Deirdre of the Sorrows, You’re Not to Blame

I just wanted so much to write the narrative to this old Irish tale in Gaelic. It’s such a fascinating story because it illustrates the danger of ignoring prophecy (or, more appropriately, common sense). And I just wonder what Deirdre herself thought of her lot; did she know of the prophecy about her that was told when she was just a newborn? She had the Second Sight, a type of Extrasensory Perception, thus she could have suspected at least. If she did, what did she think? What must have gone through her mind as she tried to avert disaster? And King Conchobhar himself… his own foolish lust created his own ruin.

I’m sure that women the world over have a rough time, although especially attractive women have some particular cruelties that they face… I’m sure that plenty of women think, “Will you boys stop fighting, start thinking with your brains, and act your age??!!”

Oh, and Fergus Mac Roich, I was surprised to learn that he was the king of Ulster before Conchobhar’s mother, Neasa, manipulated him into giving her son the crown. And that Naoise and his brothers were Conchobhar’s own nephews…! Nice family…! That and Queen Maebh was originally married to Conchobhar and had a son by him, but she hated her husband and left him for Ailill, with whom she would rule Connacht and have seven sons.

It’s a theme that runs through the stories of Helen of Sparta and Princess Cassandra of Troy, although Deirdre seems to be more like Cassandra in that she is trying to avert disaster and is more sympathetic than Helen.
The Klickitat Nation in Oregon and Washington tells of how the volcanoes known to most as “Mt Hood”, “Mt Adams”, and “Mt St Helens” were once the actors in an unfortunate love triangle between the Creator God’s sons, Wy’East (Mt Hood) and Pahto/Klickitat (Mt Adams), and a young woman Loowit (Mt St Helens) who could not choose between the brothers; the neighboring nations of the Klickitat all tell variations of the same theme, which may well be describing metaphorically a geological disaster (earthquake and volcanic eruption) and part of the cultural history of the Nations in question.

I’ve tried to write it in the Dal-Riata dialect of Gaelic (which would straddle much of Northern Ireland and Southwestern Scotland), since the story takes place in that region.

I tried to be as accurate as historically and culturally possible, including the ages of the heroine and hero; according to Brehon Law in Gaelic Ireland, the legal minimum marriageable ages were 15 years for women and 18 years for men. Deirdre is supposedly just at marriageable age when she meets Naoise and he’s roughly 19 or 20 since he has two brothers and is already one of the most decorated warriors of Ulster.

In comparison, my guess is that King Conchobhar is at least in his late thirties or early forties, compared to Deirdre’s 15 years and Naoise’s 20; 50 years was generally the beginning of old age for most of human history. He was probably was closer to 40 years, middle-aged, but a woman of Deirdre’s age would still see him as “old”.

I learned here books.google.com/books?id=VStL…
that Deirdre and Naoise might have had children, Gaiar and Aebgreine, while in exile.

As of 07/2017, I decided to put a bit more emphasis on the children and a bit on domestic life for Deirdre and her family, including a bit of the infatuation and conjugal affection between her and Naoise, including the idea that Deirdre and Naoise consummated their union while fleeing to Scotland (they’re a young couple, thoroughly smitten with each other, it made sense), resulting in their first child.
I know that Deirdre would be just shy of 16 years when bearing her firstborn (childbirth at a very early age is dangerous for the mother) and I wanted to emphasize that she was a tall, strapping beauty (with the implication of full hips).

Deirdre of the Sorrows, You’re Not to Blame

Deirdre nam Bròn, Chan e Thu as Coireach

A Dheirdre, dé an fios a bh’agad? An robh
Fios agad air an fhàisneachamh ‘n Dhraoidh Cathbhadh?
Dé smaointich thu? An d’ ghabh thu uabhas aig an
Smaoin sin gum millteamh rìoghachd mhór air do shon…?

