Story Archaeology

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Cath Maige Tuired – Sections 1 – 14

Edition: Elizabeth Gray

Translation: Elizabeth Gray [Isolde Carmody]

This text and its published translation are made available by kind permission of CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts, at University Colege Cork:

We will not always put the full text here on our blog, and we recommend that you read Gray’s edition, or better still, purchase the Irish Texts Society’s full edition with indexes and notes here.

Alternate translations by Isolde Carmody are in square brackets.  For a full discussion on understanding the names in these opening sections, see the related article “Four Cities, Four Masters, Four Treasures”.

Line and section numbers are from E. Gray’s edition.


1] Bátar Túathai Dé Danonn i n- indsib túascertachaib an domuin,

2] aig foglaim fesa & fithnasachta & druídechtai & amaidechtai &

3] amainsechta, combtar fortilde for súthib cerd ngenntlichtae.

1. The Túatha Dé Danann were in the northern islands of the world, studying occult lore [wisdom] and sorcery [charms?], druidic arts and witchcraft [women’s magic] and magical skill [subtle arts], until they surpassed the sages of the pagan [lit. gentile] arts.

4] Ceitri catrachai i rrabatar og fochlaim fhesai & éolais &

5] díabuldánachtai .i. Falias & Goirias, Murias & Findias.

2. They studied occult lore [wisdom] and secret knowledge [knowledge] and diabolic arts [perh. originally just “crafts”] in four cities: Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Findias.

6] A Falias tucad an Lía Fáil buí a Temraig. Nogésed fo cech ríg

7] nogébad Érinn.

3. From Falias was brought the Stone of Fál which was located in Tara. It used to cry out beneath every king that would take Ireland.

8] A Gorias tucad ant sleg boí ac Lug. Ní gebtea cath fria nó frisintí

9] an bídh i lláimh.

4. From Gorias was brought the spear which Lug had. No battle was ever sustained [won] against it, or against the man [one] who held it in his hand.

10] A Findias tucad claidiub Núadot. Ní térnádh nech dei ó dobirthe

11] asa idntiuch boduha, & ní gebtai fris.

5. From Findias was brought the sword of Núadu. No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its deadly sheath [battle-sheath], and no one could resist it [win against it].

12] A Murias tucad coiri an Dagdai. Ní tégedh dám dimdach úadh.

6. From Murias was brought the Dagda’s cauldron. No company [guests] ever went away from it unsatisfied [displeased].

13] Cetri druíd isna cetri cathrachaib-sin. Mórfesae baí a Falias;

14] Esras boí hi nGorias; Uiscias boí a Findias; Semias baí a Murias. It

15] íad-sin na cetri filid ocar’ foglaindsit Túata Dé fios & éolas.

7. There were four wizards [druids] in those four cities. Morfesa was in Falias; Esras was in Gorias; Uiscias was in Findias; Semias was in Murias. Those are the four poets from whom the Túatha Dé learned occult lore [wisdom] and secret knowledge [knowledge].

16] Gnísit íarum Túadh Dé caratrad fri Fomorib & debert Balar úa

17] Néit a ingin .i. Ethne, de Cén mac Díen Cécht. Gonad í-side ruc a

18] ngen mbúadha .i. Lucc.

8. The Túatha Dé  then made an alliance [treaty] with the Fomoire, and Balor the grandson of Nét gave his daughter Ethne to Cían the son of Dían Cécht. And she bore the glorious [victorious] child, Lug.

19] Tángatar Túad Dé i morloinges mór d’indsaigid Érionn dia gabáil

20] ar écin for Feraib Bolc. Roloiscset a mbaraca fo cétóir íar

21] torrachtain críce Corcu Belgatan (.i. Conmaicne mara andíu éat-sen),

22] cona pedh a n-aire for teiched cucu. Gu rrolíon an déi & an céu tánic

23] denaib loggaib an ferodn & an áer robo comfocus dóib. Conid as sin

24] rogabad a tíchtain a nélaip cíach.

9. The Túatha Dé came with a great fleet to Ireland to take it by force [from necessity] 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.

25] Fectha cath Muighe Tuired etorra & Fir Bolc. Ocus maite for

26] Feraib Bolc, & marbtair cét míle díib am Eochdaig mac n-Eirc

27] immon rígh.

10. The battle of Mag Tuired 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.

28] Isen cath-sin dano robenad a lámh de Núadad .i. Sregg mac

29] Sengaidn rophen dei hí. Go tarad Díen Cécht an liaigh láim airgid

30] foair co lúth cecai láma & Crédhne in cerd ag cungnam fris.

11. 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.

31] Cid Túath Déi Dononn dano derocratar go már isin cath, im

32] Edleo mac n-Allai & am Ernmas, am Fhíoachaig & im Turild Bicreo.

12. Now the Túatha Dé Danann lost many men [people] in the battle, including Edleo mac Allai, and Ernmas, and Fíacha, and Tuirill Bicreo.

33] Do neoch immorro térná de Feraib Bolc asin cath, lotar ar

34] teched de saigid na Fomore gor gabsad a n-Árainn & a nd-Íle & a

35] Manaidn & a Rachraind.

13. 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.

36] Baí imcosnam flathae fher n-Érenn iter Túad Dé & a mná, ar

37] nirb’ inríghae Núadoo íar mbéim a láime de. Adpertutar ba cumdigh

38] dóip ríge do Pres mac Elathan, díe ngormac fesin, & co

39] {folio 63b} snaidhmfed caratrad Fomure fria an ríge de tabairt dó-sin, ar ba rí

40] Fomore a athair, ed ón Elotha mac Delbáeth.

14. There was contention regarding the sovereignty of the men of Ireland between the Túatha Dé  and their wives [women], 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 son of Elatha, to their own adopted [dutiful] son, and that giving him the kingship would knit the Fomorians’ alliance [treaty] with them, since his father Elatha mac Delbáith was king of the Fomoire.


The first 7 sections, describing the “northern islands of the world”, with their four cities, teachers and treasures, is taken almost verbatim from the Lebor Gabála Éirenn.  This text represents a somewhat later tradition, and this is reflected in the Middle Irish language of these sections.

Section 8, describing the treaty between the Túatha Dé and the Fooire, has the oldest language in this opening episode.

Section 9, with the curious authorial gloss on the mistaken belief that the Túatha Dé arrived in clouds of mist, is in Late Middle Irish.  This kind of “corrective” gloss becomes a feature of Middle and Early Modern Irish texts, where the teller of the story wishes to make clear that he doesn’t believe the more magical elements of the tale he is telling.  It is worth noting that despite this, the author nevertheless tells the full, more “fanciful” version of his tale.


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