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Garrett's Fort, Ardee: The enchanted fort with warriors in magic sleep
Taken from "Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx" by John Rhys (1901) - Chapter VIII - Welsh Cave Legends

Some of these cave stories, it will have been seen, reveal to us a hero who is expected to return to interfere again in the affairs of this world, and it is needless to say that Wales is by no means alone in the enjoyment of imaginary prospects of this kind. The same sort of poetic expectation has not been unknown, for instance, in Ireland.

The Millmount in DroghedaIn the summer of 1894, I spent some sunny days in the neighbourhood of the Boyne, and one morning I resolved to see the chief burial mounds dotting the banks of that interesting river; but before leaving the hotel at Drogheda, my attention was attracted by a book of railway advertisement of the kind which forcibly impels one to ask two questions: why will not the railway companies leave those people alone who do not want to travel, and why will they make it so tedious for those who do? But on turning the leaves of that booklet over I was inclined to a suaver mood, as I came on a paragraph devoted to an ancient stronghold called the Grianan of Aileach, or Greenan-Ely, in the highlands of Donegal. Here I read that a thousand armed men sit resting there on their swords, and bound by magic sleep till they are to be called forth to take their part in the struggle for the restoration of Erin's freedom. At intervals they awake, it is said, and looking up from their trance they ask in tones which solemnly resound through the many chambers of the Grianan: 'Is the time come?' A loud voice, that of the spiritual caretaker, is heard to reply: 'The time is not yet.' They resume their former posture and sink into their sleep again.

That is the substance of the words I read, and they called to my mind the legend of such heroes of the past as Barbarossa, with his sleep interrupted only by his change of posture once in seven years; of Dom Sebastian, for centuries expected from Moslem lands to restore the glories of Portugal; of the Cid Rodrigo, expected back to do likewise with the kingdom of Castle; and last, but not least, of the O'Donoghue who sleeps beneath the Lakes of Killarney, ready to emerge to right the wrongs of Erin. With my head full of these and the like dreams of folklore, I was taken over the scene of the Battle of the Boyne; and the car-driver, having vainly tried to interest me in it, gave me up in despair as an uncultured savage who felt no interest in the history of Ireland. However he somewhat changed his mind when, on reaching the first ancient burial mound, he saw me disappear underground, fearless of the Fomhoraigh; and he began to wonder whether I should ever return to pay him his fare. This in fact was the sheet anchor of all my hopes; for I thought that in case I remained fast in a narrow passage, or lost my way in the chambers of the prehistoric dead, the jarvey must fetch me out again. So by the time I had visited three of these ancient places, Dowth, Knowth, and New Grange, I had risen considerably in his opinion; and he bethought him of stories older than the Battle of the Boyne.

Castle Guard Mound overlooking the Dee in Ardee, not far from Garrett's FortSo he told me on the way back several bits of something less drearily historical. Among other things, he pointed in the direction of a place called Ardee in the county of Louth, where, he said, there is Garry Geerlaug's enchanted fort full of warriors in magic sleep, with Garry Geerlaug himself in their midst. Once on a time a herdsman is said to have strayed into their hall, he said, and to have found the sleepers each with his sword and his spear ready to hand. But as the intruder could not keep his hands off the metal wealth of the place, the owners of the spears began to rouse themselves, and the intruder had to flee for his life. But there that armed host is awaiting the eventful call to arms, when they are to sally forth to restore prosperity and glory to Ireland. That was his story, and I became all attention as soon as I heard of Ardee, which is in Irish Ath Fhir-dheadh, or the Ford of Ferdeadh, so called from Fer-deadh, who fought a protracted duel with Cúchulainn in that ford, where at the end, according to a well-known Irish story, he fell by Cúchulainn's hand.

I was still more exercised by the name of Garry Geerlaug, as I recognised in Garry an Anglo-Irish pronunciation of the Norse name Godhfreydhr, later Godhroedh, sometimes rendered Godfrey and sometimes Godred, while in Man and in Scotland it has become Gorry, which may be heard also in Ireland. I thought, further, that I recognized the latter part of Garry Geerlaug's designation as the Norse female name Geirlaug. There was no complete lack of Garries in that part of Ireland in the tenth and eleventh centuries; but I have not yet found any historian to identify for me the warrior named or nicknamed Garry Geerlaug, who is to return blinking to this world of ours when his nap is over. Leaving Ireland, I was told the other day of a place called Tom na Hurich, near Inverness, where Finn and his following are resting, each on his left elbow, enjoying a broken sleep while waiting for the note to be sounded, which is to call them forth. What they are then to do I have not been told: it may be that they will proceed at once to solve the Crofter Question, for there will doubtless be one.

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