The Guardian in Corrofin

The Guardian in Corrofin
by Ussay Nakajima

Corrofin, no doubt she is one of the most beautiful lands in the world. One of the most mysterious land at the same time.
Corrofin, Co. Clare, 10 miles from Capital Ennis up the R. Fergus. A lovely little settlement with loving people.

They've got a magical lake here. R. Fergus rests a while to fill the lake and then flows out to run down toward Ennis.
The lake...Lough Inchquin, woody hills lie behind her and an old castle ruin left beside. And two little isles you could find on the surface of the water.

Swans, lotus, rush in the violet water...
Everything you see there would remind you of jewels. The lakes of sapphire, meadows of emerald, sky of turquoise and lapis lazuli, the starry nights adorned with diamonds...
It would take your breath away, its unworldly beauty. You could never forget once you see it with your own eyes.

...Once upon a time, a beautiful maiden was, a loving city was sunk deep in the lake. Eversince they got promised the everlasting peace and affluence, at the sacrifice they paid.

Thousands of thousands of years ago...
It was not we see now, no, never. It was just a barren, dismal valley where goes over the dusty winds. No woods, no meadow, not a living thing around.
R. Fergus had not run there yet. No lights, no colours... even the sky, here it got all covered with dark clouds.

Who ever wished to live and settle, at the bottom of this valley? ...but they did!...
Indeed, they the clan had lived there longsince for generations and generations.
Actually the valley produced every kind of jewels, so fine, so beautiful, far beyond all imagination. There they dug cut out the jewels, polish and made them into finest accessories mounted with gold and silver. They were brought out to all over Ireland, even to oversea, carried by the traders.

Humans couldn't live healthy in this valley. Water wasn't good, all too bold and barren, damp and humid in summer. Plagues spread and many skilled craftsmen died young.
Still they loved the city and made her beautiful, at the bottom of the valley, built her up so splendid generation after generation. Cream of cream was the castle, graceful as swan.
You'll see the two little lakes on the lake Inchquin now, which used to be two hills once upon a time and the castle was located between them. "Corrofin" must have meant "between the two hills".

Once upon a time the old king who reigned the city had a beautiful only daughter named Meads. All the princes and the suns of noble men used to come from all over Ireland to ask her marriage. But she had chosen Londenant the chief of chevaliers serving the castle.

It was the summer to remember that a huge plague was out in town, and quite a number of people died. The old king was deep in sorrow and worrying.
There arrived a wayfarer, ragged old man in a long cape. Folks in Corrofin used to treat the travelers with respect, so they took the old man to the court and invited to the royal dinner.

He was all dusty and tired yet had kind of dignity. He came into the magnificent castle hall with his head up. He straightened his back and looked over the people when seated.

When his eyes met those of Princess Meads, she suddenly got upset and then looked down. But nobody noticed that queer moment.

The old king introduced the wayfarer to the people and said,
"It's my pleasure to have him at our dinner. We all love to listen to him talk about things you have seen and what it's like in distant lands."

So the wayfarer talked over dinner and people listened. After hours of all his unusual and exotic tales about the lands he traveled, he then referred to here, Corrofin.

"I know that you have suffered from the plagues every summer, and that have lost many of you. I'll tell you why. That's because you're keeping digging those beautiful jewels out of heart of this land, humiliating the earth, and then committing sins toward her."

The old king got so shocked and said,
"We've never thought like that. We're working honestly, with our pride, and yet tolerating all these desperate situation without complaining."

"I know that you're feeling like that. You're committing sins with ignorance. I came to tell you that. I came also to tell you how to soothe the earth you've hurt so long, and to save yourself."

Then people got all silent at his words.
"I'll tell you now. But Meads the beautiful maid, you better leave for a moment."
Then the king protested, "I've never excluded her with any important matters."
Before the wayfarer answers, Meads stood up quickly and said, "Father, I'll do as he said."

When Meads went out, the wayfarer talked again.
"R. Fergus, her flow has a enough power to enrich this land. When she flows, Corrofin would become the richest and the most beautiful, no compare with any other lands I have ever traveled. Waters of Sapphire will glitter among the green hills, the earth will produce plenty of fruits, you'll never be short of nothing any more. Could you ever imagine it.

R. Fergus has got the wrong course now. You have to cut a canal to take her to the right course. It would come right through this very city. And a lake must be built in this valley.
You have to soothe the earth that you have mistreated, giving your beautiful city away, together with your beautiful maiden."

Then Londenant turned pale and dropped his cup.
The old king kept silent, staring at the wayfarer.

"When you cut the course up and guided the water here, then you have to leave everything under the lake, the jewels, rows of streets, the castle and all. And leave the most beautiful and innocent maiden in the city. Meads the noble, if she wished it herself, then she will offer herself.

Then you leave for a thousand years, wandering the wilderness in a misery. And you have to tell the story to your children and grand children all the while.
This is what it takes, yet I'll never force you to. You consider well and decide what to do."

No one said nothing after he finished talking.
Late at night Meads the noble secretly came to the king at his chambre and said,
"Forgive me to meet you such late. Yet I came to convince you if I could.
Actually I have heard the wayfarer telling from behind the wall. So I know the whole story.
I can tell that he is a fairy sent by gods. When we first met, I saw in his eyes the things I never even imagined.

It was a land beautiful more than ever known. Sapphire-blue water surrounded by fresh green forests and meadows, flower blossom, and sheep. And I knew that it was that, here, Coroffin thousand years from now.

Summer after summer I have seen people die from plague and I could not stand no more. Now I know I could be the only one to end this all up, then why not I shall take it? He tells the truth. I saw it by myself.
Please, father, accept his words and cut a canal for River Fergus."
So convinced was the way she spoke that the king had nothing to say anymore.

He withdrew in his chambre but did not sleep till dawn.
The next morning people found the wayfarer already gone. They never saw him again.

Since then Princess Meads kept trying to persuade the king to do as the wayfarer told. While Londenant was so shocked and appalled that now he could hardly get out of his chambre.

"You are so convinced about what to do, my little daughter," The king said sadly.
"I feel rather sorry for Londenant. He would take your cross on his own shoulder with great pleasure, only if he could. Nay, I would. And all the citizen in Corrofin, those noble and gentle people, I bet. Mighty heavens!... Never thou, the apple in my eye, the flower of the city!..."

As the days go by, the plague still went spread and people kept dying.
They whispered at the street in shock. They had their pride and affection in their works and labours. Now their consciences were confused and embarrassed that their hands got no strength any more. They shook their heads sighing, in their pits and ateliers. Glitter of the jewels, they now looked all coursed. Deep sorrow covered the city.

Then the canal was begun to cut at last. But the construction didn't go easy, as they sighed all the time as they dug out.
Seasons turned around and summer came again, when the canal was completed one evening and there was only a sluice separating the city from the water.

That night the old king invited all his people to the royal dinner. Tables were prepared even in the courtyard.
There the king praised the gods and prayed them for the strength they needed.
Everyone shed tears for Meads the noble and for their doom ahead of them.

They left the city in the dawn still crying, leaving all the valuables and the desirables behind, together with Princess Meads the dearest locked in the castle.

We cried by the River Fergus, singing to the harp out the tree,
Songs of sorrow for what we lost, songs to look to what we will have,
Songs to tell our children of children, children of grandchildren.
There they wandered in the wilderness for a thousand years.

Then the old king was gone, so was Londenant, with all the people in the generation, while River Fergus little by little enriched and fertilized the land once all rocks and crags.
Finally they came back at the end of millennium. They didn't know what was once like in Corrofin, the story about the noble princess and the valley of jewels they just heard it as a vague legend in mist of time.

But when they got back and saw it with their own eyes, they must be shocked by its unearthly beauty and convinced that this must be no doubt what was promised once upon a time by gods.

Then they built a humble village by Lough Inchquin, now lying on where the ancient city used to be.
No more cutting out the jewels, no more fine works and crafts, they now instead cut the hey for cows and cultivate the lands with ploughs.

But they never have plague again, never die young anymore. They now have jewels all around them, The lakes of sapphire, meadows of emerald, sky of turquoise and lapis lazuli, the starry nights adorned with diamonds... all around on earth and at the sky.
Noble and gentle people they are, as they have been so ever.


She didn't remember nothing after that.
All she saw was deep, dim green all around her when she came back to herself.
It felt like just a blink of moment, but at the same time, it also felt like a long, long time had passed since.

She didn't remember who she was, nor what she meant to do. Just remembered that she had to stay there for a thousand years for some important reason.
She sat up and looked around to find that algae had grown deep where it used be the marble hall of the castle.
She found that now she was in the deep green water and then breathing easy.
She had become a mermaid with scales and fins glittering silver.


"A thousand years... has it passed yet?"
She murmured to herself. She swam to the castle gate and reached out for the lock.
It just fell to pieces as her fingers touched.

Then all the creatures in River Fergus, fish, watersnakes, they came gathered around her and praised her, the princess of Corrofin. We'll be your people from now on, we'll be your loyal friends who will never desert you, just as your people in the city once used to be...

Legend tells us that Meads the noble, once sunk deep in the lake, she's still watching for the people in Corrofin.
Whenever the local fishermen slip and fall, or children get drowned, without fail she'll come right away to rescue them, send them in her arms back at the bank.

But careful, should you be such a daredevil to raise a plot to dive deep for the forsaken jewels to redemption... See, you'll never be back ever again, no forgiving to such a blasphemy...

...Once upon a time, a beautiful maiden was, a loving city was sunk deep in the lake. Eversince they got promised the everlasting peace and affluence, at the sacrifice they paid...

Text, Pictures by Ussay Nakajima
See more pictures of Corrofin: http://ballylee.tsukuba.ch/e103728.html
Guardian in Corrofin: Japanese; http://ballylee.tsukuba.ch/c3531.html

Photos from Guardian in Corrofin staged by Ballylee Theatre Society, December 2011, Tsukuba



Posted by 中島迂生 at 00:07Comments(0)The Guardian in Corrofin