Finn rose up one morning early in Almhuin of Leinster, and he sat out alone on the green lawn without a boy or a servant being with him. And Oisin followed him there, and Diorraing the Druid. “What is the cause of your early rising, Finn?” said Oisin. “It is not without cause, indeed, I rise early,” said Finn, “for I am without a wife or a companion since Maighneis, daughter of Black Garraidh, died from me; for quiet sleep is not used to come to a man that is without a fitting wife.” “Why would you be like that?” said Oisin, “for there is not a woman in all green Ireland you would throw a look on but we would bring her to you, willing or unwilling.” “I myself could find a wife would be fitting for you,” said Diorraing. “Who is that?” said Finn. “It is Grania, daughter of the High King of Ireland,” said Diorraing; “and she is the woman of the best make and shape and the best speech of the women of the whole world.” “By my word, Diorraing,” said Finn, “there is strife and disagreement between the High King and myself this long time, and it would not be pleasing to me to get a refusal from him. And it is best for you two to go together,” he said, “and to ask his daughter for me in marriage; the way that if he gives a refusal, it will be to you and not to myself he will give it.” “We will go,” said Oisin, “even if it is little profit we will get by it. And let no one at all know of our going,” he said, “until such time as we are come back again.”
After that the two bade farewell to Finn, and set out, and it is not told what they did till they came to Teamhair. The King of Ireland was holding a gathering at that time on the green of Teamhair, and the chief nobles of his people were with him. And there was a friendly welcome given to Oisin and to Diorraing, and the king put off the gathering till the next day, for he was sure it was some pressing thing had brought these two men of the Fianna to Teamhair. And Oisin went aside with him, and told him it was to ask his daughter Grania in marriage they were come from Finn, Head of the Fianna of Ireland.
The king spoke, and it is what he said: “There is not a son of a king or of a great prince, there is not a champion in Ireland my daughter has not given a refusal to, and it is on me they all lay the blame of that. And I will give you no answer at all,” he said, “till you go to herself; for it is better for you to get her own answer, than to be displeased with me.”
So they went together to the sunny house of the women, and the king sat down at the head of the high seat beside Grania, and he said: “Here, Grania, are two of the people of Finn, son of Cumhal, come to ask you as a wife for him, and what answer have you a mind to give them?” And it is what Grania said: “If he is a fitting son-inlaw for you, why would he not be a fitting husband for me?”
They were satisfied then, and there was a feast made for them that night in Grania’s sunny house, and the king settled for a meeting a fortnight from that time between himself and Finn at Teamhair.
So Oisin and Diorraing went back again to Almhuin, and told Finn their story from beginning to end. And as everything wears away, so did that time of delay.
And then Finn gathered together the seven battalions of the Fianna from every part where they were to Almhuin. And they set out in great bands and troops till they came to Teamhair.
The king was out on the green before them, and the great people of the men of Ireland, and there was a great welcome before Finn and the Fianna.
But when Grania saw grey-haired Finn, she said: “It is a great wonder it was not for Oisin Finn asked me, for he would be more fitting for me than a man that is older than my father.”
But they talked together for a while, and Finn was putting questions to Grania, for she had the name of being very quick with answers. “What is whiter than snow?” he said. “The truth,” said Grania. “What is the best colour?” said Finn. “The colour of childhood,” said she. “What is hotter than fire?” “The face of a hospitable man when he sees a stranger coming in, and the house empty.” “What has a taste more bitter than poison?” “The reproach of an enemy.” “What is best for a champion?” “His doings to be high, and his pride to be low.” “What is the best of jewels?” “A knife.” “What is sharper than a sword?” “The wit of a woman between two men.” “What is quicker than the wind?” said Finn then. “A woman’s mind,” said Grania. And indeed she was telling no lie when she said that. And for all their talk together she had no liking for Finn, and she felt the blood in her heart to be rising against him.
And the wedding-feast was made ready then, and they all went into the king’s feasting-house in the Middle Court. And the king sat down to take his share of drinking and pleasure, and his wife at his left side, and Grania beside her again; and Finn, son of Cumhal, at the right hand of the king, and Oisin at the other side, and every other one according to his nobility and his birth.
Then Daire of the poems stood up before Grania, and sang the songs and good poems of her fathers to her. And there was sitting near to Grania a knowledgeable man, a Druid of Finn’s people, and it was not long until they began to talk together. “Tell me now,” said Grania, “who is that man on the right hand of Oisin?” “That is Goll, son of Morna,” said the Druid, “the ready fighter.” “Who is that beside Goll?” said Grania. “Osgar, son of Oisin,” said the Druid. “And who is that thin-legged man beside Osgar?” “That is Caoilte, son of Ronan.” “Who is that proud, hasty man beside Caoilte?” “Lugaidh’s Son of the Strong Hand.” “Who is that sweet-worded man,” she said then, “with the dark hair, and cheeks like the rowan berry, on the left side of Oisin, son of Finn?” “That is Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne,” said the Druid, “that is the best lover of women in the whole world.” “That is a good company,” said Grania.
And after the feast had gone on a while, their own feast was made for the dogs outside. And the dogs began to fight with one another, and the noise was heard in the hall, and the chief men of the Fianna went to drive them away from one another.
Now Diarmuid was used to keep his cap always over the love-spot the woman had left on his forehead, for no woman could see that spot but she would give him her love. And it chanced, while he was driving the dogs apart, the cap fell from him, and Grania was looking cut at him as it fell, and great love for him came on her there and then. And she called her serving-maid to her, and bade her bring the great golden cup that held drink for nine times nine men from the sunny house. And when the serving-maid brought the cup, she filled it with wine that had enchantment in it, and she said: “Give the cup first to Finn, and bid him take a drink from it, and tell him it is I myself sent it to him.” So the serving-maid did that, and Finn took the cup and drank out of it, and no sooner did he drink than he fell into a deep sleep. And then the cup was given to the king, and the queen, and the sons of kings, and the whole company, but only Oisin and Osgar and Caoilte and Diarmuid, and Diorraing the Druid. And all that drank of it fell into the same heavy sleep.
And when they were all in their sleep, Grania rose up softly from the seat where she was, and she turned her face to Diarmuid, and she said: “Will you take my love, Diarmuid, son of Duibhne, and will you bring me away out of this house to-night?”
“I will not,” said Diarmuid; “I will not meddle with the woman that is promised to Finn.” “If that is so,” said Grania, “I put you under Druid bonds, to bring me out of this house to-night before the awaking of Finn and of the King of Ireland from their sleep.”
“It is under bad bonds you are putting me, Grania,” said Diarmuid. “And why is it,” he said, “that you put them on me more than on the great men and sons of kings that are in the Middle Court to-night? for there is not one of them all but is as well worthy of a woman’s love as myself.” “By my hand, Diarmuid, it is not without cause I laid those bonds on you,” said Grania; “for I was at the door a while ago when you were parting the dogs,” she said, “and my eyes fell on you, and I gave you the love there and then that I never gave to any other, and never will give for ever.”
“It is a wonder you to give that love to me, and not to Finn,” said Diarmuid, “for there is not in Ireland a man is a better lover of a woman than himself. And do you know this, Grania,” he said, “the night Finn is in Teamhair it is he himself is the keeper of its gates. And as that is so, we cannot leave the town.” “There is a side door of escape at my sunny house,” said Grania, “and we will go out by it.” “It is a thing I will never do,” said Diarmuid, “to go out by any side door of escape at all.” “That may be so,” said Grania, “but I heard it said that every fighting man has leave to pass over the walls of any dun and of any strong place at all by the shafts of his spears. And I will go out through the door,” she said, “and let you follow me like that.”
With that she went out, and Diarmuid spoke to his people, and it is what he said, “O Oisin, son of Finn, what must I do with these bonds that are laid on me?” “You are not guilty if the bonds were laid on you,” said Oisin; “and I tell you to follow Grania, and to keep yourself well out of the hands of Finn.” “Osgar, son of Oisin,” he said then, “what must I do with these bonds that are put on me?” “I tell you to follow Grania,” said Osgar, “for it is a pitiful man that would break his bonds.” “What advice do you give me, Caoilte?” said Diarmuid. “It is what I say,” said Caoilte, “that I myself have a fitting wife; and that it would be better to me than all the riches of the world Grania to have given me that love.” “What advice do you give me, Diorraing?” “I tell you to follow Grania,” said Diorraing, “although you will get your death by it, and that is bad to me.” “Is that the advice you all give me?” said Diarmuid. “It is,” said Oisin, and all the rest with him. With that Diarmuid stood up and stretched out his hand for his weapons, and he said farewell to Oisin and the others, and every tear he shed was of the size of a mountain berry. He went out then to the wall of the dun, and he put the shafts of his two spears under him, and he rose with a light leap and he came down on the grassy earth outside, and Grania met him there. Then Diarmuid said: “It is a bad journey you are come on, Grania. For it would be better for you to have Finn, son of Cumhal, as a lover than myself, for I do not know any part or any western corner of Ireland that will hide you. And if I do bring you with me,” he said, “it is not as a wife I will bring you, but I will keep my faith to Finn. And turn back now to the town,” he said, “and Finn will never get news of what you are after doing.” “It is certain I will not turn back,” said Grania, “and I will never part with you till death parts us.” “If that is so, let us go on, Grania,” said Diarmuid.
They went on then, and they were not gone far out from the town when Grania said: “I am getting tired, indeed.” “It is a good time to be tired,” said Diarmuid, “and go now back again to your own house. For I swear by the word of a true champion,” he said, “I will never carry yourself or any other woman to the end of life and time.” “That is not what you have to do,” said Grania, “for my father’s horses are in a grass field by themselves, and chariots with them; and turn back now, and bring two horses of them, and I will wait in this place till you come to me again.”
Diarmuid went back then for the horses, and we have no knowledge of their journey till they reached to the ford on the Sionnan, that is called now Ath-luain.
And Diarmuid said then to Grania: “It is easier to Finn to follow our track, the horses being with us.” “If that is so,” said Grania: “leave the horses here, and I will go on foot from this out.”
Diarmuid went down to the river then, and he brought a horse with him over the ford, and left the other horse the far side of the river. And he himself and Grania went a good way with the stream westward, and they went to land at the side of the province of Connacht. And wherever they went, Diarmuid left unbroken bread after him, as a sign to Finn he had kept his faith with him.
And from that they went on to Doire-da-Bhoth, the Wood of the Two Huts. And Diarmuid cut down the wood round about them, and he made a fence having seven doors of woven twigs, and he set out a bed of soft rushes and of the tops of the birch-tree for Grania in the very middle of the wood.
And as to Finn, son of Cumhal, I will tell out his story now.
