Stories, Myths & Legends


The Exploits of the Dagda

Now the Dagda had a house in Glen Edin to the north, where he had arranged to meet a woman. 

The river Unshin of Connaught roars to the south.  He saw a woman by the Unshin in Corann, washing, with one foot in Aghanagh south of the water, and the other at Lisconny to the north.  Nine loosened tresses hung about her head.  The Dagda called to her and they lay together. 

Morrigan was the name of the woman and the place where they lay is called the 'Bed of the Couple'.

Morrigan told the Dagda that the Fomorians would land at Magh Scene, and that he should summon the Irish champions to meet her at the Ford of the Unshin.  She would destroy Indech, king of the Fomorians, and take from him the blood of his heart and his testicles.  Later she gave two handfuls of that blood to the crowd waiting at the Ford of the Unshin.  And its name evermore was the Ford of Destruction, because of this act.

When the Fomorians had landed, Lugh sent the Dagda to spy on them, and to try and delay them until the men of Ireland were prepared.  Dagda went to their camp and asked for a truce.  This was granted, but to mock him the Fomorians made him a porridge, because his fondness for porridge was well known.  They filled for him the king's cauldron, and poured into it four-score gallons of new milk, and the same amount of meat and fat.  They put goats and sheep and pigs into it, and boiled everything together.  Then they poured it all into a hole in the ground, and the king said Dagda would be killed unless he ate all of it.  Never may it be said that the Fomorians were un-generous.

So the Dagda took his ladle, big enough for a man and a woman to lie in it and he scooped up a fair portion.  'If the broth equals the smell, it is good food' he said then he put the fully filled ladle into his mouth saying further, 'It's a wise man that says "the poor bits don't spoil it".'

He ate and ate and ate, and at the end of it he scraped his finger at the bottom of the hole amid the rubble to get the very last drop.  Then he fell asleep with his belly as big as a house, and all the Fomorians laughing at him.

When Dagda awoke and saw their derision, he went away from them to the beach of Eaba.  It was not easy for him to move owing to the size and tightness of his belly.  He was not a pleasant sight to behold:  A cape which hung only to the hollow of his elbows; a brown tunic around him which only went as far as the swelling of his rump; a ragged hole in that tunic; two shoes on him of horse-hide, with the hair turned outside, and his private parts dangling in the air.  Behind him he pulled a wheeled fork that was the work of eight men to move, leaving a track deep enough for the boundary ditch of a province, and this became known as the Track of Dagda's Club.

As he walked he saw a girl in front of him, fine-looking and of good shape, with tresses of beautiful hair on her head.  The Dagda lusted after her but he was impotent because of his heavy belly.  The girl began to mock him and to tussle with him.  She hurled him so hard that he sank to his rump in the mud.

'What business do you have throwing me from my proper path?' he demanded of her angrily.

'My business is this; to make you carry me on your back to my father's house' she replied.

'And who might he be?' asked Dagda.

'He is Indech, a king of the Fomorians' said she.

Then she fell on him again and knocked him here and there until he could feel his bowels beginning to move.  And she mocked him with satires three times so that he would carry her on his back.  Tired of all this he emptied the contents of his bowels into the pit and climbed up out of the hole.  And she was waiting for him and jumped up onto his back.  Then his stones fell from his belt, or it may have been his testicles, however she bounced on him and smacked him a smart blow on the rump, and as she did so her curly private hairs were revealed.  So one thing led to another and she gained herself a lover.  They lay together and rubbed themselves together.   Then the girl said 'You shall not go to the battle by any means.'

'Certainly I will go' replied Dagda.

'You will not, for I will be a stone at the mouth of every ford you cross.'

'That may be true,' he replied 'but you will not keep me from battle, I will tread heavily on every stone and the imprint of my heel will be on every stone forever.'

'But you still will not go past me until I summon the Fomorians who are the sons of Tethra from the fairy hills, because I will be a giant oak in every ford and in every pass that you must cross' she countered.

'Indeed I will go past and I will hack at every oak with my axe and the mark will remain in every oak tree forever.'

Then the girl, the daughter of Indech, relented and said, 'Gather the men of Ireland in one place, and allow the Fomorians to enter the land.  I shall hinder the Fomorians and sing spells against them, and practice the art of the wand against them.  And I will take on a ninth of their host by myself.


horizontal rule