Irish Sagas at UCC University College Cork



Esnada Tige Buchet

Background information

References in the Annals of the Four Masters

M120.1 The first year of Cathaeir Mor, son of Feidhlimidh Firurghlais, in the sovereignty of Ireland.

M122.1 Cathaeir Mor, after having been three years king over Ireland, was slain by Conn, and the Luaighni of Teamhair, in the battle of Magh hAgha.

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.

M268.1 The first year of Cairbre Liffeachair, son of Cormac, son of Art, in the sovereignty of Ireland.

M284.1 After Cairbre Liffeachair had been seventeen years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he fell in the battle of Gabhra Aichle.

The History of Ireland (Geoffrey Keating), Volume 2

pp. 259-261 [Cathaoir] Mor, son of Feidhlimidh … held the sovereignty of Ireland three years. Now Cathaoir had thirty sons. … And this Cathaoir Mor fell by Conn Ceadchathach in the Battle of Magh hAgha.

pp. 301-305 Cairbre Lithfeachair fell by the Fian at the Battle of Gabhra. Some seanchas state that Cormac’s wife was Eithne Thaobhfhada daughter of Cathaoir Mor. But this cannot be true, seeing that she was the mother of Cairbre Lithfeachair. … It is, however, true that Eithne Ollamhdha daughter of Dunlaing son of Eanna Nia was the mother of Cairbre Lithfeachair; and it is she who was the foster child of Buicead, a farmer with hundreds of kine, who lived in Leinster, who kept a hospitable pot over a fire to give food to everyone of the men of Ireland who visited his house. Now this Buicead was thus circumstanced: he had vast wealth, for he had seven herds, and seven score kine in each herd, together with a corresponding number of horses and cattle of every other description, so that the nobles of Leinster, with companies of their followers, used to frequent his house, and some of them took away from him a number of his kine, and others some of his brood-mares, others again a number of his steeds, and thus they despoiled him of all his wealth, so that there remained to him only seven cows and a bull; and he fled by night with his wife and Eithne, his foster-child, from Dun Buicead, to an oak grove near Ceanannus na Midhe, where Cormac used to reside at that time; and Buicead built a hut, in which himself and his wife and foster-child then resided. And Eithne used to serve or wait upon her foster-father and her foster-mother as a maid-servant.
Now on a certain day Cormac went out alone on horseback to travel through the lands that surrounded the town, and he saw the fair maiden, Eithne, milking these seven cows of Buicead. And this was her way of doing it: she had two vessels, and she milked the first portion of each cow’s milk into the first vessel, and the second portion into the second vessel, and she acted thus till she had milked the seven cows while Cormac kept watching her, through his great love for her. She then went into the hut in which her foster-father was, and left the milk there, and took out in her hand two other vessels and a cup to the stream which was near the town or the hut, and with the cup filled the first vessel from the water which was near the brink, and the second vessel from the water which was in the middle of the stream, and then she returned to the hut. She came out the third time, having a reaping-hook to cut rushes, and as she cut the rushes she used to put each long wisp of fresh rushes that she cut on one side, and the short rushes on the other side. Now Cormac, through his great love for her, was watching her during each of these practices; and Cormac asked for whom she was making the special selection of the water, the milk, and the rushes. ‘He, for whom I am making it,’ said she, ‘is worthy of a greater kindness from me were it in my power to do it.’ ‘What is his name?’ asked Cormac. ‘Buicead the farmer,’ she replied. ‘Is that Buicead, the Leinster biadhthach, who is celebrated throughout Ireland?’ asked Cormac. ‘It is,’ said she. ‘Then,’ said Cormac, ‘thou art Eithne daughter of Cathaoir Mor, his foster-child?’ ‘I am,’ replied Eithne. ‘It is well,’ said Cormac; ‘for thou shalt be my wife.’ ‘It is not I who can dispose of myself,’ said she, ‘but my foster-father.’ Upon this, Cormac went with her to Buicead, and promised him presents if he got Eithne as his wife. Buicead consented to give Eithne to Cormac as his wife; and Cormac gave him the district of Odhran beside Tara, with its stock of cattle, during his life. And then Cormac knew Eithne, and she conceived of him, and after that she bore him an illustrious son, who was called Cairbre Lithfeachair.

p. 345 For the men of Ireland considered it neither becoming nor auspicious that a king with a blemish should abide in Tara; and for this reason Cormac gave over the sovereignty to his son Cairbre Lithfeachair.

p. 355 He was called Cairbre Lithfeachair because it was near the Lithfe in Leinster that he was brought up.

