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

poem/story 127


¶1] Snam Da En, whence comes the name? Not hard to tell. Nar son of Fiac son of Imchad son of Conall cernach lived in the province of Connaught. Estiu the woman-warrior was his mate. Buide son of Derg from Cruachan Dubthire was her lover. He and his foster-brother, Luan son of Lugair son of Lugaid, used to visit Estiu in the shape of two birds, and sing a plaintive song to the host till it put them to sleep. Then while they slept the two would take their own shapes, and Buide would sleep with Estiu. Nar asked his druid whence came those birds to Estiu. The druid told him that they were Buide and Luan, in the shape of birds. The next day they came and swam upon the Shannon, and Estiu came to meet them. Nar came behind them and made a cast at the birds, and slew them both at one shot. So Snam Da En gets its name from the swimming of the birds thereon. But a little life was left in Luan, and he went along the river and died at Ath Luain, so that ‘Luan's Ford’ is named after him. And Estiu went to Mag Esten and died there, and from her it is called Estiu's Plain. Nar too died of grief for his wife at Moin Tire Nair. Wherefore the shanachie said: ‘Hence comes the name of Ath Luain, and Snam Da En therewith, and Moin Tire Nair—glorious the meeting-place! and Mag Esten, for men to mention.’

¶2] Or again, this is why it is called Snam Da En: because Conan Honey-mouth, the Dagda's son, and Ferdoman son of Ronan,


whose other name is Aed Rind, fought in combat there for the sake of Celg, Ferdoman's daughter, whom Conan sought to wed, and Ferdoman gave him a refusal. For it had been foretold him that he should die when his daughter slept with her husband; therefore he would not give his daughter to any man. So Conan challenged Ferdoman to combat, because he denied him the girl. Then his two foster-brethren came to Conan in the shape of two birds from the Sid of Fair Women to bear him aid: their names were Remur and Cael. They swam the water before his eyes, and it would be from that swimming that it is called Snam Da En. They came from the Sid-mounds in the shape of two hounds. Then the combat was fought, and all four fell there together. Hence the names Snam Da En and Ailen an Chomraic and Inber Cail.
    1. I will tell you truthfully the names of the birds from whom Snam Da En is called: a tale of wrongs that confronts this concourse, the origin of the ever-glorious Crossing.
    2. Nár son of Fiacc son of curled Conall, whose words were not the words of ignorance, had to wife the lovely woman Estiu, the woman-warrior ever-white.
    3. Buide son of Derg, by full right, from the hilly ground of Dubthir, was famous Estiu's lover—Buide son of Derg, bold of hue.
    4. Buide son of Derg, ready in hospitality, and Luan his foster-brother visited bright Estiu in the shape of two birds, a lovely sight.
    5. Then they chanted to the host a song, shrill, wistful, unceasing, till all the host fell asleep at the song of the fairy-folk.

    6. p.355

    7. While all thus slept a long sleep, they came in their proper shape, and Buide (small wonder) shared Estiu's bed.
    8. Then Nár inquires of them from his druid (earnest was their converse), from what part come the birds to beautiful stately Estiu.
    9. Then said the druid: ‘We shall not hide it from thee, O King! the birds that come hither are Buide and Luan—no sluggard is he.’
    10. Then the birds come, as they were wont, upon the ford: in an evil hour they came to the tryst, and Estiu came to meet them.
    11. Conall Cernach's son's son came on them from behind, heavy was the harm! and hurled his spear—strong was his cast—and slew them at one shot.
    12. A little life remained in Luan, so that he reached the cool ford, and above by the ford died Luan son of Lugair son of Lugaid.
    13. Estiu went along the riverside, and no short race she ran: from her is named the plain where she died in Mag Esten.
    14. Nár went to Moin Tire Nair, after their tryst failed, and died of sorrow for his wife—Nár son of Fiac, one that never fled.

    15. p.357

    16. Hence comes the name Ath Luain, and Snam Da En therewith, and Moin Tire Nair—glorious the meeting!—and Mag Esten, by Shannon with its crossings.
    17. The place has another legend: though I say so, 'tis no lie; and each of the legends is true, whoever has the telling.
    18. Aed son of Ronan, rich in wealth, whose brave father Find slew, was thenceforth at feud with the Fianna—Aed Rind, son of fierce Ronan,
    19. Aed son of Ronan son of Aed son of Imchad, fair to see, son of Laigsech, kindly of mood, son of Conall son of Amairgen.
    20. A hundred comely valiant warriors, with three fierce kings, was the number that fell by his hand, his share so far, until the furious battle of Maistiu.
    21. When the tide of battle turned against Aed from Maistiu onwards, he sends to the Fianna a challenge to single combat—right staunch was his gallantry.
    22. Aed and Fiachu and Cu Laigen did he slay by deeds of valour, yet Aed son of Ronan, the terrible, stayed not his hand.
    23. Kingly of form was Aed Rind: if he were till Doomsday on the hill, he had never found a man to stand against him—Aed son of Ronan, the man of many feats.

