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

Section 48


Niall Naoighiallach son of 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 of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-seven years. Cairionn Chasdubh, daughter of the king of Britain, was Niall's mother. Inne daughter of Lughaidh, wife of Niall, was the mother of Fiachaidh. A second wife of Niall's was Rioghnach, who bore him seven sons, namely, Laoghaire and Eanna, Maine, Eoghan, two Conalls, and Cairbre, as the poet says in this stanza:—

    1. Joyous was the bright Rioghnach
      When she bore Laoghaire son of Niall,
      Eanna, Maine of bright deeds,
      Eoghan, two Conalls, Cairbre.

This Niall went into Alba with a large host to strengthen and to establish the Dal Riada and the Scotic race in Alba, who were at this time gaining supremacy over the Cruithnigh, who are called Picti; and he was the first to give the name Scotia to Alba, being requested to do so by the Dal Riada and the Scotic race, on the condition that she should be called Scotia Minor or Lesser Scotia, while Ireland should be termed Scotia Major or Greater Scotia; and it was through veneration for Scota daughter of Pharao Nectonibus, who was wife of Galamh called Milidh of Spain, from whom they themselves sprang, that the Dal Riada chose the name of Scotia for Alba, instead of calling her Hibernia.

Camden states in his chronicle of Britain that Lesser Scotia was the name of Alba, and Greater Scotia the name of Ireland, and says that it cannot be proved by documents that the Albanians were called Scots till the time of the emperor


Constantine the Great. Moreover, Camden gives the Irish the name of Scotorum Attavi, that is, the Forbears of the Scots, thus declaring that the Scots of Alba sprang from the Irish. Thus too he speaks on the same subject: The Scots,(says he,) came from Spain to Ireland in the fourth age. {Scoti ex Hispania in Hiberniam quarta aetate venerunt.}’’

Besides, Nennius, a British author says, according to Camden, that it was in the fourth age of the world that the Scithae—that is, the Scotic race—took possession of Ireland. Moreover, it is plain from the annals of Ireland that Alba was the name of that country up to the time of Niall Naoighiallach; and when the Dal Riada were permitted to call it Scotia, themselves and their descendants kept on that name. Before that time Alba or Albania was the country's name, from Albanactus, third son of Brutus, since it was Alba that fell to him as his share from his father. Now Brutus had three sons according to Monomotensis, namely Laegrus, Camber, and Albanactus; and Brutus divided the island of Great Britain between them; and to Laegrus he gave Laegria, which derives its name from him, and it is this country which is now called Anglia; to Camber he gave Cambria, which is now called Wales; and the third portion to Albanactus, from whom Alba is called Albania.

Niall marched after this with his full host from Alba to Laegria, and made an encampment there; and he sent a fleet to Brittany in France, which is called Armorica, for the purpose of plundering that country; and they brought two hundred noble youths as captives to Ireland with them; and it was in this captivity that they brought Patrick, who was sixteen years old, with them, and his two sisters Lupida and Darerca and many other captives besides.

Many authors testify that Scota was the name of Ireland, and that it was the Irish who were called the Scotic race. Thus does Jonas the abbot, in the second chapter, treating of Columcille, speak: Colman,(he says,) who is called Colum,


was born in Hibernia, which is inhabited by the Scotic race. {Columbanus qui et Columba vocatur in Hibernia ortus est; eam Scotorum gens incoluit.}’’

Beda also, in the first chapter of the first book of the History of Sacsa, says that Ireland was the native land of the Scots. He speaks thus: Hibernia is the true fatherland of the Scots. {Hibernia propria Scotorum patria est.}’’

The same author, writing about the saints, makes a remark which agrees with this. He speaks thus: It was from Hibernia, the island of the Scots, that St. Kilian and his two companions came. {Sanctus Kilianus et duo socii eius ab Hibernia Scotorum insula venerunt.}’’

From this it is to be inferred that the Irish were called the Scotic race in the time of Beda, who lived 700 years after Christ. Orosius also, who lived within 400 years after Christ, agrees with the same statement. He thus speaks in the second chapter of the first book: It is the Scotic races that inhabit Ireland. {Hibernia a Scotorum gentibus colitur.}’’

And it is plain that the country which is called Ireland used to be called by authors Scotia. Serarius, writing of St. Kilian, speaks thus: Holy Kilian of the Scotic race, etc.’’

