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They demanded to have back their king. 'Give honour to Cellachan in the presence of the men of Munster!' commanded Sitric in his wrath. 'Let him even be bound to the mast! For he shall not be without pain in honour of them!' 'I give you my word' said Cellachan, as he was lifted up, ' that it is a greater sorrow to me not to be able to protect Cashel for you, than to be in great torture'.
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   GREEN, ALICE STOPFORD,  The Old Irish World.

Dublin: Gill, 1912. 8vo, cloth, spine lettered gilt, 198 pages, illustrated. Covers stained, with wear at spine ends and tips of corners; gift inscription on browned endpaper. Good. (Price in EURO = 25.00)
Price: 27.00 USD
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Under the power of this national feeling the Irish learned from the Danes not only the new trade, but they learned also the new sea warfare, and understood their lesson so well that they were soon able to drive back the armies and fleets of the Danes, and to become themselves the leaders of Danish and norse troops in battle. It was around 950 A.D. that the Irish won their first famous naval victory.

Cellachan, king of Cashel, had been taken prisoner by the Norse, and was carried to Citric's ship at Dundalk. An army was sent from Munster across Ireland to rescue him. They demanded to have back their king. 'Give honour to Cellachan in the presence of the men of Munster!' commanded Sitric in his wrath. 'Let him even be bound to the mast! For he shall not be without pain in honour of them!' 'I give you my word' said Cellachan, as he was lifted up, ' that it is a greater sorrow to me not to be able to protect Cashel for you, than to be in great torture'. 'It is a place of watching where I am,' he cried, high lifted above them all. 'I see what your champions do not see, since I am at the mast of the ship.' 'Are these your ships that are coming now?' said he. For on the far horizon rose the masts of his fleet of Munster sailing into Dundalk harbour, six score of them, the full muster of the ships gathered from every sea port between Cork and Galway...

When the Irish captains looked on their king bound and fettered to the mast, their aspect became troubled, their colour changed, and their lips grew pale. From his place of agony Cellachan watched the onset of his sailors, and heard the rattle of swords and javelins filling the air like the sound that arises from the seashore full of stones trodden by herds of cattle and racing horses... He saw his people, defended only by their 'strong enclosures of linen cloth to protect bodies and necks and noble heads,' as they dashed themselves into the Norse ships among the mail-clad warriors; he watched the heroic Failbe springing on the deck of Sitric's battle-ship, and with a high and deer-like leap mount on the mast, his right-hand sword swinging against the crowding enemy, while with the sword in his mighty left hand he cut the ropes that bound king Cellachan.

In the moment of his king's salvation Failbe fell dead. As the Norsemen struck off his head and set it upon the prow of the ship, Failbe's foster-brother, mad for revenge, with an eager falcon-like leap sprang into the warship, and since no weapon could pierce the armour of the Norse king, he fixed his white hands in the bosom of Sitric's coat of mail and dragged him down into the water, so that they together reached the gravel and the sand of the sea and rested there. After six hours battle the remnant of the Scandinavian fleet put out to sea, and says the old saga they carried neither King not Chieftain with them.

After that battle came other triumphs... The spirit of independence rose high, and victorious warriors established again the rule of the Irish in their own land.

Alice Stopford Green. The Old Irish World. pp. 90-92.


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