From Donald MacPhie, Breubhaig, Barra.
On a day as were on wide spread Rushes,
A valiant four of the company,
Myself, and Bound, and Grey Earth,
Fair's self was there, he was Bondage's son.
There was seen a coming from the plain
The big young lad on a single foot,
In his black, dusky black skin mantle,
With his dusky head-gear so rusty red.
Grim was the look of the young lad,
Hideous it was, and disfigured,
With his largeheaded mighty helmet,
With his blunt ploughshare ( 404-a) that grew russet red.
Then spoke to him Fionn MacChumail,
As a man who was like to faint,
"At what place is thy dwelling,
Thou lad with thy dress of skins?"
"Blade, son of Furbishing, 's my right name, 1
If you had the knowledge of a tale of me;
I was a while at the smith's mystery,
With the King of Lochlann at Upsala. ( 404-b)
Latha dhuinn air Luachair leothair,
Do cheathrar chrodha de 'n bhuidhinn;
Mi fhein, a's Osgar, a's Daorghlas;
Bha Fionn fhein ann, 's b' e Mac Chumhail.
Chunnacas a' tighinn o'n mhagh
An t-olach mor 's e air aona chois,
Na mhanndal dubh, ciar-dhubh craicinn,
Le cheanna-bheairt lachdann 's i ruadh-mheirg.
Bu ghruamach coslas an olaich;
Bu ghrannda sin agus bu duaichnidh;
Le 'chlogada ceann-mhor, ceutach;
Le 'mhaoil éitidh a dh' fhas ruadh dhearg.
Labhair ris Fionn MacChumhail,
Mar dhuine 'bhiodh a' dol seachad,
"Co 'm ball am bheil do thuinidh,
Ille le d' chulaidh chraicinn?"
"Lon 1 MacLiobhann, b'e m' ainm ceart e,
Na'm biodh agaibhs' orm beachd sgeula;
Bha mi treis ri uallach gobhainn
Aig righ Lochlann ann an Spaoili. 405-1
"I am laying you under enchantments,
Since you are a people in need of arms; `
That you shall follow me, a band of quietness,
Westward to my smithy doors."
"Upon what place is thy workshop,
Or shall we profit by seeing it?"
"Do you see it, if it may be,
But see it you shall not, if I can."
Then they set them to their travel,
O'er the fifth of Munster in their hurrying speed,
And on the yellow glens about birch trees,
Then went they into four bands. ( 404-c)
One band of these was the blacksmith,
Another band of them Daorghlas;
Fionn was behind them at that time,
And a few of the chiefs of the Finne.
The blacksmith would cut but the one step,
On each lonely glen through the desert,
But scarcely his arms would reach to
A tuck of his clothes on his haunches.
Ascending the ground of the corrie,
Descending the pass of the edges;
"A little delay," said the blacksmith,
"Shut not before me," quoth Daorghlas.
"Tha mise 'gur cur-se fo gheasaibh,
O 's luchd sibh 'tha 'm freasdal armaibh,
Sibh gu m' leontail, buidheann shocrach,
Siar gu dorsan mo cheardach."
"Co 'm ball am bheil do cheardach?
Na'm feairde sinne g'a faicinn?"
"Faiceadh sibhs' i ma dh' fhaodar
Ach ma dh' fhoadas mise cha'n fhaic sibh."
Gu 'n d' thug iad an sin 'nan siubhal
Air Choige Mhumha 'nan luath dhearg;
'S air Ghleannan buidhe mu bheithe
Gu 'n deach iad 'nan ceithir buidhnibh.
Bu bhuidheann diu sin an gobha;
Bu bhuidheann eile dhiu Daorghlas;
Bha Fionn 'nan deaghainn an uair sin
A's beagan de dh' uaislean na Finne. 405-2
Cha ghearradh an gobha ach aona cheum
Air gach gleannan faoin roimh fhasach,
S cha ruigeadh airm ach air eigin
Cearbh dh'an aodlach shuas air mhasan.
