Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

Mary Frances Cusack
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 779 pages of information about An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800.

[199] Irish.—­The history of the two hundred years during which these northern pirates desolated the island, has been preserved in a MS. of venerable age and undoubted authenticity.  It is entitled Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh (the Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gall).  It was quoted by Keating, known to Colgan, and used by the Four Masters; but for many years it was supposed to have been completely lost, until it was discovered, in 1840, by Mr. O’Curry, among the Seabright MSS.  The work is now edited, with a translation and most valuable notes, by Dr. Todd.  Several other copies have been discovered since, notably one by the Franciscan Brother, Michael O’Clery, which is at present in the Burgundian Library at Brussels.  From internal evidence, it is presumed that the author was a contemporary of King Brian Boroimhe.  Dr. O’Connor refers the authorship to Mac Liag, who was chief poet to that monarch, and died in 1016, two years after his master.  Dr. Todd evidently inclines to this opinion, though he distinctly states that there is no authority for it.

[200] Death.—­It appears doubtful whether he really died at this time.  It is said that he repented of his sins of sacrilege, and ended his days in penance and religious retirement.  See Four Masters, p. 472.

[201] Conquered.—­Duald Mac Firbis gives a curious account of these contests in his fragments of Annals.  The White Galls, or Norwegians, had long been masters of the situation.  The Black Galls fought with them for three days and nights, and were finally victorious.  They take the ships they have captured to Dublin, and deprive the Lochlanns (Black Galls) of all the spoil they had so cruelly and unjustly acquired from the “shrines and sanctuaries of the saints of Erinn;” which the annalist naturally considers a judgment on them for their sins.  They make another struggle, and gain the victory.  But the Banish general, Horm, advises his men to put themselves under the protection of St. Patrick, and to promise the saint “honorable alms for gaining victory and triumph” over enemies who had plundered his churches.  They comply with this advice; and though greatly inferior in numbers, they gain the victory, “on account of the tutelage of St. Patrick.”

[202] Carlow.—­The site of the battle is still shown there, and even the stone on which the soldier decapitated Cormac.  Cormac’s death is thus described in a MS. in the Burgundian Library:  “The hind feet of his horse slipped on the slippery road in the track of that blood; the horse fell backwards, and broke his [Cormac’s] back and his neck in twain; and he said, when falling, In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum, and he gives up his spirit; and the impious sons of malediction come and thrust spears into his body, and sever his head from his body.”  Keating gives a curious account of this battle, from an ancient tract not known at present.

[203] Amlaff.—­Dr. Todd identifies Amlaff with Olaf Huita (the white), of Scandinavian history, who was usually styled King of Dublin, and was the leader of the Northmen in Ireland for many years.  See “Introduction” to the Wars of the Gaedhil, p. 69.

Follow Us on Facebook