Finn MacCool (Fionn mac Cuimhaill), perhaps the most popular of the Irish mythical heroes, has appeared over the centuries in many guises. As a giant, he is given credit for building the Giant’s Causeway, a natural rock formation on the Antrim coast, and for cutting many mountain passes in both Ireland and Scotland with his sword. In the Old Irish version of “Tristan and Isolde” (“The Pursuit of Dermat and Grania”), he is a bumbling old fool. Geoffrey Keating, the seventeenth-century historian, claimed he was a historical figure who died in A.D. 283. But in most of the tales he appears as an Arthurian ruler—a descendant of Nuadu, the silver-armed king of the De Danann—who is surrounded by a band of followers, Fenians, who are not unlike the knights of the roundtable. Among them are his son, the poetic Oisin, and his grandson, the heroic Oscar, both of whom became especially popular during the nineteenth-century Celtic revival.

The quicken trees in the title are European mountain ash, often thought to have magical powers. Although this tale includes many magical elements, it also has its realistic aspects, such as the Viking threat, the presence of high-born hostages in royal courts, and the fact that most medieval skirmishes did indeed take place near fords across streams or rivers. The King of the World in the story may be a reference to the Holy Roman emperor Charlemagne.

The Palace of the Quicken Trees (Bruidhean Chaorthainn) came out of the eighth- and ninth-century oral tradition and seems to have been first written down in the tenth century.


A NOBLE, WARLIKE KING ruled over Lochlann [home of the Danes], whose name was Colga of the Hard Weapons. On a certain occasion, this king held a meeting of his chief people, on the broad, green plain before his palace of Berva. And when they were all gathered together, he spoke to them in a loud, clear voice, from where he sat high on his throne; and he asked them whether they found any fault with the manner in which he ruled them, and whether they knew of anything deserving of blame in him as their sovereign lord and king. They replied, as if with the voice of one man, that they found no fault of any kind.

Then the king spoke again and said, “You see not as I see. Do you not know that I am called King of the Four Tribes of Lochlann, and of the Islands of the Sea? And yet there is one island which acknowledges not my rule.”

And when they had asked which of the islands he meant, he said—

“That island is Erin of the green hills. My forefathers, indeed, held sway over it, and many of our brave warriors died there in fight. But though our hosts at last subdued the land and laid it under tribute, yet they held it not long; for the men of Erin arose and expelled our army, regaining their ancient freedom.

“And now it is my desire that we once more sail to Erin with a fleet and an army, to bring it under my power, and take, either by consent or by force, the tributes that are due to me by right. And we shall thereafter hold the island in subjection till the end of the world.”

The chiefs approved the counsel of the king, and the meeting broke up.

Then the king made proclamation, and sent his swift scouts and couriers all over the land, to muster his fighting men, till he had assembled a mighty army in one place.

And when they had made ready their curve-sided, white-sailed ships, and their strong, swift-gliding boats, the army embarked. And they raised their sails and plied their oars; and they cleft the billowy, briny sea; and the clear, cold winds whistled through their sails; and they made neither stop nor stay, till they landed on the shore of the province of Ulad [Ulster].

The King of Ireland at that time was Cormac Mac Art, the grandson of Conn the Hundred-fighter. And when Cormac heard that a great fleet had come to Erin, and landed an army of foreigners, he straightway sent tidings of the invasion to Allen [in Kildare], where lived Finn, and the noble Fena of the Gaels.

When the king’s messengers had told their tale, Finn despatched his swift-footed couriers to every part of Erin where he knew the Fena dwelt; and he bade them to say that all should meet him at a certain place, near that part of the coast where the Lochlann army lay encamped. And he himself led the Fena of Leinster northwards to join the muster.

They attacked the foreigners, and the foreigners were not slow to meet their onset; and the Fena were sore pressed in that battle, so that at one time the Lochlanns were like to prevail.

Oscar, the son of Oisin [Finn’s son], when he saw his friends falling all round him, was grieved to the heart; and he rested for a space to gather his wrath and his strength. Then, renewing the fight, he rushed with fury towards the standard of Colga, the Lochlann king, dealing havoc and slaughter among those foreigners that stood in his track. The king saw Oscar approach, and met him; and they fought a deadly battle hand-to-hand. Soon their shields were rent, their hard helmets were dinted with sword-blows, their armour was pierced in many places, and their flesh was torn with deep wounds. And the end of the fight was, that the king of the foreigners was slain by Oscar, the son of Oisin.

When the Lochlanns saw their king fall, they lost heart, and the battle went against them. But they fought on nevertheless, till evening, when their army entirely gave way, and fled from the field. And of all the nobles and princes and mighty chiefs who sailed to Erin on that expedition, not one was left alive, except the youngest son of the king, whose name was Midac Him Finn spared on account of his youth; with intent to bring him up in his own household.

After the Fena had rested for a time, and buried their dead, they turned their faces southward, and marched slowly towards Allen, bringing their sick and wounded companions. And Finn placed Midac among the household of Allen, treating him honourably, and giving him servants and tutors. Moreover, he enlisted him in the Fena, and gave him a high post as befitted a prince.


After this things went on as before, while Midac grew up towards manhood, and hunted and feasted with the Fena, and fought with them when they fought. But he never lost an opportunity of making himself acquainted with all their haunts and hunting-grounds, their palaces and fortresses, and in particular with their manner of carrying on war.

It happened one day that Finn and some of his leading chiefs were in council, considering sundry matters, especially the state and condition of the Fena; and each chief was commanded by Finn to speak, and give his opinion or advice on anything that he deemed weighty enough to be debated by the meeting.

And after many had spoken, Conan Mail, the son of Morna, stood up and said—

“It seems to me, O king, that you and I and the Fena in general are now in great danger. For you have in your house, and mixing with your people, a young man who has good cause of enmity towards you; that is to say, Midac, the son of the king of Lochlann. For was it not by you that his father and brothers and many of his friends were slain? Now I notice that this young prince is silent and distant, and talks little to those around him. Moreover, I see that day after day he takes much pains to know all matters relating to the Fena; and as he has friends in Lochlann, mighty men with armies and ships, I fear me the day may come when this prince will use his knowledge to our destruction.”

Finn said that all this was quite true, and he asked Conan to give his opinion as to what should be done.

“What I advise in the matter is this,” said Conan, “that Midac be not allowed to abide any longer in the palace of Allen. But as it is meet that he should be treated in a manner becoming a prince, let him be given a tract of land for himself in some other part of Erin, with a home and a household of his own. Then shall we be freed from his presence, and he can no longer listen to our counsels, and learn all our secrets and all our plans.”

This speech seemed to Finn and the other chiefs reasonable and prudent, and they agreed to follow the advice of Conan Mail.

Accordingly Finn sent for the prince, and said to him—

“Thou knowest, Midac, that thou hast been brought up from boyhood in my household, and that thou hast been dealt with in every way as becomes a prince. Now thou art a man, and standest in no further need of instruction, for thou hast learned everything needful for a prince and for a champion of the Fena; and it is not meet that thou shouldst abide longer in the house of another. Choose, therefore, the two cantreds that please thee best in all Erin, and they shall be given to thee and to thy descendants for ever as a patrimony. There thou shalt build houses and a homestead for thyself, and I will help thee with men and with cattle and with all things else necessary.”

Midac listened in silence; and when the king had done speaking, he replied in a cold and distant manner and in few words, that the proposal was reasonable and proper, and pleased him well. And thereupon he chose the rich cantred of Kenri on the Shannon, and the cantred of the Islands lying next to it on the north, at the other side of the river [near Limerick].

Now Midac had good reasons for choosing these two territories beyond all others in Erin. For the river opens out between them like a great sea, in which are many islands and sheltered harbours, where ships might anchor in safety; and he hoped to bring a fleet and an army into Erin some day, to avenge on Finn and the Fena the defeats they had inflicted on his countrymen, and above all, the death of his father and brothers. And being bent on treachery, he could not have chosen in all Erin a territory better suited for carrying out his secret designs.

So these two cantreds were bestowed on Midac. Finn gave him also much cattle and wealth of all kinds; so that when his houses were built, and when he was settled in his new territory, with his servants and his cattle and his wealth all round him, there was no brugaid [local ruler] in Erin richer or more prosperous than he.

For fourteen years Midac lived in his new home, growing richer every year. But the Fena knew nothing of his way of life, for he kept himself apart, and none of his old acquaintances visited him. And though he was enrolled in the ranks of the Fena, he never, during all that time, invited one of them to his house, or offered them food or drink or entertainment of any kind.

One day, Finn and the Fena went to hunt in the district of Fermorc, and over the plains of Hy Conall Gavra. And when all was arranged and the chase about to begin, Finn himself, and a few of his companions, went to the top of the hill of Knockfierna [near Limerick] to see the sport; while the main body of the Fena scattered themselves over the plain with their dogs and attendants, to start the deer and the wild boars and all the other game of the forest.

Then Finn’s people pitched their tents, and made soft couches of rushes and heather, and dug cooking-places; for they intended the hill to be the resting-place of all who chose to rest, till the chase was ended.

After Finn and his companions had sat for some time on the hill, they saw a tall warrior coming towards them, armed in full battle array. He wore a splendid coat of mail of Lochlann workmanship, and over it a mantle of fine satin dyed in divers colours. A broad shield hung on his left shoulder, and his helmet glittered in the morning sun like polished silver. At his left side hung a long sword, with golden hilt and enamelled sheath; and he held in his right hand his two long, polished, death-dealing spears. His figure and gait were wonderfully majestic, and as he came near, he saluted the king in stately and courteous words.

Finn returned the salutation, and spoke with him for a while; and at length he asked him whence he had come, and if he had brought any tidings.

“As to the place I came from,” he answered, “that need not be spoken of; and for news, I have nothing to tell except that I am a ferdana [poet], and that I have come to thee, O king of the Fena, with a poem.”

“Methinks, indeed,” replied Finn, “that conflict and battle are the poetry you profess; for never have I seen a hero noble in mien and feature.”

“I am a ferdana nevertheless,” answered the stranger, “and if thou dost not forbid me, I will prove it by reciting a poem I have brought for thee.”

“A mountain-top is not the place for poetry,” said Finn; “and moreover, there is now no opportunity either for reciting or listening. For I and these few companions of mine have come to sit here that we may view the chase, and listen to the eager shouts of the men, and the sweet cry of the hounds.

“But if you are, as you say,” continued Finn, “a ferdana, remain here with us till the chase is ended; and then you shall come with me to one of our palaces, where I shall listen to your poem, and bestow on you such gifts as are meet for a poet of your rank.”

But the strange champion answered, “It is not my wish to go to your palace; and I now put you under gesa [solemn vow], which true heroes do not decline, that you listen to my poem, and that you find out and explain its meaning.”

“Well then,” said Finn, “let there be no further delay; repeat your poem.” So the hero recited a verse that began—

I saw a house by a river’s shore,
Famed through Erin in days of yore,

“I can explain that poem,” said Finn. “The mansion you saw is Bruga of the Boyne, the palace of Angus, son of the Dagda, which is open to all who wish to partake of its feasts and its enjoyments. It cannot be burned by fire, or drowned by water, or spoiled by robbers, on account of the great power of its lord and master; for there is not now, and there never was, and there never shall be, in Erin, a man more skilled in magic arts than Angus of the Bruga.”

“That is the sense of my poem,” said the stranger; “and now listen to this other, and explain it to me if thou canst.” It began—

I saw to the south a bright-faced queen,
With couch of crystal and robe of green;

“I understand the sense of that poem also,” said Finn. “The queen you saw is the river Boyne, which flows by the south side of the palace of Bruga. Her couch of crystal is the sandy bed of the river; and her robe of green the grassy plain of Bregia, through which it flows. Her children, which you can see through her skin, are the speckled salmon, the lively, pretty trout, and all the other fish that swim in the clear water of the river. The river flows slowly indeed; but its waters traverse the whole world in seven years, which is more than the swiftest steed can do.”

“These are my poems,” said the champion; “and thou hast truly explained their meaning.”

“And now,” said Finn, “as I have listened to thy poetry and explained it, tell us, I pray thee, who thou art and whence thou hast come; for I marvel much that so noble a champion should live in any of the five provinces of Erin without being known to me and my companions.”

Then Conan Mail spoke. “Thou art, O king, the wisest and most far-seeing of the Fena, and thou hast unravelled and explained the hard poetical puzzles of this champion. Yet, on the present occasion, thou knowest not a friend from a foe; for this man is Midac, whom thou didst bring up with much honour in thine own house, and afterwards made rich, but who is now thy bitter enemy, and the enemy of all the Fena. Here he has lived for fourteen years, without fellowship or communication with his former companions. And though he is enrolled in the order of the Fena, he has never, during all that time, invited thee to a banquet, or come to see any of his old friends, or given food or entertainment to any of the Fena, either master or man.”

Midac answered, “If Finn and the Fena have not feasted with me, that is none of my fault; for my house has never been without a banquet fit for either king or chief; but you never came to partake of it. I did not, indeed, send you an invitation; but that you should not have waited for, seeing that I was one of the Fena, and that I was brought up in your own household. Howbeit, let that pass. I have now a feast ready, in all respects worthy of a king; and I put you under gesa that you and the chiefs that are here with you, come this night to partake of it. I have two palaces, and in each there is a banquet. One is the Palace of the Island, which stands on the sea; and the other is the Palace of the Quicken Trees, which is a little way off from this hill; and it is to this that I wish you to come.”

Finn consented; and Midac, after he had pointed out the way to the Palace of the Quicken Trees, left them, saying he would go before, that he might have things in readiness when they should arrive.


Finn now held council with his companions, and they agreed that the king’s son, Oisin, and five other chiefs, with their followers, should tarry on the hill till the hunting party returned, while Finn went to the palace with the rest.

And it was arranged that Finn should send back word immediately to the party on the hill, how he fared; and that Oisin and the others were to follow him to the palace when the hunting party had returned.

Those that remained with Oisin were Dermat O’Dyna; Fatha Conan, the son of the son of Conn; Kylta Mac Ronan; Ficna, the son of Finn; and Innsa, the son of Swena Selga.

And of those who went with Finn to the Palace of the Quicken Trees, the chief were Gaul Mac Morna; Dathkeen the Strong-limbed; Mac Luga of the Red Hand; Glas Mac Encarda from Beara; the two sons of Aed the Lesser, son of Finn; Racad and Dalgus, the two kings of Leinster; Angus Mac Bresal Bola; and the two leaders of the Connaught Fena, namely, Macna-Corra and Corr the Swift-footed.

As Finn and his party came nigh to the palace, they were amazed at its size and splendour; and they wondered greatly that they had never seen it before. It stood on a level green, which was surrounded by a light plantation of quicken trees, all covered with clusters of scarlet berries. At one side of the little plain, very near the palace, was a broad river, with a rocky bank at the near side, and a steep pathway leading down to a ford.

But what surprised them most was that all was lonely and silent—not a living soul could they see in any direction; and Finn, fearing some foul play, would have turned back, only that he bethought him of his gesa and his promise. The great door was wide open, and Conan went in before the others; and after viewing the banqueting hall, he came out quite enraptured with what he had seen. He praised the beauty and perfect arrangement of everything, and told his companions that no other king or chief in all Erin had a banqueting hall to match the hall of Midac, the son of Colga. They all now entered, but they found no one—neither host nor guests nor attendants.

As they gazed around, they thought they had never seen a banquet hall so splendid. A great fire burned brightly in the middle, without any smoke, and sent forth a sweet perfume, which filled the whole room with fragrance, and cheered and delighted the heroes. Couches were placed all round, with rich coverlets and rugs, and soft, glossy furs. The curved walls were of wood, close-jointed and polished like ivory; and each board was painted differently from those above and below; so that the sides of the room, from floor to roof, were all radiant with a wonderful variety of colours.

Still seeing no one, they seated themselves on the couches and rugs. Presently a door opened, and Midac walked into the room. He stood for a few moments before the heroes, and looked at them one after another, but never spoke one word; then, turning round, he went out and shut the great door behind him.

Finn and his friends were much surprised at this; however, they said nothing, but remained resting as they were for some time, expecting Midac’s return. Still no one came, and at length Finn spoke—

“We have been invited here, my friends, to a banquet; and it seems to me very strange that we should be left so long without attendance, and without either food or drink. Perhaps, indeed, Midac’s attendants have made some mistake, and that the feast intended for this palace has been prepared in the Palace of the Island. But I wonder greatly that such a thing should have happened.”

“I see something more wonderful than that,” said Gaul Mac Morna; “for lo, the fire, which was clear and smokeless when we first saw it, and which smelled more sweetly than the flowers of the plain, now fills the hall with a foul stench, and sends up a great cloud of black, sooty smoke!”

“I see something more wonderful than that,” said Glas Mac Encarda; “for the boards in the walls of this banquet hall, which were smooth and close-jointed and glorious all over with bright colours when we came, are now nothing but rough planks, clumsily fastened together with tough quicken tree withes, and as rude and unshapen as if they had been hacked and hewed with a blunt axe!”

I see something more wonderful than that,” said Foilan, the son of Aed the Lesser; “for this palace, which had seven great doors when we came in, all wide open, and looking pleasantly towards the sunshine, has now only one small, narrow door, close fastened, and facing straight to the north!”

“I see something more wonderful than that,” said Conan Mail; “for the rich rugs and furs and the soft couches, which were under us when we sat here first, are all gone, not as much as a fragment or a thread remaining; and we are now sitting on the bare, damp earth, which feels as cold as the snow of one night!”

Then Finn again spoke. “You know, my friends, that I never tarry in a house having only one door. Let one of you then, arise, and break open that narrow door, so that we may go forth from this foul, smoky den!”

“That shall be done,” cried Conan; and, so saying, he seized his long spear, and, planting it on the floor, point downwards, he attempted to spring to his feet. But he found that he was not able to move, and turning to his companions, he cried out with a groan of anguish—

“Alas, my friends! I see now something more wonderful than all; for I am firmly fixed by some druidical spell to the cold clay floor of the Palace of the Quicken Trees!”

And immediately all the others found themselves, in like manner, fixed where they sat. And they were silent for a time, being quite confounded and overwhelmed with fear and anguish.

At length Gaul spoke, and said, “It seems clear, O king, that Midac has planned this treachery, and that danger lies before us. I wish, then, that you would place your thumb under your tooth of knowledge, and let us know the truth; so that we may at once consider as to the best means of escaping from this strait.”

Whereupon Finn placed his thumb under his tooth of knowledge, and mused for a little while. Then suddenly withdrawing his thumb, he sank back in his seat and groaned aloud.

“May it be the will of the gods,” said Gaul, “that it is the pain of thy thumb that has caused thee to utter that groan!”

“Alas! not so,” replied Finn. “I grieve that my death is near, and the death of these dear companions! For fourteen years has Midac, the son of the king of Lochlann, been plotting against us; and now at last he has caught us in this treacherous snare, from which I can see no escape.

