The Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh
The Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh
The Tuatha De Danann lived in the northern
isles of the world, learning lore and magic and druidism and wizardry and cunning, until they surpassed the sages of the arts
of heathendom. There were four cities in which they learned lore and science and diabolic arts, to wit Falias and Gorias,
Murias and Findias. Out of Falias was brought the Stone of Fal, which was in Tara. It used to roar under every king that would
take the realm of Ireland. Out of Gorias was brought the Spear that Lug had. No battle was ever won against it or him who
held it in his hand. Out of Findias was brought the Sword of Nuada. When it was drawn from its deadly sheath, no one ever
escaped from it, and it was irresistible. Out of Murias was brought the Dagda's Cauldron. No company ever went from it unthankful.
Four wizards in those four cities. Morfesa was in Falias: Esras was in Gorias: Uscias was in Findias: Semias was in Murias.
Those are the four poets of whom the Tuatha De learnt lore and science.
Now the Tuatha De Danann made an alliance with
the Fomorians, and Balor grandson of Net gave his daughter Ethne to Cian son of Diancecht, and she brought forth the gifted
child, Lug. The Tuatha De came with a great fleet to Ireland to take it from the Fir Bolg. They burnt their ships at once
on reaching the district of Corcu Belgatan (Connemara today), so that they should not think of retreating to them; and the
smoke and the mist that came from the vessels filled the neighboring land and air. Therefore it was conceived that they had
arrived in clouds of mist. The first battle of Moytura was fought between them and the Fir Bolg; and the Fir Bolg were routed
and a hundred thousand of them were slain, including their king Eochaid son of Ere.
In that battle, moreover, Nuada's hand
was stricken off -- it was Sreng son of Sengann that struck it off him, so Diancecht the leech put on him a hand of silver
with the motion of every hand; and Credne the brazier helped the leech.
Now the Tuatha De Danann lost many men in the battle
including Edleo son of Alla, and Ernmas and Fiachra and Turil Bicreo.
But such of the Fir Bolg as escaped from the battle
went in flight to the Fomorians, and settled in Arran and in Islay and in Mann and Rathlin.
A contention as to the sovereignty
of the men of Ireland arose between the Tuatha De Danann and their women; because Nuada, after his hand has been stricken
off, was disqualified to be king. They said that it would be fitter for them to bestow the kingdom on Bres son of Elotha,
on their own adopted son; and that giving the kingdom to him would bind the alliance of the Fomorians to them. For his father,
Elotha son of Delbaeth, was king of the Fomorians.
Now the conception of Bres came to pass in this way:
daughter, a woman of the Tuatha De Danann, was one day looking at the sea and the land from the house of Maeth Sceni, and
she beheld the sea in perfect calm as if it were a level board. And as she was there she saw a vessel of silver on the sea.
Its size she deemed great, but its shape was not clear to her. And the stream of the wave bore it to land. Then she saw that
in it was a man of fairest form. Golden-yellow hair was on him as far as his two shoulders. A mantle with bands of golden
thread was around him. His shirt had trimmings of golden thread. On his breast was a brooch of gold, with the sheen of a precious
stone therein. He carried two white silver spears and in them two smooth riveted shafts of bronze. Five circlets of gold adorned
his neck, and he was girded with a golden-hilted sword with inlays of silver and studs of gold.
The man said to her:" Is
this the time that our lying with thee will be easy?"
"I have not made a tryst with thee, verily," said the woman.
they stretched themselves down together. The woman wept when the man would rise.
"Why weepest thou?" said he.
two things for which I should lament," said the woman. "Parting from thee now that we have met. And the fair youths of the
Tuatha De Danann have been entreating me in vain, and my desire is for thee since thou hast possessed me."
from these two things shall be taken away," said he. He drew his golden ring from his middle-finger, and put it into her hand,
and told her that she should not part with it, by sale or by gift, save to one whose finger it should fit.
"I have another
sorrow," said the woman. "I know not who hath come to me."
"Thou shall not be ignorant of that," said he. "Elotha son of
Delbaeth, king of the Fomorians, hath come to thee. And of our meeting thou shalt bear a son, and no name shall be given him
save Eochaid Bres, that is Eochaid the beautiful; for every beautiful thing that is seen in Ireland, whether plain or fortress
or ale or torch or woman or man or steed, will be judged in comparison with that boy, so that man say of it then "it is a
After that the man went back again by the way he had come, and the woman went to her house, and to her was given
the famous conception.
She brought forth the boy, and he was named, as Elotha had said, Eochaid Bres. When a week after
the woman's lying-in was complete the boy had a fortnight's growth; and he maintained that increase till the end of his first
seven years when he reached a growth of fourteen years. Because of the contest which took place among the Tuatha De Danann
the sovereignty of Ireland was given to the boy; and he gave seven hostages to Ireland's champions, that is, to her chiefs,
to guarantee the restoring of the sovereignty if his own misdeeds should give cause. His mother afterwards bestowed land upon
him, and on the land he had a stronghold built, called Dun Bresse; and it was the Dagda that built that fortress.
