Táin Bó Cúailnge

3. The Rising-out of the Men of Connacht at Cruachan Ai

About this Edition

  • Translated By
    Publishing Date
    • Joseph Dunn

A mighty host was now assembled by the men of Connacht, that is, by Ailill and Medb, and they sent word to the three other provinces, and messengers were despatched from Medb to the Manè that they should gather in Cruachan, the seven Manè with their seven divisions; to wit: Manè “Motherlike,” Manè “Fatherlike,” and Manè “All-comprehending”; ’twas he that possessed the form of his mother and of his father and the dignity of them both; Manè “Mildly-submissive,” and Manè “Greatly-submissive,” Manè “Boastful” and Manè “the Dumb.”

Other messengers were despatched by Ailill to the sons of Maga; to wit: to Cet (‘the First’) son of Magar Anluan (‘the Brilliant Light’) son of Maga, and Maccorb (‘Chariot-child’) son of Maga, and Bascell (‘the Lunatic’) son of Maga, and En (‘the Bird’) son of Maga, Dochè son of Maga; and Scandal (‘Insult’) son of Maga.

These came, and this was their muster, thirty hundred armed men. Other messengers were despatched from them to Cormac Conlongas (‘the Exile’) son of Conchobar and to Fergus macRoig, and they also came, thirty hundred their number.

Now Cormac had three companies which came to Cruachan. Before all, the first company. A covering of close-shorn black hair upon them. Green mantles and many-coloured cloaks wound about them; therein, silvern brooches. Tunics of thread of gold next to their skin, reaching down to their knees, with interweaving of red gold. Bright-handled swords they bore, with guards of silver. Long shields they bore, and there was a broad, grey spearhead on a slender shaft in the hand of each man. “Is that Cormac, yonder?” all and every one asked. “Not he, indeed,” Medb made answer.

The second troop. Newly shorn hair they wore and manes on the back of their heads, fair, comely indeed. Dark-blue cloaks they all had about them. Next to their skin, gleaming-white tunics, with red ornamentation, reaching down to their calves. Swords they had with round hilts of gold and silvern fist-guards, and shining shields upon them and five-pronged spears in their hands. “Is yonder man Cormac?” all the people asked. “Nay, verily, that is not he,” Medb made answer.

Then came the last troop. Hair cut broad they wore; fair-yellow, deep-golden, loose-flowing back hair down to their shoulders upon them. Purple cloaks, fairly bedizened, about them; golden, embellished brooches over their breasts; and they had curved shields with sharp, chiselled edges around them and spears as long as the pillars of a king’s house in the hand of each man. Fine, long, silken tunics with hoods they wore to the very instep. Together they raised their feet, and together they set them down again. “Is that Cormac, yonder?” asked all. “Aye, it is he, this time,” Medb made answer.

Thus the four provinces of Erin gathered in Cruachan Ai. They pitched their camp and quarters that night, so that a thick cloud of smoke and fire rose between the four fords of Ai, which are, Ath Moga, Ath Bercna, Ath Slissen and Ath Coltna. And they tarried for the full space of a fortnight in Cruachan, the hostel of Connacht, in wassail and drink and every disport, to the end that their march and muster might be easier.

And their poets and druids would not let them depart from thence till the end of a fortnight while awaiting good omen. And then it was that Medb bade her charioteer to harness her horses for her, that she might go to address herself to her druid, to seek for light and for augury from him.