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Crede's chair is at her right hand,
The pleasantest of the pleasant it is,
All of a blaze of Alpine gold,
At the foot of her beautiful couch.

The household which are in her house,
To the happiest conditions have they been destined:
Grey and glossy are their garments,
Twisted and fair is their flowing hair.



92 LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.

Wounded men would sink in sleep,
Though ever so heavily teeming with blood,
With the warblings of the fairy birds
From the eaves of her sunny chamber.

An hundred feet spans Crede's house
From one angle to the other;
And twenty feet are fully measured
In the breadth of its noble door.

Its portico is thatched
With wings of birds both blue and yellow ;
Its lawn in front, and its well
Of crystal and of cormogal. l

Four posts to every bed,
Of gold and silver finely carved ;
A crystal gem between every two posts
They are no cause of unpleasantness,

There is in it a vat of royal bronze,
Whence flows the pleasant juice of malt;
An apple tree stands overhead the vat
With the abundance of its weighty fruit. -

That is enough. You see it is a fancy house, and the
writer had very narrow ideas of comfort ; still he had the idea
of barbaric grandeur, and at least the comfort of soft pillows.
And now we shall go on with the story, as this is quite a
digression.

King Conor's house, I may tell you, is now only a set of
mounds near Armagh, but at the time of which I speak many
nobles were assembled there. They had music and poetry,
and pleasant histories of great deeds and tales of their
ancestry ; they had philosophers the name is shortened to
Fileas ; and they had wise and cunning Druids that were
acquainted with magic.

1 Carbuncles. Sullivan.

2 Some of the words are from Dr. Prof. Sullivan's Version.



THE SONS OF UISNACH.



93



Conor was proud of his house; and in old times people who
were great were expected to boast and show their superiority
to others in unpleasant ways. There were one thousand six
hundred and sixty-five persons belonging to the household,
and the king thought of this, and instead of allowing others
to drink his health, he raised his voice and said, " Did you
ever see a mansion better than my mansion ? " " No," they
said. " Do you know anything that it wants ? " " No," they
said. But the king thought differently, and said, " I know of
a great want which presseth, that the three renowned and
exalted youths, the three luminaries of the valour of the
Gaels that is, the three noble sons of Uisnach should be
absent from us." Every one agreed with this sentiment,
because these three nobles Naisi, Ainli, and Ardan had
defended a district and a half of Alba, 1 and their power was
lost to their own country, " for sons of a king are they who
would assert high sovereignty from the princes of Ulster"
(Uladh).

Then Conor proposed to send messengers to Loch
Etive to bring them back. He asked Conall Carnach to
go and also Cuchullin, but he did not promise good
security for the lives of the three nobles, and the two
heroes refused. Fergus MacRoy who had given Conor
the kingdom agreed to go, and he vowed to kill any
man but Conor himself that would do the Uisnachs injury,
but the pledge of the king to give them safety is not
evident.

And now it is clear that these sons of Uisnach were
men of great importance, when their return was so much
1 Now Scotland. I do not know how much a district was.



94



LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.



longed for by the whole court of Ulster, and I must tell
you why they were absent.

DEIRDRE (OR DARTHULA).

Feilim was a teller of stories ; I suppose a historian and
" filea," and he must have had a high position and been very
agreeable. He invited the king to an entertainment, and
many important men were there. Entertainments were long
in those days, and we hear of them lasting for weeks, months,
or even a year. During the time the king was there a
daughter was born to Feilim, and I suppose all the company
looked at her. We hear nothing of Feilim's wife ; she could
not have been pleased when Caffa a Druid, who was there,
said that this daughter would be the cause of much loss
and mischief to Ulster, and the nobles proposed therefore
to kill her at once. Conor objected, and said he would take
care of her and bring her up as his own wife. He sent her
into a retired lios or small fort with a nurse, and in time
a tutor and Lavarcam, who was perhaps a gossip; she is
called a speech or conversation woman, but I think it more
likely that she was a singer (cainte) at the court.

Time passed, and Deirdre was looking out on the snow ;
her tutor killed a calf, and a raven came to feed on the blood,
when the young lady said to her nurse that she would like
a husband with these three colours : the hair as black as
the raven, the cheek as red as the blood, and the skin as
white as the snow. This is quite against the opinion that
Naisi was a Milesian, but it was a common way of marking
beauty in Ireland, and it is put here rather thoughtlessly.



THE SONS OF UISNACH. 95

Naisi must have had brown hair and not black like a
Firbolg ; on the other hand I have seen him called a Fir-
bolg.

It so happened that Lavarcam brought Naisi, quite unaware
of the trick and playing innocently, on a pipe I think, within
sight of Deirdre, and I fear she made love to him, and by
some adjuration compelled him to go with her. Woman
had great rights in old Ireland. "Naisi was quite alone;
sweet truly was the music of the sons of Uisnach. Every
cow or other animal that heard it used to milk two thirds
more than usual ; every human being that heard it was
overcome with the delight of its harmony. Their valour,
too, was transcendant."

Deirdre threw herself in Naisi's way, and he said, "Mild
is the dame that passeth by." " It is natural for damsels
to be mild where there are no youths," said she. I don't
quite understand all the conversation, and perhaps you won't,
but she threw a ball at him and it struck his head, and she
said, " A stroke of disgrace is this through life's extent if you
take me not." " Depart from me, woman," said he. " Thou
wilt be in disgrace," said she ; then she took his instrument
and played. This music caused great commotion, and the
"sons of Uslinn " (another spelling) remonstrated with their
brother who knew of the terrible prophecies about Deirdre.
But it was fated ; Naisi was bewitched or in honour com-
pelled, and the brothers went off with a hundred and fifty
men and their wives and servants and greyhounds : they
were pursued round Erin to Ballyshannon, Howth, Rathlin,
and at last to a wild place, Loch Etive. They chased
deer on the mountain, and when these failed they took to



96 LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.

harrying and raised enemies, but the King of Alba required
their help, and soon they became important and powerful.
Some people say that the King of Alba, whoever he was,
wanted to kill Naisi so as to steal Deirdre on account of
her great beauty, and that they ran away to a sea-girt
isle, but we hear that they were living at Loch Etive,
when they were sent for, and they seem to have been happy.
The great fort which is still called by their name, the Fort
of the sons of Uisnach, is in a pleasant situation, and there
are numerous proofs of some population all around. They
fished as we hear, and they had a boat which took them up
to the top of the loch when they wished to hunt among
the wild hills of Glen Etive, and they left their names
well remembered on the fields and the rocks. We can go
up to the fort and see one of the finest views in Scotland
from it, and we can go up the loch to Eilean Uisneachan,
the island of the Uisnachs, and see remainders of their
little hunting lodges where they had three apartments
considered to be a luxury. We can see the great project-
ing rock half way up Glen Etive, called Deirdre's drawing
room, as a kind of joke, one very old out of all record.
We can also see the field not far below it called after
Deirdre.

It is also pleasant to go to the wood near Taynuilt and
hear it still called the wood of Naisi (coille naish), where
the family must have had a settlement, and to hear stories
about them opposite Bunawe on a projecting rocky land
called Ruadh nan Draighnean.

As they were a whole clan they would cover much ground,
and we are not surprised that they have left their name



THE SONS OF UISNACH.



97



also on the bay near the fort, and looking to the south
of Lismore Cambus Naish. 1

Deirdre is supposed to have sung that is, if she did not
sing some one put a song into her mouth, and Mr. Skene has
translated it 2

Glen Etive, O Glen Etive,
There I raised my earliest house,
Beautiful its woods on rising,
When the sun fell on Glen Etive.

They did not confine themselves to the glen ; they went
over to Loch Awe, and we can fancy them enjoying the
sight and Deirdre singing

Beloved is Draighen and its sounding shore,
Beloved the water over clear pure sands,
Oh that I might not depart from this east
Unless I go with my beloved.

When they reached Loch Awe it was but a step to Glen-
orchy, and we who admire it and who look at drawings
of Kilchurn at its foot, and rejoice in the Urchay and
the Strae, need not wonder at Deirdre singing

Glenorchy, O Glenorchy,
The straight glen of smooth ridges,
No man of his age was so joyful
As Naisi in Glenorchy.

They went up to Glenlochy also, and Deirdre could enjoy
the chase and the delights of a good dinner after it

1 Where there is the Balure farm of Mr. M'Niven.
5 See the Book of the Dean of Lismore.
G



98 LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.

Glenlaidhe, O Glenlaidhe,
I used to sleep by its soothing murmurs,
Fish and flesh of wild boar and badger
Was my repast in Glenlaidhe. 1

They sometimes from Glenorchy passed over to Lochfyne
and down to Cowal, as we find them in Glendaruel, and so we
can imagine them roaming about the Kyles of Bute, and, in
fact, seeking all the prettiest places.

