translated by Whitley Stokes
Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber
1. First draft.
Extent of text: 11480 words
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: T201003
Available with prior consent of the CELT project for purposes of academic research and teaching only.
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The electronic text covers the editorial introduction on pages 35 and the text on odd pages 759. Some portions of verse are omitted by Stokes; their omission is marked.
Text has been proof-read twice.
The electronic text represents the edited text including footnotes.
Quotation marks representing direct speech are rendered q.
When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, the page-break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word (and punctuation).
div0=the life; div1=the chapter; div2=the section (numbered in sequence throughout the chapters). Metrical quatrains are marked and numbered.
Names of persons and place names are not tagged. Numbers and dates are not marked.
This text uses the DIV1 element to represent the chapter.
Created: Translation by Whitley Stokes (c. 1907)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (data capture)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
The following legend is preserved, so far as I am aware, only in two MSS., one, the so-called Liber Flavus Fergussiorum, a vellum now in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, Part I, ff. 13a15a: the other in the Brussels MS. 41904200, ff. 43a65b.1 The Liber Flavus was written at the end of the fourteenth, or the beginning of the fifteenth century.2 The Brussels MS., which is on paper, was written by Michael O'Clery (one of the compilers of the Annals of the Four Masters) in the years 1628 and 1629. He transcribed the legend from a MS. which he calls Leabhar Tighe Molling, the Book of Timulling, now, apparently, lost. Notwithstanding its greater antiquity, the copy in the Liber Flavus is far inferior to that in the Brussels MS. For instance, in the account of the Gobbán Saer's inversion of the oratory (infra, paragraph 47), the Brussels MS. has Dobeir Gobban tra trelamh & acfaing fair, so Gobban puts tackle and apparatus upon it, while the elder codex has Dobeir Goban trath etre a lám & a moing fair,
p.4which is mere gibberish, though it is printed without demur in Petrie's Ecclesiastical Architecture (ed. I, p. 345, ed. 2, p. 348), and boldly translated by Goban laid hold of it by both post and ridge. If the Irish MSS. at Brussels were well photographed, and the photographs deposited in a Dublin library, the benefit to students of Gaelic and of Celtic hagiology would be exceedingly great.
A fragment corresponding closely with paragraphs 38, 39 of the following edition, exists in the Franciscan MS. A (9), p. 17, where it is entitled, in the margin, de St. Molingo. The statement in the Fourth Report of the Historical MSS. Commission, p. 601, that this codex contains a Life of Moling, is erroneous. For a careful copy of this fragment, by Mr. J. G. O Keeffe, I am indebted to Mr. R. I. Best, the Hon. Secretary of the School of Irish Learning. An older copy is, apparently, in Brussels MS. 23242340, p. 67, entitled in the table of contents S. Molingo Jesus Christus apparuit in forma Leprosi.
The legend is noteworthy, first, for the pathetic story of St. Moling's birth (paragraphs 58), and, secondly, for the light which it throws on the manners, beliefs and morality of the ancient Irish. See, for instance, the description of the young saint begging, like a Buddhist monk (paragraph 14); his interviews with the wicked spectres (paragraphs 1621) and with his guilty but repentant mother (paragraphs 26, 27); the trace of tree-worship in the mention of the Yew of Ross (paragraph 34); the magical effects of a spell (epaid) and a prayer (paragraphs 35, 37); the wanton insolence of Irish lepers (paragraph 38); the fondling of the boy Jesus (paragraph 39); the story of Gobbán Saer and his wife (paragraphs 4147). freely rendered by O' Curry3; the miracle by which an oratory was filled with rye (paragraph 50); the treachery practised upon the saint by two kings (paragraph 52); the livelihood earned by needlework (paragraph 53); the use of horseflesh as food (paragraph 53); the shameful equivocation by
p.5which the saint procured the remission of the tribute imposed on Leinster (paragraphs 6064).4 A belief in shape-shifting seems evidenced by paragraphs 52 and 70; and one of the many folk-tales about the wren5 (roitelet, Zaunkönig, gr. basilískos = regulus) is contained in paragraphs 73, 74. Attention may also be called to the clear and vigorous prose in which the bulk of the legend is written, and to the dramatic dialogues in paragraphs 17, 38, 42.
Many long vowels not marked as such in the MS. are here denoted by a flat stroke (á, é, etc.).
The prose of the following text and the first lines of the poems were published in the Revue Celtique, t. 27, pp. 260304, but with so many mistakes, both typographical and editorial, as to render a revised edition desirable. The verses are, with one exception,6 now printed in extenso. They are often obscure and sometimes obviously corrupt.
The rarer words and grammatical forms found in this legend are collected in the Glossarial Index.7
In the footnotes and the Index, B denotes the Brussels MS. 41904200, F the Franciscan fragment, and L the copy in the Liber Flavus Fergussiorum.
For many corrections and useful suggestions, I am indebted to Professors Strachan and Meyer, Mr. O. J. Bergin, Father Henebry, and the Rev. Charles Plummer. To the last-named scholar I also owe the extracts from the unpublished Latin Life of St. Moling, printed infra in the note to paragraph 72.
There was a landholder hundreded,8 wonderful, famous, trophied, in the plains of capacious Luachair,9 with abundance of spoils and kine and droves of cattle. His name was Fáelán the Fair, son of Feradach, son of Odran, son of Dega, son of Findlug, from whom are the Húi Dega of Leinster10 and Ossory. Thrice fifty herdsmen is the number that was keeping his herds and his cattle and his flocks with him. Though many were the herdsmen he had, they could not drive them to their sheds or tend them, because of their multitude. So this is what the herdsmen used to do, put their clothes on their sticks for them (and frighten them), so that they used to go in their running crowds from the smooth plains of the province, towards their sheds and their full cattlefields.
Now no worldly wealth was lacking to him or to his wife. One night, then, when they were on the bulwark11 of their fort and their full steading, his wife said to him: Hast thou, O husband, property in (thy) province, or land in fee? and if there were, she says, we should fitly go to it, there to spend our vast wealth and build a common guesthouse, so that every one might find his fill with us at our proper place, so that we may have posterity, and that our friends and counsellors may obtain somewhat from us.
Good, my girl, quoth Fáelán; may victory and benison attend thee! Good is what thou sayest, and if I knew that it was well for thee (?) we would go. Far from thee it is to our country and our abode.
So then by dint of luck and charm, he proceeded, with plenty of spoils and kine and droves and flocks and herds and cattle, so that his heritage and his own land, to wit, Húi Dega of Leinster and Húi Dega of Ossory, was filled by him with his riches, so that in the district or in the country there was nothing unfilled by him, neither fortress nor fastness nor goodly steading that did not abound with his wealth: wherefore in his time there was no one to reach him as to opulence.
At that time his wife had beside her a beautiful sister, named Emnait. Fáelán's heart was set upon her, so that he gained her love, and she became great with child. Fear and dread seized her on account of her sister, and because of the shame of the (evil) deed that had befallen her. Wherefore she went back stealthily by the same road; and not by day, but by night she used to travel, and every day she lay still. So thus she reached her own country, to wit, Cenél Siatnai12 in the west.
Now when she came in this wise to the midst of the Luachair in the west, the night falls upon her there, and a prodigious snow descends, so that it reached men's shoulders. Then, because of the exceeding cold, and the greatness of the snow, and the fear and dread that came about her, birthpangs seized her, and thereafter she brought forth the babe that lay in her womb, to wit, a boy sweet and beautiful, sweet and shining.
There came a service of angels to the place wherein he lay. So because of that service the snow melted for thirty feet on every side from him. But she turned her back to the little child, and left equal rights between him and the snow, and was seeking how she should inflict death upon him, for she felt shame in looking at him, she, instead of her sister, having conceived him.
The sun's radiance arose over the face of the green-sided, choice earth, and she was contemplating the infant there. Then she put her forearms about him, to inflict upon him death and extinction and tragic fate.13 So therefore the Lord sent a dove from heaven to protect that little child. And the dove put its plumage and its wings about the infant's skin, so that it was (both) covering and warming the babe. The girl was stretching out her hand towards him, on the side on which the dove was not, in order to kill the child. But the dove would come around him on every side, and put its wings over his countenance and its claws over the girl's face;14 and in this wise it was protecting the infant until daytime came thereat.
Then Brénainn15 son of Findlug came to them with his clerical students, and he saw the service of angels from heaven to earth above the infant. Then said the cleric to an excellent man of his following, namely, to Collanach the priest: Go, says he, to look at yon place, for there is a service of angels there from heaven to earth. Thereupon Collanach went to the place, and he beheld the dove and the infant, and the woman about to stone the infant, and the dove protecting it. The priest then went to Brénainn and tells him the whole deed. Go, says Brénainn, and
p.13baptize the infant, and bestow a noble name upon him, for heaven's angels are honouring and reverencing him. And bring the babe with thee, and his mother with him to maintain him until his time of study arrives.
Collanach the priest went and baptized the infant, and bestowed a name upon him, to wit, Tairchell, from the tairchellad (surrounding) which the dove rendered him when defending him from his mother.
Now Collanach brought the boy and his mother to Uam Brénainn (Brenann's Cave16), and he was nurtured to the end of his seven years. Thus then was Collanach, noble in virginity and in uprightness, and he was a wondrous sage. And all the sons of wise men and nobles that were brought to Brénainn as students, 'tis to Collanach that Brénainn used to assign them, so that there were thirty sons of kings and princes with Collanach; and none of them was better than Tairchell in figure and shape and appearance.
Thereafter Collanach set Tairchell to study. Thus was Tairchell: an angel, even Victor,17 instructing him, so that there was nothing of which he was ignorant. And 'tis he that used to be instructing the other boys, so that all were honouring him.
Then he said to his fosterer: I were fain to have a boon from thee. What boon? says the fosterer. That I may be in service to the thirty sons of kings who
p.15are studying with thee, and that I may travel the districts to ask for alms for them and for the Church. Do so, quoth the fosterer, and take a blessing (from me).18
Thereafter Tairchell fared forth on the road, and carried two wallets with him, to wit, a wallet on his back and a wallet on his breast. In his hand he took his fosterer's staff, and in that wise went on a circuit. Now in one of the two wallets he would put grain and bread; and in the other wallet, biestings and butter and bacon. In his left hand (he held) a cup. Thus he continued until his sixteen years were complete, serving his fosterer and his foster-brothers.
Then he went, one day, to make a circuit of the Luachair, and on that day he searched it all. As he was singing his prayer he saw a misshapen, ugly monster athwart the path before him. This was the Evil Spectre with his black, ugly, misshapen household, human beings, to wit, in forms of spectres.19 And they used to give no sanctuary to anyone on earth, namely, the Evil Spectre himself and his wife, his gillie, his hound, and his nine followers.
When they were there on the road, they saw coming towards them the scholar, with his burden upon him, wending his way towards the church. Said the Spectre to his household: Bide ye there till I go to converse with yon solitary person. And I give my word that, since I took to robbery and marauding, I never wished to protect anyone save him yonder alone.
Then he seized his weapons and came forward to
p.17hold speech with the scholar. And then the Spectre said to Tairchell:
Naught, indeed, will be the scholar, quoth he. I will put this spear through thy heart, so that thou wilt find death and extinction and a tragic ending. I give my word, says Tairchell, that I will rap thy head with this staff which is in my hand, to wit, my fosterer's staff; and he has promised that it would not be left in a single combat. Whereupon Tairchell said:
An ashen staff, heavy its crushing on the side of the cheek of the furious mad champion:
Thick its shaft, strong its neck: no grasp of a man's hand surrounds it.
And after that the cleric said (to the Spectres): Grant me a boon. What boon dost thou ask? say they. Easy (to say): to let me have my three steps of pilgrimage towards the King of heaven and earth, and my three steps of folly also, so that death may be the further from me. Let it be granted to thee, says the hag, for thou wilt never get away from us; since we ourselves are as swift as wild deer, and our hound is as swift as the wind.
Then he bound that (boon) on the Spectre's hand. Thereafter he leapt his three steps of pilgrimage and his three leaps of folly. The first leap that he leapt he seemed
p.19to them no bigger than a crow on the top of a hill. The second leap that he leapt, they saw him not at all, and they knew not whether he had gone into heaven or into earth. But the third leap that he leapt, 'tis then he alighted on the wall of the church-enclosure.
He has gone yonder, says the Spectre's hag. Whereupon they ran, both hound and human, so that their outcry and their storm and their pursuit upon (Tairchell) were heard beyond a thousand paces in the air above him.21 But the hounds and the small folk of the town came forth, each to save the boy from them, for they were sure that the Spectres were pursuing him. 'Tis then he leapt from the wall, and reached the church, and sat in his place of prayer, so that he was chanting psalms opposite his fosterer. Until he had finished his order and his mass Collanach did not look at Tairchell. After that he looked at the boy, and thus he was, with the glow of the anger and the going upon him, and the radiance of the Godhead in his countenance.
Well, my, son, says the priest; what is the rage of wrath that is in thy face? Easy (to say); the evil Spectres attacked me and hunted me. And Tairchell related to him the whole story, how he had leapt the Luachair in his three leaps. That is true, says the priest. Thou art the prophesied one, whom the angel Victor foretold: thou wilt be (called) Molling of Luachair from the leaps that thou hast leapt (ro-lingis).
Thirty years till to-day Brénainn son of Findlugh came from the sea,22 and took land and harbour by the streampools of the Barrow.23 Then said Brénainn to his
p.21community: Cast your net into this haven: belike it is a place for catching fish. They cast forth their net, and in every third mesh there chanced a salmon. Cast again,says Brénainn. They cast a second time, and in every second mesh there chanced a salmon. For the third time the net was cast and a salmon chanced in every mesh. Let us make an abode here, says Brénainn, for this is a place for ecclesiastics.
In that place Brénainn built the hearth of their house, and there arranged the place of the monastery. A huge hill was above the house. Brénainn and his monks were levelling it every day, in order that it might be a place of service to the Lord; and this may have been the lofty hill which angels had prophesied for him. But then an angel came to Brénainn and said to him: Do not make an abode here now, for in prophecy it is not for thee to make an abode here; but the boy who will be born at the end of thirty years from to-day, he it is, Moling of Linn mor, that will make a dwelling there. And 'tis he that will settle at the Point of Ross Bruicc24 on the brink of the Barrow, and 'tis a multitude that he will bring to heaven. And there he will perform his miracles and his marvels, and his Lord will come to converse with him in the guise of a leper.25
So then said the angel:26
Thirty years, etc.
Thou, then, art that Moling, for it is thou that has leapt the greatest leap that a man has leapt and will ever leap. And 'tis thou whom the angel Victor foretold, and now this in future will be thy famous name, Moling of Luachair.
