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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Cucúlin"

Cucúlin

"I will give you," said Gil an Og, "a present such as I have never given before to any man who ventured out on my behalf; I will give you the speckled boat."

Cucúlin took leave of Gil an Og and sailed away in the speckled boat to Greece, where he went to the king's court, and challenged him to combat.

The king of Greece gathered his forces and sent them out to chastise Cucúlin. He killed them all to the last man. Then Cucúlin challenged the king a second time.

"I have no one now to fight but myself," said the king; "and I don't think it becomes me to go out and meet the like of you."

"If you don't come out to me," said Cucúlin, "I'll go in to you and cut the head off you in your own castle."

"That's enough of impudence from you, you scoundrel," said the king of Greece. "I won't have you come into my castle, but I'll meet you on the open plain."

The king went out, and they fought till Cucúlin got the better of him, bound him head and heels, and said: "I'll cut the head off you now unless you give me the ring of youth and the rod of enchantment that you took from the father of Gil an Og."

"Well, I did carry them away," said the king, "but it wouldn't be easy for me now to give them to you or to her; for there was a man who came and carried them away, who could take them from you and from me, and from as many more of us, if they were here."

"Who was that man?" asked Cucúlin.

"His name," said the king, "is Lug Longhand. And if I had known what you wanted, there would have been no difference between us. I'll tell you how I lost the ring and rod and I'll go with you and show you where Lug Longhand lives. But do you come to my castle. We'll have a good time together."

They set out next day, and never stopped till they came opposite Lug Longhand castle, and Cucúlin challenged his forces to combat.

"I have no forces," said Lug, "but I'll fight you myself." So the combat began, and they spent the whole day at one another, and neither gained the victory.

The king of Greece himself put up a tent on the green in front of the castle, and prepared everything necessary to eat and drink (there was no one else to do it).

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