Leabhar Gabahála
The Book of the Conquests of Ireland

The Recension of Mícheál Ó Cléirigh
MS. 23K32, RIA
Ed. and Trans. R.A.S. Macalister and Eoin Mac Neill
(Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Company - 1916).



CHAPTER IV
OF THE CONQUEST OF NEIMHEDH AS FOLLOWS



From Adam till Neimhedh took Ireland, 2850

From the Flood till Neimhedh took Ireland, 608

42. Now Ireland was waste thirty years after the plague-burial of Partholon's people, till Neimhedh, son of Agnoman, son of Pamp, son of Tai, son of Ser, son of Sru, son of Eassru, son of Brament, son of Aithecht, son of Magog, etc., of the Greeks of Scythia, reached it.

43. Now this is the account of Neimhedh. He came from Scythia westward, a-rowing the Caspian Sea, till he reached in his wandering the great Northern Ocean. Thirty-four ships were his tale, and thirty in each ship. While they were thus wandering, there appeared to them a golden tower on the sea close by them. Thus it was ; when the sea was in ebb the tower appeared above it, and when it flowed it rose over the tower. Neimhedh went with his people towards it, for greed of the gold. From the greatness of their covetousness for it they did not perceive the sea filling around them, so that the eddy took their ships from them all but a few, and their crews were drowned, except those of them whom Neimhedh and his children rescued by dint of rowing. A year and a half were they after that wandering on the sea, till they reached Ireland. They remain in it.

44. Now as for Neimhedh, he had four chiefs with him, Starn, Iarbanel the Prophet, Ferghus Redside, and Ainninn. They were four sons of Neimhedh. Macha was the name of his wife. Medv, Machu, Yba, and Cera were the names of the wives of the chieftains he had.

45. The twelfth day after they reached Ireland, the wife of Neimhedh died ; and she was the first dead in Ireland from among them.

46. Four lake-bursts over land in the time of Neimhedh ; Loch Cal in Ui Niallain, Loch Muinreamhar of Sliabh Guaire, Loch Dairbrech, and Loch Ainninn in Meath. At the end of nine years after their coming to Ireland, these two last lakes burst forth.

47. Two royal forts were dug by Neimhedh in Ireland ; Rath Cinn Eich in Ui Niallain, and Rath Ciombaeith in Seimne. The four sons of Madan Fat-neck of the Fomoire dug Rath Cinn Eich in one day — Boc, Roboc, Ruibne and Rodan were their names. For they were kept in servitude (?) by Neimhedh, with their father Madan, before they completed the excavation.

48. Twelve plains were cleared by Neimhedh in Ireland in servitude (?) likewise ; namely, Magh Cera and Magh Eba in Connacht, Magh Tochair in Tir Eoghain, Leccmagh in Munster, Magh mBernsa in Leinster, Magh Chuile Tolad in Connacht, Magh Lughadh in Ui Tuirtre, Magh Sered in Tethba, Magh Seimni in Dal uAraidhe, Magh Luirg in Connacht, Magh Muirtheimne in Conaille, and Magh Macha in Airghialla.

49. Neimhedh won three battles over the Fomhoire ; namely, the battle of Murbolg, in Dal Riada, where fell Starn, son of Neimhedh, at the hands of Conainn, son of Faebhar, in Leithet of Lachtmagh in Murbolg : the battle of Ros Fraochain in Connacht, which is called the battle of Badgna ; there fell two kings of the Fomhoire, namely, Gann and Senghann : and the battle of Cnamros in Leinster, where fell a slaughter of the men of Ireland, with Beoan son of Starn son of Neimhedh, by the same Conainn. Moreover, by Neimhedh were these three battles won, although his people suffered great hurt in them.

50. Neimhedh died afterwards of plague, in the island of Ard Neimhidh in Ui Liathain in Munster ; and three thousand with him.

