CELT document T106500B

The Metrical Dindshenchas

Unknown author

Volume 2 English translation

Edited by Edward Gwynn

The Metrical Dindshenchas

1. Rath Esa

  • Here settled, as we believe,
    after coming to a goal eagerly sought,
    the daughter of Eochaid Airem
    and of Etain the noble.
  • Esa was the name of the maid,
    from her is Rath Esa called:
    a hundred of every sort of beast without abatement
    were brought by her, it was a choice tribute.
  • Midir's fosterling the fair woman was10 
    with wine and mead to drink;
    nine years did the maiden spend
    at Bri Leith with the spirit of a handmaid.
  • In spite of Eochaid Airem
    Midir bore off the festive Etain15 
    from Fremand, though bright of brow;
    so she left mournful Banba.
  • Said Codal of the withered foot:
    "Ye need not to search for her;
    in Bri Leith is the beginning of our search;20 
    'tis thither she has gone a-wooing."
  • By the side of Eochaid Airem
    came the hosts of noble Erin
    from Fremand, though bright of brow,
    to sack bright Bri Leith.
  •  p.5
  • 25 Nine years were they about that sacking;
    its speed was none too great.
    Midir at this forcible entry,
    he was busy destroying the work.
  • After the sack of the fairy fort30 
    there came fifty hardy men,
    (shapely was that tribe)
    to talk with the lance-bearing kings.
  • Then were brought on a Wednesday
    ('twas a famous tale, I have heard)35 
    to Eochaid, in form like Etain,
    thrice fifty women, excellent might!
  • From them he chose out
    his own right pure daughter;
    false was the declaration Midir made40 
    that this was the bargain agreed upon.
  • She it was bare Mes Buachalla
    mother of friendly Conaire,
    (it was a subtle ... affair),
    she reared her to be over Eber's high race.
  • 45 When Eochaid went again
    to sack bright Bri Leith,
    he bore off his wife, having reunited with her,
    from Midir–glorious feat!
  • 'Twas then he demanded50 
    his honour–fine from Midir–
    did Eochaid the upright, the fair and strong–
    and obtained it after award by law.
  •  p.7
  • This is the fourfold demand
    that Eochaid Airem made, 55 
    with many a distinguished company,
    with tale of shields and swords:
  • To build a causeway across the bog of Lamraige,
    to plant a wood growing wild over Brefne,
    to clear stones from the Bottoms of great Mide, 60 
    and to set rushes over Tebtha.
  • "O daughter, demand of me,"
    said Eochaid; "tell me now
    which fortress of my fortresses thou desirest,
    and it shall be bestowed on thee by me."
  • 65 Then it was she chose
    Rath Esa, a precinct with a fair lawn,
    a seat whence she would keep watch,
    whence she might see the three fortresses.
  • The Mound of Brug of the roads,70 
    one of three fortresses built aright, fit for a hundred,
    Duma Giall in Tara,
    fair Dun Crimthaind in Howth.
  • Then was the Rath bestowed
    by Eochaid–a word without delusion–75 
    with everything she demanded
    with plenty of treasures therein.
  • Midir after the expiry of truce
    came about the bold award
    to Eochaid once more,80 
    about the same just business.
  •  p.9
  • Midir prayed the noble prince
    for the strong keep where was begotten 1
    Sigmall, his daughter's son,
    who dwells in noble Sid Nenta.
  • 85 Ogniad was his mother's name;
    she was daughter to Midir;
    not evil was her disposition
    though she knew not rule nor law.
  • Etain of the bright brows was borne90 
    to the West, though proud was her birth,
    with the head of Eochaid Airem;
    so she was in Sid Nenta beyond the water.
  • In the West is the mistress of numerous hosts
    with Sigmall,–a fairy place without delusion–95 
    with the valorous grandson of Midir;
    and she has not returned hither.
  •  p.11

