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VII. The Tale of Connal, pp.147-152.

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As told by by Kenneth Maclennan, June 1859, to Hector Urquhart, Turnaig, Pool Ewe, Ross-shire.

THERE was a king over Eirinn once, who was named King Cruachan, and he had a son who was called Connal MacRigh Cruachan. The mother of Connal died, and his father married another woman. She was for finishing Connal, so that the kingdom might belong to her own posterity. He had a foster mother, and it was in the house of his foster mother that he made his home. He and his eldest brother were right fond of each other; and the mother was vexed because Connal was so fond of her big son. There was a bishop in the place, and he died; and he desired that his gold and silver should be placed along with him in the grave. Connal was at the bishop’s burying, and he saw a great bag of gold being placed at the bishop’s head, and a bag of silver at his feet, in the grave. Connal said to his five foster brothers, that they woudl go in search of the bishop’s gold; and when they reached the grave, Connal asked them which they would rather; go down into the grave, or hold up the flagstone. They said that they would hold up the flag. Connal went down; and whatever the squealing was that they heard, they let go the flag and they took to their soles home. Here he was, in the grave on top of the bishop. When the five of foster brothers reached the house, their mother was somewhat more sorrowful for Connal than she would have been for the five. At the end of seven mornings, there wwent a company of young lads to take the gold out of the bishop’s grave, and when they reached the grave they threw the flag to the side of the further wall; COnnal stirred below, and when he stirred they went, and they left each arm and dress they had. Connal arose, and he took with him the gold, and arms and dress, and he reached his foster mother with them. They were all merry and lighthearted as long as the gold and silver lasted.

There was a great giant near the place, who had a great deal of gold and silver in the foot of a rock; and he was promising a bag of gold to any being that would go down in a creel. Many were lost in this way; when the giant would let them down, and they would fill the creel, the giant would not let down the creel more till they died in the hole.

On a day of days, Connal met with thegiant, and he promised him a bag of gold, for that he should go down in the hole to fill a creel with the gold. Connal went down, and the giant was letting him down with a rope; Connal filled the giant’s creel with the gold, but the giant did not let down the creel to fetch Connal, and Connal was in the cave amongst the dead men and the gold.

When it beat the giant to get another man who would go down in the hole, he sent his own son down into the hole, and the sword of light in his lap, so that he might see before him.

When the young giant reached the ground of the cave, and when Connal saw him he caught the sword of light, and he took off the head of the young giant.

Then Connal put gold in the bottom of the creel, and he put gold over him; and then he hid in the midst of the creel, and he gave a pull at the rope. The giant drew the creel, and when he did not see his son, he threw the creel over the top of his head. Connal leaped out of the creel, and the black back of the giant’s head (being) towards him, he laid a swift hand on the sword of light, and he took the head off the giant. Then he betook himself to his foster mother’s house with the creel of gold and the giant’s sword of light.

After this he went one day to hunt on Sliamh na leirge. He was going forwards till he went into a great cave. He saw, at the upper part of the cave, a fine fair woman, who was thrusting the flesh stake at a big lump of a baby; and every thrust she would give the spit, the babe would give a laugh, and she would begin to weep. Connal spoke, and he said, –

“Woman, what ails thee at the child without reason?”

(De fath do bhròin, a bhean, ris an òganach gun chiall.)

“Oh,” said she, “since thou art an able man thyself, kill the baby and set it on this stake, till I roast it for the giant.”

(O! bho ‘n is duine tapaidh thu fhéin, marbh an leanabh, ‘s cuir air a bhior so e, gus an ròist mi e do ‘n fhamhair.)

He caught hold of the baby, and he put a plaid that he had on about the babe, and he hid the baby at the side of the cave.

There were a great many dead bodies at the side of the cave, and he set one of them on the stake, and the woman was roasting it.

