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A Legend of Lough Mask - A Celtic Legend narrated by Baba Indaba

A Legend of Lough Mask – A Celtic Legend narrated by Baba Indaba

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 66

 

In Issue 66 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Celtic/Irish Legend of Eva waiting for her lover Cormac O’Flaherty to arrive from a long journey. But Cormac has been waylaid by the jealous and gigantic Eamonn Dubh while on rushing to his beloved. What happens next and how did the legend come to be you ask? Well you’ll just have to download and read the story to find out!

 

Each issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.

 

eBook link: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_THE_LEGEND_OF_LOUGH_MASK_A_Celtic_Leg?id=Ji0ODAAAQBAJ

 

INCLUDES LINKS TO 8 FREE DOWNLOADS

 

Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.

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Thirteen books in one set containing Celtic Folklore, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends - A Black Friday Discount Special

Thirteen books in one set containing Celtic Folklore, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends – A Black Friday Discount Special

 

In these 13 volumes you will find 503 Celtic folk and fairy tales, myths and legends from across Western Europe. Tales like :

The Spear of Victory,

How the Son Gobhaun Saor Shortened the Road,

Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary,

The Fate of the Children of Lir,

King O’toole and St. Kevin,

Fair, Brown and Trembling,

The King Of Erin and The Queen Of The Lonesome Island, plus 496 more!

 

Buy eBooks link: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Various_CELTIC_LEGENDS_13_BOOKSET_BLACK_FRIDAY_SPE?id=HoCIDQAAQBAJ

Buy Paperbacks Link: http://abelapublishing.com/celtic-legends-13-bookset–black-friday-special-40-off_p27279571.htm

 

The books in this set are:
ISBN: 978-1-907256-05-9 – Celtic Fairy Tales, 358pg, 26 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-32-5 – Legends and Popular Tales of the Basque People, 318pg, 13 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-36-3 – Celtic Wonder Tales, 202pg, 13 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-27-1 – More Celtic Fairy Tales, 274pg, 20 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-02-8 – Popular Tales of the West Highlands Vol 1, 334pg, 23 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-06-6 – Popular Tales of the West Highlands Vol 2, 314pg,  30 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-93-6 – Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales, 392pg, 23 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-92-9 – The Four Ancient Books of Wales, 606pg, 131 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-68-4 – Welsh Fairy Book, 284pg, 85 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-03-5 – Welsh Fairy Tales and Other Stories, 100pg, 24 stories
ISBN: 978-1-909302-42-6 – THE HIGH DEEDS OF FINN and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland, 328pg, 20 stories
ISBN: 978-1-907256-77-6 – The Phynodderree – tales from the Isle of Man, 188pg, 5 stories
ISBN: 978-1-909302-39-6 – Dragon Tales For Boys Only, 318pg, 28 stories

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 50
In Issue 50 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Celtic story about how a hard-hearted woman shoos away a stray dog and how another woman shows kindness and compasion to another. The tale tells of which of the two women the fairies rewarded and whom they did not.
This issue also has a “Where in the World – Look it Up” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.
Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.
 
A Fairy Dog

A Fairy Dog

 

THE Leprechaun–that flash from elf-land–was perched comfortably upon the west window ledge, high up in Ardmore Tower. Dawn was just beginning to send misty, gray lights over the rolling land. Winds that have blown since the world began were blowing around the old Irish tower. It was the south wind, this morning, that was blowing the strongest–the wind from the good sea that washed the coast of Ardmore and the high-lands of Ireland. The strong, stone tower, tapering skyward, stood, as it stands today, like a silent sentinel on the “hill of the sheep”–the “great hill.” Below its conical top, two windows, east and west, looked out, and it’s on the ledge of the west one–mind you–that the Leprechaun was sitting. He had been sitting there since sundown. An iron bar, inside the tower, goes from the top of the west window to the top of the east window, and once, no one knows how long ago, seven small bells hung from this bar under the pinnacle. They are gone now, but in the old days they used to ring often.
(“That’s so,” said the Leprechaun. He was always saying “That’s so,” to agree with himself or other people–himself oftenest.)
The Tower of Ardmore, Ireland
This little elf, in red jacket and green breeches who spends most of his days and some of his nights making shoes for the fairy folk, has been working the past night on a pair of riding boots for the fairy prince who wants the boots by sunrise. Tap, tap, tap–goes the Leprechaun’s tiny hammer. Whish, whish, go his swift fingers. Hum, hum-m-m-m-, goes his little singing tune, for the Leprechaun could no more work without singing than you could sleep without shutting your eyes.
(“That’s so!” said the Leprechaun.)
 
He is only six inches high, and harder to catch than a will-o’-the-wisp. If one could ever succeed in catching him, and then could keep looking at him, he might tell–though not a bit willingly–where a wonderful crock of gold is. But do you think you could keep looking at him and at him alone? Why, just as you think you are looking at nothing else, he, somehow, makes you look away from him, and, ochone, he is gone! He’s that clever.
(“That’s so,” said the Leprechaun.)
Many an enchantment the Leprechaun can perform, for all he appears so simple as he pegs away at the riding boots. Yes, himself it is that can blight the corn or snip off hair most unexpectedly.
When he sits, cross-legged at his work, whether on a cornice of a roof or on a twig of the low bushes, it’s just as well not to let him know you are watching him. The Irish fairy folk are all like that, and draw magic out of earth and sea and sky, or else draw it out of nothing at all.
(“Do you hear that?” said the Leprechaun.)
 
Now this misty, windy dawn of a morning, thousands of days and nights ago, as the Leprechaun, up there on the gray, stone tower, tapped, tapped with his hammer, to finish the prince’s boots, promised by sunrise, his elfin mind capered around with many thoughts. The mists were beginning to shine in the dim light of early morning, and the Leprechaun’s thoughts, freshened by the south wind, were wafted over the whole land of Erin that stretched beyond the bogs and swamps, beyond the mounds and cromlechs, beyond the hills. He could tell you the colours of all the winds of Ireland. This south wind was white; the north wind, full of blackness; the west wind pale yellow, and the east wind was always a stirring, purple wind. The lesser winds, too, had their colours–yellow of furze, red of fire, gray of fog, green of meadow, brown of autumn leaves, and three more colours that mortals could not see. The Leprechaun, whenever he wished, could travel lightly on whatever wind was blowing and sing a tune as loud as any of them. This morning, in the misty dawn, it was his heart that did the travelling and it was his thoughts that sang tunes to match. When his eyes glanced from his work, toward the sea, his thoughts flew to Manannan Mac Lir, the old sea-god, riding along in his chariot, with thousands of his steeds shaking their manes as they galloped with him. For many a century, the great, slender, round tower had watched these steeds and the spirited charioteer. On many a moonlit night, it had seen invading bands crawl quietly to shore and stealthily march right up to the base of the tower with bad plans to surprise the unprotected people. Again and again the men of Ardmore had gathered their families, with provisions, safely, into the tall tower, barring the narrow door that was many feet high above the ground. There the weak ones and the women and children had lived, for days, until the invaders had been driven away. The Leprechaun laughed aloud as he thought of one stormy day when the old sea-god, Manannan Mac Lir, had bidden his horses keep the invaders from reaching the shore and the tower. The lively horses shook their manes and obeyed–ochone, but they obeyed!
 
Tap, tap, tap! The south wind, thought the Leprechaun, will be a strong one, this day! And the wind will draw music from the harps of all the Little Good Folk throughout Erin. As the Leprechaun, between his taps, looked westward, there was a break in the light morning vapor, like the gay snatch of song a maiden sings in the midst of her work; and, through the break, the elf’s long gaze swept across the river Blackwater, and beside Watergrasshill, over the moor-land to the Bochragh Mountains, and even as far as Mt. Mish. There was a tale about Mt. Mish that rushed in now upon his thinking–a tale about his ancestors, the Tuatha-de-Danann “the folk of the god whose mother is Dana.”
 
On a day, in the early age of the world, when gray moor-land and steep mountains began to blaze brilliant with purple heather and yellow furze, the Danaans, covering themselves with a fog, crept along the east coast to possess the country near Mt. Mish. Fiercely they fought with the inhabitants, the Firbolgs, and won. For a thousand years they held sway–these tall, fair-haired men of Greek descent who had come from the North. After the thousand years and one day more, new invaders, the Milesians, entering along the bank of the Inverskena River, swept up into the land, like the knowing conquerors that they were, to overcome the Danaans.
The Leprechaun now sang, with a little humming chant, the words that Amergin, chief druid of the Milesians, sang when he set his right foot on the soil of Erin:
 
                      I am the Wind that blows over the sea,
I am the Wave of the ocean;
I am the Murmur of the billows;
I am the Ox of the seven combats;
I am the Vulture upon the rock;
I am a Ray of the Sun;
I am the fairest of Plants;
. . . . . . . . . . .
When the Danaans had been conquered by the Milesians, they promised that they would dwell inside the hills or under the lakes, and that they would be invisible to mortals, except on rare occasions. This promise they had kept.
(“That’s so,” said the Leprechaun.)
 
