THE SECOND BATTLE OF MOYTURA

The two battles of Moytura (Mag Tured)—the first between the Tuatha De Danann and the Fir Bolgs and the second between the De Danann and the Fomoire—were first described in The Book of Invasions and then later retold in greater detail. This version, based on earlier Old Irish versions, dates from a vellum manuscript that seems to have been written (or copied) in the first half of the sixteenth century by a scribe named Gilla Riabhach O’Cleirigh.

The name Mag Tured can be translated as “the plain of towers” or “the plain of weeping,” and the mythic battles—the first may have been based on an actual battle—occurred in two different places. Oscar Wilde’s father, Sir William Wilde, a distinguished amateur archaeologist who named his family’s summer home Moytura, believed the first battle to have taken place south of Sligo near Cong and Lough Corrib. Most historians accept a plain near Lough Arrow, north of Sligo, as the supposed site of the second. In any case, the De Danann, a clan well steeped in the arts and in magic, won both battles. After the first, the sinister Fir Bolgs fled to the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, where they are credited, in legend at least, with having built many of the stone forts there. The Fomoire, defeated in the second battle, were a Scandinavian seagoing tribe who—at one point—are said to have invaded Ireland on a bridge of ships.

Gods and mortals mix freely in Irish mythology. Lug Lamfhota (“the long armed”), the Irish god of sun and light, first appears in this account as “a handsome, well-built young warrior” who seeks admission to Tara’s banqueting hall. Unrecognized by the doorkeepers, he undergoes a long cross-examination that ends with a game of chess orfidchell. Later, he becomes commander of the De Danann forces. As for that game, a medieval scribe added a primly pedantic parenthesis to the text: “(But if fidchell was invented at the time of the Trojan war, it had not reached Ireland yet, for the battle of Mag Tured and the destruction of Troy occurred at the same time.)” Other gods who appear in the tale include a rather comic Dagda (who combines qualities of Zeus, Jupiter, and Odin and in some accounts is called the “father of all”) and Ogma (Dagda’s son, a poet, orator, and inventor of writing).

The account, which ends with prophecy and song, also makes clear how dangerous it was to be an Irish king. One king is killed in battle, another is removed from his throne because the loss of an arm makes him ineligible, and a third is driven off because he is inept.

THE TÚATHA Dé DANANN were in the northern islands of the world [Greece], studying occult lore and sorcery, druidic arts and witchcraft and magical skill, until they surpassed the sages of the pagan arts ….

[They] came with a great fleet to Ireland to take it by force from the Fir Bolg. Upon reaching the territory of Corcu Belgatan (which is Conmaicne Mara today), they at once burned their boats so that they would not think of fleeing to them. The smoke and the mist which came from the ships filled the land and the air which was near them. For that reason it has been thought that they arrived in clouds of mist.

The [first] battle of Mag Tured was fought between them and the Fir Bolg. The Fir Bolg were defeated, and 100,000 of them were killed including the king, Eochaid mac Eirc.

[King] Núadu’s hand was cut off in that battle—Sreng mac Sengainn struck it from him. So with Crédne the brazier helping him, Dían Cécht the physician put on him a silver hand that moved as well as any other hand ….

Then those of the Fir Bolg who escaped from the battle fled to the Fomoire, and they settled in Arran and in Islay and in Man and in Rathlin.

There was contention regarding the sovereignty of the men of Ireland between the Túatha Dé and their wives, since Núadu was not eligible for kingship after his hand had been cut off. They said that it would be appropriate for them to give the kingship to Bres the [illegitimate] son of Elatha, to their own adopted son, and that giving him the kingship would knit the Fomorians’ alliance with them, since his father Elatha mac Delbaith was king of the Fomoire.

Now the conception of Bres came about in this way.

One day one of their women, Ériu the daughter of Delbáeth, was looking at the sea and the land from the house of Máeth Scéni; and she saw the sea as perfectly calm as if it were a level board. After that, while she was there, she saw something: a vessel of silver appeared to her on the sea. Its size seemed great to her, but its shape did not appear clearly to her; and the current of the sea carried it to the land.

Then she saw that it was a man of fairest appearance. He had golden yellow hair down to his shoulders, and a cloak with bands of gold thread around it. His shirt had embroidery of gold thread. On his breast was a brooch of gold with the lustre of a precious stone in it. Two shining silver spears and in them two smooth riveted shafts of bronze. Five circlets of gold around his neck. A gold-hilted sword with inlayings of silver and studs of gold.

The man said to her, “Shall I have an hour of lovemaking with you?” “I certainly have not made a tryst with you,” she said. “Come without the trysting!” said he.

Then they stretched themselves out together. The woman wept when the man got up again.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“I have two things that I should lament,” said the woman, “separating from you, however we have met. The young men of the Túatha Dé Danann have been entreating me in vain—and you possess me as you do.”

“Your anxiety about those two things will be removed,” he said. He drew his gold ring from his middle finger and put it into her hand, and told her that she should not part with it, either by sale or by gift, except to someone whose finger it would fit.

“Another matter troubles me,” said the woman, “that I do not know who has come to me.”

“You will not remain ignorant of that,” he said. “Elatha mac Delbaith, king of the Fomoire, has come to you. You will bear a son as a result of our meeting, and let no name be given to him but Eochu Bres (that is, Eochu the Beautiful), because every beautiful thing that is seen in Ireland—both plain and fortress, ale and candle, woman and man and horse—will be judged in relation to that boy, so that people will then say of it, ‘It is a Bres.’”…

But after Bres had assumed the sovereignty, three Fomorian kings (Indech mac Dé Domnann, Elatha mac Delbaith, and Tethra) imposed their tribute upon Ireland—and there was not a smoke from a house in Ireland which was not under their tribute. In addition, the warriors of Ireland were reduced to serving him: Ogma beneath a bundle of firewood and the Dagda as a rampart-builder, and he constructed the earthwork around Bres’s fort ….

Now Núadu was being treated, and Dían Cécht put a silver hand on him which had the movement of any other hand. But his son Miach did not like that. He went to the hand and said “joint to joint of it, and sinew to sinew”; and he healed it in nine days and nights. The first three days he carried it against his side, and it became covered with skin. The second three days he carried it against his chest. The third three days he would cast white wisps of black bulrushes after they had been blackened in a fire ….

At that time, Bres held the sovereignty as it had been granted to him. There was great murmuring against him among his maternal kinsmen the Túatha Dé, for their knives were not greased by him. However frequently they might come, their breaths did not smell of ale; and they did not see their poets nor their bards nor their satirists nor their harpers nor their pipers nor their horn-blowers nor their jugglers nor their fools entertaining them in the household. They did not go to contests of those pre-eminent in the arts, nor did they see their warriors proving their skill at arms before the king ….

Now after that the Túatha Dé went together to talk with their adopted son Bres mac Elathan, and they asked him for their sureties. He gave them restoration of the kingship, and they did not regard him as properly qualified to rule from that time on. He asked [them to wait] for seven years. “You will have that,” the same assembly agreed, “provided that the safeguarding of every payment that has been assigned to you—including house and land, gold and silver, cattle and food—is supported by the same securities, and that we have freedom of tribute and payment until then.”

“You will have what you ask,” Bres said.

This is why they were asked for the delay: that he might gather the warriors of the síd, the Fomoire, to take possession of the Túatha by force provided he might gain an overwhelming advantage. He was unwilling to be driven from his kingship.

Then he went to his mother and asked her where his family was. “I am certain about that,” she said, and went onto the hill from which she had seen the silver vessel in the sea. She then went onto the shore. His mother gave him the ring which had been left with her, and he put it around his middle finger, and it fitted him. She had not given it up for anyone, either by sale or gift. Until that day, there was none of them whom it would fit.

Then [Bres] went forward until they reached the land of the Fomoire. They came to a great plain with many assemblies upon it, and they reached the finest of these assemblies. Inside, people sought information from them. They answered that they were of the men of Ireland. Then they were asked whether they had dogs, for at that time it was the custom, when a group of men visited another assembly, to challenge them to a friendly contest. “We have dogs,” said Bres. Then the dogs raced, and those of the Túatha Dé were faster than those of the Fomoire. Then they were asked whether they had horses to race. “We have,” and they were faster than the horses of the Fomoire.

Then they were asked whether they had anyone who was good at sword-play, and no one was found among them except Bres. But when he lifted the hand with the sword, his father recognized the ring on his finger and asked who the warrior was. His mother answered on his behalf and told the king that Bres was his son. She related to him the whole story as we have recounted it.

His father was sad about him, and asked, “What force brought you out of the land you ruled?”

