Táin Bó Cúailnge

8E. The Killing of Uala

About this Edition

  • Translated By
    Publishing Date
    • Joseph Dunn

Early on the morrow the hosts continued their way to lay waste the plain of Murthemne and to sack Mag Breg and Meath and Machaire Conaill (‘Conall’s Plain’) and the land of Cualnge. It was then that the streams and rivers of Conalle Murthemni rose to the tops of the trees, and the streams of the Cronn rose withal, until the hosts arrived at Glaiss Cruinn (‘Cronn’s Stream’). And they attempted the stream and failed to cross it because of the size of its waves, so that they slept on its bank. And Cluain Carpat (‘Chariot-meadow’) is the name of the first place where they reached it. This is why Cluain Carpat is the name of that place, because of the hundred chariots which the river carried away from them to the sea.

Medb ordered her people that one of the warriors should go try the river. And on the morrow there arose a great, stout, wonderful warrior of the particular people of Medb and Ailill, Uala by name, and he took on his back a massy rock, to the end that Glaiss Cruinn might not carry him back. And he went to essay the stream, and the stream threw him back dead, lifeless, with his stone on his back and so he was drowned. Medb ordered that he be lifted out of the river then by the men of Erin and his grave dug and his keen made and his stone raised over his grave, so that it is thence Lia Ualann (‘Uala’s Stone’) on the road near the stream in the land of Cualnge.

Cuchulain clung close to the hosts that day provoking them to encounter and combat. Four and seven score kings fell at his hands at that same stream, and he slew a hundred of their armed, kinglike warriors around Roen and Roi, the two chroniclers of the Táin. This is the reason the account of the Táin was lost and had to be sought afterwards for so long a time.

Medb called upon her people to go meet Cuchulain in encounter and combat for the sake of the hosts. "It will not be I," and "It will not be I," spake each and every one from his place. "No caitiff is due from my people. Even though one should be due, it is not I would go to oppose Cuchulain, for no easy thing is it to do battle with him."

When they had failed to find the Donn Cualnge, the hosts kept their way along the river around the river Cronn to its source, being unable to cross it, till they reached the place where the river rises out of the mountains, and, had they wished it, they would have gone between the river and the mountain, but Medb would not allow it, so they had to dig and hollow out the mountain before her in order that their trace might remain there forever and that it might be for a shame and reproach to Ulster. They tarried there three days and three nights till they had dug out the earth before them. And Bernais (‘the Gap’) of the Foray of Medb and the Gap of the Foray of Cualnge is another name for the place ever since, for it is through it the drove afterwards passed. There Cuchulain killed Cronn and Coemdele and ...

The warriors of the four grand provinces of Erin pitched camp and took quarters that night at Belat Aileain (‘the Island’s Crossway’). Belat Aileain was its name up to then, but Glenn Tail (‘Glen of Shedding’) is henceforth its name because of the abundance of curds and of milk and of new warm milk which the droves of cattle and the flocks of the land of Conalle and Murthemne yielded there that night for the men of Erin. And Liasa Liac (‘Stone Sheds’) is another name for it to this day, and it is for this it bears that name, for it is there that the men of Erin raised cattle-stalls and byres for their herds and droves between Cualnge and Conalle. Botha is still another name for it, for the men of Erin erected bothies and huts there.

The four of the five grand provinces of Erin took up the march until they reached the Sechair in the west on the morrow. Sechair was the name of the river hitherto; Glaiss Gatlaig (‘Osier-water’) is its name henceforward. And Glaiss Gatlaig rose up against them. Now this is the reason it had that name, for it was in osiers and ropes that the men of Erin brought their flocks and droves over across it, and the entire host let the osiers and ropes drift with the stream after crossing. Hence the name, Glaiss Gatlaig. Then they slept at Druim Fenè in Conalle. These then are their stages from Cualnge to the plain (of Conalle Murthemni) according to this version. Other authors of this Work and other books aver that they followed another way on their journeyings from Finnabair to Conalle.