E-text prepared by Nicole Apostola
THE CATTLE-RAID OF CUALNGE (TAIN BO CUAILNGE)
An Old Irish Prose-Epic
Translated for the first time from Leabhar na h-Uidhri and the Yellow Book of Lecan by
L. WINIFRED FARADAY, M. A.
Published by David Nutt At the Sign of the Phoenix Long Acre
INTRODUCTION THE CATTLE-RAID OF CUALNGE (from Leabhar na h-Uidhri) Cuchulainn's Boyish Deeds The Death of Fraech The Death of Orlam The Death of the Meic Garach The Death of the Squirrel The Death of Lethan The Death of Lochu The Harrying of Cualnge (first version) The Harrying of Cualnge (second version) Mac Roth's Embassy The Death of Etarcomol The Death of Nadcrantail The Finding of the Bull The Death of Redg The Meeting of Cuchulainn and Findabair The Combat of Munremar and Curoi The Death of the Boys (first version) The Woman-fight of Rochad The Death of the Princes The Death of Cur The Number of the Feats The Death of Ferbaeth The Combat of Larine Mac Nois The Conversation of the Morrigan with Cuchulainn The Death of Long Mac Emonis The Healing of the Morrigan The Coming of Lug Mac Ethlend The Death of the Boys (second version) The Arming of Cuchulainn CONTINUATION (from the Yellow Book of Lecan) The Combat of Fer Diad and Cuchulainn The Long Warning of Sualtaim The Muster of the Ulstermen The Vision of Dubthach The March of the Companies The Muster of the Men of Ireland The Battle on Garach and Irgarach The Meeting of the Bulls The Peace
The Cattle-Raid of Cualnge [Note: Pronounce Cooley] is the chief story belonging to the heroic cycle of Ulster, which had its centre in the deeds of the Ulster king, Conchobar Mac Nessa, and his nephew and chief warrior, Cuchulainn Mac Sualtaim. Tradition places their date at the beginning of the Christian era.
The events leading up to this tale, the most famous of Irish mythical stories, may be shortly summarised here from the Book of Leinster introduction to the Tain, and from the other tales belonging to the Ulster cycle.
It is elsewhere narrated that the Dun Bull of Cualnge, for whose sake Ailill and Medb [Note: Pronounce Maive.], the king and queen of Connaught, undertook this expedition, was one of two bulls in whom two rival swineherds, belonging to the supernatural race known as the people of the Sid, or fairy-mounds, were re-incarnated, after passing through various other forms. The other bull, Findbennach, the White-horned, was in the herd of Medb at Cruachan Ai, the Connaught capital, but left it to join Ailill's herd. This caused Ailill's possessions to exceed Medb's, and to equalise matters she determined to secure the great Dun Bull, who alone equalled the White-horned. An embassy to the owner of the Dun Bull failed, and Ailill and Medb therefore began preparations for an invasion of Ulster, in which province (then ruled by Conchobar Mac Nessa) Cualnge was situated. A number of smaller Tana, or cattle-raids, prefatory to the great Tain Bo Cuailnge, relate some of their efforts to procure allies and provisions.
Medb chose for the expedition the time when Conchobar and all the warriors of Ulster, except Cuchulainn and Sualtaim, were at their capital, Emain Macha, in a sickness which fell on them periodically, making them powerless for action; another story relates the cause of this sickness, the effect of a curse laid on them by a fairy woman. Ulster was therefore defended only by the seventeen-year-old Cuchulainn, for Sualtaim's appearance is only spasmodic. Cuchulainn (Culann's Hound) was the son of Dechtire, the king's sister, his father being, in different accounts, either Sualtaim, an Ulster warrior; Lug Mac Ethlend, one of the divine heroes from the Sid, or fairy-mound; or Conchobar himself. The two former both appear as Cuchulainn's father in the present narrative. Cuchulainn is accompanied, throughout the adventures here told, by his charioteer, Loeg Mac Riangabra.
In Medb's force were several Ulster heroes, including Cormac Condlongas, son of Conchobar, Conall Cernach, Dubthach Doeltenga, Fiacha Mac Firfebe, and Fergus Mac Roich. These were exiled from Ulster through a bitter quarrel with Conchobar, who had caused the betrayal and murder of the sons of Uisnech, when they had come to Ulster under the sworn protection of Fergus, as told in the Exile of the Sons of Uisnech. [Note: 1 Text in Windisch and Stokes's Irische Texte; English translation in Miss Hull's Cuchullin Saga.] The Ulster mischief-maker, Bricriu of the Poison-tongue, was also with the Connaught army. Though fighting for Connaught, the exiles have a friendly feeling for their former comrades, and a keen jealousy for the credit of Ulster. There is a constant interchange of courtesies between them and their old pupil, Cuchulainn, whom they do not scruple to exhort to fresh efforts for Ulster's honour. An equally half-hearted warrior is Lugaid Mac Nois, king of Munster, who was bound in friendship to the Ulstermen.
Other characters who play an important part in the story are Findabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, who is held out as a bribe to various heroes to induce them to fight Cuchulainn, and is on one occasion offered to the latter in fraud on condition that he will give up his opposition to the host; and the war-goddess, variously styled the Nemain, the Badb (scald-crow), and the Morrigan (great queen), who takes part against Cuchulainn in one of his chief fights. Findabair is the bait which induces several old comrades of Cuchulainn's, who had been his fellow-pupils under the sorceress Scathach, to fight him in single combat.
The tale may be divided into:—
1. Introduction: Fedelm's prophecy.
2. Cuchulainn's first feats against the host, and the several geis, or taboos, which he lays on them.
3. The narration of Cuchulainn's boyish deeds, by the Ulster exiles to the Connaught host.
4. Cuchulainn's harassing of the host.
5. The bargain and series of single combats, interrupted by breaches of the agreement on the part of Connaught.
6. The visit of Lug Mac Ethlend.
7. The fight with Fer Diad.
8. The end: the muster of the Ulstermen.
The Tain Bo Cuailnge survives, in whole or in part, in a considerable number of MSS., most of which are, however, late. The most important are three in number:—
(1) Leabhar na h-Uidhri (LU), 'The Book of the Dun Cow,' a MS. dating from about 1100. The version here given is an old one, though with some late additions, in later language. The chief of these are the piece coming between the death of the herd Forgemen and the fight with Cur Mac Dalath (including Cuchulainn's meeting with Findabair, and the 'womanfight' of Rochad), and the whole of what follows the Healing of the Morrigan. The tale is, like others in this MS., unfinished, the MS. being imperfect.
(2) The Yellow Book of Lecan (YBL), a late fourteenth-century MS. The Tain in this is substantially the same as in LU. The beginning is missing, but the end is given. Some of the late additions of LU are not found here; and YBL, late as it is, often gives an older and better text than the earlier MS.
(3) The Book of Leinster (LL), before 1160. The Tain here is longer, fuller, and later in both style and language than in LU or YBL. It is essentially a literary attempt to give a complete and consistent narrative, and is much less interesting than the older LU-YBL recension.
In the present version, I have collated LU, as far as it goes, with YBL, adding from the latter the concluding parts of the story, from the Fight with Fer Diad to the end. After the Fight with Fer Diad, YBL breaks off abruptly, leaving nearly a page blank; then follow several pages containing lists, alternative versions of some episodes given in LU (Rochad's Woman-fight, the Warning to Conchobar), and one or two episodes which are narrated in LL. I omit about one page, where the narrative is broken and confused.
The pages which follow the Healing of the Morrigan in LU are altogether different in style from the rest of the story as told in LU, and are out of keeping with its simplicity. This whole portion is in the later manner of LL, with which, for the most part, it is in verbal agreement. Further, it is in part repetition of material already given (i.e. the coming of the boy-host of Ulster, and Cuchulainn's displaying himself to the Connaught troops).
COMPARISON OF THE VERSIONS
A German translation of the Leinster text of the Tain Bo Cuailnge will soon be accessible to all in Dr. Windisch's promised edition of the text. It is therefore unnecessary to compare the two versions in detail. Some of the main differences may be pointed out, however.
Of our three copies none is the direct ancestor of any other. LU and YBL are from a common source, though the latter MS. is from an older copy; LL is independent. The two types differ entirely in aim and method. The writers of LU and YBL aimed at accuracy; the Leinster man, at presenting an intelligible version. Hence, where the two former reproduce obscurities and corruptions, the latter omits, paraphrases, or expands. The unfortunate result is that LL rarely, if ever, helps to clear up textual obscurities in the older copy.
On the other hand, it offers explanations of certain episodes not clearly stated in LU. Thus, for example, where LU, in the story of the sons of Nechta Scene, simply mentions 'the withe that was on the pillar,' LL explains that the withe had been placed there by the sons of Nechta Scene (as Cuchulainn placed a similar with in the path of the Connaught host), with an ogam inscription forbidding any to pass without combat; hence its removal was an insult and a breach of geis. Again, the various embassies to Cuchulainn, and the terms made with him (that he should not harass the host if he were supplied daily with food, and with a champion to meet him in single combat), are more clearly described in LL.
Some of the episodes given in LU are not told in the Leinster version. Of the boyish deeds of Cuchulainn, LL tells only three: his first appearance at Emain (told by Fergus), Culann's feast (by Cormac), and the feats following Cuchulainn's taking of arms (by Fiacha). In the main narrative, the chief episodes omitted in LL are the fight with Fraech, the Fergus and Medb episode, and the meeting of Findabair and Cuchulainn. The meeting with the Morrigan is missing, owing to the loss of a leaf. Other episodes are differently placed in LL: e.g. the Rochad story (an entirely different account), the fight of Amairgen and Curoi with stones, and the warning to Conchobar, all follow the fight with Fer Diad.
A peculiarity of the LU-YBL version is the number of passages which it has in common with the Dinnsenchas, an eleventh-century compilation of place-legends. The existing collections of Dinnsenchas contain over fifty entries derived from the Tain cycle, some corresponding with, others differing from those in LU.
This version has also embodied a considerable number of glosses in the text. As many of these are common to LU and YBL, they must go back to the common original, which must therefore have been a harmony of previously existing versions, since many of these passages give variants of incidents.
AGE OF THE VERSIONS
There is no doubt that the version here translated is a very old one. The language in LU is almost uniformly Middle Irish, not more than a century earlier than the date of the MS.; thus it shows the post-thetic he, iat, etc. as object, the adverb with co, the confusion of ar and for, the extension of the b-future, etc. But YBL preserves forms as old as the Glosses:—
(1) The correct use of the infixed relative, e.g. rombith, 'with which he struck.' (LU, robith, 58a, 45.)