What is that? have I another fatherland besides this? says Moling. And if I have, let it be told to me that I may go to visit it and dwell therein.
p.23There is indeed, says the priest; and thy mother is in the steading, and let her tell thee.The mother was afterwards brought to him, and she told him his own country and his kindred, and how he had been begotten. O son, says the mother, leave thy blessing with me, and give me forgiveness for the deed I have done! So then he said:
- The woman of Cenél Setnai,27
'tis she that reared me in the first place;
and, O God, forgive the woman
payment for all the theft she committed.28
Much of blame for thee I got, quoth she. Many said to me that thou wast a child of my sin and corruption. Heaven to thee, O woman, saith Moling.
What then dost thou leave to me? says the priest; for through thee I have been greatly blamed. For many used to say that thou wert a carnal son of mine. Heaven and length of life to thyself and to thy successor, to wit, the priest of this place. Palm, too, of hounds and women and horses thereout, for they came to help me from the Spectres.29
Thereafter Collanach the priest clipt Moling's hair, and put upon him a monk's tonsure, and said a pater noster over him,30 and told him to go to Maedóc of Ferns and be his pupil. Young, beautiful, youthful was that cleric. White as snow was his body: ruddy as purple plants his face. In his time there was none equal to him in shape, for the splendours of the Godhead were in his company.
Thereafter he fared forth on the road till he came to Clúain Cáin Maedóc.31 Maedóc was then in his church performing his ecclesiastical order at terce. It was revealed to Maedóc that a noble unknown guest had come to him. Leave off for us the order there, says Maedóc, for on his way to us is one whom it is not meet to delay. Moling reached the church, and Maedóc rises up before him, and Moling did not sit down in his place. The order is then performed. Thereafter the clerics make their union. Leave a blessing with us, says Maedóc. I will leave (three), says Moling: Palm of safeguard and protection in this place! Palm of dispute in every assembly which the erenagh of this place shall enter! Though much quarrelling be in the place, provided they (the quarrellers) enter the temple, they will go thence in peace, without bringing the reproach of the place past the great cross of the green.
Thereafter he went forward to Cashel of the Kings.32 Fingin33 son of Aed was then in Cashel before him. Moling visited him, and the king made him welcome. Moling asked Fingin for the site of an abbey-church. It shall be given, says the king. There they rest that night. An angel comes to converse with Moling and said to him: What business hast thou to be asking a place here, while there is a place ready for thee by the streampools of the Barrow, and a fire alive for thirty years there awaiting thee? And build thy church and thy patron saint's temple there and serve thy Lord therein.
Now the talk of Moling and the angel was heard by the king, and he said to Moling on the morrow: Go, saith he, to the place which the angel has promised thee, and we will give thee every help that thou wilt need.
Then Moling left 'good leavings'34 to the king of Cashel, and bade the king farewell, and fared forth to Sliab Mairgi,35 and he looked southward, and beheld a service of angels at the Point of Ross Bruicc above the streampools of the Barrow. And Moling came to that place, and found Brénainn's hearth therein. House and church were there built by Moling, and every one marvelled that a habitation was made there, for the place in which it was set up was a place of robbery and theft and outrage.
At that time, then, the Yew of Ross36 fell, and Molaisse distributed it to the saints of Ireland. So Moling went to ask him for some of the Yew of Ross. Of the tree Molaisse gave him the roofing of his oratory. Then Moling fetched Gobban the Wright to build his oratory. Eight wrights had Gobban, and eight women, and eight boys. They remained to the end of a year, and nought they did for him, yet none the worse was their entertainment. Every morning Gobban was enjoining them to go to the wood, and this he used to say every day: Let us go to-day in the name of the Heavenly Father. Then on that day year he said: Let us go in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. On that day year, then, Moling and Gobban wend throughout the wood, and they found a sufficient tree, and begin to fell it.
The first chip that was knocked out of it chanced on Moling's eye and broke (it) in his head.37 He put his hood over his face, and told the wrights nothing whatever of his
p.29fracture, and said to them: Do your work well so that I may go to perform my (canonical) hours. He left them, and as he was going a student38 chanced to meet him. What is the matter with thine eye, O cleric? quoth he. A chip struck across it. Come that I may sing a spell to it, says the student. Moling comes, and then the student said: A millshaft under thine eye: a holly-branch under thine eye: every trouble in thy cheek: a taloned griffin under thine eye!
When Moling looked a look39 past him, he knew not whether the student had gone into heaven or into earth. Howsoever the eye had been before him it was worse after him. It was a demon that came there.
As Moling was on his way there he saw a sedate, grey-haired cleric beside him. What is the matter with thine eye, O cleric? says he. A chip struck over it, says Moling. Come hither that I may chant a prayer to it.Moling comes to him, and then he said:
Moling's eye was healed at once, and his sight had never been better before. And after this the cleric did not appear to him. In sooth, says Moling, yon messenger was sent to me from my Lord to succour me.
