Diarmuid and Gráinne is one of the most popular mythical love stories from Ireland. It strikes a chord at the very essence of our core and brings to light the polarities of life; love/hate, revenge/forgiveness, light/dark.
It can be likened somewhat to the Arthurian saga in which King Arthur’s wife Guinevere loved his right hand man Sir Lancelot.
In this story Gráinne was known as the most beautiful woman in Ireland and was sought after by some of the most powerful men in the country including princes and chieftains. She courted many men and was eventually asked by Fionn Mac Cumhail (Fionn MacCool) to be his second wife.
Gráinne agreed to this marriage and a huge feast was arranged. On the night of the feast Gráinne set eyes on Diarmuid, one of Fionn’s mightiest warriors. She immediately fell in love with him, and he with her. Of course she was already betrothed to the mighty Fionn Mac Cumhail.
It seemed almost like their love was doomed but the pair decided to elope and hide in cracks and crevices the length and breath of Ireland. There are many grassy hills up and down Ireland where it is said that Gráinne and Diarmuid laid at times to hide from the might of Fionn Mac Cumhail and his army.
When Fionn learned what had happened to his beautiful Gráinne he immediately became enraged and vowed to find and kill Diarmuid in revenge. He pledged to never stop looking for the pair until they were found.
After many years Gráinne became pregnant and the pair’s fate was tested. When hiding in the hills around Benbulben in County Sligo a wild boar came to stand in the pair’s path. Diarmuid immediately recalled the legend that a wise elder had once told him outlining his fate. In that legend Diarmuid had been told that the only thing that could cause him harm was a wild boar.
As the wild boar started to charge Diarmuid frantically tried to save his heavily pregnant wife Gráinne. He raised his sword to the boar and killed him but the boar also struck Diarmuid with a fatal wound.
Diarmuid fell to the ground and Gráinne took him into her arms. Just then Fionn arrived with this army. Gráinne knew that the only thing that would save him now was if Fionn would give him a drink of water from his cupped hands, which were known to have magical powers. However Fionn refused to do this and Diarmuid grew weaker and weaker.
Seeing the decline of Diarmuid got too much for Oisin, who was the son of Fionn and he challenged his father to do the right thing towards Diarmuid and went so far as to threaten to kill him if he didn’t agree! Fionn eventually gave in but at this stage it was too late, Diarmuid had died in the arms of his beloved Gráinne.
All mythical stories have universal themes; they show us the way of certain actions and make us aware that there is always a path to freedom from what may seem like a labyrinth of darkness, it just needs to be illuminated.
The light can always get in .. there is always a way.
Until next time…. keep the faith,