the story of Cuchulainn
Champion of Eireann
"Some say that long ago, when the Eirish Sea was only two rivers, you could see people on the other side. There was snow that never melted. The Ancient Ones ruled the land."
A tracking shot moves alongside the forested shore, viewing it from a lake. The forest is old growth coastal rainforest. The camera is very close to the shore, and as it moves we see every detail of the inner depths.
"The Faery kind lived openly in the old days, all of four feet tall and practiced in many sciences. To them the forest was a holy place. Everything that grew was sacred, from the tiniest shoots to the giant red cedar. Every animal that lived there was revered, every creature in the ocean, every drop of water, each handful of the good moist earth that smelled like new life when you held it close.
"The silver birch branch was their sign. Four thousand years passed. The earth warmed and cooled, and with the return of the clouds came the Gaels, a people of bronze and blood. Tall and pale they were, with hair like fire, fierce and terrible to see. And the red cedar branch was their sign."
At this point in the camera's sideways tracking, it passes an abandoned Faery calendar ring, reclaimed by the forest.
"The little people had killed one of their kind, a black haired one who happened upon the island. Red, black, blond and brown, the Gaels attacked together, and when they were finished the little people lived deep in the tombs of their ancestors while the strangers outraged them, defiling the Faery rings with blood.
"Wave after wave of the new people came, and they named this place Eireaan, after the one Faery who had welcomed them. And so they are called Eirish.
"Now the same thing that I will tell you happened on both the islands, for the Gaels are all the same kind wherever they live. When the Eirish came they called the little people 'the Lordly Ones', and though they might have been laughing at the time, the Faery were before them in this land and knew magic and the ways of the forest. As time went by the Lordly Ones went where they liked and did as they pleased, and no one could tell them no, or stand in their way, or hold them against their will, or the Faery might turn the magic of the forest against him. The Gaels warred endlessly among themselves and hung the enemy heads on their war chariots, but they never warred against the Lordly Ones.
"Then came a good time on this island. For ferocious as they were, the Eirish grew to love the Faery and were fond of them. At last and at last a gentleness rose in their wild hearts, and they never lost patience with the strange ways of the Lordly Ones. They even learned to be humble a little, for the Faery were always a teasing people. And little by little, laughter and gladness and gaiety came to the angry newcomers. For it was an awesome greatness in that warrior nation that fear had no part in their decisions, however strong it might be. It was their courage, as indeed it was the Faery's courage also, to accept the power and mercy of others with dignity, and to realize they could not know everything.
"By the strength of that virtue among all their sins, these fierce and savage people rose to heights of glory upon which the Faery gazed in wonder. They could love what they feared, for fear meant nothing to them, and they loved whom they chose with the same passion as they fought. And these strangers found a home in the hearts of the Faery, for they had earned their undying devotion, and Faery eyes that see beyond seeing knew the greatness that was theirs. And maybe no one else had loved them, and maybe no one else had wanted them, but the Faery loved them and the Faery wanted them.
"A new age was to come when the Gaels would mingle with the little people, and the little people would mingle with the Gaels, until it was hard to tell who was which. Sometimes parents were surprised by babies who looked different from them, and then everyone would laugh and recall the time when the two nations had feared each other."
As the voice continues a mist rises and fills the frame.
"The glory became part of the magic, and the magic became part of the glory, and no one was afraid any more."
During these words the mist has begun to clear and the camera pans vertically up a steep rock face, dripping with ferns and moss. Though this becomes steadily more visible, wisps of mist still linger. The camera's view reaches the top of the rocky overhang during the words that follow, and tilts upward to rest upon a host of mounted warriors in the full battle dress of the ancient Gaels with their characteristic long shields and slotted spears held upright, motionlessly looking down at the camera. We see them from a steep angle below, and the rainforest rises dark green behind them. They come into full view only as the final words are spoken.
"It was when the Romans were beginning to stir in the southern lands, that true greatness settled on the Gaelic newcomers. For this was the time of Cuchulainn, gift from the Lordly Ones, Champion of Eireaan -one man who brought together two worlds."
based upon the Uillean Mythological Cycle
from the Book of Leinster and Book of the Dun Cow
influenced by Rosemary Sutcliff and Madeleine Polland
graphic courtesy of Fantasy & Mythology Clipart
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