Deirdre And Naoise

W. H. Murray, A Companion Guide to the West Highlands of Scotland, 1968
Deirdre, daughter to the King of the Picts, and her youth here on Loch Etiveside, where she’s said to be buried.

‘She spent her girlhood at Loch Etive in the company of three fine lads of her own age, the sons of Uisneach. Her closest friend of these three was Naoise, but their association was a boy-and-girl idyll—all three of the lads loving her deeply and she them. Brought up as they were under the strict supervision given to a daughter of the Pictish royal house, there was no question of love-making in the full sense. The boys hunted for sport and food, bringing to Deirdre the flesh of deer, fish, and badger; they would picnic by the side of Deirdre's waterfall in Glen Etive, or in her House of the Sun (Tigh Grianach), or in Naoise's wood the Coille Naoise in the bay between Achnacloich and Airds Point.

After ten happy years spent by the young folk in the land of the Gruithnigh, the day came when Conchobar’s men arrived to claim the princess. The pain of parting was more than Deirdre would endure. She refused to leave without her three friends, and Conchobar's headman had finally to pledge the word of his king to a safe conduct for the sons of Uisneach. On the seaway to Ireland, Deirdre composed and sang her lovely song of seven or eight verses, her Farewell to Alban. It has survived through the centuries for one reason—its most powerful expression of a universal experience, sorrow on leaving a homeland. Deirdre could not in the end give up her love of the three youths to marry Conchobar. The furious king had the brothers killed, and not long afterwards Deirdre died of a broken heart. The Druids of Ulster granted her dying wish: they opened the grave of the three brothers and laid her to rest beside them. Dun MhicUisneachan, the Fort of the Sons of Uisneach, is sited at Ledaig on the Benderloch shore of outer Loch Etive.’

W. H. Murray, A Companion Guide to the West Highlands of Scotland, 1968


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