translated by Kuno Meyer
Electronic edition compiled by Emer Purcell
Proof corrections by Emer Purcell, Benjamin Hazard
Third draft revised and enlarged by Beatrix Färber
Funded by University College, Cork and
The HEA via the LDT Project and
The IRCHSS via the Digital Dinneen Project
3. Third draft, revised and enlarged.
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CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The present text represents Meyer's Introduction and pages 335 of the edited text; corrigenda are integrated.
Text has been checked and proofread twice. All corrections, including some by Kuno Meyer and supplied text, are tagged.
The electronic text represents the printed text. The editor's corrigenda have been integrated. Expansions shown in italics in the hardcopy have been marked. The editor gives variants from Stowe Collection 23 N 7 MS in his preface. These are integrated into the apparatus.
When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a line break, the break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word. There are no instances of hyphenated words crossing a page break.
Names of persons (given names), places and group names are not tagged. Direct speech is rendered q; except where it cannot be nested within or outside the apparatus; then it is rendered '.
This text uses the DIV1 element to represent the Section.
Created: Translation by Kuno Meyer. (1906)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Emer Purcell (ed.)
Emer Purcell (ed.)
Benjamin Hazard (ed.)
Benjamin Hazard (data capture)
The collection of Irish Triads, which is here edited and translated for the first time, has come down to us in the following nine manuscripts, dating from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century:
These manuscripts have, on the whole, an identical text, though they all occasionally omit a triad or two; and the order of the single triads varies in all of them. They have all been used in constructing a critical text, the most important variants being given in the foot-notes. The order followed is in the main that of the Yellow Book of Lecan.
There are at least three other manuscripts containing copies of the Triads. One of them I discovered in the Stowe collection after the text had been printed off. It is a paper quarto now marked 23. N. 27, containing on fo. 1a7b a copy of the Triads, followed on fo. 7b19a by a glossed copy of the Tecosca Cormaic. It was written in 1714 by Domnall (or Daniel) O Duind mac Eimuinn. Its readings agree closely with those of N. In paragraph 237, it alone, of all manuscripts, gives an intelligible reading of a corrupt passage. For cia fochertar im-muir, cia berthair
p.viihi tech fo glass dodeime a tiprait oca mbí, it reads: cia focearta im-muir, cia beirthear hi tech fo glass no do theine, dogeibther occan tiprait, though it be thrown into the sea, though it be put into a house under lock, or into fire, it will be found at the well. In paragraph 121 for cerdai it reads cerd; in paragraph 139 it has rotioc and rotocht; in paragraph 143 for grúss its reading is grís; in paragraph 153 it has aibeuloit for eplet; in paragraph 217 tar a n-éisi for dia n-éisi; in paragraph 218 lomradh(twice) for lobra and indlighidh for i n-indligud; in paragraph 219 it has the correct reading éiric, and for dithechte it reads ditheacht; in paragraph 220 it reads fri aroile for fria céile; in paragraph 223 after ile it adds imchiana; in paragraph 224 it reads grís brond .i. galar; in paragraph 229 for meraichne it has mearaigheacht; in paragraph 235 it has mhamus for mám; in paragraph 236 Maig Hi for Maig Lii; and for co ndeirgenai in dam de it reads co nderna in dam fria.
Another copy, written in 1836 by Peter O'Longan, formerly in the possession of the Earls of Crawford, now belongs to the Rylands Library, Manchester, where it was found by Professor Strachan, who kindly copied a page or two for me. It is evidently a very corrupt copy which I have not thought worth the trouble of collating.
Lastly, there is in the Advocates' Library a copy in a vellum manuscript marked Kilbride III. It begins on fo. 9b2 as follows:Treching breath annso. Ceann Eirind Ardmacha. I hope to collate it before long, and give some account of it in the next number of this series.
In all these manuscripts the Triads either follow upon, or precede, or are incorporated in the collections of maxims and proverbial sayings known as Tecosca Cormaic, Auraicept Morainn, and Senbríathra Fíthil, the whole forming a body of early Irish gnomic literature which deserves editing in its entirety. It is clear, however, that the Triads do not originally belong to any of these texts. They had a separate origin, and form a collection by themselves. This is also shown by the fact that the Book of Leinster, the oldest manuscript containing the Tecosca Cormaic
p.viii(pp. 343a345b), the Senbríathra Fíthail (pp. 345b346a), and the Bríathra Moraind (pp. 346ab), does not include them.
It is but a small portion of the large number of triads scattered throughout early Irish literature that has been brought together in our collection under the title of Trecheng breth Féne, i.e., literally a triadic arrangement of the sayings of Irishmen. I first drew attention to the existence of Irish triads in a note on Irish proverbs in my edition of the Battle of Ventry, p. 85, where a few will be found quoted. A complete collection of them would fill a small volume, especially if it were to include those still current among the people of Ireland, both among Gaelic and English speakers. I must content myself here with giving a few specimens taken at random from my own collections:
p.ixlife, the banishment of Colum Cille, the expulsion of Mochuta from Rathen.Notes on the Félire of Oengus, p. 204, and Tripartite Life, p. 557.3
The following modern triads I owe to a communication from Dr. P. W. Joyce, who heard them in his youth among the people of Limerick:
In our collection an arrangement of the Triads in certain groups, according to their contents, is discernible. Thus, the first sixty-oneof which, however, the opening thirty-one are no Triads at allare all topographical; and among the rest, those dealing with legal matters stand out clearly (paragraphs 149172).
