The Celtic Literature Collective

The Graves of the Kings at Clonmacnois
Rawlinson B 512, f.121a

O cemetery of the warriors of Conn’s Half, 
which of thy nobles do I not extol! 
O sanctuary on whose floor is no stain, 
O place wherein Ciaran suffered!

O great temple which all extol for 
thy dignity and thy fortune, 
with tapering fingers, mild was their glory, 
two kings of Erin, are under thine altar!

Toirrdelbach on the southern side of it, 
Ruaidri on the other lofty side, 
a fierce and gentle pair, without stealth for a while, 
two comely high-kings of Erin.

Westwards from the chancel then, 
the bed of Ruaidri’s son, the bountiful, 
a young scion who was prosperous, 
the king of every province, Conchobar.

Diarmait son of Magnus the Great, 
for whom Jesus ordained honour, 
a branch which sprang from Aed Engach, 
side by side with Toirrdelbach.

O flagstone of Guaire’s bed, 
under thy green sod are Ragallach, 
Muiredach, Tadg of the three Rosses, 
Indrechtach and Fergus!

Murgal and Tomaltach the mighty, 
(and) Muirgius (are) under thy wall, great the tale, 
God hath given dignity to Cluan
—the noble kings at the same time!

O flagstone of the proud high-kings, 
beneath thee are the bodies of the three Tadgs; 
beneath thee also, I speak truthfully, 
three Conchobars, two Cathals

It is beneath thee that Aed Engach is, 
plunderer of the ‘household of Tara! 
Beneath thee, grace is shown, 
are Diarmaid Cathal, and Cellach!

Beneath thy flagstone down-lying are 
O’Heyne, lord of Finnmag, Domnall,
and Tadg from Echtge, 
Aed Balb, Aed Iridrechtach’s son!

It is thirty kings in all 
of the folk of royal rank,
of the kings of Cruacban who believed, 
that are under the flagstone of the kings in thy cemetery!

Ruaidri in this temple to the south, 
Diarmait son of Tadg, side by side, 
Conchobar, Aed, head to head, 
two sons of Ruaidri, king of Erin!

Brian of Breifne, Mathgamain the gentle, 
Muirgius beneath the same stone I see, 
people who refused naught to anyone, 
folk of the royal temple of Ruaidri!

O great flagstone of the descendant of Maelruanach, 
to behold thee is not an order (?) of pride: 
twenty kings, and their heads ‘neath thy cross, 
are under the mould which thou hast closed!

O flagstone of Cuanu the descendant of Cellach,
good the order (?) of the wealth that purchased thee, 
eighteen men of pure excellence, 
from Cellach the Great to Murchad!

O flagstone of the descendants of Tadg of the Household, 
noble this folk to follow them: 
eighteen men of pure excellence, 
from Tadg Cuana to Cathal!

O stone of the descendants of Concenainn, 
thou hast concealed men of estate: 
seventeen men of shining valour 
‘neath thy comely angelic cemetery!

Beneath thy chaste mould, O church, 
are two ollaves of Erin: 
Mac Coisse, sway over whom I have not heard of,
and Cuchuana of Connacht!

O chaste temple of the children of Niall, 
in the time of Diarmait of the smooth face, 
fifty kings, ‘tis no small portion, 
have come to thee, O cemetery!

Since the day I fashioned this song, 
the coarb sent me away from Cluain; 
the abbot took from me what I had made, 
the account of thy kings, O cemetery!

Said the clerics of Cluain; 
sing not thy songs to us! 
sing to themselves at their feasts a poem 
to the profit of Muiredach’s seed!

Therefore, I carry the work 
to Cathal the descendant of Conchobar, 
since the clerics of Cluain 
have refused its profit, its ancient songs.

I give thanks to the king of heaven, 
to God I give thanks, 
for having come to the king of Tuam, 
with whom I am, from the paupers of Cluain Ciaran.

May Christ of the arts hold in His keeping 
the son of my king, Cathal of the Red-Hand! 
may God save the person who comes: 
that is a wish for every cemetery!

Best, R.I. "Graves of the Kings at Clonmacnois." Eriu v.2. pp.163-171