Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The History of Ireland (Author: Geoffrey Keating)

Section 18


Of the journeying of the race of Gaedbeal from Gothia to Spain as follows.

Now Bratha son of Deaghaidh, the eighth in descent from Eibhear Gluinfhionn, proceeded from Gothia by Crete and Sicily, having Europe on the right, to Spain, there being with him the crews of four ships, as Giolla Caomhain says in this stanza:

    1. Bratha son of Deaghaidh the beloved
      Came to Crete to Sicily;
      The crews of four well-rigged ships safely came,
      Having Europe on the right, to Spain.
From Bratha Braganza in Portugal is named, where lies the duchy of Braganza. Here are the four leaders that came with Bratha to Spain on that expedition: Oige and Uige, two sons of Ealloit son of Neanul, Manntan and Caicher. There were fourteen wedded couples and six servants in each of the ships; and they routed the natives thrice, after they had come to land, that is, the race of Tubal son of Japhet. However, a one-day's plague came afterwards upon the followers of the son of Ealloit; and they died all but ten. But after this they increased; and Breoghan son of Bratha was born.

The general chronicle of Spain, which was written by a French gentleman called Lobhaois, as we read in Edward Grimston, page 3, says that the first king who obtained sovereignty over all Spain was a person called Brigus, who built many castles; and it is he who, in the Book of Invasions, is called Breoghan, the grandfather of Milidh of Spain; and it is from him the Brigantes are so called; and, according to the same chronicle, it is from him that the country now called Castile was given the name Brigia in olden times; and a castle was the emblem on his shield, as is the case with the king of Spain now.


It was this Breoghan, too, who defeated Spain in many battles; and it was he who finished or built Brigansia near Corunna, and the tower of Breoghan in Corunna itself. Whence Giolla Caomhain composed this stanza:

    1. Many contests and battles
      Over the proud host of Spain
      Won Breoghan of conflicts and strifes,
      Who built Brigansia.

This Breoghan had ten sons, namely, Breogha, Fuad, Muirtheimhne, Cuailgne, Cuala, Bladh, Eibhle, Nar, Ioth, and Bile. And hereupon the same author composed this stanza:

    1. The ten sons of Breoghan without faltering;
      Breogha, Fuad, and Muirtheimhne,
      Cuailgne, Cuala, noble Bladh,
      Eibhle, Nar, Ioth, and Bile.
Now Galamh, who is called Milidh of Spain, was a son of the Bile here mentioned; and although Bile be the last-named of the sons of Breoghan in the stanza given above, the authors of our records assert that he was the eldest of Breoghan's sons.

And when the race of Breoghan had multiplied and had conquered the greater part of Spain, a mighty son of renowned deeds called Galamh was born to Bile son of Breoghan; and it is he who is named Milidh of Spain; and he was seized by a desire to go to Scythia with a fleetful of the young men of Spain to visit his kinsmen and to serve under them. Having resolved on this undertaking, he equipped thirty ships, placing in them their complement of warriors, launched on the Torrian Sea, and proceeded directly northeastward to Sicily and to Crete, until he reached Scythia; and when he had landed there, he sent word to Reafloir son of Neomann, who was king of Scythia at that time; and this Reafloir son of Neomann was of the race of Reafloir son of Rifill, whom we have mentioned above. Now when Milidh


came into the presence of Reafloir, the latter welcomed him; and shortly afterwards that king made him commander of the forces of Scythia, and gave him in marriage his own daughter, whose name was Seang daughter of Reafloir, and she bore him two sons, namely, Donn and Airioch Feabhruadh.

And when Milidh had passed some time in Scythia, he had much success against rebels and plunderers in that country, so that the inhabitants loved him greatly. When Reafloir the king perceived this, he grew afraid lest Milidh should oppose him and deprive him of the kingdom of Scythia; and accordingly he conspired to kill him, notwith-standing that he was his son-in-law. And when Milidh heard this, he sought an opportunity and killed Reafloir the king; and he then assembled and brought together his own followers and put to sea with the crews of threescore ships, and proceeded by direct route through the Torrian Sea till he reached the mouth of the Nile; and when he had landed there, he sent messengers to Pharao Nectonibus, informing him that he had arrived in the country; and that king sent messengers to Milidh; and when the latter came into his presence, he bade him welcome, and gave territory in that country to himself and his followers to abide in. This expedition of Milidh from Scythia to Egypt is related by Giolla Caomhain in this stanza:

    1. Milidh, whose progeny was good,
      Slew Reafloir, who was not weak;
      Hastily did he fly from yon land
      To the river Nile, where he obtained territory.