When the collection was made we have no means of ascertaining, except from internal evidence, such as the age of the language, and a few allusions to events, the date of which we can approximately fix.
The language of the Triads may be described as late Old-Irish. Their verbal system indeed is on the whole that of the Continental glosses,9 and would forbid us to put them later than the year 900. On the other hand, the following peculiarities in declension, in which all the manuscripts agree, make it impossible for us to put them much earlier than the second half of the ninth century.
The genitive singular of i- and u-stems no longer shows the ending -o, which has been replaced throughout by -a.10 Now, in the Annals of Ulster, which are a sure guide in these matters and allow us to follow the development of the language from century to century, this genitive in -o is found for the last time in A.D. 816 (rátho, Ailello). Thence onward the ending -a is always found.
The place-name Lusca, Lusk, is originally an n-stem making its genitive Luscan. This is the regular form in the Annals of Ulster till the year 880, from which date onward it
p.xiis always Lusca (A.D. 916, 928, &c.). In our text (paragraph 46) all the manuscripts read Lusca.
In slender io-stems the dative singular in Old-Irish ends in -iu. I find this form in the Annals of Ulster for the last time in A.D. 816 (Gertidiu). Thence onward it is always -i, as in our text (hi Cúailgni 43, d'uisci 64).
The nasal stem léimm makes its nom. plur. léimmen in Old-Irish. In paragraph 32 we find instead (tair-)leme. So also foimrimm makes its nom. plural foimrimme in paragraph 163.
The word dorus is neuter in Old-Irish, making its nom. acc. plural either dorus or doirsea. In our text (paragraphs 173, 174) the word is masculine, and makes its nom. plural doruis.
Druimm is an i-stem in Old-Irish, but in the later language passes into an n-stem. In paragraph 51 we find the nom. pl. drommanna.
The neuter grád in paragraph 166 makes its nom. plur. grúda for O. Ir. grád.11
On linguistic grounds, then, I should say that our collection was made some time during the second half of the ninth century. That it cannot be dated earlier is also apparent from another consideration. Professor Zimmer has taught us to search in every ancient Irish text for indications of its having been composed either before or after the Viking period. I find no words from the Norse language in the Triads, or, if there are any, they have escaped me; but there are two distinct references to the Viking age. In paragraph 232, a Viking in his hauberk (Gall ina lúirig) is mentioned as one of three that are hardest to talk to; and, in paragraph 44, Bangor in Co. Down is called unlucky or unfortunate, no doubt, as the gloss says, because of the repeated plunderings and destruction of its monastery by the Norse during the early part of the ninth century (A.D. 823, 824).
In endeavouring to trace the origin of the Triad as a form of literary composition among the Irish, one must remember that it is but one of several similar enumerative sayings common in Irish literature. Thus the collection here printed contains three duads (124. 133. 134), seven tetrads (223. 230. 234. 244. 248. 251. 252), and one heptad (235). A whole Irish law-book is composed in the form of heptads;12 while triads, tetrads, &c., occur in every part of the Laws.13 Such schematic arrangements were of course a great aid to memory.
If the Triad stood alone, the idea that it owes its origin to the effect of the doctrine of the Trinity upon the Celtic imagination might reasonably be entertained. The fact that this doctrine has led to many peculiar phenomena in Irish folklore, literature, and art has frequently been pointed out. Nor would I deny that the sacred character of the number three, together with the greater facility of composition, may have contributed to the popularity of the Triad, which is certainly the most common among the various numerical sayings as well as the only one that has survived to the present day.
However that may be, I believe that the model upon which the Irish triads, tetrads, pentads, &c., were formed is to be sought in those enumerative sayingsZahlensprüche, as the German technical term isof Hebrew poetry to be found in several books of the Old Testament. I am indebted to my friend the Rev. Carl Grüneisen for the following list of such sayings, which I quote in the Vulgate version.
DUADS AND TRIADS.
Ecclus. 23: 21,Duo genera abundant in peccatis, et tertium adducit iram et perditionem, &c.
Ib. 26: 25,In duobus contristatum est cor meum, et in tertio iracundia mihi advenit: 26 vir bellator deficiens per inopiam, et vir sensatus contemptus, 27 et qui transgreditur a iustitia ad peccatum, Deus paravit eum ad romphaeam.
Ib. 26: 28,Duae species difficiles et periculosae mihi apparuerunt: difficile exuitur negotians a neglegentia, et non iustificabitur caupo a peccatis labiorum.
TRIADS AND TETRADS.
Proverb. 30: 15,Tria sunt insaturabilia, et quartum quod nunquam dicit: sufficit. 16 Inferuns, et os vulvae, et terra quae non satiatur aqua; ignis vero nunquam dicit: sufficit.
