Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Death-Tales of the Ulster Heroes (Author: unknown)

Tale 5

Version D

Incipit of the tragic death of Conchobar son of Ness here below.

¶1] At the Ford of Daire Dá Báeth, Cet mac Mágach threw the stone at Conchobar, viz., the brain of Mesgegra, king of Leinster. Fingen, the wizard-leech of Conchobar, 'tis he who would not let the stone be taken out of his head. Muma, however, the artificer, 'tis he who put a cover around it outside his head. Bachrach, a Leinster poet, told Conchobar that Christ had been crucified. In Mag Lamraige he told it to him. 'Tis there Conchobar fell in clearing the plain. Seventy-three feet was his length. Fifty feet, however, was the length of Tadg mac Céin, ut dixit poeta, i.e. Flann Mainistrech:—19

    1. Fifty feet, with abundance of delights, among hosts of strong-bridled distinguished men,
      was the length of the high-king in whom honour was conspicuous, of Tadg mac Céin, from whom are the Cianacht.
    2. Conchobar, famous was his guile, Ness' celebrated son of ruddy beauty,
      high-king of Ulster—he deserved it—by whom the slope of Lámraige was cut down.
      In his grave
      20 he found seventy-three feet.

¶2] Of that stone which ruined Conchobar the poet21 has sung:—22

    1. O stone yonder upon the cold tomb of ever-famous Buite, the blessed son of Brónach,
      thou wast a diadem in battles of pursuit while thou wast in the head of the noble son of Ness.
    2. Though thou wast an enemy to him, he hid thee, he nourished thee for seven full years:
      when he went to avenge the King of laws, 'tis then was found his grave through thee.
    3. The hero whom thou didst hit victoriously thereafter found through thee a draught of poison:
      to the son of Cathbad—men wailed—thou didst deal a drink of a serpent's venom.

    4. p.21

    5. Venomous from the south Cet brought thee upon his back from the noble battle of Ailbe,
      the head of Emain's king thou hast wrecked thereby, brain of the youthful Mesgegra.
    6. From the brake,—all know it,—to the Ford at Daire Dá Báeth,
      Cet mac Mágach23 sent thee in violation of a bond from him for a cunning fight.
    7. He cleft with thee, the deed was great, the crown of the king's head, a kingdom of hostages,
      for 'tis he that was the best hero on whom wind and sun would shine.
    8. What was foretold thee all along,24 woe to the Leinsterman25 in whose company thou wast!
      thou never partedst from the noble26 d king until thou leftst him in a meeting with death.
    9. On the bare slope of Lámraige hosts of fair bands did homage to thee:
      thy struggle against thy comrade was rare, until thou fellest there out of his head.
    10. The King who has shaped Heaven has revealed thee to the son of Brónach above Bri Breg;
      in a strong fortress in which he slept, where there is a multitude of white angels.
    11. Since Bute with grace of fame has slept on thee without treachery,
      the hosts have eagerly27 humbled28 themselves to thee, until thou changedst colour, O stone!
    12. The brain of Mesgegra in the battle, it was a fight against demons of doomed men;
      ‘pillow of Bute,’ until Doom that shall be thy name with every one, O stone!