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

poem/story 24


  1. Ailech Frigrenn, green-sward of the world's royal kings, fortress to which led roads horse-trodden, through five ramparts:
  2. Hill where the Dagda slept, red are its flowers, many its houses, few its plunderings, plumb its stones.

  3. p.109

  4. A lofty keep is Ailech Frigrenn, the hero's rath, a fort that fosters schools, lime-white house of granite.
  5. A lovely spot is Ailech Gabráin, green are its boughs, on its sod the Dagda, famed in song, found a dwelling for Aed.
  6. I tell to you the legend of Ailech's treasures: one of its houses would feed half the world.
  7. The reason why the name was found for Ailech with its stalls, if that is what ye seek, I know one with whom ye may find it.
  8. Eochaid Ollathair marched through all Erin: broader was his countenance than half a plain.
  9. The hero Eochaid's three sons, who knew no hour of jealousy, were Oengus, and Aed and Cermat of the battle squadrons.
  10. Corrgend son of Faitheman, a warrior among mankind, was Eochaid's soldier, that knit the ranks and knew no fear,
  11. A tall sprig of a lad from Mag Cruachan, with locks bright as gold, with agile grace, with a champion's temper, with the strength of nine.
  12. When the king of Erin addressed him with inveigling words Corrgenn came from Crúach Aigle to Túath Tuirbe.
  13. Tethra, whitely fair, was wife of Corrgenn slender of shape; there was none lovelier since the Flood in all Erin.
  14. When Tethra came to the banquet-hall at Tara, she bestowed the charm of her regard on Aed, though he was not present.

  15. p.111

  16. Corrgend went to visit his land—not sorry was Tethra: she gave her love in his absence, in a gust of desire, to Aed.
  17. Aed went in to Corrgenn's wife, on an errand unblest: woe for the reproach to Tethra's mate, leader of lucky troops.
  18. Then did Corrgenn, blood-stained chieftain, as requital, slay forthwith the boy that smirched his honour.
  19. After the deed Corrgenn went his way to western Connacht, though he found no shelter for his guilt when Aed was slain.
  20. Eochaid went seeking Corrgenn to Crích Umaill and with relentless pressure hemmed him in a narrow corner.
  21. Corrgenn is taken in his guilt, for all his bravery: the strong man in a fit of anguish became the Dagda's bondman.
  22. Then all cried ‘Let us hang Corrgenn, chief of warriors, if his clear bright cheek has shown haughtiness or pride.’
  23. ‘I will not do as ye say’, said the Dagda: ‘that which is not right and lawful may not be done by me.’
  24. ‘Life and honour are not due as the price of a life: this shall not turn aside the Dagda's face from the divine decree.’
  25. ‘Only he shall bear on his back the boy he killed till he find a stone of size to match him.’
  26. ‘Let the boy be laid on the back of Corrgenn of Cnoc na Taiden to signify hereafter his punishment at the hands of the stern king of the Gaels.’
  27. Aed was borne by Eochaid mighty in battle: no king before him bore to Tara such a load.

  28. p.113

  29. On Tara's hill the dead man was lifted on the warrior's back: he bore with him to the house of noble Nét the bright-faced stripling.
  30. Corrgenn took his way through the midst of Mag Senaig, and the brave wight reached at point of dawn the bright lough of Febal,
  31. (Febal mac Lotain, white of hand, soft of shoulder: a stone was cast up by the lough of length to cover the child.)
  32. When Corrgenn saw the stone of Febal, which he spied before him, he bore it with him by uttermost effort, an added burden.
  33. He declared verily to the Dagda, not gloomy of mien, ‘Here is the stone fetched forth, O warrior! ah stone of pride!’
  34. Said the Dagda himself, pure of countenance: ‘From the stone shall be the place's name’ (a saying in its homes).
  35. ‘Ailech shall this place be called throughout Banba, honoured above hills like the silent hill of Tara,’ said the Dagda's druid.
  36. Corrgenn fell under the rude stone's weight, his heart broke: the quicker was he laid in grave at foot of a tree.
  37. Hence is named Ailech, after Aed of the wind-swift horses, and after rough strong mangled Corrgenn of Crúach Aigle.
  38. Thereafter were brought two men of subtle art, Garbán and Imchell, to sorrowing fair-headed Eochaid.
  39. He bade them build a rath round the smooth slender folk to be a rath of goodly devices, the best in Erin.

  40. p.115

  41. Néit son of Indui, surly of temper, told them that the world's brave host would not build the better part of Ailech.
  42. Diligent Garbán was busy with masonry and carving, Imchell was busy keeping guard about the house.
  43. The building of Ailech's keep was ended, though a toilsome work; a single stone closed the apex of the house of perilous hostages.
  44. Néit son of Indui, the stranger, he of the long weapon, came and brought with him the winsome woman who dwelt in Brega: one like Nemain was never brought to the house of Ailech.
  45. Ailech Néit, from Neit son of Indui, was the name of the place, before another name was given to it; it was guarded by weapons.
  46. Ailech Frigrenn was a further name that it received afterward: no stronghold save Tara may be matched with Ailech.
  47. Frigriu came to the king of Scotland, the bright-haired: no craftsman so perfect as he poured red gold in the balance.
  48. Ubthaire of the unruly steed was the name of the high king of Scotland, whose long arm turned in wounds the deadly spear-shaft.
  49. The king had a daughter surpassing queens and ladies: Frigriu by sweet looks overbold won the favour of her converse.
  50. Ailech was the name of Ubthaire's daughter—she was wife of a noble, honourable and fresh of colour, till the Gael's love bewildered her.
  51. She went with him from the midst of Cantire to the Ulaid's land—a feat of noble women, for whom a contest of warriors was fought.

  52. p.117

  53. Ubthaire demanded his daughter by manly means or he would burn the house of Tara with half Banba to boot.
  54. Eochaid Doimlén, bright of face, replied that never till the day of doom should he carry off the girl by such means.
  55. The craftsman claimed protection from the king, even the king of Tara: he asked of him the Dagda's fort, or Medb's rampart.
  56. ‘Guard, O king’, said the princes to the king of Femen, ‘thine honour and thy face, and give Ailech to Ailech.’
  57. Then was Ailech rather than any home given to Ailech, to the curled pure-bright girl, bright-cheeked, passing proud.
  58. Hence the name Ailech Frigrenn (its origin is found) is given by every right to Ailech of the Dagda, dwelling of the Ulaid.
  59. The kingship of Erin, we tell in books, deserted Tara after it came to Ailech of dangerous Néit.
  60. The king of Fál found Ailech in a secret hour, and she was mother of stout-hearted Colla, of Druim in Domain.
  61. Oldest of the labours of Erin is Ailech Frigrenn: we will give it no greater praise than it deserves.
  62. Forty years but one, closely reckoned, the work of nimble hands belonged to the seed of the sons of Míl.
  63. Néit son of Indui, king of the north country, lord of horse-breeding peoples, was the first heathen by whom Obach was deserted for Ailech.
  64. Nine kings of one name, of Adam's race, sprang from Ailech, and Eochaid was the name of each, famed in dangers:

  65. p.119

  66. Eochaid Ollathair, first, who checked calamity; Eochaid Etgothach who met affliction—he was grim in combat;
  67. Eochaid Opthach, Eochaid Feidlech, man of sword-blades, and the king who gained his life outright, Eochaid Airem;
  68. Eochaid Buadach, Eochaid Mór, slayer of cattle, Eochaid Doimlén, noble temper well-proven, rallier of battle,
  69. Eochaid Muigmedón, son of the high king of Inis Senaig, a sea for offspring, undefeated in battle.
  70. Son to this man was Níall, who conquered the divided world: his fair slender loving mother was Cairenn the Pict.
  71. Great Níall's progeny are the princes of Ailech, of martial weapons, tall youths, white-fingered lads, a line of warriors.
  72. Eogan son of Níall, gifted from childhood with a soldier's strength, from whose countenance came increase of honour, fortunate lord of Febal:
  73. Fair-haired Indecht, daughter of the king of Monach, was mother of Eogan—Eogan with kingly nature, with a hero's will, with a lion's spirit.
  74. Cinel Eogain, nobler than the kindred of Tara, with fingers decked with many rings, with the beauty of their hair,
  75. They are the noblest array in Erin, the assembly of Ailech; they are the best that a retinue surrounds in their homes in the west.
  76. Seventeen High Kings from them, of the line of Eogan, ruled over Erin: their foreign levies would contend for their rights in the world.

  77. p.121

  78. By them are hostages taken from every land I traverse; through them all men are thriving in Erin.
  79. Cú Arad the learned has related to every auditor the legend difficult and dark of proud Ailech.
  80. Dercilus—a face alert in battle, masterful in his halls—was king of the world, followed by troops of horses, when by mighty Loch Febail was found the occasion of Ailech's name,
  81. Six hundred years and seventy, by ancient report, before the birth of Christ in a city of Juda, bright of hue, divine.
  82. Five thousand one hundred and forty years above the plains, with six years added thereto, passed in their houses yonder, till the golden poem of Ailech was recited by the host of Monach.
  83. Jesus Christ, Lord of every land and every sea, is the king to whom our song shall rise in his palace, an ornament of beauty.