Echtra Nerai. Irish title for an Old Irish narrative known in English as The Adventure of Nera. Although a part of the Ulster Cycle, this tale of supernatural horror on Samain, a time when demons were thought to be about, is set in Connacht.
|View of Rathcroghan mound|
As the court of Ailill and Medb celebrates the feast of Samain at Cruachain, Ailill offers a prize to any man brave enough to tie a withe around the leg of either of the two captives whose corpses have been left hanging on the gallows outside. After Nera fails in three attempts, one of the corpses offers some advice: use a peg. He then complains of thirst, for he has died thirsty. Nera carries the corpse on a circuitous search for water; when they find it, the corpse spits it upon an innocent household, all of whom die. At this Nera carries the corpse back to the gallows; but when he returns to Cruachain he finds all the residents decapitated and the court burned—or so it appears. He follows warriors into the cave of Cruachain (known conventionally as ‘Ireland’s gate to hell’), where he sees the ruler of the sídh displaying heads on spikes. The denizens are clearly dead men, as each remarks to his neighbour that there must be a living man in the procession because it has become heavier.
|Cave of Cruachain|