Irish Sagas at UCC University College Cork



Cath Cairnn Chonaill

Background information

References in the Annals of Ulster, the Annals of Inisfallen, the Annals of Tighernach, the Annals of the Four Masters, the Chronicon Scotorum and the Fragmentary Annals

U549.1 The falling asleep of the son of the wright, i.e. Ciarán, in the 33rd year of his age or in the 7th after he had begun to build Cluain Moccu Nóis.

U592.2 Birth of Cuiméne Fata.

AI596.2 Birth of Cuimíne, i.e. the Tall, son of Fiachna.

T601.4 Amalgaidh son of Éanna, king of Munster, died.

U604.2 The slaying of Aed Sláine … by Conall son of Suibne.

T641.9 Cuan son of Amalgaidh, king of Munster, died.

M645.4 The battle of Carn Conaill was gained by Diarmaid, son of Aedh Slaine against Guaire, wherein were slain the two Cuans, namely, Cuan, son of Enda, King of Munster, and Cuan, son of Conall, chief of Ui Fidhgeinte; and Tolamhnach, chief of Ui Liathain; and Guaire was routed from the battle field. Diarmaid, on his way to this battle, went first through Cluain Mic Nois. The congregation of St. Ciaran made supplication to God that he might return safe, through the merits of their guarantee. After the king’s return, he granted Tuaim nEirc (i.e. Liath Manchain), with its sub divisions of land, as altarsod, to God and to St. Ciaran; and he gave three maledictions (i.e. curses) to that king whose people should take even a drink of water there. Wherefore Diarmaid ordered his burial place at Cluain Mic Nois.

T649.2 The battle of Carn Conaill on Whit Sunday, wherein fell two Cúáns, namely, Cúán son of Amalgaidh son of Éanna, king of Munster, and Cúán son of Conall, king of Uí Fidgeinte, and Tolamnach, king of Uí Liatháin. And Guaire fled, and Diarmaid, son of Aodh Sláine, was victor. Now Diarmaid had marched to that battle through Clonmacnois. The community of Clonmacnois made supplication to God that he might come back, safe by [virtue] of their guarantee. So after the return of the king he offered Tuaim nEirc (Erc’s Mound) with its subdivision of land — Liath Manacháin is its name today — as a ‘sod on altar’ to God and to saint Ciarán. And he bestowed three curses on the king of Meath if any of his people should consume even a draught of water therein. Wherefore Diarmaid demanded to be buried in Clonmacnois.

U649.2 The battle of Carn Conaill in which Guaire took flight, and Diarmait son of Aed Sláine was victor.

The field of Corb’s son is thus —
Something that sets every plain in Munster alight —
A standing-stone has become the colour of blood:
That is lamentable, Talamnach.

Guaire sang:

I am thankful for what has been gained
Tonight for my feast, a single morsel;
I have had many another night
When Mary’s son gave me seven cows.

AI649.3 The battle of Carn Conaill [gained] over Guaire Aidni by Diarmait, son of Aed, in which Dúnchad and Conall, two sons of Blathmac, fell.

M651.2 St. Aedhlug, son of Cummain, Abbot of Cluain Mic Nois, died on the 26th of February.

U652.1 Repose of Aedlug son of Camán, abbot of Cluain Moccu Nóis.

CS652 Repose of Aedlugh, abbot of Cluain mac Nóis; his kin was of Gailenga of Corran i.e. the son of Saman.

T652.7 St Caimin of Inis Celtra died.

AI654.1 Repose of Camíne of Inis Celtra.

T661.1 Cuimíne Fada in the 72nd year of his age died.

M661.2 St. Cummine Foda, son of Fiactna, Bishop of Cluainfearta Breanainn, died on the twelfth day of November. Colman Ua Clasaigh, the tutor of Cummine, composed these verses:

The Luimneach did not bear on its bosom,
of the race of Munster, into Leath Chuinn,
A corpse in a boat so precious as he,
as Cummine, son of Fiachna.

If any one went across the sea,
to sojourn at the seat of Gregory,
If from Ireland, he requires no more
than the mention of Cumine Foda.

I sorrow after Cumine,
from the day that his shrine was covered;
My eyelids have been dropping tears; I have not laughed,
but mourned since the lamentation at his barque.

FA 19 662 Kl. Cummíne Fota died in the seventy-second year of his age; whence Colmán úa Clúasaig, tutor of Cummíne, sang:

A dead man south of me, a dead man to the north,
they were not the darlings of a worthless army;
relieve, O King of grey heaven,
the misery you have sent us.

The dead of this year —
nothing is to be lamented in comparison with them —
Máel Dúin, Bécc son of Fergus,
Conaing, Cummíne Fota.

If anyone across the sea were entitled,
he would attain to the dignity of Gregory,
if he were from Ireland, there was no one for it
except Cummíne Fota.

He was not only a bishop, he was a king,
my Cummíne was son of a lord;
Ireland’s beacon-blaze for wisdom;
he was lovely, as has been told.

Noble his tribe, noble his form,
his kindred was widespread;
descendant of Cairpre and descendant of Corc,
he was a wise man; he was brilliant; he was famous.

U662.1 Cuiméne the Tall rested in the 72nd year of his age.

The deaths of this year—
Nothing is to be lamented in comparison with them—
Mael Dúin, Béc son of Fergus,
Conaing, and Cuiméne the Tall.

M662.6 Guaire (i.e. Aidhne), son of Colman, King of Connaught, died.  Guaire and Caimin, of Inis Cealtra, had the same mother, as is said:

Cumman, daughter of Dallbronach,
was the mother of Caimin and Guaire;
Seven and seventy
was the number born of her.

U663.1 Death of Guaire of Aidne.

T663.1 Guaire of Aidne died, and his burial at Clonmacnois.

U665.1 The great mortality. Diarmait son of Aed Sláine and Blamac … died i.e. of the buide Chonaill.

M1162.4 The relics of Bishop Maeinenn and of Cummaine Foda were removed from the earth by the clergy of Brenainn, and they were enclosed in a protecting shrine.

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The History of Ireland (Geoffrey Keating), Volume 3

pp. 59-65 The seventh year of the reign of this Diarmaid, king of Ireland, a nun named Sineach Chro came to Diarmaid to make a complaint to him against Guaire, son of Colman, for having taken her only cow from her. Diarmaid assembled a numerous host with the object of obtaining satisfaction from Guaire for the nun’s cow, and he at once marched to the Sionainn. Now Guaire had assembled a host and multitude on the other side to oppose him, and he sent Cuimin Foda, son of Fiachna, to ask Diarmaid not to go westward beyond the Sionainn for the space of twenty-four hours. ‘That is not a great request to grant thee,’ said Diarmaid, ‘and a greater would be granted thee had’st thou asked it.’ Now they were on either side of the Sionainn, King Diarmaid on the east side and Guaire on the west side until the following morning. ‘I wonder,’ said Cuimin, ‘at the smallness of this host of thine seeing how great the host is which is against thee.’ ‘Understand, O cleric,’ said Diarmaid ‘that a battle is not won by large armies, but according to God’s will; and if thou contemnest my host, know that it is not fair forms but stout hearts that win battles.’
The battle was set on foot between them, the king and his host on one side and Guaire, with the Connaught and Munster forces, on the other. But Guaire and his host were defeated, and many Connaught nobles and Munstermen were slain. And it was at the intercession of Caimin, who lived and blessed in Inis Cealltrach, that the battle went against Guaire; for Caimin fasted three days against Guaire in order that he might lose the battle. This St. Caimin is of the race of Fiachaidh Aiceadha, son of Cathaoir Mor. Now Guaire went to Caimin and paid him respect and homage and bowed down before him. ‘There is no avoiding defeat in battle for thee,’ said Caimin.
Now when Guaire had lost the battle he came alone to a little monastery, in which there was a solitary pious woman, and the woman asked who he was. ‘I am [one of Guaire’s officers],’ said he. ‘I am very sorry,’ said she, ‘that defeat should have overtaken this king, who is the most charitable and humane and hospitable in Ireland, and that his followers should be visited with dreadful slaughter.’ The pious woman went to a stream hard by and saw a salmon therein. She came back to Guaire with this news. Guaire went out to the stream and killed the salmon, and gave God thanks for having only the salmon that night, though he had often ten beeves other nights. Guaire went the next day to meet his friends, and took counsel of them as to whether he should give battle again to the king of Ireland or swear submission to him on a javelin’s point. What Guaire and his friends resolved on was that he should go to Diarmaid and make his submission to him. Now the way in which he made his submission to him was to put the point of the king’s javelin or sword in his mouth, between his teeth, while on bended knees. And while Guaire was in this position the king said secretly to some of his own people: ‘We will find out,’ said he, ‘whether it was through vain glory that Guaire practised such great generosity.’ He caused a druid from among his friends to ask him for something for the sake of science, but Guaire did not heed him. He sent a leper to ask him for an alms for God’s sake; he gave the poor man the gold bodkin that held his mantle. The poor man left him; and one of king Diarmaid’s people met him and took the gold bodkin from him and gave it to Diarmaid. The poor man again came back to Guaire and complained of this to him, and Guaire gave him the gold belt that was round him, and Diarmaid’s people took the belt also from the poor man; and he came again to Guaire, who had the point of Diarmaid’s sword between his teeth, and, as Guaire beheld the poor man troubled, a flood of tears came from him. ‘O, Guaire,’ said the king, ‘is it distress at being under my sway that makes thee thus weep?’ ‘I solemnly declare that it is not,’ said he, ‘but my distress at God’s poor one being in want.’ Thereupon Diarmaid told him to arise and that he would not be thenceforth under his own authority, and that the King of all the elements was over him if he were to make a submission, and that he considered that sufficient on his part. They made a treaty of peace with one another, and Diarmaid asked him to come to the fair of Taillte, into the presence of the men of Ireland; ‘and,’ added he, ‘I will give thee my lordship to be thine from my death onwards.’
Guaire then went to the fair of Taillte, having with him a budget or bag of silver to dispense to the men of Ireland. Now Diarmaid charged the men of Ireland that none of them should ask anything of Guaire at the fair. Two days passed in this manner; on the third day, however, Guaire asked Diarmaid to send for a bishop for him that he might make his confession and be anointed. ‘How is that?’ enquired Diarmaid. ‘As I am near death,’ said Guaire. ‘How dost thou know that?’ asked Diarmaid. ‘I know it,’ said Guaire, ‘for the men of Ireland are assembled and none of them asks me for anything.’ Then Diarmaid gave Guaire leave to make gifts. Guaire proceeded to make gifts to everyone, and, if the tale be true, the hand with which he made gifts to the poor was longer than that with which he made gifts to the bards. Then Diarmaid made peace and agreement with Guaire in presence of the men of Ireland, and they were thenceforth on friendly terms with each other.

pp. 69-71 Guaire, son of Colman, and Cuimin Foda, son of Fiachtna, and Caimin of Inis Cealtrach, were in the principal church of the island, and three questions were proposed between them. First, Caimin said, ‘O Guaire, what wouldst thou wish to have?’ ‘Gold and wealth to bestow,’ answered Guaire. ‘And thou, O Cuimin,’ said Guaire, ‘what wouldst thou like to have?’ ‘Many books containing the word of truth,’ said Cuimin. ‘And thou, O Caimin,’ said Cuimin, ‘what is thy wish?’ ‘Many diseases in my body,’ answered Caimin. And the three got their wishes.

pp. 119-123 Domhnall, son of Aodh, … held the sovereignty of Ireland thirteen years. … It was, moreover, in the reign of Domhnall that Carrthach, that is, Mochuda, were banished from Rathain to Lios Mor. Now when Mochuda went from Ciarraidhe on a pilgrimage to Rathain he built a monastery there, and he placed a community of monks in the monastery; so that there were seven hundred and ten monks with him there, who passed their lives so piously that an angel used to converse with every third monk of them, and thus it came to pass that the fame and renown for great sanctity of the community of Rathain grew apace. For this reason the saints of the clann Neill became very envious, and they sent word to Mochuda directing him to abandon Rathain and betake himself to his own country, that is, to Munster. Mochuda replied to the messengers who brought him these instructions and said that he would not leave Rathain unless he were put out of it by the hand of a bishop or of a king. When this message reached the pious men of the clann Neill they besought Blathmhac and Diarmaid Ruanuidh, two sons of Aodh Slaine, who were of the clann Neill, to go and expel Mochuda from Rathain; and at the instigation of this body, Blathmhac and Diarmaid Ruanuidh, along with a company of clerics from the northern side, visited Rathain.
When Mochuda heard that they had come close to him he sent a lord of the Picts, or Cruitnigh, from Alba, called Constantine, who was a lay-brother in the community, to beseech these nobles to give a year’s respite to Mochuda and to his community before expelling them from Rathain. And he got this request from them. And when the year passed the same nobles came in a year’s time, along with a company of the same clerics, and when they had come close to Rathain, Blathmhac sent word to Mochuda asking him to come out of the monastery; and thereupon Mochuda sent the same Constantine to beseech them to give him another year’s respite, and they granted this, though unwillingly. And at the end of the third year the same nobles and the same clerics were incited by the lawless folk of the Ui Neill to come and expel Mochuda the third year from Rathain; and when that company had come near the village they, of one accord, sent Diarmaid Ruanuidh and the airchinneach of Cluain Conghusa, along with a party, to bring Mochuda by the hand out of the monastery; and when these had reached the church the airchinneach went in and Diarmaid remained outside at the doorpost. When Mochuda heard that Diarmaid was at the door he went to welcome him and ask him into the church. ‘I will not go in,’ said Diarmaid. ‘Is it to carry me off from the monastery thou hast come?’ said Mochuda. ‘It is,’ said Diarmaid, ‘but I dare not do it, and I repent of having come on this expedition, by reason of thy great sanctity and of the honour God gives thee.’ ‘Honour in heaven and on earth be thine,’ said Mochuda, ‘and power and the sovereignty and the kingdom of Ireland be thine, and may thy progeny prosper after thee; and when thou shalt have returned to thy company, the youths who are there will give thee the name Diarmaid Ruanuidh in reproach. But that nickname will redound to thy honour and to that of thy offspring.’ Thereupon Diarmaid returned to the company, and when he came before them Blathmhac asked him why he did not lay hands on Mochuda and bring him out of the monastery. ‘I dared not do it,’ said Diarmaid. ‘That, O Diarmaid, is a bashful behaviour.’ And when the company heard this they dubbed him Diarmaid Ruanuidh. Now ruanuidh means deargthach or ‘bashful’, so that his descendants are called the descendants of Diarmaid Ruanuidh ever since.

pp. 135-137 The Battle of Carn Conaill was fought by Diarmaid, son of Aodh Slaine, wherein Cuan, son of Amhalghuidh, who was king of Munster ten years, and Cuan, son of Conall, king of Ui Fidhgheinnte, and Talamonach, king of Ui Liathain, were slain; and it was through the prayer of Ciaran’s community at Cluain Mic Nois that Diarmaid won that battle. And when Diarmaid returned to Cluain Mic Nois he bestowed land on that church as altar-land. And the name of that land at this day is Liath Mhanchain, and it was at Cluain Mic Nois that Diarmaid willed that he should be buried after his death.

Related poem online: The Song of Créde, daughter of Guaire
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), The Song of Créde, daughter of Guaire, Ériu, 2, 1905, pp. 15-17.
Digital Edition at (pp. 15-17 (27-29)); Digital Edition at JSTOR

Gerard Murphy (ed. & tr.), The Lament of Créide, Daughter of Gúaire of Aidne, in Early Irish Lyrics, eighth to twelfth century, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), pp. 86–89.
Irish text at CELT

Related saga online: Tromdámh Guaire (Guaire’s Burdensome Company)
Owen Connellan (ed. & tr.), Imtheacht na Tromdháimhe, Transactions of the Ossianic Society, for the year 1857, vol. 5 (Dublin, 1860), pp. 1-129.
Digital Edition at; English translation at Tech Screpta
“ ’Tis to him … and the blackberries in the hiding-place.” (See Section 36), pp. 51-61

Related saga online: Scéla Colmáin meic Duach ocus Guairi meic Colmáin (The story of Colmán mac Duach and Guaire mac Colmáin)
Whitley Stokes (ed. & tr.), Three Legends from the Brussels Manuscript 5100-4, Revue Celtique, 26, 1905, pp. 372-377; 27, 1906, p. 203.  
Digital Edition at (pp. 372-377); (p. 203); Irish text at TLH; English translation at TLH

J. G. O’Keeffe (ed. & tr.), Colman Mac Duach and Guaire, Ériu, 1, 1904, pp. 44-47.
Digital Edition at (pp. 44-47 (59-62)); Digital Edition at JSTOR; Irish text at TLH; English translation at TLH

Related poem online:
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), King and Hermit:a Colloquy between King Guaire of Aidne and His Brother Marban, (London: David Nutt, London, 1901), pp. 10-21.
Digital Edition at (pp. 10-21); Irish text at (pp. 455-457); English translation at

Related saga online: Comrac Líadaine ocus Cuirithir (The Meeting of Liadain and Cuirithir)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), Liadain and Curithir, (London: David Nutt, 1902), pp. 12-27 (15-30)
Digital Edition at (pp. 12-27 (15-30)); Digital edition at CDI (PDF) (pp. 12-27 (9-24)); Irish text at CELT; English translation at CELT

Related saga online: A Life of Cumaine Fota
Gearóid S. Mac Eoin (ed. & tr.), Béaloideas, 39/41, 1971-1973, pp. 192-205.
Digital Edition at JSTOR

Sanas Chormaic: Cormac’s Glossary (O’Donovan/Stokes)
Diarmait Rúanaid (See Section 1), p. 144 (161)
“Ruam [ruain B], i.e. ro-eim i.e. a herb that gives colour or tinge [?] to the face until it is red. Inde dicitur ruamnaig (‘blushing’) [?] or ruanaid (‘red’). B has unde dicitur diarmait ruanaidh.”

Leabhar Imuinn or Liber Hymnorum (James Henthorn Todd)
Cummain Fota compared to Pope Gregory the Great, p. 70
The Hymn of St. Cummain Fota, pp. 71-80
Translation of Scoliast’s Preface, pp. 81-84
The History and Date of St. Cummain Fota, pp. 84-93
Guare and Cummine the Tall and Cámmine of Inis Celtra (See Section 11), p. 87

Live of Saints from the Book of Lismore (Stokes)
Guare and Cummine the Tall and Cámmine of Inis Celtra (See Section 11), p. 304