The Leprechaun liked what the Danaans, his ancestors, had done next. The chief druid of the Danaans had raised his golden harp in the dazzling sunlight, the other druids had lifted their silver harps in the glittering morning air, and all the druids had played such deliciously enchanting melodies that the Danaans, in a long procession that seemed like a living green, had followed their leaders, laughing as they went, and singing like merry brooks or happy children. Into the mountains they had gone, disappearing before the very eyes of the Milesians. Forever afterwards they lived within the mountains and became the Ever-Living Living Ones in the Land of Youth.
 
The Leprechaun knew well that he, and all his elf kin, were descendants of those very Danaans, who still lived in their underground palaces that blazed with light and laughter. Hadn’t the drean–the wise, small wren–that druid of birds, often told him what was going on down there? Hadn’t he himself been below the tower of Ardmore, where, in a glorious hall that belonged to the Ever-Living Living Ones, the Danaans held many a gay carousal? Didn’t he hear, at times, their bells ringing under the bog, on a quiet evening? And hadn’t he, more times than once, rung the sweet bells of Ardmore–these bells which never had been rung except by one whose real home was in the Land of Youth? In the Land of Youth was the Leprechaun’s home. (Ochone, I should say!) There it had been since the day that Oisin, son of Finn, journeyed to that land. For, on the same day, without Oisin’s knowledge, the Leprechaun had sped from the green hills of Erin, through a golden haze, to the country of the Ever-Living Living Ones. Oisin was his hero, his great hero, whom he had helped, invisibly, more than he had helped anyone else. The most valiant Danaan of all was Oisin, and Oisin he would follow to the world’s end.
(“That’s so,” said the Leprechaun, as he began the fancy stitching on the prince’s riding boots.)
Now, for the thousandth time, he told himself the story of Oisin, for he liked this tale best of all: how Oisin, when hunting, met the maiden, Niam of the Golden Hair, riding her snow-white steed; how, after she sang to him a song of the enchanting “land beyond dreams,” Oisin had ridden with her to the Land of Youth (and the Leprechaun, in the shape of a butterfly, had perched on the horse’s mane); how, in the realm of her father, the king, fearless Oisin had had brave adventures.
The Leprechaun Tower - Pixie 1
He rescued a princess from a giant; subdued the three Hounds of Erin (helped by the Leprechaun who confused the hounds), and found the magic harp–a harp next in wonder to the Dagda’s harp whose strings, when touched, would sing the story of the one who last touched them. He had even tilted with the king’s cupbearer to win a gold-hilted sword, and had done other worthy deeds. No time at all, it seemed to Oisin, that magical time, in the Land of Youth, but, at last, his heart longed to see his old home. So Niam of the Golden Hair gave him her snow-white steed to ride, but charged him three times that, when he should reach the familiar places of Erin, he must not, once, set foot upon the ground or he would never be able to return to the Land of Youth. Oisin bade her farewell and, with the Leprechaun as a butterfly still on the horse’s mane, he began his homeward journey.
As he was riding along, once more, through a beautiful vale of Erin, he saw men, much smaller than himself, trying in vain to push aside a huge boulder that had rolled from the hillside down upon their tilled land. In pity for these weaklings, he instantly jumped from his saddle to the ground (not heeding the Leprechaun who, in his own form, clung with all his might, to remind him of Niam’s warning) and, with one push, he sent the boulder out of the way. Alas! Even as the men were shouting praises to their god-like helper, it seemed to Oisin that darkness bore him to the earth. When he opened his eyes, lo, he was an old man, feeble, gray-headed, gray-bearded! The men whom he had helped, had with one accord run away; but the Leprechaun, astride a twig close by, whispered words of cheer and sang part of the song of the Danaans when they went into the mountains. Oisin then roused himself and said faintly, “I hear the voice of bells.” Then he added in a resolute tone, “Whenever I shall hear sweet bells ring, young will be my heart.” Since that day, the Leprechaun had often rung bells, especially the bells of Ardmore Tower, because he knew that Oisin would hear them and feel young again.
 
Tap, tap, tap,–and the Leprechaun’s work is done. It’s little that anyone can tell about him making shoes, or about Ireland’s heroes, or about its grassy mounds of mystery. He stands up now and stretches himself. If he felt like it, he could blow a blast on the tiny, curved horn, hanging at his side, and call, from the Underland, as many merry-hearted Danaans as he chose. He could cast spells, too, on the sea, beyond the ninth wave from shore. Instead, he whisks from the west window into the tower and out again, through the east window. There he stands for a few moments–his feet braced on the highest circular cornice, his back leaning against the sloping roof top–watching the rim of the sun rise over a mountainous cloud.
 
The sky of gold is changing to the pink of a wild rose. The gray mists, over moorland and mound, are scattering as quickly as the men whom Oisin helped.
 
The Leprechaun Tower - Pixie 2
The Round Tower of Ardmore again greeted the sun, as the Leprechaun, hugging tightly the riding boots promised to the fairy prince at sunrise, swiftly slid down a sunbeam to the top of the oak tree, where the prince was waiting.
 
“Here they are, Your Highness,” said the elf, with a bow.
The prince smiled, as he took the boots, and gave the Leprechaun a piece of gold. “You’ve kept your promise,” he said.
“That’s so,” answered the Leprechaun. Then he sprang up on the rollicking south wind and flew away.
 
From: Tower Legends
ISBN: 9781907256349

It is not known, now, for what length of time the Tuatha de Danaan had the sway over Ireland, and it is likely it was a long time they had it, but they were put from it at last.

It was at Inver Slane, to the north of Leinster, the sons of Gaedhal of the Shining Armour, the Very Gentle, that were called afterwards the Sons of the Gael, made their first attempt to land in Ireland to avenge Ith, one of their race that had come there one time and had met with his death.

It is under the leadership of the sons of Miled they were, and it was from the south they came, and their Druids had told them there was no country for them to settle in till they would come to that island in the west. “And if you do not get possession of it yourselves,” they said, “your children will get possession of it.”

But when the Tuatha de Danaan saw the ships coming, they flocked to the shore, and by their enchantments they cast such a cloud over the whole island that the sons of Miled were confused, and all they could see was some large thing that had the appearance of a pig.

And when they were hindered from landing there by enchantments, they went sailing along the coast till at last they were able to make a landing at Inver Sceine in the west of Munster.

From that they marched in good order as far as Slieve Mis. And there they were met by a queen of the Tuatha de Danaan, and a train of beautiful women attending on her, and her Druids and wise men following her. Amergin, one of the sons of Miled, spoke to her then, and asked her name, and she said it was Banba, wife of Mac Cuill, Son of the Hazel.

They went on then till they came to Slieve Eibhline, and there another queen of the Tuatha de Danaan met them, and her women and her Druids after her, and they asked her name, and she said it was Fodhla, wife of Mac Cecht, Son of the Plough.

They went on then till they came to the hill of Uisnech, and there they saw another woman coming towards them. And there was wonder on them while they were looking at her, for in the one moment she would be a wide-eyed most beautiful queen, and in another she would be a sharp-beaked, grey-white crow. She came on to where Eremon, one of the sons of Miled, was, and sat down before him, and he asked her who was she, and she said: “I am Eriu, wife of Mac Greine, Son of the Sun.”

And the names of those three queens were often given to Ireland in the after time.

The Sons of the Gael went on after that to Teamhair, where the three sons of Cermait Honey-Mouth, son of the Dagda, that had the kingship between them at that time held their court. And these three were quarrelling with one another about the division of the treasures their father had left, and the quarrel was so hot it seemed likely it would come to a battle in the end.

And the Sons of the Gael wondered to see them quarrelling about such things, and they having so fruitful an island, where the air was so wholesome, and the sun not too strong, or the cold too bitter, and where there was such a plenty of honey and acorns, and of milk, and of fish, and of corn, and room enough for them all.

Great grandeur they were living in, and their Druids about them, at the palace of Teamhair. And Amergin went to them, and it is what he said, that they must give up the kingship there and then, or they must leave it to the chance of a battle. And he said he asked this in revenge for the death of Ith, of the race of the Gael, that had come to their court before that time, and that had been killed by treachery.

When the sons of Cermait Honey-Mouth heard Amergin saying such fierce words, there was wonder on them, and it is what they said, that they were not willing to fight at that time, for their army was not ready. “But let you make an offer to us,” they said, “for we see well you have good judgment and knowledge. But if you make an offer that is not fair,” they said, “we will destroy you with our enchantments.”

At that Amergin bade the men that were with him to go back to Inver Sceine, and to hurry again into their ships with the rest of the Sons of the Gael, and to go out the length of nine waves from the shore. And then he made his offer to the Tuatha de Danaan, that if they could hinder his men from landing on their island, he and all his ships would go back again to their own country, and would never make any attempt to come again; but that if the Sons of the Gael could land on the coast in spite of them, then the Tuatha de Danaan should give up the kingship and be under their sway.

The Tuatha de Danaan were well pleased with that offer, for they thought that by the powers of their enchantments over the winds and the sea, and by their arts, they would be well able to keep them from ever setting foot in the country again.

So the Sons of the Gael did as Amergin bade them and they went back into their ship and drew up their anchors, and moved out to the length of nine waves from the shore. And as soon as the Men of Dea saw they had left the land, they took to their enchantments and spells, and they raised a great wind that scattered the ships of the Gael, and drove them from one another. But Amergin knew it was not a natural storm was in it, and Arranan, son of Miled, knew that as well, and he went up in the mast of his ship to look about him. But a great blast of wind came against him, and he fell back into the ship and died on the moment. And there was great confusion on the Gael, for the ships were tossed to and fro, and had like to be lost. And the ship that Donn, son of Miled, was in command of was parted from the others by the dint of the storm, and was broken in pieces, and he himself and all with him were drowned, four-and-twenty men and women in all. And Ir, son of Miled, came to his death in the same way, and his body was cast on the shore, and it was buried in a small island that is now called Sceilg Michill. A brave man Ir was, leading the Sons of the Gael to the front of every battle, and their help and their shelter in battle, and his enemies were in dread of his name.

And Heremon, another of the sons of Miled, with his share of the ships, was driven to the left of the island, and it is hardly he got safe to land. And the place where he landed was called Inver Colpa, because Colpa of the Sword, another of the sons of Miled, was drowned there, and he trying to get to land. Five of the sons of Miled in all were destroyed by the storm and the winds the Men of Dea had raised by their enchantments, and there were but three of them left, Heber, and Heremon, and Amergin.

And one of them, Donn, before he was swept into the sea, called out: “It is treachery our knowledgeable men are doing on us, not to put down this wind.” “There is no treachery,” said Amergin, his brother. And he rose up then before them, and whatever enchantment he did on the winds and the sea, he said these words along with it:

“That they that are tossing in the great wide food-giving sea may reach now to the land.

“That they may find a place upon its plains, its mountains, and its valleys; in its forests that are full of nuts and of all fruits; on its rivers and its streams, on its lakes and its great waters.

“That we may have our gatherings and our races in this land; that there may be a king of our own in Teamhair; that it may be the possession of our many kings.

“That the sons of Miled may be seen in this land, that their ships and their boats may find a place there.

“This land that is now under darkness, it is for it we are asking; let our chief men, let their learned wives, ask that we may come to the noble woman, great Eriu.”

After he had said this, the wind went down and the sea was quiet again on the moment.

And those that were left of the sons of Miled and of the Sons of the Gael landed then at Inver Sceine.

And Amergin was the first to put his foot on land, and when he stood on the shore of Ireland, it is what he said:

“I am the wind on the sea;
I am the wave of the sea;
I am the bull of seven battles;
I am the eagle on the rock;
I am a flash from the sun;
I am the most beautiful of plants;
I am a strong wild boar;
I am a salmon in the water;
I am a lake in the plain;
I am the word of knowledge;
I am the head of the spear in battle;
I am the god that puts fire in the head;
Who spreads light in the gathering on the hills?
Who can tell the ages of the moon?
Who can tell the place where the sun rests?”

– – – – – – –

An excerpt from “Of Gods and Fighting Men” – The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan ad of the Fianna of Ireland”.

ISBN: 978-1-909302-45-7

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/of-gods-and-fighting-men–the-story-of-the-tuatha-de-

danaan-and-of-the-fianna-of-ireland_p26197165.htm

Of Gods and Fighting Men | Abela Publishing

Of Gods and Fighting Men | Abela Publishing

An excerpt from “Myths and Folklore of Ireland”

Once upon a time, it was the custom with Fin MacCumhail and the Fenians of Erin, when a stranger from any part of the world came to their castle, not to ask him a question for a year and a day.
On a time, a champion came to Fin and his men, and remained with them. He was not at all pleasant or agreeable.

At last Fin and his men took counsel together; they were much annoyed because their guest was so dull and morose, never saying a word, always silent.

While discussing what kind of man he was, Diarmuid Duivne offered to try him; so one evening when they were eating together, Diarmuid came and snatched from his mouth the hind-quarter of a bullock, which he was picking.

Diarmuid pulled at one part of the quarter, – pulled with all his strength, but only took the part that he seized, while the other kept the part he held. All laughed; the stranger laughed too, as heartily as any. It was the first laugh they had heard from him.
The strange champion saw all their feats of arms and practised with them, till the year and a day were over. Then he said to Fin and his men:
“I have spent a pleasant year in your company; you gave me good treatment, and the least I can do now is to give you a feast at my own castle.”

No one had asked what his name was up to that time. Fin now asked his name. He answered:
“My name is Fear Dubh, of Alba.”

Fin accepted the invitation; and they appointed the day for the feast, which was to be in Erin, since Fear Dubh did not wish to trouble them to go to Alban. He took leave of his host and started for home.

When the day for the feast came, Fin and the chief men of the Fenians of Erin set out for the castle of Fear Dubh.
They went, a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and thirty-two miles at a running leap, till they came to the grand castle where the feast was to be given.

They went in; everything was ready, seats at the table, and every man’s name at his seat in the same order as at Fin’s castle. Diarmuid, who was always very sportive, – fond of hunting, and paying court to women, was not with them; he had gone to the mountains with his dogs.

All sat down, except Conan Maol MacMorna (never a man spoke well of him); no seat was ready for him, for he used to lie on the flat of his back on the floor, at Fin’s castle.

When all were seated the door of the castle closed of itself. Fin then asked the man nearest the door, to rise and open it. The man tried to rise; he pulled this way and that, over and hither, but he couldn’t get up. Then the next man tried, and the next, and so on, till the turn came to Fin himself, who tried in vain.

Now, whenever Fin and his men were in trouble and great danger it was their custom to raise a cry of distress (a voice of howling), heard all over Erin. Then all men knew that they were in peril of death; for they never raised this cry except in the last extremity.
Fin’s son, Fialan, who was three years old and in the cradle, heard the cry, was roused, and jumped up.

“Get me a sword! “ said he to the nurse. “My father and his men are in distress; I must go to aid them.”
“What could you do, poor little child.”
Fialan looked around, saw an old rusty sword-blade laid aside for ages. He took it down, gave it a snap; it sprang up so as to hit his arm, and all the rust dropped off; the blade was pure as shining silver.

“This will do,” said he; and then he set out towards the place where he heard the cry, going a glen at a step, a hill at a leap, and thirty-two miles at a running leap, till he came to the door of the castle, and cried out.
Fin answered from inside, “Is that you, my child?”
“It is,” said Fialan.
“Why did you come?”
“I heard your cry, and how could I stay at home, hearing the cry of my father and the Fenians of Erin!”
“Oh, my child, you cannot help us much.”

Fialan struck the door powerfully with his sword, but no use. Then, one of the men inside asked Fin to chew his thumb, to know what was keeping them in, and why they were bound.
Fin chewed his thumb, from skin to blood, from blood to bone, from bone to marrow, and discovered that Fear Dubh had built the castle by magic, and that he was coming himself with a great force to cut the head off each one of them. (These men from Alba had always a grudge against the champions of Erin.)

Said Fin to Fialan: “Do you go now, and stand at the ford near the castle, and meet Fear Dubh.”

Fialan went and stood in the middle of the ford. He wasn’t long there when he saw Fear Dubh coming with a great army.
“Leave the ford, my child,” said Fear Dubh, who knew him at once. “I have not come to harm your father. I spent a pleasant year at his castle. I’ve only come to show him honour.”

“I know why you have come,” answered Fialan. You’ve come to destroy my father and all his men, and I’ll not leave this ford while I can hold it.”

“Leave the ford; I don’t want to harm your father, I want to do him honour. If you don’t let us pass my men will kill you,” said Fear Dubh.

“I will not let you pass so long as I ‘m alive before you,” said Fialan.

The men faced him; and if they did Fialan kept his place, and a battle commenced, the like of which was never seen before that day. Fialan went through the army as a hawk through a flock of sparrows on a March morning, till he killed every man except Fear Dubh. Fear Dubh told him again to leave the ford, he didn’t want to harm his father.