All that were in Teamhair rose up early in the morning of the morrow, and they found Diarmuid and Grania were wanting from them, and there came a scorching jealousy and a weakness on Finn. He sent out his trackers then on the plain, and bade them to follow Diarmuid and Grania. And they followed the track as far as the ford on the Sionnan, and Finn and the Fianna followed after them, but they were not able to carry the track across the ford. And Finn gave them his word that unless they would find the track again without delay, he would hang them on each side of the ford.
Then the sons of Neamhuin went up against the stream, and they found a horse on each side of it, and then they went on with the stream westward, and they found the track going along the side of the Province of Connacht, and Finn and the Fianna of Ireland followed it on. And Finn said: “I know well where we will find Diarmuid and Grania now; it is in Doire-da-Bhoth they are.” Oisin and Osgar and Caoilte and Diorraing were listening when Finn said those words. And Osgar spoke to the others, and it is what he said: “There is danger they might be there, and it would be right for us to give them some warning; and look now, Osgar, where is Bran the hound, for Finn himself is no dearer to him than Diarmuid, and bid him go now with a warning to him.”
So Osgar told Bran, and Bran understood him well, and she went to the rear of the whole troop the way Finn would not see her, and she followed on the track of Diarmuid and Grania till she came to Doire-da-Bhoth, and she put her head into Diarmuid’s bosom, and he in his sleep.
Diarmuid started up out of his sleep then, and he awoke Grania, and said to her: “Here is Bran, Finn’s hound, and she is come with a warning to tell us Finn himself is coming.” “Let us take that warning, then,” said Grania, “and make your escape.” “I will not take it,” said Diarmuid, “for if I cannot escape Finn, I would as soon he took me now as at any other time.” When Grania heard that, great fear came on her.
Bran went away from them then, and when Oisin saw her coming back, he said: “I am in dread Bran found no chance to get to Diarmuid, and we should send him some other warning. And look where is Fearghoin,” he said, “Caoilte’s serving-man.” Now it was the way with Fearghoin, every shout he would give would be heard in the three nearest hundreds to him. So they made him give out three shouts the way Diarmuid would hear him. And Diarmuid heard him, and he said to Grania: “I hear Caoilte’s serving-man, and it is with Caoilte he is, and it is along with Finn Caoilte is, and those shouts were sent as a warning to me.” “Take that warning,” said Grania. “I will not take it,” said Diarmuid, “for Finn and the Fianna will come up with us before we leave the wood.” And fear and great dread came on Grania when she heard him say that.
As for Finn, he did not leave off following the track till he came to Doire-da-Bhoth, and he sent the sons of Neamhuin to search through the wood, and they saw Diarmuid, and the woman along with him. They came back then where Finn was, and he asked them were Diarmuid and Grania in the wood? “Diarmuid is in it,” they said, “and there is some woman with him, but we knew Diarmuid, and we do not know Grania.” “May no good come to the friends of Diarmuid for his sake,” said Finn, “and he will not quit that wood till he has given me satisfaction for everything he has done to me.”
“It is jealousy has put you astray, Finn,” said Oisin; “you to think Diarmuid would stop here on the plain of Maen Mhagh, and no close place in it but Doire-da-Bhoth, and you following after him.” “Saying that will do you no good,” said Finn, “for I knew well when I heard the three shouts Caoilte’s serving-man gave out, it was you sent them to Diarmuid as a warning. And another thing,” he said, “it was you sent my own hound Bran to him. But none of those things you have done will serve you, for he will not leave Doire-da-Bhoth till he gives me satisfaction for everything he has done to me, and every disgrace he has put on me.” “It is great foolishness for you, Finn,” said Osgar then, “to be thinking Diarmuid would stop in the middle of this plain and you waiting here to strike the head off him.” “Who but himself cut the wood this way,” said Finn, “and made this close sheltered place with seven woven narrow doors to it. And O Diarmuid,” he said out then, “which of us is the truth with, myself or Oisin?” “You never failed from your good judgment, Finn,” said Diarmuid, “and indeed I myself and Grania are here.” Then Finn called to his men to go around Diarmuid and Grania, and to take them.
Now it was shown at this time to Angus Og, at Brugh na Boinne, the great danger Diarmuid was in, that was his pupil at one time, and his dear foster-son. He set out then with the clear cold wind, and did not stop in any place till he came to Doire-da-Bhoth. And he went unknown to Finn or the Fianna into the place where Diarmuid and Grania were, and he spoke kind words to Diarmuid, and he said: “What is the thing you have done, grandson of Duibhne?” “It is,” said Diarmuid, “the daughter of the King of Ireland that has made her escape with me from her father and from Finn, and it is not by my will she came.” “Let each of you come under a border of my cloak, so,” said Angus, “and I will bring you out of the place where you are without knowledge of Finn or his people.” “Bring Grania with you,” said Diarmuid, “but I will never go with you; but if I am alive I will follow you before long. And if I do not,” he said, “give Grania to her father, and he will do well or ill to her.”
With that Angus put Grania under the border of his cloak, and brought her out unknown to Finn or the Fianna, and there is no news told of them till they came to Ros-da-Shoileach, the Headland of the Two Sallows.
And as to Diarmuid, after Angus and Grania going from him, he stood up as straight as a pillar and put on his armour and his arms, and after that he went to a door of the seven doors he had made, and he asked who was at it. “There is no enemy to you here,” they said, “for there are here Oisin and Osgar and the best men of the sons of Baiscne along with us. And come out to us now, and no one will have the daring to do any harm or hurt on you.” “I will not go out to you,” said Diarmuid, “till I see at what door Finn himself is.” He went then to another door of the seven and asked who was at it. “Caoilte, son of Ronan, and the rest of the sons of Ronan along with him; and come out to us now, and we will give ourselves for your sake.” “I will not go out to you,” said Diarmuid, “for I will not put you under Finn’s anger for any well-doing to myself.” He went on to another door then and asked who was at it. “There is Conan, son of Morna, and the rest of the sons of Morna along with him; and it is enemies to Finn we are, and you are a great deal more to us than he is, and you may come out and no one will dare lay a hand on you.” “I will not indeed,” said Diarmuid, “for Finn would be better pleased to see the death of every one of you than to let me escape.” He went then to another door and asked who was at it. “A friend and a comrade of your own, Fionn, son of Cuadan, head of the Fianna of Munster, and his men along with him; and we are of the one country and the one soil, and we will give our bodies and our lives for your sake.” “I will not go out to you,” said Diarmuid, “for I would not like Finn to have a grudge against you for any good you did to me.” He went then to another door and asked who was at it. “It is Fionn, son of Glor, head of the Fianna of Ulster, and his men along him; and come out now to us and there is no one will dare hurt or harm you.” “I will not go out to you,” said Diarmuid, “for you are a friend to me, and your father along with you, and I would not like the unfriendliness of Finn to be put on you for my sake.” He went then to another door, and he asked who was at it. “There is no friend of yours here,” they said, “for there is here Aodh Beag the Little from Eamhuin, and Aodh Fada the Long from Eamhuin, and Caol Crodha the Fierce, and Goineach the Wounder, and Gothan the White-fingered, and Aoife his daughter, and Cuadan the Tracker from Eamhuin; and we are unfriendly people to you, and if you come out to us we will not spare you at all, but will make an end of you.” “It is a bad troop is in it,” said Diarmuid; “you of the lies and of the tracking and of the one shoe, and it is not fear of your hands is upon me, but because I am your enemy I will not go out.”
He went then to the last of the seven doors and asked who was at it. “No friend of yours,” they said, “but it is Finn, son of Cumhal, and four hundred paid fighting men along with him; and if you will come out to us we will make opened marrow of you.” “I give you my word, Finn,” said Diarmuid, “that the door you are at yourself is the first door I will pass out of.”
When Finn heard that, he warned his battalions on pain of lasting death not to let Diarmuid past them unknown. But when Diarmuid heard what he said, he rose on the staves of his spears and he went with a very high, light leap on far beyond Finn and his people, without their knowledge. He looked back at them then, and called out that he had gone past them, and he put his shield on his back and went straight on towards the west, and it was not long before he was out of sight of Finn and the Fianna. Then when he did not see any one coming after him, he turned back to where he saw Angus and Grania going out of the wood, and he followed on their track till he came to Ros-da-Shoileach.
He found Angus and Grania there in a sheltered, well-lighted cabin, and a great blazing fire kindled in it, and the half of a wild boar on spits. Diarmuid greeted them, and the life of Grania all to went out of her with joy before him.
Diarmuid told them his news from beginning to end, and they ate their share that night, and they went to sleep till the coming of the day and of the full light on the morrow. And Angus rose up early, and he said to Diarmuid: “I am going from you now, grandson of Duibhne; and I leave this advice with you,” he said, “not to go into a tree with one trunk, and you flying before Finn, and not to be going into a cave of the earth that has but one door, and not to be going to an island of the sea that has but one harbour. And in whatever place you cook your share of food,” he said, “do not eat it there; and in whatever place you eat it, do not lie down there; and in whatever place you lie down, do not rise up there on the morrow.” He said farewell to them after that, and went his way.
Then Diarmuid and Grania went along the right bank of the Sionnan westward till they came to Garbh-abha-na-Fiann, the rough river of the Fianna. And Diarmuid killed a salmon on the brink of the river, and put it to the fire on a spit. Then he himself and Grania went across the stream to eat it, as Angus bade them; and then they went westward to sleep.
They rose up early on the morrow, and they travelled straight westward till they came to the marsh of Finnliath.
And on the marsh they met with a young man, having a good shape and appearance, but without fitting dress or arms. Diarmuid greeted the young man, and asked news of him. “A fighting lad I am, looking for a master,” he said, “and Muadhan is my name.” “What would you do for me, young man?” said Diarmuid. “I would be a servant to you in the day, and watch for you in the night,” he said. “I tell you to keep that young man,” said Grania, “for you cannot be always without people.”
Then they made an agreement with him, and bound one another, and they went on together westward till they reached the Carrthach river. And then Muadhan bade Diarmuid and Grania to go up on his back till he would carry them over the stream.
