CELT document T303014

The Hiding of the Hill of Howth


Uath Beinne Etair

Edited by Kuno Meyer

Whole text

The Hiding of the Hill of Howth


Once Diarmuid son of Donn grandson of Duibne, was  p.132 in the cave of the Hill of Howth (Ben Etair), after having carried off Grainne the daughter of Cormac in elopement from Finn. An old woman was with Diarmuid at that time, watching over him wherever he would be. The old woman went out of the cave, and when she was on the top of the Hill of Howth, she saw an armed man coming towards her alone. It was Finn, the warrior-king. The old woman asked tidings of him. “To woo thee I have come,” said Finn, “and the cause I will tell thee afterwards, and what I desire is that thou shouldst live with me as my only wife.” The old woman believed the words of Finn, and promised him to do his will. But what Finn desired of her was to betray Diarmuid to him. The old bag consented to this. She dipped her cloak into the salt water and then went into the cave. Diarmuid asked why she was so wet. “I confess,” said she, “I never saw or heard the like of it for cold and storms. For the frost has spread over the hillocks, and there is not a smooth plain in all Elga, in which there is not a long rushing river between every two ridges,” said she. “And no deer or raven in Erin finds shelter in a cave or in any other place, or on an island, or in a bay of Falmag.” Craftily she shook her raiment across the cave, and sang these staves:

  1. Cold, cold!
    Cold tonight is the broad plain of Lurg,
    Higher the snow than the mountain-range,
    The deer cannot get at their food.
  2.  p.133
  3. Cold till Doom!
    The storm has spread over all:
    A river is each furrow upon the slope,
    Each ford a full pool.
  4. A great sea is each loch, which is full,
    A full loch is each pool.
    Horses do not get over Ross-ford,
    No more do two feet get there.
  5. The fishes of Inis Fáil are a-roaming,
    There is no strand that a wave does not beat
    In the lands there is no house visible,
    Not a bell is heard, no crane talks.
  6. The hounds of Cuan-wood find not
    Rest nor sleep in the dwelling of hounds,
    The little wren cannot find
    Shelter in her nest on Lon-slope.
  7. On the little company of the birds has broken forth
    Keen wind and cold ice,
    The blackbird cannot get a lee to her liking,
    Shelter at the side in Cuan-woods.
  8. Cosy our pot on the hook,
    Crazy the hut on Lon-slope:
    The snow has smoothed the wood here,
    Toilsome to climb by kine-horned staves.
  9. Glenn Rigi's ancient bird
    From the bitter wind gets grief, p.134
    Great her misery and her pain,
    The ice will get into her mouth.
  10. From flock and from down to rise
    —Take it to heart!—were folly for thee:
    Ice in heaps on every ford,
    That is why I keep saying “cold”!

The old woman went out after that. As for Grainne, when she noticed that the old woman had gone, she put out her hand on the garment that was about her, and put it on her tongue, and found the taste of salt on her cloak. “Woe, oh Diarmaid!” she cried, “the old woman has betrayed thee. And arise quickly and take thy warrior's dress about thee!” Diarmaid did so, and went out, and Grainne with him. Then they beheld the warrior-king with the fianna around him coming towards them. Diarmaid glanced (?) aside on the sea around Erinn, and saw a skiff in the shelter of the harbour near him. He and Grainne with him went into it. One man was awaiting them in the little boat with a beautiful raiment about him, with a broad-braided golden-yellow mantle over his shoulder behind. That was Oengus of the Brug, the fosterfather of Diarmaid, who had come to rescue him from the night-watch (?) which he was in from Finn and the fianna of Erinn.

Document details

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File description

Title statement

Title (uniform): The Hiding of the Hill of Howth

Title (original, Irish): Uath Beinne Etair

Author: unknown

Editor: Kuno Meyer

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled and proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: The HEA via PRTLI 4

Edition statement

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 2600 words

Publication statement

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

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland

Date: 2009

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

CELT document ID: T303014

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

Source description

Manuscript sources for the original

  1. London, British Library, MS Harley 5280, fol 35rb-35va (used in Meyer's edition). Vellum; early 16th century.
  2. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS 23 N 10: p 13-14. Vellum (pp. 1-28) and paper; 1575.
  3. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS C III 2: f 10ra. Vellum; 1552. (interpolated in 'Amra Choluim Chille').


