The Red Son of Concubar

These fragments of the lore of Tir na Nua are presented raw, first draft, and unedited.  I apologize for their original condition.  However, my first priority is to capture sketches, so to speak, of the people and places of Tir na Nua.  I have promised Free Celtic Fiction and before I can shape these sketches into more polished works I need to write these drafts.  I share them, as they are, while I try to find the time to improve them. —  LSO

The great mountain became the center of the Gaellic world on Tir na Nua.  Around Sliebe na Gael, close on the slopes of that mountain, on the rocky hills were the Connachta on the South and West to the sea, Mumah folk to the East along the coast, the Laigin North and East to the river and that land was fair, and North and West were the Uliad.  That is, these were the divisions when Dana and Lyr and his shieldmen took Sliebe na Gael, when they were driven from the plain by ice, when Wyland delved out the secret forbidden ways, when Bridgit and Lugh eloped and brought on the Rage of Lyr.   The folk were in these four divisions, the Four fourths of the Tuatha de Dana.

The folk of the Uliad prospered and divided into many clans who dispersed to the north until there came to be a land named by her people, Ulster, and a king of that Tuath named Concubar.  This was the time before the Gobli swept the plain with fire and the people were driven back into the Four Fourths.  Concubar was a great king, a proud warrior, and a hunter of great renown.

One day he was hunting with his friends, the warriors of the Red Branch in the new forests that covered the plain.  All the trees in that place were of one height being planted in one season by the Fae Gardeners, the Norfolk, scattered by their life giving forest spheres.

For this reason, in imitation, the Red Branch warriors made brain balls, weapons made from the vanquished.  Many lives were taken by those balls of brain and bone dust and lime, so the Red Branch warriors became known for there making and the feat of their use in battle.

Concubar was swifter than the red stag he stalked, much faster than his warriors.  The blood of his prey was in his nostrils and he left his brothers behind.  He followed the stag into a valley where the trees grew tall, ancient, moss hung, and magical.

A beautiful woman stepped out of this magical forest.  Her skin was pale as a swan, her lips as red as blood, and her hair like burnished copper, was red as well.  Concubar imagined she must be of the Sidhe, he would have left her there, for it is rarely wise for men to mix in the matters of gods, but desiring him she put aside her mantle and Concubar loved her.

Concubar took from his shoulders his cloak to make a bower for them.  In all the time they lay together she spoke no word, nor did the man until she rose and made to go, “Who are you, my lady?” Concubar asked the fairy woman.

“I am the mother of your son, my lord,” said the woman, “I am the daughter of the over King of the Northmost land, I am the watcher who has loved you.”

“Have I known you before my lady?  How can that be?  For surely I would remember you.”

“Never before tonight have I known you, but I have watched you and I know that I love you.  I will send your son to you, my lord.”  And the woman stepped away toward the deep woods.”

“Wait!  How will I know him?” Asked the man.

The woman had no answer, but Concubar could see this worried her and she stopped.  So Concubar took up his cloak and going to the woman he lay it across her shoulders, “By this my people will know him to be a prince,” said the king, “And by this all will know that his father is a king,” he said, pinning on her his broach, “And by this I will know he is my son,” said Concubar and he took his own ring from his finger and gave it into the woman’s hand.

At this the woman smiled and she kissed Concubar and said, “And for this I knew, watching you, that I loved you.”  There arose about her a mist.

“But what is your name?” the King asked her.

“Our son will tell you,” She said.  A mist of fog hid her from Concubar’s sight, and he knew she was gone.

A cool breeze took away the fog and there, not far away, was a red deer doe.  He heard the calls of his warriors and the doe bounded away with the mist.  At this the king went to them.