The Beginning of the Tale
once Adomnan and his mother were traveling on the road by Ath Drochait in Uaithne in Uf Aedo Odba in the south of Berga. “Come upon my back, mother dear,” he said.
“I will not go,” said she.
“What is this? What is the matter with you?” he said.
“It is because you are not a dutiful son,” she said.
“Who is more dutiful than I? I put a strap across my breast to carry you from one place to the another, and to keep you out of all the piss and shit. I don’t know of any duty a man’s son could do for his mother that I don’t do for you, except for making that humming tune that women make….” Since I can’t do that humming tune, I will have a harp made to delight you with a strap of white bronze.
“If that were so, she said, “you’re dutifulness would be good. But that is not the duty I mean, but rather the freeing of women from encounter and encampment, from expedition and hosting, from wounding, from slaughter, and from the slavery of the cauldron.
Then she went up on her son’s back, till they came to a field of slaughter. This is how thick the carnage was on which they came: the two feet of one woman reached to the headless neck of the next one. Of all they saw on the battlefield, they saw nothing which they found more touching or more wrenched than the head of a woman lying in one place and her body in another, and her infant on the breast of the corpse. There was a stream of milk in one of its cheeks and a stream of blood on the other cheek….. Why do you not prove you’re clerical skill for us on that pitiful body to see if the lord will revive it for you?……….
At the word of his mother Adomnan turned and set the head on the neck, and made a sign of the cross with his staff over the woman’s breast, and the woman rose.
“Alas O my great lord of the Elements,” she said.
“What makes you say Alas?” said Admnan.
“My having been put to the sword on the battlefield, and then my having been put in the pains of hell. I do not know anyone, either here or there, who would do me any kindness or a mercy for me except for Adomnan and the Virgin Mary urging him on behalf of the community of heaven.
G. Markus (trans. & eds.) Adomnans Law of the Innocents