“Oh!” said Fialan, “I know well what you want.”
“If you don’t leave that place I’ll make you leave it” said Fear Dubh. Then they closed in combat; and such a combat was never seen before between any two warriors. They made springs to rise through the centre of hard gray rocks, cows to cast their calves whether they had them or not. All the horses of the country were racing about and neighing in dread and fear, and all created things were terrified at the sound and clamour of the fight till the weapons of Fear Dubh went to pieces in the struggle, and Fialan made two halves of his own sword.

Now they closed in wrestling. In the first round Fialan put Fear Dubh to his knees in the hard bottom of the river; the second round he put him to his hips, and the third, to his shoulders.
“Now,” said he, “I have you,” giving him a stroke of the half of his sword, which cut the head off him.

Then Fialan went to the door of the castle and told his father what he had done.

Fin chewed his thumb again, and knew what other danger was coming. “My son,” said he to Fialan, “Fear Dubh has a younger brother more powerful than he was; that brother is coming against us now with greater forces than those which you have destroyed.”

As soon as Fialan heard these words he hurried to the ford, and waited till the second army came up. He destroyed this army as he had the other, and closed with the second brother in a fight fiercer and more terrible than the first; but at last he thrust him to his armpits in the hard bottom of the river and cut off his head.
Then he went to the castle, and told his father what he had done. A third time Fin chewed his thumb, and said: “My son, a third army more to be dreaded than the other two is coming now to destroy us, and at the head of it is the youngest brother of Fear Dubh, the most desperate and powerful of the three.”

Again Fialan rushed off to the ford; and, though the work was greater than before, he left not a man of the army alive. Then he closed with the youngest brother of Fear Dubh, and if the first and second battles were terrible this was more terrible by far; but at last he planted the youngest brother up to his armpits in the hard bottom of the river, and swept the head off him.

Now, after the heat and struggle of combat Fialan was in such a rage that he lost his mind from fury, not having any one to fight against; and if the whole world had been there before him he would have gone through it and conquered it all.

But having no one to face him he rushed along the river-bank, tearing the flesh from his own body. Never had such madness been seen in any created being before that day.

Diarmuid came now and knocked at the door of the castle, having the dog Bran with him, and asked Fin what had caused him to raise the cry of distress.

“Oh, Diarmuid,” said Fin, “we are all fastened in here to be killed. Fialan has destroyed three armies and Fear Dubh with his two brothers. He is raging now along the bank of the river; you must not go near him, for he would tear you limb from limb. At this moment he wouldn’t spare me, his own father; but after a while he will cease from raging and die down; then you can go. The mother of Fear Dubh is coming, and will soon be at the ford. She is more violent, more venomous, more to be dreaded, a greater warrior than her sons. The chief weapon she has are the nails on her fingers; each nail is seven perches long, of the hardest steel on earth. She is coming in the air at this moment with the speed of a hawk, and she has a kŭŕan (a small vessel), with liquor in it, which has such power that if she puts three drops of it on the mouths of her sons they will rise up as well as ever; and if she brings them to life there is nothing to save us.

Go to the ford; she will be hovering over the corpses of the three armies to know can she find her sons, and as soon as she sees them she will dart down and give them the liquor. You must rise with a mighty bound upon her, dash the kŭŕan out of her hand and spill the liquor.

“If you can kill her save her blood, for nothing in the world can free us from this place and open the door of the castle but the blood of the old hag. I’m in dread you’ll not succeed, for she is far more terrible than all her sons together. Go now; Fialan is dying away, and the old woman is coming; make no delay.”

Diarmuid hurried to the ford, stood watching a while; then he saw high in the air something no larger than a hawk. As it came nearer and nearer he saw it was the old woman. She hovered high in the air over the ford. At last she saw her sons, and was swooping down, when Diarmuid rose with a bound into the air and struck the vial a league out of her hand.

The old hag gave a shriek that was heard to the eastern world, and screamed: “Who has dared to interfere with me or my sons?”
“I,” answered Diarmuid; “and you’ll not go further till I do to you what has been done to your sons.”

The fight began; and if there ever was a fight, before or since, it could not he more terrible than this one; but great as was the power of Diarmuid he never could have conquered but for Bran the dog.

The old woman with her nails stripped the skin and flesh from Diarmuid almost to the vitals. But Bran tore the skin and flesh off the old woman’s back from her head to her heels.
From the dint of blood-loss and fighting, Diarmuid was growing faint. Despair came on him, and he was on the point of giving way, when a little robin flew near to him, and sitting on a bush, spoke, saying:

“Oh, Diarmuid, take strength; rise and sweep the head off the old hag, or Fin and the Fenians of Erin are no more.”
Diarmuid took courage, and with his last strength made one great effort, swept the head off the old hag and caught her blood in a vessel. He rubbed some on his own wounds, – they were cured; then he cured Bran.

Straightway he took the blood to the castle, rubbed drops of it on the door, which opened, and he went in.
All laughed with joy at the rescue. He freed Fin and his men by rubbing the blood on the chairs; hut when he came as far as Conan Maol the blood gave out.

All were going away. “Why should you leave me here after you;” cried Conan Maol, “I would rather die at once than stay here for a lingering death. Why don’t you, Oscar, and you, Gol MacMorna, come and tear me out of this place; anyhow you’ll be able to drag the arms out of me and kill me at once; better that than leave me to die alone.”
Oscar and Gol took each a hand, braced their feet against his feet, put forth all their strength and brought him standing; but if they did, he left all the skin and much of the flesh from the back of his head to his heels on the floor behind him. He was covered with blood, and by all accounts was in a terrible condition, bleeding and wounded.

Now there were sheep grazing near the castle. The Fenians ran out, killed and skinned the largest and best of the flock, and clapped the fresh skin on Conan’s back; and such was the healing power in the sheep, and the wound very fresh, that Conan’s back healed, and he marched home with the rest of the men, and soon got well; and if he did, they sheared off his back wool enough every year to make a pair of stockings for each one of the Fenians of Erin, and for Fin himself.

And that was a great thing to do and useful, for wool was scarce in Erin in those days. Fin and his men lived pleasantly and joyously for some time; and if they didn’t, may we.
——————
URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/myths-and-folklore-of-ireland_p23332640.htm
ISBN: 978-1-907256-08-0

Tomorrow we journey from the Emerald Isle to Scotland for a taste of their folklore, myths and legends. So today is our last tale of Ireland, this time around. It is titled:

 

BLACK, BROWN and GRAY

an Irish Tale of Fin MacCumhail

 

On a day Fin MacCumhail was near Tara of the Kings, south of Ballyshannon, hunting with seven companies of the Fenians of Erin.

 

During the day they saw three strange men coming towards them, and Fin said to the Fenians:

 

“Let none of you speak to them, and if they have good manners they’ll not speak to you nor to any man till they come to me.”

 

When the three men came up, they said nothing till they stood before Fin himself. Then he asked what their names were and what they wanted. They answered: -Our names are Dubh, Dun, and Glasán [Black, Brown, and Gray]. We have come to find Fin MacCumhail, chief of the Fenians of Erin, and take service with him.”

 

Fin was so well pleased with their looks that he brought them home with him that evening and called them his sons. Then he said, “Every man who comes to this castle must watch the first night for me, and since three of you have come together each will watch one third of the night. You’ll cast lots to see who’ll watch first and second.”

 

Fin had the trunk of a tree brought, three equal parts made of it, and one given to each of the men.

 

Then he said, “When each of you begins his watch he will set fire to his own piece of wood, and so long as the wood burns he will watch.”

 

The lot fell to Dubh to go on the first watch.

 

Dubh set fire to his log, then went out around the castle, the dog Bran with him. He wandered on, going further and further from the castle, and Bran after him. At last he saw a bright light and went towards it. When he came to the place where the light was burning, he saw a large house. He entered the house and when inside saw a great company of most strange looking men, drinking out of a single cup.

 

The chief of the party, who was sitting on a high place, gave the cup to the man nearest him; and when he had drunk his fill out of it, he passed it to his neighbour, and so on to the last.

 

While the cup was going the round of the company, the chief said, ” This is the great cup that was taken from Fin MacCumhail a hundred years ago; and as much as each man wishes to drink he always gets from it, and no matter how many men there may be, or what they wish for, they always have their fill.”

 

Dubh sat near the door on the edge of the crowd, and when the cup came to him he drank a little, then slipped out and hurried away in the dark; when he came to the fountain at the castle of Fin MacCumhail, his log was burned.

 

As the second lot had fallen on Dun, it was now his turn to watch, so he set fire to his log and went out, in the place of Dubh, with the dog Bran after him.

 

Dun walked on through the night till he saw a fire. He went towards it, and when he had come near he saw a large house, which he entered; and when inside he saw a crowd of strange looking men, fighting. They were ferocious, wonderful to look at, and fighting wildly.

