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Aoife the Celt

Gods and Fighting Men, Part II

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Part II Book VII: The Boar of Beinn Gulbain

 

BUT at last one day Grania spoke to Diarmuid, and it is what she said, that it was a shame on them, with all the people and the household they had, and all their riches, the two best men in Ireland never to have come to the house, the High King, her father, and Finn, son of Cumhal. "Why do you say that, Grania," said Diarmuid, "and they being enemies to me?"

 

"It is what I would wish," said Grania, "to give them a feast, the way you would get their affection." "I give leave for that," said Diarmuid.

 

So Grania was making ready a great feast through the length of a year, and messengers were sent for the High King of Ireland, and for Finn and the seven battalions of the Fianna; and they came, and they were using the feast from day to day through the length of a year.

 

And on the last night of the year, Diarmuid was in his sleep at Rath Grania; and in the night he heard the voice of hounds through his sleep, and he started up, and Grania caught him and put her two arms about him, and asked what had startled him. "The voice of a hound I beard," said he; "and it is a wonder to me to hear that in the night." "Safe keeping on you," said Grania, "for it is the Tuatha de Danaan are doing that on you, on account of Angus of Brugh na Boinn, and lie down on the bed again." But for all that no sleep came to him, and be heard the voice of the hound again, and be started up a second time to follow after it. But Grania caught hold of him the second time and bade him to lie down, and she said it was no fitting thing to go after the voice of a hound in the night. So he lay down again, and he fell asleep, but the voice of the hound awakened him the third time. And the day was come with its full light that time, and he said: "I will go after the voice of the hound now, since the day is here." "If that is so," said Grania, "bring the Mor-alltach, the Great Fierce One, the sword of Manannan, with you, and the Gae Dearg." "I will not," he said; "but I will take the Beag-alltach, the Little Fierce One, and the Gae Buidhe in the one hand, and the hound Mac an Chuill, the Son of the Hazel, in the other hand."

 

Then Diarmuid went out of Rath Grania, and made no delay till he came to the top of Beinn Gulbain, and he found Finn before him there, without any one at all in his company. Diarmuid gave him no greeting, but asked him was it he was making that hunt. Finn said it was not a hunt he was making, but that he and some of the Fianna had gone out after midnight; "and one of our hounds that was loose beside us, came on the track of a wild boar," he said, "and they were not able to bring him back yet. And there is no use following that boar he is after," he said, "for it is many a time the Fianna hunted him, and he went away from them every time till now, and he has killed thirty of them this morning. And he is coming up the mountain towards us," he said, "and let us leave this hill to him now."

 

"I will not leave the hill through fear of him," said Diarmuid.

 

"It would be best for you, Diarmuid," said Finn, "for it is the earless Green Boar of Beinn Gulbain is in it, and it is by him you will come to your death, and Angus knew that well when he put-bonds on you not to go hunting pigs." "I never knew of those bonds," said Diarmuid; "but however it is, I will not quit this through fear of him. And let you leave Bran with me now," be said, "along with Mac an Chuill." "I will not," said Finn, "for it is often he met this boar before and could do nothing against him." He went away then and left Diarmuid alone on the top of the hill. "I give my word," said Diarmuid, "you made this hunt for my death, Finn; and if it is here I am to find my death," he said, "I have no use in going aside from it now."

 

The boar came up the face of the mountain then, and the Fianna after him. Diarmuid loosed Mac an Chuill from his leash then, but that did not serve him, for he did not wait for the boar, but ran from him. "It is a pity not to follow the advice of a good woman," said Diarmuid, "for Grania bade me this morning to bring the Mor-ailtach and the Gae Dearg with me." Then he put his finger into the silken string of the Gae Buidhe, and took a straight aim at the boar and hit him full in the face; but if he did, the spear did not so much as give him a scratch. Diarmuid was discouraged by that, but he drew the Beag-ailtach, and made a full stroke at the back of the boar, but neither did that make a wound on him, but it made two halves of the sword. Then the boar made a brave charge at Diarmuid, that cut the sod from under his feet and brought him down; but Diarmuid caught hold of the boar on rising, and held on to him, having one of his legs on each side of him, and his face to his hinder parts. And the boar made away headlong down the hill, but he could not rid himself of Diarmuid; and he went on after that to Ess Ruadh, and when he came to the red stream he gave three high leaps over it, backwards and forwards, but he could not put him from his back, and he went back by the same path till he went up the height of the mountain again. And at last on the top of the mountain he freed himself, and Diarmuid fell on the ground. And then the boar made a rush at him, and ripped him open, that his bowels came out about his feet. But if he did, Diarmuid made a cast at him with the hilt of his sword that was in his hand yet, and dashed out his brains, so that he fell dead there and then. And Rath na h-Amhrann, the Rath of the Sword Hilt, is the name of that place to this day.

 

It was not long till Finn and the Fianna of Ireland came to the place, and the pains of death were coming on Diarmuid at that time. "It is well pleased I am to see you that way, Diarmuid," said Finn; "and it is a pity all the women of Ireland not to be looking at you now, for your great beauty is turned to ugliness, and your comely shape to uncomeliness." "For all that, you have power to heal me, Finn," said Diarmuid, "if you had a mind to do it."

 

"What way could I heal you?" said Finn. "Easy enough," said Diarmuid, "for the time you were given the great gift of knowledge at the Boinn, you got this gift with it, any one you would give a drink to out of your hands would be young and well again from any sickness after it." "You are not deserving of that drink from me," said Finn. "That is not true," said Diarmuid; "it is well I deserve it from you; for the time you went to the house of Dearc, son of Donnarthadh, and your chief men with you for a feast, your enemies came round the house, and gave out three great shouts against you, and threw fire and firebrands into it. And you rose up and would have gone out, but I bade you to stop there at drinking and pleasure, for that I myself would go out and put them down. And I went out, and put out the flames, and made three red rushes round the house, and I killed fifty in every rush, and I came in again without a wound. And it is glad and merry and in good courage you were that night, Finn," he said, "and if it was that night I had asked a drink of you, you would have given it; and it would be right for you to give it to me now." "That is not so," said Finn; "it is badly you have earned a drink or any good thing from me; for the night you went to Teamhair with me, you took Grania away from me in the presence of all the men of Ireland, and you being my own guard over her that night."

 

"Do not blame me for that, Finn," said Diarmuid, "for what did I ever do against you, east or west, but that one thing; and you know well Grania put bonds on me, and I would not fail in my bonds for the gold of the whole world. And you will know it is well I have earned a drink from you, if you bring to mind the night the feast was made in the House of the Quicken Tree, and how you and all your men were bound there till I heard of it, and came fighting and joyful, and loosed you with my own blood, and with the blood of the Three Kings of the Island of the Floods; and if I bad asked a drink of you that night, Finn, you would not have refused it. And I was with you in the smiting of Lon, son of Liobhan, and you are the man that should not forsake me beyond any other man. And many is the strait has overtaken yourself and the Fianna of Ireland since I came among you, and I was ready every time to put my body and my life in danger for your sake, and you ought not to do this unkindness on me now. And besides that," he said, "there has many a good champion fallen through the things you yourself have done, and there is not an end of them yet; and there will soon come great misfortunes on the Fianna, and it is few of their seed will be left after them. And it is not for yourself I am fretting, Finn," he said, "but for Oisin and Osgar, and the rest of my dear comrades, and as for you, Oisin, you will be left lamenting after the Fianna. And it is greatly you will feel the want of me yet, Finn," he said; "and if the women of the Fianna knew I was lying in my wounds on this ridge, it is sorrowful their faces would be at this time."

 

And Osgar said then: "Although I am nearer in blood to you, Finn, than to Diarmuid, grandson of Duibbne, I will not let you refuse him this drink; and by my word,"he said, "if any prince in the world would do the same unkindness to Diarmuid that you have done, it is only the one of us that has the strongest hand would escape alive. And give him a drink now without delay," he said.

 

"I do not know of any well at all on this mountain," said Finn. "That is not so," said Diarmuid, "for there is not nine footsteps from you the well that has the best fresh water than can be found in the world."

 

Then Finn went to the well, and he took the full of his two hands of the water. But when he was no more than half-way back, the thought of Grania came on him, and he let the water slip through his hands, and he said he was not able to bring it. "I give my word," said Diarmuid, "it was of your own will you let it from you." Then Finn went back the second time to get the water, but coming back he let it through his hands again at the thought of Grania. And Diarmuid gave a pitiful sigh of anguish when he saw that. "I swear by my sword and by my spear," said Osgar, "that if you do not bring the water without any more delay, Finn, there will not leave this hill but yourself or myself." Finn went back the third time to the well after what Osgar said, and he brought the water to Diarmuid, but as he reached him the life went out of his body. Then the whole company of the Fianna that were there gave three great heavy shouts, keening for Diarmuid.

 

And Osgar looked very fiercely at Finn, and it is what he said, that it was a greater pity Diarmuid to be dead than if he himself had died. And the Fianna of Ireland had lost their yoke of battle by him, he said. "Let us leave this hill," said Finn then, "before Angus and the Tuatha de Danaan come upon us, for although we have no share in the death of Diarmuid, he would not believe the truth from us." "I give my word," said Osgar, "if I had thought it was against Diarmuid you made the hunt of Beinn Gulbain, you would never have made it."

 

Then Finn and the Fianna went away from the hill, and Finn leading Diarmuid's hound Mac an Chuill. But Oisin and Osgar and Caoilte and Lugaidh's Son turned back again and put their four cloaks over Diarmuid, and then they went after the rest of the Fianna.

 

And when they came to the Rath, Grania was out on the wall looking for news of Diarmuid; and she saw Finn and the Fianna of Ireland coming towards her. Then she said: "If Diarmuid was living, it is not led by Finn that Mac an Chuill would be coming home." And she was at that time heavy with child, and her strength went from her and she fell down from the wall. And when Oisin saw the way she was he bade Finn and others to go on from her, but she lifted up her head and she asked Finn to leave Mac an Chuill with her. And he said he would not, and that he did not think it too much for him to inherit from Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne.

 

When Oisin heard that, he snatched the hound out of Finn's hand and gave it to Grania, and then he followed after his people.

 

Then when Grania was certain of Diarmuid's death she gave out a long very pitiful cry that was heard through the whole place, and her women and her people came to her, and asked what ailed her to give a cry like that. And she told them how Diarmuid had come to his death by the Boar of Beinn Gulbain in the hunt Finn had made. "And there is grief in my very heart," she said, "I not to be able to fight myself with Finn, and I would not have let him go safe out of this place."

 

When her people heard of the death of Diarmuid they gave three great heavy cries in the same way, that were heard in the clouds and the waste places of the sky. And then Grania bade five hundred that she had for household to go to Beinne Gulbain for the body of Diarmuid.

 

And when they were bringing it back, she went out to meet them, and they put down the body of Diarmuid, and it is what she said:

 

"I am your wife, beautiful Diarmuid, the man I would do no hurt to; it is sorrowful I am after you to-night.

 

"I am looking at the hawk and the hound my secret love used to be hunting with; she that loved the three, let her be put in the grave with Diarmuid.

 

"Let us be glad to-night, let us make all welcome to-night, let us be open-handed to-nigh; since we are sitting by the body of a king.

 

And O Diarmuid," she said, "it is a hard bed Finn has given you, to be lying on the stones and to be wet with the rain. Ochone!" she said, "your blue eyes to be without sigh; you that were friendly and generous and pursuing. O love! O Diarmuid! it is a pity it is he sent you to your death.

 

"You were a champion of the men of Ireland, their prop in the middle of the fight; you were the head of every battle; your ways were glad and pleasant.

 

"It is sorrowful I am, without mirth, without light, but only sadness and grief and long dying; your harp used to be sweet to me, it wakened my heart to gladness. Now my courage is fallen down, I not to hear you but to be always remembering your ways. Och! my grief is going through me.

 

"A thousand curses on the day when Grania gave you her love, that put Finn of the princes from his wits; it is a sorrowful story your death is to-day.

 

"Many heroes were great and strong about me in the beautiful plain; their hands were good at wrestling and at battle; Ochone! that I did not follow them.

 

"You were the man was best of the Fianna, beautiful Diarmuid, that women loved. It is dark your dwelling-place is under the sod, it is mournful and cold your bed is; it is pleasant your laugh was to-day; you were my happiness, Diarmuid."

 

And she went back then into the Rath, and bade her people to bring the body to her there.

 

Now just at that time, it was showed to Angus at Brugh na Boinne that Diarmuid was dead on Beinn Gulbain, for he had kept no watch over him the night before.

 

And he went on the cold wind towards Beinn Gulbain, and his people with him, and on the way they met with Grania's people that were bringing the body to the Rath.

 

And when they saw him they held out the wrong sides of their shields as a sign of peace, and Angus knew them; and he and his people gave three great terrible cries over the body of Diarmuid.

