Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Irish Monks and the Norsemen II

Concluding the paper by Henry Howorth on the Viking attacks on Ireland's monasteries. Whilst the author himself apologizes for the dry nature of the material, there are nevertheless some interesting snippets within it. He cites, for example, the prophecies about the attacks attributed to famous Irish saints. If nothing else, he certainly illustrates just how extensive these attacks were. Finally, I might add that most of the sources quoted by the author- Todd's Life of St Patrick, the Annals, the Chronicon Scottorum and the Tract on the War with the Foreigners are available through the Internet Archive.




In 833, according to the Chron. Scot., Nial, that is Nial Caille, the over-king of Ireland and Murchadh, defeated the foreigners in Daire Chalgaigh, i.e., Derry, or Londonderry ("Chron. Scot," 139 and 376). The Ulster Annals tell us, however, that the invaders succeeded in plundering Rath Luraigh, i. e., Lurach's fort, the ancient name of Maghera, in the county of Londonderry ("Annals of the Four Masters," 445)…

Besides ravaging this old foundation, we are told the pirates also plundered Connor, or Condere, in the county of Wicklow ("Annals of the Four Masters," 445). The Chron. Scot, also tells us that this year Clondolcan, near Dublin, was ravaged by them (op. cit., 139). This church was founded by Saint Mochua, who was its first abbot, and who flourished early in the seventh century. It subsequently rose to the rank of a bishop's see, and became a place of great celebrity. Of its original ecclesiastical edifices the tower alone remains (Petrie, op. cit., 393). This is, no doubt, of later date than the ninth century. A large granite cross, without ornament, which stands in the churchyard, was, however, probably there when the Norsemen made their attack. They also plundered Loch Bricren, i.e., the lake of Bricrum, so called from a chief of Ulster in heroic times. It is a small town, near a lake of the same name in the barony of Upper Inagh, in county Down. There Conghalach, son of Eachaidh, was taken prisoner and carried off by the foreigners to their ships, where he was killed ("Annals of the Four Masters,"447, 449, and note 2).

The next year, i. e., 834, we are told Dunachadh, son of Scanlan, king of the Ui Fidgheinte (who inhabited a district in Limerick round the town of Groom), defeated the invaders and killed many of them ("Chron. Scot," 141; "Annals of the Four Masters," 449).

The invasion of the great inlet of Limerick the outfall of the Shannon, which, dotted with its many islets, was a very paradise as a trysting-place for the fleets of the pirates, is told in greater detail in the Tract on the Danes in Ireland, where we read that they came into the harbour of Limerick, and that Corco Baiscinn (a district comprising the baronies of Moyarta, Clonderalaw, and Ibrickan, in the county of Clare), Tradraighe (a district in the same county, east of the river Fergus, whose name survives in the parish and rural deanery of Tradry), and the country of the Conaill Gabhra, or of the descendants of Conall Gabhra, who gave its name to the barony of Conelloe ("Wars of the Danes," xl., 9 and 31, note 7), which tribe, under their chief Donnchadh, or Donadhach, son of Scannlan (who was also head of the Ui Fidgheinte) together with Niall, the son of Cennfaeladh, the chieftain of Ui Cairbre, defeated them at a place called Senati, probably now represented by Shanagolden, in the barony of Lower Connello, in the county Limerick, where many of them were slain (" Chron. Scot.," 141; "Wars of the Danes/' xli., 9 and 224).

This battle is dated in the year 834 in the "Annals of Ulster," the " Chron. Scot.," and the "Four Masters." The "Chronicon Scotorum " tells us further that the same year Glen da Locha, or Glendalough, was plundered by the pirates… Having pillaged Glendalough, the Norsemen also ravaged Slane, in the county of Meath, where there was formerly a round tower; and Finnabhair, abha, i. e., Fennor, in the barony of Duleek, in Meath, the burial-place of St. Nechtan ("Annals of the Four Masters," 449; "Chron. Scot." 384 ; Petrie, 164).

