"An account in the Book of Ballymote shows the ritual sanctions available to a poet if a king refused him his proper reward for a poem. After fasting on the land of the king, a council of ninety could be called to give a judgement, and if they decided that it would be a greater crime to prevent the satire or curse on the king, the poet could continue with his ritual action. At sunrise, he and six other poets would stand on a hilltop at the boundary of seven lands. Each poet would face his own land, the ollahm, or holder of the highest degree addressing the land of the king. With their backs against a hawthorn on the hilltop, a thorn from the tree and a slingstone in each poet’s hand, and the wind blowing from the north, each of them chanted into the stone and the thorn, the ollahm speaking before the others, then all the bards together. Each would then put his stone and thorn at the butt of the tree. If they were in the wrong, the earth of the tree would swallow them up. If their magic was powerful enough, the earth would swallow the king, his wife and his sons, his horses and his hounds, his arms and his dress."

–John Sharkey, Celtic Mysteries (1975)