Lebor gabála Érenn/3A. Érimón and the Cruithni

  • Middle Irish
  • prose
  • Lebor gabála Érenn
An account of the reign of Érimón mac Míled, notably the contention with his brother Éber, a series of battles, the bursting forth of lakes and streams, and Érimón’s own death. A number of versions also insert a tract on the Picts into the narrative.
Context(s)The (textual) context(s) to which the present text belongs or in which it is cited in part or in whole.
  • Middle Irish
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)


Lebor gabála Érenn
Work in progress

The following overview, based on R. Mark Scowcroft, ‘Leabhar Gabhála. Part I: the growth of the text’, Ériu 38 (1987): 116–118, covers recensions ....

General outline


Introduction (LGÉ A/M; C)

LGÉ A/M § 469; LGÉ C § 480. The arrival of the Goídil in Ireland is assigned to the Fourth Age of the world, the age of David. (...)
» People: King David » Keywords: ages of the world

The battle of Tailtiu (LGÉ A/M; C)

LGÉ A/M § 469; LGÉ C § 480. The sons of Míl defeat the three kings of the Túatha Dé Danann in the battle of Tailtiu. The kings are slain (Mac Cécht by Érimón, Mac Cuill by Éber, Mac Gréine by Amorgen) along with their queens (Ériu by Suirge, Banba by Caicher, Fotla by Etán).
» People: Mac Cécht ... son of Cermait • Mac Cuill • Mac Gréine • Érimón mac Míled • Éber Finn mac Míled • Amorgen • Ériu • Banba • Fotla • Suirge • Caicher • Etán » Places: Tailtiu » Events: battle of Tailtiu

The harper and the poet (LGÉ A (Fermoy); C)

LGÉ A (Book of Fermoy only) § 470; LGÉ C § 481: Lots are cast between the sons of Míl to decide on the assignment of two gifted artists (áes dána): as it happens, Éber receives Onnoi the harper (cruitire), so that beautiful music comes from the South, while Érimón receives Cir mac Ís the poet (file), so that the master arts (ollam dána) come from the North. Poem beg. ‘Sé Meic Míled miad n-ordain’ (Poem LXXXIII), ascr. to ‘the senchaid’.
» People: Onnoi • Cir mac Ís • Érimón • Éber » Keywords: music • poetry • file • cruitire

Joint rule between Éber and Érimón (LGÉ A/M; B; C)

 ;The joint kingship of Éber and Érimón

LGÉ A does not explicitly refer to a joint reign.

LGÉ B § 476: The sons of Míl are one year in joint rule (cf. § 477).

LGÉ C § 482: In the year following the battle of Tailtiu, Ireland is divided between Éber, who rules over the southern half, from Tonn Clidna to the Buail, and Érimón, who rules over the northern half, from Sruib Broin to the Buail. Cf. LGÉ C § 484.

The chieftains

LGÉ C § 482: There are 12 (?) chieftains in all serving under Érimón and Éber. Those of Érimón include Én, Etán mac Uicce, Mantán the sorcerer (draí) and Caicher the sorcerer (draí). Those of Éber include Amorgen Glúingel, Goisten, Suirge and Sobairce.

» People: Éber Finn mac Míled • Érimón mac Míled • Én • Etán mac Uicce • Mantán • Caicher • Amairgen Glúingel • Goisten • Suirge • Sobairce » Places: Tonn Clidna • Buail • Sruib Broin

The building of forts

 ;The building of forts during the reign of Érimón and Éber

LGÉ A (not M) § 471: Four forts are built in the year after the battle of Tailtiu: Dún Étair by Suirge, Dún Finne by Caicher, the fort of Delginis (of Cualu) by Sétga and Dún Náir (in Slíab Modoirn) by Goisten.

LGÉ C gives two lists of the forts whose building is commissioned by kings and chieftains in this year.

§ 482 (list 1). Ráith Bethaig (in Airgetros) is built by Érimón; Ráith Uamain (in Laigin) by Éber; the Causeway of Inber Mór (Tochair Indbir Móir, in Cualu) by Amairgen Glúingel; Dún Sobairce (in Murbolg, Dál Riata) by Sobairce; and the Fort of Delginis (in Cualu) by Sétga. Cf. LGÉ A § 473.
§ 483 (list 2, Book of Lecan/Book of Ballymote). Dún Etair is built by Suirge; Dún Binne by Caicher; Delginis (in Cualu) by Sétga; Dún Náir in Slíab Modoirn (according to the Book of Ballymote) or Cathair Náir in Slíab Mís (Book of Lecan) by Goisten. The Book of Lecan adds: Carraig Bladraige (NE Ireland) by Mantán; Ráith Árda Suird (in Fánat, N Ireland) by Fulmán; Ráith Rígbaird (in Murbolg) by Etán mac Uicce. Cf. LGÉ § 487 (Book of Ballymote) below.
The building of forts during the reign of Érimón

LGÉ A § 473 (following the account of Éber’s death); LGÉ C (Book of Ballymote) § 487: During the reign of Érimón, Mantán mac Caichir builds Dún Sobairce, Dún Cermna, Dún Binni and Carraig Brachaide (in A) or Carraig Bladraige (in C) (in Murbolg); Amorgen mac Míled builds the Causeway of Inber Mór (Tochair Inbir Móir, in the territory of Uí Enechglais of Cualu); Fulmán builds Ráith Sailech (LGÉ A) or Ráith Arda Sailech (LGÉ C) (in Fánat); Etán mac Occe builds Ráith Rígbaird (in Muiresc); Ún mac Ucce builds Ráith Chroich (in Árd Eitig).