A' direadh ri urlar a' choire,
A' tearnadh ri bealach nam faobhar,
"Fosadh beag ort" ars' an gobha;
"Na druid romham," arsa Daorghlas.
"Thoud'st not be in the door of my workshop,
In a strait place, were I alone." ( 404-d)
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
Then they got bags for blowing,
The workshop was scarcely found out;
Four men were found of the king of Bergen,
Of crossgrained men and unshapely.
To every smith there were seven hands,
Seven pincers light and substantial;
And the seven hammers that crushed them,
And no worse would it suit with Daorghlas.
Daorghlas who watched at the workshop,
Tis a certain tale that they fell out;
He was red as a coal of the oaktree,
And his hue like the fruit of the working.
Out spoke one of the blacksmiths
So gruffly, and eke so grimly,
"Who is that dauntless slender man
That would stretch out a bar of temper?"
Out spoke Fionn, who was standing,
The man of good answer at that time,
"That nickname shall not be scattered,
His name was Daorghlas till this hour."
"Cha bhiodh tu 'n dorus mo cheardach
An hit teann 's mi 'nam aonar."
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
Fhuair iad an sin builg ri sheideadh;
Fhuaradh air eigin a' cheardach;
Fhuaras ceathrar dhaoine righ Meirbhe, 405-3
De dhaoine doirbhe, mi-dhealbhach.
Bha seachd lamhan air gach gobha;
Seachd teanchairean leothair, 405-4 aotrom,
S na seachd uird a bha 'gan spreigeadh;
S cha bu mhiosa 'fhreagradh Daorghlas.
Daorghlas, fear aire na ceardach,
S sgeula dearbha gu 'n do throid iad,
S e cho dearg ri gual an daraich,
S a shnuadh a thoradh na h-oibre.
Labhair fear de na goibhnean
Gu grìmach agus gu gruamach;
"Co e 'm fear caol gun tioma
A thairneadh a mach teinne ( 405-2) cruadhach?"
Labhair Fionn a bha 'na sheasamh,
Fear a bu mhath freagairt 'san uair sin,
"Cha bhi 'n t-ainm sin sgaoilte,
Bha Daorghlas air gus an uair seo."
Then they got their stretched out
The arms that were straight and coloured,
The complete work that was finished,
Of finished arms for the battle.
"Hiss" and "Fye" and "Make sure,"
And the "Like blade" the smith's shop's daughter,
And the long blade of Diarmaid
Many was the day that he tried it.
I had "the Tinker of striplings,"
Of loud rattle in the battle keen;
And "the son of the surge," that was MacChumail's,
Which never left a shred of the flesh of man.
Then we took to our travel,
To take a tale from the king of Lochlann;
Then out spoke the king so high born
With force of sweet words as became him well.
We would not give, by your fear,
A tale of six of our party;
We lifted up the spears,
And it was in front of the banners.
Fhuair iad an sin 'nan sineadh
Na h-airm a bha direach daite,
S an coimhlionadh a bh' air a dheanadh
De dh' armaibh deanta na faiche.
"Fead" agus "Fuidh," agus "Fasdail,"
S a' "Chomhlann" Ic na Ceardaich,
S an lann fhada bh aig Diarmaid,
S iomadh latha riamh a dhearbh i.
S agam fhein bha "Ceard 405-5 nan gallan"
A b' ard farum 'n am nan garbh chath
"S Mac an Luin" a bh' aig Mac Chumhail 2
Nach d' fhag fuigheall riamh dh' fheoil dhaoine.
Gu 'n do ghabh sinne mu shiubhal
A ghabhail sgeula de righ Lochlann;
Sin nuair labhair an righ uasal
Le neart suairce mar bu chubhaidh.
Cha d' thugamaid, air bhur n-eagal,
Sgeula do sheisear dh' ur buidhinn,
Gu 'n do thog sinne na sleaghan;
'S gu 'm b' ann ri aghaidh nam bratach.
They were in seven battalions, (e)
And no warrior thought of fleeing;
But on the ground of the field of Fine
We were there but six.