Ib. 30: 18,Tria sunt difficilia mihi, et quartum penitus ignoro: 19 viam aquilae in caelo, viam colubri super petram, viam navis in medio mari, et viam viri in adolescentia.
Ib. 30: 21,Per tria movetur terra, et quartum non potest sustinere: 22 per servum cum regnaverit: per stultum cum saturatus fuerit cibo, 23 per odiosam mulierem cum in matrimonio fuerit assumpta, et per ancillam cum fuerit heres dominae suae.
Ib. 30: 29,Tria sunt quae bene gradiuntur, et quartum quod incedit feliciter: 30 leo fortissimus bestiarum, ad nullius pavebit occursum, 31 gallus succinctus lumbos, et aries, nec est rex qui resistat ei.
Ecclus. 26: 5,A tribus timuit cor meum, et in quarto facies mea metuit: 6 delaturam civitatis, et collectionem populi, 7 calumniam mendacem, super montem, omnia gravia, 8 dolor cordis et luctus mulier zelotypa.
Proverb. 30, 24,Quattuor sunt minima terrae, et ipsa sunt sapientiora sapientibus: 25 formicae, populus infirmus qui praeparat in messe cibum sibi, 26 lepusculus, plebs invalida qui collocat in petra cubile suum.
A HEXAD AND HEPTAD.
Proverb. 6. 16,Sex sunt quae odit Dominus, et septimum detestatur anima eius: 17 oculos sublimes, linguam mendacem, manus effundentes innoxium sanguinem, 18 cor machinans cogitationes pessimas, pedes veloces ad currendum in malum, 19 proferentem mendacia testem fallacem, et eum qui seminat intra fratres discordias.
Ecclus. 25, 9,Novem insuspicabilia cordis magnificavi, et decimum dicam in lingua hominibus, &c.
The question arises whether these biblical sayings were the direct source from which the Irish imitations are derived, or whether the Irish became acquainted with the numerical Proverb through the medium of Greek and Latin literature. As the Irish clerics ever since the days of St. Patrick were diligent students of the Bible, there would be nothing strange in the former assumption. But there exists at least one early document which renders the latter equally possible. Under the title of Proverbia Grecorum we possess a collection of sayings translated by some Irish scholar in Ireland from the Greek into Latin before the seventh century.14 Among them we find three triads,15 two pentads,16 three heptads,17 and two octads.18
As examples I select the following two triads:
Tres bacheriosi(?) sunt: terribilis bellator armatus promptusque ad praelium, leo de spelunca quando praedam devorat, aper ferus de silva quando furore in aliquem irruit.
Tres sunt imperfecti qui numquam ad perfectionem vitae disciplinae pervenire possunt; tunc enim a vitiis recedunt, quando mala facere non possunt. Antiquus nauta qui multis annis seductis omnibus emere et vendere poterat; senex auriga qui in curribus et in equis Deo derelicto vana cura atque conversatione meditatur atque utitur; vetula ancilla quae dominae suae subdole in omnibus rebus quae cottidiano ministerio perficiuntur male retribuit.
Triads occur sporadically in the literature of most other nations, and have occasionally been collected. But I am not aware that this kind of composition has ever attained the same popularity elsewhere as in Wales and Ireland, where the manufacture of triads seems at times almost to have become a sport.
The wittiest triads are undoubtedly those in which the third item contains an anticlimax. Two perfect examples of this kind were composed by Heine when he tells the foreigner visiting Germany that he need but know three words of the language: Brot, Kuss, Ehre; and in his often quoted witticism: Der Franzose liebt die Freiheit wie seine Braut, der Engländer wie seine Frau, der Deutsche wie seine alte Grossmutter.
¶1] The Head of IrelandArmagh.
¶2] The Dignity of IrelandClonmacnois.
¶3] The Wealth of IrelandClonard.
¶4] The Heart of IrelandKildare.
¶5] The Seniority of IrelandBangor.
¶6] The Comfort19 of IrelandLusk.
¶7] The Sport of IrelandKells.
¶8] The Two Eyes of IrelandTallaght and Finglas.
¶9] The Sanctuary of Irelandthe House of Cairnech upon the Road of Asal20.
¶10] The Purity of IrelandScattery Island.
¶11] The Abbey-church of IrelandGlendalough.
¶12] The Jurisprudence of IrelandCloyne.
¶13] The House of Wages 21of IrelandFerns.
¶14] The Singing the Litany of IrelandLismore.
¶15] The Lore of IrelandEmly.
¶16] The Legal Speech of IrelandCork.
¶17] The Learning of IrelandRoscarbery.
¶18] The Wantonness of IrelandTerryglas.
¶19] The Spiritual Guidance of IrelandClonfert.
¶20] The Curse of IrelandLorrha.
¶21] The Judgment of IrelandSlane.
¶22] The Severity of Piety of IrelandFore.
¶23] The Delight of IrelandArdbrackan.
¶24] The Simplicity 22of IrelandRoscommon.
¶25] The Welcome of IrelandRaphoe or Drumlane.