Bres answered, “Nothing brought me except my own injustice and arrogance. I deprived them of their valuables and possessions and their own food. Neither tribute nor payment was ever taken from them until now.”

“That is bad,” said his father. “Better their prosperity than their kingship. Better their requests than their curses. Why then have you come?” asked his father.

“I have come to ask you for warriors,” he said. “I intend to take that land [of the Dé Danann] by force.”

“You ought not to gain it by injustice if you do not gain it by justice,” he said.

“I have a question then: what advice do you have for me?” said Bres.

After that he sent him to the champion Balor, grandson of Net, the king of the Hebrides, and to Indech mac Dé Domnann, the king of the Fomoire; and these gathered all the forces from Lochlainn [Scandinavia] westwards to Ireland, to impose their tribute and their rule upon them by force, and they made a single bridge of ships from the Hebrides to Ireland.

No host ever came to Ireland which was more terrifying or dreadful than that host of the Fomoire. There was rivalry between the men from Scythia of Lochlainn and the men out of the Hebrides concerning that expedition.

As for the Túatha Dé, however, that is discussed here.

After Bres [departed], Núadu was once more in the kingship over the Túatha Dé; and at that time he held a great feast for the Túatha Dé in Tara. Now there was a certain warrior whose name was Samildánach on his way to Tara. At that time there were doorkeepers at Tara named Gamal mac Figail and Camall mac Ríagail. While the latter was on duty, he saw the strange company coming toward him. A handsome, well-built young warrior with a king’s diadem was at the front of the band.

They told the doorkeeper to announce their arrival in Tara. The doorkeeper asked, “Who is there?”

“Lug Lonnansclech is here, the son of Cían son of Dían Cécht and of Ethne daughter of Balor. He is the foster son of Tailtiu the daughter of Magmór, the king of Spain, and of Eochaid Garb mac Dúach.”

The doorkeeper then asked of Samildánach, “What art do you practice? For no one without an art enters Tara.”

“Question me,” he said, “I am a builder.”

The doorkeeper answered, “We do not need you. We have a builder already, Luchta mac Lúachada.”

He said, “Question me, doorkeeper: I am a smith.”

The doorkeeper answered him, “We have a smith already, Colum Cúaléinech of the three new techniques.”

He said, “Question me: I am a champion.”

The doorkeeper answered, “We do not need you. We have a champion already, Ogma mac Ethlend.”

He said again, “Question me.” “I am a harper,” he said.

Seating plan of the Banquet Hall of Tara, from The Book of Leinster.

“We do not need you. We have a harper already, Abcán mac Bicelmois, whom the men of the three gods chose in the síd-mounds.” He said, “Question me: I am a warrior.”

The doorkeeper answered, “We do not need you. We have a warrior already, Bresal Etarlam mac Echdach Báethláim.”

Then he said, “Question me, doorkeeper. I am a poet and a historian.”

“We do not need you. We already have a poet and historian, En mac Ethamain.”

He said, “Question me. I am a sorcerer.”

“We do not need you. We have sorcerers already. Our druids and our people of power are numerous.”

He said, “Question me. I am a physician.”

“We do not need you. We have Dían Cécht as a physician.”

“Question me,” he said. “I am a cupbearer.”

“We do not need you. We have cupbearers already: Delt and Drúcht and Daithe, Tae and Talom and Trog, Glé and Glan and Glésse.”

He said, “Question me: I am a good brazier.”

“We do not need you. We have a brazier already, Crédne Cerd.”

He said, “Ask the king whether he has one man who possesses all these arts: if he has I will not be able to enter Tara.”

Then the doorkeeper went into the royal hall and told everything to the king. “A warrior has come before the court,” he said, “named Samildanach; and all the arts which help your people, he practices them all, so that he is the man of each and every art.”

Then he said that they should bring him the fidchell [chess] boards of Tara, and he won all the stakes. (But if fidchell was invented at the time of the Trojan war, it had not reached Ireland yet, for the battle of Mag Tured and the destruction of Troy occurred at the same time.)

Then that was related to Núadu. “Let him into the court,” said Núadu, “for a man like that has never before come into this fortress.”

Then the doorkeeper let him past, and he went into the fortress, and he sat in the seat of the sage, because he was a sage in every art.

Then Ogma threw the flagstone, which required fourscore yoke of oxen to move it, through the side of the hall so that it lay outside against Tara. That was to challenge Lug, who tossed the stone back so that it lay in the centre of the royal hall; and he threw the piece which it had carried away back into the side of the royal hall so that it was whole again.

“Let a harp be played for us,” said the hosts. Then the warrior played sleep music for the hosts and for the king on the first night, putting them to sleep from that hour to the same time the next day. He played sorrowful music so that they were crying and lamenting. He played joyful music so that they were merry and rejoicing.

Then Núadu, when he had seen the warrior’s many powers, considered whether he could release them from the bondage they suffered at the hands of the Fomoire. So they held a council concerning the warrior, and the decision which Núadu reached was to exchange seats with the warrior. So Samildánach went to the king’s seat, and the king arose before him until thirteen days had passed.

The next day he and the two brothers, Dagda and Ogma, conversed together on Grellach Dollaid; and his two kinsmen Goibniu and Dían Cécht were summoned to them.

They spent a full year in that secret conference, so that Grellach Dollaid is called the Amrún of the Men of the Goddess.

Then the druids of Ireland were summoned to them, together with their physicians and their charioteers and their smiths and their wealthy landowners and their lawyers. They conversed together secretly.

Then he asked the sorcerer, whose name was Mathgen, what power he wielded. He answered that he would shake the mountains of Ireland beneath the Fomoire so that their summits would fall to the ground. And it would seem to them that the twelve chief mountains of the land of Ireland would be fighting on behalf of the Túatha Dé Danann: Slieve League, and Denda Ulad, and the Mourne Mountains, and Brí Erigi and Slieve Bloom and Slieve Snaght, Slemish and Blaíslíab and Nephin Mountain and Slíab Maccu Belgodon and the Curlieu hills and Croagh Patrick.

Then he asked the cupbearer what power he wielded. He answered that he would bring the twelve chief lochs or Ireland into the presence of the Fomoire and they would not find water in them, however thirsty they were. These are the lochs: Lough Derg, Lough Luimnig, Lough Corrib, Lough Ree, Lough Mask, Strangford Lough, Belfast Lough, Lough Neagh, Lough Foyle, Lough Gara, Loughrea, Márloch. They would proceed to the twelve chief rivers of Ireland—the Bush, the Boyne, the Bann, the Blackwater, the Lee, the Shannon, the Moy, the Sligo, the Erne, the Finn, the Liffey, the Suir—and they would all be hidden from the Fomoire so they would not find a drop in them. But drink will be provided for the men of Ireland even if they remain in battle for seven years.

Then Figol mac Mámois, their druid, said, “Three showers of fire will be rained upon the faces of the Fomorian host, and I will take out of them two-thirds of their courage and their skill at arms and their strength, and I will bind their urine in their own bodies and in the bodies of their horses. Every breath that the men of Ireland will exhale will increase their courage and skill at arms and strength. Even if they remain in battle for seven years, they will not be weary at all.

The Dagda said, “The power which you boast, I will wield it all myself.”

“You are the Dagda [‘the Good God’]!” said everyone; and “Dagda” stuck to him from that time on.

Then they disbanded the council to meet that day three years later ….

The men of Ireland came together the day before All Hallows. Their number was six times thirty hundred, that is, each third consisted of twice thirty hundred.

Then Lug sent the Dagda to spy on the Fomoire and to delay them until the men of Ireland came to the battle.

Then the Dagda went to the Fomorian camp and asked them for a truce of battle. This was granted to him as he asked. The Fomoire made porridge for him to mock him, because his love of porridge was great. They filled for him the king’s cauldron, which was five fists deep, and poured four score gallons of new milk and the same quantity of meal and fat into it. They put goats and sheep and swine into it, and boiled them all together with the porridge. Then they poured it into a hole in the ground, and Indech said to him that he would be killed unless he consumed it all; he should eat his fill so that he might not satirize the Fomoire.

Then the Dagda took his ladle, and it was big enough for a man and a woman to lie in the middle of it. These were the bits that were in it: halves of salted swine and a quarter of lard.

Then the Dagda said, “This is good food if its broth is equal to its taste.” But when he would put the full ladle into his mouth he said, “Its poor bits do not spoil it,’ says the wise old man.”

Then at the end he scraped his bent finger over the bottom of the hole among mould and gravel. He fell asleep then after eating his porridge. His belly was as big as a house cauldron, and the Fomoire laughed at it.

Then he went away from them to Tráigh Eabha. It was not easy for the warrior to move along on account of the size of his belly. His appearance was unsightly: he had a cape to the hollow of his elbows, and a gray-brown tunic around him as far as the swelling of his rump. He trailed behind him a wheeled fork which was the work of eight men to move, and its track was enough for the boundary ditch of a province. It is called “The Track of the Dagda’s Club” for that reason. His long penis was uncovered. He had on two shoes of horsehide with the hair outside ….

The Fomoire advanced until their tenths were in Scétne. The men of Ireland were in Mag Aurfolaig. At this point these two hosts were threatening battle.

“Do the men of Ireland undertake to give battle to us?” said Bres mac Elathan to Indech mac Dé Domnann.

“I will give the same,” said Indech, “so that their bones will be small if they do not pay their tribute.”

In order to protect him, the men of Ireland had agreed to keep Lug from the battle …. They feared an early death for the warrior because of the great number of his arts. For that reason they did not let him go to the battle.

Then the men of rank among the Túatha Dé were assembled around Lug. He asked his smith, Goibniu, what power he wielded for them.

“Not hard to say,” he said. “Even if the men of Ireland continue the battle for seven years, for every spear that separates from its shaft or sword that will break in battle, I will provide a new weapon in its place. No spearpoint which my hand forges will make a missing cast. No skin which it pierces will taste life afterward. Dolb, the Fomorian smith, cannot do that. I am now concerned with my preparation for the battle of Mag Tured.

“And you, Dían Cécht,” said Lug, “what power do you wield?”

“Not hard to say,” he said. “Any man who will be wounded there, unless his head is cut off, or the membrane of his brain or his spinal cord is severed, I will make him perfectly whole in the battle on the next day.”

“And you, Crédne,” Lug said to his brazier, “what is your power in the battle?”

“Not hard to answer,” said Crédne. “I will supply them all with rivets for their spears and hilts for their swords and bosses and rims for their shields.”

“And you, Luchta,” Lug said to his carpenter, “what power would you attain in the battle?”

“Not hard to answer,” said Luchta. “I will supply them all with whatever shields and spearshafts they need.

“And you, Ogma,” said Lug to his champion, “what is your power in the battle?”

“Not hard to say,” he said. “Being a match for the king and holding my own against twenty-seven of his friends, while winning a third of the battle for the men of Ireland.”

“And you, Morrígan,” said Lug, “what power?”

“Not hard to say,” she said. “I have stood fast; I shall pursue what was watched; I will be able to kill; I will be able to destroy those who might be subdued.”

“And you, sorcerers,” said Lug, “what power?”

“Not hard to say,” said the sorcerers. “Their white soles will be visible after they have been overthrown by our craft, so that they can easily be killed; and we will take two-thirds of their strength from them, and prevent them from urinating.”

“And you, cupbearers,” said Lug, “what power?”

“Not hard to say,” said the cupbearers. “We will bring a great thirst upon them, and they will not find drink to quench it.”

“And you, druids,” said Lug, “what power?”

“Not hard to say,” said the druids. “We will bring showers of fire upon the faces of the Fomoire so that they cannot look up, and the warriors contending with them can use their force to kill them.”

“And you, Coirpre mac Étaine,” said Lug to his poet, “what can you do in the battle?”

“Not hard to say,” said Coirpre. “I will satirize them and shame them so that through the spell of my art they will offer no resistance to warriors.”

“And you, Be Chuille and Díanann,” said Lug to his two witches, “what can you do in the battle?”

“Not hard to say,” they said. “We will enchant the trees and the stones and the sods of the earth so that they will be a host under arms against them; and they will scatter in flight terrified and trembling.”

“And you, Dagda,” said Lug, “what power can you wield against the Fomorian host in the battle?”

“Not hard to say,” said the Dagda. “I will fight for the men of Ireland with mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Their bones under my club will soon be as many as hailstones under the feet of herds of horses, where the double enemy meets on the battlefield of Mag Tured.”

Then in this way Lug addressed each of them in turn concerning their arts, strengthening them and addressing them in such a way that every man had the courage of a king or great lord ….

