Gods and Fighting Men

The Dagda

   And it was at Brugh na Boinne the Dagda, the Red Man of all Knowledge, had his house. And the most noticeable things in it were the Hall of the Morrigu, and the Bed of the Dagda, and the Birthplace of Cermait Honey-Mouth, and the Prison of the Grey of Macha that was Cuchulain's horse afterwards. And there was a little hill by the house that was called the Comb and the Casket of the Dagda's wife; and another that was called the Hill of Dabilla, that was the little hound belonging to Boann. And the Valley of the Mata was there, the Sea-Turtle that could suck down a man in armour.
   And it is likely the Dagda put up his cooking oven there, that Druimne, son of Luchair, made for him at Teamhair. And it is the way it was, the axle and the wheel were of wood, and the body was iron, and there were twice nine wheels in its axle, that it might turn the faster; and it was as quick as the quickness of a stream in turning, and there were three times nine spits from it, and three times nine pots. And it used to lie down with the cinders and to rise to the height of the roof with the flame.
   The Dagda himself made a great vat one time for Ainge, his daughter, but she was not well satisfied with it, for it would not stop from dripping while the sea was in flood, though it would not lose a drop during the ebb-tide. And she gathered a bundle of twigs to make a new vat for herself, but Gaible, son of Nuada of the Silver Hand, stole it from her and hurled it away. And in the place where it fell a beautiful wood grew up, that was called Gaible's Wood.
   And the Dagda had his household at Brugh na Boinne, and his steward was Dichu, and Len Linfiaclach was the smith of the Brugh. It was he lived in the lake, making the bright vessels of Fand, daughter of Flidhais; and every evening when he left off work he would make a cast of the anvil eastward to Indeoin na Dese, the Anvil of the Dese, as far as the Grave End. Three showers it used to cast, a shower of fire, and a shower of water, and a shower of precious stones of pure purple.
   But Tuirbe, father of Goibniu the Smith, used to throw better again, for he would make a cast of his axe from Tulach na Bela, the Hill of the Axe, in the face of the flood tide, and he would put his order on the sea, and it would not come over the axe.
   And Corann was the best of the harpers of the household; he was harper to the Dagda's son, Diancecht. And one time he called with his harp to Cailcheir, one of the swine of Debrann. And it ran northward with all the strength of its legs, and the champions of Connacht were following after it with all their strength of running, and their hounds with them, till they got as far as Ceis Corain, and they gave it up there, all except Niall that went on the track of the swine till he found it in the oak-wood of Tarba, and then it made away over the plain of Ai, and through a lake. And Niall and his hound were drowned in following it through the lake. And the Dagda gave Corann a great tract of land for doing his harping so well.
   But however great a house the Dagda had, Angus got it away from him in the end, through the help of Manannan, son of Lir. For Manannan bade him to ask his father for it for the length of a day and a night, and that he by his art would take away his power of refusing. So Angus asked for the Brugh, and his father gave it to him for a day and a night. But when he asked it back again, it is what Angus said, that it had been given to him for ever, for the whole of life and time is made up of a day and a night, one following after the other.
   So when the Dagda heard that he went away and his people and his household with him, for Manannan had put an enchantment on them all.
   But Dichu the Steward was away at the time, and his wife and his son, for they were gone out to get provisions for a feast for Manannan and his friends. And when he came back and knew his master was gone, he took service with Angus.
   And Angus stopped in Brugh na Boinne, and some say he is there to this day, with the hidden walls about him, drinking Goibniu's ale and eating the pigs that never fail.
   As to the Dagda, he took no revenge, though he had the name of being revengeful and quick in his temper. And some say it was at Teamhair he made his dwelling-place after that, but wherever it was, a great misfortune came on him.
   It chanced one time Corrgenn, a great man of Connacht, came to visit him, and his wife along with him. And while they were there, Corrgenn got it in his mind that there was something that was not right going on between his wife and Aedh, one of the sons of the Dagda. And great jealousy and anger came on him, and he struck at the young man and killed him before his father's face.
   Every one thought the Dagda would take Corrgenn's life then and there in revenge for his son's life. But he would not do that, for he said if his son was guilty, there was no blame to be put on Corrgenn for doing what he did. So he spared his life for that time, but if he did, Corrgenn did not gain much by it. For the punishment he put on him was to take the dead body of the young man on his back, and never lay it down till he would find a stone that would be its very fit in length and in breadth, and that would make a gravestone for him; and when he had found that, he could bury him in the nearest hill.
   So Corrgenn had no choice but to go, and he set out with his load; but he bad a long way to travel before he could find a stone that would fit, and it is where he found one at last, on the shore of Loch Feabhail. So then he left the body up on the nearest bill, and he went down and raised the stone and brought it up and dug a grave and buried the Dagda's son. And it is many an Ochone! he gave when he was putting the stone over him, and when he had that done he was spent, and he dropped dead there and then.
   And the Dagda brought his two builders, Garbhan and Imheall, to the place, and he bade them build a rath there round the grave. It was Garbhan cut the stones and shaped them, and Imheall set them all round the house till the work was finished, and then he closed the top of the house with a slab. And the place was called the Hill of Aileac, that is, the Hill of Sighs and of a Stone, for it was tears of blood the Dagda shed on account of the death of his son.


Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan