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TITLE
Gille Pàdraig Dubh
EXTERNAL ID
HC_GAELICSTORYTAPE_017
DATE OF RECORDING
1997
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
The Highland Council
ASSET ID
2351
KEYWORDS
oral tradition
folklore
stories
Gaelic
story telling
audio

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This story is recorded in Gaelic and the following is an English translation.

Gille Pàdraig Dubh.

At one time there was a brave man called Gille Pàdraig Dubh who lived in Gearraidh Fliuch in South Uist. He was a strong, sturdy man and a noted soldier.

It happened that Macleod of Dunvegan, father-in-law of Mac Ic Ailein, Lord of Uist, was visiting in Ormacleit Castle, where Mac Ic Ailein had his home. Did they not decide between them that they would kill Gille Pàdraig Dubh and his son by trickery, for the son had grown up just as strong and powerful as his father, and they were afraid of him.

They sent word to Gille Pàdraig inviting him to come to a feast in the castle and to take Iain Dubh, his son, with him there. They both came, as they were asked, and Mac Ic Ailein was there waiting for them at the main door of the castle. He gave Gille Pàdraig a great welcome. "It's a long time," said Gille Pàdraig Dubh, "since I last had an invitation to come here, and indeed I know well that it's not without reason that I am here today."

"Och," replied Mac Ic Ailein, "there was enmity between me and you before now without a doubt, but that is over now. But to tell you the truth, I did have a job for you. Macleod tells me that there is a man in his island who can split an egg with an arrow off a man's head at a distance of eighty paces, and he placed a large wager with me that there is not a similar man here in our part of the country. I have accepted his wager and as there is nobody else except you alone capable of doing this, if you do not get me out of difficulty today I am finished and the island is humiliated."

"Very well then," replied Gille Pàdraig Dubh. "Although I am getting old I'll do my best, just as well as I am able ... but who will hold the egg on his head?"

"I will need," answered Mac Ic Ailein, "to stay just here along with Macleod in case he becomes suspicious of us. Will your son Iain not do? Surely he will?"

"It seems that he has to," said Gille Pàdraig, "but you send out to me here four men with spades."

He did as Gille Pàdraig asked. The four men came out with the spades, and Macleod himself measured out the steps from the wall of the castle. Where he stopped, Gille Pàdraig Dubh asked them to dig a pit. When the hole was quite deep he told his son to go down into it. He was not at all willing to do so.

"Is it refusing me you are?" his father asked him.

Iain well remembered that an arrow in his heel was the reward he received the last time he refused to obey his father.

"Indeed I'm not doing so," he replied, jumping into the hole.

When he stood on the bottom of the hole he was hidden up to the shoulders; and his father told the men with the spades to carry on digging until all that was to be seen of him was the hair on the top of his head. Gille Pàdraig set the egg on the top of his head and walked back to the castle wall.

He took the quiver towards him and placed the first arrow he removed from it in the garter of his right leg, and the next one in the other garter and then he put four in his belt. He placed the last arrow in the bow and smashed the egg to smithereens.

"Are you wounded, Iain Dubh?" shouted Gille Pàdraig Dubh.

"Not at all," answered Iain, climbing out of the hole.

"You certainly won the wager that I placed with your master," said Macleod, "but tell me why you rejected the arrows you picked first."

"I will tell you that," he replied, pulling an arrow from the garter. "If one drop of my son's blood had been spilt, that one would have been in the most important bird in the nest, that is Mac Ic Ailein; that one would have been in you, Macleod, and the others in the men who dug my son's grave."

"Be gone, away you go," said Mac Ic Ailein, "there's no point in trying to change you."

This story is from a collection of stories available on tape, with an accompanying book, under the title 'Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd'

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Gille Pàdraig Dubh

1990s

oral tradition; folklore; stories; Gaelic; story telling; audio

The Highland Council

Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd (Cassette)

This story is recorded in Gaelic and the following is an English translation.<br /> <br /> Gille Pàdraig Dubh.<br /> <br /> At one time there was a brave man called Gille Pàdraig Dubh who lived in Gearraidh Fliuch in South Uist. He was a strong, sturdy man and a noted soldier.<br /> <br /> It happened that Macleod of Dunvegan, father-in-law of Mac Ic Ailein, Lord of Uist, was visiting in Ormacleit Castle, where Mac Ic Ailein had his home. Did they not decide between them that they would kill Gille Pàdraig Dubh and his son by trickery, for the son had grown up just as strong and powerful as his father, and they were afraid of him.<br /> <br /> They sent word to Gille Pàdraig inviting him to come to a feast in the castle and to take Iain Dubh, his son, with him there. They both came, as they were asked, and Mac Ic Ailein was there waiting for them at the main door of the castle. He gave Gille Pàdraig a great welcome. "It's a long time," said Gille Pàdraig Dubh, "since I last had an invitation to come here, and indeed I know well that it's not without reason that I am here today."<br /> <br /> "Och," replied Mac Ic Ailein, "there was enmity between me and you before now without a doubt, but that is over now. But to tell you the truth, I did have a job for you. Macleod tells me that there is a man in his island who can split an egg with an arrow off a man's head at a distance of eighty paces, and he placed a large wager with me that there is not a similar man here in our part of the country. I have accepted his wager and as there is nobody else except you alone capable of doing this, if you do not get me out of difficulty today I am finished and the island is humiliated."<br /> <br /> "Very well then," replied Gille Pàdraig Dubh. "Although I am getting old I'll do my best, just as well as I am able ... but who will hold the egg on his head?"<br /> <br /> "I will need," answered Mac Ic Ailein, "to stay just here along with Macleod in case he becomes suspicious of us. Will your son Iain not do? Surely he will?"<br /> <br /> "It seems that he has to," said Gille Pàdraig, "but you send out to me here four men with spades."<br /> <br /> He did as Gille Pàdraig asked. The four men came out with the spades, and Macleod himself measured out the steps from the wall of the castle. Where he stopped, Gille Pàdraig Dubh asked them to dig a pit. When the hole was quite deep he told his son to go down into it. He was not at all willing to do so.<br /> <br /> "Is it refusing me you are?" his father asked him.<br /> <br /> Iain well remembered that an arrow in his heel was the reward he received the last time he refused to obey his father.<br /> <br /> "Indeed I'm not doing so," he replied, jumping into the hole.<br /> <br /> When he stood on the bottom of the hole he was hidden up to the shoulders; and his father told the men with the spades to carry on digging until all that was to be seen of him was the hair on the top of his head. Gille Pàdraig set the egg on the top of his head and walked back to the castle wall.<br /> <br /> He took the quiver towards him and placed the first arrow he removed from it in the garter of his right leg, and the next one in the other garter and then he put four in his belt. He placed the last arrow in the bow and smashed the egg to smithereens.<br /> <br /> "Are you wounded, Iain Dubh?" shouted Gille Pàdraig Dubh.<br /> <br /> "Not at all," answered Iain, climbing out of the hole.<br /> <br /> "You certainly won the wager that I placed with your master," said Macleod, "but tell me why you rejected the arrows you picked first."<br /> <br /> "I will tell you that," he replied, pulling an arrow from the garter. "If one drop of my son's blood had been spilt, that one would have been in the most important bird in the nest, that is Mac Ic Ailein; that one would have been in you, Macleod, and the others in the men who dug my son's grave."<br /> <br /> "Be gone, away you go," said Mac Ic Ailein, "there's no point in trying to change you."<br /> <br /> This story is from a collection of stories available on tape, with an accompanying book, under the title 'Am Bloigh Beag le Beannachd'