The Celtic Literature Collective

The Tidings of Moshaulum

[Here] begins the story of Moshaulium and Mac Con and Luigith.

1. Mill Moshaulum son of Mug Núadat was king over half of Ireland and he was a druid. Sadb daughter of Cond bore sons to Moshaulum. She accepted a fosterson from the Dárine, namely, Mac Con son of Luigde. Others however state in genealogies that Sadb was Mac Con’s mother and that she married Ailill after Lugith’s death while pregnant with Mac Con. It was after that then that she bore Éogan Mór.

2. Luigith and Conn Cétohathach son of Feidlimid were contemporaries. Mill and Art son of Cond were contemporaries also and moreover Mac Con and Éogan were contemporaries.

3. There was a sworn agreement between Luigde and Ailill Aulum and between their descendants after them, that is to say, when the descendants of Aulun held the kingship the judgeship should belong to the descendants of Luigith; when, however, the descendants of Luigith held the kingship the judgeship should belong to the descendants of Aulum. It was Lugaid and Ailill who had made that [agreement] in the presence of Conn Cétchathach. Over one half of Ireland, that is to say, over Leinster and Munster, they held kingship and judgeship. The five sons of Dáre Doimthech <.i. the five Luigiths as we said above> son of Fer Uaillne son of Daigmanair son of Daig Deirgthine son of Núadu son of Luigthine son of Lug Feidlech son of Erimón son of Fidas son of Guss son of Sir son of Madae son of Lug son of Etham son of Mál son of Luigith <from whom is named Loch Luigdech. Fial was his wife from whom is named Tuber Féile> son of Ith son of Nél son of Míl son of Bile son of Breogand son of Bráth <by whom Tor (m)Breogaint was built. The tower and the city were named from the name of the king, for he was king and the eldest among the sons of Mu of Spain> son of Airgid son of Aldót son of Noinde son of Nemnúall son of Fáebar son of Ainge son of Scott son of Glas son of Glúfhind son of Lámfhind son of Agnoman son of Taithe son of Both son of En son of Máer son of Athecht son of Arthecht son of Áoth son of Áor son of Rachaiara son of Srau son of Esrú son of Baath son of Iabath son of Gomér son of Iaféth son of Noé son of Lamiach son of Mathusalém son of Enóc son of Iaróth son of Malalél son of Cainén son of Enos son of Seth son of Adam son of the living God.

4. His druid said to Dáre: ‘Though your sons be excellent only one of them will reign after you, namely Lugaid Laigde; for Dáre Doimthech was king in Tara. He was one of five kings of Tara from Munster and it was through his valour that he had attained the kingship so that his rule, won by much bloodshed(?), might predominate(?), of whom was said in old poems:

Dáre Doimthech poured out 
a draught of blood on every [battle-]rank 
so that he left conspicuous [after him] 
the chronicles(?) of his reign.

Dáre was king over the settled land of Éber’s island
- ploughing after feats of valour-
from Dún (?) Cermna to Srúb Brain, 
from the western ocean to the eastern sea.

5. Of the sons of Dáre, Lugaid alone assumed the kingship. It was he who was king over Munster before Ailill Moshaulum; Ailill after that for thirty years until the finding of the music at Ess Máige, that is [the music of] Fer hÍ son of Éogabul. Of this Lugaid it had been said in old poems:

He was a king, he was a poet, he was a. seer, 
he was a mild judge, a champion in conflict, 
descendant of Sidbalg- peace extending to the boundary-
what he did he did unhesitatingly.

6. It was this Lugaid who was king over Munster when a problem most difficult for judgement was brought from Leth Cuind into Munster and the interrogator (plaintiff?) said to Lugid Laigde <he was a king and a. poet>: Luigid Laigde, hear a statement setting out the truth concerning the facts [of this case]: ‘How may a son be brought into his father’s hereditary property?’ Lugith. replied: ‘The right (testimony?) of a woman who is neither wanton nor [entirely] wise should be proclaimed. She it is who keeps (protects?) what she gives birth to. She it is who knows to whom she consents. She it is who overswears men who have intercourse for the sake of the transports of lust. She [ ] in regard to the death of free and unfree. [Only] such a one as is wise [and] who does not associate her children with those of harlots is capable of proving by oath the paternity of her children, for whoever associates with the really wanton is [herself] wanton’.

7. Afterwards (or after him) Ailill Moshaulum was thirty years in the kingship of Munster. Sadb daughter of Cond was his queen. It was she who had reared Mac Con son of Luigith from his childhood. Ailill’s age was ninety years in all, that is, thirty years before his reign and thirty years reigning and thirty years after his reign. Mac Con it was who deprived him of his kingship and killed seven sons of Ailill’s, his kinsmen, and Art son of Cond, their mother’s brother, in the battle of [Mag] Mucruime. Mac Con’s life-span, then, was thirty years before [his] reign until the finding of the music at Ess Máge and seven years that Mac Con spent in exile in Scotland and thirty years in the kingship of Ireland and six months after coming from Tara. Of this Mac Con Sadb bad said:

It was a difficult task 
to engage Mac Con in equal combat. 
There was none in Ireland so splendid 
except Coirpre Galfii.
It was a difficult course for Mac Con
to come hither, to go over yonder; 
[to journey] far across the sea twice, 
that is what the royal poet has done.

Since he was the descendant of champions 
it was no hardship to Luigith’s only son 
to give battle to the son of Cond 
and the seven sons of Moshaulum.
Mac Con took possession of the land of Banbae 
on every side as far as the bright blue sea. 
He was thirty years, splendid the dignity, 
in the kingship of Ireland.

Again, it was of the music that Sadb had said:

Woe to me today, woe to Clíu,
that Fer hÍ was found in his yew-tree,
so that Art son of Cond 
and the seven sons of Moshaulum died.

8. Ailill dwelt on the top of Cláre and Ailill’s ráth on Cláre is seen from afar and from near by it is not discovered. He and Art son of Cond Cétchathach son of Feidlimid were contemporaries.

9. The sons of Ailill went then to visit their mother’s brother, Art son of Cond, their fosterbrother and kinsman with them, namely, Mac Con son of Luigith, for every second reign belonged to the Dárine. They find a harper before them above at the waterfall, Fer hÍ son of Éogabul on Ath Caille at Ess Máge. There were silver strings on his harp, golden pegs(?) on it. Their war-band breaks up. They wound one another contending for the harper. Nine of Mac Con’s men fell. In return he slew seven of his fosterers’ people. He (Éogan) banishes him from Ireland afterwards and he was in Scotland after the defeat at Cend Abrat. In the battle, after the slaying of his warrior-jester, namely, Do Déra, Mac Con said:

No laugh
escapes [me] since Do Dora died. 
Though I smile I have reasons for grief 
at the loss of the little jester of the Dárine.

10. Later on at the cud of seven years Mac Con came and a host of Britons with him and landed at Insi Mod in the north. Art son of Cond and the seven son.s of Ailill Moshauhum came to meet him to destroy them all. They join in equal combat at Ath Mucraime in the territory of the Connachta, that is to say, seven hundred on either side. Mac Con hid two thirds of his host in the earth <and while he was in Scotland he [had] made seven bags of caltrops>. When the battle stood evenly contested the two thirds of Mac Con’s followers who were in the ground made their appearance. Art son of Cond and the sons of Ailill were defeated by Mac Con. Art and Ailill Moshauhum’s seven sons fell there in that battle and Mac Con held the kingship of Ireland for thirty years after that. It is of that battle that Sadb daughter of Cond spoke the quatrain:

It was an evil hour for me, evil for Clíu, 
that Fer hÍ was found in his tree; 
so that Art son. of Cond 
and the seven sons of Mosauhum died.

Of Mac Con’s rule has been sung the famous quatrain:

Mac Con took possession of the land of Banbae, etc.

