Siege of Enniskillen Castle

Your sheriff shall be welcome but let me know his eric, that if my people should cut his head off I may levy it upon the country. Hugh Maguire, Lord of Fermanagh. Enniskillen. ¶1] Alas for him who looks on Enniskillen, with its glistening bays and melodious falls; it is perilous for us, since one […]

Towards Alba of the Ravens

This is a poem of Columkille’s, or at least ascribed to him. It is in very irregular metre, or rather changes its metre several times. The literal translation of the first few verses is as follows:– Delightful to be on Ben Edar (the Hill of Howth) before going over the sea, white, white; the dashing […]

Mac Dathó Was His Name

There was a famous king of Leinster. Mac Dathó was his name. He had a hound; the hound defended the whole of Leinster. The hound’s name was Ailbe, and Ireland was full of its fame. Messengers came from Ailill and Medb asking for the hound. Moreover at the same time there came also messengers from Conchobar Mac Nessa to ask for the same hound. They […]

Táin Bó Cúailnge

But I who have written this story, or rather this fable, give no credence to the various incidents related in it. For some things in it are the deceptions of demons, other poetic figments; some are probable, others improbable; while still others are intended for the delectation of foolish men. — Colophon (Latin) at the […]

Columcille Fecit

This poem, under the title Columcille Fecit, has been attributed to St. Columba. * * * Delightful would it be to me to be in Uchd Ailiun On the pinnacle of a rock, That I might often see The face of the ocean; That I might see its heaving waves Over the wide ocean, When […]

Death of Conn Cétchathach

Eochaid Bélbuide, son of Feidlimid Rechtmar, was Conn’s brother. He went into Ulster under safeguard, to escape from his brother Conn, for Eochaid was ill-bred and unruly, and was destroying his brother’s rule and authority. Then, however, Conn sent five of his confidential servants to the kings of Ulster, so that Eochaid Bélbuide might not […]

Provided I Be Famous, I Am Content to Be Only One Day on Earth

‘He did still another exploit,’ said Fiachu mac Fir Fhebe. ‘Cathbad the druid was with his son Conchobar mac Nessa. There were with him a hundred active men learning the druid’s art — that was the number that Cathbad used to instruct. One of his pupils asked him for what that day would be of […]

I Myself Shall Be a Hound

‘Indeed we know that boy’, said Conall Cernach, ‘and we know him all the better in that he is a fosterling of ours. Not long after the deed which Fergus has just related, he performed another exploit.’ ‘When Culann the smith prepared a feast for Conchobar, he asked Conchobar not to bring a great crowd […]

The Death of the Boys

‘Another time he was playing ball in the playing-field east of Emain, he alone on one side against the thrice fifty boys. He kept defeating them in every game in that way all the time. Eventually the boy began to belabour them with his fists and fifty of them died. Whereupon he fled and hid […]

The Eulogy of Cú Chulainn

‘What manner of man,’ asked Ailill, ‘is this Hound whom we have heard of among the Ulstermen? What age is that famous youth?’ ‘I can tell you that,’ said Fergus. ‘In his fifth year he went to the boys in Emain Macha to play. In his sixth year he went to learn feats of arms […]

The Three Drinking-horns of Cormac úa Cuinn

Once on a time Aed Oridnide, son of Niall Frosach, son of Feargal, son of Maelduin, came to establish order in the province of Connacht. He crossed Eas Ruaid, and his table-servants and his drinking-horns were lost therein. Aed came to Corca Tri, and rested at the house of the king of Corca Tri. Fifty […]