A Window on Early Christian Ireland

An Scéal "Cath Almaine" mar Fhuinneog ar Éirinn Luath-Chríostaí

 

An Scéal

 

Is scéal as Meán-Ghaeilge é "Cath Almaine" a cumadh am éigin tar éis 950 A.D. bunaithe ar chath a troideadh i 722 A.D.  Sa bhliain sin, d'éiligh an tArd-Rí Fergal mac Máele Dúin an bhóramha ó na Laighin.  Dhiúltaigh na Laighin agus a rí Murchad mac Brain.

 

Ghlaoigh an tArd-Rí ar Leath Chuinn (.i. ar na hUí Néill, na hAirghialla, agus na Connachta) teacht le chéile chun ionradh a dhéanamh ar Chúige Laighean.  Ach, de réir an scéil, bhí laochra an Tuaiscirt drogallach.  Dúirt siad gur chóir dóibh fanacht go dtí go bhfeicfidís cad a dhéanfadh Donn Bó, an fear óg a ba fhearr in Éirinn.  Ach ní bhfuair Donn Bó cead oná mháthair dul ar an slógadh seo go dtí go bhfuair sise geall ó Mháel mac Failbe, comharb Choilm Cille, go bhfillfeadh Donn Bó slán sábhailte ar ais chuici.

 

Chuaigh laochra Leithe Chuinn isteach i gCúige Laighean.  Thug an slua maslacht do Áedán, lobhar i gCluain Dobhail.   Dúirt Áedán go mbainfeadh Dia díoltas as Uí Néill dó sin go deo.  Tháinig beaguchtach uafásach ar Dhonn Bó.  Dhiúltaigh sé a chanadh nó a reacaireacht do Fhergal an oíche sin, ach gheall sé go gcasfadh sé amhrán dó an oíche dár gceann pé áit a mbeadh siad. 

 

Tháinig na sluaite le chéile ar 11 Nollaig 722 ag Cnoc Almhaine, Co. Chill Dara.  Thaispeáin Naomh Brighid í féin ós cionn na sluaite ar shon na Laighean agus thaispeán Naomh Colm Cille é féin ós cionn na sluaite ar shon na nUa Néill.  Bhí an lá ag Brighid.  Briseadh an cath ar na hUí Néill.  Maraíodh Fergal mac Máele Dúin agus mílte eile ar thaobh Ua Néill.  Dícheannadh mórán acu, Donn Bó ina measc.  An oíche sin agus na Laighin ag céiliúradh, chuaigh an laoch Laigheann Báethgalach amach ar áit an áir.  Ansin sa dorchadas, chuala sé ceann Dhonn Bó ag canadh go binn do Fhergal i gcomhlíonadh a ghill.  Faoi dheireadh, trí mhíorúilt Choilm Chille, cuireadh ceann Dhonn Bó ar ais ar a scornach agus tháinig sé slán sábhailte ar ais chuig a mháthair.

 

 

Fuinneog ar Éirinn Luath Chríostaí

 

Do chuid mhaith desna creidimh, gnásanna, gaolta, agus deasghnátha ársa faighte sa scéal seo, is féidir linn comhthacaíocht a fháil de réimsí éagsúla mar seandálaíocht, taighde DNA, agus stair na hEorpa.  Lig dúinn feiceáil ar chuid desna tréithe cultúrtha seo, go háirithe orthusan atá comhthacaithe le taighde nua.

 

   A.  Donn Bó agus a Fholt

 

...is uad bud ferr rann espa ocus ríg-scéla for doman. Is é bud ferr do glés ech ocus do innsma shleg ocus d'fhige fholt. 

 

...is é ba fhearr ar an domhan do laoithe a chumadh agus rí-scéalta a insint.  Is é ba fhearr do chapaill a ghléasadh, sleánna a inseamú, agus folt a thrilseánú.

 

Is féidir linn feiceáil ó na línte seo go raibh suim mhór ag na Gaeil i gcuma a bhfoilt sa tréimhse luath Chríostaí.  Tá fianaise chinnte againn anois gur tháinig an tsuim sin anuas ó na céadta roimh Chríost.

 

Fuarthas íobairt daonna i 2003 i bportach i gCluain Uí Chaomháin, Co. na Mí.  De réir dátaithe radacarbóin déanta ar an "Clonycavan Man" seo, bhí sé beo ag am éigin idir 392 R.C. agus 201 R.C.  Le linn a shaoil, thug sé mórán aire dona ghruaig agus bhain sé áis as cineál folt-ghlotháin déanta as ola plandaí agus roisín allmharaithe ó Eoraip oirdheisceartach.   

