Gods and Fighting Men

The Enemies of Ireland

   Of all the great battles the Fianna fought to keep the foreigners out of Ireland, the greatest was the one that was fought at Finntraigh the White Strand, in Munster; and this is the whole story of it, and of the way the Fianna came to have so great a name.
   One time the enemies of Ireland gathered together under Daire Donn, High King of the Great World, thinking to take Ireland and to put it under tribute.
   The King of Greece was of them, and the King of France, and the King of the Eastern World, and Lughman of the Broad Arms, King of the Saxons, and Fiacha of the Long Hair, King of the Gairean, and Tor the son of Breogan, King of the Great Plain, and Sligech, son of the King of the Men of Cepda, and Comur of the Crooked Sword, King of the Men of the Dog-Heads, and Caitchenn, King of the Men of the Cat-Heads, and Caisel of the Feathers, King of Lochlann, and Madan of the Bent Neck, son of the King of the Marshes, and three kings from the rising of the sun in the east, and Ogarmach, daughter of the King of Greece, the best woman-warrior that ever came into the world, and a great many other kings and great lords.
   The King of the World asked then: "Who is there can give me knowledge of the harbours of Ireland?" "I will do that for you, and I will bring you to a good harbour," said Glas, son of Dremen, that had been put out of Ireland by Finn for doing some treachery.
   Then the armies set out in their ships, and they were not gone far when the wind rose and the waves, and they could hear nothing but the wild playing of the sea-women, and the screams of frightened birds, and the breaking of ropes and of sails. But after a while, when the wind found no weakness in the heroes, it rose from them and went up into its own high place. And then the sea grew quiet and the waves grew tame and the harbours friendly, and they stopped for a while at an island that was called the Green Rock. But the King of the World said then: "It is not a harbour like this you promised me, Glas, son of Dremen, but a shore of white sand where my armies could have their fairs and their gatherings the time they would not be fighting." "I know a harbour of that sort in the west of Ireland," said Glas, "the Harbour of the White Strand in Corca Duibhne." So they went into their ships again, and went on over the sea towards Ireland.


Deidre of the Sorrows, by John Duncan