The next year, i.e., in 835, we find them busy at their usual occupation of piracy at Fernamor (i.e., Ferns, in the county of Wexford), which was a foundation of St. Aidan, whose shrine was in the possession of Dr. Petrie (vide his volume, 201) Cluain mor Maedhoig (i. e., Clonmore, in the county of Carlow,) and other churches of Ir Mumban, i.e., Ormond (Chron. Scot.,141). The "Annals of the Four Masters" add the Church of Druimh Ing, a monastery of St. Fuintain, among the Ui Seaghain, a tribe and territory situated near Rath Ciule, in the barony of Ratoath and the county of Meath (op. cit.,45 1, and note d). The same year they made a descent upon Mungairid, now called Mungret, in far distant Limerick ("Chron. Scot.," 141; "Annals of the Four Masters," 45 1). A very ancient church, said to have been founded by St. Nessan, in St. Patrick's time, still survives there (Petrie, op. cit., 180). ”The wide range of these ravages," as Dr. Todd says, "proves they were committed by more than one body of invaders." The account for the most part is a mere dry list of names, as monotonous as the doings of the veritable Philistines which they record. In the Tract on the Wars of the Danes in Ireland, the attacks, as I have said, are not dated, but arranged in groups more or less geographical, but apparently very arbitrarily. Such a group includes the ravages just described, and adds some other names. Thus, after mentioning the expedition to Dunleer and Killessy (vide ante) we read that they returned again and plundered Swords of Columkille (i.e., Sord, near Dublin). It was a foundation of St. Columba's, and founded before the year 563 (Petrie, op. cit., 398). A famous round tower still remains there. This work also mentions Damliag of Cianan (vide ante), and Slane (id.), and Killossy or Kiluasile (id.), and Glendalough (id.), and Cluain Uamha i.e., Cloyne, in the county of Cork, but probably a mistake for the Clurain Mor already mentioned), and Mungairt, and the greater part of the churches of Erin.

…In 836 the Gentiles from Inbher Dea, i.e. the mouth of the river Vartry, in the county of Wicklow, where St. Patrick landed (Todd, "Life of St. Patrick," 338), and where the pirates doubtless had a trysting-place, attached Cildara, i. e. Kildare, and burnt half the church. From the following sentence in the Annals it is not improbable that the Norsemen were in alliance with Feidhlimdh, the King of Munster already named, for it is said he captured the oratory at Kildare against Foran, the abbot of Armagh, with the congregation of Patrick, and took them prisoners" with their submission?" Kildare, "the church of the oak," was so called from a famous oak which was much cherished by St. Brigid (Todd, op. cit. 21). St. Brigid was the founder of the monastery there, which became one of the most fertile mothers of monachism in Western Europe. Her establishment comprised both sexes. They were separated from each other in the cathedral by a partition, which explains the statement of the Annals that the Norsemen burnt half the church. While she and her successors presided over the abbey, a regularly constituted bishop had joint authority with her, and looked after matters episcopal. He had his episcopal throne, "cathedra episcopalis," she her virginal chair ("cathedra puellaris"). While the Bishop of Kildare was the senior bishop of Ireland, she was the senior abbess among the Scots. St. Brigid and the bishop she appointed were buried on the right and left of the high altar respectively; and their shrines, highly decorated with pendent crowns of gold, silver, and gems, were preserved there. He had been a patron of the arts; had imported vestments of variegated texture from the Continent, which were then deemed peculiarly magnificent, and we are told he was St. Brigid's chief artist; Dr. Todd adds that the ancient Irish ecclesiastics did not consider it beneath their dignity to work as artificers in the manufacture of shrines, reliquaries, bells, pastoral staves, crosiers, covers for sacred books, and other ornaments of the church and its ministers. "The ecclesiastics of that period seem to have been in fact the only artists, and several beautiful specimens of their work are still preserved, chiefly belonging to the century or two centuries before the English invasion of Ireland; for almost all the older monuments of this kind, especially if formed of the precious metals, appear to have been destroyed or melted by the Danes" (Todd, op. cit., II 26). From this account it will be seen that the Norsemen doubtless found a rich booty when they plundered Kildare in 836. They followed up their attack there by a second raid on Cluain mor Maedhoig, or Clonmore, in the county of Carlow, which they assailed on Christmas Eve, and whence they carried off a great number of prisoners, and then cruelly ravaged all Connaught ("Chron. Scot," 141). The oratory of Glen da Locha was also burnt by them.

