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

Section 40


It was this Tuathal Teachtmhar of whom we are speaking who imposed, the Boraimhe on the people of Leinster, as a tax to avenge the death of his two daughters, whose names were Fithir and Dairine. Now, there was a king over Leinster whose name was Eochaidh Aincheann, and he married Dairine, daughter of Tuathal Teachtmhar, and took her to Leinster to his own fortress, that is to Magh Luadhat; and some time after that he went to Tara and told Tuathal thatDairine had died, and asked him to give him his other daughter, that is Fithir, and Tuathal gave her to him, and he took her to Leinster to his own fortress; and when Fithir saw her sister Dairine alive before her, her soul quitted her body suddenly through shame; and Dairine having come to lament her died of her grief on the spot. And it was to relate this that the poet composed the following stanza:

    1. Fithir and Dairine
      Two daughters of princely Tuathal;
      Fithir died of shame,
      Dairine died of her grief.

Now when Tuathal heard of the death of the two ladies he became enraged, and sent out messengers in all directions to the nobles of Ireland to complain of the treachery which the king of Leinster had practised against him; and accordingly the nobles of Ireland gave aid in warriors and auxiliaries to Tuathal with a view to avenge this outrage; and when Tuathal resolved to plunder and despoil the people of Leinster though they were unable to meet him in the field, they agreed to pay a tribute, themselves, and their descendants to Tuathal, and to each king who should succeed him, as a retribution for the death of these ladies.

The following is the amount of the tribute that was paid every second year by the Leinstermen to the kings of Ireland


as a penalty for the death of the children of Tuathal, namely, three score hundred cows, three score hundred ounces of silver, three score hundred mantles, three score hundred hogs, three score hundred wethers, three score hundred bronze caldrons. And this tribute was thus divided:—a third part of it to the men of Connaught, a third to the Oirghialla, and a third to the Ui Neill. The tract entitled Boraimhe Laighean speaks thus in the following verses:
    1. Three score hundred kine with spancels,
      Gifts without fault,
      With three score hundred ounces
      Of silver in addition.
    2. With three score hundred fine mantles
      Of largest measure,
      With three score hundred large hogs
      Of lusty strength,
    3. With three score hundred wethers,
      Generous gift,
      With three score hundred brazen caldrons
      As a bright ornament.
    4. A third part to the men of Connaught,
      The ancient law,
      A third part to the Oirghilla,
      A third to the Ui Neill,

This was the tribute called Boraimhe Laighean, and it was in force during the reigns of forty kings who ruled Ireland, that is from the time of Tuathal Teachtmhar to the time that Fionnachta held the sovereignty of Ireland as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. There were forty kings
      Who carried off the Boromha
      From the time of Tuathal Tlachtgha
      To the time of Fear Fionnachta.

It was Moling who got it remitted by means of the respite until Monday which he got from Fionnachta; but the Monday Moling meant was the Monday of the Day of Judgment. The Leinstermen paid this tribute submissively


at times, but at other times they would not consent to pay it, whence arose much strife and conflict between both parties, in which a great number of the nobles of Ireland fell on either side. And Tuathal Teachtmhar fell by Mall son of Rochruidhe.

Mal son of Rochruidhe, son of Cathbhadh, son of Giallchaidh Fionn, son of Fionnchadh, son of Muireadhach, son of Fiachna Fionnamhnas, son of Irial Glunmhar, son of Conall Cearnach, son of Aimhirgin Iairghiunach, son of Cas Trillseach, son of Cas, son of Fachtna, son of Capa, son of Gionga, son of Rudhruighe Mor from whom clanna Rudhruighe are called, of the race of Ir son of Milidh, held the sovereignty of Ireland four years, and he fell by Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar.

Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar son of Tuathal Teachtmhar, son of Fiachaidh Fionnoladh, son of Fearadhach Fionn Feachtnach, son of Criomhthain Nia Nar, son of Lughaidh Riabh nDearg, son of the three Finneamhnas, sons of Eochaidh Feidhlioch of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland nine years. Baine daughter of Scal Balbh, wife of Tuathal Teachtmhar, was the mother of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, and he was called Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar through the excellence of the legal judgments delivered in Ireland in his time. Now, the law Feidhlimidh ordained in his own time in Ireland resembled the law which is called in Latin lex talionis; this means that when one injures or wounds another a similar infliction would be visited on himself in retribution; thus trespass for trespass, a cow for a cow, a hand for a hand, a leg for a leg, an eye for an eye, and so on for every other injury beginning from these. And the result of this law was that the men of Ireland improved in their behaviour in the time of Feidhlimidh, whence he was called Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar. And at length this man died on his pillow.

