Finnerty O'Finnerty Clans of Eire

Finnerty, O'Finnerty Clans of Ireland

Fionnachta Legends, Myths & Tales

   

Table of Contents [scroll down to your selection]

1. Aillen of the Tuatha de Danann Sidhe Finnachaidh

2. People of the Goddess Dana  Sidhe Finnachaidh [ near Tara]

3. Finnachta in the Battle of Cill Ua nDaighre

4.  Cellachan of Cashel- Finachta of Leney Conacht [ related to O'Hara and O'Gara]

5.  Finnachta of the Teeth-The Battle of the White Strand [ Finn McCool]

 6.   Nuala of the Dagger - O'Fynaghty's Daughter [Clan Conway]

7.   Colloquy with the Ancients- Finnerty Kings of Leinster and Connacht

8.  A Poem on the Kings of Connaught [Finnerty ancestors annotated]

9.  The Fionnachta Trilogy - author: Richard  Finnerty

     a.  The Snowcross of Fionnachta [a tale       based on historical characters]  

     b.  not complete

   

 Aillen of the Tuatha de Danann out of Sidhe Finnachaidh

The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland,

 

 

 

Gods and Fighting Men   [Lady Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory, 1859-1932]

with a preface by W. B. Yeats London, J. Murray [1904]

Part II Book I The Coming of Finn [extract] Finn fights Aillen of the Tuatha de Danann Sidhe Finnachaidh

Every year, now, at Samhain time, for nine years, there had come a man of the Tuatha de Danaan out of Sidhe Finnachaidh in the north, and had burned up Teamhair. Aillen, son of Midhna, his name was, and it is the way he used to come, playing music of the Sidhe, and all the people that heard it would fall asleep. And when they were all in their sleep, he would let a flame of fire out of his mouth, and would blow the flame till all Teamhair was burned.

The king rose up at the feast after a while, and his smooth horn in his hand, and it is what he said "If I could find among you, men of Ireland, any man that would keep Teamhair till the break of day to-morrow without being burned by Aillen, son of Midhna, I would give him whatever inheritance is right for him to have, whether it be much or little."

But the men of Ireland made no answer, for they knew well that at the sound of the sweet pitiful music made by that comely man of the Sidhe, even women in their pains and men that were wounded would fall asleep.

It is then Finn rose up and spoke to the King of Ireland. "Who will be your sureties that you will fulfil this?" he said. "The kings of the provinces of Ireland," said the king, "and Cithruadh with his Druids." So they gave their pledges, and Finn took in hand to keep Teamhair safe till the breaking of day on the morrow.

Now there was a fighting man among the followers of the King of Ireland, Fiacha, son of Conga, that Cumhal, Finn's father, used to have a great liking for, and he said to Finn "Well, boy," he said, "what reward would you give me if I would bring you a deadly spear, that no false cast was ever made with?" "What reward are you asking of me?" said Finn. "Whatever your right hand wins at any time, the third of it to be mine," said Fiacha, "and a third of your trust and your friendship to be mine." "I will give you that," said Finn. Then Fiacha brought him the spear, unknown to the sons of Morna or to any other person, and he said "When you will hear the music of the Sidhe, let you strip the covering off the head of the spear and put it to your forehead, and the power of the spear will not let sleep come upon you."

Then Finn rose up before all the men of Ireland, and he made a round of the whole of Teamhair. And it was not long till he heard the sorrowful music, and he stripped the covering from the head of the spear, and he held the power of it to his forehead. And Aillen went on playing his little harp, till he had put every one in their sleep as he was used; and then he let a flame of fire out from his mouth to burn Teamhair. And Finn held up his fringed crimson cloak against the flame, and it fell down through the air and went into the ground, bringing the four-folded cloak with it deep into the earth.

And when Aillen saw his spells were destroyed, he went back to Sidhe Finnachaidh on the top of Slieve Fuad; but Finn followed after him there, and as Aillen was going in at the door he made a cast of the spear that went through his heart. And he struck his head off then, and brought it back to Teamhair, and fixed it on a crooked pole and left it there till the rising of the sun over the heights and invers of the country.

And Aillen's mother came to where his body was lying, and there was great grief on her, and she made this complaint--

"Ochone! Aillen is fallen, chief of the Sidhe of Beinn Boirche; the slow clouds of death are come on him. Och! he was pleasant, Och! he was kind. Aillen, son of Midhna of Slieve Fuad.

"Nine times he burned Teamhair. It is a great name he was always looking for, Ochone, Ochone, Aillen!"

And at the breaking of day, the king and all the men of Ireland came out upon the lawn at Teamhair where Finn was. "King," said Finn, "there is the head of the man that burned Teamhair, and the pipe and the harp that made his music. And it is what I think," he said, "that Teamhair and all that is in it is saved."

Then they all came together into the place of counsel, and it is what they agreed, the headship of the Fianna of Ireland to be given to Finn. And the king said to Goll, son of Morna "Well, Goll," he said, "is it your choice to quit Ireland or to put your hand in Finn's hand?" "By my word, I will give Finn my hand," said Goll.

And when the charms that used to bring good luck had done their work, the chief men of the Fianna rose up and struck their hands in Finn's hand, and Goll, son of Morna, was the first to give him his hand the way there would be less shame on the rest for doing it.

And Finn kept the headship of the Fianna until the end; and the place he lived in was Almhuin of Leinster, where the white dun was made by Nuada of the Tuatha de Danaan, that was as white as if all the lime in Ireland was put on it, and that got its name from the great herd of cattle that died fighting one time around the well, and that left their horns there, speckled horns and white.

Pronunciation and Place Names

THIS is the approximate pronunciation of some of the more difficult names

Eochaid Eohee.

Fionnchad Finn-ãch-a.

Note regarding the

  pronunciation of Sidhe Finnachaidh. It seems the place name Finnachaidh would be pronounced Finn-ãch-a or Finn-ãch-ee. The origin of the place-name was not found.

A related story follows 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

People of the Godess Dana

 

[Note This story is taken from W.Y. Evans Wentz's "The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries.

 " There was also another of these fairy timp‡n -players called 'the wondrous elfin man',

'Aillen mac Midhna of the Tuatha De Danann, that out of sidh Finnachaidh to the northward used to come to Tara the manner of his coming being with a musical timp‡n in his hand, the which whenever any heard he would at once sleep. Then, all being lulled thus, out of his mouth Aillen would emit a blast of fire. It was on the solemn Samain-Day (November Day) he came in every year, played his timp‡n, and to the fairy music that he made all hands would fall asleep. With his breath he used to blow up the flame and so, during a three-and-twenty years' spell, yearly burnt up Tara with all her gear.' And it is said that Finn, finally overcoming the magic of Aillen, slew him. "

NOTE Sidhe Finnachaidh, (now called Sliabh Fuaid) near Tara, Co. Meath. The Faery Lord Aillen Mac Midhna used to come out of this mound every Samhain to cause havoc at Tara, where he burnt the roof with his fiery breath and caused the warriors to fall into an enchanted sleep when he played his Faery music. He was finally killed by Fionn Mac Cumhail who was protected against his magic by an enchanted spear.

From "LIR God of the Sea:"  Associated with Sidhe Fionnachaidh is present day Sliabh Fuaid near Tara in County Meath.

 

 

 

 

 

Finnachta in the Battle of Cill Ua nDaighre

This historical tale is just one of many battles that show the Viking, Dane influence in Ireland had waned significantly prior to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. It is interesting to note that Leinster is allied withe the Danes in this battle as they were in 1014.  King Aedh Finnliath, son of Niall began his reign as Monarch of Ireland in 860 AD and ended it in 876 AD. He was also known as King of Tara, died 879. He was a Northern Hy-Niall and had been King of Aileach in Ulster. 

 He was opposed by Flann, son of Conaing the King of Breagh, Mag Breg, the plain of Brega, in modern County Meath, County Louth and County Dublin. Flann was a Southern Hy-Niall and was supported by the men of Leinster and foreigners. King of Connacht, Conchobhar, son of Tadh M'or reigned as King from 848-879 and with his relative Finnachta supported the Monarch Aedh.

 

  ANNALS OF THE FOUR MASTERS reports of the battle:

M866.10 Flann, son of Conaing, lord of all Breagh, collected the men of Breagh and Leinster, and the foreigners, to Cill Ua nDaighre,---five thousand was the number of his forces,---against the king [of Ireland], Aedh Finnliath. Aedh had only one thousand, together with Conchobhar, son of Tadhg Mor, King of Connaught. The battle was eagerly and earnestly fought between them; and the victory was at length gained, by dint of wounding and fighting, over the men of Breagh, the Leinstermen, and the foreigners; and a slaughter was made of them, and a great number of the foreigners were slain in that battle. There were slain therein Flann, son of Conaing, lord of Breagh; Diarmaid, son of Ederscel, lord of Loch Gabhar; and Carlus, son of Amhlaeibh, i.e. son of the lord of the foreigners. There fell on the other side Fachtna, son of Maelduin, Righdhamhna of the North, in the heat of the battle. Mannachan, lord of Ui Briuin Na Sinna, slew Flann; of which was said:  

Great the triumph for Mannachan,

for the hero of fierce valour,

To have the head of the son of Conaing in his hand,

to exhibit it before the face of the son of Tadhg.

M866.11 It was of the chieftains of the Sil Muireadhaigh [of Connacht] who came to the battle of Cill Ua nDaighre, the following was composed

Though every one should judge adversely,

it is on his full false oath

These are the eleven men  [ Note:These are probably of the "12 Great Lords of Rath Cruachain."

who went into the battle to guard him.

There went into the battle to assist therein Finnachta and Follamhain,

Maenach,---good was the disposition of the horseman,---

and Tadhg, son of Tomaltach;

Flannagan, beauteous chief of the cavalry,

and the comely Mughroin, grandson of Cathal;

Mannachan, good was his mind,

and Aidit, grandson of Maelmichil.

The poet of Aedh said before the battle

There comes over the bright Finnabhair

a pleasant brownhaired host, across the noble, rapid stream.

It is in hundreds the Foreigners are counted,

to fight with the great King of Etar.

Aedhcecinit

Good our cause, good our expedition,

the strength of a hundred heroes in our body;

Rise ye up, accomplish valour,

kill the herd along with the boar.

A certain poet cecinit

At Cill Ua nDaighre this day,

the ravens shall taste sups of blood,

A victory shall be gained over the magic host of the Foreigners,

and over Flann; it will be no good news to him.

M866.11 Aedh cecinit

The troops of Leinster are with him,

with the additional men of the rapid Boinn;

What shews the treachery of Flann

is the concord of the Foreigners by his side.

Aedh cecinit

Put ye the venom of your tongues upon him,

upon the narrow hearted son of Dubhsagh;

Mighty is our standard, Christ protects us

in the pass of danger in which we are.

Of the same battle was said

Know ye what did

the intelligent son of Niall of Oileach,

The fair Aedh, with slaughter,

southwards at Cill Ua nDaighre?

Ten hundred in the grave,

by direct computation;

In the battle which happened,

five thousand were defeated.

Loisin, the poet of Flann, said this

Monday, the day of terror,

we went to Bealach Natha.

The men of Findruine were slaughtered;

dear were the well-known faces.

The mother of Flann, the daughter of Niall, said this

Happiness! Wo! Good news! Bad news!

The gaining of a great triumphant battle,

Happy for the king whom it makes joyous;

Unhappy for the king who was defeated.

Unhappy for the host of Leath Chuinn,

to have fallen by the magic host.

Happy the reign of the great Aedh,

and unhappy the loss of Flann!

The mother of Flann again

The fire, fire which the son of Conang made of the plain!

I beseech the king, who protects every place,

to strengthen the mother who bore him.

  

 

 

 

 

 Cellachan of Cashel 

[Finnerty extracts]

The History of Ireland, by Geoffrey Keating, D.D., Volume III, containing the second book of the History, edited with translation and notes by Rev. Patrick S. Dineen, M.A., London Published for the Irish Texts Society by David Nutt. 57-58 Long Acre (1908223-233).

Comments by Kevin L. Callahan are enclosed in [brackets].[The Inauguration of Ceallachan as the King of Munster]

XXII.

"It was in the reign of Donnchach son of Flann Sionna, king of Ireland [an Ui Niall from Ulster and an enemy who participated in the unsucessful Viking attempt to have Ceallachan killed], that the following events took place. For it was in the beginning of his reign that Ceallachan, son of Buadhachan, who is called Ceallachan of Cashel held the sovereignty of the two provinces of Munster ten years. Now Cinneide [Kennedy, father of Brian Boru and a rival], son of Lorcan, came to Gleannamhain to an assembly of the nobles of Munster before Ceallachan was inaugurated, and Cinneide sought to come between Ceallachan and the sovereignty of Munster. But Ceallachan's mother came from Cashel, for it was there she dwelt with her tutor, Patricks comhorba [successor of Saint Patrick], and coming into the assembly she asked Cinneide to remember the agreement come to between Fiachaidh Muilleathan and Cormac Cas [second century kings of southern Ireland ] that the descendants of both should alternately inherit Munster [the southwestern province of Ireland], and this is expressed by this stanza on the womans words

Remember, 0 pleasant Cinneide.

The agreement of Fiachaidh and Cormac Cas!

How they left Munster to be shared

Justly among their fair offspring.

And as a result of the womans discourse Cinneide left the sovereignty of Munster to Ceallachan. [Note: Cinneide, or Kennedy was the ancestor of King Brian Boru.]

[The treachery of Sitric and the Vikings]

After this the Lochlonnaigh [Norwegians, Danes, Vikings] seized on Ceallachan by treachery, and the siol Eoghain and the Dal gCas rescued him in spite of them. But when Ceallachan and the Munster nobles had defeated the Lochlonnaigh in many battles and had driven them out of Munster, Sitric, son of Turgesius, who was their leader, hit upon the plan of arranging a match with Ceallachan, to wit, to give him his own sister Beibhionn, daughter of Turgesius, to wife, and to allow him to possess free the two provinces of Munster, without retribution or claim respecting them on the part of the Lochlonnaigh; in order that when Ceallachan should go under his own protection to marry his sister, himself and all the Munster nobles who were with him might be slain; and he communicated the secret of this plot to Donnchadh, son of Flann, king of Tara, who was at enmity with Ceallachan through his not having paid him the rent for Munster, and hence he consented to Sitrics carrying out his treacherous design on Ceallachan and the Munster nobles. Thereupon Sitric sent envoys to Ceallachan to give tidings of the match, and when they came into his presence, what he proposed to do was to take a large host with him when going to marry the lady. "That is not right," said Cinneide, son of Lorcan, for it is not right to leave Munster without defence and what thou shouldst do is to leave a force to hold Munster and to take four score lords sons with thee on going to marry the lady."

And this was the counsel they adopted. And as Ceallachan was going on this journey; the night before he arrived in Ath Cliath [Viking Dublin], Mor, daughter of Aodh, son of Eochaidli, daughter of the king of Inis Fionnghall, wife of Sitric, asked why he was making a match with Ceallachan, seeing he had slain so many Lochlonnach nobles. "It is not for his good this match is arranged by me," he answered, "but with a view to practising treachery against him."

[Mor's warning to Ceallachan]

At these words the lady started, as she had been long secretly in love with Ceallachan from the time she saw him at Port Lairge [Waterford]; and she rose early the next morning and went secretly along the path on which she thought Ceallachan was coming; and when he came up to her she took him aside and informed him of the plot which Sitric was hatching against him in order to kill him; and when Ceallachan thought of returning he was unable to do so, as the fields on either side of the road were full of companies of Lochlonnaigh ambushed for the purpose of capturing him. As he made an effort to return they sprang upon him from all sides, and a body of nobles who were with him were slain, and these in their turn slew a number of the Lochlonnaigh. But the bulk of the host bore down on Ceallachan and there captured himself and Donn Cuan, son of Cinneide, and they were taken to Ath Cliath [Viking Dublin] as prisoners, and thence to Ard Macha, where nine Lochlonnach earls with their detachments detained them.

[The land and sea forces sent to rescue Ceallachan]

As to the company of Munster nobles who escaped from this conflict, they proceeded to Munster and told the news to Cinneide, who thereupon got ready two hosts to go in quest of Ceallachan, that is, a land force and a sea force, and he made Donnchadh, son of Caomh, king of the two Fearmaighes, leader of the land force, and Cinneide proceeded to encourage him, telling him that eleven of his ancestors were kings of Munster, to wit, Airtre, Cathal son of Fionghaine, Fionghaine son of Cathal, Cu gan Mhathair, Cathal who was called Ceann Geagain, Aodh., Flann Cathrach, Cairbre, Criomhthann, Eochaidh, and Aonghus son of Natfraoch. Besides, Cinneide sent ten hundred of the Dal gCais along with him with three Leaders over them, to wit, Coscrach, Longargan and Conghalach, as says the poem Let twenty hundred go northwards.

Here is the stanza of this poem which quotes the words of Cinneide

Let Coscrach, of the battles, go there.

And Longargan, the lovable,

Let Conghalach. from the lake, go;

I mean my three brothers.

Moreover, Cinneide [father of Brian Boru] sent thither five hundred more of the Dal gCais with Sioda, son of Sioda of the clann Cuilein, and five hundred more of the Dal gCais with Deaghaidh, son of Domhnall, besides the fighting men that went thither from the other free-born tribes of Munster. The second great force he sent by sea with Failbhe Fionn, king of Desmond, as their leader.

NOTE: The following describes the joining of the forces of Munster-men from present day counties Mayo and Sligo.  They were of the Clans O'Hara & O'Gara; and O'Fionnachta who can all be found in ancient genealogical tracts

As to the land-force they proceeded from Munster to Connaught; and they sent skirmishers to Muaidh and to Iorrus and to Umhall to bring cattle preys to the Munster camp, and the camp were not long waiting for the return of the skirmishers when they saw a host in good array approach them, and their numbers was ten hundred. and a single youthful warrior at their head; and when they came up, Donnchadh, son of Caomh, asked what force was that. "A body of Munstermen," he replied, "to wit, the Gaileanga and the Luighne of the race of Tadhg son of Cian, son of Oiliil Olom, and the men of Dealbhna, of the race of Dealbhaoth, son of Cas, son of Conall Eachhiaith, who are giving you a helping hand through brotherly sympathy in opposing the foreigners and in rescuing Ceallachan from them. And there are three valiant leaders at the head of this force, to wit, Aodh, son of Dualghus, having all the Gaileanga under him, Diarmaid, son of Fionnachta, having the Luighnigh under him, and Donnchadh, son of Maoldomhnaigh, at the head of the men of Dealbhna; and as a testimony of this is the historical poem which begins with this stanza

The clanna Cein are there,

And the Dealbhaoith all together

Coming to the hosting [expedition],

And they will fight on your side.

Note The three clans; Dealbhna, Luighnigh, and Gaileanga are descended from Cian, son of Ollioll Ollum, King of Munster. They are related to the O'Carrolls and O'Meachairs of Ely [Tipperary], and O'Hara & O'Gara of Mayo & Sligo. Their reason for transplanting to county Connaught is undiscovered.

Now this host was thus constituted. Five hundred of them had swords and shields, and five hundred were archers. The Munster host and this force who had come to help them proceeded thence to Tir Chonaill and they spoiled the country. Muircheartach, son of Arnaladh, came to Donnchadh son of Caomh, and asked him to restore the cattle preys with good will; and Donnchadh replied that he would only give him what remained of the preys after the hosts had been satisfied. Upon this Muircheartach left the host and sent envoys secretly to the sons of Turgesius to Ard Macha informing them that the Munster host were in quest of Ceallachan and intended to rescue him.

[The expedition and battle to rescue Ceallachan]

As to the sons of Turgesius, they set out from Ard Macha, nine earls with their host of Lochlonnaigh, and Ceallachan and Donn Cuan with them as prisoners. And the Munster host proceeded to Ard Macha and slew all that came in their way of the Lochlonnaigh, and when on the next day they heard that Sitric and his host had gone to Dun Dealgan with Ceallachan they set out in pursuit of them, and when Sitric observed them coming near the town he himself and his host betook themselves to their ships, having Ceallachan and Donn Cuan with them, and the Munster host came on the verge of the strand in front of them and held a parley with the Lochlonnaigh. And thereupon they saw a large fleet approach them in the harbour, and the Munstermen knew that it was Failbhe Fionn and his fleet that were there.

Failbhe and his fleet proceeded by direct route to meet the Lochlonnaigh, and he made an attack on the ships in which were Sitric and Tor and Maghnus, and he boarded Sitrics ship, having a sword in either hand, and set to cutting the ropes that bound Ceallachan to the mast, with the sword that was in his left hand, and set Ceallachan free, and let him down on the ships deck, and then gave Ceallachan the sword he held in his left hand. Ceallachan went from Sitrics ship to that of Failbhe; and Failbhe continued to hew down the Lochlonnaigh until they overpowering him, slew him and cut off his head. Fianghal, a leader of his followers, took his place in the conflict, and seizing Sitric by the breast by force, cast both of them overboard, and they went to the bottom and thus were drowned.

Seaghdha and Conall, two other leaders, came on and seized Sitrics two brothers, to wit, Tor and Maghnus, and threw them overboard, so that the four were drowned in that manner. And in like manner acted every other company of the Gaels [Irish]; they sprang on the Lochlonnaigh and broke them up, made gaps through them, slew them, and threw them into disorder, so that there escaped from them only a few who were saved by the swiftness of their ships, and they went on land with Ceallachan who had thus been rescued from Lochlonnach captivity by the valour and prowess of the Munstermen; and thence they proceeded to Munster with Ceallachan, and he resumed the government of his own country.

And as they were setting out from Ath Cliath for Munster, Murchadh son of Flann, king of Leinster [the southeastern province of Ireland], sought to give them battle for having slain so many Lochlonnaigh in rescuing Ceallachan from them. But when they saw how brave and valiant the Munstermen were, they allowed them to pass without giving them battle,

XXIII.

But when Ceallachan returned to Munster he considered how severely the Lochlonnaigh oppressed Munster, and he himself and the nobles of Munster resolved to attack them with a view to banishing them; and they first made a sudden attack on Luimneach, and Ceallachan and his host slew five hundred of them and took away hostages from them. After this he plundered Corcach and brought hostages and treasures therefrom. He also plundered Cashel, and three hundred Lochlonnaigh were slain there. Thence he went to Port Lairge [Waterford] and took possession of the town and plundered it, and he inflicted a severe defeat on Sitric, son of Iomhar, and slew five hundred of his people; and Sitric himself took flight in his fleet; and Ceallachan returned to Domhnall Ofaolain [Whelan], king of the Deise, and gave him his own sister Gormfhlaith, daughter of Baudhachan, to wife. Soon after that Ceallachan died, . . . " (Keating 1908223-

  

 

 

 Finnachta of the Teeth

The Battle of the White Strand

Adapted By Chuck Larkin Bluegrass Storyteller

Once in olden times, a long time ago, so long ago no ones remembers. But `twas in the days of the Iron Age warriors...

The creatures of the high air answered to the coming of a battle, foretelling the destruction that would be done on that day.

And the earth shook forecasting the slaughter.

And the sea chattered the losses.

And the waves were weeping for the warrior children, daughters and sons of Ireland who would perish.

And the sea beast roared the names of the heros, to one another.

And the rough hills trembled with the danger of battle.

And the woods sighed, mourning those who would fall.

And the grey stones began praising the battle deeds to be done.

And the wind still sobs when whispering the story's re-telling.

And when that dawn arose, natures cries put a cloak over the sun and darkened the sky.

The hounds, their whelps, the crows, the powers of the earth and air, the wolves of the forest, all howled from every quarter as the Fianna warriors, wrapped in a dense mist, rising from Macha's earth, rose up against the invading grey army of the king of the world.

Let me tell you about the Fianna warriors. To be a Fianna warrior, man or woman, you had to know by heart, twelve books of poetry. Man or woman, you had to pass incredible feats of athletic skill and trials of courage.

And on that fateful day, the Fianna, under the battle chieftains Sebay and her mate Finn McCoul; Finn McCoul, the greatest warrior since the days of Cu Cuhoolin. Finn the Poet. Finn the bard. Finn the Druid trained warrior. It was under these battle chieftains, the Fianna rose up together and went out to battle.

And like thick woods meeting each other, the Fianna and the attacking Outlanders they made great strokes on each other.

And there were swords crashing against bones, bodies that were hacked, and eyes that were blinded.

And many a mother was left without her child.

And many a warrior without their hart's love.

And the armies of the world and the Fianna were fallen, side by side.

The great Seanachai, the storyteller bard, Fergus of the true lips called to Finn. "Since the armies met together to-day, no warrior of the foreigners or the fighters of Ireland, took a step backward from one another. They fought 'till they all fell, foot to foot and sole to sole.

And there is not so much as a blade of grass or a grain of sand to be seen without the bodies of warriors stretched out on them.

Your wife Sebay, your daughter Bebi, your son Fia, your step-son Insin have finished their circle of time and have gone on to Tier Na Nog. No warrior is fit to stand but Kelta of the Fianna and Finnachta of the teeth, who is carrying off to his ship the body of the king of the world."

Finn McCoul sat in his own bed of blood. For Finn, that fateful day, had fought Ogarmach, daughter of the King of Greece. And that warrior woman and Finn had attacked one another for a long time, without quarter, before sorely wounded, Finn had reached her, at last, with a death blow.

"Kelta! It is I, Finn. Although it was bad for the armies of the world it was worse for ourselves and for Ireland, now defenseless. And Finnachta of the teeth, is crying out that he will carry the tale of our deaths and Ireland's wounds to the Eastern armies of the world."

And Kelta walked to the sea.

And Kelta swam the waves.

And Kelta reached the ship. Finnachta of the teeth, thinking he was one of his own, stretched out his hand.

And Kelta clasped his fingers round it.

And Kelta gave a great pull.

And they went down together, in each others arms, to the sand and gravel of the sea.

Then from the wood came the old, the bards, the healers of the Fianna, to search out and bury the fallen heros and heal those who could be healed.

And Sheela, warrior wife of Kelta, herself covered with terrible battle wounds, came with the others to seek her comely comrade.

And Sheela heard again, the stag in the wood.

The stag was still making great lamentations for his hind from place to place. For they had been nine years together.

And the stag was 18 days without tasting grass or water lamenting for the hind.

And Sheela saw the crane, in the distant marsh, fighting with, then loosing her battle, now lamenting her nestlings, lost to the fox.

And Sheela seeing this and hearing that said, "It is no wonder, I to have such love for my sweetheart, as the bird in that distress has for her nestlings. It is no shame for me, to die for my grief after Kelta, for is not the stag shortening his life sorrowing after the hind?

And the waves, singing their mournful lament, put Kelta back on the beach.

And Sheela came to where he was, knelt down and touched his brow.

And Sheela keened him and cried this lament.

"The harbor roars. Oh, the harbor roars. Over the rushing waves, the keening rushing waves. Morning the drowning of my love, my warrior hero.

Sweet voiced is the crane. Oh, sweet voiced is the crane in the marshes of the ridge, for the wild dog of two colors has taken her little ones.

Pitiful the cry. Oh, pitiful the cry the thrush is making in the pleasant ridge. Sorrowful is the cry of the blackbird for the fallen Fianna warriors.

Sorrowful the call. Oh, sorrowful the call of the deer for the doe is dead. Sorrowful to me. Oh, sorrowful to me the death of the hero that lay beside me with grass under his head. Sore to me. Oh, sore to me, Kelta to be dead besides me. The waves have gone over his white body, it is his pleasantness that has put my wits astray.

A woeful shout. Oh, a woeful shout the waves are making on the beach.

A woeful crash. Oh, a woeful crash the waves are making on the beach, breaking against the smooth rock crying after Kelta now he is gone.

A sorrowful fight. Oh, a sorrowful fight the sea is making with the beach, my beauty is lessened, the end of my life is measured. A song of grief. Oh, a song of grief is made by the waves, since Kelta is drowned. I will love no one after him forever. Many of Ireland's foes fell by our hand, our shields never cried out in the battle."

Then Sheela laid herself down beside Kelta and died for grief for him.

Fergus of the true lips had them buried in one grave and the huge warrior Kreedy raised the great stone over them. A stone that still stands in our day.

And after that great battle of the white strand, Ireland at last, stood united, safe but there were many a sword and shield left broken.

And many a warrior left with the foolish smile of death on their face.

And Bridget, our Mother wept for her children.

And it is said that Finn and the surviving Fianna warriors after that terrible time were led by Bridget to the land of the Sidhe into a great cave where they sleep.

And it is said that once a Blacksmith man found a cave with a great door.

And with his ancient power formed a key and entered.

And it is said he found ancient lad and lassie warriors asleep.

And it is said that on the wall, hung Finn's hunting horn, to be blown thrice, when Ireland needed the Fianna, so read the attending runes.

And it is said that the Blacksmith gave two blast on the horn and the warriors rose to one elbow, but he feared the third and fled casting the key into the water. The Fianna returned to sleep.

And it is said that Finn has been seen in battle dress in the misty clouds calling out when it was a time to rise and stand in a band to resists a new king of the world. And if you should ever be a wandering around Erin and happen to come across a key and cave, go in, blow that horn three times and the Fianna will rid Ireland of the dark forces of any crown with wooden hearts of twisted thorn sheathed with iron.

 

 

 

Some History and then a story: 

O'Finachta Clan Conway from the Annals

Nuala of the Dagger of the Finaghty's

 

The Age of Christ, 1530. He (O'Donnell) destroyed and devastated by fire the territory of Clann-Conway; he also burned Glinsce and Cill-Cruain, the towns (castles) of Macdavid; and he obtained great spoil in these countries. Glinsce, now Glinske, a town land containing the ruins of a beautiful castle, in the parish of Ballynakill, barony of Ballymoe, and county of Galway.Cill-Cruain, now Kilcrone, an old church giving name to a townland and parish in the barony of Ballymoe. The castle of Kilcrone stood near the high road, a short distance to the west of the old church of Kilcrone. It is said to have been the residence of a celebrated heroine called Nuala-na-meadoige Ny-finaghty, the mother of David Burke, the ancestor of Mac David Burke of Glinske.

The founder of this family was Sir David, the son of Rickard Finn [deBurgo], by Nuala, the daughter of O'Finaghty, through whose treachery he obtained the territory of Clann-Conway, which was O'Finaghty's country. Some say the Finnertys of Dunamon and West Balllymoe were driven off. This seems highly unlikely as Rickard Finn Burke is historically known to have escaped England and came to Ireland as a lone knight who after wandering a bit offered his services to King Roderick O'Connor. The King was involved in a conflict with Leinster King Dermott Mac Murrogh who later brought the Anglo-Norman armies to Ireland. Burke saved King Roderick from defeat in th Battle of Lanesborough in County Longford and the king owed him a favor and publicly offered the next available barony. O'Finachty of Clan Conway was aging and had a younger wife. Some say she poisioned or stabbed her husband to death. Others say Burke married the daughter of O'Finaghty. Burke was reluctantly give the patrimony of Clan Conway by King Roderick. It is unclear whether Burke married the wife or daughter or which one killed O'Finachty, or whether Burke was part of the conspiracy.

Note: Because Rikard-Finn Burke had no army or comrades with him, and his sons  being of O'Finachta blood maternally, the editor speculates that the residents of Clan Conway became McDavid Burkes by conversion after the marriage. Other Irish territories taken by fire & sword by the Anglo-Norman Burkes assumed the name of the conqueror, such as Canricard [Burke]. Griffith's Valuation does not show a single Finnerty in Clan Conway.

__________________________________________________________________

The following story may be a myth loosley based on the historical tale discussed above. There appear to be inaccuracies regarding the lineage of the McDavid Bukes.  

Nuala of the Dagger

 From "The Book of Irish Curses," by Patrick Power [Mercer Press, Cork -1974]. The source is the Folklore Commission Ms 79 page 364.Nuala Burke, nicknamed Nuala na Midoige -- Nuala of the Dagger is the subject of an interesting story from the Williamstown area on the borders of Counties Roscommon and Galway.

The Burkes were descended from the Norman de Burgo family who settled in Galway and Mayo in the twelfth century. They were known by Gaelic names-Mac Liam Uachtar and Mac Liam tochtar. Nuala of the Dagger was the last one of the many off-shoots of the Burkes.

She earned her nickname, it is said, by stabbing her twelve sons to death. Eventually she was left a widow and although she owned three castles, she spent the last of her days in an island castle called Corlough. She used to visit the mainland stealthily at night and steal food. She solemnly cursed, anyone who dared take even a stone from any of her castles for building. As a result, her castles were not interfered with and she was allowed to live her furtive existence, although her murders could have brought her to the gallows.

Nuala died when she visited a house on Hallowe'en and took some colcannon which had been left on the window-sill of a house for the spirits. The housewife had poisoned the food and this was the end of Nuala. She succeeded in dragging herself to her little boat and rowing out to the island-castle where she died. People whispered about the fact that the ferocious widow had the strength to dig her own grave under the castlewalls, which fell on the grave when she was dead and filled it!'

Williamstown is in the area of Glinsk Castle, reportedly the last castle built in Ireland, and a sister castle to Dumanmon Castle, the seat of O"Finaghty of Clan Conway, supposedly among the longest occupied castle in Ireland.

 

 

 

 

A Poem on the Kings of Connaught

Author [unknown] (2003)

Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

Text ID Number T105013Sources Manuscript sources. 1. MS. Rawlinson B 502 (facs. p. 165)

p.463    

Of the Kings of Connaught this below.

1. Man that art going to the plain of Maeve,

let thy tale be mindful of the story!

I spread over every pleasant tribal land

the names of the kings of fair Cruachan.

2. Fifty-eight kings - far it has been heard -

were in high-kingship since the Faith

from Amalgaid [Awly] whose fame poets spread

down to Domnall son of Tigernan [O'Rourke].

3. Amalgaid son of Fiachra the Fair,

after him Ailill ruled;

after Ailill Molt without gentleness

Dui Galach was in the high-kingship.

4. Eogan Bel ruled for a time after his father,

before Ailill;

Ailill the Womanly was king

after the death of Eogan of great honour.

5. Thereupon after Ailill,

Dui Tenga seized the kingship;

after Dui - famous he was, and warlike -

came Eochu Dryflesh, the choice man.

6. After Eochu,

Feradach the fair ruled, a true judge;

after the son of Ross of the slaughter

came Maelcothaid son of Maelumai.

7. After Maelcothaid the fair, the spear-armed,

Aed Abrat son of noble Echu ruled;

after Aed Uatu

a son of Aed Abrat seized it.

8. Colman son of Conchobor the fair

ruled after the son of Aed lof sacred honour;

after Colman whom he had slain in battle

Rogallach the king seized it.

9. After Uatu's son - loud was his war-cry! -

Longsech son of Colman ruled

after Longsech - a great name! -

Guaire of pure Aidne succeeded.

10. After Guaire, who would suffer no treachery,

ruled Cenn Faelad the truly comely;

after the son of Colman, 'twas a famous tale!

Dunchad the rich of Muiresc.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

p.465

11. After Dunchad, the bearded, the valiant,

Cellach the brilliant son of Rogallach,

after Cellach without reproach

came the reign of Fergal son of Artgal.

12. After Fergal who prepared attacks,

Muredach son of Murgius;

then - noble he was and father of many children -

came the comely king Indrechtach.

13. After the son of flaming-red Dúnchad, Cathal - he was a leader of

great hosts -

the good and perfect son of Muredach,

seized the kingdom,

an inheritance which was not his by right.

14. Domnall, great Cathal's son,

ruled after his father;

after the death of Domnall without discord

Indrechtach the son of Muredach.      [Ancestors of Finnerty of Clan Murchada

15. Cathal son of Murgius the great,         of the Champions]

ruled immediately after that,

king of Irros Domnann, the flame,

Domnall son of Cathal of the hundreds.

16. Indrechtach, a noble pilgrim,

son of Muredach, greater than any prince;

after him - 'tis no wonderful fiction -

King Aed the Dumb united them under his sway.

17. After Aed, who ruled us with dignity,

Fergus son of Cellach ruled;

after the death of Fergus the fair

came an excellent king, Ailill.

18. Dubinrecht son of Cathal the prince

ruled for a while after Ailill,

after him - he did not find tribulation -

came Donn Cothaid the warlike and handsome.

19. After Donn Cothaid Flathroi seized the kingship,

far as the wall of the land

after the son of Domnall - he was a bold rider -

came a battle-king of strife, stern Artgal.

20. Tipraite son of Tadg ruled

after Artgal of the rough blade,

thereafter the flame found hardship,

Muirgius the Great, son of Tomaltach.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

p.467

21. Diarmait came after Muirgius the good and great,

who obtained each fair host through agreement,

a high-king over strong hosts,

the sturdy son of Tomaltach of Tailltiu.

22. Cathal son of Muirgius, a diadem,

succeeded Diarmait of the sweet songs,

after Cathal the fair,

Murchad son of Aed the beloved was my companion.  [Ancestor of Finnertys of

23. Fergus son of Fothad - behold! -                       Clan Muchada of the Champions]

came after the son of Aed; he was wise;

after Fergus the Great without folly

Finnachta the puissant of Luibnech.          [possibly Saint Indreachtach Ua

24. Conchobar, a beloved visitor,                   Finnachta of Iona]

after the rule of the man of Formael

after the death of the prince of fair Fobar

Aed son of Conchobar ruled.

25. Cathal son of stern Conchobar came

after the death of red-browed Aed,

king of the bards from Céis that loved me,

Tadg ruled after his father.

26. Fergal son of Ruarc from the Rige succeeded,

who seized all the country round through battle-rage,

after the death of Fergal

Conchobar the noble, the cleaver of hostile ranks, obtained it.

27. Cathal son of Tadg came here

after Conchobar of the combats,

better the time without spoil,

the rule of Cathal son of Conchobar.

28. Tadg son of Cathal, commemorate him to me!

seized the kingdom after his father's death,

after Tadg, the rover round Codal,

Art grandson of Ruarc of the royal seat.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

p.469

29. After Art the Fair of the land of Codal,

Aed grandson of Conchobar ruled

'twas straightforward kingship,

a choice rule of justice.

30. Aed son of Art after the other Aed,

seized on Sart of lasting valour;

after him - a battle-king he was here -      [Ruaidri maternal grandfather of

Ruaidri son of Aed was with us.                 Finachta of Clan Murchada of

31. Domnall son of Tigernan the Silent            the Champions]

after the son of Aed the ever-fresh;

king of the Domnainn over the living Braine

was another Domnall, Ruadri's son.

32. Since Nathí seized it at his house,

or Ailill of the strong frame,

there did not seize on Cliu of the alliances

any man who was equal to Tairdelbach.

33. Tairdelbach, chief of Tulach Óg,

he is the sea across every level road,

Oh God, may he uplift us,

the high prince of fair-haired Erin!

34. Grandson of Conchobar of the enclosure of Céis,

after each king of ever-new grace,

bright white-handed warrior-king,

may the noble hero live long here below!

Note Muredach King of Connacht had four sons.  Three sons Conway, Inreachtach, and Conchobar all had Finnertys in their descendancies. King Finnachta the puissant of Luibnech descended from Inreachtach as did King Ruaidri, and also Murchada who gave his name to the Finnertys of Clann Murchada of the Champions. Murchada's descendant married the daughter of King Ruadri and their son was named Finnachta. Conway gave his name to the Finnertys of Clan Conway who along with the Finnertys of Clann Murchada were two of the Twelve Great Lords of Rath Cruachan.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINNERTY EXTRACTS FROM 

The Colloquy with the Ancients

 

Translated by Standish Hayes O'Grady

The following extracts deal with a fictional

journey by St. Patrick and the survivors

of the Fiana Clan Baoise; and meetings

with two Finnachta Kings of

Connacht and Leinster.

When the battle of Comar, the battle of Gowra, and the battle of Ollarba had been fought, and after that the Fianna for the most part were extinguished, the residue of them in small bands and in companies had dispersed throughout all Ireland, until at the point of time which concerns us, there remained not any but two good warriors only of the last of the Fianna Ossian son of Finn, and Caeilte son of Crunnchu son of Ronan (whose lusty vigour and power of spear-throwing were now dwindled down) and so many fighting men as with themselves made twice nine. These twice nine came out of the flowery-soiled bosky borders of Slievefuad [county Armagh] and into the lughbarta bana, at this present called lughmadh [angl. 'Louth'], where at the falling of the evening clouds that night they were melancholy, dispirited.

Caeilte said to Ossian then "good now, Ossian, before the day's end what path shall we take in quest of entertainment for the night?" Ossian answered "I know not, seeing that of the ancients of the Fianna and of Finn's people formerly but three survive I and thyself, Caeilte, with Camha the she-chief and she-custodian that, from the time when he was a boy until the day in which he died, kept Finn son of Cumall safe. With Camha therefore they got hospitality for that night; their names she enquired of them and [at their sound] wept vehement showers of tears; then she and they, each of the other, sought to have tidings.

Forth of the town they came now, and out upon the green; there they took a resolve, which was this to separate, and this parting of theirs was a sundering of soul and body. Even so they did for Ossian went to the sidh of ucht Cleitigh, where was his mother Blai daughter of Derc surnamed dianscothach [i.e. 'of the forcible language']; while Caeilte took his way to inbher Bic loingsigh, which at the present is called mainistir droichid atha [i.e. 'the Monastery of Drogheda'] from Beg loingsech son of Arist that was drowned in it the king of the Romans' son namely, who came to invade Ireland; but a tidal wave drowned him there in his inbher, i.e. 'inver' or estuary. He went on to linn Feic, i.e. 'Fiac's Pool,' on the bright-streaming Boyne; southwards over the Old Plain of Bregia, and to the Page 2 rath of Drumderg where Patrick son of Calpurn was.

Just then Patrick chanted the Lord's order of the canon [i.e. Mass], and lauded the Creator, and pronounced benediction on the rath in which Finn mac Cumall had been the rath of Drumderg. The clerics saw Caeilte and his band draw near them; and fear fell on them before the tall men with their huge wolf-dogs that accompanied them, for they were not people of one epoch or of one time with the clergy.

Then Heaven's distinguished one, that pillar of dignity and angel on earth Calpurn's son Patrick, apostle of the Gael, rose and took the aspergillum to sprinkle holy water on the great men; floating over whom until that day there had been [and were now] a thousand legions of demons. Into the hills and 'skalps,' into the outer borders of the region and of the country, the demons forthwith departed in all directions; after which the enormous men sat down. Page 6Patrick said "know ye why ye are brought to confer with me?" "In sooth we know it not," they answered. "To the end ye should make obeisance [i.e. conform] to the gospel of Heaven's and of Earth's king the Very and the most Glorious God." Then and there the water of Christ's Baptism was by Patrick sprinkled on them preparatory to the baptism and conversion of all Ireland.

Then [with his right hand] Caeilte reached across him to the rim of his shield, and gave to Patrick a ridgy mass of gold [taken thence] in which were three times fifty ounces this as a fee for the baptism of the nine with him. He said "that was Finn's, the chief's, last wage to me and, Patrick, have it thou for my soul's and for my commander's soul's weal." Page 19 Patrick with his people set out, and away they came from the southward through mid-Munster, past luimnech uladh, into fidh na gcuan which is called 'Cratlow;' into sliabh aidhid in righ, into sliabh Echtge or 'the mountain of Echtge' daughter of Nuada Silver-arm; by cuaille Chepain in Echtge the place in which Cepan mac Morna fell; past loch na bO girre which is called loch Greine or 'the loch of Grian' daughter of Finn; into the brecthir, which at this time is called tir Maine, i.e. 'the land of Hy-Many' or 'O'Kelly's country;' past loch linnghaeth which is called loch crOine. There Muiredach More mac Finnachta king of Connacht was, expecting Patrick; whose tent was now spread over himself with his clerics. The chiefs of Connacht's province came then, made obeisance to Patrick, and laid their heads in his bosom. Note unable to locate site where Patrick met Muiredach. Lock Graine is in county Clare to the south of Sliabh Echtge which lies in south Galway, just north of the Clare border. Unable to locate Loch crOine. To return to Muiredach mac Finnachta, king of Connacht, he had a beloved son Aedh mac Muiredach. At this juncture a goaling match was promulgated by the young lads of Connacht, and upon them Aedh mac Muiredach without assistance won six goals. He sat down after it, an access of grave and fatal sickness took him, and there he died. This was told to his people and to his mother Aeife, the king of Ulster's daughter. By the women of the province outcry of woe was made on account of the youth's demise; and his mother prescribed to lay him in the bosom of the Tailchenn [St. Patrick] in his bosom namely to whom God had granted all Ireland, and power of benefitting all that were in her. But the king of Connacht said "such action were in my sight most reprehensible, unless indeed to the Saint himself as well it were acceptable."

Then out of the tent in which the king of Connacht was with his attendants (the dead also being there with a fringed mantle thrown over him, and indued with a soft crimson hood) a message was sent to fetch Patrick. His mother, his three condisciples and his sister, said that they must die of grief for him [lit. 'of his grief']; which when saint Patrick heard he had compassion, and his heart yearned towards them.

A basin of pale gold was brought to the cleric now, with its fill of water in it; he blessed the water, and it was transferred to an exquisite cuach of fair silver. The holy cleric went, raised the soft crimson hood, and into Aedh mac Muiredach's mouth poured three drops of the water; at the third drop of which he rose sound and whole, drew his hand across his face, and got out of bed. At this the whole concourse were joyful and of good cheer, and believed in God; they laid their heads in Patrick's breast, and invested him with all power ____them, and they sit down by Patrick and by Caeilte.

Then Muiredach mac Finnachta questioned Caeilte "whence is rath Ghlais applied to this rath?" "I will tell you," Caeilte said "it was Glas, son of Drecan king of Lochlann, that with a force numbering twenty-five battles came to win Ireland's royal power; the point at which they arrived being the cathair [i.e. 'cahir' or 'stone fort'] of Damh dilenn, now called dœn rosarach. Now at this particular season Finn mac Cumall was in Almha of Leinster." Here Muiredach enquired of Caeilte "why was the place named Almha?" Caeilte replied "a warrior of the tuatha de Danann that lived in the teeming glittering brugh, Bracan was his name, and he had a daughter that was still a virgin her name was Almha. Cumall son of TrenmOr took her to wife; in bearing him a son she died, and this green-surfaced tulach was closed in over her. From her therefore it is designated now; whereas until then it had been tulach na faircsena, i.e. 'the look-out hill.' Or else it is that Almha was his name that had it in Nemhed's time. Or yet again it is that there Nuada the magician made a fort and place of strength, from which fortalice he produced an almha or 'herd of kine,' whence Almha [the place-name]."

Page 23 "Well hast thou told that tale, Caeilte," said Muiredach mac Finnachta.

Page 27 "And what was that event?" "A great household that the king of Ireland-that Cormac son of Art-had ten score sons of kings (of whom was none but was a king's son and a queen's as well), and at ros na righ north-east of ath na BOinne or 'the Boyne's ford' they used to be." "What ros is that?" queried Patrick. " Ros cailledh (for of every kind of tree there are a thousand there), and there these youths had a vast and regal mansion; but their victual was never otherwise than served out and brought to them from Tara. One night accordingly there they were after banquetting and enjoying themselves; their beds were spread for them, and so they remained for the night.

"But now came the chief steward of Tara in the morning, (Binne ... he was), to speak with the king of Ireland's son that was in the bruidhen; the house was opened before him, and how were they but all dead. Hence then we understood that the True and most Glorious God existed the One that hath dominion and power over us all." Caeilte said then Town of the kings-ros Temrach i.e. 'Tara's wood'-there 'tis that many a time a great household was; upon its slopes with their smooth sward throngs of men and horse-herds were in numbers. Ten score so stately sons of kings made up that household worshipful; an equal complement of women it was that were there to furnish forth the same. Thus, O noble and pure Patrick, this was no long-drawn destruction; for all together and at once they passed away-that company that lived in the one town."

"Which ten score men, and women as many, were buried in that tulach, and therefore from that time to the present its name is cnoc an dir or 'the hill of slaughter.' As for the wood in which they had dwelt, before their [i.e. the other people's] faces the earth swallowed up the entire ros; and by this means we apprehended the King of Heaven and of Earth."

"Victory and benediction, Caeilte!" cried Patrick.

Then Caeilte said "holy Patrick, my soul, I hold that tomorrow it is time for me to go." "And wherefore goest thou?" "To seek out the hills and bluffs and fells of every place in which my comrades and my foster-fellows and the Fian-chief were along with me; for I am wearied with being in one place." There they abode that night; next day they all rose, Caeilte laid his head in Patrick's bosom, and the Saint said "by me to thee, and whatsoever be the place (whether indoors or abroad) in which God shall lay hand on thee, Heaven is assigned."

Then Muiredach mac Finnachta, king of Connacht, went his way to exercise his royal rule and regimen; Patrick also went his to sow faith and piety, to banish devils and wizards out of Ireland; to raise up saints and righteous, to erect crosses, station-stones, and altars; also to overthrow idols and goblin-images, and the whole art of sorcery. Page 38Conall questioned Caeilte "wherefore was this cairn styled carn Gairbh daire?" which query Caeilte answered, for he it was that knew how "a warrior of trust to Finn mac Cumall that was here, Garbhdaire mac Angus, son of the king of Munster in the south; and as he hunted one day he killed thrice fifty stags, as many does, and as many boars.

They of the country and of the land saw him; they set on him and violently deprived him of his game, of the produce of his chase, while of them he slew three hundred men of war. The denizens closed in about him and converted him into 'an apple on spear-points,' so killing him. But we, the three battalions of the Fianna, came up to avenge him; we emptied the whole country, killed its three kings, and others of the inhabitants made good their escape into islands-

"By spacious Eoghan's race Garbhdaire is slain upon the strand; fifty warriors here we slaughtered all in vengeance of Garbhdaire.

"Now he it is that with his panoply complete is within this cairn; in whose possession was Lugh mac Eithlenn's chain also that used to confine the captives of Milesius' sons and of the tuatha de danann." Conall said "we would fain have these arms." "If it so please thee be the cairn dug into presently," answered Caeilte. "Not so, but to-morrow be it opened; for night is here, and in the same 'tis carousal and enjoyment that shall occupy us." Hereat they came and entered into the great bruidhen; Caeilte with his people was ushered into a retired and sequestered house apart, and there they were well ministered to. Now she that was spouse to Conall was Bebhionn, daughter of Muiredach mac Finnachta king of Connacht, and Conall said to her "good now, woman

be it long or be it short that Caeilte shall be here, be rations for ten hundred given to him daily; also be eight score kine put into a fenced grass field over against him, the same to be milked every night for him."

There they abode throughout that night, and on the morrow proceeded to Garbhdaire's cairn. It was excavated, and Lugh mac Eithlenn's chain was found; the shield also was found perfect and whole, even as it had been deposited by his side. The weapons were brought up, and the warrior's head within which the biggest man of the assembly found room in sitting posture. Conall said "my soul, Caeilte, it is a huge head!" "Huge and good

as well was he that wore it," Caeilte answered; and the weapons he made over to Conall, but reserved the chain to give it to Saint Patrick. After which the tomb was closed again. Page 41 They went up into the ridge, and there saw the boar with nine tusks growing from each jaw of him. At sight of the colossal hounds and men the beast screamed, while in his presence a certain horror and fear overtook these. "Be it left between me and the swine," said Donn, "for whether I live or die is all one!" Caeilte said "a hero's privilege is that thou claimest." Donn addressed him to the boar therefore; but as the creature charged him Caeilte dealt it a spear-thrust from one armhole to the other, and in such wise it perished by them. Until Conall's contingent came to fetch the boar they could not convey him from the spot; but then he was brought into the presence of Conall, who said "'tis a huge swine." "True," said Caeilte "this is the muc shlangha or 'prophylactic pig,' in respect of just such another as which it was that the war and feud of clan-Morna and of clan-Page 42

Baeiscne came about."

Not long they were there before they saw seven that came towards them. "Whence come ye, young men?" asked Conall son of Niall. "We are come from Calpurn's son Patrick, from Finn's son Ossian, and from Dermot son of Cerbhall, to fetch thee and Caeilte." The latter said "after my hunting I indeed am impotent to go thither to-day; but thou, Conall, go and bear with thee yonder presents for Patrick, the goblet that was Finn's; the craebghlasach-Finn's sword-for Cerbhall's son Dermot, king of Ireland; for the same king too (seeing that 'tis the prophylactic swine) the boar which but now is killed, so that all may see it, and the king divide it to them both high and low." Even so was the whole thing carried out first of all the sword was put into the hand of Donn mac Aedh mac Garadh mac Morna, Caeilte saying "until such time as thou reach the king of Ireland, both profit and peril of the sword all rest on thee, young man!" Conall himself took the escra for Patrick, the slaves bore the pig, and they progressed as far as cnoc uachtair Erca or 'upper hill of Erc,' which at this time is denominated Usnach. When they came up where should Patrick be but on Usnach's summit, with Dermot son of Cerbhall on his right hand, and on his left Ossian son of Finn, beside whom sat Muiredach mac Finnachta, king of Connacht; by him again was Eochaid leithderg king of Leinster, and next to him Eoghan derg mac Angus king of Munster's both provinces, who thus [for they sat in a circle] touched the king of Ireland's right hand.

Now came Conall mac Neill, laid his head in Patrick's bosom and made genuflexion to him. Dermot the king said "come hither, Conall"; but he answered "rather is it in Patrick's presence I will be [to serve him], so that as here on Earth so too in Heaven 'tis he shall be my superior." Patrick made answer "regal power I convey to thee, and that of thy seed thirty kings shall reign; my metropolitan city and mine abbacy moreover I make over to thee, and that thou enjoy all whatsoever I shall have out of Ireland's five great provinces."

Into Patrick's hand Conall put the escra of gold, and said "thine own friend, Caeilte son of Ronan, it is that hath given thee that gift." "By my word he is a friend," Patrick said, and passed the escra into the king of Ireland's hand. Long time the king scanned it, then said "never have we seen precious thing more excellent than this escra; and thou, Ossian, consider it well whose it may have been." "It was my own father's-Finn mac Cumall's-and he gave it to one that was a wife to him to Berrach Brec, daughter of Cas Cuailgne, whom the sons of Morna slew. I hold it for a certain thing," he went on, "that he who got this found the second best treasure also that was in Ireland or in Scotland where then is the craebghlasach, Finn's sword?" "Here I have it for the king of Ireland,"

answered Conall, "and 'tis a good recognition thou hast made; go, Donn, deliver it to the king of Ireland, for 'tis to him that Caeilte hath assigned it." Donn placed the sword in Ossian's hand, and as he did so it was seen that the weapon's hilt filled his own grip [i.e. fitted it exactly]; whereupon Ossian said "that the sword fills thy grasp is a wonderment

Morna." "Whence art thou [i.e. what is thy descent], young fellow?" asked the king of Ireland. "I am Donn son of Aedh son of Garadh son of Morna." "By my word thy father and thy grandfather were good," quoth Ossian "deliver now the sword into the king of Ireland's hand." "What is the sword's fee, king of Ireland?" asked Donn.

"What fee seekest?" "thou Ireland's Fian-chiefry, even as my grandfather's brother Goll mac Morna had it." "If Ossian and Caeilte license it, it shall be thine." "Aye do we," Ossian consented, "for my license is Caeilte's; and the office is kind to Donn, of whose stock seven chiefs have held the high Fian-leadership of Ireland and of Scotland."

"'Tis thus I confer it on thee," said the king "nor tax, nor tribute whether of gold or of silver, such as was paid to every royal Fian-chief before thee, to be yielded thee in virtue of it; but privilege of Ireland's chase and venery to be thine." Then Donn took pledges and sureties for it, and for a score and seven years filled Ireland's and Scotland's high Fian-chiefry up to the time namely when Dubh son of Dolar slew him in the battle of Cuire beyond in Scotland.

Page 69 Now along with Patrick was one that to Muiredach mac Finnachta king of Connacht was an Oglaech attached to his person Corc mac Dairine, son of the king of corca Dhuibhne or 'the barony of Corcaguiney' in Kerry, and he said "Caeilte, my soul, there is a question I would fain put to thee why is a certain wave called tonn Chliodhna or 'of Cleena,' and another one tonn Teide or 'of Teide'?" Caeilte said then

"It was an Oglaech of trust that Finn had Ciabhan, son of Eochaid Red-weapon king of Ulidia in the north; and he was so that, as the moon in her twelve provinces exceeds in brilliance all stars of heaven, even such was the measure in which for form and feature that young man outshone all kings' sons in the world. With him the Fianna grew to be discontented however, the cause of their discontent being this among them was no woman, mated or unmated, that was not in love with him. Finn renounced him therefore; yet was he loath to have him go, only that for the greatness

Page 70 of their jealousy he feared the Fianna of all Ireland.

said Ciabhan, 'would ye give him a berth in the currach?' 'Wert thou all alone we would do so,' they answered. 'Come now, Ciabhan,' his people said, 'is it Ireland thou hast a mind to leave?' 'Even she it is,' he replied, 'for in her I find neither shelter nor protection.' Ciabhan stepped into the currach and bade farewell to his men, who were gloomy and discouraged for to part from him they felt to be a divorcing of soul and body; then with the two young men in the boat he ratified amity and friendship.

"Now rose at them white and bellowing waves, ins

Ciabhan went his way accordingly, and to tragh an chairn or 'strand of the cairn' (which now is called tragh na dtreinfher or 'strand of the strong men') in the province of Ulidia, between dœn Sobhairce or 'Dunseverick' in Antrim and the sea. There he saw a high-prowed currach having a narrow stern of copper, and in it two young men that wore each one a robe wrapping him to his shoulders. Ciabhan salutes them and they return it 'whence are ye, youngsters?' he asked them. Says one of them

'I am Lodan the king of India's son, and yonder other is Eolus son of the king of Greece; the sea has drifted and the wind driven us, nor know we what land or what race of the world at large is that in and among which we are.' 'He that should fancy to sail the sea with you,' omuch that each huge ocean billow of them equalled a mountain; and that the beautiful variegated salmon wont to hug bottom sand and shingle touched the currach's very sides; in presence of which phenomena horror affected them, and fear and affright, Ciabhan saying 'by our word and verily, were it but on land we were we could whether on battle-field or in single combat make a good fight

for ourselves.' In this great extremity they continued until they saw bear down on them an Oglaech having under him a dark-grey horse reined with a golden bridle; for the space of nine waves he would be submerged in the sea, but would rise on the crest of the tenth, and that without his breast or chest wetted. He enquired of them 'what fee would ye give him that should rescue you out of this great strait?' They made answer 'is there in our hand the price that is demanded of us?' 'There is so,' said the warrior 'that yourselves be by conditions of service and of fealty bound to him that should so succour you.' They consented and struck their hands into the Oglaech's.

"This done he drew them all three to him out of the currach on to the horse, abreast and alongside of which the boat on its beam ends swam till they came into port and took the beach in tir tarrngaire or 'the land of promise.' There they dismounted and went on to loch luchra or 'loch of the pigmies,' and to Manannan's cathair or stone fort in which an end was just made of ordering a banquetting-hall before them. All four of them were served then their horns, their cuachs, their cups were raised; comely dark-eyebrowed gillas went round with smooth-polished horns; sweet-stringed timpans were played by them, and most melodious dulcet-chorded harps, until the whole house was flooded with music.

"Then there appeared a set of long-snouted spur-heeled lean-hammed carles, foxy and bald, full of ribald quips, that in Manannan's mansion used to practise games and tricks, one of which was this to take nine straight osier-rods and (the while they stood on one leg and had but one arm free) to dart them upward to rafter and to roof-tree of the building, he that did this catching them again in the same form. The purpose for which

building, he that did this catching them again in the same form. The purpose for which they practised this was the putting to shame of such free-born scions of noble race as out of far foreign borders from time to time arrived there. On the present night therefore the Page 71 performer, according as previously he was wont, executed his feat and, coming to Ciabhan then (for in form and gait, as in fame, he excelled all such as both of tuatha de danann and of Milesius' sons were in the house of Manannan), put the nine rods into his hand. Ciabhan stood up and before Manannan and all chiefs of the land of promise did the trick as though that had been his one and only study always. He handed the things to Eolus son of the king of Greece, who promptly and accurately achieved the matter, passed the implements to the king of India's son Lodan, and in like wise he too managed it.

"Now in the land of promise Manannan possessed an arch-ollave that had three daughters Cliodhna or 'Cleena,' Aeife and Edaein Fair-hair, the tuatha de danann's three treasures of spinsterhood and chastity, whom in fact it was not to be feared that aught else but pernicious effects of continence would ever kill. Yet upon our three warriors these at the one instant cast their affections, and appointed to elope with them on the very next day. To meet said three the girls sought the landing-place, where the king of India's son Lodan and Eolus son of the king of Greece [with their damsels] got into one currach, Ciabhan son of Eochaid imdherg and Cleena entering another. From this point they sail away to tragh Theite or 'Teite's strand' in the south of Ireland, a spot on which that name was conferred thus it was Ragamain's daughter Teite bhrec or 'the freckled,' that with thrice fifty young women resorted thither for 'a wave-game' [i.e. surf-riding], and they all were drowned; whence tragh Theite.

Page 75 Hard by them now they saw a brugh with a fenced field of grass; in it a youth affable and of distinguished presence, and in the pasture-field before him thrice fifty horses. Patrick approached the stripling, who rose before him, and the Saint said "a king's supporters be about thee and appertain to 'the man of thy place' [i.e. thy representative]; what name hast thou?" "I am Muiredach, son of Tuathal mac Finnachta king of this country." "What is that mansion which we perceive?" asked Patrick.

"That of a hospitaller belonging to the king of Leinster's people Coscrach na gcet or 'Coscrach of the hundreds' is his name." "Why is that name imposed on him?" "His stock and herds it is not possible to number until they be reckoned by hundreds." As regards Caeilte he took his way to cloch na narm or 'the stone of arms' to the southward of the dwelling the spot where yearly the Fianna practised to grind their weapons upon a certain great mass of stone; and he standing there over the stone wept copious very lamentable tears as he remembered the great and brave company which many a time had stood over it along with him. But he had not been there long before he discerned a single Oglaech that came towards him around him was a crimson mantle with a brooch of gold in it; he wore the semblance of a good man and had a princely port, smooth curling hair too; and before Caeilte well knew it the young man sat on one end of the stone by him.

"Warrior, what is thy cognomen?" asked Caeilte. "Coscrach na gcet is my name," he answered, "and art thou he for whom I take thee?" "And who may that be?" "As I suppose," said Coscrach, "thou art Caeilte mac Ronan." Caeilte answered "true it is that I am so." "I rejoice that thou hast chanced towards me," Coscrach said. "And why is that?" Coscrach says "I have nine-and-twenty seisrecha or 'plough-lands'; and when it is fitting time for reaping of the crop here comes a most impetuous wild deer that spoils and ruins it all to such pitch that we have no profit of the same. I adjure thee therefore, Caeilte my soul, lend me some succour and relief in the matter of averting that stag from me." "When I was in vigour and in fettle I would have fended off that same from thee," said Caeilte.

Here they marked the approach of a swift-marching phalanx, hostile in array of battle, with a grove of tall spears reared at their shoulders, a bulwark of well-turned red shields protecting them. "Coscrach, my soul, who are they?" asked Caeilte. "Tuathal mac Finnachta, king of this country," said Coscrach; and with that the Oglaech sat down upon the green where they were.

Then Caeilte said to Coscrach of the hundreds "couldst thou but find messengers to cluain chaoin na fairche or 'Clonkeen' in the province of Munster, to doire na finghaile or 'the oak-grove of fratricide,' my seven hunting nets are there." The messengers went to fetch the nets therefore, and brought them back. Caeilte ordered this hunt, disposing the bulk of the men and greater part of the hounds in the direction from which he supposed that the stag would come. Upon the precipices and waterfalls and invers of the country he stretched his nets, and the great deer (as his habit yearly was) came at them. Caeilte, seeing him come to ath an daimh or 'the stag's ford' on the Slaney, grasped the coscrach or 'the slayer,' his spear namely, and as the deer was entangled in the toils smote him with a mighty throw so that of the spear's shaft [besides the head] a portion equal to the length of a warrior's hand shewed through him. Coscrach said then "in good sooth I think the deer's blood is drawn"; whence from that time to this ath deargtha an daimh or 'ford of bleeding the stag' is its name. His chine they carried to druim leathan or 'broad ridge,' which at this time is called druim ndearg na damhraidhe or 'red ridge of the deer.' They reached carn na finghaile or 'the cairn of fratricide,' now called dumha na con or 'the mound of wolf-dogs,' where as they stepped up the tulach they saw nine lovely women that with a queen of excellent form in their midst awaited them. A smock of royal silk she had next to her skin; over that an outer tunic of soft silk, and around her a hooded mantle of crimson fastened on her breast with a golden brooch. Upon seeing Caeilte the lady rose and gave him three kisses; then he asked "maiden, who art thou?" She replied "I am Echna daughter of Muiredach mac Finnachta, the king of Connacht's daughter that is to say." Now the bevy of them had a chess-board, on which they played; a can of delicious mead too, which they drank, and in which floated a fair polished horn.

Every time that a game was won and ended they took a draught they caroused in fact and made merry. The manner of the lady was this she had three perfections; for of the whole world's wise women she was one, and he whom she should have counselled had as the result both affluence and consideration. "Caeilte, my soul," she said, "where wert thou last night?" "In the house of Blathmac the stock-owner, at cœil radhairc below, in Leyney of Connacht." "All hail to thee, 'tis thine own way thou art come!" cried the girl. She took one end of the chess-board, and Caeilte the other, in his lap, saying "a long time it is that I have not played chess." When they had now played for a while they laid the board from them; they [the new-comers] looking abroad saw three dœns near to them, and Caeilte enquired of the young woman"what dœns are these?"

It was the last of day then; and they betook them to the nearest one of those three dœns, where they were bestowed in a hidden and retired apartment. Etrom son of Lugar, the young woman's guardian, rose and made Caeilte welcome; she entered then, and in this wise they all feasted and enjoyed themselves. "Caeilte, my soul, 'tis well," said the girl "why was this cairn called 'of fratricide,' and this mound outside 'of wolf-dogs'?" "It was Ben mebhla or 'woman of malice,' daughter of Ronan and a sorceress of the tuatha d.

She replied "it was I that had them made." "It was a good woman that had them made," said he. "But Caeilte," she went on, "what minstrel is that by thee?" "Cascorach, minstrel of the tuatha de danann at large, and the best that is in both Ireland and Scotland." "His semblance is good, if only his minstrelsy be such." "By our word and indeed," said Caeilte, "good as are his looks his minstrelsy is better." "Take thy timpan, Oglaech," she commanded; he took it, played on it and performed sustainedly. Which being done she gave him the two bracelets that were on her arms, and Cascorach said "success and benediction attend thee, lady, but I need them not; neither shall I ever give them to one whom I could prefer to thyself take them therefore and with them a blessing."

e danann, that fell in love with Finn mac Cumall; but Finn said that, so long as he could have any other woman whatsoever in the whole world, he never would wed a witch. Finn's wolf-dogs being slipped came hither, thrice fifty in number, and the said woman breathed her breath on them, whereby, to spite Finn, she incarcerated them in this mound hence it is named 'of the wolf-dogs.'"

"And 'the cairn of fratricide,' whence is it?" "It was Lamh luath or 'swift hand,' son of Cumasc deabhtha or 'melee-fighter' son of Deanamh comhlainn or 'duellist,' who was of this country's people and any occasions of single combat that might befal the kings of Ireland, as Art and Cormac and Cairbre [successively], he it was, and his father and grandfather [before him], that used to undertake them all.

"At that time, in the Duffry, and in the duibhfidh, and in Slievecarbery which now is styled Slievegorey, was an Oglaech Borbchœ son of Trenlamhach was his name, who had a daughter Niamh or 'brilliance' she was called. They were nine brethren that Lamhluath above had, every man of whom separately came to crave the girl of Borbchu; and what each one used to say to him was 'we will kill thyself and sons all together unless thou give us thy daughter.' What Borbchu on the other hand, for fear of being slain, used to tell each of them apart was 'it will so turn out that she shall be thine.'

"One day then upon this hill Lamhluath said 'is it true, my brothers, that ye look for the woman whom I have solicited of Borbchu?' They answered 'it is true.' Thereupon a pang of jealousy took him; he rose, took his sword, and to the brother that was next to him dealt a stroke that killed him. But at sight of the fratricide those seven that remained laid their lips to the ground, and for grief of their brother died. They were put away under this cairn, and hence, lady, is 'the cairn of fratricide'; in lieu of which deed he [the doer] submitted to saint Patrick in Tara and said that, were the latter but so to enjoin him, he would ply his own sword upon himself."

"Success and benison, Caeilte my soul," the maiden cried "great knowledge and true instruction is this that thou hast left with us! and now, knowest thou a defect that ails me and for which I cannot find relief?" "What defect is that?" "A head-disorder that attacks me, and water wherewith to cool it is none in proximity to us; for when I apply water to my head I get ease." Caeilte called "where is Cascorach?"

"Here," answered he. "Go out to the well, taking with thee this holy water, and sprinkle it on the well; so shall the magic veil that hangs over it fall away, and it will serve all men. Which well is that of Cormac's daughter Aillbhe ghruaidbhreac or 'freckle-cheek.'" All this Cascorach did, and the well was revealed to every one. "Thy hospitality's fee to thee, lady, it is that the well serve thee and them of the country," said Caeilte; and so it did until between two kings that grasped the rule of Connacht fratricide was perpetrated Aedh and Eoghan were their names, and by Aedh the latter was slain at lic an fhomorach or 'the pirate's flagstone,' now called lic Ghnathail or 'Gnathal's flagstone.' In that night too were inflicted the three greatest losses that ever f ell on Connacht's province, as the draining away of the falls that ran out of inbhear na bfear or 'the inver of men,' known presently as 'the Moy'; the ebbing in that same night of the high tide which out of the main ocean outside used to ascend the Gaillimh or 'Galway river,'and on which [in great part] depended the weal of the whole province; moreover the running dry of this well of Aillbhe's."

Caeilte resumed "to depart must be ours to-morrow; and never have I carried my head into the house of a woman better than thyself" "A most urgent thing I would enquire of thee before departure, Caeilte my soul," the girl said, and he asked "what thing is that?" "Who is yon minstrel with you, and who his father and his mother?" "Cascorach mac

Cainchinne son of the tuatha de danann's ollave, himself also an ollave, his mother being Bebhionn daughter of Elcmar of the brugh." "An ill chance indeed," she cried, "that he is not son to Bodhb Derg, or to Angus, or to Teigue son of Nuadha!" "What means that, young woman?" asked Caeilte. "That I who never yet have loved any am fallen heavily, hugely, in love with him." "Not one of those others will in the long run prove better than he," said Caeilte, "in virtue of saint Patrick's award that at the last he shall hold all Ireland's ollaveship; and saving only this minstrel he will relegate the tuatha de danann to 'the foreheads' of hills and of rocks [i.e. to their wildest steeps], unless that now and again thou see some poor one of them appear as transiently he revisits earth [i.e. the haunts of men]. And thou, Cascorach, what is thy mind anent this business?" "My mind is this," he answered "that of the whole world's women never have I seen one to please me better than this one." "What then hinders you that ye should not make a match of it?" asked Caeilte.

She said "with thy consent and by thy counsel...."

This is the end of extracts concerning Finnachta.

 

Note This tale is confusing from a historical standpoint because personages from different times in history have been brought together. For example The records of Kings of Connacht do not record a King Muiredach who was son of Finnachta. There was a King of Connacht named Fionnachta, or Finnsnechtae Luibne, and he was the 33rd Christian King; some say a Saint of Iona. He was a King before abdicating and going to Iona so he may have had a son, Muiredach, although no sons are given in the Annals. 

Muiredach, son of Tuathal mac Finnachta king of Leinster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Snowcross of Fionnachta

 

(Criosa ny Finnsneachta)

Until this time the Tribes of High Maine1 and the People of the Sil Murray had remained secure; protected by distance, mountains, lakes, and strong, warring kings. In the century, AM 6,100, six thousand and one hundred years after the creation of the world the Black Pirates sailed to the interior of Eire.

This was the season of the Winter Solstice; a time when the powers of dark began to win over the power of light. Yuletide would be celebrated by new Christians who still listened to the whispering of the Druids.

Crosach Dubh

[Crosshatch Black Scar]

It was the last night of the Black Moon. On the River Shannon's edge, high from a dark perch an owl searched for prey. Reeds parted, and a dark, sleek ship grew from the mist, and slowly sailed into a still cove; the sail floating down and quietly to the deck as the ship touched the sandy shore. Ghostly, gray silhouettes of winged and horned helmets and turbans silently moved to land. From fire-pots torches flared, illuminating the dark eyes and skin of men of Carthage, and blue eyes and fair skin of Northmen. Thatch-roofed buildings were put to the torch, and occupants slaughtered in their doorways as they sought to escape from burning. No mercy was given to these poor people; their only weapons, wooden pitchforks and tools. Homes were ransacked and survivors put to the sword. The raiders surrounded the church and an old priest was dragged in front of their scarfaced leader, Crosach Dubh2. The dark giant lifted the old priest from the ground.

"We have not found any treasure in this pig-sty village! Where is it hidden?"

"We are poor, we have nothing to hide."

"You lie priest! Your God cannot help you. Is that your final answer?"

"It is; you have all our possessions - we have no more treasure, that is final."

"You are right Priest. It is final - for you."

As the Priest bowed his head to pray; Crosach Dubh swung his ax.

Prince Connway

(also Connmaigh, Conbhach, &etc.)

The dream was always the same. Growing out of blackness; a pale, moonlit face, bright red hair, and deep green-eyes. Pleading sad eyes, and lips moving, but no sound uttering forth. Prince Connway awoke in a sweat. The dream came to him every night, and he was glad it was over. He noticed the day was breaking. Connway got up, opened the barricaded window, and surveyed his lands. His castle, Dunamon [3], received its name from Iomghuin his mother's ancestor; a chieftain whose great deeds were only remembered in the songs of bards.

Connway was jubilant, for today was the second coming of seven years. He would start the journey to keep his appointment with Sitchen; a physician, alchemist, astrologer, and armorer of kings. His foreseen time was approaching a time promised by Sitchen. Within a week he would possess the Sword, one worthy of a King's Champion, and a Gamradii Knight [4].

Connway went to his uncle Feargus. In his absence, his uncle would look after his family and affairs of state. The aging Feargus had once been the Champion of Connacht. Feargus had trained Connway for knighthood, and was his favorite uncle.

"Uncle; before leaving I wish to remind you of the reports of pirates in the area. Should they decide to come up the River Souc [5] you could be in danger."

"Do not let this gray hair fool you nephew; it is the pirates and not Feargus who will be in danger."

"Aye, that they will be Uncle Feargus. I shall change my plans and leave fifty extra men behind. For your command; of course."

Next, Connway went to his wife, the Princess Nuala. He married late in life, devoting his youth to the service of his father King Murray. Nuala had patiently waited for him, and they were devoted to each other.

"Nuala; Uncle Feargus will remain here to protect you during my absence. Please heed his counsel as raiders are about."

"I will respect the advice of Feargus. Is it still your wish that our son's should accompany you?"

" Yes, it is time that Canavan [6] , Fihilly [7], and Dungar are introduced to the world beyond the Sil Murray. It will soon be time for them to take up arms."

The Princess Nuala bid them farewell cautioning," be careful," and they departed with great fanfare.

