Lebor Gabala Erenn
The Book of the Takings of Ireland
better known as
The Book of Invasions
This text--found in both the Book of Leinster and the Book of Fermoy--is the core text of the mythological cycle in Irish literature, as well as the earliest known history written by the Irish. It tells of the successive invasions of Ireland by different tribes, from the creation of the world to the coming of the Milesians (Iberian Celts):
§01-13: Biblical History
§14-25: Gaedhil History
§48-54: Fir Bolgs
§55-64: Tuatha De Dannan
§56-60: The First Battle of Magh Turedh
§65-: The Milesians
Of the above invasions, the Partholonians and the Nemedians are also discussed in the Historia Brittonum, which is generally dated to the 8th or 9th century, if no earlier; Giraldus Cambrensis also mentions these two tribes.
In truth, Ireland was settled by several groups of people: nomadic hunters and gatherers; pre-Celts and the Cruithan (Picts); Iron-age Celts, first from Northern Europe, and the second possibly from Spain. This--a hypothesis--is reflected by the existence of the Milesians. Also, there is the curious story of the "Black Irish"--that the existence of the short, dark-haired and occasionally olive-skinned people, usually found in the west of Ireland, are the result of the intermarriage of shipwrecked Armada sailors and local girls. Some say this is history; others say it is myth. Either way, it isn't hard to see a connection between the pre-historic Milesians--son of Mil of Spain--and the Spanish sailors of the 16th century.
The translation provided here is the Irish Texts Society edition, with the final section--that of the Milesians--provided by the Cross & Slover translation. To my knowledge, they are both public domain.
§1. In principio fecit Deus Cawlum et Terram, i.e., God made Heaven and Earth at the first, [and He Himself hath no beginning nor ending].
§2. He made first the formless mass, and the light of angels, [on the first Sunday]. He made firmament [on the Monday]. He made earth and seas [on the Tuesday]. He made sun and moon and the stars of Heaven [on the Wednesday]. He made birds [of the air] and reptiles [of the sea on the Thursday]. He made beasts [of the earth] in general, and Adam to rule over them, [on the Friday]. Thereafter God rested [on the Saturday] from the accomplishment of a new Creation, [but by no means from its governance].
§3. [Thereafter] He gave the bailiffry of Heaven to Lucifer, with the nine orders of the Angels of Heaven. He gave the bailiffry of Earth to Adam [and to Eve, with her progeny]. [Thereafter] Lucifer sinned, so that he was leader of a third of the host of angels. The King confined him with a third of the host of angels in his company, in Hell. And God said unto the Foe of Heaven: [Haughty is this Lucifer], unite et confundamus consilium eius.
§4. Thereafter Lucifer had envy against Adam, for he was assured that this would be given him [Adam], the filling of Heaven in his [Lucifer's] room. Wherefore he [Iofer Niger] came in the form of the serpent, and persuaded [Adam and] Eve to sin, in the matter of eating of the apple from the forbidden tree. Wherefore Adam was expelled from Paradise into common earth.
§5. Thereafter the Lord came to them, and He said unto Adam, Terra es et in terram ibis [i.e., of earth was he made and into earth shall he go]. In sudore uultus fui comedes panem tuum [i.e., he shall not obtain satisfaction without labor]. He said further unto the woman: Cum dolore et gemitu paries filios tuos et filias tuas [i.e., it shall be with ... insufferable pain that thou shalt bring forth thy sons].
§6. The progeny of Adam sinned [thereafter], namely the elder of the sons of Adam, Cain the accursed, who slew his brother Abel ... [through his jealousy?] and through his greed, with the bone of a camel, as learned men say. [In this manner?] began the kin-murders of the world.
§7. As for Seth, one of the three sons of Adam [who had progeny], of him are the men of the whole world. Noe s. Lamech s. Mathusalem s. Enoch s. Iared s. Malalahel s. Cainan s. Enos s. Seth s. Adam For it is Noe who is the second Adam, to whom the men of all the world are traced. For the Flood drowned the whole seed of Adam, except Noe with his three sons, Sem, Ham, Iafeth, and their four wives Coba, Olla, Oliva, Olivana. Afterwards, when God brought a Flood over the whole world, none of the people of the world escaped from the Flood except it be the people of that ark - Noe with his three sons, and the wife of Noe, the wives of his sons.
Ut dixit poeta,
A host that a wintry death would not subdue
Noe, there was no hero's weakness,
A story with horror has been made clear with keenness
Sem, Ham, and Iafeth.
Women without evil colour, great excellences,
above the Flood without extinctions,
Coba, vigorous was the white swan,
Olla, Oliva, Olivana.
§8. Now Sem settled in Asia, Ham in Africa, Iafeth in Europe -
Sem settled in pleasant Asia;
Ham with his progeny in Africa noble Iafeth and his
sons, it is they who settled in Europe.
Sem had thirty sons, including Arfaxad, Assur, and Persius. Ham had thirty sons, including Chus and Chanaan. Iafeth had fifteen including Dannai, Gregus, Hispanius, Gomer. Or it is twenty-seven sons that Sem had.
Thirty sleek sons, a brilliant fact,
they sprang from Ham, son of Noe
twenty-seven who are from Sem,
and fifteen from Iafeth.
§9. [With regard to] Iafeth [son of Noe], of him is the northern side of Asia - namely Asia Minor, Armenia, Media, the People of Scythia; and of him are the inhabitants of all Europe.
Grecus s. Iafeth, of him is Grecia Magna, Grecia Parva and Alexandian Greece. Espanus s. Iafeth from whom are the Hispani. Gomer son of Iafeth had two sons, Emoth and Ibath. Emoth, of him is the northern people of the world. Ibath had two sons, Bodb and Baath. Bodb, who had a son Dohe.
Elinus son of Dohe had three sons, Airmen, Negua, Isacon. As for Airmen, he had five sons, Gutus, Cebidus, Uiligothus, Burgundus, Longbardus. Negua had three sons, Saxus, Boarus, Uandalus. Isacon, moreover, one of the three sons of Elenus, he had four sons, Romanus, Francus, Britus, Albanus.
This is that Albanus who first took Albania, with his children, and of him is Alba named: so he drove his brother across the Sea of Icht, and from him are the Albanians of Latium of Italy.
§10. Magog, son of Iafeth, of his progeny are the peoples who came to Ireland before the Gaedil: to wit Partholan s. Sera s. Sru s. Esru s. Bimbend (sic) s. Magog s. Iafeth; and Nemed s. Agnomain s. Pamp s. Tat s. Sera s. Sru; and the progeny of Nemed, the Gaileoin, Fir Domnann, Fir Bolg and Tuatha De Danann. As the poet said,
Magog son if Iafeth there is
cerainty of his progeny;
of them was Parthalon of Banba
--decorous was his achievement.
Of them was noble Nemed son of Agnomain, unique; of them were Gand and Genand, Sengand, free Slaine.
The numerous progeny of Elada, of them was Bres, no untruth: son of Elada expert in arms, son of Delbaeth son of Net.
S. Inda, s. Allda -Allda who was s. Tat, s. Tabarn s. Enda, s. Baath, [son of] pleasant Ibath. s. Bethach s. Iardan s. Nemed grandson of Paimp: Pamp s. Tat s. Sera s. Sru s. white Braiment. Of Braiment s. Aithecht, s. Magog, great in reknown: there happened in their time a joint appearance against a Plain.
§11. Baath, [one of the two sons of Ibath] s. Gomer s. Iafeth, of him are the Gaedil and the people of Scythia. He had a son, the noble eminent man whose name was Feinus Farsaid. [It is he who was one of the seventy-two chieftains who went for the building of Nemrod's Tower, whence the languages were dispersed.] Howbeit, Nemrod himself was son of Cush s. Ham s. Noe. This is that Feinius aforesaid who brought the People's Speech from the Tower: and it is he who had the great school, learning the multiplicity of languages.
§12. Now Feinius had two sons: Nenual, [one of the two] whom he left in the princedom of Scythia behind him; Nel, the other son, at the Tower was he born. Now he was a master of all the languages; wherefore one came [to summon him] from pharao, in order to learn the multiplicity of languages from him. But Feinius came out of Asia to Scythia, whence he had gone for the building of the Tower; so that he died in the princedom of Scythia, at the end of forty years, and passed on the chieftainship to his son, Nenual.
§13. At the end of forty two years after the building of the Tower, Ninus son of Belus took the kingship of the world. For no other attempted to exercise authority over the peoples or to bring the multitude of nations under one had, and under tax and tribute, but he alone. Aforetime there had been chieftains; he who was noblest and most in favour in the community, he it was who was chief counsellor for every man: who should avert all injustice and further all justice. No attempt was made to invade or to dominate other nations.
