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(A MANUSCRIPT OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY)


When Ailill and Maev in the Connaught land abode, and the lordship held, A chief who many a field possessed in the land of Connaught dwelled: A great, and a fair, and a goodly herd of kine had the chieftain won: And his fame in the fight was in all men's word; his name was Regamon. Now seven daughters had Regamon; they dwelt at home with their sire: Yet the seven sons of King Ailill and Maev their beauty with love could fire:
All those seven sons were as Mani[FN#62] known; the first was as Morgor hailed,
For his love was great: it was Mingar's fate that in filial love he failed:
The face was seen of the mother-queen on the third; and his father's face
Did the fourth son show: they the fifth who know cannot speak all his strength and grace:
The sixth son spoke, from his lips the words like drops of honey fell: And last came one who all gifts possessed that the tongue of a man can tell;
For his father's face that Mani had, in him was his mother seen; And in him abode every grace bestowed on the king of the land or the queen.


[FN#62] Pronounced Mah-nee.


Of the daughters of Regamon now we speak: two names those maidens bore: For as Dunnan three ever known shall be; Dunlaith[FN#63] was the name for four:
And in Breffny's land is the Ford Dunlaith, and the fame of the four recalls;
The three ye know where the Dunnan's flow in western Connaught falls. With Fergus, Ailill and Maev were met: as at council all conferred; "It were well for our folk," thus Ailill spoke, "if the lord of that cattle-herd,
That strays in the fields of Regamon, would tribute to us pay: And to gain that end, let us heralds send, to his burg who may make their way,
And bear to our court that tribute back; for greatly we soon shall need Such kine when we in the time of war our hosts shall have to feed; And all who share in our counsels know that a burden will soon be mine, When the men must be fed of Ireland, led on the Raid for the Cuailgne[FN#64] Kine!"
Thus Ailill spoke; and Queen Maev replied, "The men to perform that task Right well I know; for our sons will go, if we for their aid but ask! The seven daughters of Regamon do the Mani in love now seek: If those maidens' hands they can gain by the deed, they will heed the words we speak."
To his side King Ailill has called his sons, his mind to the youth he shows.
"Best son," says Maev, "and grateful he, from filial love who goes!" And Morgor said, "For the love that we owe, we go at our sire's behest:" "Yet a greater reward," thus Mingar spake, "must be ours, if we go on this quest!
For naught have we of hero-craft; and small shall be found our might; And of valiant breed are the men," said he, "with whom we shall have to fight.


[FN#63] Pronounced Dun-lay.

[FN#64] Pronounced Kell-ny.


As men from the shelter of roof who go, and must rest in the open field, So thy sons shall stand, if they come to a land where a foe might be found concealed!
We have dwelt till now in our father's halls, too tenderly cared for far:
Nor hath any yet thought, that to us should be taught the arts that belong to war!"

Queen Maev and Ailill their sons have sped, away on the quest they went, With seven score men for the fight, whom the queen for help of her sons had sent:
To the south of the Connaught realm they reached, the burg that they sought was plain
For to Ninnus land they had come, and were nigh to the Corcomroe domain. "From our band," said Mani Morgor, "some must go, of that burg to learn How entrance we may attain to win, and back with the news return We must test the strength of the maidens' love!" On Mingar the task was set,
And with two beside him, he searched the land, till three of the maids they met:
By springs of water they found the maids, drew swords, and against them leapt!
"O grant our lives!" was the maiden's cry, "and your lives shall be safely kept!"
"For your lives," he said, "will ye grant a boon, set forth in three words of speech?"
"At our hands," said she, "shall granted be, whatever thy tongue shall teach;
Yet ask not cattle; those kine have we no power to bestow, I fear": "Why, 'tis for the sake of the kine," he said, "that all of us now are here!"

"Who art thou then?" from her faltering broke: "Mani Mingar am I," he replied;
I am son to King Ailill and Maev: And to me thou art welcome," the maiden cried;
"But why have ye come to this land?" said she: For kine and for brides," he said,
Have we come to seek: And 'tis right," said she, such demands in a speech to wed:
Yet the boon that you ask will our folk refuse, and hard will your task be found;
For a valiant breed shall you meet, I fear, in the men who guard this ground!"
"Give your aid," he said, "then as friends: But time," said she, "we must have for thought;
For a plan must be made, e'er thy word be obeyed, and the kine to thy hands be brought:
Have ye journeyed here with a force of men? how great is the strength of your band?"
"Seven score are there here for the fight," he said, "the warriors are near at hand!"
"Wait here," said she; "to my sisters four I go of the news to tell: "And with thee we side!" all the maidens cried, "and we trust we shall aid thee well,"

Away from the princes the maidens sped, they came to their sisters four, And thus they spoke: "From the Connaught land come men, who are here at your door;
The sons of Ailill and Maev have come; your own true loves are they!" "And why have they come to this land?" they said; "For kine and for brides, they say,
Have they come to seek:" "And with zeal their wish would we joyfully now fulfil
If but powers to aid were but ours," they said, "which would match with our right good will:

But I fear the youths in this burg who dwell, the plans that we make may foil;
or far from the land may chase that band, and drive them away from their spoil!"
"Will ye follow us now, with the prince to speak?" They willingly gave consent,
And together away to the water-springs the seven maidens went. They greeted Mani; "Now come!" said he, "and bring with you out your herds:
And a goodly meed shall reward your deed, if you but obey my words; For our honour with sheltering arms is nigh, and shall all of you safely keep,
Ye seven daughters of Regamon!" The cattle, the swine, and sheep Together the maidens drove; none saw them fly, nor to stay them sought, Till safe to the place where the Mani stood, the herd by the maids was brought.

The maidens greeted the sons of Maev, and each by her lover stood; And then Morgor spoke: "Into twain this herd of kine to divide were good,
At the Briuin[FN#65] Ford should the hosts unite; too strait hath the path been made
For so vast a herd": and to Morgor's word they gave heed, and his speech obeyed.
Now it chanced that Regamon, the king, was far from his home that day, For he to the Corco Baiscinn land had gone, for a while to stay;


[FN#65] Pronounced Brewin.


With the Firbolg[FN#66] clans, in debate, he sat; and a cry as the raiders rode,
Was behind him raised: to the king came men, who the news of that plunder showed:
Then the king arose, and behind his foes he rode, and o'ertook their flight,
And on Mani Morgor his host pressed hard, and they conquered his men in the fight.
"To unite our band," thus Morgor cried, "fly hence, and our comrades find!
Call the warriors back from the cattle here, and leave the maids behind; Bid the maidens drive to our home the herd as far as the Croghan Fort, And to Ailill and Maev of our perilous plight let the maidens bear report."
The maidens went to the Croghan Fort, to Maev with their news they pressed:
"Thy sons, O Maev, at the Briuin Ford are pent, and are sore distressed, And they pray thee to aid them with speed": and Maev her host for the war prepared,
With Ailill the warriors of Connaught came; and Fergus beside them fared,
And the exiles came, who the Ulster name still bore, and towards that Ford
All that host made speed, that their friends in need might escape from the vengeful sword.


[FN#66] Pronounced Feer-bol.


Now Ailill's sons, in the pass of that Ford, had hurdles strongly set: And Regamon failed through the ford to win, ere Ailill's troops were met:
Of white-thorn and of black-thorn boughs were the hurdles roughly framed,
And thence the name of the ford first came, that the Hurdle Ford is named;

For, where the O'Feara[FN#67] Aidne folk now dwell, can ye plainly see In the land of Beara[FN#68] the Less, that Ford, yet called Ath[FN#69] Clee Maaree,
In the north doth it stand; and the Connaught land divideth from Corcomroe;
And thither, with Regamon's troops to fight, did Ailill's army go.


[FN#67] Pronounced O'Fayra Ain-ye.

[FN#68] Pronounced Bayra.

[FN#69] Spelt Ath Cliath Medraidi. Ath is pronounced like Ah.


Then a truce they made; to the youths, that Raid who designed, they gave back their lives;
And the maidens fair all pardoned were, who had fled with the youths, as wives,
Who had gone with the herd, by the maids conferred on the men who the kine had gained:
But the kine, restored to their rightful lord, in Regamon's hands remained;
The maiden band in the Connaught land remained with the sons of Maev; And a score of cows to each maiden's spouse the maidens' father gave: As his daughters' dower, did their father's power his right in the cows resign,
That the men might be fed of Ireland, led on the Raid for the Cualgne[FN#70] Kine.
This tale, as the Tain bo Regamon, is known in the Irish tongue; And this lay they make, when the harp they wake, ere the Cualgne Raid be sung.


[FN#70] Pronounced Kell-ny.




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