From Alexander MacNeill, tenant and fisherman, Barra.
THERE was an old king before now in Erin, 1 and a sister of his, whose name was MAOBH, had three sons. The eldest of them was Ferghus, the middlemost Lagh an Laidh, and the youngest one Conall.
He thought he would make an heir of the eldest one, Ferghus. He gave him the schooling of the son of a king and a "ridere," and when he was satisfied with school and learning he brought him home to the palace. Now they were in the palace.
Said the king, "I have passed this year well; the end of the year is coming now, and trouble and care are coming on with it."
"What trouble or care is coming on thee?" said the young man. "The vassals of the country are coming to reckon with me to-day." "Thou hast no need to be in trouble. It is proclaimed that I am the young heir, and it is set down in papers and in letters in each end of the realm. I will build a fine castle in front of the palace for thee. I will get carpenters, and stonemasons, and smiths to build that castle."
"Is that thy thought, son of my sister?" said the king. "Thou hadst neither claim nor right to the realm unless I myself had chosen to give it to thee with my own free will. Thou wilt not see thyself handling Erin till I go first under the mould."
"There will be a day of battle and combat before I let this go on," said the young man.
He went away, and he sailed to Alba. A message was sent up to the king of Alba that the young king of Erin was come to Alba to see him. He was taken up on the deadly points. 1 Meat was set in the place for eating; drink in the place for drinking; and music in the place for hearing; and they were plying the feast and the company.
"Oh! young king of Erin," said the king of Alba, "it was not without the beginning of some matter that thou art come to Alba."
"I should not wish to let out the knowledge of my matter till I should first know whether I may get it."
"Anything I have thou gettest it, for if I were seeking help, perhaps I would go to thee to get it."
"There came a word with trouble between me and my mother's brother. It was proclaimed out that I was king of Erin; and he said to me that I should have nothing to do with anything till a clod should first go on him. I wish to stand my right, and to get help from thee."
"I will give thee that," said the king; "three hundred swift heroes, three hundred brave heroes, three hundred full heroes; and that is not bad helping."
"I am without a chief over them, and I am as ill off as I was before; but I have another small request, and if I might get it, I would wish to let it out."
"Anything I have that I can part from, thou shalt get it," said the king; "but the thing I have not, I cannot give it to thee. Let out thy speech, and thou shalt have it."
"It is Boinne Breat, thy son, at their head."
"My torture to thee! had I not promised him to thee, thou hadst not got him. But there were not born in Alba, nor in Erin, nor in Sassun, nor in any one place (those) who would gain victory over my son if they keep to fair play. If my son does not come back as be went, the word of an Eriannach is never again to be taken, for it is by treachery he will be overcome."
They went away on the morrow, and they sailed to the king of Sassun. A message went up to the king of Sassun that the young king of Erin had come to the place. The king of Sassun took out to meet him. He was taken up on the deadly points; music was raised, and lament laid down in the palace of the king of Sassun; meat was set in the place for eating; drink in the place for drinking; music in the place of hearing; and they were plying the feast and the company with joy and pleasure of mind.
"Oh! young king of Erin," said the king of Sassun, "it is not without the end of a matter that thou art come here."
"I got the schooling of the son of a king and a ridere. My mother's brother took me home. He began to speak about the vassals of the country and the people of the realm; that care and trouble were on him; and that he had rather the end of the year had not come at all. Said I to him, 'I will build thee a palace, so that thou shalt have but to wash thy face, and stretch thy feet in thy shoes.' Said he, 'My sister's son, thou hadst no right to the realm, and thou gettest it not till a clod
goes on me, in spite of everything.' Said I, 'There will be a day of battle and combat between thee and me, before the matter is so.' I went away; I took my ship; I took a skipper with me; and I sailed to Alba. I reached Alba, and I got three hundred swift heroes, three hundred brave heroes, and three hundred full heroes; now I am come to thee to see what help thou wilt give me."
