Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/449

This page needs to be proofread.

The Eicropean Sky -God. 433

Irish king was hedged about by all manner of tabus and religious restrictions/ his active duties as defender of the sacred tree devolved upon the king of the Fianna. In this connexion it is noteworthy that the standards of the Fianna described in The Lay of the Sixteen Chiefs, a poem by Oisin contained in a manuscript of the fourteenth century, included several trees such as the mountain-ash in full bloom, the ever-green yew (Diarmuid's colours), the furze shrub, etc., while that of Finn himself was called Gal-Greine, ' Beam of the Sun ' or ' Sun-burst,' and represented the sun with its rays.-

If Finn was thus solar champion, he must needs have kept his physical powers in a state of perfection. Now we learn from The Festivities at the Hoiise of Conan"^ that Finn in his youth, wearing skins of the deer and roebuck and hence called Giolla-na-g-Croiceann, 'Wight of the Hides,' made his way to Luachar Deghadh in county Kerry, where he won as his bride Donait, daughter of Daire (the ' Oak ') of Sith Daire, by leaping from cliff to cliff of a certain deep valley called Brice Bloighe, and that she bound him under an obligation to perform that leap every year. Mr. O'Kearney, commenting on the tale,^ says: ' There is a tradition extant which ascribes the cause of Fionn's death to his neglect of performing that annual rite or duty, and another which records his death in attempting

iMiss E. Hull, 'Old Irish Tabus, or Geasa' in Folk-lore xii. 41 ff., has shown that e.g. King Conchobar, though he was reputed to be the wisest of men and the bravest of warriors, was not as a rule permitted either to pro- nounce judgment or to fight in person.

2 Transactions of the Ossianic Society for 18^7 Dublin i860 v. 160, 207. Cp. Miss Brooke Reliques of Irish Poetry Dublin 1789 p. 58 : ' Brighr waving from its staff, in air, Gall-grena high was rais'd. With gems that India's wealth declare. In radiant pomp it blaz'd.' ^ Transcutions of the Ossianic Society for 18J4 ii. 129 ff.

^ lb. ii. 130 n. 6, cp. 30 f.

2 E