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).


From Adam till Partholon took Ireland, 2520

From the Flood till Partholon took Ireland, 278

21. Now Ireland was desert for a space of two hundred three score and eighteen years after the flood till Partholon, son of Sear, son of Sru, son of Easru, son of Brament, son of Athecht, son of Magog, son of Japheth, son of Noe, came to it out of Greece.

22. For this cause he came from his native land, that is, from Sicily of the Greeks, a-fleeing from the kin-murder that he had wrought ; namely, killing his father and his mother, seeking the kingdom for his brother. A sailing of a month had he from Sicily to Aladacia ; three days from Aladacia to Gothia ; a journey of a month from Gothia to Spain ; nine days from Spain to Ireland. A Tuesday he took Ireland, in Inbher Scene, on the seventeenth of the moon.

23. These are the chiefs of this conquest. Partholon himself ; Slangha, Laighlinne, and Rudhraighe his three sons; Delgnat, Nerba, Cichva, and Cerbnat their four wives ; Aidhne, Aife, Aine, Fochain, Muchus, Melepart, Glas, Grennach, Abhlach, and Gribennach, the ten daughters of Partholon. These are their husbands — Brea, Boan, Ban, Cairtenn, Eccnach, Athcosan, Luchradh, Lugair, Liger, and Griber.

24. Of the names of the troop who were outstanding of the people of Partholon, besides those. Accasbel his steward, who was the first who made a guest-house in Ireland. Brea son of Senub, the first who made a house, a cauldron, and single combat. Malaliach, the first surety, and the first brewer, and the first man who drank ale of fern in Ireland ; and it is he who made questioning, bestowing, and adoration within it. Tath, Fios, and Fochmarc, his three jesters ; Miolchu, Meran, Muinechan, his three champions. Bachorbladhra, his man of learning ; he was the first foster-father of Ireland. Biobal and Babal were his merchants ; Biobal, the first who brought gold to Ireland, and Babal, the first who brought cattle. Tothacht, Tarba, Iomhus, Aithechbel, Cuil, Dorcha, and Damh, his seven chief ploughmen ; Lee, Lecmagh, Iomaire, and Eterche, the names of the oxen they had. Topa was the attendant of Partholon. In the time of Partholon was made the first building, the first mill, the first ale, and the first churning in Ireland.

25. Now Partholon chose a fertile place wherein to use the flowers, fruit, and sea-produce of Ireland ; because he found no husbandman before him, after his arrival there. The spot where he chose that place was in the vicinity of the Waterfall of the Two Fools ; that is, an island which is over against the waterfall on the bay. That was the place most fruitful, in his opinion, which he found before him in Ireland. The reason why it is called the Waterfall of the Two Fools was from the folly and madness that the wife of Partholon and his attendant, Topa, wrought, as is related below.

26. A day when Partholon went on the shore of the sea, as was his wont, to fish, he leaves his wife and his attendant together in the island. She sues intercourse of lechery of the attendant, and he made her no answer the first time. Such was her immodesty that she did not suffer that he should not lie with her, she being stripped ; so that he did her pleasure. A burning of intense thirst seizes them after that. Partholon had a vessel of excellent drink in the dwelling, from which nothing could be drank save through the tube of red gold that he himself had. She takes it to herself then, so that they drank their fill of it.

27. After Partholon returned from the chase on which he was, he asks for drink. It was brought to him. After tasting it, he found the taste of their mouths on the tube, and gave heed to the evil deed that they had done ; for the diabolic spirit that used to accompany him revealed it to him. Then he said, "Though no long time I am away from you there is a thing arisen through you that I find hard, and an honour-price is my due."

28. So he said this —

Great the story ye have scattered abroad,
O Delgnat, ye have caused us trouble ;
many children in doubt,
on the face of kings blushing,
in the heart of champions swelling,
peace will not give them sound hearts ;
the evil deed ye have plotted
little will not pay for great jealousy of a slave.

29. She answered Partholon and said, "I think," said she, "that it is I who deserve compensation for the injustice you have wrought ; for you it is who have caused the deed which I have done. For it is not right to neglect the guarding of desire of things for one another, for fear of destroying any of them. Just like honey to a woman, milk to a boy, flesh to a cat, food to the generous, a tool to a wright, so is a woman with a man ; it is not right not to interfere between them ; when desire of coition comes it cannot easily be resisted."

30. This verdict of Delgnat is the first verdict of Ireland; so that thence people have a proverb from that onward, " The right of his wife against Partholon." So she said this —

O my fair lord Partholon,
see thy cattle speckle-hued
do they not ask to be united ?
See thy sheep of fair robe,
do they not wait (?) the pairing-master ?
If thou consider thy lofty cattle,
not a special bull they approach ;
they approach bulls (?) from necessity.
If thou consider thy pleasant sheep,
when the heat comes they are very submissive
(to) whatsoever ram is first in pens.
Calves have a bandage (?) that they follow not their milch-kine ;
paddocks are closed (?) on the noble lambs
that the lambkins suck not.
Foaming milk from horned cattle
trust not to a kitten ;
trust not thy very sharp axe
with a hewer, for safety (?).

31. Partholon answered and said, " Great is the injury you have done, Delgnat," said he —

Great are your deliberate crimes,
your joint sin incurs penalties ;
we ever guarding you,
you doing us wrong.
Enough to cause evil habits to all,
seemly to all will appear your sinfulness.
The sin of Eve you have found,
second to it is what you have done
O Delgnat, or yet more.

32. While they were thus mutually disputing, the lap-dog of Delgnat comes to Partholon to play with him ; Samer was its name. He strikes a blow of his palm on it, so that he killed it ; so that from it is named the island, namely, Samer's Island. That is the first jealousy of Ireland. Moreover, its first adultery was the lying of his serving-attendant with Delgnat. Topa rises to flee from Partholon. He followed him, so that he destroyed him in punishment for his misdeed.

33. At the end of ten years after Partholon's coming to Ireland, he won a battle in the plain of Magh Ith against Ciogul Grigenchosach, son of Goll, son of Garbh, son of Tuathadh, son of Umhor, from Sliabh Emhoir, with his people, and against his mother, Lot the Frisky. Two hundred years were they without enjoying food, save only fish and bird-meat, so that therefore they came to land against Partholon in Inbher Domnann. So the aforesaid battle was fought between them, and Ciogul fell there with his mother and his people. Eight hundred was their tale, namely, two hundred men and six hundred women. With single feet, single hands, and single eyes the Fomoraigh fought that battle against Partholon. A week were they fighting it. This is the first battle of Ireland.

34. So that of the aforesaid things this was said —

1 Partholon, whence he came
to Ireland, they relate ;
ye scholars to whom speech is clear,
wherefore left he his fatherland ?

2 Here ye have, O company of knowledge,
according to their learning without mistake,
the scriptures that have been read by us,
the solution of the question I put.

3 Partholon before he came from the East,
seeking the kingdom for his brother,
in deeds — niggardly was the youth —
he destroyed his parents over there.

4 After perpetrating the kin-murder
he fled from the Sicilian land ;
he ploughed the back of the seas,
his guilt was vanquished by him.

5 I will name to you, it is no false knowledge,
naturally, for I am the authority,
the day he set forth over the salt sea,
from what land Partholon came.

6 He came from Sicily to Greece ;
his first journey was a year, without lie ;
a month's sailing from thence westward,
as far as Aladacia.

7 From Dacia afterwards (?) he journeyed,
a sailing of three days to Gothia ;
a sailing of a month from white Gothia
till he reached three-cornered Spain.

8 After that he reached Inis Fail,
in the end of nine days from Spain ;
the seventeenth, on Tuesday, he collected them,
in Inbher Scene he landed.

9 Two hundred four-score truly
but two years, it is no miscalculation,
after the flood, save only Finntan,
was Ireland empty till Partholon.

10 I will tell you the great company
that came here with Partholon ;
both maidens and active youths,
both chieftains and champions.

11 Slainghe, Laighlinne the ardent,
and Rudhraighe the very valorous,
his three sons, good was their valour ;
they were the chieftains in his presence.

12 His own spouse was Delgnat ;
Nerua, Cichua, and Cerbnat —
the learned one enlightens us —
were the wives of those other champions.

13 The names of the ten pure daughters
that Partholon had,
and the names of their ten husbands
I remember in full individually.

14 Aidne, Aife, tall Aine
Fochain, Muchus, Melepart,
Glas the beautiful, and Grennach,
Ablach, and Gribennach.

15 Brea, Boan, and Ban,
Cairthenn, Eccnach, Athcosan,
Luchrad, Lugair, Liger the warrior,
Griber, who was a wise Greek.

16 Bachorbladhra, who was a perfect sage,
was Partholon's man of learning ;
he is the first man after their coming,
who held instruction in Ireland.

17 By Brea son of Senboth the old
was a house first made, a cauldron on the fire ;
a feat on which the Gaedhil keep hold,
single combat in Ireland.

18 Accasbel was the name of the man
of his nobles and of his people,
who let a guest into his strong house
first in Ireland's island.

19 To Malalech belong, it is known,
the first drinking of ale, and suretyship ;
by him was done after that,
oracle-giving, adoration, oracle-consulting.

20 The three jesters of Partholon,
Tath and Fios and Fochmorc ;
and his three champions without stain,
Miolchu, Meran, Muinechan.

21 Biobal and white Babal
two merchants for Partholon ;
Biobal brought gold hither,
Babal brought cattle.

22 Tothacht and strong Tarba,
Iomus and Athechbel,
Cuil and Dorcha and Dam,
seven husbandmen for Partholon.

23 Lee and Leccmagh together,
Iomaire and Etirche
the four faithful oxen, a proper grouping,
who ploughed the land of Partholon.

24 The first building of Ireland, without sorrow,
was made under Partholon ;
the first quern, churning, ale — a happy catalogue —
were first made in Ireland high and good.

25 This is the first man who took a wife
after the death of the husband himself, without deceit,
Fionntan, who took the affectionate woman,
Aoife, daughter of Partholon.

26 Partholon after his coming to Banba
chooses a wonderful place,
after his passing an estimate on the land,
in the harbour of the Waterfall of the Two Fools.

27 For this cause the king chose
the coast — for its fruitfulness —
for it is not ploughing that serves it
on that occasion, in the Land of Elg.

28 Partholon went out on a day,
to wander round its fruitful shores ;
his attendant and his wife together
he leaves behind him on the island.

29 As they were in their house
the couple, strange and unacquainted,
she sues of the pure attendant,
and the attendant sued not of her.

30 When he made her no answer readily
the hard uncomely servant,
she strips herself in weariness,
though it was an unruly action of a good woman.

31 The servant rose without hesitation
— Humanity is the frail thing ! —
and came, a tale without reproach,
to Delgnat in common bed.

32 Bold was the work of a pleasant servant
which tuneful-stringed Topa did ;
to go with a spring of strength, force without renown,
to Delgnat in union.

33 Partholon, the man of the court, had
a vessel of very sweet drink ;
from which no one could take a drink
save through a tube of red gold.

34 When they had done the deed without sorrow,
a very great thirst came upon them ;
soon they drank a bright coal-drink
through the fragrant tube.

35 Partholon arrived from outside,
brought with him fish of clear water ;
he drank a draught from it without stumbling,
through the fragrant tube.

36 A black surly demon revealed
the evil deed of jealousy (?) that was not pleasant ;
"The taste of Topa's mouth still here,
and the taste of Delgnat's mouth."

37 Then said the sound son of Sera,
the man whose name was Partholon ;
"Though short the time we have been outside,
we have right to complain of you."

38 Delgnat answered her husband ;
"Not on us is the fault ;
though hard thou thinkest my saying it,
assuredly, but on thee.

39 " Honey with a woman, new milk with a child,
food with the generous, flesh with a cat,
a wright inside and a tool,
one with one, it is a great danger.

40 "The strong woman will taste the honey,
the child will drink the new milk,
the generous will give the white food,
the kitten will eat the flesh.

41 " The wright will ply the tools,
the one will go to the other ;
so that therefore it is right
to guard them well at first.

42 "If hard thou thinkest my saying this to thee,
Partholon, if it be in the right,
I am the 'one with one' here
I am innocent, I deserve recompense."

43 That is the first adultery heard of
that was in the beginning made here ;
the wife of Partholon, the man of valour,
being with a servile attendant.

44 And that, thus
is the first judgment given in Ireland ;
so that thence, in noble jurisprudence,
is "the right of his wife against Partholon."

45 The prince strikes the hound of the woman,
with his palm, it was not a deed with profit ;
the hound died with a slight chattel-injury —
that was the first jealousy in Ireland.

