County Sligo, Carrowmore, Tuesday 26th July 2022…
Whilst it is a reconstruction
there is nothing to overtly suggest
that it is modelled on the cairn on top of the hill?
The name Maebh derives from ‘mead’ which is why
in some of the Old Irish texts she is called ‘sweet-mouthed’.
Queen Maebh is another one of the major characters in,
‘The Ulster Spoil’, that huge, sprawling, epic of a tale.
The tale proper which is really
the story of a fight between the provinces
of Connaught and Ulster over
who has the stronger bull
is preceded by a number of fore-tales
all of which provide greater or lesser contributory causes
for the conflict which, inevitably, results, as most conflicts do,
in the slaughter of warriors from both sides on a massive scale.
Presumably, the tale was told, and retold, and eventually
committed to vellum, by the ecclesiastical scribes at Clonmacnoise,
to prevent such wholesale slaughter ever again happening in the future.
If that was the reason,
then, sadly, this seems, now,
the vainest of vain hopes!
But then again, as they like to say
in these parts, very few Irish kings
ever died in their bed.
…Said Very-White, “it is but a drop before a shower:
I see another chariot coming over the plain.”
“Describe it,” said Sweet-Mouthed Maeve.
Said Very-White, “I see the
horses pulling the chariot:
two fiery, spirited bays of
great strength and power;
wide of hoof, with
sweat spittled chests
and curbed jaws;
high mettled their
their manes curled;
swift and smooth,
they run a tumultuous course
of wild and dashing pace.
A chariot of fine wood,
its wicker-work new and freshly spruced,
having two wheels of bronze;
its pole bright with gold mountings.
In the chariot a man
his hair long and curly:
his tresses tri-hued;
brown at root
red in mass with
tips corn yellow.
About his body
a crimson tunic
A shield alongside
edged in bronze.
From his wrist shoots
a shining broad sword.
A grandly moving billow
waves from his chariot frame…
Heart of Albion – Stuart France & Sue Vincent
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