While the things that we have related were done, Suallaith heard from Rath Sualtaim in Mag Murthemne the vexing of his son Cú Chulainn against twelve sons of Gaile Dana1 and his sister’s son. It is then that Sualtaim said:
‘Is it heaven that bursts, or the sea over its boundaries, or earth that is destroyed, or the shout of my son against odds?’
Then he comes to his son. Cú Chulainn was displeased that he should come to him.
‘Though he were slain, I should not have strength to avenge him. Go to the Ulstermen,’ says Cú Chulainn, ‘and let them give battle to the warriors at once; if they do not give it, they will not be avenged for ever.’
When his father saw him, there was not in his chariot as much as the point of a rush would cover that was not pierced. His left hand which the shield protected, twenty wounds were in it.
Sualtaim came over to Emain and shouted to the Ulstermen:
‘Men are being slain, women carried off, cows driven away!’
His first shout was from the side of the court; his second from the side of the fortress; the third shout was on the mound of the hostages in Emain. No one answered; it was the practice of the Ulstermen that none of them should speak except to Conchobar; and Conchobar did not speak before the three druids.
‘Who takes them, who steals them, who carries them off?’ said the druid.
‘Ailill Mac Mata carries them off and steals them and takes them, through the guidance of Fergus Mac Roich,’ said Sualtaim. ‘Your people have been enslaved as far as Dun Sobairce; their cows and their women and their cattle have been taken. Cú Chulainn did not let them into Mag Murthemne and into Crich Rois; three months of winter then, bent branches of hazel held together his dress upon him. Dry wisps are on his wounds. He has been wounded so that he has been parted joint from joint.’
‘Fitting,’ said the druid, ‘were the death of the man who has spurred on the king.’
‘It is fitting for him,’ said Conchobar.
‘It is fitting for him,’ said the Ulstermen.
‘True is what Sualtaim says,’ said Conchobar; ‘from the Monday night of Samain to the Monday night of Candlemas he has been in this foray.’
Sualtaim gave a leap out thereupon. He did not think sufficient the answer that he had. He falls on his shield, so that the engraved edge of the shield cut his head off. His head is brought back into Emain into the house on the shield, and the head says the same word (though some say that he was asleep on the stone, and that he fell thence on to his shield in awaking).
‘Too great was this shout,’ said Conchobar. ‘The sea before them, the heaven over their tops, the earth under their feet. I will bring every cow into its milking-yard, and every woman and every boy from their house, after the victory in battle.’
Then Conchobar struck his hand on his son, Findchad Fer m-Bend. Hence he is so called because there were horns of silver on him.
1 LL, ‘Twenty-seven sons of Calatin.’ In the story as related earlier in YBL it is ‘Gaile Dana with his twenty-seven sons.’