Then was heard under ground trembling and thunder coming, and he would rather that he was out. Here he sprang in the place of the corpse that was at the fire, in the very midst of the bodies. The giant came, and he asked,

“Was the roast ready?”

(‘N robh ròsta bruich.)

He began to eat, and he said,

“Fiu fau hoagrich; it’s no wonder that thy own flesh is tough; it is tough on thy brat.”

(Fiu fou! hoagrich! cha ‘n ioghnadh feòil righinn a bhi ort fhéin, ‘s righinn air d’isean i.)

When the giant had eaten that one, he went to count the bodies; and the way he had of counting them was, to catch hold of them by the two smalls of the leg, and to toss them past the top of his head; and he counted them back and forwards thsu three or four times; and as he found Connal somewhat heavier, and that he was soft and fat, he took that silce out of him from the back of his head to his groin. He roasted this at the fire, and he ate it, and then he fell asleep. Connal winked to the woman to set the flesh stake at the fire. She did this, and when the spit grew white after it was red, he thrust the spit through the giant’s heart, and the giant was dead.

Then Connal went and he set the woman on her path homewards, and then he went home himself. His stepmother sent him and her own son to steal the whitefaced horse from the King of Italy, “Eadailt;” and they went together to steal the whitefaced horse, and every time they would lay hand on him, the whitefaced horse would let out an ialt (neigh?). A “company” came out, and they were caught. The binding of the three smalls was laid on them straitly and painfully.

“Thou big red man,” said the king, “wert thou ever in so hard a case as that?”

(Fhir mhòr ruaidh, ‘n robh thu ‘n càs riamh cho cruaidh an sin?)

“A little tightening for me, and a loosening for my comrade, and I will tell thee that,” said Connal.

(Teannachadh beag dhomh fhéin, agus lasachadh do m’ chompanach ‘s innsidh mi sin.)

The Queen of the Eadailt was beholding Connal.

Then Connal said:-

“Seven morns so sadly mine,
 As I dwelt on the bishop’s top,
 That visit was longest for me,
 Though I was the strongest myself.
 At the end of the seventh morn
 An opening grave was seen,
 And I would be up before
 The one that was soonest down.
 They thought I was a dead man,
 As I rose from the mould of earth ;
 At the first of the harsh bursting
 They left their arms and their dresses.
 I gave the leap of the nimble one,
 As I was naked and bare.
 ‘Twas sad for me, a vagabond,
 To enjoy the bishop’s gold.”
(Seachd tràth gu bronach dhomh,
 ‘S mi chomhnuidh air muin an easbuig.
 ‘Sann leamsa ‘b’ fhad’ a’ chéilidh sin,
 Ged ‘sann leam fhéin bu treise.
 An ceann na seachdamh tràth,
 Chunnacas uaigh ‘ga fosgladh,
 ‘S ge b’e be luaithe bhiodh a nuas aca,
 ‘S mise a bhiodh suas air thoiseach.
 Shaoil leosan gu ‘m bu mharbhan mi,
 Bho ‘n uir thalmhaidh ‘s mi ‘g éiridh,
 Ann an toiseach a gharbh-bhristidh,
Dh’ fhag iad an airm ‘s an eudach,
 Thug mise leum an Uisleagan,
 ‘Smi ruisgte, nochdta,
 Bu bhochd dhomhsa ‘s mi ‘m fhògarrach,
 Bhi maitheadh òr do ‘n Easbuig.)

“Tighten well, and right well,” said the king; “it was not in one good place that he ever was; great is the ill he has done.”

(Teannaichibh e gu maith ‘s gu ro mhaith, cha b’ ann an aon àite maith a bha e riamh, ‘s mòr an t’olc a rinn e.)

Then he was tightened somewhat tighter, and somewhat tighter; and the king said,

“Thou great red man, wert thou ever in a harder case than that?”

(Fhir mhòir ruaidh, ‘n robh thu ‘n càs riamh bu chruaidh na sin.)