“For in the Palace of the Island there is, at this moment, an army of foreigners, whom Midac has brought hither for our destruction. Chief over all is Sinsar of the Battles, from Greece, the Monarch of the World, who has under his command sixteen warlike princes, with many others of lesser note. Next to Sinsar is his son, Borba the Haughty, who commands also a number of fierce and hardy knights.

“There are, besides, the three kings of the Island of the Torrent, large-bodied and bloodthirsty, like three furious dragons, who have never yet yielded to an enemy on the field of battle. It is these who, by their sorcery, have fixed us here; for this cold clay that we sit on is part of the soil of the enchanted Island of the Torrent, which they brought hither, and placed here with foul spells. Moreover, the enchantment that binds us to this floor can never be broken unless the blood of these kings be sprinkled on the clay. And very soon some of Sinsar’s warriors will come over from the Palace of the Island, to slay us all, while we are fixed here helpless, and unable to raise a hand in our own defence.”

Full of alarm and anguish were the heroes when they heard these tidings. And some began to shed bitter tears in silence, and some lamented aloud. But Finn again spoke and said—

“It becomes us not, my friends, being heroes, to weep and wail like women, even though we are in danger of death; for tears and lamentations will avail us nothing. Let us rather sound the Dord-Fian [war cry], sweetly and plaintively, according to our wont, that it may be a comfort to us before we die.”

So they ceased weeping, and, joining all together, they sounded the Dord-Fian in a slow, sad strain.


Now let us speak of Oisin, and the party who tarried with him on the hill of Knockfierna. When he found that his father Finn had not sent back a messenger as he had promised, though the night was now drawing nigh, he began to fear that something was wrong; and he said to his companions—

“I marvel much that we have got no news from the king, how he and his companions have fared in the Palace of the Quicken Trees. It is clear to me that he would have fulfilled his promise to send us word, if he had not been hindered by some unforeseen difficulty. Now, therefore, I wish to know who will go to the palace and bring me back tidings.”

Ficna, the son of Finn, stood forth and offered to go; and Finn’s foster son, Innsa, the son of Swena Selga, said he would go with him.

They both set out at once, and as they travelled with speed, they soon reached the plain on which stood the Palace of the Quicken Trees; and now the night was darkening around them. As they came near to the palace, they marvelled to hear the loud, slow strains of the Dord-Fian; and Innsa exclaimed joyfully—

“Things go well with our friends, seeing that they are amusing themselves with the Dord-Fian!”

But Ficna, who guessed more truly how things really stood, replied—

“It is my opinion, friend, that matters are not so pleasant with them as you think; for it is only in time of trouble or danger that Finn is wont to have the Dord-Fian sounded in a manner so slow and sad.”

While they talked in this wise, it chanced that the Dord-Fian ceased for a little space; and Finn hearing the low hum of conversation outside, asked was that the voice of Ficna. And when Ficna answered, “Yes,” Finn said to him—

“Come not nearer, my son; for this place teems with dangerous spells. We have been decoyed hither by Midac, and we are all held here by the foul sorcery of the three kings of the Island of the Torrent.”

And thereupon Finn told him the whole story of the treachery that had been wrought on them, from beginning to end; and he told him also that nothing could free them but the blood of those three kings sprinkled on the clay.

Then he asked who the second man was whom he had heard conversing with Ficna; and when he was told that it was Innsa, the son of Swena Selga, he addressed Ficna earnestly—

“Fly, my son, from this fatal place! Fly, and save my foster child from the treacherous swords of the foreigners; for they are already on their way hither!”

But Innsa quickly answered, “That I will never do. It would, indeed, be an ungrateful return to a kind foster father, to leave thee now in deadly strait, and seek my own safety.”

And Ficna spoke in a like strain.

Then Finn said, “Be it so, my sons; but a sore trial awaits you. Those who come hither from the Palace of the Island must needs pass the ford under the shadow of these walls. Now this ford is rugged and hard to be crossed; and one good man, standing in the steep, narrow entrance at the hither side, might dispute the passage for a time against many. Go now, and defend this ford; and haply some help may come in time.”

So both went to the ford. And when they had viewed it carefully, Ficna, seeing that one man might defend it for a short time almost as well as two, said to Innsa—

“Stay thou here to guard the ford for a little time, while I go to the Palace of the Island to see how the foreigners might be attacked. Haply, too, I may meet with the party coming hither, and decoy them on some other track.”

And Innsa consented; and Ficna set out straightway for the Palace of the Island.

Now as to the Palace of the Island. When Midac returned in the morning, and told how Finn and his people were held safe in the Palace of the Quicken Trees, the foreigners were in great joy. And they feasted and drank and were merry till evening; when an Irla [earl] of the King of the World spoke in secret to his brother, and said—

“I will go now to the Palace of the Quicken Trees, and I will bring hither the head of Finn the son of Cumal; and I shall gain thereby much renown, and shall be honoured by the King of the World.”

So he went, bringing with him a goodly number of his own knights; and nothing is told of what befell them till they arrived at the brink of the ford under the Palace of the Quicken Trees. Looking across through the darkness, the Irla thought he saw a warrior standing at the other brink; and he called aloud to ask who was there.

And when Innsa answered that he belonged to the household of Finn, the son of Cumal, the Irla said—

“Lo, we are going to the Palace of the Quicken Trees, to bring Finn’s head to the King of the World; and thou shalt come with us and lead us to the door.”

“That, indeed,” replied Innsa, “would be a strange way for a champion to act who has been sent hither by Finn to guard this ford. I will not allow any foe to pass—of that be sure; and I warn you that you come not to my side of the ford!”

At this the Irla said to his knights, “Force the ford: then shall we see if yonder hero can fight as well as he threatens.”

And at the word, they rushed through the water, as many as could find room. But only one or two at a time could attack; and the young champion struck them down right and left as fast as they came up, till the ford became encumbered with their bodies.

And when the conflict had lasted for a long time, and when they found that they could not dislodge him, the few that remained retired across the ford; and Innsa was fain to rest after his long combat.

But the Irla, seeing so many of his knights slain, was mad with wrath; and, snatching up his sword and shield, he attacked Innsa; and they fought a long and bloody fight.

Now the Irla was fresh and strong, while Innsa was weary and sore wounded; and at length the young hero fell in the ford, and the Irla beheaded him, and, exulting in his victory, brought the head away.

Finn and his companions, as they sat in miserable plight in the Palace of the Quicken Trees, heard the clash of arms at the ford, and the shouts and groans of warriors; and after a time all was still again; and they knew not how the fight had ended.

And now the Irla, thinking over the matter, deemed it unsafe to go to the Palace of the Quicken Trees without a larger body of knights; so he returned towards the Palace of the Island, intending to bring Innsa’s head to the King of the World. When he had come within a little distance of the palace, he met Ficna, who was then on his way back to the ford; and seeing that he was coming from the Palace of the Island, he deemed that he was one of the knights of the King of the World.

Ficna spoke to him, and asked whither he had come.

“I come,” replied the Irla, “from the ford of the Palace of the Quicken Trees. There, indeed, on our way to the palace, to slay Finn the son of Cumal, we were met by a young champion, who defended the ford and slew my knights. But he fell at length beneath my sword; and, lo, I have brought his head for a triumph to the King of the World!”

Ficna took the head tenderly, and kissed the cheek thrice, and said, sorrowing—

“Alas, dear youth! only this morning I saw the light of valour in those dim eyes, and the bloom of youth on that faded cheek!”

Then turning wrathfully to the Irla, he asked— “Knowest thou to whom thou hast given the young warrior’s head?”

And the Irla replied, “Hast thou not come from the Palace of the Island, and dost thou not belong to the host of the King of the World?”

“I am not one of his knights,” answered Ficna; “and neither shalt thou be, after this hour!”

Whereupon they drew their swords, and fought where they stood; and the foreign Irla fell by the avenging sword of Ficna, the son of Finn. Ficna beheaded him and returned to the ford, bringing the head, and also the head of Innsa. And when he had come to the ford, he made a grave of green sods on the bank, in which he laid the body and the head of Innsa, sometimes grieving for the youth, and sometimes rejoicing that his death had been avenged.

Then he went on to the Palace of the Quicken Trees, bringing the Irla’s head; and when he had come nigh the door, he called aloud to Finn, who, impatient and full of anxious thoughts, asked—

“Tell us, Ficna, who fought the battle at the ford, and how it has ended.”

“Thine own foster son, Innsa, defended the ford against many foes, whose bodies now encumber the stream.”

“And how is it now with my foster son?” asked Finn.

“He died where he fought,” replied Ficna; “for at the end, when he was weary and sore wounded, the foreign Irla attacked him, and slew him.”

“And thou, my son, didst thou stand by and see my nursling slain?”

“Truly I did not,” answered Ficna. “Would that I had been there, and I would have defended and saved him! And even now he is well avenged; for I met the Irla soon after, and lo, I have brought thee his head. Moreover, I buried thy nursling tenderly in a grave of green sods by the ford.”

And Finn wept and said, “Victory and blessings be with thee, my son! Never were children better than mine. Before I saw them, few were my possessions and small my consideration in Erin; but since they have grown up around me, I have been great and prosperous, till I fell by treachery into this evil plight. And now, Ficna, return and guard the ford, and per-adventure our friends may send help in time.”

So Ficna went and sat on the brink of the ford.


Now at the Palace of the Island, another Irla, whose name was Kironn, brother to him who had been slain by Ficna, spoke to some of his own followers—

“It is long since my brother left for the Palace of the Quicken Trees; I fear me that he and his people have fared ill in their quest. And now I will go to seek for them.”

And he went, bringing a company of knights well armed; and when they had come to the ford, they saw Ficna at the far side. Kironn called out and asked who he was, and asked also who had made such a slaughter in the ford.

Ficna answered, “I am one of the household champions of Finn the son of Cumal, and he has sent me here to guard this ford. As to the slaughter of yonder knights, your question stirs my mind to wrath, and I warn you, if you come to this side of the ford, you will get a reply, not in words, but in deeds.”

Then Kironn and his men rushed through the water, blind with rage, and struck wildly at Ficna. But the young hero watchfully parried their strokes and thrusts; and one after another they fell beneath his blows, till only a single man was left, who ran back with all speed to the Palace of the Island to tell the tale. And Ficna sat down on the brink, covered all over with wounds, and weary from the toil of battle.

When these tidings were brought to the palace, Midac was very wroth, and he said, “These men should not have gone to force the ford without my knowledge; for they were far too few in number, and neither were they bold and hardy enough to meet Finn’s valiant champions. I know these Fena well, and it is not to me a matter of surprise that the Irla and his people fell by them.

“But I will now go with a choice party of my own brave men; and I will cross the ford despite their guards, and slay Finn and all his companions in the Palace of the Quicken Trees.

“Moreover, there is one man among them, namely, Conan Mail, who of all the men of Erin has the largest appetite, and is fondest of choice eating and drinking. To him will I bring savoury food and delicious drink, not, indeed, to delight him with eating and drinking, but that I may torment him with the sight and smell of what he cannot taste.”

So, having got the food, he set out with a chosen band; and when he had arrived at the ford, he saw a warrior at the far side. He asked who he was, and finding that it was Ficna, he spoke guilefully to him.

“Dear art thou to me, Ficna, dearer even than all the rest of Finn’s household; for during the time I lived among the Fena, you never used me ill, or lifted a hand to either man or dog belonging to me.”

But Ficna spurned his smooth words, and replied, “While you lived among the Fena, there was not a man among them that had less to do with you than I. But this I know, that you were treated kindly by all, especially by my father Finn, and you have repaid him by ingratitude and treachery.”

When Midac heard this speech he was filled with wrath, and no longer hiding his evil mind, he ordered Ficna with threats to leave the ford. But Ficna laughed with scorn, and replied—

“The task is easy, friend Midac, to dislodge a single champion; and surely it is a small matter to you whether I stand in this narrow pass or abandon my post. Come forward, then, you and your knights; but here I will remain to receive you. I only regret you did not come sooner, while my blood was hot, and before my wounds grew stiff, when you would have got a better welcome!”

Then Midac ordered forward his knights, and they ran eagerly across the ford. But Ficna overthrew them with a mighty onset, like a hawk among a flight of small birds, or like a wolf among a flock of sheep. When Midac saw this, he buckled on his shield and took his sword. Then, treading warily over the rough rocks, and over the dead bodies of his knights, he confronted Ficna, and they attacked each other with deadly hate and fury.

We shall now speak of those who remained on Knockfierna. When Oisin found that the two heroes did not return as soon as he expected, he thus addressed his companions—

“It seems to me a long time, my friends, since Ficna and Innsa went to the Palace of the Quicken Trees; methinks if they have sped successfully they should have long since come back with tidings of Finn and the others.”

