The Graves of the Kings at Clonmacnois
Author: R. I. Best
An electronic edition
O cemetery of the warriors of Conn’s Half, which of thy
nobles do I not extol! O sanctuary on whose floor is no stain!
O place wherein Ciaran suffered!
O great temple which all extol for thy dignity and thy
fortune, two with tapering fingers, mild was their glory, two
kings of Erin, are under thine altar!
Toirrdelbach on the southern side of it, Ruaidri on the other
lofty side, a fierce and gentle pair, without stealth for a while,
two comely high-kings of Erin.
Westwards from the chancel then, the bed of Ruaidri’s son,
the bountiful, a young scion who was prosperous, the king of
every province, Conchobar.
Diarmait son of Magnus the Great, for whom Jesus ordained
honour, a branch which sprang from Aed Engach, side by side
O flagstone of Guaire’s bed, under thy green sod are
Ragallach, Muiredach, Tadg of the three Rosses, Indrechtach
Murgal and Tomaltach the mighty, [and] Muirgius [are]
under thy wall, great the tale. God hath given dignity to
Cluan - the noble kings at the same time!
O flagstone of the proud high-kings, beneath thee are the
bodies of the three Tadgs; beneath thee also, I speak truthfully,
three Conchobars, two Cathals!
It is beneath thee that Aed Engach is, plunderer of the
household of Tara! Beneath thee, grace is shown, are Diarmaid
Cathal, and Cellach!
Beneath thy flagstone down-lying are O’Heyne, lord of
Finnmag, Domnall, and Tadg from Echtge, Aed Balb, Aed
It is thirty kings in all of the folk of royal rank, of the kings
of Cruachan who believed, that are under the flagstone of the
kings in thy cemetery!
Ruaidri in this temple to the south, Diarmait son of Tadg,
side by side, Conchobar, Aed, head to head, two sons of
Ruaidri, king of Erin!
Brian of Breifne, Mathgamain the gentle, Muirgius beneath
the same stone I see, people who refused naught to anyone,
folk of the royal temple of Ruaidri!
O great flagstone of the descendant of Maelruanach, to behold
thee is not an order (?) of pride: twenty kings, and their heads
’neath thy cross, are under the mould which thou hast closed!
O flagstone of Cuanu the descendant of Cellach, good the
order (?) of the wealth that purchased thee, eighteen men of pure
excellence, from Cellach the Great to Murchad!
O flagstone of the descendants of Tadg of the Household,
noble this folk to follow them: eighteen men of pure excellence,
from Tadg Cuana to Cathal!
O stone of the descendants of Concenainn, thou hast concealed
men of estate: seventeen men of shining valour ’neath
thy comely angelic cemetery!
Beneath thy chaste mould, O church, are two ollaves of
Erin: Mac Coisse, sway over whom I have not heard of, and
Cuchuana of Connacht!
O chaste temple of the children of Niall, in the time of
Diarmait of the smooth face, fifty kings, ’tis no small portion,
have come to thee, O cemetery!
Since the day I fashioned this song, the coarb sent me away
from Cluain; the abbot took from me what I had made, the
account of thy kings, O cemetery!
Said the clerics of Cluain; sing not thy songs to us! sing to
themselves at their feasts a poem to the profit of Muiredach’s seed!
Therefore I carry the work to Cathal the descendant of
Conchobar, since the clerics of Cluain have refused its profit, its
I give thanks to the king of heaven, to God I give thanks,
for having come to the king of Tuam, with whom I am, from the
paupers of Cluain Ciaran.
May Christ of the arts hold in His keeping the son of my
king, Cathal of the Red-Hand! may God save the person who
comes: that is a wish for every cemetery!
© 2007 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae