- Cormac mac Airt "son of Art", aka Cormac úa Cuinn "(grandchild) of Conn" [Ir.]
- Legendary high king of Ireland at Tara. Reigned 227 ~ 266 according to the annals.
See under ⇒Cormac mac Airt
- (1) Tract in the Brehon Laws (Book of Acill)
the "Blood-spotted" (O'Curry ed. tr. Anc. Laws of Ir. III, p.82 tr. p.83,5 =
"Brehon Laws from Lebor Aicle "Book of Aicill" C.893 = TCD MS 1433 (olim E. 3. 5.), p.21?)*1
- [etymology: (1) "blood-spotted" ? < cru "blood, gore" +
Strangely enough, in the footnote, O'Curry glosses the name as "ornamented spear"
(Anc. Laws of Ir. III, p.82 n4). But in other publications, he calls it "bloody spear"
(O'Curry, MS. materials, p.48)*1a, (O'Curry, Manners and Customs, ii. p.326
- (2) Coecad Cormac i Temraig "Blinding of Cormac in Tara" (in TCD H.3.17)
= version h of the Expulsion of the Dessi
- "Crimall of Birnbuadach"
(summarized by Hennesey, in Mesca Ulad, p.xiv; TCD MS 1336 (olim MS H 3.17), col. 723.)
- (3) T. F. O'Rahilly, EIHM
- in crimall Birn Buadaig "the crimall of Bern Buadach"
(O'Rahilly, EIHM, p. 65) *3
- Alleged name of the spear of Cormac mac Airt,
which blinded his eye.
The entailing tale (Expulsion of the Déis) is found in a numerous redactions,
and the incident noted in many annals, but this ascribed name of the spear is only recorded
in a couple of tracts surviving two manuscripts on law.
According to the version in the "Brehon Laws", a member of the Dessi tribe (clan, sept),
whose name was Angus committed a violent outrage against the high-king Cormac
with the king's own spear, for which deed he became known as Angus of the terrible spear.
Dissenting versions of the tale say it was Angus's own terrible spear of his namesake
that was used in the outrage, and the spear is said to have had chains attached.
<+When the vengeful Angus came up and struck the Cormac's prince with the spear,
an attached chain destroyed one of Cormac's eye, and in some recensions, the butt of the spear killed the
king's cup-bearer/steward in recoil.
The chain(s) were attached to the lance by the comla "valve" or
croumlaib (=? crom "crooked" + lúb "loop, ring") (Laud MS.), which Meyer cannot identify with certainty, though he thinks it might be a ring
that is allowed to pivot or rotate.
Also, the property of the chain seems to be that it would demand the sacrifice of a man when taken
out, i.e., it had the property similar to a cursed sword that always caused a death once unsheathed.
But other scribes (MS. H.2.15 [now TCD MS 1316]) understood each chain merely to be so heavy or long (?)
that it required three men to carry.
- § Is Crimall the same as Luin Celtchair and Lugh's spear?
A certain passage recapped in brief by Hennessey *2 purports that
"the 'Crimall of Birnbuadach' in the time of Cormac Mac Airt" was
"known by the name of ibar alai fhidbaidha ('the famous yew of the wood,'..) in the time of
Lug son of Eithliu, a chief of the Tuatha de Danann; whilst it was called the 'Luin of Celtchair'
in the time of Conor Mac Nessa".
[* The "Birnbuadach" whom Henessey mentions above is quite obviously "bir n-buadach"
i.e., a mere rephrasing of gae buadach, i.e., the nickname of Aengus of the Dessi.]
Aside from Hennessey's mention (fully quoted below), this passage remains unedited
(according to some contributor to the wiki article on Luin of Celtchar).
However Hennessey identifies the source and location of the passage as TCD H.3.17, col. 723.
This means it must have be an immediate postscript to the redaction of Expulsion of the Dessi that
Kuno Meyer called the "h" text, taken from TCD MS. H.3.17 (now TCD 1336).
Even though Meyer footnoted scribal discrepancies from the h text,
he did not see fit to print this paragraph.
The equivalence of Crimall with Luin Celtachair and
Lugh's spear has also been noted by Sullivan in *2a and by
- [SPEAR USED BY:]
- (1) Book of Aicill (supplementing lost portions of Brehon Laws)
Aengus Gabuaidech (Lebor Aicle [Book of Aicill]
= TCD ms. E.3.5, now TCD 1433) [Ir.],
Aenghus Gab[h]uaidech (tr. of Book of Aicill)*1 [E.];
[* búadach "victorious".
The English translation in Anc. Laws of Ir. keeps an "h", O' Curry's MS Materials, 48 loses an "h".].
Aengus Gai-Buaifech (Lebor Aicle frag.,
R.I.A. ms. 35.5) [Ir.],
"of the poisoned spear" (ib., footnoted by O'Curry in the printed edition in Anc. Laws)*1
[* <? búafad "act of boasting, vaunting (DIL)"? seems the closest word, however,
Lebor na hUidre contains this gloss:"Óengus Gai buafnech .i. gai nemnech" ]
[* Also: Ængus Gae-buaifnech, Ængus "of the Poisoned Spear" (O'Curry, Manners and Customs II. p. 205 and also Sullivan in the
preface, p. ccccxxxi, note 758), and "Gai Barabrech" in O'Curry's "Children of Tuireann," note 147.
- (2) Expulsion of the Dessi
Oengus, Hoengus Gæbuaibthech
(Meyer ed., "The Expulsion of the Dessi" Rawl. B 502) [Ir.],
Oengus, Oengus of the Dread Lance*2 (ib., tr. Kuno Meyer) [E.];
[* búaibthech "boastful, arrogant(DIL)".]
[* Meyer's Irish hardly matches his translation. He has likely reconstrued *2a the Irish nickname after such readings as "aonghus Gaibh-uaithbheach" (see examples below) ].
Aengus gaibuaibtheach, gaibuaibteach
(ms. H, Meyer ed., Tucait indarba na nDéssi,
= TCD 1317 olim H.2.15, pp.67a-68b.,
Anecdd. i, p.15,24)
var. Aengus buaifteach
(ms. h, Meyer ed., op.cit., p.24n = TCD 1336 olim H.3.17, col.723a)
(Meyer ed., "The Expulsion of the Déssi" [De causis torche na nDéisi innso],
Laud 610 ms.)*4
Óengus Gai buafnech [.i. gai nemnech]
"Óengus Gaíbúaibthech, that is a virulent spear"
small>(Hull ed. tr.,"Expulsion Of The Déssi" in Lebor na hUidre])
- (3) Four Masters
h-Aengus Gaibhuaibhtheach, mac Fiachach Suighdhe [Ir.],
Aenghus Gaibhuaibhtheach, son of Fiacha Suighdhe
(O'Donovan ed. Annals of the Four Masters, Anno M265.2)*6 ,
(tr. of Annals) [E.];
aonghus Gaibh-uaithbheach Angus of the terrible spear
(Standish Hayes (?), Annals of the Four Masters appendixed in Diarmuid Oss. Soc. III)
- [úathbáas, uathbháth "horror, terror",
>úathach "horrible, dreadful:"]
- (4) History of the Cemeteries
[OIr.], Engus Gaibhuaiphnech [E.] (Senchas na Relic (History of the Cemeteries), from LU,
ed. tr. Petrie TRIA)
[* In Hist. of Cemetary, here it says that in the second year after the eye injury,
he died from a salmon bone stuck in his throat.]
- (5) Brian Boru Poem
Óengus dárb ainm Gai Bolce
"Oengus.. also called Gaí Bulga"
(anonymous poem dealing with the Bórama, (LL 375 f.), cited by O'Rahilly, EIHM, p. 64) *6
- (*) Other
Angus "of the terrible spear" (Mackillop's Dict.)
[etymology: gáe [OIr.] "spear" +
búadach "victorious" [OIr.]/
búaibthech "boastful, arrogant, threatening (DIL)" [OIr.]
Unable to confirm bua[i]fnech= "poisonous"??
This is probably based on LU text "Óengus Gai buafnech .i. gai nemnech"
which led O'Curry to conclude buafnech = nemnech "poisonous"]
- The name and nickname of Cormac's abovementioned assailant.
*1 O'Curry ed., Anc. Laws of Ir. III, p.83-5
*1a O'Curry, Eugene, ed.
MS. Materials (1861) p.48
*1b Manners and Customs (1873),
Hennessy, William. M., ed., "Mesca Ulad; or, the Intoxication of the Ultonians"
Todd Lecture Series 1 (Dublin 1889), introduction, p.xiv
W. K. Sullivan (William Kirby, 1821-1890) in his introductory volume to O'Curry, On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, vol. I, ccccxxxii notes (1871; reprint 1971).
The remark occurs in the long footnote attached to his description of Dubthach's spear (see under the spear's alias name, the Luin Celtchair, where a the whole footnote will be quoted).
Arthur C. L. Brown, "The Bleeding Lance", Publications of the Modern Language Association
[PMLA] XXV, 1 (1920), 23, 23n, 42, 53.
*3 O'Rahilly, Early Irish History and Mythology, p. 65
----- User of Spear ------
op. cit. p.82, n4 says:
The first form of the nickname is from the primary copy of the Book of Aicill, manuscript E. 3. 5 at Trinity College Dublin. The second form is taken from a collection of fragments, manuscript
35.5 at R.I.A., and "C 893" means p. 893 of O'Curry's transcription of it (as explained in p. clxviii align=middle hspace=4 border=no>).
The first form of the nickname contains buaidech, close to OIr adj. búadach "victorious" (cf. buaid = "victory" and buaidred "disturbance" in glossary, Vol.6, p.113).
As for the second, variant nickname buaifech this according to O'Curry means "poisonous" but this may be a hazarded guess, based on the LU text (q.v.).
Meyer, Kuno, ed., tr.,"The Expulsion of the Dessi" in Y Cymmrodor 14 (1901), 101-135
[From Bodleian Library, Rawlinson 502 (example of the older version A,
which include Rawl. 502, 512 and Laud 610 f. 99b2-)]
Meyer has emended the adjective in the nickname to → úathbásach, úathach [OIr.] "dreadful, horrible" or adúath [OIr.] "dread, horror".
Kuno Meyer, ed., Tucait indarba na nDéssi, in :
Anecdota from Irish Manuscripts, vol. i., pp.15-24
[Base text H.2.15, pp.67a-68b. (H),
with footnoted readings from H.3.17, col. 720b-723a (h); (Version B)]
Kuno Meyer ed., "The Expulsion of the Déssi" in Ériu 3 (1908), 135-142
[From Bodleian Lib., Laud 610, fo. 99b2-102a2.]
Vernam Hull, "Expulsion Of The Déssi" ZCP 57.
Note that in Hull's reading of the Irish text, the adjective is similar to buafnech which O'Curry has rendered as meaning "poisonous".
Whereas in translation part, Hull emended the adjective to búaibthech (OIr. "boastful" (cf. adj. búafad "boasting"), probably taken from the spelling form in the Four Masters.
O'Donovan ed., tr., Annals of the Four masters 57; quoted below.
Hayes, Standish, ed., tr., Pursuit after Diarmuid.. in Ossianic Society volume 3 (Dublin: John O'Daly 1857).
This book, as explained below, is also a source for a late version of Echtra Cormaic in which Cormac's branch and cup is told.
Hayes' quote from the "Annals" will be given under the "Annals of the Four Masters" section below.
Petrie ed., tr., Senchas na Relic (History of the Cemeteries) in
Transac. R.I.A. 20, p.97-
T. F. O'Rahilly, op.cit.
§ Book of Aicill (10c.?), allegedly by Cormac (reigned 227-266AD accord. to the Annals)
The tale is to be found in a collection of laws and customs called the "brehon laws", but not in the work called the Senchas Mór
, the "Great Tradition," but rather in the Lebor Aicle
, "The Book of Aicill."
It is explained that the Book's name is taken from the place where it was composed, namely Aicill (now the hill of Skreen) near Tara, and that the author was Cormac
(so his own rulings are to be recorded in the book), and what occasioned these judicial records being set down in writing by Cormac was his abdication. For he was blinded in one eye by Aengus Gab[h]uaidech
, and as Irish law forbade anyone with a blemish from ruling, he had to abdicate to his surviving son Coirpre.
The book goes on to narrate how the blinding happened. The premise is that a son of Cormac had abuducted a daughter in the family, and Aengus set out in vengeance:
acht do ċuaid reime do indsaigid
na Temraċ ocus iar fuineḋ ngreine ro siacht
co Temraig. Ocus geis do Temraig airm laich do
breith indte iar fumed ngreine, aċt na hairm do
ecmaitís indte [budein]. Ocus ro gab Aengus in
crimall Cormaic anuas da healċaing, ocus tuc
buille di a Cellaċ mac Cormaic, cor marbustar
he; cor ben a heochair dar suil Cormaic co ro
leṫ ċaech hé; ocus ro ben a hurlunn a ndruim
rechtaire na temrach aca tarraing a Cellaċ, co ro
marbustar he. Ocus ba geis rig co namim do biṫ a
—Ancient Laws of Ireland
III, "lebar aicle"p.82
.. but he [Aengus] went forward towards Temhair and reached Temhair after sunset.
And it was a prohibitied thing at Temhair to bring a hero's arms into it after
sunset; so no arms could be there except the arms
which happened to be within itself. And Aengus
took the ornamented spear of Cormac down from
its rack, and gave Cellach son of Cormac a blow of
it, and killed him; and its edge grazed one of Cormac's
eyes and destroyed it. and in drawing it
back out of Cellach its handle struck the chief of
the king's household of Temhair in the back and
killed him. And it was a prohibited thing that one with a blemish
should be king at Temair.
—"Book of Aicill", tr. p.83,
Though Cormac retired, he was often consulted by his son regarding the exemptions to the rules and their dialogues are, it is said, what is recorded in this book.
The laws did not stipulate what eric
shoud be imposed for such a great offense as this, and where no law existed, "the right of each is according to his strength," that is to say, the offended party, the royal family in this case could name whatever compensetory penalty that seemed befitting to their stature. Consequently Aengus's tribesmen were banished to the South, to become the Deisi.
Eugene O'Curry, one of the editors of the text, refers to the incident in Anc. mss.*2
, but interprets the meaning of Crimall to be "bloody spear".
*1 Ancient Laws of Ireland: Senchus Mor (conclusion) being the Corus Bescna or Customary Law and the Book of Aicill, (Dublin : Printed for H.M.S.O., published by A. Thom ; London : Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1865-1901.), vol.3 (of 6 vol.),
[edited by O'Donovan, John, 1809-1861, O'Curry, Eugene, 1796-1862, et al.] [books.google]
*1aIbid., Glossary, vol. 6, p.189,
"Crimall, ornamented spear; III. 82, 17 [cf. H. 3, 18, p.67] crumall i.e. faobar]"
*2 O'Curry, Eugene, Lectures on the manuscript materials of Ancient Irish History, p.47-48
§ Tract in TCD MS. 1336 (olim H 3.17), col. 723
This is a very tantalizing passage which equates the Crimall that injured Cormac with
the spear of Lugh and with the Luin of Celtachar.
However, the original text of this apparently never been published (according to a
contributor to the wiki page on Luin), although a bit of it was excerpted in English
by Henessey in his introduction (to Mesca Ulaid
"Not less curious is the account given at pp. 37, 39, of the
terrible weapon called the Luin (or spear) of Celtchair, who is
mentioned at p. 33 as one of the chief actors in the midnight
tumult of the Ulidian bands. This Luin is the most celebrated
of the warlike weapons alluded to in Irish stories, historical or
legendary. It is referred to in the Brudin da Derga [Leb. na
h-Uidre, 95, b), where it is stated to have been found in the
battle of Mag Tured : signifying, in other words, that it had
belonged to some chief of the mythic Tuatha-de-Danann race.
From that remote period to the time of Cormac Mac Airt, in
the 3rd century of our era, the Luin is reported to have been in
the possession of successive heroes, under various names. Ac-
cording to a Tract in the ms. H. 3. 17 (T. C. D.), col. 723, the
formidable weapon is said to have been known by the name of
ibar alai fhidbaidha (" the famous yew of the wood," in allu-
sion, perhaps, to its haft) in the time of Lug son of Eithliu, a
chief of the Tuatha deDanann ; whilst it was called the ' Luin of
Celtchair ' in the time of Conor Mac Nessa, and the ' Crimall of
Bimbuadach ' in the time of Cormac Mac Airt, who was blinded
by a thrust of it, and therefore disqualified for the kingship of
Ireland. In the account of the blinding of King Cormac, in
Leb. na h-Uidre (p. 53), the spear by which he was blinded is
named a gai buafnech, or " poisonous spear." But a comparison
of the accounts of this event leads to the conclusion that the Luin
of Celtchair was really the weapon which, in the hands of
Aengus, is alleged to have done the mischief.
Hennessey, introduction, p.xiv, Mesca Ulad
in Todd Lecture Series
- § Regarding this tract and manuscript
- The manuscript in question, TCD 1336 (olim H. 3. 17) is entitled
"Brehon Laws and Miscellanea" in the Catalogue *2,
and thus is legal-minded in nature, as is the other source, the Lebar Aicill, which also contained a lost portion of the
The Catalogue gives this description: "Col. 720. Account of the blinding of Cormac Mac Airt,
monarch of Ireland, by Aengus Gai Buaibhtheach, i.e. Aengus of the Poisonous Dart:
... This is followed by an account of the poisonous dart itself, and the expulsion of the Dessi:
see No. 1316, p. 67a (and other references)", with the underlined portion probably describing the section in question.
Now Kuno Meyer is one person who might have almosted edited that very tract. He published three texts of
the Expulsion of the Déssi, of which, the one he editied in Anecdd. I, 15 *3
was a collation with the TCD H. 3. 17.
Unfortunately, he chose the version entitled Tucait indarba na nDéssi "Expulsion of the Dessi"
from H. 2. 15 as his primary text, and he only used the version entitled
Coecad Cormac i Temraig "Blinding of Cormac in Tara"*4 from H. 3. 17 for secondary readings, which he footnoted.
And readings actually extend to col. 723 (!), he did not see fit to extend his footnoting
just a little bit more to include the description of the spear itself (!!) *5.
Tract in the ms. H. 3.17. [now ms. 1336], col. 723, quoted in
Mesca Ulad: or, the Intoxication of the Ultonians [Todd Lecture Series I
(Dublin 1889, pp. XVI + 58)
Catalogue of the Irish manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (1921)
Kuno Meyer ed., Tucait indarba na nDéssi, in Anecdota from Irish Manuscripts, vol. i., pp.15-24
[Base text TCD MS 1316 (olim H. 2.15a), pp.67a-68b. (H),
with footnoted readings from TCD MS 1336 (olim H. 3.17), col. 720b-723a (h); (Version B)]
This title is not given in the Catalogue. It was noted in the wiki article on Luin, and
was confirmed in Arbois de Jubainville, Essai d'un catalogue,
TCD Library's Multimedia Resource Area,
Berkeley Library houses a microfilm copy. The
Online Catalog (Stella Search)
will yield the record
for "Brehon law tracts and miscellanea. [microform]" (TCD MS 1336/1-6) (Berkeley Multimedia, Counter Reserve,
shelfmark MS MF 548)
Irish Script On Screen does not have any leaves from
this manuscript on view, as of this writing.
As a sidenote, the next item in the catalogue, still on Col. 724 is a "Short poem on the history of Cashel,
beginning: Caisil atcondarc ané. A search of this phrase turns this article which discusses
it: John Mac Neill, "Early Irish Population-Groups: Their Nomenclature, Classification, and Chronology,"
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature
Vol. 29, (1911/1912), pp. 59-114 [JSTOR]
§ Rawlinson B. 502 "Expulsion of the Dessi" (11-12 c.).
This version which Meyer calls "A" is the one considers to be of older pedigree
than the version in the Book of the Dun Cow and others (and which he terms "B").
The family of Cormac, king of Ireland did offense to the tribe eventually be to
be known as the Dessi when they were put to exile.
And the offense was this: Conn, son of Cormac abducted the daughter of Forad and raped her.
Thus Oengus (of the Dessi) set out in search of the girl who was his niece.
1. Cethri maic batar la Harttchorb mac Meschuirb .i.
Brecc 7 Oengus 7 Eochuid 7 Forad. Forad dano, mac
side cumaile 7 ni ragaib thir, 7 is he ba siniu dib. Nert
coecat immurgu la Hoengus. |
2. Bæ dano mac tét la rig Temrach .i. Conn mac
Corbmaic. Gabais laim ingine Foraid .i. Forach a
[h]ainm 7 fordoscarastar. Forumai Oengus for a hiarair
na hingine, co luid hi Temraig. Ni tharraid gabail na
slabrad batar ar comlaid na slige; ar ba hécen fer cechtar
a da slabrad side dogres. Conḟacca a chomalta for dheis
maic ind rig. 'Ni maculammar in clemnas nua sin,' ar
Oengus. Friscair mac ind rig: 'Daimthi dail cuind
dam-sa! Archena déma-su cen co dama-su.' 'Nocon
ḟodem cetumus,' ar Oengus. Atróeraid Oengus [d]in
tsleig triit. Bi dano indala slabrad suil ind rig, co
roemaid ina chind. Intan dosreng in sleig adochum,
rodbi fochoir na sleigi triasin deogbaire, conid se conapaid
prius. Is arna slabradaib tra ba Hoengus Gæbuaibthech a
"Tairired na n Déssi" (title in Rawl. B. 502, fol. 72 a ~ 73a)
"De causis torche na nDéssi .i. acuis toirge na nDéssi." (title in Laud. 610, fol. 99b ~ 102a
1. Artchorp son of Messchorp had four sons, to wit,
Brecc and Oengus and Eochuid and Forad. Forad,
however, was the son of a bondmaid and did not get any
land, and he was the eldest of them. Oengus had the
strength of fifty men. |
2. Now the King of Tara had a wanton son, to wit,
Conn mac Cormaic, who forcibly seized the daughter of
Forad — Forach was her name — and ravished her. Then
Oengus set out in search of the girl and went to Tara. He
did not secure the chains which were on the . . . of the
lance; for a man was needed for each of these two chains
of his always. He saw his fosterchild sitting at the right
hand of the King's son. 'We have not heard of this new
alliance,' said Oengus. The King's son answered: 'Grant
me the respite of a grown-up person! In any case, thou
wilt have to bear it , thou thou do not grant it.' 'To
begin with, I will not bear it !' said Oengus and ran the
lance through him. Then one of the two chains struck the
eye of the King, so that it broke in his head; and when he
pulled the lance back, its butt end [* O'Curry "heel-blade"??] struck the cup-bearer and
passed through him so that he died the first.' It was from
the chains that his name was Oengus of the Dread lance.
Kuno Meyer ed., "Wanderings of the Dessi" in Y Cymmrodor XIV, pp. 101-135.
From Bodleian Library, Rawlinson 502, 512 and Landsdown 610 f. 99b2 mss.
Meyer remarks: "This lance reminds one of Maelodran's lance, the ⇒Carr Belaig Durgin, which killed of its own accord, or when moved by a demon. See Hibernica Minora, p.81" -- Cymmrodor XIV p.105 notes). Cf. .
§ Lebor na hUidre [Book of the Dun Cow], "Exile of the Dessi" (<1106)
In the story of the banishment of the Déssi in the LU, the relevant passage is as follows:
CID dia tá cóechad Cormaic hi Temraig Ni handsa fer amnas
ro boí dona Déssib Maigi Breg .i. Óengus Gai buafnech
.i. gai nemnech co slabradaib. Teóra slabrada esti triar for
cech slabraid. Is airi atberthe Oengus Gai buafnech de .i.
dígail gres ceneoil dogníd .i. bale i ndénta fingal l^ etualand
d'immirt for fannaib ní anedsom so n-indechad. Ruc Cellach
mac Cormaic ingin a brátharsom .i. Forrach ingen Soraith .i. meic Artcoirb |
—Lebor na hUidre
, Part 21
"Tucait innarba na nDessi i mMumain ins & aided Chormaic", 4337-4343
1. Why was Cormac partially blinded in Tara? It is not difficult [to relate].
There was a fierce man of the Déssi of Mag Breg, namely Óengus Gaíbúaibthech, that is a virulent spear with chains. On it [were] three chains [with] three persons on each chain; it is on this account he used to be called Óengus Gaíbúaibthech, namely he used to take vengeance for family insults; that is, wherever murder of kindred used to be committed or intolerable oppression used to be inflicted on helpless individuals he would not desist until he achieved revenge.
Perhaps it is from the above passage that O'Curry derives his conviction that buaifnech
means "poisoned, venomous".
For the above passage, which, when rendered differently from Hull migh read:
"There was a man.. named Oengus Gai buafnech, which was a poison spear (gai nemnech
) with chains".
There is strange semantics at work here which may throw the reader.
But with some measure of diligence, the reader will readily see that one cannot
necessarily infer buafnech
"poisonous" based on the passage given.
*1 Lebor na hUidre (online at CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts).
*1aVernam Hull. "Expulsion Of The Déssi." Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie. vol. 57. Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1957. (online at Mary Jones' Celtic Literature Collective)
§ Annals of the Four Masters [Annála Ríoghachta Éireann] (1632-6)
The entry for the year 265 A.D. when Cormac's reign was caused to be ended:
A naoi triocha do Chorbmac.
Guin Ceallaigh, mic Chorbmaic, & rēchtaire Chorbmaic, & súil Chorbmaic budhēin do bhrisēdh d'aen-fhorccom la h-Aengus Gaibhuaibhtheach, mac Fiachach Suighdhe, mic Fēidhlimidh Reachtadha. Ro bhris iaramh Corbmac seacht c-catha forsna Déisibh a c-cionaidh an ghniomha-sin, go ros-tafainn ó a t-tír, conus filid h-i Mumhain.
—text Annála Ríoghachta Éireann
, Part I
The thirty-ninth year of Cormac.
Ceallach, son of Cormac, and Cormac's lawgiver, were mortally wounded,
and the eye of Cormac himself was destroyed with one thrust of a lance by
Aenghus Gaibhuaibhtheach, son of Fiacha Suighdhe, son of Feidhlimidh the
Lawgiver. Cormac afterwards fought and gained seven battles over the Deisi,
in revenge of that deed, and he expelled them from their territory, so that
they are now in Munster.
—tr., Annals of the Four MastersPart I
Note that this account does not that a spear as such was used (that it was a "lance
" is interpolated by the translator, and is set in italics.)
Reading on, the Annals say that Cormac died in the year following due to salmon bone stuck to his throat,
which was caused by a siabhradh
, or a type malevolent elf dispatched by the druid Maelgenn, after he learned Cormac was flirting with Christianity.
Annals of the Four Masters, which can be consulted online at the CELT corpus.
*2 O'Grady, Standish Hayes ed., The Pursuit After Diarmuid .., op. cit. (1857), endnotes, p.301 "It is stated in the Annals that in the thirty-ninth year of Cormac's reign, his son Ceallach and also his lawgiver were mortally wounded, and the eye of Cormac himself put out with one thrust of a lance, by
aonghus Gaibh-uaithbheach (i.e. Angus of the terrible spear) of the tribe of the Deisi Teamhrach. Hence Cormac, having gained seven battles over them, expelled them into Munster.. Cormac obtained the cognomen of Ulfhada, because, after his victories of the Ultonians at the battles of Granard, Struithair, and Crionna fregabhail, he banished numbers of them to the Isle of Man and to the Hebrides"
§ Arthur C. L. Brown, "The Bleeding Lance"
Brown's article assembles together much of the lore around Crimall, and an acknowledgment of debt should be made.
And Brown, like O'Curry and his editor Sullivan argues for the identiy of ⇒Luin Celtchair
Perpetual bleeding is not mentioned in the above accounts among the marvellous properties of the
LUIN, although if it were continually dipped in a caldron of blood it might well be described as " bloody." It seems to be identical with the marvellous spear of King Cormac, which was called the Crimall or " Bloody Spear." 1 Perhaps therefore bleeding was in Irish tradition an attribute of the LUIN.2
1 Hennesy makes the identification, Mesca Ulad, R. I. A. Todd Lecture Series, I, part 1, pp. xiv-xvi. O'Curry translates Crimall, "Bloody Spear," MS. Materials, p. 48. This meaning is confirmed by a passage in LL. 107a8, which gives the name of Cormac's wonderful shield, Croda Cormaic. Stokes translates this "Bloody ( shield ) of Cormac," see Ériu, iv, 29 and 35.
2 Later Irish tales call the LUIN "a red spear". The description of the marvellous weapons brought to Finn in the Cath Finntraga (edited and translated by Kuno Meyer from a fifteenth century MS., Anec. Ox.. Med. and Mod. Series, I, 4, 32) should be compared :
"There arose from them [the weapons] fiery flashes of lightning and most venomous bubbles, and the warriors could not endure looking at those weapons. . . . For the balls of fire they sent forth no dress or garment could resist them but they went through the bodies of the men next to them like most venomous arrows."
In the same tale, on pages 38-9, Caisel Clumach's flaming shield is described :
" A venomous shield with red flames which the smith of hell ( gabha ifrinn) had wrought for him." Druimderg son of Dolor slew the owner of this shield with a venomous spear that had been in the possession of the Clanna Rudraige one after another, and Croderg ("the Red-Socketed") was its name.
Brown sees fit to reiterate the point about the identity of Luin with Crimall, bringing in yet another magical spear of Irish lore, the ⇒Aréadbhar
"Slaughterer" into the comparison:
..This Crimall was the same or at least was confused with the LUIN of Celtchar.1 In any case one can hardly doubt that it belonged with Cormac's other possessions, and came, like them, from the Tuatha Dá Danaan.
1 The opinion of Hennessy, R. I. A., Todd Lect. Series, I, 1, xiv. (The blazing spear of Lugh named Slaughterer was also called "the red spear," see above, p. 19).
—"Bleeding Lance", p.42
Brown even drives home the point a third time, saying that the terrible or poisoned spear of Aengus "was confused or perhaps identified with the LUIN of Celtchar" (p. 56)