 

The chief, who had climbed on the crossbeams of the house to escape the uproar and struggle, called out to the crowd below: “Stop fighting now; for I have a better gift than the one you have lost this night” and putting his hand behind his belt, he drew out a knife and held it before them, saying: ” Here is the wonderful knife, the small knife of division, that was stolen from Fin MacCumhail a hundred years ago, and if you cut on a bone with the knife, you’ll get the finest meat in the world, and as much of it as ever your hearts can wish for.”

 

Then he passed down the knife and a bare bone to the man next him, and the man began to cut; and off came slices of the sweetest and best meat in the world.

 

The knife and the bone passed from man to man till they came to Dun, who cut a slice off the bone, slipped out unseen, and made for Fin’s castle as fast as his two legs could carry him through the darkness and over the ground.

 

When he was by the fountain at the castle, his part of the log was burned and his watch at an end.

 

Now Glasán set fire to his stick of wood and went out on his watch and walked forward till he saw the light and came to the same house that Dubh and Dun had visited.

 

Looking in he saw the place full of dead bodies, and thought, There must be some great wonder here. If I lie down in the midst of these and put some of them over me to hide myself, I shall be able to see what is going on.

 

He lay down and pulled some of the bodies over himself. He wasn’t there long when he saw an old hag coming into the house. She had but one leg, one arm, and one tipper tooth, which was as long as her leg and served her in place of a crutch.

 

When inside the door she took up the first corpse she met and threw it aside; it was lean. As she went on she took two bites out of every fat corpse she met, and threw every lean one aside.

 

She had her fill of flesh and blood before she came to Glasán; and as soon as she had that, she dropped down on the floor, lay on her back, and went to sleep.

 

Every breath she drew, Glasán was afraid she’d drag the roof down on top of his head, and every time she let a breath out of her he thought she’d sweep the roof off the house.

 

Then he rose up, looked at her, and wondered at the bulk of her body. At last he drew his sword, hit her a slash, and if he did, three young giants sprang forth.

 

Glasán killed the first giant, the dog Bran killed the second, and the third ran away.

 

Glasán now hurried back, and when he reached the fountain at Fin’s castle, his log of wood was burned, and day was dawning.

 

When all had risen in the morning, and the Fenians of Erin came out, Fin said to Dubh, “Have you anything new or wonderful to tell me after the night’s watching?”

 

“I have,” said Dubh; “for I brought back the drinking-cup that you lost a hundred years ago. I was out in the darkness watching. I walked on, and the dog Bran with me till I saw a light. When I came to the light I found a house, and in the house a company feasting. The chief was a very old man, and sat on a high place above the rest. He took out the cup and said: ‘ This is the cup that was stolen from Fin MacCumhail a hundred years ago, and it is always full of the best drink in the world; and when one of you has drunk from the cup pass it on to the next.’

 

“They drank: and passed the cup till it came to me. I took it and hurried back. When I came here, my log was burned and my watch was finished. Here now is the cup for you,” said Dubh to Fin MacCumhail.

 

Fin praised him greatly for what he had done, and turning to Dun said: “Now tell us what happened in your watch.”

 

“When my turn came I set fire to the log which you gave me, and walked on; the dog Bran following, till I saw a light. When I came to the light, I found a house in which was a crowd of people, all fighting except one very old man on a high place above the rest. He called to them for peace, and told them to be quiet. ‘For,’ said he, ‘ I have a better gift for you than the one you lost this night,’ and he took out the small knife of division with a bare bone, and said: ‘This is the knife that was stolen from Fin MacCumhail, a hundred years ago, and whenever you cut on the bone with the knife, you‘ll get your fill of the best meat on earth.’

 

“Then he handed the knife and the bone to the man nearest him, who cut from it all the meat he wanted, and then passed it to his neighbour. The knife went from hand to hand till it came to me, then I took it, slipped out, and hurried away. When I came to the fountain, my log was burned, and here are the knife and bone for you.”

 

You have done a great work, and deserve my best praise,” said Fin. We are sure of the best eating and drinking as long as we keep the cup and the knife.”

 

Now what have you seen in your part of the night?” said Fin to Glasán.

 

I went out,” said Glasán, “with the dog Bran, and walked on till I saw a light, and when I came to the light I saw a house, which I entered. Inside were heaps of dead men, killed in fighting, and I wondered greatly when I saw them. At last I lay down in the midst of the corpses, put some of them over me and waited to see what would happen.

 

“Soon an old hag came in at the door, she had but one arm, one leg, and the one tooth out of her upper jaw, and that tooth a long as her leg, and she used it for a crutch as she hobbled along. She threw aside the first corpse she met and took two bites out of the second, – for she threw every lean corpse away and took two bites out of every fat one. When she had eaten her fill, she lay down on her back in the middle of the floor and went to sleep. I rose up then to look at her, and every time she drew a breath I was in dread she would bring down the roof of the house on the top of my head, and every time she let a breath out of her, I thought she’d sweep the roof from the building, so strong was the breath of the old hag.

 

“Then I drew my sword and cut her with a blow, but if I did three young giants sprang up before me. I killed the first, Bran killed the second, but the third escaped. I walked away then, and when I was at the fountain outside, daylight had come and my log was burned.”

 

Between you and me,” said Fin, “it would have been as well if you had let the old hag alone. I am greatly in dread the third young giant will bring trouble on us all.”

 

For twenty-one years Fin MacCumhail and the Fenians of Erin hunted for sport alone. They had the best of eating from the small knife of division, and the best of drinking from the cup that was never dry.

 

At the end of twenty-one years Dubh, Dun, and Glasán went away, and one day, as Fin and the Fenians of Erin were hunting on the hills and mountains, they saw a Fear Ruadh (a red haired man) coming toward them.

 

“There is a bright looking man coming this way,” said Fin, “and don’t you speak to him.”

 

“Oh, what do we care for him?” asked Conan Maol.

 

“Don’t be rude to a stranger,” said Fin.

 

The Fear Ruadh came forward and spoke to no man till he stood before Fin.

 

“What have you come for?” asked Fin. “To find a master for twenty-one years.”

 

“What wages do you ask?” Inquired Fin.

 

“No wages but this, – that if I die before the twenty-one years have passed, I shall be buried on Inis Caol (Light Island).”

 

“I’ll give you those wages, ‘ said Fin, and he hired the Fear Ruadh for twenty-one years.

 

He served Fin for twenty years to his satisfaction; but toward the end of the twenty-first year he fell into a decline, became an old man, and died.

 

When the Fear Ruadh was dead, the Fenians of Erin said that not a step would they go to bury him; but Fin declared that he wouldn’t break his word for any man, and must take the corpse to Inis Caol.

 

Fin had an old white horse which he had turned out to find a living for himself as he could on the hillsides and in the woods. And now he looked for the horse and found that he had become younger than older in looks since he had put him out. So he took the old white horse and tied a coffin, with the body of the Fear Ruadh in it, on his back. Then they started him on ahead and away he went followed by Fin and twelve men of the Fenians of Erin.

 

When they came to the temple on Inis Caol there were no signs of the white horse and the coffin; but the temple was open and in went Fin and the twelve.

 

There were seats for each man inside. They sat down and rested awhile and then Fin tried to rise but couldn’t. He told the men to rise, but the twelve were fastened to the seats, and the seats to the ground, so that not a man of them could come to his feet.

 

“Oh,” said Fin, “I’m in dread there is some evil trick played on us.”

 

At that moment the Fear Ruadh stood before them in all his former strength and youth and said:

 

“Now is the time for me to take satisfaction out of you for my mother and brothers,”

 

Then one of the men said to Fin, “Chew your thumb to know is there any way out of this.”

 

Fin chewed his thumb to know what should he do. When he knew, he blew the great whistle with his two hands; which was heard by Donogh Kamcosa and Diarmuid O’Duivne.

 

The Fear Ruadh fell to and killed three of the men; but before he could touch the fourth Donogh and Diarmuid were there, and put an end to him. Now all were free, and Fin with the nine men went back to their castle south of Ballyshannon.

 

———————–

From “Myths and Legends of Ireland” compiled and edited by Jeremiah Curtin

ISBN: 978-1-907256-08-0

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_mfi.html

 

NOTE: This tale was recorded in the field by Samuel Lover. It has been recorded verbatim, or in the vulgate i.e. Samuel Lover recorded the words exactly as they were said. He did this in order to retain the local manner and flavour of the tale. Now, enough from me. Read on……

 

Beside the River Liffey stands the picturesque ruins of a mill, overshadowed by some noble trees, that grow in great luxuriance at the water’s edge. Here, one day, I was accosted by a silver-haired old man that for some time had been observing me, and who, when I was about to leave the spot, approached me and said: “I suppose it’s after takin’ off the ould mill you’d be, sir?”

 

I answered in the affirmative.

 

“Maybe your honour id let me get a sight iv it,” said he.

