adapted from peter mcintosh history of kintyre (1861)

Location: Kintyre
gaelic culture, the natural world, gaelic language and placenames

Murdering with the boar’s bristles

This is a dramatic murder story from the mists of time is well known local folklore across Kintyre. The murder weapon was a boar’s bristles – while they were still attached to the boar.

This is how Peter McIntosh told the story in his History of Kintyre (1861) book. There is a legend that an enormous boar haunted the highest mountain in Kintyre - Beinn An Tuirc (mountain of the wild boar in Gaelic) and was very dangerous to any person travelling that way.

King Fingal at that time, being in Kintyre with his brave Fingalians, ordered one of his men called Diarmid, to kill the wild boar. Diarmid, who was a great hunter, obeyed and killed it, which stirred up the envy of some of the men. It is said that Diarmid was only vulnerable in one part – the heel. Fingal, with his men, viewed the wild boar and stood astonished at its great length. Diarmid was ordered to measure it with his bare feet. He did so, beginning at the head, the strong bristles pressed downwards yielded with him. Fingal, who, through some jealousy, wished Diarmid dead, ordered him to measure the beast against the grain, which Diarmid did; when the bristled pierced the vulnerable part of his heel, and he soon bled to death.

Diarmid, it is said, had only one eye, termed as Camshuil in Gaelic, from whom the Campbells are descended, and they still retain in their armorial bearings a boar’s head.

This story was contributed by Roddy MacLean

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