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This is probably an easy one, but I can't think of the right combination of keywords. I read it as a hardback around the late 1980s to the early 1990s. It involved a brother and sister who somehow wound up back in early ages of Celtic Ireland. They meet a young man who turns out to be Cuchulain, although I want to say that he used a different name, so it took the children a while to catch on. It was definitely a fantastic take on it, as I remember Cuchulain using Gáe Bulg, his magic spear. Specifically, there was something involving chasms belching poisonous gasses, but he could breath with his mouth by the spear (which does not seem to be among the legendary qualities of that weapon).

I vaguely remember that the children first encounter Cuchulain by a body of water, I think as he was bathing. When the children are returned home, they return with a carved comb of bone or ivory. I remember they also came home with a case of lice, which required boiling the comb. Things that stick with you... There might have been a sequel, but I don't remember any details if so.

I think (and this is very tenuous) that the cover had the brother and sister stepping out of a forest, hand in hand, with Cuchulain down by the water's edge, as per that first meeting.

marked as duplicate by FuzzyBoots story-identification Jun 30 '17 at 22:11

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As per Looking for a book I read in the eighties, similar to Narnia but with a more Celt feel, it is The Wizard Children of Finn, by Mary Tannen with the sequel being The Lost Legend of Finn. I incorrectly remembered the hero, who was Finn McCool with his spear, Birgha.

The Wizard Children of Finn - book cover

Fiona McCool, a wise-cracking eleven-year-old, and her dreamy thumb-sucking brother, Bran, are lured into the woods by a mysterious whistle. The whilstler turns out to be Finn, an enchanted boy who has been watching the McCools, hoping to make friends with them. Fiona and Bran are caught up with him in a magical spell that flings them back through time to Finn's homeland, the Ireland of two thousand years ago. They journey on foot across ancient Ireland -- over two rivers, battling wild beasts, traveling toward the awesome celebration of Samhain, where their fate is to be decided. Fiona becomes Finn's poet, spinning their adventures into poems, while Bran remembers the tales perfectly and recites them. Together, the McCools document the story of Finn, a boy on the brink of manhood whom they grow to love, but cannot begin to understand.

2

This sounds very similar to "The Druid's Tune" by O.R. Melling

While visiting distant relatives in Ireland, a teenage brother and sister, curiously uneasy about the strange workman on their cousin's farm, discover his strange powers when they are all transported back in time to take part in the struggle between Cuchulain of Ulster and Queen Maeve of Connaught.

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  • I'm sorry, Valorum, but scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/159416/… posited The Wizard Children of Finn and I think that's going to wind up being the answer. I've ordered a copy via ILL. – FuzzyBoots May 14 '17 at 22:51
  • @FuzzyBoots - Let me know if it's the right one and I'll dupe them off. – Valorum May 14 '17 at 22:52

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