Long ago there lived a child with storm-grey eyes and iridescent hair like a starling’s wing. This was no ordinary child . . . Bríd was a much-loved child of the Beara Giants, a proud and ancient race from the time before the People.
She laughed and sang and played all day long and brought joy to all who knew her . . . At night, her village would draw lots over whose lap in which she might sit around the storyfire . . . and hope it might be their story that would make her laugh the loudest and longest.
She was their most precious treasure and as she grew, her songs and laughter could be heard on the wind all across the land like the whisper of Spring and the promise of Summer and the People would smile and say ‘better days are coming’.
Her playmate was Fuinne – her kin, friend and co-conspirator. T’was rare to see one without the other; one always seemed to know what the other was thinking and feeling and their huge joy and delight in each other helped them grow even taller and stronger than the other Beara Giants.
No-one knows how it started. One day Bríd’s laugh wasn’t quite as loud or as long as the day before and her singing was flat and Bríd was never flat . . . and . . . did she seem smaller??
The next day even more of Bríds laugh seemed dimmed; her voice hoarsened and quietened, her once tall body, shrank. With each passing day more and more of Bríd fell away until shockingly, she was silent and the size of the People.
Fuinne was besides himself with worry and wouldn’t leave Bríds side . . . ‘What is it? What’s wrong? “ he asked.
Finally, Bríd whispered “I have these thoughts and the weight of them makes me feel small and sad and . . . .alone”.
Fuinne was saddened too that his friend could feel this way and searched his heart and head as to how he might help. How might he lift her sadness and remind her of how precious she is to her kin and the People?
Fuinne leapt up – why not ask the People to help?
And the People said: “Our Bríd? Our Bríd whose laughter lessens every burden and brings light to the darkest times; her voice on the wind is the touch of a friend, the one that has your back and always wishes you joy . . . how can she not know this? We must show her so that there is no mistaking how precious she is to us.”
So each day for 100 days, Fuinne gathered gifts from the People; from their artists and artisans, their makers, growers, composers and writers; from the villages and boreens and bogs and grand houses – there wasn’t a field in the land he didn’t cross a thousand times.
In Kerry, the scribes and poets collaborated on a glittering illuminated poem that told of how much the People missed the reassuring sound of Bríd’s laughter and singing . . .
In Dublin, the flower growers created a scented garland of Spring and Summer blooms to remind Bríd that ‘better days are coming’; a garland so big she wrapped herself in it that night and dreamt of lightning swallows and hay meadows warmed by the summer sun . . .
In Waterford, the leather workers made the most glorious copper-coloured leather boots for him and blue boots for brid; blue like the ocean and the sky; blue like the possibility of forever; blue like the shadows at dusk.
As Fuinne returned each evening, his copper boots dusty and scuffed, his arms full of the People’s gifts and his giant heart even fuller; a magnificent gallery of gifts, tokens of love and appreciation began to take shape at Bríd’s door.
Each day, little by little Bríd grew stronger and taller. Some days a smile would touch her lips, a chuckle would escape her throat or a gentle hum was heard on the mountain. One day, far out to sea, one of the People swore he heard a verse of a once-favoured song . . .
The day finally came when Bríd once again stood giant-tall and proud, yet humbled by the loving gifts laid before her.
And her voice, now strong and sweet, echoed around the land and shook the People . . .
“I see I am not small. I see I am not alone. I see I am loved. And I thank you.”
And Brid’s blue shoes?
For the rest of her days, she wore them as a charm on her wrist to remind herself that even when she was feeling small and alone, she truly was a Giant amongst the People.
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