‘Có às don Chorra-Ghiullan Ghlas?’
In oral tradition, as well as in literature, the theme is well known of the young man who takes leave of his betrothed or spouse, with the agreement that she is free to (re)marry if he does not return within a specified period of time. Upon his return after many years, unrecognized, he is told that her wedding will take place that night. He sends the bride a concealed message, they are reunited and he takes possession of his former holdings. The story is central to the Odyssey of Homer, and is likely even older. In its oral versions it is widespread, particularly in Europe from medieval times, and has been given the international tale classification ATU 974 ‘The Homecoming Husband’. Interesting variants of the story have been recorded from Scottish Gaelic storytellers by Lady Evelyn Stewart Murray in Perthshire in 1900, and by the present writer in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1978. The Gaelic variants are described, and situated within their international tale context.
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