; and immediately after he uses these words, Scotia, which is also called 'Hibernia'. {Beatus Kilianus Scotorum genere et relqa.}’’

From this it may be inferred that Scotia was a name for Ireland in constant use like Hibernia. The truth of this matter will be seen from the words of Capgrave, writing of St. Colum; he speaks thus: Scotia was an ancient name of Ireland, whence came the Scotic race, who inhabit that part of Alba which lies nearest to greater Britain; and that Alba is now for this reason called Scotia from Ireland, from which they derive their origin, and whence they immediately came. {Hibernia enim antiquitus Scotia dicta est, de qua gens Scotorum Albaniam Britanniae maiori proximam quae ab eventu modo Scotia dicitur inhabitans, originem duxit et progressum habuit.}’’

Marianus Scotus, a Scotic author, writing of St.Kilian, agrees with this. He speaks thus: Although that part of Britain which adjoins Sacsa on the north is now properly called Scotia, nevertheless Beda shows that Ireland was


formerly known by that name; for when he states that the Pictish race came from Scythia to Ireland, he adds that it was the Scotic race they found there before them. {Etiamsi hodie Scotia proprie vocetur ea Britanniae pars quae ipsi Angliae contigens ad Septentrionem vergit, olim tamen eo nomine Hiberniam notatam fuisse ostendit D. Beda, cum Scythia Pictorum gentem in Hiberniam venisse ait ibique Scotorum gentem invenisse.}’’

And since it was from the Scotic race the country was named, Scotia was its name at that time.

It is to be inferred also from the words of Caesarius, who lived within 500 years after Christ, that Scotia was the name of Ireland. He thus speaks in the twelfth book of the Dialogues, chap 38: Whoever doubts the existence of Purgatory, let him go to Scotia, and go into the Purgatory of St. Patrick, and he will no longer doubt of the pains of Purgatory. {Qui de Purgatorio dubitat, Scotiam pergat, Purgatorium Sancti Patricii intret, et de Purgatorii poenis amplius non dubitabit.}’’

From the words of this author it is to be inferred that Scotia was a common name for Ireland at that time, as there is no place in Alba called Patrick's Purgatory; and it is plain that the place so called is in Ireland; and hence that it was Ireland Caesarius called Scotia. Serarius, writing on St. Bonifacius, is in accord with this: Scotia was also a name for Ireland. However, since there came from the same land of Ireland a certain race to the east of Britain, where the Picti were dwelling, and there they settled down along with them, and at first were called Dalrheudini (that is, Dal Riada), from their own leader Rheuda (that is, Cairbre Rioghfhada), as Beda affirms. But after this they routed the Picti themselves; and they occupied the entire northern portion of that country; and they gave it the old name of their race, so that there is but one Scotic race. There are, however, two Scotias: one of them, the elder and proper Scotia, is Ireland, and the other, which is recent, is the northern part of Britain. {Hibernia Scotiae sibi nomen etiam vindicabat, quia tamen ex Hibernia ista Scotorum pars quaedam egressa est in eaque Britanniae ora quam Picti iam habebant consederunt; ii quidem principio a duce suo Rheuda Dalrheudini dicti fuerunt, ut ait V. Beda; postea tamen Pictos inde ipsos exegerunt, et boreale totum illud latus obtinuerunt, eique vetus gentus suae nomen indiderunt. Ita ut Scotorum gens una fuerit, sed Scotia duplex facta sit, una vetus et propria in Hibernia, recentior altera in septentrionali Britannia.}’’

I note three things from the words of the author. The first of these is that the Irish are truly the Scots; the


second is that it was the Dal Riada that were first called Scots in Alba, since it was they who first conquered the Picti in Alba. The third is that he says that Ireland was the older Scotia, and Alba the new Scotia, and that it was the Scotic race who first called it Scotia. Buchanan, a Scotch author, in the second book of the History of Scotland, makes a statement which bears out the author quoted above. He speaks thus: The inhabitants of Ireland were called Scots, as Orosius points out, and as our own annals record; it was not once only the Scots migrated from Ireland to Alba. {Scoti omnes Hiberniae habitatores initio vocabantur ut indicat Orosius, nec semel Scotorum ex Hibernia transitum in Albiam factum nostri annales referunt.}’’

From this it is to be inferred that it was not the Dal Riada alone who went from Ireland to settle in Alba, but numerous other tribes as well from time to time.