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

poem/story 29


  1. Pleasant is the theme that falls to my care, the lore not of one spot only, while my spirit sheds light eastward on the secret places of the world.
  2. How is it that none of you demands, if he seek to weave the web of knowledge, whence came at any time the name of Carn Mail in the eastern Plain of Ulaid?
  3. Lugaid Mal, great ruin he wrought, was exiled from Erin: with seven ship-loads sailed the prince from Erin to the land of Alba.
  4. He contended for the eastern lands, in combat and conflict, from Brittany to teeming Norway, from the Orkney isles to Spain.
  5. When he gained the right of proud kingship, he brought with him the hosts of his array till the harbours of Ulaid were filled with the grim warriors' barques.
  6. A challenge comes from Lugaid to the men of Fal demanding battle or tribute, to carry them into battle with him who was to be their overlord.

  7. p.137

  8. Then down he comes with speed to offer battle, even-matched; a stone for each fighter he brought to battle, with these was built Lugaid's Cairn.
  9. There stood Lugaid Mal, on the massy white-sided cairn, till he brake the great and famous fight against the goodly men of Erin.
  10. Lugaid received at Less Breg hostages from Gall and Gael: he was the king that reared the round cairn which stands above fair Mag Ulad.
  11. Seven sons had comely Daire, Lugaid was the honoured name of each: because of the prophecy—better so! one name served for all.
  12. Daire, fiery warrior, owned an enchanted fawn, shaped like a wild deer: four of them loosed their hounds after it, from old Tara north-westward.
  13. Swift fled the fawn before them as far as the stream by Sinann: the fawn fell a prey to the four noble striplings.
  14. The sons of Daire from Dun na n-Eicess cast lots gleefully, that each might know his share of the enchanted fawn, without quarrel.

  15. p.139

  16. To Lugaid Corb there fell the carving of the fawn, rough though he was; so from him is named the clan Dal Mess Corb in the region of Cualu.
  17. While each was busy with his share, Lugaid Cal fell asleep; so his offspring unsubdued are the Calraige of Connacht.
  18. Lugaid [Orc] brought a draught of water; fair he was yet not forspent: so his seed thenceforth is Corco Oirche in the confines of Cashel.
  19. Lugaid, Mac Con's great father, all Erin belonged to him alone: so from Lugaid Loeg onwards the clan of Corco Laigde has its name.
  20. When the men were in the house sitting over by the fireside, there entered a hag, a loathly offence; she was hideous, unsightly.
  21. Taller was she than a mast upright, bigger than a sleeping-hut her ear, blacker than any visage her form, a weight on every heart was the hag.
  22. Broader her row of teeth—what portends it?—than a board set with draughtsmen; her nose stood out far before her, it was longer than a ploughshare.
  23. Bigger than a basket full of sheaves was each fist of the misnatured woman: bigger than rough-hewn stone in rampart each of her black bony knees.

  24. p.141

  25. A paunchy belly she bore, I trow, without rib to the armpits: a scabby black crown with a crop of wens, like a furzy hillside, upon her.
  26. She set upon them in the strong house where sat the King of Erin's sons; dire the dazzlement she cast upon them from her eyes—alas the deed!
  27. A change fell on the nature of the tender youths before that obese lustful horror: sooner than look upon her they had chosen to be buried under earth alive.
  28. Their spirit and senses turned, with a throb sorer than stark combat: the sons of Daire gave themselves over to a death of shame.
  29. She addressed them with an evil saying: ‘One of you must sleep with me to-night, or I will devour you all, unaided, hound and strong man alike.’
  30. When he saw the danger plain, Lugaid Laigde spoke: ‘I will sleep with her—unwelcome task: enough for you to lose me only.’
  31. As the firelight fell dim, she changed to another wondrous shape: she took on a radiant form, beyond praise; rosy she grew, round-bosomed.

  32. p.143

  33. Such were her eyes (they were no tricks of cheating craft)—three shafts of sunlight in each of them: where her glance fell all was bright.
  34. Down slid the crimson mantle fair from her breasts untouched by age, till the flesh-worm might be crushed in the room by the light of her lovely body.
  35. Then the young man asked her, ‘Fair maiden, whence comest thou? name thy race, tell it now, speak to me, hide it not from me!’
  36. ‘I will tell thee, gentle youth; with me sleep the High Kings: I, the tall slender maiden, am the Kingship of Alba and Erin.’
  37. ‘To thee have I revealed myself this night, yet nothing more shall come of our meeting: the son thou shalt have, he it is that I shall sleep with—happier fate.’
  38. ‘I will tell thee thy son's name, lucky his lot; Lugaid shall his name be and Mac Con thereto: of him therefore I pronounce thus much: he shall be seer and prophet and poet.’
  39. Daire uttered a prophecy to them concerning Mac Con unreproached: ‘Mac Con shall win the ringing Hill of Brega, with Erin and pleasant Alba.’

  40. p.145