Uath Beinne Etair
Author: Kuno Meyer
An electronic edition
THE HIDING OF THE HILL OF HOWTH
Once Diarmaid, son of Donn the grandson of Duibne, was
in the cave of the Hill of Howth, after having carried off
Grainne, the daughter of Cormac, in elopement from Finn. An
old woman was with Diarmaid at that time, watching over him
wherever he would be. The old woman went out of the cave,
and when she was on the top of the Hill of Howth, she saw
an armed man coming towards her alone. It was the
warrior-king. The old woman asked tidings of him. To woo
thee I have come, said Finn, and the cause I will tell thee
afterwards, and what I desire is that thou shouldst live (?)
with me as my only wife. The old woman believed the
words of Finn, and promised him to do his will. This is what
Finn desired of her, to betray Diarmaid to him. The old hag
consented to this, and she put her cloak into the salt water, and
then went into the cave. Diarmaid asked how she was so (wet).
I confess, said she, I never saw or heard the like of it for
cold and storms. For the frost has spread over the hillocks, and
there is not a smooth plain in all Elga, in which there is not a
long restless river between every two ridges, said she. And
no deer or raven (?) in Erinn finds shelter in a cave or in any
other place, or in an island, or in a bay of Fálmag. Craftily
she shook her raiment across the cave, and sang these staves:
Cold tonight is the broad plain of Lurg,
Higher the snow than the mountain-range,
The deer cannot get at their food.
Cold till Doom!
The storm has spread over all:
A river is each furrow upon the slope,
Each ford a full pool.
A great sea is each loch, which is full,
A full loch is each pool.
Horses do not get over Ross-ford,
No more do two feet get there.
The fishes of Inis Fáil are a-roaming,
There is no strand that a wave does not beat
In the lands there is no house [visible],
Not a bell is heard, no crane talks.
The hounds of Cuan-wood find not
Rest nor sleep in the dwelling of hounds,
The little wren cannot find
Shelter in her nest on Lon-slope.
On the little company of the birds has broken forth
Keen wind and cold ice,
The blackbird cannot get a lee to her liking,
Shelter at the side in Cuan-woods.
Cosy our pot on the hook,
Crazy the hut on Lon-slope:
The snow has smoothed the wood here,
Toilsome to climb by kine-horned staves.
Glenn Rigi’s ancient bird
From the bitter wind gets grief,
Great her misery and her pain,
The ice will get into her mouth.
From flock and from down to rise
— Take it to heart! — were folly for thee:
Ice in heaps on every ford,
That is why I keep saying “cold”!
The old woman went out after that. As for Grainne, when
she noticed that the old woman had gone, she put out her
hand on the garment that was about her, and put it on her
tongue, and found the taste of salt on her cloak. Woe, oh
Diarmaid! she cried, the old woman has betrayed thee.
And arise quickly and take thy warrior’s dress about thee!
Diarmaid did so, and went out, and Grainne with him. Then
they beheld the warrior-king with the fianna around him coming
towards them. Diarmaid glanced (?) aside on the sea
around Erinn, and saw a skiff in the shelter of the harbour
near him. He and Grainne with him went into it. One man
was awaiting them in the little boat with a beautiful raiment
about him, with a broad-braided golden-yellow mantle over
his shoulder behind. That was Oengus of the Brug, the fosterfather
of Diarmaid, who had come to rescue him from the
night-watch (?) which he was in from Finn and the fianna
© 2008 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae