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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "A Year and a Day"

A Year and a Day

But we shall understand when the right time comes, and then we shall wonder how we could ever wonder. And I will tell you another story about it, not to make you understand, but to show you how it is.

"Long ago Finn McCool was the great champion of Ireland. He had many warriors, who were called Fenians. He had a son, Oisin, who was a great warrior, too, and besides that a poet and a minstrel. Some of his poems are left to us yet. One day the Fenians were hunting, when they met a beautiful girl riding on a white horse. She called to Oisin, and he went apart from the others to speak with her.

"She told him that she was the Princess of Tir-na-n-Oge, and that she had come to take him there, where she was to be married to him. 'Tir-na-n-Oge' means 'Land of the Young,' and they say that nobody ever grows old there. The Princess was as beautiful as moonlight, and her voice was as sweet as the wind blowing on a harp, and Oisin was in love with her and eager to go before she had done speaking.

"He went back to his father and his companions and bade them farewell. It was with tears that Finn said good-by to Oisin, for I think he knew that he should never see him again. But Oisin did not know. Then Oisin mounted the white horse and set the Princess in front of him, and the horse galloped away toward the west. In a little while they came to the sea, and the horse kept straight on, galloping over the water as if it had been a smooth road. Then some say that the water rose around them and covered them and that they were in a beautiful place under the sea. I am not sure of that. Lands there are under the sea, they say, and no doubt there are, but I am not so sure that the real Tir-na-n-Oge is there.

"For others say that the tops of blue hills rose before them, and changed to green as they came nearer, and then Oisin saw that soft grass sloped down to the very water here and there, and in other places there were tall cliffs, and trailing vines hung down from the tops of them, covered with bright flowers, and they swung to and fro in the light breeze.

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