46 After that he steals soon from the house,
after seeing the avenger ;
to him it was not a portent of joy,
Topa, from fear of Partholon.

47 He went after the servant,
so that he slew him in anger ;
to him there came no help of God,
on the Weir of the Kin-murder.

48 The name of the place where that was done
having been verified certainly,
how very sweet it was once upon a time !
[is] in the land of Samer's Island.

49 I will tell you, in the track of every teacher,
after this story of Delgnat,
the battle of Magh Itha with valour,
as it is one of the deeds of Partholon.

50 At the end of ten complete years
after Partholon's coming here,
came a fleet on him, with great fury,
of the manly tribe of the Fomoraigh.

51 Two hundred years had they before that,
(living) on fish, on birds of the air ;
so that thence they came hither,
with no use of other food.

52 Eight hundred, that was their tale
of the fleet that went to the ocean,
both men and women, it is not crooked,
they landed at Inbher Domnann.

53 Ciogul, son of Goll, was the chief of those,
son of Garbh, son of fiery Tuathach,
son of Umor, over the sea from the east,
from which the Fomoraigh are named.

54 Lot the nimble was his stately mother,
from Caucasus holy and beautiful ;
out of her breasts her fat lips,
four eyes out of her back,
fiery and blazing was her form
the shapeless, gloomy spectre !

55 For this reason came Lot the ample,
from the east, from the land of Emhor,
together with her son, an honour which she promised,
to contest the island of Ireland.

56 Men with single swift legs,
and with perfect single arms ;
against them a good fight was won
and against Ciogal of the Fomoraigh.

57 Lot was slain with the tale of her host
the mother of Ciogul descendant of Umhor ;
daughter of Ner, rough, hairy,
from Caucasus of rounded tops.

58 Not a fugitive escaped out of it,
of the tribe of the Fomoraigh to their patrimony ;
the first battle of Ireland with valour,
Partholon was a week fighting it.


35. Four plains were cleared by Partholon ; namely, Magh Etirche in Connacht, Magh Iotha in Leinster, Magh Lii in Ui Mac Uais of Bregha, between Bior and Camus (sic), Magh Latharna in Dal Araidhe.

36. At the end of seven years after Partholon occupied Ireland, the first man of his people died, namely, Fea, son of Tortu, son of Sru, his father's brother. From him is called Magh Fea, for it is there he was buried, in Oilre of Magh Fea ; and of him is the first hurt, that is the first wounding in Leinster ; for there was he slain, in the top of the hill.

37. Partholon found not more than three lakes and nine rivers before him. These are the lakes ; Loch Fordremain, on which is Tralee at Sliabh Mis in Munster, Loch Luimhnigh and Fionnloch of Iorras Domhnann. These are the rivers ; the river of Liffey between Ui Neill and Leinster, Lee in Munster, Muaidh in Ui Fiachrach, Sligech, Samair, on which is Eas Ruadh, Buas between Dal nAraidhe and Dal Riada, Fionn between Cenel Conaill and Cenel Eoghain, Modhorn in Tir Eoghain, and Banna between Lee and Elle.

38. These are the lakes that burst in the time of Partholon. Loch Con and Loch Techet in Connacht, in the twelfth year after his coming. The burst of Loch Mask the year after. In that year died Slanga, son of Partholon, and in the Carn of Slangha's Mountain was he buried. At the end of two years after that, the burst of Loch Laighlinne in Ui Mac Uais ; while the grave of Laighlinne, son of Partholon, was being dug, it is there it broke forth, so that from him it is named. The burst of Loch Echtra, between Sliabh Modhairn and Sliabh Fuaid. The burst of Loch Rudraidhe in Ulaid at the end of ten years after that, so that what drowned him [i.e. Rudhraighe] was the burst of the lake over him. In the year after that, the sea-flood of Brena over the land, that is, the Shore of Brena, so that it is the seventh lake.

39. At the end of four years after that, the death of Partholon on the Old Plain of Elta of Edar. For this reason it is called the "Old Plain," because never did root nor twig of forest grow through it. Thirty years was he in Ireland till then.

40. Two hundred three score and ten years from the death of Partholon to the plaguing of his people. A plague came to them on the Calends of May precisely, the Monday of Beltain, so that nine thousand of them died from that Monday to the next ; that is, five thousand men and four thousand women, on the Old Plain of Ealta. Three hundred years the length of their stay over Ireland.

41. So that of them spake Eochaid ua Floinn —

1 O learned ones of the plain of Conn the slender and fair,
of the land of the men of Fál, as I relate,
what company after the creation of the world
first came to Ireland ?

2 Ireland before the swift flood,
as I relate its courses,
encountered a wise and pure white warrior band,
led by Cessair, daughter of Bith.

3 Forty days complete
the gentle slender swarm arrived,
in their ship, before the denseness of the flood ;
they took a place of land of Ireland.

4 To Dun na mBarc for the spreading of banquets (?),
tide without scale of measure brought them ;
at the Carn over the fruitful Boyle,
Cesair died in Cul Cesra.

5 Bith, not silent was his wave-exploit,
though he conquered under his bright helmet,
he died in Sliabh Betha, it is evident ;
Ladhra died in Ard Ladhrann.

6 Finntan went on a journey of weakness,
his grave was found, it was a leap of impetuosity ;
it was no tomb within a church boundary,
but his burial place is over Tul Tuinne.

7 He rose for a journey of truth-telling,
through the strength of the King Whom he used to adore ;
Finntan who was a man with stories,
for the strong lords of the earth.

8 Five times fifty years I pronounce,
four times seven the rule I calculate,
was it empty, I relate, I declare,
pleasant Ireland, after the flood.

9 Partholon the primaeval came,
a royal course over the sea travelled by rowing ;
his four heroes fair and dear,
of them was the free-born Slangha.

10 Slangha, Laighlinne of spears (?),
board-like the fair smoothness of their curachs,
his three warlike chieftains,
and Rudhraighe the chief.

11 Plains were cleared from mighty forest
by him, for the benefit of his dear children ;
Magh Itha southward, the hill of victorious Conn,
Magh Li of swift division (?), Magh Lathraind.

12 After he spent a while (?) here
Partholon, who was not conquered,
Fea, bold in all heroism,
the first champion that was slain.

13 Over Ireland most beautiful of colour,
as I relate every basis,
he found not on the fort of Bith,
more than three lakes before him.

14 Three lakes great and unlovely,
and nine very splendid rivers ;
Loch Fordremain, Loch Luimnigh,
Finnloch west of the borders of Iorras.

15 The river of Liffey, the Lee we mention,
for which every druid composes deinseang ;
it proves them a clear mark of the flood,
the history of the old rivers of Ireland.

16 The Muaidh, Sligech, Samair thou mentionest,
Buais a torrent with famous delight of melody,
Modam, Finn with appearance of brilliancy,
Banna between Lee and Elle.

17 Seven lake-bursts measure ye
names of fame, though ye boast it (?)
filled under the valleys of fetters
insular Ireland in his time.

18 Loch Laighlinne, a bay of rowing-benches (?)
Rudhraighe the red without lawgiving,
Loch Techet, Loch Mask mead-abounding,
Loch Con, Loch Echtra swan-haunted.

19 He died after pride, with warriors,
Partholon of the troop of hundreds ;
his wealthy hosts were cut down,
on the Old Plain of Elta of Edar.

20 For this reason it is the fortunate "Old Plain,"
it is God of pure form caused it ;
around its land that the sea-gulf cut off
nor root nor twig of a wood was found there.

21 There is their grave, the true men,
although it be no power among the saints ;
silent were his chiefs in their resting-places ;
no road of piety is it for scholars.

22 Men, women, boys, and girls,
in the Kalends of May, a very great separation ;
it was no healthy summer-feast of summer,
the plague of Partholon on Breaghmagh.

23 Three hundred years, though ye tell it,
over the lands more obscure than all lands,
to the pure tuneful well-mannered troop,
over noble desert Ireland.

24 It was thirty years of poverty,
she was void of the warrior-shout of fighting ;
after the death of her host in a week
in their flocks on Magh Elta.

25 I adore the King of the creatures
the good Chief the protection of our people,
whose is every host, every generation,
whose is every church, every knowledge.

26 I am Ua Floind who distributes truths
a sharing with kings I have chosen,
a saying of grace was everything I say
they were venerable, O scholars.

création : 20/11/2009

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