Gods and Fighting Men

Death of Goll

   And at last it chanced that Goll and Cairell, son of Finn, met with one another, and said sharp words, and they fought in the sea near the strand, and Cairell got his death by GoIl. And there was great anger and great grief on Finn, seeing his son, that was so strong and comely, lying dead and grey, like a blighted branch.
   And as to Goll, he went away to a cave that was in a point stretching out into the sea; and he thought to stop there till Finn's anger would have passed.
   And Osgar knew where he was, and he went to see him, that had been his comrade in so many battles. But Goll thought it was as an enemy he came, and he made a cast of his spear at him, and though Osgar got no wound by it, it struck his shield and crushed it. And Finn took notice of the way the shield was, and when he knew that Goll had made a cast at Osgar there was greater anger on him. And be sent out his men and bade them to watch every path and every gap that led to the cave where Goll was, the way they would make an end of him.
   And when Goll knew Finn to be watching for his life that way, be made no attempt to escape, but stopped where he was, without food, without drink, and he blinded with the sand that was blowing into his eyes.
   And his wife came to a rock where she could speak with him, and she called to him to come to her. "Come over to me," she said; "and it is a pity you to be blinded where you are, on the rocks of the waste sea, with no drink but the salt water, a man that was first in every fight. And come now to be sleeping beside me," she said; "and in place of the hard sea-water I will nourish you from my own breast, and it is I will do your healing. And the gold of your hair is my desire for ever," she said, "and do not stop withering there like an herb in the winter-time, and my heart black with grief within me?'
   But Goll would not leave the spot where he was for all she could say. "It is best as it is," he said, "and I never took the advice of a woman east or west, and I never will take it. And O sweet-voiced queen," he said, "what ails you to be fretting after me; and remember now your silver and your gold, and your silks and stuffs, and remember the seven hounds I gave you at Cruadh Ceirrge, and every one of them without slackness till he has killed the deer. And do not be crying tears after me, queen with the white hands," he said; "but remember your constant lover, Aodh, the son of the best woman of the world, that came out from Spain asking for you, and that I fought at Corcar-an-Deirg; and go to him now," he said, "for it is bad when a woman is in want of a good man."
   And he lay down on the rocks, and at the end of twelve days he died. And his wife keened him there, and made a great lamentation for her husband that had such a great name, and that was the second best of the Fianna of Ireland.
   And when Conan heard of the death of Goll his brother, there was great anger on him, and he went to Garraidh, and asked him to go with him to Finn to ask satisfaction for Goll. "I am not willing to go," said Garraidh, "since we could get no satisfaction for the great son of Morna." "Whether you have a mind to go or not, I will go," said Conan; "and I will make an end of every man I meet with, for the sake of yellow-haired Goll; I will have the life of Oisin, Finn's great son, and of Osgar and of Caoilte and of Daire of the Songs; I will have no forgiveness for them, we must show no respect for Finn, although we may die in the fight, having no help from Goll. And let us take that work in hand, and make no delay," he said; "for if Finn is there, his strength will be there, until we put him under his flag-stone."
   But it is not likely Garraidh went with him, and he after speaking such foolish words.
   And what happened Conan in the end is not known. But there is a cairn of stones on a bill of Burren, near to Corcomruadh, and the people of Connacht say it is there he is buried, and that there was a stone found there one time, having on it in the old writing:
   "Conan the swift-footed, the bare-footed." But the Munster people say it is on their own side of Burren he is buried.


Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan