An old poor man was dying and he grieved that he had nothing to leave to his three sons. Still he called them to his bedside. He asked them by name, one at a time, to go out and bring him in a rush – a common rush that would grow in a bog.
He asked the eldest to bring him an extra rush for himself. The rushes were brought to him at the bedside and he handed one to the eldest son and says,
Sure the eldest son had no bother in breaking the rush, catching it at the two ends and pulling.
‘You all see that’, says the old man. They said they did.
‘Now’, he says, ‘if yous all go till I call yous.’
They left him to himself and he took the three remaining rushes and he plaited them and when he had that done he called them up again to his bedside. He handed the plaited rushes to the eldest son.
‘Break that’, says he.
Well if he was pulling till yet he couldn’t break the plaited rushes: or the second son couldn’t break it: nor the youngest son when it come his turn.
‘Now then,’ says the father, ‘that’s the way you’ll be when I’m gone. If yous stay together yous can’t be broken’.