51. Now there was a great oppression on the children of Neimhedh after that, since their champions and their chieftains were destroyed in the aforesaid battles, and since Neimhedh died with the number we have mentioned. Those at whose hands they suffered that oppression were Conainn son of Faebar of the Fomoire, and More son of Dele the other chief. The fortress-house of Conainn at that time was at Tor Conainn, which is called Toirinis Ceittne, to the North-West of Ireland. A sheep-land was made of Ireland by them, so that not a venture was made to let smoke be seen by day from a house that was in it, except with the consent of the Fomhoire. Two-thirds of their corn, their milk, and their children, with other intolerable burdens, as they used to demand, this is what was given to them ; and the men of Ireland had to deliver every item to them always on Samhain eve at Magh Cetne. For this reason is it called Magh Cetne, for the frequency they had to pay the heavy tax there to the Fomhoire ; and the men of Ireland had a by-word at that time, asking one another, "Is it to the same plain (magh cetna) the tax will be brought on this occasion ? " So that thence was the plain named.

52. Now wrath and rage seizes the Children of Neimhedh for the heaviness of their distress and the injuriousness of their tax ; so that the three chieftains whom they had plotted to cause their people throughout Ireland to collect and assemble, so that they should arrive at one place. They act accordingly ; and having reached one spot, they resolve on one counsel, to proceed to Conainn's Tower to demand alleviation of their oppression from the Fomhoire, or to fight with them.

53. These were their chieftains ; Ferghus Redside son of Neimhedh, Semeon son of Iarbonel son of Neimhedh, and Erglan son of Beoan son of Starn son of Neimhedh. There were other princes and nobles in that assembly besides, with Artur the Great, son of Neimhedh, and Alma Onetooth, son of Neimhedh, etc. Thirty thousand on sea, and the same number on land, was the tale of the Children of Neimhedh who went to that destruction, besides foreigners, wastrels, and a rabble, which they brought to increase their muster against the oppression of the Fomhoire.

54. After they reached the shore of Toirinis they make booths and huts about the borders of the bay. Then they resolve on the counsel to send Alma One-tooth to Conainn, to ask a respite in the matter of the tax to the end of three years. Alma went and reached the fortress of Conainn. When he heard his speech, Conainn was enraged with the martial prince, so that he got no good of his journey. He returns to his people and tells them the words of the chief. Downcast were they at hearing them, and they induce Alma to go back again, to ask respite of one year of Conainn, to show him their poverty and need, to bear witness to their inability to produce there the heavy tax of that year, and that it should come to him in its fulness in the end of that time. They said to him further, unless he should obtain the remission he was asking, to proclaim battle against Conainn ; for they well-nigh preferred to fall together in one place, men, women, boys, and girls, than to be under the great distress in which they were any longer.

55. Alma goes forward to Conainn and tells him the words of the Children of Neimhedh in his presence. "They will get the grace," said Conainn, "on condition that they neither separate nor scatter from one another till the end of that year, so that I and the Fomhoire get them in one place, for their destruction, unless they pay the tax in its fullness at the end of the grace."

56. Alma returns to his brethren and tells them his news. They then accept that, in hopes that they should send messengers to their brethren and their original stock to Greece, to ask the help of an army from them against the Fomhoire. For Relbeo, daughter of the king of Greece, was mother of two of those children of Neimhedh, Ferghus Redside and Alma Onetooth. Smol, son of Esmol, was king of Greece at that time.

57. When the messengers from his brethren reached him, he caused the nobles of Greece to come and assemble together in common, so that he brought together an immense host of the choice of warriors, of druids and druidesses, of wolves and venomous animals throughout the coasts. He sends them before to the Children of Neimhedh, and himself joins them afterwards with the full muster of the Greeks. The progress of that warrior-voyage is not related till they took harbour at Conainn's Tower.

