Erard (Iorard, Urard) (d. 990), son of Cos, was celebrated as an important poet and as one of the principal learned men of pre-Norman Ireland. He seems to have spent his earlier career at Armagh: Geoffrey Keating (qv) styles him príomhfháidh Ard Mhacha (chief littérateur of Armagh). Certainly tradition ascribes to him a poem addressed (c.956) to Domnall Ua Néill (qv), king of Ailech, and a lament for Fergal (qv) (slain 966) grandson of Ruarc, king of Bréifne. Erard apparently gravitated into the realm of the Southern Uí Néill, becoming royal poet to the king of Tara, Máel-Sechnaill (qv) son of Domnall. It is believed that he contributed to the Fianaigecht tradition, with verses praising the valour of the Fianna warriors of old.
A late story preserved in the Annals of Clonmacnoise claims that Máel-Sechnaill rewarded Erard for his literary achievements by assigning him the revenues of Meath for one year; on expiry of this arrangement, Erard rashly challenged the king to a duel, but the latter, a champion warrior, generously spared the poet's life. It is said that, in his later years, he had a house at Clonmacnoise and was a daily church-goer. Certainly, his obit at 990 records that Erard (styled prím-éces Goídhel, chief poet of the Irish) died in penitence at Clonmacnoise.
Later tradition brought Erard into contact with Brian Bórama (qv) and the latter's son Donnchad (qv). He was supposed to have been present at the battle of Clontarf (1014); he was presented as a collaborator of Dál Cais royal poet Muirchertach Mac Liacc (qv); and he was even credited with an elegy on the death of Máel-Sechnaill. Presumably, this eleventh-century career was fabricated on the basis of later poems attributed to him. The fabrication prompted the Four Masters to place his death at 1023. The poems ascribed to Erard have been amply discussed.