The Celtic Literature Collective

Of the Qualifications of a Poet
An Irish Canon
The Book of Leinster

Of the qualifications of a Poet in Stories and in Deeds, here follows, to be related to kings and chiefs, viz.: Seven times Fifty Stories, i.e. Five times Fifty Prime Stories, and Twice Fifty Secondary Stories; and these Secondary Stories are not permitted [assigned] but to four grades only, viz., an Ollamh, an Anrath, a Cli, and a Cano. And these are the Prime Stories: Destructions, and Preyings, and Courtships, and Battles, and Caves, and Navigations, and Tragedies, and Expeditions, and Elopements, and Conflagrations.

Here are the Destructions:
The Three Circuits of the House of Lir1
The Posession of Burach's House*
The Destruction2 of the House of Dumha
The Difference of Cathbhad's House*
The Destruction of Nechtain's House3
The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel
The Destruction of Bron mac Bruin's Hostel*
The Destruction of Ua Duilé's Hostel*
The Destruction of Da Choca's Hostel

2. Here are the Preyings:
The Cattle-Raid of Cuailgné
The Cattle-Raid of the Three cows of Echaid4
The Cattle-Raid of Ros*
The Cattle-Raid of Regaman
The Cattle-Raid of Flidais
The Cattle-Raid of Fraích
The Cattle-Raid of Fithir*
The Cattle-Raid of Faílín*
The Cattle-Raid of Gé*
The Cattle-Raid of Dartaid
The Cattle-Raid of Craebain*

3. Here are the Courtships:
Wooing of Medb5
Wooing of Emer
Wooing of Ailbe
Wooing of Etain
Wooing of Faefe*
Wooing of Ferbe
Wooing of Finnine*
Wooing of Grene Finne*
Wooing of Grene Duinne*
Wooing of Saidbe daughter of Sescind*
Wooing of Fithirne & Darine, daughters of Tuathail6
Wooing of the Women of Cruinn
Wooing of Eithne Uathaige daughter of Crimthaind*

4. Here are the Battles:
Battle of Maige Tured
Battle of Talten7
Battle of Maige Mucrima
Battle of Dromma Dólach in which the Picts are defeated*
Battle of Maige Rath
Battle of Coraind*
Battle of Cláire*
Battle of Toíden*
Battle of Temrach*

5. Here are the Caves:
The Cave of Angeda8
The Cave of the Church of Imchummar*
The Cave of Belaig Con Glas*
The Cave of Leac Blada*
The Cave of the Plain of Uatha*
The Cave of the Plain of Imbolg*
The Hiding of the Hill of Howth
The Cave of Loch Lurgan*
The Cave of Dercc Ferna*
The Cave of Crúachan*

6. Here are the Navigations:
The Voyage of Mael Duin
The Voyage of the O'Corra
The Voyage of the Sons of Murchertaig meic Erca
The Exile of Breg Léith*
The Exile of Brecain*
The Exile of Labrada
The Exile of Fothaid*

[7.] Here are the Tragedies:
The Violent Death of Cu Roí
The Violent Death of Cuchulain
The Violent Death of Ferdiad
The Violent Death of Conall
The Violent Death of Celtchar
The Violent Death of Blai Briugad*
The Violent Death of Loegare
The Violent Death of Fergus
The Violent Death of Conchobor
The Violent Death of Fiamain*
The Violent Death of Mael Fatharlaig son of Ronan9
The Violent Death of Tadg mac Cein
The Violent Death of the Son of Saman*

Expeditions, and Elopements, and Conflagrations.

8. Here are the Feasts:
Feast of the House of Fir Blai*
Feast of the House of Bichair*
Feast of the House of Tulchinne*
Feast of the House of Trichim*
Feast of the House of Lí*
Feast of the House of Line*
Feast of the House of Guit*
Feast of the House of Gnaair*
Feast of the House of the Three Sons of Demonchatha*
Feast of the House of Auscle*
Feast of the House of Mell Dolaig*
Feast of Cruachan*
Feast of Emna*10
Feast of Alinn*
Feast of Tara
Feast of Dúin Bolgg*
Feast of Dúin Buchet11

9. Here are the Sieges:
Siege of the Men of Fálga.
Siege of Etair12
Siege of Aichle*
Siege of Dún Bárc*
Siege of Dún Binne*
Siege of the Men of Fidga*
Siege of the Liffey*
Siege of Ladrand*
Siege of Knocklong

10. Here are the Adventures:
The Adventure of Nera
The Adventure of Fiaman*
The Adventure of Cu Roí14
The Adventure of Cuchulainn15
The Adventure of Conall
The Adventure of Conchobor16
The Adventure of Crimthand Nia Náir17
The Adventure of Macha daughter of Áeda Ruaid18
The Adventure of Nectain son of Alfronn*
The Adventure of Ailchind son of Amalgaid*
The Adventure of Finn into the Cave of Dunmore*
The Adventure of Aedain son of Gabrain*
The Adventure of Mael Uma son of Baitain*
The Adventure of Mongan son of Fiachna19

11. Here are the Elopements:
The Elopement of Mugaine with Fiamain*
The Elopement of Deirdre with the sons of Uislenn
The Elopement of Aife daughter of Eogain with Mes Dead*
The Elopement of Naise daughter of Fergusa with Nertachson of O'Léith*
The Elopement of the Women of Gaíeir son of Derg with Glass son of Cimbaetha*
The Elopement of Blathnaite daughter of Puill son of Fidag with Coin Culaind20
The Elopement of Grainne with Diarmait
The Elopement of Muire with Dub Ruis*
The Elopement of Ruthcherni with Cuanu son of Cailchin*
The Elopement of Eirce daughter of Loorn with Muridach son of Eogain*
The Elopement of Díge with Laidcnén*
The Elopement of the Women of Ailella son of Eógain with Fothud Canann21

12. Here are the Massacres:
The Massacre of the Plain of Cé by Gala mac Febail*
The Massacre of Átha Hí*
The Massacre of Dun Dubglaisse*
The Massacre of Dinn Ríg
The Massacre of Dublin*
The Massacre of Dundalk*
The Massacre of the Tower of Conan
The Agreeable Massacre of Néit son of great-great-grandson?*22
The Massacre of Belcon Breifne*23
The Massacre by Cairpri Cind Caitt of the Noble Clans of Ireland.
The Massacre of the Sons of Echaid Feidlech by their father*
The Massacre of Caille Conall*
The Massacre of Donnán of Eg*
The Massacre of Mac Da Thó
The Massacre of the Sons of Magach*
The Massacre of Sidhe Nenta24
The Massacre of Strathclyde*
The Massacre of Sleibe Soilgech*
The Massacre of Rath Rigbaird*
The Massacre of Rath Ruis Guill*
The Massacre of Rath Túaige*
The Massacre of Rath Tuaisle*
The Massacre of Rath Tobachta*
The Massacre of Rath Timchill*
The Massacre of Rath Cuinge*
The Massacre of Rath Cuillend*
The Massacre of Cróchan*
The Massacre of Cathair Boirche*
The Massacre of Rath Blai*
The Massacre of Rath Gaila*
The Massacre of Rath Uillne*
The Massacre of Rath Náis*
The Massacre of Benne Cé*
The Massacre of Rath Granaird*
The Massacre of Rath Búirig*
The Treachery at Scone*25
The Entertainement of Arthur*

It is as Prime Stories these below are estimated: namely Irruptions, and Visions, and Expeditions, and Marches, namely:

The Erruption of Loch Echach*
The Erruption of Loch Erne*

The Vision of the Women of Nemed*
The Vision of Conchobor
The Vision of Conn and the Phantom's Frenzy
The Vision of Fursa*
The Love of Callech Berre for Fothud Canand*
The Love of Dub Lacha for Mongán
The Love of Gormlaith for Niall*

Here are the Expeditions:
The Expedition of Augaire Mór to Italy*26
The Expedition of Dath Í to the Alps27
The Expedition of Niall meic Echach to the English Channel28
The Expedition of Fiachna meic Baítáin to Dún nGuaire29

Progress of Partholon to Ireland*
Progress of Nemed to Ireland*
Progress of the Fir Bolg*
Progress of the Tuatha Dé Danand*
Progress of Míl son of Bile of Spain*
Progress of the Sons of Mil of Spain to Ireland31
Progress of the Picts of Thrace to Ireland*
Progress of the Exile of Fergus from Ulster*
Progress of Muscraigi de Maig Bregoin*
Progress of the Dési to Tara
Progress of the Sons of Echach Mugmedón to Meath32
Progress of Céin to Cashel*
Progress of the Dál Riata to Scotland*

And all that were killed, and wounded, and died. He is no poet who does not synchronize and harmonize all the stories.