¶26] The Charity of IrelandDownpatrick.
¶27] The [...] of IrelandDairchaill.
¶28] The Stability of IrelandMoville.
¶29] The Martyrdom of IrelandDulane.
¶30] The Reproach of IrelandCell Ruaid Ruad's Church.23
¶31] The Chastity of IrelandLynally.
¶32] The three places of Ireland to alight at: Derry, Taghmon, Kilmainham.
¶34] The three stone-buildings of Ireland: Armagh, Clonmacnois, Kildare.
¶35] The three fairs of Ireland: the fair of Teltown, the fair of Croghan, the fair of Colman Elo.
¶36] The three forts of Ireland: Dunseverick, Dun Cermna,24 Cathir Conree.
¶37] The three mountains of Ireland: Slieve Gua,25 Slieve Mis, Slieve Cualann.26
¶38] The three heights of Ireland: Croagh Patrick, Ae Chualann,27 Benn Boirche.28
¶39] The three lakes of Ireland: Lough Neagh, Lough Ree, Lough Erne.
¶40] The three rivers of Ireland: the Shannon, the Boyne, the Bann.
¶41] The three plains of Ireland: the plain of Meath, Moylinny, Moy-Liffey.29
¶42] The three dark places of Ireland: the cave of Knowth, the cave of Slaney, the cave of Ferns.
¶43] The three desert places of Ireland: Fid Mór Great Wood in Coolney, Fid Déicsen Spy-wood) in Tuirtri,30 the Wood of Moher in Connaught.
¶44] The three unlucky places of Ireland: the abbotship of Bangor, the abbotship of Lynally, the kingship of Mugdorn Maigen.31
¶45] The three evil ones of Ireland: the Crecraige,32 the Glasraige, the Benntraige.33
¶46] The three comfortable places of Ireland: the abbotship of Lusk, the kingship of the three Cualu,34 the vice-abbotship of Armagh.
¶47] The three strands of Ireland: the strand of Ross Airgit,35 the strand of Ross Teiti, the strand of Baile.36
¶48] The three fords of Ireland: Ath Cliath Hurdle-ford, Athlone the Ford of Luan, Ath Caille Wood-ford37.
¶49] The three highroads of Ireland: Slige Dala,38 Slige Asail, Slige Luachra.39
¶50] The three mountain-passes of Ireland: Baltinglass, the Pass of Limerick, the Pass of Dublin.
¶51] The three ridges of Ireland: Druim Fingin, Druim nDrobeoil, Druim Leithe.40
¶52] The three plains of Ireland: Moy Bray, Moy Croghan, Moy Liffey.
¶53] The three meadows of Ireland: Clonmacnois, Clones, Clonard.
¶54] The three households of Ireland: the household of Tara, the household of Cashel, the household of Croghan.
¶55] The three waterfalls of Ireland: Assaroe, Eas Danainne,41 Eas Maige.
¶56] The three fields (?) of Ireland: the land of Rathlynan, Slieve Comman, Slieve Manchain.
¶57] The three wells of Ireland: the Well of the Desi, the Well of Uarbel,42 the Well of Uaran Garaid.
¶58] The three uneven places of Ireland: Breffny, the Burren, Beare.
¶59] The three estuaries of Ireland: Inver na mBarc,43 Inver Feile,44 Inver Tuaige.45
¶60] The three conspicuous places of Ireland: Cuchulinn's Leap,46 Dunquinn, Sruve Brain. 47
¶61] The three familiar places48 of Ireland: Tralee, Logher, the Fews.
¶62] Three wonders concerning the Táin Bó Cuailnge: that the cuilmen came to Ireland in its stead; the dead relating it to the living, viz. Fergus mac Róig reciting it to Ninníne the poet in the time of Cormac mac Fáeláin; one year's protection to him to whom it is recited.
¶63] The three halidoms of the men of Ireland: breast, cheek, knee.
¶64] Three unfortunate things for a man: a scant drink of water, thirst in an ale-house, a narrow seat upon a field.
¶65] Three unfortunate things of husbandry: a dirty field, leavings of the hurdle, a house full of sparks.
¶66] Three forbidden things of a church: a nun as bellringer, a veteran in the abbotship, a drop upon the altar.
¶67] Three rejoicings followed by sorrow: a wooer's, a thief's, a tale-bearer's.
¶68] Three sorrows that are better than joy: the heaviness of a herd feeding on mast, the heaviness of a ripe field,49 the heaviness of a wood under mast.
¶69] Three rejoicings that are worse than sorrow: the joy of a man who has defrauded another, the joy of a man who has perjured himself, the joy of a man who has committed parricide.50
¶70] The three worst welcomes: a handicraft in the same house with the inmates, scalding water upon the feet, salt food without a drink.
¶71] Three unfortunate things for the son of a peasant: marrying into the family of a franklin, attaching himself to the retinue of a king, consorting with thieves.
¶72] Three unfortunate things for a householder: proposing to a bad woman, serving a bad chief, exchanging for bad land.
¶73] Three excellent things for a householder: proposing to a good woman, serving a good chief, exchanging for good land.
