Text: “Sén Dollotar Ulaid”

This poem probably belongs to the 10th century (not all of the events described can now be identified). It seems to be a celebration of various victories of the Ulaid “men of Ulster,” and may even be the kind of song-poetry sung to prepare for going into battle.

This text was adapted by Michael Newton from the edition of Gwynn, “Sén Dollotar.” It should be noted that the word sén that begins so many of the stanzas can denote success, good-luck and even magic. As I see this poem as a kind of charm used not just describe but   assure their success, I have retained the notion of “magic.” See discussion about some of the place names (relating to Scotland and Vikings) in Ó Corráin, “Vikings,” 21.

§ 1. Magically came the men of Ulster to the battle of Drumcree; they brought Eochaid his sons’ heads after the fight.

§ 2. Magically came the men of Ulster to rugged Britain and carried off the heads of Bruide and Arthur son of Dungal.

§ 3. Magically came the men of Ulster to Lachlaind [Viking-occupied northern Scotland?], and vigorously, fighting nine battles from the beginning to the end of that year.

§ 4. Magically came the men of Ulster to bright-flowing battle with the Saxons; lively was their courage, they were brave.

§ 5. Magically came the men of Ulster to the shore of Ross, in full glory; they arrayed their nobles, they shattered the enemies’ boasting.

§ 6. Magically came the men of Ulster on a raid, a military expedition against a third of the Vikings of the Hebrides, when Tory Island was sacked.

§ 7. We blessed the king of the province (of Ulster), that his bravery may be maximized; that he may attack and dominate treacherous folk.

§ 8. We blessed the troops, every man, that they may achieve honour; we blessed the professional hostel-keepers, every man, that they may magnify hospitality.

§ 9. Our warriors, our young men: may this omen help them! Our champions, our battle-leaders: may this magic (saying) help them!

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