Monthly Archives: May 2017

Falling into Step…

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… “Fiachna, son of Conga,” shouted Daatho, “there is a man here who wants a word with you.”

“Let him who wants a word with me, fall into step with me, replied Fiachna.

“Spoken like a true champion,” said Fin, falling into step alongside the old man.

“A name before a word,” said Fiachna.

“I am Fin, son of Cuill, son of Trenmore, son of Bassna,” said Fin.

The old man stopped in his tracks then and his hands began to tremble and to shake.

“Do you say this to mock me?” he asked.

“I speak truly,” said FIn, “do I not resemble my father?”

The old man looked more closely at Fin.

“You have Cuill’s eyes,” he said, “but if you are his son then you will know what mark he wore upon his sporran.”

“The mark on the threshold stone of the Brugh na Angus is on his sporran,” said Fin.

“And how is the sporran marked within?” asked Fiachna.

“It is marked with the secret name of the Four Treasures,” said Fin.

“May the sun and moon protect you Fin, son of Cuill,” said Fiachna, “and may the earth open up safe passage for all your wanderings. But do you have the sporran of Cuill?”

“I have the sporran,” said Fin.

“Then I have a gift for you,” said Fiachna. …

*

to be continued

Sleep-Strain of Alain…

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… “Has Goll tried his hand at it?” asked Fin.

“Goll has tried his hand, and Conan Maul before him, and the king too. They have all chanced their arm and they have all slept.”

“Slept?” said Fin, aghast.

“Aye, slept,” said Daatho, “slept like bairns that have been sung a lullaby.”

“How so?”

“When Alain, the son of Mithna, comes he brings the music of sleep with him on his Fairy Harp. Men in the throes of torture would sleep at the sound of it. The hounds in their kennels sleep. The vermin in the fields sleep. All sleep until Alain has once more burned Tara to the ground. No sword he brings that one, but the sleep-strain of the Crafty-Folk.

“If Cuill, son of Trenmore were still here he might find himself in need of a sword,” said Fin, grimly.

“Cuill, who failed to keep his own head upon his haughty shoulders,” countered Daatho.

“Who treats the name of Cuill, son of Trenmore, so lightly,” bristled Fin.

“One who benefited from his largesse on more than one occasion,” said Daatho, “but if you wish to speak with a clansman of Cuill’s youth, then there hobbles yer man.”

Just then a large, heavy limbed man, bowed but not cowed by age was walking lamely along the road.

“That man,” said Daatho, “is Fiachna, son of Conga, a man still loyal to Cuill’s memory. Rather than submit to the sway of Goll he lives a pauper’s life in a lonely hut.

“I would speak with that man,” said Fin. …

*

to be continued

A Twice-Stole Spear…

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… “Mananawn’s Mount,” muttered Fin, pensively.

“Yeas!” exclaimed Daatho, “from Sidhe Finnaha, where Leer himself resides, he descends like a fire-storm. That radiant place on the very crest of the height is crowned with flames that leap rubied-red, through the day-light hours, but as night falls it sparks and spits like star-fire, as a guard against the foolish and unwary.”

“Do not the High Ones have their share of our spoil?” asked Fin, “what need has one of theirs to torment us so?”

“If the stone of the hills know it they utter it not,” said Daatho, “yet men will ever spin their yarns to draw out the unknown.”

“What stories have you heard told on this matter?” asked Fin.

“The old men say that it is all on account of a spear. They tell that Cuill, who was once the head of the Fianna, stole the spear from the Fairy Rath of Alain, son of Mithna.”

“And where is that spear now?” shouted Fin.

“Where is last year’s winter?” smiled Daatho.

“Is it with Goll, who is now head of the Fianna?”

“It is not with Goll, no,” said Daatho, “though Goll, it is true, sacked the Dun of Cuill, he did not get the spear, and nor did any man now known.”

“And what of the Fianna?” asked Fin, ” has the strength of every champion’s arm been sapped by these fire-storms?”

“You can try the strength of your own arm,” laughed Daatho, “the king has offered their heart-wish, as reward, to any man who can stay the burning of Tara.” …

to be continued

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High-Way to Tara…

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Fin Mac Cuill stood on an out-crop of rock and surveyed the Fortress of Tara…

Brightly coloured banners ran from the breeze over her ornately carved roof-poles…

Long had Fin yearned for this moment, Tara before him and his feet upon the High-Way that led to her…

There was no need now to hasten his steps.

Fin allowed his thoughts to wander…

His mind penetrated the long-roofed halls of Conn, beloved king of his father…

The long-roofed halls where Goll now lorded it…

Goll, Lord of the Fianna…

Goll, slayer of Cuill!

“A heartening sight, is it not?” mused a voice close by him.

Fin turned swiftly in alarm, regretting the loosening of the fetters which normally bound his mind.

The stranger smiled, “Feast your eyes while ye may, stranger, for tomorrow the sun will rise on the charred ruins of that fortress.”

“What man utters such a dire prophecy?” demanded Fin.

“Daatho, utters this prophecy, a man with lands and thralls here. Were you not a stranger you would know that every third Sarwen, Alain, son of Mithna, burns Tara to the ground.

“One man burns Tara to the ground, you say, Daatho?” grinned Fin, disbelieving.

“He is a Crafty One,” said Daatho, “and those that know, of such veiled things, say that he dwells on Smithies Height.” …

to be continued

Dilemmas…

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For over Two-Thousand years

Fine minds have

Pondered the problem

Of philosophical dualism.

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The living soul

A quickening spirit.

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This dilemma, perhaps, can

Best be approached by

Considering three questions.

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Why

Clean the house

Before a birth?

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Why

Tidy the house

Before a guest?

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And what must have

occurred before one

Is able to

Do these things?

– Count Jack Black

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Another Green World? #writephoto

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The infant-souls crouched in the tunnel.

Water trickled and dripped… echoing…

Raven’s claws scratched and scuttled, drowning the echoes; he paused and tilted his head: his moon-eyes flashed.

Two tiny points of light defined the distance.

“Cruuu-aaach!” said Raven, “the light to your right leads to accident and pointlessness. There, is no love and no return. Death is an empty void of nothingness.

“Doooll-aaach!” continued Raven, “the light to your left leads to beauty and design. Love flows everywhere and return is eternal. Death is a paradise of abundance.”

Raven eyed the infant-souls, “which light do you choose?”

*

https://scvincent.com/2017/05/11/thursday-photo-prompt-green-writephoto/

Tell-Tale Signs…

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…There is lots of real depth in this little story.

It is culled from the pages of, ‘Folk Tales of the British Isles’ and is full of that rare and ever dwindling commodity known as Folk Wisdom.

This re-telling then is necessarily based on the translation of Sean O’Sullivan who reports thirty-two other versions of the tale none of which, sadly, now appear to be freely available.

The tale fairly bristles with three-fold quandaries and displays an initial three-fold structure which ultimately, and to the apparent chagrin of the story-teller, shifts to four.

This inter-play between Form and Content can hardly be accidental.

Ostensibly an answer the riddle tale, as is the way with these things, it throws up more questions than it answers.

At the forefront of which are:

Why does Death curl around the hearth ?

Why does a tied sheep stand for Strength?

Why is Youth  housed below stairs?

There are more, loads more…

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Gate to the Land of Youth III…

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… “Shame on you,” said the old man as he struggled to his feet, “to think that such mighty men cannot tie one small sheep.”

He took hold of the sheep, dragged her easily to the wall and re-tied the broken rope.

Fin and his Merry-Men were somewhat aghast to behold these uncanny proceedings but before they could inquire of the old man he again called to the girl below stairs.

“Come and get some more food ready for Fin and his men.”

Up came the girl again and before long a feast fit for kings again lay before Fin and his Merry-Men.

“Now you tuck in good and proper,” said the old man, “you’ll have no more trouble from my sheep.”

*

So, Fin and his Merry-Men ate and drank their fill until, feeling well sated, they drew their chairs back from the table.

Fin had a mind to speak with the girl but when he went down to her she said, “You had me once, you have me no longer, and you will never have me again.”

Fin turned on his heel and went back to his chair.

Then Dermot went down to her and got the self same response.

The same happened to all Fin’s men even though none of them had ever met the girl before.

Ossian was the last to go down but him she led back upstairs by the hand, and across the floor, with her until she stood before Fin.

“Fin Mac Cool,” she said, “ever has the fame of you and your men, for prowess, spread throughout the land yet you all failed to tie the sheep.”

“Is there a solution to this riddle?” asked Fin.

“Things in this hovel are not what they seem,” said the girl, “the sheep, is Strength, the old man, is Death, for none other but death can overcome strength itself,  and I am Youth. I can give each of you whatever gift you ask of me.”

Each man in turn asked for what he wanted.

Fin spoke first.

He asked that he might lose the stench of clay which had clung to him ever since the day he lay alone with a dead woman.

Conan asked for invulnerability in battle and the strength to slay hundreds.

Dermot asked for a love spot on his body which would cause every woman who saw it to fall in love with him.

Finally, Ossian asked for the ‘Grace of God’ and was taken by the girl to the Land of Youth until Saint Patrick came to Ireland.

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Gate to the Land of Youth II…

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… Within the walls of the white-washed house Fin, and his Merry-Men, found an old man lying bent on the edge of the hearth with a sheep tied to the wall alongside.

They sat at table and the old man raised his head and acknowledged them.

‘Little enough chance of sating our thirst and hunger in this hovel,’ thought Dermot.

Just then the old man called loudly for food and drink, and up from the floor below came a strapping young lass who wasted no time in setting the table with a feast fit for kings.

But no sooner had Fin and his Merry-Men put fork to food than the sheep which was tied to the wall broke its hempen rope and rushed toward the table sending the food and drink to the floor.

“By the Gods!” cried Conan, “look at the mess you have made of our supper, and we so badly in need of it.”

“Get up and tie the sheep, Conan,” said Fin.

So, Conan got up and, grabbing the sheep by the scruff of the neck, attempted to drag it back towards the wall.

Try as he might he was unable to do so.

“What’s this,” laughed Dermot along with all the other men, “Conan, the great warrior, defeated by a sheep.”

“I am more than happy to stand aside and let a better man have a go,” growled Conan.

“Get up and tie the sheep, Dermot,” said Fin.

So, up got Dermot and he too tried to drag the sheep to the wall but was unable.

Each of Fin’s men in turn attempted the task and failed until, eventually, Fin himself was forced to stand and tie the sheep but all to no avail.

That sheep was not for budging…

To be continued.

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Gate to the Land of Youth…

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Fin and his Merry-Men were hunting atop a hill.

All day they were there yet caught no glimpse of game.

As evening drew in, Fin spoke, “let’s turn for home, boys, there is naught for us on this dismal hill,” he said, “’twill be late when we get there and a hunger and thirst will be on us.”

“A hunger and thirst on us, already,” said Conan, and spat into the ground.

*

So Fin and his Merry-Men turned and set off down the hill-side.

Before long a Black Fog fell and they lost their way.

“No good ever came from a fog of this sort,” said Fin resignedly, “we’re out for the night now, boys, and no mistake!”

As the Merry-Men set too, assessing their predicament, Dermot spied a white-washed house in the gloom.

Whichever way he turned the house still loomed.

“This way for a home-stead,” cried Dermot, “maybe we’ll find food and drink this dreary night after all.”

So Fin and his Merry-Men followed Dermot to the white-washed house…

To be continued.

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