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23A. The Red-Shame of Menn

By Anonymous
Translated by Joseph Dunn1914

It was then came to them great Menn son of Salcholga, he from Renna (‘the Waterways’) of the Boyne in the north. Twelve men with many-pointed weapons, that was his number. It was thus they came, and two spearheads on each shaft with them, a spear-head on the top and a spearhead at the butt, so that it made no difference whether they wounded the hosts with the points or with the butts.

They offered three attacks upon the hosts. Three times their own number fell at their hands and there fell twelve men of the people of Menn, so that there remained alive of them but Menn alone. But Menn himself was sorely wounded in the strait, so that blood ran crimson on him and his followers too were crimsoned. Then said the men of Erin: “Red is this shame,” said they, “for Menn son of Salcholga, that his people, twelve men, should be slain and destroyed and he himself wounded till blood ran crimson red upon him.” Hence here is the ‘Reddening Shame of Menn,’ the name of this tale on the Spoil of the Kine of Cualnge.

Then said the men of Erin, it would be no dishonour for Menn son of Salcholga to leave the camp and quarters, and that the hosts would go a day’s journey back to the north again, and that Menn should cease his weapon-feats on the hosts till Conchobar arose out of his ‘Pains’ and battle would be offered them at Garech and Ilgarech on the day of the great battle when the men of Erin and of Ulster would meet together in combat in the great battle of the Cualnge Cow-spoil, as the druids and soothsayers and the knowers of the men of Erin had foretold it.

Menn son of Salcholga agreed to that, to leave the camp and halting-place. And the hosts fell back a day’s march for to rest and wait, and Menn went his way to his own land.

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