7. The Island of the Fierce Beast

FOR ANOTHER THREE DAYS they sailed without seeing land, and then on the fourth day, they came upon an island that was great in size, with vast and flat sandy beaches.

As they approached it, they saw a huge animal standing on the beach, looking at them attentively. It was like a horse in shape; but its legs were like those of a dog, and it had great, sharp claws of a blueish tint. It pranced and leaped around on the beach, as though it was overjoyed to see them approaching.

Máel Dúin was unsure about the monster. Telling his companions to proceed with care, for the creature seemed bent on mischief, he instructed the oarsmen to row slowly towards land.

Máel Dúin soon made his decision. “I do not like this beast. He is too pleased to see us. We had better leave this island.” And he was right, for in its heart, the creature wanted to kill and eat the travelers as soon as they landed on the beach.

They turned away from island. When the animal realised that they were leaving, it ran down to the water’s edge, and in a great rage began digging up large rocks with its sharp claws, and hurling them at the vessel.

It was all the crew could do to get beyond his reach, and the boat almost capsized, but they persisted and rowed with all their strength, and so eventually escaped into the open sea.

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