Story Archaeology

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The Dindshenchas of Inber Ailbine: Gormanston, Co. Dublin

Seascape with the 1st - 2nd century BCE gold boat from the Broighter hoard

Seascape with the 1st – 2nd century BCE gold boat from the Broighter hoard

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“.

Inber n-Ailbine

Metrical Dindshenchas, Volume 2

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.]

1 Comment

  1. These nine women are essentially the same as the Norse daughters of Ran and the mothers of Heimdall. See McHardy S A The Quest for the Nine Maidens 2003 Chapter 6

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