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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Fin MacCumhail and the Son of the King of Alba"

Fin MacCumhail and the Son of the King of Alba

On a day Fin went out hunting with his dog Bran, on Knock an Ar; and he killed so much game that he didn't know what to do with it or how to bring it home. As he stood looking and thinking, all at once he saw a man running towards him, with a rope around his waist so long that half his body was covered with it; and the man was of such size that, as he ran, Fin could see the whole world between his legs and nothing between his head and the sky. When he came up, the man saluted Fin, who answered him most kindly. "Where are you going?" asked Fin. "I am out looking for a master." "Well," said Fin, "I am in sore need of a man; what can you do?" "Do you see this rope on my body? Whatever this rope will bind I can carry." "If that is true," said Fin, "you are the man I want. Do you see the game on this hillside?" "I do," said the man. "Well, put that into the rope and carry it to my castle."

The man put all the game into the rope, made a great bundle, and threw it on his back.

"Show me the way to the castle now," said he. Fin started on ahead, and though he ran with all his might, he could not gain one step on the man who followed with the game. The sentry on guard at the castle saw the man running while yet far off. He stepped inside the gate and said: "There is a man coming with a load on his back as big as a mountain." Before he could come out again to his place the man was there and the load off his back. When the game came to the ground, it shook the castle to its foundations. Next day the man was sent to herd cows for a time, and while he was gone, Conán Maol said to Fin: "If you don't put this cowherd to death, he will destroy all the Fenians of Erin." "How could I put such a good man to death?" asked Fin. "Send him," said Conán, "to sow corn on the brink of a lake in the north of Erin. Now, in that lake lives a serpent that never lets a person pass, but swallows every man that goes that way." Fin agreed to this, and the next morning after breakfast he called the man, gave him seven bullocks, a plough, and a sack of grain, and sent him to the lake in the north of Erin to sow corn.

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