War

Nocha comhain cath fiora.

Nocha comhain cath fiora.

(not * preserve/protect * battle * men)

Battle does not spare men.

The saying ("senárusc") is quoted in “Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill” by Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh.

“Ní chaomhnaíonn cath fir” in Modern Irish.

Sonus lomma ...

Sonus lomma is lenna lir,
buáid comairle in cech caingin,
búaid comperta, clú co mbail,
búaid creiche adiu, buáid slúagaid.

(luck * of milk * and * of ale * plentiful
victory * of counsel * in * every * affair
victory * of conception * fame * with * prosperity
victory * of raid * from here * victory * of military expedition)

Luck of milk and of plentiful ale,
successful advice in every matter,
success in procreation, fame with prosperity,
success in raiding hence, and victory in war.

A blessing from St. Colmán in Betha Colmáin maic Lúacháin, edited by Kuno Meyer in Todd Lecture Series, No. 17.

Ba h-álgen curmthigi is ba dúr debtha.

Ba h-álgen curmthigi is ba dúr debtha.

((he) was * gentle * of ale-house * and * (he) was * hard * of * strife)

He was a gentle man in the ale house and a tough one in battle.

This description of the ideal prince, which has the feel of a cliché, is found in "Tochmarc Ferbae" (LL 33716-7).

Ní·fríth ní·fuigébthar brithem bas fíriu cathroí.

Ní·fríth ní·fuigébthar brithem bas fíriu cathroí.

(not was found * not will be found * judge * that might be * more true * (than) battle-field)

A truer judge than the battle field has never been found, and never will be.

This maxim is found in Fergus Kelly's edition of "Audacht Morainn" (p. 64) and in Rudolf Thurneysen's earlier edition in ZCP 11 (p. 83). It is also quoted by Lughaidh Ó Cléirgh in “Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill” as “Ni frith ni fuighbhither breithemh bus firiu cathraé.”

Isat craebsa nar craithead fa cnomheas.

Isat craebsa nar craithead fa cnomheas.

(you are * branch * that not * was shaken * for its * nut-mast)

You are a branch that has not been shaken for its nut crop.

When Congal says this to Maelduin in "Cath Muighe Rath" (FDG, p. 294), he means that Maelduin is an untested warrior, unhardened by battle.

Doilig dán láechdacht.

Doilig dán láechdacht:
ní suthain a mbí,
ifernnaig a mairb.

(grim * profession * warriorship *
not * long-lived * their * living ones *
hell-damned * their * dead ones)

Warriors have a hard profession:
their life is short and then they go to hell.

The ecclesiastical and scholarly view of the profession of war, edited by Kuno Meyer at ZCP vi.261. For another instance of "short life and hell after", see "Goirde shaogail duit abhus 7 ifrenn thall" in this collection.

Deog a topur éca itib...

Deog a topur éca itib
i cath Detna la Lagnib.

(draught * from * well * of death * he drank /
in * battle * of Detna * with * Leinstermen)

He took a drink from the well of death
in the Battle of Detna against Leinster.

This half-stanza is from the poem "Mide magen clainne Cuind" by Flann Mainistreach. It is found in the Metrical Dindshenchas in LL (23881-2).

Ní gnáth orgain cen scéola.

Ní gnáth orgain cen scéola.

(not * usual * massacre * without * survivor)

However harsh the battle, someone usually survives to tell the tale.

In "Scél Tuain meic Cairill" in LU, Tuan says "ar ní gnáth orgain cen scéola do ernam esi do innisin scél dara n-esi; is mesi dano in fer sin" (for it is not usual for there to be battle-slaughter without a survivor to escape to tell the tale afterwards, and I am indeed that man). The word "scéola", which can be translated as "news-bearer" or "survivor", is derived from "scél" (tale, news). The ninth entry for the year 1582 in the Annals of the Four Masters says "gé nách gnáth ár gan élóidhtheach" (although a battle without a fugitive is not usual). Modern formulations given in "A Miscellany" are "Níl cath dá mhéid nach dtigeann duine as," and "Is cruaidh an cath ó nach dtig fear innsidh an sgéil."

Na sluaig na saiget segair.

Na sluaig na saiget segair.

(the * armies * that not * attack * is/are attacked)

Armies that don't attack are attacked.

In other words, "offense is the best defense". This proverbial advice appears as a line of verse in "Bóroma", in "Silva Gadelica" (381.17). For other versions, see DIL S 21.69-72.

Immgaib ág ocus not·imgéba.

Immgaib ág ocus not·imgéba.

(avoid * battle * and * it will avoid you)

Avoid a fight and it will avoid you.

Given in "Passions and Homilies" as the Irish equivalent of "Devitabis periculum et devitabit te." An almost identical version of the maxim is used as the first line of a poem in FDG (p. 172): "Imgaib ágh 's rod imgéba." Compare both "Is cian ó ghuasacht cech faitech" and "Ná hinguib, ná hindsaig ág" in this collection.

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