The Settling of the Manor of Tara
Author: R. I. Best
An electronic edition
THE SETTLING OF THE MANOR OF TARA
THE Ui Neill were once in conference in Magh Bregh in the time
of Diarmait son of Fergus Cerball, and this was what they
discussed. The demesne of Tara seemed excessive to them, that is,
the plain with seven views on every side, and they considered the
curtailing of that green, for they deemed it unprofitable to have so
much land without house or cultivation upon it, and of no service
to the hearth of Tara. For every three years they were obliged to
support the men of Ireland and to feed them for seven days and
seven nights. It was in this fashion then they used to proceed to the
feast of Diarmait son of Cerball. No king used to go without a
queen, or chieftain without a chieftainess, or warrior without . .
or fop without a harlot, or hospitaller without a consort, or youth
without a love, or maiden without a lover, or man without an art.
2. The kings and ollaves used to be placed around Diarmait
son of Cerball, that is, kings and ollaves together, warriors and
reavers together. The youths and maidens and the proud foolish
folk in the chambers around the doors; and his proper portion
was given to each one, that is, choice fruit and oxen and boars
and flitches for kings and ollaves, and for the free noble elders
of the men of Ireland likewise: stewards and stewardesses carving
and serving for them. Then red meat from spits of iron, and bragget
and new ale and milk water (?) for warriors and reavers: and
jesters and cup-bearers carving and serving for them. Heads-and-feet (?)
next and . . . of all [kinds of] cattle to charioteers and
jugglers and for the rabble and common people, with charioteers
and jugglers and doorkeepers carving and dispensing for them.
Veal then and lamb and pork and the seventh portion . . . outside
for young men and maidens, because their mirth used to entertain
them . . . and their nobility (?) used to be awaiting them (?).
Free mercenaries and female hirelings carving and dispensing for
3. The nobles of Ireland were then summoned to the feast to
the house of Tara by Diarmait son of Cerball. And they said that
they would not partake of the feast of Tara until the settling of the
manor of Tara was determined, how it was before their day and how
it would be after them for all time, and they delivered that answer
to Diarmait. And Diarmait replied that it was not right to ask
him to partition the manor of Tara without taking counsel of
Flann Febla son of Scannlan son of Fingen, that is, the head
of Ireland and the successor of Patrick, or of Fiachra son of the
embroideress. Messengers were accordingly dispatched to Fiachra
son of Colman son of Eogan, and he was brought unto them to help
them, for few were their learned men, and many were their unlearned,
and numerous their contentions and their problems.
4. Then Fiachra arrived, and they asked the same thing of him,
namely to partition for them the manor of Tara. And he answered
them that he would not give a decision on that matter until they
should send for one wiser and older than himself. Where is he?
said they. No hard matter that, said he, even Cennfaelad
son of Ailill son of Muiredach son of Eogan son of Niall. It is from
his head, said he, that the brain of forgetfulness was removed
at the battle of Magh Rath, that is to say, he remembers all that
he heard on the history of Ireland from that time down to the present
day. It is right that he should come to decide for you.
5. Cennfaelad was then sent for, and he came to them, and they
asked him also the same thing. And Cennfaelad replied: It is
not proper for you to ask that of me so long as the five seniors to
us all are in Ireland. Where are they? said the men of
Ireland. Easy to tell, said he, Finnchad from Falmag of
Leinster, and Cú-alad from Cruachu Conalad, and Bran Bairne
from Bairenn, Dubán son of Deg from the province of the Fir
Olnegmacht, Tuan son of Cairell from Ulster, he who passed into
6. These five were then sent for, and they were brought to them
to Tara, and they asked the same thing of them, namely to partition
for them the manor of Tara. Then each of the five related what
he remembered, and this is what they said, that it was not proper
for them to partition Tara and its manor so long as their senior
and fosterer in Ireland were without the assembly. Where
then is he? asked the men of Ireland. Not hard to tell,
said they. Fintan son of Bóchra, son of Bith, son of Noah.
He was at Dun Tulcha in Kerry.
7. Then Berran, Cennfaelad’s attendant, went for Fintan to
Dun Tulcha to the west of Luachair Dedaid. And he delivered
his message to him. Then Fintan came with him to Tara. And
his retinue consisted of eighteen companies, namely, nine before
him and nine behind. And there was not one among them who
was not of the seed of Fintan—sons, grandsons, great-grandsons,
and descendants of his was that host.
8. A great welcome was given to Fintan in the banqueting house,
and all were glad at his coming to hear his words and his stories.
And they all rose up before him, and they bade him sit in the judge’s
seat. But Fintan said he would not go into it until he knew his
question. And he said to them There is no need to make rejoicing
for me, for I am sure of your welcome as every son is sure of his
fostermother, and this then is my fostermother, said Fintan, the
island in which ye are, even Ireland, and the familiar knee of this
is the hill on which ye are, namely, Tara. Moreover, it is
the mast and the produce, the flowers and the food of this island
that have sustained me from the Deluge until to-day. And I am
skilled in its feasts and its cattle-spoils, its destructions and its
courtships, in all that have taken place from the Deluge until now.
And then he made a lay:
9. Ireland, though it is enquired of me,
I know accurately
every colonization it has undergone
since the beginning of the pleasant world.
Cessair came from the east,
the woman, daughter of Bith,
with her fifty maidens
and her trio of men.
The Deluge overtook them,
though it was a sad pity,
and drowned them all
each one on his height.
Bith north in Sliab Betha,
sad was the mystery,
Ladru in Ard Ladrann,
Cessair in her recess.
As for me I was saved
by the Son of God, a protection over the throng,
the Deluge parted from me
above massive Tul Tuinde.
I was a year under the Deluge
at bracing Tul Tuinde.
There has not been slept, there will not be,
any better sleep.
Then Parthalon came to me
from the east, from the Grecian land,
and I lived on with his progeny
though it was a long way.
I was still in Ireland
when Ireland was a wilderness,
until Agnoman’s son came,
Nemed, pleasant his ways.
Next came the Fir Bolg,
that is a fair true tale.
I lived together with them,
whilst they were in the land.
The Fir Bolg and Fir Galion
came, it was long [thereafter].
The Fir Domnann came,
they settled in Irrus in the west.
Then came the Tuatha Dé
in clouds of dark mist,
and I lived along with them
though it was a long life.
The sons of Míl came then
into the land against them.
I was along with every tribe
until the time ye see.
After that came the sons of Míl
out of Spain from the south,
and I lived along with them
though mighty was their combat.
I had attained to long life,
I will not hide it,
when the Faith came to me
from the King of the cloudy heaven.
I am white Fintan,
Bóchra’s son, I will not hide it.
Since the Deluge here
I am a high noble sage.
Good, O Fintan, said they. We are the better for
every neglect (?) which we may cause thee, and we should like to
know from thee how reliable thy memory is. That is no hard
matter, said he. One day I passed through a wood in West
Munster in the west. I took away with me a red yew berry and
I planted it in the garden of my court, and it grew up there until
it was as big as a man. Then I removed it from the garden and
planted it on the lawn of my court even, and it grew up in the
centre of that lawn so that I could fit with a hundred warriors under
its foliage, and it protected me from wind and rain, and from cold
and heat. I remained and so did my yew flourishing together, until
it shed its foliage from decay. Then when I had no hope of
turning it even so to my profit, I went and cut it from its stock,
and made from it seven vats and seven ians and seven drolmachs,
seven churns, seven pitchers, seven milans, and seven methars
with hoops for all of them. So I remained then and my yew vessels
with me until their hoops fell off through decay and age. Then
I re-made them all, but could get only an ian out of a vat, and a
drolmach out of an ian, and a churn out of a drolmach, and a pitcher
out of a churn, and a milan out of a pitcher, and a methar out of a
milan. And I swear to Almighty God I know not where those
substitutes are since they perished with me from decay.
