CELT document T201012

Life of Mac Creiche

Unknown author

English Translation

Edited by Charles Plummer


Life of Mac Creiche



Incipiunt pauca de mirabilibus Mheic Creche; to wit, Mac Creiche, son of Pesslan, son of Erce; of Corcumruad Ninois was his race. Nine score years was the length of his age from the day of his birth to the day of his death. This was the beginning of his grace, that he went into the hermitage which is between Formael (a place name), and the Eidnech (a river). Clúain hÍ was the name of the place in which he was pursuing his devotions.


This was the size of the structure, viz. four stones; to wit, a stone at the back, a stone at either side, and a stone in front. There Mac Creiche began to keep Lent, for the fear and dread of hell. And he took no food with him into the hermitage, except one single loaf and four sprigs of cress; and of them he ate nothing except on Sunday only. And when Lent was over, he took no food on Easter Sunday, except bread and thin drink. There his relatives found him afterwards in the hermitage; and he was taken home, and ward was kept on him for some time afterwards.



Another time he went into the same hermitage, and remained there for another space of forty nights without any food or drink beyond this, that a doe used to come to him and of her own accord drop her milk into a stone bowl or hollow which was at the door-post of the hermitage in which he was; as is shown by the following verse from the poem on Mac Creiche:

  1. The doe would come
    To the stone chamber;
    She would drop into the bowl
    Her milk for Mac Creiche.
  2. A bowl of stone he had
    In the hermitage assuredly;
    In it for the modest cheerful clerk
    The doe would drop her milk.
 p.54 And after this the doe would proceed to the woods, and would come again.



One day, as the clerk was reciting his psalms in the hermitage, he saw a youth looking at the holy man. He started, but did not speak. The clerk asked who he was. “My name is Becedán,” said he. “I am looking at my land; and I bind my covenant on thee.” “Do not cleave to me however,” said the clerk, “but take my blessing, and do not make me known to anyone else.” And he recited gospels and prayers.


The young man turned away, and as he was there, he saw a robber-band coming towards him, seven and twenty in number. And he asked them whence they came. “We are come,” said they, “from Glenn Geimin, and we are called the Glasanaig.” The youth named Becedán fell into their hands, and they were hacking and hewing him for a long time. And after that they had all hacked at him, they fancied that they had cut off his head. But God and the prayer of the holy clerk delivered him; and it was (really) a wisp of sedge instead of the head of the youth that they held. And he escaped from them safe and sound.


The robbers asked: “Who saved thee, O youth?”, “A servant of God saved me,” said he, “who put gospels round me a while ago, before I met with you.” “Where is that holy clerk?” said the robbers. “What would ye of him?” said Becedán. “We would submit to him,” said they “and learn the will of God at his hands, henceforth and for ever, because of the wonderful deliverance which he hath wrought on thee.”


They make peace together, to wit, the robbers and Becedán. “Well has it turned out for you,” said the youth. “Ye shall receive the peace of God for ever owing to this affair.” The youth went to the chamber where the chaste angelic clerk was chanting his psalms. The youth and the robbers saluted him, and all knelt to him. “Thine own will to thee, O clerk,” said they. “I accept it of you,” said Mac Creiche. They all lay aside their arms, and offer themselves, body and soul, to God and to Mac Creiche. Becedán then offers his land and estate to Mac Creiche, that is Cell Meic Creiche of the woods; and it is on the estate of this youth was founded the church still called Cell Senbotha.




As to the Glasanaig, spades and bill-hooks were made for them out of their own arms, and iron girdles were put around them, in token of their bondage and devotion; and the robbers and Becedán made a great clearing in the midst of the woods; and Cell Senbotha is the name of the place till doom. And the robbers, that is the Glasanaig, and Becedán were the first monks that were buried under the soil of the church; as it is said in the poem on Mac Creiche:


  1. They thought that they had killed
    The boasting lively man;
    His head- fame without suffering
    Was a rushy sod of sedge
  2. They bend to Mac Creiche
    The robbers secretly,
    On every path without respite
    From the iron girdles.



Then Mac Creiche and Mainchin went west to Inis Locha Ratha Maigi, because Mainchin was his (spiritual) son, and it was he who had baptized him, and had taught him, and was his confessor. They went then westwards to Inis Fide; and Mac Creiche bade Mainchin to place a fetter on his feet; and Mainchin put a fetter on him, as he told him. “Give me the key now,” said Mac Creiche. Mainchin gave him the key; and Mac Creiche hurled it into the mouth of the sea, and vowed that he would never leave the island, till the same key should come to loose the fetter that was on him.



Then came Ailbe from Imlech Iubair on his way to Aran; and he came to Fidinis, where Mac Creiche was. (And this was not his first name, but Mac croide Ailbe, i.e. son of Ailbe's heart; and the name Mac Creiche was given him, when he obtained the restitution of the northern prey [crech] from Aed son of Eochaid). So then Ailbe begged Mac Creiche to go with him to Aran. And Mac Creiche told him how he had a fetter on him, and whither he had thrown the key.


They remained that night with Mac Creiche; and God sent them each their portion. The following night Ailbe  p.56 went to fetch water from a spring in a cliff on the north side of the island. He saw a salmon in the spring, and brought it home with him, and cut it up, and dressed it. And the key was found inside the salmon. Mac Creiche knelt to Ailbe for working this miracle for him. And Ailbe released Mac Creiche; and Mac Creiche went with him to Aran.



Fidinis was then bestowed on Mainchin by Mac Creiche, because he was his true foster-son, and he was a son of grace; and he had gone with him to Rome on the occasion when they brought the Finnfaidech (i.e. the Melodious, name of a bell) with them from the high altar of Rome. And Mainchin did not wish to remain behind them in the place, provided it did not vex Mac Creiche.



Then the clerks went westward to Cluain Dirair, to the town of Baethbronach (i.e. the foolishly sorrowful), who was king of Corcumruad at that time, a man who had never smiled or laughed at any time. “Are you content that I should come with you?” said Mainchin. “I am content,” said Mac Creiche. “Would it be unbecoming for us to make a request?” said Mainchin. “What is the request?” said Mac Creiche. “Why this,” said he, “for a ridge of corn for your provision.” “I am willing,” said Mac Creiche. Mac Creiche sat down on the edge of the lawn; and Mainchin went into Baethbronach's fort, to ask him for a ridge of corn as provision for Mac Creiche and Ailbe on their return from Aran. “Thou shalt have a ridge of me,” said Baethbronach.


Baethbronach's reapers were at that time reaping a field of corn in front of the fort. Mainchin begins to reap his ridge, while Mac Creiche sat at the end of the ridge. A great storm of wind and wet came upon them, and all Baethbronach's wheat was carried into the sea owing to the force of the tempest. All the reapers retired to the fort except the clerks. Mainchin continued to reap his ridge, while the clerks sat and watched him; and not a spot of their raiment or of their persons was wetted, but the fairest and most brilliant sunshine poured down upon them; as appears from the following stave from the poem on Mac Creiche :  p.57

  1. There was a shower without shame
    On Baethbronach's reapers;
    It carried half his corn
    Into the seal-haunted sea.
  2. There was sun unsullied in contests given,
    It is not concealed,
    Brilliant and wondrous
    On the corn of Mac Creiche.


Then Baethbronach offered himself and his children and his fort and his land to Mac Creiche and to Ailbe, and promised) that none of his children or descendants should be carried to any other church for burial) for ever; as the stave runs:

  1. Baethbronach offered
    An offering not concealed,
    Cluain Dirair, a strong foundation,
    To Mac Creiche for ever.
And the church now stands on the site of the fort, and the cemetery is on the spot where the clerks sat, and the ridge is the place on which the great cross stands between the church and the sea and Ailbe's Strand.


