Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, February 14, 2005

House of Wings

In Echtra Mecik Cuind -- “The Adventure of Art son of Conn” -- (the surviving text is dated post-1200 AD) -- Conn, having sailed on the ocean without knowledge or guidance, reaches an island full of fragrant apple-trees, delicious nuts and wells full of wine. He sees a hall which is thatched with white, yellow and blue birds’ wings. He is given food and wine without knowing who has fetched them for him.

In the second part of the text Conn’s son Art also reaches an island after roaming the ocean. This island is again full of apples, birds, and flowers, and has a noble and hospitable house in the middle of the island. The house is thatched with white and purple birds’ wings; inside dwell a company of beautiful women.

It would seem that the presence of a house thatched with birds’ feathers in a paradise was a conventional motif in Irish travel stories which the Voyage
((of St. Brendan)) author probably picked up and incorporated in his work.

-- Clara Strijbosch, The Seafaring Saint


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