In Dindshenchas: A Magical Mystery Tour, we linked the characters and themes in this poem with two characters from Cath Maige Tuired, “The Battle of Moytura“. We explored connections between Rúad in this poem and Rúadán in Cath Maige Tuired, and his father, Rígdonn, with Rúadán’s father Bres. We have discussed Rúadán’s story in Series 1, Episode 5, “The Search for Brigid” and in Series 2, Episode 5, “The Four Craftsmen“.
poem 4, pp 26 – 35
A fhiru Muirid, miad n-gle,
O men of Muired, high in honour
do nach tuirim tailmire,
Among any headstrong company!
ráidfet frib im threbthus te
I shall tell you, in my warm dwelling,
senchus n-áith-glec n-Ailbine.
The cunning story of Ailbine.
Bái riam fri rót-bla rorá
There was once a famous prince who rowed
uas Fótla cen fhodála:
North of undivided Ireland:
ba lúam cech líg-druing fria lá
He was the pilot of a splendid crew,
Rúad mac Rígduind rodána.
Rúad [“Russet”] son of valiant Rígdonn [“Earth-brown King”].
[Note: The phrase Fótla cen fhodála, “undivided Ireland”, is interesting, as we pointed out in the episode. The name used here for the island, Fótla, is a poetic name, usually associated with Banba and Éirú. Only Éirú has historically been used. The derivation of Fótla may well be from fo-dála, “divided”, which is the term used in this line with cen to give us “undivided”. It is very unusual to find a concept of the island of Ireland as a whole “country”.]
Riacht réim raith-roga cen raind,
He undertook a careful, well-planned voyage
dar muing maith mora moch-maill,
Crossing the morn-slumbering sea
d’acallaim a charat Gaill:
To visit with his foreign friends,
ba réim rabalc co Lochlaind.
A fine, brave journey it was to Norway.
Luid tri nóithib, noithech glé,
He travelled with three splendid boats,
ba soithech co sír-gairge:
They were impressive vessels;
sochtsat, duba domna de,
Until they were unnervingly stopped short
for formna na fír-fairge.
On the shoulders of the open sea.
Femidset lúd as nach leth,
They found themselves unable to move in any direction,
robo dúr in dron-fhuirech;
Held in a strong grip:
isin muir múad már cen meth
Into the huge waves, without hesitation
doluid Rúad rán roguinech.
Dived intrepid Rúad
O moslúi dia tairdbe tra
When he went to cut the ship loose
fairge dar sál sruth-sóeba,
From the treacherous salt depths,
fuair in sain-delgna rosná,
He found, in a secret spot,
nói m-bain-delba biuth-chóema.
Nine female forms, fair and firm.
Ráidset ris tre gle-alt n-glan
They told him in clear voices
ba h-ed fodroirgetar…
It was they who had stopped [the ship]…
[Four lines are missing from the text]
a nónbur ban búadach bil
…their nine women were worthy winners,
bá crúadach a n-indsaigid.
It was hard to get the better of them.
Fois nói n-oidche lasna mna
He slept nine nights with the women
cen doirche cen dér-guba,
Without raising a single objection –
fon fairge cen tonna tra
Under the sea, free from waves –
for nói longa créduma.
On nine beds of bronze.
Ciarbo h-alacht ben díb de
Though a woman of them was with child by him,
(robo malart mithise)
He left them on no unlucky course;
luid uadib cen chísal clé
But they let him go
co tísad afrithise.
On condition that he should come back again.
O rafáid co muintir múaid
When she had let him go to his fine friends
ráid fri tuintib a throm-shlúaig:
he rowed with all of his company,
ba soalt sochlaind ní súail
(this fosterling from a good family)
co toracht Lochlaind lonn-gluair.
to the brave land of Norway.
O rancadar dar sál sair
Once they reached the land across the sea
co n-ád is co n-oll-bladaib,
by their luck, and with high renown,
anait secht m-bliadna ar blaid
They stayed, seeking fame, for seven years
ic a charait comramaig.
With his triumphant friend.
Cechaing iarom Rúad na renn
After that, Rúad of the Spears
tar srothaib, fial-mod fég-sheng,
left across the sea, that keen and slender youth,
anair dar muir tríath-glan tend,
West, over the powerful billows of the sea,
co toracht íath-mag n-Érend.
Until he reached the plains of Ireland.
Eismech robói in rí co recht,
But royal Rúad played false
nírbo deis-breth ná daig-bert;
And showed poor judgement
cen dul co mná tar sruth slecht
Deciding not to return to the women across the level waters,
in cruth cétna rothairngert.
As he had promised he would.
Tan rogab triath-tuirid tess
When the proud chieftain landed southward
i n-iath Muirid na mag-les,
On the lowland holdings of the plain of Muired,
co crúad-chalad, clú cen ches,
That strong land of unclouded reputation for strength,
rochúaladar in arm-gres.
His men heard wild war music behind him.
Amrán sin na m-ban-ón binn,
It was the music of the women
tria glan-rád n-glan-óg n-guth-binn,
Their voices carrying in song
ic tetarracht Rúaid co rinn
as they pursued Rúad at spear-point
tar srúaim setal-balc sruth-glinn.
Over the rushing waves of the streaming tide.
Seólsat curchán créd nad clé,
They sailed in a boat of flawless bronze,
nír dub-chlár dér drongdige,
This was no dull hulk of a vessel.
a nónbur garg grinn-gel glé
All nine of them were there – fierce, radiantly bright,
i n-Inber n-ard n-Ollbine.
As they came to high Inber Ailbine.
Olc-gním rogene andsin
Then, a terrible thing happened:
ben díb cen ere n-essil,
One of the women – did she know what she was doing?
marbad maic Rúaid co m-blait bil
Was she aware that she risked the son of Rúad himself,
ocus a maic fodessin.
And her own son? –
Erchor don mac mó cach cair
She threw her son like a spear – a shocking act!
(ba treb-chol dó for talmain)
Rúad would remember it as a blot on his house forever;
rolá amach tria cacad cain
Yes, she hurled the child like a weapon
conidn-apad cen anmain.
And the boy was killed.
And as-bert slúag son-ard-se
Then Rúad’s people all together
rothecht Rúad rogarg rige
Cried out in one voice
uili cen chond im glonn n-glé
So horrified were they at this act;
“Ba h-oll, ba h-oll in bine!”
“Great, great was the harm!”
Desin atá, tairm cen tnú,
And from this famous story
a h-ainm, ní do dailb didu,
Undoubtedly comes the name
na h-aba, nad celam clú,
Of our familiar river –
feib adberam a fhiru. A F.
This is the story I tell to you.
[The “A.F.” at the end of this stanza is a dúnad, “closing”, referring to the opening words, “A fhiru”. This is a common way of marking the end of a poem within a manuscript. However, there are four more stanzas attached as a kind of coda, which deal with the naming of Mag Muired. You can read Gwynn’s translation of them here.]