The Western Light…

Never give children a chance of imagining that anything exists in isolation. Make it plain from the very beginning that all living is relationship. Show them relationships in the woods, in the fields, in the ponds and streams, in the village and in the country around it. Rub it in.—Aldous Huxley, Island

It has been a bumpy ride for the last few days here at It seems our ISP ( decided to move (1 hour notice at 1:00 in the morning) and change the DNS numbers… One would think that they had some foresight in these matters. Obviously, that is expecting too much. This resulted in the site being unavailable for almost 48 hours. Way to go guys! Thanks for heads-up.

So has been down ever since, and the editing, and collating of info, stories and poetry for Turfing went out the window.

The search for a new home other than is on the agenda now. If you know of any good ISP’s please let us know.

It is a shorter entry today, as I pull things back together here.

On The Menu:

The Dagda

Poetry: W.B. Yeats ‘The Old Age Of Queen Maeve’

Art: Francis Danby


The Dagda

And it was at Brugh na Boinne the Dagda, the Red Man of all Knowledge, had his house. And the most noticeable things in it were the Hall of the Morrigu, and the Bed of the Dagda, and the Birthplace of Cermait Honey-Mouth, and the Prison of the Grey of Macha that was Cuchulain’s horse afterwards. And there was a little hill by the house that was called the Comb and the Casket of the Dagda’s wife; and another that was called the Hill of Dabilla, that was the little hound belonging to Boann. And the Valley of the Mata was there, the Sea-Turtle that could suck down a man in armour.

And it is likely the Dagda put up his cooking oven there, that Druimne, son of Luchair, made for him at Teamhair. And it is the way it was, the axle and the wheel were of wood, and the body was iron, and there were twice nine wheels in its axle, that it might turn the faster; and it was as quick as the quickness of a stream in turning, and there were three times nine spits from it, and three times nine pots. And it used to lie down with the cinders and to rise to the height of the roof with the flame.

The Dagda himself made a great vat one time for Ainge, his daughter, but she was not well satisfied with it, for it would not stop from dripping while the sea was in flood, though it would not lose a drop during the ebb-tide. And she gathered a bundle of twigs to make a new vat for herself, but Gaible, son of Nuada of the Silver Hand, stole it from her and hurled it away. And in the place where it fell a beautiful wood grew up, that was called Gaible’s Wood.

And the Dagda had his household at Brugh na Boinne, and his steward was Dichu, and Len Linfiaclach was the smith of the Brugh. It was he lived in the lake, making the bright vessels of Fand, daughter of Flidhais; and every evening when he left off work he would make a cast of the anvil eastward to Indeoin na Dese, the Anvil of the Dese, as far as the Grave End. Three showers it used to cast, a shower of fire, and a shower of water, and a shower of precious stones of pure purple.

But Tuirbe, father of Goibniu the Smith, used to throw better again, for he would make a cast of his axe from Tulach na Bela, the Hill of the Axe, in the face of the flood tide, and he would put his order on the sea, and it would not come over the axe.

And Corann was the best of the harpers of the household; he was harper to the Dagda’s son, Diancecht. And one time he called with his harp to Cailcheir, one of the swine of Debrann. And it ran northward with all the strength of its legs, and the champions of Connacht were following after it with all their strength of running, and their hounds with them, till they got as far as Ceis Corain, and they gave it up there, all except Niall that went on the track of the swine till he found it in the oak-wood of Tarba, and then it made away over the plain of Ai, and through a lake. And Niall and his hound were drowned in following it through the lake. And the Dagda gave Corann a great tract of land for doing his harping so well.

But however great a house the Dagda had, Angus got it away from him in the end, through the help of Manannan, son of Lir. For Manannan bade him to ask his father for it for the length of a day and a night, and that he by his art would take away his power of refusing. So Angus asked for the Brugh, and his father gave it to him for a day and a night. But when he asked it back again, it is what Angus said, that it had been given to him for ever, for the whole of life and time is made up of a day and a night, one following after the other.

So when the Dagda heard that he went away and his people and his household with him, for Manannan had put an enchantment on them all.

