Joe Donaghue

School: St Luke’s High School, Glasgow

Kelpie's War with the Sea.

A one act play

This play explores the Scottish Myths - the Salmon of knowledge, the fish and the ring in the

Glasgow coat of arms and Cuachlain's fight with the sea.


Kelpie:             Is it sore? Conlan does it hurt?

Conlon:            I'm fine.

Kelpie:             Let me see.

Conlon:            No.

Kelpie:             Please.

Conlon:            Just tell me one of your stories.

Kelpie:             There's blood on your shirt!

Conlon:            No there isn't. Tell me the one about the fairy flags.

Kelpie:             You promised! You promised your father you wouldn't
                       go to sea under a black sky.

Conlon:            I had to, the salmon are coming. You haven't seen them.
                       You can't know.

Kelpie:             But he took the skin off your back like he said he would
                       if you disobeyed him.

Conlon:            He whipped me black and blue. But Kelpie, it's nowhere
                       near as sore as sittin here watchin the sea. Look.

Kelpie:             It looks like night. You can't tell where the sky meets or
                       leaves the sea.

Conlon:            The waves are white. They jump like....

Kelpie:             Like Kelpies.

Conlon:            And under the white waves a million salmon, and one and
                       only one with your ring in its belly.

Kelpie:             It doesn't matter.

Conlon:            It does. I never should have used it to catch the....

Kelpie:             The Salmon of Knowledge is just a myth, Conlon.
                       You can't eat myths.

Conlon:            (Holding up a fishing spool and line)
                       This yoyo's caught a silver king as big as you.
                       You don't know the... the power in the singing line. It hums.
                       It beats into your blood till you swim with the salmon undersea.
                       It's a secret you'll never forget.

Kelpie:             Don't believe the sea, Conlan. The sea lies to capture you.

Conlon:            That's the magic of the Salmon of Knowledge, fish can't lie.

Kelpie:             The ring in the Salmon of Knowledge is only a story. The real
                       well of wisdom is won by those who know there is no well.

Conlon:            (Hands Kelpie the spool)
                       No. Feel. What does the line say?

Kelpie:             Nothing.

Conlon:            Feel. Deeper. What do you hear?

Kelpie:             Rain.

Conlon:            What else?

Kelpie:             The sea. There's someone at the window.

Conlon:            Cauchlain! The salmon have come.

Kelpie:             You promised. You promised.

Conlon:            I have to go. The sea-foam in my blood runs happy only
                       in the waves.
                       (Conlon exits.)

Kelpie:             Come back! I'll tell you a ...a legend.... to keep you by the fire
                       (Conlon can't hear).
                       I hate the sea, I hate you. Come back!
                       (Six wire horses enter as the sea).

The Sea:          We throw wild waves upon this land
                       to remove all fables from the sand.
                       We reclaim every image, word and name
                       so men wither and grow tame.

Kelpie:             No. That's the wrong song.
                       (She pulls the red ribbon out of her hair and holds it high).
                       You must obey the fairy flag and send Conlon back.

The Sea:          We never bend.
                       We are the end of spells you think,
                       may yet defend son from sea and sea from daughter.
                      when in truth there is only ringing water.

Kelpie:             No. Sing the right song. Bring Conlon home or I'll poison
                       every river, lake and stream. I have the flag.

The Sea:          Kelpies invent a gap between good and bad.
                       And give it names to calm the mad.
                       We are never angry, scared or sane.
                       Because right is wrong by the same name.

Kelpie:             Give him back!

The Sea:          We've erased all stories from the sand.
                       Watch all illusions perish in your hand.

Kelpie:             No. I'll go to the sea and catch him back.
                       (She holds up the fishing line and ribbon and runs between
                       the horses dancing).



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