A note about Fiacha Muillethan

Book of Lecan

Trans. Whitley Stokes

Eogan the Great son of Ailill Bare-ear went to the battle of Magh Mucrame. He getteth guesting in the house of the druid Treith son of Dá Crega. On Carn Feradaich was Treith's house, and he had a very comely daughter, named Moncha. Eogan asked Treith for his daughter for that night, and Treith told his daughter to go into Eogan's bed. And he said to her that she would bear a son to Eogan, and that that son would be king of Munster, and that his children after him would be royal, and that Eogan himself would be slain in the battle of Magh Mucrame.

Thereafter Moncha sleeps with Eogan, and at the end of nine months she bears a son whose name was Fiacha Muillethan (Broadcrown). For when she went to bring him forth the druid said to her : "If thou bear thy son today he will be (only) a druid's child; but if thou bear him tomorrow, the boy will be a king and his children will be royal."

"Unless", she saith, "he shall corne through my side, he shall not go the proper way till the morrow1."

On the morrow, at sunrise, Moncha bears her son, and he was called "Muillethan", because his head flattened on the stone [on which his mother sat in order to delay his birth,] and the site of his head still remains on the stone.

Fiacha Muillethan assumed the lordship of Munster after Cormac Cas son of Ailill Bare-ear; and in his time it was that Cormac, grandson of Conn [of the Hundred Battles] came on a hosting into Munster as far as Druim Damgaire, the other name whereof was Long Cliach. And there he began invading the Munstermen, so that Fiacha Muillethan sent [for aid] to Mogh Ruith [the druid,] who then dwelt in Dairbre. And for coming to the battle there was given him his choice of the lands of Munster. So after that Mogh Ruith came to the battle, and Cormac and Conn's Half were routed through Mogh Ruith's teaching, and Cormac gave hostages to Fiacha Muillethan. Wherefore Feidlimid son of Cremthann said :

Fiacha Muillethan, excellent king,
From the lands of Lee, on the slopes of Crai,
Hostages were brought to him from strong Tara
To famous Fafann, to Rath Nai.
To the king of Donn's House knelt
Cormac, Conn's grandson, though***

Fiacha Fer dá liach, "Man of two sorrows", was another name of his, to wit, a grief from each misfortune that happened to him (great the misfortune to him), namely, the killing of his father in battle by Mac Con, and the killing of his mother by bringing him forth. Finit.


1. Here there is a gap in the tale. According to Keating (O'Mahony's translation, p. 316). Moncha then "Went into a ford upon the river Siuir, which flowed by her father's dwelling, and there she remained stationary, seated upon a stone. And when the auspicious hour had arrived, she came forth out of the river, gave birth to her son, and then died immediately on the spot."

Sources : Whitley Stokes, Revue Celtique 11