11. Mac Con and the old king Moshaulum made peace after Mac Con’s coming from Tara with his migratory band and his leaving his kingship in the possession of Cormac son of Art. Mac Con makes a feast for him and Ailill resolved in his mind to slay Mac Con. Sadb did not allow that and she brought him a warning, for Mac Con was dearer to her than her seven sons. She told him not to converse with Ailill at all. It was after that that Mac Con set out with his people into Desmumu that he might entrust his defence to the sea (?), as Cessirne, Cond Cétchathach’s poet, had prophesied:

Your noble descendant[s] will depart to the margins of the sea-bed,
and moreover he had fewer followers than Ailill.

12. Mac Con approached his senior to bid him farewell. He put his face to his face. Ailill deliberately(?) thrust his tooth into Mac Con’s cheek so that he might die within three days. Then Sadb said to Mac Con: ‘What is the blood that is on your face?’ said she. ‘Not difficult [to say]’, said Mac Con, ‘Ailill’s tooth has touched me’. ‘A defence against the tooth!’ said she, ‘it does not affect him [but] it is a danger to you. It is the tooth of a wolf that has lacerated you’. It was of that she said:

This is the tooth by which a king falls, 
the venomous tooth has wounded you. 
Your appearance has begun to be distorted; 
alas the final leave-taking!

Go home. 
Take your retreating company(?) to the sea. 
You will be heavily defeated;
one day an attack will be made on you.

13. With his host and Macnia and his four sons, namely, Dau and Trien and Echu Badamnae and Lugith Lámfhota, and Áed Dub’s war-band and Cathmol son of Erp and Find grandson of Baíscne and Usine and Cailte Camchoss he set out for Desmumu towards the sea <it is as a result of this journey that he left a grandson of his in Cil mBrocholl, that is, [the name of] a spring. It is beside it that the burial-place of Mac Con is>, and [ ] Mac Con with his vassals and Mac Con’s wife there, namely, Dáríne daughter of Ded son of Sen. The number of Mac Con’s host was thirty companies and thirty hundreds in each company.

14. Ailill sent word to Bregon to Ferchess son of Commán- Nad Seches was his nickname-a veteran warrior and an old household retainer of Ailill’s. Then he sent Ferchess on the track of Mac Con’s migratory force to slay him in the midst of his host. He comes past Comat after it and overtook it in Ráith Úa nEchach on the king of Raithlend’s fair-green. It was then Find said through the imbas for-osnai: ‘A man in pursuit’, said he. ‘Warriors would be glad [to fight] against a number’, said Mac Con. ‘A man in pursuit’, said Find. ‘Any small number is easily slain’, said Mac Con. Fercbess lays an ambush(?) with his spear in his hand (or beside him) [facing] across the glen from the east westwards after them and he chants a spell over the spear and said: ‘Rinc[n]e marinc[n]e past [his] follower set upon [the] blemished king between two namesakes’. Thereupon Ferchess launched the spear from his hand and it pierced Mac Con in his chariot and to this day his memorial stone is in the place where he was slain.

15. Find grandson of Baíscne went on the track of Ferchess to avenge Mac Con, for Find was his champion, and he slew him at the end of seven years at Lind Ferchis on the Banda when he found the wood-shavings that Ferchess had loosed upon the stream. Others say that it was in Ess Máge that Ferchess was killed. Seven years afterwards to the day Find slew him.

16. It was there that Finn had said through the imbas for-osnai:

Here [will lie] Ferchess in [his] resting-place, 
in Ess Máge [will come about] his subjugation. 
The warrior-champion (Mac Con) has fallen 
soon after great deeds. 

I swear to my god of lordly beauty
the oath of one pronouncing sentence, 
a deed of slaughter will be avenged, 
Mac Con was slain here.

[This is] the story of Mac Con and Ailill up to this.

17. It was after the slaying of Mac Con that Ailill had said:

I was thirty years without strength, 
old and decrepit, 
until the cast of Ferches son of Commán 
raised me out of my affliction.

18. Thereafter he was restored to strength and Mac Con died of his wound within a day and he died in Col Rophut and it is there his grave is, that is to say, his grave was a great crime, that is, his death was a great wrong, etc.