The Celtic Literature Collective

Finn and the Man in the Tree

When the fian were at Badamair on the brink of the Suir, Cúldub the son of Ua Birgge came out of the fairy-knoll on the plain of Femen and carried off their cooking from them. For three nights he did thus to them. The third time however Finn knew and went before him to the fairy-knoll on Femen. Finn laid hold of him as he went into the knoll, so that he fell yonder. When he withdrew his hand, a woman met him [?] coming out of the knoll with a dripping vessel in her hand, having just distributed drink, and she jammed the door against the knoll, and Finn squeezed his finger between the door and the post. When he put his finger into his mouth. When he took it out again he began to chant, the imbas illumines him and he said [Here follows an untranslatable ‘rhetoric’].

Some time afterwards they (i.e. the fian) carried off captive women from Dún Iascaig in the land of the Dési. A beautiful maiden was taken by them. Finn’s mind desired the woman for himself. She set her heart a servant whom they had, even Derg Corra son of Ua Daigre. For this was his was his practice. While food was being cooked by them, the lad jumped to and fro across the cooking hearth. It was for that the maid­en loved him. And one day she said to him that he should come to her and lie with her. Derg Corra did not accept that on account of Finn

She incites Finn against him and said: ‘Let us set upon him by force!’ Thereupon Finn said to him: ‘Go hence,’ said he, ‘out of my sight, and thou shalt have a truce of three days and three nights, and after that beware of me!’

Then Derg Corra went into exile and took up his abode in a wood and used to go about on shanks of deer for his lightness. One day as Finn was in the wood seeking him he saw a man in the top of a tree, a blackbird on his right shoulder and in his left hand a white vessel of bronze, filled with water, in which was a skittish trout, and a stag at the foot of the tree. And this was the practice of the man, cracking nuts; and he would give half the kernel of a nut to the blackbird that was on his right shoulder while he would himself eat the other half; ~ and he would take an apple out of the bronze vessel that was in his left hand, divide it in two, throw one half to the stag that was at the foot of the tree, and then eat the other half himself. And on it he would drink a sip of the bronze vessel that was in his hand, so that he and the trout and the stag and the blackbird drank together. Then his followers asked of Finn who he in the tree was, for they did not recognise him on account of the hood of disguise which he wore.

Then Finn put his thumb into his mouth. When he took it out again, his imbas illumines him and he chanted an incantation and said: “'Tis Derg Corra son of Ua Daigre,’ said he, ‘that is in the tree.’

Revue Celtique, vol. xv, 1904