CELT document T302024

The Courtship of Momera


Tochmarc Moméra

The Courtship of Momera



At a certain time Eoghan Taidhleach was on the lawn of the residence of his own father, Mogh Neid, at Rath Airthir Femhin. He was not long there till he saw three youths there coming towards him at the end of the lawn. “Prosperous be thy pleasant works, O youth,” said they. “The same to you, O youths,” said he. “It is happy for thee,” said they. “It is happy, indeed,” said he. “Ye shall have share of the happiness,” said Eoghan. “Dost thou not thyself know, O youth,” said they, “the happiness which is destined for thee.” “I have not knowledge of it as yet,” said he. “We have the knowledge of it for thee,” said the youths: “Two names thou hast had until this day; thou shalt have the third name now; and thy seed shall rule over Erinn, and thou shalt not rule until they do so. It is certain that thou shalt not find a spouse until thou reachest the river Eibhear in Spain, and it is there thou shalt take a spouse; and she shall be the daughter of the king of Spain: and shall bear to thee four children; and there shall be a champion of them, and his seed shall prevail over Erinn, as we have said already before this time. And there shall be champions of them, and they shall have the attribute of championhood too. And there shall be two beautiful; distinguished, charming princesses of them: and the names of these four shall be, Ailill, the eldest son of them; and Coemhill, the daughter of Eoghan, shall be the next to him; and Lughaidh shall be  p.155 next to her, and numerous shall be the death of warriors by him; and the last opener of the womb will be Scoithniamh the daughter of Eoghan. And do thou set out to visit her, that is, to ask her in marriage at early dawn of light and day on to-morrow.” “How did ye get a knowledge of this, O youths,” said Eoghan. “Not unpleasant to tell: We are the three sons of Antipater the Druid, out of Spain. And he sought the best intelligence of his divination as he was requested; [and] he communicated it to the king, that is, he told it him. And then he said: Go from me, Ahaidh, that is, O Fathaidh, said he, said Eibhear, said the king of Spain, and ask for me of the Druid of what breed, or race, or tribe or family, shall the man be who will espouse that little daughter who is in my presence, that is, my own daughter.”

“Then I went and ordered the Druid to make a prophecy for the king for the fortunes of his daughter. And the Druid consulted his highest knowledge; and it was revealed to him that it was out of Ceasar's Island, viz., out of Erinn, the spouse of his daughter should be. What shape of a man out of Erinn would I give my daughter to, said Eibhear. An illustrious man shall come, said the Druid, out of the Island of the sons of Mileadh, to visit thee; and they have conquered thirty-seven ancient cantreds in the bright Island in which they are. I ask when he shall come, said Eibhear. When messengers from thee go to him, said the Druid. Send thou messengers to him, said Eibhear to the Druid, to where this youth whom thou promisest resides. And the Druid sent his three sons, and their names are these, viz., Fathe, and Fis, and Firinne. The Druid then ordered us to come to thee; and come thou with us at dawn of day to-morrow, and let not many hear of it from thee and let her not hear of it from thee, namely, the daughter of Eochaidh, thy mother,  p.157 for it is certain that she would not allow thee to go upon the waves of the ocean if she heard of it.” “Go ye, O youths,” [said Eoghan] “as all others do, into the great court, until early dawn of day to-morrow, and I shall come to you at the dusk of the closing day.” They went into the court, and he remained at his field-sports till the end of the day. He went then to where the youths were. They remained there till dawn of day, and the youths laid hands upon him to induce him to go with them. The young man went out upon an earthern mound, and the other youths went after him, namely, the sons of the Druid: “Well, youth,” said they, “wilt thou come where thou promisedst?” “I will go, indeed,” said he. “In what number will you go?” said they. “None shall go [said he] but myself and my five foster-brothers here, Ut, and Oenara, and Fiacha Suighthi the son of Feidhlimidh Reachtaidh; and Aiglenn, the son of the king of Osraighe, another foster-brother of mine; and after him Maghur the son of the king of the south of Erinn, after whom Glenn Maghair is called at this day; and Gaisgedhach the son of the king of West Mumhain, another foster-brother of mine; and Tighernach  p.159 the son of the king of Connacht, another foster-brother of mine, and Mosadh my servant, after whom Magh Mosadh is called.”

They went forth on the way to where the ship of the youths was, and where she lay was in Dun-na-mBarc in the west of Erinn. They set out on their course over the ridge of the sea, the nine youths. They went that night to Innsi-na-faircsiona. The reason why it is called Inis-na-faircsiona is, because Erinn and Spain are seen from it. They staid that night in that island.

The king [of Spain] said on this morning to the Druid: “Discover for us the history of the youths who have gone upon the surface of the sea from us.” “I will tell thee that now,” said he. “It was on yesterday they came on their voyage, and they will arrive in Spain to-night.”

  1. Those who have come from afar,
    Pleasantly has their coming happened;
    Their seed shall spread over the Magh Fail,
    The men who this night will reach Spain.

They went into their ship after this, and reached the shore of Spain. They had service and attendance bestowed upon them, and they were brought to the king of Spain's court, that is, to Breogan's Tower in Spain. They received a kind and friendly welcome. They were served and waited upon. They were given the newest of food and the oldest of ale. They spent that night there, and they were not spoken to touching the business upon which they went, or did they speak of it to any one. “Well, my son Eoghan,” said Fiacha Suighdhe, “if thou art asked to marry the princess, send a person to speak to the Druid, and let gifts be offered him, and wealth; and let him say that there is not wedding luck until the end of a year, in order that we may watch the daughter for the year; and that we may observe the customs of the strange country into which we have come.” “I think that time too long, O youth,” said Eoghan. While they were thus engaged they saw the  p.161 king's messengers coming towards them. “Well, O youths,” said the messengers, “when will you execute that about which you have come?” “It is not with us to delay it at all,” said Eoghan, “but whenever the king desires it.” Then his messengers went to where the king was, and told him the answer of the youths. Then the king asked the Druid who was with him, when would be the lucky wedding time for them. “It is my opinion,” said the Druid, “that there cannot be found for them a time more propitious than this night; let us go to the house in which the youths are.” The king, accompanied by the nobles of Spain, went to the house in which the youths were; and he questioned them all as to their lineage; and they, then told him, as it appears already above. And then they were behanded, and bedded, and he was not asked for gifts or Wealth. “O youths,” said the king, “if you all had come to me to ask for gifts or wealth, or riches, I would give them to ye; and I will, therefore, forgive you my daughter's presents and dowry.” Then the people went into the Army-house, and they partook of a banquet of drinking and eating, out of thickly studded carved horns; and out of golden vessels, and of cups made of Finndruine, and every word of theirs was a command. Rich couches were prepared for them, and they went into their couches and beds; and their music and melodies were played for them. They continued in their beds until the sun had filled the hills and territories of Spain. They remained so for three days and three nights, with sports each day, and drink each night. At the end of three days and nights, presents, and wealth, and riches were given to the princess. Their history from that out is not what shall he brought forward; but they remained to the end of a year in Spain. There is a river across the middle of Spain, the River Eibhear is its name; and every seventh year there comes into it a salmon from the secret recesses of creation, and wool growing through him. And it was then that the same Druid said to the princess: “It is to-day it is destined for thee to find that from which the third name shall be upon thy spouse and companion. And go thou unto the river this day, that is, the River Eibhear; and it is today it is destined that the salmon shall come into it; and seven years  p.163 this day it came last. And let him be caught by thee, and let his wool be taken off him by thee. Since Lighbhratach1, the daughter of the king of Spain was here; and four years that were between her and thy father.” And dixit:

