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Full text of "Laegaire Mac Crimthann's Visit to Fairyland"


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The following tale is found in the twelfth-century Book of Leinster 
[LL.] (Facsimile, p. 275, b, 22— p. 276, b, 25) and in the fifteenth- 
century Book of Lismore (167, r., o, 24 — 167, v., a, 32). Text and 
translation of the Lismore manuscript, which omits the verse, are 
given by S. H. O'Grady in Silva Gadelica (London and Edinburgh, 
1892, I, 256 f.; II, 290 f.). Most of the verse has been translated 
by Kuno Meyer in the Voyage of Bran (London, 1895, I, 180 ff.) and 
in his Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry (2d ed., London, 1913, 
p. 19). In the English rendering of the LL. version here offered, I 
have, wherever possible, followed the translations of Dr. Meyer, to 
whom I am also indebted for personal assistance. In translating 
the prose I have derived much help from the valuable, though inac- 
curate, rendering of the Lismore text given by O'Grady. Owing 
to the large number of errors in O'Grady's transcription, I reprint 
the Lismore version, which I was able to consult in 1912 through the 
courtesy of the Duke of Devonshire's agent at Lismore Castle. 
Summaries of the tale are given by Nutt (Voyage of Bran, I, 180 ff.) 
and by A. C. L. Brown ([Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII [1903], 40, 
n. 2). The student of folk-lore will be interested in the story as an 
early example of the fairy world under water — a feature common in 
later Celtic popular literature (cf. this journal, XII [1915], 603, 
nn. 2 and 3). 


Batar Connachta fecht and i n-dail oc Enloch for Mag Af. Cremthand 
Cass iss 6 M ri Connacht in tan sin. Ansait inan dail in aidchi sin. Otrach- 
tatar matin moch arnabarach conaccatar in fer chucu triasin ciaig. Bratt 
corcra coicdiabulta imbi. Da sMeig cofcriwni in a laim. Sciath co m-buali 
olr fair. Claideb orduirn for a chriss. A mong 6rbuide dar a aiss. "Ta- 
braid f&ilti dond ihir doth^t chucaib," or Laegaire Llban mac Crimthand. 
Moc-saide is alnem rob6i la Connachta, in Laegaire. "Fochen don laech 
nadathgenamar," or Laegaire. "Is bude lim," or se. "Cid imm6tracht?" 
or Laegaire. "Do chungid sochraide," or se. "Can duit?" or Laegaire. 
"Do fAeruib side dam. Fiachna mac Retach m'ainm-se. Mo ben iarwm 

731] 155 [Modern Philology, April, 1916 

156 Tom Peete Cboss 

rucad uaim .i. rofuc Eochaid mac Sail. Dorochair-side lim-sa i rr6i chatha, 
condeochaid co mac brathar d6 .i. co Goll mac nDuilb, rl duin Maige Mell. 
Doratusa secht catha doside, 7 romemdatar form uile. Forruacrad iarum 
cath lind indiu. Do chungid chobartha iarum dodechadsa." ISandasbert: 

"Aildiu maigib, Mag da Cheo, 
iwma luadet linni cr6. 
Cath fer side Ian do gail, 
ni clan disMu inid fail. 

"Tindsamar fuil fichda fland 
a corpaib segda s6erchland. 
For a collaib ferait br6n 
bantrocht dian derach dfm6r. 

"Cet orggain cathrach da chorr, 
iwma rabe toeban toll. 
Dorochair co cind fri cath, 

Eochaid mac Sail sirechtach. 

"Tren ronbagi Aed mac Find 
in n-irgail n-uallaig n-adrind. 
Goll mac Duilb, Dond mac Nera, 
ronbagi m6r caemchenna. 

"Maithi m'eich, ailli mo mna. 
me fadem ni Aed namma, 
Urrand argait 7 6ir. 
teit liw cacA duine dian ail.'A. 

"Findne gela [i]na llaim, 
co cowiarthaib argait bain, 
Co claidbib glanaib glassaib, 
cornaib cruachaib comrasaib. 

"Co cowarlib in chatha 
ar beluib a find[f]latha 
Cengait dar gao glassa 
buidni bana bar[r]chassa. 

"Crot[h]ait irgala ecrat, 
orcit cech tir fo-n-uapret. 
Cain cengait uili don chath, 
sluag dian deligthe diglach. 

"Deithbtr d6ib cid mor am brig; 
at meic 2 rigna 7 rig. 
Fil for a cennaib uile 
monga aille 6rbuide. 