¶74] Three holidays51 of a landless man52: visiting in the house of a blacksmith, visiting in the house of a carpenter, buying without bonds.
¶75] Three slender things that best support the world: the slender stream of milk from the cow's dug into the pail, the slender blade of green corn upon the ground, the slender thread over the hand of a skilled woman.
¶76] Three hands that are best in the world: the hand of a good carpenter, the hand of a skilled woman, the hand of a good smith.
¶77] Three things which justice demands: judgment, measure, conscience.
¶78] Three things which judgment demands: wisdom, penetration, knowledge.
¶79] Three characteristics of concupiscence: sighing, playfulness,53 visiting.
¶80] Three things for which an enemy is loved: wealth, beauty, worth.54
¶81] Three things for which a friend is hated: trespassing,55 keeping aloof,56 fecklessness.
¶82] Three rude ones of the world: a youngster mocking an old man, a healthy person mocking an invalid, a wise man mocking a fool.
¶83] Three deaf ones of the world: warning to a doomed man, mocking57 a beggar, keeping a loose woman from lust.
¶84] Three fair things that hide ugliness: good manners in the ill-favoured, skill in a serf, wisdom in the misshapen.
¶85] Three ugly things that hide fairness: a sweet-lowing cow without milk, a fine horse without speed, a fine person without substance.
¶86] Three sparks that kindle love: a face, demeanour, speech.
¶87] Three deposits with usufruct: depositing a woman, a horse, salt.
¶88] Three glories of a gathering: a beautiful wife, a good horse, a swift hound.
¶89] Three accomplishments of Ireland: a witty stave, a tune on the harp,58 shaving a face.
¶90] Three ungentlemanly things: interrupting stories, a mischievous game, jesting so as to raise a blush.
¶91] Three smiles that are worse than sorrow: the smile of the snow as it melts, the smile of your wife59 on you after another man has been with her,60 the grin of a hound ready to leap at you.61
¶92] Three deaths that are better than life: the death of a salmon, the death of a fat pig, the death of a robber.62
¶93] Three fewnesses that are better than plenty: a fewness of fine words, a fewness of cows in grass, a fewness of friends around ale.63
¶94] Three sorrowful ones of an alehouse: the man who gives the feast, the man to whom it is given, the man who drinks without being satiated.64
¶95] Three laughing-stocks of the world: an angry man, a jealous man, a niggard.
¶96] Three ruins of a tribe: a lying chief, a false judge, a lustful65 priest.
¶97] Three preparations of a good man's house: ale, a bath, a large fire.
¶98] Three preparations of a bad man's house: strife before you, complaining to you, his hound taking hold if you.66
¶99] Three shouts of a good warrior's house: the shout of distribution, the shout of sitting down, the shout of rising up.
¶100] Three darknesses into which women should not go: the darkness of mist, the darkness of night, the darkness of a wood.
¶101] Three props of obstinacy:67 pledging oneself, contending, wrangling.
¶102] Three characteristics of obstinacy:68 long visits, staring, constant questioning.
¶103] Three signs of a fop: the track of his comb in his hair, the track of his teeth in his food, the track of his stick 69 behind him.
¶104] Three ungentlemanly boasts: I am on your track, I have trampled on you, I have wet you with my dress.
¶105] Three live ones that put away dead things: a deer shedding its horn, a wood shedding its leaves, cattle shedding their coat.70
¶106] Three places of Ireland to make you start: Tulach na n-Epscop,71 Achad Deo,72 Duma mBuirig.
¶107] Three wonders of Ireland: the grave of the dwarf,73 the grave of Trawohelly,74 an echo near.75
¶108] Three oratories of Ireland: the oratory of Birr, the oratory of Clonenagh, the oratory of Leighlin.
¶109] Three maidens that bring hatred upon misfortune: talking, laziness, insincerity.
¶110] Three maidens that bring love to good fortune: silence, diligence, sincerity.
¶111] Three silences that are better than speech: silence during instruction, silence during music, silence during preaching.
¶112] Three speeches that are better than silence: inciting a king to battle, spreading knowledge (?),76 praise after reward.77
¶113] Three impossible demands: go! though you cannot go, bring what you have not got, do what you cannot do.
¶114] Three idiots that are in a bad guest-house: the chronic cough of an old hag, a brainless tartar of a girl, a hobgoblin of a gillie.
¶115] The three chief sins: avarice, gluttony, lust.
¶116] Three things that constitute a buffoon: blowing out his cheek, blowing out his satchel, blowing out his belly.
¶117] Three things that constitute a comb-maker: racing a hound in contending for a bone; straightening a ram's horn by his breath, without fire; chanting upon a dunghill so that all antlers and bones and horns that are below come to the top.
¶118] Three things that constitute a carpenter: joining together without calculating (?), without warping (?); agility with the compass; a well-measured stroke.
¶119] Three things that constitute a physician: a complete cure, leaving no blemish behind, a painless examination.
