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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.

Tuathal reigned for thirty years, and is said to have fought no less than 133 battles with the Attacotti.  He was at last slain himself by his successor, Nial, who, in his turn, was killed by Tuathal’s son.  Conn “of the Hundred Battles” is the next Irish monarch who claims more than a passing notice.  His exploits are a famous theme with the bards, and a poem on his “Birth” forms part of the Liber Flavus Fergusorum, a MS. volume of the fifteenth century.  His reign is also remarkable for the mention of five great roads[101] which were then discovered or completed.  One of these highways, the Eiscir Riada, extended from the declivity on which Dublin Castle now stands, to the peninsula of Marey, at the head of Galway Bay.  It divided Conn’s half of Ireland from the half possessed by Eoghan Mor, with whom he lived in the usual state of internecine feud which characterized the reigns of this early period.  One of the principal quarrels between these monarchs, was caused by a complaint which Eoghan made of the shipping arrangements in Dublin.  Conn’s half (the northern side) was preferred, and Eoghan demanded a fair division.  They had to decide their claims at the battle of Magh Lena.[102] Eoghan was assisted by a Spanish chief, whose sister he had married.  But the Iberian and his Celtic brother-in-law were both slain, and the mounds are still shown which cover their remains.

Conn was succeeded by Conaire II., the father of the three Cairbres, who were progenitors of important tribes.  Cairbre Muse gave his name to six districts in Munster; the territory of Corcabaiscinn, in Clare, was named after Cairbre Bascain; and the Dalriada of Antrim were descended from Cairbre Riada.  He is also mentioned by Bede under the name of Reuda,[103] as the leader of the Scots who came from Hibernia to Alba.  Three centuries later, a fresh colony of Dalriadans laid the foundation of the Scottish monarchy under Fergus, the son of Erc.  Mac Con was the next Ard-Righ or chief monarch of Ireland.  He obtained the royal power after a battle at Magh Mucruimhe, near Athenry, where Art the Melancholy, son of Con of the Hundred Battles, and the seven sons of Oilioll Oluim, were slain.

The reign of Cormac Mac Airt is unquestionably the most celebrated of all our pagan monarchs.  During his early years he had been compelled to conceal himself among his mother’s friends in Connaught; but the severe rule of the usurper Mac Con excited a desire for his removal, and the friends of the young prince were not slow to avail themselves of the popular feeling.  He, therefore, appeared unexpectedly at Tara, and happened to arrive when the monarch was giving judgment in an important case, which is thus related:  Some sheep, the property of a widow, residing at Tara, had strayed into the queen’s private lawn, and eaten the grass.  They were captured, and the case was brought before the king.  He decided that the trespassers should be forfeited; but Cormac

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