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THE HOSTEL OF THE ROWAN TREES

A high King, noble and rich, assumed power and authority over the four tribes of Norway and his name was Colgan of the hard weapons, the son of Dathchaoin Trean. By this king a great gathering and a complete assembly was one day convoked in the open space outside his castle and noble town, that is the city of Bergen in Norway. And there the chieftains and nobles of Norway came together in his presence.

When all were gathered, the king spoke in a loud exceedingly clear voice, and these words he said: "Chieftains of Norway, since you are gathered here, tell me if there be any reproach or blemish resting on me as king and ruler of this realm". "There is one blame" he was told "And that is that the emerald isle of Ireland is no longer under the control of the King of Norway.

"I will go at once and conquer it" he promised. The ships were made ready at once and they sailed, a mighty army. The ships landed in Ulster and a message was sent at once to the High King of Ireland, Cormac, warning him of the invasion. Cormac sent his army, the Fianna, led by the great warrior Fionn Mac Cumhail, to fight the invaders.

There was a great battle, the King of Norway was slain by Oscar, son of fionn, but his youngest son, Miodach, was spared. Miodach stayed in Ireland, was given a town of his own and was accepted by most of the Fianna. Some of the Fianna however did not trust him and they were right for he was plotting revenge for the death of his father.

One day as Fionn was out hunting a stranger came up to him with an invitation to join him at a great feast in a hostel beside some rowan trees. The stranger was Miodach in disguise and fionn and some of his followers went with him while Oisin and the rest stayed behind. As they entered the hostel they were caught in a trap. The doors vanished by magic leaving only a narrow, well-guarded entrance. The Fianna were stuck to their seats and were unable to rise.

A force of warriors from Norway had landed to help Miodach and were now surrounding the hostel.

Fionn put his thumb into his mouth and was able to see the past, the present and the future. He sounded his famous hunting horn, the Dord Fiann and then waited for rescue. The other Fianna heard the horn and came to his rescue. They fought with the Norse warriors and defeated them, killing Miodach. Fionn and his men were then released from the magic. All were unharmed except the greedy Conan who had been so hungry and anxious to get at the food on the table that he had torn himself free, losing the ski off his back.


From The Vikings and the Viking Wars in Irish and Gaelic Tradition
by Reidar Th. Christiansen. Oslo. 1931. (Adapted)

Other Stories:
Fionn's Visit to Norway
The King of Norway

Updated March 1997 by the Viking Network
IRISH CO-ORDINATOR Michael Farry.

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