The High Deeds of Finn and Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland

9781153705615: The High Deeds of Finn and Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland

Excerpt: ...of Liffey at Clane. Here there was a sacred oak tree where druid rites and worship were performed, and that oak tree was sanctuary, so that within its shadow, guarded by mighty spells, no man might be slain by his enemy. Now Conall Cearnach had followed hard on the track of Mesgedra, and when he found him beneath the oak, he drove his chariot round and round the circuit of the sanctuary, bidding Mesgedra come forth and do battle with him, or be counted a dastard among the kings of Erinn. But Mesgedra said, "Is it the fashion of the champions of Ulster to challenge one-armed men to battle?" Then Conall let his charioteer bind one of his arms to his side, and again he taunted Mesgedra and bade him come forth. Mesgedra then drew sword, and between him and Conall there was a fierce fight until the Liffey was reddened with their blood. At last, by a chance blow of the sword of Mesgedra, the bonds of Conall's left arm were severed. "On thy head be it," said Conall, "if thou release me again." Then he caused his arm to be bound up once more, and again they met, sword to sword, and again in the fury of the fight Mesgedra cut the thongs that bound Conall's arm. "The gods themselves have doomed thee," shouted Conall then, and he rushed upon Mesgedra and in no long time he wounded him to death. "Take my head," said Mesgedra then, "and add my glory to thy glory, but be well assured this wrong shall yet be avenged by me upon Ulster," and he died. Then Conall cut off the head of Mesgedra and put it in his chariot, and took also the chariot of Mesgedra and fared northwards. Ere long he met a chariot and fifty women accompanying it. In it was Buan the Queen, wife of Mesgedra, returning from a visit to Meath. "Who art thou, woman?" said Conall. "I am Buan, wife of Mesgedra the King." "Thou art to come with me," then said Conall. "Who hath commanded this?" said Buan....

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About the Author:

Thomas William Hazen Rolleston (1857–1920) was an Irish writer, literary figure and translator, known as a poet but publishing over a wide range of literary and political topics. He lived at various times in Killiney in South Dublin, Germany, London and County Wicklow; settling finally in 1908 in Hampstead, London, where he died. His Killiney home, called Secrora, subsequently became the home of tennis player Joshua Pim. He was born in Glasshouse, Shinrone, County Offaly, the son of a judge. He was educated at St Columba's College, Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. After a time in Germany he founded the Dublin University Review in 1885; he published Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland (1888), and a Life of Lessing (1889). As the first managing director of the Irish Industries' Society, he helped preserve from extinction many Irish handicrafts, such as lace-making, handmade tweeds and glass-making. In London in the 1890s he was one of the Rhymers' Club and a founder-member of the Irish Literary Society. He was to cross paths several times, and sometimes to clash, with W. B. Yeats, who described Rolleston in his memoirs as an "intimate enemy". He was also involved in Douglas Hyde's Gaelic League. He also spent time as a journalist, and as a civil servant involved with agriculture. He had eight children, from two marriages.

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