As to the Morrigu,
the Great Queen, the Crow of Battle, where she lived after the coming of the Gael
is not known, but before that time it was in Teamhair she lived. And she had a
great cooking-spit there, that held three sorts of food on it at the one time:
a piece of raw meat, and a piece of dressed meat, and a piece of butter. And
the raw was dressed, and the dressed was not burned, and the butter did not
melt, and the three together on the spit.
Nine men that were outlaws went to her one time and asked
for a spit to be made for themselves. And they brought it away with them, and
it had nine ribs in it, and every one of the outlaws would carry a rib in his
hand wherever he would go, till they would all meet together at the close of
day. And if they wanted the spit to be high, it could be raised to a man’s
height, and at another time it would not be more than the height of a fist
over the fire, without breaking and without lessening.
And Mechi, the son the Morrigu had, was killed by Mac
Cecht on Magh Mechi, that till that time had been called Magh Fertaige. Three
hearts he had, and it is the way they were, they had the shapes of three
serpents through them. And if Mechi had not met with his death, those
serpents in him would have grown, and what they left alive in Ireland would
have wasted away. And Mac Cecht burned the three hearts on Magh Luathad, the
Plain of Ashes, and he threw the ashes into the stream; and the rushing water
of the stream stopped and boiled up, and every creature in it died.
And the Morrigu used often to be meddling in Ireland in Cúchulainn's
time, stirring up wars and quarrels. It was she came and roused up Cúchulainn
one time when he was but a lad, and was near giving into some enchantment that
was used against him. "There is not the making of a hero in you,"
she said to him, "and you lying there under the feet of shadows."
And with that Cúchulainn rose up and struck off the head of a shadow that was
standing over him, with his hurling stick.
And the time Conchubar
was sending out Finched to rouse up the men of Ulster at the time of the war
for the Bull of Cuailgne, he bade him to go to that terrible fury, the
Morrigu, to get help for Cúchulainn. And she had a dispute with Cúchulainn
one time he met her, and she bringing away a cow from the Hill of Cruachan;
and another time she helped Taichinem, a Druid of the household of Conaire
Mor, to bring away a bull his wife had set her mind on.
And indeed she was much given to meddling with cattle,
and one time she brought away a cow from Odras, that was of the household of
the cow-chief of Cormac Hua Cuined, and that was going after her husband with
cattle. And the Morrigu brought the cow away with her to the Cave
of Cruachan, and the Hill of the Sidhe. And Odras followed her there till
sleep fell on her in the oak-wood of Falga; and the Morrigu awoke her and sang
spells over her, and made of her a pool of water that went to the river that
flows to the west of Slieve Buane.
And in the battle of Magh Rath, she fluttered over Congal
Claen in the shape of a bird, till he did not know friend from foe. And after
that again at the battle of Cluantarbh, she was flying over the head of
Murchadh, son of Brian; for she had many shapes, and it was in the shape of a
crow she would sometimes fight her battles.
And if it was not the Morrigu, it was Badb that showed
herself in the battle of Dunbolg, where the men of Ireland were fighting under
Aedh, son of Niall; and Brigit
was seen in the same battle on the side of the men of Leinster.
Source: Lady Gregory - Gods
and Fighting Men, first published 1904.
republished by Colin Smythe Ltd., 1970.