With this reading, I am continuing the stories of the Old Irish hero Cú Chulainn. The last reading gave the story of his supernatural birth, and this story tells how he got the name Cú Chulainn. These stories are part of the cycle of ancient Irish myths known as "an Craobh Rua" - the Red Branch.
Bhí gabha mór i gCúige Uladh, agus Culann ab ainm dó. Rinne sé fleá i gcóir Chonchabhair agus a mhuintir. Nuair a bhí Conchabhar ag dul chun na fleá, ghabh sé thar an bhfaiche ina raibh buíon buachaillí ag imirt cluichí. D'fhéach sé ar feadh tamaill orthu, agus chonaic sé conas mar a bhí an lámh in uachatar ag mac Deichtire orthu go léir sa chluiche.
"Fóirfidh an buachaill beag sin ar Chúige Uladh go fóill," ar Conchabhar. "Agus glaoigí anall chugam anois air," ar seisean, "agus tagadh sé liom chun fleá an ghabha."
"Ní féidir liom dul leat anois," arsa Séadanta, nuair a ghlaoigh siad air, "óir níl a ndóthain imeartha ag na buachaillí seo fós."
"Bheadh sé rófhada, dá bhfanfainn leat," arsa an rí.
"Ní gá dhuit fanúint. Leanfaidh mé lorg na gcarbad," arsa Séadanta.
Mar sin, chuaigh Conchabhar chun tí an ghabha, agus bhí fáilte roimhe ann. Leagadh luachair úr amach, agus bhí dánta agus amhráin agus aithris dlíthe, agus tugadh an bia isteach, agus d'éirigh siad súgach.
Agus ansin dúirt Culann leis an rí: "An dtiocfaidh aon duine eile de do mhuintir i do dhiaidh anocht?"
"Ní thiocfaidh," arsa Conchabhar, mar dhearmad sé gur inis sé don bhuachaill beag é a leanúint. "Ach cén fáth a fhiafraíonn tú dom é sin?" ar seisean.
"Tá cú mór fíochmhar agam," arsa an gabha, "agus nuair a bhainaim an slabhra de, ní ligeann sé do dhuine ar bith teacht isteach sa cheantar, agus ní ghéilleann sé do dhuine ar bith ach mé féin, agus tá neart céad cú aige."
"Scaoil amach é," ar Conchabhar, "go gcuire sé faire ar an áit."
Dá bhrí sin scaoil Culann amach é, agus chuaigh an cú timpeall an cheantair go léir. Ansin tháinig sé chun na háite a luíodh sé de ghnáth, agus d'fhair sé an teach. Agus bhí faitíos ar ghach aon duine roimhe, mar bhí sé chomh fíochmhar agus chomh cruálach agus chomh hallta.
Agus maidir leis na buachaillí in Eamhain Macha, nuair a bhí deireadh leis an gcluiche acu, chuaigh gach aon duine chun tí a athar, nó chun tí cibé ar bith a bhí i bhfeighil air. Ach lean Séadanta lorg na gcarbad, ag giorrú na slí dó féin, mar a bhí de nós aige a dhéanamh, lena chamán agus a chrag iomána.
Nuair a tháinig sé chun na faiche ar aghaidh tí an ghabha, chuala an cú ag teacht é, agus thosaigh sé ag tafann chomh fíochmhar go gloisfí é ar fud Cúige Uladh. Thug an cú áladh ar Séadanta d'fhonn is an buachaill a stróicfeadh ina mhionbhlúirí agus a shlogfadh le haon bholgam amháin. Ní raibh d'arm ag Séadanta ach a chamán agus a chrag, ach nuair a chonaic sé an cú ag teacht chuige, bhuail sé an crag leis an oiread sin nirt go ndeachaigh sé síos i mbéal an chon, agus trína chorp. Ansin rug sé greim ar a chosa deiridh agus theilg sé in éadan carraige é go dtí nach raibh aon bheatha fágtha ann.
Nuair a chuala na fir istigh sa teach tafann an chon, d'éirigh Conchabhar de léim agus dúirt: "Ní de thoradh áidh a tharla sé seo, mar go deimhin is é mac mo dheirféar a chuir bás leis an gcú."
Leis sin bhrostaigh gach fear amach, gan fanúint le dul amach an doras, ach anuas na ballaí agus na claíocha leo dá mb'fhéidir leo é. Ach b'é Feargus an chéad duine a shroich an áit ina raibh an buachaill, agus thóg sé ar a ghualainn é, agus thug sé go slán sábháilte go dtí Conchabhar é, agus bhí áthas mór orthu go léir.
Ach chuaigh Culann, an gabha, amach leo, agus nuair a chonaic sé a chú mór sínte marbh briste, bhí brón mór ina chroí, agus tháinig sé isteach agus dúirt le Séadanta: "Níl fáilte mhaith romhat anseo."
"Cad atá ort in aghaidh an mhalraigh?" arsa Conchabhar.
"Ní h-é an t-ádh a thugann anseo é, ná faoi ndear dom an fhleá a ullmhú dhuit féin, a rí," ar seisean, "óir as seo amach, toisc mo chú a bheith marbh, beidh mo thoice scriosta, agus beidh mo shlí bheatha imithe. Agus a mhalraigh," ar seisean, "ba de mo theaghlach féin an cú sin a bhain tú díom, óir b'é cosantóir mo mhaoine agus mo thréada agus mo shealbháin agus gach aon rud a bhí agam é."
"Ná biodh aon fhearg/ ort faoi sin," arsa an buachaill, "is mé féin a dhíolfaidh duit as an rud a rinne mé."
"Conas a dhéanfaidh tú é sin?" arsa Conchabhar.
"Is í seo an chaoi a dhéanfaidh mé é: má tá aon choileán den phór céanna le fáil in Éirinn, tógfaidh mé é agus múinfidh mé é go dtí go mbeidh sé chomh maith leis an gcú a mharaigh mé. Agus go dtí an t-am sin, a Chulainn," ar seisean, "Is mé féin a bheidh mar ghadhar faire agat, déanfaidh mé do mhaoin a fhaire agus do bhólacht agus do theach."
"Is cóir an tairiscint a thug tú" arsa Conchabhar.
"Níor fhéadfainn breithiúnas níos fearr a thabhairt," arsa Cathbhadh, an Draoi. "Agus as seo," ar seisean, "is Cú Chulainn a thabharfar ort."
"Is fearr liom m'ainm féin, Séadanta Mac Sualdama," arsa an buachaill.
"Ná habair é sin," ar Cathbhadh, "óir lá éigin beidh ainm Chon Chulainn i mbéil na bhfear ar fud an domhain go léir."
"Más fíor sin, táim sásta é a choinneáil," arsa an buachaill.
Agus is í sin an chaoi a fuair sé an t-ainm Cú Chulainn.
There was a great smith in Ulster, and Culann was his name.(1) He held a feast for Connor (2) and his people. When Connor was going to the feast, he went by the lawn where the company of boys (3) were playing games. He watched them for a while, and he saw how the son of Deichtire (4) was beating all of them at the game.
"That little lad will come to the aid of Ulster yet," said Connor. "Summon him to me now," he said, "and let him go (5) with me to the Smith's feast."
"I can't go with you now," said Seadanta, when they summoned him, "because these boys have not yet had enough playing." (6)
"It would be too long, if I waited for you," said the king. (7)
"There's no need for you to wait. I'll follow the track of the chariots," said Seadanta.
So Connor went to the smith's house, and was welcomed there. Fresh rushes were laid out, and there were poems and songs and recitations of law, and the food was brought in, and they became merry.
And then Culann said to the king, "Will anyone else of your people be coming after you tonight?"
"No," (8) said Connor, for (9) he had forgotten that he told the little lad to follow him. "But why are you asking me this?" he said.
"I have a large fierce hound," said the smith, "and when I take the chain off him, he doesn't allow anyone to come into the district, and he doesn't obey anyone but me, and he has the strength of a hundred hounds."
"Let him loose," said Connor, "so he can guard (10) the place."
Therefore Culann let him loose, and the hound went around the entire district. Then he came back to where he was in the habit of lying (11) and he guarded the house. And everyone feared him, because he was so fierce and so cruel and so wild.
And as for the boys at Eamhain Macha, when they had finished with the game (12), everyone went to his father's house, or to whoever cared for him. But Seadanta followed the track of the chariots, shortening the way for himself as was his custom to do, with his hurling stick and his ball.
When he came to the lawn before the smith's house, the hound heard him coming, and began to bark so fiercely that he was heard throughout Ulster. The hound lunged at Seadanta hoping that he could tear the boy into tiny bits and swallow him with one bite. (13) Seadanta didn't have any weapon but his stick and ball, but when he saw the hound coming at him, he hit the ball with so much force that it went into the hound's mouth and through his body. Then he grabbed his back legs and threw him against a rock until there was no more life left in him.
When the men inside the house heard the baying of the hound, Connor rose up with a leap and said, "It is not as the result of luck that this has happened, for certainly that is the son of my sister who has met his death by the hound." (14)
With that, every man hurried out, without waiting to go out the door, but over the walls and the fences if they could. But Fergus was the first person to come to where (15) the boy was, and took him on his shoulder, and brought him safe and sound to Connor, and everyone was very happy.
But Culann, the smith, went out with them, and when he saw his great hound lying dead and broken, there was great sorrow in his heart, and he came in and said to Seadanta, "There is not a good welcome here for you."
"What have you got against the lad?" said Connor.
"It was not good fortune that brought him here, nor that caused me to prepare a feast for you, Oh king," he said, "for as a result of this, since my hound is dead, my wealth will be destroyed, my means of livelihood will be gone. And you lad," he said, "It was a good member of my family that you took from me, for he was the protector of my property, my flocks, my herds, and everything which I have.
"Don't be angry about this," said the boy, "I myself shall make this thing up to you for what I have done."
"How will you do that?" said Connor.
"This is how I'll do it: If there is a whelp of the same breed to be got in Ireland, I will get it and train it until it is as good as the hound which I killed. And until that time, Culann," he said, "I myself will be your watch dog, to watch you property and your cattle and your house."
"You have given a just offer," said Connor.
"I could not have given a better judgment," said Cathbhadh (16), the Druid. "And therefore," he said, "You will be called 'Cu Chulainn' (the Hound of Culann)."
"I prefer my own name, Seadanta Mac Sualdaim," said the boy.
"Don't say that," said Cathbhadh, "because some day the name Cu Chulainn will be in the mouths of men throughout the whole world."
"If that's true, I'm satisfied to keep it," said the boy.
And that is how he got the name Cu Chulainn.
(1) Literally "and Culann was a name to him." "Ab" is the past relative form of the copula "is".
(2) Conchabhar [kon@xu:r] - Usually rendered Connor in English, was a famous king of Ulster.
(3) The "company of boys" were boys attached to Connor's court who were learning how to become warriors.
(4) Deichtire was Connor's sister and the mother of Séadanta (Cú Chulainn) by the god Lúgh.
(5) Tugadh is a third person imperative.
(6) Literally "There is not their sufficiency of playing at the boys."
(7) Note the use of the conditional here in both parts of the conditional clause here. The conditional indicates that this is contrary to fact. It would be too long, if I waited (but I'm not going to wait.) The standard form for contrary to fact conditions is:
dá + conditional (or past subjunctive), conditional (or past subjunctive).
e.g. Dá bhfeicfinn (bhfeicinn) é, labharfainn (labharainn) leis.
If I saw him, I would speak to him.
OR If I had seen him, I would have talked to him.
A couple of points here. First either the conditional or the past subjunctive can be used (the past subjunctive is identical in form to the imperfect or past habitual. Also, Irish does not distinguish between present/future and past contrary to fact like English does--you have to get that from context.
(8) To say "yes" or "no" in Irish, the verb (with ní for the negative) is simply repeated.
(9) "Mar" followed by the direct relative ("a" with lenation) can mean either "as" or "for." "Mar" followed by the indirect relative ("a" with eclipsis in present, "ar" with lenation in past (except for irregular verbs) means "where."
(10) "Go" with the present subjunctive in a subordinate clause can be translated as "that/so that" or "until" depending on context. In an independent clause, "go" with the subjunctive indicates a wish, e.g. "Go mbeannaí Dia dhuit." May God bless you. "until" depending on context.
(11) Imperfect/past habitual.
(12) Literally, "when there was an end with the game at them."
(13) "strócfeadh" and "shlogfadh" are both in the conditional. "Faoi mar a" with the conditional is translated "as if ...".
(14) This should read: "is é mac mo dheirféar a fuair sé bás as siocair an chon."
(15) "chun na háite a raibh an buachaill ann." literally - to the place which the boy was in. "A" with eclipsis and requiring the dependent form of the verb (where one exists) is used here.
(16) Cathbhadh [kafa]
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