Gods and Fighting Men

The March of the Fianna

   And Finn and the Fianna were at the house of Credhe yet, and they saw Taistellach coming towards them. It was the custom, now, with Finn when he sent any one looking for news, that it was to himself it was to be told first, the way that if he got bad news he would let on not to mind it; and if it was good news he got, he would have the satisfaction of telling it himself. So Taistellach told him how the foreigners were come to the harbour of the White Strand.
   Then Finn turned to his chief men, and he said: "Fianna of Ireland, there never came harm or danger to Ireland to be put aside this great danger that is come against us now. And you get great tribute and great service from the chief men of Ireland," he said, "and if you take that from them it is right for you to defend them now."
   And the Fianna all said they would not go back one step from the defence of Ireland. And as to Credhe, she gave every one of them a battle dress, and they were taking leave of her, and Finn said: "Let the woman come along with us till we know is it good or bad the end of this journey will be." So she came with them, bringing a great herd of cattle; and through the whole length of the battle, that lasted a year and a day, she had new milk for them, and it was to her house the wounded were brought for healing.
   Then the Fianna set out, and they went to the borders of Ciarraighe Luachra and across by the shores of the Bannlid with their left hand to Slieve Mis, and they made shelters for themselves that night, and kindled fires.
   But Caoilte and Oisin and Lugaidh's Son said to one another they would go on to the harbour, the way they would have time to redden their hands in the blood of the foreigners before. the rest of the Fianna would come.
   And at that time the King of the World bade some of his chief men to go on shore and to bring him back some spoils. So they went to land and they gave out a great shout, and the people of the ships gave out a great shout at the same time. "I swear by the oath my people swear by," said Caoilte, "I have gone round the whole world, but I never heard so many voices together in one place." And with that he himself and Oisin and Lugaidh's Son made an attack on the strangers, and struck great blows at them. And when Conn Crither and Glas, son of Dremen, heard the noise of those blows, they knew they were struck by some of the Fianna of Ireland, and they came and joined with them, and did great destruction on the strangers, till there was not one left of all that had come to land.


Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan