Tonight Gary Ingle and Kathy McCormack and Mara Grey and I got
together for our twice-monthly OI seminar. We're currently
reading through "Stories from the Táin" for the second time,
poking and prodding and turning over every word this time
Anyway... Kathy, as it happens, did some research on the
business of the wine vat and druidic prophecy in "Tochmarc
Ferbe", which she will be giving us soon. And Mara brought
to our attention a Scottish Gaelic folktale which directly
refers to the proverb "dligid coire cnáim" -- which is rather
exciting! Since Mara will be away from her computer until
tomorrow evening, I'm going to publish her find. (It turns
out that not only do I have the tale in my library, but I
posted it in two parts to Gaelic-L back in 1995 as a learners'
exercise.) Not that I remember much of it. Thank goodness
that Mara has a story-teller's memory!
First off, the tale can be found at:
and there's an English translation at:
The gist of the story is that a woman had a cauldron and a fairy
woman came to borrow it every day. The fairy woman said nothing,
and the cauldron's owner always recited the following verse as
the cauldron was being taken away:
Is treasa gobha gual
Gu iarunn fuar a bhruith;
Dleasnas coire cnàimh
Is a thoirt slàn gu tigh.
And the fairy woman came back every day with the cauldron,
with meat and bones in it. Then one day when the woman is
away, her husband screws up the deal and the woman has to
go to the síd to rescue her cauldron. She only barely makes
it home, delaying the fairy dogs that are pursuing her by
throwing the contents of the cauldron to them, bit by bit.
Both "dlighidh coire cnáimh" and "dlighidh gabha gual" are
found in our poem, so finding them linked in this folktale
is a happy discovery:
A smith is stronger for coal
to heat cold iron;
the due of a cauldron is a bone
and bringing it home safe.
So, what do you make of this?
Agus mòran taing a-rithist, a Mhara!