The otherwise monotonous Annals have a curious notice this year, showing that nature was bountiful enough at these critical times; we read that there was abundance of nuts and acorns this year, and they were so plentiful that in some places where shallow brooks flowed under trees men might go dryshod, the waters were so full of them!

The sentence following is in grim contrast to this. "The Gentiles this year harried and spoiled all the province of Connaught"("Annals of the Four Masters," 453; "Chron. Scot," 141.) In the same year the Four Masters have an entry which would be very curious and interesting if well authenticated; we are there told that "Goffraith, son of Fergus, chief of Oirghialla, i.e., Oriel or Uriel, in Ulster, went to Alba, i.e., Scotland, to strengthen the Dal Riada, at the request of Cinaeth son of Ailpin," i.e., Kenneth McAlpin (op. cit., 453). This early use of the Norse name Gofifraith in Ireland is very interesting, but Mr. Skene, than whom it would not be easy to quote a better authority, considers it as of slight value, and that it has been taken from the unreliable genealogy of the McDonalds, Lords of the Isles, contained in the "Book of Ballymote”(letter to the author). I am not so sure, however, that he has not here been too sceptical, and the entry is deserving of more critical sifting. A second entry occurs in the " Annals of the Four Masters," which tells us Goffraith died in 851. He is then styled Chief of the Inis Gall, i.e., Lord of the Isles, and if genuine, is the first recorded of that long and picturesque line of chieftains.

The year 837 was also a terribly scarlet year in the Irish annals; we read how a formidable fleet of sixty ships appeared in the river Boyne, and a second fleet of sixty ships in the Liffey, and that these two fleets ravaged the districts of Magh Life (i. e. the plain of the Liffey in Kildare) and Magh Bregh the (plain of Bregia, between the Liffey and the Boyne, and extending from the sea into the county of Meath). The men of Bregh won a victory over them and killed six score of them ("Chron. Scot," 141).

This victory, if victory it was, was compensated by a terrible reverse elsewhere, for we are immediately afterwards told that a battle was gained by the foreigners at Inbhear-na-Barc, i. e., the river or estuary of the barks or ships, which the learned editor of the " Annals of the Four Masters" identifies with the mouth of the river of Rath Inbhir, near Bray (op. cit., 455, note ), over all the O'Neills (i.e., all the southern O'Neills who lived in the ancient Meath), from the Shannon to the sea, in which such slaughter was effected as had never before been seen, but the chief kings escaped ("Chron. Scot," 141; "Annals of the Four Masters," 455,456). This was evidently a crushing disaster for the Irish, and it was followed by blow on blow of the heaviest kind, which are described in grim, short phrases by the chroniclers. By these blows the most famous religious establishments in Ireland were devastated, and all, too, apparently in one year. The list begins with Cluain-mac-Nois, assuredly a most famous monastic foundation, the most famous seat of religion and school of art in Ireland. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Shannon, in the barony of Garrycastle, in King's County….

