Stories, Myths and Legends

The Milesians Pt. 1

After the death of Mil, as we have said, Eber Donn and Eremon,
his two sons, took rule and chief government of Spain between themselves. 

There was a father's brother of Mil, Ith son of Bregan, with
them; he was expert and accomplished in knowledge and in
learning. Once when Ith, of a clear winter's evening was on top
of Bregan's Tower, contemplating and looking over the four
quarters of the world, it seemed to him that he saw a shadow and
a likeness of a land and lofty island far away from him.

He went back to his brethren, and told them what he had seen; and said
that he was mindful and desirous of going to see the land that had
appeared to him. Breg son of Bregan said that it was no land he
had seen but clouds of heaven, and he was hindering Ith from
going on that expedition. Ith did not consent to stay, however. 

Then Ith brought his ship on the sea, and came himself with
his son Lugaid son of Ith, and others of his people in it. They
sailed toward Ireland, and their adventures on sea are not
related, save only that they took harbor in Bentracht of Mag Itha. 

The neighbors went to the shore to interview them, and each
of them told news to the other in the Irish language. Ith asked
them the name of the land to which he had come, and who was in
authority over it. "Inis Elga," they said; "Mac
Cuill
, Mac Cecht, and Mac Greine are the names of its kings". 

It happened in that day that there were many chieftains and
nobles of Ireland in Ailech Neid, making peace between Mac Cuill
and his brethren; for they said that he had an excess of the
goods of Fiachna son of Delbaeth, who had died previously. When
Ith heard that, he went with his son and with two-thirds of his
people to Ailech. The kings welcomed him when he reached the
assembly, and after he was a while among them, they told him the
matter about which they were in opposition and contention between
them. And he said to them: 

"Do just righteousness. It is fitting for you to maintain
a good brotherhood. It is right for you to have a good
disposition. Good is the land and the patrimony you inhabit;
plenteous her harvest, her honey, her fish, her wheat, and her
other grain. Moderate her heat and her cold. All that is
sufficient for you is in her." Then he took farewell of them
and went to his ship. 

The nobles plotted to kill him, in jealousy for Ireland, and
for the testimony of praise he gave to their island; and they
sent a great number to follow him, so that he was wounded to
death in Mag Itha, and from him the plain took its name. He
reached his ship wounded and bleeding, by the valor and bravery
of his people; and he died with them in his ship on the sea. 

Then they reached Spain and showed the body of Ith to his
brethren, and they were anguished and sorrowful at his dying
thus. Then the sons of Mil and the posterity of Gaedel in general
thought it was fitting and proper for them to go and avenge their
brother on the Tuatha De Danann. They decided on this at last:
they collected their warriors and their men of valor from every
place where they were, through the lands and the districts, until
they were in one place in Brigantia, numerous and fully assembled. 

 

Then the sons of Mil, with their brethern and kinsmen,
and their people in general, brought their ships on the sea to go
to Ireland to avenge their bad welcome on the Tuatha De Danann.
Three score and five ships was the number of the expedition;
forty chiefs the number of their leaders, with Donn son of Mil at
their head. These are the names of their chiefs. 

Emer Donn, Eremon, Eber Finn, Ir, Amergin, Colptha, Airech Febra,
Erannan, Muimne, Luigne, Laigne, Palap, Er. Orba, Feron, Fergin, 
Eber son if Ir, Brega, Cuala, Cooley, Blad, Fuad, Buirthemne,
Eblinne, Nar, Lugaid, Lui, Bile, Buas, Bres, Buaigne, Fulman, Mantan, 
Caicer, Suirge, En, Un, Etan, Sobairce, Sedga, Goisten. 

To commemorate the names of those chiefs and leaders, this was
said; Flann Mainistrech (Poet died A.D.1056) composed it: 

The chiefs of the voyage over the sea 
By which the sons of Mil came, 
I have in recollection during my life, 
Their names without lie. 
Donn Eremon, noble Emer, 
Ir, Amergin without [partiality, 
Colptha, Airech, Febra the keen, 
Erannan, Muimme fine and smooth. 
Luigne, Laigne, Palap the lucky, 
Er. Orba Feron, Fergin, 
Eber son if Ir. Brega, I shall say, 
Cuala, Cualgne, Blad rough and strong. 
Fuad and Muirthemne with fame, 
Eblinne, Nar, Buas with battle, 
Bres, Buaigne, and Fulman. 
Mantan, Caicer, slender Suirge, 
En, Un and rigid Etan, 
Sobairce, Sedga of spears, 
And Goisten the champion. 
They conquered noble Ireland 
Against the Tuatha De of great magic, 
In vengeance for Ith of the steeds- 
Thirty, ten, and one chieftain. 

As for the sons of Mil, they sailed in a great expedition on
the sea to Ireland, and did not pause in the course until they
saw at a distance the island from the sea. And when they saw
Ireland, their warriors made a contention of rowing and sailing
to their utmost in their eagerness and anxiety to reach it; so
that Ir son of Mil advanced a wave before every other ship by
reason of his strength and valor. So Eber Donn son of Mil, the
eldest of them, was jealous and said: 

It is no good deed 
Ir before Ith to proceed- 

That is before Lugaid son of Ith, for Lugaid had the name
Ith. Then the oar that was in the hand of Ir split, so that Ir
fell backwards across the thwart and broke his back there He died
on the following night, and they preserved his body so long as
they were on the sea, and buried it afterwards in Scellic of
Irras Desceirt of Corco Dibne. Sorrowful were Eremon, Eber Finn
and Amergin at the death of their brother; and they said, as it
were out of one mouth, it was right that Eber Donn should not
enjoy the land about which he was envious of his brother, that is of Ir. 



The sons of Mil advanced to a landing in Inber Slainge. The
Tuatha De Danann did not allow them to come to the land there,
for they had not held parley with them. By their druidry they
caused it to appear to the sons of Mil that the region was no
country or island, territory or land at all, in front of them.
They encircled Ireland three times, till at last they took the
harbor at Inber Scene; a Thursday as regards the day of the week,
on the day before the first of May, the seventeenth day of the moon; the Year of the World 3500. 



Then they came at the end of three days thereafter to Sliab
Mis. Banba met them in Sliab Mis, with the hosts of druidry and
cunning. Amergin asked her name. " Banba," said she,
"and it is from my name that Banba is given as a name for
this country." And she asked a petition from them, that her
name should remain always on the island. That was granted to her.


Then they had converse with Fodla in Eblinne, and the poet
Amergin asked her name of her in like manner. "Fodla,"
said she, "and from me is the land named." And she
prayed that her name might remain on it, and it was granted to
her as she requested. They held converse with Eriu in Usnech of
Mide. She said to them, "Warriors," said she, "
welcome to you. It is long since your coming is prophesied. Yours
will be the island forever. There is not better island in the
world. No race will be more perfect than your race." 


"Good is that," said Amergin, 
"Not to her do we give thanks for it," said Donn,
"but to our gods and to our power." 


"It is naught to thee," said Eriu; "thou shalt
have no gain of this island nor will thy children. A gift to me,
O sons of Mil and the children of Bregan, that my name may be
upon this island!" 


"It will be its chief name for ever," said Amergin,
"namely Eriu (Erin)." 


The Gaedels went to Tara.  Now Drum Cain was its name at that
time among the Tuatha De Danann, Liathdruim was its name among
the Fir Bolg. There were there kings before them in Liathdruim; 


namely, Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Greine. The sons of Mil
demanded a battle or kingship or judgment from them. 


They adjudged to the sons of Mil that they should have
possession of the island to the end of nine days, to depart, or
to submit, or to prepare for battle. "If my advice were
carried out," said Donn son of Mil, "it is a battle it
would be." The sons of Mil did not grant the respite they
sought to the Tuatha De Danann.


"We give," said the kings, "the judgment of
your own poets to you, for if they give a false judgment against
us they will die on the spot." 


"Give the judgment, Amergin; "said Donn. 
"I speak it," said Amergin. "Let the land be left
to them till we come again to take it by force." 

"Whither shall we go?" said Eber Donn. 


"Over nine waves," said Amergin; and he said this: 


The men you have found are in possession: 
Over the nine green-necked waves 
Of the sea advance ye: 
Unless by your power then be planted, 
Quickly let the battle be prepared. 
I assign the possession 
Of the land ye have found: 
If ye love concede this award, 
If ye love not concede it not- 
It is I that say this to you. 


" If it were my counsel that were followed," said
Donn son of Mil, "battle it would be." Nevertheless the
sons of Mil went by the advice and judgment of Amergin from
Liathdruim to Inber Scene, the place where they had left their
ships, and passed over nine waves. "Let us trust to the
powers," said the druids, " that they may never reach
Ireland." With that the druids cast druidic winds after
them, so great was the story; so that the storm took them
westward in the ocean until they were weary. "A druid's wind
is that," said Donn son of Mil. "It is indeed said
Amergin, "unless it be higher than the mast; find out for us
if it be so." 

Erannan the youngest son of Mil went up the
mast, and said that it was not over them. With that he fell on
the planks of the ship from the mast, so that they shattered his limbs. 


"A shame to our men of learning is it," said Donn,
"not to suppress the druidic wind." 

"No shame it shall be," said Amergin, rising up; and
he said: 

I invoke the land of Ireland. 
Much-coursed be the fertile sea, 
Fertile be the fruit-strewn mountain, 
Fruit-strewn be the showery wood, 
Showery be the river of water-falls, 
Of water-falls be the lake of deep pools, 
Deep pooled be the hill-top well, 
A well of the tribes be the assembly, 
An assembly of the kings be Tara, 
Tara be the hill of the tribes, 
The tribes of the sons of Mil, 
Of Mil be the ships the barks, 
Let the lofty bark be Ireland, 
Lofty Ireland Darkly sung, 
An incantation of great cunning; 
The great cunning of the wives of Bres, 
The wives of Bres of Buaigne; 
The great lady Ireland, 
Eremon hath conquered her, 
Ir, Eber have invoked for her. 
I invoke the land of Ireland. 


Immediately a tranquil calm came to them on the sea. Said Donn,
"I will put under the edge of spears and swords the warriors
that are in the land now, only let me land." The wind
increased on them thereupon, so that it separated from them the
ship in which was Donn; and he was drowned at the Dumacha.
Twenty-four warriors of valor, twelve women, and four
mercenaries, with their folk are the number that were drowned
with Donn in that ship. After that Donn was buried in the
Dumacha; so that from him "Tech Duinn" is called, and
there is his own gravemound and the gravemound of everyone who
was drowned of the chieftains of his people with him, in that place 

 

Now Dil daughter of Mil, Eremon buried her, " for the
love he had for her, so that he said in putting a sod on her,

" This is a sod on a "dear one" (Dil) "said he. 

These are the chieftains who were drowned with Donn at that

time: Bile son of Brige, Airech Febra, Buss, Bres, and Buagne. Ir
was buried in Scellic of Irras, as we have said above, Erannan
died in the creek after going to contemplate the wind, and after
breaking his bones on the deck. Eight chieftains were their
losses among their nobles up to then. 


In the night in which the sons of Mil came to Ireland was the
burst of Loch Luigdech over the land in West Munster. When Lugaid
son of Ith was bathing in the lake and Fial daughter of Mil his
wife was bathing in the river that flows out of the lake, Lugaid
went to the place where was the woman, he being naked; and when
she looked on him thus she died of shame at once, and from her is
named the river with its creek. 

 

Downcast was Lugaid after the woman's death, so that he said: 

Sit we here over the strand, 
Stormy the cold; 
Chattering in my teeth,--a great tragedy 
Is the tragedy that has reached me. 
I tell you a woman has died 
Whom fame magnifies' 

Fial her name, from a warrior's nakedness 
Upon the clean gravel. 
A great death is the death that has reached me, 
Harshly prostrated me; 

The nakedness of her husband, she looked upon him 
Who rested here. 


Six women of their nobles were their losses on the sea and
land from their setting out from Spain till then. These are their

names; Buan wife of Bile; Dil wife of Donn; Scene, the woman-satirist, wife of Amergin White-Knee (she died with them on the sea while they were coming to Ireland; so that Amergin said,

"The harbor where we land, the name of Scene will be on it". 

(That was true, for from her is named Inber Scene); 

Fial wife of Lugaid son of Ith; the wife of Ir and the wife of

Muirthemne son of Bregan, were the other two. 


When the sons of Mil reached the land in the creek we have
mentioned, and when they had buried the troop of their nobles who
had died of them, Eremon and Eber Finn divided the fleet with
their chieftains and servants in two between them. After that
Eremon sailed with thirty ships, keeping Ireland on his left
hand, and he landed in Inber Colptha. These are the chieftains

that were with him: Eber son if Ir, Amergin the poet, Palap,
Muimne, Luigne, Laigne, Brega, Muirthemne, Fuad, Cualgne, Colptha,
Goisten, Sedga, Suirge, and Sobairce. The three last were
champions. These are the slaves that were with Eremon: Aidne, Ai,
Asal, Mide, Cuib, Cera, Ser, Slan, Ligen, Dul, Trega, Line. 

********

On putting his right foot on the shore at Inber Colptha, it
was then Amergin spoke this rhapsody: 

I am a wind on the sea 
I am a wave of the ocean 
I am the roar of the sea, 
I am a powerful ox, 
I am a hawk on a cliff, 
I am a dewdrop in the sunshine, 
I am a boar for valor, 
I am a salmon in pools, 
I am a lake in a plain, 
I am the strength of art, 

I am a spear with spoils that wages battle, 
I am a man that shapes fire for a head. 
Who clears the stone-place of the mountain? 
What the place in which the setting of the sun lies? 
Who has sought peace without fear seven times? 
Who names the waterfalls? 
Who brings his cattle from the house of Tethra? 
What person, what god 

Forms weapons in a fort? 
In a fort that nourishes satirists,
Chants a petition, divides the Ogam letters, 
Separates a fleet, has sung praises? 
A wise satirist. 

He sang afterwards to increase fish in the creeks: 

Fishful sea- 
Fertile land- 
Burst of fish- 
Fish under wave- 
With courses of birds-- 

Rough Sea- 
A white wall-- 
With hundreds of salmon- 
Broad Whale- 

A port song- 
A burst of fish. 


*******
As for Eber Finn son of Mil, he stayed in the south with
thirty ships with him, until they came in the hosts of the
battles that were fought between them and the Tuatha De Danann.
These are the chieftains that were with Eber; Lugaid son of Ith,
Er. Orba, Feron, Fegana,  the four sons of Eber, Cuala, Blad,
Ebleo, Nar, En, Un Etan, Caicher, Mantan, Fulman. The six
last,-En, Un, etc. Were champions. These are the slaves that were
with him; Adar, Aigne, Deist, Deala, Cliu, Morba, Fea, Liffe,
Femen, Feara, Meda, and Obla. 

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