- Mary's spittle, God's spittle,
whole to which it is put, whole to which it goes:
from Mary its healing has been given,
whole be every eye round which it goes.
- A well that bathes eyes,
which will be with health.
He that succoured thine eyes
succoured the eyes of Tobit.
of the King of the (heavenly) City's household:
that which succoured thine eyes
succoured a serpent's eyes.
- May I see the serpent
and its eyes after it:
through Thy word, O Jesus,
Luke the physician has healed.
- I succour thine eyes:
I have no fault of leeches:
as God succoured Mary,
(God) the King without fault in His spittle.40
Thereafter as Moling was wending his way he saw before him a hideous misshapen leper. Whence comest thou, O cleric? says the leper. I come out of the wood, replies the cleric. For God's sake, take me with thee to the church. I am willing, says Moling: come on then, says he. In what manner? asked the leper. As thou camest hither, says Moling. I cannot travel, says the leper, till I get myself carried comfortably. Come on my back then, said Moling. I will not go, says the leper, lest there be some of thy raiment between me and thee, for the raiment41 will leave none of my skin upon me. I will do (what thou desirest), says Moling, so he doffs his clothes and lifts the leper on his back. Blow my nose, says the leper. Moling gives his hand to him to blow it. Nay! says the leper, for thy fingers will strip my skin off: put thy mouth round it. The cleric puts his mouth round the nose and sucks it to him,42 and spits that mucus into his left hand.
When he looked a look past him43 he knew not whether the leper had gone into heaven or into earth. This is right, says Moling, if my Lord came to deceive me. I will neither sleep nor eat until my Lord comes to me clearly and evidently. He then remained in that place till midnight. Then the angel came to him and said: In what form wouldst thou prefer thy Lord to come and hold speech with thee? In the guise of a boy of seven years, says Moling, so that I may make transports of fondness around Him. He noticed nothing at the end of a time afterwards till Christ sat on his lap in the shape of
p.33a boy of seven years, and he was fondling Him till the hour of rising on the morrow.44 If thou deemest that enough, says the angel, get thee to thy monastery. Moling then goes to the church, and that story is written by him, etc.
Thereafter he went home. That night the fishermen caught a huge salmon and they gave it to Moling. The salmon was cut open by the cleric, and an ingot of gold was found in the midst of it. Then Moling divided the ingot into three, to wit, a third to the poor, and a third for enshrining his relics, and a third for doing his labour.45
Then came Ruadsech the Red, wife of Gobbán the Wright, 46 to have speech with the cleric. She took to praising his form and colour and shape and appearance. Why is that, O woman? asked the cleric. To converse with thee and to entreat thee have we come, says she: ill we deem it to have no herd of cattle. Two cows shall go to thee, and a cow to each of the other women, said the cleric. May there be good to thee, O cleric! say they, for that is our own award.
Thereafter they went home. Now there was a son of malediction, robbing and marauding there at that time: Grác was his name. He came towards the kine, and stole
p.35one of the two cows of Ruadsech the Red. That was told to Ruadsech. Tis true, she says; the grudging, denying cleric! 'tis he who caused that destruction. He repents of what he gave us, and so he has practised fraud upon us. My people shall go in pursuit of the cow, says Moling, and Grác will be killed. The more likely, meseems, he will have a long life! says Ruadsech. If, then, it were thy wish to burn him, (this) would be done. The more likely, meseems, that a good fire would be got for him if he should feel cold. Or if it be better to drown him, (this) would be done. The more likely, meseems, that a drink would be got for him if he should be athirst.
Then said the cleric:
- The wife of the wright,
round whom the narrow hut is built,
if vile madness
O great God, may it not be her wealth!
- Ruadsech the red,
O Son of my God, may withering reach her:
for every food which she brings out of an oven
may (her) belly be no bigger than a cod.
- Eight wrights,
and eight women beside them,
eight boys with great duty
Gobbán the wright brought to me.
- Ruadsech . . .
a place in pure heaven
of the man whose wife she is.
Go ye in pursuit of the cattle, says Moling. Grác the marauder, 'tis he that has done yon deed, and he is by the
p.37streampools of the Barrow, with his wife and his child. And he has killed the cow, and is taking her flesh out of the cauldron. And catch ye him, and let him be killed by you; but let not the wife or the child be killed.47
Thereafter Moling's household reached the place where Grác was taking the cow's flesh out of the cauldron. Then Grác flees before the captors, and climbs into the top of a tree. Up in the tree he is wounded, and he fell into the fire. Thence he fell into the Barrow, and therein he was drowned. Now Moling's people after that brought (him) their cow amid her hide, and the cleric then restored her to life, so that she was whole.
Thus then was the cow afterwards, the half of her that had been boiled was brown, and the other half was white. Moling afterwards had the cow, and he gave her not to Ruadsech, and twelve men's fill of milk used to be yielded by her (every day). 'Tis then that Grác's wife, with her child on her back, came to Moling, and was in great grief, asking aid from the cleric. Whereupon Moling said:
- O wife of Grác, that is
heardest thou not that Grác slain?
heardest thou not of his ebbing by fire
and of his drowning by sea?