“That would be a big load for you,” said Grania. But he put them upon his back and carried them over. Then they went on till they came to the Beith, and Muadhan brought them over on his back the same way. And they went into a cave at the side of Currach Cinn Adhmuid, the Woody Headland of the Bog, over Tonn Toime, and Muadhan made ready beds of soft rushes and tops of the birch for them in the far end of the cave. And he went himself into the scrub that was near, and took a straight long rod of a quicken-tree, and he put a hair and a hook on the rod, and a holly berry on the hook, and he went up the stream, and he took a salmon with the first cast. Then he put on a second berry and killed another fish, and he put on a third berry and killed the third fish. Then he put the hook and the hair under his belt, and struck the rod into the earth, and he brought the three salmon where Diarmuid and Grania were, and put them on spits. When they were done, Muadhan said: “I give the dividing of the fish to you, Diarmuid.” “I would sooner you to divide it than myself,” said Diarmuid. “I will give the dividing of the fish to you, so, Grania,” said he. “I am better satisfied you to divide it,” said Grania. “If it was you that divided the fish, Diarmuid,” said Muadhan, “you would have given the best share to Grania; and if it was Grania divided it, she would have given you the best share; and as it is myself is dividing it, let you have the biggest fish, Diarmuid, and let Grania have the second biggest, and I myself will have the one is smallest.”
They spent the night there, and Diarmuid and Grania slept in the far part of the cave, and Muadhan kept watch for them until the rising of the day and the full light of the morrow.
Diarmuid rose up early, and he bade Grania keep watch for Muadhan, and that he himself would go and take a walk around the country. He went out then, and he went up on a hill that was near, and he was looking about him, east and west, north and south. He was not long there till he saw a great fleet of ships coming from the west, straight to the bottom of the hill where he was. And when they were come to land, nine times nine of the chief men of the ships came on shore, and Diarmuid went down and greeted them, and asked news of them, and to what country they belonged.
“Three kings we are of the Green Champions of Muir-na-locht,” said they; “and Finn, son of Cumhal, sent looking for us by cause of a thief of the woods, and an enemy of his own that has gone hiding from him; and it is to hinder him we are come. And we are twenty hundred good fighting men, and every one of us is a match for a hundred, and besides that,” he said, “we have three deadly hounds with us; fire will not burn them, and water will not drown them, and arms will not redden on them, and we will lay them on his track, and it will be short till we get news of him. And tell us who you are yourself?” they said, “and have you any word of the grandson of Duibhne?” “I saw him yesterday,” said Diarmuid; “and I myself,” he said, “am but a fighting man, walking the world by the strength of my hand and by the hardness of my sword. And by my word,” he said, “you will know Diarmuid’s hand when you will meet it.” “Well, we found no one up to this,” said they. “What are your own names?” said Diarmuid. “Dubh-chosach, the Black-footed, Fionn-chosach, the Fair-footed, and Treun-chosach, the Strong-footed,” they said.
“Is there wine in your ships?” said Diarmuid. “There is,” said they. “If you have a mind to bring out a tun of wine,” said Diarmuid, “I will do a trick for you.” They sent men to get the tun, and when it came Diarmuid took it between his two hands and drank a drink out of it, and the others drank what was left of it. Diarmuid took up the tun after that, and brought it to the top of the hill, and he went up himself on the tun, and let it go down the steep of the hill till it was at the bottom. And then he brought the tun up the hill again, and he himself on it coming and going, and he did that trick three times before the strangers. But they said he was a man had never seen a good trick when he called that a trick; and with that a man of them went up on the tun, but Diarmuid gave a stroke of his foot at it and the young man fell from it before it began to move, and it rolled over him and crushed him, that he died. And another man went on it, and another after him again, till fifty of them were killed trying to do Diarmuid’s trick, and as many of them as were not killed went back to their ships that night.
Diarmuid went back then to where he left Grania; and Muadhan put the hair and the hook on the rod till he killed three salmon; and they ate their meal that night, and he kept watch for them the same way he did before.
Diarmuid went out early the next day again to the hill, and it was not long till he saw the three strangers coming towards him, and he asked them would they like to see any more tricks. They said they would sooner get news of the grandson of Duibhne. “I saw a man that saw him yesterday,” said Diarmuid. And with that he put off his arms and his clothes, all but the shirt that was next his skin, and he struck the Crann Buidhe, the spear of Manannan, into the earth with the point upwards. And then he rose with a leap and lit on the point of the spear as light as a bird, and came down off it again without a wound on him. Then a young man of the Green Champions said: “It is a man has never seen feats that would call that a feat”; and he put off his clothing and made a leap, and if he did he came down heavily on the point of the spear, and it went through his heart, and he fell to the ground. The next day Diarmuid came again, and he brought two forked poles out of the wood and put them standing upright on the hill, and he put the sword of Angus Og, the Mor-alltach, the Big-fierce one, between the two forks on its edge. Then he raised himself lightly over it, and walked on the sword three times from the hilt to the point, and he came down and asked was there a man of them could do that feat.
“That is a foolish question,” said a man of them then, “for there was never any feat done in Ireland but a man of our own would do it.” And with that he rose up to walk on the sword; but it is what happened, he came down heavily on it the way he was cut in two halves.
The rest of the champions bade him take away his sword then, before any more of their people would fall by it; and they asked him had he any word of the grandson of Duibhne. “I saw a man that saw him today,” said Diarmuid, “and I will go ask news of him to-night.”
He went back then to where Grania was, and Muadhan killed three salmon for their supper, and kept a watch for them through the night. And Diarmuid rose up at the early break of day, and he put his battle clothes on him, that no weapon could go through, and he took the sword of Angus, that left no leavings after it, at his left side, and his two thick-handled spears, the Gae Buidhe and the Gae Dearg, the Yellow and the Red, that gave wounds there was no healing for. And then he wakened Grania, and he bade her to keep watch for Muadhan, and he himself would go out and take a look around.
When Grania saw him looking so brave, and dressed in his clothes of anger and of battle, great fear took hold of her, and she asked what was he going to do. “It is for fear of meeting my enemies I am like this,” said he. That quieted Grania, and then Diarmuid went out to meet the Green Champions.
They came to land then, and they asked had he news of the grandson of Duibhne. “I saw him not long ago,” said Diarmuid. “If that is so, let us know where is he,” said they, “till we bring his head to Finn, son of Cumhal.” “I would be keeping bad watch for him if I did that,” said Diarmuid, “for his life and his body are under the protection of my valour, and by reason of that I will do no treachery on him.” “Is that true?” said they. “It is true indeed,” said Diarmuid. “Let you yourself quit this place, so,” they said, “or we will bring your head to Finn since you are an enemy to him.” “It is in bonds I would be,” said Diarmuid, “the time I would leave my head with you.” And with that he drew his sword the Mor-alltach out of its sheath, and he made a fierce blow at the head nearest him that put it in two halves. Then he made an attack on the whole host of the Green Champions, and began to destroy them, cutting through the beautiful shining armour of the men of Muir-na-locht till there was hardly a man but got shortening of life and the sorrow of death, or that could go back to give news of the fight, but only the three kings and a few of their people that made their escape back to their ships. Diarmuid turned back then without wound or hurt on him, and he went to where Crania and Muadhan were. They bade him welcome, and Grania asked him did he hear any news of Finn and the Fianna of Ireland, and he said he did not, and they ate their food and spent the night there.
He rose up again with the early light of the morrow and went back to the hill, and when he got there he struck a great blow on his shield that set the strand shaking with the sound. And Dubh-chosach heard it, and he said he himself would go fight with Diarmuid, and he went on shore there and then.
And he and Diarmuid threw the arms out of their hands and rushed on one another like wrestlers, straining their arms and their sinews, knotting their hands on one another’s backs, fighting like bulls in madness, or like two daring hawks on the edge of a cliff. But at the last Diarmuid raised up Dubh-chosach on his shoulder and threw his body to the ground, and bound him fast and firm on the spot. And Fionn-chosach and Treun-chosach came one after the other to fight with him then, and he put the same binding on them; and he said he would strike the heads off them, only he thought it a worse punishment to leave them in those bonds. “For there is no one can free you,” he said. And he left them there, worn out and sorrowful.
The next morning after that, Diarmuid told Grania the whole story of the strangers from beginning to end, and of all he had done to them, and how on the fifth day he had put their kings in bonds. “And they have three fierce hounds in a chain ready to hunt me,” he said. “Did you take the heads off those three kings?” said Grania, “I did not,” said Diarmuid, “for there is no man of the heroes of Ireland can loosen those bonds but four only, Oisin, son of Finn, and Osgar, son of Oisin, and Lugaidh’s Son of the Strong Hand, and Conan, son of Morna; and I know well,” he said, “none of those four will do it. But all the same, it is short till Finn will get news of them, and it is best for us to be going from this cave, or Finn and the three hounds might come on us.”
After that they left the cave, and they went on till they came to the bog of Finnliath. Grania began to fall behind them, and Muadhan put her on his back and carried her till they came to the great Slieve Luachra. Then Diarmuid sat down on the brink of the stream that was flowing through the heart of the mountain, and Grania was washing her hands, and she asked his knife from him to cut her nails with.
As to the strangers, as many of them as were alive yet, they came to the hill where their three leaders were bound, and they thought to loose them; but it is the way those bonds were, all they did by meddling with them was to draw them tighter.
And they were not long there till they saw a woman coming towards them with the quickness of a swallow or a weasel or a blast of wind over bare mountain-tops. And she asked them who was it had done that great slaughter on them. “Who are you that is asking that?” said they. “I am the Woman of the Black Mountain, the woman-messenger of Finn, son of Cumhal,” she said; “and it is looking for you Finn sent me.” “Indeed we do not know who it was did this slaughter,” they said, “but we will tell you his appearance. A young man he was, having dark curling hair and ruddy cheeks. And it is worse again to us,” they said, “our three leaders to be bound this way, and we not able to loose them.” “What way did that young man go from you?” said the woman. “It was late last night he left us,” they said, “and we do not know where is he gone.” “I give you my word,” she said, “it was Diarmuid himself that was in it; and take your hounds now and lay them on his track, and I will send Finn and the Fianna of Ireland to you.”
They left a woman-Druid then attending on the three champions that were bound, and they brought their three hounds out of the ship and laid them on Diarmuid’s track, and followed them till they came to the opening of the cave, and they went into the far part of it and found the beds where Diarmuid and Crania had slept. Then they went on westward till they came to the Carrthach river, and to the bog of Finnliath, and so on to the great Slieve Luachra.
But Diarmuid did not know they were after him till he got sight of them with their banners of soft silk and their three wicked hounds in the front of the troop and three strong champions holding them in chains. And when he saw them coming like that he was filled with great hatred of them.
There was one of them had a well-coloured green cloak on him, and he came out far beyond the others, and Grania gave the knife back to Diarmuid. “I think you have not much love for that young man of the green cloak, Grania,” said Diarmuid. “I have not indeed,” said Grania; “and it would be better if I had never given love to any man at all to this day.” Diarmuid put the knife in the sheath then, and went on; and Muadhan put Grania on his back and carried her on into the mountain.
