Táin Bó Cuailnge ’na dhráma/Notes

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Táin Bó Cuailnge ’na dhráma by Peadar Ua Laoghaire
[ 257 ]


Notes on the personal names and place names are given in the Indexes. The following abbreviations are used:—Keating = the Irish Texts’ Society’s edition of Keating’s History of Ireland; R.C. = Revue Celtique; TBC = Prof. Windisch’s edition of the LL, or Book of Leinster version of the “Táin Bó Cuailnge”; TY = the Strachan-O’Keeffe edition of the YBL or Yellow Book of Lecan version.

Page 1. Táin Bó Cuailnge, gCuailnge might be expected after the gen. pl. , but I have not found the eclipsis marked in any MS. In fact the scribes generally content themselves with writing t. b. c. Cf. ‘Táin Bó Dartada,’ ‘Táin Bó Aingen,’ where eclipsis of the noun following ‘Bó’ does not appear even in the oldest known copies (only in the case of nouns beginning with b, d, g, or a vowel would the clipsis be marked in O. Ir. texts). Windisch TBC p. i., points out that ‘táin bó’ is a terminus technicus, signifying ‘cattledriving.’ In such a stereotyped phrase it was natural that the grammatical case of the second word should come to be ignored.

p. 2. Mac Faċtna, Fachtna Fathach, King of Ireland, preceded Eochaidh Feidhleach, by whom he was slain. Méibh’s allusion to Conchobhar’s offer and her refusal is obscure. In ‘Cath Bóinde’ it is stated that Conchobhar was her first husband, whom she forsook ‘tre uabhar meanman,’ ‘through pride of spirit,’ and that the first cause of the Táin Bó Cuailnge ‘was the desertion of Conchobhar by Meadhbh against his will’ (Eriu II. 176).

p. 4. i ndualgas cirt mo ṁáṫar, Méibh’s father, Eochaidh Feidhleach, drove out the reigning king of Connacht, and established her in charge of the province. There are different accounts of Oilill’s claim to the kingship. According to ‘Cath Bóinne’ his father was Máda, son of Sraibhgenn of the Erna, a Munster tribe, he was brought up in Cruachain, and Méibh, out of admiration for his valour, made him her husband and King of Connacht (Eriu II. 182). A more convincing account, however, is given in the Leinster genealogies as follows: Oilill was son of Ros Ruadh of Leinster and Máda Muirisc, a Connacht woman. When Méibh received the province the men of Connacht marched with her and her father into Leinster and carried of Oilill to [ 258 ]make him king of Connacht, because his mother was a Connacht woman, and because there was neither fear nor jealousy in his heart, and also because they wished to establish an alliance between these two provinces, and to make war upon the province of Conchobhar. So that, subsequently, Oilill, with his three thousand Gailiain drove the kine of Cuailnge (Rawl. B. 502, p. 118, b. 6, cf. ‘Cath Ruis na Ríg,’ p. 58). The interrelations of the characters in the Táin have not yet been satisfactorily unravelled. The fact that several chiefs are named more usually from the mother, e.g., Conchobhar mac Neasa, doubtless caused confusion in some cases.

p. 5. feall ar Ṁ., see note on p. 2 above.

p. 7. na Craoḃruaiḋe. The Craobhruadh was one of Conchobhar’s houses in Eamhain. In it the kings lived. See Keating II. 198, and Stories from Keating, p. 104, I. 30.

p. 8. an Finn-ḃeannaċ, ‘The White-horned.’ an Donn Cuailnge, ‘The Dun (Bull) of C.’ In one of the foretales, or preludes to the Táin these are shown to have been originally two swineherds, who passed through a series of metamorphoses, becoming in turn birds, fish, deer, warriors, worms and eventually bulls. See Irische Texte III. 1.

p. 9. ’na ċeas, this is a reference to the mysterious ces noíden (or noínden), a debility which rendered the Ulstermen helpless for the space of five days and four nights, when ever their kingdom was threatened by an enemy. This weakness, from which Cú Chulainn and the women and boys of the province were exempt, was supposed to have been sent upon them by the fairy Macha as a punishment for their cruelty towards her. See Hull’s Cuchullim Saga.

„ „ tóg uaim é ’s gan uaim aċ é, ‘take it away, though it is exactly what I want.’ Used in sarcastic reference to a person who, by reason of perversity or sulkiness, refuses to accept something he is most anxious to have.

p. 13. na cúige, i.e., Cúige Ulaḋ, which is frequently referred to in early Irish tales simply as in cóiced, the Fifth. This is not without interest to the student of early Irish history. The explanation might be that one-fifth of Ireland was apportioned to the northern race before the division of the whole country into five kingdoms.

p. 14. fuil do ċur leis an mbéal—, ‘to draw blood from the lips.’

p. 15. ag cur ċúċa ná uaṫa, ‘interfering with them directly or indirectly.’

p. 19. an dtáining = ar ṫáinig.. See An Cleasaiḋe, p. 75.

„ „ cáirde síḋe, ‘supernatural friends,’ ‘spirit friends.’

„ „ idir Ultaiḃ agus Connaċta ḋóiḃ, ‘both as Ulstermen and Connachtmen.’

[ 259 ]p. 20. ní raiḃ de ḋia beag acu aċ C., ‘there was no one whom they idolised as much as C.’

p. 26. Calaḋċolg, ‘Hard blade,’ the name of Fergus’ sword. Another form is caladhbholg, corresponding with caledvwlch, ‘Hard notch,’ the name of Arthur’s sword (Caliburnus, Excalibur) in the Welsh tales. See Lady Guest’s Mabinogion, 1902, p. 106, and NED., under Excalibur.

p. 28. ċeiṫre áṫa Ṁ. hA. These were: Áth Mogha, Ballymoe, on the Suck, Co. Galway; Áth Coltna, unidentified; Áth Slisean, Ballashlishen, S. of Elphin, Co. Roscommon; Áth Bearcha, unidentified. See Hogan’s Onomasticon.

p. 29. slóiġte Laiġean, the Gailiain.

p. 30. ’na ċeas, see note on p. 9, supra.

„ „ an Luin Cealtċair, ‘C.’s lance,’ the article may seem irregular here, but the two nouns are taken as one word, the second having an adjectival force. Cf., e.g., ‘an gaoi bolga.’ The Luin Cealtchair was a very remarkable weapon, supposed to be endowed with an instinctive ferocity of its own. See descriptions of it in Hennessy’s Mesca Uladh, p. xiv., Togail Bruidhne Dá Derga, § 129, R.C. XXII., and Ferguson’s Conary.

p. 33. gan stad, ‘immediately.’

  „ ag déanaṁ sgiaṫ tar lorg, ‘acting as a rearguard.’ The words sgiaṫ tar lorg being taken as a phrase, the first is left undeclined.

„ „ iṫir ḋearg, ‘red earth,’ the upturned clay as left by the trampling of the hosts.

p. 34. ’na steillḃeaṫaiḋ,, ‘actually alive.’

p. 35. féaċ náċ beag—, ‘see how little’—, lit. ‘look, is it not little.’

„ „ ag déanaṁ críċe agus tiúsgail (tionnscail), ‘using thrift and industry.’ críċ, a furrow, a border > a boundary > end > definite object. ag déanaṁ críċe, working with a definite object in view; being useful.

p. 39. ġá maoiḋeaṁ orainn, ‘crediting us with them,’ i.e. ascribing to them the credit of whatever good we do. This expression is so difficult to render concisely into English, that Irish speakers of English simply say ‘meeving—on us.’

p. 45. According to the plot of the story Fergus purposely leads the army astray in order to give the Ulstermen time to prepare a defence. Possibly Fergus’ conduct in this matter was invented by an early shaper of the Táin, in order to account for the roundabout route chosen by the Connacht hosts. In an interesting paper, printed in the Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie VIII., Miss Margaret Dobbs has shown that the direction followed by Méibh might be explained by the necessity of avoiding such a boundary fortification between Ulster and Connacht as is still apparently discernible in the so-called ‘Black Pig’s Dyke.’ This curious [ 260 ]intrenchment can be traced from Scarva, in Co. Down, to Bundoran, in the west, running south of Armagh, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Carrick-on-Shannon, and west of Loughs Allen, Macnaean and Melvin. See Proc. R.I.A., XVII., C. 14, May, 1909.

p. 51. ṫáinig a ṁeanmna ċuġam, ‘his mental influence has come to me.’ A telepathic communication between Fergus and Cú Chulainn is supposed.

p. 54 At the present day oġam generally means the curious form of writing used in the most ancient Irish stone inscriptions. By the medieval native writers, however, the term is also used to denote 1. any kind of secret writing, or cipher; 2. the written language as distinguished from the living speech, or spelling as distinguished from pronunciation. In the present text the meaning 1. is evidently required.

„ „ tá breiṫ agat air, ‘you have time enough.’

p. 60. bró lic’ oiġre, ‘a mass of ice.’ leac oiġre, ‘a piece of ice.’

p. 65. agam’ báṫair = agam’ ṁáṫair. It is noteworthy that b may be de-aspirated by a preceding m, and as the aspirated forms of b and m are almost identical it is possible that such cases as this are on the analogy of phrases like dom boḋraḋ, dom bualaḋ, etc.

p. 67. ḋá ċorp, that is, the body the warrior and that of his charioteer.

p. 59. fear coṁlainn céad, ‘a match for a hundred.’

p. 70. ag bualaḋ uime Ċ. Ċ., uime, aige, are common in the spoken language instead of um, ag, before nouns other than verbal nouns.

p. 74. faoḃair-ċleas, ‘edge-feat.’ Cú Chulainn was skilled in a number of ‘feats’ or warlike devices. Most of them are denoted by names which convey little to the modern reader. The only others referred to in the present text are an t-uḃall-ċleas ‘the ball feat’ (p. 98), cluiċe an áṫa, ‘the ford-feat’ (p. 185), and the feat of the gaoi bolga, by which Lóch and Fear Diadh were slain (pp. 128, 192). For a full list see O’Curry’s Manners and Customs II. 372.

p. 76. mara mbeaḋ an méid fill, etc., this is a reference to the manner in which Fergus allowed himself to be tricked into surrendering the kingship of Ulster. See Eriu IV., 22.

p. 77. tugaid siad —, ‘they swear by —’

p. 86. Bruiġean Ċaorṫainn, perhaps originally a reference to the famous Ossianic story of this name. The development of meaning in bruiġean (bruiḋean) 1. palace 2. a fight, is explained by O’Grady in Silva Gadelica II. p. xvi.

p. 90. dearḃráṫair mo ṁáṫar, see Deiċtine in Index of Proper Names infra.

p. 91. má’s binn béal ’na ċoṁnuiḋe, ‘if eloquent is the [ 261 ]Page:Táin Bó Cuailnge 'na dráma - Ua Laoghaire.pdf/275 [ 262 ]Page:Táin Bó Cuailnge 'na dráma - Ua Laoghaire.pdf/276 [ 263 ]Page:Táin Bó Cuailnge 'na dráma - Ua Laoghaire.pdf/277