Bres had assumed the kingship, the Fomorians, --Indech son of Dea Domnann, and Elotha son of Delbaeth, and Tethra, three Fomorian
kings, laid tribute upon Ireland so that there was not a smoke from a roof in Ireland that was not under tribute to them.
The champions were also reduced to their service; to wit, Ogma had to carry a bundle of firewood, and the Dagda became a rath
builder, and had to dig the trenches about Rath Bresse.
The Dagda became weary of the work, and he used to meet in the
house an idle blind man named Cridenbel, whose mouth was out of his breast. Cridenbel thought his own ration small and the
Dagda's large. Whereupon he said: "O Dagda! Of thy honor let the three best bits of thy ration be given to me!" So the Dagda
used to give them to him every night. Large, however, were the lampooner's bits the size of a good pig. But those three bits
were a third of the Dagda's ration. The Dagda's health was the worse for that.
One day, then, as the Dagda was in the trench
digging a rath, he saw the Mac Oc coming to him. "That is good, O Dagda," says the Mac Oc.
"Even so," said the Dagda.
makes thee look so ill?" said the Mac Oc.
"I have cause for it," said the Dagda, "every evening Cridenbel the lampooner
demands the three best bits of my portion."
"I have counsel for thee," said the Mac Oc. He put his hand into his purse,
took out three crowns of gold, and gave them to him.
"Put these three gold pieces into the three bits which thou givest
at close of day to Crindenbel," said the Mac Oc. "These bits will then be the goodliest on thy dish; and the gold will turn
in his belly so that he will die thereof, and the judgment of Bres thereon will be wrong. Men will say to the king; "The Dagda
has killed Cridenbel by means of a deadly herb which he gave him." Then the king will order thee to be slain. But thou shalt
say to him: "What thou utterest, O king of the warriors of the Fene, is not a prince's truth. For I was watched by Cridenbel
when I was at my work, and he used to say to me "Give me, O Dagda, the three best bits of thy portion. Bad is my housekeeping
tonight". So I should have perished thereby had not the three gold coins which I found today helped me. I put them in my ration.
I then gave it to Cridenbel, for the gold was the best thing that was before me. Hence, then, the gold is inside Cridenbel,
and he died of it." The Dagda followed this advice, and was called before the king.
"It is clear", said the king. "Let
the lampooner's belly be cut open to know if the gold be found therein. If it be not found, thou shalt die. If, however, it
be found, thou shalt have life."
After that they cut open the lampooner's belly, and the three coins of gold were found
in his stomach, so the Dagda was saved. Then the Dagda went to his work on the following morning, and to him came the Mac
Oc and said: " Thou wilt soon finish thy work, but thou shalt not seek reward till the cattle of Ireland are brought to thee,
and of them choose a heifer black-maned."
Thereafter the Dagda brought his work to an end, and Bres asked him what he would
take as a reward for his labor. The Dagda answered: " I charge thee," said he, "to gather the cattle of Ireland into one place."
The king did this as the Dagda asked, and the Dagda chose of them the heifer which Mac Oc had told him to choose. That seemed
weakness to Bres: he thought that the Dagda would have chosen somewhat more.
Now Nuada was in his sickness, and Diancecht
put on him a hand of silver with the motion of every hand therein. That seemed evil to his son Miach. Miach went to the hand
which had been replaced by Diancecht, and he said "joint to joint of it and sinew to sinew," and he healed Nuada in thrice
three days and nights. The first seventy-tow hours he put it against his side, and it became covered with skin. The second
seventy-tow hours he put it on his breast ... that cure seemed evil to Diancecht. He flung a sword on the crown of his son's
head and cut the skin down to the flesh. The lad healed the wound by means of his skill. Diancecht smote him again and cut
the flesh till he reached the bone. The lad healed this by the same means. He struck him a third blow and came to the membrane
of his brain. The lad healed this also by the same means. Then he struck the fourth blow and cut out the brain so that Miach
died, and Diancecht said that the leech himself could not heal him of that blow.
Thereafter Miach was buried by Diancecht
and herbs three hundred and sixty-five, according to the number of his joints and sinews, grew through the grave. Then Airmed
opened her mantle and separated those herbs according to their properties. But Diancecht came to her, and he confused the
herbs, so that no one knows their proper cures unless the Holy Spirit should teach them afterwards. And Diancecht said "If
Miach be not, Airmed shall remain."
So Bres held the sovereignty as it had been conferred upon him. But the chiefs of the
Tuatha De murmured greatly against him, for their knives were not greased by him, and however often they visited him their
breaths did not smell of ale. Moreover, they saw not their poets nor their bards nor their lampooners nor their harpers nor
their pipers nor their jugglers nor their fools amusing them in the household. They did not go to the contexts of their athletes.
They saw not their champions proving their prowess at the king's court, save only one man, Ogma son of Ethliu. This was the
duty which he had, to bring fuel to the fortress. He used to carry a bundle every day from Clew Bay islands. And because he
was weak from want of food, the sea would sweep away from him two thirds of his bundle. So he could only carry one third,
and yet he had to supply the host from day to day. Neither service nor taxes were paid by the tribes, and the treasures of
the tribe were not delivered by the act of the whole tribe.
Once upon a time there came a-guesting to Bres' house, Cairbre
son of Etain, poet of the Tuatha De. He entered a cabin narrow, black, dark, wherein there was neither fire nor furniture
nor bed. Three small cakes, and they dry, were brought to him on a little dish. On the morrow he arose and he was not thankful.
As he went across the enclosure, he said:
Without food quickly on a dish:
a cow's milk whereon a calf grows;
Without a man's abode in the gloom of night:
Without paying a company of story-tellers,
let that be Bres' condition.
Let there be no increase in Bres.
Now that was true. Naught save decay was
on Bres from that hour. That is the first satire that was ever made in Ireland.
Now after that the Tuatha De Danann went
together to have speech with their fosterson, Bres son of Elotha, and demanded of him their sureties. He gave them the restitution
of the realm, and he was not well pleased with them for that. He begged to be allowed to remain till the end of seven years.
"That shall be granted," said the same assembly; "but thou shalt remain on the same security. Every fruit that comes to thy
hand, both house and land and gold and silver, cows and food, and freedom from rent and taxes until then"
"Ye shall have
as ye say," said Bres.
This is why they were asked for the delay: that he might gather the champions of the fairy-mound,
the Fomorians, to seize the tribes by force. Grievous to him seemed his expulsion from his kingdom.
Then he went to his
mother and asked her whence was his race. "I am certain of that," said she and she went on to the hill hence she had seen
the vessel of silver in the sea. She then went down to the strand, and gave him the ring which had been left with her for
him, and he put I round his middle-finger and it fitted him. For the sake of no one had she formerly given it up, either by
sale or gift. Until that day there was none whom it suited.
Then they went forward till they reached the land of the Fomorians.
They came to a great plain with many assemblies therein. They advanced to the fairest of these assemblies. Tidings were demanded
of them there. They replied that they were of the men of Ireland. They were then asked whether they had hounds; for at that
time it was the custom, when a body of men went to an assembly, to challenge them to a friendly contest. " We have hounds,"
said Bres. Then the hounds had a coursing-match, and the hounds of the Tuatha De Danann were swifter than the hounds of the
Fomorians. Then they were asked whether they had steeds for a horse-race. They answered, "We have"; and their steeds were
swifter than the steeds oaf the Fomorians. They were then asked whether they had any one who was good at sword-play. None
was found save Bres alone. So when he set his hand to the sword, his father recognized the ring on his finger and inquired
who was the hero. His mother answered on his behalf and told the king that Bres was a son of his. Then she related to him
the whole story even as we have recounted it.
His father was sorrowful over him. Said the father: "What need has brought
thee out of the land wherein thou didst rule?"
Bres replied: "Nothing has brought me save my own injustice and arrogance.
I stript them of their jewels and treasures and their own food. Neither tribute nor taxes had been taken from them up to that
"That is bad," said the father. "Better were their prosperity than their kingship. Better their prayers than their
curses. Why hast thou come hither?"
"I have come to ask you for champions," said he. "I would take that land by force."
shouldst not gain it by injustice if thou didst not gain it by justice," said the father.
"Then what counsel hast thou
for me?" said Bres.
Thereafter he sent Bres to the champion, to Balor grandson of Net, the king of the Isles, and to Indech
son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians; and these assembled all the troops from Lochlann westwards unto Ireland, to
impose their tribute and their rule by force on the Tuatha De, so that they made one bridge of vessels from the Foreigner's
Isles to Erin. Never came to Ireland an army more horrible or fearful than that host of the Fomorians. Men from Scythia of
Lochlann and men out of the Western Isles were rivals in that expedition.
Now as to the Tuatha De Danann, this is what
they were doing. After Bres, Nuada was again in sovereignty over the Tuatha De Danann. At that time he held a mighty feast
at Tara for them. Now there was a certain warrior on his way to Tara, whose name was Lug Samildanach. And there were then
two doorkeepers at Tara, namely Gamal son of Figal and Camaall son of Riagall. When one of these was on duty he saw a strange
company coming towards him. A young warrior fair and shapely, with a king's trappings, was in the forefront of that band.
They told the doorkeeper to announce their arrival at Tara. The doorkeeper asked: "Who is there?"
"Here there is Lug Lamfada
(Lugh Long-Arm) son of Cian son of Diancecht and of Ethne daughter of Balor. Fosterson, he, of Tailltiu daughter of Magmor
king of Spain and of Eochaid the Rough son of Duach."
The doorkeeper asked of Lug Samildanach: "What art dost thou practice?"
Said he; "for no one without an art enters Tara."
"Question me," said he; "I am a wright."
The doorkeeper answered:
"We need thee not. We have a wright already, even Luchta son of Luachaid."
He said: "Question me, O doorkeeper! I am a
The doorkeeper answered him: "We have a smith already, Colum Cualleineach of the three new processes."
"Question me: I am a champion."
The doorkeeper answered: We need thee not. We have a champion already, Ogma son of Ethliu."
said again: "Question me: I am a harper."
"We need thee not. We have a harper already, Abcan son of Bicelmos whom the Tuatha
De Danann chose in the fairy mounds."
Said he: "Question me: I am a hero."
The doorkeeper answered: "We need thee not.
We have a hero already, even Bresal Etarlam son of Eochaid Baethlam."
Then he said: "Question me, O doorkeeper! I am a
poet and I am a historian."
"We need thee not. We have already a poet and historian, even En son of Ethaman."
"Question me: I am a sorcerer."
"We need thee not. We have sorcerers already. Many are our wizards and our folk of might."
said: "Question me: I am a leech."
"We need thee not. We have for a leech Diancecht."
"Question me," said he: "I am
"We need thee not. We have cupbearers already, even Delt and Drucht and Daithe, Tae and Talom and Trog, Glei
and Glan and Glesi."
He said: "Question me: I am a good brazier."
"We need thee not. We have a brazier already, Credne
He said again, "Ask the king." Said he, "whether he has a single man who possesses all these arts, and if he has
I will not enter Tara."
Then the doorkeeper went into the palace and declared all to the king. "A warrior has come before
the enclosure," said he. "His name is Samildanach (many-gifted), and all the arts which thy household practice he himself
possesses, so that he is the man of each and every art."
The king said then that the chess-boards of Tara should be taken
to Samildanach, and he won all the stakes, so that then he made the Cro of Lug.
Then that was related to Nuada. "Let him
into the enclosure," says he; "for never before has man like him entered this fortress."
Then the doorkeeper let Lug pass
him, and he entered the fortress and sat down in the sage's seat, for he was a sage in every art.
Then the great flag-stone,
to move which required the effort of four-score yoke of oxen, Ogma hurled through the house, so that it lay on the outside
of Tara. This was a challenge to Lug. But Lug cast it back, so that it lay in the center of the palace and made it whole.
a harp be played for us," said the company. So the warrior played a sleep-strain for the hosts and for the king the first
night. He cast them into sleep from that hour to the same time on the following day. He played a wail-strain, so that they
were crying and lamenting. He played a laugh-strain, so that they were in merriment and joyance.
Now Nuada, when he beheld
the warrior's many powers, considered whether Samildanach could put away from the bondage which they suffered from the Fomorians.
So they held a council concerning the warrior. The decision to which Nuada came was to change seats with the warrior. So Samildanach
went to the king's seat, and the king rose up before him till thirteen days had ended. Then on the morrow he met with the
two brothers, Dagda and Ogma, on Grellach Dollaid. And his brothers Goibniu and Diancecht were summoned to them. A full year
were they in that secret converse, wherefore Grellach Dollaid is called Amrun of the Tuatha De Danann.
Thereafter the wizards
of Ireland were summoned to them, and their medical men and charioteers and smiths and farmers and lawyers. They held speech
with them in secret. Then Nuada inquired of the sorcerer whose name was Mathgen what power he could wield? He answered that
through his contrivance he would cast the mountains of Ireland on the Fomorians, and roll their summits against the ground.
And he declared to them that the twelve chief mountains of the land of Erin would support the Tuatha De Danann, in battling
for them, to wit, Sliab League, and Denna Ulad and the Mourne Mountains, and Bri Ruri and Sliab Bladma and Sliab Snechtai,
Sliab Mis and Blisliab and Nevin and Sliab Maccu Belgadan and Segals and Cruachan Aigle.
Then he asked the cupbearer what power
he could yield. He answered that he would bring the twelve chief lochs of Ireland before the Fomorians, and that they would
not find water therein, whatever thirst might seize them. These are those lochs: Dergloch, Loch Luimnigh, Loch Corrib, Loch
Ree, Loch Mask, Strangford Loch, Belfast Loch, Loch Neagh, Loch Foyle, Loch Gara, Loch Reag, Marloch. They would betake themselves
to the twelve chief rivers of Ireland- Bush, Boyne, Baa, Nem, Lee, Shannon, Moy, Sligo, Erne, Finn, Liffey, Sui; and they
will all be hidden from the Fomorians, so that they will not find a drop therein. Drink shall be provided for the men of Ireland,
though they bide in the battle to the end of seven years.
