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Lower Shannon, as appears from the life of St Carbrach of Lismore,1 but in the year 861, it ceased to be the name of the river and was usually applied to the Danish fortress already referred to, and the city now became known by the designation which before had been exclusively given to that portion of the river between it and the sea, and by which it is called to this day .2 The Danish occupation was ever a source of intense dissatisfaction and commotion. Perpetual war was its result; the invaders, who were everywhere regarded with horror, were no where more detested than in the neighbourhood of the Shannon, of which they endeavoured to monopolise to their exclusive possession. In 884 the Connaught men attacked and destroyed numbers of Danes, But the day was approaching in which the sacrilegious tyrants were destined to meet a decisive check—in which the Irish by their strong arms were to win for a season protection and tranquillity. Cashel had long before embraced the Christian faith, had two of its bishops—viz. Olchobar who died in 851, and Cenfelad, who died in 872, who were kings as well as bishops; and their jurisdiction extended to Emly,a and they were the predecessors of the learned and warlike Cormac, son of Cullenan, who derived from Engusa Nafrach the first son of the king of Cashel who was baptised by St. Patrick.4 The aggressions of the Danes of Limerick had everywhere become so intolerable that Cormac resolved to curb their insolence. To reduce the people to order, to quell their intestine dissensions, to show the results of those insane divisions which even in the time of which we treat, had rendered them feeble when opposed by a united enemy, was the grand aim of Cormac Mac Cullenan, who during the heat of conflicts and troubles ascended the throne of Cashel, in 901, and wore the mitre of the united sees of Cashel and Emly. His example and influence were all-powerful in the achievement of the grand object on which he had set his princely heart.
"Such," says Keating, "was the state of the kingdom when Cormac wore the crown of Munster, that the contests and animosities between the petty princes were happily concluded, insomuch, that the Danes, fearing the effects of this reconciliation, desisted from their usual hostilities. Though the desire of plunder remained and nothing of their savage disposition abated, et they apprehended their lives were in certain danger from the natives, who, y their common union and friendship, were able to drive them out of the kingdom; and therefore a great number of these foreigners retired to their ships of their own accord and bade adieu to the island." We here perceive what one able and wise ruler was enabled to effect for his country.
1 Book of Lismore. * Ware. 'Ware.
4 Annals of the Four Masters.—In the Psalter of Cashel, written by his own hand, Cormac thus proclaims the glories of his Dalcasian troops, who always fought for the Kings of Cashel:—
"May heaven protect the most illustrious tribe
Keating't History of Ireland, VoL II.
And O'Dwgfin, in his poem, says of them: —
•' The Dailgaisian troops, with glory fired.
Bat Cormac was not destined to remain long in the peaceable possession of his rights. Flan, son of Melsechlin, king of Ireland, with a great army invaded Munster, A.D. 906, and destroyed it as far as Limerick; Malachy or Melsechlin, who had been king of Temora, ascended the throne of Ireland, on the death of Hugh, A.D. 879. Cairbhall, son of Muiregan, aided Flan in this expedition: Cormac fled, but the year following, resenting the injuries he had sustained, he entered Meath with his irresistible Dalcassians, overthrew Flan in battle, took pledges from him for the performance of certain articles of agreement, and returned in triumph to Cashel, where he was welcomed by the joyous acclamations of his people, who regarded him as their deliverer from the bondage of domestic as well as foreign enemies.1 The spirit of Plan was unsubdued by the triumph of Cormac's arms; another and a more successful attempt was made by him soon afterwards in 908 to recover the losses he had endured. Confederating with the Kings of Leinster and Connaught, he again invaded Munster with a powerful force. The opposing armies met on the 16th of August on the plains of Moy-Albe; the battle was fierce, sanguinary, and protracted, and resulted in the death of the indomitable King-Bishop Cormac, whose army, losing heart at his fall, were overpowered; and on that fatal day most of the Chiefs or Leaders or Princes were also killed; amongst them are noticed Fogertach of Kerry, and Kellach of Ossory.'
The death of Cormac was speedily followed by further attempts of the Danes to destroy whatever they could lay hands on—to spoliate whatever they could plunder—to wreak vengeance on the holy places in which the monks and religious dwelled, and to show that nothing less than wholesale murder and rapine could satisfy their thirst for blood and booty. Freed from the authority of Cormac, they roamed wherever they pleased, curbed but partially by the native princes, who had again their own intestine feuds to engage them in arms. They now made a successful raid on Clonmacnois, to which they had easy access by the Shannon; they devastated the islands on Lough Ribli, destroyed the shipping of Limerick, and carried away immense quantities of gold, silver, and all manner of riches from the monasteries and shrines in the islands.' They were so daring, in their ruthless prowess, that in 922 they were able to make prisoner of OTlaherty, son of Inmameen, and convey him from the island of Loch Eibh to Limerick.* These plundering expeditions of the Danes were favorite occupations in which they ever and anon indulged during these troubled years of their occupation of Limerick. Proceeding from Limerick, their next attempt was on Lough Orisben, and its islands;1 we should remark, that when Cormac quelled the Danes in Minister, Edward, King of England, conquered them in that country. But in Ireland, their power was growing stronger every year, until the coming of other events which we are quickly approaching, and in which another King of Cashel arose to bring them to subjection. Not content with ravaging the districts bordering on the Shannon, they in 928 encamped in Maiagh Eoigne, a celebrated plain of Ossory; but those who remained on Loch Orisben felt the vengeance of the Connaught men, who, in 930, committed a great slaughter on the Danes.* We find, however, that the latter retaliated sorely. In the fifteenth year of Donmachadhi, the Danes of Limerick plundered Connaught in 932, as far as the plains of Boyle, in the County of Roscommon; in a few years afterwards, Aralt, or Harold, grandson of Imhar, i.e. son of Sitric, lord of the Danes of Limerick, was killed in Connaught by the Caenraigi of Aidhne in 939.'
1 Ware, and Annals of Four Masters.
* Carodacus ShancarvensU (who is quoted by Ware) also says that Cormac was at this time killed by the Danes. Ware adds that he remembers having read in an ancient MS. in the Cottonian Library, that Cormac was killed by a herdsman at Beanree, near Leighlin, while on his knees at prayer, returning thanks to God for the success of his army, which had then been engaged. His body was conveyed to Cashel, and there buried. He was learned particularly in the antiquities of his country. He wrote, in the Irish language, the Psalter of Cashel, which is yet extant, and held in the highest estimation. Ware states that he had some collections from it in an ancient parchment book, called "Psalter Namaan," written 300 years at the time he mentions the fact; and that, in the same book, there were many miscellanies, partly Irish and partly Latin, collected by Angus Celede (Aengus the Culdee), among which there was a bare Catalogue, viz. the names only, of the Kings of Ireland, from Heremon to Brian Boroihme. Our author remarks that Cashel was heretofore the chief seat of the Kings of Munster, and one of the first Synod of Ireland was held there by St. Patrick, St. Albeus, and St. Declan, in the time of King Engusa.— Ware, Keating, Annals of Four Masters, O' Flaherty, fc.
» Annals of the Four Masters, vol. II., p. 609.