    2. Brug Na Bóinde I

  • Bright is it here, O plain of Mac ind Oc!
    wde is thy road with traffic of hundreds;
    thou hast covered many a true prince
    of the race of every king that has possessed thee.
  • Every bright wonder hath adorned thee,
    O clear shining plain with scores of hosts,
    O lucent land of grass and waggons,
    O virgin mead of birds and milking-places!
  • The house of Mac ind Oc above thy stead,10 
    a royal sod with true hospitality;
    there come readily above thy brown stream
    hostages from the fairy-hills of all Erin thither.
  • The daughter of bold Pharaoh lies on thy floor
    a kind princess, precious was the diadem;15 
    over her was set the tower in that place,
    not sparing was the graving-tool over her head.
  • I see the clear pool of Fiacc of the warriors
    west of thee,—not feeble the deed—
    till the day of Doom—mighty boast—20 
    shall he abide on the slope of the royal rath.
  • Here slept a married pair
    after the battle of Mag Tuired yonder,
    the great lady and the swart Dagda:
    not obscure is their dwelling there.
  •  p.13
  • 25 The Grave of the Matha after his slaying
    is plain to see on thee, O Brag, studded with horses:
    It was his bone that polluted the sea,
    whence pleasant Inber Colptha is named.
  • The Hide of the Cow of undying Boadan30 
    over the cheek of his yellow-white stone:
    the Precinct of the staunch keen warriors
    about the eastern level of a noble sanctuary.
  • At the Grave of the gentle Seagulls
    it is there was boasted the deed–35 
    great the feat of pride that assigns
    the slaying of Finn to the soldiery of the fierce Luagni.
  • In thee was born a beguiling boy,
    Cellach, who plundered the plain on his track;
    it was one able to sustain a household that ruled thee,40 
    and died in thee a death of pride.
  • O beaked bark of the strong towers,
    the sea-tide visits thy stead:
    from the days of Crimthand Nia to Niall
    thou wast the burying-place of the fair-haired warriors.
  • 45 Fintan Feradach, of bloody battles,
    possessed thy land, the strong prince;
    Tuathal Techtmar, lord of our clans,
    thy bare sepulchral soil sustains.
  •  p.15
  • Fedelmed the Lawgiver is in thy tale;50 
    he was a warlike wight on every chase;
    thou art not unlovely in thy land
    thou hidest Conn the just, the hundred-fighter.
  • There came not Art, highest in rank,
    round whom rode troops on the battlefield;55 
    he found a grave proud and lofty,
    the champion of the heroes, in Luachair Derg.
  • There came not Cormac free from sorrow:
    after receiving the Truth (he affirmed it)
    he found repose above limpid Boyne60 
    on the shore at Rossnaree.
  • Cairpre Lifechair lies on thy soil,
    Fiachu Sraptine noble and famous,
    Muiredach Tírech from the Hill,
    the king Eochu father of Niall.
  • 65 There came not Niall (a cry that is not false)
    unlucky for him the course he rowed!
    after going seven times to Scotland
    the place where his grave is was known.
  • Thereafter came the pure Faith70 
    to Mag Fail, a law that came not too soon,
    so that each lies in burial-grounds of holy men,
    to sever them from iniquity and sin.
  •  p.17
  • Thou hidest a brood bold and kind,
    O plain of the son of the swift Dagda:75 
    who did not perform the worship of the great God;
    it is worse for them where they are in torment.
  • They are transient, thou abidest:
    every believing band rides around thee:
    as for them, their wisdom has befooled them;80 
    thou shalt attain a noble age.
  • Boyne, a spot right green and bright,
    The Mana and wholesome Séil pass by thee
    ... from you of the proud grandson
    of Senbec from the stead of noble poesy.
  • 85 Congalach the ilustrious lord of warriors,2
    swift is his blow, noble his assembly.
    It is a fold of glorious chieftains, as far as the sea,
    it is a kennel of high-bred whelps, it is glorious.
  •  p.19

    3. Brug Na Bóinde II

  • O nobles of Breg, a might that is not deceitful,
    with featful points (royal is the road):
    know ye the story of every lord
    that is here in the Brug of the Mac ind Oc?
  • Behold the fairy mound before your eyes:
    it is plain for you to see, it is a king's dwelling,
    it was built by the harsh Dagda:
    it was a shelter, it was a keep renowned for strength.
  • Behold the Bed of the red Dagda:10 
    on the slope, without rough rigour;
    he paid noble court after the chase
    to a fair woman free from eld and sorrow.
  • Behold the two Paps of the king's consort
    here beyond the mound west of the fairy mansion:15 
    the spot where Cermait the fair was born,
    behold it on the way, not a far step;
  • Whither came the wife of the son of noble Nemed
    to a tryst to meet the swift Dagda,
    and her dog after her,20 
    though it was a long journey from afar:
  • Whither came Midir from Bri Leith
    to bear off the prince, it was a lucky find;
    so he bore the Mac ind Oc from the ford
    with a shield in his protection, though he was weary.
  •  p.21
  • 25 Thereafter was brought, a clever compact,
    the boy, on that day nine full years after
    to his father, it was a fitting command,
    to the loved Dagda at his house.
  • Entertainment was made by him for the King30 
    in the mound by means of lasting deception;
    thence is named,–it is not a question without a key–
    Duma Treisc before the eyes of the hosts.
  • Thereafter the stern Dagda refused his request,
    to whom belonged the keep, it was no abode of grief:– 35 
    so he dwelt in Ochan, a journey with lamentation,
    after warlike labour, after a time of carousing.
  • The grave of Esclam, pilgrimage revered,
    where good men used to cast lots:
    a sward with a brave portion, a deed without concealment,40 
    for the son of Calpurn it was a path of grace.
  • Know ye the Well of Bualc the good,
    his successor throughout the plain,
    from which he drew a draught ....
    a drink for the host, honoured deed.
  • 45 Know ye the Grave of grim Cellach
    with wailing in unison, filling the breezes:
    by a swift heroic pair he died,
  • when he was in the north on idle clamour of fools. p.23
  • Know ye the Grave of the Horse of the king,50 
    Cinaed free from shame of avarice?
    He bore off victory from fleet ones of the bridle
    at the will of the son of noble Irgalach.
  • The Comb, the Casket of the woman,
    in whatever place each of them is,55 
    it shall abide till the Doom come;
    their beauty shall not grow less and less.
  • Behold before you–it was the boast of every bard,
    it was the grave of a noble man, fame without decay–
    bear witness, it is the meadow-land of a rough race60 
    the mound of Aed Lurgnech on the hill-slope.
  • There was caused bloodshed by its chief
    upon the resort of ridges and territories:
    that was a general vengeance of the tribes
    in the place where the great Morrigan was smitten.
  • 65 Know ye for noted deeds,
    with theme of song truly-bright, with scores of chiefs,
    the plain of bright actions, where shields used to be,
    the Prison of the Grey, where the Grey Steed was?
  • Know ye by the refuse of heads70 
    the Glen where the sluggish Matha dwelt?
    it was slain after the incursion of lithe hosts:
    much havoc was wrought there.
  •  p.25
  • Thereafter came (a deed without concealment),
    the kings from a pleasant land towards him,75 
    to view the vast Matha,
    and each planted on him pitilessly his stone.
  • Buide planted his keen stone
    in the portion which is called Finn's Seat:
    in presence of the hosts of the glens he left 80 
    his head on the plain of Muired Mend.
  • Thereafter came the mighty Ulstermen
    (Conn's proper Share) against him,
    to strive with the might of the sluggish Matha
    so his limbs were broken on Lecc Bend.
  • 85 A solid barrow was built by them
    for a rampart over the bones of the beast:
    that was the trophy, a fight with lamentation,
    which it possessed with victory and might.
  • The wall of Oengus the blameless,–90 
    (the name Airther Oenlussa clave to it,–)
    the son of Crundmael on whom fell guilt,
    when he had drunk mead till he was mad.
  • Royal the contest at the Cast
    of the Mac ind Oc–whence did it arise?95 
    when the eye of mighty Midir was broken:
    is there any of you who can recount it?
  •  p.27

    4. Inber n-Ailbine

  • O men of Muired, bright honour
    among any headstrong company!
    I shall tell you in my warm dwelling
    the cunning story of Ailbine.
  • There was once a prince far-famed3 who rowed
    north of undivided Ireland:
    he was pilot of every brilliant band in his day,
    Ruad son of valiant Rigdonn.
  • He fared on a lucky journey, a choice without dispute,10 
    of the morn-slumbering sea early and late;
    to converse with his friend the Norseman,
    a right brave journey it was to Norway.
  • He came with three boats, splendid and bright,
    it was a vessel ever terrible;15 
    they stopped short, thence came cause of grief
    on the shoulders of the open sea.
  • They had no power to stir on any side,
    firm was the strong durance:
    into the mighty main without shrinking20 
    went noble Ruad the smiter.
  •  p.29
  • When he hastened to cut loose the ship in truth
    through the salt depths of the sea's treacherous waters,
    he found, in the secret spot he swam to, 4
    nine female forms, fair and firm.
  • 25 They said to him in pure clear strains
    it was they who had arrested him
  • ...30 
    nine women of them, excellent and strong;
    hard it was to approach them.
  • He slept nine nights with the women
    without gloom, without tearful lament,35 
    under the sea free from waves
    on nine beds of bronze.
  • Though a woman of them was with child by him,
    he went from them on no unlucky course
    it was a leave misused40 
    on condition that he should come back again.
  • When she had let him go to his noble comrades,
    he rowed with the companies (?) of his strong host
    he was a good fosterling of a good family
    till he reached Norway of pure valour.
  •  p.31
  • 45 When they arrived in the east across the sea
    with luck and with high renown,
    they remain seven years seeking fame
    with his friend triumphant.
  • Thereafter Ruad of the spears went his way50 
    across the waters, the noble youth keen and slender,
    from the east over the strong pure billows of the sea,
    till he reached the level plain of Erin.
  • False was the lawful prince:
    it was no right judgment nor honourable act,55 
    not to go to the women across the smooth water,
    in the same way as he promised.
  • When the lordly chieftain touched land southward
    at the plain of Muired of the lowland steads
    with unclouded fame for stern strength,60 
    men heard the martial strain.
  • That was the song of those tuneful women
    in their pure mellow sweet-sounding speech,
    as they pursued Ruad with the spear point
    over the impetuous clear-streaming tide.
  • 65 They sailed a boat of flawless metal,
    (it was no ... black hull of mourning)
    nine of them, fierce, radiant, and bright,
    to high Inber Ailbine.
  •  p.33
  • An evil deed then wrought70 
    a woman of them, with no unconscious burden,
    even the slaying of the son of Ruad strong and good,
    and her very own son.

  • She made a cast with her son, worse than any crime,
    (it was a stain on his house for him on earth)75 
    she hurled him out in fair combat
    so that he died the death.

  • Then said that loud-voiced host,
    whom fierce Ruad .... possessed,
    all of them astounded at the open crime80 
    "Dreadful, dreadful was the deed!"

  • Hence comes (a title free from envy)
    the name (not in deceit however)
    of the river, whose fame we conceal not,
    even as we tell you, O men!

  • 85 If the name of your plain (pleasant pride!)
    be the title long free from blame of combat,
    it is called from the stout pillar
    Muiredach son of Cormac.

  • Or if the instructed prefer90 
    to have an eye to glorious deeds of pride,
    they shall call it the blooming land, a good that is not dumb,
    from Moriath wife of Labraid.
  •  p.35
  • Labraid the Mariner with terrible limbs
    came with a huge mail-clad people, 595 
    ... the bloody plain, a man of war:
    she was his wife, the youthful Moriath.
  • Moriath, great honour she deserved about the spot
    with the host that cleared her woods:
    when she was attacked, she was no coward,100 
    as is related, O men!
  •  p.37