Rath Cruaghan

His first stop would be Rath Cruaghan [8]. The Twelve Great Lords had been summoned by his brother King Cathal. The rath was built a hundred fifty years before Christ by Connway's ancestor the Monarch Eochy Feidloch; as a gift to his daughter Maev the Warrior Queen of Connacht. Connway arrived at Rath Cruaghan at midday. He was greeted by his brother Connor, and escorted to the great-hall. Connway took his place of honor; within a sword's length, to the right of the King's throne; and his shield was placed on the wall behind him. Among the Siol Murray he noted his kinsmen Dubhionracht [9] and Ardghall [10] sons of his brother King Cathal; Murgal [11], Murchada and Aodh Balb [12], sons of his dead brother King Inreachtach; and his other two brothers; Connor and Fothaid. King Cathal came into the Great Hall and the Lords rose. Cathal warmly greeted Connway, and then addressed the Lords.

'' We are all aware of the Scourge that has come into our land. I ask each Lord to send scouts to all parts to assess the threat of Black Pirates. Each Lord shall provide to the King's service two ships with crew, and men at arms consisting of ten of horse and one hundred of foot. This to be done in two days time. I shall expect a report on the raider's activity within five days. Meanwhile you are charged with keeping your own land free of this pestilence. Does any Lord wish to give me counsel? If not, the feast shall begin.''

Trays of venison, boar, and beef were brought forth; as were great amounts of red ale. King Cathal arose suddenly, and the hall became silent. The King filled and presented his glass to all present, and then according to tradition Connway partook the first drink of the feast. During the dining a harper played soft gentle music and there was genuine merriment between the kin of Muireadach. A minstrel paused in front of Connway and sang the legend of Nuada of the Silver Hand, King of the Tuatha de Danaan. The de Danaan were powerful ancient people, now believed to rule the faerie kingdom. According to legend Nuada's hand was cut off in a battle with Firbolg giants. A king could not suffer a mutilation, and Nuada gave up his throne. Artificers replaced the lost hand with one of silver, and - the mutilation removed, Nuada again resumed the throne.

"This song is my brother Cathal's doing," thought Connway.

When the minstrel finished King Cathal stood.

"Prince Connway, please rise. My Lords, let it be known that no kingdom has a greater champion, and no King a better friend than I have in my brother Connway. Bring forth our father Muireadach's Treasure!"

Connway rose and stood at the King's right.

"My brother; you would favor me by accepting this small chest. For within are the most precious relics of our father King Muireadach. Take them on your journey and let them adorn your new weapon. It is the Kingdom's hope that the spirit of our father King Muireadach will enter your sword."

A great applause ensued the Great Lords held Prince Connway in high esteem. The King was pleased, for he loved his elder brother. To a warrior his sword symbolized the cross of Christ, and all that was right; the protection of one's kin, and yet a sword retained the mysticism of ancient, pagan gods. There was a yearning to believe a sword possessed a spirit of its own; an amulet, protecting and guiding the warrior. Cathal was proud to add the King's blessing to the creation of his Champion's longsword.

The feast took on a different mood. Stronger ale was brought into the great hall and the harper, the bards, and minstrels were replaced with musicians who played a primitive, blood-stirring, melodious music. It was the music of the Middle-east brought by their ancestors from Scythia.[13] As red ale flowed, so did passions. Boasting, arm wrestling, and numerous feats of strength were tested, and arguments occurred. The quarrels soon ended, as all present were kin, - no man would draw his sword in Rath Cruaghan - under penalty of death and dishonor. Connway thought of the bard who paused before him to sing the epic of Nuada of the Silver Hand. He stared down at his shattered wrist. Soon the flickering dark shadows of swaying dancers on the fire-lit walls, and the sounds of flutes faded. Only the sound of tambourines remained - metallic and rhythmic at first - then louder - and finally the thundering roar of hoof-beats. Connway transgressed four plus ten years into the past. He and his brothers were riding north at the head of a thousand men of the Siol Muireadach. It was evening twilight, and they were racing to meet the Ultonians.[14] Fergal Prince of Aileach, and Fergal, Prince of Tyrconnel had invaded Connacht, and in the first engagement slain a distant cousin, Indreachtach, son of Duncadh Muirisce, the King of northwest Connacht [15]. The great King Muireadach lay upon his deathbed, too feeble for battle, and Prince Connway, heir to the throne was under the King's geis to repel the Ultonians. [16] Connway's horsemen outdistanced the foot-soldiers, and as he entered a narrow mountain pass his force was attacked by the men of Ulster. The Connacians buckled at the first onslaught, but held fast. At the head of their army and greatly outnumbered, each of the Princes of Connacht slew many times his number. Connway went to the aid of Cathal who was engaged in combat with three common warriors. As he slew one of them, saving his brother, a Red Branch Knight wearing the banner of a champion entered the fray against him. The young knight was a worthy opponent, and they were given ground for single combat. In the pale moonlight the two warriors skillfully struck and parried, and were oblivious of the carnage around them. Desperate to return to the head of his army, Connway decided he must risk delivering a death blow. He feigned a blow to the left, and the knight followed to block the blow. Connway quickly reversed, and drew back to gain momentum - taking an instant too long. His longsword was deflected and struck the rocky cliff, shattering at mid-point. The young knight seized opportunity and swung; his sword cleaving to the center of Connway's shield - nearly severing his wrist. He withdrew his sword, and Connway's shield came, impaled upon it. Knowing death was near, Connway gathered his last strength; lunged, and plunged the broken shaft through chain mail, to the hilt. Connway's brothers surrounded him until he was armed with the sword of the Red Branch Knight, and was back into battle. The hacking and slaughter continued for nigh onto one hour with neither side gaining the advantage. Steam simmered from the wet blood-stained floor of the valley, and the foul air smelled of rust and sweat. At last the gallowglasses came, a welcome sight for the horsemen who had been forced to dismount in the narrow chasm. Gallowglasses were chosen for size and strength; many when under armor too large to sit a horse in combat. They eagerly entered the fray; in close formation, swinging giant battle-axes, and shouting their battle cry,

"Farrah Muireadach, [17]

Muireadach Aboo. "

The tide turned in favor of the Connacians, and the Ulsterites retreated back into the valley. Connway returned to the fallen Red Branch Knight. He gazed down upon the young Champion with the bright red hair and deep, green eyes. A gray, pale face an hour ago that was in the fair bloom of youth. Connway was troubled with the thought of how a father would anguish over the death of such a noble son. For a moment, the two warriors looked upon each other in silence.

"I wish to know my slayer's name."

"Connway son of Muireadach; Prince of Connacht."

"I am Ruadri Prince of Aileach;" then he closed his eyes. [18]

Connway spoke;

"Only I have the right to take the head of this fallen Knight. I do not choose to do so. Do not mutilate the body; return it with honour to the host of Ulster. Let the father know of his son's valor, long grieve over his fallen son - and remember our wrath." SITCHEN

Connway was spirited into the secret confines of the mountains wherein lived a famous healer. He awoke several days later in a dimly lit room. Strange symbols adorned the walls, and skins of animals he had never seen were upon the floor. Faint smoke drifted in the spicy air, and tending a fire was a figure in a black robe. The figure turned and walked toward him; a man with a long flowing white beard, and deep dark penetrating eyes.

"Here, drink this,"

"Where am I, and whose guest might I be?" asked Connway.

"I am Sitchen; the seventh son of the seventh son for fourteen generations - beginning with Maelchin the Wizard of the Great King Cormac MacAirt. You were brought here in a swoon, and have been under my care for two days. Now - let me see your wound."

Connway held out his injured arm and noticed the severed wrist was sewn with fine golden thread, and four golden tubes protruded from the wound. Sitchen went back to the fire. From a tube in a large copper vat, a clear liquid was dripping into a cup. From the fire he withdrew a red-hot poker and thrust it, steaming, into the cup. Sitchen took half the liquid and bathed the wound, and small white bubbles foamed on the healing flesh. Sitchen dried the wound and applied a yellow powder, and then a wrapping of pure white linen.

"You must eat now, you need to build your strength."

An attendant of Sitchen's took the remainder of the fluid and placed it in a strange bottle and spread a mist about the room.

"What is the purpose of the mist?"

"The mist expels the demon spirits who would make the deep flesh of your wound putrid."

This procedure was carried out for five days. Sitchen possessed many talents beside the art of healing. He was an astrologer, and an alchemist, and from his forges and foundry came the finest metals and wares in Ireland.

Connway asked Sitchen to replace his sword, but was told they would discuss a new weapon when the time was right. On Connway's last day Sitchen came to him and bade that he sit with him by the fire. They gazed silently into the flames for several moments before Sitchen spoke.

"I have consulted the stars and other omens. The signs are not in your favor. To forge a new weapon would bring bad luck to you and your people. Return to me at the end of two seven year periods, two days prior to the Winter Solstice. Then - you shall have your sword - and more."

Connway's daydream was interrupted by shaking.

"Ardghall!"

"We must go Uncle, we must get our rest. Tomorrow will be a long day."

Ardghall, son of King Cathal was a priest as well as a lord, and he was Connway's favorite nephew. Connway gathered his sons, and they departed the great hall, arm over arm with Ardghall. As he entered his quarters he overheard them laughing and the young priest telling them,

"Your eyes will most certainly fall out by morning, in restitution for the way stared at the dancer this evening."

Prince Ailell

(Olioll)

South of Dunamon in Clan Colla country, Ailell [19], the son of the Chief of Hy Maine, was preparing for a journey to Saint Ciaran's Church at Clonmacnois. His twin son and daughter were to be christened, as they were in their seventh year . He loved his children; both were perfect of form, with sparkling blue eyes and golden hair. They promised to be the fairest in the land. Ailell was troubled; Black Pirates had been seen on the River Shannon, and his family would be in danger. He would ask ten of his knights to accompany him to witness the Christening, and his father's dedication of four townlands to the church; they would be honored

Ailell, his family, and ten chosen knights departed in the early morning and traveled until midday when his wife asked to stop to rest and take nourishment. They made camp in a small clearing by the River Shannon, and while they rested they were secretly observed by Black Pirates. The scouts took note of their wealth, strength, and direction of travel, to report to their leader, Crosach Dubh.

In the privacy of his tent, Ailell played a familiar child's game with his children, the Knight, the Princess, and the Demon. He gave his daughter, the princess, a biscuit ( her jewels ) and his son, the knight, a towel ( his sword ) and then; Ailell, the King, put the knight under a geis to protect the princess from the evil demon Balor ( the children's pet dog ).[20] Balor was familiar with the game, and the dog immediately bit into the biscuit. The princess was not willing to relinquish her jewels, and after being struck by the knight several times with the towel, the demon grabbed the pretended sword in his fangs. After a lengthy tug-of-war, the King interceded, and he, the Princess, and the Knight, all ended in a tangled pile, laughing; while Balor sat in the corner eating the jewels.

On arrival at Clonmacnois Ailell was well met by his kinsman, the Bishop and ancestral head of a powerful erenagh family.[21] The day was busy; greeting his father and kin, and supervising the servants in preparation for tomorrows festivities. Outside the monastery at Clonmacnois Ailell and his family prepared for the night. Ailell needed time to think, and he armed himself and walked to the river. He sat for a time thinking of the names to be given to his children. He had given this great thought, for it would be important to honor his ancestors as well as God. He sat in the light of the full moon, thinking of his children. As he looked from the moon into the water he saw a stone with a hole through its center. Ailell reached down and picked up the strange, smooth stone. "A self-bored stone,"he whispered. [22]

Ailell fondly remembered his mother telling tales of faeries dancing under a full moon; found by a clever mortal peering through a golden ring, and then deprived of their gold.

He remembered asking," Mother, how do people too poor to own gold rings get the faerie gold?"

"My dear, sweet child, they peer through a self-bored river stone, of course."

Ailell put the stone to his eye and peered out on the moonlit meadow. He suddenly felt quite foolish, and glancing to see if anyone was watching, saw a figure in the shadows.

"Its true, you know," said the shadowy figure," you can see them."

It was his father, Finnrachtach, and as he stepped out of the shadows he looked at the moon.

"Tonight is not the proper full moon to see the faerie people. When next you visit me you must consult my astrologer for the proper time."

His father informed him of a meeting to take place the next day, and they parted. Ailell took the stone back to his children.

Tir Nan Ildanach

(The Land of All Crafts)

Connway's party departed Rath Cruaghan at sunrise and shortly came to Relig na Righ, the burial place of kings.[23] He stopped the procession, and Ardghall blessed their ancestors, and the journey. They proceeded and soon came upon Owneynagat, the Cave of the Cat, and Connway abruptly drew to a halt.

"Ardghall, I need no bad omens on this journey. Do you agree?"

"See, the raven hovers over the labyrinth; it is for certain the Devil's workplace."

Connway changed course to give the cave considerable lee.

They arrived at the See of Elphin just before midday, and were met by Connway's cousin, the Bishop of the Siol Muireadach. Ardghall made special arrangements with the Bishop and brought forth a long, narrow cask of water from the Holy Well. The monastery was founded on the site of this well by Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland. They quickly partook of food, generously provided, and proceeded on their way; the Bishop warning them.

"Be on the lookout for the Black Scourge."

After several hours the party passed through the beautiful lake region to the north; given safe passage by their kinsmen, the Princes of Magh-lurgh.[24] On this bright, sunny day, the fortress on the Rock of Lough C'e rose from the quiet mists, like a white, faerie castle.[25] They paused for a moment enjoying the beauty, then pressed on toward the blue mountains, fording several small streams as they traveled. Connway took the lead as they entered a small valley. It soon narrowed, and they were obliged to travel in the stream-bed. Connway passed from sight as the valley made a sharp turn, and was nowhere to be seen when the party rounded the turn. As they stared in amazement, wondering what kind of witchery had occurred, Connway reappeared through the supple branches of willow trees at the valley wall. They dismounted in the stream, and led their mounts through the branches and narrow opening, the stream erasing all evidence of their passage. Once beyond the wall the crevasse widened again. A human skull was on a stake in the middle of the pathway; its jaw open in a menacing grin. Strange, cryptic figures were carved into the walls. Ardghall, learned in these matters, studied the wall.

" It is ogham, the writing of the ancients.[26]

It places a curse upon the uninvited who chance upon the secret passage."

In God's name, I place each of you under a geis to guard this secret with your life."

They proceeded several hundred yards and suddenly the crevasse opened to a valley. In front of them lay a golden field dotted with green trees laden with fruit and nuts. From the top of steep, surrounding cliffs a silver waterfall cascaded through misty clouds into a black lake which seemed to have no outlet. Along the sheer cliffs grew a forest teeming with wild game, and next to the lake were log-frame cottages with wicker walls woven into geometric designs. Their awe was broken by the sound of a voice,

"Welcome to Tir nan Ildanach, the land of all crafts."

It was Sitchen and his seven sons.

"We've been expecting you," he said," please follow me, your quarters are waiting."

They were led to private huts by the lakeside where they refreshed themselves by bathing in a hot spring, After a short rest they were escorted to Sitchen's hall and treated to a banquet of fresh trout, meat, fruit, and other bounty from the valley; all served from the finest decorated glass and metalware any had seen. They were serenaded by a minstrel playing a lyre, singing a soft, sweet melody in a language they did not understand. After dining Sitchen came to Connway and escorted him to his hut.

"You need your sleep to prepare for tomorrow's task."

