Scéal Na Mac Tíre - A Wolf Story


Dhá bá bhreátha - Two fine cows

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Transformation into wolves is a favourite subject of legends around the world, and many a wild tale is told by the peasants round the turf fire in the winter nights of strange adventures with wolves. Stories that had come down to them from their forefathers in the old times long ago. The story we have here would be an 'import'. There are quite a few instances of this sort of thing ... soldiers bringing home foreign tales and their being subsequently 'incorporated' into the native Irish tradition. These stories are intended to inculcate desireable behaviour models into children like generosity or kindness, which the Irish mainly favour in such tales. The last wolf in Ireland was killed in Wicklow in the 18th Century. There are no wolves existing in Ireland today.

    
Fadó ó shin, bhí feirmeóir óg ann. Connúir dob ainm dó agus cad do tharla ach chaill sé dhá bá bhreátha as a thréad agus ní raibh scéal na tuarisc le fáil ortha. D'imigh sé amach ar a thóir ar fud na tire agus bata draighin ina lámh aige. Shiúil sé i bhfad ar fud an lae ach ní fhaca sé faic. Um tráthnóna agus é túirseach agus ocrasach go maith ní raibh didean ná díon le feiscint aige ach in ndeireadh na dála chonnaic sé botháinín fada iseal i bhfad uaidh. Bhí cuma fiain ar an áit agus cheap sé b'fhéidir go raibh beithíoch allta nó robálaí ina gcómhnui ann uair éigin. Cuma ar bith, ó nach raibh an dara rogha aige chuaidh sé anonn agus cnág sé ar an ndoras. Ní raibh faic le cloiscint le tamall ach toisc go raibh solus beag ag lonnrach amach fé bhun an dorais, d'éirigh dóchas éigin ina chroí aige. D'oscail seanfhear ard, tanaí an doras dó agus bhí súile dubha géara ina cheann aige.

A young farmer, named Connor, once missed two fine cows from his herd, and no tale or tidings could be heard of them anywhere. So he thought he would set out on a search throughout the country; and he took a stout blackthorn stick in his hand, and went his way. All day he travelled miles and miles, but never a sign of the cattle. And the evening began to grow very dark, and he was wearied and hungry, and no place near to rest in; for he was in the midst of a bleak, desolate heath, with never a habitation at all in sight, except a long, low, rude shieling,* like the den of a robber or a wild beast. But a gleam of light came from a chink between the boards, and Connor took heart and went up and knocked at the door. It was opened fit once by a tall, thin, grey-haired old man, with keen, dark eyes.

    
"Tar isteach,"ar seisean, "Tá fáilte romhat. Bhíomar ag feitheamh ort. 'Sí seo mo bhean chéile," agus thóg sé anonn go dti an tinteán é – áit in a raibh seanbhean aosta, tanaí ina suí, gruaigh lía agus fiachail fada géara ina béal aice agus sûile uafásacha le solus nimhneach ina ceann "Tá fáilte romhat," ar sise "Bhíomar ag feitheamh ort – tá sé in am suipéira. Suí isteach agus bí ag ithe linn."

"Come in," he said, "you are welcome. 'We have been waiting for you. This is my wife," and he brought him over to the hearth, where was seated an old, thin, grey woman, with long, sharp teeth and terrible glittering eyes. "You are welcome," she said. "We have been waiting for you - it is time for supper. Sit down and eat with us."

    
Fear calma, misniúil dob ea Connúir, ach bhí saghas imní air roimh an áit seo. Cuma ar bith, chuimhnigh sé go raibh a bhata laidir lena chois agus cheap sé go mbeadh sé ar a chumas troid ar son a anama pé scéal é. Idir an dhá linn beadh sé ag leigint a scithe agus ag ithe rud ó bhi túir sé agus ocras air. Bhí sé ag smaoineamh dó féin go raibh dubh na hoiche ann anois agus nach mbeadh féidir leis a slí abhaile fáil taobh amuigh den teach. Shuí sé síos in aice leis an dtinteán, agus bhí an seana bhean ag meascadh an phota. Bhí fhios mhaith ag Connúir go raibh sí ag fáire air ar fud an ama lena dhá súile géara nimhneacha.

Now Connor was a brave fellow, but he was a little dazed at first at the sight of this strange creature. However, as he had his stout stick with him, he thought he could make a fight for his life any way, and, meantime, he would rest and eat, for he was both hungry and weary, and it was now black night, and he would never find his way home even if he tried. So he sat down by the hearth, while the old grey woman stirred the pot on the fire. But Connor felt that she was watching him all the time with her keen, sharp eyes.

    
"Tháinig cnág ar an ndoras ansin, agus d'éirigh an seanfhear féin a noscailt. Cad a tháinig isteach ach mactíre óg, tanaí dubh agus dimigh sé trasna an urlár go díreach go dtí seomra beag ar an dtaobh istigh. Tamaillín gearr ina dhiaidh sin tháinig ogánach breâ, dubh, dathúil isteach.Shuí seisean isteach chun an mbord agus d'fhéach sé go gearr ar Chonnúir lena dhá súile loinnreacha."Tá fáilte romhat," ar seisean," Bhíomar ag feitheamh ort."

Then a knock came to the door. And the old man rose up and opened it. When in walked a slender, young black wolf, who immediately went straight across the floor to an inner room, from which in a few moments came forth a dark, slender, handsome youth, who took his place at the table and looked hard at Connor with his glittering eyes. "You are welcome," he said, "we have waited for you."

    
Sar a raibh fhéidir le Chonnúir aon freagra a thabhairt, chuala cnág eile agus tháinig dara mactíre isteach agus chuaidh seisean istigh sa tseomra ar an dtaobh istigh go díreach mar a dhéin an chéad ainmhí. Cúpla nóimeataí ina dhiaidh sin tháinig ogánach dathúil eile amach agus shuí seisean isteach chun an mbord mar a dhéin an chéad duine. D'fhéach sé ar Chonnúir sa mhodh céanna ach d'fhán sé ina thost.

Before Connor could answer another knock was heard, and in came a second wolf, who passed on to the inner room like the first, and soon after, another dark, handsome youth came out and sat down to supper with them, glaring at Connor with his keen eyes, but said no word.

    
"'Siad seo ar mbéirt mac," arsa an seanfhear," Tig leat innsint leo cad tá ag teastáil uait agus cad ar thóg anseo thú nior measc – mar's rud é go mbímid inar gcomhnui in ar naonar anseo agus ní maith linn spiodórai agus stráinséiri ag teacht cugainne ar chór ar bith."

"These are our sons," said the old man, "tell them what you want, and what brought you here amongst us, for we live alone and don't care to have spies and strangers coming to our place."

    
D'innis Connúir a scéal – mar a chaill sé a dhá bá breátha agus mar a bhí sé ar a dtóir ar fud an lae and mar nior fhuair sé tasc na tuarisc ortha in áit ar bith. D'innis sé dóibh nach raibh aon eolas na haite aige agus nach raibh aon aithne aige ach cómh bheag ar an bhfear cinneálta a thug cuireadh dó teacht isteach chun bheith ag ithe – ach dá raibh aon scéal aca cá bhfaigh sé a bheithígh beadh sé buiochasach dóibh agus rachaidh sé abhaile cómh maith agus ba féidir leis gan mhoill.

Then Connor told his story, how he had lost his two fine cows, and had searched all day and found no trace of them; and he knew nothing of the place he was in, nor of the kindly gentleman who asked him to supper; but if they just told him where to find his cows he would thank them, and make the best of his way home at once.

    
Thosnuigh siad ag gáire agus d'fhéach siad ar a chéile agus bhí cuma níos measa ar an sean chailleach sa chúinne nuair d'oscail sí a gob agus thaispeán sí a cuid fiachaill. Tháinig racht feirge ar Chonnúir agus thóg sé greim daingean ar a bhata. Sheas sé suas agus dhubhairt sé leo an doras a oscailt dó ó nach rabhadar ach ag magadh faoi.

Then they all laughed and looked at each other, and the old hag looked more frightful than ever when she showed her long, sharp teeth. On this, Connor grew angry, for he was hot tempered; and he grasped his blackthorn stick firmly in his hand and stood up, and bade them open the door for him; for he would go his way, since they would give no heed and only mocked him.

    
Ansin, sheas an chéad stócach suas. "Fán nóimeat," ar seisean "Is fíain agus dona na daoine sinn ach ní dhéinimid dearmad choíche ar rud éigin cinneálta a fhuair sinn uair den tsaol. An cuimhin leat lá amhain síos sa ghleanna nuair a tháinig tusa ar mhactire bocht beag agus é ag fáil bháis ó bhí dealg istigh ina thaobh ? Nach cuimhin leat mar a thóg tú an dealg amach agus thug deoch dó agus ansin d'imthig tú ar do shlí abhaile agus d'fhág tú go compórdach agus ag fáil biseach é ?

Then the eldest of the young men stood up. "Wait," he said, "we are fierce and evil, but we never forget a kindness. Do you remember, one day down in the glen you found a poor little wolf in great agony and like to die, because a sharp thorn had pierced his side? And you gently extracted the thorn and gave him a drink, and went your way leaving him in peace and rest?"

