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

poem 65

Ath Luain

  1. O thou that enterest the plain of Medb,
    thy lays shall be fully remembered;
    declare to the king of the rath, in my poor dwelling,
    the story of Ath Luain of the goodly champions!
  2. 5] Ath Luain, what is the haunch that lies buried there?
    whence comes the sure-clear name?
    it was called Ath Mor, free from the craven spirit of defeat,
    till it came by a change of appellation.
  3. A queen, strong in the prowess of a famous host,
    10] gained the sovereignty of strong Connaught,
    whose bitter name, spread far and wide,
    was Medb daughter of Eochu Fedlech.
  4. Mate to the noble maiden, I ween,
    was the son of Ross Ruad of Rairiu
    15] (it was an honoured name over crumbling Bairenn),
    Ailell son of Mata of Muresc.
  5. Three queens there were of fiery force
    who had right comely consorts;
    they had rights over a third of hearth and having:
    20] theirs were not unions of a moment.

  6. p.369

  7. Ailell, who was not unwise, was husband to Medb:
    Macha lorded over Cimbaeth in like fashion:
    Art, whose skill of spear was faultless,
    was husband to Medb Lethderg of Liamain.
  8. 25] They performed deeds of daring
    more than all the exalted kings:
    thus, by labours of a host, was built
    Emain, by Macha Mongruad.
  9. The feast of Tara, — sore was the strife,
    30] with plenty of feats and wonted riot, —
    was brought to impotent abasement
    by Medb of the Gaileoin, with her pure beauty.
  10. The noble daughter of Eochu Fedlech, ruler of Fal,
    Medb from cold inviolate Ednech,
    35] in truth the fence of death never closed upon
    a woman that was richer in store of lordly substance:
  11. Except for her being in want of the bull
    that belonged to the king of Macha wild with mead:
    even as her noble husband reproached her,
    40] the son of the king of Leinster, the warrior-prince.
  12. Medb (out of her own household she was fit for war)
    went raiding Cualnge of the hundreds,
    when she fared on a path of peril against a warrior,
    and bore off the wife of Conall Cernach.

  13. p.371

  14. 45] When they had plundered pleasant Cualnge
    by proud and pitiless doings
    they changed their goal, to entrap
    the bull of Daire son of Fiachru.
  15. The Dun Bull of Cualnge, — comely was the splendid brute —
    50] was in the Heifer's Glen:
    round him they drew a ring of reavers,
    and made the Cattle-Raid to catch him.
  16. The people of Banba suffered hurt through the comely hero,
    whose home was death and savagery:
    55] he bound them in galling chains
    for the space of three winter months.
  17. To many a band, to many a hundred of harmless people,
    the host of Cruachan, eminent in fame,
    brought death and dismay
    60] by wide-spread sorrow for all afflictions.
  18. After Candlemas (rough was their herding)
    came the unvanquished bull
    to Cnoc Tarbga, dense resort of the people:
    it was a dwelling of dread for many a man.
  19. 65] They made a proudly-matched pair,
    the Dun Bull of Cualnge and the White-Horn,
    before the eyes of a host (a wealthy dwelling)
    about the rough-flanked hill of Tarbga.

  20. p.373

  21. They fought a fierce combat on miry ground
    70] on the seventh day of spring:
    and the White-Horn fell therein
    by the wild-wood bull of Sliab Fuait.
  22. Hence is named Tarbga in the north,
    in a martial land excelling in kine,
    75] from the battle of the beasts (pleasant path),
    about which there were conflicts, noble sir!
  23. The Dun Bull scattered his bones and his body;
    he bore each limb to a famous spot;
    he carried with him to Ath Mor, where they abide,
    80] his chine and his thigh.
  24. The noble name clung to it perpetually
    thenceforth, — Ath Luain of the vessels:
    though if was once Ath Mor, with no soft and kindly beauty,
    the chine gave it a new name, valiant sir!
  25. 85] The White Bull's hoof through treacherous crime
    is at Lough Dige (Dige was a noble chief):
    his two ribs — a brilliant exploit,
    the mighty Dun Bull bore to Mucfind.
  26. He bore his heart to Dun Cromm:
    90] a fortress against frenzy was the great Dun Bull:
    he strode with his haunch afar
    to the noble tribe of Asal Abrat.
  27. He carried his buttock across his back, across his mane,
    to Inis Glas of the bridles: —
    95] (they were wonders for a blind man almost to see) —
    he carried his cheek to Lecan.

  28. p.375

  29. These are the famous fragments
    left by the vast Dun Bull, of fierce Emain
    of the White Bull of Cruachan with the spreading horns,
    100] who was torn in fragments.
  30. On every spot where he bore a piece of him
    abides its name thenceforward:
    till the day of Doom it enjoys fair fame
    beyond the haven of any ford, excellent sir!
  31. 105] O sinless Christ, love thou me
    for the sake of Mary thy mother!
    O King of this people that goeth toward death
    thou art more exalted than any man!

  32. p.377