[I]T was on the First of May that the Milesians came into Ireland. They came with their wives and their children and all their treasures. There were many of them. They came in ships, and it is said by some that they came from a land beyond the utmost blueness of the sky and that their ships left the track among the stars that can still be seen on winter nights.
When they were come to Ireland they drew up their ships. They put the fastening of a year and a day on them and set foot on the Sacred Land. Amergin was the first to set foot on the Land, and he made this rann in honour of it. He chanted the rann because he was the chief poet and druid among the Milesians.
I am The Wind That Blows Over The Sea,
I am The Wave 0f The Sea,
I am The Sound The Sea Makes,
I am The Ox Of The Seven Combats,
I am The Vulture Upon The Rock,
I am The Ray Of The Sun,
I am The Fairest Of Plants,
I am The Wild Boar,
I am The Salmon in The Water,
I am The Lake In The Plain,
I am The Word 0f Knowledge,
I am The Spear-Point Of Battle,
I am The God Who Kindles Fire In The Head,
Who makes wise the company on the mountain?
Who makes known the ages of the moon?
Who knows the secret resting-place of the sun?
The Milesians gave a victory-shout at the end of the rann, and Amergin said:
"We will go forward now, and when we reach the place where it seems good to rest we will light a fire and put Three Names of Power on the Land so that it may belong to us for ever."
They went forward then and they saw no one till Brigit took the shape of a woman that has known hardship, and came to try them. She wrapped herself in the cloak of Sorrow and sat by the roadside. She made a great keening.
"O woman," said Amergin, "why is there such heavy sorrow on you, and why do you make such a shrill keening?"
"I am keening lost possessions, and lost queen-ship, and a name cried down the wind of change and forgotten."
"Whose name is cried down the wind?"
"The name of Banba that was queen of this land."
"Her name shall not be whirled into forgetfulness. I will put it on this land: it shall be called Banba."
"My blessing on you, Stag with Golden Horns, and may the name-giving bring you luck!"
So Amergin gave away the First Name. They went on from that place, and Brigit took the shape of a fierce beautiful queen that has lost a battle, and came again to try them.
"O Queen," said Amergin, "may all the roads of the world be pleasant to you!"
"O King," said Brigit, "all the roads of the world are hard when those who were wont to go in chariots walk barefoot on them."
"O Queen," said Amergin, "I would fain better your fortune."
"Grant me then a queen's asking."
"Name your asking."
"I am Eriu, wife of Mac Grian, Son of the Sun, and I would have my name fastened on this land for ever."
"I will put your name on this land: it shall be called Eriu."
"My blessing on you, Sun-Crested Eagle, and may the name-giving bring you luck!"
So Amergin gave away the Second Name. They went on from that place, and Brigit took the form of an old wrinkled crone bent double with age, and came again to try them. She was gathering sticks, and the bundle was heavy.
"O woman," said Amergin, "it is hard to see you lifting a bundle when age has bent you so low already. I would fain better your fortune."
Brigit raised herself, and said:--
"Though I am an old crone now, bent and withered, yet I was once a great queen, and I will take nothing less than a queen's asking from you."
"What is your asking? "
"Let my name be on this land: I am Fiola."
"I will put your name on this land: it shall be called Fiola."
"My blessing on you, Silver-Spotted Salmon of Knowledge, and may the name-giving bring you luck!"
So Amergin gave away the Third Name. It was after that they made a fire for themselves, and when the smoke of it rose against the sky, Ogma, Nuada, and the Dagda, came to try them.
"What people are you? " asked Nuada, "and from what country have you come?"
"We are the sons of Milesius," they answered; "he himself is the son of a god--even of Beltu, the Haughty Father. We are come from Moy More, the Great Plain that is beyond the horizon of the world."
"How got you knowledge of Ireland?" asked Ogma.
"O Champion," answered Amergin, "from the centre of the Great Plain there rises a tower of crystal. Its top pierces the heavens, and from the ramparts of it the wisest one among us got sight of this land. When he saw it his heart was filled with longing, and when he told us of it our hearts too were filled with longing. Therefore we set out to seek that land, and behold we have come to it. We have come to Inisfail, the Island of Destiny."
"And ye have come to it," said the Dagda, "like thieves in the night; without proclamation; without weapon-challenge. Ye have lighted a fire here, as if this were a no-man's land. Judge ye if this be hero conduct."
"Your words have the bitterness of truth in them," said Amergin. "Say now what you would have us do."
"You are a druid and a leader among your people," said Nuada. "Give judgment, therefore, between yourselves and us."
"I will give judgment," said Amergin "I judge it right that we should return to our ships and go out the distance of nine waves from the land. Use all your power against us, and we will use all our power against you. We will take the Island of Destiny by the strength of our hands, or die fighting for it!"
"It is a good judgment," said Ogma, "Get back to your ships! We will gather our battle-chiefs for the fight."
Ogma, Nuada, and the Dagda, went away then from the Milesians.
The Milesians began to put out the fire they. had kindled, and as they were quenching the embers, Brigit threw her mantle of power about her and came to the Milesians in her own shape. When Amergin saw her he knew that she was the Mighty Mother, and he cried out:
"O Ashless Flame, put a blessing on us now, that our luck may not be extinguished with these embers."
"O Druid," said Brigit, "if you had wisdom you would know that before the First Fire is extinguished the name-blessing should be pronounced over it."
"O Mother of All Wisdom, I know it, but the name-blessing is gone from me. I met three queens as I came hither, and each one asked the name-gift of me. They were queens discrowned: I could not put refusal on them."
Brigit began to laugh then, and she cried:
"O Amergin, you are not counted a fool, yet it seems to me that if you had much wit you would know the eyes of Brigit under any cloak in the world. It was I, myself, who asked the name-gift from you three times, and got it Do not ask a fourth blessing from me now, for I have blessed you three times already."
She stooped and lifted a half-quenched ember from the fire. She blew on it till it became a golden flame--till it became a star. She tossed it from one hand to the other as a child tosses a ball. She went away laughing.
The Milesians went back to their ships. They put the distance of nine waves between themselves and the land. The Tuatha De Danaan loosed the Fomor on them, and a mighty tempest broke about their ships. Great waves leaped over them and huge abysses of water engulped them. The utmost power of the Milesians could not bring the ships a hair's breadth nearer to the shore. A terrible wind beat on them. Ireland disappeared. Then Amergin cried out:
"O Land, that has drawn us hither, help us! Show us the noble fellowship of thy trees: we will be comrades to them. Show us the shining companies of thy rivers: we will put a blessing on every fish that swims in them. Show us thy hero-hearted mountains: we will light fires of rejoicing for them. O Land, help us! help us! help us!"
Ireland heard him, and sent help. The darkness cleared away and the wind was stilled.
Then Amergin said:
"O Sea, help us! O mighty fruitful Sea! I call on every wave that ever touched the land. O Sea, help us!"
The sea heard him, and the three waves that go round Ireland--the wave of Thoth, the wave of Rury and the long slow white foaming wave of Cleena. The three waves came and lifted the ships to the shore. The Milesians landed. The Tuatha De Danaan came down to make trial of their battle-strength. Hard was the contest between them. The Milesians held their own against the gods. When they saw that the Milesians could hold their own, the Tuatha De Danaan drew themselves out of the fight. They laughed and cried to the Milesians:
"Good heroes are ye, and worthy to win the earth: we put our blessing on you."
Nuada shook the bell-branch, and the glory that the Tuatha De Danaan had in Tir-na-Moe before they ever set themselves to the shaping of the earth--that glory--came back to them. They had such splendour that the Milesians veiled their eyes before them.
"Do not veil your eyes!" said Nuada, "we will draw the Cloak of invisibility, the Faed Feea, about us. We give you Ireland: but, since our hands have fashioned it, we will not utterly leave the country. We will be in the white mist that clings to the mountains; we will be the quiet that broods on the lakes; we will be the joy-shout of the rivers; we will be the secret wisdom of the woods. Long after your descendants have forgotten us, they will hear our music on sunny raths and see our great white horses lift their heads from the mountain-tarns and shake the night-dew from their crested manes: in the end they will know that all the beauty in the world comes back to us, and their battles are only echoes of ours. Lift up your faces, Children of Milesius, Children of Beltu the Haughty Father, and greet the land that belongs to you!"
The Milesians lifted up their heads. No glory blinded them, for the Tuatha De Danaan had drawn the Faed Feea about themselves. They saw the sunlight on the grass like emerald fire; they saw the blueness of the sky and the solemn darkness of the pine trees; they heard the myriad sound of shaken branches and running water, and behind it echoed the laughter of Brigit.