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

A Year and a Day

Then tell me what he does.'

"'He is running straight toward the birds,' the man answered, 'and they are coming straight toward him and toward us, along the ground. Ah! he has caught one of them, and all the rest have flown away! He has killed the bird! He is rushing back to us, with madness in his eyes and his mouth covered with blood and foam! I fear that he will be worse for us than the birds would have been.'

"'Hold the spear straight in front of you as he comes,' said Oisin, 'and let him run upon the point of it and kill him.'

"The man held the spear as Oisin told him, and when the dog came on he was caught upon the point of it, and it went through his heart and he fell dead.

"Then the man went and cut off one of the legs of the bird which had been killed, and they took it with them and started back. As they went they passed a mountain ash which had berries of enormous size, and the man put one of them into the chariot. Then the man saw huge ivy leaves, and he took one of them too. So they went back to St. Patrick's house and showed all the men there what they had brought. The leg of the bird and the berry and the ivy leaf were even larger than Oisin had said. And after that they all believed the stories that Oisin told them, and all of them agreed that a man who had lived in the days when there were such trees and such beasts and such men in Erin should be his own judge as to how much he needed to eat. And so after that all of St. Patrick's men treated him as well as did St. Patrick himself.

"But Oisin died only a little while after that, the last of the great heroes of Erin. He had lived for more than three hundred years, and it seemed to him no more than the life of a young man."

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