On giants 2


One of my all-time favourite giant stories is the one about the Irish giant Finn MacCool (Fionn Mac Cumhail) and his wife Oonagh outwitting a rival giant who has come to find Finn and challenge him to a fight.

In some versions this rival is a Scottish giant named Ben An Donner, in other versions he is Cuchullain, the mythical Irish hero transformed for the purposes of the story into a giant.

The gist of the story is that when Finn finds out this giant is coming to find him, he panics and pleads with his wife to get him out of trouble. Oonagh dresses Finn up as a baby and puts him in a cradle. When the rival giant arrives at Finn's house, Oonagh tells him Finn is out, and invites him in for tea. The giant is startled at this enormous baby, and wonders fearfully how huge Finn must be if this is his child. He reaches into the crib to tickle the baby and Finn squeezes his finger and nearly crushes it (or bites it off, in some versions). The giant gets up and runs off, not daring to wait around for the father if the baby is so strong.

I haven't done justice to the wit and comedy of the story here at all, of course. There are several published versions which tell the tale with wonderful words and pictures, such as Mrs. McCool And The Giant Cuhullin: An Irish Tale, by Jessica Souhami.

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