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Bethada Náem nÉrenn

Author: [unknown]

File Description

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

3. Third draft, enlarged

Extent of text: 70350 words


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Text ID Number: T201000F

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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. Rudolf Thurneysen, 'Eine Variante der Brendan-Legende', Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 10 (1914), 416–420 [available online at CELT].
  7. Paul Grosjean (ed.), 'Vita S. Ciarani episcopi de Saigir ex codice hagiographico Gothano', Analecta Bollandiana 59 (1941), 217–71.
  8. 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].
  9. 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].
  10. Pádraig Ó Riain, Beatha Bharra: Saint Finnbarr of Cork, the Complete Life (London: Irish Texts Society 1994).
  11. Máire Herbert, 'Hagiography', in: Progress in medieval Irish studies (Maynooth 1996).
  12. 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].
  13. Christina Harrington, Women in a Celtic Church: Ireland 450–1150 (Oxford 2002).
  14. 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.
  15. Nathalie Stalmans, Saints d'Irlande: Analyse critique des sources hagiographiques (VIIe-IXe siècles) (Rennes 2003).
  16. Pádraig Ó Riain, A dictionary of Irish Saints (Dublin 2011) (with bibliography).
  17. Charles Doherty, Linda Doran and Mary Kelly (eds), Glendalough: City of God (Dublin 2011).
  18. Pádraig Ó Riain, 'The Lives of Kevin (Caoimhghin) of Glendalough', in Charles Doherty, Linda Doran and Mary Kelly (eds), Glendalough: City of God (Dublin 2011) 137–144.
    Select bibliography of Charles Plummer's writings
  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. Paul 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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Text has been checked and proof-read twice. All corrections and supplied text are tagged.


The electronic text represents the edited text. Milestones for manuscript foliation given refer to the Irish text.


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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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Profile Description

Created: Translation by Charles Plummer; for Irish text see CELT file header for file G201000. Date range: c. 1921–1922.

Use of language

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.
Language: [DE] A word or two in the footnotes in German.

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 71a}

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). {folio 71b}

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. {folio 72a} 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 {folio 72b} 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 {folio 73a} 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, {folio 73b} 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, {folio 74a} 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 {folio 75a} 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 {folio 75b} 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.

{folio 76a} 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; {folio 76b}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 {folio 77a} 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.
{folio 77b} 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 {folio 78a} 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 {folio 78b} 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 {folio 79a} 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 {folio 79b} 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 {folio 80a} 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 {folio 80b} 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, {folio 81a} 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. {folio 81b} 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.
    2. 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 said {folio 82a} an angel 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. {folio 82b} 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 {folio 83a} 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 {folio 83b} (the place) is called Achad Cullebar (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.

{folio 84a} 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 {folio 84b} 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, {folio 85a} 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; {folio 85b} 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, {folio 86a} 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 {folio 86b} 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. {folio 87a} 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 70b}

The Twelve Apostles of Ireland

The twelve apostles61 of Erin were in Clonard studying with Finnian; and Finnian made a feast to the apostles62 and to the other saints of Erin. When their enjoyment of the feast was at its height, they saw an indescribably large flower come to them as a token of the Land of Promise. Then they held earnest counsel as to going in search of the land of the flower. No one of them was before another in undertaking the journey thither; so lots were cast between them, that is between each pair of them; and the lot fell on the two Brendans to go. The two Brendans then cast lots between themselves, (to see) to which of them it would fall to go and seek for the Land of Promise. And the lot fell on Brendan of Birr to go.

Then all the saints of Erin became silent and troubled out of concern that it should have fallen to the Senior, that is to the eldest of the saints of Erin, and to the prophetic sage, to venture into the jaws63 of the sea and mighty ocean. Then said Brendan, the son of Findlug: ‘I am the younger; it is I who will venture on the ocean.’ And thereof one composed this lay:

    1. 1] They were studying for a long while,
      2] They recited diligently their lessons
      3] Under Finnian with his scores of cells,
      4] The twelve apostles of Erin.
    2. 5] They saw coming to them a flower,
      6] The comely noble company,
      7] From the bright (?) land of promise,64
      8] From the King of kings, from the royal Sovereign.
    3. 9] They all spake together,
      10] They came to a good resolve,
      11] Till they should reach it—mysterious the matter of it—
      12] They would seek the land of the flower.

    4. p.97

    5. 13] God separated from each pair of them,
      14] Of the ancient saints, the completion65 of the labour;
      15] By the will of the wondrous great lot,
      16] So that it fell to the two Brendans.

    6. p.94

    7. 17] Thus the glorious (?) God blessed them,
      18] With their vessels of malt,
      19] Brendan of Birr, an excellent prince,
      20] And Brendan son of Findlug.
    8. 21] They cast a fair goodly lot
      22] In the presence of the apostles;
      23] Brendan of Birr the famous,
      24] To him the journey fell.
    9. 25] (It seemed) hard to his just companions
      26] Amid their fair drinking horns,
      27] That he should venture in the track of the mighty sea,
      28] Their perfect sage and senior.66
    10. 29] ‘As I am the youngest here now,’,
      30] Said Brendan the younger aloud,67
      31] ‘Let what shall come of it fall on me;’,
      32] ‘It is I that will go on the ocean.’

Then was made by Brendan an excellent coracle for size and fullness of the crew; forty-five and seventy-three, that was the number that embarked in the coracle.

Then Brendan son of Findlug set sail on the roar of the roughcrested sea, and on the noise of the green-sloped waves, and on the hissing deep-blue brine, and into the jaws of the unknown ocean with its many creatures, wherein they found many marine monsters. And there too they would discover islands strange and beautiful, but they would not tarry longer in them.

They were then a year on the voyage, and Easter was then drawing near. So his company were saying to Brendan, that they must land in order to celebrate Easter. ‘God is able,’ said Brendan, ‘to give us land in any place68 that he pleases.’ When Easter came therefore, the great beast (whale) raised its shoulders aloft out of the sea, and it formed an even, firm, settled, broad, level, beautiful land.69 They disembarked on it, and celebrated Easter there. One day and two nights they remained in the place, till they had accomplished the ritual of Easter; after which they embarked in their coracle, and the great beast plunged under the sea. Each year, as Easter drew near, the great beast would raise its back above the sea, forming firm dry ground.

Once as they were on the ocean they saw vast70 eddies71. {folio 71a} The storm drew them against their will to the edge of the whirlpool. Then


great fear seized them because of the force of the storm72. Each of them began73 to gaze in Brendan's face, for the danger in which they were was exceeding great. Brendan then raised his voice on high and said: ‘Enough for thee, O mighty sea,’ said he , ‘to drown me; therefore release this company.’74 Then the sea grew calm at once, and the ebullitions (?)75 of the whirlpool abated thenceforth, and never harmed any one again.

Another day when they were on the sea, the devil came to them in an enchanted,76 most horrible, impure, and hellish form, and settled on the mast of the ship in the presence of Brendan alone. No one else of them saw him, but only Brendan. Brendan asked the devil why he had come from hell before his proper time, that is before the time of the great resurrection. ‘It is for this I am come indeed,’ said the devil, ‘to be tortured in the deep prisons of this black dark sea.’ Brendan asked him: ‘What and where is that hellish place?’ ‘Alas!’ said the devil, ‘no one can see it, and survive.’

Then the devil showed the door of hell to Brendan, and then Brendan saw the hard dark prison, full of stench, full of flame, full of filth, full of camps of poisonous devils, full of weeping,77 and shrieking and woe, of wretched cries and loud lamentations, of mourning and wringing of hands by the sinful people, and the life of grief and sorrow in the heart of pain, in fiery prisons, in currents of ever-blazing, streams, in the cup of lasting sorrow and of never-ending unceasing death, in dark sloughs, in seats of fierce flame, in abounding grief and death, and tortures, and chains, and heavy helpless struggles, amid the horrible screams of the poisonous demons, in the night ever dark, ever cold, ever fetid, ever foul, ever melancholy, ever rough, ever long, ever stifling, fatal, destructive, gloomy, bristling with fire, of the lower freezing hideous hell; on slopes of ever-fiery hills, without rest or stay, but hosts of demons haling the sinners into prisons78 heavy, strong, hot, fiery, dark, deep, lonely, futile, base, black, idle, foul, lengthy, enchanted, ever stinking, ever full of strife, and quarrel and weariness, ever dying, ever living.

Weeping sharp, fierce, stormy; lamentation shrill, querulous, loud-voiced, bitter, sharp-toned, mournful. Worms crooked, cruel, daring, huge-headed. Monsters yellow, wan, widemouthed. Lions fierce, nimble, ravenous. Hawks swift, mighty, towering. Dragons red,79 dark, broad-backed, restless (or idle80), Tigers strong and treacherous, scorpions blue and hairy81, griffins fierce and sharp-beaked; gnats stinging, with large mouths; gadflies crooked, hard-beaked. Strong mallets of heavy iron; flails enchanted


and rough with age; sharp swords; red spears; black82 demons; fetid fires; {folio 71b} poisonous streams; stinking cataracts.

Cats scratching, dogs tearing, hounds hunting; demons screeching. Fetid loughs, great sloughs, dark pits, deep valleys, high hills, cruel crags. Hosts of demons, fotil encampment, pain unceasing, greedy swarms, frequent fighting, instant quarrel, demons tormenting, tortures innumerable, life of sorrow.

A place in which there are streams hoarse, bitter, enchanted, ever stinking, putrid, melting, burning, bare, swift, boiling, broad; straits cruel, rocky, long, cold, deep, small, great, boggy (?), ever-hot, extended, kneaded, sad. Plains bare and burning. Hills round and hairy; valleys crooked and wormy; bogs rough and prickly; woods dark and fiery. Roads filthy and beast-haunted; seas83 congealed giving off foul odours. Huge iron nails. Black bitter waters. Many strange places; a foul ever-putrid company; bitter wintry winds. Frozen ever dropping snow; red fiery griddles; base blackened faces; swift mangling demons; vast and strange torments.

After Brendan had seen these torments, he heard a lamentation great, intolerable, unendurable, and a melancholy wretched cry, and a helpless weeping in the depth of the bottom of hell. Then a great fear seized the cleric at the horror of that misery. And then Brendan saw a huge rock, and on it was that84 which he had heard. And the infernal sea would wash over the huge rock on every side; a wave of black-red fire (would break) over it from in front, and a cold icy wave from behind alternately.

And one wretched man was standing on the rock. Brendan asked him who he was. ‘I am Judas Iscariot,’ said he , ‘and it was I that sold my Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, for silver, and the despicable useless riches of the world. And vast,’ said he, ‘ is the greatness of my strange torments; and I shall be as thou seest from now till the day of doom.’ Then Brendan wept for the greatness of the misery in which he saw Judas to be. And then as a memorial for Brendan85 Judas made these little verses:

[Judas Ischariot]

  1. 1] I am Judas Iscariot to-day
    2] On the waves of the mighty ocean;
    3] Wretched is my perilous dark life,
    4] Tortured as I am in hell.
  2. 5] (Tossed) from a wave of fire to a cold wave,
    6] From a cold wave to every mighty wave:
    7] From every quarter am I tortured;
    8] Sad is the report of my torment.

  3. p.97

  4. 9] Woe is me that I forsook my King;
    10] Evil was the deed to which I put my hand;
    11] Therefore shall I be for ever
    12] Without peace and without gentle affection.
  5. 13] The depth of hell every alternate hour,
    14] Wretched the shrieking86 (?) beneath my side.
    15] Black demons are around me;
    16] Out, alack, (?) it is no fair fashion.
  1. 17] Woe to him who did it, woe to him who does it;
    18] Woe for his pilgrimage in this world;
    19] For him who is guilty of excessive covetousness,
    20] Woe twice over, and woe, O God.
  2. 21] Woe to me my covetousness which destroyed me,
    22] I see rude demons now;
    23] Woe my journey to them, O God;
    24] Woe said my cruel conscience.
  3. 25] Alas, O Brendan, look on me;
    26] All that I do is too much for me;
    27] Hell, luckless, base, black, blind;
    28] Alas 'tis there that I am alive.
  4. 29] Alas, alas, the price of the betrayal of my King,
    30] Long, long shall I feel the evil of it;
    31] Thirty circles87 of white silver,
    32] 'Tis that which has tortured my body.
  5. 33] For treasure I delivered up my King;
    34] Alas, it is for that my fate is evil;
    35] The treasure remains not at my pleasure,
    36] (But) I remain in torment for ever.
  1. 37] Alas, that I died not, O Son of my God;
    38] Alas, rude is the conflict I endure;
    39] Alas, I am burning a hundredfold;
    40] I find not death, but remain alive.
  2. 41] Twisted worms are beneath my side,
    42] Black and dusky, wretched the threat (?);
    43] Hounds of chase there alternately;
    44] Wretched is the shrieking88(?) which encompasses me.

  3. p.98

  4. 45] Alas, O silver; woe worth thy deed;
    46] Alas, thou hast robbed me of my God;
    47] Alas, O treasure, fair deceiver;
    48] Alas, it is a plague which I inflicted myself.
  5. 49] In company with demons am I;
    50] Alas, ill did my nature elate me;
    51] My mockery through pride was heard;
    52] I am Judas Iscariot.



{MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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,’ {MS page 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 {MS page 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 Fiachach89, 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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, {MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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.

{MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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, {MS page 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 {MS page 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; {MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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 {MS page 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.90

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 91 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 {folio 146a} 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, 92 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: ‘We 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. 93

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 obtain94 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.95

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..


{folio 274a}

Life of Coemgen (I)

Now it was (foretold) in type and prophecy that there would come a high saint, noble and honourable, in Leinster, namely in Glendalough, to speak particularly, to rescue and repel men from paganism by the preaching of the word of God, for the healing of leper, and blind, and deaf, and lame, and all kinds of sick folk, to raise the dead, to put down the mighty and lift up the wretched, and to drive away plagues and pestilences, to check thieves and crimes and strange monsters, and to instruct all kinds of perverted folk who opposed the will of God.

Now Patrick, son of Calpurnius, the chief apostle of Erin, prophesied of this Coemgen thirty years before his birth, and that he would cause a chief city (monastery) to be built in the aforesaid glen, for the refection of companies and strangers, of guests and pilgrims, and that he would bring with him to Glendalough some of the mould and relics of the apostles and righteous men who are at Rome.

And it is written in this life that for the obtaining remission of sins from God it is the same for any one to visit Rome, and (to visit) the relics and bed of Coemgen, as is customary, with penitence, and humility, and lowliness of heart.

Find mac Cumaill prophesied likewise, that Coemgen would overcome the horrible monster in the lesser lake of the same glen, that was destroying every one, and drive it into the other lake. Therefore men and cattle, and all kinds of sick folk come to be healed and cured in the water of the lesser lake in honour of God and of Coemgen.

When then all these prophesies were fulfilled, the promised one came, to wit, Coemgen son of Caemlug, son of Caimet, son of Rimid, son of Corb, {folio 274b} son of Fergus Lamderg (Red-hand), son of Messincorb, son of Cucorb.

And his mother became pregnant, namely Caemell daughter of Cendfinnan, son of Cise, son of Lugaid; and this Caemell was mother of Caeman, Sanctlethan, and Nadchaeme of Terryglass; and of Caemell of Cell Caemille; Mincloth mother's sister to Coemgen, it was of her that Colum son of Crimthann was born.

At the time of Coemgen's birth no pains of labour nor pangs of childbearing came to his mother, as to other women, for innocent, faithful, righteous was the offspring that she bore. And the high


King of righteousness, the King of Heaven, sent twelve angels with golden lamps to his baptism. And the angels gave him the name of Coemgen (fair birth), that is beauteous shining birth.

And the angels told the women to take the child to be baptized to the noble honourable patron saint, Cronan, in the Fortuatha (foreign tribes) of Leinster. And he (Cronan) afterwards baptized him, and offered himself to Coemgen to be of his family, that all others might the more readily believe in him. And he prophesied that kings and chiefs would believe in him, and that he would do mighty works and great miracles.

After this the child was taken to the fort in which he was born. And God wrought great wonders and miracles in honour of God and Coemgen in respect of this fort; for however great the frost and snow on every side of it, it never penetrates within, and beasts and cattle in time of cold and snow habitually find grass there.

