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

Section 17


Of the expulsion by Pharao Intuir of the race of Gaedheal from Egypt as follows:

As to Pharao Intuir and the Egyptians thereafter, when they had become powerful in the country,they remembered their old enmity against the children of Niul and the race of Gaedheal, that is, the friendship into which they had entered with the children of Israel, and Niul's having carried off the fleet of Pharao Cincris on the escape of the children of Israel. They accordingly made war upon the race of Gaedheal and banished them against their will from Egypt. Thomas Walsingham agrees with this account in Upodigma, where he says: When the Egyptians had been drowned, the portion of the inhabitants who lived after them expelled a certain Scythian nobleman who dwelt amongst them, lest he might assume sovereignty over them. When he had been expelled with his tribe, he came to Spain, where he resided many years, and where his progeny multiplied exceedingly, and thence they came to Ireland. {Aegyptius in Mari Rubro submersis, illi qui superfuerunt expulerunt a se quemdam nobilem Scyticum qui degebat apud eos ne dominium super eos invaderet; expulsus ille cum familia pervenit ad Hispanium ubi et habitavit per annos multos et progenies ipsius familiae multae multiplicata est nimis et inde venerunt in Hiberniam.}’’

Know, O reader, that this nobleman was Sru son of Easru, son of Gaedheal, and not Gaedheal himself, notwithstanding Hector Boetius, and notwithstanding also the opinion of the modern English authors who have written on Ireland, and who imagine that it was Gaedheal himself who came to Spain. Because, according to the truth of the seanchus of Ireland, which one should believe in this matter, it was in Egypt that Scota daughter of Pharao Cincris gave birth to Gaedheal, and it was there that he lived till his death; and he did not come from Greece, as others assert, but his father, who was called Niul, came from Scythia. And although the author whom we have quoted states that it was to Spain the nobleman to


whom we have referred came, such is not the fact; for it was to Scythia he went, and it was the fifteenth in descent from him, called Bratha son of Deaghaidh, who first came to Spain. Here is the seanchas statement of the fact that it was Sru son of Easru who was the leader of this expedition on its setting out from Egypt, as Giolla Caomhain says in the poem beginning, Gaedheal Glas from whom are the Gaels:
    1. Sru son of Easru son of Gaedheal,
      Our ancestor of the joyous host,
      It was he who went northwards from his house
      Over the Red Sea of Romhar.
    2. Four shipfuls were his host
      Upon the Red Sea of Romhar;
      Found room in each wooden dwelling, as was right,
      Four and twenty wedded couples.

Know, as we have said, that it was Sru son of Easru who headed this expedition till they reached the Island of Crete where he died, and that his son Eibhear Scot assumed the supreme authority till they arrived in Scythia. It is for this reason that a certain author says that Eibhear Scot was their leader in this expedition, and that it was from his cognomen, namely, Scot, that the Gaels are called the Scotic race. For, according to a certain author, Scot means archer, and there was in his time no bowman superior to him; and from this cognomen given him the name was given to his posterity; and they practised the bow as a weapon in imitation of the ancients down to a recent period within our own memory. However, we shall not adopt the view of this author, since it is the common opinion of the seanchas that the race of the Gaels were called the Scotic race from their having come originally from Scythia.

Understand, O reader, that Gaedheal was a contemporary of Moses, and that accordingly he was fourscore years of age when Pharao was drowned, and that the fourth in descent from himself, namely, Eibhear Scot son of Easru, son of


Gaedheal, had been born before the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea with Moses as leader over them. Certain seanchas are of opinion that there were four hundred and forty years from the drowning of Pharao in the Red Sea to the coming to Ireland of the sons of Milidh. And in confirmation of this, one of these authors thus speaks in this stanza:
    1. Forty and four hundred
      Years, it is not a falsehood,
      From the going of the people of God, I assure you,
      Over the surface of the sea of Romhar
      Till sped across the sea of Meann
      The sons of Milidh to the land of Erin.

However, according to the computation made by the Book of Invasions, there were only three hundred years less by seventeen from the time that Moses assumed the leadership of the children of Israel in Egypt until the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland. For Moses assumed the leadership of the children of Israel in Egypt seven hundred and ninety-seven years after the Deluge; and according to the time Irish history allows to the Invasions of Ireland, it was one thousand and eighty years after the Deluge that the sons of Milidh took possession of Ireland. Thus the Book of Invasions states that it was, three hundred years after the Deluge that Parthalon came, and that his descendants remained in possession of Ireland three hundred years, and that Ireland remained a waste for thirty years, till the descendants of Neimhidh arrived there, and that these descendants ruled Ireland two hundred and seventeen years, and that the Firbolg held the sovereignty thirty-six years, and the Tuatha De Danann two hundred years less by three; and, adding all these together, they make a total of one thousand and eighty years from the Deluge to the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland. And if this number be taken in connexion with the seven hundred and ninety-seven years that elapsed from the Deluge to the leadership of Moses over the children of Israel,


it is plain that there were only three hundred years less by seventeen from that time till the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland; and hence that the opinion above-mentioned is false which states that it was four hundred and forty years after the children of Israel had passed through the Red Sea that the sons of Milidh came to Ireland.

Some seanchas state that the route taken by Sru son of Easru and his followers was through the Red Sea and south-eastward through the ocean, having Taprobana on their right, and Asia on their left to the east, and then turning northwards, having it still on the left, and thence to the extremity of Sliabh Rife, in the north-west part of Asia, and southward through the strait that separates Europe and Asia, and thence to Scythia. However, this was not the route Sru took as he proceeded from Egypt to Scythia with the crews of four ships, and each ship containing thirty men; but from the mouth of the Nile through the Torrian Sea to Crete, which is now called Candia, where he dwelt for a time, and where he died, and where he left succeeding generations of his descendants; and hence, according to the authors of our records there are no serpents in Crete as there are none in Ireland. And thence they proceeded to Scythia, with Eibhear Scot for their leader; and whoever should state that it was not possible to go from Egypt to Scythia by ship or vessel, considering how Scythia was bounded at that time, would not be stating a fact, since it is plain from every writer who has treated of geography that the river called Tanais flows into the Mediterranean Sea, and that that sea extends to Egypt, where the river Nile is; and according to the limits of Scythia at that time the river Tanais is reckoned among the rivers of Scythia, according to Herodotus, an ancient author of weight, in the fourth book, where he says: The river Tanais, which separates Asia from Europe, is reckoned among the rivers of the Scythians. {Tanais fluvius dividens Asiam ab Europa enumeratur inter flumina quae apud Scitas sunt}’’

And when they had arrived in Scythia, war and strife arose between themselves and their kinsmen, namely,


the children of Neanul son of Feinius Farsaidh; and they contended with one another for the mastery of the country until it happened that Aghnon son of Tat, the fifth in descent from Eibhear Scot, slew his own cousin, Reafloir son of Rifill, of the race of Neanul, who was then king of Scythia, as Giolla Caomhain says in the poem beginning, Gaedheal Glas, from whom are the Gaels:
    1. Reafloir and Aghnon without fault
      Were seven years contending for mastery,
      Till Reafloir fell with glory
      By the successful hand of Aghnon.

Of the expulsion of the race of Gaedheal from Scythia.

Now, as to the children of Reafloir son of Rifill, he had two sons, to wit, Neanul and Rifill, and they collected an army against the descendants of Gaedheal, to banish them completely from the country; and the descendants of Gaedheal came together, and left the country in a body, going through the land of the Breast-Seared, who are called Amazons, to the border of the Caspian Sea. There they took ship and went on sea, and landed on an island in the Caspian Sea, where they remained a year; and their leaders in that expedition were Aghnon and Eibhear, two sons of Tat son of Aghnaman, son of Beodhaman, son of Eibhear Scot, son of Sru, son of Easru, son of Gaedheal.

Aghnon had three sons with him on that expedition, namely, Ealloit, Laimhfhionn, and Lamhghlas. Eibhear son of Tat had two sons, namely Caicher and Cing. And Aghnon died on that island. And at the end of a year they all quitted the island, the crews of three ships, there being sixty in each ship, and every third man having a wife with him. They had six leaders in that expedition; and they made for the strait that leads westward from the Caspian Sea to the narrow sea that comes in from the northern ocean; and when they reached that sea, a storm


came upon them, and they were driven to an island called Caronia in the Pontic Sea, where they abode for a year and a quarter; and it was in that island Eibhear son of Tat and Lamhghlas son of Aghnon died. Thence they set out, having four leaders, namely Ealloit, Laimhfhionn, Cing, and Caicher; and mermaids came on the sea before them, and these used to discourse music to the sailors as they passed them, so that they might lull them to sleep, and then fall upon them and slay them; and Caicher the Druid applied a remedy to this by melting wax in their ears so that they could not hear the music lest it might put them to sleep. They went on in this way till they put into port at the extremity of Sliabh Rife in the north; and it was there that Caicher foretold them that they would not find a dwelling-place anywhere till they reached Ireland, and that it was not they themselves who would reach it but their descendants. Thence they set out and reached Gothia; and to Laimhfhionn was born a renowned son called Eibhear Gluinfhionn, and the race of Gaedhael dwelt in that country thirty years, and some of their progeny are there to this day. In proof of this Giolla Caomhain composed this stanza:
    1. The race of skilful, beloved Gaedheal
      Were thirty years in that land;
      Some of their tribe remain there ever since
      Until the end of the world.

Other seanchas are of opinion that the race of Gaedheal dwelt in Gothia a hundred and fifty years; and this is the most probable opinion. For it is plain that the race of Gaedheal spent eight generations in Gothia, namely, from Eibhear Gluinfhionn to Bratha. These generations are as follows: Bratha son of Deaghaidh, son of Earchaidh, son of Ealloit, son of Nuadha, son of Neanul, son of Eibric, son of Eibhear Gluinfhionn, who was born in Gothia itself son of Laimhfhionn, the first leader of the race of Gaedheal that came into that country; and since so many generations could not come


within thirty years, I am convinced that the latter opinion is the true one.

Other seanchas assert that it was three hundred years the race of Gaedheal dwelt in Gothia. But this cannot be true, since, according to the times of the Invasions, as we have said above, there were not three hundred years in full from the time Pharao was drowned in the Red Sea until the coming of the sons of Milidh to Ireland. Hence this opinion cannot be true, since within that period the race of Gaedheal went through the whole of their wanderings from Egypt to Crete, and from Crete to Scythia, and from Scythia to Gothia, from Gothia to Spain, from Spain to Scythia, and from Scythia to Egypt, and from Egypt to Thrace, from Thrace to Gothia, and from Gothia to Spain, and from Spain to Ireland.