Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Testament of Cathaeir Mor (Author: James Clarence Mangan)
- Here is the Will of Cathaeir Mor.
God rest him.
Among his heirs he divided his store,
His treasures and lands,
And, first, laying hands
On his son Ross Faly, he blessed him.
- 'My Sovereign Power, my nobleness,
My wealth, my strength to curse and bless,
My royal privilege of protection,
I leave to the son of my best affection,
Ross Faly, Ross of the Rings,
Worthy descendant of Ireland's Kings!
To serve as memorials of succession
For all who yet shall claim their possession
In after ages.
Clement and noble and bold
Is Ross, my son.'
- 'Then let him not hoard up silver and gold,
But give unto all fair measure of wages.
Victorious in battle he ever hath been;
He therefore shall yield the green
And glorious plains of Tara to none,
No, not to his brothers!
Yet these shall he aid
When attacked or betrayed.
This blessing of mine shall outlast the tomb,
And live till the Day of Doom,
Telling and telling daily,
That a prosperous man, beyond all others,
Shall prove Ross Faly!'
- Then he gave him ten shields, and ten rings, and ten swords,
And ten drinking-horns; and he spake him those words:
'Brightly shall shine the glory,
O Ross, of my sons and heirs
Never shall flourish in story
Such heroes as they and theirs!'
- Then, laying his royal hand on the head
Of his good son, Darry, he blessed him and said:
'My Valour, my daring, my martial courage,
My skill in the field I leave to Darry,
That he be a guiding torch and starry
Light and Lamp to the hosts of our age.
A hero to sway, to lead and command,
Shall be every son of his tribes in the land!
O Darry, with boldness and power
Sit thou on the frontier of Tuath Lann.2
And ravage the lands of Deas Ghower.3
Accept no gifts for thy protection
From woman or man,
So shall Heaven assuredly bless
Thy many daughters with fruitfulness,
And none shall stand above thee
For I, thy sire, who love thee
With deep and warm affection,
I prophesy unto thee all success
Over the green battalions
Of the redoubtable Galions.'4
- And he gave him, thereon, as memorials and needs,
Eight bondsmen, eight handmaids, eight cups, and eight steeds.
- The noble Monarch of Erin's men
Spake thus to the young Prince Brassal, then:
'My Sea, with all its wealth of streams,
I leave to my sweetly-speaking Brassal
To serve and to succour him as a vassal,
And the land whereon the bright sun beams
Around the waves of Amergin's Bay5
As parcelled out in the ancient day:
By free men through a long, long time
Shall this thy heritage be enjoyed
But the chieftaincy shall at last be destroyed
Because of a Prince's crime,
And though others again shall regain it,
Yet Heaven shall not bless it,
For Power shall oppress it,
And Weakness and Baseness shall stain it!'
- And he gave him six ships, and six steeds, and six shields,
Six mantles and six coats of steel
And the six royal oxen that wrought in his fields,
These gave he to Brassal the Prince for his weal.
- Then to Catach, he spake:
'My border lands
Thou, Catach, shalt take,
But ere long they shall pass from thy hands,
And by thee shall none
Be ever begotten, daughter or son!'
- To Fearghus Luascan spake he thus:
'Thou Fearghus, also, art one of us,
But over-simple in all thy ways,
And babblest much of thy childish days,
For thee have I nought, but if lands may be bought
Or won hereafter by sword or lance,
Of those, perchance,
I may leave thee a part
All simple babbler and boy as thou art!'
- Young Fearghus, therefore, was left bereaven,
And thus the Monarch spake to Creeven:
- 'To my boyish Hero, my gentle Creeven,
Who loveth in Summer, at morn and even,
To snare the songful birds of the field,
But shunneth to look on spear and shield,
I have little to give of all that I share.
His fame shall fail, his battles be rare.
And of all the Kings that wear his crown,
But one alone shall win renown.'6
- And he gave him six cloaks, and six cups, and seven steeds,
And six harnessed oxen, all fresh from the meads.
- But on Aenghus Nic, a younger child,
Begotten in crime and born in woe,
The father frowned, as on one defiled,
And with lowering brow he spake him so:
'To Nic, my son, that base-born youth,
Shall nought be given of land or gold;
He may be great and good and bold,
But his birth is an agony all untold,
Which gnaweth him like a serpent's tooth.
I am no donor
To him or his race
His birth was dishonour;
His life is disgrace!'
- And thus he spake to Eochy Timin,
Deeming him fit but to herd with women:
- 'Weak son of mine, thou shalt not gain
Waste or water, valley or plain.
From thee shall none descend save cravens,
Sons of sluggish sire and mothers,
Who shall live and die,
But give no corpses to the ravens,
Mine ill thought and mine evil eye7
On thee beyond thy brothers
Shall ever, ever lie!'
- And to Oilioll Cadach his words were those:
'O Oilioll, great in coming years
Shall be thy fame among friends and foes
As the first of Brughaidhs8 and Hospitaliers!
But neither noble nor warlike
Shall show thy renownless dwelling;
Thou shalt dazzle at chess,
Therein supremely excelling
And shining as something starlike!'
- And his chess-board, therefore, and chessmen eke
He gave to Oilioll Cadach the Meek.
- Now Fiachayoungest son was he,
Stood up by the bed . . . of his father, who said,
The while, caressing
'My son! I have only for thee my blessing,
And naught beside
Hadst best abide
With thy brothers a time, as thy years are green.'
- Then Fiacha wept, with a sorrowful mien:
So Cathaeir spake, to encourage him, gaily,
With cheerful speech
'Abide one month with thy brethren each,
And seven years long with my son, Ross Faly;
Do this, and thy sire in sincerity,
Prophesies unto thee fame and prosperity.'
- And further he spake, as one inspired:
'A Chieftain flourishing, feared, and admired
Shall Fiacha prove!
The gifted Man from the boiling Berve,9
Him shall his brothers' clansmen serve.
His forts shall be Aillin and proud Almain,
He shall reign in Carman and Allen;10
The highest renown shall his palaces gain
When others have crumbled and fallen,
His powers shall broaden and lengthen,
And never know damage or loss;
The impregnable Naas he shall strengthen,
And govern Ailbhe and Arriged Ross.
Yes! O Fiacha, Foe of strangers,
This shall be thy lot!
And thou shalt pilot
Ladhrann and Leeven11 with steady and even
Heart and arm through storm and dangers!
Overthrown by thy mighty hand
Shall the Lords of Tara lie.
And Taillte12's fair, the first in the land,
Thou, son, shall magnify;
And many a country thou yet shalt bring
To own thy rule as Ceann and King.
The blessing I give thee shall rest
On thee and thy seed
While Time shall endure,
Thou grandson of Fiacha the blest!
It is barely thy meed,
For thy soul is childlike and pure!'