“Hiding, always hiding, always afraid, when will oi not feel this way. By the Saints, but oi want this feeling to stop, to be gone forever,” Shannon McCleary whispered to herself, as she darted from her hiding place, behind an ancient tree in the northernmost Glen.
Evening was coming on, and the shadows were folding in upon themselves, giving way to the unnatural silence of the glen.
The misty fog afforded her tiny body a small measure of hope. Hope that she could reach the others, before he could catch up with her.
Deeper into the thick vegetation she ran, through Fairy-flax and Fairy Mushrooms her small feet flew. It was full night now, the suns last rays gone, hidden by the dark of the night, and she was almost home.
Home was in the deepest, darkest part of the glen. As she saw the twinkling lights of home, she knew she was safe.
She heard music and the sounds of laughter from her sister Deirdre’s handfasting feast, only then did her heartbeat start slowing back to normal.
As Shannon reached the gnarled old Hawthorn tree she placed her right hand upon its rough bark, closed her eyes and gave thanks to de Saints, she was home.
Not a man in Ireland would breach the ‘Sacred Three,’ for any amount of gold. She bowed in reverence to the ancient three, the Ash, the Oak and the Hawthorn tree, growing side by side.
Her gossamer gown, in the palest of green, shimmered in the light of the moon. Shannon removed the clip that held up her waist length mane of, curly dark red hair, and let it blow in the gentle breeze of the autumn night.
“And jist wha would yer ‘av been off to lass,” A deep timbre voice said, as Patrick stepped from behind the tree.
“So Shannon McCleary, ‘tiz a feast an’ dancing that yer ‘av been ‘iding from dis night. Or, perhaps yer jist ‘ide from me?”
Shannon jumped and squealed, startled by his presence, “Patrick O’Shea, ’tis twenty years of me life you ‘av scared from me this ‘allows evenin’.” De evil wans are about and ’tis gold dey be a wanting,” Shannon stated adamantly.
“’tis but lore, de elders tell to scare de wee bairns, Shannon McCleary I think ‘tiz de blarney stone you have kissed this evenin, with all dees shenanigans ye ‘ve been up to. Shame be on ye Shannon, ye missed your sister’s ‘andfastin’ feast.”
one of yer horse hoofing stories, or down-right telling me a fib?”
“Off with you, Patrick O’Shea, your ‘av no right, to be talkin’ to me dis way. you are not me Da. I am free until hand-fasted an’ I ‘ill’ not agree to be hand-fasted to you.”
“Aye you ‘ill Shannon McCleary, aye you ‘ill, an’ before de summer solstice,” Patrick told her as he walked back to join the handfasting celebration.
“Stupid Deirdre, she just had to go an’ marry Brogan O’Shea. De O’Shea clan may be fierce warriors of de southernmost glen, but not wan lick of sense, not even if you add all de noggins between dem,” Shannon grumbled as she stomped back and forth in front of the “Sacred Three.”
“Tiz not noggins needed in this family child, tiz de fierce warriors we be sorely lacking. naw daughter, ‘ill yer be tellin’ de true of this evenin’ shenanigans, or ‘ill this be more blarney from you?”
“Da, ‘ill not be telling you blarney, ‘tiz true what I say this evenin…” Shannon did not want her father to know that she had left the protection of de glen, but she knew she must tell him some of the truth. Her father always knew when she told a lie, but he never found out when she told him, her half-truths.
Fintan McCleary crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the old hawthorn tree. His pipe hanging from his mouth, with puffs of smoke spiraling up and off into de dark. “Oi’ are waitin’ daughter,” he said impatiently, as he reached up and removed his pipe from his mouth blowing smoke rings, one after another.
Shannon looked at her father. He was a jaunty looking man, with a twinkle in his eyes. In his emerald-green silk shirt with turned up cuffs and dark emerald pants held up with a black belt that had a wide shiny silver buckle on it, he was a dashing figure of a man. He was starting to look old to her now, grey hair framed his face, and this made her feel sad.
“Da, you be knowing this evenin’ is Al’ ‘allows evenin, so you know ‘tiz much that is amiss beyond our glen,” she said.
“Ay daughter, I ‘ave known this well a-fore you were born,” Fintan answered Shannon with a slight frown on his face. “Go on with it. yer best not be horse hoofing or fibbing in yer words daughter.
Shannon scuffed her foot on de ground, “Da, oi went to see de bairns, at der Al’ ‘allows-eve merriment. ‘Tiz but a glorious sight to see, they be dressed in garb of all manner of Elves, Goblins, Ghosts, Witches an’ aye, even leprechaun’s.”
“By de Saint’s daughter, it wus not only a day past oi told you, to not be leaving de glen on ‘allows eve.”
“Aye Da, but -“
“Shannon, ’tis by de saints I say, so ’tis time you be hand-fasted to Patrick O’Shea. It ‘ill be tonight, oi ‘ill be telling O’Shea he may take you ta wed. De sooner de better you wed, before wan of de town folks se yer an’ grab yer. Worse, be if de ‘Pooka’ would ‘av found yer, child. De Pooka want all that is not theirs, but to steal you away girl… By de Saints daughter, you ‘ill be de death o’ me yet.”
Having angrily scolded Shannon, he pointed to the throng of people celebrating the marriage of his eldest daughter, Deirdre.
“Go, to you sister an’ yer best be lettin’ on dat yer are ‘appy for her. yer ‘ill not be a puss bake an’ ruin de ‘ooley for ‘er. Yer hears me words daughter?”
Standing there with his brows furrowed in anger, his hand outstretched, pointing towards the handfasting celebration, Fintan McCleary, looked dangerously angry.
With her head bowed in obvious shame, Shannon simply said, “Aye Da,” and quickly headed towards the celebration party.
After she was far enough away, Shannon started grumbling to herself.
” Oi’ be angrier than de Banshee this night. Why can you not see Da, that it is wrong to wed me off to Patrick O’Shea? Oi be only jist past young age, a few years, an’ der is a world to see yet. Patrick ‘ill be a wonderful husband, but not now.”
The tears flowed freely down Shannon’s tiny face. Tears, twinkling in the moon light, landed on the grass and the fallen leaves, leaving a trail that looked like dew drops where they fell.
Later that night, as the celebration continued, Fintan McCleary raised his glass of spirits and used his knife to make a loud ringing noise, effectively quieting everyone there.
“Oi’ ‘ill be making a toast ter me daughter Deirdre an” me new son Brogan O’Shea” Clearing his throat he began, “May you life be merry, an’ ‘always be full of love an’… may you larder always be full of food an’ grog!”
Laughter and voices filled the night air, across their small part of the glen. As everyone shouted in agreement to Fintan’s words, they lifted their drinks and toasted the new couple, everyone except Shannon.
Shannon had been unable to feel happy since she had spoken with her father earlier under the ‘Sacred Three.’ She knew it would not be long before her father told everyone his decision, regarding her future.
Clinking his glass once again, Fintan said; “Now, oi ‘a’ve been speaking with Patrick O’Shea, here,” he said as he patted Patrick on the back, “an oi a’ve agreed ter give him me daughter, Shannon to be ‘andfasted.”
Once again, cheering and’ shouting voices shattered the quiet of the night.
Patrick held his hand up quieting everyone down and then looked towards Shannon and said, “So ‘tiz time we were married Shannon, what say yer?”
Shannon had decided she would obey her father earlier, when he had chastised her. Now though, seeing the smug look in Patrick’s eyes, her Irish temper flared.
“Don’t be lookin’ so smug at me, Patrick O’Shea,” she said between clenched teeth.
“For I be swearing in front of all dees good folks, to de Saint’s that be, oi ‘ill’ not marry yer until, ‘From Glen to Glen, At Rainbow’s End,’ de rainbow we both see.”
With that, Shannon took off running. She ran and ran until the glen was far behind her, only then did she stop, lie down on the soft green grass and cry herself to sleep.
Patrick was shocked. Fintan had told him that Shannon was ready to accept his marriage proposal, what then had just happened?
He did not understand anything that had just occurred, but he felt sure that if he cornered Fintan, sly old man that he was, he would soon hear the truth of it. Corner him he did.
“Patrick McCleary, we ‘ad best be talking aboyt dis arseways problem, you went an’ caused me. Were you filling me ears with
Were you filling me ears with one of yer horse hoofing stories, or down-right telling me a fib?”
“Now now, me boy, do’ not eat de head off of me, calm down an’ oi ‘ill tell you exactly what was said, down by de ‘Sacred Three.’