 

Tá a fhios againn go raibh an ceann daonna tábhachtach i gcreideamh agus i ndeasghnátha na gCeilteach.  Is furasta a thuiscint, mar sin, go raibh folt agus a chuma tábhachtach freisin.

 

Bhí daoine eile in Eoraip san Aois Iarainn a raibh suim acu i dtrilseánú agus i ngruaig-stíleanna.  I 1948, fuarthas "Osterby Man" i bportach in aice Osterby, An Ghearmáin.  Ba laoch na Suebi é, laoch na sean-treibhe Gearmánach luaite le Tacitus agus iomráiteach don t’Snaidhm Swabian’ ina ngruaig.   Bhí "Osterby Man" beo timpeall an chéad aois tar éis Chríost.   

 

   B.  Connachta, Uí Néill, Airghialla, agus DNA

 

Ba trom trá la Fergal sin .i. Laigin do nemchomall a n-gellta fris, co rofhuacrad sluaiged dírecra dímór uad for Leith Chuinn .i. for Eogan ocus for Conall ocus for Airgiallaib ocus Mide ... do thobach na bórama.     

 

Ba throm le Fergal é sin, .i. nár chomhlíon Laighin a ngeall leis, agus d'fhógair sé slógadh ollmhór ar Leath Chuinn, .i. ar Chinéal Eoghain agus ar Chinéal Chonaill agus ar Airghialla agus Mhíde ...  chun an Bhóramha a thobhach.

 

San abairt seo, is féidir linn tagairt a fheiceáil do "ghinealach oifigiúil" an Dáil Chuinn cruthaithe le seanchaidthe Ua Néill  a éilíonn go dtagann Connachta, Uí Néill In Tuaiscirt (le Cinéal Chonaill agus Cinéal Eoghain ina measc), Clann Choirpre mhic Néill (nach luaitear san abairt seo), Mide (.i. Uí Néill in Deiscirt), agus Airghialla, anuas ó Chonn Chéadchathach.   

 

I 2006, mhol géineolaithe ag Coláiste na Trionóide, Baile Átha Cliath, go dtagann an chuid is mó desna hUí Néill anuas ó dhuine a mhair tuairim is 1700 bliana ó shin agus go raibh an duine sin ina dhuine "is torthúla" i stair na hÉireann.     Mar a bheadh súil againn, smaointear gurbh é seo Niall Naoighiallach.

 

Idir 2006 agus 2009, deimhníodh go dtagann an chuid is mó desna hUí Néill agus desna Connachta anuas ó chomhshinsear amháin.  Sna staidéir sin, bhí a lán samplaí DNA ó na hUí Bhriúin agus ó na hUí Fhiachrach ag na géineolaithe, ach ba dheacair samplaí DNA ó na hUí Ailella agus ó na hUí Fergusa a fháil.  (Maidir le Fergus, níor tháinig ach Síl Fergusa Cháecháin anuas de.  )  Sna ghinealaigh, mar tá a fhios againn, bhí Eochu Mugmedón ina chomhshinsear dosna Connachta agus dosna hUí Néill.  Ach is féidir freisin gur tháinig an comh-DNA sin anuas ó shinsear Eachach, anaithnid nó finscéalach (e.g., Muiredach Tírech, Fiachu Sraiptine, Cairbre Lifechair, 7rl.). 

 

Is eisceacht tábhachtach iad na hUí Ruairc.  Tá súil againn ó Sheanchas go dtiocfadh siadsan anuas ó Uí Bhriúin, ach tá 'haplogroup' DNA ar leith acu; .i. ní thagann siad anuas ó na hUí Bhriúin.   Freisin, in ainneoin na nginealach oifigiúil Ua Néill (agus mar ar réamh-mheas T.F. O'Rahilly agus údair eile  ), níl gaol fola idir na hAirghialla agus na Connachta.    Agus mar a dtaispeánann Byrne leis an rann seo a leanas (faighte i dtéacs Féineachais scríofa san 8ú hAois), ní raibh aon ghaol fola ach oiread idir Dál Chuinn (.i. Féini) agus Ulaidh, nó idir Dál Chuinn agus Laighin: 

 

Batar trí prímcheinéla i nHére, .i. Féini 7 Ulaith 7 Gáilni .i. Laigin.  /  Bhí trí phríomhchinéal in Éirinn, .i. Féini agus Ulaidh agus Gáilni, .i. Laighin.

