Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The History of Ireland (Author: Geoffrey Keating)

Section 2


Here follows every division which was made on Ireland.

The first division, it is Partholon who divided it into four parts among his four sons, whose names were Er, Orba, Fearon, and Feargna. He gave the first part to Er, namely, all that is from Aileach Néid in the north of Ulster to Athcliath of Leinster. He gave the second part to Orba, namely, all that is from Athcliath to Oiléan Arda Neimheadh, which is called Oiléan Mór an Bharraigh. He gave the


third part to Fearon, from the Great Island to Athcliath Meadhruidhe at Galway. He gave the fourth part to Feargna, namely, from Meadhruidhe to Aileach Néid.

The second division, that is, the division of the children of Neimheadh. Three leaders of the children of Neimheadh divided Ireland among them into three parts:—Beothach, Simeon, and Briotán their names. Beothach takes from Tóirinis to the Boyne. Simeon takes from the Boyne to Bealach Chonglais near to Cork. Briotán takes from Bealach Chonglais to Tóirinis in the north of Connacht.

The third division here, i.e. the division of the Firbolg. The five sons of Deala, son of Loch, divided Ireland into five parts among them, and it is those are called the five provinces, and it is that is the division which is the most permanent that was ever made in Ireland, as we shall shortly hereafter relate. Cambrensis agrees with this division in the book he wrote of an account of Ireland, where he says:—In five parts, indeed, almost equal, (he says), this country was anciently divided, which are, the two Munsters, north Munster and south Munster, Leinster, Ulster, and Connacht. {In quinque enim portiones (inquit) fere aequales antiquitus haec regio divisa fuit; videlicet, in Momoniam duplicem, Borealem et Australem, Lageniam, Ultoniam, et Conaciam.}’’

Here are the five leaders of the Firbolg who took the headship of those five provinces: Sláinge, Seangann, Gann, Geanann, and Rughruidhe. Sláinge took the province of Leinster, from Droicheadátha to Cumar-na-dtrí-n-uisge Gann takes the province of Eochaidh Abhradhruaidh, from Cumar-na-dtrí-n-uisge to Bealach Chonglais: Seangann takes the province of Cúraoi, son of Dáire, from Bealach Chonglais to Luimneach;


Geanann takes the province of Connacht from Luimneach to Drobhaois: Rughruidhe takes the province of Ulster from Drobhaois to Droicheadátha.

Although some antiquaries hold that it is a tripartite division which was on Ireland among the three sons of Cearmad Milbheoil of the Tuatha Dé Danann, I do not think that they divided Ireland among them, but it is my opinion that it is a permutation of the sovereignty each succeeding year which they had between them, according as we have said above, in showing why Eire is called to this country more frequently than Fodhla or Banbha.

The fourth division, that is, the division of the children of Míleadh. It is the opinion of some antiquaries that it is thus Ireland was divided between Eibhear and Eireamhón:—all that is from Athcliath and from Gaillimh southwards, and Eisgir riadha for a boundary between them, to Eibhear; and what there is from that northwards to Eireamhón. However, this is not the division which was made between them, as we shall prove hereafter; but it is thus they divided Ireland:— the two provinces of Munster to Eibhear; the province of Connacht and the province of Leinster to Eireamhón; and the province of Ulster to Eibhear, son of Ir, i.e. their brothers's son: and a party of the nobles who had come with them, in the company of each one of them in his own division of the country.

The fifth division, that is, the division of Cearmna and Sobhairce. Cearmna and Sobhairce, indeed, in [two] halves between them, namely, from Innbhear Colptha at Droichead-átha to Luimneach Mumhan, and the half which was north to Sobhairce, and he built a fortress in his own half, namely


Dún Sobhairce. Cearmna takes the southern half, and he built a fortress beside the south sea, namely, Dún, which to-day is called Dún, in De Courcy's country.

The sixth division, that is, the division of Ugaine Mór. Ugaine Mór divides Ireland in twenty-five parts, among the five and twenty children that he had, as we shall set down in the Roll of Kings.

The seventh division, namely, the division of Conn Céadchathach and Mógh Nuadhat. Conn and Mógh Nuadhat divided Ireland into halves between them, that is to say, all that is from Gaillimh and from Athcliath northwards, and Eisgir riadha for a boundary between them to Conn: and it is from that came Leath Chuinn to be given to the side which was north; and Leath Mhógha to Mógh Nuadhat;:and it is from that was given Leath Mhógha to the half which was south.

Notwithstanding, however, that I have set down in order these seven divisions which were made of Ireland, according to the sequence of the invasions and of the epochs, I shall return to the usual division which is on Ireland from the time of the Firbolg apart, for it is it is the most permanently established, namely, five provinces to be made of it, as we have said. And it is where the common centre of these five provinces was, at a pillar-stone which is in Uisneach, until that Tuathal Teachtmhar came, into the sovereignty, and that he took away a portion of each province as mensal land for every high-king who should be in Ireland: so that it is of these Meath was formed, as we shall show in the reign of Tuathal.