¶1] At Christmas we went to the Creeve; all the poets of Fódla were assembled together by the smooth wall of the hospitable castle wherein O'Neill lay at Christmastide.
¶2] One of O'Neill's dwelling-places was the pleasant, lightsome Creevenever was there built a court to excel itwherein all the delight of Ireland was comprised.
¶3] It was then that the unopposed kingship was sustained by a noble scion from Tara's height, Turlogh, the fruitful branch.
¶4] It was ten years since the king had been inaugurated, and the gallant, famous branch of Almhu had built a dwelling in the Creeve.
¶5] We proceed to the Creeve to seek the white-toothed, bright-faced chieftain, we, the encomium-makers of the Land of the Fair, the poets of Ireland.
¶6] It seemed to us, when entering, as if the wall of the firmament had fallen, from the tumult of the sleek, yellow-bridled steeds around the lord of Raoiliu's pathed plain.
¶7] And afterwards it seemed to us, from the sheen of weapons and accoutrements, that the whole place was aflame from roof to foundation.
¶8] The sounds of banqueting in the court of the descendant of Nine-fettered Niall we liken to a stormy sea coming against the shore, from the clashing of purple vessels.
¶9] When just in sight of the rampart even were I at the shoulder of any man I could not hear him because of the strains of music from the citadel.
¶10] Ere we had arrived beside it, it seemed to me that the brilliance of its bright-surfaced goblets, and the fragrant odour of its banquet ales were of themselves a sufficient enjoyment.
¶11] We seat ourselves, ordered and compact hosts, on the border of the lawn; in front of that noble dwelling amidst rich sward was a poet from every quarter of Ireland.
¶12] After a space there come to us the officers of Conn of the Hundred-fighter's descendant, and they welcomed each one, with salutations to all from the high-king.
¶13] No glimpse of the high-king of Ushnagh was had by us that night; the slender, soft-haired hero of Bregia dismissed us to our sleeping chamber.
¶14] From then till morn the fair, haughty cupbearers of famed O'Neill plied us unrelaxingly with refreshment.
¶15] He sent a man to inquire of us if any of our poems contained tidings of his battles throughout Ireland, accounts of his triumphs and exploits.
¶16] 'No,' said the poets of Ireland, 'but,' continued the men of art, 'we have, without any degree of uncertainty, the origin of the genealogical ramifications of Conn's descendants.'
¶17] 'We have,' said the poets of Ireland then, 'The privileges of Niall's seed', the number of their race that ruled over the Bregian Boyne, and all that was rightful for them to do.'
¶18] 'We have said that the Rampart of Croghan, country of shallow rills, and the Rampart of Té, humid and pleasing territory, are his by right, and that he is the sole heir to Ireland.'
¶19] The messenger went to seek the bright-faced, boldly-glancing chieftain, and on the morrow he related the speeches to O'Neill of Mourne.
¶20] 'If their matter for encomium be what they have said,' quoth the son of Niall, 'rather is it their reproach; it is simply an exhortation of the race of Eóghan!'
¶21] 'It were a great insult to the youths of Tara,' said Turlogh, if Tara's plain should be wrested from Art's generous line and they should be unable to avenge it.'
¶22] O'Neill of Tara of Trim declared that he would not listen to any of our poems, butstrange to think onthat he would give a reward for each one.
¶23] Thereupon there come to us the descendant of Niall of Callann and the race of Eóghan; and the ancient hazel-tree of Ulster's plain was full of reproach for our art.
¶24] The son of Niall O'Neill did not lift his kindly, gracious countenance, or his keen, heavy-browed, active eye to the poets of Eber's land.
¶25] From the sole of his soft, smooth, springing foot to his fine, abundant locks Turlogh's handsome, brilliant form became a crimson mass.
¶26] We all filled with fear of the high-king of Conchobhar's race, for the red-lipped hero of Bóroimhe was thoroughly angered.
¶27] We attempted with pleasant speeches to distract his mind, seeking to turn away his wrath, but that availed us nothing.
¶28] The award we asked was conceded to us by the descendant of Nine-fettered Niall, but the noble chief of Monadh's, host would not hearken to one stanza of our art.
¶29] Ever since he hath borne an unchanging aspect of fierce anger, and the king of Fál's noble, vigorous race hath found no abatement of it.
¶30] I ask of the high-king of Oileach, if it be timely to ask it; what caused the keen wrath from which the fierce glow arose in his fair countenance?
¶31] Wherefore this great anger which afflicts the son of Niall, in spite of having well rewarded everyone? What hath caused his clear countenance to flame, or was there any cause?
¶32] If one might say it to himself, as regards this great wrath which afflicts the son of noble Niall, he hath no reason for it; the easier is it to enkindle it.
¶33] His race are as dearly ransomed at the mouth of the Erne as by the limpid streams of the fair Finn, and the sweetly-murmuring Trágh Báile.
¶34] Equally is he obeyed at the Drowes and at the Ards, at the glistening streams of Srúbh Breagh and at the green-banked Boyne by Tailte.
¶35] I do not find that the curly-haired king of fair Derg hath any reason for anger, but territories submitting to him, including kings and assemblies of Ulster 4.
¶36] It is this alone, I know well, that causes the anger of the white-fingered, sleek-browed man, that no one recited to O'Neill a battle-roll of his exploits.
¶37] He would be waiting for them till the day of Doom, if the poets of Ireland were to versify the distant forays of the mighty and spirited one; the hostings and combats of Turlogh.
¶38] However, if all the people of Ireland were united against them they would be in no danger as long as he were on their side; in no place does any dare to contend with him.5