Trans. Rev. Edmund Hogan
1. nce upon a time Conchobar was in smooth-bright Emain of Macha1, after the giving of the battle of the Táin by him, so that there was not food that pleased him, and that he slept not easily, and that he confessed not to any of the Ulaid what made him so, for the time of three fortnights. And that thing was told to the Ulaid, that is, Conchobar to be in decline and in long-sickness, and that there was not food that pleased him, and that he slept not easily, and that he confessed not to anyone of the Ulaid what made him so.
2. Then was made a gathering and an assembling of the Ulaid to smooth-bright Emain of Macha. And it was allowed2 by them ten who would be proper to ascertain the wound that wounded the king of the Ulaid, and the violent sickness that brought him to death3, and made him pale for the time of three fortnights, so that there was not food that pleased him, and that he confessed not to anyone of the Ulaid what made him so. It is this that all these said then, that it was the person who reared him and brought him up, namely, Cathbad the famous druid.
3. So on went Cathbad, the right-wonderful druid, to the place in which Conchobar was, and he wept floodlike deep-red tears of blood4, so that his breast and bosom were wet. Conchobar took pity on the tear of Cathbad. "Good, indeed, then, my master Cathbad," said Conchobar, "what makes thee sad, sorrowful, dispirited?" "I have indeed great-reason for that," replied Cathbad, "that I know not what wound has wounded thee, and what obstinate sickness has deadened thee, and paled thee for the time of three fortnights." "Great-reason indeed have I for it," said Conchobar, "for four great-provinces of Ériu have come to me, and with them were brought their men of music, and of amusement, and of eulogy, that the more conspicuous might be the ravages, and that the greater might be the devastations; and our fortresses and our fine-dwellings5 were burned, so that no higher (were) they than their rooms, and their outhouses. And Ailill and Medb gained a battle too against me, and the calf of my own cow was taken from me out of a place of safety6." And it is thus he was saying it, and he uttered these words thereupon7:
"There is to my mind a cause of grief,
if thou wouldst know, just Cathbad,
the Ulaid all,—vastness of brave deeds,—
it was not a protection for one bull.
Medb assembled (them) from the west—
the daughter of Echu,—though it was a woman's raid8—
and carried off kine and raiment
and gold and silver.
Medb ravaged easily9
unto Dáire's fortress in our good land,
unto Dún Sescind, what there is of it,
unto the long-famous fort of Sobairge10.
She left not in our fair province
wall or stead without ravage,
nor fort in which they boasted not triumph,
nor wall without fiercely burning it.
My bull and the brown bull of Dáire,
about which the warriors will give forth much shouting,
there was not ever a cow's bull calf11
about which more of misery is wrought.
Not more the want of bull or cow
to us in the province of Emain
than the loss of a hero that she cut down12
Having bathed him in his blood." There is.
5. "Good now, my life13 Cathbad," said Conchobar, "what is thy counsel to us?" and it is thus that he was saying it, and he said the words:
"O Cathbad, a counsel for us;
faintness14 has wrought an evil design on us;
[that] Medb escaped from the famous battle,
it is this truly that has dismayed us.
It was not right for Medb from the Plain
to muster [an army to come] for my bull:
though it were a bull with two horns of gold,
that I should have [it] was not too much.
Though it were her bull that were the greater,
the calf of her cow was not too much for her;
the calf of our own cow, a cause of patience15,
it was not right to ask him from us.
Since [?] it is on us for our cow's calf
that Echu's daughter16 has brought hardship,
time for us to go and avenge it
on Medb, on the great queen17."
"Thou hast already avenged it sternly,
O red-sworded Conchobar—
[by] the winning of a battle—I remember—
over the four provinces of Ériu."
"It is no battle, in which a stout king falls not
by hard-fighting, by fury;
an army to escape18 from a goodly battle!
a king falls if they are valiant19.
It is almost this that20 makes me dead:
my bull at the fight of the two bulls,
unless shall come from it the son of Mata of Muirisc21.
Unless Ailill should fall and Medb
by me in this encounter assuredly
I say to you, with prodigies of a host22,
My heart will break, O Cathbad.
O [Cathbad, a counsel for us.]
6. "This is my counsel for thee," replied Cathbad, "to stay for the present. For the winds are rough, and the roads are dirty, and the rivers and the waters are great, and warriors' hands are occupied with making fortifications and strongholds in the territories of strangers. So wait for us until the summer weather comes to us, until every grassy sod is a pillow, till our old horses are spirited, till our colts are strong, till our men are whole of their wounds and hurts after the battle of the Táin Bó Cualnge, till the nights [are] short to watch and to ward and to guard in the lands of enemies and in the territories of strangers." It is thus he was saying it, and he uttered the words:
"Spring is not the time for an invasion.
Every windy ford [or gap] is cold.
Many of Elga will shout,
famous the cause [world?].
The good cow-droves of February have died [disappeared?].
Weak are the animals of March.
Strong are all [cattle] of April.
A fair of hogs23...
...for a march of battle.
So that Spring is not the time for an invasion24."
7. "So stay with us," now25 said Cathbad, "for there is no disgrace to thy honour therein. For [it was] a horse-boy that carried it in flight, and in escape from thee through the middle of the battle of the men of Ériu away westward. And if it was carried off without vengeance, there shall be measure for measure for that. And let there be sent tidings and messages from thee forthwith to thy friends in absence26, namely, to Conall the stern, the triumphant, the exultant, the victorious, the red-sworded, to the place where he is, raising his tax and his tribute in the territories of Léodús27, in the islands of Cadd, and in the islands of Orc, and in the territories of Scythia and Dacia and Gothia and Northmannia, voyaging in the Ictian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, and plundering the roads of the Saxons. And let there be sent tidings and messages from thee to thy friends in absence, to the Gallic lands, to the foreign lands of the foreigners, namely to Amlaib or Olaib [i.e. Olaf] grandson of Inscoa28, King of Norway; to Findmór son of Rofher, the king of the seventh part of Norway; to Báre of the Scigger29, to the fortress of the Piscarcarla30; to Brodor Roth and to Brodor Fiúit31, and to Siugraid Soga, King of Súdiam32; to Sortadbud Sort, the King of the Orkney Islands; to the seven sons of Romra33, to Cet son of Romra, to Celg son of Romra, to Mod son of Herling, to Conchobar the victorious, son of Artur, son of Bruide, son of Dungal, to the son of the King of Scotland, and Clothra, daughter of Conchobar, [was] his mother."
8. "Who should go on that embassy?" said Conchobar. "Who should go upon it," said Cathbad, "but [if it were] Findchad, son of Conchobar yonder, and Aed the Handsome, son of Conall Cernach, and Oengus, son of Oenlám Gába, and Cano34 the Foreigner, to teach the way over the surface of the sea and of the ocean to them." It is then that these went forward over the surface of the sea and of the ocean to the place where Conall Cernach was in the territory of Leodús, and they manifested then the tidings that they had to Conall. He made welcome to Findchad, son of Conchobar, and put his hands about his neck and gave him three kisses. It is then too that they conveyed to him that the Táin Bó Cualnge was taken from the Ulaid. The stern, steadfast heart of Conall started from the mid-upper part of his chest like the noise of a sea-green wave against the earth. "I vow [I say a word] indeed," said Conall, "were it that I had been in the territory of the Ulaid, then that spoil would not have been taken without a vengeance which would be measure for measure for it!" It is this, then, Conall was: feasts and festivities having been made by him there, and it was the abundance of leavings and the ripeness of his drinking then. And Conall gave that feast to the nobles of the Ulaid. And there were sent then intelligencers and messengers from him to his absent friends, through the Gallic lands, to the foreign-lands of the foreigners. It was then that there was made a gathering and muster by them too; and their stories were prepared by them also, and their ships and their galleys were secured in order; and they came to the place in which Conall was.
9. It was then that Conall sent intelligencers and messengers from him to the lands of the Ulaid, that the Ulaid might not be in much-concern of preparation against [for] their foes and their enemies and their foreigners. It is then that counsel was held by the Ulaid, and feasts and festivities were held by them too. "I will make a banquet," said Cú Chulaind, " in wait and in preparation for Conchobar at the bright-faced castle of Delga35." "I will make another splendid vast banquet," said Celtchair, son of Uthechar, "in wait and in preparation for Conall Cernach, son of Amairgen, at the rock of Murbolg36." "I too will make another splendid monster banquet," said Loegaire, "at Inber Seimne37 in the north."
10. Now set out the great naval armament, as we have said, under Conall Cernach son of Amairgin, and under Findchad son of Conchobar, and under the Aed the Handsome, son of Conall Cernach, and under the nobles of Norway. And they came forward out on the current of the Mull of Cantire. And a green-surge of the tremendous sea rose for them; and the38 seals and walruses and crane-heads and cenandans and ilrians39 of the tremendous sea rose for them too. Such was the strength of the storm that rose for them, that the fleet was parted in three. A third of them under Conall Cernach son of Amairgen came to the rock of Murbolg. Another third under the sons of Romna came to Inber Seimni40. The other third went under Alaib, grandson of Inscoa, King of Norway, and under Báire of the Faeroe Islands, from the fortress of Piscarcarla; and these went on to the Strand of Báile mac Buain, to the mouth of the water of Luachann41.
11. It is at that time that Conchobar came on [with] nine hundred and sixty-five men to the mouth of the water of Luachann. And a house of drinking and high merriment was prepared by him in the bright-faced castle of Delga. It was not long for Conchobar, when he was there, till he was the bent spars of a sail and the full-crewed ships, and the bright-scarlet pavilions, and the beautiful many-coloured flags, and the machines of battle, and the bright blue lances42[?], and the weapons of war. "Good, then, ye good men of learning down here, give sureties and bonds and guarantees to me43!" "Well, O chief and lord," said Sencha son of Ailill, "why is it so with thee44?" "[For] the greatness of your charge and of your burden to me," said Conchobar; "[for] the excellence of my bestowal of jewels, treasure and wealth, that it may not be too much for me45 that there should not come [of] evil or good to me from one end of the year to the other, [from] your [being engaged] in preparing and procuring it for me." "Good, O chief and lord," said Sencha son of Ailill, "why is it so with thee?" "Because I know not indeed," said Conchobar, "if they be the Galían of Lagin, or the Munstermen of great Muma, or the province of Ólnecmacht46, that have arrived there; but the estuary of the water of Luachann and the Strand of Báile mac Búain are full47." "I give [my] word indeed," said Sencha son of Ailill, "that Ériu [Eire] surrounds not a soldier that puts his hand in the hand of a lord, who is not known to me. And if they be the men of Ériu that are there, I will ask a truce of battle from them till the distant end of a fortnight in addition to a month. But if they be thy friends from abroad that are there, from the Gallic lands and the foreign-lands of the foreigners, that will please thee better however." "If it be they," said Conchobar, "your honour-price shall be the less."
12. It is then that Sencha son of Ailill went forward to the place where that great naval armament was, and he asked them, "Who goes here?" It is this they said then, that they were the foreign friends of Conchobar that were there. Sencha came forward to the place in which Conchobar was. "Good now, my soul, Conchobar, thy are thy foreign friends that are yonder, from the Gallic lands and the foreign-lands of the foreigners." However, the [whole of] Ireland did not please Conchobar at all through the amount in him of his ardour and of his energy and of his fierceness. And a drop of gore and blood burst through his mouth a little out; and the clot of gore and blood that was on his heart, it is it that pained him at that juncture of time.
13. "Well, O Cú Chulaind," said Conchobar, "let the horses of the plain of Murthemni be caught by thee; let four-wheeled chariots be harnessed to them. And bring with thee the nobles of Norway in chariots and in four-wheeled cars to the bright-faced castle of Delga. So that it may be for the kings of Norway that this house of drinking and enjoyment is prepared." It is then that the horses of the plain of Murthemni were caught and the chariots and the four-wheeled cars were yoked to them, and they were brought to meet the kings of Norway, and they (i.e. the kings) were brought to the bright-faced castle of Delga, and the mansion was vacated by Conchobar. So that it was for the kings of Norway it was prepared after that. And there arose thereupon carvers to carve for them and butlers to deal out [drinks]. And that banquet was served to the nobles of Norway until they were drunk and right-merry. When a chief48 was mightier than men, and it was a conversation of every pair and of every three of them, they were put in their apartments and in their couches, and in their sleeping-rooms. Tunes and amusing songs and eulogies were sung to them, and they tarried there till the clear time of rising on the morrow.
14. Now Conchobar rose early on the morrow, and Cú Chulain was brought to him. "That is well, Cú Chulain," said Conchobar. "Give the rest of the banquet that thou hast to the nobles of Norway, that they may be fully satisfied49. And let intelligencers and messengers be sent from thee through the lands of the Ulaid to the warriors of the Ulaid. Let their foreign friends from the foreign-lands of the foreigners be ministered unto by them also, while I go to the mouth of the water of Luachann, and a position and camp is taken by me there. Say for me too to the three fifties of elders [and] old champions that are in their repose of age under Irgalach son of Macclách son of Congal son of Rudraige, having laid aside their exercise of arms and their weapons—say for me to them to come with me on this campaign and on the hosting, so that it may be by their will and by their counsel that it may goon." "I say it to them!" said Cú Chulaind, "I will not say [it]; and yet I think not the worse of their going."
15. It is then that Conchobar went on into the great royal-house in which were the veterans and old champions. It is then that they raised their heads out of their places and out of their couches to see the large-eyed majestic king. And their spirit was not indeed satisfactory to them50. They almost leaped the mansion in which they were. "Good, O chief and lord," said they, "what has made thee travel, and moved thee towards us to-day?" "Have you not heard," said he, "of this expedition of hostility [on which] came the four great provinces of Ireland to us, to which they brought their men of music and amusement and eulogy with them, that the ravages might be more manifest and that the depredations might be the greater? and our fortresses and our fine dwellings were burned, so that they are not higher than their apartments and their outhouses. And so I should like an expedition of hostility against them, and that it be by your direction [will] and by your counsel that the journey and the expedition may proceed." "Let our old steeds be caught by thee and let our old chariots be yoked by thee, till we go on this journey and this expedition with thee." Then their old chargers were caught by them and their old chariots were yoked; and they came on to the mouth of the Water of Luachann that night.
16. And this was told to the four great provinces of Ériu. And the Three Waves of Ériu reverberated51 before this that night, namely the Wave of Clidna, and the Wave of Rudraige, and the Wave of Tuag Inbir52. It is then that Eochu son of Luchta53 went on with the native clans of the Recartaig Dedad to Temair Luachra54 from the northwest. It is then that Ailill and Medb [went] to Cruachan Ráith of Connacht. It is then that Find son of Ros king of the Galían55 went with the clans of Derg about him to Dinn Ríg56 over the clear-bright Barrow. It is then that Cairpre Nia Fer went with the Luagni57 of Temair about him to Temair.
17. It is then that a resolution was agreed58 upon by Eochu son of Luchta and by the Clanna Dedad59, namely: "Every living [thing] for its payment and every payment for its living [thing], reparation60 of his territory and of his land to Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathach, namely, a palisade in the place of every palisade, and a grianán61 in the place of every grianán, a house in the place of every house, a cow in the place of every cow, a bull in the place of every bull, and the Dond Cualnge over and above62; the equal-breadth of his face of red gold to Conchobar for that turn, and no expedition of hostility against the men of Ériu." It is then too that tidings, intelligencers, and messengers were sent from Eochu son of Luchta to Ailill and Medb with that proposal. That thing was related to Ailill and to Medb. [Medb said] "A false hand was taken by him63 from whom those counsels were brought. For so long as there shall be among us one to whom it will be possible to take the hilt of a sword and the shield-strap of a shield about his neck, that proposal shall not go to him64." "We have not urged on thee that counsel, thou bad woman65," said Ailill. "For not greater is our share of that payment than the share of every man of the four great provinces of Ériu who was on the expedition of the Táin Bó Cualnge." "Thou art good as to that in my opinion66," said Medb.
18. "Who should go on that embassy?" said Ailill. "Who," said Medb, "but Dorn Ibair, grandson of Cepp Goba, and Fadb Darach, grandson of Omna?" His chuckle of laughter broke out on Fergus. "What causes thy loud mirth?" said Ailill. "I have good reason for that," said Fergus, "the man that is the greatest enemy to the Ulaid in the world [to be sent] by Medb to go to them! For had he not done any wrong before or after to them, except to wound mortally Mend son of Salcholcu on the waterways of the Bóand, it would be enough of wrong for him. And though it be so," said Fergus, "he need not fear67 for this time, and let him go thither. For the assemblies of that people are not treacherous." It is then that these proceeded to Temair.
19. It is the that Find son of Ros, King of the redhanded province of Lagin, went with the clans of Derg about him to Temair northwards, to the place where his brother Coirpre Nia Fer was. And those offers were made known to them. And it was debated by them, who should go with that message. It is this that they decided, that it was Fidach Ferggach of Fid Gaible68; for he was a wise, modest, truly prudent man. It is the that these proceeded northward to the place in which Conchobar was; and they told him of those proposals, namely: "Every living [thing] for its payment, and every payment for its living [thing]. Reparation of his territory and of his land to Conchobor son of Fachtna; and a wall in the place of every wall, and a grianán in the place of every grianán, a house in the place of every house, a cow in the place of every cow, a bull in the place of every bull, and the Dond Cualnge over and above; the equal breadth of his face of red gold to Conchobar; and no expedition of hostility against the men of Ériu for this time." Thus was Conchobar addressing them, and he spoke the words:—
"Whence have come the envoys
hither from afar?
do you signify to me your adventures?
is it to do me homage?"
"We have come from valorous Cruachu,
which is not little in fame,
to thee, just Conchobar,
stern thy valour;
We have come to move a proposal,
to thee, O King!
from Medb and from noble Ailill,
brave their form."
"Name to me your noble request
whose fame is not small,
most sprightly handsome warrior-band,
whence soever it be." Whence...
20. "I give you my word, indeed," said Conchobar, "that I will not take terms from you, till there has been the place of my pavilion in69 every province in Ériu, as they have set up their tents, their booths, and their huts."
"Good, O Conchobar," said they, "where mayest thou take halt and encampment to-night?" "In Ros na Ríg above the clear-bright Bóind," said Conchobar. For Conchobar concealed not ever from his enemy the place in which he would take station or camp, that they might not say that it was fear or dread that caused him not to say it.
21. It is then that these proceeded to Tara southward to the place where were Cairpre Nia Fer and Find son of Ros; and those tidings were announced to them. "Good, then," said Cairpre Nia Fer, "if it is towards us that Conchobar and the Ulaid will turn their face, let Ailill and Medb come to our aid and to our help. If it is past us that they will go into the fair-headed province of Connacht, we will go to their aid and to their help."
22. So it is then that the envoys proceeded to the place where Ailill and Medb were. And when they arrived, Medb began to ask tidings from them. It is thus she was saying it, and she spoke the words:—
"Whence come the envoys?
Tell me of your journey
to Conchobar of Carn70;
waits he in Emain,
the chief of the banquets?
or is it that he comes for strife
after their bull?"
"The Ulaid wait not:
it was not right or fitting,
they resolve to watch the Bregians;
the plunders ill not be slight,
until they reach the sea,
until they work ravages
on Cairpre Nia Fer."
"They shall be running before us,
their heads shall come from their bodies
if he come from home.
I shall be here in my homesteads,
without fault and without disgrace:
for I think the Lagin enough
against the man."
"If the sons of Magach should come
the bold, warlike band,
their shooting will be gory-red
in the battle of Ros na Ríg."
"If the king of Macha come,
his colours will be turned back,
his fortunes will be overcome,
his might will be lowered."
"If our bands arrive,
a muster will be made by us,
there will be a rivalry of the fighting band
for the real combats." Whence.
23. To return to Conchobar—he came on [with] the multitude of a great army to Accal Breg and to Slige Breg71. There Ailill, a princely yeoman72, met him then. "Good then, Conchobar," said Ailill, "what is the vast number of a great army that is behind thee? and where is it your pleasure to go?" "To Ros na Ríg above the clear-bright Bóand here," said Conchobar. "That [place] is not be be secured for thee," replied Ailill, "but it is insecure. For the Galían and the Lauigne of Temair are there before thee." "It is an obligation (geis) to me to go my way," relied Conchobar. "And it is an obligation to me to go into the battle of every number73. Let a position and encampment be taken by us here for the present," said Conchobar. "Let our stations be pitched here, and let our tents be erected. Let our booths and our tents be constructed. Let preparation of food and drink be made. Let dinner and victuals be made. Let tunes and merry songs and eulogies be sung by us here."
24. Then were their positions fixed and their pavilions were pitched, their huts and their tents were made. Their fires were kindled, cooking of food and drink was made; baths of clean-bathing were made by them, and their hair was smooth-combed; their persons were minutely cleansed, supper and victuals were eaten by them; and tunes and merry songs and eulogies were sung by them.
25. "Good then, Ulaid," said Conchobar, "do we find among you one who will go to estimate and to reconnoitre the army?" "I will go," said Féic, son of Follomon, son of Fachtna Fathach. It is then that Féic, son of Follomon, son of Fachtna Fathach, went on till he reached the Fortress of the clear-bright Bóand74. Thereupon he began measuring and reconnoitring the army. And his spirit chafed greatly about them. "I will go northward now," said Féic, "to the place in which the Ulaid are, and I will tell them that the army is driving me away. The Ulaid will come from the north. Each of them will take up his station of battle and conflict and combat. The glory and the honour and the distinction of the fighting will be no greater for me afterwards than for every single man of the Ulaid. And what is there for me that I should not engage my combat at once straight away?" And he went on over across the river75 of the Bóand. And gave the grind of a lift-handed mill on them76. Their van caught (or closed on) their rear, and their right wing (joined) their left77, and the army shouted at once around him. And it was not endured [dared] by him to be against the huge army, and he came on towards the river over which he had come across. And it is not that it was leaped by him at all, but he leapt a false leap into the clear-bright Bóand. Where was the water that was deeper than elsewhere, he leaped a false leap there, so that a wave laughed over him, and he was drowned in that pool without life at all. And lasting and longlived after him was the memorial of it, for Féic's Pool78 was the name of the pool in which he drowned.
26. It seemed truly long79 to Conchobar that that man was absent. "Good, truly, Ulaid," said Conchobar, "do I find among you one who will go to estimate and to reconnoitre the army?" "I will go," said Daigi son of Daig of the Ulaid. And he went forward to the same hill of command, above the brink of the clear-bright Bóand. He began measuring and reconnoitring the army. And his spirit and his nature and his mind chafed about them in the same way, and he was saying the same [things]: "I will go northward indeed," said he, "and I will tell the Ulaid that the armies are pursing me yonder. The Ulaid will arrive from the north. Each of them will take up his station of battle and of conflict and of combat; and the glory and the honour and the distinction of the fighting will be no greater for me than for every single man of them. And I will go against the army, that I may put my combat before." It is then that he went over the river of the Bóand across, and he rushed rashly on the army. And the hosts came around him on both sides also, and a wound of lances was made of him, so that he fell by them.
27. It seemed long indeed to Conchobar that these [two] were [absent]. "Good indeed, Irgalach, son of Macclach, son of Congal, son of Rudraige, sayest though who is proper to go to estimate and to reconnoitre the army?" "Who should go there," replied Irgalach, "but Iriel, good at arms, great kneed, son of Conall Cernach. But he is a Conall for havoc, he is a Cú Chulaind for dexterity of feats. He is a Cathbad, the right-wonderful druid, for intelligence and for counsel, he is a Sencha son of Ailill for peace and for good speech, he is a Celtchair son of Uthechar for valour, he is a Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathach for kingliness and for wide-eyedness80, for giving of treasures and of wealth and of riches. Who should go except it be Iriel?" "I will go there," said Iriel. It is then that Iriel went forward to the same dominating hill, over the brink of the clear-bright Bóand. He began measuring and reconnoitring the army. His spirit, or his mind, or his thoughts did not fret over them at all. He brings their description with him to the place in which Conchobar was.
28. "How, my life Iriel?" said Conchobar. "I give [my] word truly," said Iriel, "it seems to me that there is not ford on river, nor stone on hill, nor highways nor road in the territory of Breg or Mide, that is not full of their horse-teams and of their servants. It seems to me that their apparel and their gear and their garments are the blaze of a royal house from the plain," said Iriel.
29. Conchobar said:
Is it true, what the men declare,
O valorous white-kneed Iriel,
three battalions on the plain to the left81,
before us in waiting?"
"They are in ambush before thee
in the wood that the Bóand goes round82,
three battalions of Clann Deirg83;
they blaze like fire across the plain.
"The messengers that went from us
to ascertain what strength the army is
shall not come [back] hither—an honour that is not trivial—
it is the truth of it, what they declare."
30. "Good, O Ulaid," said Conchobar, "what is your advice to us [about] this battle of ours?" "Our advice is," said the Ulaid, "to wait till our strong men and our leaders and our commanders and our supporters of battle come." Not long was their waiting and not great was the stay, till they saw three chariot-warriors84 approaching them, and a band of twelve hundred along with each rider of them. It is these that were there—three of the goodly men of science of the Ulaid, namely Cathbad the right-wonderful druid, and Aithirne the Importunate, and Amairgin the learned doctor85.
31. "Good, O warriors," said Conchobar, "what is your advice to us?" "Our advice is," said they, "to wait until our strong men and our leaders and our lords and our supporters of battle come." It is then they waited. Not great was the waiting and not long was the delay, till they saw three other riders approaching them, and a band of thirteen hundred along with each rider. It is they that came then, Eogan son of Durthacht86, and Gáine son of Daurthacht, and Carpre son of Daurthacht.
32. "What is your advice to us, O warriors?" said Conchobar. "Our advice is," said they, "to wait till our strong men and our leaders and our lords and our supporters of battle come." They waited. Not great was the waiting, and not long was the delay, till they saw three other chariot-fighters approaching them. It is they that came then, the three sons of Connad Buide [the Yellow], son of Iliach, namely Loegaire the Victorious [Buadach], and Cairell the Havoc-worker [Coscarach], and Aed of the mighty deeds.[Anglonnach] A band of fourteen hundred along with each rider of them.
33. "What is your advice to us, O warriors?" said Conchobar. "Our advice is," said they, "to wait till our strong men and our leaders and our lords and our supporters of battle come." "We have not prepared that for you, O warriors. For there is a third of the army of the Ulaid here, and there is not but a third of the army of the men of Ériu yonder," said Conchobar. "What is there for us that we should not give the battle?"
34. It is then that Conchobar rose and took his battle-gear [of battle] and of conflict and of combat too. And they went over the river of the Bóand across. And the other armies arose to them on going over the water of the Bóand across. And each of them took to hacking and to cutting down the other, and destroying and to wounding till there was no similitude of the Ulaid at that juncture of time, except it were a huge sturdy oakwood in the middle of a plain, and a great army were to go close to it; and the slender and the small of the wood were cut off, and its huge sturdy oaks were left behind. It is this that their young [and] youthful pages and their young folk were cut off, so that there were none but their champions and their battle-warriors and their good heroes of valour behind them. However, it was not borne by their young youthful pages, and a kingly brilliant dash of them burst through the battle northward.
35. It is then that Innócháin, Conchobar's shield, was battered and it moaned;so that the Three Waves of Ériu moaned, namely, the Wave of Clidna and the Wave of Rudraige and the Wave of Tuag Inbir87; so that the shields of the Ulaid all moaned at that hour, every one of them that was on their shoulders and in their chariots.
36. It is that day that it happened to the Ulaid88 to come out. And Conall happened to be in the forefront, before the armies. But though it is fleet that the horses would be that would be swifter than Conall's horses there,none of the Ulaid ventured to bring the front of his horses or his chariots past Conall. It is then that the raw recruits of the Ulaid saw the face of Conall towards them at that juncture of time; and they halted, for they were fain89 to halt. And a bush of shelter and a wreath of laurel and a hand above was Conall to them. For they were certain that there is no place in which Conall's face would be seen, in which there would be flight.
37. It is then that they went through into the wood that was nearest them, and they cut oak-branches of green oak [and put them] in the hand of every man, and they smoothed a place for their fists in them, and they raised in front90 of them those green branches of oak, and they came along with Conall towards the battle.
38. It is then it happened that by the King of the Ulaid were taken three steps of retreat out of the battle northward. Conchobar looked and scanned behind him and saw the face of Conall approaching him. "Good, O Conall," said Conchobar, "the battle on thy favour and on thy protection!" "I give [my] word truly," said Conall, "that I think it easier to give the battle by myself by far than to stay the rout now. And [it is] disaster for the king of [any] province in world, to leave him in a rout and in a stampede." And it is thus that Conall was [saying it], and he said these words then:—
"The countercharge of defeat is a man's discomfiture91;
a rout before [his] face:
earnestness of effort of weapon,, to succour:
forgetfulness of honour: running against madmen;
shouting in distress;
meeting in disaster."
39. It is then that Conall drew the sharp long sword out of its sheath of war, and played the music of his sword on the armies. The ring92 of Conall's sword was heard throughout the battalions on both sides at that moment of time. However, as soon as they heard the music of Conall's sword, their hearts quaked and their eyes fluttered, and their faces whitened, and each of them withdrew back into his place of battle and of conflict and of combat.
40. However, it is then that Conall glanced behind him, and he saw approaching him Mes Dead son of Amairgin. "Good my life," said Conall, "O Mes Dead, the battle on thy favour and on thy protection." "It is a breast against a great flood, the action of anyone under these circumstances93 at this time," replied Mes Dead. It is then that Mes Dead son of Amairgin glanced and scanned behind him; and he saw approaching him Anruth the Tall [Anruth Mór], son of Amairgin. "The battle on thy favour and on thy protection, Anruth the Tall, son of Amairgin," said Mes Dead, "till I cast my charge of anger and my tigardáil94 of war on the armies." "It is an arrow against a rock, the action of anyone under those circumstances this time," replied Anruth the Tall, son of Amairgin.
41. It is then that Anruth the Tall, son of Amairgin, looked behind him, and saw Feithen the Tall [Feithen Mór], son of Amairgin. "Good O Feithen the Tall, son of Amairgin, the battle on thy favour and on thy protection; that I too may deliver my furious charge and my tigardáil of war on the armies."
42. It is then that the tall Feithen, son of Amairgin, glanced behind him. He saw approaching him the small Feithen [Feithen Bec], son of Amairgin. "The battle on thy favour and on thy protection, O small Feithen, son of Amairgin," said the tall Feithen, "that I may cast my violence of anger and my tigardáil of fury on the armies." "It is the striking of a head against cliffs, indeed, the actions of anyone under the circumstances," replied the small Feithen.
43. It is then that the small Feithen looked behind him. He saw Aithirne the Importunate [Atherni Algessach] approaching him. "The battle on thy favour, O Aithirne the Importunate," said the small Feithen, "till I spend my onset of anger and my dangerous tigardáil [Hogan: tiger-fight] on the armies." "That were a right of my possession," [replied Aithirne], "over the possession of any others whomsoever."
44. However, it is then that Aithirne the Importunate saw Cuchulain approaching him. "The battle on thy favour, O Cú Chulain," said Aithirne the Importunate. "That were a part[?] for me," replied Cú Chulaind. That is the same as "to require of me." "But I give my word for it," said Cú Chulain, " that there is not of the Ulaid one that will turn his face to me out of this battle, but that not more strongly I will smite every man of the men of Ériu than every man of them." It is then that Cú Chulain gave a blow of his club-staff on the armies, so that they were even, and harmonious.
45. The performances of Conall here now. He came among the armies and played the music of his sword on them, till ten hundred armed men fell by him. Carpre Nia Fer heard that, the music of Conall Cernach's sword, and that was not endured by Carpre Nia Fer by any means, and he advanced to the place in which Conall was, and brought shield against shield and hand against hand and face against face, and each of them began smiting and striking the other, till there was heard a strong stroke of Carpre Nia Fer's shield under the blade of Conall's sword.
46. And the three royal poets, that the King of Temair had, arrived to aid him and to help him, namely Eochaid the Learned, and Diarmait the Songful, and Forgal the Just, and they kept up the combat against Conall. Conall looked at them. "I give my word truly," said Conall, "were you not poets and doctors you should have received death and [met] your fate by me long ago, and since it is with [for] your chief and with your lord that you bring your strife, what [reason is there] for me that I should not inflict punishment on you now?" And he gave a blow with the club-staff of battle that was in his hand at them, so that he cut their three heads off them.
47. It is then that a band of fifteen hundred of the Lúaigni of Temair came up, and came between Conall and Cairpre Nia Fer; and they carried him [Cairpre] with them in the very middle of their own battalion. Conall began smiting the army fiercely and furiously, fearfully and madly, so that he drove them from him in [their] broken bands, and in their divided fractions. So that ten hundred fell by him in the middle of the battle.
48. The King of Temair heard that, and he could not bear to be listening to the sound of Conall's sword; and he advanced to the middle of the battle, and eight hundred full-brave heroes fell by him; and he reached the place in which Conchobar was, and he brought shield against shield and hand against hand and face against face to him. And he struck his shield on Conchobar95, i,e. the Ochain, the shield of Conchobar. And as it moaned, the shields of the Ulaid all moaned. "Good truly, Ulaid," [saith Conchobar], "I knew not till to-day whether the Galían of the Lagin or the Lúaigni of Temair were braver than you are."
49. It is then that Loegaire the Victorious, son of Connad the Yellow, son of Iliach, came [with] a band of three hundred warriors, so that he upheld his combat against Cairpre Nia Fer. It is then that Fintan, son of Niall Niamglonnach went [with] a band of a hundred warriors, so that he maintained his fight against Cairpre Nia Fer,
50. It is then that thirty hundred of the Galían and of the Lúaigni of Temair came, and by them was carried off Cairpre Nia Fer in the middle of their own battalion.
51. It is then that Cuchulain sought for the armies and for Cairpre Nia Fer. And he went against him, and brought shield against shield to him, and brought hand against hand and face against face.
It is then that Cairpre Nia Fer plied his strength upon Cu Chulaind and clasped his two hands about his weapons outside, and launched the cast of a throw [over] the battalions of the Galían. It is then that Cu Chulaind went through the [battalions] out without bleedings, without wounding [on him]. It is then that Laeg son of Riangabair met him, with the charmed, right-good arms of Cu Chulaind in his hand, namely, the hard-headed Cruadin96 and the terrifying Duaibsech, that is, his own spear, in his hand. He waved and brandished it, he shook and adjusted it, and he launched a cast of a throw of it from him then towards Cairpre Nia Fer, so that it pitched in his breast and in his bosom, and pierced his heart in his chest, and cleft his back in two. His body had not reached ground, when Cu Chulaind made a spring towards it and cut his head off him. And he shook his [Cairpre's] head97 towards the armies then.
52. It is then that Sencha son of Ailill rose and shook the branch of peace, and the Ulaid stood still. And the Galían went under Find son of Ros, and put shield across track behind them98. And Iriel the good at arms, the great-kneed, son of Conall Cernach, pursued them. And he began smiting and cutting down the army southward in every direction. It is then that Fidach the Wrathful of the Wood of Gaible turned upon him, and gave battle and combat on a ford to him. "Long [is] the reach that the Ulaid are making towards us," said the province of the Lagin. And it is from this that Rige Lagen is the name of that river.
53. It is then that the Ulaid went on to Temair that night, and they rattled there till the end of the seven days of the week. And it was at the end of a week that they heard the roll of the chariots, and the hoof-striking of the horses, and the straining of the traces, and the deed-striking of the swords, and the trooping of the vast army towards the place. It is he that was there—Erc son of Cairpre and son of Feidelm Noi-cruthach99 daughter of Conchobar. "Good, O son," said Conchobar, "take my blessing and be obedient to me100." It is thus that he was saying it, and he said these words:—
"Take my blessing, be obedient to me,
do not thyself make opposition to us.
If thou givest us strong against strong
I am certain that thou shalt fall be us.
War not with the Hound of the feats,
inflict not strife on the race of thy ancestors,
that thou mayest not be cut down about division of territories
as is Cairpre Nia Fer.
[It is] of the prohibitions of the King of Temair in the East,
since the reign of Cermna101 without partiality—
famous the tale which is spread through all—
to fight against us till doom, howsoever it be." Take.
55. Peace was made between Erc, son of Cairpre, and Cu Chulaind; and Fínscoth, Cu Chulaind's daughter, was given to him for wife. And they came at the end of a week to behold the slaughter, to the bank of the Bóand. "We were here on a day," saith Conchobar, "and it was a sad affair for him who was here, namely, for Cairpre Nia Fer, and it was a vain struggle against him, and if it had not been [for] Conall, it is we that should have been defeated." And he spoke the words:—
"We were on a day—it seems splendid to us—
in the country of Temair south of the Bóand:
there was [contention] above the high hill
on our chiefs there was terror.
Were it not Conall Cernach the cross-eyed102,
we should have been defeated:
on the plain on this side—
it is on it that he took position.
It was vain to contend with him,
to repel Cairpre of wide knowledge;
[it was] numbers truly that defeated him;
until that day, that slew him." We were.
57. They came on to Temair again. "Goodly indeed [was] he that was here with his brethren. Ériu was theirs." And he said the words:—
"The three sons of Ros Ruad the king—
they held the land by battalions awhile,
Find in Alend, Ailill in Cruach,
Cairpre in the north in Temair Breg.
Together they used to perform their deed [of arms]
the three brothers, in every strife;
together they used to give their battle;
one pig's litter [?] was theirs.
They were three pillars of gold
about their hills, abiding the strength,
it is a gap in their grasp of battle,
since the third son has fallen." The three.
Therefrom [originated] the expedition of the battle of Findchora103 and the great sea voyage among the Connachta104, and the Battle of the Youths105.
Sources : Rev. Edmund Hogan, Todd Lecture Series 1