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

poem/story 53


  1. Know ye with certainty the brisk veracious tale that pertains to noble Irarus from its fruitage—preserve it !
  2. Once when Cairpre, king of the sprightly bards, who was named radiant Lifechair, the man of gleaming clashing blades,
  3. Was in Rath Cairpre, as I have heard—that prince of martial bards, that fair-haired host-girt easeful lord, to chase the inviolate birds,

  4. p.213

  5. They sang, the strange inviolate birds, a sad mournful strain for radiant Cairpre of Lorc, over his comely form.
  6. These were their names, 'Tortha' and 'Tortha', a goodly pair of comrades, thou hearest: not short was their journey.
  7. The other birds thereafter of that lovely spectral terror were 'Tiagu, Tiagu', in that hour, the tender womanly pair.
  8. They cast the wealthy generous king into a tedious long disease, full seven times fifty nights, as long as the union that brought them to him lasted.
  9. Cairpre of the troops called for his rhyming
    druid, Bicne by name, a cheerful man, loved of all.
  10. He said to this strict druid: ‘Now shall I never thrive unless thou rid me of the bird-flock that holds my strength in thrall.’
  11. ‘From what quarter do they call, the fierce birds that beset thee, my fair friend Cairpre? in what wise do they assail thee?’
  12. ‘Westward they assail’, said Cairpre; ‘from the east they approach, from the bright sunrise; exceeding fiercely they call.’

  13. p.215

  14. ‘Then let there be brought to me this muster, complete: a tree from each well-grown wood, a limb prolific for propagation.’
  15. The dauntless druid chanted against them many a spell, as is told here at all times, but found no tree to avail.
  16. ‘The wood of Frosmuine, look ye, with its palisade of shrub, hew it down and search it!’ said the druid with his rhymes.
  17. So they found him a spindle-tree from the fruit-laden brake, without long waiting for the worthy man who gets it.
  18. The mighty druid, well pleased, chanted over it without delay, and straightway healed his trouble and his honour.
  19. That tree was borne aloft, diffusing patriarchal perfume, and it checked the birds and their singing, be sure!
  20. ‘Since every rite hath prevailed,’ said the druid gift-enriched, ‘from our wonted good day's work comes the name of noble Érerus.’
  21. Hence shall men utter the riddling appellation (be it seen!) Irarus of the onset, from the healing of Cairpre, 'tis certain.

  22. p.217

  23. To its lord was bequeathed (a word that oblivion wastes not) that he should understand clearness of judgements when he ate of its fruit.
  24. So runs profitably the legend unimpaired, from the tale of the tangled thickets: know ye its certainty?