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Title: The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge
Author: Unknown
Language: English
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                        THE ANCIENT IRISH EPIC TALE

                              TÁIN BÓ CÚALNGE

                         "THE CUALNGE CATTLE-RAID"

              Now for the first time done entire into English
                 out of the Irish of the Book of Leinster
                          and Allied Manuscripts


                                JOSEPH DUNN
                   Professor at the Catholic University


 [Illustration: "Daig concechlabat fin hErend & Alban inn ainm sin, & bat
             lana beóil fer n-hErend & Alban din anmun sin."]
                        Book of Leinster, fo. 64a.

               "For the men of Erin and Alba shall hear that
            name (Cuchulain) and the mouths of the men of Erin
                   and Alba shall be full of that name."

                                DAVID NUTT
                  17 GRAPE STREET, NEW OXFORD STREET, W.C

                             To the Memory of

                                 MY MOTHER

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: FACSIMILE, PAGE 55--_from the Book of Leinster_.]

       *       *       *       *       *


         Preface, xi.
     I   The Pillow-talk, 1.
    II   The Occasion of the Táin, 5.
   III   The Rising-out of the Men of Connacht at Cruachan Ai, 10.
    IV   The Foretelling, 13.
     V   The Route of the Táin, 19.
    VI   The March of the Host, 21.
   VII   The Youthful Exploits of Cuchulain, 46.
   VIIa  The Slaying of the Smith's Hound by Cuchulain, 54.
   VIIb  The Taking of Arms by Cuchulain and
         The Slaying of the Three Sons of Necht Scenè, 60.
   VIIc  A Separate Version as far as the Slaying Of Orlam, 80.
  VIII   The Slaying of Orlam, 82.
  VIIIa  The Slaying of the Three MacArach, 85.
  VIIIb  The Combat of Lethan and Cuchulain, 86.
  VIIIc  The Killing of the Squirrel and of the Tame Bird, 88.
  VIIId  The Slaying of Lochè, 93.
  VIIIe  The Killing of Uala, 95.
  VIIIf  The Harrying of Cualnge, 99.
    IX   The Proposals, 104.
     X   The Violent Death of Etarcumul, 115.
    XI   The Slaying of Nathcrantail, 126.
   XII   The Finding of the Bull, 132.
   XIIa  The Death of Forgemen, 136.
   XIIb  The Slaying of Redg the Lampoonist, 137.
   XIIc  The Meeting of Cuchulain and Finnabair, 139.
   XIId  The Combat of Munremar and Curoi, 141.
   XIIe  The Slaughter of the Boy-troop, 143.
   XIIf  The Slaughter of the King's Bodyguard, 145.
  XIII   The Combat of Cûr with Cuchulain, 146.
   XIV   The Slaying of Ferbaeth, 150.
   XIVa  The Combat of Larinè MacNois, 155.
   XIVb  The Colloquy of the Morrigan and Cuchulain, 161.
    XV   The Combat of Loch and Cuchulain, and
         The Slaying of Loch son of Mofemis, 163.
   XVI   The Violation of the Agreement, 175.
   XVIa  The Healing of the Morrigan, 177.
  XVII   The Great Rout on the Plain of Murthemne, 180.
  XVIIa  The Slaughter of the Youths of Ulster, 184.
  XVIIb  The Scythed Chariot, 187.
  XVIIc  The Appearance of Cuchulain, 195.
  XVIId  Dubthach's Jealousy, 198.
 XVIII   The Slaying of Oengus son of Oenlam, 201.
 XVIIIa  The Misthrow at Belach Eoin, 202.
 XVIIIb  The Disguising of Tamon, 204.
   XIX   The Battle of Fergus and Cuchulain, 205.
   XIXa  The Head-place of Ferchu, 209.
   XIXb  Mann's Fight, 211.
   XIXc  The Combat of Calatin's Children, 213.
    XX   The Combat of Ferdiad and Cuchulain, 217.
   XXI   Cuchulain and the Rivers, 268.
  XXII   Cethern's Strait-fight, 269.
  XXIIa  Cethern's Bloody Wounds, 273.
 XXIII   The Tooth-fight of Fintan, 283.
 XXIIIa  The Red-Shame of Menn, 285.
 XXIIIb  The Accoutrement of the Charioteers, 287.
 XXIIIc  The White-fight of Rochad, 288.
 XXIIId  Iliach's Clump-fight, 292.
 XXIIIe  The Deer-stalking of Amargin in Taltiu, 295.
 XXIIIf  The Adventures of Curoi son of Darè, 296.
  XXIV   The Repeated Warning of Sualtaim, 298.
  XXIVa  The Agitation of Celtchar, 306.
   XXV   The Array of the Host, 309.
  XXVI   The Decision of the Battle, 345.
 XXVII   The Battle of Garech, 348.
 XXVIIa  The Muster of the Men of Erin, 351.
XXVIII   The Battle of the Bulls, 363.
  XXIX   The Account of the Brown Bull of Cualnge, 366.
         Index of Place and Personal Names, 371.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: FACSIMILE PAGE 55--_from Leabhar na h-Uidhri_.]

       *       *       *       *       *


The Gaelic Literature of Ireland is vast in extent and rich in quality. The
inedited manuscript materials, if published, would occupy several hundred
large volumes. Of this mass only a small portion has as yet been explored
by scholars. Nevertheless three saga-cycles stand out from the rest,
distinguished for their compass, age and literary worth, those, namely, of
the gods, of the demigod Cuchulain, and of Finn son of Cumhall. The
Cuchulain cycle, also called the Ulster cycle--from the home of its hero in
the North of Ireland--forms the core of this great mass of epic material.
It is also known as the cycle of Conchobar, the king round whom the Ulster
warriors mustered, and, finally, it has been called the Red Branch Cycle
from the name of the banqueting hall at Emain Macha in Ulster.

Only a few of the hundred or more tales which once belonged to this cycle
have survived. There are some dozen in particular, technically known as
_Remscéla_ or "Foretales," because they lead up to and explain the great
Táin, the Táin Bó Cúalnge, "The Cualnge Cattle-raid," the Iliad of Ireland,
as it has been called, the queen of Irish epic tales, and the wildest and
most fascinating saga-tale, not only of the entire Celtic world, but even
of all western Europe.

The mediaeval Irish scholars catalogued their native literature under
several heads, probably as an aid to the memory of the professional poets
or story-tellers whose stock-in-trade it was, and to one of these divisions
they gave the name _Táinte_, plural of _Táin_. By this term, which is most
often followed by the genitive plural _bó_, "cows," they meant "a driving,"
or "a reaving," or even "a drove" or "herd" of cattle. It is only by
extension of meaning that this title is applied to the Táin Bó Cúalnge, the
most famous representative of the class, for it is not, strictly speaking,
with the driving of cattle that it deals but with that of the Brown Bull of
Cualnge. But, since to carry off the bull implies the carrying off of the
herd of which he was the head, and as the "Brown" is always represented as
accompanied by his fifty heifers, there were sufficient grounds for putting
the Brown Bull Quest in the class of Cow-spoils.

The prominence accorded to this class of stories in the early literature of
Ireland is not to be wondered at when the economic situation of the country
and the stage of civilization of which they are the faithful mirror is
borne in mind.[1] Since all wars are waged for gain, and since among the
Irish, who are still very much a nation of cattle raisers, cattle was the
chief article of wealth and measure of value,[2] so marauding expeditions
from one district into another for cattle must have been of frequent
occurrence, just as among the North American Indians tribal wars used to be
waged for the acquisition of horses. That this had been a common practice
among their kinsmen on the Continent also we learn from Caesar's account of
the Germans (and Celts?) who, he says, practised warfare not only for a
means of subsistence but also for exercising their warriors. How long-lived
the custom has been amongst the Gaelic Celts, as an occupation or as a
pastime, is evident not only from the plundering incursions or "creaghs"[3]
as they are called in the Highlands and described by Scott in _Waverley_
and _The Fair Maid of Perth_, but also from the "cattle-drives" which have
been resorted to in our own day in Ireland, though these latter had a
different motive than plunder. As has been observed by Sir Henry Sumner
Maine, Lord Macaulay was mistaken in ascribing this custom to "some native
vice of Irish character," for, as every student of ancient Ireland may
perceive, it is rather to be regarded as "a survival, an ancient and
inveterate habit" of the race.

One of these many Cattle-preys was the Táin Bó Cúalnge,[4] which, there can
be little doubt, had behind it no mere myth but some kernel of actual
fact. Its historical basis is that a Connacht chieftain and his lady went
to war with Ulster about a drove of cattle. The importance of a racial
struggle between the north-east province and the remaining four grand
provinces of Ireland cannot be ascribed to it. There is, it is true, strong
evidence to show that two chief centres, political, if not cultural and
national, existed at the time of the Táin in Ireland, Cruachan Ai, near the
present Rathcroghan in Connacht, and Emain Macha, the Navan Fort, two miles
west of Armagh in Ulster, and it is with the friendly or hostile relations
of these two that the Ultonian cycle of tales deals. Ulster, or, more
precisely, the eastern portion of the Province, was the scene of all the
Cattle-raids, and there is a degree of truth in the couplet,--

    "Leinster for breeding, And Ulster for reaving;
    Munster for reading, And Connacht for thieving."

But there are no indications of a racial clash or war of tribes. With the
exception of the Oghamic writings inscribed on the pillar-stones by
Cuchulain, which seem to require interpretation to the men of Connacht by
Ulstermen, the description of the warriors mustered by the Connacht warrior
queen and those gathered round King Conchobar of Ulster accord quite

The Táin Bó Cúalnge is the work not of any one man but of a corporation of
artists known as _filid_. The author of the Táin in its present state,
whoever he may have been, was a strong partisan of Ulster and never misses
an opportunity of flattering the pride of her chieftains. Later a kind of
reaction against the pre-eminence given to Ulster and the glorification of
its hero sets in, and a group of stories arises in which the war takes a
different end and Cuchulain is shown to disadvantage, finally to fall at
the hands of a Munster champion. It is to this southern province that the
saga-cycle which followed the Cuchulain at an interval of two hundred years
belongs, namely, the Fenian saga,--the saga of Finn son of Cumhall, which
still flourishes among the Gaelic speakers of Ireland and Scotland, while
the Cuchulain stories have almost died out among them. The mingling of the
two sagas is the work of the eighteenth-century Scots Lowlander, James

The Táin Bó Cúalnge is one of the most precious monuments of the world's
literature, both because of the poetic worth it evidences at an early stage
of civilization, and for the light it throws on the life of the people
among whom it originated and that of their ancestors centuries earlier. It
is not less valuable and curious because it shows us the earlier stages of
an epic--an epic in the making--which it does better perhaps than any other
work in literature. Ireland had at hand all the materials for a great
national epic, a wealth of saga-material replete with interesting episodes,
picturesque and dramatic incidents and strongly defined personages, yet she
never found her Homer, a gifted poet to embrace her entire literary wealth,
to piece the disjointed fragments together, smooth the asperities and hand
down to posterity the finished epic of the Celtic world, superior, perhaps,
to the Iliad or the Odyssey. What has come down to us is "a sort of
patchwork epic," as Prescott called the Ballads of the Cid, a popular
epopee in all its native roughness, wild phantasy and extravagance of deed
and description as it developed during successive generations. It resembles
the frame of some huge ship left unfinished by the builders on the beach
and covered with shells and drift from the sea of Celtic tradition. From
the historical standpoint, however, and as a picture of the old barbaric
Celtic culture, and as a pure expression of elemental passion, it is of
more importance to have the genuine tradition as it developed amongst the
people, unvarnished by poetic art and uninfluenced by the example of older
and alien societies.

According to the Chronicles of Ireland, as formulated in the Annals of
Tigernach,[5] who died in 1088, King Conchobar of Ulster began to reign in
the year 30 B.C., and he is said to have died of grief at the news that
Christ had been crucified. His reign therefore lasted about sixty
years. Cuchulain died in the year 39 A.D. in the twenty-seventh year of
his age, as we learn from the following entry: "The death of Cuchulain, the
bravest hero of the Irish, by Lugaid son of Three Hounds, king of Munster,
and by Erc, king of Tara, son of Carbre Niafer, and by the three sons of
Calatin of Connacht. Seven years was his age when he assumed arms,
seventeen was his age when he followed the Driving of the Kine of Cualnge,
but twenty-seven years was his age when he died."[6]

A very different account is given in the manuscript known as H. 3. 17,
Trinity College, Dublin, quoted by O'Curry in his _Manuscript Materials_,
page 508. The passage concludes with the statement: "So that the year of
the Táin was the fifty-ninth year of Cuchulain's age, from the night of his
birth to the night of his death." The record first quoted, however, is
partly corroborated by the following passage which I translate from the
Book of Ballymote, facsimilé edition, page 13, col. a, lines 9-21: "In the
fourteenth year of the reign of Conairè (killed in 40 B.C.) and of
Conchobar, the Blessed Virgin was born. At that time Cuchulain had
completed thirteen years; and in the fourth year after the birth of Mary,
the expedition of the Kine of Cualnge took place ... that is, in the
eighteenth year of the reign of Conairè. Cuchulain had completed his
seventeenth year at that time. That is, it was in the thirty-second year of
the reign of Octavius Augustus that the same expedition took place. Eight
years after the Táin Bó Cúalnge, Christ was born, and Mary had completed
twelve years then, and that was in the fortieth year of the reign of
Octavius Augustus; and in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Conairè and
Conchobar, and in the second year after the birth of Christ, Cuchulain
died. And twenty-seven years was Cuchulain's age at that time."

These apparent synchronisms, of course, may only rest upon the imagination
of the Christian annalists of Ireland, who hoped to exalt their ancient
rulers and heroes by bringing them into relation with and even making them
participate in the events of the life of the Saviour. But in placing the
date of the expedition of the Táin at about the beginning of the Christian
era, Irish tradition is undoubtedly correct, as appears from the character
of the civilization depicted in the Ulster tales, which corresponds in a
remarkable degree with what authors of antiquity have recorded of the Celts
and with the character of the age which archaeologists call "la Tène," or
"Late Celtic," which terminates at the beginning of the first century of
our era. Oral tradition was perhaps occupied for five hundred years working
over and developing the story of the Táin, and by the close of the fifth
century the saga to which it belonged was substantially the one we have
now. The text of the tale must have been completed by the first half of the
seventh century, and, as we shall see, its oldest extant version, the Book
of the Dun, dates from about the year 1100.

But, whatever may be the precise dates of these events, which we are not in
a position to determine more accurately, the composition of the Táin
Bó Cúalnge antedates by a considerable margin the epic tales of the
Anglo-Saxons, the Scandinavians, the Franks and the Germans. It is the
oldest epic tale of western Europe, and it and the cycle of tales to which
it belongs form "the oldest existing literature of any of the peoples to
the north of the Alps."[7] The deeds it recounts belong to the heroic age
of Ireland three hundred years before the introduction of Christianity into
the island, and its spirit never ceased to remain markedly pagan. The
mythology that permeates it is one of the most primitive manifestations of
the personification of the natural forces which the Celts worshipped. Its
historical background, social organization, chivalry, mood and thought and
its heroic ideal are to a large extent, and with perhaps some pre-Aryan
survivals, not only those of the insular Celts of two thousand years ago,
but also of the important and wide-spread Celtic race with whom Caesar
fought and who in an earlier period had sacked Rome and made themselves
feared even in Greece and Asia Minor.

The following is the Argument of the Táin Bó Cúalnge, which, for the sake
of convenience, is here divided into sections:

I. The Prologue

One night at the palace of Cruachan in Connacht, a dispute arose between
Queen Medb, the sometime wife of Conchobar, king of Ulster, and her consort
Ailill, as to the amount of their respective possessions. It may be
remarked in passing that in those days in Ireland, married women retained
their private fortune independent of their husbands, as well as the dowry
secured to them in marriage. To procure the evidence of their wealth, the
royal pair sent messengers to assemble all their chattels which, on
comparison, were found to be equal, excepting only that among Ailill's kine
was a lordly bull called Finnbennach, "the Whitehorned," whose match was
not to be found in the herds of the queen.

II. The Embassage to Darè and the Occasion of the Táin

As we might expect, Medb was chagrined at the discovery. Now her herald
macRoth had told her that Darè macFiachna, a landowner of Cualnge, a
district in the territory of her former husband, possessed an even more
wonderful bull than Ailill's, called Donn Cualnge, "the Brown Bull of
Cualnge." So she despatched macRoth to Darè to pray for the loan of the

Darè received the queen's messengers hospitably and readily granted her
request, but in the course of the entertainment, one of the messengers,
deep in his cups, spoke against Darè, and he, hearing this, withdrew his
promise and swore that he would never hand over the Brown Bull of Cualnge.

III. The Gathering of Medb's Forces

The impetuous queen, enraged at the failure of her mission, immediately
mustered a formidable army, composed not only of her Connachtmen but also
of allies from all parts of Ireland, wherewith to undertake the invasion of
Ulster. On her side were the Ulster chieftains who had gone into exile into
Connacht after the treacherous slaughter of the sons of Usnech by King
Conchobar of Ulster. Chief among them was Fergus, who, moreover, had a
personal grievance against Conchobar. For, while Fergus was king of Ulster,
he had courted the widow Ness and, in order to win her, promised to
abdicate for the term of one year in favour of her son Conchobar. But when
the term had elapsed, the youth refused to relinquish the throne, and
Fergus in anger entered the service of Medb of Connacht. There he was
loaded with favours, became the counsellor of the realm and, as appears
from more than one allusion in the tale, the more than friend of the wife
of King Ailill.

The four leagued provinces of Ireland being gathered at Cruachan, the
guidance of the host was entrusted to Fergus, because he was acquainted
with the province of Ulster through which they were to march, and at
the beginning of winter--a point emphasized by the exponents of the
sun-theory--the mighty host, including in its ranks the king and queen and
some of the greatest warriors of Ireland, with the princess Finnabair as a
lure, set forth on the raid into Ulster.

They crossed the Shannon near Athlone and, marching through the province of
Meath, arrived at the borders of Cualnge. Fortunately for the invaders, the
expedition took place while the Ulstermen lay prostrate in their _cess_, or
"Pains," a mysterious state of debility or torpor which was inflicted on
them periodically in consequence of an ancient curse laid upon Conchobar
and the warriors of Ulster as a punishment for a wrong done to the goddess
Macha. This strange malady, resembling the _couvade_ among certain savage
nations, ordinarily lasted five days and four nights, but on this occasion
the Ulstermen were prostrate from the beginning of November till the
beginning of February. During all that time the burden of defending the
province fell on the shoulders of the youthful champion Cuchulain, who had
in his particular charge the plain of Murthemne, the nearest district to
Cualnge, the goal of the expedition. For Cuchulain and his father Sualtaim
were alone exempt from the curse and the "Pains" which had befallen the
remainder of the champions of Ulster.

IV. The Youthful Exploits of Cuchulain

The Connacht host had not proceeded far when they came upon evidence of
some mighty force that opposed them. In answer to the inquiries of Ailill
and Medb, Fergus explains that it is Cuchulain who disputes their further
advance, and, as evidence of the superhuman strength and prowess of the
Ulster youth, then in the seventeenth year of his age, the Ulster exiles
recount the mighty deeds he had performed in his boyhood, chief among which
is the tale according to which, as eric for the killing of the hound of
Culann the Smith, the boy-hero Setanta assumed the station and the name
which ever after clung to him of Cuchulain, "the Hound of Culann."

V. The Single Combats of Cuchulain

Cuchulain agrees to allow the Connacht host to continue their march on
condition that every day they send one of their champions to meet him in
single combat. When he shall have killed his opponent, the host shall halt
and pitch camp until the following morning. Medb agrees to abide by these
terms. In each of the contests which ensue, the heroic youth is victorious
and slays many of the most celebrated warriors on the side of Connacht.
The severest of all these single combats was the one in which he had as
opponent his former friend and foster-brother Ferdiad. At the end of a
four days' battle, in which both adversaries exhibited astounding deeds of
valour, Ferdiad fell by the hands of Cuchulain.

Impatient at these delays, Medb broke the sacred laws of ancient Irish
chivalry and led her army into Ulster, overrunning the province, pillaging
and burning as she went, even up to the walls of Emain Macha, the residence
of Conchobar, and finally took possession of the Brown Bull of Cualnge.

VI. The Gathering of the Ulstermen and the Final Battle of the Táin

By this time King Conchobar and his warriors have come out of their
debility and summoned their forces to an eminence in Slane of Meath. The
great gathering of the Ulstermen is reported to Medb by her trusty herald
macRoth, and from his description of the leaders and their troops, their
exiled countryman Fergus designates them to the nobles of Connacht. In the
final battle Medb's army is repulsed and retreats in flight into Connacht.
Thus each host has had its share of the fortunes of war: Medb has laid
waste the lands of her divorced husband and carried off the Brown Bull of
Cualnge, the prize of war, while on the other hand, Conchobar has won the
victory in the great battle of Garech and Ilgarech.

VII. The End of the two Bulls

On the way back to Connacht, the Brown Bull of Cualnge emitted such
terrible bellowings that they reached the ears of the Whitehorned remaining
at home in his stall in Cruachan, whence he rushed at full speed to attack
the other. A furious battle took place between the bulls, but the Brown was
the stronger, and raising his rival on his horns he shook the Whitehorned
into fragments over all Ireland. He then returned in fury to Ulster, and in
his wild rage dashed his head against a rock and was killed.

The Táin Bó Cúalnge has been preserved, more or less complete, in a score
of manuscripts ranging in date from the beginning of the twelfth to the
middle of the nineteenth century. There probably existed other manuscripts
containing not only the Táin as we have it but even episodes now wanting in
it. All of the extant manuscripts go back to versions which date from the
seventh century or earlier. No manuscript of the Táin is wholly in the
language of the time when it was copied, but, under the cloak of the
contemporaneous orthography, contains forms and words so obsolete that they
were not understood by the copyist, so that glossaries had to be compiled
to explain them.

It is by a singular good fortune that this, the greatest of all the epic
tales of the Irish, has been handed down to our day in the two most ancient
and, for that reason, most precious of the great Middle Irish collections
of miscellaneous contents known as the _Leabhar na hUidhre_, "the Book of
The Dun (Cow)," and the Book of Leinster. The former and older of these
vellum manuscripts (abbreviated LU.) is kept in the Library of the Royal
Irish Academy at Dublin. It must have been written about the beginning of
the twelfth century, for its compiler and writer, Moelmuire macCeilechair
(Kelleher), is known to have been slain at Clonmacnois in the year 1106;
some of its linguistic forms, however, are as old as the eighth century
glosses. Unfortunately, LU.'s account of the Táin is incomplete at the
beginning and the end, but the latter portion is made good by the closely
related, though independent, version contained in the manuscript known as
the Yellow Book of Lecan (abbreviated YBL.). This manuscript was written
about the year 1391 and it is also kept in Dublin in the Library of Trinity
College. To the same group as LU. and YBL., which for the sake of
convenience we may call version A, belong also the British Museum MSS.,
Egerton 1782, a large fragment, and Egerton 114, both dating from the
fifteenth or sixteenth century.

Version B comprises the closely related accounts of the Táin as contained
in the Book of Leinster (abbreviated LL.) and the following MSS.: Stowe
984 (Royal Irish Academy), written in the year 1633 and giving, except for
the loss of a leaf, a complete story of the Táin; H. 1. 13 (Trinity
College, Dublin), written in the year 1745 and giving the Táin entire;
Additional 18748 (abbreviated Add.), British Museum, copied in the year
1800 from a 1730 original; Egerton 209 and Egerton 106 (British Museum),
both fragments and dating from the eighteenth century. Fragments of a
modern version are also found in MS. LIX, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.

To version C belong only fragments: H. 2. 17 (Trinity College, Dublin),
dating from the end of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth
century; the almost identical Egerton 93 (British Museum), consisting of
only ten leaves and dating from nearly a century later, and H. 2. 12
(Trinity College, Dublin), consisting of only two pages.[8]

The manuscripts belonging to each of these versions, A, B, and C, have
sufficient traits in common to place them in a group by themselves. The
question of the relationship of these manuscripts to one another and of the
character of the suppositional archetype from which they are all descended
is a most intricate one and one which has given rise to considerable
discussion. The question still awaits a definite answer, which may never be
forthcoming, because of the disappearance not only of the first draft of
the Táin, but also of that of some of its later redactions. We must not
overlook the possibility, either, of an otherwise faithful copyist having
inserted in the text before him a passage, or even an entire episode, of
his own fabrication. This, no doubt, happened not infrequently, especially
in the earlier period of the copying of Irish manuscripts, and a single
insertion of this kind, or the omission, intentionally or by oversight, of
a part of the original from the copy might, it will easily be seen, lead
one to conclude that there once existed a form of the story which as a
matter of fact never existed.

The version of the Táin which I have chosen as the basis for my translation
is the one found in the Book of Leinster (_Leabhar Laighneach_), a
voluminous vellum manuscript sometime called the Book of Glendalough and
now kept in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, catalogue number
H. 2. 18. Only a part of the original book remains. It dates from about the
year 1150. This date is established by two entries in the manuscript
itself: "Aed son of Crimthann (Hugh macGriffin) hath written this book and
out of many books hath he compiled it" (facsimilé, at the bottom of page
313). Who this Aed was will be clear from the other entry. It appears that
he had lent the manuscript while still unfinished to Finn macGorman, who
was Bishop of Kildare from 1148 and died in the year 1160, and who on
returning the book wrote in it the following laudatory note in Irish to
Aed: "(Life) and health from Finn, the Bishop of Kildare, to Aed son of
Crimthann, tutor of the chief king (i.e. of King Dermod macMurrogh, the
infamous prince who half a century later invited Strongbow and the Normans
to come over from Wales to Ireland) of Mug Nuadat's Half (i.e. of Leinster
and Munster), and successor of Colum son of Crimthann (this Colum was abbot
of Tir da ghlass the modern Terryglas on the shore of Lough Derg, in the
County Tipperary--and died in the year 548), and chief historian of
Leinster in respect of wisdom and intelligence, and cultivation of books,
science and learning. And let the conclusion of this little tale (i.e. the
story of Ailill Aulom son of Mug Nuadat, the beginning of which was
contained in the book which Finn returns) be written for me accurately by
thee, O cunning Aed, thou man of the sparkling intellect. May it be long
before we are without thee. My desire is that thou shouldst always be with
us. And let macLonan's Songbook be given to me, that I may understand the
sense of the poems that are in it. _Et vale in Christo._"[9]

It would seem from another note in the manuscript[10] that the Book of
Leinster afterwards belonged to some admirer of King Dermod, for he wrote:
"O Mary! Great was the deed that was done in Ireland this day, the kalends
of August (1166)--Dermod, son of Donnoch macMurrogh, King of Leinster and
of the (Dublin) Danes to be banished by the men of Ireland over the sea
eastwards. Woe, woe is me, O Lord, what shall I do!"[11]

My reason for founding the translation on the LL. version, in spite of the
fact that its composition is posterior by half a century to that of LU.,
was not merely out of respect for the injunction of the scribe of the _ne
varietur_ and to merit his blessing (page 369), but also because LL.'s is
the oldest _complete_ version of the Táin extant. Though as a rule (and as
is easily discernible from a comparison of LU. and LL.), the shorter,
terser and cruder the form of a tale is, the more primitive it is, yet it
is not always the oldest preserved form of a work that represents the
most ancient form of the story. Indeed, it is not at all improbable
that LL. contains elements which represent a tradition antedating the
composition of LU. At all events, LL. has these strong points in its
favour, that, of all the versions, it is the most uniform and consistent,
the most artistically arranged, the one with most colour and imagination,
and the one which lends itself most readily to translation, both in itself
and because of the convenient Irish text provided by Professor Windisch's
edition. In order to present the Táin in its completest form, however, I
have adopted the novel plan of incorporating in the LL. account the
translations of what are known as conflate readings. These, as a rule, I
have taken from no manuscript that does not demonstrably go back to a
twelfth or earlier century redaction. Some of these additions consist of
but a single word: others extend over several pages. This dovetailing could
not always be accomplished with perfect accuracy, but no variants have been
added that do not cohere with the context or destroy the continuity of the
story. Whatever slight inconsistencies there may be in the accounts of
single episodes, they are outweighed, in my opinion, by the value and
interest of the additions. In all cases, however, the reader can control
the translation by means of the foot-notes which indicate the sources and
distinguish the accretions from the basic text. The numerous passages in
which Eg. 1782 agrees with LU. and YBL. have not all been marked. The
asterisk shows the beginning of each fresh page in the lithographic
facsimilé of LL., and the numbers following "W" in the upper left hand
margin show the corresponding lines in the edition of the Irish text by

       *       *       *       *       *

In general, I believe it should be the aim of a translator to give a
faithful rather than a literal version of his original. But, owing to the
fact that so little of Celtic scholarship has filtered down even to the
upper strata of the educated public and to the additional fact that the
subject matter is so incongruous to English thought, the first object of
the translator from the Old Irish must continue to be, for some time to
come, rather exactness in rendering than elegance, even at the risk of the
translation appearing laboured and puerile. This should not, however, be
carried to the extent of distorting his own idiom in order to imitate the
idiomatic turns and expressions of the original. In this translation, I
have endeavoured to keep as close to the sense and the literary form of the
original as possible, but when there is conflict between the two
desiderata, I have not hesitated to give the first the preference. I have
also made use of a deliberately archaic English as, in my opinion,
harmonizing better with the subject. It means much to the reader of the
translation of an Old Irish text to have the atmosphere of the original
transferred as perfectly as may be, and this end is attained by preserving
its archaisms and quaintness of phrase, its repetitions and inherent
crudities and even, without suppression or attenuation, the grossness of
speech of our less prudish ancestors, which is also a mark of certain
primitive habits of life but which an over-fastidious translator through
delicacy of feeling might wish to omit. These side-lights on the
semi-barbaric setting of the Old Irish sagas are of scarcely less interest
and value than the literature itself.

The Táin Bó Cúalnge, like most of the Irish saga-tales as they have come
down to us in their Middle Irish dress, is chiefly in prose, but
interspersed with verse. The verse-structure is very intricate and is
mostly in strophic form composed of verses of fixed syllabic length, rhymed
and richly furnished with alliteration. There is a third form of speech
which is neither prose nor verse, but partakes of the character of both, a
sort of irregular, rhymeless verse, without strophic division and
exceedingly rich in alliteration, internal rhyme and assonance. This kind
of speech, resembling in a way the dithyrambic passages in the Old
Testament, was known to the native Irish scholars as _rosc_ and it is
usually marked in the manuscripts by the abbreviation _R_. It was used in
short, impetuous outbursts on occasions of triumph or mourning.

While, on the whole, I believe the student will feel himself safer with a
prose translation of a poem than with one in verse, it has seemed to me
that a uniform translation of the Táin Bó Cúalnge in prose would destroy
one of its special characteristics, which is that in it both prose and
verse are mingled. It was not in my power, however, to reproduce at once
closely and clearly the metrical schemes and the rich musical quality of
the Irish and at the same time compress within the compass of the Irish
measure such an analytic language as English, which has to express by means
of auxiliaries what is accomplished in Early Irish by inflection. But I
hope to have accomplished the main object of distinguishing the verse from
the prose without sacrifice of the thought by the simple device of turning
the verse-passages into lines of the same syllabic length as those of the
original--which is most often the normal seven-syllable line--but without
any attempt at imitating the rhyme-system or alliteration.

In order not to swell the volume of the book, the notes have been reduced
to the indispensable minimum, reserving the commentary and the apparatus of
illustrative material for another volume, which we hope some day to be able
to issue, wherein more definitely critical questions can be discussed.
There are a few Irish words which have been retained in the translation and
which require a word of explanation: The Old Irish _geis_ (later, also
_geas_[12]; plural _geasa_) has as much right to a place in the English
vocabulary as the Polynesian word _tabu_, by which it is often translated.
It is sometimes Englished "injunction," "condition," "prohibition," "bond,"
"ban," "charm," "magical decree," or translated by the Scots-Gaelic
"spells," none of which, however, expresses the idea which the word had
according to the ancient laws of Ireland. It was an adjuration by the
honour of a man, and was either positive or negative. The person adjured
was either compelled or made in duty bound to do a certain thing, or, more
commonly, was prohibited from doing it. The Old Irish _gilla_ is often
translated "vassal," "youth," "boy," "fellow," "messenger," "servant,"
"page," "squire" and "guide," but these words bear false connotations for
the society of the time, as does the Anglicised form of the word, "gillie,"
which smacks of modern sport. It meant originally a youth in the third of
the six ages of man. Compare the sense of the word _varlet_ or _valet_ in
English, which was once "a more honourable title; for all young gentlemen,
untill they come to be eighteen years of age, were termed so" (Cotgrave),
and of the same word in Old French, which was "un jeune homme de condition
honorable" (J. Loth, _Les Mabinogion_, I, page 40, note). A _liss_ or
_rath_ is a fortified place enclosed by a circular mound or trench, or
both. A _dûn_ is a fortified residence surrounded by an earthen rampart.
In the case of names of places and persons, I have thought it best to
adhere as closely as possible to the spellings used in the LL. manuscript
itself. It is of the utmost importance to get the names of Irish places and
of Irish heroes correctly determined and to discard their English corrupted
spellings. There are certain barbarisms, however, such as Slane (Slemain),
Boyne (Boann), and perhaps even Cooley (Cualnge), which have been
stereotyped in their English dress and nothing is to be gained by reforming
them. The forms _Erin_ (dative of _Eriu_, the genuine and poetic name of
the island) and _Alba_ have been retained throughout instead of the hybrids
"Ireland" and "Scotland." Final _e_ is occasionally marked with a grave
(_e.g._ Manè, Darè) to show that it is not silent as it often is in

I quite perceive that I have not always succeeded in reproducing the
precise shade of meaning of words certain of which had become antiquated
and even unintelligible to the native scholars of the later Middle Irish
period themselves. This is especially true of the passages in _rosc_, which
are fortunately not numerous and which were probably intentionally made as
obscure and allusive as possible, the object being, perhaps, as much the
music of the words as the sense. Indeed, in some cases, I have considered
myself fortunate if I have succeeded in getting their mere drift. No one
takes to heart more than the present writer the truth of Zimmer's remark,
that "it needs no great courage to affirm that _not one_ of the living
Celtic scholars, _with_ all the aids at their disposal, possesses such a
ready understanding of the contents of, for example, the most important Old
Irish saga-text, "The Cualnge Cattle-raid," as was required thirty or more
years ago in Germany of a good Gymnasium graduate in the matter of the
Homeric poems and _without_ aids of any kind."[13] However, in spite of its
defects, I trust I have not incurred the censure of Don Quijote[14] by
doing what he accuses bad translators of and shown the wrong side of the
tapestry, thereby obscuring the beauty and exactness of the work, and I
venture to hope that my translation may prove of service in leading
students to take an interest in the language and literature of Ireland.


(Our Bibliography has no Pretension at being Complete)

The Táin has been analysed by J.T. Gilbert, in the facsimilé edition of
LU., pages xvi-xviii, based on O'Curry's unpublished account written about
1853; by Eugene O'Curry in his "Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of
Ancient Irish History," pages 28-40, Dublin, 1861; by John Rhys in his
"Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as illustrated by Celtic
Heathendom," page 136, the Hibbert Lectures, London, 1898; by J.A.
MacCulloch in "The Religion of the Ancient Celts," pages 127 and 141,
London, 1911; in the Celtic Magazine, vol. xiii, pages 427-430, Inverness,
1888; by Don. Mackinnon in the Celtic Review, vol. iv, page 92, Edinburgh,
1907-8; by H. d'Arbois de Jubainville, in Bibliothèque de l'école des
chartes, tome xl, pages 148-150, Paris, 1879; by Bryan O'Looney, in the
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Second Series, vol. I, pages
242-248, Dublin, 1879; by H. Lichtenberger, "Le Poème et la Légende des
Nibelungen," pages 432-434, Paris, 1891; by Eleanor Hull, in "A Text Book
of Irish Literature," Pt. I, p. 24, Dublin and London, 1906; by Victor
Tourneur, "La Formation du Táin Bó Cúalnge," in Mélanges Godefroid Kurth,
II, 413-424, Liège, 1908; by E.C. Quiggin, in the Encyclopedia Britannica,
11th edition, page 626.

The text of the Táin is found in whole or in part in the facsimilé reprints
published by the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 1870 and following; viz.: the
Book of Leinster, folios 53b-104b; the Book of the Dun Cow, folios 55a-82b,
and the Yellow Book of Lecan, folios 17a.-53a; in "Die Altirische
Heldensage, Táin Bó Cúalnge, herausgegeben von Ernst Windisch, Irische
Texte, Extraband, Leipzig, 1905"; from LU. and YBL., by John Strachan and
J.G. O'Keeffe, as a supplement to Ériu, vol. i, Dublin, 1904 and fol.; our
references to LU. and YBL. are from this edition as far as it appeared;
from that point, the references to YBL. are to the pages of the facsimilé
edition; the LU. text of several passages also is given by John Strachan in
his "Stories from the Tain," which first appeared in Irisleabhar na
Gaedhilge ("The Gaelic Journal"), Dublin; reprinted, London and Dublin,
1908; Max Nettlau, "The Fer Diad Episode of the Tain Bo Cuailnge," Revue
Celtique, tome x, pages 330-346, tome xi, pages 23-32, 318-343; "The
Fragment of the Tain Bo Cuailnge in MS. Egerton 93," Revue Celtique, tome
xiv, pages 254-266, tome xv, pages 62-78, 198-208; R. Thurneysen, "Táin Bó
Cúailghni nach H. 2. 17," Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, Bd. viii,
S. 525-554; E. Windisch, "Táin Bó Cúailnge nach der Handschrift Egerton
1782," Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, Bd. ix, S. 121-158. The text
of "The Fight at the Ford," from the Murphy MS. 103 (written about 1760),
is printed in Irisleabhar Muighe Nuadhad, Dublin, 1911, pp. 84-90.

The Táin has been translated by Bryan O'Looney in a manuscript entitled
"Tain Bo Cualnge. Translated from the original vellum manuscript known as
the Book of Leinster, in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. To which
are added the ancient Prologues, Prefaces, and the Pretales or Stories,
Adventures which preceded the principal Expedition or Tain, from various
vellum MSS. in the Libraries of Trinity College and the Royal Irish
Academy, Dublin, 1872." (A good translation, for its time. For O'Looney's
works on the Táin, see the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Second
Series, Vol. i, No. 11, Polite Literature and Antiquities, Dublin, 1875;
for W.J. Hennessy's, see The Academy, No. 873, Lee, "Dictionary of National
Biography," xxv, 1891, pages 424-425, and V. Tourneur, "Esquisse d'une
histoire des études celtiques," page 90, note 5.) The Royal Irish Academy
contains another manuscript translation of the Táin (24, M, 39), by John
O'Daly, 1857. It is a wretched translation. In one place, O'Daly speaks of
William Rily as the translator. L. Winifred Faraday's "The Cattle-Raid of
Cualnge," London, 1904, is based on LU. and YBL. Two copies of a complete
translation of the LL. text dating from about 1850 is in the possession
of John Quinn, Esq., of New York City. H. d'Arbois de Jubainville
translated the Táin from the LL. text, but with many omissions: "Enlèvement
[du Taureau Divin et] des Vaches de Cooley," Revue Celtique, tomes
xxviii-xxxii, Paris, 1907 and fl. Eleanor Hull's "The Cuchullin Saga,"
London, 1898, contains (pages 111-227) an analysis of the Táin and a
translation by Standish H. O'Grady of portions of the Add. 18748 text. "The
Táin, An Irish Epic told in English Verse," by Mary A. Hutton, Dublin,
1907, and Lady Augusta Gregory's, "Cuchulain of Muirthemne," London, 1903,
are paraphrases. The episode "The Boyish Feats of Cuchulinn" was translated
by Eugene O'Curry, "On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish,"
Vol. i, Introduction, pages 359-366, and the episode "The Fight of Ferdiad
and Cuchulaind," was translated by W.K. Sullivan, ibid., Vol. ii, Lectures,
Vol. i, Appendix, pages 413-463.

Important studies on the Táin have come from the pen of Heinrich Zimmer:
"Über den compilatorischen Charakter der irischen Sagentexte im sogenannten
Lebor na hUidre," Kuhn's Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung, Bd.
xxviii, 1887, pages 417-689, and especially pages 426-554; "Keltische
Beiträge," Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum und deutsche Litteratur,
Vol. xxxii, 1888, pages 196-334; "Beiträge zur Erklärung irischer
Sagentexte," Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie, Bd. i, pages 74-101, and
Bd. iii, pages 285-303. See also, William Ridgeway, "The Date of the first
Shaping of the Cuchulainn Saga," Oxford, 1907; H. d'Arbois de Jubainville,
"Étude sur le Táin Bó Cúalnge," Revue Celtique, tome xxviii, 1907, pages
17-40; Alfred Nutt, "Cuchulainn, the Irish Achilles," in Popular Studies in
Mythology, Romance and Folklore, No. 8, London, 1900. The Celtic Magazine,
Vol. xiii, pages 319-326, 351-359, Inverness, 1888, contains an English
translation of a degenerated Scottish Gaelic version taken down by A.A.
Carmichael, in Benbecula; the Gaelic text was printed in the Transactions
of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Vol. ii. In the same volume of the
Celtic Magazine, pages 514-516, is a translation of a version of the Táin,
taken down in the island of Eigg. Eleanor Hull's "Cuchulain, the Hound of
Ulster," London, 1911, is a retelling of the story for younger readers. The
following, bearing more or less closely upon the Táin, are also to be
mentioned: Harry G. Tempest, "Dun Dealgan, Cuchulain's Home Fort," Dundalk,
1910; A.M. Skelly, "Cuchulain of Muirtheimhne," Dublin, 1908; Standish
O'Grady, "The Coming of Cuculain," London, 1894, "In the Gates of the
North," Kilkenny, 1901, "Cuculain, A Prose Epic," London, 1882 and the same
author's "History of Ireland: the Heroic Period," London, 1878-80; "The
High Deeds of Finn, and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland," by
T.W. Rolleston, London, 1910; Stephen Gwynn, "Celtic Sagas Re-told," in his
"To-day and To-morrow in Ireland," pages 38-58, Dublin, 1903; Edward
Thomas, "Celtic Stories," Oxford, 1911; "Children of Kings," by W. Lorcan
O'Byrne, London, 1904, and "The Boy Hero of Erin," by Charles Squire,
London, 1907.

Among the many poems which have taken their theme from the Táin and the
deeds of Cuchulain may be mentioned: "The Foray of Queen Meave," by Aubrey
de Vere, Poetic Works, London, 1882, vol. ii, pages 255-343; "The Old Age
of Queen Maeve," by William Butler Yeats, Collected Works, vol. I, page 41,
London, 1908; "The Defenders of the Ford," by Alice Milligan, in her "Hero
Lays," page 50, Dublin, 1908; George Sigerson, "Bards of the Gael and the
Gall," London, 1897; "The Tain-Quest," by Sir Samuel Ferguson, in his "Lays
of the Western Gael and other Poems," Dublin, 1897; "The Red Branch Crests,
A Trilogy," by Charles Leonard Moore, London, 1906; "The Laughter of
Scathach," by Fiona Macleod, in "The Washer of the Ford and Barbaric
Tales"; Hector Maclean, "Ultonian Hero-Ballads collected in the Highlands
and Western Isles of Scotland," Glasgow, 1892; ballad versions from
Scotland are found in Leabhar na Feinne, pages 1 and fol., in J.G.
Campbell's "The Fians," pages 6 and fol., and in the Book of the Dean
of Lismore.

Finally, scenes from the Táin have been dramatized by Canon Peter O'Leary,
in the Cork "Weekly Examiner," April 14, 1900 and fol., by Sir Samuel
Ferguson, "The Naming of Cuchulain: A Dramatic Scene," first played in
Belfast, March 9, 1910; in "The Triumph of Maeve," A Romance in dramatic
form, 1906; "Cuchulain," etc., (A Cycle of Plays, by S. and J. Varian,
Dublin), and in "The Boy-Deeds of Cuchulain," A Pageant in three Acts,
performed in Dublin in 1909.

    [1] "L'histoire entière de l'Irlande est une énigme si on n'a pas sans
    cesse à l'esprit ce fait primordial que le climat humide de l'île est
    tout à fait contraire à la culture des céréales, mais en revanche
    éminemment favorable à l'élevage du bétail, surtout de la race bovine,
    car le climat est encore trop humide pour l'espèce ovine." F. Lot, in
    _La Grande Encyclopédie_, xx, 956.

    [2] As it is to this day in some parts of Ireland, and as for example
    a female slave was sometimes appraised at three head of cattle among
    the ancient Gaels.

    [3] In fact the Clan Mackay was known as the Clan of the creaghs, and
    their perpetuation was enjoined on the rising generation from the
    cradle; See _The Old Highlands_, vol. III., p. 338, Glasgow.

    [4] Pronounced approximately _Thawin' bow Hooln'ya_.

    [5] _Revue Celtique_, 1895, tome xvi. pp. 405-406; _Rerum Hibernicarum
    Scriptores_, ii. 14.

    [6] _Mors Conchulaind fortissimi herois Scottorum la Lugaid mac trí
    con, i. ri Muman, agus la Ercc, i. ri Temrach, mac Coirpri Niad fir,
    agus la trí maccu Calattin de Chonnachtaib; vii. mbliadna a aes intan
    rogab gaisced. xvii. mbliadna dano a aes intan mbói indegaid Tána Bó
    Cúalnge. xxvii. bliadna immorro a aes intan atbath. Revue Celtique,_
    tome xvi. page 407.

    [7] Ridgeway.

    [8] See H. d'Arbois de Jubainville, _Essai d'un catalogue de la
    littérature épique de l'Irlande_, Paris, 1883, pages 214-216, and the
    Supplement to the same by G. Dottin, _Revue Celtique_, t. xxxiii,
    pages 34-35; Donald Mackinnon, _A Descriptive Catalogue of Gaelic
    Manuscripts_, Edinburgh, 1912, pp. 174, 220; E. Windisch, Táin Bó
    Cúalnge, _Einleitung und Vorrede_, S. lx. ff.

    [9] Facsimilé, page 288, foot margin.

    [10] Facsimilé, page 275, top margin.

    [11] Vd. Robert Atkinson, _The Book of Leinster_, Introduction, pages
    7-8; J.H. Todd, _Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, Rerum Britannicarum medii
    aevi scriptores_, 1867, Introduction, pages ix and ff. Eugene O'Curry,
    _On the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History_, page 186;
    Ernst Windisch, _Táin Bó Cúalnge_, pages 910-911.

    [12] Pronounced _gesh_ or _gas_.

    [13] "Es gehört keine grosse Kühnheit dazu zu behaupten, dass keiner
    der lebenden Keltologen beispielsweise von dem wichtigsten altirischen
    Sagentext 'Der Rinderraub von Cualnge' ... mit allen vorhandenen
    Hilfsmitteln ein solches fortlaufendes Verständnis des Inhalts hat,
    wie von einem guten Gymnasialabiturienten hinsichtlich der homerischen
    Gedichte ohne jegliches Hilfsmittel vor gut 30 Jahren in Deutschland
    verlangt wurde."--_Die Kultur der Gegenwart_, herausgegeben von Paul
    Hinneberg, Berlin, 1909. Teil I, Abt. xi, I. S. 75.

    [14] Part II, chap, lxii (Garnier Hermanos edition, page 711).

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 1]

Here beginneth Táin Bó Cúalnge

The Cualnge Cattle-raid



[W.1.] [LL.fo.53.] Once of a time, that Ailill and Medb had spread their
royal bed in Cruachan, the stronghold of Connacht, such was the pillow-talk
that befell betwixt them:

Quoth Ailill: "True is the saying, lady, 'She is a well-off woman that is a
rich man's wife.'" "Aye, that she is," answered the wife; "but wherefore
opin'st thou so?" "For this," Ailill replied, "that thou art this day
better off than the day that first I took thee." Then answered Medb: "As
well-off was I before I ever saw thee." "It was a wealth, forsooth, we
never heard nor knew of," Ailill said; "but a woman's wealth was all thou
hadst, and foes from lands next thine were used to carry off the spoil and
booty that they took from thee." "Not so was I," quoth Medb; "the High King
of Erin himself was my sire, Eocho Fedlech ('the Enduring') son of Finn, by
name, who was son of Findoman, son of Finden, son of Findguin, son of Rogen
Ruad ('the Red'), son of Rigen, son of Blathacht, son of Beothacht, son of
Enna Agnech, son of Oengus Turbech. Of daughters, had he six: Derbriu,
Ethne and Ele, Clothru, Mugain and Medb, myself, that was the noblest and
seemliest of them. 'Twas I was the goodliest of them in bounty [W.17.] and
gift-giving, [1]in riches and treasures.[1] 'Twas I was best of them in
battle and strife and combat. 'Twas I that had fifteen hundred royal
mercenaries of the sons of aliens exiled from their own land, and as many
more of the sons of freemen of the land. And there were ten men with every
one of these hirelings, [2]and nine men with every hireling,[2] and eight
men with every hireling, and seven men with every hireling, and six men
with every hireling, and five men with every hireling, [3]and four men with
every hireling,[3] and three men with every hireling, and two men with
every hireling, and one hireling with every hireling. These were as a
standing household-guard," continued Medb; "hence hath my father bestowed
one of the five provinces of Erin upon me, even the province of Cruachan;
wherefore 'Medb of Cruachan' am I called. Men came from Finn son of Ross
Ruad ('the Red'), king of Leinster, to seel me [4]for a wife, and I refused
him;[4] and from Carbre Niafer ('the Champion') son of Ross Ruad ('the
Red'), king of Temair,[a] [5]to woo me, and I refused him;[5] and they came
from Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathach ('the Mighty'), king of Ulster,
[6]and I refused him in like wise.[6] They came from Eocho Bec ('the
Small'), and I went not; for 'tis I that exacted a singular bride-gift,
such as no woman before me had ever required of a man of the men of Erin,
namely, a husband without avarice, without jealousy, without fear. For
should he be mean, the man with whom I should live, we were ill-matched
together, inasmuch as I am great [LL.fo.54a.] in largess and gift-giving,
and it would be a disgrace for my husband if I should be better [W.34.] at
spending than he, [1]and for it to be said that I was superior in wealth
and treasures to him[1], while no disgrace would it be were one as great as
the other[a]. Were my husband a coward, 'twere as unfit for us to be mated,
for I by myself and alone break battles and fights and combats, and 'twould
be a reproach for my husband should his wife be more full of life than
himself, and no reproach our being equally bold. Should he be jealous, the
husband with whom I should live, that too would not suit me, for there
never was a time that I had not my paramour[b]. Howbeit, such a husband
have I found, namely in thee thyself, Ailill son of Ross Ruad ('the Red')
of Leinster. Thou wast not churlish; thou wast not jealous; thou wast not a
sluggard. It was I plighted thee, and gave purchase-price to thee, which
of right belongs to the bride--of clothing, namely, the raiment of twelve
men, a chariot worth thrice seven bondmaids, the breadth of thy face of red
gold[c], the weight of thy left forearm of silvered bronze. Whoso brings
shame and sorrow and madness upon thee, no claim for compensation nor
satisfaction hast thou therefor that I myself have not, [2]but it is to me
the compensation belongs,"[2] said Medb, "for a man dependent upon a
woman's maintenance is what thou art."[d]

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] Stowe and Add.

    [a] That is, from the supreme king of Ireland.

    [5-5] Stowe and Add.

    [6-6] Stowe and Add.

    [1-1] Stowe and, similarly Add.

    [a] A short sentence in LL., which is probably corrupt, is omitted

    [b] Literally, "A man behind (in) the shadow of another."

    [c] Instead of a ring, which would be given to the bride.

    [2-2] Add. and H. 1. 13.

    [d] For a detailed explanation of this entire passage see H. Zimmer,
    in the _Sitzungsberichte der Köninglich Preussischen Akademie der
    Wissenschaften_, 16 Februar, 1911. _philosophisch historischen Classe,
    Seite 217_.

"Nay, not such was my state," said Ailill; "but two brothers had I; one of
them over Temair, the other over Leinster; namely, Finn, over Leinster, and
Carbre, over Temair. I left the kingship to them because they were [W.52.]
older but not superior to me in largess and bounty. Nor heard I of province
in Erin under woman's keeping but this province alone. And for this I came
and assumed the kingship here as my mother's successor; for Mata of Muresc,
daughter of Magach [1]of Connacht,[1] was my mother. And who could there be
for me to have as my queen better than thyself, being, as thou wert,
daughter of the High King of Erin?" "Yet so it is," pursued Medb, "my
fortune is greater than thine." "I marvel at that," Ailill made answer,
"for there is none that hath greater treasures and riches and wealth than
I: yea, to my knowledge there is not."

    [1-1] Add. and H. 1. 13.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 5]



[W.62.] Then were brought to them the least precious of their possessions,
that they might know which of them had the more treasures, riches and
wealth. Their pails and their cauldrons and their iron-wrought vessels,
their jugs and their keeves and their eared pitchers were fetched to them.

    [1-1] Add. and Stowe.

Likewise, their rings and their bracelets and their thumb-rings and their
golden treasures were fetched to them, and their apparel, both purple and
blue and black and green, yellow, vari-coloured and gray, dun, mottled and

Their numerous flocks of sheep were led in from fields and meeds and
plains. These were counted and compared, and found to be equal, of like
size, of like number; however, there was an uncommonly fine ram over Medb's
sheep, and he was equal in worth to a bondmaid, but a corresponding ram was
over the ewes of Ailill.

Their horses and steeds and studs were brought from pastures and paddocks.
There was a noteworthy horse in Medb's herd and he was of the value of a
bondmaid; a horse to match was found among Ailill's.

Then were their numerous droves of swine driven from woods and shelving
glens and wolds. These were numbered and counted and claimed. There was a
noteworthy boar With Medb, and yet another with Ailill.

Next they brought before them their droves of cattle [W.77.] and their
herds and their roaming flocks from the brakes and wastes of the province.

These were counted and numbered and claimed, and were the same for both,
equal in size, equal in number, except only there was an especial bull
of the bawn of Ailill, and he was a calf of one of Medb's cows, and
Finnbennach ('the Whitehorned') was his name. But he, deeming it no honour
to be in a woman's possession, [LL.fo.54b.] had left and gone over to the
kine of the king. And it was the same to Medb as if she owned not a
pennyworth, forasmuch as she had not a bull of his size amongst her cattle.

Then it was that macRoth the messenger was summoned to Medb, and Medb
strictly bade macRoth to learn where there might be found a bull of that
likeness in any of the provinces of Erin. "Verily," said macRoth, "I know
where the bull is that is best and better again, in the province of Ulster,
in the hundred of Cualnge, in the house of Darè son of Fiachna; even Donn
Cualnge ('the Brown Bull of Cualnge') he is called."

"Go thou to him, macRoth, and ask for me of Darè the loan for a year of the
Brown Bull of Cualnge, and at the year's end he shall have the meed of the
loan, to wit, fifty heifers and the Donn Cualnge himself. And bear thou a
further boon with thee, macRoth. Should the border-folk and those of the
country grudge the loan of that rare jewel that is the Brown Bull of
Cualnge, let Darè himself come with his bull, and he shall get a measure
equalling his own land of the smooth Plain of Ai and a chariot of the worth
of thrice seven bondmaids and he shall enjoy my own close friendship."[a]

    [a] Literally, "Habebit amicitiam fermoris mei."

Thereupon the messengers fared forth to the house of Darè son of Fiachna.
This was the number wherewith macRoth went, namely, nine couriers. Anon
welcome was [W.99.] lavished on macRoth in Darè's house--fitting, welcome
it was--chief messenger of all was macRoth. Darè asked of macRoth what had
brought him upon the journey and why he was come. The messenger announced
the cause for which he was come and related the contention between Medb and

"And it is to beg the loan of the Brown Bull of Cualnge to match the
Whitehorned that I am come," said he; "and thou shalt receive the hire of
his loan, even fifty heifers and the Brown of Cualnge himself. And yet more
I may add: Come thyself with thy bull and thou shalt have of the land of
the smooth soil of Mag Ai as much as thou ownest here, and a chariot of the
worth of thrice seven bondmaids and enjoy Medb's friendship to boot."

At these words Darè was well pleased, and he leaped for joy so that the
seams of his flock-bed rent in twain beneath him.

"By the truth of our conscience," said he; "however the Ulstermen take it,
[1]whether ill or well,[1] this time this jewel shall be delivered to
Ailill and to Medb, the Brown of Cualnge to wit, into the land of
Connacht." Well pleased was macRoth at the words of the son of Fiachna.

    [1-1] Stowe and Add.

Thereupon they were served, and straw and fresh rushes were spread under
them. The choicest of food was brought to them and a feast was served to
them and soon they were noisy and drunken. And a discourse took place
between two of the messengers. "'Tis true what I say," spoke the one; "good
is the man in whose house we are." "Of a truth, he is good." "Nay, is there
one among all the men of Ulster better than he?" persisted the first. "In
sooth, there is," answered the second messenger. "Better is Conchobar whose
man he is, [2]Conchobar who holds the kingship of the province.[2] And
though all the Ulstermen [W.120.] gathered around him, it were no shame
for them. Yet is it passing good of Darè, that what had been a task for the
four mighty provinces of Erin to bear away from the land of Ulster, even
the Brown Bull of Cualnge, is surrendered so freely to us nine footmen."

    [2-2] Stowe and Add.

Hereupon a third runner had his say: "What is this ye dispute about?" he
asked. "Yon runner says, 'A good man is the man in whose house we are.'"
"Yea, he is good," saith the other. "Is there among all the Ulstermen any
that is better than he?" demanded the first runner further. "Aye, there
is," answered the second runner; "better is Conchobar whose man he is; and
though all the Ulstermen gathered around him, it were no shame for them.
Yet, truly good it is of Darè, that what had been a task for four of the
grand provinces of Erin to bear away out of the borders of Ulster is handed
over even unto us nine footmen." "I would not grudge to see a retch of
blood and gore in the mouth whereout that was said; for, were the bull not
given [LL.fo.55a.] willingly, yet should he be taken by force!"

At that moment it was that Darè macFiachna's chief steward came into the
house and with him a man with drink and another with food, and he heard the
foolish words of the runners; and anger came upon him, and he set down
their food and drink for them and he neither said to them, "Eat," nor did
he say, "Eat not."

Straightway he went into the house where was Darè macFiachna and said: "Was
it thou that hast given that notable jewel to the messengers, the Brown
Bull of Cualnge?" "Yea, it was I," Darè made answer. "Verily, it was not
the part of a king to give him. For it is true what they say: Unless thou
hadst bestowed him of thine own free will, so wouldst thou yield him in
despite of thee by the host of Ailill and Medb and by the great cunning of
Fergus macRoig." "I swear by the gods whom I worship," [W.143.] [1]spoke
Darè,[1] "they shall in no wise take by foul means what they cannot take by

    [1-1] Stowe and Add.

There they abide till morning. Betimes on the morrow the runners arise and
proceed to the house where is Darè. "Acquaint us, lord, how we may reach
the place where the Brown Bull of Cualnge is kept." "Nay then," saith Darè;
"but were it my wont to deal foully with messengers or with travelling folk
or with them that go by the road, not one of you would depart alive!" "How
sayest thou?" quoth macRoth. "Great cause there is," replied Darè; "ye
said, unless I yielded in good sort, I should yield to the might of
Ailill's host and Medb's and the great cunning of Fergus."

"Even so," said macRoth, "whatever the runners drunken with thine ale and
thy viands have said, 'tis not for thee to heed nor mind, nor yet to be
charged on Ailill and on Medb." "For all that, macRoth, this time I will
not give my bull, if ever I can help it!"

Back then the messengers go till they arrive at Cruachan, the stronghold of
Connacht. Medb asks their tidings, and macRoth makes known the same: that
they had not brought his bull from Darè. "And the reason?" demanded Medb.
MacRoth recounts to her how the dispute arose. "There is no need to polish
knots over such affairs as that, macRoth; for it was known," said Medb, "if
the Brown Bull of Cualnge would not be given with their will, he would be
taken in their despite, and taken he shall be!"

[2]To this point is recounted the Occasion of the Táin.[2]

    [2-2] Stowe and Add.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 10]



[W.161.] [2]A mighty host was now assembled by the men of Connacht, that
is, by Ailill and Medb, and they sent word to the three other provinces,
and[2] messengers were despatched from Medb to the Manè that they should
gather in Cruachan, the seven Manè with their seven divisions; to wit: Manè
"Motherlike," Manè "Fatherlike," and Manè "All-comprehending", [3]'twas he
that possessed the form of his mother and of his father and the dignity of
them both;[3] Manè "Mildly-submissive," and Manè "Greatly-submissive," Manè
"Boastful" [4]and Manè "the Dumb."[4]

    [1-1] Add.

    [2-2] LU. 1-2; with these words, the LU. version begins, fo. 55a.

    [3-3] LU. 182.

    [4-4] Stowe and Add.

Other messengers were despatched [5]by Ailill[5] to the sons of Maga; to
wit: to Cet ('the First') son of Maga, Anluan ('the Brilliant Light') son
of Maga, and Maccorb ('Chariot-child') son of Maga, and Bascell ('the
Lunatic') son of Maga, and En ('the Bird') son of Maga, Dochè son of Maga;
and Scandal ('Insult') son of Maga.

    [5-5] Eg. 1782.

These came, and this was their muster, thirty hundred armed men. Other
messengers were despatched from them to Cormac Conlongas ('the Exile') son
of Conchobar and to Fergus macRoig, and they also came, thirty hundred
their number.

[W.173.] [1]Now Cormac had three companies which came to Cruachan.[1]
Before all, the first company. A covering of close-shorn [2]black[2] hair
upon them. Green mantles and [3]many-coloured cloaks[3] wound about them;
therein, silvern brooches. Tunics of thread of gold next to their skin,
[4]reaching down to their knees,[4] with interweaving of red gold.
Bright-handled swords they bore, with guards of silver. [5]Long shields
they bore, and there was a broad, grey spearhead on a slender shaft in the
hand of each man.[5] "Is that Cormac, yonder?" all and every one asked.
"Not he, indeed," Medb made answer.

    [1-1] LU. 7.

    [2-2] Add.

    [3-3] LU. 8.

    [4-4] LU. 9.

    [5-5] LU. 9-10.

The second troop. Newly shorn hair they wore [6]and manes on the back of
their heads,[6] [7]fair, comely indeed.[7] Dark-blue cloaks they all had
about them. Next to their skin, gleaming-white tunics, [LL.fo.55b.] [8]with
red ornamentation, reaching down to their calves.[8] Swords they had with
round hilts of gold and silvern fist-guards, [9]and shining shields upon
them and five-pronged spears in their hands.[9] "Is yonder man Cormac?" all
the people asked. "Nay, verily, that is not he," Medb made answer.

    [6-6] Eg. 1782.

    [7-7] Add.

    [8-8] LU. 11-12.

    [9-9] LU. 12-13.

[10]Then came[10] the last troop. Hair cut broad they wore; fair-yellow,
deep-golden, loose-flowing back hair [11]down to their shoulders[11] upon
them. Purple cloaks, fairly bedizened, about them; golden, embellished
brooches over their breasts; [12]and they had curved shields with sharp,
chiselled edges around them and spears as long as the pillars of a king's
house in the hand of each man.[12] Fine, long, silken tunics [13]with
hoods[13] they wore to the very instep. Together they raised their feet,
and together they set them down again. "Is that Cormac, yonder?" asked
all. "Aye, it is he, [14]this time,[14]" Medb made answer.

    [10-10] Eg. 1782.

    [11-11] LU. 16.

    [12-12] LU. 17-18.

    [13-13] LU. 15.

    [14-14] Eg. 1782.

[W.186.] [1]Thus the four provinces of Erin gathered in Cruachan Ai.[1]
They pitched their camp and quarters that night, so that a thick cloud of
smoke and fire rose between the four fords of Ai, which are, Ath Moga, Ath
Bercna, Ath Slissen and Ath Coltna. And they tarried for the full space of
a fortnight in Cruachan, the hostel of Connacht, in wassail and drink and
every disport, to the end that their march and muster might be easier.
[2]And their poets and druids would not let them depart from thence till
the end of a fortnight while awaiting good omen.[2] And then it was that
Medb bade her charioteer to harness her horses for her, that she might go
to address herself to her druid, to seek for light and for augury from him.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] LU. 20-21.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 13]



[W.194.] When Medb was come to the place where her druid was, she craved
light and augury of him. "Many there be," saith Medb, "who do part with
their kinsmen and friends here to-day, and from their homes and their
lands, from father and from mother; and unless unscathed every one shall
return, upon me will they cast their sighs and their ban, [1]for it is I
that have assembled this levy.[1] Yet there goeth not forth nor stayeth
there at home any dearer to me than are we to ourselves. And do thou
discover for us whether we ourselves shall return, or whether we shall
never return."

    [a] This heading is taken from the colophon at the end of the chapter.

    [1-1] LU. 23-24.

And the druid made answer, "Whoever comes not, thou thyself shalt come."
[2]"Wait, then," spake the charioteer," let me wheel the chariot by the
right,[b] that thus the power of a good omen may arise that we return
again."[2] Then the charioteer wheeled his chariot round and Medb went back
[3]again,[3] when she espied a thing that surprised her: A lone virgin
[4]of marriageable age[4] standing on the hindpole of a chariot a little
way off drawing nigh her. And thus the maiden appeared: Weaving lace was
she, and in her right hand was a bordering rod of silvered [W.204.] bronze
with its seven strips of red gold at the sides. A many-spotted green mantle
around her; a bulging, strong-headed pin [1]of gold[1] in the mantle over
her bosom; [2]a hooded tunic, with red interweaving, about her.[2] A ruddy,
fair-faced countenance she had, [3]narrow below and broad above.[3] She had
a blue-grey and laughing eye; [4]each eye had three pupils.[4] [5]Dark and
black were her eyebrows; the soft, black lashes threw a shadow to the
middle of her cheeks.[5] Red and thin were her lips. Shiny and pearly were
her teeth; thou wouldst believe they were showers of white pearls that had
rained into her head. Like to fresh Parthian crimson were her lips. As
sweet as the strings of lutes [6]when long sustained they are played by
master players' hands[6] was the melodious sound of her voice and her fair

    [2-2] LU. 24-25.

    [b] Right-hand wise, as a sign of a good omen.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

    [3-3] LU. 29.

    [4-4] LU. 35-36.

    [5-5] LU. 31.

    [6-6] Adopting Windisch's emendation of the text.

As white as snow in one night fallen was the sheen of her skin and her body
that shone outside of her dress. Slender and very white were her feet;
rosy, even, sharp-round nails she had; [7]two sandals with golden buckles
about them.[7] Fair-yellow, long, golden hair she wore; three braids of
hair [8]she wore; two tresses were wound[8] around her head; the other
tress [9]from behind[9] threw a shadow down on her calves. [10]The maiden
carried arms, and two black horses were under her chariot.[10]

    [7-7] LU. 29.

    [8-8] Eg. 1782.

    [9-9] Add.

    [10-10] LU. 36.

Medb gazed at her. "And what doest thou here now, O maiden?" asked Medb. "I
impart [LL.fo.56a.] to thee thine advantage and good fortune in thy
gathering and muster of the four mighty provinces of Erin against the land
of Ulster on the Raid for the Kine of Cualnge." "Wherefore doest thou this
for me?" asked Medb. "Much cause have I. A bondmaid 'mid thy people am I."
"Who of [W.220.] my people art thou [1]and what is thy name[1]?" asked
Medb. "Not hard, in sooth, to say. The prophetess Fedelm, from the Sid
('the Fairy Mound') of Cruachan, [2]a poetess of Connacht[2] am I."
[3]"Whence comest thou?" asked Medb. "From Alba, after learning prophetic
skill," the maiden made answer. "Hast thou the form of divination?"[b]
"Verily, have I," the maiden said.[3] [4]"Look, then, for me, how will my
undertaking be." The maiden looked. Then spake Medb:--[4]

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

    [3-3] LU. 39-41.

    [b] _Imbass forosna_, 'illumination between the hands.'

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

"Good now,

    "Tell, O Fedelm, prophet-maid,
    How beholdest thou our host?"

[5]Fedelm answered and spoke:[5]

    "Crimson-red from blood they are;
    I behold them bathed in red!"

    [5-5] Eg. 1782.

[6]"That is no true augury,"[6] said Medb. "Verily, Conchobar [7]with the
Ulstermen[7] is in his 'Pains' in Emain; thither fared my messengers [8]and
brought me true tidings[8]; naught is there that we need dread from
Ulster's men. But speak truth, O Fedelm:--

    "Tell, O Fedelm, prophet-maid,
    How beholdest thou our host?"

    "Crimson-red from blood they are;
    I behold them bathed in red!"

    [6-6] LU. 44.

    [7-7] Eg. 1782.

    [8-8] Eg. 1782.

[9]"That is no true augury.[9] Cuscraid Mend ('the Stammerer') of Macha,
Conchobar's son, is in Inis Cuscraid ('Cuscraid's Isle') in his 'Pains.'
Thither fared my messengers; naught need we fear from Ulster's men. But
speak truth, O Fedelm:--

    [W.233.] "Tell, O Fedelm, prophet-maid,
    How beholdest thou our host?"

    "Crimson-red from blood they are;
    I behold them bathed in red!"

    [9-9] LU. 48.

"Eogan, Durthacht's son, is in Rath Airthir ('the Eastern Rath') in his
'Pains.' Thither went my messengers. Naught need we dread from Ulster's
men. But speak truth, O Fedelm:--

    "Tell, O Fedelm, prophet-maid,
    How beholdest thou our host?"

    "Crimson-red from blood they are;
    I behold them bathed in red!"

"Celtchar, Uthechar's son, is in his fort [1]at Lethglas[1] in his 'Pains,'
[2]and a third of the Ulstermen with him.[2] Thither fared my messengers.
Naught have we to fear from Ulster's men. [3]And Fergus son of Roig son of
Eochaid is with us here in exile, and thirty hundred with him.[3] But speak
truth, O Fedelm:--

    "Tell, O Fedelm, prophet-maid,
    How beholdest thou our host?"

    "Crimson-red from blood they are;
    I behold them bathed in red!"

    [1-1] LU. 50.

    [2-2] LU. 49.

    [3-3] LU. 50-51.

"Meseemeth this not as it seemeth to thee," quoth Medb, "for when Erin's
men shall assemble in one place, there quarrels will arise and broils,
contentions and disputes amongst them about the ordering of themselves in
the van or rear, at ford or river, over who shall be first at killing a
boar or a stag or a deer or a hare. But, [4]look now again for us and[4]
speak truth, O Fedelm:--

    "Tell, O Fedelm, prophet-maid,
    How beholdest thou our host?"

    "Crimson-red from blood they are;
    I behold them bathed in red!"

    [4-4] LU. 55.

Therewith she began to prophesy and to foretell the coming of Cuchulain to
the men of Erin, and she chanted a lay:--

    [W.255.] "[a]Fair, of deeds, the man I see;
    Wounded sore is his fair skin;
    On his brow shines hero's light;
    Victory's seat is in his face!

    "Seven gems of champions brave
    Deck the centre of his orbs;
    Naked are the spears he bears,
    And he hooks a red cloak round!

    "Noblest face is his, I see;
    He respects all womankind.
    Young the lad and fresh his hue,
    With a dragon's form in fight!

    "I know not who is the Hound,
    Culann's hight,[b] [1]of fairest fame[1];
    But I know full well this host
    Will be smitten red by him!

    "Four small swords--a brilliant feat--
    He supports in either hand;
    These he'll ply upon the host,
    Each to do its special deed!

    "His Gae Bulga,[c] too, he wields,
    With his sword and javelin.
    Lo, the man in red cloak girt
    Sets his foot on every hill!

    "Two spears [2]from the chariot's left[2]
    He casts forth in orgy wild.
    And his form I saw till now
    Well I know will change its guise!

    "On to battle now he comes;
    If ye watch not, ye are doomed.
    This is he seeks ye in fight
    Brave Cuchulain, Sualtaim's son!

    "All your host he'll smite in twain,
    Till he works your utter ruin.
    [W.291.] All your heads ye'll leave with him.
    Fedelm, prophet-maid, hides not!

    "Gore shall flow from warriors' wounds;
    Long 'twill live in memory.
    [LL.fo.56b.] Bodies hacked and wives in tears,
    Through the Smith's Hound[a] whom I see!"

    [a] The Eg. 1782 version of this poem differs in several details
    from LL.

    [b] That is, Cu Chulain, 'the Hound of Culann.'

    [1-1] Tranlating from LU. 65, Stowe and Add.

    [c] The _Gae Bulga_, 'barbed spear,' which only Cuchulain could wield.

    [2-2] Translating from LU. 72, Add. and Stowe; 'from the left,' as a
    sign of enmity.

    [a] That is, Cuchulain. See page 17.

Thus far the Augury and the Prophecy and the Preface of the Tale, and the
Occasion of its invention and conception, and the Pillow-talk which Ailill
and Medb had in Cruachan. [1]Next follows the Body of the Tale itself.[1]

    [1-1] Stowe and Add.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 19]



[W.301.] and the Beginning of the Expedition and the Names of the Roads
which the hosts of the four of the five grand provinces of Erin took into
the land of Ulster. [1]On Monday after Summer's end[1] [2]they set forth
and proceeded:[2]

    [1-1] LU. 81.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

[3]South-east from Cruachan Ai,[3] by Mag Cruimm, over Tuaim Mona ('the
Hill of Turf'), by Turloch Teora Crich ('the Creek of three Lands'), by Cul
('the Nook') of Silinne, by Dubloch ('Black Lough'), [4]by Fid Dubh ('Black
Woods'),[4] by Badbgna, by Coltain, by the Shannon, by Glune Gabur, by Mag
Trega, by Tethba in the north, by Tethba in the south, by Cul ('the Nook'),
by Ochain, northwards by Uatu, eastwards by Tiarthechta, by Ord ('the
Hammer'), by Slaiss ('the Strokes'), [5]southwards,[5] by Indeoin ('the
Anvil'), by Carn, by Meath, by Ortrach, by Findglassa Assail, ('White
Stream of Assail'), by Drong, by Delt, by Duelt, by Delinn, by Selaig, by
Slabra, by Slechta, where swords hewed out roads before Medb and Ailill, by
Cul ('the Nook') of Siblinne, by Dub ('the Blackwater'), by Ochonn
[6]southwards,[6] by Catha, by Cromma [7]southwards,[7] by Tromma,
[8]eastwards[8] by Fodromma, by Slane, by Gort Slane, [9]to the south
of[9] Druim Liccè, by Ath Gabla, by Ardachad ('Highfield'), [W.356.]
[1]northwards[1] by Feorainn, by Finnabair ('White Plain'), by Assa
[2]southwards,[2] by Airne, by Aurthuile, by Druim Salfind ('Salfind
Ridge'), by Druim Cain, by Druim Caimthechta, by Druim macDega, by the
little Eo Dond ('Brown Tree'), by the great Eo Dond, by Meide in Togmaill
('Ferret's Neck'), by Meide in Eoin, ('Bird's Neck'), by Baille ('the
Town'), by Aile, by Dall Scena, by Ball Scena, by Ross Mor ('Great Point'),
by Scuap ('the Broom'), by Imscuap, by Cenn Ferna, by Anmag, by Fid Mor
('Great Wood') in Crannach of Cualnge, [3]by Colbtha, by Crond in
Cualnge,[3] by Druim Cain on the road to Midluachar, [4]from Finnabair of
Cualnge. It is at that point that the hosts of Erin divided over the
province in pursuit of the bull. For it was by way of those places they
went until they reached Finnabair. Here endeth the Title. The Story
begineth in order.[4]

    [3-3] Stowe and Add.

    [4-4] LU. 87, Stowe and Add.

    [5-5] LU. 96. and Stowe.

    [6-6] Eg. 1782.

    [7-7] Eg. 1782.

    [8-8] LU. 113.

    [9-9] LU. 116.

    [1-1] LU. 119.

    [2-2] LU. 121.

    [3-3] LU. 146-148.

    [4-4] LU. 149-161.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 21]



[W.389.] On the first stage the hosts went [1]from Cruachan,[1] they slept
the night at Cul Silinne, [2]where to-day is Cargin's Lough.[2] And [3]in
that place[3] was fixed the tent of Ailill son of Ross, [4]and the
trappings were arranged, both bedding and bed-clothes.[4] The tent of
Fergus macRoig was on his right hand; Cormac Conlongas, Conchobar's son,
was beside him; Ith macEtgaith next to that; Fiachu macFiraba, [5]the son
of Conchobar's daughter,[5] at its side; [6]Conall Cernach at its side,[6]
Gobnenn macLurnig at the side of that. The place of Ailill's tent was on
the right on the march, and thirty hundred men of Ulster beside him. And
the thirty hundred men of Ulster on his right hand had he to the end that
the whispered talk and conversation and the choice supplies of food and of
drink might be the nearer to them.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Translating from Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. 156-157.

    [5-5] LU. 160.

    [6-6] Eg. 1782.

Medb of Cruachan, [7]daughter of Eocho Fedlech,[7] moreover, was at
Ailill's left. Finnabair ('Fairbrow'), [8]daughter of Ailill and Medb,[8]
at her side, [9]besides servants and henchmen.[9] Next, Flidais Foltchain
('of the Lovely Hair'), wife first of Ailill Finn ('the Fair'). She took
part in the Cow-spoil of Cualnge after she had slept with Fergus; and she
it was that every seventh night brought sustenance [W.404.] in milk to the
men of Erin on the march, for king and queen and prince and poet and pupil.

    [7-7] LU. 160.

    [8-8] LU. 161.

    [9-9] Eg. 1782.

Medb remained in the rear of the host that day in quest of tidings and
augury [LL.fo.57a.] and knowledge. [1]She called to her charioteer to get
ready her nine chariots for her,[1] [2]to make a circuit of the camp[2]
that she might learn who was loath and who eager to take part in the
hosting.  [3]With nine chariots[a] she was wont to travel, that the dust of
the great host might not soil her.[3] Medb suffered not her chariot to be
let down nor her horses unyoked until she had made a circuit of the camp.

    [1-1] LU. 153.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

    [3-3] Gloss in LU. fo. 56b, 3.

    [a] Following the emendation suggested by L. Chr. Stern, _Zeitschrift
    für Celtische Philologie, Band_ II, S. 417, LU. has 'nine charioteers.'

Then, [4]when she had reviewed the host,[4] were Medb's horses unyoked and
her chariots let down, and she took her place beside Ailill macMata. And
Ailill asked tidings of Medb: who was eager and who was loath for the
warfare. "Futile for all is the emprise but for one troop only, [5]namely
the division of the Galian ('of Leinster'),"[5] quoth Medb. [6]"Why blamest
thou these men?" queried Ailill. "It is not that we blame them," Medb made
answer.[6] "What good service then have these done that they are praised
above all?" asked Ailill. "There is reason to praise them," said Medb.
[7]"Splendid are the warriors.[7] When the others begin making their pens
and pitching their camp, these have finished building their bothies and
huts. When the rest are building their bothies and huts, these have
finished preparing their food and drink. When the rest are preparing their
food and drink, these have finished eating and feasting, [8]and their harps
are playing for them.[8] When all the others have finished eating and
feasting, these are by that [W.422.] time asleep. And even as their
servants and thralls are distinguished above the servants and thralls of
the men of Erin, so shall their heroes and champions be distinguished
beyond the heroes and champions of the men of Erin this time on this
hosting. [1]It is folly then for these to go, since it is those others will
enjoy the victory of the host.[1]" "So much the better, I trow," replied
Ailill; "for it is with us they go and it is for us they fight." "They
shall not go with us nor shall they fight for us." [2]cried Medb.[2] "Let
them stay at home then," said Ailill. "Stay they shall not," answered
Medb. "[3]They will fall on us in the rear and will seize our land against
us.[3]" "What shall they do then," Finnabair[a] asked, "if they go not out
nor yet remain at home?" "Death and destruction and slaughter is what I
desire for them," answered Medb. "For shame then on thy speech," spake
Ailill; "[4]'tis a woman's advice,[4] for that they pitch their tents
and make their pens so promptly and unwearily." "By the truth of my
conscience," cried Fergus, [5]"not thus shall it happen, for they are
allies of us men of Ulster.[5] No one shall do them to death but he that
does death to myself [6]along with them!"[6]

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

    [5-5] LU. 164 and Stowe.

    [6-6] LU. 165.

    [7-7] LU. 165.

    [8-8] LU. 168.

    [1-1] LU. 169.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. 171-172.

    [a] 'Ailill,' in Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

    [5-5] LU. 175-176.

    [6-6] Stowe

"Not to me oughtest thou thus to speak, O Fergus," then cried Medb, "for I
have hosts enough to slay and slaughter thee with the division of
Leinstermen round thee. For there are the seven Manè, [7]that is, my seven
sons[7] with their seven divisions, and the sons of Maga with their
[8]seven[8] divisions, and Ailill with his division, and I myself with my
own body-guard besides. We are strong enough here to kill and slaughter
thee with thy cantred of the Leinstermen round thee!"

    [7-7] LU. 179.

    [8-8] Add.

"It befits thee not thus to speak to me," said Fergus, [W.439.] "for
I have with me here [1]in alliance with us Ulstermen,[1] the seven
Under-kings of Munster, with their seven cantreds.  [2]Here we have what is
best of the youths of Ulster, even the division of the Black Banishment.[2]
Here we have what is best of the noble youths of Ulster, even the division
of the Galian ('of Leinster'). Furthermore, I myself am bond and surety and
guarantee for them, since ever they left their own native land. [3]I will
give thee battle in the midst of the camp,[3] and to me will they hold
steadfast on the day of battle. More than all that," added Fergus, "these
men shall be no subject of dispute. By that I mean I will never forsake
them. [4]For the rest, we will care for these warriors, to the end that
they get not the upper hand of the host.

    [1-1] LU. 184.

    [2-2] Reading with Stowe; LL. appears to be corrupt. This was the name
    given to Fergus, Cormac and the other exiles from Ulster.

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

"The number of our force is seventeen cantreds, besides our rabble and our
women-folk--for with each king was his queen in Medb's company--and our
striplings; the eighteenth division is namely the cantred of the Galian.[4]
This division of Leinstermen I will distribute among [5]all the host of[5]
the men of Erin in such wise that no five men of them shall be in any one
place." "That pleaseth me well," said Medb: "let them be as they may, if
only they be not in the battle-order of the ranks where they now are in
such great force."

    [4-4] LU. 187-192.

    [5-5] Eg. 1782.

Forthwith Fergus distributed the cantred [6]of the Galian[6] among the men
of Erin in such wise that there were not five men of them in any one place.

    [6-6] Stowe and Add.

[LL.fo.57b.] Thereupon, the troops set out on their way and march.  It was
no easy thing [7]for their kings and their leaders[7] to attend to that
mighty host. They took part in the expedition [W.453.] according to the
several tribes and according to the several stems and the several districts
wherewith they had come, to the end that they might see one other and know
one other, that each man might be with his comrades and with his friends
and with his kinsfolk on the march. They declared that in such wise they
should go. They also took counsel in what manner they should proceed on
their hosting. Thus they declared they should proceed: Each host with its
king, each troop with its lord, and each band with its captain; each king
and each prince of the men of Erin [1]by a separate route[1] on his halting
height apart. They took counsel who was most proper to seek tidings in
advance of the host between the two provinces. And they said it was Fergus,
inasmuch as the expedition was an obligatory one with him, for it was he
that had been seven years in the kingship of Ulster. And [2]after Conchobar
had usurped the kingship and[2] after the murder of the sons of Usnech who
were under his protection and surety, Fergus left the Ultonians, and for
seventeen years he was away from Ulster in exile and in enmity. For that
reason it was fitting that he above all should go after tidings.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe and Add.

    [2-2] Stowe and Add.

So [3]the lead of the way was entrusted to Fergus.[3] Fergus before all
fared forth to seek tidings, and a feeling of [4]love and[4] affection for
his kindred of the men of Ulster came over him, and he led the troops
astray in a great circuit to the north and the south. And he despatched
messengers with warnings to the Ulstermen, [5]who were at that time in
their 'Pains' except Cuchulain and his father Sualtaim.[5] And he began to
detain and delay the host [6]until such time as the men of Ulster should
have gathered together an army.[6] [7]Because of affection he did so.[7]

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 217.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 227.

    [7-7] Eg. 1782.

[W.472.] Medb perceived this and she upbraided him for it, and chanted the

    Medb:   "Fergus, speak, what shall we say?
            What may mean this devious way?
            For we wander north and south;
            Over other lands we stray!"

    Fergus: "Medb, why art thou so perturbed?
            There's no treacherous purpose here.
            Ulster's land it is, O queen,
            Over which I've led thy host!"

    Medb:   "Ailill, splendid with his hosts,
            [1]Fears thee lest thou should'st betray.[1]
            Thou hast not bent all thy mind
            To direct us on our way!"

    Fergus: "Not to bring the host to harm
            Make these changing circuits I.
            Haply could I now avoid
            Sualtach's son, the Blacksmith's Hound!"[a]

    Medb:   "Ill of thee to wrong our host,
            Fergus, son of Ross the Red;
            Much good hast thou found with us,
            Fergus, in thy banishment!"

            "[2]If thou showest our foemen love,
            No more shalt thou lead our troops;
            Haply someone else we'll find
            To direct us on our way![2]"

    [1-1] Reading with LU. and YBL. 252.

    [a] That is, Cuchulain.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

"I will be in the van of the troops no longer," cried Fergus; "but do thou
find another to go before them." For all that, Fergus kept his place in
the van of the troops.

The four mighty provinces of Erin passed that night on Cul Silinne. The
sharp, keen-edged anxiety for Cuchulain came upon Fergus and he warned the
men of Erin to be on their guard, because there would come upon them the
rapacious lion, and the doom of foes, the vanquisher of multitudes, and the
chief of retainers, the mangler of great hosts, the hand that dispenseth
[3]treasures,[3] and the flaming [W.502.] torch, even Cuchulain son of
Sualtaim.[a] And thus he foreshowed him and chanted a lay, and Medb

    Fergus: "Well for ye to heed and watch,
            With array of arms and men.
            He will come, the one we fear,
            Murthemne's great, deedful youth!"

    Medb:   "How so dear, this battle-rede,
            Comes from thee, [LL.fo.58a.] Roig's son most bold.
            Men and arms have I enough
            To attend Cuchulain here!"

    Fergus: "Thou shalt need them, Medb of Ai,
            Men and arms for battle hard,
            With the grey steed's[b] horseman brave.
            All the night and all the day!"

    Medb:   "I have kept here in reserve
            Heroes fit for fight and spoil;
            Thirty hundred hostage-chiefs,
            Leinster's bravest champions they.

            Fighting men from Cruachan fair,
            Braves from clear-streamed Luachair,
            Four full realms of goodly Gaels
            Will defend me from this man!"

    Fergus: "Rich in troops from Mourne and Bann,
            Blood he'll draw o'er shafts of spears;
            He will cast to mire and sand
            These three thousand Leinstermen.

            With the swallow's swiftest speed,
            With the rush of biting wind,
            So bounds on my dear brave Hound,
            Breathing slaughter on his foes!"

    Medb:   "Fergus, should he come 'tween us,
            To Cuchulain bear this word:
            He were prudent to stay still;
            Cruachan holds a check in store."

    Fergus: "Valiant will the slaughter be
            Badb's wild daughter[c] gloats upon.
            For the Blacksmith's Hound will spill
            Showers of blood on hosts of men!"

    [3-3] Stowe and Add.

    [a] MS.: _Sualtach._

    [b] _Liath Mache_ ('the Roan of Macha'), the name of one of Cuchulain's
    two horses.

    [c] That is, the goddess or fury of battle.

[W.540.] After this lay the men of the four grand provinces of Erin marched
[1]on the morrow[1] over Moin Coltna ('the Marsh of Coltain') eastwards
that day; and there met them eight score deer [2]in a single herd.[2] The
troops spread out and surrounded and killed them so that none of them

    [1-1] LU. 195.

    [2-2] Stowe and Add.

But there is one event to add: Although the division of the Galian had been
dispersed [3]among the men of Erin,[3] [4]wherever there was a man of the
Galian, it was he that got them, except[4] five deer only which was the men
of Erin's share thereof, so that one division took all the eight score

    [3-3] Stowe and Add.

    [4-4] LU. 196.

[5]Then they proceed to Mag Trega and they unyoke there and prepare their
food. It is said that it is there that Dubthach recited this stave:--

    "Grant ye have not heard till now,
    Giving ear to Dubthach's fray:
    Dire-black war upon ye waits,
    'Gainst the Whitehorned of Queen Medb![a]

    "There will come the chief of hosts,[b]
    War for Murthemne to wage.
    Ravens shall drink garden's milk,[c]
    This the fruit of swineherds' strife (?)[d]

    "Turfy Cron will hold them back,
    Keep them back from Murthemne,[5]
    [9]Till the warriors' work is done
    On Ochainè's northern mount!

    "'Quick,' to Cormac, Ailill cries;
    'Go and seek ye out your son,
    Loose no cattle from the fields,
    Lest the din of the host reach them!'

    "Battle they'll have here eftsoon,
    Medb and one third of the host.
    Corpses will be scattered wide
    If the Wildman[a] come to you!"

    [a] Literally, 'of Ailill's spouse.'

    [b] That is, Cuchulain.

    [c] A kenning for 'blood.'

    [d] Referring to the two bulls, the Brown and the Whitehorned, which
    were the re-incarnations through seven intermediate stages of two
    divine swineherds of the gods of the under-world. The story is told in
    _Irische Texte_, iii, i, pp. 230-275.

    [5-5] LU. 198-205.

    [a] Literally, 'the Contorted one'; that is, Cuchulain.

Then Nemain, [1]the Badb to wit,[1] attacked them, and that was not the
quietest of nights they had, with the noise of the churl, namely Dubthach,
in their[b] sleep.  Such fears he scattered amongst the host straightway,
and he hurled a great stone at the throng till Medb came to check him. They
continued their march then till they slept a night in Granard Tethba in the
north,[9] [2]after the host had made a circuitous way across sloughs and

    [1-1] Gloss in YBL. 211.

    [b] 'his' Eg. 1782.

    [9-9] YBL. and LU. 206-215. With this passage YBL. begins, fo. 17a.

    [2-2] LU. 215.

[W.547.] It was on that same day, [3]after the coming of the warning from
Fergus[3] [4]to the Ulstermen,[4] that Cuchulain son of Sualtaim, [5]and
Sualtaim[5] Sidech ('of the Fairy Mound'), his father, [6]when they had
received the warning from Fergus,[6] came so near [7]on their watch for the
host[7] that their horses grazed in pasture round the pillar-stone on Ard
Cuillenn ('the Height of Cuillenn').  Sualtaim's horses cropped the grass
north of the pillar-stone close to the ground; Cuchulain's cropped the
grass south of the pillar-stone even to the ground and the bare stones.
"Well, O master Sualtaim," said Cuchulain; "the thought of the host is
fixed sharp upon me [8]to-night,[8] so do thou depart for us with warnings
to the men of Ulster, that they remain not in the smooth plains but that
they betake themselves to the woods and wastes and steep glens of the
province, if so they may keep out of the way of the men of Erin." "And
thou, lad, what wilt thou do?" "I must go southwards to Temair to keep
tryst with the [W.556.] maid[a] of Fedlimid Nocruthach ('of the Nine
Forms') [1]Conchobar's daughter,[1] according to my own agreement, till
morning." "Alas, that one should go [2]on such a journey,"[2] said
Sualtaim, "and leave the Ulstermen under the feet of their foes and their
enemies for the sake of a tryst with a woman!" "For all that, I needs must
go. For, an I go not, the troth of men will be held for false and the
promises of women held for true."

    [3-3] LU. 218

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

    [5-5] _Sualtach_, in LL.

    [6-6] Eg. 1782.

    [7-7] Eg. 1782.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 220.

    [a] "Who was secretly as a concubine with Cuchulain"; gloss in LU. and
    YBL. 222 and Eg. 1782.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] Stowe and Add.

Sualtaim departed with warnings to the men of Ulster.  Cuchulain strode
into the wood, and there, with a single blow, he lopped the prime sapling
of an oak, root and top, and with only one foot and one hand and one eye he
exerted himself; and he made a twig-ring thereof and set an ogam[b] script
on the plug of the ring, and set the ring round the narrow part of the
pillar-stone on Ard ('the Height') of Cuillenn. He forced the ring till it
reached the thick of the pillar-stone. Thereafter Cuchulain went his way to
his tryst with the woman.

    [b] The old kind of writing of the Irish.

Touching the men of Erin, the account follows here: They came up to the
pillar-stone at Ard Cuillenn, [3]which is called Crossa Coil to-day,[3] and
they began looking out upon the province that was unknown to them, the
province of Ulster. And two of Medb's people went always before them in the
van of the host, at every camp and on every march, at every ford and every
river [LL.fo.58b.] and every gap. They were wont to do so [4]that they
might save the brooches and cushions and cloaks of the host, so that the
dust of the multitude might not soil them[4] and that no stain might come
on the princes' raiment in the crowd or the crush of the hosts or the
throng;--these were the two sons of Nera, who was the son of Nuathar,
[W.575.] son of Tacan, two sons of the house-stewards of Cruachan, Err and
Innell, to wit. Fraech and Fochnam were the names of their charioteers.

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 245-246.

The nobles of Erin arrived at the pillar-stone and they there beheld the
signs of the browsing of the horses, cropping around the pillar, and they
looked close at the rude hoop which the royal hero had left behind about
the pillar-stone. [1]Then sat they down to wait till the army should come,
the while their musicians played to them.[1] And Ailill took the withy in
his hand and placed it in Fergus' hand, and Fergus read the ogam script
graven on the plug of the withy, and made known to the men of Erin what was
the meaning of the ogam writing that was on it. [2]When Medb came, she
asked, "Why wait ye here?" "Because of yonder withy we wait," Fergus made
answer; "there is an ogam writing on its binding and this is what it saith:
'Let no one go past here till a man be found to throw a withy like unto
this, using only one hand and made of a single branch, and I except my
master Fergus.'  Truly," Fergus added, "it was Cuchulain threw it, and it
was his steeds that grazed this plain." And he placed the hoop in the hands
of the druids,[2] and it is thus he began to recite and he pronounced a

    "What bespeaks this withe to us,
    What purports its secret rede?
    And what number cast it here,
    Was it one man or a host?

    "If ye go past here this night,
    And bide not [3]one night[3] in camp.
    On ye'll come the tear-flesh Hound;
    Yours the blame, if ye it scorn!

    "[4]Evil on the host he'll bring,[4]
    If ye go your way past this.
    [W.596.] Find, ye druids, find out here,
    For what cause this withe was made!"

[1]A druid speaks[1]:

    "Cut by hero, cast by chief,
    As a perfect trap for foes.
    Stayer of lords--with hosts of men--
    One man cast it with one hand!

    "With fierce rage the battle 'gins
    Of the Smith's Hound of Red Branch.[a]
    Bound to meet this madman's rage;
    This the name that's on the withe!

    [2]"Would the king's host have its will--
    Else they break the law of war--
    Let some one man of ye cast,
    As one man this withe did cast![2]

    "Woes to bring with hundred fights
    On four realms of Erin's land;
    Naught I know 'less it be this
    For what cause the withe was made!"

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 250.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 252-258.

    [3-3] Reading with Stowe, Add. and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] Reading with LU. and YBL. 261.

    [1-1] LU., marginal note.

    [a] The name of the festal hall of the kings of Ulster.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

After that lay: "I pledge you my word," said Fergus, "if so ye set at
naught yon withy and the royal hero that made it, [3]and if ye go beyond[3]
without passing a night's camp and quarterage here, or until a man of you
make a withy of like kind, using but one foot and one eye and one hand,
even as he made it, [4]certain it is, whether ye be[4] under the ground or
in a tight-shut house, [5]the man that wrote the ogam hereon[5] will bring
slaughter and bloodshed upon ye before the hour of rising on the morrow, if
ye make light of him!" "That, surely, would not be pleasing to us," quoth
Medb, "that any one should [6]straightway[6] spill our blood or besmirch us
red, now that we are come to this unknown province, even to the province of
Ulster. More pleasing would it be to us, to spill another's blood and
redden him." "Far be it from us to set this [W.618.] withy at naught," said
Ailill, "nor shall we make little of the royal hero that wrought it, rather
will we resort to the shelter of this great wood, [1]that is, Fidduin,
('the Wood of the Dûn')[1] southwards till morning. There will we pitch our
camp and quarters."

    [3-3] LU. 270.

    [4-4] Reading with Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. 271.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 273.

    [1-1] A gloss in YBL. 274; found also in Eg. 1782.

Thereupon the hosts advanced, and as they went they felled the wood with
their swords before their chariots, so that Slechta ('the Hewn Road') is
still the by-name of that place where is Partraige Beca ('the Lesser
Partry') south-west of Cenannas na Rig ('Kells of the Kings') near Cul

[2]According to other books, it is told as follows: After they had come to
[3]Fidduin[3] they saw a chariot and therein a beautiful maiden. It is
there that the conversation between Medb and Fedelm the seeress took place
that we spoke of before, and it is after the answer she made to Medb that
the wood was cut down: "Look for me," said Medb, "how my journey will be."
"It is hard for me," the maiden made answer, "for no glance of eye can I
cast upon them in the wood." "Then it is plough-land this shall be," quoth
Medb; "we will cut down the wood."  Now, this was done, so that this is the
name of the place, Slechta, to wit.[2]

    [2-2] YBL. 276-283.

    [3-3] '_Fedaduin_,' MS.

[4]They slept in Cul Sibrille, which is Cenannas.[4] A heavy snow fell on
them that night, and so great it was that it reached to the shoulders[a]
of the men and to the flanks of the horses and to the poles[b] of the
chariots, so that all the provinces of Erin were one level plane from the
snow. But no huts nor bothies nor tents did they set up that night, nor did
they [LL.fo.59.] prepare food nor drink, nor made they a meal nor repast.
None of the men of Erin [W.630.] wot whether friend or foe was next him
until the bright hour of sunrise on the morrow.

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

    [a] 'Girdles,' LU. and YBL. 284; 'shields,' Eg. 1782.

    [b] 'Wheels,' LU. and YBL. 285 and Eg. 1782.

Certain it is that the men of Erin experienced not a night of encampment or
of station that held more discomfort or hardship for them than that night
[1]with the snow[1] at Cul Sibrille. The four grand provinces of Erin moved
out early on the morrow [2]with the rising of the bright-shining sun
glistening on the snow[2] and marched on from that part into another.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 287.

    [2-2] Reading with Stowe.

Now, as regards Cuchulain: It was far from being early when he arose
[3]from his tryst.[3] And then he ate a meal and took a repast, and [4]he
remained until he had[4] washed himself and bathed on that day.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 288.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 289.

He called to his charioteer to lead out the horses and yoke the chariot.
The charioteer led out the horses and yoked the chariot, and Cuchulain
mounted his chariot.  And they came on the track of the army. They found
the trail of the men of Erin leading past them from that part into another.
"Alas, O master Laeg," cried Cuchulain, "by no good luck went we to our
tryst with the woman last night. [5]Would that we had not gone thither nor
betrayed the Ultonians.[5] This is the least that might be looked for from
him that keeps guard on the marches, a cry, or a shout, or an alarm, or to
call, 'Who goes the road?' This it fell not unto us to say. The men of Erin
have gone past us, [6]without warning, without complaint,[6] into the land
of Ulster." "I foretold thee that, O Cuchulain," said Laeg. "Even though
thou wentest to thy woman-tryst [7]last night,[7] such a disgrace would
come upon thee." "Good now, O Laeg, go thou for us on the trail of the host
and make an estimate of them, and discover [W.649.] for us in what number
the men of Erin went by us."

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 290.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe.

Laeg came on the track of the host, and he went to the front of the trail
and he came on its sides and he went to the back of it. "Thou art confused
in thy counting, O Laeg, my master," quoth Cuchulain. "Confused I must be,"
Laeg replied. [1]"It is not confusedly that I should see, if I should go,"
said Cuchulain.[1] "Come into the chariot then, and I will make a reckoning
of them." The charioteer mounted the chariot and Cuchulain went on the
trail of the hosts and [2]after a long while[2] he made a reckoning of
them. [3]"Even thou, it is not easy for thee.[3] Thou art perplexed in thy
counting, my little Cuchulain," quoth Laeg. "Not perplexed," answered
Cuchulain; [4]"it is easier for me than for thee.[4] [5]For I have three
magical virtues: Gift of sight, gift of understanding, and gift of
reckoning.[5] For I know the number wherewith the hosts went past us,
namely, eighteen cantreds. Nay more: the eighteenth cantred has been
distributed among [6]the entire host of[6] the men of Erin, [7]so that
their number is not clear, namely, that of the cantred of Leinstermen."[7]
[8]This here is the third cunningest [9]and most difficult[9] reckoning
that ever was made in Erin.  These were: The reckoning by Cuchulain of the
men of Erin on the Táin, the reckoning by Lug Lamfota ('Long-hand') of the
host of the Fomorians [10]in the Battle of Moytura,[10] and the reckoning
by Incel of the host in the Hostel of Da Derga.[8]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 294-295.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 297.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 297.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 297-298.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 298-299.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 302.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 302.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] LU. fo. 58a, in the margin.

    [10-10] LU. fo. 58a, in the margin.

Now, many and divers were the magic virtues that were in Cuchulain [11]that
were in no one else in his day.[11] Excellence of form, excellence of
shape, excellence of build, excellence [W.661.] in swimming, excellence in
horsemanship, excellence in chess and in draughts, excellence in battle,
excellence in contest, excellence in single combat, excellence in
reckoning, excellence in speech, excellence in counsel, excellence in
bearing, excellence in laying waste and in plundering from the neighbouring

    [11-11] Stowe, and LU. fo. 58a, 24, marginal note.

"Good, my friend Laeg. Brace the horses for us to the chariot; lay on the
goad for us on the horses; drive on the chariot for us and give thy left[a]
board to the hosts, to see can we overtake the van or the rear or the midst
of the hosts, for I will cease to live unless there fall by my hand this
night a friend or foe of the men of Erin."

    [a] A sign of enmity.

Then it was that the charioteer gave the prick to the steeds. He turned his
left board to the hosts till he arrived at Turloch[b] Caille More ('the
Creek of the Great Wood') northwards of Cnogba na Rig ('Knowth of the
Kings') which is called Ath Gabla ('the Ford of the Fork'). [1]Thereupon
Cuchulain went round the host till he came to Ath Grenca.[1] He went into
the wood at that place and sprang out of his chariot, and he lopped off a
four-pronged fork, root and top, with a single stroke [2]of his sword.[2]
He pointed and charred it and put a writing in ogam on its side, and he
gave it a long throw from the hinder part of his chariot with the tip of a
single hand, in such wise that two-thirds of it sank into the ground and
only one-third was above it [3]in the mid part of the stream, so that no
chariot could go thereby on this side or that.[3]

    [b] _Belach_ ('the Pass'), Eg. 1782.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 304.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 305.

Then it was that the same two striplings surprised him, namely, the two
sons of Nera son of Nuathar son of Tacan, while engaged in that feat. And
they vied which of the twain [4]would be the first to fight and contend
with Cuchuain, which of them[4] would inflict the first wound upon [W.680.]
him and be the first to behead him. Cuchulain turned on them, and
straightway he struck off their four heads [1]from themselves [2]Eirr and
Indell[2] and [3]from Foich and Fochlam,[3] their drivers,[1] and he fixed
a head of each man of them on each of the prongs of the pole. And Cuchulain
let the horses of the party go back in the direction of the men of Erin, to
return by the same road, their reins loose [4]around their ears[4] and
their bellies red and the bodies of the warriors dripping their blood down
outside on the ribs of the chariots. [5]Thus he did,[5] for he deemed it no
honour nor deemed he it fair to take horses or garments or arms from
corpses or from the dead. And then the troops saw the horses of the party
that had gone out in advance before them, and the headless bodies of the
warriors oozing their blood down on the ribs of the chariots ([6]and their
crimsoned trappings upon them[6]). The van of the army waited for the rear
to come up, and all were thrown into confusion of striking, that is as much
as to say, into a tumult of arms.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 306.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 306.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 310.

Medb and Fergus and the Manè and the sons of Maga drew near. For in this
wise was Medb wont to travel, and nine chariots with her alone; two of
these chariots before her, and two chariots behind, and two chariots at
either side, and her own chariot in the middle between them.  This is why
Medb did so, that the turves from the horses' hoofs, or the flakes of foam
from the bridle-bits, or the dust of the mighty host or of the numerous
throng might not reach the queen's diadem of gold [7]which she wore round
her head.[7] "What have we here?" queried Medb. "Not hard to say," each and
all made answer; [LL.fo.60.] "the horses of the band that went out before
us are here and their bodies lacking their heads in their chariots." They
held [W.702.] a council and they felt certain it was the sign of a
multitude and of the approach of a mighty host, and that it was the
Ulstermen that had come [1]and that it was a battle that had taken place
before them on the ford.[1] And this was the counsel they took: to
despatch Cormac Conlongas, Conchobar's son, from them to learn what was at
the ford; because, even though the Ulstermen might be there, they would not
kill the son of their own king. Thereupon Cormac Conlongas, Conchobar's
son, set forth and this was the complement with which he went, ten hundred
in addition to twenty hundred armed men, to ascertain what was at the
ford. And when he was come, he saw naught save the fork in the middle of
the ford, with four heads upon it dripping their blood down along the stem
of the fork into the stream of the river, [2]and a writing in ogam on the
side,[2] and the signs of the two horses and the track of a single
chariot-driver and the marks of a single warrior leading out of the ford
going therefrom to the eastward.  [3]By that time,[3] the nobles of Erin
had drawn nigh to the ford and they all began to look closely at the fork.
They marvelled and wondered who had set up the trophy.  [4]"Are yonder
heads those of our people?" Medb asked.  "They are our people's, and
our chosen ones'," answered Ailill. One of their men deciphered the
ogam-writing that was on the side of the fork, to wit: 'A single man cast
this fork with but a single hand; and go ye not past it till one man of you
throw it with one hand, excepting Fergus.'[4] "What name have ye men of
Ulster for this ford till now, Fergus?" asked Ailill. "Ath Grenca,"[a]
answered Fergus; "and Ath Gabla ('Ford of the Fork') shall now be its name
forever from this fork," said Fergus.  And he recited the lay:--

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 313.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 314.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 314-318.

    [a] So Stowe; LL. has '_Grena_.'

    [W.719.] "Grenca's ford shall change its name,
    From the strong and fierce Hound's deed.
    Here we see a four-pronged fork,
    Set to prove all Erin's men!

    "On two points--as sign of war--
    Are Fraech's head and Fochnam's head;
    On its other points are thrust
    Err's head and Innell's withal!

    "And yon ogam on its side,
    Find, ye druids, in due form,
    Who has set it upright there?
    What host drove it in the ground?"

(A druid answers:)

    "Yon forked pole--with fearful strength--
    Which thou seest, Fergus, there,
    One man cut, to welcome us,
    With one perfect stroke of sword!

    "Pointed it and shouldered it--
    Though this was no light exploit--
    After that he flung it down,
    To uproot for one of you!

    "Grenca was its name till now--
    All will keep its memory--
    Fork-ford[a] be its name for aye,
    From the fork that's in the ford!"

    [a] That is, _Ath Gabla_.

After the lay, spake Ailill: "I marvel and wonder, O Fergus, who could have
sharpened the fork and slain with such speed the four that had gone out
before us." "Fitter it were to marvel and wonder at him who with a single
stroke lopped the fork which thou seest, root and top, pointed and charred
it and flung it the length of a throw from the hinder part of his chariot,
from the tip of a single hand, so that it sank over two-thirds into the
ground and that naught save one-third is above; nor was a hole first dug
with his sword, but through a grey stone's flag it was thrust, and thus it
is geis for the men of Erin to proceed to the bed of this ford till one of
ye pull out the fork with the tip of one hand, even as he erewhile drove it

"Thou art of our hosts, O Fergus," said Medb; [W.753.] [1]avert this
necessity from us,[1] and do thou draw the fork for us from the bed of the
ford." "Let a chariot be brought me," cried Fergus, [2]"till I draw it out,
that it may be seen that its butt is of one hewing."[2] And a chariot was
brought to Fergus, and Fergus laid hold [3]with a truly mighty grip[3] on
the fork, and he made splinters and [LL.fo.61a.] scraps of the chariot.
"Let another chariot be brought me," cried Fergus. [4]Another[4] chariot
was brought to Fergus, and Fergus made a tug at the fork and again made
fragments and splinters of the chariot, [5]both its box and its yoke and
its wheels.[5] "Again let a chariot be brought me," cried Fergus. And
Fergus exerted his strength on the fork, and made pieces and bits of the
chariot.  There where the seventeen[a] chariots of the Connachtmen's
chariots were, Fergus made pieces and bits of them all, and yet he failed
to draw the fork from the bed of the ford. "Come now, let it be, O Fergus,"
cried Medb; "break our people's chariots no more. For hadst thou not been
now engaged on this hosting, [6]by this time[6] should we have come to
Ulster, driving divers spoils and cattle-herds with us. We wot wherefore
thou workest all this, to delay and detain the host till the Ulstermen rise
from their 'Pains' and offer us battle, the battle of the Táin."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 322.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 324.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [a] "Fourteen," LU. and YBL. 325 and Eg. 1782.

    [6-6] Stowe.

"Bring me a swift chariot," cried Fergus. And his own chariot was brought
to Fergus, and Fergus gave a tug at the fork, and nor wheel nor floor nor
one of the chariot-poles creaked nor cracked. Even though it was with his
strength and prowess that the one had driven it down, with his might and
doughtiness the other drew it out,--the battle-champion, the gap-breaker of
hundreds, the crushing sledge, the stone-of-battle for enemies, the
[W.777.] head of retainers, the foe of hosts, the hacking of masses, the
flaming torch and the leader of mighty combat. He drew it up with the tip
of one hand till it reached the slope of his shoulder, and he placed the
fork in Ailill's hand.  Ailill scanned it; he regarded it near. "The fork,
meseems, is all the more perfect," quoth Ailill; "for a single stroke I see
on it from butt to top." "Aye, all the more perfect," Fergus replied. And
Fergus began to sing praise [1]of Cuchulain,[1] and he made a lay

    "Here behold the famous fork,
    By which cruel Cuchulain stood.
    Here he left, for hurt to all,
    Four heads of his border-foes!

    "Surely he'd not flee therefrom,
    'Fore aught man, how brave or bold.
    Though the scatheless[a] Hound this left,
    On its hard rind there is gore!

    "To its hurt the host goes east,
    Seeking Cualnge's wild Brown bull.
    [2]Warriors' cleaving there shall be,[2]
    'Neath Cuchulain's baneful sword!

    "No gain will their[b] stout bull be,
    For which sharp-armed war will rage;
    At the fall of each head's skull
    Erin's every tribe shall weep!

    "I have nothing to relate
    As regards Dechtirè's son.[c]
    Men and women hear the tale
    Of this fork, how it came here!"

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [a] Literally, 'painless,' referring to Cuchulain's exemption from the
    _cess_ or 'debility' of the Ulstermen.

    [2-2] Reading with Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [b] Translating from Stowe; LL. has 'his' or 'its.'

    [c] That is, Cuchulain.

After this lay: "Let us pitch our booths and tents," said Ailill, "and let
us make ready food and drink, and let us sing songs and strike up harps,
and let us eat and [W.807.] regale ourselves, for, of a truth, never before
nor since knew the men of Erin a night of encampment or of entrenchment
that held sorer discomfort or distress for them than yester-night. [1]Let
us give heed to the manner of folk to whom we go and let us hear somewhat
of their deeds and famous tales."[1]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 329-330.

They raised their booths and pitched their tents. They got ready
[LL.fo.61b.] their food and drink, and songs were sung and harping intoned
by them, and feasting and eating indulged in, [2]and they were told of the
feats of Cuchulain.[2]

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 331.

And Ailill inquired of Fergus: "I marvel and wonder who could have come to
us to our lands and slain so quickly the four that had gone out before
us. Is it likely that Conchobar son of Fachtna Fatach ('the Mighty'), High
King of Ulster, has come to us?" "It is never likely that he has," Fergus
answered; "for a shame it would be to speak ill of him in his absence.
There is nothing he would not stake for the sake of his honour. For if he
had come hither [3]to the border of the land[3], there would have come
armies and troops and the pick of the men of Erin that are with him. And
even though against him in one and the same place, and in one mass and one
march and one camp, and on one and the same hill were the men of Erin and
Alba, Britons and Saxons, he would give them battle, before him they would
break and it is not he that would be routed."

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 333.

"A question, then: Who would be like to have come to us? Is it like that
Cuscraid Mend ('the Stammerer') of Macha would have come, Conchobar's son,
from Inis Cuscraid?" "Nay then, it is not; he, the son of the High King,"
Fergus answered. "There is nothing he would not hazard for the sake of his
honour. For were it he that had come hither, there would have come the
[W.827.] sons of kings and the royal leaders [1]of Ulster and Erin[1] that
are serving as hirelings with him. And though there might be against him in
one and the same place, in one mass and one march and one camp, and on one
and the same hill the men of Erin and Alba, Britons and Saxons, he would
give them battle, before him they would break and it is not he that would
be routed."

    [1-1] Stowe.

"I ask, then, whether Eogan son of Durthacht, King of Fernmag, would have
come?" "In sooth, it is not likely. For, had he come hither, the pick of
the men of Fernmag would have come with him, battle he would give them,
before him they would break, and it is not he that would be routed."

"I ask, then: Who would be likely to have come to us? Is it likely that he
would have come, Celtchai son of Uthechar?" "No more is it likely that it
was he. A shame it would be to make light of him in his absence, him the
battle-stone for the foes of the province, the head of all the retainers
and the gate-of-battle of Ulster. And even should there be against him in
one place and one mass and one march and one camp, and on one and the same
hill all the men of Erin from the west to the east, from the south to the
north, battle he would give them, before him they would break and it is not
he that would be routed."

"I ask, then: Who would be like to have come to us?"  [2]asked Ailill.[2]
[3]"I know not," Fergus replied,[3] "unless it be the little lad, my
nursling and Conchobar's.  Cuchulain ('the Wolf-dog of Culann the Smith')
he is called. [4]He is the one who could have done the deed," answered
Fergus. "He it is who could have lopped the tree with one blow from its
root, could have killed the four with the quickness wherewith they were
killed and could have come to the border with his charioteer."[4]

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 337-340.

[W.843.] "Of a truth," spake Ailill, "I heard from ye of this little boy
once on a time in Cruachan. What might be the age of this little boy now?"
"It is by no means his age that is most formidable in him," answered
Fergus.  "Because, manful were his deeds, those of that lad, at a time when
he was younger than he [1]now[1] is. [2]In his fifth year he went in quest
of warlike deeds among the lads of Emain Macha. In his sixth[a] year he
went to learn skill in arms and feats with Scathach,[2] [3]and he went to
woo Emer;[3] [4]in his seventh[b] year he took arms; in his seventeenth
year he is at this time."[4] "How so!"  exclaimed Medb. "Is there even now
amongst the Ulstermen one his equal in age that is more redoubtable than
he?"  "We have not found there [5]a man-at-arms that is harder,[5] [6]nor a
point that is keener, more terrible nor quicker,[6] nor a more bloodthirsty
wolf, [7]nor a raven more flesh-loving,[7] nor a wilder warrior, nor a
match of his age that would reach to a third or a fourth [LL.fo.62a.] the
likes of Cuchulain. Thou findest not there," Fergus went on, "a hero his
peer, [8]nor a lion that is fiercer, nor a plank of battle,[8] nor a sledge
of destruction, [9]nor a gate of combat,[9] nor a doom of hosts, nor a
contest of valour that would be of more worth than Cuchulain. Thou findest
not there one that could equal his age and his growth, [10]his dress[10]
[11]and his terror,[11] his size and his splendour, [12]his fame and his
voice, his shape and his power,[12] his form and his speech, his strength
and his feats and his valour, [13]his smiting, his heat and his anger,[13]
his dash, his assault and attack, his dealing of [W.857.] doom and
affliction, his roar, his speed, his fury, his rage, and his quick triumph
with the feat of nine men on each sword's point[a] above him, like unto

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 342-345.

    [a] 'Seventh,' YBL. 344.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 345.

    [4-4] LU. 346-347, and, similarly, YBL.

    [b] "Eight," YBL.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 349.

    [6-6] LU. 349-350.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 350.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 351-352.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 352.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 354.

    [11-11] YBL. 354.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 355-356.

    [13-13 LU. and YBL. 356-357.

    [a] Reading with Stowe, LU. and YBL. 359, which is more intelligible
    than 'on each hair,' which is the translation of LL.

"We make not much import of him," quoth Medb. "It is but a single body he
has; he shuns being wounded; he avoids being taken. They do say his age is
but that of a girl to be wed. [1]His deeds of manhood have not yet come,[1]
nor will he hold out against tried men, this young, beardless elf-man of
whom thou spokest." [2]"We say not so,"[2] replied Fergus, "for manful were
the deeds of the lad at a time when he was younger than he [3]now[3] is."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 363.

    [2-2] 'That is not true,' Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 46]



[W.865.] "Now this lad was reared in the house of his father and mother at
Dairgthech[1] ('the Oak House' (?)), namely, in the plain of Murthemne,
and the tales of the youths of Emain were told to him. [2]For there are
[3]always[3] thrice fifty boys at play there," said Fergus.[2] "Forasmuch
as in this wise Conchobar passed his reign ever since he, the king, assumed
his sovereignty, to wit: As soon as he arose, forthwith in settling the
cares and affairs of the province; thereafter, the day he divided in three:
first, the first third he spent a-watching the youths play games of skill
and of hurling; the next third of the day, a-playing draughts and chess,
and the last third a-feasting on meat and [4]a-quaffing[4] ale, till sleep
possessed them all, the while minstrels and harpers lulled him to sleep.
For all that I am a long time in banishment because of him, I give my
word," said Fergus, "there is not in Erin nor in Alba a warrior the like
of Conchobar."

    [1] Reading with LU. and YBL. 367.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 368-369.

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 371.

"And the lad was told the tales of the boys and the boy-troop in Emain; and
the child said to his mother, he would go to have part in the games on the
play-field of Emain. "It is too soon for thee, little son," said his
mother; "wait till there go with thee a champion of the champions of
[W.880.] Ulster, or some of the attendants of Conchobar to enjoin thy
protection and thy safety on the boy-troop." "I think it too long for that,
my mother," the little lad answered, "I will not wait for it. But do thou
show me what place lies Emain [1]Macha."[1] [2]"Northwards, there;[2] it is
far away from thee," said his mother, "the place wherein it lies, [3]and
the way is hard.[3] Sliab Fuait lies between thee and Emain." "At all
hazards, I will essay it," he answered.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 376-377.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 377.

"The boy fared forth and took his playthings with him. [4]His little
lath-shield[4] he took, and his hurley of bronze and his ball of silver;
and he took his little javelin for throwing; and his toy-staff he took with
its fire-hardened butt-end, and he began to shorten the length of his
journey with them. He would give the ball a stroke [LL.fo.62b.] with the
hurl-bat, so that he sent it a long distance from him. Then with a second
throw he would cast his hurley so that it went a distance no shorter than
the first throw. He would hurl his little darts, and let fly his toy-staff,
and make a wild chase after them. Then he would catch up his hurl-bat and
pick up the ball and snatch up the dart, and the stock of the toy-staff had
not touched the ground when he caught its tip which was in the air.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 380.

"He went his way to the mound-seat of Emain, where was the boy-troop.
Thrice fifty youths were with Folloman, Conchobar's son, at their games on
the fair-green of Emain.

"The little lad went on to the play-field into the midst of the boys, and
he whipped the ball between his two legs away from them, nor did he suffer
it to travel higher up than the top of his knee, nor did he let it lower
down than his ankle, and he drove it and held it between his two legs and
not one of the boys was able to get a prod nor a stroke nor a blow nor a
shot at it, so that he carried it over the [W.904.] brink of the goal away
from them. [1]Then he goes to the youths without binding them to protect
him. For no one used to approach them on their play-field without first
securing from them a pledge of protection. He was weetless thereof.[1]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 382-384.

"Then they all gazed upon him. They wondered and marvelled. "Come, boys!"
cried Folloman, Conchobar's son, [2]"the urchin insults us.[2] Throw
yourselves all on yon fellow, and his death shall come at my hands; for it
is geis among you for any youth to come into your game, without first
entrusting his safety to you. And do you all attack him together, for we
know that yon wight is some one of the heroes of Ulster; and they shall not
make it their wont to break into your sports without first entrusting their
safety and protection to you."

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 384-385.

"Thereupon they all set upon him together. They cast their thrice fifty
hurl-bats at the poll of the boy's head. He raises his single toy-staff
and wards off the thrice fifty hurlies, [3]so that they neither hurt him
nor harm him,[3] [4]and he takes a load of them on his back.[4] Then they
throw their thrice fifty balls at the lad. He raises his upper arm and his
forearm and the palms of his hands [5]against them[5] and parries the
thrice fifty balls, [6]and he catches them, each single ball in his
bosom.[6] They throw at him the thrice fifty play-spears charred at the
end. The boy raises his little lath-shield [7]against them[7] and fends off
the thrice fifty play-staffs, [8]and they all remain stuck in his
lath-shield.[8] [9]Thereupon contortions took hold of him. Thou wouldst
have weened it was a hammering wherewith each hair was hammered into his
head, with such an uprising it rose. Thou wouldst have weened it was a
spark of fire that was on every single hair there. He closed one of his
eyes so that it was no wider than the eye of a needle. He opened the other
wide so that it was as big as the mouth of a mead-cup.[a] He stretched his
mouth from his jaw-bones to his ears; he opened his mouth wide to his jaw
so that his gullet was seen. The champion's light rose up from his

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 391.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 389.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 387.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 391-397.

    [a] Or, 'a wooden beaker,' YBL. 395.

[W.919.] "It was then he ran in among them. He scattered fifty king's sons
of them over the ground underneath him [1]before they got to the gate of
Emain.[1] Five[b] of them," Fergus continued, "dashed headlong between me
and Conchobar, where we were playing chess, even on Cennchaem ('Fair-head')
[2]the chessboard of Conchobar,[2] on the mound-seat of Emain. The little
boy pursued them to cut them off. [3]Then he sprang over the chessboard
after the nine.[3] Conchobar seized the little lad by the wrists. "Hold,
little boy. I see 'tis not gently thou dealest with the boy-band." "Good
reason I have," quoth the little lad. [4]"From home, from mother and father
I came to play with them, and they have not been good to me.[4] I had not a
guest's honour at the hands of the boy-troop on my arrival, for all that I
came from far-away lands." "How is that?  Who art thou, [5]and what is thy
name?"[5] asked Conchobar. "Little Setanta am I, son of Sualtaim. Son am I
to Dechtirè, thine own sister; and not through thee did I expect to be thus
aggrieved." "How so, little one?" said Conchobar. "Knewest thou not that it
is forbidden among the boy-troop, that it is geis for them for any boy to
approach them in their land without first claiming his protection from
them?" "I knew it not," said the lad. [W.932.] "Had I known it, I would
have been on my guard against them." "Good, now, ye boys," Conchobar cried;
"take ye upon you the protection of the little lad." "We grant it, indeed,"
they made answer.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 398.

    [b] 'Nine,' LU. and YBL. 399 and Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 400.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 403-404.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 405.

"The little lad went [LL.fo.63a.] [1]into the game again[1] under the
protection of the boy-troop. Thereupon they loosed hands from him, and once
more he rushed amongst them [2]throughout the house.[2] He laid low fifty
of their princes on the ground under him. Their fathers thought it was
death he had given them. That was it not, but stunned they were with
front-blows and mid-blows and long-blows. "Hold!" cried Conchobar. "Why art
thou yet at them?" "I swear by my gods whom I worship" (said the boy) "they
shall all come under my protection and shielding, as I have put myself
under their protection and shielding. Otherwise I shall not lighten my
hands off them until I have brought them all to earth."  "Well, little lad,
take thou upon thee the protection of the boy-troop." "I grant it, indeed,"
said the lad. Thereupon the boy-troop went under his protection and

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 410.

"[3]Then they all went back to the play-field, and the boys whom he had
overthrown there arose. Their nurses and tutors helped them.

"Now, once upon a time," continued Fergus, "when he was a gilla, he slept
not in Emain Macha till morning." "Tell me," Conchobar said to him, "why
sleepest thou not [4]in Emain Macha, Cuchulain?"[4] "I sleep not, unless it
be equally high at my head and my feet." Then Conchobar had a pillar-stone
set up at his head and another at his feet, and between them a bed apart
was made for him.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 413-481.

    [4-4] YBL. 418.

"Another time a certain man went to wake him, and the lad struck him with
his fist in [1]the neck or in[1] the forehead, so that it drove in the
front of his forehead on to his brain and he overthrew the pillar-stone
with his forearm."  "It is known," exclaimed Ailill, "that that was the
fist of a champion and the arm of a hero." "And from that time," continued
Fergus, "no one durst wake him, so that he used to wake of himself.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

"Then, another time, he played ball on the play-field east of Emain, and he
was alone on one side against the thrice fifty boys. He always worsted in
every game in the east (?) in this way. Thereafter the lad began to use his
fists on them, so that fifty boys of them died thereof.  He took to flight
then, till he took refuge under the cushion of Conchobar's couch. The
Ulstermen sprang up all around him. I, too, sprang up, and Conchobar,
thereat.  The lad himself rose up under the couch, so that he hove up the
couch and the thirty warriors that were on it withal, so that he bore it
into the middle of the house. Straightway the Ulstermen sat around him in
the house. We settled it then," continued Fergus, "and reconciled the
boy-troop to him afterwards.

"The broil of war arose between Ulster and Eogan son of Durthacht. The
Ulstermen go forth to the war. The lad Setanta is left behind asleep. The
men of Ulster are beaten. Conchobar and Cuscraid Menn ('the Stammerer') of
Macha are left on the field and many besides them. Their groans awaken the
lad. Thereat he stretches himself, so that the two stones are snapped that
are near him. This took place in the presence of Bricriu yonder," Fergus
added. "Then he gets up. I meet him at the door of the liss, I being
severely wounded. "Hey, God keep thy life,[a] O Fergus my master," says he;
"where is Conchobar?" "I know not," I answer. Thereupon he goes out. The
night is dark. He makes for the battlefield, until he sees before him a man
and half his head on him and half of another man on his back. "Help me,
Cuchulain," he cries; "I have been stricken, and I bear on my back half of
my brother. Carry it for me a while." "I will not carry it," says he.
Thereupon the man throws the load at him. Cuchulain throws it back from
him. They grapple with one another. Cuchulain is overthrown. Then I heard
something. It was Badb[a] from the corpses: "Ill the stuff of a warrior
that is there under the feet of a phantom." Thereat Cuchulain arises from
underneath him, and he strikes off his head with his playing-stick and
proceeds to drive the ball before him over the field of battle.

    [a] A Christian salutation.

    [a] The war-fury.

"Is my master Conchobar on this battle-field?" That one makes answer. He
goes towards him, to where he espies him in a ditch and the earth piled
around him on both sides to hide him. "Wherefore art thou come to the
battle-field?" Conchobar asks; "is it that thou mightst see mortal terror
there?" Then Cuchulain lifts him out of the ditch. The six strong men of
Ulster that were with us could not have lifted him out more bravely. "Get
thee before us to yonder house," says Conchobar, [1]"to make me a fire
there." He kindles a great fire for him. "Good now," quoth Conchobar,[1]
"if one would bring me a roast pig, I would live." "I will go fetch it,"
says Cuchulain. Thereupon he sallies out, when he sees a man at a
cooking-pit in the heart of the wood. One of his hands holds his weapons
therein, the other roasts the pork. Ill-favoured, indeed, is the man. For
the which, Cuchulain attacks him and takes his head and his pig with
him. Conchobar eats the pig then. "Let us go to our house," says Conchobar.
They meet Cuscraid son of Conchobar and there were heavy wounds on
him. Cuchulain carries him on his back. The three then proceed to Emain

    [1-1] YBL. 461.

"Another time the Ulstermen were in their 'Pains.' Now, there was no
'Pains' amongst us," Fergus continued, "in women or boys, nor in any one
outside the borders of Ulster, nor in Cuchulain and his father. [1]It was
for this reason no one dared shed the blood of the men of Ulster, for that
the 'Pains' fell on the one that wounded them.[1] There came thrice nine
men from the Isles of Faiche. They pass over our rear fort, the whiles we
are in our 'Pains.' The women scream in the fort. The youths are in the
play-field. They come at the cry. When the boys catch sight of the swarthy
men, they all take to flight save Cuchulain alone. He hurls the hand-stones
and his playing-staff at them. He slays nine of them and they leave fifty
wounds on him and proceed thence on their journey.[3]

    [1-1] LU., edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe, page 19, note 23.

    [3-3] LU., and YBL. 413-481; see page 50.

[W.947.] "A youngster did that deed," Fergus continued, "at the close of
five years after his birth, when he overthrew the sons of champions and
warriors at the very door of their liss and dûn. No need is there of wonder
or surprise, [2]if he should do great deeds,[2] if he should come to the
confines of the land, if he should cut off the four-pronged fork, if he
should slay one man or two men or three men or four men, when there are
seventeen full years of him now on the Cattle-lifting of Cualnge."
[4]"In sooth, then, we know that youth," spoke out Conall Cernach ('the
Victorious'), "and it is all the better we should know him, for he is a
fosterling of our own."[4]

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 484-485.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 54]



[W.956.] Then it was that Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar spake: "Again
that little lad performed a second deed in the following year." "What deed
was that?" asked Ailill.

[1]"A goodly smith there was in the land of Ulster, Culann the Smith, by
name.[1] He made ready a feast for Conchobar and set out for Emain to
invite him. He made known to him that only a few should come with him, that
he should bring none but a true guest along, forasmuch as it was not a
domain or lands of his own that he had, but [2]the fruit of his two
hands,[2] his sledges and anvils, his fists and his tongs. Conchobar
replied that only a few would go to him.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU and YBL 489.

"Culann went back to the stithy to prepare and make ready meat and drink
[3]in readiness for the king.[3] Conchobar sat in Emain till it was time to
set out [4]for the feast,[4] till came the close of the day. The king put
his fine, light travelling apparel about him, [5]and went with fifty
chariot-chiefs of those that were noblest and most illustrious of the
heroes,[5] and betook him to the boys [6]before starting,[6] to bid them
farewell. [7]It was always [W.968.] his custom to visit and revisit them
when going and coming, to seek his blessing of the boys.[7] Conchobar came
on to the fair-green, and he saw a thing that astounded him: Thrice fifty
boys at one end of the green and a single boy at the other, and the single
boy won the victory at the goal and at hurling from the thrice fifty
boys. When it was at hole-play they were--a game of hole that used to be
played on the fair-green of Emain--and it was their turn to drive and his
to keep guard, he would catch the thrice fifty balls just outside of the
hole, and not one went by him into the hole. When it was their turn to keep
guard and his to drive, he would send the thrice fifty balls into the hole
without fail, [1]and the boys were unable to ward them off.[1] When it was
at tearing off each other's garments they played, he would strip off them
their thrice fifty suits [2]so that they were quite naked,[2] and they were
not able all of them to take as much as the brooch from his mantle. When it
was at wrestling they were, he would throw those same thrice fifty boys to
the ground under him, and they did not succeed all of them around him in
lifting him up. Conchobar looked with wonder at the little lad. "O, ye
youths," cried [LL.fo.63b.] Conchobar. "Hail to the land whence cometh the
lad ye see, if the deeds of his manhood shall be such as are those of his
boyhood!" "Tis not just to speak thus," exclaimed Fergus; "e'en as the
little lad grows, so will his deeds of manhood grow with him." "The little
lad shall be called to us, that he may come with us to enjoy the feast to
which we go." The little lad was summoned to Conchobar. "Good, my lad,"
said Conchobar. "Come thou with us to enjoy the feast whereto we go, [3]for
thou art a guest."[3] "Nay, but I will not go," the little boy answered.
"How so?" asked Conchobar.  [W.990.] "Forasmuch as the boys have not yet
had their fill of games and of sport, and I will not leave them till they
have had enough play." "It is too long for us to await thee till then,
little boy, and by no means shall we wait." "Go then before us," said the
little boy, "and I will follow after ye." "Thou knowest naught of the way,
little boy," said Conchobar. "I will follow the trail of the company and of
the horses and chariots."

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 489-491.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 492-494.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 497.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 502.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 507.

"Thereafter Conchobar came to the house of Culann the Smith. The king was
waited upon and all were shown honour, as befitted their rank and calling
and privileges, nobility and gentle accomplishment. Straw and fresh rushes
were spread out under them. They commenced to carouse and make merry.
Culann inquired of Conchobar: "Hast thou, O king, appointed any to come
after thee this night to this dûn?" "No, I appointed no one," replied
Conchobar, for he had forgotten the little lad whom he had charged to come
after him. "Why so?" asked Conchobar.  "An excellent bloodhound have I,
[1]that was brought from Spain.[1] [2]There are three[a] chains upon him,
and three men at each chain. Because of our goods and our cattle he is
slipped and the liss is closed.[2] When his dog-chain is loosed from him,
no one dares approach the same cantred with him to make a course or a
circuit, and he knows no one but myself. The power of hundreds is in him
for strength." Then spake Conchobar, "Let the dûn be opened for the
ban-dog, that he may guard the cantred." The dog-chain is taken off the
ban-dog, and he makes a swift round of the cantred. And he comes to the
mound whereon he was wont to keep guard of the stead, and there he was, his
head couched on his paws, and wild, untameable, furious, savage, ferocious,
ready for fight was the dog that was there.

    [1-1] LU. 513.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 512-513.

    [a] 'four,' Eg. 1782.

[W.1013.] "As for the boys: They were in Emain until the time came for them
to disperse. Each of them went to the house of his father and mother, of
his foster-mother and foster-father.  Then the little lad went on the trail
of the party, till he reached the house of Culann the Smith. He began to
shorten the way as he went with his play-things. [1]He threw his ball and
threw his club after it, so that it hit the ball. The one throw was no
greater than the other. Then he threw his staff after them both, so that it
reached the ball and the club before ever they fell.[1] [2]Soon the lad
came up.[2] When he was nigh to the green of the fort wherein were Culann
and Conchobar, he threw all his play-things before him except only the
ball. The watch-dog descried the lad and bayed at him, so that in all the
countryside was heard the howl of the watch-hound. And not a division of
feasting was what he was inclined to make of him, but to swallow him down
at one gulp past the cavity [LL.fo.64a.] of his chest and the width of his
throat and the pipe of his breast. [3]And it interfered not with the lad's
play, although the hound made for him.[3] And the lad had not with him any
means of defence, but he hurled an unerring cast of the ball, so that it
passed through the gullet of the watch-dog's neck and carried the guts
within him out through his back door, and he laid hold of the hound by the
two legs and dashed him against a pillar-stone [4]that was near him, so
that every limb of him sprang apart,[4] so that he broke into bits all over
the ground.[a] Conchobar heard the yelp of the ban-dog. [5]Conchobar and
his people could not move; they weened they would not find the lad alive
before them.[5] "Alas, O warriors," cried Conchobar; "in no good luck
[W.1029.] have we come to enjoy this feast." "How so?" asked all. "The
little lad who has come to meet me, my sister's son, Setanta son of
Sualtaim, is undone through the hound."  As one man, arose all the renowned
men of Ulster. Though a door of the hostel was thrown wide open, they all
rushed in the other direction out over the palings of the fortress. But
fast as they all got there, faster than all arrived Fergus, and he lifted
the little lad from the ground on the slope of his shoulder and bore him
into the presence of Conchobar.  [1]They put him on Conchobar's knee. A
great alarm arose amongst them that the king's sister's son should have
been all but killed.[1] And Culann came out, and he saw his slaughter-hound
in many pieces. He felt his heart beating against his breast. Whereupon he
went into the dûn. "Welcome thy coming, little lad," said Culann, "because
of thy mother and father, but not welcome is thy coming for thine own
sake. [2]Yet would that I had not made a feast."[2] "What hast thou against
the lad?"  queried Conchobar. "Not luckily for me hast thou come to quaff
my ale and to eat my food; for my substance is now a wealth gone to waste,
and my livelihood is a livelihood lost [3]now after my dog.[3] [4]He hath
kept honour and life for me.[4] Good was the friend thou hast robbed me of,
[5]even my dog,[5] in that he tended my herds and flocks and stock for me;
[6]he was the protection of all our cattle, both afield and at home."[6]
"Be not angered thereat, O Culann my master," said the little boy. [7]"It
is no great matter,[7] for I will pass a just judgement upon it." "What
judgement thereon wilt thou pass, lad?"  Conchobar asked. "If there is a
whelp of the breed of that dog in Erin, he shall be reared by me till he be
fit to do [W.1049.] business as was his sire. [1]Till then[1] myself will
be the hound to protect his flocks and his cattle and his land [2]and even
himself[2] in the meanwhile. [3]And I will safeguard the whole plain of
Murthemne, and no one will carry off flock nor herd without that I know

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 515-518.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 514.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 518-519.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 525.

    [a] According to the LU.-YBL. version, Cuchulain seized the hound with
    one hand by the apple of the throat and with the other by the back.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 519-521.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 529-530.

    [2-2] LU and YBL. 532.

    [3-3] Stowe, YBL. and LU. 533-534.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 334.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 535.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 536.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 537.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Literally, 'thyself,' LU. and YBL. 539.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 540-541.

"Well hast thou given judgement, little lad," said Conchobar.  "In sooth,
we [4]ourselves[4] could not give one that would be better," said
Cathba.[a] "Why should it not be from this that thou shouldst take the name
Cuchulain, ('Wolfhound of Culann')?" "Nay, then," answered the lad; "dearer
to me mine own name, Setanta son of Sualtaim." "Say not so, lad," Cathba
continued; "for the men of Erin and Alba shall hear that name and the
mouths of the men of Erin and Alba shall be full of that name!" "It
pleaseth me so, whatever the name that is given me," quoth the little
lad. Hence the famous name that stuck to him, namely Cuchulain, after he
had killed the hound that was Culann's the Smith's.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [a] The name of Conchobar's druid.

"A little lad did that deed," [LL.fo.64b.] added Cormac Conlongas son of
Conchobar, "when he had completed six years after his birth, when he slew
the watch-dog that hosts nor companies dared not approach in the same
cantred. No need would there be of wonder or of surprise if he should come
to the edge of the marches, if he should cut off the four-pronged fork, if
he should slay one man or two men or three men or four men, now when his
seventeen years are completed on the Cattle-driving of Cualnge!"

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 60]



[W.1068.] "The little lad performed a third deed in the following year,"
said Fiachu son of Firaba. "What deed performed he?" asked Ailill.

    [1-1] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] LU. fo. 61a, in the margin.

"Cathba the druid was [3]with his son, namely Conchobar son of Ness,[3]
imparting [4]learning[4] to his pupils in the north-east of Emain, and
eight[a] [5]eager[5] pupils in the class of druidic cunning were with
him. [6]That is the number that Cathba instructed.[6] [7]One of them[7]
questioned his teacher, what fortune and presage might there be for the day
they were in, whether it was good or whether it was ill. Then spake Cathba:
"The little boy that takes arms [8]this day[8] shall be splendid and
renowned [9]for deeds of arms[9] [10]above the youths of Erin [11]and the
tales of his high deeds shall be told[11] forever,[10] but he shall be
short-lived and fleeting." Cuchulain overheard what he said, though far
off at his play-feats south-west of Emain; and he threw away all his
play-things and hastened to Conchobar's sleep-room [12]to ask for arms.[12]
"All [W.1077.] good attend thee, O king of the Fenè!" cried the little lad.
"This greeting is the speech of one soliciting something of some one. What
wouldst thou, lad?" said Conchobar. "To take arms," the lad made answer.
"Who hath advised thee, little boy?" asked Conchobar. "Cathba the druid,"
said the lad. "He would not deceive thee, little boy," said Conchobar.
Conchobar gave him two spears and a sword and a shield. The little boy
shook and brandished the arms [1]in the middle of the house[1] so that he
made small pieces and fragments of them. Conchobar gave him other two
spears and a shield and a sword. He shook and brandished, flourished and
poised them, so that he shivered them into small pieces and fragments.
There where were the fourteen[a] suits of arms which Conchobar had in
Emain, [2]in reserve in case of breaking of weapons or[2] for equipping the
youths and the boys--to the end that whatever boy assumed arms, it might be
Conchobar that gave him the equipment of battle, and the victory of cunning
would be his thenceforward--even so, this little boy made splinters and
fragments of them all.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 547.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [a] 'One hundred' is the number in LU. and YBL. 547.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 548.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 548.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 550.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 551.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 551-552.

    [11-11] Stowe.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 553.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 557.

    [a] 'Fifteen,' LU. and YBL. 556; 'seventeen,' Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 557.

"Truly these arms here are not good, O Conchobar my master," the stripling
cried. "Herefrom cometh not what is worthy of me." Conchobar gave him his
own two spears and his shield and his sword. He shook and he brandished, he
bent and he poised them so that tip touched butt, and he brake not the arms
and they bore up against him, [3]and he saluted the king whose arms they
were.[3] "Truly, these arms are good," said the little boy; "they are
suited to me. Hail to the king whose arms and equipment these are. Hail to
the land whereout he is come!"

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 559-560.

"Then Cathba the druid chanced to come into the tent, and what he said was,
"Hath he yonder taken arms?" [W.1101.] Cathba asked. "Aye, then, it must
be," Conchobar answered. "Not by [1]his[1] mother's son would I wish them
to be taken this day," said Cathba. "How so?  Was it not thyself advised
him?" Conchobar asked. "Not I, in faith," replied Cathba. "What mean'st
thou, bewitched elf-man?" cried Conchobar [2]to Cuchulain.[2] "Is it a lie
thou hast told us?" [LL.fo.65a.] "But be not wroth [3]thereat,[3] O my
master Conchobar," said the little boy.  [4]"No lie have I told;[4] for yet
is it he that advised me, [5]when he taught his other pupils this
morning.[5] For his pupil asked him what luck might lie in the day, and he
said: The youth that took arms on this day would be illustrious and famous,
[6]that his name would be over the men of Erin for ever, and that no evil
result would be on him thereafter,[6] except that he would be fleeting and
short-lived. [7]To the south of Emain I heard him, and then I came to
thee."[7] "That I avow to be true," spake Cathba. [8]"Good indeed is the
day,[8] glorious and renowned shalt thou be, [9]the one that taketh
arms,[9] yet passing and short lived!" "Noble the gift!" cried Cuchulain.
[10]"Little it recks me,[10] though I should be but one day and one night
in the world, if only the fame of me and of my deeds live after me!"

    [1-1] Reading with Stowe, LU. and YBL. 563.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 566.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 567.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 567.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 568.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 569.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 570.

    [10-10] Stowe.

"[11] Another day one of them asked of the druids for what that day would
be propitious. "The one that mounts a chariot to-day," Cathba answered,
"his name will be renowned over Erin for ever." Now Cuchulain heard that.
He went to Conchobar and said to him, "O Conchobar my master, give me a
chariot!" He gave him a chariot.[11] [W.1113.] "Come, lad, mount the
chariot, for this is the next thing for thee."

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 573-577.

"He mounted the chariot. [1]He put his hands between the two poles of the
chariot,[1] and the first chariot he mounted withal he shook and tossed
about him till he reduced it to splinters and fragments. He mounted the
second chariot, so that he made small pieces and fragments of it in like
manner. Further he made pieces of the third chariot. There where were the
seventeen[a] chariots which Conchobar kept for the boy-troop and youths in
Emain, the lad made small pieces and fragments of them and they did not
withstand him. "These chariots here are not good, O my master Conchobar,"
said the little boy; "my merit cometh not from them." "Where is Ibar[b] son
of Riangabair?" asked Conchobar. "Here, in sooth, am I," Ibar answered.
"Take with thee mine own two steeds for him yonder, and yoke my chariot."
Thereupon the charioteer took the horses and yoked the chariot. Then the
little boy mounted the chariot [2]and Conchobar's charioteer with him.[2]
He shook the chariot about him, and it withstood him, and he broke it
not. "Truly this chariot is good," cried the lad, "and this chariot is
suited to me." [3]The charioteer turned the chariot under him.[3] "Prithee,
little boy," said Ibar, [4]"come out[c] of the chariot now[4] and let the
horses out on their pasture." "It is yet too soon, O Ibar," the lad
answered. [5]"The horses are fair. I, too, am fair, their little lad.[5]
[6]Only[6] let us go on a circuit of Emain to-day [7]and thou shalt have a
reward therefor,[7] to-day being my first day of [W.1132.] taking arms, to
the end that it be a victory of cunning for me."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 578.

    [a] 'Twelve,' LU. and YBL. 579.

    [b] The name of Conchobar's charioteer.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 580-581 and Eg. 1782.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 581.

    [c] Following the emendation suggested by Strachan and O'Keeffe, page
    23, note 21.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 582.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 583.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 584.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 585.

"Thrice they made the circuit of Emain. "Leave the horses now to their
grazing, O little boy," said Ibar. "It is yet too soon, O Ibar," the little
lad answered; "let us keep on, that the boys may give me a blessing to-day
the first day of my taking arms." They kept their course to the place where
the boys were. "Is it arms he yonder has taken?" each one asked. "Of a
truth, are they."  "May it be for victory, for first wounding and triumph.
But we deem it too soon for thee to take arms, because thou departest from
us at the game-feats." "By no means will I leave ye, but for luck I took
arms this day."  "Now, little boy, leave the horses to their grazing," said
Ibar. "It is still too soon for that, O Ibar," the lad answered. [1]"Ply
the goad on the horses," said he. "What way, then?" the charioteer
asked. "As far as the road shall lead," answered Cuchulain.[1] "And this
great road winding by us, what way leads it?" the lad asked. "What is that
to thee?" Ibar answered. "But thou art a pleasant wight, I trow, little
lad," quoth Ibar. "I wish, fellow, to inquire about the high-road of the
province, what stretch it goes?" "To Ath na Foraire ('the Ford of
Watching') in Sliab Fuait it goes," Ibar answered. "Wherefore is it called
'the Ford of Watching,' knowest thou?" "Yea, I know it well," Ibar made
answer. "A stout warrior of Ulster is on watch and on guard there [2]every
day,[2] so that there come no strange youths into Ulster to challenge them
to battle, and he is a champion to give battle in behalf of the whole
province. Likewise if men of song leave the Ulstermen [LL.fo.65b.] and the
province in dudgeon, he is there to soothe them by proffering treasures and
valuables, and so to save the honour of the province. Again, if men of song
[W.1155.] enter the land, he is the man that is their surety that they win
the favour of Conchobar, so that songs and lays made for him will be the
first to be sung after their arrival in Emain." "Knowest thou who is at the
ford to-day?"  "Yea, I know," Ibar answered; "Conall Cernach ('the
Triumphant'), the heroic, warlike son of Amargin, royal champion of Erin,"
Ibar answered. "Thither guide us, fellow, that so we reach the ford."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 589-590.

    [2-2] Stowe.

"Onwards they drove into sight of the ford where was Conall. [1]Now it fell
to Conall Cernach to guard the province that day. For each champion of
Ulster spent his day on Sliab Fuait to protect him that came with a lay or
to fight with a warrior, so that some one would be there to meet him, in
order that none might come to Emain unperceived.[1] "Are those arms he
yonder has taken?" asked Conall. "Of a truth, are they," Ibar made
answer. "May it be for victory and for triumph and first wounding," said
Conall; "but we think it too soon for thee to take arms, because thou art
not yet capable of deeds. Were it surety he needed, he that should come
hither," he continued, "so wouldst thou furnish a perfect warrant amongst
the Ulstermen, and the nobles of the province would rise up to support thee
in the contest." "What dost thou here, O Conall my master?" asked the
lad. "Watch and ward of the province, lad, I keep here," Conall made
answer.  "Do thou go home now, O master Conall," said the lad, "and leave
me the watch and guard of the province to keep here." "Say not so, little
son," replied Conall; [2]"'twould be enough, were it to protect one that
came with a song; were it to fight with a man, however, that is still too
soon for thee[2]; thou art not yet able to cope with a goodly warrior."
"Then, will I keep on to the south," [W.1172.] said the little boy, "to
Fertas ('the Bank') of Loch Echtrann for a while; [1]champions are wont to
take stand there;[1] perchance I may redden my hands on friend or on foe
this day." "I will go, little boy," said Conall, "to save thee, that thou
go not alone [2]into peril[2] on the border." "Not so," said the lad. "But
I will go," said Conall; "for the men of Ulster will blame me for leaving
thee to go alone on the border."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 592-596.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 599-601.

    [1-1] LU.and YBL. 603.

    [2-2] Stowe.

"Conall's horses were caught for him and his chariot was yoked and he set
out to protect the little boy. When Conall came up abreast of him,
Cuchulain felt certain that, even though a chance came to him, Conall would
not permit him to use it. He picked up a hand-stone from the ground which
was the full of his grasp. He hurled it from him [3]from his sling[3] the
length of a stone-shot at the yoke of Conall's chariot, so that he broke
the chariot-collar[a] in two and thereby Conall fell to the ground, so that
the nape of his neck went out from his shoulder. "What have we here, boy?"
asked Conall; [4]"why threwest thou the stone?"[4] "It is I threw it to see
if my cast be straight, or how I cast at all, or if I have the stuff of a
warrior in me." "A bane on thy cast and a bane on thyself as well. E'en
though thou leavest thy head this time with thine enemies, I will go no
further to protect thee." "'Twas what I craved of thee," answered he; "for
it is geis amongst you men of Ulster to proceed, after a mishap has
befallen your chariots. [5]Go back[5] [6]to Emain,[6] [7]O Conall, and
leave me here to keep watch." "That pleaseth me well," replied Conall.[7]
Conall turned back northwards again to the Ford of Watching. [8]Thereafter
Conall Cernach went not past that place.[8]

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 604.

    [a] In LU. and YBL., 'the shaft of the chariot.'

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 605-606.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 608.

    [6-6] LU. 608.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 609-610.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 610.

[W.1192.] As for the little boy, he fared southwards to Fertas Locha
Echtrann. He remained there till the end of the day [1]and they found no
one there before them.[1] "If we dared tell thee, little boy," spoke Ibar,
"it were time for us to return to Emain [LL.fo.66a.] now; for dealing and
carving and dispensing of food is long since begun in Emain, and there is a
place assigned for thee there. Every day it is appointed thee to sit
between Conchobar's feet, while for me there is naught but to tarry among
the hostlers and tumblers of Conchobar's household. [2]For that reason,[2]
methinks it is time to have a scramble[a] among them."  "Fetch then the
horses for us." The charioteer fetched the horses and the lad mounted the
chariot. "But, O Ibar, what hill is that there now, the hill to the north?"
the lad asked. "Now, that is Sliab Moduirn," Ibar answered. [3]"Let us go
and get there," said Cuchulain. Then they go on till they reach it.[3]
[4]When they reached the mountain, Cuchulain asked,[4] "And what is that
white cairn yonder on the height of the mountain?" "And that is Finncharn
('the White Cairn') of Sliab Moduirn," Ibar answered.  "But yonder cairn is
beautiful," exclaimed the lad. "It surely is beautiful," Ibar answered.
"Lead on, fellow, till we reach yonder cairn." "Well, but thou art both a
pleasant and tedious inquisitor, I see," exclaimed Ibar; "but this is my
first [5]journey and my first[5] time with thee. It shall be my last time
till the very day of doom, if once I get back to Emain."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 612.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [a] Or, more literally, 'a clawing match.'

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 615-616.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 616.

    [5-5] Stowe.

"Howbeit they went to the top of the hill. "It is pleasant here, O Ibar,"
the little boy exclaimed. "Point out to me Ulster on every side, for I am
no wise acquainted with the land of my master Conchobar." The horseman
[W.1211.] pointed him out Ulster all around him. He pointed him out the
hills and the fields and the mounts of the province on every side. He
pointed him out the plains and the dûns and the strongholds of the
province. "'Tis a goodly sight, O Ibar," exclaimed the little lad. "What is
that indented, angular, bordered and glenny plain to the south of us?"
"Mag Breg," replied Ibar. "Tell thou to me the buildings and forts of that
plain." The gilla taught him [1]the name of every chief dûn between Temair
and Cenannas,[1] Temair and Taltiu, Cletech and Cnogba and Brug ('the
Fort') of Mac ind Oc. [2]He pointed out to him then[2] the dûn of the
[3]three[3] sons of Necht Scenè ('the Fierce'): [4]Foill and Fandall and
Tuachall, their names;[4] [5]Fer Ulli son of Lugaid was their father, and
Necht [6]from the mouth of the[6] Scenè was their mother. Now the Ulstermen
had slain their father; it was for that reason they were at war with
Ulster.[5] "But are those not Necht's sons, that boast that not more of the
Ulstermen are alive than have fallen at their hands?" "The same, in sooth,"
answered the gilla. "On with us to the dûn of the macNechta," cried the
little boy. "Alas, in truth, that thou sayest so," quoth Ibar; [7]"'tis
a peril for us."[7] [8]"Truly, not to avoid it do we go," answered
Cuchulain.[8] "We know it is an act of great folly for us to say so, but
whoever may go," said Ibar, "it will not be myself." "Living or dead, go
there thou shalt," the little boy cried. "'Tis alive I shall go to the
south," answered Ibar, "and dead I shall be left at the dûn, I know, even
at the dûn of the macNechta."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 620.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 623.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 623.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 624.

    [5-5] LU. 623, marginal note.

    [6-6] LU. 623, gloss.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 627.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 628.

"They push on to the dûn [1]and they unharness their horses in the place
where the bog and the river meet south [W.1227.] of the dûn of the
macNechta.[1] And the little boy sprang out of the chariot onto the
green. Thus was the green of the dûn, with a pillar-stone upon it and an
iron band around that, and a band for prowess it was, and there was a
writing in ogam at its joint, and this is the writing it bore: 'Whoever
should come to the green, if he be a champion, it is geis for him to depart
from the green without giving challenge to single combat.[1] The lad
deciphered the writing and put his two arms around the pillar-stone. Just
as the pillar-stone was with its ring, he flung it [2]with a cast of his
hand[2] into the moat, so that a wave passed over it. "Methinks," spake
Ibar, "it is no better now than to be where it was.  And we know thou shalt
now get on this green the thing thou desirest, even the token of death,
yea, of doom and destruction!" [3]For it was the violation of a geis of
the sons of Necht Scenè to do that thing.[3] "Good, O Ibar, spread the
chariot-coverings and its skins for me that I may [LL.fo.66b.] snatch a
little sleep." "Woe is me, that thou sayest so," answered the gilla; "for a
foeman's land is this and not a green for diversion." [4]And Cuchulain said
to the gilla, "Do not awaken me for a few but awaken me for many."[4] The
gilla arranged the chariot-coverings and its skins [5]under Cuchulain, and
the lad fell asleep on the green.[5]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 629.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 630.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 631.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 634-635.

    [5-5] Stowe.

"Then came one of the macNechta on to the fair-green, to wit, Foill son of
Necht. [6]Then was the charioteer sore afraid, for he durst not waken him,
for Cuchulain had told him at first not to waken him for a few.[6] "Unyoke
not the horses, gilla," cried Foill. "I am not fain to, at all," answered
Ibar; "the reins and the lines are still in my hand." "Whose horses are
those, then?" Foill asked. [W.1246.] "Two of Conchobar's horses," answered
the gilla; "the two of the dappled heads." "That is the knowledge I have of
them. And what hath brought these steeds here to the borders?" "A tender
youth that has assumed arms amongst us [1]to-day for luck and good
omen,"[1] the horseboy answered, "is come to the edges of the marshes to
display his comeliness." "May it not be for victory nor for triumph, [2]his
first-taking of arms,"[2] exclaimed Foill. [3]"Let him not stop in our land
and let the horses not graze here any longer.[3] If I knew he was fit for
deeds, it is dead he should go back northwards to Emain and not alive!" "In
good sooth, he is not fit for deeds," Ibar answered; "it is by no means
right to say it of him; it is the seventh year since he was taken from the
crib. [4]Think not to earn enmity,"[a] Ibar said further to the warrior;
"and moreover the child sleepeth."[4]

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 635-638.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 641.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 642.

    [a] That is, the enmity of the Ulstermen by slaying Cuchulain.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 644-645.

"The little lad raised his face from the ground and drew his hand over his
face, and he became as one crimson wheelball from his crown to the
ground. [5]"Not a child am I, at all, but it is to seek battle with a man
that this child here is come.[5] Aye, but I am fit for deeds!"  the lad
cried. [6]"That pleaseth me well," said the champion;[6] "but more like
than what thou sayest, meseemeth, thou art not fit for deeds." "Thou wilt
know that better if we go to the ford. But, go fetch thy weapons, for I see
it is in the guise of a churl thou art come, and I slay nor charioteers nor
grooms nor folk without arms."  The man went apace after his arms.
[7]"Now[7] thou shouldst have a care for us against yonder man [8]that
comes to meet thee,[8] little lad," said Ibar. "And why so?" [W.1262.]
asked the lad. "Foill son of Necht is the man thou seest.  Neither points
nor edges of weapons can harm him." "Not before me shouldst thou say that,
O Ibar," quoth the lad.  "I will put my hand to the lath-trick for him,
namely, to the apple of twice-melted iron, and it will light upon the disc
of his shield and on the flat of his forehead, and it will carry away the
size of an apple of his brain out through the back of his head, so that it
will make a sieve-hole outside of his head, till the light of the sky will
be visible through his head."

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 645-646.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 647.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 649.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 649.

"Foill son of Necht came forth. Cuchulain took the lath-trick in hand for
him and threw it from him the length of his cast, so that it lighted on the
flat of his shield and on the front of his forehead and carried away the
bulk of an apple of his brain out through the back of his head, so that it
made a sieve-hole thereof outside of his head, till the light of the sky
might be seen through his head. [1]He went to him then[1] and struck off
the head from the trunk. [2]Thereafter he bore away his spoils and his
head with him.[2]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 665.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 655.

"Then came the second son out on the green, [3]his name[3] Tuachall ('the
Cunning') son of Necht. "Aha, I see thou wouldst boast of this deed," quoth
Tuachall. "In the first place I deem it no cause to boast for slaying one
champion," said Cuchulain; "thou shalt not boast of it this time, for thou
shalt fall by my hand." "Off with thee for thine arms, then, for 'tis not
as a warrior thou art come." The man rushed after his arms. "Thou shouldst
have a care for us against yon man, lad," said Ibar. "How so?" the lad
asked. "Tuachall son of Necht is the man thou beholdest. [4]And he is
nowise miss-named, for he falls not by arms at all.[4] Unless thou worstest
him with the first blow or with the first shot or with the first touch,
[LL.fo.67a.] thou wilt not worst him [W.1283.] ever, because of his
craftiness and the skill wherewith he plays round the points of the
weapons." "That should not be said before me, O Ibar," cried the lad. [1]"I
swear by the god by whom my people swear, he shall never again ply
his skill on the men of Ulster.[1] I will put my hand on Conchobar's
well-tempered lance, on the Craisech Nemè ('the Venomous Lance'). [2]It
will be an outlaw's hand to him.[2] It will light on the shield over his
belly, and it will crush through his ribs on the farther side after
piercing his heart in his breast. That would be the smiting cast of an
enemy and not the friendliness of a fellow countryman![a] From me he shall
not get sick-nursing or care till the brink of doom."

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 662-663.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 651-652.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 653; probably a proverbial expression.

    [a] The force of Cuchulain's boast lay in the fact that, according to
    the Brehon Laws, if the aggressor were not a native or of the same
    class as the injured party, he was exempt from the law of compensation.

"Tuachall son of Necht came forth on the green, and the lad laid his hand
on Conchobar's lance against him, and it struck the shield above his belly
and broke through the ribs on the farther side after piercing his heart
within his breast. He struck off his head or ever it reached the ground.
[3]Thereafter Cuchulain carried off his head and his spoils with him to his
own charioteer.[3]

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 666.

"Then came the youngest of the sons forth on the green, namely, Fandall son
of Necht. "Fools were the folk who fought with thee here," cried Fandall.
"How, now!"  cried the lad. "Come down to the pool, where thy foot findeth
not bottom." Fandall rushed on to the pool.  "Thou shouldst be wary for us
of him, little boy," said Ibar. "Why should I then?" asked the lad.
"Fandall son of Necht is the man whom thou seest. For this he bears the
name Fandall ('the Swallow'): like a swallow or weasel[b] he courseth the
sea; the swimmers of the world [W.1302.] cannot reach him." "Thou shouldst
not speak thus before me, O Ibar," said the lad. [1]"I swear, never again
will he ply that feat on the men of Ulster.[1] Thou knowest the river that
is in our land, in Emain, the Callann. When the boys frequent it with their
games of sport and when the water is not beneath them, [2]if the surface is
not reached by them all,[2] I do carry a boy over it on either of my palms
and a boy on either of my shoulders, and I myself do not even wet my ankles
under the weight of them."

    [b] LU. and YBL. have 'a swan.'

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 657-658.

    [2-2] Stowe. That is, when the water is over their heads.

"They met upon the water [3]and they engaged in wrestling upon it,[3] and
the little boy closed his arms over Fandall, so that the sea came up even
with him, and he gave him a deft blow with Conchobar's sword and chopped
off his head from the trunk, and left the body to go down with the stream,
and he carried off the head [4]and the spoils[4] with him.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 661.

"Thereupon Cuchulain went into the dûn and pillaged the place and burned it
so that its buildings were no higher than its walls. And they turned on
their way to Sliab Fuait and carried the three heads of Necht's sons with
them. [5]Soon Cuchulain heard the cry of their mother after them, of Necht
Scenè, namely."[5] [6]"Now I will not give over my spoils," cried
Cuchulain, "till I reach Emain Macha." Thereupon Cuchulain and Ibar set out
for Emain Macha with their spoils. It was then Cuchulain spoke to his
charioteer: "Thou didst promise us a good run," said Cuchulain, "and we
need it now because of the storm and pursuit that is after us." Forthwith
they hasten to Sliab Fuait. Such was the speed of the course they held over
Breg, after the urging of the charioteer, that the horses of the chariot
overtook the wind and the birds in [W.1317.] their flight and Cuchulain
caught the throw he had cast from his sling or ever it reached the ground.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 667-668.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 669-679.

"When they came to Sliab Fuait[6] they espied a herd of wild deer before
them. "What are those many cattle, O Ibar, those nimble ones yonder?" asked
the lad; "are they tame or are they other deer?" "They are real wild deer,
indeed," Ibar answered; "herds of wild deer that haunt the wastes of Sliab
Fuait." [1]"Which," asked Cuchulain, "would the men of Ulster deem best,
to bring them dead or alive?" "More wonderful, alive," answered the
charioteer; "not every one can do it so; but dead, there is none of them
cannot do it. Thou canst not do this, carry off any of them alive." "Truly
I can," said Cuchulain.[1] "Ply the goad for us on the horses [2]into the
bog,[2] to see can we take some of them." The charioteer drove a goad into
the horses. It was beyond the power of the king's overfat steeds to keep up
with the deer.  [3]Soon the horses stuck in the marsh.[3] The lad got down
from the chariot and [4]as the fruit of his run and his race, in the morass
which was around him,[4] he caught two of the swift, stout deer. He
fastened them to the back poles and the bows and the thongs of the chariot.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 669-679.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 681-686.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 686.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 687.

