cattle raid of cualnge

The Death of Ferbaeth

'Go to the camp for us, O friend Loeg' [said Cuchulainn], 'and consult Lugaid Mac Nois, descendant of Lomarc, to know who is coming against me tomorrow. Let it be asked diligently, and give him my greeting.'

Then Loeg went.

'Welcome,' said Lugaid; 'it is unlucky for Cuchulainn, the trouble in which he is, alone against the men of Ireland. It is a comrade of us both, Ferbaeth (ill-luck to his arms!), who goes against him to morrow. Findabair is given to him for it, and the kingdom of his race.'

Loeg turns back to where Cuchulainn is.

He is not very joyful over his answer, my friend Loeg,' said Cuchulainn.

Loeg tells him all that. Ferbaeth had been summoned into the tent to Ailill and Medb, and he is told to sit by Findabair, and that she should be given to him, for he was her choice for fighting with Cuchulainn. He was the man they thought worthy of them, for they had both learned the same arts with Scathach. Then wine is given to him, till he was intoxicated, and he is told, 'They thought that wine fine, and there had only been brought the load of fifty wagons. And it was the maiden who used to put hand to his portion therefrom.'

'I do not wish it,' said Ferbaeth; 'Cuchulainn is my foster-brother, and a man of perpetual covenant with me. Nevertheless I will go against him to-morrow and cut off his head.'

'It will be you who would do it,' said Medb.

Cuchulainn told Loeg to go to meet Lugaid, that he should come and speak with him. Lugaid comes to him.

'So Ferbaeth is coming against me to-morrow,' said Cuchulainn.

'He indeed,' said Lugaid.

'An evil day!' said Cuchulainn; 'I shall not be alive therefrom. Two of equal age we, two of equal deftness, two equal when we meet. O Lugaid, greet him for me; tell him that it is not true valour to come against me; tell him to come to meet me to-night, to speak with me.'

Lugaid tells him this. When Ferbaeth did not avoid it, he went that night to renounce his friendship with Cuchulainn, and Fiacha Mac Fir-Febe with him. Cuchulainn appealed to him by his foster-brotherhood, and Scathach, the foster-mother of them both.

'I must,' said Ferbaeth. 'I have promised it'

'Take back (?) your bond of friendship then,' said Cuchulainn.

Cuchulainn went from him in anger. A spear of holly was driven into Cuchulainn's foot in the glen, and appeared up by his knee. He draws it out.

'Go not, O Ferbaeth, till you have seen the find that I have found.'

'Throw it,' said Ferbaeth.

Cuchulainn threw the spear then after Ferbaeth so that it hit the hollow of his poll, and came out at his mouth in front, so that he fell back into the glen.

'That is a throw indeed,' said Ferbaeth. Hence is Focherd Murthemne. (Or it is Fiacha who had said, 'Your throw is vigorous to-day, O Cuchulainn,' said he; so that Focherd Murthemne is from that.)

Ferbaeth died at once in the glen. Hence is Glenn Firbaith. Something was heard: Fergus, who said:

'O Ferbaeth, foolish is thy expedition
In the place in which thy grave is.
Ruin reached thee ...

In Croen Corand.

'The hill is named Fithi (?) for ever;
Croenech in Murthemne,
From to-day Focherd will be the name
Of the place in which thou didst fall, O Ferbaeth.
O Ferbaeth,' etc.

'Your comrade has fallen,' said Fergus. 'Say will you pay for this man on the morrow?'

'I will pay indeed,' said Cuchulainn.

Cuchulainn sends Loeg again for news, to know how they are in the camp, and whether Ferbaeth lived. Lugaid said: 'Ferbaeth is dead,' and Cuchulainn comes in turn to talk with them.

The Combat of Larine Mac Nois

'One of you to-morrow to go readily against the other,' said Lugaid.

'He will not be found at all,' said Ailill, 'unless you practise trickery therein. Any man who comes to you, give him wine, so that his mind may be glad, and it shall be said to him that that is all the wine that has been brought from Cruachan. It grieves us that you should be on water in the camp. And Findabair shall be put at his right hand, and it shall be said: "She shall come to you, if you bring us the head of the Riastartha."'

A messenger used to be sent to every hero on his night, and that used to be told to him; he continued to kill every man of them in. turn. No one could be got by them to meet him at last. Larine Mac Nois, brother to Lugaid, King of Munster, was summoned to them the next day. Great was his pride. Wine is given to him, and Findabair is put at his right hand.

Medb looked at the two. 'It pleases me, yonder pair,' said she; 'a match between them would be fitting.'

'I will not stand in your way,' said Ailill; 'he shall have her if he brings me the head of the Riastartha.'

'I will bring it,' said Larine.

Then Lugaid comes. 'What man have you for the ford to-morrow?' said he.

'Larine goes,' said Ailill.

Then Lugaid comes to speak with Cuchulainn. They meet in Glenn Firbaith. Each gives the other welcome.

'It is for this I have come to speak to you,' said Lugaid: 'there is a churl here, a fool and proud,' said he, 'a brother of mine named Larine; he is befooled about the same maiden. On your friendship then, do not kill him, lest you should leave me without a brother. For it is for this that he is being sent to you, so that we two might quarrel. I should be content, however, that you should give him a sound drubbing, for it is in my despite that he comes.'

Larine goes next day to meet Cuchulainn, and the maiden near him to encourage him. Cuchulainn attacks him without arms.1 He takes Larine's arms from him perforce. He takes him then between his two hands, and grinds and shakes him, ... and threw him till he was between Lugaid's two hands ...; nevertheless, he is the only man who escaped [even] a bad escape from him, of all who met him on the Tain.

The Conversation of the Morrigan with Cuchulainn

Cuchulainn saw a young woman coming towards him, with a dress of every colour on, and her form very excellent.

'Who are you?' said Cuchulainn.

'Daughter of Buan the king,' said she. 'I have come to you; I have loved you for your reputation, and I have brought my treasures and my cattle with me.'

'The time at which you have come to us is not good. For our condition is evil, through hunger. It is not easy to me to meet a woman, while I am in this strife.'

'I will be a help to you. ... I shall be more troublesome to you,' said she, 'when I come against you when you are in combat against the men. I will come in the form of an eel about your feet in the ford, so that you shall fall.'

'I think that likelier than the daughter of a king. I will take you,' said he, 'between my toes, till your ribs are broken, and you will be in this condition till a doom of blessing comes (?) on you.'

'I will drive the cattle on the ford to you, in the form of a grey she-wolf.'

'I will throw a stone at you from my sling, so that it shall break your eye in your head; and you will be in that state till a doom of blessing comes on you.'

'I will come to you in the form of a hornless red heifer before the cattle. They will rush on you on the plains(?), and on the fords, and on the pools, and you will not see me before you.'

'I will throw a stone at you,' said he, 'so that your leg shall break under you, and you will be in this state till a doom of blessing comes on you.'

Therewith she goes from him.

So he was a week on Ath Grencha, and a man used to fall every day by him in Ath Grencha, i.e. in Ath Darteisc.

The Death of Loch Mac Emonis

Then Loch Mac Emonis was asked like the others, and there was promised to him a piece of the arable land of Mag Ai equal in size to Mag Murthemne, and the equipment of twelve warriors and a chariot worth seven cumals2 and he did not think combat with a youth worthy. He had a brother, Long Mac Emonis himself. The same price was given to him, both maiden and raiment and chariots and land. He goes to meet Cuchulainn. Cuchulainn slays him, and he was brought dead before his brother, Loch.

This latter said that if he only knew that it was a bearded man who slew him, he would kill him for it.

'Take a battle-force to him,' said Medb to her household, 'across the ford from the west, that you may go-across; and let fair-play be broken on him.'