Understand, O reader, that the two sons whom Seang daughter of Reafloir bore to Mileadh, that is, Donn and Airioch Feabhruadh, were with him on his voyage to Egypt, their mother having died in Scythia.

At this time a great war took place between king Pharao and the king of Aethiopia. Pharao, when he had satisfied himself as to the valour and prowess of Milidh, made him commander of his army to


oppose the army of the Aethiopians, and he fought the Aethiopian army in many battles and conflicts; and Milidh was most successful, so that his fame and renown spread throughout the nations, so that, as a consequence, Pharao gave him his own daughter to wife, who was called Scota, from being the wife of Milidh, who was of the race of Scot. And she bore him two sons in Egypt, namely, Eibhear Fionn and Aimhirgin; and immediately on Milidh's reaching Egypt, he set twelve of the youths who accompanied him to learn the principal crafts of Egypt, so that each of them might become proficient in his own craft at the end of the seven years that he dwelt in Egypt.

As for Milidh, he bethought him that Caicher the Druid had foretold, long before, to his ancestor Laimhfhionn, that it was in Ireland his descendants would obtain permanent sovereignty; and accordingly he fitted out sixty ships, putting the full number of warriors into them, and bade farewell to Pharao. Thereupon, he proceeded from the mouth of the river Nile through the Torrian Sea till he landed on an island close to Thrace, which is called Irena; and it was here that Ir son of Milidh was born. Thence he proceeded to an island called Gothia, which lies in the channel leading to the northern ocean; and he dwelt there for some time, and it was there that Scota bore him a son called Colpa of the Sword. Thence they proceeded into the narrow sea which separates Asia from Europe on the north, and continued in a westerly direction, having Europe on the left, till they came to Cruithentuaith, which is called Alba. They plundered the coasts of that country, and afterwards proceeded, having Great Britain on their right, and reached the mouth of the river Rhine, and continued in a south-westerly direction, having France on the left, and after that they landed in Biscay.

Now, when they had arrived in that country, Milidh's kinsmen came to bid him welcome; and they informed him


that the Goths, and many other foreign tribes, were harassing both that country and all Spain. Upon hearing this, Milidh summoned his own supporters throughout Spain; and when they had assembled in one place, he set out with them, and with the fleetful that had come into the country with him, against the Goths and the foreign tribes, and defeated them in fifty-four battles, and banished them from Spain; and he himself and his kinsmen, that is, the descendants of Breoghan son of Bratha, took possession of the greater part of that country. At this time, Milidh had thirty-two sons, as the poet says:
    1. Thirty sons and two sons
      Had Milidh of bright hands;
      There came of these, we are certain,
      Only a single eight to Ireland.
Twenty-four of these were born to him in concubinage before he set out from Spain for Scythia, and the other eight were borne to him by the two wives he had in succession, namely, Seang daughter of Reafloir, prince of Scythia, who gave birth to two of them in Scythia, namely Donn and Aerioch Feabhruadh, and Scota, the daughter of Pharao Nectonibus, who gave birth to the remaining six of them, to wit, two in Egypt, Eibhear Fionn and Aimhirgin, Ir on the Thracian Sea, Colpa of the Sword in Gothia, Arannan and Eireamhon in Galicia, as Conaing the poet says in the following historical poem:
    1. Eight sons of Galamh of the shouts,
      Who was called Milidh of Spain,
      They hewed down a thousand fields;
      In what countries were they born?
    2. Airioch Feabhruadh and Donn of conflicts
      Were born in Scythia;
      There were born in stream-filled Egypt
      Eibhear Fionn and Aimhirgin;

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    4. Ir, no warrior was greater,
      Was born beside Thrace;
      Colpa of the Sword was born
      In Colpa's Glen in Gaothlaidhe;
    5. There were born at Breoghan's tower without grief
      Arannan and Eireamhon,
      The two youngest of the faultless warriors;
      The Son of God subdued their strength.