cattle raid of cualnge


The Death of Redg the Satirist

It is then that Redg, Ailill's satirist, went to him on an errand to seek the javelin, that is, Cuchulainn's spear.

'Give me your spear,' said the satirist.

'Not so,' said Cuchulainn; 'but I will give you treasure.'

'I will not take it,' said the satirist.

Then Cuchulainn wounded the satirist, because he would not accept from him what he offered him, and the satirist said he would take away his honour unless he got the javelin. Then Cuchulainn threw the javelin at him, and it went right through his head.

'This gift is overpowering (?),' said the satirist. Hence is Ath Tolam Set.

There was now a ford east of it, where the copper of the javelin rested; Humarrith, then, is the name of that ford. It is there that Cuchulainn killed all those that we have mentioned in Cuib; i.e. Nathcoirpthe at his trees; Cruthen on his ford; the sons of the Herd at their cairn; Marc on his hill; Meille on his hill; Bodb in his tower; Bogaine in his marsh (?).

Cuchulainn turned back to Mag Murthemne; he liked better to defend his own home. After he went, he killed the men of Crocen (or Cronech), i.e. Focherd; twenty men of Focherd. He overtook them taking camp: ten cup-bearers and ten fighting-men.

Medb turned back from the north when she had remained a fortnight ravaging the province, and when she had fought a battle against Findmor, wife of Celtchar Mac Uthidir. And after taking Dun Sobairche upon her, she brought fifty women into the province of Dalriada. Wherever Medb placed a horse-switch in Cuib its name is Bile Medba;1 every ford and every hill by which she slept, its name is Ath Medba and Dindgna Medba.

They all meet then at Focherd, both Ailill and Medb and the troop that drove the Bull. But their herd took their Bull from them, and they drove him across into a narrow gap with their spear-shafts on their shields(?)2. So that the feet of the cattle drove him3 through the ground. Forgemen was the herd's name. He is there afterwards, so that that is the name of the hill, Forgemen. There was no annoyance to them that night, provided a man were got toward off Cuchulainn on the ford.

'Let a sword-truce be asked by us from Cuchulainn,' said Ailill.

'Let Lugaid go for it,' said every one.

Lugaid goes then to speak to him.

'How am I now with the host?' said Cuchulainn.

'Great indeed is the mockery that you asked of them,' said Lugaid, 'that is, your women and your maidens and half your cattle. And they think it heavier than anything to be killed and to provide you with food.'

A man fell there by Cuchulainn every day to the end of a week. Fair-play is broken with Cuchulainn: twenty are sent to attack him at one time; and he killed them all.

'Go to him, O Fergus,' said Ailill, 'that he may allow us a change of place.'

They go then to Cronech. This is what fell by him in single combat at this place: two Roths, two Luans, two female horse messengers,4 ten fools, ten cup-bearers, ten Ferguses, six Fedelms, six Fiachras. These then were all killed by him in single combat. When they pitched their tents in Cronech, they considered what they should do against Cuchulainn.

'I know,' said Medb, 'what is good in this case: let a message be sent from us to ask him that we may have a sword-truce from him towards the host, and he shall have half the cattle that are here.'

This message is taken to him.

'I will do this,' said Cuchulainn, 'provided the compact is not broken by you.'


The Meeting of Cuchulainn and Findabair

'Let an offer go to him,' said Ailill, 'that Findabair will be given to him on condition that he keeps away from the hosts.'

Mane Athramail goes to him. He goes first to Loeg.

'Whose man are you?' said he.

Loeg does not speak to him. Mane spoke to him thrice in this way.

'Cuchulainn's man,' said he, 'and do not disturb me, lest I strike your head off.'

'This man is fierce,' said Mane, turning from him. He goes then to speak to Cuchulainn. Now Cuchulainn had taken off his tunic, and the snow was round him up to his waist as he sat, and the snow melted round him a cubit for the greatness of the heat of the hero.

Mane said to him in the same way thrice, 'whose man was he?'

'Conchobar's man, and do not disturb me. If you disturb me any longer, I will strike your head from you as the head is taken from a blackbird.'

'It is not easy,' said Mane, 'to speak to these two.'

Mane goes from them then and tells his tale to Ailill and Medb.

'Let Lugaid go to him,' said Ailill, 'and offer to him the maiden.'

Lugaid goes then and tells Cuchulainn that.

'O friend Lugaid,' said Cuchulainn, 'this is a snare.'

'It is the king's word that has said it,' said Lugaid; 'there will be no snare therefrom.'

'Let it be done so,' said Cuchulainn.

Lugaid went from him therewith, and tells Ailill and Medb that answer.

'Let the fool go in my form,' said Ailill, 'and a king's crown on his head, and let him stand at a distance from Cuchulainn lest he recognise him, and let the maiden go with him, and let him betroth her to him, and let them depart quickly in this way; and it is likely that you will play a trick on him thus, so that he will not hinder you, till he comes with the Ulstermen to the battle.'