58. Welcoming were the Children of Neimhedh to them ; and this was agreed by them after their arrival, to declare war on Conainn unless he yielded them their freedom. They send messengers to him about this. Conainn is enraged with them after hearing their speech, so that he agreed to give battle. The messengers went back to their people. Conainn sends for Morc, son of Dele, the other prince of the Fomhoire, to him. Notwithstanding, he thought it inglorious to delay answering the battle at once, for he felt sure that the Children of Neimhedh were not ready to undertake battle with him, on account of the multitude and valour of his host.

59. Then the men of Ireland sent a spy to the castle of Conainn, namely, Relbeo, daughter of the king of Greece, who came in the host of her children. A druidess was she, and she went in the form of the concubine of Conainn to the castle, so that she was in lover's wise with him for a while, through the confusion of his mind. A battle was joined first between their druids, and another between their druidesses, so that it went against the Fomhoire. But in short, every battle which they set for a while after that, against the Fomhoire were they won, so that their people were destroyed to a great extent.

60. A wall strong and hard to pull down is made by the Children of Neimhedh near the castle after that, at the advice of their spy ; and they sent the hurtful animals the Greeks had brought to their assistance to the tower after that, so that they breached together every quarter and every side of it before them ; so that the attacking party went on their trail through the ways they had made, forward to the castle. The mighty men of the castle endured not to remain within it, because of the strength and venom of the hurtful strange animals mingled with them on that occasion.

61. Conainn with his war-squadrons fled at once, and he thought it ignoble not to attack the hosts face to face. For he considered it easier to give them battle, than to wait in the castle for the wild venomous beasts who came through the walls after they had disintegrated them. The attacking host after that yoke them, both hounds and venomous swine, after its warriors had left the castle. They leave a guard over it afterwards, and proceed to the combat. Each of them takes his battle-duties upon him on this side and that.

62. After they had been thus fighting together for a while, this was in short what happened ; Conainn fell by the hand of Ferghus Redside, son of Neimhedh, in fair fight. The Fomhoire had two valiant knightly warriors after that, Giolcas, son of Faebhar, and Orcifanat ; and the Fomhoire close around them after losing their leader. They take to raising high their warlike efforts and their deeds of valour, till the Children of Neimhidh remembered their hostility and their cruelty to them up till then. So Semeon, son of Starn, and Giolcas, son of Faebhar, were mated, as well as Iarbanel and Orcifanat. This was the end of it, that the Fomhoire were beheaded by the hands of those warriors, who happened to be matched against them.

63. The battle at last goes against the tribe of the Fomhoire, and they took to encircling and surrounding them, so that not a fugitive escaped from them. The hosts proceed to the castle after that, so that they took out of it its treasures, its gold, its silver, and all its valuables in general. They put fires at every quarter of it after that, so that not higher was its smoke than its flame. Its women and females, its boys and girls were burnt, so that not a fugitive escaped from it.

64. The Children of Neimhedh share the booty of the castle among the nobles and great men of the Greeks before parting from them, and they were grateful one towards the other. Now the Children of Neimhedh stay in the place of the conflict, after the departure of the Greeks from among them, burying those of their nobles who were slain.

65. Not long were they thus, till they saw a fullgreat fleet approaching them ; three-score ships was its tale, teeming with a choice of warriors, led by Morc, son of Dele, the other chief of the Fomhoire, coming to help Conainn ; so they landed in their presence. The children of Neimhedh go against them to contend the harbour against them, although they were worn out; for this was their resolve, not to suffer the Fomhoire any longer to frequent Ireland.

66. Howbeit, although great was the respite and hatred of Morc, son of Dele, against the Children of Neimhedh before that, it was far the greatest on that occasion ; and he took to inciting the people against them, to revenge this great spite upon them. A hot desperate battle is fought between them on every side. Such was the intensity of the fighting, and the greatness of the mutual hostility, that they did not perceive the gigantic wave of springtide filling up on every side around them, for there was not any heed in their minds but for their battle-feats alone ; so that the majority were drowned and annihilated, except the people of one ship of the Fomhoire and one group of thirty men of the Children of Neimhedh. The crew of that ship arrived back and they tell their news to the people, and they were downcast at hearing it.

