How Fann Mac Cuil and his Men were Bewitched

Patrick Kennedy
1891 (2nd Edition)

The King of Greek's daughter had a great spite to Fann Mac Cuil, and Goll, one of his great heroes, and Oscur his grandson. So she came one day and appeared like a white doe before him; and bedad he chased her with his two hounds, Brann and another, till she led them away to the bottom of the black North. She vanquished from them at the edge of a lake, and while they were looking about for her, a beautiful lady appeared sitting on the bank, tearing her hair, and crying. "What ails you, lady?" says Fann. "My ring is dropped into the water," says she, "and my father and mother will murder me if I go home without it." "I'll get it for you," says he, and he dived three times one after another for it. The third time he felt the chill of death on him, and when he was handing the ring to her, he was a decripid, weak, gray-haired old man. "Now," says she, "maybe you'll remember the King of Greek's daughter, and how you killed her husband and her two sons." "If I did," says he, "it was on the battle-field, fighting man to man." She left him there as helpless as the child two days old, and went away with herself.

There was great sorrow and trouble that night at Fann's house, and the next day all his warriors, except Oscur, set out after him. Well, they travelled and they travelled, till they were tired and hungry, and at last they entered an old fort, and what did they see but a fine table laid out, and seven stone seats around it. They were too hungry to make much ceremony; so they sat down, and ate and drank; and just as they were done, in walks the lady, and says she—"Sith ye merry, gentlemen; I hope your meal agreed with you. Fann is at the edge of that lake you see down there; if you like, you may come with me to pay him a visit." They gave a shout of joy, but bedad, when they offered to get up they found themselves glued to their stone seats. Oh, weren't they miserable! and they could see poor Fann lying on a bank by the loch not able to stir hand or foot.

There they stayed in grief for a day and a night, and at last they saw Oscur following Brann that was after going a hundred miles in quest of him. Brann found Oscur lying asleep by the Lake of Killarney, and he barked so loud that the wolves, and deers, and foxes, and hares, run fifty miles away; the eagles, and kites, and hawks, flew five miles up in the sky, and the fishes jumped out on dry land. Never a wake did Oscur wake, and then Brann bit his little finger to the bone. "Tattheration to you for an Oscur! "says poor Brann, and then he was so mad he seized him by the nose. Very few can stand to have any liberty taken with the handle of their face—no more did Oscur. He opened his eyes, and was going to make gibbets of the dog, but he put up his muzzle, and began to caoin, and then trotted off, looking round at Oscur. "Oh ho!" says he, "Fann or Goll is in danger," and he followed him hot-foot to the North. He came up to Fann, but could hardly hear what he was striving to tell him. So Oscur put Fann's thumb to his lips, for himself wasn't able to stir hand or foot. "And now, Fann," says he, "by the virtue of your thumb, tell me how I'm to get this pishrogue removed." "Go," says he, in a whisper that had hardly anything between it and dead silence, "go to the fairy hill, and make the enchanter that lives there give you the drink of youth."

When he came to the hill, the thief of a fairy man sunk down seven perches into the ground, but Oscur was not to be circumvented. He dug after him till the clay and stones made a new hill, and when they came to the solid rock he pinned him, and brought him up to the light of the sun. His face was as gray as ashes, and as shrivelled as a russidan apple, and very unwilling he was to give up the cup. But he was forced to do so, and it wasn't long till Oscur was by Fann's side, and spilling a little, drop by drop, down his throat. Up he sprung five yards in the air, and shouted till the rocks rung; and it wasn't long till himself, and Oscur, and Brann were in the middle of the enchanted men. Well, they were nearly ashamed of themselves pinned to their seats, but Oscur didn't leave them long in grief. He spilled some of the cup down by every man's thigh, and freed he was; but, be the laws, there wasn't hardly a drop in the cup when he come to the ounkran of a make-game, foul-mouthed, bald Cunyán (Conan). He could only free a part of one thigh, and at last Oscur, getting onpatient, took him body and sleeves, and pulled him off the stone. What a roar he let out of him! his breeches—if it's breeches they wore in them ould times—stuck to the seat, and a trifle of Cunyán's skin along with it. "Whist!" says Oscur, "we'll get a sheep-skin sewed on you, and you'll be as comfortable as any May-boy after it."

Well, when all were free, they gave three shouts that were heard as far as the Isle of Man; and for a week after they got home they done nothing but eating the vengeance of goats and deers, and drinking wine, and meadh, and beer that the Danes larned them to make from heath; and gentle and simple might go in and out, and eat and drink, and no one was there to say—"Who asked you to visit us? "

End of this Story

The admirers of our Ossianic relics will give anything but a hearty welcome to these disfigurations of the brave old bard. But let them not blame poor Reddy too much. He understood Irish, for his father and mother spoke it pretty fluently, but they would not suffer their children to speak it. They got them taught to spell and read English, and would not allow of anything that might tend to counteract their studies. Some few of the native poetic beauties would flash out here and there, but they were stifled in the colloquial style natural to the storyteller.