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

Section 14


Conall Caol and Ceallach, two sons of Maolcobha, son of Aodh, son of Ainmire, son of Seadna, son of Fearghus Ceannfhoda, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, assumed the sovereignty of Ireland. They reigned together for thirteen years. It was in their reign that Cuanna, son of Cailchin, king of Fearmaighe, that is, Laoch Liathmhaine, died, and this Cuanna was a contemporary of Guaire, son of Colman, and there was a rivalry between them in hospitality and charity; and hence the two jesters, Comhdan and Conall, composed between them this stanza on their rivalry, in which they say:

    1. Everything that is in his hand;
      Guaire son of Colman bestows,
      What each one covets is given him
      By the Warrior of Liathmhain.

It was, moreover, in their reign that Raghallach, son of Udaidh, who was king of Connaught twenty-five years, was slain by Maoilbrighde, son of Mothlachan, and by his slaves. It happened thus: this Raghallach was full of hatred and envy towards the son of an elder brother, fearing lest he might oppose him and deprive him of the kingdom of Connaught. Still he found no opportunity of slaying his brother's son, so that he was wasting away through not taking food because of his envy of his brother's son. Moreover, he sent a messenger to his kinsman, asking him to come and see him. As to the kinsman, he understood Raghallach's deceit, and he assembled a company and went to meet his kinsman Raghallach; and as he went into his


presence he directed his party to wear their swords unsheathed at their waists, and when Raghallach saw this he said: ‘It is sad that he whom I love most dearly on earth, and whom I wish to make my heir, trusts me not, though I am at the point of death.’ Now, when his kinsman heard this he was greatly afflicted at heart, and he came alone next day to see him, and Raghallach's party sprang upon him and slew him. Thereupon Raghallach got up in health on the spot and set to feasting merrily and most pleasantly. But Muireann, that is, Raghallach's wife, inquired of her druid after Raghallach had slain his kinsman whether there was trouble in store for her. The druid said that since Raghallach had slain his kinsman, both their deaths would be speedily brought about by their own children; and, moreover, that it was the child in her womb who would bring about their death. She made this known to Raghallach, and he told her to kill the child immediately after its birth.

Muireann gave birth to a daughter, and put her into a bag with a view to giving her to one of her people, a swineherd, that he might kill her. When the swineherd saw the face of the infant his heart yearned towards it, and he put it in the same bag in which he got it from its mother and took it privately to the door of a pious woman, who was near at hand, and left the bag on one of the arms of a cross that was near the pious woman's house. The pious woman came upon the bag, and when she found the infant in it she loved it greatly and reared it religiously. And there was not in Ireland in her time a more beautiful girl, so that her fame reached Raghallach, and he sent messengers asking her of her nurse. But the nurse did not grant this request. After this she was brought to him by force, and when he saw her he became greatly in love with her and he had her as a concubine. Now his own wife, Muireann, became jealous, and went to the king of Ireland to complain of this


deed. And the scandal of this evil deed spread through Ireland, and the saints of Ireland were pained thereat, and Feichin Fabhair came to Raghallach and charged him, and many saints came with him and entreated him to give up this sin. But he did not give it up for them all, though they fasted on his account. However, as a warning to other people of inordinate desires, the saints prayed God that he should not be alive the Bealltaine following, and that he should fall by wicked people, and, moreover, by puny arms and in a squalid spot; and all these things befell him on the approach of Bealltaine. For a wild deer which had been wounded came helter skelter into the island in which Raghallach was, and which he was guarding, and as he saw the deer he laid hold of his javelin and made a cast of it at the animal and pierced it through therewith. The deer swam away from him and he followed it in a skiff, and the deer went some distance from the lake and came upon slaves, who were cutting turf, and they slew the deer and divided it between them. Ragallach came up to them and threatened them for having divided the deer, and asked them to give back the venison. But the slaves resolved to slay the king, and thereupon they attacked him with their oars and other implements, and slew him as was foretold regarding him by the saints. And Muireann, his wife, died through jealousy of her own daughter.

It was about this time that the Battle of Carn Conaill was fought by Diarmaid, son of Aodh Slaine, wherein Cuan, son of Amhalghuidh, who was king of Munster ten years, and Cuan, son of Conall, king of Ui Fidhgheinnte, and Talamonach, king of Ui Liathain, were slain; and it was through the prayer of Ciaran's community at Cluain Mic Nois that Diarmaid won that battle. And when Diarmaid returned to Cluain Mic Nois he bestowed land on that church as altar-land. And the name of that land at this day is Liath Mhanchain, and it was at Cluain Mic Nois


that Diarmaid willed that he should be buried after his death. It was about this time that St. Fursa, of the race of Lughaidh Lamha, brother of Oilill Olum, died, and also Moicheallog, the saint, who lived and blessed at Cill Moicheallog; and this saint was of the race of Conaire, son of Eidirsceol. After this Ceallach fell at the Brugh on the Boyne, and Conall Caol was slain by Diarmaid, son of Aodh Slaine.

Blathmac and Diarmaid Ruanuidh, two sons of Aodh Slaine, son of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, son of Conall Creamthainne, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held jointly the sovereignty of Ireland seven years; and it was in their reign that Hossa fought the Battle of Pancti, where fell the king of Sacsa and thirty lords of his people. It was about this time that St. Ulltan died, and Maodhag of Fearna, son of Seadna, son of Earc, son of Fearadhach, son of Fiachraidh, son of Amhalghuidh, son of Muireadhach, son of Carrthann, son of Earc, son of Eochaidh, son of Colla Uais, and Cumin Foda, son of Fiachna the saint, and Maonach, son of Finghin, king of Munster. Diarmaid Ruanuidh and Blathmhac died of the plague called the Buidhe Conaill.

Seachnasach, son of Blathmac, son of Aodh Slaine, son of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, son of Conall Creamthainne, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland six years. It was in the reign of this king that the Battle of Feart took place between the Ulstermen and the Cruithnigh, wherein there were many slain on both sides. It was about this time that Baoithin, abbot of Beannchair, died. After this Seachnasach, king of Ireland, fell by Dubh nDuin, of the Cineal Cairbre.

Ceannfaolaidh, son of Blathmac, son of Aodh Slaine, son of Diarmaid, son of Fearghus Ceirrbheoil, son of Conall Creamthainne, son of Niall Naoighiallach, of the race of


Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland four years. And it was in his reign that Beannchair was burned, and its community slain by foreigners. And the reason why this place is called Beannchair is this, Breasal Breac, king of Leinster, went with a full host to plunder Alba, and brought much cattle and herds with him to Ireland, and when himself and his host came to land they built a camp in the place which is now called Beannchair, and they killed many of the cows for meat, and many of the cows' horns, or beanna, remained throughout the plain; and hence the place was given the name of Magh Beannchair. And a long time after that, when the holy abbot Comhghall built a monastery in the same place he ordered that it be names from the place in which it was built, and hence it is called the Monastery of Beannchair. Soon after the foreigners had burned this monastery, Ceannfaolaidh, king of Ireland, was slain by Fionnachta Fleadhach, son of Donnchadh, in the Battle of Cealltair.

Fionnachta Fleadhach, son of Donnchadh, son of Aodh Slaine, of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland seven years; and in his reign many banquets and feasts used to take place in Ireland, hence he is called Fionnachta Fleadhach. It was too, in his reign that Colman, bishop of Inis Bo Finne, died, and Fionan, who lived and blessed in Ard Fionain; and this Fionan was of the race of Fiachaidh Muilleathan; and St. Arannan died. It was Fionnachta who won the Battle of Loch Gabhair against the Leinstermen, where many of the Leinstermen fell by him. It was in his reign that Ceannfaolaidh, the learned, died, and Dunghal, son of Scannal, king of the Cruithnigh, and Ceannfaolaidh, king of Ciannachta Ghlinne Geimhean, were burned by Maolduin, son of Maoilfithrigh, in Dun Ceitheirn. It was in his reign, moreover, that the British made an incursion into Ireland, according to Beda in the 26th chapter of the fourth book. The leader of the


host of the king of Sacsa, whose name was Egberthus, the leader's name being Berthus, came and plundered a large part of Ireland, in the age of the Lord 684. Thus does Beda lament this deed: Berthus plundered deplorably an inoffensive nation and one ever most friendly to the people or race of Sacsa. {Berthus vastavit misere gentem innoxam et nationi Anglorum semper amicissimam.}’’

And they fought the Battle of Raith Mor in Magh Line, wherein they slew Cumascach, king of the Cruithnigh, together with a large body of Gaels. Moreover, the Britons went thence on an expedition to the Orcades and plundered that island. A company of them also landed in the east of Leinster, and they plundered churches and country districts, and they returned after having committed much spoiling and plundering. Here is a stanza that Adhamnan composed for Fionnachta when he remitted the Boraimhe to Molaing:
    1. Fionnachta, son of Donnchadh,
      Remitted much to a saint:
      Thrice fifty hundred chained cows,
      And each cow with her calf.
Soon after that Fionnachta, king of Ireland, was slain by Aodh, son of Duitheach, and by Conghalach, son of Conaing, at Greallach Doluidh.