Irish Mythology

The Voyage of Maeldun

12th century, Old Irish, Lebor na hUidre (Book of the Dun Cow). Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.

Maeldun came to an island with sheer cliffs over which hung the boughs of apple trees.

Maeldun has been blown by a storm into an enchanted sea, in an ancient narrative whose earliest surviving text is the Old Irish Book of the Dun Cow, written at the turn of the twelfth century. Among the islands he encounters:

An island of women, where he and his crew live for many months in fulfillment and happiness before making a number of bids for freedom and finally managing to escape:

An island in which there is a fortress accessed by a glass bridge, ruled over by a lady who possesses a pail in which a man will find inside it whatever he most desires to eat or drink, and this food will never fail:

An island in which an old eagle arrives to eat the berries from a branch that it has carried there and to bathe in its lake, after which, with the help of some companions, it is rejuvenated and flies away again as a young eagle:

An island with sheer cliffs over which hang the boughs of apple trees whose fruit, even though Maeldun and his crew gather only one branch as they sail beneath in their boat, sustains them for forty days.

Story fragments from: Rolleston, Thomas, 1911. Myths of the Celtic Race. The Gresham Publishing Company. Reprinted 1998. Myths and Legends of the Celts. Senate, an imprint of Tiger Books International plc. Chapter VII. The Voyage of Maeldun, pp 309–31.

See for yourself

Máel Dúin – Wikipedia

Lebor na hUidre (Book of the Dun Cow) – Wikipedia

Thomas W H Rolleston – Wikipedia

Apples and pomegranates

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