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teabhaR bReaGhwach onnso sis.























Pack 3, line 14, ^br internal, read external.
„ 16, note S line 3, for xi. read ii.

37, note S line 3 of the quotation from Homer, for AajMirov, read AafiTTOP.
]] 52, note ", line 10, for Denetia, read Demetia.
„ 88, line 15, for Ot), read X)0.
„ 99, at the end of note ", add —{H.)
„ 104, line 6,/or pac. Qmblior, read pac ambpop.
„ 112, note i, line 16, /or Gadran, read Gadam.
'„ 169, line 1, dele comma after " insola."
„ 221, line 3, for Maelniura, read Maelmura.

Ibid, note p, line 4, for Albannach, read Albanach.
", Ibid, line 22, and page 222, note % line 5, for Gaelic read Iberno- Celtic.
Addit Notes, page xxxix. line 2 7, /or bending, read blending, ^,t . -j *u- d -i

,, page xlvi. note \ line 9, for so Ur-bruide of his Bruide, read so each Ur-bruide of bis Bruide.

page liv. note ', /or Gaelic, read Gaelic. -„r , i, ,-

I, page Ixi. note ^ last line, /or beautiful, read beatified ; and m the corresponding Welsh lino,

for gwynoydig, read gwynvydig.

Rev. Charles Graves, A. M., M. R. I. A.

James Hardiman, Esq., M. R. I. A.

William Elliot Hudson, Esq., A. M., M. R. I. A.

Major T. A. Larcom, R. E., V. P. R. I. A.

Charles Mac Donnell, Esq., M. R. I. A.

George Petrie, Esq., LL.D., R. H. A., V. P. R. I. A.

Rev. William Reeves, M. B., M. R. I. A.

Very Rev. L. Renehan, D. D., President of St. Patrick's

College, Maynooth.
Aquilla Smith, Esq., M. D., M. R. I. A., Treasurer.
J. HuBAND Smith, Esq., A. M., M. R. I. A.
Rev. J. H. Todd, D. D., M. R. I. A., Secretary.








BY M. H. GIl.l..



patron :


^r£sit(£nt :
His Grace the Duke of Leinster,

The Most Noble the Marquis of Kildare, M. P., M. R. I. A.
The Right Hon. the Earl of Leitrim, M. R. I. A.
The Right Hon. the Viscount Adare, M. P., M. R. I. A.

(ZTouncil :

Elected 22nd December, iS^-j.

Rev. Samuel Butcher, A. M., M. R. I. A

Rev. Charles Graves, A. M., M. R. I. A.

James Hardiman, Esq., M. R. I. A.

William Elliot Hudson, Esq., A. M., M. R. I. A.

Major T. A. Larcom, R. E., V. P. R. I. A.

Charles Mac Donnell, Esq., M. R. I. A.

George Petrie, Esq., LL.D., R. H. A., V. P. R. I. A.

Rev. William Reeves, M. B., M. R. I. A.

Very Rev. L. Renehan, D. D., President of St. Patrick's

College, Maynooth.
Aquilla Smith, Esq., M. D., M. R, I. A., Treasurer.
J. HuBAND Smith, Esq., A. M., M. R. I. A.
Rev. J. H. Todd, D, D., M. R. I. A., Secretary.



^HE Text of the following work is taken principally
from a collation of three MSS., which are referred
h to in the Notes by the letters D., B., and L.

1. The first of these, denoted by D., is a miscella-
neous volume, containing various tracts and frag-
ments of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth
centuries ; it was formerly in the possession of the celebrated anti-
quaries, Duald Mac Firbis and Edward Lhwyd, whose autographs it
possesses ; and it is now preserved in the Library of Trinity College,
Dublin, Class H., Tab. 3. No. 17.

The volume contains a copy of the celebrated code of Brehon
Laws called the Seanchus Mor^ with a copious gloss of great value.
This is followed by several other tracts and fragments of tracts on
Brehon Law, of different dates, and by various scribes, some of whom
have given their names.


' For an account of the Seanchus Mor, nity College, see Dr. Petrie's Essay on
with several extracts from this very MS. Tara Hill, in the Transactions of the Royal
of it, and from another copy also in Tri- Irish Academy, vol. xviii. pp. 71-80.



After the Law Tracts follow several miscellaneous pieces on his-
torical and religious subjects, short anecdotes of Irish saints, poems,
and historical romantic tales. Of these the most curious are : i . The
tract called Seanchup na pelec, or the History of the Cemeteries,
containing an account of the most celebrated burial-places of the
Pagan Irish ; i. The History of the plebeian Tribes called Aitheach
Tuatha, who were subjugated by King Tuathal Teachtmar, in the
second century of the Christian era ; 3. A List of the ancient Tales or
historical Eomances which were wont to be recited by the Bards at
Entertainments, in presence of Kings and Chieftains ; 4. A List of
the celebrated Women of Antiquity ; with many other tales, tracts,
genealogies, and poems, of the greatest value for the illustration of
Irish history, language, and topography.

The copy of the Leabhar Breathnach, or British Book, contained
in this MS., occurs in p. 8o6^ and was probably written in the four-
teenth, or early part of the fifteenth century.

This is the copy of the Irish version of the Britannia of Nennius,
which has been made the basis of the text of the following work,
and is denoted by D. in the notes. Its errors, however, have been
corrected, as far as the Editor was able to correct them, by collation
with the other MSS. to which he had access ; and such interpola-
tions as occurred in the other MSS., when judged of any value, have
been inserted in their proper places. All these deviations from the
text of D. have been mentioned in the notes.

2. The second MS. (denoted by B-) is the copy of the Irish Nen-
nius, which is contained in the Book of Ballymote, in the Library of
the Royal Irish Academy, written in the fourteenth century.


^ Or rather column 806. The MS. is paged by Edward Lhwyd, each column,
written some parts of it in double columns wherever columns occurred, being count-
and some parts not : the whole has been ed for a page.


The order of the sections in this MS. differs considerably from
that of D., and it also contains several interpolations. The Editor
has numbered the sections in the printed text of the work, in order
to enable him with greater facility to refer to them.

The order of the copy in the Book of Ballymote is as follows :
It begins with the section Ego Nennius, marked sect. i. p. 25, infra.
Then follows the chapter " On the Origin of the Cruithnians," which
has been given in the Additional Notes, No. XX., p. xci. After
which follow sections 11., iii., and iv., as in the printed text

After section iv. this MS. interpolates the prose account, sections
XXVII. and xxviii., followed by the poem on the Origin and History of
the Picts or Cruithnians, which has been published section xxx. p. 1 26,

Then follow sections v. to xiv., inclusive, in the same order as
in the text ; but after section xiv. is interpolated the Legend of
St. Cairnech, which will be found in the Appendix, No. I, p. 178.

After this we have the history of the Saxon conquest, sect. xv. ;
the miracles of St. German, sects, xvi., xvii. ; and the story of
Ambrose Merlin and the Druids, sects, xviii., xix.; followed by the
history of the wars of Gortimer (or Gortighern, as he is called in
this copy), sects, xx. to xxiv., inclusive, in the same order as in the

At the end of this last section recording the battles of Arthur,
and briefly noticing the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity, the
copy of this work in the Book of Ballymote ends ; and its comple-
tion is notified by the words pinic Do'n bpeacnocap, which are
literally "Finit to the Breathnochas," where the scribe evidently
wrote Fiait for Finis. It appears also from this note that the title
then given to this book was " The Breathnochas," which would be
equivalent to BritanismuSj if we may be permitted to coin such a word.

b 2 3. The


3. The next authority which has been employed in the formation
of the text is the copy of this work in the Book of Lecan, a MS.
written in the year 1417^ To this copy is prefixed, but in a more
recent hand, the title Leabap bpearnach annpo pip, which has been
adopted in the title page of the present volume, and which expresses
what the Irish understood by the Latin titles, " Eulogium Britannige,"
and " Historia Britonum."