 

And Angus spoke then, and it is what he said: "I was never one night since the time I brought you to Brugh na Boinne, being nine months old, without keeping watch and protection over you till last nigh; Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne; and now your blood has been shed and you have been cut off sharply, and the Boar of Beinn Gulbain has put you down, Diarmuid of the bright face and the bright sword. And it is a pity Finn to have done this treachery," he said, "and you at peace with him.

 

"And lift up his body now," he said, "and bring it to the Brugh in the lasting rocks. And if I cannot bring him back to life," he said, "I will put life into him the way he can be talking with me every day."

 

Then they put his body on a golden bier, and his spears over it pointed upwards, and they went on till they came to Brugh na Boinne.

 

And Grania's people went to her and told her how Angus would not let them bring the body into the Rath, but brought it away himself to Brugh na Eoinne. And Grania said she had no power over him.

 

And she sent out then for her four sons that were being reared in the district of Corca Ui Duibhne. And when they came she gave them a loving welcome, and they came into the Rath and sat down there according to their age. And Grania spoke to them with a very loud, clear voice, and it is what she said: "My dear children, your father has been killed by Finn, son of Cumhal, against his own bond and agreement of peace, and let you avenge it well upon him.

 

And here is your share of the inheritance of your father," she said, "his arms and his armour, and his feats of valour and power; and I will share these arms among you myself," she said, "and that they may bring you victory in every battle. Here is the sword for Donnchadh," she said, "the best son Diarmuid had; and the Gae Dearg for Eochaidh; and here is the armour for Ollann, for it will keep the body it is put on in safety; and the shield for Connla. And make no delay now," she said, "but go and learn every sort of skill in fighting, till such time as you will come to your full strength to avenge your father."

 

So they took leave of her then, and of their household.

 

And some of their people said: "What must we do now, since our lords will be going into danger against Finn and the Fianna of Ireland?" And Donnchadh, son of Diarmuid, bade them stop in their own places; "For if we make peace with Finn," he said, "there need be no fear on you, and if not, you can make your choice between ourselves and him." And with that they set out on their journey.

 

But after a while Finn went secretly and unknown to the Fianna to the place where Grania was, and he got to see her in spite of her high talk, and he spoke gently to her. And she would not listen to him, but bade him to get out of her sight, and whatever hard thing her tongue could say, she said it. But all the same, he went on giving her gentle talk and loving words, till in the end he brought her to his own will.

 

And there is no news told of them, until such time as they came to where the seven battalions of the Fianna were waiting for Finn. And when they saw him coming, and Grania with him, like any new wife with her husband, they gave a great shout of laughter and of mockery, and Grania bowed down her head with shame. "By my word, Finn," said Oisin, "you will keep a good watch on Grania from this out."

 

And some said the change had come on her because the mind of a woman changes like the water of a running stream; but some said it was Finn that had put enchantment on her.

 

And as to the sons of Diarmuid, they came back at the end of seven years, after learning all that was to be learned of valour in the far countries of the world. And when they came back to Rath Grania they were told their mother was gone away with Finn, son of Cumhal, without leaving any word for themselves or for the King of Ireland. And they said if that was so, there was nothing for them to do. But after that they said they would make an attack on Finn, and they went forward to Almhuin, and they would take no offers, but made a great slaughter of every troop that came out against them.

 

But at last Grania made an agreement of peace between themselves and Finn, and they got their father's place among the Fianna; and that was little good to them, for they lost their lives with the rest in the battle of Gabhra. And as to Finn and Grania, they stopped with one another to the end.

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Part II Book VIII: Tailc, Son of Treon

 

ONE time the Fianna were all gathered together doing feats and casting stones. And after a while the Druid of Teamhair that was with them said: "I am in dread, Finn of the Fianna, that there is some trouble near at hand; and look now at those dark clouds of blood," he said, "that are threatening us side by side overhead. And there is fear on me," he said, "that there is some destruction on the Fianna."

 

Finn looked up then, and he saw the great cloud of blood, and he called Osgar to look at it. "That need not knock a start from you," said Osgar "with all the strength there is in your arms, and in the men that are with you." Then all the Fianna looked up at the cloud, and some of them were glad and cheerful and some were downhearted.

 

Then the Druid bade Finn to call all his battalions together and to divide them into two halves, that they could be watching for the coming of the enemy.

 

So Finn sounded the Dord Fiann, and they answered with a shout, every one hurrying to be the first. And Finn bade Osgar and Goll and Faolan to keep watch through the night, and he bade Conan the Bald to stop in the darkness of the cave of Liath Ard. "For it is you can shout the loudest," he said, "to warn us if you see the enemy coming." "That I may be pierced through the middle of my body," said Conan, "if I will go watching for troubles or for armies alone, without some more of the Fianna being with me." "It is not fitting for you to refuse Finn," said Lugaidh's Son; "and it is you can shout the loudest," he said, "if the enemies come near the height." "Do not be speaking to me any more," said Conan, "for I will not go there alone, through the length of my days, for Finn and the whole of the Fianna." "Go then, Conan," said Osgar, "and Aodh Beag will go with you, and you can bring dogs with you, Bran and Sceolan and Fuiam and Fearagan; and let you go now without begrudging it," he said.

 

So Conan went then to Liath Ard, and Aodh Beag and Finn's hounds along with him. And as to Finn, he lay down to sleep, and it was not long till he saw through his sleep Aodh Beag his son, and he without his head. And after that he saw Goll fighting with a very strong man. And he awoke from his sleep and called the Druid of the Fianna to him, and asked him the meaning of what he saw. "I am in dread there is some destruction coming on the Fianna," said the Druid; "but Aodh Beag will not be wounded in the fight, or Goll," he said.

 

And it was not long till Finn heard a great shout, and he sounded the Dord Fiann, and then he saw Conan running, and the hounds after him. And Finn sounded the Dord Fiann again before Conan came up, and when he came, Osgar asked him where was Aodh Beag. "He was at the door of the cave when I left it," said Conan, "but I did not look behind me since then," he said; "and it was not Aodh Beag was troubling me." "What was troubling you then?" said Osgar. "Nothing troubles me but myself," said Conan; "although I am well pleased at any good that comes to you," he said.

 

Osgar went then running hard, till he came to the cave, and there he found Aodh Beag with no fear or trouble on him at all, stopping there till he would hear the noise of the shields. And Osgar brought him back to where the Fianna were, and they saw a great army coming as if in search of them.

 

And a beautiful woman, having a crimson cloak, came to them over the plain, and she spoke to Finn, and her voice was as sweet as music. And Finn asked her who was she, and who did she come looking for. "I am the daughter of Garraidh, son of Dolar Dian, the Fierce," she said; "and my curse upon the King of Greece that bound me to the man that is following after me, and that I am going from, Tail; son of Treon." "Tell me why are you shunning him, and I will protect you in spite of him," said Finn. "It is not without reason I hate him," said she, "for he has no good appearance, and his skin is of the colour of coal, and he has the head and the tail of a cat. And I have walked the world three times," she said, "and I did not leave a king or a great man without asking help' from him, and I never got it yet." "I will give you protection," said Finn, "or the seven battalions of the Fianna will fall for your sake."

 

With that they saw the big strange man, Tailc, son of Treon, coming towards them, and he said no word at all of greeting to Finn, but he called for a battle on account of his wife.

 

So a thousand of the Fianna went out to meet him and his men; and if they did they all fell, and not one of them came back again.

 

And then another thousand of the best men of the Fianna, having blue and green shields, went out under Caoilte, son of Ronan, and they were worsted by Tailc and his people. And then Osgar asked leave of Finn to go out and fight the big man. "I will give you leave," said Finn, "although I am sure you will fall by him." So Osgar went out, and he himself and Tailc, son of Treon, were fighting through the length of five days and five nights without food or drink or sleep. And at the end of that time, Osgar made an end of Tailc, and struck his head off. And when the Fianna saw that, they gave a shout of lamentation for those they had lost of the Fianna, and two shouts of joy for the death of Tailc.

 

And as to the young woman, when she saw all the slaughter that had been done on account of her, shame reddened her face, and she fell dead there and then. And to see her die like that, after all she had gone through, preyed more on the Fianna than any other thing.

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Part II Book VIII: Meargach's Wife

 

AND while the Fianna were gathered yet on the hill where Tailc, son of Treon, had been put down, they saw a very great champion coming towards them, having an army behind him. He took no notice of any one more than another, but he asked in a very rough voice where was Finn, the Head of the Fianna. And Aodh Beag, that had a quiet heart, asked him who he was, and what was be come for. "I will tell you nothing at all, child," said the big man, "for it is short your years are, and I will tell nothing at all to any one but Finn." So Aodh Beag brought him to where Finn was, and Finn asked him his name. "Meargach of the Green Spears is my name," he said; "and arms were never reddened yet on my body, and no one ever boasted of driving me backwards. And it was you, Finn," he said, "put down Tailc, son of Treon?" "It was not by me he fell," said Finn, "but by Osgar of the strong hand." "Was it not a great shame for you, Finn," said Meargach then, "to let the queen-woman that had such a great name come to her death by the Fianna?" "It was not by myself or by any of the Fianna she got her death," said Finn; "it was seeing the army lost that brought her to her death. But if it is satisfaction for her death or the death of Tailc you want," he said, "you can get it from a man of the Fianna, or you can go quietly from this place." Then Meargach said he would fight with any man they would bring against him, to avenge Tailc, son of Treon.

 

And it was Osgar stood up against him, and they fought a very hard fight through the length of three days, and at one time the Fianna thought it was Osgar was worsted, and they gave a great sorrowful shout. But in the end Osgar put down Meargach and struck his head off, and at that the seven battalions of the Fianna gave a shout of victory, and the army of Meargach keened him very sorrowfully. And after that, the two sons of Meargach, Ciardan the Swift and Liagan the Nimble, came up and asked who would come against them, hand to hand, that they might get satisfaction for their father.

 

And it was Goll stood up against Ciardan, and it was not long till he put him down; and Conan came out against Liagan, and Liagan mocked at him and said: "It is foolishness your coming is, bald man!" But Conan made a quick blow and struck his head off before the fight was begun at all.

 

And Faolan said that was a shameful thing to do, not to stand his ground and make a fair fight. But Conan said: "If I could make an end of the whole army by one blow, I would do it, and I would not be ashamed, and the whole of the Fianna could not shelter them from me."

 

Then the two armies came towards each other, and they were making ready for the attack. And they saw a beautiful golden-haired woman coming towards them, and she crying and ever crying, and the battle was given up on both sides, waiting for her to come; and the army of Meargach knew it was their queen, Ailne of the Bright Face, and they raised a great cry of grief; and the Fianna were looking at her, and said no word.

 

And she asked where was her husband, and where were her two sons. "High Queen," said Finn then, "for all they were so complete and quick and strong, the three you are asking for fell in fight."

 

And when the queen-woman beard that, she cried out aloud, and she went to the place where her husband and her two sons were lying, and she stood over their bodies, and her golden hair hanging, and she keened them there. And her own people raised a sharp lamentation listening to her, and the Fianna themselves were under grief.

 

And it is what she said: "O Meargach," she said, "of the sharp green spears, it is many a fight and many a heavy battle your hard hand fought in the gathering of the armies or alone.

 

"I never knew any wound to be on your body after them; and it is full sure I am, it was not strength but treachery got the upper hand of you now.

 

"It is long your journey was from far off, from your own kind country to Inisfail, to come to Finn and the Fianna, that put my three to death through treachery.

 

"My grief! to have lost my husband, my head, by the treachery of the Fianna; my two sons, my two men that were rough in the fight.

 

"My grief! my food and my drink; my grief! my teaching everywhere; my grief! my journey from far off, and I to have lost my high heroes.

 

"My grief! my house thrown down; my grief! my shelter and my shield; my grief! Meargach and Ciardan; my grief! Liagan of the wide chest.

 

"My grief! my protection and my shelter; my grief! my strength and my power; my grief! there is darkness come from this thing; my grief to-night you to be in your weakness.

 

"My grief! my gladness and my pleasure; my grief! my desire in every place; my grief! my courage is gone and my strength; my grief from this night out for ever.

 

"My grief! my guide and my going; my grief! my desire to the day of my death; my grief! my store and my sway; my grief! my heroes that were open-handed.

 

"My grief! my bed and my sleep; my grief! my journey and my coming; my grief! my teacher and my share; my sorrowful grief! my three men.

 

"My grief! my beauty and my ornaments; my grief! my jewels and my riches; my grief! my treasures and my goods; my grief! my three Candles of Valour.

 

"My grief! my friends and my kindred; my grief! my people and my friends. My grief! my father and my mother, my grief and my trouble! you to be dead.

 

"My grief! my portion and my welcome; my grief! my health at every time; my grief! my increase and my light; my sore trouble, you to be without strength.

 

"My grief! your spear and your sword; my grief! your gentleness and your love; my grief! your country and your home; my grief! you to be parted from my reach.

 

"My grief! my coasts and my harbours; my grief! my wealth and my prosperity; my grief! my greatness and my kingdom; my grief and my crying are until death.

 

"My grief! my luck altogether; my grief for you in time of battle; my grief! my gathering of armies; my grief! my three proud lions.

