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Irish - Táin Bó Cúailnge

The Cattle Raid of Cúailnge: How Cú Chulainn got his name

Ó ráncatar uli íarom dond fhleid, asbert Cauland fri Conchobar:

In frithálid nech infar ndiaid?’ ol .

Náthó,’ ol Conchobar. Nírbo chuman laiss dál a daltai inna díaid.

Atá árchú lem-sa,’ ol Culand. ‘Tri slabrada fair ocus triar cacha slabraide. Léicther de dáig ar n-indili ocus ar cethra, ocus dúntar in les.’

Tic in gilla fo shodain. Fónópair in . Nos fethed-som a cluche colléic. Focherded a líathróit ocus focherded a loirg ina díaid co mbenad in líathróit. Níbo móo in band oldás a chéle. Ocus focheird a bunsaig inna ndíaid conda gebed re totim. Ocus níro thairmesc a chluchi immi ce ro boí in ocá ascnam. Torbais Conchobar ocus a muintir aní sin connárbo étir leó a nglúasacht. Indar leó faircbitís i mbethaid ara cind cid ersloicthe in less. In tan didiu dolluid in chucai-seom, focheird-seom úad a líathróit ocus a loirg, ocus frisindle in coin cona díb lámaib .i. dobeir indara láim fri ubull brágat in chon; dobeir araile fria chúl. Bentai frisin corthe inna fharrad co sescaind cach ball de a lethe. Mar iar n-arailiu immorro is a líathróit ro -som inna beólu co rruc a inathar thrít.

Comérgit Ulaid ara ammus, araill díb for less, araill for dorus liss. Damberat i n-ucht Conchobair. Fochertar armgrith mór leó .i. mac sethar ind ríg do fholmaissiu a báis. Dothéit Culand issa tech la sodain.

‘Fo chen duit, a maccáin, fo déig cridi do máthar. Messe immorro, mád airgénus fleid. Is bethu immudu ocus is trebad immaig mo threbad i ndegaid mo chon. Conággaib ainech ocus anmain dam-sa,’ ol , ‘in fer muintire ruccad úaim .i. mo chú. Robo dín ocus dítiu díar feib ocus ar n-indili. Ropo imdegail cacha slabra dún eter mag ocus tech.’

mór bríg sin trá,’ ol in gilla. ‘Ebéltair culén din chúani chétna lem-sa duit, ocus bíam -sa do imdegail do chethra ocus dot imdegail féin colléic cor ása in hísin ocus corop ingníma. Ocus imdíus-sa Mag Murthemne uile. Nocho mbérthar úaim-se éit halma ass manip aurderg lim-sa.’

Bid Chulaind tainm-siu íarom,’ or Cathbad.

Maith lem cid ed mo ainm,’ ol Chulaind.

Text from: Cecile O’Rahilly, Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension I (Dublin, 1976), lines 567-604, pp. 18-19

When they had all come to the feast, Culann asked Conchobar:

‘Do you expect anyone to follow you?’

‘No,’ said Conchobar. He did not remember the arrangement with his fosterling to come after him.

‘I have a blood hound,’ said Culann. ‘There are three chains on him and three men holding each chain. Let him be loosed to guard our cattle and our stock and let the fort be shut.’

At that point the boy arrived. The dog made for him. He still kept on with the play; he would throw his ball and then throw his hurley after it so that it struck the ball, neither stroke being greater than the other. And he threw his toy spear after them and caught it before it fell. And though the dog was approaching him, it interfered not with his play. Conchobar and his household were so dismayed by this that they could not move. They thought they would not reach him alive though the fort was open. Now when the hound came towards the boy, he cast aside his ball and his hurley, and he tackled the dog with both hands, that is, he put one hand on the apple of the hound’s throat and the other at the back of his head, and dashed him against the pillar-stone that was beside him so that all the hound’s limbs sprang apart. According to another version, however, he threw his ball into the hound’s mouth and it drove his entrails out through him.

The Ulstermen rose up to fetch the boy, some leaping over the wall of the court, others going out by the gate. They placed him in Conchobar’s arms. A great alarm was raised by them at the thought that the son of the king’s sister had almost been killed. At that point Culann entered the house.

‘Welcome, little lad, for your mother’s sake. But as for myself, would that I had not prepared a feast! My livelihood is now a livelihood wasted, my husbandry a husbandry lost without my hound. The servant who has been taken from me, that is, my hound, maintained life and honour for me. He was defence and protection for my goods and my cattle. He guarded all my beasts for me in field and in house.’

‘That is no great matter,’ said the boy. ‘A whelp of the same litter will be reared by me for you, and until such time as that hound grows and is fit for action, I myself shall be a hound to protect your cattle and to protect yourself. And I shall protect all Mag Murthemne; neither flock nor herd shall be taken thence from me without my knowing it.’

‘Your name shall be Cú Chulainn [the hound of Culann] then,’ said Cathbad.

‘I am glad that it should be my name,’ said Cú Chulainn.

Translation from: Cecile O’Rahilly, Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension I (Dublin, 1976), p. 141