Story Archaeology

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The Ulster Women’s War of Words 1: Fedelm

In “Fled Bricrenn 1: The Feasting Hall“, we discussed the so-called Ulster Women’s War of Words.  This is where the partners of the three contending heroes take turns to boast of their own greatness as well as that of their men-folk.

Here is the first of these poetic weapons, here weilded by Fedelm Nóicride, partner to Lóegaire Búadach.

The text is taken from the Codex Vossianius version of Fled Bricrenn. You can read George Henderson’s translation (based on the Lebor na hUidre version) here. It is marked as Section 22 in both versions.

You can listen to Isolde reading the Old Irish and her translation here:

§22 Isbert Fedilm Nocridi, ben Laegairi Buadaigh:

Fedelm of the Noble Heart [Henderson renders this “Fresh Heart”, which seems an awkward epithet], the wife of Lóegaire the Triumphant, said:


“Roscad” – marks a passage of non-syllabic alliterative poetry

Codumbert-sa bru soer sruith

I was born of a womb of noble descent

dim cloinn comcineoil

offspring from my great people

cin-siu do curp rigna sceo rig

I am born from the body of a queen with a king

richt forcaine costud

manifestation of arrangement of graciousness

conid cruth buidech bertar uaim

so that I am called “satisfying shape”

noithim crut cain.

I am celebrated for fair form.

Consert la febha feniu

Strewn with the qualities of the People [Féni]

fogart gen-siu genuss

Generously, I was conceived in purity

luchdonn laimdercc Loecairi

The captaincy [?] of Loegaire’s red hand

lin bemand mbalc mbuada

full of striking glorious victories

berus ar iath n-Ulad

it gives to the land of the Ulaid

arslig cricha comnamat.

On the way [to?] the territories of mutual enemies.

Imusdich immusdecrathar imgoin airri

From him, defence and protection from wounding

airdercai laechaib Laegairi

famous warriors of Loegaire

lin a bhuadhai bias os cech laech.

The compliment of his victories is greater than every hero.

Cid na budsi in Feidilmmsi Findcoemh

Why should not Fedelm Fair-Lovely

crutbuaduch buageltach

gifted of form, a guardian,

cichsed ria cech mnai

step before every woman

hi tech medrach Midcuarta?

Into the intoxicating Mead-circling hall?

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