The Edinburgh Dinnshenchas
Author: Whitley Stokes
An electronic edition
THE EDINBURGH DINNSHENCHAS
[53. BENN BOGUINE.] — Benn Boguine, whence is it?
Benn Boguine, to wit, thither escaped a cow of the kine of Flidais,
wife of Ailil the Fair, and the offspring of that cow became
wild. And the cow brought forth two calves, a male calf and a
female calf, and her offspring went wild therein so that nought
could be done with them. When the bull they had would bellow
(all) the cattle of Ireland would go to him, and run so that their
hearts were broken.
Finnchad, son of Niall, was in fosterage with Ane, daughter of
Uath. The cow that was feeding him went at the roar of the
bull to the mountain. Niall’s son (at his foster-mother’s command)
followed the cattle and killed the kine with spears. And
when he saw that ox-slaughter, he said: This a killing of
kine, quoth he. Whence Benn Boghuine, Peak of Kine-killing,
Benn Boguine, hence it is,
Men and women have heard,
From this ox-slaughter, with a number of fights,
Which was wrought truly by Finnchad.
[54. MAG CORAINN.] — Magh Coraind, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Corann, he was harper to the Dagda’s son,
Dianchécht, and out of his harp he summoned Caelcheis, one
of the swine of Drebrenn. Northwards it ran with (all) the
strength of its limbs. After it ran the champions of Connaught
with (all) their strength of running, their hounds following them
as far as Céis Coraind. Whence Céis Coraind and Magh Coraind.
Whence (also) a poet sang:
Corand, a plundering harper,
The swift-judging son of Diancecbt,
. . . . . . .
Through his harp to Céis Corann.
[55. LOCH N-ECHACH.] — Loch n-Echach, whence was it named?
Ríbh, son of Mairid, and Eocho, son of Mairid, the twain went
from the south out of Irluachair on a flitting, and separated at
Belach dá Liacc, the Pass of the two Flagstones. One of the
twain, even Eocho, went westward on Bregia and set up on the
Plain of Mac ind Oc. He (the Mac ind Oc) went to them in the
shape of a land-holder, with his nag in his hand, and told them
that they should not bide on the Plain. They said to him that they
had no power to carry their load of goods (?) without pack-horses.
Put, says he, the full of the plain wherein ye stand into bundles
with their straps upon this nag, and he will carry them with you to
the place where he will lie down thereunder. So they went
thence till they reached Liathmuine. Therein the nag lies down
beside them, and there he stales, and made of his urine a well
which came over them. So that is Loch n-Echach, to wit, Eochu
the king and his horse’s water, which there spread out.
Howbeit Ríbh himself went around westward and set up on
Magh Find: now that was the Playing-ground of Midir and of Mac
ind Oc. In the same way Midir went to them, having a haltered
horse with him, and they put their wealth upon the horse, and he
carried it off with them as far as Magh Dairbthenn, whereon the lake
now lies. There the nag lies down and passes his urine until it
became a well, which broke over them. Ríbh is the king’s name.
Ríbh is drowned.
Whence Loch Ríbh and Loch nEchach were (so) called.
Oengus drowned haughty Echo
By means of his steed’s urine, with great speed:
Midir went — force followed him —
And drowned Ríbh on Magh Dairbthenn.
[56. LOCH N-ÉRNE.] — Lough Erne, whence is it?
Erne, daughter of Borg the Bellowing, son of Manchín,
was the keeperess of Medb of Cruachu’s comb-caskets, and leader
of the maidens of the men of Connaught. Now when Olca Ai went
out of the cave of Cruachu to contend against Amargen the
Black-haired, he shook his beard at them and gnashed his teeth,
so that the boys and girls of the country went mad, and their
tragical death was caused by dread of him. Then Erne with her
maidens ran to Lough Erne, and the lough drowned them.
Thence is (the name) Loch n-Érne.
Erne with pride, a pure union,
Daughter of good Borg the Bellowing,
She fled — no deed to boast of —
Under Lough Erne for exceeding fear.
Or it [the bed of Lough Erne], was once the territory of the
Ernai, until Fiacha Lahrainne, son of Senboth, son of Tigernmas,
routed them in battle and destroyed them; and thereafter the
lake burst throughout the land of Erin. Whence is Loch nÉrne,
and this is truer.
[57. SLÍAB BETHA.] — Sliab Betha, whence is it?
Bith, son of Noah, son of Lamech, and Cessair, Bith’s daughter,
and Ladru his pilot, and Finntan, son of Bochra, his boy, went
in flight, forty days before the Deluge, because they thought that
the western islands of the world, from the Tyrrhene sea westward,
would not be counted as belonging to the world, and Noah,
son of Lamech, had said that he would not let them into the ark.
To avoid that flood the four fared on till they reached Erin, and
the Flood drowned them as it overtook them at each point, to
wit, Bith on Sliab Betha, Ladru on Ard Ladrann, Cessair in Cúil
Cessra, and Finntan in Fert Finntain over Tul Tuinne. (Each)
was for a whole year beneath the waves, and then (the sea) gave
them up again; but as to the ship wherein they had arrived the sea
dashed it on a rock at Dún Barc on the last day of the year after
it had been raised out of the water. Whence is Sliab Betha.
Bith found death on the mountain.
(Bith), son [leg. grandson?] of Lamech the bright, fully-hospitable,
The bold Flood drowned him,
The grandson of great-deeded Methusalem.
[58. COIRE mBRECCÁIN] — Coire mBreccain, whence was it named?
Breccan, son of Partholan, went, for pride and impiety (?), with
a third of the host of Erin around him, throughout the world’s
straits. This is the direction in which he went, northwards over
the furious sea, as far as the whirlpool (so called), and there he
was drowned. So thence is the name Coire mBreccáin, Breccán’s
Partholan’s son, deed without glory,
Found a very mournful destruction.
Breccán of the heroes hither,
A whirlpool sucking down swallowed him.
Or it may be that Breccán, son of Maine, son of Niall (of the
Nine Hostages), was drowned therein. It is his rib that rose up
under Colomb cille’s boat, when the saint said: That is friendly,
thou old Breccán, and this is truer.
[59. BENN FOIBNI] — Benn Foibni, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). Foibne the champion, ’tis he who struck
Illann, son of Erclam, son of Doithre (the king of Sliab Moduirn),
in the midst of Tara, above the shoulder of Eochaid of the Broad
Joints, son of Ailill of the Twisted Teeth. Then he went northward
throughout Bregia. Fergna Fer Gái Leathain, the Man of
the Broad Spear, hurled himself after him, and drove Foibne
before him from one peak to another, till he reached that peak,
and there Fergna killed him. Whence Benn Foibni, Foibne’s
Foibne the champion, surly was the man,
Went from Tara into the land of Bregia.
In revenge for Illann of the jealousies
Fergna slew him — ’twas a counter-hurt.
[60. ARD FOTHAID.] — Ard Fothaid, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Fothad slept there till the end of nine
months at the sound of Boirche’s hen, when he was on his adventure.
Whence is Ard Fothaid, Fothaid’s Height.
Fothad Airgthech, clear his movement,
Slept there with his great speed.
For nine months’ space, brilliant deed,
At the sound of Boirche’s hen.
[61. ARD MACHA.] — Ard Macha, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Macha, wife of Nemed, son of Agnoman,
died there, and it was the twelfth plain which was cleared by
Nemed, and it was bestowed on his wife that her name might be
over it, and ’tis she that saw in a dream, long before it came to
pass, all the evil that was done in the Driving of the Kine of
Cualnge. In her sleep there was shown to her all the evil that
was suffered therein, and the hardships and the wicked quarrels:
so that her heart broke in her. Whence Ard Macha, Macha’s
Macha, the very shrewd, beheld
Through a vision — graces which we say not —
Descriptions of the times (?) of Cualgne —
’Twas a deed of pride, not of boasting.
Or, Macha, daughter of Aed the Red, son of Badurn: ’tis by
her that Emain Macha was marked out, and there she was buried
when Rechtaid Red-arm killed her. To lament her Oenach
Macha, Macha’s Assembly, was held. Whence Macha Magh.
Aliter. Macha, now, wife of Crunn, son of Agnoman, came
there to run against the horses of King Conor. For her husband
had declared that his wife was swifter than the horses. Thus
then was that woman pregnant: so she asked a respite till her
womb had fallen, and this was not granted to her. So then she
ran the race, and she was the swiftest. And when she reached
the end of the green she brings forth a boy and a girl — Fír and
Fíal were their names — and she said that the Ulaid would abide
under debility of childbed whensoever need should befall them.
So thence was the debility, on the Ulaid for the space of five
days and four nights (at a time) from the era of Conor to the reign
of Mál, son of Rochraide (A.D. 107). And ’tis said that she was
Grian Banchure, the Sun of Womanfolk, daughter of Midir of
Brí Léith. And after this she died, and her tomb was raised on
Ard Macha, and her lamentation was made, and her pillar-stone
was planted. Whence is Ard Macha, Macha’s Height.
[62. MAG COBA.] — Mag Coba, whence is it?
Not hard to say. The plain of Coba the pitfall-maker. Or,
Coba the pitfall-maker himself, that is, the pitfall-maker of
Eremon, son of Míl. He first in Erin arranged a pitfall. And
he put his foot into it to see whether it was . . . in his pitfall,
whereupon his thighbone (?) broke, and his two forearms, so that
he died thereof. Thence is Mag Coba, and hence the poet said:
Coba the glorious pitfall-maker,
Of Erin’s over-king Eremon:
’Tis he that would sever himself from him,
Great-headed Coba the pitfall-maker.
[63. SLIAB CALLAINN.] — Sliab Callann, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Callann the sheep-dog of Buide, son of
Ban blaith, son of Forgamuin. The Donn of Cualgne, the month
before his proper time, proceeded to bull the dry cows around
him. He and the dog began to contend for the dry cows, till the
dog fell by him. Or it may be that at the taking the drove he
crushed the dog on the ground. Whence Sliab Callann.
Callan, the skilful (?) sheep-dog
Of Buide, son of ever-judging Ban,
Fought with the Brown Bull of Cualgne.
He was savage at wrong.
[64. SLIAB FUAIT.] — Sliab Fuait, whence was it named?
Fuat, son of Bile, son of Breogan, ’tis he that was king of Húi
Breogain. As he was coming to Erin with the sons of Míl he
landed on an island in the ocean, and no one who set his sole
thereon would utter a lie or a falsehood. Out of the island he
brought a fót (sod) of truth, whereon he sat when dealing doom
and deciding questions. When he uttered falsehood it would put
its earthy side upwards, and when he uttered truth it would put
its grassy side upwards. That sod is still on the mountain, and
’tis on it the single grain fell from St. Patrick’s nag. Wherefore
sages honour it because of preserving the truth.
Or it may be from the fót (sod) which was put upon Cenn
Berridi to be carried; for the Ulaid had promised the realm
to the one man who should carry (King) Conor’s corpse from
Magh Lamraide to Emain without laying it down. So Cenn
Berridi took it up and reached Sliab Fuait, and on Sliab Fuait he
put his sole to the ground. For that reason the Ulaid declared
that he should not be king. He told them to put upon him a
sod as broad as his sole. This was done, and he got to Emain
but there he (straightway) died. Whence is (the proverb), Cenn
Fuat, son of dear hardy Bile,
Grandson of rough, ever-victorious Breogan,
The man of the burden brought hither on a road
A sod whereon truth was put.
[65. LIA LINDGADAIN.] — Lia Lingadain, whence is it?
Lingadan the Arrogant, ’tis he that used to control the host of
Erin in the reign of Find, son of Finntan, and no one durst
speak with him, on sea or on land, without being asked by him,
for he was the host-steward of the men of Erin. Once upon
a time the echo of his (own) voice spoke out of the crag behind
him. He turned towards it to take vengeance upon it for
speaking, and the crest of the sea-wave overtook him and dashed
him against the crag, so that, finally, he died. There was the
end of his life. Whence was said:
Linga the Arrogant, a man with fame,
Lived in the time of Finntan,
The sea threw him backwards violently,
Against the side of a crag, without conflict.
[66. MAG MUGNA.] — Mag Mughna, whence was it named?
Maighnia or mair-gnia, great sister’s son, to wit, a great
deed. Here there is a lacuna.
Woods, great oak-trees grew-there, so that their tops were as
broad as the plain. Three fruits they used to yield in every
year, to wit, acorns and apples, and nuts. When the last acorn
fell, then the blossom of the first of these acorns would grow, so
that Ninine the poet . . . . . . . .
and thence is Magh Mugna.
Mughna’s oak-tree without blemish,
Whereon were mast and fruit,
Its top was as broad precisely
As the great plain without . . . .
[67. FINDLOCH CERA.] — Findloch [White Lake] of Cera, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). A flock of birds of the Land of Promise
came there to welcome St. Patrick when he was on Cruach
Aigle. They struck the lake (with their wings) till it was white as
new milk, and they sang music there so long as Patrick remained
on the Cruach. So thence is Findloch (White-lake) of Cera.
The birds of the Land of Promise fared hither over sea . . . . .
[68. MAG TAILTEN.] — Mag Tailten, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Tailltiu, daughter of Maghmor, King of
Spain, wife of Eochaid the Rough, son of Dua the Dark-grey.
She was Lugh mac Ethlenn’s foster-mother, and ’tis she that used
to dig the plain. Or ’tis there that she died. On the first day
of autumn her tomb was built, and her lamentation was made
and her funeral game was held by Lugh [whence we say Lughnasadh,
Lammastide. Five hundred years and a thousand
before Christ’s birth was that, and that assembly was held by
every king who took Ireland until Patrick came, and there were
five hundred assemblies in Tailtiu from Patrick down to the Black
Assembly of Donnchad, son of Flann, son of Maelsechlainn].
And these are the three tabus of Tailtiu: crossing it without
alighting; looking at it over one’s left shoulder when coming
from it; idly casting at it after sunset. Whence Magh Tailten,
Taltiu, slow Magmor’s daughter,
’Tis she that cut down the forest.
Lugh’s foster-mother, men declare,
The place of this assembly (is) round Tailtiu.
[69. BENN BAIRCHI.] — Benn Bairchi, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Bairche, Ross Ruddy-yellow’s cowherd,
this was his herdsman’s seat, the Benn, and (there) equally would
he herd every cow from Dunseverick to the Boyne: and no (one)
beast of them would graze a bit in excess of another. So thence
is Benn Bairchi, Bairche’s Peak, as said (the poet):
Bairche, the famous cowherd,
Who belonged to very mighty Ross the Red:
The peak was the soft seat of the herdsman,
Who was not weak against sadness.
[70. TRAIG TUIRBI.] — Traig Tuirbi, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). Tuirbe Trágmar, father of Gobbán the
Wright, ’tis he that owned it. ’Tis from that heritage he,
(standing) on Telach Bela (the Hill of the Axe), would hurl a
cast of his axe in the face of the floodtide, so that he forbade the
sea, which then would not come over the axe. And his pedigree
is not known, unless he be one of the defectives of the men of
art who fled out of Tara before Samildánach, (and whose posterity)
is in the secret parts of Bregia. Whence Tráig Tuirbi, Turbe’s
Tuirbe Trágmar was a negligent man,
Father of Gobbán with pure desire.
Unknown is his bright pedigree,
From him Tráig Tuirbi is named.
[71. LUSMAG.] — Lusmag, whence is it?
Not hard (to say). ’Tis thence that Diancecht brought every
herb of healing and grated them on Slainge’s Well in Achad
Abla, north-west of Moytura, when there was a battle between
the Tuatha De Danann and the Fomorians. Every one of the
Tuatha De Danann whom they would lay under that water of
herbs would arise smooth and healed of his wounds. Whence
Diancecht brought with him hither
Every herb from precious Lusmag
To the well of the little healths,
North-west of Moytura.
[72. BENN CODAIL.] — Benn Codail, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). Codal, the Round-breasted, ’tis he that
was fosterer to Eriu, from whom is the island of Erin, and on yon
peak he used to feed (?) his fosterling, and with every . . . . he
would put upon her the ground would rise up under them, and
Eriu . . . . And the day that Erin’s coarb (successor) or Tara’s
king shall partake of Codal’s food, or aught of birds or venison or
fish, his valour and his health increase. Whence Benn Codail,
[73. TLACHTGA] — Tlachtga, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). Tlachtga, daughter of Mogh Ruith, three
sons of Simon Magus ravished her when she went with her
father to learn wizardry in the eastern part of the world, because
’tis she that had made the Rowing Wheel for Trian (?) and the
Stone in Forcarthu, and the Pillar-stone in Cnámchoill.
Then she escaped from the east, bringing those two things with
her till she reached the hill of Tlachtga. There, then, she lay in,
and three sons were born, to wit, Doirb, from whom Mag nDoirbe
(is named), Cumma, from whom is Mag Cumma, and Muach, from
whom is Mag Muaich. So long as these names shall remain
in the memory of the men of Erin, foreigners’ vengeance shall not
visit Ireland. And she died in childbed, and over her the
fortress was built, whence Tlachtga.
Tlachtga, daughter of great Mogh,
Simon’s sons ravished her.
From the hour that she came over the beautiful sea
After her green-sided Tiachtga is (named).
[74. INBER CICHMAINI.] — Inber Cichmaini, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). Cich-maine Adnoe, son of Ailill and Medb,
for Maine Adnoe was the seventh son of Ailill and Medb, as we
said above. ’Tis that Maine, then, that Fergna, son of Findchoem,
slew (?) while contending for a boat on the strand.
Or Cich-maine, son of Ailill the Fair, certain fishermen found
loosing their nets and their hoods. So they killed him in yon
estuary, and hence Inber Cichmaini is named.
[75. LOCH CÉ.] — Loch Cé, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). Cé, the wizard of Nuada Silverhand,
entered the battle of Magh Turedh. Having been wounded in the
fight, he went to Corrshlébhe, and (then) he went to Magh Airni,
where the lake is. And there Cé fell, and at his burial the lake
burst forth. Whence is Loch Cé, Cé’s Lake.
Loch Cé, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). When the battle of Magh Tuiredh was
fought between the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann the
wizard of Nuada Silverhand, son of Echtach, was wounded there
in the brunt of the contest. Cé was his name. Thereat he
fared forward south-west from the plain till he reached Carn
Corrslébe, and sat down thereon (so) wearied with his wounding
and fear and travel, that he almost died forthwith. From this
was seen the cairn on which he sat. He looked due north-east,
and he saw the smooth and flowerful plain. Fain was he to
reach the plain that he saw. On he went on the . . . . in that
wise to the very centre of the plain, where there was a rock, firm
and huge, which was (afterwards) named from the wizard, to wit
Carrac Cé. And under the cairn he was interred after he had
perished. Now when his tomb was dug there was an outburst of
the lake over it, and over the rest of the plain. Whence is Loch
[76. MAG nDUMACH.] — Magh nDumach, whence was it named?
Not hard (to say). A battle was there delivered (between
Eber and Eremon, two sons of Míl) concerning the three ridges
which were best in Ireland, to wit, Druim Crecht [Cresach —L
Clasaigh —F.M.] and Druim Bethach in Eremon’s portion, and
Druim Fingin in Eber’s portion. To Eber it seemed petty to
have one ridge in the southern half and two in the northern
country. And Eremon said that there would be no repartition by
him of his share. (So) a battle is fought between them. Eber was
routed, and therein fell Eber and Palap, son of Eremon, by Conmael,
son of Cathbad, and mounds were built over the heroes
there, whence Magh nDumach, the mounded Plain, and Tendais
had been its name originally. Whence is said:
In the battle on Tendais of the habitations,
In the plain where Eber fell,
There fell together
Goisten, Sétga, and Suirge.
On a causeway between two plains
. . . . . to the east of a road,
Eber, son of Míl, certainly
This is his grave . . . .
[77. CNUCHA.] — Cnucha, whence was it named?
Not hard (to-say). When the five sons of Dela, son of Loth,
came to Erin, (to wit) Gann, Genann, Rudraige, Sengann, and
Slaine, they brought five queens with them, to wit, Fuat,
Slaine’s wife (from whom is named Sliab Fuait and Inis Fuata),
Etar, Gann’s wife — ’tis she that died on Etar, and from her it is
named — Anust, wife of Sengann, Lí, wife of Rudraige, and
Cnucha, wife of Genann. ’Tis she that died on that hill, and
therein she was buried. Wherefore from her Cnucha is named.
Dela’s five sons without trouble
Brought hither five wives:
Two of them were famous Cnucha
And Etar from the very clear strand.
Now Cnucha died here
On the hill called Cnucha,
And Etar, wife of pure Gann,
On Benn Etair at the same hour.
Thence is splendid Etar
And Cnucha, the very full,
And Inis Fuata without shame,
And Sliab Fuait with great renown.
Or Cnucha, daughter of Connad from the lands of Luimnech,
fostermother of Conn of the Hundred Battles. She died there
p. 496.of the plague in her own house, and she was buried by Conaing
[leg. Connad?] in yon hill, namely, Cnucha. Whence Cnucha is
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