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Clara of Tir na Nog

by Celia Farran

Greetings. My name is Clara. And I am here to assure you that there ARE other worlds. I come from the land of Tir Na Nog, the land of Eternal Youth. Oh, it is a beautiful place. It is a place where no one dies, no one ages, and no one feels things such as you know here like pain grief despair attachment. As you can see, Tir na Nog is a very nice place.

You must forgive me. I have never been with humans before. I quite like them. I mean I quite like you.

In all of the history of Tir Na Nog there has only been one human invited to come. His name was Oisen. I never met him. But I know his story. I know it well. It all began in the ancient forests of a land that you now call Ireland. Oisen was out hunting with his father's clan, The Clan of Finn MacComohul. They were a clan of fighting men, hunting men, strong, honorable and handsome men. They were tracking a grand stag, mighty and strong with a crown of antlers atop his head, or so they imagined, for they had not yet seen it through the thick veil of the morning mist. But there, deep in the woods, they could hear it and they could track it.

They followed it into a clearing and there the Sun shown down. Piercing rays cut through the thick fog and all the men were poised with bow and arrow to bring down the beast. They pointed, aimed, and saw not a great stag at all! They saw instead a snow white stallion with a golden mane and tail. They had been tracking the hooves of a stag, but now they saw horse's hooves made of pure gold. It was a great sight indeed. But it was what was atop this Grand Stallion that caused the courageous men of the Clan of Finn MacComul to drop their weapons and fall to their knees.

For on top of this breathtaking stallion was a breath stealing maiden. She had long, flowing golden hair that intermingled with the mane and tail of her mount. She had crystal, piercing, blue eyes and porcelain skin. She wore a cape of soft brown velvet dappled with red rubies that caught the sunlight, giving her the appearance of being on fire. And from her perfect lips she spoke these words: "My name is Nieve. I come from the land of Tir Na Nog, the land of eternal youth. I have many suitors there, but none satisfy. For the mate of my dreams is a hunting man, a fighting man, a strong, honorable, and handsome man. I have waited many years for him to come of age and into this clan. Finally, I have found him and he is to come away and be my husband. And his name is..." Now, at this time, two basic emotions were felt amongst the kneeling men. One... excitement, the other... FEAR. "His name is Oisen." All eyes on Oisen.

Now at this time the other men were feeling two new emotions. One... jealousy. The other RELIEF. Oisen got up from his feet and stepped dreamily towards the beautiful Nieve. He made sweet love to her with his words saying: "Oh, Sweet Nieve, you are the most beautiful maiden I have ever seen. I would Follow You To The Ends Of The Earth!"

I am told that in situations such as these human men do not fully understand the depth of commitment they have made with such words. Nieve of course was delighted with his decision: "I am so glad that we are in agreement. And with this, your consent, I put a small geisa on you, a "benign"... curse.... You shall come away with me to the Land of Tir Na Nog and there we shall be wed. You shall live in perpetual youth and joy and there with me you will stay."

Oisen felt deep trepidation in his heart, that he let no one see. He turned back to his clansmen and said tearful goodbyes. Then, Oisen climbed to the top of the white stallion behind his bride to be, and Neive, Oisen, and the stallion... disappeared from sight.

And in their place stood a grand stag two men tall with a giant crown of antlers. It looked at the men and they looked back at it, for each was stunned at the presence of the other. Then, finally, the stag leapt from the warm Sun back into the mist, and it was a rustle for dropped weapons as the chase continued. It was not until the evening's feast that the events of the day came fully back to the clan. For then it was noticed that Oisen's place at table was empty.

Oisen too forgot the moment. He held tight to Nieve as the horse picked up speed traveling over the land (ga da dum ga da dum). Soon they reached the ocean's shore, but the great stallion did not stop (ga da dum-ga da dum). Soon they overtook the waves and the waves overtook them. Between the waves Oisen saw the most magnificent things. He saw a white dog with blood red ears chasing a stag. He saw a fair maiden on a black horse with an apple clutched in her teeth. She was being chased by a young man on a white horse. Oisen could not make out if the young man was chasing the maiden or the apple.

Then between the waves Oisen saw a castle and marveled at it's beauty. He asked Nieve to stop. Nieve assured him that this was no castle-that when he got home To Tir Na Nog he would see a true castle. But Oisen insisted, and Nieve agreed to give him his simple pleasure. Oisen was drawn towards the castle by the sobs of a young maiden. "Oh, it is dreadful. I am a princess in my land. But I have been stolen away by a monstrous giant and he means to make me marry him unless I find a challenger. If this challenger wins this giant will set me free. Could you help me?"

Oisen could not resist. When the Giant returned home, Oisen challenged him to a battle. The Giant accepted and the battle began. All day long they took blows at each other, but neither one fell completely. They rested for nothing and fought with great fever for thirteen days, and it appeared that each would die of exhaustion. But suddenly Oisen recalled the memory of his father, Finn Mccool, and a great strength took him over. With one final sweep of his sword he dropped the head of the Massive Giant to the Earth. Bloodied and spent he knelt down in front of the fair maiden who, to Oisen's surprise, sobbed even louder than before. "Oh, it's dreadful, you have killed him, he was the only one who ever loved me. Who will take care of me now? I shall die alone in this dreadful place."