» People: Suirge • Caicher • Sétga • Goisten » Places: Dún Étair • Delginis • Dún Náir • Dún Sobairce • Dún Cermna • Dún Finne • Dún Binne • Carraig Brachaide • Carraig Bladraige • Murbolg • Inber Mór • Uí Enechglais • Cualu • Ráith Sailech • Ráith Arda Sailech • Fánat • Ráith Rígbaird • Muiresc • Ráith Chroich • Árd Eitig

The contention between Éber and Érimón (LGÉ A/M; B; C)

 ;The cause of the conflict between Éber and Érimón

LGÉ A (L, Fermoy)/M § 471; LGÉ B § 476; LGÉ C § 484: a contention breaks out between Éber and Érimón (or simpy called ‘the sons of Míl’) over the three best ridges (druimni) of Ireland: Druim Clasaig (in Uí Maine), Druim Bethech (Móenmag) and Druim Fingin (Mumu). LGÉ A (Fermoy) and LGÉ C then cite the poem beg. ‘A éicsiu Banba co mblaid’ (LXXXVI). In LGÉ C, and here only, this explanation is presented as a third narrative version, in addition to two others that locate the battle either in Airgetros or on Tennus (below).

The location of the battle
  1. Airgetros
    LGÉ A (Fermoy, LL)/M § 471; LGÉ C § 484 (version 1): The battle is fought on the plain of Airgetros. Both the Fermoy copy and LGÉ C then cite a poem ascr. to Eochaid, beg. ‘Bas nÉbir tre uair n-aimnirt’ (LXXXIV).
  2. Tendas/Tenus/Tennus (Uí Failge)
    LGÉ A (Fermoy) § 471 continues that the battle is fought over the Tenus within the two plains of Uí Failge. Poem beg. ‘Sin chath for Tennus na treb’ (LXXXV).
    LGÉ B § 476: The battle is fought on Tenus (in Uí Failge, on the brink of Brí Dam at Tóchar etir dá Mág).
    LGÉ C § 484 (version 2)
The outcome of the battle

LGÉ A (L, Fermoy)/M § 471: Éber falls as well as three chieftains ‘on the other side’, Gosten, Sétga and Suirge. Poem beg. ‘Sin chath for Tennus na treb’ (LXXXV). LGÉ B § 476: Éber is defeated and Suirge, Sobairce and Gosten fall. Poem beg. ‘A éicsiu Banba co mblaid’, here ascr. to Tánaide eolach (poem LXXXVI).

LGÉ C § 484: Poem beg. ‘A éicsiu Banba co mblaid’ (LXXXVI). LGÉ A/M On the battle fought between Éber and Érimón. F adds the story of the three chieftains. ....

LGÉ C § 482: On the joint rule of Éber and Érimon (South and North); on the chieftains and lordships under them; on the LGÉ C § 483: LGÉ C § 484: The dispute over the three best ridges of Ireland. Three different traditions are cited for the ensuing battle: (a) The battle between Érimon and Éber in Airgetros (cf. § 486). Poem ascr. to Eochaid, beg. ‘Bas nÉbir tre uair n-aimnirt’ (LXXXIV). (b) The battle between Érimon and Éber on the Tennus. Poem ascr. to ‘the other poet’, beg. ‘Sin chath for Tennus na treb’ (LXXXV).

Dinnshenchas of Tea-Múr/Tara (LGÉ C only)

LGÉ C § 485

Érimón’s reign (LGÉ A/M; B; C)

LGÉ A/M § 472; LGÉ B § 477; LGÉ C § 486: Érimón takes the kingship of Ireland.

LGÉ B § 477; LGÉ C § 486: Érimón's reign is said to have lasted 15 years, including the year of his joint rule with Éber. Cf. LGÉ A/M § 475 (17 years) and LGÉ B § 479.

The building of forts: Ráith Oind and Ráith Bethaig (LGÉ A/M; C)

LGÉ A/M § 472; LGÉ C § 486: Érimón commissions the building of Ráith Oind (Ráith Ainninn – LGÉ C (Book of Ballymote)) in the territory of Cualu and Ráith Bethaig (Ráith Bethech – LGÉ C) above the Nore.

