Stories, Myths & Legends

How the Fianna Won their horses 

The Fianna were renowned horse riders and used their wonderful steeds to traverse the country.  Therefore they were always able to be at the site of any battle or at a pass to be kept against invasion before any enemy could prepare against them.  It was not always like that for in the early days the Fianna used to hunt on foot or ride small hill ponies or even run on foot all day to get where they were needed.

One time Fionn was entertaining the son of the King of Britain and his twenty-seven men, and they all went hunting together.  Fionn sat on the hill Cnoc Fianna to cheer on his hounds for he loved nothing better than to hear the sounds of the hunt.  The son of the King of Britain who was named Arthyr, had been set with his men at the head of the valley to watch for the coming of the quarry.  However when they saw Fionn's two hounds Bran and Sgeolan and how they raced ahead of all the rest, they decided that they would take them for themselves.  So when Bran and Sgeolan reached the place where Arthyr and his men waited they were captured in chains and carried swiftly to the ship which sailed away immediately so that none might know where they had gone.

Now when Fionn realised what had happened he quickly put his thumb of divination in his mouth and at once he knew exactly who had taken the hounds and where they had gone.  He gathered eight of the men of the Fianna including Goll Mac Morna, Caoilte Mac Ronan and his son Oisín and went directly to the shore whereupon he called on Manannan Mac Lír the Lord of the Sea to send him a ship for there was a friendship between the two which was of long standing.  So the magical boat appeared and though there were no crew on board her sails still filled until in no time at all the nine men of the Fianna arrived at the shores of Britain.

They went to where Arthyr and his men were hunting the land of Lodan son of Llyr and there they saw the two hounds Bran and Sgeolan who were very happy to see their master again.  Arthyr feigned friendship with Fionn saying that the theft of the hounds had been but a practical joke, and he invited Fionn to dine with him.  However soon fighting broke out between the men and it could have gone ill for Fionn and his  men who were outnumbered had it not been for Oisín who grabbed Arthyr by the neck and used him as a shield while he slew a dozen of his men.  Then Arthyr sued for peace and said that Fionn should have the dogs back and also a gift of two horses a magnificent grey stallion and a fine chestnut mare.  These Fionn accepted and took them back with him to Ireland and from their stock came all the mounts of the Fianna thereafter.


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