 

The Sword of Connway

Connway was awakened by one of Sitchen's sons, and proceeded to the forge where Sitchen was waiting. He was required to participate in forging his sword, and had prepared well. The sons of Sitchen tended the forge heating nuggets of high-grade iron. When the iron became white-hot it was placed in a forming anvil in front of Connway. Using only his sword hand he beat the nuggets until they melded into a single bar. The bar was reheated, doubled , and hammered until the two halves melded together and became elongated. This process was repeated as many times as Connway was capable. The mightier the warrior, the stronger his weapon need be; the more powerful the warrior the more times he would meld the halves. The numerous laminations would make the sword supple and less apt to shatter. The warrior knew nothing of the principle and truly believed he was putting his spirit into the metal, and perhaps he was. Time and again the metal was reheated, folded and beaten, all under the careful eye of Sitchen, the master. When the sun finally set Connway was led to his bungalow by Sitchen.

"Tonight you must fast, meditate, and dream. The work of the morrow, if not to perfection, cannot be undone."

Connway placed his old sword upright against the wall, knelt before it, and prayed. He sat before the fire and tried to meditate, but hunger and exhaustion overcame him and he was soon in a deep sleep. He once again was transgressed back in time, to the deathbed of his father, Muireadach. His father spoke to him.

"Connway, my son, how goes with the healing of thy wrist?"

And Connway watched as he answered,

"It goes well father, the wound has healed, and tho the wrist has frozen, my skills have all returned."

And the King, his voice strong yet quavering,

"My beloved son, thou art still the true champion of my kingdom, and a worthy heir to the throne, and though it pains my heart sorely a King cannot be mutilated -- thy brother Inreachtach must be King."

"I know father, I will submit to my brother."

"Then call all my sons before me."

The sons were gathered before the King

"I Muireadach, King of Connacht, on my deathbed place a geis upon you. My son Inreachtach shall be King, and all shall submit to him as my true heir. Until such time as God sees fit to remove Connway's mutilation he or his descendant shall be recognized as the senior branch, and accorded the first toast at all affairs of the Kingdom. The People of Muireadach shall rise up before them returning the toast."[27]

Muireadach died that night. Together, at sunrise, Connway and the Bishop of Siol Muireadach placed the Crown of Connacht upon the head of Inreachtach.

Suddenly Connway was spinning - forward, through time. He awoke and sat up, gently shaken by his son. It was Dungar, sent by Sitchen to bring him to the forge. As they walked through the darkness he thought how lucky he was to have Dungar as a son. He was a son any father would envy.

Sitchen & his sons; Ardghall, and Connway's sons were waiting. While the forge was prepared, the long keg of Holy water from the See of Elphin was brought forth. Ardghall blessed the occasion and the water, adding his blessing to the Bishop's. Sitchen's sons brought forth Connway's bar of steel, shaped during the night into a beautiful form . Sitchen took the steel and prepared for its last test of fire by dipping it in clay slurry then slowly withdrawing it, leaving a thin layer to hold the heat. He cleaned the cutting edge, to permit rapid cooling. The forge windows were thrown open, revealing a ray-streaked sky, and the sword was put to fire. Sitchen's sons feverishly pumped the bellows, and the steel shimmered orange as the sun slightly broke above the horizon. As the dawning sun glowed through the morning mist the heat was increased until the steel matched the full Sun's crimson color. With tongs, Sitchen and Connway reached together into the fire and grasped the sword. The Wizard began uttering an enchantment, and as the full sun appeared, they drew the sword from the fire - plunged it into the cask of water - then withdrew it the instant, assuring a diamond edge, and supple backbone. Sitchen was pleased,

"The omens, the sun and fire have all acted in our favor. I promise you, Connway, a weapon befitting a prince, even a king."

The Christening

The Black Pirate spies informed Crosach Dubh of the great wealth and few warriors guarding the treasure at Clonmacnoise. Under the cover of darkness he moved his boats to a nearby cove, planning to move toward the monastery at first light.

Finnrachtach rose early, and in the company of his son Ailell he consulted his astrologer.

"My Lord, the signs remain unchanged, the christening must be today. The advent of the twin's birth on the eve of the Great Snow makes it imperative the Christening take place at sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice. "

"Do you agree, my son."

"Yes father, our kin and guests are already assembling."

In the abbey, just as the sun rose above the horizon the Bishop of the See of Clonmacnois blessed the occasion. He called upon those present to unsheathe their swords and pledge to protect the kin of Finnractach and Ailell. Just as the swords were drawn and raised the abbey doors burst open, followed by a rush of screaming Black Pirates. The men of Hy Maine were taken by surprise, but the pirate chief made a grave mistake in assuming his intended victims were common soldiers. Ailell placed himself between his family and the pirates, and cut clean through the first three attackers. The men of Hy Maine were enforced by those of the Bishop and soon put the pirates to rout while slaying many as they fled toward their boats. Unobserved, a pirate came into the abbey through a window behind the alter and grabbed Ailell's daughter, intending to use her as a hostage. He escaped unseen. The pirates would have made good their flight except the winds changed, and they were forced to sail up the Shannon instead of down to the sea. Ailell put ships on the Shannon to block their escape, and he sent riders upstream to Athlone village to ford the river and put ships on the Shannon from the Western shore. He vowed to get his daughter back.

The Prophesy

Tomorrow Connway would leave for his fort at Dunamon. He took a bundle wrapped in oilskin to Sitchen, and laid it before him.

"I found this ancient manuscript in a vault deep beneath the Fortress of Iomghuin. I thought it might interest you."

Sitchen carefully took the manuscript and quietly studied it for several minutes.

"It is the Psaltair of the Tuatha de Danaan.

It alone escaped the burning of the Druidic books by Talkenn."[28] This is a book of long lost secrets; it is worth more than all my treasures combined."

"The Psaltair is yours to keep. It is rightfully yours, my friend."

Connway quickly excused himself and departed. He could sense Sitchen was anxious to study the Psaltar.

Connway and his sons visited the work places of Sitchen's clann. The tribe manufactured most articles for their own use believing contact with the outside world was dangerous. Connway selected a beautiful gold and silver goblet for his wife, Nuala; son Canavan an ornately bound book of the art of healing; and sons Fihilly and Dungar each a sword, shield, and armor.

That night Sitchen came to Connway carrying a case covered with jewels and ornaments of gold and silver. He asked Connway to sit with him before the fire. Sitchen gazed intently into the flames for several minutes and then started talking.

"I am of Tuatha de Danaan ancestry; descending from a line of Wizards and Druids extending back into the mists of time. After their defeat by the Milesians my people and those of the Firbolg race took refuge in the mountains of Connacht. My great ancestor C'e, son of Echtach was the druid of King Nuada Airgetlamh the Silver-hand. The son of C'e was the Wizard at the court of your ancestor Iomghuin who was a descendant of Nuada. Iomghuin's kingdom suffered famine and pestilence for three years, and he sought a talisman . The son of C'e told Iomghuin the talisman he sought was in the otherworld of the cave of Cruachu. It was an enchanted crystal; a shard guarded by the Morrigan, the raven goddess of war. The Morrigan took many forms, most often the shape of a black raven flying before the battle and over the doomed army predicting their fate. The wizard gave Iomghuin an enchanted cloak to make him invisible, but warned he must return before sunrise. The entrance to Cruachu was the Cave of the Cat, not far from Iomghuin's fortress. Donning his enchanted cape Iomghuin slipped by the Morrigan into the underworld. Iomghuin found the enchanted shard, but tarried too long gathering treasure. As he left the cave the sun rose and his shadow was cast upon a large raven. The raven transformed into a hideous three armed hag and attacked him with sword, spear and ax. Iomghuin retreated to the darkness of the cave where the cloak made him invisible. As the Morrigan approached he swung his sword with great force severing both legs at the knee. Iomghuin raised his sword to slay the creature and it begged for its life.

"Let me live and I shall fly over thy enemies heads when you wear the shard into battle."

"Your promise must be kept with all of the Seed of Iomghuin."

"The promise will be granted to the heirs of Iomghuin."

Iomghuin spared the life of the Morrigan, returned home, and his kingdom became plentiful. The King fought many battles always returning home, protected by his talisman.

Sitchen opened the jeweled box and unwrapped an object shrouded in black velvet.

"Behold! The Shard of Iomghuin."

The large, clear crystal was capped with precious metal and jewels and adorned with silver charms; a serpent, oak tree, love sprite, and a snowflake.

"The serpent, oak tree, and love sprite are old druidic charms for healing, magic, and love. The meaning of the fourth charm, the snowflake, is yet to be revealed. Your coming was foretold many years ago by my father. You will soon meet your destiny."

The Escape

Night had fallen. Crosach Dubh knew he must vanish or feel the wrath of the Connacians. Fortune was with him and the wind changed direction and soon the full moon was covered with black clouds. Under cover of darkness and unknown to the rest of his fleet, Crosach slipped away and sailed for the western shore. He planned to abandon ship and conceal his crew in a wooded area. When the time was right he would steal another ship and escape to the sea.

After several hours the clouds passed and the moon lit the sky. Ailell and his flotilla found themselves among the pirate ships and gave battle, wreaking great slaughter. No pirate was left alive. His anger was satisfied but the sorrow remained unrequited, for his daughter was nowhere to be found.

Crosach Dubh could see his ships burning in the distance. He felt no remorse; he had saved his own life many times by sacrificing others, and in his evil mind it was the right decision.

"Drop the ship's mast we'll hide among the reeds until it's safe to go ashore."

Crosach Dubh discovered the daughter of Ailell, and was pleased.

"She wears the clothes of a Noble. We will bargain for her life if we run into trouble.

Come here, girl."

He was an awesome giant, his name derived from crosshatched scars on his dark, weather-beaten face. The daughter of Ailell remembered the game with her father - a princess never shows fear. She walked up to the pirate and looked up at him, smiled and held out her hand. Crosach was taken by surprise and the picture of his own daughter flooded his mind. A distant land of sand and palm trees, and a beautiful young, black-eyed girl playing a flute for him.

"Bring food and a blanket, and see that no harm comes to our hostage, "he ordered.

At midnight a light snow obscured the moon and the pirates walked inland hoping to hide in a wooded area before sunrise. Unable to see the stars they lost direction, and at sunrise they were exposed on an open plain. THE PROPHESY

Sitchen led Connway into his sanctuary, and on an alter was the most beautiful sword he had ever seen. It was a sword befitting a champion, even a king, and with an ornate scabbard to match. Sitchen took a strange silver device from his altar. He attached it to Connway's forearm.

"This will enable you to hold and maneuver your shield with great strength and dexterity, and should you desire, a dagger will spring forth to replace the shield held by your hand."

Sitchen pressed a lever, and a dagger rotated into the palm of Connway's hand,

"This device is made of silver, the procedure I discovered in your gift; the Psaltair of the Tuatha de Danaan. It will not correct your mutilation - the pages giving life are lost - I am sorry."

"How may I repay you for these wonderful treasures?"

"I did not bestow these treasures on you for payment, and you did not make your gift of the Psalter for wealth or favor. Our meeting was foreseen many years ago. This night fullfils our destiny."

"Will those of my blood ever sit upon the throne of Connacht?"

Sitchen opened the jeweled box and removed the talisman. He placed the chain around Connway's neck and gazed deeply into his eyes.

"This talisman is rightfully yours -- wear it -- you will need its protection in the following days. Tomorrow you shall know the meaning of the last charm of the Shard of Iomghuin, the Snowcross. I will answer your last question Yes, the blood of Connway shall sit upon the throne of Connacht, and upon the throne of the High King of all Eiren." THE JOURNEY HOME

Connway left Tir nan Ildanach returning home via the See of Elphin. He was in high spirits. Although age had come upon him; with his sword, talisman, and silver hand, he felt invincible. He was spoiling for a fight, but would take no chances in the company of his young sons. They passed the See of Elphin just before midday. This was a holy day, and the Bishop told him the men of Hy Maine destroyed the Black Pirates on the River Shannon. It was snowing softly and Connway sent most of his warriors to their homes. He wanted to arrive at Dunamon before dark, in time for the celebration. Ardghall rode to a position abreast Connway.

"Uncle, I ask your advice. I am planning a pilgrimage to the Cell of Saint Columcille. It is a very holy place on the Island of Iona, located off the west coast of Scotland. My father Cathal does not approve of this as my brother Dubhionracht is not prepared to assume the throne."

"Ardghall, if you go now we will miss a worthy king. Can this trip be postponed until your brother is prepared?"

"Yes, I suppose it is possible to please both my father, and God. Thank you Uncle, I will postpone my pilgrimage." [29]

A mile from the Cave of the Cat they crossed the snow tracks of fifty warriors heading toward the cave. Connway changed direction to follow the tracks. They soon came upon the Black Pirates, who turned to meet them. The pirates were fearless warriors, but not experienced in fighting men on horse. He was greatly outnumbered; this would be a hard fight. Connway's warriors slew many of them in the first charge. As his horsemen wheeled for a second charge he saw three pirates carry a child into the cave. Perched above the entrance was a large, black raven. As Connway rode toward the cave the raven rocked its head, beckoning him closer. He thought of Iomghuin entering the other world of Cruachu, and a chill rattled his spine.

"The Morrigan," he whispered.

Entering the cat's-mouth he made the sign of the cross, and reached in his tunic and touched the Shard of Iomghuin; savoring its warmth. Connway withdrew the crystal, and its vibrations caused the walls of the cavern to glow. He stalked for several hundred meters until coming to a large opening. Passing through into a large cavern he found Crosach Dubh, a pirate, and the child. Crosach was no coward. He became a chieftain by might, not honor, and in battle was a terrible foe. The aging warrior, Connway, knew he must draw on all his strengths to defeat the giant. In the dimly lit cavern the two warriors struck and countered for some time; Connway with his sword and Crosach with his battle-ax. With the silver-hand Connway maneuvered his shield with great strength and dexterity. His sword was supple and fended off the blows of the mighty ax. Crosach, angered by his failed attempts, directly attacked Connmaig's shield; his ax slamming the shield until it dangled useless from the silver hand. Connway knew he must slay the giant or perish. He feigned a blow and then drew back as if to deliver a lethal blow, purposely allowing Crosach time to parry. As Crosach parried, Connway dropped his battered shield to the ground, pressed the switch on the silver hand and swung his sword. The dagger smoothly rotated into his palm just as Crosach deflected his sword. The giant tried to correct for his mistake but was too late. The dagger thrust under Crosach's shield and mortally wounded him. Connway quickly turned to the pirate holding the child. The pirate threatened to slay her unless given safe passage. Unnoticed, as they bargained for her life, Crosach Dubh staggered to his feet and drew a javelin from his quiver. Connway turned to face him just as Crosach's missile was cast. It passed by Connway and slammed through the pirate's shield, killing him. The beautiful, fair child went to the fearsome, dark, giant; took his hand, and held it. As he died Crosach looked up at her face and her blue eyes became ebony, her fair skin changed to spice, and the golden hair faded to dark. He heard a flute playing and closed his eyes. Connway placed the shard around the child's neck and quickly carried her to the cave's entrance. As he came out of darkness he was blinded by the snow, and hearing a sound, turned -- too late. One of Crosach's men was there, his ax raised high. Connway set the child down, shielding her with his body. At the instant death seemed certain an arrow pierced the pirates neck. It was Dungar! His son had seen him enter the cave, and had followed.

" We must hurry father, the battle has turned in the pirates favor."

"Your face is a welcome sight Dungar God has been with me today."

Connway looked back at the cave's mouth. For a moment he and the raven were locked in a silent gaze. As if by command the raven rose to flight and as it circled higher Connway gasped.

