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

Gilla na Grakin and Fin MacCumhail

"Well," answered she, "I can't refuse, but you must promise me to bring back Gilla, dead or alive."

Fin promised her that.

Next morning Fin MacCumhail and Gilla na Grakin set out for the castle of the king of the Flood, taking the cup with them.

They walked over Erin till they came to the shore of the sea. There Gilla caught up two pieces of wood, and putting one across the other, struck them a tip of his fingers, and out of them rose a fine ship. He and Fin went on board, sailed away, and never stopped till they cast anchor outside all the ships, under the castle of the king of the Flood. The two walked on from deck to deck till they stood on shore.

They went a short distance from the castle of the king and pitched a tent.

Said Gilla to Fin, "Now we are hungry, and I must find food for you and myself."

So Gilla na Grakin went to the castle and asked food of the king of the Flood.

"You'll get nothing to eat from me. I have no food in this place to give you or the like of you; but there is a wild bull in the wood outside. Find him: if you kill him, you'll have something to eat; if not you'll go fasting," said the king of the Flood to Gilla na Grakin.

Gilla went out to the wood, and when the wild bull saw a man coming towards him he drove his horns into the ground, and put an acre of land over his own back. Then he threw up an oak-tree, roots and all, till it nearly reached the sky, and made at Gilla na Grakin. But if he did, Gilla was ready for him and faced him, and when the bull came up, he caught him by the horns and threw him to the ground; then putting a foot on one horn, he took the other in his two hands, split the bull from muzzle to tail, and made two halves of him.

Gilla carried the carcass to the tent, and when he had taken off the skin he said to Fin, "We have no pot to boil the meat in. Well, I'll go to the king again."

So off he went and knocked at the castle door.

"What do you want now?" asked the king.

"I want a pot," said Gilla, "to boil the wild bull.

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