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Henry Masterman Mist Diaries and Prisoners Pie Magazine

Diaries of Heny Masterman Mist and a copy of Prisoners’ Pie, the Ruhleben Camp magazine. Learn more.

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BC Archives MS-2570

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years old. Forty oxen were brought into the hall after it by way dessert. No wonder that it should "bring slaughter on the men of Erin."

For it was the custom in those times that only the worthiest, that is the greatest hero, of the company present should be allowed to carve and portion out the meat. The question naturally arose. "Who was he?" Bricriu Poison Tongue, professional mischief-maker, thinks that it may be easily settled, vis. by combat. "let each of the warriors or Erin therefore give his neighbour a blow upon the nose". "So be it," says Conchobar, king of Ulster. "There are lads in the house that have many a time gone round the border."

Thereupon begins a wordy warfare. "Thou wilt need thy lads tonight, oh Conchobar", says an old warrior from the West. "The roadsof Luachra Dedad have often seen their baks turned. Many a fat beeve have they left with me." "Twas a fatter beeve thou leftest with me," said Muinremar mac Gerrginn, namely thine own brother. Creeny the Pict from Cruchan'. "Not better was he" said another warrior, "than Irloth the Tall, son of Fergus, who was killed by Echbel mac Dedadh in Temuir Luachra." "What sort of man think ye him" said Celtchar Maguire. "Echbel, whom I slew myself and cut off his head!"

So the wrangling continues until one man puts the whole company to silence, a Connaught hero named Cet mac Magach. He sit down by the pig with his knife in his hand and challenges the men of Ulster to produce a hero equal to him. A number of them come forward, but he puts each of them to shame by some story of his own prowess that makes them appear in a ridiculous light. As Thus:

"Thou shalt not divide the pig yet," says an old white-haired warrior. "Who is that?" said Ced. "A better man than thou art" say all, "Angus son of Lam Gabaid (lit Hand-Wail) from Ulster. Why is his father called Hand-Wail?" says Cet. "We know not" say all. "But I know" says Ced. "I went Eastward once on a raid. Men cried out round about me (i.e. gave the alarm). Every one came and with them Lam. He made a cast with a large lance at me. I threw the same lance back at him and it took off one of his hands so that it fell to the ground. How then should his son be able to face me?" Angus then retired to his seat. Another man is reminded that he has lost an eye by Cet's lance, or that Cet has but lately "cleaned his spear in him" taking from him at the same time "three head of cattle and the head of his eldest son!" Finally, as he is about to begin carving he meets his match in a hero who has just entered the hall. Conall Cernach (i.e. the Victorious), the man who "since he first took up arms has never let a day pass without slaying a Connaughtman under his knee". He convinces Cet in the most drastic manner, -- that is to say, by "taking the head of a fresh-killed Connaught hero from his belt and hurling it at his chest so that the blood gushed from his lips" -- that he himself

BC Archives, MS-2570 Box 1 File 6 MIST, Henry Masterman Ruhleben magazine, Prisoners’ Pie, 1916

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