Brinna Ferchertne

Brinna Ferchertne inso triana codlud
Laud 610

Translated by Kuno Meyer



The following poem is now for the first time published from the only manuscript copy in which it has reached us, that contained on fo. 117b 1 - 118a 2 of the Bodleian codex Laud 610. As the title indicates, it is a vision by Ferchertne, the poet of Curoi mac Dari, of the storming of Curoi's fort by Cuchulainn and the men of Ulster, of the death of Curoi himself and of various members of his household, of the defeat of the Eraind in Argat-glenn, and, lastly, of Ferchertne's own death and that of Blathnat, Curoi's faithless wife. Its Contents are therefore the same as those of the tale known as Aided Conroi or the Tragical Death of Curoi. This tale has long been accessible to English readers in Keating's account, as translated by O'Mahony (pp. 282-284), O'Conor (I, pp. 100-102), O'Dermot (I, pp. 302-310) and Haliday (pp. 398-405). A very short Irish version from Laud 610 fo. 117a-, where it immediately precedes our poem, was published by me in the Revue Celtique vol. VI, pp. 187-188.

More detailed versions are found in the Yellow Book of Lecan pp. 123a-125a, and in Egerton 88, fo. 10a 1. 10b 1.

If I may venture a guess I should assign our poem to the 10th Century. The name Curoi still scans as three syllables, as in Cinaed húa Hartacáin's poem beginning Fianna bátar i nEmain while it makes two syllables in Broccáan Cráibdech's poem in LL. 43b.



1. I see two Hounds1 manfully fighting a glorious combat:
Cuchulinn is boasting of the death of Curoi, Dare's son.

2. The Eraind2 seized Erin, numerous were their families,
They seized a province without mishap3 as far as Usnech in Meath.

3. Many battles they fought, hardy were the troops,
They slept a night in Tara on their march to Emain Macha.

4. It was one of Curoi's feats when he slew Fliuchna the champion:
That was the origin of his suffering when he drove off Iuchna's kine.

5. When he had outraged the men of Ulster, it were a long story to tell,
After feasting, in a coracle of hide, he carried off Blathnait from Cuchulinn.

6. Cuchulinn was a-searching, a full year he passed in silence4,
Till he knew ready guidance towards Curoi's city.

7. When his wife betrayed Curoi, evil was the deed she did,
While she did not escape unscathed she left the Eraind under disgrace.

8. Blathnait, the daughter of Menn, by treachery brought about the slaughter in Argat-glenn:
An evil deed for a wife to betray her husband, since ***

9. She tied his hair to rails, to bed-posts - cruellest of stories!
Curoi arose against them, 'twas the rising of a champion.

10. A hundred men fell from his rising after he had been tied to rails,
Thrice fifty men besides, and fifty with bloody wounds.

11. However Cuchulinn came upon him with his own sword,
And left him in a litter upon the noble shoulders of six men.

12. They went out upon the mountains, they avenged Fliuchna the champion.
Besides carrying off their ***, they drove away Iuchna's kine.

13. Senfiaccail Setnach came, worn out, decayed were his bones,
Quickly he got support after the destruction of Mac Dare's life.

14. As for the crier of the prince, he was good in the thick (?) of battle,
He cut down fifty armed men, then he allowed himself to be slain.

15. Tredornan the blind flung himself upon the Ulster host, he was not slow,
A famous stone of strength, no foolish cry! three score true warriors he slew.

16. The combat of Eochaid son of Darfind, its final scene is in the glen,
'Tis little known to any one that is asked who put flag-stones there.

17. The combat of Eochaid son of Darfind, from the promontory as far as the glen,
He slew a hundred men in fair fight until an overwhelming number5 fell upon him.

18. Then Eochaid was overwhelmed by numbers, not in fair fight,
So that his cairn is on Mag Rois, ***

19. Cairpri Cuanach came upon them, he slew a hundred men, a vigorous encounter,
He had boasted to Conchubor6, if the monsterful sea had not drowned him.

20. Cló came upon them with fury, he slew a hundred men of their host,
Though great his strength in the body, he found his grave through Cuchulinn.

21. Russ the son of Deda came upon them, who was of a race stout and strong,
To avenge their heroes the warriors of Ulster slew him.

22. Thereupon came Nemthes the druid, he knew what was in store for him,
Four times ten men he slew, thrice he repeated it.

23. Forai of the Fian came upon them, a man who would not serve for laughter,
Dedornd of the curly locks came, he ousted the hosts from glory.

24. Ferdoman came, he gave battle, he wrought a terrible slaughter,
In fair fight he cut off the hand of Fiachaig the son of Conchubar.

25. The son of Riangabra came upon them, Ingeilt was his glorious name,
He put Carpre the son of Conchobor under bitter waves of the salt-sea.

26. Lugaid and Loegaire made combat fiercer than two ravens7,
He leaves his chariot to its hero, and its charioteer in its paddock.

27. Loegaire cried to the host ***
"Do not let us grant the warrior fair fight, to see if we avenge our trouble."

28. Fergus took hold of his cheek, lest the host should slay him,
Then he obtained fair fight against the famous warriors of Ulster.

29. Three score days he was on the field, every day a man (fell) by his skill,
Those were his *** until the Eraind arrived.

30. Thereupon came the Eraind according to the will of their king ***,
Seven thousand seven hundred and seven score of thousands.

31. *** upon Mag Enaig, 'twas there the combat reached.
They were driven against the silver rocks8, whence is the chariot-fight.

32. Upon a grave-covered slope they raised a shout, 'twas there the host came together,
That is the name that is on it, and not that only.

33. Sad truly is the encounter of Blathnait and Ferchertne,
The graves of both of whom are in Land Cindbera above the promontory.

34. I see the three kine of Echda, not slowly do they march through sloughs,
I see a noble warrior(?) ***, I see studs of horses of every colour.

35. I see coracles along a river, I see enemies that are being seized,
I see a host across a great house, I see a warrior that is not to be dared.

36. Atchiu gin húi Nessa cessa fri fiansa forbair
diasnad Hériu ergair, atciu -sa hi cowgail. Atchiu.9



NOTES

1. i. e. Cuchulainn 'Culand's Hound' and Curoi 'Hound of the Battlefield'.

2. A Munster tribe, to which Curoi belonged.

3. Lit. 'without falling'.

4. Literally 'in a blessed or happy state'.

5. Lit. 'unequal combat'.

6. Or, 'he would have fought with Conchobar.

7. Literally, 'exceeding two ravens'.

8. From which Argat-glend "Silver-glen" takes its name.

9. This quatrain is evidently corrupt, and I cannot translate it.



Sources : Kuno Meyer, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 3



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