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INTRODUCTION


This tale is given by Windisch (Irische Texte, II. pp. 185-205), from two versions; one, whose translation he gives in full, except for one doubtful passage, is from the manuscript in the British Museum, known as Egerton, 1782 (dated 1414); the other is from the Yellow Book of Lecan (fourteenth century), in the library of Trinity College, Dublin.

The version in the Yellow Book is sometimes hard to read, which seems to be the reason why Windisch prefers to translate the younger authority, but though in some places the Egerton version is the fuller, the Yellow Book version (Y.B.L.) often adds passages, some of which Windisch has given in notes; some he has left untranslated. In the following prose version as much of Y.B.L. as adds anything to the Egerton text has been translated, with marks of interrogation where the attempted rendering is not certain: variants from the text adopted are placed below the prose version as footnotes. The insertions from Y.B.L. are indicated by brackets; but no note is taken of cases where the Egerton version is fuller than Y.B.L.

The opening of the story (the first five lines in the verse rendering) is in the eleventh century Book of the Dun Cow: the fragment agrees closely with the two later texts, differing in fact from Y.B.L. in one word only. All three texts are given in the original by Windisch.

The story is simple and straightforward, but is a good example of fairy vengeance, the description of the appearance of the troop recalls similar descriptions in the Tain bo Fraich, and in the Courtship of Ferb. The tale is further noticeable from its connection with the province of Munster: most of the heroic tales are connected with the other three provinces only. Orlam, the hero of the end of the tale, was one of Cuchulain's earliest victims in the Tain bo Cualgne.




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Map of Ireland