The Celtic Literature Collective

Two Tracts on Augury

(H.3.17, col. 803, l. 12)
Madh congaire an fiach os imdha comdluthta a medon an tighe is ardgres liath no chlerig ticc cucad, acht ata deithbir eturru .i. mad laoch clerech is bacach adeir an fiach, madh fer graidh is gradh gradh congair 7 is fo do do ló congair. Madh gresa oclaic[h] no caintidh ticc and is graacc gracc congair, no as grob grob 7 i lleith ad diaigh congair 7 as as tecaid na gressa. Mad gracc gracc congair fordhighthir na hoicc dia ngair. Mad mna tic [col. 804-5]1 and is foda congair. Mad congaire don aird aniartuaidh don tigh meirligh ar ti na n-each do ghaid. Mad ar dorus an tighe congair coimighthi no amhuis ticc ann. Mad os dorus congair cainti no gresa do lucht comaitechta righ tic ann. Mad os imda in fir maith congair airm a mbia a gascidh 7 se ac dul for fecht ni ticfa slan 7 minab eadh ticcfa imslan. Madh í in ben nodbebhus is andsan adhart congair. Mad a cosuibh imdha in fir congair ticfa a mac no a brathair no a chliamain don tigh. Mad a forimel na cuiled airm a mbi an biadh inti congair is tormach mbidh don leith asa ngair .i. carna no cetbleghon bo. Madh ider an cuilidh 7 tene a aighidh, aidhigh combind2 ticc don tigh. Mad nesu do mnai an tighe airm a mbi na suidi it le na greasa .i. cilamuin no cara. Mad fri cuilid andes congair altrum no gresu a céin ticc don tigh. Mad guth bec asberu .i. err err no úr úr galar for nec[h] isin tigh no for ni dia ceathra. Mad coin ticc fona caorchaib as don cru caorach congair no a n-urcomuir na mna maithi 7 is edh adeir carna carna grob grob coin coin. Mad congaire do chleith an tighe an tan bithter ag longud caithid an longud sin. Mad do c[h]loich congair tasc athaigh sin. Mad do chrund ard congair tascc oigtigerna indsin. Madh do chleith in craind tasc ri[g] no meic saorcheneoil. Mad dia ndech leat for feacht no romat 7 mad failidh fair bidh maith do thurus 7 doberthar úrcharna duit. Mad tuat[h]bil dotes 7 congair fort belaib is tru3 forsa ngair amlaid no fordergadh for neach don foirind. Mad for do belaib ac dul docum dala coimeirghi4 inti. Mad tuaithbel dodeocha marbthar nech don coimeirghe sin. Mad congair[e] de chuil na n-each rneirlig fora ti. Mad dia soa foen ocai 7 dia n-abra grob grob gadtar ni dona hechaib 7 ni fuidhbiter 7 rt.

(ib. col. 831, l. 12)
Mad congaire an ceanandan duit anair turus daine craibtheach cucad co n-agairbe fort. Madh anairdes gaires an drean druith uallcha doroith. Mad aniar esurraidh5 dobi cucaib. Mad anairtuaidh goires aes lasa mbi cele fesa no mna tic and. Mad atuaidh is inmuin leat anti tic and. Mad aniartuaidh tic aes craibthech tic and. Mad od leith anneas gai(res)6 acht minab edrud 7 grian turus inmuin tic cucaib. Mad edrut 7 gri(an)7 guin duine dil duit no adharc fort budéin. Mad ad cluais cli comrac fri hóg ua cein no fess la mnai óic. Mad ad deaghaidh gaires guidhi do mna d’fer ele dod c[h]ind. Mad for talmain tis ad deaghaid berthar do ben uaid ar eigin. Mad anair gaires an drean aes dana do thiachtain cuccad no scela uathaibh. Mad andes i[d] diaigh gaires taisigh clerech maith nodcífi no tasc athlaoch uasul adcluinfe. Mad aniardhes gaires ladraind 7 drochbachlaigh 7 drochmhna do t[h]iachtuin cucad. Mad aniar drochdhaine gail tic ann. Mad aniartuaidh gaires deghlaoch soc[h]enelach 7 brugadha uaisle 7 mná maithi dothic ann. Mad atuaigh gaires drochdaine tic ann, gidhad oig gidhad clerigh cidad drochmna 7 aos ochaid aingidh do rochtain. Mad andes gaires galur no coin allta for do c[h]ethruib. Mad do t[h]almain no do c[h]loich no do chrois gaires tasc duine moir indisis duit. Mad do c[h]rosuib imda gaires ar daine sin 7 in lin fechtus teid8 forsin talmain is ed in lin marb dlomus, 7 an leth forsa mbi a aghaid is as dlomus na mairb.


If the raven call from above an enclosed bed in the midst of the house, it is a distinguished grey-haired guest or clerics that are coming to thee, but there is a difference between them: if it be a lay cleric (?) the raven says bacach; if it be a man in orders it calls gradh gradh and twice in the day it calls.9 If it be warrior guests or satirists that are coming it is gracc grace it calls, or grob grob, and it calls in the quarter behind thee, and it is thence that the guests are coming. If it call gracc gracc the warriors are oppressed- (?) to whom it calls.10 If women are coming it calls long.11 If it call from the north-east end of the house, robbers are about to steal the horses. If it call from the house door, strangers12 or soldiers are coming. If it call from above the door, satirists or guests from a king’s retinue are coming. If it call from above the goodman’s bed, the place where his weapons will be, and he going on a journey, he will not come back safe ; but if not, he will come back sound. If it is the woman who is about to die, it is from the pillow it calls. If it call from the foot of the man’s bed, his son or his brother or his son-in-law will come to the house. If it call from the edge of the storehouse where the food is kept, there will be increase of food from the quarter it calls, that is, flesh-meat or first milking of kine. If its face be between the storehouse and the fire, agreeable (?) guests are coming to the house. If it be near to the woman of the house, where her seat is, the guests are for her, namely, a son-in-law or a friend. If it call from the south of the storehouse, fosterage or guests from afar are coming to the house. If it speak with a small voice, that is, err err or úr úr, sickness will fall on some one in the house or on some of the cattle. If wolves are coming among the sheep, it is from the sheep-fold it calls, or from over against the good woman, and what it says is carna carna (flesh), groh grob, coin coin (wolves). If it call from the roof-tree of the house when people are eating, they throw away that food.13 If it call from a stone, it is death-tidings14 of an aithech.15 If it call from a high tree, then it is death-tidings of a young lord. If from the top of the tree, death-tidings of a king or a youth of noble lineage. If it go with thee on a journey or in front of thee, and if it be joyful,16 thy journey will prosper and fresh meat will be given to thee. If thou come left-hand-wise and it calls before thee, he is a doomed man on whom it calls thus, or it is the wounding17 of some one of the company. If it be before thee when going to an assembly, there will be an uprising therein. If it be left-hand-wise it has come, some one is slain in that uprising. If it call from the corner where the horses are, robbers are about to attack them. If it turn on its back thereat and says grob grob, some of the horses will be stolen and they will not be recovered, and so on.

If the little white-headed one call to thee from the east, pious men are journeying towards thee, with discourtesy for thee (?). If the wren call from the south-east, it is proud jesters that are coming. If from the south-west, ex-freemen18 (?) are coming to you.19 -If it call from the north-east, folk with a bedfellow or women are coming. If it be from the north, dear to thee is he that is coming. If it come from the northwest, pious folk are on the way. If it call from the south side of thee, provided it be not between thee and the sun, a fond visitation is coming to you. If it be between thee and the sun, it is the slaying of a man that is dear to thee, or a horn on thyself. If it be at thy left ear, union with a young man from afar, or sleeping with a young woman. If it call from behind thee, importuning of thy wife by another man in despite of thee. If it be on the ground behind thee, thy wife will be taken from thee by force. If the wren call from the east, poets are coming towards thee, or tidings from them. If it call behind thee from the south, thou wilt see the heads of good clergy, or hear death-tidings of noble ex-laymen. If it call from the south-west, robbers and evil rustics and bad women are coming towards thee. If it be from the west, wicked kinsmen are coming. If it call from the north-west, a noble hero of good lineage and noble hospitallers and good women are coming. If it call from the north, bad people are coming, whether warriors or clerics or bad women, and wicked youths are on the way. If it call from the south, sickness or wolves among thy herds. If it be from the ground or from a stone or from a cross it calls, death-tidings of a great man it relates to thee. If it call from many crosses, it is a slaughter of men, and the number of times it alights on the ground is the number of dead it announces, and the quarter towards which its face is, from thence are the dead it announces.


1. The writing runs across the page, which is numbered as though there were two columns.

2. com bind MS

3. MS has t with v-like symbol suprascript; an r following has been erased.

4. coim eirghi MS.

5. es urraidh MS.

6. res smudged and illegible.

7. smudge here.

8. Between t and e a letter has been erased.

9. fodo MS. = fo dó—‘far in the day,’ O’Curry.

10. This passage is somewhat obscure. Could fordighthir be for fordingtir, a 3 pl. pass. formed on fordingit, 3 pl. pres. ind. (PH 4303)? The regular O.-Ir. form would be fordengtar, cp. fordengar, 3 sg. pres. pass., MI. 57d7, gl. depremitur, see Pedersen, Vergi. Gramrn. II. 505.

11. foda ass., but?=fo dó (O.—Ir. fo dl) ‘twice.’

12. comaithech, ‘a neighbour, stranger, tenant, plebeian’ (Contribb.) ; in Laws generally ‘neighbour’ (Atk.), but here probably ‘strangers, foreigners,’ Mod. coimhightheach (Dinneen).

13. caithim, when used in reference to food, means ‘to eat or consume it,’ which would he pointless as a prognostication here. Bergin suggests that the negative particle may have been accidentally omitted ‘they do not consume that food.’

14. tásc here and elsewhere I have taken to mean the ‘report of a death,’ cp. Fél. Oengusso, Jan. 18, bás (tásc Rawl., etc.) mór máthar Issu, and Mélusine v. 85, tasc fir nó mná don muinntir . . . tasc righ no is dith naircne and O’Grady’s note, ‘‘rumour,” etc. - . . very commonly any facinus giving rise to such rumour.’

15. aithech, a somewhat analogous to plebeian (Atkinson, Laws), also a ‘peasant, boor, clown.’ (Contribb.)

16. Either failte should be read, or fair omitted.

17. fordergadh means ‘crimsoning’ in the sense of a flesh wound, cp. Acallamh no Senórach, ad. Stokes, 6625, or ‘blushing,’ i.e. ‘disgrace,’ ‘shaming’ (cp. Cath Cat harda, Glossary), which is the rendering given by O’Curry. But then he translates trú ‘ coward.’

18. urrad is a freeman or yeoman; for examples see Atkinson’s Glossary to the Ancient Laws. The only instance I can find of esurraid is that in the First Battle of Moytura (supra p. 40) : amhais 7 esurcud cuigid Connacht, where it is rendered ‘chieftains.’

19. dobi is odd. I fancy the scribe has committed here an error of haplology, and that de thiachtain should be read. The original had probably dotisai qcaib?

Best, R.I. "Prognostications from the Raven and the Wren," Ériu, VIII (Dublin, 1916), pp. 120-126.