Macha turned to the bystanders. “Help me,” she cried, ” for a mother hath borne each of you! Give me but a short delay till I am delivered.”
But the king and all the crowd in their savage lust for sport would hear of no delay.
“Then bring up the horses,” said Macha, “and because you have no pity a heavier infamy shall fall upon you.”
So she raced against the horses, and outran them, but as she came to the goal she gave a great cry, and her travail seized her, and she gave birth to twin children. As she uttered that cry, however, all the spectators felt themselves seized with pangs like her own and had no more strength than a woman in her travail.
And Macha prophesied “From this hour the shame you have wrought on me will fall upon each man of Ulster. In the hours of your greatest need ye shall be weak and helpless as women in childbirth, and this shall endure for five days and four nights – to the ninth generation the curse shall be upon you.”
And so it came to pass; and this is the cause of the Debility of the Ultonians that was wont to afflict the warriors of the province.
—A still life by Sara Star inspired by the above quote of Macha’s Curse from Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race by Thomas Rolleston