Now when the time came for the great battle, the Fomoire marched out of their encampment and formed themselves into strong indestructible battalions. There was not a chief nor a skilled warrior among them without armor against his skin, a helmet on his head, a broad … spear in his right hand, a heavy sharp sword on his belt, a strong shield on his shoulder. To attack the Fomorian host that day was “striking a head against a cliff,” was “a hand in a serpent’s nest,” was “a face brought close to fire.”

These were the kings and leaders who were encouraging the Fomorian host: Balor son of Dot son of Net, Bres mac Elathan, Tuire Tortbuillech mac Lobois, Goll and Irgoll, Loscennlomm mac Lommglúinigh, Indech mac Dé Domnann, king of the Fomoire, Ochtríallach mac Indich, Omna and Bagna, Elatha mac Delbaíth.

On the other side, the Túatha Dé Danann arose and left his nine companions guarding Lug, and went to join the battle. But when the battle ensued, Lug escaped from the guard set over him, as a chariot-fighter, and it was he who was in front of the battalion of the Túatha Dé. Then a keen and cruel battle was fought between the race of the Fomoire and the men of Ireland.

Lug was urging the men of Ireland to fight the battle fiercely so they should not be in bondage any longer, because it was better for them to find death while protecting their fatherland than to be in bondage and under tribute as they had been. Then Lug chanted the spell which follows, going around the men of Ireland on one foot and with one eye closed ….

The hosts gave a great shout as they went into battle. Then they came together, and each of them began to strike the other.

Many beautiful men fell there in the stall of death. Great was the slaughter and the grave-lying which took place there. Pride and shame were there side by side. There was anger and indignation. Abundant was the stream of blood over the white skin of young warriors mangled by the hands of bold men while rushing into danger for shame. Harsh was the noise made by the multitude of warriors and champions protecting their swords and shields and bodies while others were striking them with spears and swords. Harsh too the tumult all over the battlefield—the shouting of the warriors and the clashing of bright shields, the swish of swords and ivory-hilted blades, the clatter and rattling of the quivers, the hum and whirr of spears and javelins, the crashing strokes of weapons.

As they hacked at each other their fingertips and their feet almost met; and because of the slipperiness of the blood under the warriors’ feet, they kept falling down, and their heads were cut off them as they sat. A gory, wound-inflicting, sharp, bloody battle was upheaved, and spearshafts were reddened in the hands of foes.

Then Núadu Silverhand and Macha the daughter of Ernmas fell at the hands of Balor grandson of Net. Casmáel fell at the hands of Ochtríallach son of Indech. Lug and Balor of the piercing eye met in the battle. The latter had a destructive eye which was never opened except on a battlefield. Four men would raise the lid of the eye by a polished ring in its lid. The host which looked at that eye, even if they were many thousands in number, would offer no resistance to warriors. It had that poisonous power for this reason: once his father’s druids were brewing magic. He came and looked over the window, and the fumes of the concoction affected the eye and the venomous power of the brew settled in it. Then he and Lug met ….

“Lift up me eyelid, lad,” said Balor, “so I may see the talkative fellow who is conversing with me.”

The lid was raised from Balor’s eye. Then Lug cast a sling stone at him which carried the eye through his head, and it was his own host that looked at it. He fell on top of the Fomorian host so that twenty-seven of them died under his side; and the crown of his head struck against the breast of Indech mac Dé Domnann so that a gush of blood spouted over his lips ….

Then the Morrígan the daughter of Ernmas came, and she was strengthening the Túatha Dé to fight the battle resolutely and fiercely. She then chanted the following poem:

“Kings arise to the battle! …”

Immediately afterwards the battle broke, and the Fomoire were driven to the sea. The champion Ogma son of Elatha and Indech mac Dé Domnann fell together in single combat ….

“A question: what is the number of the slain?” Lug said to Loch.

“I do not know the number of peasants and rabble. As to the number of Fomorian lords and nobles and champions and over-kings, I do know: 3 + 3 × 20 + 50 × 100 men + 20 × 100 + 3 × 50 + 9 × 5 + 4 × 20 × 1000 + 8 + 8 × 20 + 7 + 4 × 20 + 6 + 4 × 20 + 5 + 8 × 20 + 2 + 40, including the grandson of Net with 90 men. That is the number of the slain of the Fomorian over-kings and high nobles who fell in the battle.

