Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Miracles of Senan (Author: Charles Plummer)

chapter 9

{editor's section 16}

A dreadful vision appeared to the elder, O'Cairill, a priest of Scattery, one night at mattins; and thus it came to him as a tanned jet-black form. ‘Christ's cross (be) between me and thee’, said the priest, ‘and who art thou?’ ‘Macbeth, son of Niall, son of Murchad’, said he. ‘What has blackened thee like that?’ said the elder. ‘That is soon told’ (said he) ‘the enormity of my torment and my sins; for thus I am, with a great horde of demons hovering about me, with many iron flails which they ply upon my head. And though this be grievous to me, more grievous is it to me that my father is settled on the boundary (lit. wall) of a saint, and woe to him who is there. And woe to me beyond anything that my father should be near the church, for whoever shall trespass on the boundary (lit. wall) of any saint, and especially Scattery, the three thousand saints who made alliance and union with Senan will avenge it on the doer, and on his seed after him. And when wrong or trespass is done to this sacred island these saints come from every quarter to avenge it on the perpetrators.’ And he recited this lay.


    1. {editor's section 17}Glorious the beauteous city to night,
      Scattery, fair its array.
      Blessed the corpse that goes under its soil;
      many a quiring angel is in its harbour.
    2. Woe to him who provokes the emaciated noble one,
      farfamed Senan of the melodious sages.
      This is the punishment which will be to him therefor,
      deprivation of heaven and earth.
    3. The avengers of the saint's wrath,
      promptly they come at the call;
      three thousand saints
      come nobly across the brine.
    4. {editor's section 18}
    5. Goodly the company of the saints
      of Derry which comes from the north at the cry;
      the company of Mochuda from afar,
      and Barry himself to meet them.
    6. There comes from Clonard afar
      a lean troop of clerics
      and the noble company of Ciaran of Clonmacnois,
      westwards to the meeting of Magh Mail.
    7. There comes Coemgen from Glendalough,
      there comes Berach the prince in sooth;
      Subach comes, noble the sage,
      comes goodly Beoog from the great wave.
    8. {editor's section 19}
    9. Moinend and Mac Sol aim in the West,
      promptly they come at the cry,
      fair noble Fergus the bishop, with eager
      fervid strength to meet them.
    10. Thither comes Maelcorgais
      to Iarlaithe on the bright path,
      from the East comes Follan,
      and Coman with a hundred monks.

    11. p.27

    12. Fair Brendan of the hosts comes,
      come a hundred from Cell wic Ronain;
      great Nessan comes across the brine
      — profitably come the Cronans.
    13. {editor's section 20}
    14. Cairell will come, venerable the champion,
      across the brine from Aran without fail;
      Feichin the fair of Fore
      comes across the water to help the churches.
    15. Lughna the warlike of Nenagh comes,
      and the host of Mughna comes willingly,
      reverently come the Colmans;
      Ah God, wondrous is the help.
    16. Eralt comes thither with (good) augury,
      and a host of the saints of Luigne,
      Manchan comes by dear God's will,
      and Berchan with his companies.
    17. {editor's section 21}
    18. Glorious Tigernan of Errew comes,
      Mocúa of Balla comes at last,
      reverently comes the devout foreigner;
      not gentle is the help at hand.
    19. Grellan of Creeve, hardy in battles,
      a favourite who attained every grace in his course;
      Fursa will come, generous the prince,
      though far off, quickly will he come.
    20. Cellach comes, the venerable son of Conmac,
      and the fierce generous Flannan,
      Úa Suanaigh comes here
      at the call with the fair hosts of Cannan.
    21. {editor's section 22}
    22. Colum son of Crimthan with grace,
      his voice was a stream which never dried,
      Caimin of Inishcaltra in battle came
      from his island at the sound.
    23. Ailbe, who surpassed the sun,
      comes hither at his will,
      and Mac Luighne and Macduach
      swiftly, and Mochuille.

