Irish Sagas at UCC University College Cork



Ceart Claidib Cormaic

Background information

References in the Annals of the Four Masters

M157.1  Conn of the Hundred Battles, after having been thirty five years in the sovereignty of Ireland, was slain by Tibraite Tireach, son of Mal, son of Rochraidhe, King of Ulster, at Tuath Amrois.

M227.1  The first year of Cormac, son of Art, son of Conn of the Hundred Battles, as king over Ireland.

M266.1  Forty years was Cormac, son of Art, son of Conn, in the sovereignty of Ireland, when he died at Cleiteach, the bone of a salmon sticking in his throat.

The History of Ireland (Geoffrey Keating), Volume 2

pp. 261-263 Conn Ceadchathach son of Feidhlimidh Reachtmhar, son of Tuathal Teachtmhar of the race of Eireamhon, held the sovereignty of Ireland twenty years, and was treacherously slain in the district of Tara, being found alone there by Tiobraide Tireach son of Mal, son of Rochruidhe, king of Ulster. Indeed, Tiobraide sent fifty warriors disguised as women to slay him; and it was from Eamhain they set out to do that treacherous deed.

pp. 339-343 It was in the time of Cormac that Fitheal lived; and he was his chief brehon; and as Fitheal was about to die, he sent for his son named Flaithri; and this Flaithri was a wise and learned man. Fitheal left him his blessing, and advised him to observe four things most carefully, and that it would be to his advantage to do so, namely, not to nurse or take in fosterage a king’s son, not to impart a dangerous secret to his wife, not to raise the state of a serf’s son, not to commit his purse or his treasure to his sister’s keeping. And after Fitheal’s death, Flaithri resolved to test each of these points. And to make trial of them he took in fosterage the son of Cormac son of Art; and some time after he took the child with him into a wood, and gave him to one of his people, a swineherd, who lived in the recesses of the wood; and he asked him to conceal the child well until himself should send him a certain token, and then he returned to the town to his own house, and feigned much trouble and distress; and his wife inquired of him the cause of his trouble and distress. He said it was nothing. But when she saw his distress continue, she began to importune him to find out from him the cause of his trouble. He said that, if she would keep it a secret, he would tell her the cause of his distress.
She swore that whatever he should tell her as a secret she would not reveal it. ‘Then,’ said he, ‘I have committed a dreadful act of treachery, that is, the slaying of my fosterson, the king’s son.’ Upon hearing this, the wife screamed and called the house-folk, and told them to bind the parricide because he had killed the king’s son. And they did accordingly, and they took him bound to the king. Flaithri also had raised the state of the son of one of his own stewards so that he became a rich man. Similarly very soon after his father’s death he committed some of his wealth to his sister’s keeping, so that none of the four counsels his father had given him should go untested by him. Now, when, the steward’s son found that he was a prisoner, and the king about to put him to death, none of them was more bitter and severe against him than he, as he hoped to acquire Flaithri’s inheritance for himself.
Flaithri, finding himself in this difficulty, sent a message to his sister, asking her to send him the treasure he had give her to keep, that he might make friends for himself around the king’s person. But when the messenger reached her, she denied that she had ever received any such thing from him. And when that reply reached Flaithri, as he was about to be put to death, he asked to be permitted to go before the king, in order to speak to him on a secret matter; and when he had come into Cormac’s presence, he told him that the child was safe, and asked to be kept in his bonds till his foster-son should be brought in. The son was sent for; and when the child had come in from the swineherd who had been keeping him in safety, as he beheld Flaithri in bonds, he wept without ceasing until he was set free. And when Flaithri had been set free, Cormac asked him privately why he had permitted himself to be placed in this predicament. ‘It was to test the four counsels my father gave me I did so,’ said Flaithri; ‘and I found on testing them that my father’s four counsels to me were wise. In the first place, it is not wise for anyone to take upon him the bringing up of a king’s son lest he may be guilty of neglect resulting in the injury or loss of the fosterchild, while the life or death of the foster-father who had been negligent was in the power of the king. As to the second counsel my father gave me, the keeping of a dangerous secret is not by nature in the power of women in general; hence it is not prudent to commit such a secret to them. The third counsel my father gave me was not to raise or make wealthy the son of a serf or of a lowly person; for such persons are usually unmindful of the benefit conferred on them; and moreover, they are hurt that the party who raised them should be aware of the meanness and lowly state whence they rose. Good,’ said he, ‘is the fourth counsel my father gave me: not to give my treasure to my sister; for it belongs to the nature of women to regard as spoil whatever valuables their friends give them to keep in safety.’

Related saga online: Oided Chuind Chétchathaig (The Death of Conn of the Hundred Battles)
Osborn Bergin (ed. & tr.), Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, 8, 1912, pp. 274-277.
Digital Edition at (pp. 274-277); English translation at CELT; English translation at

Related text online: The Dialogue between King Cormac and Fíthel
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), pp. 82-83.
Digital Edition at CDI (PDF) (pp. 82-83 (103-104)); Irish text at TLH; English translation at TLH

Ancient Laws of Ireland (O’Donovan / O’Curry), Volume I

p. 25 (86), ‘Fithel had the truth of nature, so that he pronounced no false judgment.’ (See Section 21)

p. 23 (84), ‘Neridh Mac Finnchuill from the fairy hills, as some say, but more correctly son of Morann.’ (See Section 20)

On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish (O’Curry / O’Sullivan), Volume 2

pp. 51-52, ‘Fithal “the true and wise, of heroic words”, was King Cormac’s chief Judge.’ (See Section 1)

pp. 51-52, ‘Nera, the Druid and Lawgiver, son of Morann; … Nera, son of Fincholl, of Sidh Femin. (See Section 20)

p. 324, ‘The Nere alluded to was himself a judge, and the worthy son of the celebrated judge Morann, “of the Golden Collar”.’ (See Section 20)

R = The Rennes Dindshenchas (Stokes), Revue Celtique, 15-16, 1894-95
M = The Metrical Dindshenchas (Gwynn)
B = The Bodleian Dinnshenchas (Stokes), Folklore, 3, 1892
S = Silva Gadelica (O’Grady), Volume 2
R: Temair §1 (See Section 3), Part 1, pp. 277-289, (‘Temair’)
M: Temair 1 (See Section 3), Volume 1, pp. 3-5
M: Temair 2 (See Section 3), Volume 1, pp. 7-13
M: Temair 3 (See Section 3), Volume 1, pp. 15-27
M: Temair 4 (See Section 3), Volume 1, pp. 29-37
M: Temair 5 (See Section 3), Volume 1, pp. 39-45
B: Temuir §1 (See Section 3), p. 470, (‘Temuir’)
S: Temhuir (See Section 3), p. 514 (549)

Cóir Anmann: Fitness of Names (Stokes), Irische Texte, Ser. III.2
Conn Cétchathach §111 (See Section 20), p. 335, p. 415

Yellow Book of Lecan
Book of Ballymote
Cycles of the Kings
Cormac mac Airt; High Kings of Ireland
Conn Cétchathach; High Kings of Ireland
Tipraiti Tireach; Kings of Ulster

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