The Champion Of Scotland

Words: Mikal Hrafspa (Mikal the Ram)
Notes from Mikal:
This is a bragging tale, or what we in the present day would call a liar's tale. The source of this story was a great uncle of mine who died in 1965. He was well known for his lies, and being of Scottish descent, he made locating this story's origin much easier.
I've heard it told many different ways, using different countries or place-names. The countries used here are what I think are the originals, but I'm a little prejudiced, I think.

THERE WAS A MAN in Ireland who had little luck in farming, and less luck in cutting peat. He had outright failed in making whiskey, and washed out of the horse-trading at the Dublin fair. In fact, there were many who would say if he had not been lucky enough to marry, he would have had no luck at all. (There were a few who might point out his wife and say such luck is no man's joy.) But to get to the heart of the tale, he was without any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

There were but two things he did well; fight and brag. This is not to say he was shunned by his neighbors. Just the opposite was true. Since fighting and bragging constitute the two chief forms of entertainment in that country, he was quite popular. It was just that he had no money, nor had he a method of making any.

One year the Dublin fair boasted a huge hulk of a man thought to be the champion of Dublin at the fighting bare handed. So sure were they that a purse of silver was offered to any who could beat him.

The luckless man thought to himself, "What harm could there be in me trying him? I've so little luck that I would be injured far worse in trying to make that much money any other way." So he climbed into the circle and quick as a wink he had put the big man down for the counting.

Here he was no longer luckless, for now he was the champion of the Dublin fair. He took home the silver and his wife was so happy that she told the whole county that her man was the champion of Dublin.

Now there were those who thought themselves better men than he, and they began to offer him purses to fight them as well. Before too long he was the champion of two counties, then four, then seven, then eleven. By the end of two years he had fought every champion in Ireland and was considered himself to be The Champion of Ireland itself!

He was so proud that he had his wife sew in large letters on his coat "The Champion of Ireland." And all the men in all the public houses knew his name. He had so much money, he no longer fought for purses, but offered them himself if he thought enough of the man.

Then one day a merchant came to town, and when he was introduced to the Champion he exclaimed; "Now I have seen a great wonder! Two champions of two separate countries in one month! Not twenty days ago I saw the man who was champion of Scotland!"

The comment began to gnaw at the champion. There was a Champion of Scotland. If he could but go there and win against this man, he could be champion of both Ireland and Scotland. What a grand thing to be! Perhaps then he could see if there was a Champion of England as well!

His wife agreed, it might be grand to be the champion of two countries. So she packed him food and clothing and a small hoard of coin and kissed him as he left. He sailed to Scotland that night.

After he landed in Scotland, he began to search for the Champion. everyone he asked pointed him north, into the highlands. The roads got narrower and narrower, and steeper and steeper, until at last it turned into a squirrel's trail and went up the side of a tree. But it was well packed every inch of the way!

Beside that tree was a tiny, ramshackle house, and on it's porch was a tiny dried up woman who could scarcely weigh as much as a fat hen. When he asked her where the champion of Scotland was, she pointed him to the rear of the house. "He's plowing the field," she said.

There behind the shack was a field almost straight up and down, a half day's climb in length. Going up this sheer cliff was a giant of a man, seven foot tall and three foot wide at the shoulder! He was driving a plow, that was pulled by two wild bulls that he kept in line with cursing and kicks and blows. Over his shoulder was a mattress tic, filled with thirty bushels of seed that he scattered with his other hand. When he reached the far end of the field, he reached out and knocked out both bulls with one punch, lifted the plow and bulls together,turned them all around, and then slapped the bulls awake and started back.

The champion of Ireland watched him come closer, and set his jaw. He drew himself up and shouted; "You, man! I've come seeking the Champion of Scotland! Are you he?" "Aye," the big man growled. "I am he. What is your business?" The Irishman said, "I've just come to tell you you're the Champion of Ireland, too!"

Back to Main Songbook Page