The Celtic Literature Collective

The Songs of Buchet's House
Rawl. B 502, p. 87a-88a

1 Cathair, head of a province of Banba, from whom is the very valiant royal race; grandson of Ceinselach of the hundred feasts and of the full-fierce hosts of Leinster.

2 Two-and-thirty sons had the king, to whom injustice was not pleasing, and he had one daughter, wily Ethne Long-Side.

3 Ethne was brought — great her fame — to an illustrious man for fosterage, to Buchet of the wealthy hosts, to the landholder of a hundred cows.

4 In his house fire was not extinguished, in the fort of Buchet, the land-owner, while the generous steadfast man was alive, but used to be blazing constantly.

5 Seven herds had the one generous man, who did not give an ill welcome to guests. Seven score cows — enduring was the fame — were in each herd, it was no wonder.

6 Seven doors to the warm house of the warrior who was not difficult to know; at each door there would be a woman waiting on the guests.

7 Seven fires in his sheltered house had the warrior, without swift reviling. Many guests around each fire had the generous man of noble hospitality.

8 Many sons of Cathair of the spoils were visiting his one house, a great host with each man of them of people out of every fair land.

9 They would come over each sea to converse with their noble sister. All the warriors would ask for large frequent gifts.

10 The one of the children of the king of very great valour who did not get a present would after coming out use behaviour which was not pleasing to the household.

11 He would take away a small herd of his cows, or the horses at one time, or the plough-team after the day from the plain, against the will of Buchet of the red cloak.

12 Buchet of the border of Bregia would come; he would lament his misfortune in the presence of just Cathair. who was an old man.

13 'I cannot help you', said Cathair of the spoil; 'but there is sorrow around my heart for the destruction of your great house'.

14 In the night the upright very perfect man escapes from them; fleeing from the children of Cathair he reached Leth Cuinn of the treasures.

15 Thither he shaped his course, to Kells, through his fair intelligence, to the royal fort of Cormac of the Haven's Hill, son of Art, son of Conn of the Hundred Battles.

16 They were in a little hut in the fort, Buchet and his wife without foolish counsel, and the daughter of Cathair was wont to serve them without reproach.

17 The grandson of Conn of the curly locks did not dare to go to Tara then, on account of Medb Red-Side of Leinster of the Sea, because of the former wife of king Art the Solitary.

18 A while after the slaying of Art of the steeds — the Leinster woman was bold — she herself obstinately and strongly took the kingship of the greater part of Ireland.

19 After that hardy Cormac took the kingship over red-cloaked Banba, and he digs — fair its colour — the huge rath of royal Tara.

20 The man owning the place, whose duty it was to guard the place well, comes whilst the red rath was being dug by Cormac and by his fair host.

21 He utters his three cries, the great wild fierce churl, so that throughout the land of Bregia of the peaks each cry was heard at the top of his voice.

22 'Why do you cry, o clamorous churl?' said Cormac from sloping Tara. 'Tell us what story you are unfolding, or what injustice you are lamenting'.

23 'Oppression is being inflicted on us', said the dark-browed churl. 'My home-stead is being made a king's place till Doom, we were not seen mutually (?), the high rath'.

24 At the foundation of the house the churl, who was not foolish, quickly gave three cries in the same way, very fiercely, very boldly.

25 At the time when at the auspicious moment Cormac of the covenants went into the great house, the owner of the land comes again for the third time, without law, without right.

26 As a continued proclamation of his wrong he gave three cries aloud, very deeply and very fiercely in front of the warm house.

27 'Why do you cry suddenly, churl?' Cormac, grandson of Conn said to him, with his back against the straight door- valve of the great royal house.

28 ' My being outraged by you certainly, perversely and roughly. It is not princeship for you nor right of kings to take my land unjustly from me'.

29 'You will get from me' said the ... king, 'your own weight of gold and of silver, the ration of nine men each night at the house of Tara, it is a matter of favour'.

30 'These two raths south of us, close to you, convenient, the Odra of Tara after they have been snatched take from me in place of your land.'

31 'I will take that, for it is not small, in place of my cool land, in addition to your favour, without wrong', said the churl Odran.

32 'Odran of the Plain of Bregia of the Kine, between the Odra of Tara in the north', that is the saying on account of which is 'Odor between Odra'.

33 After that Cormac the Curly-haired arrived from Claenrath at Kells, when he saw a maiden there, the foster-child of Buchet of the drinking-horns.

34 Coming for cold water after milking her kine, two buckets she had in her hands; she was not filling them in the same way.

35 One bucket, it was evident (she tilled) from the edges of the gentle stream; the other bucket, for its supply (she filled) from the middle of the great stream.

36 She goes to cut bare rushes for her foster-father and for her noble foster-mother, and the girl divided them exactly into two parts, it is not a falsehood.

37 The edge of the rushes apart in her fair bundle, without concealment, the middle ot' the rushes laid on the back of the gentle fair maiden.

38 The king of Tara in the east noticed her, after rising early in the morning. Everything that she did from dawn till dusk, the king was watching it.

39 Cormac asked without offence: 'O beautiful, perfect maiden, for whom do you divide the water, the milk, the rushes? say that to us'.

40 'A man who was in great prosperity formerly', said the beautiful modest girl, 'it is for him that is intended here up to now the choice of all that I am dividing'.

41 'Is that Buchet of the perfect men of Leinster?' said Cormac of the meetings. 'It is he', said Eithne, 'you mention him'. ' We have heard of him', said Cormac.

42 'And you yourself truly, are you the daughter of the high- king, the daughter of Cathair of the territory of Bregia, wily Eithne Long-Side?'

43 'So far as you have supposed yourself, my name and my fatherland are known. O king of the Gaels and of the stammering foreigners, we shall not deprive you of your calculation.'

44 'May you not be without great prosperity, without drinking- horns and without revelry', said Cormac without moving, ' as a reward for honouring your foster-father'.

45 The king of the Gaels of the green estuary gave his attention to the maiden ; love of the maiden without reproach entered strongly into his mind.

46 The maiden was asked for (in marriage) by him of the foster-father whom she had mentioned. 'This does not belong to me', said her foster-father, 'but to her father'.

47 Buchet the princely man did not give the girl to the king of Ireland, until he took her by force, although it was an unjust proceeding.

48 Only half of the cold night the green-cloaked woman stayed with that king with great favour, when she departed from him and escaped.

49 That night — it is not displeasing to us, everyone does not know it commonly, — the king of the noble steeds, full fierce Cairpre Liphechair was begotten.

50 In Liphechair of the red slopes the prince of the fair hosts was brought up, between his gentle maternal kin and his paternal kin, in high kingship.

51 It is from this that the famous name clave to the hero, which is not foolish, across each fair dyke with bees, Cairpre Liphechair, lover of combats.

52 He asks again for the queen, Cormac, chief over fair kings. They make their covenants together, according to the will of her father and foster-father.

53 Fair-sided Eithne did not wish for a while to go back to the king of Ireland, till her bride-price were given altogether to fair yellow-haired Buchet.

54 Then a huge bride-price was given — we do not hide it — for the daughter of Cathair; there was not given a bride- price like it for any woman in steed-abounding Ireland.

55 Whatever she might see herself — it was the better for her — from the ridge of fair Kells, till the end of a week, — it was not small — throughout the cold-topped plain of Bregia.

56 Both gold and precious silver, both herds and droves, both oxen and men and horses were all put on one side.

57 Buchet of the kine was not able to take away a third of what was given to him, till Cormac gave himself with the property a troop of kerns to deliver it.

58 It is thither that Buchet took his kine, to the province of Leinster of the cold lakes, to Buchet's kingly dun of the drinking-cups, where he had practised his first hospitality.

59 Since Buchet took his herds with him from the north so that he was the prosperity of the host, there did not come any man that was better to the mind of the guests of Ireland.

60 'My welcome to you! it will be well with you', the truly princely man himself used to say; 'it is in its turn the better for us; more pleasant is the house through your coming'.

61 Three shouts there were in his drinking-house yonder, from the raising of his horns of revelry till in the west and in the east all used to see the sun outside after morning.

62 The shout of the fifty warriors on one side, it was enough pleasure, in one row; properly (clad) in crimson cloaks, playing and singing in chorus.

63 The shout of the fifty maidens there, in green cloaks, we declare; the company of the grianαns with dignity, music amongst them and singing.

64 The shout of fifty fine harpers making music to the noble hosts in the house according to measure till the full light of day would come.

65 The warrior whom those things accompanied, pity that he should have gone under earth! much of hospitality did he exercise above the ground in the territory which Cathair had striven for.

66 Eochaid Eolach, the man discovered the noble ancient lore of the island of the Gaels, author of the fair knowledge, he it is who will make known the right of the race of Cathair

Hayden dates this to the first half of the eleventh century. There is a prose version translated by Whitley Stokes (Revue Celtique XXV), but I don't have access to it yet.

Hayden, Mary. "The Songs of Buchet's House" ZCP. VIII. p.261-273