Naoise and Deirdre

Naoise and Deirdre

Their story is encompassed in the Ossian Tales and memorialised in locations across the parish.
as of June 2018 there is now a wonderful landscape installation celebrating their story of love up in the hills above Taynuilt, in amongst the wind turbines.
Photos from 24 June opening weekend - this is a facebook album
the story behind the installation new (autumn 2018) website for Deirdre and Naoise

"The Glenmasan Manuscript contains one of the most complete written accounts of the Deirdre and Naoise story. And inspired a Concerto :
Keep a close eye on The Sheiling Website for more on this wonderful story.

Naoise <an over simplified pronunciation is Nee sha>

  • hunter, singer and warrior of the court of his uncle King Conchobar mac Nessa of Ulster.
  • brothers were Ardan and Ainnle
  • they came from the area of Ireland known as The Hill of Uisneach or Ushnagh and hence the area they are associated with here in Benderloch is known as Dun mac Uisneachan

(Irish: Uisneach or Cnoc Uisnigh) is an ancient ceremonial site in the barony of Rathconrath in County Westmeath, Ireland (National Monument Number 155). While it is not the exact geographical centre of Ireland, in Irish mythology it is often considered to be the symbolic center of the land, and is associated with the fire festival of Bealtaine. The hill is 182 metres (597 ft) tall and lies on the north side of the R390 road, 8 km east of the village of Ballymore and beside the village of Loughanavally. The Hill of Uisneach occupies parts of four adjacent townlands: Ushnagh Hill, Mweelra, Rathnew, and Kellybrook.1
The site consists of a set of monuments and earthworks spread over two square kilometres.

Deirdre (Derdriu)(Darthula)2


(also inspired the name of the ferries who plied Loch Etive servicing the communities on the lochside and into Glen Etive, as well as the thousands of tourists : **Darthula**
The daughter of the royal storyteller Fedlimid mac Daill, and before she was born, it was prophesized she would grow up to be very beautiful, and that kings and lords would go to war over her, and so it happened.
According to the Táin Bó Cúailnge (legendary tale from early Irish literature set in the First Century>, Cathbad the druid descrbed her as becoming "a woman with twisted yellow tresses, green-irised eyes of great beauty and cheeks flushed like the foxglove,"
In Ireland she is renowned as a most important tragic heroine of Irish legend, She is known by the epithet "Deirdre of the Sorrows" (Irish: Deirdre an Bhróin). Her story is part of the Ulster Cycle, the best-known stories of pre-Christian Ireland.3

The Song of Deirdre in English and Gaelic

King Conchobar had raised her away from all others in order to marry her himself when she was old enough, but she met Naoise and they eloped together.

The King was furious and tried to murder Naoise, and wars were fought whereever they went.
Eventually together with Ardan and Ainnle, Naoise's brothers, they fled Ireland and came across the water and made their home here at Dun mac Uisneachan in Ardchattan.
They had a time of plenty, peace, hunting, and living well but the King found out and tricked them into returning to Ireland, where he succeeded in killing Naoise, and Deirdre also died, whether of a broken heart or smashing her head on a rock out of a carriage, depending on the version of the story.


Book : Deirdre and the Sons of Uisneach and separately -
direct link to 4Mb pdf file

A THOUSAND YEARS OF STAR-EYED DEIRDRE In this post, Kate Mathis explores the significant achievement of Louey Chisholm’s *Celtic Tales Told To the Children* (1910) — a portrait of Deirdre which preserves some of the intricacy, danger, and violence of a thousand-year-old Gaelic tale…

Sketch for Deirdire by John Duncan (c.1905)


James Macpherson’s poem Darthula (etymologized as “a woman with fine eyes”), was published in 1765

1905 Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912), renowned folk lore and story collector published : Deirdire and the Lay of the Children of Uisne, as a the result of nearly forty years’ interest, this version was taken down originally in 1867 from the recitation of John Macneill, an 83-year-old cottar from Barra.

