Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Metrical Dindshenchas (Author: [unknown])

poem/story 23


  1. Whoever attempts the telling of the story of Ailech of the herds after the noble Eochaid, it is robbing the sword from the hand of Hercules.
  2. The more part of all that O'Maelcholuim demanded Eochaid heretofore expounded intelligibly for the men of the Doball.
  3. Surely, when he asked, what mason built Ailech? Eochaid the arm-proof noble did not conceal that it was Garban of the horses.
  4. Who was present at the building? His tribesman Imchell and Garban the mason, grandson of Garb, from a warlike kin, who built it.
  5. Look, who was he by whom was wrought thereafter the shining work? The man by whom was brought its makings, as requital for the Dagda's scion.
  6. If it be asked, what was the cause why it was made? Round his son's seemly grave he raised the tomb nobly-bright.
  7. Let it be seen wherefore Ailech the illustrious is called so at all? From the stone lifted up by Corrgend
    who waged battle.
  8. Corrgend, son of Flatheman, from Cruach (hearken!) smote Aed, high-born, famous, who was son to the hard Dagda,

  9. p.103

  10. Because Aed came to Corrgend's wife into her bed; ill was the deed, since her partner allowed it not.
  11. Corrgend strode forth, after murdering him in the midst of his house: so he slew Aed, though he was under oath; it was a foolish crime.
  12. The youth of Erin were seeking him—famous that folk! but they found him not at that time after that crime.
  13. ‘Let him be slain,’ cried each man, ‘let him not be spared for what he has done.’ ‘He shall not die,’ said the Dagda, ‘for Tara's sake,’
  14. ‘But lift ye up on his back the dead man he has destroyed; 'tis better for us to take a spell of his service than to smite him,’
  15. ‘And he shall be under the shameful burden of the dead man, without mercy, till he find a stone that shall be a trophy over Aed's grave.’
  16. He marked a stone above loch Foyle (it was a soldier's task), and raised it up with a champion's strength; noble was the hero.
  17. This is what he said as he bore the burden over road after road, ‘Ach! ach! the stone! 'tis by it my heart is bursting!’
  18. ‘Tis right that Ail-ach should cleave to it,’ said the Dagda; so that was the name of the height, in the spot where this befell.
  19. Neit, son of Indui, his mother's brother, possessed Ailech, with Nemain, his law-giver wife, of the wounds of war,

  20. p.105

  21. That it may be called by all men Ailech Neit, the bright neck of land; to him the whole island belonged.
  22. Some one might ask then, what race held the island, when this mighty work was reared above this lough?
  23. Well I remember, it was the Tuatha De Danann in their hosts, with their darts, with their shields, with their war-harness.
  24. Who was king over all Erin, sweet-sounding, radiant? Who but the skilful Dagda? You hear of none other so famous.
  25. The time when the fortress was built, a spacious abode, was the third lamentable epoch of the world, a sorrowful certainty.
  26. There arrived at Ailech, where Imchell was, many generations, before the famous Frigriu came to the far-seen rock.
  27. Frigriu, son of fierce valiant Rude, proud and skilful, brought with gold from arm-clad Scotland, his implements complete.
  28. Cunning was the craftsman whose wife was Ailech the white, though she was daughter to Fubthaire of the white soles.
  29. In flight across the sea the son of prosperous Rude bore her over the surface of a causeway: it was a temptation unknown to her father.
  30. Fubthaire arose to seek him, though it was a hard task (cunning was this deed), and he came unto this height.

  31. p.107

  32. Thereupon she was carried into the keep, full of horses, clamorous; when battle was joined, Ailech was borne from him to Ailech.
  33. Then Frigriu of the Fotharta was afraid before Fubthaire; Fiachu Sroptine protected him till he reached Ailech.
  34. A house was built about his wife by the robber Frigriu; he was noted above the field of exercise for his great renown.
  35. It was built of red yew tooled and arched, overlaid with pure unwrought silver, and gold, and bronze;
  36. It was decked with bright gems, a work that held fast in it; alike were day and night in the midst of it.
  37. Although the name Ailech Frigrenn clave to it thenceforth (behold the bright church!) Ailech Néit loses not through oblivion the name Ailech Imchill.
  38. There is none alive that would know everything, but God only: He knoweth the ordering of times from of old, what it shall be.