This relic of Celtic literature might have
been taken as chronologically preceding the Book of Deer, but while portions of the latter
are looked upon as having been written previous to the ninth century, the former, so far
as we know, is of the age of Malcolm III. It is said to have been sung by the Gaelic bard
of the royal house at the coronation of Malcolm. It is transcribed here as it appears in
the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, where it is given as copied from the
M'Firbis MS. in the Royal Irish Academy :-
A eolcha Alban uile,
A shluagh feuta folthuidhe,
Cia ceud ghabhail, au eòl duibh,
Ro ghabhasdair Albanbruigh.
Albanus ro ghabh, lià a
Mac sen oirderc Isicon
Brathair is Briutus gan brath,
O raitear Alba eathrach.
Ro ionnarb a brathair bras,
Briotus tar muir n-Icht-n-amhnas,
Ro gabh Briutus Albain ain,
Go rinn fhiadhnach Fotudain.
Fota iar m-Briutus m-blaith, m-bil,
Ro ghabhsad Clanna Nemhidh,
Erglan iar teacht as a loing,
Do aithle thoghla thuir Conuing.
Cruithnigh ros gabhsad iarttain,
Tar ttiachtain a h-Erean-mhuigh,
.X.righ tri fichid righ ran,
Gabhsad diobh an Cruithean-chlar.
Cathluan an ced righ diobh-soin,
Aisnedhfead daoibh go cumair,
Rob e an righ degheanach dhibh
An cur calma Cusaintin.
Clanna Eathach ina n-diaigh,
Gabhsad Albain iar n-airdghliaidh,
Clanna Conaire an chaomhfhir,
Toghaidhe na treun Ghaoidhil.
Tri mec Erc mec Eachdach ait,
Triar Fuair beannachtair Patraicc,
Ghabhsad Albain, ard a n-gus,
Loarn, Fearghus, is Aonghus.
Dech m-bliadhna Loarn, ler bladh,
I fflaitheas Oirir Alban,
Tar es Loarn fhel go n-gus,
Seacht m-bliadhna ficheat Fearghus.
Domhangart mac d'Fheargus ard,
Aireamh cuig m-bliadhan m-biothgarg,
A .XXXIIII. gan troid,
Do Comghall mac Domhangoirt.
Da bhliadhan Conaing gan tair,
Tar es Comhghaill do Gobhran,
Ti bliadhna fo cuig gan roinn
Ba ri Conall mac Comhghoill.
Cethre bliadhna ficheat tall
Bar ri Aodhan na n-iol-rann,
Dech m-bliadhna fo seacht seol n-gle,
I fflaitheas Eathach buidhe.
Connchadh Cearr raithe, rel bladh,
A .XVI. dia mac Fearchar,
Tar es Ferchair, feaghaidh rainn,
.XIIII. bliadhna Domhnaill.
Tar es Domhnaill bric na m-bla,
Conall, Dunghall .X. m-bliadhna,
.XIII. bliadhna Domhnaill duinn
Tar es Dunghail is Chonail.
Maolduin mac Conaill na ccreach
A .XVII. do go dlightheach,
Fearchair fadd, feagha leat,
Do chaith bliadhain thar .XX.
Da bliadhain Eachdach na-n-each,
Ro ba calma an ri rightheach,
Aoin Bhliadhain ba flaith iarttain,
Ainceallach maith mac Fearchair.
Seachd m-bliadhna Dunghail dein,
Acus a ceither do Ailpen,
tri bliadhna Muireadhiogh mhaith,
.XXX. do Aodh na ardfhlaith.
A ceathair ficheat, nir fhann,
Do bhliadhnaibh do chaith Domhnall,
Da bhliadhain Conaill, cem n-gle,
Is a ceathair Chonall ele.
Triocha bliadhain Cionaoith chruaidh,
A ceathair Domhnall drechruaidh,
.XXX. bliadhan co na bhrigh,
Don churadh do Cusaintin.
Da bhliadhain, ba daor a dath,
Da brathair do Aodh fhionnscothach,
Domhnall mac Custain chain,
Ro chaith bliadhain fa cheathair.
Cusaintin ba calma a ghleac,
Ro chaith a se is da fhicheat,
Maolcoluim cethre bliadhna,
Iondolbh a h-ocht airdrigla.
Seacht m-bliadhna Dubhod den
Acus a ceathair Cuilen,
A .XXVII, os gach cloinn
Do Cionaoth mac Maolcholuim.
Seacht m-bliadhna Cusaintin cluin
Acus a ceathair Macdhuibh
Triochadh bliadhain, breacaid rainn,
Ba ri Monaidh Maolcoluim.
Se bliadhna Donnchaid glain gaoith
.XVII. bliadhna mac Fionnlaoich
Tar es Mecbeataidh go m-blaidh
.vii mis i fflaithios Lughlaigh.
Maolcholuim anosa as ri,
Mac Donnchaidh dhata dhrechbhi,
A re nocha n-fidir neach,
Acht an t-eolach as eolach
Da righ for chaogad, cluine
Go mac Donnchaidh drech ruire,
Do shiol Erc ardghlain anoir,
Gabhsad Albain, a eolaigh.
Ye learned of Alban altogether
Ye people shy, yellow-haired
Which was the first invasion, do ye know,
That took the land of Alban ?
Albanus took it, active
That famous son of Isacon,
The brother of Briutus without guile
From whom Alba of the ships is said.
Briutus banished his bold brother
Over the stormy sea of Icht.
Briutus took the beautiful Alban
To the tempestuous promontory of Fotudan.
Long after Briutus the noble, the good,
The race of Neimhidh took it,
Erglan, after coming out of his ship
After the destruction of the tower of Conaing.
The Cruithne took it after that
On coming out of Erin of the plain,
Seventy noble kings of them
Took the Cruithnean plain.
Cathluan was the first king of them,
I tell it you in order,
The last king of them was
The brave hero Constantine.
The children of Eochy after them
Seized Alban after a great fight,
The children of Conair, the gentle man,
The choice of the brave Gael.
Three sons of Erc the son of Eochy the joyous,
Three who got the blessing of Patrick,
Seized Alban; great was their courage,
Lorn, Fergus, and Angus.
Ten years to Lorn, by which was renown,
In the sovereignty of Oirir Alban,
After Lorn the generous and strong
Seven and twenty years to Fergus.
Domangart, son of the great Fergus,
Had the number of five terrible years.
Twenty-four years without a fight
Were to Comghall son of Domangart.
Two years of success with contempt
After Comghall to Gobhran.
Three years with five without division
Was king Conall son of Comghall.
Four and twenty peaceful years
Was king Aodhan of many songs.
Ten years with seven, a true tale,
In sovereignty Eochy buy.
Connchadh Cearr a quarter, star of renown,
Sixteen years to his son Ferchar,
After Ferchar, see the poems,
Thirteen years to Donald.
After Donald breac of the shouts,
Was Conall, Dungal ten years,
Thirteen years Donald Donn
After Dungal and Conall.
Maolduin, son of Conall of spoils,
Seventeen years to him rightfully.
Ferchar fadd, see you it
Spent one year over twenty.
Two years was Eochy of steeds,
Bold was the king of palaces.
One year was king after that
Aincellach the good, son of Ferchar.
Seven years was Dungal the impetuous,
And four to Ailpin.
Three years Murdoch the good,
Thirty to Aodh as high chief.
Eighty, not feeble
Years did Donald spend.
Two years Conall, a noble course,
And four another Conall.
Thiry years Kenneth the hardy,
Four Donald of ruddy face,
Thirty years with effect
To the hero, to Constantine.
Two years, sad their complexion,
To his brother Aodh the youthfully fair,
Donald, son of Constantine the mild,
Spent a year above four.
Constantine, bold was his conflict
Spent forty and six.
Malcolm four years.
Indulf eight in high sovereignty.
Seven years Dubhoda the impetuous,
And four years Cuilen.
And twenty-seven over all the tribes
To Kenneth the son of Malcolm.
Seven years Constantine, listen,
And four to Macduff,
Thirty years, the verses mark it,
Was king of Monaidh, Malcolm.
Six years was Duncan of pure wisdom,
Seventeen years the son of Finlay,
After him Macbeth with renown,
Seven months in sovereignty Lulach.
Malcolm is now the king,
Son of Duncan the yellow-coloured,
His time knoweth no one
But the knowing one who is knowing,
Two kings over fifty, listen,
To the son of Duncan of coloured face,
Of the seed of Erc the noble, in the east,
Possessed Alban, ye learned.
Although this poem is given in Gaelic as it
appears in the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, the English translation differs
in some places. Tri bliadhna fo cuig is translated by Mr. Skene "three years
five times," while in the same page dech m-bliadhna fo seacht is translated
"ten years and seven." There is no apparent ground for such a distinction. So ceathar
ficheat, eighty, is translated "four and twenty", which is at variance with
the usus of the Gaelic language. The above translation seems the true one.
This poem is manifestly of great antiquity and of deep historical
interest. Of the authorship little is known. It has been suggested that it is of Irish
origin. This is possible, for judging by the synchronisms of Flann Mainistreach, the Irish
seanachies were well informed on Scottish matters. But whether Irish or not, the whole
poem refers to Scotland, and is entitled to a place among the Celtic remains of the
country. It is our oldest and most authentic record of the Scottish kings, and in this
respect commended itself to the regard of Pinkerton, who was no friend of anything that
was creditable to the Celts or helped to establish their claims.
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