¶120] Three things that constitute a blacksmith: Nethin's spit, the cooking-hearth of the Morrigan, the Dagda's anvil.For a description and pictures of these appliances, see YBL., p. 419a, and Egerton, 1782, fo. 46a.78.
¶121] Three things that constitute an artificer: weaving chains, a mosaic ball,79 an edge upon a blade.
¶122] Three things that constitute a harper: a tune to make you cry, a tune to make you laugh, a tune to put you to sleep.80
¶123] Three things that constitute a poet: 'knowledge that illumines,' 'teinm laeda,'81 improvisation.
¶124] Two ominous cries of ill-luck: boasting of your first slaughter, and of your wife being with another man.
¶125] Three things betokening trouble: holding a plough-land in common, performing feats together, alliance in marriage.
¶126] Three drops of a wedded woman: a drop of blood, a tear-drop, a drop of sweat.
¶127] Three caldrons that are in every fort: the caldron of running (?), the caldron goriath,82 the caldron of guests.
¶128] Three tokens of a blessed site: a bell, psalm-singing, a synod of elders.
¶129] Three tokens of a cursed site: elder, a corncrake, nettles.83
¶130] Three nurses of theft: a wood, a cloak, night.
¶131] Three qualities84 that bespeak good fortune: self-importance, [...], self-will.
¶132] Three qualities85 that bespeak misfortune: weariness, premature old age, reproachfulness.
¶133] Two sisters: weariness and wretchedness.
¶134] Two brothers: prosperity and husbandry.
¶135] Three unlucky [...]:86 guaranteeing, mediating, witnessing. The witness has to swear to his evidence, the guarantor has to pay for his security, the mediator gets a blow on his head.87
¶136] Three false sisters: 'perhaps,' 'may be,' 'I dare say.'
¶137] Three timid brothers: 'hush!' 'stop!' 'listen!'
¶138] Three dead things that give evidence on live things: a pair of scales, a bushel, a measuring-rod.
¶139] Three pottages of guaranteeing [...] 88
¶140] Three black husbandries: thatching with stolen things,89 putting up a fence with a proclamation of trespass, kiln-drying with scorching.
¶141] Three after-sorrows: a wooer's, a thief's, a tale-bearer's.
¶142] Three sons whom folly bears to anger: frowning, [...] ,90 mockery (?).
¶143] Three sons whom generosity bears to patience: [...] , blushing, shame.
¶144] Three sons whom churlishness bears to impatience: trembling, niggardliness, vociferation.
¶145] Three cold things that seethe: a well, the sea, new ale.
¶146] Three sounds of increase: the lowing of a cow in milk, the din of a smithy, the swish of a plough.
¶147] Three wealths in barren places: a well in a mountain, fire out of a stone, wealth in the possession of a hard man.
¶148] Three renovators of the world: the womb of woman, a cow's udder, a smith's moulding-block.
¶149] Three concealments upon which forfeiture does not close: a wife's dowry, the food of a married couple, a boy's foster-fee.
¶150] Three contracts that are reversed by the decision of a judge: the contracts of a woman, of a son, of a cottar.
¶151] Three that are incapable of special contracts91: a son whose father is alive, a betrothed woman, the serf of a chief.
¶152] Three sons that do not share inheritance: a son begotten in a brake,92 the son of a slave, the son of a girl still wearing tresses.
¶153] Three causes that do not die with neglect: the causes of an imbecile, and of oppression, and of ignorance.
¶154] Three bloodsheds that need not be impugned: the bloodshed of battle, of jealousy, of mediating.
¶155] Three cohabitations93 that do not pay a marriage-portion: taking her by force, outraging her without her knowledge through drunkenness, her being violated by a king.
¶156] Three that are not entitled to exemption: restoring a son, the tools of an artificer, hostageship.
¶157] Three deposits that need not be returned: the deposits of an imbecile,94 and of a high dignitary, and a fixed deposit.95.
¶158] Three dead ones that are paid for with living things: an apple-tree, a hazle-bush, a sacred grove.96.
¶159] Three that neither swear nor are sworn: a woman, a son who does not support his father, a dumb person.
¶160] Three that are not entitled to renunciation of authority: a son and his father, a wife and her husband, a serf and his lord.
¶161] Three who do not adjudicate though they are possessed of wisdom: a man who sues, a man who is being sued, a man who is bribed to give judgment.
¶162] Three on whom acknowledgment does not fall in its time: death, ignorance, carelessness.
¶163] Three usucaptions that are not entitled to a fine: fear, warning, asportation.
¶164] Three wages that labourers share: the wages of a caldron,97 the wages of a mill, the wages of a house.
¶165] Three oaths that do not require fulfilment98: the oath of a woman in birth-pangs, the oath of a dead man, the oath of a landless man.
¶166] Three ranks that ruin tribes in their falsehood: the falsehood of a king, of a historian, of a judge.
¶167] Three free ones that make slaves of themselves: a lord who sells his land, a queen who goes to a boor, a poet's son who abandons his father's craft.
¶168] Three brutes whose trespasses count as human crimes: a chained hound, a ferocious ram, a biting horse.
