Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/181

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The European Sky -God. 169

divine tree of the solar king {Bran, Cuchulain, Tadg^) are but the king's predecessors in their bird form. This conjecture sounds perhaps over-bold. But the solitary- man, whom Mael-Duin found on a distant island, said to him : ' The birds that you see in the trees are the souls of my family, both women and men.' ^

One further inference from the tales of the Otherworld. The silver apple-branch {Bran, Cormac) and the magic cup {Cormac, Tadg) possessed by the king were somehow bound up with his life : if he lost them, he would die.^ Now Mael-Duin subsisted for 120 days on his apple- branch^ and Connla fed continually upon the Elysian apple; -5 also Cormac and Conn drank of the Elysian cup.^ Hence we may suppose that the branch and the cup were believed to furnish divine meat and drink to the king, whose life would naturally depend on their preserva- tion. It is probable that some palaces, if not all, had an outward token of this celestial diet in a tree with fruit or berries, which grew either actually inside the building or in close proximity to it.

The Story of Conn-eda "^ tells how Conn-eda, son of King Conn and eponym of Connaught, was so beloved and respected by the people of the West that the common oath of the country was by his head. Through the machinations of his step-mother he was sent on a dangerous journey to the Firbolg king of Lough Erne, and bidden to bring back the three golden apples^ of health that grew on a crystal tree in the midst of the king's pleasure-garden. Conn-eda succeeded in his quest

^See also my next article. ^D'Arbois Vipopie celiique p. 478.

'^ Supra pp. 153, 155. ^ Supra p. 156.

^ Supra pp. 147, 154. ^Sjtpra pp. 152, 158.

Folk-lore Record ii. 180 ff.

^ Cp. the three golden apples of the Hesperides brought by the sons of

Tuirenn as part of a fine due to Lug (Lady Gregory Gods and Fighting Men p. 33 ff-).