Then Mac Creiche granted Sliab Gainim, from Fothribe Senain on the west to Fertas Muine Muirbigi on the east, between the church and the sea, that the sea should never come over the land till doom; and that no one who should dwell therein should have fear or dread of the sea for ever. It was from this place that Ailbe went to the Land of Promise, to meet the seven of his (monastic) household whom he had sent westwards into the ocean. And Mac Creiche and Ailbe were sitting from one day to another at Ailbe's Seat waiting for the wave; and the wave never passed the place where they were, nor will it pass it till doom. Then Ailbe left (as a bequest) that the church in that fort should never be overwhelmed by the sea till doom.


Then Ailbe left promises and bequests to the successor of Mac Creiche: that no successor of Mac Creiche should die a violent death, while Ailbe is in heaven. “Alas then,” said Mac Creiche to Ailbe, “it is sad that we should part on earth. As I spent my youth in thy company, so would I spend my old  p.58 age.” “Thou shalt have a reward for thy company,” said Ailbe, “and as we are united on earth, so shall we be united in heaven. Let thy request reach me before we part; what dost thou wish?” “I wish”, said Mac Creiche, “that as I am old and aged myself, long life may be granted to all my successors after me who do according to my will.” “I will entreat my Lord,” said Ailbe, “and if I obtain it, it shall be to thee.” Then Ailbe entreated his Lord, and obtained his request. And Ailbe said to Mac Creiche: “I have obtained the request from my Lord; and thou shalt have it from me.” Then Mac Creiche entreated Ailbe that he would grant long life to his successors; then Ailbe bequeathed to Mac Creiche's successors heaven and long life.


Then Ailbe left as a further bequest that every true prayer which anyone offers in that place on Ailbe's Strand, provided it be offered at Ailbe's monument, or at that of Mac Creiche, shall be granted him. From thence also will go seven of the (monastic) family of Ailbe and Mac Creiche to the Land of Promise. Thence too will Ailbe go with his monks to the Land of Promise on the Day of Doom. Great then is the splendour and the wonder-working power of the seat on that strand. Then Ailbe blessed the new cell and temple of that spot; for he was high-bishop of Munster at that time, and Mac Creiche likewise was a bishop.



Then they bade each other fare-well, Ailbe and Mac Creiche; and Ailbe proceeded to Aran on his pilgrimage; and Mac Creiche remained, serving his cell, for it was a new foundation to him. Then came messengers from the Ciarraige to seek Mac Creiche, that he might go with them to ward off the plague from them, for his mother was of their race. And the plague was the Crom Chonnaill, which was attacking them. Mac Creiche set forth out of affection (for them); and all the Ciarraige were assembled on Magh Ulad to meet him. They all rose up before him, and gave him a right fair welcome. Mac Creiche was taken from his chariot, and he recited the gospels with prayer on their behalf, and preached the word of God to them; and they all fasted that night, Mac Creiche and the Ciarraige; and the next morning Mass was celebrated for them.


Then came three sons of Cuilcenn, that is three sons of  p.59 the brother of Mac Creiche's mother, who lived to the east at Rath Muine. As they were coming from the east the Crom Chonnaill overtook them, and the three brothers were slain by it. Mac Creiche raised the Finnfaidech aloft on seeing his kinsmen dead. Nor had they long to wait before they saw a flash of lightning coming from heaven towards them, which fell on the Crom Chonnaill, and reduced it to dust and ashes before the eyes of the multitude. At this wondrous work (fert) they all bent to Mac Creiche; and from this is named Fert of the Children of Cuilcenn and of the Crom Chonnaill on Magh Ulad.



Then there came three sons of Crimthann, son of Cobthach, from the south on a plundering expedition to Rinn Ruis in Altraige Cind Bera; and carried off a prey of men and cattle, including three sons of Mellan son of Maeldoid, son of Scellan of the Altraige Cind Bera. Envoys were sent from the Ciarraige after the prey, and they took with them the gospels of Mac Creiche and the Finnfaidech in the hopes of a better decision. But no favourable decision was obtained from the king on their southward journey. The messengers returned north with no good answer. “What profit have you brought with you?” said Mac Creiche. “None,” said they, “except our cattle being divided before our very eyes, and our men in fetters.” “Have you brought a definite answer with you?” said Mac Creiche. “We have,” said they. “If you wish for the release of the men who were carried south, this is the final answer we have brought. (You must pay as tribute) a cow for every shield-strap (i.e. for every warrior) in Ciarraige, and an ounce (of silver) for every woman, and to give a hostage to attend in perpetuity.”


Then the Ciarraige went into council, and what they resolved was to send their blessing to their dutiful son, to Mac Creiche, for he was their dutiful son. And moreover he was travelling there at the time; for when the plundering party came he met them in Tir da Magh Nemed. “I will go on your blessing there,” said Mac Creiche, “whatever God may will to come of it.” Mac Creiche went after the prey to Aiced Aiscinn and to Lis Airthir; and found all the Eoganacht assembled there, including Crimthann, son of Cobthach, and his sons.


Mac Creiche went in his little car to the middle of the assembly, and greeted the young men, and discussed with them the cause of his coming. “What is the cause?” said they. “I am come,” said he “after the capture and the prey; and to complain to you of my outrage (lit. reddening) and shame; and I am feeble and fey; and it will be better for you to receive my blessing, than to keep in your possession the matter which I ask for.” And this was true of him, for nine score years was his age when he went to heaven; and a strip of poor leather used to support his lower jaw against the other, when he recited his hours, or when he conversed with anyone. He had however completed seven score years, when he came to negotiate with Crimthann, son of Cobthach, King of the Eoghanacht of Loch Lein.


And Mac Creiche said: “If it were thy pleasure, Crimthann, it were time that thou shouldst give an answer to us in the matter for which we have come.” “Great is my (cause of) indignation against thee, O clerk,” said Crimthann, “for asking of me the vagabonds who were trespassing on my land.” “No great cause,” said the clerk, “because it is for God's sake that the request is made.” Then said Aed Damain: “The young men will think it a great matter to give thee (even) a single man of the captives.” I will release to thee whichever of them thou preferrest. “Who said that?” asked Mac Creiche. “Aed Damain,” replied Mainchin. Mac Creiche said: “This is what he shall have of God, viz. that which he adjudged to me, a single man.” Aed Damain was wroth thereat, and held his peace.


Then said Aed Furarain: “It were not too much to (give to) the clerk half the capture, since he asks it in God's name.” “Who said that?” asked Mac Creiche. “Aed Furarain,” said his foster-son. “He shall have then,” said Mac Creiche, “from me and from God half the honour and dignity of this land and people, though it cause divisions among them.” Now Aed Bennain was Crimthann's favourite of all his sons, and therefore he was uneasy in his mind about him. Aed Bennain stood up and said: “If it be the clerk's will, O young men,” said he, “give him the whole of your capture.” “Who said that?” asked Mac Creiche. “Aed Bennain,” said Mainchin. “That son has been long in coming,” said Mac Creiche. “He shall have from  p.61 me and from God the full honour and dignity of this land and people for himself, and for his son and grandson in perpetuity.”


Then Crimthann and his sons consulted together, without summoning any of their counsellors. “What shall be done, O young men,” said Crimthann, “to this reverend senior who has come to you? And surely there never came, nor ever will come, a man of his age to make request of anyone. He is worthy of any man whom he may meet merely on the ground of his age.” “Hold council,” said Crimthann, “and summon to you all the assembly,” said he. The whole assembly was summoned to them.


“If my advice were acted on,” said Aed Bennain, “at a time when there is neither beginning of sovereignty nor end of pride, ye would not await the curse of yonder reverend senior for the sake of the capture ye have made; for he lives, and pays debts (i.e. requites injuries), and bequeaths blessing. And there is no sea between us and the place from which this prey was taken; and had we known, we would not have approached the place in which he was, for any place in which he might be was a reverend sanctuary; and moreover his fame had come from the land in which he was, before he came to us. We will however pronounce judgement on ourselves,” said Aed Bennain, “and if he be of the household of God, it is a burning shame that we have inflicted on the clerk; for we knew that he was there before us in the land which we invaded, and, were it only on the ground of humanity, (consider that) there are three kinsmen of his mother with you here in captivity, deprived of every earthly good. And take good counsel now,” said Aed Bennain.


“We would do so,” said Crimthann, “were it not for the grief of Aed Damain,” “I am sorry,” said Aed Damain. “Grant ye the will of God, and my will,” said Mac Creiche, “and it will be well with him again.” “The one heir of thy promise seems little to him,” said Crimthann. “Is it this which causes the grudge against us in the matter?” said Mac Creiche. “It is,” answered Crimthann. “He shall have fullness,” said Mac Creiche; “many a thousand shall serve the one heir, and he shall be the envy of all men.” Then was the whole capture delivered to Mac Creiche, both men and cattle with full restitution, and with his own will to him in perpetuity till doom.


Then Crimthann and his sons named the price to be paid to the clerk, i.e. to Mac Creiche, for the outrage done to him, and for his blessing, viz. every thing that he himself should impose upon them. “I will decree then,” said Mac Creiche, “fifty grey tunics; and fifty fat hogs, and fifty heifers for refection; and clothing for the seniors whenever it be sent for by thine heir to my heir.” “That shall be to thee, and whatever more beyond this be asked, thou shalt receive of us, even thy whole will till doom,” said Crimthann and his sons. “Thou then with thy sons,” said Mac Creiche “shalt have my three blessings; to wit, blessing of sovereignty without denial; blessing of dignity (?) without extinction: blessing of wisdom with honour. These three blessings shall be thine, on condition of obedience to my heir after me.”


Aed Bennain, son of Crimthann, surrendered the spoil. Maelduin, son of Aed Bennain, surrendered this spoil. Forchellach, son of Aed Foirinn, also surrendered this spoil. Cuimine, son of Aed Bennain, surrendered this spoil. Congal, son of Maelduin, son of Aed Bennain, also surrendered this spoil. Cairbre, son of Cudinisc, son of Forchellach, son of Aed Foirinn, surrendered this spoil. Aed, son of Conang, son of Cuimine, surrendered this spoil. Aed Alláin, son of Cairbre, of the seed of Aed Foirinn, also surrendered this spoil. Maelanfaid, son of Cuimine, surrendered this spoil. Cufhoingelt, soil of Cairbre, of the seed of Aed Foirinn, surrendered this spoil. Maelduin, son of Aed, son of Conang, also surrendered the like contribution. These were twelve chiefs of the Eoganacht of Loch Lein.



Then came Mac Creiche from the south, bringing with him the three brothers of his mother, and all the wealth which had been carried off to the south. And he worked a wondrous miracle as he came from the south, when his mother's brethren were faint and thirsty after their imprisonment, and great thirst seized them as they journeyed westward from Raith Maige. Mac Creiche marked the ground, and water came up out of it, and they all quenched their thirst thereat. And they made a stone enclosure round the fount; and the fount still remains on Magh Ulad, and it heals every sickness and every hurt to which the water of it is applied.


Now the Ciarraige were assembled together on Magh Ulad to meet him, and gave him their blessing because of the wonder which he had wrought for them, viz. repelling the Crom Chonnaill from them as he went south; and (recovering) their spoil, and releasing their prisoners from the captivity in which they were, and restoring them to them in their entirety. Then the Ciarraige all gave their blessing to him with one accord, for he was a noble pious son to them, and did them much good in every matter for which they entreated him. He on his part gave them his blessing, and he gave them a share in the tribute of his church, viz. a hundredth part from him to themselves, as long as they paid it willingly (lit. of themselves). He then arose to go to his mother's kinsmen to be cared for by them.


Then the Ciarraige went into council apart from the clerk, to consider what they should do to him. This is what the Ciarraige agreed to offer to their kinsman, i.e. to Mac Creiche, for he acted the part of a good foster-child to them, and was beloved of them since he had granted the joint tribute of his church and his blessing to his mother's kin, together with profits to themselves (the Ciarraige). Finally there was granted to Mac Creiche unanimously three score productive cows every third year, or, if they preferred, a scruple from every two men of them every third year. Mac Creiche bequeathed these legacies to the Ciarraige, strength in their men and pre-eminence in battle and valour to belong to them, and pre-eminence in riches and in milk in their land.



Mac Creiche bade them farewell, and left his special lasting blessing with his mother's household; and then set out thence for Imlech Iubair to Ailbe, for he was the son of Ailbe's heart. And he had not long been there when he saw (standing) before him messengers from Tuath Mumu (Thomond) and Corcumruad, (to ask him) to go to Carn Meic Tail to confer with them; and also greeting was brought to Ailbe that he might entreat Mac Creiche to go to them. “I am loath to do this,” said Mac Creiche, “but, though loath, I will go.” He was feeble, and fey, and decrepit at that time, merely from old age. However Mac Creiche and Mainchin set out from Imlech Iubair p.64 and came to Inis Tóma Finnlocha to Luchtigern, and he remains there from Saturday till Tuesday.


Mac Creiche related to Luchtigern the errand on which he had set out; and bade him come on the same business, viz. to ask for a respite; and said that it was no less incumbent on Luchtigern than on himself, to work for the good of Tuath Mumu. “That is true,” said Luchtigern, “and I will come with thee.” “With what number wilt thou come?” said Mac Creiche. “There shall not come with me save a single man,” replied Luchtigern “Why so?” said Mac Creiche. “Only (this),” said Luchtigern, “if thou hadst brought a great company with thee, I would take another great company with me; and as thou hast brought (only) a single man with thee, I will take one other man with me.” The four of them proceeded till they came to Carn Meic Tail, where Tuath Mumu and Corcumruad met them; and they all gave their blessing to the clerks for coming to entreat for them a respite in the matter of the boroma from Aed, son of Eochaid, the King of Connaught.


“Shall we go in front?” said Luchtigern. “Not so,” said Mac Creiche, “till all the stock be ready to come to us.” Then (when this was done) he bade them go northwards with all the boroma. “If ye will believe my words,” said Mac Creiche, “it is difficult for me to proceed, for I am feeble and decrepit, though I may be wiser in proportion.” “Thy blessing will give aid to the young men,” said they all. “That is true,” said Mac Creiche, “and I will go, whatever God may give me for it. Is the little car still here, O Mainchin?” said Mac Creiche. “It is indeed,” said Mainchin. “Let me be carried hence,” said Mac Creiche, “and be placed in my little car. And further, let all the stock be brought,” said he, “cattle, clothing, and men, that it may all be mustered. Well then, O men of Corcumruad, is there in Ireland a single man of eight score years and seven, on whom such a journey is imposed besides myself?”


Then was the chariot driven in front of the cattle. “Arrange then, O men of Corcumroe,” said Mac Creiche, “your kine with their cloths over them, and let them go behind me; and carry the gospels round them; and we shall all arrive together at the same place without your losing anything, and the tribute to be restored to us.” The chariot set out in front  p.65 of the cattle from there to Magh Ai; and not a single cow strayed from the road to one side or the other, but all followed behind the chariot, and not a cloth was displaced from the position in which it had been arranged at first. While the clerks were saying their hours, the cattle would remain motionless; when they (the clerks) moved on, the cattle would move also; whereever the clerks halted for the night, Mainchin would come with Mac Creiche's Finnfaidech, the bell, on his back, and the pastoral staff of Luchtigern in his hand, (and go) round about the cattle. The cattle would lie down of their own accord, and would graze till the hour of tierce on the morrow, while the clerks were celebrating Mass. When Mac Creiche set out on the road in his chariot, all the cattle would get up in their order of march behind the chariot.


This was the order they kept till they reached Magh Ai northwards; and many were the miracles which they wrought till they reached the border of Magh Ai. There they found the druids of Aed, son of Eochaid, assembled to test the ignorance of the clerks; and the druids caused snow to descend on the clerks, so that they could not proceed. “Take that away,” said the clerks. “We will not,” said the druids. The clerks sained it, and a pleasant sun shone on them. The clerks continued their journey that day till nightfall. Then the druids brought a mist over the land from one hour to the same hour on the next day, so that none of them could proceed in it. The clerks took the mist away again. Then said the clerks to the druids: “Why did ye not take away yon snow and the mist, even as ye brought them?” “We will not remove them,” said they. “Ill fare for you your druidism henceforth till doom,” said Mac Creiche.


Then they left the spoil on Magh Ai, and went themselves to address the king. They were not admitted into the fort, and they received no good answer from within. The clerks returned to their company, and slept that night on the plain without drink or food. A great thirst seized Mac Creiche. “If it be God's good pleasure,” said he, “though abundant be the king's drink, may his thirst not be less than mine before the day shall come.” They were drinking and making merry in the king's house till bed-time; and then they went to their  p.66 beds. The king waked from his sleep, and great thirst and drouth seized him; nor could there be found in Raith Cruachan enough to stanch his thirst. Thereupon day broke. The king's horses were brought, and he went to submit to the clerks. He blessed them. “Blessed art thou,” said Mac Creiche, “provided that thou grantest to us every matter that we shall ask.” “Give me a drink, O clerks,” said he. Mac Creiche marked the ground, and a stream of water broke forth; and it is called to this day Mac Creiche's fount on Magh Cruachan. The cup of Aed son of Eochaid was filled therefrom, and it quenched his thirst.


Aed bowed to him then, and said: “I give to thee,” said he, “whatever thou askest on this occasion.” “I accept it,” said Mac Creiche, “provided that the same tribute be never again demanded till doom.” “It shall not be demanded till doom,” said the king. They were then conducted into the fort. Now the king had an only son, who had never spoken from the day of his birth; and as soon as he saw Mac Creiche, he stood up and gave him a right fair greeting. Mac Creiche blessed him, and carried the gospels round him; and (thereafter) there was not a man in Ireland more eloquent than he; and his name was Uada Balb (i.e. the mute). Everyone rejoiced that the king's son had acquired the faculty of speech. Then Aed son of Eochaid offered from himself and from his son, and from everyone who should succeed to the kingdom of Connaught till doom seven cumals and a scruple from every one of Sil Muiredaig and Clann Taidg. Mac Creiche on his side bequeathed to them honour, valour, hospitality, and high spirit in their kings, milk in their kine, and corn in their soil. And if at any time this tribute should not be paid to Mac Creiche, he bequeathed to them that their land should be derelict, and themselves exiles.



He bade them farewell, and took the cup of Aed son of Eochaid with him to the south, and left a blessing with them. And in the following verses is proof of the story and of the actions.This tribute is the tribute of Sil Muiredaig and Clan Taidg.

  1. After this came to them
    Aed Foirinn honourably, p.67
    (It was a good journey that he went)
    To hold long converse with the clerks.
  2. Then spake Mac Creiche
    A word to the son of Eochaid:
    'Let us have from thee ('tis famous)
    A respite without evasion.'
  3. 'Give me a drink, O clerks,'
    Said the gifted king;
    The full of the white twisted cup
    Is a boon in Cruachan.
  4. Mac Creiche marked out
    The ground to the border;
    There burst forth a beauteous stream
    From which the cup was filled.
  5. The fountain of Mac Creiche,
    This is its name continually,
    On Magh Cruachan it is celebrated,
    It remains till the day of doom.
  6.  42
  7. The king of Cruachan proclaimed
    His drink, a word which was not concealed;
    He rose with a prince's might,
    He bowed to Mac Creiche.
  8. 'If thou be at my will,'
    Said pious Mac Creiche,
    'Grant diligently and fairly
    Every request which thou mayest know.'
  9. 'It shall be to thee without shame,'
    Said the good noble king;
    'Take with thee to thy pious church
    The famous boroma'.
  10. 'It shall be taken,' said Mac Creiche.
    'If it be with prophetic words,
    Provided there be remitted to me
    Thy tribute till doomsday.'
  11.  p.68
  12. 'I will offer to thee
    From my children (a victorious fame)
    Every king who succeeds,
    Seven cumals from them.'
  13. 'I will give to thy children
    Unless they oppose me,
    Honour and valour
    As long as this line remains.'
  14. Mac Creiche set out
    Without love of gold or silver;
    He accepted from the good king
    Two horses for his chariot.
  15. Then was remission granted
    To the saint of the fertile kine;
    And he took the raiment
    And the cup of Aed son of Eochaid.
  16. There was remitted to Mac Creiche
    At the time when he took the cup,
    Thence to the living doom
    The tribute of Corcumruad.
  17. 'If thy children oppose
    My blameless community,
    Their land will be deserted
    And they exiles with sorry plight.'
  18. If they render as due honour (?)
    My dues without forgetting,
    They shall have their oar-plied kingship,
    As long as I am in heavenly heaven.'
  19.  43
  20. Then said the wise Aed
    To the lean noble drowsy one:
    'Thy will without noisy deed
    I will render till victorious doom.'
  21. Thereafter proceeded
    The famous happy jewel,
    Mac Creiche, our constant renown,
    To his mother's kin in Magh Ulad.
  22.  p.68
  23. It was there he wrought
    The miracle before that people,
    He slew the Crom Chonnaill
    Which was devouring that host.
  24. He distributed a victorious word
    To his nobles (a happy honour):
    'It will remain (a sure miracle)
    Your force to the world's end.'
  25. He gave to them thereafter
    (Famous the jewel which is pledged),
    Victory of contest against valour,
    Riches and prowess.

The tribute of Ciarraige to Mac Creiche.

  1. They offered as their offering
    Which is caused by a wise title,
    Three score excellent kine
    To be paid by them every year.
  2. Or, if they preferred it
    (For there is choice of alms),
    A scruple (without violation of command)
    To him from every two (of them).
  3.  44
  4. There had been captured by Aed Bennain
    And by Aed Furain
    Three kinsmen of his mother
    In chains after a raid.
  5. He set out without delay,
    Mac Creiche with fair success,
    To release without injury
    His kinsmen from their chain.
  6. The clerk found welcome
    From Aed Bennain of the troops,
    Concerning the three kinsmen of his mother
    Whom they kept in durance.
  7.  p.70
  8. Aed Bennain released to him
    Half of the three ...
    He turned ... of the land;
    Aed Foirinn caused the delay of it.
  9. On eminent Aed Bennain
    He pronounced a melodious blessing;
    He promised (him) without diminution
    The kingship (away) from Aed Foirinn.
  10. Then Mac Creiche conferred
    The kingdom, a fair boon,
    On the seed of Aed Bennain;
    It was a noble happy answer.
  11. The valiant king pursued
    The rapid course with swiftness,
    Aed Foirinn in the presence of the warriors
    To submit to the clerk.
  12. Mac Creiche released
    The three, a modest steadfast man,
    The iron fetters from their feet.
  13. He bowed to Mac Creiche,
    The valiant keen-sighted king;
    On Aed Furinn was lavished
    Riches and prowess.
  14. Then entreated Aed Foirinn
    In order that sighing might not befall him,
    That his race might hold
    The kingship, though with contention.
  15. They were zealous for his offering,
    The two of the proud festival;
    Three fifties, a wise proceeding,
    Every lasting year.

This is the tribute of the Eoganacht of Loch Lein.

  1. Fifty grey tunics,
    Fifty white and dun shirts, p.71
    Fifty summer heifers,
    Thus may he claim it.
  2. These thrice fifty treasures
    Came without delay
    To the venerable loyal clerk,
    So that he was content.
  3.  45
  4. He wrought a wondrous miracle
    At Ard Braisg in Certhain,
    After the baptism with strong success
    Of Loichine, son of Nechtan.
  5. Mac Creiche forgot
    His little blameless cup,
    (Leaving it) where it had been before him
    While he performed the baptism.
  6. There he remembered
    The white shining cup,
    Which was not there, though wanted,
    When he came to Cluain Dirair.
  7. When it went ...
    The cup ...
    Sunrise had reached
    The mead of Leim Conchulainn.
  8. When he reached Cluain Dirair
    The high dignitary who was not mad,
    There was a numbering afterwards
    Of all that was in the midst.
  9. Mac Creiche performed
    Many miracles, a fair assembly,
    It is fit that he shall do them
    While the world endures.
  10. He was abstinent and believing (?),
    Religious, very modest;
    He was liberal (?), he was shining,
    Was sparkling and angelic.
  11.  p.72
  12. Illustrious is the city,
    Cluain Dirair, it is fertile,
    It is law-abiding, is populous,
    Is treasurous, is wealthy.
  13. Fortunate fort with towers,
    More privileged than any man;
    It is there that the place is,
    In the centre of Ard Ruide.
  14. Conall took ...
    Mac Creiche whom we revere
    To heaven and earth.
  15. The solution of the King above us,
    Lofty is His worship,
    For ever shall it be remembered.
    May the name of God come on my lips.
  16. May the name of God come on my lips.
    It is right that it be not concealed.
    That I may make, though sinful,
    A poem for Mac Creiche.
  17. Acta Meic Creiche agia
    Adiuuent nos egregia;
    Simus post exilia
    In eterna memoria.
  18.  46
  19. It is right that He love me,
    My tribute and my tax;
    My own King choosing me
    And taking me from your hand.
  20. I am the victorious Mac Creiche,
    That is what men call me;
    After my going from the renowned world,
    My relic shall not be assailed.
  21. If they uphold the victorious tribute,
    All those of whom it is due, p.72
    I will uphold them renownedly
    Throughout the lasting world.
  22. (But) I will be a mangling dragon,
    If I hear the contest;
    I will be opposed to them,
    If they destroy my increase.
  23. If they spoil my tributes,
    The Fermacaig of the tribes,
    I will attack their abode
    And will cut short their time.
  24. It is to us it belongs to honour them,
    If they are submissive towards me;
    If they are strong against me,
    Their lot will not be strong.
  25. I am the reverend Mac Creiche
    That is my name rightly;
    I recite to my King without hypocrisy,
    Fifty psalms each none.
  26. I am Ailbe's bosom child,
    He mentions me every none,
    It is a pleasure to him to tell of me
    In his just book.
  27. He was my father,
    The war-dog of Slíab Crot;
    He was son of my grandfather,
    The king who had many a harbour.
  28.  47
  29. Broindgel and Brig
    And Mainesc of the foam,
    Three daughters of a king,
    And Fiachra of lasting strength.
  30. Three great sons of a king,
    Roth, and glorious Eogan,
    And mighty Aengus,
    Whom wave and strand glorified.
  31.  p.74
  32. The children of the three women,
    Whom in due time I glorified,
    I myself am son of Brig
    And Ailbe the protection of our host.
  33. The son of fair Mainesc
    Is Cainnech, to whom a company is due;
    The mother of noble Brendan
    Is Broingel of the pleasant calm.
  34.  48
  35. Brendan gave to me
    Tribute from the Ciarraige,
    The first calf of every cow,
    A great piglet (?) from (each) sow.
  36. The Fermacaig (shall be) at my will
    From now till doom shall come;
    I subdued the monster,
    To them the matter was easy.
  37. A youngling from each herd
    Of every sheep and cow,
    From every goat is the tribute
    And from every sow in sooth.
  38. Fair Brendan claims
    Justice of the Connaught men
    For his churches strenuously
    And of the head of the host.
  39. We go, five saints together,
    With him into the land northwards;
    We were near to him
    In every fort in turn.
  40. Wondrous to us then
    The fortress of the white fierce one;
    The army of rough Murchad
    Attacked us at Tulcha Taidg.
  41. Huge was the spoil,
    The herds of Clann Taidg,
    They took with them our books,
    In sooth there was much woe.
  42.  p.75
  43. Fair Brendan spake:
    'O reverend bosom-child,
    Why dost thou allow our spoil
    To be snatched from our hands?'
  44. Then I rise up
    And elevate my hand,
    I humble the seed of Murchad,
    Men of the terrible shots.
  45. I make rocky stones
    Of their men diligently,
    And I turn the spoil
    Against their very faces.
  46. When the host saw
    That I had defeated the warriors,
    They offer to me their land,
    Both level (land) and heath.
  47. Clann Taidg then said,
    The answer to me was wild:
    'Though thou wert called Mac Ochta (son of the bosom),
    Thou art Mac Creiche (son of the spoil) now.'
  48. 'Take with thee from us our tribute
    O reverend fair clerk;
    To be under toll to thy relic
    We deem it good, O Saint.'
  49. Their silver and their treasure
    Their stock on every hill;
    A folk whom justice helps,
    It is gold my relic.
  50. They gave a tribute to me,
    The seed of rash Muiredach,
    Fifty ounces of gold
    From the host he claimed for me.'



Wondrous illustrious miracles were done by Mac Creiche when great pestilences attacked all Ireland, and  p.76 attacked especially Cáoille in Chosnama, which is called Tuath Mumu; viz. the long-clawed griffin, the buide Connuill, the bolg-sighi and the gerr-gar> and the broicsech of Loch Broicsige in Cenel Fermaic; a monster most vehement, strong, malignant, unwearied, with its bestial rage upon it; and it wreaked great slaughters throughout the land generally; and when it assailed the land on this wise, its thunderous race through the land was like the thunderbeat of fifty horses on the strand. And this is what it would do; it would open its ravenous raging maw like a mad dog, with its jaws all on fire, and emit a broad terrifying stream of harsh magical (lit. pagan) breath through the passage of its maw, and every man whom that poisonous breath touched and every animal, died a premature and sudden death, both cattle and men; so that it stripped almost the whole land of its good men, and a great number of them left it altogether; and this was the extent of their losses, to wit, men and women to the number of sixty every day.


And after this their native patron saints were summoned to them, namely Maeldála, and Mac Aiblen, and Blathmac, and all the saints of the land, and thrice nine sages and seniors to meet all of them on the same day. And all the people were assembled together to receive the holy patrons. And when they saw them, they raised piteous and pathetic cries, intreating and upbraiding (lit. cheek-reddening) the high holy patrons. “Piteous are these great heavy cries,” said Blathmac. “That is true,” said the clerks. It happened that the monster was at that very time in the rear of the crowds, wreaking his wrath upon them. Great fear and terror seized the clerks; and this is what they did, they rang their bells and handbells, and smote their relics and pastoral staffs together, and all the people shouted, men, children, and women. But the monster was (only) the more fierce; and the clerks were sore abashed at the helpless distress of the country.


Then said Blathmac: “Let us all fast to God”, said he, “that He would reveal to us to whom it is destined to help and relieve us.” And thus they did, both men and women, fasting in hope of their help by the clerks. And the clerks proceeded to sing sweetly their psalms, and to entreat Jesus to tell them from whom should come their help and relief. And they prolonged this till two thirds of the night had passed; and the multitudes  p.77 were sore harassed, dreading the day for the terror of the monster; for this was its wont, it would come out of the loch with the dappled clouds of dawn, and begin ravaging them till its yellow hue extended over the sun; and would return to the same loch in the last third of the day.


The clerks said their mattins; and after mattins they slept.The angel Victor came to Blathmac in his sleep, and said: “Pax uobis,” that is, God's peace be with you. And the lofty archangel appeared to Blathmac; and Blathmac enquired of him, and said; “Are we destined ever to receive help and relief?” “You are,” said the angel. “Go to Ailbe's bosom son, and it is to him that God has granted to help and relieve you.” “Where is that worthy son of God?” said Blathmac. “On the brink of Loch Lein,” said the angel. “How is the country to be protected till the sage come?” said Blathmac. “That is easy,” said the angel; “I will sing a lullaby in its ear, and it will sleep soundly for three days and three nights.” “Not that only,” said Blathmac, “but until he (i.e. Mac Creiche) come across from the other side of the Shannon.” “It shall be,” said the angel, “as thou deemest best.” And the angel did as he said from first to last; he drove the broicsech before him to the loch, and sang an angelic chant, which laid the monster asleep. And the angel departed from it then.


Thereupon Blathmac awoke, and the day arose. And when they saw the day with its full brilliance, all the people came to the clerks, fleeing all together for fear of the monster. Then Blathmac came joyfully to them, and they asked news of him; and he told them everything from first to last, and said these words:

  1. There appeared to me the angel of Jesus
    Above the hosts;
    Angel of the King who is surest,
    A noble deed renowned.
  2. Victor the angel, he came to me
    In heavenly raiment,
    He who by God's will ungrudgingly
    Repels demons.
  3.  p.78
  4. The angel of Jesus said to me,
    A certain converse,
    That I should go to the famed and gifted son
    Of Ailbe's bosom.
  5. 'Go to pious Mac Creiche,'
    Said the angel,
    'With the purity of his thoughts he is your fortress,
    He is your stronghold.'
  6. He promised that he would curb the monster,
    Though a hard encounter,
    Till Mac Creiche whom I love should come
    Across the Shannon.
  7. He came to me to help us from Jesus
    Against all adversity,
    Victor, the angel, without panic,
    It is he who appeared.
    There appeared.


After this Blathmac said to them all: “Go, my beloved comrades, to Mac Creiche, for it is to him that God has granted to help and relieve you, and not to us.” “How shall we go there?” said the good men. “Let your nobles and your chief men go,” said Blathmac, “and go under servile rent of service to him and to his monks after him, to free you from the monster; and offer a tribute to him every third year, men, children, and women.” “Wilt thou come with us?” said the chiefs. “I will indeed,” said Blathmac.



After this their sprightly driving horses were brought to them, and they set out, twelve hundred in number was their company, and Blathmac with thrice fifty sages and seniors together with them. And they left Maeldala and Mac Aiblen and the rest of the saints to protect the land. After this the well-marshalled band set out quickly and eagerly to prevent their land from being further ravaged; and they crossed the stream of the Shannon from this side into the territory of the Ciarraige Luachra, and thence to the brink of Loch Lein. And Blathmac alighted from his chariot when he saw Mac Creiche,  p.79 and so did they all; and traversed the plain towards the clerk on their knees; and Mac Creiche welcomed Blathmac, and asked him his news; and Blathmac told him that it was to seek him they had come, he and the nobles together, that he might free them from the distress in which they were, and help them.


And this is how Mac Creiche was at that time, viz. putting the whole territory under a servile rent of hard service to himself and to his monks for ever; and they all said as Blathmac had told them. And Mac Creiche had no one with him but Mainchin only, and the Finnfaidech. And they began to confer amicably; and treasures and much good were promised to him for his help. “What sureties shall I have for this promise?” said Mac Creiche. “The tribe (as surety) for the church, and the church for the tribe,” said Blathmac, “and everyone to be at thy will for ever; and thy tribute to be fulfilled to thee every third year, and two scruples for ever and ever from every hearth, and the tax of thy bell every year.”



And after this the people of the land gathered round them, and Mac Creiche bade them farewell, and took a blessing from them, and left a blessing with them. And they set out on the return journey by the same way that they had come, till they reached the brink of the fair-streamed Shannon, and they crossed the river from the far side. And when they had crossed, the monster awoke, and hurled itself on the land forthwith. And all the people of the land fled before it till they reached the weir of Cell Subulaig, and they crossed the weir. And Mac Creiche came to them on the third day; and it was at the time and hour when the monster was pursuing the people and mangling them; and heavy piteous cries rose from the crowds before it; and when the cries were loudest, a numerous host was seen coming towards them, viz. pious Mac Creiche. And they all bowed to him, men, children, and women, and traversed the plain towards him on their knees; and commended themselves to him in servile rent of service, and to his monks after him.


And they had not been long there, when they saw the shepherds of the flocks and herds coming towards them, and the monster behind them. And they all fly (for refuge) behind  p.80 the clerk. And the monster came to the weir with great wrath and fury; and it kept discharging balls of fire through its ravenous raging maw, and great fear seized the clerk; and Mainchin was behind him with the Finnfaidech. And the clerk said: “Reach me my bell, O Mainchin,” said Mac Creiche. And both companies laid their faces to the ground; and Mac Creiche spoke these words:

  1. May Christ repel thy venom;
    What thou hast in mind, may He cure it.
    May God repel thy venom;
    May He not suffer it to reach me any more.
  2. O savage 'broicsech', press not upwards;
    The breath of my bell round the top of thy maw;
    O dumb 'broicsech' though rough the encounter,
    I am to subdue thee, trusting in holy Christ.
  3. The seven archangels from the fair city,
    God the Creator has ordained them to repel thee from me;
    The four noble evangelists shall lower thy strength,
    Matthew and Mark in their mighty host, Luke and John.
  4. I entreat the Saints, I entreat the Virgins,
    I entreat them all, that they may be a strong band;
    I entreat them to help me, all the Saints of the lasting world,
    That all of them, north and south, will assist my prayer.
  5. I entreat to my help Christ, the helmet of each,
    King of the heavenly kingdom, tapering tree over fort;
    Great fervent forgiving God, Mary's Son, conceal it not;
    I beseech, I implore, I request, that He quell thy venom. May Christ.


After this, Mac Creiche asked again for the bell, and Mainchin gave it to him; and he struck the bell fiercely, so that the monster started, and reared itself on its hind legs, so that it was higher than a bushy tall-topped eminent tree, or a belltower set on a hill; and the numerous claws and talons growing out of it were horrible, and great fear seized the clerk at seeing the monster. Et orauit secundo ad Deum, etc. p.81


And after this intercession by the clerk, the monster stood erect while Mac Creiche was making his prayer; and then hurled itself on to the weir with dreadful, horrible, unnatural fury; and with such fury did it discharge its balls of fire through its ravening raging maw, and through its nostrils, and raise its bestial wrath upon it, that its bristles could be seen standing on end, with a dew drop of red blood on every single hair of its body from ear to tail. Alas, woe for Mac Creiche awaiting it at the weir, but for the presence of the true glorious God to subdue it by His power. And after this Mac Creiche entreated the Lord earnestly to rescue him from the venom of the deadly beast, and spoke as follows: “O head of my counsel, O Lord of might, O prince, O chief, O foster-father, O confessor, O Son of the great Virgin, repel from me this wild beast, according to my wish, O King and Monarch, that it may not spring on my head.”


After this Mac Creiche smote the bell twice (lit. once less than thrice) while the monster was traversing the weir with enormous strides, and his maw all aflame, and at the third stroke a ball of fire shot from the bell into the monster's maw, and its maw caught fire. And when the monster perceived that its gullet was on fire, it turned back on the weir with a horrible scream and screech, and both hosts arose, and set up great universal clamorous cries of triumph. And Mac Creiche pursued the monster with his crooked slender-footed staff in his hand; and began driving the monster with his staff, he being behind the monster, while Maeldala and Mac Aiblen and Blathmac and the other saints of the land were behind Mac Creiche, and all the people of the land, men, children, and women, behind the clerks; and the hosts raised continuous shouts and cries as they pursued the monster. And they went forward on this wise till they reached the loch, when it took a spring into the loch, and dived into the depths of the loch. The hosts and the clerks raised great shouts, giving eternal thanks to God for having repulsed the monster from them.


But they had not been long there, when they saw the loch breaking in fierce red streams over the banks of the loch; and then the monster rose to the surface of the loch, and stood bolt upright on its feet as before. And then the hosts raised great  p.82 shouts reproaching and insulting the clerk; and great shame seized Mac Creiche at the re-appearance of the monster, and his heart bounded in his breast and he looked up to the firmament, and prayed mentally to Jesus; and looked around him a second time, and found nothing wherewith to smite or shoot the monster save only one thing. No one was near him at the time except Mainchin; and Mainchin shouted at Mac Creiche, when he saw both the hosts in flight. It was then that Mac Creiche laid his hand on the head-covering of his tonsure, that is a covering of grey cloth like a skull-cap (?) which he had, and flung it against the monster; and the tonsure-covering of the christian extended itself, and the skull-cap kept pressing on the monster, so that it appeared to them all like a cowl of smelted iron enveloping the monster; and they saw the monster curling itself in twisted coils under the skull-cap, and carried it with it to the bottom of the loch, not to rise again till the brink of doom and life.


And both hosts raised many great shouts giving witness to Mac Creiche, men, children and women, and the clerks bent their knees to the ground, and made their treaty and union with Mac Creiche, and offered themselves in servile labour rent to him and to his monks. And then Mac Creiche gave thanks to God for these great miracles, to wit, the destruction of the broicsech and said:

  1. I thank my mighty King,
    O Lord of the heavenly cloud-land,
    That Thou didst put (a noble burning)
    The 'broicsech' to shame.
  2. I thank the same Lord,
    For prosperous are His secrets;
    Till the loch shall reach the seas,
    He will not allow it (the monster) to return.
  3. O mountain of red gold over fair cliffs,
    O discourse without mourning,
    I thank the King who repulsed it,
    So that I was not discomfited.



After this all the people of the land came on to a ridge above the bank of the loch on one side, and the clerks  p.83 on the other side. And Mac Creiche afterwards blessed the people, men, children and women; and all their stock and tributes were driven together from every quarter towards him; and the freeman who had nothing but his arms, placed himself at his (Mac Creiche's) disposal. And there were brought to him the horse and armour of their chief of counsel, that is their ruler and lord, with all the rest. “Leave bequests to the land,” said Blathmac and the nobles. “What shall I have therefore?” said Mac Creiche. “Thy tribute to be fully paid to thy monks, and to thyself, and the equipment of a lord, both horse and armour, as thou seest them now,” said the nobles. “I leave pre-eminence of chief to the land,” said Mac Creiche, “and renown of king, and pre-eminence of queen, and of steward, and of clerk.”


“Leave something more,” said the nobles. “What shall I have for it?” said Mac Creiche. “Thou shalt receive the firstling of every flock,” said they. “I leave corn and milk in your land, and mast in your woods, and increase in your soil,” said he. “Leave something more,” said the nobles. “What shall I have for it?” said Mac Creiche. “Thou shalt have,” said the nobles, “the rent of thy bell every year.” “I leave,” said he, “pre-eminence of valour on your heroes, and superiority over every land to yourselves. I leave, that if any pestilence of sore disease shall visit your land, the water in which my bell has been washed, and the prayer of my steward shall repel it; and if there be there any prince or tanist, he shall fail or die, unless they rise up before my bell; and any one till doom shall fade or die who passes it up across his knee with falsehood or perjury.”


“And on the other hand I leave to you never to be fewer than the number with which ye have come to me, if ye fully pay these tributes.” And he said:

  1. 'With thrice three hundred ye came,
    Proud men with gleaming arms;
    As long as ye fully pay my tribute,
    Ye shall be no fewer.'

“I leave something more to you: the hearth on which there is my (tax of a) scruple, no pestilence of sore disease shall visit it for ever, and no untimely corpse shall ever be carried from  p.84 the house on which is my scruple. But whenever ye shall not fully pay my tribute, and not submit to my relics, I leave to you all the pestilences and diseases to be distributed among you for ever; and a hateful malignant demon to dwell among you continually, so that everyone of you shall be treacherous and parricidal towards his fellow; and whenever ye shall see my bell, it shall be a shame and reproach to your tribe to see it without fully paying its tribute to it. Something more too I leave: three sounds of my bell before you in battle, and ye shall be victorious on every side, if ye fully pay my tributes.”



They all in general approved as good every thing that the wise man spake; and Blathmac said that great were the miracles and mighty works which had been done there. “That is true indeed,” said Mac Creiche, “and that shall be the name of this ridge till doom, Druim na Ferta (i.e. ridge of the mighty works); and this loch below shall be Loch Broicsige (i.e. loch of the broicsech) till doom.” And the clerks made their alliance and union together, and Mac Creiche made a monument and place of worship there, and his tributes and cumals were brought to him; and he began to bid farewell to the land, and to enumerate his tributes; and this is what he said: “Good is the journey we have come to this land to help it; and well will it be for them, if they fully pay my tributes to myself and to my successors afterwards in turn till doom, and ill if they do not do so.”


And he spoke this lay:

  1. 'Good is the journey on which we have come
    By the will of the fair Ruler,
    To help the host of the Fermacaig
    From land to land.
  2. The 'broicsech' was devouring them
    Greater than any ill;
    A huge strange dreadful monster,
    It could not be repelled.
  3. Máeldala and Mac Aiblen
    And Blathmac of the holy body,
    And the saints of the land p.85
    Could not repel it from them.
  4. The saints pronounced
    Their answer hastily:
    'Forsake ye all the land
    We cannot repel it.'
  5. The chiefs of the Fermacaig asked
    Of soft white Blathmac:
    'Shall our hope be on help,
    And is it destined for us?'
  6. “Go to Ailbe's bosom son,”
    Said Blathmac forcibly;
    'It is he without deceit
    Repulses the plague from you.
  7. It is to him God has granted,
    The fair Ruler permitted it,
    Every pestilence and conflict
    To expel from your land.'
  8. The chiefs of the Fermacaig set out
    Southwards to seek me,
    To help and relieve them;
    This journey was profitable.
  9. They found me on the level plains
    On the brink of Loch Lein;
    As if they had been my own monks,
    They bowed to me devoutly.
  10. They all said to me,
    The fair comely host:
    'Give thine own judgment, O holy clerk,
    Come and help us.'
  11. They all promised to me,
    Men, children, women,
    A scruple from every man,
    And all to be under my tribute.
  12.  p.86
  13. They gave me God as surety for them,
    True is the cause,
    To fulfil till doom
    The judgment I gave.
  14.  69
  15. I come with them thence
    Across the streamy Shannon;
    They enter, true it is,
    Into the land side by side.
  16. All the people of the land
    Come to us to meet us,
    And bow down to me,
    Men, children, women.
  17. The monster came behind them
    Onto the weir unhindered,
    They go behind my back
    And I take my bell..
  18. I entreat great Jesus,
    And He checked the monster;
    A ball came out of the bell,
    And entered its maw.
  19. Its strong belly burned,
    Fair was the mystery;
    Without deceit, conceal it not,
    Its venom went back.
  20. Backwards it turned
    To the very loch;
    When it reached the brink,
    It leapt into the middle of it.
  21. It plunged beneath the loch.
    The city (i.e. the citizens) had come dejectedly.
    (Then) all the host offer
    Thanksgiving for its defeat.
  22. It came onto the loch again
    Standing erect, it was a horror,
    All the host cried out;
    Alas, their cry was sad.
  23.  p.87
  24. While the monster was
    Thus standing erect,
    I entreat the God of heaven,
    That help may come to me.
  25. I hurl a cast at it,
    Because I was furious,
    With the covering of my tonsure;
    It settled on its head.
  26. It began to drown it,
    My skull-cap, a course of grace;
    It was plain to everyone
    Like a great fair cauldron.
  27. It crushed it in its twisted coils
    Into the loch relentlessly,
    Without the monster rising
    Against anyone till doom.
  28.  70
  29. The hosts bow down to me,
    Men, children, women,
    They grant to me diligently
    My own judgment as to tribute.
  30. There is given to me then
    From the fair comely host
    Tribute every third year,
    As homage to my relic.
  31. His horse and his armour
    Shall come to me from the chief;
    There shall be to thee henceforth
    Every good in return for it.
  32. My little perpetual scruple
    To me God has granted,
    No untimely corpse shall be borne
    From the house on which it is.
  33. A penny is the tax of my bell
    Which I brought from Rome;
    It is to be paid according to rule
    Every year by them.
  34.  p.88
  35. I leave pre-eminence of chief
    On the land itself,
    Pre-eminence of king and steward,
    While they are at my will.
  36. Pre-eminence of queen and steward,
    Pre-eminence of clerk in his church,
    Pre-eminence of beauty and horsemanship,
    Pre-eminence in drink at all times.
  37. I bequeath corn and milk
    In the land where I stand;
    I bequeath mast and heavy crops,
    While they pay my tribute.
  38. I bequeath pre-eminence of valour
    To their loyal warriors;
    While they pay my tribute,
    Their pledge shall not be taken.
  39. The prayer of my steward,
    The water from my holy bell,
    It is they which at every gap
    Repel from them pestilence and plague.
  40. Three sounds of my bell
    Before you in hard battle;
    If ye but perform its command,
    Ye shall carry with it every victory.
  41.  71
  42. The first calf, the first lamb, the first kid,
    The first piglet of a sow in sty,
    I claim of the host of the Fermacaig;
    I say what is not false.
  43. I leave to their king
    To rise up before my bell;
    He shall fade in weakness,
    Unless he rise up quickly.
  44. Every plague and every sickness,
    And every dread fiery pestilence, p.89
    I will repel from their cattle,
    While they pay my tribute.
  45. From their men and their women,
    From their very posterity
    I will repel these plagues,
    While they are at my will.
  46. Everyone of them who obeys me
    Shall be at the right hand of the living God;
    They shall all go to heaven,
    Both men and women
  47. If they maintain the valiant tribute,
    Each one of whom it is due,
    I will maintain them renownedly
    On the lasting world.
  48. I will be a mangling monster,
    If they play me false;
    I will be opposedly against them,
    If they spoil my increase.
  49. I give thanks to God;
    The monster, a cruel mystery,
    To me was granted
    That it should never return.
  50. I give thanks to God
    (Because of) my skull-cap for ever,
    How it was cast over the monster,
    So that it did not attack anyone.
  51. Though it was (only) grey cloth,
    My skull-cap, a course of grace,
    Joyfully enfolds the monster
    Like a fair great cauldron.
  52. Every one of the land who raises
    My bell of the gracious course
    Over his knee with falsehood,
    I bequeath to him that he shall decay.
  53.  p.90
  54. My years are seven score years
    To the gracious feast of candles;
    I give thanks to God
    For what I shall receive of good.'

72. (Colophon)

So that this is the Life of Mac Creiche up to this point, copied by the poor friar Michael O'Clery in the convent of the friars of Donegal, May 11, 1635, from the copy which the same friar wrote in the convent of Ennis in Thomond in June 1634, from a book which Melaghlin O'Callannan wrote at Cell Maelodrain for the coarb of Mac Creiche in the year of Christ 1524.


73. Here Is Another Story About Mac Creiche

There was a man named Thomas O Godain in great and extraordinary suffering owing to the plague of boils; and he lost the. faculty of speech and memory, and was almost unconscious; and after a washing (of the bell) had been made for him by a young clerk of Mac Creiche, and (the water) carried by the same young clerk, and drunk by the sick man from the bell, his speech and memory returned to him at once; and this miracle was noised abroad by everyone. And afterwards Thomas O Godain, the sufferer from the boils, made this lay:

  1. Great the mighty works, methinks,
    Which the patron saint wrought on me;
    Mac Creiche, to whom be lasting fame
    Brought me from death to life.
  2. I trust in the relic by my side
    Which came from the breast of the true saint.
    No clay (i.e. corpse) ever comes from a house
    Into which its washings shall be borne.
  3. He gave to me gracious protection,
    Mac Creiche of the excellent relics;
    I owe service to him above all
    .For he did not forget his servant.
  4.  p.91
  5. His bells and his crooked staffs
    With their ornaments of gold (and) jewels,
    It is right for all (I speak the truth)
    To celebrate their miracles.
  6. His bells and his crooked staffs
    With their ornaments of gold (and) jewels,
    It is right for all (I speak the truth)
    To celebrate their miracles.
  7. His tribute (is) on the men of Munster,
    And on the Connaught men from the first;
    A sanctuary to the clerks of his churches
    Is due from the men of Ireland.
  8. His miracles (wrought) hitherto,
    It would be hard to enumerate them;
    He continues with invincible might
    To do truly mighty works.
  9. Who ever recites in his honour
    This lay with right belief,
    He shall freely receive his petition,
    He shall carry away every great triumph.

From the same book this was copied.

Document details

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Title statement

Title (uniform): Life of Mac Creiche

Title (supplementary): English Translation

Editor: Charles Plummer

Responsibility statement

translated by: Charles Plummer, Beatrix Färber, and Sinéad Deignan

Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber, and Sinéad Deignan

proof corrections by: and Sinéad Deignan

Funded by: University College, Cork and The Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences via the Digital Dinneen Project

Edition statement

2. Second draft.

Extent: 13865 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a Project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http:www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2005

Date: 2010

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T201012

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description

Manuscript source

  • Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, O'Clery MS numbers 2324–4200, ff 87r–98r.

Editions and Translations

  • Charles Plummer, Miscellanea Hagiographica Hibernica. Vitae adhuc ineditae sanctorum Mac Creiche, Naile, Cranat, ad fidem codicum manu scriptorum recognovit, prolegomenis, notis, indicibus, instruxit C.P. Accedit Catalogus Hagiographicus Hiberniae ab eodem pro tempore informatus. Societé des Bollandistes. Subsidia Hagiographica 15. Bruxelles 1925.

The edition used in the digital edition

Plummer, Charles, ed. (1925). Miscellanea Hagiographica Hibernica.‍ 1st ed. cxx + 271 pp. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  title 	 = {Miscellanea Hagiographica Hibernica.},
  editor 	 = {Charles Plummer},
  edition 	 = {1},
  note 	 = {cxx + 271 pp.},
  publisher 	 = {Société des Bollandistes},
  address 	 = {Brussels},
  date 	 = {1925}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The present text represents pages 53–91 of the volume. Notes and indexes have been omitted. An editorial introduction is prefixed to the Irish version which is available in a separate file (G201012). Text supplied by the editor is tagged sup.

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Segmentation: div0=the saint's life; div1=the chapter; div2=the editor's paragraph. Page-breaks are marked pb. Passages in verse are marked by poem, stanza and line.

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Creation: Translation by Charles Plummer.

Date: 1924

Language usage

  • The translation is in English. (en)
  • A few passages are in Latin. (la)
  • A few words are in Irish. (ga)
<particDesc default="NO" TEIform="particDesc"><person id="MC" TEIform="person">Mac Creiche</person><person id="A" TEIform="person">Aodh mac Eachdach</person><person id="BR" TEIform="person">Brenainn</person><person id="CT" TEIform="person">clann Taidg</person><person id="BL" TEIform="person">Blathmac</person><person id="TOG" TEIform="person">Tomás O Godáin</person><person id="V" TEIform="person">Victor, the angel</person><person id="SCF" TEIform="person">Saints of Cenel Fermacach</person><person id="LCF" TEIform="person">Lords of Cenel Fermacach</person></particDesc>

Keywords: religious; prose; medieval; Saint's Life; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2013-07-23: Typo corrected (brought to CELT's attention by Donal De Barra). (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2010-04-10: Conversion script run; header updated; new wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2008-09-07: File validated; keywords added. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2008-07-27: Title elements streamlined. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  5. 2008-07-18: Value of div0 "type" attribute modified, 'creation' tags inserted, content of 'langUsage' revised. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  6. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
  7. 2005-08-04T16:39:27+0100: Converted to XML (ed. Peter Flynn)
  8. 2005-04-21: Header updated; file checked and proofed (2); in-depth markup applied; file re-parsed; new wordcount made, HTML file created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  9. 2005-03-11: Text proofed according to detailed instructions (1); basic structural markup applied in line with Irish companion file. (ed. Sinéad Deignan)
  10. 2005-03-10: Text captured by scanning. (data capture Benjamin Hazard)

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G201012: Betha Meic Creiche (in Irish)

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