Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Kelpie of Corryvreckan

Many years ago, Beltane Eve rejoicings were going on at Moy, not far from Loch Buie in Mull. When the bonfires were blazing and the dancing and revelry were at a height, there appeared a young and handsome stranger, mounted on a white steed, who seized the loveliest of the village maidens, swung her ont the saddle before him, and galloped with her over mountain and moor to the dark sea-shore.

He then dismounted and asked the maiden if she would be his, "a so a chaoidh" (for evermore). Bewildered by this tempestuous wooing and weary after travelling the rocky road on horseback, the girl asked if he was taking her to some dwelling across the sea or if he had a ship waiting for her, as she would fain rest. To this he replied:

I have no dwelling beyond the sea,
I have no good ship waiting for thee.

Thou shalt sleep with me on a couch of foam
And the depths of the sea shall be thy home.

Only then did she realize she had been carried off by none other than the dreaded Kelpie of Corryvreckan, who could assume man's form at will. She turned his eyes on the horse and saw that its saddle was of seaweed, its bridle of pearl, and its bit of coral. Its man was like the froth of the waves, and as she gazed, it plunged into the billows and became one with the foam of the sea. Its erstwhile rider then seized her in his arms and bore her with him into the green depths. The maiden's shrieks were heard above the loud roaring of the blast as they sank.

Down to the rocks where the serpents creep,
Twice five hundred fathoms deep.

Next morning, a fisherman saw her corpse floating near the shore and recognized her by her lily-white skin and golden hair. She was buried under a rock on the shore with the dirge of the waves as her requiem. Every year, on Beltane eve, it is said that the Kelpie gallops across the green on his sea-horse swift as the wind, with the mournful ghost of a maiden held fast on the saddle before him.

-- from Murray, Scottish Sea Stories


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