" Dungar, look! The raven has no legs."

"What does it mean, father?"

" It is the Morrigan -- The Prophesy."

Connway placed the child in Dungar's custody, took his mount and quickly rode into the battle. His small force was fighting bravely. They had reduced the odds but were still outnumbered and were rapidly tiring. His attack, from behind, split the pirate force and they retreated.

Connway rode to Ardghall's side; " Nephew, these last few days have been very difficult for my Christian conscience."

"That, they have been, Uncle. We could use a miracle right now."

The small band braced for the charge, and the warriors closed for battle. Suddenly, a raven flew low between them. The charge halted and the battle-ground became silent. Frozen faces followed the raven's flight in fearful anticipation of the forthcoming omen. On reaching its zenith the raven turned and slowly circled down the middle and then turned and flew over the Black Pirates. At that instand drumming sounded in the distance and marching soldiers appeared, led by a mounted knight, his shield emblazoned with the oak tree of the Sil Murry. Fear and superstition overcame the Black Pirates and they broke ranks and ran. As the force drew near, the knight raised his visor.

"You are a welcome sight, Uncle Feargus!"

"I again remind you nephew; do not let the gray hair deceive you. It may please you to note how the mere sight of Feargus has struck terror in the hearts of our enemy."

"It did indeed. The fame of the deeds of Feargus' will not be long forgotten by our enemies."

"You are expected at Dunamon. Leave the task of cleaning up this vermin to your Uncle. I would not be surprised if your Bard would have a song of me when I arrive home again."

Feargus rode off at the head of his small army, the drums and pipes heralding their advance.

Connway sent a messenger to the king to report the encounter with the pirates, and quickly proceeded toward Dunamon. They would be late for the festivities.

As Connway rode in the blue, snowy twilight, he looked down at the beautiful child. He thought of his own fair daughter who perished of a fever at that same age. Connway was troubled and wondered how his grief stricken wife would receive the girl-child.

The Snowcross

The festivities had not started, as all Dunamon was waiting Prince Connway's arrival. His worry had been for nigh; Princess Nuala lovingly gathered the little girl into her arms and was off to the privacy of her quarters. The festivities started, but were soon interrupted by his Wife's handmaiden.

"Prince Connway, Princess Nuala would like to see you and Prince Ardghall in her quarters."

Upon their arrival the Princess opened the girls cloak exposing the base of her neck. There was an outline of a cross of snow where the charm had touched her delicate skin.

" Criost ny Fionnsneachta," Ardghall whispered in awe.

This eve was the most holy of the year, and Connway and Ardghall believed the mark of the cross was an important divination.

The next day King Cathal came to Dunamon with strangers; one wearing the attire of a prince of Hy Maine. It was Ailell, hoping his daughter was the child rescued by Connway, and Dungar. As Princess Nuala brought the child forth Prince Ailell could see Connway's wife had bonded with his daughter.

"Prince Connway, could we speak in private?"

"Yes, please speak your mind."

"I first wish to express my gratitude to you and your son Dungar for saving my daughter. Any possession that is mine to give is yours for the asking."

"That is not necessary, Prince Ailell; we have rid ourselves of a common foe."

"Your son Dungar is a fine lad. He must be nearing the time to leave home and learn the art of war. I would be honored if you would allow me to foster him.30 I would treat him as if he were my own son. And my daughter, when it is her time to leave her mother, I would be grateful if you and your wife would foster her."

"Done! You have my word Prince Ailell."

Ailell and Connway had never met, but Connway was aware of Ailell's reputation for prowess in warfare. He felt fortunate the Champion of the Hy Maine was to be Dungar's foster father.

Connway's wife gave up the child willingly, knowing she would return. Clann Connway was present in Hy Maine at the Christening of Ailell's children. Both children were christened Fionnacta, He became Fionnactach mac Ailell, and she became Criosta ny Fionnacta, Christina of the White Snow. This met with the approval of Ailell's father due to the great snow and position of celestial bodies on the night of their birth; and by the clergy due to the miraculous appearance of the mark of the snow cross.

Dungar spent the next seven years in the house of Ailell and was treated as Ailell's own child. His martial training was carefully supervised by Ailell and he was an able student. The twin Fionnactas became his brother and sister, she going to Connway's house at age ten. They next met four years later when Dungar was knighted by his cousin King Ardghall at Rath Cruaghan,.

He was awestruck by her fair beauty, and she was overwhelmed by this handsome young man she remembered as the big brother, carrying her on his back. No words of their feelings were spoken, but each knew their destinies were intertwined. Dungar went into the King's service for three years before returning to Dunamon. When he arrived he expected to see Christina, but she had returned to her father's house. Without seeing his father Connway, who was away at the time, Dungar turned and rode through the night, arriving at the fortress of Ailell at dawn.

Dungar`s Challenge

Aodh, the son of the Siol Muireadach's old enemy, Fergal of the Battle of the Valley, Prince of Tyrconnel, was now High King of Ireland. Aodh sent his army hosting into Hy Maine and they were camped near Ailell's fortress preparing to accept Ailell's hostages and tribute. [31] In passing, Dungar heard the Captain of the King's Army had requested Christina's hand in marriage. Furious with jealousy, Dungar found the Captain, and challenged him to single combat. Six hours later they met as the sun reached its zenith. The old warrior bearing the banner of a champion of Ulster walked onto the field to meet a young knight who bore the arms of the Siol Murray of Connacht. They stalked each other and struck a few blows, the young knight, rash and strong, the older, cautious and self assured. Each drew blood, but neither gained an advantage. The old knight was tiring and decided he must end the battle. He feigned a blow to the knee, planning to swing overhand from the ground and cleave Dungar down, from the neck and shoulder. Dungar was much too fast, retreating and then delivering a gigantic blow which cleaved the old knight's shield to the middle. The old knight had seen this vision many times in his dreams and knew what to do. As Dungar attempted to extricate his sword the Ulsterite raised his sword to finish him. His downward swing halted as Connway rode into the arena at the head of his clann. Both forces contemplated giving battle, and the two old warriors silently faced each other. They raised their visors, Connway displaying a bronzed, weather-beaten face, blue eyes, with salt and pepper hair and mustache; and the Ulsterite deep green eyes, a red beard, with white center, framing a ruddy, bronzed face. They looked at each other in silence for perhaps one minute and then the Ulsterite broke the silence.

" I am Ruadri of Aileach, the cousin of Aodh, High King of Eiren. You have made me wait many years to repay my debt to you, Connway. Had it not been for your honor that night many years ago I would have been a headless corpse in that moonlit valley."

Connway remembered the bright red hair; deep, green eyes; and youthful face of the young knight, who haunted his dreams. He removed his helmet and placed his hand on Ruadri's shoulder.

" Welcome Ruadri, your spirit has been with me all these years. It is good that you are here."

The peace wasresumed and the King's force left without taking hostages or tribute from the Hy Maine. Dungar was warmly welcomed by Ailell, who secretly hoped for his marriage to Christina.

Dungar, mac Connway and Criosta ny Fionnacta were married. She was sensitive to all around her, and spent time with both the Christian clergy and the few remaining who observed the old ways. Her behavior was never criticized for she was marked with the Cross of Fionnacta.

In his old age Connway left all his worldly possessions and went to visit his old friend Sitchen in Tir nan Ildanach. When he did not return Dungar followed after him. He traversed the narrow river bed in the deep valley three times, but found no trace of the willow trees or the passage they had concealed. He was happy, for he knew his father had met his destiny. The Sword of Connway became the possession of Dungar, and he became known as Dungar Ua Fionnacta. The foster brother of Dungar; Fionnachtach, became the Prince of the Hy Maine.

This story ends with the Christening of the twin sons of Dungar and Christina.. On this morning everyone wore garlands of flowers and ferns, for the coming eve was the event of the Summer Solstice. It was a time when the power of light would overcome the power of dark. Dungar entered the chapel where Clanconway and the Bishop of Siol Muireadach were assembled. The Bishop began with a blessing, asking God and the people of Connway to guide and protect his heirs. Dungar drew and raised the Sword of Connway, and spoke:

"I pray to God that my sons be destined to defend their clann with righteous and powerful swords - and the People of Muireadach always be protected by their wisdom, strength, honor, and valor."

The twins were taken from their mother's breast. Christina of the White Snow took the sword's tip and placed upon it a morsel of food. As Dungar placed the food to the mouth of his first-born, the Bishop gave his name.

"In God's name, in the presence of the People of Muireadach, I christen thee Connway Og Ua Fionnacta."[32]

Again, a morsel was placed on the tip of the sword, and then to the second child's mouth.

"In God's name, in the presence of the People of Muireadach, I christen thee Muirchada Ua Fionnacta."[33]

The sons of Lord Dungar, son of Prince Connway, son of King Muireadach became the Lords of Clanconway, and Clan Murrough of the Champions. Each became one of the Twelve Great Lords of Cruaghan, and many descendants were noted as Chiefs of the Siol Murray. Although none of the sons of the line of Connway ascended to the throne they were powerful Lords, respected and trusted by Kings of Connacht; specifically by Turlough Mor, and his son Roderick [O'Conor]; the last two High Kings of Ireland.

Do you wonder about Sitchen's prophesy?  " The blood of Connway shall sit on the throne of Connacht, and upon the throne of the High King of Eiren." Yes, the prophesy came true. Tho many of the descendants of Connway were valorous warriors and leaders of men, there also were many beautiful and talented women. Many of the daughters became the wives and mothers of princes and kings.[34]

But, that is another story for another time. [35]

-END-

ENDNOTES

1._HIGH MAINE Celtic, Hy or Ui Many (Eee Main-ee); and PEOPLE OF MURRAY or Siol Muireadach (Shee-ul Murray) meaning the Seed of Muireadach.

2._Celtic Crosach [Cross-hatch or scarred] Dubh [Dark or black]

3._Dunamon Celtic, Dun (fortress) of Iomghuin (Eem-gain), an ancient king.

4._Gamradii The half of the Fenians from Connacht, foes of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster. Some say they were the older non-Milesian race either Firbolg or Attacotti or Pictish. They fought with the Irish King against the Fenians in the last battle.

5._River Souc or Suck. Runs from north of Donamon Castle to the Shannon River.

6._Canavan; Celtic, Cahernach [physicians to kings].

7._Fihilly Celtic, Ficheallach, anglicized Field or Fielding.

8._Rath [earthen fortress] Cruaghan or Croaghan (Crow-en), named after Cruachu wife of the Monarch Eochy Feidloch [Ay-oh-ee Fide-lock]

9._Dubhionracht or Dubhinrachtach is the ancestor of Mulrennan, Magrane, Gillchrist & Kits [variants of] of Connacht.

10._Ardghall, ancestor of O'Flannagan & Donnellan [variants of] of Connacht.

11._Murgal is the ancestor of O'Connor, McDermott, & McGeraghty [variants of] of Connacht. Murchad is the ancestor of the Finnertys of Clan Murchada [Murrow] of the Champions.

12._Aodh [Hugh] Balb [Stammer, babel] ancestor of O'Beirne of Connacht

13._Scythia Ancient country in Eurasia, near the Black Sea.

14._Ultonians, or Ulsterites (Ulster).

15._The death of this Indreachtach is recorded in the Annals of Ulster (the Book of the O`Neils), not to be confused with the son of Muireadach of the Siol Murray, a King of Connacht.

16._Geis Celtic, a taboo or sacred promise.

17._Farrah and Aboo are similar to the English word victory.

18._Ruadri, Rory or Roderick, the Red.

19._Olioll or Ailell [Eye-lell]

20._Balor the name of an ancient Fomorian king, a giant who possessed an evil eye.

21._Erenaugh family often kings gave lands to the church under condition they be managed by his kinsman; a bishop or lord.

22._Self-bored stone; considered to have magical powers. Found only in fresh water; the hole bored by the action of water and gravel.

23._Relig [Relics] na [of] Righ [Kings, or reich, or reign]

24._Magh-lurgh, ancestors of McDermott / McDermod & variations.

25._Lough C`e or Lock Key [a lake], some believed named after C`e the wizard of Nuada of the Silver Hand.

26._Ogham ancient Celtic writing (oh-wam).

27._The Annals of the Four Masters report that Connmaigh or his representative were accorded the first drink at all royal feasts. Variants of the name and clann are Convach, Conbhach, Conmhaige, Connway, etc.

28._Talkenn Celtic for Adz-head, the name given to St. Patrick.

29._Ardghall became king and later abdicated and died a saint on the Island of Hye.

30._Foster A common practice among the nobility of Ireland whereby a child was raised by another family. The purpose being to form an alliance, bond clanns, or protect them from fratricide.

31._Hosting A practice of taking hostages and tribute from subjects whose loyalty might change.

32._Connmaigh, the Younger, of the White Snow. Clann Conway comprised the two half baronies of Ballymoe, both sides of the River Suck, in Galway & Roscommon.

33._Muireadach, or Murray of the White Snow. Other variants of the name and clann are Muhry, Murrough. Clann Murrrough was in Galway and/or North Roscommonand may have joined the West half barony of Ballymoe. Since writing this story the author has found that the Clan Murrogh of the Champion Finnertys descend from King Indeachtrach not his brother Connmaigh. The brother Conshobhar also produced Finnertys who are in the annals.

34._It is evident the descendants of Connway were powerful until near the end of the Irish Monarchy when O'Finaghty was poisoned by his daughter who married a Burke. The Annals of the Four Masters record in 1140 AD "The men of Teathbha made a fierce attack upon his [Toirdhealbhach Ua Conchobhair] forces, and made a slaughter of them, together with Muireadhach, the grandson of Muireadhach Ua Finnachtaigh, chief of Clann-Murchada, and the grandson of Aedh, son of Ruaidhri."

The Ruaidhri noted here is Ruaidhri na Soide buidhe King of Connacht and father of the last true Monarch, Turlough Mor O'Conor.

 

35._ Geneological notes from O'Hart Re. Connmaigh Eochaid Feidlioch, 93rd Monarch and father of Maev is #71 on the Finnerty pedigree. Muireadach Maolleathan, 15th Christian King of Connacht is #97. Connmaigh, son of Muireadach is #98. Dungar, son of Connmaigh is #99. He is also listed in the "Annals" as Donn Garadh. Ardghall, son of Cathal brother of Connmaigh, died a Saint at Hye ( Iona ) Scotland [Isle of Saints] in A. D. 786. Ardghall abdicated as king to make his pilgrimage. Fionnachta Luibhne, the 33rd Christian King of Connacht and a Saint and was the great grandson of Inreachtach, the 16th King of Connacht, a brother of Connmaigh. This Inreachtach had a daughter Maev who was the wife of the Monarch Aodh, the son of the Monarch Feargus, of Aileach. Regarding the Hy Maine Finnrachtach ( Innrachtach ), Ailell ( Olioll ), and Fionnachtach, Chiefs of Hy Maine are #100, #101,& #102, on the O`Kelly pedigree. Our Fionnachtach of Hy Maine, #102, was a very powerful prince and married the daughter of a King of Connaught and they were the parents of Cellach of the Battle of Brian [Boru] where the Vikings were defeated at Clontarf [Dublin]. This Cellach gave his name to the O'Kellys of Hy Maine. Finnertys who hail from in and around the old Kelly Castles of South Roscommon and adjacent Galway are likely to be descended from this Prince.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fionnachta Trilogy

one-third completed