This copy, which is denoted by L. in the notes, begins with sect.
II., Britannia insula^ &c., p. 27, infra, omitting the list of British cities.
Then follows the chapter on the origin of the Picts, which will be
found in the Additional Notes, No. XX. p. xciii. Section iii. is
omitted altogether, and then follow sects, iv. to viii., inclusive.
Sections ix. and x. are omitted in this place. Then comes the
account of the adventures of the Gaedhil, sects, xi. to xv., inclusive'^,
followed by another copy of the history of Roman and Saxon Britain,
sects, v., VI., VII., VIII., which is headed. Do peancup bpearan
anopo booeapca, " Of the history of Britain, here follows ;" but
the title prefixed to sect, viii., in the former copy of this chapter, is
omitted here.

Then follow sects, ix., x., with the title Do jabalaib 6]ienn
amail inoipeap Nemiup [sic] annpo, as in the text, p. 42. After
which comes another copy of the history of the adventures of the
Gaedhil, sects, xi.-xiv., with the title Do imcheachcaib ^aeioeal
anopo boofpra ; but a portion of sect. xiv. is wanting after the words
cugpacap leo lapoain caipechou, p. 72, line 9.


■= This date may be collected from the in section x., differs considerably in this

MS. itself. See also Mr. O'Donovan's note copy from that given above, p. 50. See

to the Annals of the Four Masters, at the Additional Notes, No. XX., p. xciv., where

year 141 7. the more important variations are no-

'' The account of the sons of Cruithne, ticed.


About ten leaves are here wanting in the Book of Lecan, which
is now preserved in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, al-
tliough it originally belonged to Trinity College'', where nine of the
missing leaves were discovered by Mr. Curry, bound up with other
MSS., (Class H. Tab. 2. No. 17). One leaf, however, which contained
the continuation of sect. xvi. is lost, and the next page begins with
the words ip in lo.ngeap pm rainig a irigean co h-Snjipc, p. 84,
1. 1 6, to the end of sect. xvii.

Then follows the account of Dun Ambrose and of the contest of
Ambrose Merlin with the Druids, sects, xviii. xix.; then the wars
of Gortimer or Gortighern, sect. xx. to xxii., with the short account
of St. Patrick, sect, xxiii., and the remainder of the history of the
Saxons from the death of Gortighern (sect, xxiv.) to their conver-
sion to Christianity.

This was also regarded by the scribe who copied the Book of
Lecan as the conclusion of the work, for he has written the word
pinic at the end of sect. xxiv. But there follow immediately the
tracts on the wonders of Britain, sect, xxv., and on the wonders of
the isle of Man, sect. xxvi.

After this begins what seems to have been intended as a new edi-
tion of the work^. It commences with the chapter Ego NenniuSy
sect. I., followed by the chapter on the origin of the Picts, wdiich has
been given in the Additional Notes, No. XX., p. xcv.


* The Book of Lecan is entered among cey, and by him deposited in the Library of

the MSS. of Trinity College in the Cata- the Koyal Irish Academy. See O'Reilly,

logus Manuscriptorum Angliae et Hiber- Trans. Iberno-Celtic Society, p. cxvii. ;

nise, published at Oxford, 1697 (No. 117, Mac Geoghegan, Hist. d'Irlande, tom. i.

p. 22), and still bears the Library marks, p. 39.

D. 19. It was carried off in the reign of ' This new edition appears, from its con-
James II. to Paris, but was restored to tents, to have had special reference to Pict-
Ireland at the instance of General Vallan- ish history.

Then follows '■'■Britannia insula^'' &c., sect.ii., with the list of cities,
and sections iii. iv., as far as the words nuc lapech, p. 32, line 1 1.

