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16

(1922) [MARC] Author: A. Walsh
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16 THE VIKING PEEIOD
numbered among the slain. We also hear of other Irish
Kings who were closely related to their Viking opponents.
Laxdaela Saga contains an interesting account of a slave-
woman who was bought at a market in Norway by an
Icelander called Hoskuldr. The woman was dumb, but
Hoskuldr was so struck by her appearance that he willingly
paid for her three times the price of an ordinary slave,
and took her back with him to Iceland. A few years later,
happening to overhear her talking to their little son, Olaf
Pai, he discovered to his amazement that her dumbness
was feigned. She then confessed that her name was
Melkorka (Ir. Mael-Curcaigh) and that she was the daughter
of Myr Kjartan, a king in Ireland, whence she had been
carried off as a prisoner of war when only fifteen years old.
When Olaf was grown up his mother urged him to visit
Ireland in order to establish his relationship with King
Myr Kjartan,
"
for," she said,
"
I cannot bear your being
called the son of a slave-woman any longer." Before they
parted she gave him a large finger-ring and said :
"
This
my father gave me for a teething-gift, and I know he will
recognise it when he sees it." She also put into his hands
a knife and belt and bade him give them to her nurse :
"
I
am sure she will not doubt these tokens." And still further
Melkorka spoke :
"
I have fitted you out from home as
best I know how, and taught you to speak Irish, so that it
will make no difference to you where you are brought to
shore in Ireland. . . ." 1
The saga goes on to describe the voyage to Ireland, the
landing there, and Olaf’s reception by King Myr Kjartan.
Myr Kjartan may be identified with Muirchertach
"
of
the leather Cloaks," King of Aileach, who like his father
Niall Glundubh distinguished himself by his spirited
1
Laxdaela Saga (translated by M.A.C. Press), chs. 12, 13, 20, 21.

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