Two of these were myself and Caoilte,
Three of them was wily Faolan,
Four of them was Fionn the foremost,
And five of them was Osgar valiant.
Six of them was Goll MacMorna
That brooked no slur that I can mind;
Now will I cease from the numbering,
Since the Fhinn have gone to decay.
We were good in the day of the Teavrai,
In the workshop of Lon MacLiobhain;
This day how frail is my strength,
After having numbered the band.
(404-a) Eite is a piece added to a ploughshare when worn, a periphrasis for an old sword? Eite is the word in Gillies.
(404-b) I am indebted to MacLean for this clever suggestion. The grave of Thor is shewn at Old Upsala. The same Gaelic word is used in Gillies.
(404-c) In Gillies this varies considerably.
(404-d) Here there is a break in Gillies also, and the meaning is obscure. MacCallum makes it, "Leave me not alone in a strait place."
(404-e) This is so in Gillies also. Irish writers say that the Feinne were a standing army of Irish warriors divided into seven battalions; this makes the men of Lochlann to be so divided. One Irish author says that the Feinne were Norsemen who guarded Dublin.
Bha iadsan ann 'nan seachd cathan,
S cha do smaointich flath air teicheadh;
Ach air lar na Faiche fine
Cha robh sinne ann ach seisar.
Bu dithis diu sin mis' agus Caoilte;
Bu triuir diu Faolan feall; 405-6
Bu cheathrar dhiu Fionn air thoiseach
S bu choigear diu 'n t-Osgar calma.
Bu sheisar Goll MacMorna
Nach d' fhulaing tair ri m' chuimhne;
Sguiridh mi nis dh'an aireamh
O chaidh an Fhinn gu sodradh.
An mhath sinn latha na Teamhruidh
Ann an ceardach Lonn Ic Liobhann;
An diugh is anmhunn mo chàil
An deis a bhith 'g aireamh na buidhne.
From Donald MacPhie, smith, Breubhaig, Barra, who learnt it from his uncle Hector MacLaine-H. MLean.
Breubhaig, Barra, October 1, 1860.
405-1 Spaoili, probably Upsala.
405-2 Teinne, a mass, or bar of metal.
405-3 Meirbhe, same as Beirbhe, Bergen?
405-4 Leothair, substantial, from leor.
405-5 Ceard, any kind of smith; or-cheard, a goldsmith; ceard airgid, a silversmith; ceard copair, a coppersmith; ceard stavin, a tinsmith, tinker; ceard spainean, a spoonsmith. Gipsies and travelling tinkers are pre-eminently ceardan or smiths, because they work in a great variety of metals. Ceard nan Gallan, the smith of the branches or youths, so called from being well adapted to cut down the young and strong.
405-6 Feall here is probably fial mispronounced.
So far this is almost the very same as the version given in Gillies, published 1786. The number of verses is the same, and the number of lines, and the order of the story the same; but there are considerable variations in a small way. In the 8th verse they set off to travel "as chuige mugha na luimedheirg," on a yellow mountain, as Beither, a dragon, which may mean, like the fifth of Munster of Limerick, but which I suspect refers to some other legend, for it does not appear how Munster should run like a dragon. In the 16th verse only one smith, he who spoke, has seven hands. In the 20th verse Ossian's sword is "Deire nan colg," the end of anger. In the 26th, the word is teann ruith, hard running, instead of the word pronounced teavrai; and there are many slight verbal differences and changes in orthography. The piece is without doubt the very same which is in Gillies, and if the book is in the Long Island it might have been learned from it. But, on the other hand, the book professes to be a collection made in the Highlands, its genuineness has never been questioned, and I believe that this is but a proof of the tenacity of popular memory for things which suit popular taste.
Another version was taken down for MacCallum, and published in 1816; I have indicated the chief differences in the footnotes. There is an Irish prose version of the story lately published (Ossianic Society's 2d vol.), which differs materially; it reduces the whole to a race; Fionn carried his sword with him; the smith is a giant with one leg, one arm, and one eye, who is bound by Fionn; his name is Roc, son of Diocan. As the Manks tradition (see introduction, vol. i. lvi.) agrees with these Gaelic poems, I suspect the Irish story is the tradition more fallen to decay.