 

   C.  An Ceann Daonna mar Chomhramh 

 

Is ann-sin roráid Murchad mac Brain: "Do-bérainn carpat ceithre cumala ocus mo ech ocus m'errad don láech noragad isin n-ármach ocus do-bérad comartha chucainn as."   "Ragat-sa," ar Báethgalach ...  

 

Is ansin go ndúirt Murchad mac Brain:  "Do bhéarfainn carbad ceithre cumhal agus m'each agus mo chathéide don laoch a rachadh in áit an áir agus do bhéarfadh comhramh chugainn as."   "Rachaidh mé," ar Báethgalach...

 

B'fhéidir nach áibhéil é a rá gur féidir linn ceann-seilg nó ceann-tógáil a fháil i mbeagnach gach scéal luath Éireannach ach iadsan i naomhsheanchas amháin.  Tá comhthacaíocht do cheann-tógáil againn i measc na gCeilteach lasmuigh d'Éirinn i gcuntais scríofa le Poseidonius, Strabo, Livy, Ammianus, Diodorus Siculus, agus eile nach iad.  Bhain laochra na gCeilteach cinn de thaoisigh iomráiteacha mar an ginearál Rómhánach Postumius agus an rí Gréagach Ptolemy Keraunos.

   

Ach sa scéal "Cath Almaine", nuair a dúirt an laoch Báethgalach go rachadh sé amach chun comhramh a thabhairt ar ais ó pháirc an áir, ní dúirt Murchad mac Brain aon rud faoi cheann daonna.  Bunaithe ar iarsmaí go nua-faighte i dtearmann Ceilteach ag Ribemont-sur-Ancre, an Fhrainc, is féidir linn samhlú go raibh an focal "comartha" neamh-shonrach, díreach mar atá an focal 'comhramh' i Nua-Ghaeilge agus an focal 'trophy' i Sacsbhéarla.  Sa tearmann sin sa Fhrainc, tógtha timpeall 260 R.C. in onóir dé Cheiltigh agus i gcuimhne catha ina bhfuair treibheanna na mBelgii bua ar threibheanna na n-Armarcach, tá clós plódaithe le líne ar líne de céadta de laochra - dícheannaithe ach fágtha ina gcathéide.    

 

 

   D.  Claimh Cráibdecha

 

Rinne mé cuardach leictreonach sna hannála do "clamh", "lobhar", "leper" agus a n-athrúnna.  Níl aon tagairt ar aon lobhar sna hAnnála Tigernaich nó sna hAnnála Locha Cé, ach fuair mé na tagairtí seo a leanas in annála eile.

 

           1.  In Annála Ríoghachta na hÉireann:    

 

A.D. 551.   S. Neasan Lobhar d'écc. 

A.D. 551.  Fuair Naomh Neasan an lobhar bás.

 

A.D. 722. Don bhliain seo, scríobhadh achoimre ar an scéal "Cath Almaine" ina bhfaighimid tagairt do "bó an claimh", ach níl Áedan an lobhar ainmnithe. 

 

           2.  In Annála Uladh: 

 

A.D. 921.  Indredh Aird Macha ... o Gallaibh Atha Cliath, .i. o Gothbrith oa Imhair, cum suo exercitu, ...  & na taigi aernaighi do anacal lais cona lucht de cheilibh De & di lobraibh... 

A.D. 921.  Ionradh Aird Mhacha... le Gaill Átha Cliath, .i. le Gothfridh ua Íomhair agus a arm... agus fágadh na tithe urnaí agus a gCéilí Dé agus a lobhair gan dochar le Gothfridh...

 

A.D. 952.  Cele clam & ancorita ...

A.D. 952.  Fuair Céile, lobhar agus ancairít, bás...

 

           3.  In Annála Inse Fáil: 

 

A.D. 556.  Nistán leprosus obíit. 

A.D. 556.  Fuair Nistán (.i. "San Neasan") an lobhar bás.

 

           4.  In Annála Chonnacht: 

 

A.D. 1232.  Fachtna h. hAllgaith comarba Dromma Mucado & oificel h. Fiachrach, fer tigi aiged & lubra & leginn & lesaigti tiri & talman, in hoc anno quieuit.

A.D. 1232.  Fachtna Ó hAllgaith, comharb Dhroim Mhucú agus oifigeach Ua Fhiachrach Aidhne, a choimeád teach aoí agus teach lobhar, agus ba fhear léighinn agus ba phatrún na tíre agus talún é, sa bhliain seo fuair sé suaimhneas.

 

           5.  In Chronicon Scotorum: 

 

A.D. 557.   Nessan leprosus quieuit. 

A.D. 557. Fuair Nessan (.i. San Neasan) an lobhar suaimhneas.

 

Mar a fheicimid thuas, tá dlúthbhaint idir lobhair agus Críostaíocht sna hAnnála. 

 

    E.  Cogadh idir Bhrighid 7 Cholm Cille

           

Chuir mainistreacha (agus a naoimh) cogadh ar a chéile go minic go leor sa tréimhse luath Chríostaí.  Mar shampla, sna hAnnála Uladh:

 

A.D. 760.  Bellum hitir muintir Clono 7 Biroir i mMoin Choisse Blae. 

A.D. 760.  Cath idir manistir Chluain Mhic Nóis agus manistir Bhiorra i Móin Choise Blae

 

A.D. 764.  Bellum Arggamain inter familiam Cluana Mocu Nois 7 Dearmaighe ubi ceciderunt Diarmait Dub m. Domnaill 7 Dighlach m. Duib Liss 7 .cc. uiri de familia Dermaige.  Bresal m. Murchada uictor exstetit com familia Cluana. 

A.D. 764.  Cath Argamain idir familia Chluain Mhic Nóis agus (mainistir Choilm Cille ag) Darú inar thit Diarmait Dub mac Domnaill agus Dighlach mac Duib Liss agus 200 fear saor de familia Dharú.  Tháinig Bresal mac Murchada agus familia Chluain Mhic Nóis as an gcath mar bhuaiteoirí.

   

Agus dúradh gur chuir Colm Cille cogadh ar shon Chinéal Chonaill trí na haoiseanna gach uair gur thug Uí Dhomhnaill a Chathach leo isteach i gcath.

 

Achoimre

 

Is scéal iontach saibhir é “Cath Almaine”, lán le cruinneshamhail (.i. 'weltanschauung') na nGael.  Le feabhsú i réimsí mar sheandálaíocht agus thaighde DNA beagnach gach lá, tá súil agam go bhfoghlaimeoimid níos mó faoin scéal seo agus a chreidimh, ghnásanna, ghaolta, agus dheasghnátha ársa sna blianta atá le teacht.

 

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

Foinsí / Sources

 

Alt i Wikipedia:  “Clonycavan Man” ar  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonycavan_Man   

 

Annals of Connacht.  Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT) Edition, eagartha le Mavis Cournane, Vibeke Dijkman, Ivonne Tummers, and others, 1996-2011.   http://celt.ucc.ie/irlpage.html

 

Annals of Inishfallen.  Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT) Edition, eagartha le Seán Mac Airt and others, 1993-2008.   http://celt.ucc.ie/irlpage.html

 

Annals of the Four Masters.  Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT) Edition, eagartha le Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Mavis Cournane, and others, 1992-2005.   http://celt.ucc.ie/irlpage.html 

 

Annals of Ulster, eagartha le Seán Mac Airt 7 Gearóid Mac Niocaill, Cuid a hAon. Baile Átha Cliath:  Institiúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath, 1983.  L. 214 

 

Annals of Ulster.  Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT) Edition, eagartha le Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Mavis Cournane, and others, 1992-2008.   http://celt.ucc.ie/irlpage.html   

 

Byrne, Francis John, Irish Kings and High-Kings.  London:  B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1973.  L. 85-86, 92

 

Cath Almaine, eagartha le Pádraig Ó Riain,   Baile Átha Cliath: Institiúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath, 1978.  Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition (CELT), paragraf 3 ar http://celt.ucc.ie/published/G302022/index.html . 

 

Chronicon Scotorum.  Corpus of Electronic Texts (CELT) Edition, eagartha le Beatrix Färber, Ruth Murphy, and others, 2000-2008.   http://celt.ucc.ie/irlpage.html

 

 

The Story "Battle of Allen" as a Window on Early Christian Ireland

 

The Story

 

"Cath Almaine" (‘Battle of Allen’) is a story written in Middle Irish which was composed some time after 950 A.D. based on a battle which was fought in 722 A.D.  In that year, the High-King Fergal mac Máele Dúin demanded the bóramha or ''cattle-tribute'' from the Laighin.  The Laighin and their king Murchad mac Brain refused.

