The Silver Arm
Now Nuada was in his sickness, and Diancecht put on him a hand of silver with
the motion of every hand therein. That seemed evil to his son Miach. Miach
went to the hand which had been replaced by Diancecht, and he said "joint
to joint of it and sinew to sinew," and he healed Nuada in thrice
three days and nights.
The first seventy-two hours he put it against his
side, and it became covered with skin. The second seventy-two hours he
put it on his breast.... that cure seemed evil to Diancecht. He flung
a sword on the crown of his son's head and cut the skin down to the flesh.
The lad healed the wound by means of his skill. Diancecht smote him again
and cut the flesh till he reached the bone. The lad healed this by the
same means. He struck him a third blow and came to the membrane of his
brain. The lad healed this also by the same means. Then he struck the
fourth blow and cut out the brain so that Miach died, and Diancecht said
that the leech himself could not heal him of that blow.
Thereafter Miach was buried by Diancecht and herbs three hundred and sixty-five,
according to the number of his joints and sinews, grew through the grave.
Then Airmed opened her mantle and separated those herbs according to their
properties. But Diancecht came to her, and he confused the herbs, so that
no one knows their proper cures unless the Holy Spirit should teach them
afterwards. And Diancecht said "If Miach be not, Airmed shall remain."
So Bres held the sovereignty as it had been conferred upon him. But the chiefs
of the Tuatha De murmured greatly against him, for their knives were not
greased by him, and however often they visited him their breaths did not
smell of ale. Moreover, they saw not their poets nor their bards nor their
lampooners nor their harpers nor their pipers nor their jugglers nor their
fools amusing them in the household. They did not go to the contexts of
their athletes. They saw not their champions proving their prowess at
the king's court, save only one man, Ogma son of Ethliu.
This was the
duty which he had, to bring fuel to the fortress. He used to carry a bundle
every day from Clew Bay islands. And because he was weak from want of
food, the sea would sweep away from him two thirds of his bundle. So he
could only carry one third, and yet he had to supply the host from day
to day. Neither service nor taxes were paid by the tribes, and the treasures
of the tribe were not delivered by the act of the whole tribe.
Once upon a time there came a-guesting to Bre's house, Cairbre son of Etain,
poet of the Tuatha De. He entered a cabin narrow, black, dark, wherein
there was neither fire nor furniture nor bed. Three small cakes, and they
dry, were brought to him on a little dish. On the morrow he arose and
he was not thankful. As he went across the enclosure, he said:
Without food quickly on a dish:
Without a cow's milk whereon a calf grows;
Without a man's abode in the gloom of night:
Without paying a company of story-tellers, let that be Bre's condition.
Let there be no increase in Bres.
Now that was true. Naught save decay was on Bres from that hour. That is the
first satire that was ever made in Ireland.
Now after that the Tuatha De went together to have speech with their fosterson,
Bres son of Elotha, and demanded of him their sureties. He gave them the
restitution of the realm, and he was not well pleased with them for that.
He begged to be allowed to remain till the end of seven years. "That
shall be granted," said the same assembly; "but thou shalt remain
on the same security. Every fruit that comes to thy hand, both house and
land and gold and silver, cows and food, and freedom from rent and taxes
"Ye shall have as ye say," said Bres,
This is why they were asked for the delay: that he might gather the champions
of the fairy-mound, the Fomorians, to seize the tribes by force. Grievous
to him seemed his expulsion from his kingdom.
Then he went to his mother and asked her whence was his race. "I am certain
of that," said, she and she went on to the hill hence she had seen
the vessel of silver in the sea. She then went down to the strand, and
gave him the ring which had been left with her for him, and he put it round
his middle-finger and it fitted him,. For the sake of no one had she formerly
given it up, either by sale or gift. Until that day there was none whom
Then they went forward till they reached the land of the Fomorians. They came
to a great plain with many assemblies therein. They advanced to the fairest
of these assemblies. Tidings were demanded of them there. They replied
that they were of the men of Ireland. They were then asked whether they
had hounds; for at that time it was the custom, when a body of men went
to an assembly, to challenge them to a friendly contest. " We have
hounds." Said Bres. Then the hounds had a coursing-match, and the
hounds of the Tuatha De were swifter than the hounds of the Fomorians.
