Translated into English by Kuno Meyer
Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber
Funded by University College, Cork, School of History
1. First draft.
Extent of text: 2255 words
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: T302002
Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The electronic text covers pages 5054. The Irish original is available in a separate file, G302002.
Text has been checked and proof-read once.
The electronic text represents the edited text. Meyer's introduction is integrated into the Irish file. Selected editorial footnotes are integrated into the electronic edition.
Direct speech is marked q.
Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, this break is marked after completion of the hyphenated word.
div0=the whole text; p=the editor's paragraph; page-breaks are marked pb n="".
Names are not tagged, nor are terms for cultural and social roles.
This text uses the P element to represent the paragraph.
Created: English translation by Kuno Meyer (1903)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
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p.50However, he thought it a shame to kill him through jealousy. So he sent messengers to him, inviting him to come with him to visit a certain wilderness. And for two reasons he sent for him above every one else, for he wished to be shaved (the time of shaving having come), and to wreak and avenge his anger and jealousy upon him afterwards when he had been shaved. The hosts thought that a great disgrace, for they were sure that the fair son of Dichoim would not come back after having shaved the king, just as no one had ever come back.The youth went into the wilderness with the king, and there they found an empty house. We had better be shaved, said the king, since we are alone. I am capable of shaving you well, said the youth, and thereupon he shaves him. Is that head of mine good and stately after being newly shaved? asked the king. It is good indeed, said the youth, and may it be better and better! The king stretches out his hand for his sword to slay the youth. It is I who will take it, said the youth, and who will deal a blow at your head, you parricide, lest you commit parricide on any one else after me. From this day you shall leave your wife and your inheritance and your land and kingship, you big-eared foul-headed horse! Many hosts and multitudes shall behold your head when I have struck it off you! And the lad unsheathed the sword, and raised it above his head to bring it down upon the king and to kill him. May God's right hand intervene! said Eochaid. Not thus shall it be between us, boy! You shall share equally my rank with me, and you shall always shave me, so long as you will keep your secret of what you have seen of me. I will keep it, said the youth, and increase of friendship shall come from this event.So the two of them went home, and the hosts were joyful thereat. However, it was a sore trouble for the youth to keep his secret, so that he was thrown upon his bed in a wasting lingering illness and in a fever and leprosy and great misery, without strength and energy. One day, to seek healing and cure the youth went to the house of a certain seer-leech who was in Gensille. As he was crossing the moor in Gensille which is called Moin Coimthechta he fell upon his face, so that three streams of blood broke from his lips and nostrils, and thereby he was cured.On another day, at the end of a year, the host and Mac
p.52Dichoime went to the same place where he had fallen, and where he had vomited forth his secret, and he informs the host: Here, he said, was I cured, and vomited three streams of blood, and he uttered these quatrains:
Then the hosts saw three straight saplings, and knew not who...1 He let the host pass on before him, and stayed behind to make a circular enclosure about them, and when he had ended and finished his work he went after the host.After that a certain artist from the land of Munster came to seek Eochaid, a famous harper he was with poems of satire2. He happened to come along the road where the enclosure of the saplings was, and he and his company were looking at the saplings. Then said one sapling to another: Eochaid, the man of the shield, has two horse's ears. Three times they said that. That is a good strain for our harp, said the harper, and he spoke these verses:
- 1] Here was cured
2] The son of Dichoim
3] By vomiting forth his secret (a rough stream)
4] Regarding the terrible fierce Eochaid.
- 5] When I went to seek my cure,
6] After a year, I had kept a secret,
7] Which had thrown me into a wasting,
8] Into feebleness and into an evil state.
- 9] Streams of blood (I felt the better of it)
10] Poured forth over my lips, from my nose,
11] My God has ordained them to be trees.
12] So that they are now seen here.
- 1] The conversation of the saplings,
2] (We were not loth at the swift talking,)
3] Would make a strain for my harp
4] So that it would be a noble famous strain.
- 5] Eochaid, the man of the bounding shield,
6] Two horse's ears have cleaved to him,
7] That was the conversation of the healthy saplings,
8] The fruit of whispers and converse.
p.53Then the harper went to the house of the king, and was well received by him. He and his company were taken to the house where the king lay. Strike up! said Eochaid. Harp us something ingenious! That is our intention, said they. They begin to play to him, and what they played was: Eochaid, the man of the shield, has two horse's ears. Let light and a candle be brought into the house! cried the king. When the light and the candles and shining lamps had come, he said: Throw yourselves upon the chest of the harpers and bind them! And forthwith they were bound, and they continued in their fetters till the morning.On the morrow the host came. It were better, said the harpers, not to kill us till you know our guilt. Let every one go out! said Eochaid. Confess, said he, who it was from whom you obtained that strain. This is it, said they. The saplings which grew from the vomit of Mac Dichoime sang it to us. 'Tis true, said the king. It is difficult for men to keep close secrets, when even trees cannot keep one. Unbind the harpers! said he. He takes his helmet off his head: It is thus I am, ye men of Offaly! said he, and spoke these verses:
We shall not love and cherish you the less on that account, said the men of Offaly, and your sway and kingship over us shall not be less weak. The king gave the helmet to the harper in payment for the injury which he had suffered.
- 1] A helmet round my head, 'twas great toil,
2] To hide my blemish from every troop,
3] From this hour onwards
4] It shall not come to protect my ears.
- 5] O men of Offaly, behold this!
6] Eochaid's ears are two horse's ears!
7] Let no one hide in his house
8] That he has seen Eochaid's ears.
- 9] 'Tis a great task to keep anything secret.
10] Hard to do so after me,
11] After everybody whom it has killed,
12] It was a harsh command, it was rough.
- 13] No one shall be able to keep a secret now
14] After the son of Dichoim,
15] And after the story of the three trees
16] I shall not willingly put on a helmet.
p.54Then Mac Dichoime went to the saplings and made a double pipe from them. And afterwards he obtained the kingship after Eochaid, and though he had become king he did not part from his pipe.