They further said that Concobar was chief and ruler among them, the strong and masterful leader, able to uphold their cause amongst men. So indeed it befell, for the sedition of Fergus and his fight to avenge his wrong upon Concobar failed, so that he fled defeated to Meave, Queen of Connacht, at her stronghold amid the lakes whence issues forth the Shannon.

It was Dethcaen's nursling, the ex-pupil of Fergus Mac Roy, the little boy Setanta grown into a terrible and irresistible hero. It was by his defence of Ulster on that occasion against Fergus and Meave and the four provinces, that Cuculain acquired his deathless glory and became the chief hero of the north-west of the world.

His sister, Norah, to quiet him had told him over and over again the tales which delighted him, the delight of hearing which was second only to the delight of living them over himself, when as Cuculain he kept the ford which led to Ulla, his sole hero heart matching the hosts of Meave; or as Fergus he wielded the sword of light the Druids made and gave to the champion, which in its sweep shore away the crests of the mountains; or as Brian, the ill-fated child of Turann, he went with his brothers in the ocean-sweeping boat farther than ever Columbus traveled, winning one by one in dire conflict with kings and enchanters the treasures which would appease the implacable heart of Lu.

After many a foray had gone forth against Ulad, crossing the level plains, it befell that Meave and Ailill her lord disputed between them as to which had the greatest wealth; nor would either yield until their most precious possessions had been brought and matched the one against the other.

The army of Meave fled westwards and southwards towards Connacht, passing the Yellow Ford of Athboy and the Hill of Ward, the place of sacrifice, where the fires on the Day of Spirits summoned the priests and Druids to the offering. Fleeing still westwards from the Yellow Ford, they passed between the lakes of Owel and Ennel, with the men of Ulad still hot in their rear.

Cuculain, too, the war-loving son of Sualtam, shall rise again, in whom one part of our national genius finds its perfect flower. We shall hear the thunder of his chariot, at the Battle of the Headland of the Kings, when Meave the winsome and crafty queen of Connacht comes against him, holding in silken chains of her tresses the valiant spirit of Fergus.

If we leave out the basin of the Mediterranean, with its Asian and African traditions, Ireland is the one European nation which has clear records of its pagan history. And how excellent that history was, how full of humanity and the rich wine of life, the stories of Fergus and Concobar and Cuculain, of Find and Ossin and Gael, of Meave and Deirdré and Credé bear sufficient witness.

The chieftains and provincial kings lived in state within their forts, with their loyal warriors around them, feasting and making merry, and the bards and heralds recited for their delight the great deeds of the men of old, their forefathers; the harpers charmed or saddened them with the world-old melodies that Deirdré had played for Naisi, that Meave had listened to, that Credé sang for her poet lover.

At that same place had grown up a dwelling with a fortress, and there was the brown bull that Meave heard the report of. She sent, therefore, and her embassy bore orders to Dairé, the owner of the bull, asking that the bull might be sent to her for a year, and offering fifty heifers in payment.

I would add to this chapter a notice I have just recently lighted on of the ancient warrior, Queen Meave of Ireland. She is represented as tall and beautiful, terrible in her battle chariot, when she drove full speed into the press of fighting men. Her virtues were those of a warlike barbarian king, and she claimed the like large liberty in morals.