Ní fes cía cú rot·chac for otrach.

Ní fes cía cú rot·chac for otrach.

(is-not * knowledge * which * hound * shit you * on * dunghill)

No one knows what dog shit you out onto a dunghill!

This insult, which forcefully implies low-born ancestry or illegitimacy, is found as “na fes cia cu rot hac for otrach” in MS Harleian 5280. I’ve edited it slightly. It is spoken by a frustrated playmate of they boy Máel Dúin. Having been repeatedly bested in sports, the playmate throws the lad’s lack of an acknowledged mother and father in his face. The earliest version of this event is found in the LU version of “Immram Curaigh Maíle Dúin” (The Voyage of Mael Duin’s Boat), where the reproach is couched in less crude language:

“Tussu,” ol se, “nad fess can cland ná cenél duit, ⁊ nicon fes mátair ná hathair…”
“You,” he said, “that no one knows your family or tribe nor your mother or father…”

A cruder reproach is found in the version of the tale found in The Yellow Book of Lecan, a more recent manuscript:

“Ale, a Mael Duin,” ar se, “tusu na fes can cland na cenel ⁊ na fes cia cu rod cumthusin for otrach…”
“Well, Máel Dúin,” said he, “who no one knows his family or tribe, nor knows what hound birthed you on a dunghill…”

The most recent version of this insult was still to heard in the Gaeltacht in the last century:

“Níl a fhios cén cú a chac é ná cén madra gearr a bhaist é (.i. a mhún air)!”

Topics: Curses & Insults