But Dichu the Steward was away at the time, and his wife and his son, for they were gone out to get provisions for a feast for Manannan and his friends. And when he came back and knew his master was gone, he took service with Angus.

And Angus stopped in Brugh na Boinne, and some say he is there to this day, with the hidden walls about him, drinking Goibniu’s ale and eating the pigs that never fail.

As to the Dagda, he took no revenge, though he had the name of being revengeful and quick in his temper. And some say it was at Teamhair he made his dwelling-place after that, but wherever it was, a great misfortune came on him.

It chanced one time Corrgenn, a great man of Connacht, came to visit him, and his wife along with him. And while they were there, Corrgenn got it in his mind that there was something that was not right going on between his wife and Aedh, one of the sons of the Dagda. And great jealousy and anger came on him, and he struck at the young man and killed him before his father’s face.

Every one thought the Dagda would take Corrgenn’s life then and there in revenge for his son’s life. But he would not do that, for he said if his son was guilty, there was no blame to be put on Corrgenn for doing what he did. So he spared his life for that time, but if he did, Corrgenn did not gain much by it. For the punishment he put on him was to take the dead body of the young man on his back, and never lay it down till he would find a stone that would be its very fit in length and in breadth, and that would make a gravestone for him; and when he had found that, he could bury him in the nearest hill.

So Corrgenn had no choice but to go, and he set out with his load; but he bad a long way to travel before he could find a stone that would fit, and it is where he found one at last, on the shore of Loch Feabhail. So then he left the body up on the nearest bill, and he went down and raised the stone and brought it up and dug a grave and buried the Dagda’s son. And it is many an Ochone! he gave when he was putting the stone over him, and when he had that done he was spent, and he dropped dead there and then.

And the Dagda brought his two builders, Garbhan and Imheall, to the place, and he bade them build a rath there round the grave. It was Garbhan cut the stones and shaped them, and Imheall set them all round the house till the work was finished, and then he closed the top of the house with a slab. And the place was called the Hill of Aileac, that is, the Hill of Sighs and of a Stone, for it was tears of blood the Dagda shed on account of the death of his son.


The Old Age Of Queen Maeve – W.B. Yeats

A certain poet in outlandish clothes

Gathered a crowd in some Byzantine lane,

Talked1 of his country and its people, sang

To some stringed instrument none there had seen,

A wall behind his back, over his head

A latticed window. His glance went up at time

As though one listened there, and his voice sank

Or let its meaning mix into the strings.

MAEVE the great queen was pacing to and fro,

Between the walls covered with beaten bronze,

In her high house at Cruachan; the long hearth,

Flickering with ash and hazel, but half showed

Where the tired horse-boys lay upon the rushes,

Or on the benches underneath the walls,

In comfortable sleep; all living slept

But that great queen, who more than half the night

Had paced from door to fire and fire to door.

Though now in her old age, in her young age

She had been beautiful in that old way

That’s all but gone; for the proud heart is gone,

And the fool heart of the counting-house fears all

But Soft beauty and indolent desire.

She could have called over the rim of the world

Whatever woman’s lover had hit her fancy,

And yet had been great-bodied and great-limbed,

Fashioned to be the mother of strong children;

And she’d had lucky eyes and high heart,

And wisdom that caught fire like the dried flax,

At need, and made her beautiful and fierce,

Sudden and laughing.

O unquiet heart,

Why do you praise another, praising her,

As if there were no tale but your own tale

Worth knitting to a measure of sweet sound?

Have I not bid you tell of that great queen

Who has been buried some two thousand years?

When night was at its deepest, a wild goose

Cried from the porter’s lodge, and with long clamour’

Shook the ale-horns and shields upon their hooks;

But the horse-boys slept on, as though some power

Had filled the house with Druid heaviness;

And wondering who of the many-changing Sidhe

Had come as in the old times to counsel her,

Maeve walked, yet with slow footfall, being old,

To that small chamber by the outer gate.

The porter slept, although he sat upright

With still and stony limbs and open eyes.

Maeve waited, and when that ear-piercing noise

Broke from his parted lips and broke again,

She laid a hand on either of his shoulders,

And shook him wide awake, and bid him say

Who of the wandering many-changing ones

Had troubled his sleep. But all he had to say

Was that, the air being heavy and the dogs

More still than they had been for a good month,

He had fallen asleep, and, though he had dreamed


He could remember when he had had fine dreams.

It was before the time of the great war

Over the White-Horned Bull and the Brown Bull.

She turned away; he turned again to sleep

That no god troubled now, and, wondering

What matters were afoot among the Sidhe,

Maeve walked through that great hall, and with a sigh

Lifted the curtain of her sleeping-room,

Remembering that she too had seemed divine

To many thousand eyes, and to her own

One that the generations had long waited

That work too difficult for mortal hands

Might be accomplished, Bunching the curtain up

She saw her husband Ailell sleeping there,

And thought of days when he’d had a straight body,

And of that famous Fergus, Nessa’s husband,

Who had been the lover of her middle life.

Suddenly Ailell spoke out of his sleep,

And not with his own voice or a man’s voice,

But with the burning, live, unshaken voice

Of those that, it may be, can never age.

He said, “High Queen of Cruachan and Magh Ai,

A king of the Great Plain would speak with you.’

And with glad voice Maeve answered him, “What king

Of the far-wandering shadows has come to me,

As in the old days when they would come and go

About my threshold to counsel and to help?’

The parted lips replied, “I seek your help,

For I am Aengus, and I am crossed in love.’

“How may a mortal whose life gutters out

Help them that wander with hand clasping hand,

Their haughty images that cannot wither,

For all their beauty’s like a hollow dream,

Mirrored in streams that neither hail nor rain

Nor the cold North has troubled?’

He replied,

“I am from those rivers and I bid you call

The children of the Maines out of sleep,

And set them digging under Bual’s hill.

We shadows, while they uproot his earthy housc,

Will overthrow his shadows and carry off

Caer, his blue-eyed daughter that I love.

I helped your fathers when they built these walls,

And I would have your help in my great need,

Queen of high Cruachan.’

“I obey your will

With speedy feet and a most thankful heart:

For you have been, O Aengus of the birds,

Our giver of good counsel and good luck.’

And with a groan, as if the mortal breath

Could but awaken sadly upon lips

That happier breath had moved, her husband turned

Face downward, tossing in a troubled sleep;

But Maeve, and not with a slow feeble foot,

Came to the threshold of the painted house

Where her grandchildren slept, and cried aloud,

Until the pillared dark began to stir

With shouting and the clang of unhooked arms.

She told them of the many-changing ones;

And all that night, and all through the next day

To middle night, they dug into the hill.

At middle night great cats with silver claws,

Bodies of shadow and blind eyes like pearls,

Came up out of the hole, and red-eared hounds

With long white bodies came out of the air

Suddenly, and ran at them and harried them.

The Maines” children dropped their spades, and stood

With quaking joints and terror-stricken faces,

Till Maeve called out, “These are but common men.

The Maines’ children have not dropped their spades

Because Earth, crazy for its broken power,

Casts up a Show and the winds answer it

With holy shadows.’ Her high heart was glad,

And when the uproar ran along the grass

She followed with light footfall in the midst,

Till it died out where an old thorn-tree stood.

Friend of these many years, you too had stood

With equal courage in that whirling rout;

For you, although you’ve not her wandering heart,

Have all that greatness, and not hers alone,

For there is no high story about queens

In any ancient book but tells of you;

And when I’ve heard how they grew old and died,

Or fell into unhappiness, I’ve said,

“She will grow old and die, and she has wept!’

And when I’d write it out anew, the words,

Half crazy with the thought, She too has wept!

Outrun the measure.

I’d tell of that great queen

Who stood amid a silence by the thorn

Until two lovers came out of the air

With bodies made out of soft fire. The one,

About whose face birds wagged their fiery wings,

Said, “Aengus and his sweetheart give their thanks

To Maeve and to Maeve’s household, owing all

In owing them the bride-bed that gives peace.’

Then Maeve: “O Aengus, Master of all lovers,

A thousand years ago you held high ralk

With the first kings of many-pillared Cruachan.

O when will you grow weary?’

They had vanished,

But our of the dark air over her head there came

A murmur of soft words and meeting lips.

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