The name Cluain-mac-Nois means the meadow of the son of Nois. The monastery there was founded by Saint Ciaran in 544. We are told that the king, Diarmaid Mac Cerbhall assisted Ciaran with his own hands to raise the humble edifice and the still humbler cell which adjoined it, the monarch being at the time himself an outcast, on whose life a price was fixed, and who was seeking shelter from his persecutors in the wilderness to which the saint had come for solitude and repose. The monastery afterwards became the cemetery of King Diarmaid and his successors, and was richly endowed by them. It gradually became the chief school in Ireland. In the eighth century Colcu, one of its lectors, was known abroad as the chief scribe and master of the Scoti. He was a correspondent of Alcuin, who sent him a present of some holy oil for consecration, shekels as a present from his master Charlemagne, and similar gifts from himself for the brotherhood at Clonmacnois, and other presents to be distributed elsewhere. Colcu was the author of a famous work called "Scuaip Chrabhaidh," i.e., the "Besom of Devotion." He died in the year 789 (Dunraven, op. cit., 96, 97). We shall revert to Clon-mac-Nois again, for it long survived this first attack of the Danes, and increased in wealth and splendour; but there is small doubt that even now the pirates found a rich booty there.

Besides Clon-mac-Nois, we are told they in this year burnt the churches of Loch Erne, near Enniskillen, in the county of Fermanagh, such as Daimhinis, (i. e., ox island, now Devenish Island) in that lake. The monastery there was founded by Saint Molaise, otherwise called Laisren, who died there. A beautiful and perfect round tower still remains to mark the spot of the monastery, and the oratory of St. Molaise survived until a few years ago (" Annals of the Four Masters," 203, note t; Petrie, op. cit., 355, 432). They also plundered the church of Cluain Eos, or Clones, in the county of Monaghan, where there was another famous monastery, and burnt the churches of Laictene, Inis Cealtra, and Cill Finchi. Laictene was so called after Saint Lactin, who died in 622, and who had churches dedicated to him at Freshford, in the county of Kilkenny; Muscraighe, in the county of Cork ; and Ballylongford, in the north of the county of Kerry ("Annals of the Four Masters," 244, note g ; and 456, note e). Inis Cealtra was an island in Loch Dergdheirc ("Chron. Scot," 389); there was an ancient church there built, by Saint Caimin in the seventh century, and rebuilt in the tenth by the famous Brian Borumha, the object of so much affection on the part of Irish patriots (Petrie, op. cit., 272, &c.); while Cill Finnchi was a church described in a gloss to the Feilire Aenguis as near a great hill called Dom Buidhe in Magh Raighne in Ossory. This has not been identified, however (" Annals of the Four Masters," 456, note f). We next have a very remarkable reference, since it preserves for us the first name of a leader of the pirates recorded in the Irish Annals. The phrase in the " Chronicon Scoticon" is "the killing of Saxolbh, lord of the foreigners, by the Ciannachta," i.e., the men of Duleek in eastern Meath ("Chron. Scot," 143). The name Saxolbh is a curious one. It is clearly the Anglo-Saxon name Saxulf, and is not a Norse name at all. This proves that the Norse folk at this time were accompanied by some English chiefs, a fact which will be shown to have more than a passing interest presently. We then read of a slaughter of Gentiles at Carn Feradhaigh, which is a mountain in the territory of Clin-Mail in the south of the county of Limerick ("Annals of the Four Masters," 457, 245, note h; "Chron. Scot.” loc. cit). They, however, gained a victory at Ferta, i.e., the graves, probably Fearta fear Feig, on the Boyne near Slane, in Meath (" Annals of the Four Masters," 457, and note h;"Chron. Scot," loc. cit.). This was balanced by a defeat at Eas-ruaidh, now Assarae, at Ballyshannon, in the county of Donegal ("Annals of the Four Masters” 456, 457, note i; "Chron. Scot." loc. cit.). Lastly, we have the short and pregnant phrase, " The first taking of Athcliath by the foreigners." Athcliath is short for Dubhlinn of Athcliath, i. e., "the black pool of the ford of hurdles," and was the ancient name of Dublin (" Wars of the Danes," &c., xlix., note 5; "Annals of the Four Masters," and " Chron. Scot.," loc. cit.).

