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Gruagach

The Glashan, as I found out afterwards, frequented
neighbouring farms till within a very late period. He
wore no clothes, and was hairy j and, according to
Train's history, Phynodderee, which means something
hairy, was frightened away by a gift of clothes — exactly
as the Skipness long-haired Gruagach was frightened
away by the offer of a coat and a cap. The Manks
brownie and the Argyllshire one each repeated a rhyme
over the clothes ; but the rhymes are not the same,
though they amount to the same thing.


There is a place called Loh Maaien-her, in Morbihan, Brit-
tany, a long, dark, underground passage, at the end of which are
certain rudely sculptured stones. On one of these is something
which bears some faint resemblance to the snake, who appears
in the next tale.
There is one word in this tale, ' ' Seang, " which is not given
in dictionaries as a substantive. Sing, applied to an Indian
prince, means lion, and the beast here described might be one.
Seang, as an adjective, means thin, slim, slender, gaunt, and is
the root of Seangan, an ant.
In Prichard's "Celtic Nations," by Latham, 1856, a Dacota
word is quoted — "Sungka," which originally comprehended the
idea of Dog, Fox, and Wolf.
The word Gruagach, which here means some male person-
age, generally means a maiden. It also means "A female
spectre of the class of Brownies to which the Highland dairy-
maids made frequent libations of milk — rarely the chief of a
place." — Armstrong die. This word, which has not its common
meaning, may help to trace the language. The root is Gruag,
the hair of the head.
A Gruagach used to haunt Skipness Castle, and is still remem-
bered there as a supernatural female who did odd jobs about the
house for the maids, and lived in the ruin.
"There was also a Gruagach in Kerrisdale, in Gairloch, in
Ross-shire, once upon a time."
This may be the same word as Groacli or Grac'li, a name
given to the Druidesses, who had colleges in an island near the
coasts of Brittany (p. 155, vol. i., Foyer Breton). The story
given has many incidents common to the Gaelic stories.
The sword of light is common in Gaelic stories ; and, stripped
of supernatural qualities, the whole thing seems very like an
account of some race contending with another, whose chief wore
long hair, who had horses and bright (? steel) swords, to which
extraordinary virtues were attributed, and who were at the same
time beset by savages who lived in caves, and were assisted by
other savages represented by creatures.


There is a
gruagach who has a golden apple, which is thrown at
all comers, and unless they are able to catch it they
die ; when it is caught and thrown back by the hero,
Gruagach an Ubhail dies.


So then, in these traditions, swine and oak trees are
associated together with mythical old men and deeds of
valour, such as a race of hunters might perform, and
admire, and remember. Is it too much to suppose that
these are dim recollections of pagan times 1 Druidh is
the name for magician, Draochd for magic. It is
surely not too much to suppose that the magicians were
the Druids, and the magic their mysteries ; that my
peasant collectors are right, when they maintain that
Gruagach. the long-haired one, was a " professor " or
" master of arts," or " one that taught feats of arms ; "
that the learned Gruagach, who is so often mentioned,
was a Druid in his glory, and the other, who, in the
days of Johnson, haunted the island of Troda as
" Greogaca," who haunted the small island of Inch,
near Easdale, in the girlhood of Mrs. Mactavish, who
is remembered still, and is still supposed to haunt
many a desolate island in the far west, is the phantom
of the same Druid, fallen from his high estate, skulking
from his pursuers, and really living on milk left for him
by those whose priest he had once been.


THE YOUNG KING OF EASAIDH RUADH.

THE young king of Easaidh Kuadh, after he got  heirship to himself, was at much merry making, looking out what would suit him, and what would come into his humour. There was a Gruagach near his dwelling, who was called Gruagach carsalach donn  (The brown curly long-haired one.) He thought to himself that he would go to play a game with him. He went to the Seanagal (soothsayer) and he said to him — " I am made up that I will go to
game with the Gruagach carsalach donn." "Aha!"
said the Seanagal, " art thou such a man 1 Art thou
so insolent that thou art going to play a game against
the Gruagach carsalach donn ? 'Twere my advice to
thee to change thy nature and not to go there." " I
wont do that," said he. "'Twere my advice to thee, if
thou shouklst win of the Gruagach carsalach donn, to
 get the cropped rough-skinned maid that is behind the
door for the worth of thy gaming, and many a turn will
he put off before thou gettest her." He lay down that
night, and if it was early that the day came, 'twas
earlier than that that the king arose to hold gaming
against the Gruagach. He reached the Gruagach, he
blessed the Gruagach, and the Gruagach blessed him.
Said the Gruagach to him, " Oh young king of Easaidh
Ruadh, what brought thee to me to-day 1 Wilt thou
game with me?" They began and they played the
game. The king won. " Lift the stake of thy gaming J
so that I may get (leave) to be moving." " The stake
of my gaming is to give me the cropped rough-skinned
girl thou hast behind the door." "Many a fair woman
have I within besides her," said the Gruagach. " I
will take none but that one." " Blessing to thee and
cursing to thy teacher of learning " They went to the
house of the Gruagach, and the Gruagach set in order
twenty } T oung girls. "Lift now thy choice from
amongst these." One was coming out after another,
and every one that would come out she would say, "I
v* w/A . am she ; art thou not silly that art not taking me with
thee ? " But the Seanagal had asked him to take none
but the last one that would come out. When the last
one came out, he said, "This is mine." He went with 1
her, and when they were a bit from the house, her form
G/3T altered, and she is the loveliest woman that was on
earth. The king was going home full of joy at getting
such a charming woman.
He reached the house, and he went to rest. If it
was early that the day arose, it was earlier than that
that the king arose to go to game with the Gruagach.
" I must absolutely go to game against the Gruagach
to-day," said he to his wife. "Oh '"said she, "that's
my father, and if thou goest to game with him, take
nothing for the stake of thy play but the dun shaggy
filly that has the stick saddle on her."
The king went to encounter the Gruagach, and surely
the blessing of the two to each other was not beyond
what it was before. "Yes ! n said the Gruagach, "how
did thy young bride please thee yesterday 1 " " She
pleased fully." "Hast thou come to game with me
to-day ?" "I came." They began at the gaming, and
the king won from the Gruagach on that day. "Lift
the stake of thy gaming, and be sharp about it." " The
stake of my gaming is the dun shaggy filly on which is
the stick saddle."
They went away together. They reached the dun
shaggy filly. He took her out from the stable, and the
king put his leg over her and she was the swift /Z
heroine ! He went home. His wife had her hands
spread before him, and they were cheery together that
night. "I would rather myself," said his wife, "that
thou shouldest not go to game with the Gruagach any
more, for if he wins he will put trouble on thy head."
"I won't do that," said he, " I will go to play with him
to-day."
He went to play with the Gruagach. When he
arrived, he thought the Gruagach was seized with joy.
" Hast thou come 1 " he said. " I came." They played
the game, and, as a cursed victory for the king, the
Gruagach won that day. " Lift the stake of thy game,"
said the young king of Easaidh Ruadh, "and be not
heavy on me, for I cannot stand to it." " The stake of
my play is," said he, " that I lay it as crosses and as
spells on thee, and as the defect of the year, that the
cropped rough-skinned creature, moro uncouth and un-
worthy than thou thyself, should take thy head, and thy
neck, and thy life's look off, if thou dost not get for me
the Glaive of Light of the king of the oak windows
The king went home, heavily, poorly, gloomily. The
young queen came meeting him, and she said to him,
" Mohrooai ! my pity ! there is nothing with thee to-
night." Her face and her splendour gave some pleasure
to the king when he looked on her brow, but when he
sat on a chair to draw her towards him, his heart was
so heavy that the chair broke under him.
" What ails thee, or what should ail thee, that thou
mightest not tell it to me 1 " said the queen. The king
told how it happened. " Ha ! " said she, " what should'st
thou mind, and that thou hast the best wife in Erin,
and the second best horse in Erin. If thou takest
my advice, thou wilt come (well) out of all these things
yet."
If it was early that the day came, it was earlier than
that that the queen arose, and she set order in every-
thing, for the king was about to go on his journey.
She set in order the dun shaggy filly, on which was
the stick saddle, and though he saw it as wood, it was
full of sparklings with gold and silver. He got on it ;
the queen kissed him, and she wished him victory of
battlefields. " I need not be telling thee anything.
Take thou the advice of thine own she comrade, the
filly, and she will tell thee what thou shouldest do."
He set out on his journey, and it was not dreary to be
on the dun steed.
She would catch the swift March wind that would
be before, and the swift March wind would not catch
her. They came at the mouth of dusk and lateness, to
the court and castle of the king of the oak windows.
Said the dun shaggy filly to him, " We are at the
end of the journey, and we have not to go any further ;
take my advice, and I will take thee where the sword
of light of the king of the oak windows is, and if it
comes with thee without scrape or creak, it is a good
mark on our journey. The king is now at his dinner,
and the sword of light is in his own chamber. There
is a knob on its end, and when thou catchest the sword,
draw it softly out of the window 'case.'" He came
to the window where the sword was. He caught the
sword and it came with him softly till it was at its
point, and then it gave a sort of a " sgread." " We will
now be going," said the filly. "It is no stopping time
for us. I know the king has felt us taking the sword
out." He kept his sword in his hand, and they went
away, and when they were a bit forward, the filly said,
" We will stop now, and look thou whom thou seest
behind thee." "I see" said he, "a swarm of brown
horses coming madly." " We are swifter ourselves than
these yet," said the filly. They went, and when they
were a good distance forward, " Look now," said she ;
"whom seest thou coming ? " "I see a swarm of black
horses, and one white-faced black horse, and he is com-
ing and coming in madness, and a man on him."
" That is the best horse in Erin ; it is my brother, and
he got three months more nursing than I, and he will
come past me with a whirr, and try if thou wilt be so
ready, that when he comes past me, thou wilt take the
head off the man who is on him ; for in the time of
passing he will look at thee, and there is no sword in ^ ]
his court will take off his head but the very sword that
isjn thy hand." When this man was going past, he
gave his head a turn to look at him, he drew the sword
and he took his head off, and the shaggy dun filly o &,.
caught it in her mouth.
This was the king of the oak windows. "Leap
on the black horse," said she, "and leave the carcass
there, and be going home as fast as he will take thee
home, and I will be coming as best I may after thee."
He leaped on the black horse, and, " Moire ! " he was
the swift hero, and they reached the house long before
day. The queen was without rest till he arrived. They
raised music, and they laid down woe. On the morrow,
he said, "I am obliged to go to see the Gruagach
to-day, to try if my spells will be loose." Mind that
it is not as usual the Gruagach will meet thee. He
will meet thee furiously, wildly, and he will say to thee,
didst thou get the sword ? and say thou that thou hast
got it ; he will say, how didst thou get it ? and thou
shalt say, if it were not the knob that was on its end
I had not got it. He will ask thee again, how didst
thou get the sword 1 and thou wilt say, if it were not
tjie knob that was on its end, I had not got it. Then
Tie will give himself a lift to look what knob is on the
. u sword, and thou wilt see a mole on the right sid e of
 his neck, and stab the point of the sword in the mole;
and if thou dost not hit the mole, thou and I are done.
His brother was the king of the oak windows, and he
knows that till the other had lost his life, he would
not part with the sword. The death of the two is in
the sword, but there is no other sword that will touch
them but it." The queen kissed him, and she called
on victory of battlefields (to be) with him, and he went
away.
The Gruagach met him in the very same place
where he was before. " Didst thou get the sword 1 "
" I got the sword." " How didst thou get the sword 1 "
"If it were not the knob that was on its end I had not
got it," said he. "Let me see the sword." "It was
not laid on me to let thee see it." " How didst thou
get the sword ? " " If it were not the knob that was
on its end, I got it not." The Gruagach gave his head
a lift to look at the sword; he saw the mole ; he was
sharp and quick, and he thrust the sword into the mole,
and the Gruagach fell down dead.
He returned home, and when he returned home, he
found his set of keepers and watchers tied back to back,
without wife, or horse, or sweetheart of his, but was
taken away.
When he loosed them, they said to him, "A great
giant came and he took away thy wife and thy two
horses." " Sleep will not come on mine eyes nor rest
on mine head till I get my wife and my two horses
back." In saying this, he went on his journey. He
took the side that the track of the horses was, and he
followed them diligently. The dusk and lateness were
coming on him, and no stop did he make until he
reached the side of the green wood. He saw where
there was the forming of the site of a fire, and he thought
that he would put fire upon it, and thus he would put
the night past there.
He was not long here at the fire, when " Cu Seang "
of the green wood came on him.
He blessed the dog, and the dog blessed him.
" Oov ! oov ! " said the dog, " Bad was the plight
of thy wife and thy two horses here last night with
the big giant." "It is that which has set me so pained
and pitiful on their track to-night ; but there is no help
for it." "Oh! king," said the dog, "thou must not
be without meat." The dog went into the wood. He
brought out creatures, and they made them meat
contentedly. " I rather think myself," said the king,
" that I may turn home ; that I cannot go near that
giant," "Don't do that," said the dog. "There's no
fear of thee, king. Thy matter will grow with thee.
Thou must not be here without sleeping." "Fear will
not let me sleep without a warranty." "Sleep thou,"
said the dog, " and I will warrant thee." The king let
himself down, stretched out at the side of the fire, and
he slept. When the watch broke, the dog said to him,
" Rise up, king, till thou gettest a morsel of meat that
will strengthen thee, till thou wilt be going on thy
journey. Now," said the dog, "if hardship or difficulty
conies on thee, ask my aid, and I will be with thee in
an instant." They left a blessing with each other, and
he went away. In the time of dusk and lateness, he
came to a great precipice of rock, and there was the
forming of the site of a fire.
He thought he would gather dry fuel, and that he
would set on fire. He began to warm himself, and he
was not long thus when the hoary hawk of the grey
rock came on him. "Oov ! oov !" said she, "Bad was
the plight of thy wife and thy two horses last night
with the big giant." "There is no help for it," said
he. " I have got much of their trouble and little of
their benefit myself." "Catch courage," said she.
" Thou wilt get something of their benefit yet. Thou
must not be without meat here," said she. " There is
no contrivance for getting meat," said he. " We will
not be long getting meat," said the falcon. She went,
and she was not long when she came with three ducks
and eight blackcocks in her mouth. They set their
meat in order, and they took it. " Thou must not be
without sleep," said the falcon. "How shall I sleep
without a warranty over me, to keep me from any one
evil that is here." " Sleep thou, king, and I will
warrant thee." He let himself down, stretched out, and
he slept.
In the morning, the falcon set him on foot. " Hard-
ship or difficulty that comes on thee, mind, at any
time, that thou wilt get my help." He went swiftly,
sturdily. The night was coming, and the little birds of
the forest of branching bushy trees, were talking about
the briar roots and the twig tops; and if they were, it
was stillness, not peace for him, till he came to the side
of a great river that was there, and at the bank of the
river there was the forming of the site of a fire. The
king blew a heavy, little spark of fire. He was not long
here when there came as company for him the brown
otter of the river. " Och ! och ! " said the otter,
" Bad was the plight of thy wife and thy two horses
last night with the giant." " There is no help for it.
I got much of their trouble and little of their benefit."
"Catch courage, before mid-day to-morrow thou wilt
see thy wife. Oh ! king, thou must not be without
meat," said the otter. " How is meat to be got
here ? " said the king. The otter went through the
river, and she came and three salmon with her, that
were splendid. They made meat, and they took it.
Said the otter to the king, " Thou must sleep." " How
can I sleep without any warranty over me 1 " " Sleep
thou, and I will warrant thee." The king slept. In
the morning, the otter said to him, " Thou wilt be this
night in presence of thy wife." He left blessing with
the otter. "Now," said the otter, "if difficulty be on
thee, ask my aid and thou shalt get it." The king-
went till he reached a rock, and he looked down into a
^ chasm that was in the rock, and at the bottom he saw
his wife and his two horses, and he did not know how
he should get where they were. He went round till he
came to the foot of the rock, and there was a fine road
for going in. He went in, and if he went it was then
she began crying. " Ud ! ud ! " said he, "this is bad !
If thou art crying now when I myself have got so much
trouble coming about thee." "Oo ! " said the horses,
"set him in front of us, and there is no fear for
him, till we leave this." She made meat for him,
and she set him to rights, and when they were a while
together, she put him in front of the horses. When
 the giant came, he said, " The smell of the stranger is
(within." Says she, " My treasure ! My joy and my
cattle ! there is nothing but the smell of the litter of
the horses." At the end of a while he went to give
meat to the horses, and the horses began at him, and
they all but killed him, and he hardly crawled from
them. "Dear thing," said she, "they are like to kill
thee. "If I myself had my soul to keep, it's long
hw*'' since they had killed me," said he. "Where, dear, is
thy soul 1 By the books I will take care of it." " It
is," said he, "in the Bonnach stone." When he went^T
on the morrow, she set the Bonnach stone in order > IS* 1
!^u.' exceedingly. In the time of dusk and lateness, the ** UL
giant came home. She set her man in front of the / .J^ ; h
horses. The giant went to give the horses meat and
they mangled him more and more. " What made thee
set the Bonnach stone in order like that ? " said he.
"Because thy soul is in it." "I perceive that if thou'
didst know where my soul is, thou wouldst give it much
respect." " I would give (that)," said she. "It is
not there," said he, "my soul is ; it is in the threshold."
She set in order the threshold finely on the morrow.
When the giant returned, he went to give meat to the
horses, and the horses mangled him more and more.
" What brought thee to set the threshold in order like
that ? " " Because thy soul is in it." " I perceive if
thou knewest where my soul is, that thou wouldst take
care of it." "I would take that," said she. "It is
not there that my soul is," said he. " There is a great
flagstone under the threshold. There is a wether under
the flag. There is a duck in the wether's belly, and
an egg in the belly of the duck, and it is in the egg
that my soul is." When the giant went away on the
morrow's day, they raised the flagstone and out went
the wether. "If I had the slim dog of the green-
wood, he would not be long bringing the wether to
me." The slim dog of the greenwood came with the
wether in his mouth. When they opened the wether,
out was the duck on the wing with the other ducks.
"If I had the Hoary Hawk of the grey rock, she would
not be long bringing the duck to me." The Hoary
Hawk of the grey rock came with the duck in her
mouth ; when they split the duck to take the egg from
her belly, out went the egg into the depth of the ocean.
" If I had the brown otter of the river, he would not
be long bringing the egg to me." The brown otter
came and the egg in her mouth, and the queen caught
the egg, and she crushed it between her two hands.
The giant was coming in the lateness, and when she
crushed the egg, he fell down dead, and he has never
yet moved out of that. They took with them a great
deal of his gold and silver. They passed a cheery
night with the brown otter of the river, a night with
the hoary falcon of the grey rock, and a night with the
slim dog of the greenwood. They came home and
they set in order " a cuirm curaidh cridheil,'' a hearty
hero's feast, and they were lucky and well pleased after
that.