(drink * for me)
Give me a drink!
Only one of the men of Scotland survived the Battle of Mag Rath, and he managed to swim home. Upon reaching shore, his lord asked him “Scéla lat?” (Do you have news?) His reply was “Deog dam!” Only after being given three cups of ale was he able to relate the sad news, after which he fell dead. A very similar exchange is found in the story of how Colum Cille liberated the hostage Scannlán by miraculous means (i.e. he sent an angel). In Geoffrey Keating’s telling of the story, Scannlán was aflicted by a terrible thirst because his captors had fed him salted meat with no drink to follow. According to Keating, Scannlán was also rewarded with three drinks. The modern proverb “Is túisce deoch ná scéal” (A drink comes before a story) sums up this anecdote rather nicely! And finally, for another version of this latter, see the discussion of “Trí búada insci” in this collection.