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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.

The insult offered to his daughters, and their untimely death, roused the indignation of the pagan monarch, and was soon bitterly avenged.  At the head of a powerful force, he burned and ravaged Leinster to its utmost boundary, and then compelled its humbled and terror-stricken people to bind themselves and their descendants for ever to the payment of a triennial tribute to the monarch of Erinn, which, from the great number of cows exacted by it, obtained the name of the “Boromean Tribute”—­bo being the Gaedhilic for a cow.

The tribute is thus described in the old annals: 

    “The men of Leinster were obliged to pay
    To Tuathal, and all the monarchs after him,
    Three-score hundred of the fairest cows,
    And three-score hundred ounces of pure silver,
    And three-score hundred mantles richly woven,
    And three-score hundred of the fattest hogs,
    And three-score hundred of the largest sheep,
    And three-score hundred cauldrons strong and polished[100].”

It is elsewhere described as consisting of five thousand ounces of silver, five thousand mantles, five thousand fat cows, five thousand fat hogs, five thousand wethers, and five thousand vessels of brass or bronze for the king’s laving, with men and maidens for his service.

The levying of the tribute was the cause of periodical and sanguinary wars, from the time of Tuathal until the reign of Finnachta the Festive.  About the year 680 it was abolished by him, at the entreaty of St. Moling, of Tigh Moling (now St. Mullen’s, in the county Carlow).  It is said by Keating, that he a ailed himself of a pious ruse for this purpose,—­asking the king to pledge himself not to exact the tribute until after Monday, and then, when his request was complied with, declaring that the Monday he intended was the Monday after Doomsday.  The tribute was again revived and levied by Brian, the son of Cinneidigh, at the beginning of the eleventh century, as a punishment on the Leinster men for their adherence to the Danish cause.  It was from this circumstance that Brian obtained the surname of Boroimhe.

[Illustration:  LOUGH HYNE.]

FOOTNOTES: 

[81] Samhain.—­Now All Hallows Eve.  The peasantry still use the pagan name.  It is a compound word, signifying “summer” and “end.”

[82] Breifne.—­In the present county Cavan.  We shall refer again to this subject, when mentioning St. Patrick’s destruction of the idols.

[83] Colours.—­Keating says that a slave was permitted only one colour, a peasant two, a soldier three, a public victualler five.  The Ollamh ranked, with royalty, and was permitted six—­another of the many proofs of extraordinary veneration for learning in pre-Christian Erinn.  The Four Masters, however, ascribe the origin of this distinction to Eochaidh Eadghadhach.  It is supposed that this is the origin of the Scotch plaid.  The ancient Britons dyed their bodies blue.  The Cymric Celts were famous for their colours.

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