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The story of Caibell and his friend Etar and the contest for their daughters depicts an enigmatic war between pre-Christian divinities little understood by later scribes. Caibell and Etar are rulers of the sídh whose daughters are sought in marriage by two kings, who are offered a contest to settle the match. The idea of battle would pollute the sídh, however, and the sídh-folk have no wish to be visible to mortals lest that power be lost. The fight takes place at night, therefore, and the sídh-folk take the form of deer. The struggle is so fierce that four hillocks are made of the hooves and antlers of the slain. Near the end, water bursts forth from a well and forms Lough Riach, which the storyteller says has the property of turning white sheep crimson, if they are cast in every seventh year at the proper hour. Of the combatants only Etar survives. This Irish story survives in the Rennes [Brittany] Dind-shenchas; See the edition by W. Stokes, Revue Celtique, 16 (1895), 273 ff.

Subjects: Religion.

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