38. The Homecoming


AS THEY APPROACHED the island, they recognised it as the very same island which they had seen in the beginning of their voyage, on which they had heard the man in the great house boast that he had slain Máel Dúin’s father, and from which the storm had driven them out into the great ocean. They had returned to the beginning point of their long voyage.

They turned their vessel towards the shore, and landed. There was the house that they seen a long time ago; they walked towards it.

It happened that at this very time the people of the house were seated at their evening meal; and Máel Dúin and his companions, as they stood outside, could hear their conversation.

“It would not go well for us if we were to see Máel Dúin now,” a voice said.
“Ha! Máel Dúin!” answered another. “It is well known that he was drowned at sea long ago!”

“Do not be sure,” cautioned a third voice. “He could be the very man that wakes you one morning from your sleep.”

“Supposing he came now!” exaclaimed another. “What would we do?”
The head of the house now spoke in reply to that last question; and Máel Dúin instantly recognised his voice.

“I can easily answer that,” he said. “Máel Dúin has been for a long time suffering great afflictions and hardships; and if he were to come here now, though we were enemies once, I should certainly offer him welcome, and a kind reception.”

When Máel Dúin heard this, his heart was glad and full of forgiving, and he knocked at the door. The door-keeper came and asked who was there.
“It is I, Máel Dúin,” he replied, “returned safely with my friends from our wanderings.”

The chief of the house ordered the door to be opened. He came to meet Máel Dúin, and he brought the traveller and his companions into the house. They were all joyfully welcomed by the whole household; new garments were given to them, and they feasted and rested, until they forgot their weariness and their hardships, and there was no bitterness or resentment left in any heart.

And then they told the story of all the marvels that God had shown them, according to the words of the sacred poet, who said, Haec olirn meminisse juvabit.

After they had remained there for some days, Máel Dúin and his friends returned in peace to their own country, having made many new friends.

Then Máel Dúin went to his own home and kindred, and Diuran the Rhymer took with him the piece of silver that he had hewn from the net of the silver pillar, and laid it on the high altar of Armagh in triumph and exultation at the miracles that God had wrought for them.

And they told again the story of all that had befallen them, and all the marvels they had seen by sea and land, and the perils they had endured.

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Let it be known that Aed the Fair (Aed Finn), chief sage of Ireland, arranged this story as it appears here; and he did so as a delight to the mind, and for the people of Ireland who come after him.


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