The Cattle Raid of Cualnge
The Healing of the Morrigan
When Cuchulainn was in this great weariness, the Morrigan met him in the form of an old hag, and she blind and lame, milking a cow with three teats, and he asked her for a drink. She gave him milk from a teat.
'He will be whole who has brought it(?),' said Cuchulainn; 'the blessings of gods and non-gods on you,' said he. (Gods with them were the Mighty Folk; [*1] non-gods the people of husbandry.)
Then her head was healed so that it was whole.
She gave the milk of the second teat, and her eye was whole; and gave the milk of the third teat, and
her leg was whole. So that this was what he said about each thing of them, 'A doom of blessing on you,' said he.
'You told me,' said the Morrigan, 'I should not have healing from you for ever.'
'If I had known it was you,' said Cuchulainn, 'I would not have healed you ever.'
So that formerly Cuchulainn's throng(?) on Tarthesc was the name of this story in the Foray.
It is there that Fergus claimed of his securities that faith should not be broken with Cuchulainn; and it is there that Cuchulainn ... [*1] i.e. Delga Murthemne at that time.
Then Cuchulainn killed Fota in his field; Bomailce on his ford; Salach in his village (?); Muine in his hill; Luair in Leth-bera; Fer-Toithle in Toithle; these are the names of these lands for ever, every place in which each man of them fell. Cuchulainn killed also Traig and Dornu and Dernu, Col and Mebul and Eraise on this side of Ath Tire Moir, at Methe and Cethe: these were three [*2] druids and their three wives.
Then Medb sent a hundred men of her special retinue to kill Cuchulainn. He killed them all on Ath Ceit-Chule. Then Medb said: 'It is cuillend [*3] to us, the slaying of our people.' Hence is Glass Chrau and Cuillend Cind Duin and Ath Ceit-Chule.
Then the four provinces of Ireland took camp and fortified post in the Breslech Mor in Mag Murthemne, and send part of their cattle and booty beyond them to the south into Clithar Bo Ulad. Cuchulainn took
his post at the mound in Lerga near them, and his charioteer Loeg Mac Riangabra kindled a fire for him on the evening of that night. He saw the fiery sheen of the bright golden arms over the heads of the four provinces of Ireland at the setting of the clouds of evening. Fury and great rage came over him at sight of the host, at the multitude of his enemies, the abundance of his foes. He took his two spears and his shield and his sword; he shook his shield and brandished his spears and waved his sword; and he uttered his hero's shout from his throat, so that goblins and sprites and spectres of the glen and demons of the air answered, for the terror of the shout which they uttered on high. So that the Nemain produced confusion on the host. The four provinces of Ireland came into a tumult of weapons about the points of their own spears and weapons, so that a hundred warriors of them died of terror and of heart-burst in the middle of the camp and of the position that night.
When Loeg was there, he saw something: a single man who came straight across the camp of the men of Ireland from the north-east straight towards him.
'A single man is coming to us now, O Little Hound!' said Loeg.
'What kind of man is there?' said Cuchulainn.
'An easy question: a man fair and tall is he, with hair cut broad, waving yellow hair; a green mantle folded round him; a brooch of white silver in the mantle on his breast; a tunic of royal silk, with red ornamentation of red gold against the white skin, to his knees. A black shield with a hard boss of white metal; a five-pointed spear in his hand; a forked (?) javelin beside it. Wonderful is the play and sport and
exercise that he makes; but no one attacks him, and he attacks no one, as if no one saw him.'
'It is true, O fosterling,' said he; 'which of my friends from the sid is that who comes to have pity on me, because they know the sore distress in which I am, alone against the four great provinces of Ireland, on the Cattle-Foray of Cualnge at this time?'
That was true for Cuchulainn. When the warrior had reached the place where Cuchulainn was, he spoke to him, and had pity on him for it.
'This is manly, O Cuchulainn,' said he.
'It is not much at all,' said Cuchulainn.
'I will help you,' said the man.
'Who are you at all?' said Cuchulainn.
'It is I, your father from the sid, Lug Mac Ethlend.' My wounds are heavy, it were high time that I should be healed.'
'Sleep a little, O Cuchulainn,' said the warrior; your heavy swoon [*1] (?) of sleep at the mound of Lerga till the end of three days and three nights, and I will fight against the hosts for that space.'
Then he sings the ferdord to him, and he sleeps from it. Lug looked at each wound that it was clean. Then Lug said:
'Arise, O great son of the Ulstermen, whole of thy wounds.... Go into thy chariot secure. Arise, arise!' [*2]
For three days and three nights Cuchulainn was asleep. It were right indeed though his sleep equalled his weariness. From the Monday after the end of summer exactly to the Wednesday after Candlemas, for this space Cuchulainn had not slept, except when
he slept a little while against his spear after midday, with his head on his clenched fist, and his clenched fist on his spear, and his spear on his knee; but he was striking and cutting and attacking and slaying the four great provinces of Ireland for that space.
It is then that the warrior of the sid cast herbs and grasses of curing and charms of healing into the hurts and wounds and into the injuries and into the many wounds of Cuchulainn, so that Cuchulainn recovered in his sleep without his perceiving it at all.
Now it was at this time that the boys came south from Emain Macha: Folloman Mac Conchobair with three fifties of kings' sons of Ulster, and they gave battle thrice to the hosts, so that three times their own number fell, and all the boys fell except Folloman Mac Conchobair. Folloman boasted that he would not go back to Emain for ever and ever, until he should take the head of Ailill with him, with the golden crown that was above it. This was not easy to him; for the two sons of Bethe Mac Bain, the two sons of Ailill's foster-mother and foster-father, came on him, and wounded him so that he fell by them. So that that is the death of the boys of Ulster and of Folloman Mac Conchobair.
Cuchulainn for his part was in his deep sleep till the end of three days and three nights at the mound in Lerga. Cuchulainn arose then from his sleep, and put his hand over his face, and made a purple wheel-beam from head to foot, and his mind was strong in him, and he would have gone to an assembly, or a march, or a tryst, or a beer-house, or to one of the chief assemblies of Ireland.
^81:1 i.e. the dwellers in the Sid. The words in brackets are a gloss incorporated in the text.
^82:1 Corrupt; one and a half lines.
^82:2 MS. 'two.'
^82:3 Interlinear gloss: 'We deem it a crime.'
^84:1 Conjectural--MS. tromthortim.