Then said Figol son of Matmos, their druid: "I will cause three
showers of fire to pour on the faces of the Fomorian host, and I will take out of them two thirds of their valor and their
bravery and their strength, and I will bind their urine in their own bodies and in the bodies of their horses. Every breath
that the men of Ireland shall exhale will be an increase in valor and bravery and strength to them. Though they bide in the
battle till the end of seven years, they will not be weary in any wise."
Said the Dagda: "The power such ye boast I shall
wield it all by myself" "It is thou art the Dagda (good hand), with everyone". Then they separated from the council, agreeing
to meet again that day three years.
Now when the provision of the battle had been settled, Lug and Dagda and Ogma went
to the three Gods of Danu, and these gave Lug the plan of the battle; and for seven years they were preparing for it and making
The Dagda had a house in Glenn Etin in the north, and he had to meet a woman in Glenn Etin a year from that
day, about Samain (Hallowe'en) before the battle. The river Unis of Connacht roars to the south of it. He beheld the woman
in Unius in Corann, washing herself, with one of her two feet at Allod Echae (Echumech) , to the south of the water, and the
other at Loscuinn, to the north of the water. Nine loosened tresses were on her head. The Dagda, conversed with her, and they
made a union. "The bed of the Couple" is the name of the place thenceforward. The woman that is here mentioned is the Morrigu.
Then she told the Dagda that the Fomorians would land at Mag Scetne, and that he should summon Erin's men of art to meet her
at the Ford of Unius, and that she would go into Scetne to destroy Indech son of Dea Domnann, the king of the Fomorians and
would deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor. Afterwards she gave two handfuls of that blood to
the hosts that were waiting at the Ford of Unius. "Ford of Destruction" became its name, because of that destruction of the
king. Then that was done by the wizards, and they chanted spells on the hosts of the Fomorians.
This was a week before
Samain, and each of them separated from the other until all the men of Ireland came together on Samain. Six times thirty hundred
was their number, that is, twice thirty hundred in every third.
Then Lug sent the Dagda to spy out the Fomorians and to
delay them until the men of Ireland should come to the battle. So the Dagda went to the camp of the Fomorians and asked them
for a truce of battle. This was granted to him as he asked. Porridge was then made for him by the Fomorians, and this was
done to mock him, for great was his love for porridge. They filled for him the king's cauldron, five fists deep, into which
went four-scored gallons of new milk and the like quantity of meal and fat. Goats and sheep and swine were put into it, and
they were all boiled together with the porridge. The were spilt for him into a hole in the ground, and Indech told him that
he would be put to death unless he consumed it all; he should eat his fill so that he might not reproach the Fomorians with
Then the Dagda took his ladle, and it was big enough for a man and woman to lie on the middle of it. These
then were the bits that were in it, halves of salted swine and a quarter of lard. "Good food this," said the Dagda.
the end of the meal he put his curved finger over the bottom of the hole on mold and gravel. Sleep came upon him then after
eating his porridge. Bigger than a house-cauldron was his belly, and the Fomorians laughed at it. Then he went away from them
to the strand of Eba. Not easy was it for the hero to move along owing to the bigness of his belly. Unseemly was his apparel.
A cape to the hollow of his two elbows. A dun tunic around him, as far as the swelling of his rump. It was moreover, long
breasted, with a hole in the peak. Two brogues on him of horse-hide, with the hair outside. Behind him a wheeled fork to carry
which required the effort of eight men, so that its track after him was enough for the boundary-ditch of a province. Wherefore
it is called "The Track of the Dagda's Club"
Then the Fomorians marched till they reached Scente. The men of Ireland were
in Mag Aurfolaig. These two hosts were threatening battle. "The men of Ireland venture to offer battle to us." Sais Bres son
of Elotha to Indech son of Dea Domnann. "I will fight anon," said Indech, "so that their bones will be small unless they pay
Because of Lug's knowledge the men of Ireland had made a resolution not to let him go into battle. So
his nine fosterers were left to protect him, Tollus-dam and Ech-dam and Eru, Rechtaid the White and Fosad and Fedlimid, Ibor
and Sclbar and Minn. They feared an early death for the hero owing to the multitude of his arts. Therefore they did not let
him forth to the fight.
The chiefs of the Tuatha De Danann were gathered round Lug. And he asked his smith, Goibniu, what
power he wielded for them? "Not hard to tell," said he. "Though the men of Erin bide in the battle to the end of seven years,
for every spear that parts from its shaft, or sword that shall break therein, I will provide a new weapon in its place. No
spear-point which my hand shall forge," said he, "shall make a missing cast. No skin which it pierces shall taste life afterwards.
That has not been done by Dolb the smith of the Fomorians."
"And thou, O Diancecht," said Lug, "what power canst thou wield?"
hard to tell," said he. "Every man who shall be wounded there, unless his head be cut off, or the membrane of his brain or
his spinal marrow be severed, I will make quite whole in the battle on the morrow."
"And thou, O Credne," said Lug to his
brazier, "what is thy power in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Credne. "Rivets for their spears and hilts for their
swords, and bosses and rims for their shields, I will supply them all."
"And thou, O Luchta," said Lug to his wright, "what
service wilt thou render in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Luchta. "All the shields and javelin-shafts they require,
I will supply them all."
"And thou, O Ogma," said Lug to his champion, "what is thy power in the battle?"
to tell," said he. "I will repel the king and three enneads of his friends, and capture up to a third of his men."
ye, O sorcerers," said Lug, "what power will you wield?"
"Not hard to tell," said the sorcerers. "We shall fill them with
fear when they have been overthrown by our craft, till their heroes are slain, and deprive them of two thirds of their might,
with constraint on their urine."
"And ye, O cupbearers," said Lug, "what power?"
"Not hard to tell, "said the cupbearers.
"We will bring a strong thirst upon them, and they shall not find drink to quench it."
"And ye, O druids," said Lug, "what
"Not hard to tell," said the druids. " We will bring showers of fire on the faces of the Fomorians, so that they
cannot look upwards, and so that the warriors who are contending with them may slay them by their might."
"And thou, O
Cairbre son of Etain," said Lug to his poet, "what power canst thou wield in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Cairbre.
"I will make a satire on them. And I will satirize them and shame them, so that through the spell of my art they will not
"And ye, O Be-cuile and O Dianann," said Lug to his two witches, "what power can ye wield in the battle?"
hard to tell," said they. "We will enchant the trees and the stones and the sods of the earth, so that they shall become a
host under arms against them, and shall rout them in flight with horror and trembling."
"And thou, O Dagda," said Lug,
"what power canst thou wield on the Fomorian host in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said the Dagda. "I will take the
side of the men of Erin both in mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Under my club the bones of the Fomorians will
be as many as hailstones under the feet of herds of horses where you meet on the battlefield of Moytura."
So thus Lug spoke
with every one of them in turn; and he strengthened and addressed his army, so that each man of them had the spirit of a king
or a mighty lord. Now everyday a battle was fought between the tribe of the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danann, save only
that kings or princes were not delivering it, but only keen and haughty folk.
Now the Fomorians marveled at a certain thing
which was revealed to them in the battle. Their spears and their swords were blunted and broken and such of their men as were
slain did not return on the morrow. But it was not so with the Tuatha De Danann. For though their weapons were blunted and
broken today, they were renewed on the morrow, because Goibniu the smith was in the forge making swords and spears and javelins.
For he would make those weapons by three turns. Then Luchta the wright would make the spear-shafts by three chippings, and
the third chipping was a finish and would set them in the ring of the spear. When the spearheads were stuck in the side of
the forge he would throw the rings with the shafts and it was needless to set them again. Then Credne the brazier would make
the rivets by three turns, and would cast the rings of the spears to them. And thus they used to cleave together.
then is what used to put fire into the warriors who were slain, so that they were swifter on the morrow. Because Diancecht
and his two sons, Octriull and Miach, and his daughter Airmed sang spells over the well named Slane. Now their mortally wounded
men were cast into it as soon as they were slain. They were alive when they came out. Their mortally wounded became whole
through the might of the incantation of the four leeches who were about the well. Now that was harmful to the Fomorians, so
they sent a man of them to spy out the battle and the actions of the Tuatha De Danann, namely Ruadan son of Bres and of Brig
the Dagda's daughter. For he was a son and a grandson of the Tuatha De Danann. Then he related to the Fomorians the work of
the smith and the wright and the brazier and the four leeches who were around the well. He was sent again to kill one of the
artisans, that is Goibniu. From him he begged a spear, its rivets from the brazier and its shaft from the wright. So all was
given to him as he asked. There was a woman there grinding the weapons, Cron mother of Fianlug; she it is that ground Ruadan's
spear. Now the spear was given to Ruadan by a chief, wherefore the name "a chief's spear" is still given to weaver's beams
Now after the spear had been given to him, Ruadan turned and wounded Goibniu. But he plucked out the spear and
cast it at Ruadan, so that it went through him, and he died in the presence of his father in the assembly of the Fomorians.
The Brig came and bewailed her son. She shrieked at first, she cried at last.
So that then for the first time crying and
shrieking were heard in Erin. Now it was that Brig who invented a whistle for signaling at night.
Then Goibniu went into
the well, and he became whole. There was a warrior with the Fomorians, Octriallach son of Indech son of Dea Domnann, son of
the Fomorian king. He told the Fomorians that each man of them should bring a stone of the stones of Drowes to cast into the
well of Slane in Achad Abla to the west of Moytura, to the east of Loch Arboch. So they went, and a stone for each man was
cast into the well. Wherefore the cairn thus made is called Octriallach's Carn. But another name for that well is Loch Luibe,
for Diancecht put into it one of every herb (lub) that grew in Erin.
Now that when the great battle came, the Fomorians
marched out of their camp, and formed themselves into strong battalions. Not a chief nor man of prowess of them was without
a hauberk against his skin, a helmet on his head, a broad spear in his right hand, a heavy sharp sword on his belt, a firm
shield on his shoulder. To attack the Fomorian host on that day was "striking a head against a cliff," was "a hand in a serpent's
nest," was "a face up to fire". These were the kings and chiefs that were heartening the host of the Fomorians, namely, Balor
son of Dot son of Net, Bres son of Elotha, Tuiri Tortbuillech son of Lobos, Gol and Irgol Loscennlomm son of Lommgluech, Indech
son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians, Octriallach son of Indech, Omna and Bagna, Elotha son of Delbaeth.
other side the Tuatha De Danann arose and left their nine comrades keeping Lug, and they marched to the battle. When the battle
began, Lug escaped from his guardians with his charioteer, so that it was he who was in front of the hosts of the Tuatha De
Danann. Then a keen and cruel battle was fought between the tribe of the Fomorians and the men of Ireland. Lug was heartening
the men of Ireland that they should fight the battle fervently, so that they should not be any longer in bondage. For it was
better for them to find death in protecting their fatherland than to bide under bondage and tribute as they had been.
hosts uttered a great shout as they entered the battle. Then they came together and each of them began to smite the other.
Many fine men fell there. Great the slaughter and the grave-lying that was there. Pride and shame were there side by side.
There was anger and indignation. Abundant was the stream of blood there over the white skin of young warriors mangled by the
hands of eager men. Harsh was the noise of the heroes and the champions mutually fending their spears and their shields and
their bodies when the others were smiting them with spears and with swords. Harsh, moreover, was the thunder that was there
throughout the battle, the shouting of the warriors and the clashing of the shields, the flashing and whistling of the glaives
and the ivory-hilted swords, the rattling and jingling of the quivers, the sound and winging of the darts and the javelins,
and the crashing of the weapons. The ends of their fingers and of their feet almost met in the mutual blows, and owing to
the slipperiness of the blood under the feet of the soldiers, they would fall from their upright posture and beat their heads
together as they sat. The battle was a gory, ghastly melee, and the river Unsenn rushed with corpses.
Then Nuada Silver-Hand
and Macha, daughter of Ernmass, fell by Balor grandson of Net. And Cassmael fell by Octriallach son of Indech. Lug and Balor
of the Piercing Eye met in the battle. An evil eye had Balor the Fomorian. That eye was never opened save only on a battlefield.
Four men used to lift up the lid of the eye with a polished handle which passed through its lid. If an army looked at the
eye, though they were many thousands in number they could not resist a few warriors. It had a poisonous power. Once when his
father's druids were concocting charms, he came and looked out of the window, and the fume of the concoction came under it,
so that the poison of the concoction afterwards penetrated the eye that looked. He and Lug met. "Lift up mine eyelid, my lad,"
said Balor, "that I may see the babbler who is conversing with me."
The lid was raised from Balor's eye. Then Lug cast
a sling-stone at him, which carried the eye through his head while his own army looked on. And the sling-stone fell on the
host of the Fomorians, and thrice nine of them died beside it, so that the crowns of their heads came against the breast of
Indech son of Dea Domnann, and a gush of blood sprang over his lips. Said Indech: "Let Loch Half-green my poet be summoned
to me!" Half-green was he from the ground to the crown of his head.
Loch went to the king. "Make known to me," said Indech,
"who has flung this cast on me."
Then the Morrigu, daughter of Ernmass, came, and heartened the Tuatha De Danann to fight
the battle fiercely and fervently. Thereafter the battle became a rout, and the Fomorians were beaten back to the sea. The
champion Ogma son of Ethliu, and Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians, fell in single combat. Loch Half-green
besought Lug for quarter. "Give me my three wishes," said Lug.
"Thou shalt have them," said Loch. "Till Doom I will ward
off from Ireland all plundering by the Fomorians, and, at the end of the world, every ailment." So Loch was spared. Then he
sang to the Gael the "decree of fastening."
Loch said that he would bestow names on Lug's nine chariots because of the
quarter that had been given him. So Lug told him to name them.
[At this point the original gives a list of the names of
the chariots, charioteers, and their equipment]
"What is the number of the slain?" said Lug to Loch.
"I know not the
number of peasants and rabble. As to the number of Fomorian lords and nobles and champions and kings sons and overkings I
know, even five thousand three score and three men: two thousand and three fifties: four score thousand and nine times five:
eight score and eight: four score and seven: four score and six: eight score and eight: four score and seven: four score and
six: eight score and five: tow and forty including Net's grandson. That is the number of the slain of the Fomorian overkings
and high nobles who fell in the battle. Howbeit, as to the number of peasants and common people and rabble, and folk of every
art besides who came in company with the great army- for every champion and every high chieftain and every overking of the
Fomorians came with his host to the battle, so that all fell there, both his freemen and his slaves- we reckon only a few
of the servants of the overkings. This then is the number that I have reckoned of these as I beheld: seven hundred, seven
score and seven men together with Sab Uanchennach son of Cairbre Cole, son was he of a servant of Indech son of Dea Domnann,
that is a son of a servant of the Fomorian king. As to what fell besides of "half men" and of those who reached not the heart
of the battle, these are in no wise numbered till we number stars of heaven , sand of sea, flakes of snow, dew on lawn, hailstones,
grass under feet of herds, and Manannan mac Lir's horses (waves) in a sea storm." Thereafter Lug and his comrades found Bres
son of Elotha unguarded. He said: "It is better to give me quarter than to slay me."
"What then will follow from that?"
"If I be spared," says Bres, "the cows of Erin will always be in milk."
"I will set this forth to our wise
men," said Lug.
So Lug went to Maeltne Mor-brethach, and said to him: "Shall Bres have quarter for giving constant milk
to the cows of Erin?" "He shall not have quarter," said Maeltne; "he has no power over their age or their offspring, though
he can milk them so long as they are alive."
Lug said to Bres: "That does not save thee: thou hast no power over their
age and their offspring, though thou canst milk them. Is there aught else that will save thee, O Bres?" said Lug.
is in truth, tell thy lawyer that for sparing me the men of Ireland shall reap a harvest in very quarter of the year."
Lug to Maeltne: "Shall Bres be spared for giving the men of Ireland a harvest of corn every quarter?"
"This has suited
us," said Maeltne: "the spring for ploughing and sowing, and the beginning of summer for the end of the strength of corn,
and the beginning of autumn for the end of the ripeness of corn and for reaping it. Winter for consuming it."
not rescue thee," said Lug to Bres; "but less than that rescues thee."
"What?" said Bres.
"How shall the men of Ireland
plough? How shall they sow? How shall they reap? After making known these three things thou wilt be spared."
said Bres, "that their ploughing be on a Tuesday, their casting seed into the field be on a Tuesday, their reaping on a Tuesday."
So through that stratagem Bres was let go free.
In that fight, then, Ogma the champion found Orna the sword of Tethra,
a king of the Fomorians. Ogma unsheathed the sword and cleansed it. Then the sword related whatsoever had been done by it;
for it was the custom of swords at that time, when unsheathed, to set forth the deeds that had been done by them. And therefore
swords are entitled to the tribute of cleansing them after they have been unsheathed. Hence also, charms are preserved in
swords thenceforward. Now the reason why deamons used to speak from weapons at that time was because weapons were worshipped
by human beings at that epoch, and the weapons were among the safeguards of that time.
Now Lug and the Dagda and Ogma pursued
the Fomorians, for they had carried off the Dagda's harper, whose name was Uaitne. Then they reached the banqueting-house
in which were Bres son of Elotha and Elotha son of Delbaeth. There hung the harp on the wall. That is the harp in which Dagda
had bound the melodies so that they sounded not until by his call he summoned them forth; when he said this below:
summer, Come winter!
Mouths of harps and bags and pipes!
Now that harp had two names, Daur-da-bla
"Oak of two greens" and Coir-cethar-chuir "Four-angled music."
Then the harp went forth from the wall, and killed nine
men, and came to the Dagda. And he played for them the three things whereby harpers are distinguished, to wit, sleep-strain
and smile-strain and wail-strain. He played wail-strain to them, so that their tearful women wept. He played smile-strain
to them, so their women and children laughed. He played sleep-strain to them, and the company fell asleep. Through that sleep
the three of them escaped unhurt from the Fomorians though these desired to slay them.
Then the Dagda brought with him
the heifer which had been given to him for his labor. For when she called her calf all the cattle of Ireland which the Fomorians
had taken as their tribute, grazed.
Now after the battle has won and corpses cleared away, the Morrigu, daughter of Ernmas,
proceeded to proclaim that battle and the mighty victory which had taken place, to the royal heights of Ireland and to its
fairy hosts and its chief waters and its river mouths. And hence it is that Badb (i.e., the Morrigu) also describes high deeds.
"Hast thou any tale?" said everyone to her then. And she replied:
Peace up to heaven
Heaven down to
Earth under heaven
Strength in every one, etc....
Then moreover she was prophesying the
end of the world, and foretelling every evil that would be therein, and every disease and every vengeance. Wherefore then
she sang this lay below:
I shall not see a world that will be dear
Summer without flowers
Kine will be without milk,
Women without modesty,
Men without valor,
without a king...
Woods without mast,
Sea without produce...
Wrong judgments of old men,
False precedents of lawyers,
man a betrayer,
Every boy a reaver
Son will enter his fathers bed,
Father will enter his son's bed,
will be his brother's brother in law....
An evil time!
Son will deceive his father,
Daughter will deceive her mother.
Cross, Tom Peete and Clark
Harris Slover, Ancient Irish Tales, Figgis, Dublin,1936.