"I will give thee as many more, and a hero at their head," said the king of Sassun.
They went away, and they sailed to Erin. They went on shore on a crag in Erin, and the name of Carrig Fhearghuis is on that rock still. He reached the king. "Brother of my mother, art thou now ready?"--"Well, then, Fhearghuis, though I said that, I thought thou wouldst not take anger; but I have not gathered my lot of people yet."--"That is no answer for me. Thou hast Erin under thy rule. I am here with my men, and I have neither place, nor meat, nor drink for them."
"Oo!" said the king, "the storehouses of Erin are open beneath thee, and I will go away and gather my people."
He went away. He went all round Erin. He came to a place which they called "An t' Iubhar " (Newry). There was but one man in Iubhar, who was called Goibhlean Gobba (Goivlan Smith). He thought to go in, for thirst was on him; and that he would quench his thirst, and breathe a while. He went in. There was within but the smith's daughter. She brought him a chair in which he might sit. He asked for a drink. The smith's daughter did not know what she should do, for the smith had but one cow, which was called the Glas Ghoibhlean (Grey Goivlan), with the vessel he had for the milk of the cow; three times in the day it would go beneath the cow; three
times in the day thirst would be on him; and he would drink the vessel each time, and unless the daughter had the vessel full she was not to get off. She was afraid, when the king asked for a drink, that unless she had the vessel full her head would be taken off. It was so that she thought the vessel should be set before the king at all hazards. She brought down the vessel, and she set it before him. He drank a draught; he took out the fourth part, and he left three quarters in it. "I would rather you should take it out altogether than leave it. My father has made an oath that unless I have the vessel full, I have but to die."
"Well, then," said the king, "it is a spell of my spells to leave the vessel as full as it was before."
He set the vessel on the board, he struck his palm on it, and he struck off as much as was above the milk, and the vessel was full; and before he went away, the girl was his own.
"Now, thou art going, oh king of Erin, and I am shamed; what wilt thou leave with me?"
"I would give thee a thousand of each hue, a thousand of each kind, a thousand of each creature."
"What should I do with that, for I wilt not find salt in Erin to salt them?"
"I would give thee glens and high moors to feed them from year to year."
"What should I do with that? for if Fearghus should kill you, he will take it from me, unless I have it with writing, and a drop of blood to bind it."
"I am in haste this night, but go to-morrow to the camp to Croc Maol Nam Muc," said the king; and he left his blessing with her.
Her father came.
"Far from thee--far from thee be it, my daughter!
[paragraph continues] I think that a stranger has been to see thee here this day."
"How dost thou know that?
"Thou hadst a maiden's slow eyelash when I went out; thou hast the brisk eyelash of a wife now."
"Whom wouldst thou rather had been here?"
"I never saw the man I would rather be here than the king of Erin."
"Well, it was he; he left me a thousand of each hue, a thousand of each kind, a thousand of each creature.
"'What,' said I, 'shall I do with them, as I cannot get in Erin as much salt as will salt them?'
"Said he, 'I would give thee glens and high moors to feed them from year to year.'
"'What shall I do if Fearghus should kill you? I will not get them.'
"He said, 'I should have writing and a drop of his own blood to bind it.'"
They slept that night as they were. If it was early that the day came, it was earlier that the smith arose. "Come, daughter, and let us be going." She went, herself and the smith, and they reached the king in his camp.
"Wert thou not in the Iubhar yesterday?" said the smith to the king, "I was; and hast thou mind of thy words to the girl?"
"I have; but the battle will not be till to-morrow. I will give thee, as I said, to the girl; but leave her."
The smith got that, and he went away.
That night, when she had slept a while, she awoke, for she had seen a dream. "Art thou waking?"
"I am; what wilt thou with me? I saw a dream there: a shoot of fir growing from the heart of the king,
one from my own heart, and they were twining about each other." "That is our babe son." They slept, and it was not long till she saw the next dream.
"Art thou waking, king of Erin?" "I am; what wilt thou with me?" "I saw another dream. Fearghus, coming down, and taking the head and the neck out of me."
"That is, Fearghus killing me, and taking out my head and neck."
She slept again, and she saw another dream.
"Art thou sleeping, king of Erin?"
"I am not; what wilt thou with me now?
"I saw Erin, from side to side, and from end to end, covered with sheaves of barley and oats. There came a blast of wind from the east, from the west, from the north; every tree was swept away, and no more of them were seen."
"Fearghus will kill me, and he will take the head and neck out of me. As quickly as ever thou didst (anything), seize my set of arms, and keep them. A baby boy is begotten between thee and me. Thou shalt suckle and nurse him, and thou shalt set him in order. Keep the arms. When thou seest that he has speech, and can help himself, thou shalt send him away through the world a wandering, till he find out who he is. He will get to be king over Erin; his son will be king over Erin; his grandson will be king over Erin. His race will be kings over Erin till it reaches the ninth knee. A child will be born from that one. A farmer will come in with a fish; he will cook the fish; a bone will stick in his throat, and he will be choked."
Maobh, the king's sister, the mother of Fearghus, had two other sons, and the battle was to be on the
morrow. Lagh an Laidh and Connal; and Lagh an Laidh was the eldest.
"Whether," said Lagh an Laidh, "shall we be with our mother's brother or with Fearghus?"
"I know not. If our mother's brother wins, and we are with Fearghus, it is a stone in our shoe for ever; but if Fearghus wins, he will turn his back to us, because we were on the other side."
"Well, then, it is not thus it shall be; but be thou with Fearghus, and I will be with our mother's brother."
"It shall not be so; we will leave it to our mother."
"Were I a man," said Maobh, "I would set the field with my own brother."
"Well, then, I will be with Fearghus," said Lagh an Laidh, "and be thou with Fearghus, oh Connal!"
Fearghus went to Fionn; he blessed him in calm, soft words. Fionn blessed him in better words; and if no better, they were no worse.
"I heard that there was a day of battle and combat between thyself and thy mother's brother," said he.
"That is to be, and I came to you for help."
"It is but bold for me to go against thy mother's brother, since it was on his land that I got my keep. If thy mother's brother should win, we shall get neither furrow nor clod of the land of Erin as long as we live. I will do thus. I will not strike a blow with thee, and I will not strike a blow against thee."
Fearghus went home on the morrow, and they set in order for the battle. The king's company was on one side, and the company of Fearghus on the other. Fearghus had no GAISGICH heroes but Boinne Breat and
his company. The great Saxon hero and his company, and Lagh an Laidh. Boinne Breat drew out to the skirt of the company; he put on his harness of battle and hard combat. He set his silken netted coat above his surety 1 shirt; a booming shield on his left side; how many deaths were in his tanned sheath!
He strode out on the stern steps like a sudden blaze; each pace he put from him was less than a hill, and greater than a knoll on the mountain side. He turned on them, cloven and cringing. Three ranks would he drive of them, dashing them from their shields, to their blood and their flesh in the skies. 2 Would he not leave one to tell the tale, or report bad news; to put in a land of holes or a shelf of rock. There was one little one-eyed russet man, one-eyed, and on one knee and one handed. "Thou shalt not be to tell a tale of me;" he went and he took his head off. Then Boinne Breat shunned the fight, and he took his armour off.
"Go down, Fearghus, and take off the head of thy mother's brother, or I will take it off."
Fearghus went down, he caught hold of his mother's brother, and he took his head off. The smith's daughter went to the arms, and she took them with her.
