Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland

By Lady Francesca Wilde

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A remarkable account is given in the Bardic Legends of a form that appeared to Maeve, queen of Connaught, on the eve of battle.

Suddenly there stood before the queen's chariot, a tall and beautiful woman. She wore a green robe clasped with a golden bodkin, a golden fillet on her head, and seven braids for the Dead of bright gold were in her hand. Her skin was white as snow that falls in the night; her teeth were as pearls; her lips red as the berries of the mountain ash; her golden hair fell to the ground; and her voice was sweet as the golden harp-string when touched by a skilful hand.

"Who art thou, O woman?" asked the queen, in astonishment.

"I am Feithlinn, the fairy prophetess of the Rath of Cruachan," she answered.

"'Tis well, O Feithlinn the prophetess," said Maeve; "but what dost thou foresee concerning our hosts?"

"I foresee bloodshed; I foresee power; I foresee defeat!" answered the prophetess.

"My couriers have brought me good tidings!" said the queen; "my army is strong, my warriors are well prepared. But speak the truth, O prophetess: for my soul knows no fear."

"I foresee bloodshed; I foresee victory!" answered the prophetess the second time.

"But I have nothing to fear from the Ultonians," said the queen, "for my couriers have arrived, and my enemies are under dread. Yet, speak the truth, O prophetess, that our hosts may know it."

"I foresee bloodshed; I foresee conquest; I foresee death!" answered the prophetess, for the third time.

"To me then it belongs not, thy prophecy of evil," replied the queen, in anger.

"Be it thine, and on thy own head."

And even as she spoke the prophet maiden disappeared, and the queen saw her no more.

But it so happened that, some time afterwards, Queen Maeve was cruelly slain by her own kinsman, at Lough Rea by the Shannon, to avenge the assistance she had given in war to the king of Ulster; there is an island in the lake where is shown the spot where the great queen was slain, and which is still known to the people as—the stone of the dead queen.

Maeve, the great queen of Connaught, holds a distinguished place in Bardic Legends. When she went, to battle, it is said, she rode in an open car, accompanied by four chariots—one before, another behind, and one on each side—so that the golden assion on her head and her royal robes should not be defiled by the dust of the horses' feet, or the foam of the fiery steeds; for all the sovereigns of Ireland sat crowned with a diadem in battle, as they drove in their war-chariots, as well as in the festal and the public assemblies.

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