Then they were asked whether they had steeds for a horse-race. They answered,
" We have"; and their steeds were swifter than the steeds oaf
the Fomorians. They were then asked whether they had any one who was good
at sword-play. None was found save Bres alone. So when he set his hand
to the sword, his father recognized the ring on his finger and inquired
who was the hero. His mother answered on his behalf and told the king
that Bres was as son of his. Then she related to him the whole story even
as we have recounted it.
His father was sorrowful over him. Said the father:" What need has brought
thee out of the land wherein thou didst rule?"
Bres replied: "Nothing has brought me save my own injustice and arrogance.
I stript them of their jewels and treasures and their own food. Neither
tribute nor taxes had been taken from them up to that time".
The Kissing Stone, Monument Number 7 at Carrowmore. The Carrowmore circles were long thought to contain the remains of warriors slain during the Second Battle of Moytura.
"That is bad," said the father. "Better were their prosperity than
their kingship. Better their prayers than their curses. Why hast thou
"I have come to ask you for champions," said he. " I would take
that land by force."
"Thou shouldst not gain it by injustice if thou didst not gain it by justice,"
said the father.
"Then what counsel hast thou for me?" said Bres.
Thereafter he sent Bres to the champion, to Balor grandson of Net, the king of the
Isles, and to Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians; and
these assembled all the troops from Lochlann westwards unto Ireland, to
impose their tribute and their rule by force on the Tuatha De, so that
they made one bridge of vessels from the Foreigner's Isles to Erin. Never
came to Ireland an army more horrible or fearful than that host of the
Fomorians. Men from Scythia of Lochlann and men out of the Western Isles
were rivals in that expedition.
The Arrival of Lugh
Now as to the Tuatha De, this is what they were doing. After Bres, Nuada was
again in sovereignty over the Tuatha De. At that time he held a mighty
feast at Tara for them. Now there was a certain warrior on his way to
Tara, whose name was Lug Samildanach. And there were then two doorkeepers
at Tara, namely Gamal son of Figal and Camaall son of Riagall. When one
of these was on duty he saw a strange company coming towards him. A young
warrior fair and shapely, with a king's trappings, was in the forefront
of that band. They told the doorkeeper to announce their arrival at Tara.
The doorkeeper asked:"Who is there?"
The Coming of Lugh, illustration © Jim
"Here there is Lug Lamfada (i.e. Lugh Long-Arm) son of Cian son of Diancecht
and of Ethne daughter of Balor. Fosterson, he, of Tailltiu daughter of
Magmor king of Spain and of Eochaid the Rough son of Duach."
The doorkeeper asked of Lug Samildanach: "What art dost thou practice?"
Said he; "for no one without an art enters Tara."
"Question me," said he; "I am a wright."
The doorkeeper answered: "We need thee not. We have a wright already,
even Luchta son of Luachaid."
He said: "Question me, O doorkeeper! I am a smith."
The doorkeeper answered him:"We have a smith already, Colum Cualleineach
of the three new processes."
He said: "Question me: I am a champion."
The doorkeeper answered: We need thee not. We have a champion already, Ogma
son of Ethliu."
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
An aerial view of Queen Maeve's cairn from Bing Maps, the enormous unopened neolithic monument on the summit of Knocknarea. This monument shares a special astronomical connection with Shee Lugh on Moytura.
He said again: "Question me: I am a harper."
"We need thee not. We have a harper already, Abcan son of Bicelmos whom the
Tuatha De Danann chose in the fairy mounds."
Said he: "Question me I am a hero."
The doorkeeper answered: " We need thee not. We have a hero already, even
Bresal Etarlam son of Eochaid Baethlam."
Then he said: "Question me, O doorkeeper! I am a poet and I am a historian."
"We need thee not. We have already a poet and historian, even En son of Ethaman."
He said, "Question me: I am a sorcerer."
"We need thee not. We have sorcerers already. Many are our wizards and our
folk of might."
He said: "Question me; I am a leech."
"We need thee not. We have for a leech Diancecht."
"Question me," said he; "I am a cupbearer."
"We need thee not. We have cupbearers already, even Delt and Drucht and Daithe,
Tae and Talom and Trog, Glei and Glan and Glesi."
He said: "Question me: I am a good brazier."
"We need thee not. We have a brazier already, Credne Cerd."
He said again, "Ask the king." Said he, "whether he has a
single man who possesses all these arts, and if he has I will not enter
Then the doorkeeper went into the palace and declared all to the king. "A
warrior has come before the enclosure," said he. "His name is
Samildanach (many-gifted), and all the arts which thy household practice
he himself possesses, so that he is the man of each and every art."
The king said then that the chess-boards of Tara should be taken to Samildanach,
and he won all the stakes, so that then he made the Cro of Lug. (But if
chess was invented at the epoch of the Trojan war, it had not reached
Ireland then, for the battle of Moytura and the destruction of Troy occurred
at the same time) then that was related to Nuada. "Let him into the
enclosure," says he; " for never before has man like him entered
Then the doorkeeper let Lug pass him, and he entered the fortress and sat down
in the sage's seat, for he was a sage in every art.
Then the great flag-stone, to move which required the effort of four-score
yoke of oxen, Ogma hurled through the house, so that it lay on the outside
of Tara. This was a challenge to Lug. But Lug cast it back, so that it
lay in the center of the palace and made it whole.
"Let a harp be played for us,"said the company. So the warrior played
a sleep-strain for the hosts and for the king the first night. He cast
them into sleep from that hour to the same time on the following day.
He played a wail-strain, so that they were crying and lamenting. He played
a laugh-strain, so that they were in merriment and joyance.
Now Nuada, when he beheld the warrior's many powers, considered whether Samildanach
could put away from the bondage which they suffered from the Fomorians.
So they held a council concerning the warrior. The decision to which Nuada
cam was to change seats with the warrior. So Samildanach went to the king's
seat, and the king rose up before him till thirteen days had ended. Then
on the morrow he met with the two brothers, Dagda and Ogma, on Grellach
Dollaid. And his brothers Goibniu and Diancecht were summoned to them.
A full year were they in that secret converse, wherefore Grellach Dollaid
is called Amrun of the Tuatha De Danann.
Thereafter the wizards of Ireland were summoned to them, and their medical men and
charioteers and smiths and farmers and lawyers. They held speech with
them in secret. Then Nuada inquired of the sorcerer whose name was Mathgen
what power he could wield? He answered that through his contrivance he
would cast the mountains of Ireland on the Fomorians, and roll their summits
against the ground. And he declared to them that the twelve chief mountains
of the land of Erin would support the Tuatha De Danann, in battling for
them, to wit, Sliab League, and Denna Ulad and the Mourne Mountains, and
Bri Ruri and Sliab Bladma and Sliab Snechtai, Sliab Mis and Blisliab and
Nevin and Sliab Maccu Belgadan and Segals and Cruachan Aigle.
Then he asked the cupbearer what power he could yield. He answered that he
would bring the twelve chief lochs of Ireland before the Fomorians, and
that they would not find water therein, whatever thirst might seize them.
These are those lochs: Dergloch, Loch Luimnigh, Loch Corrib, Loch Ree,
Loch Mask, Strangford Loch, Belfast Loch, Loch Neagh, Loch Foyle, Loch
Gara, Loch Reag, Marloch. They would betake themselves to the twelve chief
rivers of Ireland- Bush, Boyne, Baa, Nem, Lee, Shannon, Moy, Sligo, Erne,
Finn, Liffey, Sui; and they will all be hidden from the Fomorians,so that
they will not find a drop therein. Drink shall be provided for the men
of Ireland, though they bide in the battle to the end of seven years.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
The Labby Rock, the massive portal-dolmen on Moytura.
Then said Figol son of Matmos, their druid: "I will cause three showers
of fire to pour on the faces of the Fomorian host, and I will take out
of them tow thirds of their valor and their bravery and their strength,
and I will bind their urine in their own bodies and in the bodies of their
horses. Every breath that the men of Ireland shall exhale will be an increase
in valor and bravery and strength to them. Though they bide in the battle
till the end of seven years, they will not be weary in any wise."
Said the Dagda: "The power such ye boast I shall wield it all by myself"
"It is thou art the Dagda (good hand), with everyone": Then
they separated from the council, agreeing to meet again that day three
Now when the provision of the battle had been settled, Lug and Dagda and Ogma
went to the three Gods of Danu, and these gave Lug the plan of the battle;
and for seven years they were preparing for it and making their weapons.
The Dagda meets the Morrigan at the ford of the River Uinshin, close to the massive Heapstown Cairn. Illustration © Jim Fitzpatrick.
The Dagda had a house in Glenn Etin in the north, and he had to meet a woman
in Glenn Etin a year from that day, about Samain (Hallowe'en) before the
battle. The river Unis of Connacht roars to the south of it. He beheld
the woman in Unius in Corann, washing herself, with one of her two feet
at Allod Echae (i.e. Echumech), to the south of the water, and the other
at Loscuinn, to the north of the water. Nine loosened tresses were on
her head. The Dagda, conversed with her, and they made a union. "The
bed of the Couple" is the name of the place thenceforward.
that is here mentioned is the Morrigu. Then she told the Dagda that the
Fomorians would land at Mag Scetne, and that he should summon Erin's men
of art to meet her at the Ford of Unius, and that she would go into Scetne
to destroy Indech son of Dea Domnann, the king of the Fomorians and would
deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor. Afterwards
she gave two handfuls of that blood to the hosts that were waiting at
the Ford of Unius. "Ford of Destruction" became its name, because
of that destruction of the king. Then that was done by the wizards, and
they chanted spells on the hosts of the Fomorians.
The Morrigan in her triple aspect. Illustration © Jim Fitzpatrick.
This was a week before Samain, and each of them separated from the other until
all the men of Ireland came together on Samain. Six times thirty hundred
was their number, that is, twice thirty hundred in every third.
Then Lug sent the Dagda to spy out the Fomorians and to delay them until the
men of Ireland should come to the battle. So the Dagda went to the camp
of the Fomorians and asked them for a truce of battle. This was granted
to him as he asked. Porridge was then made for him by the Fomorians, and
this was done to mock him, for great was his love for porridge. They filled
for him the king's cauldron, five fists deep, into which went four-scored
gallons of new milk and the like quantity of meal and fat. Goats and sheep
and swine were put into it, and they were all boiled together with the
porridge. The were spilt for him into a hole in the ground, and Indech
told him that he would be put to death unless he consumed it all; he should
eat his fill so that he might not reproach the Fomorians with inhospitality.
Then the Dagda took his ladle, and it was big enough for a man and woman to lie on the middle of it.
These then were the bits that were in it, halves of salted swine and a
quarter of lard. "Good food this," said the Dagda....
At the end of the meal he put his curved finger over the bottom of the hole
on mold and gravel. Sleep came upon him then after eating his porridge.
Bigger than a house-cauldron was his belly, and the Fomorians laughed
at it. Then he went away from them to the strand of Eba. Not easy was
it for the hero to move along owing to the bigness of his belly. Unseemly
was his apparel. A cape to the hollow of his two elbows. A dun tunic
around him, as far as the swelling of his rump. It was moreover, long
breasted ,with a hole in the peak. Two brogues on him of horse-hide, with
the hair outside. Behind him a wheeled fork to carry which required the
effort of eight men, so that its track after him was enough for the boundary-ditch
of a province. Wherefore it is called "The Track of the Dagda's Club".
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
A ruined monument on Moytura overlooking Lough Arrow and Carrowkeel.
Then the Fomorians marched till they reached Scente. The men of Ireland were
in Mag Aurfolaig. These two hosts were threatening battle. "The men
of Ireland venture to offer battle to us." Said Bres son of Elotha
to Indech son of Dea Domnann. "I will fight anon," said Indech,
"so that their bones will be small unless they pay their tributes."
Because of Lug's knowledge the men of Ireland had made a resolution not to let
him go into battle. So his nine fosterers were left to protect him, Tollus-dam
and Ech-dam and Eru, Rechtaid the white and Fosad and Fedlimid, Ibor and
Sclbar and Minn. They feared an early death for the hero owing to the
multitude of his arts. Therefore they did not let him forth to the fight.
gathers the Tuatha Dé Danann for battle. Ilustration © Jim Fitzpatrick.
