The Celtic Literature Collective

Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of Invasions
§39-54: The Nemedians and the Fir Bolg

§39. Now Ireland was waste thereafter, for a space of thirty years after Partholon, till Nemed son of Agnomain of the Greeks of Scythia came thither, with his four chieftains; [they were the four sons of Nemed]. Forty-four ships had he on the Caspian Sea for a year and a half, but his ship alone reached Ireland. These are the four chieftains, Starn, Iarbonel the Soothsayer, Annind, and Fergus Red-Side: they were the four sons of Nemed. 

§40. There were four lake-bursts in Ireland in the time of Nemed: Loch Cal in Ui Niallain, Loch Munremair in Luigne, Loch Dairbrech, Loch Annind in Meath. When his grave [of Annind son of Nemed] was being dug and he was a-burying, there the lake burst over the land. 

§41. It is Nemed who won the battle of Ros Fraechain against Gand and Sengand, two kings of the Fomoraig, and the twain were slain there. Two royal forts were dug by Nemed in Ireland, Raith Chimbaith in Semne, Raith Chindeich in Ui Niallain. The four sons of Matan Munremar dug Raith Cindeich in one day: namely, Boc, Roboc, Ruibne, and Rotan. They were slain before the morrow in Daire Lige by Nemed, lest they should improve upon the digging. 

§42. Twelve plains were cleared by Nemed in Ireland: Mag Cera, Mag Eba, Mag Cuile Tolaid, and Mag Luirg in Connachta: Mag Seired in Tethba; Mag Tochair in Tir Eogain; Mag Selmne in Araide; Mag Macha in Airgialla; Mag Muirthemne in Brega; Mag Bernsa in Laighne; Leccmag and Mag Moda in Mumu. 

§43. He won three battles agains the Fomoraig [or sea-rovers]: the battle of Badbgna in Connachta, of Cnamros in Laigne, of Murbolg in Dal Riada. After that, Nemed died of plague in Oilean Arda Nemid in Ui Liathain. 

§44. The progeny of Nemed were under great oppression after his time in Ireland, at the hands of More, s. Dela and of Conand s. Febar [from whom is the Tower of Conand named, which to-day is called Toirinis Cetne. In it was the great fleet of the Fomoraig]. Two thirds of the progeny, the wheat, and the milk of the people of Ireland (had to be brought) every Samain to Mag Cetne. Wrath and sadness seized on the men of Ireland for the burden of the tax. They all went to fight against the Fomoraig. They had three champions, Semul s. Iarbonel the Soothsayer s. Nemed, Erglan s. Beoan s. Starn s. Nemed, Fergus Red-Side s. Nemed. Thirty thousand on sea, other thirty thousand on land, these assaulted the tower. Conand and his progeny fell. 

§45. So, after that capture, More son of Dela came upon the, with the crews of three-score ships, and they fell in a mutual slaughter. The sea came up over the people of Ireland, and not one of them fled from another, so severe was the battling: none escaped but one ship, in which there were thirty warriors. They went forth, parting from Ireland, fleeing from the sickness and taxation: Bethach died in Ireland of plague; his ten wives survivied him for a space of twenty-three years. Ibath and his son Baath went into the north of the world. Matach and Erglan and Iartach, the three sons of Beoan, went to Dobar and Iardobar in the north of Alba. 

§46. Semeon went in the lands of the Greeks. His progeny increased there till they amounted to thousands. Slavery was imposed upon them by the Greeks; they had to carry clay upon rough mountains so that they became flowery plains. Thereafter they were weary of their servitude, and they went in flight, five thousand strong, and made them ships of their bags: [or, as the Quire of Druim Snechta says, they stole the pinnaces of the king of Greece for coming therein]. Thereafter they came again into Ireland, their land of origin: that was at the end of two hundred and thirty years after Nemed. These are their five chiefs, Gand, Genand, Rudraige, Sengand and Slaine. 

§47. As for Fergus Red-Side and his son, Britain Mael of whom are all the Britons in the world, they took Moin Conain and filled with their progeny the great island, Britannia Insula: till Hengist and Horsa, the two sons of Guictglis, King of the Old Saxons, came and conquered them: and they drove the Britons over the borders of the Island. These are the adventures of the progeny of Nemed after the taking of Conand's Tower: unde the Historian cecinit 

Great Ireland which the Gaedil regulate, 
I tell some of her concerns: 
Great chiefs spear-armed took her, 
of the proud race of Adam. 

From Adam the truly tuneful, the ruthless, 
to the Flood, a tumult that was prepared, 
none warmed her very powerful household 
except Cessair of the fifty maidens. 

Except Bith and Ladru--let us relate it--
Fintan, with darkness of the land, no man found it, 
who revealed the stately superiority of Ireland, 
before the time of the Flood. 

After the Flood of secret going three hundred years, 
whoso relates it, 
he who was a bright crown for deeds of valour, 
Partholon son of Sera, comes. 

Notwithstanding every stately psalm-canon, 
the people of Partholon the sinner--
dead was the whole tally of his household, 
upon the Old Plain, in the course of a week. 

Six fives of years without increase, 
without a guard, it was dark obscurity, 
Desert was every side to the proud sea; 
Not a person took it save Nemed. 

Nemed with wrath (?) of them all, 
with store of feters and valour, 
he possessed the land of the warring of hosts, 
after the destruction of the other companies. 

He used to effect victory without hazards, 
Nemed, with pride and intelligence: 
the son of Agnomain with haughtiness, 
although his troop was weak, it was stately. 

Starn, who fell at the hands of Mac Faebuir, 
Iarbonel the Soothsayer, who was joyous, 
Ainnind with fetters of leather, 
were the three venemous chieftains of Nemed. 

Nemed who paid them in the matter of securities, 
it was a pestilence of fire over a death-doom; 
in his time, with a great noise of rushing, 
there was an outburst--four lakes. 

Loch Munremair, a pleasant sea, 
of broad-ridged, firm fury;
Loch Dairbrech over a hedge of a king (?) 
Loch Cal and Loch Ainnind. 

Vigorously there were dug by his host 
two forts with strength and firmness, 
Raith Cindeich in which he apportioned weapons, 
Raith Cimbaeith in Semne. 

Cleared by him, it was a road of pleasure, 
twelve plains of good eye (-prospect), 
Mag Cera in Connachta of mists, 
Mag Moda and Mag Eba. 

Strong Mag Tochair was cleansed, 
Leemag of the great plain of Muma, 
Mag Bernsa with a mystery of great graces, 
Mag Cuile Tolad, Mag Lughad. 

Mag Sered of drying-up of a river, 
Mag Semne of lightness of colouring, 
Mag Luirg of little darkness of side, 
Mag Muirthemne, Mag Macha. 

The routs--a work to recount them--
which he broke against the warriors of Fomoire of much sharpness; 
the battle of huge Morbole of great sharpness the battle of Badgna, 
and the battle of Cnamros. 

In the territory of Liathan by Muma, 
the dark lord of slaughter died of plague: 
with the rude company of clean grass 
in Oilean Arda Nemid. 

They were not in security as regards oppression--
the progeny which Nemed fertilised--
at the hands of Conaing with hard body 
and at the hands of More son of Dela. 

Two-thirds of their shapely children, 
it was not generous against military weakness--
a lasting tax through ages of the world--
two-thirds of corn and of milk. 

To hard Mag Cetna of weapons, 
Over Eas Ruaid of wonderful salmon,
it was prepared against help, 
against feasting (?) for them, every Samain eve. 

Semeon son of joyful Iardan, 
Fergus pure and generous, an effort of pride, 
Erglan son of warlike Beoan, 
were the three freemen for their hosts. 

The host of Ireland with her troop came--
it was steppings a power--
a warrior-band who had blood through the body, 
westward to the capture of Conaing's tower. 

Conaing's tower with store of plunder 
of a union of the crimes of hundreds of rapine, 
a fortress of assembly of the art 
of the rage of the Fomoire of the sea. 

The men of Ireland after its capture, 
with the great valour of the courses before them, 
of these, tidings of loss, 
none escaped except thirty of the children of Nemed. 

They were not at peace regarding their inheritance, 
that host with great valour of despair; 
of the thirty noble warriors, 
every chieftain went his ways. 

Into the land of Greeks, the remnant of the troop 
went Semeon, it was a road of happiness: 
with wisdom over the pre-eminent division 
went Fergus into Moin Conain. 

Britan Mael son of the prince 
free the multitude of tracks over streams, 
son of Lethderg from Leemag 
from whom are the Britons of the world. 

Bethach under steps of forms of fame 
died in Ireland according to truthfulness: 
his ten wives behind him, 
thereafter, for a space of twenty-three years. 

Hundreds sprang from Semeon, 
the Greeks thought them a numerous legion: 
they were not accepted by the warriors 
but were enslaved by the Greeks. 

This was the order of the chieftains, 
Carrying round bags--it was not fraught 
with fame [of] clay upon a rocky stony mountain 
so that it was a plain rich in flowers and flocks. 

They departed with no treacherous covenant 
upon the wrathful very black sea, 
out of the captivity of hard fosterage 
with ships and with bags. 

These were their names of pride, 
of the kings, spirited, with agility, 
Gann, Genann with choice men of good divisions, 
Rudraige, Sengann, Slanga. 

The seed of Semeon of a row of spear-divisions, 
a deed of pure will of purity of action-deeds; 
The Galioin, men of the very scanty orderings, 
The Fir Bolg and the Fir Domnann. 

Two hundred years, whoso relates it, 
after Nemed, lustrous his deeds of valour, 
till the Fir Bolg took the tuneful land of Ireland, 
from the sea-pool of ocean. 

Their sending, their measuring-out, endures; 
they divided into five, without religion--
without a falling for their slender-sided sept--
pleasant Ireland, from Uisnech. 

Let us give adoration to most righteous Christ 
Who hath subdued the strongest floods; 
His is the world with its generation, 
His is every territory, His is Ireland. 

The capture of Conaing's tower with valour 
against Conaing the great, son of Faebar: 
the men of Ireland came to it, 
three brilliant chieftains with them. 

Erglan son of Beoan son of Starn, 
Semeon son of bitter Iardan, 
before exile went the warrior of the plains, 
the son of Nemed, Fergus Lethderg. 

Three score thousands in brilliant wise 
over land and over water, 
that is the tally who went from home, 
the children of Nemed, to the capture. 

Torinis, island of the tower, 
the fortress of Conaing son of Faebar; 
by Fegus himself, a fighting of valour, 
Conaing son of Faebar fell. 

More son of Dela came there, 
it was for a help to Conaing: 
Conaing fell previously, 
More thought it grave tidings. 

Three score ships over the sea was the tally 
with which More son of Dela came; 
there encountered them before they came to land, 
the children of Nemed with powerful strength. 

The men of all Ireland in the battle, 
after the coming of the Fomoraig, 
the sea-surge drowned them all, 
except thrice ten men. 

Erglan, Matach, Iartacht the noble, 
the three sons of Beoan son of Starn, 
white his girdle, Bethach, Britan after the battle, 
Baath the glorious, and Ibath. 

Bechach, Bethach, Bronal, Pal, 
Goirthigorn, German, Glasa, 
Ceran, Gobran, Gothiam pure,
Gam, Dam, Ding and Deal. 

Semeon, Fortecht, bright Gosten, 
Grimaig, Guillius with cleverness, 
Taman, Turrue, and Glas, 
Feb, and Feran curl-haired. 

Three tens on the tuneful sailing 
went afterwards from Ireland: 
in three they made divisions 
after the capture of Conaing's Tower in the west. 

The third of Bethach the victoriuous, 
tuneful fame, from Toirinis to Boinn: 
it is he who died in Inis Fail, 
two years after Britan. 

The third of Semeon son of noble Erglan 
to Belach Conglais with horror; 
the third of Britan, saith Ua Flaind, 
from that to Conaing's Tower. 

The children of Israel on a journey 
at that time, out of Egypt; 
and the children of Gaedel Glas, 
were a-voyaging to Scythia. 

O Christ fair, with beauty of appearance, 
O King, apportioner of the haven of Paradise, 
Into Thy heaven, famous the place, 
O King of the workd, mayest thou choose me! 

