Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Giant's Wife

(an Irish legend)

In the days when giants lived in the north of Ireland, Finn McCool was the biggest, strongest, most handsome of tem all - or so he thought. With his bare hands, Finn could rip a pine tree out of the ground. He could leap across a river in one bound. He could split a boulder in half with one swish of his axe.

Now Finn had heard that there were clans of giants living in Scotland who had competitions throwing tree trunks and carrying boulders. That sounded to him like great fun. So Finn decided to build a road right across the sea, so he could walk across to see these Scottish giants without getting his feet wet.

He began to work hard, ripping rocks from the mountains and throwing them into the sea until they piled up above the water and began to form a road. He was only three days into the job when a friend of his arrived at the seashore.
“Finn, I don’t meat to worry you, to be sure,” his friend said, “but there’s gossip about a strange giant who’s on his way to your house to flatten you. Some say that he’s leapt across the sea from Scotland without needing a boat or a bridge people say that he keeps a thunderbolt in his pocket. I’ve heard, too, that he has a magic little finger with as much strength in it as ten men put together!“
“Pah!” cried Finn, “I don’t believe a word of it!“ But secretly, he began to feel a little uneasy.

The minute Finn arrived home, he sat down glumly at the kitchen table and told his wife Oonagh all about the stories of the strange giant.
“If it’s true, he’ll beat me into mashed potatoes!“ Finn moaned.
„You men are always boasting about your muscles, but sometimes you should use your brains instead,” Oonagh laughed. “Now do as I say and leave everything else to me.”

Oonagh quickly found nine round, flat stones and put them on a plate with a round flat oatcake. Meanwhile, Finn built an enormous baby’s cradle and put it by the fireside, just as Oonagh had told him. Just then, Finn and Oonagh felt the ground begin to shake underneath them and a dark shadow fell across the house.
„It’s him! He’s here!“ panicked Finn, running to and fro. “What shall I do?”
“Calm down,” urged Oonagh, handing her husband a bonnet and nightdress. “Put these on and climb into the cradle!”
Finn was far too scared to argue, and soon he was dressed up like a baby and lying cuddled up in the crib. Oonagh shoved a huge bottle of milk into his mouth and went to answer the door.
“WHERE IS FINN MCCOOL?” roared the massive giant. He was certainly the biggest giant Oonagh had ever seen – and the ugliest! “WHEN I FIND HIM, I’M GOING TO RIP HIM TO SHREDS!” the giant bellowed.
“I’m afraid you’ve missed my husband,” Oonagh smiled sweetly. “He’s away at the coast, building a road across the sea to Scotland. He started this morning and he’ll be finished by teatime. You can come and wait for him if you like.”

The massive giant growled under his breath that may or may not have been a thank you.
Oonagh beckoned him inside. “Well, you’d better come in and have something to eat. You’ll need to get your strength up if you’re going to fight Finn. I have to say, you look like a dwarf next to my husband!”
In the cradle, Finn’s teeth began to chatter. What on earth was his wife annoying the monster giant like that for?
“Have an oatcake,” Oonagh offered the stranger politely, putting one of the round, flat rocks on his plate.
The greedy giant crammed it into his mouth and took a huge bite. “OW!” he roared, spitting bits of broken teeth all over the table.
“Oh dear, didn’t you like it?” Oonagh fussed. “To be sure, they’re the baby’s favourite!” She strode over to the cradle and gave Finn the oatcake. He munched on it happily.

The strange giant peered into his cradle. “That’s Finn McCool’s baby?” he asked, highly suprised. “He’s a whopper of a lad, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” sighed Oonagh, tickling her husband under the chin while Finn cooed and gurgled as best he could. “He’s got teeth already, you know. Here, put your finger into his mouth and feel. Go on.”
Slowly, nervously, the ginat put his little finger inside Finn’s mouth. CRUNCH! Finn bit down as hard as he possibly could – right through the bone!
“AAARRRGGHHH!” roared the giant. “If Finn McCool’s baby is that strong, I’m not hanging around to find out what Finn McCool is like!” And with that, he was out of the door and away over the hills before Finn could even leap out of the cradle.

Finn McCool never did finish his rad across the sea if you go to Ireland today, you can still see it poking out into the water, half finished. He wanted nothing more than to stay at home and enjoy the rest of his days with his beautiful, clever wife. So that’s exactly what he did!

The true hero doesn't always have to be made of muscles, or be a man...:-)

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