It was not long till a hound of the three hounds was loosed after Diarmuid, and Muadhan said to him to follow Grania, and he himself would check the hound. Then Muadhan turned back, and he took a whelp out of his belt, and put it on the flat of his hand. And when the whelp saw the hound rushing towards him, and its jaws open, he rose up and made a leap from Muadhan’s hand into the throat of the hound, and came out of its side, bringing the heart with it, and he leaped back again to Muadhan’s hand, and left the hound dead after him.
Muadhan went on then after Diarmuid and Grania, and he took up Grania again and carried her a bit of the way into the mountain. Then another hound was loosened after them, and Diarmuid said to Muadhan: “I often heard there is nothing can stand against weapons of Druid wounding, and the throat of no beast can be made safe from them. And will you stand now,” he said, “till I put the Gae Dearg, the Red Spear, through that hound.”
Then Muadhan and Grania stopped to see the cast. And Diarmuid made a cast at the hound, and the spear went through its body and brought out its bowels; and he took up the spear again, and they went forward.
It was not long after that the third hound was loosed. And Grania said then: “This is the one is fiercest of them, and there is great fear on me, and mind yourself now, Diarmuid.”
It was not long till the hound overtook them, and the place he overtook them was Lic Dhubhain, the flag-stone of Dubhan, on Slieve Luachra. He rose with a light leap over Diarmuid, as if he had a mind to seize on Grania, but Diarmuid took him by the two hind legs, and struck a blow of his carcase against the side of the rock was nearest, till he had let out his brains through the openings of his head and of his ears. And then Diarmuid took up his arms and his battle clothes, and put his narrow-topped finger into the silken string of the Gae Dearg, and he made a good cast at the young man of the green cloak that was at the head of the troop that killed him. Then he made another cast at the second man and killed him, and the third man in the same way. And as it is not the custom to stand after leaders are fallen, the strangers when they saw what had happened took to flight.
And Diarmuid followed after them, killing and scattering, so that unless any man of them got away over the forests, or into the green earth, or under the waters, there was not a man or messenger of them left to tell the news, but only the Woman-messenger of the Black Mountain, that kept moving around about when Diarmuid was putting down the strangers.
And it was not long till Finn saw her coming towards him where he was, her legs failing, and her tongue muttering, and her eyes drooping, and he asked news of her. “It is very bad news I have to tell you,” she said; “and it is what I think, that it is a person without a lord I am.” Then she told Finn the whole story from beginning to end, of the destruction Diarmuid had done, and how the three deadly hounds had fallen by him. “And it is hardly I myself got away,” she said. “What place did the grandson of Duibhne go to?” said Finn. “I do not know that,” she said.
And when Finn heard of the Kings of the Green Champions that were bound by Diarmuid, he called his men to him, and they went by every short way and every straight path till they reached the hill, and it was torment to the heart of Finn to see the way they were. Then he said: “Oisin,” he said, “loosen those three kings for me.” “I will not loosen them,” said Oisin, “for Diarmuid put bonds on me not to loosen any man he would bind.” “Loosen them, Osgar,” said Finn then. “I give my word,” said Osgar, “it is more bonds I would wish to put on them sooner than to loosen them.” Neither would Conan help them, or Lugaidh’s Son. And any way, they were not long talking about it till the three kings died under the hardness of the bonds that were on them.
Then Finn made three wide-sodded graves for them, and a flag-stone was put over them, and another stone raised over that again, and their names were written in branching Ogham, and it is tired and heavy-hearted Finn was after that; and he and his people went back to Almhuin of Leinster.
And as to Diarmuid and Grania and Muadhan, they went on through Ui Chonaill Gabhra, and left-hand ways to Ros-da-Shoileach, and Diarmuid killed a wild deer that night, and they had their fill of meat and of pure water, and they slept till the morning of the morrow. And Muadhan rose up early, and spoke to Diarmuid, and it is what he said, that he himself was going away. “It is not right for you to do that,” said Diarmuid, “for everything I promised you I fulfilled it, without any dispute.”
But he could not hinder him, and Muadhan said farewell to them and left them there and then, and it is sorrowful and downhearted Diarmuid and Grania were after him.
After that they travelled on straight to the north, to Slieve Echtge, and from that to the hundred of Ui Fiachrach; and when they got there Grania was tired out, but she took courage and went on walking beside Diarmuid till they came to the wood of Dubhros.
Now, there was a wonderful quicken-tree in that wood, and the way it came to be there is this:
There rose a dispute one time between two women of the Tuatha de Danaan, Aine and Aoife, daughters of Manannan, son of Lir, for Aoife had given her love to Lugaidh’s Son, and Aine had given her love to a man of her own race, and each of them said her own man was a better hurler than the other. And it came from that dispute that there was a great hurling match settled between the Men of Dea and the Fianna of Ireland, and the place it was to be played was on a beautiful plain near Loch Lein.
They all came together there, and the highest men and the most daring of the Tuatha de Danaan were there, the three Garbhs of Slieve Mis, and the three Mases of Slieve Luachra, and the three yellow-haired Murchadhs, and the three Eochaidhs of Aine, and the three Fionns of the White House, and the three Sgals of Brugh na Boinne, and the three Ronans of Ath na Riogh, and the Suirgheach Suairc, the Pleasant Wooer from Lionan, and the Man of Sweet Speech from the Boinn, and Ilbrec, the Many–Coloured, son of Manannan, and Neamhanach, son of Angus Og, and Bodb Dearg, son of the Dagda, and Manannan, son of Lir.
They themselves and the Fianna were playing the match through the length of three days and three nights, from Leamhain to the valley of the Fleisg, that is called the Crooked Valley of the Fianna, and neither of them winning a goal. And when the Tuatha de Danaan that were watching the game on each side of Leamhain saw it was so hard for their hurlers to win a goal against the Fianna, they thought it as well to go away again without playing out the game.
Now the provision the Men of Dea had brought with them from the Land of Promise was crimson nuts, and apples, and sweet-smelling rowan berries. And as they were passing through the district of Ui Fiachrach by the Muaidh, a berry of the rowan berries fell from them, and a tree grew up from it. And there was virtue in its berries, and no sickness or disease would ever come on any person that would eat them, and those that would eat them would feel the liveliness of wine and the satisfaction of mead in them, and any old person of a hundred years that would eat them would go back to be young again, and any young girl that would eat them would grow to be a flower of beauty.
And it happened one time after the tree was grown, there were messengers of the Tuatha de Danaan going through the wood of Dubhros. And they heard a great noise of birds and of bees, and they went where the noise was, and they saw the beautiful Druid tree. They went back then and told what they had seen, and all the chief men of the Tuatha de Danaan when they heard it knew the tree must have grown from a berry of the Land of the Ever–Living Living Ones. And they enquired among all their people, till they knew it was a young man of them, that was a musician, had dropped the berry.
And it is what they agreed, to send him in search of a man of Lochlann that would guard the tree by day and sleep in it by night. And the women of the Sidhe were very downhearted to see him going from them, for there was no harper could play half so sweetly on his harp as he could play on an ivy leaf.
He went on then till he came to Lochlann, and he sat down on a bank and sleep came on him. And he slept till the rising of the sun on the morrow; and when he awoke he saw a very big man coming towards him, that asked him who was he. “I am a messenger from the Men of Dea,” he said; “and I am come looking for some very strong man that would be willing to guard a Druid tree that is in the wood of Dubhros. And here are some of the berries he will be eating from morning to night,” he said.
And when the big man had tasted the berries, he said: “I will go and guard all the trees of the wood to get those berries.”
And his name was the Searbhan Lochlannach, the Surly One of Lochlann. Very black and ugly he was, having crooked teeth, and one eye only in the middle of his forehead. And he had a thick collar of iron around his body, and it was in the prophecy that he would never die till there would be three strokes of the iron club he had, struck upon himself. And he slept in the tree by night and stopped near it in the daytime, and he made a wilderness of the whole district about him, and none of the Fianna dared go hunt there because of the dread of him that was on them.
But when Diarmuid came to the wood of Dubhros, he went into it to where the Surly One was, and he made bonds of agreement with him, and got leave from him to go hunting in the wood, so long as he would not touch the berries of the tree. And he made a cabin then for himself and for Grania in the wood.
As for Finn and his people, they were not long at Almhuin till they saw fifty armed men coming towards them, and two that were taller and handsomer than the rest in the front of them. Finn asked did any of his people know them. “We do not know them,” they said, “but maybe you yourself know them, Finn.” “I do not,” he said; “but it seems to be they are enemies to myself.” The troop of armed men came up to them then and they greeted him, and Finn asked news of them, and from what country they came. “I am Aonghus, son of Art Og of the children of Morna,” one of them said, “and this is Aodh, son of Andela; and we are enemies of your own, and our fathers were at the killing of your father, and they themselves died for that deed. And it is to ask peace we are come now to you,” they said. “Where were you the time my father was killed?” “In our mothers’ wombs,” said they; “and our mothers were two women of the Tuatha de Danaan, and it is time for us now to get our father’s place among the Fianna.” “I will give you that,” said Finn, “but I must put a fine on you first in satisfaction for my father’s death.” “We have neither gold or silver or goods or cattle to give you, Finn,” said they. “Do not put a fine on them, Finn,” said Oisin, “beyond the death of their fathers for your father.” “It is what I think,” said Finn, “if any one killed myself, Oisin, it would be easy to pay the fine you would ask. And there will no one come among the Fianna,” he said, “without giving what I ask in satisfaction for my father’s death.” “What is it you are asking of us?” said Aonghus, son of Art Og. “I am asking but the head of a champion, or the full of a fist of the berries of the quicken-tree at Dubhros.” “I will give you a good advice, children of Morna,” said Oisin, “to go back to the place you were reared, and not to ask peace of Finn through the length of your lives. For it is not an easy thing Finn is asking of you; and do you know whose head he is asking you to bring him?” “We do not,” said they. “The head of Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne, is the head he is asking of you. And if you were twenty hundred men in their full strength, Diarmuid would not let you take that head.” “And what are the berries Finn is asking of us?” they said then. “There is nothing is harder for you to get than those berries,” said Oisin.
He told them then the whole story of the tree, and of the Searbhan, the Surly One of Lochlann, that was put to mind it by the Tuatha de Danaan. But Aodh, son of Andela, spoke then, and it is what he said, that he would sooner get his death looking for those berries than to go home again to his mother’s country. And he said to Oisin to care his people till he would come back again, and if anything should happen himself and his brother in their journey, to send them back again to the Land of Promise. And the two said farewell then to Oisin and to the chief men of the Fianna, and they went forward till they reached Dubhros. And they went along the wood till they found a track, and they followed it to the door of the hunting-cabin where Diarmuid and Grania were.