Then the seven Manes, warriors, go first, so that they saw him on the edge of the ford westward. He puts his feast-dress on that day. It is then that the women kept climbing on the men to look at him.

'I am sorry,' said Medb; 'I cannot see the boy about whom they go there.'

'Your mind will not be the gladder for it,' said Lethrend, Ailill's squire, 'if you could see him.'

He comes to the ford then as he was.

'What man is it yonder, O Fergus?' said Medb.

'A boy who wards off,' etc. ... 'if it is Culann's Hound.3

Medb climbed on the men then to look at him.

It is then that the women said to Cuchulainn 'that he was laughed at in the camp because he had no beard, and no good warriors would go against him, only wild men; it were easier to make a false beard.' So this is what he did, in order to seek combat with a man; i.e. with Loch. Cuchulainn took a handful of grass, and said a spell over it, so that every one thought he had a beard.

'True,' said the troop of women, 'Cuchulainn has a beard. It is fitting for a warrior to fight with him.'

They had done this on urging Loch.

'I will not make combat against him till the end of seven days from to-day,' said Loch.

'It is not fitting for us to have no attack on the man for this space,' said Medb. 'Let us put a hero to hunt(?) him every night, if perchance we may get a chance at him.'

This is done then. A hero used to come every night to hunt him, and he used to kill them all. These are the names of the men who fell there: seven Conalls, seven Oenguses, seven Uarguses, seven Celtris, eight Fiacs, ten Ailills, ten Delbaths, ten Tasachs. These are his deeds of this week in Ath Grencha.

Medb asked advice, to know what she should do to Cuchulainn, for what had been killed of their hosts by him distressed her greatly. This is the plan she arrived at, to put brave, high-spirited men to attack him all at once when he should come to an appointed meeting to speak with Medb. For she had an appointment the next day with Cuchulainn to make a peace in fraud with him, to get hold of him. She sent messengers forth to seek him that he should come to meet her; and it was thus he should come, and he unarmed: 'for she would come only with her troop of women to meet him.'

The messenger, Traigtren, went to the place where Cuchulainn was, and tells him Medb's message. Cuchulainn promised that he would do so.

'In what manner does it please you to go to meet Medb to-morrow, O Cuchulainn?' said Loeg.

'As Medb has asked me,' said Cuchulainn.

'Great are Medb's deeds,' said the charioteer; 'I fear a hand behind the back with her.'

'How is it to be done then?' said he.

'Your sword at your waist,' said the charioteer, 'that you may not be taken at an unfair advantage. For the warrior is not entitled to his honour-price if he is without arms; and it is the coward's law that he deserves in that way.'

'Let it be done so then,' said Cuchulainn.

The meeting-place was in Ard Aignech, which is called Fochaird to-day. Now Medb came to the meeting-place and set in ambush fourteen men of her own special following, of those who were of most prowess, ready for him. These are they: two Glassines, the two sons of Bucchridi; two Ardans, the two sons of Licce; two Glasogmas, the two sons of Crund; Drucht and Delt and Dathen; Tea and Tascra and Tualang; Taur and Glese.

Then Cuchulainn comes to meet her. The men rise to attack him. Fourteen spears are thrown at him at once. Cuchulainn guards himself so that his skin or his ---- (?) is not touched. Then he turns on them and kills them, the fourteen of them. So that they are the fourteen men of Focherd, and they are the men of Cronech, for it is in Cronech at Focherd that they were killed. Hence Cuchulainn said: 'Good is my feat of heroism,'4 etc.

So it is from this that the name Focherd stuck to the place; that is, focherd, i.e. 'good is the feat of arms' that happened to Cuchulainn there.

So Cuchulainn came, and overtook them taking camp, and there were slain two Daigris and two Anlis and four Dungais of Imlech. Then Medb began to urge Loch there.