    5. Ochan

  • Behold the grave of martial Niall
    over the hill-side keen, ..., strong
    here, by the side of the track of the hosts
    he found a cold couch in the soil.
  • Niall, son of Eochu, whose is the grave,
    went seven times swiftly across the main;
    he extended the heritage of Conn
    till he was slain above the surf of the Ictian sea.
  • When the grim folk said from the rampart,10 
    "We desire to look on the king that owns us,"
    uprose thereupon the prince erect,
    the being that was proudest under heaven.
  • Eochu, that was the name of the man
    of the numerous Leinstermen, a hand of venom;15 
    in the side of Niall, the white-shouldered,
    he lodged his spear, in presence of the hosts.
  • Though the Leinsterman achieved yonder,
    in concert with the violent grasping Saxons,
    the slaying of the king after his great voyage,20 
    strange the wonder that was wrought there.
  • Whenas trouble or danger came upon them
    he would be raised aloft (potent the treasure):
    it was a true king's act after doom of death,
    the breaking of seven battles before his face.
  •  p.39
  • 25 A just word spake Niall,
    when he was slain on the sea by stealth,
    in the spot where Niall's tomb was built,
    that their hostages should be dismissed homeward.
  • Thereafter they were sent free30 
    over the green stormy sea (wild its warfare)
    hostages of the Saxons (they were a great and comely company)
    hostages of the Franks, hostages of the Romans from the south.
  • Westward from Tara came
    the warrior band of his warlike powerful retinue:35 
    thence was called, after grief and beating of breasts,
    great Ochan of the following of Niall.
  • There parted in high Ochan
    one from another the noblest in rank,
    Leinstermen, Munstermen, (he caused them grief)40 
    men of Connaught, men of Ulster, the Fir Lí and Fir Luirg.
  • A hero united them, who was king;
    not weak was his frame in this world:
    it was a short space from Niall assembly of waves
    till came the blessed Faith of God.
  • 45 His sons thereafter divided
    the island of Art, who was a wonder of a man,
    it is to them their hostages shall be brought
    so long as clouds shall be round the white sun.
  •  p.41
  • The two Conalls, Eogan in the north,50 
    Fiachu, Cairpre, Mane the gentle,
    Enna, who was the rallying-point of the host,
    it got Loegaire for king.
  • The King that brought them under the silence of earth,
    woe to him that worships him not in his lifetime!55 
    he divided the Red Sea in two parts,
    it was through fear of the Lord's folk.
  • The children of the son of Cairenn, who stride through the battlefield,
    to whom men were obedient altogether,
    against the multitude of young men and horses60 
    none could succour them save the Son of God.
  • After them came to the East a weapon-loving champion,
    Dathi who was headstrong in his day;
    not weak was his muster at the meeting-place;
    he divided the world in two.
  • 65 The descendant that is best above the bright-hued soil 6
    of all that sprang from Niall (splendid assembly),
    is Colum Cille, who possessed Iona,
    the noblest living man that is in the house of God.
  •  p.43

    6. Mide

  • Mide, place of the eager steeds,
    the road whereon Art the Solitary used to be
    the lowland full of the splendour of Lugaid ...
    the level ground of the clan of Conn and Cobthach.
  • Whence is the name of Meath given to the plain?
    to the heritage of the seed of Conn the Hundred Fighter?
    what pure bold scion (bright the honour),
    what warrior was it whence it got its naming?
  • Mide it was, the ardent son of Brath10 
    the host-leading son of Deaith;
    for he kindled a mystic fire
    above the race of Nemed, seizer of hostages.
  • Seven years good ablaze
    was the fire, it was a sure truce:15 
    so that he shed the fierceness of the fire for a time
    over the four quarters of Erin.
  • So that it is in return for this fire in truth
    (it is not a rash saying, it is not a falsehood)
    that he (Mide and his descendants) has a right by a perpetual bargain20 
    over every chief hearth of Erin.
  • So the right belongs to the gentle heir
    of the plain of Mide mirthful and bright;
    even a measure of fine meal with a white pig
    for every rooftreee in Erin.
  •  p.45
  • 25 And they said (no small grief it was),
    the druids of Erin all together,
    "It is an ill smoke was brought to us eastward:
    it has brought an ill mood to our mind."
  • Then Mide the untiring assembled30 
    the druids of Erin into one house,
    and cut their tongues (a harsh presage)
    out of the heads of the strong and noble druids.
  • And he buried them under the earth
    of Uisnech in mighty Mide,35 
    and sat him down over their tongues,
    he, the chief seer and his chief shanachie.
  • Gaine daughter of pure Gumor,
    nurse of mead-loving Mide,
    surpassed all women though she was silent;40 
    she was learned and a seer and a chief druid.
  • And Gaine said with lamentation,
    before Mide of the great victory,
    "It is over somewhat our house was built,
    and hence shall Uisnech be named."
  • 45 Uisnech and mighty Mide
    from which Erin of the red weapons is held,
    according as polished learning relates7,
    hence is derived its story.
  • Guard, O God, Aed ua Carthaig50 
    from hell with all its storms,
    God enjoining his clear protection
    on the mead-loving king of Meath.
  •  p.47

    7. Druim nDairbrech

  • Whence is the hill of Druim Dairbrech named?
    for many a day it increased the household;
    by mine art I see in memory
    a plain populous as the domain of Tara.
  • Druim Dairbrech, it is a fair fort,
    a sandy rampart by the lank-sided billow;
    the lay of a bard that will be profitable with its goodly share
    I see, from the lovely lofty height.
  • The smooth-browed hill of the gay banks, 10 
    the broad-flanked ridge with sloping sides,
    a spot like Raigne of the lucky bards,
    fiercely assailed rampart of Dairbre Ruddy-face.
  • Dairbre Ruddy-face, son of Lulach,
    who was sudden as a chain-trap (?) in winter-time,15 
    son of Ligmuine leader of hosts,
    readiest in savage conflict.
  • The Fidgai, the Fochmaind, and the Gaileoin,
    were not soon tamed, of their free will8;
    the Firbolg, and the multitude of Domnainn,20 
    tame for ever was the violence in their mood of distress.
  • The tribe of the Crecraige of the raw gold,
    the Gumóir, the Brecraige of bloodless battle,
    the Mendraige of Dairbre generous to song,
    famed for ever was the fierceness of the horrid fight.
  •  p.49
  • 25 Tuathal of the bloody warriors inflicted 9
    on red Dairbre, about the swamp
    headlong defeat across every moorland
    in the battle of Commar, rough beyond other glens.
  • Dairbre Ruddy-face, on that hill30 
    in evil hour did he separate from his soldiery;
    Tuathal of the martial cheek
    bound him with his iron grip.
  • Tuathal the Wealthy, the warrior,
    great his rightful fame above princes:35 
    Dairbre of the songs fell
    by his axes–such was the might of the idolator!
  • This hill of the array of battle
    O swift poets, I declare,
    good in truth is the day I speak of,40 
    for learning whence is named the noble hill.
  • 8. Lagin I

