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

Section 49


We read in the seanchus of Ireland that the following tribes went to Alba in succession to conquer that country.

First Aonghus Ollbhuadhach son of Fiachaidh Labhruinne went to impose on the Cruithnigh their headrent to the kings of Ireland two hundred and fifty years after the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland. A long time after that, Reachtaigh Rioghdhearg, king of Ireland, went to impose rent on them. Similarly Cairbre Rioghfhada with his host went to invade the north of Alba; and it is the race of Cairbre Rioghfhada that Beda calls the Dalrheudini of Alba. Mac Con went to conquer Alba and Britain; and it was from these countries he came to Ireland to fight the Battle of Magh Muchruimhe in which Art Aoinfhear fell, and Mac Con assumed the sovereignty of all Ireland, as we have said. After this Fathaidh Canann son of Mac Con went to Alba, and took possession of lands there; and from his posterity Mac Cailin and the correlative branches of that family have sprung. Also Colla Uais and his brothers went to Scotland, and they acquired large territories there; and from this Colla Uais sprang the clann Domhnaill of Alba and of Ireland. Criomhthann son of Fiodhach, king of Ireland, went to Scotland to make conquests; and Earc son of Eochaidh Muinreamhar, son of Aonghus Feart of the race of Cairbre Rioghfhada, and his posterity are called clann Eirc and Cineal Gabhran in Alba, and also Cineal Lodhairn, Cineal Comhghaill, and Cineal nAonghusa and the Cineal Con Criche of the Isle, with their branches.

Corc son of Lughaidh went to Alba with an army; and the reason of his going thither was that he had a stepmother named Daol daughter of Fiachaidh son of Niall (king of South Eile); and she was enamoured of him. And when Corc refused to have intercourse with her, she made a complaint of him to his father


Lughaidh, in whose presence she wept; and he asked why the maiden wept: ‘For Corc has forced me,’ said she. Lughaidh grew jealous at this, and banished Corc to Alba, where he was welcomed by Fearadhach Fionn or by Fionn-Chormac, king of Alba, and where he was much beloved by reason of his refined manners. He got his own daughter called Moingfhionn married to Corc; and she bore him three sons in Alba, namely, Maine Leamhna, from whom are the Leamhnaigh of Alba; and Cairbre Cruithneach, from whom are the Eoghanacht of Magh Geirrghinn in Alba; and Cronan, from whom are the Cuircnigh in West Meath; and Cronan remained abroad till the time of Laoghaire son of Niall; and he then came to Ireland; and Laoghaire gave him his own daughter called Cairche, and from her is named Machaire Chuirchne; and Niall son of Eochaidh held four other sons of Corc as hostages. The names of the four sons were Corc, Greagha, Dula, and Maine. Corc the younger died in this captivity; and the father released the other three, and took them with him to Munster. In the time of Niall Naoighiallach, Corc son of Lughaidh went to Alba; and long after Niall, six sons of Muireadhach son of Eoghan, son of Niall, went to Alba, namely, two Lodharns, two Aonghuses, and two Fearghuses.

Conall was the first name of Corc son of Lughaidh; and Bolgbhain Breathnach, a censorious woman, was his mother; and she was not his father's wedded wife, since Daol daughter of Fiachaidh son of Niall, king of South Eile, was his wife. Here is a stanza by Giolla an Choimdhe O Corain in proof of this:

    1. Conall was before Corc
      The name of Lughaidh, faultless hero;
      Fire which a caldron preserves through the day,
      It was that purpled his fair ear.
And the reason why he was called Corc was: there were two simpletons in Munster destroying infants; and they made an attack on the place in which Conall, who is called Corc, was, for the purpose of destroying him, and he was hidden under an inverted caldron; and the


simpletons traced him, and removed the caldron from over him, and they burned the child's ears, and from the purpling they gave his ears he was called Corc.

Maine Leamhna son of Corc, son of Lughaidh, went from Ireland to Alba, and there occupied territory which is called Magh Leamhna, whence the Mormhaor of Leamhain in Alba is named; and it is he is now called the Duke of Lenox; and it is from this Maine Leamhna son of Corc of the race of Eibhear sprang the noble families of the house of Lenox. It is from a brother of this Maine called Cairbre Cruithneachan sprang the Eoghnacht of Magh Geirrghinn in Alba; and it was after the time of Niall Naoighiallach they went there.