 

"My grief! my games and my drinking; my grief! my music and my delight; my grief! my sunny house and my women; my crying grief, you to be under defeat.

 

"My grief! my lands and my hunting; my grief! my three sure fighters; Och! my grief! they are my sorrow, to fall far off by the Fianna.

 

"I knew by the great host of the Sidhe that were fighting over the dun, giving battle to one another in the valleys of the air, that destruction would put down my three.

 

"I knew by the noise of the voices of the Sidhe coming into my ears, that a story of new sorrow was not far from me; it is your death it was foretelling.

 

"I knew at the beginning of the day when my three good men went from me, when I saw tears of blood on their cheeks, that they would not come back to me as winners.

 

"I knew by the voice of the battle-crow over your dun every evening, since you went from me comely and terrible, that misfortune and grief were at hand.

 

"It is well I remember, my three strong ones, how often I used to be telling you that if you would go to Ireland, I would not see the joy of victory of your faces.

 

"I knew by the voice of the raven every morning since you went from me, that your fall was sure and certain; that you would never come back to your own country.

 

"I knew, my three great ones, by your forgetting the thongs of your hounds, that you would not gain the day or escape from the treachery of the Fianna.

 

"I knew, Candles of Valour, by the stream near the dun turning to blood when you set out, that there would be treachery in Finn.

 

"I knew by the eagle coming every evening over the dun, that it would not be long till I would hear a story of bad news of my three.

 

"I knew by the withering of the tree before the dun, that you would never come back as conquerors from the treachery of Finn, son of Cumhal."

 

When Grania, now, heard what the woman was saying, there was anger on her, and she said: "Do not be speaking against Finn or the Fianna, Queen, for it was not by treachery or any deceit your three men were brought to their end."

 

But Ailne made her no answer and gave no heed to her, but she went on with her complaint, and she crying and ever crying.

 

"I knew, looking after you the day you went out from the dun, by the flight of the raven before you, there was no good sign of your coming back again.

 

"I knew by Ciardan's hounds that were howling mournfully every evening, that it would not be long till I would have bad news of you.

 

"I knew by my sleep that went from me, by my tears through every lasting night, that there was no luck before you.

 

"I knew by the sorrowful vision that showed myself in danger, my head and my hands cut off, that it was yourselves were without sway.

 

"I knew by the voice of Uaithnin, the hound that is dearest to Liagan, howling early every morning, that death was certain for my three.

 

"I knew when I saw in a vision a lake of blood in the place of the dun, that my three were put down by the deceit that was always with Finn."

 

"Do not be faulting Finn," said Grania then, "however vexed your heart may be. And leave off now," she said, "speaking against the Fianna and against himself; for if your men had stopped in their own country," she said, "without coming to avenge the son of Treon, there would no harm have happened them." "I would not put any reproach on the Fianna, Grania," said Ailne, "if my three men had been put down in fair battle, but they are not living to bear witness to me," she said; "and it is likely they were put under Druid spells at the first, or they would never have given in." "If they were living, Queen," said Grania, "they would not be running down the Fianna, but they would tell you it was by bravery and the strong hand they fell." "I do not believe you or the Fianna when you say that," said Ailne; "for no one that came to meet them ever got the sway over them by the right of the sword." "If you do not believe what I am saying, beautiful Ailne," said Grania, "I tell you more of your great army will fall by the Fianna, and that not by treachery." "That is not so," said Ailne, "but I have good hopes that my own army will do destruction on the Fianna, for the sake of the men that are dead." "Well, Ailne," said Grania, "I know it is a far journey you have come. And come now and eat and drink," she said, "with myself and with the Fianna."

 

But Ailne would not do that, but she said it would not be fitting for her to take food from people that did such deeds, and what she wanted was satisfaction for the death of her husband and her two sons.

 

And first it was settled for two men of each side to go out against one another; and then Ailne said that there should be thirty men on each side, and then she said she would not be satisfied to go back to her own country till she brought the head of Finn with her, or till the last of his men had fallen. And there was a great battle fought in the end, and it is seldom the Fianna fought so hard a battle as that.

 

And it would be too long to tell, and it would tire the hearers, bow many good men were killed on each side. But in the end Ailne of the Bright Face was worsted, and she went back with what were left of her men to their own country, and no one knew where they went.

 

And the hill in the west those battles were fought on got the name of Cnos-an-Air, the Hill of Slaughter.

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Part II Book VIII: Ailne's Revenge

 

ONE day Finn and his people were hunting on Slieve Fuad, and a stag stood against them for a while and fought with his great rough horns, and then he turned and ran, and the Fianna followed after him till they came to the green hill of Liadhas, and from that to rocky Cairgin. And there they lost him again for a while, till Sceolan started him again, and he went back towards Slieve Fuad, and the Fianna after him.

 

But Finn and Daire of the Songs, that were together, went astray and lost the rest of their people, and they did not know was it east or west they were going.

 

Finn sounded the Dord Fiann then, and Daire played some sorrowful music to let their people know where they were. But when the Fianna heard the music, it seemed to be a long way off; and sometimes they thought it was in the north it was, and sometimes in the east, and then it changed to the west, the way they did not know in the wide world where was it coming from.

 

And as to Finn and Daire, a Druid mist came about them, and they did not know what way they were going.

 

And after a while they met with a young woman, comely and pleasant, and they asked who was she, and what brought her there. "Glanluadh is my name," she said, "and my husband is Lobharan; and we were travelling over the plain together a while ago, and we heard the cry of hounds, and he left me and went after the bunt, and I do not know where is he, or what way did he go." "Come on then with us," said Finn, "and we will take care of you, for we ourselves do not know what way the hunt is gone, east or west." So they went on, and before long they came to a hill, and they heard sleepy music of the Sidhe beside them. And after that there came shouts and noises, and then the music began again, and heavy sleep came on Finn and Daire. And when they awoke from their sleep they saw a very large lighted house before them, and a stormy blue sea around it. Then they saw a very big grey man coming through the waves, and he took hold of Finn and of Daire, and all their strength went from them, and he brought them across the waves and into the house, and he shut the door of the house with iron books. "My welcome to you, Finn of the great name," be said then in a very harsh voice; "it is long we are waiting here for you."

 

They sat down then on the hard side of a bed, and the woman of the house came to them, and they knew her to be Ailne, wife of Meargach. "It is long I am looking for you, Finn," she said, "to get satisfaction for the treachery you did on Meargach and on my two comely young sons, and on Tailc, son of Treon, and all his people. And do you remember that, Finn?" she said. "I remember well," said Finn, "that they fell by the swords of the Fianna, not by treachery but in fighting." "It was by treachery they fell," said the Grey Man then; "and it is our witness to it, pleasant Ailne to be the way she is, and many a strong army under grief on account of her." "What is Ailne to you, man of the rough voice?" said Finn. "I am her own brother," said the man.

 

With that he put bonds on the three, Finn and Daire and Glanluadh, and he put them down into some deep shut place.

 

They were very sorrowful then, and they stopped there to the end of five days and five nights, without food, without drink, without music.

 

And Ailne went to see them then, and Finn said to her: "O Ailne," he said, "bring to mind the time you came to Cnoc-an-Air, and the way the Fianna treated you with generosity; and it is not fitting for you," he said, "to keep us now under shame and weakness and in danger of death." "I know well I got kind treatment from Grania," said Ailne in a sorrowful voice; "but for all that, Finn," she said, "if all the Fianna were in that prison along with you under hard bonds, it would please me well, and I would not pity their case. And what is it set you following after Finn," she said then to Glanluadh, "for that is not a fitting thing for you to do, and his own kind wife living yet."

 

Then Glanluadh told her the whole story, and how she was walking the plain with Lobharan her husband, and he followed the hunt, and the mist came about her that she did not know east from west, and how she met then with Finn that she never saw before that time. "If that is so," said Ailne, "it is not right for you to be under punishment without cause."

 

She called then to her brother the Grey Man, and bade him take the spells off Glanluadh. And when she was set free it is sorry she was to leave Daire in bonds, and Finn. And when she had bidden them farewell she went out with Ailne, and there was food brought to her, but a cloud of weakness came on her of a sudden, that it was a pity to see the way she was.

 

And when Ailne saw that, she brought out an enchanted cup of the Sidhe and gave her a drink from it. And no sooner did Glanluadh drink from the cup than her strength and her own appearance came back to her again; but for all that, she was fretting after Finn and Daire in their bonds. "It seems to me, Glanluadh, you are fretting after those two men," said Ailne. "I am sorry indeed," said Glanluadh, "the like of those men to be shut up without food or drink." "If it is pleasing to you to give them food you may give it," said Ailne, "for I will not make an end of them till I see can I get the rest of the Fianna into bonds along with them." The two women brought food and drink then to Finn, and to Daire; and Glanluadh gave her blessing to Finn, and she cried when she saw the way he was; but as to Ailne, she had no pity at all for the King of the Fianna.

 

Now as to the Grey Man, he heard them talking of the Fianna, and they were saying that Daire had a great name for the sweetness of his music. "I have a mind to hear that sweet music," said he. So he went to the place where they were, and he bade Daire to let him hear what sort of music he could make. "My music pleased the Fianna well," said Daire; "but I think it likely it would not please you." "Play it for me now, till I know if the report I heard of you is true," said the Grey Man. "Indeed, I have no mind for music," said Daire, "being weak and downhearted the way I am, through your spells that put down my courage." "I will take my spells off you for so long as you play for me," said the Grey Man. "I could never make music seeing Finn in bonds the way he is," said Daire; "for it is worse to me, he to be under trouble than myself." "I will take the power of my spells off Finn till you play for me," said the Grey Man.

 

He weakened the spells then, and gave them food and drink, and it pleased him greatly the way Daire played the music, and he called to Glanluadh and to Ailne to come and to listen to the sweetness of it. And they were well pleased with it, and it is glad Glanluadh was, seeing them not so discouraged as they were.

 

Now as to the Fianna, they were searching for Finn and for Daire in every place they had ever stopped in. And when they came to this place they could hear Daire's sweet music; and at first they were glad when they heard it, and then when they knew the way he himself and Finn were, they made an attack on Ailne's dun to release them.

 

But the Grey Man heard their shouts, and he put the full power of his spells again on Finn and on Daire. And the Fianna heard the music as if stammering, and then they heard a great noise like the loud roaring of waves, and when they heard that, there was not one of them but fell into a sleep and clouds of death, under those sorrowful spells.

 

And then the Grey Man and Ailne came out quietly from where they were, and they brought the whole of the men of the Fianna that were there into the dun. And they put hard bonds on them, and put them where Finn and Daire were. And there was great grief on Finn and Daire when they saw them, and they were all left there together for a while.

 

Then Glanluadh said to the Grey Man: "If Daire's music is pleasing to you, let him play it to us now." "If you have a mind for music," said the Grey Man, "Daire must play it for us, and for Finn and his army as well."

 

They went then to where they were, and bade Daire to play. "I could never play sweet music," said Daire, "the time the Fianna are in any trouble; for when they are in trouble, I myself am in trouble, and I could not sound any sweet string," he said, "while there is trouble on any man of them." The Grey Man weakened the spells on them all, and Daire played first the strings of sweetness, and of the noise of shouting, and then he sang his own grief and the grief of all the Fianna. And at that the Grey Man said it would not be long before he would put the whole of the Fianna to death; and then Daire played a tune of heavy shouts of lamentation. And then at Finn's bidding he played the music of sweet strings for the Fianna.

 

They were kept, now, a long time in that prison, and they got very hard treatment; and sometimes Ailne's brother would come in and strike the heads off some of them, for none of them could rise up from the seats they were sitting on through his enchantments. But one time he was going to strike the bald head off Conan and Conan made a great leap from the seat; but if he did, he left strips of his skin hanging to it, that his back was left bare. And then he came round the Grey Man with his pitiful words: "Stop your hand now," he said, "for that is enough for this time; and do not send me to my death yet awhile, and heal me of my wounds first," he said, "before you make an end of me." And the reason he said that was because he knew Ailne to have an enchanted cup in the dun, that had cured Glanluadh.

 

And the Grey Man took pity on his case, and he brought him out and bade Ailne to bring the cup to him and cure his wounds. "I will not bring it," said Ailne, "for it would be best give no time at all to him or to the Fianna, but to make an end of them." "It is not to be saved from death I am asking, bright-faced Ailne," said Conan, "but only not go to my death stripped bare the way I am." When Ailne heard that, she brought a sheepskin and she put it on Conan's back, and it fitted and grew to him, and covered his wounds. "I will not put you to death, Conan," said the Grey Man then, "but you can stop with myself to the end of your life." "You will never be without grief and danger and the fear of treachery if you keep him with you," said Ailne; "for there is treachery in his heart the same as there is in the rest of them." "There is no fear of that," said her brother, "for I will make no delay until I put the whole of the Fianna to death." And with that he brought Conan to where the enchanted cup was, and he put it in his hand. And just at that moment they heard Daire playing very sweet sorrowful music, and the Grey Man went to listen to it, very quick and proud. And Conan followed him there, and after a while the Grey Man asked him what did he do with the enchanted cup. "I left it where I found it, full of power," said Conan.

