Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
King Eochaid has horse's ears (Author: Unknown)

paragraph 9

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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
‘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.