4 Annals of Four Masters, vol. IL, p. 611.
From the time of their invasion of Ireland in the year 807, to the years we have reached, the Danes always ravaged the country with fire and sword. They bore a mortal hatred to Christianity and its professors, and their chief glory was in the massacre of the Saints who occupied the monasteries and cells of the country.*
Through these times the page of history is red with details of these atrocities. Victories followed each other on the part of the invaders, until they had the surrounding country under a terrorism and subjection, which the natives could not remove. It was not, however, without earnest and constant efforts and exertions on the part of the Irish princes, to suppress their atrocities, that they were able to persevere. At length in 943, Callachan, King of Cashel, taking a lesson out of the book of his illustrious predecessor, Cormac, called his chiefs together, exhorted them against the Danes, and as no part of Ireland suffered more from their plunders, murders, &c. than Limerick, and the borders of the Shannon, Callachan selected the city of Limerick as the field of battle.8 In the second page of the Wars of Callachan, in the old book of Lismore, where the election of that Prince to succeed to the sovereignty of Munster about A.D. 920, is described, (writes the late Professor (^Curry to the author), there occurs this passage :—
• Lough Corrib, county Galway, Is now the name of the place thus indicated. It appears from O'Flaherty's Ogygia (pp. 178-9) that A.M. 2834, this Lake was called after Orbserius, the son of Allodiua, who had transacted great commercial affairs between Ireland and Britain. These are the words of the Ogygia:—
*• Orbseiius (Filius Alladii, A.M. 2884) mercator erat negotiationibus inter Hibemiam et Brittaniam tractandis insignia; Mananan Mac Lir vulgo dictus: Mananan ob commercium cum Manniu insula, et Mac Lir i. e. mari satus ob nandi, atque urinandi peritiam; quod portuum quoque discriminn apprime calleret; an aerite praescius vicisitudinis a tempestatibus psocaveret. Succubuit vero in prselio apud Moycullen in marginc spaciosi lacus Orbsen, qui per Galvium fluvium in sinum Galvorensum exoneratur ab Ulliuno Nuadi regis Hihernise per Thadseum filium nepote confossus. Pugnas laco L'llinus laco Orbsenius nomen indidit; de his ita Flannus a Monasterio—O'Flaherty's Ogygia pp. 179—8.
8 Annals of Clonmacnois, quoted in O'Donovan's Annals of the Four Masters.
8 A Sept seated in the Barony of Kiltartuin, county of Galway. This fact is mentioned in another way, but to the same effect:—'• Harold O'Hynn, King of the Danes of Lymbrick, was killed in Connaught at Eatherney."—Annals of th» Four Masters.
4 Saxn Grammaticus says that Tridelth Froths, and Haco Diinos, invested Ireland many years before this time; and Turgesius, it is certain, not only subdued the greater part of Ulster, but expelled Faranan, Archbishop of Armagh, together with all the religious and students. Those moats and raths which are yet seen in many parts of the country, and no where, that we are aware of, in such great numbers as in the Parish of Kilmealy, county of Clare, and one of which of great extent and beauty is on the estate of Charles Bianconi, Ksq. D.L., Longfield, Co. Tipperary, at Ardmayle, near his residence, are said to have been raised by Turgesius and his followers, as fortifications, and in some instances, as sepulchres for their great men and captains. Worming states that this was the customary way of burying the chiefs among the Danes.— Wormiu* !)■ Danit Momnntntis. Wart, p. 57.
8 "Callachan, King of South Munster. assembling his chiefs, exhorted them to arm everywhere against the Danes, whereupon Limerick was selected for their first attack. A thousand of his chosen followers marched upon this service, headed by Callachan, under whom were O'Donovan, O'Sullivan, 0 Keeffe, O'Reardan, O'Landecan, Hugh Mac Cullman, and other chiefs."
"It was then arose the seventeen tribes (of the Eugenians) gracefully and readily to inaugurate Ceallachan *****
"The best of those nobles were the tall graceful Sullivan, at the head of the festive race of Fingham; and the accomplished (in arms) Reardon, at the head of the brave Clann Bonnohaile; and the valiant Caeleighe; and the heroic champion Laindecak; and the brilliant Daineachaidh; and the brave Cullen; and the lucky Ecertach; and the sound active Ligan." It was immediately after this inauguration that the King took his resolution to meet the Danes; Heralds were sent out requiring them to surrender Limerick, and give hostages for their future good behaviour: the reply of those marauders, however, was, "that so far from waiting to be attacked, they would march out of the city to give open battle." They were as good as their word. In four divisions they accordingly marched out of the city. Each of the divisions had four hundred men armed with coats of mail, besides light armed troops, and Singland was the ground on which the memorable battle was fought—Singland, which we shall see as we proceed, was the place on which other memorable engagements were decided in long ages afterwards. CSullivan, who acted as General, under Callaghan, harangued his men in an animated speech, which was answered with a clash of shields and swords by his soldiers. The fight commenced by a discharge of stones from the slings of the troops, by flights of arrows, spears and lances. The heavy armed troops then engaged breast to breast in a dreadful contest, while the Danes left nothing undone to prevent this furious onslaught of the army of the King of South Munster, from making an impression on their troops. Callaghan, at length, singled out Amlav (Auliff) the Danish commander, and by one stroke of his sword split helmet and skull, and laid him dead at his feet. (ySullivan followed the bright example and engaged Moran, who was called son to the King of Denmark, and by a well aimed stroke between the helmet and breast-plate, cut off his head; O'Keeffe ran Magnus, the standardbearer, through the body; and after a gallant defence Louchlin was killed by (XRiordan. The Danes now gave way on every side, and the Irish pursued them into the city, putting numbers of them to the sword in their castles and houses. But instead of keeping possession of the city .Callachan was content with exacting large contributions from the Danes, part of which was paid down in gold and merchandise, and hostages taken as security for the remainder. "This success," says Keating, "gave new life to the prospects of the Irish."1
After this battle Callachan marched towards Cashel, and plundered the country, meeting five hundred Danes he put them to the sword. But this victory on the part of Callachan did not quell them sufficiently. Mahon, the son of Cennediegh, upon the assassination of Feargna, seized the throne of Munster, and reigned twelve years. Resolving to give the Danes no peace, he with his brother Bryan, gave them battle at Sulchoid, now solo- head, in the county of Tipperary, in which bloody engagement two thousand Danes were killed on the spot, with their principal commanders, who were Teitel, a person of great strength, and Governor of Waterford; Runan, Governor of Cork; Muris, Governor of Limerick; Bernard and Toroll. The remains of the Danish army retreated to Limerick, where the Irish soldiers pursued them, and entering the city with them, made a terrible slaughter. "The victors pursued the flying enemy into the city of Limerick, and chased them through the streets, and into the houses, where they were slain without mercy or quarter. The plunder of the city was bestowed upon the soldiers by Mahon, where they found an immense booty of gold, jewels, furniture, and silver to an immense value. After they had rifled the houses they set them on fire, they burned the fortifications, demolished the walls, and perfectly dismantled the city and made it incapable of defence."1 This was one of the greatest battles in the ancient annals of Ireland.
1 This event, or something like it, is thus mentioned by the Four Masters, under A.d. 945, "A battle between the birds of the sea and the birds of the land at Luimneach." (vol. ii. d. 667). The birds of the sea are obviously the pirate Danes.
THE REIGN AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF BRIAN BOROIMHE.
We now come to a most important and eventful period of our history, in which one of the greatest of Ireland's Kings and warriors makes his appearance.
In A.D. 969, says the Annalist, "The Foreigners of Limerick were driven from Inis-Sibtond,* (now the King's Island), by the son of Ceinneidigh ;"* he adds in a separate paragraph that in this year "two suns of equal size were seen at high noon." Undoubtedly this was one of those optical illusions or mirages, which science now clearly explains. Some years subsequently, according to the Four Masters, (Keating makes the event ten years earlier), O'Brien, the son of Kennedy, King of Munster, besieged Limerick, which continued to be inhabited by the Danes; his troops were victorious; he set fire to the city. He also engaged the Danes of Inis-Cailthe, whom he defeated with the loss of eight hundred killed, and Imohair (Humpiry), and Dubhgeann, their principal commanders, were taken prisoners.s In this latter year " an army, which was led by Domnhall, son of Dubhdabhoireann, to Limerick, the two sons of Brian, namely, Donchda and Fadgh, met them, and a battle was fought, wherein the people of the south of Ireland were defeated, and Domhnall fell and numbers along with him."4 The Danes, during a portion of this time, were reduced to the greatest extremities; but at intervals they recruited their strength and retaliated severely on the Irish. There was no Prince in the Island who opposed their insults more than Brian Borohnhe.
"The Glories of Brian the Brave," must be ever heard throughout the island with thrilling sensations of delight and satisfaction. This glorious monarch, whose wisdom and energy are famed in history, and whose career
1 Keating. 'Annals of Four Masters, Vol. II. p. G9B. * Keating'* History of Ireland. * Annals of Four Masters, vol. II. p. 5*8.