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

Section 8


Of the invasion of the Firbolg here.

The posterity of Simeon Breac, son of Starn, son of Neimheadh, having been in Greece, i.e. Thrace, as we have said, they grew so that the people who were there of them


were numerous. Howbeit, the Greeks put bondage and great tyranny on them, such as their being digging the ground, raising earth, and carrying it in bags or in sacks of leather for putting it on stony crags, until it should become fruitful soil. Great sadness seized them, and enmity to the Greeks through the slavery in which they had them: and with that it was resolved by them to leave that evil plight. Having determined on that counsel, five thousand of them get together, and they make boats of the bags or of the wallets of leather in which they used to be drawing the clay: or it is the fleet of the king of the Greeks they stole, as the Cin of Druim Sneachta says, so that this posterity of Simeon Breac, son of Starn, came back to Ireland at the end of two hundred and seventeen years after Neimheadh had occupied Ireland.

Here are the chiefs who were over them that time, namely, Sláinghe, Rughruidhe, Gann, Geanann, and Seanghann, i.e. the five sons of Deala, son of Loch, son of Teacht, son of Triobuat, son of Othorb, son of Goiste, son of Oirtheacht, son of Simeon, son of Arglán, son of Beoán, son of Starn, son of Neimheadh, son of Agnamon, &c. Their five wives, Fuad, Eudar, Anust, Cnucha, and Liobhra, their names: and it is of them it was said:—

    1. Fuad wife of Sláinghe—not deceiving you—
      Eudar wife of Gann the valorous,
      Anust wife of Seanghann of the spears,
      Cnucha was wife of Geanann bright,(?)
      Liobhra wife of Rughruidhe of the way.(?)

Five thousand the number of the host who came with them; one thousand one hundred and thirty ships (between


ship, bark, skiff and small boat) the number of their fleet, as these verses of antiquity show which follow:—
    1. Thirty ships on one hundred,
      And a thousand—it is not a lie—
      It is the number who came from the east,
      The good Sláinghe with his hosts:
    2. Many were the Firbolg, without a lie,
      At their coming out from Greece;
      Good the tribes who were not diffident (in setting out),
      Nor was the fleet wooden.
    3. Wednesday they went westward,
      Over the great broad Torrian Sea;
      The period of three days on a fair year (went by)
      Until they reached to Spain:
    4. From that by them to noble Ireland—
      A convenient sailing from Spain—
      Better then not to conceal it from all,(?)
      The space of three days and ten.

These five chiefs divide Ireland in five parts among them, as we have said before, speaking of the third partition which was made of Ireland; as this verse says:—

    1. Five chiefs at the head of the host
      Divide into five Banbha the ancient;
      Geanann, Rughraidhe—a brilliant roll—
      Gann, Seangann, and Sláinghe.

Sláinghe (from whom is named Innbhear Sláinghe at Loch-garman, [the youngest of the children]) took the province of Leinster from Innbhear Colptha at Droichead-átha to Cumar na dtrí-n-uisge, and a thousand the number of his host. Gann takes from Cumar na dtrí-n-uisge to Bealach Chonghlais, and a thousand the number of his host. Seangann takes from Bealach Chonghlais to Luimneach, and a thousand the number of his host. Geanann takes the province of Connacht from Luimneach to Drobhais, and a thousand the number of his


host. Rughraidhe takes the province of Ulster, namely, from Drobhaois to Droichead-átha, and a thousand the number of his host.

It is [to] these chiefs with their companies that are called Fir Bolg, Fir Domhnann and Gaileoin". Fir Bolg, indeed, from the bags of leather they used to have in Greece, carrying earth to put it on bare flags so that they might make of them flowery plains in bloom. Fir Domhnann from the pits they used to dig in the soil by carrying it to the Fir Bolg. Gaileoin, indeed, they were named from the darts; because it is these which used to be their arms defending everybody when they would be (i.e. the others) doing their work; and from the darts or the spears which were their arms, they were named.

Understand, O reader, that it is one conquest they made, and that it is in one week they came into Ireland, i.e. Sláinghe on Saturday in Innbhear Sláinghe, Gann and Seangann the Tuesday after that in Iorrus Domhnann, Geannan and Rughraidhe the Friday afterwards in Tracht Rughraidhe. (The name) Gaileoin is given to Sláinghe with his people: Fir Bolg is given to Gann and to Seangann with their people: and Fir Domhnann is given to Geanann and to Rughraidhe. And some of the antiquaries say that it is in Iorrus Domhnann (in the north-west of the province of Connacht) these two came to land with a third of the host, and that it is from them Iorrus Domhnann is called. However, they are all commonly called Fir Bolg. Thirty-six years (was) the length of the dominion of the Fir Bolg over Ireland: and no one to whom the title of high-king was given came into the island before


them;so it is to prove that the following rann was composed:—
    1. Sixteen years and two tens,
      Fir Bolg over Banbha throughout,
      Till the coming of the Tuath Dé to the people,
      (And) that they seized all Ireland.