Hello, everyone! I’ve gone through Scottish history, products, and fairytales, but now I want to talk about Ireland. Andrea Collins, creator of the new subscription box Simply Ireland will lend a hand as well, seeing as no one can know the country better than a woman who lives there.
Ireland is a country rich with traditions, history, and folklore that I’d like to explore a bit. From tiny, stone pubs to rolling, green hills, we’ll be spending the next few weeks going over important holidays, customs, people, castles, events, and more!
First up is romantic stories from the Emerald Isle…but not all have happy endings.
Niamh the Golden-Headed was the daughter of the king of Tír Na NÓg, also known as “The Land of the Young,” which was the Celtic Otherworld. One day she rode a white horse to Ireland, where she encountered a band of warriors, one being famed fighter Oisín.
The pair fell in love and she offered to take him with her to the Otherworld. On the way, he saved a maiden from a giant and his skills were so great, Niamh’s parents allowed the pair to marry.
Over the next three hundred years, which only felt like three years to Oisín, they had three children and were very happy. But he was homesick and wanted to see his people and father. Reluctantly, Niamh said he could visit, but could never touch the ground. If he did, they would ever see each other again.
Once in Ireland, Oisín searched for all he knew, but they were long gone. When he saw a group of men trying to move a large stone, he forgot Niamh’s warning and jumped from the horse. As soon as he touched the ground, he withered into an old man.
He was brought to Saint Patrick to be baptized, but refused on his deathbed. If he went to Christian heaven, he would never see his loved ones again. And so he died, reuniting at last with his father and never seeing Niamh again.
Deirdre’s great beauty was prophesied before she was born, and it was said blood would spill over her and great warriors would leave the kingdom of Ulster. Because of this, many called for her to be killed at birth. But King Conchobar was already excited at the thought of a legendary beauty as his wife and spirited her away to live in the woods with a wise woman until she was old enough to marry.
Years later, Deirdre told the wise woman she dreamed of her husband, a young man with black hair and white skin. The wise woman knew she had dreamt of the famed warrior Naoise and concocted a plan for them to meet. And when they met, they fell in love at once and fled to Scotland with his brothers.
Conchobar heard his best warriors left Ireland with his bride and sent spies after them to see if Deirdre lost her beauty. When he finally heard she was still radiant, he went to collect her with a troop of warriors. Naoise was killed by a man called Èogan and Conchobar took Deirdre as his wife.
After a year of unhappy marriage, Conchobar was angry his wife still despised him for killing her love. He asked her who she hated more than him and she responded with Èogan. So Conchobar took Deirdre to marry him instead. Refusing to live as a captive any longer, Deirdre threw herself from the chariot and died. She was finally buried beside Naoise and a pair of trees grew from their graves, reuniting them at last.
An ancient king called Midir lived with his wife Faumnach for many years. They were a fine match and both were very happy until Midir went on a journey to visit his foster son Aengus, and saw a beautiful young woman beside a well. She said her name was Étaín and the pair fell in love.
For a year and a day they lived as husband and wife at Aengus’s house until Midir decided it was time to return home. He took Étaín with him and Faumnach was furious. She cast a spell to turn Étaín into a pool of water. When the pool dried up, she transformed into a butterfly. Midir knew Étaín at once by her scent and the music that played when she flew and the pair were again together.
Angered, Faumnach conjured a storm that blew the butterfly Étaín away. But Étaín ended up at the home of Aengus, who also recognized her and kept her safe from the magic storm. All was well until Ètaín tried to return to Midir. She fell into Faumnach’s cup, and the woman unknowingly swallowed the butterfly.
Étaín was reborn as Faumnach’s child and went on to marry a great king. Midir never forgot his true love, and in his immortal form, he disguised himself and found her. But Étaín didn’t remember him and stated she was a married woman, but if her husband gave his blessing, she would go with him.
Midir challenged her husband to a game of chess, and when he won, he asked for a kiss from Étaín as a reward. When they kissed, Étaín remembered her past life and her love for Midir. They transformed into swans and flew away.
The beautiful Clíodhna lived in the Otherworld and was queen of the banshees. One day she met the mortal, Irish prince Ciabhán and fell deeply in love with him. When she had to return home, he stole a boat to follow her across the water. He was saved by drowning by the sea god Mannannán and was finally reunited with Clíodhna.
They lived in happiness for many years until Mannannán’s wife warned the couple that the sea god was annoyed by their presence. Clíodhna couldn’t bear to be parted from Ciabhán, and decided to give up her immortality to be with him.
They stole Mannannán’s magic boat for the journey, which angered the god further. When Ciabhán went ashore in Ireland to hunt, Clíodhna fell asleep and the sea god sent a wave to punish her. She was swept away and drowned.
Princess Graínne is horrified to be betrothed to the elderly, twice widowed, King Fionn. When she sees one of his young warriors, Diarmuid, she knows she can’t go through with the wedding. She slips a sleeping potion to all the wedding guests and implores Diarmuid to run away with her. At first he refuses, but soon agrees to elope.
The couple are soon followed by Fionn’s men, but evade them for many years. But one day they came across a boar and Diarmuid fought it, despite the prophesy that a boar would be the only thing that could kill him.
Diarmuid is fatally gored just as Fionn and his men catch up to them. Fionn could save him by having him drink water from his hands. He lets the water slip through his fingers twice until his son Oisín forces him to save Diarmuid. But it’s too late. The pair will never be together again.
I hope you enjoyed the first installment of our Touch of Ireland posts! Check back soon for posts on the difficult political history, the wonderful ruins, and other highlights.
On to the Simply Ireland Subscription Box. Creator Andrea Collins wanted to build a box that truly captured her country. For months, she’s been carefully curating the best products, such as jewelry from the famous Tipperary Crystal, handmade soaps from Soap Out Loud, and organic lotions from the Dublin Herbalists.
Every season, you could have your own taste of Ireland. While the official website is still under construction, you can still get your piece of Ireland.
- To speak with Collins directly about placing your order, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit her Facebook page HERE
- Visit her Instagram page HERE