A brilliantly white cow used to come for the infant's feeding, and it was not known from what booly or byre it came, nor whither it retired. In times of fasting and abstinence the child would only suck its mother's breasts once (a day). An angel commanded Coemgen to enter an order for monks for instruction, {folio 275a} and he submitted to ordination, and became an elect priest.

Great was his courage afterwards in separating from the glory and beauty of the present life, and remaining in solitude listening to the converse of the angel who ministered to him. He would lie by night on bare stones on the border of the lake; skins of wild beasts were his clothing.

He would cross the lake without any boat to the rock to say Mass every day, and remained without fear or dread above the lake.

There was a horrible and strange monster in the lake, which wrought frequent destruction of dogs and men among the fiana of Erin. Coemgen recited his psalms, and entreated the Lord, and He drove the monster from him into the other lake. That is to say, the lesser lake, in which the monster (originally) was, is the place where now help of every trouble is wrought both for men and cattle; and they all leave their sicknesses there, and the sicknesses and diseases go into the other lake to the monster, so that it does not injure any one. And when the monster turns its other side upwards, the lake rises to the level of the peaks of the mountain, and he who sees it does not live a week. Seven years was Coemgen without food but nettles and sorrel; and for a long


period of years he never saw a single human being; and he would stand up to his waist in the lake saying his hours.

One time when Coemgen was reciting his hours, he dropped his psalter into the lake; and great grief and vexation seized him. And the angel said to him: ‘Do not grieve,’ said he. Afterwards an otter came to Coemgen bringing the psalter with him from the bottom of the lake, and not a line or letter was blotted (lit. drowned).

The angel told Coemgen to go to teach and preach {folio 275b} the word of God to the peoples, and not to hide himself any longer. There was a farmer in the Leinster district named Dimma, son of Fergna. He it was who was destined to find Coemgen. One of the farmer's cows lighted upon the saint, and licked his feet; and its (yield of) milk was extraordinarily greater than that of the other cows.

When Dimma heard of this, he sent the herdsman to find out how the cow came to have this abundance of milk. The herdsman found Coemgen in the hollow of a cave, and the cow licking his feet. Coemgen begged him to conceal him. ‘Not so,’ said the herdsman, ‘I must needs give a true account to Dimma.’ And Dimma extracted the account from him with difficulty; for Coemgen had promised him heaven in return for concealing him.

After this Dimma and his children went to the hollow in which Coemgen was; and they made a litter for him out of respect and honour. And the wood was thick, and it lay down upon the ground, leaving a broad road for the litter to pass; (and when it had passed) it rose up again through the mighty works of the angel. And Coemgen promised hell and a short life to any one who should burn either green wood or dry from this wood till doom.

One son of Dimma was a-hunting, and did not come to carry the patron saint. His own dogs slew him, and finally ate him. Coemgen brought the son to life again; and told his father and his brothers that they should always form part of Coemgen's family, and offer themselves to him, both men and cattle; and they were exiles from the region of Meath.

Coemgen blessed them after his wrath had passed away at their carrying him out of the hollow by force, as had been prophesied to them.

Coemgen ordained that the erenagh in his church {folio 276a} should be habitually of the children and posterity of Dimma, though they were exiles from Meath. Then Coemgen inhabited a chief monastery in the glen.

In the time of Lent Coemgen went into a wattled hut erected on a bare stone, standing in cross-vigil for six weeks for the sake of God. A blackbird perched on the saint's hand, and built a nest, (remaining there) till she hatched her young. The angel told Coemgen to leave the hut. Coemgen said: ‘It is no great thing for me to bear thus


much pain for the sake of Heaven's King, who bore every pain on behalf of Adam's seed upon the Cross of suffering.’

‘Come out of the hut,’ said the angel. ‘I will not come,’ said he, ‘till I obtain from God the freedom of my successors and my monks and of my tributaries, and the maintenance of my churches within and without.’ The angel gave to him seven times the full of the glen in the Day of Judgement, and a little spear of red gold in the hand of Coemgen. It is madness and folly in any one who hears the miracles of Coemgen, not to be under tribute to him, for God gave heaven to every one who should be buried in the mould of Coemgen; and God gave to him every Saturday nine to be rescued from pain of hell, if it be according to desert that it is considered.96 Every one, however, who shall die on Friday and be buried on a Saturday under the mould of Coemgen, shall receive remission for his soul.

For this cause many kings and chiefs among the kings of Erin, and of Britain, chose to be buried in Glendalough for love of God and Coemgen. There are relics of the apostles hard by Coemgen's hut to go with him to the judgement of doom in the presence of the Lord.

No single saint in Erin ever obtained more from God than Coemgen, save Patrick only; for Coemgen brought mould of Rome with him as I said. Moreover, Glendalough is one of the four best cemeteries (lit. Romes of burial) in Erin.

{folio 276b} One day Coemgen saw a young man running towards him, and he was a clerk. He recognized by his voice and appearance that he had committed the crime of murder. Coemgen conducted him back (to the scene of the crime) and found a young man dead, as I said before. And he brought him to life again, and made a monk of him.

Moreover, the things which sick and morbid folk had a desire and craving for, Coemgen would supply to them, such as blackberries in winter, apples on willow trees, and (would cause them) to find habitually sprigs of sorrel (growing) on rocks in winter time.

Some hunters passed through the glen and set their dogs at a wild boar, which rushed to the protection of Coemgen, and the feet of the dogs clave to the ground, so that they could not pursue their natural enemy while under the protection of the saint.

Now Colman son of Coirpre, son of Cormac, son of Ailill, son of Dunlang, son of Enda Nia, was chief of Ui Muiredach (at this


time). And sprites used to carry off his children by druidism. A son was born to him subsequently. He sent him to Coemgen to be baptized, and placed him under the protection of the saint. And Coemgen loved the infant, and took him as his foster-child afterwards.

There was shortness of milk in Glendalough at that time. Coemgen saw a doe and her fawn, and commanded her to give half her milk and lactage to his foster-child, Faelan son of Colman, from whom are (descended), the Clann Tuathail, that is the Ui Faelain. But a wolf came to the doe, and killed her fawn. Then Coemgen wrought great miracles. He commanded the wild wolf to take the place of the fawn with the doe. In the hollow stone which stands above Droichet na h-Eillte, (Bridge of the Doe) the doe would leave every day enough of her milk and {folio 277a} lactage to satisfy the child; and in this way was Faelan nourished by the wonderful works of God and Coemgen.

His tutor said to Coemgen: ‘We will not remain in the same place, for it has been prophesied of thee, that thou wouldest do great wonders.’ So thereupon he went his way.

One day when Coemgen had gone by reason of his youth to tend sheep, there came to him a band of needy starving men, to ask food of him for the honour of God. To protect his honour and modesty he killed eight wethers. Yet the number of the flock was none the less.

Coemgen was in Cell Iffin during Lent. An otter used to bring a salmon every day to the convent for their supply. It occurred to Cellach that a fine, splendid glove might be made of the otter's skin. The otter, though a (mere) brute beast, understood his thought; and from that time ceased to perform his service to the monks. When Cellach perceived this, he confessed his thought to Coemgen. Coemgen sent him to Cell Cellaig.

God saved the modesty of Coemgen at that time. The seed that was sown in Cell Iffin in the morning, would be ripe before evening. And thus ///were his monks supplied.

Some musicians came to Coemgen to ask food of him, and the saint had no food by him at the time. And he bade them wait for him. And they would not, but began insulting the clerk. Thereupon their wood instruments were turned into stones in punishment for the insult done to the saint; and the figures of them still remain on the causeway to the east of the place.

Two women were walking in the termon-land of Coemgen. Robbers fell in with them and murdered them, {folio 277b} and cut off their heads. Coemgen came upon them, and brought them to life again, and made black (i. e. Benedictine) nuns of them in his own church.

Coemgen foretold that treachery and murder would be committed in his church, and he foretold the ravaging of the church and of the


congregation. He promised punishment for all these things, to wit, short life, and hell at the last. And he chose four diseases to wreak vengeance on the body of every one who should outrage his church, or his successors, or his congregation; namely tumour, scrofula, anthrax, and madness; and no leech or physician can cure these diseases, save only the Healer, Jesus Christ.

Coemgen's successor has a right to his school, and folk to carry and guard his relics, and tribute in proportion to their means of every one of the Leinster men, whether high or low. Thus did Coemgen leave the protection of his fair and family (to every one) both high and low, both friends and foes; guarantees, and ownership, and protection to them all in coming and going, without summons, or question, or suit, or judgement, or action for debt by one against another, and so forth.

From the book of the priest, Roibned Purcell, was this small fragment of the life of Coemgen written the first time in Cloch Uateir near Leighlinn, in the province of Leinster, on the 16th day of September, 1629. And the same scribe, the poor friar Michael O'Clery, wrote it out a second time on this paper in the convent of the brethren on the Drowes the 5th97 day of September, 1629.


{folio 278a}

Life of Coemgen as written by a monk named Solomon who was his own disciple

  1. 1] Search made Coemgen through great part of Erin
    2] With the angel duly,
    3] To find a place in which to perform (ascetic) devotion;
    4] He did not rest till he found it.
  2. 5] Coemgen crossed the summits
    6] With the angel — 'twas great swiftness —
    7] He built a monastery among the glens;
    8] The heavenly Father blessed it from above.
  3. 9] Wherever Coemgen performed ascetic devotion,
    10] He planted Gaels beside him,
    11] Henceforth they fast dangerously
    12] Right often in the sacred dwelling.
  4. 13] A glen without threshing floor or corn rick,
    14] Only rugged rocks above it;
    15] (Yet) a glen where no one is refused entertainment,
    16] (For) the grace of the Lord is there.
  5. 17] A glen dreadful, monster-haunted, frightful,
    18] Glen da Loch (Glen of the two lakes) was (its name) once
    19] Finn of the hundred heroes prophesied,
    20] That it would be a cemetery at last.
  6. 21] Patrick the son of Calpurnius prophesied
    22] (Saying) that the glen of the cliffs pleased him,
    23] 'On the side of it, (in spite of) whoever shall reproach,
    24] A saint will make his abode there.'


  1. 1] Thirty years exactly
    2] After the prophecy of him by the tonsured one,
    3] Was the time that was born
    4] The saint named Coemgen.
  2. 5] The mother of the child did not feel
    6] Heartburn or pain in her conception;
    7] Women take him without question or vexation
    8] To Cronan to have him baptized.

  3. p.128

  4. 9] God sent an angel from heaven
    10] Before the infant was baptized,
    11] Who persuaded through pure intent
    12] That his name should be Coemgen.
  5. 13] The angel met the women,
    14] He said to them without contention:
    15] 'The loving God has persuaded me
    16] To come to baptize the infant.
  6. 17] 'God confides most in me
    18] In respect of the infant who will be a high saint;
    19] I am the mighty untiring angel,
    20] Who will be perpetually accompanying him.
  7. 21] 'Take up the infant, O women!
    22] It is I who entreat it,
    23] I will baptize it without ... without ...98
    24] In the high name of the Trinity.'
  8. 25] Twelve angels, as was fitting,
    26] God sent after them in his honour;{folio 278b}27] A taper of gold with pure flame
    28] Was in the hand of each angel.
  9. 29] This was his attendance from heaven,
    30] While his baptism was being performed;
    31] He who bound his lot aright,
    32] (Was) his own guardian angel.
  10. 33] This is the name which God fashioned in heaven,
    34] Which shall cleave to the child;
    35] Consider, O women of fair attendance,
    36] That this is his baptismal name, Coemgen.

  1. 1] ‘The angel said to the women:’
    2] ‘Do not neglect the matter of Cronan;’
    3] ‘Show the infant to him;’
    4] ‘He will tell you the truth.’
  2. 5] (Cronan said) ‘Why have ye brought, O women,’
    6] ‘Your little infant to me?’
    7] ‘Nobler than I is he who baptized him,’
    8] ‘So that I cannot do it.’

  3. p.133

  4. 9] ‘The baptism which the God of Heaven ordained’
    10] ‘Is that which was conferred upon the infant;’
    11] ‘His own angel knows it;’
    12] ‘'Tis he that will be at his disposal in perpetuity.’
  5. 13] Cronan made a prophecy
    14] And welcome for the infant,


    15] And said: ‘The lands shall be’
    16] ‘Zealously under Coemgen's tribute.’
  6. 17] ‘I give in behalf of the King of heaven’
    18] ‘Myself to thee specially,’
    19] ‘So that thy estimation may be greater with all men,’
    20] ‘If I am thy first servant.’
  7. 21] Then his own angel gave
    22] After this a wise commission;
    23] He was like the pure sun,
    24] Like strongly blazing fire.
  8. 25] When the business of the infant was finished,
    26] He was taken to his loving angel.
    27] The melodious gentle women take him
    28] With them to the fort in which he was born.
  9. 29] Sacred the fort in which Coemgen was born,
    30] 'Tis the grace of the infant which causes it;
    31] Never did frost nor snow conceal
    32] The sod on which he was brought forth.
  10. 33] The snow of winter when it comes,
    34] Hinders grazing for every one's kine;
    35] Through the grace of God in his (Coemgen's) fort unconcealed
    36] A herd will find abundant pasture.
  11. 37] There was further sent for his nourishment
    38] To the infant a pure white cow;
    39] A cow of which it was not known whence it came,
    40] Nor to what herd it went.
  12. {folio 279a}41] Till the hour of refection every Friday,
    42] And each privileged fast-day,
    43] The breasts of his mother, sacred the rule,
    44] He would only suck once.
  13. 45] There would come moreover to visit him
    46] His own angel delightfully;
    47] He would be continually perceiving
    48] That it was time for him to be put to study.
  14. 49] He parted from friends — better the business —
    50] His own angel guiding him;
    51] For seven years, it was a prosperous (?) craft,
    52] He was in an order of monks being instructed.

  15. p.130

  16. 53] He followed his order, though harsh the rule,
    54] He remained in retirement studying it;
    55] He received the noble orders of a priest;
    56] He acquired every serviceable accomplishment.
  17. 57] The angel said to him steadfastly:
    58] 'Here shall not be thine abiding,
    59] Remain not thus in a desert glen
    60] Of whom Finn prophesied.'
  18. 61] The prophecy of Finn was fulfilled,
    62] And that of Patrick son of Calpurnius;
    63] He reached the slope of the loughs afterwards,
    64] As was destined for Coemgen.
  19. 65] 'Now it is pleasant to my heart,
    66] I give thanks therefor to God,
    67] My going to the glen is a good fortress,
    68] And only my angel will be at my disposal.'
  20. 69] He was fleeing from the world,
    70] Fear of its peril possessed him;
    71] He would have preferred, had it not been wrong,
    72] To go from it forthwith to heaven.
  21. 73] Afterwards he slept not on a couch,
    74] But a pillow of hard stone under his head;
    75] As if every pasture were without hardness, (?)
    76] He was concealing himself in a hard hollow.
  22. 77] Coemgen was among stones
    78] On the border of the lake on a bare bed,
    79] With his slender side on a stone,
    80] In his glen without a booth over him.
  23. 81] Hard was his bed on the flag-stone,
    82] Stretched out till morning without beauty;
    83] He did not seek for anything easier in the world,
    84] Though it were harder (still), he would persevere in it.
  24. 85] In the dread valley of the branching trees
    86] Not beauteous was the clothing of the saint;
    87] (With) skins of wild animals about him,
    88] He would be among the mountains.
  25. 89] Coemgen would go on the broad pool
    90] Without boat or ferry daily,
    91] To say Mass on his skerry,
    92] A place well-pleasing to God.

  26. p.131

  27. 93] He would be with no one near him,
    94] All alone under the tops of the branches;
    95] The angels were his clerks,
    96] Right melodious to them was the service of the saint.
  28. 97] Fearless and undismayed he would be
    98] In his cave responding to God,
    99] And the lough below him like the ocean
    100] Scoring the rocks near by.
  1. 1] Dread was the monster of the miry lough
    2] In wreaking harm and slaughter;
    3] Often did it defeat the ‘fían’,
    4] And Finn himself with great terror.
  2. 5] Coemgen took up his position in the lough of the scald-crow
    6] Early, as was pleasing to God,
    7] And drove the monster into the lesser lake;
    8] It will not be listening to the canonical hours.
  3. 9] Coemgen would recite diligently
    10] His psalms around it early;
    11] The good saint expelled without any residue
    12] The drop-poison of the monster from the lough.
  4. 13] This was the baneful black lough
    14] In which was the furious monster;
    15] To-day it is the sacred wonder-working lough,
    16] Which overcomes every trouble.
  5. 17] Plagues were removed from the kine of the Gaels
    18] By Coemgen — holy was the scion —
    19] And (by) driving them through the lough to cleanse them,
    20] They do not carry their sickness away with them.
  6. 21] The gracious lough removes from them
    22] Their sickness with (its) great anguish,
    23] It (the sickness) goes into the stream towards (lit. to visit) the monster,
    24] Water without any residue (of the poison) remaining.


  1. 1] Strong was the bond which Coemgen imposed,
    2] He defeated the monster of the fair lough;
    3] He imprisoned tight and fast
    4] Its body in the lair in which it is.

  2. p.136

  3. 5] When turns from one side to the other
    6] Each year the monster that is there,
    7] The lough rises on high blood-red
    8] Level with the crags above it.

  4. p.132

  5. 9] (It is one) of the wonders of the lesser lough,
    10] (Great the danger to him who sees it,)
    11] Not another day nor night afterwards
    12] Will he remain alive.
  6. 13] 100Gidh iomdha na fagbála
    14] Do fhácc Caoimhgin 'na ghlendaibh
    15] Se féin ar tí a thárthála,
    16] Ar gach áon n-achar chennaigh.101
  7. {folio 279b}17] Seven years in tangled deserts
    18] Wert thou in gentle sort,
    19] Dwelling beside thy people,
    20] Without food, except (the fruits of) Cáel Fáithe.
  8. 21] Coemgen (was) for length of years
    22] Among deserts in woods,
    23] And he saw no man,
    24] Nor did any man see him there.


  1. 1] Far from his friends was Coemgen
    2] Steadfastly among the crags;
    3] Nobly and alone he saw the order
    4] Which was brought to the brink of the fair lough.
  2. 5] At night he would rise without fear
    6] To perform his devotion in his fort;
    7] There he would early recite his hours
    8] (Standing) habitually in the lough up to his girdle.
  3. 9] At the end of night on a surface of snow
    10] He would arise, as he was wont, early;
    11] After he had victoriously recited his psalms,
    12] His psalter fell into the lough.
  4. 13] The psalter fell headlong
    14] From (the hands) of Coemgen of the hard devotion,
    15] No letter nor lesson was the worse
    16] For (all) the water or gnawing which it got.102

  5. p.137

  6. 17] The angel came to converse
    18] With Coemgen full of grace;
    19] He remained with him till an otter brought
    20] His little book to him from the lough.
  7. 21] The holy angel said to him:
    22] ‘Thou shalt not be in the glen alone,’
    23] ‘Since it is thy destiny to be seen of men,’
    24] ‘Thou shalt not conceal thyself any longer.’.



  1. 1] There was a hundred-cow farmer
    2] On the borders of sea-girt Leinster;
    3] He was a prudent hero
    4] Named Dima son of Fergna.
  2. 5] To him it had been prophesied
    6] That he should light on Coemgen in the glen;
    7] It was not long after this
    8] That the patron saint was found by him there.
  3. 9] One of Dima's cows lighted
    10] On Coemgen in the hollow of a tree;
    11] An angel came to protect him,
    12] When he turned his back on men.
  4. 13] The cow did not remain on the pasture of the wilderness,
    14] But (was) licking the feet of the saint;
    15] She yielded more milk
    16] Than half the cows of the place where she was (put together).
  5. 17] Dima wondered greatly
    18] At the way the cow had grazed;{folio 280b}19] He bade his herdsman follow her,
    20] And find out for him the cause of it.
  6. 21] Dima told his household
    22] To follow the cow early;
    23] They did not find its track before them
    24] On the slope above Glendalough.
  7. 25] When the kine of Dima came
    26] Eagerly to graze in the glen,
    27] Their herdsman lighted on a fruitful tree,
    28] He found Coemgen easily in it.
  8. 29] There was offered by Coemgen to the herdsman
    30] A reward in return for concealing him from every one;
    31] He offers him heaven — he had power to do that —
    32] And not to go to pasture103 for ever.
  9. 33] ‘The cow of Dima comes,’, said the herdsman,,
    34] ‘Going backwards and forwards to thee in the glen;’
    35] ‘To conceal thee is not in (my) power’
    36] ‘After seeing thee clearly there.’.

  10. p.134

  11. 37] Sooner did the cow than the herdsman
    38] Find Coemgen in the green wood in which he was,
    39] She having remained with (Coemgen) continually,
    40] And returning home at night.
  12. 41] Not willingly did the herdsman confess,
    42] To Dima the movement of the cow,
    43] Till he bound him closely in his fort,
    44] So that he told the matter to him.
  13. 45] Dima said to his noble offspring
    46] That they would go to the glen where the cow was found,
    47] That they might bring with them the pure saint,
    48] And that they would all believe him.
  14. 49] In Dima's mind was great gladness
    50] That he should be found in his hollow in his (Dima's) time;
    51] He said to his children courteously:
    52] ‘Let us make neatly a litter for him’.

    There was.

  1. 1] ‘Fulfilled is now Finn's prophecy,’
    2] ‘And that of Patrick son of Calpurnius’
    3] Said Dima to them severally,
    4] ‘And it is we who have found the promised one.’
  2. 5] ‘O Coemgen, to us was the destiny,’
    6] ‘To bear thee from thy little hollow;’
    7] ‘Let us go forth further into the glen’
    8] ‘In which thou wilt be without limit or end.’.
  3. 9] As he went in his course through the trees,
    10] Dima spoke the gracious matter,
    11] That the litter should not be allowed to be destroyed
    12] Through the thick compact wood.
  4. 13] Then the trees of the oak wood bow themselves
    14] To the generous scion — divine was the vision —
    15] Through the miracles of the patron saint lay down
    16] The forest, and rose up again.
  5. {folio 281a}
  6. 17] To Coemgen to be at his disposal came
    18] The noble angel, as he was wont;
    19] He kept the green wood prostrate
    20] Till he (Coemgen) found a straight road through it.
  7. 21] Hell and shortness of life
    22] Coemgen bequeathed to any one
    23] Till doom, who should burn either its fresh wood
    24] Or its dry wood from thenceforth.

  8. p.135

  9. 25] They lift Coemgen into the litter
    26] The children of Dima of the fierce onset,
    27] Till he reached the bottom of the glen,
    28] Where he performed the functions of his order.
  10. 29] The saint wrought a miracle forthwith
    30] On the most mad son of Dima,
    31] The one who opposed his full will,
    32] He brought his body to a cruel pass.
  11. 33] He left not his hunting for the patron saint,
    34] The insensate Dima son of Dima;
    35] Inasmuch as he did not believe on him — it was no prosperous omen —
    36] He became a portion for his own hounds.
  12. 37] Have ye heard of Cellach son of Dima,
    38] How he died unweariedly in suffering (lit. on the cross)?
    39] Coemgen, with his gifts of grace, sent him
    40] To his home alive again.
  13. 41] Though he found that the litter was destroying him,
    42] Not the slower was his rush in his course;
    43] 'Twas Coemgen helped him, though he died;
    44] He did not give up his effort through faintness.
  14. 45] When the youth had arisen from death,
    46] The first word he said to every one (was):
    47] ‘The man who rescued me from every need,’
    48] ‘I will not forsake him till the judgement comes.’
  15. 49] This counsel he gave to his friends,
    50] His speech was pleasing to Coemgen;
    51] They came gently to entreat him,
    52] And his heart was full of their love.


  1. 1] ‘O Dima, seeing that to thee it was destined’
    2] ‘To bring me out of my little hollow,’
    3] ‘Desert me not through any other matter,’
    4] ‘For no lie was the prophecy.’
  2. 5] ‘Though against my will ye have brought’
    6] ‘Myself from my little hollow in the tree,’
    7] ‘Yet will I show kindness’
    8] ‘To thee and to thy offspring’.
  3. 9] ‘If my counsel were performed,’
    10] ‘There would be help with you moreover;’
    11] ‘My church and my coarb-ship (would be)
    12] ‘With the Leinstermen habitually.’.

  4. p.136

  5. 13] Dima said — a stranger was he
    14] From afar, from the regions of Meath — {folio 281b}15] ‘Here are we to do the will’
    16] ‘Of thee, O tonsured one of the King of Heaven.’
  6. 17] ‘All that we have (is thine)
    18] ‘to support thee Against the unquiet world;’
    19] ‘Here are we to entreat thee’
    20] ‘To build thy city (monastery).’.
  7. 21] Great questioning with the sons of Dima
    22] Held Coemgen in his hollow,
    23] As to going with them and with their father
    24] And quitting his accustomed seat.
  8. 25] Coemgen heard the questioning of the sons
    26] And the cause by which they might gain his love;
    27] Coemgen forgave to the son of Fergna
    28] Earnestly the wrong which they had done.
  9. 29] Lo, here is what they established,
    30] The descendants of Dima with Coemgen;
    31] He gave them all that they entreated
    32] Till the end of the world shall come.
  10. 33] ‘At a time when men were few’
    34] ‘On this side of the world,’,
    35] ‘God granted,’, said Coemgen,
    36] ‘That a stranger should come to my help.’.
  11. 37] Coemgen makes erenachs
    38] Of the seed of the fair kings;
    39] He did not forsake them, though it was lawful;
    40] They were the true foundation of his church.
  12. 41] ‘It is I, Coemgen, that will protect them,’
    42] ‘The seed of which the men came’;
    43] To Dima — since near their kinship —
    44] To his steward he gave what he asked.

    O Dima.

  1. 1] Coemgen used to perform a kind of devotion,
    2] Such as no saint before was ever wont to do;
    3] He would go into a pen every Lent,
    4] A decision from which he found profit from God.
  2. 5] He would stand on a rough bare flag-stone,
    6] Though the cold hurt his feet;
    7] The chant of angels was round about him,
    8] To him in his strong pen it was refection.

  3. p.137

  4. 9] A fortnight and a month without food,
    10] Or somewhat longer, was he, though great the effort
    11] Suddenly a blackbird hopped from a branch,
    12] And made a nest in the hand of the saint.
  5. 13] Coemgen remained in the pen
    14] Alone, though great was the pain,
    15] And the nest of the blackbird on his palm,
    16] Till her birds were hatched.
  6. 17] God sent an angel to say
    18] To Coemgen of the hard devotion,
    19] That he should go out of his narrow pen promptly
    20] To fight against the wretched world.
  7. {folio 282a}21] ‘Alas 'tis a pain more than the requital,’
    22] ‘My hand like a log under the blackbird;’
    23] ‘The blood of His hands, of His side, of His feet,’
    24] ‘The King of Heaven shed for my sake.’.
  8. 25] The angel said expressly:
    26] ‘Thou shalt not be torturing thyself any longer;’
    27] ‘Depart from thy bondage without delay,’
    28] ‘Thy business is ready with God.’.
  9. 29] Coemgen said to the angel:
    30] ‘From my captivity I will not go before my time,’
    31] ‘Till I obtain for my tributaries’
    32] ‘Freedom from Jesus the Son of God.’.
  10. 33] ‘Thou shalt have that,’ said the angel,
    34] ‘Go forth from thy bondage without making excuse;’
    35] ‘Seven times the full of thy glens on every side’
    36] ‘Shall be under thy judgement in the day of doom.’
  11. 37] This was the reward of Coemgen,
    38] As the Gaels shall hear in his day;
    39] He will receive in the day of doom without delay
    40] All that was promised to him.
  12. 41] Whatever matter God granted to Coemgen,
    42] And his angel asked for in heaven,
    43] He gives to him to-day without dishonour
    44] In perpetuity whatever he sought.
  13. 45] God gave power to Coemgen
    46] Such as He gave not104 to every saint in the world,
    47] That he should be strong in His assemblies,
    48] Where the children of Adam will be trembling.

  14. p.138

  15. 49] When the judgement of doom shall come,
    50] Dread will be the power over every one;
    51] The people of the glen will not be decreed to imprisonment,
    52] But (will be) like mist on the tops of twigs.
  16. 53] Coemgen takes with him to paradise
    54] His own true family without condition;
    55] After the judgement of the mighty King,
    56] And (with) a spear of red gold in his hand.
  17. 57] This is the high banner of Coemgen,
    58] Each one would be the better who shall have it
    59] In his hand nobly at the day of judgement,
    60] The company would be pleasing to God.
  18. 61] Whoever has heard of the might of Coemgen,
    62] If during his life in the world
    63] He is not tributary to the patron saint,
    64] He never committed greater folly.

    Coemgen used.

  1. 1] God granted to him everything he asked
    2] Till the end of the world comes;
    3] He granted heaven to the soul of every fair body
    4] That should be (buried) under the pure soil of Coemgen.
  2. 5] On every noble Saturday nine
    6] Of the souls of his tributaries{folio 282b}7] Go with fair pleadings
    8] Among the holy angels of Jesus.
  3. 9] Whoever is buried on Saturday
    10] Under the wall of the true prince,
    11] They will be free from hell truly
    12] In their death on Friday.
  4. 13] The kings of Erin chose
    14] And her queens customarily
    15] To be buried in his noble church,
    16] Where are triumphs till doom.
  5. 17] There are the relics of the bishops
    18] Under the soil till the day of the vast judgement;
    19] Near the pen of Coemgen of the devotion,
    20] Till they go with him in the assemblies.
  6. 21] To go with him in the Day of Judgement,
    22] This was their hearts' desire,
    23] And that their cause should be with Coemgen,
    24] For angels will be awaking him.

  7. p.139

  8. 25] The angels used to follow him
    26] In his life (lit. business) under the tops of the bushes;
    27] He was the true fount unfailing,
    28] 'Twas afar that his miracles were heard.
  9. 29] Afar were the miracles of Coemgen heard
    30] Throughout Erin, east and west;
    31] God never did for any other saint
    32] Of them all more than He did for him.
  10. 33] Coemgen went to the court of Rome,
    34] And brought back with him the wondrous earth,
    35] And received openly from the pope
    36] (Right of) pilgrimage and excellent honour.
  11. 37] Great is the pilgrimage of Coemgen,
    38] If men should perform it aright;
    39] To go seven times to his fair is the same
    40] As to go once to Rome.

    God granted.

  1. 1] It is thy church with its hundreds,
    2] O pleasant, furrowed (?) Coemgen,
    3] That is a Rome of Latium without mire
    4] In the west of the hovel-like world.
  2. 5] In the four quarters of Erin
    6] They desired to go aright
    7] On their errand to Coemgen's pilgrimage,
    8] To take part in their fairs which he established (lit. made).
  3. 9] Coemgen brought with him the earth of Rome,
    10] To place it triumphantly in his cemeteries;
    11] And he made of his fair glen without concealment
    12] A church of saints on whom the hosts believe.
  4. 13] One of the four havens for cleansing souls
    14] The best that exist across the sea to the west,
    15] (Patrick and Finn prophesied it),
    16] Coemgen sought out for his friends.
  5. {folio 283a}17] Glendalough would be full of angels,
    18] The glen of the hard troublous fight;
    19] A glen which God did not despise,
    20] A glen which is the Lord's very own.
  6. 21] High above every church is the seat of Coemgen,
    22] The (bond of) alliance between Leinster and Leth Cuinn;
    23] A place triumphant with its cemeteries, wild,
    24] Lofty, compact, with its harbours and woods.

  7. p.140

  8. 25] Great is the character of the church of Coemgen,
    26] Sad the story that Gaels should be devouring it;
    27] A gracious Rome, city of the angels,
    28] Rightly did his hand bless it.
  9. 29] There he made the beginning of his devotion,
    30] Before any saint ventured on it;
    31] And he made of the glen of the sharp-weaponed fíans
    32] A church in which there would be no mean fair.
  10. 33] The glory of Leinster is the fair of Coemgen,
    34] The triumph of the Gaels, 'tis a goodly show,
    35] Though any one should search through the sorrowful world,
    36] (He would find) every fair a sorry thing compared with it.
  11. 37] Whoever shall spend aught on my fair
    38] For the love of Coemgen, as is fit,
    39] (Long) life, and luck and ease,
    40] And heaven at last (shall be) his reward.
  12. 41] He left with his school of melodious monks,
    42] And with the clerks of his relics,
    43] The collection of his tribute without enslavement,
    44] Since God gave freedom for his sake.
  13. 45] No fight may be dared at his fair,
    46] Nor challenge of wrong nor of rights,
    47] No quarrel, nor theft, nor rapine,
    48] But going and coming in security.
  14. 49] To whoever should violate his fair,
    50] Coemgen left — no weak force —
    51] Hell and shortness of life,
    52] And never to be free from danger till doom.
  15. 53] Three glories Coemgen procured
    54] For the host of his lively fair,
    55] Heaven and (long) life, and health,
    56] And welcome from God, as he requested.
  16. 57] Coemgen desired to be in the desert
    58] To be satiated by the fair angel;
    59] He remained under the crags of the rocks,
    60] Many other quarters he explored.
  17. 61] Here are some of the doings of Coemgen,
    62] The God of Heaven was not displeased with them;
    63] And the angels (were) directing him,
    64] And instructing him as he explored.