Provincial kings of Ireland (LGÉ A/M; C)

LGÉ A/M § 472; LGÉ C § 486: Érimón apportions royal power over the provinces of Ireland so that (1) Crimthann Sciathbél of the Domnann becomes king of the province of the Gáiléoin; (2) Éber’s four sons Ér, Orba, Fergna and Ferón become kings of Mumu; (3) Ún mac Ucce and Etán (mac Ucce–LGÉ C) kings of Connacht; and (4) Éber mac Ír, from whom descend the Ulaid of Emain, becomes king of Ulster.
» People: Érimón • Crimthann Sciathbél of the Domnann • Ér • Orba • Fergna • Ferón • Ún mac Ucce • Etán mac Ucce • Éber mac Ír • Ulaid of Emain

The tract on the Cruithni


The battles of Cúl Caichir, Bile Tened, Breogain and Comraire (LGÉ A/M; B; C)

 ;The battle of Cúl Caichir
LGÉ A § 474 (not in LGÉ M): Amorgen and Caicher fight a battle at Cúl Caichir. Caicher falls in the battle.
LGÉ B § 477. A year from Éber’s death, the battle of Cúl Caichir is fought. Here Caicher is slain by Amorgen Glúingel.
LGÉ C § 486: battle of Cúl Caichir
The battle of Bile Tened
LGÉ A § 474: Érimón and Amorgen, a judge and poet, fight a battle at Bile Tened (in Mide). Amorgen falls in the battle.
LGÉ B § 477: A year from the battle of Cúl Caichir, the battle of Bile Tened (‘in the recesses of Breg’) is fought. Here Amorgen is slain by Érimón.
LGÉ C § 486: battle of Bile Tened
The battle of Breogan
LGÉ B § 477 (gloss?): A year from the battle of Bile Tened, the battle of Breogan (in Femen) is fought. Fulmán and Mantán are slain by Érimón.
LGÉ C § 487: battle of Breogan (in Mag Femen)
The battle of Comraire
LGÉ A § 474: Érimón is victorious in the battle of Comraire. Én and Etán (sons of Oicce) as well as Ún son of Uicce fall in that battle.
LGÉ B § 478; LGÉ C § 487 (Book of Ballymote): In the fourth (B) or third (C) year of Érimon’s reign, the battle of Comraire (in Mide) is fought. Here Ún and Etán are slain by Érimón ‘and their graves were there cast up’.
» Events: battle of Cúl Caichir • battle of Bile Tened • battle of Breogan

The bursting forth of lakes and streams (LGÉ A; B; C)

LGÉ A § 473: Streams burst forth: the seven Ríges of Laigin, Brosnas of Éile (of Eithne in Uí Néill) and the three Sucs of Connachta.
LGÉ B § 477; LGÉ C § 486: Streams burst forth: the nine Brosnas of Éile; the three Uinnsinns of Uí Ailella; the nine Ríges of Laigin. LGÉ B § 478; LGÉ C § 487 (Book of Ballymote): the three Sucs of Connachta.
LGÉ A § 473: Loch Ríach, Loch Rein, Loch Cimme, Loch Finnmaige (in Connachta), Loch Dá Cáech (in Laigin), Loch Laig (in Ulaid), Loch Buadach (in Cera), and Loch Gréinne.
LGÉ B § 478; LGÉ C § 487 (Book of Ballymote): ‘Eight’ (sic) lake-bursts: Loch Cimme, Loch Buadaig (in Cera–LGÉ C), Loch Baga, Loch Réin, Loch Finnmaige (in Connachta–LGÉ C), Loch Gréinne, Loch Ríach, Loch Dá Cáech (in Laigin), Loch Láeg (in Ulaid).

Cf. LGÉ B § 479 (gloss): the bursting forth of Eithne and Fregabail.

Note that the bursts of lakes and streams, though they are considered apart here, are recounted along with the battles.

» Events: battle of Comraire » Keywords: lake-bursts

The death and burial of Érimón (LGÉ A/M; B; C)

LGÉ A/M § 475; LGÉ C § 489: Érimon dies in Airgetros. He is buried with a stone (fert) in Ráith Bethaig, over the Eóir (Nore, in Airgetros). His death is placed at the end of a 17-year reign. Poem ascr. to Eochaid, beg. ‘Flaith Érimón úaid ócdai’ (LXXXVIII).

LGÉ B § 479; LGÉ C § 488: Érimón dies in Ráith Bethaig (over the Eóir, in Airgetros) and receives burial there. His death is dated 7 years from the previously recounted event (the battle of Comraire); in the 9th year after the death of Alexander (LGÉ B § 479; cf. LGÉ C § 487: a gloss on the death of Hercules).

LGÉ B § 479: A gloss adds to this the bursting forth of two streams: Eithne (in Uí Néill, between Mide and Tethba) and Fregabail (between Dál nAraide and Dál Riata).

LGÉ C § 488: Concluding poem beg. ‘In aimsir Érimóin ergnai’ (LXXXVII).


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Macalister, R. A. Stewart [ed.], Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the taking of Ireland, 5 vols, vol. 5, Irish Texts Society 44, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1942.
Internet Archive: <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Scowcroft, R. Mark, “Leabhar Gabhála. Part I: the growth of the text”, Ériu 38 (1987): 79–140.  
Mac Eoin, Gearóid, “On the Irish legend of the origin of the Picts”, Studia Hibernica 4 (1964): 138–154.