And one of his companions answered, “It is plain that they have gone to partake of the feast, and it fares so well with them that they are in no haste to leave the palace.”

But Dermat O’Dyna of the Bright Face spoke and said, “It may be as you say, friend, but I should like to know the truth of the matter. And now I will go and find out why they tarry, for my mind misgives me that some evil thing has happened.”

And Fatha Conan said he would go with him.

So the two heroes set out for the Palace of the Quicken Trees; and when they were yet a good way off from the ford they heard the clash of arms. They paused for a moment, breathless, to listen, and then Dermat exclaimed—

“It is the sound of single combat, the combat of mighty heroes; it is Ficna fighting with the foreigners, for I know his war-shout. I hear the clash of swords and the groans of warriors; I hear the shrieks of the ravens, and the howls of the wild men of the glens! Hasten, Fatha, hasten, for Ficna is in sore strait, and his shout is a shout for help!”

And so they ran like the wind till they reached the hill-brow over the river; and, looking across in the dim moonlight, they saw the whole ford heaped with the bodies of the slain, and the two heroes fighting to the death at the far side. And at the first glance they observed that Ficna, being sore wounded, was yielding and sheltering behind his shield, and scarce able to ward off the blows of Midac.

Then Fatha cried out, “Fly, Dermat, fly! Save our dear companion! Save the king’s son from death.”

And Dermat, pausing for a moment, said, as if communing with himself—

“This is surely an evil plight: for if I run to the other side, the foreigner, being the more enraged for seeing me, will strike with greater fury, and I may not overtake the prince alive; and if I cast my spear, I may strike the wrong man!”

But Fatha, overhearing him, said, “Fear not, Dermat, for you never yet threw an erring cast of a spear!”

Then Dermat, putting his finger in the silken loop of his spear, threw a deadly cast with unerring aim, and struck Midac, so that the iron spearhead went right through his body, and the length of a warrior’s hand beyond.

“Woe to the man,” exclaimed Midac—“woe to him whom that spear reaches: for it is the spear of Dermat O’Dyna!”

And now his wrath increased, and he struck at Ficna more fiercely than before.

Dermat shouted to him to hold his hand and not slay the king’s son; and as he spoke he rushed down the slope and across the ford, to save the young hero. But Midac, still pressing on with unabated strength and fury, replied—

“Had you wished to save the prince’s life, you should have spared mine: now that I have been wounded to death by your spear, Finn shall never see his son alive!”

Even as he spoke, he raised his sword for a mighty blow; and just as Dermat, shouting earnestly, was closing on them, he struck the prince lifeless to the earth, but fell down himself immediately after.

Dermat came up on the instant, and looked sadly at his friend lying dead. Then, addressing Midac, he said—

“If I had found thee dead, I would have passed thee untouched; but now that I have overtaken thee alive, I must needs behead thee, for thy head will be to Finn a worthy eric [a fine paid as compensation] for his son.”

And so saying, he struck off Midac’s head with one sweep of his heavy sword.

Dermat now repaired to the Palace of the Quicken Trees, leaving Fatha to watch the ford till his return. And when he had come near, he called aloud and struck the door with his heavy spear, for his wrath had not yet left him; but the door yielded not.

Finn knew the voice, and called out impatiently, “Do not try to enter here, Dermat, for this place is full of foul spells. But tell us first, I pray thee, who fought that long and bitter fight; for we heard the clash of arms and the shouts of warriors, but we know nothing more.”

“Thy noble son, Ficna,” returned Dermat, “fought single-handed against the foreigners.”

“And how fares it with my son after that battle?”

“He is dead,” answered Dermat; “first sore wounded by many foes whom he slaughtered, and afterwards slain by Midac, the son of Colga. But thy son is avenged; for though I came to the ford indeed too late to save him, I have slain Midac, and here I have brought thee his head as an eric.”

And for a long time Dermat heard no more.

At last Finn spoke again and said—

“Victory and blessings be with you, Dermat, for often before did you relieve the Fena from sore straits. But never have we been in such plight as this. For here we sit spell-bound, and only one thing can release us, the blood of the three fierce kings of the Island of the Torrent sprinkled on this clay. Meantime, unless the ford be well defended, the foreigners will come and slay us. In you, Dermat, we trust, and unless you aid us well and faithfully now, we shall of a certainty perish. Guard the ford till the rising of the sun, for then I know the Fena will come to aid you.”

“I and Fatha will of a certainty keep the enemy at bay,” replied Dermat; and he bade them farewell for a time, and was about to return to the ford: but Conan Mail, with a groan, said—

“Miserable was the hour when I came to this palace, and cold and comfortless is the clay on which I sit—the clay of the Island of the Torrent. But worst of all to be without food and drink so long. And while I sit here, tormented with hunger and thirst, there is great plenty of ale and wine and of rich, savoury food yonder in the Palace of the Island. I am not able to bear this any longer; and now, Dermat, I beseech you to bring me from the palace as much food as I can eat and a drinking-horn of wine.”

“Cursed be the tongue that spoke these selfish words!” said Dermat. “A host of foreigners are now seeking to compass your death, with only Fatha and myself to defend you. Surely this is work enough for two good men! And now it seems I must abandon my post, and undertake a task of much danger, to get food for the gluttonous Conan Mail!”

“Alas, Dermat-na-man!” replied Conan, “if it were a lovely maiden, with bright eyes and golden hair, who made this little request, quickly and eagerly you would fly to please her, little recking of danger or trouble. But now you refuse me, and the reason is not hard to see. For you formerly crossed me four times in my courtships; and now it likes you well to see me die of hunger in this dungeon!”

“Well, then,” said Dermat, “cease your upbraiding, and I will try to bring you food; for it is better to face danger than suffer the revilings of your foul tongue.”

So saying, he went back to the ford to Fatha, where he stood watching; and after he had told him how matters stood, he said to him—

“I must needs go to the Palace of the Island, to get food for Conan Mail; and you shall guard the ford till I return.”

But Fatha told him that there was food and drink enough at the other side of the ford, which Midac had brought from the palace, and urged him to bring a good meal of this to Conan.

“Not so,” said Dermat. “He would taunt me with bringing him food taken from the hands of dead men; and though one may recover from his blow, it is not so easy to recover from the venom of his tongue.”

So he left Fatha at the ford, and repaired to the Palace of the Island.

As he drew nigh, he heard the noise of feasting and revelry, and the loud talk and laughter of men deep in drink. Walking tiptoe, he peered warily through the open door, and saw the chiefs and the knights sitting at the tables; with Sinsar of the Battles and his son Borba high seated over all. He saw also many attendants serving them with food and drink, each holding in his hand a large ornamented drinking-horn, filled with wine.

Dermat entered the outer door softly, and stood in a dark part of the passage near the door, silent and stern, with sword drawn, watching his opportunity. And after a time one of the attendants, unsuspecting, passed close to him; when Dermat, with a swift, sure blow, struck off his head. And he snatched the drinking-horn from the man’s hand before he fell, so that not a drop of the wine was spilled.

Then, laying the drinking-horn aside for a moment, he walked straight into the hall, and taking up one of the dishes near where the king sat, he went out through the open door, bringing with him both dish and drinking-horn. And amidst the great crowd, and the drinking, and the noise, no one took the least notice of him, so that he got off without hindrance or harm of any kind.

When he reached the ford, he found Fatha lying fast asleep on the bank. He wondered very much that he could sleep in the midst of such a slaughter; but knowing that the young warrior was worn out with watching and toil, he left him lying asleep, and went to the Palace of the Quicken Trees with the food for Conan.

When he had come to the door, he called aloud to Conan and said—

“I have here a goodly meal of choice food: how am I to give it to thee?”

Conan said, “Throw it towards me through yonder little opening.”

Dermat did so; and as fast as he threw the food, Conan caught it in his large hands, and ate it up ravenously. And when it was all gone, Dermat said—

“I have here a large drinking-horn of good wine: how am I to give it to thee?”

Conan answered, “There is a place behind the palace where, from a rock, you may reach the lower parapet with a light, airy bound. Come from that straight over me, and break a hole in the roof with your spear, through which you can pour the wine down to me.”

Dermat did so; and as he poured down the wine, Conan, with upturned face, opened his great mouth and caught it, and swallowed it every drop.

After this Dermat came down and returned to the ford, where he found Fatha still asleep; and he sat beside him, but did not awaken him.


Tidings were brought to the Palace of the Island that Midac and all whom he led were slain at the ford; and the three kings of the Island of the Torrent said—

“The young king of Lochlann did wrong to make this attempt without asking our counsel; and had we known of the thing we would have hindered him. For to us belongs the right to behead Finn and his companions, since it is the spell-venom of the clay which we brought from the Island of the Torrent that holds them bound in the Palace of the Quicken Trees. And now, indeed, we will go and slay them all.”

So they set out with a strong party, and soon reached the ford. Looking across in the dim light, they saw Dermat, and called aloud to ask who he was.

“I am Dermat O’Dyna,” he replied, “one of Finn’s champions. He has sent me to guard this ford, and whoever you are, I warn you not to cross!”

Then they sought to beguile Dermat, and to win him over by smooth words; and they replied—

“It is a pleasure to us to meet you, Dermat; for we are old friends of yours. We are the three kings of the Island of the Torrent, your fellow-pupils in valour and all heroic feats. For you and we lived with the same tutors from the beginning; and you never learned a feat of arms that we did not learn in like manner. Leave the ford, then, that we may pass on to the Palace of the Quicken Trees.”

But Dermat answered in few words, “Finn and his companions are under my protection till morning; and I will defend the ford as long as I am alive!”

And he stood up straight and tall like a pillar, and scowled across the ford.

A number of the foreigners now rushed towards Dermat, and raging in a confused crowd, assailed him. But the strong hero met them as a rock meets the waves, and slew them with ease as they came within the range of his sword. Yet still they pressed on, others succeeding those that fell; and in the midst of the rage of battle, Fatha started up from his sleep, awakened by the crashing of weapons and the riving of shields.

He gazed for a moment, bewildered, at the combatants, and, seeing how matters stood, he was wroth with Dermat for not awakening him; so that he ran at him fiercely with drawn sword. But Dermat stepped aside, and, being angry, thus addressed him—

“Slake thy vengeance on our foes for the present: for me, the swords of the foreigners are enough, methinks, without thine to aid them!”

Then Fatha turned and attacked the foe, and his onset was even more deadly than that of Dermat; so that they fell before him to the right and left on the ford.

And now at last the three kings, seeing so many of their men falling, advanced slowly towards Dermat; and Dermat, unterrified, stood in his place to meet them. And their weapons clashed and tore through their shields, and the fight was long and furious; till at last the champion-pride and the battle-fury of Dermat arose, so that the three dragon-like kings fell slain one by one before him, on that ford of red slaughter.

And now, though smarting with wounds, and breathless, and weary, Dermat and Fatha remembered Finn and the Fena; and Dermat called to mind what Finn had told him as to how the spell was to be broken. So he struck off the heads of the three kings, and, followed by Fatha, he ran with them, all gory as they were, to the Palace of the Quicken Trees.

As they drew nigh to the door, Finn, knowing their voices and their footsteps, called aloud anxiously to ask how it fared with the combatants at the ford; “For,” said he, “the crashing and the din of that battle exceeded all we have yet heard, and we know not how it has ended.”

Dermat answered, “King of the Fena, Fatha and I have slain the three kings of the Island of the Torrent; and lo, here we have their heads all bloody; but how am I to bring them to thee?”

“Victory and blessings be with you, Dermat; you and Fatha have fought a valiant fight, worthy of the Fena of Erin! Now sprinkle the door with the blood.”

Dermat did so, and in a moment the door flew wide open with a crash. And inside they saw the heroes in sore plight, all pale and faint, seated on the cold clay round the wall. Dermat and Fatha, holding the gory heads by the hair, sprinkled the earth under each with the blood, beginning with Finn, and freed them one by one; and the heroes, as they found the spell broken, sprang to their feet with exulting cries. And they thanked the gods for having relieved them from that perilous strait, and they and the two heroes joyfully embraced each other.

But danger still threatened, and they now took counsel what they should do; and Finn, addressing Dermat and Fatha, said—

“The venom of these foul spells has withered our strength, so that we are not able to fight; but at sunrise they will lose their power, and we shall be strong again. It is necessary, therefore, that you still guard the ford, and at the rising of the sun we shall relieve you.”

So the two heroes went to the ford, and Fatha returned with food and drink for Finn and the others.

After the last battle at the ford, a few who had escaped brought back tidings to the King of the World and his people, that the three kings of the Island of the Torrent had fallen by the hands of Dermat and Fatha. But they knew not that Finn and the others had been released.

