Gods and Fighting Men
Laegaire in the Happy Plain
And another that went to visit Magh Mell, the Happy Plain, was Laegaire, son
of the King of Connacht, Crimthan Cass.
He was out one day with the king, his father, near Loch na-n Ean, the Lake of
Birds, and the men of Connacht with them, and they saw a man coming to them
through the mist. Long golden-yellow hair he had, and it streaming after him,
and at his belt a gold-hilted sword, and in his hand two five-barbed darts, a
gold-rimmed shield on his back, a five-folded crimson cloak about his shoulders.
"Give a welcome to the man that is coming towards you," said Laegaire, that
had the best name of all the men of Connacht, to his people. And to the stranger
he said: "A welcome to the champion we do not know."
"I am thankful to you all," said he.
"What is it you are come for, and where are you going?" said Laegaire then.
"I am come to look for the help of fighting men," said the stranger. "And my
name," be said, 'is Fiachna, son of Betach, of the men of the Sidhe; and it is
what ails in; my wife was taken from my pillow and brought away by Eochaid, son
of Sal. And we fought together, and I killed him, and now she is gone to a
brother's son of his, Goll, son of Dalbh, king of a people of Magh MeIl. Seven
battles I gave him, but they all went against me; and on this very day there is
another to be fought, and I am come to ask help. And to every one that deserves
it, I will give a good reward of gold and of silver for that help."
And it is what he said:
"The most beautiful of plains is the Plain of the Two Mists; it is not far
from this; it is a host of the men of the Sidhe full of courage are stirring up
pools of blood upon it.
"We have drawn red blood from the bodies of high nobles; many women are
keening them with cries and with tears.
"The men of the host in good order go out ahead of their beautiful king; they
march among blue spears, white troops of fighters with curled hair.
"They scatter the troops of their enemies, they destroy every country they
make an attack on; they are beautiful in battle, a host with high looks,
"It is no wonder they to have such strength: every one of them is the son of
a king and a queen; manes of hair they have of the colour of gold.
"Their bodies smooth and comely; their eyes blue and far-seeing; their teeth
bright like crystal, within their thin red lips.
"White shields they have in their hands, with patterns on them of white
silver; blue shining swords, red horns set with gold.
"They are good at killing men in battle; good at song-making, good at
"The most beautiful of plains is the Plain of the Two Mists; the men of the
Sidhe are stirring up pools of blood on it; it is not far from this place."
"It would be a shameful thing not to give our help to this man," said
Fiachna, son of Betach, went down into the lake then, for it was out of it he
had come, and Laegaire went down into it after him, and fifty fighting men along
They saw a strong place before them then, and a company of armed men, and
Goll, son of Dalbh, at the head of them.
"That is well," said Laegaire, "I and my fifty men will go out against this
troop." "I will answer you," said Goll, son of Dalbh.
The two fifties attacked one another then, and Goll fell, but Laegaire and
his fifty escaped with their lives and made a great slaughter of their enemies,
that not one of them made his escape.
"Where is the woman now?" said Laegaire. "She is within the dun of Magh Mell,
and a troop of armed men keeping guard about it," said Fiachna. "Let you stop
here, and I and my fifty will go there," said Laegaire.
So he and his men went on to the dun, and Laegaire called out to the men that
were about it: "Your king has got his death, your chief men have fallen, let the
woman come out, and I will give you your own lives." The men agreed to that, and
they brought the woman out. And when she came out she made this complaint:
"It is a sorrowful day that swords are reddened for the sake of the dear dead
body of Goll, son of Dalbh. It was he that loved me, it was himself I loved, it
is little Laegaire Liban cares for that.
"Weapons were hacked and were split by Goll; it is to Fiachna, son of Betach,
I must go; it is Goll, son of Dalbh, I loved."
And that complaint got the name of "The Lament of the Daughter of Eochaid the
Laegaire went back with her then till he put her hand in Fiachna's hand. And
that night Fiachna's daughter, Deorgreine, a Tear of the Sun, was given to
Laegaire as his wife, and fifty other women were given to his fifty fighting
men, and they stopped with them there to the end of a year.
And at the end of that time, Laegaire said: "Let us go and ask news of our
own country." "If you have a mind to go," said Fiachna, "bring horses with you;
but whatever happens," he said, "do not get off from them."
So they set out then; and when they got back to Ireland, they found a great
gathering of the whole of the men of Connacht that were keening them.
And when the men of Connacht saw them coming they rose up to meet them, and
to bid them welcome. But Laegaire called out: "Do not come to us, for it is to
bid you farewell we are here." "Do not go from us again," said Crimthan, his
father, "and I will give you the sway over the three Connachts, their silver and
their gold, their horses and their bridles, and their beautiful women, if you
will not go from us."
And it is what Laegaire said: "In the place we are gone to, the armies move
from kingdom to kingdom, they listen to the sweet-sounding music of the Sidhe,
they drink from shining cups, we talk with those we love, it is beer that falls
instead of rain.
"We have brought from the dun of the Pleasant Plain thirty cauldrons, thirty
drinking horns; we have brought the complaint that was sung by the Sea, by the
daughter of Eochaid the Dumb.
"There is a wife for every man of the fifty; my own wife to me is the Tear of
the Sun; I am made master of a blue sword; I would not give for all your whole
kingdom one night of the nights of the Sidhe."
With that Laegaire turned from them, and went back to the kingdom. And he was
made king there along with Fiachna, son of Betach, and his daughter, and he did
not come out of it yet.