King of Salmon

Here is the story of the King of Salmon. In the good old days, long ago, there was a man named Domhnall Duhh (the Negro) who lived near Lochrî. He had been married for twenty years without having any children, except for one daughter, who was blind from birth; people called him Nôirin Dubh the blind. She had a beautiful, melodious voice and there was no old song in the country that she did not know by heart.

king of salmon

King of Salmon

Once, one evening, Nôirin asked her father to take her to the lake, because the evening was very beautiful. Her father took her there and she said:

- Wait here, or continue on your way home.

When her father was gone, she sat down on a dry mound and began to sing a song, like this:

O May yellowing, it's you the month
Where the beetles take on their pretty color,
Where the woman has the child, the cow the calf
And where the Mare has the foal.

It had not been long since she had been singing this song, when there came a large salmon on the surface of the water and it strained its ears to listen to it. When she had finished the verse, she heard a voice saying:

- It is a pity that you are blind. If you had salmon gall to rub your eyes with, you would get your sight back.

When the sun went down, Domhnall arrived and brought her home. She told him the words she had heard.

'That's fine, I'll go fishing tomorrow morning,' Domhnall said, 'and if there's a salmon in the lake, I'll take it.

The next morning, early in the morning, before sunrise, Domhnall got up and went down to the lake. He took a boat and off he went fishing. When he reached the middle of the lake, he heard a curlew cry; at the same time he found that the line was dragged and the Gaul started to bend.

'My word,' Domhnall said, 'there's a big salmon on my hook.

Thereupon he began to shoot as best he could, but, alas, his feet slipped and he fell head first into the lake, then to the bottom, to the bottom of the water, so that he thought he was at the end of the world.
When he opened his eyes he found himself in a beautiful room, in the presence of a tall man whose skin was like fish skin. The man spoke to him:

- Domhnall the black, he said, what brought you here?

"I don't know," said Domhnall; I was fishing on the lake; I thought I had taken a big salmon; I was pulling her when my feet slipped, and I fell head first into the lake. I wouldn't have been fishing if I hadn't had a blind girl and she heard that if she had salmon gall to rub her eyes, she would get her sight back. That’s the cause I’m here for.

- You are now in the presence of the king of the lake, said the man, and I have been waiting for you for a long time. Listen to me. Have you ever heard of how it happened that the lake was here, where it is?

“I have never heard of it, of course,” said Domhnall, “although I have lived by the lake since I came here and seven of my ancestors lived there before me.

"You won't be like this for long," said the tall man.

My father was king and my mother died the night I was born, but it wasn't long before my father married another woman, and my mother-in-law had great magical power. When I was seven, I angered her; she drew a magic wand, it caused an earthquake in my father's country and made it into a lake. My father drowned, and she turned me into a salmon, as you can see. Every night my mother-in-law came to torment me; but since you are here with me, it is likely that I will now have the lead over her. Now come with me and I'll leave you by the lake; then go to the foot of the big red stripped tree that grows behind your house and dig until you meet a large stone. Lift the stone and you will find a sleeping black tomcat underneath. Lead the cat to the lake and I'll be right there in front of you. If you do as I tell you, you will be happy, rich, you will have a long life; but if you don't do as I tell you, you will be a poor miserable beggar as long as there is water to flow or grass to grow.

"My word, I'll do as you say," Domhnall said, "and I'm ready to go with you."

So he struck a wand at Domhnall and curled it up, and he soon found himself swimming in the lake. When he got to the shore, the Big Salmon gave him a wave of a magic wand and in a jiffy he was on the ground and set out for his home. When he got to the big red stripped tree, he started digging; it was not long in meeting the big stone and when he had lifted the stone, he saw the sleeping black cat. He put the cat in his bosom and here he is off to the lake. The Big Salmon was there in front of him and led him and the black cat to his room under the lake. Then he said to Domhnall:

- You are a good hero; now take a knife, take out the heart of the cat and give it to me.

Domhnall took the knife, took out the cat's heart and was about to give it to Salmon, when he heard a loud noise.

"Hurry, hurry," said the Salmon; the old woman is coming. Take my sharp sword which is on the wall and show that you are a warrior, when the old woman comes in with her cats.

It wasn't long before the bedroom door opened and he entered a horrible old witch and over sixty cats following her. Domhnall took his sword, struck it in the middle of the forehead and threw it to the ground. So the cats jumped on him, and they scratched him so much that there was a mud of blood around him. The old woman got up quickly and was about to kill her with a wave of the wand when the Big Salmon hit her between the eyes with the big black cat's heart and she fell dead among the cats. Domhnall quickly took down the cats and killed them all.

- Give me your hand, said the Big Salmon, you are the best warrior in Ireland. You won't need anything, as long as you are alive. I know where there is a treasure of yellow gold and it is not difficult for you to find it. There is a large and beautiful castle in the territory of Terre Blanche and you can take your wife and daughter there to live.

- Thank you, said Domhnail, but I prefer to stay in Erin, my beloved land, than in any other country under the sun, and if you leave me at home, I will be very grateful to you.

- I cannot part with you like this, said the Big Salmon, and I think you are unreasonable, but since you want to remain only in Erin, so be it! Do you know where Dûn-na-righ (the fortress of kings) is by the lake?

"I certainly know it," said Domhnall; I cut more than one stick out of it.

- If you are in the fort tonight at midnight, I will be in front of you and I will put you on the path to becoming rich; here is gall for you to cover your daughter's eyes; she will regain her sight, and whoever is blind in your neighborhood do the same. But do not take gold or silver from a poor man, and when you go home, about your life, do not tell any living man where you have been, nor a single thing that has happened to you since you left your house.

"I'll take your advice and do as you say," Domhnall said.

Thereupon he struck him a blow, curled it up, and said to him:

- Follow me.

Domhnall followed him and it was not long before he found himself swimming in the lake, with the Big Salmon by his side. When they got to shore, he threw Domhnall on the ground where he was before he went fishing.
When Domhnall arrived at his home, he found the house full of his family and neighbors, and his wife and daughter were crying and lamenting because they believed him to be drowned.
He entered, they turned to him in astonishment and shook his hand.

- Let me pass, said Domhnall, so that I can see my daughter.

He drew the gall from the salmon, he rubbed Noirin's eyes with it, and she saw as good a sight as Domhnall himself. She cried, clapped her hands with joy, and gave thanks to God. There were a lot of blind people in the parish; he sent for them and gave them their sight. Domhnall's fame soon spread across the country and blind people came to find him every day.
When the hour of midnight arrived, or a little before, Domhnall went to Dûn-na-righ; after some time he heard a low rolling and the sound of a horse's footsteps, and there entered the army of the fairies with the Big Salmon at their head. When they were all in the fortress, the Big Salmon spoke:

- We have a ball game to play tonight against the fairies of Laigheann (Leinster); I have a bravest warrior in the world to attend. Come on, Domhnall Dubh, let these gentlemen see you.

Domhnall stepped forward and the fairy men shook his hand, and in each of them was a purse of gold. The Salmon came to him last; he gave him a large sack to put the gold in and told him to put it under a tree when he came back, and not to tell anyone his secret. Then there came a great windstorm that blew them all up in the air and they stopped in a large meadow. Laigheann's fairy army was on the prairie and it wasn't long before the game began.
The moon was in the sky, the night was almost as clear as the day; they were running here and there, tra, tra, tra, and there was more than one who fell from a leg hook. In the end, Connacht's fairies won and won the game. A new windstorm came and they were carried to Dûn-na-righ near Lochrî. Then the Big Salmon said to Domhnall:

- Take your bag and go home, you now have as much as you would spend on yourself, your wife and your daughter, but don't let your secret escape, or you will lose everything. Goodbye.

Domhnall went to his house and hid the sack of gold under a large stone in the floor of the house before Nôirin or his wife got up and they did not know at all that he was out. When they arose, he showed them his hand of gold, and this caused them great joy; they ran to him and he thought they would suffocate him with kisses. He bought a large tract of land and built a beautiful house. Soon after, Nôirin married a wealthy farmer.

The Grand Saumon is in the castle under the lake and anyone can see it every day from Bealtaine (May 1) swimming on the surface of the lake. Domhnall, his wife and his daughter remained happy and prosperous and had a long life and such may be our fate!