Text: “Do tógbhadh meirge Murchaidh”

Murchadh Ó Madadháin, succeeded his father in 1347 to the title of Lord of Síol nAnmchadha in Longford, County Galway. This poem was composed sometime between then and his death in 1371.

The following text was translated by Michael Newton from the edition of Lambert McKenna in Irish Monthly 47 (Feb 1919).

§ 1. Raised high is the banner of Murchadh: it is time to face the foreigners! There is a battalion of men in the wake of the banner who will avenge savagery.

§ 2. On a fair hillside they raise it, it is an omen of devastation from its first hoisting over the hero of the dewy hillside, that silky noble banner of Murchadh.

§ 3. It is an omen of Murchadh Ó Madadháin’s attack, the fluttering banner of solid strength coming from the fortress of splendid horses.

§ 4. The royal torch goes exultantly before him towards the melee; soft satin on a slender wooden pole; a great rod of beautiful, choice wood.

§ 5. The banner tail is beautiful that I see coming to the smooth pass; like a bird is that wing, its spotted tail seen as an omen.

§ 6. What is this great roar in the field? Who is this battalion ravaging Munster? This jagged, wooded forest of spears? The ruddy banner as well?

§ 7. The banner of the accomplished son of Eoghan is often a traveller; she is surrounded by Síol nAnmchadhaigh, armed and wounding heroes!

§ 8. Around the hawk of the people of Éireamhóin [i.e., Ireland], when his troops are gathered, the slender, smooth satin banner in the field that is an omen of destruction to the Dane [i.e., foreigner].

§ 9. All people follow him to the heat [of battle]; Murchadh will follow the standard; the fresh sacred- tree of Eilge [Ireland] around his band [of followers], next to the soft silken banner.

§ 10. As long as this banner, and the ringleted warrior of the fair plain, survives, the heroism of the Gaels will endure: nothing will be heard of their adversaries.

§ 11. At the Battle of Cluain Tarbh, Brian [Ború] made a statement that was planted in me about a namesake of the people of Dor, a prince of similar deeds. […]

§ 36. The furthest wall of his house is crowded with his retinue; as though a great assembly were in it, his house is full of heroes.

§ 37. The house is full of rugged pillars [i.e., warriors] from one alcove to the next, they get the fill of excellent ruddy vats of delicious, appetizing ale.

§ 38. The smooth walls of his kingly-home are full of blue-grey armour and of war-helmets, (for?) the company of the greatest heat.

§ 39. The shackles in the house of the prince of fair Feimhean are full of hostages; the shelves of the shiny weapons (are full): blades that will feed ravens!

§ 40. The wide windows are full of fair, modest women embroidering golden edges in the stronghold full of the customary retinue.

§ 41. The people of Anmchaidh will sit along the smooth walls of the house; the sìd [“fairy”] from the fairy-mound of Saoir Neannta will be sitting on the throne in front of them.

§ 42. A row of a upholstered chairs is before him; there is a file [“high-poet”] in each blood-red chair, their hearts euphoric as they are engaged in their craft.

§ 43. Every man answers his own call in that tall, proud building; his back against the interior wall made of fair, sturdy slats; youths stand next to ale-vessels.

§ 44. Although it is an innumerable crowd, not one of them is neglected or grumpy; no expense is spared for drink, not a man is in the wrong place.

§ 45. After being seated, hospitality is shown to them: a band of harpers attend to honour on the brows of their harps made of foreign willow.

§ 46. A group of musicians then performs a lay on their soft wind instruments; the reverberation of strings for the lord of fair-hair, causing the nobles to offer gifts.

§ 47. I do not perceive anything lacking in that crowded fortress except a doorman to close its front door.

§ 48. The grandson of Murchadh, who enriches churches does not cause God to be angry; the aspirations of Ó Madadhain suffice in plenty for the heroes of Emhain.

§ 49. The descendants of Míl may be placed side by side in competition; if requested, the people of the sinking sun [the West] will go the great residence of Murchadh. […]

About Michael Newton

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