It may similarly be stated of every other tribe of Gaels in Alba that it was from the Gaels of Ireland their nobles sprang. However, the portion of them that are nearest Sacsa who were driven by William the Conqueror over the Saxon borders into Alba, and whose posterity have continuously inhabited the Galldacht of Alba, these are not of the Gaels but of the race of the Saxons; and the same holds of another tribe which we shall mention later on, according to Stow in his annals, page 153. He bears out the same statement where he relates that William, king of Alba, was taken prisoner by Henry the Second, king of England, and then sent by him as a captive to the city of Rouen in Normandy, where he was kept by king Henry in captivity until he was forced to pay four hundred pounds for his ransom. Then, when he was returning, being at peace with the king, he took with him to Alba a large number of young English nobles from whom he had received friendly attentions during his captivity; and he gave much land and territories to them and to their descendants after them; and many of these are in possession of the Galldacht of Alba at this day. Here are some of the surnames of the people who went with him at that time who inhabit Alba at present, and it is they are called the Galldacht of Alba; here are some of these surnames: Baliol, Brus, Soully,


Mowbri, Sentcler, Hay, Gifford, Ramsey, Landell, Bisey, Barclay, Wellegen, Boys, Montgomery, Walley, Collomille, Frizer, Grame, Gurlay, and many others; the age of the Lord 1174.

Buchanan agrees with the above, in the thirty-fourth page of the second book of the History of Alba, where he says: Because both the inhabitants of Ireland and the colonists they sent to Alba were originally called Scots, in order that by some difference they might be distinguished from one another, people from the first called the one race Irish Scots, and the other Albanian Scots. {Principio cum utrique, id est Hiberniae incolae et coloni eorum in Albiam missi, Scoti appellarentur, ut discrimine aliquo alteri ab alteris distinguerentur, initio coepere alteri Scoti Ierni, alteri Scoti Albani, vocari.}’’

From these words of Buchanan two things are to be inferred; the first is that it was from Ireland the Scots went to occupy Alba; and the second is that the Irish were ordinarily called Scots from the beginning.

Before we treat of Niall Naoighiallach, we shall give here some events taken from the annals of Stow's Chronicle in confirmation of the truth of all that we have said above, as I imagine that the account we shall give of Niall from the seanchus of Ireland will appear the more credible if I set down these things from a foreign chronicle. Stow speaks as follows: When Marius son of Arviragus was king of Britain in the year of the Lord 73, Rudhruighe, king of the Pictish tribe from Scythia, together with the Scotic race, came to conquer Britain and to waste it with sword and fire; and Marius, above mentioned, gave them battle, and slew Rudhruighe and a large number of his host; and to those of them who survived, he gave lands in the north of Alba to settle down in; and they asked wives of the Britons, but these were unwilling to give them to them. They asked wives of the Irish, and obtained them from them.’’

As to this incident which Stow records of Rudhruighe, king of the Picts, it happened when the Pictish leader took women from Ireland in the time of


Eireamhon, as we have said above, and that was more than thirteen hundred years before Marius was king of Britain.

The same author states that it was in the above year of the age of the Lord that Vespasian was made emperor, and that it was ten years before that time that the abbey of Glastonbury was founded. He also states that it was two hundred and seventy-six years after the birth of Christ that the emperor called Aurelianus first wore the imperial crown; and he was the first emperor who wore the imperial crown.

In the year of the Lord 395, Pelagius, a Briton, first began to sow heresy; and at this time the Scotic race and the Picti were wasting and destroying Great Britain; and the Britons sent envoys to the emperor Honorius asking assistance of him; and he only wrote to them requesting them to do all they could for themselves; and hence it came to pass that the Britons were a long time afterwards under the oppression of the Scots and the Picti. And again the Britons sent envoys to Rome; and they made a pitiful complaint of the cruelty towards them of the Scots and the Picts. The Romans sent an armed legion to relieve them; and when these reached Britain, they had several engagements with the Scots and the Picti; and the Roman host, growing weary, told the Britons to build a wall or fence between themselves and their bad neighbours, and that they themselves could not avoid returning to Rome.