29. The Silver Pillar


THEN THEY TRAVELLED ON, until they came to an immense column made entirely of silver, standing all alone in the ocean.

It had eight sides, each of which was the width of an oar-stroke of the curragh, so that its circumference was eight oar-strokes. It rose out of the sea without any land or earth around it; there was nothing but the boundless ocean, so that water lapped against its sides. They could not see its base deep down in the water; it disappeared into the depths. Neither were they able to see the top, on account of its vast height. Above them, it reached into the cloudless sky until it disappeared.

A net made of woven silver cord had been hung from somewhere high above, and it hung down to the very water, where it extended far out from one side of the pillar; and the meshes were so large that the curragh, in full sail, easily passed through one of them. When they were going through it, Diuran struck the mesh with his spear, and cut a piece off it.

“Do not destroy the net,” said Máel Dúin, “for this is the work of great men.”

“What I have done,” answered Diuran, “is for the honour of God, and in order that the story of our adventures can be believed. I shall lay this piece of the net as an offering on the altar at Armagh, if we ever reach our home again.”

That piece of silver weighed two and a half ounces, when it was weighed afterwards by the people of the church of Armagh.

After this they heard someone speaking from far above them, in a loud, clear, and distinct voice; but they could decipher neither what was said, nor in what language it was said.

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