Thou art indeed venerable,
said Diarmait. It is transgression
of an elder’s judgement to transgress thy judgement. And it is
for that reason we have summoned thee, that thou shouldst be the
one to pronounce just judgement for us. It is true indeed,
said he, that I am skilled in every just judgement that has been
given from the beginning of the world until this day. And then
he made the following lay:
12. I know in this way,
no foolish one will find it,
the first judge, boasting and no concealment,
who pronounced without fault the first judgement.
Judgement on the Devil over Druim Den.
I know the manner in which it was given.
Dear God gave it, the report spread,
as it was the first crime, ’twas the first judgement.
The gift divine of dear God,
so that men should have judgement,
the law of fair speech [i.e. Latin] was given
to Moses, greater than every good law.
Moses delivered, bright deed,
the perfect judgements of the letter.
David delivered after that
the true judgements of prophecy.
Fénius Farsaid, long-life (?) of favour,
and Cai Cáin-brethach,
by them were given, no trifling festival,
the two and seventy tongues.
Amairgen of the island of the Gael,
our gold, our glory, our ray,
Amairgen Glungel the valorous
gave the first judgement concerning Tara.
Three kings in Liathdruim na Ler
and the four sons of Míl,
they strove for the mighty possession
of the illustrious island of Ireland.
There Amairgen pronounced for them
the most wise and fair judgement
that the sons of Míl should go out
over ten waves on the mirthful sea.
Thereupon they put out to sea,
the four sons of the king of Spain,
and they buried, a festival over the waves,
Dond, whom they left at Tech Duind.
After valiant and cunning fight
Ir was left in the rough-splintered (?) clay of the Skellig.
Thereupon the hosts of Eber and Eremon
and after loss of their force they occupied
Ireland, on escaping from Egypt.
Thereafter Jesus was born
from Mary maiden,
and judgements were declared with goodness,
through the pure holy new covenant.
This is enough of eloquence . . .
the little crown of the performances of fair judgements,
that the eager hosts should know,
that they might be learned in learning.
Good, O Fintan,
said they. We are the better of thy
coming to relate the story of Ireland. I remember truly,
said he, the progression of the history of Ireland, how it has been
therein until now, and how it will be also until doom. A
question, said they. How hast thou acquired that, and of that
history what is indispensable to help us in the matter of our discussion,
the settling of the manor of Tara? No hard matter
that, said Fintan. I will relate to you meanwhile something
14. Once we were holding a great assembly of the men of Ireland
around Conaing Bec-eclach, King of Ireland. On a day then
in that assembly we beheld a great hero, fair and mighty, approaching
us from the west at sunset. We wondered greatly at the magnitude
of his form. As high as a wood was the top of his shoulders, the
sky and the sun visible between his legs, by reason of his size
and his comeliness. A shining crystal veil about him like unto
raiment of precious linen. Sandals upon his feet, and it is
not known of what material they were. Golden-yellow hair upon
him falling in curls to the level of his thighs. Stone tablets in his
left hand, a branch with three fruits in his right hand, and these
are the three fruits which were on it, nuts and apples and acorns
in May-time: and unripe was each fruit. He strode past us
then round the assembly, with his golden many coloured branch
of Lebanon wood behind him, and one of us said to him, Come
hither and hold speech with the king, Conaing Bec-eclach.
He made answer and said, What is it that ye desire of me?
To know whence thou hast come, said they, and whither
thou goest, and what is thy name and surname.
I have come indeed,
said he, from the setting of the
sun, and I am going unto the rising, and my name is Trefuilngid
Tre-eochair. Why has that name been given unto thee? said
they. Easy to say, said he. Because it is I who cause
the rising of the sun and its setting. And what has brought
thee to the setting, if it is at the rising thou dost be?