Glendaruadh, O Glendaruadh,

I love each man of its inheritance,

Sweet the noise of the cuckoo on bended bough

On the hill above Glendaruadh.

There is a vitrified fort on the Kyles of Bute, and some
of their friends may have lived there: it is on a little
island, and although the steamer passes near few people
know it: it is usually called the Burnt Island.

These Uisnach people went far notwithstanding the want of
conveyances. To us it is difficult to enter Glendaruel, as they
now spell it. If we run up from Tigh-na-bruaich we are apt
to find the upper part of Loch Riddan (Ruel) dry, the tide
being out, and if we do not row far we have far to walk, and
conveyances are not easily obtained. The round from Loch
Striven or Holy Loch is very long, but the glen is a fine
broad expanse, and one feels surprised to see such a spot
there. Naisi and Deirdre with some of their companions
would probably pass from the mouth of the Ruel to the
top of Loch Striven, and up the stream to Glenmasan, from
which they would easily descend to Holy Loch and Loch
Eck. They must have enjoyed Glenmasan
1 Glenlochy. Skene.



THE SONS OF UISNACH. 99

Glenmasan, O Glenmasan,
High its herbs, fair its boughs,
Solitary was the place of our repose,
On grassy Invermasan.



This fine poem would tell to a man of Alba the joys of
a life in Argyleshire, and it must go to the heart of every
man in the west of Scotland who has had the fortune to
spend his holidays in that cotmty. I have given the verses in
an inverse order to suit our purpose. I sometimes wonder
who wrote the whole, as it is evidently later than the time
of Deirdre. But let us follow the events in Alba.

Naisi had soon become a great man in Argyle, as
he had been in Erin, and he was sent for to help (I sup-
pose, the Picts) up at Inverness. Deirdre seems to have
gone also in that direction, and a vitrified fort on the Ness
bears her name. But Naisi from one of his journeys, as we
hear, did not come straight home, but went down to Duntroon,
and he admired very much the daughter of the lord of that
place. A later poem, as I suppose it to be, says

He sent her a frisking doe,

A hind of the forest and a fawn at its feet ;

And he passed to her on a visit,

On his return from the host at Inverness.

This was the only sorrow of Deirdre in Alba which she
loved so well

Upon my hearing of this

My head filled with jealousy ;

I put my little skiff on the wave,

And indifferent to me was life and death.



100 LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.

They pursued me on the float,

Ainli and Ardan who uttered not falsehood ;

They turned me inwards,

Two that would subdue in battle a hundred.

Naisi gave his word in truth.

Deirdre believed in Naisi, and when they had enjoyed the
view about Crinan and the hospitality of the lord of Dun-
troon, who probably then lived in the vitrified fort which
we saw behind the present castle, the abode of the Rev.
R. J. Mapleton, they sometimes went south as far as Loch
Sweeny and could say, " Beloved Dun Suibhne," &c., the
Castle of Sweeny.

Now, this I call a very pleasant picture, perhaps the
oldest you have in Scotland (said Mr. O'Keefe); let us not
look at dates, but attend to our friends in their sorrow.

We have heard that at the feast in Eman, the king sent
Fergus to bring back his friends, and Fergus took no
followers but his two sons Ulan the fair, and Buine, the
ruthless red, and a shield-bearer named Gallon. " They
moved to the fastnesses of the sons of Uisnach and to
the Lake Eitche, in Alba." Naisi and Deirdre are re-
presented as living in hunting booths at the time.

And when Fergus came into the harbour, he shouted
like a hunter. Naisi and Deirdre were playing at chess ;
they had taken King Conor's polished cabinet or chess-
board with them. When Naisi heard the cry he said,
"That is the voice of a man of Erin." Deirdre knew the
voice, but avoided the thought, and said, " That is not so ;
it is the voice of a man of Alba." Fergus shouted again,
and Naisi said, "That is the cry of a man of Erin ;" but



THE SONS OF UISNACH. IOI

Deirdre said, " It is not indeed ; let us play on." But a
third cry made it certain to all, and Ardan went to meet
Fergus.

Deirdre said she knew the voice. " Then why didst thou
conceal it, my queen?" "A vision I saw last night,
namely, that three birds came unto us from Eman of
Macha, bearing three sups of honey in their beaks, and
these they left with us, and they took three sups of our
blood with them." " And what conclusion do you draw
from that, O Princess ?" said Naisi. " It is," said Deirdre,
" that Fergus comes to us with messages of peace from
Conor ; for more sweet is not honey than the peace mes-
sage of a false man." " Let that go," said Naisi ; " Fergus is
long on- the point. Go, Ardan, and meet him, and bring
him with you." Ardan went and kissed Fergus and his
sons, and said, " My affection unto you, O dear com-
panions ;" and he asked them tales of Erin, and brought
them in, and Deirdre and Naisi kissed them, and asked
them for news. And Fergus said, " The best tale I have
to tell is that Conor has sent us under condition and
guarantee for you." Deirdre at once said, " It is not meet
for them to go thither, for greater is their own sway in
Alba than the sway of Conor in Erin." " The land of
our birth is better than all things," said Fergus. " It is
a cheerless thing to the richest and greatest not to see his
own country every day." " True," said Naisi, " and Erin
is dearer to me than Alba, even if I have more here."
" You may go confidently with us," said Fergus. " We
have confidence," said Naisi, " and we shall go with you
to Erin." But Deirdre still opposed his going, and Fergus



102 LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.

pledged his word and said, " If all the men of Erin were
against you, it could not hurt you if I were with you."
" True it is," said Naisi, " and we will go with you to
Erin."

THE DEATH OF THE CHILDREN OF UISNACH.

They sailed to Erin, but Dcirdre looked back after that
eastern land of Alba, and said, " My love to you, O
eastern land. Grieved am I to leave you ; delightful are
thy harbours and thy bays, and thy clear beauteous plains
of soft grass, and thy cheerful green-sided hills ; little did
we think to leave you." Then she is said to have sung
the song already given as she mentioned each spot she
delighted in.

It was the duty of Fergus to take the Uisnachs to
Emania, but Barach laid a trap for him and invited him
to a feast, one of those feasts that were to last for months,
and to refuse which was war. He was angry, but went,
confiding the Uisnach family to his sons ; and Deirdre pro-
posed that they should go to Rathlin until the feast was
over, and so enable every one to keep his word. But the
sons of Fergus insisted on their own valour being sufficient,
and the sons of Uisnach were too proud to seek refuge by
practising the proposed device, and Deirdre bemoaned the
faith of the unsteady son of Roy. She had a dream of Ulan
the fair being faithful and losing his life, and Buine being
faithless and retaining his ; and proposed to go to Dun-
dalgan or Dundalk to stay with the great hero Cuchullin
until the formidable feast should be over ; but the same



THE SONS OF UISNACH.



103



arguments were used as before, and all went with the sons
of Fergus.

There were three great houses, or kingly abodes, in Emania,
in one of which Conor lived, and Deirdre gave as a sign to
her friends that if they were asked to go there no treachery
was intended, but if they were sent to the house of the
Red Branch, then it was all over with them. The Red
Branch represented a body of men who have been called
knights, and we have no better name, men high in the
ranks of fighting, and well born men.

They rapped at the door of Conor's house. Conor was
feasting and inquired if the Red Branch house were well
supplied with food. The answer was in a style that might
still be called Hibernian " If the seven battalions of Ulster
would come they would still find abundance to eat and to
drink." " Then take the sons of Uisnach to it," said Conor.

Deirdre did not give up. Her character is remarkably
consistent and decided. She still desired them to go to
Rathlin, but the old reasoning prevailed. " For it is not
cowardice or unmanliness that has ever been known of us,
and we will go to the Red Branch."

It is true there was enough to eat when they came to
the house, but they were tired, and Naisi called as usual
for the polished chessboard, and he and Deirdre began
to play.

The king had not seen Deirdre for a long time, and he
was very desirous of knowing if she were still the most
beautiful of women. He was proud of Naisi as one of
his greatest nobles, and would not hurt him for nothing,
but he was quite willing to break his word and to kill Naisi



104 LOCH ETIVE AND THE SONS OF UISNACH.

if Deirdre were still worth admiring. So he sent his old
confidante, the poetess or singer Lavarcam, and she came
and warned Deirdre and Naisi of the intention of Conor,
and advised them to defend the house against an attack.
She then went to Conor and told him that Deirdre had
lost all her beauty, and was not worth thinking of. Still
he was not sure, and he sent another messenger, one who
was sure to hate Naisi. This was Trendorm, whose father
and three brothers had been killed by Naisi. This messenger
found most of the house barricaded, but he looked in at
one of the windows. Deirdre saw him and told Naisi, who,
having a chessman in his hand, made a fortunate throw
and knocked out one of Trendorm's eyes. Of course the
wounded man told Conor, and Conor admired the blow and
said, " The man of that throw would be king of the world
if he had not short life." " Moreover," Trendorm added,
" there is not in the world a woman of face and form
more beautiful than she " (Deirdre).

Then came a terrible struggle. I do not think I shall
tell it all. Faithlessness was mixed with faithfulness. The
story has nothing impossible in it until it comes to the
deeds of these children of Uisnach, who, as in older poets,
have too many deaths laid to their honour. But they died,
and Deirdre alone lived. It was not, however, possible to
kill them without supernatural power, so the Druid Cathbad
came forward, and Conor promised not to hurt the heroes, if
only he could make them yield. Cathbad believed this, and
caused " a viscid sea of whelming waves to come around the
children of Uisnach, so that they swam along the ground."
They did not yield, but the Ulstermen would not approach



THE SONS OF UISNACH. 105

them till their arms fell off them, and no one could be per-
suaded to kill them until a fellow, called Maini Rough-
hand, son of the king of Norway, 1 said he would do it because
Naisi had killed his father and two brothers. " If so," said
Ardan, " let me be killed first." " No, but me," said Ainli.
But Naisi said, " I have a sword which Mananan MacLir
gave me, and it leaves no remains of a blow ; let us three
be struck together with it, and we shall all be killed at
once." So the three heads were laid on the block together,
and were severed by one blow.

The end is coming for Deirdre. There are different accounts.
One says that she died on the graves of the sons of Uisnach ;
another that she lived a year, and that in rage with Conor
she flung herself from his carriage, head foremost, on to a
rock and was killed.

Cameron. Let us conclude from a well known version :
" Awake, Darthula, awake, thou first of women ! The wind
of spring is abroad. The flowers shake their heads on the
green hills. The woods wave their growing leaves. Retire,
O sun ! The daughter of Colla is asleep. She will not
come forth in her beauty. She will not move in the steps
of her loveliness."



mention of Norway shows that the version of the story is later
much than the date given to the events. The Norse get the name of
being rough, as if no gentle Gael could have done such an act. It may
be that Norsemen came in the first century; it has been supposed that the
Foinorians were of that class. The story does not require this discussion,
since this version is unquestionably full of comparatively late additions.



io6



CHAPTER VII.

IS IT A SUN MYTH ?

"The sun is the centre of power, and therefore of life and thought
to our earth,"

" Rejoice then, O sun, in the strength of thy youth."

Macpherson's Ossian.

MARGAET, I am amused, and much pleased with your
story, but do you know that I have read about this, and
was told that it was an old Aryan story out of the
Mahabharata ? The primitive story sent out from the
glowing regions of India has lived among all the race that
sprung from the people there, and glows still with all its
vigour, sometimes with new tints, sometimes with old.
What do you say?

O'Kecfe. Well, we may amuse each other. If the story
of a man who kept away a lover from a young woman for
some time, but at last was unsuccessful, since youth had
its way, is believed by you to be an account of that which
once happened in India, I will not attempt to prove other-
wise. Men do not go far for stories when they can be
got at hand. The ground facts have occurred millions and



IS IT A SUN MYTH?



107



millions of times, and if you do not know several such
occurrences among your acquaintances you must be highly
favoured. Indeed, I know that it occurred amongst my own
relations ; but there was a modern variation of circum-
stances.

Loudoun. Do you believe in spontaneous growth ? Do
you imagine that stories will grow of themselves anywhere ?
You have heard that there are but few of these stories
in reality, although they are all made to appear different by
change of dressing ? Mr. J. G. v. Hahn l tells us that there
are only forty classes of stories, each with variations, and
this of yours would probably belong to class 27, the
Helena form. You do not now require to tell a story in
full, but when anything interesting happens you have only
to say, "It happened according to form 21, subform a,"
and so on, and the idea is given at once. These names
of persons may interest some, but intellectually they mean
nothing, and any name may do. As to the names of places,
all our shores have been covered with wild romances, and
it requires no Aryan beginning to form them ; they grow
from the germs which exist in abundance in the human
heart, and in human mechanism. We require no proof of
spontaneous growth so long as man is one, and if you
stop all connection with the past in the memory of man,
new Deirdres will rise up to-morrow, new Conors, who will



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