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King Fergus MacLede and the Little People


Introduction
Two thousand years ago in Ireland when Conor MacNessa was King of Ulster,
there lived a man called Fergus MacLede. Fergus was a vassal, or sub-King of the
King of Ulster and he ruled a small kingdom in what is now the southern part of
county Down.
Fergus was considered to be a very good King said to be the wisest man in
Ireland. His palace was located near the present day village of Dundrum beside
Dundrum bay on the Irish Sea coast.
However, Fergus was not a happy man. He had once been considered to be very
handsome, but then the right hand side of his face had been badly burnt. This
made Fergus was very conscious about his appearance and he could not bear to
see his own reflection. As a consequence of this, Fergus forbade the presence of
any mirrors in his home.
An Unexpected Visitor
One day, there was a knock on the main entrance gate to the palace. The guard
on duty opened a small window in the gate and looked out to see who it was.
However, when he looked out there was nobody to be seen and so he closed the
window again.
Then there was another knock on the gate and a very faint voice asking to come
in. This time the guard opened the gate completely and stepped outside. He
looked all around but he could not see anyone. He was about to go back inside,
when he heard a little voice shouting Im down here. The guard looked down
and was amazed to see a tiny little man standing at his feet. The little man was
a Leprechaun.
The Leprechaun was exceptionally small. From head to toe, his height was no
more than the length of a mans hand from the wrist to the tips of the fingers.
(Less than 20 centimetres) The Leprechaun then said that he would like to speak
with King Fergus MacLede. The guard told the little man to wait at the gate and
he went and spoke to Fergus.
The guard told Fergus that there was a little man at the gate who wanted to
meet with him. Standing beside Fergus was Hugh the Dwarf, the smallest man in
Ulster. Hugh was the court Jester and was only about one meter tall. Fergus
asked the guard if the little man was smaller than Hugh. The guard replied that
the little man was much smaller than Hugh. Fergus was intrigued and so he went
outside to see for himself.
Fergus was amazed when he saw the little man at the gate since he had never
seen a Leprechaun before. The Leprechaun then politely bowed in front of Fergus
and said what an honour it was to meet him. He said that he had travelled all the
way from Faylinn, the land of the Little People especially to meet Fergus.

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Fergus then invited the Leprechaun inside and carefully lifted him up onto the
dining table. Fergus then asked the little man what his name was and why he
wanted to meet him. The little man replied that his name was Eisirt and that he
was a Bard in the land of the Little People. He said that even in Faylinn, Fergus
was well known for being the wisest man in Ireland.
In Ancient Ireland, Bards were professional Musician, Storytellers and Poets who
served Kings and Noblemen. They were also very witty and they were often used
to glorify their patrons in song, stories and verse.
Eisirt said that he had composed a song in honour of Fergus and wanted to seek
his approval of the song. Fergus was very surprised but he said that he would be
very pleased to hear the song. Eisirt removed a little harp that he had slung over
his back and began to play it and sing a song praising Fergus and the great
deeds that he had done. When the song was finished, Fergus and everyone
present were very impressed and so Fergus invited Eisirt to stay as his guest for
a few days and entertain his household.
Eisirt stayed for a week and entertained everyone with his songs, poems, stories
and jokes. Fergus was very happy with his guest especially as the little man had
made him laugh for the first time since his face had been burnt two years earlier.
Fergus invited Eisirt to stay permanently, but he replied that he could not as he
needed to return to the land of the Little People. Fergus then offered him a bag of
gold coins as a reward for all of his entertainment, but Eisirt replied that he had
no use for more gold since it was plentiful among the Little People.
Fergus insisted that Eisirt should be rewarded in some way and offered to give
him anything that he wanted within reason. Eisirt replied that there was one
thing that he would like as a reward. He asked Fergus for permission to have
Hugh the Dwarf come with him to the land of the Little People for a few days.
Fergus replied that Hugh was free to go to Faylinn if he wished to do so, although
he would not force Hugh to go against his will. Hugh said that he would very
much like to visit the land of the Little People although he was surprised at
getting such an invitation.
Ulterior Motives.
Eisirt said that he had not been completely honest about his reason for visiting
Fergus. He told them that the real reason for his visit was because he needed
their help. He said that he had been exiled from the land of the Little People and
that he would never see his wife and children again unless Fergus and Hugh
helped him.
Eisirt explained that his troubles began a couple of weeks earlier at a banquet
organized by Labann, the King of the Little People. The King had never been to
anywhere outside the land of the Little People and knew little of the world. At the
banquet, the King had boasted that he was the greatest King in the entire world
and that his army was unbeatable.