    [4-4] Stowe.

"They continued their way to the mound-seat of Emain, where they saw flocks
of white swans flying by them. "What are those birds there, O Ibar?" the
lad asked; "are yonder birds tame [LL.fo.67.] or are they other birds?"
"Indeed, they are real wild birds," Ibar answered; "flocks of swans are
they that come from the rocks and crags and islands of the great sea
without, to feed on the plains and smooth spots of Erin." "Which would be
stranger [5]to the Ulstermen,[5] O Ibar, for them to be fetched alive to
Emain or dead?" asked the lad. "Stranger far, alive," [W.1333.] Ibar
answered, "for not every one succeeds in taking the birds alive, [1]while
they are many that take them dead."[1] Then did the lad perform one of his
lesser feats upon them: [2]he put a small stone in his sling,[2] so that he
brought down eight[a] of the birds; and then he performed a greater feat:
[3]he threw a large stone at them[3] and he brought down sixteen[b] of
their number. [4]With his return stroke all that was done.[4] He fastened
them to the hind poles and the bows and the thongs and the ropes and the
traces of the chariot.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 692.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [a] 'Seven,' LU. and YBL. 695.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [b] 'Twelve,' LU. and YBL. 696.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 696-697.

"Take the birds along with thee, O Ibar," cried the lad [5]to his
charioteer. If I myself go to take them," he added, "the wild deer will
spring upon thee."[5] "I am in sore straits," answered Ibar; "[6]I find it
not easy to go."[6] "What may it be?" asked the lad. "Great cause have
I. [7]The horses have become wild, so that I cannot go by them.[7] If I
stir at all from where I am, the chariot's iron wheels will cut me down
[8]because of their sharpness[8] and because of the strength and the power
and the might of the career of the horses. If I make any move, the horns of
the deer will pierce and gore me, [9]for the horns of the stag have filled
the whole space between the two shafts of the chariot."[9] "Ah, no true
champion art thou any longer, O Ibar," [10]said the lad;[10] [11]"step thus
from his horn.[11] [12]I swear by the god by whom the Ulstermen swear,[12]
because of the look I shall give at the horses they will not depart from
the straight way; at the look I shall give at the deer they will bend their
heads in fear and awe of me; [13]they will not dare move,[13] and [W.1346.]
it will be safe for thee e'en though thou goest in front of their horns."
[1]And so it was done. Cuchulain fastened the reins.[1] [2]Then[2] [3]the
charioteer[3] [4]went and collected the birds, and he bound them to the
hind poles and to the thongs and the traces of the chariot.[4] [5]Thus it
was that he proceeded to Emain Macha: the wild deer behind his chariot, and
the flock of swans flying over the same, and the three heads of the sons of
Necht Scenè [6]and the jewels, treasures and wealth of their enemies
arranged[6] in his chariot.[5]

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 698-699.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 699.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 700.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 702.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 703.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 703.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 704.

    [13-13] LU. and YBL. 706.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 707.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 708.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 709-711.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

"[7]Thereupon[7] they went on till [8]bravely, boldly, battle-victoriously,
boastingly, blade-redded,[8] they reached [9]the fair plain of[9] Emain. It
was then Lebarcham, [10]the watch in Emain Macha,[10] [11]came forth
and[11] discerned them, she, the daughter of Aue ('Ear') and of Adarc
('Horn') [12]and she hastened to Conchobar's house, her eye restless in her
head and her tongue faltering in her jaw.[12] "A single chariot-fighter is
here, [13]coming towards Emain Macha,"[13] cried Lebarcham, "and his coming
is fearful. The heads of his foes all red in his chariot with him.
Beautiful, all-white birds he has hovering around in the chariot. With him
are wild, untamed deer, bound and fettered, shackled and pinioned. And
[14]I give my word,[14] if he be not attended to this night, [15]blood will
flow over Conchobar's province by him and[15] the youths of Ulster will
fall by his hand."  "We know him, that chariot-fighter," spake Conchobar;
"[16]belike it is[16] the little gilla, my sister's son, who went to the
edge of the marches [17]at the beginning of the day,[17] [W.1355.] who has
reddened his hands and is still unsated of combat, and unless he be
attended to, all the youths of Emain will fall by his hand." [1]Soon he
turned the left[a] side of his chariot towards Emain, and this was geis for
Emain. And Cuchulain cried, "I swear by the god by whom the Ulstermen
swear, if a man be not found to engage with me, I will spill the blood of
every one in the dûn!"[1]

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 713.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] H. 2. 17.

    [15-15] H. 2. 17.

    [16-16] H. 2. 17.

    [17-17] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 715-718.

    [a] To turn the left side was an insult and sign of hostility.

"And this was the counsel they agreed to follow: to let out the womenfolk
to meet the youth, namely, thrice fifty women, even ten and seven-score
bold, stark-naked women, at one and the same time, and their chieftainess,
Scannlach ('the Wanton') before them, to discover their persons and their
shame[b] to him. [2]"Let the young women go," said Conchobar, "and bare
their paps and their breasts and their swelling bosoms, and if he be a true
warrior he will not withstand being bound, and he shall be placed in a vat
of cold water until his anger go from him."[2] [3]Thereupon[3] the young
women all [4]arose and[4] marched out, [5]and these are the names of those
queens: Sgamalus and Sgannlach and Sgiathan, Feidlim and Deigtini
Finnchas, and Finngheal and Fidniam and Niam, daughter of Celtchar son of
Uthechar[5]; and they discovered their nakedness and all their shame to
him. [6]"These are the warriors that will meet thee to-day," quoth Mugain,
wife of Conchobar son of Ness.[6] The lad hid his face from them and turned
his gaze on the chariot, that he might not see the nakedness or the shame
of the women.[c] Then the lad was lifted out of the chariot. He was placed
in three vats of cold water to extinguish his wrath; and the first vat into
which he was put burst its staves and its hoops like the cracking of nuts
around him. [W.1367.] The next vat [1]into which he went[1] [2]boiled with
bubbles as big as fists[2] therefrom. The third vat [3]into which he
went,[3] some men might endure it and others might not. Then the boy's
wrath went down.

    [b] 'Breasts,' LU. and YBL. 720.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 720-721.

    [c] This exposure was a powerful magico-religious symbol and had a
    quasi-sacred or ritual character.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Translating from Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

"[4]Thereupon he came out,[4] and his [5]festive[5] garments were put on
him [6]by Mugain the queen.[6] His comeliness appeared on him [LL.fo.68a.]
and he made a crimson wheel-ball of himself from his crown to the
ground. [7]A shout was raised at the bluish purple about him.[7]
[8]Beautiful then was the lad[8] [9]that was raised up in view.[9] Seven
toes he had to each of his two feet, and seven fingers to each of his two
hands, and seven pupils to each of his two kingly eyes, and seven gems of
the brilliance of the eye was each separate pupil. Four spots of down on
either of his two cheeks: a blue spot, a purple spot, a green spot, a
yellow spot. Fifty strands of bright-yellow hair from one ear to the other,
like to a comb of birch twigs or like to a brooch of pale gold in the face
of the sun. A clear, white, shorn spot was upon him, as if a cow had licked
it. A [10]fair, laced[10] green[a] mantle about him; a silver pin therein
[11]over his white breast, so that the eyes of men could not look at it for
its gleam and its brightness.[11] A [12]hooded[12] tunic of thread of gold
about him. [13]A magnificent, fair-coloured, dark purple shield he bore.
Two hard, five-pointed spears in his hand. A diadem of gold round his
head.[13] And the lad was seated between the two feet of Conchobar, [14]and
that was his couch ever after,[14] and the king began to stroke his
close-shorn hair.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 726.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] LU. 726.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17. Thurneysen, _Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie_, Bd.
    VIII, S. 538, note 13, understands this to mean, 'a bluish purple cloak
    was thrown around him.'

    [8-8] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [a] 'Blue,' LU. and YBL. 727 and Eg. 1782.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 727.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] LU. and YBL. 728.

[W.1381.] "A mere lad accomplished these deeds at the end of seven years
after his birth," [1]continued Fiachu son of Fiarba;[1] "for he overcame
heroes and battle-champions at whose hands two-thirds of the men of Ulster
had fallen, and these had not got their revenge on them until that scion
rose up for them. No need then is there of wonder or of surprise, though he
came to the border, though he slew one man or two men or three men or four
men, [2]though he cut off the four-headed pole with one cut and one blow of
his shining sword[2] when now are fulfilled his seventeen years at the time
of the Táin Bó Cúalnge."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 729-730.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

[3]Albeit gladness, joy and happiness was the part of the men of Ulster for
that, sorrow, grief and unhappiness was the part of the men of Erin, for
they knew that the little lad that had done those deeds in the time of his
boyhood, it would be no wonder if he should do great deeds of valour in the
time of his manhood.[3]

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

These, accordingly, are some of the youthful exploits of Cuchulain on the
Raid for the Kine of Cualnge, and the Prologue of the Tale, and the Names
of the Roads and the March of the Host up to this Point.

The Story proper is this which follows now.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 80]



"Let us fare forth now," quoth Ailill. Thereafter they reached Mag Mucceda
('the plain of the Swineherd.') Cuchulain lopped off an oak that was before
him in that place and set an ogam-writing on its side. This is what was on
it: 'That no one should pass by till a chariot-warrior with a chariot
should overleap it.'

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 733-766.

They pitch there their tents and proceed to leap over the oak in their
chariots. Thereat thirty horses fall and thirty chariots are broken. Now,
Belach Anè ('the Pass of Sport') is the name of that place forever.

They bide there till morning. Fraech [2]son of Fidach[2] was summoned to
them. "Help us, O Fraech," spake Medb; "deliver us from the strait we are
in. Rise up for us to meet Cuchulain, if perchance thou wilt fight him."

    [2-2] YBL. 741.

Betimes in the morning, with nine men Fraech went out from thence till he
arrived at Ath Fuait, when he saw the youth Cuchulain bathing in the
river. "Bide here," spake Fraech to his people, "till I fight with yonder
man; he is not good in the water," said he. He doffs his clothes and goes
into the water to meet him. "Come not before me," cried Cuchulain; "it
shall be thy death and it would grieve me to kill thee." "Nay, but I will
go," answered Fraech, "so that we come together in the water, and it
behoves thee to engage with me." "Settle that as seemeth thee good,"
Cuchulain made answer. "Each of us with his arms round the other," said
Fraech. They fall to wrestling for a long time in the water and Fraech is
thrust under. Cuchulain brings him above again. "This time," spake
Cuchulain, "wilt thou acknowledge that I saved thee?" "I will not," Fraech
answered. Cuchulain thrusts him under again, so that Fraech is destroyed.

He is placed on the ground. His people bear the body [10]with them[10] to
the camp. Ath Fraeich ('Fraech's Ford') is the name of that ford for
ever. All the army keen [2]their[2] Fraech, till they see a troop of women,
in green tunics standing over the corpse of Fraech son of Fidach. These
women bear him into the fairy dwelling.  Sid Fraeich ('Fraech's Mound') is
the name of the Elfmound ever since.

    [10-10] Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] YBL. 758.

Fergus leaps over the oak-stump in his [3]own[3] chariot [4]and knocks off
its head.[4] [5]According to another version,[5] they proceed till they
reach [6]Ath Meislir.[6] Cuchulain destroys six of them there, namely,
[7]Meislir _et reliqua_,[7] [8]the six Dungals of Irrus.[8]

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

    [5-5] YBL. 762.

    [6-6] Reading with YBL. '_Ath Taiten_,' LU. 762.

    [7-7] YBL. 763.

    [8-8] LU. 763.

They go thence to Fornocht. Medb had a whelp named Baiscnè. Cuchulain made
a cast at him, so that he struck off his head. Now, Druim ('Ridge') is the
name of that place ever after.[1]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 733-766 (see page 80).

[9]According to another version, however, it is there
that the youth who was in the chariot by the side of Medb
and the pet bird were slain by the casts, but, according to
this version, that happened after the slaying of Orlam.[9]

    [9] YBL. 766-769.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 82]



[W.1393.] The four grand provinces of Erin set forth on the morrow
eastwards over Cronn ('the Round'), which is a mountain.  Cuchulain had
gone out before them, till he came upon the charioteer of Orlam son of
Aililla and of Medb. This was at Tamlacht Orlaim ('Orlam's Gravestone')
[1]a little to the[1] north of Disert Lochaid ('Lochat's Hermitage'). The
charioteer was engaged in cutting chariot-poles from a holly-tree in the
wood. [2]But according to another version it is the hind pole of
Cuchulain's chariot that was broken and it was to cut a pole he had gone
when Orlam's charioteer came up.[2] [3]According to this version, it was
the charioteer who was cutting the pole.[3]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 772.

    [2-2] YBL. 773-775.

    [3-3] LU. 773-775.

[4]Not long was the battle-victorious Hound there when he heard a sound and
an uproar.[4] "Behold, O Laeg," cried Cuchulain; "[5]who of the host of the
foe have come into this land to carry off a share of cattle and booty from
the province wherein they came?[5] How bold are the ways of the Ulstermen,
if it be they that cut down the woods in this fashion in the face of the
men of Erin. But, [6]check the horses and hold the chariot.[6] Tarry thou
here a little, till I know who cuts down the woods in this manner." Then
Cuchulain went on till he came up to [7]Orlam's[7] charioteer, [W.1401.]
[1]to stop him; he thought he was one of the men of Ulster.[1] "What dost
thou here, gilla?" asked Cuchulain.  "Indeed, then," answered the gilla, "I
cut chariot-poles from this holm, because our chariots were broken
yesterday in pursuit of that famous wildling, namely Cuchulain. And for thy
manhood's sake, young warrior, pray come to my aid, so that that famous
Cuchulain come not upon me." "Take thy choice, gilla," said Cuchulain, "to
gather or to trim them, either." "I will see to gathering them, for it is
easier," [2]the gilla answered.[2] Cuchulain started to cut the poles and
he drew them between the forks of his feet and his hands against their
bends and their knots, so that he made them smooth and straight and
slippery and trimmed; he polished them so that not even a midge could find
footing thereon when he had passed them away from him. Then full sure the
gilla gazed upon him. "Far then, meseems, from fitting is the task I put on
thee. [3]And for love of thy valour,[3] who art thou, say, O warrior?" the
gilla asked, [4]for he was sore affrighted.[4] "That same renowned
Cuchulain am I of whom thou spakest [5]a while ago[5] in the morning." "Woe
is me then, by reason of this," cried the gilla; "for this am I lost
forever." [LL.fo.68b.] [6]"Whence comest thou [7]and who art thou[7]?"
Cuchulain asked. "Charioteer am I of Orlam, Ailill's son and Medb's,"[6]
[8]said he.[8] [9]"Fear nothing;[9] I will not slay thee at all, boy," said
Cuchulain; "for I slay nor charioteers nor horseboys nor persons unarmed.
But, prithee, where is thy master, [10]gilla[10]?" "Over yonder by the
trench, [11]with his back to the pillar-stone,[11]" answered the gilla.
"Off with thee thither to him and bear him a warning that he be on his
guard. For if we meet he shall fall by my hand."

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 777.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 786

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 786-787.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] LU. 787.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 789.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

[W.1419.] Thereupon the charioteer repaired [1]by one way[1] to his master,
[2]and Cuchulain went by another,[2] and fast as the gilla sped to Orlam,
faster still Cuchulain did reach him [3]and offered him combat[3] and he
struck off his head, and raising it aloft displayed it to the men of Erin,
[4]and he flourished it in the presence of the host.[4] [5]Then he put the
head on the charioteer's back and said, "Take this with thee, and so go to
the camp. Unless thou goest so, a stone out of my sling will reach thee."

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Stowe, LU. and YBL. 792.

When the charioteer came nigh to the camp he took the head from his back
and told his adventures to Ailill and Medb. "It is not the same, this
exploit and the catching of birds," quoth she. "And he told me" (said the
boy), "unless I brought it on my back to the camp, he would break my head
with a stone."[5] [6]Hence Leaca Orlaim ('Orlam's Flagstones') to the north
of Disert Lochaid is the name of the place where he fell. Tamlachta
('Gravestones') is another name for it, and it is for this reason it is so
called because of the little gravestones and the violent deaths which
Cuchulain worked on it."[6]

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 793-799.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 85]



[W.1425.] Then came the three macArach on to the ford at Ard Ciannacht
to encounter Cuchulain: Lon ('Ousel'), Uala ('Pride'), and Diliu
('Deluge');--Meslir ('Lir's Fosterling'), and Meslaoc ('Hero's
Fosterling'), and Meslethain ('Lethan's Fosterling') were the names of
their charioteers. This is why they came to engage with Cuchulain, for the
deed he had done the day before they deemed past bearing, when the two sons
of Nera son of Nuatar, son of Tacan, were slain at Ath Gabla ('Fork-ford'),
and Orlam, Ailill's son and Medb's, was slain withal and his head displayed
to the men of Erin, so that [2]their desire was[2] to kill Cuchulain in the
same manner [3]in revenge for him,[3] [4]and that they should be the ones
to rid the host of that pest[4] and bring his head with them to set it
aloft. They went into the wood and cut off three [5]great[5] white-hazel
wood-strips (and put them) into the hands of their charioteers, so that the
six of them might engage in battle at one and the same time with Cuchulain.
Cuchulain turned on them and smote their six heads from them. Thus fell the
macArach at the hands of Cuchulain, [6]because they observed not fair fight
with him. At that same time Orlam's charioteer was between Ailill and Medb.
Cuchulain slung a stone at him, so that it broke his head and his brains
came out over his ears. Fertedil was his name. Hence it is not true that
Cuchulain slew no charioteers.  Albeit he slew them not without fault.[6]

    [1-1] H. 2. 17, and, similarly, LU. fo. 64a, in the margin. LU. reads

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 806.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 806-807.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 808-812.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 86]



[W.1439.] There came also Lethan ('the Broad') to his ford on the Nith in
the land of Conalle Murthemni, to fight with Cuchulain.  [2]He was angered
at what Cuchulain had wrought.[2] He came upon him at the ford. Ath Carpait
('Chariot-ford') is the name of the ford where they fought, for their
chariots were broken in the combat on the ford. It is there that Mulcha,
[3]Lethan's charioteer,[3] fell on the [4]shoulder of the[4] hill between
the two fords, [5]for he had offered battle and combat to Laeg son of
Riangabair.[5] Hence it is called Guala Mulchi ('Mulcha's Shoulder') ever
since. It is there, too, that Cuchulain and Lethan met, and Lethan fell at
Cuchulain's hands and he smote his head from his neck on the ford and left
it therewith, that is, he left the head with the trunk.  Wherefore the name
of the ford [6]of the Nith[6] was called Ath Lethain ('Lethain's Ford')
ever since in the district of Conalle Murthemni.

    [1-1] The superscription is taken from Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 837.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 841.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 841.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 839 and Stowe.

Then came [7]unto them[7] the Crutti Cainbili ('the Tuneful Harpers'), from
Ess Ruaid in the north to amuse them, [8]out of friendship for Ailill and
Medb.[8] They opined it was to spy upon them [9]they were come[9] from
Ulster. [10]When they came within sight of the camp of the men of Erin,
fear, terror, and dread possessed them,[10] and the hosts pursued [W.1450.]
them as never men pursued, far and wide, till they escaped them in the
shapes of deer near the standing stones at Lia Mor ('Great Stone') [1]in
the north.[1] For though they were known as the 'Mellifluous Harpers' they
were [2]druids,[2] men of great cunning and great power of augury and

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 835.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 835.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 88]



[W.1456.] Then Cuchulain made a threat [2]in Methè[2] that wherever he saw
Medb he would cast a stone at her and that it would not go far from the
side of her head. That he also fulfilled. In the place where he saw Medb
west of the ford he cast a stone from his sling at her, so that it killed
the pet bird that was on her shoulder. Medb passed over the ford eastwards,
and again he cast a stone from his sling at her east of the ford, so that
it killed the tame squirrel that was on her shoulder. Hence the names of
those places are still, Meide in Togmail ('Squirrel's Neck') and Meide ind
Eoin ('Bird's Neck'). And Ath Srethe ('Ford of the Throw') is the name of
the ford over which Cuchulain cast the stone from his sling.

    [1-1] The superscription is taken from LU. fo. 64a, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 813.

[3]Then Reuin was drowned in his lake. Hence is Loch Reuin. "Your companion
is not afar off from you," cried Ailill to the Manè. They stood up and
looked around. When they sat down again, Cuchulain struck one of them so
that his head was split. "It is well it was thou hast essayed that; thy[a]
mirth was not seemly," quoth Manè the fool; "it is I would have taken his
head off." Cuchulain flung a stone at him, so that his head was split. Thus
these people were slain: Orlam, first of all, on his hill; the three sons
of Arach[a] on their ford; Fertidil in his ... (?); Maenan on his hill. "I
swear by the god by whom my people swear," cried Ailill; "the man that
scoffs at Cuchulain here I will make two halves of. But above all let us
hasten our way by day and by night," Ailill continued, "till we come to
Cualnge. That man will slay two-thirds of your host in this fashion."[3]

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 820-831 and, partly, in Eg. 1782.

    [a] Literally, 'your.'

    [a] '_Garech_,' LU. and YBL. 827.

[1]Then did the men of Erin deliberate about going to ravage and lay waste
Mag Breg and Meath and the plain of Conall and the land of Cuchulain; and
it was in the presence of Fergus macRoig they discussed it.[1]

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

[W.1465.] The four grand provinces of Erin moved out on the morrow, and
began to harry the plains of Breg and Murthemne. And the sharp, keen-edged
anxiety [LL.fo.69a.] for Cuchulain came over his fosterer Fergus. And he
bade the men of Erin be on their guard that night, for that Cuchulain would
come upon them. And here again he sang in his praise, as we wrote it
before,[b] and he uttered the lay:--

    "If Cuchulain, Cualnge's Hound,
    And Red Branch chiefs on you come,
    Men will welter in their blood,
    Laying waste Murthemne's plain!

    [4]"Woe to him possesses wealth,
    'Less he find a way to 'scape;
    And your wives will be enslaved,
    And your chiefs fill pools of blood![4]

    "Far away he[c] held his course,
    Till he reached Armenia's heights;
    Battle dared he, past his wont,
    And the Burnt-breasts[d] put to death!

    "Hardest for him was to drive
    Necht's sons from their chieftest haunts;
    And the smith's hound--mighty deed--
    Hath he slain with single hand!

    [W.1483.] "More than this I've naught to say,
    As concerns Dechtirè's son;
    My belief, in troth, is this:
    Ye will now meet with your fate."

    [b] See above, p. 41.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [c] That is, Cuchulain.

    [d] That is, the Amazons.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 820-831 and, partly, in Eg. 1782.

After this lay, that was the day that Donn ('the Brown Bull') of Cualnge
came into the land of Marginè [1]to Sliab Culinn[1] and with him fifty
heifers of the heifers [2]of Ulster;[2] and there he was pawing and digging
up the earth in that place, [3]in the land of Marginè, in Cualnge;[3] that
is, he flung the turf over him with his heels. [4]While the hosts were
marching over Mag Breg, Cuchulain in the meanwhile laid hands on their
camps.[4] It was on the same day that the Morrigan, daughter of Ernmas,
[5]the prophetess[5] of the fairy-folk, came [6]in the form of a bird,[6]
and she perched on the standing-stone in Temair of Cualnge giving the Brown
Bull of Cualnge warning [7]and lamentations[7] before the men of Erin. Then
she began to address him and what she said was this: "Good, now, O luckless
one, thou Brown Bull of Cualnge," so spake the Morrigan; "take heed; for
the men of Erin.  [8]are on thy track and seeking thee[8] and they will
come upon thee, and [9]if thou art taken[9] they will carry thee away to
their camp [10]like any ox on a raid,[10] unless thou art on thy guard."
And she commenced to give warning to him in this fashion, [11]telling him
he would be slain on the Táin, and she delivered this judgement[11] and
spake these words aloud:[a]--

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 853.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 857.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 842-843.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 844.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [a] The following passage in '_rosc_' is exceedingly difficult and
    obscure, and the translation given here is consequently incomplete and

"Knows not the restless Brown of the [12]truly deadly[12] [W.1502.] fray
that is not uncertain?--A raven's[a] croak--The raven that doth not
conceal--Foes range your checkered plain--[1]Troops on raids[1]--I have a
secret--Ye shall know ... The waving fields--The deep-green grass ... and
rich, soft plain--Wealth of flowers' splendour--Badb's cow-lowing--Wild the
raven--Dead the men--A tale of woe--Battle-storms[b] on Cualnge evermore,
to the death of mighty sons--Kith looking on the death of kin!"

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 846, and Stowe.

    [a] The Morrigan, the Irish goddess of battle, most often appeared in
    the form of a raven.

    [1-1] Reading with H. 2. 17.

    [b] Translating _cloe_, as suggested by Windisch.

[2]When the Brown Bull of Cualnge heard those words[2] he moved on to Glenn
na Samaisce ('Heifers' Glen') in Sliab Culinn ('Hollymount') [3]in the
north of Ulster,[3] and fifty of his heifers with him, [4]and his herdsman
accompanied him; Forgemen was the name of the cowherd.[4] [5]And he threw
off the thrice fifty boys who were wont to play on his back and he
destroyed two-thirds of the boys.[5] This was one of the magic virtues of
the Brown Bull of Cualnge: Fifty heifers he would cover every day. These
calved before that same hour on the next day and such of them that calved
not [6]at the due time[6] burst with the calves, because they could not
suffer the begetting of the Brown Bull of Cualnge. One of the magic virtues
of the Brown Bull of Cualnge were the fifty [7]grown[7] youths who engaged
in games, [8]who[8] on his fine back [9]found room[9] every evening [10]to
play draughts and assembly[c] and leaping[10]; [11]he would not put them
from him nor would he totter under them.[11] Another of the magic virtues
of the Brown Bull of Cualnge was the hundred warriors [W.1535.] he screened
from the heat and the cold under his shadow and shelter. Another of the
magic virtues of the Brown Bull of Cualnge was that no goblin nor boggart
nor sprite of the glen dared come into one and the same cantred with
him. Another of the magic virtues of the Brown Bull of Cualnge was his
musical lowing every evening as he returned to his haggard, his shed and
his byre. It was music enough and delight for a man in the north and in the
south, [1]in the east and the west,[1] and in the middle of the cantred of
Cualnge, the lowing he made at even as he came to his haggard, his shed,
and his byre. These, then, are some of the magic virtues of the Brown Bull
of Cualnge.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 854, and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 855-856.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [c] Apparently the name of some game.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

Thereupon on the morrow the hosts proceeded among the rocks and dunes of
the land of Conalle Murthemni.  [3]Cuchulain killed no one from Sailè ('the
Sea') around Dorthè in the land of Conalle, until he reached Cualnge.  At
that time Cuchulain was in Cuincè, [2]that is a mountain.[2] He had
threatened that, where he would see Medb, he would hurl a stone at her
head. It was not easy to do this, for it was thus Medb went, with half the
host around her and their canopy of shields over her head.[3] And Medb
ordered a canopy of shields to be held over her head in order that
Cuchulain might not strike her from the hills or hillocks or heights.
Howbeit on that day, no killing nor attack came from Cuchulain upon the men
of Erin, in the land of Murthemne among the rocks and dunes of Conalle

    [2-2] LU. 860.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 858-863.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 93]



[W.1552.] The warriors of four of the five grand provinces of Erin bided
their time in Redè Lochè in Cualnge and pitched camp and took quarters
therein for that night. Medb bade her fair handmaiden from amongst her
attendants to go for her to the river for water for drinking and washing.
Lochè was the name of the maiden. Thereupon Lochè went, and fifty[a] women
in her train and the queen's diadem of gold on her head. And Cuchulain
[2]espied them and he[2] [3]put a stone on his sling and[3] cast
[LL.fo.69b.] a stone from his [4]staff[4]-sling at her, so that he broke
the diadem of gold in three pieces and killed the maiden on her plain.
Thence is Redè Lochè ('the Plain of Lochè') in Cualnge. For Cuchulain had
thought, for want of acquaintance and knowledge, that it was Medb that was

    [1-1] LU. fo. 65a, in the margin.

    [a] 'forty,' H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

[5]From Finnabair of Cualnge the hosts divided and set the country on
fire. They gathered all their women and boys and girls and cattle in
Cualnge together so that they all were in Finnabair. "Ye have not fared
well," quoth Medb; "I see not the bull amongst you." "He is not in the land
at all," replied every one. They summoned Lothar, the cowherd, to Medb.
"Where, thinkest thou, is the bull?" she asked. "I have great fear to
tell," said the cowherd. "The night," said he, "that the Ulstermen fell
into their 'Pains,' the Donn went and three score heifers along with him;
and he is at Dubcaire Glinni Gat ('the Black Corrie of the Osier-glen')."
"Rise," said Medb, "and take a withy between each two of you." And they do
accordingly. Hence is the name, Glenn Gatt, of that glen.

[5-5] LU. and YBL. 867-887.]

Then they led the bull to Finnabair. In the place where the bull saw
Lothar, the cowherd, he attacked him, and soon he carried his entrails out
on his horns and together with his thrice fifty heifers he attacked the
camp, so that fifty warriors perished. Hence this is the Tragical Death
of Lothar on the Táin [1]and the Finding of the Bull according to this
version.[1] [2]Thereafter the bull went from them away from the camp and
they knew not whither he had gone from them and they were ashamed. Medb
asked the cowherd if he might know where the bull was. "I trow he is in the
wilds of Sliab Culinn."[2] Then they turned back ravaging Cualnge and they
found not the bull there.[5]

    [1-1] YBL. 882, which adds: 'We will not follow it further here.'

    [2-2] LU., edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe, page 34, note 16.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 867-887.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 95]



[W.1563.] [2]Early[2] on the morrow the hosts continued their way [3]to lay
waste the plain of Murthemne and to sack Mag Breg and Meath and Machaire
Conaill ('Conall's Plain') and the land of Cualnge. It was then that the
streams and rivers of Conalle Murthemni rose to the tops of the trees, and
the streams of the Cronn rose withal, until the hosts arrived at Glaiss
Cruinn ('Cronn's Stream').[3] And they attempted the stream and failed to
cross it [4]because of the size of its waves,[4] [5]so that they slept on
its bank.[5] And Cluain Carpat ('Chariot-meadow') is the name of the first
place where they reached it. This is why Cluain Carpat is the name of that
place, because of the hundred[a] chariots which the river carried away from
them to the sea. Medb ordered her people that one of the warriors should go
try the river. And [6]on the morrow[6] there arose a great, stout,
[7]wonderful[7] warrior of the [8]particular[8] people of Medb [9]and
Ailill,[9] Uala by name, and he took on his back a massy rock, [10]to the
end that Glaiss Cruinn might not carry him back.[10] And he went to essay
the stream, and the stream threw him back dead, lifeless, with his
[W.1571.] stone on his back [1]and so he was drowned.[1] Medb ordered that
he be lifted [2]out of the river then[2] [3]by the men of Erin[3] and his
grave dug [4]and his keen made[4] and his stone raised [5]over his
grave,[5] so that it is thence Lia Ualann ('Uala's Stone') [6]on the road
near the stream[6] in the land of Cualnge.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 65a, in the margin.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. 887, a gloss.

    [a] H. 2. 17 has 'fifty charioteers.'

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 889.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 889.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 891.

Cuchulain clung close to the hosts that day provoking them to encounter and
combat. [7]Four and seven score kings fell at his hands at that same
stream,[7] and he slew a hundred of their [8]armed,[8] [9]kinglike[9]
warriors around Roen and Roi, the two chroniclers of the Táin. [10]This is
the reason the account of the Táin was lost and had to be sought afterwards
for so long a time.[10]

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 900.

    [8-8] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17; the story of the finding of the Táin is told in the
    _Imtheacht na Tromdhaimhe_ ("The Proceedings of the Great Bardic
    Institution"), edited by Owen Connellan, in the Transactions of the
    Ossianic Society, vol. v, 1857, pp. 103 fl.

Medb called upon her people to go meet Cuchulain in encounter and combat
[11]for the sake of the hosts.[11] "It will not be I," and "It will not be
I," spake each and every one from his place. "No caitiff is due from my
people. Even though one should be due, it is not I would go to oppose
Cuchulain, for no easy thing is it to do battle with him."

[12]When they had failed to find the Donn Cualnge,[12] the hosts kept their
way along the river [13]around the river Cronn to its source,[13] being
unable to cross it, till they reached the place where the river rises out
of the mountains, and, had they wished it, they would have gone between the
river and the mountain, but Medb would not allow it, so they had to dig and
hollow out the mountain [W.1585.] before her in order [1]that their trace
might remain there forever and[1] that it might be for a shame and reproach
to Ulster.

    [11-11] Stowe.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] LU. and YBL. 893.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 895.

[2]They tarried there three days and three nights till they had dug out the
earth before them.[2] And Bernais ('the Gap') of the [4]Foray of Medb and
the Gap of the[4] Foray of Cualnge is another name for the place ever
since, for it is through it the drove afterwards passed. [3]There Cuchulain
killed Cronn and Coemdele and ...[3]

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 896.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 898-899.

The warriors of the four grand provinces of Erin pitched camp and took
quarters that night at Belat Aileain ('the Island's Crossway'). Belat
Aileain was its name up to then, but Glenn Tail ('Glen of Shedding') is
henceforth its name because of the abundance of curds and of milk [5]and of
new warm milk[5] which the droves of cattle and the flocks [6]of the land
of Conalle and Murthemne[6] yielded there [7]that night[7] for the men of
Erin. And Liasa Liac ('Stone Sheds') is another name for it [8]to this
day,[8] and it is for this it bears that name, for it is there that the men
of Erin raised cattle-stalls and byres for their herds and droves
[9]between Cualnge and Conalle.[9] [10]Botha is still another name for it,
for the men of Erin erected bothies and huts there.[10]

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 909.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

The four of the five grand provinces of Erin took up the march until they
reached the Sechair [11]in the west on the morrow.[11] Sechair was the name
of the river hitherto; Glaiss Gatlaig ('Osier-water') is its name
henceforward. [12]And Glaiss Gatlaig rose up against them.[12] Now this is
the reason it had that name, for it was in osiers and ropes that the men of
Erin brought [W.1599.] their flocks and droves over across it, and the
entire host let their osiers and ropes drift with the stream after
crossing.  Hence the name, Glaiss Gatlaig. [1]Then they slept at Druim Fenè
in Conalle. These then are their stages from Cualnge to the plain (of
Conalle Murthemni) according to this version. Other authors [2]of this
Work[2] and other books aver that they followed another way on their
journeyings from Finnabair to Conalle.[1]

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 910.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 912-914.

    [2-2] YBL. 914.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 99]



[2]After every one had come with their spoils and they were all gathered in
Finnabair of Cualnge, Medb spake: "Let the camp be divided here," said
Medb; "the foray cannot be caried on by a single road. Let Ailill with half
his force go by Midluachair. We and Fergus will go by Bernas Bo Ulad ('the
Pass of the Cattle of Ulster')."  "Not fair is the part that has fallen to
us of the force," said Fergus; "the cattle cannot be driven over the
mountain without dividing." This then is done. Hence cometh Bernas Bo Ulad
('the Pass of the Cattle of Ulster').

    [1-1] LU. fo. 65b, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 916-1197, omitting 1079-1091.

Then spake Ailill to his charioteer Cuillius: "Find out for me to-day Medb
and Fergus. I wot not what hath led them to keep thus together. I would
fain have a token from thee." Cuillius went where Medb and Fergus wantoned.
The pair dallied behind while the warriors continued their march. Cuillius
stole near them and they perceived not the spy. It happened that Fergus'
sword lay close by him. Cuillius drew it from its sheath and left the
sheath empty. Then Cuillius betook himself to Ailill. "Well?" said Ailill.
"Well, then," replied [3]Cuillius;[3] "thou knowest the signification of
this token. As thou hast thought," continued Cuillius, "it is thus I
discovered them, lying together." "It is so, then." Each of them laughs, at
the other. "It is well so," said Ailill; "she had no choice; to win his
help on the Táin she hath done it. Keep the sword carefully by thee," said
Ailill; "put it beneath thy seat in the chariot and a linen cloth wrapped
round it."

[3-3] LU. 930.]

When Fergus got up to take his sword, "Alas!" cried he. "What aileth thee?"
Medb asked. "An ill deed have I done Ailill," said he. "Wait thou here till
I come out of the wood," said Fergus, "and wonder not though it be long
till I come." It happened that Medb knew not of the loss of the sword.
Fergus went out taking his charioteer's sword with him in his hand, and he
fashioned a sword from a tree in the wood. Hence is Fid Mor Thruailli
('Great Scabbard-Wood') in Ulster.

"Let us hasten after our comrades," said Fergus. The forces of all came
together in the plain. They raised their tents. Fergus was summoned to
Ailill for a game of chess.  When Fergus entered the tent Ailill laughed at

    [a] Here follows in LU. and YBL. 946-1020, Eg. 1782, a most difficult
    passage, rendered more obscure by the incorporation of glossarial
    notes into the body of the text. It is almost incapable of
    translation; it consists of a dialogue or series of repartees during a
    game of chess, in which Ailill taunts Fergus on the episode just
    narrated and Fergus replies.

Cuchulain came so that he was before Ath Cruinn ('the Ford of the Cronn').
"O master Laeg," he cried to his driver, "here are the hosts for us." "I
swear by the gods," said the charioteer, "I will do a mighty feat in the
eyes of chariot-fighters, in quick spurring-on of the slender steeds; with
yokes of silver and golden wheels shall they be urged on (?) in triumph.
Thou shalt ride before heads of kings. The steeds I guide will bring
victory with their bounding." "Take heed, O Laeg," said Cuchulain; "hold
the reins for the great triumph of Macha, that the horses drag thee not
over the mass at the ... (?) of a woman.  Let us go over the straight plain
of these ... (?). I call on the waters to help me," cried Cuchulain. "I
beseech heaven and earth and the Cronn above all."

    Then the Cronn opposes them,[a]
    Holds them back from Murthemne,
    Till the heroes'[b] work is done
    On the mount of Ocainè![c]

    [a] That is, the men of Erin.

    [b] That is, Cuchulain and Laeg.

    [c] See above, page 97.

Therewith the water rose up till it was in the tops of the trees.

Manè son of Ailill and Medb marched in advance of the rest. Cuchulain slew
him on the ford and thirty horsemen of his people were drowned. Again
Cuchulain laid low twice sixteen warriors of theirs near the stream. The
warriors of Erin pitched their tents near the ford. Lugaid son of Nos
[1]grandson of Lomarc[1] Allcomach went to parley with Cuchulain. Thirty
horsemen were with him.  "Welcome to thee, O Lugaid," cried Cuchulain.
"Should a flock of birds graze upon the plain of Murthemne, thou shalt have
a wild goose with half the other. Should fish come to the falls or to the
bays, thou shalt have a salmon with as much again. Thou shalt have the
three sprigs, even a sprig of cresses, a sprig of laver, and a sprig of
sea-grass; there will be a man to take thy place at the ford."  "This
welcome is truly meant," replied Lugaid; "the choice of people for the
youth whom I desire!" "Splendid are your hosts," said Cuchulain. "It will
be no misfortune," said Lugaid, "for thee to stand up alone before them."
"True courage and valour have I," Cuchulain made answer.  "Lugaid, my
master," said Cuchulain, "do the hosts fear me?" "By the god," Lugaid made
answer, "I swear that no one man of them nor two men dares make water
outside the camp unless twenty or thirty go with him." "It will be
something for them," said Cuchulain, "if I begin to cast from my sling. He
will be fit for thee, O Lugaid, this companion thou hast in Ulster, [1]if
the men oppose me one by one.[1] Say, then, what wouldst thou?" asked
Cuchulain.  "A truce with my host." "Thou shalt have it, provided there be
a token therefor. And tell my master Fergus that there shall be a token on
the host. Tell the leeches that there shall be a token on the host, and let
them swear to preserve my life and let them provide me each night with

    [1-1] LU. 1041.

    [1-1] Literally, 'if there oppose me the strength of each single man.'

Lugaid went from him. It happened that Fergus was in the tent with Ailill.
Lugaid called him out and reported that (proposal of Cuchulain's) to him.
Then Ailill was heard:[a]

    [a] The sense of this proposal of Ailill's, omitted in the translation
    (LU. 1064-1069 and Eg. 1782), is not clear.

"I swear by the god, I cannot," said [3]Fergus,[3] "unless I ask the
lad. Help me, O Lugaid," said Fergus. "Do thou go to him, to see whether
Ailill with a division may come to me to my company. Take him an ox with
salt pork and a keg of wine." Thereupon Lugaid goes to Cuchulain and tells
him that. "'Tis the same to me whether he go," said Cuchulain. Then the two
hosts unite. They remain there till night, [4]or until they spend thirty
nights there.[4] Cuchulain destroyed thirty of their warriors with his
sling. "Your journeyings will be ill-starred," said Fergus (to Medb and
Ailill); "the men of Ulster will come out of their 'Pains' and will grind
you down to the earth and the gravel. Evil is the battle-corner wherein we
are." He proceeds to Cul Airthir ('the Eastern Nook'). Cuchulain slays
thirty of their heroes on Ath Duirn ('Ford of the Fist'). Now they could
not reach Cul Airthir till night. Cuchulain killed thirty of their men
there and they raised their tents in that place. In the morning Ailill's
charioteer, Cuillius to wit, was washing the wheel-bands in the ford.
Cuchulain struck him with a stone so that he killed him. Hence is Ath
Cuillne ('Ford of Destruction') in Cul Airthir.'[2]

    [3-3] 'Lugaid,' LU. 1069.

    [4-4] YBL. 1075; but, 'they would be twenty nights there, as other
    books say,' LU.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 916-1197, omitting 1079-1091.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 104]



[W.1603.] The four grand provinces of Erin proceeded till they pitched camp
and took quarters in Druim En ('Birds' Ridge') in the land of Conalle
Murthemni, [1]and they slept there[1] that night, [2]as we said before,[2]
and Cuchulain held himself at Ferta Illergaib ('the Burial-mound on the
Slopes') hard by them that night, and he, Cuchulain, shook, brandished and
flourished his weapons that night. [3]Every night of the three nights they
were there he made casts from his sling at them, from Ochaine nearby,[3] so
that one hundred warriors of the host perished of fright and fear and
dread of Cuchulain. [4]"Not long will our host endure in this way with
Cuchulain," quoth Ailill.[4] Medb called upon Fiachu son of Ferfebè of the
Ulstermen to go parley with Cuchulain, to come to some terms with him.
"What terms shall be given him?" asked Fiachu son of Ferfebè.  "Not hard to
answer," Medb replied: "He shall be recompensed [5]for the loss of his
lands and estates,[5] for whosoever has been slain of the Ulstermen, so
that it be paid to him as the men of Erin adjudge [6]according to the will
of the Ulstermen and of Fergus and of the nobles of the men of Erin who are
in this camp and encampment.[6] Entertainment shall be his at all times in
Cruachan; wine and [W.1614.] mead shall be poured [LL.fo.70a.] out for
him. [1]He shall have from the plain of Ai the equal of the plain of
Murthemne and the best chariot that is in Ai and the equipment of twelve
men. Offer, if it please him more, the plain wherein he was reared and
thrice seven bondmaids.[1] And he shall come into my service and Ailill's,
for that is more seemly for him than to be in the service of the lordling
with whom he is, [2]even of Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathatch.[2]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1097.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1098.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1100-1101.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1100-1102.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1103-1105.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

Accordingly this was the greatest word of scorn and insult spoken on the
Cow-Raid of Cualnge, to make a lordling of the best king of a province in
Erin, even of Conchobar.

Then came Fiachu son of Ferfebè to converse with Cuchulain. Cuchulain bade
him welcome. "[3]Welcome thy coming and thine arrival, O Fiachu," said
Cuchulain.[3] "I regard that welcome as truly meant," [4]said Fiachu.[4]
"It is truly meant for thee" [5]replied Cuchulain[5]; "[6]and thou shalt
have a night of hospitality this night." "Victory and a blessing attend
thee, O fosterling," replied Fiachu. "Not for hospitality am I come, but[6]
to parley with thee am I come from Medb, [7]and to bring thee terms."[7]
"What hast thou brought with thee?" "Thou shalt be recompensed for
whatsoever was destroyed of Ulster which shall be paid thee as best the men
of Erin adjudge. Entertainment shalt thou enjoy in Cruachan; wine and mead
shall be poured out for thee and thou shalt enter the service of Ailill and
Medb, for that is more seemly for thee than to be in the service of the
lordling with whom thou art." "Nay, of a truth," answered Cuchulain, "I
would not sell my mother's brother[a] for any other king!" "Further,"
[8]continued Fiachu,[8] "that [W.1627.] thou comest to-morrow to a tryst
with Medb and Fergus in Glenn Fochaine.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [a] That is, Conchobar.

    [8-8] Stowe.

[1]Therewith Fiachu left behind a wish for long life and health with

    [1-1] Stowe.

Accordingly, early on the morrow, Cuchulain set forth for Glenn
Fochaine. Likewise Medb and Fergus went to meet him. And Medb looked
narrowly at Cuchulain, and her spirit chafed her at him that day, for no
bigger than the bulk of a stripling did he seem to her. "Is that yonder the
renowned Cuchulain thou speakest of, O Fergus?"  asked Medb, [2]"of whom it
is said amongst ye Ulstermen that there is not in Erin a warrior for whom
he is not a match and mighty combat?" "Not in Erin alone, did we say,"
Fergus made answer; "but there is not in the world a warrior for whom he is
not a match and mighty combat."[2] And Medb began to address Fergus and she
made this lay:--

      Medb: "If that be the noble Hound,
             Of whom ye of Ulster boast,
             What man e'er stout foe hath faced,
             Will fend him from Erin's men!"

    Fergus: "Howe'er young the Hound thou seest,
             That Murthemne's Plain doth course,
             That man hath not stood on earth
             Whom he'd crush not with his might!"

      Medb: "We will bring this warrior terms;
             If he slight them, he is mad:
             Half his cows, his women, half.
             He shall change his way of fight!"

    Fergus: "My wish, that yell not o'ercome
             This Hound from proud Murthemne!
             Deeds he fears not--fierce and bright--
             This I know, if it be he!"

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

"Accost Cuchulain, O Fergus," said Medb. "Nay, then," quoth Fergus, "but do
thou accost him thyself, for ye are not asunder here in the valley, in
Glenn Fochaine."  [W.1653.] And Medb began to address Cuchulain and she
made a lay, [1]to which he responded:[1]

         Medb: "Culann's Hound, whom quatrains praise,[a]
                Keep thy staff-sling far from us;
                Thy fierce, famed fight hath us ruined,
                Hath us broken and confused!"

    Cuchulain: "Medb of Mur, he, Maga's son,
                No base arrant wight am I.
                While I live I'll never cease
                Cualnge's raid to harass sore!"

         Medb: "If thou wilt take this from us,
                Valiant chief, thou Cualnge's Hound;
                Half thy cows, thy women, half,
                Thou shalt have [2]through fear of thee!"[2]

    Cuchulain: "As by right of thrusts am I
                Ulster's champion and defence,
                Naught I'll yield till I retrieve
                Cow and woman ta'en from Gael!"

         Medb: "What thou askest is too much,
                After slaughtering our fair troops,
                That we keep but steeds and gauds,
                All because of one sole man!"

    Cuchulain: "Eocho's daughter, fair, of Fal,
                I'm not good at wars of words;
                Though a warrior--[b] fair the cheer--[b]
                Counsel mine is little worth!"

         Medb: "Shame thou hast none for what thou sayest,
                O Dechtirè's lordly[c] son!
                Famous are the terms for thee,
                O thou battling Culann's Hound!"

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [a] Literally, 'love.'

    [2-2] Reading with H. 1. 13 and Stowe.

    [b-b] A cheville.

    [c] Literally, 'richly trooped.'

When this lay was finished, Cuchulain accepted none of the terms which she
had offered. In such wise they parted in the valley and withdrew in equal
anger on the one side and on the other.

The warriors of four of the five grand provinces of Erin pitched camp and
took quarters for three days and three nights at Druim En ('Birds' Ridge')
in Conalle Murthemni, but neither huts nor tents did they set up, nor did
they [W.1688.] engage in feasts or repasts, nor sang they songs nor carols
those three nights. And Cuchulain destroyed a hundred of their warriors
every night ere the bright hour of sunrise on the morrow.

[LL.fo.70b.] "Our hosts will not last long in this fashion," said Medb, "if
Cuchulain slays a hundred of our warriors every night. Wherefore is a
proposal not made to him and do we not parley with him?" "What might the
proposal be?"  asked Ailill. "Let the cattle that have milk be given to him
and the captive women from amongst our booty.  And he on his side shall
check his staff-sling from the men of Erin and give leave to the hosts to
sleep, [1]even though he slay them by day."[1] "Who shall go with
that proposal?"  Ailill asked. "Who," answered Medb, "but macRoth the
[2]chief[2] runner!" "Nay, but I will not go," said macRoth, "for I am in
no way experienced and know not where Cuchulain may be, [3]and even though
I should meet him, I should not know him.[3]" "Ask Fergus," quoth Medb;
"like enough he knows [4]where he is.[4]" "Nay, then, I know it not,"
answered Fergus; "but I trow he is [5]in the snow[5] between Fochain and
the sea, taking the wind and the sun after his sleeplessness last night,
killing and slaughtering the host single handed."  And so it truly
was. [6]Then on that errand to Delga macRoth set forth, the messenger of
Ailill and Medb. He it is that circles Erin in one day. There it is that
Fergus opined that Cuchulain would be, in Delga.[6]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1128.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1109-1111.

Heavy snow fell that night so that all the [7]five[7] provinces of Erin
were a white plane with the snow. And Cuchulain doffed the seven-score
waxed, boardlike tunics which were used to be held under cords and strings
next his skin, in order that his sense might not be deranged when [W.1709.]
the fit of his fury came on him. And the snow melted for thirty feet all
around him, because of the intensity of the warrior's heat and the warmth
of Cuchulain's body. And the gilla [1]remained a good distance from him for
he[1] could not endure to remain near him because of the might of his rage
and the warrior's fury and the heat of his body.  "A single warrior
approacheth, O Cuchulain," cried Laeg [2]to Cuchulain.[2] "What manner of
warrior is he?" asked Cuchulain. "A brown, broad-faced, handsome fellow;
[3]a yellow head of hair and a linen ornament round it[3]; a splendid,
brown, [4]hooded[4] cloak, [5]with red ornamentation,[5] about him; a fine,
bronze pin in his cloak; a leathern three-striped doublet next his skin;
two gapped shoes between his two feet and the ground; a white-hazel
dog-staff in one of his hands; a single-edged sword with ornaments of
walrus-tooth on its hilt in the other. "Good, O gilla," quoth Cuchulain,
"these be the tokens of a herald.  One of the heralds of Erin is he to
bring me message and offer of parley."

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1112.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1112.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1113.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1114.

Now was macRoth arrived at the place where Laeg was, "[6]How now[6]! What
is thy title as vassal, O gilla? "macRoth asked. "Vassal am I to the youth
up yonder," the gilla made answer. MacRoth came to the place where
Cuchulain was. [7]Cuchulain was sitting in the snow there up to his two
hips with nothing about him ... his mantle.[7] "[8]How now[8]! What is thy
name as vassal, O warrior?" asked macRoth.  "Vassal am I to Conchobar son
of Fachtna Fathach, [9]son of the High King of this province."[9] "Hast not
something, [10]a name[10] more special than that?" "Tis enough for the
nonce," answered Cuchulain. "Haply, thou knowest where I might find that
famous Cuchulain of whom the men [W.1729.] of Erin clamour now on this
foray?" "What wouldst thou say to him that thou wouldst not to me?" asked
Cuchulain.  "To parley with him am I come on the part of Ailill and Medb,
with terms and friendly intercourse for him." "What terms hast thou brought
with thee for him?" "The milch-kine and the bondwomen of the booty he shall
have, and for him to hold back his staff-sling from the hosts, for not
pleasant is the thunder-feat he works every evening upon them." "Even
though the one thou seekest were really at hand, he would not accept the
proposals thou askest." "[1]How so, then," said macRoth[1]; "for the
Ulstermen, as amends for their honour and in reprisal for injuries and
satires and hindrances [2]and for bands of troops and marauders,[2] will
kill [3]for meat in the winter[3] the milch-cows ye have captured, should
they happen to have no yeld cattle. And, what is more, they will bring
their bondwomen to bed to them, and thus will grow up a base progeny on the
side of the mothers in the land of Ulster, [4]and loath I am to leave after
me such a disgrace on the men of Ulster.[4]

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1116-1118.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1120.

    [1] H. 2. 17.

    [2] H. 2. 17.

    [3] LU. and YBL. 1135.

    [4] H. 2. 17.

MacRoth went his way back [5]to the camp of the men of Erin to where Ailill
and Medb and Fergus were.[5] "What!  Didst thou not find him?" Medb
asked. "Verily, [6]I know not, but[6] I found a surly, angry, hateful,
wrathful gilla [7]in the snow[7] betwixt Fochain and the sea. Sooth to say,
I know not if he were Cuchulain." "Hath he accepted these proposals [8]from
thee?"[8] "Nay then, he hath not." And macRoth related [9]unto them all his
answer,[9] the reason why he did not accept them. "It was he himself with
whom thou spakest," said Fergus.

    [5] H. 2. 17.

    [6] H. 2. 17.

    [7] H. 2. 17.

    [8] Stowe.

    [9] Stowe.

"Another offer shall be made him," said Medb. "What is the offer?"
asked Ailill. "There shall be given to him [W.1747.] the yeld cattle
and the noblest of the captive women of the booty, and his sling shall
be checked from the hosts, for not pleasant is the thunder-feat he
works on them every evening." "Who should go make this covenant?"
[1]said they.[1] "Who but macRoth [2]the king's envoy,"[2] [3]said
every one.[3] "Yea, I will go," said macRoth, "because this time I
know him."

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Stowe.

[4]Thereupon[4] macRoth [5]arose and[5] came to parley with Cuchulain. "To
parley with thee am I come this time [6]with other terms,[6] for I wis it
is thou art the renowned Cuchulain." "What hast thou brought with thee
now?" [7]Cuchulain asked.[7] "What is dry of the kine and what is noblest
of the captives [8]shalt thou get,[8] and hold thy staff-sling [LL.fo.71a.]
from the men of Erin and suffer the men of Erin to go to sleep, for not
pleasant is the thunder-feat thou workest upon them every evening." "I
accept not that offer, because, as amends for their honour, the Ulstermen
will kill the dry cattle. For the men of Ulster are honourable men and they
would remain wholly without dry kine and milch-kine. They would bring their
free women ye have captured to the querns and to the kneading-troughs and
into bondage and [9]other[9] serfdom [10]besides.[10] [11]This would be a
disgrace.[11] Loath I should be to leave after me this shame in Ulster,
that slave-girls and bondmaids should be made of the daughters of kings and
princes of Ulster." "Is there any offer at all thou wilt accept this time?"
[12]said macRoth[12] "Aye, but there is," answered Cuchulain. "Then wilt
thou tell me the offer?" asked macRoth. "By my word," Cuchulain made
answer, "'tis not I that will tell you." "It is a question, then," said
macRoth. "If there be among you in the camp," said Cuchulain, "one that
knows the terms I demand, let [W.1766.] him inform you, [1]and I will abide
thereby."[1] "And if there be not?"[2] said macRoth. "If there be not,"
said Cuchulain,[2] "let no one come near me any more with offers or with
friendly intercourse [3]or concerning aught other injunction,[3] for,
whosoever may come, it will be the term of his life!"

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Stowe.

MacRoth came back [4]to the camp and station of the men of Erin, to where
Ailill, Medb, and Fergus were,[4] and Medb asked his tidings. "Didst thou
find him?" Medb asked. "In truth, I found him," macRoth replied.  "Hath he
accepted [5]the terms?"[5] "He hath not accepted," replied macRoth. "[6]How
so;" said Ailill,[6] "is there an offer he will accept?" "There is one, he
said," [7]answered macRoth.[7] "Hath he made known to thee this offer?"
"This is his word," said macRoth, "that he himself would not disclose it to
ye." "'Tis a question, then," said Medb. "But" (macRoth continued), "should
there be one in our midst that knows his terms, that one would tell it to
me." "And if there be not," [8]said Ailill. "And if there be not,"[8]
(answered macRoth), "let no one go seek him any more. But, there is one
thing I promise [9]thee,"[9] said macRoth; "even though the kingdom of Erin
were [10]given me[10] for it, I for one would not go [11]on these same legs
to that place[11] to parley with him [12]again."[12] [13]"Belike, Fergus
knows," quoth Ailill.[13] Therewith Medb looked at Fergus. "What are the
terms yonder man demands, O Fergus? "Medb asked. [14]"I know what the man
meant to disclose.[14] I see no advantage at all for ye in the terms he
demands," Fergus replied. "[15]But[15] what are those terms?" asked
Medb. "[16]Not difficult to say," replied Fergus.[16] "That a single
champion of [W.1782.] the men of Erin [1]be sent[1] to fight [2]and
contend[2] with him every day. The while he slayeth that man, the army will
be permitted to continue its march. Then, when he will have slain that man,
another warrior shall be sent to meet him on the ford. Either that, or the
men of Erin shall halt and camp there till sunrise's bright hour in the
morning. [3]And, by the ford whereon his single-handed battle and fight
takes place, the cattle shall not be taken by day or by night, to see if
there come to him help from the men of Ulster. And I wonder," continued
Fergus, "how long it will be till they come out of their 'Pains.'[3]
[4]Whatever Ulstermen are injured or wounded nearby him, your leeches shall
heal them and ye shall not be paid for the price of their healing. Whatever
daughter of kings or of princes of the men of Erin shall love him, ye shall
bring her to him together with her purchase and bride-price.[4] And
further, Cuchulain's food and clothing shall be provided by you, [5]so long
as he will be[5] on this expedition."  [6]"Good, O Fergus,"[6] asked
Ailill,[a] [7]"will he abate aught of these terms?" "In sooth, will he,"
replied Fergus; "namely, he will not exact to be fed and clothed by you,
but of himself will provide food and clothing."[7]

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] Stowe.

    [12-12] Stowe.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] LU. and YBL. 1138.

    [15-15] H. 2. 17.

    [16-16] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1140-1143.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [a] 'Medb,' H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

"By our conscience," said Ailill, "this is a grievous proposal."  "What he
asks is good," replied Medb; "and he shall obtain those terms, for we deem
it easier to bear that he should have one of our warriors every day than
a hundred every night." "Who will go and make known those terms to
Cuchulain?" "Who, then, but Fergus?" replied Medb. "[8]Come now, O Fergus,"
said Medb; "take upon thee to fulfil and make good those terms to him."[8]
"Nevermore!" said Fergus. "Why not?" asked Ailill.  [9]"I fear ye will
not make true and fulfil them for [W.1792.] me." "They will truly be
fulfilled," said Medb.[9] (Then said Fergus:) "Bonds and covenants, pledges
and bail shall be given for abiding by those terms and for their fulfilment
towards Cuchulain." "I abide by it," said Medb, and she fast bound Fergus
to them in like manner.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 115]



[W.1798.] Fergus' horses were brought and his chariot was hitched [2]and
Fergus set forth on that errand.[2] And two horses were brought for
Etarcumul son of Fid and of Lethrinn, a soft youth of the people of Medb
and of Ailill. [3]Now Etarcumul followed Fergus.[3] "Whither goest thou?"
Fergus demanded. "We go with thee," Etarcumul made answer. [4]"And why
goest thou with me?" asked Fergus.[4] "To behold the form and appearance of
Cuchulain, and to gaze upon him, [5]for he is unknown to me."[5] "Wilt thou
do my bidding," said Fergus, "thou wilt in no wise go thither."  "Why shall
I not, pray?" [6]"I would not have thee go," said Fergus; "and it is not
out of hatred of thee, only I should be loath to have combat between thee
and Cuchulain.[6] Thy light-heartedness, [7]thy haughtiness and thy
pride[7] and thine overweeningness (I know), but (I also know) the
fierceness and valour and hostility, the [8]violence and vehemence[8] of
the youth against whom thou goest, [9]even Cuchulain.[9] And methinks ye
will have contention before ye part. [10]No good will come from your
meeting."[10] "Art thou not able to come between us [11]to protect me?"[11]
[W.1806.] "I am, to be sure," Fergus answered, "provided thou thyself seek
not the combat[1] and treat not what he says with contempt."[1] "I will not
seek it," [2]said Etarcumul,[2] "till the very day of doom!"

    [1-1] LU. fo. 68a, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1145.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1145.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1147-1149.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1149.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1150.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1150.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1152.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

Then they went their ways [3]in two chariots to Delga,[3] to come up to
Cuchulain where Cuchulain was between Fochain and the sea. [4]There it is
that he was that day, with his back to the pillar-stone at Crich Rois,[4]
playing draughts with Laeg, [5]to wit, his charioteer.[5] [6]The back of
his head was turned towards them that approached and Laeg faced them.[6]
And not a [7]living[7] thing entered the [8]entire[8] plain without Laeg
perceiving it and, notwithstanding, he continued to win every other game of
draughts from Cuchulain. "A lone warrior cometh towards us [9]over the
plain,[9] [10]my master[10] Cucuc," spake Laeg. "What manner of warrior?"
queried Cuchulain. [11]"A fine, large chariot is there," said he.[11]
[12]"But what sort of chariot?"[12] "As large as one of the chief mountains
that are highest on a great plain appears to me [LL.fo.71b.] the chariot
that is under the warrior; [13]and I would liken to the battlements of one
of the vast, royal seats of the province the chariot that is in the
trappings of those horses;[13] as large as one of the noble trees on a main
fort's green meseems the curly, tressed, fair-yellow, all-golden hair
hanging loose around the man's head; a purple mantle fringed with thread of
gold [14]wrapped[14] around him; a golden, ornamented brooch in the mantle
[15]over his breast;[15] [16]a bright-shining, hooded shirt, with red
embroidery of red gold trussed up on his white [W.1819.] skin;[16] a broad
and grey-shafted lance, [1]perforated from _mimasc_[a] to 'horn,'[1]
flaming red in his hand; over him, a bossed, plaited shield, [2]curved,
with an engraved edge of silvered bronze,[2] [3]with applied ornaments of
red gold thereon,[3] and a boss of red gold; a lengthy sword, as long as
the oar[4] of a huge currach [5]on a wild, stormy night,[5] [6]resting
on the two thighs[6] of the great haughty warrior that is within the

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1153.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] LL., in the margin.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1154-1155.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] H. 2. 17.

    [15-15] Stowe.

    [16-16] H. 2. 17.

    [a] Some part of the spear.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1159.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1158.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Following Windisch's emendation of the text.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1160.

"Holla! Welcome the coming of this guest to us!"  cried Cuchulain. "We know
the man; it is my master Fergus that cometh hither. [7]Empty is the great
paddle that my master Fergus carries," said Cuchulain; "for there is no
sword in its sheath but a sword of wood. For I have heard," Cuchulain
continued, "that Ailill got a chance at him and Medb as they lay, and he
took away Fergus' sword from him and gave it to his charioteer to take care
of, and the sword of wood was put into its sheath."[7]

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1160-1165.

"Yet another single chariot-fighter I see coming towards us. With fulness
of skill and beauty and splendour his horses speed." [8]"A young, tender
gilla in armour is in the chariot.[8]" "One of the youths of the men of
Erin is he, O my master Laeg," responded Cuchulain. "To scan my appearance
and form is that man come, for I am renowned amongst them in the midst of
their camp, [9]and they know me not at all."[9]

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

Fergus came up [10]to where Cuchulain was[10] and he sprang from the
chariot, and Cuchulain bade him [11]a hearty[11] welcome. [12]"Welcome to
thine arrival and thy coming, O my master Fergus!" cried Cuchulain; "and a
night's [W.1831.] lodging shalt thou have here this night."[12] [1]"Thy
hospitality and eke thy welcome[1] I take for true," Fergus responded.
"Verily, it is truly meant for thee," said Cuchulain; "for comes there a
brace of birds into the plain, thou shalt have a wild goose with half the
other. If fish rise to the river-mouths, [2]to the stones or waterfalls,[2]
thou shalt have a salmon with as much again.  Thou shalt have a handful of
watercress and a handful of sea-grass and a handful of laver [3]and a drink
from the sand[3] [4]afterwards.[4] If thou hast a fight or combat [5]with
warrior before thee,[5] I myself will go in thy stead to the ford. [6]I
will bear the fight that thou mayest return safe to the camp and the fort
of the men of Erin on the morrow,[6] [7]and thou shalt lie on a litter of
fresh rushes till heavy sleep and slumber come on thee,[7] [8]and I will
watch and guard thee as long as thou sleepest."[8] "Well, then, [9]mayest
thou have victory and blessing, O fosterling," said Fergus.[9] "We know of
what sort is thy hospitality on this occasion, on the Cow-spoil of Cualnge.
[10]But, not to claim that are we come,[10] [11]a night's hospitality of
thee, but to fulfil and make good the terms thou askest.[11] As for this
compact which thou hast asked of the men of Erin, single-handed combat with
one man, thou shalt have it. It is for that I am come, to bind thee
thereto, and do thou take it upon thee." "I pledge myself truly," said
Cuchulain, [13]provided fair play and single-handed combat be granted to
me.[13] "And, O, my master Fergus, [14]do thou take upon thee the pact,"
said Cuchulain. "I bind myself to it," replied Fergus.[14] [W.1841.] And no
longer than that did he remain in parley, lest the men of Erin should say
they were betrayed or deserted by Fergus for his disciple. Fergus' two
horses were brought and his chariot was harnessed and he went back.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17, and, similarly, Stowe.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1170 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] Reading with Stowe.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

    [10-10 Stowe.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] H. 2. 17.

Etarcumul tarried behind gazing for a long time at Cuchulain. "At what
starest thou, gilla?" asked Cuchulain. "I look at thee," said Etarcumul.
"In truth then, thou hast not far to look," said Cuchulain.  [1]"There is
no need of straining thine eye for that; not far from thee within sight,
thine eye seeth what is not smaller than I nor bigger.[1] If thou but
knewest how angered is the little creature thou regardest, myself, to wit!
And how then do I appear unto thee gazing upon me?" "Thou pleasest me as
thou art; a comely, [2]shapely,[2] wonderful, beautiful youth thou art,
with brilliant, striking, various feats. Yet as for rating thee where
goodly warriors are or forward youths or heroes of bravery or sledges of
destruction, we count thee not nor consider thee at all. [3]I know not
why thou shouldst be feared by any one. I behold nothing of terror or
fearfulness or of the overpowering of a host in thee. So, a comely youth
with arms of wood and with showy feats is all thou art!"[3] [4]"Though thou
revilest me,"[4] said Cuchulain, "it is a surety for thee that thou camest
from the camp under the protection of Fergus, [5]as thou well knowest.[5]
For the rest, I swear by my gods whom I worship, were it not for the honour
of Fergus, it would be only bits of thy bones and shreds of thy limbs,
[6]thy reins drawn and thy quarters scattered[6] that would be brought back
to the camp [7]behind thy horses and chariot!"[7] "But threaten me no
longer [W.1858.] in this wise, [1]Cuchulain[1]!" [2]cried Etarcumul;[2]
"for the [3]wonderful[3] terms thou didst exact of the men of Erin, [4]that
fair play and[4] combat with one man [5]should be granted thee,[5] none
other of the men of Erin but mine own self will come to-morrow [6]at morn's
early hour on the ford[6] to attack thee."

    [1-1] Reading with H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1178-1180.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1181.

    [5-5] Stowe; LL. reads 'I know.'

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1182-1183.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1185.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

"Come out, then," [7]said Cuchulain,[7] "and howso early thou comest, thou
wilt find me here. I will not fly before thee. [8]Before no man have I put
foot in flight till now on the Plunder of the Kine of Cualnge and neither
will I fly before thee!"[8]

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

Etarcumul returned [9]from Methè and Cethè,[9] and began to talk with his
driver. "I must needs fight with Cuchulain to-morrow, gilla," said
Etarcumul, [10]"for I gave my word to go."[10] "'Tis true, thou didst,"
quoth the charioteer.  [LL.fo.72a.] "Howbeit, I know not wilt thou fulfil
it." "But what is better [11]for us,[11] to fulfil it to-morrow or
forthwith to-night?"  "To our thinking," said the gilla, "albeit no victory
is to be won by fighting to-morrow, there is still less to be gained by
fighting to-night, for thy combat [12]and hurt[12] is the nearer." "[13]Be
that as it may," said he[13]; "turn the [14]horses and[14] chariot back
again [15]from the hill[15] for us, gilla, [16]till we go to the ford of
combat,[16] for I swear by the gods whom I worship, I will not return
[17]to the camp[17] till the end of life and time, till I bring with me the
head of that young wildling, [18]even[18] the head of Cuchulain, for a

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1188.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] H. 2. 17.

    [15-15] LU. and YBL. 1190.

    [16-16] H. 2. 17.

    [17-17] Stowe.

    [18-18] Stowe.

The charioteer wheeled the chariot again towards the [W.1871.] ford. They
brought the left[a] board to face the pair in a line with the ford. Laeg
marked [1]this and he cried[1] [2]to Cuchulain[2]: ("Wist thou) the last
chariot-fighter that was here a while ago, O Cucuc?" "What of him?"  asked
Cuchulain. "He has brought his left board towards us in the direction of
the ford." "It is Etarcumul, O gilla, who seeks me in combat. [3]I owe no
refusal,[3] but far from pleased am I thereat [4]that he should come and
seek combat of me. And unwelcome is his coming,[4] because of the honour of
my foster-father [5]Fergus[5] under whom he came forth from the camp [6]of
the men of Erin.[6] But not that I would protect him do I thus. Fetch me my
arms, gilla, to the ford. [7]Bring me my horse and my chariot after me.[7]
I deem it no honour for myself if [8]the fellow[8] reaches the ford before
me." And straightway Cuchulain betook himself to the ford, and he bared his
sword over his fair, well-knit spalls and he was ready on the ford to await

    [a] A sign of hostility and an insult.
    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1191.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1192.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

Then, too, came Etarcumul. "What seekest thou, gilla?" demanded Cuchulain.
"Battle with thee I seek," replied Etarcumul. "Hadst thou been advised by
me," said Cuchulain, "thou wouldst never have come. [9]I do not desire what
thou demandest of me.[9] [10]I have no thought of fighting or contending
with thee, Etarcumul.[10] Because of the honour of Fergus under whom thou
camest out of the camp [11]and station of the men of Erin,[11] and not
because I would spare thee, do I behave thus."  [12]"Thou hast no choice
but to fight," replied Etarcumul.[12] Thereupon Cuchulain gave him a
long-blow whereby [W.1886.] he cut away the sod that was under the soles of
his feet, so that he was stretched out like a sack on his back, and [1]his
limbs in the air[1] and the sod on his belly.  Had Cuchulain wished it it
is two pieces he might have made of him. [2]"Hold, fellow.[2] Off with thee
now, for I have given thee warning. [3]It mislikes me to cleanse my hands
in thee. I would have cloven thee into many parts long since but for
Fergus."[3] "I will not go. We will fight on," said Etarcumul. Cuchulain
dealt him a well-aimed edge-stroke. [4]With the edge of his sword[4] he
sheared the hair from him from poll to forehead, from one ear to the other,
as if it were with a light, keen razor he had been shorn. [5]Not a scratch
of his skin gave blood.[5] [6]"Hold, fellow.[6] Get thee home now," said
Cuchulain, "for a laughing-stock I have made of thee." "I go not,"
[7]rejoined Etarcumul.[7] "We will fight to the end, till I take thy head
and thy spoils and boast over thee, or till thou takest my head and my
spoils and boastest over me!"  "So let it be, what thou saidst last, that
it shall be. I will take thy head and thy spoils and boast over thee!"
[8]When now the churl became troublesome and persistent,[8] Cuchulain
[9]sprang from the ground, so that he alighted on the edge of Etarcumul's
shield, and he[9] dealt him a cleaving-blow on the crown of the head, so
that it drove to his navel. He dealt him a second crosswise stroke, so that
at the one time the three portions of his body came to the ground. Thus
fell Etarcumul son of Fid and of Lethrinn.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1194-1195.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 1195.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1197-1199.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1204.

    [5-5] H. 2 17.

    [6-6] H. 2 17.

    [7-7] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1206-1207.

    [9-9] H. 2. 17.

[10]Then Etarcumul's charioteer went his way after Fergus,[10] and Fergus
knew not that the combat had been. For thus was his wont: [11]From the day
Fergus took warrior's arms in hand,[11] he never for aught looked back,
whether at [W.1904.] sitting or at rising or when travelling or walking, in
battle or fight or combat, lest some one might say it was out of fear he
looked back, but ever he looked at the thing that was before and beside
him. [1]Fergus saw the chariot go past him and a single man in it.[1]
[2]And when[2] Etarcumul's squire came up abreast of Fergus, Fergus asked,
"But, where is thy lord, gilla?" "He fell a while since at the ford by the
hand of Cuchulain," the gilla made answer.  "That indeed was not fair!"
exclaimed Fergus, "for that elf-like sprite to wrong me in him that came
under my safeguard [3]and protection[3] [4]from the camp and fort of the
men of Erin.[4] Turn the chariot for us, gilla," cried Fergus, "that we may
go to [5]the ford of fight and combat[5] for a parley with Cuchulain."

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1208.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

Thereupon the driver wheeled the chariot. They fared thither towards the
ford. [6]Fergus turned to rebuke Cuchulain.[6] "How darest thou offend me,
thou wild, [7]perverse, little[7] elf-man," cried Fergus, "in him that
came under my safeguard and protection? [8]Thou thinkest my club short."[8]
[LL.fo.72b.] [9]"Be not wroth with me, my master Fergus," said Cuchulain.[9]
 "After the nurture and care thou didst bestow on me [10]and the Ulstermen
bestowed and Conchobar[10] tell me, which wouldst thou hold better, [11]for
the Ulstermen to be conquered without anyone to punish them but me alone
and[11] for him to triumph and boast over me, or for me to triumph and
boast over him? And yet more, [12]of his own fault he fell.[12] Ask his own
gilla which of us was in fault in respect of the other; [13]it was none
other but he.[13][a] [1]Reproach me not, O Fergus my master." He bent down
so that Fergus' chariot went past him thrice.  "Ask his charioteer, is it I
that have caused it?" "Not thou indeed," answered his charioteer. "He
said," Cuchulain went on, "he would not go till either he took my head or
he left me his own."[1] [2]Then Etarcumul's gilla related to Fergus how it
all befel. When Fergus heard that, what he said was:[2] [W.1921.] "Liefer
to me what thou hast done, [3]O fosterling," said Fergus, "that Etarcumul
is slain, and[3] a blessing on the hand that smote him, [4]for it is he
that was overweening."[4]

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1209.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1210. Probably a proverbial expression.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1210.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] H. 2. 17.

    [a] Lines 1212-1216 LU. and YBL. (Edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe) are
    omitted in the translation.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1216-1220.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1222.

So then they bound two spancels about the ankle-joints of Etarcumul's feet
and he was dragged along behind his horses and chariot. At every rock that
was rough for him, his lungs and his liver were left on the stones and the
rugged places. At every place that was smooth for him, his skilfully
severed limbs came together again round the horses.  In this wise he was
dragged through the camp to the door of the tent of Ailill and Medb:
"There's your young warrior for you," cried Fergus, "for 'Every restoration
together with its restitution' is what the law saith."[a] Medb came forth
to the door of her tent and she raised her [5]quick, splitting,[5] loud
voice [6]of a warrior.[6] Quoth Medb. "Truly, methought that great was the
heat and the wrath of this young hound [7]on leaving us awhile since[7] at
the beginning of the day as he went from the camp. [8]It is no fortune for
a tender youth that falls on thee now.[8] We had thought that the honour
under which he went, even the honour of Fergus, was not the honour of a
dastard!" "What hath crazed the virago and wench?" cried Fergus. "Good
lack, [W.1935.] is it fitting for the mongrel to seek the Hound of battle
whom [1]the warriors and champions[1] of four of the five grand provinces
of Erin dare not approach nor withstand?  What, I myself was glad to escape
whole from him!"

    [a] A law maxim. Since Etarcumul had broken his promise not to fight,
    Fergus deems himself absolved from the spirit of his engagement to
    bring back Etarcumul but fulfils the letter of it.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] H. 2. 17.

[2]Etarcumul's grave was then dug and his tombstone erected; his name was
written in ogam and they raised the keen over him. Cuchulain shot not from
his sling at them that night[2] [3]and the women and maidens were brought
over to him and half the cattle, and they brought provision to him by
day.[3] In this manner fell Etarcumul and such was the combat of Etarcumul
with Cuchulain.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1230-1232.

    [3-3] LU. fo. 69, between the columns.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 126]



[2]Then the men of Erin held counsel who would be fit to fight and contend
with Cuchulain and drive him off from the men of Erin.[2] [3]"What man have
ye to face Cuchulain to-morrow?" asked Lugaid. "They will give him to thee
to-morrow," answered Manè son of Ailill. "We find no one to meet him,"
quoth Medb; "let us have a truce with him then till a man be found to
oppose him." This they obtain. "Whither will ye turn," asked Ailill,
"to find the man to oppose Cuchulain?" "There is not in Erin," Medb
answered, "one that could be got to meet him unless Curoi macDarè come, or
Nathcrantail the warrior." A man of Curoi's people was in the tent. "Curoi
will not come," said he; "he weens enough of his people have come!" "Let a
message be sent then for Nathcrantail."[3] [W.1941.] Then arose a huge
warrior of Medb's people, Nathcrantail by name. [4]Manè Andoe ('the
Unslow') goes to him. They tell him their message. "Come with us for the
sake of the honour of Connacht." "I will not go," said he, "unless they
give Finnabair to me." Afterwards he goes with them. They bring his armour
in a car from the east of Connacht and place it in the camp.[4] [5]Then was
Nathcrantail called into the tent of Ailill and Medb.[5] [6]"Wherefore am I
summoned to ye?" Nathcrantail asked. "It would please us well," Medb
replied, "werest thou to fight and contend with Cuchulain on the ford and
ward him off from us at the morning hour early on the morrow.[6] [1]Thou
shalt have Finnabair," said Medb, "for going to fight yonder man." "I will
do it," said he.[1] [2]He engaged to undertake the battle and combat and
that night be made ready, and early on the morrow Nathcrantail arose for
the battle and combat and he took his warlike implements with him to the
fight, and though early he arose, Cuchulain arose still earlier.[2]
[3]That night Lugaid came to Cuchulain.  "Nathcrantail comes to meet thee
to-morrow. Alas for thee, thou wilt not withstand him." "That matters not,"
Cuchulain made answer.[3][a]

    [1-1] Stowe, and LU. fo. 69a, in the margin.

    [2-2] Stowe, and, similarly, H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1233-1242 and Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1242-1246.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1246-1247.

    [2-2] H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1248-1250.

    [a] Here follows one line (1251 in LU., edition of Strachan and
    O'Keeffe, and almost similarly in YBL.) which seems to refer to some
    saying of Cuchulain's about Nathcrantail which we cannot locate.

[4]On the morrow Nathcrantail went forth from the camp[4] and he came to
attack Cuchulain. [W.1942.] He did not deign to bring along arms but thrice
nine spits of holly after being sharpened, burnt and hardened in fire. And
there before him on the pond was Cuchulain [5]a-fowling and his chariot
hard by him,[5][b] and there was no shelter whatever. [6]And when
Nathcrantail perceived Cuchulain[6] he [7]straightway[7] cast a dart at
Cuchulain. Cuchulain sprang [8]from the middle of the ground[8] till he
came on the tip of the dart.  [9]And he performed a feat on the point of
the dart and it hindered him not from catching the birds.[9] And again
Nathcrantail threw a second dart. Nathcrantail threw a third dart and
Cuchulain sprang on the point of the second [W.1951.] dart and so on till
he was on the point of the last dart. It was then, [1]when Nathcrantail
threw the ninth dart,[1] that the flock of birds [2]which Cuchulain
pursued[2] on the plain [3]flew away from Cuchulain.[3] Cuchulain chased
them even as any bird [4]of the air.[4] [5]He hopped on the points of the
darts like a bird from each dart to the next, pursuing the birds[5] that
they might not escape him but that they might leave behind a portion of
food for the night. For this is what sustained and served Cuchulain, fish
and fowl and game on the Cualnge Cow-spoil. Something more remains to be
told: Nathcrantail deemed full surely that Cuchulain went from him in rout
of defeat and flight. And he went his way till he came to the door of the
tent of Ailill and Medb and he lifted up his loud voice [6]of a warrior[6]:
"That famous Cuchulain that ye so talk of ran and fled in defeat [7]before
me when he came to me[7] in the morning." "We knew," spake Medb, "it would
be even so when able warriors and goodly youths met him, that this
beardless imp would not hold out; for when a mighty warrior, [8]Nathcrantail
to wit,[8] came upon him, he withstood him not but before him he ran away!"

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1253.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1255.

    [b] Here follow lines 1945-1946, edition of Windisch, which are
    unintelligible and have been omitted in the translation.

    [6-6] H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1256-1257.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1258.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1258.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1259-1260.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe.

And Fergus heard that, and Fergus [9]and the Ulstermen[9] were sore angered
that any one should boast that Cuchulain had fled. And Fergus addressed
himself to Fiachu, Feraba's son, that he should go to rebuke Cuchulain.
"And tell [LL.fo.73a.] him it is an honour for him to oppose the hosts for
as long or as short a space as he does deeds of valour upon them, but that
it were fitter for him to hide himself than to fly before any one of their
warriors, [10]forasmuch as the dishonour would be not greater for him than
for the rest of Ulster."[10]

    [9-9] LU. 1264.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1268.

[W.1969.] Thereupon Fiachu went to address Cuchulain. Cuchulain bade him
welcome. "I trow that welcome to be truly meant, but it is for counsel with
thee I am come from thy fosterer Fergus. And he has said, 'It would be a
glory for thee to oppose the hosts for as long or as short a space as thou
doest valiantly [1]with them;[1] but it would be fitter for thee to hide
thyself than to fly before any one of their warriors!'" "How now, who makes
that boast among ye?" Cuchulain asked. "Nathcrantail, of a surety," Fiachu
answered. "How may this be? Dost not know, thou and Fergus and the nobles
of Ulster, that I slay no charioteers nor heralds nor unarmed people?  And
he bore no arms but a spit of wood. And I would not slay Nathcrantail until
he had arms. And do thou tell him, let him come here early in the morning,
[2]till he is between Ochainè and the sea, and however early he comes, he
will find me here[2] and I will not fly before him!"

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1273-1275.

[3]Fiachu went back to the camp[3] [4]and to the station of the men of
Erin, and he bound Nathcrantail to go to the ford of combat on the
morrow. They bided there that night,[4] and it seemed long to Nathcrantail
till day with its light came for him to attack Cuchulain. He set out early
on the morrow to attack Cuchulain. Cuchulain arose early [5]and came to his
place of meeting[5] and his wrath bided with him on that day. And [6]after
his night's vigil,[6] with an angry cast he threw his cloak around him, so
that it passed over the pillar-stone [7]near by, the size of himself,[7]
and snapped the pillar-stone off from the ground between himself and his
cloak. And he was aware of naught because of the measure of anger that had
come on and raged in him. Then, too, came Nathcrantail. [8]His arms were
brought with him on a wagon,[8] and he spake, "Where is [W.1987.]
this Cuchulain?" shouted Nathcrantail. "Why, over yonder [1]near the
pillar-stone before thee,"[1] answered Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar.
"Not such was the shape wherein he appeared to me yesterday," said
Nathcrantail.  "Repel yon warrior," quoth Cormac, "and it will be the same
for thee as if thou repellest Cuchulain!"  [2]"Art thou Cuchulain?"  "And
if I am?" answered Cuchulain. "If thou be truly he," said Nathcrantail, "I
would not bring a lambkin's head to the camp. I will not take thy head, the
head of a beardless boy." "It is not I at all," said Cuchulain; "go find
him around the hill!"  Cuchulain hastens to Laeg. "Rub a false beard on me;
I cannot get the warrior to fight with me beardless."  This was done for
him. He goes to meet Nathcrantail on the hill.  "Methinks that more
fitting. Now fight with me fairly," said Nathcrantail. "Thou shalt have thy
wish, if only we know it," Cuchulain made answer. "I will make a cast at
thee," said Nathcrantail, "and thou shalt not avoid it." "I will not avoid
it except on high," said Cuchulain. Nathcrantail makes a cast at him.
Cuchulain springs on high before it. "'Tis ill of thee to avoid the cast,"
cried Nathcrantail. "Avoid then my cast on high!" quoth Cuchulain.
Cuchulain lets the spear fly at him and it went on high, so that from above
it alighted on Nathcrantail's crown and through him it went to the
ground. "Alas," said he, "the best warrior in Erin art thou," spake
Nathcrantail. "Four and twenty sons have I in the camp. I will go and tell
them what hidden treasure I have and then return for thee to behead me, for
I shall die if the spear be taken out of my head."  "It is well," quoth
Cuchulain; "thou shalt come back."  Then Nathcrantail returns to the
camp. They all come to meet him. "Where is the madman's head with thee?"
[1]every one asks.[1] "Wait, ye warriors, till I tell my tale to my sons
and return to do battle with Cuchulain."[2]

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Egerton 93 begins here.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1276.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1277.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1277-1278.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1279.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1281-1305.

    [1-1] LU. 1303.

[W.1992.] Soon came Nathcrantail [3]to seek Cuchulain[3] and he made a wide
sweep with his sword at Cuchulain. [4]Cuchulain leaps on high,[4] so that
the sword encountered the pillar of stone that was between Cuchulain and
his cloak, and the sword broke [5]atwain[5] on the pillar-stone. [6]Then
Cuchulain became filled with rage, as he had been with the boys in Emain,
and[6] he sprang from the ground and alighted on the top of the boss of
Nathcrantail's shield and dealt him a side stroke over the upper edge of
the shield, so that he struck off his head from his trunk. He raised his
hand quickly again and gave him another blow on the top of the trunk so
that he cleft him in twain down to the ground. [7]His four severed parts
fell to the ground.[7] Thus fell Nathcrantail slain by Cuchulain. Whereupon
Cuchulain spoke [8]the verse:--[8]

    "Now that Nathcrantail has fallen,
    [9]There will be increase of strife![9]
    Would that Medb had battle [10]now,[10]
    And the third part of the host!"

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1305.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1306.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1307.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1307-1308.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1310.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Stowe, and LU. and YBL. 1313.

    [10-10] Stowe, and YBL. and LU. 1313.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 132]



[W.2007.] Thereafter [2]on the morrow[2] Medb proceeded with a third of the
host of the men of Erin about her, [3]and she set forth by the highroad of
Midluachair[3] till she reached Dûn Sobairche in the north. And Cuchulain
pressed heavily on Medb that day. [4]Medb went on to Cuib to seek the bull
and Cuchulain pursued her. Now on the road to Midluachair she had gone to
invade Ulster and Cruthne as far as Dûn Sobairche.[4] [5]There it is that
Cuchulain slew all those we have mentioned in Cuib.[5] Cuchulain killed Fer
Taidle, whence cometh Taidle; and [6]as they went northwards[6] he killed
the macBuachalla ('the Herdsman's sons') [7]at their cairn,[7] whence
cometh Carn macBuachalla; and he killed Luasce on the slopes, whence Lettre
Luasc ('the Watery Slopes of Luasc'); and he slew Bobulge in his marsh,
whence Grellach ('the Trampled Place') of Bubulge; and he slew Murthemne on
his hill, whence Delga ('the Points') of Murthemne; [8]he slew Nathcoirpthe
at his trees, Cruthen on his ford, Marc on his hill, Meille on his mound
and Bodb in his tower.[8] It was afterwards then [W.2016.] that Cuchulain
turned back from the north [1]to Mag Murthemni,[1] to protect and defend
his own borders and land, for dearer to him was [2]his own land and
inheritance and belongings[2] than the land and territory and belongings of

    [1-1] Stowe, and LU. fo. 70a.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1315-1317. Eg. 93 mentions a number of places to
    which Cuchulain pursued Medb.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1341.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1343.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1342-1344.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1345.]

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

It was then too that he came upon the Fir Crandce ('the men of Crannach')
[3]from whom cometh Crannach in Murthemne;[3] to wit, the two Artinne and
the two sons of Lecc, the two sons of Durcride, the two sons of Gabul, and
Drucht and Delt and Dathen, Tae and Tualang and Turscur, and Torc Glaisse
and Glass and Glassne, which are the same as the twenty men of Fochard.
Cuchulain surprised them as they were pitching [LL.fo.73b.] camp in advance
of all others--[4]ten cup-bearers and ten men-of-arms they were[4]--so that
they fell by his hand.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1348.

Then it was that Buide ('the Yellow') son of Ban Blai ('the White') from
[5]Sliab Culinn ('Hollymount'),[5] the country of Ailill and Medb, and
belonging to the special followers of [6]Ailill and[6] Medb, met Cuchulain.
Four and twenty[a] warriors [7]was their strength.[7] A [8]blue[8] mantle
enwrapping each man, the Brown Bull of Cualnge plunging and careering
before them after he had been brought from Glenn na Samaisce ('Heifers'
Glen') to Sliab Culinn, and fifty of his heifers with him. [9]Cuchulain
advances to meet them.[9] "Whence bring ye the drove, [10]ye men?"[10]
Cuchulain asks. "From yonder mountain," Buide answers.  [11]"Where are its
herdsmen?" Cuchulain asks.  "One is here where we found him," the warrior
answers.  Cuchulain made three leaps after them, seeking to speak [W.2031.]
with them, as far as the ford. Then it was he spoke to the leader[11],
"What is thine own name?" said Cuchulain.  "One that neither loves thee nor
fears thee," Buide made answer; "Buide son of Ban Blai am I, from the
country of Ailill and Medb." [1]"Wella-day, O Buide," cried Cuchulain;
"haste to the ford below that we exchange a couple of throws with each
other." They came to the ford and exchanged a couple of throws there.[1]
"Lo, here for thee this short spear," said Cuchulain, and he casts the
spear at him. It struck the shield over his belly, so that it shattered
three ribs in his farther side after piercing his heart in his bosom. And
Buide son of Ban Blai fell [2]on the ford.[2] So that thence is Ath Buidi
('Athboy') in Crich Roiss ('the land of Ross').

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1318.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [a] 'Sixty' is the number in LU. and YBL.; 'eight' in Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Stowe and LU. and YBL. 1319.

    [8-8] Eg. 93.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1320.

    [10-10] Eg. 93.

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 1322-1325.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL 1328.

For as long or as short a space as [3]these bold champions and
battle-warriors[3] were engaged in this work of exchanging their two short
spears--for it was not in a moment they had accomplished it--the Brown Bull
of Cualnge was carried away in quick course and career [4]by the eight
great men[4] to the camp [5]of the men of Erin[5] as swiftly as any beeve
can be brought to a camp. [6]They opined then it would not be hard to
deal with Cuchulain if only his spear were got from him.[6] From this
accordingly came the greatest shame and grief and madness that was brought
on Cuchulain on that hosting.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1330-1331.

As regards Medb: every ford [7]and every hill[7] whereon she stopped, Ath
Medba ('Medb's Ford') [8]and Dindgna Medba ('Medb's Hill')[8] is its
name. Every place wherein she pitched her tent, Pupall Medba ('Medb's
Tent') is its name.  Every spot she rested her horselash, Bili Medba
('Medb's Tree') is its name.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL 1353.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL 1354.

On this circuit Medb [9]turned back from the north after [W.2047.] she had
remained a fortnight laying waste the province[9] [1]and plundering the
land of the Picts and of Cualnge and the land of Conall son of Amargin,[1]
and having offered battle [2]one night[2] to Findmor ('the Fair-large')
wife of Celtchar [3]son of Uthechar[3] at the gate of Dûn Sobairche; and
she slew Findmor and laid waste Dûn Sobairche; [5]and, after taking Dûn
Sobairche from her, she brought fifty of [4]her[4] women into the province
of Dalriada.[5] [6]Then she had them hanged and crucified.  Whence cometh
Mas na Righna ('Queen's Buttock') as the name of the hill, from their

    [9-9] LU. and YBL 1348-1349.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1351-1352.

    [6-6] Eg. 33.

Then came the warriors of four of the five grand provinces of Erin at the
end of a long fortnight[a] to camp and station [7]at Fochard,[7] together
with Medb and Ailill and the company that were bringing the bull.

    [a] Omitting _ar mis_ (LL.), which is not found in the other MSS.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1355.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 136]



[W.2054.] And the bull's cowherd would not allow them [1]to carry off[1]
the Brown Bull of Cualnge, so that they urged on the bull, beating shafts
on shields, till they drove him into a narrow gap, and the herd trampled
the cowherd's body thirty feet into the ground, so that they made fragments
and shreds of his body. Forgemen was the neatherd's name. [2]And this is
the name of the hill, Forgemen.[2] This then is the Death of Forgemen on
the Cattle-prey of Cualnge. [3]Now there was no peril to them that night so
long as a man was got to ward off Cuchulain from them on the ford.[3]

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1359.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1360-1361.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 137]



[W.2061.] When the men of Erin had come together in one place, both Medb
and Ailill and the force that was bringing the bull to the camp and
enclosure, they all declared Cuchulain would be no more valiant than
another [2]of the men of Erin[2] were it not for the wonderful little trick
he possessed, the spearlet of Cuchulain. Accordingly the men of Erin
despatched from them Redg, Medb's[a] jester, to demand the light javelin
[3]of Cuchulain.[3]

    [1-1] LU. page 70b, in the margin.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [a] 'Ailill's,' LU. and YBL. 1332 and Eg. 1782.

    [3-3] Stowe.

So Redg [4]came forward to where Cuchulain was and[4] asked for the little
javelin, but Cuchulain did not give him the little javelin [5]at once[5];
he did not deem it good and proper to yield it. [6]"Give me thy spear,"
said the jester. "Nay then, I will not," answered Cuchulain; "but I will
give thee treasure." "I will not take it," said the jester. Then he wounded
the jester because he would not accept from him what he had offered him.[6]
Redg declared he would deprive Cuchulain of his honour [7]unless he got the
little javelin.[7] Thereupon Cuchulain hurled the javelin at him, so that
it struck him in the nape of the neck[b] and fell out through his mouth on
the ground. And the only words Redg uttered were these, "This precious gift
is readily [W.2072.] ours," and his soul separated from his body at the
ford. Therefrom that ford is ever since called Ath Solom Shet ('Ford of
the Ready Treasure'). And the copper of the javelin was thrown into the
river. Hence is Uman-Sruth ('Copperstream') ever after.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1333-1336.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1337.

    [b] More literally, 'in the pit of his occiput.'

[1]"Let us ask for a sword-truce from Cuchulain," says Ailill. "Let Lugaid
go to him," one and all answer. Then Lugaid goes to parley with him. "How
now do I stand with the host?" Cuchulain asks. "Disgraceful indeed is the
thing thou hast demanded of them," Lugaid answers, "even this, that thou
shouldst have thy women and maidens and half of thy kine. But more grievous
than all do they hold it that they themselves should be killed and thou

Every day there fell a man by Cuchulain till the end of a week. [2]Then[2]
faith is broken with Cuchulain. Twenty are despatched at one time to attack
him and he destroys them all. "Go to him, O Fergus," says Ailill, "that he
may vouchsafe us a change of place." A while after this they proceed to
Cronech. These are they that fell in single combat with him in that place,
to wit: the two Roth, the two Luan, two women-thieves, ten fools, ten
cup-bearers, the ten Fergus, the six Fedelm, the six Fiachu. Now these were
all killed by him in single combat.

    [2-2] Eg. 1782.

When their tents were pitched by them in Cronech they discussed what they
had best do with Cuchulain. "I know," quoth Medb, "what is best here. Let
some one go to him from us for a sword-pact from him in respect of the
host, and he shall have half the cattle that are here."  This message they
bring to him. "I will do it," said Cuchulain, "provided the bond is not
broken by you[1] [3]to-morrow.[3]"

    [1-1] LU. 1362-1379.

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 139]



[2]"Let a message be sent to him," said Ailill, "that Finnabair my daughter
will be bestowed on him, and for him to keep away from the hosts." Manè
Athramail ('Fatherlike') goes to him. But first he addresses himself to
Laeg.  "Whose man art thou?" spake Manè. Now Laeg made no answer. Thrice
Manè addressed him in this [3]same[3] wise. "Cuchulain's man," Laeg
answers, "and provoke me not, lest it happen I strike thy head off thee!"
"This man is mad," quoth Manè as he leaves him. Then he goes to accost
Cuchulain. It was there Cuchulain had doffed his tunic, and the [4]deep[4]
snow was around him where he sat, up to his belt, and the snow had melted a
cubit around him for the greatness of the heat of the hero. And Manè
addressed him three times in like manner, whose man he was?  "Conchobar's
man, and do not provoke me. For if thou provokest me any longer I will
strike thy head off thee as one strikes off the head of a blackbird!" "No
easy thing," quoth Manè, "to speak to these two." Thereupon Manè leaves
them and tells his tale to Ailill and Medb.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 71a, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. 1380-1414.

    [3-3] Eg. 1782.

    [4-4] Eg. 1782.

"Let Lugaid go to him," said Ailill, "and offer him the girl." Thereupon
Lugaid goes and repeats this to Cuchulain. "O master Lugaid," quoth
Cuchulain, "it is a snare!" "It is the word of a king; he hath said it,"
Lugaid answered; "there can be no snare in it." "So be it," said Cuchulain.
Forthwith Lugaid leaves him and takes that answer to Ailill and Medb. "Let
the fool go forth in my form," said Ailill, "and the king's crown on his
head, and let him stand some way off from Cuchulain lest he know him; and
let the girl go with him and let the fool promise her to him, and let them
depart quickly in this wise. And methinks ye will play a trick on him thus,
so that he will not stop you any further till he comes with the Ulstermen
to the battle."

Then the fool goes to him and the girl along with him, and from afar he
addresses Cuchulain. The Hound comes to meet him. It happened he knew by
the man's speech that he was a fool. A slingstone that was in his hand he
threw at him so that it entered his head and bore out his brains. He comes
up to the maiden, cuts off her two tresses and thrusts a stone through her
cloak and her tunic, and plants a standing-stone through the middle of the
fool. Their two pillar-stones are there, even the pillar-stone of Finnabair
and the pillar-stone of the fool.

Cuchulain left them in this plight. A party was sent out from Ailill and
Medb to search for their people, for it was long they thought they were
gone, when they saw them in this wise. This thing was noised abroad by all
the host in the camp. Thereafter there was no truce for them with

    [2-2] LU. 1380-1414.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 141]



[2]While the hosts were there in the evening they perceived that one stone
fell on them coming from the east and another from the west to meet it. The
stones met one another in the air and kept falling between Fergus' camp,
the camp of Ailill and the camp of Nera. This sport and play continued from
that hour till the same hour on the next day, and the hosts spent the time
sitting down, with their shields over their heads to protect them from the
blocks of stones, till the plain was full of the boulders, whence cometh
Mag Clochair ('the Stony Plain'). Now it happened it was Curoi macDarè did
this. He had come to bring help to his people and had taken his stand in
Cotal to fight against Munremar son of Gerrcend.[a] The latter had come
from Emain Macha to succour Cuchulain and had taken his stand on Ard ('the
Height') of Roch. Curoi knew there was not in the host a man to compete
with Munremar. These then it was who carried on this sport between them.
The army prayed them to cease. Whereupon Munremar and Curoi made peace, and
Curoi withdrew to his house and Munremar to Emain Macha and Munremar came
not again till the day of the battle. As for Curoi, he came not till the
combat of Ferdiad.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 71b, in the margin.

    [a] Here a sheet is missing in Eg. 1782.

    [2-2] LU. 1415-1486.

"Pray Cuchulain," said Medb and Ailill, "that he suffer us to change our
place." This then was granted to them and the change was made.

The 'Pains' of the Ulstermen left them then. When now they awoke from their
'Pains,' bands of them came continually upon the host to restrain it again.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 143]



Now the youths of Ulster discussed the matter among themselves in Emain
Macha. "Alas for us," said they, "that our friend Cuchulain has no one to
succour him!" "I would ask then," spake Fiachu Fulech ('the Bloody') son of
Ferfebè and own brother to Fiachu[b] Fialdana ('the Generous-daring') son
of Ferfebè, "shall I have a company from you to go to him with help?"

    [1-1] LU. fo. 71b, in the margin.

    [a] The LU. version of the episode is given under XVIIa, page 184.

    [b] Fiachna, in LU. 1436.

Thrice fifty youths accompany him with their play-clubs, and that was a
third of the boy-troop of Ulster. The army saw them drawing near them over
the plain. "A great army approaches us over the plain," spake Ailill Fergus
goes to espy them. "Some of the youths of Ulster are they," said he, "and
it is to succour Cuchulain they come." "Let a troop go to meet them," said
Ailill, "unknown to Cuchulain; for if they unite with him ye will never
overcome them." Thrice fifty warriors went out to meet them. They fell at
one another's hands, so that not one of them got off alive of the number of
the youths of Lia Toll. Hence is Lia ('the Stone') of Fiachu son of
Ferfebè, for it is there that he fell.

"Take counsel," quoth Ailill; "inquire of Cuchulain about letting you go
from hence, for ye will not go past him by force, now that his flame of
valour has risen." For it was usual with him, when his hero's flame arose
in him, that his feet would turn back on him and his buttocks, before him,
and the knobs of his calves would come on his shins, and one eye would be
in his head and the other one out of his head. A man's head would have gone
into his mouth. There was not a hair on him that was not as sharp as the
thorn of the haw, and a drop of blood was on each single hair. He would
recognize neither comrades nor friends. Alike he would strike them before
and behind.  Therefrom it was that the men of Connacht gave Cuchulain the
name Riastartha ('the Contorted One').

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 145]



"Let us ask for a sword-truce from Cuchulain," said Ailill and Medb. Lugaid
goes to him and Cuchulain accords the truce. "Put a man for me on the ford
to-morrow," said Cuchulain. There happened to be with Medb six royal
hirelings, to wit: six princes of the Clans of Deda, the three Dubs ('the
Blacks') of Imlech, and the three Dergs ('the Reds') of Sruthair, by
name. "Why should it not be for us," quoth they, "to go and attack
Cuchulain?" So the next day they went and Cuchulain put an end to the six
of them.[2]

    [1-1] LU. fo. 72b, in the margin.

    [2-2] See page 141, note 2.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 146]



[W.2076.] The men of Erin discussed among themselves who of them would be
fit to attack [2]and contend with[2] Cuchulain, [LL.fo.74a.] [3]and drive
him off from them on the ford at the morning-hour early on the morrow.[3]
And what they all said was that Cûr ('the Hero') son of Da Loth should be
the one to attack him. For thus it stood with Cûr: No joy was it to be his
bedfellow or to live with him. [4]He from whom he drew blood is dead ere
the ninth day.[4] And [5]the men of Erin[5] said: "Even should it be Cûr
that falls, a trouble [6]and care[6] would be removed from the hosts;
[7]for it is not easy to be with him in regard to sitting, eating or
sleeping.[7] Should it be Cuchulain, it would be so much the better." Cûr
was summoned to Medb's tent. "For what do they want me?" Cûr asked. "To
engage with Cuchulain," replied Medb, [8]"to do battle, and ward him off
from us on the ford at the morning hour early on the morrow."[8] [9]Cûr
deemed it not fitting to go and contend with a beardless boy.[9] "Little ye
rate our worth. Nay, but it is wonderful how ye regard it. Too tender is
the youth with whom ye compare me. Had I known [10]I was sent against
him[10] I would not have come myself. I would have lads [11]enough[11] of
[W.2086.] his age from amongst my people to go meet him on a ford."

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1488.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1491.

    [8-8] Eg. 93.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1491-1492.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1492-1493.

    [11-11] Stowe and LU. and YBL. 1493.

"Indeed, it is easy to talk so," quoth Cormac Conlongas son of
Conchobar. "It would be well worth while for thyself if by thee fell
Cuchulain." [1]"Howbeit," said Cûr, "since on myself it falls,[1] make ye
ready a journey [2]for me[2] at morn's early hour on the morrow, for a
pleasure I will make of the way [3]to this fight,[3] [4]a-going to meet
Cuchulain.[4] It is not this will detain you, namely the killing of yonder
wildling, Cuchulain!"

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1496-1497.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1499-1500.

[5]There they passed the night.[5] Then early on the morrow morn arose Cûr
macDa Loth [6]and he came to the ford of battle and combat; and however
early he arose, earlier still Cuchulain arose.[6] A cart-load of arms was
taken along with him wherewith to engage with Cuchulain, and he began to
ply his weapons, seeking to kill Cuchulain.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

Now Cuchulain had gone early that day [7]to practise[7] his feats [8]of
valour and prowess.[8] These are the names of them all: the Apple-feat, and
the Edge-feat, and the Level Shield-feat, and the Little Dart-feat, and the
Rope-feat, and the Body-feat, and the Feat of Catt, and the Hero's
Salmon-leap,[a] and the Pole-cast, and the Leap over a Blow (?), and the
Folding of a noble Chariot-fighter, and the Gae Bulga ('the Barbed
Spear') and the Vantage (?) of Swiftness, and the Wheel-feat, [9]and the
Rim-feat,[9] and the Over-Breath-feat, and the Breaking of a Sword, and the
Champion's Cry, and the Measured Stroke, and the Side Stroke, and the
Running up a Lance and standing erect on its Point, and the Binding of the
[10]noble[10] Hero (around spear points).

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1500.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [a] "The Salmon-leap--lying flat on his face and then springing up,
    horizontally, high in the air."--J.A. Synge, "The Aran Islands," page
    111, Dublin, 1907.

    [9-9] YBL. 1504.

    [10-10] LU. 1506.

[W.2121.] Now this is the reason Cuchulain was wont to practise early every
morning each of those feats [1]with the agility of a single hand, as best a
wild-cat may,[1] in order that they might not depart from him through
forgetfulness or lack of remembrance.

    [1-1] An obscure gloss in LL.

And macDa Loth waited beside his shield until the third part of the day,
[2]plying his weapons,[2] seeking the chance to kill Cuchulain; [3]and not
the stroke of a blow reached Cuchulain, because of the intensity of his
feats, nor was he aware that a warrior was thrusting at him.[3] It was then
Laeg[a] [4]looked at him[4] and spake to Cuchulain, "Hark! Cucuc. Attend to
the warrior that seeks to kill thee." Then it was that Cuchulain glanced at
him and then it was that he raised and threw the eight apples on high
[5]and cast the ninth apple[5] a throw's length from him at Cûr macDa Loth,
so that it struck on the disk of his shield [6]between the edge and the
body of the shield[6] and on the forehead [7]of the churl,[7] so that it
carried the size of an apple of his brains out through the back of his
head. Thus fell Cûr macDa Loth also at the hand of Cuchulain. [8]According
to another version[8] [9]it was in Imslige Glendamnach that Cûr fell.[9]

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1507.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1508-1509.

    [a] 'Fiachu,' LU. and YBL. 1510.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Following Windisch's emendation of the text.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1512.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1513.

    [8-8] LU. 1513.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1513-1514.

[10]Fergus greeted each one there and this is what he said:[10] "If your
engagements and pledges bind you now," said Fergus, "another warrior ye
must send to him yonder on the ford; else, do ye keep to your camp and your
quarters here till the bright hour of sunrise on the morrow, for Cûr son of
Da Loth is fallen." [11]"We will grant that," said Medb, "and we will not
pitch tents nor take quarters here now, but we will remain where we were
last night in camp.[11] [W.2136.] Considering why we have come, it is the
same to us even though we remain in those same tents."

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] Eg. 93.

[1]The four great provinces of Erin[1] remained in that camp till Cûr son
of Da Loth had fallen, and Loth son of Da Bro and Srub Darè son of Feradach
and [2]Morc[2] son of Tri Aigneach. These then fell in single combat with
Cuchulain. But it is tedious to recount one by one the cunning and valour
of each man of them.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 150]



[2]Then again the men of Erin took counsel who would be fit to fight and do
combat with Cuchulain and to ward him off from them on the ford at the
morning-hour early on the morrow. What they each and all said was, that it
would be his own friend and companion and the man who was his equal in arms
and feats, even Ferbaeth son of Ferbend.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 73a, in the margin.

Then was Ferbaeth son of Ferbend summoned to them, to the tent of Ailill
and Medb. "Wherefore do ye call me to you?" Ferbaeth asked. "In sooth, it
would please us," Medb answered, "for thee to do battle and contend with
Cuchulain, and to ward him off from us on the ford at the morning hour
early on the morrow."

Great rewards they promised to him for making the battle and combat.[2]
[3]Finnabair is given to him for this and the kingdom of his race, for he
was their choice to combat Cuchulain. He was the man they thought worthy of
him, for they both had learned the same service in arms with Scathach.[3]

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1529-1553.

[4]"I have no desire to act thus," Ferbaeth protested. "Cuchulain is my
foster-brother and of everlasting covenant with me. Yet will I go meet him
to-morrow, so shall I strike off his head!" "It will be thou that canst do
it," Medb made answer.[4]

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1538-1540.

[W.2143.] Then it was that Cuchulain said to his charioteer, namely to
Laeg: "Betake thee thither, O master Laeg," said Cuchulain, "to the camp of
the men of Erin, and bear a greeting [LL.fo.74b.] from me to my comrades
and foster-brothers and age-mates. Bear a greeting to Ferdiad son of Daman,
and to Ferdet son of Daman, and to Brass son of Ferb, and to Lugaid son of
Nos, and to Lugaid son of Solamach, to Ferbaeth son of Baetan, and to
Ferbaeth son of Ferbend, and a particular greeting withal to mine own
foster-brother, to Lugaid son of Nos, for that he is the one man that still
has friendliness and friendship with me now on the hosting. And bear him a
blessing. [1]Let it be asked diligently of him[1] that he may tell thee who
[2]of the men of Erin[2] will come to attack me on the morrow."

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1525.

    [2-2] Stowe.

Then Laeg went his way to the camp of the men of Erin and brought the
aforementioned greetings to the comrades and foster-brothers of Cuchulain.
And he also went into the tent of Lugaid son of Nos. Lugaid bade him
welcome. "I take [3]that welcome[3] to be truly meant," said Laeg. "'Tis
truly meant for thee," replied Lugaid.  "To converse with thee am I come
from Cuchulain," said Laeg, "and I bring these greetings truly and
earnestly from him to the end that thou tell me who comes to fight with
Cuchulain to-day." [4]"Truly not lucky is it for Cuchulain," said Lugaid,
"the strait wherein he is alone against the men of Erin.[4] The curse of
his fellowship and brotherhood and of his friendship and affection [5]and
of his arms[5] be upon that man; even his own real foster-brother himself,
[6]even the companion of us both,[6] Ferbaeth son of Ferbend. [7]He it is
that comes to meet him to-morrow.[7] He was invited into the tent of
[8]Ailill and[8] Medb a while [W.2165.] since. The daughter Finnabair was
set by his side. It is she who fills up the drinking-horns for him; it is
she who gives him a kiss with every drink that he takes; it is she who
serveth the food [1]to him.[1] Not for every one with Medb is the ale[a]
that is poured out for Ferbaeth [2]till he is drunk.[2] Only fifty
wagon-loads of it have been brought to the camp."

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1526-1527.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1528.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1527.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1528.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1532.

    [1-1] H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1535.

    [a] In LU. and YBL. it is wine.

Then with heavy head, sorrowful, downcast, heaving sighs, Laeg retraced his
steps to Cuchulain. "With heavy head, sorrowful, downcast and sighing, my
master Laeg comes to meet me," said Cuchulain. "It must be that one of my
brothers-in-arms comes to attack me." For he regarded as worse a man of the
same training in arms as himself than aught other warrior. "Hail now, O
Laeg my friend," cried Cuchulain; "who comes to attack me to-day?" "The
curse of his fellowship and brotherhood, of his friendship and affection be
upon him; even thine own real foster-brother himself, namely Ferbaeth son
of Ferbend. A while ago he was summoned into the tent of Medb. The maiden
was set by his side; It is she who fills up the drinking-horns for him; it
is she who gives him a kiss with every drink; it is she who serveth his
food. Not for every one with Medb is the ale that is poured out for
Ferbaeth. Only fifty wagon-loads of it have been brought to the camp."

[3]Cuchulain bade Laeg go to Lugaid, that he come to talk with him. Lugaid
came to Cuchulain. "So Ferbaeth comes to oppose me to-morrow," said
Cuchulain. "Aye, then," answered Lugaid.[3] [4]"Evil is this day," cried
Cuchulain. "I shall not be alive thereafter. Two of the same age are we,
two of equal deftness, two of equal weight, when we come together. O
Lugaid, greet him for me. Tell him, also, it is not the part of true valour
to come to oppose me. Tell him to come meet me to-night to speak with me."

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1541-1544.

Lugaid brought back this word to Ferbaeth. [W.2183.] Now inasmuch as
Ferbaeth shunned not the parley,[4] he by no means waited till morn but
he went straightway [1]to the glen[1] [2]that night[2] to recant his
friendship with Cuchulain, [3]and Fiachu son of Ferfebè went with him.[3]
And Cuchulain called to mind the friendship and fellowship and brotherhood
[5]that had been between them,[5] [6]and Scathach, the nurse of them
both;[6] and Ferbaeth would not consent to forego the fight.[a] [7]"I must
fight," said Ferbaeth.  "I have promised it [8]to Medb."[8] [9]"Friendship
with thee then is at an end,"[9] cried Cuchulain,[7] and in anger he
left him and drove the sole of his foot against a holly-spit [10]in the
glen,[10] so that it pierced through flesh and bone and skin [11]and came
out by his knee.[11] [12]Thereat Cuchulain became frantic, and he gave a
strong tug and[12] drew the spit out from its roots, [13]from sinew and
bone, from flesh and from skin.[13] [14]"Go not, Ferbaeth, till thou seest
the find I have made." "Throw it then," cried Ferbaeth.[14] And Cuchulain
threw the holly-spit over his shoulder after Ferbaeth, and he would as lief
that it reached him or that it reached him not. The spit struck Ferbaeth in
the nape of the neck,[b] so that it passed out through his [W.2192.] mouth
[1]in front[1] and fell to the ground, and thus Ferbaeth fell [2]backward
into the glen.[2]

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1544-1549.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93, LU. and YBL. 1549.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1550.

    [4-4] See page 152, note 4.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1551-1552.

    [a] Reading, with Windisch, from Stowe which gives a better meaning
    than LL.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1552-1553.

    [8-8] YBL. 1553.

    [9-9] Literally, 'Keep thy covenant, then!'

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1554.

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 1555.

    [12-12] Eg. 93.

    [13-13] Eg. 93.

    [14-14] LU. and YBL. 1556-1557.

    [b] See note, page 137.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1559.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1559-1560.

"Now that was a good throw, Cucuc!" cried [3]Fiachu son of Ferfebè,[3]
[4]who was on the mound between the two camps,[4] for he considered it a
good throw to kill that warrior with a spit of holly. Hence it is that
Focherd Murthemni ('the good Cast of Murthemne') is the name of the place
where they were.

    [3-3] "Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar." Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

[5]Straightway Ferbaeth died in the glen. Hence cometh Glenn
Ferbaeth. Something was heard. It was Fergus who sang:--

    "Fool's[a] emprise was thine, Ferbaeth,
    That did bring thee to thy grave.
    Ruin hath come on anger here;
    Thy last end in Croen Corann!

    Fithi was the hill's old name,
    In Croenech in Murthemne.
    'Ferbaeth' now shall be the name
    Of the plain where Ferbaeth fell!"[5]

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1563-1569.

    [a] With a play on the word Ferbaeth, 'a foolish man.'

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 155]



[2]Lugaid spake: "Let one of you be ready on the morrow to go against that
other." "There shall not any one at all be found to go," quoth Ailill,
"unless guile be used. Whatever man comes to you, give him wine, so that
his soul may be glad, and let him be told that that is all the wine that
has been brought to Cruachan: 'It would grieve us that thou shouldst drink
water in our camp.' And let Finnabair be placed on his right hand and let
him be told, 'She shall go with thee if thou bring us the head of the
Contorted.'"  So a summons was sent to each warrior, one on each night, and
those words used to be told him. Cuchulain killed every man of them in
turn. At length no one could be got to attack him.[2]

    [1-1] LU. fo. 73b, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1574-1584 and Eg. 1782. Here Eg. 1782 breaks off.

[W.2197.] [3]"Good,[3] my master Laeg," [4]said Cuchulain,[4] "go for me to
the camp of the men of Erin to hold converse with Lugaid [5]macNois,[5]
[6]my friend, my companion and my foster-brother,[6] [7]and bear him a
greeting from me and bear him my blessing, for he is the one man that keeps
amity and friendship with me on the great hosting of the Cattle-raid of
Cualnge.[7] And discover [8]in what way they are in the camp,[8] whether or
no anything has [W.2199.] happened to Ferbaeth,[a] [1]whether Ferbaeth has
reached the camp;[1] [2]and inquire for me if the cast I made a while ago
reached Ferbaeth or did not reach, and if it did reach him,[2] ask who
[3]of the men of Erin[3] comes to meet me [4]to fight and do battle with me
at the morning hour early[4] on the morrow."

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and Eg. 209.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and Eg. 209.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1572.

    [a] From here to p. 170 is lacking in LL. owing to the loss of a sheet.
    This is supplied from Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe. Eg. 209 and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

Laeg proceeds to Lugaid's tent. Lugaid bids him welcome. [5]"Welcome to thy
coming and arrival, O Laeg," said Lugaid.[5] "I take that welcome as truly
meant," Laeg replied. "It is truly meant for thee," quoth Lugaid, [6]"and
thou shalt have entertainment here to-night."[6] [7]"Victory and blessing
shalt thou have," said Laeg; "but not for entertainment am I come, but[7]
to hold converse with thee am I come from [8]thine own friend and companion
and[8] foster-brother, [9]from Cuchulain,[9] that thou mayest tell me
whether Ferbaeth [10]was smitten."[10] "He was," answered Lugaid, "and a
blessing on the hand that smote him, for he fell dead in the valley a while
ago." "Tell me who [11]of the men of Erin[11] comes to-morrow to [12]combat
and[12] fight with Cuchulain [13]at the morning hour early on the
morrow?"[13] "They are persuading a brother of mine own to go meet him, a
foolish, haughty arrogant youth, yet dealing stout blows and stubborn.
[14]And he has agreed to do the battle and combat.[14] And it is to this
end they will send him to fight Cuchulain, that he, my brother, may fall at
his hands, so that I myself must then go to avenge him upon Cuchulain. But
I will not go there till the very day of doom. Larinè great-grandson
[W.2211.] of Blathmac is that brother. [1]And, do thou tell Cuchulain to
come to Ferbaeth's Glen and[1] I will go [2]thither[2] to speak with
Cuchulain about him," said Lugaid.

    [5-5] H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] Eg. 93.

    [9-9] Eg. 209.

    [10-10] Following Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] Eg. 93.

    [12-12] Eg. 93.

    [13-13] Eg. 93.

    [14-14] Eg. 93.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

[3]Laeg betook him to where Cuchulain was.[3] Lugaid's two horses were
taken and his chariot was yoked to them [4]and[4] he came [5]to Glen
Ferbaeth[5] to his tryst with Cuchulain, so that a parley was had between
them. [6]The two champions and battle-warriors gave each other welcome.[6]
Then it was that Lugaid spake: [7]"There is no condition that could be
promised to me for fighting and combating with thee," said Lugaid, "and
there is no condition on which I would undertake it, but[7] they are
persuading a brother of mine to come fight thee [8]on the morrow,[8]
to-wit, a foolish, dull, uncouth youth, dealing stout blows. [9]They
brought him into the tent of Ailill and Medb and he has engaged to do
the battle and combat with thee.[9] [10]He is befooled about the same
maiden.[10] And it is for this reason they are to send him to fight thee,
that he may fall at thy hands, [11]so that we two may quarrel,[11] and to
see if I myself will come to avenge him upon thee. But I will not, till the
very day of doom. And by the fellowship that is between us, [12]and by the
rearing and nurture I bestowed on thee and thou didst bestow on me, bear me
no grudge because of Larinè.[12] Slay not my brother [13]lest thou shouldst
leave me brotherless."[13]

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1592 and Eg. 93.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1593 and Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] Eg. 209.

    [9-9] Eg. 93.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1595-1596.

    [11-11] LU. 1597.

    [12-12] H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

    [13-13] LU. and YBL. 1596-1597.

"By my conscience, truly," cried Cuchulain, [14]kill him I will not,
but[14] the next thing to death will I inflict on him. [15]No worse would
it be for him to die than what I [W.2222.] will give him."[15] "I give thee
leave. [1]It would please me well shouldst thou beat him sorely,[1] for to
my dishonour he comes to attack thee."

    [14-14] Eg. 93.

    [15-15] Eg. 209.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1597 and Eg. 93.

Thereupon Cuchulain went back and Lugaid returned to the camp [2]lest the
men of Erin should say it was betraying them or forsaking them he was if he
remained longer parleying with Cuchulain.[2]

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

Then [3]on the next day[3] it was that Larinè son of Nos, [4]brother of
Lugaid king of Munster,[4] was summoned to the tent of Ailill and Medb,
and Finnabair was placed by his side. It was she that filled up the
drinking-horns for him and gave him a kiss with each draught that he took
and served him his food. "Not to every one with Medb is given the drink
that is poured out for Ferbaeth or for Larinè," quoth Finnabair; "only the
load of fifty wagons of it was brought to the camp."[a]

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1598.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1585.

    [a] Emending the text to agree with the two similar passages above.

[5]Medb looked at the pair. "Yonder pair rejoiceth my heart," said she.[5]
"Whom wouldst thou say?" asked [6]Ailill.[6] "The man yonder, [7]in
truth,"[7] said she. "What of him?" asked Ailill. "It is thy wont to set
the mind on that which is far from the purpose (Medb answered). It were
more becoming for thee to bestow thy thought on the couple in whom are
united the greatest distinction and beauty to be found on any road in Erin,
namely Finnabair, [8]my daughter,[8] and Larinè macNois. [9]'Twould be
fitting to bring them together."[9] "I regard them as thou dost," answered
Ailill; [10]"I will not oppose thee herein. He shall have her if only he
brings me the head of Cuchulain."[a] "Aye, bring it I will," said
Larinè.[10] [W.2235.] It was then that Larinè shook and tossed himself with
joy, so that the sewings of the flock bed burst under him and the mead of
the camp was speckled with its feathers.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1586.

    [6-6] Corrected from LL., which has 'Medb.'

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1588.

    [a] Literally, 'of the Contorted.'

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 1588-1590.

[1]They passed the night there.[1] Larinè longed for day with its full
light [2]to go[2] to attack Cuchulain. At the early day-dawn on the morrow
he came, [3]and the maiden came too to embolden him,[3] and he brought a
wagon-load of arms with him, and he came on to the ford to encounter
Cuchulain. The mighty warriors of the camp and station considered it not a
goodly enough sight to view the combat of Larinè; only the women and boys
and girls, [4]thrice fifty of them,[4] went to scoff and to jeer at his

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 209.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 1599.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

Cuchulain went to meet him at the ford and he deemed it unbecoming to
bring along arms [5]or to ply weapons upon him,[5] so Cuchulain came
to the encounter unarmed [6]except for the weapons he wrested from his
opponent.[6] [7]And when Larinè reached the ford, Cuchulain saw him and
made a rush at him.[7] Cuchulain knocked all of Larinè's weapons out of his
hand as one might knock toys out of the hand of an infant. Cuchulain ground
and bruised him between his arms, he lashed him and clasped him, he
squeezed him and shook him, so that he spilled all the dirt out of him,
[8]so that the ford was defiled with his dung[8] [9]and the air was fouled
with his dust[9] and an [10]unclean, filthy[10] wrack of cloud arose in the
four airts wherein he was. Then from the middle of the ford Cuchulain
hurled Larinè far from him across through the camp [11]till he fell into
Lugaid's two hands[11] at the door of the tent of his brother. [W.2252.]
Howbeit [1]from that time forth[1] [2]for the remainder of his life[2] he
never got up without a [3]sigh and a[3] groan, and [4]he never lay down
without hurt, and he never stood up without a moan;[4] [5]as long as he
lived[5] he never ate [6]a meal[6] without plaint, and never thenceforward
was he free from weakness of the loins and oppression of the chest and
without cramps and the frequent need which obliged him to go out. Still he
is the only man that made escape, [7]yea though a bad escape,[7] after
combat with Cuchulain on the Cualnge Cattle-raid. Nevertheless that maiming
took effect upon him, so that it afterwards brought him his death. Such
then is the Combat of Larinè on the Táin Bó Cualnge.

    [5-5] Eg. 209.

    [6-6] Eg. 209.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1602.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1603.

    [10-10] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 1604.

    [1-1] Eg. 93, H. 2. 17 and Eg. 209.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 209.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1604.

    [6-6] Eg. 209.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1607.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 161]



[2]Then Cuchulain saw draw near him a young woman with a dress of every
colour about her and her appearance was most surpassing. "Who art thou?"
Cuchulain asked. "Daughter of Buan ('the Eternal'), the king," she
answered. "I am come to thee; I have loved thee for the high tales they
tell of thee and have brought my treasures and cattle with me." "Not good
is the time thou hast come. Is not our condition weakened through hunger?
Not easy then would it be for me to foregather with a woman the while I am
engaged in this struggle." "Herein I will come to thy help." "Not for the
love of a woman[a] did I take this in hand." "This then shall be thy lot,"
said she, "when I come against thee what time thou art contending with men:
In the shape of an eel I will come beneath thy feet in the ford; so shalt
thou fall." "More likely that, methinks, than daughter of a king! I will
seize thee," said he, "in the fork of my toes till thy ribs are broken, and
thou shalt remain in such sorry plight till there come my sentence of
blessing on thee." "In the shape of a grey she-wolf will I drive the cattle
on to the ford against thee." "I will cast a stone from my sling at thee,
so shall it smash thine eye in thy head" (said he), "and thou wilt so
remain maimed till my sentence of blessing come on thee." "I will attack
thee," said she, "in the shape of a hornless red heifer at the head of the
cattle, so that they will overwhelm thee on the waters and fords and pools
and thou wilt not see me before thee." "I will," replied he, "fling a stone
at thee that will break thy leg under thee, and thou wilt thus be lamed
till my sentence of blessing come on thee." Therewith she went from him.[2]

    [1-1] LU. fo. 74a, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1609-1629.

    [a] Literally, '_non causa podicis feminae_.' The MS. is partly erased

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 163]



[3]Then it was debated by the men of Erin who would be fitted to fight and
contend with Cuchulain and ward him off from them on the ford at the
morning-hour early on the morrow. What they all agreed was that it should
be Loch Mor ('the Great') son of Mofemis, the royal champion of Munster.[3]
[W.2260.] It was then that Loch Mor son of Mofemis was summoned [4]like the
rest[4] to the pavilion of Ailill and Medb, [5]and he was promised the
equal of Mag Murthemni of the smooth field of Mag Ai, and the accoutrement
of twelve men, and a chariot of the value of seven bondmaids.[5] "What
would ye of me?" asked Loch. "To have fight with Cuchulain," replied
Medb. "I will not go on that errand, for I esteem it no honour nor becoming
to attack a tender, young, smooth-chinned, beardless boy. [6]'Tis not
seemly to speak thus to me, and ask it not of me.[6] And not to belittle
him do I say it, but I have [7]a doughty brother, [8]the match of
himself,"[8] said Loch,[7] "a man to confront him, Long macEmonis, to wit,
and he will rejoice to accept an offer from you; [9]and it were fitting for
him to contend with Cuchulain for Long has no beard on cheek or lip any
more than Cuchulain."[9]

    [1-1] YBL. 1630.

    [2-2] LU. fo. 74b, between the columns.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1631.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1631-1633.

    [6-6] Eg. 209.

    [7-7] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] Eg. 93.

    [9-9] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

[W.2266.] [1]Thereupon[1] Long was summoned to the tent of Ailill and Medb,
and Medb promised him great gifts, even livery for twelve men of cloth of
every colour, and a chariot worth four[a] times seven bondmaids, and
Finnabair to wife for him alone, and at all times entertainment in
Cruachan, and that wine[b] would be poured out for him.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [a] 'Thrice.' Eg. 209.

    [b] 'Ale,' Eg. 209.

[2]They passed there that night and he engaged to do the battle and combat,
and early on the morrow[2] went Long [3]to the ford of battle and combat[3]
to seek Cuchulain, and Cuchulain slew him and [5]they brought him dead into
the presence of his brother, namely of Loch. And Loch [4]came forth and
raised up his loud, quick voice and[4] cried, had he known it was a bearded
man that slew him, he would slay him for it.[5] [6]And it was in the
presence of Medb that he said it.[6] [7]"Lead a battle-force against him,"
Medb cried to her host, "over the ford from the west, that ye may cross,
and let the law of fair fight be broken with Cuchulain." The seven Manè the
warriors went first, till they saw him to the west of the edge of the
ford. He wore his festive raiment on that day and the women clambered on
the men that they might behold him. "It grieves me," said Medb. "I cannot
see the boy because of whom they go there." "Thy mind would not be the
easier for that," quoth Lethrenn, Ailill's horseboy, "if thou shouldst see
him." Cuchulain came to the ford as he was. "What man is that yonder, O
Fergus?" asked Medb.[c] And Medb, too, climbed on the men to get a look
[W.2272.] at him.[7] [1]Then[1] Medb called upon [2]her handmaid for two
woman-bands,[2] [3]fifty or twice fifty[3] of her women, to go speak with
Cuchulain and to charge him to put a false beard on. The woman-troop went
their way to Cuchulain and told him to put a false beard on [4]if he wished
to engage in battle or combat with goodly warriors or with goodly youths of
the men of Erin;[4] [5]that sport was made of him in the camp for that he
had no beard, and that no good warrior would go meet him but only madmen.
It were easier to make a false beard:[5] "For no brave warrior in the camp
thinks it seemly to come fight with thee, and thou beardless," [6]said
they.[6] [7]"If that please me," said Cuchulain, "then I shall do it."[7]
Thereupon Cuchulain [8]took a handful of grass and speaking a spell over it
he[8] bedaubed himself a beard [9]in order to obtain combat with a man,
namely with Loch.[9] And he came onto the knoll overlooking the men of Erin
and made that beard manifest to them all, [10]so that every one thought it
was a real beard he had.[10] [11]"'Tis true," spake the women, "Cuchulain
has a beard. It is fitting for a warrior to fight with him." They said that
to urge on Loch.[11] Loch son of Mofemis saw it, and what he said was,
"Why, that is a beard on Cuchulain!" "It is what I perceive," Medb
answered. Medb promised the same great terms to Loch to put a check to
Cuchulain. [12]"I will not undertake the fight till the end of seven days
from this day," exclaimed Loch. "Not fitting is it for us to leave that man
unattacked for all that time," Medb answered. "Let us put a warrior every
night to spy upon him if, peradventure, we might get a chance at him." This
then they did. A warrior went every night to spy upon him and he slew them
all. These are the names of the men who fell there: the seven Conall, the
seven Oengus, the seven Uargus, the seven Celtri, the eight Fiach, the ten
Ailill, the ten Delbrath, the ten Tasach. These are the deeds of that week
on Ath Grenca.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1637-1639.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [7-7] LU. fo. 61, note 7, edition O'Keeffe and Strachan.

    [c] Fergus' answer, eight lines in _rosc_, LU. page 61, note 7, edition
    of Strachan and O'Keeffe (these lines are not in YBL.), has been
    omitted in the translation.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and Eg. 209.

    [2-2] Eg. 209.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 1640-1641.

    [6-6] Eg. 209.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] LU. 1643.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1642.]

    [10-10] LU. 1644.

    [11-11] LU. 1645-1647.

    [a] In Eg. 93, this is said by Medb.

Medb sought counsel, what was best to be done with Cuchulain, for she was
sore grieved at all of her host that had been slain by him. This is the
counsel she took: To despatch keen, high-spirited men at one time to attack
him when he would come to an appointment she would make to speak with
him. For she had a tryst the next day with Cuchulain, to conclude the
pretence of a truce with him in order to get a chance at him. She sent
forth messengers to seek him to advise him to come to her, and thus it was
that he should come, unarmed, for she herself would not come but with her
women attendants to converse with him.

The runner, namely Traigtren ('Strongfoot') [1]son of Traiglethan
('Broadfoot')[1] went to the place where Cuchulain was and gave him Medb's
message. Cuchulain promised that he would do her will. "How liketh it thee
to meet Medb to-morrow, O Cuchulain?" asked Laeg. "Even as Medb desires
it," answered Cuchulain. "Great are Medb's deeds," said the charioteer; "I
fear a hand behind the back with her." "How is it to be done [2]by us[2]
then?"  asked he. "Thy sword at thy waist," the charioteer answered, "that
thou be not taken off thy guard. For a warrior is not entitled to his
honour-price if he be taken without arms, and it is the coward's law that
falls to him in this manner." "Let it be so, then," said Cuchulain.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

Now it was on Ard ('the Height') of Aignech which is called Fochard to-day
that the meeting took place. Then fared Medb to the tryst and she stationed
fourteen men of those that were bravest of her bodyguard in ambush against
him. These were they: the two Glassinè, the two sons of Buccridi, the two
Ardan, the two sons of Liccè, the two Glasogma, the two sons of Crund,
Drucht and Delt and Dathen, Tea and Tascur and Tualang, Taur and Glesè.

Then Cuchulain comes to meet her. The men rise against him. Fourteen spears
are hurled at him at the same time. The Hound defends himself, so that
neither his skin nor protection (?) is touched and he turns in upon them
and kills them, the fourteen men. Hence these are the 'Fourteen men of
Fochard.' And they are also the 'Men of Cronech,' for it is in Cronech at
Fochard they were slain. And it is of this Cuchulain spake:--

    "Good my skill[a] in champion's deeds.
    Valorous are the strokes I deal
    On the brilliant phantom host.
    War with numerous bands I wage,
    For the fall of warlike chief--
    This, Medb's purpose and Ailill's--
    Direful (?) hatred hath been raised!"[b]

    [a] With a play on the name _Focherd_, as is explained in the following

    [b] Here follow six lines in _rosc_, LU. 1692-1697, edition of Strachan
    and O'Keeffe (the passage does not occur in YBL.), of uncertain
    meaning; they are omitted in the translation.

This is the reason why the name Focherd clung to that place, to wit: _Fo_
'Good' and _Cerd_ 'Art,' which signifieth 'Good the feat of arms' that
happened to Cuchulain there.

Then came Cuchulain and he overtook [1]the hosts[1] pitching camp, and
there were slain the two Daigri, the two Anli and the four Dungai of
Imlech. And there Medb began to urge on Loch: "Great is the scorn that is
made of thee," said she, "that the man that killed thy brother should be
destroying our host [2]here before thee[2] and thou not attack him. For
sure we are that such as he yonder, that great and fierce madman, will not
be able to withstand the valour and rage of a warrior such as thou
art. And, further, from one and the same instructress the art was acquired
by you both."[12]

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [12-12] LU. 1647-1708 and Eg. 93 (_Revue Celtique_, t. xv. 1894,
    pp. 64-66).

[W.2283.] "I will go forth and attack him," cried Loch. Loch went to attack
Cuchulain, [1]to take vengeance on him for his brother,[1] [2]for it was
shown him that Cuchulain had a beard;[2] so they met on the ford where Long
had fallen. "Let us move to the upper ford," said Loch, "for I will not
fight on this ford," since he held it defiled, [3]cursed and unclean,[3]
the ford whereon his brother had fallen. [4]Now when Cuchulain came to look
for the ford, the men drove the cattle across.[4] [5]"The cattle[5] [6]will
be across thy water here to-day," said Gabran[6] [7]the poet.[7] [8]Hence
cometh Ath Tarteise ('the Ford over thy Water') and Tir Mor Tarteise ('the
Great Land over thy Water').[8] Thereafter they fought on the upper ford
[9]between Methè and Cethè at the head of Tir Mor,[9] [10]and they were for
a long space and time at their feats wounding and striking each other.[10]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1709 and Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and LU. 1709.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] LU. and, partly, YBL. 1711.

    [5-5] YBL. 1711.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1711.

    [7-7] LU. 1712.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1712.

    [9-9] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] Eg. 93.

Then it was that the Morrigan daughter of [11]Aed[11] Ernmas came from the
fairy dwellings to destroy Cuchulain.  For she had threatened on the
Cattle-raid of Regomain [a] that she would come to undo Cuchulain what time
he would be [13]in sore distress[13] when engaged in [14]battle and[14]
combat with a goodly warrior, [15]with Loch,[15] in the course of the
Cattle-spoil of Cualnge. Thither then the Morrigan [W.2293.] came in the
shape of a white, [1]hornless,[1] red-eared heifer, with fifty heifers
about her and a chain of silvered bronze between each two of the heifers.
[2]She bursts upon the pools and fords at the head of the cattle. It was
then that Cuchulain said, "I cannot see the fords for the waters."[2] The
women [3]came with their strange sorcery, and[3] constrained Cuchulain by
geasa and by inviolable bonds [4]to check the heifer for them[4] lest she
should escape from him without harm. Cuchulain made an unerring cast
[5]from his sling-stick[5] at her, so that he shattered one of the
Morrigan's eyes.

    [11-11] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] See page 165, note 12.

    [a] Edited by Wh. Stokes and E. Windisch, in _Irische Texte_, Bd. II,
    SS. 241-254.

    [13-13] Eg. 93.

    [14-14] Eg. 93.

    [15-15] Eg. 209.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1722.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1722.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

[6]Now when the men met on the ford and began to fight and to struggle, and
when each of them was about to strike the other,[6] the Morrigan came
thither in the shape of a slippery, black eel down the stream. Then she
came on the linn and she coiled [7]three folds[7] [8]and twists[8] around
the [9]two[9] feet [10]and the thighs and forks[10] of Cuchulain, [11]till
he was lying on his back athwart the ford[11] [12]and his limbs in the

    [6-6] LU. 1713.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 1713.

    [8-8] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [10-10] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 1714.

    [12-12] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

While Cuchulain was busied freeing himself [13]and before he was able to
rise,[13] Loch wounded him crosswise through the breast, [14]so that the
spear[a] went through him[14] [15]and the ford was gore-red with his
blood.[15] [16]"Ill, indeed," cried Fergus, "is this deed in the face of
the foe. Let some of ye taunt him, ye men," he cried to his people, "to the
end that he fall not in vain!"

    [13-13] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [14-14] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [a] 'Sword,' LU. and YBL. 1734.

    [15-15] LU. 1714.

Bricriu Nemthenga ('Of the Venom-tongue') son of Carbad arose and began to
revile Cuchulain. "Thy strength has gone from thee," said he, "when a
little salmon overthrows thee even now when the Ulstermen are about to come
out of their 'Pains.'[16] [1]Hard it would be for thee to take on thee
warrior's deeds in the presence of the men of Erin and to repel a stout
warrior clad in his armour!"[1]

    [16-16] LU., edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe, p. 63, note 17.
    Similarly, YBL. 1714-1716, and Eg. 93.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 63, note 19, edit. Strachan and O'Keeffe, and Eg. 93.

[2]Then[2] [3]at this incitation[3] [4]Cuchulain arose,[4] [5]and with his
left heel he smote the eel on the head,[5] [6]so that its ribs broke within
it[6] [7]and he destroyed one half of its brains after smashing half of its
head.[7] [8]And the cattle were driven by force past the hosts to the east
and they even carried away the tents on their horns at the thunder-feat the
two warriors made on the ford.[8]

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1716.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1717.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1717.

    [7-7] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] LU. and YBL. 1718-1720.

[W.2302.] The Morrigan next came in the form of a rough, grey-red
bitch-wolf [9]with wide open jaws[9] [10]and she bit Cuchulain in the
arm[10] [11]and drove the cattle against him westwards,[11] [12]and
Cuchulain made a cast of his little javelin at her, strongly, vehemently,
so that it shattered one eye in her head.[12] During this space of time,
whether long or short, while Cuchulain was engaged in freeing himself, Loch
wounded him [13]through the loins.[13] Thereupon Cuchulain chanted a

    [9-9] Eg. 209.

    [10-10] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] LU. and YBL. 1721.

    [12-12] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17, and, similarly, LU. and YBL. 1721.

    [13-13] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [a] The three stanzas of this lay in YBL. (four in LU.) are found, with
    slight changes, in the lay on page 172fl.

[14]Then did Cuchulain to the Morrigan the three things he had threatened
her on the Cattle-raid of Regomain,[14] and his anger arose within him and
he [LL.fo.75a.] wounded Loch with the Gae Bulga ('the Barbed-spear'), so
that it passed through [W.2307.] his heart in his breast. [1]For truly it
must have been that Cuchulain could not suffer the treacherous blows and
the violence of Loch Mor the warrior, and he called for the Gae Bulgae from
Laeg son of Riangabair. And the charioteer sent the Gae Bulga down the
stream and Cuchulain made it ready. And when Loch heard that, he gave a
lunge down with his shield, so that he drove it over two-thirds deep into
the pebbles and sand and gravel of the ford. And then Cuchulain let go the
Barbed-spear upwards, so as to strike Loch over the border of his hauberk
and the rim of his shield.[1] [2]And it pierced his body's covering, for
Loch wore a horn skin when fighting with a man,[2] [3]so that his farther
side was pierced clear after his heart had been thrust through in his

    [14-14] LU. and YBL. 1732.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1735-1736.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

[4]"That is enough now," spake Loch; "I am smitten by that.[4] [5]For thine
honour's sake[5] [6]and on the truth of thy valour and skill in arms,[6]
grant me a boon now, O Cuchulain," said Loch. "What boon askest thou?"
"'Tis no boon of quarter nor a prayer of cowardice that I make of thee,"
said Loch. "But fall back a step from me [7]and permit me to rise,[7] that
it be on my face to the east I fall and not on my back to the west toward
the warriors of Erin, to the end that no man of them shall say, [8]if I
fall on my back,[8] it was in retreat or in flight I was before thee, for
fallen I have by the Gae Bulga!" "That will I do," answered Cuchulain, "for
'tis a [9]true[9] warrior's prayer that thou makest."

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [9-9] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

And Cuchulain stepped back, [10]so that Loch fell on his face, and his soul
parted from his body and Laeg despoiled him.[10] [11]Cuchulain cut off his
head then.[11] Hence cometh [W.2314.] the name the ford bears ever since,
namely Ath Traged ('Foot-ford') in Cenn Tire Moir ('Great Headland').
[1]It was then they broke their terms of fair fight that day with
Cuchulain, when five men went against him at one time, namely the two
Cruaid, the two Calad and Derothor. All alone, Cuchulain killed them. Hence
cometh Coicsius Focherda ('Fochard's Fortnight') and Coicer Oengoirt ('Five
Warriors in one Field'). Or it may be, fifteen days Cuchulain passed in
Fochard and it is hence cometh Coicsius Focherda on the Táin.[1]

    [10-10] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] LU. fo. 77a, in the margin.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 1739-1743.

And deep distress[a] possessed Cuchulain that day [2]more than any other
day[2] for his being all alone on the Táin, [3]confronting four of the five
grand provinces of Erin,[3] [4]and he sank into swoons and faints.[4]
Thereupon Cuchulain enjoined upon Laeg his charioteer to go to the men of
Ulster, that they should come to defend their drove. [5]And, on rising,
this is what he said:[5] [6]"Good, O Laeg, get thee to Emain to the
Ulstermen, and bid them come henceforward to look after their drove for I
can defend their fords no longer. For surely it is not fair fight nor equal
contest for any man for the Morrigan to oppose and overpower him and Loch
to wound and pierce him."[6] And weariness of heart and weakness overcame
him, and he gave utterance to a lay:--

    "Rise, O Laeg, arouse the hosts,
    Say for me in Emain strong:
    I am worn each day in fight,
    Full of wounds, and bathed in gore!

    "My right side and eke my left:
    Hard to say which suffers worse;
    Fingin's[b] hand hath touched them not,
    Stanching blood with strips of wood!

    [W.2329.] "Bring this word to Conchobar dear,
    I am weak, with wounded sides.
    Greatly has he changed in mien,
    Dechtire's fond, rich-trooped son!

    "I alone these cattle guard,
    Leave them not, yet hold them not.
    Ill my plight, no hope for me,
    Thus alone on many fords!

    "Showers of blood rain on my arms,
    Full of hateful wounds am I.
    No friend comes to help me here,
    Save my charioteer alone!

    "Few make music here for me,
    Joy I've none in single horn.
    When the mingled trumpets sound,[a]
    This is sweetest from the drone!

    "This old saying, ages old:--
    'Single log gives forth no flame;'
    Let there be a two or three,
    Up the firebrands all will blaze!

    "One sole log burns not so well
    As when one burns by its side.
    Guile can be employed on one;
    Single mill-stone doth not grind!

    "Hast not heard at every time,
    'One is duped'?--'tis true of me.
    That is why I cannot last
    These long battles of the hosts!

    "However small a host may be,
    It receives some thought and pains;
    Take but this: its daily meat
    On one fork is never cooked!

    "Thus alone I've faced the host,
    By the ford in broad Cantire;
    Many came, both Loch and Badb,
    As foretold in 'Regomain!'[b]

    "Loch has mangled my two thighs;
    Me the grey-red wolf hath bit;
    Loch my sides[c] has wounded sore,
    And the eel has dragged me down!

    "With my spear I kept her off;
    I put out the she-wolf's eye;
    [W.2371.] And I broke her lower leg,
    At the outset of the strife!

    "Then when Laeg sent Aifè's spear,[a]
    Down the stream--like swarm of bees--
    That sharp deadly spear I hurled,
    Loch, [1]Mobebuis'[1] son, fell there!

    "Will not Ulster battle give
    To Ailill and Eocho's lass,[b]
    While I linger here in pain,
    Full of wounds and bathed in blood?

    [LL.fo.75b.] "Tell the splendid Ulster chiefs
    They shall come to guard their drove.
    Maga's sons[c] have seized their kine
    And have portioned them all out!

    "Fight on fight--though much I vowed,
    I have kept my word in all.
    For pure honour's sake I fight;
    'Tis too much to fight alone!

    "Vultures joyful at the breach
    In Ailill's and in Medb's camp.
    Mournful cries of woe are heard;
    On Murthemne's plain is grief!

    "Conchobar comes not out with help;
    In the fight, no troops of his.
    Should one leave _him_ thus alone,
    Hard 'twould be his rage to tell!

    [1]"Men have almost worn me out
    In these single-handed fights;
    Warrior's deeds I cannot do,
    Now that I must fight alone!"[1]

    [a] Literally 'repentance.'

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [6-6] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [b] Physician to King Conchobar.

    [a] Following Windisch's emended reading of LL.

    [b] See above, page 168, note a.

    [c] Literally, 'liver.'

    [a] That is, the 'barbed' spear.

    [1-1] Reading with MS. Stowe.

    [b] That is, Medb.

    [c] That is, the followers of Ailill.]

    [1-1] LU. page 64, note 5, edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe.

[2]Although Cuchulain spoke thus, he had no strength for Laeg to leave

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

This then is the Combat of Loch Mor ('the Great') son of Mofemis against
Cuchulain on the Driving of the Kine of Cualnge.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 175]



[2]Then were five men sent against Cuchulain on the morrow to contend with
him and he killed them, so that they fell by his hand, and 'the Five
of Cenn Cursighi' was their name.[2] [W.2400.] Then it was that Medb
despatched six men at one and the same time to attack Cuchulain, to wit:
Traig ('Foot') and Dorn ('Fist') and Dernu ('Palm'), Col ('Sin') and
Accuis[a] ('Curse') and Eraisè ('Heresy'), three druid-men and three
druid-women, [3]their three wives.[3] Cuchulain attacked them, [4]the six
of them, and struck off their six heads,[4] so that they fell at his hands
[5]on this side of Ath Tire Moire ('Big Land's Ford') at Methè and

    [1-1] This heading is supplied by Windisch.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [a] LU. 1764, H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93 have for this, _Mebul_, 'Shame.'

    [3-3] LU. 1767.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. 1766-1767.

[6]Then it was that Fergus demanded of his sureties that fair-dealing
should not be broken with Cuchulain. And it was there that Cuchulain was at
that time,[6] [7]that is, at Delga Murthemni. Then Cuchulain killed Fota in
his field, Bomailcè on his ford, Salach in his homestead, Muinè in his
fort, Luar in Lethbera, Fertoithle in Toithle. These are the names of these
lands forever, every place in which each man of them fell.[7]

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1759-1760.

    [7-7] LU. 1761-1765.

Forasmuch as covenant and terms of single combat had been broken with
Cuchulain, Cuchulain took his sling in hand that day and began to shoot at
the host from Delga ('the Little Dart') in the south, [8]in Murthemne.[8]
Though [W.2406.] numerous were the men of Erin on that day, not one of them
durst turn his face southwards [1]towards Cuchulain, towards the side where
he was[1] [2]between Delga and the sea,[2] whether dog, or horse, or
man. [3]So that he slew an hundred warriors till came the bright hour of
sunrise on the morrow.[3]

    [8-8] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 1745.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 177]



[W.2410.] [2]Great weariness came over Cuchulain after that night, and a
great thirst, after his exhaustion.[2] Then it was that the Morrigan,
daughter of Emmas, came from the fairy dwellings, in the guise of an old
hag, [3]with wasted knees, long-legged,[3] [4]blind and lame,[4] engaged in
milking a [5]tawny,[5] three-teated [6]milch[6] cow before the eyes of
Cuchulain.[a] And for this reason she came in this fashion, that she might
have redress from Cuchulain. For none whom Cuchulain ever wounded recovered
therefrom without himself aided in the healing. Cuchulain, maddened with
thirst, begged her for a milking. She gave him a milking of one of the
teats [7]and straightway Cuchulain drank it.[7] "May this be a cure in time
for me, [8]old crone," quoth Cuchulain, "and the blessing of gods and of
non-gods upon thee!" said he;[8] and one of the queen's eyes became whole
thereby. He begged the milking of [9]another[9] teat. [10]She milked the
cow's second teat and[10] gave it to him and [11]he drank it and said,[11]
"May she straightway be sound that gave it." [12]Then her head was healed
so that it was whole.[12] He begged a third drink [W.2418.] [1]of the
hag.[1] [2]She milked the cow's third teat[2] and gave him the milking
of the teat [3]and he drank it.[3] "A blessing on thee of gods and of
non-gods, O woman! [4]Good is the help and succour thou gavest me."[4]
[5]And her leg was made whole thereby.[5] [6]Now these were their gods, the
mighty folk: and these were their non-gods, the folk of husbandry.[6] And
the queen was healed [7]forthwith.[7] [8]"Well, Cuchulain,[8] [9]thou
saidst to me," spake the Morrigan, "I should not get healing [10]nor
succour[10] from thee forever." "Had I known it was thou," Cuchulain made
answer, "I would never have healed thee." Or, it may be Drong Conculainn
('Cuchulain's Throng') on Tarthesc is the name of this tale in the Reaving
of the Kine of Cualnge.[9]

    [1-1] LU. fo. 77a, in the margin.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 1748.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [a] Reading _fiadnaisse_.

    [7-7] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] Eg. 93.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [12-12] LU. and YBL. 1753.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL 1755.

    [6-6] A gloss incorporated in the text of LL., LU., YBL., Stowe,
    H. 2. 17. and Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [8-8] Eg. 93.

    [9-9] LU. and YBL. 1755-1758.

    [10-10] Eg. 93.

[11]Then it was she alighted in the form of a royston crow on the bramble
that grows over Grelach Dolair ('the Stamping-ground of Dolar') in Mag
Murthemni. "Ominous is the appearance of a bird in this place above all,"
quoth Cuchulain. Hence cometh Sgè nah Einchi ('Crow's Bramble') as a name
of Murthemne.[11]

    [11-11] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Then Medb ordered out the hundred [12]armed[12] warriors [13]of her
body-guard[13] at one and the same time to assail Cuchulain. Cuchulain
attacked them all, so that they fell by his hand [14]at Ath Ceit Cuilè
('Ford of the First Crime').[14] "It is a dishonour for us that our people
are slaughtered in this wise," quoth Medb. "It is not the first destruction
that has befallen us from that same man," replied Ailill. Hence Cuilenn
Cind Duni ('The Destruction of the Head [W.2426.] of the Dûn') is
henceforth the name of the place where they were,[1] the mound whereon Medb
and Ailill tarried that night.[1] Hence Ath Cro ('Gory Ford') is the name
of the ford where they were, [2]and Glass Cro ('River of Gore') the name of
the stream.[2] And fittingly, too, because of the abundance of gore and
blood that went with the flow of the river.

    [12-12] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [13-13] LU. 1768.

    [14-14] LU. 1769.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17, and, similarly, LU. 1771.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 180]



[W.2431.] [1]That night[1] the warriors of four of the five grand provinces
of Erin pitched camp and made their station in the place called Breslech
Mor ('the Great Rout') in the Plain of Murthemne. Their portion of cattle
and spoils they sent on before them to the south to the cow-stalls of
Ulster. [LL.fo.76a.] Cuchulain took station at Ferta ('the Gravemound') at
Lerga ('the Slopes') hard by them. And his charioteer kindled him a fire on
the evening of that night, namely Laeg son of Riangabair. Cuchulain saw far
away in the distance the fiery glitter of the bright-golden arms over the
heads of four of the five grand provinces of Erin, in the setting of the
sun in the clouds of evening. Great anger and rage possessed him at their
sight, because of the multitude of his foes, because of the number of his
enemies [2]and opponents, and because of the few that were to avenge his
sores and his wounds upon them.[2]

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

[3]Then Cuchulain arose and[3] he grasped his two spears and his shield and
his sword. He shook his shield and brandished his spears and wielded his
sword and sent out the hero's shout from his throat, so that the fiends and
goblins and sprites of the glens and demons of the air gave answer for the
fearfulness of the shout [4]that he lifted on [W.2444.] high,[4] until
Nemain, [1]which is Badb,[1] brought confusion on the host. The warriors of
the four provinces of Erin made such a clangour of arms with the points of
their spears and their weapons that an hundred [2]strong, stout-sturdy[2]
warriors of them fell dead that night of fright and of heartbreak in the
middle of the camp and quarters [3]of the men of Erin at the awfulness of
the horror and the shout which Cuchulain lifted on high.[3]

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Translating from Stowe, H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

    [1-1] Stowe, and LL., in the margin.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

As Laeg stood there he descried something: A single man coming from the
north-eastern quarter athwart the camp of the four grand provinces of
Erin making directly for him. "A single man here cometh towards us now,
Cucucan," cried Laeg. "But what manner of man is he?" Cuchulain asked.
"Not hard to say," [4]Laeg made answer.[4] "A great, well-favoured man,
then. Broad, close-shorn hair upon him, and yellow and curly his back
hair. A green mantle wrapped around him. A brooch of white silver[a] in
the mantle over his breast. A kirtle of silk fit for a king, with red
interweaving of ruddy gold he wears trussed up on his fair skin and
reaching down to his knees. [5]A great one-edged sword in his hand.[5] A
black shield with hard rim of silvered bronze thereon. A five-barbed spear
in his hand. A pronged bye-spear beside it. Marvellous, in sooth, the feats
and the sport and the play that he makes. But him no one heeds, nor gives
he heed to any one. [6]No one shows him courtesy nor does he show courtesy
to any one,[6] like as if none saw him in the camp of the four grand
provinces of Erin." "In sooth, O fosterling," answered Cuchulain, "it is
one of my friends of fairy kin [7]that comes[7] to take pity upon me,
because they know the great distress wherein I am now all alone against the
four grand provinces of Erin on the Plunder of the Kine of [W.2463.]
Cualnge, [1]killing a man on the ford each day and fifty each night, for
the men of Erin grant me not fair fight nor the terms of single combat from
noon of each day."[1]

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [a] 'Of gold,' Eg. 93.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Now in this, Cuchulain spoke truth. When the young warrior was come up to
Cuchulain he bespoke him and condoled with him [2]for the greatness of his
toil and the length of time he had passed without sleep.[2] [3]"This is
brave of thee, O Cuchulain," quoth he. "It is not much, at all," replied
Cuchulain. "But I will bring thee help," said the young warrior. "Who then
art thou?" asked Cuchulain. "Thy father from Faery am I, even Lug son of
Ethliu." "Yea, heavy are the bloody wounds upon me; let thy healing be
speedy."[3] "Sleep then awhile, O Cuchulain," said the young warrior, "thy
heavy fit of sleep by Ferta in Lerga ('the Gravemound on the Slopes') till
the end of three days and three nights and I will oppose the hosts during
that time." [4]He examined each wound so that it became clean. Then he sang
him the 'men's low strain' till Cuchulain fell asleep withal. It was then
Lug recited[4] [5]the Spell-chant of Lug.[5]

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] LU. 1803-1807, and, similarly, Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] LU. 1810-1811.

    [5-5] LU. fo. 78a, in the margin; also in H. 2. 17. and Eg. 93.

Accordingly Cuchulain slept his heavy fit of sleep at 'the Gravemound on
the Slopes' till the end of three days and three nights. And well he might
sleep. Yet as great as was his sleep, even so great was his weariness.  For
from the Monday before Samain[a] ('Summer-end') even to the Wednesday after
Spring-beginning,[b] Cuchulain slept not for all that space, except for a
brief snatch after mid-day, leaning against his spear, and his head on his
[W.2475.] fist, and his fist clasping his spear, and his spear on his knee,
[LL.fo.76b.]  but hewing and cutting, slaying and destroying four of the
five grand provinces of Erin during that time.

    [a] Hallowtide, the first of November and the beginning of winter.

    [b] I.e. Candlemas. Stowe contains a Christian addition: 'to the feast
    of Brigit;' that is, the first of February.

Then it was that the warrior [1]from Faery[1] laid plants from the
fairy-rath and healing herbs and put a healing charm into the cuts and
stabs, into the sores and gaping wounds of Cuchulain, so that Cuchulain
recovered during his sleep without ever perceiving it.

    [1-1] LU. 1826.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 184]



[W.2482.] That was the time the youths came out of the north from Emain
Macha [1]to the help of Cuchulain.[1] Thrice fifty boys of the sons of the
kings of Ulster, accompanying Follomain, Conchobar's son, and three battles
they offered to the hosts, so that thrice their number fell and the youths
also fell, save Conchobar's son Follomain. Follomain vowed that never till
the very day of doom and of life would he return to Emain unless he should
bring Ailill's head with him together with the diadem of gold that was on
it. That was no easy thing for him to achieve, for the two sons of Bethè
son of Ban--the two sons of Ailill's foster-mother and foster-father [2]to
whom King Ailill's diadem had been entrusted[2]--attacked and wounded
[3]Follomain,[3] so that he fell by their hands. This then is the Massacre
of the youths of Ulster and of Follomain son of Conchobar.

    [a] The LU. version of this episode was given above under XIIe, page

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

Touching Cuchulain, he remained in his sound, heavy sleep till the end of
three days and three nights at the 'Gravemound on the Slopes.' Thereafter
Cuchulain arose from his sleep. He passed his hand over his face and he
became as a wild[b] wheel-thunder (?) from his crown to the ground, and he
felt his courage strengthened, and he would have [W.2497.] been able to
go into an assembly or on a march or to a tryst with a woman or to an
ale-house or into one of the chief assemblies of Erin. "How long am I
asleep now, young warrior?" Cuchulain asked. "Three days and three nights,"
the young warrior made answer. "Woe is me for that!" quoth Cuchulain. "Why
so?" asked the young warrior. "For that the hosts have not been attacked in
that time," answered Cuchulain. "Nay, not so were they spared," the young
warrior made answer. "I would fain inquire who then attacked them?"
Cuchulain asked. "The youths came hither out of the north from Emain Macha,
thrice fifty boys accompanying Follomain, Conchobar's son, and they the
sons of the kings of Ulster. And three battles they offered the hosts in
the space of the three days and three nights wherein thou wast till now
asleep, and thrice their number are fallen at their hands and the youths
themselves are fallen except Follomain [1]alone,[1] Conchobar's son. And
Follomain vowed that never till the very day of doom and of life [3]would
he return [2]north[2] to Emain Macha till he carried off Ailill's head with
the diadem of gold which was on it. Howbeit not such was his luck, for he
fell at the hands of the two sons of Bethè son of Ban, after engaging in
battle with them."[3]

    [b] Literally, 'crimson.'

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Stowe.

"Alas, that I was not [4]there[4] in my strength!"  cried Cuchulain; "for
had I been in my strength the youths would not have fallen, as now they
have, and Follomain would not have perished." "But this avow, O Cucan,"[a]
[5]said the young warrior;[5] "it is no reproach to thine honour and no
disgrace to thy valour."  "Bide here this night with us, young warrior,"
said Cuchulain, "that together we avenge the youths on the hosts." "Nay
then, I may not tarry," answered the [W.2515.] young warrior. [1]"Why so?"
asked Cuchulain. "Easy to say," replied the young warrior;[1] "for however
prodigious the deeds of valour and skill in arms one may perform in thy
company, not on him will fall the glory nor the honour nor the fame but on
thyself. For this reason will I not tarry with thee, but do thou thyself
try thy feats of arms [2]and the strength of thy hands[2] alone on the
hosts, for not with them is the power over thy life on this occasion."

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [a] A pet name for Cuchulain.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

[3]Then the young warrior from Faery went from him and they knew not what
way he had gone. "Good, O my master Laeg," said Cuchulain; "together we
will go to avenge the youths on the hosts." "I will go with thee," Laeg
made answer.[3] "And the scythed chariot, my friend Laeg," said Cuchulain.
"Canst thou get it ready? If thou canst get it ready and hast its
equipment, make it ready, and if its equipment is not at hand, make it not

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 187]



[W.2525.] Thereupon the charioteer arose and donned his yeoman's suit for
charioteering. Of this [LL.fo.77a.] yeoman's suit for charioteering, this
is what he put on him: His soft kirtle of skin which was light and airy,
which was smooth and sparkling, which was stitched and of buckskin, so that
it hindered not the movements of his arms outside. Over that he put outside
an over-mantle of raven's feathers, which Simon Magus had made [1]as a
gift[1] [2]for Darius[2] [3]Nero,[3] king of the Romans. Darius bestowed it
upon Conchobar; Conchobar gave it to Cuchulain; Cuchulain presented it to
[4]Laeg son of Riangabair,[4] his charioteer. The same charioteer took the
crested, plated, four-bordered battle-cap with variety of every colour
and every figure, reaching [5]down[5] over the middle of his shoulders
behind. It was an adornment for him and not an encumbrance. With his hand
he placed the red-yellow frontlet--like one red-golden strip of glowing
gold smelted over the edge of an anvil--on his forehead as a token of
charioteering, to distinguish him from his master. He opened the hobbles
that fastened his steeds and grasped his gold-mounted goad in his right
hand. In his left hand he seized the lines, that is, the bridle-reins of
his horses for restraining his steeds before performing his charioteering.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Stowe and LU. 1874.

    [3-3] H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93, instead of, 'Darius.'

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

[W.2542.] He next threw the iron-sheathed gold-bedecked coats of mail over
his horses, so that they covered them from forehead to forehand. [1]The
chariot was[1] [2]studded with[2] dartlets, lancelets, spearlets, and
hardened spits, so that every portion of the frame bristled with points in
that chariot and every corner and end and point and face of that chariot
was a passage of laceration.

    [1-1] There is a gap in the MS., and these words are supplied from the

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Then cast he a spell of concealment over his horses and over his fellow, so
that they were not visible to any one in the camp, while all in the camp
were visible to them, [3]and over this veil of protection he wounded each
one and through it and behind it.[3] Well indeed was it that he cast that
charm, for on that day the charioteer had to perform the three gifts of
charioteership, namely leaping over a cleft in the ranks, unerring driving,
and the handling of the goad.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Then [4]arose[4] the champion and battle-warrior and the instrument of
Badb's corpse-fold[a] among the men of the earth,[c] Cuchulain son of
Sualtaim, and he donned his war-dress of battle and fight and combat. To
that war-dress of battle and fight and combat which he put about him
belonged seven and twenty[b] waxed, board-like, equally close skin-tunics
which were girded by cords and swathings and ropes on his fair skin, to the
end that his wit and reason might not become deranged when the violence of
his nature came over him.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [a] That is, the piled up bodies of the slain.

    [c] 'Of Erin,' Eg. 93.

    [b] 'Eight and twenty,'. Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Over him he put on the outside his battle-girdle of a champion, of tough,
tanned, stout leather cut from the forequarters of seven ox-hides of
yearlings, so that it reached from the slender parts of his waist to the
stout part under [W.2562.] his arm-pits. He was used to wear it to keep off
spears and points and irons and lances and arrows. For in like manner they
would bound back from it as if from stone or rock or horn they rebounded.
Then he took his silken, glossy trews with their band of spotted pale-gold
against the soft lower parts of his loins. His brown, well-sewn kilt of
brown leather from the shoulders of four ox-hides of yearlings, with his
battle-girdle of cow-skins, he put underneath over the shining silken trews
on the outside, [1]so that it covered him from the slender part of his
waist to the thick part of his thighs and reached up to the battle-belt of
the hero.[1] Then the king-hero [LL.fo.77a.] [2]and king-warrior[2] seized
his battle-arms of battle and fight and combat. This is what belonged to
those warlike weapons of battle: He took his eight little swords together
with the bright-faced, tusk-hilted straightsword [3]along with his
quiver;[3] he took his eight little spears besides his five-pronged
spear; he took his eight little darts together with his javelin with its
walrus-tooth ornaments; he took his eight little shafts along with his
play-staff; he took his eight shields for feats together with his dark-red
bent-shield, whereon a show-boar could lie in its hollow boss, with its
very sharp, razor-like, keen-cutting, hard [4]iron[4] rim all around it, so
that it would cut a hair against the stream because of its sharpness and
fineness and keenness. When the young warrior would perform the edge-feat
withal, it was the same whether he cut with his shield or his spear or his
sword. Next he put round his head his crested war-helm of battle and fight
and combat, [5]wherein were four carbuncle-gems on each point and each end
to adorn it,[5] whereout was uttered the cry of an hundred young warriors
with the long-drawn wail from each of its angles and corners. [W.2583.]
For this was the way that the fiends, the goblins and the sprites of the
glens and the demons of the air screamed before and above and around him,
what time he went forth for the shedding of blood of heroes and champions,
[1]exulting in the mighty deeds wrought underneath it[1]. His veil of
concealment was thrown over him then, of raiment from Tir Tairngirè ('the
Land of Promise') which had been brought to him [2]as a gift[2] by Manannan
son of Ler ('the Sea') from the king of Tir na Sorcha ('the Land of
Light'), [3]his foster-father in magic[3]. [4]His fair, purple-red fan was
placed in front of his face. Past it and through it and over it everything
was visible to him and no one wounded him past it nor through it nor over

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. 1914.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] Stowe and LU. 1927.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

Then took place the first twisting-fit [5]and rage[5] of [6]the royal
hero[6] Cuchulain, so that he made a terrible, many-shaped, wonderful,
unheard of thing of himself.  His flesh trembled about him like a pole
against the torrent or like a bulrush against the stream, every member and
every joint and every point and every knuckle of him from crown to ground.
He made a mad whirling-feat of his body within his hide. His feet and his
shins and his knees slid so that they came behind him. His heels and his
calves and his hams shifted so that they passed to the front. The muscles
of his calves moved so that they came to the front of his shins, so that
each huge knot was the size of a soldier's balled fist. He stretched the
sinews of his head so that they stood out on the nape of his neck, and as
large as the head of a month-old child was each of the hill-like lumps,
huge, incalculable, vast, immeasurable.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

He next made a ruddy bowl of his face and his countenance. He gulped down
one eye into his head so that it [W.2603.] would be hard work if a wild
crane succeeded in drawing it out on to the middle of his cheek from the
rear of his skull. Its mate sprang forth till it came out on his cheek,
[1]so that it was the size of a five-fist kettle, and he made a red berry
thereof out in front of his head.[1] His mouth was distorted monstrously
[2]and twisted up to his ears[2]. He drew the cheek from the jaw-bone so
that the interior of his throat was to be seen. His lungs and his lights
stood out so that they fluttered in his mouth and his gullet. He struck a
mad lion's blow with the upper jaw [3]on its fellow[3] so that as large as
a wether's fleece of a three year old was each [4]red,[4] fiery flake
[5]which his teeth forced[5] into his mouth from his gullet. There was
heard the loud clap of his heart against his breast like the yelp of a
howling bloodhound or like a lion going among bears. [LL.fo.78a.] There
were seen the [a]torches of the Badb,[a] and the rain clouds of poison, and
the sparks of glowing-red fire, [6]blazing and flashing[6] in hazes and
mists over his head with the seething of the truly-wild wrath that rose up
above him. His hair bristled all over his head like branches of a redthorn
thrust into a gap in a great hedge. Had a king's apple-tree laden with
royal fruit been shaken around him, scarce an apple of them all would have
passed over him to the ground, but rather would an apple have stayed stuck
on each single hair there, for the twisting of the anger which met it as it
rose from his hair above him. The Lon Laith ('Champion's Light') stood out
of his forehead, so that it was as long and as thick as a warrior's
whetstone, [7]so that it was as long as his nose, till he got furious
handling the shields, thrusting out the charioteer, destroying the
hosts.[7] As high, as thick, as strong, as steady, as long as the sail-tree
of some huge [W.2623.] prime ship was the straight spout of dark blood
which arose right on high from the very ridgepole of his crown, so that a
black fog of witchery was made thereof like to the smoke from a king's
hostel what time the king comes to be ministered to at nightfall of a
winter's day.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Reading with Stowe.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] Reading with Eg. 93.

    [a-a] A kenning for 'swords.'

    [6-6] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] LU. 1958-1959.

When now this contortion had been completed in Cuchulain, then it was that
the hero of valour sprang into his scythed war-chariot, with its iron
sickles, its thin blades, its hooks and its hard spikes, with its hero's
fore-prongs, with its opening fixtures, with its stinging nails that were
fastened to the poles and thongs and bows and lines of the chariot,
[1]lacerating heads and bones and bodies, legs and necks and shoulders.[1]

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

It was then he delivered [2]over his chariot[2] the thunder-feat of a
hundred and the thunder-feat of two hundred and the thunder-feat of three
hundred and the thunder-feat of four hundred, and he ceased at the
thunder-feat of five hundred. For he did not deem it too much that such
a great number should fall by his hand at his first onset and first
battle-assault on four of the five grand provinces of Erin, [3]while
avenging on them the slaughter of the youths and of Follomain son of
Conchobar,[3] In such wise fared he forth for to seek his foes, and he
drove his chariot in a wide circuit round about the hosts of the four grand
provinces of Erin. And he led his chariot a heavy way. The chariot's iron
wheels sank into the ground so that [4]the earth dug up by the iron
wheels[4] might have served for a dûn and a fortress, so did the chariot's
iron wheels cut into the ground. For in like manner the clods and boulders
and rocks and the clumps and the shingle of the earth arose up outside on a
height with the iron wheels. It was for this cause he made this circling
[5]hedge[5] of the Badb [W.2646.] round about the hosts of four of the five
grand provinces of Erin, that they might not escape him nor get away before
he would come on them to press a reprisal for the boys. And he went into
the midst of the ranks and mowed down huge walls of the corpses of his foes
[1]and enemies and opponents[1] in a great circle round about the host. And
he made the onslaught of a foe amongst foes upon them, so that they fell
sole to sole, neck to neck, [2]arm to arm, elbow to elbow, and rib to rib,
[3]such was the closeness of their bodies,[3] and there were pools of ruddy
blood where they moved.[2] Thrice again in this manner he circled them
round, so that he left them in beds of six in a great ring around them,
even the soles of three to the backs of three men in a circle around the
camp. Hence Sessrech Bresligè ('Great sixfold Slaughter')[a] is the name of
this event on the Táin, and it is one of the three unreckonable events of
the Táin, which were, to wit, Sessrech Bresligè, Immsligè Glennamnach ('the
Mutual Slaying at Glennamain'), and the battle of Garech [LL.fo.78b.] and
Ilgarech; only that here, hound and horse and man were one to him [4]in the
great rout on Mag Murthemni that night avenging the youths on four of the
five grand provinces of Erin.[4]

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [3-3] LU. 1996.

    [a] Or, 'Ploughland of the Great Slaughter.'

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

What others say is that Lug son of Ethliu fought on Cuchulain's side at the
Sessrech Bresligè.

Their number is not known and it cannot be reckoned how many fell there of
the rabble rout, but only their chiefs have been counted. Here below are
their names, to wit:--

The two Cruad, two Calad, two Cir, two Ciar, two Ecell, three Cromm, three
Cur, three Combirgè, four Feochar, four Furachar, four Cassè, four Fota,
five Caur, five Cerman, [W.2679.] five Cobtach, six Saxan, six Duach, six
Darè, [1]six Dunchadh, six Daimiach,[1] seven Rochad, seven Ronan, seven
Rurthech, eight Rochlad, eight Rochtad, eight Rindach, [2]eight Corprè,[2]
eight Malach, nine Daigith, nine Darè, nine Damach, ten Fiach, ten Fiacach,
ten Fedlimid.

    [1-1] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 2010.

Ten and six-score[b] kings, [3]leaders and men of the land,[3] Cuchulain
laid low in the great slaughter on the Plain of Murthemne, besides a
countless horde of dogs and horses and women and boys and children and
common folk; for there escaped not a third man of the men of Erin
[4]without a wound or a hurt or a blueing or a reddening or a lump or a
mark or breaking of thigh or of leg or of shinbone,[4] without having
hip-bone broken or half his skull or an eye hurt, or without an enduring
mark for the course of his life. [5]And he left them then after inflicting
that battle upon them, without having his blood drawn or wound brought on
himself or on his charioteer or on either of his horses.[5]

    [b] 'Nineteen and nine-score,' H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [5-5] LU., edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe, page 72, note 19.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 195]



[W.2706.] [2]Early[2] the next morning Cuchulain came to observe the host
and to display his comely, beautiful form to the matrons and dames and
girls and maidens and poets and men of art,[a] for he did not consider it
an honour nor becoming, the [3]wild,[3] proud shape of magic which had been
manifested to them the night before. It was for that then that he came to
exhibit his comely, beautiful form on that day.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 81a, in the margin.

    [2-2] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [a] A general term for poets, singers, seers and druids.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Truly fair was the youth that came there to display his form to the hosts,
Cuchulain, to wit son of Sualtaim [4]son of Boefoltach ('Of little
possessions') son of Morfoltach ('Of great possessions') son of Red Neil
macRudhraidi.[4] Three heads of hair he wore; brown at the skin, blood-red
in the middle, a golden-yellow crown what thatched it. Beautiful was the
arrangement of the hair, with three coils of hair wound round the nape of
his neck, so that like to a strand of thread of gold was each thread-like,
loose-flowing, deep-golden, magnificent, long-tressed, splendid,
beauteous-hued hair as it fell down over his shoulders. A hundred
bright-purple windings of gold-flaming red gold at his neck. A hundred
salmon-coloured (?) cords strung with carbuncles as a covering round his
head. Four spots on either of his two cheeks, even a yellow spot, and a
green spot, and a blue spot, [W.2722.] and a purple spot. Seven jewels of
the eye's brilliance was either of his kingly eyes. Seven toes to either of
his two feet. Seven fingers to either of his two hands, with the clutch of
hawk's claw, with the grip of hedgehog's talon in every separate one of

    [4-4] H. 2. 17.

He also put on him that day his fair-day dress. To this apparel about him
belonged, namely, a beautiful, well-fitting, purple, fringed, five-folded
mantle. A white brooch of [1]silvered bronze or of[1] white silver
incrusted with burnished gold over his fair white breast, as if it were a
full-fulgent lantern that eyes of men could not behold [LL.fo.79a.] for its
resplendence and crystal shining. A [2]striped[2] chest-jacket of silk on
his skin, fairly adorned with borders and braidings and trimmings of gold
and silver and silvered bronze; it reached to the upper hem of his dark,
brown-red warlike breeches of royal silk. A magnificent, brown-purple
buckler he bore, [3]with five wheels of gold on it,[3] with a rim of pure
white silver around it. A gold-hilted hammered sword [4]with ivory guards,
raised high at his girdle[4] at his left side. A long grey-edged spear
together with a trenchant bye-spear for defence, with thongs for throwing
and with rivets of whitened bronze, alongside him in the chariot. Nine
heads he bore in one of his hands and ten in the other, and these he
brandished before the hosts in token of his prowess and cunning. [5]This
then was a night's attack for Cuchulain on the hosts of four of the five
provinces of Erin.[5] Medb hid her face beneath a shelter of shields lest
Cuchulain should cast at her that day.

    [1-1] YBL. 2040.

    [2-2] YBL. 2043.

    [3-3] LU. and YBL. 2045.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 2046.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 2050.

Then it was that the maidens [6]of Connacht[6] besought the men of Erin to
lift them up on the flat of the shields above the warriors' shoulders;
[7]and the women [8]of Munster[8] clomb on the men[7] to behold the aspect
of [W.2746.] Cuchulain. For they marvelled at the beautiful, comely
appearance he showed them that day compared with the low, arrogant shape of
magic in which they had seen him the night before.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 1205.

    [7-7] LU. and YBL. 2052.

    [8-8] YBL, added later above the line.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 198]



[W.2749.] [1]And Dubthach's wife prayed to be lifted to regard the form of
Cuchulain.[1] Then it was that jealousy, ill-will and envy possessed
Dubthach Doel ('the Black-tongue')[b] of Ulster because of his wife [2]in
regard to Cuchulain; for he saw his wife climb on the men to get a glimpse
of Cuchulain;[2] and he counselled the hosts to act treacherously towards
Cuchulain and to entrap him, even to lay up an ambush around him on all
sides to the end that he might fall by them. And he spake these words:--

    "If this be the Twisted one,
    By him shall men's bodies fall;
    Shrieks there shall be round the liss;
    Deeds to tell of shall be wrought!

    "Stones shall be on graves from him;
    Kingly martyrs shall increase.
    Not well have ye battle found
    On the slopes with this wild Hound!

    [3]"If this be the Twisted one,
    Men shall soon be slain by him;
    'Neath his feet shall corpses lie;
    Under bushes mantles white![3]

    "Now the Wildman's form I see,
    Nine[c] heads dangling by his side;
    Shattered spoils he has, behold;
    Ten[d] heads as his treasure great!

    [W.2766.] "And your women, too, I see,
    Raise their heads above the lines;
    I behold your puissant queen
    Makes no move t'engage in fight!

    "Were it mine to give advice,
    Men would be on every side,
    That they soon might end his life;
    If this be the Twisted one!"

    [a] This superscription is not found in the MSS.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [b] Literally, 'the Chafer (or Scorpion?).'

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [c] 'Eight,' LU. and YBL. 2060.

    [d] 'Nine,' LU. and YBL. 2061, H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

Fergus macRoig heard this and he deemed it an outrage that Dubthach should
counsel how to betray Cuchulain to the hosts. And he reached him a strong,
sharp kick with his foot away from him, so that Dubthach struck with his
mouth against the group outside. And Fergus reproached him for all the
wrongs and iniquities and treachery and shameful deeds he had ever done to
the Ulstermen of old and anew.  And then he spake these words:--

    "If this 'Black-tongue' Dubthach be,
    Let him skulk behind the hosts;
    No good hath he ever wrought,
    Since he slew the princesses![a]

    "Base and foul, the deed he wrought:
    Fiachu, Conchobar's son, he slew.
    No more fair was heard of him:
    Carbrè's death, Fedilmid's son!

    "Ne'er for Ulster's weal doth aim
    Lugaid's son, Casruba's scion;[b]
    Such is how he acts to men:
    Whom he stabs not he incites!

    "Ulster's exiles it would grieve
    If their beardless boy[c] should fall.
    If on you come Ulster's troops
    They will make your herds their spoil!

    "Strewn afar your herds will be
    By the rising Ulstermen.
    Tales there'll be of mighty deeds
    That will tell of far-famed queens!

    [W.2800.] [1]"Corpses will be under foot,[1]
    [2]Food there'll be at ravens' rests;[2]
    Bucklers lying on the slopes;
    Wild and furious deeds increase!

    [3]"I behold just now your wives
    Raise their heads above the ranks.
    I behold your puissant queen
    Moves not to engage in war![3]

    [LL.fo.79b.] "Valour none nor generous deed
    Comes from Lugaid's craven son;
    Nor will kings see lances red,
    If this 'Black-tongue' Dubthach be!"

    [a] The reference is to the maidens of Emain Macha slain by Dubthach in
    punishment for the death of the sons of Usnech.

    [b] That is, Dubthach.

    [c] That is, Cuchulain.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 2077.

    [2-2] Reading: _Betit buind fri brannfossaib_.

    [3-3] This quatrain is almost identical with the one translated on page

Thus far 'The Scythed Chariot.'[a]

    [a] A very obscure and fragmentary passage in LU. and YBL. (lines
    2083-2106, edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe, lacking in Eg. 93, _Revue
    Celtique_, tome xv, page 204), consisting of a series of short strains
    in _rosc_ spoken in turn by Ailill, Medb, Gabran the poet, and Fergus,
    is omitted in the translation.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 201]



[W.2814.] Then it was that a very bold young warrior of the Ulstermen came
nigh the hosts; his bye-name was Oengus son of Oenlam Gabè ('the One-handed
Smith'). And he drove the hosts before him from Moda Loga, which at that
time was called Lugmud, to Ath da Fert ('the Ford of the Two Gravemounds')
in Sliab Fuait. [2]And he suffered them not to go by, but he showered them
with stones.[2] What scholars say is: If Oengus son of Oenlam Gabè had
fought them in single combat, [3]two-thirds of[3] the host would have
fallen before that by him in single battle [4]at Emain Macha.[4] Howbeit it
was by no means so that they acted, but they attacked him from ambush on
every side, till he fell at their hands [5]in unequal fight[5] at Ath da
Fert in Sliab Fuait.

    [1-1] LU. fo. 82a, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 2135-2136.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] LU. and YBL. 2137.

    [5-5] LU. and YBL. 2139.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 202]



[W.2823.] Then came to them Fiacha Fialdana ('the Generous and Intrepid')
of the Ulstermen to speak with the son of his mother's sister, namely
with Manè Andoè ('the Unslow') of the Connachtmen. And thus he came, and
Dubthach Doel ('the Black Tongue') of Ulster with him. It was in this wise
that Manè Andoè came, and Dochè son of Maga along with him. When now Dochè
macMagach espied Fiacha Fialdana, he straightway hurled a spear at him, but
so that it went through his own friend, through Dubthach Doel of Ulster.
Then Fiacha Fialdana hurled a spear at Dochè macMagach, so that it went
through his own friend, through Manè Andoè of Connacht. Thereupon said the
men of Erin: "A mishap in throwing," they said, "is what hath happened to
the men, for each of them to kill his friend and nearest relation." Hence
this is entitled Imroll Belaig Eoin ('the Misthrow at Bird-pass'). And 'the
Other Misthrow at Bird-pass' is another name for it.

[1]Or it may be this from which cometh Imroll Belaig Eoin: The hosts
proceed to Belach Eoin ('Bird-pass').  Their two troops wait there.
Diarmait macConchobar of the Ulstermen comes from the north. "Let a
horseman start from you," cries Diarmait, "that Manè may come with one man
to parley with me, and I will go with another man to parley with him." A
while thereafter they meet "I am come," says Diarmait, "from Conchobar,
with commands to Ailill and Medb that they let the cows go and make good
all the ill they have done here and bring hither the bull[a] from the west
to meet the other bull,[b] to the end that they may encounter, since Medb
has pledged it." "I will go," says Manè, "to tell them." He takes this
message to Medb and Ailill. "This cannot be had of Medb," Manè reported.
"Let us make a fair exchange of arms, then," says Diarmait, "if perchance
that pleaseth thee better." "I am content," replies Manè. Each of them
casts his spear at the other so that both of them die, and hence the name
of this place is Imroll Belaig Eoin. Their forces rush upon one another.
Three-score of each force fall. Hence is Ard in Dirma ('the Height of the

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 2114-2128.

    [a] The 'White-horned.'

    [b] The 'Brown of Cualnge.'

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 204]



[W.2837.] Then said the men of Erin to Tamon the fool that he should don
the garments of Ailill and the king's golden shawl, and go to the ford that
was close before them. So he put the garments and golden shawl of Ailill
upon him. [1]Ailill's people placed the king's diadem on the head of Tamon
the fool, for Ailill dared not wear it himself,[1] and he went on to the
ford under their eyes. The men of Erin began to scoff and to shout and jeer
at him. "It is a disguising of Tamon ('a Stump') for thee, O Tamon the
fool," they cried, "with the dress and the golden shawl of Ailill upon
thee!" When Cuchulain saw him, it seemed to him in his ignorance and lack
of knowledge that it was Ailill himself that was there. And he slung a
stone from his staff-sling at him so that [2]his head was broken thereby[2]
and Tamon the fool was smitten lifeless where he was on the ford. Hence Ath
Tamuin ('the Ford of a Stump') [3]is the name of that ford ever since[3]
and 'the Disguising of Tamon' [4]is the name of the tale.[4]

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 2129.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 2131.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 205]



[W.2851.] The hosts of the four grand provinces of Erin pitched camp and
entrenched themselves for that night at the pillar-stone in Crich Roiss
('the Borders of Ross'). Then Medb called upon the men of Erin for one of
them to contend and do battle with Cuchulain on the morrow. And every one
of them spake thus: "It shall not be I! it shall not be I!" [2]cried each
from his place.[2] "No victim is owing from my people, [3]and even if one
were it would not be myself whom ye would send as a victim in his stead.[3]
[4]I will not be the man to go in his place to fight with Cuchulain till
the very day of doom and of life!"[4]

    [1-1] LU. fo. 82b, in the margin.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 2141.

    [3-3] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17., LU. and YBL. 2142-2143.

    [4-4] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

Thereupon Medb summoned Fergus to [5]go forth and[5] contend and fight with
Cuchulain, [6]to drive him off from them on the ford[6] [7]at the early
morning-hour[7] [8]on the morrow,[8] for that the men of Erin had failed
her [9]to go and do battle with him.[9] "Ill would it befit me," quoth
Fergus, "to fight with a callow young lad without any beard, and mine own
disciple, [10]the fosterling of Ulster,[10] [11]the foster-child that sat
on Conchobar's knee, the lad from Craeb Ruad ('Red Branch')."[11] Howbeit
Medb [W.2861.] murmured sore that Fergus foreswore her combat and battle.
[1]They filled him with wine till he was heavily drunken and then they
questioned him about going to the combat.[1] They bode the night in that
place. Early on the morrow Fergus arose, [2]since they importuned him
urgently,[2] [3]and his horses were got ready for him and his chariot
harnessed[3] and he fared forth to the place of combat where Cuchulain was.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 2. 17.

    [6-6] Eg. 93 and H. 2. 17.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] H. 2. 17 and Eg. 93.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] H. 2. 17.

    [11-11] Eg. 93.

    [1-1] LU. and YBL. 2145-2146.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 2147.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

[4]When now[4] Cuchulain saw him coming nigh, [5]this is what he said:[5]
[6]"Welcome thine arrival and thy coming, O my master Fergus," spoke
Cuchulain. "Truly given we esteem thy greeting," Fergus answered. "It is
truly given for thee, O Fergus" said Cuchulain; "and thou shalt have a
night's lodging here this night." "Success and a blessing attend thee, O
fosterling; not for hospitality from thee am I come, but to fight and do
battle with thee."[6] "A vain surety [LL.fo.80a.] is the one wherewith my
master Fergus comes to me; for no sword is in the sheath of the great staff
he bears." It was true what he said. A year before this tale,[a] [7]before
the expedition of the Táin,[7] Ailill had found Fergus going to a tryst
with Medb on the hillside in Cruachan and his sword on a [8]branch[8] near
by him. And Ailill had torn the sword from its sheath and put a wooden
sword in its stead and vowed he would not restore him the sword till came
the day of the great battle, [9]when the men of Erin would clash in the
great battle of the Cualnge Cattle-raid at Garech and Ilgarech.[9] [10]"It
is a perilous thing for thee to come to a place of fight, O my master
Fergus, without thy sword."[10] "It matters not to me, O fosterling,"
replied Fergus; "for had I a sword in this, it never would cut thee nor be
plied on thee. But, by [W.2874.] the honour and training I bestowed upon
thee and the Ulstermen and Conchobar bestowed, [1]by the troth of thy
valour and knighthood[1] I adjure thee, give way before me this day in the
presence of the men of Erin!" "Truly I am loath [2]to do that,"[2] answered
Cuchulain, "to flee before any one man on the Cattle-spoil of Cualnge."
"Nay then it is not a thing to be taken amiss by thee," said Fergus; "for I
in my turn will retreat before thee when thou wilt be covered with wounds
and dripping with gore and pierced with holes in the battle of the Táin.
And when I alone shall turn in flight [3]before thee,[3] so will all the
men of Erin also flee [4]before thee in like manner."[4] So zealous was
Cuchulain to do whatever made for Ulster's weal that he had his chariot
brought to him, and he mounted his chariot and he went in confusion and
flight [5]from Fergus in the presence[5] of the men of Erin. [6]As far as
Grellach Dolluid ('the Stamping-place at Dolluid') he fled, in order that
Fergus might give way before him on the day of the battle.[6] [7]When[7]
the men of Erin saw that, [8]they were joyful, and what they said was
this:[8] "He is fled from thee! He is fled from thee, O Fergus!" cried
all. "Pursue him, pursue him [9]quickly,[9] O Fergus," Medb cried, "that he
do not escape thee." "Nay then," said Fergus, "I will pursue him no
further. [10]It is not like a tryst. Yon fellow is too speedy for me.[10]
For however little ye may make of the flight I have put him to, none of the
men of Erin, [11]not even four of the five provinces of Erin[11] could have
obtained so much as that of him on the Cow-creagh of Cualnge. For this
cause, till the men of Erin take turns in single combat, I will not engage
again with this same man." Hence here we have the [12]'White[12] [W.2891.]
Battle' of Fergus [1]on the Táin thus far; and it is for this cause it is
called the 'White Battle,' because no 'blood on weapons'[a] resulted
therefrom.[1] [2]They continue their march past Cuchulain and pitch camp in
Crich Roiss.[2]

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [a] See above, page 99.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] Reading with Stowe; LL. has 'on the slope.'

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] LU. and YBL. 2154-2155.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] LU. and YBL. 2157.

    [11-11] Eg. 93.

    [12-12] Eg. 93.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [a] A traditional tag; it occurs again, page 216.

    [2-2] LU. and YBL. 2158-2159.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 209]



[W.2893.] Ferchu Longsech ('the Exile'), [1]a wonderful warrior from
Loch Ce, outlawed from his land by Ailill and Medb,[1] although of the
Connachtmen, was engaged in battle and plunder with Ailill and Medb. From
the day these came to the kingship, there never was a time that he fared to
their camp or took part in their expeditions or shared in their straits or
their needs or their hardships, but he was ever at their heels, pillaging
and plundering their borders and land.  At that time he sojourned in the
eastern part of Mag Ai.  Twelve[a] men was his muster. He learned that a
single man checked and stopped four of the five grand provinces of Erin
from Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring, slaying a man on
the ford every one of those days and a hundred warriors every night. He
weighed his plan privily with his people. "What better plan could we
devise?" quoth he, "than to go and attack yonder man that checketh and
stoppeth four of the five grand provinces of Erin, and bring his head and
his arms with us to Ailill and Medb? However great the injuries and wrongs
we have done to Ailill and Medb, we shall obtain our peace therefor, if
only that man fall by our hand." [2]He made no doubt that if Cuchulain fell
through him, the eastern territory of Connacht would be his.[2] Now this
was the [W.2908.] resolve they took, and they proceeded to where Cuchulain
was [1]at Ath Aladh ('Speckled Ford') on the Plain of Murthemne.[1] And
when they came, [2]they espied the lone warrior and knew that it was
Cuchulain.[2] It was not fair fight nor combat with one they vouchsafed
him, but at one and the same time the twelve men fell upon him [3]so that
their spears sank up to their middles into his shield.[3] Cuchulain on his
part [4]drew his sword from the sheath of the Badb to attack them, and he
fell to to cut away their weapons and to lighten his shield. Then he[4]
turned on them, [5]front and back, to the left and the right,[5] and
straightway he smote off their twelve heads; [6]and he engaged in a
furious, bloody and violent battle with Ferchu himself, after killing his
people. And not long did it avail Ferchu thus, for he fell at last by
Cuchulain,[6] [7]and Cuchulain cut off Ferchu's head to the east of the
ford.[7] And he set up twelve stones in the earth for them, and he put the
head of each one of them on its stone and he likewise put Ferchu Longsech's
head on its stone. Hence Cinnit Ferchon Longsig is [8]henceforth the name
of[8] the place where Ferchu Longsech left his head [9]and his twelve men
theirs and their arms and their trophies,[9] to wit, Cenn-aitt Ferchon
('the Head-place of Ferchu').

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [a] 'Thirteen,' LU. and YBL. 2161, and Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [1-1] Eg. 93.

    [2-2] Eg. 93.

    [3-3] Eg. 93.

    [4-4] Eg. 93.

    [5-5] Eg. 93.

    [6-6] Eg. 93.

    [7-7] Eg. 93.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Eg. 93.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 211]



[2]Medb despatched Mann son of Muresc son of Darè, of the Dommandach, to
fight with Cuchulain. Own brothers were he and Daman, Ferdiad's father. A
man, rough, inordinate in eating and sleeping was this Mann. An ill-tongued
foul-mouthed man like Dubthach Doel ('Black-tongue') of Ulster. A man,
stout, mighty, with strength of limb like Munremur ('Thick-neck') son of
Gerrcend ('Short-head'). A fiery champion like Triscoth, the strong man of
Conchobar's household. "I will go," said he, "and unarmed, and I will grind
him between my hands, for I consider it no honour nor credit to use arms
against a beardless madcap such as he."

    [1-1] LU., fo. 82, in the margin.

Therewith he went to attack Cuchulain. There he was, himself and his
charioteer on the ford watching the host. "A lone warrior approacheth us
here," cried Laeg to Cuchulain. "What manner of man?" asked Cuchulain. "A
dark, black man, strong, bull-like, and he unarmed." "Let him go by thee,"
said Cuchulain.  At that he comes nigh them. "To fight with thee am I
come," Mann announced. Therewith they fell to wrestling for a long time,
and thrice Mann threw Cuchulain, till the charioteer incited Cuchulain.
"Were it the champion's portion thou wast contending for in Emain," spake
Laeg, "thou wouldst be all powerful over the young bloods in Emain!" At
these words the hero's wrath and warrior's rage returned to Cuchulain, so
that he overcame Mann at the pillar-stone and he fell to pieces in morsels.
Hence cometh Mag Mandachta ('the Plain of Mann's death').[2]

    [2-2] YBL., and, partly, LU. 2163-2181. Here the LU. version breaks
    off, fo. 82b.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 213]



[W.2918.] Then was it debated by the men of Erin who would be fit to
contend and cope with Cuchulain at the morning hour early on the next
day. What they all said was, that Calatin Dana ('the Bold') would be the
one, with his seven and twenty sons and his grandson[a] Glass macDelga.
Thus were they: Poison was on every man of them and poison on every weapon
of their arms; and not one of them missed his throw, and there was no one
on whom one of them drew blood that, if he succumbed not on the spot, would
not be dead before the end of the ninth day. Great gifts were promised to
them for engaging to do battle and to contend [LL.fo.80b.]  [2]with
Cuchulain.[2] And they took the matter in hand, and it should be in the
presence of Fergus that the covenant would be made. But Fergus refused to
have part therein, for what they [3]all[3] contended was that they would
hold it as a single combat, [4]a combat, to wit, of[4] Calatin Dana and his
seven and twenty sons and his grandson Glass macDelga; for their contention
was that his son was a limb of his limbs and a part of his parts, and that
to Calatin Dana belonged all that proceeded from his body.

    [1-1] The title is taken from the colophon at the end of the chapter.

    [a] 'Nephew.' Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

Fergus betook himself to his tent and to his people and he breathed his
sigh of weariness aloud. "Grievous it [W.2935.] seems to us, the deed to be
done here on the morrow," quoth Fergus. "What deed may that be?" asked his
people. "The slaying of Cuchulain," answered Fergus.  "Alas," said they,
"who should kill him?" "Calatin Dana," he replied, "with his seven and
twenty sons and his grandson Glass macDelga. For this is their nature:
Poison is on every man of them and poison on every weapon of their arms;
and there is no one on whom one of them draws blood, that, if he succumb
not on the spot, will not be dead before the end of the ninth day. And
there is no one [1]of you[1] that would go and learn for me and be witness
of the battle and fight and bring me news how Cuchulain died on whom I
would not bestow my blessing and armour." "I will go thither," spake Fiachu
son of Ferfebè.

    [1-1] Stowe.

They abode so that night. Early on the morrow Calatin Dana arose with his
seven and twenty sons and his grandson Glass macDelga, and they went
forward to where Cuchulain was. And there went also Fiachu son of Ferfebè.
And when Calatin arrived at the place where Cuchulain was, they forthwith
hurled their nine and twenty spears, and not one of them went past him by a
misthrow. Cuchulain played the edge-feat with his shield, so that all the
spears sank up to their middles into the shield. But for all that theirs
was no erring cast, not one of the spears was blooded or reddened upon
him. Thereupon Cuchulain drew [2]his[2] sword from the sheath of the Badb,
to cut away the weapons and lighten the shield that was on him. While thus
engaged, they rushed in upon him and delivered their nine and twenty right
fists at the same time on his head.  They smote him and curbed him withal,
till his face and his countenance and visage met the sand and gravel of the
ford. Cuchulain raised his warrior's shout aloud and his cry of unequal
combat, so that there was not an Ulsterman [W.2962.] alive [1]in the
camp[1] of those that were not asleep but heard it. Then [2]when they all
had reached for their swords,[2] came Fiachu son of Ferfebè [3]after them
out of the camp,[3] and he saw what they did and a qualm of [4]love and[4]
the bond of kindred came over him, and [5]when he saw all their hands
raised against Cuchulain, he leaped from his chariot and[5] drew his sword
from the sheath of the Badb and dealt them a blow, so that he cut off their
nine and twenty right fists from them at one stroke, and they all fell
backwards from the intensity of the exertion and hold which they had.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] YBL. 2186.

    [3-3] YBL. 2187.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. 2187-2188.

Cuchulain raised his head and drew breath and gave a sigh of weariness
and perceived who it was that had come to his aid. "A ready relief, O
foster-brother, [6]what thou hast done,"[6] said Cuchulain. "Although for
thee a ready relief," said Fiachu, "yet is it not so for us. Even though
we are the best division of three thousand of the Clann Rudraige in the
camp and station of the men of Erin, [7]nevertheless this small thing is a
breach of covenant in us men of Ulster. If one of Calatin's children
reaches the camp,[7] we shall all be brought under the mouth of spear and
of sword, however feeble thou mayst deem the blow I struck, if this treason
be found in us." "I give my word," quoth Cuchulain; "so soon as I raise my
head and draw breath, [8]not a man of them shall reach the camp alive,[8]
and unless thou thyself tellest the tale not one of these ever will tell

    [6-6] YBL. 2190.

    [7-7] YBL. 2190-2191.

    [8-8] YBL. 2193.

With that, Cuchulain turned on them, and he fell to smiting and hewing
them, so that he sent them [LL.fo.81a.] from him in small disjointed pieces
and divided quarters eastwards and westwards along the ford. A single man
got away from him, trusting to his speed while Cuchulain was busied
[W.2981.] beheading the rest; it was Glass macDelga. And Cuchulain raced
after him like a blast of wind, and Glass ran on round the tent of Ailill
and Medb, and all he could pant out was, "Fiach! Fiach!"[a] when Cuchulain
fetched him a stroke that cut off his head.

    [a] There is a play on words. Glass attempts to pronounce the name
    'Fiachu,' but is only able to utter the first syllable of the word
    which alone means 'debt.'

"'Tis quick work was made of that man," quoth Medb. "What debt was that he
spoke of, O Fergus?" "I know not," Fergus answered, "unless it be some one
in the camp and quarters that owed him a debt. It is that which troubled
his mind. But be that as it may," continued Fergus, "it is a debt of blood
and flesh for him. And upon my word," Fergus added, "now are his debts paid
to him for good and all!"

In this wise fell Calatin Dana ('the Bold') at the hands of Cuchulain,
together with his seven and twenty sons and his grandson Glass macDelga
[1]and the two sons of Ficcè with them, two bold warriors of Ulster who had
come to use their strength on the host.[1] So that for evermore in the bed
of the ford is still the rock whereabout they had their strife and struggle
[2]and their slaughtering of each other;[2] and the mark of their
sword-hilts is in it and of their knees and their elbows [3]and their
fists[3] and the butt-ends of their spears. [4]And their nine and twenty
standing stones were set up there.[4] Hence Fuil Iairn ('Blood of Iron') to
the west[b] of Ath Firdead ('Ferdiad's Ford') is the name of the ford. It
is for this it is called Fuil Iairn, because of the 'blood over weapons'[c]
that was there.

    [1-1] YBL. 2194-2196.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 2198.

    [4-4] YBL. 2198.

    [b] 'South,' YBL. 2184.

    [c] See page 208, note _a_.

Thus far then [5]this exploit on the Táin,[5] the Combat of the Clann
Calatin [6]of his children and his grandson with Cuchulain,[6] [7]when they
went to do battle with Cuchulain.[7]

    [5-5] YBL. 2196.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] YBL. 2196-2197.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 217]



[2]The four grand provinces of Erin were side by side and against Cuchulain,
from Monday before Samain-tide[a] to Wednesday after Spring-beginning, and
without leave to work harm or vent their rage on the province of Ulster,
while yet all the Ulstermen were sunk in their nine days' 'Pains,' and
Conall Cernach ('the Victorious') sought out battle in strange foreign
lands paying the tribute and tax of Ulster. Great was the plight and strait
of Cuchulain during that time, for he was not a day or a night without
fierce, fiery combat waged on him by the men of Erin, until he killed
Calatin with his seven and twenty sons and Fraech son of Fiadach and
performed many deeds and successes which are not enumerated here. Now this
was sore and grievous for Medb and for Ailill.[2]

    [1-1] Stowe and YBL. 2200 and Eg. 106.

    [2-2] Eg. 106.

    [a] See note p. 182.

[W.3001.] Then the men of Erin took counsel who would be fit [3]to send to
the ford[3] to fight and do battle with Cuchulain, [4]to drive him off from
them[4] at the morning hour early on the morrow.

    [3-3] YBL. 2203.

    [4-4] YBL. 2202.

[5]With one accord[5] they declared that it should be Ferdiad son of Daman
son of Darè, the great and valiant warrior of the men of Domnann, [6]the
horn-skin from Irrus Domnann, the irresistible force, and the battle-rock
of destruction, the own, dear, foster-brother of Cuchulain.[6] [W.3005.]
[1]And fitting it was for him to go thither,[1] for well-matched and alike
was their manner of fight and of combat. Under the same instructresses had
they done skilful deeds of valour and arms, when learning the art with
Scathach ('the Modest') and with Uathach ('the Dreadful') and with Aifè
('the Handsome'). [2]Yet was it the felling of an oak with one's fists, and
the stretching of the hand into a serpent's nest, and a spring into the
lair of a lion, for hero or champion in the world, aside from Cuchulain, to
fight or combat with Ferdiad on whatever ford or river or mere he set his
shield.[2] And neither of them overmatched the other, save in the feat of
the Gae Bulga ('the Barbed Spear') which Cuchulain possessed. Howbeit,
against this, Ferdiad was horn-skinned when fighting and in combat with a
warrior on the ford; [3]and they thought he could avoid the Gae Bulga and
defend himself against it, because of the horn about him of such kind that
neither arms nor multitude of edges could pierce it.[3]

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

    [6-6] YBL. 2204-2206.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Eg. 106.

    [3-3] YBL. 2208-2209.

Then were messengers and envoys sent [4]from Medb and Ailill[4] to Ferdiad.
Ferdiad denied them their will, and dismissed and sent back the messengers,
and he went not with them, for he knew wherefore they would have him, to
fight and combat with his friend, with his comrade and foster-brother,

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

Then did Medb despatch the druids [6]and the poets of the camp,[6] the
lampoonists and hard-attackers,[a] for Ferdiad, to the end that they might
make three satires to stay him and three scoffing speeches against him,
[7]to mock at him and revile and disgrace him,[7] that they might raise
three blisters on his face, Blame, Blemish and Disgrace, [8]that he might
not find a place in the world to lay his head,[8] [W.3021.] if he came not
[1]with them[1] [2]to the tent of Medb and Ailill on the foray.[2]

    [6-6] Stowe, Eg. 106, Eg. 209.

    [a] Literally, 'the cheek-blisterers.'

    [7-7] YBL. 2213.

    [8-8] YBL. 2214.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] YBL. 2214.

Ferdiad came with them for the sake of his own honour and [3]for fear of
their bringing shame on him,[3] forasmuch as he deemed it better to fall by
the shafts of valour and bravery and skill, than to fall by the shafts of
satire, abuse and reproach. And when [4]Ferdiad[4] was come [5]into the
camp,[5] [6]Medb and Ailill beheld him, and great and most wonderful joy
possessed them, and they sent him to where their trusty people were, and
[6]he was honoured and waited on, and choice, well-flavoured strong liquor
was poured out for him till he became drunken and merry. [7]Finnabair,
daughter of Ailill and Medb, was seated at his side.  It was Finnabair that
placed her hand on every goblet and cup Ferdiad quaffed. She it was that
gave him three kisses with every cup that he took. She it was that passed
him sweet-smelling apples over the bosom of her tunic.  This is what she
ceased not to say, that her darling and her chosen sweetheart of the
world's men was Ferdiad.[7] [8]And when Medb got Ferdiad drunken and
merry,[8] great rewards were promised him if he would make the fight and

    [3-3] YBL. 2215.

    [4-4] Stowe and Eg. 209.

    [5-5] Stowe and Eg. 209.

    [6-6] Eg. 106.

    [7-7] YBL. 2216-2221.

    [8-8] Eg. 106.

[9]When now Ferdiad was satisfied, happy and joyful, it was that Medb
spoke: "Hail now, Ferdiad. Dost know the occasion wherefore thou art
summoned to this tent?"  "I know not, in truth," Ferdiad replied; "unless
it be that the nobles of the men of Erin are here. Why is it less fitting
for me to be here than any other good warrior?"  "'Tis not that, forsooth,"
answered Medb: "but to give thee[9] a chariot worth four[a] times seven
bondmaids, and the apparel of two men and ten men, of cloth of every
colour, [W.3028.] and the equivalent [1]of the Plain of Murthemne[1] of the
rich Plain of Ai, [2]and that thou shouldst be at all times in Cruachan,
and wine be poured out for thee there; the freedom of thy descendants and
thy race forever,[2] free of tribute, free of rent, without constraint to
encamp or take part in our expeditions, [LL.fo.81b.] without duress for
[3]thy son, or for thy grandson, or for thy great-grandson, till the end of
time and existence;[3] [4]this leaf-shaped golden brooch of mine shall be
thine, wherein are ten-score ounces, and ten-score half ounces, and
ten-score scruples, and ten-score quarters;[4] Finnabair, [5]my daughter
and Ailill's,[5] to be thine own one wife, [6]and mine own most intimate
friendship, if thou exactest that withal." "He needs it not," they cried,
one and all; "great are the rewards and gifts!"[6]

    [9-9] YBL. 2221-2225.

    [a] 'Thrice seven,' YBL. 2226, Stowe, and Eg. 209.

    [1-1] YBL. 2227.

    [2-2] YBL. 2228.

    [3-3] In LL. this passage is reported in indirect discourse;
    consequently, instead of 'thy,' LL. has 'his.'

    [4-4] YBL. 2229-2231.

    [5-5] YBL. 2231-2232.

    [6-6] YBL. 2232-2234.

Such were the words of Medb, and she spake them here and Ferdiad

    Medb: "Great rewards in arm-rings,
          Share of plain and forest,
          Freedom of thy children
            From this day till doom!
          Ferdiad son of Daman,
          More than thou couldst hope for,
          Why shouldst thou refuse it,
            That which all would take?"

    Ferdiad: "Naught I'll take without bond--
             No ill spearman am I--
             Hard on me to-morrow:
               Great will be the strife!
             Hound that's hight of Culann,
             How his thrust is grievous!
             No soft thing to stand him;
               Rude will be the wound!"

    Medb: "Champions will be surety,
          Thou needst not keep hostings.
          Reins and splendid horses
            Shall be given as pledge!
          [W.3056.] Ferdiad, good, of battle,
          For that thou art dauntless,
          Thou shalt be my lover,
            Past all, free of cain!"

    Ferdiad: "Without bond I'll go not
             To engage in ford-feats;
             It will live till doomsday
               In full strength and force.
             Ne'er I'll yield--who hears me,
             Whoe'er counts upon me--
             Without sun- and moon-oath,
               Without sea and land!"

    Medb: "Why then dost delay it?
          Bind it as it please thee,
          By kings' hands and princes',
            Who will stand for thee!
          Lo, I will repay thee,[a]
          Thou shalt have thine asking,
          For I know thou'lt slaughter
            Man that meeteth thee!"

    Ferdiad: "Nay, without six sureties--
             It shall not be fewer--
             Ere I do my exploits
               There where hosts will be!
             Should my will be granted,
             I swear, though unequal,
             That I'll meet in combat
               Cuchulain the brave!"

    Medb: "Domnall, then, or Carbrè,
          Niaman famed for slaughter,
          Or e'en folk of barddom,
            Natheless, thou shalt have.
          Bind thyself on Morann,
          Wouldst thou its fulfilment,
          Bind on smooth Man's Carbrè,
            And our two sons, bind!"

    Ferdiad: "Medb, with wealth of cunning,
             Whom no spouse can bridle,
             Thou it is that herdest
               Cruachan of the mounds!
             High thy fame and wild power!
             Mine the fine pied satin;
             Give thy gold and silver,
               Which were proffered me!"

    Medb: [W.3100.] "To thee, foremost champion,
          I will give my ringed brooch.
          From this day till Sunday,
            Shall thy respite be!
          Warrior, mighty, famous,
          All the earth's fair treasures
          Shall to thee be given;
            Everything be thine!

          "Finnabair of the champions (?),
          Queen of western Erin,
          When thou'st slain the Smith's Hound,
          Ferdiad, she's thine!"

    Ferdiad: [1]"Should I have Finnabair to wife,
             Falls of Ai and Cruachan too,
             And to dwell for alway there,
             I'd not seek the deedful Hound!

             "Equal skill to me and him--"
             Thus spake Ferdiad withal--
             "The same nurses raised us[a] both,
             And with them we learned our art.

             "Not for fear of battle hard,
             Noble Eocho Fedlech's maid,
             Would I shun the Blacksmith's Hound,
             But my heart bleeds for his love!"

    Medb: "Thou shalt have, dear, bright-scaled[b] man,[c]
          One swift, proud, high-mettled steed.
          Thou shalt have domains and land
          And shalt stay not from the fight (?)!"

    Ferdiad: "But that Medb entreated so,
             And that poets' tongues did urge,
             I'd not go for hard rewards
             To contend with mine own friend!"

    Medb: "Son of Daman of white cheeks,
          Shouldst thou check this heroes' Hound,
          E'er so long thy fame will live,
          When thou comest from Ferdiad's Ford!"[1]

    [a] Translating from Stowe.

    [1-1] Eg. 106 (_Revue Celtique,_ t. x, page 339). The metre is changed
    designedly to agree with the original.

    [a] MS. 'ye.'

    [b] Referring to Ferdiad's horn-skin.

    [c] Literally, 'calf.'

[2]Then said they, one and all, those gifts were great. [3]"'Tis true, they
are great.[3] But though they are," said [W.3113.] Ferdiad, "with Medb
herself I will leave them, and I will not accept them if it be to do battle
or combat with my foster-brother, the man of my alliance and affection,
[1]and my equal in skill of arms,[1] namely, with Cuchulain." And he

    "Greatest toil, [2]this, greatest toil,[2]
    Battle with the Hound of gore!
    Liefer would I battle twice
    With two hundred men of Fal!

    "Sad the fight, [2]and sad the fight,[2]
    I and Hound of feats shall wage!
    We shall hack both flesh and blood;
    Skin and body we shall hew!

    "Sad, O god, [2]yea, sad, O god,[2]
    That a woman should us part!
    My heart's half, the blameless Hound;
    Half the brave Hound's heart am I!

    "By my shield, [2]O, by my shield,[2]
    If Ath Cliath's brave Hound should fall,
    I will drive my slender glaive
    Through my heart, my side, my breast!

    "By my sword, [2]O, by my sword,[2]
    If the Hound of Glen Bolg fall!
    No man after him I'll slay,
    Till I o'er the world's brink spring!

    "By my hand, [2]O, by my hand![2]
    Falls the Hound of Glen in Sgail,
    Medb with all her host I'll kill,
    And then no more men of Fal!

    "By my spear, [2]O, by my spear![2]
    Should Ath Cro's brave Hound be slain,
    I'll be buried in his grave;
    May one grave hide me and him!

    [3]"Liefer would I, [2]liefer far,[2]
    Arms should slay me in fierce fight,
    Than the death of heroes' Hound,"[a]
    Should be food for ravenous birds?[3]

    "Tell him this, [2]O, tell him this,[2]
    To the Hound of beauteous hue,
    Fearless Scathach hath foretold
    My fall on a ford through him!

    [W.3149.] "Woe to Medb, [1]yea, woe to Medb,[1]
    Who hath used her [3]guile[3] on us;
    She hath set me face to face
    'Gainst Cuchulain--hard the toil!"

    [2-2] Stowe, Add. 18,748 and Eg. 209.

    [3-3] YBL. 2234.

    [1-1] Eg. 106, Eg. 209.

    [2-2] Eg. 209.

    [a] The word is illegible in the manuscript.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

    [1-1] Eg. 209.

    [3-3] Reading with Eg. 209.

"Ye men," spake Medb, in the wonted fashion of stirring up disunion and
dissension, [4]as if she had not heard Ferdiad at all,[4] "true is the word
Cuchulain speaks." "What word is that?" asked Ferdiad. "He said, then,"
replied Medb, "he would not think it too much if thou shouldst fall by his
hands in the choicest feat of his skill in arms, in the land whereto he
should come." "It was not just for him to speak so," quoth Ferdiad; "for it
is not cowardice or lack of boldness that he hath ever seen in me [5]by day
or by night.[5] [6]And I speak not so to him, for I have it not to say of
him.[6] And I swear by my arms [7]of valour,[7] if it be true that he spoke
so, I will be the first man of the men of Erin to contend with him on the
morrow, [8]how loath soever I am to do so!"[8]

    [4-4] YBL. 2238.

    [5-5] YBL. 2242.

    [6-6] Eg. 106.

    [7-7] Eg. 209.

    [8-8] Eg. 106.

[9]And he gave his word in the presence of them all that he would go and
meet Cuchulain. For it pleased Medb, if Ferdiad should fail to go, to have
them as a witness against him, in order that she might say it was fear or
dread that caused him to break his word.[9] "A blessing [10]and victory[10]
upon thee for that!" said Medb; "it pleaseth me more than for thee to show
fear and lack of boldness. For every man loves his own land, and how is it
better for him to seek the welfare of Ulster, [11]because his mother was
descended from the Ulstermen,[11] than for thee to seek the welfare of
Connacht,[2] [12]as thou art the son of a king of Connacht?"[12]

    [9-9] Eg. 106.

    [10-10] YBL. 2244.

    [11-11] YBL. 2247.

    [12-12] YBL. 2248.

Then it was that Medb obtained from Ferdiad the easy [W.3163.] surety of a
covenant to fight and contend on the morrow with six warriors [1]of the
champions of Erin,[1] or to fight and contend with Cuchulain alone, if to
him this last seemed lighter. Ferdiad obtained [2]of Medb[2] the easy
surety, [3]as he thought,[3] to send the aforesaid six men for the
fulfilment of the terms which had been promised him, should Cuchulain fall
at his hands.

    [1-1] Stowe and Eg. 209.

    [2-2] Stowe, Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [3-3] A gloss, in LL.

[4]There was a wonderful warrior of the Ulstermen present at that covenant,
and that was Fergus macRoig. Fergus betook him to his tent. "Woe is me, for
the deed that will be done on the morning of the morrow!" "What deed is
that?" his tent-folk asked. "My good fosterling Cuchulain will be slain!"
"Good lack! who makes that boast?" "Not hard to say: None other but his
dear, devoted foster-brother, Ferdiad son of Daman. Why bear ye not my
blessing," Fergus continued, "and let one of you go with a warning and
mercy to Cuchulain, if perchance he would leave the ford on the morn of the
morrow?" "As we live," said they; "though it were thyself was on the ford
of battle, we would not go near him to seek thee." "Come, my lad," cried
Fergus, "get our horses for us, and yoke the chariot!"[4]

    [4-4] YBL. fo. 36a, 21-36.

Then were Fergus' horses fetched for him and his chariot was yoked, and he
came forward to the place [5]of combat[5] where Cuchulain was, to inform
him [6]of the challenge, that Ferdiad was to fight with him.[6]

    [5-5] YBL. fo. 36a, 38.

    [6-6] Eg. 209.

[7]"A chariot cometh hither towards us, O Cuchulain!" cried Laeg. For in
this wise was the gilla, with his back towards his lord. He used to win
every other game of draughts and of chess from his master. Watch and guard
of the four airts was he besides. "What manner of chariot is it?" asked
Cuchulain. "A chariot like to a royal fort, huge, with its yoke, strong,
golden; with its great board of copper; with its shafts of bronze; with its
thin-framed, dry-bodied box (?) ... set on two horses, black, swift, stout,
strong-forked, thick-set, under beautiful shafts. One kingly, broad-eyed
warrior is the combatant in the chariot. A curly, forked beard he wears
that reaches below outside over the smooth lower part of his soft tunic,
which would shelter fifty warriors on a day of storm and rain under the
heavy shield of the warrior's beard. A bent buckler, white, beautiful, of
many colours, he bears, with three stout-wrought chains, so that there is
room from edge to edge for four troops of ten men behind the leather of the
shield which hangs upon the broad back of the warrior. A long, hard-edged,
broad, red sword in a sheath woven and twisted of white silver, over the
... of the battle-warrior. A strong, three-ridged spear, wound and banded
with all-gleaming white silver he has lying across the chariot."

    [7-7] YBL. fo. 36a, 39-36b, 15.

"Not difficult to recognize him," said Cuchulain: "'tis my master Fergus
that cometh hither with a warning and with compassion for me, before all
the four provinces of Erin."

[W.3172.] Fergus drew nigh and sprang from his chariot.[7] Cuchulain bade
him welcome. [LL.fo.82a.] "Welcome is thy coming, O my master Fergus!"
cried Cuchulain. [1]"If a flock of birds comes into the plain, thou shalt
have a duck with half of another. If a fish comes into the river-mouths,
thou shalt have a salmon with half of another. A handful of water-cress and
a bunch of laver and a sprig of sea-grass and a drink of cold water from
the sand thou shalt have thereafter." "Tis an outlaw's portion, that,"
said Fergus. "Tis true; 'tis an outlaw's portion is mine," answered
Cuchulain.[1] "Truly intended, methinks, the welcome, O [W.3174.]
fosterling," said Fergus. "But, [1]were it for this I came, I should think
it better to leave it.[1] It is for this I am here, to inform thee who
comes to fight and contend with thee at the morning hour early on the
morrow." "E'en so will we hear it from thee," said Cuchulain. "Thine own
friend and comrade and foster-brother, the man thine equal in feats and in
skill of arms and in deeds, Ferdiad son of Daman son of Darè, the great and
mighty warrior of the men of Domnann." [2]"As my soul liveth,"[2] replied
Cuchulain, "it is not to an encounter we wish our friend to come, and
[3]not for fear, but for love and affection of him;[3] [4]and almost I
would prefer to fall by the hand of that warrior than for him to fall by
mine."[4] "It is even for that," answered Fergus, "thou shouldst be on thy
guard and prepared. [5]Say not that thou hast no fear of Ferdiad, for it is
fitting that thou shouldst have fear and dread before fighting with
Ferdiad.[5] For unlike all to whom it fell to fight and contend with thee
on the Cualnge Cattle-raid on this occasion is Ferdiad son of Daman son of
Darè, [9]for he hath a horny skin about him [6]in battle against a man,[6]
[7]a belt,[7] [8]equally strong, victorious in battle,[8] and neither
points nor edges are reddened upon it[9] [10]in the hour of strife and
anger. For he is the fury of a lion, and the bursting of wrath, and the
blow of doom, and the wave that drowneth foes."[10] [12]"Speak not thus!"
cried Cuchulain, "for I swear [11]by my arms of valour,[11] the oath that
my people swear, that every limb and every joint will be as soft as a
pliant rush in the bed of a river under the point of sword, if he show
himself to me on the ford![12] Truly am I here," said Cuchulain, "checking
and [W.3185.] staying four of the five grand provinces of Erin from Monday
at[a] Summer's end till[b] the beginning of spring, [1]and I have not left
my post for a night's disport, through stoutly opposing the men of Erin on
the Cattle-lifting of Cualnge.[1] And in all this time, I have not put foot
in retreat before any one man [2]nor before a multitude,[2] and methinks
just as little will I turn foot in flight before him."

    [1-1] YBL. 36b, 27-28.

    [7-7] YBL. fo. 36a, 39-36b, 15.

    [1-1] YBL. 36b, 18-24.

    [2-2] Literally, 'I say our confession.'

    [3-3] Stowe, Eg. 209, Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Eg. 106.

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

    [6-6] YBL. fo. 36b, 38.

    [7-7] Eg. 106.

    [8-8] Eg. 106.

    [9-9] Stowe and Eg. 209, and, similarly, YBL. 36b, 37.

    [10-10] Eg. 106.

    [11-11] Eg. 106.

    [12-12] YBL. 36b, 38-43

    [1-1] YBL. 36b, 25-26.

    [2-2] Stowe.

[3]And thus spake he, that it was not fear of Ferdiad that caused his
anxiety for the fight, but his love for him. [3]And, on his part, so spake
Fergus, putting him on his guard [4]because of Ferdiad's strength,[4] and
he said these words and Cuchulain responded:--

       Fergus: "O Cuchulain--splendid deed--
               Lo, 'tis time for thee to rise.
               Here in rage against thee comes
               Ferdiad, red-faced Daman's son!"

    Cuchulain: "Here am I--no easy task--[c]
               Holding Erin's men at bay;
               Foot I've never turned in flight
               In my fight with single foe!"

       Fergus: "Dour the man when anger moves,
               Owing to his gore-red glaive;
               Ferdiad wears a skin of horn,
               'Gainst which fight nor might prevails!"

    Cuchulain: "Be thou still; urge not thy tale,
               Fergus of the mighty arms.
               On no land and on no ground,
               For me is there aught defeat!"

       Fergus: "Fierce the man with scores of deeds;
               No light thing, him to subdue.
               Strong as hundreds--brave his mien--
               Point pricks not, edge cuts him not!"

    Cuchulain: "If we clash upon the ford,
               I and Ferdiad of known skill,
               We'll not part without we know:
               Fierce will be our weapon fight!"

       Fergus: [W.3214.] "More I'd wish it than reward,
               O Cuchulain of red sword,
               Thou shouldst be the one to bring
               Eastward haughty Ferdiad's spoils!"

    Cuchulain: "Now I give my word and vow,
               Though unskilled in strife of words,
               It is I will conquer this
               Son of Daman macDarè!"

       Fergus: "It is I brought east the host,
               Thus requiting Ulster's wrong.
               With me came they from their lands,
               With their heroes and their chiefs!"

    Cuchulain: "Were not Conchobar in the 'Pains,'
               Hard 'twould be to come near us.
               Never Medb of Mag in Scail
               On more tearful march had come!"

       Fergus: "Greatest deed awaits thy hand:
               Fight with Ferdiad, Daman's son.
               Hard stern arms with stubborn edge,[b]
               Shalt thou have, thou Culann's Hound!"

    [a] Stowe and H. 1. 13: 'before'; YBL. 36b, 24: 'after.'

    [b] 'Till Wednesday after Spring,' is the reading of H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [c] Literally, 'no meagre sail.'

    [b] Or, 'which quatrains love (?),' a cheville.

[1]After that,[1] Fergus returned to the camp and halting-place [2]of the
men of Erin,[2] [3]lest the men of Erin should say he was betraying them or
forsaking them, if he should remain longer than he did conversing with
Cuchulain. And they took farewell of each other.[3]

    [1-1] YBL. 37a, 22.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

[4]Now as regards the charioteer of Cuchulain [5]after Fergus went from
them:[5] "What wilt thou do to-night?" asked Laeg. "What, indeed?" said
Cuchulain. "It will be thus" (said the charioteer) "Ferdiad will come to
attack thee, with new beauty of plaiting and dressing of hair, and washing
and bathing, and the four provinces of Erin with him to look at the
combat. I would that thou wouldst go where thou wilt get a like adorning
for thyself, to the place where is Emer Foltchain ('Emer of the Beautiful
Hair,' thy wife), [6]daughter of Forgal Monach,[6] at Cairthenn in Cluan da
Dam, ('two Oxen's Meadow') in Sliab Fuait, [1]where thou wilt get even
such an adorning for thyself."[1] [2]"It is fitting to do so," said
Cuchulain.[2] Then Cuchulain went thither that night [3]to Dundelgan,[3]
and passed the night with his wife. His doings from that time are not
related here now.[4]

    [4-4] YBL. 37a, 29-39, and, similarly, Eg. 106.

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

    [6-6] Eg. 106.

    [1-1] Eg. 106.

    [2-2] Eg. 106.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

[W.3235.] [5]As for[5] Ferdiad, he betook himself to his tent and to his
people, and imparted to them the easy surety which Medb had obtained from
him to do combat and battle with six warriors on the morrow, or to do
combat and battle with Cuchulain alone, if he thought it a lighter task.
He made known to them also the fair terms he had obtained from Medb of
sending the same six warriors for the fulfilment of the covenant she had
made with him, should Cuchulain fall by his hands.

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

[6]The folk of Ferdiad were not joyful, blithe, cheerful or merry that
night,[6] [LL.fo.82b.] but they were sad, sorrowful and downcast, for they
knew that where the two champions and the two bulwarks in a gap for a
hundred, [7]the two pillars of battle and strife of the men of Erin[7]
[8]of that time[8] met in combat, one or other of them would fall there or
both would fall, and if it should be one of them, they believed it would be
[9]their king and[9] their own lord [10]that would fall there,[10] for it
was not easy to contend and do battle with Cuchulain on the Raid for the
Kine of Cualnge.

    [6-6] LL., with the help of Stowe; LL. being partly illegible here.

    [7-7] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209, Eg. 106 and YBL. 37a, 43.

    [8-8] YBL. 37a, 43.

    [9-9] H. 1. 13.

    [10-10] Stowe.

Ferdiad slept right heavily the first part of the night, but when the end
of the night was come, his sleep and his heaviness left him. And the
anxiousness of the combat and the battle came upon him. [11]But most
troubled in spirit was he that he should allow all the treasures to pass
from him, and the maiden, by reason of combat with one man. Unless he
fought with that one man, he must needs fight with six champions on the
morrow. What tormented him more than that was, should he once show himself
on the ford to Cuchulain he was certain he would never have power of head
or of life ever after. And Ferdiad arose early on the morrow.[11] [W.3252.]
And he charged his charioteer to take his horses and to yoke his chariot.
The charioteer sought to dissuade him [1]from that journey.[1] [2]"By our
word,"[2] said the gilla, "'twould be better for thee[a] [3]to remain than
to go thither," said he; "for, not more do I commend it for thee than I
condemn it."[3] "Hold thy peace about us, boy!" quoth Ferdiad, [4]"for we
will brook no interference from any one concerning this journey.[4] [5]For
the promise we gave to Medb and Ailill in the presence of the men of Erin,
it would shame us to break it; for they would say it was fear or dread that
caused us to break it. And, by my conscience, I would almost liefer fall
myself by Cuchulain's hand than that he should fall by mine on this
occasion. And should Cuchulain fall by my hand on the ford of combat, then
shall Medb and many of the men of Erin fall by my hand because of the
pledge they extorted from me, and I drunken and merry.[5] And in this
manner he spake, [6]conversing with the charioteer,[6] and he uttered these
words, [7]the little lay that follows, urging on the charioteer,[7] and the
henchman responded:--

    Ferdiad: "Let's haste to th' encounter,
             To battle with this man;
             The ford we will come to,
               O'er which Badb will shriek!
             To meet with Cuchulain,
             To wound his slight body,
             To thrust the spear through him
               So that he may die!"

    The Henchman: [W.3266.] "To stay it were better;
                  Your threats are not gentle;
                  Death's sickness will one have,
                    And sad will ye part!
                  To meet Ulster's noblest,
                  To meet whence ill cometh;
                  Long will men speak of it.
                    Alas, for your[a] course!"

         Ferdiad: "Not fair what thou speakest;
                  No fear hath the warrior;
                  We owe no one meekness;
                    We stay not for thee!
                  Hush, gilla, about us!
                  The time will bring strong hearts;
                  More meet strength than weakness;
                    [1]Let's on to the tryst!"[1]

    [11-11] YBL. 37a, 47-37b, 5.

    [1-1] Stowe, Eg. 106 and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] YBL. 37b, 7.

    [a] MSS.: 'ye.'

    [3-3] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 106, Eg. 109 and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209, Eg. 106 and H. 1. 13.

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

    [6-6] YBL. 37b, 9.

    [7-7] YBL. 37b, 10.

    [a] MS.: 'his.'

    [1-1] YBL. 37b, 22.

Ferdiad's horses were now brought forth and his chariot was hitched, and he
set out [2]from the camp[2] for the ford of battle when yet day with its
full light had not come there for him. [3]"My lad," spake Ferdiad, "it is
not fitting that we make our journey without bidding farewell to the men of
Erin. Turn the horses and the chariot for us towards the men of Erin."
Thrice the servant turned the heads of the horses and the chariot towards
the men of Erin. Then he came upon Medb letting her water from her on the
floor of the tent. "Ailill, sleepest thou still?" asked Medb. "Not so!"
replied Ailill. "Dost hear thy new son-in-law taking farewell, of thee?"
"Is that what he doth?" asked Ailill. "'Tis that, verily," Medb made
answer; "but I swear by what my tribe swears, not on the same feet will the
man who makes that greeting come back to you." "Howbeit, we have profited
by a happy alliance of marriage with him," quoth Ailill; "if only Cuchulain
falls by his hand, I should be pleased if they both fell, yet would I
prefer that Ferdiad should escape."

    [2-2] YBL. 37b, 24.

    [3-3] YBL. 37b, 25-38a, 25.

Ferdiad came to the ford of combat. "Look, my lad!" said Ferdiad, "is
Cuchulain on the ford?" "That he is not," replied the gilla. "Look well for
us," said Ferdiad. "Cuchulain is not a little speck where he would be in
hiding," answered the gilla. "'Tis true, then, my lad; till this day
Cuchulain hath not heard of a goodly warrior coming to meet him on the
Cow-spoil of Cualnge, and now when he has heard of one, he has left the

"Shame for thee to slander Cuchulain in his absence. Rememberest thou not
when ye gave battle to German Garbglas above the borders of the Tyrrhene
Sea, thou leftest thy sword with the hosts, and it was Cuchulain who slew a
hundred warriors till he reached it and brought it to thee? And mindest
thou well where we were that night?" the gilla asked further. "I know not,"
Ferdiad answered. "At the house of Scathach's steward," said the other;
"and thou wentest ... and proudly in advance of us all into the house. The
churl gave thee a blow with his three-pointed fork in the small of the
back, so that thou flewest like a bolt out over the door. Cuchulain came in
and gave the churl a blow with his sword, so that he made two pieces of
him. I was their house-steward whilst ye were in that place. If it were
that day, thou wouldst not say thou wast a better warrior than Cuchulain."
"Wrong is what thou hast done, O gilla," said Ferdiad; "for I would not
have come to the combat, hadst thou spoken thus to me at first. Why dost
thou not lay the chariot-poles at my side and the skin-coverings under my
head, that so I may sleep now?" "Alas," said the gilla, "'tis a sorry sleep
before deer and packs of wolves here!" "How so, gilla? Art thou not able to
keep watch and guard for me?" "I am," the gilla answered; "unless they come
in clouds or in the air to attack thee, they shall not come from east or
from west to attack thee without warning, without notice."[3] "Come,
gilla," said Ferdiad, [1]"unharness the horses and[1] [W.3285.] spread for
me the cushions and skins of my chariot under me here, so that I sleep off
my heavy fit of sleep and slumber here, for I slept not the last part of
the night with the anxiousness of the battle and combat."

    [1-1] Stowe.

The gilla unharnessed the horses; he unfastened the chariot under him,
[1]and spread beneath him the chariot-cloths.[1] He slept off the heavy fit
of sleep that was on him. [2]The gilla remained on watch and guard for

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Eg. 106.

Now how Cuchulain fared [3]is related[3] here: He arose not till the day
with its bright light had come to him, lest the men of Erin might say it
was fear or fright of the champion he had, if he should arise [4]early.[4]
And when day with its full light had come, he [5]passed his hand over his
face and[5] bade his charioteer take his horses and yoke them to his
chariot. "Come, gilla," said Cuchulain, "take out our horses for us and
harness our chariot, for an early riser is the warrior appointed to meet
us, Ferdiad son of Daman son of Darè. [6]If Ferdiad awaits us, he must
needs think it long."[6] "The horses are taken out," [7]said the gilla;[7]
"the chariot is harnessed. Mount, and be it no shame to thy valour [8]to go
thither!"[8] [9]Cuchulain stepped into the chariot and they pressed
forward to the ford.[9] Then it was that the cutting, feat-performing,
battle-winning, red-sworded hero, Cuchulain son of Sualtaim, mounted his
chariot, so that there shrieked around him the goblins and fiends and the
sprites of the glens and the demons of the air; for the Tuatha De Danann
('the Folk of the Goddess Danu') were wont to set up their cries around
him, to the end that the dread and the fear and the fright and the terror
of him might be so much the greater in every [W.3304.] battle and on every
field, in every fight and in every combat wherein he went.

    [3-3] Stowe and YBL. 38a, 28.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe, and, similarly Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [6-6] YBL. 38a, 30.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] H. 1. 13.

    [9-9] YBL. 38a, 31-32.

Not long had Ferdiad's charioteer waited when he heard something: [1]A rush
and a crash and a hurtling sound, and a din and a thunder,[1] [LL.fo.83a.]
and a clatter and a clash, namely, the shield-cry of feat-shields, and the
jangle of javelins, and the deed-striking of swords, and the thud of the
helmet, [2]and the ring of spears,[2] and the clang of the cuirass, and the
striking of arms, the fury of feats, the straining of ropes, and the whirr
of wheels, and the creaking of the chariot, and the trampling of horses'
hoofs, and the deep voice of the hero and battle-warrior [3]in grave speech
with his servant[3] on his way to the ford to attack his opponent.

    [1-1] From Stowe; LL. is illegible here.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] Stowe.

The servant came and touched his master with his hand [4]and awakened
him.[4] "Ferdiad, master," said the youth, "rise up! They are here to meet
thee at the ford." [5]Then[5] [6]Ferdiad arose and girt his body in his
war-dress of battle and combat.[6] And the gilla spake these words:--

    "The roll of a chariot,
    Its fair yoke of silver;
    A man great and stalwart
      O'ertops the strong car!
    O'er Bri Ross, o'er Branè
    Their swift path they hasten;
    Past Old-tree Town's[a] tree-stump,
      Victorious they speed!

    "A sly Hound that driveth,
    A fair chief that urgeth,
    A free hawk that speedeth
      His steeds towards the south!
    Gore-coloured, the Cua,[b]
    'Tis sure he will take us;
    We know--vain to hide it--
      He brings us defeat![c]

    [W.3335.] "Woe him on the hillock,
    The brave Hound before him;
    Last year I foretold it,
      That some time he'd come!
    Hound from Emain Macha,
    Hound formed of all colours,
    The Border-hound, War-hound,
      I hear what I've heard!"

    [4-4] YBL. 38a, 35.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13.

    [6-6] Stowe and, similarly, Eg. 209, Eg. 106 and H. 1. 13.

    [a] _Baile in bile_, MSS.

    [b] A shortened form for 'Cuchulain.'

    [c] Literally, 'battle, strife.'

"Come, gilla," said Ferdiad; "for what reason laudest thou this man ever
since I am come from my house? And it is almost a cause for strife with
thee that thou hast praised him thus highly. But, Ailill and Medb have
prophesied to me that this man will fall by my hand. And since it is for a
reward, he shall quickly be torn asunder by me. [1]And make ready the arms
on the ford against his coming." "Should I turn my face backward," said the
gilla; "methinks the poles of yon chariot will pass through the back of my
neck." "Too much, my lad," said Ferdiad, "dost thou praise Cuchulain, for
not a reward has he given thee for praising,[1] but it is time to fetch
help." And he spake these words, and the henchman responded:--

         Ferdiad: "'Tis time now to help me;
                  Be silent! cease praising!
                  'Twas no deed of friendship,
                    No doom o'er the brink (?)[a]
                  The Champion of Cualnge,
                  Thou seest 'midst proud feats,
                  For that it's for guerdon,
                    Shall quickly be slain!"[b]

    The Henchman: "I see Cualnge's hero,
                  With feats overweening,
                  Not fleeing he flees us,
                    But towards us he comes.
                  He runneth--not slowly--
                  Though cunning--not sparing--
                  Like water 'down high cliff
                    Or thunderbolt quick!"

         Ferdiad: [W.3365.] "'Tis cause of a quarrel,
                  So much thou hast praised him;
                  And why hast thou chose him,
                    Since I am from home?
                  And now they extol him,
                  They fall to proclaim him;
                  None come to attack him,
                    But soft simple men (?)."

    [1-1] YBL. 38b, 46-57.

    [a] The meaning is obscure.

    [b] Literally, 'torn.'

[1]Here followeth the Description of Cuchulain's chariot,
one of the three chief Chariots of the Tale of the Foray of

    [1-1] YBL. 38a, 48-49. In the following description of the chariot and
    steeds has been incorporated part of the parallel passages in LU.
    1969-1977 and YBL. 38a-38b. Eg. 106, Eg. 109 and H. 2. 12 (_Revue
    Celtique_, xi, 25) contain more adjectives.

It was not long that Ferdiad's charioteer remained there when he saw
something: [2]"How beholdest thou Cuchulain?" asked Ferdiad of his
charioteer. "I behold," said he,[2] "a beautiful, live-pointed chariot,
[3]broad above, of white crystal, with a thick yoke of gold, with stout
plates of copper, with shafts of bronze, with wheel-bands of bronze covered
with silver,[3] approaching with swiftness, with speed, with perfect skill;
with a green shade, with a thin-framed, dry-bodied (?) box surmounted with
feats of cunning, [4]straight-poled,[4] as long as a warrior's sword. [5]On
this[5] was room for a hero's seven arms, the fair seat for its lord;
[6]two wheels, dark, black; a pole of tin, with red enamel, of a beautiful
colour; two inlaid, golden bridles.[6] [7]This chariot was placed[7]
behind two fleet steeds, [8]nimble, furious, small-headed,[8] bounding,
large-eared, [9]small-snouted, sharp-beaked, red-chested,[9] gaily
prancing, with inflated[a] nostrils, broad-chested, quick-hearted,
high-flanked, broad-hoofed, slender-limbed, overpowering and resolute. A
grey, broad-hipped, small-stepping, long-maned horse, [10]whose name was
Liath ('the Roan') of Macha,[10] was under [W.3379.] one of the yokes of
the chariot; a black, crispèd-maned, swift-moving, broad-backed horse,
[1]whose name was Dubh ('the Black') of Sithleann,[1] under the other. Like
unto a hawk after its prey on a sharp tempestuous day, or to a tearing
blast of wind of Spring on a March day over the back of a plain, or unto a
startled stag when first roused by the hounds in the first of the chase,
[LL.fo.83b.] were Cuchulain's two horses before the chariot, as if they
were on glowing, fiery flags, so that they shook the earth and made it
tremble with the fleetness of their course.

    [2-2] YBL. 38a, 51-52.

    [3-3] YBL. 38b, 1-3.

    [4-4] LU. 1973.

    [5-5] YBL.

    [6-6] YBL. 38b. 19-21.

    [7-7] LU. 1972.

    [8-8] LU. 1973.

    [9-9] LU. 1973.

    [10-10] Eg. 209.

    [a] Literally, 'bagnosed.'

    [1-1] Eg. 209.

[2]"In the front of this chariot is a man with fair, curly, long hair.
There is around him a cloak, blue, Parthian purple. A spear with red and
keen-cutting blades, flaming-red in his hand. The semblance of three heads
of hair he has, namely, brown hair next to the skin of his head, blood-red
hair in the middle, a crown of gold is the third head of hair.

"Beautiful is the arrangement of that hair so that it makes three coils
down behind over his shoulders. Even as a thread of gold it seems, when its
hue has been wrought over the edge of an anvil; or like to the yellow of
bees whereon shines the sun on a summer's day is the shining of each single
hair of his hair. Seven toes he has on each of his feet and seven fingers
on each of his hands and the brilliance of a very great fire is around his

"Befitting him is the charioteer beside him, with curly, jet-black hair,
shorn broad over his head. A cowled garment around him, open at the elbows.
A horse-whip, very fine and golden in his hand, and a light-grey cloak
wrapped around him, and a goad of white silver in his hand. He plies the
goad on the horses whatever way would go the deed-renowned warrior that is
in the chariot."[2]

    [2-2] YBL. 38b, 21-44.

And Cuchulain reached the ford. Ferdiad waited on [W.3387.] the south side
of the ford; Cuchulain stood on the north side. Ferdiad bade welcome to
Cuchulain. "Welcome is thy coming, O Cuchulain!" said Ferdiad. "Truly
spoken meseemed thy welcome till now," answered Cuchulain; "but to-day I
put no more trust in it. And, O Ferdiad," said Cuchulain, "it were fitter
for me to bid thee welcome than that thou should'st welcome me; for it is
thou that art come to the land and province wherein I dwell; and it is not
fitting for thee to come to contend and do battle with me, but it were
fitter for me to go to contend and do battle with thee. For before thee in
flight are my women and my boys and my youths, my steeds and my troops of
horses, my droves, my flocks and my herds of cattle."

"Good, O Cuchulain," spake Ferdiad; "what has ever brought thee out to
contend and do battle with me? For when we were [1]together[1] with
Scathach and with Uathach and with Aifè, [2]thou wast not a man worthy of
me, for[2] thou wast my serving-man, even for arming my spear and dressing
my bed." "That was indeed true," answered Cuchulain; "because of my youth
and my littleness did I so much for thee, but this is by no means my mood
this day. For there is not a warrior in the world I would not drive off
this day [3]in the field of battle and combat."[3]

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

[4]It was not long before they met in the middle of the ford.[4] And then
it was that each of them cast sharp-cutting reproaches at the other,
renouncing his friendship; and Ferdiad spake these words there, and
Cuchulain responded:--

      Ferdiad: "What led thee, O Cua,
               To fight a strong champion?
               Thy flesh will be gore-red
                 O'er smoke of thy steeds!
               Alas for thy journey,
               A kindling of firebrands;
               In sore need of healing,
                 If home thou shouldst reach!"

    Cuchulain: [W.3417.] "I'm come before warriors
               Around the herd's wild Boar,[a]
               Before troops and hundreds,
                 To drown thee in deep.
               In anger, to prove thee
               In hundred-fold battle,
               Till on thee come havoc,
                 Defending thy head!"

      Ferdiad: "Here stands one to crush thee,
               'Tis I will destroy thee,
                 From me there shall come
               The flight of their warriors
               In presence of Ulster,
               That long they'll remember
                 The loss that was theirs!"

    Cuchulain: "How then shall we combat?
               For wrongs shall we heave sighs?
               Despite all, we'll go there,
                 To fight on the ford!
               Or is it with hard swords,
               Or e'en with red spear-points,
               Before hosts to slay thee,
                 If [2]thy[2] hour hath come?"

      Ferdiad: "'Fore sunset, 'fore nightfall--
               If need be, then guard thee--
               I'll fight thee at Bairchè,
                 Not bloodlessly fight!
               The Ulstermen call thee,
               'He has him!' Oh, hearken!
               The sight will distress them
                 That through them will pass[b]!"

