Fergus the Giant

An Irish fairytale by Meg Sorick. 

Once upon a time, there was a giant named Fergus. Fergus was one of three brothers, but his brothers had all gone away to find wives for themselves, leaving Fergus alone on the western coast of Ireland. For a while Fergus was happy. There was no one to tell him what to do and no one to fight with for the food, because giants eat a lot of food.

One day while Fergus was on the seashore, scooping fish out of the sea for his supper, he heard singing. It was the most lovely sound he had ever heard. He turned toward the sound, but he couldn’t see where it was coming from for the mist. There’s always a mist near the seashore in Ireland. He tried to walk toward the sound, but it was coming from across Galway Bay.

Now, Galway Bay is a big deep bay where all the ships can come into port. It would take Fergus a long time to walk all the way around Galway Bay especially in the heavy fog which made it very hard to see. And even though giants are very, very big, the ocean between the shores of Galway Bay is deep. Too deep for Fergus to walk through. And Fergus, unfortunately, had never learned to swim.

So it was that every afternoon Fergus would go to the seashore to fetch his supper and he would hear this beautiful voice singing to him from across the bay. Finally, he could stand it no more. He realized how lonely he was all by himself without his family and with no woman to love. In his desperation, he gouged out a huge boulder from the granite cliffs of the Connemara Mountains and hurled it into the bay. With a mighty splash and a huge tidal wave, the boulder settled into the bay. It was almost close enough to step to from the northern shore, but not quite.

Again he gouged another huge boulder, this one bigger than the last one and hurled into the bay. Because this one was bigger, it didn’t fly as far. Closer, but still not enough. Once more, he gouged an even bigger boulder from Connemara’s granite mountains and hurled it into the sea. This one landed closer still to the northern shore. Now Fergus had three big stepping stones to walk across Galway Bay. He didn’t hesitate. He stepped, one, two, three on the islands he had created and lastly onto the southern shore of Galway Bay. And what do you think he found there?

A beautiful lady giant. She had been singing on the seashore every afternoon while she fetched her own supper from the sea. She was as lonely as Fergus and was singing to keep herself company.

So Fergus ran right up to her and told her that he loved her. But she was afraid of him at first because she had never seen this giant before and he was fearsome and big. Much bigger than she was. So he kept her company for a while and scooped fish for her from the sea. He fetched berries from the trees and brought flowers for her to weave into her hair. Pretty soon, she fell in love with Fergus. And when Fergus saw that he had won her heart, he asked her to marry him.

Or course, she said yes. And they lived happily ever after. That’s how the Aran Islands were made. You can see them in Galway Bay down to this very day.

There is a tale from Irish mythology that tells of the formation of The Aran Islands at the hands of giants. In that tale, however, the islands are formed when two giants fight by hurling rocks at one another and they miss and land in the sea. I thought it would be fun to repost this as it was one of the very first things I posted on my blog two years ago. 

51 thoughts on “Fergus the Giant

      1. Beautiful. The myths recur throughout different cultures. It’s amazing how they are re-constructed in different languages and form patterns that are trackable in image and narrative.

        Liked by 1 person

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