The story of how the Chief Druid of the High King Cormac of Tara took on an apprentice and the consequences that ensued.
Overworked by the tasks assigned to him, Thascáin Mac Liadh was advised by Fionn mac Cumhaill to take on an apprentice to do the horse work freeing the druid up to spend time on performing magic and spells.
You'll still meet people that'll tell you that the druids of ancient Ireland has an easy time of it.
Along with Fionn, the druid travelled to the Cliffs of Moher in search of an apprentice. After finding Micilín, deemed to be a suitable candidate for the job, they took him back to Tara. It was battle season and many of those injured in battle were sent to An Taiscain. When the battle season ended, Thascáin was exhausted, packed his things and headed for the curing waters of Lisdoonvarna and leaving his apprentice in charge.
As soon as the druid had left, Dara Óg decided to invade Ireland. Many were injured in battle and one man came looking for the Druid to help cure his injuries. He was holding his leg in his arm. The apprentice sent him off saying that he was not qualified to deal with it and told him that the druid was in Lisdoonvarna. Pleading with Micilín, the man said he was bleeding to death. The apprentice agreed to help and examined the druid’s books where he kept his spells. The young apprentice took a needle and thread to his leg and sewed it back on. When the man went stand up, he fell over as the apprentice had sewn the leg on backwards.
More and more injured men arrived to be seen by the druid. The apprentice continued to assist the injured sewing one man’s hand back on backwards. The queue of injured men continued throughout the night and the apprentice continued to tend to their injuries growing more and more tired. All the while, his work was not improving.
Hands, legs and ears sticking out where there should be no hands, legs and ears.
The mutated men returned to battle and upon seeing them the enemy retreated and surrendered fearing what they were witnessing. News soon spread to King Cormac that the young apprentice had saved Ireland.
Upon hearing the news, Thascáin returned from Lisdoonvarna to Tara and explained to the king that his books had been used incorrectly. However, the king advised the druid to keep the apprentice who he believed had done great work and went on to replace the druid when he died.
'Storyteller - The Druid's Apprentice' was broadcast on 14 July 1986. The storyteller is Eddie Lenihan.
This is part four in the twelve-part series and the programme was produced by Jeremy Johnston with design by Fidelma De Paor.
Jeremy Johnston told the RTÉ Guide (20 June 1986),
Eddie’s stories are not for the faint-hearted but then good stories never are. Think of the brothers Grimm, Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast...
Eddie Lenihan explains that he came across most of the stories in the programme while studying for a thesis in linguistics at University College Galway (UCG). He became interested in folklore and continued to collect stories from across the West of Ireland.