Next we have the account of the origin of the Picts (sects, xxvii.
to XXIX., inclusive), with the title Oo Chpnichriechaib anopeo, do
peiji na n-eolach^. Section xxix., containing the account of the man-
ner in which the Picts, after their settlement in North Britain, ob-
tained their women from the Milesians of Ireland, is peculiar to the
Book of Lecan.

Then follows the poetical account of the Picts, sect, xxx., want-
ing, however, the last two stanzas.

With this poem the second copy of the Irish Nennius in the Book
of Lecan concludes.

4. A fragment of this work is also to be found in the remains of the
Leabhar na h-Uidhri, preserved in the Library of the Royal Irish
Academy. It begins on the first page of the second leaf now remain-
ing in that MS., with the words ace ceana ol [^e, &c., p. 94, line 15,
and concludes at the end of sect, xxiv., which in this MS. was also
the termination of the work. This fragment is referred to in the
notes, pp. 95-1 13, by the letter U. The Leabhar na h-Uidhri is a
MS. of the twelfth century.

5. Another copy of the Leabhar Breathnach is to be found in the
Book of Hy-Many, or the Book of the O'Kellys, as it is called by
O'Reilly, a MS. of the early part of the fifteenth century, transcribed
by Faelan Mac an Gabhan, whose death is recorded by the Four
Masters at the year 1423. This MS. is not now accessible to Irish
scholars in Dublin, and it has not been possible to consult it for the
present work, although it is believed to be in existence in the pos-
session of a private collector in England. In O'Reilly's time it be-
longed to Sir William Betham.


s See p. 120, note ".


We learn from O'Reilly'', that at the commencement of this
copy of the work there is or was " a memorandum," stating " that
Nennius was the author, and that Giolla Caoimhghin translated it
into Scotic."

Giolla Caoimhghin died about A. D. 1072, or shortly after, as has
been inferred from his chronological poem, beginning Qnnalaib ariall
uile, which brings down the series of events to that year.

If, therefore, he is to be taken as the original translator of Nen-
nius', we may probably fix the middle of the eleventh century as the
earliest period at which the "Historia Britonum" appeared in an
Irish version.

In its original form, the work, as we have seen, terminated at the
end of sect. xxiv. ; and all that follows must be regarded as subse-
quent interpolations, although, probably, added at the same period
as the translation or edition, put forth by Giolla Caoimhghin.

The first of these additions contains the section on the Wonders
of the Island of Britain, and that on the Wonders of the Isle of Man.
This is also found added to some copies of the Latin of Nennius'', with
a chapter, omitted in all the Irish copies, on the Wonders of Ireland.

The tract on the history of the Picts (sects. xxvii.-xxix.), with
the curious poem (sect, xxx.), now for the first time printed, is also
to be regarded as an addition made to the original work. The Book
of Ballymote, although it omits the Mirabilia, has preserved these
sources of Pictish liistory, of which the prose portion was known to
Pinkerton, through a very faulty transcript, and still more erro-

^ Transactions of the Iberno-Celtic So- toria to an earlier author.. — See his re-

ciety, p. cxxii. marks, Introd. p. 21.

. 'Mr. Herbert, however, has shown ''See Mr. Herbert's note "", pp. 113-

that there is some reason to attribute the 1 1 4.
first attempt at a translation of the His-


neous translation, but the poem appears to have escaped his notice.
Although the text is corrupt in many places, in both the MSS. that
have been employed in editing it, yet it is hoped that its publication,
even in the imperfect state in which we have it, will be regarded as
a service of some value to the student of Scottish history.

