CELT document T207003

The Vision of Laisrén

Unknown author

English translation

Edited by Kuno Meyer


The Vision of Laisrén

Rawlinson B. 512, 44ra-44vb.


Once upon a time Laisrén went presumptuously  1 from the monastery of Clúain in order to purify Clúain Cháin, a church which is in the territory of Connaught. He fasted thrice three days while purifying the church. At the end of the third three days' fast sleep overpowered him in the oratory, and in his sleep he heard a voice saying to him: “Arise!” The first time he did not move. When for the second time he heard the voice he raised his head and made the sign of the cross over his face. Then he saw the church in which he was, all alight, and yet there was still a part of the night. And between the chancel and the altar he saw a shining figure.


Said the figure to him: “Come towards me!” At that voice the cleric's whole body from crown to sole shook. Then all at once he beheld his soul hovering over the crown of his head, and knew not which way she had come out of the body. And he saw the church open above towards heaven, and two angels taking the soul between them and rising into the air.



Thereupon he beheld a host of angels coming to meet her. And he saw another host of demons with fiery hair? about them and fire coming out of their every limb. On those demons he discerned three shapes. Some had a very black shape, and had fiery bulging spears in their hands; others had a dark brown shape and had fiery darts in their hands. A third number had a shaggy (?) 2 shape, and fiery hair growing through them like the hair of a thistle, 3 and fiery javelins in their hands.


Now these three bands formed a single array of battle to wrest the soul from the angels. And one of them, as long as his breath would last, and without change of speech, charged the soul in one charge with what she had done of misdeeds since she was born. That one charge seemed as terrible to the soul {} 4 and the demon said nothing but was true, nor did he charge her with anything of which she had made confession to a confessor before leaving the body.


An angel of the great host answered the demon on behalf of the soul and said “Now thou hast charged thy whole charge.” The demon answered and said: “I have not. I have not charged the greater part of it.” The angel answered: “Thy charge can do us no harm, since before leaving the body it has been confessed and atoned for by penance according to the will of a confessor. Be off!” said the angel, “You have no share in this man.” “If God's word be true,” said the demon, “we shall not part this way; for this man has not made a little child of himself as God commanded him” ‘dicens: Nisi conuersi fueritis et efficiamini sicut paruuli, non intrabitis in regnum caelorum.’ (Matth. 18, 3.) “God's word is true,” said the angel, “for this man has not come {} to stay with demons, for he will give warning before us to his friends.” 5 “Depart from us now!” said the angel. Forthwith they departed from them.


Thereupon the angel of the great host said to the two angels who were around the soul: “Now take this man that he may see Hell.” Thereupon he is let down northward into a great p.118 glen. It seemed as long to him as if he saw from the rising of the sun to its setting. He sees a great pit as it were the mouth of a cave between two mountains, which they entered above. For a long time they went along the cave, until they came to a great high black mountain before them at the mouth of Hell, and a large glen in the upper part of that mountain. This was the nature of that glen: it was broad below, narrow above. That cave was the door to Hell, and its porch.


And he saw the folk of the island 6 whosoever of them were when in the body, under the displeasure of God. They were in the middle of the glen wailing. “Woe, O God!” said the soul. “Has a plague come after us, since all these hosts have perished after us since we find them here?” “Not so,” said the angel, “but whoever is under the displeasure of God during life after thee, here do they behold their souls, and this is their certain fate unless they repent.” “May I speak to each soul whom I see here?” the man asked. “No” said the angel, “lest they despair. Tell them, however, to repent, for whoever shall make repentance and end in it shall not be in this place, but will be in a place of comfort away from this evil, and his repentance will take him past it. And again, he who shall live in righteousness, he sees life while he is in the body, and he shall be in life if he is steadfast in righteousness. Tell them also,” said the angel, “that he who lives in righteousness be steadfast in it, for there is not much time to consider 7 until death comes to them. He, however, who is under the displeasure of God accepts repentance if it be done from a pious heart, and God's mercy will help him”


Thereupon the man's soul went into Hell itself, even a sea of fire with an unspeakable storm and unspeakable waves upon it. And he saw the souls aflame in that sea, and their heads all above it; and they wailing and lamenting, crying woe without ceasing throughout the ages. Some of the souls had fiery nails through their tongues, which were sticking out of their heads; others through their ears, others through their eyes.


Again, he saw others with their mouths gaping, and the demons compelling them with fiery forks like the other three hosts. The man desired to know the difference of the torments. The p.119 angel answered at once, in the way that the guardian angel has always answered thoughts and reflections. “The folk whom thou seest with the fiery nails through their tongues, those are they who have not been praising God or blessing and worshipping Him, and”{} 8 “and perjuring themselves and blaspheming and talking vaingloriously and” {} 9

Document details

The TEI Header

File description

Title statement

Title (uniform): The Vision of Laisrén

Title (supplementary): English translation

Editor: Kuno Meyer

Responsibility statement

translated by: Kuno Meyer and Benjamin Hazard

Electronic edition compiled by: and Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: University College, Cork and The Higher Education Authority via the LDT Project

Edition statement

2. Second draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 1757 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a Department of History project at 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: T207003

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

Notes statement

The edition used is from UCC's Torna Collection. It has a dedication by Meyer and occasional handwritten corrections, which are marked.

Source description

Manuscript Source

  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson B. 512, 44ra–44vb (Composite; vellum; late fifteenth century); see Brian Ó Cuív (ed.), Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Oxford College Libraries, 2 volumes (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Celtic Studies, 2001–2003) vol. 1, 232–244.


  • Richard Irvine Best, Notes on Rawlinson B 512, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 17 (1928), 389–402.

The edition used in the digital edition

Meyer, Kuno, ed. (1899). Stories and Songs from Irish Manuscripts‍. , UNKNOWN = measure. London: David Nutt.

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

  title 	 = {Stories and Songs from Irish Manuscripts},
  editor 	 = {Kuno Meyer},
  edition 	 = {0},
  note 	 = {
  UNKNOWN 	 = {measure}
  publisher 	 = {David Nutt},
  address 	 = { London},
  date 	 = {1899}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Editorial declarations

Correction: Text has been checked and proof-read twice.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text. Meyer's handwritten corrections are marked corr sic="" resp="KM". Text supplied by him is marked sup resp="KM".

Quotation: Direct speech is marked q.

Hyphenation: Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, the break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.

Segmentation: div0=the tale; div1=the editor's paragraph; page-breaks are marked pb n="".

Interpretation: Names are not tagged, nor are terms for cultural and social roles.

Reference declaration

A canonical reference to a location in this text should be made using “paragraph”, eg paragraph 1.

Profile description

Creation: Translation by Kuno Meyer

Date: c.1899

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)
  • Some words are in Irish. (ga)
  • A few words are in Latin. (la)

Keywords: religious; prose; medieval; eschatology; vision; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2019-06-05: Changes made to div0 type. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2010-04-27: Conversion script run; header updated; new wordcount made; file parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2008-10-24: Keywords added; file validated; header modified; new wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
  5. 2005-08-04T16:41:13+0100: Converted to XML (ed. Peter Flynn)
  6. 2005-04-26: Header modified, more markup applied, file proofed (2) and re-parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  7. 2005-04-25: File proofed (1); header constructed; bibliographical details compiled; structural and content markup applied to text; file parsed; HTML file created. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  8. 2005-04-22: Translation scanned. (data capture Benjamin Hazard)

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Other languages

G207003: The Vision of Laisrén (in Irish)

Source document


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  1. 'for slatra(d)'. Cf. slatratu 'presumption,' LU 35b 31. Laws iii, p. 92, 21. 🢀

  2. mothlach: 'rough, bushy, ragged,' O'R. in mnái mothlaig móir, LL. 214a 13, ib. 118a 35. 🢀

  3. 'omthann', now 'fobthan': thistle. Cf. Corm. Transl., p. 182. 🢀

  4. Here the Irish is evidently corrupt. 🢀

  5. The translation of this sentence is doubtful, as something seems omitted in the original. 🢀

  6. i.e. Ireland. 🢀

  7. Lit. 'their considerations are not long'. 🢀

  8. Three or four letters illegible. 🢀

  9. Here, in the middle of the page, the MS. breaks off abruptly. 🢀


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