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

Gilla na Grakin and Fin MacCumhail

"Well," said Gilla, when he saw the shaggy back of the Gruagach, "does that hare come here to insult you yet?"

"He does, indeed," said the Gruagach, "but I haven't taken a bite nor a sup off that table since his first visit." "Let us sit down there now," said Gilla na Grakin.

They sat down at the table, but they were not sitting long till the hare came, repeated the insult, and ran out.

Gilla na Grakin made after the hare, and the Gruagach after Gilla.

Gilla ran as fast as ever his legs could carry him, and he was often that near that he used to stretch his arm out after the hare, and almost catch him; but he never touched him till near night, when he was clearing the wall. Then Gilla caught him by the two hind legs, and, swinging him over his own shoulder, dashed him against the wall, tore the head from the body, and sent it bounding across the courtyard of the castle.

Out rushed an old hag that minute. She had but one tooth and that in her upper jaw, and she used this tooth for a crutch.

"Who has killed the pet of this castle!" shrieked she.

"It was I that killed him," said Gilla na Grakin. Then the two made at one another,—the hag and Gilla. They fought all that night and next day. With their fighting they made the hard rocks soft, and water to spring out through the middle of them. All the land of the eastern world was trembling as the evening drew near, and if one of the two was getting weak from the struggle and tired, that one was Gilla na Grakin. When he saw this he thought to himself, "Isn't it a pity if an old hag puts me to death, me, who has put to death many a strong hero."

At this thought he sprang up and seized the hag. With the first thrust which he gave her into the ground he put her to the knees, with the second to her waist, with the third to her shoulders.

"Now," said the old hag to Gilla, "don't kill me, and I'll give you the rod of druidism (enchantment), which I have between my skin and flesh."

"Oh, you wicked old wretch! I'll have that after your death, and no thanks to you," said Gilla.

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