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EOCHO BEC,[FN#43] the son of Corpre, reigning in the land of Clew,[FN#44]
Dwelt in Coolny's[FN#45] fort; and fostered sons of princes not a few: Forty kine who grazed his pastures gave him milk to rear his wards; Royal blood his charges boasted, sprung from Munster's noblest lords. Maev and Ailill sought to meet him: heralds calling him they sent: "Seven days hence I come" said Eocho; and the heralds from him went. Now, as Eocho lay in slumber, in the night a vision came; By a youthful squire attended, rose to view a fairy dame: "Welcome be my greeting to you!" said the king: "Canst thou discern Who we are?" the fairy answered, "how didst thou our fashion learn?" "Surely," said the king, "aforetime near to me hath been thy place!" "Very near thee have we hovered, yet thou hast not seen my face." "Where do ye abide?" said Eocho. "Yonder dwell we, with the Shee:[FN#46] "In the Fairy Mound of Coolny!" "Wherefore come ye hereto me?" "We have come," she said, "a counsel as a gift to thee to bring!" "Speak! and tell me of the counsel ye have brought me," said the king. "Noble gifts," she said, "we offer that renown for thee shall gain When in foreign lands thou ridest; worship in thine own domain; For a troop shall circle round thee, riding close beside thy hand: Stately it shall be, with goodly horses from a foreign land!" "Tell me of that troop," said Eocho, "in what numbers should we ride? " Fifty horsemen is the number that befits thee," she replied:


[FN#43] Pronounced Yeo-ho Bayc.

[FN#44] Cliu, a district in Munster.

[FN#45] Spelt Cuillne, in Y.B.L. it is Cuille.

[FN#46] The Fairies, spelt Sidh.


"Fifty horses, black in colour; gold and silver reins and bits; Fifty sets of gay equipment, such as fairies well befits; These at early dawn to-morrow shall my care for thee provide: Let thy foster-children with thee on the road thou makest ride! Rightly do we come to help thee, who so valiantly in fray Guardest for us soil and country!" And the fairy passed away.

Eocho's folk at dawn have risen; fifty steeds they all behold: Black the horses seemed; the bridles, stiff with silver and with gold, Firmly to the gate were fastened; fifty silver breeches there Heaped together shone, encrusted all with gold the brooches were: There were fifty knightly vestments, bordered fair with golden thread: Fifty horses, white, and glowing on their ears with deepest red, Nigh them stood; of reddish purple were the sweeping tails and manes; Silver were the bits; their pasterns chained in front with brazen chains:
And, of fair findruine[FN#47] fashioned, was for every horse a whip, Furnished with a golden handle, wherewithal the goad to grip.


[FN#47] Pronounced "findroony."



Then King Eocho rose, and ready made him; in that fair array Forth they rode, nor did they tarry till they came to Croghan[FN#48] Ay. Scarcely could the men of Connaught bear to see that sight, amazed At the dignity and splendour of the host on which they gazed; For that troop was great; in serried ranks the fifty riders rode, Splendid with the state recounted; pride on all their faces glowed. "Name the man who comes!" said Ailill; "Easy answer!" all replied, Eocho Bee, in Clew who ruleth, hither to thy court would ride": Court and royal house were opened; in with welcome came they all; Three long days and nights they lingered, feasting in King Ailill's hall.
Then to Ailill, king of Connaught, Eocho spake: "From out my land {50} Wherefore hast thou called me hither?" "Gifts are needed from thy hand,"
Ailill said; "a heavy burden is that task upon me laid, To maintain the men of Ireland when for Cualgne's kine we raid."


[FN#48] Pronounced Crow-han.



Eocho spoke: "What gift requirest thou from me?" "For milking-kine," Ailill said, "I ask"; and Eocho, "Few of these indeed are mine! Forty sons of Munster's princes have I in my halls to rear; These, my foster-sons, beside me m my troop have journeyed here; Fifty herdsmen guard the cattle, forty cows my wards to feed, Seven times twenty graze beside them, to supply my people's need."

"If, for every man who follows thee as liege, and owns a farm, Thou a cow wilt yield," said Ailill, "then from foes with power to harm I will guard thee in the battle!" "Keep then faithfully thy vows," Eocho said, "this day as tribute shall to Croghan come the cows."

Thrice the sun hath set and risen while they feasting there abide, Maev and Ailill's bounty tasting, homeward then they quickly ride: But the sons of Glaschu met them, who from western Donnan came; Donnan, from the seas that bound it, Irross Donnan hath for name; Seven times twenty men attacked them, and to battle they were brought, At the isle of O'Canàda, fiercely either party fought; With his foster children round him, Eocho Bec in fight was killed, All the forty princes perished, with that news the land was filled; All through Ireland lamentation rose for every youthful chief; Four times twenty Munster princes, weeping for them, died of grief.

Now a vision came to Ailill, as in sleep he lay awhile, or a youth and dame approached him, fairer none in Erin's Isle: "Who are ye?" said Ailill; "Conquest," said the fairy, "and Defeat "Though Defeat I shun," said Ailill, "Conquest joyfully I meet." "Conquest thou shalt have!" she answered: "Of the future I would ask, Canst thou read my fate?" said Ailill: "Light indeed for me the task," Said the dame: "the kine of Dartaid, Eocho's daughter, may be won: Forty cows she owns; to gain them send to her thy princely son, Orlam, whom that maiden loveth: let thy son to start prepare, Forty youths from Connaught with him, each of them a prince's heir: Choose thou warriors stout and stately; I will give them garments bright,
Even those that decked the princes who so lately fell in fight:

Bridles, brooches, all I give thee; ere the morning sun be high Thou shalt count that fairy treasure: to our country now we fly."

Swiftly to the son of Tassa sped they thence, to Corp the Gray: On the northern bank of Naymon was his hold, and there he lay; And before the men of Munster, as their champion did he stand: He hath wrought-so runs the proverb-evil, longer than his hand. As to Corp appeared the vision: "Say," he cried, "what names ye boast!" "Ruin, one is called," they answered; "one, The Gathering of the Host!" An assembled host I welcome," answered them the gray Corp Lee; "Ruin I abhor": "And ruin," they replied, "is far from thee; Thou shalt bring on sons of nobles, and of kings a ruin great": "Fairy," said Corp Lee, the Gray one, "tell me of that future fate."

"Easy is the task," she answered, "youths of every royal race That in Connaught's land hath dwelling, come to-morrow to this place; Munster's kine they hope to harry, for the Munster princes fell Yesterday with Connaught fighting; and the hour I plainly ten: At the ninth hour of the morning shall they come: the band is small: Have thou valiant men to meet them, and upon the raiders fall! Munster's honour hath been tarnished! clear it by a glorious deed! Thou shalt purge the shame if only in the foray thou succeed."

"What should be my force?" he asked her: "Take of heroes seven score For that fight," she said, "and with them seven times twenty warriors more:
Far from thee we now are flying; but shall meet thee with thy power When to-morrow's sun is shining; at the ninth, the fated hour."

At the dawn, the time appointed, all those steeds and garments gay Were in Connaught, and they found them at the gate of Croghan Ay; All was there the fay had promised, all the gifts of which we told: All the splendour that had lately decked the princes they behold. Doubtful were the men of Connaught; some desired the risk to face; Some to go refused: said Ailill, "It should bring us to disgrace

If we spurned such offered bounty": Orlam his reproaches felt; Sprang to horse; and towards the country rode, where Eocho's daughter dwelt:
And where flows the Shannon river, near that water's southern shore, Found her home; for as they halted, moated Clew[FN#49] rose high before.


[FN#49] Spelt Cliu.


Dartaid met them ere they halted, joyful there the prince to see: All the kine are not assembled, of their count is lacking three!" "Tarry not for search," said Orlam, "yet provision must we take On our steeds, for hostile Munster rings us round. Wilt home forsake, Maiden? wilt thou ride beside us?" "I will go indeed," she said. Then, with all thy gathered cattle, come with us; with me to wed! So they marched, and in the centre of their troop the kine were set, And the maiden rode beside them: but Corp Lee, the Gray, they met; Seven times twenty heroes with him; and to battle they must go, And the Connaught nobles perished, fighting bravely with the foe: All the sons of Connaught's princes, all the warriors with them died: Orlam's self escaped the slaughter, he and eight who rode beside: Yet he drave the cows to Croghan; ay, and fifty heifers too! But, when first the foe made onset, they the maid in battle slew. Near a lake, did Eocho's[FN#50] daughter, Dartaid, in the battle fall, From that lake, and her who perished, hath been named that region all: Emly Darta is that country; Tain bo Dartae is the tale: And, as prelude, 'tis recited, till the Cualgne[FN#51] Raid they hail.


[FN#50] Pronounced Yeo-ho.

[FN#51] Pronounced Kell-ny.




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Map of Ireland