'Great is the mockery of you,' said she, 'for the man who has killed your brother to be destroying our host, and you do not go to battle with him! For we deem it certain that the wild man, great and fierce,5 the like of him yonder, will not be able to withstand the rage and fury of a hero like you. For it is by one foster-mother and instructress that an art was built up for you both.'

Then Loch came against Cuchulainn, to avenge his brother on him, for it was shown to him that Cuchulainn had a beard.

'Come to the upper ford,' said Loch; 'it would not be in the polluted ford that we shall meet, where Long fell.'

When he came then to seek the ford, the men drove the cattle across.

'It will be across your water6 here to-day,' said Gabran the poet. Hence is Ath Darteisc, and Tir Mor Darteisc from that time on this place.

When the men met then on the ford, and when they began to fight and to strike each other there, and when each of them began to strike the other, the eel threw three folds round Cuchulainn's feet, till he lay on his back athwart the ford. Loch attacked him with the sword, till the ford was blood-red with his blood.

'Ill indeed,' said Fergus, 'is this deed before the enemy. Let each of you taunt the man, O men,' said he to his following, 'that he may not fall for nothing.'

Bricriu Poison-tongue Mac Carbatha rose and began inciting Cuchulainn.

'Your strength is gone,' said he, 'when it is a little salmon that overthrows you when the Ulstermen are at hand [coming] to you out of their sickness yonder. Grievous for you to undertake a hero's deed in the presence of the men of Ireland and to ward off a formidable warrior in arms thus!'

Therewith Cuchulainn arises and strikes the eel so that its ribs broke in it, and the cattle were driven over the hosts eastwards by force, so that they took the tents on their horns, with the thunder-feat that the two heroes had made in the ford.

The she-wolf attacked him, and drove the cattle on him westwards. He throws a stone from his sling, so that her eye broke in her head. She goes in the form of a hornless red heifer; she rushes before the cows upon the pools and fords. It is then he said: 'I cannot see the fords for water.' He throws a stone at the hornless red heifer, so that her leg breaks under her. Then he sang a song:

'I am all alone before flocks;
I get them not, I let them not go;
I am alone at cold hours (?)
Before many peoples. 'Let some one say to Conchobar
Though he should come to me it were not too soon;
Magu's sons have carried off their kine
And divided them among them. 'There may be strife about one head
Only that one tree blazes not;
If there were two or three
Their brands would blaze.7 'The men have almost worn me out
By reason of the number of single combats;
I cannot work the slaughter (?) of glorious warriors
As I am all alone.
I am all alone.'

It is there then that Cuchulainn did to the Morrigan the three things that he had promised her in the Tain Bo Regamna;8 and he fights Loch in the ford with the gae-bolga, which the charioteer threw him along the stream. He attacked him with it, so that it went into his body's armour, for Loch had a horn-skin in fighting with a man.

'Give way to me,' said Loch. Cuchulainn gave way, so that it was on the other side that Loch fell. Hence is Ath Traiged in Tir Mor. Cuchulainn cut off his head then.

Then fair-play was broken with him that day when five men came against him at one time; i.e. two Cruaids, two Calads, Derothor; Cuchulainn killed them by himself. Hence is Coicsius Focherda, and Coicer Oengoirt; or it is fifteen days that Cuchulainn was in Focherd, and hence is Coicsius Focherda in the Foray.

Cuchulainn hurled at them from Delga, so that not a living thing, man or beast, could put its head past him southwards between Delga and the sea.



1: This is apparently the sense, but the passage seems corrupt. Back

2: A measure of value. back

3: Rhetoric, four lines. back

4: Fo, 'good'; cherd, 'feat.' Twelve lines of rhetoric. back

5: Literally, 'sharpened.' back

6: Irish, tarteisc. back

7: Meaning not clear. back

8: One of the introductory stories to the Tain Bo Cuailnge, printed with translation in Irische Texte, 2nd series. back