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

Section 24


Of the kings of the children of Milidh before the Faith and of the length of their sovereignty in Ireland as follows.

Eireamhon, after being a year in the joint sovereignty of Ireland with Eibhear, held the full sovereignty for fourteen years after Eibhear was slain in the Battle of Airgeadros, according to some seanchas, as this stanza says:

    1. Fourteen years, I know it,
      Did Eireamhon hold chief sovereignty
      After the Battle of Airgeadros with valour,
      Where Eibhear fell outright.
However, the common opinion of seanchas is, that it was not in the Battle of Airgeadros that Eibhear was slain, but in the Battle of Geisill, as we have stated above. It was in the time of Eireamhon that the following events took place. The Battle of Cuil Caicheir, a year after the death of Eibhear, it was there that Caicher, leader of the followers of Eibhear, fell by Aimhirgin son of Milidh; a year after that Aimhirgin was slain by Eireamhon in the Battle of Bile Theineadh in Cuil Breagh; and in that year also the nine Brosnas of Eile and the three Uinnses of Ui nOiliolla burst over land in Ireland. The third year after that Fulman and Manntan, two leaders of the followers of Eibhear, feIl by Eireamhon in the Battle of Breoghan in Freamhainn. Eight lakes burst over land in Ireland in the reign of Eireamhon,


namely, Loch Cime, Magh Sreing being the name of the plain over which the lake burst, Loch Buadhaigh, Loch Bagha, Loch Rein, Loch Fionnmhaighe, Loch Greine, Loch Riach, Magh Maoin being the name of the plain over which it burst; Lough Da Chaoch in Leinster, and Loch Laogh in Ulster. The fourth year after this, Un, En, and Eatan were slain by Eireamhon in the Battle of Comhruire in Meath, and their graves were made there. In the same year the three Sucas burst over land in Connaught.

Some seanchas assert that it was Eireamhon who portioned the five provinces of Ireland among some of the leaders who were with him after the death of Eibhear. First he gave the province of Leinster to Criomhthann Sciathbheal of the Domhnanncha, a noble of the relicts of the Fir Bolg. He gave, moreover, the two provinces of Munster to the four sons of Eibhear, to wit, Er, Orba, Fearon, and Feargna. He gave besides the province of Connaught to Un son of Oige and to Eatan, two leaders who had come with him from Spain. Similarly he left the province of Ulster to Eibhear son of Ir, his own brother's son.

It was in the reign of Eireamhon also that the Cruithnigh, or Picts, a tribe who came from Thrace, arrived in Ireland; and according to Cormac son of Cuileannan, in his Psaltair, the reason of their leaving Thrace was that Policornus, king of Thrace, designed to force a beautiful marriageable daughter of Gud, chief of the Cruithnigh, while these latter were at free quarters in the country. When, however, Gud and his Cruithnigh suspected that the king was about to force the maiden, they slew him, and accordingly quitted the country, and went from country to country till they reached France, where they were quartered and got lands from the king of the French, and there they built a city called Pictavium, from the Picts or Cruithnigh who built it. And when the king of the French heard of the fame of the maiden's


beauty, he sought to have her as a concubine. When Gud heard this, he fled with all his people to Ireland with the maiden; and while they were on the sea the maiden died in their midst; and they themselves afterwards put into port at Innbhear Slainghe. Beda agrees with this, except that he says that it was in the north of Ireland they landed, in the first chapter of the first book of the History of the Saxon Church, where he says: The Pictish race came from Scythia, as is stated, in a small fleet of long vessels over the ocean and being driven by the force or blowing of the winds outside all the boundaries of Britain, came to Ireland; and on finding the Scotic race before them, they asked for a place of abode there for themselves, but obtained it not. {Contigit gentem Pictorum de Scythia (ut perhibent) longis navibus non multis oceanum ingressam, circumagente flatu ventorum, extra fines omnes Britanniae Hiberniam pervenisse, eiusque septemtrionales oras intrasse, atque inventa ibi gente Scotorum sibi quoque in partibus illius sedes petiisse nec impetrare potuisse.}’’

However, it was not in the north of Ireland they landed, but at the mouth of Innbhear Slainghe in the harbour of Loch Garman, as we have said. And Criomhthann Sciathbheal, who held the sovereignty of Leinster from Eireamhon at that time, came to meet them there, and entered into friendship with them.

The leaders of that fleet were Gud and his son Cathluan; and the reason why Criomhthann entered into friendship with them was because some British nobles, who were called Tuatha Fiodhgha, were making conquests in the Fotharta on either side of the mouth of the Slaney. Such were these people that the weapons of every one of them were poisoned, so that, be the wound inflicted by them small or great, no remedy whatever availed the wounded man, but he must die. Criomhthann heard that there was a skilful druid called Trostan amongst the Cruithnigh who could furnish himself and his people with an antidote against the poison with which the weapons of the Tuatha Fiodhgha were wont to be charged; and he asked Triostan what remedy he should use against the poison of the weapons of those people we have mentioned. ‘Get thrice fifty white hornless cows milked,’ said Trostan, ‘and let the milk got from them be placed in a


hollow in the middle of the plain in which you are wont to meet them in battle, and offer them battle on that same plain; and let each one of your followers who shall have been wounded by them go to the hollow and bathe, and he will be healed from the venom of the poison.’ Criomhthann did as the druid had advised, and fought the Battle of Ard Leamhnachta against the Tuatha Fiodhgha. He defeated and executed great slaughter on them in that place. From this event, and from the battle which took place, the battle has been called the Battle of Ard Leamhnachta ever since. And in proof of this account the poet has composed the following historic poem:
    1. Ard Leamhnachta in the southern country
      Each noble and bard may inquire
      Whence is derived the name of the land
      Which it has borne from the time of Criomhthann;
    2. Criomhthann Sciaithbheal it was who fought,
      To prevent the slaughter of his warriors,
      Protecting them from the sharp poison of the weapons
      Of the hateful, horrid giants.
    3. Six of the Cruithnigh, God so ordained,
      Came from the land of Thrace,
      Soilen, Ulpia, Neachtain the noble,
      Aonghus, Leathan, and Trostan.
    4. God granted them, through might
      To heal them from the sharp poison of the wounds,
      And to protect them from the bitter venom of the weapons
      Of the powerful, very fierce giants.
    5. The true knowledge obtained for them
      By the druid of the Cruithnigh, at once, was
      That thrice fifty hornless cows of the plain
      Be milked in one deep hollow.
    6. The battle was pressingly fought
      Around the hollow where the new milk was,
      And the battle went strongly against
      The giants of high Banbha.

Now as to the Cruithnigh, that is, Gud and his son Cathluan, they resolved to invade Leinster; and when


Eireamhon heard this, he assembled a numerous army, and went to meet them. When the Cruithnigh saw that they were not strong enough to fight Eireamhon, they entered into peace and friendship with him. Eireamhon told them that there was a country to the north-east of Ireland, and bade them go and occupy it. Then, according to Beda, in the first chapter of the first book of the History of Sacsa, the Cruithnigh asked Eireamhon to give them some of the noble marriageable ladies he had with him, some of the wives of the leaders who had come with him from Spain, and whose husbands were slain; and they bound themselves by the sun and moon that the possession of the kingdom of Cruitheantuath, which is now called Alba, should be held by right of the female rather than by that of the male progeny to the end of the world. Upon these conditions Eireamhon gave them three women, namely, the wife of Breas, the wife of Buas, and the wife of Buaidhne; and Cathluan, who was their supreme leader, took one of these women to wife; and after that they proceeded to Cruitheantuath; and Cathluan conquered that country, and was the first king of Alba of the race of the Cruithnigh. There were seventy kings of the Cruithnigh or Picts on the throne of Alba after him, as we read in the Psalter of Cashel in the poem beginning: All ye learned of Alba. Thus it speaks on this matter:
    1. The Cruithnigh seized it after that,
      When they had come from the land of Erin;
      Ten and sixty very noble kings
      Of those ruled the land of the Cruithnigh.
    2. Cathluan, the first of these kings,
      I will tell you briefly;
      The last king of them was
      The stout champion Constantin.

But Trostan the Druid and the five other Cruithnigh mentioned in the above poem, remained in Ireland after


Cathluan, and got lands from Eireamhon in the Plain of Breagh in Meath. The fourteenth year after the death of Eibhear, Eireamhon died in Airgeadros at Raith Beitheach, beside the Feoir, and there he was buried. The same year the river called the Eithne burst over land in Ui Neill; and the river called Freaghobhal burst over land between Dal nAruidhe and Dal Riada.