First, me boy, why don’t you be fetching me a spot-of-de drink? oi needs to wet me throat before I tell you.”
After Patrick gave Fintan a glass of grog, he sat and listened to what had transpired between father and daughter, earlier that evening.
Once he had heard the entire story, Patrick understood.
Shannon was a hard-headed, fiery tempered girl and would not be happy having to obey her father’s demands. Then of course, Patrick had made it worse by his offhanded way of asking her to marry him.
“I ‘ill’ not blather de rest of de night. oi have to find Shannon an’ explain how yer an’ I managed to turn this all arseways this evenin.”
Fintan agreed with Patrick, so immediately they left the glen, in search of Shannon.
For three days, they searched. Stopping to rest, only when worn to the bone and their legs would not hold them up any longer and when they did stop, it was just for a few hours rest.
Around dusk, on the third day, Patrick was listening for any sounds of life in the forest, when he heard what he thought were a man’s voice.
Fintan had just finished saying, that there was no way that Shannon would voluntarily came into the bog; when Patrick threw his hand over Fintan’s mouth.
“Be still,” Patrick hissed.
Fintan nodded his head and both men listened as they moved silently in the direction Patrick thought he heard the voice coming from.
Crouched behind the thick ferns and brambles, they strained to hear what the man was saying.
“He sold you out, oi tell you girl, you own kin led us ta you. Now we want what, by law you ‘av ta be giving us.”
“By de Saint’s ya blackguard eejit, what yer be blathering on about. Only a gob daw, with naw brains in yer noggin, would say a Pooka was a-kin ta me.
“Do not be letting on girl, all of us town folk know about you kind, an’ oi says you is kin to dem Pookas.”
“Oh, well den, ‘aving an’ eejit like you say it, den it must be true. an’ would you be a telling me how oi be kin to de Pooka, since you be so knowing of matters such as dis?”
“Oi’ know cause me Ma told me tales, all me life,” as he spoke, he started nodding his large head vigorously as if he had proven his point.
Shannon was having fun. She loved verbal sparring with this dim-witted man they called Ian Kavanagh. He was so ignorant he never realized she was making fun of him.
It was the one they called Shane O’Sullivan, whom she was afraid of. He was a small-withered old man. He had dark evil eyes and he carried himself in a way that reminded you of a snake, he seems to slither, not walk, when he came towards her.
There were three men altogether, the third one was young and you could tell, by the way his eyes kept looking down, away from Shannon, that he did not want to be a part of this. He was shy and easy on the eyes with his reddish blond hair, boyish good looks and body that only an Olympian should have. He was also, just a follower.
Shannon knew that if she was ever going to get away, she had to keep talking to Ian.
“Ian,” Shane barked in his high scratchy voice, as he walked into the clearing. ” ‘As she said anythin’ ter yer yet?”
“Aye boss, dat is al’ she ‘as been doin, jist blathering on.”
“Naw eejit, oi mean ‘as she told you wha de gold is,” The old man screeched at him.
“Naw, al’ she says that she is not kin ter de Pookas. So, oi towl ‘er oi am smarter that dat an’, oi says oi was towl by me ma dat…”
Ian’s voice trailed off when he heard the venom in Shane’s voice. He wanted to look at him, but he knew he was to not, for any reason, take his eyes off Shannon.
“Shut your gob boy, oi am tired of her letting on that she knows nothing aboyt me gold. oi ‘ill rip her apart wit – Ouch, what de–”
Shane grabbed the side of his head as he yelled. When he yelled, Ian took his eyes off Shannon just long enough, for her to take off like a bolt of lightning.
As she ran, she heard footsteps coming up behind her. She heard her father say, “Scatter daughter, dey ‘ill not be catching you again this evenin.”
After what felt like hours, Fintan said, “We nade ter be stopping nigh, oi be getting on in donkey years.”
Laughing, Shannon stopped and fell down on de grass beside her father.
“Thank you Da, but you need naw ‘ve bothered yerself, it wus wid eejits oi be.
“No daughter, oi be de eejit. oi turned things all arseways, when oi decided ta fib ta Patrick, oi told em it wus your idea to be hand-fasted with em.”
Fintan’s old green hat was in his hands and he was twisting it as he talked.
“Da, wha is Patrick,” Shannon asked as she gently covered her father’s rough old work-worn hands with hers.
