Irish Mythology

The Voyage of Maeldun

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

A giant emerged from a forge and threw a huge ball of glowing iron towards their ship.

Maeldun is fated to sail for a long time around an enchanted ocean that he finds full of strange and wonderful islands, as he searches for the Ireland that he has been blown away from in a storm.

On one island, two members of his crew are sent ashore where they discover a huge racecourse. The impressions of horses’ hooves left in the turf are each the size of a boat’s sail. The men return to their ship and they make quickly for the open sea, but there is a great noise of shouting in the distance and they can see behind them some giant horses galloping around the racecourse.

On another island they find a giant shepherd, on another, giant ants, on yet another, a giant herdsman.

On another island still, Maeldun and his crew can hear sounds from a great forge long before they come to shore, and voices carrying in the wind: 'Small children is what they look like,' they hear. 'Out there on the sea, in a little wooden feeding-bowl.' They row quickly away, but not before a giant emerges from the forge and throws a huge ball of glowing iron at them, making the sea boil behind them as it lands with an almighty splash!

Story fragments recounted 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


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