“But regarding the number of peasants and common people and rabble and people of every art who came in company with the great host—for every warrior and every high noble and every over-king of the Fomoire came to the battle with his personal followers, so that all fell there, both their free men and their unfree servants—I count only a few of the over-kings’ servants. This then is the number of those I counted as I watched: 7 + 7 × 20 × 20 × 100 × 100 + 90 including Sab Úanchennach son of Coirpre Colc, the son of a servant of Indech mac Dé Domnann (that is, the son of a servant of the Fomorian king).

“As for the men who fought in pairs and the spearmen, warriors who did not reach the heart of the battle who also fell there—until the stars of heaven can be counted, and the sands of the sea, and flakes of snow, and dew on a lawn, and hailstones, and grass beneath the feet of horses, and the horses of the son of Lir in a sea storm—they will not be counted at all.”

Immediately afterward they found an opportunity to kill Bres mac Elathan. He said, “It is better to spare me than to kill me.”

“What then will follow from that?” said Lug.

“The cows of Ireland will always be in milk,” said Bres, “if I am spared.”

“I will tell that to our wise men,” said Lug.

So Lug went to Máeltne Mórbrethach and said to him, “Shall Bres be spared for giving constant milk to the cows of Ireland?”

“He shall not be spared,” said Máeltne. “He has no power over their age or their calving, even if he controls their milk as long as they are alive.”

Lug said to Bres, “That does not save you; you have no power over their age or their calving, even if you control their milk.”

Bres said, “Máeltne has given bitter alarms!”

“Is there anything else which will save you, Bres?” said Lug.

“There is indeed. Tell your lawyer they will reap a harvest every quarter in return for sparing me.”

Lug said to Máeltne, “Shall Bres be spared for giving the men of Ireland a harvest of grain every quarter?”

“This has suited us,” said Máeltne. “Spring for plowing and sowing, and the beginning of summer for maturing the strength of the grain, and the beginning of autumn for the full ripeness of the grain, and for reaping it. Winter for consuming it.”

“That does not save you,” said Lug to Bres.

“Máeltne has given bitter alarms,” said he.

“Less rescues you,” said Lug.

“What?” asked Bres.

“How shall the men of Ireland plow? How shall they sow? How shall they reap? If you make known these things, you will be saved.”

“Say to them, on Tuesday their plowing; on Tuesday their sowing seed in the field; on Tuesday their reaping.”

So through that device Bres was released.

Now in that battle Ogma the champion found Orna, the sword of Tethra, king of the Fomoire. Ogma unsheathed the sword and cleaned it. Then the sword told what had been done by it, because it was the habit of swords at that time to recount the deeds that had been done by them whenever they were unsheathed. And for that reason swords are entitled to the tribute of cleaning after they have been unsheathed. Moreover spells have been kept in swords from that time on. Now the reason why demons used to speak from weapons then is that weapons used to be worshipped by men and were among the sureties of that time ….

Then Lug and the Dagda and Ogma went after the Fomoire, because they had taken the Dagda’s harper, Úaithne. Eventually they reached the banqueting hall where Bres mac Elathan and Elatha mac Delbaith were. There was the harp on the wall. That is the harp in which the Dagda had bound the melodies so that they did not make a sound until he summoned them, saying,

“Come Daur Dá Bláo,
Come Coir Cetharchair,
Come summer, come winter,
Mouths of harps and bags and pipes!”

(Now that harp had two names, Daur Dá Bláo and Cóir Cetharchair.)

Then the harp came away from the wall, and it killed nine men and came to the Dagda; and he played for them the three things by which a harper is known: sleep music, joyful music, and sorrowful music. He played sorrowful music for them so that their tearful women wept. He played joyful music for them so that their women and boys laughed. He played sleep music for them so that the hosts slept. So the three of them escaped from them unharmed—although they wanted to kill them.

The Dagda brought with him the cattle taken by the Fomoire through the lowing of the heifer which had been given him for his work; because when she called her calf, all the cattle of Ireland which the Fomoire had taken as their tribute began to graze.

Then after the battle was won and the slaughter had been cleaned away, the Morrígan, the daughter of Ernmas, proceeded to announce the battle and the great victory which had occurred there to the royal heights of Ireland and to its síd-hosts, to its chief waters and to its rivermouths. And that is the reason Badb still relates great deeds. “Have you any news?” everyone asked her then.

“Peace up to heaven.
Heaven down to earth.
Earth beneath heaven,
Strength in each,
A cup very full,
Full of honey;
Mead in abundance.
Summer in winter ….
Peace up to heaven …”

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