Glenn Máma: Account of the battle written in 1103

  • Extracts relating to Glenn Máma of the translation of Cogadh Gaedhel Re Gallaibh, manuscript written in 1103, Translation by James Henthorn Todd (1867)
Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh

Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh

Now, after the death of Dómhnall Cloen, son of Lorcán, king of Laghin, the Laghin and the foreigners became disobedient to Brian, and were menacing war against Brian, and against the people of Mumhain also. Brian, therefore, marched, with a great muster of the men of Mumhain, against the Laghin and against the foreigners, intending to lay siege to Áth Cliath until the foreigners should submit to him. But now the cattle and the families of Laghin were sent into the angle possessed by the foreigners, and into Ui Briuin Chualann; and into Ui Gabhra, and to Ui Donnchadha. And the Laighin and the Gáill came beyond their families to meet Brian and into his presence, viz., to Glenn Máma. They met there; Brian with the Mumhnigh, and the foreigners accompanied by the Laghin; and there was fought between them a battle, bloody, furious, red, valiant, heroic, manly; rough, cruel, heartless; and men of intelligence and learning say that since the battle of Magh Rath, to that time, there had not taken place a greater slaughter. There fell there multitudes of the Dal Cais, and of the Muimhnigh in general; there fell there the greater part of the foreigners of Ath Cliath, and of the foreigners of all Erinn; and there was also a slaughter of the Laghin; in short, the foreigners and the Lagliin were utterly defeated. And there were killed there Aralt, the son of Amlaibh, the crown prince of the foreigners of Erimi, and Cuilean, the son of Echtighern, and four thousand along with them, of the best of the foreigners of Erinn. And Brian followed them till they reached the Dun, whereupon was said:glenn mama page 001

  • Long was that route by which Brian came,
  • From Glenn Máma to Áth Cliath.
  • We brought silk out of the fortress;
  • We brought bedding; we brought feathers;
  • We brought steeds goodly and fleet,
  • And blooming white fair women.
  • The Dal Cais put to death
  • On that day two score hundred;
  • Many they deprived of cows,
  • And gave them a long day.

The fortress then was plundered by them and ransacked; and Brian at that time remained encamped in the town from great Christmas to little Christmas. He came then into the market, and the whole fortress was burned by them, and they left not a treasure under ground that they did not discover. As the poet said in relating the story of it

  • The battle of Glenn Máma was great and rapid
  • No harder battle was ever fought
  • The man who says so makes no false assertion
  • For its slaughters and its losses
  • Its valour and its severity
  • Its championship and its full impetuosity
  • Many on every side were its misfortunes,
  • Each party destroying the other.
  • Piercing, and hacking of bodies,
  • Cleaving of comely and handsome heads,
  • Feet in action, it is not false
  • And hands in full activity.
  • Many were the dead of them and of you
  • Crowds in trances and in swoons
  • Crowds of ready Danes, without cessation
  • Bravely contending with them.
  • Long did they continue in this way,
  • From the morning unto the dark noon’
  • Long were the horrors continued,
  • Each party killing the other.
  • The sons of the kings made a brave charge
  • Through the ranks of the sorrowing Gáill
  • And fiercely drove the ranks of the Gáill
  • Through the ranks of the Gaedhil north-eastwards.
  • The battle was thereupon gained
  • By force against the Gall
  • Twelve hundred, not small the glory
  • Are recorded to have there been killed.
  • The battle of Magh Rath, as it is described,
  • Or the great battle of Magh Ealta
  • Are not equal in prosperous results,
  • Nor to be compared with this one battle.
Map of Viking Dublin based on excavations and research by Howard C Clarke

Map of Viking Dublin based on excavations and research by Howard C Clarke

It was in that one place were found the greatest quantities of gold and silver, and bronze (finndruine) and precious stones, and carbuncle-gems, and buffalo horns, and beautiful goblets. All these valuables were collected by them” to one place. Much also of various vestures of all colours was found there likewise. For never was there a fortress, or a fastness, or a mound, or a church, or a sacred place, or a sanctuary, when it was taken by that howling, furious, loathsome crew, which was not plundered by the collectors and accumulators of that wealth. Neither was there in concealment under ground in Erinn, nor in the various solitudes belonging to Fians or to fairies, any thing that was not discovered by these foreign, wonderful Denmarkians, through paganism and idol worship.) Many women also, and boys, and girls, were brought to bondage and ruin by them, and the foreigners had deserved that treatment, because by them the provocation had been given, and they had been the aggressors to contest with them (ie with Brian and his folowers) their own country and their lawful inheritance. However, their good luck and fortune then turned against the foreigners, and all the evils they had hitherto inflicted were now fully avenged on them. For the respect which they had measured to the men of Erinn, was by the same standard now measured to themselves. Ill luck was it, however, for the foreigners when that youth was born, viz., Brian, the son of Cenneidigh for it was by him they were killed, destroyed, exterminated, enslaved, and bondaged. So that there was not a winnowing sheet from Benn Edair to Tech Duinn, in western Erinn, that had not a foreigner in bondage on it, nor was there a quern without a foreign woman.” So that no son of a soldier or of an officer of the Gaedhil deigned to put his hand to a flail, or any other labour on earth nor did a woman deign to put her hands to the grinding of a quern, or to knead a cake, or to wash her clothes, but had a foreign man or a foreign woman’ to work for them. Five and twenty battles, in which their own sides were pierced, did Brian gain over them, including the battle in which he himself was killed, besides sundry skirmishes. Brian remained in that place from great Christmas till the festival of Brigit. Laighin was ravaged by him, except a small portion, and he took hostages and Coill Comair was burned by him, and hewn down, and passages and fortresses cleared by him. But Am laibh, king of the foreigners, fled on the day of the battle, and went from one place to another, until he came to the Ulaid. But he was pursued by Brian’s orders; and he found not shelter with Aedh, nor with Eochaidh; so that he came into Brian’s house in a quarter of a year after, and submitted to Brian’s own terms, and Brian restored his fortress to him. Brian captured also Maelmordha, son of Murchadh, on the day of the aforesaid battle, concealed in a yew tree; and it was Murchadh that forcibly dragged him out of the tree; and he continued in captivity with Brian until Brian received the hostages of all Laighin. He was then liberated, and the hostages of Laighin were given to him, and Donnchadh, son of Domhnall Cloen, was dethroned for him. Brian now returned to his home after this, cheer fully, in good spirits, victoriously and triumphantly, as was his wont. Men of learning and historians say that there was not a yeoman of the men of Mumhain on that expedition who had not received enough to furnish his house with gold and silver, and cloth of colour, and all kinds of property in like manner. And it was to commemorate this the poem was made.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s