Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Two Tales of Wise Women From Irish Lore


"The Goban Saor was a mason and a smith, and he could do all things, and he was very witty. He was going from home one time and he said to the wife 'If it is a daughter you have this time I'll kill you when I come back'; for up to that time he had no sons, but only daughters. And it was a daughter she had; but a neighbouring woman had a son at the same time, and they made an exchange to save the life of the Goban's wife. But when the boy began to grow up he had no wit, and the Goban knew by that he was no son of his. That is the reason he wanted a witty wife for him. So there came a girl to the house one day, and the Goban Saor bade her look round at all that was in the room, and he said 'Do you think a couple could get a living out of this?' 'They could not,' she said. So he said she wouldn't do, and he sent her away. Another girl came another day, and he bade her take notice of all that was in the house, and he said 'Do you think could a couple knock a living out of this?' 'They could if they stopped in it,' she said. So he said that girl would do. Then he asked her could she bring a sheepskin to the market and bring back the price of it, and the skin itself as well. She said she could, and she went to the market, and there she pulled off the wool and sold it and brought back the price and the skin as well. Then he asked could she go to the market and not be dressed or undressed. And she went having only one shoe and one stocking on her, so she was neither dressed or undressed. Then he sent her to walk neither on the road or off the road, and she walked on the path beside it. So he said then she would do as a wife for his son."

"One time some great king or lord sent for the Goban to build a caislean for him, and the son's wife said to him before he went 'Be always great with the women of the house, and always have a comrade among them.' So when the Goban went there he coaxed one of the women the same as if he was not married. And when the castle was near built, the woman told him the lord was going to play him a trick, and to kill him or shut him up when he had the castle made, the way he would not build one for any-other lord that was as good. And as she said, the lord came and bade the Goban to make a cat and two-tails, for no one could make that but himself, and it was meaning to kill him on it he was. And the Goban said he would do that when he had finished the castle, but he could not finish it without some tool he had left at home. And they must send the lord's son for it—- for he said it would not be given to any other one. So the son was sent, and the Goban sent a message to the daughter-in-law that the tool he was wanting was called 'When you open it shut it.' And she was surprised, for there was no such tool in the house; but she guessed by the message what she had to do, and there was a big chest in the house and she set it open. 'Come now,' she said to the young man,' look in the chest and find it for yourself.' And when he looked in she gave him a push forward, and in he went, and she shut the lid on him. She wrote a letter to the lord then, saying he would not get his son back till he had sent her own two men, and they were sent back to her."

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

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