Cathaoir Mor son of Feidhlimidh Fiorurghlas, son of Cormac Gealta Gaoth, son of Nia Corb, son of Cu Corb, son of Mogh Corb, son of


Conchubhar Abhradhruadh, son of Fionn File, son of Rossa Ruadh, son of Fearghus Fairrge, son of Nuadha Neacht, son of Seadna Siothbhac,son of Lughaidh Loithfhionn, son of Breasal Breac, son of Fiachaidh Foibhric, son of Oilill Glas, son of Fearadhach Foghlas, son of Nuadha Fullon, son of Ealloit, son of Art, son of Mogh Airt, son of Criomhthann Coscrach,son of Feidhlimidh Foirthriun, son of Fearghus Fortamhail, son of Breasal Breodhamhan, son of Aonghus Ollamh, son of Oilill Bracain, son of Labhraidh Loingseach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland three years. Now Cathaoir had thirty sons, as the poet says in this stanza:
    1. Thirty sons, good the progeny,
      Sprang from Cathaoir of Cuala;
      Thrice ten—a beauteous company,
      A troop of champions with stout spears.
But twenty of these children went without issue, and the other ten had issue. Here are the names of the sons who had issue:—Rossa Failgheach senior of the sons who had issue, Daire Barrach, Breasal Einiochghlas, Fearghus, Oilill, Criomhthann, Deargmhosach, Eochaidh Teimhin, Aonghus, and Fiachaidh Aiceadha, the youngest of the children, although it was his descendants who mostly held the sovereignty of Leinster. From Fiachaidh Aiceadha son of Cathaoir Mor sprang O Broin and O Tuathail; from Breasal Bealach son of Fiachaidh Aiceadha sprang Mac Murchadha; from Rossa Failgheach son of Cathaoir Mor sprang O Conchubhair Failghe and O Diomasaigh and O Duinn and clan Colgan, as we shall afterwards state when we are giving the genealogy of the sons of Milidh. And this Cathaoir Mor fell by Conn Ceadchathach in the Battle of Magh hAgha.

Conn Ceadchathach son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty years, and was treacherously slain in the district of Tara, being found alone there by Tiobraide Tireach son of Mal, son of Rochruidhe, king of


Ulster. Indeed, Tiobraide sent fifty warriors disguised as women to slay him; and it was from Eamhain they set out to do that treacherous deed. Una daughter of the king of Lochloinn was the mother of this Conn. Mogh Nuadhat wrested half of Ireland from this Conn, having defeated him in ten battles. Sioda daughter of Flann son of Fiachaidh, one of the Earna, was the mother of Mogh Nuadhat. The contest between Mogh Nuadhat and Conn arose in this way: The Earna of the race of Fiachaidh Fear Mara of the race of Eireamhon had gained supremacy in Munster over the race of Eibhear, so that three of them held conjointly the sovereignty of all Munster, namely, Lughaidh Eallaightheach, Daire Dornmhar, and Aonghus. And when Mogh Nuadhat saw the race of Eireamhon holding the sovereignty of Munster, he proceeded to Leinster, where he had been brought up by Daire Barrach son of Cathoir Mor, and brought thence a numerous host from Daire to assist him in recovering the kingdom of Munster, which was his birthright. He first turned to Ui Liathain in the south of Munster, where the above-mentioned Aonghus had established his sway, and Mogh Nuadhat defeated him, and drove him from the territory, so that he went to seek the aid of Conn, who gave him five battallions, that is fifteen thousand fighting men. With this host he proceeded to the territory of Ui Liathain, where Mogh Nuadhat fought against him the Battle of Ard Neimhidh, in which he defeated him with great slaughter of his followers.

After this Mogh Nuadhat expelled the Earna from Munster, as many of them as would not submit to him, whence arose a great war between Mogh Nuadhat and Conn, and Mogh Nuadhat defeated him in ten battles: namely, the Battle of Brosnach and the Battle of Samhpait; the Battle of Sliabh Musach; the Battle of Gabhran; the Battle of Suama and the Battle of Grian and the Battle of Ath Luain; and the Battle of Magh Croich, wherein fell Fiachaidh


Rioghfhada son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar; the Battle of Asal and the Battle of Uisneach; and this conflict lasted till Mogh Nuadhat wrested half of Ireland from Conn, that is, the part of Ireland to the south of Gaillimh and Ath Cliath, Eiscir Riada being the boundary between them; and that half is called Leath Mogha, from Eoghan who was called Mogh Nuadhat; and the northern half is called Leath Cuinn, from Conn Ceadchathach. In declaration of this division some poet composed this stanza:
    1. Eoghan Mor, great was his success,
      Was as exalted as Conn Ceadchathach.
      These two, noble was their fame,
      Shared Ireland between them.

Another reason, also, why Mogh Nuadhat wrested half of Ireland from Conn is that there was a great famine in Ireland for seven years in his time; and, before the time of this famine came, Eoghan's druid foretold, long before the coming of the famine, that it would come upon all Ireland; and Eoghan, to make provision for the famine, used venison and fish for food, and stored the corn, and, moreover, he spent on corn all the rents and tributes he received, so that he filled his granaries; and, when the time of scarcity arrived, many of the men of Ireland came to him from all sides, and laid themselves under rent and tribute to Eoghan for his supporting them during that time of distress, as we read in the poem which begins, Eoghan Mor, great was his success:

    1. Eoghan transcended Conn,
      Not in number of battles and conflicts—
      More plenteously the food of adventurous Eoghan
      Was being distributed according to laws of peace.
    2. Lean famine rained on them—
      Its visitation was good for Eoghan—
      So that men eat their kind
      Throughout distressful Erin.

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    4. When men heard—far it spread—
      That Eoghan had ale and food in plenty,
      They bound themselves as vassals—good the custom—
      To Eoghan for their sustenance.

Mogh Nuadhat had four names, namely, Eoghan Fidhfheacach, Eoghan Mor, Eoghan Taoidhleach, and Mogh Nuadhat, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. Four names without grief
      Had Eoghan Mor,
      Eoghan Fidhfheacach, the generous, the hospitable,
      Eoghan Taoidhleach, Mogh Nuadhat.

Now, if thou desirest, to learn the reason of each of these names mentioned in this stanza, read the Coir Anmann and thou wilt find it there. Eoghan Mor's wife was Beara daughter of Eibhear Mor son of Modhna, king of Castile, and she bore him a son and two daughters; the son's name was Oilill Olom, and the two daughters' names Scoithniamh and Coinneal. Here is the seancha's proof of this:

    1. Beara daughter of great Eibhear
      Was mother of Oilill Olom,
      And mother of the two pure ones,
      Coinneal and Scoithniamh.
Moreover, Conn Ceadchathach slew Mogh Nuadhat in his bed, having treacherously, according to some seanchas, attacked him at early morning, as they were on the point of engaging in battle against each other on Magh Leana. This king of whom we are treating was called Conn Ceadchathach, from the hundreds of battles he fought against the provincial kings of Ireland, as this stanza sets forth:
    1. A hundred battles against great Munster
      Won Conn Ceadchathach the just,
      A hundred battles against Ulster with valour,
      Sixty battles against the Leinstermen.

Conn was treacherously slain by Tiobraide Tireach at Tara.


Conaire son of Mogh Lamha, son of Lughaidh Allathach, son of Cairbre Cromcheann, son of Daire Dornmhar, son of Cairbre Fionnmhor, son of Conaire Mor, son of Eidirsceol of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland seven years, and fell by Neimhidh, son of Sraibhgheann. This Conaire's mother was Eithne daughter of Lughaidh son of Daire. From this Conaire are descended the Dal Riada of Alba and of Ulster, the Baiscnigh from Leim Chon gCulainn, and the Muscruidhe, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. The Albanians of Riada from the promontory,
      The Baiscnigh from Leim Chon gCulainn,
      The Muscruidhe beyond, without reproach,
      Sprang from the fair Conaire.