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LITERAL TRANSLATION

It happened that his cows had been in the meanwhile stolen. His mother came to him. "Not active (or "lucky") of journey hast thou gone; it shall cause much of trouble to thee," she says. "Thy cows have been stolen, and thy three sons, and thy wife, so that they are in the mountain of Elpa. Three cows of them are in Alba of the North with the Cruthnechi (the Picts)." "Query, what shall I do?" he says to his mother. "Thou shalt do a non-going for seeking them; thou wouldest not give thy life for them," she says. "Thou shalt have cows at my hands besides them." "Not so this," he says: "I have pledged my hospitality and my soul to go to Ailill and to Medb with my cows to the Spoil of the Cows from Cualnge." "What thou seekest shall not be obtained," says his mother. At this she goes off from him then.

He then sets out with three nines, and a wood-cuckoo (hawk), and a hound of tie with them, until he goes to the territory of the Ulstermen, so that he meets with Conall Cernach (Conall the Victorious) at Benna Bairchi (a mountain on the Ulster border).

He tells his quest to him. "What awaits thee," says the latter, "shall not be lucky for thee. Much of trouble awaits thee," he says, "though in it the mind should be." "It will come to me," says Fraech to Connall, "that thou wouldest help me any time we should meet." (?) "I shall go truly," says Conall Cernach. They set of the three (i.e. the three nines) over sea, over Saxony of the North, over the Sea of Icht (the sea between England and France), to the north of the Long-bards (the dwellers of Lombardy), until they reached the mountains of Elpa. They saw a herd-girl at tending of the sheep before them. "Let us go south," says Conall, "O Fraech, that we may address the woman yonder, and let our youths stay here."

They went then to a conversation. She said, "Whence are ye?" "Of the men of Erin," says Conall. "It shall not be lucky for the men of Erin truly, the coming to this country. From the men of Erin too is my mother. Aid thou me on account of relationship."

"Tell us something about our movements. What is the quality of the land we have to come to?" "A grim hateful land with troublesome warriors, who go on every side for carrying off cows and women as captives," she says. "What is the latest thing they have carried off?" says Fraech. "The cows of Fraech, son of Idath, from the west of Erin, and his wife, and his three sons. Here is his wife here in the house of the king, here are his cows in the country in front of you." "Let thy aid come to us," says Conall. Little is my power, save guidance only." "This is Fraech," says Conall, and they are his cows that have been carried off." "Is the woman constant in your estimation?" she says. "Though constant in our estimation when she went, perchance she is not constant after coming." "The woman who frequents the cows, go ye to her; tell ye of your errand; of the men of Ireland her race; of the men of Ulster exactly."

They come to her; they receive her, and they name themselves to her, and she bids welcome to them. "What hath led you forth?" she says. "Trouble hath led us forth," says Conall; "ours are the cows and the woman that is in the Liss."

"It shall not be lucky for you truly," she says, "the going up to the multitude of the woman; more troublesome to you than everything," she says, "is the serpent which is at guarding of the Liss." "She is not my country-name(?)," says Fraech, "she is not constant in my estimation; thou art constant in my estimation; we know thou wilt not lead us astray, since it is from the men of Ulster thou art." "Whence are ye from the men of Ulster?" she says. "This is Conall Cernach here, the bravest hero with the men of Ulster," says Fraech. She flings two hands around the throat of Conall Cernach. "The destruction has come in this expedition," she says, "since he has come to us; for it is to him the destruction of this dun has been prophesied. I shall go out to my house,"[FN#41] she says, "I shall not be at the milking of the cows. I shall leave the Liss opened; it is I who close it every night.[FN#42] I shall say it is for drink the calves were sucking. Come thou into the dun, when they are sleeping; only trouble. some to you is the serpent which is at the dun; several tribes are let loose from it."


[FN#41] "To my house" is in the Egerton MS. only.

[FN#42] "Every night" is in the Egerton MS. only.


"We will go truly," says Conall. They attack the Liss; the serpent darts leap into the girdle of Conall Cernach, and they plunder the dun at once. They save off then the woman and the three sons, and they carry away whatever was the best of the gems of the dun, and Conall lets the serpent out of his girdle, and neither of them did harm to the other. And they came to the territory of the people of the Picts, until they saw three cows of their cows in it. They drove off to the Fort of Ollach mac Briuin (now Dunolly near Oban) with them, until they were at Ard Uan Echach (high-foaming Echach). It is there the gillie of Conall met his death at the driving of the cows, that is Bicne son of Loegaire; it is from this is (the name of) Inver Bicne (the Bicne estuary) at Benchor. They brought their cows over it thither. It is there they flung their horns from them, so that it is thence is (the name of) Tracht Benchoir (the Strand of Horn casting, perhaps the modern Bangor?).

Fraech goes away then to his territory after, and his wife, and his sons, and his cows with him, until he goes with Ailill and Medb for the Spoil of the Cows from Cualnge.




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