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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "A Year and a Day"

A Year and a Day

He wondered if he had been wise to come at all. But he went on, and now he rode fast, in this direction and in that, to try to find the Fenians. Sometimes he asked people whom he met if they could tell him of his father. Some of them shook their heads and said that they knew no such person as Finn McCool. Others laughed at him. One or two old men told him that the Fenians had all died long ago and that the man of greatest power in Ireland now was Patrick. It was hard for him to believe. He would have thought himself in a dream, but a dream seems right and true while it lasts, and this seemed all wrong and false. Yet, when he found a place that he knew and looked for some familiar stronghold of the Fenians, he found only a low mound of earth, grown all over with grass, or perhaps with weeds and bushes. And everywhere he saw these houses of stone, with crosses on their tops.

"Then it came into his mind to find this Patrick of whom he heard so much, and to see what sort of man was now the greatest in Ireland. This was an easier matter than searching for the Fenians. Everyone knew where the holy Patrick was, and soon Oisin came near the place and found that the saint was building another of the stone houses. As Oisin came near he saw some men trying to lift a heavy stone upon a car, to take it to the new building. It almost made him laugh to see how small and weak the men were. He knew well that he could put the stone on the car alone. It was no larger than the stones that the Fenians used to throw for sport.

"He came near and leaned down from his saddle to lift the stone for the men. He took hold of it and began to raise it, but with the weight the girth of his saddle broke, the saddle slipped around on the horse, Oisin fell, and the horse ran away. Oisin lay there on the ground of Erin, which the Princess had forbidden him to touch, an old man, weak, helpless, blind, hollow-cheeked, wrinkled, white-haired.

"The men took him up and carried him to St. Patrick, who welcomed him kindly and kept him for a while in his own house.

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