Gods and Fighting Men

Hidden House of Lugh

   And after Lugh had held the kingship for a long time, the Dagda was made king in his place.
   And Lugh went away out of Ireland, and some said he died at Uisnech, the place where the five provinces meet, and the first place there was ever a fire kindled in Ireland. It was by Mide, son of Brath, it was kindled, for the sons of Nemed, and it was burning through six years, and it was from that fire every chief was kindled in Ireland.
   But Lugh was seen again in Ireland at the time Conchubar and the Men of the Red Branch went following white birds southward to the Boinn at the time of Cuchulain's birth. And it was he came and kept watch over Cuchulain in his three days' sleep at the time of the War for the Bull of Cuailgne.
   And after that again he was seen by Conn of the Hundred Battles, and this is the way that happened.
   Conn was in Teamhair one time, and he went up in the early morning to the Rath of the Kings at the rising of the sun, and his three Druids with him, Maol and Bloc and Bhuice; and his three poets, Ethain and Corb and Cesarn. And the reason he had for going up there with them every day, was to look about on every side, the way if any men of the Sidhe would come into Ireland they would not come unknown to him. And on this day he chanced to stand upon a stone that was in the rath, and the stone screamed under his feet, that it was heard all over Teamhair and as far as Bregia.
   Then Conn asked his chief Druid how the stone came there, and what it screamed for. And the Druid said he would not answer that till the end of fifty-three days. And at the end of that time, Conn asked him again, and it is what the Druid said: "The Lia Fail is the name of the stone; it is out of Falias it was brought, and it is in Teamhair it was setup, and in Teamhair it will stay forever. And as long as there is a king in Teamhair it is here will be the gathering place for games, and if there is no king to come to the last day of the gathering, there will be hardness in that year. And when the stone screamed under your feet," he said, "the number of the screams it gave was a foretelling of the number of kings of your race that would come after you. But it is not I myself will name them for you," he said.
   And while they were in the same place, there came a great mist about them and a darkness, so that they could not know what way they were going, and they heard the noise of a rider coming towards them. "It would be a great grief to us," said Conn, "to be brought away into a strange country." Then the rider threw three spears at them, and every one came faster than the other. "It is the wounding of a king indeed," said the Druids, "any one to cast at Conn of Teamhair."
   The rider stopped casting his spears on that, and he came to them and bade Conn welcome, and asked him to come to his house. They went on then till they came to a beautiful plain, and there they saw a king's rath, and a golden tree at its door, and inside the rath a grand house with a roof of white bronze. So they went into the house, and the rider that had come to meet them was there before them, in his royal seat, and there had never been seen a man like him in Teamhair for comeliness or for beauty, or the wonder of his face.
   And there was a young woman in the house, having a band of gold on her head, and a silver vessel with hoops of gold beside her, and it full of red ale, and a golden bowl on its edge, and a golden cup at its mouth. She said then to the master of the house: "Who am I to serve drink to?" "Serve it to Cairn of the Hundred Battles," he said, "for he will gain a hundred battles before he dies." And after that he bade her to pour out the ale for Art of the Three Shouts, the son of Conn; and after that he went through the names of all the kings of Ireland that would come after Conn, and he told what would be the length of their lifetime. And the young woman left the vessel with Conn, and the cup and the bowl, and she gave him along with that the rib of an ox and of a hog; twenty-four feet was the length of the ox-rib.
   And the master of the house told them the young woman was the Kingship of Ireland for ever. "And as for myself," he said, "I am Lugh of the Long Hand, son of Ethlinn."


Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan