Beanrioghan, Oir, Loisgeach, a Tale from Co. Mayo

In this tale the words queen, golden and flaming can be referred to a remote world of gods, while the mysterious queen of the shining hair may be a radiant goddess of the Irish mythology.

The Tale

A nobleman's wife died giving birth to one son, after some years the man married another woman who put the son out. On his road the nobleman's son met an old man who was searching for a boy for one year and he decided to help the old man. When the year was over, he got in return a little brown horse and went off. The nobleman's son met another man, a king's son, and he became his servant, but this time he only got in return a piece of candle for the night by which to eat his supper.

One evening coming back home, the nobleman's son saw a fine light and he thought to himself that fine light could be useful. The little horse had never spoken to him before and it said: "Leave a rib of hair behind or you will suffer"; "No, I won't" he said "I need that fine light".

The light was beautiful in his house so that the king's son came asking where he got that light. The son of the nobleman answered: "I got the rib of hair coming back home".

The king's son went to his old blind wise man asking what that light was. The wise man said: "The rib of hair belongs to the queen golden, flaming (beanrioghan, oir, loisgeach ) and when she went out the wind blew the rib off her hair and all her hair shines light". And the king's son said: "How can I get that one?"; the wise man replied that the boy who got the rib of hair could do that. So he ordered the nobleman's son to go and get the queen for him.

He journeyed toward the queen's house with his little horse. The little horse said: "When we get near the big door of the golden, flaming queen's house I'll go up and down the lawn changing my colour and so she will ask you to ride me. You must tell her she can ride me only if she is seated behind you".

The queen was seated behind him and the little horse ran as fast as the wind until they came to the door of the king's son. The queen was so beautiful that the king's son asked her to marry him and she said she would never marry him until he got her three bottles of water from the cow's well.

Again the king's son ordered the nobleman's son to do that for him. Again he left with his horse toward the cow's well, this time there was a great sea between them and the cow's well. The horse said: "Kill me with your sword and the crows will come, tie these three bottles to their necks and they'll bring you three bottles of water from the cow's well". The nobleman's son said he would never kill her so the little horse killed herself laying down the sword.

The crows came and the boy put the three bottles on the crows' necks. After a week they came back without a feather on them but with the three bottles of water from the cow's well. The water had magical powers so he rubbed the crows so they had beautiful coats of feathers back again. He rubbed the little horse with the water too and she had her life back again.

They went home to the golden, flaming queen with the three bottles of water. The golden, flaming queen ordered her servant to bring her a cauldron of boiling water, she shook some of the magical water on herself and jumped into the cauldron saying she would marry the man who could come into the cauldron.

The king's son tried it but he soon died, while the nobleman's son went into the cauldron and came out safe. And so the golden, flaming queen married the son of the nobleman and the little horse said to him: "It's her you would marry and not me".

And saying these words she turned into a beautiful lady and disappeared. She had been under an enchanted spell.