Gods and Fighting Men
But as to the Tuatha de Danaan after they were beaten, they would not go
under the sway of the sons of Miled, but they went away by themselves. And
because Manannan, son of Lir, understood all enchantments, they left it to him
to find places for them where they would be safe from their enemies. So he
chose out the most beautiful of the hills and valleys of Ireland for them to
settle in; and he put hidden walls about them, that no man could see through,
but they themselves could see through them and pass through them.
And he made the Feast of Age for them, and what they drank at it was the ale
of Goibniu the Smith, that kept whoever tasted it from age and from sickness and
from death. And for food at the feast he gave them his own swine, that though
they were killed and eaten one day, would be alive and fit for eating again the
next day, and that would go on in that way for ever.
And after a while they said: "It would be better for us one king to be over
us, than to be scattered the way we are through the whole of Ireland."
Now the men among them that had the best chance of getting the kingship at
that time were Bodb Dearg, son of the Dagda; and llbrech of Ess Ruadh; and Lir
of Sidhe Fionnachaidh, the Hill of the White Field, on Slieve Fuad; and Midhir
the Proud of Bri Leith, and Angus Og, son of the Dagda; but he did not covet the
kingship at all, but would sooner be left as he was. Then all the chief men but
those five went into council together, and it is what they agreed, to give the
kingship to Bodb Dearg, for the sake of his father, for his own sake, and
because he was the eldest among the children of the Dagda.
It was in Sidhe Femen Bodb Dearg had his house, and he put great enchantments
about it. Cliach, the Harper of the King of the Three Rosses in Connacht, went
one time to ask one of his daughters in marriage, and he stayed outside the
place through the whole length of a year, playing his harp, and able to get no
nearer to Bodb or to his daughter. And he went on playing till a lake burst up
under his feet, the lake that is on the top of a mountain, Loch Bel Sead.
It was Bodb's swineherd went to Da Derga's Inn, and his squealing pig along
with him, the night Conaire, the High King of Ireland, met with his death; and
it was said that whatever feast that swineherd would go to, there would blood be
shed before it was over.
And Bodb had three sons, Angus, and Artrach, and Aedh. And they used often to
be living among men in the time of the Fianna afterwards. Artrach had a house
with seven doors, and a free welcome for all that came, and the king's son of
Ireland, and of Alban, used to be coming to Angus to learn the throwing of
spears and darts; and troops of poets from Alban and from Ireland used to be
with Aedh, that was the comeliest of Bodb's sons, so that his place used to be
called "The Rath of Aedh of the Poets". And indeed it was a beautiful rath at
that time, with golden-yellow apples in it and crimson-pointed nuts of the wood.
But after the passing away of the Fianna, the three brothers went back to the
Tuatha de Danaan.
And Bodb Dearg was not always in his own place, but sometimes he was with
Angus at Brugh na Boinne.
Three sons of Lugaidh Menn, King of Ireland, Eochaid, and Fiacha, and Ruide,
went there one time, for their father refused them any land till they would win
it for themselves. And when be said that, they rose with the ready rising of one
man, and went and sat down on the green of Brugh na Boinne, and fasted there on
the Tuatha de Danaan, to see if they could win some good thing from them.
And they were not long there till they saw a young man, quiet and with
pleasant looks, coming towards them, and he wished them good health, and they
answered him the same way. "Where are you come from?" they asked him then. "From
the rath beyond, with the many lights," he said. "And I am Bodb Dearg, son of
the Dagda," he said, "and come in with me now to the rath."
So they went in, and supper was made ready for them, but they did not use it.
Bodb Dearg asked them then why was it they were using nothing. "It is because
our father has refused land to us," said they; "and there are in Ireland but the
two races, the Sons of the Gael and the Men of Dea, and when the one failed us
we are come to the other."
Then the Men of Dea consulted together. And the chief among them was Midhir
of the Yellow Hair, and it is what he said: "Let us give a wife to every one of
these three men, for it is from a wife that good or bad fortune comes."
So they agreed to that, and Midhir's three daughters, Doirenn, and Aife, and
Aillbhe, were given to them. Then Midhir asked Bodb to say what marriage portion
should be given to them. "I will tell you that," said Bodb. "We are three times
fifty sons of kings in this hill; let every king's son give three times fifty
ounces of red gold. And I myself," he said, "will give them along with that,
three times fifty suits of clothing of all colours." "I will give them a gift,"
said a young man of the Tuatha de Danaan, from Rachlainn in the sea. "A horn l
will give them, and a vat. And there is nothing wanting but to fill the vat with
pure water, and it will turn into mead, fit to drink, and strong enough to make
drunken. And into the horn," he said, "you have but to put salt water from the
sea, and it will turn into wine on the moment." "A gift to them from me," said
Lir of Sidhe Fionnachaidh, "three times fifty swords, and three times fifty
well-riveted long spears." "A gift from me," said Angus Og, son of the Dagda, "a
rath and a good town with high walls, and with bright sunny houses, and with
wide houses, in whatever place it will please them between Rath Chobtaige and
Teamhair." "A gift to them from me," said Aine, daughter of Modharn, "a
woman-cook that I have, and there is geasa on her not to refuse food to
any; and according as she serves it out, her store fills up of itself again."
"Another gift to them from me," said Bodb Dearg, "a good musician that I have,
Fertuinne, son of Trogain; and although there were women in the sharpest pains
of childbirth, and brave men wounded early in the day, in a place where there
were saws going through wood, they would sleep at the sweetness of the music he
makes. And whatever house he may be in, the people of the whole country round
will hear him."
So they stopped in Brugh na Boinne three days and three nights, and when they
left it, Angus bade them bring away from the oak-wood three apple-trees, one in
full bloom, and one shedding its blossom, and the third covered with ripe fruit.
They went then to their own dun that was given them, and it is a good place
they had there, and a troop of young men, and great troops of horses and of
greyhounds; and they had three sorts of music that comely kings liked to be
listening to, the music of harps and of lutes, and the chanting of Trogain's
son; and there were three great sounds, the tramping on the green, and the
uproar of racing, and the lowing of cattle; and three other sounds, the grunting
of good pigs with the fat thick on them, and the voices of the crowd on the
green lawn, and the noise of men drinking inside the house. And as to Eochaid,
it was said of him that he never took a step backwards in flight, and his house
was never without music or drinking of ale. And it was said of Fiacha that there
was no man of his time braver than himself, and that he never said a word too
much. And as to Ruide, he never refused any one, and never asked anything at all
of any man.
And when their lifetime was over, they went back to the Tuatha de Danaan, for
they belonged to them through their wives, and there they have stopped ever
And Bodb Dearg had a daughter, Scathniamh, the Flower of Brightness, that
gave her love to Caoilte in the time of the Fianna; and they were forced to part
from one another, and they never met again till the time Caoilte was old and
withered, and one of the last that was left of the Fianna. And she came to him
out of the cave of Cruachan, and asked him for the bride-price he bad promised
her, and that she was never able to come and ask for till then. And Caoilte went
to a cairn that was near and that was full up of gold, that was wages earned by
Conan Maol and hidden there, and be gave the gold to Bodb Dearg's daughter. And
the people that were there wondered to see the girl so young and comely, and
Caoilte so grey and bent and withered. "There is no wonder in that," said
Caoilte, "for I am of the sons of Miled that wither and fade away, but she is of
the Tuatha de Danaan that never change and that never die."