  18. p.141

  19. 65] I am Solomon, pupil of Coemgen,
    66] I was in danger in the eastern land,{folio 283b}67] When my tutor came to my help,
    68] 'Tis a large part of the world that he searched.

    It is.

  1. 1] Though many be the bequests
    2] Which Coemgen bequeathed in his glens,
    3] He himself strove to protect them
    4] For every one for whom he acquired (lit. bought) them.
  2. 5] There is no tradition of ancient men,
    6] And no learned men among them;
    7] Nothing is now there regarded,
    8] Except that their robe be fine and elegant.
  3. 9] Neither asceticism nor celebration105
    10] Do the clerks perform in their churches;
    11] They are (all) through the evil of their mind
    12] Intent on destroying one another.
  4. 13] There are far more foreigners in his church
    14] Than native erenaghs;106
    15] Their true origin has gone
    16] With his miracles into oblivion (lit. stifling).
  5. 17] There the triumphs and miracles
    18] Of Coemgen (are) unknown in their history,
    19] Because there no longer remain narrators
    20] To tell of their virtues.
  6. 21] But unless they are found written
    22] On paper in other lands,
    23] It is certain that they will be forgotten
    24] In the sanctuary of Coemgen of the glen.
  7. 25] The young clerics of every holy church
    26] Go with the relics continually,
    27] Not like Coemgen of the glen,
    28] With his relics in decay (?) till doom.
  8. 29] For he himself when alive bequeathed
    30] (Some) of his miracles — sacred the cause —
    31] His relics are stored up;
    32] To leave them needlessly is strange.

  9. p.142

  10. 33] Give an offering to the young clerk
    34] By whom the relics are being carried,
    35] For the love of the great saint without reproach,
    36] 'And thou shalt receive deliverance (lit. acknowledgement) when thou art plundered.
  11. 37] Here is the vengeance belonging to the relics of Coemgen,
    38] Woe to him who goes to swear by them without excuse;
    39] They leave permanently, if there be occasion,
    40] Their trace furiously upon every one (who does so).
  12. 41] Woe to him who hastily incurs
    42] A curse from the relics of Coemgen;
    43] Unless there be a doomed man who prefers
    44] To quit the world without delay.
  13. 45] Whoever it be that shall be smitten
    46] By the fingers of my monks with my relics,
    47] Whether it be prince of Fal with power (?)
    48] Or ecclesiastic, or servant;
  14. {folio 284a}49] If it be a curse direct,
    50] It will split stock and stone,
    51] (Even) if he be for awhile in his usual form,
    52] He will be a weakling who shall not be comely.
  15. 53] If my church be outraged —
    54] Which will be a danger to kings —
    55] Their punishment yonder (in the next world) is certain.
    56] And shortness to their life (here).

    Though many.

  1. 1] ‘Whatever wrong was done,’
    2] ‘Is being done, or shall be done,’
    3] ‘Vengeance for it falls unerringly’
    4] ‘On the might of him by whom it is done.’.
  2. 5] Coemgen made this stave
    6] (Not falsely did he make it)
    7] To leave freedom to his poor
    8] Against the evils of every period.
  3. 9] The Gaels left honour
    10] To Coemgen without (exacting) due or tribute;
    11] The church to which they gave freedom
    12] Is reduced to slavery again.
  4. 13] There will come a time at the end of the world,
    14] Though to me it will be a sore trespass,
    15] When my beloved church will be ravaged,
    16] And will be left under its full of treachery.

  5. p.143

  6. 17] ‘I will come after the ravaging,’
    18] ‘I, Coemgen, with the might of my wrath107;’
    19] ‘Their kings shall not remain in this world,’
    20] ‘And I will take vengeance for their expedition.’
  7. 21] ‘Afterwards I will slay without quarter’
    22] ‘Them on the peak on high;’
    23] ‘Woe to him who incurs before going thither,’
    24] ‘Shortness of life and hell.’
  8. 25] ‘Every king who breaks our compact,’
    26] ‘And does not fulfil to me what he promised,’
    27] ‘Shall be dragged among devils,’
    28] ‘And his soul tortured in the next world.’
  9. 29] ‘Every king who dies in submission to me,’
    30] ‘I will be there myself to meet him,’
    31] ‘And I will give welcome to his soul’
    32] ‘Through the kindness wherewith he protects the church.’


  1. 1] Coemgen chose four diseases,
    2] Not for his friend did he do it,
    3] (But) to bind the ravagers of his church,
    4] To destroy them all by his will.
  2. 5] Ulcer, and scrofula,
    6] White anthrax with great destruction,
    7] Madness which brings ruin to hosts,
    8] Through the virtues of (his) relics and bells.
  3. 9] These are the cruel diseases
    10] For which they find no surgery (lit. cutting) here;{folio 284b}11] The man whom they (these diseases) wound,
    12] No leech or herb can help.
  4. 13] A spark which burns stock and stone,
    14] And checks the noise of every fierce stream
    15] (Is) the wrath of Coemgen on every servant
    16] Who shall ravage his high church.
  5. 17] He will place the sign of the church
    18] On the gentiles of Glen Giadail;
    19] Their faces turned backwards behind them,
    20] He will not conceal them from the desires of the devil.

  6. p.144

  7. 21] Strong moreover is the might
    22] Which God the Father conferred on Coemgen,
    23] To drive awandering the wretches
    24] Who treat not his holy church as sanctuary.108
  8. 25] The Gaels shall not hastily desert
    26] The honour of Coemgen without exacting it;
    27] (If they do), he will leave them feeble,
    28] (And) sorrowful above every Gael.
  9. 29] Woe to the Gael who admits into his camp
    30] The plunder of Coemgen of the hard asceticism;
    31] He tramples on his prosperity and fortune,
    32] All his good goes from him (and is turned) into misfortune.
  10. 33] He (i. e. Coemgen) gives short life to their body,
    34] And their soul to the black devil;
    35] Diseases for which there is no healing
    36] In the presence of the multitude he inflicts.

    Coemgen chose.

  1. 1] His tutor was angry with Coemgen —
    2] For long the matter was not forgotten —
    3] Because he did not bring fire with nimble diligence
    4] To him for the saying of Mass.
  2. 5] A vessel in which he might bring it to him
    6] He asked of his tutor, and did not obtain it:
    7] ‘If thou findest no other place,’
    8] ‘Bring the fire with thee in thy bosom.’
  3. 9] In accord with his tutor's bidding
    10] Did Coemgen through love, and he brought
    11] To him, since he flinched not from the embers,109
    12] As much of them as he could carry in his bosom.
  4. 13] He who put heat into the fire,
    14] (Conceal it now from none,)
    15] The angel came to help him,
    16] And protected the thread (of his garment) from burning.
  5. 17] ‘To thee He listened, and not to me,’
    18] ‘It is thou who art dearer to God;’
    19] ‘Thou art full of the Holy Spirit,’
    20] ‘I will not be beside thee (any longer).’

  6. p.145

  7. {folio 285a}21] ‘It is clear that there is, as I hoped,’
    22] ‘Love of thee in perpetuity with God;’
    23] ‘Since the course of our sacred converse is not the same,’
    24] ‘We will not be in the same place any longer.’
  8. 25] Excellent of guidance to Coemgen
    26] That an angel of God was his guide
    27] Both by day and by night,
    28] To bring him to the royal mansion in which he shall be.
  9. 29] This was the beginning of his career,
    30] To Coemgen without error or deceit;
    31] God sent the angel to help him,
    32] And he protected him from wrong and wrath.

    His tutor.

  1. 1] One day when he himself was going,
    2] Coemgen, with his sheep onto the hill,
    3] There came to him a troop of poor men,
    4] Starving for want of food.
  2. 5] As soon as ever they came to him,
    6] They asked alms for the love of God;
    7] Coemgen answered regretfully
    8] That there in the wilderness he had no food.
  3. 9] They set out to go at once
    10] Without delaying at his request,
    11] He stopped them for refection — divine was the means —
    12] And gave them food abundantly.
  4. 13] He gave the seven wethers to the poor,
    14] Coemgen, without any defect in the tale of them;
    15] Not diminished was the herd when numbered,
    16] And God saved him Himself from shame.
  1. 1] To the monks each single day
    2] A little otter — great its kindness —
    3] In Cell Iffin without early delay (?)
    4] Brought a salmon during the whole of Lent.
  2. 5] When Cellach sees the otter
    6] Bringing a salmon for the community,
    7] He thought that it would be good for the church
    8] To make a glove of its skin.
  3. 9] It brought dispersal on the saints
    10] The thing which Cellach had consented to;
    11] Thenceforth the otter made off
    12] And brought no salmon to the monk.

  4. p.146

  5. 13] Cellach confessed his sins
    14] To the nobly wise elders;
    15] Afterwards, though hard the judgement,
    16] Coemgen sent Cellach away.


  1. 1] Coemgen made a prosperous device
    2] For his monks because of their goodness,
    3] To free himself from shame,
    4] And from the complaint of the mercenaries.
  2. {folio 285b}
  3. 5] The seed that was sown in the morning
    6] In Cell Iffin — divine was the grace —
    7] From it without withering at night
    8] Were fed the elders in turn.
  4. 9] More than foolish the musicians
    10] Who would not stop with Coemgen at his request;
    11] When they did not find food prepared,
    12] They refused to remain as he arranged.
  5. 13] Coemgen made stones
    14] Of their sweet-voiced wooden instruments,
    15] And brought sorrow on the men who played them,
    16] Who did despite to him which gained nought.
  6. 17] Foolish was it of the musicians
    18] Who did not remain steadfastly to be satisfied;
    19] Their wooden instruments are — not as an offering —
    20] Turned into a little stone-heap under the feet of all.
  7. 21] He did not give them a decree of refusal,
    22] But they went away of their own free will;
    23] Well did this protect Coemgen from shame,
    24] And a theme of laughter he made.

    Coemgen made.

  1. 1] To Coemgen for baptism was sent
    2] By the good king of Ui Faelain his son,
    3] And to be with him as his foster-child,
    4] To him he desired that he should go.
  2. 5] There were neither cows nor boolies
    6] With the people who were in the glen,
    7] From which they might get milk for the foster-child,
    8] There was scarceness of milk there.
  3. 9] Coemgen saw a doe
    10] And a little fawn following her;
    11] He prayed to God for half her milk
    12] To nourish his fosterling.

  4. p.147

  5. 13] The doe came to the place
    14] To the monk — an unaccustomed thing —
    15] To the gentle fawn and to his foster-child it gave
    16] Their fill of milk exactly.
  6. 17] It would drop its milk completely
    18] Into a hollow stone till it was full;
    19] This is the name of the place distinctly,
    20] 'The Doe's Milking-stead,' from that time forth.
  7. 21] One day when it came from the crag,
    22] Though long (the distance) it came in a short time,
    23] A wretch of a ravening wolf killed
    24] The one fawn of the doe, and ate it.
  8. 25] A miracle was wrought by Coemgen
    26] On the wolf, though hideous its appearance,
    27] He put under the doe actually
    28] The wolf in place of the fawn.
  9. 29] The doe would remain motionless
    30] With the holy monk beside her,
    31] And the wolf before her,
    32] As if she were giving suck to her fawn.
  10. {folio 286a}33] Caineog, a fairy witch,
    34] Followed the king's son thither;
    35] She and her company of women, (turned) into stone,
    36] Are there above the lough of the churches.
  11. 37] The fairy folk carried off the children
    38] Of the king, though strong the tower;
    39] (But) this child to be baptized to Coemgen
    40] Through fear of the fairies he sent.


  1. 1] The heads of two women upon their trunks
    2] Coemgen did plainly set,
    3] He brought them back safe from death to life,
    4] Though the field was full of their blood.
  2. 5] ‘O Coemgen, who earnest so promptly’
    6] ‘To bring us back safe from a violent death,110
    7] ‘We will be at thy will while we remain,’
    8] ‘And will not part from thee all our lifetime.’
  3. 9] Coemgen brought home alive
    10] The women whose heads had been cut off,
    11] And made of them black nuns
    12] Devout and proper in his church.

  4. p.148

  5. 13] Thus he remedied the murder
    14] Which enemies did in his church;
    15] After all the evils which they (the women) received,
    16] He welded their heads to their bodies.

    The heads.

  1. 1] Coemgen the fitting, the mindful, saw
    2] A poor clerk, though evil was his appearance,
    3] Come running across the crags,
    4] His voice was trembling on his lips (lit. head).
  2. 5] Coemgen recognized the voice of a sinner,
    6] Though he had never seen him before,
    7] He perceived clearly by his snarl
    8] That he had killed his companion on the hill.
  3. 9] ‘O clerk who didst not shrink from (lit. refuse) murder,’
    10] ‘'Tis no wonder though ill be thy look;’
    11] ‘Guide me to the cliff’
    12] ‘On which thou didst leave thy companion dead.’
  4. 13] Had Coemgen not come at that time,
    14] Wolves would have eaten his body;
    15] As his soul came (again) into the dead man,
    16] 'Tis clear that he (Coemgen) made good his injury.
  5. 17] Coemgen found his profit in this matter;
    18] He helped him against the wolves though fierce,
    19] He took them111 to his house — it was a prosperous omen —
    20] And made of them monks in (his) order.
  6. 21] The first time that Coemgen came across the mountain
    22] And remained in solitude under thatch,
    23] There was store of contests on the skerry,
    24] Many a wonder he saw there.

    He saw.

  1. 1] Fruits that are healing to men
    2] Coemgen left for them,
    3] To whomsoever they shall come,
    4] It will not be long before he gets help.

  2. p.153

  3. 5] Blackberries in winter,
    6] Apples of a sallow branch.
    7] And shoots from the rock
    8] Which heal sicknesses without delay.

  4. p.149

  5. 9] They remain — and great is the marvel113
    10] Often has it been proved,
    11] Blackberries from a root
    12] Which grows on rough rocks.
  6. {folio 286b}
  7. 13] They are not found at this time
    14] In other parts of the world,
    15] (Nor) shoots growing on stones,
    16] But (only) on the brink of Coemgen's lough.
  8. 17] God gave openly to Coemgen
    18] That they should grow on rocks in the winter
    19] Methinks 'tis a cause of joy,
    20] The fruits that are healing to men.
  1. 1] Great was the speed of the wild boar
    2] With the hounds yelping at him all day long;
    3] When the hour of its danger came,
    4] It took refuge with Coemgen.
  2. 5] Coemgen easily wrought
    6] At once upon the dogs
    7] The binding of their feet to the ground,
    8] That they should follow was not likely.
  3. 9] When the hunters came
    10] To the glens to seek their hounds,
    11] They wondered, and without wounding them to death,
    12] By what contrivance he had bound them.
  4. 13] They marvelled much at the miracle,
    14] And all men marvelled much,
    15] That a wild boar in peril
    16] Should take refuge with Coemgen.
  5. 17] ‘Release our hounds, O Coemgen;’
    18] ‘After we have given satisfaction for it,’
    19] ‘Here for thyself without oppression’
    20] ‘Is the boar; great was the speed.’
  6. . . . (Something wanting.)
  7. Great.

  1. 1] ‘O monk yonder, what is the reason’
    2] ‘That thou art so hard upon us?’
    3] ‘They are not cheeses but webs (of cloth)’
    4] ‘That we carry on our back.’

