Jeremy Felt

A Curse From Buile Suibhne

Buile Suibhne is an epic tale (full text here) of an over temperamental Irish king, his confrontation with a bishop, and the resulting curse.

During a blessing from the bishop, Suibhne, over-sensing a mocking rather than a blessing, kills a psalmist near the bishop before throwing a spear at the bishop himself. The spear nicks the bishop’s bell instead and causes him to thrust forward a curse on Suibhne:

My curse on Suibne!
great is his guilt against me,
his smooth, vigorous dart
he thrust through my holy bell.

That bell which though hast wounded
will send thee among branches,
so that thou shalt be one with the birds–
the bell of saints before saints.

Even as in an instant went
the spear-shaft on high,
mayst thou go, O Suibne,
in madness, without respite!

Though hast slain my foster-child,
though hast reddened thy spear in him,
thou shalt have in return for it
that with a spear-point thou shalt die….

My blessing on Eorann!
Eorann fair without decay:
through suffering without stint
my curse on Suibne!

At which point the curse took immediate effect and sent Suibhne hopping from spot to spot in total madness.

Lesson learned – don’t be over temperamental to a bishop.

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