Now as an example of the way in which these poems pervade the whole traditions of the country and are interwoven with each other, let me give the following account of a visit to pick up a version of the poem in Islay. MacLean's letter seems worth preservation.
Ballygrant, May 27, 1861.
Sir--I called on old MacPhail at Scanlistle last Friday; it wag the first time I had spoken to him for at least twenty years, for it is but lately that he has come to this parish. He left it fully more than twenty-five years ago, and was for a long time a workman with Doctor MacTavish. There the poor fellow got hurt, and the result was that he lost his leg. It may be well to state that he was a skilful and industrious workman, as there is a current opinion that these story-tellers are found among the worthless and lazy. Before he left this parish he was a workman with old Rounsfell at Persabas, and he was the person that was always sent to kiln-dry and mill the corn at Ballygrant. It was then, while kiln-drying corn, that he amused me with these Fenian stories. I regret to say that the verses are not so complete as I used to bear them from him. I reminded him of Sinsearrachd Fhinn, of which he was wont to give me a long list, but of this he could remember nothing the other day. I remember it went this way:--Fionn MacCumhail, Ic Trathuil, Ic treun-moir, Ic cham laora, but I cannot remember any other name beyond cam laora, or crooked toes.
When I entered the house he was sitting by the fireside with his wooden leg. The old fellow's eye brightened when he saw me, and I told him I wished to hear some of his old lore again. "O," said he, "b' abhaist domh 'bhith 'gan gabhail sin a chumail toil-inntinn riut" (I used to be reciting these to thee to keep thee pleased). "Cha bhiodh esan ach 'na phaisde an sin" (he would be but a child then), said his brother's wife. "Bha e 'na bhalach caol, luirgneach 'san am" (he was a slender leggy boy at the time), a description which is not altogether inappropriate yet. I inquired of him about the old people whom he was wont to hear reciting these stories in his youth, and he enumerated several, and said that the poems were long and beautiful, and that to listen to them was the delight of all. He quotes something here and there of almost all I have got. "Bas Gharuidh,"
he related to me, "The Incident of the Pigeons;" but with respect to Fioinn, he says his thigh was cut through, and that he was worthless ever afterwards.
"O bu lurach an eachdraidh i nuair a bhiodh i air a h-inriseadh gu ceart" (Oh that history was one of price when it was rightly told), exclaimed he with enthusiasm. During the conversation I gave him three glasses of good strong whisky, and you would not know that he had tasted it, further than being in good spirits. Verily alcohol is not always poison, as total abstainers pronounce it to be.--I am, Sir, yours sincerely,
The conversation is written in Gaelic, but a translation is sufficient.
I give the verses as an example of the way in which scraps may be picked up, which might be used in mending other versions.
396:1 Gillies, 1786 Lun MacLiobhainn.
MacCallum, 1816 Luinn MacLiobhuinn.
MacPherson, . . Luno.
397:1 LONN, a sword, a blade, a bar, a stake of wood, a bier pole, anger; a surge, a sea swell; strong, powerful. LONNRACH, bright, etc., a blaze, a gleam. LUNN, a smooth, rolling swell, an oar handle. Manks, Lhun, or Lhunn.
401:1 This verse is not in MacCallum's version.
402:1 The following verse from MacCallum gives the names of some more of the swords:--
The "Magic bladed" was the blade of Oscar,
And the "Hard Massacrer" the blade of Caoilte,
And the "Polisher" the blade of Diarmid,
Many a wild man killed she.
403:1 The following verse is from MacCallum:
Bi n Druidh lannach lann Oscair,
'S b' i Chruaidh Cosgaireach lann Chaoilte.
'S gu' m b' i n Liobhanach lann Dhiarmaid,
'S iomadh fear fiadhaich a mharbh i.
403:2 Irish, Mac an Loin.