67. As for the thirty warriors who escaped of the Children of Neimhedh from that destruction, the three chieftains that were over them divided Ireland into three parts between them after that. These are the chieftains : Beothach son of Iarbanel son of Neimhedh ; Semeon son of Erglan son of Beoan son of Starn son of Neimhedh, and Briotan son of Fergus Redside son of Neimhedh. The third of Beothach first, from Toirinis to the Boyne ; the third of Semeon from the Boyne to Belach Conglais ; the third of Briotan from Belach Conglais to Toirinis Ceitne.

68. However they did not long abide by that division, without separating and scattering into other countries over sea ; for they stood in fear of the Fomhoire lest what remained of them should wreak their resentment upon them after the battles that were fought between them. Another cause ; that themselves were not friendly or heartloving one to the other ; and then in addition, they were terrified of the plagues by which troops of their chieftains and of their men had died, before the storming [of the Tower]. So that for these causes they separated one from the other. These are the lands whither they went : Semeon with his nine to the lands of Greece ; Iobath son of Beothach with his people to the northern islands of Greece — he had gone after the death of his father to Ireland ; Briotan and his father Ferghus Redside to Mon Conain in Wales.

69. The names of the thirty champions who escaped from the destruction of the Tower of Conainn — Erglan, Matach, Iartach, Beoan, Bethach, Briotan, Baad, Ibad, Bethach, Bronal, Pal, Gortigern, German, Glasan, Ceran, Gobran, Gotiam, Gam, Dam, Ding, Dial, Semeon, Forthach, Goscen, Griman, Guillec, Taman, Turruc, Glas, Feb, and Feran.

70. So that of the destruction of Conainn' s Tower this was said ; Eochaid ua Floind composed it :

1 The storming of Conainn's Tower with valour
against Conainn the Great, son of Faebhar ;
the men of Ireland came to it,
three noble leaders with them.

2 Erglan son of Beoan son of Starn,
Semeon son of Iarbanel the bitter ;
with their voyage went the champion of battlefields
son of Neimhedh, Ferghus Redside.

3 Three score thousand in brilliant wise,
over land and over water,
this is the tale that went from their home,
of the children of Neimhedh, to the assault.

4 Toirinis, island of the tower,
castle of Conainn son of Faebhar ;
by Ferghus himself who used to fight bravely,
fell Conainn son of Faebhar.

5 Morc son of Dele came there
it was for a help to Conainn
Conainn fell beforehand ;
to Morc it was a great grief.

6 Three score ships over-sea,
the tale [wherewith] came More son of Dele ;
before their coming to land they came upon them,
the Children of Neimhedh with powerful might.

7 All the men of Ireland in the battle
after the coming of the Fomhoire,
the sea-surge drowned them all
except three decades only.

8 Erglan, Matach, Iartach glorious,
sons of Beoan son of Starn, of the white girdle,
alive was Briotan after the battle,
Baad the famous, and Ibath.

9 Beothach, Bronal, and Pal,
Goirtigern, German, Glassan,
Ceran, Gobran, Gotiam the pure,
Gam, Dam, Ding, and Dial.

10 Semeon, Fortach, Goscen brilliant,
Griman, Guillecc with cleverness,
Taman, Turruc, and Glass,
Feb, and Feran of plaited hair.

11 Three decades those, a pleasant course,
went afterwards from Ireland ;
in three they divided their shares,
after the destruction of Conainn's tower in the west.

12 The third of victorious Beothach, tuneful fame,
from Toirinis to Boyne ;
it is he who died in Inis Fail,
two years after Briotan.

13 The third of Semeon son of Erglan glorious
to Belach Conglais with horror :
the third of Briotan, says Ua Floind,
from the Pass to Conainn's Tower.

14 O Holy Christ with beauty of body,
O King, sharer of the Paradise-haven,
in thy kingdom, famous the dwelling,
King of the world, choose me to be !

