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“A blessing on every one who shall faithfully memorise the Táin as it is written here and shall not add any other form to it.” (unknown scribe, The Book of Leinster 12th C.)

"Lorcan MacMathuna gathers from the air something which is older than the Tain - ageless, primaeval and haunting. He has caught and manifest for us a sound which is fundamental; which has existed since men and women first sang - sang to express what they felt and what they knew to be true. It is the music of mythology - all the cadences of history and prehistory residing in one man's voice. It calls to the soul. And the soul answers. And we are privileged to listen and to hear in our own blood and in the fibres of our understanding." -KATE NEWMAN, Poet and Publisher

“But I who have written this story, or rather fable, give no credence to the various incidents related in it. For some things in it are the deceptions of demons, others poetic figments; some are probable, others improbable; while still others are intended for the delectation of foolish men. (unknown scribe, The Book of Leinster 12th C.)


Movement 1 - The Pillow Talk

Once upon a time it befell Aillil and Maedhb that when their royal bed had been prepared for them in Ráth Crúachain in Connacht they spoke together as they lay on their pillow.

In truth said Aillil, she is a well off woman who is the wife of a nobleman. I think so said Ailill because you are better off today than when I married you.

Said Maedbh, for you are a man dependent on a woman’s marriage portion. Not so was I said Aillil. For there is none who has greater possessions than I, and I know there is not.

Then their herds of cattle were brought to them. They were counted and were of equal size and number. But among Aillil’s cows there was a special bull; Findbeannach

Then Mac Roth the herald was summoned to Maedhb. Go you there, Mac Roth, and ask of Dáire for me a years loan of Donn Cúailnge.

And he shall have the extent of his own land in the level plain of Mag Aí and a chariot worth thrice seven bondsmaids, and he shall have my own intimate friendship.

Fecht n-oén do Ailill
agus do Meidb íar ndérgud a
rígleptha dóibh i gCrúachanráith Chonnacht
arrecaim comrád chind cherchailli eturru.

a ingen, bar Ailill, is maith ben
ben dagfhir. Is de atá lim, bar Ailill
ar is ferr su indiu indá in lá thucus-sa thú

Ar Medb dáig
fer art incur atatchomnaic. Ní amlaid
sin bá-sa ar Ailill, ar ní fhil nech is lia
seóit agus móine agus rafetar na fáil.

Tugait dano
a n-alma agus roptar cutrumma
comméti comlínmair dóib. Acht boí tarb
sainemail ar búib Ailella Findbennach.

Mac Roth ind echlach co Meidb and sin.
Tó duit-siu connici sain, a Mec Roth cunnig
dam-sa for Dáre íasacht mhbliadna Dund Cúalnge,

Ragaid comméit
a fheraind féin do mín Maige Aí dó
agus carapat trí secht cumal dó,
agus ragaid cardes mo shliasta-sa fessin


Movement 2 - The Prophesy of Fidelm

I see a fair man who will perform weapon-feats
with many a wound in his fair flesh.
The hero’s light is on his brow,
his forehead is the meeting place of many virtues.

His face is the fairest.
He amazes womenfolk,
a young lad of handsome countenance;
yet in battle he shows a dragon’s form.

His two spears across the wheel-rim of his battle chariot.
High above valour is the distorted one.
So he has hitherto appeared to me,
but I am sure that he would change his appearance.

He has moved forward to the battle.
If he is not warded off there will be destruction.
It is he who seeks you in combat. Cú
Chullain Mac Sualtaim.

He will lay low your entire army,
and he will slaughter you in dense crowds.
Ye shall leave with him all your heads.
The prophetess Fidelm conceals it not

Blood will flow from heroes’ bodies.
Long will it be remembered.
Men’s bodies will be hacked, women will lament,
through the hound of the smith that I see.

Atchíu fer find firfes chless
Co lín chret ima cháemenes
Lond láith I n-airthuir a chind
Ó enach búada ina thilcind

A dá dléig dar fonnad nglé
Ard ás gail in ríastarde
Cruth domarfáit air co se
Derb limm no chlóemchlaffed gnée

Ro fail gnúis is grátam dó
Dober mod do bancuireo
Gilla óc is delbdu dath
Tadbait delb drecoin don chath

Ro gab tascugud don chath
Meni faichlither bid brath
Don chomlund is é farsaig
Cú Chulaind mac Sualtaim

Slaidfid for slúaga slána
Concurfe far tiugára
Faicébthai leis óg for cend
Ní cheil in bánfaid Feidelm

Sílfid crú a cnessaib curad
Bud fata bas chianchuman
Beit cuirp cerbtha, cáinfit mná
Ó Choin na Cerdda atchíu-sa


Movement 3 - The slighting of Cú Chulainn

Is that the fair hound of whom ye Ulstermen speak, no man who faces hardship but can ward him off from the men of Ireland

Though young the Hound you see there who rides over Mag Muirthemne, no man who places foot on earth but he will repel in single combat.

If you would accept from us O triumphant hound of Cúailgnge, half your cows and half your womenfolk, you will get them from us through fear of you.

O daughter of Eochu Find Fáil I am no good in such a contention. Though I am a warrior –clear omen- my counsels are few.


Más é ucain in Cú cain
Itirid si infar nUltaib
Ní thabhair a thraig fri tend
Ná dingaib d’fheraib Hérend

Cid oc in Cú sin atchí
Imriada Mag Murthemni
Ní tabhair fri talmain traig
Ná dingba ar galaib óenfhir

Mad dia ngabtha-su úanni
A Chú chomramach Cúalgni
Leth do bó agus leth do ban
Rot biad dáig is ecengal

A ingen Echach Find Fáil
Nídam maith-se oc immarbáig
Acht cidam láech-sa líth nglé
Att úaitte mo chomairle



Movement 4 - Cú Chulainn's Sleep

Go forth from me, o láeg.
Let the hosts be roused.
Tell them for me in strong Emain that each day in battle
I am weary, and I am wounded and bloody.

Tell noble Conchobar that I am weary,
wounded sorein my side.
Greatly has Deichtire’s dear son,
he of many retinues, changed in appearance.

With my spearlet I warded off the she-wolf
and destroyed her eye.
I broke her legs
at the beginning of this mortal combat.

Why do not the Ulstermen give battle
to Ailill and the daughter of eochu.
While I am here in sorrow,
wounded and bloody as I am

Tell the great Ulstermen
to come and guard their drove.
The sons of Mága have carried off their cows
and divided them out amongst them.

Then Cú Culainn slept his deep slumber
at the Ferta in Lerga
till the end of three days
and three nights.

It was at this time that the youths came
southwards from Eamain Mhaca,
thrice fifty of the kings sons of Ulster,
and they gave battle thrice to the hosts

Air úaim, a Laíg laíder slúaig.
Cain dam I nEmain adrúiaid
Am turtursech cach dia ‘sin chath
Condam créchtach crólinnech

Apair fri Conchobar cáem
Atú tursech tiachairtáeb
Trén ra chlóechla chruth amne
Mac dil dronggach Dechtire

Is rem chlettín-se a cosc
An tsód ó ro mill a rocs
Ro brisses a gerr gara
Do thosuch na hégrada

cid d’Ultaib nach fegat cath
d’Ailill is d’ingin Echach
Tráth atú-sa sund I n-ach
Is mé créchtach crólinnennech

Apair ri Ultu ána
Tecat I ndiaid a tana
Rucsat meic Mágach a mbu
Agus ros raindset eturru

Is and sin cotlais Cú Chulaind
a thromthairthim cotulta
icond Fherta I lLergaib
co cend teóra láa agus teóra n-aidche.

Is hí sin amser dollatar
in maccrad atúaid ó hEmain Macha,
trí choícait mac do maccaib rí Ulad,
agus dosbertsat teóra Catha dona slúagaib.


Movement 5 - The Sorcerous Distortions

If this be the Distorted one, then
Many corpses will ensue
Cries resound in the walled courts,
Raves shall feast on mens’ feet

headstones shall be erected over graves,
increased by the royal dead;
Unlucky are ye that battle
with this solitary blade.

