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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

The bullock woke up then and saw him, and letting a roar out of himself, faced him, and gave him a pitch with his horn which sent him seven miles over the top of a wood. And when he fell to the ground, the bullock was on him again before he had time to rise, and gave him another pitch which sent him back and broke three ribs in his body.

"This will never do," said the man, as he rose, and pulling up an oak-tree by the roots for a club, he faced the bullock. And there they were at one another for five days and nights, till the bullock was as tame as a cat and the man drove him home to Fin's castle. The sentry saw them coming and ran inside the gate with word. "Tell the man to tie the bullock to that oak-tree beyond," said Conán. "We don't want him near this place." The cowherd tied the bullock, and told Fin to send four of the best butchers in Erin to kill him with an axe; and the four of them struck him one after another and any of them couldn't knock him.

"Give me an axe," said the man to the butchers. They gave him the axe, and the first stroke he gave, he knocked the bullock. Then they began to skin him; but the man didn't like the way they were doing the work, so he took his sword and had three quarters of the bullock skinned before they could skin one.

Next morning the cowherd went out with the cows; but he wasn't long gone when Conán Maol came to Fin and said: "If you don't put an end to that man, he'll soon put an end to you and to me and to all of us, so there won't be a man of the Fenians of Erin left alive."

"How could I put an end to a man like him?" asked Fin.

"There is in the north of Erin," said Conán, "a wild sow who has two great pigs of her own; and she and her two pigs have bags of poison in their tails; and when they see any man, they run at him and shake their poison bags; and if the smallest drop of the poison touches him, it is death to him that minute. And, if by any chance he should escape the wild sow and the pigs, there is a fox-man called the Gruagach, who has but one eye and that in the middle of his forehead.

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