Lanty and the Larragh-a-Dhawn
by V. V. V.

"I tell the tale as it was told to me."


There was once a king in Ulster whose name was Desmond. He had seven daughters and one son, and the son's name was Lanty. When Lanty was 21 years old the king, who was poor, said to him one day: "Lanty, me b’y, yea will have to be afther makin' your fortin' now, for 'tis little enough Oi have to give ye."

"Well," said Lanty, "'tis little chance Oi have of foindin' a fortin', for I niver yit saw wan, but Oi'll do my best."

"Start to-morrow morn, Lanty," said the king, "for the sooner ye foind yere fortin the sooner ye’ll have it to kape us all on."

"Very well, sor," said Lanty, and then went and told his plans to his sisters, who all agreed that to seek his fortune was the best thing for him to do.

He set off early next morning, taking with him a stout shillalah and a cake his sisters had baked for him.

When it was midday he looked at the cake and he said to himself: "If Oi ate this now, Oi'll be hungry tomorrow. But if Oi kape it till to-morrow, sure Oi'll have a faste thin, and enj'y it more for the appetoite Oi'll have."

So Lanty helped himself to a drink at a spring nearby and went on his way. After he had gone some miles he met larragh-a-dhawn, a little hairy man about 2ft. high, but as strong as ten full-grown giants.

“Good afternoon, Lanty," said the larragh-a-dhawn.

"Good day, sor," replied Lanty, "and how did know me name?"

"Why," said the larragh-a-dhawn, surprised at the question, "Oi've known ye since ye wor born. Will yez plaze give me a bit av that cake?"

Lanty handed him the cake, saying: "Tis a fair soize, and take the best av it."

The larragh-a-dhawn took it and ate it all in one gulp, though it was as large as a frying pan.

"Yez have ate me cake," said Lanty with tears in his eyes.

Sure, ye tould me to ate the best av it, and it was all so good that Oi ate it all for fear av offending the part Oi’d lave,” said the larragh-a-dhawn. "And now, me b’y," he continued, what brings ye here?”

"Oi've come to make me fortin'," said Lanty.

"Oh," said the larragh-a-dhawn, “that’s aisy to foind. Just beyant the nixt river lives Crom-a-boo, a king in Munster. “Tis he is the fine figure av a man, and the great wrastler. He wants his barn clared av hay that’s got wet, and’s in dhanger av blasin’ up. No one dhare tooch it to fork it out, but the king’ll give all yes ax if ye’ll take it out. Now, Oi was there when the barn was built, 300 years ago, and all yez have to do is to take the bottom out av it and the hay will fall through, So come now an’ we’ll be there before twelve to-morrow, and thin ax him for the job and he will give it to yez.”

They traveled all night and came at last to Crom-a-boo’s castle, and Lanty went up to see the king.

“Hollo there,” said Crom-a-boo, a great redheaded giant, as soon as he saw Lanty. “What do yez want, and who are ye?”

“Oi want a job,” said Lanty, “and I’m a king’s son.”

“No doubt,” said the king, “there’s many sitch. Oi’m wan mesilf. But if you want a job Oi have wan here, and if yez do it, Oi’ll give yes what ye ax.”

“Oi’d loike a meal,” said Lanty, who was very hungry.

“Ye shall have wan if ye do the job well,” said the king. Then he took Lanty out to the barn and told what he had already learned from the larragh-a-dhawn, and gave him three hours to do the work in.

“’Tis a big job intoirely,” said Lanty, “but Oi belave Oi can do it.”

Crom-a-boo returned to the castle, leaving Lanty to empty the barn, and no sooner had he gone than in came the larragh-a-dhawn, smiling round to the back of his neck, as the saying is.

“Go up to the castle, me b’y,” he said, “and get a pitchfork.”

Lanty obeyed, and when he returned the barn was empty, save for the larragh-a-dhawn who was sitting in a corner.

“Lie down and have a shlape, Lanty,” he said; “the king will be down soon, and he’ll know ye’d want a rest.”

So Lanty lay down and presently the king came in.

“This is foine, indade!” he said; “’tis a broth av a b’y he is. Oi wonder can he wrastle? If he can wrastle me Oi’ll marry him to me daughter Eileen, and Oi’ll bring her down now to see him whoile he’s ashlape.”

When the king had gone the larragh-a-dhawn-who had been invisible to the king-crept up to Lanty and awoke him saying:

“Lanty, me b’y, yer fortin’s made,” said he, telling him what the king had said. “Now,” said he, “when the king brings down his daughter pritind to be ashlape, and harken what they say, and if the king offers to wrastle yes take him and Oi’ll be there to help yes.”

The king soon returned to the barn with his daughter Eileen, and Lanty seemed still to be asleep.

“Isn’t he a lovely b’y?” said the king. “Will yes marry him if he can wrastle me and throw me?”

“Faith an’ I will,” replied Eileen, “for he has fine looks.”

They stood speaking for some time, and at last Crom-a-boo said, “Oi’ll wake him now and wrastle him.”

“And-and-father dear-don’t hurt him, plase,” said Eileen, for her father was the best wrastler in all Ireland.

As soon as Eileen had gone up to the house her father shook Lanty, and said to him, “Do you wrastle?”

“A thrifle,” replied Lanty.

“Come on then,” said the king, “and have a turn wid me.”

“Indade and Oi will not, for Oi’m wanting me dinner,” said Lanty, who was now almost famished.

“Shure a bit av wrastlin’ will give yez an appetite for it,” said Crom-a-boo.