Lagh an Laidh kept on his armour. When he saw Fearghus going to take off the head of his mother's brother, he took a frenzy. Lagh and Laidh went about the hill to try if he could see Boinne Breat, who was unarmed. Boinne Breat thought that man was drunk
with battle. He thought that he would turn on the other side of the hill to try if he could come to his own place. Lagh an Laidh turned on the other side against him. He thought to turn again to try if the battle frenzy would abate. The third time he said he would not turn for all who were in Albuin, or Eirinn, or Sassun. "It is strange thou, man, that wert with me throughout the battle, to be against me?" "I will not believe but that thou hast taken the drunkenness of battle," said Boinne Breat.
"I am quite beside myself."
"Well, then," said he, "though I am unarmed, and thou under arms, remember that thou art no more to me than what I can hold between these two fingers."
"I will not be a traiter to thee, there behind thee are three of the best heroes in Albuin, or Eirinn, or Sassun."
He gave a turn to see the three heroes, and when he turned Lagh an Laigh struck off his head.
"My torture," said Fearghus, "I had rather my own head were there. An Eireannach is not to be taken at his word as long as a man shall live. It is a stone in thy shoe every day for ever, and a pinch of the land of Eirinn thou shalt not have."
Lagh and Laidh went away and he went to the mountain. He made a castle for himself there, and he stayed in it.
The smith's daughter came on well till she bore a babe-son. She gave him the name of Conal Mac Righ Eirinn. She nourished him well, and right well. When speech came and he could walk well, she took him with her on a wet misty day to the mountain amongst high moors and forests. She left him there astray to make out a way for himself, and she went home.
He did not know in the world what he should do, as he did not know where to go, but he found a finger of a road. He followed the road. What should he see but a little hut at the evening of the day at the wayside. He went into the hut: there was no man within: he let himself down at the fire-side. There he was till a woman came at the end of the night, and she had six sheep. She saw a great slip of a man beside the fire, who seemed to be a fool. She took great wonder when she saw him, and she said that he had better go out of that, and go down to the king's house, and that he would get something amongst the servants in the kitchen. He said he would not go, but if she would give him something that he might eat, that he would go to herd the sheep for herself. What should be the name of the woman but CAOMHAG Gentle. "If I thought that, I would give thee meat and drink," said she. On the morrow he went away with the sheep. "I have not a bite of grass for them," said she, "but a road; and thou shalt keep them at the edge of the road, and thou shalt not let them off it."
At the time of night he came home with them; on the morrow he went away with the sheep. There were near to the place where he was with them three fields of wheat that belonged to three gentlemen. The sheep were wearing him out. He went and he levelled the dyke, and he let them in from one to the other till they had eaten the three fields. On a day of days, the three gentlemen gathered. When they came, he had let the fields be eaten by the sheep.
"Who art thou? Thou hast eaten the fields?"
"It was not I that ate them at all; it was the sheep that ate them."
"We will not be talking to him at all; he is but a
fool. We will reach Caomhag to see if the sheep are hers."
They reached Caomhag. They took her with them to the court. This was the first court that Fearghus had made after he got the crown.
The kings had a heritage at that time. When they did not know how to split justice properly, the judgment-seat would begin to kick, and the king's neck would take a twist when he did not do justice as he ought.
"I can make nothing of it," said the king, "but that they should have the tooth that did the damage."
The judgment-seat would begin to kick, and the king's neck took a turn. "Come here one of you and loose me; try if you can do justice better than that." Though there were thousands within, none would go in the king's place. They would not give the king such bad respect, as that any one of them would go before him.
"Is there a man that will loose me?"
"There is not, unless the herd of Caomhag himself will loose thee."
Caomhag's herd was set down.
"Loose for me, my little hero, and do justice as it should (be done), and let me out of this."
"(Nor) right nor justice will I do before I get something that I may eat."
Then he got something which he ate.
"What justice didst thou do thyself?" said he.
"I did but (doom) the tooth that did the damage to be theirs."