(2) The infixed accusative pronoun, e.g. nachndiusced, 'that he should not wake him.' (LU, nach diusced, 62a, 30.)
(3) no with a secondary tense, e.g. nolinad, 'he used to fill.' (LU, rolinad, 60b, 6.)
(4) Very frequently YBL keeps the right aspirated or non-aspirated consonant, where LU shows a general confusion, etc.
LL has no very archaic forms, though it cultivates a pseudo-archaic style; and it is unlikely that the Leinster version goes back much earlier than 1050. The latter part of the LU Tain shows that a version of the Leinster type was known to the compiler. The style of this part, with its piling-up of epithets, is that of eleventh-century narrative, as exemplified in texts like the Cath Ruis na Rig and the Cogadh Gaidhil; long strings of alliterative epithets, introduced for sound rather than sense, are characteristic of the period. The descriptions of chariots and horses in the Fer Diad episode in YBL are similar, and evidently belong to the same rescension.
The inferences from the facts noted in the foregoing sections may be stated as follows: A version of the Tain goes back to the early eighth, or seventh century, and is preserved under the YBL text; an opinion based on linguistic evidence, but coinciding with the tradition which ascribes the 'Recovery of the Tain' to Senchan Torpeist, a bard of the later seventh century. This version continued to be copied down to the eleventh century, gradually changing as the language changed. Meanwhile, varying accounts of parts of the story came into existence, and some time in the eleventh century a new redaction was made, the oldest representative of which is the LL text. Parts of this were embodied in or added to the older version; hence the interpolations in LU.
THE FER DIAD EPISODE
There is much difference between the two versions of this episode. In YBL, the introductory portion is long and full, the actual fight very short, while in LL the fight is long-drawn-out, and much more stress is laid on the pathetic aspect of the situation. Hence it is generally assumed that LL preserves an old version of the episode, and that the scribe of the Yellow Book has compressed the latter part. It is not, however, usual, in primitive story-telling, to linger over scenes of pathos. Such lingering is, like the painted tears of late Italian masters, invariably a sign of decadence. It is one of the marks of romance, which recognises tragedy only when it is voluble, and prodigal of lamentation. The older version of the Tain is throughout singularly free from pathos of the feebler sort; the humorous side is always uppermost, and the tragic suggestions interwoven with it.
But it is still a matter of question whether the whole Fer Diad episode may not be late. Professor Zimmer thinks it is; but even the greatest scholar, with a theory to prove, is not quite free. It will of course be noticed, on this side, that the chief motives of the Fer Diad episode all appear previously in other episodes (e.g. the fights with Ferbaeth and with Loch). Further, the account even in YBL is not marked by old linguistic forms as are other parts of the tale, while much of it is in the bombastic descriptive style of LL. In the condition in which we have the tale, however, this adventure is treated as the climax of the story. Its motive is to remove Cuchulainn from the field, in order to give the rest of Ulster a chance. But in the account of the final great fight in YBL, Cuchulainn's absence is said to be due to his having been wounded in a combat against odds (crechtnugud i n-ecomlund). Considering, therefore, that even in YBL the Fer Diad episode is late in language, it seems possible that it may have replaced some earlier account in which Cuchulainn was so severely wounded that he was obliged to retire from the field.
PREVIOUS WORK ON THE 'TAIN'
Up to the present time the Tain has never been either printed or translated, though the LU version has been for thirty years easily accessible in facsimile. Dr. Windisch's promised edition will shortly be out, containing the LL and LU texts, with a German translation of the former. The most useful piece of work done hitherto for the Tain is the analysis by Professor Zimmer of the LU text (conclusion from the Book of Leinster), in the fifth of his Keltische Studien (Zeitschrift fuer vergl. Sprachforschung, xxviii.). Another analysis of the story, by Mr. S. H. O'Grady, appeared in Miss Eleanor Hull's The Cuchullin Saga; it is based on a late paper MS. in the British Museum, giving substantially the same version as LL. This work contains also a map of ancient Ireland, showing the route of the Connaught forces; but a careful working-out of the topography of the Tain is much needed, many names being still unidentified. Several of the small introductory Tana have been published in Windisch and Stokes's Irische Texte; and separate episodes from the great Tain have been printed and translated from time to time. The Fight with Fer Diad (LL) was printed with translation by O'Curry in the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish. The story of the Two Swineherds, with their successive reincarnations until they became the Dun Bull and the White-horned (an introductory story to the Tain ), is edited with translation in Irische Texte, and Mr. Nutt printed an abridged English version in the Voyage of Bran.
The Leinster version seems to have been the favourite with modern workers, probably because it is complete and consistent; possibly its more sentimental style has also served to commend it.
AIM OF THIS TRANSLATION
It is perhaps unnecessary to say that the present version is intended for those who cannot read the tale in the original; it is therefore inadvisable to overload the volume with notes, variant readings, or explanations of the readings adopted, which might repel the readers to whom it is offered.
At the present time, an enthusiasm for Irish literature is not always accompanied by a knowledge of the Irish language. It seems therefore to be the translator's duty, if any true estimate of this literature is to be formed, to keep fairly close to the original, since nothing is to be gained by attributing beauties which it does not possess, while obscuring its true merits, which are not few. For the same reason, while keeping the Irish second person singular in verses and formal speech, I have in ordinary dialogue substituted the pronoun you, which suggests the colloquial style of the original better than the obsolete thou.
The so-called rhetorics are omitted in translating; they are passages known in Irish as rosc, often partly alliterative, but not measured. They are usually meaningless strings of words, with occasional intelligible phrases. In all probability the passages aimed at sound, with only a general suggestion of the drift. Any other omissions are marked where they occur; many obscure words in the long descriptive passages are of necessity left untranslated. In two places I have made slight verbal changes without altering the sense, a liberty which is very rarely necessary in Irish.
Of the headings, those printed in capitals are in the text in the MS.; those italicised are marginal. I have bracketed obvious scribal glosses which have crept into the text. Some of the marginal glosses are translated in the footnotes.
As a considerable part of the Tain is occupied by connecting episodes with place-names, an explanation of some of the commonest elements in these may be of use to those who know no Irish:
Ath=a ford; e.g. Ath Gabla (Ford of the Fork), Ath Traiged (Ford of the Foot), Ath Carpat (Ford of Chariots), Ath Fraich (Fraech's Ford), etc.
Belat=cross-roads; e.g. Belat Alioin.
Bernas=a pass, or gap; e.g. Bernas Bo Ulad or Bernas Bo Cuailnge (Pass of the Cows of Ulster, or of Cualnge).
Clithar=a shelter; e.g. Clithar Bo Ulad (shelter of the Cows of Ulster).
Cul=a corner; e.g. Cul Airthir (eastern corner).
Dun= a fort; e.g. Dun Sobairche.
Fid=a wood; e.g. Fid Mor Drualle (Great Wood of the Sword-sheath).
Glass=a brook, stream; e.g. Glass Chrau (the stream of Blood), Glass Cruind, Glass Gatlaig (gatt=a withe, laig=a calf).
Glenn=a glen; e.g. Glenn Gatt (Glen of the Withe), Glenn Firbaith (Ferbaeth's Glen), Glenn Gatlaig.
Grellach=a bog; e.g. Grellach Doluid.
Guala=a hill-shoulder; e.g. Gulo Mulchai (Mulcha's shoulder).
Loch=a lake; e.g. Loch Reoin, Loch Echtra.
Mag=a plain; e.g. Mag Ai, Mag Murthemne, Mag Breg, Mag Clochair (cloch=a stone).
Methe, explained as if from meth (death); Methe Togmaill (death of the Squirrel), Methe n-Eoin (death of the Bird).
Reid, gen. Rede=a plain; e.g. Ath Rede Locha (Ford of Locha's Plain).
Sid=a fairy mound; e.g. Sid Fraich (Fraech's Mound).
Sliab=a mountain; e.g. Sliab Fuait.
I need perhaps hardly say that many of the etymologies given in Irish sources are pure invention, stories being often made up to account for the names, the real meaning of which was unknown to the mediaeval story-teller or scribe.
In conclusion, I have to express my most sincere thanks to Professor Strachan, whose pupil I am proud to be. I have had the advantage of his wide knowledge and experience in dealing with many obscurities in the text, and he has also read the proofs. I am indebted also to Mr. E. Gwynn, who has collated at Trinity College, Dublin, a number of passages in the Yellow Book of Lecan, which are illegible or incorrect in the facsimile; and to Dr. Whitley Stokes for notes and suggestions on many obscure words.
LLANDAFF, November 1903.
THIS IS THE CATTLE-RAID OF CUALNGE
A great hosting was brought together by the Connaughtmen, that is, by Ailill and Medb; and they sent to the three other provinces. And messengers were sent by Ailill to the seven sons of Magach: Ailill, Anluan, Mocorb, Cet, En, Bascall, and Doche; a cantred with each of them. And to Cormac Condlongas Mac Conchobair with his three hundred, who was billeted in Connaught. Then they all come to Cruachan Ai.
Now Cormac had three troops which came to Cruachan. The first troop had many-coloured cloaks folded round them; hair like a mantle (?); the tunic falling(?) to the knee, and long(?) shields; and a broad grey spearhead on a slender shaft in the hand of each man.
The second troop wore dark grey cloaks, and tunics with red ornamentation down to their calves, and long hair hanging behind from their heads, and white shields (?), and five-pronged spears were in their hands.
'This is not Cormac yet,' said Medb.
Then comes the third troop; and they wore purple cloaks and hooded tunics with red ornamentation down to their feet, hair smooth to their shoulders, and round shields with engraved edges, and the pillars [Note: i.e. spears as large as pillars, etc.] of a palace in the hand of each man.
'This is Cormac now,' said Medb.
Then the four provinces of Ireland were assembled, till they were in Cruachan Ai. And their poets and their druids did not let them go thence till the end of a fortnight, for waiting for a good omen. Medb said then to her charioteer the day that they set out:
'Every one who parts here to-day from his love or his friend will curse me,' said she, 'for it is I who have gathered this hosting.'
'Wait then,' said the charioteer, 'till I turn the chariot with the sun, and till there come the power of a good omen that we may come back again.'
Then the charioteer turned the chariot, and they set forth. Then they saw a full-grown maiden before them. She had yellow hair, and a cloak of many colours, and a golden pin in it; and a hooded tunic with red embroidery. She wore two shoes with buckles of gold. Her face was narrow below and broad above. Very black were her two eyebrows; her black delicate eyelashes cast a shadow into the middle of her two cheeks. You would think it was with partaing [Note: Exact meaning unknown. It is always used in this connection.] her lips were adorned. You would think it was a shower of pearls that was in her mouth, that is, her teeth. She had three tresses: two tresses round her head above, and a tress behind, so that it struck her two thighs behind her. A shuttle [Note: Literally, a beam used for making fringe.] of white metal, with an inlaying of gold, was in her hand. Each of her two eyes had three pupils. The maiden was armed, and there were two black horses to her chariot.
