Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster (Author: [unknown])

section 37

Mellgleó Illiach.

Íliach was the son of Cas mac Baicc meic Rosa Rúaid meic Rudraige. He was told how the four great provinces of Ireland had been plundering and laying waste Ulster and Pictland from the Monday at the beginning of Samain until the beginning of spring, and he took counsel with his people. ‘What better plan could I devise than to go and attack the men of Ireland and win victory over them and avenge the honour of Ulster? It matters not if I myself fall thereafter’. And that was the plan he decided on. His two old, decrepit, mangy horses which were on the strand beside the fort were harnessed for him, and his old chariot whithout any rugs or covering was yoked to the horses. he took up his rough, dark-coloured, iron shield with the rim of hard silver around it. On his left side he put his rough, heavy-smiting sword with grey guard. He took his two gapped, shaky-headed spears in the chariot beside him. His people filled his chariot around him with stones and rocks and great flagstones. In this wise he came forward towards the men of Ireland with his private parts hanging through the chariot. ‘We should like indeed’ said the men of Ireland, ‘if it were thus that all the Ulstermen came to us’.

Dóche mac Mágach met him and welcomed him. ‘Welcome is your arrival, Íliach’ said Dóche mac Mágach. ‘I trust that


{line 3915-3984} welcome’ said Íliach, ‘but come to me presently when my weapons are exhausted and when my valour has diminished so that you may be the one to behead me and not any other man of the men of Ireland. But keep my sword for Láegaire’.

Íliach plied his weapons on the men of Ireland until he had exhausted them, and when his weapons were exhausted, he attacked the men of Ireland with stones and rocks and great flagstones until they too were exhausted, and when they were finished, wherever he could seize one of the men of Ireland, he would crush him swiftly between his arms and his hands and make a marrow-mash of him, flesh and bones, sinews and skin all together. And the two marrow-mashes still remain side by side, the one which Cú Chulainn made from the bones of the Ulstermen's cattle to cure Cethern mac Fintain and the one which Íliach made from the bones of the men of Ireland. So that all those who fell at the hands of Íliach are called one of the three uncountable slayings of the Táin, and that tale is called Mellgleo n-Íliach.

It was called Mellgleó n-Íliach because he fought his fight with stones and rocks and great flagstones.

Dóche mac Mágach met him. ‘Is not this Íliach?’ said Dóche. ‘It is I indeed’ said Íliach, ‘but come to me now and cut off my head and keep my sword for your friend Láegaire’. Dóche came to him and with a stroke of the sword cut off his head.

Thus far Mellgleó Ílliach.