Thrawn and the King of Ireland’s Son

Well, you learn something new every day: the word “Thrawn” (for which the Star Wars character is no doubt named) is an Irish word:

1. Twisted, crooked, distorted, misshapen, deformed; awry, turned in a wrong direction.

2. Combs. thrawn-leggit-rumplet, having the legs or haunches crooked or deformed.

I found the term in CELTIC WONDER TALES (1910) by Ella Young, where we read:

One day the Son of the Gobhaun Saor was sitting outside in the sunshine, cutting a little reed into a pipe to make music with. He was so busy that he never saw three stranger-men coming till they were close to him. He looked up then and saw three thrawn-faced churls wrapped in long cloaks. “Good morrow to you,” said the Son of the Gobhaun Saor. “Good morrow,” said they. “We have come to say a word to the Son of the Gobhaun Saor.” “He is before you,” said the Son. “We have come,” said the most thrawn-faced of the three, “from the King of the Land Under Wave to ask you to help him; he has a piece of work that none of his own people can do, and you have the cleverness of the Three Worlds in your fingers.” “‘Tis my father has that,” said the Son of the Gobhaun Saor. “Well,” said the other, “bring your father with you to the Land Under Wave and your fortune’s made.”

The Son of the Gobhaun Saor set off at that to find his father. “I have the news of the world for you and your share of fortune out of it,” he said. “What news? ” said the Gobhaun. “The King of the Land Under Wave has sent for me; if you come with me your fortune is made.” “Did he send you a token?” “No token at all, but do you think I would not know his messengers? ” “O, ’tis you has the cleverness!” said the Gobhaun Saor.

They set out next morning, and as they were going along, the Gobhaun Saor said: “Son, shorten the way for me.” “How could I do that? ” said the Son, “if your own two feet can’t shorten it.” “Now, do you think,” said the father, “that you’ll make my fortune and your own too when you can’t do a little thing like that!” and he went back to the house.

The Son sat down on a stone with his head on his hands to think how he could shorten the road, but the more he thought of it the harder it seemed, and after a while he gave up thinking and began to look round him.

To discover what happens, and the truth of it, my dears, you may needs must read the tale, and your heart’s delight might be found.

And now, the next time a churl wags his tongue at you, you may mock and rail against him as “thrawn-faced” and use other hard words.

Myself, I smile most on a book called KING OF IRELAND’S SON (1916), written by Padraic Colum and adorned by Willy Pogany. There are perhaps places to find it online, where you may read free of charge, asking leave or let of no man, for it is in that great domain we call the public domain.