'What is your name?' said Medb to the maiden.
'Fedelm, the prophetess of Connaught, is my name,' said the maiden.
'Whence do you come?' said Medb.
'From Scotland, after learning the art of prophecy,' said the maiden.
'Have you the inspiration(?) which illumines?' [Note: Ir. imbas forasnai, the name of a kind of divination.] said Medb.
'Yes, indeed,' said the maiden.
'Look for me how it will be with my hosting,' said Medb.
Then the maiden looked for it; and Medb said: 'O Fedelm the prophetess, how seest thou the host?'
Fedelm answered and said: 'I see very red, I see red.'
'That is not true,' said Medb; 'for Conchobar is in his sickness at Emain and the Ulstermen with him, with all the best [Note: Conjectural; some letters missing. For the Ulster sickness, see Introduction.] of their warriors; and my messengers have come and brought me tidings thence.
'Fedelm the prophetess, how seest thou our host?' said Medb.
'I see red,' said the maiden.
'That is not true,' said Medb; 'for Celtchar Mac Uithichair is in Dun Lethglaise, and a third of the Ulstermen with him; and Fergus, son of Roich, son of Eochaid, is here with us, in exile, and a cantred with him.
'Fedelm the prophetess, how seest thou our host?' said Medb.
'I see very red, I see red,' said the maiden.
'That matters not,' said Medb; 'for there are mutual angers, and quarrels, and wounds very red in every host and in every assembly of a great army. Look again for us then, and tell us the truth.
'Fedelm the prophetess, how seest thou our host?'
'I see very red, I see red,' said Fedelm.
'I see a fair man who will make play With a number of wounds(?) on his girdle; [Note: Unless this is an allusion to the custom of carrying an enemy's head at the girdle, the meaning is obscure. LL has quite a different reading. The language of this poem is late.] A hero's flame over his head, His forehead a meeting-place of victory.
'There are seven gems of a hero of valour In the middle of his two irises; There is —— on his cloak, He wears a red clasped tunic.
'He has a face that is noble, Which causes amazement to women. A young man who is fair of hue Comes —— [Note: Five syllables missing.]
'Like is the nature of his valour To Cuchulainn of Murthemne. I do not know whose is the Hound Of Culann, whose fame is the fairest. But I know that it is thus That the host is very red from him.
'I see a great man on the plain He gives battle to the hosts; Four little swords of feats There are in each of his two hands.
'Two Gae-bolga, he carries them, [Note: The Gae-bolga was a special kind of spear, which only Cuchulainn could use.] Besides an ivory-hilted sword and spear; —— [Note: Three syllables missing] he wields to the host; Different is the deed for which each arm goes from him.
'A man in a battle-girdle (?), of a red cloak, He puts —— every plain. He smites them, over left chariot wheel (?); The Riastartha wounds them. [Note: The Riastartha ('distorted one') was a name given to Cuchulainn because of the contortion, described later, which came over him.] The form that appeared to me on him hitherto, I see that his form has been changed.
'He has moved forward to the battle, If heed is not taken of him it will be treachery. I think it likely it is he who seeks you: Cuchulainn Mac Sualtaim.
'He will strike on whole hosts, He will make dense slaughters of you, Ye will leave with him many thousands of heads. The prophetess Fedelm conceals not.
'Blood will rain from warriors' wounds At the hand of a warrior—'twill be full harm. He will slay warriors, men will wander Of the descendants of Deda Mac Sin. Corpses will be cut off, women will lament Through the Hound of the Smith that I see.'
The Monday after Samain [Note: Samain, 'summer-end,' about the beginning of November.] they set forth, and this is the way they took: south-east from Cruachan Ai, i.e. by Muicc Cruimb, by Teloch Teora Crich, by Tuaim Mona, by Cul Sibrinne, by Fid, by Bolga, by Coltain, by Glune-gabair, by Mag Trego, by North Tethba, by South Tethba, by Tiarthechta, by Ord, by Slais southwards, by Indiuind, by Carnd, by Ochtrach, by Midi, by Findglassa Assail, by Deilt, by Delind, by Sailig, by Slaibre, by Slechta Selgatar, by Cul Sibrinne, by Ochaind southwards, by Uatu northwards, by Dub, by Comur southwards, by Tromma, by Othromma eastwards, by Slane, by Gortslane, by Druim Licce southwards, by Ath Gabla, by Ard Achad, by Feraind northwards, by Findabair, by Assi southwards, by Druim Salfind, by Druim Cain, by Druim Mac n-Dega, by Eodond Mor, by Eodond Bec, by Methe Togmaill, by Methe Eoin, by Druim Caemtechta, by Scuaip, by Imscuaip, by Cend Ferna, by Baile, by Aile, by Bail Scena, by Dail Scena, by Fertse, by Ross Lochad, by Sale, by Lochmach, by Anmag, by Deind, by Deilt, by Dubglaiss, by Fid Mor, by Colbtha, by Cronn, to Cualnge.
From Findabair Cuailnge, it is thence the hosts of Ireland were divided over the province to seek the Bull. For it is past these places that they came, till they reached Findabair.
(Here ends the title; and the story begins as follows:—
THIS IS THE STORY IN ORDER
When they had come on their first journey from Cruachan as far as Cul Sibrinne, Medb told her charioteer to get ready her nine chariots for her, that she might make a circuit in the camp, to see who disliked and who liked the expedition.
Now his tent was pitched for Ailill, and the furniture was arranged, both beds and coverings. Fergus Mac Roich in his tent was next to Ailill; Cormac Condlongas Mac Conchobair beside him; Conall Cernach by him; Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe, the son of Conchobar's daughter, by him. Medb, daughter of Eochaid Fedlech, was on Ailill's other side; next to her, Findabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb. That was besides servants and attendants.
Medb came, after looking at the host, and she said it were folly for the rest to go on the hosting, if the cantred of the Leinstermen went.
'Why do you blame the men?' said Ailill.
'We do not blame them,' said Medb; 'splendid are the warriors. When the rest were making their huts, they had finished thatching their huts and cooking their food; when the rest were at dinner, they had finished dinner, and their harpers were playing to them. It is folly for them to go,' said Medb; 'it is to their credit the victory of the hosts will be.'
'It is for us they fight,' said Ailill.
'They shall not come with us,' said Medb.
'Let them stay then,' said Ailill.
'They shall not stay,' said Medb. 'They will come on us after we have gone,' said she, 'and seize our land against us.'
'What is to be done to them?' said Ailill; 'will you have them neither stay nor go?'
'To kill them,' said Medb.
'We will not hide that this is a woman's plan,' said Ailill; 'what you say is not good!'
'With this folk,' said Fergus, 'it shall not happen thus (for it is a folk bound by ties to us Ulstermen), unless we are all killed.'
'Even that we could do,' said Medb; 'for I am here with my retinue of two cantreds,' said she, 'and there are the seven Manes, that is, my seven sons, with seven cantreds; their luck can protect them,' (?) said she; 'that is Mane-Mathramail, and Mane-Athramail, and Mane-Morgor, and Mane-Mingor, and Mane-Moepert (and he is Mane-Milscothach), Mane-Andoe, and Mane-who-got-everything: he got the form of his mother and of his father, and the dignity of both.'
'It would not be so,' said Fergus. 'There are seven kings of Munster here, and a cantred with each of them, in friendship with us Ulstermen. I will give battle to you,' said Fergus, 'in the middle of the host in which we are, with these seven cantreds, and with my own cantred, and with the cantred of the Leinstermen. But I will not urge that,' said Fergus, 'we will provide for the warriors otherwise, so that they shall not prevail over the host. Seventeen cantreds for us,' said Fergus, 'that is the number of our army, besides our rabble, and our women (for with each king there is his queen, in Medb's company), and besides our striplings. This is the eighteenth cantred, the cantred of the Leinstermen. Let them be distributed among the rest of the host.'
'I do not care,' said Medb, 'provided they are not gathered as they are.'
Then this was done; the Leinstermen were distributed among the host.
They set out next morning to Moin Choiltrae, where eight score deer fell in with them in one herd. They surrounded them and killed them then; wherever there was a man of the Leinstermen, it was he who got them, except five deer that all the rest of the host got. Then they came to Mag Trego, and stopped there and prepared their food. They say that it is there that Dubthach sang this song:
'Grant what you have not heard hitherto, Listening to the fight of Dubthach. A hosting very black is before you, Against Findbend of the wife of Ailill. [Note: Findbennach, the Whitehorned; i.e. the other of the two bulls in whom the rival swineherds were reincarnated.]
'The man of expeditions will come Who will defend (?) Murthemne. Ravens will drink milk of —— [Note: Some kenning for blood?] From the friendship of the swineherds.
'The turfy Cronn will resist them; [Note: i.e. the river Cronn. This line is a corruption of a reference which occurs later, in the account of the flooding of the Cronn, as Professor Strachan first pointed out to me.] He will not let them into Murthemne Until the work of warriors is over In Sliab Tuad Ochaine.
'"Quickly," said Ailill to Cormac, "Go that you may —— your son. The cattle do not come from the fields That the din of the host may not terrify them(?).
'"This will be a battle in its time For Medb with a third of the host. There will be flesh of men therefrom If the Riastartha comes to you."'
Then the Nemain attacked them, and that was not the quietest of nights for them, with the uproar of the churl (i.e. Dubthach) through their sleep. The host started up at once, and a great number of the host were in confusion, till Medb came to reprove him.
Then they went and spent the night in Granard Tethba Tuascirt, after the host had been led astray over bogs and over streams. A warning was sent from Fergus to the Ulstermen here, for friendship. They were now in the weakness, except Cuchulainn and his father Sualtaim.
Cuchulainn and his father went, after the coming of the warning from Fergus, till they were in Iraird Cuillend, watching the host there.
'I think of the host to-night,' said Cuchulainn to his father. 'Go from us with a warning to the Ulstermen. I am forced to go to a tryst with Fedelm Noichride, [Note: Gloss incorporated in the text: that is, with her servant,' etc.] from my own pledge that went out to her.'
He made a spancel-withe [This was a twig twisted in the form of two rings, joined by one straight piece, as used for hobbling horses and cattle.] then before he went, and wrote an ogam on its ——, and threw it on the top of the pillar.
