it happened that the king of Munster one day saw
a beautiful girl bathing, and he loved her and
made her his queen. And in all the land was no
woman so lovely to look upon as the fair Edain,
and the fame of her beauty came to the ears of
the great and powerful chief and king of the
Tuatha-de-Danann, Midar by name. So he disguised
himself and went to the court of the king of
Munster, as a wandering bard, that he might look
on the beauty of Edain. And he challenged the
king to a game of chess.
is this man that I should play chess with
him?" said the king.
me," said the stranger; "you will find
me a worthy foe."
when the queen heard that a stranger had
challenged the king to chess, she sent her page
in with a chess-board, and then came herself to
greet the stranger. And midar was so dazzled with
her beauty, that he could speak not, he could
only gaze on her. And the queen also seemed
troubled, and after a time she left them alone.
what shall we play for?" asked the king.
the conqueror name the reward," answered the
stranger, "and whatever he desires let it be
granted to him."
replied the monarch.
they played the game and the stranger won.
is your demand now?" cried the king. "I
have given my word that whatever you name shall
demand the Lady Edain, the queen, as my
reward," replied the stranger. "But I
shall not ask you to give her up to me till this
day year." And the stranger departed.
the king was utterly perplexed and confounded,
but he took good note of the time, and on that
night just a twelvemonth after, he made a great
feast at Tara for all the princes, and he placed
three lines of his chosen warriors all round the
palace, and forbade any stranger to enter on pain
of death. So all being secure, as he thought, he
took his place at the feast with the beautiful
Edain beside him, all glittering with jewels and
a golden crown on her head, and the revelry went
on till midnight. Just then, to his horror, the
king looked up, and there stood the stranger in
the middle of the hall, but no one seemed to
perceive him save only the queen. He fixed his
eyes on the queen, and coming towards her, he
struck the golden harp he had in his hand and
sang in a low sweet voice--
"O Edain, wilt thou
come with me
To a wonderful palace that is mine?
White are the teeth there, and black the
And crimson as the mead are the lips of
"O woman, if thou comest to my proud
'Tis a golden crown shall circle thy
Thou shalt dwell by the sweet streams of
And drink of the mead and wine in the
arms of thy lover."
he gently put his arm round the queen's wait, and
drew her up from her royal throne, and went forth
with her through the midst of all the guests,
none hindering, and the king himself was like one
in a dream, and could neither speak nor move. But
when he recovered himself, then he knew that the
stranger was one of the fairy chiefs of the
Tuatha-de-Danann who had carried off the
beautiful Edain to his fairy mansion. So he sent
round messengers to all the kings of Erin that
they should destroy all the forest of the hated
Tuatha race, and slay and kill and let none live
till the queen, his young bride, was brought back
to him. Still she came not. Then the king out of
revenge ordered his men to block up all the
stables where the royal horses of the Dananns
were kept, that so they might die of hunger; but
the horses were of noble blood, and no bars or
bolts could hold them, and they broke through the
bars and rushed out like the whirlwind, and
spread all over the country.
the kings, when they saw the beauty of the
horses, forgot all about the search for Queen
Edain, and only strove how they could seize and
hold as their own some of the fiery steeds with
the silver hoofs and golden bridles. Then the
king raged in his wrath, and sent for the chief
of the Druids, and told him he should be put to
death unless he discovered the place where the
queen lay hid. So the Druid went over all
Ireland, and searched, and made spells with
oghams, and at last, having carved four oghams on
four wands of a hazel-tree, it was revealed to
him that deep down in a hill in the very centre
of Ireland, Queen Edain was hidden away in the
enchanted palace of Midar the fairy chief.
the king gathered a great army, and they circled
the hill, and dug down and down till they came to
the very centre; and just as they reached the
gate of the fairy palace, Midar by his
enchantments sent forth fifty beautiful women
from the hillside, to distract the attention of
the warriors, all so like the queen in form and
features and dress, that the king himself could
not make out truly, if his own wife were amongst
them or not. But Edain, when she saw her husband
so near her, was touched by love of him in her
heart, and the power of the enchantment fell from
her soul, and she came to him, and he lifted her
up on his horse and kissed her tenderly, and
brought her back safely to his royal palace of
Tara, where they lived happily ever after.
soon after the power of the Tuatha-de-Danann was
broken for ever, and the remnant that was left
took refuge in the caves where they exist to this
day, and practise their magic, and work spells,
and are safe from death until judgment day.