Irish Mythology

The Voyage of Maeldun

12th century, Old Irish. Lebor na hUidre (Book of the Dun Cow), Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, Ireland.

She gave them an abundance of food and drink, all out of her one pail, each man finding in it what he most desired.

Having sailed across an enchanted ocean and visited many strange isles, Maeldun came to an island where a fortress had a bridge of glass leading to it. This bridge threw them backwards when they tried to cross it, but then a woman emerged from the fortress, removed a slab of glass from the bridge, lowered a pail down into the water below and returned into the fortress with it. Maeldun's banging on the portcullis resulted in such a sweet melody that he and his crew all fell asleep. Three times this happened, and each time the woman made an ironical speech about Maeldun before disappearing from view.

On the fourth day, she came over to them, wearing alluring clothes and a circlet of gold in her hair.

'Welcome, Maeldun,' she said, and she welcomed every man by name, led them into the fortress, gave them couches to sit on and "gave them an abundance of food and drink, all out of her one pail, each man finding in it what he most desired."

Maeldun's crew tried to woo her for him. She told them that she had never known what sin is. They tried to woo her again for Maeldun the next day and she told them that she would give them an answer in the morning.

When morning arrived, they found themselves back in their boat, with no sign of the island or its glass bridge.

Story fragment recounted from: Rolleston, Thomas, 1911. Myths of the Celtic Race. The Gresham Publishing Company. Reprinted 1998. Myths and Legends of the Celts. Senate, an imprint of Tiger Books International plc. Chapter VII. The Voyage of Maeldun, pp 309–31. The Island of the Glass Bridge, pp 319–20.


Maeldun – Wikipedia

Book of the Dun Cow – Wikipedia

Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race, by T W Rolleston – Project Gutenberg. English retelling of ancient Irish stories by Thomas Rolleston: The Voyage of Maeldun, pp 309–31




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