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FROM THE LEABHAR NA H-UIDHRI


Etain of the Horses, the daughter of Ailill, was the wife of Mider, the Fairy Dweller in Bri Leith.[FN#6] Now Mider had also another wife named Fuamnach[FN#7] who was filled with jealousy against Etain, and sought to drive her from her husband's house. And Fuamnach sought out Bressal Etarlam the Druid and besought his aid; and by the spells of the Druid, and the sorcery of Fuamnach, Etain was changed into the shape of a butterfly that finds its delight among flowers. And when Etain was in this shape she was seized by a great wind that was raised by Fuamnach's spells; and she was borne from her husband's house by that wind for seven years till she came to the palace of Angus Mac O'c who was son to the Dagda, the chief god of the men of ancient Erin. Mac O'c had been fostered by Mider, but he was at enmity with his foster-father, and he recognised Etain, although in her transformed shape, as she was borne towards him by the force] of the wind. And he made a bower for Etain with clear windows for it through which she might pass, and a veil of purple was laid upon her; and that bower was carried about by Mac O'c wherever he went. And there each night she slept beside him by a means that he devised, so that she became well-nourished and fair of form; for that bower was filled with marvellously sweet-scented shrubs, and it was upon these that she thrived, upon the odour and blossom of the best of precious herbs.


[FN#6] Pronounced Bree Lay.

[FN#7] Pronounced Foom-na.


Now to Fuamnach came tidings of the love and the worship that Etain had from Mac O'c, and she came to Mider, and "Let thy foster-son," said she, "be summoned to visit thee, that I may make peace between you two, and may then go to seek for news of Etain." And the messenger from Mider went to Mac O'c, and Mac O'c went to Mider to greet him; but Fuamnach for a long time wandered from land to land till she was in that very mansion where Etain was; and then she blew beneath her with the same blast as aforetime, so that the blast carried her out of her bower, and she was blown before it, as she had been before for seven years through all the land of Erin, and she was driven by the wind of that blast to weakness and woe. And the wind carried her over the roof of a house where the men of Ulster sat at their ale, so that she fell through the roof into a cup of gold that stood near the wife of Etar the Warrior, whose dwelling-place was near to the Bay of Cichmany in the province that was ruled over by Conor. And the woman swallowed Etain together with the milk that was in the cup, and she bare her in her womb, till the time came that she was born thereafter as in earthly maid, and the name of Etain, the daughter of Etar, was given to her. And it was one thousand and twelve years since the time of the first begetting of Etain by Ailill to the time when she was born the second time as the daughter of Etar.

Now Etain was nurtured at Inver Cichmany in the house of Etar, with fifty maidens about her of the daughters of the chiefs of the land; and it was Etar himself who still nurtured and clothed them, that they might be companions to his daughter Etain. And upon a certain day, when those maidens were all at the river-mouth to bathe there, they saw a horseman on the plain who came to the water towards them. A horse he rode that was brown, curvetting, and prancing, with a broad forehead and a curly mane and tail. Green, long, and flowing was the cloak that was about him, his shirt was embroidered with embroidery of red gold, and a great brooch of gold in his cloak reached to his shoulder on either side. Upon the back of that man was a silver shield with a golden rim; the handle for the shield was silver, and a golden boss was in the midst of the shield: he held in his hand a five-pointed spear with rings of gold about it from the haft to the head. The hair that was above his forehead was yellow and fair; and upon his brow was a circlet of gold, which confined the hair so that it fell not about his face. He stood for a while upon the shore of the bay; and he gazed upon the maidens, who were all filled with love for him, and then he sang this song:

West of Alba, near the Mound[FN#8]
Where the Fair-Haired Women play,
There, 'mid little children found,
Etain dwells, by Cichmain's Bay.

She hath healed a monarch's eye
By the well of Loch-da-lee;
Yea, and Etar's wife, when dry,
Drank her: heavy draught was she!

Chased by king for Etain's sake,
Birds their flight from Teffa wing: 'Tis for her Da-Arbre's lake
Drowns the coursers of the king.

Echaid, who in Meath shall reign,
Many a war for thee shall wage;
He shall bring on fairies bane,
Thousands rouse to battle's rage.

Etain here to harm was brought,
Etain's form is Beauty's test;
Etain's king in love she sought:
Etain with our folk shall rest!


[FN#8] The metre of these verses is that of the Irish.


And after that he had spoken thus, the young warrior went away from the place where the maidens were; and they knew not whence it was that he had come, nor whither he departed afterwards. Moreover it is told of Mac O'c, that after the disappearance of Etain he came to the meeting appointed between him and Mider; and when he found that Fuamnach was away: "'Tis deceit," said Mider, "that this woman hath practised upon us; and if Etain shall be seen by her to be in Ireland, she will work evil upon Etain." "And indeed," said Mac O'c, "it seemeth to me that thy guess may be true. For Etain hath long since been in my own house, even in the palace where I dwell; moreover she is now in that shape into which that woman transformed her; and 'tis most likely that it is upon her that Fuamnach hath rushed." Then Mac O'c went back to his palace, and he found his bower of glass empty, for Etain was not there. And Mac O'c turned him, and he went upon the track of Fuamnach, and he overtook her at Oenach Bodbgnai, in the house of Bressal Etarlam the Druid. And Mac O'c attacked her, and he struck off her head, and he carried the head with him till he came to within his own borders.

Yet a different tale hath been told of the end of Fuamnach, for it hath been said that by the aid of Manannan both Fuamnach and Mider were slain in Bri Leith, and it is of that slaying that men have told when they said:

Think on Sigmall, and Bri with its forest: Little wit silly Fuamnach had learned; Mider's wife found her need was the sorest, When Bri Leith by Manannan was burned.




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