Woodcut of a mill


During the reign of Cormac it happened that some of the lords of Ulster made a raid upon the Picts in Alba and brought home many captives. Among them was a Pictish maiden named Kiernit, daughter of a king of that nation, who was strangely beautiful, and for that the Ulstermen sent her as a gift to King Cormac. And Cormac gave her as a household slave to his wife Ethne, who set her to grinding corn with a hand-quern, as women in Erinn were used to do.

One day as Cormac was in the palace of the Queen he saw Kiernit labouring at her task and weeping as she wrought, for the toil was heavy and she was unused to it. Then Cormac was moved with compassion for the women that ground corn throughout Ireland, and he sent to Alba for artificers to come over and set up a mill, for up to then there were no mills in Ireland.

Now there was in Tara, as there is to this day, a well of water called The Pearly, for the purity and brightness of the water that sprang from it, and it ran in a stream down the hillside, as it still runs, but now only in a slender trickle. Over this stream Cormac bade them build the first mill that was in Ireland, and the bright water turned the wheel merrily round, and the women in Tara toiled at the quern no more.

Text Source:
The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland.
T. W. Rolleston, ed. Illustrations by Stephen Reid.
London: G. G. Harrap & Co., 1910. 185-186.

Background courtesy of Windhaven Web Art.

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