Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Oisín and Tír Na nÓg.
Oisín and Tir Na nÓg.
The direct translation of Tir Na nÓg is "land of eternal youth". It refers to a mystical land in Irish mythology where the trees are always in bloom and there is always a bard to sing for you, where the food is always bountiful and the drink is always flowing, and, most of all, a place where you'll never grow a day older. You may live for blissful eternity in this enchanted land.
The favourite legend of Tir Na nÓg is that of the love between Niamh (pronounced Neeve) and Oisín (O-Sheen), a goddess and a Celtic warrior, whose love story takes them across the ocean, through the ages, and into legend.
One day while out hunting, Oisín was approached by a beautiful maiden, Niamh. The couple fell in love and travelled on Niamh’s magic white horse to live in Tir Na nOg. They married and lived a long and happy life together in this enchanted land.
300 years had passed and Oisín still looked exactly the same as when he arrived to Tir Na nOg. But even the land of eternal youth couldn’t banish memories and he began to miss his people and his home terribly. Niamh understood his need to visit the mortal world again and see his friends and she provided him with a fairy horse to take him there. She warned him however that he must not set foot on the earth – if he did, he would never be able to return.
Oisín arrived back in Ireland to see that much had changed over 300 years! Fionn and his men were long dead and the Fianna were by now the stuff of legend. He did not like what he saw and decided to return to Tir Na nOg and his beloved Niamh. On his way back he came across a group of men who were attempting to lift a heavy rock and he bent down to help them. Tragedy struck as he slipped from the saddle and fell to the ground. Oisín had touched mortal soil. He was instantly transformed into an old blind man.
Oisín wandered Ireland for many years; eventually he was to die without ever again setting eyes upon Niamh and Tir Na nOg. Here the story of Tir Na nOg ends. Unfortunately eternal youth is for fairies and not mortals - but that shouldn’t stop us dreaming!