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

Section 34


Of the death of Ceat son of Magha, as follows.

This Ceat was a valiant man and during his life he was an enemy and constant plunderer of the Ultonians. On a certain day this Ceat proceeded to Ulster to wreak vengeance as was his wont; and there was heavy snow at that time; and as he was returning with the heads of three warriors whom he had slain on that expedition, Conall Cearnach pursued him and seized him at Ath Ceit. They fought; and Ceat fell in the conflict; and Conall was severely wounded, and lapsed into a trance on the spot after he had lost a large quantity of blood. Thereupon Bealchu of Breithfne, a Connaught champion, came to the place of conflict, where he found Ceat dead and Conall on the point of death, and said that it was well these two wolves who had caused the ruin of Ireland were in so sad a plight. ‘That is true,’ said Conall; ‘and in retribution for all the injury I have inflicted on Connaught do thou kill me.’ Now he said this because he would give the kingdom of Ireland that some other warrior should wound him so that a single Connaught warrior should not have the renown of slaying him. ‘I will not slay thee,’ said Bealchu, ‘since the plight thou art in is almost as bad as death. However, I will take thee with me and apply remedies to thee; and if thou recoverest from thy wounds, I will fight thee in single combat, so that I may avenge on thee all the injury and affliction thou hast brought on Connaught.’ Thereupon he placed him in a litter and took him to his own house, and there applied remedies to him, until is wounds were healed.

But when Bealchu saw that Conall was recovering and his natural strength growing in him once more, he became afraid of him, and arranged for three warriors, his own sons, to slay him treacherously in bed by night. But Conall got a hint of


this treacherous conspiracy; and on the night for which it was arranged that the sons should come to commit the murder, Conall said to Bealchu that he must exchange beds with him, else he would kill him. And accordingly Bealchu lay against his will in Conall's bed, and Conall lay in Bealchu's bed. And those three warriors, the sons of Bealchu, came to the bed in which Conall used to be and slew their father in mistake for Conall. Now when Conall observed that they had slain their father in mistake for himself, he sprang upon them and killed all three, and beheaded them and their father; and on the following day he took their heads to Eamhain in triumph, and in commemoration of this deed is the following quatrain from the seanchus:
    1. Among the feats of Conall Cearnach
      Was the sack of Manainn, the spoiling of slaves,
      And the slaying of the three sons of Bealchu of Breithfne,
      After he had slain Lughaidh son of three hounds.
So far the murder of Ceat son of Magha and of Bealchu of Breithfne and his three sons. And there are many great deeds besides this that might be laid to the credit of Conall which we shall leave untold on this occasion.

Of the event which led to the death of Fearghus son of Rogh, as follows.

When Fearghus was in banishment in Connaught, it happened that he was with Oilill and Meadhbh in Magh Ai, where they had a dwelling-fortress; and one day, when they went out to the shore of a lake that was near the lios, Oilill asked Fearghus to go and swim in the lake, and Fearghus did so. Now while Fearghus was swimming, Meadhbh was seized by a desire of swimming with him; and when she had gone into the lake with Fearghus, Oilill grew jealous; and he ordered a kinsman of his called Lughaidh Dalleigheas who was with him to cast a spear at Fearghus


which pierced him through the breast; and Fearghus came ashore on account of the wound caused by that cast, and extracted the spear from his body, and cast it in the direction of Oilill; and it pierced a greyhound that was near his chariot, and thereupon Fearghus fell and died, and was buried on the shore of the same lake. It was this Fearghus who slew Fiachna son of Conchubhar, and the champion Geirrgheann son of Mollaidh, and Eoghan son of Durrthacht, king of Fearnmhuighe, and many heroes and warriors besides whom we shall not mention here. It was he also who carried off the great spoil from Ulster which caused much mischief and discord between Connaughtmen and Ulstermen, so that the dubhloingeas that went with Fearghus into exile from Ulster remained seven years in Connaught, or according to others ten years, spoiling and plundering Ulster on account of the death of the sons of Uisneach, while the Ulstermen were in the same way making an onslaught on them and on the men of Connaught on account of the spoil that Fearghus took from them, as well as every other injury which the dubhloingeas—: that is, the exile host who went with Fearghus to Connaught—and the men of Connaught themselves had done them; so that the injury and damage they inflicted on one another were so great that books have been written about them which it would be tedious to mention, and would take too long to describe here.

The cause which led to the death of Laoghaire Buadhach, as follows.

Conchubhar had a poet called Aodh son of Ainneann, who carried on an intrigue with Maghain, Conchubhar's wife; and when Conchubhar discovered this, the judgment he passed on the poet was that he be drowned in Loch Laoghaire; and at the king's command a company went with him to drown him. And when Laoghaire Buadhach's steward saw this, he went to Laoghaire and said that there was no place in Ireland where the poet could be drowned but at his own door.


Thereupon Laoghaire leaped out, and his poll struck against the upper door-post of the house, and his skull was broken; after this he made a sudden onslaught on the company, and slew them, and rescued the poet; and he himself died on the spot. Such was the end of Laoghaire Buadhach.