- O wife of Grác, that is
heardest thou not that Grác was slain?
he will be for ever in hell,
this will be his fate and his due.
- O wife of Grác, that is
heardest thou not that Grác was slain?
the calf48 that is on thy back.
- O wife of Grác, that is
heardest thou not that Grác was slain?
thy husband in hell for a time of days:
his wife will be where he is.
O wife of Grác
So anger and rage came to Gobbán's wife, because the cow was not given again to her. She said that night
p.39to Gobbán that she would never, never lie with him unless Gobbán would make on Moling her award, as the wage of his labour. Thus shall it be done, says Gobbán. The oratory is finished, says she: take no wage other than the full of the oratory of rye-grain. It shall be done, says Gobbán.
Make thine award, says the cleric; for this is what was promised to thee, thine own award. I will award, says he; its fill of rye-grain to be given to me. Invert it, says Moling, and put its mouth upwards, and it shall be filled. So Gobbán applies tackle and apparatus to it, so that the oratory was inverted; and not a plank of it went from its place, and no joining of any plank moved from another.
Then Moling went and sent messengers to the Húi Degha, east and west, to help him with the demand that had been made upon him. Whereupon he said this below:
- Grief seizes me
between the two mountains,
Degha to the east of me,
Degha to the west of me.
- He (Gobbán) has asked of me
the full of a brown oratory,
a demand that is hard for me
of grain of bare rye.
- If he carry away that,
may he not gain a victory!
may it not be malt of a truth!
may it not be seed or dried grain!
- The Húi Degha to benefit me,
let them help me for sake of knowledge,
because this is what is desirable:
here I am in grief.49
'Tis then from east and west the Húi Dega came to him, so that the hill was filled with them. He told them the award that had been made upon him. If we had that (rye), they say, it would be given to thee; but all the corn in Húi Dega is not more than the full of that oratory.
p.41That is true, says Moling; so get ye home to-night, and come to-morrow at rising time; and spare nothing, both corn and nuts and apples and green rushes, so that yon (oratory) may be full.
On the morrow they come, and they fill up the oratory (with the things that Moling had mentioned). The Lord wrought a miracle for Moling, so that nothing else was found therein save bare grain of rye. Wherefore Moling is entitled to that tribute every year from the Húi Dega for ever.
Thereafter Gobbán took away his corn, and thus it was found on the morrow, a heap of maggots!
Through those miracles fame and renown and splendour accrued to Moling; so the Leinstermen gave him headship and honour and counsel, so that it was he who was a high-chief to them all.
There was a meeting between the Leinstermen and the sons of Aed Sláine,50 to wit, Diarmait and Blathmec, to divide a territory between the Leinstermen and the Húi Néill likewise. The Leinstermen said that, in the absence of Moling, they would not mark the bounds of their land. Do ye mark it, say the sons of Aed Sláine, and we will go to meet the cleric alone. Then messengers went to the cleric, and he was told the reason why he had been addressed; and he knew that the sons of Aed Sláine had a plot, for 'tis they that had sent messengers to him. Get ye gone before us, says the cleric to the messengers; and let the meeting take place to-morrow, and let not the kings start at dawn, for it is far from me; and the place in which we shall forgather, let the boundary be fixed there.
The messengers went northward to the place where the sons of Aed Sláine were dwelling, and declare to them the cleric's admonitions. The kings sent ambuscaders against the cleric, and put nine men in every gap51 from Conlón Cinn of Sliab Bladma52 to Ursainn Fintain on the top of the mountain as far as Dublin. And they were told not to shew mercy to the cleric, whichever of them he should reach. Now that was revealed to Moling, and he took an unshapely appearance on himself and on his gillie, and he fared forward on that day till he traversed the whole province, from Teg Moling53 to Tnuthel. They searched Tnuthel, and found no welcome in (any) house there. They enter a certain house there, which was on the outskirts of the town. There was one woman therein, and she makes them welcome. We need it, says the cleric, for we found no welcome in (any) other house in the town. Ye will find it here, says the woman.
The woman brought him a cow's milking which she had earned by needlework: for there was no other food in the house save what she was earning by needlework. Then Moling quaffed a drink out of the cup, and gave it to his gillie, who drank a drink out of it, and not the less were the contents thereof.54 In comes the man of the house and bade them welcome. No food was found for them then save that a horse-steak which was in the house should be put for them into the cauldron. The cleric blessed the house and the cauldron, for he knew that what was therein was the flesh of a horse. Now when the charge in the cauldron was turned, what was there was a quarter of mutton! It was brought before the cleric. He divided it to them so that they were satisfied. After that Moling blessed the household, so that from them thenceforward is the lordship of Leinster.
On the morrow the cleric arose to go to the meeting, and great fear seized him before the kings, so that he put his trust in Saint Brigit and said:
- O Brigit!
ask the help from Christ:
O Brigit of the Curragh,
O Brigit of Codal.
- O Brigit of Codal,
O Brigit of Carman,55
O Brigit help
my body and my soul!
- O Brigit of Munster,
with thee is my cleansing;
O Brigit of Ulster,
O Brigit of Leinster!
- Till Doom be thus
our land in Bregmag,56
our union on earth,
our union in heaven.
- Heavenly health, special love,
welcome with right they extend,
though it be Rome of Latium,
my life, O Brigit!
Thereafter he arrived over rough places and difficulties, and no ambush befell him, till he came out over Fid Cianach in Mag Muagnige and went northward over the Righe.57 In that place he sat down, and Suide Moling (Moling's Seat) is there. The sons of Aed Sláne and their clerics came to the place in which Moling was biding. 'Tis far hither, O cleric, they say, thou hast extended (ro righis) our tryst. Righ Mná Nuadat (Forearm of Nuada's wife)58 has been its name till to-day, and Righe Laigen will be its name in future. And it will henceforward be the boundary of the two countries.
Then he went home, having got the delimitation between Leinster and Húi Néill. Then the Leinstermen brought him a great tribute for the getting of the boundary by them.
Some time after that Finachta son of Dunchad, son of Aed Sláine, assumed the kingship of Ireland. Leinster was then liable to pay Leth Cuinn (the northern half of Ireland) a general tribute, namely, the Leinster Boroma.59 In levying that tribute the Northerners were inflicting violence and hardship on the people of the province.
That was told to Moling, and he was fond of the Leinstermen. He asked the old men and the historians of Leinster whether they had any prophecy or prediction about the removal of that tribute. There is, in truth, they answer; that it will be removed through a cleric. Who knows (says Moling) that this will not be done by me? and why should not I go and ask for its remission?
Moling then came along from the south, and told the kings of the Húi Néill that it was his errand to ask for the remission of the Boroma. That was not pleasing to the Húi Néill, and they all said that no one should rise up before him in the house.60 Then the cleric entered the house and found no rising before him until Murchad son of Airmedach, Domnall's father, rose up before him. Where upon Moling said: Let the lordship be thine and thy seed's for ever. And then Moling sat down and was asking them for the respite.
What is the length of the respite? they say. A year, quoth he. Not so, they answer. Half of it, says he. Nay, they say. Then grant a quarter, saith he. Nay, they say. A respite till Luan, Monday, saith he. It shall be granted, says Finachta.
Then he bound his covenants on Finachta himself and on one of the kings of Bregia, Braen by name, for he was feeble in sickness. And Moling went to him, and prays for him, and he recovers at once.
He afterwards went to Tara, and the doorward did not let him in, for the doorward had been told not to do so. Let me in, says Moling. I cannot, says the doorward, for the king is in grief after his son's death.61 Says Moling, The son has leave to die if God permits it. The boy died at once.
Moling sat down on the flagstone outside, so that it is (now) called Moling's Flag. Assuredly, says everyone, it is Moling that killed the son; so let his own desire be given him if he brings the boy (back) to life.
Then Moling was taken to the boy, and they promised him his complete desire if he would heal the child. The cleric prayed, and the boy at once recovered. Said Moling: Have ye given me a truce till Monday? We have, say they. Tis to Monday of Doomsday, I have bound (you), says Moling. It is not I that will contravene it, says Finachta.
Whereupon Moling said:
Thereafter Moling went away to his home.
- Finachta over the Húi Néill, etc.62
Then Adamnán63 grandson of Tinne, came after him into the assembly, and greatly blamed the Húi Néill (for remitting the tribute), and censured Finachta, saying:
- To-day though he bound (his) locks,
the withered grey toothless king,
the cattle which he remitted to Moling,
reasonable for the champion, he gets not [etc.]64
Then arose the strong, choice household of Tara, and Alusan son of Oengus, their champion and their leader, after Moling to kill him. Swiftly and hurriedly they pursued the cleric to kill him. Fear and great dread seized the cleric at the numerous unknown host, so he entrusted himself to the saints to protect him, and he sang these words:
- O Brigit, bless our way, etc.65
Now when the hosts were overtaking Moling, the saints to whom he had entrusted himself put a dark mist66 between him67 and the host, and they went past him, so that he was in their rear. The hosts halted for some time, until they forgathered in one place, and he went a long way from them. Then they beheld him going towards the ford, so then they let loose their horses against him.
When they were overtaking him, he said to his gillie: What sort of horse is nearest to us now? A white horse, says the gillie. We feared not, says Moling: a white horse, gory rain: what horse is nearest now? A black horse, says the gillie. Black horse, slaughter says Moling: we feared not that. And what horse seest thou now? A dun horse, says the gillie. Dun horse sweaty: 'tis not he that we dreaded. And what horse seest thou now? A chestnut horse, says the gillie. Chestnut horse
? says the cleric: we feared not that. What seest thou now? asks he. A brown horse, says the gillie. That is true, says Moling, a brown horse with the colour of his liver upon him, that is what we dreaded. What sort of a rider? says Moling. A young brown warrior, who is biggest of the world's men, says the gillie. That is Alusan son of Oengus, says the cleric.
