The Tain Bo Culaigne
Here Followeth Iliach's Clump-Fight
Then came to them Iliach son of Cass son of Bacc son of Ross Ruad son of
Rudraige. It was told him that the four grand provinces of Erin even then laid
waste and invaded the lands of Ulster and of the Picts and of Cualnge from
Monday at Summer's end till the beginning of Spring. He then conceived a plan in
his mind and he made perfect his plan privily with his people. "What counsel
were better for me to make than to go and attack the men of Erin and to have my
victory over them, and thus avenge the honour of Ulster. And I care not though I
should fall myself there thereafter."
And this is the counsel he followed. His two withered, mangy, sorrel nags
that were upon the strand hard by the fort were led to him. Thus he mounted his
chariot, without either covers or cushions. His big, rough, pale-grey shield of
iron he carried upon him, with its rim of hard silver around it. He wore his
rough, grey-hilted, huge smiting sword at his left side. He placed his two
rickety-headed, nicked, blunt, rusted spears by his side in the chariot. His
folk furnished his chariot around him with cobbles and boulders and huge clumps.
In such wise he fared forth to assail the men of Erin. And thus he came, and
the spittle from his gaping mouth trickling down through the chariot under him.
"Truly it would be well for us," said the men of Erin, "if this were the manner
in which all the Ulstermen came to us on the plain."
Dochè son of Maga met him and bade him welcome. "Welcome is thy coming, O
Iliach," spake Dochè son of Maga. "Truly spoken I esteem that welcome," answered
Iliach; "but do thou for the sake of that welcome come to me when now, alas, my
deeds of arms will be over and my warlike vigour will have vanished, so that
thou be the one to cut off my head and none other of the men of Erin. However,
my sword shall remain with thee for thine own friend, even for Loegaire Buadach!
He assailed the men of Erin with his weapons till he had made an end of them.
And when weapons failed he assailed the men of Erin with cobbles and boulders
and huge clumps of earth. And when these weapons failed him he spent his rage on
the man that was nearest him of the men of Erin, and bruised him grievously
between his fore-arms and his sides and the palms of his hands, till he made a
marrow-mass of him, of flesh and bones and sinews and skin.
Hence in memory thereof, these two masses of marrow still live on side by
side, the marrow-mass that Cuchulain made of the bones of the Ulstermen's cattle
for the healing of Cethern son of Fintan, and the marrow-mass that Iliach made
of the bones of the men of Erin. Wherefore this was one of the three innumerable
things of the Tain, the number of them that fell at the hands of Iliach. So that
this is the 'Clumpfight' of Iliach. It is for this reason it is called the
'Clump-fight' of Iliach, because with cobbles and boulders and messy clumps he
made his fight.
Thereafter Dochè son of Maga met him. "Is not this Iliach?" asked Dochè son
of Maga. "It is truly I," Iliach gave answer; "and come to me now and cut off my
head and let my sword remain with thee for thy friend, for Loegaire Buadach
('the Victorious')." Dochè came near him and gave him a blow with the sword so
that he severed his head. Thus to this point, the 'Clump-fight' of Iliach.