  2. p.150

  3. 5] The cheeses were concealed by the women
    6] From the saint, though foolish the proceeding;
    7] And Coemgen made of the white curds
    8] Stones as a reproach to the women.
  4. 9] Coemgen was pleased to see this,
    10] To deceive him was no good matter;
    11] The cheeses turned to stones
    12] Are on the hillock for all to see.
  5. 13] To the work people Cellach meeted out
    14] Their hire in pure silver;
    15] Coemgen was displeased with their answer,
    16] And punished the contention of the women.

    O monk




Here is the Life of Coemgen of Glendalough, as written by a monk named Solomon who was his own disciple, and written here leisurely by me, Hugh O Daly, the 21st day of January 1725 A.D. in the town of Dublin.

There was a patron saint, noble, distinguished, steadfast, devout, well disposed, pure, abstinent, prayerful, radiant, blessed, whose name was Coemgen. He came of the noble and distinguished royal blood of the Dal Meisenchorb, son of Cucorb, son of Mug Corb, son of Conchubar Abrat-ruad (Red-brow), son of Finnfile, son of Rus Ruad (the Red), son of Fergus Fairrge (of the Sea), son of Nuada Necht, son of Setna Sithbac (of the long elbows), son of Lugaid Lethfinn (White-side), son of Bresal Brec (the Speckled), &c.

And it is this Coemgen who is the patron saint of115 Glendalough in Leinster, in the sorrel-plain of Coemgen. And it was (one sign) of the sanctity of Coemgen that his mother at the time of his birth did not notice any heartburn or pain or sickness from it. After his birth women were sent with him to visit St. Cronan for his baptism, and after the women had set out with the child to go to Cronan, an angel revealed himself to them, and bade them notify Cronan that he was to be named Coemgen. And when he came116 a into the presence of Cronan, he took the child in his arms and baptized him, and gave him the name of Coemgen, in accordance with the angel's command, and explained to the women that this was an appropriate name for him by the will and ordinance of God, as Solomon the Monk says, who was Coemgen's disciple, by whom this life was written:

    1. 1] This is the name which God fashioned in heaven,
      2] Which shall cleave to the child;
      3] Consider, O women of fair attendance,
      4] That this is his baptismal name, Coemgen.
And the same author says that twelve angels who came from heaven revealed themselves to Cronan as he was baptizing Coemgen,


with a bright taper in the hand of each angel; as says the same Solomon:
    1. 1] 'Twelve angels, as was fitting,
      2] God sent from on high in his honour;
      3] And a taper with pure flame
      4] Was in the hand of each angel.

Now after the baptism the women take Coemgen with them to the fort in which he was born, and the fort is called Raith an Tobair ghil (the Fort of the white fountain), and there he was nurtured for seven years. Moreover, it is to be reckoned as a marvel, that while he was at his mother's breasts, he would only suck them once on Fridays and other fast-days, and that at evening. It is also marvellous, that on the fort in which he was born no snow would lie, but would melt at once.

After he had spent seven years, he was sent to a convent of monks to be taught, and instructed in manners, and he spent a considerable period of time among them, until he was of age to be a priest; and after receiving ecclesiastical orders, he meditated {MS page 148} in his mind to forsake the world and the society of men, and to lead a solitary eremitic life on the desert ocean, or on some very retired cliff, so that the world might have no share in any of his motions.

As he was setting out, an angel came to aid him, by whom he was guided to the crags which are on the western side of the two loughs which are in Glendalough; where he had no food but the nuts of the wood, and the herbs of the earth, and fair water for drink, and for bed, only a pillow of stone under his head, and a flag-stone under him, and a flag-stone at each side of him, and there was not even a booth117 over him; and further, his clothes were the skins of wild animals; and he would often go to the crag and to the cave called Coemgen's bed, and he would pray long and fervently to God.

And he would return thence by the wood called Gael Faithe to the north of the lough; and he would be a long time in the lough up to his waist reciting his hours, sometimes by day, sometimes by night; and he spent seven years in this manner in solitude (far) from the society of men, as Solomon says118:

    1. 1] Seven years in tangled deserts
      2] Was he in gentle sort
      3] Dwelling beside his people
      4] Without food in Gael Faithe.

After he had been a long time on this wise, it happened that he went, as he was wont, into the lough, at the end of a snowy


night, and as he was reciting his psalms the psalter {MS page 149} fell into the lough, and sank some distance in it; and the angel came to help him. Thereupon an otter came bringing him his book in its mouth. And the angel told him to return to the society of men, and not to conceal himself from them any longer; and he returned from the barren wilderness, where he had previously been wont to dwell, with drawing and hiding himself on crags of rock and in hollows for119 a long time on this wise.

It happened about this time that a hundred-cow farmer120 in Leinster near the glen in which Coemgen was, came from Meath on a grazing tour; and the name of the farmer was Dima son of Fergna. And as Patrick prophesied long before the birth of Coemgen that a saint like to himself should come who would be the patron of121 Glendalough, so God granted that it should be this Dima who discovered him, after he had been concealing himself from men, as we said above.

And this is the way in which he was discovered. A herd of Dima's cows was grazing in the wood in which Coemgen was concealing himself; and one of the cows found her way to the hollow in which the saint was being comforted by the angel, and the cow kept licking his feet all the day, and at evening when she returned home with the rest of the cows, as much milk was milked from her as was got from half the herd. And as often as the herd went into that wood, the same cow would go and lick Coemgen's feet, and after coming home in the evening, would yield a like quantity of milk.

When Dima and all his company remarked this, great wonder and astonishment possessed him and all the rest122; and he told the herdsman to observe the cow on the morrow, and {MS page 150} follow her closely, so that he might know in what part of the wood was the excellent pasture which caused the cow to yield such abundant milk.

As to the herdsman, he drove the cows on the morrow to the wood where Coemgen was, and followed the cow straight till the cow reached the hollow where St. Coemgen was, with the herds man immediately behind. And when he came into Coemgen's presence, he found him weak and feeble, without power to walk or move, his bodily force being crushed123 through the extent of his asceticism and of the mortification124 of his body by fasting and prayer, and lying on bare flag-stones with no booth or shelter over him.

And when he saw the herdsman, he started, and begged him as a special boon not to reveal to any one in the world that he was in that hollow. I cannot do that, said the herdsman, since thou hast been discovered by me, and this cow of Dima's has been


going backwards and forwards to visit thee every day, and (seeing) that it was enjoined on me to follow the cow125, that I might find out whence came the abundant milk which she yields; as Solomon says in the stave overleaf: {MS page 151}
    1. 1] ‘After the cow of Dima’, said the herdsman,
      2] ‘(Has been) going backwards and forwards to thee in the glen,’
      3] ‘To conceal thee is not in my power,’
      4] ‘Now that thou hast been seen clearly by me.’

After the herdsman had returned to the presence of Dima, he tried to conceal the saint; and Dima was angry at that, and ordered the herdsman to be bound in hard bondage, till he told him how he discovered Coemgen in the hollow of a tree. And when Dima heard this, great joy possessed him, and he told his children to make a litter, and (said) that they would go to meet the saint, and that they would believe on him;

and that this was he of whom Finn had prophesied long before, that he would be the patron of126 that place. So the litter was got ready by them, and they set or.t, Dima and his children, and went through the wood carrying the litter; and the herdsman guided them to the hollow where the saint was. And in asmuch as the road was rough and thick,127 Dima begged Coemgen to pray to God to make level a passage through the wood; and Coemgen prayed earnestly (lit. became sharp in his prayer) to God begging that He would make level a passage before them, that the children of Dima might be able to carry him to the glen, where he was minded to build a church and a place of residence for himself. And the wood bent on either side, so that an easy practicable pass was made through it; and thereupon Dima and his children carried Coemgen with them in the litter. {MS page 152} And in this way the angel bent the wood in front of the litter, and the wood rose again in its natural fashion behind the saint, and so they came to the bed of the glen where the church of Coemgen stands to-day.

Two miracles befell two of Dima's children at this time. One of them, called Dima the younger, refused to carry the litter, for he said he would not leave his hunting to carry Coemgen's litter; and he had not gone far, after bidding farewell to his father and brothers, when the hounds that were with him were seized with madness,128 leaped upon him, killed him, and devoured him. The other miracle was as follows: Another son of Dima, named Cellach, went under the litter, and believed Coemgen; and after he had started to go through the wood bearing the litter, he fell under it, and his soul suddenly departed from him. Dima and his children were startled at this, and


great sadness seized them.

When, however, Coemgen saw that, he prayed earnestly to God, entreating Him to restore Cellach to life; and he was heard by God, and Cellach was brought from death to life. And Cellach gave himself to Coemgen through this miracle, and he begged his father and brothers to give in the same way service and honour to Coemgen while they lived; and they undertook to do so. ‘Glory to God,’ said Coemgen, ‘for that He has sent you, who are strangers from Meath, to attend and minister to me, and I give my blessing to thee and to thy children, O Dima,’ said he.

{MS page 153}Coemgen was accustomed all his life through the severity of his asceticism to spend every Lent in a wattled pen,129 and a grey flag-stone under him as a bed, and his only food was the music of the angels; and he would spend a fortnight and a month thus. And one Lent when he was acting in this way, a blackbird came from the wood to his pen, and hopped on his palm as he lay on the flag-stone with his hand stretched out; and he kept his hand in that position, so that the blackbird built its nest in it, and hatched its brood.

The angel came after this to visit Coemgen, and bade him leave the penance in which he was, and return to the society of men once more. Coemgen said that the pain of his hand being under the blackbird till she hatched her clutch was little compared with the pain which his Lord suffered for his sake; as Solomon says in this stave telling of the words of Coemgen:

    1. 1] Alas! a pain greater than the requital
      2] My hand like a log under the blackbird;
      3] The blood of His hands, of His side, of His feet
      4] The King of heaven shed for my sake.

However the angel bade Coemgen go out of the pen, and revealed to him that God had promised to him that he should run no risk of danger of the judgement or130 doom; and with reference to this Solomon speaks the following stave:

    1. 1] God gave power to Coemgen
      2] Such as he gave not to every saint in the world,
      3] In the doom to be strong in the assemblies
      4] Where the children of Adam will be trembling.

{MS page 154} Coemgen went on131 pilgrimage to Rome. He received consideration and honour from the Pope, and he also received authority for the establishment of a pilgrimage in Glendalough in perpetuity, and that the indulgence and profit should be the same to any one who should make seven pilgrimages to Glendalough as to one who should


make one pilgrimage to Rome. And with reference to this Solomon speaks the following stave:
    1. 1] Great is the pilgrimage of Coemgen,
      2] If men should perform it aright;
      3] To go seven times to their fair is the same
      4] As to go once to Rome.

Now when Coemgen came back from Rome, he brought some of the earth of the church of Rome with him, and sprinkled it in his own church and in his cemeteries; for it pertained to the holiness of Coemgen after [conferring (rights of) pilgrimage on Glendalough,] that a great number of pilgrims should be visiting his church out of every quarter of Erin; so that this is one of the four chief pilgrimages of Erin henceforth; to wit, the Cave of Patrick in Ulster, Croagh Patrick in Connaught, Inis na m-Beo (the Isle of the Living) in Munster, and Glendalough in Leinster, where is Coemgen's church.

And it is obligatory on every one who goes on pilgrimage there to abstain from all fighting, process of law, and quarrelling, theft and rapine therein. As Solomon says in this stave:

    1. 1] No fight may be dared in his fair,
      2] Nor process of law, or claim,
      3] Nor quarrelling, theft nor rapine;
      4] But going and coming in security.
Whoever shall violate the numerous privileges of his church, lo, here below according to Solomon are the evils which shall befall him in the other world: {MS page 155}
    1. 1] To whoever should violate the fair,
      2] Coemgen left no weak force
      3] Hell and shortness of life,
      4] And to be in danger all his days.

He left further three advantages to the man who should maintain the privileges of his church, viz. health, (long) life, and a penitent death. And not alone through outraging the rights of his church [would the aforesaid ills befall] but through outraging the rights of God and of the Church; and not only the actual perpetrator of the misdeed would incur requital therefor, but the chief or lord who incites the criminal to commit the crime, or who gives him pro tection or shelter; as Coemgen himself says in this stave:

    1. 1] Whatever wrong was done,
      2] Is being done, or shall be done,
      3] Vengeance for it falls unerringly
      4] On the might of him by whom it is done.

Coemgen left four evil consequences on the horde that ravages


his church, to wit, tumour, scrofula, anthrax, and madness, without any remedy for them from herb or leech, &c.


One day when Coemgen's tutor was about to say Mass, he told Coemgen (who was then a young lad) to go and fetch fire to light the Mass-candle. Give me a vessel in which to bring the embers, said Coemgen. When his tutor heard this he became angry, and told him to bring the fire in the corner of his mantle. [Coemgen did so, and] when the monk saw the red embers (being brought) to him in the mantle, without a single thread of the mantle catching fire: {MS page 156} ‘Tis true, O Coemgen,’ said the monk, ‘the grace of the Holy Spirit abides upon thee; and I am not worthy that thou should st be waiting and attending on me any longer; but it would be more fitting for me to be waiting and attending on thee.’ It resulted from this miracle that the name of God and of Coemgen was magnified on that occasion, &c.

One day as Coemgen went to herd his own sheep, a great throng of poor people met him, and they in a fair way to be starved for want of food. They asked alms of the good man for love of God. Coemgen answered them regretfully, and said that he had at that time no food with him there in the desert; and thereupon the beggars desired to bid him farewell; however, Coemgen retained them, 132 and killed seven wethers from his flock, and133 regaled the beggars, and they departed fully satisfied. On the morrow, when Coemgen went to visit his flock, he found the wethers in full tale among the herd, without a single one of them missing, so that the name of God, &c., and he was freed from the shame which possessed him, when the poor of God came to ask a boon of him, and he had nothing in his hand at the time wherewith to content them, &c.

There was a convent of monks in Cell Iffin (or Eithfin); and an otter (the one by whom Coemgen's psalter was fished up from the lough) used to bring a salmon every day to the convent there. One day when {MS page 157} Cellach son of Dima saw the otter coming with the salmon in its mouth, he judged that the skin of the otter would be profitable to the monks, and therefore he desired to kill the otter. Thereupon the otter dropped the salmon that was in its mouth, and dived into the river, and never showed itself to the monks thenceforth.

Now in consequence of this there came scarcity of food upon the monks, so that it was necessary for them to separate. And when Coemgen saw this, he prayed earnestly to God to reveal to him whence it came that the otter had forsaken the convent. And God


willed it so that Cellach went regretfully and penitently to Coemgen, and confessed that he had had the intention of killing the otter, and that it was at that time that the otter had dived into the river, and forsaken the monks thenceforth. After Coemgen heard this he dis missed Cellach. Understand, reader, that it was through the force of Coemgen's prayers that God obliged Cellach to reveal to Coemgen134 the evil intention which he had had as to killing the otter.

One day some musicians with their harps came to Cell Eithfin, where Coemgen had {MS page 158} a convent of monks, and asked an alms of food of the monks. The convent had no food (at the time), and great shame possessed Coemgen and the convent on that account.

But it so happened that a little seed (corn) remained over of the convent's provisions, but it was not a sufficiency either for the strangers or for the convent. This is what seemed good to Coemgen with the help of the convent to free them from the voice of this reproach, to send some of the monks to dig a plot of ground in which this small quantity of seed which they had might be sown, so that the produce of this seed might serve as refection in the evening for the strangers and Coemgen himself, [and for all the monks. And Coemgen] and the rest of the monks were persistently soothing (?) the musicians, trying to pacify them affably and courteously, but to no purpose.

The players began to demand food forcibly, and there was none there. Therefore they took their leave against Coemgen's wish, and reproached [and reviled] the convent. And Coemgen being angry at the shame (put on him), prayed [God] that the harps which they had, might be turned into stones. {MS page 159} Thereupon as they were beginning to cross the stream which flows to the south of the church, their harps were made into stones, and fell into the stream, and they are on the little stone-heap there under the feet of all (who pass) thenceforth. And as to the seed that was sown by Coemgen the morning of the same day in Cell Eithfin, it was from the produce which came thereof at evening, that the monks were fed that same night, as Solomon says in this stave:

    1. 1] The seed that was sown in the morning
      2] At Cell Eithfin, divine was the grace,
      3] From it without withering at night
      4] Were fed the elders in turn.


It occurred to the king of Ui Faelain to send a son who had been born to him to Coemgen to be baptized; and he sent word to him to keep the boy with him to be fostered. And the reason why he sent him to him was because every son that had been previously born to him had been destroyed by the bright people or fairy courts.