Such is the calendar of destruction and ravage committed in the fatal year 837. The size of the fleet which then arrived, 120 ships, is enormous for a Norse armament, as all will confess who have studied the doings of the corsairs, and the record of its handiwork shows that it was a very powerful body of invaders, and no doubt therefore led by a famous chieftain. On turning to the Tract on the Wars of the Danes we recover his name, which was Turges, or Turgesius, which it has been suggested is a form of the Norse name Thorgils. As usual, in this account the story is confusedly told, and, as Dr. Todd has suggested, we seem to have the same story repeated in it in a different way. Confused as it is, we will now abstract the notice, which is no doubt very valuable.

After mentioning the descent on Limerick (ante) this account goes on to say, "There came after that a great royal fleet into the north of Erin with Turges. This Turges assumed the sovereignty of the foreigners of Erin. The north of Erin was plundered by them, and they took possession of Leth Cuin (i.e. the northern half of the island, called Leth Cuin or Cons half; op. cit., 8, note 7). "A fleet of them took possession of Loch Eathach, i.e. Loch Neagh; another fleet took possession of Louth, another of Loch Ree" (op. cit., 9, 224, and xlii., note i). Here it will be seen three fleets are mentioned, and not two, as in the Annals. Then we have some paragraphs which are apparently inserted out of their order, and to which we shall revert presently, after which follows an account of the ravages as follows. "There came after that threescore and five ships (sixty is the number named in the Annals as forming each of the two fleets), to Dublin of Ath Cliath, and Laigin (i. e., Leinster) was plundered by them to the sea, and Magh Bregh" i.e., Bregia, already mentioned) (op. cit., 13, 226). This story is clearly a condensed account of what we have already recited from the Annals; but at this point we get a very interesting additional phrase, for we are told that this fleet, after the plundering of Laigin and Bregia, went northwards with its left hand towards Erin, and the Dalriadans gave them battle. They were led by their king Eoghanan, the son of Angus (who according to O'Flaherty was the 31st of the Dalriadan kings of Scotland), who was killed, (" Wars of the Danes," 13, 226). The Ulster Annals tell us expressly the battle was fought in Fortrenn or Pictland, and besides Eoghan he tells us that Bran the son of Angus and Aid the son of Boareta, and an almost innumerable body of people, perished there ("Skene's Celtic Scotland," 307-8, note 7). These Annals date the fatal battle in 838, which answers to 839 of our era (Todd, loc. cit").

The fight here described was one of the most important battles in history. In Mr. Skene's words, "The Picts received so crushing a blow from the Danish pirates, that it seems to have almost exterminated the family connected with Fortrenn, and paved the way for the successful attempt of the son of Alpin the Scot to place himself on the throne of the Picts"(id., 307).

It was doubtless a consequence of this victory that, as we read in the " Chronicle of the Picts and Scots," the Danes devastated Pictland as far as Cluny and Dunkeld (id., 310, note 66).

It seems clear, from the petty doings of the Norsemen in Ireland in 838, that a large part of the royal fleet, after gorging itself with booty from Ireland, had gone to Scotland, as I have mentioned. In 838 we have but one entry about "the Gentiles," where we are told they defeated the people of Connaught, and that Maelduin, son of Murighes, son of Tomaltash, and others were killed ("Chron. Scot.” 143;"Annals of the Four Masters," 459).

In 839 we read that a marine fleet of the foreigners arrived in Loch Eathach (i.e. Loch Neagh), and the territories and churches of the north of Ireland were spoiled by them. The Annals of Clonmacnois say they built a fortress there. This was no doubt the fleet of Turges which had returned from the Scotch expedition, and explains the mention of the third fleet on Loch Neagh in the confused narrative of the "Tract on the Danes in Ireland."

The same year Ferns, in Wexford, and Cork were again ravaged ("Chron Scot.” 143; "Annals of the Four Masters," 459). This was probably by another section of the invaders.

In 840 the party who had settled on Loch Neagh attacked Louth, and made prisoners of many bishops and other wise and learned men, and carried them to their fortress, after having slain many others (" Annals of Ulster," quoted in " Annals of the Four Masters," 460, 461, and note d). This event is confused, by the " Tract on the Wars of the Danes in Ireland," with the previous capture of Armagh, when it was taken three times in one month, and no doubt by quite a different section of the pirates. The mistake has led to a misplacement of the paragraphs in that narrative, and to a confusion of the chronology of Turges' expedition in Dr. Todd's narrative. The notice to which I refer runs as follows: "Moreover Armagh was plundered by them three times in the same month, and Turges himself took the abbacy of Armagh, and Forannan, abbot of Armagh, was driven away and went to Munster, and the shrine of Patrick with him, and he was four years in Munster, while Turges was at Armagh, and the power of the north of Erin was with him" (op. cit., 9, 224).

This proves that a confusion in the dates has arisen, for as Forannan returned in 845 and was absent four years, it seems to show that the capture of Armagh referred to was the later one, and not the earlier, which has been mixed up with it.

The capture of the famous old foundation of St. Patrick, and the eviction of his successor, are said to have been foretold by several of the old saints, and the Annals quotes from three of them prophecies which are very clearly ex post facto.

First that of St. Bercan:

" Gentiles shall come over the noble sea,
They shall spread over the land of Erin;
Of them shall be an abbot over every church,
Of them shall be power over Erin.
Seven years shall they be, not weak their power,
In the sovereignty of Erin,
In the abbacy of every church,
The Gentiles of the port of Dublin.
There shall be an abbot of them over this my church;
He shall not attend to matins;
Without pater, without creeds,
Without Latin, and only knowing a foreign language."

Then that of St. Columba:

" This fleet of Loch Ri
Has well exalted the foreign Gentiles.
Of them shall be an abbot of Ardmacha;
It shall be the rule of a usurper."

That of Bec ma De, a saint who is said to have lived in the sixth century:

"When the bell was rung in warm Tailtin,
The aged, wealthy Ciaran of Saighu
Promised to Erin three times,
Parties of Danes of the black ships."

This is explained in the context, as meaning that the Danish invasions were in punishment, first, of the banishment of St. Columba to Scotland ; secondly, the sacrilegious insult offered to Ciaran, of Clonmacnois, by King Diarmaid, in Tailtin, or Teltown, doubtless referring to the false oath sworn on the relics of his hand by Ambacuc in the year 544 (" Chron. Scot.," 49) ; and lastly, for the fasting of the saints of Erin against Diarmaid MacCerbhaill. This refers to the fact that Diarmaid was largely infected with Druidic notions, and was a patron of the Druids, and in consequence incurred the displeasure of St. Columba, who denounced him (see Todd's "Patrick," 118, &c.).

Let us now return once more to the Annals. Under the year 840 we are told that the foreigners who still remained at Loch Neagh built themselves a fortress at Linn Duachail, probably situated at the tidal opening of the Clyde and the Dee, in the county of Louth, where the village of Annagassan stands (" Wars of the Danes," Todd's note, Ixii., note i). Thence they plundered the churches and territories of Teabhtha, or Teffia, a territory comprising portions of the present counties of Longford and Westmeath. They also built a fortress at Dublin (doubtless where the castle still stands), whence they harried Leinster and the land of the southern O'Neills as far as Sliabh Bladhma (i.e., the Slieve Bloom Mountains in King's County, to which the land of the southern O'Neills extended) (" Annals of the Four Masters," 461, note g). They also plundered Cluain Edhnech, i.e., Clonenagh, the famous monastery of St. Fintan, in Queen's County (" Wars of the Danes," lxi., note g), and demolished Cluain Iraird, i.e., Clonard, in the county of Meath, the foundation of St. Finnian, called the foster-father of the saints of Ireland. His celebrated school at Clonard is said to have produced 3,000 disciples, and as Dr. Todd says, it became the alma mater of many eminent ecclesiastics. The famous saints known as the twelve apostles of Ireland were his disciples (Todd's "Life of St. Patrick," 98). St. Finnian died in 551.

Besides this seat of learning the invaders also laid low Cil Achaidh, or Cil Achaidh-Droma-forta (i.e., the church of the field of the long ridge), now Killeigh,in King's County, founded by Saint Sinchell, who died of the plague in 549. The next year was again a red year in the Annals. We are told the Gentiles were still at Dublin. Those at Linn Duachaill again plundered Clonmacnois and also Cennetigh, now called Kinithy, in King's County, where there was a monastery ("Chron. Scot," 145; "Annals of the Four Masters," 463, note j). Another fleet of them was stationed at Linn Ross, on the river Boyne. Linn Ross, or the pool of Ross, was that part of the river Boyne which was opposite Rosnarea, in the barony of Lower Duleek, in the county of Meath (" Annals of the Four Masters," 462, note q). Another fleet was at Linn Suileach, doubtless an ancient name of Loch Suilach, or Loch Swilly, in Donegal ("Annals of the Four Masters” 463, note 2). It was apparently from Dublin (" Annals of Ulster," quoted in "Annals of the Four Masters," 463, note s) that issued those who plundered Birra, a foundation of St. Brendan, who died in 565 or 571, now called Parsonstown and Saigher, i.e., Seir Keiran in Ballybritt, King's County, where was the principal church of St. Kiaran.

"Saigher," says Dr. Todd, "is said to have been the name of a well-venerated queen in pagan times, and a prophecy attributed to St. Patrick is cited as having directed Saint Kiaran to the place. He founded a church there, and began, we are told, by occupying a cell, where he lived as a hermit in the midst of a dense wood, and tamed some of the wild animals of the forest for his amusement; but his fame drew disciples, a monastery followed, and then a city, to which the name of Saigher, pronounced Seir, was given, from the name of the ancient well, and it was afterwards named Seir Keiran from the name of the saint." (Todd's St. Patrick, 201.)

Disert Diarmata (i.e., Saint Diarmaid's desert hermitage or wilderness) was also devastated, the body who plundered it coming from Kaeluisge (i. e., the narrow water, now Narrowwater), situated between Warren's Point and Newry in the barony of Upper Iseagh, in the county Down ("Annals of the Four Masters," 462, note p). "Disert Diarmata was the ancient Irish name of Castle Dermot, in the baronies of Kilkea and Moone, near the southern extremity of the county of Kildare, where Diarmaid, son of Aedh Roin, erected a monastery about A.D. 500. In the churchyard there are to be seen an ancient round tower and several curious crosses, which attest the antiquity and former importance of the place" (id., note o).

Three important victims of the pirates are mentioned by name this year; these were Caemhan, abbot of Linnduachaille, who we are told was mortally wounded and burnt by the Gentiles, the "Annals of Ulster" say by the Irish and Gentiles (" Annals of the Four Masters," 463, note s; "Chron. Scot.," 145). They also killed Moran mac Inreaghty, Bishop of Clogher (id.), and they captured Maldinn MacConal, king of Calatrom (i. e., Galtrim in Meath), who was killed three or four years later by the people of Leinster.

During the next two years the entries in the Annals about the Norsemen are very scanty, proving doubtless that a large part of their fleets were busy buccaneering elsewhere. This is a good halting-place. The pirates now began a series of much more important raids upon the fair lands of France, while their course in Ireland also took a new departure.

Much of this paper consists of arid detail, because the ground is largely new and untrodden, and we have to carve our way through a thicket which is dense and confused; but the very dryness of the details and their iteration proves the terrible way in which the culture and civilization of early Ireland was laid low at this time by the pirates.

Transactions of the Royal Historical Society Volume VIII (1880), 281-330.

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