Fior Uisce

Beyond Gallows Green in Cork city is a great lough, where people once skated in
winter-time. At the bottom are buildings and gardens, more beautiful than anything
seen today. The tops and towers are visible to those who look into the lough with
perfect eyesight. These buildings come from the time of King Core, whose palace
stood in a green valley, a mile in diameter. In the palace courtyard was a clear, pure
water well, a wonder of the world. The king rejoiced at having so valuable a treasure
near at hand but because crowds came to draw the water, he feared that the well might
dry up. He therefore built a wall and allowed no-one near but his own, at great loss to
the poor people. When he wanted water for himself, the King would send his
daughter, whose name happened to be Fior-Uisce [Clear Water] for he didn’t trust his
own servants with the key.
Time passed and the King prepared a great banquet, a kind of coming out party for his
Fior-Uisce, daughter. Princes, lords and nobles attended. Bonfires were lit which
reached the sky. There was dancing and sweet music, food and drink for everybody
and no one was turned away.
A tall, young prince, straight and handsome, danced beautifully with Princess Fior-
Uisce. They wheeled about the floor like feathers, toe-tapping in front of those
assembled. The musicians played better for seeing them dance so well. At supper-
time; the prince sat down with his lovely dancing partner, who smiled at him as he
addressed the gathering and expressed thanks for their many compliments to them
Then one of the great lords addressed King Core, “Majesty,” he said “we have
everything we want except for a drop of water.” “Water?” declared the king, “Water
you shall have and water of such quality that I challenge any in the world to equal it.”
“Daughter,” he called, “fetch some water in the golden vessel I had specially made for
the purpose!” The princess, embarrassed at the demand to perform a menial task in
noble company was unwilling to refuse her father and simply stared at the floor. The
king, seeing this was ashamed, but in order not to lose face he continued loudly:
“Daughter, I am not surprised you are afraid to venture out alone after dark but
perhaps this young gentleman will accompany you.” He glanced at the young prince
who, taking the golden vessel in hand, led Fior-Uisce so gracefully from the hall on
his other arm that everyone glanced after them admiringly.
They reached the well in the court-yard and Fior-Uisce unlocked the door with care.
But stooping to get the water, she found the golden vessel grown so heavy that she
lost her balance and tumbled in. The prince tried in vain to rescue the king’s daughter
but the spring, after so long a suppression, rose up instantly, covered the courtyard in
water. The panicked prince, rushed back to the palace leaving the well door open. The
water gushed out so rapidly that on reaching the king, the prince found him and the
noble company, up to his necks in spring water. Soon water filled the entire valley in
which the palace stood and so the lough of Cork was born.
Strangely, the King and his guests were not drowned that night and neither was the
lovely Fior-Uisce. All were back at the banquet-hall the following night and every
night since and will be back forevermore unless somebody is lucky enough to rescue
from the palace under-water the golden vessel that caused such mischief.