Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Life of Mac Creiche (Author: [unknown])

chapter 10


Then there came three sons of Crimthann, son of Cobthach, from the south on a plundering expedition to Rinn Ruis in Altraige Cind Bera; and carried off a prey of men and cattle, including three sons of Mellan son of Maeldoid, son of Scellan of the Altraige Cind Bera. Envoys were sent from the Ciarraige after the prey, and they took with them the gospels of Mac Creiche and the Finnfaidech in the hopes of a better decision. But no favourable decision was obtained from the king on their southward journey. The messengers returned north with no good answer. ‘What profit have you brought with you?’ said Mac Creiche. ‘None,’ said they, ‘except our cattle being divided before our very eyes, and our men in fetters.’ ‘Have you brought a definite answer with you?’ said Mac Creiche. ‘We have,’ said they. ‘If you wish for the release of the men who were carried south, this is the final answer we have brought. (You must pay as tribute) a cow for every shield-strap (i.e. for every warrior) in Ciarraige, and an ounce (of silver) for every woman, and to give a hostage to attend in perpetuity.’


Then the Ciarraige went into council, and what they resolved was to send their blessing to their dutiful son, to Mac Creiche, for he was their dutiful son. And moreover he was travelling there at the time; for when the plundering party came he met them in Tir da Magh Nemed. ‘I will go on your blessing there,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘whatever God may will to come of it.’ Mac Creiche went after the prey to Aiced Aiscinn and to Lis Airthir; and found all the Eoganacht assembled there, including Crimthann, son of Cobthach, and his sons.



Mac Creiche went in his little car to the middle of the assembly, and greeted the young men, and discussed with them the cause of his coming. ‘What is the cause?’ said they. ‘I am come,’ said he ‘after the capture and the prey; and to complain to you of my outrage (lit. reddening) and shame; and I am feeble and fey; and it will be better for you to receive my blessing, than to keep in your possession the matter which I ask for.’ And this was true of him, for nine score years was his age when he went to heaven; and a strip of poor leather used to support his lower jaw against the other, when he recited his hours, or when he conversed with anyone. He had however completed seven score years, when he came to negotiate with Crimthann, son of Cobthach, King of the Eoghanacht of Loch Lein.


And Mac Creiche said: ‘If it were thy pleasure, Crimthann, it were time that thou shouldst give an answer to us in the matter for which we have come.’ ‘Great is my (cause of) indignation against thee, O clerk,’ said Crimthann, ‘for asking of me the vagabonds who were trespassing on my land.’ ‘No great cause,’ said the clerk, ‘because it is for God's sake that the request is made.’ Then said Aed Damain: ‘The young men will think it a great matter to give thee (even) a single man of the captives.’ I will release to thee whichever of them thou preferrest. ‘Who said that?’ asked Mac Creiche. ‘Aed Damain,’ replied Mainchin. Mac Creiche said: ‘This is what he shall have of God, viz. that which he adjudged to me, a single man.’ Aed Damain was wroth thereat, and held his peace.


Then said Aed Furarain: ‘It were not too much to (give to) the clerk half the capture, since he asks it in God's name.’ ‘Who said that?’ asked Mac Creiche. ‘Aed Furarain,’ said his foster-son. ‘He shall have then,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘from me and from God half the honour and dignity of this land and people, though it cause divisions among them.’ Now Aed Bennain was Crimthann's favourite of all his sons, and therefore he was uneasy in his mind about him. Aed Bennain stood up and said: ‘If it be the clerk's will, O young men,’ said he, ‘give him the whole of your capture.’ ‘Who said that?’ asked Mac Creiche. ‘Aed Bennain,’ said Mainchin. ‘That son has been long in coming,’ said Mac Creiche. ‘He shall have from


me and from God the full honour and dignity of this land and people for himself, and for his son and grandson in perpetuity.’


Then Crimthann and his sons consulted together, without summoning any of their counsellors. ‘What shall be done, O young men,’ said Crimthann, ‘to this reverend senior who has come to you? And surely there never came, nor ever will come, a man of his age to make request of anyone. He is worthy of any man whom he may meet merely on the ground of his age.’ ‘Hold council,’ said Crimthann, ‘and summon to you all the assembly,’ said he. The whole assembly was summoned to them.


‘If my advice were acted on,’ said Aed Bennain, ‘at a time when there is neither beginning of sovereignty nor end of pride, ye would not await the curse of yonder reverend senior for the sake of the capture ye have made; for he lives, and pays debts (i.e. requites injuries), and bequeaths blessing. And there is no sea between us and the place from which this prey was taken; and had we known, we would not have approached the place in which he was, for any place in which he might be was a reverend sanctuary; and moreover his fame had come from the land in which he was, before he came to us. We will however pronounce judgement on ourselves,’ said Aed Bennain, ‘and if he be of the household of God, it is a burning shame that we have inflicted on the clerk; for we knew that he was there before us in the land which we invaded, and, were it only on the ground of humanity, (consider that) there are three kinsmen of his mother with you here in captivity, deprived of every earthly good. And take good counsel now,’ said Aed Bennain.


‘We would do so,’ said Crimthann, ‘were it not for the grief of Aed Damain,’ ‘I am sorry,’ said Aed Damain. ‘Grant ye the will of God, and my will,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘and it will be well with him again.’ ‘The one heir of thy promise seems little to him,’ said Crimthann. ‘Is it this which causes the grudge against us in the matter?’ said Mac Creiche. ‘It is,’ answered Crimthann. ‘He shall have fullness,’ said Mac Creiche; ‘many a thousand shall serve the one heir, and he shall be the envy of all men.’ Then was the whole capture delivered to Mac Creiche, both men and cattle with full restitution, and with his own will to him in perpetuity till doom.



Then Crimthann and his sons named the price to be paid to the clerk, i.e. to Mac Creiche, for the outrage done to him, and for his blessing, viz. every thing that he himself should impose upon them. ‘I will decree then,’ said Mac Creiche, ‘fifty grey tunics; and fifty fat hogs, and fifty heifers for refection; and clothing for the seniors whenever it be sent for by thine heir to my heir.’ ‘That shall be to thee, and whatever more beyond this be asked, thou shalt receive of us, even thy whole will till doom,’ said Crimthann and his sons. ‘Thou then with thy sons,’ said Mac Creiche ‘shalt have my three blessings; to wit, blessing of sovereignty without denial; blessing of dignity (?) without extinction: blessing of wisdom with honour. These three blessings shall be thine, on condition of obedience to my heir after me.’


Aed Bennain, son of Crimthann, surrendered the spoil. Maelduin, son of Aed Bennain, surrendered this spoil. Forchellach, son of Aed Foirinn, also surrendered this spoil. Cuimine, son of Aed Bennain, surrendered this spoil. Congal, son of Maelduin, son of Aed Bennain, also surrendered this spoil. Cairbre, son of Cudinisc, son of Forchellach, son of Aed Foirinn, surrendered this spoil. Aed, son of Conang, son of Cuimine, surrendered this spoil. Aed Alláin, son of Cairbre, of the seed of Aed Foirinn, also surrendered this spoil. Maelanfaid, son of Cuimine, surrendered this spoil. Cufhoingelt, soil of Cairbre, of the seed of Aed Foirinn, surrendered this spoil. Maelduin, son of Aed, son of Conang, also surrendered the like contribution. These were twelve chiefs of the Eoganacht of Loch Lein.