"What was in the way that thou didst not give death to Caomhag? This is what I would do:--Caomhag has six sheep, and though the six sheep were taken from
her, they would not pay the gentlemen. Caomhag will have six lambs, the gentlemen shall have the six lambs, and she herself shall have the sheep to keep."
The turn went out of the king's neck. He went away, and they did not ask who he was, and he got no skaith.
There was another gentleman, and he had a horse, and he sent him to a smithy to be shod. The smith had a young son and a nurse under the child. What should it be but a fine day, and it was without that the horse was being shod, and she never saw a horse shod before; and she went out to see the shoeing of the horse. She sat opposite to the horse, and he took the nail and the shoe, and he did not hit the hoof with the nail but he put it in the flesh, and the horse struck the child, and drove the cup of his head off. They had but to go to justice again to the king, and the justice the king made for them was, that the leg should be taken off the horse. The judgment-seat began to kick again, and the king's neck took a twist. The herd of Caomhag was there, and they asked him to loose the king. He said that he would not do a thing till he should first get something to eat.
He got that. He went where the king was.
"What law didst thou make?"
"The leg to be taken off the horse?
"That will not pay the smith. Send hither to me the groom that broke the horse, and the gentleman to whom he belongs. Send over here the smith and the nurse."
The gentleman and the groom came.
"Well then, my gentleman, didst thou make this groom break this horse as he should?"
The groom said that he had done that as well as he knew (how to do it).
"No more could be asked of thee. Well, smith, didst thou give an order to the nurse to stay within without coming out of her chamber?"
"I did not give it," said the smith, "but (she might do) as she chose herself."
"My gentleman," said he, "since thou art best kept, I will put a third of the EIRIC of the smith's son on thee, and another third on the smith himself, because he did not measure the nail before he put it to use, and another third on the nurse and the groom because she did not stay within in her chamber, and in case he left some word or other untaught to the horse."
The gentleman went away and the smith; the judgment-seat stopped, and she hadn't a kick; the turn came out of the king's neck, and they let him go as usual.
Said the king--"If he has travelled over the universe and the world, there is a drop of king's blood in that lad; he could not split the law so well as that if it were not in him. Let the three best heroes I have go, and let them bring me his head."
They went after him. He gave a glance from him and what should he see coming but they. They came where he was. "Where are you going?"--"We are going to kill thyself. The king sent us to thee."
"Well, then, that was but a word that came into his mouth, and it is not worth your while to kill me."
"He is but a fool," said they.
"Since he sent you to kill me, why don't you kill me?"
"Wilt thou thyself kill thyself, my little hero?" said they.
"How shall I kill myself?"
"Here's for thee a sword and strike it on thee about the neck, and cast the head off thyself," said they.
He seized on the sword, and gave it a twirl in his fist. "Fall to killing thyself, my little hero."
"Begone," said he, "and return home, and do not hide from the king that you did not kill me."
"Well, then, give me the sword," said one of them.
"I will not give it; there are not in Erin as many as will take it from my fist," said he.
They went and they returned home. As he was going by himself, he said, "I was not born without a mother, and I was not begotten without a father. I have no mind (of) ever coming to Erin, and I know that it was in Erin I was born. I will not leave a house in which there is smoke or fire in Erin till I know who (am)."
He went to the Iubhar. What was it but a fine warm day. Whom did he see but his mother washing. He was coming to a sort of understanding, so that he was thinking that it was his mother who was there. He went and he went behind her, and he put his hand on her breast. "Indeed," said he, "a, foster son of thy right breast am I." She gave her head a toss. "Thy like of a tarlaid drudge, I never had as a son or a foster son."--"My left hand is behind thy head, and a sword in my right hand, and I will strike off thy head unless thou tell me who I am."--"Still be thy hand, Conall, son of the king of Erin."
"I knew myself I was that, and that there was a drop of the blood of a king's son in me; but who killed my father?"
Fearghus killed him; and a loss as great as thy
father was slain on the same day--that was Boinne Breat, son of the king of Alba."
