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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Cucúlin"


" They went away and were not long gone when Gil an Og came and said: "Cucúlin, if you had done my bidding, you wouldn't be as you are to-night. But if you neglect my words now, you'll never see my face again. I'll cure you this time and make you as well as ever;" and whatever virtue she had she healed him so he was as strong as before.

"Oh, then," said Cucúlin, "whatever comes on me I'll never turn back till I knock another day's trial out of Thin-in-Iron."

"Well," said she, "you are a stronger man than he, but there is no good in working at him with a sword. Throw your sword aside to-morrow, and you'll get the better of him and bind him. You'll not see me again."

She went away and he fell asleep. His comrades came in the morning and found him sleeping. They got breakfast, and, after eating, Cucúlin went out and called a challenge.

"Oh, 'tis the same man as yesterday," said Thin-in-Iron, "and if I had cut the head off him then, it wouldn't be he that would trouble me to-day. If I live for it, I'll bring his head in my hand to-night, and he'll never disturb me again."

When Cucúlin saw Thin-in-Iron coming, he threw his sword aside, and facing him, caught him by the body, raised him up, then dashed him to the ground, and said, "If you don't give me what I want, I'll cut the head off you."

"What do you want of me?" asked Thin-in-Iron.

"I want the rod of enchantment and the ring of youth you carried from the Gruagach."

"I did indeed carry them from him, but it would be no easy thing for me to give them to you or any other man; for a force came which took them from me."

"What could take them from you?" asked Cucúlin.

"The queen of the Wilderness, an old hag that has them now. But release me from this bondage and I'll take you to my castle and entertain you well, and I'll go with you and the rest of the company to see how will you thrive."

So he took Cucúlin and his friends to the castle and entertained them joyously, and he said: "The old hag, the queen of the Wilderness, lives in a round tower, which is always turning on wheels.

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