Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Life of Mac Creiche (Author: [unknown])

chapter 12


Mac Creiche bade them farewell, and left his special lasting blessing with his mother's household; and then set out thence for Imlech Iubair to Ailbe, for he was the son of Ailbe's heart. And he had not long been there when he saw (standing) before him messengers from Tuath Mumu (Thomond) and Corcumruad, (to ask him) to go to Carn Meic Tail to confer with them; and also greeting was brought to Ailbe that he might entreat Mac Creiche to go to them. ‘I am loath to do this,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘but, though loath, I will go.’ He was feeble, and fey, and decrepit at that time, merely from old age. However Mac Creiche and Mainchin set out from Imlech Iubair


and came to Inis Tóma Finnlocha to Luchtigern, and he remains there from Saturday till Tuesday.


Mac Creiche related to Luchtigern the errand on which he had set out; and bade him come on the same business, viz. to ask for a respite; and said that it was no less incumbent on Luchtigern than on himself, to work for the good of Tuath Mumu. ‘That is true,’ said Luchtigern, ‘and I will come with thee.’ ‘With what number wilt thou come?’ said Mac Creiche. ‘There shall not come with me save a single man,’ replied Luchtigern ‘Why so?’ said Mac Creiche. ‘Only (this),’ said Luchtigern, ‘if thou hadst brought a great company with thee, I would take another great company with me; and as thou hast brought (only) a single man with thee, I will take one other man with me.’ The four of them proceeded till they came to Carn Meic Tail, where Tuath Mumu and Corcumruad met them; and they all gave their blessing to the clerks for coming to entreat for them a respite in the matter of the boroma from Aed, son of Eochaid, the King of Connaught.


‘Shall we go in front?’ said Luchtigern. ‘Not so,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘till all the stock be ready to come to us.’ Then (when this was done) he bade them go northwards with all the boroma. ‘If ye will believe my words,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘it is difficult for me to proceed, for I am feeble and decrepit, though I may be wiser in proportion.’ ‘Thy blessing will give aid to the young men,’ said they all. ‘That is true,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘and I will go, whatever God may give me for it. Is the little car still here, O Mainchin?’ said Mac Creiche. ‘It is indeed,’ said Mainchin. ‘Let me be carried hence,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘and be placed in my little car. And further, let all the stock be brought,’ said he, ‘cattle, clothing, and men, that it may all be mustered. Well then, O men of Corcumruad, is there in Ireland a single man of eight score years and seven, on whom such a journey is imposed besides myself?’


Then was the chariot driven in front of the cattle. ‘Arrange then, O men of Corcumroe,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘your kine with their cloths over them, and let them go behind me; and carry the gospels round them; and we shall all arrive together at the same place without your losing anything, and the tribute to be restored to us.’ The chariot set out in front


of the cattle from there to Magh Ai; and not a single cow strayed from the road to one side or the other, but all followed behind the chariot, and not a cloth was displaced from the position in which it had been arranged at first. While the clerks were saying their hours, the cattle would remain motionless; when they (the clerks) moved on, the cattle would move also; whereever the clerks halted for the night, Mainchin would come with Mac Creiche's Finnfaidech, the bell, on his back, and the pastoral staff of Luchtigern in his hand, (and go) round about the cattle. The cattle would lie down of their own accord, and would graze till the hour of tierce on the morrow, while the clerks were celebrating Mass. When Mac Creiche set out on the road in his chariot, all the cattle would get up in their order of march behind the chariot.


This was the order they kept till they reached Magh Ai northwards; and many were the miracles which they wrought till they reached the border of Magh Ai. There they found the druids of Aed, son of Eochaid, assembled to test the ignorance of the clerks; and the druids caused snow to descend on the clerks, so that they could not proceed. ‘Take that away,’ said the clerks. ‘We will not,’ said the druids. The clerks sained it, and a pleasant sun shone on them. The clerks continued their journey that day till nightfall. Then the druids brought a mist over the land from one hour to the same hour on the next day, so that none of them could proceed in it. The clerks took the mist away again. Then said the clerks to the druids: ‘Why did ye not take away yon snow and the mist, even as ye brought them?’ ‘We will not remove them,’ said they. ‘Ill fare for you your druidism henceforth till doom,’ said Mac Creiche.


Then they left the spoil on Magh Ai, and went themselves to address the king. They were not admitted into the fort, and they received no good answer from within. The clerks returned to their company, and slept that night on the plain without drink or food. A great thirst seized Mac Creiche. ‘If it be God's good pleasure,’ said he, ‘though abundant be the king's drink, may his thirst not be less than mine before the day shall come.’ They were drinking and making merry in the king's house till bed-time; and then they went to their


beds. The king waked from his sleep, and great thirst and drouth seized him; nor could there be found in Raith Cruachan enough to stanch his thirst. Thereupon day broke. The king's horses were brought, and he went to submit to the clerks. He blessed them. ‘Blessed art thou,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘provided that thou grantest to us every matter that we shall ask.’ ‘Give me a drink, O clerks,’ said he. Mac Creiche marked the ground, and a stream of water broke forth; and it is called to this day Mac Creiche's fount on Magh Cruachan. The cup of Aed son of Eochaid was filled therefrom, and it quenched his thirst.


Aed bowed to him then, and said: ‘I give to thee,’ said he, ‘whatever thou askest on this occasion.’ ‘I accept it,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘provided that the same tribute be never again demanded till doom.’ ‘It shall not be demanded till doom,’ said the king. They were then conducted into the fort. Now the king had an only son, who had never spoken from the day of his birth; and as soon as he saw Mac Creiche, he stood up and gave him a right fair greeting. Mac Creiche blessed him, and carried the gospels round him; and (thereafter) there was not a man in Ireland more eloquent than he; and his name was Uada Balb (i.e. the mute). Everyone rejoiced that the king's son had acquired the faculty of speech. Then Aed son of Eochaid offered from himself and from his son, and from everyone who should succeed to the kingdom of Connaught till doom seven cumals and a scruple from every one of Sil Muiredaig and Clann Taidg. Mac Creiche on his side bequeathed to them honour, valour, hospitality, and high spirit in their kings, milk in their kine, and corn in their soil. And if at any time this tribute should not be paid to Mac Creiche, he bequeathed to them that their land should be derelict, and themselves exiles.