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

Section 47


Cairbre Lithfeachair son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach, son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar, son of Fiachaidh Fionnoluidh of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-seven years; and he was called Cairbre Lithfeachair because it was near the Lithfe in Leinster that he was brought up. And his mother was Eithne Ollamhdha daughter of Dunlaing son of Eanna Nia. And Cairbre was slain at the Battle of Gabhra by Simeon son of Cearb, one of the Fortuatha of Leinster; and the reason why the Battle of Gabhra was fought was: Samhaoir daughter of Fionn son of Cumhall was the wife of Cormac Cas son of Oilill Olom, and she was the mother of Tinne and Connla and Mogh Corb; and it was by reason of that relationship that Mogh Corb protected his mother's brother, that is, Oisin son of Fionn, and the clanna Baoiscne from being overpowered by Cairbre Lithfeachair and Aodh Caomh son of Garaidh Glundubh of the race of Morna; and at that time the clanna Morna formed the regular army of Ireland; and they were at enmity with Fionn and with the clanna Baoiscne for seven years. Hence the party of Garaidh Glundubh incited Cairbre Lithfeachair and the provincial kings of Ireland to dethrone Mogh Corb in the hope that, as a consequence of this, the clanna Baoiscne would be banished. And this led to the Battle of Gabhra.

This Mogh Corb, with the manning of 300 ships, went with two brothers of his mother (they were sons of the king of Lochloinn) to obtain for them the sovereignty of Lochloinn from the king of Lochloinn, whose name was Iarus son of Iarnmhor, and he defeated the king in battle, and slew him


and his four sons and his eight brothers, and the majority of the nobles of Lochloinn, and left his mother's two brothers in the possession of the country of Lochloinn.

Fothaidh Airgtheach and Fothaidh Cairptheach, two sons of Mac Con, son of Macniadh, son of Lughaidh, son of Daire, son of Fear Uileann of the race of Lughaidh son of Ioth, assumed the sovereignty of Ireland. They both reigned conjointly one year. And Fothaidh Cairptheach fell by Fothaidh Airgtheach, and Fothaidh Airgtheach fell by the Fian in the Battle of Ollarbha.

Fiachaidh Sraibhthine son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty-three years, and fell by the three Collas in the Battle of Dubhchumair. Aoife, daughter of the king of the Gallghaedheal, was the wife of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, and mother of Muireadhach Tireach; and he was called Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, for it was at Dun Sraibhthine i Connaught he was fostered. Now in order that this event may be better understood, we shall set down here, from the Psalter of Cashel, the cause of the Battle of Dubhchumair, and an account of the relationship that existed between the Collas and Fiachaidh Sraibhthine.

It is at Cairbre Lithfeachair that the Oirghialla—that is, the family of the Collas—separate in their pedigree from the clanna Neill and the Connachtaigh. And Fiachaidh Sraibhthine son of Cairbre Lithfeachair was grandfather of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon son of Muireadhach Tireach, son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine; and it is from this Muireadhach that the clanna Neill and the men of Connaught are descended. Eochaidh Doimhlean son of Cairbre Lithfeachair was brother to Fiachaidh Sraibhthine; and this Eochaidh had three sons, to wit, the three Collas, and from these are descended the Ui Mac Uais, the Ui Criomhthainn, and the Modhornaigh. The real names of the three Collas referred to were Cairioll,


Muireadhach, and Aodh. Here is the seancha's statement of this matter:
    1. The three sons of Eochaidh, great their fame,
      The three Collas we have heard of;
      Colla Meann, Colla fo Chri,
      And Colla Uais the high king.
    2. The names of the three I know,
      And they slew the high king
      On yon wide bright plain,
      Aodh Muireadhach and Cairioll.
    3. Cairioll, Colla Uais the king,
      Muireadhach, Colla fo Chri,
      Aodh, Colla Meann, great his fame;
      These three were mighty beyond all strength.

Aileach daughter of Udhaire king of Alba, wife of Eochaidh Doimhlean, was the mother of the three Collas. It was Fiachaidh Sraibhthine these three Collas slew, though a kinsman, which resulted in the sovereignty of Ireland being lost to themselves. Now this was the cause of that murder of a kinsman. When Fiachaidh was king of Ireland, he had a good son called Muireadhach Tireach, and he was leader in battle for his father, for the king himself would not be allowed into battle. On a certain occasion Muireadhach went into Munster accompanied by a host and carried off hostages and spoils. Fiachaidh Sraibhtine happened then to be at Dubhchumair, beside Taillte on the south side, and a host with him there. His brother's three sons, that is the Collas, had another host at Dubhchumair near Taillte helping Fiachaidh Sraibhthine. When they heard of the success of Muireadhach in Muster, people generally said that he was the heir-presumptive to the sovereignty of Ireland. ‘What shall become of us,’ said the Collas, ‘if Muireadhach become king of Ireland after Fiachaidh?’ ‘What we had better do,’ said they, ‘is to give battle to the old king; and when we have slain himself and his host, we shall overcome his son when he will come against us.’


Fiachaidh at that time had a druid with him called Dubhchumair; and he spoke thus: ‘O king,’ said he, ‘if thou overcomest the Collas and slayest them, there will never be a king of thy offspring after thee in Ireland; and if it be they who shall succeed and slay thee there will never be a king of Ireland of their progeny.’ ‘Well then,’ said the king, ‘I prefer to fall by the Collas, and the kingdom to pass to my descendants after me, than that I should slay the Collas, and that the sovereignty of Ireland should go to their descendants after them.’ Thereupon the two hosts got ready for battle, and made onslaught on each other from either side; and Fiachaidh Sraibhthine was defeated and slain in that battle, as Dubhchumair had foretold of him.

Colla Uais son of Eochaidh Doimhlean, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aonfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland four years, and was then with his brothers banished into Alba by Muireadhach Tireach son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, where they were taken into military service by their kinsmen. For Aileach daughter of Udhaire, king of Alba, the wife of Eochaidh Doimhlean, was the mother of the three Collas. Cairioll was called Colla Uais from his being distinguished above the other Collas, since he held the sovereignty of Ireland, and the others did not.

Muireadhach Tireah son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn Ceadchathach of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirty-three years, and fell by Caolbhach son of Cronn Badhraoi. Muireann daughter of Fiachaidh, king of Cineal Eoghain, the wife of Muireadhach Tireach, was mother of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon. As to the Collas they were banished by Muireadhach into Scotland, as we have said; and their host numbered three hundred; and the king of Alba received them with affection, and took them into military service on account of their


valour; and they remained there three years. They came thence to Ireland—that is, Colla Meann and Colla da Chrioch and Colla Uais—in the hope that Muireadhach Tireach might slay them, though being his kinsmen, and that in consequece of this parricide the sovereignty of Ireland might go to their descendants. And they brought with them, as an escort, only nine warriors each, and they neither halted nor rested till they reached Tara and came into the presence of the king, Muireadhach Tireach. ‘Have ye news for us, O kinsmen?’ said the king. ‘We have no news,’ said they, ‘that would affect thee more than the deed we ourselves have done, that is, that we have slain thy father.’ ‘We have that news ourselves,’ said Muireadhach; ‘and it matters not to you, as it shall not be avenged on you; but the misfortune it has brought upon you will not pass away from you.’ ‘That is the reproach of a coward,’ said the Collas. ‘Be ye not dejected; ye are welcome,’ said he. They spent a long time after this in close friendship; and the Collas were leaders in battle for the king.

The king told them, then, that it was time they should win territory for their descendants. ‘In what territory dost thou wish us to make sword-land?’—there were no more daring youths in Ireland in their time than they. ‘Rise out against the Ultonians,’ said he; ‘for ye have just cause of battle with them, since an attendant of the king of Ulster burned the beard or hair of Cormac son of Art with a candle in Magh Breagh. Now, when Cormac had become king of Ireland, a strong force of the Ultonians came against him and drove him into Connaught, having carried off hostages from him., After that they made peace with Cormac and got ready a feast for him in north Magh Breagh. And it was there that an attendant of the king of Ulster burned Cormac's hair. And that deed is still unavenged.’

Upon this, king Muireadhach gave them a large host; and the Collas went thence


into the province of Connaught, and the men of Connaught took them into military fostege. After this, the men of Connaught joined in their march with a force of seven battalions; and they reached Carn Achuidh Leithdheirg in Fearnmhagh. From that hill they fought seven battles against the Ultonians, that is a battle each day for a week. Six of these battles were fought by the Connaughtmen, and by the Collas was fought the seventh, in which Fearghus Fogha,king of Eamhain, was slain; and the Ultonians were defeated and pursued from Carn Achuidh Leithdheirg to Gleann Righe, and, after inflicting great slaughter on them, the Collas returned and attacked Emhain, which they plundered and burned, so that it has ever since remained without a king to inhabit it. On that occasion, the Collas wrested the following territory from the Ultonians, namely, Modharnuigh, Ui Criomthainn, and Ui Mac Uais. Colla Meann took possession of Modharnuigh, and Colla da Chrioch of Ui Criomhthainn, and Colla Uais of Ui Mac Uais. And Muireadhach Tireach fell by Caolbhaidh son of Cronn Badhraoi.

Caolbhaidh son of Cronn Badhraoi, son of Eochaidh Cobha, son of Lughaidh, son of Rossa, son of Iomchaidh, son of Feidhlimidh, son of Cas, son of Fiachaidh Aruidhe, son of Aonghus Gaibhnionn, son of Fearghus Foghlas, son of Tiobraide Tireach, son of Breasal, son of Fearb, son of Mal, son of Rochruidhe, son of Cathbhadh, son of Giallchaidh, son of Cunnchaidh, son of Fionnchaidh, son of Muireadhach, son of Fiachaidh Fionnamhnus, son of Irial Glunmhar, son of Conall Cearnach of the race of Ir son of Milidh, held the sovereignty of Ireland one year. Inneacht daughter of Lughaidh was the mother of Caolbhaidh son of Cronn Badhraoi; and he was slain by Eochaidh Muighmheadhon.

Eochaidh Muighmheadhon son of Muireadhach Tireach, son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine, son of Cairbre Lithfeachair, son of Cormac Ulfhada son of Art Aoinfhear, son of Conn


Ceadchathach, held the sovereignty of Ireland seven years. Moingfhionn daughter of Fiodhach, wife of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, was mother of Brian and of Fiachhaidh Fearghus and Oilill. And Cairrionn Chasdubh daughter of the king of Britain, another wife of Eochaidh's, was mother of Niall Naoighiallach. And he was called Eochaidh Muighmheadhon because, as to his head and breast, he resembled the king, and, as to his waist, he resembled a slave called Mionghadhach, and hence he was called Muighmheadhon.

It was over Eochaidh Muighmheadhon that Eanna Cinnsealach, king of Leinster, won the Battle of Cruachan Claonta; and therein Ceadnathach, filé to Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, was taken prisoner. But when Eanna came up, he inquired of his party why they had spared the druid. ‘Thou wouldst never,’ said the druid, ‘conquer from this hill on which I am, if I were to live.’ Upon this Eanna transfixed him with his spear; and, as the spear pierced his body, a laugh broke forth from Eanna. ‘Alas,’ said the druid, ‘that is a foul laugh and it is this that will be given as a name to thy posterity after thee for ever’; and hence that tribe are since called Ui Cinnsealaigh. Eanna Cinnsealach was powerful in his time, as may be seen from the poem composed by Dubhthach son of O Lughair, who was chief ollamh of Ireland when Patrick came to propagate the Gospel in Ireland. A battle fought by the Leinstermen, is the beginning of that poem. But I shall here quote only these two stanzas of it, from which it may be inferred that Eanna was powerful in his time. Here are the stanzas:—

    1. The tribute which was given to Eanna,
      From Leath Cuinn of the feasts,
      Was a screaball from each house,
      All of fionndruine.
    2. The tribute which was given to Eanna,
      From Mumha with insults
      Was an ounce of gold from each lios
      In the ensuing year.


