My three daughters were as beautiful as they were kind, and much loved by people throughout the isles of the West. Then one day, as they sat on the rocks on the edge of the sea, dipping their feet in the water, a great beast arose from under the waves and swept them away beneath the ocean.
The fishermen saw it happen, but nobody knew where they had gone or how to find them. The whole country wept, and we were still weeping at Christmastime. For that reason, I was shocked to look out my window and see the local fellows playing shinny on my lawn!
I shouted at them and called them into my hall. “Why did you choose to play shinny in front of my castle when you knew full well that you would be reminding me of my daughters? You will suffer the pain you have made me suffer!”
I was angry but my heart softened in the presence of the boys. They were good fellows who had just wanted some fun after a long spell of grief. Ian stepped forward.
“Since we have done you wrong sir, build us a ship, and we will go and seek your daughters. Let them be to windward, or to leeward, or under the four brown boundaries of the sea, we will find them before a year and a day goes by, and we will carry them back to Grianaig.”
The ship was built in seven days. We loaded it with a great store of food and wine, and the lads sailed away.
Knight of Grianaig in Ian, The Soldier’s Son, Orange Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.