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

chapter 16


And after this the people of the land gathered round them, and Mac Creiche bade them farewell, and took a blessing from them, and left a blessing with them. And they set out on the return journey by the same way that they had come, till they reached the brink of the fair-streamed Shannon, and they crossed the river from the far side. And when they had crossed, the monster awoke, and hurled itself on the land forthwith. And all the people of the land fled before it till they reached the weir of Cell Subulaig, and they crossed the weir. And Mac Creiche came to them on the third day; and it was at the time and hour when the monster was pursuing the people and mangling them; and heavy piteous cries rose from the crowds before it; and when the cries were loudest, a numerous host was seen coming towards them, viz. pious Mac Creiche. And they all bowed to him, men, children, and women, and traversed the plain towards him on their knees; and commended themselves to him in servile rent of service, and to his monks after him.


And they had not been long there, when they saw the shepherds of the flocks and herds coming towards them, and the monster behind them. And they all fly (for refuge) behind


the clerk. And the monster came to the weir with great wrath and fury; and it kept discharging balls of fire through its ravenous raging maw, and great fear seized the clerk; and Mainchin was behind him with the Finnfaidech. And the clerk said: ‘Reach me my bell, O Mainchin,’ said Mac Creiche. And both companies laid their faces to the ground; and Mac Creiche spoke these words:
    1. May Christ repel thy venom;
      What thou hast in mind, may He cure it.
      May God repel thy venom;
      May He not suffer it to reach me any more.
    2. O savage 'broicsech', press not upwards;
      The breath of my bell round the top of thy maw;
      O dumb 'broicsech' though rough the encounter,
      I am to subdue thee, trusting in holy Christ.
    3. The seven archangels from the fair city,
      God the Creator has ordained them to repel thee from me;
      The four noble evangelists shall lower thy strength,
      Matthew and Mark in their mighty host, Luke and John.
    4. I entreat the Saints, I entreat the Virgins,
      I entreat them all, that they may be a strong band;
      I entreat them to help me, all the Saints of the lasting world,
      That all of them, north and south, will assist my prayer.
    5. I entreat to my help Christ, the helmet of each,
      King of the heavenly kingdom, tapering tree over fort;
      Great fervent forgiving God, Mary's Son, conceal it not;
      I beseech, I implore, I request, that He quell thy venom. May Christ.


After this, Mac Creiche asked again for the bell, and Mainchin gave it to him; and he struck the bell fiercely, so that the monster started, and reared itself on its hind legs, so that it was higher than a bushy tall-topped eminent tree, or a belltower set on a hill; and the numerous claws and talons growing out of it were horrible, and great fear seized the clerk at seeing the monster. Et orauit secundo ad Deum, etc.



And after this intercession by the clerk, the monster stood erect while Mac Creiche was making his prayer; and then hurled itself on to the weir with dreadful, horrible, unnatural fury; and with such fury did it discharge its balls of fire through its ravening raging maw, and through its nostrils, and raise its bestial wrath upon it, that its bristles could be seen standing on end, with a dew drop of red blood on every single hair of its body from ear to tail. Alas, woe for Mac Creiche awaiting it at the weir, but for the presence of the true glorious God to subdue it by His power. And after this Mac Creiche entreated the Lord earnestly to rescue him from the venom of the deadly beast, and spoke as follows: ‘O head of my counsel, O Lord of might, O prince, O chief, O foster-father, O confessor, O Son of the great Virgin, repel from me this wild beast, according to my wish, O King and Monarch, that it may not spring on my head.’


After this Mac Creiche smote the bell twice (lit. once less than thrice) while the monster was traversing the weir with enormous strides, and his maw all aflame, and at the third stroke a ball of fire shot from the bell into the monster's maw, and its maw caught fire. And when the monster perceived that its gullet was on fire, it turned back on the weir with a horrible scream and screech, and both hosts arose, and set up great universal clamorous cries of triumph. And Mac Creiche pursued the monster with his crooked slender-footed staff in his hand; and began driving the monster with his staff, he being behind the monster, while Maeldala and Mac Aiblen and Blathmac and the other saints of the land were behind Mac Creiche, and all the people of the land, men, children, and women, behind the clerks; and the hosts raised continuous shouts and cries as they pursued the monster. And they went forward on this wise till they reached the loch, when it took a spring into the loch, and dived into the depths of the loch. The hosts and the clerks raised great shouts, giving eternal thanks to God for having repulsed the monster from them.


But they had not been long there, when they saw the loch breaking in fierce red streams over the banks of the loch; and then the monster rose to the surface of the loch, and stood bolt upright on its feet as before. And then the hosts raised great


shouts reproaching and insulting the clerk; and great shame seized Mac Creiche at the re-appearance of the monster, and his heart bounded in his breast and he looked up to the firmament, and prayed mentally to Jesus; and looked around him a second time, and found nothing wherewith to smite or shoot the monster save only one thing. No one was near him at the time except Mainchin; and Mainchin shouted at Mac Creiche, when he saw both the hosts in flight. It was then that Mac Creiche laid his hand on the head-covering of his tonsure, that is a covering of grey cloth like a skull-cap (?) which he had, and flung it against the monster; and the tonsure-covering of the christian extended itself, and the skull-cap kept pressing on the monster, so that it appeared to them all like a cowl of smelted iron enveloping the monster; and they saw the monster curling itself in twisted coils under the skull-cap, and carried it with it to the bottom of the loch, not to rise again till the brink of doom and life.


And both hosts raised many great shouts giving witness to Mac Creiche, men, children and women, and the clerks bent their knees to the ground, and made their treaty and union with Mac Creiche, and offered themselves in servile labour rent to him and to his monks. And then Mac Creiche gave thanks to God for these great miracles, to wit, the destruction of the broicsech and said:

    1. I thank my mighty King,
      O Lord of the heavenly cloud-land,
      That Thou didst put (a noble burning)
      The 'broicsech' to shame.
    2. I thank the same Lord,
      For prosperous are His secrets;
      Till the loch shall reach the seas,
      He will not allow it (the monster) to return.
    3. O mountain of red gold over fair cliffs,
      O discourse without mourning,
      I thank the King who repulsed it,
      So that I was not discomfited.