Easy to say, said he. A man who has been tortured—that
is, who has been crucified by Jews to-day; for it stepped past
them after that deed, and has not shone upon them, and
that is what has brought me to the setting to find out what
ailed the sun; and then it was revealed to me, and when I knew
the lands over which the sun set I came to Inis Gluairi off Irrus
Domnann; and I found no land from that westwards, for that is
the threshold over which the sun sets, just as the Paradise of Adam
is the threshold over which it rises.
16. Say then,
what is your race, and whence have
ye come into this island? Easy to say, said Conaing Bececlach.
From the children of Míl of Spain and from the Greeks
are we sprung. After the building of the Tower of Nimrod, and
the confusion of tongues, we came into Egypt, upon the invitation of
Pharaoh King of Egypt. Nél son of Fénius and Goedel Glas were
our chiefs while we were in the south. Hence we are called Féne
from Fénius, that is the Féne, and Gaels from Gaedel Glas, as was
The Féne from Fénius are named, meaning without straining,
the Gaels from Gaedel Glas the hospitable, the Scots from Scota.
Scota, then, the daughter of Pharaoh the king was given as a
wife to Nél son of Fénius on going into Egypt. So that she is our
ancestress, and it is from her we are called Scots.
In the night then in which the children of Israel escaped
out of Egypt, when they went with dry feet through the Red Sea
with the leader of the people of God, even Moses son of Amram, and
when Pharaoh and his host were drowned in that sea, having kept
the Hebrews in bondage, because our forefathers went not with
the Egyptians in pursuit of the people of God, they dreaded
Pharaoh’s wrath against them should he return, and even if Pharaoh
should not return they feared that the Egyptians would enslave
them as they had enslaved the children of Israel on another occasion.
So they escaped in the night in ten of Pharaoh’s ships upon the
strait of the Red Sea, upon the boundless ocean, and round the
world north-west, past the Caucasus mountains, past Scythia and
India, across the sea that is there, namely the Caspian, over the
Palus Maeotis, past Europe, from the south-east to the south-west
along the Mediterranean, left-hand to Africa, past the Columns
of Hercules to Spain, and thence to this island.
18. And Spain,
said Trefuilngid, where is that land?
Not hard to say. It is the distance of a great prospect from us
to the south, said Conaing. For it is by a view (?) Ith son of
Breogan saw the mountains of southern Irrus from the top of the
tower of Breogan in Spain, and he it is who came to spy out this
island for the sons of Míl, and on his track we came into it, in the
ninth year after the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea.
19. How many are you in this island?
I should like to see you assembled in one place. We are not
so few indeed, replied Conaing, and if thou desirest it, so shall
it be done; only I think it will distress the people to support thee
during that period. It will be no distress, said he, for the
fragrance of this branch which is in my hand will serve me for food
and drink as long as I live.
20. He remained then with them forty days and nights until the
men of Ireland were assembled for him at Tara. And he saw them
all in one place, and he said to them, What chronicles have ye of
the men of Ireland in the royal house of Tara? Make them known
to us. And they answered, we have no old shanachies, in truth,
to whom we could entrust the chronicles until thou didst come
to us. Ye will have that from me, said he. I will establish
for you the progression of the stories and chronicles of the hearth of
Tara itself with the four quarters of Ireland round about; for I am the
truly learned witness who explains to all everything unknown.
21. Bring to me then seven from every quarter in Ireland,
who are the wisest, the most prudent and most cunning also, and
the shanachies of the king himself who are of the hearth of Tara;
for it is right that the four quarters [should be present] at the
partition of Tara and its chronicles, that each seven may take its
due share of the chronicles of the hearth of Tara.
22. Thereupon he addressed those shanachies apart, and related
to them the chronicles of every part of Ireland. And afterwards
he said to the king, even Conaing. Do thou come thyself for a
space apart that I may relate to thee and the company of the men
of Ireland with thee how we have partitioned Ireland, as I have
made it known to the four groups of seven yonder. Thereupon
he related it to them all again in general, and it was to me, said
Fintan, it was entrusted for explanation and for delivery before the
host, I being the oldest shanachie he found before him in Ireland.
