went to a gathering one time at Aonach Clochair, and a great many of the men
of Munster crowded to it. And the horses of the Fianna
were brought there, and the horses of the men of Munster, and they ran races
against one another.
And Fiachu, son of Eoghan, was in it; and
when the games were over he gave good presents to Finn, a lasting black horse
that won the three prizes of the gathering, and a chariot, and a horse for the
chariot-driver, and a spear, having a deadly spell, and weapons of silver, and
three comely hounds, Feirne and Derchaem and Dialath, having collars of yellow
gold and chains of white bronze.
And Finn rose up and gave his thanks to
Fiachu, son of Eoghan, and he and his people set out to the house of Cacher at
Cluain-da-loch. And they stopped three days feasting in Cacher’s house, and
then Finn gave him the price of his feast and of his ale, fifty rings, and
fifty horses and fifty cows.
And he himself and the Fianna went on from
that over Luachair to the strand at Berramain. And Finn went trying his black
horse on the strand, and Caoilte and Oisin went racing against him; but it was
only folly for them to do that, for he gave a blow to his horse, and away with
him to Traigh Liath and over the Plain of Health to the Old Yew of the Old
Valley, and to the inver of the Flesc and the inver of the Lemain to Loch
Lein, till he came to the hill of Bairnech, and Caoilte
"Night is coming on us," said
Finn then; "and go look for some place where we can sleep," he said.
He looked round then at the rocks on his left hand and he saw a house, and a
fire shining out from it in the valley below. "I never knew of a house in
this valley," he said.
"It is best for us to go see
it," said Caoilte, "for there are many things we have no knowledge
The three went on then to the house, and
they heard screams and dying from it; and when they came to the house, the
people of it were very fierce and rough; and a big grey man took hold of their
horses and brought them in and shut the door of the house with iron hooks.
"My welcome to you, Finn of the great name," he said then; "it
is a long time you were in coming here."
They sat down then on the hard boards of a
bed, and the grey man kindled a fire, and he threw logs of elderwood on it,
till they went near being smothered with the smoke. They saw a hag in the
house then having three heads on her lean neck; and there was on the other
side a man without a head, having one eye, and it in his breast. "Rise
up, you that are in the house, and make music for the King of the
Fianna," said the grey man then.
With that nine bodies rose up out of the
corner nearest the Fianna, and nine heads rose up on the other side of the
bed, and they raised nine harsh screeches together, that no one would like to
be listening to. And then the hag answered to them, and the headless man
answered; and if all of that music was harsh, there was none of it that you
would not wish to hear sooner than the music of the one-eyed man. And the
music that was sung went near to breaking the bones of their heads; and indeed
it is no sweet music that was.
Then the big grey man rose up and took the
axe that was for cutting logs, and he began striking at the horses, flaying
and destroying them. Then there were brought fifty pointed spits of the rowan-tree, and he put a piece of the horse’s flesh on each one of the
spits, and settled them on the hearth. But when he took the spits from the
fire and put them before Finn, it is raw the flesh was on them yet. "Take
your food away," said Finn then, "for I have never eaten meat that
was raw, and I never will eat it because of being without food for one
day." "If you are come into our house to refuse our food," said
the grey man, "we will surely go against yourselves, Finn and Caoilte and
With that all in the house made an attack
on the three; and they were driven back into the corner, and the fire was
quenched, and the fight went on through the whole night in the darkness, and
but for Finn and the way he fought, they would have been put down.
And when the sun rose and lighted up the
house on the morrow, a mist came into the head of each of the three, so
that they fell as if dead on the floor.
But after a while they rose up again, and
there was nothing to be seen of the house or of the people of the house, but
they had all vanished. And their horses were there and they took them and went
on, very weak and tired, for a long way, till they came to the strand of
And those three that fought against them
were the three Shapes out of the Valley of the Yew Tree that came to avenge
their sister, Cuillen of the Wide Mouth.
Now as to Cuillen, she was a daughter of
the King of Munster, and her husband was the King of Ulster’s son. And they
had a son that was called Fear Og, the Young Man; and there was hardly in
Ireland a man so good as himself in shape and in courage and in casting a
spear. And one time he joined in a game with the Fianna, and he did better
than them all, and Finn gave him a great reward.
And after that he went out to a hunt they
made, and it was by him and by none of the Fianna the first blood was got of
pig or of deer. And when they came back, a heavy sickness fell on the young
man through the eyes and the envy of the Fianna, and it left him without life
at the end of nine days. And he was buried under a green hill, and the shining
stone he used to hold in his hand, and he doing his feats, was put over his
And his mother, Cuillen, came to his grave
keening him every day through the length of a year. And one day she died there
for grief after her son, and they put her into the same green hill.
But as to Finn, he was afraid of no
earthly thing, and he killed many great serpents in Loch Cuillinn and Loch
Neathach, and at Beinn Edair; and Shadow-Shapes at Loch Lein and Drom Cleib
and Loch Liath, and a serpent and a cat in Ath Cliath.