(My contribution to the book New Myths And Tales published in November 2010
At long last here was something in the distance.
Robin raised his hand, placed it on his craggy brow and gazed through the morning mist.
He cried out.
The other members of the crew simultaneously threw their hands towards the sky and roared out with sheer joy– their voices so thunderous that they could be heard by Great God himself.
After two weeks traversing the dangerous waters of the Irish Sea; Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John had by some miracle brought their boat to within sight of land. As they approached the shore the sun was lighting up in earnest so the woods of Dun Laoghaire became visible in the distance. At that moment Robin hoped his host McDara Caol would find them and bring them across the Dublin Mountains and through Tymon Forest and straight on to the Castle at Kingswood. McDara had invited Robin Hood to Ath Cliath to aid the destitute inhabitants. The authorities both civil and clerical had imposed severe taxes and were harsh on any peasant who could not pay. With a price of many gold coins on his head in England it was a good time for Robin to steal away from the Sherwood Forest and turn his hand to aid the poor this side on the water.
As the boat neared the shore Friar Tuck blessed the voyage, blessed the sea, and he blessed The Land that they were about to make home. Suddenly terra firma.
Hibernia – at last!
And now for the wait until McDara Caol would find them. Robin accompanied by his trusty bow and arrow headed for the cover as Friar Tuck and Little John waited impatiently for food. Robin did not disappoint them – and returned with a wild pig slung over his shoulder. The fire was lit and soon the smell of roasting pig was rising up and tantalising the nostrils of the weary travellers. Soon they were tucking in and devouring the beast much to the bewilderment of the onlookers who had gathered on the seashore. Word spread like wildfire about the strange visitors and it came to the ears of McDara Caol and by late evening he and his supporters arrived with the spare horses. It was nightime when they started for Kingswood Castle. The moon poured a yellowy light on the landscape as they slowly made their way over rugged terrain and towards morning they arrived at Belgard Forest and moved south to Kingswood Castle itself.
Sleep was the only thing on their minds.
The following morning Robin wasted no time in setting up training camp. He soon had McDara’s men in training instructing them in archery and hand to hand fighting. Over the next few days McDara and Robin travelled through the fields and woodlands to Clondalkin, Rathcoole and Saggart to familiarise himself with the terrain. The dirt route into Ath Cliath from Nas Na Ri was the prime target – this route was used daily by the wealthy landowners who traded in the Dublin markets. The position of Kingswood Castle was ideal for the business Robin and McDara had in mind – close enough to the route to Dublin and well covered and protected by woodland, shrub and stream. Kingswood Castle itself had a beautiful maze of underground tunnels and escape routes that made it the perfect hiding place.
The day had come when the men were ready for action.
Robin placed himself on the hill overlooking the Castle and surveyed his men below.
“I ask you” he addressed the men
“To take this pledge before God and man ”
Will you always help the poor and needy?
Will you honour women?
Will you take from the rich?
“We will … we will”
The men roared back.
“So let the work begin from now”
The sun was asleep when Robin and his men took up their positions just outside Rathcoole. Not a sound, not even the crack of a branch was audible as the prey came trundling along - a carriage with four splendid horses accompanied by four outriders on horseback.
They were now just a whisper away.
Suddenly all hell broke lose. Four deadly arrows pierced the horsemen and they fell instantly to the ground as Robin’s men rushed forward in an all-out assault on the carriage with the blades flashing in the moonlight. The blades soon turned to deep red as they plunged their swords into the occupants of the carriage, killing all instantly. With rapid speed the booty was collected and Robin and his men headed back to the security of Kingswood Castle well satisfied with their night’s rewards. When word reached Dublin the next day the city authorities had their guards out but Robin and his men were well out of view. The stolen items were hidden in a dungeon in Kilnamanagh well away from the Kingswood Castle. As the men became better trained and more proficient at their work the robberies became more audacious. Soon the hoard was building up and McDara arranged to have the stolen goods sold off and Robin and his men dressed as vagabonds distributed the money to the impoverished people of Dublin.
And so the robberies went on and even though the authorities got close on some occasions they were beaten off by the superior trained men of Robin. By now a fine cohort of trained men was available to McDara and so it was time for Robin, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John to say farewell to their adopted land.
But they took a little bit of Hibernia back to Sherwood Forest with them.