Fergus the Giant and the Storm

Fergus and his new wife, An Moira, were living happily on the northern coast of Galway Bay. They would fish and pick berries and grow potatoes in the rich soil along the Corrib River. The Corrib River empties into Galway Bay, you see. One day, late in the summer, a fierce storm blew in from the Atlantic Ocean. All the people had to take shelter in the limestone caves south of Galway Bay. But there was no cave big enough for the giants.

Fergus and An Moira had to run for the Connemara Mountains. There, at least, they could shelter behind the tallest crags. The storm kept raging and in fact it even grew wilder as the days went on. Fergus had to dig out a shallow cave to try to keep them safe, and there they huddled together until finally the winds died down.

But as bad as the storm was, they were all right. Their clothes had been torn and muddied and they were mighty hungry because they hadn’t been able to leave the shelter of the mountain, but they were safe and sound.

When they emerged from their shelter, they found that all the forests on the West Coast of Ireland had been blown down by the storm. That’s why there are no dense forests there, down to this day. As far as the eye could see, the trees were all knocked down. Pretty soon the giants from further east came to the West Coast of Ireland, for the storm had been even more devastating further inland. The game that they hunted for food, the crops they had planted and were just about ready to harvest, had all been swept away in the winds, leaving them nearly starving to death. They struggled back to the coast, for at least at the seashore, they could still fish in the sea.

Even Fergus’ brothers came home. And Fergus was so happy to see them and introduce them to his pretty lady wife. With Fergus’ two brothers came their wives and their wives’ sisters and their husbands. All together, eight giants came to stay with Fergus and An Moira. But they soon discovered that this wasn’t going to work. The people were afraid of all these giants living so close together. Two giants by themselves, was scary enough but now, there were eight more. And sometimes because there were so many of them, they would argue and fight. When they fought, they would shake the ground and cause the people’s houses to fall down.

One day while Fergus was fighting with his brother Angus, their wives came to stand beside them. The women scolded them for their bad behavior and the two mighty giants were ashamed. An Moira and Brigga told their husbands they would not put up with the fighting any more. An Moira said they needed help and she was going to ask the fairies what to do.

What people don’t realize about the fairies is, that they used to be friends with the people and the giants, too. Now, fairies aren’t magical beings as many people say. They are just more clever and swift on their feet. They used to protect the people from dangerous things until one day… Well that’s a story for another time. Anyway, An Moira and Brigga went to the fields of stone to the south of Galway Bay in a land called The Burren. There they had to find a fairy tree and wait for the fairy to come home.

A fairy tree is a very special hawthorne tree. The fairies live in these trees and protect them from harm. You can take a saw or an axe to a regular hawthorn, but never to a fairy tree. The fairies won’t allow it. So An Moira and Brigga found the tree they were looking for, and waited and waited until they both fell asleep beneath the fairy tree. When they woke in the morning the fairy was still nowhere to be found. But the most unusual thing had occurred during the night. Both An Moira and Brigga had dreamed the same dream.

What had happened was that, when the fairy found them sleeping, she figured out that they must have come to her for help. For the news had spread far and wide about the family of giants quarreling amongst each other. Thus it was, that the fairy whispered the same story in the ears of both An Moira and Brigga, so that when they awoke it seemed like they had dreamed the same dream.

And the dream went like this. The giants would use the fallen trees from the storm to build a huge raft. They would pack all their belongings on the raft and store supplies like berries and potatoes to eat on their journey. Then soon, before the winter winds blew in cold from the north, they would set sail for the West to a new land. An empty land with plenty of room for the giants. There would be a long coast line, good places to fish. There would be deer in the forests and fruit trees heavy with produce. Best of all, there were no people for them to frighten and no houses to knock down if their footfalls were too heavy.

So they did go. An Moira and Brigga came back to their husbands and the other giants and told them what they had dreamed. Since it had come from the fairies, the giants knew it had to be true. So the they set about collecting the logs and building their huge raft. They gathered plenty of food and packed their fishing poles for crossing the sea. And just before the winter winds blew in from the north, they set sail for the West and the land where no one lived.

When they got there safe, they saw that all was as the fairy had described. However, Fergus and his brothers and their wives were about to have a whole new set of adventures among the strange creatures that inhabited the land. But that is a story for another day.

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