Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/179

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The European Sky -God. 167

red gold.^ In the story of Etain Echraide, daughter of Ailill, who was re-born as Etain, daughter of Etar, Midir her original husband won her back from Eochaid Airem her second husband, and they escaped together in the form of two swans.^ Ultimately Eochaid stormed the fairy palace of Midir and recovered Etain, who bore him a daughter likewise called Etain. This last Etain was married to Cormac, king of Ulster, and, like her mother, bore him but one daughter. The girl, exposed by Cormac, was found by a herdsman of Eterscel, king of Tara, and brought up in seclusion by him. Before Eterscel could wed her, she was visited by Nemglam, king of the birds, who flew in at the window and left his bird-skin on the floor. Thereafter a babe was born to her, Conaire the supposed son of Eterscel, on whom Nemglam laid the gess or taboo that no bird must ever be killed by him. Conaire's own reign at Tara was called by Nemglam a ' bird reign.' It was, in fact, the ideal reign of an Irish king. We read that 'there was great plenty in Ireland through his reign ; seven ships coming at the one time to Inver Colptha, and corn and nuts up to the knees in every harvest, and the trees bending from the weight of fruit, and the Buais and the Boinne full of fish every summer, and that much law and peace and good-will among the people, that each one thought the other's voice as sweet as the strings of harps. And the wolves themselves were held by hostages not to kill more than one calf in every pen. There was no thunder^ or storm in his reign, and from spring

^ Nutt Voyage of Brati ii. 39 ff. Cp. the two birds linked together by a chain of red gold, which were attacked by Cuchulain but dived under water and afterwards in the form of two women (Fand and Liban) horse- whipped the hero (Lady Gregory Cuchulain of Muirthemne p. 276 ff. and the literature cited supra p. 148 n. i).

^ Nutt Voyage of Bran ii. 47 ff.

^For thunder connected with the Irish king cp. S. H. O'Grady Silva Gadelica ii. 287 • Birth of Cormac ' : 'At the boy's birth a report as of