  • Nessa Ní Shéaghdha, Tóruigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne. Dublin 1967, pp. 130-137 (from 23 N 10).

Editions of related tales and secondary literature

  1. Kuno Meyer (ed. and trans.), Fianaigecht: Being a collection of hitherto inedited Irish poems and tales relating to Finn and his Fiana, with an English translation. Royal Irish Academy; Todd Lecture Series 16; Dublin and London 1910. (Repr. 1937 and 1993, DIAS, Dublin). [Still a standard work, comprising introduction to the Finn Cycle, annotated editions of various tales, with English translation, Glossary of the rarer words, and indexes of personal names, tribe names and place names.]
  2. Gertrude Schoepperle, Tristan and Isolt: a study of the sources of the romance, 2 vols. (London & Frankfurt/Main 1913).
  3. Duanaire Finn, the Book of the Lays of Fionn, 3 vols; 1: Irish text with translation (part I); ed. by Eoin Mac Néill, ITS 7 (1908); 2: Irish text with translation (part II); ed. by Gerard Murphy, ITS 28 (1933); 3: Introduction, Notes, Appendices, Indexes and Glossary; ed. by Gerard Murphy, Anne O'Sullivan, Idris L. Foster, Brendan Jennings, ITS 43 (1953).
  4. Raymond J. Cormier, 'Open contrast: Tristan and Diarmaid', in: Speculum 51/ 4 (October 1976) 589–601.
  5. James MacKillop, Fionn mac Cumhaill: Celtic Myth in English Literature. Syracuse 1986. [With useful, well-structured bibliography on pp. 197–249].
  6. Daithí Ó hÓgáin, Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of a Gaelic Hero. Dublin 1988.
  7. Máirtín Ó Briain, Review of above, Bealoideas 57 (1989) 174–183.
  8. Donald E. Meek, Review of above, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 22 (Winter 1991) 101–103.
  9. Mary Brockington, 'The separating Sword in the "Tristran" Romances: Possible Celtic analogues re-examined', in: The Modern Language Review 91/2 (April 1996) 281–300.

The edition used in the digital edition

‘Uath Beinne Etair’ (1890). In: Revue Celtique‍ 11. Ed. by Kuno Meyer. 125–134: 131–134.

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

  editor 	 = {Kuno Meyer},
  title 	 = {Uath Beinne Etair},
  journal 	 = {Revue Celtique},
  number 	 = {11},
  address 	 = {Paris},
  publisher 	 = {Émile Bouillon},
  date 	 = {1890},
  note 	 = {125–134: 131–134}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling declarations

The electronic text covers pages 131–134. The Irish text is available in a separate file.

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Correction: Text has been proof-read twice.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text including footnotes. The ae-ligatures have been rendered ae; f/s with overdot are rendered fh/sh. Text supplied by the editor is marked sup resp="KM"; footnoted editorial corrections take the form of corr sic="" resp="KM". Corrigenda from RC 17, 319 are integrated. Missing portions of text are indicated by gap. When displayed in HTML format (due to its constraints) both expansions and supplied text appear in italics. When in doubt, users are asked to consult the SGML/XML master file to identify the markup.

Quotation: Quotations are rendered q.

Hyphenation: When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, the page-break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word (and punctuation).

Segmentation: div0=the tale.

Interpretation: Names of persons (given names) and places are not tagged.

Profile description

Creation: The English translation is by Kuno Meyer

Date: 1889

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)
  • One word is in Latin. (la)
  • One term is in Irish. (ga)

Keywords: tale; Finn Cycle; prose; poetry; medieval; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2009-08-18: Header created; file parsed; SGML and HTML file created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2009-08-17: Text proof-read (1, 2); structural and content markup added. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2009-08-17: Text scanned. (text capture Beatrix Färber)

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G303014: Uath Beinne Etair (in Irish)

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