I see the wild ones form.
Nine heads he carries among his cushions.
I see the shattered spoils he brings,
And ten heads as treasured triumphs

I see your women’s faces
Raised above the line for him,
And I see your great queen
Dare not come to the fight

If I were your councellor,
Your army would form a plan
To surround him and cut short
The reign of the Torqued Man


Betit colla dóena de
Betit éigme de in lissu
Betit buind ri harissu
Betit brain ri brainessu

Betit corrthe de im lechta
Bud fórmach do rigmartra
Ní maith fararlith in cath
Ar leirg risin fóendelach

Atchíu chruth inn fóendelaich
Nóe cind leis i fóendelaib
Atchíu fadb leis na brétaig
Deich cind ina roshétaib

Atchíu forthócbat far mná
A n-aidche ósna urgalá
Atchíu-sa far rígan máir
Ná hérig dond imforráin

Dámbad mé bád chomarlid
Da betís óic di cach Leith
Coco gartigtis a ré
Mása é in riastarde

Movement 6 - Dinnseancahas (Instrumental)


Movement 7 - The Manipulation of Ferdia


A power of rings I give,
Extensive woods and plain,
Freedom for all your kin,
As long as they live.
Ah, Fer Diad Mac Damáin
You shall watch your wealth grow
Accept what is given
Others have done so

You shall have warriors as guarantee,
You shall choose who you please,
Into your hand
shall be given fine steeds and bridles
O valourous Fer Diad,
since you are a fearless man,
You shall be my confidant before all others
and free of tribute

O Maedbh great in boastfulness
Whom no king can confound
You are assuredly the master
in Crúachu of the mounds.
Loud your voice, Great your fierce strength
Bring me satin richly variegated,
Give me your gold and your silver
For you have offered them to me

Are you not the chief hero
To whom I shall give my circular broch
From today until Sunday,
No longer shall the respite be.
O strong and famous warrior,
All the finest treasures on earth
Shall thus be given to you
You shall have them all


Rat fia lúach mór mbuinne,
Rat chuit maige is chaille
Ra saíre do chlainne Á ‘ndiu co tí bráth
A Fhir Diad meic Damáin,
Eirggi guin is gabail
‘ tetha ás cech anáil
Ad duit gana gabáil
Aní gabas cách

Rat fiat laích rat lama
Noco raga ar dála
Sréin agus eich ána
Dabartatar rit láim
A Fhir Diad inn ága
Dáig isat duni dána
Dam-sa bat fer gráda
Sech cách gan nach cáín

A medb co mét mbúafaid
Nít chredb cáin núachair
Is derb is tú is búachail
Ar Crúachain na clad
Ard gló is art garnert
Domroiched sról santbrecc
Tuc dam th’ór is t’arget
Dáig ro fairgged dam

Nach tussu in cau codnac
Dá iber delgg ndolmach
Ó’ ndiu co tí domhnach
Níba dál bas sía
A laích blatnig bladmair
Cach sét cáem ar talmain
Dabérthar duit amlaid
Is uili rot fía


Movement 8 - Caoineadh Fherdia

Sad was the battle, that slaughtering battle
in which the son of Damán was struck down in weakness.
Alas the friend
to whom I served a drink of red blood has fallen

Had I seen you die
amidst the warriors of great Greece,
I should not have survived you,
we should have died together.

Sad what befalls us,
the fosterlings of Scáthach.
I am wounded and covered with red gore
while you no longer drive chariots.

Sad what befalls us,
the fosterlings of Scathach.
I am wounded and covered with red gore
while you lie dead.

Sad what befalls us,
the fosterlings of Scathach.
You dead I alive and strong.
Valour is an angry combat.

Findabair the daughter of Maedb,
however beautiful her form,
was given to you not for love of you
but to prove your noble might

Trúag in maten mated máirt
Ros bí mac Damáin díthráicht
Uchán do chara in cara
Dara dálius dig ndergfala

Dámbad and atcheind-sea th’éc
Eter míledaib mórGréc
Ní beind-se I mbethaid dar th’éis
Gombad aróen atbailméis

Is trúag aní nar tá de
Nar ndaltánaib Scáthaiche
Missi créchtach ba chrú rúad,
Tussu gan charptiu d’imlúad

Is trúag aní nar tá de
Nar ndaltánaib Scáthaiche
Missi créchtach ba chrú garb
Agus tussu ulimarb

Is trúag aní nar tá de
‘ nar ndaltánaib Scáthaige
Tussu d’éc missi beó brass
Is gleó ferge in ferachas

Findabair ingea medba
Gia beith d’fhebas a delba
A tabaiairt dait ní ar do sheirc
Acht do romad do rígneirt.


Movement 9 - Scread Ceann Sualtaim (The cries of Sualtaim's Head)

Sualtaim set forth on the Liath Macha to take these warnings to the Ulstermen.
Cú Culaind alone is checking and holding back the four great provinces of Ireland

Then the liath Macha reared under Sualtaim. And then Sualtaim’s own shield turned on Sualtaim and its rim cut off his head.

The horse itself turned back again into Eamain, with the shield on the horse and the head on the shield. An sualtaim’s head spoke the same words.

Men are slain, women carried off, cattle driven away, O Ulstermen said the head.
Men are slain, women carried off, cattle driven away, said Sulaltaim’s head

Táinic Sualtaim, reime forin, Líath Macha, leis do Ultaib.
Atá Cú Chulaind, a óenur ac fostud, ceithri n-ollchóiced nHérend

And sein driuchtrais, in Líath Macha, ba Sualtaim. Is and sain, imsuí a scíath,
féín bar Sualtaim, co tópacht bil a, scéith féin a chend de Sualtaim.

luid in t-ech féin, bar cúlu arís, I nEmain agus, in scíath barsinn
oech agus in cend, barsin sciath. ‘s rabert cend Sualtaim na briathra,

Fir gondair, mná berdair, báe aegdair, a Ultu bar cend
Fir gondair, mná berdair, báe aegdair, bar cend Sualtaim


Movement 10 - The Rut and Carnage

As for the Donn Cúailnge, when he saw the beautiful strange land, he bellowed loudly three times. The findbennach of Aí heard him and tossed his head violently and came forward to Crúachu to meet the Donn Cúailnge.

Each of the Bulls caught sight of the other and they pawed the ground and cast the earth over them. And each collided with the other with a crashing noise. Each of them began to gore and to pierce and to slay and slaughter the other.

And when night fell, all the men of Ireland could do was to listen to their noise and their uproar. That night the bulls traversed the whole of Ireland.
Not long were the men of Ireland there early on the morrow when they saw the Donn Cúailnge coming past Crúachú from the west with Findbennach Aí a mangled mass on his horns.

The Donn Cúailnge arrived. He tossed his head fiercly and shook of the Findbennach over Ireland.

He faced towards the North and came towards the land of Cúailnge to where the women and common folk were.

Then the Donn Cúailnge attacked the women and boys of the territory of Cúailnge and inflicted great slaughter on them.

After that he turned his back to the hill and his heart broke like a nut in his breast.

Imthúsa in Duind Chúalnge sunda innossa, á ‘t chonnaic-sén in tír n-álaind n-aneóil, rabert a thrí gémmend bar aird.
Atchúala in Findbennach Aí éside agus túargab a chend go díing agus tánic reme go Crúachain d’indsaigig in Duind Chúalnge

Atchonnaic cách a chéile dina taraib ‘s foclassa; búrach dóib, and is fócerddetar in n-úir thairisiu.
Ra gab cách díb bar tollad ‘gus bar tregdad ‘gus bar airlech agus bar essorgain araile is d’insaigid a chéile

Acus ára laig inn adaig, ní raib ad feraib Hérend acht éstecht re fúáim agus re fothrom.
Ra sírset na daim Hérind; uili in n-aidchi sin. Nírbo chian d’feraib Hérend dá mbátar and mochrád arnabárach go faccatar in dond Cúalnge dar Crúachain aníar, gus in Findbennach Aí ina ascarnaig ara bennaib.

Tháinig an Dunn Cuailgne Craith a ceann do dian is scaip sé an
findbheannach ar fud Éire

Gus diompaigh sé is thug sé aidhg ar tír Uí Cuailgne is tháínig sé
san áít ina raibh na miondaoine

Dionsaigh sé mná agus mnacaibh tír Uí Cuailgne agus runne sé,
á r mór agus slad mór orthú

Agus cas sé dhrom le fána an bheann agus scoilt a chroí mar,
Cnó a gcraoibh ina dhiadh sin.




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