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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Fin MacCumhail and the Knight of the Full Axe"

Fin MacCumhail and the Knight of the Full Axe

There was a day when Fin went on an expedition by himself. He walked out to his curroch√°n on the seashore, gave it a kick that sent it out nine leagues from land, then with a spring he jumped into the boat and rowed over the sea.

After he had gone some distance he saw a giant coming towards him, walking through the water, which did not reach his knees. Looking up, Fin could see nothing between the head of the giant and the sky.

With one step the giant was in front of Fin, and it seemed that he and his boat would be lost in a moment between the legs of the terrible monster.

"Poor, little helpless creature! what brings you here in my way?" asked the giant. He was just going to lay hold of the boat and toss it far off to one side, when Fin called out:

"Won't you give fair play; just let me put foot on solid land, and see what will happen. Don't attack me here; I'm not afraid to meet you once I have earth for my two feet to stand on."

"If that is all you want I can take you to land very soon." And seizing the boat as he would a grass-blade, the giant drew it to the shore of the sea opposite to that from which Fin started, and in front of his own castle. "What will you do now?" asked the giant.

"I'll fight with you," said Fin.

The giant brought out his battle-axe, which had a blade seven acres in size. Fin was ready with his sword, and now began a most terrible battle.

Fin faced the giant, slashing at him with his sword, and when the giant made an offer of the axe at him, Fin would dart to one side; and when the axe missing him struck the ground, it went into the handle. The giant was a long time striving to know could he draw out the axe; and while at this Fin ran behind and cut steps with his sword into the leg of his enemy; and by the time the giant had the axe out of the ground, Fin was ready for him again and in front of him, striking and vexing him with his sword. It was another long while till a blow came down; and when the axe went into the ground again, Fin ran behind a second time, cut more steps in the leg and body of the giant, so as to reach his neck and cut the head off him.

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