Giobniu, the divine smith of the old times, made a new sword and a new spear for every one that was broken in the great battle between the gods and the mis-shapen Fomor. “No spearpoint that is made by my hand,” he said, “will ever miss its mark; no man it touches will ever taste life again.” It was his father who, with a cast of a hatchet, could stop the inflowing of the tide; and it was he himself whose ale gave lasting youth: “No sickness or wasting ever comes on those who drink at Giobniu’s Feast.” Later he became a saint, a master builder, builder of a house “more shining than a garden; with its stars, with its sun, with its moon.” To-day he is known as the builder of the round towers of the early Christian centuries, and of the square castles of the Anglo-Normans. And the stories I have given of him, called as he now is, “the Goban Saor,” show that he has fallen still farther in legend from his high origin.
As to O’Connell, perhaps because his name, like that of Finn and the Goban, is much in the mouths of the people, there is something of the absurd already coming into his legend. The stories of him show more than any others how swiftly myths and traditions already in the air may gather around a memory much loved and much spoken of. He died only sixty years ago, and many who have seen and heard him are still living; and yet he has already been given a miraculous birth, and the power of a saint is on its way to him. I have charged my son, and should I live till he comes to sensible years, I will charge my grandson, to keep their ears open to the growth of legend about him who was once my husband’s friendly enemy, and afterwards his honoured friend.
I do not take the credit or the discredit of the opinions given by the various speakers, nor do I go bail for the facts; I do but record what is already in “the Book of the People.” The history of England and Ireland was shut out of the schools and it became a passion. As to why it was shut out, well, I heard someone whisper “Eugene Aram hid the body away, being no way anxious his scholars should get a sight of it.” But this also was said in the barony of Kiltartan.