    
Seadh, is maith is cuimhin liom é," arsa Connúir," agus is cuimhin liom cómh maith mar a bhí sé ag liorú mo lámaibh le neart bhuiochais. "Bhuel," arsa an fearóg, "Is mise an mactíre sin agus tabharfad cabhair duit má's féidir liom, ach fán linn anocht agus ná biodh aon imní ort ar chór ar bith!" Agus mar sin, shuí siad go léir síos chun ithe agus bhí féasta breá aca le 'togha gach bí agus rogha gach dí' go dtí gur thit an choladh ortha. Ní raibh aon fhios níos mó ag Connúir go dtí gur oscail sé a shúile ar maidin agus fhuair sé é féin i lar a phairce mhóir féin bhun chruaich fhéir. Dúirt sé in aigne féin,"Táimse cinnte nach rabhas ag brionglóidí aréir agus nach raibh an mactíre breá óg ud ag cur an dallamullóg orm ach comh bheag ! Le cúnamh Dé beidh mo dhá ainmhí romham sa bhaile."

"Aye, well do I remember it," said Connor, "and how the poor little beast licked my hand in gratitude." "Well," said the young man, "I am that wolf, and I shall help you if I can, but stay with us tonight and have no fear." So they sat down again to supper and feasted merrily, and then all fell fast asleep, and Connor knew nothing more till he awoke in the morning and found himself by a large hay-rick in his own field. "Now surely," thought he, "the adventure of last night was not all a dream, and I shall certainly find my cows when I go home; for that excellent, good young wolf promised his help, and I feel certain he would not deceive me."

    
Ach nuair a tháinig sé abhaile agus d'fhéach sé isteach san ioth lai ní raibh rian na radharch a bhuaibh féin le feiscint. D'éirigh sé an bhrónach ach ag an nóimeat sin, thug sé fé ndeara in aice leis trí bá ag innealt agus bhíodar na trí bo bhreátha da bhfeacha riamh. "Is dócha gur le duine de na gcomharsan iad agus tháinig siad isteach i mo phaircsa ar seachráin," ar seisean leis féin, agus thóg sé a bhata chun iad a sheóladh amach as an bpairc. Ach nuair a shrois sé geata na pairce, chonnaic sé mactíre óg dubh ag fáire ortha agus nuar d'íarraigh na bá dul an gheata amach, sheol sé iad thár nais. Ansin thuig Chonnúir gur choimead an mactíre a ghealtanas. Mar sin. Lig sé na bá isteach sa phairc go chúin agus go socair, agus d'fhán siad ann agus bhíodar an tréad dob'fhearr iad sa tir ar fad agus tá a síol ag déanamh go hiontach go dtí an lá atá inniu ann. Tá fhios maith againn nior chailtear dea-bheart riamh ach tugann sé ádh mór don té a dhéannan go deó, mar a deireann an seanfhocal:
"Níor dhéin Dia dearmad ar dea-bheart riamh!"

But when he arrived home and looked over the yard and the stable and the field, there was no sign nor sight of the cows. So he grew very sad and dispirited. But just then he espied in the field close by three of the most beautiful strange cows he had ever set eyes on. "These must have strayed in," he said, "from some neighbour's ground;" and he took his big stick to drive them out of the gate off the field. But when he reached the gate, there stood a young black wolf watching; and when the cows tried to pass out at the gate he bit at them, and drove them back. Then Connor knew that his friend the wolf had kept his word. So he let the cows go quietly back to the field; and there they remained, and grew to be the finest in the whole country, and their descendants are flourishing to this day, and Connor grew rich and prospered; for a kind deed is never lost, but brings good luck to the doer for evermore, as the old proverb says:
"Blessings are won, by a good deed done.

    
Níor tháinig Connúir ar an bhotháinín sin riamh arís cé gur chuaidh sé ar a thóir go minic chun buiochas a thabhairt mar ba cheart dó do na mictire chairdiúla agus níor chas sé ar duine den chlann ach cómh bheag.

But never again did Connor find that desolate heath or that lone shieling,* though he sought far and wide, to return his thanks, as was due to the friendly wolves; nor did he ever again meet any of the family.

    
* shieling - this was also the word for a temporary hut built for domestic or agricultural use and associated with a pasture to which animals were driven for grazing

The pop-up phonetics are an approximation provided by a student of Irish. For official standard phonetics consult the dictionary Foclóir Poca or the larger edition Foclóir Scoile.

Courtesy of Jack & Vivian, IrishPage.com April, 2007
Wolf = Mac Tire or Faolchú Replay background music: Slevnamoan.
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