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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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The king heard these words, and said, "You are right;" and turning to his people said, "Give this stranger the cup till he drinks his fill."

As soon as ever Gilla got the cup in his hands, he made for the ship and never stopped till he put the cup in the hold of the vessel. Then he came on deck, and thought, "It's no use to take the cup with my swiftness, unless I take it with my strength."

So back he turned to the castle, and when he reached land, the whole army and all the champions of the king of the Flood stood ready to oppose him. When he came up, he went through them as a hawk through a flock of swallows. He made a heap of their heads in one place, and a heap of their weapons in another, and then went back to the ship without thinking of the king and the queen of the Flood—forgot them.

He raised his sails and went away, listening to music on the sea till he touched land in Erin. Then he took the cup in one hand, struck the ship with the other, turned it into the two sticks which he had found on the shore, and travelled on till he came to the castle of Fin MacCumhail and gave up the cup.

"You're the best man I have ever had," said Fin; "and I give you my thanks and praise for the work you have done."

In the castle they spent the first part of that night in ease, the second in sport, and the third in a hurried sleep.

Next morning said Fin to the Fenians of Erin, "We needn't leave the house now unless we like. We have the best of eating from the pot, and the best of drinking from the cup. The one is never empty, and the other is never dry, and we'll go hunting in future only to pass the time for ourselves."

One day Conan Maol was out with Fin a third time, and said he: "If we don't find some way to kill Gilla na Grakin, he'll destroy you and me, and all the Fenians of Erin."

"Well," asked Fin, "where do you want to send him this time?"

"I want him to go to the eastern world, and find out what was it that left the Gruagach with but the one hair on his head.

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