Irish Sagas at UCC University College Cork



Longes mac n-Uislenn

Background information

The History of Ireland (Geoffrey Keating), Volume 2

pp. 191-197 One day Conchubhar, king of Ulster, went to partake of a feast to the house of Feidhlimidh son of Dall, storyteller to Conchubhar. In the course of that feast the wife of Feidhlimidh gave birth to a beautiful daughter; and Cathbhadh the druid, who was present at the assembly on that occasion, foreboded and foretold of this daughter that great misfortune and mischief would befall the province on her account. When the warriors heard this, they sought to put her to death on the spot. ‘By no means,’ said Conchubhar; ‘but I will take her and put her to nurse so that she may become my wife.’ Deirdre was the name that Cathbhadh the druid gave her. Conchubhar placed her in a dwelling apart, with a tutor and a nurse to bring her up; and no one in the province was permitted to go into her presence but her tutor, her nurse, and Conchubhar’s censorious woman, who was called Leabharcham. She continued under these regulations until she was marriageable, and until she excelled the women of the time in beauty. One snowy day it chanced that her tutor killed a calf to prepare food for her; and when the calf’s blood was shed on the snow, a raven began to drink it. And when Deirdre observed this, she said to Leabharcham that she would like to have a husband having the three colours she beheld, namely, his hair of the colour of the raven, his cheek of the colour of the calf’s blood, and his skin of the colour of the snow. ‘Such a man is in the household with Conchubhar; he is called Naoise, son of Uisneach.’ ‘Then,’ said she, ‘I beseech thee, O Leabharcham, send him to speak to me in secret’; and Leabharcham informed Naoise of this. Thereupon Naoise came secretly to visit Deirdre, who revealed to him how greatly she loved him, and besought him to elope with her from Conchubhar. Naoise consented to this with reluctance, as he feared Conchubhar.
Himself and his two brothers Ainle and Ardan, having Deirdre and thrice fifty warriors with them, proceeded to Alba, where they were maintained in service by the king of Alba till he was informed of Deirdre’s beauty, and asked her for his wife. Naoise and his brothers became enraged at this, and fled with Deirdre from Alba to an island in the sea, having previously had many conflicts with the king’s party. Now when the story ran in Ulster that the sons of Uisneach were in this sad plight, many of the nobles of the province said to Conchubhar that it was a pity that the sons of Uisneach should be in exile on account of a wicked woman, and that they should be sent for and brought back to the country. Conchubhar consented to this at the request of the nobles; and he gave Fearghus son of Rogh, Dubhthach Daol Uladh, and Cormac Corluingeas as sureties that he would act towards them in good faith. Upon these conditions, Fearghus son of Rogh sent his own son Fiachaidh to the children of Uisneach; and he brought them and their followers to Ireland, and Deirdre with them; and no tidings whatever of them are related till they reached the green of Eamhain.
On the green they were met by Eoghan son of Durrthacht, prince of Fearnmhagh, accompanied by a large host with intent to deal treacherously with the children of Uisneach at the direction of Conchubhar; and when the children of Uisneach arrived, Eoghan went to bid Naoise welcome, and in welcoming him thrust a spear through him. When Fiachaidh son of Fearghus saw this, he sprang between Eoghan and Naoise; and Eoghan dealt his second thrust at Fiachaidh, and slew him, together with Naoise; and forthwith Eoghan and his host fell upon the children of Uisneach, and slew them, and made dreadful slaughter upon their followers.
Now when Fearghus and Dubhthach heard that the children of Uisneach had been slain in violation of their guarantee, they proceeded to Eamhain, and came into conflict with the party of Conchubhar, and they slew Maine son of Conchubhar, together with three hundred warriors of his followers. They burned and plundered Eamhain, and put Conchubhar’s women to death; and they and Cormac Conluingeas assembled their supporters from all sides; and their host at that time numbered three thousand warriors; and they thence marched into Connaught to Meadhbh and to Oilill, where they found welcome and were taken into service. When they had arrived there, there was no night that they did not send parties of plunderers to ravage and burn Ulster.
Now as to Deirdre, who gave rise to the events we have narrated, she remained with Conchubhar a year after the slaying of the children of Uisneach; and little though it be to raise her head or let a smile cross her lips, she did not do it during that time. When Conchubhar saw that neither sport nor kindness had any effect on her, and neither merriment nor pleasure raised her spirits, he sent for Eoghan son of Durrthacht, prince of Fearnmhagh; and when Eoghan had come into his presence, he said to Deirdre that, since he himself was unable to turn away her mind from her sorrow, she must pass another space of time with Eoghan; and she was thereupon placed behind Eoghan in his chariot. Conchubhar went to accompany them; and as they went along, she cast glances of rage at Eoghan in front of her and at Conchubhar behind her; for there were no two on earth she hated more than these. And when Conchubhar perceived her glancing by turns at himself and Eoghan, he said to her in jest, ‘Deirdre,’ said he, ‘thy glancing at me and at Eoghan is the glancing of a sheep between two rams.’ When Deirdre heard this, she started at the words, and sprang lightly from the chariot; and her head struck against a ledge of rock that stood before her on the ground. Her head was broken into fragments, and her brain straightway issued forth. Thus was brought about the banishinent of Fearghus son of Rogh, and of Cormac Conluingeas son of Conchubhar, of Dubhthach Daol Uladh, and the death of Deirdre.

pp. 209-211 When Fearghus was in banishment in Connaught, it happened that he was with Oilill and Meadhbh in Magh Ai, where they had a dwelling-fortress; and one day, when they went out to the shore of a lake that was near the lios, Oilill asked Fearghus to go and swim in the lake, and Fearghus did so. Now while Fearghus was swimming, Meadhbh was seized by a desire of swimming with him; and when she had gone into the lake with Fearghus, Oilill grew jealous; and he ordered a kinsman of his called Lughaidh Dalleigheas who was with him to cast a spear at Fearghus which pierced him through the breast; and Fearghus came ashore on account of the wound caused by that cast, and extracted the spear from his body, and cast it in the direction of Oilill; and it pierced a greyhound that was near his chariot, and thereupon Fearghus fell and died, and was buried on the shore of the same lake. It was this Fearghus who slew Fiachna son of Conchubhar, and the champion Geirrgheann son of Mollaidh, and Eoghan son of Durrthacht, king of Fearnmhuighe, and many heroes and warriors besides whom we shall not mention here. It was he also who carried off the great spoil from Ulster which caused much mischief and discord between Connaughtmen and Ulstermen, so that the dubhloingeas that went with Fearghus into exile from Ulster remained seven years in Connaught, or according to others ten years, spoiling and plundering Ulster on account of the death of the sons of Uisneach, while the Ulstermen were in the same way making an onslaught on them and on the men of Connaught on account of the spoil that Fearghus took from them, as well as every other injury which the dubhloingeas — : that is, the exile host who went with Fearghus to Connaught — and the men of Connaught themselves had done them; so that the injury and damage they inflicted on one another were so great that books have been written about them which it would be tedious to mention, and would take too long to describe here.

p. 213 When Oilill had been slain by Conall Cearnach, Meadhbh went to Inis Clothrann on Lough Ribh to live; and while she resided there, she was under an obligation to bathe every morning in the well which was at the entrance to the island. And when Forbuidhe son of Conchubhar heard this, he visited the well one day alone, and with a line measured from the brink of the well to the other side of the lake, and took the measure with him to Ulster, and practised thus: he inserted two poles in the ground, and tied an end of the line to each pole, and placed an apple on one of the poles, and stood himself at the other pole, and kept constantly firing from his sling at the apple that was on the top of the pole till he struck it. This exercise he practised until he had grown so dexterous that he would miss no aim at the apple. Soon after this there was a meeting of the people of Ulster and Connaught at both sides of the Shannon at Inis Clothrann; and Forbuidhe came there from the east with the Ulster gathering. And one morning while he was there, he saw Meadhbh bathing, as was her wont, in the fore-mentioned well; and with that he fixed a stone in his sling and hurled it at her, and struck her in the forehead, so that she died on the spot, having been ninety-eight years on the throne of Connaught, as we have said above.

Related saga online: Aided Fergusa meic Roich (The Death of Fergus mac Roich)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), The Death-Tales of the Ulster Heroes, (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis and Co., 1906; repr. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1993), pp. 32-35.
Digital Edition at (pp. 32-35); Digital Edition at (pp. 32-35 (44-47)); Irish text at CELT; English translation at CELT; English translation at; English translation at Tech Screpta

Fergus was in exile in Connaught after his honour had been violated in the matter of the sons of Usnech; for he was one of the three guarantors that were given to them, the other two being Dubthach Chafertongue and Cormac Conlonges the son of Conchobar. These were all in exile in the west to the end of fourteen years, and (during all that time) wailing and trembling in Ulster never ceased through them, but there were wailing and trembling every night. ’Tis he who slew Fiachra the son of Conchobar, and Gerg the son of Illand, and Eogan the son of Durthacht. Many deeds he did while in the household of Ailill and Medb; and he and his people were more often abroad in the land than in Ailill’s household. Three thousand was the number of the exiled company (See Section 16).

Related saga online: Oided mac nUisnig (The Death of the Sons of Usnech)
Whitley Stokes (ed. & tr.), Irische Texte, Ser. II.2, 1887, pp. 122-178.
Irish text at (pp. 122-152 (130-160)); English translation at (pp. 153-178 (161-186)); English translation at Tech Screpta

Related saga online: Compert Conchobuir (The conception of Conchobur)
Kuno Meyer (ed. & tr.), Anecdota from the Stowe MS. No. 992, Revue Celtique, 6, 1984, pp.174-182.
Digital Edition at (pp. 174-182); English translation at Tech Screpta; German translation at (pp. 63-65 (81-83))
Cathbad and Conchobur mac Nessa (See Section 3)

Related saga online: Bruiden Da Chocae (Da Choca’s Hostel)
Whitley Stokes (ed. & tr.), Da Choca’s Hostel, Revue Celtique, 21,1900, pp. 150-163, 312-326, 388-394.
Digital Edition at Part 1 (pp. 150-163); Part 2 (pp. 312-326); Part 3 (pp. 388-394); English translation at Tech Screpta
The death of Cormac Conloinges, son of Conchobar (See Section 16).

Related saga online: Aided Meidbe (The Violent Death of Medb)
Vernam Hull (ed. & tr.), Aided Meidbe: The Violent Death of Medb, Speculum, 13, No. 1, 1938, pp. 52-61.
Digital Edition at JSTOR; Irish text at CELT; English translation at

Ancient Laws of Ireland (O’Donovan / O’Curry), Volume I

p. 25 (86), Sencha Mac Ailella never pronounced a false judgment without getting three permanent blotches on his face for each judgment (See Section 1).

Táin Bó Cúangne from the Book of Leinster (O’Rahilly)
Section 40, pp. 264-265, Conchobhor and Sencha mac Ailella (See Section 1).
Section 4, pp. 162-164, Cathbad and Cú Chulainn (See Section 3).
Section 22, p. 205, Fergus mac Róig and Dubthach Dáel Ulad (See Section 16).
Section 40, pp. 267-268, Cormac Cond Longas and Fergus mac Róig (See Section 16).

An Early Irish Reader (Chadwick)
p. 20 (32), §11, Eogan mac Durthacht and Cet mac Matach (See Section 14).

Lectures of the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (O’Curry)
List of Historic Tales in the Book of Leinster includes:
Aited Deirdrinde re Macaib Uisnig (The Elopement of Deirdre with the Sons of Uisnech), p. 589 (625)

R = The Rennes Dindshenchas (Stokes), Revue Celtique, 15-16, 1894-95
M = The Metrical Dindshenchas (Gwynn)
B = The Bodleian Dinnshenchas (Stokes), Folklore, 3, 1892
S = Silva Gadelica (O’Grady), Volume 2
R: Benn Étair §29 (See Section 11), Part 1, pp. 330-332, (‘Benn Étair’)
M: Bend Etair I (See Section 11), Volume 3, pp. 105-109, pp. 495-497
M: Bend Etair II (See Section 11), Volume 3, pp. 111-119, pp. 498-499
S: Benn Edair (See Section 11), p. 521 (556)
R: Emain Macha §161 (See Section 5), Part 5, pp. 279-283
M: Emain Macha (See Section 5), Volume 4, pp. 309-311, p. 459
R: Ess Rúaid §81 (See Section 11), Part 3, pp. 31-33, (‘Ess Ruaid’)
M: Ess Ruaid I (See Section 11), Volume 4, pp. 3-7, pp. 375-376
M: Ess Ruaid II (See Section 11), Volume 4, pp. 7-9, pp. 376-377
B: Ess Ruaid §42 (See Section 11), pp. 505-506, (‘Ess Ruaid’)
S: Es [Aedha] Ruaidh (See Section 11), p. 526 (561)

Cóir Anmann: Fitness of Names (Stokes), Irische Texte, Ser. III.2
Cormac Conloinges §275 (See Section 13), p. 403, p. 424
Dubthach Dael-tengthach §263 (see Section 13), p. 399, p. 423
Dubthach Dael Ulad §264 (see Section 13), p. 399, p. 423
Fergus mac Róich §282 (See Section 5), p. 407, p. 425
Medb of Cruachu §274 (See Section 16), p. 403, p. 424
Ulaid §245 (See Section 1), pp. 387-389, p. 422

Book of Leinster
Egerton 1782
Yellow Book of Lecan
Ulster Cycle
Ailill mac Máta; Kings of Connacht
Conchobar mac Nessa; Kings of Ulster
Cormac Cond Longas
Dubthach Dóeltenga
Éogan mac Durthacht
Fergus mac Róich; Kings of Ulster
Sencha mac Ailella
Emain Macha

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