The next interpolation or addition is an Irish version of the do-
cument already known to the readers of Innes and Pinkerton, under
the title of the " Chronicon Pictorum." This curious fragment occurs
only in the manuscript D.; but another copy of it has been given in
the Additional Notes\ from a MS. in the Bodleian Library"" which
preserves a considerable fragment of the Psalter of Cashel, and evi-
dently contained formerly a copy of the Leabhar Breathnach, or Irish
version of Nennius, of which the leaf containing the Pictish Chro-
nicle is now the only remnant.

Next follows (sect, xxxiii. p. 168), an abridged translation of the
beginning of the history of the Venerable Bede. This document occurs
also immediately after the Pictish Chronicle, in the Bodleian MS. It is
of very little value, but as it appears to have been connected with the
work, and to have been regarded as a part of it in the manuscript
D., which has been principally followed, it was thought right to in-
clude it in the present volume.

The Appendix contains some other documents of the same kind,
not so immediately connected with the Leabhar Breathnach in any
of the MSS., but tending to illustrate the history to which it relates,
and the traditions prevalent at the period when it was compiled.
The first of these documents is the Legend of St. Cairnech, which,


'No. XVIII. p. Ixxv. further remarks on it by Mr. O'Donovan,

■" See an account of this MS., by the in his Introduction to the Book of Rights,

Editor, in the Proceedings of the Royal published by the Celtic Society, p. xxviii.

Irish Academy, vol. ii. p. 33; and some ctseq.


as we have seen, occurs only in the Book of Ballymote, having been
interpolated in the copy of the Irish Nennius there preserved, imme-
diately after the account of the final conquest of Britain by the
Romans. It relates to the history of the sixth century, although it
is evidently a compilation of a much later period.

The next document inserted in the Appendix is an account of
the "Wonders of Ireland, chiefly from the Book of Ballymote. This
tract is not without interest, as a cirrious collection of ancient fables
and traditions, not very unlike the celebrated Otia imperialia of Ger-
vase of Tilbury, and compiled probably about the same period. It
proves, incidentally, that the stories of Irish wonders told by Giraldus
Cambrensis, for which Lynch has so severely, and, as it now appears,
so unjustly censured him, were not his own inventions, but copied,
with some embellishments of his own, from the genuine traditions of
the Irish people.

The poem of Maelmura of Fathain, on the history of the Milesian
or Gadelian invasion of Ireland, is now published for the first time,
and it was thought worth while to add to it the contemporaneous
poem on the history of the Albanian Scots, known under the name
of the " Duan Albanach," although this latter poem has already been
published by Pinkerton, by Doctor O'Conor, and more recently by
Mr. Skene, in the " Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis," edited by the
lona Club.

Thus the present work will be found to contain three specimens
of the bardic sources of British and Irish history, written, one of them
in the ninth, and the others probably in the eleventh century, con-
taining the traditions, as they were then currently received, of the
origin of the Pictish and Milesian tribes, and the succession of the
early kings of Scotland. Two of these poems are now published
for the first time ; and the third is presented to the reader in, it is
IRISH ARCH. soc. 1 6. c hoped,


hoped, a very much more correct version than those which accom-
panied the former pubhcations of it.

In conclusion, the Editor has to acknowledge his very great
obligations to Mr. O'Donovan and Mr. Curry, for the invaluable
assistance they have afforded him throughout the following work.
Without them he could not have executed it ; and to them he is
indebted for the greater part of the historical and topographical
information which is collected in the notes. For many valuable re-
ferences to ancient Glossaries, and other MSS., containing philo-
logical and historical illustrations of obscure or obsolete words and
phrases, he is specially indebted to Mr. Curry.

The Editor has preserved the orthography of the original, with-
out any attempt at correction, or even at uniformity ; and in the
case of proper names, he has retained, even in the English transla-
tion, the spelling of the Irish. This seemed necessary, in order
to give the English reader a fair representation of the age to which
the original belongs. Thus the Picts are called Cruithnians ; the
Gaels, Gaedhil ; Ireland, Eri ; and Scotland, Alba''.

The Notes marked {H.) have been contributed by Mr. Herbert.
For those marked {T.) the Editor is responsible.

James H. Todd.

Trinity College,

April ^th, 1848.

" In some few instances this nxle, from inadvertence, has not been adhered to. —
See pp. 41, 43.47, 53,59-



Introduction, 1

Liber Britannicus, 24

Of the Kings of the Romans, 38

Of the Conquest of Ireland, as recorded by Nennius, 42

Of the Adventures of Gaedal, 52

Of the Conquestof the Saxons, 74

Of the Miracles of German, 78

Of the Fortress of Ambrose [Merlin] and his Contest with the Druids, 90

Of the Warfare of Gortimer, 98

Of the Wonders of Britain, 112

Of the Wonders of Manann, 118

Of the Cruithnians, or Picts 120

Ancient historical Poem on the Origin of the Cruithnians, 126

Of the Origin of the Cruithnians — the Irish Version of the CAronicon Ptctoram, . .154
The History of Britain, abridged from Bede 168


I. Of the Miracles of Cairnech, 178

II. Of the Wonders of Ireland, according to the Book of Glendaloch, 192

III. TheDuan Eireannach ; an ancient historical Poem on the Milesian Invasion of Ire-

land, by Maelmura of Fathain, . 220

IV. The Duan Albanach ; an ancient historical Poem on the History of the Kings of

Scotland, 270



No. Page.
I. Comparative View of the Names of the British Cities in the Irish and Latin

Nennius, iii

II. Etymology of the Name of Cruithnians v

III. The Isle of Man, vi

IV. The first Colonization of Ireland under Partholan, viii

V. The Firbolgian and Tuatha de Danann Colonies, ix

VI. The Scots, ' x

VII. Meaning of the Phrase " Seeds of Battle," xi

VIIL The Legend of King Lucius, xiii

IX. The Reign of Maximus, xv

X. The Limits of Britanny, xvii

XI. Leatha or Letavia, xix

XII. Severus the Second xx

XIII. The Miracles of St. German, xxi

XIV. Auspication of Cities by human Sacrifices, xxiv

XV. Magh EUite, or Campus Electi in the Region of Glewysing xxv

XVI. Gortigern, son of Guatal xxviii

XVII. The History of the Picts, xxix

XVIII. Irish Documents illustrative of the legendary History of the Picts, viz. :

1 . A Tract on the History of the Picts from the Book of Lecan, .... Ixv

2. The Story of the Wives given to the Picts by the Milesians of Ireland,

from the Book of Lecan, Ixxi

3. Story of the Battle of Ardleamhnacta, from the Book of Leinster, . Ixxiii

4. Irish Version of the Chronicon Pictorum, from a MS. in the Bodleian

Library, Ixxv

XIX. Macbeth, son of Finleg, Ixxviii

XX. Variations in the Section " On the Origin of the Cruithnians," as it occurs

in the Books of Ballymote and Lecan, xci

XXI. Additional Remarks on the Etymology of the Name /Scofi, xcv

XXII. Documents illustrative of the History of the Personages mentioned in the

Legend of St. Cairnech, ci

XXIII. Giraldus Cambrensis on the Picts and Scots, .... - cxii

XXIV. Addenda et Corrigenda cxiv

Index cxvii


I HE Irish MS. of which a translation is here given
professes to be, and after a fashion is, translated
from the Historia Britonum by Nennius. Little is
known of that author (if not rather, editor), and,
as usual, the less we know the more we are ob-
hged to say; for knowledge soon tells its tale.
That the Historia Britonum sometimes bears the name of Gildas,
may be suiEciently accounted for by these circumstances : that the first
genuine tractate of St. Gildas, concerning the Britons, was commonly
called his Historia ; and that a fabulous history of the Britons was
formerly extant under that name. But it can be further explained
by the nature of that title, for name indeed it is not, but an Irish
title, so Hberally bestowed upon the religious and learned, that Dr.

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