And according to the Psalter of Cashel this Eanna defeated the clann Cuinn in thirteen battles.

Criomhthann son of Fiodhach, son of Daire Cearb, son of Oilill Flann Beag, son of Fiachaidh Muilleathan, son of Eoghan Mor, son of Oilill Olom of the race of Eibhear, held the sovereignty of Ireland seventeen years. Fidheang, daughter of the king ofConnaught, was his wife. This Criomhthann gained victories and obtained sway in Alba, Britain, and France, as the seancha says in the following stanza:—

    1. Criomhthann son of Fiodhach swayed
      The lands of Alba and of Erin;
      He swayed likewise beyond the clear blue sea
      Even the Saxons and the French.

It was also Criomhthann son of Fiodhach who gave the kingdom of Leath Mogha or Munster to his foster-son, namely, to Conall Eachluaith son of Lughaidh Lamhdhearg; and the descendants of Fiachaidh Muilleathan were displeased at this; and they said that Conall did not show himself a good kinsman by accepting it, while there was at the time among the descendants of Fiachaidh one qualified to be a good king, namely, Corc son of Lughaidh. And the arbitration the learned sages of Munster made between them at the time was that Corc son of Lughadh was to have the sovereignty of Munster in the first instance, as he was the senior, and that it was finally to go to the descendants of Cormac Cas. The descendants of Fiachaidh Muilleathan gave sureties and guarantees that they would allow the sovereignty of Munster to pass on the death of Corc to Conall Eachluaith or to his son should Conall himself be not living, as Oilill Olom ordained that it should belong to these two families in alternate generations, that is, the family of Fiachaidh Muilleathan and that of Cormac Cas. It was on that agreement, then, that Conall Eachluaith allowed the sovereignty of Munster to go to Corc son of Lughaidh; and, on


the death of Corc, Conall Eachluaith himself took up the sovereignty of Munster; and Criomhthann son of Fiodhach gave the hostages of the men of Ireland, of Alba, Britain, and France into the hands of Conall Eachluaith. And accordingly Cormac son of Cuileannan composed the following stanzas:—
    1. Eachluaith received the tribute of Ireland
      After Criomthann, it was a tribute from abroad;
      Though he had not gone beyond the Sea of Manainn,
      Never did a better king receive it.
    2. As many as great Criomhthann son of Fiodhach brought
      Of hostages over the brimming sea,
      He gave into the hand of the red-speared champion,
      Illustrious noble Conall Eachluaith.
    3. Conall Eachluaith set out on an expedition
      Into every territory after pleasant Criomhthann;
      To Dun Liamhna, illustrious was the warrior,
      Where noble companies were slain.
    4. To him belonged Fearta Conaill in Feimhion,
      Druim Chormaic Aine Dun Gair,
      Cashel Coincheann strong Raith Leamhna,
      Fochair Mhaigh fair Dun Cearmna.
    5. E.

Moingfhionn daughter of Fiodhach, Criomhthann's own sister, gave him a poisoned drink in Inis Dornghlas on Muaidh, in the hope that the sovereignty would pass to her favourite son, that is, Brian son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon; and Criomhthann son of Fiodhach died of the poison of that drink on Sliabh Uidhe an Riogh, on the north side of Luimneach; and Mongfhionn herself died of the poison of the same drink in Inis Dornghlas on Muaidh, having taken some of it to urge her brother to drink it.