1 This is probably the story known as The Children of Ler, as Ler and his retinue move to three different settlements to follow his children, who have been turned into swans.

2 The word used is smutgal, which apparently can mean "smoke", "wisp", and "story", and in this context apparently "destruction"--perhaps by fire?

3 According to d'Arbois de Jubainville, this is an episode from The Boyhood Deeds of Cuchulain

4 A version of The Death of Cu Roí

5 According to d'Arbois de Jubainville, this is part of the Senchus Mór prologue.

6 Short versions of this story are found in both the Acallam na Senórach and the Bórame.

7 Margaret Dobbs identified this with The Progress of the Sons of Mil of Spain to Ireland, which she translated in Etudes Celtique 2.

8 A version of The Adventure of Nera/Cattle Raid of Aingen

9 A version of Fingal Rónáin

10 There is a reference to this in Keating's history.

11 This is the same as the Melody of the House of Buchet

12 Another name for Talland Étair

13 A version of this is known from a poem by Cinaed ua Artacain, LL p. 31, col. 2, l. 7.

14 Maybe a version of The Death of Cu Roí?

15 Tochmarc nEmire

16 Maybe a version of Scéla Conchobair maic Nessa

17 Given in Keating's history

18 This appears as its own episode in Laud 610, while appearing as interpolations in Do fhlathiusaib hErend (Book of Leinster version) and Tochmarc Emere (Stowe MS. 992 fo. 81 a 2)

19 Presumably The Birth of Mongan.

20 Presumably another version of The Death of Cu Roí.

21 A version of Reicne Fothaid Canainne.

22 Orgain Ailig for Néit mac Induí: de Jubainville believed that "mac Induí" was originally "mac in Dagdai", contracted to "induí", which means "great-great-grandson."

23 The story is found in a poem by Cinaed ua Artacain, Book of Leinster, p. 31, col. 2, l.24-25.

24 A version is told in Keating.

25 Lost, but apparently deals with Kenneth mac Alpin's unification of Scotland.

26 The event is mentioned by Keating.

27 A very late version exists; probably related to Aided Nathi

28 Presumably a version of Aided Néill Nóigiallaig maic Echdach Muigmedoin

29 A version of Compert Mongain

30 Many of these are expansions of incidents recounted in the Lebor Gabála Érenn

31 Margaret Dobbs identified this with the text the Battle of Talten

32 This is the same as the Adventures of the Sons of Echach Mugmedón

The Translation is largely that of O'Curry, though I translated the names of the texts in question and noted which are lost (marked by an asterisk) and which are simply varients.

"Do nemthigud filed". Book of Leinster, formerly Lebar na Núachongbála. ed. by R. I. Best and M. A. O'Brien. vol. 4. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1954-1983. p 835-837. URL:

d'Arbois de Jubainville, Marie Henri. Essai d'un catalogue de la littérature épique de l'Irlande, précédé d'une étude sur les manuscripts en langue irlandaise conservés dans les Iles Britanniques et sur le continent. Paris: Ernest Thorin, 1883. URL:

d'Arbois de Jubainville, Marie Henri. The Irish Mythological Cycle and Celtic Mythology. translated by Richard Irvine Best. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1903. URL:,M1

O'Curry, Eugene. Lectures on the Manuscript Mateials of Ancient Irish History. Dublin: James Duffy, 1861. p. 584-593 URL:

Scéla: Hommage à Máol Mílscothach: Catalogue of medieval Irish narratives & literary enumerations. maintained by Štepán Kosík. URL: Last Accessed: April 6, 2009.