Wondrous illustrious miracles were done by Mac Creiche when great pestilences attacked all Ireland, and
p.76attacked especially Cáoille in Chosnama, which is called Tuath Mumu; viz. the long-clawed griffin, the buide Connuill, the bolg-sighi and the gerr-gar[gt ] and the broicsech of Loch Broicsige in Cenel Fermaic; a monster most vehement, strong, malignant, unwearied, with its bestial rage upon it; and it wreaked great slaughters throughout the land generally; and when it assailed the land on this wise, its thunderous race through the land was like the thunderbeat of fifty horses on the strand. And this is what it would do; it would open its ravenous raging maw like a mad dog, with its jaws all on fire, and emit a broad terrifying stream of harsh magical (lit. pagan) breath through the passage of its maw, and every man whom that poisonous breath touched and every animal, died a premature and sudden death, both cattle and men; so that it stripped almost the whole land of its good men, and a great number of them left it altogether; and this was the extent of their losses, to wit, men and women to the number of sixty every day.
And after this their native patron saints were summoned to them, namely Maeldála, and Mac Aiblen, and Blathmac, and all the saints of the land, and thrice nine sages and seniors to meet all of them on the same day. And all the people were assembled together to receive the holy patrons. And when they saw them, they raised piteous and pathetic cries, intreating and upbraiding (lit. cheek-reddening) the high holy patrons. Piteous are these great heavy cries, said Blathmac. That is true, said the clerks. It happened that the monster was at that very time in the rear of the crowds, wreaking his wrath upon them. Great fear and terror seized the clerks; and this is what they did, they rang their bells and handbells, and smote their relics and pastoral staffs together, and all the people shouted, men, children, and women. But the monster was (only) the more fierce; and the clerks were sore abashed at the helpless distress of the country.
Then said Blathmac: Let us all fast to God, said he, that He would reveal to us to whom it is destined to help and relieve us. And thus they did, both men and women, fasting in hope of their help by the clerks. And the clerks proceeded to sing sweetly their psalms, and to entreat Jesus to tell them from whom should come their help and relief. And they prolonged this till two thirds of the night had passed; and the multitudes
p.77were sore harassed, dreading the day for the terror of the monster; for this was its wont, it would come out of the loch with the dappled clouds of dawn, and begin ravaging them till its yellow hue extended over the sun; and would return to the same loch in the last third of the day.
The clerks said their mattins; and after mattins they slept.The angel Victor came to Blathmac in his sleep, and said: Pax uobis, that is, God's peace be with you. And the lofty archangel appeared to Blathmac; and Blathmac enquired of him, and said; Are we destined ever to receive help and relief? You are, said the angel. Go to Ailbe's bosom son, and it is to him that God has granted to help and relieve you. Where is that worthy son of God? said Blathmac. On the brink of Loch Lein, said the angel. How is the country to be protected till the sage come? said Blathmac. That is easy, said the angel; I will sing a lullaby in its ear, and it will sleep soundly for three days and three nights. Not that only, said Blathmac, but until he (i.e. Mac Creiche) come across from the other side of the Shannon. It shall be, said the angel, as thou deemest best. And the angel did as he said from first to last; he drove the broicsech before him to the loch, and sang an angelic chant, which laid the monster asleep. And the angel departed from it then.
Thereupon Blathmac awoke, and the day arose. And when they saw the day with its full brilliance, all the people came to the clerks, fleeing all together for fear of the monster. Then Blathmac came joyfully to them, and they asked news of him; and he told them everything from first to last, and said these words:
- There appeared to me the angel of Jesus
Above the hosts;
Angel of the King who is surest,
A noble deed renowned.
- Victor the angel, he came to me
In heavenly raiment,
He who by God's will ungrudgingly
- The angel of Jesus said to me,
A certain converse,
That I should go to the famed and gifted son
Of Ailbe's bosom.
- 'Go to pious Mac Creiche,'
Said the angel,
'With the purity of his thoughts he is your fortress,
He is your stronghold.'
- He promised that he would curb the monster,
Though a hard encounter,
Till Mac Creiche whom I love should come
Across the Shannon.
- He came to me to help us from Jesus
Against all adversity,
Victor, the angel, without panic,
It is he who appeared.
After this Blathmac said to them all: Go, my beloved comrades, to Mac Creiche, for it is to him that God has granted to help and relieve you, and not to us. How shall we go there? said the good men. Let your nobles and your chief men go, said Blathmac, and go under servile rent of service to him and to his monks after him, to free you from the monster; and offer a tribute to him every third year, men, children, and women. Wilt thou come with us? said the chiefs. I will indeed, said Blathmac.