The Fate of the children of Tuireann

Aided chloinne Tuireann

Trans. E. O'Curry



A comely freeborn king took sovereignty and rule over the beautiful-complexioned Tuatha Dé Danann ; his name was Nuadha Airgedlamh [that is, Nuadha of the Silver Arm], the son of Echtach, the son of Edarlamh, the son of Ordan, the son of Ionnaoi. And that king was [remarkable for two things] : he had an arm of silver ; and he had for door-keeper a young man with but one eye.

Now it happened one day that this young man went out beyond the walls of Tara ; he saw two beautiful noble-faced youths coming over the green towards him ; and they saluted him, and he saluted them in return. And the door-keeper asked news of them : "What place have ye come from, ye two noble-faced youths ?" [said he]. "We are good doctors," said they. "If ye are good doctors," said he, "ye will put an eye in the place of my lost eye." "I could put the eye of that cat in your lap into the place of your eye," said one of them. "I should like that well," said the door-keeper. And so they put the cat's eye into the place of the young man's [lost] eye.

This [turned out to be] a convenience and an inconvenience to him : for, when he wished to sleep or take rest, then the eye would start at the squeaking of the mice and the flying of the birds, and the motion of the rushes ; and when he wished to watch a host or an assembly, it was then it was surely in deep repose and sleep with him.

However, he went in and told the king that excellent doctors had come to Tara : "For they have put a cat's eye in the place of my eye," said he. "Bring them in," said the king.

And as they came in they heard a deep, piteous groan. Then Miach, one of the doctors, said : "I hear the groan of a champion." Oirmiach [the other] said : "See if it is not the groan of a champion over a chafer, which is blackening him on one side."

Then the king was brought forth from where he was, and they examined him ; and one of them drew his arm out from his side, and a chafer darted out of it, and ran through the court ; and the household arose and killed the chafer.

And Miach then made another arm of its length and thickness for him ; and all the Tuatha Dé Danann were sought, and no arm was found that would serve him but the the arm of Modhan the swine-herd. "Would the bones of his own arm [i.e. of the arm of this very man] serve you ?" said the people. "It is what we should prefer," said they. And a person set out to fetch it, and brought it with him to Tara ; and it was given to Miach. Miach said to Oirmiach : "Are you willing to set the arm, or to go to bring herbs for the purpose of putting flesh upon it ?" "I prefer to set the arm," said he. Miach then went to seek herbs, and returned with them ; and the arm was set without defect.

The state of things [in the time] of this king was this : the Fomorians enforced a great tribute and rule over the Tuatha Dé Danann in his time ; such as a tribute upon the kneading trough ; and a tribute upon the quern ; and a tribute upon the baking flags; and a [poll tax calculated at] an ounce of gold for every nose of the Tuatha Dé Danann, on the hill of Uisnech on the west side of Tara. And they extorted this tribute every year ; and if any man neglected to pay it, his nose was taken off from his face.

At this time the Fair Assembly was held by the King of Erinn on Balar's Hill, which is now called Uisneach. And the people had not been long assembled there before they saw the array of a goodly army coming over the plain from the east towards them ; and one young man came in the front of that army, high in command over the rest ; and like to the setting sun was the splendour of his countenance and his forehead ; and they were not able to look in his face from the greatness of its splendour.

And he was Lug Lamh-fada [i.e. Lug of the long arms and furious blows], and [his army was] the Fairy Cavalcade from the Land of Promise, and his own fosterbrothers, the sons of Manannan, namely, Sgoith Gleigeal, son of Manannan; and Rabhach Slaitin ; and Gleigeal Garbh ; and Goithne Gorm Shiuleach; and Siné Sindearg; and Domhnall Donnruadh ; and Aedh the son of Eathall. And thus was the personal array of Lug of the Long-arms, namely : the Aenbharr of Manannan was under him, and she was as fleet as the naked cold wind of spring, and sea and land were the same to her, and [the charm was such that] her rider was never killed off her back ; and he wore Manannan's Luirech ["Lorica"] upon him ; and [its charm was such that] no one could be wounded below it nor above it ; and he wore Manannan s Brest-piece upon the ridge of his Brest and front, so that no weapon could pierce him ; and he had a helmet upon his head to protect it, with a beautiful precious stone set behind in it, and two of them in its front ; and as bright as the sun on a dry summer's day was the complexion of his face and forehead when he took this helmet off; and he had the Freagarthach ["Retaliator"], Manannan's sword, at his side ; and [its charm was such that] it never wounded any one who could come away alive from it [i.e. no one survived a wound from it] ; and that sword was never bared on the scene of a battle or combat, in which so much strength as that of a woman in childbirth would remain to any person who saw the sword who was opposed to it [i.e. no one opposed by that sword seemed to have any greater strength].

Then came that array to where the king of Erinn was, and the Tuatha Dé Danann. And they exchanged welcomes.

And they were not long there before they saw a gloomy grim-looking body of men coming towards them, namely, nine times nine of the collectors of the Fomorians who were coming to demand taxes and tributes of the men of Erinn. The following are the names of the fiercest and most cruel four of them ; viz., Eine, and Eathfaith, Coron, and Compar ; and so great was the fear of the Tuatha Dé Danann of these collectors, that not one of them dare inflict punishment even on his own son or his foster-son.

And they came to the presence of the king of Erinn, and the Fairy Cavalcade ; and the king of Erinn and all the Tuatha Dé Danann stood up before them. And Lug of the Long Arms asked of them : "Why did ye stand up before that gloomy grim-looking body of men, and not have stood up before us ?"

"We are obliged to do this," said the king of Erinn, "for if there were but a month-old child of us sitting before them, they would not deem it cause too little to kill us."

"By my word," said Lug, "I feel a great desire to kill them" ; and then Lug said [again] that the desire to kill them came [strongly] upon him.

"That would be a deed to bring evil to us," said the king of Erinn, "for we should meet our own death and destruction through it."

"It is a long time that ye have been under this oppression," said Lug. And he started up [and attacked the Fomorians], slaughtering and disfiguring them, until he had killed eight times nine of them ; but the remaining nine he allowed to receive sanctuary under the dignity and protection of the king of Erinn. "I should kill you also," said Lug, "but that I prefer that you should go with advice to the foreigners rather than my own messengers, lest they should receive dishonour."

And then these nine went forth until they reached the country of Lochlainn, where the Fomorian people were ; and they related to them their story from beginning to end ; and how the young noble-faced boy had come into Erinn, and all the collectors had been killed by him but themselves ; "and" [said they], "the reason that he allowed us to escape was, in order that we might relate the story to you."

Thereupon Balar said : "Do ye know who he is ?" "I know," said Céithlionn, Balar's wife ; "he is a daughter's son of yours and mine ; and it is presaged and prophesied for us, that when he should come into Erinn [i.e. from that time forth], we should never again have power in Erinn."

Then the chief men of the Fomorians went into a council, namely : Eab, the grandson of Neid; and Seanchab, the grandson of Neid ; and Sotal Salmhór ; and Luaith-Leabhatchaim ; and Tinné Mór of Triscadal ; and Loisginn Lomghlúineach ; and Luaith Luaimneach ; and Lobais the Druid ; and Liathlabhar, the son of Lobais ; and the nine deeply-learned poets and prophetic philosophers of the Fomorians ; and Balar of the Stout Blows himself; and the twelve white-mouthed sons of Balar ; and Ceithleann the crooked-toothed, Balar's Queen. And it was then Bres the son of Balar said : "I shall go with seven valiant and great battalions of the horsemen of the Fomorians into Erinn ; and I shall give battle to the Ildanach [master of all arts] ; and I shall cut off his head, and I shall bring it unto you upon the green of the Lochlainn Berbhé." "It would well become you to do so," said they.

And then Bres said : "Let my ships and my swift barques be made ready for me ; and let food and stones be put into them." And then they quickly and actively handled his ships and his swift barques ; and they put an abundance of food and drink into them ; and Luaithlineach and Luaithleabharcham were sent to assemble his army to him. And when they had all assembled together they prepared their habiliments, and their armour, and their weapons of valour ; and they set out forward towards Erinn.

And Balar followed them to the port, and he said: "Give battle to the Ildanach, and cut off his head ; and tie that Island which is called Eire at the sterns of your ships and your good barques, and let the dense verging water take its place, and place it upon the north side of Lochlainn, and not one of the Tuatha Dc Danann will ever follow it there.

And then they pushed out their ships and their swift barques from the port ; and they filled them with pitch, and with frankincense, and with myrrh ; and they hoisted their sliding variegated sailing-cloths; and they made a sudden start from the harbour and the shore-port, along the land that is not cultivated, and out upon the wide-lying sea, and upon the wonderful abyss, and upon the ridge-backs of the deluge ; and upon the wet-high, cold-venomed mountains of the truly-deep ocean ; and they never slackened from that sailing-course until they reached harbour and shore-port at Eas Dara. And they sent forth an army through West Connacht, and they totally devastated it.

And he who was King of Connacht at this time was Bodb Derg the son of the Dagda.

And Lug of the Long Arms was at that time at Tara, along with the King of Erinn. And it was revealed to him that the Fomorians had landed at Eas Dara. And upon Lug's receiving this intelligence he prepared Manannan's Aonbharr, at the junction of the day and night ; and then he went into where the King of Erinn was, and told him that the foreigners had landed at Eas Dara, and that they had plundered Bodb Derg ; "and" [said he], "I am desirous to obtain assistance from you to give them battle."

"I shall not give it," said the King, "for a deed that has not been done against me I shall not go to avenge."

Now when Lug of the Long Arms heard this evil answer, he went on horseback and rode from Tara westwards. And soon he perceived three warriors, armed and accoutred, approach him (and these were the three sons of Cainté) ; and they saluted him.

"Why this thy early rising ?" said they. "Great is my cause," said Lug, "namely, that foreigners have come into Erinn and have plundered Bodb Derg, the son of the Dagda ; and what assistance will ye give me ?" "We will," said they, "ward off an hundred warriors, each man of us, from thee in the battle." "That is a good help," said he, "but there is a help which I should prefer to receive from you, even rather than that ; namely, to assemble the Fairy Cavalcade to me from all the places in which they are."

And then Cu and Ceithen went to the South, and Cian set out northwards, and he rested not till he reached Magh Murtemné. And as he was traversing the plain it was not long before he saw three warriors, armed and mailed, before him, walking on the plain ; and these were the three sons of Tuireann, whose names were Brian, and Iucharba, and Iuchar. And the state of things between the three sons of Cainté and the three sons of Tuireann was, that they were in hatred and enmity towards each other ; so that wherever they met each other, it was impossible to avoid a deadly contest, such that only the strongest should survive it.

Then Cian said : "If my two brothers had been here, what a brave fight we should make ; but since they are not, it is good counsel for me to retreat." And he perceived a large herd of swine near him ; and he struck himself with a druidic wand into the form of a pig of the herd ; and he began to root up the ground like every one of the other pigs.

And then Brian, the son of Tuireann, said : "My brethren," said he, "have you seen the warrior who was walking the plain awhile ago ?" "We have seen him," said they. "What has taken him away ?" said he. "We know not," said they. "It is cowardice in you," said he, "not to exercise proper vigilance, in time of war, over the plains and open country ; and I know what has carried him away ; for he has stricken himself [with the golden wand] into the form of a pig of these pigs ; and he is rooting up the ground like any pig of the other pigs ; and he is no friend of ours." "This is bad for us," said the other two ; "for the pigs belong to some one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and even if we kill them all, it may happen that the druidic pig might escape after all."

"Badly have ye acquired your learning in the city of learning," said Brian, "when you cannot distinguish a druidical beast from a natural beast." And as he was saying this, he struck his own two brothers with a metamorphosing druidical wand, and he turned them into two tender fleet hounds ; upon which they howled impatiently upon the trail of the druidical pig.

And it was not long until the druidical pig fell out from the other pigs ; and no other fled by she alone ; and she saw a wooded grove, and made for it ; and at her entering the wood, Brian gave a cast of his spear at her, and drove it through the trunk of her chest. And the pig screamed and said : "Ill is the deed you have done, to have cast at me, since ye have known me." "Methinks that this is human language you have," said Brian. "I am originally a human being," said he, "and I am Cian, the son of Cainté ; give me quarter." "We shall indeed," said Iucharba and Iuchar, "and we regret what has happened thee."

"I swear by my aerial gods," said Brian, "that if the life returned seven times to thee, I shall deprive thee of it." "Well, then," said Cian. "grant me a request." "We shall grant it," said Brian. "Allow me to pass into my own shape," said Cian. "We shall allow it," said Brian, "for I often feel less reluctant to kill a man than a pig."

And Cian then assumed his own shape, and said : "Give me manly quarter now," said he. "We shall not give it," said Brian. "Well then I have deceived you," said Cian, "for, if it had been in the shape of a pig ye had slain me, there could be but the fine for a pig paid for me ; but as it is in my own shape I shall be killed, there never was killed, and there never shall be killed, a person for whom a greater fine shall be paid than me ; and the weapons with which I shall be slain shall recount the deed to my son."

"It is not with arms you shall be slain. but with the surface stones of the earth," said Brian. And after that they pelted him in a variety of ways with stones, fiercely and roughly, until they reduced the champion to an insignificant, crushed mass ; and they buried him a man's height in the earth ; and the earth did not receive that fratricide from them, but cast him above the surface of the earth again.

Brian said that it should go again into the earth ; and he was buried again the second time ; and the earth again did not receive him. In short, the Children of Tuireann buried the body six different times, and the earth rejected it ; and the seventh time that they put him under ground, the mould received him. And the Children of Tuireann went forward after Lug of the Long Arms, towards the battle.

To return to Lug. Upon parting with his father, he went forward from Tara westwards to Gaircech and Ilgairech and to Ath Luain Mic Luighdhich ; and to Bearna na hEadargana which is now called Ros-Commain ; and over Magh Luirg ; and to Corr-Shliabh na Seaghsa ; and to the head of Sean-Shliabh, which now is called Ceis Chorann ; and through the territory of the bright-faced Corann ; and from that to Magh Mor an Aonaigh, where the foreigners were, and the spoils of Connacht in their hands.

Then arose Bres, the son of Balar, and he said : "It is a wonder to me," said he, "that the sun should rise in the west to-day, and in the east every other day." "It were better that it were so," said the Druids. "What else is it ?" said he. "The radiance of the face of Lug of the Long Arms," said they.

And then the Ildanach came unto them and saluted them. "What is the cause of thy salutation ?" said they. "Great is the cause of my saluting you," said he, "for there is but one-half of me of the Tuatha Dé Danann (blood), and one-half of me of you ; therefore now restore to me the milch cows of the men of Erinn," said he.

"May early good luck not come to you," said a man of them, angrily and valiantly answering him, "until you obtain either a dry or a milch cow here." And then Lug cast a druidical spell upon the [cattle-]spoils, and sent its own milch cows [home] to the door of every house in Erinn ; and he left them the dry ones, so that they should not leave that territory until the Fairy Cavalcade should overtake them.

And Lug remained three days and three nights about them, until the Fairy Cavalcade had arrived and sat around Lug.

And Bodb Derg, son of the Dagda, came with twenty-nine hundred [men] to them, and said : "What is the cause of your delay from giving the battle ?" "Waiting for you," said Lug.

He [Lug] then put on Manannan's Luirech ; and [its charm was such that] the man upon whom it should be could not be wounded through it, nor below it, nor above it. He put on Manannan's Brest-piece at the small of his neck ; and he put on his helmet, which was called the Cénnbhearr; and his countenance had the radiance of the sun, from the reflection of the helmet ; and he took his black-blue, splendid-coloured, broad-sheltering, chafer-marked shield upon the arch-slope of his back, to shelter his body ; and he took his shadowy, truly-handsome, close-edged sword upon his left side ; and he took his two wide-socketed, thick-handled, hard-venomed spears, which had been annealed [tempered] in the blood of poisonous adders. And the kings and chiefs of the men of Erinn took their array of battle and combat upon them ; and they raised pointed forests of spears over their heads ; they made perfectly firm fences of their shields around them.

And then they attacked Magh Mor an Aonaigh, and the foreigners responded to them ; and they threw their wounding, whizzing spears at each other ; and after having shivered their spears, they drew their broad-edged, gold-cross swords from their blue-bordered scabbards, and they commenced to strike each other bravely ; and forests of brown flames arose above them, from the poison of the arms and the many edged weapons of these brave men.

And then Lug saw the battle-pen in which was Bres, the son of Balar, and he attacked him fiercely and wrathfully ; and he fell to bravely strike these brave men, until two hundred champions of these body guards of the son of Balar fell by him in his presence.

And then Bres bound Lug to [i.e., charged Lug to give him] quarter. "Grant my life," said he, "this time ; and I will bring over the Fomorian race to you to the Battle of Mag Tured, and I will give you the sun and the moon, the sea and the land, as guarantee upon myself, not to come to fight against you again, unless I lose all the Fomorian race now." And upon these guarantees he gave him safetyof his life.

And then the Druids said that Lug ought to grant themselves safety of their lives. "I give my word," said Lug, "that if the entire Fomorian race had gone under your protection, they should not be destroyed by me." And then Bres, the son of Balar, and the Druids went forth to seek their own country.

As regards Lug. After the trophies and victory of that battle, he perceived two of his friends, and he asked them if they had seen his father in the battle. "We have not," said they. "Could it be the Fomorians that killed him ?" said Lug. "It was not," said they. "He lives not," said Lug, "and I give my word for it, that neither food nor drink shall enter my mouth until I have received knowledge of what kind of death my father has met."

And so Lug, accompanied by the Fairy Cavalcade, went forward until they reached the place at which he [and his father] had parted from each other ; and from that to the place at which he [the father] had gone into the shape of a pig upon his recognising the Children of Tuireann.

And here the ground spoke to Lug, and said : "Great was the danger in which thy father was here, O Lug, upon his seeing the Children of Tuireann, for he was forced to go into the shape of a pig ; [however, they killed him in his own shape.]"

And Lug told this to his companions, and he fixed upon the spot in which his father was, and he went to it and ordered it to be dug up, in order that he should know in what way the Children of Tuireann had slain him.

And the body was raised out of the grave, and they fell to examine his wounds [and he was found to be a litter of wounds], upon which Lugaidh said : "This is a murderous death which the Children of Tuireann have inflicted on my beloved father." And he kissed him thrice, and said : "Ill am I from this death, for I cannot hear anything through my ears, and I cannot see anything through my eyes ; and there is not one pulse living in my heart, for grief of my father ; and ye gods, whom I adore," said he, "I grieve that I was not present when this deed was perpetrated. And it is a great deed that has been done here," said Lug, "namely, that the Tuatha Dé Danann have committed a fratricide upon one another ; and long shall be its loss to them" ; and he spoke this following oration :


A dreadful fate did Cian meet at even !
It has dismembered my body, - the mangling of the hero.
The road sometime eastwards ; the sod for a time westwards,
Erinn shall never be but in evil,

Through the killing of Cian, the champion of accomplished feats,
My vigour is overpowered,
My face has become black,
My senses have declined.

His grave is laid low ;
The Children of Tuireann have killed him.
Disabled shall be the Tuatha Dé Danann from this deed,
In anguish of strength and debility.


[Then] Cian was placed under the mound again ; and after that his tombstone was raised over his tomb, and his lamentation games were performed ; and his name was written in Ogham.

"It is from Cian this mound shall be named," said Lug, and he spoke the following poem :


From Cian shall this mound be named.
Though he [himself] is now in a dismantled place
Great is the deed that has been here perpetrated,
A fratricide upon the Tuatha Dé Danann.

The sons of Tuireann it was that committed this deed,
I tell you the truth ;
I say unto you it is not false news ;
It shall fall upon their grand and great-grandsons!

The three sons of Cianté — brave the party !
And the Children of Tuireann Begreann,
From this has come the death of Cian,
That they were equally high in degree.

Broken is my heart in my Brest,
Since the champion Cian lives not ;
For the sons of Dealbhaeth 'tis no false tale
That they shall be all cast into anguish.


After this poem Lug said : "Ill shall the Tuatha Dé Danann fare of this deed; and long shall fratricide continue to be perpetrated in Erinn after it. And pitiful is my condition from this deed, which the Children of Tuireann had perpetrated." And he ordered his people : "Go ye to Tara, where the King of Erinn and the Tuatha Dé Danann are," said he, "and do not divulge these things there, until I have divulged them myself"

When Lug reached Tara, he sat nobly and honourably at the shoulder of the King of Erinn. And Lug looked around him, and he saw the three sons of Tuireann ; and these were [of all men] the three of the best activity and hand-feats, the most beautiful and the most honoured that were in Tara at that time ; and the best of hand in the battle against the Fomorians.

And then Lug ordered the Chain of Attention of the Court to be shaken, and it was so done ; and they all listened. [And] Lug said : "What is your attention all upon now, O Tuatha Dé Danann ?" "It is upon thee indeed," said they. "A question I ask of you nobly," said he, "what would be the vengeance each of you would take upon him that should kill the father of each of you ?"

A great astoundment seized upon every one, upon their hearing this ; and the King of Erinn answered him first, and thus spoke he : "We know it is not your father that has been killed ?"

"It is indeed," said Lug, "and I see in the house now the party who killed him ; and they know themselves the way in which they killed him better than I."

[Then] the King of Erinn said : "It is not the killing of one day I myself would visit upon the person who should kill my father, but to cut one of his members off every day one after another, until he had fallen by me, should he be in my power." All the nobles said the same, and the Children of Tuireann like the rest.

"There are making this declaration," said Lug, "the three persons who have killed my father ; and let them pay me fine (eric) for him, since the Tuatha Dé Danann are all in one house ; and if they do not, I shall not violate the Law of the King of Erinn, nor his sanctuary ; however, they shall not attempt to leave the House of Miodh-Chuairt until they have settled with me."

"If I myself had killed your father," said the King of Erinn, "I should deem it well, [i.e., I should be well content,] that you accepted a fine from me for him."

"It is towards us Lug says this," said the Children of Tuireann among themselves ; "and let us acknowledge the killing of his father to him ," said Iuchar and Iucharba, "for it is to seek the account of his father he has remained until now, until he has obtained a knowledge of his death."

"We may fear," said Brian, "that it is seeking an admission from us he is in the presence of all the rest, and that he would not accept a fine from us afterwards." "We shall," said the other sons, "give him admission [i.e., admit it to him,] and do you give it openly, since you are the oldest." "I will give it," said Brian. And with that Brian, the son of Tuireann, said : "It is towards us you say this, O Lug, these three of us, for we are they whom you supposed before now to have arisen in combat against the sons of Cainté ; and yet we have not killed your father, although we shall give a fine for him the same as if we had performed the deed."

"I shall receive a fine from you for him, though ye do not think it," said Lug ; "and I shall name it here ; and if ye think it too great, ye shall have remission of part of it." "Let us hear it from thee," said they. "Here it is," said Lug, "namely, three apples ; and the skin of a pig ; and a spear ; and two steeds ; and a chariot ; and seven pigs ; and a puppy dog ; and a cooking spit ; and three shouts upon a hill ; and that is the fine which I demand," said he ; "and if ye think it too great, part of it shall be remitted you presently here ; and if you do not think it too great, pay it from you."

"We do not think it too great," said Brian, son of Tuireann, "nor its hundredfold, as an eric ; and we the more suspect your having a treacherous and murderous design in reserve for us, from its smallness as a fine."

"I do not deem what I have named as a fine, too little," said Lug ; "and I shall give you the guarantee of the Tuatha Dé Danann, to ask no more, and to be faithful to you for ever ; and give ye the same guarantee to me." "This is a pity," said the Children of Tuireann, "for of the guarantees of the world for you, we are not too little [i.e. insufficient] ourselves." "I do think it too little," said Lug, "for it is often your sort have promised to pay a fine in this way, in the presence of all the people, and would [i.e. would yet endeavour to] go back of it again."

The Children of Tuireann then gave [i.e. bound themselves to] the King of Erinn, and Bodb Derg, the son of the Dagda, and the nobles of the Tuatha Dé Danann besides, as guarantees for payment of that fine to Lug.

"It is better that I should now," said Lug, "give you a knowledge of the fine." "It is better, indeed," said they.

"Well then," said Lug, "the three apples which I have demanded from you are three Apples from the Garden of the Hesperides, in the east of the world ; and no other apples but these will do for me ; for these are the most gifted and beautiful apples in the world ; and the description of them is this : they are of the colour of burnished gold ; and the head of a month-old child is not larger than each apple of them ; and they have the taste of honey when eaten ; and they heal up the effects of bloody wounds or malignant disease in any person who eats part of them ; and they are not diminished by being constantly eaten for ever ; and every one who casts an apple of them performs (by it) whatever feat he desires, and it comes back to him again ; and though brave you be, you three champions, you have not, what I do not regret for your sakes, the power to carry away these apples from the people who have them ; because it has been foretold to them, that three young knights from the west of Europe would go to deprive them of them by force [and they will be on their guard].

The pig's skin, now, which I have demanded of you, is the skin of the Pig of Tuis, the king of Greece ; and it cures and perfectly heals all the wounded and diseased persons of the world, be they in ever so great danger, if it only overtakes the life in them ; and such was the nature of that pig that every stream of water through which it might pass would be converted into wine for nine days ; and every wound which it touched was healed ; and the Druids of Greece told them [the Greeks] that it was not [the pig] herself that had this virtue, but her skin ; and they had it skinned, and they have its skin ever since ; and I think, too, that it will not be easy to obtain it either with or without consent.”

“And do ye know what spear it is I have demanded of ye ?" "We do not," said they. "An excellent poisoned spear, of which Pisear the King of Persia [is possessed] : Ar-éadbair it is called ; and every choicest deed is performed with it ; and its blade is always in a pot of water, in order that it should not [by its fiery heat] melt down the city in which it is kept ; and it is difficult to obtain it.”

"And do ye know what two steeds and chariot I should wish to receive from ye ?" "We do not know," said they. "They are two noble wonderful steeds of Dobar, the King of Sicily ; and [such is their nature that] sea and land is equally convenient to them ; and there are not swifter or stronger steeds than they ; and there is no chariot of equal goodness in form and firmness.”

"And do ye know which are the seven pigs that I have demanded from ye ? They are the pigs of Easal, King of the Golden Pillars," said Lug ; "and though they are killed every night they are found alive the next day ; and every person that eats part of them shall not have disease or ill-health.”

"And the hound-whelp which I demanded of you is, namely, a whelp of the Kins of Ioruaidhe and Failinis is her name ; and all the wild beasts of the world that she should see, they would fall down out of their standing ; she is more splendid than the sun in his fiery wheels ; and it is difficult to obtain her.

The cooking spit which I have demanded of ye is, namely, a spit of the spits of the women of Inis Fianchuiré.

And the three shouts which I have demanded of ye to give upon a hill are, namely, to give three shouts on Cnoc Miodhchaoin, in the north of Lochlainn ; and it is prohibited to Miodhchaoin and his sons to suffer shouts to be given upon that hill ; and it was with these my father received his [military] education ; and though I should forgive him to you, they would not with their consent ; and though you should succeed in all your adventures until you reach them, I am of opinion that they would avenge him upon you.”

"And that is the fine that I have demanded of you," said Lug.

Silence and astonishment fell upon the Children of Tuireann at the naming of this fine. And they went to where their father was, and told him of this oppression. "These are bad tidings," said Tuireann ; "and ye shall have death and permanent destruction inflicted upon ye in seeking for that fine ; and it is just that it should so happen you. And yet notwithstanding that, if Lug himself wished it, ye could work out the fine ; and [all] the men of the world could not procure it but by the powers of Manannan or Lug. Therefore go ye and ask the loan of the Aonbharr Mhanannain of him [Lug] and if he expects to obtain the fine, he will give you the steed ; and if he does not expect it, he will not give her to you, but what he will say is, that she does not belong to him, and that he would not give the loan of a loan away ; and then ask him for the loan of Manannans Curach [canoe], that is, the Scuabtuinné, and he will give you that, for it is prohibited to him not to give the second request from him ; and the Curach is better for you than the steed."

And then the Children of Tuireann went to where Lug was ; and they saluted him ; and they said that they could not procure that fine without his own assistance ; and that they should like for that reason to get from him a loan of the Aonbharr Mhanannain.

"I have not that steed myself," said Lug, "but upon loan, and I shall not give a loan of the loan away."

"If so, give us a loan of Manannan's Curach," said Brian, son of Tuireann. "I shall give it," said Lug. "What place is it in ?" said they. "At Brugh na Boinné, said Lug.

And they came again to where Tuireann was, and Eithné the daughter of Tuireann, their sister ; and they told them that they had obtained the Curach. "It is not much ye will be the better of obtaining it," said Tuireann ; "however, Lug is desirous to have every part of this fine that could be available for him against the battle of Mag Tured, to be brought to him ; and that which would not be available for him, that is yourselves, he would be very glad that ye should fall at last in seeking it."

They then set forward, and left Tuireann in sorrow and lamentation ; and Eithné accompanied them to the port in which the Curach was. And Brian went into the Curach, and he said : "There is room for but one other person along with me here ;" and he began to grumble at its narrowness. "It is prohibited to the Curach to be grumbled at in that way," said Eithné; "and, my beloved brothers," said Eithné, "that was a lamentable deed ye committed, to kill the father of Lug of the Long Arms ; and every evil whatever that shall come upon ye in consequence of it is but just;" and she made this lay :


- Lamentable the deed ye have committed,
You generous fair-haired youths ;
The father of Lug of the Long Arms
To kill, is in my mind indeed an evil.

- O Eithné ! do not say so ;
Active is our cheerfulness, brave our deeds;
We prefer an hundred times to be killed
Than to die like unheroic cowards.

- Search ye lands and islands,
Till ye reach the borders of the Red Sea ;
To drive you out of Erinn, alas !
There is not a deed more lamentable.


After these words, this warrior band pushed their canoe out from the beautiful, clear-bayed borders of Erinn. "What course shall we now first take ?" said they. "We shall go to seek the apples," said Brian, "as they are the first that were demanded from us. Accordingly we demand of thee, thou canoe of Manannan, which art under us, to sail with us to the garden of the Hesperides."

And this command was not neglected by the canoe, as was its custom, for it sailed forward in its career upon the tops of the green-sided waves, straight across all abysses, until it reached harbour and shore-port in the lands of the Hesperides.

And upon their arriving there, Brian asked of his brothers : "In what way do ye desire to approach the garden of the Hesperides now ? for I think," said he, "the royal champions and warriors of the country are always guarding it, and [with] the king himself as chief over them." "What should we do," said the other brothers, "but make directly to attack them, and carry the apples away from them, or fall ourselves in the attempt ; since it is not fated for us to escape these dangers which impend over us, without dying in some place."

"Instead of that," said Brian, "we [should rather] prefer that our fame and our renown should be proclaimed aloud upon us, and that our cunning and our valour should be recounted after us, rather than that folly and cowardice should be charged aloud upon us. And, accordingly, the counsel best for us to take on this occasion is, to go in the shape of strong, swift hawks towards this garden ; and its guardians have nothing but their light missive weapons to cast at us ; and take you care that these pass you by, with agility and full activity ; and when they shall have thrown what they have ready and fit to be thrown, descend ye upon the apples, and carry off each man an apple of them ; and if I can, I shall take two apples with me, that is an apple in my talons, and an apple in mouth."

They applauded this counsel ; and Brian struck them with a transforming druidical wand, each of the three, and transformed them into beautiful, wonderful hawks. And they went forth towards the apples ; and the guarding party perceived them ; and they shouted upon all side of them ; and they threw angry, poisonous showers [of missiles] at them ; and these were upon their guard, as Brian had charged them, until the guarding party had cast all their missive weapons ; and then they swept down upon the apples courageously ; and Brian carried off two apples of them, and each man of the other two an apple ; and they returned safely without bleeding or red wounding.

And this news spread throughout the city and through the land in general. And this king had three cunning, wise daughters ; and they put themselves into the shapes of three taloned ospreys ; and they pursued the hawks into the sea ; and they let fly shafts of lightning after them and before them ; and these lightnings were scorching them greatly.

"Pity the condition that we are in now," said the Children of Tuireann, "for we are being scorched by these lightnings, if we do not obtain some relief" "If I could," said Brian, "I would give you relief." And he struck himself with the transforming druidical wand, and also his two brothers ; and he turned them into two swans, and himself into another swan ; and they darted down into the sea ; and the ospreys went away from them then, and the Children of Tuireann went to their canoe.

After this they resolved in council to go to Greece to seek the skin of the pig, by consent or by force ; and they went forward until they came near the court of the King of Greece.

"In what shape should we go to this place ?" said Brian. "In what shapes should we go there," said the other sons, "but in our own shapes." "It is not so it appears best to me," said Brian, "but to go in the shape of poets and professional men of Erinn : for it is so our honour and our respect will be the greater among the noble bloods of Greece." "That is hard for us to do," said they, "when we have no poem ; and as little do we know how to compose one."

However, they put the tie of poets upon their hair, and they struck the door of the court. And the doorkeeper asked who was there. "We are professional men [poets] of Erinn," said Brian, "who have come with a poem to the king."

The doorkeeper therefore went to inform the king that there were poets from Erinn at the door. "Let them be admitted," said the king ; "for it is in search of a good man [patron] they have come so far from their own country to this." And the king commanded that the court should be put into proper order to receive them, that they might be able to say that they had seen no place as grand as it in their travels.

The Children of Tuireann were admitted then, in the shape of men of poetry ; and they fell to drinking and making happy at once ; and they thought that there was not in the world, and that they had never seen, a court so good as that, nor a household so numerous, nor met with so much warm attention to themselves.

Then arose the king's men of poetry to sing their lays and their poems for the people. And then Brian, son of Tuireann, desired his brothers to sing a poem for the king. "We have no poem," said they, "and do not you require of us but the art that we have ever practised, namely, to take by force of our arms whatever is wanting to us, if we be the stronger ; and if they be the stronger, that we fall by them." "That is not a happy mode of composing a poem," said Brian, and upon that he arose himself to his feet, and requested attention till himself had sung a poem ; and he was listened to, and said :


O Tuis ! we conceal not thy fame,
We praise thee as the oak above the kings ;
The skin of a pig, bounty without hardness,
This is the reward which I ask for it [i.e. for this poem of praise].

The war of a neighbour against an Ear,
The fair Ear of his neighbour will be against him ;
He who gives us his property,
His court shall not be the scarcer of it.

A stormy host and raging sea
Are a dangerous power, should one oppose it ;
The skin of a pig, bounty without hardness,
This is the reward I ask, O Tuis.


"That is a good poem,” said the king, "but that I do not understand a word of its sense."

"I shall tell thee its sense," said Brian :


O Tuis ! I conceal not thy fame.
We praise thee as the oak above thekings.


"That is, in the same way that the oak excels the king trees of the wood, it is in that way thou excellest the kings of the world, for bounty, and nobility, and generosity.”


The skin of a pig, bounty without hardness.


"That is, the skin of a pig, O Tuis, which thou hast, which I should wish to get from thee in reward of my poetry.


The war of a neighbour against an Ear,
The fair Ear of his neighbour will be against him.


"That is, ó is the same as Ear, and thou and I shall be ear to ear, that is by the ears with each other for the skin, if I do not get it from thee with thy consent ; and it is to that the sense of my poem refers," said Brian, son of Tuireann.

"I should praise thy poem," said the King, "if my [pig's] skin had not been so much mentioned in it ; and it is not wise for thee, O man of poetry," said he, "to ask that request of me, for I would not give it to all the poets and professional men, and the best and the greatest nobles of the world, since they would not be able to take it against my consent from me ; and I shall give the three fulls of that skin of red gold to thee as purchase of thy poem."

"May all good be thine, O King," said Brian, "and I knew that it was not easy to make the request ; but that I knew I should receive a good ransom for it ; however, I am so covetous, that I shall not take less than to have the gold measured well and faithfully by the skin."

The servants and attendants of the king were then sent with them to the treasurehouse to measure the gold.

"Measure two skins of it out to my brothers first," said Brian, "and the last full faithfully to myself, as it was I that made the poem."

But, however, upon the skin being brought out, Brian made a covetous swift-handed snatch at it with his left hand ; and [at the the same time] he bared his sword [with his right] and dealt a stroke to the man nearest to him of them, and made two parts of him in his middle ; and he took possession of the skin and put it around himself; and the three of them rushed out of the court, hewing down the host wherever they happened to be before them ; in so much that not a noble escaped being slaughtered, nor a champion being mutilated, nor a warrior killed by them.

And then Brian went to where the King of Greece himself was ; nor was the king more slow to attack him ; and they made a valiant, champion-like, hard, brave combat with each other ; and the end of that fight was that the King of Greece fell by the venom of the arm of Brian, the son of Tuireann.

As for the other two, they fell to kill and slaughter widely the hosts upon all sides, until they waged indescribable destruction against the hosts of the court, and until they quite subdued them ; after which they remained for three nights and three days in the court to put off their fatigue, after their labour and their great slaughter ; and the three champions had the choicest of the royal ladies of the palace as arm and bed companions as long as they remained there,

They then determined upon going to seek for more of the fine, and his brothers asked of Brian where they should to first. "We shall go to the King of Persia," said Brian, "to seek the spear."

And they went forward towards their canoe ; and they left the blue-streamy confines of Greece ; and they then said : "We are well off when we have the apples and the skin." And then they made no delay until they reached the land of Persia.

"In what shape shall we go to the court of the King of Persia?" said Brian. "In what shape should we go there but in our own shape," said the other sons. "That is not what appears best to me," said Brian, "but to go there in the shape of poets, as we went to the King of Greece." "We approve of that," said they, "because of the success which it brought to us the last time we took to poetry ; not that it is easy for us to assume a profession that we have not."

And they put the tie of poets upon their hair; and they came to the door of the court, and asked to have it opened. The doorkeeper asked who they were, and of what country. "We are poets from Erinn," said they, "who have come with a poem to the king." They were [at once] admitted, and bade welcome by the king and the nobles of his household ; and they were seated with distinction and honour by the king about himself

And the king's poets arose to sing their lays, their songs, and their fine poems. And Brian, the son of Tuireann, called upon his brothers to arise and sing a poem for the king. "Do not ask the art which we have not from us," said they, "but if you wish it, we shall exercise the art with which we are acquainted, namely, mighty striking and beating." "That would be a rare exercise of poetry," said Brian, "and as it is I myself that have the poem, I shall sing it for the king ; and he delivered this address :


Small the esteem of any spear with Pisear ;
The battles of foes are broken ;
No oppression to Pisear,
Every one whom he wounds.

A [yew] tree, the finest of the wood,
It is called king without opposition,
May the splendid shaft drive on
Yon crowd into their wounds of death.


"That is a good poem," said the king ; "but I don't understand what that mention and notice of my spear in it means, O man of poetry from Erinn."

"It is this," said Brian, son of Tuireann, "that the reward which I should wish to receive for my poem is that very spear which you have."

"That was unwise for you to ask that gift from me," said the king ; "and, besides, the nobles and the high personages never gave a greater honour or protection for a poem than not to cause thy death upon this spot."

When Brian heard this conversation from the king, he bethought him of the apple which he held in his hand, and he made a successful cast of it at the king, [and struck him] in the flesh of his forehead, so that he drove his brain back out through the pole of his head ; and he bared his sword and fell to hewing down the hosts around him. And this was not neglected by the other two ; and they fell to helping him bravely and valiantly, until slaughter was made of all whom they encountered of the people of the court. And they had the women and great princesses of the court at their disposal ; and they found the spear, with a cauldron full of water under its blade in order that its heat should not scorch the people of the court.

And [after a while] the Children of Tuireann said that it was time for them to go and seek more of the great fine which was due of them. And they left the court after that, and they asked of each other what direction they should go in. "We shall go to Dobar, the king of the island of Siogar [Sicily]," said Brian, "for it is he that has the two steeds and the chariot which the Ildanach has demanded from us."

They went forward then, and carried the spear with them ; and high were the souls of the three champions after that exploit they had performed. And they went on till they had arrived at the court of the king of the island of Siogar [Sicily].

"In what shape shall we go to this court ?" said Brian. "What shape should we go in to it, but in our own shapes," said they. "That is not the proper way," said Brian, "but let us go there in the shape of mercenary soldiers of Erinn, and let us make friendship with the king, for it is in that way that we shall obtain knowledge of where the steeds and chariot are kept." And when they had determined upon this council, they went forward to the green before the king's court.

And the king and the chiefs, and great nobles of his people, went out to meet them, through the fair-assembly which was then being held among that people. And they made obeisance to the king ; and the king asked them who they were. "We are mercenary soldiers from Erinn," said they, "who are earning wages from the kings of the world." "Do you wish to remain with me for a while ?" said the king. "We do wish it," said they ; and [accordingly] they entered into engagement and made their agreement with the king.

They remained in that court for a fortnight and a month, and they did not see the steeds during that time. And then Brian said : "This is a bad state of things for us, my beloved brothers, that we have no more account of the steeds now than the first day we came to this court." "What is it you would wish to do in that case ?" said the other two. "Let us do this," said Brian ; "let us gird on our arms and our many weapons, and our array of travelling and journeying ; and let us go to the presence of the king ; and let us tell him that we shall leave the land and this part of the world unless he shows us the steeds."

They went forth that day to the presence of the king ; and the king asked them what it was that induced them to put themselves into that travelling array. “Thou shalt be informed of that, O high king," said Brian; "it is because soldiers from Erinn, such as we, are always the guards and confidants of the kings who have jewels of virtue and victory ; and we are [accustomed to be] the repositories of the whispers, the counsels, and the secrets of all those by whom we are retained ; and thou hast not so treated us since we have come to thee : for thou hast two steeds and a chariot, the best in the world, according as we have been informed ; and we have not yet seen them."

"It was ill for you to depart on that account," said the king, "when I would have shown them to you the first day, had I thought that you had sought [to see] them ; and since it is now ye seek them, ye shall see them ; for I think that there never came to this court soldiers from Erinn in whom my confidence and the confidence of the people of this court was more placed than in you."

And he sent for the steeds then, and the chariot was yoked to them ; and as fleet as the cold wind of spring was their career of running ; and that [career] was equally facile to them upon the sea and upon the land.

And Brian watched the steeds attentively; and [suddenly] he laid hold of the chariot, and caught the charioteer and dashed him against the rock of stone which was nearest to him, and killed him ; and he sprang himself into his place in the chariot, and made a cast of the spear of Pisear against the king, which clove his heart in his chest ; and then he and his brothers fell upon the hosts of the court, and scattered red slaughter among as many of them as they could find.

And when they had finished this undertaking, Iuchar and Iucharba asked where they should go then. "We shall go to Asal, the King of the Pillars of Gold," said Brian, "to seek the seven pigs which the Ildanach has demanded from us."

And then they sailed onwards without accident, straightway to that noble land. And they found the people of that country on the alert guarding their harbours from fear of , the sons of Tuireann; for the fame of these skilful champions was heard throughout all the countries of the world ; how they had been driven out of Erinn by oppression, and how they were carrying away with them all the gifted jewels of the world.

Asal then came to the verge of the harbour to meet them ; and he asked them reprovingly whether it was by them, as he had heard, that the kings of the world had fallen, in all countries in which they had been ? Brian answered, that it was, whatever punishment he might wish to inflict upon them for it. "What was it that caused ye to do that?" said Asal. Brian told him that it was the oppression and the tyrannical sentence of another that drove them them to it ; and he related to him the way in which it happened ; and how they had subdued all that had offered to stand against them until this time.

"What did ye come to this country for now ?" said the king. "For the pigs which you have," said Brian, "to carry them away with us as part of that fine." "In what way would ye wish to obtain them ?" said the king. "If we get them with good will," said Brian, "to accept them with thanks, and if we do not, to give battle to you and to your people on their account, and that you should fall by us, and that we shall carry off the pigs with us in despite of you in that way." "If that should be the end of it," said the king, "it would be evil to us to fight the battle." "It would indeed," said Brian.

And then the king went into counsel and whisper with all his people ; and the counsel which they came to was, to give up the pigs of their own will to the sons of Tuireann, since they could not see that they had been withstood in any place in which they had been up to that time.

The Children of Tuireann therefore expressed their gratitude and thanks to Asal; and their wonder was the greater at having obtained the pigs in that way, seeing that they had not obtained any other part of the fine without battle but these ; and not that alone, but that they had left much of their blood in every place through which they had passed until then.

Asal took them with him to his own court and noble residence that night ; and they were supplied and served with food and drink, and soft beds to their utmost desires. They arose on the following day and came to the king's presence ; and the pigs were given to them. "It is well that thou hast given us these pigs," said Brian, "for we have not obtained any part of the fine without battle, but these alone ;" and Brian spoke this poem :


These pigs, O Asal,
Thou hast let us have with grace ;
The other jewels which we have obtained
[We took] in right of hard combats.

We gave Pisear a battle
In which fell many champions,
Until we took away from him
Iubhar, the gifted weapon.

Of the battle of the King of the island of Sigir
It would be impossible to give a sufficient description ;
We should all have fallen in that affray
Were it not for the skin of the great pig.

O Asal, who hast not whispered treachery,
Should the three sons of Tuireann live,
The greater will be thy triumph and thy renown.
For the manner in which thou hast given up [to us] these pigs !


"What journey do ye propose to take now, O Children of Tuireann ?" said Asal. "We go," said they, "to Ioruaidh for the puppy hound which is there." "Grant me a request, O Children of Tuireann", said Asal ; "and the request which I ask of you is this, to take me along in your company to the King of Ioruaidh, because a daughter of mine is his wife, and I should wish to prevail upon him to give you the hound without battle and without a war." "We think well of that," said they.

And the king's ship was prepared for him ; and their adventures on either side are not told further until they reached the delightful, wonderful shores of Ioruaidh. The hosts and the muster oi Ioruaidh were watching their harbours and their shoreports before them ; and they shouted at them at once, because they knew them.

Then Asal went ashore peaceably ; and he went to where his son-in-law, the King of Ioruaidh, was ; and he told him the adventures of the Children of Tuireann from beginning to end. "What has brought them to this country?" said the King of Ioruaidh. "For the hound which you have," said Asal. "It was ill thought of for you to come along with them to me for it," said the king ; "for the gods have not given the luck to any three champions in the world that they could by will or by force obtain my hound." "Not so should it be," said Asal; "but since many of kings of the world have been subdued by these, [you had better] give them the hound without fighting and without battle."

But all that Asal had said was but thrown away on him ; and he went to where the Children of Tuireann were, and told them these accounts. Accordingly, these answers were not neglected by the warriors, but they put quick hands upon their arms ; and they challenged the army of Ioruaidh to battle ; and when that brave host had reached their presence, a brave and ardent combat and battle was fought between them on both sides.

As for the Children of Tuireann, they fell to hew down the champions and slay the warriors, until they themselves separated from each other in the battle, from the vehemence and fury of the contest and the hardness of the fight ; so that Iuchar and Iucharba happened to be upon one side, and Brian by himself on another side. It was a gap of danger, and a breach of ranks, and a broken retreat before Brian in every path that he passed through, until he reached the King of Ioruaidh in the battle-pen in which he was ; and the two brave champions entered on a single combat and fight, stoutly, bloodily, venomously ; and [theirs was indeed] a powerful, hardy striking of one another, and a fierce, valorous, unmerciful sledging.

And this combat was a brave one, until at last Brian [vanquished and] bound the King of Ioruaidh; and he brought him with him through the centre of the host until he reached the place in which was Asal; and this is what he said : "There is thy son-inlaw for thee, and I swear by my arms of valour that I would think it easier to kill him three times than to bring him here once to thee in this way."

However, the end was that the hound was to the Children of Tuireann; and the king was unbound ; and peace and unity was made between them. And after having finished all things in this way, they took leave of Asal and of all the rest in like manner.

And now to return to Lug of the Long Arms. It was revealed to him that the Children of Tuireann had obtained all the things that were wanting to himself against the battle of Mag Tured; upon which he sent a Druidical spell after them for the purpose of putting them into forgetfulness, and want of recollection of what they had not obtained of the fine ; and he inspired them with a mind and a great desire to return to Erinn with the fine to Lug of the Long Arms ; because of a truth they did not recollect that part of the fine was still wanting to them. And they came onward in that career into Erinn.

And the place in which Lug was at that time was, in a fair and an assembly along with the King of Erinn on the Green of Tara. And the Children of Tuireann came ashore at Brugh-na-Boinné. And this was revealed to Lug, and he left the assembly secretly ; and he went to Cathair Crobhaing [Crofhinn], which is called Temair [Tara] ; and he closed the gates of Tara behind him ; and he arrayed himself in Manannan's noble suit, namely, Manannan's smooth Greek armour ; and the Cochall of the daughter of Flidais ; and his arms of valour from that out.

And the Children of Tuireann came to where the king was ; and they were bade welcome by the king, and all the Tuatha Dé Danann. And the king inquired of them if they had obtained the fine. "We have obtained it," said they, "and where is Lug that we may deliver it to him ?" "He was here awhile ago," said the king. And the fair assembly was searched for him, and he was not found. "I know where he is," said Brian, "for it has been revealed to him that we have come to Erinn, having these poisoned arms with us ; and he has gone to Tara to avoid us." And messengers were sent after him then ; and the answer which he gave to the messengers who went to him was, that he would not come, but that the fine should be given to the King of Erinn.

And the sons of Tuireann did this ; and upon the king having got this fine, they all went to the palace of Tara ; and Lug came then out upon the lawn, and the fine was given to him, and this is what he said :

"There never was killed, and their never will be killed, any one whose full fine is not here [i.e. in full value] ; however, there is a residue that is not lawful to be left out, namely, the residue of an eric [fine of death] ; so where is the cooking spit, and where are the three shouts upon the hill, which ye have not yet given ?"

When the sons of Tuireann heard this, they fell into a swoon and faintness ; and they left the fair assembly and went to the house of their father that night, and they told him their adventures, and how Lug behaved to them.

Gloom and grief seized upon Tuireann ; and they spent the night together. And the next day they went to their ship, and Eithné, the daughter of Tuireann, went along with them ; and the maiden fell to grief-crying and lamentation ; and she spoke this lay :


Alas for this, O Brian of my soul !
That thy progress leads not to Tara,
After all thy troubles in Erinn ;
Though I go not to follow thee.

Thou salmon of the dumb Boyne ;
Thou salmon of the stream of Liffey ;
Since I cannot detain thee,
I am loth to separate from thee.

Thou horseman of the wave of Tuaidh
Thou man most lasting in combat,
Shouldst thou return, as I hope,
It shall not be pleasant for thy foe.

Do ye pity the sons of Tuireann ?
Upon the elbows of their green shields
Greatly hast disturbed my mind
Their departure is a cause of pity.

That you are this night at Beinn Edair,
You party who have increased our grief,
You champions to whom valour has bowed,
Until the early morning cometh.

Pity your journey from Tara,
And from Tailltin of the pleasant plains,
And from great Uisneach of Meath ;
There is not an event more pitiful.


After this poem they went forth upon the tempestuous waves of the green sea ; and they were a quarter of a year upon that sea, without having gained any intelligence of the island

And then Brian put on his water dress, with his transparency of glass upon his head ; and he made a water leap ; and it is said that he was for a fortnight walking in the salt water seeking the Island of Fianchairé ; and he found it at last ; and he went to search for its court ; and upon his going to the court he found in it but a troop of women engaged at embroidery and border-making ; and among all the other things that they had by them they happened to have the cooking spit.

And when Brian saw it, he took it in his hand, and he was going to carry it with him towards the door. Each of the women burst into a laugh on seeing that act, and this was what they said : "Bold is the deed thou hast put thy hand to ; for even if thy two brothers were along with thee, the least valorous of the three times fifty women of us here would not let that spit go with thee or them ; however, take one of the spits with thee since thou hadst the heroism to attempt to take it despite us." Brian took leave of them and went forth to seek his ship. And his brothers thought it too long that Brian had been away from them ; and just as they proposed to depart, it was then they saw him coming towards them, and that greatly raised their spirits.

And he went to his ship, and they went forward to seek the Hill of Miochaoin. And when they arrived upon the hill, Miochaoin, the guardian of the hill, came towards them ; and when Brian saw him he attacked him ; and the fight of these two champions was like the rapidity of two bears and the laceration of two lions, until Miochaoin fell in the combat.

Miochaoin's three sons came out then to fight the sons of Tuireann, after Miochaoin himself had previously fallen by Brian ; and if one should come from the Land of the Hesperides in the east of the world to look at any fight, it is to see the fight of these heroes he ought to come, for the greatness of their blows ; for the liveliness of their spirits ; and the strength of their minds. And these are the names of these sons of Miochaoin, namely. Core, and Con, and Aodh? And they drove their three spears through the bodies of the sons of Tuireann. However, even this did not produce fear or weakness in the sons of Tuireann, for they drove their own three spears through the bodies of the sons of Miochaoin ; and they fell into the trance and faintness of death.

After these mighty deeds, Brian said : "What state are ye in, my beloved brothers?" said he. "We are dead," said they. "Let us arise," said he, "for I perceive signs of death approaching us, and let us give the shouts upon the hill." "That we are not able to do," said they. But Brian arose then, and raised a man of them in each hand, while his blood flowed copiously, until they raised the three shouts.

After this Brian took them with him to the ship, and they continued to tread the sea for a long time ; but at last Brian said : "I see Beinn Edair, Dun Tuirinn and Tara of the Kings." "We should be full of health could we but see these," said another man ; "and for love of thy honour, O brother, raise our heads on thy Brest in order that we should see Erinn from us, and we care not which to receive, death or life, afterwards." And he spoke the lay :


Take these heads unto thy Brest, O Brian,
Thou son of generous, red-armed Tuireann;
Thou torch of valour without guile,
That we may see the land of Erinn.

Hold upon thy Brest and upon thy shoulder
These heads, thou manly champion,
That we may from off the water see
Uisneach, Tailltin, and Tara.

Ath Cliath, and the smooth Brugh with thee,
Freamhainn, Tlachtga along with them,
The Plain of Lifé [Liffey], the dewy Magh Breagh
And the mountains around the fair green of Tailltin.

Could I but see Beinn Edair from me,
And Dun Tuirinn in the north.
Welcome death from that out,
And though it should be a suffering death.

A pity this, brave sons of Tuireann,
Birds could fly through my two sides ;
And it is not [so] much my two sides that sicken [me]
But [to think of] you likewise to have fallen.

We should prefer death to take us,
O Brian, son of Tuireann, who fled not,
Than to see thee with wounds upon thy body,
And no doctors to cure thee.

Since we have not to heal our wounds,
Mioch, Oirmiach, nor Diancecht,
Alas, O Brian, who designed not guile,
To have given away from us the skin !


After this lay they reached Beinn Edair, and from that [they went on] to Dun Tuirinn; and they said to Tuireann : "Go, beloved father, to Tara, and deliver this Cooking Spit to Lug, and bring us the gifted skin to relieve us" ; and Brian spoke the lay :


O Tuireann ! depart from us,
To speak to Lug the gifted ;
Catch him asleep in the south ;
Beg the [healing] skin [from him] through friendship.

For the world's jewels, south and north,
And [all] to be given to Lug the gifted,
What certainly would come of it would be.
Your graves and your sepulture.

Near are we related in blood and in flesh
To the son of Cian, son of just Cainté;
Let him not deal to us wrath for wrath,
Though we have killed his father.

O father, beloved, noble, swift,
Be not long upon thy visit.
For if thou art thou shalt not find us
Alive before thee.


After this Tuireann went forward to Tara, and found Lug of the Long Hand there before him ; and he gave him the spit, and begged the skin from him to cover his sons with ; and Lug said he could not give it. And Tuireann turned back to his sons, and told them that he had not obtained the skin. And then Brian said : "Take me with you to Lug to try if I should obtain the skin."

It was done accordingly ; and he went to Lug and begged the skin from him. And Lug said that he would not give it ; and that though he gave him the breadth of the earth of gold, that he would not accept it from him unless he thought their death would ensue, in revenge of the deed which they had perpetrated.

When Brian heard this he went to where his two brothers were ; and he lay down between them, and his life departed out of him, and out of the other two at the same time ; and Tuireann made the following lay over his sons :


Distressed is my heart over you !
You three fair youths who fought many fights.
After your activity and your feats,
It were well for me that you should live !

The makings of two kings over Banba,
Iuchar and Iucharba ;
Brian, that conquered Greece,
It is a loss [i.e. alas !] that their like are not alive !

I am Tuireann, without strength
Over your grave, you ardent champions ;
As long as ships shall ply the sea.
So long shall I not write lay or song more.


After this Tuireann dropped on the bodies of his sons, and his soul departed out of him ; and they were buried at once in the one grave.

And such was the Tragical Fate of the Children of Tuireann.



création : 30/08/2011

Sources : E. O'Curry, Gaelic Journal 2 (Atlantis 4)



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