D = The Martyrology of Donegal (O’Donovan)
G = The Martyrology of Gorman (Stokes)
O = The Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee (Stokes)
D: 26 February, Aedlugh, son of Cammán, Abbot of Cluain-mic-Nois (See Section 3), p. 57 (119)
G: 26 February, Aedlug, son of Cammán, abbot of Cluain mic Nois (See Section 3), p. 45
D: 24 March, Caimin, of Inis-cealtra (Section 5), pp. 85-87 (147-149)
G: 24 March, Cóemín, of Inis Celtra (Section 5), p. 61
D: 9 September, Ciarán, son of the carpenter, Abbot of Cluain-mic-Nois (See Section 3), pp. 241-243 (303-305)
G: 9 September, Ciaran, the carpenter’s son, Abbot of Cluain-mic-Nois (See Section 3), p. 173
O: 9 September, Ciarán of Clúain (See Section 3), p. 193 (252), pp. 203-205 (262-265)
D: 12 November, Cuimmin Foda, son of Fiachna, Bishop, of Cluainferta-Brenainn (See Section 11), p. 305-307 (367-369)
G: 12 November, Cuimmín the Tall, son of Fiachna, of the Eoganacht of Loch Léin, bishop of Cluain Ferta Brénainn (See Section 11), p. 217
O: 12 November, Cummíne the Tall, son of Fiachna, a successor of Brénainn of Cluain fearta, of the Eoganacht of Cashel was he (See Section 11), p. 234, p. 243
D: 24 January, Manchán of Liath, son of Indagh. There is a church called Liath Mancháin (See Section 3), p. 27 (89)
G: 24 January, Manchán of Liath (Mancháin), son of Indach (See Section 3), p. 23
O: 24 January, Babylas, i.e. Manchan of Liath (See Section 3), p. 37 (96), p. 53 (112)

R = The Rennes Dindshenchas (Stokes), Revue Celtique, 15-16, 1894-1895
M = The Metrical Dindshenchas (Gwynn)
B = The Bodleian Dinnshenchas (Stokes), Folklore 3, 1892
E = The Edinburgh Dinnshenchas (Stokes), Folklore, 4, 1893
S = Silva Gadelica (O’Grady), Volume 2
R: Carn Conoill §78 (See Section 4), Part 2, pp. 478-481, (‘Carn Conoill’)
M: Carn Chonaill (See Section 4), Volume 3, pp. 441-449, pp. 558-559
R: Mag n-Aidni §62 (See Section 1), Part 2, p. 460, (‘Mag n-Aidni’)
M: Mag nAidni (See Section 1), Volume 3, pp. 331-333, pp. 537-538
B: Mag nAidne §22 (See Section 1), p. 489, (‘Mag nAidne’)
R: Mide §7 (See Section 1), Part 1, pp. 297-298, (‘Mide’)
M: Mide (See Section 1), Volume 2, pp. 43-45, p.100
B: Mide §7 (See Section 1), pp. 475-476, (‘Mide’)
S: Midhe (See Section 1), p. 520 (555)
R: Tailtiu §99 (See Section 27), Part 3, pp. 50-51, (‘Tailtiu’)
M: Tailtiu (See Section 27), Volume 4, pp. 147-163, pp. 413-419
E: Mag Tailten §68 (See Section 27), pp. 486-487, (‘Mag Tailten’)
S: Tailltiu (See Section 27), p. 514 (549)

Cóir Anmann: Fitness of Names (Stokes), Irische Texte, Ser. III.2
Aed Sláine §133 (See Section 1), pp. 343-345, p. 417
Connachta §76 (See Section 1), p. 325, p. 414
Diarmait Ruanaid §134 (See Section 1), pp. 345-347, p. 417

Egerton 1782
Lebor na hUidre
Yellow Book of Lecan
Book of Leinster
Cycles of the Kings
Áedlug mac Cammáin (d. 652); Abbots of Clonmacnoise
Áed Sláine (d. 604); High Kings of Ireland; Kings of Brega
Amalgaid mac Éndai; Kings of Munster
Cuan mac Amalgado; Kings of Munster
Diarmait mac Áedo Sláine (d. 665); High Kings of Ireland; Kings of Brega
Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin (d. 663); Kings of Connacht; Kings of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne; Uí Fiachrach Aidne
Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise (d. 549); Saints of Ireland
Saint Caimín of Inis Cealtra; Saints of Ireland
Saint Cumméne Fota (d. 662); Saints of Ireland
Inish Cealtra
Uí Fidgenti
Uí Liatháin

Early Christian Sites in Ireland
Holy Island

Voices from the Dawn

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