Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/120

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

blacksmith. His reign is generally regarded as the heroic period of ancient Irish history. In his youth he resided at the court of the King of Ulster, whence he was expelled with indignity at the instigation of Fergus Dubhdedach, the reigning King of Ireland. Cormac determined to be revenged, and to wrest the crown from him. He therefore sought the assistance of Tadg, grandson of Oilill Olum, and a person of great authority at Ely, promising him as much land as he could compass in his chariot the evening after the battle in which he should be victorious. By Tadg's advice, he also secured the assistance of Lugad Laga, a warrior (Tadg's granduncle) then living in retirement in a grim retreat at Aherlow. The battle of Crinna (near Mellifont) ensued between the forces of Cormac, assisted by Tadg and Lugad, on the one side, and Fergus and his two brothers, on the other. Cormac was victorious, and Tadg obtained the whole country between the Boyne and the Liffey, excepting Tara, as the reward of his assistance. Cormac's long reign of about forty years is stated to have been one of great splendour; his powerful militia under Finn, Tadg's grandson, preserved order at home, whilst his fleets swept the neighbouring seas. His queen, Eithne, bore him three sons and ten daughters. He built the chief palace at Tara, and founded seats of learning. Having been injured in the eye in battle, he was obliged, according to the custom of the time and country, to resign the sovereignty to his son. He spent much of the remainder of his life in the composition of those works on the topography and learning of Ireland which have perpetuated his name. His principal work, the Psalter of Tara, which contains, says a writer quoted by O'Curry, "synchronisms and genealogies, the succession of their kings and monarchs, their battles, their contests, and their antiquities, from the world's beginning down to that time, … is the origin and fountain of the historians of Erinn from that period down to this time." He incurred the hostility of the Druids by his Christian convictions, and refusal to join in their worship. By some he is accounted the third Christian convert in Ireland. Cormac was killed by a salmon bone sticking in his throat in 253, near Slane, where he had resided the latter part of his life. It was his desire to be buried at Rossnaree, not at Brugh, where all his pagan ancestors were interred. When his people attempted to bring his remains to Brugh, the flooding of the Boyne swept the coffin off and deposited it at Rossnaree, where he was buried. His queen Eithne, and concubine Ciarnuit, occupy a prominent position in Irish romance. 134 171

Cormac MacCullinan, Bishop, and afterwards King of Cashel, was born about 837. He is distinguished by his great work, the Psalter of Cashel, of which only fragments now remain. It must have existed, though in a dilapidated state, in 1454, as there is a copy of the portions then extant in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Cormac's Glossary was compiled therefrom. O'Curry says that "It must have been a historical and genealogical compilation of large size and great diversity." Towards the end of Cormac's life he became involved in wars with the Ard-Righ and minor kings. In 902 he fought two successful battles—one against the Ard-Righ, the other against the Connaught men. In the following year, 903, he fought another battle with the Ard-Righ, Flann Sinna, at Belach Mughna, three miles north of Kildare, of which Keating gives a full and interesting account. Cormac was so unwilling to engage in the expedition, that before starting he made his will and arranged for his successor. His forces were routed; he fell in the slaughter that ensued, and his head was cut off and brought to his victorious adversary, Flann. His remains were buried either at Cashel or Castledermot. O'Curry says: "He has always been regarded as one of the most distinguished scholars in Europe of his time. He was educated at Castledermot, and besides the knowledge which he is recorded to have acquired of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the British, Saxon, and Danish, and other northern languages, he is regarded as having been one of the greatest Gaedhelic scholars that ever lived." 261 Mr. Petrie considers that Cormac's Chapel at Cashel was not built by him, but by Cormac MacCartby, King of Munster, about 1130. 171 260 261 298 339

Cornwallis, Charles, Marquis Cornwallis, was born in London, 31st December 1738. He entered the army when young, and proved himself an able general, although obliged to capitulate with 8,000 men at Yorktown, in the United States, in 1781. His great administrative abilities, singleness of purpose, and sincerity, were shown while he was Governor-General of India, from 1786 to 1792. Early in 1798, he had declined the position of Commander-in-Chief in Ireland; but later on in the year, and as the insurrection became more serious, he was induced reluctantly to accept that post, combined with the Lord-Lieutenancy. He was appointed