Northern Ireland

From "Ireland in the Summer of the Ceasefire"
by Kevin McKiernan
Santa Barbara Independent, September 15, 1994

MacAneely resolved to kill Balor, but a Druid friend of the chieftain advised him the giant was protected by a prophecy: Balor could only be killed by his grandson.  Balor had no grandchildren, but he did have an unmarried daughter.  So the giant ordered that his daughter, whose name was Eithne, be imprisoned in a tower at the end of the island, a place called Tor Mor (which is visible today from the mainland).  A dozen matrons were sent to guard her.  She was not to see or hear of the male species.

The years went by and Eithne grew into a beautiful princess.  MacAneely made his way to Tory Island.  Accompanied by a Druid who had disguised the chieftain as a woman, MacAneely gained entrance to the tower on Tor Mor.  There, the Druid cast a spell on the 12 matrons, sending all into a long, deep sleep.  MacAneely changed back into a man, whereupon Eithne immediately fell in love with him.  When MacAneely finally returned to the mainland, the princess was, as the story goes, with child.

Not one child, as it turned out, but triplets.  All boys.  When Balor found out, he ordered his new grandsons drowned.  Guards wrapped them in a large sheet and brought them to a whirlpool.  But a pin holding an end to the sheet broke open and one child escaped (near Gortahork today is an inlet the name of which translates as Port of the Pin).  The boy was brought up secretly by his uncle, MacAneely's brother, who was a blacksmith.

Outraged that the chieftain had fathered Eithne's children, Balor went to the mainland to find him.  First, he disabled MacAneely with one look from his evil eye.  Then the giant laid the chieftain's head across a big white stone and sliced it off at the neck with one blow from his sword.




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