The chiefs of the Tuatha De Danann were gathered round Lug. And he asked his
smith, Gobniu, what power he wielded for them? "Not hard to tell,"
said he. "Though the men of Erin bide in the battle to the end of
seven years, for every spear that parts from its shaft, or sword that
shall break therein, I will provide a new weapon in its place. No spear-point
which my hand shall forge," said he, "shall make a missing cast.
No skin which it pierces shall taste life afterwards. That has not been
done by Dolb the smith of the Fomorians."
"And thou, O Diancecht,"said Lug, "what power canst thou wield?"
"Not hard to tell, "said he. "Every man who shall be wounded there,
unless his head be cut off, or the membrane of his brain or his spinal
marrow be severed, I will make quite whole in the battle on the morrow."
"And thou, O Credne," said Lug to his brazier, "what is thy power
in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Credne. "Rivets for their spears and hilts
for their swords, and boses and rims for their shields, I will supply
"And thou, O Luchta," said Lug to his wright, "what service wilt
thou render in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell, said Luchta. "All the shields and javelin shafts they
require, I will supply them all."
"And thou, O Ogma," said Lug to his champion, "what is thy power
in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said he. "I will repel the king and three enneads
of his friends, and capture up to a third of his men."
A crannog, or man-made island in
Lough Arrow below Moytura.
"And ye, O sorcerers," said Lug, " what power will you wield?"
"Not hard to tell," said the sorcerers. "We shall fill them with
fear when they have been overthrown by our craft, till their heroes are
slain, and deprive them of two thirds of their might, with constraint
on their urine."
"And ye, O cupbearers," said Lug, "what power?"
"Not hard to tell, "said the cupbearers. "We will bring a strong
thirst upon them, and they shall not find drink to quench it."
"And ye, O druids," said Lug, "what power?"
"Not hard to tell," said the druids. "We will bring showers of fire
on the faces of the Fomorians, so that they cannot look upwards, and so
that the warriors who are contending with them may slay them by their
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
The cruciform chamber on the summit of Ardloy, a drumlin to the north of the Bricklieve Mountains and
Carrowkeel. The neolithic monument is located between two much later enclosures. The view is to the south west and Kesh Corran with its cairn and caves.
"And thou, O Cairbre son of Etain," said Lug to his poet, "what power
canst thou wield in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Cairbre. "I will make a satire on them.
And I will satirize them and shame them, so that through the spell of
my art they will not resist warriors."
"And ye, O Be-cuile and O Dianann," said Lug to his two witches,"
what power can ye wield in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said they. "We will enchant the trees and the
stones and the sods of the earth, so that they shall become a host under
arms against them, and shall rout them in flight with horror and trembling."
"And thou, O Dagda," said Lug," what power canst thou wield on the
Fomorian host in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said the Dagda. "I will take the side of the
men of Erin both in mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Under
my club the bones of the Fomorians will be as many as hailstones under
the feet of herds of horses where you meet on the battlefield of Moytura."
So thus Lug spoke with every one of them in turn; and he strengthened and
addressed his army, so that each man of them had the spirit of a king
or a mighty lord. Now everyday a battle was fought between the tribe of
the Fomorians and the Tuatha De, save only that kings or princes were
not delivering it, but only keen and haughty folk.
battles with Indech. Ilustration © Jim
Now the Fomorians marveled at a certain thing which was revealed to them in
the battle. Their spears and their swords were blunted and broken and
such of their men as were slain did not return on the morrow. But it was
not so with the Tuatha De. For though their weapons were blunted and broken
today, they were renewed on the morrow, because Goibniu he smith was in
the forge making swords and spears and javelins. For he would make those
weapons by three turns. Then Luchta the wright would make the spearshafts
by three chippings, and the third chipping was a finish and would set
them in the ring of the spear. When the spearheads were stuck in the side
of the forge he would throw the rings with the shafts and it was needless
to set them again. Then Credne the brazier would make the rivets by three
turns, and would cast the rings of the spears to them. And thus they used
to cleave together.
This then is what used to put fire into the warriors who were slain, so that
they were swifter on the morrow. Because Diancecht and his two sons, Octriull
and Miach, and his daughter Airmed sang spells over the well named Slane.
Now their mortally wounded men were cast into it as soon as they were
slain. They were alive when they came out. Their mortally wounded became
whole through the might of the incantation of the four leeches who were
about the well.
