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Story about giant killer, 21 February 1861

Identifier: Coll-97/CW109/5

Scope and Contents

Story about a giant killer collected from Donull Mac Cuieag [Donald MacCaig], Fearan an lea, who learnt it more that twenty years before from Donull Mac a Phee [Donald MacPhee], Talamsgeir [Fearann an Leagha/Fernilea and Talaisgeir/Talisker, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach/Isle of Skye]. The story tells how the brother and sister did not get on with each other and an old woman warned the brother that the sister would try to kill him that night by hiding a giant under some rushes and encouraging him to lie down on the rushes so that the giant could attack him. The brother thwarts the plan by scalding the giant with boiling water while making it look like an accident. The giant returns home with the sister to his cave and his family plot revenge. The man is soon attacked by a giant and the following night by the giant's brother but he kills both with his dogs. He takes the giant's heads to the old woman who warns him that the 'cailleach garbh glas', who is more frightening than the giants with her sharp teeth, will attack him next. She tells him how the conversation will go, not to tie up his dogs and to keep the rope she gives him to tie them up in his pocket. Everything happens as the old woman predicts and when asked by the "cailleach garbh glas" to tie up his dogs he pretends to do so. She starts growing bigger and reveals herself as the giants' mother and she and the man start fighting. He calls the dogs who attack the woman and allow the man to question her on the wherabouts of the giants' treasure before killing her and removing her sharp teeth. He tells the old woman what happened and she offers to help him get the treasure from the giants' cave, burning heather in the mouth of the cave and by using the 'Slachdan Driochd' ['magic wand']. The smoke from the fire fills the cave and the man decides to set fire to the giant but the old woman tells him not to as the dogs will not be any use in the fire. The giant comes out of the cave and the old woman hits the top of his head with her magic wand and kills him. The smoke clears and the man sees his sister at the back of the cave, takes out his gun and shoots her dead. They take everything out of the cave including the five giant heads to the old woman's house. On the road, he discovers that he has magic sticks which can turn a rock into a person. Next, he and the old woman go to see the king, with all the things they collected from the cave. The old woman makes the man put on a coat which, unbeknown to him, has a sign on the back saying that he killed the giants. She tells him what to say to the king when he reaches the palace. On arriving, he has gathered a crowd, and he speaks to the king's only son. He gives the prince precious possessions which the giants had stolen and so the prince takes them to the king and queen. They in turn invite the man in, but the man refuses. The king offers the man his only daughter in marriage but the man says that he is in a hurry and in desperation strikes a rock with his sticks, turning it into a man. He returns to the old woman's home. The king sends out men to find out who the giant killer was but after a year, the man marries the old woman's foster daughter, they have three boys and three girls before the old woman dies. An addition to the story is found in CW109/7 folio 14v.


  • Creation: 21 February 1861

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 3 notebooks of 80 folios ; 21 x 25 cm

Physical Location


Physical Location

folio 9v, line 1 to folio 14r, line 35

Related Materials

GB237 Coll-97/CW109/4, GB237 Coll-97/CW109/7, GB237 Coll-97/CW422, GB237 Coll-97/CW460

Coll-97/CW112/6 - a copy of this item.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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