  1. Go to the river, O woman,
    Thy cause shall be heard,
    Till thou bringest from it an unfailing garment
    From which shall be Eoghan Taidhleach. 2

They went to the river, and they laid a snare for the salmon until they caught him; and the covering that was upon him was taken off him; and she made a cloak for her spouse from the wool that was upon the salmon; and all colours that were in him were in that cloak. The day that he would put the cloak upon him, the colour that appeared to the man that was near to him, was not that which was shown to the man that was nearest to himself [again]. The king looked at him then, and the moment he did, he became all shining both face and vesture. “By my word,” said the king, “Eoghan is all as shining as his cloak now.” “A long time is it destined and prophesied,” said the Druid, “that that name would be upon him, and it shall be upon him until he receives death and destruction, viz., Eoghan Taidhleach, and he shall afterwards be called Eoghan Fidheach.”

“I think it time,” said the youth, “to go to my country, my inheritance, and my land.” “Go, my son,” said the Druid, “upon the surface of the sea. Thou shalt arrive safely, and thy father is before thee in his sovereignty; and take thy wife and ye will be but nine nights in Erinn when she shall bring forth the being which is in her womb; and the mouths of the men of Erinn shall be full of him.” There were presents, and wealth, and riches, given to them. They continued till the early dawn of the next day. “The luck and the omen has become strong,” said the Druid to them. And they went into their ships, and they filled six ships. And the Druid came to them when they were going into their ships, and put his breast to the ship in which Eoghan was, and said to him: “Great shall be the contest of people with thee  p.165 in the country into which thou art going; but it is certain that thou wilt not permit (all) Erinn to any one; and that there is one who will not permit it to thee; and it (Erinn) shall be divided between you.”

There came with him the company of six ships, who were at his own command and pay. And where they arrived at was at Dun Corcan in West Munster. They then went ashore; and their arrival was told all over Erinn. And Cathair Mor was Monarch of Erinn at his coming. And after that, now, messengers were sent by him to address Cathair Mor; and a territory was asked by him from him. “I will give him the site of a court in the province of Connacht; and I will give him two courts in the two provinces of Mumhain.” And it was then that Dubh-thelach was given him in Curoi's Province; and Druim Ard [High Ridge, or hill] was given him in the province of Connacht; and Telach-an-t-Sloigh was given him in Uibh Liathain. Eoghan came then to see the places that were given; and pangs of labour and parturition seized upon the princess; and she brought forth a beautiful son; and the Druid said: “great will be the fame of his exploits through the countries around him.” And he was baptized in druidic streams, and [the name of] Ailill was given to him. And he had an addition to his name afterwards. And his own father came, and they commenced to dig for the court and noble residence. And the son was carried to the court of his own, [Eoghan's] mother and father. And he [Eoghan] cut down trees all round him, and dug up the ground with them. And he thought the force of the hands of the men too little without having the force of their feet along with it; and the invention of mind which he discovered was, to put returns (treadles) upon the trees which were in the hands of the men. “It is our conviction,” said the  p.167 Druid's son, “that it is this day all thy names are upon thee: from those returns thou hast put upon the trees, thou shalt be Eoghan Fidhfhecach3. And thou shalt build the three courts that have been given thee; and Fidhfheccai shall be the name of every court of them; and thou shalt conquer the half of all Erinn by them.” Abundant is the account of his doings thenceforth.

And that is the courtship of Momera, the daughter of the king of Spain when she wedded Eoghan Taidhleach; and the birth of Ailill Oluim.

Document details

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Title statement

Title (uniform): The Courtship of Momera

Title (original, Irish): Tochmarc Moméra

Author: unknown

Responsibility statement

translated by: Eugene Curry

Electronic edition compiled and proofread by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: University College, Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft.

Extent: 3315 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: 2014

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

CELT document ID: T302024

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

Notes statement

The original title used by O'Curry is Tochmarc Monéra, The Courtship of Monera. The tale is however usually known as Tochmarc Moméra, The Courtship of Momera.

Source description

Manuscript source for the Irish original

  • Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 1318, 341; olim H 2 16, or Yellow Book of Lecan, Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Trinity College, Dublin, compiled by T. K. Abbott (Dublin 1900) 329. Digital manuscript images are available on ISOS (www.isos.dias.ie).


  • Eugene Curry (=Eugene O'Curry) (ed. and trans.), The Battle of Magh Leana together with The Courtship of Momera (Dublin: Celtic Society, 1855) 152–167.


  1. Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (ed.), Cath Maighe Léna, Mediaeval and Modern Irish Series 9 (Dublin 1938).
  2. T. F. O'Rahilly, Early Irish history and mythology (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1946).
  3. Sharon Arbuthnot, Cóir anmann: a late Middle Irish treatise on personal names, vol. 1: Part 1, ITS 59 (London: 2005) 65–66.

Internet availability of O'Curry's edition

  • See http://www.archive.org

The edition used in the digital edition

Curry, Eugene, ed. (1855). The Battle of Magh Leana together with The Courtship of Momera‍. 1st ed. xxiv + 196 pp. v: Contents; vii-xxiv: Introduction; 1–149 Cath Mhuighe Léana / The Battle of Magh Leana; 151–167 Tochmarc Monéra / The Courtship of Monera; 168: Erratum and Addendum; 169–175 Appendix 1 (Genealogical Tables): 176–187 Appendix 2 (On the Irish Law of Tanaisteacht): 189–196: Index. Dublin: Celtic Society.

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

  title 	 = {The Battle of Magh Leana together with The Courtship of Momera},
  editor 	 = {Eugene Curry},
  edition 	 = {1},
  note 	 = {xxiv + 196 pp. v: Contents; vii-xxiv: Introduction; 1–149 Cath Mhuighe Léana / The Battle of Magh Leana; 151–167 Tochmarc Monéra / The Courtship of Monera; 168: Erratum and Addendum; 169–175 Appendix 1 (Genealogical Tables): 176–187 Appendix 2 (On the Irish Law of Tanaisteacht): 189–196: Index.},
  publisher 	 = {Celtic Society },
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  date 	 = {1855}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The text covers odd pages 153–167. All but three editorial notes have been omitted. The Irish version is available in a separate file. Text supplied by the editor is marked sup resp="EOC". In two instances the translation adds or omits a few words of text.

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Correction: The text has been proofed twice.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text.

Quotation: Direct speech has been marked q in the electronic edition.

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Segmentation: div0=the tale. Lines are numbered according to the lineation of the printed text. Poems are treated as embedded texts, with line-groups and lines marked.

Interpretation: Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Page breaks are marked pb n="", line-breaks are marked lb n="".

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

Profile description

Creation: The translation was created by Eugene O'Curry

Date: 1855

Language usage

  • The translation is in English. (en)
  • One words is in Middle Irish. (ga)
  • One formulaic word is in Latin. (la)

Keywords: saga; prose; medieval; wooing; Kings Cycle; Spain; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-08-08: Translation supplied for one untranslated sentence at end of text. (ed. Donnchadh Ó Corráin)
  2. 2014-08-08: File proofed (2); structural and content encoding applied. Personal and place-names tagged. File re-parsed, SGML and HTML versions created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2014-08-07: TEI header created; file proofed (1). (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2014-08-06: Text captured by scanning. (data capture Beatrix Färber)

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G302024: Tochmarc Moméra (in Irish)

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  1. There is a sentence, at least, omitted here by the original transcriber. 🢀

  2. i.e. Eoghan the shining. 🢀

  3. i.e. Eoghan Fidh-fecach, i.e. Eoghan of the return-trees. The word Feac signifies now in Munster the spade-tree (handle) alone; and the treadle or return, which is generally a distinct piece, is called Eric. But in Meath and the eastern part of Leinster, they call the whole spade a fac (feac). 🢀


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