¶169] Three brutish things that atone for crimes: a leashed hound, a spike in a wood, a lath [...]99
¶170] Three things that [...] salt-meat, butter, iron [...] 100
¶171] Three signs that [...]101 in a judge's house: wisdom, information, intellect.
¶172] Three things that should be proclaimed: the flesh-fork of a caldron, a bill-hook without a rivet, a sledge-hammer without [...]102
¶173] Three doors of falsehood: an angry pleading, a shifting foundation of knowledge, giving information without memory.
¶174] Three doors through which truth is recognised: a patient answer, a firm pleading, appealing to witnesses.
¶175] Three glories of a gathering: a judge without perturbation, a decision without reviling, terms agreed upon without fraud.
¶176] Three waves without wisdom: hard pleading, judgment without knowledge, a talkative gathering.
¶177] Three glories of speech: steadiness, wisdom, brevity.
¶178] Three ornaments of wisdom: abundance of knowledge, a number of precedents, to employ a good counsel.
¶179] Three hateful things in speech: stiffness,103 obscurity, a bad delivery.
¶180] Three steadinesses of good womanhood: keeping a steady tongue, a steady chastity, and a steady housewifery.
¶181] Three strayings of bad womanhood: letting her tongue,104 and [...] and her housewifery go astray.
¶182] Three excellences of dress: elegance, comfort, lastingness.
¶183] Three that are not entitled to sick-maintenance: a man who absconds from his chief, from his family, from a poet.
¶184] Three sauces that spoil a sick-bed: [...],105 honey, salt food.
¶185] Three women that are not entitled to a fine: a woman who does not care with whom she sleeps, a thievish woman, a sorceress.
¶186] Three things that ruin every chief: falsehood, overreaching, parricide.106
¶187] Three things that characterise every chaste person: steadiness, modesty, sobriety.
¶188] Three things by which every angry person is known: an outburst of passion, trembling, growing pale.
¶189] Three things that characterise every patient person: repose, silence, blushing.
¶190] Three things that characterise every haughty person: pompousness, elegance, display of wealth.
¶191] Three things that tell every humble person: poverty, homeliness, servility.
¶192] Three signs of wisdom: patience, closeness, the gift of prophecy.
¶193] Three signs 'of folly': contention, wrangling, attachment to everybody.
¶194] Three things that make a fool wise: learning, steadiness, docility. 107
¶195] Three things that make a wise man foolish: quarrelling, anger, drunkenness.
¶196] Three things that show every good man: a special gift,'108 valour, piety.
¶197] Three things that show a bad man: bitterness, hatred, cowardice.
¶198] Three things that set waifs a-wandering: persecution, loss, poverty.
¶199] Three chains by which evil propensity is bound: a covenant, a monastic rule, law.
¶200] Three rocks to which lawful behaviour is tied: a monastery,109 a chieftain, the family.
¶210] Three candles that illumine every darkness: truth, nature, knowledge.
¶220] Three things that constitute a king: a contract with other kings, the feast of Tara, abundance during his reign.
¶230] Three locks that lock up secrets: shame, silence, closeness.
¶204] Three keys that unlock thoughts: drunkenness, trustfulness, love.
¶205] Three inheritances that are divided in the presence of heirs: the inheritance of a jester, of a madman, and of an old man.
¶206] Three youthful sisters: desire, beauty, generosity.
¶207] Three aged sisters: groaning, chastity, ugliness.
¶208] Three well-bred sisters: constancy, well-spokenness,kindliness.
¶209] Three ill-bred sisters: fierceness, lustfulness, obduracy.
¶210] Three sisters of good fortune: good breeding, liberality, mirth.
¶211] Three sisters of good repute: diligence, prudence, bountifulness.
¶212] Three sisters of ill repute: inertness, grudging, closefistedness.
¶213] Three angry sisters: blasphemy, strife, foulmouthedness.
¶214] Three irreverent sisters: importunity, frivolity, flightiness.
¶215] Three reverent sisters: usefulness, an easy bearing, firmness.
¶216] Three woman-days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. If women go to men on those days, the men will love them better than they the men, and the women will survive the men.
¶217] Three man-days: Thursday, Friday, Sunday. If women go to men on those days, they will not be loved, and their husbands will survive them. Saturday, however, is a common day. It is equally lucky to them. Monday is a free day to undertake any business.
¶218] Three duties of guarantorship: staying at home, honesty, suffering (?); staying in one's residence, honesty lest he utter falsehood, suffering (?) payment, viz. letting oneself be stripped for an illegal action instead of the debtor.
¶219] Three pottages of guarantorship: wer-geld or a debtor's [...] or non-possession (?)110.
¶220] Three things hard to guarantee and to become a hostage and to make a contract for: to go security for constructing the fort of a king, an oratory, and a caldron. For it is hard for a man of a family to he given with (?) his fellow.111
¶221] Three things that are undignified for everyone: driving one's horse before one's lord so as to soil his dress, going to speak to him without being summoned, staring in his face as he is eating his food.
¶222] Three lawful handbreadths: a handbreadth between shoes and hose, a handbreadth between ear and hair, a hand-breadth between the fringe of the tunic and the knee.
¶223] What is worst in a household? Sons of a bawd, frequent feasts, numerous alliances in marriages, abundance of mead and wine. They waste you and do not profit.
¶224] Three illnesses that are better than health: the lying-in of a woman with a male child, the fever of an abdominal disease that clears the bowels, a feverish passion to check evil by its good (?).
¶225] Three welcomes of an ale-house: plenty and kindliness and art.
¶226] Three services the worst that a man can serve: serving a bad woman, a bad lord, and a bad smith.112
¶227] Three things that are best in a house: oxen,113 men, axes.
¶228] Three that are worst in a house: boys, women, lewdness.114
¶229] Three signs of boorishness: strife, and contention, and mistaking a person for another (?)115
¶230] Various kinds of mercenaries: [...] 116
¶231] Various kinds of dispensers: [...] 117
¶232] Three that are most difficult to talk to: a king about his booty, a viking in his hauberk, a boor who is under patronage.
¶233] Three whose spirits are highest: a young scholar after having read his psalms, a youngster who has put on man's attire,118 a maiden who has been made a woman.
¶234] Four on whom there is neither restraint nor rule: the servant of a priest, a miller's hound, a widow's son, and a stripper's calf.
¶235] Three hard things119: to go security on behalf of a king or highly privileged person, for a king's honour is wider than any claim; to go security for battle, for no one is capable of any security for a battle save a king under whose yoke are seven tribes; to go security for captivity, except one who owns a serf. Seven prohibitions: to go security for an outlaw, for a jester and for a madman, for a person without bonds, for an unfilial person, for an imbecile, for one excommunicated. Troublesome moreover is every security, for it is necessary for it to give sudden notice as regards every pledge which he gives, now beforehand, now afterwards.
¶236] Three wonders of Glenn Dallan 120 in Tirowen: the boar of Druim Leithe. It was born there, and Finn was unable to do aught against it, until it fell in Mag Li 121 by a peasant who was kiln-drying. Whence Finn said:
The Beast of Lettir Dallan. It has a human head and otherwise the shape of a smith's bellows. The water-horse which lived in the lake by the side of the church cohabited with the daughter of the priest and begot the beast upon her.
- Not well have we fed our hounds,
Not well have we driven our horses,
Since a little boor from a kiln
Has killed the boar of Druim Leithe.
The Ox of Dil 122 is the third wonder. Its father came out of the same lake, and went upon one of the cows of the landholder who lived near the church, and begot the ox upon her.
¶237] Three wonders of Connaught: the grave of Eothaile123 on its strand. It is as high as the strand. When the sea rises, it is as high as the tide. The stone of the Dagda. Though it be thrown into the sea, though it be put into a house under lock, [...] out of the well at which it is. The two herons in Scattery Island. They let no other herons to them into the island, and the she-heron goes on the ocean westwards to hatch and returns thence with her young ones. And coracles have not discovered the place of hatching.
¶238] Three worst smiles: the smile of a wave, the smile of a lewd woman, the grin of a dog ready to leap.124
¶239] What are the three wealths of fortunate people? Not hard to tell. A ready conveyance (?), ale without a habitation (?), a safeguard upon the road.
¶240] Three sons whom chastity bears to wisdom: valour, generosity, laughter filial piety?.
¶241] Three entertainers of a gathering: a jester, a juggler, a lap-dog.
¶242] Three things that are best for a chief: justice, peace, an army.
¶243] Three things that are worst for a chief: sloth, treachery, evil counsel.
¶244] The four deaths of judgment: to give it in falsehood, to give it without forfeiture, to give it without precedent, to give it without knowledge.
¶245] Three things that ruin wisdom: ignorance, inaccurate knowledge, forgetfulness.
¶246] Three nurses of dignity: a fine figure, a good memory, piety.
¶247] Three nurses of high spirits: pride, wooing, drunkenness.
¶248] Four hatreds of a chief: a silly flighty man, a slavish useless man, a lying dishonourable man, a talkative man who has no story to tell.125 For a chief does not grant speech save to four: a poet for satire and praise, a chronicler of good memory for narration and story-telling, a judge for giving judgments, an historian for ancient lore.126
¶249] Three dark127 things of the world: giving a thing into keeping, guaranteeing, fostering.
¶250] Three prohibitions of food: to eat it without giving thanks, to eat it before its proper time, to eat it after a guest.
¶251] Four elements128 of wisdom: patience, docility, sobriety, well-spokenness; for every patient person is wise, and every docile person is a sage, every sober person is generous, every well-spoken person is tractable.
¶252] Four elements129 of folly: silliness, bias, wrangling, foul-mouthedness.
¶253] Three tabus of a chief: an ale-house without story-telling, a troop without a herald, a great company without wolfhounds. 130
¶254] Three indications of dignity in a person: a fine figure, a free bearing, eloquence.
¶255] Three coffers whose depth is not known: the coffer of a chieftain, of the Church, 131 of a privileged poet.
¶256] Three debts which must not be neglected: 132 debts of land, payment of a field, instruction (?) of poetry.