Oisen looked to Nieve in disbelief. Nieve led him away from the tearful maiden, back to the white stead and explained: "Sometimes what you think you want isn't what you thought you wanted, until you get what you thought you wanted and then it's gone. And with that the horse took off again over the ocean (ga da dum ga da dum ga da dum).

Soon they approached the shores of Tir Na Nog. And Nieve was right, Oisen had never seen such a beautiful castle. Why, it was all made up of gemstones. There were diamonds and rubies and emeralds. The King and Queen greeted their daughter and her new mate. They welcomed Oisen to the Land of Tir Na Nog and promised him great wealth, happiness, and eternal youth. There was a ten day feast before Nieve and Oisen were married. Platters never became empty, wine and mead never ran dry, and the musicians never stopped playing, and no one became tired of the revelry. On their wedding night, Nieve explained to Oisen that he was now an immortal and he could never leave. He was to live in peace and harmony with her forever.

For the next three years, Oisen lived a life of joy and bliss. He had never a care of hunting his next meal, or fighting a battle, or not measuring up to his father's expectations. And he was quite happy... until he began to miss the challenge of survival, and the courage of a battle, and his desire to please his father. Indeed, he missed his father and his clan most of all.

He denied his feelings for a long time, but soon it became unbearable. In the land of peace and bliss and perpetual joy, he felt no challenge. And although he was blessed with eternal youth, he felt no life. When he approached Nieve and requested a journey back to his homeland, tears streamed down her face. "I have had a dream that you would ask. I fear that if you go, you will never return to me." But she had seen how unhappy he had become. It was the first time she had experienced any unhappiness of any kind. "Take my white stead. But you must not touch the soil there. Visit your family and then come back here at once. I repeat, you must stay on your horse, or you will never return to me. "

Oisen said his goodbyes and mounted the white steed. The horse took off in a gallop (ga da dum ga da dum). Again Oisen saw fantastic images between the waves, but this time he paid no attention. He pushed the stallion to get across the ocean and finally found the dry land of Ireland. He wanted to kiss the earth, but he dare not.

The first thing that he noticed was that he didn't recognize anything. He tried to find his way to his father's home, but couldn't. Finally, he came to a small village and asked where he could find Finn Mccool. But it was as if no one could see or hear him. He decided to watch the activities of the village to learn what he could about where he was.

He noticed that the people of this village were much, much smaller than the people where he was from. He laughed to see a group of men trying to lift a stone out of the ground and onto a cart. They would try one way with no effect and then devise a new plan and try another. It was killing Oisen to watch it. Why, to him it was only a pebble, to them it was like a boulder. He watched the activity for hours. Finally, he could take it no longer. He would show them how a REAL man moves a stone.

He broke a branch off the nearest tree, and coaxed a very reluctant stallion into the village. He reached down to flick the small stone out of the Earth. But the stick was not quite long enough. Oisen leaned far over the saddle. Just then, the stead gave a great shake and screamed its whinney. Oisen lost his foot from the stirrup and came crashing down to the ground dispersing all of the men at work. They were all quite surprised to see this giant fall from the sky. Oisen quickly reached for the stirrup, but the White Stallion was gone.

Immediately he felt himself grow weak, shrinking in size and growing 300 years in age. Soon, he was the same size as the villagers that surrounded him. Now they could see and hear him. He explained that he was Oisen from the Clan of Finn MacCool and that he was looking for his father.

The villagers exchanged looks and whispers. Finally one man stepped forward and explained to Oisen that Fin MacComohul and his fighting men were not real. They were the men of legends. Oisen was Fin MacComohul's son and was stolen away to the Land of Tir Na Nog where he lives in eternal youth. Three hundred years had passed in the three years that Oisen had been in Tir Na Nog.

Some say that Oisen told his story to an old priest who believed him and wrote it out. They say that is why Ireland now knows the details of Finn MacComohul and his fighting men, of Oisen, and of the land of Tir Na Nog. Some say that Oisen died. Others believe that he lives in eternal age somewhere in a dark cave. But most agree that the stone the he tried to move turned to crystal and holds his life essence.

I never knew him. But I know his story well. You see, he was my father. And I am the first half human, half eternal ever to be born. No one knows how long I will live.

I did not come here to find my father, for it is sure that he is no longer the man my mother knew. I came, instead, for the stone. And I have found it. And indeed, it has turned to crystal. This stone once took my father from me. Now it gives him back. For with it I can see who he was. I can see his story. And through his story, I may finally come to understand who I am.

Celia Farran
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
www.celiaonline.com

This story was written by Celia, as inspired by the legends of Tir Na NoG. You can hear it told by her on her storytelling CD, "Irish Tales," (cover shown), which was realeased earlier this year, following the huge success of her first CD, "Fire in the Head." These CDs are both available through Circle, see page 67. A third CD of her own songs is due for release in the Spring of 2003. Celia is also featured as one of the few artists chosen for the Discover Wisconsin Compilation CD: "Art of the State."

Celia is a singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, storyteller, and acting coach. She has lived and worked as a professional actress in New York City, where she produced her acclaimed one woman Celtic Cabaret, "Stories in the Stone." In October 2002, she provided music for Conor McPherson's Off-Broadway show, "Rum and Vodka." Celia recently completed a tour of the western US with her one-woman show, and she has also toured the nation with the award winning children's theatre company, Theatreworks USA.