The Characters Speak

In fer dóid in mbec sechum-sa, no-íssad a mmór.

In fer dóid in mbec sechum-sa, no-íssad a mmór.

(the * man * (who) ate * the * little * past me - emphatic * would eat * the * great)

The man who ate a little bit behind my back would eat the lot.
(If you give him an inch, he'll take a mile. He's not to be trusted.)

Spoken by a character in "Talland Étair" just before he reacts altogether intemperately to a perceived slight.

Indé ba medithir slíab...

Indé ba medithir slíab, indiu ní fhuil de acht a scath.

(yesterday * was * as big * as a mountain * today * not * is * of him * but * his * shadow)

Yesterday he was as big as a mountain, today all that remains of him is his shadow.

Spoken by Cú Chulainn lamenting the death of Fer Diad, who was for a long time his dearest friend, but whom the politics of the day made briefly and tragically his enemy. Found in the Book of Leinster version of "Táin Bó Cúailnge".

Ní raba-sa ríam cen fher ar scáth araile ocum.

Ní raba-sa ríam cen fher ar scáth araile ocum.

(not * was I - emphatic * ever * without * a man * on * shadow * of another * at me)

I have never been without one man in the next one's shadow.

At the beginning of the LL version of "Táin Bó Cúailnge", Queen Medb, an extraordinary woman, tells her husband, Ailill, that she has always had men standing in line for her, so naturally she could not abide a jealous husband!

Tabair mo thrí drinnrosc dam!

Tabair mo thrí drinnrosc dam!

(give * my * three * wishes * to me)

Give me my three wishes!

Cú Chulainn makes this demand of a giant he has just subdued and who has asked to be spared, in "Fled Bricrenn". This formula is found elsewhere in Early Irish literature ("Táin Bó Regamna"; and "Tochmarc Emire" where it takes the more peremptory form "Mo trí drinnruisc dam-sa!"), and persists in folklore.

For fír th'ainich ocus t'anama!

For fír th'ainich ocus t'anama!

(on * truth * of your honor * and * your soul)

Upon the truth of your honor and your soul!

Said by Ailill to Fráech in "Táin Bó Fraích", demanding that he give a truthful reply.

Imm-caemros-sa do gáethaib corbom gáeth fadeisin.

Imm-caemros-sa do gáethaib corbom gáeth fadeisin.

(I will inquire - emphatic * of * wise men * that I may be * wise * (my)self)

I will inquire of wise men so that I may be wise myself.

Spoken by the young Conaire at the outset of his kingship in "Togail Bruidne Da Derga".

Anmain i n-anmain!

Anmain i n-anmain!

(soul * in * soul)

Spare my life!

This is the standard formula used to ask for quarter in combat, found in tales such as "Fled Bricrenn", "Tochmarc Emire", "Táin Bó Regamna", and "Echtra Fergusa maic Léti". The victor usually replies by demanding three wishes in exchange for clemency. (See "Tabair...")

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