see that your consecrated fire has been extinguished by that devilish youth? and there will not be fire in this place till doom until fire comes to it from God.’ And the youth who extinguished the fire went away on the morrow, and the wolves slew him. And the name, &c.

And when the son of the wright (i.e. Ciaran of Clonmacnois) heard of the death of the youth, he came to seek him, and was honourably received; but there was no fire in the monastery of Saighir for his reception. Then Ciaran of Saighir arose, and entreated God, and fire came down from heaven into his bosom, and he carried it to the guest house. And when the guests had been warmed, and their supper had been set before them, Ciaran of Clonmacnois declared that he would not touch food till the youth should come; and the youth arose as soon as ever he had said that, and partook of food. And the name, &c.

A little while afterwards a clerk named Bardanus, one of the monks of that house, extinguished the fire of the monastery; and that very day Ruadan of Lothra came to Saighir, and there was no fire in the house to warm them withal. And Ciaran blessed a stone, and the stone blazed up, and Ciaran carried the fire in his hands to the house in which Ruadan of Lothra was, and it did not hurt his hands. And the name, &c.

Another time after this the same Bardanus upset a cauldron full of milk; and Ciaran blessed the cauldron, and it thereupon became full.

Now Liadain was Ciaran's mother, and she and her virgins lived near to him. And she had a comely fosterling named Bruitnech, a daughter of the king of Munster. And Daimene, the king of Cined


Fiachna heard a description of the beauty of the woman, and he came and carried her off, and she lived with him some days.

After this Ciaran went to demand the maiden of the king, and he refused to give her to him. And he said to Ciaran that he would not let her go till he should be wakened by the voice of the cuckoo. On the morrow there was a heavy fall of snow, which covered the earth, but it did not come near Ciaran or his company; {folio 146b} and it was the winter season then. And early on the morrow the voice of the cuckoo was heard, and the king arose and prostrated himself before Ciaran, and gave his fosterling to him.

And when Ciaran saw his fosterling coming to him, and her womb great with her pregnancy, he made the sign of the Sacred Cross over her, and her womb was decreased, and there was no appearance of pregnancy therein; and he took her back to the same place. And the name, &c.

[The Irish translator has omitted a sentence telling how on the king attempting to carry off the maiden a second time she expired.] On a later day the king came to Ciaran in great wrath, and said: ‘Why hast thou killed my wife?’ said he, ‘thou shalt not be in this place any longer, but I will sweep thee out of it.’ Ciaran said: ‘Thou art not God, and I shall remain in my own place.’.

The king went off in a furious rage to his own abode, Dun Croibhtine, and found it in a blaze. And the queen escaped, but forgot her favourite son in the house. And the queen said mournfully: ‘I place my son under the protection of Ciaran of Saighir.’ Thereupon a wondrous miracle was wrought; the house was burnt, but the child was saved.

Afterwards King Dairine and Bishop Aed came to Ciaran of Saighir, and the king submitted to Ciaran, and gave his two sons to Ciaran, namely Dunchad who had been delivered from the fire, and his other son, together with his descendants. When the king departed from Ciaran, he restored Bruitnech to life, and she was whole. And the name, &c.

The king of Munster, Aengus son of Nadfraech, had seven harpers {folio 147a} who had come (to him) from their own lord out of Gaul. And they were murdered in Muscraige, and their bodies were hidden, so that no one knew (where they were); and Aengus was greatly concerned, not knowing what had become of his harpers.

So he came to Ciaran of Saighir to seek for help. And Ciaran said to him: ‘Thy harpers have been drowned in a lake, and their harps are on a tree high up on the upper side above the lake.’ ‘I entreat thee,’ said the king to Ciaran, ‘come with me to seek them.’ So Ciaran arose and some of his company, seven score in number,


with him, and went to the lake, and remained there three days and three nights praying and fasting.

And after these three days were fulfilled, the lake ebbed, and the bodies were found on the shore. And Ciaran restored them to life after they had been a month under the lake. And they took their harps and played them, and sang their song, so that the king and his hosts fell asleep with the music. And from that time forth the lake has no water in it, and it is called Loch na Cruitenn (Lake of the Harps). And the name, &c.

Once upon a time an officer of the king of Munster was traversing the district of Muscraige, and found a pig belonging to a holy man named Cáin, and the officer killed the pig, and carried it to a wood, and set it on the fire. And as he was seething it there, kernes came upon him and slew him, and twenty of his company with him, on the bank of the river Brosnach; and they departed forthwith, {folio 147b} and did not see the pig on the fire.

This was revealed to Ciaran, and he went to where his forsterling was, to wit Carthach son of Aengus, son of Nadfraech, with a view to taking up the bodies, that the wolves might not eat them, and carrying them to his own place. And when Ciaran saw the number of the bodies, and that he had no means of transporting them, he said: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ rise up on your feet, and come with me to my church.’ And they arose forthwith, the prefect and his company, whole and sound; and he also restored the pig to life, and it went off to its own master.

So that noble company came with Ciaran; and this was Foda son of Forax and his family that were there, and they submitted to Ciaran together with their seed, and offered themselves to him entirely (lit. from the beginning); and were buried in his cemetery (lit. at him).

A little while afterwards a captain of Aengus son of Nadfraech named Mac Ceisi was slain; and Ciaran prayed on his behalf, and he was restored to life, and went away whole. And the name, &c.

There was a certain nobleman, named Mac Eirce, of the race of the Úi Duach, 64 who killed a chariot horse belonging to Patrick; and this man was seized and bound by Aengus. And Ciaran came to ransom him, and paid a great quantity of gold and silver. And as soon as he had taken off Mac Eirce with him, the gold and the silver disappeared. Aengus was wroth, and came to Ciaran, and said: ‘Give me my portion of gold and silver, for what thou gavest me is naught, {folio 148a} and a mere phantom.’ And he spoke bitter words to Ciaran.


And Ciaran said: ‘For thy portion of gold and silver thou shalt receive only a curse.’ And as Ciaran said these words, darkness rose around the king, and he died. When Carthach saw his father fall, he was sad, and begged Ciaran to restore him to life. And Ciaran prayed for him, and he was whole, and Aengus did penance then, and offered himself and his seed to Ciaran. And the name, &c.

Once as Ciaran was walking in the time of autumn, he reached out his hand to a bramble on which were some blackberries. And it was revealed to him by God, that he would have need of them on another occasion, and (therefore) he left some of them.

Now in the following spring, after Easter, Aengus son of Nadfraech came on a visit to the house of Concra son of Dana (?) in the territory of Ossory, and he had his wife, Eithne, with him. And she fell in love with Concra, and would fain have lived with him as his wife, for Aengus was by that time an old man. And Concra refused this as long as Aengus lived.

And when Eithne saw that she was rejected by Concra, she stirred up strife between the two kings Aengus and Concra. And at the end of the feast she pretended to be ill; and they all were inquiring what would relieve her. And she said, ‘It is not easy to find at this season the means of healing me; it is blackberries that would relieve me.’ {folio 148b} And the king and his company were sad thereat, for it was impossible for them to get them (the berries) for her.

And Concra was in great fear that Eithne would remain in his house after Aengus had departed, with a view to gaining her desire of him. So he went quickly to where Ciaran was, to tell him of the unreasonable desire which the woman had conceived for blackberries in the season after Easter. And Ciaran sent Concra to the bramble on which he had left the blackberries the previous autumn; and the berries were found as Ciaran had left them, and he collected them into a brazen vessel, and a white cloth was spread over them, and the queen ate of them and was well; the kings also partook of them, and they had the taste of honey, and the intoxicating property of wine.

And Ciaran made peace between the two kings, Aengus and Concra, and Eithne fell on her knees before Ciaran, and gave thanks to him for his healing of her, and Concra offered himself and his seed to Ciaran. And the name, &c.

Once on a time Laeghaire son of Niall with his host came against the Munstermen; and Ailill king of Cashel came to meet them. And Ciaran wished to make peace between them; but the arrogant kings paid no respect to Ciaran. Thereupon Ciaran prayed to God;


and that which he could not obtain from the arrogant kings, he obtained from God. For when the armies wanted to attack one another, the wood that was in front of the Munstermen lay down flat, and the river that was in front of the Ulstermen {folio 149a} rose to a great height, so that the Munstermen retired without engaging, and Laeghaire departed in like manner. And Ciaran regaled the men of Munster abundantly with one ox, and the shoulder of another. And the name, &c.

Once upon a time kernes of the Clanna Fiachrach came seeking to steal swine from the borders of Munster, and concealed themselves in a wood. And Lonan son of Nadfraech, Aengus's brother, received intelligence of their being there; and he went against them. And they prayed to Ciaran for help. And as they prayed, the wood was forthwith in a blaze. And when Lonan saw this, he turned back. And the other company went to Ciaran, and became monks under him to the day of their death. And the name, &c.

Once upon a time Patrick came to Saighir and ten of the kings of Munster with him. And for them Ciaran provided a banquet of three days and three nights with seven kine that he had. And he blessed a spring, and made wine thereof, so that they were merry, satiated, and joyful. And the name, &c.

Once on a time Ciaran's cellarer said to him: ‘W e have no pigs, and we must buy some.’ And Ciaran said: ‘We will not,’ said he, ‘but the King who provides us with food and clothing, He will provide us with pigs.’ Early the next morning they found a sow and twelve young pigs {folio 149b} in the middle of the homestead; whereof were bred large numbers of pigs. And the name, &c.

Another time his cellarer said to Ciaran: ‘We have no sheep.’ Ciaran said: ‘He who gave us pigs, will give us sheep.’ The next morning the cellarer found twenty-seven white sheep in front of the homestead. And the name, &c.

Another time Ciaran restored to life Laeghaire son of Fintan, and he remained alive a great number of years in the mortal body, and afterwards he gave his land as an offering to God and to Ciaran.

Another time Ciaran's oxen would go westward to the sea to the chapel of Cochae, Ciaran's foster-mother, to plough for her. And when they had finished the ploughing, they would return to Saighir without any man to guide them.

Another time Ciaran went on Christmas Eve after service to the chapel of Cochae at Drumbanagher, and returned to Saighir in the morning.


There is a stony rock in the western sea where Cochae, Ciaran's foster-mother, used to perform her solitary devotions amid the sea-waves; and Ciaran used to go where Cochae was on the rock, and return therefrom without boat or ferry.

One day Ciaran came to Cochae's chapel, and a great {folio 150a} company of people with him. And hospitality was given to him there, to wit, a gammon of bacon. And Ciaran blessed the gammon, and made wheat and honey and fish thereof, and other noble foods; and he blessed a fountain of water that was in the place, and made wine thereof. And the number of those who were sufficed therewith was eight hundred and forty. And the name, &c.

Another time Ciaran came to Rathdowney, and sat in council there with a great company of people. And there was there a certain King Cobranus who had deadly eyes. And he saw a grandson of Aengus son of Nadfraech coming towards them, and he looked upon him with his poisonous eyes, and the boy died at once.

And when Ciaran saw that, he was greatly angered against the king; and the king went blind forthwith. The king prostrated himself before Ciaran, and he restored his sight to him; and he (the king) gave himself and all his seed to him (Ciaran). And he raised to life again the youth who had been previously killed by the poison of the king's eye. And the name, &c.

Another time Ciaran?s mother, Liven, had a foster-daughter, and Ciaran had a foster-son, Carthach, grandson of Aengus, son of Nadfraech; and they bore a carnal love to one another. And they made an assignation in order to gratify their desire. And as soon as they saw one another's face, the wood blazed between them, and they fled from one another. And from that day forth the woman could not see a thing; and Carthach was banished over sea for seven years, and after penance studied the divine scriptures. {folio 150b} And the name, &c.

Another time Liven, Ciaran's mother, had some flax drying on the wall of the house; and it caught fire, and the house was set on fire thereby. And Ciaran saw this, though afar off; and he raised his hand, and sained the house, and extinguished the fire, and the house was saved from burning. And the name, &c.

Another time a maiden was captured by her enemies, and they cut off her head. And when Ciaran saw this, he prayed on her behalf, and restored her to life. And the name, &c.

Another time Liven's priest, Cerpanus, was travelling along the road, when he died. And Ciaran prayed for him, and he was restored to life. And the name, &c.

Another time the mother of Brendan of Birr, named


Mansenna, came to Saighir, and she desired to go into exile on Oilén Doimle. But Ciaran said: ‘Go not,’ said he, ‘for it is not there that thy resurrection shall be, but thou shalt die at Tallaght, and there shalt thou arise, and thy son Brendan. And when his body is borne from that place to his own monastery, there will be a great brightness {folio 151a} that night between the two places.’ And this was fulfilled in the case of Brendan and of his mother.

(Here are) some additional miracles of his. Two brothers named Odran and Medran (came) to Ciaran from Latteragh in Muscraige; and they desired to go into exile in Ossory. But when they came to Saighir, Medran wished to remain there with Ciaran. But Odran told him not to remain, and begged Ciaran not to detain him. Ciaran said: ‘Let God decide between us, whether he shall remain with me, or go with thee. Let him take a lamp without oil or fire, and if the lamp catches fire when he breathes on it, he shall remain with me.’.

And so it was done, and the lamp caught fire, and Medran remained with Ciaran till his death. And Ciaran said to Odran: ‘By whatever way thou shalt go, thou shalt come whole to Muscraige at last, and when Columba son of Crimthann shall be carried, concealed in wheat, to his burial by thee and Mochaimhe of Terryglass, thou shalt come, O Odran, to thine own monastery, and in it shall be thy resurrection.’

A lady named Achaill fell out of her chariot and was killed; and Ciaran restored her to life at the end of the third day. And she gave the land called Léim Achaill (Achaill's leap) to God and to Ciaran. And the name, &c. 65

Another time Fergus Cindfaelad (F. of the Wolfs head), chief of the king of Munster's household, came and strangled Ciaran's hospitaller, named Cronan; and Ciaran restored him to life after seven days. {folio 151b} Ciaran said: ‘As Cronan was strangled, so shall Fergus be strangled, and his body shall be burned in Rath Lochmaighe by the men of Eile.’

After this Ailill, king of Munster, came to demand his officer from Ciaran, and when Ciaran heard this, he deprived him of speech for seven days, and at the end of the seventh day the king came where Ciaran was, and prostrated himself before him. And when Ciaran saw this, he restored his speech to the king. And the name, &c.

Another time a lay brother of Ciaran's, named Gobranus, was in great dread of a violent death (lit. death by [sword]-point), and entreated Ciaran that he might not die by such a death. And Ciaran


said: ‘I cannot obtain66 from God that thou shalt not die in that way, but I will obtain what is better, that thou shalt not go to hell.’ And so it was done.

Cainnech and Brigit were talking together in a solitary place; and Cainnech said to Brigit: ‘Great was the boon which God granted to Ciaran of Saighir; namely that he got out of hell the soul of a monk who had shed blood; and he said that he himself would remain in hell in place of the monk, unless he were released to him; and he was released.’ And the name, &c.

One day Ciaran's herdsman came to him, and said: ‘One of our oxen has run away.’ It was an ox that had been calved by the cow which Brendan had, and it was red with a white stocking. Ciaran said: ‘Go to Glenn Damhain (Glen of the young ox) and there thou wilt find it, and a herd besides, which thou wert not looking for.’ And the servant {folio 152a} went to the glen, and found the ox, as Ciaran had said, and seven score kine with it. And the name, &c.

One night Ciaran went into a pool of cold water, and a pilgrim named Germanus with him. The cold took great effect on Germanus. Ciaran blessed the water and made it hot.

Ciaran said to Germanus: ‘Dost thou see Carthach coming towards us from the road to-night? Look beside thee for something that we may set before him.’ And he stretched out his hand and caught a great salmon, and threw it out on the land.

After this Ciaran went to St. Martin's city (Tours), and brought with him relics of St. Martin with great joy.

Three boons did God give to Ciaran; (the first), that whoever should be buried within his wall, hell should not be closed upon him; the second boon, that whoever should observe his day worthily, should never come to poverty; the third boon, that so long as any tenant remained in his (Ciaran's) place, no hostile power should ever prevail against him.

After this Ciaran asked of God a fountain, and the angel showed one to him; and it would heal every disease if washed in.

And these were the virtuous customs of Ciaran all his life; he never wore woollen clothing, but skins of wolves and other brute beasts; and he avoided all dainty (lit. worldly or secular) meats, and all intoxicating drinks; and he took but little sleep. And there was a continual attendance of angels about him. And the bishops {folio 152b} and priests that he ordained were innumerable. Four hundred years did he live without disease external or internal, without loss of teeth or shortness of breath, with eyesight undimmed,


and hearing unimpaired, with heart and senses unblunted (lit. unblinded). For though the enemy of the human race blunts (blinds) the senses, he got no power of doing so in Ciaran's case.

Moreover, if any injury were done to him, he would always do some good thing in return, for he always forgave injuries. He would labour with his hands for the love of God, to get what they wanted for the poor. And so he passed his life in this world as to receive the crown of eternal life in the world to come. Who is there who could maintain in this world in the human body a life like Ciaran's, in fastings and abstinences, in cold and watching, in chastity and hospitality (lit. house of guests)?

And so he spent his life from infancy till death, in daily prayer, study, and preaching, and in bearing judgement, whether silently or in speech. He was compassionate, prudent, steadfast, merciful, virtuous, humble to God and to his neighbour, teaching his monks in accordance with the words of the apostle Paul. For these are the words of Paul: ‘Imitate me,’ says Paul, ‘as I have imitated Christ, to receive honour from God and [? not] from men; and seek not anything for the sake of worldly glory, but for God.’

And he neglected none of the commandments of God, but (gave) bread to the hungry, and drink to the thirsty, welcomed {folio 153a} strangers, and visited the sick, (giving) alms to the poor and clothes to the naked. And the motive for which he did so was this, that he might obtain his portion in the life everlasting, and for fear of the reproof of God in the presence of the judgement. And Ciaran bade his monks to maintain these commandments, that is to have love one to another.

And Ciaran prophesied that seven would come after him who would perform and maintain this rule; but that every man who should come after that would not fulfil that rule, nor would they receive their portion in the Kingdom of God.

And when the time of Ciaran's death drew near, he became utterly diseased; and he summoned all his congregation together round him, and said to them: ‘Now is my Lord calling me to Himself, and I am sad to leave my flock, and I commend you to God and to Carthach with my blessing. And I exhort you to rule this place with good customs; and let no son of perdition remain long among you, for if he does, your days will be cut short.’

‘And a time will come when there will be many terrible plagues which will destroy churches, and they will be desolate; and truth will be turned into a lie, and baptism will not keep its proper character (lit. colour), and as to the thing about which they will be contending, it will be about a foreigner, and not about ourselves. O dear brothers, pray with me to God that I may not go to Him alone, but that I may take


others with me; and that my way to the King may not be a dark way, {folio 153b} and that He may give me welcome.’

Then he went to the altar with an offering, and received the Body of Christ; and bade three worthy members of his congregation to guard his body, and said to them: ‘Open the earth to the extent of three handbreadths, and bury me with the other holy men, and with Martin, and let no man know this secret place.’ Then his soul parted from his body at midnight; and thereupon his soul was carried with great light and with the brilliance of angels to the kingdom of heaven, and thirty bishops with him.

And the monks stood around the body of Ciaran, singing hymns and canticles and other songs of praise, and with unguents such as spices and the like, and with great light, seven days and seven nights. And after this he was swathed in great quantities of white linen cloths, and was buried in them, against his resurrection in the light of the Judgement. And he is now in heaven with Patrick and Martin, and with great numbers of saints besides, to whom is paid reverence and honour for ever and ever. Amen.67

The End.

COLOPHON In Coill an Iubhair (Wood of the Yew) in the convent of the brothers of Athlone, I wrote the life of Ciaran the first time, from the book of Aedh O'Dalachan the Younger, of Liscloony in Meath, and I have copied it again now on the Drowes, Feb. 18, 1629..