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

poem/story 112


¶1] Emain Macha, whence the name? Not hard to say. Macha Redmane, daughter of Aed ruad son of Badurn, laid on the sons of Dithorba the task of trenching the rath. When they were in outlawry in the wilds of Boirenn, she came to them disguised as a leper, while they were roasting a wild boar in the wood. Each of them in turn carried her off to mate with her, and then she bound each fast. After that, she carried the five sons of Dithorba with her in this plight to Emain; Baeth, Brass, Betach, Uallach and Borbchass were their names. Also she ordered them to trench the rath, for she preferred to make slaves of them rather than kill them. She traced afterwards for them the rath round about her with her brooch-pin, and they trenched it. Whence men say ‘Emain’, that is eó-muin, that is ‘the brooch at Macha's throat’, that is, ‘the pin at her throat’. But see further the Succession of Kings, if thou desirest to learn the full story, which for brevity's sake I here omit.

¶2] Or again, Emain Macha is named from this event: Macha daughter of Sainrith mac Inboith came to race the two steeds of king Conchobar at the Fair, after Crunnchu had declared that his wife was swifter than the king's horses. The king told Crunnchu


that he should die unless his wife came to the race. Then Macha came to save her husband, though pregnant, and raced the horses to the end of the green, and proved swifter than they. Then she was delivered of a boy and a girl at a birth, and the infants screamed, and the sound cast the Ulaid into their sickness, till each man was no stronger than a woman in childbed. And the sickness clave to them thenceforth. From this Macha and from the twins (emon) she bore come the names of Mag Macha and Emain Macha.