The leadership of the way before the army was given to Fergus. Then Fergus went far astray to the south, till Ulster should have completed the collection of an army; he did this for friendship. Ailill and Medb perceived it; it was then Medb said:
'O Fergus, this is strange, What kind of way do we go? Straying south or north We go over every other folk.
'Ailill of Ai with his hosting Fears that you will betray them. You have not given your mind hitherto To the leading of the way.
'If it is in friendship that you do it, Do not lead the horses Peradventure another may be found To lead the way.'
'O Medb, what troubles you? This is not like treachery. It belongs to the Ulstermen, O woman, The land across which I am leading you.
'It is not for the disadvantage of the host That I go on each wandering in its turn; It is to avoid the great man Who protects Mag Murthemne.
'Not that my mind is not distressed On account of the straying on which I go, But if perchance I may avoid even afterwards Cuchulainn Mac Sualtaim.'
Then they went till they were in Iraird Cuillend. Eirr and Indell, Foich and Foclam (their two charioteers), the four sons of Iraird Mac Anchinne, [Marginal gloss: 'or the four sons of Nera Mac Nuado Mac Taccain, as it is found in other books.'] it is they who were before the host, to protect their brooches and their cushions and their cloaks, that the dust of the host might not soil them. They found the withe that Cuchulainn threw, and perceived the grazing that the horses had grazed. For Sualtaim's two horses had eaten the grass with its roots from the earth; Cuchulainn's two horses had licked the earth as far as the stones beneath the grass. They sit down then, until the host came, and the musicians play to them. They give the withe into the hands of Fergus Mac Roich; he read the ogam that was on it.
When Medb came, she asked, 'Why are you waiting here?'
'We wait,' said Fergus,' because of the withe yonder. There is an ogam on its ——, and this is what is in it: "Let no one go past till a man is found to throw a like withe with his one hand, and let it be one twig of which it is made; and I except my friend Fergus." Truly,' said Fergus, 'Cuchulainn has thrown it, and they are his horses that grazed the plain.'
And he put it in the hands of the druids; and Fergus sang this song:
'Here is a withe, what does the withe declare to us? What is its mystery? What number threw it? Few or many?
'Will it cause injury to the host, If they go a journey from it? Find out, ye druids, something therefore For what the withe has been left.
'—— of heroes the hero who has thrown it, Full misfortune on warriors; A delay of princes, wrathful is the matter, One man has thrown it with one hand.
'Is not the king's host at the will of him, Unless it breaks fair play? Until one man only of you Throw it, as one man has thrown it. I do not know anything save that For which the withe should have been put. Here is a withe.'
Then Fergus said to them: 'If you outrage this withe,' said he, 'or if you go past it, though he be in the custody of a man, or in a house under a lock, the —— of the man who wrote the ogam on it will reach him, and will slay a goodly slaughter of you before morning, unless one of you throw a like withe.'
'It does not please us, indeed, that one of us should be slain at once,' said Ailill. 'We will go by the neck of the great wood yonder, south of us, and we will not go over it at all.'
The troops hewed down then the wood before the chariots. This is the name of that place, Slechta. It is there that Partraige is. (According to others, the conversation between Medb and Fedelm the prophetess took place there, as we told before; and then it is after the answer she gave to Medb that the wood was cut down; i.e. 'Look for me,' said Medb, 'how my hosting will be.' 'It is difficult to me,' said the maiden; 'I cannot cast my eye over them in the wood.' 'It is ploughland (?) there shall be,' said Medb; 'we will cut down the wood.' Then this was done, so that Slechta was the name of the place.)
They spent the night then in Cul Sibrille; a great snowstorm fell on them, to the girdles of the men and the wheels of the chariots. The rising was early next morning. And it was not the most peaceful of nights for them, with the snow; and they had not prepared food that night. But it was not early when Cuchulainn came from his tryst; he waited to wash and bathe.
Then he came on the track of the host. 'Would that we had not gone there,' said Cuchulainn, 'nor betrayed the Ulstermen; we have let the host go to them unawares. Make us an estimation of the host,' said Cuchulainn to Loeg, 'that we may know the number of the host.'
Loeg did this, and said to Cuchulainn: 'I am confused,' said he, 'I cannot attain this.'
'It would not be confusion that I see, if only I come,' said
'Get into the chariot then,' said Loeg.
Cuchulainn got into the chariot, and put a reckoning over the host for a long time.
'Even you,' said Loeg, 'you do not find it easy.'
'It is easier indeed to me than to you,' said Cuchulainn; 'for I have three gifts, the gifts of eye, and of mind, and of reckoning. I have put a reckoning [Marginal gloss: 'This is one of the three severest and most difficult reckonings made in Ireland; i.e. Cuchulainn's reckoning of the men of Ireland on the Tain; and ug's reckoning of the Fomorian hosts at the battle of Mag Tured; and Ingcel's reckoning of the hosts at the Bruiden Da Derga.'] on this,' said he; 'there are eighteen cantreds,' said he, 'for their number; only that the eighteenth cantred is distributed among all the host, so that their number is not clear; that is, the cantred of the Leinstermen.'
Then Cuchulainn went round the host till he was at Ath Gabla. [Note: LU has Ath Grena.] He cuts a fork [Note: i.e. fork of a tree.] there with one blow of his sword, and put it on the middle of the stream, so that a chariot could not pass it on this side or that. Eirr and Indell, Foich and Fochlam (their two charioteers) came upon him thereat. He strikes their four heads off, and throws them on to the four points of the fork. Hence is Ath Gabla.
Then the horses of the four went to meet the host, and their cushions very red on them. They supposed it was a battalion that was before them at the ford. A troop went from them to look at the ford; they saw nothing there but the track of one chariot and the fork with the four heads, and a name in ogam written on the side. All the host came then.
'Are the heads yonder from our people?' said Medb.
'They are from our people and from our choice warriors,' said Ailill.
One of them read the ogam that was on the side of the fork; that is: 'A man has thrown the fork with his one hand; and you shall not go past it till one of you, except Fergus, has thrown it with one hand.'
'It is a marvel,' said Ailill, 'the quickness with which the four were struck.'
It was not that that was a marvel,' said Fergus; 'it was the striking of the fork from the trunk with one blow; and if the end was [cut] with one blow, [Note: Lit. 'if its end was one cutting.'] it is the fairer for it, and that it was thrust in in this manner; for it is not a hole that has been dug for it, but it is from the back of the chariot it has been thrown with one hand.'
'Avert this strait from us, O Fergus,' said Medb.
Bring me a chariot then,' said Fergus, 'that I may take it out, that you may see whether its end was hewn with one blow.' Fergus broke then fourteen chariots of his chariots, so that it was from his own chariot that he took it out of the ground, and he saw that the end was hewn with one blow.
'Heed must be taken to the character of the tribe to which we are going,' said Ailill. 'Let each of you prepare his food; you had no rest last night for the snow. And something shall be told to us of the adventures and stories of the tribe to which we are going.'
It is then that the adventures of Cuchulainn were related to them. Ailill asked: 'Is it Conchobar who has done this?'
'Not he,' said Fergus; 'he would not have come to the border of the country without the number of a battalion round him.'
'Was it Celtchar Mac Uithidir?'
'Not he; he would not have come to the border of the country without the number of a battalion round him.'
'Was it Eogan Mac Durtacht?'
'Not he,' said Fergus; 'he would not have come over the border of the country without thirty chariots two-pointed (?) round him. This is the man who would have done the deed,' said Fergus, 'Cuchulainn; it is he who would have cut the tree at one blow from the trunk, and who would have killed the four yonder as quickly as they were killed, and who would have come to the boundary with his charioteer.'
'What kind of man,' said Ailill, 'is this Hound of whom we have heard among the Ulstermen? What age is this youth who is famous?'
'An easy question, truly,' said Fergus. 'In his fifth year he went to the boys at Emain Macha to play; in his sixth year he went to learn arms and feats with Scathach. In his seventh year he took arms. He is now seventeen years old at this time.'
'Is it he who is hardest to deal with among the Ulstermen?' said Medb.
'Over every one of them,' said Fergus. 'You will not find before you a warrior who is harder to deal with, nor a point that is sharper or keener or swifter, nor a hero who is fiercer, nor a raven that is more flesh-loving, nor a match of his age that can equal him as far as a third; nor a lion that is fiercer, nor a fence(?) of battle, nor a hammer of destruction, nor a door of battle, nor judgment on hosts, nor preventing of a great host that is more worthy. You will not find there a man who would reach his age, and his growth, and his dress, and his terror, his speech, his splendour, his fame, his voice, his form, his power, his hardness, his accomplishment, his valour, his striking, his rage, his anger, his victory, his doom-giving, his violence, his estimation, his hero-triumph, his speed, his pride, his madness, with the feat of nine men on every point, like Cuchulainn!'
'I don't care for that,' said Medb; 'he is in one body; he endures wounding; he is not above capturing. Therewith his age is that of a grown-up girl, and his manly deeds have not come yet.'
'Not so,' said Fergus. 'It would be no wonder if he were to do a good deed to-day; for even when he was younger his deeds were manly.'
HERE ARE HIS BOYISH DEEDS
'He was brought up,' said Fergus, 'by his mother and father at the —— in Mag Murthemne. The stories of the boys in Emain were related to him; for there are three fifties of boys there,' said Fergus, 'at play. It is thus that Conchobar enjoys his sovereignty: a third of the day watching the boys; another third playing chess; [Note: Fidchill, usually so translated, but the exact nature of the game is uncertain.] another third drinking beer till sleep seizes him therefrom. Although we are in exile, there is not in Ireland a warrior who is more wonderful,' said Fergus.
'Cuchulainn asked his mother then to let him go to the boys.
'"You shall not go," said his mother, "until you have company of warriors."
'"I deem it too long to wait for it," said Cuchulainn. "Show me on which side Emain is."
'"Northwards so," said his mother; "and the journey is hard," said she, "Sliab Fuait is between you."
'"I will find it out," said Cuchulainn.
'He goes forth then, and his shield of lath with him, and his toy-spear, and his playing-club, and his ball. He kept throwing his staff before him, so that he took it by the point before the end fell on the ground.
'He goes then to the boys without binding them to protect him. For no one used to go to them in their play-field till his protection was guaranteed. He did not know this.
'"The boy insults us," said Follomon Mac Conchobair, "besides we know he is of the Ulstermen. ... Throw at him!"
'They throw their three fifties of toy-spears at him, and they all remained standing in his shield of lath. Then they throw all the balls at him; and he takes them, each single ball, in his bosom. Then they throw their three fifties of hurling-clubs at him; he warded them off so that they did not touch him, and he took a bundle of them on his back. Then contortion seized him. You would have thought that it was a hammering wherewith each little hair had been driven into his head, with the arising with which he arose. You would have thought there was a spark of fire on every single hair. He shut one of his eyes so that it was not wider than the eye of a needle. He opened the other so that it was as large as the mouth of a meadcup. He laid bare from his jawbone to his ear; he opened his mouth to his jaw [Note: Conjectured from the later description of Cuchulainn's distortion.] so that his gullet was visible. The hero's light rose from his head. Then he strikes at the boys. He overthrows fifty of them before they reached the door of Emain. Nine of them came over me and Conchobar as we were playing chess. Then he springs over the chessboard after the nine. Conchobar caught his elbow.
'"The boys are not well treated," said Conchobar.
'"Lawful for me, O friend Conchobar," said he. "I came to them from my home to play, from my mother and father; and they have not been good to me."
'"What is your name?" said Conchobar.
'"Setanta Mac Sualtaim am I," said he, "and the son of Dechtere, your sister. It was not fitting to hurt me here."
'"Why were the boys not bound to protect you?" said Conchobar.
'"I did not know this," said Cuchulainn. "Undertake my protection against them then."
'"I recognise it," said Conchobar.
'Then he turned aside on [Note: i.e. to attack them.] the boys throughout the house.
'"What ails you at them now?" said Conchobar.
'"That I may be bound to protect them," said Cuchulainn.
'"Undertake it," said Conchobar.
'"I recognise it," said Cuchulainn.
'Then they all went into the play-field, and those boys who had been struck down there arose. Their foster-mothers and foster-fathers helped them.
'Once,' said Fergus, 'when he was a youth, he used not to sleep in Emain Macha till morning.
'"Tell me," said Conchobar to him, "why you do not sleep?"
'"I do not do it," said Cuchulainn, "unless it is equally high at my head and my feet."
'Then a stone pillar was put by Conchobar at his head, and another at his feet, and a bed was made for him separately between them.
'Another time a certain man went to awaken him, and he struck him with his fist in his forehead, so that it took the front of his forehead on to the brain, and so that he overthrew the pillar with his arm.'
'It is known,' said Ailill, 'that it was the fist of a warrior and that it was the arm of a hero.'
'From that time,' said Fergus, 'no one dared to waken him till he awoke of himself.
'Another time he was playing ball in the play-field east of Emain; he alone apart against the three fifties of boys; he used to defeat them in every game in this way always. The boys lay hold of him therewith, and he plied his fist upon them until fifty of them were killed. He took to flight then, till he was under the pillow of Conchobar's bed. All the Ulstermen rise round him, and I rise, and Conchobar himself. Then he rose under the bed, and put the bed from him, with the thirty heroes who were on it, till it was in the middle of the house. The Ulstermen sit round him in the house. We arrange and make peace then,' said Fergus, 'between the boys and him.
'There was contention between Ulster and Eogan Mac Durtacht. The Ulstermen went to the battle. He was left asleep. The Ulstermen were defeated. Conchobar was left [on the field], and Cuscraid Mend Macha, and many more beside. Their lament awoke Cuchulainn. He stretched himself then, so that the two stones that were about him broke; in the presence of Bricriu yonder it was done,' said Fergus. 'Then he arose. I met him in the door of the fort, and I wounded.
'"Alas! God save you, friend Fergus," said he, "where is Conchobar?"
'"I do not know," said I.
'Then he went forth. The night was dark. He made for the battlefield. He saw a man before him, with half his head on, and half of another man on his back.
'"Help me, O Cuchulainn," said he; "I have been wounded and I have brought half of my brother on my back. Carry it for me a while."
'"I will not carry it," said he.
'Then he throws the burden to him; he throws it from him; they wrestle; Cuchulainn was overthrown. I heard something, the Badb from the corpses: "Ill the stuff of a hero that is under the feet of a phantom." Then Cuchulainn rose against him, and strikes his head off with his playing-club, and begins to drive his ball before him across the plain.
'"Is my friend Conchobar in this battlefield?"
'He answered him. He goes to him, till he sees him in the trench, and there was the earth round him on every side to hide him.
'"Why have you come into the battlefield," said Conchobar, "that you may swoon there?"
'He lifts him out of the trench then; six of the strong men of Ulster with us would not have brought him out more bravely.
'"Go before us to the house yonder," said Conchobar; "if a roast pig came to me, I should live."
'"I will go and bring it," said Cuchulainn.
'He goes then, and saw a man at a cooking-hearth in the middle of the wood; one of his two hands had his weapons in it, the other was cooking the pig.
'The hideousness of the man was great; nevertheless he attacked him and took his head and his pig with him. Conchobar ate the pig then.
'"Let us go to our house," said Conchobar.
'They met Cuscraid Mac Conchobair. There were sure wounds on him; Cuchulainn took him on his back. The three of them went then to Emain Macha.
'Another time the Ulstermen were in their weakness. There was not among us,' said Fergus, 'weakness on women and boys, nor on any one who was outside the country of the Ulstermen, nor on Cuchulainn and his father. And so no one dared to shed their blood; for the suffering springs on him who wounds them. [Gloss incorporated in text: 'or their decay, or their shortness of life.']
'Three times nine men came to us from the Isles of Faiche. They went over our back court when we were in our weakness. The women screamed in the court. The boys were in the play-field; they come at the cries. When the boys saw the dark, black men, they all take to flight except Cuchulainn alone. He plies hand-stones and his playing-club on them. He kills nine of them, and they leave fifty wounds on him, and they go forth besides. A man who did these deeds when his five years were not full, it would be no wonder that he should have come to the edge of the boundary and that he should have cut off the heads of yonder four.'
'We know him indeed, this boy,' said Conall Cernach, 'and we know him none the worse that he is a fosterling of ours. It was not long after the deed that Fcrgus has just related, when he did another deed. When Culann the smith served a feast to Conchobar, Culann said that it was not a multitude that should be brought to him, for the preparation which he had made was not from land or country, but from the fruit of his two hands and his pincers. Then Conchobar went, and fifty chariots with him, of those who were noblest and most eminent of the heroes. Now Conchobar visited then his play-field. It was always his custom to visit and revisit them at going and coming, to seek a greeting of the boys. He saw then Cuchulainn driving his ball against the three fifties of boys, and he gets the victory over them. When it was hole-driving that they did, he filled the hole with his balls and they could not ward him off. When they were all throwing into the hole, he warded them off alone, so that not a single ball would go in it. When it was wrestling they were doing, he overthrew the three fifties of boys by himself, and there did not meet round him a number that could overthrow him. When it was stripping that they did, he stripped them all so that they were quite naked, and they could not take from him even his brooch out of his cloak.
'Conchobar thought this wonderful. He said "Would he bring his deeds to completion, provided the age of manhood came to them?" Every one said: "He would bring them to completion." Conchobar said to Cuchulainn: "Come with me," said he, "to the feast to which we are going, because you are a guest."
'"I have not had enough of play yet, O friend Conchobar," said the boy; "I will come after you."
'When they had all come to the feast, Culann said to Conchobar: "Do you expect any one to follow you?" said he.
'"No," said Conchobar. He did not remember the appointment with his foster-son who was following him.
'"I'll have a watch-dog," said Culann; "there are three chains on him, and three men to each chain. [Gloss incorporated in text: 'He was brought from Spain.'] Let him be let slip because of our cattle and stock, and let the court be shut."
'Then the boy comes. The dog attacks him. He went on with his play still: he threw his ball, and threw his club after it, so that it struck the ball. One stroke was not greater than another; and he threw his toy-spear after them, and he caught it before falling; and it did not hinder his play, though the dog was approaching him. Conchobar and his retinue —— this, so that they could not move; they thought they would not find him alive when they came, even though the court were open. Now when the dog came to him, he threw away his ball and his club, and seized the dog with his two hands; that is, he put one of his hands to the apple of the dog's throat; and he put the other at its back; he struck it against the pillar that was beside him, so that every limb sprang apart. (According to another, it was his ball that he threw into its mouth, and brought out its entrails through it.)
'The Ulstermen went towards him, some over the wall, others over the doors of the court. They put him on Conchobar's knee. A great clamour arose among them, that the king's sister's son should have been almost killed. Then Culann comes into the house.
'"Welcome, boy, for the sake of your mother. Would that I had not prepared a feast! My life is a life lost, and my husbandry is a husbandry without, without my dog. He had kept honour and life for me," said he, "the man of my household who has been taken from me, that is, my dog. He was defence and protection to our property and our cattle; he was the protection of every beast to us, both field and house."
'"It is not a great matter," said the boy; "a whelp of the same litter shall be raised for you by me, and I will be a dog for the defence of your cattle and for your own defence now, until that dog grows, and until he is capable of action; and I will defend Mag Murthemne, so that there shall not be taken away from me cattle nor herd, unless I have ——."
'"Then your name shall be Cu-chulainn," said Cathbad.
'"I am content that it may be my name," said Cuchulainn.
'A man who did this in his seventh year, it would be no wonder that he should have done a great deed now when his seventeen years are completed,' said Conall Cernach.
'He did another exploit,' said Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe. 'Cathbad the Druid was with his son, Conchobar Mac Nessa. A hundred active men were with him, learning magic from him. That is the number that Cathbad used to teach. A certain one of his pupils asked of him for what this day would be good. Cathbad said a warrior should take arms therein whose name should be over Ireland for ever, for deed of valour, and his fame should continue for ever. Cuchulainn heard this. He comes to Conchobar to ask for arms. Conchobar said, "Who has instructed you?"
'"My friend Cathbad," said Cuchulainn.
'"We know indeed," said Conchobar.
'He gave him spear and shield. He brandished them in the middle of the house, so that nothing remained of the fifteen sets of armour that were in store in Conchobar's household against the breaking of weapons or taking of arms by any one. Conchobar's own armour was given to him. That withstood him, and he brandished it, and blessed the king whose armour it was, and said, "Blessing to the people and race to whom is king the man whose armour that is."
'Then Cathbad came to them, and said: "Has the boy taken arms?" said Cathbad.
'"Yes," said Conchobar.
'"This is not lucky for the son of his mother," said he.
'"What, is it not you advised it?" said Conchobar.
'"Not I, surely," said Cathbad.
'"What advantage to you to deceive me, wild boy?" said Conchobar to Cuchulainn.
'"O king of heroes, it is no trick," said Cuchulainn; "it is he who taught it to his pupils this morning; and I heard him, south of Emain, and I came to you then."
'"The day is good thus," said Cathbad; "it is certain he will be famous and renowned, who shall take arms therein; but he will be short-lived only."
'"A wonder of might," said Cuchulainn; "provided I be famous, I am content though I were but one day in the world."
'Another day a certain man asked the druids what it is for which that day was good.
'"Whoever shall go into a chariot therein," said Cathbad, "his name shall be over Ireland for ever."
'Then Cuchulainn heard this; he comes to Conchobar and said to him: "O friend Conchobar," said he, "give me a chariot." He gave him a chariot. He put his hand between the two poles [Note: The fertais were poles sticking out behind the chariot, as the account of the wild deer, later, shows.] of the chariot, so that the chariot broke. He broke twelve chariots in this way. Then Conchobar's chariot was given to him. This withstood him. He goes then in the chariot, and Conchobar's charioteer with him. The charioteer (Ibor was his name) turned the chariot under him. "Come out of the chariot now," said the charioteer.
'"The horses are fine, and I am fine, their little lad," said Cuchulainn. "Go forward round Emain only, and you shall have a reward for it."
'So the charioteer goes, and Cuchulainn forced him then that he should go on the road to greet the boys "and that the boys might bless me."
'He begged him to go on the way again. When they come, Cuchulainn said to the charioteer: "Ply the goad on the horses," said he.
'"In what direction?" said the charioteer.
'"As long as the road shall lead us," said Cuchulainn.
'They come thence to Sliab Fuait, and find Conall Cernach there. It fell to Conall that day to guard the province; for every hero of Ulster was in Sliab Fuait in turn, to protect any one who should come with poetry, or to fight against a man; so that it should be there that there should be some one to encounter him, that no one should go to Emain unperceived.
'"May that be for prosperity," said Conall; "may it be for victory and triumph."
'"Go to the fort, O Conall, and leave me to watch here now," said Cuchulainn.
'"It will be enough," said Conall, "if it is to protect any one with poetry; if it is to fight against a man, it is early for you yet."
'"Perhaps it may not be necessary at all," said Cuchulainn. "Let us go meanwhile," said Cuchulainn, "to look upon the edge of Loch Echtra. Heroes are wont to abide there."
'"I am content," said Conall.
'Then they go thence. He throws a stone from his sling, so that a pole of Conall Cernach's chariot breaks.
'"Why have you thrown the stone, O boy?" said Conall.
"To try my hand and the straightness of my throw," said Cuchulainn; "and it is the custom with you Ulstermen, that you do not travel beyond your peril. Go back to Emain, O friend Conall, and leave me here to watch."
'"Content, then," said Conall.
'Conall Cernach did not go past the place after that. Then Cuchulainn goes forth to Loch Echtra, and they found no one there before them. The charioteer said to Cuchulainn that they should go to Emain, that they might be in time for the drinking there.
'"No," said Cuchulainn. "What mountain is it yonder?" said Cuchulainn.
'"Sliab Monduirn," said the charioteer.
'"Let us go and get there," said Cuchulainn. They go then till they reach it. When they had reached the mountain, Cuchulainn asked: "What is the white cairn yonder on the top of the mountain?"
'"Find Carn," said the charioteer.
'"What plain is that over there?" said Cuchulainn.
'"Mag Breg," said the charioteer. He tells him then the name of every chief fort between Temair and Cenandas. He tells him first their meadows and their fords, their famous places and their dwellings, their fortresses and their high hills. He shows [Note: Reading with YBL.] him then the fort of the three sons of Nechta Scene; Foill, Fandall, and Tuachell were their names.
'"Is it they who say," said Cuchulainn, "that there are not more of the Ulstermen alive than they have slain of them?"
'"It is they indeed," said the charioteer.
'"Let us go till we reach them," said Cuchulainn.
'"Indeed it is peril to us," said the charioteer.
'"Truly it is not to avoid it that we go," said Cuchulainn.
'Then they go forth and unharness their horses at the meeting of the bog and the river, to the south above the fort of the others; and he threw the withe that was on the pillar as far as he could throw into the river and let it go with the stream, for this was a breach of geis to the sons of Nechta Scene. They perceive it then, and come to them. Cuchulainn goes to sleep by the pillar after throwing the withe at the stream; and he said to the charioteer: "Do not waken me for few; but waken me for many."
'Now the charioteer was very frightened, and he made ready their chariot and pulled its coverings and skins which were over Cuchulainn; for he dared not waken him, because Cuchulainn told him at first that he should not waken him for a few.
'Then come the sons of Nechta Scene.
'"Who is it who is there?" said one of them.
'"A little boy who has come to-day into the chariot for an expedition," said the charioteer.
'"May it not be for his happiness," said the champion; "and may it not be for his prosperity, his first taking of arms. Let him not be in our land, and let the horses not graze there any more," said the champion.
'"Their reins are in my hands," said the charioteer.
'"It should not be yours to earn hatred," said Ibar to the champion; "and the boy is asleep."
'"I am not a boy at all," said Cuchulainn; "but it is to seek battle with a man that the boy who is here has come."
'"That pleases me well," said the champion.
'"It will please you now in the ford yonder," said Cuchulainn.
'"It befits you," said the charioteer, "take heed of the man who comes against you. Foill is his name," said he; "for unless you reach him in the first thrust, you will not reach him till evening."
'"I swear by the god by whom my people swear, he will not ply his skill on the Ulstermen again, if the broad spear of my friend Conchobar should reach him from my hand. It will be an outlaw's hand to him."
'Then he cast the spear at him, so that his back broke. He took with him his accoutrements and his head.
'"Take heed of another man," said the charioteer, "Fandall [Note: i.e. 'Swallow.'] is his name. Not more heavily does he traverse(?) the water than swan or swallow."
'"I swear that he will not ply that feat again on the Ulstermen," said Cuchulainn. "You have seen," said he, "the way I travel the pool at Emain."
'They meet then in the ford. Cuchulainn kills that man, and took his head and his arms.
'"Take heed of another man who comes towards you," said the charioteer. "Tuachell [Note: i.e. 'Cunning.'] is his name. It is no misname for him, for he does not fall by arms at all."
'"Here is the javelin for him to confuse him, so that it may make a red-sieve of him," said Cuchulainn.
'He cast the spear at him, so that it reached him in his ——. Then He went to him and cut off his head. Cuchulainn gave his head and his accoutrements to his own charioteer. He heard then the cry of their mother, Nechta Scene, behind them.
'He puts their spoils and the three heads in his chariot with him, and said: "I will not leave my triumph," said he, "till I reach Emain Macha." 'then they set out with his triumph.
'Then Cuchulainn said to the charioteer: "You promised us a good run," said he, "and we need it now because of the strife and the pursuit that is behind us." They go on to Sliab Fuait; and such was the speed of the run that they made over Breg after the spurring of the charioteer, that the horses of the chariot overtook the wind and the birds in flight, and that Cuchulainn caught the throw that he sent from his sling before it reached the ground.
'When they reached Sliab Fuait, they found a herd of wild deer there before them.
'"What are those cattle yonder so active?" said Cuchulainn.
'"Wild deer," said the charioteer.
'"Which would the Ulstermen think best," said Cuchulainn, "to bring them dead or alive?"
'"It is more wonderful alive," said the charioteer; "it is not every one who can do it so. Dead, there is not one of them who cannot do it. You cannot do this, to carry off any of them alive," said the charioteer.
'"I can indeed," said Cuchulainn. "Ply the goad on the horses into the bog."
'The charioteer does this. The horses stick in the bog. Cuchulainn sprang down and seized the deer that was nearest, and that was the finest of them. He lashed the horses through the bog, and overcame the deer at once, and bound it between the two poles of the chariot.
'They saw something again before them, a flock of swans.
'"Which would the Ulstermen think best," said Cuchulainn, "to have them dead or alive?"
'"All the most vigorous and finest(?) bring them alive," said the charioteer.
'Then Cuchulainn aims a small stone at the birds, so that he struck eight of the birds. He threw again a large stone, so that he struck twelve of them. All that was done by his return stroke.
"Collect the birds for us," said Cuchulainn to his charioteer. "If it is I who go to take them," said he, "the wild deer will spring upon you."
'"It is not easy for me to go to them," said the charioteer. "The horses have become wild so that I cannot go past them. I cannot go past the two iron tyres [Interlinear gloss, fonnod. The fonnod was some part of the rim of the wheel apparently.] of the chariot, because of their sharpness; and I cannot go past the deer, for his horn has filled all the space between the two poles of the chariot."
'"Step from its horn," said Cuchulainn. "I swear by the god by whom the Ulstermen swear, the bending with which I will bend my head on him, and the eye that I will make at him, he will not turn his head on you, and he will not dare to move."
'That was done then. Cuchulainn made fast the reins, and the charioteer collects the birds. Then Cuchulainn bound the birds from the strings and thongs of the chariot; so that it was thus he went to Emain Macha: the wild deer behind his chariot, and the flock of swans flying over it, and the three heads in his chariot. Then they come to Emain.
"A man in a chariot is coming to you," said the watchman in Emain Macha; "he will shed the blood of every man who is in the court, unless heed is taken, and unless naked women go to him."
'Then he turned the left side of his chariot towards Emain, and that was a geis [Note: i.e. it was an insult.] to it; and Cuchulainn said: "I swear by the god by whom the Ulstermen swear, unless a man is found to fight with me, I will shed the blood of every one who is in the fort."
'"Naked women to meet him!" said Conchobar.
'Then the women of Emain go to meet him with Mugain, the wife of Conchobar Mac Nessa, and bare their breasts before him. "These are the warriors who will meet you to-day," said Mugain.
'He covers his face; then the heroes of Emain seize him and throw him into a vessel of cold water. That vessel bursts round him. The second vessel into which he was thrown boiled with bubbles as big as the fist therefrom. The third vessel into which he went, he warmed it so that its heat and its cold were rightly tempered. Then he comes out; and the queen, Mugain, puts a blue mantle on him, and a silver brooch therein, and a hooded tunic; and he sits at Conchobar's knee, and that was his couch always after that. The man who did this in his seventh year,' said Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe, 'it were not wonderful though he should rout an overwhelming force, and though he should exhaust (?) an equal force, when his seventeen years are complete to-day.'
(What follows is a separate version [Note: The next episode, the Death of Fraech, is not given in LL.] to the death of Orlam.)
'Let us go forth now,' said Ailill.
Then they reached Mag Mucceda. Cuchulainn cut an oak before them there, and wrote an ogam in its side. It is this that was therein: that no one should go past it till a warrior should leap it with one chariot. They pitch their tents there, and come to leap over it in their chariots. There fall thereat thirty horses, and thirty chariots are broken. Belach n-Ane, that is the name of that place for ever.