    24. p.29

    25. Luchtigern comes quickly at our summons,
      Scenmán bears his shield into the contest;
      gracious their speech in this world,
      Blathmac with the host comes to our profit.
    26. {editor's section 23}
    27. Mac Leinin of the keen bright spear,
      Molaga at last, like a hero,
      Finnchu of Brigown of the garden;
      he will not stay till he comes to the contest (lit. trouble).
    28. Comgall, Cainnech, Lachtin with him,
      Mochua of Balla, venerable his conflict,
      Ruadhan of Lorrha comes with the host
      swiftly to the fort to aid us.
    29. Flann, son of glorious Airchellach comes,
      and the fierce generous Findan;
      Carthach comes who is a match (?) for three,
      and great Mainech son of Lairin.
    30. {editor's section 24}
    31. From the West comes the company of Aran
      across the brine of the rough crested sea;
      the saints of the venerable covenant come
      to the abbot who is glorious indeed.
    32. To Senan the venerable in his church,
      to the station of the slender noble ships,
      though his time was poor in his life,
      he has power with God's bosom Son.
    33. Great the company of the saint in sooth
      from Carn ui Neit to the Fews,
      three thousand is the sum
      of those who come to the onset.
    34. {editor's section 25}
    35. Woe to him who rouses up this host
      by outraging the city (monastery),
      short and scant will be his grace;
      long and lasting will be his ruth.

    36. p.31

    37. Woe to him who brings this host hither
      from the distant bounds of Cime;
      'tis no peace-making that will result from it,
      from outraging the church.
    38. I say a word which is not boastful of the venerable church,
      the most beauteous ever heard of;
      a company of angels is there unweariedly...
      A line missing; space left blank in the MS.
    39. {editor's section 26}
    40. A son of a son of life not lasting
      among the ranks of hosts not free,
      a firebrand for evermore were I,
      but for Senan of the noble hosts.
    41. Woe to him who steals the land of the saint,
      ill is it to have to meet them (i. e. the saints);
      woe to each man who contrived
      to be oppressively in his (Senan's) venerable store.
    42. Alas! my saint has stripped me bare,
      on me has fallen his headlong wrath;
      this it is which evilly separates me from him,
      my being oppressively in his sacred harbour.
    43. {editor's section 27}
    44. Woe to him who is near churches,
      woe to him who frequents not mass;
      better to be in the shelter of stone churches,
      than with evil men of the spear.
    45. A man who is under the wrath of the saint,
      I well know will not profit by it;
      his children and cattle perish,
      and himself will be in evil case in the other world.
    46. Though every road were thronged with my seed,
      I would not rely on them;
      I would not take his land from him,
      however numerous my mighty hosts.

    47. p.33

    48. Though it (the land) were called my field in clear possession,
      and though it were my father that occupied it,
      I will not enter on it save under security,
      if it be near the church.
    49. {editor's section 28}
    50. To take a sod of the land of the saints
      is displeasing to the Holy Spirit;
      woe to him who appropriates even a little of it,
      on his own 'sod of death' it will be avenged.
    51. Woe to him who makes a house on the wall (boundary) of a saint;
      woe to the sept which supports him (in doing so);
      woe to his sons and his men,
      he shall receive heavy pains for it.
    52. There is danger for a king who attacks a church,
      he shall fall by blade or point,
      without property, without security he goes forth;
      the Lord places him with Judas.
    53. {editor's section 29}
    54. Of all the ill I did in my body of clay,
      of all the rebellion,
      that which has ruined me most,
      is taking land from Senan.
    55. I bid every layman after me,
      though he obtain no land but (mere) heath,
      not to attack church lands,
      lest he go with his deed to hell.
    56. If I were to return to the meagre world,
      I would fight on behalf of study;
      I would not be cheek by jowl with his church
      for all the gold of Erin.
    57. This is my covering (lit. plumage) and my mantle,
      his soil thus under the side of my head;
      it is true that the church is a portion, even Leighlin (?)
      is a protection of the soul

    58. p.35

      {editor's section 30}
    59. It is good for every unhappy soul
      that the sound of the bell's voice be not evoked (lit. struck),
      though it be carried (lit. though it go) over it round its grave
      on a winter's night clear and cold.
    60. Good for every strong bright body its grave about it,
      though it be but short;
      I give thanks to the God of the stars
      for not being far from mass.
    61. Woe to the man who is neighbour (?) of the saint,
      of the fair pilgrim of the hosts;
      he will not be powerful (?) in his land,
      unless he be generous of his tribute.
    62. Not better is the man who owes rent or tribute
      to his (Senan's) own monk,
      than the cunning bright foreigner
      who comes with kine to consume pasture.
    63. {editor's section 31}
    64. The stone of the covenant in every contest
      is with the venerable and righteous band;
      a pool in the venerable monastery
      does service to the holy abbot.
    65. The field of the monastery is good in its site,
      abundant its increase since the beginning;
      the Angels' Height is there near it,
      a fortress which was never assailed by violence.
    66. The support of his fair generous ploughmen
      is the acre of the field of the glorious angels;
      the doe's milk is their fair portion,
      on the edge of the cemetery of the glorious saints.
    67. Glorious.

C. Plummer.