Irish Christmas tales: the Mac Diarmada Christmas gathering of 1540.
Irish History From The Annals




In 1540 the annals of Loch Cé recorded a very special Christmas celebration when Ruaidhri Mac Diarmada invited all the poets and ollúna of Ireland to join him for Christmas.

In 1540 the annals of Loch Cé recorded a very special Christmas celebration. Ruaidhri Mac Diarmada (MacDermott), Chief of Magh Luirg (Moylurg) in south-east Sligo, and his wife Sadhbh Burk invited all the poets and ollúna (the most learned poets, lawyers and historians) of Ireland and many of the lords of the region to spend a special Christmas with them at the Monastery of Loch Cé, near Boyle in Co. Roscommon. This must have been one of the great cultural events of medieval Ireland. The annals record that the learned guests each received a Christmas gift according to his dignity and learning.

A school invitation was given by Ruaidhri, son of Tadhg Mac Diarmada, and by his wedded wife, i.e. Mac William's daughter, i.e. Sadhbh Burk, daughter of Rickard Og, the best woman of her own kindred, or of any other family of her time, (and she had not the palm from Ruaidhri), for distributing various gifts to poets and ollamhs and men of all other arts. And at this invitation Mac Diarmada came, i.e. Aedh, son of Cormac Mac Diarmada; and O'Birn, i.e. Tadhg son of Cairbre; and O'Flannagain, i.e. Edmond son of William; and Mac Diarmada Ruadh i.e. Cathal, son of Maghnus; and the sons of Brian, son of Maghnus. The descendants of Conchobhar, son of Ruaidhri Buidhe came there, viz., Ferghal son of Conchobhar, and the sons of Donnchadh Dubh, son of Conchobhar (viz., Ruaidhri Buidhe, and Maelechlainn Donn, and Maghnus Caech). The sons of Conchobhar Og, son of Muirchertach, viz., Tadhg, and Ferghal, and Brian, came there. Aedh and Diarmaid, the sons of Cathal, son of Aedh, came there. Brian Caech and Art, the sons of Ruaidhri Glas, son of Brian Caech, came. The sons of William O'Maelenaigh, came, viz., the Gilla-dubh and Diarmaid, Tadhg and Maurice. Tomaltach, son of Aedh, son of Conchobhar, came there. The lord of Airtech came there, i.e. Cathal, the son of Tadhg Og Mac Diarmada Gall, accompanied by the chiefs of Airtech. There came Conn, the son of Brian, son of Eoghan O'Ruairc, and Tomaltach, the son of Tadhg Mac Diarmada, and Ruaidhri-na-dTolán Mac Diarmada, and the sons of Cathal Mac Diarmada and many more that cannot be mentioned; for the poets and ollaves of Erinn came to the seat of the hospitality and generosity of the province of Connacht, i.e. to the Rock of the smooth flowing Loch-Cé. And every one of them obtained the desire of his own mind and nature, according to his dignity and learning, on that illustrious, honourable festival, i.e. at Christmas. And let every one who reads this give a blessing on the souls of the humane couple we have mentioned above.

 
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