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

Section 8


It was in the time of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus, king of Ireland, that St. Beacan lived. Some seanchas say that Eoghan Og had a son besides Fiachaidh Muilleathan, to wit, Diarmaid, and it was from this Diarmaid's progeny that St. Beacan, who lived and blessed in Cill Bhéacáin in Muscruide Chuirc, sprang. And, moreover, the seanchas say that Fiachaidh Muilleathan himself had three sons, to wit, Oilill Flann Mor and Oilill Flann Beag and Deachluath. Here is a proof of this:

    1. Beacan, noble saint, from Diarmaid sprung,
      Let us celebrate the children of Fiachaidh;
      A race who ruled country and district,
      Of them were two Oilills and Deachluath.

About this time Breasal, son of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus, that is, son of the king of Ireland, wished to prepare a feast for his father at Ceanannus na Midhe, and he was


not pleased with anything he had for that feast as long as he had not fat beef to give to his father on the occasion. He, however, could find no such beef in his neighbourhood except one beef that belonged to a female recluse at Cill Ealchruidhe; and Breasal gently and humbly asked the woman to give him the beef, and offered her seven cows and a bull instead of the one beef. The woman refused his offer. On this he took the cow from her against her will and killed it for the feast. And when the king of Ireland and his people were enjoying the feast, the nun came and made a complaint against Breasal to the king. Now when Diarmaid, the king, heard this complaint he became furious, and said he would kill Breasal for having wronged the nun of Cill Ealchruidhe, and he took him to the brink of the river Lorcach, and thus he drowned Breasal. Diarmaid repented of having drowned his son, and he went to Columcille to express his sorrow for the deed, and Columcille told him to go to visit the aged man, Beacan, to Munster; and he set out, accompanied by Columcille, and they reached Cill Bheacain, on north side of Sliabh gCrot. And they found the saint making a fence round his cemetery and his habit wet upon him. When Beacan got sight of Diarmaid he said, ‘Get thee beneath the ground, parricide,’ said he. Upon this Diarmaid sank in the ground up to his knees. ‘It is to ask thy protection on account of the deed he has done that he has come,’ said Columcille, ‘and to ask thee to beseech God to bring back his son to life.’ Upon this Beacan prayed to God fervently thrice, by the direction of Columcille; and it was in this way that the son of the king of Ireland, to wit, Breasal, was brought back to life through the prayer of St. Beacan; and God's name and that of Beacan were magnified through that miracle.

It happened that Guaire, son of Colman, who was a contemporary of this Diarmaid, and Cumin Foda, son of


Fiachtna, and Caimin of Inis Cealtrach, were in the principal church of the island, and three questions were proposed between them. First, Caimin said, ‘O Guaire, what wouldst thou wish to have?’ ‘Gold and wealth to bestow,’ answered Guaire. ‘And thou, O Cuimin,’ said Guaire, ‘what wouldst thou like to have?’ ‘Many books containing the word of truth,’ said Cuimin. ‘And thou, O Caimin,’ said Cuimin, ‘what is thy wish?’ ‘Many diseases in my body,’ answered Caimin. And the three got their wishes, save that at the end of his life Cuimin was cursed by Mochua, who took all prosperity from him, if we may trust the seanchus.

Guaire, son of Colman, with three battalions of the Connaught host, came to plunder Munster, and they met Dioma, son of Ronan, son of Aonghus, who was king of Cashel at that time, in Ui Fidhghinnte, which is now called Clar Chonntae Liumnigh, and Dioma and Guaire gave battle to one another at Carn Fearadhaigh, and Guaire and the Connaughtmen were defeated there, and a countless number of them were slain, together with six leaders of the Connaught nobility. The reason why Guaire came with that host was to claim the territory from Sliabh Echtghe to Luimneach, which belonged to Connaught formerly, until Lughaidh Meann, son of Aonghus Tireach, defeated the Connaughtmen in seven battles, in which he slew seven of their kings, though he had no host except mercenaries and attendants, and he made sword-land of all the land from Bearn tri gCarbad, at Carn Fearadhaigh, to Luchad, that is, Bealach an Luchaide, and from Ath na Boraimhe to Leim an Chon, and it is as a setting forth of this that Cormac, son of Cuileannan, composed this stanza:

    1. It was this Lughaidh Lamhdhearg
      Who lopped off from the fair Province of Connaught
      From Carn Fearadhagh, it was a choice,
      To Ath Luchad abounding in valour.

Mochua and Columcille were contemporaries, and when


Mochua or Mac Duach was a hermit in the desert the only cattle he had in the world were a cock and a mouse and a fly. The cock's service to him was to keep the matin time of midnight; and the mouse would let him sleep only five hours in the day-and-night, and when he desired to sleep longer, through being tired from making many crosses and genuflexions, the mouse would come and rub his ear, and thus waken him; and the service the fly did him was to keep walking on every line of the Psalter that he read, and when he rested from reciting his psalms the fly rested on the line he left off at till he resumed the reciting of his psalms. Soon after that these three precious ones died, and Mochua, after that event, wrote a letter to Columcille, who was in I, in Alba, and he complained of the death of his flock. Columcille wrote to him, and said thus: ‘O brother,’ said he, ‘thou must not be surprised at the death of the flock that thou hast lost, for misfortune exists only where there is wealth.’ From this banter of these real saints I gather that they set no store on worldly possessions, unlike many persons of the present time.

After that Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, king of Ireland, was slain at Raith Bheag, in Magh Line, by Aodh Dubh, son of Suibhne Aruidhe; and his head was brought to Cluain Mic Nois, and his body was buried at Cuinnire.

Fearghus and Domhnall, two sons of Muircheartach Mac Earc, son of Muireadhach, son of Eoghan, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland one year. Duinnseach, daughter of Duach Teangumha, king of Connaught, was mother of these two sons. It was about this time that the Battle of Gabhra Lithfe was won by Fearghus and Domhnall over the Leinstermen, wherein four hundred Leinstermen fell, and Dioman, son of Caireall, son of Muireadhach Muindearg, who was ten years king of Ulster, was slain by the boors of Buirren. And after this Fearghus and Domhnall died.


Eochaidh, son of Domhnall, son of Muircheartach Mac Earca, and Baodan, son of Muircheartach Mac Earca, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland. They reigned three years. It was about this time that Cairbre Crom, son of Criomhthann Sreibh, son of Eochaidh, son of Aonghus, son of Natfraoch, who was king of Munster three years, died. It was, moreover, this Cairbre Crom who, before his death, fought the Battle of Feimhean against Colman Beag, son of Diarmaid, wherein Colman was defeated and many of his followers slain. And he was called Cairbre Crom from his having been educated or brought up at Cromghlaise, as the poet says in this stanza:

    1. Straight was he from head to foot,
      A truly brave man was Cairbre Crom;
      The reason why he received his name
      Was that he was reared at Cromghlais.

It was this Cairbre Crom who gave Cluain Uama to God and to the son of Leinin.

Some seanchas say that it was about this time Breanainn of Biorra died. And he lived nine score years according to the seanchus in this stanza:

    1. Woe to him who reaches not great prosperity!
      Breanainn, excellent was his race,
      One hundred and eighty years
      Was the time he was in the world.

After this Fiachaidh, son of Baodan, fought the Battles of Tola and Forthola against the men of Eile and of Osruighe, where many of the Elians and the Ossorians fell; and Conall, son of Comhghall, king of Dalriada, in Alba, died, having been sixteen years on the throne of Alba; and it was this Conall who gave the island of I in Alba to Columcille. After this Eochaidh and Beodan fell by Cronan, son of Tighearnach, king of Ciannachta Ghlinne Geimhean.

Ainmire, son of Seadna, son of Fearghus Ceannfhoda, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland three years.


Brighid, daughter of Cobhthach, son of Oilill, one of the Lagenians, of Ard Ladhrann, was the wife of Ainmire and mother of Aodh, son of Ainmire. After this Ainmire fell by Fearghus, son of Niall, at the instigation of Baodan, son of Ninnidh, at Carrig Leime an Eich.

Baodan, son of Ninnidh, son of Fearghus Ceannfhoda, Son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland one year. Cacht, daughter of the king of Fionnghall, was the wife of Baodan; and it was in Baodan's reign that Breanainn of Cluain Fearta, the saint, died, also Aodh son of Eochaidh Tiormcharna, king of Connaught, who was killed in the Battle of Bagha, and Baodan, son of Caireall, king of Ulster, and Ruadhan, of Lothra, the saint. This latter was of the race of Oilill Flann Beag, son of Fiachaidh Muilleathan. And Baodan, son of Ninnidh, king of Ireland, was slain by the two Cuimins, to wit, Cuimin, son of Colman Beag, and Cuimin, son of Libhrean, at Carraig Leime an Eich, in Iomairg. According to Beda, in the fourth chapter of the third book of the History of Sacsa, the age of the Lord when Columcille went to Alba was 565.