Related poem online: The Songs of Buchet’s House
Mary Hayden (ed. & tr.), The Songs of Buchet’s House, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 8, 1912, pp. 261-273.
Digital Edition at; Irish text at CELT (Appendix 3)

Related text online: Tiomna Chathaeir Mhóir (the Testament of Cathaeir Mor)
John O’Donovan (ed. &. tr.), Leabhar na gCeart, or the Book of Rights, (Dublin: Printed for the Celtic Society, 1847), pp. 192-205.
Digital Edition at (pp. 192-205)

Myles Dillon (ed. &. tr.) Lebor na Cert: The Book of Rights, (Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1962)
English translation at

Related saga online: Fotha Catha Cnucha (The Cause of the Battle of Cnucha)
W. M. Hennessy (ed. &. tr.), The Battle of Cnucha, Revue Celtique, 2, 1873, pp. 86-93.
Digital Edition at (pp. 86-93); Irish text at CELT; English translation at

Related saga online: Tairired na nDessi (The Expulsion of the Dessi)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), The Expulsion of the Dessi, Y Cymmrodor, 14, 1901, pp. 101-135.
Digital edition at (pp. 101-135); English translation at;

Kuno Meyer (ed.), “Tucait indarba na nDéssi”, Anecdota from Irish manuscripts, Vol. 1, (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1907), pp. 15–24.
Digital Edition at (pp. 15-24 (27-36); Digital Edition at CDI (PDF) (pp. 15-24)

Kuno Meyer (ed.), “The expulsion of the Déssi”, Ériu, 3, 1907, pp. 135–142.
Digital Edition at (pp. 135-142 (155-164))

Related saga online: Cath Gabhra (the Battle of Gabhra)
Nicholas O’Kearney (ed. & tr.), The Battle of Gabhra, Transactions of the Ossianic Society, 1, 1853, pp. 134-153.
Digital Edition at (pp. 134-153); English translation at

Lectures of the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (O’Curry)
List of Historic Tales in the Book of Leinster includes:
Feis Duin Buchet (The Feast of Dun Buchet), p. 588 (624)

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: Laigin §9 (See Section 1), Part 1, pp. 299-301, (‘Laigin’)
M: Lagin I (See Section 1), Volume 2, p. 51, p. 102
M: Lagin II (See Section 1), Volume 2, p. 53, p. 102
B: Laigin §3 (See Section 1), pp. 471-473, (‘Laigin’)
S: Laigin (See Section 1), p. 500 (535)
R: Mag Lifi §12 (See Section 9), Part 1, pp. 303-305, (‘Mag Lifi’)
M: Mag Life, (See Section 9), Volume 2, p. 61, p.104
B: Mag Liphi §4 (See Section 9), pp. 473-474, (‘Mag Liphi’)
S: Mágh Liffe (See Section 9), p. 530 (565)
R: Temair §1 (See Section 16), Part 1, pp. 277-289, (‘Temair’)
M: Temair 1 (See Section 16), Volume 1, pp. 3-5, pp. 57-58 (78-79)
M: Temair 2 (See Section 16), Volume 1, pp. 7-13, pp. 59-61 (80-82)
M: Temair 3 (See Section 16), Volume 1, pp. 15-27, pp. 62-66 (83-87)
M: Temair 4 (See Section 16), Volume 1, pp. 29-37, pp. 67-74 (88-95)
M: Temair 5 (See Section 16), Volume 1, pp. 39-45, pp. 75-79 (96-100)
B: Temuir §1 (See Section 16), p. 470, (‘Temuir’)
S: Temhuir (See Section 16), p. 514 (549)

Cóir Anmann: Fitness of Names (Stokes), Irische Texte, Ser. III.2
Cairbre Lifechair §114 (See Section 9), p. 337, p. 415
Laigin §174 (See Section 1), pp. 363-365, p. 419

Book of Leinster
Cycles of the Kings
The Expulsion of the Déisi
Cath Gabhra
Cairbre Lifechair; High Kings of Ireland
Cathair Mór; High Kings of Ireland
Cormac mac Airt; High Kings of Ireland
Medb Lethderg

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