Loch Etive: That Time
Alec Finlay, 2010

We'd swithered about Gassan all Spring. If we'd known earlier about Beregonium - Barr nan Gobhar, Ridge of the Armourers - that would have been pair for the ancient Smith-cult founded by Tamaomaru, Kenkya and his son Gassan. Then there ws a provisional plan to send s climbing-poet or poet-goat up Beinn Mheadhoin, to bivvy under the Shelter Stone and cross the stepping stones. But that mountains beyond another mountain, Ben Macdui, and although Basho climbed to the snow patches almost as far as the gates to the clouds, we opted in the end for craft. We couldn't resist the invitation to stay with Annie Briggs, at Kilmiddlefern, and that brought us close to dreich Bonawe.
But Etive caught our imagination and we looked at her both ways along the loch. Station 37 Collages Loch Etiveside (August) and Glen Etive (September), this time and that, tracking the Deirdre myth inland from Benderloch/Beregonium, deep into the mountains, compassing the the crown of Ben Cruachan W-E, looking for the places she and the three sons of Uisneach, Naoise chief among them, enjoyed their chaste picnics, 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 Aird's Point.
(W.H. Murray)
Sora's hokku (1)
Alec Finlay

Cruachan, the name of our mountain that overlooks us all, is a complex of archaeological sites near Tulsk in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is identified as the site of Cruachan, the traditional capital of the Connachta, a term used to describe the prehistoric and early historic rulers of the western territory. These monuments range from the Neolithic (4000 - 2500 BC), through the Bronze (2500 - 500 BC) and Iron Age (500 BC - 400 AD), to the early medieval period and beyond.4

There are very many places that reference the time the lovers spent in our area .. can you contribute to the list
Dun MhicUisneachan
Dun Mac Uisneachan (Fort of the sons of Uisneach)- has a fascinating provenance. It stands on the mound between Dun na Mara and Port Selma and features in both recorded history and legend. The site was constructed over many centuries beginning in the Iron Age.
Camas Nathais
rounded bay of Naoise (Deirdre’s lover) or bay of good growth (Camus an fhàis) ( 2 p. 67 )
a very old settlement, possibly deriving from cadail lios the garden or orchard where Deirdre’s bower was reputed to be.
Camas na Cùirte
Bay of the court or palace -again, a possible reference to the legend of Deirdre.
An Grianan
the sunny place, possibly connected with the legend of Deirdre of the Sorrows who was said to have a ‘sunny bower’ in Glen Etive.
Aird an Eilean
height above the island (Eilean Uisneachan—a reference to the legend of Deirdre and the sons of Uisneach)

And links referring to Naoise and Deirdre The Story of Naoise & Deirdre

Glenmasan manuscript (MacIntyre
The Glenmasan manuscript is a 15th-century Scottish vellum manuscript in the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, where it is catalogued as Adv. MS 72.2.3. It was previously held in the Advocates Library, Edinburgh, where it was classified as MS 53. The compilation contains Scottish Gaelic literary texts dealing with matter of the Ulster Cycle, such as the Táin Bó Flidhais and Oided mac nUisnig (the latter a version of Longes mac n-Uislenn).
The manuscript takes its name from an entry on the front leaf, which appears to state that the original compilation was completed at Glenmasan in 1238. This document as translated contains a poetical account of Deidre’s life in Argyll, with a specific reference to Glendaruel;

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

songs .. Deirdre and Naoise have inspired celtic musicians


Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna - A Celtic Tale: The Legend Of Deirdre (1996)

Written and recorded by brothers Mychael & Jeff Danna between their other scoring projects, A Celtic Tale is the soundtrack to an imaginary film of the Irish legend of Deirdre. Both the album and the legend reflect many aspects of love and sorrow. The Danna brothers mix Celtic folk, symphonic, and ambient music into a distinctive and fitting setting for Deirdre's star-crossed story. Though she is betrothed to a king, Deirdre finds her true love; she and her lover are exiled. When they try to return to their land, Deirdre's lover is killed, and she is imprisoned by the king she was to marry. Love and war blend in Deirdre's story; similarly, the music combines authentic Celtic instruments such as fiddle, tin whistle, flute, uilleann and highland pipes, and wire-strung harp with orchestral power and electronic atmospherics. Both listenable and powerful, A Celtic Tale showcases the Dannas' skill for creating emotionally accessible, technically beautiful music.

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