5. Máel Dúin Meets His Father’s People

    SOON AFTERWARDS, Máel Dúin travelled with his three foster-brothers to Ninuss, where his father’s people lived, for they were his own blood. He was greeted warmly and made welcome, and so much honour was shown to the four visitors that soon they all became happy and content, and Máel Dúin forgot all the abasement and trouble he had undergone.

    He heard many stories and memories of his father.

    One day, it happened that a number of young men were in a churchyard, amusing themselves. The game was to compete in throwing a stone clear over the charred roof of the church, for it had been burned many years ago, and Máel Dúin was there contending among the others.

    Máel Dúin was about to cast his stone, and to steady himself, he had placed his foot on a scorched flagstone.

    A rude fellow named Briccne, a monk attached to the church, was close by, and he said to Máel Dúin:

    “It would be better for you to avenge the man who was burned to death here, than to be amusing yourself by throwing a stone over his bare, burnt bones!”

    “Who was he?” inquired Máel Dúin.

    “Why, this is the Dooclone church,” replied the monk, and the one who was slain here was your own father. It was Allil Ocar Agha who died on the rock on which you rest your foot.”

    “Who slew him?” asked Máel Dúin.

    “Reavers from Leix attacked us. They slew our chief and burned this very church over his body,” replied Briccne. “And they are still sailing in the same fleet.”

    On hearing this, Máel Dúin dropped the stone that he held in his hand. He fastened his cloak around him, and buckled on his shield.

    And he left the gathering at Dooclone church, and began to ask everyone he met whether they knew the whereabouts of the raiders’ ships.

    For a long time, he could find no news of them; but finally he met some people who knew where the fleet lay. They told him that the raiders’ home was a great distance away — and that to reach it would require a long and dangerous sea voyage.

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