Táin Bó Cúailnge

8B. The Combat of Lethan and Cuchulain

About this Edition

  • Translated By
    Publishing Date
    • Joseph Dunn

There came also Lethan (‘the Broad’) to his ford on the Nith in the land of Conalle Murthemni, to fight with Cuchulain. He was angered at what Cuchulain had wrought. He came upon him at the ford. Ath Carpait (‘Chariot-ford’) is the name of the ford where they fought, for their chariots were broken in the combat on the ford.

It is there that Mulcha, Lethan’s charioteer, fell on the shoulder of the hill between the two fords, for he had offered battle and combat to Laegsonof Riangabair. Hence it is called Guala Mulchi (‘Mulcha’s Shoulder’) ever since. It is there, too, that Cuchulain and Lethan met, and Lethan fell at Cuchulain’s hands and he smote his head from his neck on the ford and left it therewith, that is, he left the head with the trunk. Wherefore the name of the ford of the Nith was called Ath Lethain (‘Lethain’s Ford’) ever since in the district of Conalle Murthemni.

Then came unto them the Crutti Cainbili (‘the Tuneful Harpers’), from Ess Ruaid in the north to amuse them, out of friendship for Aihll and Medb. They opined it was to spy upon them they were come from Ulster. When they came within sight of the camp of the men of Erin, fear, terror, and dread possessed them, and the hosts pursued them as never men pursued, far and wide, till they escaped them in the shapes of deer near the standing stones at Lia Mor (‘Great Stone’) in the north. For though they were known as the ‘Mellifluous Harpers’ they were druids, men of great cunning and great power of augury and magic.