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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

When they heard the whistle, they said: "Our father and the Fenians of Erin are in trouble." And they faced towards the sound and never stopped till they knocked at the door of the enchanted castle of the son of Alba at Cahirciveen.

"Who is there?" asked Fin.

"Your two sons," said one of them.

"Well," said Fin, "we are in danger of death to-night. That cowherd I had in my service was no cowherd at all, but the son of the king of Alba; and his father has said that he will not eat three meals off one table without having my head. There is an army now on the road to kill us to-night. There is no way in or out of this castle but by one ford, and to that ford the army of the king of Alba is coming."

The two sons of Fin went out at nightfall and stood in the ford before the army. The son of the king of Alba knew them well, and calling each by name, said: "Won't you let us pass?" "We will not," said they; and then the fight began. The two sons of Fin MacCumhail, Pogán and Ceolán, destroyed the whole army and killed every man except the son of the king of Alba.

After the battle the two went back to their father. "We have destroyed the whole army at the ford," said they.

"There is a greater danger ahead," said Fin. "There is an old hag coming with a little pot. She will dip her finger in the pot, touch the lips of the dead men, and bring the whole army to life. But first of all there will be music at the ford, and if you hear the music, you'll fall asleep. Now go, but if you do not overpower the old hag, we are lost."

"We'll do the best we can," said the two sons of Fin.

They were not long at the ford when one said, "I am falling asleep from that music." "So am I," said the other. "Knock your foot down on mine," said the first. The other kicked his foot and struck him, but no use. Then each took his spear and drove it through the foot of the other, but both fell asleep in spite of the spears.

The old hag went on touching the lips of the dead men, who stood up alive; and she was crossing the ford at the head of the army when she stumbled over the two sleeping brothers and spilt what was in the pot over their bodies.

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