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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "Gilla na Grakin and Fin MacCumhail"

Gilla na Grakin and Fin MacCumhail

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Then he told Fin the whole story of what they had gone through and what they had done.

With that the Gruagach put his hand behind him and asked: "How old is this child lying here in the cradle?"

"Only three years," said Fin's wife.

Then the Gruagach took the steel cap between his thumb and fingers, thinking it was the head of the child, and squeezed till the steel cracked with a loud snap, but the child didn't cry.

"Oh, there's the making of a man in him. If he gets age he'll be a champion," said the Gruagach.

Next day the Gruagach left Fin's castle and went to his own place and family.

Gilla na Grakin's time was now up, for he had served a year and a day.

Fin went out to wash himself in a spring near the castle, and when he looked into the spring a spirit spoke up out of the water to him and said:

"You must give back his cup to the king of the Flood, or you must give him battle in its place."

Fin went back to the castle, lamenting the state he was in.

Conan Maol said, "You look like a sorrowful man."

"Why shouldn't I be?" said Fin. "A spirit spoke to me from the spring outside, and told me I must give back the cup to the king of the Flood, or give him battle in place of it. Now Gilla's time is up, and I don't know what to do."

"Well," said Conan Maol, "do you go now and speak to him, and maybe he'll do you a good turn."

Fin went to Gilla na Grakin, and told him what happened at the spring.

"My time is up, as you know," said Gilla, "and I cannot serve on time that is past; but if you want me to go, you must watch my wife Scéhide ni Wánanan on Friday night; and in the middle of the night, when she is combing her hair, any request you'll make of her she can't refuse. The request you'll make is that she'll let me go with you to the king of the Flood, to take the cup to his castle and bring it back again."

Fin watched the time closely, and when the middle of Friday night came, he looked through a hole in the door and saw Scéhide combing her hair. Then he asked his request of her.

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