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"Where Words Grow On Trees"

The Legend of Tír na nÓg by Niamh Clune

Niamh Chinn Óir mounted her white stallion to ride the warm, west wind. Her golden hair, wild and free as horse’s mane danced in gay abandon. This journey, fit for none other than she of the faery folk had not been made for centuries. Leaving Tír na nÓg far behind, she crossed the perilous ocean.

What lover’s call had summoned her?

What sweet voice carried on sea mist had entered her slumber? She would know his name.

Oisín, son of Fionn mac Cumhaill sat on a rock gazing over the crashing sea. The young warrior bard paused from his labour, disturbed as he was by unquenched longing. His father, fierce and wise chieftain of the Fianna had conquered the Scottish giant Cú Chulainn. Oisin was tasked to write the victory for posterity making it known to all those who were destined to belong to the future.

A wind stirred his hair, just a whisper that carried sweet, unfathomable promise. He was lifted up into the air, dazzled by golden streams of sunlight. When his vision cleared, he looked upon the face of Niamh and knew the one for whom he had longed.

She carried him across the sea to Tír na nÓg ~ land of Eternal Youth. The journey was the passing of a second. No mortal had ever crossed the perilous ocean to the edge of time, to the furthest, western-most reaches of the world where faery and mortal knew no distance or fear between them.

She was his arbour; him, the conqueror of all he surveyed ~ prince of timelessness.

But mortality is ruled by time. And soon the restless spirit summoned him to his father’s purpose. In his deepest heart he was of the blood-line race of Fianna and must return to Ireland to attend his kin.

Niamh warned him of succumbing to his mortal destiny. “If you set foot on Irish soil, it will be your end.” Echoes of her warning called after him on the high-pitched voice of the ill wind that carried him home.

Oisín was shocked at how his land and people had changed. He was a giant among men. Fields were cleared, forests cut down. Hunting had given way to farming.   He sighted a group of workers as they struggled to lift a boulder and clear a new tillage. The boulder was of no consequence to Oisín. He leant from his horse to toss it aside. As he did so, his stirrup broke and he fell to the ground. Ageing in an instant, the three hundred years that had passed claimed him and returned him to the soil from whence he had come

In Oisín’s passing, contact with faery was lost forever. Niamh came no more to the Emerald Isle. Although I hear it told that her name lives still in some of Erin’s daughters.


10 comments on “The Legend of Tír na nÓg by Niamh Clune

  1. Roisin Penzer
    August 3, 2012

    Wow, amazing reading. I really enjoyed this sooooo much, beautifully told, a work of art indeed.

    Like

  2. the secret keeper
    August 12, 2012

    His fate was so sad even though he had immortality with Niamh. In order to help his people he was called back by his desire of home land but with the warning if he touched the soil of Ireland he would sacrifice his immortality, his life and the love of Niamh. How monumental a story and so beautiful. Such devotion to all that he loved. But Niamh lost her love in such an unexpected instant from a broken stirrup. On such a call out from fate, the ground claimed him and took him back but all others lost him forever. You have inside you Niamh the beauty of the language. Encapsilated into this story you spoke of so much love, immortality, fate, happiness, sadness and pain. How profound you are in your talent and creative ability to tell such a touching story. I loved it. It touched me deeply. And had such a profound effect on me. Jennifer

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      August 12, 2012

      Thank You, Jennifer. My little story is tucked away, out of sight. I just had to tell it, as I feel so deeply connected to the name.

      Like

  3. Steve Corn
    November 3, 2012

    The Hero. So many faces. A good take within an amazingly short story, well told.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      November 3, 2012

      Many thanks! Indeed, The archetype of Hero runs through all our mythology with cultural differences that are usually quite telling.

      Like

  4. connellykevin
    April 25, 2013

    Speaking of names, I am father to Caitríona, Aoife and Eimear and stepfather to Niamh, there has been a wonderful resurgence of ancient Gaelic names here in Ireland this last generation or so. PS In my home town of KIlkenny the surnames Clune/Clyn and Cluny are still known. As far back as the 1300’s a Friar Clyn/Clune/Cluny chronicled the Black Death in the local Franciscan Abbey until his last entry read “I leave ink and parchment lest any of the race of Adam survive to continue this work…”
    Hope this is of interest to you! Regards, Kevin

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      April 25, 2013

      Certainly is…Thank you for your visit. We are Clare Clunes. And when I was named Niamh, I was the first of the time, as it was considered by The Church to be a pagan name. We had to have a special dispensation from the bishop!

      Like

  5. Jamie Dedes
    November 1, 2013

    A lovely fancy, Niamh, and equally lovely photographs. Brava! Enjoyed … and indeed “her name still lives among some of Erin’s daughters.” :-)

    Like

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