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

Section 29


Laoghaire Lorc son of Ughaine Mor, son of Eochaidh Buadhach, son of Duach Laghrach, son of Fiachaidh Tolgrach, son of Muireadhach Bolgrach, son of Simeon Breac, son of Aodan Glas, son of Nuadha Fionn Fail, son of Giallchaidh, son of Oilill Olchaoin, son of Siorna Saoghalach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland two years. Ceasair Chruthach, daughter of the king of the French, wife of Ughaine Mor, was the mother of Laoghaire Lorc and Cobhthach Caol mBreagh. And he was called Laoghaire Lorc, for lorc means 'murder of a kinsman'; and Laoghaire treacherously slew Badhbhchaid, son of Eachaidh Buadhach, whence he got the name Laoghaire Lorc. Cobhthach Caol mBreagh, his own brother, slew Laoghaire Lorc at Dionn Riogh on the brink of the Bearbha.

It happened that Cobhthach Caol mBreagh had been pining through envy of Laoghaire Lorc on account of his holding the sovereignty of Ireland; and when Laoghaire heard that he was sick, he came with an armed force to visit him. When Cobhthach saw him, he said it was sad that his brother always had a suspicion of him and would not come into his presence without an escort. ‘Not so,’ said Laoghaire; ‘I will come peacefully into thy presence the next time unattended by an armed escort.’ Thereupon, Laoghaire bade farewell to Cobhthach. Now Cobhthach took the advice of a druid who was with him as to how he could lay hold on his kinsman to kill him. ‘What thou hast to do,’ said the druid, ‘is to feign death, and go into a bier as a corpse, and to send word of this to Laoghaire; and he will come to thee with only a small escort; and when he will


come into thy presence, he will lie on thy body lamenting thee, and do thou stab him in the abdomen with a dirk, and thus kill him.’ When Cobhthach had in this manner finished the killing of Laoghaire, he slew also Oilill Aine son of Laoghaire; and he recovered his health after he had done these deeds. He also commanded a young lad whose name was Maon, the son of Oilill Aine, to be brought into his presence, and made him eat a portion of his father's and grandfather's hearts, and to swallow a mouse with its tail. But the child lost his speech from the disgust he felt, and when he became speechless Cobhthach let him go. The child proceeded to Corca Dhuibhne, where he resided for a time with Scoiriath, who was king of that country, and thence went to France with a party of nine, though some seanchas say that it was to the country of Armenia he went. And the party who accompanied him declared that he was heir to the kingdom of Ireland; and from this it came to pass that the king of the French made him leader of his household guards; and he became very successful, and so was much talked about, and his fame was great in Ireland; and consequently many Irishmen followed him to France. And he remained there a long time of his life.

Cobhthach Caol mBreagh son of Ughaine Mor, son of Eachaidh Buadhach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty years, or, according to others, fifty years. Ceasair Chruthach, daughter of the king of the French, was his mother. He was called Cobhthach Caol mBreagh, for a severe disease afflicted him through envying his brother Laoghaire Lorc, who was king of Ireland before him, so that he got into decline, and his blood and flesh melted away, so that he was thin; and Magh Breagh is the name of the place in which he lay sick, and hence he was called Caol mBreagh; and this Cobhthach was slain by Labhraidh Loingseach, son of Oilill Aine, at Dionn Riogh, on the eve of greater Christmas, to avenge his father


and grandfather whom he had slain. On this some poet composed this stanza:
    1. Labhraidh Loinseach, sufficient his army,
      He slew Cobhthach in Dionn Riogh;
      With the lance-armed host beyond the sea-water,
      It was from these that the Lagenians were named.

Labhraidh Loingseach son of Oilill Aine, son of Laoghaire Lorc, son of Ughaine Mor of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland ten years; and he fell by Meilge son of Cobhthach Caol mBreagh. And the way in which he was allured from France to Ireland was that Moiriath daughter of Scoiriath, king of the territory of Feara Morc in west Munster, conceived a violent passion for him on account of the greatness of his name and fame. She equipped Craiftine the harper, a musician who was in Ireland at the time, that he might go after him to France with many love-presents, together with a love-lay in which she set forth the intensity of her passion for Maon; and when Craiftine arrived in France, he played a very sweet tune on his harp when he came to where Maon was, and sang the love-lay which Moiriath daughter of Scoiriath had composed for Maon. He was so delighted with Craiftine's playing that he said he considered the song and the tune melodious; and when his followers and Craiftine had heard this, they besought the king of the French to give him an auxiliary force so that he might go and regain his own territory; and the king gave him a fleetful, that is, two thousand two hundred, and they put out to sea; and no tidings whatever are given of them till they put into harbour at Loch Garman; and when they came ashore, they learned that Cobhthach Caol mBreagh was in Dionn Riogh and many of the Irish nobles with him, and thereupon they marched day and night, and attacked his fortress, and slew Cobhthach together with these nobles. It was then that a druid who was in the fortress inquired


