Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Metrical Dindshenchas (Author: [unknown])
- King of loughs is this lough in the south,
Loch Garman of the famous poets,
wide and winding haven of the ships,
gathering-place of the buoyant boats.
- 5] A place that is a king's demesne,
where sea and mainland meet,
a stronghold, after the ejection of idols,
merrily was spread its story.
- Which of them was earlier in date,
10] let it be asked of the learned of Erin
the lough of the hosts wont to frequent it on the east,
or the cold river that ran down to it?
- 'Tis long between one and the other,
if the truth be well tried,
15] from the outburst of the stainless stream
to the outburst of the limpid lough.
- The river first arose
I am versed in their fortunes
the broad pure placid lake was not
20] till long after the river.
- In the time of Cathair of the bitter battles
came the outburst of pure cold Loch Garman:
in the time of the unblenching Fir Bolg
came the outburst here of ancient Slane.
- 25] Three divisions there were among the Fir Bolg;
to mention them is not out of place;
they conquered Erin at intervals by force,
from three river-mouths.
- One-third of them is numbered there
30] at populous Inber Domnand;
the second third, without feebleness,
at warlike Inber Dubglaise.
- The last third that came hither
came to Inber Slane of the armies,
35] led by Slane, whose repute would not be scanty,
from whom the river has its name.
- It is there they came to land,
the expedition of the Fir Bolg, smooth of speech
to Port Coelrenna conceal it not!
40] for that was its name at that time.
- It is there the hosts arrived,
at Port Coelrenna of the carouse:
from the oars they brought thither,
from them is Ramand named.
- 45] The story of the name of the brimming lough,
if we give an account of it,
in the narration though great the undertaking
the profit lies in the exposition.
- The Feast of Temair every third year,
50] for implementing of laws and ordinances,
which were made firmly at that time
by the noble kings of Erin.
- Cathair of the many kinsmen held
the right pleasant feast of the kings of Temair;
55] to keep the feast came the better cheer!
the men of Erin to the same spot.
- Three days before Samain, a standing custom,
three days after it, it was a good custom,
the gathering spent, and vast the blaze before them,
60] carousing ever the length of the week.
- No theft, no manslaying,
among them at this season;
no play of weapons nor wounds,
no brooding over enmity.
- 65] Whoever should do any of these things
was a culprit fated to evil doom;
money in atonement would not be accepted from him,
but his life was required straightway.
- There was a champion there in the house
70] at Cathair's back (we conceal it not):
Garman, son of Boimm Licce
of the people of dappled Berba,
- When it came to pass there in the house,
while the great host was in drink,
75] that he stole the queen's golden coronet;
it was no right deed for a friend to do.
- He makes off with the golden coronet
from Temair of the mighty host;
till he reached narrow Inber Slane
80] in the east of the southern part of Erin.
- After him, from the north, comes
the household of Cathair of the pointed spears;
they overtake him there by the well
that was at the river's mouth.
- 85] When they took fierce Garman,
the spring burst forth strong and high,
from the rock to the lovely sea;
since then it is a lough, green and broad.
- Garman is drowned in the brimming lough;
90] the learned are continually making mention of it,
haven of knives and bright shields;
from him the name Lough Garman clave to it.
- That is the right and true story
of the lough so bright and broad,
95] and of the river, lovely their splendour!
whereby tarries every high king.
- Once on a time, clear-souled Cathair was
in the prosperous prime of his life,
when there appeared to him a vision that became known,
100] which threw the host of Erin into deep distress.
- The daughter of a goodly landowner, lord of hundreds,
radiant of form, perfect in beauty,
appeared (it was no sin)
to the hero in his sleep.
- 105] Every fair hue man can see,
blue, dappled, yellow,
and purple the sight was pleasant
were in the raiment the lady wore.
- In this wise was the white woman,
110] great with child, and her womb ever full,
to the end of eight hundred good years,
though strange it be to relate:
- Till she bore a son, brave was his bulk,
who brought many a champion to sudden death;
115] the day he was born (this was illusion)
the son was stronger than his mother.
- The mother, great above women,
attempts to go from him, so as to avoid him;
she found no way (they join strife)
120] but through the midst of her great son.
- A beautiful hill above the comely head
of the woman and her son together;
clear to view from its summit the enduring earth;
not often was it without a great host.
- 125] A tree of gold on the hill free from battle,
its crown reached the cloudy welkin;
thence the music of the men of the world
was heard from the tree's crown.
- Whenever the violent wind would beat
130] on the soft fresh foliage of the tree
there would be vast plenty, O sir!
of its fruits on the soil of earth.
- Every fruit the hosts would choose,
from east, from south, and from north,
135] like the flood-tide of the lazy sea,
would come from the top of that one tree.
- This was the vision of the warrior of the combat,
round whom the Leinstermen made rejoicing,
Cathair, son of fair Fedilmid,
40] the high king of Erin from Alend.
- Thereupon the noble prince awakes
from his slumber long and deep,
the head of the people of Leinster generally,
to relate his dream.
- 145] There is called to him the well-attended druid,
high in favour was he with the king,
that he might solve for him, even with the edge [of his wit],
all the riddles the king had seen.
- "I will solve them," said the keen druid,
150] "if I have a reward that shall be fully sufficient,"
with honour from thee all thy days as well,"
said Bri, son of Bairchid.
- Firm covenants are given to him
for receiving reward every day
155] and for honour there in his house
and for wealth, as he demanded.
- Thereafter the druid gives them
the interpretation of the vision faithfully:
according as he gave of yore the famous interpretation
160] it is fulfilled in later times, though long after.
- "This is the young woman, mighty and tall,
thou sawest, O fiercest king!
the river that is in thy land yonder
whose abiding name is Slane."
- 165] "These are the colours thou speakest of
in the young woman's raiment,
the men of every new art under heaven,
without sameness in their metres13."
- "This is the landowner lord of hundreds, be sure,
170] who was father to the fair woman,
the earth," said the druid of his own accord,
"through which every kind yields a hundred-fold."
- "This is the son who was in her womb
eight hundred years, as I pledge my word,
175] a lough that shall be born from her on green sward,
and shall spread abroad in thy time."
- "The day he shall be born with his shouting
he shall drown the brimming river:
everyone shall be drinking of her along her margin,
180] but great though she be, he shall be greater."
- "This is the great hill, greater than any eminence,
which thou sawest above their heads
thine own might over everyone, good luck to it!
- 185] "This is the storm-tossed tree of gold,
branching, wide, full of fruit,
thyself in thy kingship over tuneful Banba,
and over every dwelling in Erin."
- "This is the stately music
190] that was in the crown of the enduring tree
thy noble eloquence, lovelier thereby,
when appeasing a multitude."
- "This is the wind, steady without harshness,
that shook down the fruits,
195] thy generosity, O white-toothed king, sung in lays,
when dividing kine among the comely hosts."
- "To thee pertains the peculiar import
of the vision on every chief hill;
thou shalt not believe the Faith in thy life-time
200] till thou art sole king over Erin."
- Eochaid the Learned, to whom it was easy,
found legendary lore
for Lough Garman yonder in his country,
while kindling the light of verse for a great king.
- 205] I crave a boon for myself from God,
that good may be the fortune of my soul
(may no sin in the flesh besmirch it)
with Him who had no father's kin.