§48. Now as for the Fir Bolg, they brought five chieftains with them, ut dixi supra, to wit, Gann, Genann, Rudraige, Sengann, Slanga: those were the fivce sons of Dela. Their fivce wives next, Anust, Liber, Cnucha, Fuat, Etar: [unde dicitur] 

Fuat, wife of Slanga, you do not think it crooked, 
Etar wife to Gann with valour, 
Anust wife of Sengann of the spears, 
Cnucha who was wife of pure Genann. 

Liber wife of Rudraige of the Road, 
a people sweet, that was not narrow: 
Rudraige, master of wiles, 
I suppose, Fuat was his wife. 

§49. The Fir Bolg separated into three. With Slanga s. Dela s. Loth his third [landed] in Inber Slaine: his Fifth is from Inber Colptha to Comar Tri nUisce; a thousand men his tally. The second third landed in Inber Dubglaisi with Gann and Sengann: two thousand were their tally, Gann from Comar Tri nUisce to Belach Conglais, Sengann from Belach Conglais to Luimneach - that is, over the two Fifths of Mumu. Genann and Rudraige with a third of the host, they landed in Inber Domnann: [whence they are called Fir Domnann}. Genann it is who was king over the Fifth of Medb and Ailell; Rudraige over the Fifth of Conchobor - other two thousand were his tally. Those are the Fir Bolg, the Fir Domnann, and the Gailioin. 

As to the Fir Domnann, the creek takes its name from them. The Fir Bolg - they were named from their bags. The Gailioin, from the multitude of their javelins were they named. 

They made one Taking and one princedom, for they were five brethren, the five sons of Dela s. Loth. And in one week they took Ireland, [though the days were different]. On Saturday, the kalends of August, Slanga landed in Inber Slaine. On Tuesday Gann and Sengann landed. On Friday Genann and Rudraige landed: and thus is it one Taking, though they were differently styled. The Gaileoin, from Slanga were they named. From Gann and Sengann were the Fir Bolg named. The Fir Domnann were named from deepening the earth: they were Genann and Rudraige with their followers. 
For they are all called Fir Bolg, and thirty-seven years was the length of their Lordship over Ireland. The five sons of Dela were the five kings of the Fir Bolg, i.e., Gann, Genann, Rudraige, Sengann, Slaine. 

§50. [Now these men, the Fir Bolg, were the progeny of Dela.] Slanga was the eldest, s. Dela s. Loth s. Oirthet, s. Tribuat s. Gothorb s. Gosten s. Fortech s. Semeon s. Erglan s. Beoan s. Starn s. Nemed s. Agnomain. No king took, who was called "of Ireland," till the Fir Bolg came. 

Nine kings of them took Ireland. Slanga, one year - it is he who died of the Fir Bolg in Ireland at the first. Rudraige, two years, till he died in Brug Bratruad. Gann and Genann, four years, till they died of plague in Fremaind. Sengann, five years, till he fell at the hands of Rindail s. Genann s. Dela. Rindail, six years, till he fell at the hands of Fodbgenid s. Sengann s. Dela in Eba Coirpre. Fodbgen, four years, till he fell in Mag Muirthemne at the hands of Eochu s. Rindail s. Genann s. Dela. Eochu son of Erc, ten years. There was no wetting in his time, save only dew: there was no year without harvest. Falsehoods were expelled from Ireland in his time. By him was executed the law of justice in Ireland for the fist time. Eochu son of Erc fell at the hands of three sons of Nemed s. Badra: he is the first king of Ireland who received his death-wound in Ireland. [Unde Colum Cille cecinit "Dean moresnis a mic,"etc.] 