“Tighten myself, and let a little slack with this one beside me, and I will tell thee that.”

(Teannaich mi fhéin, ‘s leig lasachadh do ‘n ‘fhear so laimh rium, ‘s innsidh mi ‘n sin.)

They did that.

“I was,” said he,

(Bha mise)
“Nine morns in the cave of gold;
 My meat was the body of bones,
 Sinews of feet and hands.
 At the end of the ninth morn
 A descending creel was seen;
 Then I caught hold on the creel,
 And laid gold above and below;
 I made my hiding within the creel;
 I took with me the glaive of light,
 The luckiest turn that I did.”
(Naoi tràtha ann an uaimh an òir,
 ‘Se bu bhiadh domh a’ cholainn chnàmh,
 Feithean chas agus làmh.
 An ceann an naoidheadh tràth,
 Chunnacas cliabh a’ tighinn a mhàn;
 Rug mi ‘n sin air a’ chliabh’
 ‘S chuir mi òr fotham ‘s òr tharam,
 ‘S rinn mi ‘m fholach ann sa ‘chliabh,
 ‘S thug mi leam an claidheamh soluis
 Tùrn is sona rinn mi riamh.)

They gave him the next tightening, and the king asked him,

“Wert thou ever in case, or extremity, as hard as that?”

(An robh thu ‘n càs na h-eiginn riamh cho chruaidh ‘sin?)

“A little tightening for myself, and a slack for my comrade, and I will tell thee that.”

(Teannachadh beag dhomh fhéin, ‘s lasachadh do m’ chompanach, ‘s innsidh mi ‘n sin.)

They did this.

“On a day on Sliabh na leirge,
 As I went into a cave,
 I saw a smooth, fair, mother-eyed wife,
 Thrusting the stake for the flesh
 At a young unreasoning child. ‘Then,’ said I,
‘What causes thy grief, oh wife,
 At that unreasoning child?’
‘Though he’s tender and comely,’ said she,
‘Set this baby at the fire.’
 Then I caught hold on the boy,
 And wrapped my ‘maundal’ around;
 Then I brought up the great big corpse
 That was up in the front of the heap;
 Then I heard, Turstar, Tarstar, and Turaraich,
 The very earth mingling together;
 But when it was his to be fallen
 Into the soundest of sleep,
 There fell, by myself, the forest fiend;
 I drew back the stake of the roast,
 And I thrust it into his maw.”
(Latha air sliabh na leirge dhomh
 ‘S mi dol a steach do dh’ uamh,
 Chunnaic mi bean mhìn, bhan, mhathair-shuileach
 ‘Si putadh bior na feòla
 Ri òganach, ‘se gun chiall.
 Thubhairt mìse an sin,
 De fàth do bhròin, a bhean,
 Ris an òganach ‘s nach eil ceillidh,
 ‘Oir a mhin oir a mhaise,’ ars’ ise
 ‘Cuir an leanabh so ri teallach’
 Rug mi ‘n sin air a mhacan
 ‘S shuain mi mo mhanndal uime
 ‘S thug mi nios an rod mòr colainn
 A bha shuas an tùs na tuime
 Chuala mi ‘n sin, turtar, tartar, agus turaraich
 Fior thalamh dol am measg a cheile
 Ach air bhith dhàsan tuiteam
 Anns an t’suain chadail
 ‘S an do thuit fuathan na coille
 Thus mi tarruing air bior an ròstaidh
 ‘S sheòl mi sud ri còrr a ghoile.)

There was the Queen, and she was listening to each thing that Connal suffered and said; and when she heard this, she sprang and cut each binding that was on Connal and on his comrade: and she said,

“I am the woman that was there;” and to the king, “thou art the son that was yonder.”

(‘S mise ‘m boirionnach a bha ‘n sin, agus ris an righ ‘s tusa a mac a bha ‘n siud.)

Connal married the king’s daughter, and together they rode the whitefaced horse home; and there I left them.

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