Diarmuid and Grainne, a further tale is told. They went their way eastward to
Sliab Luchra, and through the territory of Ui Conaill Gabra, and thence with
their left hand to he Shannon eastward to Ros Da Soileach, which is called
Limerick now, and Diarmuid killed for them that night a wild deer; then they ate
and drank their fill of flesh and pure water, and slept till the morn on the
morrow. Muadan rose early and spoke to Diarmuid, and said that he would now
depart. "Thou shouldst not do so," said Diarmuid, "for all that I
promised thee has been fulfilled without dispute." Muadan did not suffer
Diarmuid to hinder him, and took leave and farewell of them, and left them on
the spot, and gloomy and grieved were Diarmuid and Grainne after Muadan.
they journeyed on straight northward towards Sliab Echtge, and thence to the
district of Ui Faichrach, and as they passed through that district Grainne
wearied; and when she considered that she had no man to carry her but Diarmuid,
seeing that Muadan had departed, she took heart and began to walk by Diarmuid's
side boldly.. When they were come into the forest Diarmuid made a hunting booth
in the very midst of the forest, and slew a wild deer that night; so that he and
Grainne ate and drank their fill of flesh and pure water. Diarmuid rose early
and went to the Searban Lochlannach, and made bonds of covenant and compact with
him, and got from him license to hunt and to chase provided that he would never
meddle with his berries.
As for Finn
and the fian, having reached Almu, they were not long there before they saw
fifty warriors coming toward them, and two that were tall, heroic, valiant, and
that exceeded the others for the bulk and beauty in the very front of that
company and troop; and Finn inquired of the fian whether they knew them.
them not," they said, "and canst thou tell who they are,O Finn?"
said Finn; "but I think they are enemies to me."
of warriors came before Finn during this discourse, and they greeted him. Finn
answered them and asked tidings of them, from what land or region they were.
They told him that the were in deed enemies to him, that their fathers had been
at the slaying of Cumall the soon of Trenmor O'Baoiscne at the battle of Cnucha,
"and our fathers themselves died for that deed; and it is to ask peace of
thee we are now come."
were ye yourselves when your fathers were slain?"
mother's wombs," says they, "and our mothers were two women of the
Tuatha De Danann, and we think it time to get our father's place and station
among the fian."
grant you that," said Finn, "but ye must give me a recompense for thy
said Finn, "were one to kill me that it would be an easy matter to satisfy
thee in my recompense, O Oisin; and none shall come among the fian but he that
shall give me a fine for my father."
fine askest thou?" said Angus the son of Art Oc mac Morna.
but the head of a warrior, or a fistful of the berries of the quicken tree of
give you good counsel. O children of Morna," said Oisin:
to where ye were reared, and do not ask peace of Finn as long as ye shall live.
It is no light matter for you to bring to Finn anything he asks of you, for know
ye what head that is which Finn asks you to bring him as a fine?"
not," said they.
of Diarmuid O'Duibne is the head that Finn asks of you, and were ye as many in
number as twenty hundred men of full strength, Diarmuid O' Duibne would not let
that head go with you, that is, his own head."
berries are they that Finn asks of us?" said they.