§14. Now that is the time when Gaedel Glas, [from whom are the Gaedil] was born, of Scota d. Pharao. From her are the Scots named, ut dictum est
Feni are named from Feinius
a meaning without secretiveness:
Gaedil from comely Gaedel Glas,
Scots from Scota.
§15. It is Gaedel Glas who fashioned the Gaelic language out of the seventy-two languages: there are their names, Bithynian, Scythian, etc. Under poeta cecinit
The languages of the world, see for yourselves
Bithynia, Scythia, Cilicia, Hyreania,
Gothia, Graecia, Germania, Gallia with horror,
Pentapolis, Phrygia, Palmatia, Dardania.
Pamphylia, Mauretania, populous Lycaonia,
Bacctria, Creta, Corsica,
Cypros Thessalia, Cappadocia, noble Armenia,
Raetia, Sicilia, Saracen-land, Sardinia.
Belgia, Boeotia, Brittania, tuneful Rhodos,
Hispania, Roma, Rhegini, Phoenicia,
India, golden Arabia,
Mygdonia, Mazaca, Macedonia.
Parthia, Caria, Syria, Saxones,
Athenae, Achaia, Albania,
Hebraei, Arcadia, clear Galatia,
Troas, Thessalia, Cyclades.
Moesia, Media, Persida, Franci,
Cyrene, Lacedaemonia, Langobardi,
Thracia, Numidia, Hellas (?)
-- hear it! Lofty Italia, Ethipia, Egypt.
That is the tally of languages
without tarnish out of which Gaedel cut Gaedelic:
known to me is their roll of understanding,
the groups, the manifold languages.
§16. Now Sru s. Esru s. Gaedel, he it is who was chieftain for the Gaedil who went out of Egypt after Pharao was drowned [with his host in the Red Sea of Israel]: Seven hundred and seventy years from the Flood till then.
Four hundred and forty years from that time in which Pharao was drowned, and after Sru s. Esru came out of Egypt, till the time when the sons of Mil came into Ireland, to wit, Eber and Eremon: hereanent [one] said--
Forty and four hundred of years--it is no falsehood--
from when the people of God came,
be ye certain over the surface of Mare Rubrum,
till they landed in Scene from the clear sea,
they, the Sons of Mil, in the land of Ireland.
§17. Four ships' companies strong went Sru out of Egypt. There were twenty-four wedded couples and three hirelings for every ship. Sru and his son Eber Scot, they were the chieftains of the expedition. [It is then that Nenual s. Baath s. Nenual s. Feinius Farsaid, prince of Scythia, died: and] Sru also died immediately after reaching Scythia.
§18. Eber Scot took [by force] the kingship of Scythia from the progeny of Nenual, till he fell at the hands of Noemius s. Nenual. There was a contention between Noemius and Boamain s. Eber Scot. Boamain took the kingship till he fell at the hands of Noemius. Noemius took the princedom till he fell at the hands of Ogamain s. Boamain in vengeance for this father. Ogamain took the kingship till he died. Refill s. Noemius took the kingship till he fell at the hands of Tat s. Ogamain. Thereafter Tat fell at the hands of Refloir s. Refill. Thereafter there was a contention for the princedom between Refloir [grandson of Noemius and Agnomain s. Tat, until Refloir fell at the hands of Agnomain.
§19. For that reason was the seed of Gaedil driven forth upon the sea, to wit Agnomain and Lamfhind his son, so that they were seven years on the sea, skirting the world on the north side.
More than can be reckoned are the hardships which they suffered. [The reason why the name Lamfhind was given to the son of Agnomain was, because not greater was the radiance of candles than his hands, at the towing.] They had three ships with a coupling between them, that none of them should move away from the rest. They had three chieftains after the death of Agnomain on the surface of the great Caspian Sea, Lamfhind and Allot and Caicher the druid.
§20. It is Caicher the druid who gave the remedy to them, when the Siren was making melody to them: sleep was overcoming them at the music. This is the remedy which Caicher found for them, to melt wax in their ears. It is Caicher who spoke to them, when the great wind drove them into the Ocean, so that they suffered much with hunger and thirst there: till at the end of a week they reached the great promontory which is northward from the Rhipaean Mountain, and in that promontory they found a spring with the taste of wine, and they feasted there, and were three days and three nights asleep there. But Caicher the druid said: Rise, said he, we shalal not rest until we reach Ireland. What place is that 'Ireland' said Lamfhind s. Agnomain. Further than Scythia is it, said Caicher. It is not ourselves who shall reach it, but our children, at the end of three hundred years from today.
§21. Thereafter they settled in the Macotic Marshes, and there a son was born to Lamfhind, Eber Glunfhind: [white marks which were on his knees]. He it is who was chieftain after his father.
His grandson was Febri [Glunfhind (Sic)]. His grandson was Nuadu.
§22. Brath s. Death s. Ercha s. Allot s. Nuadu s. Nenual s. Febri Glas s. Agni find s. Eber Glunfhind s. Lamfhind s. Agnomain s. Tat s. Agnomain s.
Boamain s. Eber Scot s. Sru s. Esru s. Gaedel Glas s. Nel s. Feinius Farsaid:
It is that Brath who came out of the Marshes along the Torrian Sea to Crete and to Sicily. They reached spain thereafter. They took Spain by force.
§23. As for Agnomain s. Tat, he is the leader of the Gaedil who came out of Scythia. He had two sons, Lamfhind and Allot. Lamfhind had one son, Eber Glunfhind. Allot had a son, Eber Dub, at the same time as the sojourn in the Marshes. They had two grandsons in joint rule, Toithecht s. Tetrech s. Eber Dub, and Nenual s. Febri s. Agni s. Eber Glunfhind; there was also Soithecht s. Mantan s. Caicher.
Ucce and Occe, two sons of Allot s. Nenual s. Nemed s. Allot s. Ogamain s. Toithecht s. Tetrech s. Eber Dub s. Allot.
§24. Four ships' companies strong came the Gaedil to Spain: in every ship fourteen wedded couples and seven unwed hirelings. Brath, a ship's company. Ucce and Occe, two ships' companies: [Two brethren were they, the sons of Allot s. Nenual s. Nemed s. Allot s. Ogamain], Mantan [s. Caicher the druid s. Ercha s. (Coemthecht)] a ship's company. So they broke three battles after going into Spain: a battle against the Tuscans, a battle against the Langobardi, and a battle against the Barchu. But there came a plague upon them, and four and twenty of their number died, including Occe and Ucce. Out of the two ships none escaped, save twice five men, including En s. Occe and Un s. Ucce.
§25. Brath had a good son named Breogan, by whom was built the Tower and the city - Braganza was the city's name. From Breogan's Tower it was that Ireland was seen; an evening of a day of winter Ith s. Breogan saw it. Unde Gilla Coemain cecinit--
Gaedel Glas, of whom are the Gaedil,
son was he of Nel, with store of wealth:
he was mighty west and east,
Nel, son of Feinius Farsaid.
Feinius had two sons--I speak truth--
Nel our father and Nenual,
Nel was born at the Tower in the east,
Nenual in Scythia, bright as a shield.
After Feinius, the hero of ocean,
there was great envy between the brethren:
Nel slew Nenual, who was not gentle;
the High King was expelled.
He went into Egypt through valour
till he reached powerful Pharao;
till he bestowed Scota, of no scanty beauty,
the modest, nimble daughter of pharao.
Scota bore a son to noble Nel,
from whom was born a perfect great race:
Gaedel Glas was the name of the man--
green were his arms and his vesture.
Fierce Esru was son to him,
who was a Lord with heavy arms:
the son of Esru, Sru of the ancient hosts
to whom was meet all the fame attributed to him.
Sru son of Esru son of Gaedel,
our ancestor, rejoicing in troops,
he it is who went northward to his house,
over the surface of the red Mare Rubrum.
The crews of four ships were the tale
of his host along the red Mare Rubrum:
in his house of planks, we may say,
twenty-four wedded couples.
The prince of Scythia, it ws a clear fact,
the youth whose name was Nenual,
it is then he died yonder in his house--
when the Gaedil arrived.
Eber Scot of the heroes assumed [the kingdom]
over the progeny of Nenual unashamed,
till he fell, with no gentle kindness,
at the hands of Noemius son of Nenual.
The strong son of Eber thereafter, who had the name Boamain,
of perfect purity, to the shore
of the Caspian Sea was he king,
till he fell by the hand of Noemius.
Noemius son of Nenual of the strength
settled in Scythia, chequered like a shield:
the perfect fair prince fell
by the hand of Ogamain son of Boamain.
Thereafter Ogamain was prince
after Noemius of good strength:
till he died in his territory, unchurched:
after him Refill was king.
Thereafter Refill fell by
the hand of Tait son of Ogmain:
Tait fell, though he was not feeble,'
by the hand of Refloir son to Refill.
Refloir and Agnomain without blemish,
seven years were they in contention,
till Refloir fell with tumult
by the victorious hand of Agnomain.
Noinel and Refill with a [spear] point
two sons of Refloir son of Refill,
they drove Agnomain out over the raging sea,
great and green.
Good were the chieftains, it was sufficient,
who came out of Scythia;
Agnomain, Eber without blemish,
the two sons of Tait son of Ogamain.
Allot, Lamfhind of the green hand,
conspicuous the two sons of very bright Agnomain,
Caicher and Cing, fame with victory
the two good sons of Eber of the red-steed.
The number of their ships,
three ships coming over heavy waves;
three score [the crew] of every ship,
a clear saying, and women every third score.
Agnomain died, it was no reproach
in the islands of the great Caspian Sea.
The place where they were for a year
they found very secret.
They reached the full Libyan Sea,
a sailing of six complete summer days;
Glas son of Agnomain, who was not dspicable,
died there in Cercina.
A fair island found they there
on the Libyan Sea of warrior-blades:
a season over a year, with fame,
their sojourn in that island.
They sail on the sea,
a brilliant fact both by day and by night:
the sheen of the hands of lustrous Lamfhind
was like to fair candles.
Four chieftains had they who were not despicable,
after coming over the Libyan Sea:
Allot, Lamfhind wsift over the ocean,
Cing and his brother Caicher.
Caicher found a remedy for them
yonder for the melody of the Sirens:
this is the remedy that fair Caicher found,
to melt wax in their ears.
They found a spring and a land
at the Rhipaean headland with great might,
having the taste of wine thereafter:
their thirst overcame them mightily.
Soundly, soundly they slept
to the end of three days without sorrow,
till Caicher the faithful druid wakened
the noble men impatiently.
It is Caicher, (a brilliant fulfilment!)
who made a prophecy to them,
at the Rhipaean Mountains with a headland--
"We have no rest until Ireland."
"In what place is lofty Ireland?"
said Lamfhind the violent warrior.
"Very far" said Caicher then,
"It is not we who reach it, but our children."
They advanced in their battalion with venom,
southward past the Rhipaean headlands;
the progeny of Gaedel, with purity,
they landed at the Marshes.
A glorious son was born there
to Lamfhind son of Agnomain;
Eber Glunfhind, pure the gryphon,
the curl-haired grandfather of Febri.
The family of Gaedel, the brisk and white,
were three hundred years in that land:
they dwelt there thenceforward,
until Brath the victorious came.
Brath, the noble son of Faithful Death
came to Crete, to Sicily,
the crew of four ships of a safe sailing,
right-hand to Europe, on to Spain.
Occe and Ucce without blemish,
the two sons of Allot son of Nenual;
Mantan son of Caicher, faithful Brath,
they were the four leaders.
Fourteen men with their wives
made the crew for every ship full of warriors,
and six noble hirelings;
they won three battles in Spain.
Lofty the first battle - I shall not conceal it
--which they won against the host of the Tuscans;
a battle against the Bachra with violence,
and a battle against the Langobardi.
It was after the sinister battle
that there came to them a plague of one day:
the people of the ships of the sons of Allot
without fault were all dead except ten persons.
Un and En came out of it,
two noble sons of the strong chieftains:
thereafter was Bregon born,
father of Bile the strong and raging.
He broke a great number of fights and battles
against the many-coloured host of Spain:
Bregon of the shouts of valorous deeds,
of the combats, by him was built Brigantia.
Bregon son of Brath, gentle and good,
he had a son, Mil:
the seven sons of Mil--good their host--
including Eber and Eremon.
Along with Dond, and Airech with battle,
including Ir, along with Arannan,
including Armorgen with bright countenance,
and along with Colptha of the sword.
The ten sons of Bregon without falsehood,
Brega, Fuat, and Murthemne,
Cualnge, Cuala, fame though it were,
Ebleo, Nar, Ith, and Bile.
Ith son of Bregon with tuneful fame
came at the first into Ireland:
he is the first of men who inhabited it,
of the noble seed of the powerful Gaedil.