 

The High-King called on Conn's Half (i.e., on the Uí Néill, the Airghialla, and the Connachta) to come together to invade Leinster.  But, according to the story, the warriors of the North were reluctant.  They said that they should wait to see what Donn Bó would do, the young man who was best in Ireland for the composition of lays, the telling of stories, the harnessing of horses, the riveting of spears, and the plaiting of hair.  But Donn Bó didn't get permission from his mother to go on this hosting until she got a promise from Máel mac Failbe, coarb of St. Colm Cille, that Donn Bó would return to her safe and sound.

 

The warriors of Conn's Half entered Leinster.  The host insulted Áedán, a leper in Cluain Dubhail.  Áedán said that God would avenge him upon the Uí Néill forever.  Donn Bó became terribly discouraged.  He refused to sing or recite for Fergal that night, but he promised that he would sing a song for him the next night no matter where they might be.

 

The hosts came together on December 11, 722 at Cnoc Almhaine, the ‘Hill of Allen’, in Co. Kildare.  Brighid (i.e., St. Brigit) showed herself over the hosts for the sake of the Laighin and Colm Cille (i.e., St. Columba) showed himself above the hosts for the sake of the Uí Néill.  St. Brigit won the day.  The battle was broken on the Uí Néill.  Fergal mac Máele Dúin was killed along with thousands of others on the Uí Néill side.  Many of them were beheaded, including Donn Bó.  That night while the Laighin were celebrating, the Laighin warrior Báethgalach went out to the field of slaughter.  There in the dark, he heard the head of Donn Bó singing sweetly for Fergal in fulfillment of his promise.  At last, through a miracle of Colm Cille (St. Columba), the head of Donn Bó was placed back on his neck and he came home safe and sound to his mother. 

 

A Window on Early Christian Ireland

 

For a good part of the ancient beliefs, norms, relationships, and rituals found in the story called "Cath Almaine", we can find corroboration in various fields such as archeology, DNA research, and European history. Let's look at some of these cultural characteristics, particularly those which are corroborated by new research.

 

   A.  Donn Bó and his Hair

 

...is uad bud ferr rann espa ocus ríg-scéla for doman. Is é bud ferr do glés ech ocus do innsma shleg ocus d'fhige fholt. 

 

... he was the best in the world in composing lays and telling royal stories.  He was the best at harnessing horses, rivetting spears, and plaiting hair.

 

We can see from these lines that the Gaeil had significant interest in the appearance of their hair in the early Christian period. We now have definite evidence that such interest came down from the centuries before Christ.

 

A human sacrifice was found in 2003 in a bog in Clonycavan, Co. Meath. According to radiocarbon dating done on this "Clonycavan Man", he was alive at some time between 392 BC and 201 B.C. During his lifetime, he gave much attention to his hair and he used a kind of hair-gel made from plant oil and resin imported from SE Europe. 

 

We know that the human head was important in the religion and ritual of the Celts.  It is easy to understand, therefore, that hair and its appearance were also important.

 

There were others in Europe in the Iron Age who were interested in hair-plaiting and hair-styles. In 1948, "Osterby Man" was found in a bog near Osterby, Germany. He was a warrior of the Suebi, a warrior of the Germanic tribe mentioned by Tacitus and renowned for the 'Swabian Knot' in their hair. "Osterby Man" was alive about the first century after Christ.

 

   B.  Connachta, Uí Néill, Airghialla, and DNA

 

Ba trom trá la Fergal sin .i. Laigin do nemchomall a n-gellta fris, co rofhuacrad sluaiged dírecra dímór uad for Leith Chuinn .i. for Eogan ocus for Conall ocus for Airgiallaib ocus Mide ... do thobach na bórama.     

 

That was onerous to Fergal, i.e., that the Laighin did not fulfill their promise to him, and he called on Conn's Half for a great hosting, i.e., on the Cinéal eoghain and Cinéal Chonaill and the Airghialla and Míde... to levy the Bóramha.

  

In this sentence, we can see reference to the "official genealogy" of the Dál Chuinn created by the seanchaidthe of the Uí Néill which claims that the Connachta, Uí Néill In Tuaiscirt (with Cinéal Chonaill and Cinéal Eoghain among them), Clann Choirpre mhic Néill (who are not mentioned in this sentence), Mide (.i. Uí Néill in Deiscirt), and Airghialla, descend from Conn Chéadchathach.

 

In 2006, geneticists at Trinity College, Dublin, suggested that most of the Uí Néill descend from someone who lived some 1700 years ago and that person was the "most fecund" man in the history of Ireland. As we would expect, it's thought that this was Niall Naoighiallach.

 

Between 2006 and 2009, it was confirmed that most of the Uí Néill and Connachta descend from one common ancestor.  In those studies, the geneticists had plenty of DNA samples from the Uí Bhriúin and the Uí Fhiachrach, but it was difficult to find DNA samples from the Uí Ailella and the Uí Fergusa.  (As for Fergus, only the Síl Fergusa Cháecháin descend from him.)  In the genealogies, as we know, Eochu Mugmedón was the common ancestor of the Connachta and Uí Néill. But it is also possible that this common DNA comes down from an ancestor of Eochu, unknown or legendary (e.g. Muiredach Tírech, Fiachu Sraiptine, Cairbre Lifechair, 7rl.).    

 

The Uí Ruairc are an important exception. We expect from Seanchas that they would descend from the Uí Bhriúin, but they have a distinct DNA 'haplogroup'; i.e., they do not descend from the Uí Bhriúin.  Also, despite the official genealogies of the Uí Néill (and as predicted by T.F. O'Rahilly and other authors), there is no blood relationship between the Airghialla and the Connachta.  And as Byrne shows with the following verse (written in a text of Féineachas in the 8th Century), there was no consanguinity either between Dal Chuinn (i.e., the Féini) and the Ulaidh, or between the Dal Chuinn and the Laighin:

 

There were three primary kinships in Ireland, i.e., the Féini and Ulaidh and Gáilióin, i.e., the Laighin.

 

   C.  The Human Head as a Trophy

 

Is ann-sin roráid Murchad mac Brain: "Do-bérainn carpat ceithre cumala ocus mo ech ocus m'errad don láech noragad isin n-ármach ocus do-bérad comartha chucainn as."   "Ragat-sa," ar Báethgalach ...  

 

Then Murchad mac Brain said:  "I would give a chariot worth four cumhal and my steed and my battle dress to the warrior who would go into the place of slaughter and who would bear a trophy to us out of it."  "I will go," said Báethgalach...

 

Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that we can find head-hunting or head-taking in virtually every early Irish story except in those of naomhsheanchas. (Even in the area of the Faith, we can see images of heads on churches as at Díseart Uí Dheághaidh.) There is corroboration for our headhunting among the Celts outside Ireland in accounts written by Poseidonius, Strabo, Livy, Ammianus, Diodorus Siculus, and others. Celtic warriors took the heads of famous commanders such as the Roman general Postumius and the Greek king Ptolemy Keraunos.

 

But in the story "Cath Almaine", when the warrior Báethgalach said he would go out to bring back a trophy from the field of slaughter, Murchad mac Brain said nothing about a human head.  Based on newly-discovered remains in a Celtic sanctuary at Ribemont-sur-Ancre, France, we can imagine that the word "comartha" was non-specific, just as is the word 'comhramh' in Modern Irish and the word 'trophy' in English. In this sanctuary, built around 260 B.C. in honor of a Celtic god and in memory of a battle in which tribes of the Belgii won a victory over Armorican tribes, the enclosure is crowded with row on row of hundreds of warriors, decapitated but still in their battle-armor. 

 

   D.  Pious Lepers

 

I did an electronic search in the annals for "clamh", "lobhar", "leper" and their variations. There is no reference to any leper in the Annals of Tigenach or the Annals of Loch Cé, but I found the following references in other annals.

 

           1.  Annála of the Four Masters:    

 

A.D. 551.   S. Neasan Lobhar d'écc. 

A.D. 551.  St. Neasan the leper died.

 

A.D. 722. For this year, a summary of the story "Cath Almaine" was written in which we find reference to "the cow of the leper", but Áedan the leper is not named. 

 

          2.  Annals of Ulster: 

 

A.D. 921.  Indredh Aird Macha ... o Gallaibh Atha Cliath, .i. o Gothbrith oa Imhair, cum suo exercitu, ...  & na taigi aernaighi do anacal lais cona lucht de cheilibh De & di lobraibh... 

A.D. 921.  Invasion of Ard Macha ... by the Foreigners of Áth Cliath, .i. by Gothfrith grandson of Ímar, with his army, ... and the houses of prayer were spared by him with their culdees and of lepers...

 

A.D. 952.  Cele clam & ancorita ..

A.D. 952.  Céile, leper and anchorite, died...

 

          3.  Annals of Inisfallen: 

 

A.D. 556.  Nistán leprosus obíit. 

A.D. 556.  Nistán (St. Nessan) the leper died.

 

          4.  Annals of Connacht: 

 

A.D. 1232.  Fachtna h. hAllgaith comarba Dromma Mucado & oificel h. Fiachrach, fer tigi aiged & lubra & leginn & lesaigti tiri & talman, in hoc anno quieuit.

A.D. 1232.  Fachtna Ó hAllgaith, coarb of Drumacoo and Official of the Uí Fiachrach, who kept a guest-house and a leper-house and was (a man) of learning and a benefactor of the countryside, rested this year.

   

           5.  Chronicon Scotorum: 

 

A.D. 557.  Nessan leprosus quieuit. 

A.D. 557.  Nessan (.i. San Neasan) the leper rested.

 

As we see above, there is a close link between lepers and Christianity in the Annals.

 

     E.  War between St. Brigit and St. Columba

 

The monasteries (and saints) made war on each other often enough in the early Christian period. For example, in the Annals of Ulster:

 

A.D. 760.  Bellum hitir muintir Clono 7 Biroir i mMoin Choisse Blae. 

A.D. 760.  A battle between the monastery of Clonmacnoise and the monastery of Birr in Móin Choise Blae

 

A.D. 764.  Bellum Arggamain inter familiam Cluana Mocu Nois 7 Dearmaighe ubi ceciderunt Diarmait Dub m. Domnaill 7 Dighlach m. Duib Liss 7 .cc. uiri de familia Dermaige.  Bresal m. Murchada uictor exstetit com familia Cluana. 

A.D. 764.  The Battle of Argamain between the family of Clonmacnoise and (the monastery of St. Columba) at Durrow in which fell Diarmait Dub mac Domhnail and Dighlach mac Duib Liss and 200 free men of the family of Durrow.  Bresal mac Murchada and the family of Clonmacnoise came out of the battle as victors.

 

And it was said that Colm Cille (St. Columba) made war for the sake of Cinéal Chonaill through the ages each time the Uí Dhomhnaill brought his Cathach into battle with them.

 

Summary

 

"Cath Almaine" is a wonderfully rich story, filled with the world-view (. i. 'weltanschauung') of the Gaeil.  With improvement in areas like archaeology and DNA research almost every day, I expect we will learn more about this story and its ancient beliefs, practices, relationships, and rituals in the coming years.

 

 

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

Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae, eagartha le M.A. O'Brien.  Baile Átha Cliath: Institiúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath, 1976.  L. 132, paragraf 138 a 42 

 

PPBS Nova:  “Bog Bodies of the Iron Age”. par. 9 ar http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bog/iron-nf.html 

 

Rankin, David.  Celts and the Classical World.  New York:  Routledge, 1996.   L. 51

 

Suíomh idirlín:  "Les Ambieni:  Réconstitutions d'Archéologie Vivant" ar http://www.les-ambiani.com/ 

 

Suíomh Idirlín:  “Uí Néill DNA” ar http://clanmaclochlainn.com/dna.htm 

 

Suíomh Idirlín:  “Uí Néill DNA” ar http://clanmaclochlainn.com/dna.htm

 

Suíomh idirlín:  http://www.culture.gouv.fr/fr/arcnat/aerien/en/decou3-pg9b.htm .  “Gallic and Gallo-Roman sanctuaries”

 

Suíomh idirlín:  http://www.familytreedna.com/public/BreifneClans/default.aspx?section=results . 

 

Táim an-bhuíoch den Ollamh Tomás Ó Cathasaigh as a aistriúchán "The Battle of Allen", Coursepack, Celtic E-114, Early Irish Historical Tales, Spring Term, 2011

 

Táim an-bhuíoch den Ollamh Tomás Ó Cathasaigh as an moladh go bhfuil i litríocht luath Chríostaí na hÉireann gaol ar leith idir lobhair agus Dia nó idir lobhair agus Críostaíocht.

 

 

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