The Ettropean Sky -God. 429
Finn in a chamber cut out in the heart of a great oak-tree : after five years spent in the oak she took him out and taught him to walk ; then she pursued him down-hill with a switch, and he pursued her up-hill with it, till at the end of three days he had become a great runner. Argyllshire tales^ relate that Cumhal's sister Los Lurgann (' Speedy Foot ') got her brother, a joiner dwelling in Ulster wood, to fashion a house for her in one of the trees, where she lived with her infant charge. They pursued each other round the tree with switches of hawthorn, till he learnt to run with great speed. ' She then taught him to leap by digging a hole in the ground, which was gradually getting deeper, till at last he could spring up a wall from a hole which reached to his breast.'
Various tales are current as to the manner in which Finn became king of the Fianna. According to the Irish folk-tale- already cited, Finn came one day to a dense forest in which timber was being felled for a royal dun. He was told that this dwi was attacked every evening at nightfall by an old hag and her three sons who burnt it with torches ; that the best champions in Erin, having tried in vain to save it, were then in the king's dungeons awaiting decapitation ; and that the king had promised his only daughter to any man who should save the dun. Finn did so and slew the nocturnal foes, but chose as his reward the condemned champions, who became his Fianna. According to The Colloquy with the Ancients^ for twenty- three years in succession Allien, son of Midhna, had come to Tara at Samain, lulled every one to sleep with his magical music, and then burnt the whole town with a
^ Rev. J. G. Campbell The Fians London 1891 ( Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition: Argyllshire Series, iv) pp. I7f. , 24, Lady Gregory Gods and Fighting Men p. 1 59 f.
^ Curtin Myths and Folk- Lore of Ireland p. 213 ff.
^S. H. O'Grady Silva Gadelica ii. 142 ff.. Lady Gregory Gods and Fighting Aien p. i64ff.