Then the fool goes to him, and the maiden also; and it was from a distance he spoke to Cuchulainn. Cuchulainn goes to meet them. It happened that he recognised by the man's speech that he was a fool. He threw a sling stone that was in his hand at him, so that it sprang into his head and brought his brains out. Then he comes to the maiden, cuts her two tresses off, and thrusts a stone through her mantle and through her tunic, and thrusts a stone pillar through the middle of the fool. There are their two pillars there: the pillar of Findabair, and the fool's pillar.

Cuchulainn left them thus. A party was sent from Ailill and Medb to seek out their folk, for they thought they were long; they were seen in this position. All this was heard throughout the camp. There was no truce for them with Cuchulainn afterwards.


The Combat of Munremar and Curoi

When the hosts were there in the evening; they saw that one stone lighted on them from the east, and another from the west to meet it. They met in the air, and kept falling between Fergus's camp, and Ailill's, and Era's.5 This sport and play went on from that hour to the same hour next day; and the hosts were sitting down, and their shields were over their heads to protect them against the masses of stones, till the plain was full of the stones. Hence is Mag Clochair. It happened that Curoi Mac Daire did this; he had come to help his comrades, and he was in Cotal over against Munremar Mac Gerrcind. He had come from Emain Macha to help Cuchulainn, and he was in Ard Roich. Curoi knew that there was no man in the host who could withstand Munremar. So it was these two who had made this sport between them. They were asked by the host to be quiet; then Munremar and Curoi make peace, and Curoi goes to his house and Munremar to Emain Macha. And Munremar did not come till the day of the battle; Curoi did not come till the combat with Fer Diad.

'Speak to Cuchulainn,' said Medb and Ailill, 'that he allow us change of place.'

It is granted to them then, and they change the place. The weakness of the Ulstermen was over then. For when they awoke from their suffering, some of them kept coming on the host, that they might take to slaying them again.


The Death of the Boys

Then the boys of Ulster had consulted in Emain Macha.

'Wretched indeed,' said they, 'for our friend Cuchulainn to be without help.'

'A question indeed,' said Fiachna Fulech Mac Fir-Febe, own brother to Fiacha Fialdama Mac Fir-Febe, 'shall I have a troop among you, and go to take help to him therefrom?'

Three fifties of boys go with their playing-clubs, and that was a third of the boys of Ulster. The host saw them coming towards them across the plain.

'A great host is at hand to us over the plain,' said Ailill.

Fergus goes to look at them. 'Some of the boys of Ulster that,' said he; 'and they come to Cuchulainn's help.'

'Let a troop go against them,' said Ailill, 'without Cuchulainn's knowledge; for if they meet him, you will not withstand them.'

Three fifties of warriors go to meet them. They fell by one another so that no one escaped alive of the abundance(?) of the boys at Lia Toll. Hence it is the Stone of Fiachra Mac Fir-Febe; for it is there he fell.

'Make a plan,' said Ailill.

'Ask Cuchulainn about letting you go out of this place, for you will not come beyond him by force, because his flame of valour has sprung.'

For it was customary with him, when his flame of valour sprang in him, that his feet would go round behind him, and his hams before; and the balls of his calves on his shins, and one eye in his head and the other out of his head; a man's head could have gone into his mouth. Every hair on him was as sharp as a thorn of hawthorn, and a drop of blood on each hair. He would not recognise comrades or friends. He would strike alike before and behind. It is from this that the men of Connaught gave Cuchulainn the name Riastartha.


The Woman-fight of Rochad

Cuchulainn sent his charioteer to Rochad Mac Fatheman of Ulster, that he should come to his help. Now it happened that Findabair loved Rochad, for he was the fairest of the warriors among the Ulstermen at that time. The man goes to Rochad and told him to come to help Cuchulainn if he had come out of his weakness; that they should deceive the host, to get at some of them to slay them. Rochad comes from the north with a hundred men.

'Look at the plain for us to-day,' said Ailill.

'I see a troop coming over the plain,' said the watchman, 'and a warrior of tender years among them; the men only reach up to his shoulders.'

'Who is it yonder, O Fergus?' said Ailill.

'Rochad Mac Fatheman,' said he, 'and it is to help Cuchulainn he comes.'

'I know what you had better do with him,' said Fergus. 'Let a hundred men go from you with the maiden yonder to the middle of the plain, and let the maiden go before them; and let a horseman go to speak to him, that he come alone to speak with the maiden, and let hands be laid on him, and this will keep off (?) the attack of his army from us.'

This is done then. Rochad goes to meet the horseman.

'I have come from Findabair to meet you, that you come to speak with her.'

He goes then to speak with her alone. The host rushes about him from every side. He is taken, and hands are laid on him. His force breaks into flight. He is let go then, and he is bound over not to go against the host till he should come together with all Ulster. It was promised to him that Findabair should be given to him, and he returned from them then. So that that is Rochad's Woman-fight.


