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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Cucúlin"

Cucúlin

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"His name is Cucúlin, and he is with Fin MacCumhail. I bind you not to yield to any man," said she to her son, "nor tell your name to any man till you fight him out."

Conlán started from Ulster where his mother was, and never stopped till he was facing Fin and his men, who were hunting that day along the cliffs of KilConaly.

When the young man came up Fin said, "There is a single man facing us."

Conan Maol said, "Let some one go against him, ask who he is and what he wants."

"I never give an account of myself to any man," said Conlán, "till I get an account from him."

"There is no man among us," said Conan, "bound in that way but Cucúlin." They called on Cucúlin; he came up and the two fought. Conlán knew by the description his mother had given that Cucúlin was his father, but Cucúlin did not know his son. Every time Conlán aimed his spear he threw it so as to strike the ground in front of Cucúlin's toe, but Cucúlin aimed straight at him.

They were at one another three days and three nights. The son always sparing the father, the father never sparing the son.

Conan Maol came to them the fourth morning. "Cucúlin," said he, "I didn't expect to see any man standing against you three days, and you such a champion."

When Conlán heard Conan Maol urging the father to kill him, he gave a bitter look at Conan, and forgot his guard. Cucúlin's spear went through his head that minute, and he fell. "I die of that blow from my father," said he.

"Are you my son?" said Cucúlin.

"I am," said Conlán.

Cucúlin took his sword and cut the head off him sooner than leave him in the punishment and pain he was in. Then he faced all the people, and Fin was looking on.

"There's trouble on Cucúlin," said Fin. "Chew your thumb," said Conan Maol, "to know what's on him."

Fin chewed his thumb, and said, "Cucúlin is after killing his own son, and if I and all my men were to face him before his passion cools, at the end of seven days, he'd destroy every man of us."

"Go now," said Conan, "and bind him to go down to Bale strand and give seven days' fighting against the waves of the sea, rather than kill us all.

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