Connla And The Fairy Maiden
: Celtic Folk And Fairy Tales
Connla of the Fiery Hair was son of Conn of the Hundred Fights. One
day as he stood by the side of his father on the height of Usna, he
saw a maiden clad in strange attire towards him coming.
"Whence comest thou, maiden?" said Connla.
"I come from the Plains of the Ever Living," she said, "there where is
neither death nor sin. There we keep holiday alway, nor need we help
from any in our joy
And in all our pleasure we have no strife. And
because we have our homes in the round green hills, men call us the
The king and all with him wondered much to hear a voice when they saw
no one. For save Connla alone, none saw the Fairy Maiden.
"To whom art thou talking, my son?" said Conn the king.
Then the maiden answered, "Connla speaks to a young, fair maid, whom
neither death nor old age awaits. I love Connla, and now I call him
away to the Plain of Pleasure, Moy Mell, where Boadag is king for aye,
nor has there been sorrow or complaint in that land since he held the
kingship. Oh, come with me, Connla of the Fiery Hair, ruddy as the
dawn, with thy tawny skin. A fairy crown awaits thee to grace thy
comely face and royal form. Come, and never shall thy comeliness fade,
nor thy youth, till the last awful day of judgment."
The king in fear at what the maiden said, which he heard though he
could not see her, called aloud to his Druid, Coran by name.
"O Coran of the many spells," he said, "and of the cunning magic, I
call upon thy aid. A task is upon me too great for all my skill and
wit, greater than any laid upon me since I seized the kingship. A
maiden unseen has met us, and by her power would take from me my dear,
my comely son. If thou help not, he will be taken from thy king by
woman's wiles and witchery."
Then Coran the Druid stood forth and chanted his spells towards the
spot where the maiden's voice had been heard. And none heard her voice
again, nor could Connla see her longer. Only as she vanished before
the Druid's mighty spell, she threw an apple to Connla.
For a whole month from that day Connla would take nothing, either to
eat or to drink, save only from that apple. But as he ate it grew
again and always kept whole. And all the while there grew within him a
mighty yearning and longing after the maiden he had seen.
But when the last day of the month of waiting came, Connla stood by
the side of the king his father on the Plain of Arcomin, and again he
saw the maiden come towards him, and again she spoke to him.
"'Tis a glorious place, forsooth, that Connla holds among shortlived
mortals awaiting the day of death. But now the folk of life, the
ever-living ones, beg and bid thee come to Moy Mell, the Plain of
Pleasure, for they have learnt to know thee, seeing thee in thy home
among thy dear ones."
When Conn the king heard the maiden's voice he called to his men aloud
"Summon swift my Druid Coran, for I see she has again this day the
power of speech."
Then the maiden said: "O mighty Conn, Fighter of a Hundred Fights, the
Druid's power is little loved; it has little honour in the mighty
land, peopled with so many of the upright. When the Law comes, it will
do away with the Druid's magic spells that issue from the lips of the
false black demon."
Then Conn the king observed that since the coming of the maiden Connla
his son spoke to none that spake to him. So Conn of the Hundred Fights
said to him, "Is it to thy mind what the woman says, my son?"
"'Tis hard upon me," said Connla; "I love my own folk above all
things; but yet a longing seizes me for the maiden."
When the maiden heard this, she answered and said: "The ocean is not
so strong as the waves of thy longing. Come with me in my curragh, the
gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. Soon can we reach Boadag's
realm. I see the bright sun sink, yet far as it is, we can reach it
before dark. There is, too, another land worthy of thy journey, a land
joyous to all that seek it. Only wives and maidens dwell there. If
thou wilt, we can seek it and live there alone together in joy."
When the maiden ceased to speak, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed away
from his kinsmen and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming,
straight-gliding crystal canoe. And then they all, king and court, saw
it glide away over the bright sea towards the setting sun, away and
away, till eye could see it no longer. So Connla and the Fairy Maiden
went forth on the sea, and were no more seen, nor did any know whither