¶201] The end of it was that the fort of Oilill the Fair was captured and destroyed. The host was divided in three divisions thereafter: a third was set apart to attend specially to Meave; a third put under Fergus, who went to Dun Engan Moor for the Maol Flidais; and remaining third under Lugaid, son of Curoi, who proceeded to Glen Mughaighe, where a large number of the chiefs of the men of Ireland were destroyed by the Gamhanraidh, to drive away the cattle.
¶202] It was then that Donald Yellowlocks heard of the battle having been fought, of his son with his chiefs having been slain, his fort destroyed, and his cattle and wealth and wives carried away by the Irishmen. And he began to lament his son and to declare his praises, and said:
- A great calamity the death of Oilill,
The high king of the west of Elga,
Multitudes are in sorrow;
Mighty his arm in times of stress.
- The right to spacious Ireland,
Was his among kings and lords,
His cattle and great wealth
Were carried away hastily.
- Goodly the palace of the king of numerous hosts;
Goodly his household bold and brave;
Many cups and goblets,
East, west, throughout his palace.
- Four hundred and twenty
Battalions active and nimble,
Those who were ranked there,
Were all of like names.
- And there were as many again
Who bore different names.
[gap: extent: one line]
[gap: extent: one line]
- Good his fortune and his reign,
His troops and his glorious men;
To him no dishonour clung,
His household was very numerous,
¶203] As to Fergus: he proceeded forthwith, accompanied by herdsmen and guides from Flidais, to seek the Maol and rouse her up. They went by Lake Letriach and came to the deep dell in which the Maol was put with her large herds, to avoid the hosts and to escape from the numerous troops. Fergus sent his men to gather the cattle quickly together, and they speedily collected the herds and cattle. They found the Maol Flidais lying down. And they were ordering her to rise. She refused. They again urged her vehemently, and still she did not rise. They were pressing her hard for the third time, but they could not remove her from where she lay. Then Fergus approached, for he was amazed at the behaviour of the crowd as they stood over her in the resting-place. And when he heard of the state of matters, he
p.109requested those usually about her to order her up. They said that they never saw her act in this listless manner before, and that they believed it was grief for her lord that prostrated her. Fergus approached her, and angrily attacked her. He gave her a thrust with the hilt of his weapon, when she groaned because of the injurious treatment. He struck her again incontinently, and yet she did not move. He struck her the third time with passion, still she did not give heed to him. But one thing: Fergus struck the cow nine heavy, grievous blows quickly in succession to rouse her up. Over the four airts of Ireland her bellow and lowing groans were heard as they were forcing her to leave her accustomed haunts and face the terrors of being violently driven away. There was not a lord of mansion or stead of the chivalry of the Gamhanraidh but heard the moan and became aware of the violent death of Ailill the Fair. Whence it was that this was the strongest muster they made to avenge Ailill the Fair. Fergus ordered his men to beat her, seeing that she refused to leave her resting-place at his instance, in case the poets would laugh at him. Then Bricne said that the cow would rise forthwith at his bidding. Fergus promised presents to him for rousing her up. And Bricne spoke thus:
- Rise, marvellous cow,
Maol Flidais whose milk is sweet;
Leave Erris with its rough furze,
For it never provided pasture fit for you,
On its red(?) precipices,
Only your devotion to Ailill (made it endurable);
Your herdsmen were beguiled,
While he lorded it there.
Seeing that the warrior no longer lives,
Your days of plenty(?) are also gone.
p.111Remain no longer on these cold hills
But accompany us on our royal road,
To Cruachan of the green haughs.
For the wife of Ailill also comes,
With us on this journey;
And if report be true,
You and she came together out of fairy dwellings.
I shall declare the terms
Which Fergus now offers you,
Magh Aei where Whitehorn dwells will be your home,
To feed upon and consort with him;
Over its kingly knolls and swards, surrounded by your numerous (subject) herds
Lonely(?) and joyless your devotion now that Ailill is gone.
If you fear
the weapons of Fergus,
Bide not the wrath of the stout son of Ros,
But rise at my bidding.
¶204] The (Maol Flidais) left her dwelling without further delay at Bricne's solicitation. The Dubloinges gathered the herds speedily, and drove them in front by Lake Letriach to the round knolls of Glen Mughaighe to meet Meave and Oilill and the sturdy chefs of the kindly host.
¶205] As to Luigdech, son of Curoi, and the third of the men of Ireland's host: they harried the whole of Southern Erris from Letter (slope) Fidach to Glen Mudhaighe. And they experienced very great hardship in these forays. For Muiredach the Stammerer, son of Oilill the Fair, and the clans of Finn and the chivalry of the Gamhanraidh from every part of Cruachan Oighle caught them up. And they slew many of the chiefs of their people, as also Senchan the Little and Senchan the Big and two cow-lords of Meave's people, and they were able to carry along with them only small remnants(?) of the herds to the (camp of the) Irish host.
¶206] The men of Ireland made their chief camp there. And Muiredach the Stammerer pursued Lugaid son of Curoi that night to the very centre of the Irish camp, and continued
p.113attacking the whole host until the morning. That was the night in which he slew Legan the Wizard, Oilill and Meave's musician. And this was the manner of his (slaying). His sleeping quarters were between the apartment of Ailill and of Meave in the royal tent. Muiredach heard him in the very end of the night, chanting music and minstrelsy to Oilill and Meave on a beautiful golden timpan. Muiredach knew that it was in Oilill and Meave's tent (the musician) lodged. He forthwith grasped his golden spear and with lightning speed hurled it at the tent, when it pierced the musical instrument and the breast of the artist so that he was killed outright where he lay. Meave rose early to view him, and all were lamenting him. His death greatly affected Meave. She ordered his grave to be dug, and recited (the lay):
- Legan Drai!
Many will mourn for him;
I promised him when coming to his death,
That he would reach his home again.
- Alas! never more shall Legan return
To his own house again;
Our musician and our wizard,
Whom we also made our sage.
- For his weight of red gold,
I would not part with the master of the delightful arts.
But now, day and night under red clay,
And mould over his pale cheek.
- When Muiredach the Stammerer came,
He wounded fatally the sage;
Often did he sing a song to me,
He was my darling, Legan Drai.
¶207] The adventures of the great Cet son of Magach are given here. He remained on the field behind the men of Ireland,
p.115burying his sons and fosterlings. When their graves were made he moved forward in the track of the men of Ireland. In following our steps he was much hampered by the incessant attack on the men of Ireland and the holding of them up at the fords and passes of Erris. Three very brave warriors of Meave's people fell in with him, Eignech Little and Eignech Big and Siadal son of Sirtachtar. The three fell by the hand of Cet. And Cet said that he slew them all by mistaking them for the pursuers. He pressed the Gamhanraidh in their pursuit of the men of Ireland so hard that he alone constituted a third of the smiting force in the pursuit.
¶208] Then Donald Yellowlocks with his stout troops from Dun Tuath joined in the pursuit to avenge the high king Ailill the Fair on the veterans of Ireland. He sent messengers everywhere urging the Gamhanraidh to follow him to avenge Oilill the Fair. He himself did not wait for their reply, but went forward in close, persistent pursuit of the men of Ireland until he reached the place where Oilill, Fergus, Meave, and all the chiefs of the men of Ireland were, arranged in orderly battalions, after Fergus and the chiefs of Ireland, with the (collected) plunder and booty and the Maol Flidais, joined them. Now Meave thought that they could not be tracked or followed in leaving the country on that march, seeing that Oilill the Fair alone fell, and that her covenant with the Gamhanraidh was so firm.
¶209] As to the Gamhanraidh. After they heard of the fate of their lord, they did not keep their compact with the troops, but proceeded (at once) to avenge him. Donald Yellowlocks was the first to overtake (the Irish host) with his pack of hounds along with it. These eagerly attacked the hosts so that the
p.117men of Ireland were forced forthwith to face them because of the furious and dangerous grip with which the wolf-dogs seized them. They and Donald's soldiers were with ardour destroying and beheading each warrior of the men of Ireland whom they fell upon. Fergus and the Dubloinges went to shield the men of Ireland from them, and he and the wolf-dogs fought forthwith. Fergus went in his chariot, and when a specially dangerous and powerful wolf-dog of Donald's saw him in the chariot it made a fierce and very sudden spring at him. Fergus with Fergarbh (Rough-man) his charioteer stood watchfully to meet the attack. The dog disregarding their weapon to deliver a blow, the chariot gave way under him, for it was not able a sustain the weight of the three powerful individuals at one and the same time, and its wheels and shafts and axles broke right away. When Fergus could not obtain a firm foothold in the chariot he leapt out, carrying his weapons with him. And when his warriors followed him the dog made an angry, fierce, and venomous rush with her teeth at Fergarbh. She caught the small of his body (i.e. his neck) firmly in the big-fanged, open mouth, and tore his head from his body. And when she failed to find Fergus near she seized on the horses, attacked them furiously, and killed them forthwith. When the men of Ireland saw Fergus leaving his chariots unsupported, panic almost seized them. Donald's people, and the dogs, and the first muster of the heroes of the Gamhanraidh slew a great many of the followers of Meave and Oilill and Fergus in that scare, and wrought many losses and disasters upon them. Fergus felt shamed at the check he experienced, and turned back again to the broken chariot, which he had abandoned. He found his charioteer and horses mangled by Donald's dog. He gave a look of triumph at her, and grasped his spear to
p.119crush her. He made a quick, well-aimed cast at her, when the spear entered her head, and, after piercing it, fixed itself in the ground, so that her life left her in that spot.
¶210] Fergus compelled the whole of those who fought and harassed them to retreat, and then they deliberated as to their journey and marches, their routes and [...]. They all proceeded to leave Erris-Domnann without delay. Fergus and the Dubloinges kept in the rear of the men of Ireland. They were not long on the march when they saw Donald's banners gleaming red in pursuit of them. The Gamhanraidh went and joined him at one place in quivering and blazing-venomous battalions to avenge Oilill the Fair on the men of Ireland. Fergus urged the Dubloinges to make all haste to meet Donald. The Dubloinges stoutly opposed the Gamhanraidh in order to prevent the effective force of the pursuers from getting at the men of Ireland, and (thus) to maintain the honour of Fergus. They attacked Donald in a body, and in the first brush hurled a battle spear at the stout warrior. He, without moving from the spot on which he stood, raised his shield, and the broad battle spear with sure aim hit the great shield. The mighty king's followers met that charge, and hurled weapons without numbers and with deadly aim against the Ulster men.
¶211] Then Fergus in a loud voice ordered his soldiers not to exchange weapons or blades with the enemy, but to leave him and Donald to make a stout fight on that spot, seeing that it was by his hand that Donald's son fell. Fergus's people then gave way, and the Gamhanraidh were also forced to cease aiding Donald. They cleared a broad, tramped-down space for the heroes on which to fight, for Fergus was anxious to ward off Donald's bold, sternly-venomous might from the men of Ireland at that juncture, and Donald was eager to make a fierce onslaught on Fergus in revenge of Oilill the Fair. Each hurled his battle-weapons furiously at the other as was the habit of the champions, but the weapons made no impression on them because of the proof of their armour and their breast-coverings. Then the (two) battle-soldiers
p.121closed with each other. They mutually pressed home their attack, they battered each other's heads and shields and helmets very fiercely, so that the whole of the four great provinces of Ireland heard the din. The men of Ireland turned their faces to gaze at them, and the chivalry of the Gamhanraidh who had joined in the pursuit watched the contest of these mighty men from their side, for they were firmly convinced that neither of the two would give way in that encounter, because of the ferocity of their swift blows, and the wariness of their defence, and the greatness of their enmity, and their overpowering strength. The two wielded their weapons against each other so furiously, viciously, venomously, threateningly, that shields were cleft, and mails hacked, and helmets twisted in that conflict. The fray did not cease until their hands got tired through (prolonged) exertion and their feet failed to support them. And great though the force was with which the battle-warriors smote each other, not a drop of blood was on the body of either. They observed that the men of Ireland were getting impatient as they looked on, and besides exhaustion and lassitude seized themselves, since neither of them was able to wound or maim the other. So they parted from that conflict skin-whole on either side.
¶212] Great vast wonder seized the men of Ireland on seeing those two might men parting (in this manner). They moved forward without delay to the hill of Dun Engan and to Glen Cruach, with all the Gamhanraidh in pursuit and committing great slaughter upon them. Thus the Gamhanraidh acted on their march: they carried with them the heads of all the men of Ireland who they slew, leaving their bodies behind, until they reached the glen in which the men of Ireland camped. And no sooner were they there than the pursuers were upon them in front and rear, fiercely attacking them. They made a heap of the men of Ireland's heads there, whence the name (of the place), Heap of the Heads. That night was passed there in great anxiety.
¶213] They fared forth early on the morrow, and Meran the warrior overtook them. He engaged the heroes with zest, and slew many soldiers, among them Legan, son of Lusg [...], a worthy warrior of Oilill and Meave's army, whence the name the Stream of Legan. They marched from that place in great anxiety to the slope of the hill of Finn, where Caillderg son of Lilach overtook them. This man attacked them with great violence, as if he were the only one who engaged in the pursuit, for not a mighty chief of Ireland's men met him but fled before him. And Buinne Beimennach (Blow-dealer), a battle warrior of Oilill and Meave's people, went forth to withstand and engage him. The two fought in the view of the men of Ireland on that field until Buinne Beimennach fell by the hand of the son of Lilach on that spot.
¶214] The men of Ireland left that place, and they did not halt on that march until they encamped in Glen-da-Aran on that
p.205night. Full of wounds, streaming with blood, and sorely bruised were the best of the men of Ireland that night after the charge of the Gamhanraidh, so that not one among them save Fergus only had any strength or valour left in him. Thus they were on that night. They rose up early on the morrow, after their physicians had bound up and dressed all their wounds and sores. Their non-combatants slowly went in front, while they themselves were in the rear drawn up in ranked battalions for the defence of these. For there was not a knoll they passed (but they had to face) the Gamhanraidh, whose chiefs had mustered and collected from all quarters to attack them, for affection and anger and contrition took hold of them, so that there was not a freeman of their people from Inver Luimnech to Drowes whose heart was not (now) bent on punishing the men of Ireland and thoroughly avenging (the death of) Oilill the Fair.
¶215] The men of Ireland heard this, and dread and great fear took hold of them all. They made little progress on that day, the Gamhanraidh harassed them so, and they encamped at the north end of Conloch that night. They sent Cormac Conloinges and Lugaid son of Curoi with a number of the Irish warriors to explore the road on which they marched out of the country, and to find out whether there was a mustering or gathering in pursuit of them from that quarter. They were so sorely pressed that night that they were obliged to tie the Maol Flidais to a pillar by the door of Meave's tent. The scouts returned early on the morrow, and informed them that the whole force of the Gamhanraidh were on the level ground at the head of Conloch, and the news reduced them all to silence.
¶216] They held counsel, and resolved to keep the front of their booty and battalions towards the path which the champions guarded, as if to show (the enemy) that the whole of their assembled force were to march in the direction (but meanwhile)
p.207they would endeavour to find opportunity to march secretly by another route. Such was their disposition during the whole of that fair day until night, while the enemy were hustling and harassing them. They had the command of neither road nor path, the warriors having all come together to one place to oppose them. Thus they were ready when next night came to march secretly back to the land of Breas, and thus get out of that danger. They sat down as though there was no way open for them; while the Gamhanraidh encamped in another place on the road on which, as they thought, the chiefs meant to travel. They were in that position, each watching the other, until night came. When night fell on the men of Ireland they all left the camp, save Fergus and the sentinels who remained to guard the rear until their fighting force along with the booty and sick people should all pass on. Fergus with his stout troops followed slowly and warily.
¶217] They had not proceeded far on that march when the Gamhanraidh became aware of this manoeuvre, and their scouts made known their escape. The Gamhanraidh then furiously pursued the men of Ireland. But they hardly made up with the troops until they reached Mag Bron, because of the deception practised upon them. Many of their warriors overtook them there, and inflicted great slaughter on the men of Ireland, which was a cause of grief and sorrow to their chiefs, whence the name of the placeField of Sorrow.
¶218] As to the men of Ireland: they proceeded in vast numbers to Red Stream. And they did not wait for the rear to come up, but plunged forthwith into the river, so that a vast number of their women and children were drowned and lost. Only their strong men and battle chiefs and principal champions and cavalry were able to ford the river. And their losses since the time they carried the Maol Flidais away cannot be reckoned.
¶219] As to Fergus: he marched in the rear of the host, accompanied by the Dubloinges. The last of them were
p.209at the ford opposing the Gamhanraidh when they saw the main body of the force approaching them in fighting order. They did not allow Fergus time to view them, but made him follow the men of Ireland across the ford. The Irishmen crossed the mouth of the ford, but they were hardly over sooner than the Gamhanraidh at another crossing. Both parties raised a loud exulting shout at the ford, the Irishmen boasting that they escaped the Gamhanraidh in spite of them, the Gamhanraidh vaunting about the number of Irishmen slain by them. The men of Ireland counted their host and troops there, and only seven battalions of the champions were found to have crossed the Ford of Lecon on that day, and to have made for Bres territory after that onslaught. The rear were not able to march from that spot before the Gamhanraidh held up the champions as formerly, being chagrined at their having escaped their troops through the dangerous traps (laid for them).
¶220] Meave summoned marvellous courage when she perceived the confused state of matters under the chiefs. She kept in the rear of the stout warriors. The Gamhanraidh were vigorously pressing the pursuit with the view to reach and to crush Meave. She did not blench or shrink from the situation, but kept her place valiantly in front of the hosts who needed her help so much that she did not find opportunity [gap: extent: seven lines left untranslated] so that Lecan became the name of that ground and spot thereafter. She then quickly entered her chariot, took her place gallantly among the warriors, and firmly kept step in the line.
¶221] The men of Ireland thereupon marched without delay, the Gamhanraidh fiercely pursuing them. Donald Yellowlocks
p.211overtook them there. The chiefs of the men of Ireland were greatly alarmed at his approach, for all the Gamhanraidh gathered round him, having left the place where they had hitherto been hewing and hacking. When the men of Ireland saw Donald pressing the charge home, they all bitterly reproached Fergus for (the issue of) his former duel with Donald. When Fergus heard these accusations great shame seized him for not having protected the stalwart men from Donald. He beseeched the Dubloinges vehemently to display great courage and to check Donald's attack. They all resolved to oppose him, and they sought opportunity (to slay him). Donald hurried the attack after crossing the Ford of Champions. And Fergus met him there. They fought on the brink of the ford, and none of the men of Ireland were able to intervene until they were battering each others' shields in conflict. Donald's men and Fergus's men joined in the fight, each to aid his lord and chief. These households pounded each other in the conflict until they fell side by side in the battle-fight. Fergus and Donald fought that combat in the view of the men of Ireland so furiously that his friend could not render aid or assistance to either, until Donald (at last) fell under the powerful blows of Fergus. And no sooner did the warrior reach the ground than Fergus and the men of Ireland were obliged to leave him where he fell, without stripping him of his armour.
¶222] They proceeded in the track of the retreating party closely pursuing them, and the host never experienced greater hardships than in the retreat from the strand of Ros airgid (silvern). Nevertheless they endured every calamity and loss that befel them until the darkness of night came to them. They encamped that night in great anxiety in the north of the land of Corann, and were obliged to tie the Maol Flidais to a pillar of stone, the knoll being called Maol's Knoll ever after. The Gamhanraidh surrounded
p.213them until full daylight came to the hosts, when, upon full daylight coming, their champions were engaged in promiscuous fighting; and the march of the hosts from that spot was almost a rout, so that they were not able to loose the Maol from the pillar to which she was tied.
¶223] Muiredach the Stutterer son of Oilill made a rush in front of the mighty host, and found by chance Flidais and her female attendants there. He carried her away with him forthwith. And he let the hosts past until he reached the centre of the men of Ireland's camp, where he reached the centre of the men of Ireland's camp, where he found the Maol Flidais tied to the pillar. He instantly loosed. He then sent word to the Gamhanraidh to cease fighting, and forbidding further pursuit. He told them how he found Flidais and the Maol Flidais with the booty. The Gamhanraidh thereupon ceased their attack, and the pursuit came to an end. And the chiefs of the men of Ireland proceeded with Meave to Cruachan.
¶224] Muiredach the Stutterer and the chiefs of the Gamhanraidh, with Flidais and her women-folk and her herds, turned back west on the same road on which they came, until they reached the place where Donald Yellowlocks fell. And thus they found him, with a band of his attached people and devoted friends around him keeping guard over him. They all encamped around him there that night. They build a turf grave over him early on the morrow. And Muiredach the Stutterer composed an elegy upon him and said:
- Sad the fate of Donald Yellowlocks,
From Dun Tuaith without his forces,
His pursuit of the foray, unsupported,
Caused his speedy death.
- Donald ought not to have braved
The great Dubloinges of Meave;
His death was a cruel deed,
A loss to those who loved him.
- The mighty lord of Erris delayed not,
Until we could have joined him in the strife;
Woe to the king who waits not for his troops,
Before engaging in stern warfare
- Ailill (fell) before his father,
Of the death revealed to him,
That he would die
Without aid from his warriors.
- Through Oilill the Fair, the husband of Flidais,
Met his death in his dread career,
Greater to us the loss of Donald
Through enmity and pride;
- Woe to those who went on that quest,
Where fell the noble warrior;
To be lifeless in the slaughter,
The foray was indeed a disastrous one.
¶225] When they had completed the grave of the battle-soldier and raised a [...] pillar (in his memory), they moved forward quickly until they reached the Ford of Lecan that day. They encamped there quite worn out. And they went over their exploits and their sufferings, and the story of the raid and the pursuit, upon which the poet composed the following quatrains:
- Here was fought a valorous fight,
It was featful, above the fair
Fierce and dexterous
Over the raid of fair Flidais's red cows.
- Goodly the Maol, great her
Her produce exceeded that of every other,
Fifty boys, with three hundred valorous heroes,
Would be fed by her milk.
- The host was divided in three,
(The chiefs surrounded the cattle),
A third of brilliant Leinstermen,
A third of fighting Ulstermen.
- The remaining third were Connaught men,
Powerful like a flood the warriors;
Although the roll of praise were closed,
(Still) would be found fiery warriors by the sea.
- The cow was lying on the ground;
A great chief found the herd;
Thrice were efforts made to rouse her,
The host could not accomplish it.
- Then came Fergus himself,
A fierce impetuous dragon of goodly presence;
He looked south, he looked north,
He stood up when he struck the Maol.
- Fergus struck the hummel cow
Thrice in the presence of this host;
Her low and moan were heard
East, south, and north.
- Strenuous arm and mighty hand,
Keen in vigorous onslaught;
Hacked carcases under red clay,
Beyond a river of the west.
- Donald's hound sped from his castle,
With fifty relentless hounds following;
She destroyed the prince's stately chariot,
She slew his truly generous charioteer.
- Fergus killed the slim hound,
With the polished spear that pierced her head
On the field above the glen,
The son of Roich's horses were slaughtered.
- Then came the
Tough and strong as an oak was he;
There with matchless strength he discharged
A hundred deadly shots in quick succession.
- Fergus made a mighty, powerful thrust
At the featful
'Let the hosts be restrained from impetuous blow
Let us two fight it out ruthlessly.'
- They fought where they stood,
Equal in valour, equal in arms;
A marvel it was, no blood on their body,
No wound was found on either.
- As they thrust vigorously,
And charged strenuously;
And soon (it ended), as we judged,
In the glen by Heap-of-heads.
- Meran ran through the fight,
A flow (of sweat) from his visage;
He wielded a heavy club, rough the shiver,
He slew Legan by the stream.
- Boinne from the hill was slain,
His blows did not lack force,
On the slope of the woody hill of Finn,
He fell by the hand of the fierce son of Lilach.
- They fought other fights equally glorious,
They made a bright large camp,
In the glen above spacious Aran.
- They chose their camp with knowledge,
On the slope above the seaport to the south:
They place troops with sure judgment
On the precipitous side of Loch Cuile.
- The mighty chiefs were forceful men,
The mould of their graves was bloody,
Terrible was the deed of the son of Roich,
Fair, specious, stern.
[gap: extent: one line]
[gap: extent: one line]
On the one spot
Let him lie alone after the hosts (have departed).
- They departed stealthily soon after,
It was a great confused movement;
They marched in fear and trembling,
Across the ford of Lecan, across the Moy.
- Seven battalions the number of the host,
With Fergus son of Roich who commanded them:
They fought many a fight,
Against the braves mustered here.
¶226] The Gamhanraidh placed Muiredach the Stutterer on his father's throne thereafter. And some learned persons say that he had Flidais with him there for a season; and that she, with the Maol Flidais in her train, went to Lake Letriach to hide her secret. And nothing is known of her from that day to this. Thus far then the Raid of Flidais's cows and the Pursuit thereof.