The Death of Mac Con
Author: Myles Dillon
An electronic edition
THE DEATH OF MACCON
1. Lugaid Mac Con was king of Ireland after that for thirty years.
Bennaid the woman-hospitaller was in Tara when Mac Con came. It
was upon her that he gave the false judgment in Tara. Her sheep
trespassed on the queen’s woad, and Mac Con said that the sheep
should be given in payment for the grazing of the woad, and from that
was formed the Crooked Mound in Tara. But it was the judgment of
Cormac which fixed without reversal the complete shearing of the
sheep in payment for the grazing of the woad. Then the Men of Ireland
repudiated him [Mac Con], and made Cormac king. Evil was the
reign of Mac Con, for there was neither mast nor fruit, nor fish in
estuaries, the cows gave no milk nor did the other cattle, nor was
there hear from the sun nor seines (?) in the weirs, on account of the
false judgments and arrogance of Mac Con. But the world was full
of every good before his time, and after him when Cormac had become
2. Lugaid went to his own country then. He went to Ailill Ólom, to the
place where he dwelt, so that he might support him, for it was Ailill
who had fostered him. He went into the enclosure to Ailill. Do not go
in, said Sadb. The man to whom thou goest is unforgiving. We
shall go nonetheless, so that we may appease him and do his will in
atonement for the great evil we have done him. He went on then.
Who is this? said Ailill. Mac Con, said they all. Peace to you!
said Ailill. Peacefully are we come, said Mac Con. ..., said Ailill.
Come then, said Ailill, so that I may give thee a blessing, since the
other lives no more who strove against thee, namely Eogan. As he
would have supported thee, so shall I support thee, said Mac Con.
Then he sent and gave Ailill a kiss. Ailill came at him with a poisonous
tooth, into Mac Con’s face. He went out from him then.
Alas! said Sadb, as she saw him. Sadb spoke this verse:
It is a thrust by which a king falls: a poisonous tooth has wounded thee: a
change has come upon thy appearance: it was an unlucky greeting.
He turned away from her then in that state.
3. Then Ferchis son of Commán came to Ailill. Alas! Ferchis, said
Ailill, follow Lugaid and avenge his brother Éogan upon him!
Ferchis went then and came upon him with his back against a stone.
Ferchis made a cast at him so that the stone rang back through his
face and he died. Ferchis went into the rapids then, and cut shavings
from his spear, and sent them down with the current of the river to
where Ailill was; for that was the sign he had promised them, if he
should kill Mac Con. From that the Rapids of Ferchis are so called.
(Ferchis was slain later by the warriors of Find, grandson of Baíscne,
in vengeance for Mac Con.)
4. It was of this that Sadb uttered the saying:
Woe is me, O God, woe for Clíu, when Fer Fí was found in his yew-tree: that
will lay him low the cast of Ferchis against Mac Con.
Woe is me, O God, woe for Clíu, when Fer Fí was found in his déo (?): thus
were slain Art son of Cond and the seven sons of Ólom.
But Ailill was glad, and he said:
It is now thirty years that I have been a withered old man, until Ferchis, the
poet, son of Commán aroused me from my weakness.
5. Then Ailill became king of Munster and reigned for seven years, and
he had never been better before, once he had put from him his weakness
and misery after the death of Mac Con. And he died then as king
That is the death of Mac Con. Finit.
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