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Finn and Midac
by Grainne Rowland

The Fianna had many adventures and fought many battles. But the hardest battle they fought was against the Kings of the Torrents. It happened like this.

After Finn became the leader of the Fianna, there came word that enemies were attacking the eastern part of Ireland. They were led by Colga of the Hard Weapons. Colga was not planning on meeting the Fianna. But when Finn and Colga met, there was a long and fierce fight between the two armies. At the end of the battle, all of Colga's men were dead, except for his youngest son, named Midac.

Finn felt sorry for the boy, for that was all he was - just a young lad. Midac was taken to Almu and raised as Finn's own son. He was given the best of everything - the finest clothing, education, and training in hunting and fighting. But, in spite of all these good things, Midac was always mean and sulky. He hated Finn for killing his father.

As Midac grew to manhood, the other members of the Fianna worried that Midac might learn too many of their secrets; they wanted Finn to send Midac away. So Finn called Midac to him.

He said, "Midac, you are now of an age to make a home of your own. Choose any place in Ireland and I will give you land there. I will give you cattle and everything you will need to begin a new life."

Midac chose a place called Kenri, which was on the River Shannon. He was happy with Kenri, for it had safe harbors and lonely islands nearby. When the Fianna also built Midac a fine castle there, he was secretly pleased. Midac planned to have a terrible revenge on Finn and the Fianna!

For fourteen years, Midac grew richer and more powerful, but the Fianna scarcely knew it, for they preferred to stay away from Midac. But, one day, Finn and his men were out hunting in the area where Midac lived.

Evening was approaching, and Finn and his men were about to cook a deer for supper. Then, one of the Fianna motioned to Finn, for a man on a magnificent horse dressed in red was riding towards them. The man wore a shiny helmet, and had a beautiful sword at his side. The stranger approached with a riddle. "Who," he asked, "is the queen who lies upon a bed of crystal and wears a robe of green? Her babies are thin, though they be many, and you can see them through her skin?"

"Ah," said Finn, "that is easy. The queen is the River Shannon, with her trees and bushes adorning her. Her children are the fish who swim in her clear water."

"Then," said the stranger, "if you are so quick with riddles, why do you not recognize that it is I, Midac, the boy who grew to manhood in your home."

Replied Finn," The larger riddle is, why have you not offered us your hospitality? You well know that is the Irish custom."

"That is exactly why I am here," said Midac. "I saw you from afar, so I have ordered a grand feast to be prepared in your honor. Look! There is my castle in the distance. Please join me!"

"Let us first feed the horses, and then we will be glad to come to your feast," said Finn, as Midac rode away.

After Midac left, Finn and the men gathered to speak about the strange event. Few of the men trusted Midac, but there was something else that bothered the men.

"Have you noticed that this place where we have made our camp is very beautiful, yet there are no birds singing? Something is not right here," said one.

So Finn left half the group at the camp. They would be on the lookout for trouble and come to the rescue if needed. Finn and the rest of the men headed for the feast at Midac's castle.

As they neared his castle, they were impressed by its size and grandness. Midac had made it bigger and set many gems into the walls.This was a very different place from the one the Fianna had built for Midac fourteen years before!

The men arrived at the castle door, but no-one met them or came to act as an escort. The smell of food was in the air, so they went in. Before them was an enormous hall with a fireplace that could roast an entire cow. The fire burned brightly, but no smoke came from it, only a wondrous scent of flowers. At the table were couches for each of the men, covered in the softest satin of green and blue. The walls were covered in rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, and there were seven great doors which opened onto a wonderful garden.

When the Fianna had seated themselves at the table, Midac entered the room. He gazed at each of the men, said nothing, and left. Finn and his companions waited for food to be brought, but no-one appeared. Finn said, "This seems very strange, that no one comes to serve us the feast which we have been promised."

One of the Fianna said, "I see something stranger than that. The fire which before smelled of flowers, now smells of smoke. The couches, which once were so comfortable, are now gone and we sit on the earth. The walls, which were full of gems are now nothing but rotten planks. And the seven doors which opened onto freedom are now all shut and locked."

At this, all the men tried to jump to their feet. But they could not move! They were stuck to the ground. "Finn," said one, "it appears that we are in trouble. Use your thumb that you might see the danger which besets us."
Finn gripped his thumb and the wisdom that he had been given from touching the Salmon of Knowledge allowed him to see a terrible danger.

"My friends," he said, "Midac has brought the three kings of the Isle of the Torrents to kill us. They fight like dragons, and we can do nothing, for we are bewitched. Only their blood sprinkled on this earth can save us."

Back at the camp, the rest of Finn's mern were wondering why there was no noise of music or feasting coming from the castle. "Something is not right there," said one. "We must go and see what mischief Midac has caused."

As they came close to the castle, they spotted Midac and the kings. Luckily, neither the kings nor Midac had seen them. Finn's men stayed well hidden and they over heard Midac boasting about his plan to kill all the Fianna and the revenge that would be his. They also heard him tell of the enchantment that was on Finn and the men at the castle. Until that moment, the Fianna did not know that the three kings of the Isle of Torrents must be killed and their blood sprinkled on the castle's grounds to break the spell. Knowing what they must, do, the second band of Fianna quickly and quietly made their plans.

The Fianna attacked and a terrible battle began. The kings and Midac fought fiercely, but the Fianna fought harder! The kings and MIdac fought long, but the Fianna fought longer! Finally, the enemy could fight no more, and the Fianna slew them all. They quickly sprinkled the blood on Midac's lands and castle. At last, Finn and his men could rise from the ground. They quickly ran to join the rest of the Fianna. The enchantment was broken!

At the camp, Finn and the Fianna feasted on the deer they had prepared before Midac had appeared. And their feasting was all the merrier, for the men were hungry after the battle. They were glad to have their lives and the friendship of one another. And, they were all relieved that Midac would never be a danger to them again!

Boy in red waistcoat from All Posters
Castle from Barewalls
Knight in Armor from All Posters
Great Hall

Kids Reading - from All Posters
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Wed, Jan 3, 2018

FOTA Wildlife Park

Only 10,000 cheetahs remain in their natural habitat and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork, Ireland, is the world's leading breeder of this endangered species. Fota is among the most modern wildlife parks in Europe. It was opened in 1983 and has more than 70 species living in natural open surroundings with no obvious barriers. Only the cheetahs are behind fences.
Another species which is being saved from extinction at Fota is the white tailed sea eagle. It disappeared from Ireland in the early 1900's, but is now being bred at the park and re-introduced to the wild in Co. Kerry.
Fota is open to the public in the summer and is very popular with Irish families, as well as tourists.

Click for More Culture Corner.

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"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb

Children's Irish Dictionary
by Hippocrene Books

As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.

A lovely collection of well known Irish songs from the turn of the twentieth century. This album was created as a gift to MaryLee's Nana, Rose Burke Duval. The first half are songs well known to grandparents and the second half are original and traditional songs for children.

Click here for Irish Songs.


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