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  • ("Only the dead can be forgiven." - William Butler Yeats, "The Winding Stair")

  • Gráinne, daughter of king Cormac mac Airt, princess of Tara, and bride-to-be, was furious.

  • Fionn Mac Cumhail, leader of the Fianna, Ireland's most celebrated band of warriors, had just arrived at her castle.

  • Gráinne had believed she was betrothed to a young soldier, bold and brilliant enough to be her equal.

  • Yet, upon their arrival, it became clear she was expected to marry Fionn himself, who, while once a legend, was far past his prime.

  • Gráinne would not suffer this insult.

  • Before the wedding, the King held a great banquet.

  • As the warriors told tales of Fionn's strength and magical healing hands, Gráinne waited to enact her revenge.

  • But while scanning the room, her eyes locked on to one of the guests.

  • Diarmuid, one of Fionn's bravest soldiers and foster child of the God of Love himself, was renowned for his stunning beauty.

  • Perhaps this was the bold warrior the princess had imagined.

  • Only one way to find out.

  • Gráinne swept into action, slipping a sleeping draught into the partygoers' goblets.

  • Soon, the hall fell silent, save for two unenchanted guests.

  • The pair immediately felt a powerful connection, but Diarmuid hesitated.

  • He'd never put his interests before the Fiannas'.

  • Seeing Diarmuid waver between duty and desire, Gráinne took the decision out of his hands.

  • With a light kiss, she placed a geis on his brow, an ancient spell that bound them together, for better or worse.

  • As the pair escaped, Diarmuid's heart was racing.

  • Had he really betrayed Fionn for a woman he'd just met?

  • To answer his son's questions, Aengus Óg appeared beside them.

  • The God of Love blessed their union and eased his son's concern.

  • But he also warned that endless difficulties lay ahead.

  • At the palace, Fionn awoke, full of wrath.

  • He rallied an epic war band that quickly caught up to the lovers.

  • To buy time, Diarmuid and Gráinne conjured a massive enclosure with seven doors.

  • While Gráinne escaped with Angus Óg, Diarmuid went door to door, seeking Fionn.

  • Some of the Fianna sought peaceful surrender, others itched for combat.

  • Diarmuid gave neither.

  • But when he finally heard his leader's voice calling for blood, he knew there was no turning back.

  • Launching himself over the barricade, Diarmuid leapt to Gráinne's side.

  • The chase was on.

  • The pair ventured west, where they soon encountered the giant Modan.

  • Eager to help the lovers, he guarded them at night and carried them by day.

  • And once the pair had crossed countless rivers and hills, their fear began to ease.

  • They left the forest's cover, laughing, flirting, and growing bolder each day.

  • But Fionn saw their contentment was an opportunity.

  • He enlisted three sea chiefs to capture the wandering lovers.

  • Diarmuid scared them off with mystifying sword tricks, only for Fionn to send poisonous hounds.

  • Diarmuid and Gráinne fled, yet again, into an even more tangled forest, a sight which filled the Fianna with exhaustion.

  • They implored Fionn to give up the hunt, and at this, their leader grew quiet.

  • He'd already lost a dear friend; now, it seemed his wrath had cost him the respect of his men as well.

  • Swallowing his rage, he called off the chase.

  • For years, Gráinne and Diarmuid lived in peace.

  • In time, Angus Óg even brokered an agreement between the warriors, and their conflict faded into memory.

  • But Gráinne never forgot the Love God's warning.

  • One day, Fionn invited Diarmuid on a boar hunt high in the mountains.

  • While the two were riding, a venomous boar charged them and mortally wounded Diarmuid.

  • As he bled, the old warrior begged his friend for water, as all the Fianna knew, drinking from the hands of Fionn Mac Cumhail could save their lives.

  • But as Fionn turned to aid Diarmuid, his old resentments came rushing back.

  • For just a moment, his fingers parted, letting the water trickle to the ground.

  • And by the time Fionn realized his mistake, it was too late.

  • And the embers of rage that long burned inside him were finally quenched by tears.

  • Follow Fionn's son Oisín on his journey to the Otherworld, a land where time stands still and people never age, and discover the simple mistake that doomed him forever with this myth

("Only the dead can be forgiven." - William Butler Yeats, "The Winding Stair")

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The Irish myth of Diarmuid’s betrayal - Iseult Gillespie

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    たらこ posted on 2022/04/25
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