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Everyone present agreed with the King except Eisirt. Eisirt, who had taken a little
too much to drink and said that the Kings army was greatly inferior to that of
Conor MacNessa, the King of Ulster and the most powerful King in Ireland. Eisirt
had then continued by saying that even one warrior from the Kingdom of Ulster
was more than a match for a dozen of the Kings best soldiers.
Labann was furious and called Eisirt a lair. He also had Eisirt imprisoned. The
next day the Labann visited Eisirt in prison and demanded that he apologize for
what he had said. Eisirt refused and told the King that he could prove the truth of
what he has released. Labann agreed to release him but warned him not to ever
return to the land of the Little People unless he could prove the truth of what he
had said about the warriors of Ulster. Labann warned Eisirt that if he returned
without proof of what he had said, then he would be executed.
Eisirt then said that he decided to visit Fergus since he believed that he was the
only man in Ulster who would be prepared to help him. He said that he wanted to
show the King of the Little People that even the smallest man in Ulster was a
giant compared to the Kings soldiers.
On hearing this, Fergus said that of course, he would help Eisirt in any way he
could and they all agreed that Hugh would return to the Land of the Little People
the next day.
The Land of the Little People
The next day Eisirt and Hugh arose early. Hugh asked Eisirt where Faylinn was
located. Eisirt told him that it was an island hundreds of miles to the west of
Ireland far out into the Atlantic Ocean. Hugh then asked how the two of them
were to travel such a huge distance.
Eisirt assured Hugh that the huge distance was not a problem and that they
would travel to Faylinn by using the same method he had used to travel to
Ireland.
Eisirt then led Hugh outside of the palace and whistled loudly. Moments later, a
rabbit appeared. Eisirt said that he had travelled to Ireland by flying on the back
of his magic rabbit. Hugh replied that he was too big to get on the rabbits back
Eisirt told Hugh that he would temporarily need to shrink him so that he was
small enough to sit on the rabbits back. He then pulled out a little stick, uttered
some magic words and tapped Hugh with the stick. Hugh began to get smaller
and smaller until he was the same size as Eisirt. Then they both climbed on to
the rabbits back and they headed off to the land of the Little People.
Several hours later, they arrived in the land of the Little People and landed a
short distance from the palace of King Labann and they both dismounted. Eisirt
then said some magic words and tapped Hugh with his stick. Hugh then grew
back to his normal size and the headed for the palace along with Eisirt.

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Hugh walked up to the palace and easily stepped over the outer wall and into the
courtyard. The Little People inside the palace ran off in terror. Labann, the King of
the Little People heard the commotion and looked out of his window and say
Hugh and Eisirt. Moments later Hugh & Eisirt were surrounded by dozens of the
Kings soldiers although none were any taller than Hughs knee.
Labann then came down to the courtyard himself and asked Eisirt who the huge
giant was and what he was doing in the palace. Eisirt replied that Hugh was no
giant, but rather the smallest man in Ulster and he told the King how most
people in Ulster were twice as tall as Hugh was. Eisirt assured the King that Hugh
meant any harm to him or any of his subjects.
Labann then apologised to Hugh for disbelieving him and sending him into exile.
He also reinstated Eisirt in his former position in the court. Labann then
organized a huge feast and asked Hugh and Eisirt many questions about what
Ireland was like. The next day, Eisirt took Hugh back to Ireland and then returned
to Faylinn and both of them resumed their former lives. That might have been
the end of the matter, but Labann's curiosity ensured that this was not to be the
case.
Labann visits Ulster
A few days later Labann and his wife, Queen Bebo were discussing the things
that they had heard about life in Ireland. Queen Bebo said that she was sceptical
about some of the things that Eisirt and Hugh had told her. Labann said that
there was only one way to find out the truth of what they had heard. Labann said
that they both should secretly visit Ulster and see for themselves.
The next day, Labann and Bebo headed off for Ulster on their flying rabbits. As
they did not know the way, they took along a guide who knew the way. In order
to keep a low profile, they took nobody else along with them. Several hours later
they arrived outside the palace of Fergus MacLede and were amazed to see how
big everyone was. Labann decided that they should remain hidden and wait until
darkness fell.
A couple of hours later night fell, and apart from a few guards everyone in the
palace went to bed. Labann, Bebo and their guide then flew into the palace
secretly on their flying rabbits. Nobody saw them due to their small size. As they
were flying around, they spotted an open window and so they flew inside.
The window led into the palace kitchen which appeared enormous to
Leprechauns. As they were looking round, they saw an enormous pot and out of
curiosity, they climbed up on top of it to see what was inside. However, Labann
and Bebo lost balance and fell into the pot which had some porridge in the
bottom. They were up to their waists and unable to get out. Their guide could not
pull them out and so they told him to go back Faylinn for help.
The next morning, the servants arrived and were very surprised to see two
Leprechauns in their pot. So they took out Labann and Bebo carefully and
brought them to the King. Fergus was also very surprised to see them and he

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asked them who they were and what they were doing sneaking around his palace
in the middle of the night.
Labann and Bebo introduced themselves and explained why they were in
Fergus's palace. They then demanded to be set free immediately and warned
him that the whole Leprechaun army was on its way to rescue them. Fergus
however refused. He told them that if they had turned up at his gate and
introduced themselves, then he would have welcomed them. Instead, he said,
they had sneaked into his palace like thieves in the night. Fergus told them that
they were his prisoners until he figured out what to do with them. He gave them
a large wooden box to live in and assigned a servant to look after them.
The Leprechaun Army.
A short while later, one of Ferguss soldiers rushed in with an urgent message.
He told the King that the palace was surrounded by thousands of heavily armed
Leprechauns riding rabbits. As they were speaking a rabbit flew in through an
open window and landed on the table beside Fergus. The Leprechaun on the
rabbits back dismounted and spoke to Fergus. He said that he was the general of
King Labanns army and demanded to see Labann and Bebo immediately.
Fergus replied that he did not give in to threats. He said that he could see
Labann and Bebo but that they were his captives .He then took the general to
see Labann and Bebo. The general told Fergus that unless he released Labann
and Bebo immediately, there was going to be trouble. Fergus replied that his own
soldiers were more than a match for an army of tiny leprechauns.
The general then threatened to use magic to destroy the crops and kill the
animals in Ferguss kingdom and cause a famine and also to create sickness and
disease unless his king and queen were set free. Fergus replied that if any of his
subjects were harmed by Leprechaun magic, then he would kill Labann.
At this point Labann intervened. He proposed a compromise and offered to give
Fergus a magical gift in return for the freedom of Bebo and himself. He then read
out a list of magical items and asked Fergus which one he would like as a gift.
1. A cooking pot that never ran out of food.
2. A spear that always hit its target.
3. A harp that played any tune requested by itself.
4. A shield that protected its user from anything.
5. A pigskin that could cure any illness or injury when wrapped around
someone.
6. A pair of shoes that could be used to walk upon water
Fergus agreed to the proposal but he said that he needed to have a careful think
about what to pick. He said that Labann would have his answer in the morning.

