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Aillan Mac Midhna

Extracted from Wentz's "Fairy Faith in the Celtic Land

And that very night which followed the day on which the ollave to the Tuatha De Danann came to them was the Eve of Samain. There was also another of these fairy timpán-players called ‘the wondrous elfin man’, ‘Aillén mac Midhna of the Tuatha De Danann, that out of sídh Finnachaidh to the northward used to come to Tara: the manner of his coming being with a musical timpán in his hand, the which whenever any heard he would at once sleep. Then, all being lulled thus, out of his mouth Aillén would emit a blast of fire. It was on the solemn Samain-Day (November Day) he came in every year, played his timpán, and to the fairy music that he made all hands would fall asleep. With his breath he used to blow up the flame and so, during a three-and-twenty years’ spell, yearly burnt up Tara with all her gear.’ And it is said that Finn, finally overcoming the magic of Aillén, slew him.

Perhaps in the first musician, Cascorach, though he is described as the son of a Tuatha De Danann minstrel, we behold a mortal like one of the many Irish pipers and musicians who used to go, or even go yet, to the fairy-folk to be educated in the musical profession, and then come back as the most marvellous players that ever were in Ireland; though if Cascorach were once a mortal it seems that he has been quite transformed in bodily nature so as to be really one of the Tuatha De Danann himself. But Aillén mac Midhna is undoubtedly one of the mighty ‘gentry’ who could—as we heard from County Sligo—destroy half the human race if they wished. Aillén visits Tara, the old psychic centre both for Ireland’s high-kings and its Druids. He comes as it were against the conquerors of his race, who in their neglectfulness no longer render due worship and sacrifice on the Feast of Samain to the Tuatha De Danann, the gods of the dead, at that time supreme; and then it is that he works his magic against the royal palaces of the kings and Druids on the ancient Hill. And to overcome the magic of Aillén and slay him, that is, make it impossible for him to repeat his annual visits to Tara, it required the might of the great hero Finn, who himself was related to the same Sidhe race, for by a woman of the Tuatha De Danann he had his famous son Ossian