The cleric then came over across the ford. There a strong thirst seized the gillie, and he declared that he could not proceed without a drink. The cleric gave a
p.53thrust of his staff into the flagstone, and a stream of water came out of it, so that the gillie quaffed his skinful thereof. And still that water remains in token of the miracle. Thereafter the cleric turned against the hosts, and made prayer, for he had no means of avoiding them. So then he spake these words:
- Pater noster is for me
against all horrid (?) things!
with me be my pater noster
with them be their
- Qui es in caelis, O living God,
to protect me from bale:
from demons with many sins (?)
may sanctificetur protect me!
- Nomen tuum be with me always,
and adueniat be my lasting use,
regnum tuum be with me on an expedition,
and panem nostrum before a journey.
- Cotidianum every day
and da nobis from God,
that He may not leave me behind Him
let us pray dimitte nobis.
- Debita nostra so that I shall reach,
together with sicut et nos
dimittimus with me for weariness,
- To meet me death is seen:
I beseech ne nos inducas
that demons may not take advantage68 of me
I beseech in temptationem.
- Sed libera nos a malo
may my Friend still save me.
When my tale is determined
may I remember amén.
- For beseeching thee, O God of heaven,
for entreating Thee and for praying Thee
may I attain a pure-bright good life
through praying the pater.
- The world's men, whatever their number,
though they all do misdeed,
their credo and their paternoster
protect them thro' pure abundance.
- Mary's intercession with her Son
by his Godhead, by his Manhood,
so that the seven parts of the paternoster
may be clearly attained by me.
- The world's men, whatever their number,
though they all do misdeed,
they all will go to heaven
if they pray their paternosters.
- Not as
not as morning would shine,
not as (is it) with him
who remembers not his paternoster.
Thereafter Alusán son of Oengus came to the cleric, and flung a stone at him so that it went past him, and still
p.55the stone remains, and in it still remain the traces of the warrior's fingers. Then Alusán fell from his horse and died a tragic death. And along with him, through the miracles of God and Moling, there perished a countless number of the host, each of them killing another in the guise of the cleric.69
Moling, however, after that fared forward to his home. There a strong thirst seized him, and he said: I should like to drink the water of the Barrow, but for the blood of the parricide that will be committed round Ross Glaisse. And he said:
- I would drink Barrow's water
up from the midst of my palm,
but for the blood of the parricide
that is committed round Ross Glaisse.
- I would drink Barrow's water,
it would decidedly be my portion,
but for the slaughter to be inflicted therein
by Leinstermen on Ossorians.
- I would drink Barrow's water,
in which shirts are cleansed,
were not yellow dun (things) therein,
that float out of mountain streams.
- I would drink Barrow's water,
it would be my portion without falling,
were it not for the privy of Leighlin
and the impurity of Ussiu.
- A branch of the river Jordan,
which passed over seven seas,
to the north of my oratory's side;
it will be communion for all.
- Whoever went to my leat,70
from every disease it will heal him:
it will be communion, it will be sacrifice
to every one who shall drink it.
'Twere well with me, saith he, to drink my skinful of the water of the Barrow, and though it be well, may there be a coming from my Lord to consecrate it and to hallow my leat; may there be cleansing and consecration and communion and sacrifice to every one who may drink it and perambulate it!
Then he told with diligence his tales and his goings, and continued safeguarding his (spiritual) nutriment.
A madman and a fox (lived with him), also a wren, and a little fly that used to buzz to him when he came from matins, till the wren hopped on it and killed it; and this killing by the wren was displeasing to him, so he cursed the wren, and then he said:
- My fly, etc.
Howbeit, says Moling, but he that marred for me the poor pet that used to be making music for me, let his dwelling be for ever in empty houses, with a wet drip therein continually. And may children and small people be destroying him!71
Howbeit then, but the wren killed the fly. Then the fox killed the wren. The dogs of the steading killed the fox. A cowherd killed the madman, namely, Suibne son of Colmán72
However, Moling was then serving the Lord. His miracles and marvels were wrought. He used to bring the dead to life: he used to heal the blind and lepers and cripples and sufferers from every disease. He used to preach God's word to everyone. An angel of God used to be comforting him and tending him, persuading him to every good thing and hindering every evil. He was a poet, a prophet,73 a knower, a teacher. He was a sage, a psalmist, a priest, a bishop, a soulfriend,74 a noble.
Nobly and honourably he went unto the angelic resting-place,75 with quiring of the household of heaven and with prayer of the household of earth, after fasting, and almsgiving, and prayer, and fulfilment of every good thing, in the eighty-second year of his age.
In Dublin (this) has been copied out of the Book of Timulling. And I leave Moling's miracles, which are in Latin, in charge of the friars Clery, though I myself am a Clery, 15 July, 1628.