For I was in Tul Tuinde at the time of the Deluge, and I was alone
there after the Deluge for a thousand and two years, when Ireland
was desert. And I was co-eval afterwards with every generation that
occupied it down to the day Trefuilngid came into the assembly
of Conaing Bec-eclach, therefore it was Trefuilngid questioned me
through his knowledge of interrogation:’
said he, and Ireland, how has it been partitioned,
where have things been therein?
Easy to say, said Fintan: knowledge in the west, battle
in the north, prosperity in the east, music in the south, kingship
in the centre (?).
True indeed, O Fintan, said Trefuilngid, thou art an excellent
shanachie. It is thus that it has been, and will be for ever, namely:
24. Her learning, her foundation, her teaching, her alliance, her
judgement, her chronicles, her counsels, her stories, her histories,
her science, her comeliness, her eloquence, her beauty, her modesty
(lit. blushing), her bounty, her abundance, her wealth—from the
western part in the west.’
Whence are these? said the host. Easy to say, he
From Ae, from Umall, from Aidne, from Bairenn, from Bres,
from Breifne, from Bri Airg, from Berramain, from Bagna, from
Cera, from Corann, from Cruachu, from Irrus, from Imga, from
Imgan, from Tarbga, from Teidmne, from Tulcha, from Muad,
from Muiresc, from Meada, from Maige (that is, between Traige
and Reocha and Lacha), from Mucrama, from Maenmag, from
Mag Luirg, from Mag Ene, from Arann, from Aigle, from Airtech.
25. Her battles also,
said he, and her contentions, her
hardihood, her rough places, her strifes, her haughtiness, her
unprofitableness, her pride, her captures, her assaults, her hardness,
her wars, her conflicts, from the northern part in the north.
Whence are the foregoing? said the host. Easy to say:
From Lie, from Lorg, from Lothar, from Callann, from Farney,
from Fidga, from Srub Brain, from Bernas, from Daball, from Ard
Fothaid, from Goll, from Irgoll, from Airmmach, from the Glens (?),
from Gera, from Gabor, from Emain, from Ailech, from Imclar.
Her prosperity then,
said he, and her supplies, her
bee-hives (?) her contests, her feats of arms, her householders, her
nobles, her wonders, her good custom, her good manners, her
splendour, her abundance, her dignity, her strength, her wealth,
her householding, her many arts, her accoutrements (?), her many
treasures, her satin, her serge, her silks, her cloths (?), her green
spotted cloth (?), her hospitality, from the eastern part in the
Whence are these? said the host. Easy to say, said he.
From Fethach, from Fothna, from Inrechtra, from Mugna, from
Bile, from Bairne, from Berna, from Drenna, from Druach, from
Diamar, from Lee, from Line, from Lathirne, from Cuib, from
Cualnge, from Cenn Con, from Mag Rath, from Mag Inis, from
27. Her waterfalls, her fairs, her nobles, her reavers, her knowledge,
her subtlety, her musicianship, her melody, her minstrelsy,
her wisdom, her honour, her music, her learning, her teaching, her
warriorship, her fidchell playing, her vehemence, her fierceness,
her poetical art, her advocacy, her modesty, her code, her retinue,
her fertility, from the southern part in the south.
Whence are these, said they. Easy to say, said Trefuilngid.
From Mairg, from Maistiu, from Raigne, from Rairiu, from
Gabair, from Gabran, from Cliu, from Claire, from Femned (?),
from Faifae, from Bregon, from Barchi, from Cenn Chaille, from
Clere, from Cermna, from Raithlinn, from Glennamain, from
Gobair, from Luachair, from Labrand, from Loch Léin, from
Loch Lugdach, from Loch Daimderg, from Cathair Chonroi, from
Cathair Cairbri, from Cathair Ulad, from Dun Bindi, from Dun
Chain, from Dun Tulcha, from Fertae, from Feorainn, from
Her kings, moreover, her stewards, her dignity, her primacy,
her stability, her establishments, her supports, her destructions,
her warriorship, her charioteership, her soldiery, her principality,
her high-kingship, her ollaveship, her mead, her bounty, her ale,
her renown, her great fame, her prosperity, from the centre
Whence are these? said they. Easy to say, said
From Mide, from Bile, from Bethre, from Bruiden, from
Colba, from Cnodba, from Cuilliu, from Ailbe, from Asal, from
Usnech, from Sidan, from Slemain, from Sláine, from Cno, from
Cerna, from Cennandus, from Bri Scáil, from Bri Graigi, from Bri
meic Thaidg, from Bri Foibri, from Bri Dili, from Bri Fremain,
from Tara, from Tethbe, from Temair Broga Niad, from Temair
Breg, the overlordship of all Ireland from these.
29. So Trefuilngid Tre-eochair left that ordinance with the men
of Ireland for ever, and he left with Fintan son of Bóchra some
of the berries from the branch which was in his hand, so that he
planted them in whatever places he thought it likely they would
grow in Ireland. And these are the trees which grew up from those
berries: the Ancient Tree of Tortu and the tree of Ross, the tree
of Mugna and the Branching Tree of Dathe, and the Ancient Tree
of Usnech. And Fintan remained relating the stories to the men
of Ireland until he was himself the survivor (?) of the ancient
trees, and until they had withered during his time. So when
Fintan perceived his own old age and that of the trees, he made
30. I see clearly to-day
in the early morn after uprising
from Dun Tulcha in the west away
over the top of the wood of Lebanon.
By God’s doom I am an old man,
I am more unwilling than ever for . . .
It is long since I drank (?) a drink
of the Deluge over the navel of Usnech.
Bile Tortan, Eó Rosa,
one as lovely and bushy as the other,
Mugna and Craebh Daithi to-day
and Fintan surviving (?).
So long as Ess Ruaid resounds,
so long as salmon are disporting therein
Dun Tulcha, to which the sea comes
it will not depart from a good shanachie.
I am a shanachie myself before every host,
a thousand years, and no mistake,
before the time of the sons of Míl, abundance of strength,
I was bearing clear testimony.
31. So he made this lay, and remained to relate the stories of
the men of Ireland even until the time he was summoned by Diarmait
son of Cerball, and Flann Febla son of Scannlan, and Cennfaelad
son of Ailill, and the men of Ireland also to pronounce judgement
for them concerning the establishment of the manor of Tara. And
this is the judgement he passed, let it be as we have found
it, said Fintan, we shall not go contrary to the arrangement
which Trefuilngid Tre-eochair has left us, for he was an angel of
God, or he was God Himself.
32. Then the nobles of Ireland came as we have related to accompany
Fintan to Usnech, and they took leave of one another
on the top of Usnech. And he set up in their presence a pillar-stone
of five ridges on the summit of Usnech. And he assigned a
ridge of it to every province in Ireland, for thus are Tara and
Usnech in Ireland, as its two kidneys are in a beast. And he
marked out a forrach there, that is, the portion of each province in
Usnech, and Fintan made this lay after arranging the pillar-stone:
The five divisions of Ireland, both sea and land,
their confines will be related, of every division of them.
From Drowes of the vast throng, south of Belach Cuairt,
to the swollen Boyne, Segais’s pleasant stream.
From white-streaming Boyne, with its hundreds of harbours
to multitudinous cold Comar Tri nUsci.
From that same Comor with pleasant . . .
to the pass of the fierce Hound which is called Glas.
From that Belach Conglais, shapely the smile,
to broad green Luimnech, which beats against barks.
From the port of that Luimnech, a level green plain,
to the green-leaved Drowes against which the sea beats.
Wise the division which the roads have attained (?),
perfect the arrangement dividing it into five.
The points of the great provinces run towards Usnech,
they have divided yonder stone through it into five.
34. So Fintan then testified that it was right to take the five
provinces of Ireland from Tara and Usnech, and that it was right
for them also to be taken from each province in Ireland. Then
he took leave of the men of Ireland at that place, and he comes
to Dun Tulcha in Ciarraighe Luachra, where he was overcome by
weakness, and he made the following lay:
Feeble to-day is my long-lived life,
decay has arrested my motion.
I change not shape any longer
I am Fintan son of Bóchra.
I was a full year under the Deluge
in the power of the holy Lord,
and a thousand pleasant years
was I all alone after the Deluge.
Then the pure bright company came
and settled in Inber Bairche.
And I wedded the noble dame
Áife, Parthalon’s daughter.
I was for a long while after that
a contemporary of Parthalon
until there sprang from him thus
a vast innumerable throng.
The plague of sin reached them
in the east of Sliabh Elpa,
from it, fierce the hold,
is named Tamlacht in Ireland.
I spent thirty years after that
until the arrival of the children of Nemed,
between Iath Boirche, it was ancient,
living on grass, without contention.
On Magh Rain, with the knowledge of the Lord,
I wedded Éblenn of the radiant skin,
sister of Lugh, swiftness without treachery,
daughter of Cian and of Ethliu.
I remember, tale without tribute,
the legend of Magh Rain,
in the puissant battle of Magh Tuired
the children of Gomer wrought havoc.
It was a spreading wood, with supple branch
in the days of the Tuatha De Danann,
until the Fomorians bore it away to the east
in their boat-frames, after [the death] of Balor.
. . . . . . . . . . .
daughter of Toga of the grey stormy sea,
at that time ’twas a woman,
she from whom Sliabh Raisen is named.
Lecco the daughter of mighty Tal
and of Mid whom hostages used to magnify,
she found them on the hill, without sorrow
in the company of Mid from the south-east.
Though I am in Dun Tulcha to-day
nearer and nearer is dissolution,
the good King who hath fostered me hitherto,
’tis He that hath put weakness on me.
35. Now he was sore afflicted when he perceived signs of death
approaching, but when he knew that God deemed it time for him
to die, without undergoing further change of form, he then made
the following lay:
I am wasted to-day in Comor Cuan,
I have no trouble in telling it,
I was born, I prospered
fifty years before the Deluge.
The bright King vouchsafed to me
that my good fortune should be prolonged,
five hundred, and five thousand years till now,
that is the length of the time.
In Magh Mais, in the secret places thereof,
where Gleoir is, son of Glainide (?),
it is there I have drunk a drink of age
since none of my co-evals remain.
The first ship, the celebration has been heard,
which reached Ireland after the transgression,
I came in it from the east.
I am fair-haired Bóchra’s son.
It is from him I was born, from the lord,
the descendant of Noah, Lamech’s son;
after the destruction of Cessair I have been a space
relating the story of Ireland.
Bith son of Noah before all men
was the first who came to dwell therein,
and Ladru the helmsman after that,
the first to be buried in the earth.
I give thanks to God, I am a venerable senior,
to the King who fashioned the holy heaven;
it profits me nowise, however it be,
my decay is no help to me.
Five invasions, best of deeds,
the land of Ireland has undergone.
I have been here a while after them
until the days of the sons of Míl.
I am Fintan, I have lived long,
I am an ancient shanachie of the noble hosts.
Neither wisdom nor brilliant deeds repressed me
until age came upon me and decay.
36. So Fintan ended his life and his age in this manner, and he
came to repentance, and he partook of communion and sacrifice
from the hand of bishop Erc son of Ochomon son of Fidach, and
the spirits of Patrick and Brigit came and were present at his death.
The place in which he was buried is uncertain, however. But
some think that he was borne away in his mortal body to some
divine secret place as Elijah and Enoch were borne into paradise,
where they are awaiting the resurrection of that venerable
long-lived Elder, Fintan son of Bóchra, son of Eithier, son of Rual,
son of Annid, son of Ham, son of Noah, son of Lamech.
© 2007 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae