Amadán Mháire Rua - Red-Haired Mary's Foolish Son

Sean Sets Out on his Travels ... Episode 4.


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We are told that the German Fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm needed some 'sanitising' before they could be released for consumption by contemporary society (Certainly 'Dornroeschen /Sleeping Beauty' contained some alarming elements which were hastily excised). So it should not surprise us that tales which reached us from the ancient Celts in Ireland might also contain 'unpalatable' items. In our 'Amadán' tale, it is obvious that we have a bit of a 'mixum gatherum' of elements, but some ring true as being direct cultural detail.
It is not disputed that the ancient Irish were not averse to headhunting - Cuchullain frequently gathered the heads of his enemies. Here we have Seán cutting off the heads of the giants and their dreadful mother - but then he goes on to hang them in trees. A ' gad' was a length of osier or maybe a briar stripped of its thorns..and the original text tells us that Sean threaded a 'gad' through the cheeks of his grisly trophies, much as a boy might do to carry trout he had caught. You will understand that I quickly altered this to their being hung up by the hair. We mustn't alarm the children...or the horses !
The tale begins with Seán giving his coat to an 'old man' in a snow storm. I made it a 'gatepost'...it was in fact a 'gallán' in the Gaelic text - an ancient Celtic boundary marker. You will see a lot of them in West Cork. They are slender shafts of stone, about 6 feet high, standing vertically in the middle of a field. They are never interfered with. There aren't a lot of people, outside Cork, who would immediately understand the ref. to a 'Gallán' - hence 'gatepost' in our version. I hope you will understand...and forgive. Caoimhghín.

o b'éigin do Sheán bhocht imeacht agus bhí sé ar feadh seachtaine gan aon phioc iarraidh le n-ithe ar aoinne acht an méid gur cheannaigh na pingne dho. Bhí sé ag cur an bhóthár de agus ná fheadair sé de cuig áird an domhain cá raibh sé ag gabháil, nuair a bhuail feirmeóir uime ag aodhaireacht deich gcinn de bha agus bhí caorach 'na dteannta. Bheannaigh an feirmeóir do Sheán agus do bheannaigh Seán do thar nais. "Cad é an saghas duine thú ?" ars' an feirmeóir. "Duine mar aon duine," arsa Seán, "nó cad chíonn tú eagóireacht orm ?" "Ní chím aon-ní," ars' an feirmeóir, " acht feachaint cia 'ca buachaill ar lorg máistir thú nó máistir ar lorg buachalla?"

25. Poor Seán had to go and he went for a whole week without having to ask anyone for a bit to eat but he lived on what the pennies would buy for him. He was covering the ground though he had no idea which part of the world he was facing into, when he met a Punk and grass farmer who was driving ten cows and some sheep with them. The farmer greeted Seán and Seán greeted him back. "What sort of a person are you ?" asked the farmer. "A man like any other - what do you see strange about me ?" "Oh, I don't see anything strange," said the farmer, "but I'm wondering are you a master looking for a servant boy or a servant boy looking for a master ?"

26. "Ní haon ghnó do bhuachaill agam," arsa Seán. "An mbeadh gnó agat do mháistir ?" aduirt an feirmeóir. "Do bheadh," arsa Seán, "má gheobhainn mo dhóthain le n-ithe uaidh." "Cad Punks and grass

iarfá le n-ithe ?" aduirt an feirmeóir. "Pic mine coirce gach aon béile," aduirt Seán. "An mó béile sa ló iarrfá ?" ars' an feirmeóir. "Dá béile," arsa Seán. "Gheobhair é sin," aduirt an feirmeoir. "Cad do caithfidh mé a dhéanamh?" ars' Seán, "sar a raghaidh mé leat. "Na deich gcinn de bha seo a d'aodhaireacht, " ars' an feirmeóir. "Deanfaidh mé é sin go hálainn," arsa Seán, "má fhaghaim cleith uait." "Is furaiste cleith d'fhail," ars' an feirmeóir, "Cad is ainm duit ?" "Seán a thugadh mo mháthair orm, nuair a bhios-sa sa bhaile." "'Seadh! Teanam ort, a Sheáin, má is eadh," ars' an feirmeoir. Chomáineadar leó agus chuadar abhaile. "Cad é an saghas duine é sin agat ?" dhuirt an mhaistreas leis an máistir. "Aodhaire bó," aduirt an maistir.

26. "I have no need of a servant boy," said Seán. "Would you have you any need for a master ?" said the farmer. "I would," said Seán," if I got enough to eat from him. "What would you want to eat ?" asked the farmer. "A peck of wheaten meal for every meal," said Seán. "And how many meals would you want in the day ?" asked the farmer. "Two meals," said Seán. "You'll get that," said the farmer. "What would I have to do ?" asked Seán, "before I go with you ?" "To herd those ten cows," said the farmer. "Oh, I'll do that nicely," said Seán if I get a club from you." "Well, it's easy get a club," said the farmer. "What's your name ?" "Seán, my mother called me when I was at home." "Right then so, come on Seán!" said the farmer and they carried on home. "What sort of a person have you there ?" asked the mistress." A cow herd ," the master told her.

27. D'imigh an máistir annsan agus fuair sé pioc mhine coirce dho agus d'ith Seán suas tirm é agus bhuail sé amach. Agus lean an máistir amach é. "Faigh cleith dhom," ars' eisean leis an máistir. D'imigh an máistir isteach sa tig agus thug sé amach cúpla cleith nó trí. "'Seadh a Sheáin," ars' eisean," Tóg do rogha aca san." Do rug Seán ar an gceann ba dheallraithighe aca 'na láimh. Do bhain sé croth aisti agus bhris sé 'na smutaibh é "Níl aon mhaith i n-aon cheann aca-sa," arsa Seán. D'imigh an máistir isteach an tarna huair agus thug sé amach tuath chun Seán. "Seo," ars 'eisean," imigh agus bain féin pé cleith thaithnfidh leat." "Ní raghad," arsa Seán, "ach éirigh-se go dtí an cheárdcha agus déan cleith dhom." "Cad é an saghas cleithe do dhéanfamid duit ?" aduirt an máistir. "Déan cleith iarainn a bhéidh sé troighthe ar faid," arsa Seán," agus bíodh cheithre púint deag de chruaidh mar ailpín uirrthe."

27. The master went then, and he got a peck of meal for him and Seán ate it up dry, then he went out and the master followed him. "Get me a club," said Seán to the master. The master went in and and he brought out two or three clubs. Punk and grass

"Right, Seán, take your pick of them." Seán chose the likeliest of them and took it into his hand then gave it a couple of twists and broke it into bits. "There's no good in any of them," he said. The master went inside a second time and brought out an axe for Seán. "Here," he said, "go and cut yourself a club that will satisfy you." "I won't," said Seán," but let you go to the forge and make me a club." "What sort of club shall we make for you ?" asked the master. "Make one of iron that will be six feet in length," said Seán and that will have a fourteen pound lump of hard iron on the end."

28. D'imigh an máistir agus fuair sé déanta an chleith agus thug sé chun Seán um thrathnóna í. Rug Seán ar an gcleith agus bhain sé crothadh aisti. “Is dóigh liom go ndéanfaidh sí an gnó ars eisean. 'S eadh, ar maidin amáireach, nuair eirigh sé agus do bhí an bhreicfeast ithte aige, duirt an máistir leis , “Téanam ort anois a Sheáin go dtaispeánfaidh mé dhuit cá gcomáinfidh tú na ba.” Bhuail an bheirt amac agus níor dhearmaid Seán a chleith a bhreith leis. Thaispeán an maistir do annsan, ca n-aodharfadh sé na ba. “Agus anois, a Sheáin,” ars' eisean,”tá aoin-ní amháin agam le rá leat: gan aon bhó leigint isteach sa choill sin thiar, Sean wields club

nó, má leigfair, ní bhfaghair a thuilleadh í, ná m,ise acht comh bheag leat.” “Cad tá sa choill,” arsa Seán a choimeádfadh uaim í ?” “Tá trí athaigh,” ars' an máistir, “agus níl aon bhó raghadh isteach ag triall ortha ná go gcoimeádfadaois. Tá fiche bó beirthe uaim le bliain aca, agus táim, geall leis, creachta aca.” “Tá go maith,” arsa Seán.

28. The master went away and got the club made and he gave it to Seán that evening. Seán seized it and gave it a couple of twists. "I think that will do the job," he said. Well, next morning, when he got up and had the breakfast eaten, the master said to him, "Come on now Seán, till I show you where you should look after the cows." The pair of them went out and Seán didn't forget to bring his

club with him. The master then showed him where he should look after the cows. "Now, seán, there is only one thing I want to say to you and that is that you should never allow any cow to go into that wood over there, because if you do, neither you nor I will ever get her again.." "What is in the wood," asked Seán, "that would keep her from us ?" "There are three giants," said the master, "and there is no cow that goes in there that they don't keep. Over the years, they have taken twenty cows from me and I'm almost ruined by them." "All right," said Seán.

 

 

 

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29 Do chomáin sé leis na ba chun go dtí gur dheachaidh sé go dtí an choill agus d'fhéach ar an gclaí agus ar an gcoill go maith. Níor leig sé aon bhó isteach an lá san agus thug sé iad go léir abhaile gan aon cheann i n-easnamh ortha. Bhí an máistir ana-bhaoch de i dtaobh a fheabhais aodhair sé iad an lá san agus thug sé a shuipéar do.Ar maidin amáireach, do chomáin Seán leis na ba arís agus lean an máistir é. "Anois," ars' an máistir, "tá cúirt an rí annso thíos le m'ais. Tá fios curtha aige orm agus caithfidh mé dul ag triall air inniu agus ná tabhair aon leith-sceal dom gan na ba go léir bheith agam anocht." "Ná bíodh eagla ort," arsa Seán, "ná go mbeidh siad agamsa slán cruinn romhat." D'fhág an máistir annsan é agus comáin Seán leis a bha fé dhein na coille agus, ó bhí fhios aige ná beadh an máistir sa bhaile an lá san, d'fhoscail sé bearna i gclaí na coille agus scaoil sé na ba go leir isteach innti.

 

 

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29. He carried on with the cows until he came to the wood and he gave both fence and wood a good looking over. He let no cow in there that day and he took them all home without any being missing. The master was very grateful to him for the excellence of his care for them that day and he gave him his supper. Next morning, Seán drove out the cows again and the master followed him. "Now," he said, "the king's court is near me Sean breaks the fence

here and he has sent for me today and I don't want any excuse for all the cows not being there tonight." "No need to fear," said Seán, " I'll have them all safe and sound for you." The master left him there and Seán drove the cows towards the wood and since he knew that the master wouldn't be home that day, he opened a gap in the fence and drove in all the cows.

30. Is gairid a bhíodar ann aige nuair airigh sé chuige fothram sa sa choill agus tháinig athach mór na dtrí gceann, na dtrí hhe 3 headed Giant

mbeann, na dtrí muineál fada ramhra ar aon cholainn. "Greadadh chughat, a sprealairín ghranna!" ars' an athach,"cad do bheir duit teacht annseo ag chúmangas ar m'abhalóirdín ? Nó cad é an cor is coir dom a thabhairt duit ?" "Briathar féin," arsa Seán, " an cor is doigh leat a thabharfá dom, b'fhéidir gur b'é a thabhairfainn duit." "Acht má tánn tú i ndochas mar sin," ars' an t-athach, "tabharfáidh mé ceart gaiscigh dhuit. Cia'ca is fearr leat iomraiscail chruaidh cholganta nó gabháil do chlaidhtibh geara glasa i mbun 's i mbarr asnaidheachaibh ar a chéile ?" "Ní fearr liom aon taobh aca," arsa Seán. "Cad is fearr leat ?" "Is fearr liom mo chleith," arsa Seán.

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30. He didn't have them long in there before he heard a noise in the wood and there came a giant with three heads, and three thick necks on one body. "Blast you, you useless little fool!" said the giant. "What gives you permission to come here encroaching on my Punk and grass

little orchard ? Or what punishment would be proper that I should give you?" "Upon my word," said Seán, " whatever you decide to give me, maybe I'll give you!" "But if you are so full of hope like that," said the giant, "I will give you choice of combat. Which do you prefer, cruel wrestling or fighting with sharp swords and hacking at the joints on each other ?" "I wouldn't like any of them," said Seán, "I prefer my club !"

