Coirpre Crom and S. Ciaran
Author: Whitley Stokes
An electronic edition
Coirpre Crom, son of Feradach, son of Lugaid, son of
Dallán, son of Bresal, son of Maine the Great, a quo the Húi
Maini of Connaught. That Coirpre used to do many evils to
every one. He happened after (committing) a robbery to go to
Daire crema in the district of Húi Maini, and there he slept. Then
folk came to him and killed him, and his head was taken to the
causeway of Cluain boirenn on the brink of the Shannon. The
head is left on the grey flagstone which is in the middle of
Ciarán son of the Wright was then in Clonmacnois. Shortly
before that day Coirpre had made his shrift to Ciarán, and
given him all his confessions. When Ciarán heard that he was
killed he went to Tulach droma. The body was brought to
him, and round the body bells were struck by the clerics;
wherefore that place is still called Ard na clocc the Height of
Thereafter they came to the place where the head was. A
demon was then accompanying the head.
What doest thou there, thou wretch? says Ciarán to the
Says the demon: He whose head this is was a faithful
monk of mine. Therefore I am in his company.
Not so, says Ciarán: that is untrue: he was a man
who confessed and did penance to me and to God.
Then the head is snatched from the demon, and he is left
alone on the flagstone. Whence it is not well to tread on that
flagstone upon which the head was found: for the day that
he does it is not to the profit of him who treads.
The body and the head are afterwards taken to Clonmacnois,
and the head was put against the trunk. Ciarán’s pillow was then
placed under the head, and by Ciarán’s blessing, the head
clave to the body, so that Coirpre was brought to life from
the dead. Crooked (crom) was his neck thenceforward, so that
hence (the name) Coirpre Crom clave to him.
Thereafter Coirpre Crom took the kingship of Húi Maini.
He gave to God and to Ciarán Cúl fota as an altar-sod and the
Imblecha as the penny of his revival. And he gave his
malediction to such of his children as should ever withdraw
his service from Ciarán. And he said, moreover, that kingship
and preeminence would be severed from him who should
hesitate to serve that saint.
Then Ciaran asked Coirpre whether he had been taken to
heaven or hell. I have not been taken, he answered; for
no soul is taken to heaven until the body is buried. And no
soul is taken to heaven or hell till the end of seven days with
it. For demons and angels have been contending for my soul
since they separated it from my body. Now the might of the
shrift and the penance and the matins (was mightier) than
that of the evils which the demons were counting upon me.
Hence woe is one without his shrift continually.
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