The Tain Bo Culaigne

Here Is Told The Meeting of Cuchulain And Finnabair

   "Let a message be sent to him," said Ailill, "that Finnabair my daughter will be bestowed on him, and for him to keep away from the hosts." Manè Athramail ('Fatherlike') goes to him. But first he addresses himself to Laeg. "Whose man art thou?" spake Manè. Now Laeg made no answer. Thrice Manè addressed him in this same wise. "Cuchulain's man," Laeg answers, "and provoke me not, lest it happen I strike thy head off thee!" "This man is mad," quoth Manè as he leaves him.
   Then he goes to accost Cuchulain. It was there Cuchulain had doffed his tunic, and the deep snow was around him where he sat, up to his belt, and the snow had melted a cubit around him for the greatness of the heat of the hero. And Manè addressed him three times in like manner, whose man he was?" Conchobar's man, and do not provoke me. For if thou provokes me any longer I will strike thy head off thee as one strikes off the head of a blackbird!" "No easy thing," quoth Manè, "to speak to these two." Thereupon Manè leaves them and tells his tale to Ailill and Medb.
   "Let Lugaid go to him," said Ailill, "and offer him the girl." Thereupon Lugaid goes and repeats this to Cuchulain. "O master Lugaid," quoth Cuchulain, "it is a snare!" "It is the word of a king; he hath said it," Lugaid answered; "there can be no snare in it." "So be it," said Cuchulain. Forthwith Lugaid leaves him and takes that answer to Ailill and Medb. "Let the fool go forth in my form," said Ailill, "and the king's crown on his head, and let him stand some way off from Cuchulain lest he know him; and let the girl go with him and let the fool promise her to him, and let them depart quickly in this wise. And methinks ye will play a trick on him thus, so that he will not stop you any further till he comes with the Ulstermen to the battle."
   Then the fool goes to him and the girl along with him, and from afar he addresses Cuchulain. The Hound comes to meet him. It happened he knew by the man's speech that he was a fool. A clingstone that was in his hand he threw at him so that it entered his head and bore out his brains. He comes up to the maiden, cuts off her two tresses and thrusts a stone through her cloak and her tunic, and plants a standing-stone through the middle of the fool. Their two pillar-stones are there, even the pillar-stone of Finnabair and the pillar-stone of the fool.
   Cuchulain left them in this plight. A party was sent out from Ailill and Medb to search for their people, for it was long they thought they were gone, when they saw them in this wise. This thing was noised abroad by all the host in the camp. Thereafter there was no truce for them with Cuchulain.

Here The Combat of Munremar and Curoi

   While the hosts were there in the evening they perceived that one stone fell on them coming from the east and another from the west to meet it. The stones met one another in the air and kept falling between Fergus' camp, the camp of Ailill and the camp of Nera. This sport and play continued from that hour till the same hour on the next day, and the hosts spent the time sitting down, with their shields over their heads to protect them from the blocks of stones, till the plain was full of the boulders, whence cometh Mag Clochair ('the Stony Plain').
   Now it happened it was Curoi macDarè did this. He had come to bring help to his people and had taken his stand in Cotal to fight against Munremar son of Gerrcend. The latter had come from Emain Macha to succour Cuchulain and had taken his stand on Ard ('the Height') of Roch. Curoi knew there was not in the host a man to compete with Munremar. These then it was who carried on this sport between them. The army prayed them to cease. Whereupon Munremar and Curoi made peace, and Curoi withdrew to his house and Munremar to Emain Macha and Munremar came not again till the day of the battle. As for Curoi, he came not till the combat of Ferdiad.
   "Pray Cuchulain," said Medb and Ailill, "that he suffer us to change our place." This then was granted to them and the change was made.
   The 'Pains' of the Ulstermen left them then. When now they awoke from their 'Pains,' bands of them came continually upon the host to restrain it again.

The Slaughter of The Boy-Troop

   Now the youths of Ulster discussed the matter among themselves in Emain Macha. "Alas for us," said they, "that our friend Cuchulain has no one to succour him!" "I would ask then," spake Fiachu Fulech ('the Bloody') son of Ferfebè and own brother to Fiachu Fialdana ('the Generous-daring') son of Ferfebè, "shall I have a company from you to go to him with help?"
   Thrice fifty youths accompany him with their play-clubs, and that was a third of the boy-troop of Ulster. The army saw them drawing near them over the plain. "A great army approaches us over the plain," spake Ailill. Fergus goes to espy them. "Some of the youths of Ulster are they," said he, "and it is to succour Cuchulain they come." "Let a troop go to meet them," said Ailill, "unknown to Cuchulain; for if they unite with him ye will never overcome them." Thrice fifty warriors went out to meet them. They fell at one another's hands, so that not one of them got off alive of the number of the youths of Lia Toll. Hence is Lia ('the Stone') of Fiachu son of Ferfebè, for it is there that he fell.
   "Take counsel," quoth Ailill; "inquire of Cuchulain about letting you go from hence, for ye will not go past him by force, now that his flame of valour has risen." For it was usual with him, when his hero's flame arose in him, that his feet would turn back on him and his buttocks before him, and the knobs of his calves would come on his shins, and one eye would be in his head and the other one out of his head. A man's head would have gone into his mouth. There was not a hair on him that was not as sharp as the thorn of the hew, and a drop of blood was on each single hair. He would recognize neither comrades nor friends. Alike he would strike them before and behind. Therefrom it was that the men of Connacht gave Cuchulain the name Riastartha ('the Contorted One').

The Slaughter of The King's Bodyguard

   "Let us ask for a sword-truce from Cuchulain," said Ailill and Medb. Lugaid goes to him and Cuchulain accords the truce. "Put a man for me on the ford to-morrow," said Cuchulain. There happened to be with Medb six royal hirelings, to wit: six princes of the Gans of Deda, the three Dubs ('the Blacks') of Imlech, and the three Dergs ('the Reds') of Sruthair, by name. "Why should it not be for us," quoth they, "to go and attack Cuchulain?" So the next day they went and Cuchulain put an end to the six of them.