The Legend of Knockgrafton Commentary
A curious tale in which a hunchback comes upon some fairies, delights them, and has his hump removed. Especially curious because the fairy hills are known as knocks, and the hump on the hunchback is also a "knock", as is explained in the story. The Irish fairies are generally thought of as being remnants of the People of Dana, who possessed great gifts, knowledge and poetry, and who settled in the land after the arrival of the Firbolgs. "Firbolg" is given to mean "men of the bags", the name acquired by these being individuals who had formerly settled in Greece, been oppresed there and made to carry earth from the valleys to the rocky hillls, in order to make arable ground of them, and this was done by virute of leather bags. At last they made boats out of their bags and sailed for Ireland. They are also given as coming from Spain, or the "Land of the Dead", and are inferior and servile. The Danaans were displaced by the children of Miled who followed after them, who also came from Spain, the "Land of the Dead"; the Danaans cloaked themselves in invisiblity and became identified with the spiritual part of Ireland, so that from then on there were two Irelands, the spiritual and the physical. I've nothing to back me up on this, but I've wondered if in this tale there isn't a hint of the Firbolgs and the Danaans, who agreed to share Ireland together but live separately, after some initial fighting, The hunchback with the "knock" on his back reminds of these Firbolgs who carried earth in leather bags up to the "knocks"...the image of individuals bent over with heavy bags of earth on their back punctuating the idea. One hunchback who encounters the fairies experiences their favor as he adds to their song/knowledge, and is transformed. Another crass hunchback who seeks an encounter with them instead finds only misfortune. The story is not just one of good and evil rewarded as to deeds, nor do I think it simply and vaguely refers to any historical dealings of Firbolgs with Danaans and Danaans with the children of Miled.
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