The Characters Speak

Fiss 7 Fochmarc 7 Eolus a trí ndruid.

Fiss 7 Fochmarc 7 Eolus a trí ndruid.
Dub 7 Dorcha 7 Teimel a trí ndeogbaire.
Saith 7 Leór 7 Línad a trí rannaire.

(information * and * questioning * and * knowledge * their * three * druids
blackness * and * darkness * and * deep shadow * their * three * cupbearers
sufficiency * and * plenty * and * filling * their * three * carvers)

Facts and Questioning and Knowledge were their three druids.
Blackness and Darkness and Obscurity were their three cupbearers.
Fullness and Plenty and Filling were their three meatcarvers.

The Book of Leinster (lines 3902 - 3915; page 30d) contains a paragraph setting forth the triplistic description of the appearance, clothing, weaponry and retinue of Brian, Iuchar, and Iucharba, the "Trí Dee Donand" (Three Gods of Danu). The names of the three cupbears would seem to indicate that utter insensibility was the expected outcome of a good drinking bout.

Is garit mo lorg latt.

Is garit mo lorg latt.

(is * short * my * club * with you)

My club is short in your opinion.

Fergus is furious at Cú Chulainn for having just killed Etarcomal, a persistent challenger who goaded Cú past his limit, even though Fergus had asked Cú not to harm the arrogant young man. Thomas Kinsella translated this line as "You must think my cudgel is very short." The sense of this proverbial expression is "You must think that you're beyond my authority and can do as you please. We'll just see about that!"

Fírinde inár croidhedhaibh...

Fírinde inár croidhedhaibh & nertt inár lámhaibh, & comall inár tengthaibh.

(truth * in our * hearts * & * strength * in our * hands / arms * & * fulfilment-of-promise * in our * tongues)

The truth in our hearts, the strength in our arms, and the truth in our tongues.

In the beginning pages of "Acallam na Senórach" Saint Patrick asks Caílte what kept Fionn Mac Cumhaill's warrior band going all those years. ("Cia ro choimét sibh-si mar sin in bar m-beathaidh?") The above is Caílte's reply. A well-know adaptation of this into Modern Irish is "Glaine ár gcroí, agus neart ár ngéag, agus beart de réir ár mbriathair".

Cid mesc lib coirm Inse Fáil...

Cid mesc lib coirm Inse Fáil
is mescu coirm Tíre Máir.

(although * intoxicating * with you * beer * of island * of Fál /
is * more intoxicating * beer * of land * great)

Although the beer of Ireland seems intoxicating to you,
the beer of the Great Land is more intoxicating still.

This half stanza is found in the poem "A Bé Find in raga lim", which Midir recites to Étaín in "Tochmarc Étaíne" (LU 10846-7) describing the wonders of the Otherworld, here called the "Great Land".

Tiur-sa bréthir...

Tiur-sa bréthir ná scuriub-sa co brunni brátha 7 betha coro scuirea Amargin.

(I give * word * that not * I will desist * until * brink * of judgment * & * of life * until * may desist * Amargin)

I swear I'll never stop until Amargin stops.

So says Cú Ruí to Medb in the LL Táin, while he and Amargin are still engaged in assaulting one another with boulders. Cú Chulainn also uses this formula, "tiur-sa bréthir" (I give [my] word), elsewhere in the text. The other formulaic expression in this quotation, "co bruinni brátha ocus betha" (to the brink of [the last] judgment and of life), is likewise found elsewhere in the heroic literature. Fallamain, for example, uses it in the LU Táin when he promises not to return to Emain without Ailill's head. The expression "go broinne an bhrátha" is still used in Modern Irish.

Dar ar mbréthir...

Dar ar mbréthir trá isatt áilsiu damsa 7 bidat áil hi céin bat béo.

(upon * our * word * indeed * you are * desire * with me * & * you will be * desire * in * length * you may be * alive)

I give my word that you are my desire and you will be as long as you live.

Spoken by Cú Chulainn to Emer when she invites him back after he has strayed with Fand ("Serglige Con Culainn" 724-5).

Adeochosa inna husci do chongnam frim.

Adeochosa inna husci do chongnam frim.

(I invoke * the * waters * for * helping * to me)

I call upon the waters to help me.

In the LU Táin (5512-14) Cú Chulainn appeals to the cosmos, particularized in triple form as earth, sea, and sky (see also "Mani má in talam fue" in this collection), to come to his aid in battle. The full quotation is:

"Adeochosa," or Cú Chulaind, "inna husci do chongnam frim. Ateoch nem 7 talmuin 7 Cruinn in tsainrethaig."

"I call on, said Cú Chulainn, "the waters do help me. I call on the sky and the earth and the (River) Cronn in particular."

Conflating the two sentences and normalizing the spelling gives: "Ad·teoch inna h-uisciu ocus nem ocus talmain do chongnam frimm." For more on the threefold image of the cosmos, see the discussion of "Mani má in talam fue" in this collection.

co ná rabar dá adaig i n-áeninad

co ná rabar dá adaig i n-áeninad
(so that * not * I might be * two * nights * in * one place)

lest I be two nights in the same place = so that I never stop traveling

In a short anecdote edited by Kuno Meyer as "Mochuta und der Teufel" in ZCP 3.32-3, St. Mochuta says "Ragad isin luing fil oc himtecht a Herinn, co na rabar da hadaig a n-aeninad ac oilithre ar fud in domain moir." (I will get on the ship that is leaving Ireland, so that I'll never be two nights in the same place pilgrimaging throughout the wide world.) It turns out that his shoes have been infested by a demon of travel, whom St. Comgall exorcises. Once evicted from the shoes, the demon admits "ni leicfinn-si do beth da oidche a n-aeninad." (I would not have allowed him to be two nights in one place.) So Mochuta stays put after all. The image of never staying two nights in one place is a common one in Irish literature. A more recent stanza, edited by J. G. O'Keefe in "A Miscellany Presented to Kuno Meyer" (p. 248), begins

Ná hiarr anos 's anuraidh
dá oidhche é ar aontulaigh

Don't seek him now or last year
two nights on the same hilltop

Is mítharba lend cach maín 7 cach maith it ingnais.

Is mítharba lend cach maín 7 cach maith it ingnais.

(is * unprofitableness * with us * every * wealth * and * every * goodness * in your * absence)

Nothing seems as good when you're gone.

At the beginning of "Aided Guill", Cú Chulainn is about to ride off in his chariot on a circuit. Conchobor tells him not to be long ("nadba cian ind aurnaide [airnaide] duit"), because everyone will miss him.

Is éicen do neoch a thecht...

Is éicen do neoch a thecht
cosin fót forsa mbí a thiglecht.

(is * necessity * for * one * his * going /
to the * place * on which * is always * his * last-grave)

Everyone must go at last
to the place of his death.

This half-stanza was spoken in the LL Táin (lines 10633-4) by Fer Diad as he and Cú Chulainn prepare for their fight to the death. The word "fót" means specifically a sod or clod or earth, or a definite patch of ground. The phrase "fód an bháis" (the sod of death) is still used to mean the place where one is fated to die. An early stanza, quoted in "A Miscellany" (p. 87), says there are three locations that cannot be avoided: the place of birth, the place of death, and the place of burial:

Trí fótáin nach sechainter,
cia toiscet na habrochtair,
fót in gene, fót in báis,
ocus fót ind adnacuil.

Congal in FDG (p. 172) states that there are three times that cannot be avoided: the time of death, the time of birth, and the time of conception ("tri h-uaire nach imgaibther .i. uair éca, uair gene, uair choimperta").

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