“Uh, ‘e was ter wan who threw ter rock an’ hit ter old dried-up blackguard. “E said ter be getting yer back ter de glen, while ‘e tricked ’em ter following ’em. So, me daughter, we needs be off. ’tis a fair days walk from ‘ere.”
Standing and dusting his pants off, Fintan saw The worried look on her face. Taking her by the arm and looping his arm with hers, he said, “now daughter don’ be fretting so, Patrick knows what ‘e be about. ‘E’s been outsmarting blackguards for many a year.”
“Oi know dat Da, oi am worried Patrick ‘ill’ not want ter ‘andfast with me now. Not after de way oi spoke ta ’em, in de glen.”
“Patrick is a good boy, me daughter; oi knows ‘e loves you.”
After giving Shannon a quick hug, they quickly headed for home and the safety of the “Sacred Three.”
The next day Fintan and Shannon arrived home to see a crowd of people gathered in a circle in the glen. As they walked closer, the crowd opened up to reveal Patrick in the center of them.
Running to him and hugging his neck, Shannon told Patrick that she was sorry. She told him she had let her temper and anger at her father, get the best of her. She explained how she had hidden from him, because she knew she loved him, but was afraid of being married.
After she finished her explanation, she stood back to hear what Patrick had to say.
“Tis but a sad day Shannon McCleary, for ’tis not possible for us ter wed.”
With tears falling, Shannon said, “Yer ‘ill’ not be forgivin’ me den Patrick.”
“Tiz not de problem Shannon, de problem ‘tiz, yer stood ‘ere in ‘tiz very glen an’ swore to de Saints, yer said, “For I be swearing in front of all dees good folks, to de Saint’s that be, oi ‘ill’ not marry yer until, ‘From Glen to Glen, At Rainbow’s End,’ de rainbow we both see.”
Patrick had tears in his eyes as he bent down and gently kissed her on the lips. It was a feather of a kiss, but before he lifted his head he whispered of his love to her, swearing to return, on the day he saw the rainbows end. Then he left for his home at the southernmost end of Ireland.
Year after year, Shannon waited for the rainy season, always watching for the rainbows end, but it was not to be.
Many years passed as Shannon refused all would be suitors. Her heart was given and lost that day, so long ago in the glen; Patrick would hold her heart until the day she died.
“Shannon, dere be a big storm brewing from de south. Best be bringing ter clothes in from de line, afore de rain comes.”
“Aye Da,” Shannon answered and went to do as he asked. By the time she brought the clothes in, the rain started pouring down; it was the heaviest rainfall Shannon had ever seen in her life.
“De rain is too ‘eavy ter last fer long daughter, best be hurrying with de supper. Oi would be wanting ter eat before you be running ter see if dare be a rainbow.
“No Da, oi ‘ill’ not be searching for rainbows dis evenin’, or any evenin’ again, ’tis over.”
Fintan shook his old gray head, “By de Saints, daughter, yer shud not be giving up yet. yer be still young and beautiful. If you ‘av given up on Patrick, den yer best be marrying Ronan, he be asking ta ‘andfast for two years now.”
“No,” Shannon yelled and ran out into de yard. She skidded to a stop, there before her eyes’ was a large pot of gold, with de northernmost end of a beautiful rainbow holding the pot in place.
As her eyes rose upward, following the rainbows path into the clouds, she heard Patrick’s voice first. Then she saw him, he slid down the rainbow, jumping off just in time to avoid landing in the pot of gold.
“Shannon, me’ould flower, ’tis time we wed. yer said, ‘From Glen Ter Glen, At Rainbows End.”
With a big smile, Patrick O’Shey pulled his green cap from his head, made a sweeping bow and said, “Oi’ rode de rainbow from glen ter glen, at rainbows end. Now, Shannon, ‘ill you be ‘andfastin’ with me?”
Wiping the tears off her cheeks, Shannon said, “aye Patrick O’Shea, oi ‘ill be honored ter be your wife.”
Everyone in the glen rejoiced, for it would be the first handfasting the glen had seen, since Deirdre was married, four-hundred years ago.
As handfastins go, it was the largest anyone had ever seen.
Leprechaun’s came from all across the land to celebrate and give thanks to the Saints and the “Sacred Three.” This was the first rainbow, since the beginning of time, which stretched from glen to glen.
They lived happily ever after…Humph; I bet they are still living today.