18A. The Misthrow at Belach Eoin

By Anonymous
Translated by Joseph Dunn1914

Then came to them Fiacha Fialdana (‘the Generous and Intrepid’) of the Ulstermen to speak with the son of his mother’s sister, namely with Manè Andoè (‘the Unslow’) of the Connachtmen. And thus he came, and Dubthach Doel (‘the Black Tongue’) of Ulster with him. It was in this wise that Manè Andoè came, and Dochè son of Maga along with him.

When now Dochè macMagach espied Fiacha Fialdana, he straightway hurled a spear at him, but so that it went through his own friend, through Dubthach Doel of Ulster. Then Fiacha Fialdana hurled a spear at Dochè macMagach, so that it went through his own friend, through Manè Andoè of Connacht. Thereupon said the men of Erin: “A mishap in throwing,” they said, “is what hath happened to the men, for each of them to kill his friend and nearest relation.”

Hence this is entitled Imroll Belaig Eoin (‘the Misthrow at Bird-pass’). And 'the Other Misthrow at Bird-pass’ is another name for it.

Or it may be this from which cometh Imroll Belaig Eoin: The hosts proceed to Belach Eoin (‘Bird-pass’). Their two troops wait there. Diarmait macConchobar of the Ulstermen comes from the north. “Let a horseman start from you,” cries Diarmait, “that Manè may come with one man to parley with me, and I will go with another man to parley with him.”

A while thereafter they meet. “I am come,” says Diarmait, “from Conchobar, with commands to Ailill and Medb that they let the cows go and make good all the ill they have done here and bring hither the bull from the west to meet the other bull, to the end that they may encounter, since Medb has pledged it.”

“I will go,” says Manè, “to tell them.” He takes this message to Medb and Ailill. “This cannot be had of Medb,” Manè reported. “Let us make a fair exchange of arms, then,” says Diarmait, “if perchance that pleaseth thee better.” “I am content,” replies Manè. Each of them casts his spear at the other so that both of them die, and hence the name of this place is Imroll Belaig Eoin. Their forces rush upon one another. Three-score of each force fall. Hence is Ard in Dirma (‘the Height of the Troop’).

Táin Bó Cúailnge
By Anonymous
English translation by Joseph Dunn (1914)
Cover: Táin Bó Cúailnge trans. Joseph Dunn (1914)