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Myths and Legends of Ireland


A king of the little people, was compelled to visit the court of Fergus mac Leide and be the first to sample the porridge there next morning. Accompanied by his consort, Bebo, he attempted to do this and, as a result, fell into the porridge pot and so was made prisoner by the Ulstermen.

His people tried to obtain his release, first by offering a ransom of corn, then, on this being refused, by making the calves take all the milk from the cows, leaving none to be had for drinking and cooking, by defiling the rivers and wells, by burning the mills and kilns and by cutting the ears off the corn. At length they threatened to shave the Ulstermen and women in their sleep, whereupon Fergus told them he would kill Iubdan if this design were carried out. Iubdan then sent his subjects home. He remained prisoner a year and a day and then had to surrender his most precious possession - a pair of shoes - to Fergus. When Fergus put his toes into these, they grew to a size to fit his feet.

Labraid Loingseach

A legendary prehistoric king of Ireland, was originally called Maen because he was dumb, due to eating a mouse. However, he was struck in a hurling match and emitted a cry, whereupon it was said that he was talking (labraid). He was the son of Ailell,the king of Munster murdered by Cobthach. With the harper Craiftine and the poet Ferchertne he went to Scoriath, king of Fir Morca, of whose daughter he became enamoured. Scoriath and his wife were lulled to sleep by Craiftine's music so Labraid was able to meet the girl, whose name was Moriath. Moriath's mother, however, guessed what had happened. On Labraid's admitting his deed, he was allowed to wed Moriath. With the aid of Scoriath he took the Leinster stronghold of Dinn Rig, aided by Craiftine's sleep-music. When he was king of Leinster, he invited Cobthach to visit him and enter a house which he had built. Cobthach consented to this, provided Labraid's mother and fool should precede him. They did so and Cobthach followed them. Then Labraid had the house chained closed and cooked Cobthach in the house.

Labraid had, according to one account, become an exile in Britain and Armenia. This earned him the name 'Loingseach', the exile. He had everyone who cut his hair slain, for he had horse's ears and wanted to keep them secret. Yielding to the pleas of one barber's mother, he said he would spare her son provided he would hold his tongue. However, weighed down by the burden of his secret, the youth imparted it to a tree. The tree was later made into a harp for Craiftine and, on being played, it revealed the truth.

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