Then arose the king’s son, Borba the Haughty, who, next to the king himself, was mightiest in battle of all the foreign host. And he said—

“Feeble warriors were they who tried to cross this ford. I will go now and avenge the death of our people on these Fena, and I will bring hither the head of Finn the son of Cumal, and place it at my father’s feet.”

So he marched forth without delay, with a large body of chosen warriors, till he reached the edge of the ford. And although Dermat and Fatha never trembled before a foe, yet when they saw the dark mass drawing nigh, and heard the heavy tread and clank of arms, they dreaded that they might be dislodged and overpowered by repeated attacks, leaving Finn and the rest helpless and unprotected. And each in his heart longed for the dawn of morning.

No parley was held this time, but the foreigners came straight across the ford—as many abreast as could find footing. And as they drew near, Dermat spoke to Fatha—

“Fight warily, my friend: ward the blows of the foremost, and be not too eager to slay, but rather look to thy own safety. It behoves us to nurse our strength and prolong the fight, for the day is dawning, and sunrise is not far off!”

The foreigners came on, many abreast; but their numbers availed them naught, for the pass was narrow; and the two heroes, one taking the advancing party to the right, and the other to the left, sometimes parried and sometimes slew, but never yielded an inch from where they stood.

And now at last the sun rose up over the broad plain of Kenri; and suddenly the withering spell went forth from the bones and sinews of the heroes who sat at the Palace of the Quicken Trees, listening with anxious hearts to the clash of battle at the ford. Joyfully they started to their feet, and, snatching up their arms, hastened down to the ford with Finn at their head; but one they sent, the swiftest among them, to Knockfierna, to take the news to Oisin.

Dermat and Fatha, fighting eagerly, heeded not that the sun had risen, though it was now indeed glittering before their eyes on the helmets and arms of their foes. But as they fought, there rose a great shout behind them; and Finn and Gaul and the rest ran down the slope to attack the foreigners.

The foreigners, not in the least dismayed, answered the attack; and the fight went on, till Gaul Mac Morna and Borba the Haughty met face to face in the middle of the ford, and they fought a hard and deadly combat. The battle-fury of Gaul at length arose, so that nothing could stand before him, and, with one mighty blow, he cleft the head from the body of Borba.

And now the foreigners began to yield: but they still continued to fight, till a swift messenger sped to the Palace of the Island, and told the great king, Sinsar of the Battles, that his son was dead, slain by Gaul; and that his army was sore pressed by the Fena, with Finn at their head.

When the people heard these tidings, they raised a long and sorrowful cry of lamentation for the king’s son; but the king himself, though sorrow filled his heart, showed it not. And he arose and summoned his whole host; and, having arranged them in their battalions and in their companies under their princes and chiefs, he marched towards the battle-field, desiring vengeance on the Fena more than the glory of victory.


All the Fena who had gone to the chase from Knocktierna had returned, and were now with Oisin, the son of Finn. And the messenger came slowly up the hillside, and told them, though with much difficulty, for he was weary and breathless, the whole story from beginning to end, of Finn’s enchantment, and of the battles at the ford, and how their companions at that moment stood much in need of aid against the foreigners.

Instantly the whole body marched straight towards the Palace of the Quicken Trees, and arrived on the hill-brow over the ford, just as the King of the World and his army were approaching from the opposite direction.

And now the fight at the ford ceased for a time, while the two armies were put in battle array; and on neither side was there any cowardice or any desire to avoid the combat.

The Fena were divided into four battalions. The active, bright-eyed Clann Baskin marched in front of the first battalion; the fierce, championlike Clann Morna led the second; the strong, sanguinary Mic-an-Smoil brought up the third; and the fourth was led forward by the fearless, venomous Clann O’Navnan.

And they marched forward, with their silken banners, each banner-staff in the hand of a tall, trusty hero; their helmets glittering with precious gems; their broad, beautiful shields on their left shoulders; with their long, straight, deadly lances in their hands; and their heavy, keen-edged swords hanging at the left side of each. Onward they marched; and woe to those who crossed the path of that host of active, high-minded champions, who never turned their backs on an enemy in battle!

And now at last the fight began with showers of light, venomous missiles; and many a hero fell even before the combatants met face to face. Then they drew their long, broad-bladed swords, and the ranks closed and mingled in deadly strife. It would be vain to attempt a description of that battle, for it was hard to distinguish friend from foe. Many a high-souled hero fell wounded and helpless, and neither sigh nor groan of pain escaped them; but they died, encouraging their friends to vengeance with voice and gesture. And the first thought of each champion was to take the life of his foe rather than to save his own.

The great king Finn himself moved tall and stately from battalion to battalion, now fighting in the foremost ranks, and now encouraging his friends and companions, his mighty voice rising clear over the clash of arms and the shouts of the combatants. And wherever he moved, there the courage of the Fena rose high, and their valour and their daring increased, so that the ranks of their foes fell back thinned and scattered before them.

Oscar, resting for a moment from the toil of battle, looked round, and espied the standard of the King of the World, where he stood guarded by his best warriors, to protect him from the danger of being surrounded and outnumbered by his foes; and the young hero’s wrath was kindled when he observed that the Fena were falling back dismayed wherever that standard was borne.

Rushing through the opposing ranks like a lion maddened by dogs, he approached the king; and the king laughed a grim laugh of joy when he saw him, and ordered his guards back; for he was glad in his heart, expecting to revenge his son’s death by slaying with his own hand Finn’s grandson, who was most loved of all the youthful champions of the Fena. Then these two great heroes fought a deadly battle; and many a warrior stayed his hand to witness this combat. It seemed as if both should fall; for each inflicted on the other many wounds. The king’s rage knew no bounds at being so long withstood, for at first sight he despised Oscar for his youth and beauty; and he made an onset that caused Oscar’s friends, as they looked on, to tremble; for during this attack the young hero defended himself, and no more. But now, having yielded for a time, he called to mind the actions and the fame of his forefathers, and attacked the king in turn, and, with a blow that no shield or buckler could withstand, he swept the head from the king’s body.

Then a great shout went up from the Fena, and the foreigners instantly gave way; and they were pursued and slaughtered on every side. A few threw away their arms and escaped to the shore, where, hastily unmooring their ships, they sailed swiftly away to their own country, with tidings of the death of their king and the slaughter of their army.

The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Legend has it that these unusual basalt structures were built by Finn MacCool as a pathway to Scotland.

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