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

Section 5


Oilill Molt convened the Feis of Tara. There used to be three general assemblies in Ireland in the olden time, to wit, the Feis of Tara, the Feis of Eamhain, and the Feis of Cruachain. We have set down above the things that were treated of at the Feis of Tara. Now the chief object for which the Feis of Eamhain and the Feis of Cruachain were convened was to approve those who practised mechanical crafts in Ireland, such as smithwork, woodwork or stonework and the like handicrafts. And the nobles and ollamhs who were at these two assemblies selected from each assembly three score masters of each craft, and these were then distributed throughout Ireland, and no fellowcraftsman to these was permitted to practise


his craft without permission from the master of that craft who was in that district; and the master must examine whether he be competent to practise the craft. And these masters were called ioldanaigh; now ioldanach means iolcheardach, or skilled in many crafts, for dan means ceard or craft.

The Leabhar Irsi calls Oilill Molt the king of the Scots. It was in his time that Benignus, the comhorba of Patrick, died. It was also against Oilill that the Leinstermen fought the Battle of Dumha Aichir, where many fell on both sides. It was about this time that a war was waged between Ambrosius, king of Britain, and the Picts and Scots. It was also in the reign of Oilill that Conall Creamhthainne died, and Iarlaithe the third bishop of Ard Macha after Patrick. Simplicius was Pope at that time. It was against Oilill Molt, king of Ireland, that the Battle of Ocha was fought by Lughaidh, son of Laoghaire, and by Muircheartach, son of Earc, and by Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, son of Conall Creamhthainne, and by Fiachaidh Lonn, son of Caolbhadh, king of Dal nAruidhe, as the poet says:

    1. By Lughaidh and by Fiachaidh Lonn,
      And by the great Muircheartach
      And by blameless Fearghus,
      Was the noble Oilill Molt slain.

Twenty years after this battle was fought the six sons of Earc, son of Eochaidh Muinreamhar, went to Alba, to wit, two Aonghuses, two Lodharns, and two Fearghuses. Three hundred and seven years are reckoned from the time of Conchubhar, son of Neasa, to the time of Cormac, son of Art; two hundred and four years from the time of Cormac till the Battle of Ocha was fought; and twenty years after that the sons of Earc, son of Eochaidh Muinreamhar, went to Alba. Duach Teangumha, son of Fearghus, son of Muireadhach Mal, son of Eoghan Sreibh, son of Duach Galach, son of Brian, son of Eochaidh Muighmeadhon,


was king of Connaught seven years at this time, and he fell by Eochaidh Tiormcharna.

Lughaidh, son of Laoghaire, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty years. Anghus, daughter of Tasach of Ui Liathain, was the mother of Lughaidh. The king of Leinster at that time was Fraoch, son of Fionnchaidh. About this time took place the Battle of Ceall Osnadh in Magh Fea in the county of Ceithearlach, four miles east of Leithghlinn, where Aonghus, son of Natfraoch, who was king of Munster thirty-six years, and Eithne Uathach, daughter of Criomhthann, son of Eanna Cennsealach, his wife, both fell by Muircheartach, son of Earc, and by Oilill, son of Dunluing; hence the poet composed this stanza:

    1. There died the spreading branch of a great tree,
      Aonghus Molbhthach, son of Natfraoch;
      He lost his success by Oilill
      In the Battle of Ceall Osnadh the vile.

After this, Fraoch, son of Fionnchaidh, was slain in the Battle of Graine by Eochaidh, son of Cairbre. Felix the third Pope of that name, it was in the tenth year of the reign of Lughaidh, son of Laoghaire, that he was made Pope. It was about this time that the Battle of Sleamhain Mhidhe was won by Cairbre, son of Niall, over the Leinstermen, and the Battle of Seaghais was fought, in which Duach Teangumha, king of Connaught, was slain by Muircheartach, son of Earc, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. The Battle of Dealga, the Battle of Muchromha,
      And the Battle of Tuaim Drubha,
      And also the Battle of Seaghais,
      In which fell Duach Teangumha.

It was about this time that the Leinstermen won the Battle of Lochmhagh over Ui Neill, in which fell many people, and Fearghus Mor, son of Earc, went to Alba with the Dal Riada and they assumed sovereignty there. It was in the nineteenth year of the reign of Lughaidh, son of Laoghaire,


that Patrick died, having passed six score and two years in this life, as we have said above. After this Lughaidh, son of Laoghaire, died in Achadh Fharcha, from lightning which fell from heaven on him for disobeying Patrick. Gelasius was Pope the last year of the reign of Lughaidh.

Muircheartach, son of Earc, son of Muireadhach, son of Eoghan, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-four years. Earc, daughter of Lodharn king of Alba, was the mother of Muircheartach, son of Earc, and it was in the beginning of his reign that Ciaran mac-an-tSaoir, who was of the race of Corc, son of Fearghus, son of Rogh, was born. The fourth year of the reign of Muircheartach Anastasius the second Pope of that name was made Pope. About this time was born St. Comhghall of Beannchair, the holy abbot, a man who had forty thousand monks under his obedience or under his authority, as we read in the Red Book of Mac Aodhagan; and this is the more to be believed because we read in an author of repute, namely, St. Bernard, in the Life of Malachias, that there was a disciple of the abbot Comhghall called Soanus, who built a hundred monasteries; and this Comhghall is of the race of Irial, son of Conall Cearnach, son of Aimhirgin, of clanna Rudhruighe. In testimony of this, the poem on saint-history speaks thus:

    1. Comhghall of Beannchair, son of Seadna,
      Whom fear of death troubled not,
      Was of Uladh's stock, who were not caught napping,
      Of the race of Irial, son of Conall.

It was about this time that the emperor Anastasius died, and Cainneach of Achadh Bo, the saint, and this saint was of the race of Fearghus, son of Rogh; and Columcille, son of Feidhlimidh, son of Fearghus, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach, was born. It was about this time that Brighid, daughter of Dubhthach, son of Dreimhne, son of Breasal, son of Dian, son of Connla, son of Art, son of Cairbre Nia, son of Cormac, son of Aonghus Mor, son of


Eochaidh Fionn Fuath nAirt, son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachmhar, of the race of Eireamhon, died, at the age of eighty-seven years, or, according to others, at the age of seventy years. Now Brighid is the equivalent to Breo-shaighead, that is, an arrow of fire; and she is not inaptly so called, for she was as a fire lighting with the love of God, ever darting her petitions towards God. And according to the Feilire, it was she who composed this stanza:
    1. A morsel of fair barley bread,
      This is my part of the table.
      A cress-stalk and hot water
      Is my portion each night.