Now that was harmful to the Fomorians, so they sent a
man of them to spy out the battle and the actions of the Tuatha De, namely
Ruadan son of Bres and of Brig the Dagda's daughter. For he was a son
and a grandson of the Tuatha De. Then he related to the Fomorians the
work of the smith and the wright and the brazier and the four leeches
who were around the well.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
Equinox sunset over Knocknarea viewed from the west cairn on Carns Hill, .
He was sent again to kill one of the artisans,
that is Goibniu. From him he begged a spear, its rivets from the brazier
and its shaft from the wright. So all was given to him as he asked. There
was a woman there grinding the weapons, Cron mother of Fianlug; she it
is that ground Ruadan's spear. Now the spear was given to Ruadan by a
chief, wherefore the name "a chief's spear" is still given to
weaver's beams in Erin.
The great basin of
Knowth is the Boyne Valley. This fabulous carved stone is a representation of the Dagda's magical cauldron of plenty, symbolised by the Well at Heapstown, and later as the Holy Grail.
Now after the spear had been given to him, Ruadan turned and wounded Goibniu.
But Giobnu plucked out the spear and cast it at Ruadan, so that it went
through him, and he died in the presence of his father in the assembly
of the Fomorians. The Brig came and bewailed her son. She shrieked at
first, she cried at last.
So that then for the first time crying and shrieking were heard in Erin.
Now it was that Brig who invented a whistle for signaling at night.
Then Goibniu into the well, and he became whole. There was a warrior with the
Fomorians, Octriallach son of Indech son of Dea Domnann, son of the Fomorian
king. He told the Fomorians that each man of them should bring a stone
of the stones of Drowes to cast into the well of Slane in Achad Abla to
the west of Moytura, to the east of Loch Arboch. So they went, and a stone
for each man was cast into the well. Wherefore the cairn thus made is
called Octriallach's Carn. But another name for that well is Loch Luibe,
for Diancecht put into it one of every herb (lub) that grew in Erin.
Now that when the great battle came, the Fomorians marched out of their camp,
and formed themselves into strong battalions. Not a chief nor man of prowess
of them was without a hauberk against his skin, a helmet on his head,
a broad spear in his right hand, a heavy sharp sword on his belt, a firm
shield on his shoulder. To attack the Fomorian host on that day was "striking
a head against a cliff," was "a hand in a serpent's nest,"
was "a face up to fire". These were the kings and chiefs that
were heartening the host of the Fomorians, namely, Balor son of Dot son
of Net, Bres son of Elotha, Tuiri Tortbuillech son of Lobos, Gol and Irgol
Loscennlomm son of Lommgluech, Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the
Fomorians, Octriallach son of Indech, Omna and Bagna, Elotha son of Delbaeth.
Moonrise on Moytura.
On the other side the Tuatha De Danann arose and left their nine comrades
keeping Lug, and they marched to the battle. When the battle began, Lug
escaped from his guardians with his charioteer, so that it was he who
was in front of the hosts of the Tuatha De.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
Saint Patrick's Rock close to Oughterard in County Galway.
Then a keen and cruel battle
was fought between the tribe of the Fomorians and the men of Ireland.
Lug was heartening the men of Ireland that they should fight the battle
fervently, so that they should not be any longer in bondage. For it was
better for them to find death in protecting their fatherland than to bide
under bondage and tribute as they had been...
The hosts uttered a great shout as they entered the battle. Then they came
together and each of them began to smite the other. Many fine men fell
there. Great the slaughter and the grave-lying that was there. Pride and
shame were there side by side. There was anger and indignation. Abundant
was the stream of blood there over the white skin of young warriors mangled
by the hands of eager men. Harsh was the noise of the heros and the champions
mutually fending their spears and their shields and their bodies when
the others were smiting them with spears and with swords.
The Coming of Lugh by Ella Young; illustration by Maude Gonne.
was the thunder that was there throughout the battle, the shouting of
the warriors and the clashing of the shields, the flashing and whistling
of the glaives and the ivory-hilted swords, the rattling and jingling
of the quivers, the sound and winging of the darts and the javelins, and
the crashing of the weapons.
The ends of their fingers and of their feet
almost met in the mutual blows, and owing to the slipperiness of the blood
under the feet of the soldiers, they would fall from their upright posture
and beat their heads together as they sat. The battle was a gory, ghastly
melee, and the river Uinsenn rushed with corpses.
Nuada and the Deamon of Death by Jim Fitzpatrick.
Nuada Silver-Hand and Macha, daughter of Ernmass, fell by Balor grandson
of Net. And Cassmael fell by Octriallach son of Indech. Lug and Balor
of the Piercing Eye met in the battle. An evil eye had Balor the Fomorian.
That eye was never opened save only on a battlefield. Four men used to
lift up the lid of the eye with a polished handle which passed through
its lid. If an army looked at the eye, though they were many thousands
in number they could not resist a few warriors. It had a poisonous power.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
The Lake of the Eye and Lugh's Chair, Moytura, County Sligo.
Once when his father's druids were concocting charms, he came and looked
out of the window, and the fume of the concoction came under it , so that
the poison of the concoction afterwards penetrated the eye that looked.
He and Lug met. "Lift up mine eyelid, my lad," said Balor, "that
I may see the babbler who is conversing with me."
Lugh faces the Evil Eye © Jim Fitzpatrick.
The lid was raised from Balor's eye. Then Lug cast a sling- stone at him,
which carried the eye through his head while his own army looked on. And
the sling-stone fell on the host of the Fomorians, and thrice nine of
them died beside it, so that the crowns of their heads came against the
breast of Indech son of Dea Domnann, and a gush of blood sprang over his
lips. Said Indech: "Let Loch Half-green my poet be summoned to me!"
Hall-green was he from the ground to the crown of his head.
Loch went to the king. " Make known to me," said Indech, "who
has flung this cast on me."
Then the Morrigu, daughter of Ernmass, came, and heartened the Tuatha De to
fight the battle fiercely and fervently. Thereafter the battle became
a rout, and the Fomorians were beaten back to the sea. The champion Ogma
son of Ethliu, and Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians,
fell in single combat. Loch Half green besought Lug for quarter. "Give
me my three wishes," said Lug.
"Thou shalt have them," said Loch. "Till Doom I will ward off from
Ireland all plundering by the Fomorians, and , at the end of the world,
every ailment." So Loch was spared. Then he sang to the Gael the
"decree of fastening."
Loch said that he would bestow names on Lug's nine chariots because of the
quarter that had been given him. So Lug told him to name them.
At this point the original gives a list of the names of the chariots, charioteers,
and their equipment.
"What is the number of the slain?" said Lug to Loch.
"I know not the number of peasants and rabble. As to the number of Fomorian
lords and nobles and champions and kings sons and overkings I know, even
five thousand three score and three men: two thousand and three fifties:
four score thousand and nine times five: eight score and eight: four score
and seven: four score and six: eight score and eight: four score and seven:
four score and six: eight score and five: two and forty including Net's
grandson. That is the number of the slain of the Fomorian overkings and
high nobles who fell in the battle.
Howbeit, as to the number of peasants
and common people and rabble, and folk of every art besides who came in
company with the great army-for every champion and every high chieftain
and every overking of the Fomorians came with his host to the battle,
so that all fell there, both his freemen and his slaves - we reckon only
a few of the servants of the overkings. This then is the number that I
have reckoned of these as I beheld: seven hundred, seven score and seven
men... together with Sab Uanchennach son of Cairbre Cole, son was he of
a servant of Indech son of Dea Domnann, that is a son of a servant of
the Fomorian king.
As to what fell besides of "half men" and
of those who reached not the heart of the battle, these are in no wise
numbered till we number stars of heaven , sand of sea, flakes of snow,
dew on lawn, hailstones, grass under feet of herds, and Manannan mac Lir's
horses (waves) in a sea storm." Thereafter Lug and his comrades found
Bres son of Elotha unguarded. He said: "It is better to give me quarter
than to slay me."
"What then will follow from that?" said Lug
"If I be spared," says Bress, "the cows of Erin will always be in
"I will set this forth to our wise men," said Lug.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
The beautiful landscape around Doon fort close to Ardara in County Donegal.
So Lug went to Maeltne Mor-brethach , and said to him:"Shall Bress have
quarter for giving constant milk to the cows of Erin?" " He
shall not have quarter," said Maeltne; "he has no power over
their age or their offspring, though he can milk them so long as they
Moytura cattle gathered around the Stuckera Stone in Kilmactranny.
