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

Gilla na Grakin and Fin MacCumhail


"Well," said Fin, "maybe he'll not know you in a strange dress."

When Lun Dubh came alongside, he called out: "I know you well, and it's not by your dress that I know you, Césa MacRi na Tulach." Then Lun Dubh sprang on deck, raised his hand, struck Gilla, and stretched him dead.

Fin sailed away with the body of Gilla na Grakin, and when he came in sight of the shore of Erin he raised a black flag; for he had promised Gilla's wife to raise a white flag if her husband was well, but a black one if he was dead.

When he came to the shore, Scéhide ni Wánanan was there before him, and she had a large, roomy box. When she saw Fin she said, "You have him dead with you?"

"I have," said Fin.

"What will you do with him now?" asked she.

"I will bury him decently," said Fin.

"You will not," said she; "you will put him in this box."

Then Fin put him in the box. She went aside and got some fresh shamrock and went into the box with Gilla. Then she told Fin to push the box out to sea, and putting down the cover fastened it inside.

Fin pushed the box out into the sea, and away it went driven by wind and waves, till one day Scéhide looked out through a hole and saw two sparrows flying and a dead one between them. The two living sparrows let the dead one down on an island. Soon they rose up again, and the dead one was living.

Said Scéhide to herself, "There might be something on that island that would cure my husband as it cured the dead bird."

Now the sea put the box in on the island. Scéhide unfastened the cover, came out, and walked around the island. Nothing could she find but a small spring of water in a rock. "It's in this the cure may be," thought she, as she looked at the water. Then taking off one of her shoes she put it full of the water, took it to the box, and poured it on Gilla na Grakin. That moment he stood up alive and well. Gilla walked along the shore till he found two pieces of wood. He threw one across the other, gave them a tip of his hand, a fine large ship stood there at the shore, and in it he sailed with Scéhide back to Erin.

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