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

Section 6


The sixth year of the reign of Muircheartach, son of Earc, Symmachus was made Pope, and he was Pope for fifteen years and eight months; and the thirty-first year of the reign of Muircheartach, Hormisdas was made Pope, and he was nine years Pope. It was about this time that the holy body of the monk Antonius was miraculously discovered, and it was taken to Alexandria, and it was enshrined in the church of John the Baptist. Muircheartach, son of Earc, fought the following battles in one year according to what the poet says in this stanza:

    1. The Battle of Ceann Eich, the Battle of Almhain,
      In a famous glorious time;
      The Plunder of Clu, the Battle of Eibhlinn,
      And the Battle of Magh Ailbhe.

Soon after having fought these battles Muircheartach died in the house of Cleiteach; and Ailbhe of Imleach died.

Tuathal Maol Garbh, son of Cormac Caoch, son of Cairbre, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireahmon, held the sovereignty of Ireland thirteen years. He is called Tuathal Maol Garbh, for Comain, daughter of Dall Bronach, was his mother, and when she gave birth to


Tuathal she struck his head against a stone as a ceremony foreboding success for him, and the stone made a hollow in his head, and no hair grew in that hollow; hence he was called Tuathal Maol Garbh.

It was in the reign of Tuathal that Moctaeus, disciple of Patrick, died, and he had lived three hundred years; and Baoithin, disciple of Columcille, was born; and Baoithin and Columcille were the children of brothers; and Comhghall, king of Alba, died, and Mobhi, who is called Bearchan of Prophecy, of the race of Fiachaidh Aiceadha, son of Cathaoir Mor, died. It was also in the reign of Tuathal that the Leinstermen fought the Battle of Tortan, where Earc, son of Oilill Molt, was slain, and from him the Fir Cheara sprang. It was about this time that the Battle of Sligeach was fought by Fearghus and by Domhnall, two sons of Muircheartach, son of Earc, where they slew Eoghan Beal, who was king of Connaught thirty-five years; and Odhran, the saint of Leathrach, of the race of Conaire, son of Mogh Lamha, died, and Ciaran mac-an-tSaoir at the age of thirty-one years died; and Beoaidh was his father's name, and his mother's name was Dairearca, as he himself says in this stanza:

    1. Dairearca was my mother,
      No poor woman was she;
      Also Beoaidh, the artificer, was my father,
      From Latharna Molt.

It was about this time that his head fell off Abacuc at the fair of Taillte, for having sworn falsely by the hand of Ciaran; and he lived thus headless four years amongst the monks. After that Tuathal Maol Garbh, king of Ireland, was slain by Maol Mor, uterine brother to Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, in Greallach Eilte.

It was also in the reign of Tuathal that Guaire, son of Colman, became sovereign of Connaught in succession to Eoghan Beal; and at that time the eldest son of Eoghan was a pupil under Ciaran with a view to becoming a monk;


his name was Ceallach, and Eoghan's friends enticed him to quit Ciaran's community that he might be their leader in opposition to Guaire. But on Ceallach's going out, Ciaran cursed him and besought God that he might be carried off by a violent death. Now, when he had been for some time outside, he considered that he had acted amiss in disobeying Ciaran, and he paid Ciaran a visit and acknowledged his guilt to him, and promised that he would do his will during his life. Ciaran gave him his blessing, but said that a violent death would carry him off. Ceallach remained in the community thenceforwards, and was in course of time made bishop; and while he was in the district as bishop he was making partisans and friends for a brother who was younger than himself, with a view to his obtaining the sovereignty of Connaught; and when Guaire heard this he suborned three of Ceallach's own friends who slew him, and thus the prophecy which Ciaran had made for him was fulfilled, for he had foretold that Ceallach would meet a violent death.

Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, son of Conall Creamhthainne, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty-two years. Corbach, daughter of Maine, a Leinsterwoman, was the mother of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus. It was in the reign of this king that Tighearnach, bishop of Cluain Eoais, of the race of Daire Barrach, son of Cathaoir Mor, and Oilill, son of Muireadhach, who was nine years king of Leinster, died. And Cormac, son of Oilill, son of Eochaidh, son of Daire Cearb, son of Oilill Flann Beag, was king of Munster.

It was about this time that Fearghus and Domhnall, two sons of Mac Earc, fought the Battle of Cuil Chonaire, where Oilill Anbhann, king of Connacht, and his brother, Aodh Fortamhail, were slain; and it was in the reign of this Diarmaid that a plague came on Ireland, which was


called the Crom Chonaill, and many saints died of it, and in particular Mac Tail of Cill Chuilinn. At this time the Battle of Cuil took place, where many of the people of Corcach fell through the prayer of Midhe, that is, a noble female saint of the race of Fiachaidh Suighdhe, son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, to whom these people showed disrespect.

It was at this time that Eochaidh, son of Connlo, son of Caolbhach, son of Crann Badhraoi, son of Eochaidh Cobha, son of Lughaidh, son of Rossa, son of Iomchaidh, son of Feidhlimidh, son of Cas, son of Fiachaidh Aruidhe, who was king of Ulster twenty-two years, died, and he was the first king of the Dal nAruidhe. And Cormac, son of Oilill, king of Leinster, and Beag Mac De, the seer, died, and St. Molua, son of Sineall, son of Aimhirgin, son of Eirnin, son of Duach, son of Brian, son of Eochaidh Mogh, was born; and Cathfuidh, bishop of Achadh Chuinnire and St. Neasan, the Leper, died; and St. Breanainn, of the race of Cear, son of Fearghus, built the Church of Cluain Fearta; and Gabhran, king of Alba, died; and Gruige, son of Maolchu, king of the Cruithnigh, defeated and routed the Albanians.

It was about this time that Fearghus and Domhnall, two sons of Muircheartach Mac Earc, won the Battle of Cuil Dreimhne over Diarmaid, son of Fearghus, and he was routed and most of his people were slain, through the prayer of Columcille. For he had slain, in violation of Colum's protection, Cuarnan, son of Aodh, son of Eochaidh Tiormcharna, and God avenged that deed on him in this battle. Aodh, son of Breanainn, king of Teathbha, defeated Diarmaid in the Battle of Cuil Uinnseann, in Teathbha, where many of his followers were slain; and after this Columcille went to I, in Alba, when he was forty-three years of age; and the Battle of Moin Doire, in Alba, was fought by clanna Neill of the North, wherein seven minor kings of the Cruithnigh fell by them. It was about this time that


Colman Mor, son of Cairbre, son of Oilill, son of Dunlaing, who was thirty years king of Leinster, died.

It was while Diarmaid, son of Cearbhall, was king of Ireland that a poet of Alba, called Labhan Draoi, came to Ireland; and having heard tidings of the generosity of Eochaid Aontsula, ancestor of siol Suilleabhain, he came to visit him and ask him for a gift, and he would not accept any gift from him but one of his eyes; and Eochaidh gave him one of his eyes lest the druid might satirise him. Ruadhan of Lothra happened to be present at the time, and when he heard the unjust request he asked of God to put Labhan's eyes in Eochaid's head, and that they might perform the same function for him that they did for Labhan; and it came of the saint's petition that Labhan's eyes passed into Eochaidh's head and performed that function for him during his life.