The Death of the Princes6

'Let a sword-truce be asked of Cuchulainn for us,' said Ailill and Medb.

Lugaid goes on that errand, and Cuchulainn grants the truce.

'Put a man on the ford for me to-morrow,' said Cuchulainn.

There were with Medb six princes, i.e. six king's heirs of the Clanna Dedad, the three Blacks of Imlech, and the three Reds of Sruthair.

'Why should we not go against Cuchulainn?' said they.

They go next day, and Cuchulainn slew the six of them.


The Death of Cur

Then Cur Mac Dalath is besought to go against Cuchulainn. He from whom he shed blood, he is dead before the ninth day.

'If he slay him,' said Medb, 'it is victory; and though it be he who is slain, it is removing a load from the host: for it is not easy to be with him in regard to eating and sleeping.'

Then he goes forth. He did not think it good to go against a beardless wild boy.

'Not so(?) indeed,' said he, 'right is the honour (?) that you give us! If I had known that it was against this man that I was sent, I would not have bestirred myself to seek him; it were enough in my opinion for a boy of his own age from my troop to go against him.'

'Not so,' said Cormac Condlongas; 'it were a marvel for us if you yourself were to drive him off.'

'Howbeit,' said he, 'since it is on myself that it is laid you Shall go forth to-morrow morning; it will not delay me to kill the young deer yonder.'

He goes then early in the morning to meet him; and he tells the host to get ready to take the road before them, for it was a clear road that he would make by going against Cuchulainn.


This is the Number of the Feats

He went on that errand then. Cuchulainn was practising feats at that time, i.e. the apple-feat, the edge-feat, the supine-feat, the javelin-feat, the ropefeat, the ---- feat, the cat-feat, the hero's salmon[-leap?], the cast ----, the leap over ----, the noble champion's turn, the gae bolga, the ---- of swiftness, the wheel-feat, the ----, the feat on breath, the mouth-rage (?), the champion's shout, the stroke with proper adjustment, the back-stroke, the climbing a javelin with stretching of the body on its point, with the binding (?) of a noble warrior.

Cur was plying his weapons against him in a fence(?) of his shield till a third of the day; and not a stroke of the blow reached Cuchulainn for the madness of the feats, and he did not know that a man was trying to strike him, till Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe said to him: 'Beware of the man who is attacking you.'

Cuchulainn looked at him; he threw the feat-apple that remained in his hand, so that it went between the rim and the body of the shield, and went back through the head of the churl. It would be in Imslige Glendanach that Cur fell according to another version.

Fergus returned to the army. 'If your security hold you,' said he, 'wait here till to-morrow.'

'It would not be there,' said Ailill; 'we shall go back to our camp.'

Then Lath Mac Dabro is asked to go against Cuchulainn, as Cur had been asked. He himself fell then also. Fergus returns again to put his security on them. They remained there until there were slain there Cur Mac Dalath, and Lath Mac Dabro, and Foirc, son of the three Swifts, and Srubgaile Mac Eobith. They were all slain there in single combat.


This is the Number of the Feats

He went on that errand then. Cuchulainn was practising feats at that time, i.e. the apple-feat, the edge-feat, the supine-feat, the javelin-feat, the ropefeat, the ---- feat, the cat-feat, the hero's salmon[-leap?], the cast ----, the leap over ----, the noble champion's turn, the gae bolga, the ---- of swiftness, the wheel-feat, the ----, the feat on breath, the mouth-rage (?), the champion's shout, the stroke with proper adjustment, the back-stroke, the climbing a javelin with stretching of the body on its point, with the binding (?) of a noble warrior.

Cur was plying his weapons against him in a fence(?) of his shield till a third of the day; and not a stroke of the blow reached Cuchulainn for the madness of the feats, and he did not know that a man was trying to strike him, till Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe said to him: 'Beware of the man who is attacking you.'

Cuchulainn looked at him; he threw the feat-apple that remained in his hand, so that it went between the rim and the body of the shield, and went back through the head of the churl. It would be in Imslige Glendanach that Cur fell according to another version.

Fergus returned to the army. 'If your security hold you,' said he, 'wait here till to-morrow.'

'It would not be there,' said Ailill; 'we shall go back to our camp.'

Then Lath Mac Dabro is asked to go against Cuchulainn, as Cur had been asked. He himself fell then also. Fergus returns again to put his security on them. They remained there until there were slain there Cur Mac Dalath, and Lath Mac Dabro, and Foirc, son of the three Swifts, and Srubgaile Mac Eobith. They were all slain there in single combat.


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FOOTNOTES

1: i.e. Tree of Medb Back

2: A very doubtful rendering. Back

3: i.e. Forgemen. Back

4: Or 'female stealers.' (O'Davoren.) Back

5: Or Nera? Back

6: Or 'royal mercenaries.' Back