Hello again, reader. I know why you’ve come. If you weren’t looking for comics about 5,000 year old mythological ding dongs, then you’ve come looking for the other topic only Happle Tea can provide.

Yes, I’m talking about childish (and just generally poorly written) limericks concerning long dead Celtic kings of folklore.

I aim to please.

Either the power of poetry in Ireland was once greater than it is today or King Bres was kind of a puss, eh?

Today’s comic comes from Ireland’s rich Celtic heritage and it concerns itself with a couple of topics that were considered immensely important in Celtic culture. The story goes like this:

Ireland was, in the distant past, subjected to settling by various people. After one culture would settle down for some time, they would eventually suffer some misfortune and either die off or leave the country with most of their numbers depleted. One race alone managed to carry on for any length of time in those early years: the Fomorians. Huge, mishapen and nasty beings filled with evil, they landed in Ireland and conquered and taxed the people living there only to return to their home over the sea. The races they had conquered, like the rest, died off until, one group, the Danaans, managed to settle comfortably for a great length of time. These people were the magical folk of Celtic mythology. They were something of a mix between gods and humans and they possessed many amazing abilities and powerful artifacts.

The Tuatha de Danaan (as they are properly known) settled in Ireland and did battle with the people already living there, the Firbolgs. Led by a striking fellow named Nuada, the magical Danaans managed to win the fight, taking most of Ireland in the exchange. The brave Nuada was to be made king, but in the fight he lost his hand and the law of Ireland declared that no blemished man could be made king. Though he was crafted a magical silver hand, he was still unable to be crowned. The people chose, instead, a handsome young man named Bres. With high hopes and charisma, he took the throne.

Alas, Bres did not possess the qualities of Kingship that Nuada of the Silver Hand had. He taxed the Danaans heavily, he displayed an arrogance that disgusted his people, and worst of all he allowed the Fomorians back into Ireland to tax the Danaans. They demanded tribute from over the sea and it is said that they carried off two thirds of Ireland’s children for purposes unknown.

Now, Bres was such a miser that he gave no hospitality to anyone, be they wise man, beggar, bard, or chief, and this was considered a most terrible trait. Lack of generosity was the worst vice in an Irish king, and it was about to catch up with him. One day, Bres allowed a bard by the name of Corpry to stay at his court. Corpry, expecting a proper Irish welcome, was happy to visit and spend time with the King. He was more than a little surprised when he was shown to a small dark chamber without fire or furniture where he was served three dry cakes with no ale. Bres had made a terrible mistake. Corpry composed a poem as his revenge:

“Without food quickly served,
Without a cow’s milk, whereon a calf can grow,
Without a dwelling fit for a man under the gloomy night,
Without means to entertain a bardic company,-
Let such be the condition of Bres.”

The poem caught fire in Ireland. The people all recited it and Bres heard it echoed throughout the land. The power of poetry was, to the Danaans, something you simply didn’t mess with. Satirical poetry, in particular, was thought to have an incredible power all its own. Bres, though not wise enough to rule justly, was wise enough to lay down the crown and leave the country.

Ireland, now with no king, looked to Nuada of the Silver Hand, their hero in the battle against the Firbolgs. By the healing powers of the physician Diancecht and his son, the magic silver hand had been grown fully to the stump of his arm. He was, once again, a whole man, and he ruled Ireland wisely and humbly, as a good king should. The Fomorian taxes and tribute ceased to be paid and the Danaans prepared themselves for a war that they knew was coming…

And that is where we shall have to leave it for today!