The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne – a retelling

Everybody knows what a great warrior king Fionn MacCumhaill was and if they don’t they should find out but not from me today they won’t!

I’m going to tell you how like many a man he got a bit cantankerous and stubborn as he aged and being a King, for perhaps too long, his pride caused heartache and mayhem to all and to two young lovers in particular. No one should remain in power too long, if you remember nothing from this story, remember that. 

The story goes that old Fionn lost his wife Maigneis and the grief he had was so great that his aging band of Fianna thought they better do something about it and rather than listening to him or telling him to cry and let it all out these old men came up with the bright idea of replacing the love of his life with a young girl called Gráinne.

Of course that wasn’t going to end well he being ancient and she being young but that was their solution.  

Gráinne was the daughter of High King Cormac mac Airt and a worthy match in all the men’s eyes but not in Gráinne’s.

At their betrothal feast which went on for days and nights as was the custom Gráinne noticed the handsome warrior Diarmuid whose “lovespot” in the middle of his forehead made him irresistible to all.

Gráinne was trained in the art of magic and potions so when she got the chance she slipped a sleeping potion in the drinks of all but Diarmuid and tried to get him to run away with her.

Now Diarmaid was a loyal warrior of the Fianna and loved Fionn so he refused at first but she was oh so beautiful and a little bit scary, she threatened him with a geis (a curse) which all at that time were wary of and so he went and they hid in a forest across the River Shannon.

When the men all woke up with a pain in their heads and a grumpiness no one could endure Fionn noticed the pair were missing and he immediately made everyone get up and out and pursue the runaways all over Ireland.

We know they went all over because there are many a Dolmen on this fair land named Leaba Diarmaid agus Gráinne (the bed of Diarmaid and Gráinne).

Indeed there is one over the road in Aughnacliffe, Co. Longford, near Leebeen Lough, a mighty fine one you should visit it. Some say it’s a portal to the Otherworld

There is a rock now called “Granny’s Rock” out the Tromra Road 500 metres from Knights and Conquest Heritage Centre, Granard town, that is another Leaba Diarmaid agus Gráinne.

So, Diarmaid and Gráinne moved around Ireland with Fionn following. They were helped by many because all knew Fionn would not be kind if he found them and everyone loved Diarmaid, must be the spot in the middle of the forehead.

Even some of the Fianna helped and also Aengus Óg, who we met in an earlier tale (Midir and Etain). Aengus Óg wasn’t too Óg at this stage but a name sticks. He had been Diarmuid’s foster father, and loved the lad and being the God of Love, loved Gráinne too. 

Aengus hid Gráinne in his cloak of invisibility while Diarmuid lept over the pursuers’ heads so they say.

At first Diarmuid refused to be with Gráinne out of respect for Fionn and kept telling her he would be taking her back to marry Fionn and she teased him for that but he eventually  fell in love with her and they were together a long long time hiding on Fionn, they even crossed over to Scotland a while.

After a time Gráinne found out she was having a child and had a craving for rowan berries from the magic Rowan tree guarded by the one eyed giant Searbhán;  Searbhán was friendly at first but he got angry and refused to give up the berries so Diarmuid fought him. Searbhán’s magic protected him from Diarmuid’s weapons, but Diarmuid eventually won by turning the giant’s own iron club against him.

After many other adventures, Diarmuid’s foster father Aengus negotiated peace with Fionn and the lovers settled in Keshcorran, County Sligo where they had five children. Fionn married Gráinne’s sister and all was forgiven. I’m not sure how the sister felt as no one tells her story and what happened next makes you wonder did Fionn really ever forgive.

One day Fionn organised a boar hunt near Benbulbin and Diarmuid joined in even though when he was a little boy a geis was put on him that he would be killed by a boar. He may have been lovely but he was certainly foolish.

The boar wounded him fatally and the only one who could heal him was Fionn. Fionn had the power to heal by letting the dying man drink water from his hands, but he let the water slip through his fingers twice. Oscar, Fionn’s grandson threatened Fionn so he went to the well again but when he returned it was too late, poor Diarmuid was dead.

There are different stories about Gráinne after Diarmaid has died, we like to think Aengus took Diarmuid’s body to his home at Brú na Bóinne and while some say Gráinne grieved until she died, others say that she made her children swear revenge on Fionn and a more peaceful end says she married Fionn eventually and there was peace between the clans.

AGS 2018

I couldn’t decide on Diarmaid or Diarmuid so you must put up with both.

Sleeping Beauty and Climate Change

(Image : Sweet Dreams by Mary Smyth Art, https://www.facebook.com/marysmythlongford/, https://www.behance.net/marysmyth )

What if….. everyone has interpreted Sleeping Beauty wrong and it was about climate change all along? Hear me out, this came on a walk on Brí Leith so it must be true.😂 Midir! 🤔😂

What if Sleeping Beauty walking towards the spinning wheel pricking her finger is all of us sleepwalking into climate change?

What if Maleficent is Capitalism wooing us towards our demise? We know it is wrong, we all do but we want the shiny thing, we believe the lies, we are mesmerised, we are under the spell of sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy, take, take, take, profit, profit, profit and it is so strong we can’t fight it.

What if the fairies who change the spell to 100 years sleep instead of death are representatives of nature trying to save the planet? Flora, Fauna and Merryweather….. ahem!

What if 100 years is all it will take to correct the wrongs we did and save the planet and all we need to do is go to sleep… as in “stop”, just “stop”? Stop over farming and let the land rewild, stop over fishing and give the ocean a rest, stop over producing and produce and buy local in small communities, stop over travelling and stay where we are or go in a slower, more environmentally stable manner, stop exploiting nature and people and be a community that cooperates instead of competes. This paragraph could keep going but my train of thought is racing by and I need to catch the next carriage.

What if the briars were a reminder to let Nature do the work and just stay away from her while she does it because you’ll get hurt or maybe dead so just let her enclose you and keep you safe and warm while you “stop”?

Briars regenerate the land.

What if when the 100 years are up we will be fine as long as we all sleep (“stop”) and as long as the right way of being gets through the briars to wake us up and work with us to create a better world for us and our people?

What if they knew this? The Grimm Brothers, in the middle of the century of the industrial revolution and they thought about it and didn’t want others to figure it out…. just yet… so they twisted the tale to make it about women and men and oh dear me, here we go on another century of Patriarchy and more intense Capitalism.

What if they knew? Walt Disney, at the beginning of the age of cinema and wrong messages and people falling asleep in front of a screen, lapping it up as “Gospel”, “The American Dream”, “the innocent child”, ” the evil witch”. There’s only two types of women right? Innocent and waiting to be rescued and led or evil bitches tearing the innocent one to shreds. Nothing to see here, carry on buying and selling and taking and raping the world and her people. Look, there’s a shiny thing! Ignore the message that was just “Stop!”

What if they knew? The 1%, bankers and capitalists all, those who tore at the land that was never theirs and plundered her essence, those that murdered her people with war, famine, slavery, every brutality they could think of because they knew and didn’t care and just keep wanting more for themselves.

What if they know it takes 100 years for her to recover and they’re setting their own up to be on top again to start the ball rolling again while we all walk mesmerised to prick our finger on the spinning wheel and sleep? What if the race to space was just a distraction to stop us looking over there at the real rulers in the banks?

What if all of them are going to be ready to sit it out on the land they are grabbing? They are grabbing more than enough to sustain them and theirs, on their islands they purchased. They will slow down behind their walls of briar and wait for the rest of the planet to recover and instead of saving us all, the people, they’re leaving us outside the walls of their kitchen gardens and hunting grounds to die of famine and war and whatever horrors are to come.

Are we going to be left outside the wall or do we tear it down and create a better way before it is too late? We do know there is only a small kingdom of the few behind the wall right? They’ve no intention of letting us by their dragon no matter how successful we think we are in this imaginary world we live in.

This happened before, it will happen again. Empires fall, leave destruction behind, small groups of people survive and others who have been planning all along for the next “pyramid” scheme begin more brutal than before, each time grabbing more, in the end it is a pyramid scheme within a pyramid scheme within a pyramid scheme and the percentage at the top gets smaller and smaller until eventually it will be one who most likely will declare themselves a god and off we go again… as I did on another train of thought…. for another day, let’s dismantle Cinderella next..

The message Nature is giving is clear to me and to many, we need to stop and let her breathe, give her time without us “doing”, and she will be alright but it is up to us whether we will be. If we don’t stop, she’ll take us down and make us stop, virus, plague, not so merry weather, diseases in the flora and fauna we need to survive. It doesn’t matter, it will happen. This planet needs to live and if we continue to destroy we will be destroyed in the end so just “Stop”.

This is what happens when you walk on Brí Leith with family and the forest trys to take you and yours. 🤔😉 Midir destroys the fairytale on you. ❤💚🌹🦋

When will it all stop?

My baby girl cried herself to sleep last night. I held her as she spoke of all her fears and her observations of the the world we live in.

She sobbed as she talked of how we are killing each other and the world and kept asking

“What is wrong with us?”

She talked of how we hurt each other, animals, the rivers land and sea, the very air we breathe, the little babies dying, she talked of all the hunger in the greed.

“When will it all stop?”

“Will it only end when humans have destroyed everything and everyone? The world must hate us so much. We hurt her so much. She is in so much pain. It hurts so much.”

Her sob hurt me.

“This is why God doesn’t answer any prayers anymore, because we are just horrible.”

I held her tighter.

I let her download all her fears, her thoughts onto my shoulder which is already aching from the weight of all my other babies’ fears and mine.

She spoke and sobbed for over half an hour of her short 9 year old life. She spoke of all the horrors of the world that I didn’t even know she knew about.

I whispered to her of the things we must be grateful for. I talked of flowers and the chicks, our demon cat and loyal dog who snored at our feet. Our family, the sun, the moon, the stars, the perfume of our roses, the tiny things living in the garden, ice-cream, stories of leprechauns and fairies.

“I want to meet a fairy. We probably killed them too along with unicorns and dragons. We probably killed them all. Why can’t our leprechaun do something? He wants to do good, he sees it all too, but his hands are tied, they don’t let him, they won’t let him do the good he wants to do!”

I didn’t know who she spoke of and then I realised she meant our president. “Don’t call him that, that’s not nice he wouldn’t like that.”

“How do you know? He really is a Leprechaun, he’s where he is to do something about it. He really wants to help, but his hands are tiny” She looked down at her own.

I let that be. She needs some magic, we all do and if thinking he’s a Leprechaun who might do something with his tiny hands then…I let it be.

I told her there are so many good people in the world, that the good outweigh the bad, there are more of us, all the while wondering was I right…

Today I saw a tweet about babies washed up on the beach because their families were trying to get them out of the hell they were living in and bring them somewhere safe but the somewhere safe didn’t want them so the babies drowned and I don’t think I was right…

Why did that not stop the last time we saw a baby washed up on the beach? Was the image of him in his red and blue not enough?

Why are there more?

“What is wrong with us?”

I think my baby girl who sobbed herself to sleep is right and I don’t know how to make it better. My heart is broken.

“When will it all stop?” 💔