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24A. The Agitation of Celtchar

By Anonymous
Translated by Joseph Dunn1914

It was then that Celtchar in his sleep uttered these words to Conchobar in the midst of the men of Ulster in Iraird Cuillinn that night:—

“Thirty hundred chariot-men;
An hundred horse-companions stout;
An hundred with an hundred druids!
To lead us will not fail
The hero of the land,
Conchobar with hosts around him!
Let the battle line be formed!
Gather now, ye warriors!
Battle shall be fought
At Garech and Ilgarech
On aftermorrow’s morn!”

Or it was Cuscraid Menn (‘the Stammerer’) of Macha, Conchobar’s son, who sang this lay on the night before the battle . . ., after the lay ‘Arise ye Kings of Macha’ which Loegaire Buadach (‘the Victorious’) sang.

On that same night Cormac Conlongas, Conchobar’s son, spake these words to the men of Erin at Slemain Midè that night:—

“A wonder of a morning,
A wondrous I time!
When hosts will be confused,
Kings turned back in flight!
Necks will be broken,
The sand made red,
When forth breaks the battle, the seven chieftains before,
Of Ulster’s host round Conchobar!
Their women will they defend,
For their herds will they fight
At Garech and Ilgarech,
On the morning after the morrow!
Heroes will be slaughtered then,
Hounds cut to pieces,
Steeds overwhelmed!”

On that same night, Dubthach Doel (‘the Scorpion’) of Ulster saw the dream wherein were the hosts at Garech and Ilgarech. Then it was he uttered these words in his sleep among the men of Erin at Slemain Midè that night:—

“Great be the morn,
The morn of Meath!
Great be the truce
The truce of Culenn!

“Great be the fight,
The fight Of Clartha!
Great, too, the steeds,
The steeds of Assal!

“Great be the plague,
The plague of Tuath-Bressi!
Great be the storm,
Ulster’s battle-storm round Conchobar!

“Their women will they defend,
For their herds will they fight
At Garech and Ilgarech,
On the morning after the morrow!”

Then when the hosts were assembled at Garech and Ilgarech, Dubthach was awakened from his sleep, so that Nemain brought confusion on the host and they fell trembling in their arms under the points of their spears and weapons, so that an hundred warriors of them fell dead in the midst of their camp and quarters at the fearfulness of the shout they heard on high. Be that as it would, that night was not the calmest for the men of Erin that they passed before or since, because of the forebodings and predictions and because of the spectres and visions that were revealed to them.

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