“Tis appetite Oi have enough av and dinner too little av, but Oi’ll wrastle ye for me dinner,” said Lanty, and they got ready for the fray.

As Lanty stood facing the king he caught sight of the larragh-a-dhawn standing behind him, and as they closed the little fellow rushed in and seizing the king by the knees lifted him and flung him against the roof of the stable with such force as to break a rafter.

When Crom-a-boo reached the ground he sat up and said as he rubbed his head: “Did yez throw me?”

“It looked loike it,” said Lanty-which was quite true.

“And, bedad, it felt loike it too,” said the king, “Oi’ve had me fill av fightin’. Come up to the castle and have dinner.

As Lanty was entering the door of the castle he felt a twitch at his coat-tails, and looking round he saw the larragh-a-dhawn.

“Lanty, me b’y,” whispered the little man, “don’t be either forgettin’ that Oi’m hungry as well as yerself.”

“Shlip in behind me,” said Lanty. Oi’ll see ye git a boite or two.”

When Lanty had entered the castle the king conducted him to a room where there was a table covered with food enough for twenty men and plenty of cider to drink as well.

“Now,” said the king, “there’s a faste for yes. Just set down and ate all av it and ye will be a good ‘ater.”

As soon as Crom-a-boo had left the room Lanty reserved enough for his own hunger and thirst and gave the rest to the larragh-a-dhawn, who finished off every bit of the potatoes, turkeys, geese, and ham, as if he had eaten nothing for a year, and drank up the cider to the very last drop.

Lanty was just picking the bones of his turkey when the king came back to the room.

“Tare an’ ouna,” said he, “ye’re a grand ‘ater, and ye foight as well as ye ate. Will yes marry Eileen in a month’s time?

“Oi will,” said Lanty.

“Very well,” said the king, “Oi’ll tell her to be ready wid her new gown.”

Now there was a prince named Shaun Dhas (Black John), so called because of his swarthy skin and dark hair. Shaun was in love with Eileen, although Eileen could not bear the sight of him.

Shaun Dhas was very angry when he heard that Lanty was to marry Eileen, and he came to see Crom-a-boo to complain about it.

“’Tis a fine thing for you,” he said, “to marry Eileen to this fellow from nowhere, and not to a peacable neighbor loike me.”

“He’s a fine figure av a lad,” replied the king, “and a great wrastler.”

“If he’s a wrastler,” said Shaun, “let him thry a turn wid me, and whoever wins marries the girl.” Shaun was one of the greatest bullies in the country, and the king thought he would be none the worse of a throw.

“Why, then,” said he, “let him have a thry wid you Oi will, and welcome.”

Now, when Lanty heard of this he did not know what to do at all, at all.

He wandered out into the park, and was wringing his hands and saying: “Och, and Oi’m done for. Oi’m done for this toime, Oi’m to be murthered dead by that black rascal Shaun, and Oi’ll lose Eileen, and me loife into the bargain. Oh what will become of me? Shure Oi wisht the larragh-a-dhawn was here---”

“Well, Lanty, me bould b’y. What do yes want wid me?” said a well-known voice, and, turning round Lanty saw the larragh-a-dhawn whom he had not met since the day they dined so well together.

“Och,” said Lanty, “Oi’m done and double done, and done up, Oi’m to be kilt by a great black giant, Shaun Dhas, and all for his being in love wid my Eileen.”

“Whisht now,” said the little man, “do you mane Shaun Dhas wid the big head, who lives beyant the river?”

“Oi do,” said Lanty.

“Well,” said the larragh-a-dhawn, “if that’s all what are yez croyin’ about? Oi thought it was something sarious.”

“And is not that sarious?” said Lanty. “You may say a joke in my being killed, but if Oi die Oi’d be the last to laugh at it.”

“Look, now,” said the larragh-a-dhawn, “whin Shaun closes wid you say to yourself, private and confidential like, ‘The stringth av the larragh-a-dhawn be wid me,’ and yez will have my stringth added to yer own.”

“Thank ye,” said Lanty, much relieved. “If Oi come off best yes shall have an ox roasted whole, and an acre av praties for yer dhinner.”

“Indade an’ Oi’ll be glad av it,” replied his friend, “for Oi must ate to kape me stringth up.”

The eventful day came at last, and all the court, the townspeople, and the two combatants went to a green lawn by the river bank, where the wrestling match was to take place. The larragh-a-dhawn was there with the rest, but he was invisible to all save Lanty.

Soon the two men got ready for the fray, and as they stood on the bank the contrast between the slight golden-haired Lanty and the big dark giant Shaun was great indeed.

“Are yes ready?” said the king, “Thin-wan, two, thray-close!”

Just at the word “close” Lanty whispered to himself: “The strength av the larragh-a-dhawn be wid me.”

No sooner had he uttered the words than he felt a tingling in his arms, and as Shaun rushed at him he seized him by the waist and threw him over his head with such force that he stunned him.

“Are ye satisfied?” asked Lanty when Shaun Dhas had come to himself.

“Oi am.” said he, “and Oi wouldn’t take another fall loike that for the sake of any girl in Oireland.”

Shaun Dhas was helped home and did not appear at Lanty’s wedding with Eileen, who said she was never so glad in all her life to see wrestling as when Lanty threw Shaun Dhas.

Lanty kept his promise to the larragh-a-dhawn, who afterwards went away to seek fresh adventures in another part.

The old King in Ulster was very much pleased with his daughter-in-law, and he and Crom-a-boo agreed that Lanty and Eileen should have the two kingdoms when they themselves were done with them. The young king and queen were very kind to the good sisters whose cake had first of all won the good will of the larragh-a-dhawn




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