§51. The Fir Bolg gave them [the Tuatha De Danann] battle upon Mag Tuired; they were a long time fighting that battle. At last it broke against the Fir Bolg, and the slaughter pressed northward, and a hundred thousand of them were slain westward to the strand of Eochaill. There was the king Eochu overtaken, and he fell at the hands of the three sons of Nemed. Yet the Tuatha De Danann suffered great loss in the battle, and they left the king on the field, with his arm cut from him; the leeches were seven years healing him. The Fir Bolg fell in that battle all but a few, and they went out of Ireland in flight from the Tuatha De Danann, into Ara, and Ile, and Rachra and other islands besides. [it was they who led the Fomoraig to the second battle of Mag Tuired]. And they were in [those islands] till the time of the Provincials over Ireland, till the Cruithne drove them out. They came to Cairbre Nia Fer, and he gave them lands; but they were unable to remain with him for the heaviness of the impost which he put upon them. Thereafter they came in flight before Cairbre under the protection of Meldb and Ailill, and these gave them lands. This is the wandering of the sons of Umor. [Oengus son of Umor was king over them in the east], and from them are named those territories, Loch CIme from Cime Four-Heads son of Umor, the Point of Taman in Medraige from Taman son of Umor, the Fort of Oengus in Ara from Oengus, the Stone-heap of Conall in Aidne from Conall, Mag Adair from Adar, Mag Asail from Asal in Mumu also. Menn son of Umor was the poet. They were in fortresses and in islands of the sea around Ireland in that wise, till Cu Chulaind overwhelmed them. 

§52. Those are the kings of the Fir Bolg and their deaths; unde poeta cecinit 

The Fir Bolg were here for a season 
in the great island of the sons of Mil; 
the five chiefs which they brought with them 
from over yonder I know their names. 

A year had Slanga, this is true, 
till he died in his fine mound; 
the first man of the Fir bolg of the peaks 
who died in the island of Ireland. 

Two years of Rudraige the Red, 
till he died in Brug Brat-ruaid, 
four of Genann and of Gann, 
till plague slew them in Fremaind. 

Five years of Sengann--they were reposeful--
till Fiachu son of Starn slew him; 
five others--it was through battle--
Fiachu Cendfhindan was king. 

Fiachu Cendfhindan before all,
his name endures for ever;
whiteheaded all, without reproach,
were the kine of Ireland in his presence. 

Till he fell at the hands of red Rindail,
he got six [years] with his free host;
The grandson of Dela fell then in Eba,
at the hands of Odbgen. 

Four to noble Odbgen till the battle 
of Murthemne of the nobles: 
Odbgen died without reproach 
at the hands of the son of Erc, of lofty Eochu. 

Ten years to Eochu son of Erc, 
he found not the border-line of weakness: 
till they slew him on the battlefield, 
the three sons of Nemed son of Badra. 

Till Rinnal grew, there was no point at all 
upon a weapon in Ireland; 
upon harsh javelins there was no fair-covering, 
but their being rushing-sticks. 

In the time of Fodbgen thereafter 
there came knots through trees: 
the woods of Ireland down 
till then were smooth and very straight. 

The pleasant Tuatha De Danann 
brought spears with them in their hands: 
with them Eochu was slain, 
by the seed of Nemed of strong judgement. 

The names of the three excellent sons of Nemed 
were Cessarb, Luam, and Luachra: 
it is they who slew the first king with a point, 
Eochu son of Erc, in Ireland. 

Thereafter the Tuatha De fought for the Fir Bolg, 
it was a rought appearance. 
They took away their goods 
and their lordship from the Men. 

§53. Fintan cecinit of the division of the Provinces -

The five parts of Ireland 
between sea and land, 
I entreat the fair candles 
of every province among them. 

From Drobais swift and fierce, 
is the holy first division to 
the Boyne white and vast 
south from white Bairche. 

From the Boyne, tuneful and whitely-glowing 
with hundreds of harbours 
To the Meeting with sound of assembled waves 
of the cold Three Waters. 

From that same 
Meeting with nimble ..... 
From the Bel of the brave Cu 
who is called 'glas.' 

From Lumnech of huge ships--
broad its surface--
To Drobais of armed multitudes, 
pure, on which a sea laugheth. 

Knowledgeable prostration, 
pathways are related, 
perfection in the matter of correction 
towards a road into five. 

The points of those provinces 
to Uisnech did they lead, 
Each of them out of its .... 
..... till it was five. 

The progeny of Semeon were all the Gaileoin and Fir Domnann. Thirty years after Genann and Rudraige, the Tuatha De Danann came into Ireland. 

§54. Thereafter the progeny of Bethach s. Iarbonel the Soothsayer s. Nemed were in the northern islands of the world, learning druidry and knowledge and prphecy and magic, till they were expert in the arts of pagan cunning.

Lebor Gabála Érenn: Book of the Taking of Ireland. vol. 4. ed. and tr. by R. A. S. Macalister. Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1941.

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