The Irish Legend of Deirdre of The Sorrows

The Irish Legend of Deirdre of the SorrowsDeirdre of the Sorrows

In the Irish legend "Deirdre of the Sorrows", we learn about the most famous legend of an Irish woman. Deirdre, or in Gaelic, Deirdrui, was the daughter of Fedlimid mac Daill, a clan chieftain from Ulster. Prior to her birth, Cathbad the Druid foretold her future. He said that she would be the most beautiful woman in Ireland, with golden tresses and lovely green eyes. Because of this, she would be marked for certain death and ruin would befall the land.

Conchobar mac Nessa, King of Ulster, decided that she would become his wife when she became of age. He took her from her family and held her in seclusion at the home of Leabharcham, a wise old woman who raised her. Despite the best attempts of Leabharcham to influence Conchobar not to marry her, he was more determined than ever. However, prior to her wedding to Conchobar, Deirdre met a young warrior called Naoise and fell in love with him. Deidre, Naoise and his two brothers, Ainle and Ardan, all the sons of Uisnech, fled to Alba (Scotland). For several years, they were happily married and had a daughter, Aigrene. No matter where they went, the local King insisted on having her as his wife and tried to have Naoise and his brothers killed. After fleeing to a remote island, they felt safe until Conchobar eventually tracked them down.

Conchobar lied that he had forgiven Naoise and Deirdre and sent Fergus mac Róich, an honorable warrior, to invite them to come back to Ulster and to guarantee them safe passage. Fergus was detained on the return journey and sent them off to Emain Macha with his son to protect them. After they arrived, Conchobar sent Leabharcham as a spy, to see if Deirdre had lost her beauty in her many years away. Leabharcham, to protect Dierdre from a marriage to Conchobar, lied to him, telling him that Deirdre had lost all of her beauty. However, Conchobar sent another spy named Trendhorn, who told him that Deirdre was as beautiful as ever.

Upon arriving at Conchobar's court, Deirdre became aware of his trickery. She saw the King's bitterness and knew that he was planning his revenge against Naoise. Fergus, their protector, had to leave Naoise and Deirdre and, as he went on his way, Conchobar ordered his warriors to attack. Naoise and his brothers were killed by Éogan mac Durthachtand, and Deirdre was forced to marry Conchobar. Fergus was angered so by Conchobar's deceit that he exiled himself to Connacht, where he fought against Ulster in the Cattle Raid of Cooley.

Frustrated by Deirdre's hatred toward him, Conchobar offered her to Éogan mac Durthacht, the man who had murdered Naoise, to do with her as he wished. To prevent her escape, he tied her hands and placed her in his chariot. During the long journey, Deirdre managed to throw herself from the chariot and was killed. (In some versions of the story, she died of grief.)

It is told that, from Deirdre's grave, a pine tree grew and, from Naoise's grave, grew another. The two trees met and became so intertwined that nothing could ever part them again.

Deirdre of the Sorrows (Kindle Edition)

Deirdre of the Sorrows (Kindle Edition)
A three-act play written by Irish playwright J. M. Synge
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