Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIII

But Brian had other chieftains to deal with, of less amiable or more warlike propensities: the proud Hy-Nials of the north were long in yielding to his claims; but even these he at length subdued, compelling the Cinel-Eoghain to give him hostages, and carrying off the Lord of Cinel-Connaill bodily to his fortress at Kincora. Here he had assembled a sort of "happy family," consisting of refractory princes and knights, who, refusing hostages to keep the peace with each other, were obliged to submit to the royal will and pleasure, and at least to appear outwardly in harmony.

These precautionary measures, however summary, and the energetic determination of Brian to have peace kept either by sword or law, have given rise to the romantic ballad of the lady perambulating Erinn with a gold ring and white wand, and passing unmolested through its once belligerent kingdoms.

Brian now turned his attention to the state of religion and literature, restoring the churches and monasteries which had been plundered and burnt by the Danes. He is said also to have founded the churches of Killaloe and Iniscealtra, and to have built the round tower of Tomgrany, in the present county Clare. A gift of twenty ounces of gold to the church of Armagh,—a large donation for that period,—is also recorded amongst his good deeds.[7]


[7] Deeds.—The origin of surnames is also attributed to Brian Boroimhé, from a fragment in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, supposed to be a portion of a life of that monarch written by his poet Mac Liag. Surnames were generally introduced throughout Europe in the tenth and twelfth centuries. The Irish gave their names to their lands. In other countries patronymics were usually taken from the names of the hereditary possessions.