is more difficult for you to get than that," said Oisin, "as I will
tell you now. There arose a dispute between two women of the Tuatha De Danann,
that is, Aife the daughter of Manannan, and Aine the other daughter of Manannan
the son of Lir. Aife had become enamored of the son of Lugaid, hat is, sister's
son to Finn mac Cumaill, and Aine had become enamored of Lin of the fairy mound
of Finnchad, so that each woman of them said that her own man was a better
hurler than the other; and the fruit of that dispute was that a great goaling
match was arranged between the Tuatha De Danann and the fian of Erin, and the
place where that goal was played was upon a fair plain by loch Lein of the rough
The Tuatha de Dannan (tribe of the goddess Dannu) were powerful godlike
individuals closely associated with the arts and crafts and medicine. Although
they do play roles in warfare they are not warriors. They are also not exactly
like the generalized multivalent gods - they are a bit more specialized. One
should perhaps associate them with
the protection of the crafts- they gave the arts and crafts to the men of Ireland- perhaps they come from a dimension of celtic reality relating to what might be considered craft guilds)
of Erin and the Tuatha De Danann came to that tryst, and these are the noblest
and proudest of the Tuatha De Danann that came there; namely, the three Garbs of
Sliab Mis, and the three Mases of Sliab Luchra, and the three yellow-haired
Murcads, and the three Eochaids of Aine, and the three heroic Loegaires, and the
three Conalls of Collanman, and the three Finns of Finnmur, and the three Sgals
of Brug, and the three Ronans of Ath na Rig, and the three Eogans from Es Ruad
mac Badairn, and the Cathbuilleach, and the three Ferguses, and the Glas of Mag
Breg, and the Suirgeach Suaire from Lionan, and the Meidir from Benn Liath, and
Donn from the fairy-mound of Breg, and the man of Sweet Speech from the Boyne,
and Colla Crincosach from Bernan Eile, and Donn Dumach, and Donn of Leinenoe,
and Bruitha Abac, and Dolb the Bright-Toothed, and the five sons of Finn of the
fairy-mound of Cairn Cain, and the Ilbreac son of Manannan, and Neamanach the
son of Angus, and Bodb Derg the son of the Dagda, and Manannan the son of Lir,
and Abortach the son of Ildathach, and Figmuin of Finnmur, and many others who
are not enumerated here.
In the celtic world the recording of names and other things in long lists is a
very important function of the tale. From any one of the trios of names listed
here at least three other stories could be perhaps, remembered and all are
linked together. For scholars these lists including those of stories are of
great importance as they provide references to the disappeared literature lost
to the vikings and other destruction's over time. (in the 19th century mention
is made of the careless treatment of ancient manuscripts by the peasantry where
it was found that children were playing with pages from ancient works in the
fian of Erin, and they were for the space of three days an three nights playing
hurly from Garbaba of the fian, which is called Leaman, to Cromglen of the fian,
which is called Glenn Fleisce now; and neither of us won a goal. Now the whole
of the Tuatha De Danann were all at that time without our knowledge on either
side of Loch Lein, and they understood that if we, the fian, were united, all
the men of Erin could not win from us. And the counsel which the Tuatha De
Danann took, was to depart back again and not to play out that goal with us. The
provisions that the Tuatha De Danann had brought with them from Tir Tairngire (fairy
land) were these: crimson nuts, catkin apples, and fragrant berries; and as they
passed through the district of Ui Fiacrach by the Muaid; one of the berries fell
from them, and a quicken tree grew out of that berry, and that quicken tree and
its berries have many virtues; for no disease or sickness seizes any one that
eats three berries of them, and they who eat feel the exhilaration of wine and
the satisfying of old mead; and were it at the age of a century, he that tasted
them would return again to be thirty years old.
Tuatha De Danann heard that those virtues belonged to the quicken tree, they
sent from them a guard over it that is, the Searban Lochlannach, a youth of
their own people, that is a thick-boned, large nosed, crooked-tusked, red-eyed
swart-bodied giant of the children of wicked Cam the son of Noa; whom neither
weapons wounds, nor fire burns, nor water drowns, so great is his magic. He has
but one eye only in the fair middle of his black forehead, and there is a thick
collar of iron round that giant's body, and he is fated not to die until there
be struck upon him three strokes of the iron club that he has. He sleeps in the
top of that quicken tree by night, and he remains at its foot by day to watch it;
and those, O children of Morna, are the berries which Finn asks of you,"
said Oisin. "Howbeit, it is not easy for you to meddle with them by any
means; for that Searban Lochlannach has made a wilderness of the districts
around him, so that Finn and the fian dare not chase or hunt there for the dread
of that terrible one."
