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

Section 52


Now, when Eochaidh was thus an exile in Alba, some say that the wife of Gabhran, who was called Ingheanach, and the wife of Eochaidh Feidhlim, daughter of Cobhthach son of Dathi, were both pregnant at the same time, and were brought to bed on the same night. The two women were shut up in the same house, no one being with them, but both being together, while there was a guard placed on the outside by Gabhran. As to these women, Gabhran's wife gave birth to a daughter, and the wife of Eochaidh to twin sons. Now, Gabhran's wife never brought forth any children but daughters; and as the wife of Eochaidh had brought forth twin sons, she asked her to give her one of them, and Eochaidh's wife consented to this. When the household, who were on guard, perceived that the women had been delivered, they asked the queen what offspring she had given birth to; she said that she had given birth to a son and daughter, and that the wife of Eochaidh had given birth to a son. All were delighted at this; and this son which the queen got from Eochaidh's wife had a name given him, and he was called Aodhan son of Gabhran; and Eochaidh's second son was called Brandubh son of Eochaidh. And after this, Eochaidh and his son came to Ireland, and he himself assumed the sovereignty of Leinster.

And a long time after this, Gabhran, chief of Dal Riada, who was king of Alba, died; and Aodhan assumed the sovereignty of Alba after him, and came to spoil and plunder Ireland, and endeavoured to conquer it, as he was of the posterity of Cairbre Rioghfhada. A large company of the men of Anglia1, Alba, and Wales came with him; and when they landed in Ireland, they set to plunder Leinster in


the first instance. Brandubh son of Eochaidh at that time held the sovereignty of Leinster; and Aodhan sent envoys demanding hostages from him as securities for his paying tribute to him, saying that otherwise he would waste the whole territory of Leinster. While Brandubh was in trouble at this message, his mother told him to take courage, and that she would avert the attack of Aodhan from him. Upon this the mother went to the camp of Aodhan; and when she had reached it, she inquired of Aodhan why he had come to waste Leinster. ‘Thou hag,’ said he, ‘I am not obliged to give thee any information on that matter.’ ‘If I be a hag,’ said she, ‘thy mother is a hag; and I have something to say to thee in secret.’ Thereupon he went with her apart. ‘Aodhan,’ said she, ‘I told thee that thy mother was a hag; and I tell thee now that I am she, and that accordingly Brandubh is thy brother. Therefore, send to Alba for thy supposed mother, and she will confess, in my presence, that I am thy mother; and until we meet, do thou refrain from spoiling Leinster.’

He acted as the woman directed; and when the women came together, the queen of Alba admitted that it was Brandubh's mother who gave birth to Aodhan; and when he heard this, he bound the women to keep the matter a close secret lest he should lose the sovereignty of Alba at the hands of the Dal Riada should they become aware of the affair. Thereupon, he sent for Brandubh; and they both formed a friendly alliance; and Aodhan left the country without inflicting injury on it. However, the Brandubh who was king of Leinster was not a son of this Eochaidh son of Eanna Cinnsealach, as will clearly appear in the second book of this history.

As to Niall, of whom we are treating, numerous are his descendants in Ireland sprung from his eight sons. But we shall not enumerate them here, because we intend to speak of them at length in the genealogy of the sons of Milidh. Now this king is called Niall Naoighiallach, from his having received nine hostages or nine captives, five of them


from the provinces of Ireland, and four from Alba; and it was on this subject that the poet composed the following stanzas:
    1. Son of the noble Eochaidh of honour
      Was Niall, modest in each high distinction;
      He held the sovereignty of successions
      In Erin and in Alba.
    2. He got a hostage from each province
      In Erin through high valour;
      He brought under his sway, without blemish,
      Four hostages from Alba.
    3. Hence he was called
      In the mansions of the great,
      Through the gold of the prosperous kings,
      Niall of the nine hostages, the heroic.

Dathi son of Fiachraidh, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon, son of Muiredhach Tireach, son of Fiachraidh 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 twenty-three years. Fial daughter of Eochaidh, from whom is named Cruachan Feile, was his first wife. His second wife was Eithne daughter of Orach and mother of Oilill Molt. His third wife, Ruadh daughter of Airteach Uichtleathan son of Fear Congha, was mother of Fiachraidh Ealgach; and she died in bringing him forth. Fearadhach was his proper name at first; and he was called Dathi, for dathi} means ‘quick’; and it was because of the quickness with which he put on his armour that he was called Dathi. And the manner in which Dathi was slain was this: a flash lightning descended from heaven on his crown when he was engaged in conquering France; and it was near the Alp mountains he was slain by the vengeance of God, since he had pillaged the penitentiary of a holy hermit called Parmenius who cursed him. And when he was slain in this manner, his friends brought his body to Ireland and buried it in Roilig na Riogh at Cruachain.

End of the First Book.