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VIKINGS IN IRISH FOLKLORE


THE KING OF NORWAY

At a feast in Allen, in the days of the heroes, Fionn forgot to invite some of the Fianna from Druim Dearg and at this their anger and wrath were kindled, Caoilte Mac Cronnchar of the sharp spears and Aille son of Criomhthun, swift he was to redden his ear. As they had been forgotten at the drinking the two heroes took a year's leave from the house of Fionn.

Fearlessly they set out on their journey and went to the king of Norway of the polished bridles. The king of Norway was at that time a man who was victorious in every fight, Airgenn, a son of Anchur of the ships, a man whose spear was as good as his hand. The two Irish heroes took a year's service with him.

The queen of Norway's king gave her love, no handsome deed it was, to bright Aille of the sharp weapons and secretly a pact was made between them. Together they went to the bed of the king. For such a deed blood will be shed and they made their escape over the sea to Allen of the Fianna in Leinster in Ireland.

The king of Norway gathered his army and his strong fleet, a fair sight to see. Eighteen kings did at one time come with him, all bringing their armies.

They took their course over the high seas to Ireland of the murderous weapons, and to Allen of the Finna in Leinster they made a journey from the shore. Swiftly they spread their tents, the king of Norway with his army on the slopes that were just outside the fort where Fionn stayed.

Messengers came quickly to Fionn of the golden cups to tell why the king came to Allen with a great army. Fionn offered a great ransom to the army that had come against him and to Norway's king of the old swords and his own wife. The fierce Norseman sat, confident in his own power and his right, that he would take no ransom under the sun, as long as Fionn was left alive after it.

There came a messenger to Fionn with a message that weighed heavily upon our army : a single combat with one of the Fianna did Airgenn claim.

Thirty chieftains of the Fianna, Aille himself the first of all, fell by the hand of Airgeann the great. Fionn, lord of the golden cups, then asked the noble chieftains of Inisfail: "Who will meet Airgenn in the fight that we may not go back with him over the sea?". Goll, the hero who could never be defeated, answered: "Airgenn and I, we will fight, let feats of noble vigour be displayed between us". "Take with you five of the Fianna" said Fionn, "Whose custom it is never to retreat, let them be at your right hand. Take with you three hundred big men not easily overcome by weapons, to guard you against the blows the king." Goll answered without fear: "Not a single one will I take with me until I see my sword and my spear fixed in the body of the king of Norway".

The two heroes fell upon each other and rarely had a fight like this been seen, it lasted for seven nights and seven days. The head of Norway's king of the brown shields was won by Goll on the eight day. It might be that one of them went under the earth or up into the sky, swift as a bird, but of the army of the king of Norway none returned to their own country. As far as our king was concerned it was not to his gain because although the Fianna were victorious, just one half of their heroes they left on the hillside to the right.

 

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.
Fionn goes to Norway.


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

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