[THE MADNESS/FRENZY OF SWEENEY]
BUILE SUIBHNE (The Madness of Suibhne or Suibhne's Frenzy) is the tale of Suibhne (frequently anglicised as Sweeney or Sweeny), a legendary king of Dál nAraidi in Ulster in Ireland. The story is told in mixture of poetry and prose and exists in manuscripts dating from 1671–1674 but which was almost surely written and circulated in its modern form sometime in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. It is likely, from references in works going back to the tenth century, that some form of the tale of the mad king goes back to the first millennium.
Suibhne was the pagan king of Dál nAraidi in Ireland. The son of Colman, Suibhne was married to Eorann. In the story he is depicted as an unruly man with a terrible temper. It is his temper and the resulting consequences of his actions that causes Saint Ronan Finn to curse him. Near the end of the tale Suibhne finds spiritual salvation when he is taken in from the wilderness by Bishop Moling. On his deathbed, Suibhne is given the sacrament having become a Christian, the curse of Bishop Ronan having run its course.
In the legend, while St. Ronan marks the boundaries for a church, Suibhne hears the sound of his bell. When Suibhne learns that there will be a church established on his grounds, he is immediately angry and wishes to let St. Ronan know and expel him from the territory. His wife Eorann tries to keep him from leaving and grabs his cloak. He keeps on pulling, leaving his wife with the cloak and leaving himself to exit the house naked. When Suibhne arrives, St. Ronan is chanting the Office. This angers him enough to grab Ronan’s Psalter and throw it into the lake. As he drags the Saint, a messenger arrives to inform him of the Battle of Mag Rath. Suibhne leaves with the messenger, leaving St. Ronan behind. The very next day, the Psalter is returned to the Saint unharmed, thanks to an otter from the Lake. The prior events lead the Saint to curse Suibhne to walk the...