A piece I did for my upcoming exhibition in UCC about place and the Irish language. The illustration is of Leaba na Lúin, which means the bed of Lún, it is one of several names given to the Cairn ontop of Corrin hill in North Cork, just outside Fermoy. The story goes it got its name from a creature named Lún, that was said to be a 4 legged amphibious monster with prominent eyes and a tail that with a single lash could uproot an oak. This creature would leave his otherworld dwelling in the cairn every night to drink from a famous cow in the area named Druimfhionn, which means fair/white backed, starving the locals. So the locals sent for Fionn, the leader of the Fianna, an ancient band of warriors and he came with his giant hound Bran to get rid of the monster. They crept up to Lún's lair on top of the hill and in the ensuing struggle Bran killed Lún, stopping the thieving monster.
But the cairn retained the name Leaba na Lúin, according to some stories anyway, others its called Cairn Tighernaigh,and others still Cairn Thierna, during my researching there was something in the region of 5-7 other fairytales from different times about that hill and its cairn, including one about the famous Munster druid Mogh Roith but as they say in Irish sin scéal eile (thats another story). The white backed cow gives its name to several placenames in the area, for instance Glenabo, from 'Gleann na mBó', meaning glen of the cow, another Ballyorgan Bog or originally known as Corrach na Druiminne (Marsh of the white backed cow) was a marsh at the bottom of the hill that has since been drained. So this was no ordinary cow, most likely, like the story of the bulls in Táin Bó Cúailnge, this cow was semi mythical, maybe even a local diety, as what better symbol of a feeding nuturing nature, than a milk giving cow? Perhaps the story is representative of some otherworldly being sapping the land of its milk, and only Fionn and Bran could rid the land of this curse.