The Celtic Literature Collective

The Three Drinking-Horns of Cormac Ua Cuinn
RIA MS 23 O 48: Liber Flavus Fergusiorum, 1435-40

Once on a time Aed Oridnide, son of Nial Frosach, son of Feargal, son of Maelduin, came to establish order in the province of Connact. He crossed Eas Ruaid, and his table-servants and his drinking-horns were lost therein. Aed came to Corca Tri, and rested at the house of the king of Corca Tri. Fifty of the kings of Erin accompanied Aed.

Aed ate a meal on Sunday night along with the kings: but though he ate he drank not a draught, for he had no drinking-horn, beacuse his horns and his quaighs were lost at Ath Enaig, above Eas Ruaid, as the army was crossing. A grief it was for the king of Corca Tri and his consort that all should be drinking and the king of Erin refusing to drink. Angal raised his hands to God, and persisted (?) in taking neither sleep nor food till mroning. And on the morrow his wife said to him: "Go," said she, "to Guaire mac Colmain at Durlas (for that was the home of hospitality and generosity from teh time of Dathi onward) to see if you would get a horn there through his hospitable bounty." Angal, king of Corca Tri, stepped out throug hte door of the rath, and his right foot stumbled, so that a stone fell from its place in the fort; and it was teh stone that covered teh mouth of the flue wherein were the three horns that were the best in all Ireland; namely, [an Cam-corn] the Twisted Horn, and the Litan, and [an Easgung] the Eel. These were the cups that were brought by Cormac ua Cuinn over the sea; and Nia mac Lugna Firtri, the second foster-brother of Cormac ua Cuinn, had hidden them after Cormac was slain; and Cairbre Lifechair came over the sea, and though he found the other horns, these horns were nto found till the time of the saints and of Aed Oridnide mac Neill. For a veil was spread over them by God, till He discovered them to the king of Corca Tri, by reason of his hospitable bounty.

Angal offered thanks to God, and bore off the horns, full of mead all three. He put them in the hands of Aed Oirdnide, king of Erin, who gave thanks to God, and put the Litan in the hands of the king of Ulster, the Eel-Horn in teh hands of the king of Connacht, and reserved to himself the Twisted Horn.

Afterwards it was descended ot Maelsechlainn mac Domhnaill; and he offered it to God and to Ciaran, jointly, till the Day of Judgement.


According to Gwynn, "Corca Tri is a tribal name, applied to a territory which included the present baronies of Gallen, in Mayon, and Leyny and Corran, in Sligo... Corran is the Irish Corann[.]"


Gwynn, E.J. "The Three Drinking-horns of Cormac ua Cuinn." Eriu. vol. II. London: David Nutt, 1905.

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