 

“With pleasure,” said I, as I untied the strings of my portfolio, and drawing the sketch from amongst its companions, presented it to him. He considered it attentively for some time, and at length exclaimed:

 

“Throth, there it is, to the life–the broken roof and the wather-coorse; ay, even to the very spot where the gudgeon of the wheel was wanst, let alone the big stone at the corner, that was laid the first by himself;” and he gave the last word with mysterious emphasis, and handed the drawing back to me with a “thankee, sir!” of most respectful acknowledgment.

 

“And who was ‘himself,” said I, “that laid that stone?” feigning ignorance, and desiring to “draw him out,” as the phrase is.

 

“Oh, then, maybe it’s what you’d be a stranger here?” said he

 

“Almost,” said I.

 

“And you never hear tell of L–‘s mill,” said he, “and how it was built?”

 

“Never,” was my answer.

 

“Throth, then, I thought young and ould, rich and poor, knew that–far and near.”

 

“I don’t, for one,” said I; “but perhaps,” I added, bringing forth some little preparation for a lunch that I had about me, and producing a small flask of whisky–” perhaps you will be so good as to tell me, and take a slice of ham, and drink my health,” offering him a dram from my flask, and seating myself on the sod beside the river.

 

“Thank you kindly, sir,” says he; and so, after “warming his heart,” as be said himself, he proceeded to give an account of the mill in question.

 

“You see, sir, there was a man wanst, in times back, that owned a power of land about here – but God keep us, they said he didn’t come by it honestly, but did a crooked turn whenever ’twas to sarve himself–and sure he sould the pass, and what luck or grace could he havw afther that?”

 

“How do you mean be sold the pass?” said I.

 

“Oh, sure your honour must have head how the pass was sould, and he bethrayed his king and counthry.”

 

“No, indeed,” said I.

 

“Och, well,” answered my old informant, with a shake of the head, which he meant, like Lord Burleigh in the Critic, to be very significant, “it’s no matther now, and I don’t care talkin’ about it; and laist said is soonest mended–howsomever, he got a power of money for that same, and lands and what not; but the more he got, the more he craved, and there was no ind to his sthrivin’ for goold evermore, and thirstin’ for the lucre of gain.

 

“Well, at last, the story goes, the divil (God bless us!) kem to him, and promised him hapes o’ money, and all his heart could desire, and more too, if he’d sell his soul in exchange.”

 

“Surely he did not consent to such a dreadful bargain as that?” said I.

 

“Oh, no, sir,” said the old man, with a slight play of muscle about the corners of his mouth, which, but that the awfulness of the subject suppressed it, would have amounted to a bitter smile–” oh, no, he was too cunnin’ for that, bad as he was–and he was bad enough, God knows–he had some regard for his poor sinful sowl, and he would not give himself up to the divil, all out; but the villian, he thought he might make a bargain with the ould chap, and get all he wanted, and keep himself out of harm’s way still; for he was mighty cute–and throth, he was able for Ould Nick any day.

 

“Well, the bargain was struck, and it was this-a-way: The divil was to give him all the goold ever he’d ask for, and was to let him alone as long as he could; and the timpter promised him a long day, and said ‘twould be a great while before he’d want him, at all, at all; and whin that time kem, he was to keep his hands aff him, as long as the other could give him some work be couldn’t do.

 

“So when the bargain was made, ‘Now,’ says ‘the Colonel to the divil, ‘give me all the money I want.’

 

“As much as you like,’ says Ouid Nick. ‘How much will you have?’

 

“You must fill me that room,’ says he, pointin’ into a murtherin’ big room, that he emptied out on purpose–‘you must fill me that room,’ says be, ‘up to the very ceilin’ with goolden guineas.’

 

“‘And welkim,’ says the divil.

 

“With that, sir, he began to shovel in the guineas into the room like mad; and the Colonel towld him, that as soon as he was done, to come to him in his own parlour below, and that he would then go up and see if, the divil was as good as his word, and had filled the room with the goolden guineas. So the Colonel went downstairs, and the ould fellow worked away as busy as a nailer,  shovellin’ in the guineas by hundherds and thousands.

 

“Well, he worked away for an hour and more, and at last he began to get tired; and he thought it mighty odd that the room wasn’t fillin’ fasther. Well, afther restin’ for a while, he began agin, and he put his shouIdher to the work in airnest; but still the room was no fuller, at all, at all.

 

“‘Och! bad luck to me,’ says the divil; ‘but the likes of this I never seen,’ says he, ‘far and near, up and down–the dickens a room I ever kem across afore,’ says he, ‘I couldn’t cram while a cook would be crammin’ a turkey, till now; and here I am,’ says he ‘losin’ my whole day, and I with such a power o’ work an my hands yit, and this room no fuller than if I began five minutes ago.’

 

“By gor, while he was spakin’, be seen the hape o’ guineas in the middle of the flure growing littler and littler every minit; and at last they wor disappearing, for all the world, like corn in the hopper of a mill.

 

“Ho! ho!’ says Ould Nick, ‘is that the way wid you,’ says he; and with that he run over to the hape of goold–and what would you think, but it was runnin’ down through a great big hole in the flure that the Colonel made through the ceilin’ in the room below; and that was the work he was at afther he left the divil, though he purtended he was only waitin’ for him in his parlour; and there the divil, when he looked down through the hole in the flure, seen the Colonel, not content with the two rooms full of guineas, but with a big shovel throwin’ them into a closet a one side of him as fast as they fell down. So putting his head through the hole, he called down to the Colonel:

 

“‘Hillo! neighbour,’ says he.

 

“The Colonel look up, and grew as white as a sheet when he seen he was found out, and the red eyes starin’ down at him through the hole.

 

“‘Musha, bad luck to your impudence!’ says Ould Nick; ‘is It sthrivin’ to chate me you are,’ says he, ‘you villain?’

 

“Oh! forgive me this wanst,’ says the Colonel, ‘and upon the honour of a gintleman,’ says he, ‘I’ll never–‘

 

“‘Whisht! whisht! you thievin’ rogue,’ says the divil, ‘I’m not angry with you, at all, at all; but only like you the betther, bekase you’re so cute. Lave off slaving yourself there,’ says he, ‘you have got goold enough for this time; and whenever you want more, you have only to say the word, and it shall be yours at command.’

 

“So, with that the divil and he parted for that time; and myself doesn’t know whether they used to meet often afther or not; but the Colonel never wanted money, anyhow, but went on prosperous in the world–and as the saying is, if he took the dirt out o’ the road, it id turn to money wid him; and so, in coorse of time, he bought great estates, and was a great man entirely–not a greater in Ireland, throth.”

 

Fearing here a digression on landed interest, I interrupted him to ask how he and the fiend settled their accounts at last?

 

“Oh, sir, you’ll hear that all in good time. Sure enough it’s terrible, and wondherful it is at the ind, and mighty improvin’ – glory be to God!”

 

“Is that what you say,” said I, in surprise, ” because a wicked and deluded man lost his soul to the tempter?”

 

“Oh, the Lord forbid, your honour! but don’t be impatient, and you’ll hear all. They say, at last, after many years of prosperity, that the old Colonel got stricken in years, and he began to have misgivin’s in his conscience for his wicked doin’s, and his heart was heavy as the fear of death came upon him; and sure enough, while he had such mournful thoughts, the dlvii kern to him, and tould him he should go meld hiss.

 

“Well to be sure the ould man was frekened, but he plucked up his courage and his cuteness, and towld the divil, in a bantherin’ way, jokin’ like, that he had partic’lar business thin, that he was goin’ to a party, and hoped an ould friend wouldn’t inconvaynience him, that a-way–”

 

“Well,” said I, laughing at the “put off” of going to a party, “the devil, of course would take no excuse, and carried him off in a flash of fire?”

 

“Oh, no, sir,” answered the old man, in something of a reproving, or, at least, offended tone – ” that’s the finish, I know very well, of many a story such as we’re talkin’ of, but that’s not the way of this, which is thruth every word, what I tell you.”

 

“I beg your pardon for the interruption,” said I.

 

“No offince in life, sir,” said the venerable chronicler, who was now deep in his story, and would not be stopped.

 

“Well, sir,” continued he, “the divil said he’d call the next day, and that he must be ready; and sure enough, in the evenin’ he kem to him; and when the Colonel seen him, he reminded him of his bargain that as long as he could give him some work he couldn’t do, he wasn’t obleeged to go.

 

“‘That’s thrue,’ says the divil.

 

“‘I’m glad you’re as good as your word, anyhow,’ says the Colonel.

 

“‘I never bruk my word yit,’ says the ould chap, cocking up his horns consaitedly–‘ honour bright,’ says he.

 

“‘Well, then,’ says the Colonel, ‘build me a mill, down there by the river,’ says he, ‘and let me have it finished by to-morrow mornin’.’

 

“‘Your will is my pleasure,’ says the ould chap, and away he wint; and the Colonel thought he had nick’d Ould Nick at last, and wint to bed quite aisy in his mind.

 

“But, jewel machree, sure the first thing he heerd the next mornin’ was, that the whole counthry round was runnin’ to see a fine bran-new mill, that was an the riverside, where, the evenin’ before, not a thing at all, at all but rushes was standin’, and all, of coorse, woudherin’ what brought it there; and some sayin ’twas not lucky, and many more throubled in their mind, but one and all agreein’ it was no good; and that’s the very mill forniust you, that you were takin’ aff and the stone that I noticed is a remarkable one–a big coign-stone–that they say the divil himself laid first, and has the mark of four fingers and a thumb an it, to this day.

 

“But when the Colonel heerd it, he was more throubled than any, of coorse, and began to conthrive what else he could think iv, to keep himself out iv the claws of the ould one. Well he often heerd tell that there was one thing the divil never could do, and I dar say you beard it too, sir–that is, that he couldn’t make a rope out of the sands of the sae; and so when the ould one kem to him the next day and said his job was done, and that now the mill was built, he must either tell him somethin’ else he wanted done, or come away wid him.

 

“So the Colonel said he saw it was all over wid him; ‘but,’ says he,’ I wouldn’t like to go wid you alive, and sure, it’s all the same to you, alive or dead?’

 

“‘Oh, that won’t do,’ says his frind; ‘I can’t wait no more,’ says he.

 

“‘I don’t want you to wait, my dear frind,’ says the Colonel; “all I want is, that you’ll be plazed to kill me before you take me away.’

 

“‘With pleasure,” says Ould Nick.

 

“‘But will you promise me my choice of dyin’ one partic’lar way?’ says the Colonel.

 

“‘Half a dozen ways, if it plazes you,’ says he.

 

“‘You’re mighty obleegin’, says the Colonel; ‘and so,’ says he, ‘I’d rather die by bein’ hanged with a rope made out of the sands of the sae,’ says he, lookin’ mighty knowin’ at the ould fellow.

 

‘I’ve always one about me,’ says the divil, ‘to obleege my frinds,’ says he; and with that he pull out a rope made of sand, sure enough.

 

“‘Oh, it’s game you’re makin’,’ says the Colonel, growin’ as white as a sheet.

 

“‘The game is mine, sure enough,’ says the ould fellow, grinnn’, with a terrible laugh.

 

“‘That’s not a sand-rope at all,’ says the Colonel.

 

“‘Isn’t it?’ says the divil, hittin’ him acrass the face with the ind iv the rope, and the sand (for it was made of sand, sure enough) went into one of his eyes, and made the tears come with the pain.

 

“‘That bates all I ever seen or heerd,’ says the Colonel, sthrivin’ to rally, and make another offer–‘ is there anything you can’t do?’

 

“‘Nothin’ you can tell me,’ says the divil,’ ‘so you may as well lay, off your palaverin’, and come along at wanst.’

 

“‘Will you give me one more offer?’ says the Colonel.

 

“‘You don’t deserve it,’ says the divil, ‘but I don’t care if I do;’ for you see, sir, be was only playin’ wid him, and tantalising the ould sinner.

 

“‘All fair,’ says the Colonel, and with that he ax’d him could he stop a woman’s tongue.

 

“‘Thry me,’ says Ould Nick.

 

“‘Well, then,’ says the Colonel, ‘make my lady’s tongue be quiet for the next month, and I’ll thank you.’

 

“‘She’ll never throuble you agin,’ says Ould Nick; and with that the Colonel heerd roarin’ and cryin’, and the door of his room was throwin’ open, and in ran his daughter, and fell down at his feet, telling him her mother had just dhropped dead.

 

“The minit the door opened, the divil runs and hides himself behind a big elbow-chair; and the Colonel was frekened almost out of his siven sinses, by raison of the sudden death of his poor lady, let alone the jeopardy he was in himself, seein’ how the divil had forestall’d him every way; and after ringin’ his bell, and callin’ to his servants, and recoverin’ his daughter out of her faint, he was goin’ away wid her out o’ the room, whin the divil caught hould of him by the skirt of the coat, and the Colonel was obleeged to let his daughter be carried out by the servants, and shut the door afther them.

 

“‘Well,’ says the divil, and he grinn’d and wagg’d his tail, and all as one as a dog when he’s plaz’d–‘ what do you say now?’ says he.

 

“‘Oh,’ says the Colonel, ‘only lave me alone antil I bury my poor wife,’ says he, ‘and I’ll go with you then, you villian,’ says he.

 

“‘Don’t call names,’ says the divil; ‘you had better keep a civil tongue in your head,’ says he; ‘and it doesn’t become a gintleman to forget good manners.’

 

“Well, sir, to make a long story short, the divil purtended to let him off, out of kindness, for three days, antil his wife was buried; but the raison of it was this, that when the lady, his daughter, fainted, be loosened the clothes about her throat, and in pulling some of her dhrees away, he tuk off a gould chain that was an her neck, and put it in his pocket, and the chain had a diamond crass on it, the Lord be praised! and the divil darn’t touch him while he had the sign of the crass about him.

 

“Well, the poor Colonel, God forgive him! was grieved for the loss of his lady, and she had an iligant berrin, and they say that when the prayers was readin’ over the dead, the ould Colonel took it to heart like anything, and the word o’ God kem home to his poor sinful sowl at last.

 

“Well,’ sir, to make a long story short, the ind if it was that for the three days o’ grace that was given to him the poor deluded ould sinner did nothin’ at all but read the Bible from mornin’ till night, and bit or sup didn’t pass his lips all the time, he was so intint upon the holy Book, but sat up in an ould room in the far ind of the house, and bid no one disturb him an no account, and struv to make his heart bould with the words iv life; and sure it was somethin’ strinthened him at last, though as the time drew nigh that the inimy was to come, he didn’t feel aisy. And no wondher! And, by dad! the three days was past and gone in no time, and the story goes that at the dead hour o’ the night, when the poor sinner was readin’ away as fast as he could, my jew’l! his heart jumped up to his mouth at gettin’ a tap on the shoulder.

 

“‘Oh, murther!’ says he. ‘Who’s there?’ for he was afeard to look up.

 

“‘It’s me,’ says the ould one, and he stood right forninst him, and his eyes like coals o’ fire lookin’ him through, and he said, with a voice that a’most split his ould heart: ‘Come!’ says he.

 

“‘Another day!’ cried out the poor Colonel.

 

“‘Not another hour,’ says Sat’n.

 

“‘Half an hour?’

 

“‘Not a quarther,’ says the divil, grinnin’, ‘with a bitther laugh. ‘Give over your readin’, I bid you,’ says he, ‘and come away wid me.’

 

“‘Only gi’ me a few minits,’ says he.

 

“‘Lave aff your palavering, you snakin’ ould sinner,’ says Sat’n. ‘You know you’re bought and sould to me, and a purty bargain I have o’ you, you ould baste,’ says he, ‘so come along at wanst,’ and he put out his claw to ketch him; but the Colonel tuk a fast hould o’ the Bible,’ and begg’d hard that he’d let him alone, and wouldn’t harm him antil the bit o’ candle that was just blinkin’ in the socket before him was burned out.

 

“‘Well, have it so, you dirty coward!’ says Ould Nick, and with that he spit an him.

 

“But the poor ould Colonel didn’t lose a minit–for he was cunnin’ to the ind–but snatched the little taste o’ candle that was forninst him out o’ the candlestick, and puttin’ it an the holy Book before him, he shut down the cover of it and quinched the light. With that the divil gave a roar like, a bull, and vanished in a flash o’ fire, and the poor Colonel fainted away in his chair; but the sarvants heerd the noise–for the divil tore aff the roof o’ the house when he left it–and run into the room, and brought their master to himself agin. And from that day out he was an althered man, and used to have the Bible read to him every day, for be couldn’t read himself any more, by raison of losin’ his eyesight when the divil hit him with the rope of sand in the face, and afther spit an him–for the sand wint into one eye, and he lost the other that-away, savin’ your presence.

 

“So you see, sir, afther all, the Colonel, undher heaven, was “too able for the divil, and by readin’ the good Book his sowl was saved, and, glory be to God! isn’t that mighty improvin’?

———————-

From Legends and Stories of Ireland – compiled and edited by Samuel Lover

ISBN: 978-1-907256-01-1

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_lsi.html

 

 

IT was on the First of May that the Milesians came into Ireland. They came with their wives and their children and all their treasures. There were many of them. They came in ships, and it is said by some that they came from a land beyond the utmost blueness of the sky and that their ships left the track among the stars that can still be seen on winter nights.