    Cuchulain: "In danger's gap fallen,
               At hand is thy life's term;
               On thee plied be weapons,
                 Not gentle the skill!
               One champion will slay thee;
               We both will encounter;
               No more shalt lead forays,
                 [3]From this day till Doom!"[3]

      Ferdiad: [W.3457.] "Avaunt with thy warnings,
               Thou world's greatest braggart;
               Nor guerdon nor pardon,
                 [1]Low warrior for thee![1]
               'Tis I that well know thee,
               Thou heart of a cageling
               This lad merely tickles--
                 Without skill or force!"

    Cuchulain: "When we were with Scathach,
               For wonted arms training,
               Together we'd fare forth,
                 To seek every fight.
               Thou wast my heart's comrade.
               My clan and my kinsman;
               Ne'er found I one dearer;
                 Thy loss would be sad!"

      Ferdiad: [LL.fo.84a.] "Thou wager'st thine honour
               Unless we do battle;
               Before the cock croweth,
                 Thy head on a spit!
               Cuchulain of Cualnge,
               Mad frenzy hath seized thee
               All ill we'll wreak on thee,
                 For thine is the sin!"

    [4-4] YBL. 39a. 14.

    [a] That is, King Conchobar.

    [1-1] A line has dropped out here in the MS., and cannot be
    reconstructed, since the stanza is found only in LL. For this reason
    the meaning of the following line is uncertain.

    [2-2] Reading with YBL. 39a, 34.

    [B] Literally, 'it will go over and through them!'

    [3-3] Translating from YBL. fo. 39a, 41.

    [1-1] Literally, '(For) thou art not a bush (i.e. a hero) over a bush

"Come now, O Ferdiad," cried Cuchulain, "not meet was it for thee to come
to contend and do battle with me, because of the instigation and
intermeddling of Ailill and Medb, [2]and because of the false promises that
they made thee. Because of their deceitful terms and of the maiden have
many good men been slain.[2] And all that came [3]because of those promises
of deceit,[3] neither profit nor success did it bring them, and they have
fallen by me. And none the more, [4]O Ferdiad,[4] shall it win victory or
increase of fame for thee; and, [5]as they all fell,[5] shalt thou too fall
by my hand!" Thus he spake, [W.3486.] and he further uttered these words
and Ferdiad hearkened to him:--

    "Come not nigh me, noble chief,
    Ferdiad, comrade, Daman's son.
    Worse for thee than 'tis for me;
    Thou'lt bring sorrow to a host!

    "Come not nigh me 'gainst all right;
    Thy last bed is made by me.
    Why shouldst thou alone escape
    From the prowess of my arms?

    "Shall not great feats thee undo,
    Though thou'rt purple, horny-skinned?
    And the maid thou boastest of,
    Shall not, Daman's son, be thine!

    "Finnabair, Medb's daughter fair,
    Great her charms though they may be,
    Fair as is the damsel's form,
    She's for thee not to enjoy!

    "Finnabair, the king's own child,
    Is the lure, if truth be told;
    Many they whom she's deceived
    And undone as she has thee!

    "Break not, weetless, oath with me;
    Break not friendship, break not bond;
    Break not promise, break not word;
    Come not nigh me, noble chief!

    "Fifty chiefs obtained in plight
    This same maid, a proffer vain.
    Through me went they to their graves;
    Spear-right all they had from me!

    "Though for brave was held Ferbaeth,
    With whom was a warriors' train,
    In short space I quelled his rage;
    Him I slew with one sole blow!

    "Srubdarè--sore sank his might--
    Darling of the noblest dames,
    Time there was when great his fame--
    Gold nor raiment saved him not!

    "Were she mine affianced wife,
    Smiled on me this fair land's head,[a]
    I would not thy body hurt.
    Right nor left, in front, behind!"

    [2-2] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [3-3] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [5-5] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [a] That is, Queen Medb.

[W.3527.] "Good, O Ferdiad!" cried Cuchulain. [1]A pity it is for thee to
abandon my alliance and my friendship for the sake of a woman that has been
trafficked to fifty other warriors before thee, and it would be long before
I would forsake thee for that woman.[1] Therefore, it is not right for thee
to come to fight and combat with me; for when we were with Scathach and
with Uathach and with Aifè, [2]we were together in practice of valour and
arms of the world, and[2] it was together we were used to seek out every
battle and every battle-field, every combat and every contest, every wood
and every desert, every covert and every recess." And thus he spake and he
uttered these words:--

    Cuchulain: "We were heart-companions once;
                We were comrades in the woods;
                We were men that shared a bed,
                When we slept the heavy sleep,
                After hard and weary fights.
                Into many lands, so strange,
                Side by side we sallied forth,
                And we ranged the woodlands through,
                When with Scathach we learned arms!"

       Ferdiad: "O Cuchulain, rich in feats,
                Hard the trade we both have learned;
                Treason hath o'ercome our love;
                Thy first wounding hath been bought;
                Think not of our friendship more,
                Cua, it avails thee not!"

    [1-1] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 106 and Eg. 209.

    [2-2] Stowe, and, similarly, Eg. 106 and Eg. 209.

"Too long are we now in this way," quoth Ferdiad; "and what arms shall we
resort to to-day, O Cuchulain?" "With thee is thy choice of weapons this
day till night time," answered Cuchulain, "for thou art he that first didst
reach the ford." "Rememberest thou at all," asked Ferdiad, "the choice
deeds of arms we were wont to practise with Scathach and with Uathach and
with Aifè?" "Indeed, and I do remember," answered Cuchulain. "If thou
rememberest, let us begin [3]with them."[3]

    [3-3] Stowe.

[W.3555.] They betook them to their choicest deeds of arms. They took upon
them two equally-matched shields for feats, and their eight-edged targes
for feats, and their eight small darts, and their eight straightswords with
ornaments of walrus-tooth and their eight lesser, ivoried spears which flew
from them and to them like bees [LL.fo.84b.] on a day of fine weather.

They cast no weapon that struck not. Each of them was busy casting at
the other with those missiles from morning's early twilight till noon at
mid-day, the while they overcame their various feats with the bosses and
hollows of their feat-shields. However great the excellence of the throwing
on either side, equally great was the excellence of the defence, so that
during all that time neither of them bled or reddened the other. "Let us
cease now from this bout of arms, O Cuchulain," said Ferdiad; "for it is
not by such our decision will come." "Yea, surely, let us cease, if the
time hath come," answered Cuchulain. [1]Then[1] they ceased. They threw
their feat-tackle from them into the hands of their charioteers.

"To what weapons shall we resort next, O Cuchulain?" asked Ferdiad. "Thine
is the choice of weapons till nightfall," replied Cuchulain; "for thou art
he that didst first reach the ford." "Let us begin, then," said Ferdiad,
"with our straight-cut, smooth-hardened throwing-spears, with cords of
full-hard flax on them." "Aye, let us begin then," assented Cuchulain. Then
they took on them two hard shields, equally strong. They fell to their
straight-cut, smooth-hardened spears with cords of full-hard flax on them.
Each of them was engaged in casting at the other with the spears from the
middle of noon [2]till yellowness came over the sun[2] at the hour of
evening's sundown. However great the excellence of the defence, equally
great was the excellence of the throwing on either side, so that [W.3578.]
each of them bled and reddened and wounded the other during that time.
[1]"Wouldst thou fain make a truce, O Cucugan?"[a] asked Ferdiad. "It would
please me," replied Cuchulain; "for whoso begins with arms has the right to
desist."[1] "Let us leave off from this now, O Cuchulain," said Ferdiad.
"Aye, let us leave off, an the time hath come," answered Cuchulain. So they
ceased. They threw their arms from them into the hands of their

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] H. 2. 12.

    [1-1] H. 2. 12.

    [a] See note, page 185.

Thereupon each of them went toward the other [2]in the middle of the
ford,[2] and each of them put his hand on the other's neck and gave him
three kisses [3]in remembrance of his fellowship and friendship.[3] Their
horses were in one and the same paddock that night, and their charioteers
at one and the same fire; and their charioteers made ready a litter-bed of
fresh rushes for them with pillows for wounded men on them. Then came
healing and curing folk to heal and to cure them, and they laid healing
herbs and grasses and a curing charm on their cuts and stabs, their gashes
and many wounds. Of every healing herb and grass and curing charm that
[4]was brought from the fairy dwellings of Erin to Cuchulain and[4] was
applied to the cuts and stabs, to the gashes and many wounds of Cuchulain,
a like portion thereof he sent across the ford westward to Ferdiad, [5]to
put to his wounds and his pools of gore,[5] so that the men of Erin should
not have it to say, should Ferdiad fall at his hands, it was more than his
share of care had been given to him.

    [2-2] H. 2. 12.

    [3-3] H. 2. 12.

    [4-4] H. 2. 12.

    [5-5] H. 2. 12.

Of every food and of every savoury, soothing and strong drink that was
brought by the men of Erin to Ferdiad, a like portion thereof he sent over
the ford northwards to Cuchulain; for the purveyors of Ferdiad were more
numerous than the purveyors of Cuchulain. All the men of Erin were
purveyors to Ferdiad, to the end that he might keep [W.3598.] Cuchulain off
from them. But only the inhabitants of Mag Breg ('the Plain of Breg') were
purveyors to Cuchulain.  They were wont to come daily, that is, every
night, to converse with him.

They bided there that night. Early on the morrow they arose and went their
ways to the ford of combat. "To what weapons shall we resort on this day, O
Ferdiad?"  asked Cuchulain. [LL.fo.85a.] "Thine is the choosing of weapons
till night time," Ferdiad made answer, "because it was I had my choice of
weapons on the day aforegone." "Let us take, then," said Cuchulain, "to our
great, well-tempered lances to-day, for we think that the thrusting will
bring nearer the decisive battle to-day than did the casting of yesterday.
Let our horses be brought to us and our chariots yoked, to the end that we
engage in combat over our horses and chariots on this day."  "Aye, let us
go so," Ferdiad assented. Thereupon they girded two full-firm broad-shields
on them for that day. They took to their great, well-tempered lances on
that day. Either of them began to pierce and to drive, to throw and to
press down the other, from early morning's twilight till the hour of
evening's close. If it were the wont for birds in flight to fly through the
bodies of men, they could have passed through their bodies on that day and
carried away pieces of blood and flesh through their wounds and their sores
into the clouds and the air all around. And when the hour of evening's
close was come, their horses were spent and their drivers were wearied, and
they themselves, the heroes and warriors of valour, were exhausted. "Let us
give over now, O Ferdiad," said Cuchulain, "for our horses are spent and
our drivers tired, and when they are exhausted, why should we too not be
exhausted?" And in this wise he spake, and he uttered these words at that

    "We need not our chariots break--
    This, a struggle fit for giants.

    [W.3626.] Place the hobbles on the steeds,
    Now that din of arms is o'er!"

"Yea, we will cease, if the time hath come," replied Ferdiad. They ceased
[1]then.[1] They threw their arms away from them into the hands of their
charioteers. Each of them came towards his fellow. Each laid his hand on
the other's neck and gave him three kisses. Their horses were in the one
pen that night, and their charioteers at the one fire. Their charioteers
prepared [2]two[2] litter-beds of fresh rushes for them with pillows for
wounded men on them. The curing and healing men came to attend and watch
and mark them that night; for naught else could they do, because of the
direfulness of their cuts and their stabs, their gashes and their numerous
wounds, but apply to them philtres and spells and charms, to staunch their
blood and their bleeding and their deadly pains. Of every magic potion and
every spell and every charm that was applied to the cuts and stabs of
Cuchulain, their like share he sent over the ford westwards to Ferdiad. Of
every food and every savoury, soothing and strong drink that was brought
by the men of Erin to Ferdiad, an equal portion he sent over the ford
northwards to Cuchulain, for the victuallers of Ferdiad were more numerous
than the victuallers of Cuchulain. For all the men of Erin were Ferdiad's
nourishers, to the end that he might ward off Cuchulain from them. But the
indwellers of the Plain of Breg alone were Cuchulain's nourishers. They
were wont to come daily, that is, every night, to converse with him.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

They abode there that night. Early on the morrow they arose and repaired to
the ford of combat. Cuchulain marked an evil mien and a dark mood that day
[3]beyond every other day[3] on Ferdiad. "It is evil thou appearest to-day,
O Ferdiad," spake Cuchulain; "thy hair has [W.3653.] become dark[a] to-day,
and thine eye has grown drowsy, and thine upright form [LL.fo.85b.] and thy
features and thy gait have gone from thee!" "Truly not for fear nor for
dread of thee is that happened to me to-day," answered Ferdiad; "for there
is not in Erin this day a warrior I could not repel!" [1]"Alas, O Ferdiad,"
said Cuchulain, "a pity it is for thee to oppose thy foster-brother and thy
comrade and friend, on the counsel of any woman in the world!"  "A pity it
is, O Cuchulain," Ferdiad responded. "But, should I part without a struggle
with thee, I should be in ill repute forever with Medb and with the nobles
of the four grand provinces of Erin." "A pity it is, O Ferdiad," said
Cuchulain; "not on the counsel of all the men and women in the world would
I desert thee or would I do thee harm.  And almost would it make a clot of
gore of my heart to be combating with thee!"[1]

    [3-3] Eg. 209 and Eg. 106.

    [a] An unusual colour of the hair betokened misfortune.

    [1-1] Eg. 106.

And Cuchulain lamented and moaned, and he spake these words and Ferdiad

    Cuchulain: "Ferdiad, ah, if it be thou,
               Well I know thou'rt doomed to die!
               To have gone at woman's hest,
               Forced to fight thy comrade sworn!"

      Ferdiad: "O Cuchulain--wise decree--
               Loyal champion, hero true,
               Each man is constrained to go
               'Neath the sod that hides his grave!"

    Cuchulain: "Finnabair, Medb's daughter fair,
               Stately maiden though she be,
               Not for love they'll give to thee,
               But to prove thy kingly might!"

      Ferdiad: "Provèd was my might long since,
               Cu of gentle spirit thou.
               Of one braver I've not heard;
               Till to-day I have not found!"

    Cuchulain: "Thou art he provoked this fight,
               Son of Daman, Darè's son,
               To have gone at woman's word,
               Swords to cross with thine old friend!"

      Ferdiad: [W.3679.] "Should we then unfought depart,
               Brothers though we are, bold Hound,
               Ill would be my word and fame
               With Ailill and Cruachan's Medb!"

    Cuchulain: "Food has not yet passed his lips,
               Nay nor has he yet been born,
               Son of king or blameless queen,
               For whom I would work thee harm!"

      Ferdiad: "Culann's Hound, with floods of deeds,
               Medb, not thou, hath us betrayed;
               Fame and victory thou shalt have;
               Not on thee we lay our fault!"

    Cuchulain: "Clotted gore is my brave heart,
               Near I'm parted from my soul;
               Wrongful 'tis--with hosts of deeds--
               Ferdiad, dear, to fight with thee!"

[1]After this colloquy, Ferdiad spake:[1] "How much soever thou findest
fault with me to-day," said Ferdiad, [2]"for my ill-boding mien and evil
doing, it will be as an offset to my prowess." And he said,[2] "To what
weapons shall we resort to-day?" "With thyself is the choice of weapons
to-day till night time," replied Cuchulain, "for it is I that chose on
the day gone by." "Let us resort, then," said Ferdiad, "to our heavy,
hard-smiting swords this day, for we trow that the smiting each other will
bring us nearer to the decision of battle to-day than was our piercing each
other on yesterday." "Let us go then, by all means," responded Cuchulain.

    [1-1] Stowe, Eg. 106.

    [2-2] Eg. 106.

Then they took two full-great long-shields upon them for that day. They
turned to their heavy, hard-smiting swords. Each of them fell to strike and
to hew, to lay low and cut down, to slay and undo [3]his fellow,[3] till as
large as the head of a month-old child was each lump and each cut, [4]each
clutter and each clot of gore[4] that each of them took from the shoulders
and thighs and shoulder-blades of the other.

    [3-3] Stowe, Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Eg. 106.

[W.3708.] Each of them was engaged in smiting the other in this way from
the twilight of early morning till the hour of evening's close. "Let us
leave off from this now, O Cuchulain!" cried Ferdiad. "Aye, let us leave
off, if the hour has come," said Cuchulain. They parted [1]then, and[1]
threw their arms away from them into the hands of their charioteers. Though
it had been the meeting of two happy, blithe, cheerful, joyful men, their
parting that night was of two that were sad, sorrowful and full of
suffering. [2]They parted without a kiss a blessing or aught other sign of
friendship, and their servants disarmed the steeds, the squires and the
heroes; no healing or curing herbs were sent from Cuchulain to Ferdiad that
night, and no food nor drink was brought from Ferdiad to him.[2] Their
horses were not in the same paddock that night. Their charioteers were not
at the same fire.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] H. 2. 12.

They passed there that night. It was then that Ferdiad arose early on the
morrow and went alone to the ford of combat, [3]and dauntless, vengeful and
mighty was the man that went thither that day, even Ferdiad son of
Daman.[3] For he knew that that would be the decisive day of the battle and
combat; and he knew that one or other of them would fall there that day, or
that they both would fall.  It was then he donned his battle-weed of battle
and fight and combat, [LL.fo.86a.] or ever Cuchulain came to meet him. And
thus was the manner of this harness of battle and fight and combat: He put
his silken, glossy trews with its border of speckled gold, next to his
white skin. Over this, outside, he put his brown-leathern, well-sewed
kilt. Outside of this he put a huge, goodly flag, the size of a millstone,
[4]the shallow (?) stone of adamant which he had brought from Africa and
which neither points nor edges could pierce.[4] He put his solid, very
deep, iron kilt of twice molten iron over the huge, goodly flag as large as
a millstone, through [W.3730.] fear and dread of the Gae Bulga on that
day. About his head he put his crested war-cap of battle and fight and
combat, whereon were forty carbuncle-gems beautifully adorning it and
studded with red-enamel and crystal and rubies and with [1]shining
stones[1] of the Eastern world.  His angry, fierce-striking spear he seized
in his right hand. On his left side he hung his curved battle-falchion,
[2]which would cut a hair against the stream with its keenness and
sharpness,[2] with its golden pommel and its rounded hilt of red gold. On
the arch-slope of his back he slung his massive, fine-buffalo shield [3]of
a warrior,[3] whereon were fifty bosses, wherein a boar could be shown in
each of its bosses, apart from the great central boss of red gold. Ferdiad
performed divers, brilliant, manifold, marvellous feats on high that day,
unlearned from any one before, neither from foster-mother nor from
foster-father, neither from Scathach nor from Uathach nor from Aifè, but he
found them of himself that day in the face of Cuchulain.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Eg. 209.

    [1-1] Reading with Egerton 106, which gives better sense than LL.'s
    'brilliant plants.'

    [2-2] Eg. 209.

    [3-3] Stowe and Eg. 209.

Cuchulain likewise came to the ford, and he beheld the various, brilliant,
manifold, wonderful feats that Ferdiad performed on high. "Thou seest
yonder, O Laeg my master, the divers, bright, numerous, marvellous feats
that Ferdiad performs on high, and I shall receive yon feats one after the
other, and, therefore, [4]O Laeg," cried Cuchulain,[4] "if defeat be my lot
this day, do thou prick me on and taunt me and speak evil to me, so that
the more my spirit and anger shall rise in me. If, however, before me his
defeat takes place, say thou so to me and praise me and speak me fair, to
the end that the greater may be my courage!" "It shall surely be done so,
if need be, O Cucuc," Laeg answered.

    [4-4] Stowe.

Then Cuchulain, too, girded his war-harness of battle and [W.3757.] fight
and combat about him, and performed all kinds of splendid, manifold,
marvellous feats on high that day which he had not learned from any one
before, neither with Scathach nor with Uathach nor with Aifè.

Ferdiad observed those feats, and he knew they would be plied against him
in turn. "To what weapons shall we resort [1]to-day[1], O Ferdiad?" asked
Cuchulain. "With thee is thy choice of weapons till night time," Ferdiad
responded. "Let us go to the 'Feat of the Ford,' then," said Cuchulain.
"Aye, let us do so," answered Ferdiad. Albeit Ferdiad spoke that, he deemed
it the most grievous thing whereto he could go, for he knew that in that
sort Cuchulain used to destroy every hero and every battle-soldier who
fought with him in the 'Feat of the Ford.'

    [1-1] Stowe.

Great indeed was the deed that was done on the ford that day. The two
heroes, the two champions, the two chariot-fighters of the west of Europe,
the two bright torches of valour of the Gael, the two hands of dispensing
favour and of giving rewards [2]and jewels and treasures[2] in the west of
the northern world, [LL.fo.86b.] [3]the two veterans[3] of skill and the
two keys of bravery of the Gael, [4]the man for quelling the variance and
discord of Connacht, the man for guarding the cattle and herds of
Ulster[4], to be brought together in encounter as from afar, [5]set to slay
each other or to kill one of them[5], through the sowing of dissension and
the incitement of Ailill and Medb.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Reading with Stowe.

    [4-4] Eg. 106.

    [5-5] Stowe and Eg. 106.

Each of them was busy hurling at the other in those deeds of arms from
early morning's gloaming till the middle of noon. When mid-day came, the
rage of the men became wild, and each drew nearer to the other.

Thereupon Cuchulain gave one spring once from the bank of the ford till he
stood upon the boss of Ferdiad macDaman's shield, seeking to reach his
head and to strike [W.3779.] it from above over the rim of the shield.
Straightway Ferdiad gave the shield a blow with his left elbow, so that
Cuchulain went from him like a bird onto the brink of the ford. Again
Cuchulain sprang from the brink of the ford, so that he alighted upon the
boss of Ferdiad macDaman's shield, that he might reach his head and strike
it over the rim of the shield from above. Ferdiad gave the shield a thrust
with his left knee, so that Cuchulain went from him like an infant onto the
bank of the ford.

Laeg espied that. "Woe then, [1]O Cuchulain!"[1] cried Laeg; [2]"meseems[2]
the battle-warrior that is against thee hath shaken thee as a fond woman
shakes her child. He hath washed thee as a cup is washed in a tub. He hath
ground thee as a mill grinds soft malt. He hath pierced thee as a tool
bores through an oak. He hath bound thee as the bindweed binds the trees.
He hath pounced on thee as a hawk pounces on little birds, so that no more
hast thou right or title or claim to valour or skill in arms till the very
day of doom and of life, thou little imp of an elf-man!" cried Laeg.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

Thereat for the third time, Cuchulain arose with the speed of the wind, and
the swiftness of a swallow, and the dash of a dragon, and the strength (of
a lion) [3]into the clouds[3] of the air, till he alighted on the boss of
the shield of Ferdiad son of Daman, so as to reach his head that he might
strike it from above over the rim of his shield. Then it was that the
battle-warrior gave the shield a [4]violent and powerful[4] shake, so that
Cuchulain flew from it into the middle of the ford, the same as if he had
not sprung at all.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

It was then the first twisting-fit of Cuchulain took place, so that a
swelling and inflation filled him like breath in a bladder, until he made a
dreadful, terrible, many-coloured, wonderful bow of himself, so that as big
as a giant or a man [W.3805.] of the sea was the hugely-brave warrior
towering directly over Ferdiad.

Such was the closeness of the combat they made, that their heads
encountered above and their feet below and their hands in the middle over
the rims and bosses of the shields.

Such was the closeness of the combat they made, that their shields burst
and split from their rims to their centres.

Such was the closeness of the combat they made, that their spears bent and
turned and shivered from their tips to their rivets.

Such was the closeness of the combat they made, that the boccanach and the
bananach ('the puck-faced Fays' and 'the white-faced Fays') and the sprites
of the glens and the eldritch beings of the air screamed from the rims of
their shields and from the guards of their swords and from the tips of
their spears.

Such was the closeness of the combat they made, that they forced the river
out of its bed and out of its course, so that there might have been a
reclining place [LL.fo.87a.] for a king or a queen in the middle of the
ford, and not a drop of water was in it but what fell there with the
trampling and slipping which the two heroes and the two battle-warriors
made in the middle of the ford.

Such was the closeness of the combat they made, that the steeds of the Gael
broke loose affrighted and plunging with madness and fury, so that their
chains and their shackles, their traces and tethers snapped, and the women
and children and pygmy-folk, the weak and the madmen among the men of Erin
brake out through the camp south-westward.

At that time they were at the edge-feat of swords. It was then Ferdiad
caught Cuchulain in an unguarded moment, and he gave him a thrust with his
tusk-hilted blade, so that he buried it in his breast, and his blood fell
into his belt, [W.3831.] till the ford became crimsoned with the clotted
blood from the battle-warrior's body. Cuchulain endured it not, under
Ferdiad's attack, with his death-bringing, heavy blows, and his long
strokes and his mighty, middle slashes at him.

[1]Then Cuchulain bethought him of his friends from Faery and of his mighty
folk who would come to defend him and of his scholars to protect him, what
time he would be hard pressed in the combat. It was then that Dolb and
Indolb arrived to help and to succour their friend, namely Cuchulain,
[2]and one of them went on either side of him and they smote Ferdiad, the
three of them, and Ferdiad did not perceive the men from Sid ('the Faery
Dwelling')[2]. Then it was that Ferdiad felt the onset of the three
together smiting his shield against him, and he gave all his care and
attention thereto, and thence he called to mind that, when they were with
Scathach and with Uathach [3]learning together, Dolb and Indolb used to
come to help Cuchulain out of every stress wherein he was.[3] Ferdiad
spake: "Not alike are our foster-brothership and our comradeship, O
Cuchulain," quoth he. "How so, then?" asked Cuchulain. "Thy friends of the
Fairy-folk have succoured thee, and thou didst not disclose them to me
before," said Ferdiad. "Not easy for me were that," answered Cuchulain;
"for if the magic veil be once revealed to one of the sons of Milè,[a] none
of the Tuatha De Danann ('the Folk of the Goddess Danu') will have power to
practise concealment or magic. And why complainest thou here, [4]O
Ferdiad?" said Cuchulain.[4] "Thou hast a horn skin whereby to multiply
feats and deeds of arms on me, and thou hast not shown me how it is closed
or how it is opened."

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13. Eg. 106 and Eg. 209.

    [2-2] Eg. 106.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Eg. 106.

    [a] That is, the Milesians, the ancestors of the Irish.

Then it was they displayed all their skill and secret cunning to one
another, so that there was not a secret of [W.3851.] either of them kept
from the other except the Gae Bulga, which was Cuchulain's. Howbeit, when
the Fairy friends found Cuchulain had been wounded, each of them inflicted
three great, heavy wounds on him, on Ferdiad, to wit.  It was then that
Ferdiad made a cast to the right, so that he slew Dolb with that goodly
cast. Then followed the two woundings and the two throws that overcame him,
till Ferdiad made a second throw towards Cuchulain's left, and with that
throw he stretched low and killed Indolb dead on the floor of the ford.
Hence it is that the story-teller sang the rann:--

    "Why is this called Ferdiad's Ford,
    E'en though three men on it fell?
    None the less it washed their spoils--
    It is Dolb's and Indolb's Ford!"

What need to relate further! When the devoted, equally great sires[a]
[2]and champions,[2] and the hard, battle-victorious wild beasts that
fought for Cuchulain had fallen, it greatly strengthened the courage of
Ferdiad, so that he gave two blows for every blow of Cuchulain's. When Laeg
son of Riangabair saw his lord being overcome by the crushing blows of the
champion who oppressed him, Laeg began to stir up and rebuke Cuchulain, in
such a way that a swelling and an inflation filled Cuchulain [3]from top to
ground,[3] as the wind fills a spread, open banner, so that he made a
dreadful, wonderful bow of himself like a sky-bow in a shower of rain, and
he made for Ferdiad with the violence of a dragon or the strength of a

    [1-1] See note 1, page 255.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

And Cuchulain called for the Gae Bulga from Laeg son of Riangabair. This
was its nature: With the stream it was made ready, and from between the
fork of the foot [a] Cuchulain was partly of divine birth, on one side the
son of Lugh lámh-fhada ('Lug long-hand'), the Irish sun-god; on the earthly
side he had also a mortal father, Sualtaim or Sualtach.] [W.3874.] it was
cast; the wound of a single spear it gave when entering the body, and
thirty[a] barbs had it when it opened, and it could not be drawn out of a
man's flesh till [1]the flesh[1] had been cut about it.

    [a] 'Twenty four,' YBL. 39b, 23, and Eg. 106; but 'five,' Eg. 209.

    [1-1] Stowe.

[2]Thereupon Laeg came forward to the brink of the river and to the place
where the fresh water was dammed, and the Gae Bulga was sharpened and set
in position. He filled the pool and stopped the stream and checked the tide
of the ford. Ferdiad's charioteer watched the work, for Ferdiad had said to
him early [3]in the morning:[3] "Now, gilla, do thou hold back Laeg
from me to-day, and I will hold back Cuchulain from thee [4]and thy men
forever."[4] "This is a pity," quoth the henchman; "no match for him am I;
for a man to combat a hundred is he [5]amongst the men of Erin,[5] and that
am I not. Still, however slight his help, it shall not come to his lord
past me."

    [2-2] Stowe, Eg. 106, Eg. 209.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Eg. 209.

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

[6]Thus were the henchmen: two brothers were they, namely, Id[b] son of
Riangabair, and Laeg[c] son of Riangabair.  As for Id son of Riangabair,[6]
he was then watching his brother [7]thus making the dam[7] till he filled
the pools and went to set the Gae Bulga downwards. It was then that Id went
up and released the stream and opened the dam and undid the fixing of the
Gae Bulga. Cuchulain became deep purple and red all over when he saw the
setting undone on the Gae Bulga. He sprang from the top of the ground so
that he alighted light and quick on the rim of Ferdiad's shield. Ferdiad
gave a [8]strong[8] shake to the shield, so that he hurled Cuchulain the
measure of nine paces out to the westward over the ford. Then Cuchulain
called and shouted to Laeg to set about preparing the Gae Bulga for him.
Laeg hastened to the pool and began the work. Id [W.3895.] ran and opened
the dam and released it before the stream.  Laeg sprang at his brother and
they grappled on the spot.  Laeg threw Id and handled him sorely, for he
was loath to use weapons upon him. Ferdiad pursued Cuchulain westwards over
the ford. Cuchulain sprang on the rim of the shield. Ferdiad shook the
shield, so that he sent Cuchulain the space of nine paces eastwards over
the ford. Cuchulain called and shouted to Laeg, [1]and bade him stop the
stream and make ready the spear.[1] Laeg attempted to come nigh it, but
Ferdiad's charioteer let him not, so that Laeg turned on him and left him
on the sedgy bottom of the ford. He gave him many a heavy blow with
clenched fist on the face and countenance, so that he broke his mouth and
his nose and put out his eyes and his sight, [3]and left him lying wounded
(?) and full of terror.[3] And forthwith Laeg left him and filled the pool
and checked the stream and stilled the noise of the river's voice, and set
in position the Gae Bulga. After some time Ferdiad's charioteer arose from
his death-cloud, and set his hand on his face and countenance, and he
looked away towards the ford of combat and saw Laeg fixing the Gae Bulga.
He ran again to the pool and made a breach in the dike quickly and
speedily, so that the river burst out in its booming, bounding, bellying,
bank-breaking billows making its own wild course. Cuchulain became purple
and red all over when he saw the setting of the Gae Bulga had been
disturbed, and for the third time he sprang from the top of the ground and
alighted on the edge of Ferdiad's shield, so as to strike him over the
shield from above. Ferdiad gave a blow with his left knee against the
leather of the bare shield, so that Cuchulain was thrown into the waves of
the ford.

    [6-6] Eg. 106.

    [b] Ferdiad's charioteer.

    [c] Cuchulain's charioteer.

    [7-7] Eg. 106.

    [8-8] Eg. 106.

    [1-1] Eg. 106.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

Thereupon Ferdiad gave three severe woundings to Cuchulain. Cuchulain cried
and shouted [4]loudly[4] to Laeg to make ready the Gae Bulga for him. Laeg
attempted to [W.3919.] get near it, but Ferdiad's charioteer prevented
him. Then Laeg grew [1]very[1] wroth [3]at his brother[3] and he made a
spring at him, and he closed his long, full-valiant hands over him, so that
he quickly threw him to the ground and straightway [4]bound[4] him. And
[5]then[5] he went from him quickly and courageously, so that he filled the
pool and stayed the stream and set the Gae Bulga. And he cried out to
Cuchulain that it was served, for it was not to be discharged without a
quick word of warning before it. Hence it is that Laeg cried out:--

    "Ware! beware the Gae Bulga,
    Battle-winning Culann's hound!" _et reliqua._

    [4-4] Eg. 106.

    [1-1] Eg. 106.

    [2-2] See note 2, page 257.

    [3-3] Eg. 106.

    [4-4] Reading with Eg. 106.

    [5-5] Eg. 106.

[6]And he sent it to Cuchulain along the stream.[6]

    [6-6] YBL. 39b, 20.

Then it was that Cuchulain let fly the white Gae Bulga from the fork of his
irresistible right foot. [7]Ferdiad began to defend the ford against
Cuchulain, so that the noble Cu arose with the swiftness of a swallow and
the wail of the storm-play in the rafters of the firmament, so that he laid
hold of the breadth of his two feet of the bed of the ford, in spite of the
champion.[7] Ferdiad prepared for the feat according to the testimony
thereof. He lowered his shield, so that the spear went over its edge into
the watery, water-cold river. And he looked at Cuchulain, and he saw all
his various, venomous feats made ready, and he knew not to which of them he
should first give answer, whether to the 'Fist's breast-spear,' or to the
'Wild shield's broad-spear,' or to the 'Short spear from the middle of the
palm,' or to the white Gae Bulga over the fair, watery river.[2]

    [7-7] Eg. 209.

[8]When Ferdiad saw that his gilla had been thrown[8] and heard the Gae
Bulga called for, he thrust his shield down to protect the lower part of
his body. Cuchulain gripped the short spear [9]which was in his hand,[9]
cast it [W.3938.] off the palm of his hand over the rim of the shield and
over the edge of the [1]corselet and[1] horn-skin, so that its farther half
was visible after piercing his heart in his bosom. Ferdiad gave a thrust of
his shield upwards to protect the upper part of his body, though it was
help that came too late.  The gilla set the Gae Bulga down the stream, and
Cuchulain caught it in the fork of his foot, and [2]when Ferdiad raised
his shield[2] Cuchulain threw the Gae Bulga as far as he could cast
[3]underneath[3] at Ferdiad, so that it passed through the strong, thick,
iron apron of wrought iron, and broke in three parts the huge, goodly stone
the size of a millstone, so that it cut its way through the body's
protection into him, till every joint and every limb was filled with its

    [8-8] Eg. 106.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe and Eg. 209.

    [3-3] Stowe and Eg. 209.

"Ah, that now sufficeth," sighed Ferdiad: "I am fallen of that! But, yet
one thing more: mightily didst thou drive with thy right foot. And 'twas
not fair of thee for me to fall by thy hand." And he yet spake and uttered
these words:--

    "O Cu of grand feats,
    Unfairly I'm slain!
    Thy guilt clings to me;
    My blood falls on thee!

    "No meed for the wretch[a]
    Who treads treason's gap.
    Now weak is my voice;
    Ah, gone is my bloom!

    "My ribs' armour bursts,
    My heart is all gore;
    I battled not well;
    I'm smitten, O Cu!

    [4]"Unfair, side by side,
    To come to the ford.
    'Gainst my noble ward[b]
    Hath Medb turned my hand!

    "There'll come rooks and crows
    To gaze on my arms,
    To eat flesh and blood.
    A tale, Cu, for thee!"[4]

    [a] Reading _taobh re taobh_.

    [b] Omitting _seng_; the line has a syllable too many in the original.

    [4-4] Eg. 106 (_Revue Celtique_, tome xi, p. 327).

[W.3964.] Thereupon Cuchulain hastened towards Ferdiad and clasped his two
arms about him, and bore him with all his arms and his armour and his dress
northwards over the ford, that so it should be [1]with his face[1] to the
north[a] of the ford the triumph took place and not to the west[b] of the
ford with the men of Erin. [LL.fo.87b.] Cuchulain laid Ferdiad there on the
ground, and a cloud and a faint and a swoon came over Cuchulain there by
the head of Ferdiad. Laeg espied it, and the men of Erin all arose for the
attack upon him. "Come, O Cucuc," cried Laeg; "arise now [2]from thy
trance,[2] for the men of Erin will come to attack us, and it is not single
combat they will allow us, now that Ferdiad son of Daman son of Darè is
fallen by thee." "What availeth it me to arise, O gilla," moaned Cuchulain,
"now that this one is fallen by my hand?" In this wise the gilla spake and
he uttered these words and Cuchulain responded:--

         Laeg: "Now arise, O Emain's Hound;
                Now most fits thee courage high.
                Ferdiad hast thou thrown--of hosts--
                God's fate! How thy fight was hard!"

    Cuchulain: "What avails me courage now?
                I'm oppressed with rage and grief,
                For the deed that I have done
                On his body sworded sore!"

         Laeg: "It becomes thee not to weep;
                Fitter for thee to exult!
                Yon red-speared one thee hath left
                Plaintful, wounded, steeped in gore!"

    Cuchulain: "Even had he cleaved my leg,
                And one hand had severed too;
                Woe, that Ferdiad--who rode steeds--
                Shall not ever be in life!"

         Laeg: [W.3993.] "Liefer far what's come to pass,
                To the maidens of Red Branch;
                He to die, thou to remain;
                They grudge not that ye should part!"

    Cuchulain: "From the day I Cualnge left,
                Seeking high and splendid Medb,
                Carnage has she had--with fame--
                Of her warriors whom I've slain!"

         Laeg: "Thou hast had no sleep in peace,
                In pursuit of thy great Táin;
                Though thy troop was few and small,
                Oft thou wouldst rise at early morn!"

    [1-1] Eg. 106.

    [a] That is, in Ulster. Stowe and Eg. 106 read '(with his face) to the

    [b] That is, in Connacht.

    [2-2] Stowe.

Cuchulain began to lament and bemoan Ferdiad, and he spake the words:

"Alas, O Ferdiad," [1]spake he,[1] "'twas thine ill fortune thou didst not
take counsel with any of those that knew my real deeds of valour and arms,
before we met in clash of battle!

    [1-1] Stowe.

"Unhappy for thee that Laeg son of Riangabair did not make thee blush in
regard to our comradeship!

"Unhappy for thee that the truly faithful warning of Fergus thou didst not

"Unhappy for thee that dear, trophied, triumphant, battle-victorious Conall
counselled thee not in regard to our comradeship!

[2]"For those men would not have spoken in obedience to the messages or
desires or orders or false words of promise of the fair-haired women of

"For well do those men know that there will not be born
a being that will perform deeds so tremendous and so great
[3]among the Connachtmen as I,[3] till the very day of doom
and of everlasting life, whether at handling of shield and
buckler, at plying of spear and sword, at playing at draughts
and chess, at driving of steeds and chariots."[2]

    [2-2] The order of these two paragraphs is that of Stowe; they are
    found in the reverse order in LL.

    [3-3] Reading with Stowe.

[4]And he spake these warm words, sadly, sorrowfully in praise of

    [4-4] Eg. 209.

[W.4022.] "There shall not be found the hand of a hero that will wound
warrior's flesh, like cloud-coloured Ferdiad!

[1]"There shall not be heard from the gap[a] the cry of red-mouthed Badb[b]
to the winged, shade-speckled flocks![1]

    [1-1] This difficult sentence is composed of two alliterating groups,
    which it is impossible to follow in the translation.]

    [a] That is, the battle breach.

    [b] That is, the fury of war and carnage which appeared in the form of
    a carrion crow.

"There shall not be one that will contend for Cruachan that will obtain
covenants equal to thine, till the very day of doom and of life
henceforward, O red-cheeked son of Daman!" said Cuchulain.

Then it was that Cuchulain arose and stood over Ferdiad: "Ah, Ferdiad,"
spake Cuchulain "greatly have the men of Erin deceived and abandoned thee,
to bring thee to contend and do battle [LL.fo.88a.] with me. For no easy
thing is it to contend and do battle with me on the Raid for the Kine of
Cualnge! [2]And yet, never before have I found combat that was so sore or
distressed me so as thy combat, save the combat with Oenfer Aifè,[c] mine
one own son."[2] Thus he spake, and he uttered these words:--

    "Ah, Ferdiad, betrayed to death.
    Our last meeting, oh, how sad!
    Thou to die, I to remain.
    Ever sad our long farewell!

    "When we over yonder dwelt
    With our Scathach, steadfast, true,
    This we thought till end of time,
    That our friendship ne'er would end!

    "Dear to me thy noble blush;
    Dear thy comely, perfect form;
    Dear thine eye, blue-grey and clear;
    Dear thy wisdom and thy speech!

    "Never strode to rending fight,
    Never wrath and manhood held,
    Nor slung shield across broad back,
    One like thee, Daman's red son!

    [W.4051.] "Never have I met till now,
    Since I Oenfer Aifè slew,
    One thy peer in deeds of arms,
    Never have I found, Ferdiad!

    "Finnabair, Medb's daughter fair,
    Beauteous, lovely though she be,
    As a gad round sand or stones,
    She was shown to thee, Ferdiad!"

    [2-2] Stowe, Eg. 106 and Eg. 209.

    [c] That is, Conlaech.

Then Cuchulain turned to gaze on Ferdiad. "Ah, my master Laeg," cried
Cuchulain, "now strip Ferdiad and take his armour and garments off him,
that I may see the brooch for the sake of which he entered on the combat
and fight [1]with me."[1] Laeg came up and stripped Ferdiad.  He took his
armour and garments off him and he saw the brooch [2]and he placed the
brooch in Cuchulain's hand,[2] and Cuchulain began to lament and complain
[3]over Ferdiad,[3] and he spake these words:--

    "Alas, golden brooch;
    Ferdiad of the hosts,
    O good smiter, strong,
    Victorious thy hand!

    "Thy hair blond and curled,
    A wealth fair and grand.
    Thy soft, leaf-shaped belt
    Around thee till death!

    "Our comradeship dear;
    Thy noble eye's gleam;
    Thy golden-rimmed shield;
    Thy sword,[a] treasures worth!

    [4]"Thy white-silver torque
    Thy noble arm binds.
    Thy chess-board worth wealth;
    Thy fair, ruddy cheek![4]

    "To fall by my hand,
    I own was not just!
    'Twas no noble fight.
    Alas, golden brooch!

    [1]"Thy death at Cu's hand
    Was dire, O dear calf![a]
    Unequal the shield
    Thou hadst for the strife!

    "Unfair was our fight,
    Our woe and defeat!
    Fair the great chief;
    Each host overcome
    And put under foot!
    Alas, golden brooch!"[1]

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [a] Reading with YBL. 39b, 31, as more intelligible than the
    'chess-board' of LL., which occurs in the next stanza.

    [4-4] YBL. 39b, 31-33.

    [1-1] YBL. 39b, 35-39.

    [a] A term of endearment which survives in Modern Irish.

[W.4092.] "Come, O Laeg my master," cried Cuchulain; "now cut open Ferdiad
and take the Gae Bulga out, because I may not be without my weapons." Laeg
came and cut open Ferdiad and he took the Gae Bulga out of him. And
Cuchulain saw his weapons bloody and red-stained by the side of Ferdiad,
and he uttered these words:--

    "O Ferdiad, in gloom we meet.
    Thee I see both red and pale.
    I myself with unwashed arms;
    Thou liest in thy bed of gore!

    "Were we yonder in the East,
    Scathach and our Uathach near,
    There would not be pallid lips
    Twixt us two, and arms of strife!

    "Thus spake Scathach trenchantly (?),
    Words of warning, strong and stern:
    'Go ye all to furious fight;
    German, blue-eyed, fierce will come!'

    "Unto Ferdiad then I spake,
    And to Lugaid generous,
    To the son of fair Baetan,[b]
    German we would go to meet!

    "We came to the battle-rock,
    Over Lake Linn Formait's shore.
    And four hundred men we brought[c]
    From the Isles of the Athissech!

    "As I stood and Ferdiad brave
    At the gate of German's fort,
    [LL.fo.88b.] I slew Rinn the son of Nel;
    He slew Ruad son of Fornel!

    [W.4122.] "Ferdiad slew upon the slope
    Blath, of Colba 'Red-sword' son.
    Lugaid, fierce and swift, then slew
    Mugairne of the Tyrrhene Sea!

    "I slew, after going in,
    Four times fifty grim, wild men.
    Ferdiad killed--a furious horde--
    Dam Dremenn and Dam Dilenn!

    "We laid waste shrewd German's fort
    O'er the broad, bespangled sea.
    German we brought home alive
    To our Scathach of broad shield!

    "Then our famous nurse made fast
    Our blood-pact[a] of amity,
    That our angers should not rise
    'Mongst the tribes of noble Elg!

    "Sad the morn, a day in March,
    Which struck down weak Daman's son.
    Woe is me, the friend is fall'n
    Whom I pledged in red blood's draught![a]

    "Were it there I saw thy death,
    Midst the great Greeks' warrior-bands,
    I'd not live on after thee,
    But together we would die!

    "Woe, what us befel therefrom,
    Us, dear Scathach's fosterlings,
    Me sore wounded, red with blood,
    Thee no more to drive thy car!

    "Woe, what us befel therefrom,
    Us, dear Scathach's fosterlings,
    Me sore wounded, stiff with gore,
    Thee to die the death for aye!

    "Woe, what us befel therefrom,
    Us, dear Scathach's fosterlings,
    Thee in death, me, strong, alive.
    Valour is an angry strife!"

    [b] That is, Ferbaeth.

    [c] That is, as prisoners.

    [a] Referring to the Celtic custom of binding an alliance by each of
    the parties thereto drinking the blood of the other.

"Good, O Cucuc," spake Laeg, "let us leave this ford now; too long are we
here!" "Aye, let us leave it, O my master Laeg," replied Cuchulain. "But
every combat and battle I have fought seems a game and a sport to me
compared with the combat and battle of Ferdiad." Thus he spake, and he
uttered these words:--

    [W.4164.] "All was play, all was sport,
    Till came Ferdiad to the ford!
      One task for both of us,
        Equal our reward.
        Our kind, gentle nurse
        Chose him over all!

    "All was play, all was sport,
    Till came Ferdiad to the ford!
      One our life, one our fear,
        One our skill in arms.
        Shields gave Scathach twain
        To Ferdiad and me!

    "All was play, all was sport,
    Till came Ferdiad to the ford!
      Dear the shaft of gold[a]
        I smote on the ford.
        Bull-chief of the tribes,
        Braver he than all!

    "Only games and only sport,
    Till came Ferdiad to the ford!
    Lion, furious, flaming, fierce;
    Swollen wave that wrecks like doom!

    "Only games and only sport,
    Till came Ferdiad to the ford!
    Lovèd Ferdiad seemed to me
    After me would live for aye!
    Yesterday, a mountain's size--
    He is but a shade to-day!

    "Three things countless on the Táin
    Which have fallen by my hand:
    Hosts of cattle, men and steeds,
    I have slaughtered on all sides!

    "Though the hosts were e'er so great,
    That came out of Cruachan wild,
    More than third and less than half,
    Slew I in my direful sport!

    "Never trod in battle's ring;
    Banba[b] nursed not on her breast;
    Never sprang from sea or land,
    King's son that had larger fame!"

    [a] That is, Ferdiad.

    [b] An old name for Ireland.

Thus far [1]the Combat of Ferdiad with Cuchulain[1] and the Tragical Death
of Ferdiad.

    [1-1] Stowe and Eg. 209.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 268]



[2]Now while the hosts proceeded from Ath Firdead ('Ferdiad's Ford')
southwards, Cuchulain lay in his sickbed in that place.[2] [LL.fo.89a.]
Then came certain men of the Ulstermen thither to help and succour
Cuchulain. [W.4205.] [3]Before all,[3] Senoll Uathach and the two sons of
Gegè: Muridach and Cotreb, to wit. And they bore him to the streams and
rivers of Conalle Murthemni, to rub and to wash his stabs and his cuts, his
sores and his many wounds in the face of these streams and rivers. For the
Tuatha De Danann ('the Tribes divine of Danu') were wont to put herbs and
plants of healing and a curing charm in the waters and rivers of the
territory of Conalle Murthemni, to help and to succour Cuchulain, so that
the streams were speckled and green-topped therewith.

    [1-1] This sub-title is supplied by Windisch.

    [2-2] YBL. 40a, 1-2.

    [3-3] YBL. 40a, 3.

Accordingly these are the names of the healing rivers of Cuchulain:--

Sas, Buan, [4]Buas,[4] Bithslan, Findglas ('Whitewater'), Gleoir,
Glenamain, Bedg, Tadg, Telameit, Rind, Bir, Brenidè, Dichaem, Muach,
Miliuc, Cumung, Cuilind, Gainemain, Drong, Delt, Dubglas ('Blackwater').

    [4-4] Stowe.

[5]Then was the grave of Ferdiad dug by the men of Erin and his funeral
games were held.[5]

    [5-5] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 269]



[2]While now Cuchulain went to bathe in the waters, the hosts went by to
the south till they pitched camp at Imorach Smiromrach ('Edge of the
Marrow-bath').[2] [W.4238.] Then said the men of Erin to macRoth the
chief runner, to go watch and keep guard for them at Sliab Fuait, to the
end that the Ulstermen might not come upon them without warning and
unobserved. Thereupon macRoth went [3]from the host southwards[3] as far as
Sliab Fuait [4]to spy out the men of Ulster, to learn if any one came after
them.[4] MacRoth was not long there when he saw something: a lone chariot
on Sliab Fuait making from the north straight towards him. A fierce man,
stark-naked, in that chariot coming towards him, without arms, without
armour at all save an iron spit in his hand. In equal manner he goaded his
driver and his horses [5]at one and the same time.[5] And it seemed to him
that he would never in his life come up to the hosts. And macRoth hastened
to tell this news [6]at the fort[6] where Ailill and Medb and Fergus were
and the nobles of the men of Erin. Ailill asked tidings of him on his
arrival. "Aye, macRoth," inquired Ailill; "hast thou seen any of the
Ulstermen on the track of the host this day?" "That, truly, I know not,"
answered macRoth; "but I saw something: a lone chariot coming over Sliab
Fuait [W.4252.] [1]from the north[1] straight towards us. A [2]white,
grey,[2] wild, stark-naked man in the chariot, without arms or armour at
all, except for an iron spit in his hand. In equal manner he prodded his
driver and his steeds. It seemed to him he would never in his life come up
to the host. [3]A brindled greyhound before him."[3] "Who, thinkest thou,
might it be, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. [4]"Is it Conchobar or Celtchar?"[4]
"Of a truth, [5]that is not likely,"[5] Fergus answered; "meseems it is
Cethern son of [6]generous, red-edged[6] Fintan [7]from Linè in the
north[7] that came there. [8]And if so it be, ye shall be on your guard
against him!"[8] Fergus indeed spoke true, that it was Fintan's son Cethern
that was come there. And so Cethern son of Fintan came on them, and the
camp and the garrison were confounded and he wounded all around him in
every direction and on all sides [9]and they wounded him in like manner.[9]
And then [10]Cethern[10] left them, [11]and it was thus he went, and the
front-guard of the chariot pressed up against his belly to keep his
entrails and vitals within him,[11] [12]and his intestines were wound about
his legs.[12] He came to the place where was Cuchulain, to be healed and
cured, and he demanded a leech of Cuchulain to heal and to cure him.
[13]Cuchulain had compassion on his wounds;[13] [14] a bed of fresh rushes
was made for him and a pillow set to it.[14] "Come, master Laeg!" cried
Cuchulain. [15]"Arise,[15] away with thee to the garrison and camp of the
men of Erin and summon [LL.fo.89.] the leeches to come out to cure Cethern
macFintain. I give my word, e'en though it be under the [W.4270.] ground or
in a well-shut house they are, I myself will bring death and destruction
and slaughter upon them before this hour to-morrow, if they come not [1]to
minister to Cethern."[1]

    [1-1] This heading is taken from the colophon of the episode.

    [2-2] YBL. 40a, 9-12.

    [3-3] YBL. 40a, 12-13.

    [4-4] YBL. 40a, 12-14.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe, and YBL. 41a, 10.

    [2-2] YBL. 41a, 11.

    [3-3] YBL. 41a, 15.

    [4-4] YBL. 40a, 17.

    [5-5] YBL. 40a, 17.

    [6-6] YBL. 40a, 18.

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe and YBL. 41a, 10.

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] I have translated from the more circumstantial account in
    Stowe. LL. has, simply, 'his entrails and bowels outside on him.'

    [12-12] YBL. 40a, 21.

    [13-13] YBL. 40a, 22.

    [14-14] YBL. 40a, 23-24.

    [15-15] Stowe.

    [1-1] YBL. 40a, 29.

Laeg went his way to the quarters and camp of the men of Erin, and he
called upon the leeches of the men of Erin to go forth to cure Cethern son
of Fintan. Truth to tell, the leeches of the men of Erin were unwilling to
go cure their adversary, their enemy and their stranger-foe. But they
feared Cuchulain would work death and destruction and slaughter upon them
if they went not. And so they went. As one man of them [2]after the
other[2] came to him, Cethern son of Fintan showed him his stabs and his
cuts, his sores and his bloody wounds. [3]When the first leech that came
looked at him, "thou wilt not live," he declared. "Neither wilt thou for
this," replied Cethern.[3] Each man of them that said he would not live and
could not be healed, Cethern son of Fintan struck him a blow with his right
fist in the front of his forehead, so that he drove the brains out through
the windows of his ears and the seams of his skull. Howbeit Cethern son of
Fintan killed them till, by reason of him, there had come fifteen[a]
leeches of the leeches of the men of Erin, [4]as the historian hath
declared in proof thereof:--

    "These the leeches of the Táin,
    Who by Cethern--bane--did fall.
    No light thing, in floods of tribes,
    That their names are known to me:

    "Littè, Luaidren, known o'er sea,
    Lot and Luaimnech, 'White-hand' Lonn,
    Latheirnè skilful, also Lonn,
    Laisrè, Slanoll 'That cures all.'

    "Dubthach, Fintan's blameless son,
    Fintan, master Firfial, too,
    Mainè, Boethan 'Gives not pain,'
    Eke his pupil, Boethan's son.

    "These the leeches, five and ten,
    Struck to death by Cethern, true;
    I recall them in my day;
    They are in the leeches' roll!"[4]

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 40a, 31-33.

    [a] 'Fifty or fifteen,' YBL. 40a, 35.

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add. 18,748.

[W.4284.] Yea, even the fifteenth leech, it was but the tip of a blow that
reached him. Yet he fell lifeless of the great stun between the bodies of
the other physicians and lay there for a long space and time. Ithall, leech
of Ailill and Medb, was his name.

Thereafter Cethern son of Fintan asked another leech of Cuchulain to heal
and to cure him [1]forasmuch as the leeches of the men of Erin had failed
him.[1] "Come, master Laeg," quoth Cuchulain, "go for me to Fingin the
seer-leech, at 'Fingin's Grave-mound' at Leccan ('the Brow') of Sliab
Fuait, [2]him that is[2] leech to Conchobar. Bid him come to heal Cethern
son of Fintan."

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] YBL. 40a, 40.

Laeg hastened to Fingin the seer-leech at 'Fingin's Grave-mound' at Leccan
of Sliab Fuait, to the leech of Conchobar. And he told him to go cure
Cethern son of Fintan. Thereupon Fingin the prophet-leech came [3]with him
to where Cuchulain and Cethern were.[3] As soon as he was come, Cethern son
of Fintan showed him his stabs and his cuts, his sores and his bloody

    [3-3] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 273]



[W.4299.] [2]"Look at this bloody wound for me, O Fingin," said Cethern.[2]
Fingin looked at the bloody wound. "Why, it is a slight, unwillingly given
wound we behold here," said the leech; [3]"even a wound that some one of
thine own blood hath given thee, and no desire or wish had he therefor,[3]
and it will not carry thee off at once." "That, now, is true," exclaimed
Cethern. "A lone man came upon me there; bushy hair on him; a blue mantle
wrapped around him; a silver brooch in the mantle over his breast; an oval
shield with plaited rim he bore; a five-pointed spear in his hand; a
pronged spare spear at his side. He gave this bloody wound. He bore away a
slight wound from me too." "Why, we know that man!" cried Cuchulain; "'twas
Illann Ilarchless ('Illann of many feats') son of Fergus [4]macRoig.[4] And
he would not wish that thou shouldst fall by his hand, but he gave thee
this mock-blow that the men of Erin might not have it to say it was to
betray them or to forsake them if he gave it not."

    [1-1] The heading is taken from LL.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] YBL. 41b, 19.

"Now look at this bloody wound for me, O Fingin my master," said
Cethern. Fingin looked closely into the bloody wound. "Why, 'tis a woman's
wanton deed of arms we behold here," said the leech; [5]"namely the wound
which a warrior-woman inflicted on thee," said he.[5] "Aye, that is true
then," quoth Cethern; "a woman [W.4314.] came upon me there by herself. A
woman, beautiful, fair-faced, long-cheeked, tall; a golden-yellow head of
hair [1]down to the top of her two shoulder-blades she wore; a smock of
royal sammet next to her white skin;[1] [2]two birds of gold on her
shoulders;[2] a purple cloak without other colour she had around her;
[LL.fo.90a.] a brooch of gold in the cloak over her bosom; a straight,
ridged spear, red-flaming in her hand. She it was that gave me this bloody
wound. She bore away a slight wound from me too." "Ah, but we know that
woman," cried Cuchulain; "Medb daughter of Eocho Fedlech, daughter of the
High King of Erin; it is she that came unto us in that dress. A victory and
triumph and trophy she had considered it hadst thou fallen at her hands."

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] YBL. 41b, 5.

"Look at this bloody wound for me too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern.
Fingin looked at the bloody wound. "Why, the feat of arms of two warriors
is this," said the leech; [3]"that is to say, two warriors inflicted these
two wounds as one wound upon thee."[3] "Yea, that is true," answered
Cethern. "There came two [4]men-at-arms[4] upon me in that place; two, with
bushy hair on them; two blue cloaks wrapped around them; brooches of silver
in the cloaks over their breasts; a necklace of all-white silver around the
neck of each of them; [5]two long shields they bore; two hard chains of
silver on each of them; a band of silver around them; two five-pointed
spears they bore; a vein of silver around them.[5] [6]They smote me this
wound and I smote a little wound on each of them."[6] "Indeed we know that
pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Oll and Othinè they, of the bodyguard of Ailill
and Medb; they never go to a hosting, [7]to battle or combat,[7] but when
the wounding of a man is certain. They would have held [W.4330.] it for
victory and triumph and a boast hadst thou fallen at their hands."

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. 41b, 21-26.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe.

"Look on this bloody wound also for me, O Fingin my master," said Cethern.
Fingin looked closely at the bloody wound. "There came upon me a pair of
young warriors of the Fian," [1]said Cethern;[1] "a splendid, manly
appearance they had. Each of them cast a spear at me. I drave this spear
through the one of them." Fingin looked into the bloody wound. "Why, this
blood is all black," quoth the leech; "through thy heart those spears
passed so that they formed a cross of themselves through thy heart, [2]and
thy healing and curing are not easy;[2] and I prophesy no cure here, but I
would get thee some healing plants and curing charms that they destroy thee
not forthwith."  "Ah, but we know them, that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Bun
and Mecconn ('Stump' and 'Root') are they, of the bodyguard of Ailill and
Medb. It was their hope that thou shouldst fall at their hands."

    [1-1] YBL. 41b, 30.

    [2-2] Stowe.

"Look at this bloody wound for me, too, O Fingin my master," said
Cethern. Fingin examined the bloody wound. "Why, it is the red rush of the
two sons of Ri Cailè ('the King of the Woods') that is here," said the
leech. "Aye, 'tis so," replied Cethern; "there attacked me there two
fair-faced, dark-browed youths, huge, with diadems of gold [3]on their
heads.[3] Two green mantles folded about them; two pins of bright silver on
the mantles over their breasts; two five-pronged spears in their hands."
"Why, near each other are the bloody wounds they gave thee," said the
leech; "into thy gullet they went, so that the points of the spears struck
one another within thee, and none the easier is it to work thy cure here."
"We know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; [4]"noble youths of Medb's great
household,[4] Broen and Brudni, are they, [5]two[5] [W.4352.] sons of Ri
teora Soillse ('the King of the three Lights'), that is, the two sons of
the King of the Woods. It had been victory and triumph and a boast for
them, hadst thou fallen at their hands."

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] YBL. 41b, 41.

    [5-5] Stowe.

"Look at this bloody wound for me, too, my good Fingin," said Cethern.
Fingin looked into the bloody wound. "The joint deed of two brothers is
here," said the leech. "'Tis indeed true," replied Cethern. "There came
upon me two leading, king's warriors. Yellow hair upon them; dark-grey
mantles with fringes, wrapped around them; leaf-shaped brooches of silvered
bronze in the mantles over their breasts; broad, grey lances in their
hands." "Ah, but we know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Cormac Colomon rig
('King's pillar') is the one, and Cormac son of Mael Foga, of the bodyguard
of Ailill and Medb (the other). What they sought was that thou shouldst
fall at their hands."

"Look at this bloody wound for me too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern.
[LL.fo.90b.] Fingin looked into that bloody wound. "The assault of two
brothers is here," said the leech. "Aye then, 'tis true," answered Cethern.
"There came upon me two tender youths there; very much alike were they;
curly [1]dark[1] hair on the one of them; curly yellow hair on the other;
two green cloaks wrapped around them; two bright-silver brooches in the
cloaks over their breasts; two tunics of smooth yellow silk [2]with hoods
and red embroidery[2] next their skin; [3]two[3] white-hilted swords at
their belts; two bright shields having the likenesses of beasts in white
silver they bore; two five-pronged spears with veins of all-white silver in
their hands." "Ah, but we know that pair," quoth Cuchulain; "Manè 'Like to
his mother' and Manè 'Like to his father,' two sons of Ailill and Medb; and
it would be matter of victory, [W.4377.] triumph and boasting to them,
hadst thou fallen at their hands."

    [1-1] YBL. 42a, 28.

    [2-2] YBL. 42a, 30-31.

    [3-3] Stowe.

"Look at this bloody wound for me, too, O Fingin my master," said Cethern.
"There came upon me a pair of young warriors of the Fian there. A brilliant
appearance, stately-tall and manlike, they had; wonderful garments from
far-away countries upon them. Each of them thrust [1]the spear he had[1] at
me. [2]Then[2] I thrust [3]this spear[3] through each of them." Fingin
looked into the bloody wound. "Cunning are the bloody wounds they inflicted
upon thee," said the leech; "they have severed the strings of thy heart
within thee, so that thy heart rolls about in thy breast like an apple in
motion or like a ball of yarn in an empty bag, and there is no string at
all to support it; [4]and there is no means to cure thee or to save
thee,[4] and no healing can I effect here." "Ah, but we know those twain,"
quoth Cuchulain; "a pair of champions from Norway who, [5]because of their
cunning and violence,[5] have been sent particularly by Ailill and Medb to
slay thee; for not often does one ever issue alive from their combats, and
it would be their will that thou shouldst fall at their hands."

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe and YBL. 42a, 1.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

"Look upon this bloody wound for me too, my good Fingin," said Cethern.
Fingin looked at that bloody wound in like manner. "Why, the alternate
woundings of a son and his father we behold here," answered the leech.
"Yea, it is so," quoth Cethern; "two tall men, red as torches, came upon me
there, with diadems of burnished gold upon them; kingly garments they wore;
gold-hilted, hammered swords at their girdles, with scabbards of pure-white
silver, [6]with a cunningly ornamented and delicate embossing[6] and
supports of mottled gold outside upon them. "Ah, but we know that pair,"
quoth Cuchulain; "Ailill and his [W.4399.] son are they, Manè 'That
embraces the traits of them all.'  They would deem it victory and triumph
and a boast shouldst thou fall at their hands."

    [6-6] Stowe.

Thus far the "Bloody Wounds" of the Táin.

"Speak, O Fingin prophetic leech," spake Cethern son of Fintan; "what
verdict and what counsel givest me now?" "This verily is what I say to
thee," replied Fingin the prophetic leech: "Count not on thy big cows for
yearlings this year; for if thou dost, it is not thou that will enjoy them,
and no profit will they bring thee." "This is the judgement and counsel the
other surgeons did give me, and certain it is it brought them neither
advantage nor profit, and they fell at my hands; and none the more will it
bring thee advantage or profit, and thou shalt fall at my hands!" And he
gave Fingin a strong, stiff kick with his foot, and sent him between the
chariot's two wheels [1]and the creaking of the chariot might be heard afar

    [1-1] Stowe.

"Oh, but vicious is the kick from the old warrior," cried Cuchulain;
[2]"'twould be more fitting if thou shouldst ply it on foes than on
leech!"[2] Hence, from this saying, is the name Uachtar Lua ('the Height of
the Kick') in the land of Ross from then until this day.

    [2-2] YBL. 42a, 50-51.

Nevertheless [LL.fo.91a.] Fingin the prophet-leech gave his choice to
Cethern son of Fintan: A long illness for him and afterwards to obtain help
and succour, or a red[a] healing for the space of three days and three
nights, so that he might then employ his strength on his enemies. What
Cethern son of Fintan chose was a red healing for the space of three days
and three nights, to the end that he might then vent [3]his anger and[3]
strength on his enemies. For what he said was that there would not be found
after him any one he would rather have vindicate or avenge him than
himself. [W.4420.] Thereupon Fingin the prophetic leech asked of Cuchulain
a vat of marrow wherewith to heal and to cure Cethern son of Fintan.
Cuchulain proceeded to the camp and entrenchment of the men of Erin, and
whatsoever he found of herds and flocks and droves there he took away with
him. And he made a marrow-mash of their flesh and their bones and their
skins; and Cethern son of Fintan was placed in the marrow-bath till the end
of three days and three nights. And his flesh began to drink in the
marrow-bath about him and the marrow-bath entered in within his stabs and
his cuts, his sores and his many wounds. Thereafter he arose from the
marrow-bath at the end of three days and three nights, [1]and he slept a
day and a night after taking in the marrow.[1] [2]"I have no ribs more,"
said Cethern; "put the ribs of the chariot-box into me." "Thou shalt have
it," Cuchulain made answer.[2] It was thus Cethern arose, with a slab of
the chariot pressed to his belly so that his entrails and bowels would not
drop out of him. [3]"Had I my own weapons," said Cethern, "the story of
what I would do would live forever!"[3]

    [a] That is, 'extreme or drastic.'

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [1-1] YBL. 42b, 7.

    [2-2] YBL. 42b, 8-9.

    [3-3] YBL. 42b, 10-11.

That was the time when his wife came from the north, from Dûn da Benn
('Fort of the two Gables'), and she brought his sword with her, even Finna
daughter of Eocho. [4]"What seest thou?" asked Cethern.[4] [5]"Meseems,"
answered Cuchulain, "'tis the chariot of little Finna, Eocho's daughter,
thy wife, that comes nigh us."[5] [6]And they saw the woman, with the arms
in the chariot.[6] Cethern son of Fintan [7]seized his arms[7] and
proceeded to attack the men of Erin, [8]with the chariot-box bound around
his back, for he was not the stronger therefor.[8] But this is to be added:
They sent a warning before him; Ithall,[a] physician of Ailill and Medb,
had remained as one dead of [W.4436.] the great stun [1]from the blow of
Cethern[1] among the bodies of the other leeches for a long space and time,
[2]and continued in that state till then; at last he rose and rushed to the
encampment,[2] [3]and he, the leech that had alone escaped from Cethern,
brought the alarm to the camp.[3]

    [4-4] YBL. 42b, 13.

    [5-5] YBL. 42b, 14.

    [6-6] YBL. 42b, 16.

    [7-7] YBL. 42b, 17.

    [8-8] YBL. 42b, 18-19.

    [a] See above, page 272.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 42b, 20.

"Hark, ye men of Erin," shouted the leech; "Cethern son of Fintan comes to
attack you, now that he has been healed and cured by Fingin the prophetic
leech, and take ye heed of him!" Thereat the men of Erin [4]in fear[4] put
Ailill's dress and his golden shawl [5]and his regal diadem[5] on the
pillar-stone in Crich Ross, that it might be thereon that Cethern son of
Fintan should first give vent to his anger on his arrival. [6]Eftsoons[6]
Cethern [7]reached the place where he[7] saw those things, namely Ailill's
dress and his golden shawl around the standing-stone in Crich Ross, and he,
being unaware and weetless, conceived it to be Ailill himself that was in
it. And he made a rush at it like a blast of wind and drave the sword
through the stone pillar till it went up to its pommel, [8]so that his fist
went through it after the sword.[8] "Deceit is here," cried Cethern son of
Fintan, "and on me have ye worked this deceit. And I swear an oath, till
there be found among ye [9]of the men of Erin[9] one that will put yon
royal dress about him and the golden shawl, I will not stay my hand from
them, slaughtering and destroying withal!"

    [4-4] YBL. 42b, 22.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe

    [8-8] YBL. 42b, 24.

    [9-9] Stowe.

Manè Andoe son of Ailill and Medb heard that, and he put [10]his
father's[10] royal raiment about him and the golden shawl [11]and the
diadem on his head, and he snatched them up in his chariot before him[11]
and dashed off through the midst of the men of Erin. Cethern son of Fintan
pursued him closely and hurled his shield the length of a cast at him,
[W.4454.] so that the chiselled rim of the shield clave him[a] to the
ground, with chariot, driver, and horses. [1]When the men of Erin saw
that,[1] they surrounded Cethern on every side [2]and made him a victim of
spears and lances,[2] so that he fell at their hands in the strait wherein
he was. Wherefore 'Cethern's Strait-Fight and the Bloody Wounds of Cethern'
[3]is the name of this tale.[3]

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] YBL. 42b, 29-30.

    [a] Omitting _i tri_, 'in three'; it is not found in Stowe or in YBL.
    and seems out of place here.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

[4]His wife, Finna[b] daughter of Eocho Salbuidê ('Yellow-heel') stood over
him and she was in great sorrow, and she made the funeral-song below:--

    "I care for naught, care for naught;
    Ne'er more man's hand 'neath my head,
    Since was dug the earthy bed,
    Cethern's bold, of Dûn da Benn!

    "Kingly Cethern, Fintan's son;
    Few were with him on the ford.
    Connacht's men with all their host,
    For nine hours he left them not!

    "Arms he bore not--this an art--
    But a red, two-headed pike;
    With it slaughtered he the host,
    While his anger still was fresh!

    "Felled by double-headed pike,
    Cethern's hand held, with their crimes,[c]
    Seven times fifty of the hosts,
    Fintan's son brought to their graves!

    "Willa-loo, oh, willa-loo!
    Woman's[d] wandering through the mist.
    Worse it is for him that's dead.
    She that lives may find a man![e]

    "Never I shall take a man[e]
    Of the hosts of this good world;
    Never shall I sleep with man;
    Never shall my man with wife!

    [W.4485.] "Dear the homestead, 'Horse-head's Dûn,'[a]
    Where our hosts were wont to go.
    Dear the water, soft and sweet;
    Dear the isle, 'Isle of the Red!'[b]

    "Sad the care, oh, sad the care,
    Cualnge's Cow-raid brought on me:
    Cethern, Fintan's son, to keen.
    Oh that he had shunned his woe!

    "Great the doings, these, oh, great,
    And the deed that here was done:
    I bewailing him till death,
    Him that has been smitten down!

    "Finna, Eocho's daughter, I,
    Found a fight of circling spears.
    Had my champion had his arms:
    By his side a slaughtered heap!"[4]

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add. 18,748.

    [b] Reading Finna, to agree with the reading in LL., _supra_, page 279.
    Inna, in Stowe, etc.

    [c] That is, unshrived of their sins (?), a Christian intrusion

    [d] Literally, 'heifer's.'

    [e] Literally, 'a bull.'

    [a] In Irish, _Dun cind eich_.

    [b] In Irish, _Innis ruaidh_.

    [4-4] See note 4, page 211.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 283]



[W.4502.] Fintan, himself the son of Niall Niamglonnach ('of the brilliant
Exploits') from Dûn da Benn [1]in the north,[1] was father of Cethern son
of Fintan. And he came to save the honour of Ulster and to avenge his son
upon the hosts. Thrice fifty [2]with many pointed weapons[2] was his
number. And thus it was they came, and two spear-heads on each shaft with
them, a spear-head on the top and a spear-head at the butt, so that it made
no difference whether they wounded the hosts with the points or with the
butts. They offered three[a] battles to the hosts. And thrice their own
number fell at their hands, and there fell also the people [LL.fo.91b.]  of
Fintan son of Niall, all excepting Fintan's son Crimthann alone,[3] so that
there did not escape any of his people excepting himself and his son.[3]
This one was saved under a canopy of shields by Ailill and Medb. [4]And the
son was separated from him, his father Fintan, and was saved by Ailill out
of fear of Fintan and in order that Fintan might not wreak his fury on them
till he should come with Conchobar to the battle.[4] Then said the men of
Erin, it would be no disgrace for Fintan son of Niall to withdraw from the
camp and quarters, and that they would give up Crimthann son of Fintan to
him, and then the hosts would fall back a day's march to the north again;
and that he [W.4515.] should cease from his deeds of arms against the hosts
till he would come to encounter them on the day of the great battle at the
place where the four grand provinces of Erin would clash at Garech and
Ilgarech in the battle of the Cattle-reaving of Cualnge, as was foretold by
the druids of the men of Erin. Fintan son of Niall consented to that, and
they gave over his son to him. [1]He made friendship with them then when
his son had been restored to him.[1] He withdrew from the camp and station,
and the hosts marched a day's journey back to the north again, to stop and
cease their advance. [2]Thereafter Fintan went to his own land.[2] In this
manner they found each man of the people of Fintan son of Niall and each
man of the men of Erin, with the lips and the nose [3]and the ear[3] of
each of them in the teeth and tusks of the other [4]after they had used up
their arms.[4] The men of Erin gave thought to that: "This is a tooth-fight
for us," said they; "the tooth-fight of Fintan's people and of Fintan
himself." So this is the 'Tooth-fight' of Fintan.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] YBL. 42b, 36.

    [a] 'Seven,' YBL. 42b, 38.

    [3-3] YBL. 42b, 38-39.

    [4-4] YBL. 42b, 39-43.

    [1-1] YBL. 42b, 43-44.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 285]



[W.4529.] [1]It was then came [2]to them[2] great[1] Menn son of Salcholga,
he from Renna ('the Waterways') of the Boyne [3]in the north.[3] Twelve[a]
men [4]with many-pointed weapons,[4] that was his number. It was thus they
came, and two spear-heads on each shaft with them, a spear-head on the top
and a spear-head at the butt, so that it made no difference whether they
wounded the hosts with the points or with the butts. They offered three
attacks upon the hosts. Three times their own number fell at their hands
and there fell twelve men of the people of Menn, [5]so that there remained
alive of them but Menn alone.[5] But Menn himself was [6]sorely[6] wounded
in the strait, so that blood ran crimson on him [7]and his followers too
were crimsoned.[7] Then said the men of Erin: "Red is this shame," said
they, "for Menn son of Salcholga, that his people, [8]twelve men,[8] should
be slain and destroyed and he himself wounded till blood ran crimson red
upon him." Hence here is the 'Reddening Shame of Menn,' [9]the name of this
tale on the Spoil of the Kine of Cualnge.[9]

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] YBL. 42b, 45.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [a] 'Thirty,' YBL. 42b, 45.

    [4-4] YBL. 42b, 46.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] YBL. 42b, 49.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Stowe.

Then said the men of Erin, it would be no dishonour for Menn son of
Salcholga to leave the camp and quarters, and that the hosts would go a
day's journey back to the [W.4542.] north again, and that Menn should cease
his weapon-feats[a] on the hosts till Conchobar arose out of his 'Pains'
and battle would be offered them at Garech and Ilgarech [1]on the day of
the great battle when the men of Erin and of Ulster would meet together in
combat in the great battle of the Cualnge Cow-spoil,[1] as the druids and
soothsayers and the knowers of the men of Erin had foretold it.

    [a] Following Windisch's emendation of the text.

    [1-1] Stowe.

Menn son of Salcholga agreed to that, to leave the camp and halting-place.
And the hosts fell back a day's march for to rest and wait, [2]and Menn
went his way to his own land.[2]

    [2-2] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 287]



[W.4551.] Then came the charioteers of the Ulstermen to them. Thrice fifty
was their number. They offered three battles to the hosts. Thrice their
number fell at their hands, and the charioteers themselves fell on the
field whereon they stood. Hence this here is the 'Accoutrement of the
Charioteers.' [1]It is for this cause it is called the 'Accoutrement of the
Charioteers,' because it is with rocks and with boulders and with clumps of
earth they accomplished the defeat of the men of Erin.[1]

    [1-1] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 288]



[W.4556.] [2]Cuchulain despatched his charioteer to[2] Rochad [3]Rigderg
('Red-king')[3] son of Fathemon, [4]from Rigdorn in the north,[4] [5]that
he should come to his aid.[5] He was of Ulster. [6]The gilla comes up to
Rochad and tells him, if he has come out of his weakness, to go to the help
of Cuchulain, that they should employ a ruse to reach the host to seize
some of them and slay them. Rochad set out from the north.[6] Thrice
fifty[a] warriors was his number, and he took possession of a hill fronting
the hosts. [7]"Scan the plain for us to-day," said Ailill. "I see a company
crossing the plain," the watchman answered, "and a tender youth comes in
their midst; the other warriors reach but up to his shoulder." "Who is that
warrior, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "Rochad son of Fathemon," he answered;
"and it is to bring help to Cuchulain he comes. I know what ye had best do
with him," Fergus continued. "Let a hundred warriors go from ye with the
maiden yonder to the middle of the plain and let the maid go before them,
and let a horseman go tell Rochad to come alone to hold converse with the
maid and let hands be laid on him, and thus shall be removed all fear of
his people from us.[7] Finnabair, [W.4558.] daughter of Ailill and Medb,
perceived that and she went to speak to her mother thereof, even to Medb.
[1]Now it happened that Finnabair loved Rochad. It is he was the fairest
young warrior in Ulster at that time.[1] [2]And Finnabair disclosed her
secret and her love[a] to her mother.[2] "Truly have I loved yonder warrior
for a long time," said she; "and it is he is my sweetheart, [3]my first
love[3] and mine own choice one in wooing [4]of the men of Erin."[4] "An
thou hast [5]so[5] loved him, daughter," [6]quoth Ailill and Medb,[6]
"sleep with him this night and crave for us a truce of him for the hosts,
until [7]with Conchobar[7] he encounters us on the day of the great battle
when four of the grand provinces of Erin will meet at Garech and Ilgarech
in the battle of the Foray of Cualnge."

    [1-1] The LU. version of the 'White-fight,' which occurs much earlier
    (fo. 72a, edition of Strachan and O'Keeffe, lines 1457 and fol.), is
    incorporated with the LL. version above.

    [2-2] LU. 1457.

    [3-3] YBL. 43a, 6.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] LU. 1458.

    [6-6] LU. 1460-1463.

    [a] 'One hundred fighting men,' LU. 1463.

    [7-7] LU. 1463-1472.

    [1-1] LU. 1458.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [a] Literally, 'whisper.'

    [3-3] YBL. 43a, 10.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. 43a, 10.

    [6-6] YBL. 43a, 10

    [7-7] YBL. 43a, 11.

[8]This then is done. Rochad sets forth to meet the horseman. "I am come,"
says the horseman, "from Finnabair to meet thee that thou come to speak
with the maiden." Thereupon Rochad goes alone to converse with her. The
army surrounds him on all sides; he is seized and hands are laid on him;
his followers are routed and driven in flight. Afterwards he is set free
and bound over not to oppose Ailill's host till the time he will come with
all the warriors of Ulster. Also they promise to give Finnabair to him.[8]

    [8-8] LU. 1472-1478.

Rochad son of Fathemon accepted the offer [9]and thereupon he left them[9]
and that night the damsel slept with him.

    [9-9] LU. 1478-1479.

An Under-king of Munster that was in the camp heard the tale. He went to
his people to speak of it. "Yonder maiden was plighted to me [10]on fifteen
hostages[10] once long ago," said he; "and it is for this I have now come
on this [W.4568.] hosting." Now wherever it happened that the seven[a]
Under-kings of Munster were, what they all said was that it was for this
they were come. [1]"Yonder maiden was pledged to each of us in the bargain
as our sole wife, to the end that we should take part in this warfare."
They all declared that that was the price and condition on which they had
come on the hosting.[1] "Why," said they, [2]"what better counsel could we
take?[2] Should we not go to avenge our wife and our honour on the Manè
[3]the sons of Ailill[3] who are watching [4]and guarding[4] the rear of
the army at Imlech in Glendamrach ('Kettle-glen's navel)?"

    [10-10] YBL 43a, 17.

    [a] 'Twelve,' Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 43a, 20.

    [4-4] Stowe.

This was the course they resolved upon. And with their seven divisions of
thirty hundreds they arose, [5]each man of them to attack the Manè. When
Ailill heard that,[5] he arose [6]with a start with ready shield[6] against
them and thirty hundred [7]after them.[7] Medb arose with her thirty
hundred. The sons of Maga with theirs and the Leinstermen and the
Munstermen and the people of Tara.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe.

[8]Then arose Fergus with his thirty hundred to intervene between them, and
that was a hand for that mighty work.[8] And a mediation was made between
them so that each of them sat down near the other and hard by his arms.
Howbeit before the intervention took place, eight hundred[b] very valiant
warriors of them had fallen [9]in the slaughter of Glenn Domain ('Deep

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [b] 'Seven hundred,' YBL. 43a, 24 and Stowe.

    [9-9] YBL. 43a, 25.

Finnabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, had tidings that so great a number
of the men of Erin had fallen for her sake and on account of her. And her
heart broke in her breast even as a nut, through shame and disgrace, so
that Finnabair Slebè ('Finnabair of the Mount') is the name of the place
where she fell, [10]died and was buried.[10]

    [10-10] Stowe.

[W.4585.] Then said the men of Erin, "White is this battle," said they,
"for Rochad son of Fathemon, in that eight hundred exceeding brave warriors
fell for his sake and on his account, and he himself goes[1] safe and whole
to his country and land[1] without blood-shedding or reddening on him."
Hence this is the 'White-fight' of Rochad.

    [1] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 292]



[W.4590.] [1]Then came to them[1] Iliach son of Cass son of Bacc son of
Ross Ruad son of Rudraige. [2]He was at that time an old man cared for by
his son's son, namely by Loegaire Buadach ('the Victorious') in Rath Imbil
in the north.[2] It was told him that the four grand provinces of Erin even
then laid waste and invaded the lands of Ulster and of the Picts [3]and of
Cualnge[3] from Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring, [4]and
were carrying off their women and their cows and their children, their
flocks, their herds and their cattle, their oxen and their kine and their
droves, their steeds and their horses.[4] He then conceived a plan [5]in
his mind[5] and he made perfect his plan privily with his people. "What
counsel were better for me to make than to go and attack the men of Erin
[6]and to use my[a] strength on them[6] and have [7]my boast and[7] victory
over them, and thus avenge the honour of Ulster. And I care not though I
should fall myself there thereafter."

    [1-1] YBL. 43a, 29.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [a] The MS. has 'his.'

    [7-7] Stowe.

[LL.fo.92b.] And this is the counsel he followed. His two withered, mangy,
[8]sorrel[8] nags that were upon the strand hard by the fort were led to
him. And to them was fastened his ancient, [9]worn-out[9] chariot. [10]Thus
he mounted his chariot,[10] without either covers or cushions; [W.4601.]
[1]a hurdle of wattles around it.[1] His [2]big,[2] rough, pale-grey shield
of iron he carried upon him, with its rim of hard silver around it. He wore
his rough, grey-hilted, huge-smiting sword at his left side. He placed his
two rickety-headed, nicked, [3]blunt, rusted[3] spears by his side in the
chariot. His folk furnished his chariot around him with cobbles and
boulders and huge clumps, [4]so that it was full up to its ...[4] (?)

    [8-8] YBL. 43a, 36.

    [9-9] YBL. 43a, 36.

    [10-10] YBL. 43a, 35.

    [1-1] YBL. 43a, 35.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] YBL. 48a, 38.

In such wise he fared forth to assail the men of Erin. And thus he came,
[5]stark-naked,[5] [6]and the spittle from his gaping mouth trickling down
through the chariot under him.[6] [7]When the men of Erin saw him thus,
they began to mock and deride him.[7] "Truly it would be well for us," said
the men of Erin,[a] "if this were the manner in which all the Ulstermen
came to us [8]on the plain."[8]

    [5-5] YBL. 43a, 40.

    [6-6] This is the sense of Zimmer's translation, which is only
    conjectural, of this difficult passage (see _Zeitschrift für Deutsches
    Alterthum und Deutsche Litteratur_, Bd. xxxii, 1888, S. 275). The idea
    is probably more clearly expressed in Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL.  43a,
    41, and may be rendered, '_membrum virile ejus coram viros Hiberniae et
    testes pendentes per currum_.'

    [7-7] Stowe and, similarly, H. 1. 13.

    [a] 'Said Medb,' Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe and, similarly, H. 1. 13, Add.

Dochè son of Maga met him and bade him welcome. "Welcome is thy coming, O
Iliach," spake Dochè son of Maga. [9]"Who bids me welcome?" asked Iliach.
"A comrade and friend of Loegaire Buadach am I, namely Dochè macMagach."[9]
"Truly spoken I esteem that welcome," answered Iliach; "but do thou [10]for
the sake of that welcome[10] come to me when now, alas, my deeds of arms
will be over and my warlike vigour will have vanished, [11]when I will
have spent my rage upon the hosts,[11] so that thou be the one to cut off
my head and none other of the men of Erin. However, my sword shall remain
with [W.4615.] thee [1]for thine own friend, even[1] for Loegaire

    [9-9] Stowe.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] Stowe.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

He assailed the men of Erin with his weapons till he had made an end of
them. And when weapons failed he assailed the men of Erin with cobbles and
boulders and huge clumps [3]of earth[3] till he had used them up. And when
these weapons failed him he spent his rage on the man [4]that was nearest
him[4] of the men of Erin, and bruised him grievously between his fore-arms
[5]and his sides[5] and the palms of his hands, till he made a marrow-mass
of him, of flesh and bones and sinews and skin. Hence in memory thereof,
these two masses of marrow still live on side by side, the marrow-mass that
Cuchulain made of the bones of the Ulstermen's cattle for the healing of
Cethern son of Fintan,[a] and the marrow-mass that Iliach made of the bones
of the men of Erin. Wherefore this was one of the three innumerable things
of the Táin, the number of them that fell at the hands of Iliach. So that
this is the 'Clump-fight' of Iliach. It is for this reason it is called the
'Clump-fight' of Iliach, because with cobbles and boulders and massy clumps
he made his fight.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [a] See above, page 279.

[6]Thereafter[6] Dochè son of Maga met him. "Is not this Iliach?" asked
Dochè son of Maga. "It is truly I," Iliach gave answer; "and come to me now
and cut off my head and let my sword remain with thee for thy friend, for
Loegaire [7]Buadach ('the Victorious')."[7]

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe.

Dochè came near him and gave him a blow with the sword so that he severed
his head, [8]and he took with him the head and the spoils vauntingly to
where were Ailill and Medb.[8] Thus to this point, the 'Clump-fight' of

    [8-8] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 295]



[W.4638.] This Amargin was the son of Cass who was son of Bacc who was son
of Ross Ruad ('the Red') who was son of Rudraige, [1]father of Conall
Cernach ('the Triumphant').[1] He came upon the warriors going over Taltiu
westward, and he made them turn before him over Taltiu northwards.  And he
put his left[a] elbow under him in Taltiu. And his people furnished him
with rocks and boulders and great clumps [2]of earth,[2] and he began to
pelt the men of Erin till the end of three days and three nights, [3]and he
did great slaughter among them[3] [4]so that no man could show his face to
him in Taltiu.[4]

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [a] As a challenge or sign of hostility.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] YBL. 43b, 13-14.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 296]



[W.4645.] He was told that a single man was checking and stopping four of
the five grand provinces of Erin [1]during the three months of winter[1]
from Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring. And he felt it
unworthy of himself and he deemed it too long that his people were without
him. And [2]it was then[2] he set out [3]to the host[3] to fight and
contend with Cuchulain. And when he was come to the place where Cuchulain
was, he saw Cuchulain there moaning, full of wounds and pierced through
with holes, and he felt it would not be honourable nor fair to fight and
contend with him after the combat with Ferdiad. [4]Because it would be said
it was not that Cuchulain died of the sores [LL.fo.93a.] and wounds which
he would give him so much as of the wounds which Ferdiad had inflicted on
him in the conflict before.[4] Be that as it might, Cuchulain offered to
engage with him in battle and combat.

    [1-1] YBL. 43b, 17.

    [2-2] YBL. 43b, 14-15.

    [3-3] YBL. 43b, 15.

    [4-4] Reading with Stowe, which is to be preferred to LL.

Thereupon Curoi set forth for to seek the men of Erin and, when he was
near at hand, he espied Amargin there and his left elbow under him to the
west of Taltiu. Curoi reached the men of Erin from the north. His people
equipped him with rocks and boulders and great clumps, and he began to hurl
them right over against Amargin, so that Badb's battle-stones collided in
the clouds and in the air high above them, and every rock of them was
shivered [W.4662.] into an hundred stones. "By the truth of thy valour, O
Curoi," cried Medb, "desist from thy throwing, for no real succour nor help
comes to us therefrom, but ill is the succour [1]and help[1] that thence
come to us," "I pledge my word," cried Curoi, "I will not cease till the
very day of doom and of life, till first Amargin cease!" "I will cease,"
said Amargin; "and do thou engage that thou wilt no more come to succour or
give aid to the men of Erin." Curoi consented to that and went his way to
return to his land and people.

    [1-1] Stowe.

About this time [2]the hosts[2] went past Taltiu westwards. "It is not
this was enjoined upon me," quoth Amargin: "never again to cast at the
hosts [3]but rather that I should part from them."[3] And he went to the
west of them and he turned them before him north-eastwards past Taltiu. And
he began to pelt them for a long while and time [4]so that he slaughtered
more of them than can be numbered.[4] [5]This is one of the three
incalculable things on the Táin, the number of those he slew. And his son
Conall Cernach ('the Victorious') remained with him providing him with
stones and spears.[5]

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. fo. 43b, 34-36.

Then it was also that the men of Erin said it would be no disgrace for
Amargin to leave the camp and quarters, and that the hosts would retire a
day's march back to the north again, there to stop and stay, and for him to
quit his feats of arms upon the hosts until such time as he would meet them
on the day of the great battle when the four grand provinces of Erin would
encounter at Garech and Ilgarech in the battle of the Raid for the Kine of
Cualnge. Amargin accepted that offer, and the hosts proceeded a day's march
back to the northwards again. Wherefore the 'Deer-stalking' of Amargin in
Taltiu [6]is the name of this tale.[6]

    [6-6] Stowe.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 298]



[1]Now while the deeds we have told here were being done,[1] [W.4685.]
Sualtaim ('Goodly fosterer') son of Becaltach ('of Small belongings') son
of Moraltach ('of Great belongings'), the same the father of Cuchulain
macSualtaim, [2]of Sualtaim's Rath in the plain of Murthemne,[2] was told
of the distress and [3]sore wounding[3] of his son contending in unequal
combat on the Cualnge Cattle-spoil, even against Calatin Dana ('the Bold')
with his seven and twenty[a] sons, and against Glass son of Delga, his
grandson, [4]and at the last against Ferdiad son of Daman.[4]

    [1-1] YBL. 43b, 38-39.

    [2-2] YBL. 43b, 39-40.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [a] 'Twelve,' YBL. 43b, 41.

    [4-4] Stowe.

[5]It is then that Sualtaim said[5]: "Whate'er it be, [6]this that I
hear[6] from afar," quoth Sualtaim, "it is the sky that bursts or the sea
that ebbs or the earth that quakes, or is it the distress of my son
overmatched in the strife on the Driving of the Kine of Cualnge?"

    [5-5] Stowe and YBL. 43b, 42.

    [6-6] Stowe.

In that, indeed, Sualtaim spoke true. And he went to learn all after a
while, without hastening on his way. And when Sualtaim was come to where
[7]his son[7] Cuchulain was [8]and found him covered with wounds and bloody
gashes and many stabs,[8] Sualtaim began to moan and lament [9]for

    [7-7] YBL. 43b, 46.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Stowe.

[W.4695.] Forsooth Cuchulain deemed it neither an honour nor glory that
Sualtaim should bemoan and lament him, for Cuchulain knew that, wounded and
injured though he was, Sualtaim would not be [1]the man[1] to avenge his
wrong.  For such was Sualtaim: He was no mean warrior and he was no mighty
warrior, but only a good, worthy man was he. "Come, my father Sualtaim,"
said Cuchulain; [2]"cease thy sighing and mourning for me, and[2] do thou
go to Emain [3]Macha[3] to the men of Ulster and tell them to come now to
have a care for their droves, for no longer am I able to protect them in
the gaps and passes of the land of Conalle Murthemni. All alone am I
against four of the five grand provinces of Erin from Monday at Summer's
end till the beginning of Spring, every day slaying a man on a ford and a
hundred warriors every night. Fair fight is not granted me nor single
combat, and no [LL.fo.93b.] one comes to aid me nor to succour. [4]And such
is the measure of my wounds and my sores that I cannot bear my garments or
my clothing to touch my skin, so that[4] spancel-hoops hold my cloak over
me. Dry tufts of grass are stuffed in my wounds. [5]There is not the space
of a needle's point from my crown to my sole without wound or sore, and[5]
there is not a single hair [6]on my body[6] from my crown to my sole
whereon the point of a needle could stand, without a drop of deep-red blood
on the top of each hair, save the left hand alone which is holding my
shield, and even there thrice fifty bloody wounds are upon it. [7]And let
them straightway give battle to the warriors,[7] and unless they avenge
this anon, they will never avenge it till the very day of doom and of

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] YBL. 43b, 49.

Sualtaim set out on Liath ('the Roan') of Macha as his only horse, with
warning to the men of Ulster. And when [W.4716.] he was come alongside of
Emain, he shouted these words there: "Men are slain, women stolen, cattle
lifted, ye men of Ulster!" cried Sualtaim.

He had not [1]the answer[1] that served him from the Ulstermen, and
forasmuch as he had it not he went on further to the rampart of Emain. And
he cried out the same words there: "Men are slain, women stolen, cattle
lifted, ye men of Ulster!" cried Sualtaim.

    [1-1] Stowe.

And [2]a second time[2] he had not the response that served him from the
men of Ulster. Thus stood it among the Ulstermen: It was geis for the
Ulstermen to speak before their king, geis for the king to speak before his
[3]three[3] druids. Thereafter Sualtaim drove on to the 'Flag-stone of the
hostages' in Emain Macha. He shouted the same words there: "Men are
slain, women stolen, cows carried off!" "But who has slain them, and
who has stolen them, and who has carried them off?" asked Cathba the
druid. "Ailill and Medb have, [4]with the cunning of Fergus mac Roig,[4]
overwhelmed you. [5]Your people have been harassed as far as Dûn
Sobairche,"[5] said Sualtaim. "Your wives and your sons and your children,
your steeds and your stock of horses, your herds and your flocks and your
droves of cattle have been carried away. Cuchulain all alone is checking
and staying the hosts of the four great provinces of Erin at the gaps and
passes of the land of Conalle Murthemni. Fair fight is refused him, nor is
he granted single combat, nor comes any one to succour or aid him.
[6]Cuchulain has not suffered them to enter the plain of Murthemne or into
the land of Ross. Three winter months is he there.[6] The youth is wounded,
his limbs are out of joint. Spancel-hoops hold his cloak over him. There
is not a hair from his crown to his sole whereon the point of a needle
could stand, without a drop of deep-red [W.4737.] blood on the top of each
hair, except his left hand alone which is holding his shield, and even
there thrice fifty bloody wounds are upon it. And unless ye avenge this
betimes, ye will never avenge it till the end of time and of life."

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 44a, 9.

    [4-4] YBL. 44a, 13.

    [5-5] YBL. 44a, 13.

    [6-6] YBL. 44a, 15.

[LL.fo.94a.] "Fitter is death and doom and destruction for the man that so
incites the king!" quoth Cathba the druid. "In good sooth, it is true!"
[1]said the Ulstermen[1] all together.

    [1-1] Stowe.

[2]Thereupon[2] Sualtaim went his way [3]from them,[3] indignant and angry
because from the men of Ulster he had not had the answer that served him.
Then reared Liath ('the Roan') of Macha under Sualtaim and dashed on to
the ramparts of Emain. Thereat [4]Sualtaim fell under his own shield, so
that[4] his own shield turned on Sualtaim and the [5]scalloped[5] edge of
the shield severed Sualtaim's head, [6]though others say he was asleep on
the stone, and that he fell thence onto his shield on awaking.[6] [7]Hence
this is the 'Tragical Death of Sualtaim.'[7]

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. 44a, 28.

    [6-6] YBL. 44a, 32-33.

    [7-7] Stowe.

The horse himself turned back again to Emain, and the shield on the horse
and the head on the shield. And Sualtaim's head uttered the same words:
"Men are slain, women stolen, cattle lifted, ye men of Ulster!" spake the
head of Sualtaim.

"Some deal too great is that cry," quoth Conchobar; "for yet is the sky
above us, the earth underneath and the sea round about us. And unless the
heavens shall fall with their showers of stars on the man-like[a] face of
the world, or unless the ground burst open in quakes [8]beneath our
feet,[8] or unless the furrowed, blue-bordered ocean break o'er the tufted
brow of the earth, will I restore [W.4756.] to her byre and her stall, to
her abode and her dwelling-place, each and every cow and woman of them with
victory of battle and contest and combat!"

    [a] Reading with LL. 5027 and 5975, which gives better meaning than the
    expression 'fort-face,' of LL.

    [8-8] Stowe.

Thereupon a runner of his body-guard was summoned to Conchobar, Findchad
Ferbenduma ('he of the copper Horn') to wit, son of Fraech Lethan ('the
Broad'), and Conchobar bade him go assemble and muster the men of Ulster.
And in like manner, in the drunkenness of sleep and of his 'Pains,'
Conchobar enumerated to him their quick and their dead, and he uttered
these words:--

    "Arise, O Findchad!
    [1]Thee I send forth:[1]
    A negligence not to be wished (?);
    Proclaim it to the chiefs of Ulster!"

    [1-1] Reading with YBL. 44a, 41.

[2]The Order of the men of Ulster.[2]

    [2-2] Stowe and YBL. 44a, 41.

[3]Go thou forward to Derg,[3] to Deda at his bay, to Lemain, to Follach,
to Illann [4]son of Fergus[4] at Gabar, to Dornaill Feic at Imchlar, to
Derg Imdirg, to Fedilmid [5]son of Ilar Cetach of Cualnge[5] at Ellonn, to
Reochad [6]son of Fathemon[6] at Rigdonn, to Lug, to Lugaid, to Cathba at
his bay, to Carfre at Ellne, to Laeg at his causeway, to Gemen in his
valley, to Senoll Uathach at Diabul Ard, [LL.fo.94b.] to Cethern son of
Fintan at Carrloig, [7]to Cethern at Eillne,[7] to Tarothor, to Mulach at
his fort, to the royal poet Amargin, to Uathach Bodba, to the Morrigan at
Dûn Sobairche, to Eit, to Roth, to Fiachna at his mound, to Dam drend, to
Andiaraid, to Manè Macbriathrach ('the Eloquent'), to Dam Derg ('the Red'),
to Mod, to Mothus, to Iarmothus at Corp Cliath, to Gabarlaig in Linè, to
Eocho Semnech in Semne, [8]to Eochaid Laithrech at Latharne,[8] to
Celtchar son of Uthecar in Lethglas, to Errgè Echbel ('Horsemouth') at
Bri Errgi ('Errgè's Hill'), to Uma son of Remarfessach ('Thickbeard')
at Fedain [W.4819.] in Cualnge, to Munremur ('Thickneck') son of
Gerrcend ('Shorthead') at Moduirn, to Senlabair at Canann Gall ('of the
Foreigners'), to Fallomain, to Lugaid, [1]king of the Fir Bolg,[1] to
Lugaid of Linè, to Buadgalach ('the Victorious Hero'), to Abach, [2]to
Fergna at Barrene,[2] to Anè, to Aniach, [3]to Abra,[3] to Loegaire Milbel
('Honey-mouth'), at his fire (?), to the three sons of Trosgal at Bacc
Draigin ('Thornhollow'), to Drend, to Drenda, to Drendus, to Cimb, to
Cimbil, to Cimbin at Fan na Coba ('the Slope of ...), to Fachtna son of
Sencha at his rath, to Sencha, to Senchainte, to Bricriu, to Briccirne son
of Bricriu, to Brecc, to Buan, to Barach, to Oengus of the Fir Bolg, to
Oengus son of Letè, [4]to Fergus son of Letè,[4] to ...[a] (?), to
Bruachar, to Slangè, to Conall Cernach ('the Victorious') son of Amargin at
Midluachar, to Cuchulain son of Sualtaim at Murthemne, to Menn son of
Salcholga at Rena ('the Waterways'), to the three sons of Fiachna, Ross,
Darè and Imchad at Cualnge, to Connud macMorna at the Callann, to Condra
son of Amargin at his rath, to Amargin at Ess Ruaid, to Laeg at Leirè, to
Oengus Ferbenduma ('him of the copper Horn'), to Ogma Grianainech
('Sun-faced') at Brecc, to Eo macFornè, to Tollcend, to Sudè at Mag
Eol in Mag Dea, to Conla Saeb at Uarba, to Loegaire [5]Buadach ('the
Triumphant')[5] at Immail, to Amargin Iarngiunnach ('the Darkhaired') at
Taltiu, [LL.fo.94c.] to Furbaide Ferbenn ('the man with Horns on his
helmet') son of Conchobar at Sil in Mag Inis ('the Island-plain'), to
Cuscraid Menn ('the Stammerer') of Macha son of Conchobar at Macha, to
Fingin at Fingabair, to Blae 'the Hospitaller of a score,' to Blae 'the
Hospitaller of six men,' to Eogan son of Durthacht at Fernmag, to Ord at
Mag Sered, to Oblan, to Obail at Culenn, to Curethar, to Liana at Ethbenna,
to Fernel, to Finnchad [W.4892.] of Sliab Betha, to Talgoba [1]at Bernas
('the Gap'),[1] to Menn son of the Fir Cualann at Mag Dula, to Iroll at
Blarinè, [2]to Tobraidè son of Ailcoth,[2] to Ialla Ilgremma ('of many
Captures'), to Ross son of Ulchrothach ('the Many-shaped') at Mag Dobla, to
Ailill Finn ('the Fair'), to Fethen Bec ('the Little'), to Fethan Mor ('the
Big'), to Fergus son of Finnchoem ('the Fair-comely') at Burach, to Olchar,
to Ebadchar, to Uathchar, to Etatchar, to Oengus son of Oenlam Gabè ('the
one-handed Smith'), to Ruadri at Mag Tail, [3]to Manè son of Crom ('the
Bent'), to Nindech son of Cronn, to ... (?), to Mal macRochraidi,[3] to
Beothach ('the Lively'), to Briathrach ('the Wordy') at his rath, to
Narithla at Lothor, to the two sons of Feic, Muridach and Cotreb, to Fintan
son of Niamglonnach ('of brilliant Exploits') at Dun da Benn ('the
two-gabled Dûn'), to Feradach Finn Fechtnach ('the Fair and Upright') at
Nemed ('the Shrine') of Sliab Fuait, [LL.fo.95a.] to Amargin son of
Ecetsalach ('the grimy Smith') at the Buas, to Bunnè son of Munremar, to
Fidach son of Dorarè, [4]to Muirnè Menn ('the Stammerer').[4]

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] YBL. 44a, 46.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] YBL. 44a, 45.

    [7-7] YBL. 44b, 7-8.

    [8-8] YBL. 44b, 28-29, Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [1-1] H. 1. 13 and YBL. 44b, 36.

    [2-2] YBL. 44b, 40-41.

    [3-3] YBL. 44b, 44.

    [4-4] Stowe and YBL. 44b, 14.

    [a] The readings are corrupt.

    [5-5] YBL. 44b, 44.

    [1-1] Reading with YBL. 45a, 14; LL. is corrupt.

    [2-2] YBL. 45a, 3.

    [3-3] YBL. 45a, 7.

    [4-4] YBL. 45a, 14.

It was nowise a heavy task for Finnchad to gather this assembly and
muster which Conchobar had enjoined upon him. For all there were [5]of
Ulstermen[5] to the east of Emain and to the west of Emain and to the north
of Emain set out at once for the field of Emain in the service of their
king, and at the word of their lord, and to await the recovery of
Conchobar. Such as were from the south of Emain [6]waited not for
Conchobar, but[6] set out directly on the trail of the host and on the
hoof-prints of the Táin.

    [5-5] Stowe.

The first stage the men of Ulster marched under Conchobar was [7]from
Emain[7] to the green in Iraird Cuillinn [W.4932.] that night. "Why now
delay we, ye men?" Conchobar asked. "We await thy sons," they answered;
"Fiacha and Fiachna who have gone [1]with a division[1] from us [2]to
Tara[2] to fetch Erc son of thy daughter Fedlimid Nocruthach ('Nine-shaped'),
son also of Carbre Niafer [3]king of Tara,[3] to the end that he should
come with the number of his muster and his troops, his levy and his forces
to our host at this time. [4]Until these two divisions come to us, no
further advance will we make from this place."[4] "By my word," exclaimed
Conchobar; "I will delay here no longer for them, lest the men of Erin hear
of my rising from the weakness and 'Pains' wherein I was. For the men of
Erin know not even if I am still alive!"

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] Stowe and YBL. 45a, 24.

    [1-1] YBL. 45a, 26.

    [2-2] YBL. 45a, 27.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] YBL. 45a, 29.

Thereupon Conchobar and Celtchar proceeded with thirty hundred
spear-bristling chariot-fighters to Ath Irmidi ('the Ford of
Spear-points'). And there met them there eight-score huge men of the
body-guard of Ailill and Medb, with eight-score women [5]of the Ulstermen's
women[5] as their spoils. Thus was their portion of the plunder of Ulster:
A woman-captive in the hand of each man of them.  Conchobar and Celtchar
struck off their eight-score heads and released their eight-score
captive-women. Ath Irmidi ('the Ford of Spear-points') was the name of the
place till that time; Ath Fenè is its name ever since. It is for this it is
called Ath Fenè, because the warriors of the Fenè from the east and the
warriors of the Fenè from the west encountered one another in battle and
contest man for man on the brink of the ford.

[6]Touching the four grand provinces of Erin, they encamped at Slemain Midè
('Slane of Meath') that night, and[6] Conchobar and Celtchar returned that
night to the green in Iraird Cuillinn hard by the men of Ulster. Thereupon
Celtchar aroused the men of Ulster.

    [5-5] Stowe.
    [6-6] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 306]



[W.4954.] It was then that Celtchar [2]in his sleep[2] uttered these words
[3]to Conchobar[3] in the midst of the men of Ulster in Iraird Cuillinn
that night:[a]--

    "Thirty hundred chariot-men;
    An hundred horse-companions stout;
    An hundred with an hundred druids!
    To lead us will not fail
    The hero of the land,
    Conchobar with hosts around him!
    Let the battle line be formed!
    Gather now, ye warriors!
    Battle shall be fought
    At Garech and Ilgarech
    On aftermorrow's morn!"

    [1-1] This title is supplied by the present writer.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] YBL. 45a, 38.

    [a] I can make nothing of the first four lines of the following poem,
    and they are consequently omitted from the translation. The translation
    of the remainder of the _rosc_ is largely conjectural.

[4]Or it was Cuscraid Menn ('the Stammerer') of Macha, Conchobar's son, who
sang this lay on the night before the battle ...,[b] after the lay 'Arise
ye Kings of Macha' which Loegaire Buadach ('the Victorious ') sang.[4]

    [4-4] YBL. 45a, 45-45b, 2.

    [b] There is a small gap in the MS.

On that same night Cormac Conlongas, Conchobar's son, spake these words to
the men of Erin at Slemain Midè that night:--

    [W.4973.] "A wonder of a morning,
    A wondrous [1]time![1]
    When hosts will be confused,
    [2]Kings[2] turned back in flight!
    [3]Necks will be broken,
    The sand[a] made red,[3]
    When forth breaks the battle,
    The seven chieftains before,
    Of Ulster's host round Conchobar!
    Their women will they defend,
    For their herds will they fight
    At Garech and Ilgarech,
    On the morning after the morrow!
    [4]Heroes will be slaughtered then,
    Hounds cut to pieces,
    Steeds overwhelmed!"[4]

    [1-1] YBL. 45b, 7.

    [2-2] Reading with YBL. 45b, 8; LL. has 'hosts'.

    [3-3] YBL. 45b, 8-9.

    [a] Or, 'the sun.'

    [4-4] YBL. 45b, 11-14.

On that same night, Dubthach Doel ('the Scorpion')[b] of Ulster [5]saw the
dream wherein were the hosts at Garech and Ilgarech. Then it was[5] he
uttered these words [6]in his sleep[6] among the men of Erin at Slemain
Midè that night:--

    "Great be the morn,
    The morn of Meath!
    Great be the truce
    The [7]truce[7] of Culenn!

    "Great be the fight,
    The fight of [8]Clartha![8]
    Great, too, the steeds,
    The steeds of Assal!

    "Great be the plague,
    The plague of Tuath-Bressi![c]
    Great be the storm,
    Ulster's battle-storm round Conchobar!

    "Their women will they defend,
    For their herds will they fight
    At Garech and Ilgarech,
    On the morning after the morrow!"

    [5-5] YBL. 45b, 4-5.

    [6-6] YBL. 45b, 5-6.

    [7-7] YBL. 45b, 19.

    [8-8] Reading with Stowe.

    [b] See note, page 198.

    [c] Probably Connacht.

[W.5003.] Then [1]when the hosts were assembled at Garech and Ilgarech,[1]
Dubthach was awakened from his sleep, so that Nemain brought confusion on
the host and they fell trembling in their arms under the points of their
spears and weapons, so that an hundred warriors of them fell dead
[LL.fo.95b.] in the midst of their camp and quarters at the fearfulness of
the shout they raised on high. Be that as it would, that night was not the
calmest for the men of Erin that they passed before or since, because of
the forebodings and predictions and because of the spectres and visions
that were revealed to them.

    [1-1] YBL. 45b, 4-5.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 309]



[2]While these things were being done, the Connachtmen by the counsel of
Ailill, Medb, and Fergus, resolved to send messengers from thence to spy
out the men of Ulster, to make certain if they had taken possession of the
plain.[2] [W.5011.] Said Ailill: "Truly have I succeeded," said he, "in
laying waste Ulster and the land of the Picts [3]and Cualnge[3] from Monday
at Summer's end till Spring's beginning. We have taken their women and
their sons and their children, their steeds and their troops of horses,
their herds and their flocks and their droves. We have laid level their
hills after them, so that they have become lowlands and are all one height.
For this cause, will I await them no longer here, but let them offer me
battle on Mag Ai, if so it please them. But, say here what we will, some
one shall go forth [4]from us[4] to watch the great, wide plain of Meath,
to know if the men of Ulster come hither. And, should the men of Ulster
come hither, I will in no wise be the first to retreat [5]till battle be
given them,[5] for it was never the wont of a good king to retreat."

    [1-1] YBL. 45b, 22.

    [2-2] YBL. 45b, 23-26.

    [3-3] Stowe.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"Who should fitly go thither?" asked all. "Who but macRoth our chief runner
yonder," [6]answered another group of them.[6]

    [6-6] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

[W.5023.] MacRoth went his way to survey the great wide-spreading plain of
Meath. Not long was macRoth there when he heard something: A rush and a
crash and a clatter and a clash. Not slight the thing he judged it to be,
but as though it was the firmament itself that fell on the man-like face of
the world, or as though it was the furrowed, blue-bordered ocean that broke
o'er the tufted brow of the earth, or as though the ground had gone asunder
in quakes, or as though the forest fell, each of the trees in the crotches
and forks and branches of the other. But why give further accounts! The
wood's wild beasts were hunted out on the plain, so that beneath them the
grassy forelocks of the plain of Meath were not to be seen.

MacRoth hastened to tell this tale at the place where were Ailill and Medb
and Fergus and the nobles of the men of Erin. MacRoth related the whole
matter to them.

"What was that there, O Fergus?" asked Ailill; [1]"to what likenest thou
it?"[1] "Not hard [2]for me to say what it resembled.[2] It was the rush
and tramp and clatter that he heard," said Fergus, "the din and thunder,
the tumult and turmoil [3]of the Ulstermen.[3] It was the men of Ulster
[4]arising from their 'Pains,'[4] who have come into the woods, the throng
of champions and battle-heroes cutting down with their swords the woods in
the way of their chariots. This it was that hath put the wild animals to
flight on the plain, so that the grassy forelocks of the field of Meath are
hidden beneath them!"

    [1-1] YBL. 46a, 2.

    [2-2] YBL. 46a, 1-2.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] YBL. 46a, 3-4.

Another time macRoth surveyed the plain and he saw something: A heavy, grey
mist that filled [5]the glens and the slopes,[5] [6]the upper void and
veil,[6] the space between the heavens and earth. It seemed to him that
[7]the hills[7] were islands in lakes that he saw rising up out of the
sloping [W.5044.] valleys of mist. It seemed to him they were wide-yawning
caverns that he saw there leading into that mist. It seemed to him it was
all-white, flaxy sheets of linen, or sifted snow a-falling that he saw
there through a rift in the mist. It seemed to him it was a flight of many,
varied, wonderful, numerous birds [1]that he[a] saw in the same mist,[1] or
the constant sparkling of shining stars [LL.fo.96a.] on a bright, clear
night of hoar-frost, or sparks of red-flaming fire. He heard something: A
rush and a din and a hurtling sound, a noise and a thunder, a tumult and a
turmoil, [2]and a great wind that all but took the hair from his[b] head
and threw him[c] on his[b] back, and yet the wind of the day was not
great.[2] He hastened on to impart these tidings at the place where were
Ailill and Medb and Fergus and the nobles of the men of Erin. He reported
the matter to them.

    [5-5] YBL. 45b, 40-41.

    [6-6] Stowe.

    [7-7] YBL. 45b, 41.

    [a] MS.: 'I.'

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] YBL. 45b, 46-46a, 1.

    [b] MS. 'my.'

    [c] MS. 'me.'

"But what was that, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "Not hard to say," Fergus made
answer. "This was the great, grey mist that he saw which filled the space
between the heavens and earth, namely, the streaming breath both of horses
and men, the smoke of the earth and the dust of the roads as it rose over
them with the driving of the wind, so that it made a heavy, deep-grey misty
vapour thereof in the clouds and the air.

"These were the islands over lakes that he saw there, and the tops of hills
and of heights over the sloping valleys of mist, even the heads of the
champions and battle-heroes over the chariots and the chariots withal.
These were the wide-yawning caverns that he saw there leading into that
mist, even the mouths and the nostrils of the horses and champions exhaling
and inhaling the sun and the wind with the speed of the host. These were
the all-white, flax-like cloths that he saw there or the streaming
[W.5066.] snow a-falling, to wit the foam and the froth that the bridles of
the reins flung from the bits of strong, stout steeds with the stress,
[1]with the swiftness and strength and speed[1] of the host.

    [1-1] H. 1. 13.

"These were the flights of many, various, wonderful, numerous birds that he
saw there, even the dust of the ground and the top of the earth [2]and the
sods[2] which the horses flung from their feet and their hoofs and arose
[3]over the heads of the host[3] with the driving of the wind.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe.

"This was the rush and the crash and the hurtling sound, the din and the
thunder, the clatter and clash that he heard there, to wit the shield-shock
of shields and the jangle of javelins and the hard-smiting of swords and
the ring of helmets, the clangour of breast-plates and the rattle of arms
and the fury of feats, the straining of ropes and the whirr of wheels and
the trampling of horses' hoofs and the creaking of chariots, and the deep
voices of heroes and battle-warriors coming hither towards us.

"This was the constant sparkling of shining stars on a bright, clear
night that he saw there and the sparks of red-flaming fire, even the
bloodthirsty, terrible eyes of the champions and battle-warriors from under
beautiful, well-shaped, finely-adorned battle-helmets; eyes full of the
fury and rage they brought with them, against the which neither before nor
since has equal combat nor overwhelming force of battle prevailed, and
against which it will never prevail till the very day of doom and of life!"

"We make not much of that," quoth Medb;[a] [4]"we will await them.[4]
[5]For[5] there are goodly warriors and goodly fighting-men with us to cope
with them." [6]"Thou shall have need of them," answered Fergus.[6] "Truly,
I count not on that, O Medb. For I give my word, thou [W.5087.] shalt find
no host in [1]all[1] Erin, nor in Alba, [2]nor in the western part of the
world from Greece and Scythia westwards to the Orkney Islands, the Pillars
of Hercules, Bregon's Tower and the islands of Cadiz[2] to cope with the
men of Ulster when once their anger comes on them!"

    [a] 'Ailill,' YBL. 46a, 23.

    [4-4] YBL. 46a, 22.

    [5-5] Stowe.

    [6-6] YBL. 46a, 23.

    [1-1] YBL. 46a, 24.

    [2-2] YBL. 45a, 25-28.

Then did the four grand provinces of Erin pitch camp and make lodgment at
Clartha for that night. They sent forth folk to keep watch and guard
against Ulster, to the end that the Ulstermen might not come upon them
without warning, without notice.

Then it was that Conchobar and Celtchar with thirty hundred bristling
chariot-fighters set forth, till they halted at Slemain Midè ('Slane of
Meath') [LL.fo.96b.] in the rear of the host of Erin. But, though 'halted'
we have said, [3]a very brief halt made they there.[3] Not straightway
pitched they camp, but proceeded for a favourable sign to the quarters of
Ailill and Medb, so they might be the first of all to redden their hands
[4]on the men of Erin.[4]

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

[5]Then did macRoth go again to view the hosting of the men of Ulster, so
that he reached their encampment at Slane of Meath.[5] It was not long
macRoth had been there when he saw something: An incomparable, immense
troop of horsemen in Slane of Meath coming straight from the north-east. He
hastened forward to where were Ailill and Medb and Fergus and the chiefs of
the men of Erin. Ailill asked tidings of him on his arrival: "Say,
macRoth," queried Ailill; "sawest thou aught of the men of Ulster on the
trail of the host this day?" "Truly I know not," answered macRoth; "but I
saw an incomparable, immense troop of horsemen in Slane of Meath coming
straight from the north-east." "But how many numbered the horse-troop?"
asked Ailill. "Not fewer, meseemed, [W.5107.] than thirty hundred fully
armed chariot-fighters were they, even ten hundred and twenty hundred fully
armed chariot-fighters," macRoth made answer.

    [5-5] YBL. 46a, 28-31.

"So, O Fergus," quoth Ailill, [1]"those are the warriors of Ulster with
Conchobar![1] How thinkest thou to terrify us till now with the smoke and
dust and the breath of a mighty host, while all the battle-force thou hast
is that we see yonder!"

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"A little too soon belittlest thou them," Fergus retorted; "for mayhap the
bands are more numerous than is said they are."

"Let us take good, swift counsel on the matter," said Medb; "for yon huge,
most fierce, most furious man will attack us we ween, Conchobar, to wit,
son of Fachtna Fathach ('the Giant') son of Ross Ruad ('the Red') son of
Rudraige, himself High King of Ulster and son of the High King of Erin. Let
there be a hollow array of the men of Erin before Conchobar and a force of
thirty hundred ready to close in from behind, and the men shall be taken
and in no wise wounded; for, no more than is a caitiff's lot is this
whereto they are come!" Wherefore this is the third most derisive word that
was spoken on the Cattle-lifting of Cualnge, even to take Conchobar [2]and
his people[2] prisoners without wounding, and to inflict a caitiff's lot on
the ten hundred and twenty hundred who accompanied the kings of Ulster.

    [2-2] Stowe.

And Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar heard that, and he knew that unless
he took vengeance at once upon Medb for her great boast, he would not
avenge it till the very day of doom and of life.

It was then that Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar arose with his troop of
thirty hundred to inflict the revenge of battle and prowess upon Ailill and
Medb. Ailill arose [W.5129.] with his thirty hundred to meet him. Medb
arose with her thirty hundred. The Manè arose with their thirty hundred.
The sons of Maga arose with their thirty hundred. The Leinstermen and the
Munstermen and the people of Temair arose and made interposition between
them, so that on both sides each warrior sat down near to the other and
near by his arms.

Meanwhile a hollow array of men was made by Medb to face Conchobar and a
[1]warlike[1] band of thirty hundred ready to close in from behind.
Conchobar proceeded to attack the circle of men, [2]to force an opening.[2]
And he was far from seeking any particular breach, but he worked a small
gap, broad enough for a man-at-arms, right in front over against him in the
circle of combatants, and effected a breach of an hundred on his right
side, and a breach of an hundred on his left, and he turned in on them, and
mingled [3]among them[3] on their ground, and there fell of them eight
hundred fully brave warriors at his hands. And thereafter he left them
without blood or bleeding from himself and took his station in Slane of
Meath at the head of the men of Ulster.

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] Reading with Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"Come, ye men of Erin!" cried Ailill. "Let some one go hence to scan the
wide-stretching plain of Meath, to know in what guise the men of Ulster
come to the height in Slane of Meath, to bring us an account of their arms
and their gear [4]and their trappings, their kings and their royal
leaders,[4] their champions and battle-warriors and gap-breakers of
hundreds and their yeomen, [5]to which to listen will shorten the time for
us."[5] [LL.fo.97a.] "Who should go thither?" asked all. "Who but macRoth
the chief runner," Aililla[a] made answer.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [5-5] Following Stowe.

    [a] 'Fergus,' H. 1. 13 and Stowe.

MacRoth went his way till he took his station in Slane [W.5151.] of Meath,
awaiting the men of Ulster. The Ulstermen were busied in marching to that
hill from gloaming of early morn till sunset hour in the evening. In such
manner the earth was never left naked under them during all that time,
every division of them under its king, and every band under its leader, and
every king and every leader and every lord with the number of his force and
his muster, his gathering and his levy apart. Howbeit, by sunset hour in
the evening all the men of Ulster had taken position on that height in
Slane of Meath.

MacRoth came forward with the account of their first company to the place
where Ailill and Medb and Fergus were and the nobles of the men of
Erin. Ailill and Medb asked tidings of him when he arrived. "Come,
macRoth," quoth Ailill, "tell us in what manner of array do the Ulstermen
advance to the hill of Slane in Meath?" "Truly, I know not," answered
macRoth, "except [1]this alone:[1] There came a fiery, powerful, most
well-favoured company upon the hill of Slane in Meath," said macRoth. "It
seemed, on scanning and spying, that[a] thrice thirty hundred[a] warriors
were in it. [2]Anon[2] they all doffed their garments and threw up a turfy
mound for their leader to sit on. A youth, slender, long, exceeding great
of stature, fair to behold, proud of mien, in the van of the troop. Fairest
of the princes of the world was he in the midst of his warriors, as well in
fearsomeness and in awe, in courage and command; fair-yellow hair, curled,
delicately arranged in ridges and bushy had he [3]reaching to the nape of
his neck;[3] a comely, clear-rosy countenance he had, [4]narrow below and
broad above;[4] a deep-blue-grey, angry eye, devouring. [W.5175.] and
fear-inspiring, in his head; a two-forked beard, yellow, fairly curled, on
his chin; a purple mantle with fringes and five-folded wrapped around him;
a [1]conspicuous,[1] salmon-shaped brooch of [2]red[2] gold in the mantle
over his breast; a shining-white, hooded shirt under red interweaving of
red gold he wore next his white skin; a bright-white shield with figures of
beasts of red gold thereon; a gold-hilted, hammered sword in one of his
hands; a broad and grey-green lance-head [3]on an ashen shaft[3] in the
other; [4]the pillar of a king's house on his back.[4] That warrior took
his station on the top of the mound, so that each one came up to him and
his company took their places around him.

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [a-a] 'Thirty hundred,' Stowe, H. 1. 13, and YBL. 46a, 47.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13, and, similarly, YBL. 46a, 42.

    [4-4] YBL. 46a, 47.

    [1-1] YBL. 46a, 44.

    [2-2] YBL. 46a, 44.

    [3-3] YBL. 46b, 3.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13. That is, 'a great spear.'

"There came also another company to the same height in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "Second of the two divisions of thirty hundred it was,
[5]and next to the other in numbers and attendance, in accoutrements and
fearfulness and horror.[5] A [6]great,[6] [7]hero-like,[7] well-favoured
warrior was there likewise at the head of that company; fair-yellow hair he
wore; a bright, curly beard about his chin; a green mantle wrapped around
him; a bright-silvern pin in the mantle at his breast; a brown-red,
soldier's tunic under red interweaving of red gold trussed up against his
fair skin down to his knees; a candle of a king's house[a] in his hand,
with windings of silver and bands of gold; wonderful the feats and games
performed with the spear in the hand of the youth; the windings of silver
ran round it by the side of the bands of gold, now from the butt to the
socket, while at other times it was the bands of gold that circled by the
side of the windings of silver from socket to spear-end; a smiting shield
with [W.5195.] plaited edge he bore; a sword with hilt-pieces of ivory, and
ornamented with thread of gold on his left side. This warrior took his
station on the left of the leader[1] of the first company[1] who had come
to the mound, and his followers got them seated around him. But, though we
have said they sat, they did not verily seat themselves at once, but
[2]they sat thus,[2] with their knees on the ground and the rims of their
shields against their chins, so long it seemed to them till they should be
let at us. But, one thing yet: Meseemed that [LL.fo.97b.] the great, fierce
youth who led the troop stammered grievously [3]in his speech.[3]

    [5-5] YBL. 46b, 8-9.

    [6-6] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [7-7] YBL. 46b, 9.

    [a] That is, 'a flaming-red spear.'

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] YBL. 46b, 19.

    [3-3] YBL. 46b, 21.

"Still another battalion there came to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "Second to its fellow in number and followers and
apparel. A handsome, broad-headed warrior at the head of that troop;
dark-yellow hair in tresses he wore; an eager, dark-blue eye rolling
restlessly in his head; a bright, curled beard, forked and tapering, at his
chin; a dark-grey cloak with fringes, folded around him; a leaf-shaped
brooch of silvered bronze in the mantle over his breast; a white-hooded
shirt [4]reaching to his knees[4] [5]was girded[5] next to his skin; a
bright shield with raised devices of beasts thereon he bore; a sword with
white silver hilt in battle-scabbard at his waist; the pillar of a king's
palace he bore on his back. This warrior took his station on the hill of
turf facing the warrior who first came to the hill, and his company took
their places around him. But sweet as the tone of lutes in masters' hands
when long sustained, so seemed to me the melodious sound of the voice and
the speech of the youth conversing with the warrior who first came to the
hill and offering him every counsel."

    [4-4] YBL. 46b, 30.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"But who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. [W.5218.] "Truly, we know
him well," Fergus made answer. "This, to wit, is the first hero for whom
they threw up the mound of turf on the height of the hill and whom all
approached, namely, Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathach son of Ross Ruad son
of Rudraige, High King of Ulster, and son of the High King of Erin. [1]It
is he that sat on the mound of sods.[1] This, to wit, is the stammering,
great warrior," [2]Fergus continued,[2] "who took station on [3]his
father[3] Conchobar's left, namely, Cuscraid Menn ('the Stammerer') of
Macha, Conchobar's son, with the sons of the king of Ulster [4]and the sons
of the princes of the men of Erin[4] close by him. This is the spear he saw
in his hand, even the 'Torch of Cuscraid,' with its windings of silver and
bands of gold. It is the wont of that spear that neither before nor after
do the silver windings run round it by the side of the bands of gold but
only on the eve of a triumph. Belike, it is almost before a triumph they
course round it now.

    [1-1] YBL. 46b, 36.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 46b, 40.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"The well-favoured, broad-headed warrior who seated himself on the hill in
the presence of the youth who first came on the mound, namely is Sencha son
of Ailill son of Maelcho 'the Eloquent' of Ulster, he that is wont to
appease the hosts of the men of Erin. But, yet a word more I say: It is not
the counsel of cowardice nor of fear that he gives his lord this day on the
day of strife, but counsel to act with valour and courage and wisdom and
cunning. But, again one word further I say," added Fergus: "It is a goodly
people for performing great deeds that has risen there early this day
around Conchobar!" "We make not much of them," quoth Medb; "we have goodly
warriors and stout youths to deal with them." "I count not that for much,"
answered Fergus again; "but I say this word: Thou wilt not find in Erin nor
in Alba a host to be a match [W.5242.] for the men of Ulster when once
their anger comes upon them."

"Yet another company there came to the same mound in Slane of Meath," said
macRoth. [1]"Not fewer than a battalion of thirty hundred was in it.[1] A
fair, tall, great warrior [LL.fo.98a.] in the van of that battalion, and he
of fiery spirit, with noble countenance. Brown, dark-coloured hair he wore,
smooth and thin on his forehead; a dull-grey cloak girt around him; a
silver pin in the cloak over his breast; a bright, sleeved tunic next to
his skin; a curved shield with sharp, plaited rim he bore; a five-pronged
spear in his hand; a straightsword with ornaments of walrus-tooth in its
place." "But, who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "In very sooth,
we know him," Fergus made answer. "The putting of hands on strife is he; a
battle-warrior for combat and destruction on foes is the one who is come
there, [2]even[2] Eogan son of Durthacht, [3]king of the stout-handed[3]
Fernmag in the north, is the one yonder."

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13, and, similarly, YBL. 47a, 1.

    [2-2] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 47a, 12.

    [3-3] Reading with Stowe and H. 1. 13; LL. seems to be corrupt here.

"Another battalion there came thither to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "It is surely no false word that boldly they took the
hill. Deep the terror, great the fear they brought with them. [4]Terrible
the clangour of arms they made as they advanced.[4] Their raiment all
thrown back behind them. A great-headed, warlike warrior in the forefront
of the company, and he eager for blood, dreadful to look upon; spare,
grizzly hair had he; huge, yellow eyes in his head; a yellow, close-napped
(?) cloak around him; a pin of yellow gold in the cloak over his breast; a
yellow tunic with lace next his skin; [5]a great, smiting sword under his
waist;[5] in his hand a nailed, broad-plated, long-shafted spear with a
drop [W.5262.] of blood on its edge." "But, who might that be?" asked
Ailill of Fergus. "In truth then, we know him, that warrior," Fergus gave
answer. "Neither battle nor battle-field nor combat nor contest shuns he,
the one who is come thither. Loegaire Buadach ('the Victorious') son of
Connad Buidè ('the Yellow') son of Iliach, from Immail in the north, is the
one yonder."

    [4-4] YBL. 47a, 18-19.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"Another company there came there too to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "A thick-necked, burly warrior at the head of that
troop; black, bushy hair he had; a scarred, crimsoned face he had; a
deep-blue-grey, blazing eye in his head; a spear set with eyes of glass,
casting shadows over him; a black shield with a hard rim of silvered bronze
upon him; a dun-coloured cloak of curly wool about him; a brooch of pale
gold in the cloak over his breast; a three-striped tunic of silk [1]with
red embroidery[1] next to his skin; a sword with ivory hilt and with
ornamentation of thread of gold over his dress on the outside." "But, who
might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "We know him full well,"
Fergus made answer. "He is the putting of hand on strife; a wave of the
high sea that drowneth [2]the small streams;[2] he is the man of three
shouts; the sea over walls; [3]the venomous destruction of enemies,[3] the
man who comes thither. Muremur ('Thick-neck') son of Gerrcend ('Short-head')
from Moduirn in the north is the one yonder."

    [1-1] YBL. 47a, 40.

    [2-2] YBL. 47a, 43.

    [3-3] YBL. 47a, 44.

"Still another company there came to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. [4]"Not fewer than thirty hundred, the battle line of
the troops.[4] A [5]broad-headed,[5] stout warrior, pleasantly found of
limb, in the front of that troop; he is dried and sallow; he is wild and
bull-like; a dun, round eye, proud in his head; [W.5283.] yellow, very
curly is his hair; a red, round shield with hard-silver rim about it he
bore; a [1]trebly riveted,[1] broad-plated, long-shafted spear in his hand;
a streaked-grey cloak around him; a salmon-shaped brooch of copper in the
cloak over his breast; a hooded kirtle girded around him reaching down to
his calves; a straightsword with ornaments of walrus-tooth on his left
thigh." "But who might he be?" [LL.fo.98b.] asked Ailill of Fergus. "I know
him indeed," Fergus made answer. "He is the prop of battle; [2]he is the
wild heat of anger; he is the daring of every battle;[2] he is the triumph
of every combat; he is the tool that pierces, is the man who comes
thither. Connud macMorna, from the Callann in the north, is the man

    [4-4] YBL. 47b, 12-13.

    [5-5] Reading with Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"There came still another company to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. [3]"A company most fair to look upon, most notable both
in numbers and in attendance and apparel.[3] It is indeed no lying word, it
is with might and storm they gained the hill, so that [4]with the clash of
arms they made at the approach of that company[4] they startled the hosts
that had arrived there before them. A man, comely and noble, in advance of
that band; most well-favoured to see of the men of the world, whether in
shape or form or frame; [5]whether in hair or eyes or fearfulness; whether
in voice or brightness or knowledge or adornment; whether in rank or wisdom
or kindred;[5] whether in arms or apparel; whether in size or worth or
beauty; whether in figure or valour or conduct." [6]"Who might that man be,
O Fergus?" asked Ailill.[6] "Then it is surely no lying word," Fergus made
answer: "A fitting saying is this, 'No fool 'mongst the naked'[a] is he who
[W.5299.] comes thither. He is the foe of all others; he is a power
irresistible; the storm-wave that drowneth, the glitter of ice is that
well-favoured man. Fedilmid [1]son of[1] [2]Ilar Cetach of Cualnge,[2] from
Ellonn in the north, is he yonder, [3]with trophies from other lands after
dealing destruction to his enemies."[3]

    [1-1] YBL. 47b, 20.

    [2-2] YBL. 47b, 21-22.

    [3-3] YBL. 47a, 48-49.

    [4-4] YBL. 47a, 50-51.

    [5-5] YBL. 47b, 1-3.

    [6-6] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [a] A proverbial saying, the exact force of which we cannot determine.
    The reading of H. 1. 13 may be translated, 'No fool on a board (or
    shield ?),' that is, a clown or tumbler (?).

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] Reading with Stowe.

    [3-3] YBL. 47b, 9-10.

"Still another battalion came thither to the same hill in Slane of Meath,"
macRoth proceeded. [4]"It is the array of an army for greatness.[4] Not
often is a warrior seen more handsome than the warrior that is in the front
rank of that company. Bushy, red-yellow hair he wore; [5]his countenance
comely, ruddy, well-formed;[5] his face [6]slender below,[6] broad above; a
deep-blue-grey, beaming eye, and it flashing and laughing in his head; a
well-set, shapely man, tall, slender below and broad above; red, thin lips
he had; teeth shining and pearl-like; [7]a clear, ringing voice;[7] a
white-skinned body; [8]most beautiful of the forms of men;[8] [9]a purple
cloak wrapped around him;[9] a brooch of gold in the mantle over his
breast; a [10]hooded[10] tunic of royal silk with a red hem of red gold he
wore next to his white skin; a bright, [11]curved[11] shield with
[12]wonderful,[12] [13]many-coloured[13] devious figures of beasts in red
gold thereon [14]and with hollows of silver he bore at his left side;[14] a
gold-hilted, inlaid sword [15]hanging from his neck[15] at his left side; a
long, grey-edged spear [W.5313.] along with a cutting bye-spear of attack,
with thongs for throwing, with fastenings of silvered bronze, in his hand."

    [4-4] YBL. 47b, 26.

    [5-5] YBL. 47b, 29-30; Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [6-6] Translating from YBL. 47b, 30, Stowe and H. 1. 13; LL. has, 'very

    [7-7] YBL. 47b, 32.

    [8-8] YBL. 47b, 34, Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [9-9] Reading with Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [10-10] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 47b, 40-41.

    [11-11] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 47b, 36.

    [12-12] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [13-13] YBL. 47b, 37.

    [14-14] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 47b, 37.

    [15-15] YBL. 47b, 40.

"But who might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus.  "We know him full
well," Fergus made answer. "He is half of a battle; he is the dividing[a]
of combat; he is the wild rage of a watchhound, the man who is come
thither; Rochad son of Fatheman, from Rigdonn in the north, is he
yonder. [1]Your son-in-law is he[1]; [2]he wedded your daughter, namely
Finnabair,[2] [3]without dower, and he brought neither marriage-gift nor
bride-price to her."[3]

    [a] That is, 'a single-handed warrior,' translating from YBL. 47b, 43
    and Stowe.

    [1-1] YBL. 47b. 45.

    [2-2] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 47b, 46.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"Another battalion there came to the same hill in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "A stalwart, thick-thighed, [4]gross-calved[4] warrior
at the head of that company; little but every limb of him as stout as a
man. Verily it is no lying word, he is a man down to the ground," said he.
"Brown, bushy hair upon his head; a round-faced, ruddy countenance
[5]covered with scars[5] he had; a flashing, proud eye in his head;
a splendid, dexterous man was there, in this wise: Accompanied by
black-haired, black-eyed youths; with a red, flaming banner; [6]with terror
and fearsomeness; with wonderful appearance, both of arms and apparel and
raiment and countenance and splendour; with converse of heroes; with
champions' deeds;[6] with wilful rashness, so that they seek to rout
overwhelming numbers outside of equal combat, [7]with their wrath upon
foes, with raids into hostile lands,[7] with the violence of assault upon
them, without having aught assistance from [W.5327.] Conchobar. [1]It is no
lying word, stiffly they made their march, that company to Slane of

    [4-4] YBL. 47b, 48, Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [5-5] YBL. 48a, 2, Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [6-6] Stowe, and, similarly, YBL. 48a, 4-6, H. 1. 13.

    [7-7] YBL. 48a, 8-9, and, similarly, Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and, similarly, YBL. 48a, 10-11.

"But, who might he be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Aye then we know him,"
Fergus made answer. "A thirst for valour and prowess; a thirst for madness
and fury; [2]a man of strength and of courage, of pride and of greatness of
heart[2] is he that came thither. The welding of hosts and of arms; the
point of battle and of slaughter of the men of the north of Erin, mine own
real foster-brother himself, Fergus son of Letè, [3]the king[3] from Linè
in the north, is the man yonder!"

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] YBL. 48a, 14.

"Still another [4]great, fierce[4] company came to the same hill in Slane
of Meath," macRoth continued. [5]"A battle-line with strange garments
upon them,[5] steadfast, without equal. A [6]comely,[6] handsome,
[7]matchless,[7] untiring warrior in the van of this company; [8]the flower
of every form, whether as regards hair, or eye, or whiteness; whether of
size, or followers or fitness.[8] Next to his skin a blue, narrow-bordered
cloth, with strong, woven and twisted hoops of silvered bronze, with
becoming, sharp-fashioned buttons of red gold on its slashes and
breast-borders; a [9]green[9] mantle, pieced together with the choicest of
all colours, [10]folded about him;[10] [11]a brooch of pale gold in the
cloak over his breast;[11] five circles of gold, [LL.fo.99a.]  that is, his
shield, he bore on him; a tough, obdurate, straight-bladed sword for a
hero's handling hung high on his left side. A straight, fluted spear,
flaming red [12]and venomous[12] in his hand." "But, who might that be?"
asked [W.5342.] Ailill of Fergus. "Truly, we know him well," Fergus made
answer. [1]"Fiery is the manner of the warlike champion who has so come
thither.[1] The choice flower of royal poets is he. He is the rush on the
rath; he is the way to the goal; fierce is his valour, the man that came
thither; Amargin son of the smith Ecetsalach ('the Grimy'), the noble poet
from the Buas in the north, is he."

    [4-4] YBL. 48a, 16.

    [5-5] YBL. 48a, 17.

    [6-6] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 48a, 18.

    [7-7] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [8-8] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 48a, 19-20.

    [9-9] YBL. 48a, 21.

    [10-10] YBL. 48a, 21.

    [11-11] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and, similarly, YBL. 48a, 22.

    [12-12] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [1-1] YBL. 48a, 24-25.

"There came yet another company there to the same hill in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "A fair, yellow-haired hero in the front rank of that
band. Fair was the man, both in hair and eye and beard and eyebrows and
apparel; a rimmed shield he bore; a gold-hilted, overlaid sword on his left
side; in his hand, a five-pointed spear that reflected its glare over
the entire host, [2]and a hollow lance in his hand. Hero-like was his

    [2-2] YBL. 48b, 1-2.

"But who was that man?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "In sooth, we know him
well," Fergus made answer. "Cherished, in truth, is that warrior by the
people, he that to us is come thither; cherished, the stout-blow-dealing
beast; cherished, the bear of great deeds against foes, [3]with the
violence of his attack.[3] Feradach Finn Fectnach ('the Fair and
Righteous') from Nemed ('the Grove') in Sliab Fuait in the north, is the
one that is come there."

    [3-3] Reading with Stowe and H. 1. 13.

[4]"Another company there came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued
macRoth. "Three bold, high-spirited youths of noble countenance, [5]fiery
and noble,[5] in the front rank of that company. Three cloaks of the one
colour [6]they wore folded[6] upon them; [7]three close shorn, blae-yellow
heads; three gold brooches over their arms; three sleeved tunics with
embroidery of red gold, girded around them;[7] three shields wholly alike
they bore; [8]three gold-hilted swords on their shoulders;[8] three
five-pointed, [W.5360.] [1]broad and grey-green[1] spears in their
[2]right[2] hands." "Who were those men there?" Ailill asked. "I know,"
Fergus answered; "the three princes of Roth, the three champions of Colph,
the three of Midluachair, great in achievements, three seasoned warriors of
the east of Erin, to wit, the three sons of Fiachna in quest of their bull
are there, even Ros and Darè and Imchad, for theirs was the possession of
the Brown Bull of Cualnge. Even had they come alone, they would have
offered you battle in defence of their bull and their drove, even though
before them the enemy should not be routed."[4]

    [4-4] Stowe, and, partly, YBL. 48b, 33-45.

    [5-5] YBL. 48b, 34.

    [6-6] YBL. 48b, 36.

    [7-7] YBL. 48b, 35-38.

    [8-8] YBL. 48b, 39.

    [1-1] YBL. 48b, 40.

    [2-2] YBL. 48b, 40.

"Yet another company there came thither to the same hill in Slane of
Meath," said macRoth. "Two [3]fair,[3] tender, young warriors at the head
of that company, [5]and both wholly alike. Brown, curly hair on the head of
one of them; fair, yellow hair on that of the other;[5] two green cloaks
wrapped about them; two bright-silver brooches in the cloaks over their
breasts; two tunics of smooth yellow silk next to their skin; bright-hilted
swords on their belts; [6]two bright shields with devious figures of beasts
in silver;[6] two five-pronged spears with windings of pure bright silver
in their hands. Moreover, their years were nigh the same. [7]Together they
lifted their feet and set them down again, for it was not their way for
either of them to lift up his feet past the other."[7]

    [3-3] YBL. 48b, 20.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [6-6] YBL. 48b, 22.

    [7-7] YBL. 48b, 23-25.

"But, who might they be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Well do we know them,"
Fergus made answer. "Two single, strong-necked champions are they; two
united flames; two united torches; two champions; two heroes; two
ridge-poles of hosts[a]; two dragons; two thunderbolts; two destroyers (?);
two boars; two bold ones; two mad ones; the two loved ones of Ulster around
their king; [W.5378.] [1]two breach-makers of hundreds; two spencers; the
two darlings of the north of Erin, namely[1] Fiacha and Fiachna have come
thither, two sons of Conchobar son of Fachtna son of Ross Ruad son of

    [a] That is, 'two chiefs of hospitality.'

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"There came also another company to that same mound," said macRoth. "'Tis
the engulphing of the sea for size; red-flaming fire [2]for splendour;[2] a
legion for number; a rock for strength; annihilation for battle; thunder
for might. A [3]rough-visaged,[3] wrathful, terrible, ill-favoured one at
the head of that band, and he was big-nosed, large-eared, apple-eyed,
[4]red-limbed,[4] [5]great-bellied, thick-lipped.[5] Coarse, grizzly hair
he wore; a streaked-grey cloak about him; a skewer of iron in the cloak
over his breast, so that it reached from one of his shoulders to the other;
a rough, three-striped tunic next to his skin; a sword of seven charges of
remelted iron he bore on his rump; a brown hillock he bore, namely his
shield; a great, grey spear with thirty nails driven through its socket he
had in his hand. But, what need to tell further? [6]All the host arose to
meet him, and[6] the lines and battalions were thrown into disorder at the
sight of that warrior, as he came surrounded by his company to the hill, in
Slane of Meath [7]and the stream of battle-hosts with him."[7] "But who
might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Ah, but we know him well,"
Fergus made answer. "He is the half of the battle; he is the head of strife
[8]of Ulster;[8] he is the head [9]of combat[9] in valour; [10]he is the
storm-wave that drowneth;[10] he is the sea overbounds, the man that is
come thither; the mighty Celtchar son of Uthechar, from Lethglass in the
north, is the man there!"

    [2-2] YBL. 48a, 30.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 48a, 33.

    [4-4] H. 1. 13 and YBL. 48a, 36.

    [5-5] YBL. 48a, 35.

    [6-6] YBL. 48a, 42.

    [7-7] H. 1. 13 and Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] YBL. 48a, 44.

    [10-10] YBL. 48a, 45-46.

[W.5397.] "There came yet another company thither to the same hill in Slane
of Meath," said macRoth; "one that is firm and furious; one that is ugly
and fearful. A great-bellied, big-mouthed champion, [1]the size of whose
mouth is the mouth of a horse,[1] in the van of that troop; with but one
clear eye, and [2]half-brained,[2] long-handed. Brown, very curly hair he
wore; a black, flowing mantle around him; a wheel-shaped brooch of tin in
the mantle over his breast; a cunningly wrought tunic next to his skin; a
great long sword under his waist; a well-tempered lance in his right hand;
[LL.fo.99b.] a grey buckler he bore on him, that is, his shield."

    [1-1] YBL. 48b, 9-10.

    [2-2] YBL. has, 'broad-headed.'

"Pray, who might that man be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Indeed, but we know
him," Fergus made answer; "the wild, red-handed, [3]rending[3] lion; the
fierce, fearful bear that overcometh valour. [4]He is the high doer of
deeds, warlike, and fierce,[4] Errgè Echbel ('Horse-mouth'), from Bri Errgi
('Errgè's Mound') in the north, is the one there."

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] YBL. 48b, 16.

"Yet another company there came to the same hill in Slane of Meath," said
macRoth. "A large, noble, [5]fiery[5] man at the head of that company;
foxy-red hair he had; huge, crimson-red eyes in his head; bulging as far as
the bend of a warrior's finger is either of the very large crimson, kingly
eyes he had; a many-coloured cloak about him; [6]a wheel-shaped brooch of
silver therein;[6] a grey shield he bore [7]on his left arm;[7] a slender,
blue lance above him; [8]a bright, hooded shirt tucked around him that
reached down to his knees;[8] [9]a sword with silver hilt at his hip; a
spear remarkable for keenness in his revengeful right hand;[9] a
blood-smeared, becrimsoned company [W.5414.] around him; himself covered
with wounds and blood in their midst."

    [5-5] YBL. 48b, 47.

    [6-6] YBL. 48b, 49-50.

    [7-7] YBL. 48b, 51.

    [8-8] YBL. 48b, 52-49a, 1.

    [9-9] YBL. 48b, 51-52.

"Now who might he be?" asked Ailill of Fergus. "Well do we know him,"
Fergus made answer. "He is the bold, the ruthless, [1]the swift-moving
eagle;[1] the eager lance; the goring beast; [2]the torrent[2] of the
Colbtha; [3]the border-gate of the north of Erin;[3] the triumphant hero
from Bailè; he is the shaft (?); [a] he is the bellowing hero from Bernas
('the Gap'); the furious bull; Menn son of Salcholga, from Rena ('the
Waterways') of the Boyne [4]in the north; he hath come to take vengeance on
ye for his bloody wounds and his sores which ye inflicted on him afore."[4]

    [1-1] Translating from Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] YBL. 49a, 7.

    [a] A word has fallen out in the MS.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"Yet another company came thither to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. [5]"High spirited and worthy of one another.[5] A
long-jawed, sallow-faced warrior, [6]huge, broad, and tall,[6] at the head
of that company; black hair on his head; long limbs are his legs; a cloak
of red curly wool about him; a brooch of white silver in the cloak over his
breast; an [7]all-white,[7] linen shirt next to his skin; a gory-red shield
with a boss [8]of gold[8] he bore; a sword with hilt of [9]white[9] silver
on his left side; a sharp-cornered, gold-socketed spear he held over him;
[10]a broad, grey, interwoven spear-head, fairly set on an ashen shaft, in
his hand."[10] "But, who might he be?" Ailill asked of Fergus. "Truly, we
know him," Fergus made answer. [11]"The man of three stout blows has
come;[11] the man of three highways is he; the man of three roads, the
man of three paths, the man of three [W.5431.] ways; the man of three
victories, the man of three triumphs; [1]the man of three shouts; the
man that breaks battles on foes in another province;[1] Fergna son of
Findchoem, king of Burach, [2]from Coronn,[2] [3]royal hospitaller[3] of
Ulster in the north, has come thither."

    [5-5] YBL. 49a, 11-12.

    [6-6] YBL. 49a, 12-13.

    [7-7] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [8-8] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [9-9] YBL. 49a, 17.

    [10-10] YBL. 49a, 18-20.

    [11-11] YBL. 49a, 20-21.

    [1-1] YBL. 49a, 23-24.

    [2-2] YBL. 49a, 25.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

"Even another company came there to the same mound in Slane of Meath,"
continued macRoth. [4]"Vaster than a division of three thousand was its
appearance.[4] A large, [5]white-breasted,[5] well-favoured man in the van
of that company. Like to Ailill yonder, with his pointed weapons, the
restrainer, both in features and noble bearing and fairness, both in arms
and apparel, in valour and bravery and fame and deeds. A blue shield
[6]adapted for striking,[6] with boss of gold was [7]upon him.[7] A
gold-hilted sword, [8]the pillar of a palace,[8] [9]along his shoulder[9]
he bore on his left side; a five-pronged spear with gold, in his hand;
[10]an exceeding fine cloak folded about him; a brooch of gold in the cloak
over his breast; a tunic with red ornaments about him;[10] a golden crown
on his head."

    [4-4] YBL. 49a, 28.

    [5-5] YBL. 49a, 29.

    [6-6] YBL. 49a, 34.

    [7-7] YBL. 49a, 35, Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [8-8] YBL. 49a, 35.

    [9-9] YBL. 49a, 35.

    [10-10] YBL. 49a, 31-34.

"But, who might that be?" asked Ailill of Fergus.  "Ah, but we know him
well," Fergus made answer.  [11]"Truly, the sea over rivers is the one that
is come thither; the wild rage of fire; not to be borne is his wrath
against foes;[11] the root of all manhood; the assault of overwhelming
power; the annihilation of men is he that is come thither. Furbaide Ferbenn
son of Conchobar, from Sil in Mag Inis in the north, is there."

    [11-11] YBL. 49a, 36-38.

[12]"Yet another company came to the mound in Slane [W.5444.] of Meath,"
continued macRoth. "A sharp, proud folk; a stately, royal company, with
their apparel of many colours, as well white and blue and black and purple,
so that to a king could be likened each spirited, chosen man in the noble,
most wonderful troop. A feast for the eyes of a host, to gaze on their
comeliness and their garb, as if it was going forth to some great
surpassing assembly was each single man of that company. A trine of noble,
distinguished men were in the front rank of that company. The first man of
them with a dark-grey mantle fringed with gold thread about him; a brooch
of gold in the mantle over his breast; a tunic of rare silk next to his
skin; sandals of lamb's skin he wore. Not many men in the world are
better-favoured than is he. A light-yellow head of hair he has; a
bright-faced sword with ivory hilt and with coils of gold thread, in his
right hand. He flings on high the tooth-hilted sword, so that it falls on
the head of the middle man but it simply grazes it. He catches it up in the
air again, so that it falls on the head of the other man, and the first man
catches it in his hand, and it divided not a ringlet nor the skin of the
head of either of them, and these two men did not perceive it. Two brown,
rich-hued, bright-faced youths; reddish-grey mantles around them;
white-silver brooches in their mantles over their breasts; a bright-hilted
sword under their waists; purple sandals they wore; as sweet as strings of
lutes when long sustained in players' hands was the voice and song of one
of the men, so that enough of delight it was to the host to listen to the
sound of his voice. Worthy of a king or of a prince was each man in that
company as regards apparel and appearance; thou wouldst think, at the sight
of them, they were all kings. Neither spears nor swords do they bear, but
their servants bear them."

    [12-12] The following passage extending to page 337 is not found in
    LL. owing to the loss of a leaf. It is translated here from Stowe with
    the help of H. 1. 13 and Add. 18,748.

"An over-proud body is that," quoth Ailill; "and who may they be, O
Fergus?" he asked. "I know full well," [W.5466.] replied Fergus; "the poets
of Ulster are they, with that Fercerdne the fair, much-gifted, whom thou
sawest, even the learned master of Ulster, Fercerdne. 'Tis before him that
the lakes and rivers sink when he upbraids, and they swell up high when he
applauds. The two others thou sawest are Athirnè the chief poet, whom none
can deny, and Ailill Miltenga ('Honey-tongue') son of Carba; and he is
called Ailill 'Honey-tongue' for that as sweet as honey are the words of
wisdom that fall from him."

"There came yet another company to the mound in Slane of Meath," said
macRoth. "A most terrible, dreadful sight to behold them. Blue and pied and
green, purple, grey and white and black mantles; a kingly, white-grey,
broad-eyed hero in the van of that company; wavy, grizzled hair upon him; a
blue-purple cloak about him; a leaf-shaped brooch with ornamentation of
gold in the cloak over his breast; a shield, stoutly braced with buckles of
red copper; yellow sandals he wore; a large, strange-fashioned sword along
his shoulder. Two curly-haired, white-faced youths close by him, wearing
green cloaks and purple sandals and blue tunics, and with brown shields
fitted with hooks, in their hands; white-hilted swords with silvered bronze
ornaments they bore; a broad, somewhat light countenance had one of
them. One of these cunning men raises his glance to heaven and scans the
clouds of the sky and bears their answer to the marvellous troop that is
with him. They all lift their eyes on high and watch the clouds and work
their spells against the elements, so that the elements fall to warring
with each other, till they discharge rain-clouds of fire downwards on the
camp and entrenchments of the men of Erin."

"Who might that be, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "I know him," replied
Fergus; "the foundation of knowledge; the master of the elements; the
heaven-soaring one; he that blindeth the eyes; that depriveth his foe
[W.5488.] of his strength through incantations of druids, namely Cathba the
friendly druid, with the druids of Ulster about him. And to this end he
makes augury when judging the elements, in order to ascertain therefrom how
the great battle on Garech and Ilgarech will end. The two youths that are
about him, they are his own two sons, to wit Imrinn son of Cathba and
Genonn Gruadsolus ('Bright-cheek') son of Cathba, he that has the somewhat
light countenance. Howbeit it will be hard for the men of Erin to withstand
the spells of the druids."

"Yet another company there came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued
macRoth. "A numberless, bright-faced band; unwonted garments they wore; a
little bag at the waist of each man of them. A white-haired, bull-faced man
in the front of that company; an eager, dragon-like eye in his head; a
black, flowing robe with edges of purple around him; a many coloured,
leaf-shaped brooch with gems, in the robe over his breast; a ribbed tunic
of thread of gold around him; a short sword, keen and hard, with plates of
gold, in his hand; they all came to show him their stabs and their sores,
their wounds and their ills, and he told each one his sickness, and he gave
each a cure, and what at last happened to each was even the ill he foretold
him." "He is the power of leechcraft; he is the healing of wounds; he is
the thwarting of death; he is the absence of every weakness, is that man,"
said Fergus, "namely Fingin the prophet mediciner, the physician of
Conchobar, with the leeches of Ulster around him. It is he that knoweth
the sickness of a man by the smoke of the house wherein he lies, or by
hearing his groans. Their medicine bags are the sacks which thou sawest
with them."

"Another company came to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued macRoth.
"A powerful, heavy, turbulent company; they caused uproar in their deeds of
arms [W.5512.] for the accomplishment of brilliant feats;[a] they tore up
the sad-sodded earth with the strength of their bitter rage, for the mighty
princes of the proud province of Conchobar would not allow them to proceed
to the great camp till all should be arrived. Two youths, swarthy and huge,
in the front of that company; soft, playful eyes in their heads; about
them, dark-grey tunics with silver pins set with stones; great, horn-topped
swords with sheaths they bore; strong, stout shields they bore; hollow
lances with rows of rivets, in their hands; glossy tunics next to their
skin." "We know well that company," quoth Fergus; "the household of
Conchobar and his vassals are those; their two leaders, Glasnè and Menn,
two sons of Uthechar."

    [a] There is a gap here in both Stowe and H. 1. 13, and consequently
    the translation is uncertain.

"There came yet another band to the mound in Slane of Meath," continued
macRoth; "to wit, a band of a numerous body of henchmen. A black, hasty,
swarthy, ..., man in the front rank of that band; seven chains around his
neck; seven men at the end of each chain; these seven groups of men he
drags along, so that their faces strike against the ground, and they revile
him until he desists. Another terrible man is there, and the ponderous
stone which powerful men could not raise, he sets on his palm and flings on
high to the height a lark flies on a day of fine weather; a club of iron at
his belt." "I know those men," quoth Fergus: "Triscoth the strong man of
Conchobar's house; it is he that flings the stone on high. Ercenn son of
the three stewards, he it is in the chains."

"There came [1]another[1] large, stately company to the mound in Slane of
Meath," macRoth went on. "Three, very curly-headed, white-faced youths in
the van of that troop; three curly-red kirtles with brooches of silvered
bronze was the apparel they wore about them; three [W.5535.] sparkling
tunics of silk with golden seams tucked up about them; three studded
shields with images of beasts for emblems in silvered bronze upon them and
with bosses of red gold; three very keen swords with guards adorned with
gold thread along their shoulders; broad-bladed javelin-heads on ashen
shafts in their hands." "Who might that be there, O Fergus?" asked Ailill.
"That I know," answered Fergus: "the three venoms of serpents; three
cutting ones; three edges; three watchful ones; three points of combat;
three pillars of the borders; three powerful companies of Ulster; three
wardens of Erin; three triumph-singers of a mighty host are there," said
Fergus, "the three sons of Conchobar, namely Glas and Manè and Conaing."

    [1-1] H. 1. 13.

"Yet another company there came to the mound in Slane of Meath," said
macRoth. "Stately, in beautiful colours, gleaming-bright they came to the
mound. Not fewer than an army-division, as a glance might judge them. A
bold, fair-cheeked youth in the van of that troop; light-yellow hair has
he; though a bag of red-shelled nuts were spilled on his crown, not a nut
of them would fall to the ground because of the twisted, curly locks of his
head. Bluish-grey as harebell is one of his eyes; as black as beetle's
back is the other; the one brow black, the other white; a forked,
light-yellow beard has he; a magnificent red-brown mantle about him; a
round brooch adorned with gems of precious stones fastening it in his
mantle over his right shoulder; a striped tunic of silk with a golden
hem next to his skin; an ever-bright shield he bore; a hard-smiting,
threatening spear he held over him; a very keen sword with hilt-piece of
red gold on his thigh." "Who might that be, O Fergus?" asked Ailill. "I
know, then," replied Fergus: "it is battle against foes; it is the inciting
of strife; it is the rage of a monster; it is the madness of a lion; it is
the cunning of a snake; it is the rock of the [W.5558.] Badb; it is the sea
over dikes; it is the shaking of rocks; it is the stirring of a wild host,
namely Conall Cernach ('the Victorious'), the high-glorious son of Amargin,
that is come hither."[12]

    [12-12] See note 12, page 331.

"Yet another company came to the same mound in Slane of Meath," said
macRoth. [1]"Very heroic and without number it is;[1] steady and dissimilar
to the other companies. [2]Strange garments, unlike the other companies
they wore. Famously have they come, both in arms and raiment and dress. A
great host and fierce is that company.[2] Some wore red cloaks, others
light-blue cloaks, [LL.fo.100a.] others dark blue cloaks, others green
cloaks; white and yellow jerkins, beautiful and shiny, were over them.
Behold the little, freckled, red-faced lad with purple, [3]fringed[3]
mantle [4]folded about him[4] amongst them in their midst. [5]Fairest of
the forms of men was his form.[5] A salmon-shaped brooch of gold in the
mantle over his breast; a [6]bright, hooded[6] tunic of royal silk with red
trimming of red gold next to his white skin; a bright shield with intricate
figures of beasts in red gold upon it; a boss of gold on the shield; an
edge of gold around it; a small, gold-hilted sword at his waist; a sharp,
light lance cast its shadow over him." "But, who might he be?" asked Ailill
of Fergus. "Truly, I know not," Fergus made answer, "that I left behind me
in Ulster the like of that company nor of the little lad that is in it.
But, one thing I think likely, that they are the men of Temair with [7]the
well-favoured, wonderful, noble youth[7] Erc son of Fedilmid Nocruthach,
[8]Conchobar's daughter,[8] and of Carbre Niafer. And if it be they, they
are not more friends than their leaders here. Mayhap despite his father
[W.5576.] has this lad come to succour his grandfather[a] at this time. And
if these they be, a sea that drowneth shall this company be to ye, because
it is through this company and the little lad that is in it that the battle
shall this time be won against ye." "How through him?" asked Ailill. "Not
hard to tell," Fergus responded: "for this little lad will know neither
fear nor dread when slaying and slaughtering, until at length he comes into
the midst of your battalion. Then shall be heard the whirr of Conchobar's
sword like the yelp of a howling war-hound, or like a lion rushing among
bears, [1]while the boy will be saved.[1] Then outside around the battle
lines will Conchobar pile up huge walls of men's bodies [2]while he seeks
the little lad.[2] In turn the princes of the men of Ulster, filled with
love and devotion, will hew the enemy to pieces. Boldly will those powerful
bulls, [3]the brave warriors of Ulster,[3] bellow as [4]their grandson,[4]
the calf of their [5]cow,[5] is rescued in the battle on the morn of the

    [1-1] YBL. 49a, 41.

    [2-2] YBL. 49a, 42-44.

    [3-3] YBL. 49a, 50.

    [4-4] YBL. 49a, 50.

    [5-5] YBL. 49a, 46-47.

    [6-6] YBL. 49a, 52.

    [7-7] YBL. 49b, 4-5.

    [8-8] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and YBL. 49b, 6.

    [a] That is, Conchobar.

    [1-1] YBL. 49b, 17.

    [2-2] YBL. 49b, 18.

    [3-3] YBL. 49b, 19-20.

    [4-4] Stowe; that is, Erc son of Fedlimid, Conchobar's daughter.]

    [5-5] 'Of their heart,' YBL. 49b, 13.

