Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/184

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172 The European Sky -God.

— the great tree under which the O'Briens were inaugu- rated — was rooted out of the earth and cut up, by Malachy, king of Ireland; and at nil, that the Ulidians led an army to Tullaghoge, the inauguration place of the O'Neills, and cut down the old trees ; for which Niall O'Lough-lin afterwards exacted a retribution of 3000 cows.' Dr. Joyce goes on to prove by the help of place-names, etc. {e.g. Lisnabilla in Antrim and Rathvilly in Carlow, both meaning ' the fort of the ancient tree ') that such sacred trees were of fairly frequent occurrence. That the life of the king was believed to be bound up with that of his bile may be gathered, not only from cases already quoted of vital sympathy between the king and the tree,^ but also from an explicit statement to that effect in the tale of Blaiman, son of Applet of which more anon.^

The belief that the king's life depends on the preser- vation of a particular tree growing in or near a castle, or of a particular goblet in the king's possession, has lingered on into modern times. Mr. Minto F. Johnston, in an article on ' Some Famous Family " Lucks " ' contri- buted to The Wide World Magazine for June 1905,* writes as follows : ' In two notable cases the family mascot is a tree. The foundations of Cawdor Castle, near Nairn, are built round a hawthorn tree,^ and there is an ancient

^Folk-lore xvii. 68.

2 J. Curtin Hero-Tales of Ireland London 1894 p. 373 ff-

^ Vide my next article.

4 Wide World xv. 244 ff. with photographs of the Cawdor hawthorn, the Howth elm, etc.

^A writer in the Evening Stajidard and St. James' Gazette for Feb. 13, 1906, says : ' The story is that Thane William, when he decided to build himself a stronghold, was told in a dream to put his treasure on the back of an ass, start it going, and wherever it should halt there to build his castle. The donkey lay down to rest under the thorn tree, and round that tree the building was erected.'

At Huntingfield in Suffolk ' the great hall was built round six straight