Celtic Legends of Ireland

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Ladonia Discussion Board ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Sir Randal MacNiall Bundy of Elstow on February 22, 1998 at 08:17:45:

Tochmarc Etaine

from the "Yellow Book of Lecan"

These Ancient Celtic Legends have been traditionally
past down from generation to generation. As such they
were preserved through the ages and are here presented
by: Sir Randal "of Elstow.

Part I Here Begins the Wooing of Etain:

1. There was a famous king of Ireland of the race of the
Tuatha De, Eochaid Ollathair his name. He was also named
the Dagda [i.e.good god], for it was he that used to work
wonders for them and control the weather and the crops.
Wherefore men said he was called the Dagda. Elcmar of the
Brug had a wife whose name was Eithne and another name for
her was Boand. The Dagda desired her in carnal union. The
woman would have yielded to the Dagda had it not been for
fear of Elcmar, so great was his power. Thereupon the Dagda
sent Elcmar away on a journey to Bres son of Elatha in
Mageninis, and the Dagda worked great spells upon Elcmar
as he set out, that he might not returns betimes (that is,
early) and he dispelled the darkness of night for him, and
he kept hunger and thirst from him. He sent him on long
errands, so that nine months went by as one day, for he
had said that he would return home again between day and
night. Meanwhile the Dagda went in upon Elcmar's wife, and
she bore him a son, even Aengus, and the woman was whole
of her sickness when Elcmar returned, and he perceived not
her offense, that is, that she had lain with the Dagda.

2. The Dagda meanwhile brought his son to Midir's house in
Bri Leith in Tethba, to be fostered. There Aengus was reared
for the space of nine years. Midir had a great playing-field
in Bri Leith. Thrice fifty lads of the young nobles of Ireland
were there and thrice fifty maidens of the land of Ireland.
Aengus was the leader of them all, because of Midir's great
love for him, and the beauty of his form and the nobility of
his race. He was also called in Mac Oc (the Young Son), for
his mother said: "Young is the son who was begotten at the
break of day and born betwixt it and evening."

3. Now Aengus quarreled with Triath son of Febal (or Gobor)
of the Fir Bolg, who was one of the two leaders in the game,
and a fosterling of Midir. It was no matter of pride with
Aengus that Triath should speak to him, and he said: "It irks
me that the son of a serf should hold speech with me," for
Aengus had believed until then that Midir was his father, and
the kingship of Bri Leith his heritage, and he knew not of
his kinship with the Dagda.

4. Triath made answer and said: "I take it no less ill that a
hireling whose mother and father are unknown should hold speech
with me." Thereupon Aengus went to Midir weeping and sorrowful
at having been put to shame by Triath. "What is this?" said Midir.
"Triath has defamed me and cast in my face that I have neither
mother nor father." "Tis false," said Midir. "Who is my mother,
from whence is my father" "No hard matter. Thy father is Eochaid
Ollathair," said Midir, "and Eithne, wife of Elcmar of the Brug,
is thy mother. It is I that have reared thee unknown to Elcmar,
lest it should cause him pain that thou wast begotten in his
despite." "Come thou with me," said Aengus, "that my father may
acknowledge me, and that I may no longer be kept hidden away
under the insults of the Fir Bolg."

5. Then Midir set out with his fosterling to have speech with
Eochaid, and they came to Uisnech of Meath in the center of
Ireland, for 'tis there that was Eochaid's house, Ireland
stretching equally far from on every side, south and north,
to east and west. "Before them in the assembly they found
Eochaid. Midir called the king aside to have speech with the
lad. "What does he desire, this youth who has not come until
now?" "His desire is to be acknowledged by his father, and
for land to be given to him," said Midir, "for it is not meet
that thy son should be landless while thou art king of Ireland."
"He is welcome," said the Eochaid, "he is my son. But the
land I wish him to have is not yet vacant." "What land is
that?" said Midir. "The Brug, to the north of the Boyne,"
said Eochaid. "Who is there?" said Midir. "Elcmar," said
Eochaid, "is the man who is there I have no wish to annoy
him further."

6 "Pray, what counsel dost thou give this lad?" said Midir.
"I have this for him," said Eochaid. "On the day of Samain
let him go into the Brug, and let him go armed. That is a
day of peace and amity among the men of Ireland, on which none
is at enmity with his fellow. And Elcmar will be in Cnoc Side
in Borga unarmed save for a fork of white hazel in his hand,
his cloak folded around him and a gold brooch in his cloak,
and three fifties playing before him in the playing-field; and
let Aengus go to him and threaten to kill him. But it is meet
that he slay [end p. 145] him not, provided he promise him his
will. And let this be the will of Aengus, that he be king for
a day and a night in the Brug; and see that thou not yield the
land to Elcmar till he submit himself (?) to my decision; and
when he comes let Aengus plea be that the land has fallen to
him, and that he in fee simple for sparing Elcmar and not
slaying him, and that what he had asked for is kingship of day
and night, and" said he, "it is in days and nights that the
world is spent."

7. Then Midir sets out for his land, and his foster-son along
with him, and on the Samain following, Aengus having armed
himself came into the Brug and made a feint at Elcmar, so that
he promised him in return for his life kingship of day and
night in his land. The Mac Oc straightway abode there that day
and night as king of the land, Elcmar's household being subject
to him. On the morrow Elcmar came to claim his land from the
Mac Oc, and therewith threatened him mightily. The Mac Oc said
that he would not yield up his land until he should put it to
the decision of the Dagda in the presence of the men of Ireland.

8. Then they appeal to the Dagda, who adjudged each man's contract
in accordance with his undertaking. "So then this land accordingly
belongs henceforth to this youth," said Elcmar. "It is fitting,"
said the Dagda. "Thou was taken unawares on a day of peace and
amity. Thou gavest thy land for mercy shown thee, for thy life was
dearer to thee than thy land, yet thou shalt have land from me that
will be no less profitable to thee than the Brug." "Where is that?"
said Elcmar. "Cleitech," said the Dagda, "with the three lands that
are round about it, thy youths playing before thee every day in
the Brug, and thou shalt enjoy the fruits of the Boyne from this
land." "It is well," said Elcmar; "so shall it be accomplished." And
he made a flitting to Cleitech, and built a stronghold there, and
Mac Oc abode in the Brug in his land.

9. Then Mider came on that day year to the Brug on a visit to his
fosterling, and he found the Mac Oc on the mound of Sid in Broga
on the day of Samain, with two companies of youth at play before
him in the Brug, and Elcmar on the mound of Cleitech to the south,
watching them. A quarrel broke out among the youths in the Brug.
"Do not stir," said Midir to the Mac Oc, "because of Elcmar, lest
he come down to the plain. I will go myself to make peace between
them." Thereupon Midir went, and it was not easy for him to part them.
A split of holly was thrown at Midir as he was intervening, and it
knocked one of his eyes out. Midir came to the Mac Oc with his eye
in his hand and said to him: "Would that I had not come on a visit
to thee, to be put to shame, for with this blemish I cannot behold the
land I have come to, and the land I have left, I cannot return to it

10. "It shall in no wise be so," said the Mac Oc. "I shall go to
Dian Cecht that he may come and heal thee, and thine own land shall
be thine and this land shall be thine, and thine eye shall be whole
again without shame or blemish because of it." The Mac Oc went to
Dian Cecht. [...](2) that thou mayest go with me," said he, "to save
my foster-father who has been hurt in the Burgh on the day of the
Samain." Dian Cecht came and healed Midir, so that he was whole again.
"Good is my journeying now," said Midir, "since I am healed." "It
shall surely be so," said the Mac Oc. "Do thou abide here for a year
that thou mayest see my host and my folk, my household and my land."

11. I will not stay," said Midir, "unless I have a reward therefore."
"What reward?" said the Mac Oc. "Easy to say. A chariot worth seven
cumals,"(3) said Midir, "and a mantle befitting me, and the fairest
maiden in Ireland." "I have," said the Mac Oc, "the chariot, and the
mantle befitting thee." "There is moreover," said Midir, "the maiden
that surpasses all the maidens in Ireland in form." "Where is she?"
said the Mac Oc. "She is in Ulster," said Midir, "Ailill"s daughter
Etain Echraide daughter of the king of the north-eastern part of
Ireland. She is the dearest and gentlest and loveliest in Ireland."

12. The Mac Oc went to seek her until he came to Ailill's house in
Mag nInis. He was made welcome, and he abode three nights there. He
told his mission and announced his name and race. He said that it was
in quest of Etain that he had come. "I will not give her to thee," said
Ailill, "for I can in no way profit by thee, because of the nobility
of thy family, and the greatness of thy power(4) and that of thy father.
If thou put any shame on my daughter, no redress whatsoever can be had
of thee." "It shall not be so," said the Mac Oc. "I will buy her from
thee straightway." "Thou shall have that," said Ailill. "State thy
demand," said the Mac Oc. "No hard matter," said Ailill. "Thou shalt
clear for me twelve plains in my land that are under waste and wood, so
that they may be at all times for grazing cattle and for habitation to
me, for games, assemblies, gatherings, and strongholds."

13. "It shall be done," said the Mac Oc. He returns home and bewailed
to the Dagda the strait he was in. The latter caused twelve plains to
be cleared in a single night in Ailill's land. These are the names of
the plains: Mag Macha, Mag Lemna, Mag

Thus ends part one. Parts two and three will be presented

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Ladonia Discussion Board ] [ FAQ ]