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Early Indo-European Texts

Old Irish

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 Conchubhur ocus maithi UladhN iN nEmhuin. No tathigtis én(f)laith magh arL Emhuin. NaL ghelltis conná fácbatis cidh mecnu na fér ná lossa iN dalamh. BaH tochomhracht laH hUltu aN naicsiu oc colludh aN nírenn. Inlaat noí cairptiu diaN dofunn láaN nand. Ar baH bés leusomh forimh én. Conchubhur dano iN sudhiu innaL charput ocus aL inghen Deichtire os síL mhacdhacht. Is síL bhaH harae diaH hathair. Erridh UladhN olchenae innaN garptibh .i. Conall ocus Lóeghuire ocus cách olchenae. Bricriu dano leu.

Fosrumhat indL éuin remhibh diaN ndaimh tar Slíabh Fúait, tar Edmhuinn, tar Bregha. Ní bídh cladh ná airbhe ná caisel imL thír iN nÉre ind amsir sin acht maighe réidhi. BaH hálaind ocus baH caín in ténlorg ocus in ténamhar boíL leu. Noí fichit én dóibh, rond argit eter cach dáL én. Cach fiche innaL lurg foL leith, noí luirg dóibh. SamhlaidhL én bátar remhibh, cuing argit etarru. Toscartha tríH héuin díbh coH haidchi. Lotir remhibh iN gend inL Bhrogho. Is and baH hadhaigh for feraibh UladhN. Feraidh snechtae mór foraibh dano.

Asbert Conchubhur friaL mhuintir ara scortis aN gairptiu ocus ara cortis cor doL chuindchidh tighe dóibh.


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.