The Story Of Nede mac Adnai and his Uncle, Caier

[From Cormac’s Glossary (Sanas Cormaic) in The Yellow Book of Lecan (Leabhar Buidhe Lecain), written in the middle of the 16th century AD, Trinity College, Dublin, cols. 47-48. Translation by Whitley Stokes, from Three Irish Glossaries (London: Williams and Norgate, 1862), xxxvi-xl. Notes are by Stokes unless I state otherwise. The story is told after Cormac glosses the word gaire.]


Gaire, i.e. gair-eeclae, i.e. gair-ré, i.e. ré gair (“a short space”), ut est in the satire which Nede son of Adnae, son of Guthár, made on the king of Connaught, to wit, on his own father’s brother, to wit, on Caier son of Guthar. Caier had adopted Nede as his son, because he had no son at all.

The mind of Caier’s wife clave unto Nede. She gave an apple of silver to Nede for his love. Nede consented not, and she promised him the realm after Caier, if he would go in unto her.

“How shall this happen to us?” said Nede. “Not difficult,” said the woman, “make thou a satire on him, so that a blemish come upon him. Then the man with the blemish shall be no longer king.”[1]

“Not easy to me is this thing: the man will not make refusal to me. There is nothing in the world in his possession that he will not give me.”

“I know,” said the woman, “a thing that he will not give thee, namely the dagger that was brought him from the lands of Alba,[2] he will not give thee: he is forbidden to part with it.” etc.

Nede asked the dagger of Caier.

“Woe is me,” said Caier, “I am forbidden to part with it.”

Nede made a glam dicend[3] upon him, and three blisters came forth on his cheeks. This is the satire:


Evil, death, short life to Caier!
Let spears of battle wound him, Caier!
Caier . . .?[4] Caier . . .?[5] Caier under earth,
Under ramparts, under stones (be) Caier.[6]


Caier arose next morning early (and went) to the well. He put his hand over his countenance. He found on his face three blisters which the satire had caused, namely Stain, Blemish and Defect, to wit, red and green and white. Caier fled from thence, that none might see the disgrace, until he was in Dun Cermnai with Cacher son of Eitriscéle.

Nede took the realm of Connaught after him.

He was here till the end of a year. Grievous unto him was Caier’s torment. Nede went after him to Dún Cermnai, seated in Caier’s chariot, and Caier s wife and his greyhound were with him. Fair was the charioteer that went to the fort! His face told how it was with him.

“Whose is that colour?” said everyone.

Said Caier: “‘Twas we that rode on his fochlae by his faitsi.[7]

“That is a king’s word,” said Cacher, son of Etarscél (he, Caier, was not known up to that time).

“No, truly, I am not,” said Caier.

With that Caier fled (?) from them out of the house, till he was on the flagstone behind the fort under the scailp (?) there.

Nede went in his chariot into the fort. The dogs pursued Caier’s track until they found him under the flagstone behind the fort. Caier died for shame on seeing Nede. The rock . . .? and flamed at Caier’s death and a fragment of the rock flew up under Nede’s eye, and pierced into his head. Thereof said Nede Ni cuala cuic nuin &c., as said the poet:


A stone that happened (to be) under Caier’s foot
Sprang up the height of a mast,
Fell—not unjust was the decree—
On the head of the poet above.

[1] Literally: shall not be in (the) kingdom.

[2] Scotland.

[3] A kind of extempore lampoon.

[4] diba

[5] dira

[6] [T.C: The following is an explanatory paragraph in Sanas Cormaic:] “Maile then, evil, from malum. Bare, i.e. death. Gare, i.e. short life. Caeur i.e. to Caier. Celtra catha, i.e. spears, inde dicitur dichel-tair i.e. the shaft of a spear without iron on it. fu ro, i.e. under the soil, i.e. imord feda (?). fo chora, i.e. under stones.”

[7] [T.C: The following is another explanatory paragraph in Sanas Cormaic:] i.e. fochlae is the name for the champion’s seat in the chariot: but faitsi is the name for the seat of the charioteer; fochla, then, is every high seat, faitsi every airide (?).

[8] Lit. a sail-tree.