Irish Sagas at UCC University College Cork



Aided Chonchobuir

Background information

References in the Annals of the Four Masters

M14.1 Cairbre Caitcheann, after having been five years in the sovereignty of Ireland, died. Son to this Cairbre was the very intelligent Morann, who was usually called Morann mac Maein.

Lebor Gabála Érenn (Macalister), Volume 5

p. 305 Cairpre Cinn-chait son of Duthach took the kingship of Ireland for a space of five years. … This Cairpre had, as son, Morann mac Máin.

The History of Ireland (Geoffrey Keating), Volume 2

pp. 199-205 Now at that time, in order to incite champions to be brave in conflict, it was customary to give a champion’s prize as a token of victory to him who proved the stronger in single combat, and who vanquished his adversary in the field of valour. From this custom, there arose a contest for the champion’s prize between Conall Cearnach, and Cuchulainn and Laoghaire Buadhach in Eamhain. And Conall asked for the brain of Meisceadhra, a stout Leinster champion whom he had himself slain in single combat; and when the brain of that valiant man was exhibited, Laoghaire and Cuchulainn ceased from their contest with Conall, as they judged that neither of them had ever done so great a deed of bravery or valour. It was the custom at that time that when any champion slew in battle another champion of great fame, he took the brain out of his head and mixed it with lime, so that he had it in the shape of a hard round ball to show at meetings and public assemblies as a trophy of valour. And when two jesters whom Conchubhar kept noticed how highly everyone prized the brain, they stole it the next day from Conchubhar’s Craobhdhearg. Now there were three dwellings in Eamhain in Conchubhar’s time, namely, Broin Bhearg and Craobh Dhearg and Craobh Ruaidh. In the first house were their wounded; and it was called Broin Bhearg, because the wounded who were in it felt sorrow and distress from the piercing pain of the wounds, and of the distempers from which they suffered therein. In the second house, which was called Craobh Dhearg, were kept in safety the arms and precious valuables; and accordingly Meisceadhra’s brain was placed there for security as any other precious valuable. The third house that Conchubhar had was called the Craobh Ruaidh. It was in it himself and all his warriors used to be served. As to the two jesters, having carried off the brain of Meisceadhra from the Craobh Dhearg as we have said, they went on the green of Eamhain, and set to bandying the brain from hand to hand like a ball, when a fierce wolf of evil to the Ultonians, to wit, Ceat son of Magha, a valiant Connaughtman, came and coaxed the brain of Meisceadhra from the jesters, and took it with him to Connaught; and as often as he went to battle or contend against the Ultonians he was wont to have the brain of Meisceadhra at his girdle in the hope of bringing disaster on the Ultonians. For it was foretold that Meisceadhra would avenge himself on the Ultonians after his death; and he thought it was by means of the brain this prophecy would be fulfilled. Whence Ceat was wont to carry the brain of Meisceadhra about with him in the hope of slaying some one of the nobles of Ulster with it. Now Ceat, accompanied by a large host, went to plunder Ulster, and carried off a large herd of cattle from Feara Rois in Ulster; and he was pursued by a large force of Ultonians; and the men of Connaught flocked eastward to assist Ceat, and Conchubhar went westward to help the Ultonians. And when Ceat heard that Conchubhar was in pursuit, he sent word to the women of Connaught who were on a hill watching the two hosts asking them to entice Conchubhar to visit them, as he was a jovial, affable man, for the Ultonians would not permit him to take part in the battle against the men of Connaught. Now when Conchubhar heard that the women wished to see him, he set out alone from the height on which he was to visit them; while Ceat, on the other hand, went secretly and got into the midst of the women waiting in readiness to kill Conchubhar. When, therefore, Conchubhar was approaching the women, Ceat arose and arranged the brain of Meisceadhra in his sling to slay Conchubhar. But when the latter saw Ceat he retreated to the midst of his own people; and as he was proceeding to Doire Da Bhaoth, Ceat hurled the brain of Meisceadhra after him from his sling, and struck him on the crown; and his brain-pan was broken by that cast, and the brain of Meisceadhra clung to his skull; and thereupon his followers came up to protect him against Ceat. They then sent for Finghin Faithliaigh; and when he arrived, he said that if that ball were extracted from his head he would instantly die. ‘We had rather,’ said they all, ‘that our king should have a blemish than that he should die.’ Finghin cured him, and then told him not to get into a passion, to avoid sexual intercourse, to avoid riding on horseback, to abstain from violent exertion — otherwise, that by the repelling motion of his own brain, he would hurl the ball from his head and die. He was seven years in this state up to the Friday on which Christ was crucified, according to some seanchas. And when he saw the unwonted transformation of the elements and the darkening of the sun with the moon full, he inquired of Bacrach, a Leinster druid who was with him, what was the cause of that unwonted change in the luminaries of heaven and earth. ‘It is that Jesus Christ the Son of God is being put to death now by the Jews,’ replied the druid. ‘That is a pity,’ said Conchubhar; ‘and if I were present, I would slay all that are around my King putting Him to death.’ And with that he drew forth his sword, and went into an oak-wood hard by, and set to cutting and felling it, saying that, if he were amongst the Jews, he would treat them in the same way; and through the strength of the fury that seized him the ball bounded from his head, and a portion of his brain followed it, and with that he died. Coill Lamhruidhe in Feara Rois is the name of that wood-thicket.

pp. 207-209 This Ceat was a valiant man and during his life he was an enemy and constant plunderer of the Ultonians. On a certain day this Ceat proceeded to Ulster to wreak vengeance as was his wont; and there was heavy snow at that time; and as he was returning with the heads of three warriors whom he had slain on that expedition, Conall Cearnach pursued him and seized him at Ath Ceit. They fought; and Ceat fell in the conflict; and Conall was severely wounded, and lapsed into a trance on the spot after he had lost a large quantity of blood. Thereupon Bealchu of Breithfne, a Connaught champion, came to the place of conflict, where he found Ceat dead and Conall on the point of death, and said that it was well these two wolves who had caused the ruin of Ireland were in so sad a plight. ‘That is true,’ said Conall; ‘and in retribution for all the injury I have inflicted on Connaught do thou kill me.’ Now he said this because he would give the kingdom of Ireland that some other warrior should wound him so that a single Connaught warrior should not have the renown of slaying him. ‘I will not slay thee,’ said Bealchu, ‘since the plight thou art in is almost as bad as death. However, I will take thee with me and apply remedies to thee; and if thou recoverest from thy wounds, I will fight thee in single combat, so that I may avenge on thee all the injury and affliction thou hast brought on Connaught.’ Thereupon he placed him in a litter and took him to his own house, and there applied remedies to him, until is wounds were healed. But when Bealchu saw that Conall was recovering and his natural strength growing in him once more, he became afraid of him, and arranged for three warriors, his own sons, to slay him treacherously in bed by night. But Conall got a hint of this treacherous conspiracy; and on the night for which it was arranged that the sons should come to commit the murder, Conall said to Bealchu that he must exchange beds with him, else he would kill him. And accordingly Bealchu lay against his will in Conall’s bed, and Conall lay in Bealchu’s bed. And those three warriors, the sons of Bealchu, came to the bed in which Conall used to be and slew their father in mistake for Conall. Now when Conall observed that they had slain their father in mistake for himself, he sprang upon them and killed all three, and beheaded them and their father; and on the following day he took their heads to Eamhain in triumph. So far the murder of Ceat son of Magha and of Bealchu of Breithfne and his three sons.

pp. 211-213 Conchubhar had a poet called Aodh son of Ainneann, who carried on an intrigue with Maghain, Conchubhar’s wife; and when Conchubhar discovered this, the judgment he passed on the poet was that he be drowned in Loch Laoghaire; and at the king’s command a company went with him to drown him. And when Laoghaire Buadhach’s steward saw this, he went to Laoghaire and said that there was no place in Ireland where the poet could be drowned but at his own door. Thereupon Laoghaire leaped out, and his poll struck against the upper door-post of the house, and his skull was broken; after this he made a sudden onslaught on the company, and slew them, and rescued the poet; and he himself died on the spot. Such was the end of Laoghaire Buadhach.

pp. 235-237 Fearadhach Fionn Feachtnach, son of Criomhthann Nia Nar, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty years. … It was in his reign that Morann son of Maon lived, the just judge who possessed the Morann collar.

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Related saga online: Compert Conchobuir (The conception of Conchobur)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), “Anecdota from the Stowe MS. No. 992”, Revue Celtique, 6, 1984, pp. 173-182.
Digital Edition at (pp. 173-182); English translation at Tech Screpta

An abridged and adapted version of the English translation appears in:
Eleanor Hull, The Cuchullin Saga in Irish Literature, (London: David Nutt, 1898), pp. 1-6.
Digital Edition at (pp. 1-6 (91-98)); English translation at

Vernam Hull (ed. & tr.), “The conception of Conchobor”, in: Fraser, J., P. Grosjean, and J. G. O’Keeffe (eds.), Irish texts, fasciculus IV, (London: Sheed and Ward, 1934), pp. 4-12.
Digital Edition at CDI (PDF) pp. 4-12; Irish text at CELT

Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), Hibernica minora, being a fragment of an Old-Irish treatise on the Psalter, Anecdota Oxoniensia, Mediaeval and Modern Series 8, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), p. 50.
Digital Edition at CDI (PDF) (p. 50 (71))

Related saga online: Scéla Conchobair maic Nessa (Tidings of Conchobar mac Nessa)
Whitley Stokes (ed. & tr.), Ériu, 4, 1910, pp. 18-38.
Digital Edition at JSTOR; English translation at; English translation at Tech Screpta; Digital Edition at (pp. xxxiv-xxxv (41-42)

Related saga online: Aided Ailella  & Conaill Chernaig (The Death of Ailill and Conall Cernach)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, 1, 1897, pp. 102-111.
Digital Edition at (pp. 102-111); English translation at Tech Screpta

Related saga online: Aided Lóegairi Búadaig (The Death of Lóegaire Búadach)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), The Death-Tales of the Ulster Heroes, (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1906; repr. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1993), pp. 22-23.
Digital Edition at (pp. 22-23); Digital Edition at (pp. 22-23 (34-35)); Irish text at CELT; English translation at CELT; English translation at; English translation at Tech Screpta

Related saga online: Aided Cheit maic Mágach (The Death of Cet mac Mágach)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), The Death-Tales of the Ulster Heroes, (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1906; repr. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1993), pp. 36-40.
Digital Edition at (pp. 36-40); Digital Edition at (pp. 36-40 (48-52)); Irish text at CELT; English translation at CELT; English translation at; English translation at Tech Screpta

Related saga online: Talland Étair (the Siege of Howth)
Whitley Stokes (ed. & tr.), Revue Celtique, 8, 1887, pp. 47-64.
Digital Edition at (pp. 47-64); Irish text at CELT; English translation at Tech Screpta; English translation at (pp. 87-100 (178-186)); German translation at (pp. 66-69 (85-87))

Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (O’Curry)
On the place of the death-wound of Conchobhar mac Nessa:
Ardnurcher (Baile Átha an Urchair), a townland and parish, in the barony of Moycashel (Map), Co. Westmeath, p. 593 (628) (Onom. ‘ardnurcher’)
List of Historic Tales in the Book of Leinster includes:
Aided Concobair (The Tragical Death of Conchobhar), p. 588 (624)

R = The Rennes Dindshenchas (Stokes), Revue Celtique, 15-16, 1894-95
M = The Metrical Dindshenchas (Gwynn)
E = The Edinburgh Dinnshenchas (Stokes), Folklore, 4, 1893
S = Silva Gadelica (O’Grady), Volume 2
R: Emain Macha §161 (See Section 1), Part 5, pp. 279-283
M: Emain Macha (See Section 1), Volume 4, pp. 309-311, p. 459
R: Slíab Fuait §100 (See Section 7), Part 3, pp. 51-52, (‘Slíab Fuait’)
M: Sliab Fúait I (See Section 7), Volume 4, pp. 163-167, pp. 419-420
M: Sliab Fúait II (See Section 7), Volume 4, pp. 167-169, pp. 420-421
E: Sliab Fuait §64 (See Section 7), pp. 483-484, (‘Sliab Fuait’)
S: Sliabh Fuaid (See Section 7), p. 521 (555)

Cóir Anmann: Fitness of Names (Stokes), Irische Texte, Ser. III.2
Conall Cernach §§251-252 (See Section 1), pp. 393-395, p. 423
Connachta §76 (See Section 3), p. 325, p. 414
Cú Chulainn §266 (See Section 1), pp. 399-401, p. 423
Loegaire Birnn Buadach §218 (See Section 1), p. 375, p. 421
Morann (in Feradach Fechtnach §107) (See Section 12), p. 333, p. 415
Ulaid §245 (See Section 1), pp. 387-389, p. 422

Book of Leinster
Ulster Cycle
Cet mac Mágach
Conchobar mac Nessa; Kings of Ulster
Conall Cernach
Cú Chulainn
Lóegaire Búadach
Emain Macha


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