The Death of Fraech
They are there till next morning; then Fraech is summoned to them. 'Help us, O Fraech,' said Medb. 'Remove from us the strait that is on us. Go before Cuchulainn for us, if perchance you shall fight with him.'
He set out early in the morning with nine men, till he reached Ath Fuait. He saw the warrior bathing in the river.
'Wait here,' said Fraech to his retinue, 'till I come to the man yonder; not good is the water,' said he.
He took off his clothes, and goes into the water to him.
'Do not come to me,' said Cuchulainn. 'You will die from it, and I should be sorry to kill you.'
'I shall come indeed,' said Fraech, 'that we may meet in the water; and let your play with me be fair.'
'Settle it as you like,' said Cuchulainn.
'The hand of each of us round the other,' said Fraech.
They set to wrestling for a long time on the water, and Fraech was submerged. Cuchulainn lifted him up again.
'This time,' said Cuchulainn, 'will you yield and accept your life?' [Note: Lit. 'will you acknowledge your saving?']
'I will not suffer it,' said Fraech.
Cuchulainn put him under it again, until Fraech was killed. He comes to land; his retinue carry his body to the camp. Ath Fraich, that was the name of that ford for ever. All the host lamented Fraech. They saw a troop of women in green tunics [Note: Fraech was descended from the people of the Sid, his mother Bebind being a fairy woman. Her sister was Boinn (the river Boyne).] on the body of Fraech Mac Idaid; they drew him from them into the mound. Sid Fraich was the name of that mound afterwards.
Fergus springs over the oak in his chariot. They go till they reach Ath Taiten; Cuchulainn destroys six of them there: that is, the six Dungals of Irress.
Then they go on to Fornocht. Medb had a whelp named Baiscne. Cuchulainn throws a cast at him, and took his head off. Druim was the name of that place henceforth.
'Great is the mockery to you,' said Medb, 'not to hunt the deer of misfortune yonder that is killing you.'
Then they start hunting him, till they broke the shafts of their chariots thereat.
The Death of Orlam
They go forth then over Iraird Culend in the morning. Cuchulainn went forward; he overtook the charioteer of Orlam, son of Ailill and Medb, in Tamlacht Orlaim, a little to the north of Disert Lochait, cutting wood there. (According to another version, it is The shaft of Cuchulainn's chariot that had broken, and it is to cut a shaft that he had gone when he met Orlam's charioteer. It is the charioteer who cut the shafts according to this version.)
'It is over-bold what the Ulstermen are doing, if it is they who are yonder,' said Cuchulainn, 'while the host is behind them.' He goes to the charioteer to reprove him; he thought that he was of Ulster, and he saw the man cutting wood, that is the chariot shaft.
'What are you doing here?' said Cuchulainn.
'Cutting chariot-shafts,' said the charioteer. 'We have broken our chariots hunting the wild deer Cuchulainn yonder. Help me,' said the charioteer. 'Look only whether you are to select the shafts, or to strip them.'
'It will be to strip them indeed,' said Cuchulainn.
Then Cuchulainn stripped the shafts through his fingers in the presence of the other, so that he cleared them both of bark and knots.
'This cannot be your proper work that I put on you,' said the charioteer; he was greatly afraid.
'Whence are you?' said Cuchulainn.
'The charioteer of Orlam, son of Ailill and Medb,' said he. 'And you?' said the charioteer.
'My name is Cuchulainn,' said he.
'Alas!' said the charioteer.
'Fear nothing,' said Cuchulainn. 'Where is your master?' said he.
'He is in the trench yonder,' said the charioteer.
'Go forth then with me,' said Cuchulainn, 'for I do not kill charioteers at all.'
Cuchulainn goes to Orlam, kills him, cuts his head off, and shakes his head before the host. Then he puts the head on the charioteer's back, and said to him:
'Take that with you,' said Cuchulainn, 'and go to the camp thus. If you do not go thus, a stone will come to you from my sling.'
When he got near the camp, he took the head from his back, and told his adventures to Ailill and Medb.
'This is not like taking birds,' said she.
And he said, 'Unless I brought it on my back to the camp, he would break my head with a stone.'
The Death of the Meic Garach
Then the Meic Garach waited on their ford. These are their names: Lon and Ualu and Diliu; and Mes-Ler, and Mes-Laech, and Mes-Lethan were their three charioteers. They thought it too much what Cuchulainn had done: to slay two foster-sons of the king, and his son, and to shake the head before the host. They would slay Cuchulainn in return for him, and would themselves remove this annoyance from the host. They cut three aspen wands for their charioteers, that the six of them should pursue combat against him. He killed them all then, because they had broken fair-play towards him.
Orlam's charioteer was then between Ailill and Medb. Cuchulainn hurled a stone at him, [Note: Apparently because the charioteer had not carried Orlam's head into the camp on his back. Or an alternative version.] so that his head broke, and his brains came over his ears; Fertedil was his name. (Thus it is not true that Cuchulainn did not kill charioteers; howbeit, he did not kill them without fault.)
The Death of the Squirrel
Cuchulainn threatened in Methe, that wherever he should see Ailill or Medb afterwards he would throw a stone from his sling at them. He did this then: he threw a stone from his sling, so that he killed the squirrel that was on Medb's shoulder south of the ford: hence is Methe Togmaill. And he killed the bird that was on Ailill's shoulder north of the ford: hence is Methe n-Eoin. (Or it is on Medb's shoulder that both squirrel and bird were together, and it is their heads that were struck from them by the casts.)
Reoin was drowned in his lake. Hence is Loch Reoin.
'That other is not far from you,' said Ailill to the Manes.
They arose and looked round. When they sat down again, Cuchulainn struck one of them, so that his head broke.
'It was well that you went for that: your boasting was not fitting,' said Maenen the fool. 'I would have taken his head off.'
Cuchulainn threw a stone at him, so that his head broke. It is thus then that these were killed: Orlam in the first place on his hill; the Meic Garach on their ford; Fertedil in his —-; Maenan in his hill.
'I swear by the god by whom my people swear,' said Ailill, 'that man who shall make a mock of Cuchulainn here, I will make two halves of him.'
'Go forth for us both day and night,' said Ailill, 'till we reach Cualnge. That man will kill two-thirds of the host in this way.' It is there that the harpers of the Cainbili [Note: Reference obscure. They were wizards of some sort.] from Ossory came to them to amuse them. They thought it was from the Ulstermen to spy on them. They set to hunting them, till they went before them in the forms of deer into the stones at Liac Mor on the north. For they were wizards with great cunning.
The Death of Lethan
Lethan came on to his ford on the Nith (?) in Conaille. He waited himself to meet Cuchulainn. It vexed him what Cuchulainn had done. Cuchulainn cuts off his head and left it, hence it is Ath Lethan on the Nith. And their chariots broke in the battle on the ford by him; hence it is Ath Carpat. Mulcha, Lethan's charioteer, fell on the shoulder of the hill that is between them; hence is Gulo Mulchai. While the hosts were going over Mag Breg, he struck(?) their —— still. [Note: 2 Something apparently missing here. The passage in LL is as follows: 'It is the same day that the Morrigan, daughter of Ernmas, came from the Sid, so that she was on the pillar in Temair Cuailnge, taking a warning to the Dun of Cualnge before the men of Ireland, and she began to speak to him, and "Good, O wretched one, O Dun of Cualnge," said the Morrigan, "keep watch, for the men of Ireland have reached thee, and they will take thee to their camp unless thou keepest watch"; and she began to take a warning to him thus, and uttered her words on high.' (The Rhetoric follows as in LU.)]
Yet that was the Morrigan in the form of a bird on the pillar in Temair Cuailnge; and she spoke to the Bull:
'Does the Black know,' etc. [Note: A Rhetoric.]
Then the Bull went, and fifty heifers with him, to Sliab Culind; and his keeper, Forgemen by name, went after him. He threw off the three fifties of boys who used always to play on him, and he killed two-thirds of his boys, and dug a trench in Tir Marcceni in Cualnge before he went.
The Death of Lochu
Cuchulainn killed no one from the Saile ind Orthi (?) in the Conaille territory, until they reached Cualnge. Cuchulainn was then in Cuince; he threatened then that when he saw Medb he would throw a stone at her head. This was not easy to him, for it is thus that Medb went and half the host about her, with their shelter of shields over her head.
Then a waiting-woman of Medb's, Lochu by name, went to get water, and a great troop of women with her. Cuchulainn thought it was Medb. He threw two stones from Cuince, so that he slew her in her plain(?). Hence is Ath Rede Locha in Cualnge.
From Findabair Cuailnge the hosts divided, and they set the country on fire. They collect all there were of women, and boys, and maidens; and cattle, in Cualnge together, so that they were all in Findabair.
'You have not gone well,' said Medb; 'I do not see the Bull with you.'
'He is not in the province at all,' said every one.
Lothar the cowherd is summoned to Medb.
'Where is the Bull?' said she. 'Have you an idea?'
'I have great fear to tell it,' said the herd. 'The night,' said he, 'when the Ulstermen went into their weakness, he went with three twenties of heifers with him, so that he is at the Black Corrie of Glenn Gatt.'
'Go,' said Medb, 'and carry a withe [Note: Ir. gatt, a withe.] between each two of you.'
They do this: hence this glen is called Glenn Gatt. Then they bring the Bull to Findabair. The place where he saw the herd, Lothar, he attacked him, so that he brought his entrails out on his horns; and he attacked the camp with his three fifties of heifers, so that fifty warriors were killed. And that is the death of Lothar on the Foray.
Then the Bull went from them out of the camp, and they knew not where he had gone from them; and they were ashamed. Medb asked the herd if he had an idea where the Bull was.
'I think he would be in the secret places of Sliab Culind.'
When they returned thus after ravaging Cualnge, and did not find the Bull there. The river Cronn rose against them to the tops of the trees; and they spent the night by it. And Medb told part of her following to go across.
A wonderful warrior went next day, Ualu his name. He took a great stone on his back to go across the water; the stream drove him backwards with the stone on his back. His grave and his stone are on the road at the stream: Lia Ualand is its name.
They went round the river Cronn to the source, and they would have gone between the source and the mountain, only that they could not get leave from Medb; she preferred to go across the mountain, that their track might remain there for ever, for an insult to the Ulstermen. They waited there three days and three nights, till they dug the earth in front of them, the Bernas Bo Cuailnge.
It is there that Cuchulainn killed Crond and Coemdele and —— [Note: Obscure.]. A hundred warriors —— [Note: Obscure.] died with Roan and Roae, the two historians of the Foray. A hundred and forty-four, kings died by him at the same stream. They came then over the Bernas Bo Cuailnge with the cattle and stock of Cualnge, and spent the night in Glenn Dail Imda in Cualnge. Botha is the name of this place, because they made huts over them there. They come next day to Colptha. They try to cross it through heedlessness. It rose against them then, and it carries a hundred charioteers of them to the sea; this is the name of the land in which they were drowned, Cluain Carptech.
They go round Colptha then to its source, to Belat Alioin, and spent the night at Liasa Liac; that is the name of this place, because they made sheds over their calves there between Cualnge and Conaille. They came over Glenn Gatlaig, and Glass Gatlaig rose against them. Sechaire was its name before; Glass Gatlaig thenceforth, because it was in withes they brought their calves; and they slept at Druim Fene in Conaille. (Those then are the wanderings from Cualnge to Machaire according to this version.)
This is the Harrying of Cualnge
(Other authors and books make it that another way was taken on their journeyings from Findabair to Conaille, as follows:
Medb said after every one had come with their booty, so that they were all in Findabair Cuailnge: 'Let the host be divided,' said Medb; 'it will be impossible to bring this expedition by one way. Let Ailill go with half the expedition by Midluachair; Fergus and I will go by Bernas Ulad.' [Note: YBL. Bernas Bo n-Ulad.]
'It is not fine,' said Fergus, 'the half of the expedition that has fallen to us. It will be impossible to bring the cattle over the mountain without dividing it.'
That was done then, so that it is from that there is Bernas Bo n-Ulad.)
It is there then that Ailill said to his charioteer Cuillius: 'Find out for me to-day Medb and Fergus. I know not what has brought them to this union. I shall be pleased that a token should come to me by you.'
Cuillius came when they were in Cluichre. The pair remained behind, and the warriors went on. Cuillius came to them, and they heard not the spy. Fergus' sword happened to be beside him. Cuillius drew it out of its sheath, and left the sheath empty. Cuillius came to Ailill.
'So?' said Ailill.
'So indeed,' said Cuillius; 'there is a token for you.'
'It is well,' said Ailill.
Each of them smiles at the other.
'As you thought,' said Cuillius, 'it is thus that I found them, in one another's arms.'
'It is right for her,' said Ailill; 'it is for help on the Foray that she has done it. See that the sword is kept in good condition,' said Ailill. 'Put it under your seat in the chariot, and a cloth of linen around it.'
Fergus got up for his sword after that.
'Alas!' said he.
'What is the matter with you?' said Medb.
'An ill deed have I done to Ailill,' said he. 'Wait here, while I go into the wood,' said Fergus; 'and do not wonder though it be long till I come.'
It happened that Medb knew not the loss of the sword. He goes thence, and takes the sword of his charioteer with him in his hand. He makes a wooden sword in the wood. Hence there is Fid Mor Drualle in Ulster.
'Let us go on after our comrades,' said Fergus. All their hosts meet in the plain. They pitch their tents. Fergus is summoned to Ailill to play chess. When Fergus went to the tent, Ailill began to laugh at him. [Note: Here follows about two columns of rhetoric, consisting of a taunting dialogue between Ailill, Fergus and Medb.]
Cuchulainn came so that he was at Ath Cruinn before them.
'O friend Loeg,' said he to his charioteer, 'the hosts are at hand to us.'
'I swear by the gods,' said the charioteer, 'I will do a mighty feat before warriors ... on slender steeds with yokes of silver, with golden wheels ...'
'Take heed, O Loeg,' said Cuchulainn; 'hold the reins for great victory of Macha ... I beseech,' said Cuchulainn, 'the waters to help me. I beseech heaven and earth, and the Cronn in particular.'
The (river) Cronn takes to fighting against them; it will not let them into Murthemne until the work of heroes be finished in Sliab Tuath Ochaine.
Therewith the water rose up till it was in the tops of the trees.
Mane, son of Ailill and Medb, went before the rest. Cuchulainn smites them on the ford, and thirty horsemen of Mane's retinue were drowned in the water. Cuchulainn overthrew two sixteens of warriors of them again by the water.
They pitch their tents at that ford. Lugaid Mac Nois, descendant of Lomarc Allchomach, came to speak to Cuchulainn, with thirty horsemen.
'Welcome, O Lugaid,' said Cuchulainn. 'If a flock of birds graze upon Mag Murthemne, you shall have a duck with half of another; if fish come to the estuaries, you shall have a salmon with half of another. You shall have the three sprigs, the sprig of watercress, and the sprig of marshwort, and the sprig of seaweed. You shall have a man in the ford in your place.' [Note: This and the following speech are apparently forms of greeting. Cuchulainn offers Lugaid such hospitality as lies in his power. See a similar speech later to Fergus.]
'I believe it,' said Lugaid. 'Excellence of people to the boy whom I desire.'
'Your hosts are fine,' said Cuchulainn.
It would not be sad for you alone before them,' said Lugaid.
'Fair-play and valour will support me,' said Cuchulainn. 'O friend Lugaid, do the hosts fear me?'
'I swear by God,' said Lugaid, 'one man nor two dare not go out of the camp, unless it be in twenties or thirties.'
'It will be something extra for them,' said Cuchulainn, 'if I take to throwing from the sling. Fitting for you will be this fellow-vassal, O Lugaid, that you have among the Ulstermen, if there come to me the force of every man. Say what you would have,' said Cuchulainn.
'That I may have a truce with you towards my host.'
'You shall have it, provided there be a token on it. And tell my friend Fergus that there be a token on his host. Tell the physicians, let there be a token on their host. And let them swear preservation of life to me, and let there come to me provision every night from them.'
Then Lugaid goes from him. Fergus happened to be in the tent with Ailill. Lugaid called him out, and told him this. Something was heard, namely Ailill. ... [Note: Rhetoric, six lines, the substance of which is, apparently, that Ailill asks protection also.]
'I swear by God I cannot do it,' said Lugaid, 'unless I ask the boy Again.'
'Help me, [Note: Spoken by Fergus?] O Lugaid, go to him to see whether Ailill may come with a cantred into my troop. Take an ox with bacon to him and a jar of wine.'
He goes to Cuchulainn then and tells him this.
'I do not mind though he go,' said Cuchulainn.
Then their two troops join. They are there till night. Cuchulainn kills thirty men of them with the sling. (Or they would be twenty nights there, as some books say.)
'Your journeyings are bad,' said Fergus. 'The Ulstermen will come to you out of their weakness, and they will grind you to earth and gravel. "The corner of battle" in which we are is bad.'
He goes thence to Cul Airthir. It happened that Cuchulainn had gone that night to speak to the Ulstermen [Note: In LL and Y BL this incident occurs later, and the messenger is Sualtaim, not Cuchulainn. LU is clearly wrong here.]
'Have you news?' said Conchobar.
'Women are captured,' said Cuchulainn, 'cattle are driven away, men are slain.'
'Who carries them off? who drives them away? who kills them?'
'... Ailill Mac Matae carries them off, and Fergus Mac Roich very bold ...' [Note: Rhetoric.]
'It is not great profit to you,' said Conchobar, 'to-day, our smiting has come to us all the same.'
Cuchulainn goes thence from them; he saw the hosts going forth.
'Alas,' said Ailill, 'I see chariots' ..., etc [Note: Rhetoric, five lines.]
Cuchulainn kills thirty men of them on Ath Duirn. They could not reach Cul Airthir then till night. He slays thirty of them there, and they pitch their tents there. Ailill's charioteer, Cuillius, was washing the chariot tyres [Note: See previous note on the word fonnod; the word used here is fonnod.] in the ford in the morning; Cuchulainn struck him with a stone and killed him. Hence is Ath Cuillne in Cul Airthir. They reach Druim Feine in Conaille and spent the night there, as we have said before.
Cuchulainn attacked them there; he slays a hundred men of them every night of the three nights that they were there; he took a sling to them from Ochaine near them.
'Our host will be short-lived through Cuchulainn in this way,' said Ailill. 'Let an agreement be carried from us to him: that he shall have the equal of Mag Murthemne from Mag Ai, and the best chariot that is in Ai, and the equipment of twelve men. Offer, if it pleases him better, the plain in which he was brought up, and three sevens of cumals [Note: The cumal (bondmaid) was a standard of value.]; and everything that has been destroyed of his household (?) and cattle shall be made good, and he shall have full compensation (?), and let him go into my service; it is better for him than the service of a sub king.'
'Who shall go for that?'
'Mac Roth yonder.'
Mac Roth, the messenger of Ailill and Medb, went on that errand to Delga: it is he who encircles Ireland in one day. It is there that Fergus thought that Cuchulainn was, in Delga.
'I see a man coming towards us,' said Loeg to Cuchulainn. 'He has a yellow head of hair, and a linen emblem round it; a club of fury(?) in his hand, an ivory-hilted sword at his waist; a hooded tunic with red ornamentation on him.'
'Which of the warriors of the king is that?' said Cuchulainn.
Mac Roth asked Loeg whose man he was.
'Vassal to the man down yonder,' said Loeg.
Cuchulainn was there in the snow up to his two thighs, without anything at all on him, examining his shirt.
Then Mac Roth asked Cuchulainn whose man he was.
'Vassal of Conchobar Mac Nessa,' said Cuchulainn.
'Is there no clearer description?'
'That is enough,' said Cuchulainn.
'Where then is Cuchulainn?' said Mac Roth.
'What would you say to him?' said Cuchulainn.
Mac Roth tells him then all the message, as we have told it.
'Though Cuchulainn were near, he would not do this; he will not barter the brother of his mother for another king.'
He came to him again, and it was said to Cuchulainn that there should be given over to him the noblest of the women and the cows that were without milk, on condition that he should not ply his sling on them at night, even if he should kill them by day.
'I will not do it,' said Cuchulainn; 'if our slavewomen are taken from us, our noble women will be at the querns; and we shall be without milk if our milch-cows are taken from us.'
He came to him again, and he was told that he should have the slave-women and the milch-cows.
'I will not do it,' said Cuchulainn; 'the Ulstermen will take their slave-women to their beds, and there will be born to them a servile offspring, and they will use their milch-cows for meat in the winter.'
'Is there anything else then?' said the messenger.
'There is,' said Cuchulainn; 'and I will not tell it you. It shall be agreed to, if any one tell it you.'
'I know it,' said Fergus; 'I know what the man tried to suggest; and it is no advantage to you. And this is the agreement,' said Fergus: 'that the ford on which takes place (?) his battle and combat with one man, the cattle shall not be taken thence a day and a night; if perchance there come to him the help of the Ulstermen. And it is a marvel to me,' said Fergus, 'that it is so long till they come out of their sufferings.'