 

The Grey Man hurried back then to the place where the treasures of the dun were. But no sooner was he gone than Conan took out the cup that he had hidden, and he gave a drink from it to Finn and to Osgar and to the rest of the Fianna. And they that were withered and shaking, without strength, without courage, got back their own appearance and their strength again on the moment.

 

And when the Grey Man came back from looking for the cup, and saw what had happened, he took his sword and made a stroke at Conan. But Conan called to Osgar to defend him, and Osgar attacked the Grey Man, and it was not long till he made him acquainted with death.

 

And when Ailne saw that, with the grief and the dread that came on her, she fell dead then and there.

 

Then all the Fianna made a feast with what they found of food and of drink, and they were very joyful and merry. But when they rose up in the morning, there was no trace or tidings of the dun, but it was on the bare grass they were lying.

 

But as to Conan, the sheepskin never left him; and the wool used to grow on it every year, the same as it would on any other skin.

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Part II Book IX: The Quarrel with the Sons of Morna

 

ONE time when the Fianna were gone here and there hunting, Black Garraidh and Caoilte were sitting beside Finn, and they were talking of the battle where Finn's father was killed. And Finn said then to Garraidh: "Tell me now, since you were there yourself, what way was it you brought my father Cumhal to his death?" "I will tell you that since you ask me," said Garraidh; "it was my own hand and the hands of the rest of the sons of Morna that made an end of him." "That is cold friendship from my followers the Sons of Morna," said Finn. "If it is cold friendship," said Garraidh, "put away the liking you are letting on to have for us, and show us the hatred you have for us all the while." "If I were to lift my hand against you now, Sons of Morna," said Finn, "I would be well able for you all without the help of any man." "It was by his arts Cumhal got the upper hand of us," said Garraidh; "and when he got power over us," he said, "he banished us to every far country; a share of us he sent to Alban, and a share of us to dark Lochlann, and a share of us to bright Greece, parting us from one another; and for sixteen years we were away from Ireland, and it was no small thing to us to be without seeing one another through that time. And the first day we came back to Ireland," he said, 'we killed sixteen hundred men, and no lie in it, and not a man of them but would be keened by a hundred. And we took their duns after that," he said, "and we went on till we were all around one house in Munster of the red walls. But so great was the bravery of the man in that house, that was your father, that it was easier to find him than to kill him. And we killed all that were of his race out on the bill, and then we made a quick rush at the house where Cumhal was, and every man of us made a wound on his body with his spear. And I myself was in it, and it was I gave him the first wound. And avenge it on me now, Finn, if you have a mind to," he said.

 

 

 

 

It was not long after that, Finn gave a feast at Almhuin for all his chief men, and there came to it two sons of the King of Alban, and sons of the kings of the great world. And when they were all sitting at the feast, the serving-men rose up and took drinking-horns worked by skilled men, and having shining stones in them, and they poured out strong drink for the champions; and it is then mirth rose up in their young men, and courage in their fighting men, and kindness and gentleness in their women, and knowledge and foreknowledge in their poets.

 

And then a crier rose up and shook a rough iron chain to silence the clowns and the common lads and idlers, and then he shook a chain of old silver to silence the high lords and chief men of the Fianna, and the learned men, and they all listened and were silent.

 

And Fergus of the True Lips rose up and sang before Finn the songs and the good poems of his forefathers; and Finn and Oisin and Lugaidh's Son rewarded him with every good thing. And then he went on to Goll, son of Morna, and told the fights and the destructions and the cattle-drivings and the courtings of his fathers; and it is well-pleased and high-minded the sons of Morna were, listening to that.

 

And Goll said then: "Where is my woman-messenger?" "I am here, King of the Fianna," said she. "Have you brought me my hand-tribute from the men of Lochlann?" "I have brought it surely," said she. And with that she rose up and laid on the floor of the hail before Goll a load of pure gold, the size of a good pig, and that would be a heavy load for a strong man. And Goll loosened the covering that was about it, and he gave Fergus a good reward from it as he used to do; for there never was a wise, sharp-worded poet, or a sweet harp-player, or any learned man of Ireland or of Alban, but Goll would give him gold or silver or some good thing.

 

And when Finn saw that, he said: "How long is it, Goll, you have this rent on the men of Lochlann, and my own rent being on them always with it, and one of my own men, Ciaran son of Latharne, and ten hundred men of his household, guarding it and guarding my right of hunting?" And Goll saw there was anger on Finn, and he said: "It is a long time, Finn, I have that rent on the men of Lochlann, from the time your father put war and quarrels on me, and the King of Ireland joined with him, and I was made to quit Ireland by them. And I went into Britain," he said, "and I took the country and killed the king himself and did destruction on his people, but Cumhal put me out of it; and from that I went to Fionn-lochlann, and the king fell by me, and his household, and Cumhal put me out of it and I went from that to the country of the Saxons, and the king and his household fell by me, and Cumhal put me out of it. But I came back then to Ireland, and I fought a battle against your father, and he fell by me there. And it was at that time I put this rent upon the men of Lochlann. And, Finn," he said, "it is not a rent of the strong hand you have put on them, but it is a tribute for having the protection of the Fianna of Ireland, and I do not lessen that. And you need not begrudge that tribute to me," he said, "for if I had more than that again, it is to you and to the men of Ireland I would give it."

 

There was great anger on Finn then, and he said: "You tell me, Goll," he said, "by your own story, that you came from the city of Beirbhe to fight against my father, and that you killed him in the battle; and it is a bold thing you to tell that to me." "By your own hand," said Goll, "if you were to give me the same treatment your father gave me, I would pay you the same way as I paid him." "It would be hard for you to do that," said Finn, "for there are a hundred men in my household against every man there is in your household." "That was the same with your father," said Goll, "and I avenged my disgrace on him; and I would do the same on yourself if you earned it," he said.

 

Then Cairell of the White Skin, son of Finn, said: "It is many a man of Finn's household you have put down, Goll!" And Bald Conan when he heard that said: "I swear by my arms, Goll was never without having a hundred men in his household, every one of them able to get the better of yourself." "And is it to them you belong, crooked-speaking, bare-headed Conan?" said Cairell. "It is to them I belong, you black, feeble, nail-scratching, rough-skinned Cairell; and I will make you know it was Finn was in the wrong," said Conan.

 

With that Cairell rose up and gave a furious blow of his fist to Conan, and Conan took it with no great patience, but gave him back a blow in his teeth, and from that they went on to worse blows again. And the two sons of Goll rose up to help Conan, and Osgar went to the help of Cairell, and it was not long till many of the chief men of the Fianna were fighting on the one side or the other, on the side of Finn or on the side of the sons of Morna.

 

But then Fergus of the True Lips rose up, and the rest of the poets of the Fianna along with him, and they sang their songs and their poems to check and to quiet them. And they left off their fighting at the sound of the poets' songs, and they let their weapons fall on the floor, and the poets took them up, and made peace between the fighters; and they put bonds on Finn and on Goll to keep the peace for a while, till they could ask for a judgment from the High King of Ireland. And that was the end for that time of the little quarrel at Almhuin.

 

But it broke out again, one time there was a falling out between Finn and Goll as to the dividing of a pig of the pigs of Manannan. And at Daire Tardha, the Oak Wood of Bulls, in the province of Connacht, there was a great fight between Finn's men and the sons of Morna. And the sons of Morna were worsted, and fifteen of their men were killed; and they made their mind up that from that time they would set themselves against any friends of Finn or of his people. And it was Conan the Bald gave them that advice, for he was always bitter, and a maker of quarrels and of mischief in every place.

 

And they kept to their word, and spared no one. There was a yellow-haired queen that Finn loved, Berach Brec her name was, and she was wise and comely and worthy of any good man, and she had her house full of treasures, and never refused the asking of any. And any one that came to her house at Samhain time might stay till Beltaine, and have his choice then to go or to stay. And the sons of Morna had fostered her, and they went where she was and bade her to give up Finn and she need be in no dread of them. But she said she would not give up her kind lover to please them; and she was going away from them to her ship, and Art, son of Morna, made a cast of his spear that went through her body, that she died, and her people brought her up from the strand and buried her.

 

And as to Goll, he took a little hound that Finn thought a great deal of, Conbeg its name was, and he drowned it in the sea; and its body was brought up to shore by a wave afterwards, and it was buried under a little green hill by the Fianna. And Caoilte made a complaint over it, and he said how swift the little hound was after deer, or wild pigs, and how good at killing them, and that it was a pity it to have died, out on the cold green waves. And about that time, nine women of the Tuatha de Dannan came to meet with nine men of the Fianna, and the sons of Morna saw them coming and made an end of them.

 

And when Caoilte met with Goll, he made a cast of his spear at him that struck the golden helmet off his head and a piece of his flesh along with it. But Goll took it very proudly, and put on the helmet again and took up his weapons, and called out to his brothers that he was no way ashamed.

 

And Finn went looking for the sons of Morna in every place to do vengeance on them. They were doing robbery and destruction one time in Slieve Echtge, that got its name from Echtge, daughter of Nuada of the Silver Hand, and Finn and the Fianna were to the west, at Slieve Cairn in the district of Corcomruadh. And Finn was in doubt if the sons of Morna were gone southward into Munster or north into Connacht. So he sent Aedan and Cahal, two sons of the King of Ulster, and two hundred fighting men with them, into the beautiful pleasant province of Connacht, and every day they used to go looking for the sons of Morna from place to place. But after a while the three battalions of the Fianna that were in Corcomruadh saw the track of a troop of men, and they thought it to be the track of the sons of Morna; and they closed round them at night, and made an end of them all. But when the full light came on the morrow, they knew them to be their own people, that were with the King of Ulster's sons, and they gave three great heavy cries, keening the friends they had killed in mistake.

 

And Caoilte and Oisin went to Rath Medba and brought a great stone and put it over the king's sons, and it was called Lia an Imracail, the Stone of the Mistake. And the place where Goll brought his men the time he parted from Finn in anger got the name of Druimscarha, the Parting Hill of Heroes.

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Part II Book IX: Death of Goll

 

AND at last it chanced that Goll and Cairell, son of Finn, met with one another, and said sharp words, and they fought in the sea near the strand, and Cairell got his death by GoIl. And there was great anger and great grief on Finn, seeing his son, that was so strong and comely, lying dead and grey, like a blighted branch.

 

And as to Goll, he went away to a cave that was in a point stretching out into the sea; and he thought to stop there till Finn's anger would have passed.

 

And Osgar knew where he was, and he went to see him, that had been his comrade in so many battles. But Goll thought it was as an enemy he came, and he made a cast of his spear at him, and though Osgar got no wound by it, it struck his shield and crushed it. And Finn took notice of the way the shield was, and when he knew that Goll had made a cast at Osgar there was greater anger on him. And be sent out his men and bade them to watch every path and every gap that led to the cave where Goll was, the way they would make an end of him.

 

And when Goll knew Finn to be watching for his life that way, be made no attempt to escape, but stopped where he was, without food, without drink, and he blinded with the sand that was blowing into his eyes.

 

And his wife came to a rock where she could speak with him, and she called to him to come to her. "Come over to me," she said; "and it is a pity you to be blinded where you are, on the rocks of the waste sea, with no drink but the salt water, a man that was first in every fight. And come now to be sleeping beside me," she said; "and in place of the hard sea-water I will nourish you from my own breast, and it is I will do your healing. And the gold of your hair is my desire for ever," she said, "and do not stop withering there like an herb in the winter-time, and my heart black with grief within me?'

 

But Goll would not leave the spot where he was for all she could say. "It is best as it is," he said, "and I never took the advice of a woman east or west, and I never will take it. And O sweet-voiced queen," he said, "what ails you to be fretting after me; and remember now your silver and your gold, and your silks and stuffs, and remember the seven hounds I gave you at Cruadh Ceirrge, and every one of them without slackness till he has killed the deer. And do not be crying tears after me, queen with the white hands," he said; "but remember your constant lover, Aodh, the son of the best woman of the world, that came out from Spain asking for you, and that I fought at Corcar-an-Deirg; and go to him now," he said, "for it is bad when a woman is in want of a good man."

 

And he lay down on the rocks, and at the end of twelve days he died. And his wife keened him there, and made a great lamentation for her husband that had such a great name, and that was the second best of the Fianna of Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

And when Conan heard of the death of Goll his brother, there was great anger on him, and he went to Garraidh, and asked him to go with him to Finn to ask satisfaction for Goll. "I am not willing to go," said Garraidh, "since we could get no satisfaction for the great son of Morna." "Whether you have a mind to go or not, I will go," said Conan; "and I will make an end of every man I meet with, for the sake of yellow-haired Goll; I will have the life of Oisin, Finn's great son, and of Osgar and of Caoilte and of Daire of the Songs; I will have no forgiveness for them, we must show no respect for Finn, although we may die in the fight, having no help from Goll. And let us take that work in hand, and make no delay," he said; "for if Finn is there, his strength will be there, until we put him under his flag-stone."

 

But it is not likely Garraidh went with him, and he after speaking such foolish words.

 

 

 

 

 

And what happened Conan in the end is not known. But there is a cairn of stones on a bill of Burren, near to Corcomruadh, and the people of Connacht say it is there he is buried, and that there was a stone found there one time, having on it in the old writing:

 

"Conan the swift-footed, the bare-footed." But the Munster people say it is on their own side of Burren he is buried.

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Part II Book IX: The Battle of Gabhra

 

Now, with one thing and another, the High King of Ireland had got to be someway bitter against Finn and the Fianna; and one time that he had a gathering of his people he spoke out to them, and he bade them to remember all the harm that had been done them through the Fianna, and all their pride, and the tribute they asked. "And as to myself," he said, "I would sooner die fighting the Fianna, if I could bring them down along with me, than live with Ireland under them the way it is now."

 

All his people were of the same mind, and they said they would make no delay, but would attack the Fianna and make an end of them. "And we will have good days of joy and of feasting." they said, "when once Almhuin is clear of them."

 

And the High King began to make plans against Finn; and he sent to all the men of Ireland to come and help him. And when all was ready, he sent and bade Osgar to come to a feast he was making at Teamhair.

 

And Osgar, that never was afraid before any enemy, set out for Teamhair, and three hundred of his men with him. And on the way they saw a woman of the Sidhe washing clothes at a river, and there was the colour of blood on the water where she was washing them. And Osgar said to her: "There is red on the clothes you are washing; and it is for the dead you are washing them." And the woman answered him, and it is what she said: "It is not long till the ravens will be croaking over your own head after the battle." "Is there any weakness in our eyes," said Osgar, "that a little story like that would set us crying? And do another foretelling for us now," he said, "and tell us will any man of our enemies fall by us before we are made an end of?"

 

"There will be nine hundred fall by yourself," she said; "and the High King himself will get his death-wound from you."

 

Osgar and his men went on then to the king's house at Teamhair, and they got good treatment, and the feast was made ready, and they were three days at pleasure and at drinking.

 

And on the last day of the drinking, the High King called out with a loud voice, and he asked Osgar would he make an exchange of spears with him. "Why do you ask that exchange," said Osgar, "when I myself and my spear were often with yourself in time of battle? And you would not ask it of me," he said, "if Finn and the Fianna were with me now." "I would ask it from any fighting man among you," said the king, "and for rent and tribute along with it." "Any gold or any treasure you might ask of us, we would give it to you," said Osgar, "but it is not right for you to ask my spear." There were very high words between them, then, and they threatened one another, and at the last the High King said: "I will put my spear of the seven spells out through your body." "And I give my word against that," said Osgar, "I will put my spear of the nine spells between the meeting of your hair and beard."

 

With that he and his men rose up and went out of Teamhair, and they stopped to rest beside a river, and there they heard the sound of a very sorrowful tune, that was like keening, played on a harp. And there was great anger on Osgar when he heard that, and he rose up and took his arms and roused his people, and they went on again to where Finn was. And there came after them a messenger from the High King, and the message he brought was this, that he would never pay tribute to the Fianna or bear with them at all from that time.

 

And when Finn heard that, he sent out a challenge of battle, and he gathered together all the Fianna that were left to him. But as to the sons of Morna, it was to the High King of Ireland they gathered.

 

And it was at the hill of Gabhra the two armies me; and there were twenty men with the King of Ireland for every man that was with Finn.

 

And it is a very hard battle was fought that day, and there were great deeds done on both sides; and there never was a greater battle fought in Ireland than that one.

 

And as to Osgar, it would be hard to tell all he killed on that day; five scores of the Sons of the Gael, and five score fighting men from the Country of Snow, and seven score of the Men of Green Swords that never went a step backward, and four hundred from the Country of the Lion, and five score of the sons of kings; and the shame was for the King of Ireland.

 

But as to Osgar himself, that began the day so swift and so strong, at the last he was like leaves on a strong wind, or like an aspen-tree that is falling. But when he saw the High King near him, he made for him like a wave breaking on the strand; and the king saw him coming, and shook his greedy spear, and made a cast of it, and it went through his body and brought him down on his right knee, and that was the first grief of the Fianna. But Osgar himself was no way daunted, but he made a cast of his spear of the nine spells that went into the High King at the meeting of the hair and the beard, and gave him his death. And when the men nearest to the High King saw that, they put the king's helmet up on a pillar, the way his people would think he was living yet. But Osgar saw it, and he lifted a thin bit of a slab-stone that was on the ground beside him, and he made a cast of it that broke the helmet where it was; and then he himself fell like a king.

 

And there fell in that battle the seven sons of Caoilte, and the son of the King of Lochlann that had come to give them his help, and it would be hard to count the number of the Fianna that fell in that battle.

 

And when it was ended, those that were left of them went looking for their dead. And Caoilte stooped down over his seven brave sons, and every living man of the Fianna stooped over his own dear friends. And it was a lasting grief to see all that were stretched in that place, but the Fianna would not have taken it to heart the way they did, but for being as they were, a beaten race.

 

And as to Oisin, he went looking for Osgar, and it is the way he found him, lying stretched, and resting on his left arm and his broken shield beside him, and his sword in his hand yet, and his blood about him on every side. And he put out his hand to Oisin, and Oisin took it and gave out a very hard cry. And Osgar said: "It is glad I am to see you safe, my father." And Oisin had no answer to give him. And just then Caoilte came where they were, and be looked at Osgar. "What way are you now, my darling?" he said. "The way you would like me to be," said Osgar.

 

Then Caoilte searched the wound, and when he saw how the spear had torn its way through to the back, he cried out, and a cloud came over him and his strength failed him. "O Osgar," he said, "you are parted from the Fianna, and they themselves must be parted from battle from this out," he said, "and they must pay their tribute to the King of Ireland."

 

Then Caoilte and Oisin raised up Osgar on their shields and brought him to a smooth green hill till they would take his dress off. And there was not a hands-breadth of his white body that was without a wound.

 

And when the rest of the Fianna saw what way Osgar was, there was not a man of them that keened his own son or his brother, but every one of them came keening Osgar.

 

And after a while, at noonday, they saw Finn coming towards them, and what was left of the Sun-banner raised on a spear-shaft. All of them saluted Finn then, but he made no answer, and he came up to the hill where Osgar was. And when Osgar saw him coming he saluted him, and he said: "I have got my desire in death, Finn of the sharp arms." And Finn said: "It is worse the way you were, my son, on the day of the battle at Beinn Edair when the wild geese could swim on your breast, and it was my hand that gave you healing." "There can no healing be done for me now for ever," said Osgar, "since the King of Ireland put the spear of seven spells through my body." And Finn said: "It is a pity it was not I myself fell in sunny scarce Gabhra, and you going east and west at the head of the Fianna." "And if it was yourself fell in the battle," said Osgar, "you would not hear me keening after you; for no man ever knew any heart in me," he said, "but a heart of twisted horn, and it covered with iron. But the howling of the dogs beside me," he said, "and the keening of the old fighting men, and the crying of the women one after another, those axe the things that are vexing me." And Finn said: "Child of my child, calf of my calf, white and slender, it is a pity the way you are. And my heart is starting like a deer," he said, "and I am weak after you and after the Fianna of Ireland. And misfortune has followed us," he said; "and farewell now to battles and to a great name, and farewell to taking tributes; for every good thing I ever had is gone from me now," he said.

 

And when Osgar heard those words he stretched out his hands, and his eyelids closed. And Finn turned away from the rest, and he cried tears down; and he never shed a tear through the whole length of his lifetime but only for Osgar and for Bran.

 

And all that were left of the Fianna gave three sorrowful cries after Osgar, for there was not one of the Fianna beyond him, unless it might be Finn or Oisin.

 

And it is many of the Fianna were left dead in Gabhra, and graves were made for them. And as to Lugaidh's Son, that was so tall a man and so good a fighter, they made a very wide grave for him, as was fitting for a king. And the whole length of the rath at Gabhra, from end to end, it is that was the grave of Osgar, son of Oisin, son of Finn.

 

And as to Finn himself, he never had peace or pleasure again from that day.

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Part II Book X: The Death of Bran

 

ONE day Finn was hunting, and Bran went following after a fawn. And they were coming towards Finn, and the fawn called out, and it said: "If I go into the sea below I will never come back again; and if I go up into the air above me, it will not save me from Bran." For Bran would overtake the wild geese, she was that swift.

 

"Go out through my legs," said Finn then. So the fawn did that, and Bran followed her; and as Bran went under him, Finn squeezed his two knees on her, that she died on the moment.

 

And there was great grief on him after that, and he cried tears down the same as he did when Osgar died.

 

And some said it was Finn's mother the fawn was, and that it was to save his mother he killed Bran. But that is not likely, for his mother was beautiful Muirne, daughter of Tadg, son of Nuada of the Tuatha de Danaan, and it was never heard that she was changed into a fawn. It is more likely it was Oisin's mother was in it.

 

But some say Bran and Sceolan are still seen to start at night out of the thicket on the hill of Almhuin.

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Part II Book X: The Call of Oisin

 

ONE misty morning, what were left of the Fianna were gathered together to Finn, and it is sorrowful and downhearted they were after the loss of so many of their comrades.

 

And they went hunting near the bothers of Loch Lein, where the bushes were in blossom and the birds were singing; and they were waking up the deer that were as joyful as the leaves of a tree in summer-time.

 

And it was not long till they saw coming towards them from the west a beautiful young woman, riding on a very fast slender white horse. A queen's crown she had on her head, and a dark cloak of silk down to the ground, having stars of red gold on it; and her eyes were blue and as clear as the dew on the grass, and a gold ring hanging down from every golden lock of her hair; and her cheeks redder than the rose, and her skin whiter than the swan upon the wave, and her lips as sweet as honey that is mixed through red wine.

 

And in her hand she was holding a bridle having a golden bit, and there was a saddle worked with red gold under her. And as to the horse, he had a wide smooth cloak over him, and a silver crown on the back of his head, and he was shod with shining gold.

 

She came to where Finn was, and she spoke with a very kind, gentle voice, and she said: "It is long my journey was, King of the Fianna." And Finn asked who was she, and what was her country and the cause of her coming. "Niamh of the Golden Head is my name," she said; "and I have a name beyond all the women of the world, for I am the daughter of the King of the Country of the Young." "What was it brought you to us from over the sea, Queen?" said Finn then. "Is it that your husband is gone from you, or what is the trouble that is on you?" "My husband is not gone from me," she said, "for I never went yet to any man. But O King of the Fianna," she said, "I have given my love and affection to your own son, Oisin of the strong hands." "Why did you give your love to him beyond all the troops of high princes that are under the sun?" said Finn. "It was by reason of his great name, and of the report I heard of his bravery and of his comeliness," she said. "And though there is many a king's son and high prince gave me his love, I never consented to any till I set my love on Oisin."

 

When Oisin heard what she was saying, there was not a limb of his body that was not in love with beautiful Niamh; and he took her hand in his hand, and he said: "A true welcome before you to this country, young queen. It is you are the shining one," he said; "it is you are the nicest and the comeliest; it is you are better to me than any other woman; it is you are my star and my choice beyond the women of the entire world." "I put on you the bonds of a true hero," said Niamh then, "you to come away with me now to the Country of the Young." And it is what she said:

 

"It is the country is most delightful of all that are under the sun; the trees are stooping down with fruit and with leaves and with blossom.

 

"Honey and wine are plentiful there, and everything the eye has ever seen; no wasting will come on you with the wasting away of time; you will never see death or lessening.

 

"You will get feasts, playing and drinking; you will get sweet music on the strings; you will get silver and gold and many jewels.

 

"You will get, and no lie in it, a hundred swords; a hundred cloaks of the dearest silk; a hundred horses, the quickest in battle; a hundred willing bounds.

 

"You will get the royal crown of the King of the Young that he never gave to any one under the sun. It will be a shelter to you night and day in every rough fight and in every battle.

 

"You will get a right suit of armour; a sword, gold-hilted, apt for striking; no one that ever saw it got away from it.

 

"A hundred coats of armour and shirts of satin; a hundred cows and a hundred calves; a hundred sheep having golden fleeces; a hundred jewels that are not of this world.

 

"A hundred glad young girls shining like the sun, their voices sweeter than the music of birds; a hundred armed men strong in battle, apt at feats, waiting on you, if you will come with me to the Country of the Young.

 

"You will get everything I have said to you, and delights beyond them, that I have no leave to tell; you will get beauty, strength and power, and I myself will be with you as a wife."

 

And after she had made that song, Oisin said: "O pleasant golden-haired queen, you are my choice beyond the women of the world; and I will go with you willingly," he said.

 

And with that he kissed Finn his father and bade him farewell, to the rest of the Fianna, and he went up then on the horse with Niamh.

 

And the horse set out gladly, and when he came to the strand he shook himself and he neighed three times, and then he made for the sea. And when Finn and the Fianna saw Oisin facing the wide sea, they gave three great sorrowful shouts. And as to Finn, he said: "It is my grief to see you going from me; and I am without a hope," he said, "ever to see you coming back to me again."

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Part II Book X: The Last of the Great Men

 

AND indeed that was the last time Finn and Oisin and the rest of the Fianna of Ireland were gathered together, for hunting, for battle, for chess-playing, for drinking or for music; for they all wore away after that, one after another.

 

As to Caoilte, that was old and had lost his sons, he used to be fretting and lonesome after the old times. And one day that there was very heavy snow on the ground, he made this complaint:--

 

"It is cold the winter is; the wind is risen; the fierce high couraged stag rises up; it is cold the whole mountain is to-night, yet the fierce stag is calling. The deer of Slievecarn of the gatherings does not lay his side to the ground; he no less than the stag of the top of cold Echtge hears the music of the wolves.

 

"I, Caoilte, and brown-haired Diarmuid and pleasant light-footed Osgar, we used to be listening to the music of the wolves through the end of the cold night. It is well the brown deer sleeps with its hide to the hollow, hidden as if in the earth, through the end of the cold night.

 

"To-day I am in my age, and I know but a few men; I used to shake my spear bravely in the ice-cold morning. It is often I put silence on a great army that is very cold to-night."

 

And after a while he went into a hill of the Sidhe to be healed of his old wounds. And whether he came back from there or not is not known; and there are some that say he used to be talking with Patrick of the Bells the same time Oisin was with him. But that is not likely, or Oisin would not have made complaints about his loneliness the way he did.

 

But a long time after that again, there was a king of Ireland making a journey. And he and his people missed their way, and when night-time came on, they were in a dark wood, and no path before them.

 

And there came to them a very tall man, that was shining like a burning flame, and he took hold of the bridle of the king's horse, and led him through the wood till they came to the right road. And the King of lreland asked him who was he, and first he said:

 

"I am your candlestick"; and then he said: "I was with Finn one time." And the king knew it was Caoilte, son of Ronan, was in it.

 

And three times nine of the rest of the Fianna came out of the west one time to Teamhair. And they took notice that now they were wanting their full strength and their great name, no one took notice of them or came to speak with them at all. And when they saw that, they lay down on the side of the bill at Teamhair, and put their lips to the earth and died.

 

And for three days and a month and a year from the time of the destruction of the Fianna of Ireland, Loch Dearg was under mists.

 

 

 

 

And as to Finn, there are some say he died by the hand of a fisherman; but it is likely that is not true, for that would be no death for so great a man as Finn, son of Cumhal And there are some say he never died, but is alive in some place yet.

 

And one time a smith made his way into a cave he saw, that had a door to it, and he made a key that opened it. And when he went in he saw a very wide place, and very big men lying on the floor. And one that was bigger than the rest was lying in the middle, and the Dord Fiann beside him; and he knew it was Finn and the Fianna were in it.

 

And the smith took bold of the Dord Fiann, and it is hardly he could lift it to his mouth, and he blew a very strong blast on it, and the sound it made was so great, it is much the rocks did not come down on him. And at the sound, the big men lying on the ground shook from head to foot. He gave another blast then, and they all turned on their elbows.

 

And great dread came on him when he saw that, and he threw down the Dord Fiann and ran from the cave and locked the door after him, and threw the key into the lake. And he heard them crying after him, "You left us worse than you found us." And the cave was not found again since that time.

 

But some say the day will come when the Dord Fiann will be sounded three times, and that at the sound of it the Fianna will rise up as strong and as well as ever they were. And there are some say Finn, son of Cumhal, has been on the earth now and again since the old times, in the shape of one of the heroes of Ireland.

 

And as to the great things he and his men did when they were together, it is well they have been kept in mind through the poets of Ireland and of Alban. And one night there were two men minding sheep in a valley, and they were saying the poems of the Fianna while they were there. And they saw two very tall shapes on the two hills on each side of the valley, and one of the tall shapes said to the other: "Do you hear that man down below? I was the second doorpost of battle at Gabhra, and that man knows all about it better than myself."

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Part II Book XI: Oisin's Story

 

As to Oisin, it was a long time after he was brought away by Niamh that be came back again to Ireland. Some say it was hundreds of years he was in the Country of the Young, and some say it was thousands of years he was in it; but whatever time it was, it seemed short to him.

 

And whatever happened him through the time he was away, it is a withered old man he was found after coming back to Ireland, and his white horse going away from him, and he lying on the ground.

 

And it was S. Patrick had power at that time, and it was to him Oisin was brought; and he kept him in his house, and used to be teaching him and questioning him. And Oisin was no way pleased with the way Ireland was then, but he used to be talking of the old times, and fretting after the Fianna.

 

And Patrick bade him to tell what happened him the time he left Finn and the Fianna and went away with Niamh. And it is the story Oisin told:--

 

"The time I went away with golden-haired Niamh, we turned our backs to the land, and our faces westward, and the sea was going away before us, and filling up in waves after us. And we saw wonderful things on our journey," he said, "cities and courts and duns and lime-white houses, and shining sunny-houses and palaces. And one time we saw beside us a hornless deer running hard, and an eager white red-eared hound following after it. And another time we saw a young girl on a horse and having a golden apple in her right hand, and she going over the tops of the waves; and there was following after her a young man riding a white horse, and having a crimson cloak and a gold-hilted sword in his right hand."

 

"Follow on with your story, pleasant Oisin," said Patrick, "for you did not tell us yet what was the country you went to."

 

"The country of the Young, the Country of Victory, it was," said Oisin. "And O Patrick," he said, "there is no lie in that name; and if there are grandeurs in your Heaven the same as there are there, I would give my friendship to God.

 

"We turned our backs then to the dun," he said, "and the horse under us was quicker than the spring wind on the backs of the mountains. And it was not long till the sky darkened, and the wind rose in every part, and the sea was as if on fire, and there was nothing to be seen of the sun.

 

"But after we were looking at the clouds and the stars for a while the wind went down, and the storm, and the sun brightened. And we saw before us a very delightful country under full blossom, and smooth plains in it, and a king's dun that was very grand, and that had every colour in it, and sunny-houses beside it, and palaces of shining stones, made by skilled men. And we saw coming out to meet us three fifties of armed men, very lively and handsome. And I asked Niamh was this the County of the Young, and she said it was. 'And indeed, Oisin,' she said. 'I told you no lie about it, and you will see all I promised you before you for ever.'

 

"And there came out after that a hundred beautiful young girls, having cloaks of silk worked with gold, and they gave me a welcome to their own country. And after that there came a great shining army, and with it a strong beautiful king, having a shirt of yellow silk and a golden cloak over it, and a very bright crown on his head. And there was following after him a young queen, and fifty young girls along with her.

 

"And when all were come to the one spot, the king took me by the hand, and he said out before them all: 'A hundred thousand welcomes before you, Oisin, son of Finn. And as to this country you are come to,' he said, 'I will tell you news of it without a lie. It is long and lasting your life will be in it, and you yourself will be young for ever. And there is no delight the heart ever thought of,' he said, 'but it is here against your coming. And you can believe my words, Oisin,' he said, 'for I myself am the King of the Country of the Young, and this is its comely queen, and it was golden-headed Niamh our daughter that went over the sea looking for you to be her husband for ever.' I gave thanks to him then, and I stooped myself down before the queen, and we went forward to the royal house, and all the high nobles came out to meet us, both men and women, and there was a great feast made there through the length of ten days and ten nights.

 

"And that is the way I married Niamh of the Golden Hair, and that is the way I went to the County of the Young, although it is sorrowful to me to be telling it now, O Patrick from Rome," said Oisin.

 

"Follow on with your story, Oisin of the destroying arms," said Patrick, "and tell me what way did you leave the Country of the Young, for it is long to me till I hear that; and tell us now had you any children by Niamh, and was it long you were in that place."

 

'Two beautiful children I had by Niamh," said Oisin, "two young sons and a comely daughter. And Niamh gave the two sons the name of Finn and of Osgar, and the name l gave to the daughter was The Flower.

 

"And I did not feel the time passing, and it was a long time I stopped there," he said, "till the desire came on me to see Finn and my comrades again. And I asked leave of the king and of Niamh to go back to Ireland. 'You will get leave from me,' said Niamh; 'but for all that,' she said, 'it is bad news you are giving me, for I am in dread you will never come back here again through the length of your days.' But I bade her have no fear, since the white horse would bring me safe back again from Ireland. 'Bear this in mind, Oisin,' she said then, 'if you once get off the horse while you are away, or if you once put your foot to ground, you will never come back here again. And O Oisin,' she said, 'I tell it to you now for the third time, if you once get down from the horse, you will be an old man, blind and withered, without liveliness, without mirth, without running, without leaping. And it is a grief to me, Oisin,' she said, 'you ever to go back to green Ireland; and it is not now as it used to be, and you will not see Finn and his people, for there is not now in the whole of Ireland but a Father of Orders and armies of saints; and here is my kiss for you, pleasant Oisin,' she said, for you will never come back any more to the County of the Young.'

 

"And that is my story, Patrick, and I have told you no lie in it," said Oisin. "And O Patrick," he said, "if I was the same the day I came here as I was that day, I would have made an end of all your clerks, and there would not be a head left on a neck after me."

 

"Go on with your story," said Patrick, "and you will get the same good treatment from me you got from Finn, for the sound of your voice is pleasing to me."

 

So Oisin went on with his story, and it is what he said: "I have nothing to tell of my journey till I came back into green Ireland, and I looked about me then on all sides, but there were no tidings to be got of Finn. And it was not long till I saw a great troop of riders, men and women, coming towards me from the west. And when they came near they wished me good health; and there was wonder on them all when they looked at me, seeing me so unlike themselves, and so big and so tall.

 

"I asked them then did they hear if Finn was still living, or any other one of the Finnna, or what had happened them. 'We often heard of Finn that lived long ago,' said they, 'and that there never was his equal for strength or bravery or a great name; and there is many a book written down,' they said, 'by the sweet poets of the Gael, about his doings and the doings of the Fianna, and it would be hard for us to tell you all of them. And we heard Finn had a son,' they said, 'that was beautiful and shining, and that there came a young girl looking for him, and he went away with her to the Country of the Young.'

 

"And when I knew by their talk that Finn was not living or any of the Fianna, it is downhearted I was, and tired, and very sorrowful after them. And I made no delay, but I turned my face and went on to Almhuin of Leinster. And there was great wonder on me when I came there to see no sign at all of Finn's great dun, and his great hall, and nothing in the place where it was but weeds and nettles."

 

And there was grief on Oisin then, and he said: "Och, Patrick! Och, ochone, my grief! It is a bad journey that was to me; and to be without tidings of Finn or the Fianna has left me under pain through my lifetime."

 

"Leave off fretting, Oisin," said Patrick, "and shed your tears to the God of grace. Finn and the Fianna are slack enough now, and they will get no help for ever." "It is a great pity that would be," said Oisin, "Finn to be in pain for ever; and who was it gained the victory over him, when his own hand had made an end of so many a hard fighter?"

 

"It is God gained the victory over Finn," said Patrick, "and not the strong hand of an enemy; and as to the Fianna, they are condemned to hell along with him, and tormented for ever."

 

"O Patrick," said Oisin, "show me the place where Finn and his people are, and there is not a hell or a heaven there but I will put it down. And if Osgar, my own son, is there," he said, "the hero that was bravest in heavy battles, there is not in hell or in the Heaven of God a troop so great that he could not destroy it."

 

"Let us leave off quarrelling on each side now," said Patrick; "and go on, Oisin, with your story. What happened you after you knew the Fianna to be at an end?"

 

"I will tell you that, Patrick," said Oisin. "I was turning to go away, and I saw the stone trough that the Fianna used to be putting their hands in, and it full of water. And when I saw it I had such a wish and such a feeling for it that I forgot what I was told, and I got off the horse. And in the minute all the years came on me, and I was lying on the ground, and the horse took fright and went away and left me there, an old man, weak and spent, without sight, without shape, without comeliness, without strength or understanding, without respect.

 

"There, Patrick, is my story for you now," said Oisin, "and no lie in it, of all that happened me going away and coming back again from the County of the Young."

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Part II Book XI: Oisin in Patrick's House

 

AND Oisin stopped on with S. Patrick, but he was not very well content with the way he was treated. And one time he said: "They say I am getting food, but God knows I am not, or drink; and I Oisin, son of Finn, under a yoke, drawing stones." "It is my opinion you are getting enough," said S. Patrick then, "and you getting a quarter of beef and a churn of butter and a griddle of bread every day." "I often saw a quarter of a blackbird bigger than your quarter of beef," said Oisin, "and a rowan berry as big as your churn of butter, and an ivy leaf as big as your griddle of bread." S. Patrick was vexed when he heard that, and he said to Oisin that he had told a lie.

 

There was great anger on Oisin then, and he went where there was a litter of pups, and he bade a serving-boy to nail up the hide of a freshly killed bullock to the wall, and to throw the pups against it one by one. And every one that he threw fell down from the hide till it came to the last, and he held on to it with his teeth and his nails. "Rear that one," said Oisin, "and drown all the rest."

 

Then he bade the boy to keep the pup in a dark place, and to care it well, and never to let it taste blood or see the daylight. And at the end of a year, Oisin was so well pleased with the pup, that be gave it the name of Bran Og, young Bran.

 

And one day he called to the serving-boy to come on a journey with him, and to bring the pup in a chain. And they set out and passed by Slieve-nam-ban, where the witches of the Sidhe do be spinning with their spinning-wheels; and then they turned eastward into Gleann-na-Smol. And Oisin raised a rock that was there, and he bade the lad take from under it three things, a great sounding horn of the Fianna, and a ball of iron they had for throwing, and a very sharp sword. And when Oisin saw those things, he took them in his hands, and he said: "My thousand farewells to the day when you were put here!" He bade the lad to clean them well then; and when he had done that, he bade him to sound a blast on the horn.

 

So the boy did that, and Oisin asked him did he see anything strange. "I did not," said the boy. "Sound it again as loud as you can," said Oisin. "That is as hard as I can sound it, and I can see nothing yet," said the boy when he had done that. Then Oisin took the horn himself, and he put it to his mouth, and blew three great blasts on it. "What do you see now?" he said. "I see three great clouds coming," he said, "and they are settling down in the valley; and the first cloud is a flight of very big birds, and the second cloud is a flight of birds that are bigger again, and the third flight is of the biggest and the blackest birds the world ever saw." "What is the dog doing?" said Oisin. "The eyes are starting from his head, and there is not a rib of hair on him but is standing up." "Let him loose now," said Oisin.

 

The dog rushed down to the valley then, and he made an attack on one of the birds, that was the biggest of all, and that had a shadow like a cloud. And they fought a very fierce fight, but at last Bran Og made an end of the big bird, and lapped its blood. But if he did, madness came on him, and he came rushing back towards Oisin, his jaws open and his eyes like fire. "There is dread on me, Oisin," said the boy, "for the dog is making for us, mad and raging." "Take this iron ball and make a cast at him when he comes near," said Oisin. "I am in dread to do that," said the boy. "Put it in my hand, and turn it towards him," said Oisin. The boy did that, and Oisin made a cast of the ball that went into the mouth and the throat of the dog, and choked him, and he fell down the slope, twisting and foaming.

 

Then they went where the great bird was left dead, and Oisin bade the lad to cut a quarter off it with the sword, and he did so. And then he bade him cut open the body, and in it he found a rowan berry, the biggest he bad ever seen, and an ivy leaf that was bigger than the biggest griddle.

 

So Oisin turned back then, and went to where S. Patrick was, and he showed him the quarter of the bird that was bigger than any quarter of a bullock, and the rowan berry that was bigger than a churning of butter, and the leaf. "And you know now, Patrick of the Bells," he said, "that I told no lie; and it is what kept us all through our lifetime," he said, "truth that was in our hearts, and strength in our arms, and fulfilment in our tongues."

 

"You told no lie indeed," said Patrick.

 

 

 

 

 

And when Oisin had no sight left at all, he used every night to put up one of the serving-men on his shoulders, and to bring him out to see how were the cattle doing. And one night the servants had no mind to go, and they agreed together to tell him it was a very bad night.

 

And it is what the first of them said; "It is outside there is a heavy sound with the heavy water dropping from the tops of trees; the sound of the waves is not to be heard for the loud splashing of the rain." And then the next one said: "The trees of the wood are shivering, and the birch is turning black; the snow is killing the birds; that is the story outside." And the third said: "It is to the east they have turned their face, the white snow and the dark rain; it is what is making the plain so cold is the snow that is dripping and getting hard."

 

But there was a serving-girl in the house, and she said: "Rise up, Oisin, and go out to the white-headed cows, since the cold wind is plucking the trees from the hills."

 

Oisin went out then, and the serving-man on his shoulders; but it is what the serving-man did, he brought a vessel of water and a birch broom with him, and he was dashing water in Oisin's face, the way he would think it was rain. But when they came to the pen where the cattle were, Oisin found the night was quiet, and after that he asked no more news of the weather from the servants.

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Part II Book XI: The Arguments

 

AND S. Patrick took in hand to convert Oisin, and to bring him to baptism; but it was no easy work he had to do, and everything he would say, Oisin would have an answer for it. And it is the way they used to be talking and arguing with one another, as it was put down afterwards by the poets of Ireland:--

 

PATRICK. "Oisin, it is long your sleep is. Rise up and listen to the Psalm. Your strength and your readiness are gone from you, though you used to be going into rough fights and battles."

 

OISIN. "My readiness and my strength are gone from me since Finn has no armies living; I have no liking for clerks, their music is not sweet to me after his."

 

PATRICK. "You never heard music so good from the beginning of the world to this day; it is well you would serve an army on a hill, you that are old and silly and grey."

 

OISIN. "I used to serve an army on a hill, Patrick of the closed-up mind; it is a pity you to be faulting me; there was never shame put on me till now.

 

"I have heard music was sweeter than your music, however much you are praising your clerks: the song of the blackbird in Leiter Laoi, and the sound of the Dord Fiann; the very sweet thrush of the Valley of the Shadow, or the sound of the boats striking the strand. The cry of the hounds was better to me than the noise of your schools, Patrick.

 

"Little Nut, little Nut of my heart, the little dwarf that was with Finn, when he would make tunes and songs he would put us all into deep sleep.

 

"The twelve hounds that belonged to Finn, the time they would be let loose facing out from the Siuir, their cry was sweeter than harps and than pipes.

 

"I have a little story about Finn; we were but fifteen men; we took the King of the Saxons of the feats, and we won a battle against the King of Greece.

 

"We fought nine battles in Spain, and nine times twenty battles in Ireland: from Lochlann and from the eastern world there was a share of gold coming to Finn.

 

"My grief! I to be stopping after him, and without delight in games or in music; to be withering away after my comrades; my grief it is to be living. I and the clerks of the Mass books are two that can never agree.

 

"If Finn and the Fianna were living, I would leave the clerks and the bells; I would follow the deer through the valleys, I would like to be close on his track.

 

"Ask Heaven of God, Patrick, for Finn of the Fianna and his race; make prayers for the great man; you never heard of his like."

 

PATRICK. "I will not ask Heaven for Finn, man of good wit that my anger is rising against, since his delight was to be living in valleys with the noise of hunts."

 

OISIN. "If you had been in company with the Fianna, Patrick of the joyless clerks and of the bells, you would not be attending on schools or giving heed to God."

 

PATRICK. "I would not part from the Son of God for all that have lived east or west; O Oisin, O shaking poet there will harm come on you in satisfaction for the priests."

 

OISIN. "It was a delight to Finn the cry of his hounds on the mountains, the wild dogs leaving their harbours, the pride of his armies, those were his delights."

 

PATRICK. "There was many a thing Finn took delight in, and there is not much heed given to it after him; Finn and his hounds are not living now, and you yourself will not always be living, Oisin.

 

OISIN. "There is a greater story of Finn than of us, or of any that have lived in our time; all that are gone and all that are living, Finn was better to give out gold than themselves."

 

PATRICK. "All the gold you and Finn used to be giving out, it is little it does for you now; he is in Hell in bonds because he did treachery and oppression."

 

OISIN. "It is little I believe of your truth, man from Rome with the white books, Finn the open-handed head of the Fianna to be in the hands of devils or demons."

 

PATRICK. "Finn is in bonds in Hell, the pleasant man that gave out gold; in satisfaction for his disrespect to God, he is under grief in the house of pain."

 

OISIN. "If the sons of Morna were within it, or the strong men of the sons of Baiscne, they would take Finn out of it, or they would have the house for themselves."

 

PATRICK. "If the five provinces of Ireland were within it, or the strong seven battalions of the Fianna, they would not be able to bring Finn out of it, however great their strength might be."

 

OISIN. "If Faolan and Goll were living, and brown-haired Diarmuid and brave Osgar, Finn of the Fianna could not be held in any house that was made by God or devils."

 

PATRICK. "If Faolan and Goll were living, and all the Fianna that ever were, they could not bring out Finn from the house where he is in pain."

 

OISIN. 'What did Finn do against God but to be attending on schools and on armies? Giving gold through a great part of his time, and for another while trying his hounds."

 

PATRICK. "In payment for thinking of his hounds and for serving the schools of the poets, and because he gave no heed to God, Finn of the Fianna is held down."

 

OISIN. "You say, Patrick of the Psalms, that the Fianna could not take out Finn, or the five provinces of Ireland along with them.

 

"I have a little story about Finn. We were but fifteen men when we took the King of Britain of the feasts by the strength of our spears and our own strength.

 

"We took Magnus the great, the son of the King of Lochlann of the speckled ships; we came back no way sorry or tired, we put our rent on far places.

 

"O Patrick, the story is pitiful, the King of the Fianna to be under locks; a heart without envy, without hatred, a heart bard in earning victory.

 

"It is an injustice, God to be unwilling to give food and riches; Finn never refused strong or poor, although cold Hell is now his dwelling-place.

 

"It is what Finn had a mind for, to be listening to the sound of Druim Dearg; to sleep at the stream of Ess Ruadh, to be hunting the deer of Gallimh of the bays.

 

"The cries of the blackbird of Leiter Laoi, the wave of Rud-raighe beating the strand, the bellowing of the ox of Magh Maoin, the lowing of the calf of Gleann da Mhail.

 

"The noise of the hunt on Slieve Crot, the sound of the fawns round Slieve Cua, the scream of the sea-gulls there beyond on Iorrus, the screech of the crows over the battle.

 

"The waves vexing the breasts of the boats, the howling of the hounds at Druim Lis; the voice of Bran on Cnoc-an-Air, the outcry of the streams about Slieve Mis.

 

"The call of Osgar going to the hunt; the voice of the hounds on the road of the Fianna, to be listening to them and to the poets, that was always his desire.

 

"A desire of the desires of Osgar was to listen to the striking of shields; to be hacking at bones in a battle, it is what he had a mind for always.

 

"We went westward one time to hunt at Formaid of the Fianna to see the first running of our hounds.

 

"It was Finn was holding Bran, and it is with myself Sceolan was; Diarmuid of the Women had Fearan, and Osgar had lucky Adhnuall.

 

"Conan the Bald had Searc; Caoilte, son of Ronan, had DaoI; Lugaidh's Son and Goll were holding Fuaim and Fothran.

 

"That was the first day we loosed out a share of our hounds to a hunting; and Och! Patrick, of all that were in it, there is not one left living but myself.

 

"O Patrick, it is a pity the way I am now, a spent old man without sway, without quickness, without strength, going to Mass at the altar.

 

"Without the great deer of Slieve Luchra; without the hares of Slieve Cuilinn; without going into fights with Finn; without listening to the poets.

 

"Without battles, without taking of spoils; without playing at nimble feats; without going courting or hunting, two trades that were my delight."

 

PATRICK. "Leave off, old man, leave your foolishness; let what you have done be enough for you from this out. Think on the pains that are before you; the Fianna are gone, and you yourself will be going."

 

OISIN. "If I go, may yourself not be left after me, Patrick of the hindering heart; if Conan, the least of the Fianna, were living, your buzzing would not be left long to you.

 

"Or if this was the day I gave ten hundred cows to the headless woman that came to the Valley of the Two Oxen; the birds of the air brought away the ring I gave her, I never knew where she went herself from me."

 

PATRICK. "That is little to trouble you, Oisin; it was but for a while she was with you; it is better for you to be as you are than to be among them again."

 

OISIN. "O Son of Calphurn of the friendly talk, it is a pity for him that gives respect to clerks and bells; I and Caoilte my friend, we were not poor when we were together.

 

"The music that put Finn to his sleep was the cackling of the ducks from the lake of the Three Narrows; the scolding talk of the blackbird of Doire an Cairn, the bellowing of the ox from the Valley of the Berries.

 

"The whistle of the eagle from the Valley of Victories, or from the rough branches of the ridge by the stream; the grouse of the heather of Cruachan; the call of the otter of Druim-re-Coir.

 

"The song of the blackbird of Doire an Cairn indeed I never heard sweeter music, if I could be under its nest.

 

"My grief that I ever took baptism; it is little credit I got by it, being without food, without drink, doing fasting and praying."

 

PATRICK. "In my opinion it did not harm you, old man; you will get nine score cakes of bread, wine and meat to put a taste on it; it is bad talk you are giving."

 

OISIN. "This mouth that is talking with you, may it never confess to a priest, if I would not sooner have the leavings of Finn's house than a share of your own meals."

 

PATRICK. "He got but what he gathered from the banks, or whatever be could kill on the rough hills; he got hell at the last because of his unbelief."

 

OISIN. "That was not the way with us at all, but our fill of wine and of meat; justice and a right beginning at the feasts, sweet drinks and every one drinking them.

 

"It is fretting after Diarmuid and Goll I am, and after Fergus of the True Lips, the time you will not let me be speaking of them, O new Patrick from Rome."

 

PATRICK. "We would give you leave to be speaking of them, but first you should give heed to God. Since you are now at the end of your days, leave your foolishness, weak old man."

 

OISIN. "O Patrick, tell me as a secret, since it is you have the best knowledge, will my dog or my hound be let in with me to the court of the King of Grace?"

 

PATRICK. "Old man in your foolishness that I cannot put any bounds to, your dog or your hound will not be let in with you to the court of the King of Power."

 

OISIN. "If I had acquaintance with God, and my hound to be at hand, I would make whoever gave food to myself give a share to my hound as well.

 

"One strong champion that was with the Fianna of Ireland would be better than the Lord of Piety, and than you yourself, Patrick."

 

PATRICK. "O Oisin of the sharp blades, it is mad words you are saying. God is better for one day than the whole of the Fianna of Ireland."

 

OISIN. "Though I am now without sway and my life is spent to the end, do not put abuse, Patrick, on the great men of the sons of Baiscne.

 

"If I had Conan with me, the man that used to be running down the Fianna, it is he would break your head within among your clerks and your priests."

 

PATRICK. "It is a silly thing, old man, to be talking always of the Fianna; remember your end is come, and take the Son of God to help you."

 

OISIN. "I used to sleep out on the mountain under the grey dew; I was never used to go to bed without food, while there was a deer on the hill beyond."

 

PATRICK. "You are astray at the end of your life between the straight way and the crooked. Keep out from the crooked path of pains, and the angels of God will come beneath your head."

 

OISIN. "If myself and open-handed Fergus and Diarmuid were together now on this spot, we would go in every path we ever went in, and ask no leave of the priests."

 

PATRICK. "Leave off, Oisin; do not be speaking against the priests that are telling the word of God in every place. Unless you leave off your daring talk, it is great pain you will have in the end."

 

OISIN. "When myself and the leader of the Fianna were looking for a boar in a valley, it was worse to me not to see it than all your clerks to be without their heads."

 

PATRICK. "It is pitiful seeing you without sense; that is worse to you than your blindness; if you were to get sight within you, it is great your desire would be for Heaven."

 

OISIN. "It is little good it would be to me to be sitting in that city, without Caoilte, without Osgar, without my father being with me.

 

"The leap of the buck would be better to me, or the sight of badgers between two valleys, than all your mouth is promising me, and all the delights I could get in Heaven."

 

PATRICK. "Your thoughts are foolish, they will come to nothing; your pleasure and your mirth are gone. Unless you will take my advice to-night, you will not get leave on this side or that"

 

OISIN. "If myself and the Fianna were on the top of a bill to-day drawing our spear-heads, we would have our choice of being here or there in spite of books and priests and bells."

 

PATRICK. "You were like the smoke of a wisp, or like a stream in a valley, or like a whirling wind on the topof a bill, every tribe of you that ever lived."

 

OISIN. "If I was in company with the people of strong arms, the way l was at Bearna da Coill, I would sooner be looking at them than at this troop of the crooked croziers.

 

"If I had Scolb Sceine with me, or Osgar, that was smart in battles, I would not be without meat to-night at the sound of the bell of the seven tolls."

 

PATRICK. "Oisin, since your wits are gone from you be glad at what I say; it is certain to me you will leave the Fianna and that you will receive the God of the stars."

 

OISIN. "There is wonder on me at your hasty talk, priest that has travelled in every part, to say that I would part from the Fianna, a generous people, never niggardly."

 

PATRICK. "If you saw the people of God, the way they are settled at feasts, every good thing is more plentiful with them than with Finn's people, however great their name was.

 

"Finn and the Fianna are lying now very sorrowful on the flag-stone of pain; take the Son of God in their place; make your repentance and do not lose Heaven."

 

OISIN. "I do not believe your talk now, O Patrick of the crooked staves, Finn and the Fianna to be there within, unless they find pleasure being in it."

 

PATRICK: "Make right repentance now, before you know when your end is coming; God is better for one hour than the whole of the Fianna of Ireland."

 

OISIN. "That is a daring answer to make to me, Patrick of the crooked crozier; your crozier would be in little bits if I had Osgar with me now.

 

"If my son Osgar and God were hand to hand on the Hill of the Fianna, if I saw my son put down, I would say that God was a strong man.

 

"How could it be that God or his priests could be better men than Finn, the King of the Fianna, a generous man without crookedness.

 

"If there was a place above or below better than the Heaven of God, it is there Finn would go, and all that are with him of his people.

 

"You say that a generous man never goes to the hell of pain; there was not one among the Fianna that was not generous to all.

 

"Ask of God, Patrick, does He remember when the Fianna were alive, or has He seen east or west any man better than themselves in their fighting.

 

"The Fianna used not to be saying treachery; we never had the name of telling lies. By truth and the strength of our hands we came safe out of every battle.

 

"There never sat a priest in a church, though you think it sweet to be singing psalms, was better to his word than the Fianna, or more generous than Finn himself.

 

"If my comrades were living to-night, I would take no pleasure in your crooning in the church; as they are not living now, the rough voice of the bells has deafened me.

 

"Och! in the place of battles and heavy fights, where I used to have my place and to take my pleasure, the crozier of Patrick being carried; and his clerks at their quarrelling.

 

"Och! slothful, cheerless Conan, it is great abuse I used to be giving you; why do you not come to see me now? you would get leave for making fun and reviling through the whole of the niggardly clerks.

 

'Och! where are the strong men gone that they do not come together to help me! O Osgar of the sharp sword of victory, come and free your father from his bonds!

 

"Where is the strong son of Lugaidh? Och! Diarmuid of all the women! Och! Caoilte, son of Ronan, think of our love, and travel to me!"

 

PATRICK. "Stop your talk, you withered, witless old man; it is my King that made the Heavens, it is He that gives blossom to the trees, it is He made the moon and the sun, the fields and the grass."

 

OISIN. "It was not in shaping fields and grass that my king took his delight, but in overthrowing fighting men, and defending countries, and bringing his name into every part.

 

"In courting, in playing, in hunting, in baring his banner at the first of a fight; in playing at chess, at swimming, in looking around him at the drinking-hall.

 

"O Patrick, where was your God when the two came over the sea that brought away the queen of Lochlann of the Ships? Where was He when Dearg came, the son of the King of Lochlann of the golden shields? Why did not the King of Heaven protect them from the blows of the big man?

 

"Or when Tailc, son of Treon, came, the man that did great slaughter on the Fianna; it was not by God that champion fell, but by Osgar, in the sight of all.

 

"Many a battle and many a victory was gained by the Fianna of Ireland; I never heard any great deed was done by the King of Saints, or that He ever reddened His hand.

 

"It would be a great shame for God not to take the locks of pain off Finn; if God Himself were in bonds, my king would fight for His sake.

 

"Finn left no one in pain or in danger without freeing him by silver or gold, or by fighting till he got the victory.

 

"For the strength of your love, Patrick, do not forsake the great men; bring in the Fianna unknown to the King of Heaven.

 

"It is a good claim I have on your God, to be among his clerks the way I am; without food, without clothing, without music, without giving rewards to poets.

 

"Without the cry of the hounds or the horns, without guarding coasts, without courting generous women; for all that I have suffered by the want of food, I forgive the King of Heaven in my will"

 

OISIN said: "My story is sorrowful. The sound of your voice is not pleasant to me. I will cry my fill, but not for God, but because Finn and the Fianna are not living."

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Part II Book XI: Oisin's Lament

 

AND Oisin used to be making laments, and sometimes he would be making praises of the old times and of Finn; and these are some of them that are remembered yet:--

 

I saw the household of Finn; it was not the household of a soft race; I had a vision of that man yesterday.

 

I saw the household of the High King, he with the brown, sweet-voiced son; I never saw a better man.

 

I saw the household of Finn; no one saw it as I saw it; I saw Finn with the sword, Mac an Luin. Och! it was sorrowful to see it.

 

I cannot tell out every harm that is on my head; free us from our trouble for ever; I have seen the household of Finn.

 

 

 

 

 

It is a week from yesterday I last saw Finn; I never saw a braver man. A king of heavy blows; my law, my adviser, my sense and my wisdom, prince and poet, braver than kings, King of the Fianna, brave in all countries; golden salmon of the sea, clean hawk of the air, rightly taught, avoiding lies; strong in his doings, a right judge, ready in courage, a high messenger in bravery and in music.

 

His skin lime-white, his hair golden; ready to work, gentle to women. His great green vessels full of rough sharp wine, it is rich the king was, the head of his people.

 

Seven sides Finn's house had, and seven score shields on every side. Fifty fighting men he had about him having woollen cloaks; ten bright drinking-cups in his hall; ten blue vessels, ten golden horns.

 

It is a good household Finn had, without grudging, without lust, without vain boasting, without chattering, without any slur on any one of the Fianna.

 

Finn never refused any man; he never put away any one that came to his house. If the brown leaves falling in the woods were gold, if the white waves were silver, Finn would have given away the whole of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Blackbird of Doire an Chairn, your voice is sweet; I never heard on any height of the world music was sweeter than your voice, and you at the foot of your nest.

 

The music is sweetest in the world, it is a pity not to be listening to it for a while, O son of Calphurn of the sweet bells, and you would overtake your nones again

 

If you knew the story of the bird the way I know it, you would be crying lasting tears, and you would give no heed to your God for a while.

 

In the country of Lochlann of the blue streams, Finn, son of Cumhal, of the red-gold cups, found that bird you hear now; I will tell you its story truly.

 

Doire an Chairn, that wood there to the west, where the Fianna used to be delaying, it is there they put the blackbird, in the beauty of the pleasant trees.

 

The stag of the heather of quiet Cruachan, the sorrowful croak from the ridge of the Two Lakes; the voice of the eagle of the Valley of the Shapes, the voice of the cuckoo on the Hill of Brambles.

 

The voice of the hounds in the pleasant valley; the scream of the eagle on the edge of the wood; the early outcry of the hounds going over the Strand of the Red Stones.

 

The time Finn lived and the Fianna, it was sweet to them to be listening to the whistle of the blackbird; the voice of the bells would not have been sweet to them.

 

 

 

 

 

There was no one of the Fianna without his fine silken shirt and his soft coat, without bright armour, without shining stones on his bead, two spears in his hand, and a shield that brought victory.

 

If you were to search the world you would not find a harder man, best of blood, best in battle; no one got the upper hand of him. When be went out trying his white hound, which of us could be put beside Finn?

 

One time we went hunting on Slieve-nam-ban; the sun was beautiful overhead, the voice of the hounds went east and west, from hill to bill. Finn and Bran sat for a while on the hill, every man was jealous for the hunt. We let out three thousand hounds from their golden chains; every hound of them brought down two deer.

 

Patrick of the true crozier, did you ever see, east or west, a greater hunt than that hunt of Finn and the Fianna? O son of Calphurn of the bells, that day was better to me than to be listening to your lamentations in the church.

 

 

 

 

 

There is no strength in my hands to-night, there is no power within me; it is no wonder I to be sorrowful, being thrown down in the sorrow of old age.

 

Everything is a grief to me beyond any other man on the face of the earth, to be dragging stones along to the church and the hill of the priests.

 

I have a little story of our people. One time Finn had a mind to make a dun on the bald hill of Cuailgne, and he put it on the Fianna of Ireland to bring stones for building it; a third on the sons of Morna, a third on myself, and a third on the sons of Baiscne.

 

I gave an answer to Finn, son of Cumhal; I said I would be under his sway no longer, and that I would obey him no more.

 

When Finn heard that, be was silent a long time, the man without a lie, without fear. And he said to me then: "You yourself will be dragging stones before your death comes to you."

 

I rose up then with anger on me, and there followed me the fourth of the brave battalions of the Fianna. I gave my own judgments, there were many of the Fianna with me.

 

Now my strength is gone from me, I that was adviser to the Fianna; my whole body is tired to-night, my hands, my feet, and my head, tired, tired, tired.

 

It is bad the way I am after Finn of the Fianna; since he is gone away, every good is behind me.

 

Without great people, without mannerly ways; it is sorrowful I am after our king that is gone.

 

I am a shaking tree, my leaves gone from me; an empty nut, a horse without a bridle; a people without a dwelling-place, I Oisin, son of Finn.

 

 

 

 

 

It is long the clouds are over me to-night! It is long last night was; although this day is long, yesterday was longer again to me; every day that comes is long to me!

 

That is not the way I used to be, without fighting, without battles, without learning feats, without young girls, without music, without harps, without bruising bones, without great deeds; without increase of learning, without generosity, without drinking at feasts, without courting, without hunting, the two trades I was used to; without going out to battle Ochone! the want of them is sorrowful to me.

 

No hunting of deer or stag, it is not like that I would wish to be; no leashes for our hounds, no hounds; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!

 

Without rising up to do bravery as we were used, without playing as we had a mind; without swimming of our fighting men in the lake; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!

 

There is no one at all in the world the way I am: it is a pity the way I am; an old man dragging stones; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!

 

I am the last of the Fianna, great Oisin, son of Finn, listening to the voice of bells; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!

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