An iarr thu an dàn a dh’fhàisnich Cathbhadh?
Aig cuirm leis an rìgh na h-Ulaidh, ‘na chuirmear,
‘S na Curaidhean na Craoibhe Ruaidhe aig an
Taigh d’athar, chualamh do sgreuch oillteil uad, fhath’st

Sa’ mhachlag fhéin do mháthar, bha h-uil’ an iongnadh…
Och, Eilèin Gháidhealaich, ‘s gann gun rugamh tu nair
dh’Éigh Cathbhadh fhéin gun tigeamh tu gu h-inbhe
Chun nighean fhéin a b’ mhaisich’ uile h-Éireann

Ach rachamh rìghrean ‘s tighearnan ri cogamh
Air do shon, dhòirteamh móran fhuil air do shon,
Is sparrtamh an triùir ghaisgeach Ulaidh ‘s fheàrr ‘steach
Do fògramh ‘s siùbhlamh air do sgàth, air do shon…!

Dh’iarr Curaidhean na Craoibh’ Ruaidh’ d’athair, ‘n filidh
An Rìghre Conchobhar mac Neasa ‘n Ulaidh,
Gad mharbhamh aig breith, ach dhearg-bhrosnaich aithris
Do mhaise ‘n Rìgh, a thòisich ‘dhealbhamh ortsa…

‘Na fhichead blian’ ‘s a cóig, bruadarach ‘s òg
Gu leòr fhath’st, dh’iarr Conchobhar a bhith ‘na
Rìgh thruacanta; dhèanamh e an ainnir
‘Na bhainrìgh ‘s mar sin chlòthamh e strì sam bith…

‘Nad nighneag, thug Rìgh thu ri Leabharcham chaoimh,
Do mhuime dhìleas dh’àraicheamh tu ‘n caisteal
Céin le ban-òglaich eil’ air falbh ás an
Sùil fhir eil’ gos an ruigeamh tu ‘n aois phòsaidh…

Gu dearbh, dh’fhàsamh tu chun ainnir mhaiseach
Ach aonaranach, bhàn ‘s nan sùilean glasa
‘S nan gruaidhean luis nam ban-sìth’, bilean nan ròs,
Le cruth mhór, fhoirfe lànachd abaich nan ceòs…

Mar a bha thu a dh’fhàs na b’ dlùithe ris an
Aois phòsaidh, thadhail Conchobhar nas tric’; bha
E snog gu leòr, ach bha ‘na bhodach preasach;
Ó, choir do ghràin air snaidhmean air do mhionach…!

Nair chunnaic thu gun d’ chasgair d’oide laogh air
Lath’ Geamhraidh, thùirling fitheach air an sneachda
Ag ithe ‘n sneachd’ ùr fuilteach, ‘s leig thu osna;
Bu mhiann leat fear dubh snuaidh ruitich’ ‘s gile…

Am bruadar, bha thu air an òigear briagh
Seo fhaicinn, fuilt an fhithich, snuaidh sneachda ghlain ghil,
Is gruaidhean ‘s bilean cho dearg ri fuil, ‘n tarbh
Òg tapaidh fìnealta neo-eagalach sin…

Ge b’oillt le Leabharcham, cha b’urrainn dhi casg
Fhéin, oir bha cus gràidh aice ort gad thoirt ri
Rìgh chrosda aosda; thuirt i gun d’ cho-fhreagair
An tuairisgeul ri Naoise, ‘na mhac Uisnich.

An dealbh-chunntais Naoise, ‘na mhac Uisnich,
Bha e ‘nad laoch a b’ fheàrr, a b’ ghaisgich’ Ulaidh,
Bha e ‘s a dhithis bhràthair dian-dìleas
‘Nam blàthan fhéin a b’ uaisle ‘n uile Éirinn…

Ged dhiùlt a’ bhanaltram do ghuidh’ air toiseachd,
Bha fios aig Leabharcham gun dh’fheumramh géilleamh,
Gun bitheamh ceàrr gad thoirt, ‘nad rìbhinn mhaiseach
Cóig bliana deug a dh’aois, don Rìgh aosda…

Ghabh Leabharcham thu ris gun fhiosda, chuala
Thu Naoise ‘seinn gu binn le chlàrsach, ‘suidhe
Fo uinnseann mhór. Fo gheasa, mhothaich thu àgh
Nach d’ mhothaich thu a-riadh, ‘s chunnaic e thu…!

Choir fheusag iteach bhog, mhìn cuidream mór air
A’ bhòidhche aghaidh fhearail, shùilean ghormain
‘S chnòth’-challtainn, ‘chraiceann ruiteach geal thar fèithean
Mór’ cruadhach, ‘bheul ròis ‘s a chiabh fhithich… !

Naoi blian’ deug a dh’aois, chan fhaca e bean
Do mhaise, ciabhan na meala, gruaidhean
An luis nam ban-sìth’, d’ fhiaclan na neamhnaid,
Do shùilean liath-uaine, ‘s dìorras shàmhach…

“Feuch, abair gur agh rìomhach gun déid seachad~!”
Ghoir e gu pratach. Fo fearg ‘s ùidh, dh’fhreagair
Thu, “’S furast’ e airson nan aighean a bhith
Cho rìomhach ‘s mhaiseach far nach eil ann tarbhan~!”

Is tharraing sibhse ás a chéil’ gu cridheil…
Ged bh’ e fo gheasa cuideachd, le do thuigse
Is d’ionracas, do ghlain’ a thuillidh d’ mhaise,
Bha fios aig Naoise gun do bhean thu don Rìgh.

Bha fios aig Naoise gun do bhean thu don Rìgh,
Ach dhearbh thu air do spéis, dian nach bu
Mhath leat an Rìgh sean, crosda, gun do dh’iarr
Thu esan, ‘na laoch briagh òg is tapaidh…!

A’ tarrang ás gum bitheamh cluasan fhanaid’
Is nàire aigesan nam fàgamh esan
Thu, rinn sibh gàire còmhl’ ann an dlùth-ghabhail,
Is dh’earb thu ‘n gabhail ris grad, làn a bhràithrean…!

Bha ‘n Rìgh air bhàinidh, ‘cor an airm thar Éirinn.
Cheil Naoise ‘gus a bhràithrean, Ardán ‘s Ainnle,
Thu ann an dòmhlachd oidhcheil ‘s theich sibh Uladh
Don dh’Alba, far an cunnaic an rìgh d’àilleachd…

Bu mhiann leis thu ‘s thòisich e ‘thoirt obair
Gun d’ dh’fhàs nas cunnartaich’ ri Naoise, Ardán,
Is Ainnle mus thuig ead a dhroch-rùn; theich sibh
Ri h-eilean fasgach ‘s pailt a’ bhìdh’, neo-bhuairte…

Bh’ a’ bheatha stuam’ ach sona; bha gràdh agad
Air Ardán ‘s Ainnle mar do bràithrean fhéin ‘s ghabh
Thu ‘s Naoise barrachd ghràidh air ‘chéile gach là
Car na grunn blianaichean gun d’ chaith sibh ann…

Bha Naoise coileanta, ‘na fhiùran dèanta,
Bha thu ‘nad rìbhinn mhór; ‘s bha sibh fo gheas ghlain
Le chéile, dh’amhraic sibh a chéil’ gu spéiseach,
‘S mus d’ ráinig sibh na h-Alba, bh’iomlan pòsamh…!

Mus d’ráinig sibh na h-Alba, rinn sibh iomlan
Ur pòsamh, bha thu ‘na bhainrìgh ‘s bh’ e ‘nad rìgh…!
Ged thòisich duilgheadas air Alba, dhìon sibh
A chéile ‘s a’ bhuil ur gaoil ‘s theich don dh’eilean…

Ri Naoise ‘gas riut, rugamh mac is nighean,
Air àrach leis an Dia Manannan Mac
Lir anns an Eamhain Abhlach, dhìon diadhaidh
An aghaidh rìghre fheargaich aosd’ Ulaidh…

Do mhac ‘s do nighean, Gaiar is Aebgreine,
A chuireamh moit ann Naoise ‘s annad; Gaiar
A ghabhamh ‘na laoch mór mar athair, ‘s ghabhamh
Aebgreine ‘na Baintighearn’ na Tìre nan Òg…

Air bhàinidh gun do chaill e thu ‘s làn dhìoghaltais,
Mheall Conchobhar an Tighearn’ Fearghas mac Róich,
As urramaich’, ‘s a dhith’s mhac gad ath-bhuidhinn
Is na mic Uisnich, geallamh ‘n iochd gum briseamh…

Chreid Fearghas Conchobhar, gun cùmamh e gheallamh
Iochd. Bheireamh e sibh dhachaidh ris an dh’Uladh
Le dhith’s mhac, Illian Fionn is Buinne Ruadh Cruaidh.
Choir na mic Uisnich fàilte àghach orra…!

Ged bha do chéil’ ‘s a bhràithrean sulchair fhaicinn
Ur càirdean dìls’, bh’ an dàrna seallamh fhéin a’d;
Bha fios ceart agad air na thachaireamh dhuibh;
Chan earbtamh Conchobhar, leat no le d’ chéile…

Ged thagair ‘s ghuidh thu, cha tug eadsan feart air
Do rabhamh. Cha tug na fir roghainn dhut, chaidh
Thu gu h-aindeonach air an long don dh’Uladh,
Oir bhruidhinn dleasdanas na b’ fharamaiche…

Och, dh’fheumamh tu is Naoise fàgail ur clann,
Ge b’oillt leibh, na dà patach ann, ‘nam breislich
Gum feumamh Mamag ‘s Boban is a bhràithrean
Gam fàgail, gun robh Mamag cho ‘na h-éiginn…!

Dh’ath-aithris thu gu h-éiginneach do fhàisneachd;
Ged cha robh Naoise ‘dir ‘na amadan ‘s dh’fheuch
E ‘thoirt cofhurtachd riut, phlàigh cianalas
‘S an dleasdanas na fir. Chnàmh d’ éiginn a’d fhéin…

Dh’fhàth-fheith ‘n Rìgh Fearghas le co-fhealltair uasal
Air alt ‘s nach b’urrainn e ur dìon ‘san tilleamh
Don dh’Eamhain Mhacha. Thug ur càirdean gaisgeach
Am fàilte ‘s cairtealan airson na h-oidhche…

Cha b’urrainn Fearghas diùltamh tairgse chuirme
Le triathan gun cunnart thàmailt’ móire…
Dh’fheuch thu ‘thoirt rabhamh ris na fir gum bitheamh
An oidhch’ na b’ sàbhailte anns a’ Chraoibh Ruadh fhéin dhuibh

Droch-amharasach air Naoise ‘s air do mhaise,
Choir Conchobhar gnù Leabharcham gad fhaicinn,
Fo uallach aithris dha do mhaise. ‘Feuchainn
Gad dhìon, thuirt i gun robh thu aosda ‘s ghrànnda…

Droch-amharasach air Leabharcham ‘s do mhaise,
Choir Conchobhar neach-brathaidh; chunnaic thu e
‘S choir Naoise ás a shùil; cam, dh’aithris esan
Gun robh cho maiseach thu ‘s gum b’fhiach doille…

An latha máireach, greasamh na Mic Uisnich
Do’n mheadhan chùirt-lios’ mhóir ‘s bha d’ làmhan cheangailt’
Fad ‘s gun d’ chàin Conchobhar am brathamh, ‘toirt ris
Na Laoich na Craoibh’ Ruaidh’ àithne ionnsaigh’ orra…

Ged shabaid na Mic Uisnich gu treun ‘s dh’fheuch na
Mic Fhearghais fhéin gan cobhramh, shluig Laoich do ghaol
‘S do chàirdean. Mharbh ceannard an airm, Eóghann
Mac Dùrthachd, Naoise, d’ chéile, le sleagh tron chùl…

Ràn thu an cràdh ‘s oillt aig an seallamh fad ‘s gun
Do ráinig Fearghas is arm aig an tiota
Sin, lorg e na Mic Uisnich air am mortamh
Le aon mhic ‘s bh’ a mhac eil’ air chor fo tàmailt…

Spreadh Fearghas ann am bàinidh ‘s dòrainn; mheall an
Rìgh e ‘s bhris e an geallamh gun d’rinn e dha.
Mhort Fearghas is arm móran laoich, a’ gabhail
‘Steach mac de Chonchobhair, mus theich ead Uladh…

Theich Fearghas is arm ris a’ Chonnacht far an
Thug Ailill ‘s Medb, an Rìgh ‘s a’ Bhainrìgh, fàilt’ dhaibh ‘s
Stiùir Fearghas fhéin ead ris a’ bhlàr an aghaidh ‘n
Rìghr’ Conchobhar air sgrios, a rìoghachd mhillte…

Air bhàinidh gu bheil Conchobhar air fhàisneachd
A leigeil seachad, choir ‘n draoidh Cathbhadh mallachd
Air Conchobhar nach riaghlamh a shliochdan
Gu sìorraidh tuillidh, ‘s milleamh Eamhain Mhacha…

Bh’ a dhuais aig Conchobhar, ach cha do mheal e
Do chonaltramh a-riadh; dhiùlt thu e gu
Fuar daonnan, is car blian’ ‘s aon là shuidh ‘s chaoin
Thu, truagh sa’ chiomachas fhir gum bu fhuath leat…

Na pataich do ghràidh, ‘dh’fheumamh tu gam fàgail,
Bha Gaiar, do mhac, ‘na chòig blianaichean
‘S Aebgreine ‘na dà bliana, air chur far
Na cìche ‘n ceart lath’ dh’fheumamh tu gam fàgail…!

Na bràithrean Naoise aig a bha gràdh ort mar
Am piuthar fhéin, air mharbhamh ‘nad sheallamh
Leis, Naoise, ‘m bràthair tapaidh ris a bh’ eadsan
Cho dìleas, Naoise ‘bha cho briagh ‘s fìnealt’…!

Och, Naoise, ‘n céile do ghràidh, b’urrainn dhut fhath’st
A fhaicinn, ‘siubhal romhad is cha b’urrainn
Dhut chaoineamh cruaidh na b’ leòir airson am fhir a
Chuir geas ort fhath’st, leòn geur nach leighiseamh annad…

Chaoin thu an t-athair do chloinne, Naoise do ghràidh,
Chaoin thu ‘dhith’s bhràthair dhìleas, Ardán ‘s Ainnle,
‘San tuireamh gun d’ rinn thu air an son, deas a
Shiubhal ‘s theicheamh Conchobhar ris na luchd do ghràidh…

Aon latha, dh’fhoighnich Conchobhar uat, “Dé ‘th’ an
Nì air ‘bheil an gràin as mó agad ‘san domhan?”
Diùlt thu ga sheallamh ‘s dh’fhreagair, “Tha gràin agam
Ort ‘s air a’ bhéist sin Eóghann ‘mhort mo ghràdh-sa…!”

Air chaothach, shònraich Conchobhar gad chor ris,
Ri Eóghann, car aon bliana. Sa’ charbad
Sgeig e thu, “coiridh sinn thu eadarainne
Mar caora eadar dithis reithe!” Chnac thu.

Aig an uaigh Naoise ‘gos a bhràithrean, ràn thu
An corraich ‘s dòrainn ‘s thilg thu fhéin on charbad.
Bhuail d’ cheann an carragh, ‘mharbh thu an clisgeadh
Is dh’fhosgail ‘s ghabh an tìr do mharbhan truagh…

Is dh’fhosgail ‘s ghabh an tìr do mharbhan truagh,
‘S laigh thu air Naoise, d’ bhilean ‘gabhail fois air
A bhilean ‘s mar sin dheth bha sibhse còmhla
‘Rith’st ‘s dhùin an tìr gu dìonach ‘s iomlan tharaibh …

Is chaoidh na h-Ultaich ri àrd-ghul ‘s chinn on uaigh
Dà iubhar dìreach ‘s seanga, ‘s shuain na geugan
Mu chéile, mar dith’s leannan, ‘dèanadh bogha
Os cionn ur n-àite-adhlacaimh ‘s na carraigh~!

Air bhàinidh, ràn an rìgh an òrdugh chladhach
An uaigh ‘s a sparramh bacain eadaraibh, thu
‘S do chéile, uil’ gan cumail air leth eadhan
Sa’ bhàs, cho dall ‘na chorraich ‘n dìoghaltais…!

Air shàrachamh le Conchobhar, chronaich an
Draoidh Cathbhadh an rìgh, “Sguir do sgainnearamh saoibh
Nam marbh!” Bha e air an sliochd an rìghre
A mhallachamh a-chean’. An tàmailt, ghéill ‘n rìgh…

Air ghoid air falbh á do theaghlach ‘nad phàist’,
Air àrach ann an dìomhaireachd cho uaigneach
A bhith air phòsamh do rìgh gum robh suarach
Mu ‘n fàisneachd uasaich air do cheann cho soineant’…

‘Nad nighneag, chaill thu ‘n conaltramh le d’ theaghlach,
‘Nad mháthair òig, chaill thu ‘n conaltramh le d’ chlann-sa,
‘Nad òg-bhean, chaill thu d’ chéile ‘gas a bhràithrean,
Is uil’ airson an rìghre drùisich ghroid shin…

Ghabh rìgh thu á do theaghlach, air bheò-ghlacamh
Le maise dh’iarr e a shealbhachamh ‘n sannt,
Cha tug e roghainn dhut an suidheachamh gun
Robh thar do smachd, chan ach aon nighean ‘bh’innte…

An d’ dh’iarr thu dàn air chor ort aig do bhreith…?
Gabh fois, oir tha thu ‘s Naoise còmhla gu bràth…


O Deirdre, what did you know? Did you
Know about the prophecy of the Druid Cathbad?
What did you think? Did you take horror at that idea
That a great kingdom would be ruined on your account…?

Did you want the fate that Cathbad foretold?
At a feast held by the king of Ulster
And the Red Branch Warriors at the house
Of your father, your shocking scream was hear from you, still

In the very womb of your mother, all were astonished…
Alas, O Helen of the Gaels, hardly were you born
When Cathbad himself announced that you would come of age
Into the very fairest daughter of all Ireland

But kings and lords would go to war
Because of you, much blood would be spillt because of you,
And the three best warriors of Ulster would be forced
Into exile and death for your sake, because of you…!

The Red Branch Warriors wanted your father, the court poet
Of the King Conchobhar mac Neasa of Ulster,
To kill you at birth, but a report of your beauty
Aroused the King, who began planning on you

In his twenty and five years, idealistic and young
Enough still, Conchobhar wanted to be
A compassionate king; he would make the maiden
His queen and therefore he would mitigate any contention…

Just a maiden-child, a King gave you to gentle Lavarcham,
Your loyal nurse who raised you in a remote
Castle with other maidservants away from the
Eye of other men until you reached marriageable age…

Indeed, you grew into a fair albeit lonely
Maiden, brighthaired and of green-grey eyes
And cheeks of foxglove, lips of the roses,
With a tall, perfect figure of a ripe fullness of the hips…

As you were coming closer to the
Age of marriage, Conchobhar visited more often; he was
Nice enough, but he was a wrinkled old man;
O, your disgust in him knotted your stomach…!

When you saw that your foster father had slaughtered a calf
On a Winter’s day, a raven descended on the
Snow to eat the newly bloodied snow, and you sighed;
You desired a raven-haired man of white and rosy complexion.

In a dream, you had seen this handsome young man
Of raven hair, of complexion of pure white snow,
And cheeks and lips as red as blood, that
Fine, fearless, heroic young bull…

Although Lavarcham was horrified, she could not stop
Herself, for she loved you too much to give you to
A cross, aging King; she said that the description
Matched Naoise, a son of Uisneach.

The description of Naoise, a son of Uisneach,
He was the bravest, finest warrior of Ulster,
He and his two fiercely loyal brothers were
The very finest flowers in all of Ireland…

Although the nurse refused your begging at first,
Lavarcham knew that she would have to yield,
That it would be wrong to give you, a fair maid
Fifteen years of age, to the aging King…

Lavarcham took you to him secretly, you heard
Naoise singing sweetly with his harp, sitting
Under a great ash tree. Enchanted by him, you felt a joy
That you had never felt, and he saw you…!

His smooth, feather-soft beard emphasized greatly
The beauty of his virile face, his eyes of cornflower and
Hazelnut, his rosy, bright skin over great muscles
Of steel, his rosebud mouth and raven locks…!

Nineteen years of age, he had not seen a woman
Of your beauty, tresses of honey, cheeks
Of foxglove, teeth of pearl,
Your eyes of the sea, and a quiet tenacity in you…

“Behold, such a fine heifer that passes by~!”
He crowed mischievously. Vexed and interested, you
Answered, “’T is easy for heifers to be
So fine and fair where there are no bulls~!”

And you both heartily teased each other…
Although he, too, was charmed with you, with your intellegence
And your honesty and purity as well as your fair form,
Naoise knew that you belonged to the King.

Naoise knew that you belonged to the King,
But you proved to him of your affection, vehement that you
Disliked the old, irritable King, that you wanted
Him, a handsome and heroic young warrior…!

Teasing him that he would have ears of
Mockery and shame if he would leave
You, you both laughed together in an embrace,
And you earned the quick, full acceptance of his brothers…!

The King was furious, sending the army across Ireland.
Naoise and his brothers, Ardán and Ainnle, hid
You in a night-time throng and all of you fled Ulster
To Scotland, where their king saw your fairness…

He desired you and he began to give tasks
That grew more dangerous to Naoise, Ardán, and Ainnle
Before they understood his bad intentions; all of you fled
To an island, sheltered and abundant of food, untroubled.

Life was modest but happy; you loved
Ardán and Ainnle like your own brothers and
You and Naoise fell more in love with each other each day
For the several years that you all spent there…

Naoise was a virile, well-built young man,
You were a great, blooming maiden; and you were thoroughly
Enchanted with each other, you beheld each other fondly, and
Before you reached Scotland, a marriage was consummated…!

Before you reached Scotland, you made your marriage
Complete, you were his queen and he was your king…!
Although trouble began in Scotland, you protected
Each other and the result of your love and fled to the island…

To Naoise and you, a son and a daughter were born,
Fostered by the God Manannan Son of
Lir in Emain Abhlach, his divine protection
Against a wrathful old king of Ulster…

Your son and your daughter, Gaiar and Aebgreine,
Who would make you and Naoise proud; Gaiar, who
Would become a great warrior like his father, and Aebgreine
Who would become the Lady of Tír na nÓg…

Furious that he lost you and full of vengeance,
Conchobhar tricked the Lord Fergus mac Róich,
Most honorable, and his two sons to retrieve you
And the sons of Uisneach, a vow of mercy that he’d break.

Fergus believed Conchobhar, that he would keep his promise
Of clemency. He would bear you home to Ulster with his
Two sons, Illian the Flaxen and Buinne the Ruthless Red.
The sons of Uisneach welcomed them joyously…!

Although your husband and his brothers were overjoyed to see
Your loyal friends, you had the Second Sight itself;
You knew exactly what would happen to all of you;
Conchobhar could not be trusted, with you or your husband.

Although you pleaded and begged, they did not heed
Your warning. The men gave you no choice, you went
Unwillingly on the ship to Ulster,
For obligation spoke more loudly…

Alas, you and Naoise would have to leave your children,
Despite yourselves, both children there, bewildered
That Mamma and Papa and their uncles
Had to leave them, that Mamma was so distressed…!

You repeated desperately your prediction;
Although Naoise was not at all a fool and he
Tried to comfort you, homesickness and
Obligation plagued the men. Your crisis gnawed at your being…

The King waylaid Fergus with a noble conspirator
So that he could not protect you in the return
To Emhain Mhacha. Your warrior friends welcomed
You and gave you lodgings for the night…

Fergus could not refuse an offer of a feast
By lords without the risk of great scandal…
You tried to warn the men that the night would
Be safer in the Dark Red Branch itself for you…

Distrustful of Naoise and of your fairness,
Sullen Conchobhar sent Lavarcham to see you,
Under orders to report to him of your fairness. Trying
To protect you, she said that you were aged and ugly…

Distrustful of Lavarcham and of your fairness,
Conchobhar sent a spy; you saw him
And Naoise put out his eye; one-eyed, he reported
That you were so fair that blindness was worth it…

The next morning, the Sons of Uisneach were hastened to
The middle of a great courtyard and your hands were tied
While Conchobhar denounced their betrayal, ordering
The Red Branch Warriors to attack them…

Although the Sons of Uisneach fought valiantly and the sons of
Fergus himself tried to help, Warriors engulfed your love and Your friends.
A leader of the army, Eóghann Mac Dùrthachd,
Slew your husband Naoise with a spear through his back.

You screamed in anguish and horror at the sight as
Fergus and his army arrived at that
Moment, he found the Sons of Uisneach murdered
With one of his sons and his other son disgraced…

Fergus exploded in rage and anguish; the King
Deceived him and broke the promise that he’d made to him.
Fergus and his army massacred many warriors, including
A son of Conchobhar, before they fled Ulster…

Fergus and his men escaped to Connacht where
Ailill and Maebh, the King and Queen, welcomed them and
Fergus himself led them to battle against the
Ruined King Conchobhar, his kingdom destroyed…

Furious that Conchobhar had ignored
His prophecy, the druid Cathbad cursed
Conchobhar that his progenies would never rule
Again, and Emain Macha fell to ruin…

Conchobhar had his prize, but he never
Enjoyed your company; you always coldly
Refused him, and for a year and a day you sat and wept,
Miserable in the captivity of a man you loathed…

Your beloved children, you had to leave them,
With Gaiar, your son, at his five years of age
And Aebgreine at her two years of age, weaned from
The breast the same day which you had to leave them…!

Naoise’s brothers who loved you like
Their own sister, killed in your sight
With him, Naoise, the heroic brother to whom they
Were so loyal, Naoise who was so fine and fair…!

Alas, Naoise, your beloved husband, who you could still
See, dying before you and you could not weep
Severely enough for the man who enchanted
You still, a raw wound that would not heal in you…

You grieved for the father of your children, your darling Naoise,
You grieved for his two loyal brothers, Ardán and Ainnle,
In the lament which you composed for them, ready
To die and escape Conchobhar to your loved ones…

One day, Conchobhar inquired of you, “What is it
That you hate most in the world?”
You refused to look at him and answered, “I hate
You and that beast Eóghann who murdered my love…!”

Furious, Conchobhar decided to send you to him,
To Eóghann, for one year. In the chariot
He taunted you, “we will send you between us
Like a ewe between two rams!” You snapped.

At the grave of Naoise and his brothers, you screamed
In rage and anguish and you threw yourself from the chariot.
Your head hit the pillar stone, which killed you instantly
And the land opened and accepted your poor body…

And the land opened and accepted your poor body,
And you settled on Naoise, your lips resting on
His lips and therefore you were together
Again and the land closed protectively and fully over you…

The men of Ulster grieved and wailed aloud and from the grave
Grew two straight, slender yew trees, the branches entwined
Around each other, like a pair of lovers, making an arch
Above your burial site and the pillar~!

In blind rage, the king bellowed the order to unearth
The grave and to drive stakes between you, you
And your husband, all to keep you apart even
In death, so blind in his vengeful fury…!

Fed up with Conchobhar, the Druid Cathbad
Reproached the king, “Stop your senseless persecution
Of the dead!” He had already cursed
The lineage of the king. In disgrace, the king obeyed.

Stolen away from your family as an infant,
Raised in a secrecy so lonesome
To be married to a king who cared not
About the dire prophecy on your head so innocent…

As a little daughter, you lost contact with your family,
As a young mother, you lost contact with your children,
As a young wife, you lost your husband and his brothers,
And all because of the lecherous, corrupt old king…

A king took you from your family, obsessed
With a beauty that he wanted to possess in greed,
He gave you no choice in a situation that
Was beyond your control, you were but one young woman…

Did you want a destiny that was placed on you at your birth…?
Rest, for you and Naoise are together forever…

 

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