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

Gilla na Grakin and Fin MacCumhail

Gilla na Grakin went on board the vessel, hoisted the sails, and off he went in a straight line. The music he heard on his way was the whistling of eels in the sea and the calling of gulls in the air, till he came under the king's castle in Lochlin. When he came, there were hundreds of ships standing near the shore, and he had to anchor outside them all; then he stepped from ship to ship till he stood on land.

What should there be at the time he landed but a great feast in the castle of the king. So Gilla went to the front of the castle and stood outside at the door; but he could go no further for the crowd, and no one looked at him. At last he shouted: "This is a very hospitable feast, and you are a people of fine manners not to ask a stranger is he hungry or thirsty."

"You are right," said the king, who turned to the people and said: "Give the pot of plenty to the stranger till he eats his fill."

The people obeyed the king, and when Gilla na Grakin got hold of the pot he made for the ship, and never stopped till he was on board. He put the pot in a safe place below. Then standing on deck he said to himself: "It is no use to take the pot by my swiftness unless I take it by my strength."

So he turned and went to land again. All the heroes and champions of the king of Lochlin and his whole army were ready to fight, but if they were so was Gilla na Grakin.

When he came up to the army he began and went through it as a hawk goes through a flock of swallows, till he made one heap of their heads and another heap of their weapons. Then he went to the castle, caught the king in one hand and the queen in the other, and putting them under his two arms brought them out in front of the castle and killed each with the other.

All was quiet and still at the castle. There wasn't a man alive to stand up against Gilla na Grakin, who went to his ship, raised the sails, and started for Erin. All he heard was the spouting of whales, the whistling of eels, the calling of gulls, and the roar of the wind, as the ship rushed back to the place where he had made it in Erin.

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