 

 

 

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31. "'Seadh, biodh sí agat," ars' an t-athach, ag déanamh ar Sheán le n-a chlaidheamh. Do léim Seán uaidh nuair a tharrac sé an iarracht air. Chuaidh sé do'n tarna léim isteach arís ar an athac agus do bhuail sé le na chleith é sar a raibh uain ag an athach an tarna hiarracht a tharach agus do leag sé é. "'Seadh, anois," arsa Seán," dá mhéid léimreach a bh'i ó chianaibh ort, tánn tú macánta go maith anois agus bainfeadsa na cínn díot ar mo shuaimhneas." "Ná bain mo chínn ná mo choimead beatha Punks and grass

dhíom," ars' an t-athach, "agus tabharfaidh mé dhuit an t-each caol donn atá agam agus mo chulaith airm agus eadaigh agus an tslaitín draoiochta atá annseo i bpoll mo chluaise." "Tabhair dhom an tslaitín," arsa Seán. Do thug. "Cad do dhéanfaidh sí seo ?" ars' eisean. "Má chaillfeá do chulaith airm agus eadaigh," ars' an t-athach, "dhéanfadh sí iad a chur ort sa bhfoirm chéanna arís le buille dhi bhualadh ort féin."

31. "Right then, have it your own way!" said the giant, making towards Seán with his swords. Seán jumped back from him when he made a swing at him. He jumped in again on the giant and hit him with his club before the giant could make a second attempt and knocked him down. "Now," said Seán, "How ever much jumping about you did a short while ago, you're as good as gold now and I'll cut your heads off when I feel like it." "Don't cut my heads off nor take my life," said the giant, "and I'll give you the fine brown steed that I have and my suit of armour and clothes and the little magic wand that is in my earhole." "Give me the magic wand," said Seán, and the giant gave it to him. "What will it do ?" he asked. " If you lose your weapons and suit of armour," said the giant, "it will restore them exactly the same as before if you only give yourself a tap with it."

32. "Beidh an tslaitín agus do chinn agam," arsa Seán. Le na linn sin, bhuail sé buille d'á chleith i dteorainn na gcínn agus na muiníl ar an athach agus bhain sé na trí cínn de de'n iarracht sin. Tharraing sé gad trí phlocaibh na dtrí gceann agus do croch sé i n-airde ar gheag crainn iad. Thainig sé i ndiaidh a bha ansan agus chomáin sé leis iad as an gcoill mar do bhí eagla air go raibh iomarca féir ithte aca, bhi an feir comh borb san. Chomáin sé leis abhaile iad agus rachta pleasca ortha. Thainig an máistir isteach agus d'fhiafruigh sé de Sheán a' raibh na ba go léir aige . Duirt Seán go raibh. "Is maith an buachaill," ars' an máistir. "Ní maith," arsa Seán," acht tá ochras orm. Tabhair mo shuipéir dom," Do thug agus chuaidh Seán a chodladh. Ar maidin amáireach, nuair a bhí Seán ag comáint a bha amach, duirt an máistir leis go gcaithfeadh sé féin dul go dtí an rí arís inniu agus go raibh súil aige go dtabharfadh sé aireachas maith do na ba. "O, ná biodh aon eagla ort," arsa Seán, "mar gheall ar na ba."

 

 

 

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32. "I'll have both the magic wand and your heads," said Seán. With that, he cut the three heads off with one slash and then hung them by a rope to the branch of a tree. He went back to his cows then and drove them out of the wood because he feared that they might eat too much grass, it was so rich. He drove them home and they were almost Giants

bursting. The master came and asked Seán if he had all the cows. Seán said that he had. "You're a good boy," said the master. "Oh, I'm not, but I'm hungry. Give me my supper." When he had eaten it, he went to bed. Next morning, when Seán was driving out the cows, the master said that he himself must go to the king again today and that he hoped that he could look after the cows well once again. "Oh, never fear," said Seán.

We would like to acknowledge that, because of unavoidable condensing, necessary for fitting this tale into the space available, some alteration in plot has had to be made.

Courtesy of Jack & Vivian, IrishPage.com February 25, 2022
Ar mbuiochas le Caoimhghín Ó Brolcháin
ar son a chabhair leis an nGaedhilge

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