who had executed that slaughter. ‘The mariner’ (An loingseach), replied the man outside. ‘Does the mariner speak?’ asked the druid. ‘He speaks’ (Labhraidh), said the other. And hence the name Labhraidh Loingseach clung to Maon ever since. And it was he who first made in Ireland spears with broad greenish blue heads; for laighne means spears having wide green-blue iron heads; and from these spears the name Laighin is given to the people of the province of Gailian, which is now called the province of Leinster. And the poet proves this, and sets forth the number of the host which came with Labhraidh Loingseach from France, in the following stanza:
    1. Two hundred and twenty hundred foreigners,
      With broad spears they came over;
      From these spears without flaw
      The Leinstermen are called Laighin.
Now when Labhraidh Loingseach had slain Cobhthach Caol mBreagh, and had taken possession of Ireland, he went along with Craiftine to visit Moiriath daughter of Scoiriath, king of the territory of Feara Morc, the lady-love who sent Craiftine to France to visit him. Labhraidh married her, and she was his queen during life.

Now the reason why Maon who was called Labhraidh Loingseach went to France was his relation to the king of the French. For a daughter of the king of the French called Ceasair Chruthach was the wife of Ughaine Mor and mother of his children, namely, Laoghaire Lorc and Cobhthach Caol mBreagh; and Labhradh Loingseach is a son's son to that Laoghaire Lorc. And it was on account of his relation to the French that he sought their protection.

Another reason why he went to France rather than to another country is that there was a special friendly understanding between the Leinstermen and the French. Indeed every province in Ireland had formed a special friendly alliance beyond the sea, as the alliance between clann Neill and the


Albanians, between the Munstermen and the Saxons, between the Ultonians and the Spanish, between the people of Connaught and the Welsh, as John son of Torna O Maolchonaire, chief professor of seanchus in Ireland, says in the following stanzas:
    1. Each is allied to its like,
      Though they be not of the same stock;
      The Ui Néill and the Albanians;
      The Saxons and the Munstermen;
    2. The Ultonians and the Spaniards,
      The battle-stay of every district;
      The Connaughtmen and the Welsh;
      The Leinstermen allied to the French.

From this alliance between the provinces and the abovenamed countries they became mutually assimilated in manners according to their friendship and affection for one another.

Know, O reader, that all true Leinstermen that survive of the race of Eireamhon are descended from this Labhraidh Loingseach, except O Nuallain who sprang from Cobhthach Caol mBreagh. The following are the principal families that sprang from the Leinstermen, namely, O Conchubhar Failghe with his family branches, O Caomhanaigh, O Tuathalaigh, O Branaigh, Mac Giolla Phadraig, O Duinn, O Diomasaigh, O Duibhidhir, muinntear Riain, and every branch that sprang from these families. It was from Cathaoir Mor that most of the Leinster families sprang. But it was not from him that Mac Giolla Phadraig sprang, since Mac Giolla Phadraig and himself separated in pedigree from one another at Breasal Breac son of Fiachaidh Foibhric, the fourteenth ancestor from Cathaoir upwards. Now this Breasal had two sons, namely, Lughaidh Loithfhionn and Connla; and the province of Leinster was divided between these two: thus Lughaidh and his descendants obtained from the Bearbha eastward, and Connla and his descendants from the Bearbha westwards. These sons and


these divisions are set forth in the following stanza from the poem which begins, The sacred history of the saints of Inis Fail:
    1. Lughaidh and Connla without vexation,
      Two sons of Breasal Breac the noble;
      The Ossorians sprang from Connla of the wounds,
      Lughaidh is ancestor of the Lagenians.

From Lughaidh also sprang O Duibhidhir; and they separated from Cathaoir in pedigree at the fifth ancestor from Cathaoir upwards. Now, Cathaoir Mor was son of Feidhlimidh Fiorurghlas, son of Cormac Gealta Gaoth, son of Nia Corb, son of Cu Chorb. And a son of this Cu Chorb was Cairbre Cluithiochair, from whom is O Dubhidhir; and from Nathi son of Criomhthann, son of Eanna Cinnsealach, the seventh in descent from Cathaoir Mor, came muinntear Riain.

Now, the second son of Ughaine Mor who had issue was Cobhthach Caol mBreagh. From him sprang all the race of Conn, both the descendants of Fiachaidh Sraibhtheine and of Eochaidh Doimhlen, and every other branch that sprang from Conn, as we shall set down hereafter in the genealogy of the sons of Milidh.