The Celtic Literature Collective

The Enumeration of Finnís People
Egerton MS 1782
Translated by Standish O'Grady, Silva Gaedelica V.II.

This is the enumeration [and description] of Finnís people: their strength was seven score and ten officers, each man of these - having thrice nine warriors, every one bound (as was the way with Cuchullin in the time when he was there) to certain conditions of - service, which were: that in satisfaction of their guarantee violated - they must not accept material compensation; in the matter of valuables or of meat must not deny any; no single individual of them to fly before nine warriors.

Of such not a man was taken into the Fianna; nor admitted whether to the great Gathering of Usnach, to the Convention of Taillte, or to Taraís Feast; until both his paternal and his maternal correlatives, his tuatha and kindreds, had given securities for them to the effect that, though at the present instant they were slain, yet should no claim be urged in lieu of them: and this in order that to none other but to themselves alone they should look to avenge them. On the other hand: in case it were they that inflicted great mischiefs upon others, reprisals not to be made upon their several people.

Of all these again not a man was taken until he were a prime poet versed in the twelve books of poesy. No man was taken till in the ground a large hole had been made (such as to reach the fold of his belt) and he put into it with his shield and a fore≠armís length of a hazel stick. Then must nine warriors, having nine spears, with a ten furrowsí width betwixt them and him, assail him and in concert let fly at him. If past that guard of his he were hurt then, he was not received into Fianship.

Not a man of them was taken till his hair had been interwoven into braids on him and he started at a run through Irelandís woods; while they, seeking to wound him, followed in his wake, there having been between him and them but one forest bough by way of interval at first. Should he be overtaken, he was wounded and not received into the Fianna after. If his weapons had quivered in his hand, he was not taken. Should a branch in the wood have disturbed anything of his hair out of its braiding, neither was he taken. If he had cracked a dry stick under his foot [as he ran] he was not accepted. Unless that [at his full speed] he had both jumped a stick level with his brow, and stooped to pass under one even with his knee, he was not taken. Also, unless without slackening his pace he could with his nail extract a thorn from his foot, he was not taken into Fianship: but if he performed all this he was of Finnís people.

A good man verily was he that had those Fianna, for he was the seventh king ruling Ireland: that is to say there were five kings of the provinces, and the king of Ireland; he being himself the seventh, conjointly with the king of all Ireland.

Finnís two poll-wards were Noenalach, and Raer grandson of Garb; the two stewards of his hounds: Crimthann and Connla Cas; his dispenser: Cathluan son of Crimthann; his master of the banquet: Corc son of Suan; his three cupbearers: Dermot grandson of Duibhne, and Faillin, and Colla son of Caeilte; the two overseers of his hearth: Caeilte and Glanna; his two makers of the bed: Admoll and mac Neri; his twelve musicians: Fergus True-mouth, Fianu, Bran, two Reidhes, Nuada, and Aithirne Aghmar, and . . . . Flann and Aedh, Cobthach of the high strains, and Cethern; his physician: Lerthuile; his two keepers of the vessels: Braen and Cellach Mael; his barber: Scannal his comber: Daelgus; his charioteer: Rinnchu; his two masters of the horse: Aena and Becan; his strong man: Urchraide grandson of Bregaide; his six door-keepers: Cuchaire and Bresal Borr, Fianchad and Mac-dŠ-fer Imchad and Aithech son of Aithech-bal; his carpenter: Donngus; his smith: Collan; his worker in metal: Congaran; his horn-players: Culaing and Cuchuailgne; his two soothsayers: Dirinn and Mac-reith; his carver: Cuinnscleo; his candle-holder: Cudam; his two spear- bearers: and Uadgarb; his shield-bearer: Railbhe, and so on.


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