…One day Sweet-Mouthed-Maeve went to the well of Uran Garad for water. She was carrying a small bronze cup in her hand which she dipped into the well.
The maggot, Gobble, swam into Maeve’s cup, and every colour there was to be seen in the world could be seen on him.
Maeve stared at the creature, fascinated by the beautiful colours of his body for some considerable time.
“A pity, little friend, that you cannot talk,” said Maeve, “for I would like to know how it is with you in your pretty worm shape.”
“Truly, a cunning beast am I,” said Gobble, “and if food should come to me from you, at this spring, every day for a year, then a blessing of milk to you, I’ll be.”
“Oh my,” said Sweet-Mouthed-Maeve, her lips curling into a smile, “and just how will you be a blessing of milk to me?”
“Why, at the end of that space I shall go into one of your cows and be born as the mightiest bull in all Erinn. My prodigious offspring will be more than a blessing of milk to you.”
“Indeed,” laughed Maeve, “then I’d better do as you ask.”
And so every day for a year Sweet-Mouthed-Maeve fed the maggot from her very own hand. And sure enough, at the end of that space, it was just as Gobble had said for a cow from Maeve’s herd swallowed him up, and bore him as a bull-calf.
It was not long before he had grown into a mighty, White Bull…
THE FAIR HORNED
White his heavy mane
and his massive hoofs
pounded in purple;
his body dyed, blood
red, from the clay bog
with a blank pap
under breast and back;
and from nape to rump
a thirty-boy gap
his ponderous tail
hanging hinder haunch;
to his cows the
beloved idol of herds;
father of big beasts,
born to bear victory:
bellowing in greatness…
One day Fiana Mc Derry went to Glaise Cronn in Cooley, as he was washing his hands he saw on the stone next to him a many coloured maggot.
“Why, a mighty handsome little fellow are you,” said Fiana.
“’Tis well so,” said Gulp, “and ‘twill go right with you to listen to what I have to say.”
“And what might that be?” said Fiana.
“See me fed and housed for a year and of great profit and prestige I’ll be to you at the end of that time.”
“How so, of great profit and prestige?” said Fiana.
“Why, at the end of that time I shall go into one of your cows and be born as the finest bull in all Erinn. Your fame as my owner will spread throughout the land,” said Gulp.
So Fiana Mc Derry did as bid by the maggot and sure enough after a year one of his cows swallowed up Gulp and then gave birth to a bull-calf which soon grew into a mighty, Black Bull…
THE DARK HAUNCHED
Dark and dire,
mighty in muzzle,
long in horn;
his thick-maned neck
tough and strong;
ferocious his eye,
brutal and brave,
growling and snorting
big as a hill,
the bull of the earth…
The finest bulls ever seen in Erinn were the Black of Cooley and the White of Cruachan Aye and their horns were decked with gold and silver by the men in their province.
In Connacht, no bull, from South to West, dared bellow before the White, while in Ulster, no bull, from North to East, dared bellow before the Black.
But you know the way it was with those two,
they were not right bulls,
for there was enchantment on them…
Here ends, ‘Bristle and Grunt’, fore-tale of, ‘The Ulster Raid’.