This section is from the book "Legendary Fictions Of The Irish Celts", by Patrick Kennedy. Also available from Amazon: Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts.
Well, they weren't long powdhering away, when a sthronshuch (idler) of a tailor came in; and when the smith asked him what news he had, he got the handle of the bellows and began to blow, to let out all he had heard for the last two days. There was so many questions and answers at first, that if I told them all, it would be bedtime afore I'd be done. So here is the substance of the discourse ; and before he got far into it, the forge was half-filled with women knitting stockings, and men smoking.
" Yous all heard how the two princesses were unwilling to be married till the youngest would be ready with her crowns and her sweetheart. But after the windlass loosened accidentally when they were pulling up her bridegroom that was to be, there was no more sign of a well, or a rope, or a windlass, than there is on the palm of your hand. So the buckeens that wor coortin' the eldest ladies, wouldn't give peace or ease to their lovers nor the king, till they got consent to the marriage, and it was to take place this morning. Myself went down out o' curosity; and to be sure I was delighted with the grand dresses of the two brides, and the three crowns on their heads-gold, silver, and copper, one inside the other. The youngest was standing by mournful enough in white, and all was ready. The two bridegrooms came in as proud and grand as you please, and up they were walking to the altar rails, when, my dear, the boards opened two yards wide under their feet, and down they went among the dead men and the coffins in the vaults. Oh, such screeching as the ladies gave ! and such running and racing and peeping down as there was ; but the cleik soon opened the door of the vault, and up came the two heroes, and their fine clothes covered an inch thick with cobwebs and mould."
So the king said they should put off the marriage, " For," says he, " I see there is no use in thinking of it till my youngest gets her three crowns, and is married along with the others. I'll give my youngest daughter for a wife to whoever brings three crowns to me like the others ; and if he doesn't care to be married, some other one will, and I'll make his fortune." " I wish," says the smith, " I could do it : but I was looking at the crowns after the princesses got home, and I don't think there's a black or a white smith on the face o' the earth could imitate them." " Faint heart never won fair lady," says the prince. " Go to the palace and ask for a quarter of a pound of gold, a quarter of a pound of silver, and a quarter of a pound of copper. Get one crown for a pattern ; and my head for a pledge, I'll give you out the very things that are wanted in the morning." " Ubbabow !" says the smith, " are you in earnest ? " " Faith, I am so," says he. "Go ! worse than lose you can't."
To make a long story short, the smith got the quarter of a pound of gold, and the quarter of a pound of silver, and the quarter of a pound of copper, and gave them and the pattern crown to the prince. He shut the forge door at nightfall, and the neighbours all gathered in the bawn, and they heard him hammering, hammering, hammering, from that to daybreak ; and every now and then he'd pitch out through the window, bits of gold, silver, and copper ; and the idlers scrambled for them, and cursed one another, and prayed for the good luck of the workman.
Well, just as the sun was thinking to rise, he opened the door, and brought out the three crowns he got from his true love, and such shouting and huzzaing as there was ! The smith asked him to go along with him to the palace, but he refused ; so off set the smith, and the whole townland with him; and wasn't the king rejoiced when he saw the crowns ! " Well," says he to the smith, "you're a married man ; what's to be done?" "Faith, your majesty, I didn't make them crowns at all; it was a big shuler (vagrant) of a fellow that took employment with me yesterday." " Well, daughter, will you marry the fellow that made these crowns ? " " Let me see them first, father." So when she examined them, she knew them right well, and guessed it was her true-love that sent them. " I will marry the man that these crowns came from," says she.
" Well," says the king to the eldest of the two princes, "go up to the smith's forge, take my best coach, and bring home the bridegroom." He was very unwilling to do this, he was so proud, but he did not wish to refuse. When he came to the forge, he saw the prince standing at the door, and beckoned him over to the coach. " Are you the fellow," says he, " that made them crowns ? " " Yes," says the other. " Then," says he, " maybe you'd give yourself a brushing, and get into that coach; the king wants to see you. I pity the princess." The young prince got into the carriage, and while they were on the way, he opened the snuff-box, and out walked Seven Inches, and stood on his thigh. " Well," says he, "what trouble is on you now?" "Master," says the other, " please to let me be back in my forge, and let this carriage be filled with paving stones." No sooner said than done. The prince was sitting in his forge, and the horses wondered what was after happening to the carriage.
When they came into the palace yard, the king himself opened the carriage door, to pay respect to his new son-in-law. As soon as he turned the handle, a shower of small stones fell on his powdered wig and his silk coat, and down he fell under them. There was great fright and some tittering, and the king, after he wiped the blood from his forehead, looked very cross at the eldest prince. " My liege," says he, " I'm very sorry for this accidence, but I'm not to blame. I saw the young smith get into the carriage, and we never stopped a minute since." " It's uncivil you were to him. Go," says he, to the other prince, "and bring the young smith here, and be polite." " Never fear," says he.
But there's some people that couldn't be good-natured if they were to be made heirs of Darner's estate. Not a bit civiller was the new messenger than the old, and when the king opened the carriage door a second time, it's a shower of mud that came down on him ; and if he didn't fume, and splutter, and shake himself, it's no matter. "There's no use," says he, "going on this way. The fox never got a better messenger than himself."
So he changed his clothes, and washed himself, and out he set to the smith's forge. Maybe he wasn't polite to the young prince, and asked him to sit along with himself. The prince begged to be allowed to sit in the other carriage, and when they were half-way, he opened his snuff-box. " Master," says he, " I'd wish to be dressed now according to my rank." "You shall be that," says Seven Inches. " And now I'll bid you farewell. Continue as good and kind as you always were ; love your wife, and that's all the advice I'll give you." So Seven Inches vanished ; and when the carriage door was opened in the yard-not by the king though, for a burnt child dreads the fire-out walks the prince as fine as hands and pins could make him, and the first thing he did was to run over to his bride, and embrace her very heartily.
Every one had great joy but the two other princes. There was not much delay about the marriages that were all celebrated on the one day. Soon after, the two elder couples went to their own courts, but the youngest pair stayed with the old king, and they were as happy as the happiest married couple you ever heard of in a story.
The next tale is one which was repeated oftenest in our hearing during our country experience. It probably owed its popularity to the bit of a rhyme, and the repetition of the adventures of the three sisters, nearly in the same words. It may seem strange that this circumstance, which would have brought ennui and discomfort on our readers, should have recommended it to the fireside audiences. Let it be considered that they expected to sit up to a certain hour, and that listening to a story was the pleasantest occupation they could fancy for the time. Length, then, in a tale was a recommendation, and these repetitions contributed to that desirable end.
fiction, Irish, Celtic myths, sacred text, St. Patrick, stories