  • The princes were slain round their king
    (it was an ill deed, it was matter for wrath):
    the Dumb Exile of martial might burnt
    Cobthach Cael, son of Ugaine.
  • Till that crime, Tuaim Tenbath was the name
    of the noble kingly hold, the noted hill,
    till Labraid full of valour sacked it,
    when he made a slaughter of its young men.
  • From the day he was slain (this is sooth)10 
    even Cobthach Cael, with his thirty kings,
    till the birth of the Son of Mary
    is five hundred years ever pure.
  • The beginning of struggle and strife was
    the vengeance of Cobthach on Loegaire:15 
    thereby fell Cobthach of the cairn
    by the grandson of Loegaire fierce and fell.
  • There came on the march to that slaying
    Labraid and thirty hundred of the Dub-Gaill
    in a muster, warlike and staunch,20 
    with their deep-blue lances.
  • From those lances thenceforth
    were the men of Leinster called the Spearmen;
    at the hand of the Dumb Exile, with heavy disaster,
    by these lances Cobthach Cael was slain.
  • 25 This doom shall abide with his family till the Last Day
    that there be war between kindred kings:
    the destruction of Oilill and Loegaire
    at the hand of Cobthach Cael was the first slaying.
  •  p.53

    9. Lagin II

  • Labraid the Exile, (full his number)
    by whom Cobthach was slain at Dindrig,
    came with a lance-armed host over the sea-water;
    from them Lagin was named.
  • Tuaim Tenba was the name aforetime
    of the hill where the slaughter was done;
    Dindrig is its name from that time forth,
    since the slaying of the chieftains.
  • Two and twenty hundreds of the Gall
    came oversea having with them broad lances;10 
    from the lances that were carried there–
    thence the men of Lagin get their name.
  •  p.55

    10. Sliab Bladma

  • Blod, son of Cu, son of Cass the renowned,
    son of Uachall the many-shaped,
    killed Bregmael the famous smith
    of Cuirche, son of Snithe the swimmer.
  • Curche Cendmar was a daring king
    over Medraige and over Herot;
    through him Blod, son of Cass Clothmin,
    found never sure protection.
  • He fared in his ship–clear purpose!– 10 
    from the Bottom of pure-cold Galway,
    from Ath Cliath in wide Herot
    to Ath Cliath in Cualu.
  • Thence he came after many a turn
    to the Point of Nar, son of Edliuc,15 
    and possessed, as his special portion,
    the mountain whose name derives from Blod.
  • A valiant man who used to wage battle died
    at Sliab Bladma–vast renown!
    even Blad, son of Bregon, with troops of warriors,20 
    died of disease in the monster-haunted Sliab Blod.
  • Or, it is from the son of Bregon the wrathful
    that it is named Sliab Bladma, with onsets of women;
    their increase is not far from the cattle
    was the mountain where it happened through strong Blad.
  •  p.57
  • 25 Or the monsters of the sea that was not calm,
    beasts–ruisenda was their name–
    came throughout the land of the tribes,
    so that from them is named Sliab Bled.
  • Blod, son of Cu, son of Cass Clothmin,30 
    slew the herd of Bregmael Ban,
    the smith of Curche, son of Snithe;
    he settled at Ross Tire Nair.
  •  p.59

    11. Fid nGabli

  • Dear to me is bright Gabul
    who set moving the bright-stemmed wood,
    not for the sake of a reward that should decay,
    he prayed that from him it should be named.
  • Ainge gathered a bright faggot
    against dripping unless it was ebb-tide:
    every kind of tree without exception is to be sought
    in the soft fresh-leaved faggot.
  • A tub was made for his daughter10 
    above the breast-work of the high river mouth;
    it would not leak unless the tide were full:
    she loved (?) the lot of virginity.
  • He it was who stole it (burden of a tale)
    even Gaible the pale, son of Ethedeon;15 
    he cast it without payment for labour
    from the cold Pass of the Thicket.
  • It found rest in the confines of Fland;
    he claims of right his copse and his own wood,
    the man who thieved and stole in the east;20 
    to women he was at all times dear.
  •  p.61

    12. Mag Life

  • Life the bright (fame in plenty!),
    daughter of Cannan of the hundred coracles,
    got as reward for her labour a title of pious observance
    even the name of the plain; it is a mighty boon.
  • A choice, pleasant boon gave
    the spencer of friendly Conaire
    to the daughter of Cannan,–of the hundred hides,
    Deltbanna of the gleaming teeth.
  • Child-birth was the death of eager Life10 
    at Port Agmar in Aran;
    thereby the son of Drucht got his death,
    from his great grief for heroic Life.
  •  p.63

    13. Berba

  • The Barrow, enduring its silence,
    that flows through the folk of old Ailbe;
    a labour it is to learn the cause whence is called
    [] Barrow, flower of all famous names.
  • No motion in it made
    the ashes of Mechi the strongly smitten:
    the stream made sodden and silent past recovery 10
    the fell filth of the old serpent.
  • Three turns the serpent made;10 
    it sought out the soldier to consume him;
    it would have wasted by its nature all the kine
    of the indolent hosts of ancient Erin.
  • Therefore Diancecht slew it:
    there was rude reason for clean destroying it,15 
    for preventing it for ever from wasting
    above every resort, from consuming utterly.
  • Known to me is its grave where he cast it,
    a tomb without walls or roof-tree;
    its evil ashes,–no ornament to the region20 
    found silent burial in noble Barrow.
  •  p.65

    14. Moin Gai Glais

  • Culdub, son of Dian, at Samain tide,
    went afar, the famous fighter,
    to demand duel man to man
    with joyous generous Fidrad.
  • Thereby fell Fidrad
    by encounter with doughty foes:
    the death of keen Fidrad in his fury, came
    by the hand of the red-knived son of Dian.
  • Gai Glas, grandson of Lug of the graves,10 
    was a mass, a bulwark against enmity:
    he bore a riveted spear against shields,
    which Aith, the noble smith, forged.
  • 'Tis he was champion of generous Fiachu,
    the grandson of Lug Liamna, bold and keen:15 
    he was the warrior who prayed to go without hire;
    by his hand fell Culdub.
  •  p.67

    15. Faffand

  • Broccaid the powerful with winning of hostages,
    of the bright and famous race of the Galian,
    he had a son, Faifne the poet;
    the record of his final madness is no falsehood.
  • It was she was the mother of the comely son,–
    even Libir quick and eager of mood:
    their daughter was the swift lady of the hosts
    Aige, the noble and skilful.
  • Exceeding fair were the four, curled and gentle;10 
    they were a noble kin, of virtuous behaviour,
    the father and the lovely mother,
    the daughter and the brother soft and fair.
  • The evil spirits made an onset
    (it was no feeble deed of wanton folly):–15 
    they changed into the form of a wild doe
    the noble Aige of the love-spots.
  • She traversed Erin from shore to shore
    fleeing before all the fierce and fiery packs;
    so that she coursed round Banba, land of judges,20 
    bravely, four fair times.
  • Her doings and her valiance had an end,
    here came to pass her final dissolution;
    they tore her in pieces in their wickedness,
    did the warriors of Meilge of Imlech.
  •  p.69
  • 25 Hence is the name of chill Aige
    given to the river of the many-coloured plain
    since she was tortured without secrecy
    and flung upon the flowing water.
  • That ancient stream is deathless till Doomsday,30 
    which pours across Life in furious wise:
    (if you will heed, not wrongly noised abroad (?))–
    Aige is its name for all time.
  • Westward came rushing,
    the swift druid, the skilled poet,35 
    to blemish the famous king of Berre,
    Meilge, son of kindly Cobthach.
  • He denounced rightfully upon the king
    reproach and shame together,
    and disgrace an unremitting harrying ...40 
    in revenge for his sweet sister.
  • The keen poet fell
    by the harsh and horrid cause;
    he was betrayed for ever ...
    for blemishing the king of high Tara.
  • 45 He was chastised, he was maimed,
    he was parted from his misery;
    in Faffand of the wrathful warriors
    he met the pursuit of swift spoilers.
  •  p.71
  • There he begged a boon50 
    at the place where the soldier cut him down (?)
    that his name should serve–O deed of woe!–
    to designate the ancient hill for ever.
  • Known to me with laughter (?) in sooth
    is the death of Libir and Broccaid;55 
    not obscure is the cause whence is named
    the rath where Broccaid was buried.
  •  p.73

    16. Almu I

  • Almu of the Leinstermen, a fort of the Fians,
    an abode that Find the truly noble used to frequent:
    hither came by chance one of no common line,
    the woman from whom Almu is so called.
  • Almu is the name of the man who got the place
    in the time of Nemed of mighty renown;
    he died there on the green hill
    of a sudden sickness in a moment.
  • Almu, beautiful was the woman!10 
    the wife of Nuadu Mor, son of Achi;
    she entreated–just was the award–
    that her name should be on the entire hill.
  • Nuadu the druid was a fierce man;
    by him was built a fort strong and high:15 
    by him alum was rubbed on the rock
    over the whole fort, after it was marked out.
  • All white is the fort (bitter strife),
    as if it had received the lime of all Erin,
    from the alum he put on his house,20 
    thence is Almu so named.
  • Tadc, son of Nuadu, who strengthens valour,
    the druid of Cathair Mor great in fame,
    to him his father left
    Almu with her noble possessions.
  • 25 Tadc the strong had a lovely daughter
    whose name was Murni Fair-neck;
    the woman was demanded by Cumall;
    Tadc the white-sided refused her.
  •  p.75
  • Cumall carried her off by force30 
    the daughter of Tadc, though it was an ugly deed;
    for a year, without right and without victory,
    did Cumall the warrior possess Murni.
  • Tadc wept gustily
    before Cond the brave of the hundred fights:35 
    he taunted him–enormous the evil!–
    he reviled him,–great was the hurt!
  • Sentence is given by Cond the brave
    against Cumall that he should leave Banba;
    so they fought the battle of Cnucha there,40 
    and Cumall fell before Cond.
  • Nine hours before the battle was fought
    was begotten the Man of Luck;
    on the daughter of Tadc the white-sided
    Find the true warrior was begotten.
  • 45 Murni came after the slaying of her husband,
    and fared to Almu the all-white;
    plaintive, sorrowful she was,
    it was not fitting for the high-born lady.
  • Lovely and gracious was the princess,50 
    and she was great with child;
    Tadc threatened (great the deed!)
    to kill and make an end of her.
  • Said Cond of the white palm:
    "I hold it better she should bear a son;55 
    the same mother, with her substance,
    had Cumall and my father."
  • Vehemently is she rejected by Tadc,
    (to Murni it was cause of tears)
    yet he did not dare to do what he spoke of–60 
    to destroy them or slay them suddenly.
  •  p.77
  • She came to fair Temair of Fail,
    Murni Fair-Neck ...-Skin;
    she asked the blameless Cond
    of her destiny and her disposal.
  • 65 "Go thou," said Cond, "thou has my leave
    to Fiacail Fí, son of Conchend:
    the own-sister of Cumall dwells with him
    Bodmall ..."
  • She went to Temair Margi,70 
    did Murni White-neck the high-born;
    Conla, servant of Cond the blameless
    ... to dispose of her.
  • Joyful to see her was the pleasant youth
    Fiacail Fí, son of Conchend;75 
    joyful was Bodmall, right heartily,
    joyful was the whole company.
  • Thereafter was born Find the honoured,
    king of the Fians, high his spirit!
    ... nine years precisely80 
    was he the royal champion of Erin.
  • Find demanded from Tadc of the towers,
    a price for killing Cumall Mor,
    battle without respite, without delay,
    or to get a duel with him man to man.
  • 85 Tadc, since he could not face battle
    against the true-born prince,
    abandoned to him (it was enough for him)
    all Almu as it stood.
  •  p.79

    17. Almu II

  • Almu, she was fair to foot11,
    the daughter of Beccan the bright-robed,
    the wife of Iuchna of the tresses, with a hundred head of cattle,
    from whom Almu sought to be named.
  • Many were its excellences, many its troops,
    many its hosts, many its ancient hostels,
    its fame was known in melody,
    whence it is called mighty Almu.
  • When there mustered in their meeting-place10 
    the Fianna of Cumall's son, frank of face,
    thou wast a seat of men fierce with the spear,
    thou wast a high rock, O Almu!
  • When Clann Bresail of the ceaseless strife
    came to her splendid feast,15 
    with desire of good cheer, across the stream of Segais,
    noble Almu was aliment for them.
  •  p.81

    18. Alend

  • Alend, meeting place for our youths,
    rath of Art with his royal roads:
    the chariot pole of victory was he on its plain
    till Fal, son of Fidga, found it:
  • The grave where Conchend planted his roofpole,
    the son of Fergna, a hero of fair fame,
    field-captain of Lugaid, hewer of targes;
    the seat that was Setna Long-staff's:
  • The stead where dwelt stern Messdelmond,10 
    by him was reared its lofty wall;
    from its springs a draught was drained
    by Mess Scegra the Scot of Leinster:
  • The lawn of Ruamand, where the spear-point grew red,
    with the sties of the honourable prince;15 
    a lovely land, a perfect citadel,
    the soller where dwelt Andrithir:
  • The demesne of Fergus Fairge
    a proud and eminent heritage:
    the portion of nimble Find mac Rosa20 
    the royal keep of Bressal Bregaman:
  • Luchdond, who scarred cheeks–alas!,
    from Gabran even unto Ath Cliath!
    in Fal Segi would he swim the water,
    dire were his deeds around Alend:
  •  p.83
  • 25 A furious (?) bear, a flame of valour, 12
    a resting-place giving vigour to heroes
    in the time of Nia Corb (brave chief!)
    thou wast a home of the wise, O Alend!
  • The chariot of Cathair, coffer of treasures;30 
    valiantly did he encompass the leaders of herds;
    burden of all discourse (clear fact!)
    is the high king of Emain and Alend.
  • The chess-board of Fiachu, victorious king,
    fiery dragon (stout his body!);35 
    he drove red spear-points through kings,
    he chained the battalions of Aled.
  • The hill of Bressal Beolach the valorous,
    to him belonged Tuaim Tenbath Temair,
    upon spruce steeds the famous king40 
    brandished the weapons of Alend.
  • A lordly river visits it,
    the Segais which flows from Sid Nechtain,
    and Life, swiftest his waters:
    they beat upon the bare plain of Alend.
  • 45 Three mighty men made essays of trenchings,
    Burech, Fiach, and Aururas:
    it is they who without flagging (clear fact!)
    dug the rampart of Alend.
  •  p.85
  • Buirech cast from him straightway50 
    across the rampart (no weakling he!)–
    a stone he cast from his spear-arm;
    and that is the ail in Alend.
  • Here dwelt the wife of the strong-limbed,
    heroic daughter of Lugaid;55 
    the clan was not disgraced by her repute; 13
    from her came the royal name of Alend.
  • Document details

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    Title statement

    Title (uniform): The Metrical Dindshenchas

    Title (supplementary): Volume 2

    Title (supplementary): English translation

    Editor: Edward Gwynn

    Responsibility statement

    translated by: Edward Gwynn

    Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber and Saorla Ó Corráin

    Funded by: University College, CorkThe Connacht Project, the Centre for the Study of Human Settlement and Political Change, NUI Galway and the HEA via the LDT Project

    Edition statement

    2. Second draft.

    Extent: 11435 words

    Publication statement

    Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

    Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

    Date: 2004

    Date: 2008

    Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

    CELT document ID: T106500B

    Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

    Availability: Copyright for the printed edition lies with the School of Celtic Studies (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies).