1 As Meyer observes, the bad rhyme between 6ir and dil indicates that the stanza 
is corrupt. The letter A shows that the first of the two poems which are here pieced 
together ends at this point. The last poem also consists of two fragments, the first 
ending at the letter A. 

' Leg. male. 


Laegaibe Mac Crimthann's Visit to Faibyland 157 

"Co corpaib mmib massaib, 
roscaib relib rindglassaib, 
fiaclaib glain[id]ib glanaib, 
belaib dergaib tanaidib. 

"It maithe fri guin [n-]duine, 
binne fri uair cormthige. 
Sech it suithe for rannaib, 
iddera 1 for fidchellaib." findne. 

Lasin ims6i liadib. "Mebol duib," or Laegaire, "cen chobraid ind 
fMr." Fon6pairstde .1. laech ina diaid. Gaibidside remib fon loch. 
Gabaitseom dano ina diaid. Conaccatar an diinad ar a cind 7 in cath in 
agid araile. Esseom rempo corranic an diinad .i. Fiachra (sic!) mac Retach. 
Condrancatar i suidiu na da chath. "Maith, a F/iiachnai," or Loegaire, 
" condricub-sa frisin toesech anall .1. laech." "Roticub-sa iramoro," or 
Goll mac Duilb. ImMostuarcat andfb coicdaib cotulaid Loegaire ass a 
choicait im bethaid iar tuitim Guill con a choecait. Maidid in cath remib 
iarsin coralad a n-ar. " Caft i t& in ben ? " or Laegaire. " Ata in dun Maige 
Mell," ol Fiachna, "7 leth in t-sMuafg impe." "Anaid sund condarisa 
mo ch6icait," or Laegaire. Luid iarwm Loegaire corranic an dun. Robas 
immoro oc gabail in diiine. "Bid bee torbai," or Laegaire. "Dorochair 
far ri 7 dorochratar for c6im. Lecid in mnai immach 7 tabar slan diiib 
taris." Dognlther on, 7 is and asbert si oc tuidecht immach .i. osnad 
ingen Echach Amlabair: 

"Nip inmain ]& negtar fuidb 
foblth corpaln Guill mate Duilb, 
Nech rocharusa, romchar! 
ni sceol Laegaire Lfban! 

"Ba mellchu lim dul [don] dail, 
ingnais Echada mote Sail. 
Meti ni badam b6o 
d'ingnais rig Maige da Cheo. 

" Iarsain carsor Goll mac Duilb, 
lashgontais, [las] scailtis fuidb. 
Fo reir nD6 tiagsa immach 
dochum Fiachnai mai'c Retach." 

Luid Loegaire iarsin cotarat a laim i llaJm Fniachna, 7 foid ra Loegaire 
ind adaig sin .i. DeVgm'ne ingen FAiachna, 7 dobreth .1. ban da choicait 
laech. Anait leo co cend m^bKadna. "Tiagam do fnis sc61 ar tlri," or 
Laegaire. "Dia tisaid aridisi," or Fiachna, "berid eochu lib, 7 na tarlingid 
dlb." Dognither 6n. Tiagait corrancatar an 6inach. Connachta andsin 
bhadan Ian oc a chafnisium. 2 Condafairnechtar in oendail ar a chind.' 

• Meyer suggests a possible connection between the obscure iddera and fithir, which 
O'Reilly translates "a doctor, teacher." 

! Leg. cainisium( ?). » Leg. c ind( ?). 


158 Tom Peete Cross 

Rolingset Connachta do fAailti friu. "Na taet," or Loegaire. "Do chele- 
brad dfb dodechamar." " NachamfMcaib," or Crimthand. "Rige teora 
Connacht duit : a n-6r 7 a n-argat, a n-eich 7 a srein 7 a mna coema dot r&r, 
7 nachanfacaib." Conid and asbert Loegaire: 

"Amra sin, a Chrimthai'n Chaiss, 
carma imthecht da cech frais! 
Immam catha c6t mfle, 
techt arrige irrige. 

"Ceol soer sirechtach side, 
techt arrige irrige, 
01 a 1 stabaib glana, 
acallaim neich nocara. 

"Mescmai fairind ofr buide 
for fidchellaib fmdruine. 
Donfairic 61 meda mind 
la fianlaech n-uabrech n-imrind. 

" IS i mo ben-sa feme, 
ingen FMachna, Dergreine. 
Iarsain corai6cws-[sa] duit 
ben cech oenfAir dom choicait. 

"Tucsam a dun Maige Mell 
trichait core, trichait cornd. 
Tucsam osnaid canair 2 muir, 
ingin Echach Amlabair.A. 

"Amra sin, a Chrimthain Chais, 
ba-sa fiada claidib glais. 
Om-adaig do aidchib 5 side, 
ni thiber ar do rige." 

IArsin ros6i uadib is a sfd doridise, conidfil i Uethrfge int sMda fri 
Fiachna mac Retach .i. in dun Maige Mell, 7 ingen F/uachnai inna 




Batur Condachta fecht ann an dail oc Enloch for Maigft Ai. Crimthand 
Cass ba ri Connacht in tan sin. Ansat in aigt/ie sin isin dail. Atrachtatar 
matun mAoch arnam/iarach cunfftactatar an fer chuca triasin ciaich. Brat 

' Meyer would read a[sa], "out of their," to make up the requisite number of syllables. 
1 As Meyer suggests, canair appears to be miswritten for canas. 
> Meyer emends to d'aidchib. 


Laegaire Mac Crimthann's Visit to Fairyland 159 

corcra coicdiabuil iwbe. D£ stileig coicrinn 'na lamiA. Sciath co wi-buaili 
oirfair. ClaidAiuwA ordAuirn for a cris. Mong6rbAuidAidaraais. "TabA- 
raidA failte don f Air dothoet chucaib," for LaegAaire LfbAan mac CrimAthainn. 
Macseide is ainemA bui la Connachta. "Focen don loech n& ataithgAenmar," 
ol LaogAaire. "Is buidhe lem," ol se. "CidA ima tudAchad?" ol 
LaegAoire. "Do chungAidA sAochraiti," ol se. "Can duit?" or Loegaire. 
"Do fAeruibA sithe dam," or se. "Fiachna mac Retach mo ainm. Mo ben 
rorfucadA dom cAinn .i. rosfuc Eochaid mac Sail. DorochairsidAe limsa 
a-raei catha. Condechaid side co mac brathar dA6 .i. cu Goll mac Duilb, 
rf duine Muige Meall. Doraduisa vii catha dAo 7 romeabAutar form uile. 
ForfuacradA cath linn inniu, 7 do chuingidA cAabAurtha dodAeochadaisa 7 
dober uarrann argait 7 uirann oir da gach aoinfAer diand ail do chinn tecAia 
lem." LasodAuin imsoi uadAaibh. "IS meabAul duibA" or LoegAuire, 
"cen cabAuir ind fAir ut." ForfAuabuirside coecat loech 'na dAiaigA. GabA- 
aidAsidAe reimAeibA fon loch. GabAaitsiumA dono 'na dAaighA. Atconnca- 
tar in dunad ar a cind 7 in catA agAaidA i n-aigAaidA. TeitsiumA rempa 
corainic a dunad .i. FiacAna mac Retach. ConfAacatar na da cAatA i 
suidAe. "Maith tra," or LoegAaire, "condricabsa frisin toisiuch anall 
coecat loech." "RottincubAsa," ar Goll mac DuilbA. Imustuai'rcet 
andibA coecdaibA. DoluidA Loegaire ais \m bethaid con a coecat iar toitim 
GAuill con a coecat ime. MaidAidA in cath reimibA iarsin cu raladA a 
n-ar. " Cait i ta in ben ? " or LaogAaire. " Ata in dunad MuigAi Meall," or 
Fiachna, "7 in t-sluaig immpe." "AnaidA sund contarossa 7 mo .1.," ol 
Loeghaire. Luid Laoghaire iarwm co dunad MAuige Meall. Robas immoro 
oc gabAail in duine. "Bid bee tarbAa," or Laegaire. "Dorochuir bAar ri 7 
dorochratar bar coeimA. Lecid in mnai iwimach 7 tabar slan duib thairis." 
Dognither on. Is ann isbert oc( ?) tuidecht imach .i. osnadA ingin Echach 
Amlabair. LuidA Loegaire iarsin cutard a laimA i Uaim FAiachnai, 7 ro- 
foidAedA re Laegaire in aigAthe sin .i. Dergreine, ingen Fiachna, ocus 
[tuc]atA(?) coecait ban da coecat laech, occus anaid leo co cenn m-bHadna. 
"TigAuimne do fAios sc61 ar tire," oul 1 Loegaire. "Dia tisaidA doridisi," uol 
Fiachna, 2 "beridA eocha lib 7 na turlingidA dAib." Dognither on. TiagAait 
currancatar int aenach. Batar Connachta andsin oc cainedA in fAiallaig 
remraitti i cind na bliadna. Condasairnechtar ar a cAind. 3 Rolingset 
ConnacAta do fAailte friu. "Na toeit," or Laegaire. "Do cAeileabAradA 
duibA dodAechamar." "NachamfacoibA," ar Crimthann. "Rigiu teora 
Connacht duit : a n-or 7 a n-arcat, a n-eich 7 a srein 7 a mna coemai dot reir, 
7 nachamfacaibA." Iarsin rosoi uadAibA isin sitA doridisi, condofil i lethrfgi 
int sAfdAa fri Fiachna mac Retach, 7 in^en Fiachna 'na fAairad, 7 ni thainic as 
fos. Finit. 