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The next morning Fergus told Labann that he had made his choice. However, he
said that since he had tow prisoners, Labann and Bebo, he deserved two gifts. To
his surprise Labann agreed and asked what two items Fergus wanted. Fergus
said that he wanted the shoes that would walk upon water and the shield that
made its user invulnerable. Labann gave his word to deliver these items and so
Fergus released him and Bebo. The Leprechauns then all returned peacefully to
the land of the Little People. A few days late, a group of Leprechauns arrived with
the presents that Fergus had asked for.
How Ferguss face was burnt
Fergus had a good reason for his choice of gifts and did not just choose them on
a whim. He realised that he could use them to get revenge upon an old enemy
who had burnt his face and disfigured him two years earlier. Some two years
earlier, Fergus's face had been burnt when he had been attacked by a huge sea
monster on what we now know as Dundrum bay.
One day, Fergus was crossing the bay in a small boat which was being rowed by
two other men when a huge sea monster coming into the bay from the Irish Sea.
The two men with began to desperately row towards the shore. Unfortunately,
the monster saw them and soon caught up with them.
The monster immediately reached into the boat with its long neck and huge jaws
and grabbed one of the men who were rowing. Within a few moments, it had ate
him. Next, it lunged at Fergus who was the only one present to be armed. Fergus
drew his sword and struck the monster and injured it. The monster then turned
away and dived deep underwater and out of sight. However, it had not gone
away and moments later it surfaced under the boat throwing it and its occupants
high into the air.
Fergus fell into the water and realised that the shoreline was not too far away.
Unfortunately, the other man landed nearer to the monster and was caught
eaten by the monster almost immediately. Fergus, who was a good swimmer
began to swim for his life but the monster rapidly narrowed the cap between
them. As Fergus approached the shoreline, he turned around and looked over his
right shoulder. He saw that the monster was still too far away to catch him before
he got to the shoreline. But as Fergus turned, the monster shot out flames from
its mouth towards Fergus.
Fergus would have been killed if he had been much closer to the monster and
most of his body was protected by the water. However, the heat was still severe
enough to badly burn the right hand side of his face. Furthermore, the monster
made its home in the bay and anyone who tried to use the lake was eaten. This
is why Fergus chose the presents that he did from the little people.
Fergus confronts the Sea Monster
When Fergus got his magical presents from the little people he was not long in
trying them out. The following day, he put on the shoes and put the shield over
his shoulder. He strapped on his sword and took his best throwing spear and

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walked down to the bay. A huge crowd gathered and followed him to the
shoreline.
To everyone's amazement, the magic shoes worked. Fergus was able to walk on
the surface of the water as if it were dry land. He then walked out into the middle
of the bay and within moments, the monster appeared in the distance. As soon
as it saw Fergus, it charged at him at high speed. As soon as the monster was
close enough, Fergus threw his spear and hit the monster in the neck, causing it
to roar with pain and break its charge.
The spear wound just angered the monster and it lunged at Fergus with its long
neck and huge jaws. However, each time, the monster tried to bite him, Fergus
struck its head with his sword and injured it further. Then the monster changed
tactics and reared its head up in the air and breather fire down upon Fergus.
Fergus immediately used his magic shield and the flames were diverted away
from him and he was unharmed.
Each time the monster attacked Fergus it failed. When it tried to bite him, Fergus
struck the monster with his sword and injured it and each time it breathed fire
upon Fergus, the shield protected him. But then , the monster backed off and
dived down deep beneath the water and disappeared. Some of those watching
thought that it had given up, but Fergus knew better.
Looking down beneath his feet, Fergus saw the monster coming up rapidly from
beneath him as it had done before. Fergus pretended not to see the monster
coming until the last moment when he jumped aside. As the monsters head
came out of the water, he struck it hard with his sword and mortally wounded it.
As the monster lay floating on the water dying, Fergus struck it again and
finished it off. Then he cut its head off and held it above his head and the people
along the shore let out a huge cheer.
Fergus then walked back to dry land and placed the monsters head on the
ground. He also set down the magic shield and removed the magic shoes. No
sooner had he done this than the shield and shoes crumbled into dust. It seemed
that the little people had designed them to work on only one occasion. No doubt,
they did not want anyone other then themselves to have such magical items.
A Happy Ending
Fergus was very disappointed at losing such wonderful items, but then he
noticed people staring at him. Somebody asked him what was happening to his
face. Fergus walked over the the shoreline and looked at his reflection. Before his
eyes, his face was changing. The burnt skin was falling off his face and his
appearance was like it had been before he had been burnt.
Fergus had lost his magic presents, but regained something much more
important. And that is the end of the story of King Fergus MacLede and the Little
People.

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