    Series statement

    Title (): Todd Lecture Series

    CELT document ID: 9

    Source description

    Manuscript sources

    1. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 1229, olim 23 E 25, al. Leabhar na hUidhre.
    2. Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 1339 olim H. 2. 18, al. the Book of Leinster, pp. 151–170 and 191–216 of facsimile.
    3. Rennes, Bibliothèque Municipale, The Rennes MS, ff. 90–125.
    4. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 P 12, The Book of Ballymote, pp. 349–410.
    5. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 P 2, al. the Book of Lecan, pp. 461–525.
    6. Trinity College Dublin, The Yellow Book of Lecan, H 2 16, pp. 438–455 of facsimile.
    7. Trinity College Dublin, MS H 3 3 (1322).
    8. Trinity College Dublin, MS H 2 15 b (1317), pp. 157–end (a copy of H).
    9. Trinity College Dublin, MS E 4 1 (1436).
    10. Trinity College Dublin, MS H 2 4, pp. 462–590 (an 18th cent copy of B).
    11. Trinity College Dublin, MS H 1 15 (1289), pp. 409–532 (an 18th cent copy of B).
    12. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, The Book of Huí Maine, Stowe, D II 1, ff. 143–169.
    13. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Stowe, D II 2.
    14. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Stowe, B II 2. A fragment.
    15. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Stowe, B III 1.
    16. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Reeves, 832, pp. 61–197.


    • The poems on Ráth Essa, Faffand and Almu I were published in the Todd Lecture Series, vol. 7; the poem on Inber n-Ailbine in Atlantis 4, 235, from materials left by O'Curry; the poem on Lagin II appeared in Stokes' Bodleian Dindshenchas, p. 7, and in Atkinsons's and Bernard's

      Title (): Liber Hymnorum


    Secondary literature: a selection

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    The edition used in the digital edition

    Gwynn, Edward, ed. (1991). The Metrical Dindshenchas‍. 2nd ed. reprinted 1941. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

    You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

      title 	 = {The Metrical Dindshenchas},
      UNKNOWN 	 = {title},
      editor 	 = {Edward Gwynn},
      edition 	 = {2},
      note 	 = {vii + 108 pp.},
      publisher 	 = {Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies},
      address 	 = {Dublin},
      date 	 = {1991},
      note 	 = {first published 1906},
      note 	 = {reprinted 1941}


    Encoding description

    Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

    Sampling declarations

    The present text represents odd pages 3–85 of the volume. All editorial introduction, apparatus, extensive notes and footnotes have been omitted. The Irish text is available as a separate file. Editorial addenda and corrigenda from volume 5, pp. 126–130, are integrated in the electronic edition.

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    Correction: Text proofread twice. Text supplied by the editor is tagged sup resp="EG". Corrections are tagged corr sic resp="EG"; where the emendation is tentative, the corresponding 'cert' attribute has been allocated a value of 40 per cent. Corrections suggested in writings by Kuno Meyer, Rudolf Thurneysen and Patrick Dinneen are marked.

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    Segmentation: div0=the whole text; div1=the volume; div2=the individual poem; page-breaks and line-breaks are marked. The text is based mainly on the Book of Leinster. Folio numbers of the manuscript are not indicated in the printed edition. Passages in verse are marked by poem, stanza and line.

    Standard values: Dates are standardized in the ISO form yyyy-mm-dd.

    Interpretation: Names are not tagged. A few terms in Irish are tagged as such.

    Reference declaration

    A canonical reference to a location in this text should be made using “poem”, eg poem 1.

    Profile description

    Creation: Translation by Edward Gwynn [for details of Irish text see file G106500B].

    Date: c. 1905

    Language usage

    • The translation is in English. (en)
    • Some words in Old and Middle Irish are retained. (ga)

    Keywords: place-lore; poetry; medieval; translation

    Revision description

    (Most recent first)

    1. 2011-02-03: Header updated; new wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    2. 2008-10-22: Keywords added; file validated, header updated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    3. 2008-07-27: Value of div0 "type" attribute modified, title elements streamlined, content of 'langUsage' revised; minor modifications made to header. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    4. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
    5. 2005-08-04T16:38:09+0100: Converted to XML (ed. Peter Flynn)
    6. 2005-01-18: Line-breaks marked up; file parsed using nsgmls; html file created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    7. 2004-29-11: Editorial corrections integrated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    8. 2004-29-11: Editorial corrections integrated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    9. 2004-15-11: Provisional header created; individual poems proofed (2), tagged and integrated into file. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
    10. 2004-05-18: First proofing of text. (ed. Saorla Ó Corráin)
    11. 2004-05-15: Text scanned. (data capture Saorla Ó Corráin)

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    For details of the markup, see the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

    page of the print edition

    folio of the manuscript

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     999 line number of the print edition (in grey: interpolated)

    underlining: text supplied, added, or expanded editorially

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    Other languages

    G106500B: The Metrical Dindshenchas (in Irish)

    Source document


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    1. R. Th. Heldensage 618, footnote, would read 'immo les ndían co ndernta', and render: 'Midir prayed Sigmall, in regard to his sudden request, that it should be fulfilled'. 🢀

    2. This is perhaps Congalach, lord of the Gailenga, died 978 (AFM). 🢀

    3. or 'far-shouting'. 🢀

    4. Perhaps='the princely spear-head'. 🢀

    5. [This line and the following might perhaps be translated as] 'the man of evil, poisonous as a field of blood, claims the rental of the strong-clad communities'. 🢀

    6. read 'glan a gné', 'bright his form'. 🢀

    7. Perhaps na suíthe snass, 'the polished learning of sages'. 🢀

    8. Or, '... at his absolute command'. 🢀

    9. Read 'fuillid', 'add' (his name). 🢀

    10. [For this and the following line, Gwynn suggests] 'the serpent's filth made the stream murmur and seethe, without delay.' 🢀

    11. i.e. 'from head to foot'. 🢀

    12. Arrange [this quatrain] thus: 'in the time of Nia Corb, fierce bear, Alend, lusty nursery for heroes, was a home of herds'. 🢀

    13. [For this line and the following read] 'who bore the royal name, Alend,–the folk that was called after her was not unreputed'. 🢀


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