Echtrae Lóegairi

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Irish title for an Old Irish narrative usually translated as the Adventure of Lóegaire. Texts are found in the Book of Leinster and the Book of Fermoy. It is distinguished from others of its type by having the mortal warrior lured away to the Otherworld in order to take sides in an otherworldly conflict.

Early one morning a mysterious warrior approaches the king of Connacht, Crimthann Cass, and his retinue while they are assembled at Énloch in Mag Aí (Co. Roscommon). The stranger identifies himself to Lóegaire mac Crimthainn, the king's son, as Fiachna mac Rétach, who has come from the otherworldly realm of Mag Dá Chéo. He asks help in retrieving his wife, who has been abducted by Eochaid son of Sál (Eochaid (7)). Fiachna has already slain Eochaid, but his wife has fled to Eochaid's nephew Goll son of Dolb, king of another otherworldly realm, Mag Mell. As Fiachna has already been repulsed in seven attempts to recapture his wife, he seeks mortal help for the eighth, offering gold and silver to all who will go with him. Fiachna praises the beauty and valour of his people in two poems and then departs. Lóegaire takes fifty men, journeys to Fiachna's camp, joins the battle against Goll, and kills him. Asking to see the wife, Lóegaire learns that she is in Mag Mell, under guard. Lóegaire goes there, announces his victory over Goll, and demands the wife's release. She is then surrendered to him, but she laments her lost love for Eochaid, who was king of Mag Dá Chéo, and for Goll.

In reward for having his wife restored, Fiachna grants Lóegaire his daughter, Dér Gréine, and fifty maidens to his fifty men. The Connachtmen then stay in Mag Dá Chéo a year before returning home, having been warned by Fiachna not to dismount. They find their fellows still assembled. When the king's retainers come forth to greet Lóegaire, he tells them to stand back, saying that they have only returned to say farewell. Crimthann cries for his son not to leave, offering him the kingdom, gold, silver, steeds, and fair women. Lóegaire responds in a poem of praise of the Otherworld, its delightful music and the happiness of love. He then goes forth to the fairy mound to live with Dér Gréine in the fort of Mag Mell; and there he still is.

Kenneth Jackson edited the text under the title ‘The Adventure of Laeghaire Mac Crimthainn’, Speculum, 17 (1942), 377–89. Mag Mell and Mag Dá Chéo of the story illustrate folk motif F111.

Subjects: Religion.

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