71. Of that conquest said Eochaid ua Floind —

1 Great Ireland which the Gaedhil order,
I tell a part of her events ;
many shield-armed princes took her,
of the proud race of Adam.

2 From Adam the truly-tuneful, the trespasser,
to the flood, a calamity that was prepared,
no one warmed her silent strong household,
save Cessair [with] fifty maidens.

3 Save Bioth and Ladra, let us tell it,
Finntan for a wonder of the land,
not a man was found, sharp and stately, who revealed
Ireland, before the time of the flood.

4 Two hundred after the flood's passing
seventy-eight, though thou tell it,
he who was a pure crown for valour,
Partholon comes, son of Sear.

5 Beyond every dignified psalm-canon,
the people of Partholon the sinner,
all died, the tale of his household,
on their Old Plain in a week.

6 Six times five years without increase,
without battle, dark was the eclipse,
vacant every side to the sounding sea ;
no one took her but Neimhedh.

7 The nimble champion went, 'tis no obscure knowledge,
from Scythia in the east, his native land,
to the Caspian Sea I shall admit he journeyed
to the ocean of the wave-swift codfish.

8 On the bright strand were prepared
thirty ships that were not small in crews,
and four galleys going with them,
three tens in each galley in quarterage.

9 A tower of gold appeared, though it was a wonder,
on the sea to them, close by them :
they consulted in frenzied wise ;
through covetousness they went to its splendour.

10 In the time of ebb it was visible,
after that from the flow over the top (?)
so that the choice of the men were drowned,
at the flow of the cold-water sea.

11 The chiefs of the diligent expedition,
there comes to this portion of their race
a cause of renewal of their strength ;
namely, the returning that was proper from the flood.

12 The good chieftains sail the sea
three half years complete ;
the mighty men of our land stayed not,
till at last they took Ireland.

13 Neimhedh with the rewarding (?) of all,
with store of fetters and of valour,
his was the land of warfare of throngs,
after the loss of the other septs.

14 He used to effect victory without ambushes,
Neimhedh with pride, with wisdom ;
the son of Agnoman with haughtiness ;
if I were to compare him, he was majestic.

15 Starn, who fell before the son of Faebhar,
Iarbanel the Prophet who was enduring,
Aininn, with the fetters of a famous man,
were the three venomous chiefs of Neimhedh.

16 Neimhedh paid them for sureties,
it was a fiery gnawing over doomed ones ;
in his time, with a great noise of rushing,
there was an outburst of four lakes.

17 Loch Muinremair of the pleasant wall,
of the troop ridge firm and stout ;
Loch Dairbrech toward the chariot enclosure,
Loch Cal, and Loch Ainninn.

18 Keenly there were dug by his host
two forts with rapid firmness ;
Rath Cinneich, it was no unwise assembly,
and Rath Ciombaeth in Seimne.

19 Cleared by him, it was a way of pleasure,
were twelve plains of good view ;
Magh Cera in Cinnacht of victory,
Magh Eaba full of blue-bells.

20 Magh Tochar was bravely cleared,
Lecmagh of the great territory of Munster,
Magh Bernsa that was cast under secrecy
Magh Cula Toladh, Magh Lughadh.

21 Magh Seired of the withered swards,
Magh Seimne of pleasing light,
Magh Luirg of the darkish side,
Magh Muirtheimne, Magh Macha.

22 Victories, a work of recounting, he wins
on the warriors of the Fomhoire of royal strength (?) ;
the battle of Morbolg of plains of great strength,
the battle of Badgna, and the battle of Cnamhros.

23 In the territory of Liathan by Munster,
the chief died of plague in darkness ;
with the clear-knowing violent troop
of the island of Ard Neimhidh.

24 Not secure against loss
was the seed that Neimhedh sowed,
at the hands of Conainn of hard body,
and of Morc son of Dele.

25 Two thirds of their beautiful children,
it was not honourable considering the weakness of their muster,
a long tax through ages of ages,
two thirds of corn and of milk.

26 To hard Magh Ceitne of weapons,
to Ess Ruadh of wonderful salmon,
they deliver it to help their preparation
to them, every Samhain eve.

27 The greatness and heaviness of their oppression
of their host, overcame their bosoms ;
like a wounding of iron-death in breasts,
it wounded their chieftains through them.

28 Through the desperate rough fierce servitude,
they assemble a mighty host,
to ravage them, a presage of pestilence,
against the mighty host of the Fomhoraigh.

29 The men of Ireland with their troops
went on an advance of power,
warriors who had blood over the body,
westward to the destruction of Conainn's Tower.

30 Semeon the son of joyful Iarbanel
Ferghus generous, pure, succour of pride,
Erglan son of Beoan the warlike,
were their three chiefs over the hosts.

31 They seek a respite with wisdom
to pay the injustice afterwards ;
Conainn, who was a harsh alien,
allowed only a year's grace.

32 The bears, after hearing the respite,
sent over sea their messengers
to the Greeks, to their natural kinsfolk ;
praiseworthy therefore was their expedition.

33 There comes [one] to them through invitation
a means of taking hosts by surprise ;
to conquer Conainn by his great strength (?),
the famous chariot-hero on whom was placed a winding sheet.

34 Ferghus Redside son of Neimhedh,
it is he who body-pierced the warrior ;
that is a deed for which Ferghus [became] renowned (?) ;
with intention he destroyed him.

35 The Greeks go over the sea
when their champions were sundered from wrath(?);
after the destruction of the tower in preparation,
their share of the booty was not small.

36 After that comes More the joyous
to help the chief of hosts :
he thought it hard that which had been suffered,
from which was memorable Conainn blemished.

37 They behold the number of bands
though it was a burden for the seed of Neimhedh ;
three score firm ships *** (?), an outcry led by Morc son of Dele.

38 The people of one ship, as I weave,
over the strong wave, though it was hard,
went from the great streaming slaughter,
eastward, of those who contended against Conainn.

39 Conainn's Tower with much destruction,
where happens the sin of a hundred lootings,
the castle of assembly of craftsmen,
of the wrath of the Fomhoire of the sea.

40 The men of Ireland after the destruction,
with great valour of courses before them,
there escaped not of them, a report of loss,
but thirty of the seed of Neimhedh.

41 The chieftains of the thirty divide
Ireland, noble her meadows,
in three thirds her tribe-lands —
it is remembered by him to whom it is a duty.

42 From Toirinis the third of Bethach,
he disposes it, it was a journey of profit,
to the Boyne of swirling water, eddying
fair smooth, comely, famous.

43 From the Boyne, joyous this story,
to the straight Belach Conglais,
the third of Semeon, noble the knowledge ;
with his good will it was no fit of weakness.

44 Thence northward to Conainn's Tower,
he obtained by the treaty, it was no bad share,
Briotan possessed the lands —
to his progeny it assured hardship.

45 They were not at peace about their possession
after the battle with great valour of woe ;
of the thirty noble champions,
every chief went his own direction.

46 To the land of Greece after the manifold combat
went Semeon, it was a road of happiness ;
with wisdom regarding the fortunate division,
Ferghus went to Mon Conain.

47 Briotan the bald, son of the prince,
free the track-rowing over waves,
son of the Red-sided from Lecmagh,
from whom are the Brethnaigh as thou hast been taught (?).

48 Beothach in the step of youth,
died in Ireland after age [or wounded] ;
his son went eastward after that,
till he landed in the confines of Greece.

49 I adore the King who hath made us,
I apportion every truth which I relate ;
His is the world with its race,
His is every land. His is Ireland.

72. Of the adventures of Semeon son of Erglan, son of Beoan, son of Agnoman, son of Neimhedh, and of his children, from when they left Ireland after the destruction of Conainn's Tower, to their return again as the Fir Bolg ; of the length of years they were in Ireland afterwards ; of the number of their kings, and of their deaths ; with other matters that concern their conquest, is related below.



création : 20/11/2009


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