Scéla Cormaic meic Cuilennáin ⁊ na crosán ‘The story of Cormac mac Cuilennáin and the jesters’
verse beg. Truaghan sin, a Rí na righ

  • Middle Irish
  • verse, prose
  • Early Irish poetry, Cycles of the Kings
A brief Irish prose story, with poem, concerning the death of Cormac mac Cuilennáin, who was slain in the battle of Mag Ailbe (908). On the night before the battle, three entertainers (crossáin) promise the king to perform before him the following night, but the king and the crossáin do not live to meet again. By some act of divine providence, however, the crossáin are allowed to perform their art and utter a poem beg. Truaghán sin, a Rí na righ (10qq).
First words (verse)
  • Truaghan sin, a Rí na righ
First words (prose)
  • Tri briathra do-ratt Corpmac mac Cuilennain
  • Middle Irish
verse, prose (primary)
The prose introduction occurs in the Brussels MS only.
Contains poems
Truaghan sin, a Rí na righ
Textual relationships
James P. Carney, ‘The Ó Cianáin miscellany’, Ériu 21 (1969): 140 points out that the poem recycles and recontextualises parts of the early Middle Irish poem Truag a dála domnán dil. The motif of the poet who is allowed to fulfil the promise of a poem even after death (in battle) is more famously attested in the story of the severed head of Donn Bó in Cath Almaine.
Related: Cath AlmaineCath AlmaineTruag a dála domnán dilTruag a dála domnán dilPoem (5qq) lamenting the death of Cormac mac Cuilennáin (d. 908).


Early Irish poetryEarly Irish poetry

Cycles of the Kings
Cycles of the Kings
id. 80


Battle of Mag AilbeBattle of Mag Ailbe

Cormac mac Cuilennáin
Cormac mac Cuilennáin
(d. 908)
bishop and king of Munster

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Cerball mac Muirecáin
Cerball mac Muirecáin
(d. c. 909)
king of Leinster from the Uí Fáeláin sept of the Uí Dúnlainge.

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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.] OʼKeeffe, J. G. [ed.], “Cormac mac Cuilennáin and the jesters”, in: J. Fraser, Paul Grosjean, and J. G. OʼKeeffe (eds), Irish texts, fasciculus III, London, 1931. 8–10.
CELT – edition: <link> Celtic Digital Initiative – PDF: <link>
Prose and verse text based on the Brussels MS, with variants from the poem in RIA 23 F 16. R. I. Best provided a transcript of the latter.
Translation wanted
No translation recorded at this stage.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
October 2010, last updated: January 2024