Stories, Myths & Legends

Volume Three Dindshenchas
Cnogba (Knowth)

Bua, daughter of Ruadri Ruad,
wife of Lug mac Cein of the redspears,
it is there her body was hidden:
over her was a great hill built up.

A hill had Bua in the midst of Bregia,
where the noble woman was laid,
in that spot yonder:–
the name of that hill is Cnogba.

But though easiest to utter
of its names be perfect Cnogba,
yet its more proper style is Cnocc Bui
down from Bua daughter of Ruadri.

Elcmar's daughter dwelt there:
Mider was the woman's darling:
a darling of her own was the prince,
the man from great and noble Sid Midir.

Englec, noble Elcmar's daughter,
was the darling of perfect Oengus;
Oengus, son of the loved Dagda,
was not the maiden's darling.

The illustrious Mac in Oc came
southward to Ceru Cermna
on the blazing hurrying Samain
to play with his fellow-warriors.

Mider came – alas the day!
he came upon her after they had gone,
he carries off with him Englec from her home
thence to the Sid of the men of Femen.

When noble Oengus heard
of the pursuit of his darling,
he went in search of her (I say sooth)
to the famous hill whence she was borne off.

This was the food of his band – bright feast –
blood-red nuts of the wood:
he casts the food from him on the ground;
he makes lamentation around the hillock.

Though it be called the Hill of Bua of combats,
this is the equal-valid counter-tale:
we have found that hence
from that 'nut-wailing' Cnogba is named.

By us is preserved together
the memory of the lay,
and whichever [of these tales] ye shall prefer
from it is named the region of surpassing worth.

There is another tale–'tis known to me–
of that hill, which Dubthach possesses:
it was made, though great the exploit,
by Bressal Bodibad.

In his time there fell a murrain on kine
in every place in Ireland,
except for seven cows and a bull that increased strength
for every farmer in his time.

By him is built the solid hill
in the likeness of Nimrod's tower,
so that from it he might pass to heaven,
–that is the cause why it was undertaken.

The men of all Erin came to make for him
that hill–all on one day:
the wight exacted from them hostages
for the work of that day.

His own sister said to him,
she would not let the sun run his course;
there should be no night but bright day
till the work reached completion.

His sister stretches forth her hands . . .
strongly she makes her druid spell:
the sun was motionless above her head;
she checked him on one spot.

Bresal came (lust seized him)
from the hill unto his sister:
the host made of it a marvel:
he found her at Ferta Cuile.

He went in unto her, though it was a crime,
though it was a violation of his sister:
on this wise the hill here
is called Ferta Cuile.

When it was no longer day for them thereafter
(it is likely that it was night),
the hill was not brought to the top,
the men of Erin depart homeward.

From that day forth the hill remains
without addition to its height:
it shall not grow greater from this time onward
till the Doom of destruction and judgment.

It is Fland here –bright his art–
who tells this tale–no deceptive speech:
a choice story–spread it abroad, men and women!
lips, make mention of it among excellences!

Source:  Edward Gwynn, Metrical Dindshenchas vols 1 - 7 published 1925

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