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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Translating the Echtra Condla

Ectra Condla Chaim meic Cuind Chetchathaig inso.

Cid día n-apar Art Óenfer. ni handsa. Lá ro boí Condla  Rúad mac Cuind Chetchathaig for láim a athar i n-uachtor Usnig. Co n-acca in mnaí i n-étuch anetargnaid na dochum. Asbert Condla. Can dodeochad a ben or se. Dodeochadsa for in ben a tírib beó áit inna bí bás nó peccad na imorbus. Domelom fleda búana can rithgnom caíncomrac leind cen debaid. síd mór i taam conid de suidib nonn ainmnigther áes síde. Cía a gillai ol Cond fria mac acailli.  úair ni acca nech in mnaí acht Condla a óenur. Ro recair in ben.
.r. Adgladadar mnaí n-óic n-alaind soceneoil nad fresci bás na sentaid ro charus Condla Rúad cotgairim do Maig Mell inid rí Boadag bidsuthain rí cen gol cen mairg inna thír ó gabais flaith.
.r. Tair lim a Condlai Rúaid muinbrec cainelderg barrbude fordotá óas gnúis corcorda bid ordan do rígdelbae má chotuméitís ní chrínfa do delb a hoítiu a haldi co bráth brindach.
 Asbert Cond fria druid Corán a ainm side. ar rochúalatár uili an ro rádi in ben cenco n-acatár.
.r. Not álim a Chorán mórchétlaig .i. canas chetla mórdanaig forbond dodomanic as dom moo áirli as dom moo cumachtu níth náchim thánic o gabsu flaith mu imchomruc delb nemaicside cotoméicnigidar immum macc rochaín d'airchelad tre thoathbandu dí láim rígdain brectu ban mberir.
 Docháchain iarom in druí forsin nguth inna mná connach cúala nech guth na mná & conna haccai Condla in mnaí ond úair sin . In tan trá luide in ben ass re rochetul in drúad dochorastár ubull do Condlu. Boi Condla co cend mís cen mir cen dig cen bíad. Nirbo fíu leis nách túara aile do thomailt acht a ubull. Ní dígbad ní día ubull cach a tomled de acht bá ógslan beus. Gabais eólchaire íarom inní Condla imon mnaí atconnairc. A llá bá lán a mí baí for láim a athar i mMaig Archommin inti Condla co n-aca chuci in mnaí cétna a n-asbert
 .r. Nall .i. uasal suide saides Condla eter marbu duthainai oc idnaidiu éca uathmair. Totchurethar bíi bithbi at gérat do daínib Tethrach ardotchiat cach dia i ndálaib t'athardai eter du gnathu inmaini.
 Amal rochúala Cond guth na mná. asbert fria muintir gairid dam in druíd atchíu doreilced a tenga di indiu. Asbert in ben la sodain.
.r. A Chuind Chetcathaig druidecht nís gradaigther ar is bec rosoich for messu ar Trág Máir. firién co n-ilmuinteraib ilib adamraib motáticfa a recht conscéra brichta drúad tardechta ar bélaib demuin duib dolbthig.
 Ba ingnad tra la Cond nicon taidbred Condla aithesc do neoch acht tísed in ben. In deochaid ol Cond fót menmainsiu a radas in ben a Condlai. Asbert Condla ní reid dam sech  cach caraim mo doíni. Rom gab dano eólchaire immón mnaí. Ro frecat in ben andside. co n-epert inso.
 .r.Tathud airunsur álaib fri toind t'eólchaire ofadib im loing glano condrísmaís  ma roísmais síd Boadaig.
.r. Fil tír n-aill nad bu messu do saigid atchíu tairnid in gréin ngil cid cían ricfam ría n-adaig.
 .r. Is ed a tír subatar menmain cáich dodomchela ni fil cenel and nammá acht mná & ingena.
 O tharnic dond ingin a haithesc. foceird Condla iar sudiu bedg úadib co mboí isind noi glano .i. isin churuch comthend commaidi glanta. Atconnarcatar úadib mod nad mod .i. in fat rosiacht índ radairc a roisc. Ro ráiset íarom in muir úadib & ni aicessa o sin ille & ní fes cid dollotar. A mbátar fora n-imrátib isind airiucht co n-aicet Art chucu. Is a oenur d'Art indiu ol Cond dóig ni fil bráthair. Búadfocol an ro radis or Coran iss ed ainm forbia co bráth Art Óenfer conid de ro len in t-ainm ríam o sin immach.

 - Lebor na hUidre

The Adventure of Connla the Fair son of Conn of the Hundred Battles.

 Why was Art called the 'only man'. Not hard. One day Connla the Red son of Conn of the Hundred Battles was by his father's hand on the top of Uisneach. He saw a woman in a strange garment coming towards them. Connla.said, "Where do you come from, oh woman?" said he. 
"I come," said the woman,  "from an immortal land where there is no death or the sin of transgressions. We have our harvest feast without labor; peace cloaks us without strife. We live in the great fairy hill and are called the people of the fairy hill."
"Who [do you speak to], oh boy?" said Conn to his son. Because no one could see the woman but Connla alone. 
The woman answered. "He speaks to a beautiful young woman, well-born, who expects neither death nor old age. I love Red Connla. I invite him to Maig Mell [pleasant plain] where ever-living Boadag* is king, a king without weeping without woe in his land since he has taken sovereignty. Come with me oh Red Connla speckled-neck like a red-candle, yellow haired above a crimson countenance, lasting honor your royal form if you come with me  your form will not wither from it's youth and beauty until deceitful Doomsday.
 Conn spoke with his druid, Corán was his name. Every other one had heard the things the woman discussed although they could not see her. [he said] "I entreat you, oh Corán greatly-songful that is singing songs, greatly-artful, an excessive demand has been put to me, your counsel for me, a strong power that has not come to me since I took sovereignty, an encounter against an invisible form, my fair son is compelled, stealing him through a heathen woman from my kingly two hands with a woman's spoken spells."
  The druid chanted then against the woman's voice so that no one then could hear the woman's voice and Connla couldn't see the woman after that time. As the woman went because of the chanting of the druid she threw an apple to Connla. Connla was to the end of a month without a mouthful of food without a drink without nourishment. He found nothing worthwhile of any of the produce for him to consume but his apple**. The apple never grew less each day he ate it, but remained whole. Connla was taken with yearning for the woman he had seen. 
He was at his father's hand on the day a month later at Maig Archommin when Connla saw the same woman coming towards him and she said to him, "Noble, that is a noble seat where Connla sits between the short-lived dead who are awaiting dreadful death. The ever-living ones invite you to the champions of the men of Tethrach; they see you every day in the assembly of your native land between your beloved companions."
 Thus Conn heard the woman's voice. He asked his people to take to him the Druid as he saw her tongue was freed today. 
~The woman said then. "Oh Conn of the Hundred-battles  you should not love Druidism for it's small success, on it will be judgement at the Mighty Death. A righteous one [will come] with many numerous people, wonderfully quick his redemption, his law destroys druidic incantations taught from the mouth of a black demon with magical powers."~
 It was strange to Conn that he didn't see Connla respond to anyone except when the woman came. "Have they spread" said Conn, "through your feelings, the words of the woman oh Connla?" 
Connla said, "It is not reconciled to me beyond every love of my people. I have been taken thus by yearning for the woman." 
 The woman answered them there; she spoke thus, "If you want to unite wishes against the waves of your yearning come with me in my crystal ship, joined, we may reach the síd of Boadag. There is another land without death I judge we could seek, I see as the sun lowers to the water it is far yet we may reach it before night. It is a cheerful land that everyone's feelings encompass, no people are there except only women and girls." 
 When the noble girl was finished with her speech Connla launched thereupon from his place and leapt into the crystal vessel that is the strong skiff [currach] well made of crystal. They saw them going a way that is no way that is until they went out of sight. They voyaged afterwards across the sea and were not seen in that place [again] and it wasn't known where they went. 
There was on them a considering of the nobility that was with Art who was with them. 
"There is only Art today," said Conn because that was his son's brother. 
"Powerful-words you have said^," said Coran, "His name forever until Judgement will be Art Óenfer [only man] with the name before from his youth there released."

*I might suppose that Boadag is a form of Boadach meaning 'victorious, triumphant; having many outstanding qualities' (eDIL. n.d.)
**on an unrelated side note I have a personal theory about the need for people being taken into Fairy to either have earthly things purged from them or have Fairy inserted into them through consuming it by eating or drinking, which is why the taboo against consuming Fairy food and drink. This story, from the 11th century and likely dating to earlier oral material, nicely reflects this same idea in Connla's eating of the apple. 
~ I would strongly suggest that this odd passage which is inserted without real context and which is a prophecy of the coming of and triumph of Christianity over Druidism is likely an anachronism inserted by scribes, particularly because Conn doesn't respond to it. However judge for yourself.  
^ idiomatically this is given in the eDIL as 'you've hit the nail on the head' or we may take it more simply as 'exactly' but I've given it here as literally as possible. 


  1. Idioms and kennings are often difficult to translate properly. The other difficulty is establishing one's base level of knowledge concerning the background culture at the time the tale was first established along with any modifications and changes that were made to further the ambitions of the people that acquired it.

    My experience in making translations like this, or in gaining insights on such matters is to do them, to try them and then, tolearn from the effort. After all, that is most likely how they came to life in the first place. Apply the 20 year rule to works like this in one's own life and experience the wonders of meeting one's self over and over again. After many lifetimes and the test of time, new works and translations will become a worthy tradition.

    I enjoy your work and the directions in which it takes you. Please continue and prosper as there are truly very few with a triple approach to knowledge. What you have done and are doing increases the stroe of wisdom that is available to all.

  2. I enjoyed this immensely. Thank you.