Monthly Archives: May 2017



…As the lot had fallen to Black to go on the second watch, he set a flame to his brand and went off into the night upon Brown’s return, with Fin’s dog, Bran, padding softly behind him.

Black wandered on, going further and further from Tara.

Eventually he saw a bright light and moved towards it.

At the place where the light was shining he saw a large house.

He entered the house and inside saw a great company of strange looking men who were drinking out of a single chalice.

The chieftain of the house who was ensconced in a high chair proclaimed, “this is the Cup of Plenty taken from Fin Mac Coll many years ago, and as much as any man wishes to drink he always gets from it, and no matter the number of men, or what they wish for, they always drink their fill.”

Black sat himself down, near the door of the house, and when the cup was passed to him he took a quick slurp and then slipped away quietly, back into the night, before he was missed.

Taking the Cup of Plenty with him, Black made his way back to the Fountain of Tara, and when he reached it his brand was all but spent. His watch was at an end….

to be continued



… Brown went on through the night until he saw a fire in the distance.

He walked towards it and as he drew near he saw a large house, which he entered.

Inside the house a large crowd of ferocious looking men were fighting wildly.

Their chieftain, who had climbed into the crossbeams of the roof to escape the fight, called out from his vantage.

“You can stop your melee now, for I have a better gift than the one you lost this night.”

Straight away the scrimmage below ceased and the chief drew out a knife from his belt and held it up for all to see.

“This is the Knife of Division which was stolen from Fin Mac Coll many years ago. Cut a bone with this knife and you’ll draw the finest meat in all the world and as much of it as your heart could wish for.”

With that the chieftain passed down the knife and a small bone to the man nearest him who immediately cut the bone with the knife and drew a large chunk of succulent meat.

The knife and the bone were passed around from man to man in this wise until it reached Brown who was the last to take of it.

Brown cut a slice of meat from the bone like all the rest and then quietly slipped away into the night unseen.

He ran fast as he could back to Tara and just as he reached her fountain  the flame on his brand puttered and went out so bringing an end to his watch…

to be continued

Brown, Black, Grey and Red…


Fin Mac Coll was hunting with his Fenians south of Ballyshannon.

Three strange men approached the company.

“Let no one speak before they get to me,” said Fin.

The three interlopers said nothing until they stood before Fin.

“Our names are Brown, Black and Grey,” said they, “we have come to take service with you.”

Fin so liked the look of the three men that he brought them back to Tara with him and called them his ‘sons’.

As night approached he took them to one side.

“Every man who takes my service must watch the first night for me but since you have come together you must each watch a third of the night.”

Fin had a tree felled, its trunk fetched, three equal parts made of it, and one part given to each man.

“When you each begin your watch you must set a light to the brand,” said Fin, “and so long as the brand burns, so long is your watch.”

Brown drew first watch, set fire to his brand and went around the outskirts of Tara taking Fin’s dog Bran with him. …

to be continued

Dereliction of Duty… #writephoto


It was a day of surprises.

For the matter beneath his feet to commence shaking was a surprise because it had shown no prior predilection so to do and hence had come to be regarded as stable.

Given the ‘most stable’s’ new propensity, somewhat less of a surprise but still, unthinkable, his previously stable walls also began to shake.

The third surprise came hot on the heels of the other two.

As the usually reliable roof-tiles cascaded around his head, he realised that a shock-wave could be seen with the naked eye.

It was the last thing he saw.



Inside-Out… #writephoto


“Well, he was here,” said Sputnik,” I saw him from outside, standing by the corner of the window.”

Maggot studied the door lock, the corridor and the stairs beyond, and then he walked slowly across the room and stood by the window-sill.

“You ever heard of spontaneous human combustion, Sputters?” he said quietly.

“You reckon that is what it was?” replied Sputnik, incredulously.

“Something similar,” shrugged Maggot.

“Wouldn’t  it leave some sort of trace?” asked Sputnik, tugging at his sticky-white shirt and tie.

“I expect so,” said Maggot trailing his forefinger idly through viscous liquid…



Tell-Tale Signs II…


… A very different Fionn tale (to give him his correct nomenclature), adapted from one of Ella Young’s re-tellings.

The full cycle of tales from which this one is drawn are available in, The Tangle Coated Horse, and although a ‘childrens book’ it is well worth tracking down as are all her writings.

Young’s is an authentic voice and her vision is both broad and deep and her touch light enough to happily accommodate the many interconnected worlds of Irish myth, folk and fairy-tale.

The Fenian Cycle can be problematic.

Most of the tales are late and many of them have been cast in a nostalgic frame.

On the other hand, the earliest tales are as enigmatic and genuinely challenging as any in the Irish canon and their pursuit can reap great dividends…

For some reason, of all the Irish heroes Fionn most readily ‘makes the transition’ into Scottish Folk-Tale.

In terms of this story, it would be interesting to re-discover the mark or marks on the threshold stone of Brugh na Angus, which should be straightforward enough, and the secret name  or names of the Four Treasures, which might not be quite so straight forward…

So, what are you waiting for?


The Hobbler’s Hovel…


… “Strength of my sword-arm,” continued Fiachna, “destitute and decrepit though I now am, I have a treasure hidden away. I never dared dream I would live to pass it on to Cuill’s son.”

“Fine will be the gift of one who honours my father. Describe it to me.”

“It is the spear that Cuill stole from the Crafty Ones. I secreted it away wrapped in its cloak of darkness even as Goll and his clan sacked your father’s dun. I buried it and built my hovel over it. Tonight, should you wish it, it shall be yours.”

“Fiachna, my father-friend, with that spear this night I hope to win back my birth-right. It is in my mind to test my might against Alain, son of Mithna.”

“Terrible that spear, son of Cuill, I would not tempt you to your death with it.”

“My mind is set with or without the spear. Tonight I shall stand guard over Tara.”

“You have a chieftain’s way with words, Fin. Hasten to Tara now. Say nothing of the spear. I will bring it to you when you have chosen your ground.”

“Fiachna,” said Fin, “if I win victory tonight, I will be your foster-son.”

“Win victory for Tara, son of Cuill, and think no more on me. Win victory for your father and all his broken men.”

“For Cuill,” said Fin, and set off at pace along the High-Way to Tara.