When they were come to Ireland they drew up their ships. They put the fastening of a year and a day on them and set foot on the Sacred Land. Amergin was the first to set foot on the Land, and he made this rann in honour of it. He chanted the rann because he was the chief poet and druid among the Milesians.

 

THE RANN.

I am The Wind That Blows Over The Sea,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Wave 0f The Sea,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Sound The Sea Makes,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Ox Of The Seven Combats,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Vulture Upon The Rock,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Ray Of The Sun,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Fairest Of Plants,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Wild Boar,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Salmon in The Water,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Lake In The Plain,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Word 0f Knowledge,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The Spear-Point Of Battle,
Ah-ro-he!
I am The God Who Kindles Fire In The Head,
Ah-ro-he!
Who makes wise the company on the mountain?
Who makes known the ages of the moon?
Who knows the secret resting-place of the sun?
Ah-ro-he!

 

The Milesians gave a victory-shout at the end of the rann, and Amergin said:

“We will go forward now, and when we reach the place where it seems good to rest we will light a fire and put Three Names of Power on the Land so that it may belong to us forever.”

 

They went forward then and they saw no one till Brigit took the shape of a woman that has known hardship, and came to try them. She wrapped herself in the cloak of Sorrow and sat by the roadside. She made a great keening.

 

“O woman,” said Amergin, “why is there such heavy sorrow on you, and why do you make such a shrill keening?”

 

“I am keening lost possessions, and lost queen-ship, and a name cried down the wind of change and forgotten.”

 

“Whose name is cried down the wind?”

 

“The name of Banba that was queen of this land.”

 

“Her name shall not be whirled into forgetfulness. I will put it on this land: it shall be called Banba.”

 

“My blessing on you, Stag with Golden Horns, and may the name-giving bring you luck!”

 

So Amergin gave away the First Name. They went on from that place, and Brigit took the shape of a fierce beautiful queen that has lost a battle, and came again to try them.

 

“O Queen,” said Amergin, “may all the roads of the world be pleasant to you!”

 

“O King,” said Brigit, “all the roads of the world are hard when those who were wont to go in chariots walk barefoot on them.”

 

“O Queen,” said Amergin, “I would fain better your fortune.”

 

“Grant me then a queen’s asking.”

 

“Name your asking.”

 

“I am Eriu, wife of Mac Grian, Son of the Sun, and I would have my name fastened on this land forever.”

 

“I will put your name on this land: it shall be called Eriu.”

 

“My blessing on you, Sun-Crested Eagle, and may the name-giving bring you luck!”

 

So Amergin gave away the Second Name. They went on from that place, and Brigit took the form of an old wrinkled crone bent double with age, and came again to try them. She was gathering sticks, and the bundle was heavy.

 

“O woman,” said Amergin, “it is hard to see you lifting a bundle when age has bent you so low already. I would fain better your fortune.”

 

Brigit raised herself, and said:–

 

“Though I am an old crone now, bent and withered, yet I was once a great queen, and I will take nothing less than a queen’s asking from you.”

 

“What is your asking? ”

 

“Let my name be on this land: I am Fiola.”

 

“I will put your name on this land: it shall be called Fiola.”

 

“My blessing on you, Silver-Spotted Salmon of Knowledge, and may the name-giving bring you luck!”

 

So Amergin gave away the Third Name. It was after that they made a fire for themselves, and when the smoke of it rose against the sky, Ogma, Nuada, and the Dagda, came to try them.

 

“What people are you? ” asked Nuada, “and from what country have you come?”

 

“We are the sons of Milesius,” they answered; “he himself is the son of a god–even of Beltu, the Haughty Father. We are come from Moy More, the Great Plain that is beyond the horizon of the world.”

 

“How got you knowledge of Ireland?” asked Ogma.

 

“O Champion,” answered Amergin, “from the centre of the Great Plain there rises a tower of crystal. Its top pierces the heavens, and from the ramparts of it the wisest one among us got sight of this land. When he saw it his heart was filled with longing, and when he told us of it our hearts too were filled with longing. Therefore we set out to seek that land, and behold we have come to it. We have come to Inisfail, the Island of Destiny.”

 

“And ye have come to it,” said the Dagda, “like thieves in the night; without proclamation; without weapon-challenge. Ye have lighted a fire here, as if this were a no-man’s land. Judge ye if this be hero conduct.”

 

“Your words have the bitterness of truth in them,” said Amergin. “Say now what you would have us do.”

 

“You are a druid and a leader among your people,” said Nuada. “Give judgment, therefore, between yourselves and us.”

 

“I will give judgment,” said Amergin “I judge it right that we should return to our ships and go out the distance of nine waves from the land. Use all your power against us, and we will use all our power against you. We will take the Island of Destiny by the strength of our hands, or die fighting for it!”

 

“It is a good judgment,” said Ogma, “Get back to your ships! We will gather our battle-chiefs for the fight.”

 

Ogma, Nuada, and the Dagda, went away then from the Milesians.

 

The Milesians began to put out the fire they. had kindled, and as they were quenching the embers, Brigit threw her mantle of power about her and came to the Milesians in her own shape. When Amergin saw her he knew that she was the Mighty Mother, and he cried out:

 

“O Ashless Flame, put a blessing on us now, that our luck may not be extinguished with these embers.”

 

“O Druid,” said Brigit, “if you had wisdom you would know that before the First Fire is extinguished the name-blessing should be pronounced over it.”

 

“O Mother of All Wisdom, I know it, but the name-blessing is gone from me. I met three queens as I came hither, and each one asked the name-gift of me. They were queens discrowned: I could not put refusal on them.”

 

Brigit began to laugh then, and she cried:

 

“O Amergin, you are not counted a fool, yet it seems to me that if you had much wit you would know the eyes of Brigit under any cloak in the world. It was I, myself, who asked the name-gift from you three times, and got it Do not ask a fourth blessing from me now, for I have blessed you three times already.”

 

She stooped and lifted a half-quenched ember from the fire. She blew on it till it became a golden flame–till it became a star. She tossed it from one hand to the other as a child tosses a ball. She went away laughing.

 

The Milesians went back to their ships. They put the distance of nine waves between themselves and the land. The Tuatha De Danaan loosed the Fomor on them, and a mighty tempest broke about their ships. Great waves leaped over them and huge abysses of water engulped them. The utmost power of the Milesians could not bring the ships a hair’s breadth nearer to the shore. A terrible wind beat on them. Ireland disappeared. Then Amergin cried out:

 

“O Land, that has drawn us hither, help us! Show us the noble fellowship of thy trees: we will be comrades to them. Show us the shining companies of thy rivers: we will put a blessing on every fish that swims in them. Show us thy hero-hearted mountains: we will light fires of rejoicing for them. O Land, help us! help us! help us!”

 

Ireland heard him, and sent help. The darkness cleared away and the wind was stilled.

 

Then Amergin said:

 

“O Sea, help us! O mighty fruitful Sea! I call on every wave that ever touched the land. O Sea, help us!”

 

The sea heard him, and the three waves that go round Ireland–the wave of Thoth, the wave of Rury and the long slow white foaming wave of Cleena. The three waves came and lifted the ships to the shore. The Milesians landed. The Tuatha De Danaan came down to make trial of their battle-strength. Hard was the contest between them. The Milesians held their own against the gods. When they saw that the Milesians could hold their own, the Tuatha De Danaan drew themselves out of the fight. They laughed and cried to the Milesians:

 

“Good heroes are ye, and worthy to win the earth: we put our blessing on you.”

 

Nuada shook the bell-branch, and the glory that the Tuatha De Danaan had in Tir-na-Moe before they ever set themselves to the shaping of the earth–that glory–came back to them. They had such splendour that the Milesians veiled their eyes before them.

 

“Do not veil your eyes!” said Nuada, “we will draw the Cloak of invisibility, the Faed Feea, about us. We give you Ireland: but, since our hands have fashioned it, we will not utterly leave the country. We will be in the white mist that clings to the mountains; we will be the quiet that broods on the lakes; we will be the joy-shout of the rivers; we will be the secret wisdom of the woods. Long after your descendants have forgotten us, they will hear our music on sunny raths and see our great white horses lift their heads from the mountain-tarns and shake the night-dew from their crested manes: in the end they will know that all the beauty in the world comes back to us, and their battles are only echoes of ours. Lift up your faces, Children of Milesius, Children of Beltu the Haughty Father, and greet the land that belongs to you!”

 

The Milesians lifted up their heads. No glory blinded them, for the Tuatha De Danaan had drawn the Faed Feea about themselves. They saw the sunlight on the grass like emerald fire; they saw the blueness of the sky and the solemn darkness of the pine trees; they heard the myriad sound of shaken branches and running water, and behind it echoed the laughter of Brigit.

 

———————–

From Celtic Wonder Tales collated by Ella Young

ISBN: 978-1-907256-36-3

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_cwt.html

 

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