Re: Celtic Legends of Ireland

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Posted by Christy Cummins on May 10, 1998 at 06:16:43:

In Reply to: Celtic Legends of Ireland posted by Sir Randal MacNiall Bundy of Elstow on February 22, 1998 at 08:17:45:

: Tochmarc Etaine

: from the "Yellow Book of Lecan"
: These Ancient Celtic Legends have been traditionally
: past down from generation to generation. As such they
: were preserved through the ages and are here presented
: by: Sir Randal "of Elstow.
: Part I Here Begins the Wooing of Etain:

: 1. There was a famous king of Ireland of the race of the
: Tuatha De, Eochaid Ollathair his name. He was also named
: the Dagda [i.e.good god], for it was he that used to work
: wonders for them and control the weather and the crops.
: Wherefore men said he was called the Dagda. Elcmar of the
: Brug had a wife whose name was Eithne and another name for
: her was Boand. The Dagda desired her in carnal union. The
: woman would have yielded to the Dagda had it not been for
: fear of Elcmar, so great was his power. Thereupon the Dagda
: sent Elcmar away on a journey to Bres son of Elatha in
: Mageninis, and the Dagda worked great spells upon Elcmar
: as he set out, that he might not returns betimes (that is,
: early) and he dispelled the darkness of night for him, and
: he kept hunger and thirst from him. He sent him on long
: errands, so that nine months went by as one day, for he
: had said that he would return home again between day and
: night. Meanwhile the Dagda went in upon Elcmar's wife, and
: she bore him a son, even Aengus, and the woman was whole
: of her sickness when Elcmar returned, and he perceived not
: her offense, that is, that she had lain with the Dagda.

: 2. The Dagda meanwhile brought his son to Midir's house in
: Bri Leith in Tethba, to be fostered. There Aengus was reared
: for the space of nine years. Midir had a great playing-field
: in Bri Leith. Thrice fifty lads of the young nobles of Ireland
: were there and thrice fifty maidens of the land of Ireland.
: Aengus was the leader of them all, because of Midir's great
: love for him, and the beauty of his form and the nobility of
: his race. He was also called in Mac Oc (the Young Son), for
: his mother said: "Young is the son who was begotten at the
: break of day and born betwixt it and evening."

: 3. Now Aengus quarreled with Triath son of Febal (or Gobor)
: of the Fir Bolg, who was one of the two leaders in the game,
: and a fosterling of Midir. It was no matter of pride with
: Aengus that Triath should speak to him, and he said: "It irks
: me that the son of a serf should hold speech with me," for
: Aengus had believed until then that Midir was his father, and
: the kingship of Bri Leith his heritage, and he knew not of
: his kinship with the Dagda.

: 4. Triath made answer and said: "I take it no less ill that a
: hireling whose mother and father are unknown should hold speech
: with me." Thereupon Aengus went to Midir weeping and sorrowful
: at having been put to shame by Triath. "What is this?" said Midir.
: "Triath has defamed me and cast in my face that I have neither
: mother nor father." "Tis false," said Midir. "Who is my mother,
: from whence is my father" "No hard matter. Thy father is Eochaid
: Ollathair," said Midir, "and Eithne, wife of Elcmar of the Brug,
: is thy mother. It is I that have reared thee unknown to Elcmar,
: lest it should cause him pain that thou wast begotten in his
: despite." "Come thou with me," said Aengus, "that my father may
: acknowledge me, and that I may no longer be kept hidden away
: under the insults of the Fir Bolg."

: 5. Then Midir set out with his fosterling to have speech with
: Eochaid, and they came to Uisnech of Meath in the center of
: Ireland, for 'tis there that was Eochaid's house, Ireland
: stretching equally far from on every side, south and north,
: to east and west. "Before them in the assembly they found
: Eochaid. Midir called the king aside to have speech with the
: lad. "What does he desire, this youth who has not come until
: now?" "His desire is to be acknowledged by his father, and
: for land to be given to him," said Midir, "for it is not meet
: that thy son should be landless while thou art king of Ireland."
: "He is welcome," said the Eochaid, "he is my son. But the
: land I wish him to have is not yet vacant." "What land is
: that?" said Midir. "The Brug, to the north of the Boyne,"
: said Eochaid. "Who is there?" said Midir. "Elcmar," said
: Eochaid, "is the man who is there I have no wish to annoy
: him further."

: 6 "Pray, what counsel dost thou give this lad?" said Midir.
: "I have this for him," said Eochaid. "On the day of Samain
: let him go into the Brug, and let him go armed. That is a
: day of peace and amity among the men of Ireland, on which none
: is at enmity with his fellow. And Elcmar will be in Cnoc Side
: in Borga unarmed save for a fork of white hazel in his hand,
: his cloak folded around him and a gold brooch in his cloak,
: and three fifties playing before him in the playing-field; and
: let Aengus go to him and threaten to kill him. But it is meet
: that he slay [end p. 145] him not, provided he promise him his
: will. And let this be the will of Aengus, that he be king for
: a day and a night in the Brug; and see that thou not yield the
: land to Elcmar till he submit himself (?) to my decision; and
: when he comes let Aengus plea be that the land has fallen to
: him, and that he in fee simple for sparing Elcmar and not
: slaying him, and that what he had asked for is kingship of day
: and night, and" said he, "it is in days and nights that the
: world is spent."

: 7. Then Midir sets out for his land, and his foster-son along
: with him, and on the Samain following, Aengus having armed
: himself came into the Brug and made a feint at Elcmar, so that
: he promised him in return for his life kingship of day and
: night in his land. The Mac Oc straightway abode there that day
: and night as king of the land, Elcmar's household being subject
: to him. On the morrow Elcmar came to claim his land from the
: Mac Oc, and therewith threatened him mightily. The Mac Oc said
: that he would not yield up his land until he should put it to
: the decision of the Dagda in the presence of the men of Ireland.

: 8. Then they appeal to the Dagda, who adjudged each man's contract
: in accordance with his undertaking. "So then this land accordingly
: belongs henceforth to this youth," said Elcmar. "It is fitting,"
: said the Dagda. "Thou was taken unawares on a day of peace and
: amity. Thou gavest thy land for mercy shown thee, for thy life was
: dearer to thee than thy land, yet thou shalt have land from me that
: will be no less profitable to thee than the Brug." "Where is that?"
: said Elcmar. "Cleitech," said the Dagda, "with the three lands that
: are round about it, thy youths playing before thee every day in
: the Brug, and thou shalt enjoy the fruits of the Boyne from this
: land." "It is well," said Elcmar; "so shall it be accomplished." And
: he made a flitting to Cleitech, and built a stronghold there, and
: Mac Oc abode in the Brug in his land.

: 9. Then Mider came on that day year to the Brug on a visit to his
: fosterling, and he found the Mac Oc on the mound of Sid in Broga
: on the day of Samain, with two companies of youth at play before
: him in the Brug, and Elcmar on the mound of Cleitech to the south,
: watching them. A quarrel broke out among the youths in the Brug.
: "Do not stir," said Midir to the Mac Oc, "because of Elcmar, lest
: he come down to the plain. I will go myself to make peace between
: them." Thereupon Midir went, and it was not easy for him to part them.
: A split of holly was thrown at Midir as he was intervening, and it
: knocked one of his eyes out. Midir came to the Mac Oc with his eye
: in his hand and said to him: "Would that I had not come on a visit
: to thee, to be put to shame, for with this blemish I cannot behold the
: land I have come to, and the land I have left, I cannot return to it
: now.

: 10. "It shall in no wise be so," said the Mac Oc. "I shall go to
: Dian Cecht that he may come and heal thee, and thine own land shall
: be thine and this land shall be thine, and thine eye shall be whole
: again without shame or blemish because of it." The Mac Oc went to
: Dian Cecht. [...](2) that thou mayest go with me," said he, "to save
: my foster-father who has been hurt in the Burgh on the day of the
: Samain." Dian Cecht came and healed Midir, so that he was whole again.
: "Good is my journeying now," said Midir, "since I am healed." "It
: shall surely be so," said the Mac Oc. "Do thou abide here for a year
: that thou mayest see my host and my folk, my household and my land."

: 11. I will not stay," said Midir, "unless I have a reward therefore."
: "What reward?" said the Mac Oc. "Easy to say. A chariot worth seven
: cumals,"(3) said Midir, "and a mantle befitting me, and the fairest
: maiden in Ireland." "I have," said the Mac Oc, "the chariot, and the
: mantle befitting thee." "There is moreover," said Midir, "the maiden
: that surpasses all the maidens in Ireland in form." "Where is she?"
: said the Mac Oc. "She is in Ulster," said Midir, "Ailill"s daughter
: Etain Echraide daughter of the king of the north-eastern part of
: Ireland. She is the dearest and gentlest and loveliest in Ireland."

: 12. The Mac Oc went to seek her until he came to Ailill's house in
: Mag nInis. He was made welcome, and he abode three nights there. He
: told his mission and announced his name and race. He said that it was
: in quest of Etain that he had come. "I will not give her to thee," said
: Ailill, "for I can in no way profit by thee, because of the nobility
: of thy family, and the greatness of thy power(4) and that of thy father.
: If thou put any shame on my daughter, no redress whatsoever can be had
: of thee." "It shall not be so," said the Mac Oc. "I will buy her from
: thee straightway." "Thou shall have that," said Ailill. "State thy
: demand," said the Mac Oc. "No hard matter," said Ailill. "Thou shalt
: clear for me twelve plains in my land that are under waste and wood, so
: that they may be at all times for grazing cattle and for habitation to
: me, for games, assemblies, gatherings, and strongholds."

: 13. "It shall be done," said the Mac Oc. He returns home and bewailed
: to the Dagda the strait he was in. The latter caused twelve plains to
: be cleared in a single night in Ailill's land. These are the names of
: the plains: Mag Macha, Mag Lemna, Mag

: Thus ends part one. Parts two and three will be presented
: soon.

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