The Goban Saor: 'What Donkeys Do'
- An ancient Irish tradition speaks of the Goban Saor,
who may have been a not so distant relative of
Mullah Nasrudin. Here is one of many teaching
stories about him. Enjoy!
Once the Goban was in the Tabhairne (tavern)drinking
mead as usual. At the next table a rowdy group - led
by Cairbre O Loingsigh, the sea-captain's son - was
loudly recapitulating the Goban's various adventures
The stories invariably ended in roars of laughter.
The whole idea was to show what a foolish and ridiculous
character the Goban was.
They kept glancing gleefully and maliciously in
the Goban's direction, but he paid no attention
whatsoever. In fact, he seemed completely unconcerned
and even gave the impression that the thoughts running
through his head were of a pleasant nature.
Gradually - since they were getting no response - the
rowdy group's joviality seemed to run down and they
became quieter and quieter . Some continued to glance
maliciously over at the Goban, but now frustration clouded
some faces , others seemed puzzled or annoyed.
At last , Conaill Mac Carthaigh , the tavern-owner - his
curiosity aroused - wandered over to the Goban and said :
"Goban, did you not hear what those layabouts were saying
about you ? Aren't you going to do something about it ?"
Suddenly the whole tavern went quiet, waiting for the
Blinking, as if coming out of a dream, the Goban said:
"..Well, now, tavern-keeper, if I'm walking along the
road of an evening, minding my own business, and a donkey
leans over a gate and brays at me, I'm not going to get
upset, am I? Because that's what donkeys do ..!"
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