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VIKINGS IN IRISH FOLKLORE


FIONN GOES TO NORWAY

It was in the house of Cromghleann that a wondrous giant came to us. The five toes of his huge foot covered the whole floor of the king's hall. He had only one foot but by no means a slow one, only one eye in the middle of his forehead, one iron claw as black as the coals of a smithy protruding from his breast.

Without hesitating Conan raised his fist to strike this one eyed monster, but Fionn himself said: "Stay Conan, take care for sore would be my distress, if a messenger from the king of Norway were struck in my house." Then to the giant he said: " Be pleased my friend of the single eye and uncouth behaviour to tell us the story of yourself and your journey."

The giant spoke: "I come from wide Norway, from the men of the blue spears. It took a single pull though not a weak one to bring me here from the country of Norway. The princess, Bha-bhuig, the daughter of the Norse king has sent a message through me to the lord of the Fianna, Fionn, that he may ask for her hand if he is this day week in the city of Bergen in Norway".

Every high kneed warrior had two spears and a dart and coat of mail. Everyone was finely equipped and the heroes, eager to fight, departed. They reached the city of Bergen in Norway and Manus, the Norse king, came out of his castle to greet them. He gave them a hearty welcome and invited them to enter. Their arms they had to give up and they were stacked in a safe house outside and the key handed to a guard. They they were asked in to the great hall of the king and the doors shut behind them. Every single warrior had on each side a soldier of the Norse king. All were fully armed. The Finna had only their knives hidden upon them as was their custom in times of danger.

The king sat at the head of the table and bade them be of good cheer. As every course was passed he asked a question: "Who killed my son, Ciothach, the victorious?" "I indeed killed your son, Ciothach, the victorious", said Goll of the red weapons, "In the battle on the shore towards the north where fell the big army."

"Who killed my son, Gormshuil of the battles?" "I indeed it was who killed your son, Gormshuil of the battles", said valiant Oscar, "I will not deny that I killed him in battle".

"Where did you leave my son, the strong handed Beugal Briagha?" asked the king. "I killed your son, strong handed Beugal Briagha", said Diarmaid o Duibhne, "And no revenge for it will you ever get though I am here in the thick of the men of Norway". "See that little man and bind him", said the Norse king. "Where now are your big promises and words, Manus?" said Fionn. "Those I left where I found them" said Manus.

Then it was that they drew their seven hundred times twenty knives and all their great courage was need for this even greater enterprise, every one of them killed three men before they reached the door which they burst open killing the doorkeeper. Resolutely they retraced their steps, however and seized the treasure of the whole city. Thus did they escape, the strong-willed, courageous company of men, and from that time forth no tribute was ever paid by Ireland to Norway.


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

Other Stories:
The Hostel of the Elder Trees.
The King of Norway


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

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