And when the infant came to Coemgen to be baptized, a fairy witch, named Caineog, with her attendant women followed the infant, bent on destroying it, as they had destroyed every other son which the king of Úi Faelain had had previously. When Coemgen noticed this, he cursed the women, and thereupon they were turned into stones, and they remain thenceforth in the form of stones on the brink of the lough which is in the glen.

{MS page 160}

As to Coemgen and the infant: — there were neither cows nor boolies in the glen at that time, so that it was a great problem with Coemgen how he should find sustenance and milk to nourish the infant withal; and this caused him anxiety. However, as he looked behind him, he saw a doe in milk, and a little fawn following her; and when Coemgen saw this he prayed God earnestly to tame the doe, so that it might come and yield its milk to the infant. And thereupon the doe came to the place, and went gently to Coemgen and forthwith dropped milk onto a hollow stone both for the infant and for her own fawn. So that this is the definite name of the place where the stone is, Innis Eilte (i.e. the doe's milking stead) thence forward. In this way the doe came every day to drop her milk on the hollow stone, so that sufficient for the infant's nourishment was obtained every day.

However, one day when the doe came to graze in the wood, a wolf came out of a hollow of the rock and killed the doe's fawn and devoured it. When he (Coemgen) saw this, he ordered the wolf to go gently to the doe in place of the fawn; {MS page 161} and the wolf did this habitually. Thereupon the doe would drop her milk on the stone to feed the infant as she formerly did for her fawn, though there was only a wolf standing at her breast. Thus were they habitually, and in this way the child was nurtured, and afterwards became a disciple of Coemgen. So the name of God, &c.

One day when two women were coming on a pilgrimage to Coemgen's church, robbers met them at the pass, stripped them, and beheaded them. When the news came to Coemgen, he went quickly to see the women, and put their heads on their trunks, so that they were restored to life by him. ‘O Coemgen,’ said the women, ‘thou hast healed us, and we give ourselves to thee as long as we shall live.’ Coemgen took the women with him, and made devout black nuns of them; and they remained in the convent of regular women which was near the church of Coemgen; and they spent their lives devoutly, exemplarily, abstinently, prayerfully all their days. So that it came of the bringing to life again of these women that the name, &c.

{MS page 162}

One day when Coemgen the ascetic was near his church,


he saw coming towards him on the hill a poor wretched-looking135 clerk, with his limbs all shaking from the horror of a terrible crime committed by him. And when Coemgen saw this, he said that it was no wonder for him to have a bad look from the murder which he had committed in killing his fellow clerk as they walked on the hill: ‘And, O most wretched one,’ said Coemgen, ‘lead me to the place where thou didst leave the dead body of thy companion.’

Upon this the clerk began to retrace his steps, and Coemgen with him, till they reached the body. At this very moment wolves were on the other side preparing to devour the body, and when they saw Coemgen they fled back, and Coemgen came (and stood) over the body, and prayed God earnestly to revive the dead man; whereupon the soul came into the body, and he was healed of the injury. When the clerk who had committed the murder saw this great miracle, he was seized with remorse for the crime which he had committed, and he commended himself {MS page 163} to Coemgen, and went under his protection.

Coemgen accepted him, and took him and the clerk whom he had restored to life with him to his own church, (where they remained) leading their lives rigorously and devoutly. And after a certain time Coemgen admitted them to the order of monks, so that they spent the rest of their days under (monastic) rule till their death, so that the name of God, &c.

It is a further miracle of Coemgen's that garlic, and meadow-sorrel, and many other herbs which are good for food, would remain fresh and green all the year round in the desert where he was, withdrawing himself from the society of men on the west side of the rock in Glendalough, as a remembrance that he had had to rely on them himself for sustenance.

One day some hunters were hunting a wild boar, and when the hunters had put up the wild boar, they loosed their dogs in pursuit of it. And as soon as the boar perceived the dogs near him, he set off down ths slope of the glen to (seek) the protection of Coemgen, with the dogs in pursuit. Coemgen undertook {MS page 164} the protection of the boar, and commanded the dogs to stop from (following) him; whereupon the feet of the dogs clave to the ground, so that they could not move from the spot in any direction.

Shortly after this the hunters came into Coemgen's presence, and on seeing their dogs fastened to the ground, and the boar under Coemgen's protection, astonishment of mind and marvellous great wonder possessed them at this miracle, and they humbly and penitently besought Coemgen to release their dogs, and promised him that they would never again


pursue this boar till doom. Thereupon Coemgen dismissed the boar into the wood. And the name of God, &c.

One day Coemgen sent Cellach son of Dima (who was a monk of his) to the pass at the north-west side of the glen, thinking that he might find some people bringing an alms of food to the monks, who were working in the church.

When he reached the pass some women met him, carrying soft or milk cheeses in the corners of their mantles. {MS page 165} The clerk asked if it was soft cheeses that they were carrying? They answered that it was not, but webs or balls of thread. Thereupon Coemgen appeared, and when he perceived that the women were concealing the cheeses, he entreated God that the cheeses might be turned into stones in the presence of all, and God caused the cheeses to be turned forthwith into stones for all to see; and they are to be seen to this day at the aforesaid pass. And it resulted from this deed that the name of God, &c.

And Coemgen was all his life long like this, working miracles, till he died at an advanced age after a hundred and twenty- nine years; and Suibne Menn son of Fiachna, son of Feradach, son of Muiredach, son of Eogan, son of Niall of the nine hostages, was king of Erin at the time, and it was at the beginning of Suibne's reign that Coemgen died.


Coemgen, son of Coemlug, son of Coemfid, son of Corb, son of Fergus Laegderg (Red-calf), son of Fothad, son of Eochaid Lamderg (Red-hand), son of Mesincorb, son of Cucorb, {MS page 166} son of Mogh Corb, son of Concobar Abratruad (Red-brow), son of Finnfile, son of Rus Ruad (the Red), son of Fergus Finn (the White), son of Nuadu Necht, son of Setna Sithbac (Long-elbow), son of Lugaid Lethfinn (White side), son of Bresal Brec (the Speckled), &c.


The Life of Colman Ela here.

Now Colman Ela was of the race of Eremon the son of Miled of Spain, as his genealogy declares. And these were the constant followers of Colman Ela; in the first place Cuiniugán; it is to his race that the Muinter Cuiniugáin (Family of C.) belong to-day. They are of the race of Brian son of Eochaid Muigmedon.

As to Colman Ela when he came to Fir Cell, they did not welcome him, and no one was more hostile to him than Cuiniugán. And a trouble had arisen (or befallen) in the land at this time; to wit, there was a pestilent monster in Lough Ela, and (lit. for) no man or beast would venture to go near the lake for fear of it. And this was the nature (lit. description) of the monster a small pointed gaping apparition in the shape of a woman. And Cuiniugan said to them then: It would be better for us to set yon holy man called Colman Ela to fight the monster, and it would be better (still) in our opinion that neither of them should return.

Now the king of Fir Cell at that time was Donnchad son of Aed, son of Sathmainide, of the race of Fiacha son of Niall of the nine hostages. ‘Bring Colman to us,’ said the king, ‘that he may preach to us, so that we may know how many among us he can convert.’

Colman was brought to them, and he preached to them. And he sent a message to his assisting friends, and these were his friends, namely Columcille, the fair son of Feidlimid. and they were related to one another; for Mor the daughter of Feidlimid son of Fergus Cendfada (Long head), son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the nine hostages, was Colman's mother. Mancan of Liath also came to him with his saints, for they (he and Colman) were nearly related. And they met together, and Columcille said that he would act as Colman's crozier-deacon (i.e. carry his pastoral staff) that day. And Mancan said that he would sprinkle (holy) water on the hosts, to bring them into friendliness with Colman.

And these clerks began their preaching, and they had fair Latin books with them, and they {folio 219b} recited their reading clearly, and praised the Creator fervently. And it was recreation of mind and heart to the hosts to listen to them. And those who had never thought of God before, turned their thoughts to Him now. And one of the first to offer himself to God and Colman that day was Cuiniugán.

The above-mentioned king had three sons, namely Muad, Duinecha, and Aillean; and Muad was the eldest son. And he said that he himself loved Colman, and that with his father's permission


he would like to give him a place of habitation and abode. ‘I declare,’ said Duinecha, ‘that I feel just like that myself, and that in whatever direction of the four quarters of the world he shall go, I will follow him, and that I offer my seed to him after me.’ ‘Do not so,’ said the king, ‘for if he kills the monster, I myself will give him the place in which it (the monster) is, and I will give my seed after me, and (any of) my assistants that he prefers to have given to him, shall be given to him.’

And when Colman heard this, he set out towards the monster to the lake. And the name of the monster was Lainn, and this was the nature of it — a small pointed gaping apparition, and short bushy hair, unwashed and unkempt, all over its head. And the monster came to land. And Colman said: If God permit, I would permit the reeds of the lake to bind thee for me, that I may slay thee. And as Colman said this, he looked up, and the Righteous One answered him, and all that he asked of Him he obtained.

And Cuiniugán was with him at that time, and also Duinecha, and they had both believed in him. And the following saints were also with him there, namely Blaan, Bishop Findcen, and Bishop Coirill; and the seven sons of Deiccell, and Bishop Eogan, and Odran, and Forgan, and Mernag, and Fachtna.

{folio 220a}

Then said Colman Ela: ‘Let some saint of you attack the monster, and cut off its head.’ ‘I will go,’ said Cuineda, ‘and behead it for the love of thee.’ ‘I will go to repell it,’ said Duinecha, ‘and I desire not to receive from thee the royal honour136 due to my place, for it was by thee I wished my burial to be. And since my father has no other sons but myself and two others, I looked forward to receiving the chieftainship. Yet, all the same, it is with thee I would wish my body to be.’

And these two, Cuineda and Duinecha, went and beheaded the monster. And they brought the head to Colman. And Colman blessed them both. And Colman said then to Cuineda: ‘Thou and thy seed shall be with me till doom as stewards; and myrelics shall be with you, and I will bequeath evil to them that encroach upon you.’ ‘I will be thy servant,’ said Duinecha, ‘till thy habitation and labour be all ready’; and he (Colman) said this lay:

    1. 1] Stronger is the church than any king,
      2] I tell it to you without disparagement;
      3] A proverb is this (which holds) good till doom,
      4] I think it well for all to hear it.
    2. 5] Do ye see it yourselves,
      6] O beauteous saints of Erin?
      7] The one that opposed me so strongly
      8] The monster, ye see that it is headless.

    3. p.164

    4. 9] It was a reproach,137 I say (it) to you,
      10] noble clerks of the world,
      11] It were better for you to be at the meeting
      12] On the day of deceit with its outcry.
    5. 13] When thou recitest thy (canonical) hours,
      14] And (when) thou shalt be in the womb of thy mother,138
      15] Recite them thyself leisurely to the congregation,
      16] If thou wilt gain the profit of them.
    6. 17] Every verse of them that thou recitest,
      18] Expound their texts minutely;
      19] Speak in thine own character exactly,
      20] And fix on them thine understanding;
      21] Then shalt thou receive (thy request) from the King of the stars,
      22] Whose protection is never-ending.
    7. 23] The verse which the mighty recite,
      24] Thou deem'st it long till it proceed from thee,
      25] The man of deceit who is in the congregation,
      26] No better for thee is his recitation.
    8. {folio 220b}
    9. 27] Recite thyself softly, sweetly, pleasantly,
      28] Thy prayers and thy reading;
      29] Expound their Latin truly,
      30] And turn thy Pater (noster) into Gaelic.
    10. 31] Visit early, as is right,
      32] (And) approach the altar frequently;
      33] Give great love to their renown,
      34] Preach among the laymen.

    1. 35] I tell to thee without regret
      36] From myself with reference to the church a noble story;
      37] We will not tell you a matter without order,
      38] But a story which goes to the root of things.
    2. 39] The three things that are strongest under the sun,
      40] I tell them to you in order,
      41] The church, and the hot fire,
      42] And the third thing is water.
    3. 43] The fire which thou lightest thyself,
      44] Though it be weak as it comes forth into the sun,
      45] It is seen a long way off,
      46] And its smoke is plainly visible.

    4. p.165

    5. 47] The true fountain which ebbs there,
      48] When the drought comes, it is weak;
      49] But, when the open flood fills it,
      50] It is strong through the multitude of waters.
    6. 51] The Church, when she is there,
      52] And a feeble king oppresses her;
      53] Sad I deem it to be outside,
      54] Weak will be the voice of the clerks.
    7. 55] However, when they fail,
      56] The feeble chiefs of Athleague,
      57] Good in God's sight will be the noisy(?) offspring,
      58] Which that day will be weak.
    8. 59] Not in the sight of man will it be good,
      60] When it comes to the eternal pleasure,
      61] But openly in the sight of the one God
      62] Some one of us will be over them in strength.

    1. 63] When thy soul goes out of thy body of clay,
      64] Though thou wast eager towards the church,
      65] Though the call, O man, shall come roughly,
      66] Thou art glad to receive it.
    2. 67] When thou art in thy single shirt of linen (shroud),
      68] Thou shalt be (carried) to the gentle church;
      69] It will not be good in thy sight to conceal it,
      70] That for us on thee may be its strength.
    3. 71] When there shall separate from thee there
      72] Thy eight nets139 without error,
      73] We will entreat for thee to the end,
      74] And the clerics will entreat.

    1. 75] Of it I told the story,
      76] Of the monster there, which was strong,
      77] When we saw therefrom
      78] On yon monster a human form.{folio 221a}79] We will bear it to our warm house,
      80] (To) the church because of its strength.
    2. 81] From it we deem (the place) will be called,
      82] (From) the monster that was killed in its pool.
      83] The place will be mine without dispute,
      84] This land will be the land of Colman.

    3. p.166

    4. 85] I am Colman Ela;
      86] Good also in the sight of the one God
      87] Are the two who were once against me;
      88] I myself restrained them in one day.
    5. 89] Cuinega answered me gently
      90] After the sermon which I preached to the king;
      91] For love of me openly
      92] He (went) to slay the monster.
    6. 93] From the time that the monster was slain
      94] Dumb on the broad stream with its rough pools,
      95] I shall have, strong without concealment,
      96] Over them assuredly strength.


After this lay Colman Ela proceeded to Land Ela, and made a fortified house therein, and blessed the cemetery in conjunction with the above-mentioned saints. And the monster was the first creature buried in Land Ela. And they constructed a great work there, to wit a causeway; and the length of the causeway was from Land Ela to Coill an Clair (the wood of the level); and swans used to come every hour to sing to them, and relieve their fatigue; so that for this reason the place was called Land Ela (Swans land).

Now Colman Ela's tutor was Gregory the golden-mouthed. And he promised that whenever he should die, he would reveal the fact to Colman. And one day when Colman was making the causeway at the western stone (and no one ever laid a stone of the church, or of the stone enclosure, or of the causeway, without Duinecha being with him (i.e. Colman), and Cuineda (also) serving him manfully) Colman fell upon his knees, and it seemed to him that he heard the passing bell of Gregory the golden-mouthed. And swoon and deadly faintness fell upon Colman at that time at the intimation that his tutor had passed away.

And his family asked him: ‘What is the reason of thy sadness, O holy clerk?’ ‘Good cause have I for sadness,’ {folio 221b} said he, ‘for I have heard the passing bell of my tutor.’ ‘O mighty God,’ said the clerks and the workpeople, ‘right marvellous is it in our eyes that any one in the world should hear the bells of Rome.’ ‘I entreat the mighty God,’ said Colman, ‘that ye yourselves, both clerks, and servants, and youths, may hear what I hear. Kneel down on your knees.’ And they knelt. And this was the number of those that were there, four thousand four hundred, four score and ten. And there was not a single man among them at that time who did not hear the bells of Rome.

And at the same time they saw (coming) towards them seven asses laden with seven sacks full of the soil of Rome. ‘Here, Colman, thou holy clerk,’ said the


servants, ‘is the help which thy tutor sent to thee; shake it over the length and breadth of thy cemetery, and any one who is buried in it shall not see hell.’ And it was shaken as directed. And then Colman said: ‘The first part of the cemetery shall be thine, O Duinecha; and the middle of it shall be thine, O Cuineda. And the rest of the cemetery shall belong to the Fir Cell and to the men of Erin. ’.

Now the man who was abbot in Durrow in the absence of Columcille was Cormac Ua Liathain. And the family of Durrow committed an evil act against Colman without Cormac's leave. And this is what they did, to wit, they came to steal the earth (that came from Rome), and they came as far as the stone enclosure of the cemetery. And they only succeeded in carrying off some of the earth that was nearest to them on the outside of the stone enclosure. And this was noticed on the morrow; and Colman and his family followed the track of the earth as far as Durrow.

And Columcille came home at that very hour, and the place where he was at the time was the little seat which is now called Columcille's little seat. And Colman Ela greeted him, and he wore a sinister smile as he greeted him; and Columcille answered {folio 222a} this smilingly; and he asked: ‘What is the matter of thy complaint, O Colman?’ ‘I have great ground therefor,’ said Colman, ‘for the compassionate gift of Roman earth which my tutor sent me, thy family came to steal last night. But, glory be to God, it was not that which they got.’

‘Do not curse us, O clerk,’ said Columcille, ‘and thou shalt receive every satisfaction.’140 ‘I will not curse thee,’ said Colman, ‘for thou art not guilty towards me. But I shall curse Cormac Ua Liathain. And I beseech God that there may not be in all Erin a man of his race owning so much as a townland or a half townland; and that wolves may eat his flesh at the last.’ Then said Columcille: ‘If it be thy wish, the earth shall be restored.’ ‘I wish it not, said Colman, and I pray God that it may have for thee the virtue of the earth of Rome from henceforth.’

‘I think it right,’ said Columcille, ‘to tell thee a difficulty of our own.’ ‘What is this difficulty?’ said Colman, ‘for there is no one to whom it were more fitting for us to refer any difficulty that we may have, than to thee, for thou art three days of every week in heaven.’

‘This is the difficulty that has befallen in the matter,’ said Columcille: ‘Uanach, the sister of thy mother, and my own sister, has borne two sons to Maeluma son of Baetan, son of Fergus, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the nine hostages; and I baptized them, and I named one of them Ultan, and the other Baithin. And


I would rather that they did not live, but that I could compass their destruction without shame to myself, for their father and mother are children of a brother and sister. 141 And I would fain have thy advice as to them.’.

‘My advice is soon given,’ said Colman, ‘give them to me to nourish and to foster. And let us make a covenant respecting them, for I have two paps such as no saint ever had before, a pap with milk, and a pap with honey, and these I will give to them (to suck).’ And the children were given to Colman, and he spoke this lay there:

{folio 223a}

    1. 1] Two paps has Colman Ela,
      2] A pap of milk, a pap of honey;
      3] His right pap for fair Baithin,
      4] And his other pap for Ultan.
    2. 5] The man who had these things,
      6] May my soul be in his protection;
      7] And in the protection of Christ of the Clans,
      8] May both my body and soul be.
    3. 9] I myself have bequeathed to the Fir Cell
      10] When they do not respond to me steadily,
      11] And do not hold my fair,
      12] What to themselves will be highly dangerous.
    4. 13] If there be but one place there,
      14] And it be dry around the church,
      15] If there came the high king of Fir Cell,
      16] And careful Duinecha,
      17] Duinecha would sit, methinks,
      18] First in the dry place.
    5. 19] The help of Ui Duibhginn (is) mine;
      20] Long will be their service;
      21] Not more shall fall to the ground,
      22] The help brought (me) by Ua Bracain.
    6. 23] They brought two full hundreds of milch cows
      24] To my great church,
      25] So that it was they who served me;
      26] With me they shall be of my freemen.
    7. 27] I gave to them in return
      28] A place in the choir of my church,
      29] A little way from the bed (grave) of the kings,
      30] Without disturbance assuredly.


    1. 31] I went on a journey eastwards
      32] To Cantire in Alba;
      33] And I took with me
      34] Without neglect Duinech and Cuined.
    2. 35] When we reached the king
      36] Of Alba of the many exploits,
      37] The king of Alba related the trouble
      38] To us clearly, and the destruction of his people:
    3. 39] A poisonous monster (ranged) over the borders of the harbour,
      40] From its broad deep-pooled lake-lair;
      41] No fire can burn it in the fray,
      42] No point or edge can take effect on it.
    4. 43] Fifteen men, as we know,
      44] Are in the place before thee,
      45] Slaughtered by it without mercy;
      46] And the monster (still) lives, O Colman.
    5. 47] I will slay the monster for you,
      48] Said Colman thereupon,
      49] And (then) distribute ye my tribute without reproach
      50] Over Scotland and England.
    6. {folio 222b}
    7. 51] Fifty feet are there on its belly,
      52] And fifty hideous claws;
      53] It slays the army of every famous land,
      54] As soon as ever they come to attack it.
    8. 55] Yonder it (comes) to us without respite,
      56] To attack our land, O Colman.
      57] Woe to the famous race which it oppresses,
      58] For our swift destruction and our slaughter.

    1. 59] Colman approached the strand,
      60] So did the affectionate Duinecha,
      61] With two spears in his fearless hand,
      62] And his long doughty sword.
    2. 63] Colman of the churches looked on high
      64] To the high King of heaven right earnestly,
      65] And there was given to them (?him) from heaven above
      66] All that he purposed in his mind.
    3. 67] Duinecha discharged the fair spear
      68] From the hand of the king's son, 142
      69] And the monster was slain by him,
      70] Dreadful, cruel, horrible.

    4. p.170

    5. 71] (I adjure thee) by thy name, (give) me the spear,
      72] The noble shaft of yew;
      73] And let its head be curved by me;
      74] Of it have I made my (pastoral) staff (bachall).

    1. 75] Is it thy pleasure, O noble Duinecha,
      76] Now that the shaft of thine own spear
      77] Has become a pastoral staff exactly,
      78] That its tribute and stewardship should be thine?{folio 221a}79] Though it be not the business of a king's great son, 143
      80] Said Duinecha truly,
    2. 81] I will give my seed to thee by agreement,
      82] And let them be under thy protection, O Colman.
      83] Give thy (pastoral) staff to thy own steward
      84] Anear and afar.
    3. 85] The fifteen men assuredly
      86] Who were in that place dead,
      87] I restored to them all their souls
      88] By my prayer and by my pure psalms.
    4. 89] I received a monastery from the king,
      90] From the high king of Alba in sooth,
      91] And I apportioned my famed tribute
      92] Between Erin and Alba.

    1. 93] I come then to Fir Cell
      94] (With) Duinecha and Cuineda stoutly,
      95] And my bachall of white gold,
      96] They (the Fir Cell) are my lawful family.
    2. 97] The house from which there were not received for me
      98] (The dues of) my bachall in that land,
      99] There shall not be corn nor milk therein,
      100] Nor with its son thereafter.
    3. 101] There shall not be son to succeed the father,{folio 223b}102] Nor daughter to succeed the mother,
      103] Till doom, till doom, among the Fir Cell,
      104] Unless the tribute of the bachalls be (paid).
    4. 105] I bequeath to the Fir Cell themselves
      106] In case they do not hold my own fair,
      107] That it shall be worse144 for them than for me,
      108] If this is left unperformed.

    5. p.171

      109] The sea shall not yield its tribute,
      110] The land shall not yield increase;
      111] Famine is to be expected in every quarter of the year,
      112] Stint of food and raiment
      113] Throughout the border of the Fir Cell,
      114] When my bachall returns thankless.
    6. 115] Friend, till there be numbered
      116] The evil of women, or the sand of the sea
      117] Not more numerous are the herbs,
      118] Than these great miracles.

    1. 119] Declare from me to the Fir Cell,
      120] And to (the men of) Eile without neglect,
      121] When they do not respond to myself,
      122] Whether near or far,
      123] (It is) well known to me what will come of it,
      124] There will be hell as the consequence.
    2. 125] Every man of the Fir Cell
      126] Who shall not be steadfastly at my command,
      127] I entreat the one God truly
      128] That they may not get the milk of my two breasts.145


    3. 129] For these are my own two breasts146;
      130] The heavenly city in beauty,
      131] I will not forsake it assuredly
      132] For whatever hardship I may find.
    4. 133] Three sons of Donchad whom the assembly celebrates,147
      134] Duinecha, Muad, and Aillean;
      135] Let not the Ui Duibhginn desert me
      136] Either anear or afar.
    5. 137] Let Ua Gallgan be in my hand
      138] Till doom, and also Ua Bracain;
      139] The Ui Gruccain be with me openly,
      140] Let them come to my cemetery;
      141] The Ui Corracain with me assuredly;
      142] Let them not desert me because of disturbance.

      Two paps.

And after this lay the youths Baithin and Ultan were studying at Land Ela, for this was one of the three chief fairs of Erin, (the three being) the fair of Teltown, the fair of Clonmacnois, and Land Ela. And the youths had special qualities; whatever


Ultan heard he remembered; and whatever was done to Baithin {folio 224a} no single word remained (with him). And this lay was spoken:

    1. 1] Three fairs in Erin itself,
      2] I tell them to you in order;
      3] I have remembrance of them, and not scanty
      4] Is the relation of them, the knowledge of their names.
    2. 5] The fair of Cluain which is the noblest of them;
      6] The fair of Teltown on the king's day;
      7] The third fair is my own fair
      8] Both anear and afar.
    3. 9] I obtained from the high King of the stars,
      10] As to every man who comes there,
      11] The power of defending him in heaven,
      12] As his reward for seeing the day of my fair.
    4. 13] Every man who submitted to me
      14] In every land beneath the sun,
      15] I leave to them in return
      16] That their eyes shall not see hell.
    5. 17] From the Callraige -- which does not corrupt judgement --
      18] Under my staff, to Clann Colmain,
      19] A penny from every hearth (lit. smoke) to thee,
      20] And the fruit of battle (i. e. spoils).
    6. 21] Every thing that I said of old
      22] I relate according to rule;
      23] I will not conceal it from any one in their borders
      24] That they are the three for you.

      Three fairs.

After this lay Colman Ela beat his pupil Baithin, and Baithin went away after the beating, and Colman followed him. And a wretched leper, stark naked, met him at the monument outside the place; and he greeted Colman, and said to him: ‘Carry me on thy back, O holy clerk, to thine own altar for the love of God.’ ‘Would not some other man do (as well) for thee, to carry thee there?’ said Colman. ‘By no means,’ said the leper, ‘for it is better in the eyes of God that thou thyself shouldest do obedience to Him.’ ‘If that is so, then I will carry thee,’ said Colman. And he took him to the altar.

And the unhappy man said to him: ‘Put my nose in thy mouth, O Colman, for the love of God, and put in the corner of thy frock and carry out of the church, what is in it (i. e. in thy nose).’ Colman did as the unhappy man said; {folio 224b} and carried the filth of the nose out of the church. And when he got outside, this is what he found in his bosom, an ingot of gold, and an inscription in letters of gold which


came from the Trinity; and Colman wondered thereat, and returned with all speed. But the leper had disappeared.

As to Baithin, we have told how he ran away from study, and went to hide himself in the wood above Land Ela. And he saw a man fixing a single wattle, and when a wattle was fixed, he would go to fetch another to fix it in the same way. However the house was (gradually) raised by him. Baithin saw this, and this is what he said: If I had done my learning like that, and stuck to it, methinks I should have acquired learning. Then a heavy shower fell. Baithin went to seek shelter under an oak. And he saw a drop fall on a certain spot. And Baithin made a hole with his heel at the place, and the drop filled the hole then; whereupon Baithin said: If I had done my learning like that, I should have acquired learning. And he spoke this lay:

    1. 1] With drops the pool is filled,
      2] With wattles the round house is made;
      3] The dwelling that is pleasing to God,
      4] Its family increases more and more.
    2. 5] Had I been devoted to my own learning
      6] Anear and afar,
      7] Though little I might do, methinks
      8] I should have acquired learning enough.
    3. 9] The one wattle which the man cuts,
      10] And fixes on his house,
      11] The house arises pleasantly,
      12] Though little be the one wattle that he fixes.
    4. 13] The little hole which my heel made,
      14] Let it be good in the eyes of God and Colman
      15] Is full at every shower with the fair drop,
      16] The water in its little path.
    5. 17] I make a renunciation, during all my time
      18] I will not forsake my learning;
      19] Whatever hardship I may find from it,
      20] I will pursue it henceforth.
    6. {folio 225a}
    7. 21] Baithin himself related
      22] To Colman his own tutor,
      23] He made a strong vow to Colman
      24] That he would not desert his reading.
    8. 25] ‘God Himself gave for thine instruction, my son,’
      26] ‘To thee the noble example,’
      27] Said gentle Colman replying to him,
      28] Full of nobility and true knowledge.



After this Colman Ela proceeded to meet Mochuda. And Mochuda had been expelled from Rathen; and he took his way through Fir Cell till he came to Duinecha's steading to seek food of Duinecha, and received a certain amount of food. And this was the number that was there (with Mochuda), viz. three fifties and three thousands. And this was the food which Duinecha gave them, three beeves and three tubs of milk. Mochuda said that this seemed little to him. If it be little, said Duinecha, cast thy poverty on Him (lit, on His back). And Mochuda said this lay:

    1. 1] Cluain da crand (the mead of the two trees)
      2] Where lives Duinecha the hard and stingy;
      3] Let Duinecha be without Cluain,
      4] And let Cluain be without Duinecha;
      5] And let the third destruction
      6] Light on Fir Cell from me thrice over.
    2. 7] Colman Ela himself
      8] Was listening to them in order;
      9] And it was clearly displeasing to him
      10] That the Fir Cell were being cursed.
    3. 11] I bequeath from myself to Duinecha
      12] To be surly, hard, and frowning;
      13] I bequeath to them therefor,
      14] That their entertainment shall not be the worse for it.
    4. 15] I leave moreover to the Fir Cell,
      16] That they shall be slain there like pigs;
      17] I leave to them on that account
      18] That they shall grow like bracken.
    5. 19] I leave [therefor] to themselves,
      20] To the family of gentle Duinecha,
      21] That every man
      [gap: exemplar illegible]
      [gap: exemplar illegible]
      - 148
      22] His life shall be shorter than any one's,
      23] And his luck shall be scantier.
    6. 25] I leave to their women to be lustful,
      26] I leave to them to be wanton;
      27] I leave to them on that account
      28] Failure of prosperity and of progeny. 149

{folio 225b}

    1. 1] Columcille came to them,
      2] A constant prince of righteousness,
      3] And it was clearly unpleasant to him,
      4] That his kinsmen should be cursed.

    2. p.175

    3. 33] Take off that curse,
      34] Said Colum boldly,
      35] (Otherwise) thy many saints shall be slain
      36] Either anear or at a distance.
    4. 37] I pray the one God Himself,
      38] Said Mochuda himself,
      39] That God will not reverse it (the curse,)
      40] And I will not, if He does not. 150
    5. 41] If the King regards me,
      42] Said Columcille truly,
      43] I will reverse it indeed,151
      44] And so will Colman Ela.
    6. 45] Columcille and Colman,
      46] Manchan and fair Odran,
      47] And all the saints of Erin
      48] (Combined) to change the curse.
    7. 49] Mochuda almost repented
      50] Of what he did to them,
      51] When he saw in victorious array
      52] The saints of Erin coming to Cluain.


    1. 53] Mochuda himself proceeded
      54] Onwards in his course that night,
      55] Until the young man came
      56] (to a place) In the wood where was an oak.
    2. 57] His lepers screech at him,
      58] And so do his martyrs,
      59] And ask in what house
      60] In what place their books should be stored.
    3. 61] Afterwards the oak bends
      62] To the saints after their conflict;
      63] The wretched ones remain about it,
      64] After their expulsion from Cluain.


There were two youths in the family of Colman Ela. They grew to be big lads. Why is it, said the clerks, that no task of asceticism is ordained for those lads, for they are old enough for it. I will not ordain it, said Colman Ela. Why so? said they. For this reason, said Colman, the bed (abode) of one of them will be in hell, and whatever asceticism he may perform at that (his present)


age, it is no asceticism that he will perform at the end of his life, and it is in hell he will be. I will not deprive him of his share of the (present) world, for there is no ní {folio 226a} fochraic fil aicce. Ata leaba an reward for him (for such abstinence). The bed of the other one is in heaven, and though he performs no asceticism in that (his present) age, he will do so at the last, and will be in heaven, et reliqua.



Life of Maedoc of Ferns

{MS page 132}

A king succeeded to the province of Connaught whose name was Sena, and his wife was Eithne. They had neither son nor daughter born to them. They went to Drumlane to fast there with a view to obtaining an heir; and the woman saw a vision of the moon entering the mouth of the king, and the king in like wise saw a star entering the mouth of the queen. And this was the interpretation that was put upon the vision, that an eminent birth would proceed from them, whose fame would fill the lips of men; and like as a star guided the prophets (i.e. the Magi) to Jesus, so this star would guide the child to the Holy Ghost. And it befell that that very night the woman conceived.

The woman went one day in a chariot; and a druid met her. Tis the sound of a chariot under a king, said he. The druid sees that there is no one in the chariot but the woman. There is a marvellous child in thy womb, said he, whose fame will fill the lips of men in heaven and earth.

Not long afterwards the woman bore a son to whom the name Moeog was given; and he was honourably fostered in Breghmagh, and on the place in which he was born there rested for a long time a bright and {MS page 133} dazzling ray (lit. path) from heaven.

Once upon a time Ainmire, king of Ireland, demanded hostages of Connaught, and Moeog was given to him in hostageship. The heart and mind of the king were attracted by the countenance and beauty of the boy, for it was plain to him that the grace of the Holy Spirit (rested) on Moeog. ‘Go home,’ said the king, ‘or remain here in freedom.’ ‘I will go,’ said Moeog, ‘if thou allow the other hostages to go with me.’ And the king allowed them to depart with his blessing, and each one of them set out for his own home.

Once Moeog was with the shepherds of the king's fort, when they saw eight wolves coming towards the flock of Moeog, and they did obeisance before him, and he saw their wretchedness. ‘I grant,’ said he, ‘a sheep to each wolf of you;’ and they carried them off. The shepherds go to the fort, and complain of Moeog; and Moeog's foster-mother came out on the green, Moeog was frightened when he saw her, and prayed to God to help him against her. Then eight sheep in colour and fashion like the other sheep were sent, and joined the flock, and it was not known whence they came. {MS page 134} Moeog was put to the learning of Holy Church.

Once Moeog was praying in the recesses of a wood, when he


saw a stag pursued by hounds, and the stag stopped by him. Moeog threw the corner of his plaid over its horns, to protect it from the hounds; and when these came up, they could not find trace or sight of it; and it afterwards betook itself to the wood in safety.

One day Moeog and another disciple named Lasrianus were praying at the foot of two trees, and they loved each other very dearly. ‘Ah! Jesus,’ said they, ‘is it Thy will that we should part, or that we should remain together to the end?’ Then one of the two trees fell to the south, and the other to the north. By the fall of the trees, said they, it has been revealed that we must part. Moeog fared south, and built a noble monastery at Ferns, and Lasrianus fared north, and built a monastery in Devenish.

One day Moeog was journeying over Slieve Beagh when night overtook him; and he prayed God to direct him on the right road. It was not long before he saw two angels, {MS page 135}who took him on their hands, and carried him to the royal fort. And he erected a noble cross on the spot (lit. hill), to make known the miracle.

One day Moeog was by the side of Lough Erne, and saw a woman coming to meet him, who was wringing her hands bitterly. ‘My son,’ said she, ‘has been drowned in this lough, and two other children with him; and I and his father Eochaid, chief of this land, are going round to the saints of the land, to learn from them where we shall find his body; and they told us that we should learn it from thee.’ The woman and Moeog went to the bank, but could not find out in what corner of the lough the bodies were. ‘Ah! Jesus,’ said Moeog, ‘raise up for me the son of this woman, and the other bodies that are with him.’ And at that word the boy arose in the presence of Moeog and the woman. Then Eochaid his father, king of the land, arrived on the spot (lit. hill), and offered the boy to God and Moeog in perpetuity.

Moeog went to Britain to the place where David of Menevia, the holy bishop, resided.

Once David and his monks (went) to {MS page 136} fetch firewood, and Moeog did not notice them (going). He had a book before him. reciting his psalms; and there was abundance of rain that day. There was a man in the place who hated Moeog. ‘Be off,’ said he, after the monks, and take with thee yonder untamed oxen, which never yet bore burden, and bring back a load on them. He sent a man with Moeog armed with an axe, ordering him to cut off Moeog's head. Moeog arose, and left his book exposed to the pouring rain; and the oxen became obedient to him, and proceeded through the recesses of the wood by a path by which they had never been able to go previously, and that road has been practicable for every one ever since.

And the man we have mentioned raised his axe over his head


to smite Moeog, and his two hands clave to the axe, and he could neither raise nor lower it. This was revealed to David, and he went to the place where they were; and they returned to the monastery, and the hands of the servant were loosed from the axe, and they found the book without a single letter of it obliterated or injured.

One day Moeog was going to fetch ale for the monks, and the vessel {MS page 137} broke, and the beer was spilt. He made the sign (of the cross) with his hand over it, and repaired the damage, and carried the ale to the monks.

And a dumb son of the king was brought to him on one foot and one hand and one eye, and he returned home whole by the grace of God and Moeog.

Once Moeog saw a man coming to him, whose face was all flat like a board.153 He begged Moeog to help him for love and pity. I ask God to help thee, said Moeog. And his face and form became like other men's.

Moeog asked leave of David to return to Ireland. And when he came to Ireland he said: ‘Take me back to where David is, that he may show me who is to be my confessor.’ But the boatmen were not willing to return. Moeog leaped out of the boat, and walked from wave to wave, and an angel of God met him. Thou needest no confessor, said he, but Jesus; for there is no guilt on thee. Moeog started again for Ireland. He landed in Ui Cennselaig, and built a {MS page 138} noble church there.

He had two cows and a calf. A wolf came to the monastery green. ‘Is it to seek thy meat from God thou art come?’ said Moeog; and gave it the calf. ‘The cows will not give their milk without the calf,’ said the herd. ‘Go and milk them,’ said Moeog, raising his hand over his (the herdsman's) head, and they will give their milk for thee as for the calf; and so they did.

An army invaded Ui Cennselaig one day, and all the territory took refuge with Moeog in his sanctuary (termon). Moeog drew a line with his bachall round the kine, and the army stopped from pursuing the cattle, except one of the (invading) chiefs, and he died as soon as he had passed the line. And the army, seeing this, returned to its own borders; and the kine remained with Moeog.

Once the king of Ui Cennselaig was on a plundering expedition, and Moeog met him, and the king gave him an alms, and proceeded to his house. And disease and grievous sickness overtook him, so that it seemed to him as if his spirit departed from him. And hell was revealed to him, with horrible animals attacking him, and one animal with its breath dragged the king and drew him to its {MS page 139} very mouth, when he saw the poor man putting the alms, which the


king had given him, into the beast's mouth. But it did not cease to drag the king, till the poor man brought down his bachall on the mouth of the beast. The king awoke, and told all that he had seen. ‘Send for Moeog,’ said they, ‘and thou shalt learn everything from him.’ ‘It is fitter that I should fare to the servant of God,’ said the king; and he went to where Moeog was. ‘This is the man to whom I gave the alms,’ said the king, ‘and who freed me from the maw of the beast.’ And the king gave him Ferns in perpetuity, and he built a noble church there, which still remains.

The inhabitants complained to Moeog that the place was waterless. ‘Dig at the root of yonder tree,’ said Moeog, ‘and ye shall find a spring.’ They did so, and found (as he said). And the stream began to flow along the boundary of land belonging to another man beside the fort.

And the women of the place would come on their side to wash and bathe at the spring which Moeog had revealed. ‘Do not wash here,’ said Moeog; ‘this is the monks domestic spring, and it is not fitting for women to consort with them.’ ‘We will,’ said {MS page 140} they, ‘to us belongs the side (of the stream) which skirts our land.’ The daughter of the king went one day to the spring to bathe, and the sand and gravel of the spring clave to her. Her father came to Moeog to beg him to help her, offering himself to him in perpetuity. And so it was done.

Once Moeog went to a monastery to visit a monk who was sick. ‘All the monks are sick,’ said the abbot, ‘and do ye tend them while ye are here.’ ‘God is able to heal them,’ said Moeog; and so it was done. Three days were they tending them; and then the abbot begged Moeog to leave them in the same sicknesses (that they had before). And he did so, though it was grievous to him.

Moeog was going to Ferns when he saw a team with plough-iron and coulter coming towards him from a distance. And he took it with him to give it as an alms to the daughters of Aed son of Cairbre, who had dedicated their lives to God. And a poor man met him on the road, and begged an ox of Moeog; and he gave him one, and took the remaining oxen to the place where the {MS page 141}virgins were. But they could not plough for want of the aforesaid ox. An ox was seen coming to them from the sea; and they put the yoke upon it, and it ploughed like any (other) ox. And it would come at the beginning of each day, and return to the sea every night. Three months did it on this wise.

One time Moeog saw messengers of David (coming) to where he was. ‘Go,’ said they, ‘to David. His last days have come; get to him (lit. overtake him) before his death.’ Moeog went to Britain, and administered the Communion to David. ‘I promised,’ said Moeog, ‘to be in Ireland again (to-day).’ ‘Go,’ said David,


‘to the strand, and whatever wild animal thou shalt find there, mount it, and it will carry thee to Ireland; and I will send thy companions after thee.’ And they parted from one another with grief and sorrow, for they knew well that it was a final separation. Moeog went to the port, and found a wild animal there which he did not know, and he mounted it, and it carried him to Ferns.

And he fasted forty days and nights there, as did Jesus and Elias and Moses; and it caused in him no weakness or decay.

Once Moeog was on the brink of Ath Imgain, and he was old at that time. {MS page 142} The driver of his chariot asked him: ‘Who is the man who shall be bishop in Ferns after thee?’ ‘The first man who occupies the ford yonder,’ said he. A troop appeared (coming) towards the ford hurling and sporting, and they were clerks. And one sportive clerk of them came towards the ford, and came to the place where Moeog was. ‘I should like to be of your company,’ said he. ‘What is thy name?’ said Moeog. ‘Moling,’ said he. They remained together till the death of Moeog; and Moling was called bishop in Ferns.

Moeog heard after this that a kinsman of his was detained as a hostage by the king of Ui Conaill Gabra. He went to the king's fort, and he was kept three days and nights in front of the fort without food or drink. And the delivery of the hostage was refused him; and the king's daughter died that night. The queen took her daughter to the place where Moeog was. ‘Raise her for me,’ said she, ‘for it is thou who didst kill her.’ The heart of Moeog was moved towards her, and he interceded with God, and the maid arose. But the heart of the king was not moved towards Moeog, and he (Moeog) went aside to curse him. ‘Do not curse the king,’ said the queen, but lay thy curse on yonder great stone. {MS page 143} ‘I will,’ said Moeog, and with the word of the saint the stone broke in two. Fear seized the king, and he prostrated himself before Moeog, and gave up the prisoner to him; and granted Cluain Claidmech to him in perpetuity, and Moeog built a venerable church there, and left some of his saints there to chant the divine office; and he and the king parted from each other in peace and amity.

Once Moeog was setting out for Cashel, when the horses of his chariot stopped dead. They wondered at this, till they heard the voice of an angel above them: ‘Not to Cashel is it God's will for thee to go,’ said he. ‘Guaire, king of Connaught, lies sick at Kilmacduagh. Go to where he is; for it is to thee God has granted his healing.’ And the chariot took the road to Kilmacduagh, and Lough Derg dried up before it (and became) like any plain. And two men met them, of whom they asked the way. ‘It is all wood and swamp from here (lit. from yourselves) to Kilmacduagh,’ said they; ‘but if ye are of the household of God, let Him make plain a way for you.’ ‘God can


do so,’ said Moeog. And He made a level plain of the swamp, and they came to Kilmacduagh. And Moeog healed Guaire {MS page 144} by the grace of God, and revealed to him that he would be thirty years in all in the kingship of Connaught, three years of which he would be in sickness, and would gain heaven after death in reward for his generosity and compassion.

One day Moeog was teaching a student, when he saw a golden ladder descending by his side; and Moeog went up the ladder. And when he returned, the student asked him whither he had been. ‘Columcille has died,’ said he, ‘and the glory and honour of the family of heaven went to meet him, said he, and I went to do him reverence with them.’

One day a company came with deceit and subtlety to Moeog to ask alms of him. And they had left their garments concealed in a secret place; and this was revealed to Moeog. And he sent to fetch the garments, and gave them as alms to other poor men; and they (the former company) departed from Moeog without clothing, and without alms.

Brandub son of Eochaid, king of Leinster, was slain by Saran, a Leinsterman. ‘This is grievous to me,’ said Moeog, ‘(he was) the head of the poor, and the protector of the weak; and may the hand fall off that smote that true hero.’ Moeog went to Ferns, and proceeded to the tomb of Brandub. {MS page 145} ‘Arise,’ said he, ‘in the name of Jesus, and rule thy kingdom.’ Brandubh came forth from the grave, and joined Moeog. ‘Bring me not back to this frail world,’ said he, ‘let me go to heaven now.’ He made his confession to Moeog, who permitted him to go to heaven.

Saran then lay down on Brandub's grave in deep penitence, and with bitter weeping. His hand fell off from him, as Moeog had previously requested; and he was a good man afterwards till at last he died.

Once Moeog was sowing barley seed, when a man came to the field. ‘I am destitute,’ said he, ‘and my lord has a heavy rent on me, and I would fain have an alms.’ And he gave him the barley that was in his bosom, after turning it into gold. The man took the gold with him to pay it to the king. ‘From whom didst thou get the gold?’ said the king. ‘Moeog gave it to me,’ said the man. ‘Thy debts depart with thee,’ said the king; ‘take the gold to Moeog.’ Moeog turned the gold back into barley, and it grew like any (other) barley.

One day Moeog was building a church, and he could not find any wright to fashion it. So he blessed the hand of a man of his (monastic) family, {MS page 146} named Goban, and he erected the church with wondrous carvings, and brave ornaments, that there was not the like of it (anywhere), and no one in his time surpassed this Goban in Wright's craft.


Moeog was once washing at the river, and a man came behind him and put his two hands on him, and left him in the water to drown. Moeog came to land afterwards without any moisture on his hair or clothing. ‘Forgive me my wrong, O clerk,’ said he. ‘I am willing that God should pardon it,’ said Moeog; ‘and hadst thou not said this, the earth would have swallowed thee. Repent, for thou shalt die four days hence for the deed thou hast done.’ And this was fulfilled.

One day a thief stole a sheep from Moeog's flock; and the thief after eating the sheep went to the church to take (an oath on) the relics in it (that he had not stolen it). As he took hold of the relics, the ears of the sheep protruded from his mouth.

There was a certain nobleman in Rome of Latium who was paralysed, and neither saints nor leeches were able to heal him; and he came to Ireland to seek Moeog, having heard of his miracles. But Moeog had died before his arrival, so he entered the bier in which Moeog was being {MS page 147}carried, and he was healed at once by the grace of God and Moeog.

There was a man in Leinster who had lain sick for thirty years. He saw a vision of a chariot coming to him from heaven with an aged clerk in it, and a virgin. ‘Whence are ye!’ said the man. ‘I am Moeog,’ said the clerk, ‘and this is Brigit. To-morrow is my day, and the day after to-morrow is Brigit's day; and we are come from on high to glorify Jesus on our days. And be thou ready,’ said he, ‘(for) thou shalt die on the third day, and shalt obtain the heavenly kingdom for thy soul.’ The holy man, whose name was Fintan, went to Kildare in Magh Life, a church of Brigit's, and related to the people the vision which he had seen; and he died the third day, as Moeog had revealed to him, and he passed to heaven.

Moling was ordained as bishop in Ferns after Moeog. No single person ever went to sleep in Moeog's bed. ‘I can sleep in it,’ said Moling. He got into the bed, and was greatly troubled and diseased, and could not sleep in it. So he entreated Moeog earnestly for help, and {MS page 148} found it forthwith through his prayer to Moeog. Moling quitted the bed, and said that no man living was worthy to enter it.

And though Moeog passed to heaven, he did not cease from his miracles on earth. For by the earth (of his sepulchre), by his clothing, and by his relics were healed blind and deaf and lame and all other diseases. And though we have related some of the miracles of Moeog, we have not related the whole of them. On the second day of the month of February Moeog joined the company of angels and archangels in the Unity of the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.