Diarmuid heard them coming, and he put his hand on his weapons and asked who was at the door. “We are of the children of Morna,” they said, “Aodh, son of Andela, and Aonghus, son of Art Og.” “What brings you to this wood?” said Diarmuid. “Finn, son of Cumhal, that put us looking for your head, if you are Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne,” said they. “I am indeed,” said Diarmuid. “If that is so,” they said, “Finn will take nothing from us but your head, or a fistful of the berries of the quicken-tree of Dubhros as satisfaction for the death of his father.” “It is not easy for you to get either of those things,” said Diarmuid, “and it is a pity for any one to be under the power of that man. And besides that,” he said, “I know it was he himself made an end of your fathers, and that was enough satisfaction for him to get; and if you do bring him what he asks, it is likely he will not make peace with you in the end.” “Is it not enough for you,” said Aodh, “to have brought his wife away from Finn without speaking ill of him?” “It is not for the sake of speaking ill of him I said that,” said Diarmuid, “but to save yourselves from the danger he has sent you into.”
“What are those berries Finn is asking?” said Grania, “that they cannot be got for him?”
Diarmuid told her then the whole story of the berry the Tuatha de Danaan had lost, and of the tree that had sprung up from it, and of the man of Lochlann that was keeping the tree. “And at the time Finn sent me hiding here and became my enemy,” he said, “I got leave from the Surly One to hunt, but he bade me never to meddle with the berries. And now, sons of Morna,” he said, “there is your choice, to fight with me for my head, or to go asking the berries of the Surly One.” “I swear by the blood of my people,” said each of them, “I will fight with yourself first.”
With that the two young men made ready for the fight. And it is what they chose, to fight with the strength of their hands alone. And Diarmuid put them down and bound the two of them there and then. “That is a good fight you made,” said Grania. “But, by my word,” she said, “although the children of Morna do not go looking for those berries, I will not lie in a bed for ever till I get a share of them; and I will not live if I do not get them,” she said. “Do not make me break my peace with the Surly One,” said Diarmuid, “for he will not let me take them.” “Loose these tyings from us,” said the two young men, “and we will go with you, and we will give ourselves for your sake.” “You must not come with me,” said Diarmuid; “for if you got the full of your eyes of that terrible one, you would be more likely to die than to live.” “Well, do us this kindness,” they said then; “loosen these bonds on us, and give us time to go by ourselves and see the fight before you strike off our heads.” So Diarmuid did that for them.
Then Diarmuid went to the Surly One, and he chanced to be asleep before him, and he gave him a stroke of his foot the way he lifted his head and looked up at him, and he said: “Have you a mind to break our peace, Grandson of Duibhne?” “That is not what I want,” said Diarmuid; “but it is Grania, daughter of the High King,” he said, “has a desire to taste those berries, and it is to ask a handful of them I am come.” “I give my word,” said he, “if she is to die for it, she will never taste a berry of those berries.” “I would not do treachery on you,” said Diarmuid; “and so I tell you, willing or unwilling, I will take those berries from you.”
When the Surly One heard that, he rose up on his feet and lifted his club and struck three great blows on Diarmuid, that gave him some little hurt in spite of his shield. But when Diarmuid saw him not minding himself, he threw down his weapons, and made a great leap and took hold of the club with his two hands. And when he had a hold of the club he struck three great blows on him that put his brains out through his head. And the two young men of the sons of Morna were looking at the whole fight; and when they saw the Surly One was killed they came out. And Diarmuid sat down, for he was spent with the dint of the fight, and he bid the young men to bury the body under the thickets of the wood, the way Grania would not see it. “And after that,” he said, “let you go back to her and bring her here.” So they dragged away the body and buried it, and they went then for Grania and brought her to Diarmuid.
“There are the berries you were asking, Grania,” he said, “and you may take what you like of them now.” “I give my word,” said Grania, “I will not taste a berry of those berries but the one your own hand will pluck, Diarmuid.” Diarmuid rose up then and plucked the berries for Grania, and for the children of Morna, and they ate their fill of them. And he said then to the young men: “Take all you can of these berries, and bring them with you to Finn, and tell him it was yourselves made an end of the Surly One of Lochlann.” “We give you our word,” said they, “we begrudge giving any of them to Finn.”
But Diarmuid plucked a load of the berries for them, and they gave him great thanks for all he had done; and they went back to where Finn was with the Fianna. And Diarmuid and Grania went up into the top of the tree where the bed of the Surly One was. And the berries below were but bitter berries beside the ones above in the tree. And when the two young men came to Finn, he asked news of them. “We have killed the Surly One of Lochlann,” they said; “and we have brought you berries from the quicken-tree of Dubhros, in satisfaction for your father, that we may get peace from you.” They gave the berries then into Finn’s hand, and he knew them, and he said to the young men: “I give you my word,” he said, “it was Diarmuid himself plucked those berries, for I know the smell of his hand on them; and I know well it was he killed the Surly One, and I will go now and see is he himself alive at the quicken-tree.”
After that he called for the seven battalions of the Fianna, and he set out and went forward to Dubhros. And they followed the track of Diarmuid to the foot of the quicken-tree, and they found the berries without protection, so they ate their fill of them. And the great heat of the day came on them, and Finn said they would stop where they were till the heat would be past; “for I know well,” he said, “Diarmuid is up in the quicken-tree.” “It is a great sign of jealousy in you, Finn,” said Oisin, “to think that Diarmuid would stop there up in the quicken-tree and he knowing you are wanting to kill him.”
Finn asked for a chess-board after that, and he said to Oisin: “I will play a game with you now on this.” They sat down then, Oisin and Osgar and Lugaidh’s Son and Diorraing on the one side of the board, and Finn on the other side.
And they were playing that game with great skill and knowledge, and Finn pressed Oisin so hard that he had no move to make but the one, and Finn said: “There is one move would win the game for you, Oisin, and I defy all that are with you to show you that move.” Then Diarmuid said up in the tree where he was, and no one heard him but Grania: “It is a pity you be in straits, and without myself to show you that move.” “It is worse off you are yourself,” said Grania, “to be in the bed of the Surly One of Lochlann in the top of the quicken-tree, and the seven battalions of the Fianna round about it to take your life.”
But Diarmuid took a berry of the tree, and aimed at the one of the chessmen that ought to be moved, and Oisin moved it and turned the game against Finn by that move. It was not long before the game was going against Oisin the second time, and when Diarmuid saw that he threw another berry at the chessman it was right to move, and Oisin moved it and turned the game against Finn in the same way. And the third time Finn was getting the game from Oisin, and Diarmuid threw the third berry on the man that would give the game to Oisin, and the Fianna gave a great shout when the game was won. Finn spoke then, and it is what he said: “It is no wonder you to win the game, Oisin, and you having the help of Osgar, and the watchfulness of Diorraing, and the skill of Lugaidh’s Son, and the teaching of the grandson of Duibhne with you.” “That is a great sign of jealousy in you, Finn,” said Osgar, “to think Diarmuid would stop in this tree, and you so near him.” “Which of us has the truth, Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne,” Finn said out then, “myself or Osgar?” “You never lost your good judgment, Finn,” said Diarmuid then; “and I myself and Grania are here, in the bed of the Surly One of Lochlann.” Then Diarmuid rose up and gave three kisses to Grania in the sight of Finn and the Fianna. And a scorching jealousy and a weakness came on Finn when he saw that, and he said: “It was worse to me, Diarmuid, the seven battalions of the Fianna to see what you did at Teamhair, taking away Grania the night you were yourself my guard. But for all that,” he said, “you will give your head for the sake of those three kisses.”
With that Finn called to the four hundred paid fighting men that were with him that they might make an end of Diarmuid; and he put their hands into one another’s hands around that quicken-tree, and bade them, if they would not lose their lives, not to let Diarmuid pass out through them. And he said that to whatever man would take Diarmuid, he would give his arms and his armour, and a place among the Fianna of Ireland.
Then one of the Fianna, Garbh of Slieve Cua, said it was Diarmuid had killed his own father, and he would avenge him now, and he went up the quicken-tree to make an end of him.
Now, about that time it was made known to Angus Og, in Brugh na Boinne, the danger Diarmuid was in, and he came to his help, unknown to the Fianna. And when Garbh of Slieve Cua was coming up the tree, Diarmuid gave him a kick of his foot, and he fell down among the hired men, and they struck off his head, for Angus Og had put the appearance of Diarmuid on him. But after he was killed, his own shape came on him again, and the Fianna knew that it was Garbh was killed.
Then Garbh of Slieve Crot said it was Diarmuid had killed his father, and he went up to avenge him, and the same thing happened. And in the end all the nine Garbhs, of Slieve Guaire, and Slieve Muice, and Slieve Mor, and Slieve Lugha, and Ath Fraoch, and Slieve Mis and Drom-mor, went trying to take Diarmuid’s life and lost their own lives, every one of them having the shape and appearance of Diarmuid when he died. And Finn was very sorry and discouraged when he saw that these nine men had come to their death.
Then Angus said he would bring away Grania with him. “Do so,” said Diarmuid; “and if I am living at evening I will follow you.” Then Angus said farewell to Diarmuid, and he put his Druid cloak about Grania and about himself, and they went away in the safety of the cloak, unknown to Finn and the Fianna, till they came to Brugh na Boinne.
Then Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne, spoke, and it is what he said: “I will come down to you, Finn, and to the Fianna. And I will do death and destruction on you and on your people, for I am certain your mind is made up to give me no rest, but to bring me to my death in some place. And I have nowhere to go from this danger,” he said, “for I have no friend or comrade under whose protection I could go in any far part of the great world, for it is often I fought against the men of the great world for love of you. For there never came battle or fight, danger or trouble on you, but I would go into it for your sake and the sake of the Fianna; and not only that, but I would fight before you and after you. And I give my word, Finn,” he said, “you will pay hard for me, and you will not get me as a free gift.” “It is the truth Diarmuid is speaking,” said Osgar, “and give him forgiveness now, and peace.” “I will not do that,” said Finn, “to the end of life and time; and he will not get peace or rest for ever till I get satisfaction from him for every reproach he has put on me.” “It is a great shame and a great sign of jealousy you to say that,” said Osgar. “And I give the word of a true champion,” he said, “that unless the skies come down upon me, or the earth opens under my feet, I will not let you or any one of the Fianna of Ireland give him cut or wound; and I take his body and his life under the protection of my valour, and I will keep him safe against all the men of Ireland.” “Those are big words you have, Osgar,” said Goll then, “to say you would bring a man away in spite of all the men of Ireland.” “It is not you will raise them up against me, Goll,” said Osgar, “for none of them would mind what you would say.” “If that is what you are saying, you champion of great fights,” said Goll, “let us see now what you can do.” “You will have to go through with the fight you have taken on yourself,” said Corrioll, son of Goll, in a loud voice. And Osgar answered him fiercely: “If I do I will shorten your bones, and your father’s bones along with them. And come down now, Diarmuid,” he said, “since Finn has no mind to leave you in peace, and I promise on my body and my life there will no harm be done to you today.”
Then Diarmuid stood up on a high bough of the boughs of the tree, and he rose with a light leap by the shaft of his spear, and lit on the grass far beyond Finn and the Fianna. And he himself and Osgar went towards one another, in spite of the Fianna that went between them, and Diarmuid struck down those that were in his way; and as to Osgar, the throwing of his spears as he scattered the Fianna was like the sound of the wind going through a valley, or water falling over flag-stones. And Conan, that was always bitter, said: “Let the sons of Baiscne go on killing one another.” But Finn, when he saw Diarmuid was gone from him, bade them put their weapons up, and turn back again to Almhuin.
And he sent those of his men that could be healed to places of healing, and the nine Garbhs, and the others of his men that were killed, he put into wide-sodded graves. And it is tired and downhearted and sorrowful he was after that, and he made an oath he would take no great rest till he would have avenged on Diarmuid all that he had done.
And as to Osgar and Diarmuid, they went on, and no cut or wound on them, to where Angus and Grania were at Brugh na Boinne; and there was a good welcome before them, and Diarmuid told them the whole story from beginning to end, and it is much that Grania did not die then and there, hearing all he had gone through.
And then she and Diarmuid set out again, and they went and stopped for a while in a cave that was near the sea.
And one night while they were there a great storm came on, so that they went into the far part of the cave. But bad as the night was, a man of the Fomor, Ciach, the Fierce One, his name was, came over the western ocean in a currach, with two oars, and he drew it into the cave for shelter. And Diarmuid bade him welcome, and they sat down to play chess together. And he got the best of the game, and what he asked as his winnings was Grania to be his wife, and he put his arms about her as if to bring her away. And Grania said: “I am this long time going with the third best man of the Fianna, and he never came as near as that to me.”
And Diarmuid took his sword to kill Ciach, and there was anger on Grania when she saw that, and she had a knife in her hand and she struck it into Diarmuid’s thigh. And Diarmuid made an end of the Fomor, and he said no word to Grania, but ran out and away through the storm.
And Grania went following after him, and calling to him, but there was great anger on him and he would not answer her. And at last at the break of day she overtook him, and after a while they heard the cry of a heron, and she asked him what was it made the heron cry out.
“Tell me that,” she said, “Grandson of Duibhne, to whom I gave my love.” And Diarmuid said: “O Grania, daughter of the High King, woman who never took a step aright, it is because she was frozen to the rocks she gave that cry.” And Grania was asking forgiveness of him, and he was reproaching her, and it is what he said: “O Grania of the beautiful hair, though you are more beautiful than the green tree under blossom, your love passes away as quickly as the cold cloud at break of day. And you are asking a hard thing of me now,” he said, “and it is a pity what you said to me, Grania, for it was you brought me away from the house of my lord, that I am banished from it to this day; and now I am troubled through the night, fretting after its delight in every place.
“I am like a wild deer, or a beast that is astray, going ever and always through the long valleys; there is great longing on me to see one of my kindred from the host.
“I left my own people that were brighter than lime or snow; their heart was full of generosity to me, like the sun that is high above us; but now they follow me angrily, to every harbour and every strand.
“I lost my people by you, and my lord, and my large bright ships on every sea; I lost my treasure and my gold; it is hunger you gave me through your love.
“I lost my country and my kindred; my men that were used to serve me; I lost quietness and affection; I lost the men of Ireland and the Fianna entirely.
“I lost delight and music; I lost my own right doing and my honour; I lost the Fianna of Ireland, my great kinsmen, for the sake of the love you gave me.
“O Grania, white as snow, it would have been a better choice for you to have given hatred to me, or gentleness to the Head of the Fianna.”
And Grania said: “O Diarmuid of the face like snow, or like the down of the mountains, the sound of your voice was dearer to me than all the riches of the leader of the Fianna.
“Your blue eye is dearer to me than his strength, and his gold and his great hall; the love-spot on your forehead is better to me than honey in streams; the time I first looked on it, it was more to me than the whole host of the King of Ireland.
“My heart fell down there and then before your high beauty; when you came beside me, it was like the whole of life in one day.
“O Diarmuid of the beautiful hands, take me now the same as before; it was with me the fault was entirely; give me your promise not to leave me.”
But Diarmuid said: “How can I take you again, you are a woman too fond of words; one day you give up the Head of the Fianna, and the next day myself, and no lie in it.
“It is you parted me from Finn, the way I fell under sorrow and grief; and then you left me yourself, the time I was full of affection.”
And Grania said: “Do not leave me now this way, and my love for you ever growing like the fresh branches of the tree with the kind long heat of the day.”
But Diarmuid would not give in to her, and he said: “You are a woman full of words, and it is you have put me under sorrow. I took you with myself, and you struck at me for the sake of the man of the Fomor.”
They came then to a place where there was a cave, and water running by it, and they stopped to rest; and Grania said: “Have you a mind to eat bread and meat now, Diarmuid?”
“I would eat it indeed if I had it,” said Diarmuid.
“Give me a knife, so,” she said, “till I cut it.” “Look for the knife in the sheath where you put it yourself,” said Diarmuid.
She saw then that the knife was in his thigh where she had struck it, for he would not draw it out himself. So she drew it out then; and that was the greatest shame that ever came upon her.
They stopped then in the cave. And the next day when they went on again, Diarmuid did not leave unbroken bread like he had left every other day as a sign to Finn that he had kept his faith with him, but it was broken bread he left after him.
And they went on wandering after that, all through Ireland, hiding from Finn in every place, sleeping under the cromlechs, or with no shelter at all, and there was no place they would dare to stop long in. And wherever they went Finn would follow them, for he knew by his divination where they went. But one time he made out they were on a mountain, for he saw them with heather under them; and it was beside the sea they were, asleep on heather that Diarmuid had brought down from the hills for their bed; and so he went searching the hills and did not find them.
And Grania would be watching over Diarmuid while he slept, and she would make a sleepy song for him, and it is what she would be saying:
“Sleep a little, a little little, for there is nothing at all to fear, Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne; sleep here soundly, soundly, Diarmuid, to whom I have given my love.
“It is I will keep watch for you, grandchild of shapely Duibhne; sleep a little, a blessing on you, beside the well of the strong field; my lamb from above the lake, from the banks of the strong streams.
“Let your sleep be like the sleep in the South, of Dedidach of the high poets, the time he took away old Morann’s daughter, for all Conall could do against him.
“Let your sleep be like the sleep in the North, of fair comely Fionnchadh of Ess Ruadh, the time he took Slaine with bravery as we think, in spite of Failbhe of the Hard Head.
“Let your sleep be like the sleep in the West, of Aine, daughter of Gailian, the time she went on a journey in the night with Dubhthach from Doirinis, by the light of torches.
“Let your sleep be like the sleep in the East, of Deaghadh the proud, the brave fighter, the time he took Coincheann, daughter of Binn, in spite of fierce Decheall of Duibhreann.
“O heart of the valour of the lands to the west of Greece, my heart will go near to breaking if I do not see you every day. The parting of us two will be the parting of two children of the one house; it will be the parting of life from the body, Diarmuid, hero of the bright lake of Carman.”
And then to rouse him she would make another song, and it is what she would say: “Caoinche will be loosed on your track; it is not slow the running of Caoilte will be; do not let death reach to you, do not give yourself to sleep for ever.
“The stag to the east is not asleep, he does not cease from bellowing; though he is in the woods of the blackbirds, sleep is not in his mind; the hornless doe is not asleep, crying after her speckled fawn; she is going over the bushes, she does not sleep in her home.
“The cuckoo is not asleep, the thrush is not asleep, the tops of the trees are a noisy place; the duck is not asleep, she is made ready for good swimming; the bog lark is not asleep to-night on the high stormy bogs; the sound of her clear voice is sweet; she is not sleeping between the streams.”
One time they were in a cave of Beinn Edair, and there was an old woman befriending them and helping them to keep a watch. And one day she chanced to go up to the top of Beinn Edair, and she saw an armed man coming towards her, and she did now know him to be Finn; and when he was come near she asked what was he looking for. “It is looking for a woman I am come,” he said, “and for a woman’s love. And will you do all I will ask you?” he said.
“I will do that,” she said; for she thought it was her own love he was asking.
“Tell me then,” he said, “where is Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne?”
So she told him where he was hiding, and he bade her to keep him in the cave till such time as he would come back with his men.
The old woman went back then, and it is what she did, she dipped her cloak in the sea-water before she went into the cave; and Diarmuid asked her why was her cloak so wet. “It is,” she said, “that I never saw or never heard of the like of this day for cold and for storms. There is frost on every hillside,” she said, “and there is not a smooth plain in all Elga where there is not a long rushing river between every two ridges. And there is not a deer or a crow in the whole of Ireland can find a shelter in any place.” And she was shaking the wet off her cloak, and she was making a complaint against the cold, and it is what she said:
“Cold, cold, cold to-night is the wide plain of Lurg; the snow is higher than the mountains, the deer cannot get at their share of food.
“Cold for ever; the storm is spread over all; every furrow on the hillside is a river, every ford is a full pool, every full loch is a great sea; every pool is a full loch; horses cannot go through the ford of Ross any more than a man on his two feet.
“The fishes of Inisfail are going astray; there is no strand or no pen against the waves; there are no dwellings in the country, there is no bell heard, no crane is calling.
“The hounds of the wood of Cuan find no rest or no sleep in their dwelling-place; the little wren cannot find shelter in her nest on the slope of Lon.
“A sharp wind and cold ice have come on the little company of birds; the blackbird cannot get a ridge to her liking or shelter for her side in the woods of Cuan.
“It is steady our great pot hangs from its hook; it is broken the cabin is on the slope of Lon; the snow has made the woods smooth, it is hard to climb to the ridge of Bennait Bo.
“The ancient bird of Glen Ride gets grief from the bitter wind; it is great is her misery and her pain, the ice will be in her mouth.
“Mind well not to rise up from coverings and from down, mind this well; there would be no good sense in it. Ice is heaped up in every ford; it is for that I am saying and ever saying ‘Cold.’”
The old woman went out after that, and when she was gone, Grania took hold of the cloak she had left there and she put her tongue to it, and found the taste of salt water on it. “My grief, Diarmuid,” she said then, “the old woman has betrayed us. And rise up now,” she said, “and put your fighting suit upon you.”
So Diarmuid did that, and he went out, and Grania along with him. And no sooner were they outside than they saw Finn and the Fianna of Ireland coming towards them. Then Diarmuid looked around him and he saw a little boat at hand in the shelter of the harbour, and he himself and Grania went into it. And there was a man before them in the boat having beautiful clothes on him, and a wide embroidered golden-yellow cloak over his shoulders behind. And they knew it was Angus was in it, that had come again to help them to escape from Finn, and they went back with him for a while to Brugh na Boinne, and Osgar came to them there.
And after a while Finn bade his people to make his ship ready, and to put a store of food and of drink in it. They did that, and he himself and a thousand of his men went into the ship; and they were nine days between sailing and rowing till they came to harbour in the north of Alban.
They bound the ship to the posts of the harbour then, and Finn with five of his people went to the dun of the King of Alban, and Finn struck a blow with the hand-wood on the door, and the door-keeper asked who was in it, and they told him it was Finn, son of Cumhal. “Let him in,” said the king.
Then Finn and his people went in, and the king made them welcome, and he bade Finn to sit down in his own place, and they were given strong pleasant drinks, and the king sent for the rest of Finn’s people and bade them welcome to the dun.
Then Finn told what it was brought him there, and that it was to ask help and advice against the grandson of Duibhne he was come.
“And you have a right to give me your help,” he said, “for it was he that killed your father and your two brothers, and many of your best men along with them.”
“That is true,” said the king; “and I will give you my own two sons and a thousand men with each of them.” Finn was glad when he heard that, and he and his men took leave of the king and of his household, and left wishes for life and health with them, and the king did the same by them.
And it was near Brugh na Boinne Finn and his people came to land, and Finn sent messengers to the house of Angus to give out a challenge of battle against Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne.
“What should I do about this, Osgar?” said Diarmuid.
“We will both go out and make a stand against them, and we will not let a serving-man of them escape, but we will make an end of them all,” said Osgar.
So they rose up on the morning of the morrow and they put their suits of battle on their comely bodies; and it would be a pity for those, be they many or few, that would meet those two men, and their anger on them. And they bound the rims of their shields together the way they would not be parted from one another in the right. And the sons of the King of Alban said that they themselves and their people would go first to meet them. So they came to shore, and made a rush to meet Diarmuid and Osgar. But the two fought so well that they beat them back and scattered them, and made a great slaughter, and put great terror on them, so that at the last there was not a man left to stand against them.
And after that, Finn went out again on the sea, and his people with him, and there is no word of them till they came to the Land of Promise where Finn’s nurse was. And when she saw Finn coming she was very joyful before him. And Finn told her the whole story from beginning to end, and the cause of his quarrel with Diarmuid; and he said it was to ask an advice from her he was come, and that it was not possible to put him down by any strength of an army, unless enchantment would put him down. “I will go with you,” said the old woman, “and I will do enchantment on him.” Finn was very glad when he heard that, and he stopped there that night, and they set out for Ireland on the morrow.
And when they came to Brugh na Boinne, the nurse put a Druid mist around Finn and the Fianna, the way no one could know they were there. Now the day before that, Osgar had parted from Diarmuid, and Diarmuid was out hunting by himself. That was shown to the hag, and she took a drowned leaf having a hole in it, like the quern of a mill, and she rose with that by her enchantments on a blast of Druid wind over Diarmuid, and began to aim at him through the hole with deadly spears, till she had done him great harm, for all his arms and his clothing, and he could not make away he was so hard pressed. And every danger he was ever in was little beside that danger. And it is what he thought, that unless he could strike the old woman through the hole that was in the leaf, she would give him his death there and then. And he lay down on his back, and the Gae Dearg, the Red Spear, in his hand, and he made a great cast of the spear, that it went through the hole, and the hag fell dead on the spot. And he struck off her head and brought it back with him to Angus Og.
And the next morning early, Angus rose up, and he went where Finn was, and he asked would he make peace with Diarmuid, and Finn said he would. And then he went to the King of Ireland to ask peace for Diarmuid, and he said he would agree to it.
And then he went back to where Diarmuid and Grania were, and asked him would he make peace with the High King and with Finn. “I am willing,” said Diarmuid, “if they will give the conditions I will ask.” “What conditions are those?” said Angus.
“The district my father had,” said Diarmuid, “that is, the district of Ui Duibhne, without right of hunting to Finn, and without rent or tribute to the King of Ireland, and with that the district of Dumhais in Leinster, for they are the best in Ireland, and the district of Ceis Corainn from the King of Ireland as a marriage portion with his daughter; and those are the conditions on which I will make peace with them.” “Would you be peaceable if you got those conditions?” said Angus. “It would go easier with me to make peace if I got them,” said Diarmuid.
Then Angus went with that news to where the King of Ireland was with Finn. And they gave him all those conditions, and they forgave him all he had done through the whole of the time he had been in his hiding, that was sixteen years.
And the place Diarmuid and Grania settled in was Rath Grania, in the district of Ceis Corainn, far away from Finn and from Teamhair. And Grania bore him children there, four sons and one daughter. And they lived there in peace, and the people used to be saying there was not a man living at the same time was richer as to gold and to silver, as to cattle and to sheep, than Diarmuid.
But at last one day Grania spoke to Diarmuid, and it is what she said, that it was a shame on them, with all the people and the household they had, and all their riches, the two best men in Ireland never to have come to the house, the High King, her father, and Finn, son of Cumhal. “Why do you say that, Grania,” said Diarmuid, “and they being enemies to me?”
“It is what I would wish,” said Grania, “to give them a feast, the way you would get their affection.” “I give leave for that,” said Diarmuid.
So Grania was making ready a great feast through the length of a year, and messengers were sent for the High King of Ireland, and for Finn and the seven battalions of the Fianna; and they came, and they were using the feast from day to day through the length of a year.
And on the last night of the year, Diarmuid was in his sleep at Rath Grania; and in the night he heard the voice of hounds through his sleep, and he started up, and Grania caught him and put her two arms about him, and asked what had startled him. “The voice of a hound I heard,” said he; “and it is a wonder to me to hear that in the night.” “Safe keeping on you,” said Grania, “for it is the Tuatha de Danaan are doing that on you, on account of Angus of Brugh na Boinn, and lie down on the bed again.” But for all that no sleep came to him, and he heard the voice of the hound again, and he started up a second time to follow after it. But Grania caught hold of him the second time and bade him to lie down, and she said it was no fitting thing to go after the voice of a hound in the night. So he lay down again, and he fell asleep, but the voice of the hound awakened him the third time. And the day was come with its full light that time, and he said: “I will go after the voice of the hound now, since the day is here.” “If that is so,” said Grania, “bring the Mor-alltach, the Great Fierce One, the sword of Manannan, with you, and the Gae Dearg.” “I will not,” he said; “but I will take the Beag-alltach, the Little Fierce One, and the Gae Buidhe in the one hand, and the hound Mac an Chuill, the Son of the Hazel, in the other hand.”
Then Diarmuid went out of Rath Grania, and made no delay till he came to the top of Beinn Gulbain, and he found Finn before him there, without any one at all in his company. Diarmuid gave him no greeting, but asked him was it he was making that hunt. Finn said it was not a hunt he was making, but that he and some of the Fianna had gone out after midnight; “and one of our hounds that was loose beside us, came on the track of a wild boar,” he said, “and they were not able to bring him back yet. And there is no use following that boar he is after,” he said, “for it is many a time the Fianna hunted him, and he went away from them every time till now, and he has killed thirty of them this morning. And he is coming up the mountain towards us,” he said, “and let us leave this hill to him now.”
“I will not leave the hill through fear of him,” said Diarmuid. “It would be best for you, Diarmuid,” said Finn, “for it is the earless Green Boar of Beinn Gulbain is in it, and it is by him you will come to your death, and Angus knew that well when he put bonds on you not to go hunting pigs.” “I never knew of those bonds,” said Diarmuid; “but however it is, I will not quit this through fear of him. And let you leave Bran with me now,” he said, “along with Mac an Chuill.” “I will not,” said Finn, “for it is often he met this boar before and could do nothing against him.” He went away then and left Diarmuid alone on the top of the hill. “I give my word,” said Diarmuid, “you made this hunt for my death, Finn; and if it is here I am to find my death,” he said, “I have no use in going aside from it now.”
The boar came up the face of the mountain then, and the Fianna after him. Diarmuid loosed Mac an Chuill from his leash then, but that did not serve him, for he did not wait for the boar, but ran from him. “It is a pity not to follow the advice of a good woman,” said Diarmuid, “for Grania bade me this morning to bring the Mor-alltach and the Gae Dearg with me.” Then he put his finger into the silken string of the Gae Buidhe, and took a straight aim at the boar and hit him full in the face; but if he did, the spear did not so much as give him a scratch. Diarmuid was discouraged by that, but he drew the Beag-alltach, and made a full stroke at the back of the boar, but neither did that make a wound on him, but it made two halves of the sword. Then the boar made a brave charge at Diarmuid, that cut the sod from under his feet and brought him down; but Diarmuid caught hold of the boar on rising, and held on to him, having one of his legs on each side of him, and his face to his hinder parts. And the boar made away headlong down the hill, but he could not rid himself of Diarmuid; and he went on after that to Ess Ruadh, and when he came to the red stream he gave three high leaps over it, backwards and forwards, but he could not put him from his back, and he went back by the same path till he went up the height of the mountain again. And at last on the top of the mountain he freed himself, and Diarmuid fell on the ground. And then the boar made a rush at him, and ripped him open, that his bowels came out about his feet. But if he did, Diarmuid made a cast at him with the hilt of his sword that was in his hand yet, and dashed out his brains, so that he fell dead there and then. And Rath na h-Amhrann, the Rath of the Sword Hilt, is the name of that place to this day.
It was not long till Finn and the Fianna of Ireland came to the place, and the pains of death were coming on Diarmuid at that time. “It is well pleased I am to see you that way, Diarmuid,” said Finn; “and it is a pity all the women of Ireland not to be looking at you now, for your great beauty is turned to ugliness, and your comely shape to uncomeliness.” “For all that, you have power to heal me, Finn,” said Diarmuid, “if you had a mind to do it.” “What way could I heal you?” said Finn. “Easy enough,” said Diarmuid, “for the time you were given the great gift of knowledge at the Boinn, you got this gift with it, that any one you would give a drink to out of the palms of your hands would be young and well again from any sickness after it.” “You are not deserving of that drink from me,” said Finn. “That is not true,” said Diarmuid; “it is well I deserve it from you; for the time you went to the house of Dearc, son of Donnarthadh, and your chief men with you for a feast, your enemies came round the house, and gave out three great shouts against you, and threw fire and firebrands into it. And you rose up and would have gone out, but I bade you to stop there at drinking and pleasure, for that I myself would go out and put them down. And I went out, and put out the flames, and made three red rushes round the house, and I killed fifty in every rush, and I came in again without a wound. And it is glad and merry and in good courage you were that night, Finn,” he said, “and if it was that night I had asked a drink of you, you would have given it; and it would be right for you to give it to me now.” “That is not so,” said Finn; “it is badly you have earned a drink or any good thing from me; for the night you went to Teamhair with me, you took Grania away from me in the presence of all the men of Ireland, and you being my own guard over her that night.”
“Do not blame me for that, Finn,” said Diarmuid, “for what did I ever do against you, east or west, but that one thing; and you know well Grania put bonds on me, and I would not fail in my bonds for the gold of the whole world. And you will know it is well I have earned a drink from you, if you bring to mind the night the feast was made in the House of the Quicken Tree, and how you and all your men were bound there till I heard of it, and came fighting and joyful, and loosed you with my own blood, and with the blood of the Three Kings of the Island of the Floods; and if I had asked a drink of you that night, Finn, you would not have refused it. And I was with you in the smiting of Lon, son of Liobhan, and you are the man that should not forsake me beyond any other man. And many is the strait has overtaken yourself and the Fianna of Ireland since I came among you, and I was ready every time to put my body and my life in danger for your sake, and you ought not to do this unkindness on me now. And besides that,” he said, “there has many a good champion fallen through the things you yourself have done, and there is not an end of them yet; and there will soon come great misfortunes on the Fianna, and it is few of their seed will be left after them. And it is not for yourself I am fretting, Finn,” he said, “but for Oisin and Osgar, and the rest of my dear comrades, and as for you, Oisin, you will be left lamenting after the Fianna. And it is greatly you will feel the want of me yet, Finn,” he said; “and if the women of the Fianna knew I was lying in my wounds on this ridge, it is sorrowful their faces would be at this time.”
And Osgar said then: “Although I am nearer in blood to you, Finn, than to Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne, I will not let you refuse him this drink; and by my word,” he said, “if any prince in the world would do the same unkindness to Diarmuid that you have done, it is only the one of us that has the strongest hand would escape alive. And give him a drink now without delay,” he said.
“I do not know of any well at all on this mountain,” said Finn. “That is not so,” said Diarmuid, “for there is not nine footsteps from you the well that has the best fresh water that can be found in the world.”
Then Finn went to the well, and he took the full of his two hands of the water. But when he was no more than half-way back, the thought of Grania came on him, and he let the water slip through his hands, and he said he was not able to bring it. “I give my word,” said Diarmuid, “it was of your own will you let it from you.” Then Finn went back the second time to get the water, but coming back he let it through his hands again at the thought of Grania. And Diarmuid gave a pitiful sigh of anguish when he saw that. “I swear by my sword and by my spear,” said Osgar, “that if you do not bring the water without any more delay, Finn, there will not leave this hill but yourself or myself.” Finn went back the third time to the well after what Osgar said, and he brought the water to Diarmuid, but as he reached him the life went out of his body. Then the whole company of the Fianna that were there gave three great heavy shouts, keening for Diarmuid.
And Osgar looked very fiercely at Finn, and it is what he said, that it was a greater pity Diarmuid to be dead than if he himself had died. And the Fianna of Ireland had lost their yoke of battle by him, he said. “Let us leave this hill,” said Finn then, “before Angus and the Tuatha de Danaan come upon us, for although we have no share in the death of Diarmuid, he would not believe the truth from us.” “I give my word,” said Osgar, “if I had thought it was against Diarmuid you made the hunt of Beinn Gulbain, you would never have made it”
Then Finn and the Fianna went away from the hill, and Finn leading Diarmuid’s hound Mac an Chuill. But Oisin and Osgar and Caoilte and Lugaidh’s Son turned back again and put their four cloaks over Diarmuid, and then they went after the rest of the Fianna.
And when they came to the Rath, Grania was out on the wall looking for news of Diarmuid; and she saw Finn and the Fianna of Ireland coming towards her. Then she said: “If Diarmuid was living, it is not led by Finn that Mac an Chuill would be coming home.” And she was at that time heavy with child, and her strength went from her and she fell down from the wall. And when Oisin saw the way she was he bade Finn and the others to go on from her, but she lifted up her head and she asked Finn to leave Mac an Chuill with her. And he said he would not, and that he did not think it too much for him to inherit from Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne.
When Oisin heard that, he snatched the hound out of Finn’s hand and gave it to Grania, and then he followed after his people.
Then when Grania was certain of Diarmuid’s death she gave out a long very pitiful cry that was heard through the whole place, and her women and her people came to her, and asked what ailed her to give a cry like that. And she told them how Diarmuid had come to his death by the Boar of Beinn Gulbain in the hunt Finn had made. “And there is grief in my very heart,” she said, “I not to be able to fight myself with Finn, and I would not have let him go safe out of this place.”
When her people heard of the death of Diarmuid they gave three great heavy cries in the same way, that were heard in the clouds and the waste places of the sky. And then Grania bade the five hundred that she had for household to go to Beinn Gulbain for the body of Diarmuid.
And when they were bringing it back, she went out to meet them, and they put down the body of Diarmuid, and it is what she said:
“I am your wife, beautiful Diarmuid, the man I would do no hurt to; it is sorrowful I am after you to-night.
“I am looking at the hawk and the hound my secret love used to be hunting with; she that loved the three, let her be put in the grave with Diarmuid.
“Let us be glad to-night, let us make all welcome to-night, let us be open-handed to-night, since we are sitting by the body of a king.
“And O Diarmuid,” she said, “it is a hard bed Finn has given you, to be lying on the stones and to be wet with the rain. Ochone!” she said, “your blue eyes to be without sight, you that were friendly and generous and pursuing. O love! O Diarmuid! it is a pity it is he sent you to your death.
“You were a champion of the men of Ireland, their prop in the middle of the fight; you were the head of every battle; your ways were glad and pleasant.
“It is sorrowful I am, without mirth, without light, but only sadness and grief and long dying; your harp used to be sweet to me, it wakened my heart to gladness. Now my courage is fallen down, I not to hear you but to be always remembering your ways. Och! my grief is going through me.
“A thousand curses on the day when Grania gave you her love, that put Finn of the princes from his wits; it is a sorrowful story your death is today.
“Many heroes were great and strong about me in the beautiful plain; their hands were good at wrestling and at battle; Ochone! that I did not follow them.
“You were the man was best of the Fianna, beautiful Diarmuid, that women loved. It is dark your dwelling-place is under the sod, it is mournful and cold your bed is; it is pleasant your laugh was today; you were my happiness, Diarmuid.”
And she went back then into the Rath, and bade her people to bring the body to her there.
Now just at this time, it was showed to Angus at Brugh na Boinne that Diarmuid was dead on Beinn Gulbain, for he had kept no watch over him the night before.
And he went on the cold wind towards Beinn Gulbain, and his people with him, and on the way they met with Grania’s people that were bringing the body to the Rath.
And when they saw him they held out the wrong sides of their shields as a sign of peace, and Angus knew them; and he and his people gave three great terrible cries over the body of Diarmuid.
And Angus spoke then, and it is what he said: “I was never one night since the time I brought you to Brugh na Boinne, being nine months old, without keeping watch and protection over you till last night, Diarmuid, grandson of Duibhne; and now your blood has been shed and you have been cut off sharply, and the Boar of Beinn Gulbain has put you down, Diarmuid of the bright face and the bright sword. And it is a pity Finn to have done this treachery,” he said, “and you at peace with him.
“And lift up his body now,” he said, “and bring it to the Brugh in the lasting rocks. And if I cannot bring him back to life,” he said, “I will put life into him the way he can be talking with me every day.”
Then they put his body on a golden bier, and his spears over it pointed upwards, and they went on till they came to Brugh na Boinne.
And Grania’s people went to her and told her how Angus would not let them bring the body into the Rath, but brought it away himself to Brugh na Boinne. And Grania said she had no power over him.
And she sent out then for her four sons that were being reared in the district of Corca Ui Duibhne. And when they came she gave them a loving welcome, and they came into the Rath and sat down there according to their age. And Grania spoke to them with a very loud, clear voice, and it is what she said: “My dear children, your father has been killed by Finn, son of Cumhal, against his own bond and agreement of peace, and let you avenge it well upon him. And here is your share of the inheritance of your father,” she said, “his arms and his armour, and his feats of valour and power; and I will share these arms among you myself,” she said, “and that they may bring you victory in every battle. Here is the sword for Donnchadh,” she said, “the best son Diarmuid had; and the Gae Dearg for Eochaidh; and here is the armour for Ollann, for it will keep the body it is put on in safety; and the shield for Connla. And make no delay now,” she said, “but go and learn every sort of skill in fighting, till such time as you will come to your full strength to avenge your father.”
So they took leave of her then, and of their household.
And some of their people said: “What must we do now, since our lords will be going into danger against Finn and the Fianna of Ireland?” And Donnchadh, son of Diarmuid, bade them stop in their own places; “for if we make peace with Finn,” he said, “there need be no fear on you, and if not, you can make your choice between ourselves and him.” And with that they set out on their journey.
But after a while Finn went secretly and unknown to the Fianna to the place where Grania was, and he got to see her in spite of all her high talk, and he spoke gently to her. And she would not listen to him, but bade him to get out of her sight, and whatever hard thing her tongue could say, she said it. But all the same, he went on giving her gentle talk and loving words, till in the end he brought her to his own will.
And there is no news told of them, until such time as they came to where the seven battalions of the Fianna were waiting for Finn. And when they saw him coming, and Grania with him, like any new wife with her husband, they gave a great shout of laughter and of mockery, and Grania bowed down her head with shame, “By my word, Finn,” said Oisin, “you will keep a good watch on Grania from this out.”
And some said the change had come on her because the mind of a woman changes like the water of a running stream; but some said it was Finn that had put enchantment on her.
And as to the sons of Diarmuid, they came back at the end of seven years, after learning all that was to be learned of valour in the far countries of the world. And when they came back to Rath Grania they were told their mother was gone away with Finn, son of Cumhal, without leaving any word for themselves or for the King of Ireland. And they said if that was so, there was nothing for them to do. But after that they said they would make an attack on Finn, and they went forward to Almhuin, and they would take no offers, but made a great slaughter of every troop that came out against them.
But at last Grania made an agreement of peace between themselves and Finn, and they got their father’s place among the Fianna; and that was little good to them, for they lost their lives with the rest in the battle of Gabhra. And as to Finn and Grania, they stopped with one another to the end.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54