The Processes of Composition

“Well then Adomnan,” said Ronnat, “it has been given to you now to free the women of the western world. Neither food nor drink will go into you’re mouth until the women have been set free  by you.”

“No living creature can be without food,” said Adomnan. “If my eyes see it, my hands will reach out for it.”

Then Ronnat went to Burgach son of Deda and got a chain from him. She put it around her son’s breast under the bridge of Loch Swilly in Cenel Conaill, the place where the covenant had been made between his mothers kindred, i.e. between Cenel nEndai and (Cenel) Lugdach, so that whoever should fulfill it would dwell with Adomnan in heaven. And she takes a stone which is used for striking fire, it filled her hand. She puts it into one of her sons cheeks, so it was his satisfaction in food and drink.

After that at the end of eight months, his mother came to see him, and she saw the top of his head. “My little son there,” she said, “is like an apple on the wave. Little is his grasp on earth, and he has not a prayer in heaven, but salt has burned him and the gulls have shat on his head. And I see that women have still not been freed by him.”

“Its my lord who ought to carry the blame, dear mother,” he said. “For Christ’s sake, change my suffering!”

This is the change of suffering she made for him, and not many women would do this to their son: she buried him in the chest of stone in Raphoe of Tir Choniall, so that maggots ate the root of his tongue, and the slime of his head burst out through his ears. After that she took him to Carric in Chulinn, and he stayed there another eight months.


G. Markus (ed. & trans.) Law of the Innocents





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