Lug said to Bress: "That does not save thee: thou hast no power over
their age and their offspring, though thou canst milk them. Is there aught
else that will save thee, O Bres?" said Lug.
"There is in truth, tell thy lawyer that for sparing me the men of Ireland shall
reap a harvest in very quarter of the year."
Said Lug to Maeltne:"Shall Bres be spared for giving the men of Ireland
a harvest of corn every quarter?"
"This has suited us," said Maeltne: "the spring for ploughing and
sowing, and the beginning of summer for the end of the strength of corn,
and the beginning of autumn for the end of the ripeness of corn and for
reaping it. Winter for consuming it"
"That does not rescue thee," said Lug to Bres; "but less than that
"What?" said Bres.
"How shall the men of Ireland Plough? How shall they sow? How shall they reap?
After making known these three things thou wilt be spared."
"Tell them , said Bres, that their ploughing be on a Tuesday, their casting
seed into the field be on a Tuesday, their reaping on a Tuesday."
So through that stratagem Bres was let go free.
In that fight, then, Ogma the champion found Orna the sword of Tethra, a
king of the Fomorians. Ogma unsheathed the sword and cleansed it. Then
the sword related whatsoever had been done by it; for it was the custom
of swords at that time, when unsheathed, to set forth the deeds that had
been done by them. And therefore swords are entitled to the tribute of
cleansing them after they have been unsheathed. Hence also, charms are
preserved in swords thenceforward. Now the reason why deamons used to
speak from weapons at that time was because weapons were worshipped by
human beings at that epoch, and the weapons were among the safeguards
of that time...
Now Lug and the Dagda and Ogma pursued the Fomorians,
for they had carried off the Dagda's harper, whose name was Uaitne. Then
they reached the banqueting-house in which were Bres son of Elotha and
Elotha son of Delbaeth. There hung the harp on the wall. That is the harp
in which Dagda had bound the melodies so that they sounded not until by
his call he summoned them forth; when he said this below:
Come summer, Come winter!
Mouths of harps and bags and pipes!
Now that harp had two names, Daur-da-bla "Oak of two greens" and
Coir-cethar-chuir "Four-angled music."
Then the harp went forth from the wall, and killed nine men, and came to the
Dagda. And he played for them the three things whereby harpers are distinguished,
to wit, sleep-strain and smile-strain and wail-strain. He played wail-strain
to them, so that their tearful women wept. He played smile-strain to them,
so their women and children laughed. He played sleep-strain to them, and
the company fell asleep. Through that sleep the three of them escaped
unhurt from the Fomorians though these desired to slay them.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
Circle 26 at Carrowmore in County Sligo.
Then the Dagda brought with him the heifer which had been given to him for
his labor. For when she called her calf all the cattle of Ireland which
the Fomorians had taken as their tribute, grazed.
Labby Rock, a massive portal dolmen on the battlefield
of Moytura, is said to be the grave of Nuada of the Silver Arm.
Now after the battle has won and corpses cleared away, the Morrigu, daughter
of Ernmas, proceeded to proclaim that battle and the mighty victory which
had taken place, to the royal heights of Ireland and to its fairy hosts
and its chief waters and its river mouths. And hence it is that Badb (i.e.,
the Morrigu) also describes high deeds. "Hast thou any tale?"
said everyone to her then. And she replied:
Strength in every one, etc....
Then moreover she was prophesying the end of the world, and foretelling every
evil that would be therein, and every disease and every vengeance. Wherefore
then she sang this lay below:
I shall not see a world that will be dear to me
Kine will be without milk,
Captures without a king...
Wrong judgments of old men,
False precedents of lawyers,
Son will enter his fathers bed,
Father will enter his son's bed,
Every one will be his brother's brother in law....
Son will deceive his father,
Daughter will deceive her mother.
Clickable Map of Ireland. Moytura
One of the huge erratic boulders on Moytura, beside the large court cairn near Highwood village. Beyond is the massive Eglone, a huge pillar of limestone said to be a petrified giant.
The Fr. O'Flanagan History Centre,
Old RIC barracks, Cliffoney, County Sligo, Ireland.