Category Archives: Folk Tale

The Eye-Guy…

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SPOILS OF THE ABYSS

 When Pryderi, Lord of Underhill, was treated for the

 injury done to his arm by Tyrnonos, Thunder-of-Water,

 his leech, Nudd, found that he was unable to save the limb; so

 he hacked it down to a stump and put a silver hand on Pryderi which

 was so cunningly crafted that it had all the movement of a natural hand.

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Yet still Pryderi had no end of pain and trouble with the arm

and he was forever lying sick in his bed from the grief of it…

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“Not a particularly auspicious start, and no sign of our ‘Eye-Guy’.”

“Give it time.” …

“Did they have ‘bionic’ hands in those days then?”

“A ha… I don’t know, did they have ‘bionic’ hands in those days?”

“I think not.”

“We are dealing with the Crafty Folk here, remember?”

“I still think not.”

“So, to what can the silver hand or arm refer?”

“It would be useful to know which we are dealing with, actually.”

“Some sources specify hand, some specify arm, and this lack of precision may itself be the clue to our non literal interpretation. You’d think they’d know!”

“You would.”

“Let’s settle on limb, then. To what can the silver-limb refer?”

“If it’s silver it could have something to do with the moon?”

“I think that’s a very auspicious start.”

“Or a tree?”

“Even better, what sort of tree?”

“A birch tree.”

“Now, I know that is an incredibly auspicious start.”

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Tell Tale Signs V…

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A very early version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, perhaps, yet there is much more here than merely a cautionary tale.

Or is this the ‘first entrance’ of our much vaunted king Arthur?

Apple for Avalon and Yew for an ‘evergreen death’…

The emphasis on topography and the singularly macabre content mark this as a druidic teaching story.

Refreshing also to note the pivotal use of simulacra. Not only is this phenomenon recognised in the tale, it also appears to have been given a very specific meaning which is indisputably linked to the spirit. This is a very different concept to anything modern science teaches us.

The main thrust of the argument is concerned with division and unity which in this instance also appears to be linked to use of the Ogham script, ‘woods and trees’ and the ethics of the poetical endeavour more generally. Forests here, then, would not be concieved so much as catherdral’s, perhaps, but as universities, or still playing on our theme of wisdom… schools!

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The Tale of Bally-mac-Buan III…

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…Many years later, in the reign of Art-mac-Conn, at the festival of Samhuin, the Master Poets came to the feast, as was their custom, and they brought their tablets of poetry with them.

When king Art saw the tablets of Yew and Apple he asked for them and they were brought to him.

The king was holding the tablets in each hand, face to face, admiring their craftsmanship, when the two sprang together and would not from that time on be separated.

Like woodbine around a twig were they and so they were preserved with all the other wondrous jewels in the Treasury of Tara…

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The Tale of Bally-mac-Buan II…

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…Afterwards the same uncanny man went to the south and accosted Elaine as she was resting from her travels in a sun-trap.

“From whence do you come and where are you heading, unknown?” said Elaine.

“From the mouth of the river Bann, in the north, to Mount Leinster in the south,” said the uncouth man.

“What news have you from the north?” said Elaine.

“No news that is good news,” said the traveller, “I passed an unhappy troupe of Ultonians raising a ‘rath’ for their Lord, Bally-mac-Buan.”

After dispensing this news the spectre darted out of the sun-bower.

Elaine fell dead on the spot.

Her kinsfolk raised a ‘rath’ over her and an Apple tree grew there.

The canopy of the tree assumed the form and features of Elaine’s face.

After a number of years the Yew tree of Bally and the Apple tree of Elaine were cut down

and the wood of each was made into a Poet’s Tablet.

The Ultonians wrote the Visions, Espousals, Loves and Courtships of Ulster in the Tablet of Yew.

And likewise in the Tablet of Apple went the Visions, Espousals, Loves and Courtships of Leinster…

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to be continued

 

The Tale of Bally-mac-Buan…

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Bally ‘sweet-speech’ the renowned story teller

secretly arranged to tryst with Elaine, daughter of king Fergus.

The one from Ulster, the other from Leinster…

Both set out to meet at Ross-na-Ree on the south side of the river Boyne.

Bally and his troupe had reached Dundalk

before fatigue overtook them and they rested awhile.

Heading towards them from the south, along the shore, came a hideous spectre.

Vehement his step and rapid his progress.

He sped over the earth as a hawk falling on prey.

“From where do you hail, and to where are you heading in so swift a manner?” called Bally to the man, if man he was.

“Why, to the mouth of the river Bann, I am heading,” said the uncanny one, “back north from Leinster Mount.”

“What news from the south?” said Bally.

“No news that is good news,” said the traveller, “Elaine, daughter of Fergus, has died by forcible detention of the Leinster-Men.”

On so saying the spectre darted away from the company like a blast of wind over green sea.

When Bally heard this he fell dead on the spot.

His company raised a ‘rath’ and through it a Yew tree grew.

Its canopy took the form and shape of Bally’s face and features…

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to be continued

Literati…

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When Fionn was a boy he was fostered on the hermit, Finaghast, who was to be his instructor.
The old hermit had been living by the river Boyne with the aim of catching the Salmon of Knowledge.
Tradition had it that the first person to taste the flesh of that salmon would receive
the gift of past and future sight and would become the wisest man in all Erin.
Finaghast had spent many years fishing in the river, hoping that
one day the Salmon of Knowledge would swim by.
One day, as Finaghast was pitching Fionn his, Auraicept, by the river, there were unusual stirrings in the water of the Boyne.
Old man and boy peered into the river and saw a beautiful, speckled salmon swimming swiftly towards them.
“The Salmon of Knowledge!” cried Finaghast running for his fish-net.
As he returned to the river-bank with the fish-net to hand, the Salmon of Knowledge leapt out of the water and gazed into his eyes.
Finaghast-the-Hermit, immediately collapsed to the ground in a deep sleep, for it was an ability of the Salmon that whosoever its gaze first fell upon when breaching the water course would always be put into such a condition.
Fionn ran to Finaghast and attempted to shake him awake, but to no avail.
With his instructor lost to the world it was left to the pupil to land the fish, which Fionn did, eventually, after an almighty tussle.
Still unable to wake his instructor, Fionn, set about cooking the salmon in the hope that the aroma of the broiling fish would bring old Finaghast round.
It nearly worked too, but just as the fish was softening nicely, and Finaghast began to stir, a drop from the boiling pot fizzed out and caught Fionn plumb on his thumb, so scalding him.
Fionn instinctively stuck his thumb into his mouth to cool it.
When Finaghast woke from his sleep he noticed a great change in his young pupil.
There was a light behind his eyes, like that of a flame, and his cheeks were glowing brightly.
“Fionn, did you eat of the salmon?” asked Finaghast.
“I did not eat of the salmon,” said Fionn.
“Fionn did you taste any of the salmon at all?” asked Finaghast.
Fionn then explained all that had happened and the old hermit realised that the grace of wisdom had been granted, not to him, but to his foster son…
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