Aod the son of
Audala mac Morna spoke, and what he said was, that he had rather perish in
seeking those berries than go back again to his mother's country; and he bade
Oisin keep his people until they returned again; and should he and his brother
fall in that adventure, to restore his people to Tir Tairngire. And the two good
warriors took leave and farewell of Oisin and of the chiefs of the fian, and
went their way; nor is it told how they fared until they reached Ros Da Soileach,
which is called Luimneach now, and it is not told how they were entertained that
night. They rose early on the morrow, nor halted until they reached Dubros of Ui
Fiacrach, and as they went towards the forest they found the track of Diarmuid
and Grainne there, and they followed the track to the door of the hunting booth
in which were Diarmuid and Grainne. Diarmuid heard them coming to the hunting
booth, and stretched an active warrior hand over his broad weapons, and asked
who they were that were at the door. "We are of the Clan Morna," said
the Clan Morna are ye?" said Diarmuid.
son of Andala mac Morna, and Angus the son of Art Oc mac Morna," said they.
are ye come to this forest?" said Diarmuid.
Cumaill has sent us to seek thy head, if thou be Diarmuid O' Duibne."
"I am he,
indeed," said Diarmuid.
then," said they, "Finn will not choose but get thy head, or the full
of his fist of the berries of the quicken of Dubros from us as a fine for his
"It is no
easy matter for you to get either of those things," said Diarmuid,"
and woe to him that may fall under the power of that man. I also know that he it
was that slew your fathers, and surely that should suffice him as recompense
berries are those that Finn requires," asked Grainne, "that they
cannot be got for him?"
these," said Diarmuid:"the Tuatha De Danann left a quicken tree in the
district of Ui Fiachrach, and in all berries that grow upon that tree there are
many virtues, that is, there is in every berry of them the exhilaration of wine
and the satisfying of old mead; and whoever should eat three berries of that
tree, had he completed a hundred years he would return to the age of thirty
years. Nevertheless there is a giant hideous and foul to behold, keeping that
quicken tree; every day he is at the foot of it, and every night he sleeps at
the top. Moreover, he has made a desert of the district round about him ,and he
cannot be slain until three terrible strokes be struck upon him with an iron
club that he has, and that club is thus; it has a thick ring of iron through its
end, and the ring around the giant's body; he has moreover forced an agreement
with Finn and with the fian of Erin not to hunt in that district, and when Finn
outlawed me and became my enemy, I got of him leave to hunt, provided that I
should never meddle with the berries. And, O children of Morna," said
Diarmuid, "choose ye between combat with me for my head, and going to seek
the berries from the giant."
by the rank of my tribe among the fian, " said each of the children of
Morna, "that I would rather do battle with thee."
those good warriors, that is, the children of Morna and Diarmuid, harnessed
their comely bodies in their array of weapons of valor and battle, and the
combat that they resolved upon was to fight by the strength of their hands.
The outcome of
the contest was that Diarmuid vanquished and bound them both upon that
spot." Thou hast fought that strive well," said Grainne, "and I
vow that even if the children of Morna go not to seek those berries, I will
never lie in thy bed unless I get a portion of them, although that is not fit
thing for a woman to do being pregnant; and I indeed am now heavy and pregnant,
and I shall not life if I taste not those berries."
not to break peace with the Searban Lochlannach," said Diarmuid, "for
he would not the more readily let me take them."
these bonds from us," said the children of Morna, "and we will go with
thee, and we will give ourselves for thy sake."
not come with me," said Diarmuid,"for were ye to see one glimpse of
the giant, ye would more likely die than live after it."
us the grace," said they, "to slacken the bonds on us and let us go
with thee privately that we may see thy battle with the giant before thou hew
the heads from our bodies"; and Diarmuid did so.
went his way to the Searban Lochlannach, and the giant chanced to be asleep
before him. He dealt him a stroke of his foot, so that the giant raised his head
and gazed up at Diarmuid, and what he said was," Dost thou wish to break
peace O O'Duibne?"
not that," said Diarmuid, "but that Grainne the daughter of Cormac is
heavy and pregnant, and she has conceived a desire for those berries which thou
hast, and it is to ask the full of a fist of those berries from thee that I am
said the giant, " were it even that thou shouldst have no children except
that birth now in her womb, and were there but Grainne of the race of Cormac the
son of Art, and were I sure hat she should perish in bearing that child, that
she should never taste one berry of those berries."
not deceive the," said Diarmuid; "therefore I now tell thee it is to
seek them by fair means or foul that I am come."
having heard that, rose up and stood, and put his club over his shoulder, and
dealt Diarmuid three mighty strokes so that the wrought him some little hurt in
spite of the shelter of his shield. And when Diarmuid marked the giant off his
guard he cast his weapons upon the ground, and made an eager exceedingly strong
spring upon the giant, so that he was able with his two hands to grasp the club.
Then he hove the giant from the earth and hurled him round him, and the iron
ring that was about the giant's body and through the end of the club stretched,
and when the club reached Diarmuid he struck three mighty strokes upon the giant,
so that he dashed his brains out through the opening of his head and of his ears,
and left him dead without life; and those two of the Clan Morna were looking at
Diarmuid as he fought that strife.
When they saw
the giant fall they too came forth, and Diarmuid sat him down weary and spent
after that combat, and bade the children of Morna bury the giant under the
brushwood of the forest so that Grainne might not see him, " and after that
go ye to seek her also, and bring her." The children of Morna drew the
giant forth into the wood, and put him underground, and went after Grainne and
brought her to Diarmuid. "There, O Grainne," said Diarmuid, "are
the berries thou didst ask for, and do thou thyself pluck of them whatever
said Grainne, "that I will not taste a single berry of them but the berry
that thy hand shall pluck, O Diarmuid." Thereupon Diarmuid rose and stood,
and plucked the berries for Grainne and for the children of Morna, so that they
ate their fill of them..
When they were
filled Diarmuid spoke, and said:"O children of Morna, take as many as ye
can of these berries and tell Finn that it was ye yourselves that slew the
said they, "that we grudge what we shall take to Finn of them"; and
Diarmuid plucked them a load of the berries. Then the children of Morna spoke
their gratitude and thanks to Diarmuid after the gifts they had received from
him, and went their way to where Finn and the fian of Erin were. Now Diarmuid
and Grainne went into the top of the quicken tree, and laid them in the bed of
the Searban Lochlannach, and the berries below were but bitter berries compared
to the berries that were upon the top of the tree.
of Morna reached Finn, and Finn asked their news of them from first to last.
"We have slain the Searban Lochlannach," said they, "and have
brought the berries of Dubros as a fine for thy father's death, if perchance we
may get peace for them."
Then they gave
the berries into the hand of Finn, and he knew the berries, and put them under
his nose, and said to the children of Morna, "I swear," said Finn,
"that it was Diarmuid o"Duibine that gathered these berries, for I
know the smell of O' Duibne's skin on them, and full sure I am that he it was
that slew the Searban Lochlannach; and I will go to learn whether he is alive at
the quicken tree. But it shall profit you nothing to have brought the berries to
me, and ye shall not get your father's place among the fian until ye give me the
recompense for my father."
(editor's note: the smelling of the berries by Finn attests to his being neither man nor beast but living in between worlds. This is a strong relationship perhaps to a most ancient dimension of the celtic world- that of the gifted insightful huntsman who protected his people in hunter gatherer days by mastering not the elements and crops, nor the crafts, nor other men but by mastering the ways of the animals- learning perhaps of the seasonal migration patterns and the fish runs and being able to direct his people to seasonal hunts. Finn's own family members were said to be wild animals.)