[6]"Then came there three huge (?), strong, well-braced, cunningly-built
castles; three mighty, wheeled-towers like unto mountains, in this wise
placed in position: Three royal castles with their thirty fully armed
battalions, swarming with evil-tongued warriors and with thirty
round-shielded heroes. A bright, beautiful, glistening shield-guard was on
each of the three strong, stout battle-castles, with black, deadly armament
of huge, high, blue, sharp pine-lances, such that one's bent knee would fit
in the socket of each smooth, polished, even and hard spear-head that is on
each huge, terrible, strange shaft of the terrible, awful, heavy,
monstrous, indescribable armament [W.5598.] that I saw. A third part of
each shaft was contained in the socket of the riveted, very long, securely
placed spears; as high as [1]two[1] cubits was each citadel from the
ground; as long as a warrior's spear was the height of each battle-hurdle;
as sharp as charmed sword was the blade of each sickle on the sides and the
flanks of each of [2]Badb's hurdles;[2] on each of the three stout and hard
battle-hurdles they are to be found. Four dark, yet gleaming, well-adorned
doors were on each battle-wheeled tower of the three royal wheeled-towers
which were displayed and spread over the plain, with ivory door-posts, with
lintels of cypress, with stately thresholds set of speckled, beautiful,
strong pine, with their blue, glass door-leaves, with the glitter of
crystal gems around each door-frame, so that its appearance from afar was
like that of bright shining stars. As loud as the crash of a mighty wave at
the great spring-tide, or of a huge heavy fleet upon the sea when toiling
with the oars along the shore, was the similitude of the din and the
clamour and the shouts and the tumult of the multitude and the to-and-fro
of the thirty champions with their thirty heavy, iron clubs that they bear
in their hands. And when the wheeled-towers advance massively and boldly
against the line of heroes, these almost leave behind their arms at the
fierce charge of the outland battalions. Then spring the three hundred
champions with a shout of vengeful anger over the sides and over the front
of the huge iron towers on wheels, so that this it was that checked the
swift course and the great, hasty onslaught of the well-grounded,
swiftly-moving, mighty chariots. The three stout, strong, battle-proof
towers on wheels careered over rough places and over obstacles, over rocks
and over heights. There coursed the thirty entire chargers, powerful,
strong-backed, four abreast, the equal of ninety entire chargers, with
[W.5622.] manes more than big, bold[a] and leaping, with sack-like,
distended nostrils, high-headed, towering, over-powering, wonderful, so
that they shook with their ramping the thick shell of the sad-sodded
earth. They flecked the plain behind them with the foam dripping from the
[1]swift[1] Danish steeds, from the bits and bridles, from the traces and
tracks of the huge, maned, mighty[b] steeds, greater than can be told! They
excited strife with their din of arms.  They plunged headlong in their
swift impatience. They aroused great terror at their accoutrement, at their
armour, at their cunning, at their power, at their hugeness, at their
destructive, terrible, hostile vengeance on the four grand, proud provinces
of Erin. Amazing to me was their appearance because of the unwontedness of
their trappings both in form and in garb. Three wonderful flights of birds
with variety of appearance hovered over them. The first flock was all red,
the second flock was white as swans, the third flock as black as ravens.
Three red-mouthed, crow-shaped demons of battle sped around them as swift
as hares, circling the three wheeled towers, and this is what they

    "Sheaves[c] of battle,
    Might of quelling,
    Ill of war-deeds,
    Sating of foul ravens!
    Sodden ground, blood-red;
    Men low in dust;
    Sheaves[c] on sword-blades!"

    [6-6] The following passage, to page 342, is taken from Stowe and
    H. 1. 13; it is not found in LL.

    [1-1] H. 1. 13 and Add. 18,748.

    [2-2] That is, the movable towers.

    [a] Following the emendation _bairnech_, suggested by Windisch.

    [1-1] H. 1. 13.

    [b] Following the emendation _moradbal_, suggested by Windisch.

    [c] That is, the layers of the slain.

"They wheeled about and brought them twelve[d] battle-pillars of thick,
huge, iron pillars. As thick as the middle of a warrior's thigh, as tall as
a champion's spear was each battle-fork of them, and they placed four forks
under each [W.5646.] wheeled-tower. And their horses all ran from them and
grazed upon the plain. And those forty[a] that had gone in advance descend
clad in armour on the plain, and the garrison of the three battle-wheeled
towers falls to attacking and harassing them, and is attacked and harassed
in turn by those forty champions, so that there was heard the breaking
of shields and the loud blows of hard iron poles on bucklers and
battle-helmets, on coats of mail and on the iron plates of smooth, hard,
blue-black, sharp-beaked, forkèd spears. And in the whole camp there is
none but is on the watch for their fierceness and their wrath and their
cunning and their strangeness, for their fury, their achievements and the
excellence of their guard. And in the place where the forty champions are
and the thousand armed men contending with them, not one of the thousand
had a wounding stroke nor a blow on his opponent because of the might of
their skill in arms and the excellence of their defence withal!"

    [d] That is, a battle-pillar or prop for each of the four wheels of
    each of the three towers.

    [a] This is the first mention of the 'forty.'

"They are hard to contend with for all such as are unfamiliar with them, is
the opinion held of them," spake Fergus, "but they are readily to be dealt
with for such as do know them. These are three battle-wheeled towers,"
Fergus continued, "as I perceive from their account. Once I saw their like,
namely when as prentice I accompanied Darè to Spain, so that we entered the
service, of the king of Spain, Esorb to wit, and we afterwards made an
expedition to Soda, that is, to the king of Africa, and we gave battle to
the Carthaginians. There came their like upon us against the battle-line
wherein we were, an hundred battalions and three score hundred in each
battalion. One of the wheeled-towers won victory over us all, for we were
not on our guard against them. And this is the way to defeat them: To mine
a hole broader than the tower in the ground in the front thereof and cover
over the pitfall; [W.5669.] and for the battle-line to be drawn up over
against it and not to advance to attack, so that it is the towers that
advance and fall into the pit. Lebarcham told me, as I passed over Taltiu,
that the Ulstermen brought these towers from Germany, and the towers held a
third of the exiles of Ulster among them as their only dwelling; and
Cualgae ('a Heap of Spears') is their name, namely battle-penfolds. And
herein have ye the sorest of all hardships, for although all the men of
Erin are drawn up against them, it is the men of Erin that will be
defeated.  When they take it upon them to engage in battle they cannot hold
out without a combat. Thus will they remain now till morning, every forty
men of them contending with the others. And this is my advice to you," said
Fergus: "permit me with my division to withstand them, and do ye betake
yourselves to the woods and wilds of Erin, and the Ulstermen shall not find
ye in any place, and I will proceed as an example, depending on my own
men-of-war." "There are men here for ye!" cried Medb. "That will be a force
for yourselves," Fergus made answer.[6]

    [6-6] See note 6, page 338.

"Yet another company came there to the same height in Slane of Meath,"
said macRoth. "Not fewer than a division was in it; wild, dark-red,
warrior-bands; [1]bright, clear, blue-purple men;[1] long, fair-yellow
heads of hair they wore; handsome, shining countenances they had; clear,
kingly eyes; magnificent vesture with beautiful mantles; conspicuous,
golden brooches along their bright-coloured sleeves; silken, glossy tunics;
blue, glassy spears; yellow shields for striking withal; gold-hilted,
inlaid swords set on their thighs; loud-tongued care has beset them;
sorrowful are they all, and mournful; sad are the royal leaders; orphaned
the brilliant company without [W.5689.] their protecting lord who was wont
to guard their lands." "But, who may they be?" asked Ailill of Fergus.
"Indeed, we know them well," Fergus made answer. "Furious lions are they;
deeds of battle; the division from the field of Murthemne are they.
[LL.fo.100b.] It is this that makes them cast-down, sorrowful, joyless
[1]as they are,[1] because that their own divisional king himself is not
amongst them, even Cuchulain, the restraining, victorious, red-sworded one
that triumpheth in battle!" "Good reason, in truth, there is for them to be
so," quoth Medb, "if they are dejected, mournful and joyless. There is no
evil we have not worked on them. We have harassed and we have assailed
them, [2]their territory and their land,[2] from Monday at the beginning of
Samaintide till the beginning of Spring.[a] We have taken their women and
their sons and their youths, their steeds and their troops of horses, their
herds and their flocks and their droves. We have razed their hills after
them till they are become lowlands, so that they are level with the
plain. [3]We have brought their lords to bloody stabs and sores, to cuts
and many wounds."[3] "Not so, O Medb!" cried Fergus. "There is naught thou
canst boast over them. For thou didst them no hurt nor harm that yon fine
company's leader avenged not on thee. For, every mound and every grave,
every stone and every tomb that is from hence to the east of Erin is the
mound and the grave, the stone and the tomb of some goodly warrior and
goodly youth [4]of thy people,[4] fallen at the hands of the noble
chieftain of yonder company. Happy he to whom they hold! Woe to him whom
they oppose! It will be enough, e'en as much as half a battle, for the men
of Erin, when these defend their lord in the battle on the morning of the

    [1-1] This seems out of place here; it is not found in Stowe nor in
    H. 1. 13.

    [1-1] Stowe.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [a] See notes a and b, page 182.

"I heard a great uproar there, west of the battle or to [W.5711.] its
east," said macRoth. "Say, what noise was it?" asked Ailill of Fergus.
"Ah, but we know it well," Fergus made answer: "Cuchulain it was, straining
to go, sick as he is, to battle, wearied at the length of his lying sick on
Fert Sciach ('Thorn-mound') under hoops and clasps and ropes, and the men
of Ulster do not permit him to go because of his sores and his wounds,
inasmuch as he is not fit for battle and is powerless for combat after his
encounter with Ferdiad."

True indeed spake Fergus. Cuchulain it was, wearied at the length of his
lying supine on Fert Sciach under hoops and clasps and ropes. [1]"But,
there is one thing more to tell," said Fergus: "unless he be held back now,
he will surely come to the battle!"

Thus far the Companies of the Táin Bó Cúalnge[1] [2]mustered by Conchobar
and the men of Ulster.[2]

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13.

Then came two women lampoonists from the camp and quarters of the men of
Erin; [3]their names,[3] Fethan and Collach, to wit; and they stood with a
feint of weeping and wailing over Cuchulain, telling him of the defeat of
Ulster and the death of Conchobar and the fall of Fergus in combat.

    [3-3] Stowe.

[4]Now Conchobar proceeded with his troops till he pitched camp nearby his
companions. Conchobar asked a truce of Ailill till sunrise on the morrow,
and Ailill granted it for the men of Erin and the exiles, and Conchobar
granted it for the men of Ulster, and thereupon Conchobar's tents were
pitched. In this way the ground was bare between them, and the Ulstermen
came thither at sunset.[4]

    [4-4] YBL. 50a, 11.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 345]



[W.5727.] It was on that night that the Morrigan,[a] daughter of Ernmas,
came, and she was engaged in fomenting strife and sowing dissension between
the two camps on either side, and she spoke these words [2]in the twilight
between the two encampments[2]:--

    "Ravens shall pick
    The necks of men!
    Blood shall gush
    [3]In combat wild![3]
    Skins shall be hacked;
    Crazed with spoils!
    [4]Men's sides pierced[4]
    In battle brave,
    Luibnech near!
    Warriors' storm;
    Mien of braves;
    Cruachan's men!
    [5]Upon them comes[5]
    Ruin complete!
    Lines shall be strewn
    Under foot;
    Their race die out!
    Then Ulster hail:
    To Erna[b] woe!
    To Ulster woe:
    [6]Then Erna hail![6]
    (This she said in Erna's ear.)
    Naught inglorious shall they do
    Who them await!"

    [1-1] YBL. 41a, 7.

    [a] The Irish goddess of war.

    [2-2] YBL. 50a, 18-19.

    [3-3] YBL. 50a, 19.

    [4-4] YBL. 50a, 21.

    [5-5] Translating from YBL. 50a, 23; LL. appears to be corrupt.

    [b] The Munstermen in Ailill's army.

    [6-6] YBL. 50a, 26.

[1]Now Cuchulain was at Fedain Collna near by. Food was brought to him that
night by the purveyors, and they were used to come to converse with him by
day. He killed not any of the men of Erin to the left of Ferdiad's Ford.[1]
[W.5756.] It was then that Cuchulain spake to Laeg son of Riangabair. "It
would surely be unworthy of thee, O Laeg my master," said Cuchulain, "if
between the two battle-lines there should happen anything to-day whereof
thou hadst no tidings for me." "Whatsoever I shall learn, O Cucucuc,"
answered Laeg, "will be told thee. But, see yonder a little flock coming
forth on the plain from the western camp and station now. [LL.fo.101a.]
Behold a band of henchmen after them to check and to stay them. Behold also
a company of henchmen emerging from the eastern camp and station to seize
them." "Surely, that is so!" exclaimed Cuchulain. "That bodes a mighty
combat and is the occasion of a grand battle. The little flock will come
over the plain and the band of henchmen [2]from the east and the band of
henchmen from the west[2] [3]will encounter one another betimes [4]about
the little flock[4] on the great field of battle."[3] There, indeed,
Cuchulain spoke true. And the little flock came forth upon the plain, and
the companies of henchmen met in fray. "Who gives the battle now, O Laeg my
master," Cuchulain asked. "The folk of Ulster," Laeg answered: "that is the
same as the young warriors [5]of Ulster."[5] "But how fight they?"
Cuchulain asked. "Like men they fight," Laeg answered. "There where are the
heroes of valour from the east in battle, they force a breach through the
ranks to the west. There where are the heroes from the west, they lay a
breach through the ranks to the eastward." [6]"It would be a vow for them
to fall in rescuing their herds," said Cuchulain; "and [W.5774.] now?" "The
beardless youths are fighting now," said the charioteer. "Has a bright
cloud come over the sun yet?" Cuchulain asked. "Nay, then," the charioteer
answered.[6] "I grieve that I am not yet strong enough to be on my feet
amongst them. For, were I able to be on my feet amongst them, my breach
would be manifest there to-day like that of another!" "But, this avow, O
Cucuc," said Laeg: "it is no reproach to thy valour; it is no disgrace to
thine honour. Thou hast done bravely in time before now and thou wilt do
bravely hereafter."

    [1-1] YBL. 50a, 28-31.

    [2-2] Stowe and H. 1. 13

    [3-3] LL. seems to be defective here.

    [4-4] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [5-5] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [6-6] YBL. 50a, 39-43.

[1]About the hour of sunrise: "It is a haughty folk that now fight the
battle," quoth the charioteer; "but there are no kings amongst them, for
sleep is still upon them."[1] "Come, O my master Laeg!" cried Cuchulain;
"rouse the men of Ulster to the battle now, for it is time that they come."

    [1-1] YBL. 50a, 45-47.

[2]Then, when the sun arose,[2] [3]Cuchulain saw the kings from the east
putting their crowns on their heads and relieving their men-at-arms.
Cuchulain told his charioteer to awaken the men of Ulster.[3] Laeg came and
roused the men of Ulster to battle, and he uttered these words there:--

    "Arise, ye kings of Macha,
    Valiant in your deeds!
    Imbel's kine the Badb doth covet:
    [4]Blood of hearts pours out!
    Goodly heroes' battle rushes in[4]
    With deeds of valour!
    Hearts all red with gore:
    Brows turned in flight.
    Dismay of battle riseth.
    For there was never found
    One like unto Cuchulain,
    Hound that Macha's[a] weal doth work!
    If it is for Cualnge's kine,
    Let them now arise!"

    [2-2] YBL. 50a, 48.

    [3-3] YBL. 50b, 18-23.

    [4-4] YBL 50b, 27-29.

    [a] Another name for Badb, the battle-fury.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 348]



[W.5804.] Thereupon arose all the men of Ulster at the one time in the
train of their king, and at the word of their prince, and to prepare for
the uprising in response to the call of Laeg son of Riangabair. And in this
wise they arose: stark-naked all of them, only their weapons in their
hands. Each one whose tent door looked to the east, through the tent
westwards he went, for that he deemed it too long to go round about it.

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

"How arise the Ulstermen now to [2]the battle,[2] O Laeg my master?" asked
Cuchulain. "Manfully they rise," said Laeg: "stark-naked all of them,
[3]except for their arms only.[3] Every man whose tent-door faces the east,
through the tent westwards he goes, for he deems it too long to go round
about it." "I pledge my word!"  cried Cuchulain: "at a fitting hour have
they now in the early day risen around Conchobar!"

    [2-2] H. 1. 13, Add., Stowe, and YBL. 50b, 34.

    [3-3] YBL. 50b, 34.

Then spake Conchobar to Sencha son of Ailill: "Come, O Sencha my master,"
said Conchobar; "stay the men of Ulster, and let them not go to the battle
till there come the strength of a good omen and favourable portent, till
the sun mounts to the roof-tree of heaven and sunshine fills the glens and
lowlands and hills and watch-towers of Erin."

[W.5822.] They tarried there till the strength of a good omen came and a
favourable portent, till sunshine filled the glens and slopes and heights
and watch-towers of the province.

"Come, O Sencha my master," said Conchobar; "rouse the men of Ulster to
battle, for it is time for them to proceed thither." Sencha roused the men
of Ulster to battle, and he spake these words:--

    "Now shall Macha's kings arise,
    Large-hearted folk!
    Weapons let them shatter:
    Let them fight the battle:
    Let them plow the earth in anger:
    Let them strike on shields!
    [1]Wearied all the hands;[1]
    Herds loud bellowing:
    Steadfast the resistance:
    Furious the retainers:
    Battle-lines shall prostrate fall
    'Neath the feet of others!
    [2]Prince and lord prepare for battle.[2]
    Perish [LL.fo.101b.] shall their race!
    [3]Manful contest there shall be;[3]
    Their foes they lie in wait for
    And slay them all to-day!
    Deep draughts of blood they drink:
    Grief fills the hearts of queens:
    [4]Tender lamentations follow:
    Till soaked in blood shall be the grassy sod
    On which they're slain,
    To which they come.[4]
    If for Cualnge's kine it be,
    [5]Let Macha's kings![5] Let them arise!"

    [1-1] Reading with YBL 50a, 52.

    [2-2] From a conjectural emendation of YBL. 50a, 54.

    [3-3] YBL. 50b, 1.

    [4-4] YBL. 50b, 3.

    [5-5] YBL. 50b, 5.

Not long was Laeg there when he witnessed something: the men of Erin all
arising at one time, taking their shields and their spears and their swords
and their helmets, and urging the men-of-war before them to the battle. The
men of Erin, every single man of them, fell to smite and to batter, to cut
and to hew, to slay and to destroy the others [W.5859.] for a long space
and while. Thereupon Cuchulain asked of his charioteer, of Laeg son of
Riangabair, at the time that a bright cloud came over the sun: [1]"Look for
us![1] How fight [2]the Ulstermen[2] the battle now, O my master Laeg?"
"Like men they fight," Laeg answered. "Should I mount my chariot, and En,
Conall [3]Cernach's ('the Victorious')[3] charioteer, his chariot, and
should we go in two chariots from one wing to the other on the points of
the weapons, neither hoof nor wheel nor axle-tree nor chariot-pole would
touch [4]the ground[4] for the denseness and closeness and firmness with
which their arms are held in the hands of the men-at-arms at this time."

    [1-1] YBL. 51a, 45.

    [2-2] YBL. 51a, 45.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13, Add. and YBL. 51a, 47.

    [4-4] Stowe and Add.

"Alas, that I am not yet strong enough to be amongst them [5]now!"[5] cried
Cuchulain; "for, were I able, my breach would be manifest there to-day like
that of another," spake Cuchulain. "But this avow, O Cucuc," said Laeg:
"'tis no reproach to thy valour; 'tis no disgrace to thine honour. Thou
hast wrought great deeds before now and thou wilt work great deeds

    [5-5] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

Then began the men of Erin to smite and to batter, to cut and to hew, to
slay and to destroy the others for a long space and while. Next came to
them the nine chariot-fighters of the champions from Norseland, and the
three foot-warriors along with them, and no swifter were the nine
chariot-men than the three men on foot.

Then came to them also [6]on the ford of hosting[6] the governors of the
men of Erin. And this was their sole office [7]with Medb[7] in the battle:
to smite to death Conchobar if it were he that suffered defeat, and to
rescue Ailill and Medb if it should be they were defeated. And these are
the names of the governors:

    [6-6] YBL. 51b, 6.

    [7-7] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 351]



[W.5883.] The three Conarè from Sliab Mis, the three Lussen from Luachair,
the three Niadchorb from Tilach Loiscthe, the three Doelfer from Deill, the
three Damaltach from Dergderc, the three Buder from the Buas, the three
Baeth from Buagnige, the three Buageltach from Mag Breg, the three Suibnè
from the Siuir, the three Eochaid from Anè, the three Malleth from Loch
Erne, the three Abatruad from Loch Ri, the three macAmra from Ess Ruaid,
the three Fiacha from Fid Nemain, the three Manè from Muresc, the three
Muredach from Mairg, the three Loegaire from Lecc Derg, the three Broduinde
from the Berba, the three Bruchnech, from Cenn Abrat, the three Descertach
from Druim Fornacht, the three Finn from Finnabair, the three Conall from
Collamair, the three Carbre from Cliu, the three Manè from Mossa, the three
Scathglan from Scairè, the three Echtach from Ercè, the three Trenfer from
Taitè, the three Fintan from Femen, [LL.fo.102a.] the three Rotanach from
Rognè, the three Sarchorach from Suidè Lagen, the three Etarscel from
Etarbane, the three Aed from Aidnè, the three Guarè from Gabal.[a]

    [1-1] YBL. 50b, 41.

    [a] YBL. 50b-51a has more than three times as many names as are
    enumerated here.

Then said Medb to Fergus. "It were truly a thing to boast of for thee, [2]O
Fergus," said she,[2] "werest thou [W.5943.] to use thy mightiness of
battle [1]vehemently[1] without stint amongst us to-day, forasmuch as thou
hast been driven out of thine own land and out of thine inheritance;
amongst us hast thou found land and domain and inheritance, and much
good-will hath been shown thee!"

    [2-2] Stowe, Add. and H. 1. 13.

    [1-1] Stowe, Add., and H. 1. 13.

[2]Thereupon Fergus uttered this oath: "I swear," _et reliqua_, "jaws of
men I would break from necks, necks of men with arms, arms of men with
elbows, elbows of men with wrists, wrists of men with fists, fists of men
with fingers, fingers of men with nails, nails[a] of men with scalps,
scalps of men with trunks, trunks of men with thighs, thighs of men with
knees, knees of men with calves, calves of men with feet, feet of men with
toes, toes of men with nails,[2] so that [3]heads of men over shields[3]
would be as numerous [4]with me[4] as bits of ice [5]on the miry
stamping-ground[5] [6]between two dry fields[6] that a king's horses would
course on. Every limb of the Ulstermen [7]would I send flying through the
air[7] before and behind me this day [8]like the flitting of bees on a day
of fine weather,[8] if only I had my sword!"

    [2-2] I have given preference to the reading of YBL. 51b, 18-30.

    [a] A word is omitted here in the MS., presumably for, 'nails.'

    [3-3] YBL. 51b, 19-20.

    [4-4] YBL. 51b, 19.

    [5-5] YBL. 51b, 20.

    [6-6] Adopting Windisch's emendation of the text.

    [7-7] YBL. 51b, 31.

    [8-8] YBL. 51b, 32.

At that Ailill spoke to his own charioteer, Ferloga, to wit: "Fetch me a
quick sword that wounds the skin, O gilla," said Ailill. [9]"A year to-day
I put that sword in thy hand in the flower of its condition and bloom.[9] I
give my word, if its bloom and condition be the worse at thy hands this day
than the day I gave it [10]thee[10] on the hillside of Cruachan Ai [11]in
the borders of Ulster,[11] though thou hadst the men of Erin and of Alba to
rescue thee from me to-day, they would not all save thee!"

    [9-9] Stowe and YBL. 51b, 35.

    [10-10] Stowe.

    [11-11] YBL. 51b, 36.

[W.5956.] Ferloga went his way, and he brought the sword with him in the
flower of its safe-keeping, and fair flaming as a candle. And the sword was
placed in Ailill's hand, and Ailill put it in Fergus' hand, and Fergus
offered welcome to the sword:[a] "Welcome, O Calad Colg[b] ('Hardblade'),
Letè's sword!" said he. "Weary, O champion of Badb! On whom shall I ply
this weapon?" Fergus asked. "On the men-of-war around thee," Medb answered.
"No one shall find indulgence nor quarter from thee to-day, unless some
friend of thy bosom find it!"

    [a] Here follows in YBL. 51b, 38-57 a difficult passage in _rosc_ which
    I have omitted in the translation. Only a portion of it has been
    preserved in LL. and is here translated.

    [b] Reading with Stowe, II. 1. 13, Add. and YBL. 51b, 45.

Whereupon, Fergus took his arms and went forward to the battle, [1]and he
cleared a gap of an hundred in the battle-ranks with his sword in his two
hands.[1] Ailill seized his weapons. Medb seized her weapons and entered
the battle. [2]The Manè seized their arms and came to the battle. The
macMagach seized their arms and came to the battle,[2] so that thrice the
Ulstermen were routed before them from the north, till Cualgae[c] and sword
drove them back again. [3]Or it was Cuchulain that drove the men of Erin
before him, so that he brought them back into their former line in the

    [1-1] YBL. 52a, 6-8.

    [2-2] Stowe, and, similarly, Add.

    [c] The name of the wheeled towers described above, page 338 fl.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

Conchobar heard that from his place in the line of battle, that the battle
had gone against him thrice from the north. Then he addressed his
bodyguard, even the inner circle of the Red Branch: "Hold ye here a while,
ye men!" cried he; "even in the line [4]of battle[4] where I am, that I may
go and learn by whom the battle has been thus forced against us thrice from
the north." Then said his household: "We will hold out," said they, [5]"in
the place wherein we are:[5] [W.5974.] for the sky is above us and the
earth underneath and the sea round about us, [1]and[1] unless the heavens
shall fall with their showers of stars on the man-face of the world, or
unless the furrowed, blue-bordered ocean break o'er the tufted brow of the
earth, or unless the ground yawns open, will we not move a thumb's breadth
backward from here till the very day of doom and of everlasting life, till
thou come back to us!"

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. 52a, 14.

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

Conchobar went his way to the place where he heard the battle had gone
three times [LL.fo.102b.] against him from the north. [2]Then Conchobar
made a rush at Fergus,[2] and he lifted shield against shield there, namely
against Fergus mac Roig, even Ochain ('the Fair-ear')[a] of Conchobar with
its four ears of gold and its four bracings of red gold. Therewith Fergus
gave three stout blows of Badb on the Ochain of Conchobar, so that
Conchobar's shield cried aloud on him [3]and the three chief waves of Erin
gave answer, the Wave of Clidna, the Wave of Rudraige and the Wave of Tuag,
to wit.[3] Whenever Conchobar's shield cried out, the shields of all the
Ulstermen cried out. However great the strength and power with which Fergus
smote Conchobar on the shield, so great also was the might and valour
wherewith Conchobar held the shield, so that the ear of the shield did not
even touch the ear of Conchobar.

    [2-2] YBL. 52a, 16-17.

    [a] The name of Conchobar's shield.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

"Hearken, ye men [4]of Erin!"[4] cried Fergus; "who opposes a shield to me
to-day on this day of battle when four of the five grand provinces of Erin
come together on Garech and Ilgarech in the battle of the Cattle-raid
of Cualnge?" "Why, then, a gilla that is younger and mightier [5]and
comelier[5] than thyself is here," [6]Conchobar answered,[6] "and whose
mother and father were [W.5995.] better! The man that hath driven thee out
of thy borders, thy land and thine inheritance; the man that hath driven
thee into the lairs of the deer and the wild hare and the foxes; the man
that hath not granted thee to take the breadth [1]of thy foot[1] of thine
own domain or land; the man that hath made thee dependent upon the bounty
of a woman; the man that of a time disgraced thee by slaying the [2]three
bright lights of the valour of the Gael,[2] the three sons of Usnech that
were under thy safeguard [3]and protection;[3] the man that will repel thee
this day in the presence of the men of Erin; Conchobar son of Fachtna
Fathach son of Ross Ruad son of Rudraige, High King of Ulster and son of
the High King of Erin; [4]and though any one should insult thee, there is
no satisfaction nor reparation for thee, for thou art in the service of a

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [1-1] Stowe and H. 1. 13.

    [2-2] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

"Truly hath this happened to me." Fergus responded. And Fergus placed his
two hands on Calad Colg ('Hardblade'), and he heaved a blow with it
backwards behind him, so that its point touched the ground, and he thought
to strike his three fateful blows of Badb on the men of Ulster, so that
their dead would be more in number than their living. Cormac Conlongas son
of Conchobar saw that and he rushed to [5]his foster-father, namely to[5]
Fergus, and he closed his two [6]royal hands[6] over him [7]outside his
armour.[7] [8]"Ungentle, not heedful is this, Fergus my master! Full of
hate, not of friendship is this,[8] O Fergus my master! Let not the
Ulstermen be slain and destroyed by thee through thy destructive blows, but
take thou thought for their honour to-day on this day of battle!"
[W.6013.] "Get thee away from me, boy! [1]Whom then should I strike?"[1]
exclaimed Fergus; "for I will not remain alive unless I deliver my three
fateful strokes of Badb on the men of Ulster this day, till their dead be
more in number than their living." "Then turn thy hand slantwise," said
Cormac Conlongas, "and slice off the hill-tops over the heads of the hosts
[2]on every side[2] and this will be an appeasing of thine anger." "Tell
Conchobar also to fall [3]back again[3] to his place in the battle,"
[4]said Fergus; "and I will no longer belabour the hosts."[4] [5]Cormac
told this to Conchobar:[5] [6]"Go to the other side, O Conchobar," said
Cormac to his father, "and this man will not visit his anger any longer
here on the men of Ulster."[6] So Conchobar went to his place in the
battle. [7]In this manner Fergus and Conchobar parted.[7]

    [5-5] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [7-7] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [8-8] Following Windisch's emendation of the text. The MSS. are corrupt

    [1-1] YBL. 52a, 35.

    [2-2] YBL. 52a, 36.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] YBL. 52a, 39-41.

    [7-7] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

[8]Fergus turned away. He slew a hundred warriors of Ulster in the first
onslaught with the sword. He met Conall Cernach. "Too great is this rage,"
said Conall, "upon people and kindred because of the whim of a wanton."
"What would ye have me do, ye warriors?" asked Fergus. "Smite the hills
crosswise and the bushes around," Conall Cernach made answer.[8]

    [8-8] YBL. 52a, 41-47.

Thus it was with that sword, which was the sword of Fergus: The sword of
Fergus, the sword of Letè from Faery: Whenever he desired to strike with
it, it became the size of a rainbow in the air. Thereupon Fergus turned his
hand slantwise over the heads of the hosts, so that he smote the three tops
of the three hills, so that they are still on the moor in sight of [9]the
men of Erin.[9] And these are the three Maels ('the Balds') of Meath in
that place, [1]which Fergus smote as a reproach and a rebuke to the men of

    [9-9] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

[W.6027.] Now as regards Cuchulain. He heard the Ochain of Conchobar
smitten by Fergus macRoig. "Come, O Laeg my master," cried Cuchulain: "who
dares thus smite [2]with those strong blows, mighty and far-away,[2] the
Ochain of Conchobar my master, and I alive?" [3]Then Laeg made answer,
saying: "The choice of men, Fergus macRoig, the very bold, smites it:--[3]

    "Blood he sheds--increase of slaughter--
    Splendid the hero, Fergus macRoig!
    Hidden had lain Fairyland's chariot-sword!
    Battle now hath reached the shield,
    Shield of my master Conchobar!"

    [2-2] YBL. 52a, 52.

    [3-3] YBL. 52b, 1-2.

[4]"How far have the hosts advanced, O Laeg?" Cuchulain asked. "They have
come to Garech," Laeg answered. "I give my word for that," Cuchulain cried;
"they will not come as far as Ilgarech, if I catch up with them! [4]Quickly
unloose the bands, gilla!" cried Cuchulain. [5]"Blood covers men. Feats of
swords shall be done. Men shall be spent therefrom!"[5]

    [4-4] Stowe.

    [5-5] YBL. 52b, 7-8.

[6]Since Cuchulain's going into battle had been prevented, his twisting fit
came upon him, and seven and twenty skin tunics were given to him that used
to be about him under strings and cords when going into battle.[6]
[LL.fo.103a.] Then Cuchulain gave a mighty spring, so that the bindings of
his wounds flew from him to Mag Tuag ('the Plain of the Bows') in Connacht.
His bracings went from him to Bacca ('the Props') in Corcomruad [7]in the
district of Boirenn,[7] [8]His supports sprang from him to [9]Rath[9] Cinn
Bara ('the Rath of Spithead') in Ulster, and likewise his pins flew from
him to Rath Clo ('the Rath of the Nails') in the land of the tribe of
Conall.[8] The dry wisps that were stuffed in his wounds rose to the roof
[W.6040.] of the air and the sky as highest larks fly on a day of sunshine
when there is no wind. Thereupon, his bloody wounds got the better of him,
so that the ditches and furrows of the earth were full of streams of blood
and torrents of gore.

    [6-6] YBL. 52b, 17-20.

    [7-7] Stowe and Add.

    [8-8] Stowe.

    [9-9] Add. and H. 1. 13.

[1]Some of the narrators aver that it was the strength of the warrior and
champion that hurled these things [2]to the aforementioned places;[2] but
it was not that, but his powerful friends, the fairy-folk, that brought
them thither, to the end to make famous his history, so that from them
these places are named.[1]

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [2-2] Add.

This was the first exploit of valour that Cuchulain performed on rising
[3]out of his weakness:[3] The two women lampoonists that made a feint of
weeping and wailing [4]over his head,[4] Fethan and Collach to wit, he
smote each of them against the head of the other, so that he[a] was red
with their blood and grey with their brains. [5]These women had come from
Medb to raise a pretended lamentation over him, to the end that his bloody
wounds might burst forth on him, and to tell him that the men of Ulster had
met with defeat and that Fergus had fallen in meeting the battle.[5] His
arms had not been left near him, except his chariot only. And he took his
chariot on his back [6]with its frame and its two axle-trees,[6] and he set
out to attack the men of Erin, and he smote them with the chariot, until he
reached the place where Fergus macRoig was. "Turn hither, O Fergus my
master!" he cried. Fergus did not answer, for he heard not. He spoke again,
"Turn hither, [7]turn hither,[7] O Fergus my master!" he cried; "and if
thou turn not, [8]I swear to god what the Ulstermen swear,[8] I [W.6052.]
will grind thee as a mill grinds fresh grain; I will wash thee as a cup is
washed in a tub; I will bind thee as the woodbine binds the trees; I will
pounce on thee as hawk pounces on fledglings; [1]I will go over thee as its
tail goes over a cat;[1] [2]I will pierce thee as a tool bores through a
tree-trunk; I will pound thee as a fish is pounded on the sand!"[2] "Truly
this is my lot!" spake Fergus. "Who [3]of the men of Erin[3] dares to
address these stiff, vengeful words to me, where now the four grand
provinces of Erin are met on Garech and Ilgarech in the battle of the Raid
for the Kine of Cualnge?" "Thy fosterling is before thee," he replied, "and
fosterling of the men of Ulster and of Conchobar as well, Cuchulain son of
Sualtaim [4]and sister's son to Conchobar," replied Cuchalain.[4] "And thou
didst promise to flee before me what time I should be wounded, in pools of
gore and riddled in the battle of the Táin.[a] For, [5]when thou hadst not
thy sword with thee,[5] I did flee before thee in thine own combat on the
Táin; [6]and do thou avoid me," said he. "Even that did I promise," Fergus
answered. "Away with thee, then!" cried Cuchulain. "'Tis well," replied
Fergus; "thou didst avoid me; now thou art pierced with wounds."[6]

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [a] 'The ground,' Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.; 'so that each of them was
    grey with the brains of the other,' YBL. 52b, 13-14.

    [5-5] YBL. 52b, 14-17.

    [6-6] YBL. 52b, 21.

    [7-7] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [8-8] YBL. 52b, 24.

    [1-1] YBL. 52b, 24-25.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [3-3] YBL. 52b, 27.

    [4-4] YBL. 52b, 28.

    [a] See page 207.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] YBL. 52b, 29-33.

Fergus gave ear to that word of Cuchulain, and he turned and made his three
great strides of a hero [7]back from Cuchulain and turned in flight from
him.[7] And as he turned [8]with his company of three thousand warriors and
the Leinstermen following after Fergus--for it is under Fergus' warrant
they had come[8]--[9]and the men of Munster,[9] there turned all the men of

    [7-7] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [8-8] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [9-9] YBL. 52b, 33.

[W.6065.] [1]Then[1] the men of Erin broke their ranks westwards over the
hill. The battle raged around the men of Connacht, [2]around Ailill and his
division and around Medb with hers and around the Manè with theirs and the
mac Magach with theirs.[2] At midday Cuchulain came to the battle. At the
time of sunset at the ninth hour [3]as the sun entered the tresses of the
wood,[3] [4]when man and tree were no more to be known apart, Medb and[4]
the last company of the men of Connacht fled in rout westwards over the

    [1-1] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [3-3] YBL. 52b, 36.

    [4-4] H. 1. 13 and Add.

At that time there did not remain in Cuchulain's hand of the chariot but a
handful of its spokes around the wheel, and a handbreadth of its poles
around the shell, with the slaying and slaughtering of the four grand
provinces of Erin during all that time.

Then Medb betook her to a shield-shelter in the rear of the men of Erin.
Thereafter Medb sent off the Brown Bull of Cualnge along with fifty of his
heifers and eight of her runners with him around to Cruachan, to the end
that whoso might and whoso might not escape, the Brown Bull of Cualnge
should get away safely, even as she had promised.

Then it was that the issue of blood came upon Medb, [5]and she said: "Do
thou, Fergus, undertake[5] a shield-shelter in the rear of the men of Erin
till I let my water flow from me." "By my troth," replied Fergus, "'tis an
ill hour for thee to be taken so." "Howbeit there is no help for me," Medb
answered; "for I shall not live if I do not void water!" Fergus accordingly
came and raised a shield-shelter in the rear of the men of Erin. Medb
voided her water, so that it made three large dikes, so that a mill[a]
could find room in each dike. Hence the place is known as Fual Medbha
('Medb's Water').

    [5-5] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [a] It is not uncommon in folk-tales that lakes, rivers, etc. arose
    from the micturition of a giant or fairy. Reading with Add.

[W.6085.] Cuchulain came upon her as she was thus engaged, [1]on his way to
the battle,[1] and he did not attack her. He would not strike her a blow
from behind. [2]He spared her then because it was not his wont to slay
women.[2] [3]"Spare me!" cried Medb. "If I should slay thee, it were just
for me," Cuchulain answered.[3] [4]"Arise from hence," said he; "for I deem
it no honour to wound thee from behind with my weapons."[4] "I crave a boon
of thee this day, O Cuchulain," spake Medb. "What boon cravest thou [5]of
me?"[5] asked Cuchulain. "That this host be under thine honour and thy
protection till they pass westwards over Ath Mor ('the Great Ford')."
[LL.fo.103b.] "Yea, I promise that," said Cuchulain. [6]Then[6] went
Cuchulain around the men of Erin, and he undertook a shield-defence on one
side of them, in order to protect the men of Erin. On the other side went
the governors of the men of Erin. Medb went to her own place and assumed a
shield-defence in the rear of the men of Erin, and in this manner they
convoyed the men of Erin over Ath Mor westwards.

    [1-1] YBL. 52b, 41.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [3-3] YBL. 52b, 41-42.

    [4-4] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13.

    [6-6] H. 1. 13. and Add.

[7]Then Laeg [8]son of Riangabair[8] brought Cuchulain's sword unto him,
[9]the 'Hard-headed Steeling' to wit,[9] and Cuchulain took the sword in
his hand.[7] Then he [10]stood still and[10] gave a blow to the three
bald-topped hills of Ath Luain over against the three Maela ('the Bald
Tops') of Meath, so that he struck their three heads off them. [11]And they
are in the bog as a witness ever since. Hence these are the Maolain ('the
Flat Tops') of Ath Luain. Cuchulain cut them off as a reproach and affront
to the men of Connacht, in order that every time men should speak of
Meath's three Bald Tops, these in the west should be the answer the 'Three
Flat Tops of Ath Luain.'[11]

    [7-7] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [8-8] Add.

    [9-9] YBL. 52b, 43.

    [10-10] YBL. 52b. 45.

    [11-11] H. 1. 13 and Add.

[W.6099.] Then [1]when the battle had been lost,[1] Fergus [2]began to
view[2] the host as it went westwards of Ath Mor. "It was thus indeed it
behoved this day to prove, for following in the lead of a woman," [3]said
Fergus.[3] "Faults and feuds have met here to-day," [4]said Medb[4] to
Fergus. "Betrayed and sold is this host to-day," [5]Fergus answered.[5]
"And even as a brood-mare leads her foals into a land unknown, without a
head to advise or give counsel before them, such is the plight of this host
to-day [6]in the train of a woman that hath ill counselled them."[6]

    [1-1] YBL. 52b, 47-48.

    [2-2] Reading with H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] YBL. 52b, 48.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] YBL. 52b, 52.

[7]Then Cuchulain turned to where Conchobar was with the nobles of Ulster
before him. Conchobar bewailed and lamented Cuchulain, and then he uttered
this lay:--

    "How is this, O Cualnge's Hound,
    Hero of the Red Branch, thou:
    Great woe, champion, hast thou borne,
    Battling in thy land's defence!

    "Every morn a hundred slain,
    Every eve a hundred more,
    While the host purveyed thy fare,
    Feeding thee with cooling food!

    "Five-score heroes of the hosts,
    These I reckon are in graves.
    While their women--fair their hue--
    Spend the night bewailing them!"[7]

    [7-7] H. 1. 13.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 363]



[W.6121.] As regards Medb, it is related here: [2]She suffered not the
hosts to disperse forthwith,[2] but she gathered the men of Erin and led
them forth to Cruachan to behold the battle of the bulls [3]and in what
manner they would part from one another. For during the while the battle
was being fought, the Brown Bull of Cualnge with fifty heifers in his
company had been brought to Cruachan.[3]

    [1-1] YBL. 41a, 8.

    [2-2] H. 1. 13.

    [3-3] H. 1. 13 and Add.

As regards the Brown Bull of Cualnge, it is now recounted in this place:
When he saw the beautiful, strange land, he sent forth his three bellowing
calls aloud. And Finnbennach Ai ('the Whitehorned of Ai') heard him. Now no
male beast durst [4]send forth[4] a low that was louder than a moo in
compare with him within the four fords of all Ai, Ath Moga and Ath Coltna,
Ath Slissen and Ath Bercha. And [5]the Whitehorned[5] lifted his head with
fierce anger [6]at the bellowing of the Brown of Cualnge,[6] and he
hastened to Cruachan to look for the Brown Bull of Cualnge.

    [4-4] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] H. 1. 13 and Add.

It was then the men of Erin debated who would be [7]fitted[7] to witness
[8]the fight[8] of the bulls. They all agreed that it should be Bricriu son
of Carbad [9]that were fitted for that office.[9] For, a year before this
tale of the Cualnge Cattle-raid, Bricriu had gone from the one province
into the other to make a request of Fergus. And Fergus had retained
[W.6134.] him with him waiting for his treasures and goods. And a quarrel
arose between him and Fergus at a game of chess.[a] And he spake evil words
to Fergus. Fergus smote him with his fist and with the chess-man that was
in his hand, so that he drave the chess-man into his head and broke a bone
in his head. Whilst the men of Erin were on the foray of the Táin, all that
time Bricriu was being cured at Cruachan. And the day they returned from
the expedition was the day Bricriu rose. [1]He came with the rest to
witness the battle of the bulls.[1] [2]And this is why they selected
Bricriu,[2] for that Bricriu was no fairer to his friend than to his
foe. [3]"Come, ye men of Erin!" cried Bricriu; "permit me to judge the
fight of the bulls,[3] [4]for it is I shall most truly recount their tale
and their deeds afterwards."[4] And he was brought [5]before the men of
Erin[5] to a gap whence to view the bulls.

    [7-7] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [8-8] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [9-9] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [a] The story is told in 'The Adventures of Nera,' published in
    the _Revue Celtique_, t. x, p. 227.

    [1-1] YBL. 53a, 4-5.

    [2-2] Stowe.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13.

[6]So they drove the Brown Bull the morning of the fight till he met the
Whitehorned at Tarbga in the plain of Ai: or Tarbguba ('Bull-groan'), or
Tarbgleo ('Bull-fight'); Roi Dedond was the first name of that hill. Every
one that had lived through the battle cared for naught else than to see the
combat of the two bulls.[6]

    [6-6] YBL. 52b, 52-53a, 3.

Each of the bulls sighted the other and there was a pawing and digging up
of the ground in their frenzy there, and they tossed the earth over
them. They threw up the earth over their withers and shoulders, and their
eyes blazed red [LL.fo.104a.] in their heads like firm balls of fire,
[7]and their sides bent like mighty boars on a hill.[7] Their cheeks and
their nostrils swelled like smith's bellows in a forge. And each of them
gave a resounding, deadly blow to the other. Each of them began to hole and
to gore, to endeavour to slaughter [W.6151.] and demolish the other. Then
the Whitehorned of Ai visited his wrath upon the Brown Bull of Cualnge for
the evil of his ways and his doings, and he drave a horn into his side and
visited his angry rage upon him. Then they directed their headlong course
to where Bricriu was, so that the hoofs of the bulls drove him a man's
cubit deep into the ground after his destruction. Hence, this is the
Tragical Death of Bricriu [1]son of Carbad.[1]

    [7-7] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

Cormac Conlongas son of Conchobar saw that, [2]and the force of affection
arose in him,[2] and he laid hold of a spearshaft that filled his grasp,
and gave three blows to the Brown Bull of Cualnge from ear to tail, [3]so
that it broke on his thick hide from ear to rump.[3] "No wonderful, lasting
treasure was this precious prize for us," said Cormac, "that cannot defend
himself against a stirk of his own age!" The Brown Bull of Cualnge
heard this--for he had human understanding[a]--and he turned upon the
Whitehorned. [4]Thereupon the Brown of Cualnge became infuriated, and he
described a very circle of rage around the Whitehorned, and he rushed at
him, so that he broke his lower leg with the shock.[4] And thereafter they
continued to strike at each other for a long while and great space of time,
[5]and so long as the day lasted they watched the contest of the bulls[5]
till night fell on the men of Erin. And when night had fallen, all that the
men of Erin could hear was the bellowing and roaring. That night the bulls
coursed over [6]the greater part of[6] all Erin. [7]For every spot in Erin
wherein is a 'Bulls' Ditch,' or a 'Bulls' Gap,' or a 'Bulls' Fen,' or a
'Bulls' Loch,' or a 'Bulls' Rath,' [8]or a 'Bulls' Back,'[8] it is from
them[7] [9]those places are named.[9]

    [2-2] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [a] See note [d], page 28, _supra_.

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [7-7] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [8-8] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [9-9] Add.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 366]



[2]A journey of a day and a night the Brown Bull carried the remains of the
Whitehorned till he came to the loch that is by Cruachan. And he came
thereout with the loin and the shoulder-blade and the liver of the other on
his horns.[2] [W.6168.] It was not long before the men of Erin, as they
were there [3]in the company of Ailill and Medb[3] early on the morrow, saw
coming over Cruachan from the west the Brown Bull of Cualnge with the
Whitehorned of Ai in torn fragments hanging about his ears and horns. The
men of Erin arose, and they knew not which of the bulls it was. "Come, ye
men!" cried Fergus; "leave him alone if it be the Whitehorned that is
there; and if it be the Brown of Cualnge, leave him his trophy with him!"

    [1-1] YBL. 41a, 8.

    [2-2] YBL. 53a, 13-16.

    [3-3] H. 1. 13 and Add.

[4]Then it was that the [5]seven[5] Manè arose to take vengeance on the
Brown Bull of Cualnge for his violence and his valour. "Whither go yonder
men?" asked Fergus. "They go to kill the Brown of Cualnge," [6]said all,[6]
"because of his evil deeds."[4] "I pledge my word," [7]shouted Fergus:[7]
"what has already been done in regard to the bulls is a small thing in
compare with that which will [W.6179.] now take place, [1]unless with his
spoils and victory ye let the Brown of Cualnge go from you into his own

    [4-4] Stowe and Add.

    [5-5] Add.

    [6-6] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [7-7] H. 1. 13, Stowe and Add.

    [1-1] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

[2]Then the Brown Bull of Cualnge gave forth the three chiefest bellowings
of his throat in boast of his triumph, and fear of Fergus held back the men
of Erin from attacking the Brown Bull of Cualnge.[2]

    [2-2] H. 1. 13.

[3]Then[3] went the Brown Bull of Cualnge [4]to the west of Cruachan.[4] He
turned his right[a] side towards Cruachan, and he left there a heap of the
liver [5]of the Whitehorned,[5] so that thence is [6]named[6] Cruachan Ai

    [3-3] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [a] As a sign of friendliness.

    [5-5] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [6-6] H. 1. 13 and Add.

[7]Next he [8]came to his own land and[8] reached the river Finnglas
('Whitewater'), and, [9]on coming,[9] he drank a draught from the river,
and, so long as he drank the draught, he let not one drop of the river flow
by him. Then he raised his head, and the shoulder-blades of the Whitehorned
fell from him in that place. Hence, Sruthair Finnlethe ('Stream of the
White Shoulder-blade') is the name given to it.[7]

    [7-7] Stowe.

    [8-8] YBL. 53a, 18.

    [9-9] YBL. 53a, 18.

He pursued his way [10]to the river Shannon,[10] to the brink of Ath Mor
('the Great Ford'), [11]and he drank a draught from it, and, as long as he
drank the draught, he let not one drop of the river flow past him. Then he
raised his head, so that the two haunches of the Whitehorned fell from him
there;[11] and he left behind the loin of the Whitehorned in that place, so
that thence cometh Athlone ('Loinford'). He continued eastwards into the
land of Meath to Ath Truim. [12]He sent forth his roar at Iraird Cuillinn;
he was heard over the entire province. And he drank in Tromma.[12] [13]As
long as he drank the draught, he let not one drop of the river flow past
him.[13] And he left behind [W.6192.] there the liver of the Whitehorned.
[1]Some [2]learned men[2] say, it is from the liver of the Whitehorned
which fell from the Brown of Cualnge, that Ath Truim ('Liverford') is

    [10-10] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [11-11] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [12-12] YBL. 53a, 22.

    [13-13] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [1-1] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [2-2] Add.

He raised his head haughtily and shook the remains of the Whitehorned from
him over Erin. He sent its hind leg away from him to Port Largè ('Port of
the Hind Leg'). He sent its ribs from him to Dublin, which is called Ath
Cliath ('Ford of the Ribs' or 'of the Hurdles').

He turned his face northwards then, [3]and went on thence to the summit of
Sliab Breg, and he saw the peaks[3] and knew the land of Cualnge, [4]and a
great agitation came over him at the sight of his own land and country,[4]
and he went his way towards it. In that place were women and youths and
children lamenting the Brown Bull of Cualnge. They saw the Brown of
Cualnge's forehead approaching them. "The forehead of a bull cometh towards
us!" they shouted. Hence is Taul Tairb ('Bull's Brow') ever since. [5]Then
he went on the road of Midluachar to Cuib, where he was wont to be with the
yeld cow of Darè, and he tore up the earth there. Hence cometh Gort Buraig
('Field of the Trench').[5]

    [3-3] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [4-4] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [5-5] YBL. 53a, 26-28.

[LL.fo.104b.] Then turned the Brown of Cualnge on the women and youths and
children of the land of Cualnge, and [6]with the greatness of his fury and
rage[6] he effected a great slaughter [7]amongst them.[7] He turned his
back to the hill then and his heart broke in his breast, even as a nut
breaks, [8]and he belched out his heart like a black stone of dark
blood.[8] [9]He went then and died between Ulster and Ui Echach at Druim
Tairb. Druim Tairb ('Bull's Back') is the name of that place.[9]

    [6-6] H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [7-7] Translating from Stowe.

    [8-8] Stowe, H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [9-9] YBL. 53a, 28-29.

[1]Such, then, is the account of the Brown Bull of Cualnge, and the end of
the Táin by Medb of Cruachan daughter of Eocho Fedlech, and by Ailill son
of Maga, and by all the men of Ulster up to this point.[1] [2]Ailill and
Medb made peace with the men of Ulster and with Cuchulain. For seven years
there was no killing of men amongst them in Erin. Finnabair remained with
Cuchulain, and the Connachtmen went to their own land, and the men of
Ulster returned to Emain Macha with their great triumph. _Finit. Amen._[2]

    [1-1] Translating from H. 1. 13 and Add.

    [2-2] YBL. 53a, 29-33.

       *       *       *       *       *

[W.6206.] A blessing be upon all such as shall faithfully keep the Táin in
memory as it stands here and shall not add any other form to it.[a]

    [a] With this the Irish text concludes: What follows is in Latin.

       *       *       *       *       *

I, however, who have copied this history, or more truly legend, give no
credence to various incidents narrated in it.  For, some things herein are
the feats of jugglery of demons, sundry others poetic figments, a few are
probable, others improbable, and even more invented for the delectation of

       *       *       *       *       *

[Page 371]


It will simplify matters for the English reader if the following points
respecting the pronunciation of proper names in medieval Irish, are borne
in mind:

Each _simple_ word is accented on the first syllable.


á (long), as in _aught_; a (short), as in _hot_.
c with slender vowels (e, i), as in _king_; never as _s_.
c with broad vowels (a, o, u), as in _car_; never as _s_.
ch with slender vowels (e, i), as in German _Ich_; never as in _church_.
ch with broad vowels (a, o, u), as in German _Buch_; never as in _church_.
d with slender vowels (e, i), as in French _dieu_.
d with broad vowels (a, o, u), as in _thy_.
é (long), as in _ale_; e (short), as in _bet_.
g with slender vowels (e, i), as in _give_; never as _j_.
g with broad vowels (a, o, u), as in _go_; never as _j_.
gh with slender vowels (e, i) is slender ch _voiced_.
gh with broad vowels (a, o, u) is broad ch _voiced_.
í (long), as in _feel_; i (short), as in _it_.
mh and bh intervocalic with slender vowels, as _v_.
mh and bh intervocalic with broad vowels, as _w_.
ó (long), as in _note_; o (short), as in _done_.
s with slender vowels (e, i), as in _shine_; never as _z_.
s with broad vowels (a, o, u), as _s_.
t with slender vowels (e, i), as in _tin_.
t with broad vowels (a, o, u), as in _threw_.
th, like _h_.
ú (long), as in _pool_; u (short), as in _full_.

The remaining consonants are pronounced almost as in English.

Aed: to rime with _Day_

Aed Ernmas: the father of the Morrigan

Ai: _see_ Mag Ai

Aidne: a district comprising the barony of Kiltartan, in the south-west of
the County Galway

Aifè: one of the three women-teachers of Cuchulain and Ferdiad (pronounced

Ailè: north-east of Baile, on Medb's march from Cruachan into Ulster

Ailill: king-consort of Queen Medb, dwelling in Cruachan Ai (pronounced

Ailill Find Miltenga: one of the chief heroes of Ulster

Ailill macMailchlo: father of Sencha

Ainè: _see_ Cnoc Ainè

Airnè: north-east of Assè

Alba: Scotland

Amargin Iarngiunnach: a leading Ulster hero; father of Conall Cernach and
brother of Iliach (pronounced _Avergin_)

Ane: a district in which is Knockaney in the County Limerick

Ardachad: north of Druim Liccè

Ard Ciannachta: a place in the barony of Ferrard, in the County Louth

Ard Cuillenn: in Ulster, east of Moin Coltna

Ard Macha: Armagh

Assail: a place in Meath

Assè: north of Finnabair (Fennor), on Medb's march out of Connacht into

Ath: 'a ford' (pronounced _Ah_)

Ath Aladh Ind: a ford in the Plain of Murthemne

Ath Berchna: in Connacht, north-west of Croohan, near Bellanagare; it may
be for Ath Bercha, in East Roscommon, and on or near the Shannon

Ath Buide: the village of Athboy, in the territory of Ross, County Meath

Ath Carpat: a ford on the river Nith (now the Dee), in the County Louth

Ath Ceit Chule: a ford on the river Glais, in Ulster

Ath Cliath: Dublin

Ath Coltna: in Connacht, south-west of Ath Moga and south-east of Cruachan

Ath Cro: a ford in Murthemne

Ath da Fert: a ford in Sliab Fuait, probably in the south of the barony of
Upper Fews, County Armagh

Ath Darteisc: a ford in Murthemne

Ath Feidli: a ford in Ulster

Ath Fene: _see_ Ath Irmidi

Ath Firdead: Ardee, a ford and a small town on the river Dee, in the County

Ath Gabla: a ford on the Boyne, north of Knowth, in the County Meath
(pronounced _Ah gowla_)

Ath Grenca: the same as Ath Gabla

Ath Irmidi: the older name of Ath Fene, south of Iraird Cuillinn

Ath Lethain: a ford on the Nith, in Conalle Murthemni

Ath Luain: Athlone, on the Shannon, on the borders of Connacht and Meath

Ath Meislir: a ford in Sliab Fuait, in Ulster

Ath Moga: the present Ballymoe, on the river Suck, about ten miles to the
south-west of Cruachan, County Galway

Ath Mor: the old name for Ath Luain

Ath na Foraire: on the road between Emain and Loch Echtrann

Ath Slissen: Bellaslishen Bridge; a ford on the Owenure River, near Elphin,
in Connacht

Ath Solomshet: a ford, probably in Ulster

Ath Srethe: a ford in Conalle Murthemni

Ath Tamuin: a ford, somewhere in Ulster

Ath Traged: at the extremity of Tir Mor, in Murthemne

Ath Truim: Trim, on the river Boyne, in the County Meath

Aue: a slave in the household of King Conchobar

Aurthuile: north-east of Airne

Bacca: in Corcumruad

Bacc Draigin: a place in Ulster

Badb: the war-fury, or goddess of war and carnage; she was wont to appear
in the form of a carrion-crow. Sometimes she is the sister of the Morrigan,
and, as in the Táin Bó Cúalnge, is even identified with her (pronounced

Badbgna: now Slieve Bawne, a mountainous range, in the barony of
Ballintubber, in the east of County Roscommon

Baile: north-east of Meide ind Eoin, on Medb's march from Connacht into

Baile in Bile: on the way to Ardee

Bairche: Benna Bairche, the Mourne Mountains, north of Dundalk, in Ulster

Ball Scena: north-east of Dall Scena

Banba: an old name for Ireland

Banna: now the Bann, a river in Ulster

Becaltach: grandfather of Cuchulain

Bedg: a river in Murthemne

Belat Aileain: probably between Cualnge and Conalle Murthemni

Belach Caille More: north of Cnogba

Benna Bairche: _see_ Bairche

Berba: the Barrow, a river in Leinster

Bercha: on or near the Shannon, near Bellanagare, in East Roscommon

Berchna: probably for Bercha

Bernas: the pass cut by Medb from Louth into Armagh; probably the "Windy
Gap" across the Carlingford Peninsula

Betha: see Sliab Betha

Bir: the name of several rivers; probably Moyola Water, a river flowing
into Lough Neagh

Bithslan: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Blai: a rich Ulster noble and hospitaller

Boann: the River Boyne

Bodb: the father of Badb

Boirenn: Burren, in the County Clare

Branè: probably a hill not far from Ardee, in the County Louth

Breslech Mor: a fort in Murthemne

Brecc: a place in Ulster

Brega: the eastern part of Meath

Brenide: a river in Conalle Murthemni, near Strangford Lough

Bricriu: son of Carbad, and the evil adviser of the Ulstermen

Bri Errgi: stronghold of Errge Echbel, in the County Down

Brigantia: Betanzos, in Galicia, on the north coast of Spain

Bri Ross: a hill to the north of Ardee, in the County Louth

Brug Meic ind Oc, or, as it is also called,

Brug na Boinde: Brugh on the Boyne, near Stackallen Bridge, County Meath,
one of the chief burial-places of the pagan Irish

Buagnech: probably in Leinster and near the river Liffey

Buan: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Buas: the river Bush, in the County Antrim

Burach: a place in Ulster

Callann: the Callan, a river near Emain Macha

Canann Gall: a place in Ulster

Carn: north of Inneoin; probably Carn Fiachach, in the parish of Conry,
barony of Rathconrath, Westmeath

Carn macBuachalla, at Dunseverick, in Ulster

Carbre: stepson of Conchobar and brother of Ailill

Carrloeg: a place in Ulster

Casruba: father of Lugaid and grandfather of Dubthach

Cathba: north-east of Ochonn, in Meath; or a river flowing into the Boyne,
some distance to the west of Slane

Cathba: a druid of Conchobar's court; according to some accounts, the
natural father of King Conchobar (pronounced _Cahvah_)

Celtchar: son of Uthechar, an Ulster warrior

Cenannas na rig: Kells, in the Covinty Meath

Cenn Abrat: a range of hills on the borders of the Counties Cork and

Cet macMagach: a Connacht warrior

Cinn Tire: a place in Ulster

Clann Dedad: one of the three warrior-clans of Erin: a sept occupying the
territory around Castleisland, County Kerry

Clann Rudraige: the warriors of King Conchobar: one of the three heroic
tribes of Ireland

Clartha: Clara, near the present town of Mullingar, in the County Westmeath

Cletech: a residence of the kings of Ireland in Mag Breg, near Stackallan
Bridge, on the banks of the Boyne

Clidna: _see sub_ Tonn

Clithar Bo Ulad: probably in the centre of the County Louth

Cliu: an extensive territory in the county Limerick

Clothru: sister of Medb: Medb slew her while her son, Firbaide, was still

Cluain Cain: now Clonkeen, in the west of County Louth

Cluain Carpat: a meadow at the river Cruinn in Cualnge

Cluain maccuNois: Clonmacnoise, on the Shannon, about nine miles below

Cnoc Aine: Knockany, a hill and plain in the County Limerick

Cnogba: Knowth, on the Boyne, near Drogheda, a couple of miles east of
Slane, in the County Meath

Colbtha: the mouth of the Boyne at Drogheda, or some place near the Boyne

Collamair: between Gormanstown and Turvey, in the County Dublin

Coltain: south of Cruachan Ai

Conall: probably Tyrconnel, in the County Donegal

Conall Cernach: one of the chief warriors of Ulster: foster-brother of
Cuchulain and next to him in point of prowess

Conalle Murthemni: a level plain in the County Louth, extending from the
Cooley Mountains, or Carlingford, to the Boyne

Conchobar: son of Cathba the druid, and of Ness, and foster-son of Fachtna
Fatach (variously pronounced _Cruhóor_, _Connahóor_)

Conlaech: son of Cuchulain and Aifè

Corcumruad: the present barony of Corcomroe, in the County Clare

Cormac Conlongas: King Conchobar's eldest son; called "the Intelligent
Exile," because of the part he took as surety for the safety of the exiled
sons of Usnech

Coronn: the barony of Corran, in the County Sligo

Corp Cliath: a place in Ulster

Craeb ruad: ordinarily Englished "Red Branch"; better, perhaps, "Nobles'
Branch:" King Conchobar's banqueting-hall, at Emain Macha

Crannach: at Faughart, north-east of Fid Mor

Cromma: a river flowing into the Boyne not far from Slane

Cronn hi Cualngi: probably a hill or river of this name near Cualnge

Cruachan Ai: the ancient seat and royal burial-place of the kings of
Connacht, ten miles north-east of the modern Rathcroghan, near Belanagare,
in the County Roscommon (pronounced _Croohan_)

Cruinn: a river in Cualnge: probably the stream now called the Piedmont
River, emptying into Dundalk Bay

Cruthnech: the land of the Irish Picts; the northern part of the County
Down and the southern part of the County Antrim

Cu, Cucuc, Cuacain, Cucucan, Cucucuc: diminutives of the name Cuchulain

Cualnge: Cooley, a mountainous district between Dundalk Bay and Drogheda,
in the barony of Lower Dundalk, in the County Louth. It originally extended
to the County Down, and the name is now applied to the southern side of the
Carlingford Mountains (pronounced _Cooln'ya_)

Cualu: a district in the County Wicklow

Cuchulain: the usual name of the hero Setanta; son of the god Lug and of
Dechtire, and foster-son of Sualtaim (pronounced _Cuhoolin_)

Cuib: on the road to Midluachair

Cuilenn: the Cully Waters flowing southward from County Armagh into County

Cul Siblinne: now Kells in East Meath

Cul Silinne: Kilcooley, a few miles to the south-east of Cruachan, in the
County Roscommon

Culenn: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Cuillenn: _see_ Ard Cuillenn

Cuillenn Cinn Duni: a hill in Ulster

Cuince: a mountain in Cualnge

Cumung: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Curoi: son of Darè and king of South Munster

Cuscraid Menn Macha: son of Conchobar

Dall Scena: a place north of Ailè

Dalraida: now "the Route," a territory north of Slieve Mish, in the north
of the County Antrim

Darè: chieftain of the cantred of Cualnge and owner of the Brown Bull of

Dechtire: sister of King Conchobar and mother of Cuchulain

Delga: _see_ Dun Delga

Delga Murthemni: Dundalk

Delinn: a place or river near Kells between Duelt and Selaig, on Medb's
march from Cruachan into Ulster

Delt: a place north of Drong, on Medb's march from Cruachan into Ulster

Delt: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Dergderc: Lough Derg, an expansion of the Shannon near Killaloe

Dichaem: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Domnann: _see_ Irrus Domnann

Drong: a river in the land of the men of Assail, in Meath

Druim Caimthechta: north-east of Druim Cain

Druim Cain: possibly an older name for Temair (Tara)

Druim En: in South Armagh; probably a wooded height, near Ballymascanlan,
in the County Louth

Druim Fornocht: near Newry, in the County Down

Druim Liccè: north-east of Gort Slane, on Medb's march from Connacht into

Druim Salfinn: now Drumshallon, a townland in the County Louth, six miles
north of Drogheda

Dub: the Blackwater, on the confines of Ulster and Connacht; or the
confluence of the Rivers Boyne and Blackwater at Navan

Dubh Sithleann (or Sainglenn): the name of one of Cuchulain's two horses

Dubloch: a lake between Kilcooley and Slieve Bawne, in the County
Roscommon, on Medb's march from Cruachan into Ulster

Dubthach Doel Ulad: the Ulster noble who shares with Bricriu the place as
prime mover of evil among the Ulstermen (pronounced _Duffach_)

Duelt: north or north-west of Delt, on Medb's march from Cruachan into

Dun da Benn: Mount Sandle, on the Bann, near Coleraine in the County Derry

Dun Delga: Dundalk, or the moat of Castletown, on the east coast near
Dundalk; Cuchulain's home town

Dun macNechtain Scenè: a fort in Mag Breg, at the place where the Mattock
falls into the Boyne, about three miles above Drogheda

Dun Sobairche: Dunseverick, about three miles from the Giants' Causeway, in
the County Antrim

Elg: an old name for Ireland

Ellne: probably east of the River Bann, near Coleraine

Ellonn: a place in Ulster

Emain Macha: the Navan Fort, or Hill, two miles west of Armagh; King
Conchobar's capital and the chief town of Ulster (pronounced _Evvin Maha_)

Emer Foltchain: wife of Cuchulain (pronounced _Evver_)

Enna Agnech: according to the Annals of the Four Masters, he was High King
of Ireland from 312 to 293 B.C.

Eo Donn Mor: north-east of Eo Donn Bec, in the County Louth

Eocho Fedlech: father of Medb; according to the Four Masters, he reigned as
monarch of Ireland from 142 to 131 B.C.  (pronounced _Yokh-ho_)

Eocho Salbuide: King of Ulster and father of Cethern's wife, Inna

Eogan macDurthachta: a chief warrior of Ulster and Prince of Fernmag

Erc macFedilmithi: an Ulster hero, son of Fedlimid and grandson of

Erna: a sept of Munstermen who later settled about Lough Erne, in Connacht

Ess Ruaid: Assaroe; a cataract on the River Erne near Ballyshannon, in the
south of the County Donegal. It constituted part of the old boundary
between Ulster and Connacht

Etarbane: one of the "seats" of the king of Cashel, in Tipperary

Ethliu: father of Lug

Ethne: sister of Medb (pronounced _Ehnna_)

Fachtna Fathach: king of Ulster and later of all Ireland; adoptive father
of Conchobar and husband of Ness, Conchobar's mother

Fal (or Inisfail): one of the bardic names for Ireland; Medb is called "of
Fal," as daughter of the High King of Ireland (pronounced _Fawl_)

Fan na Coba: a territory in the baronies of Upper and Lower Iveagh, in the
County Down

Fedain Cualngi: a place in Ulster

Fedlimid Nocruthach: daughter of King Conchobar, wife of Loegaire Buadach,
mother of Fiachna and cousin-german of Cuchulain (pronounced _Falemid_)

Femen: a territory at Slieve-na-man, extending perhaps from Cashel to
Clonmel, in the southern part of the County Tipperary

Fenè: the old tribal name of the Gaels; the "King of the Fenè" is
Conchobar, King of Ulster

Feorainn: a place near Ardachad, on Medb's march into Ulster

Fercerdne: chief poet of the men of Ulster

Ferdiad: (pronounced _Fair-dee-ah_)

Fergus macRoig: one time king of Ulster; in voluntary exile in Connacht
after the treacherous putting to death of the sons of Usnech by
Conchobar. He became the chief director of the Táin under Medb

Ferloga: Ailill's charioteer

Fernmag: Farney, a barony in the County Monaghan

Ferta Fingin: at Sliab Fuait

Fiachu macFiraba: one of the exiles of Ulster in the camp of Medb

Fian: the warrior-class

Fid Dub: a wood, north of Cul Silinne, on Medb's march into Ulster

Fid Mor: a wood, north of Dundalk and between it and Sliab Fuait

Fingabair: probably in the Fews Mountains

Finnabair: daughter to Ailill and Medb (pronounced _Fín-nuh-hur_)

Finnabair: Fennor, on the banks of the Boyne, near Slane, in Meath

Finnabair Slebe: near Imlech Glendamrach

Finncharn Slebe Moduirn: a height in the Mourne Mountains

Finnglas: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Finnglassa Asail: a river south-east of Cruachan

Fir Assail: a district containing the barony of Farbill, in Westmeath

Flidais Foltchain: wife of Ailill Finn, a Connacht chieftain; after her
husband's violent death she became the wife of Fergus, and accompanied him
on the Táin

Fochain: near Cuchulain's abode

Fochard Murthemni: Faughart, two miles north-west of Dundalk, in the County

Fodromma: a river flowing into the Boyne near Slane

Fuil Iairn: the name of a ford west of Ardee

Gabal: the Feeguile, a river in the King's County

nGabar: a place near Donaghmore, perhaps to, the west of Lough Neagh in the
County Tyrone

Galian: a name the Leinstermen bore. They were Ailill's countrymen

Gainemain: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Garech: the name of the hill where the final battle of the Táin was fought,
some distance south-east of Athlone and near Mullingar, in Westmeath

Gegg: a woman's name

Genonn Gruadsolus: a druid and poet of Ulster; son of Cathba

Glaiss Colptha: the river Boyne

Glaiss Gatlaig: a river in Ulster

Glenamain: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Glenn Fochain: probably a valley east of Bellurgan Station

Glenn Gatt: a valley in Ulster

Glennamain: in Murthemne

Glenn in Scail: a place in Dalaraide, East Ulster

Glenn na Samaisce: in Slieve Gullion, in the County Armagh

Glenn Tail: another name for Belat Aileain

Gleoir: the Glore, a river in Conalle Murthemni

Gluine Gabur: east of the Shannon, in the County Longford

Gort Slane: north of Slane and south-west of Druim Liccè

Grellach Bobulge: at Dunseverick, in Ulster

Grellach Dolar (or Dolluid): Girley, near Kells, in the County Meath

Gualu Mulchi: the town-land of Drumgoolestown on the river Dee, in the
County Louth

Ialla Ilgremma: near Sliab Betha and Mag Dula

Ibar macRiangabra: Conchobar's charioteer

Id macRiangabra: Ferdiad's charioteer, brother to Laeg

Ilgarech: a hill near Garech, _q.v._

Iliach: grandfather to Conall Cernach

Illann Ilarchless: an Ulster warrior, son to Fergus

Imchad: son to Fiachna

Imchlar: near Donaghmore, west of Dungannon, in the County Tyrone

Immail: a place in the Mourne Mountains, in Ulster

Imrinn: a druid, son to Cathba

Inis Cuscraid: Inch, near Downpatrick

Inis Clothrann: Inishcloghran in Loch Ree, County Longford

Innbir Scene: the mouth of Waterford Harbour near Tramore; or the mouth of
Kenmare Bay, in the County Kerry

Inncoin: the Dungolman, a river into which the Inny flows and which divides
the barony of Kilkenny West from Rathconrath, in the County Westmeath

Iraird Cuillinn: a height south of Emain Macha, in Ulster

Irrus Domnann: the barony of Erris, in County Mayo: the clan which bore
this name and to which Ferdiad belonged was one of the three heroic races
of ancient Ireland

Laeg: son of Riangabair and Cuchulain's faithful charioteer (pronounced

Latharne: Larne, in the County Antrim

Lebarcham: a sorceress

Leire: in the territory of the Fir Roiss, in the south of the County Antrim

Ler: the Irish sea-god

Lethglas: Dun Lethglaisse, now Downpatrick, in Ulster

Lettre Luasce: between Cualnge and Conalle

Lia Mor: in Conalle Murthemni

Liath Mache: 'the Roan,' one of Cuchulain's two horses.

Lia Ualann: in Cualnge

Linè (or Mag Linè): Moylinne, in the County Antrim

Loch Ce: Lough Key, in the County Roscommon

Loch Echtrann: Muckno Lake, south of Sliab Fuait, in the County Monaghan

Loch Erne: Lough Erne, in the County Fermanagh

Loch Ri: Lough Ree, on the Shannon, in the County Galway

Loegaire Buadach: son to Connad Buide and husband of Fedlimid Nocruthach;
one of the chief warriors of Ulster (pronounced _Layeray_)

Lothor: a place in Ulster

Luachair: probably Slieve Lougher, or the plain in which lay Temair
Luachra, a fort somewhere near the town of Castleisland, in the County

Lug: the divine father of Cuchulain

Lugaid: father of Dubthach

Lugmud: Louth, in the County of that name

Luibnech: possibly a place now called Limerick, in the County Wexford

MacMagach: relatives of Ailill

MacRoth: Medb's chief messenger

Mag: 'a plain' (pronounced _moy_)

Mag Ai: the great plain in the County Roscommon, extending from Ballymore
to Elphin, and from Bellanagare to Strokestown (pronounced _Moy wee_)

Mag Breg: the plain along and south of the lower Boyne, comprising the east
of County Meath and the north of County Dublin (pronounced _Moy bray_)

Mag Cruimm: south-east of Cruachan, in Connacht

Mag Dea: a plain in Ulster

Mag Dula: a plain though which the Do flows by Castledawson into Lough

Mag Eola: a plain in Ulster

Mag Inis: the plain comprising the baronies of Lecale and Upper
Castlereagh, in the County Down

Mag Linè: Moylinne, a plain to the north-east of Lough Neagh, in the barony
of Upper Antrim

Mag Mucceda: a plain near Emain Macha

Mag Trega: Moytra, in the County Longford

Mag Tuaga: a plain in Mayo

Maic Miled: the Milesians

Mairg: a district in which is Slievemargie, in the Queen's County and the
County Kilkenny

Manannan: son of Ler, a fairy god

Margine: a place in Cualnge

Mas na Righna: Massareene, in the County Antrim

Mata Murisc: mother of Ailill

Medb: queen of Connacht and wife of Ailill (pronounced _Mave_; in modern
Connacht Irish _Mow_ to rhyme with _cow_)

Meide ind Eoin, and Meide in Togmail: places in or near the Boyne, in the
County Louth

Midluachair: Slige Midluachra, the name of the highroad east of Armagh,
leading north from Tara to Emain and into the north of Ireland

Mil: the legendary progenitor of the Milesians (See Maic Miled)

Miliuc: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Moduirn: _see_ Sliab Moduirn

Moin Coltna: a bog between Slieve Bawne and the Shannon

Moraltach: great grandfather of Cuchulain

Morann: a famous judge

Morrigan: the war-goddess of the ancient Irish, "_monstrum in feminae
figura_" (pronounced _More-reegan_)

Mossa: a territory, the southern part of which must have been in the barony
of Eliogarty, not far from Cashel, in the County Tipperary

Muach: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Muresc: the land of Ailill's mother; Murresk Hamlet, between Clew Bay and
Croagh Patrick, in the County Mayo

Murthemne: a great plain along the northern coast of the County Louth
between the river Boyne and the Cooley Mountains; now belonging to
Leinster, but, at the time of the Táin, to Ulster (pronounced

Nemain: the Badb

Ness: mother of King Conchobar by Cathba; she afterwards married Fachtna
Fathach and subsequently Fergus macRoig

Nith: the river Dee which flows by Ardee, in the County Louth

Ochain: the name of Conchan bar's shield

Ochonn Midi: a place near the Blackwater at Navan

Ochtrach: near Finnglassa Asail, in Meath

Oenfer Aifè: another name for Conlaech

Oengus Turbech: according to the Annals of Ireland, he reigned as High King
from 384 to 326 B.C.

Ord: south-east of Cruachan and north of Tiarthechta

Partraige beca: Partry in Slechta south-west of Kells, in Meath

Port Largè: Waterford

Rath Airthir: a place in Connacht

Rath Cruachan: Rathcroghan, between Belanagare and Elphin, in the County

Rede Loche: a place in Cualnge

Renna: the mouth of the Boyne

Riangabair: father of the charioteers, Laeg and Id

Rigdonn: a place in the north

Rinn: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Rogne: a territory between the rivers Suir and Barrow, in the barony of
Kells, the County Kildare or Kilkenny

Ross: a district in the south of the County Monaghan

Ross Mor: probably Ross na Rig, near Ball Scena

Sas: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Scathach: the Amazon dwelling in Alba who taught Cuchulain and Ferdiad
their warlike feats (pronounced _Scaw-ha_)

Selaig: Sheelagh, a townland in the barony of Upper Dundalk

Semne: Island Magee, north-east of Carrickfergus, in the County Antrim

Senbothae: Templeshanbo, at the foot of Mount Leinster, in the County

Sencha macAilella: the wise counsellor and judge of the Ulstermen

Sered: a plain in the north of the barony of Tirhugh, County Donegal

Setanta: the real name of Cuchulain

Sid: the terrene gods (pronounced _She_)

Sil: in Lecale, in the County Down

Sinann: the river Shannon

Siuir: the Suir, a river in Munster, forming the northern boundary of the
County Waterford

Slabra: a place north of Selaig, near Kells, in Meath

Slaiss: south-east of Cruachan, between Ord and Inneoin

Slane: a town on the Boyne, in Meath

Slechta: south-west of Kells, in Meath

Slemain Mide: "Slane of Meath," Slewen, three miles to the west of
Mullingar, in Westmeath

Sliab Betha: Slieve Beagh, a mountain whereon the Counties of Fermanagh,
Tyrone, and Monaghan meet

Sliab Culinn: Slieve Gullion, in the County Armagh

Sliab Fuait: the Fews Mountains, near Newtown-Hamilton, to the west and
north-west of Slieve Gullion; in the southern part of the County Armagh

Sliab Mis: Slieve Mish, a mountain in the County Kerry, extending eastwards
from Tralee

Sliab Moduirn: the Mourne Range, in the County Monaghan, partly in Cavan
and partly in Meath

Sruthair Finnlethe: a river west of Athlone

Sualtaim (or, Sualtach) Sidech: the human father of Cuchulain

Suide Lagen: Mount Leinster, in the County Wexford

Tadg: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Taidle: near Cuib

Taltiu: Teltown, in the County Meath, on or near the Blackwater, between
Navan and Kells; one of the chief places of assembly and burial of the

Taul Tairb: in Cualnge

Telamet: a river in Conalle Murthemni

Temair: Tara, the seat of the High King of Ireland, near Navan, in the
County Meath (pronounced _Tavvir_)

Tethba descirt: South Teffia, a territory about and south of the river
Inny, in the County Longford

Tethba tuascirt: south-east of Cruachan, in Teffia, County Longford

Tir Mor: in Murthemne

Tir na Sorcha: a fabled land, ruled over by Manannan

Tir Tairngire: "the Land of Promise"

Tonn Clidna: a loud surge in the Bay of Glandore

Tonn Rudraige: a huge wave in the Bay of Dundrum, in the County Cork

Tonn Tuage Inbir: "the Tuns," near the mouth of the river Bann on the north
coast of Antrim

Tor Breogain: "Bregon's Tower," in Spain

Tromma: south-east of Cruachan; also the name of a river flowing into the
Boyne near Slane

Tuaim Mona: Tumona, a townland in the parish of Ogulla, near Tulsk, south
of Cruachan Ai, County Roscommon

Tuatha Bressi: a name for the people of Connacht

Tuatha De Danann: "the Tribes divine of Danu," the gods of the Irish

Turloch teora Crich: north of Tuaim Mona

Uachtur Lua: in the land of Ross

Uarba: a place in Ulster

Uathach: one of the three women-teachers of Cuchulain and Ferdiad

Uathu: north of Ochain

Ui Echach: the barony of Iveagh, in the County Down

Umansruth: a stream in Murthemne

Usnech: father of Noisi, Annle and Ardan

Uthechar: father of Celtchar and of Menn

       *       *       *       *       *

_Printed by_ BUTLER & TANNER, _Frome and London_

       *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge" ***

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