Cath Boinde

Author: Joseph O’Neill

An electronic edition

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p. 175.


A king took kingship over Ireland once on a time, i.e.
Eochaid Feidleach, the son of Finn, the son of Rogen Ruad, the
son of Easamain Eamna of the seed of Rifad Scot from the
tower of Nimrod; for it is of the race of Rifad Scot was every
invasion which seized Ireland except Cesair only. It is therefore
he was called Eochaid Feidleach, because he was ‘feidil
to all, i.e. ‘righteous’ towards all was that king.

He had four sons, namely, the three Findeamna (‘eamain
meaning ‘a thing which is not divided’), and they were born of
one birth, Breas, Nár, and Lothar their names; it is they who
made Lugaid-of-the-three-red-stripes with their own sister the
night before giving the Battle of Druimcriad to their father.
The three of them fell there by Eochaid Feidleach; and it was
Eochaid Feidleach who made the holy request that no son
should rule Ireland after his father for ever, and that was
verified); and Conall Anglondach, the son of Eochaid Feidleach,
from whom are the Conailli, in the land of the men of Breagh.
That king, Eochaid Feidleach, had a great family, namely, Eile,
daughter of Eochy, wife of Fergal mac Magach; from her Bri
Eili in Leinster takes its name; after Fergal she was wife to
Sraibgend mac Niuil of the Erna, and she bore him a son, Mata

p. 177.

the son of Sraibgend, the father of Ailill mac Mata; and
Mumain Etranchaithrech, daughter of Eochaid Feidleach, wife of
Conchobar mac Fachtna Fathach, the mother of Glaisne Conchobar’s
son; and Eithne, daughter of Eochaid Feidleach, another
wife of the same Conchobar, mother of Furbaide Conchobar’s
son; (it is therefore he was called ‘Furbaide’ because the ‘urbad
or ‘cutting’ of him out of the womb of his mother was performed
after she was drowned in the stream Bearramain, which
is called the Eithne to-day, and it is from her the river takes
its name, namely, Eithne, and Diarmaid was Furbaide’s [first]
name); and Clothra, daughter of Eochaid Feidleach, mother of
Cormac Conloingeas, Conchobar’s son (or Nessa daughter of
Eochaid Sulbaide was the mother of Cormac Conloingeas);
and Deirbriu, daughter of Eochaid Feidleach, from whom were
[called] the pigs of Derbriu; and Meadb of Cruachan, daughter
of Eochaid Feidleach, another of Conchobar’s wives, mother of
Amalgad, Conchobar’s son, so that Conchobar was Meadb’s
first husband, and Meadb forsook Conchobar through pride of
mind, and went to Tara, where was the High-King of Ireland.
The reason that the High-King of Ireland gave these daughters
to Conchobar was that it was by Eochaid Feidleach that
Fachtna Fathach had fallen in the battle of Lettir-ruad in the
Corann, so that it was as his eric these were given to him,
together with the forcible seizure of the kingship of Ulster,
over Clan Rudraidhe: and the first cause of the stirring up of
the Cattle-raid of Cuailngne was the desertion of Conchobar by
Meadb against his will. Tindi, the son of Conra Cas, of the
Fir Domnand, was king of Connacht at that time, and Eochaid

p. 179.

Dala and Fidig mac Feicc, of the Gamanraidi, were laying
claim (?) to the kingship.

Fidig mac Feicc goes to Tara to assemble the kings for
himself, and he asked Meadb of Eochaid Feidleach. Tindi,
Conra’s son, got word of this story, and lay in ambush for
Fideic. They met over the Shannon streams, and the children
of Conra and Monodar, Conra’s son, slew Fidig, and that was
the first reason of the war between the children of Conra and
the Gamanraidi. Eochaid Feidleach executed a prince’s
injustice on Tindi, drove him into the deserts of Connacht,
and set Meadb up in the royal seat of Cruachan. It fell out,
however, that Tindi was a visitor (?) with Meadb for a long
time after that, so that it was in Cruachan with Meadb the fairs
of Ireland were wont to be held, and the sons of the kings of
Ireland used to be in Cruachan with Meadb at that time to see
if they might exchange war with the province of Conchobar.
[Amongst these] came Sraibgend mac Niuil of the Erna, and
his son, Mata mac Sraibgind, to Meadb, to see if they could
make war on Conchobar for all the ill-feeling that was between
them. The festival of Tara was held by Eochaid Feidleach,
with the provinces of Ireland about him [all] except Meadb
and Tindi. The men of Ireland bade Eochaid bring Meadb to
the gathering. Eochaid sent Searbluath, his female messenger,
to Cruachan for Meadb. Meadb goes on the morrow to Tara,
and the fair-races were run by them for a fortnight and a
month. Thereafter the men of Ireland disperse. Conchobar
stayed after the others in the fair, watching Meadb, and, as
Meadb happened to go to the Boyne to bathe, Conchobar met

p. 181.

her there, overcame her, and violated her. When that tale was
told in Tara, the kings of Ireland rose forth from Tara, and
Tindi mac Conrach and Eochaid Dala with them. Another
version says that Eochaid Dala had fallen by Tindi before that
[in a dispute] about the kingship, but that is not true.

The banners of the king of Ireland are raised to attack the
king of Ulster; and Tindi, the son of Conra, challenged Conchobar
to fight. Conchobar accepted that; and Monodar Mór,
son of Conra and brother of Tindi, who happened to be with
Conchobar at that time, was asked to check Tindi. He said
that he would do so, and they had a champion’s fight; Tindi
fell in the conflict, and everyone said, ‘Good is the deed’; and
the Druid said, ‘Mac Ceacht shall be his name for ever’; hence
“Mac Eacht” adhered to him.

Conchobar won the battle on the Boyne over Eochaid
Feidleach; and Sraibgend mac Niuil and his son fell there,
sustaining the battle. Eochaid Dala took up the yoke of
battle across Meath, over the green-streamed Shannon, and
brought Meadb and Connacht safe with him through dint of
fighting, so that he was not dared from the Boyne to the
Shannon. The Fir Domnand and the Dal n-Druithni and the
Firchraibi, from whom sprang Eochaid Dala, came to Cruachan
after the slaying of Tindi, the son of Conra Cas, for though
they were three tribes through division they were one tribe by
origin, namely the children of Genand, the son of Dil (?), the

p. 183.

son of Loch, and they were Firbolg by race. The counsel they
decided on was to appoint Eochaid Dala to the kingship of
Connacht with the consent of Meadb. Meadb consents to that
on condition that he should marry her, and that he should have
neither jealousy, fear, nor niggardliness, for it was ‘geis’ to her
to marry a man who should have these three qualities. Eochaid
Dala was crowned through this, and was a while in Cruachan, as
Meadb’s husband. At that time Ailill, the son of Mata, the
son of Sraibgend of the Erna, came to Cruachan, and Ailill was
then a young child, and the remnant of Sraibgend’s children
were along with him that they might be reared by Meadb,
because of Meadb’s relationship to him, i.e. Ele, the daughter
of Eochaid Feidleach, was his grandmother. Ailill is reared in
Cruachan after that until he was a great spirited warrior in
battles and in conflicts, and a battle-sustaining tower against
Conchobar, defending the province of Meadb, so that it was he
who was chief of Meadb’s household afterwards, and Meadb
loved him for his virtues, and he was united to her, and became
her lover in place of Eochaid Dala. Eochaid Dala grew
jealous because of this, and all the Fir Domnand shared in his
jealousy through affection, so that they thought to banish Ailill,
and all the Erna who were with him, out of Connacht; but
Meadb did not permit the doing of that deed, for she loved
Ailill better than Eochaid. When Eochaid saw Meadb’s
partiality, he challenged Ailill to fight for the kingdom and his
wife. They fought a fierce fight, and Eochaid Dala fell in
that conflict by Ailill mac Mata through the wiles (?) of Meadb.
Ailill assumed the kingship of Connacht thereafter, with the
consent of Meadb; and it is he who was king of Connacht at the

p. 185.

time of the crowning of Conaire the Great and the beginning of
the cattle-raid against the Ultonians. It was to Ailill that
Meadb bore the Maines, and Maine was not their first name,
but thus: Feidlimid, i.e. Maine Aithreamail, and Cairpri, Maine
Maithreamail, and Eochaid, Maine Andoe, and Fergus, Maine
Tai, and Ceat, Maine (M)or(g)or, and Sin, Maine Milscothach,
and Daire, Maine Mo-epert.

Why are they called the Maines? Not difficult. Of a day
that Meadb was at the gathering of Cluitheamnach and
happened to be preparing for the battle of Findchorad against
Conchobar, she said to her Druid, ‘By whom of my children
shall Conchobar fall?’ quoth she. ‘Thou hast not borne them
yet, unless they be rechristened,’ quoth the Druid. ‘Anyhow,
it is by Maine he shall fall.’ And it is for that reason she called
each of her sons Maine, in the hope that Conchobar might fall
by him; and these nicknames superseded their real names.
Meadb thought that it was Conchobar, the son of Fachtna
Fathach, whom the Druid meant. It was not he, however, but
Conchobar, the son of Arthur, the son of Bruide, the son of
Dungal, the son of the king of Scotland, from across the water.
He it was who fell there by Maine Andai, the son of Ailill and

© 2006 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae

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