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The Forge and the Well

from Cath Maige Tuired, Sections 122-3, Lines 526 – 543

Edition: Elizabeth Gray

Translation: Isolde Carmody

To accompany our discussion of the Four Craftsmen, here are the sections of the text describing the beautifully choreographed work in the forge.  I’ve also included the following section describing the family of physicians working around the well of Sláine.

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

Short notes appear in square brackets within the text.

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


526] Ba ingnad trá liasna Fomore alaill tárfas dóib isin cath.

It was wondrous then to the Fomoire, something which became apparent to them in the battle.

Botar cloíte a n-airm-sie .i. a ngaoí & a cloidme; ocus an romarbad dia feruib-sium ní ticdis íernabháruch.

Their weapons were blunted, i.e. their spears and their swords,; and those of their men who were killed did not come back the next day.

Níba edh immorro de Túathaib Déa: ar cía noclodis a n-airm-sium andíu, atgainidis amuhárach fo bíth roboí Goibnenn goba isin cerdchai ag dénam calc & gaí & sleg.

That was not so however with the Tuatha De Danann: even though their weapons were blunted today, they were restored the next day, because Goibniu the smith was in the workshop making rapiers and spear-heads and lances.

[NOTE: Pleasingly, the phrase fo bíth…Goibnenn, translated as “because Goibniu” has the literal meaning “under the stroke of Goibniu”.  fo bíth is a usual term for “because of; on account of”, but it has a nice double meaning here.]

Ar dogníth-side na harma-sin fria téorai grésai.

Thus he would make those weapons with three techniques.

[NOTE: The word, grésai, which Gray translates here as “strokes” is translated by her in Section 58 / line 250 as “techniques”: see Lug Comes to Tara]

Dogníth dano Luchtaine sóer na crondo fri téora snasau, & ba féith an tres snas & ata-indsmad hi cró an gaí.

Then Luchta the carpenter would make the spearshafts in three carvings, and the third carving was a polish and would insert them in the socket of the spear.

[NOTE: snas, “carving, chipping”, came to mean “finish, polish”.  If you hear someone describe something as “snazzy”, this is the word they are using.]

Ó robídis arm de isin leth ina cerdchai dobidcet-som na cróu cusna crandoib, & níbo hécin aitherrach indsma dóib.

Once the weapons were in the side of the workshop he would shoot the sockets with the shafts, and it was not necessary to repeat their setting.

Dugníth dano Crédne cerd na semonn fri téorai gréssai, & dobidged cró na ngáu díb, & níbo écen tairbir remib; & noglentais samlaid.

Then Crédne the brazier would make the rivets with three techniques, and he would shoot the sockets of the spears at them, and it was not necessary to drill holes for them [? to pierce them?]; and they stuck like this.

538] Is edh dano doberiud bruth isna hógaib nogontais ann, comtar ániu íarnauhárach: fo bíth roboí Díen Cécht & a dí mac & a ingen .i. Ochttríuil & Airmedh & Míach oc dícetul foran tibrait .i. Sláine a hainm.

123. Now this is what would put a glow into the warriors who were wounded there so that they were more splendid the next day: because Dían Cécht, and his two sons and his daughter i.e. Octriuil, Airmed and Míach, were chanting over the well named Sláine.

[Ochttríuil is a bit tricky to analyse. Here are two possibilities:

< ocht tríall, eight journeys / attempts / guidings

< ocht trúaill, eight coverings {bandages?} / sheaths / scabbards

For discussions on the names of the other three physicians, see The Story of Airmed from Cath Maige Tuired.]

Focertdidis a n-athgoíte indte immairlestis; botar bí notégdis esde.

They would place their severely-wounded [warriors] into it as they jumped in [Gray: “as they were struck down”]; they were alive when they came out.

Batir slán a n-athgoíte tre nert an dícetail na cethri lege robátar imon tibrait.

Their severely-wounded were healed through the strength of the incantation made by the four physicians who were around the well.

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