i On the margin is written "ar tire oul." 
1 On the margin is written "doridisi oul." 
•Leg. cind (?). 


160 Tom Pebte Cross 



Once upon a time the men of Connaught were in assembly at Bird Lake 
upon the plain of Ai. At that time Crimthann Cass was king of Connaught. 
That night they remained assembled. When they arose next morning, they 
saw a man coming toward them through the mist: a purple five-folded 
mantle about him, two five-barbed spears in his hand, a shield with a boss of 
gold upon him, a gold-hilted sword at his belt, and a golden-yellow mane 
behind him. "Give welcome to the man who comes to you!" said Laegaire 
Liban son of Crimthann. The noblest youth among the men of Connaught 
was Laegaire. "Welcome to the warrior whom we have not known," said 
Laegaire. "Thanks!" said he. "Wherefore hast thou come?" said 
Laegaire. "To seek for a band of men," he replied. "Whence art thou ?" 
said Laegaire. "Of the men of the fairy-mound am I," he answered. 
" Fiachna son of Retu is my name. My wife, moreover, has been taken from 
me; i.e., Eochaid son of Sal took her. He fell by me on the field of battle. 
She has gone to a brother's son of his; i.e., to Goll son of Dolb, king of the 
fort of Mag Mell. 1 I have given him seven battles and they have all gone 
against me. Moreover, a battle has been declared by us for to-day. To 
seek help, therefore, have I come." Then he said: 

"Most delightful of plains is the Plain of Two Mists, 
On which stir up pools of blood 
A battalion of fairy men full of valor. 
Not far hence is where it is. 

"We drew foaming dark-red blood 
From stately bodies of nobles. 
Upon their corpses pour out grief 
An eager, tearful, countless band of women. 

"The first slaughter of the city of Da Chorr, 
Near (lit., around) which was a beloved pierced side 

(i.e., body) : 
He with his head to the battle fell, 
Eochaid son of Sal, the wistful. 

"Stoutly boasted Aed son of Find 
Of the proud spear-attacking ( ?) battalion, — 
Goll son of Dolb, Dond son of Nera, — 
Boasted of many noble-headed ones (or 'noble chiefs' ?). 

" Good are my steeds, delightful are my women. 
As for myself, not that only, — 
Abundance of silver and gold. 
With me goes each swift man who likes. 

1 One of the names for the fairy world of the ancient Irish. 


Laegaibe Mac Crimthann's Visit to Fairyland 161 

"White shields (they carry) in their hands, 
With devices of pale silver, 
With glittering blue swords, 
With big stout horns. 

"In well-devised fashion the hosts 
Before their fair chieftain 
March amid blue spears, 
White curly-haired bands. 

"They scatter the battalions of the foe, 
They ravage every land which they attack; 
Splendidly they all march to combat, 
An impetuous, distinguished, avenging host! 

"No wonder though their strength be great; 
Sons of kings and queens are they. 
On all their heads are 
Beautiful golden-yellow manes. 

"With smooth stately bodies, 
With bright star-blue eyes, 
With pure crystal teeth, 
With thin red lips. 

"Good are they at slaying men, 
Sweet at the hour of the ale-house ( 7) 1 
Apart from being masters in verse-making, 
They are skilled at playing fidchell."* 

Thereupon he turns from them. "Shame upon you," said Laegaire, 
"if you do not help the man." Fifty warriors betook themselves after him. 
He goes before them under the lake; then they follow him. They 
saw a fort before them, and a battalion face to face with them. He 
(i.e., Fiachna son of Retu) went ahead of them until he reached the fort. 
In it they came upon two battalions. "Well, oh Fiachna," said Laegaire, 
" I will make an attack upon the chief from the other side [with] fifty warriors." 
"I on my part will answer (lit., reach) thee," said Goll, son of Dolb. In 
their two fifties they smote each other until Laegaire came out of his fifty 
alive after the fall of Goll with his fifty. Then the battle breaks before 
them so that there resulted a slaughter of Goll's band. "Where is the 
woman?" said Laegaire. "She is in the fort of Mag Mell," said Fiachna, 
"and half the host around her." "Remain ye here till I reach her [with] 
my fifty," said Laegaire. Thereupon Laegaire went until he arrived at the 
fort. Moreover they were a-taking the fortress. "Little will be your 

1 This conjectural rendering I owe to Dr. Meyer, who In his Voyage of Bran (I, 181) 
translates the line: "At all times melodious are they." In Ancient Irish Poetry (p. 19) 
he gives It: "Melodious In the alehouse." 

8 A game apparently resembling chess. 


162 Tom Peete Cross 

profit [from resistance]," said Laegaire. "Your king has been slain; your 
nobles have fallen. Let the woman forth, and safety is granted you there- 
upon." It is so done, and on coming forth she uttered [the following] : to wit, 
the plaint of the daughter of Eochaid the Mute: 

"Hateful the day on which weapons are washed 1 
For the sake of the dear dead body of Goll son of Dolb, 
One whom I loved, who loved me! 
Laegaire Liban — little he cares! 

"It was very pleasant to me to go tc the gathering 
In the company of Eochaid son of Sal. 
Feign would I not be alive ( ?) 
Because of the absence of the king of the Plain of Two Mists. 

"Thereafter I loved Goll son of Dolb, 
By whom weapons were hacked and split. 
Under the will of God let me go out 
To Fiachna son of Retu." 

Thereupon Laegaire went until he gave her hand into the hand of Fiachna. 
And Dergreine, the daughter of Fiachna, slept with Laegaire that night, and 
there were given fifty women to his fifty warriors. They remained with them 
(the fairy-folk) to the end of a year. "Let us go to seek tidings of our land," 
said Laegaire. "If you would come back," said Fiachna, "take horses with 
you and do not get down from them." It is so done. They went until they 
reached the assembly, the men of Connaught having been there a full 
year mourning for them, so that they came upon them in one assembly 
before them. The men of Connaught sprang to welcome them. "Do not 
approach," said Laegaire. "To say farewell to you have we come." "Do 
not leave me!" said Crimthann. "The rule of the three Connaughts shall 
be thine; their gold and their silver, their horses and their bridles and their 
noble women shall be at thy command, only do not leave me!" Then said 
Laegaire : 

"A marvel this, Crimthann Cass, 
Beer comes [down] with every shower !(?) 2 
The driving of a battalion of a hundred thousand, 
They go from kingdom to kingdom. 

"The noble wistful music of the sid! 
Going from kingdom to kingdom, 
Drinking from crystal cups, 
Holding converse with the loved one. 

1 That is, the day of battle, on which weapons are washed in blood. Meyer. 

•Meyer (Voyage of Bran, I, 182) renders this line: "When it rains 'tis beer that 
falls!" He now suggests the possibility that frais means 'attack,' but even in that case 
the line is obscure. 


Laegaibe Mac Crimthann's Visit to Fairyland 163 

"We mix chess-men of yellow gold 
Upon chess-boards of white bronze. 
There has come to us drinking of clear mead, 
With a proud spear-surrounded ( ?) warrior. 

" My wife, my own unto me, 
Is Daughter of the Sun, Fiachna's daughter. 
Besides, I shall tell to thee, 
There is a wife for each man of my fifty. 

"We have brought from the fort of Mag Mell 
Thirty caldrons, thirty drinking-horns. 
We have brought the plaint that the sea chants (?), 
The daughter of Eochaid the Dumb. 

"A marvel this, Crimthann Cass, 
I was master of a blue sword. 
One night of the nights of the sid 
I would not give for thy kingdom." 

Thereupon he turns from them back into the fairy-mound. Conse- 
quently he is now in joint kingship over the fairy-mound — i.e., the fort of 
Mag Mell — with Fiachna son of Retu, and the daughter of Fiachna [is] in 
his company (i.e., is his wife). 

Tom Peete Cross 
University of Chicago