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Legend of the Chief of Clanawley
In this magical tale a chief of the MacAuliffes rescues a fair lady from the clutches of the faeries.
There was a time long ago when the people of Clann MacAuliffe enjoyed peace and prosperity in their land of Clanawley. At their principal castle, Castlemacauliffe, the chieftain hosted great feasts attended by chiefs and their retinues from neighbouring clanns.The chieftain himself frequently led the hunt for the deer and pig which were then plentiful in Clanawley. The prize from the hunt was prepared for the feasting, and at these banquets the bards extolled the prowess of the chieftain in the hunt. The wine flowed freely as musicians and poets entertained the assembled guests.

One of the guests at these banquets was Ellen, the daughter of a neighbouring chieftain, and MacAuliffe (the chief) had fallen for her charms. He was greatly dismayed, therefore, when he was informed that the lovely Ellen had died. An old wizard told MacAuliffe, however, that the lady Ellen was not truly dead but her spirit was being held captive in the palace of the Faeries. MacAuliffe vowed to rescue the lady by going himself to the Faerie palace, a place where no mortal should venture. He told no one of his plans for he knew that his advisers would warn of the dangers of such a venture and might try to prevent him from undertaking it. Instead he went alone to the peaks of the nearby mountains where travellers had told of seeing the unearthly palace. He searched into the gathering darkness and to his great wonder he saw it - the palace of the faeries, standing like a beacon in the gloom.

MacAuliffe entered the palace of the Faeries just as a feast was in progress. Amongst those assembled he saw great chiefs of the past, sea nymphs and faeries of various kinds, and maids who had been taken long ago from their earthly homes. And amongst them his eyes fell on the lovely Ellen.

The faeries were greatly surprised to see a mortal enter their domain but welcomed him nonetheless. A Lord of the Faeries greeted MacAuliffe and tried to persuade him to stay in their palace. He tempted him with promise of music divine, food and wine of wondrous taste, and the company of ladies whose beauty could not be exceeded. MacAuliffe thanked his host but declined his offer, saying that he would stay only long enough to have one dance before he returned to his own castle. He went straight to Ellen, much to the disappointment of the many beautiful ladies present who had eagerly sought the attention of such a handsome chief. He led Ellen in a dance and whirled her around the floor. Then, whispering to her of his plan, he swept her toward the door and they rushed outside. As they escaped, the first crowing of the cock sounded the arrival of the dawn and the Faerie Palace faded away. MacAuliffe and Ellen returned to their earthly home.

MacAuliffe married the lovely Ellen and, in the tradition of all good faerie stories, they lived happily thereafter. It is said that they enjoyed a magical life. MacAuliffe's boldness in snatching back a lady who had been taken by the faeries was hailed far and wide.

The story is told that many years later their son also had a magical experience when one day, overcome by fatigue, he lay down to rest by the side of a well. ( This well was located where, if it existed today, it would be seen on entering Newmarket from the west). He drank from the well, fell asleep and, on awakening some hours later, was endowed with the gift of prophecy.

Note: 'MacAuliffe the Prophet' features in MacAuliffe genealogies and is possibly that same person.

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Legend of the Chief of Clanawley
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This page last updated 28 June 2009

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