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Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 42

Now it happened that there were on the mainland three brothers, namely, Kian, Sawan, and Goban the Smith, the great armourer and artificer of Irish myth, who corresponds to Wayland Smith in Germanic legend. Kian had a magical cow, whose milk was so abundant that every one longed to possess her, and he had to keep her strictly under protection.

Balor determined to possess himself of this cow. One day Kian and Sawan had come to the forge to have some weapons made for them, bringing fine steel for that purpose. Kian went into the forge, leaving [pg 111] Sawan in charge of the cow. Balor now appeared on the scene, taking on himself the form of a little redheaded boy, and told Sawan that he had overheard the brothers inside the forge concocting a plan for using all the fine steel for their own swords, leaving but common metal for that of Sawan. The latter, in a great rage, gave the cow's halter to the boy and rushed into the forge to put a stop to this nefarious scheme. Balor immediately carried off the cow, and dragged her across the sea to Tory Island.

Kian now determined to avenge himself on Balor, and to this end sought the advice of a Druidess named Birōg. Dressing himself in woman's garb, he was wafted by magical spells across the sea, where Birōg, who accompanied him, represented to Ethlinn's guardians that they were two noble ladies cast upon the shore in escaping from an abductor, and begged for shelter. They were admitted; Kian found means to have access to the Princess Ethlinn while the matrons were laid by Birōg under the spell of an enchanted slumber, and when they awoke Kian and the Druidess had vanished as they came. But Ethlinn had given Kian her love, and soon her guardians found that she was with child. Fearing Balor's wrath, the matrons persuaded her that the whole transaction was but a dream, and said nothing about it; but in due time Ethlinn was delivered of three sons at a birth.

News of this event came to Balor, and in anger and fear he commanded the three infants to be drowned in a whirlpool off the Irish coast. The messenger who was charged with this command rolled up the children in a sheet, but in carrying them to the appointed place the pin of the sheet came loose, and one of the children dropped out and fell into a little bay, called to this day Port na Delig, or the Haven of the Pin. The other two [pg 112] were duly drowned, and the servant reported his mission accomplished.

But the child who had fallen into the bay was guarded by the Druidess, who wafted it to the home of its father, Kian, and Kian gave it in fosterage to his brother the smith, who taught the child his own trade and made it skilled in every manner of craft and handiwork. This child was Lugh. When he was grown to a youth the Danaans placed him in charge of Duach, “The Dark,” king of the Great Plain (Fairyland, or the “Land of the Living,” which is also the Land of the Dead), and here he dwelt till he reached manhood.


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