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The Conception of Cu Chulainn

Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel, Caren Esser, and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old Irish with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old Irish Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old Irish language and its speakers' culture.

Compert Con Culainn 'The Conception of Cu Chulainn', part of the Ulster Cycle

Boí Conchuḃur ocus maithi UlaḋN iN nEṁuin. No tathigtis énḟlaith maġ arL Eṁuin. NaL ġelltis conná fácbatis ciḋ mecnu na fér ná lossa iN dalaṁ. BaH tochoṁracht laH hUltu aN naicsiu oc colluḋ aN nírenn. Inlaat noí cairptiu diaN dofunn láaN nand. Ar baH bés leusoṁ foriṁ én. Conchuḃur dano iN suḋiu innaL charput ocus aL inġen Deichtire os síL ṁacḋacht. Is síL ḃaH harae diaH hathair. Erriḋ UlaḋN olchenae innaN garptiḃ .i. Conall ocus Lóeġuire ocus cách olchenae. Bricriu dano leu.

Fosruṁat indL éuin reṁiḃ diaN ndaiṁ tar Slíaḃ Fúait, tar Edṁuinn, tar Breġa. Ní bíḋ claḋ ná airḃe ná caisel imL thír iN nÉre ind amsir sin acht maiġe réiḋi. BaH hálaind ocus baH caín in ténlorg ocus in ténaṁar boíL leu. Noí fichit én dóiḃ, rond argit eter cach dáL én. Cach fiche innaL lurg foL leith, noí luirg dóiḃ. Saṁlaiḋ dáL én bátar reṁiḃ, cuing argit etarru. Toscartha tríH héuin díḃ coH haidchi. Lotir reṁiḃ iN gend inL Ḃroġo. Is and baH haḋaiġ for feraiḃ UlaḋN. Feraiḋ snechtae mór foraiḃ dano.

Asbert Conchuḃur friaL ṁuintir ara scortis aN gairptiu ocus ara cortis cor doL chuindchiḋ tiġe dóiḃ.


Conchobar and the nobles of the Ulstermen were in Emain Macha. A flock of birds used to frequent the plain east of Emain Macha. They used to devour it until they left nothing on the ground, not even roots or grass or herbs. To see the destruction of their land was distress(ing) for the Ulstermen. One day they yoke nine chariots to chase them away. For the chase of birds was a custom with them. Conchobar then, sitting in his chariot, and his daughter Deichtire, she being an adult. It is she who was charioteer to her father. Also the champions of the Ulstermen in their chariots, that is Conall and Loegaire and everybody else. Bricriu, too, (was) with them.
The birds go before them to their abode, over Sliab Fuait, over Edmand, over Brega. There would not be a dyke, nor a fence or a stone wall around the land in Ireland at that time, but (just) even fields. It was delightful and it was beautiful the flight and the singing of those birds. Nine units of twenty birds to them, a chain of silver between every two birds. Each unit of twenty separated in its flight, nine trails (there were) to them. Thus (it was) two birds that were before them, a yoke of silver between them. Three birds were separated from them by the night. They flew before them to the end of Bruig na Boinne. It is there that night was on the warriors of the Ulstermen. Then it pours big snow on them.
Conchobar said to his party that they should unyoke their chariots and that they should put a delegation to the seeking of shelter for them.

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