GEMMA GRANT continues her series on the myths and legends of Ireland


The king ordered his men to make camp near the water’s edge. The day’s hunting had been good and Conn Cead Catha (Conn of the Hundred Battles) retired to his tent with his son Conla.

Shortly before dawn, Conn awoke startled, to the sound of strange whispering, reverberating around the camp. Looking around the tent, his son Conla, was nowhere to be seen.

Quickly rising to his feet, he was met at the tent door by Aodh, his champion warrior.
“My lord,” he said. “The men are on high alert. The voice reeks of sorcery and Conla is at the water’s edge, talking to someone we cannot see.”
“Fetch Kernann, my Druid,” Conn commanded.
“Right away, my lord.”

Conn, with his guards in tow, made their way to the water’s edge. Before them stood Conla, with a strange, shimmering, aura surrounding his body.

“I have never seen one so fair, so beautiful,” they heard him say.

Conn made his way to his son. Placing his hand on his shoulder, he attempted to rouse him from what appeared to be a trance. The boy was staring out to sea. His body, like the roots of a mighty oak tree, rooted firmly to the ground. The voice of the young woman was much clearer now.

“My handsome Conla, why wait for years to rule this mortal kingdom, full of violence and death? With me, you can rule forever in a land that knows no death, where you will never age and your beauty, that has captivated me, shall last forever.”

Conn’s concern for his beloved son, intensified. The Outer-World voice, with its ethereal quality, was effecting the senses of the listener, to the point where Conn himself, felt its hypnotic power.
Managing to free himself from the snare of the Woman of Faery, he spoke into the space separating him from the banshee.

“You will not take my son,” he ordered, with a voice reserved for battle.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own