    24. p.359

    25. Uprose then Find himself, when the Fianna shirked the fight; he grasped all his weapons, he, Find mac Cumaill of Almu.
    26. Then spoke honoured Cailte: ‘Stay thy loud shouting, Find! single combat, with peril of battle, shall not fall to thee while I live.’
    27. Then Find answered Cailte, where he stood at his side: ‘Rather than see thee dead I will die myself by his fell blade.’
    28. Said Cailte, stout of limb: ‘Be it not thy task, O King, to win Aed's head from him suddenly, while I am there to take it.’
    29. Said Aedan son of swift Derg, and said Aed cúl-dub, the witless, that they would rid them of Aed Rind; their right it was to encounter him.
    30. ‘Good though Aedan be, and good though Aed, dear though they both be to thee, better am I in the hour of danger, at facing the fray.’
    31. ‘Seest thou not the three champions? great slaughter has he wrought, meseems; there have not joined my Fianna till now other three more warlike.’
    32. ‘Say not so, O King! dear to thee though thy grandsons were, I am better, when I range the ranks, than those beardless boys.’

    33. p.361

    34. ‘Knewest thou not the noble Nechtain? knewest thou not the swiftness of his hands? at lopping limbs he could match a hundred, yet Aed overcame him.’
    35. ‘By thy hand, O Find, with thy might of captains—by my spear, by my sword, by my shield! he takes not yet his weapons for fight, the warrior that shall bring me to my grave at last.’
    36. Cailte steps forth with vigorous stride, bent like a bow, strong and fiery, till on the plain he met with the radiant son of Ronan.
    37. Then Cailte said: ‘What thou hast done thou shalt not boast: thyself shall fall even now, though thou hast done bloody deeds.’
    38. Then said Aed Rind: ‘A battle without firm conditions is not good: I will accept peace and stay of battle, if thou wouldst get them for me, Cailte.’
    39. Honoured Cailte answered him: ‘Lay down thy weapons, come and meet me; come, if thou wilt, under my surety, till we parley with the host.’
    40. Then they met together, victorious Cailte and Aed; Find's Fianna wondered to see Aed yield to any man in Erin.
    41. Then said Find of Fal: ‘I bid you welcome without fear: long have ye been afoot: a restless spirit is not good.’

    42. p.363

    43. ‘I will not sit,’ quoth fair Cailte, ‘and Aed shall not sit, till thou give him his land, and till he get somewhat more to boot.’
    44. He struck his hand in Find's hand, and methinks it was no hardship for him; and the prince Aed mac Ronain obtained his land in full.
    45. A while he spent in the Sid that bred him, a while in attendance upon Find, so that he was a ‘man between two worlds’, and Ferdomon was his name.
    46. Masc, daughter of honourable Maigne, was Aed's wife among the Fianna; fair was the woman, and her children were Enan and fair white Celg.
    47. Every one that sought the hand of lovely Celg, it was himself that was the loser thereby: by the force of a fearless warrior would he fall, by the hand of Ferdomon.
    48. Ossin, Find's son, loved Celg, Aed's beautiful daughter, yet dared not speak of his love; he feared Aed of the red weapons.
    49. Ossin himself spoke with Conan son of the mighty Dagda: ‘Ask for Celg, since thou art a friend, that thou live not always unwedded.’
    50. Then Conan Honey-mouth, glorious above all, hied him to the drinking-hall, and stoutly demanded Celg's hand from Aed, in presence of the general people.

    51. p.365

    52. ‘I will give thee,’ said Aed Rind,—‘single combat, I mean; and thou shalt not get the woman, Conan, son of the Dagda.’
    53. Find, that was noblest among the host, restrained them, that they should not dare to speak of it; so that neither of them remembered the matter, since words spoken in liquor are but folly.
    54. Ossin spent a year at Formael of the Fianna, going neither east nor west; this it was that kept him there, a pleasant quest, the love of Aed Rind's daughter.
    55. Ardently did Ossin reprove the hero Conan till his anger was strongly stirred in Conan Honey-mouth the songster.
    56. Said Ossin son of Find to him: ‘Fitter it were for thee to be angry with Aed Rind: he challenged thee in his house and denied thee the maiden.’
    57. Conan went (hard was the errand) and found Aed Rind in his dwelling, and demanded of him right of duel, or his daughter by sure promise.
    58. They came to where the Fianna were with Find himself at Garg-diad: Find gave them leave, as was custom, to fight a duel at the ford.
    59. Remur and Cael, who was not bent with age, the two sons of Medb and Ailill, were reared without blemish by the same woman as the valiant hero Conan.

    60. p.367

    61. They came from the Sid of Fair Women, in the shape of two birds, from place to place; they swam the river—a merry meeting! from their swimming Snam Da En is named.
    62. Against Aed, in shape of two hounds, came Remur and Cael, and sought to perplex him, while Conan was hewing hard at him.
    63. It was no single combat for Aed, against Remur and Cael and Conan: they fell, all four—that was the lively conflict.
    64. Conan and Aed Rind of the races were buried at Gargdiad, by Ath Cind Gargden, free from danger, westward between the ford and Snam Da En.