All this from John Jacobs, collector of Celtic Fairy Tales (1892), illustrated by John D. Batten and written for the schoolroom.  According to Jacobs, this is the earliest fairy tale of modern Europe, told about the eldest son of the Irish King Conn, the hundred-fighter (123-157 A.D.).  Story on pp. 1-5; notes 263-266.  It starts here:

Connla of the Fiery Hair was son of Conn of the Hundred Fights.  One day as he stood by the side of his father on the height of Usna, he saw a maiden clad in strange attire toward him coming.

“Whence comest thou, maiden?” said Connla.

“I come from the Plains of the Ever Living,” she said, “there where is neither death nor sin.  There we keep holiday alway, nor need we help from any in our joy.  And in all our pleasure we have no strife.  And because we have our homes in the round green hills, men call us the Hill Folk.”

The king and all with him wondered much to hear a voice when they saw no one.  For save Connla alone, none saw the Fairy Maiden.

Coran the Druid was called to silence the Maiden, but she returned after a month:

Frontispiece by Batten“Tis hard upon me,” said Connla; “I love my own folk above all things; but yet a longing seizes me for the maiden.”

When the maiden heard this, she answered and said: “The ocean is not so strong as the waves of thy longing.  Come with me in my curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe.  Soon can we reach Baodag’s realm.  I see the bright sun sink, yet far as it is, we can reach it before dark.  There is, too, another land worthy of thy journey, a land joyous to all that seek it.  . . . If thou wilt, we can seek it and live there alone together in joy.”

When the maiden ceased to speak, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed away from his kinsmen and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe.  And then they all, king and court, saw it glide away over the bright sea towards the setting sun, away, and away, till eye could see it no longer.  So Connla and the Fairy Maiden went forth on the sea, and were no more seen, nor did any know whither they came.

This myth always makes me think about parents whose children do not share their  dreams.  Tir na n-og represents destiny to me: sometimes something as tragic as heroin addiction, or something that leads to adventure and accomplishment.  The sadness and loss in this story belong to the parent, who must eventually let go.

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