"Who slew Boinne Breat?"--"It is a brother of Fearghus, whom they call Lagh an Laidh."
And where is that man dwelling?
He could not get a bit on the land of Erin when once he had slain Boinne Breat; he went to the hills, and he made him a 'còs' 1 in the forest, amongst 'uille biaste,' monsters, and untamed creatures."
"Who kept my father's arms?"--"It is I."
"Go fetch them, and bring them hither to me." She brought them.
He went and put the arms on him, and they became him as well as though they had been made for himself.
"I eat not a bit, and I drink not a draught, and I make no stop but this night, until I reach where that man is, wheresoever he may be."
He passed that night where he was. In the morning, on the morrow he went away; he went on till there was black upon his soles and holes in his shoes. The white clouds of day were going, and the black clouds of night coming, and without his finding a place of staying or rest for him. There he saw a great wood. He made a "còs," in one of the trees above in which he might stay that night. In the morning, on the morrow he cast a glance from him. What should he see but the very uile bheist, whose like was never seen under the sun, stretched without clothing, without foot coverings, or head covering, hair and beard gone over him. He thought, though he should go down,
that he could not do for him. He put an arrow in a "crois," and he "fired " at him. He struck him with it on the right fore-arm, and the one who was below gave a start. "Move not a sinew of thy sinews, nor a vein of thy veins, nor a bit of thy flesh, nor a hair of thy locks, till thou promise to see me a king over Erin, or I will send down of slender oaken darts enough to sew thee to the earth." The uile bheist did not give him yielding for that. He went and he fired again, and he struck him in the left fore-arm. " Did I not tell thee before, not to stir a vein of thy veins nor a bit of thy flesh, nor a hair of thy locks till thou shouldst promise to see me king over Erin."--"Come down then, and I will see thyself or myself that before this time to morrow night." He came down.
"If I had known that it was thy like of a drudge that should dictate thus to me, I would not do it for thee for anything; but since I promised thee I will do it, and we will be going."
They went to the palace of the king. They shouted Battle or Combat to be sent out, or else the head of Fearghus, or himself a captive.
Battle and combat they should get, and not his head at all, and they could not get himself a captive.
There were sent out four hundred swift heroes, four hundred full heroes, and four hundred strong heroes.
They began at them. The one could not put from the other's hand as they were killed.
They shouted battle or combat again, or else the head of Fearghus to be sent out, or himself a captive.
"It is battle and combat thou shalt have, and not at all my head, and no more shalt thou get myself a captive."
There were sent out twelve hundred swift heroes,
twelve hundred full heroes, and twelve hundred stout heroes.
The one could not put from the other's hand as they killed of them.
They shouted battle and combat, or else the head of Fearghus, or himself a captive.
Battle and combat they should have, and not the head of Fearghus at all, nor himself a captive.
There were sent out four hundred score to them. The one could not put from the other as they killed.
They shouted battle and combat.
"Those who are without," said Fearghus, "are so hard (to please) that they will take but my head, and unless they get (it) they will kill all there are in Erin and myself after them. Take one of you a head from one of those who were slain, and when Lagh an Laidh comes and asks my head, or myself a captive, give it to him, and he will think it is my head."
The head was given to Lagh an Laidh. He went where Conall was with it.
"What hast thou there?" said Conall.
"The head of Fearghus."
"That is not the head of Fearghus yet. I saw him a shorter (time) than thyself, but turn and bring hither to me the head of Fearghus."
Lagh an Laidh returned.
Let another go to meet him in the king's stead, and say that it is his head he shall get, not himself a captive.
This one went to meet Lagh an Laidh. He seized him and took the head out of his neck.
He reached Conall. "What hast thou there?"--"The head of Fearghus."
"That is not the head of Fearghus yet; turn and bring to me the head of Fearghus."
Lagh an Laidh returned.
"The one who is without is so watchful, and the other is so blind, that there is no man in Erin but they will kill unless they get. myself."
"Where art thou going, Lagh an Laidh?" said Fearghus.
"I am going to seek thy head, or thyself as a captive."
"It's my head thou shalt get, and not myself as a captive; but what kindness art thou giving thy brother?
"The kindness that thou gavest thyself to me, I will give it to thee."
He took the head out of his neck, and he took it with him. He came where Conall. was.
"What hast thou there?"--"The head of Fearghus."--"It is not."--"Truly it is."--"Let me see it."
He gave it to him. He drew it, and he struck him with it, and he made two heads of the one. Then they began at each other.
They would make a bog on the rock, and a rock on the bog. In the place where the least they would sink, they would sink to the knees, in the place where the most they would sink, they would sink to the eyes.
Conall thought it would be ill for him to fall after he had got so near the matter.
He drew his sword, and he threw the head off Lagh an Laidh.
"Now I am king over Erin, as I myself had a right to be."
He took his mother and her father from the Iubhar, and took them to the palace; and his race were in it till the ninth knee. The last one was choked, as a babe, with a splinter of bone that went crosswise into his throat, and another tribe came in on EIRINN.
Heard it recited by his father and by several others in his youth.
This story is one of a number, all of which relate to a certain Conall, who was a natural son of a king of Eirinn, and came to be king himself.
There are generally two elder brothers born of the queen (instead of three uncles), who are less brave than the illegitimate brother. The mother is generally the daughter of an old man who has magical arts. The king stays in his house at first for a whole year, and fancies it one day; all sorts of adventures, and poetical ornaments, and descriptions of dress, and feats of skill are joined to this frame-work, and the stories are always told with a great deal of the measured prose which seems to belong to the particular class of which this is a specimen. They are always long. I think they are the remains of compositions similar to portions of the manuscripts in the Advocates' Library and elsewhere--which are a curious jumble of classical and native allusions woven into a story; which, for want of a better illustration, may be compared with the old romances of other tongues.
The story, translated into English, loses part of its merit, which consists of the rapid utterance of a succession of words which convey, by their sound and rhythm alone, the idea of the fight which they describe; the sounds-
Dā chĕeăd djĕeăg Lān-gāsh-gāch
Dā chĕeăd djĕeăg Lōō-gāsh-gāch
Dā chĕeăd djĕeăg Trāin-gāsh-gāch
Gān cā'lchg-ăg ōn sgēē-ān
Gām fāil ăgŭs gām feō-īl
Ans ăn ēēăhr-māilt.
[paragraph continues] y the constant repetition of the sounds djee, gash, gach, suggest the singing, creaking, clashing, and hacking of blades and armour, and the rhythm, which varies continually, and must be heard to be understood, does the same.
The narrator heard it from his father and other old men in his youth. I have heard similar passages frequently from others, since the beginning of this year, and I remember to have heard something of the kind as a child.
One of the names, or one like it, occurs in a MS., said to be of the twelfth century, in a tale called "The Story of Art MacCuinn, King of Ireland, and the Battle of Magh Muckruinne," which extends to forty-three pages. Art MacCon wins a battle
and becomes king of Ireland. All I know of the story is from an abstract; it is said to be mixed with poetry. The tales about Conall are all over the Highlands, and those who repeat them are generally old men. I have several versions written which differ materially from this.
148:1 In this tale Erin is spelt instead of Eirinn and Eireann; Alba and Sassun, Scotland and England, express the sound of the Gaelic words.
149:1 Probably lifted on spears.
156:1 CORR, the epithet applied to a shirt, is a word which gives the meaning of greatness or excess; and in corran, means an iron weapon, or a sickle. "A shirt of armour."
156:2 This passage is common; I am not certain that it is correctly rendered.
163:1 Còs, a hollow or cave; here a kind of dwelling scooped out in the side of a hill.