When the Irish legend of Oisin and the beautiful Niamh Cinn iir came too close for comfort
Al would never forget 2009. It was the year her father had passed away, the year she had been burgled and the year she had injured her back. She was recovering from the shock of it all as spring drew to a close. Maybe summer would bring better tidings.
“Hey Al, I’m popping out to the shops to get some milk.”
The speaker was Al’s good friend and housemate, Finn, an athletic looking man with a balding head which he rubbed constantly when he was nervous.
“Okay,” she replied absent-minded.
The shops were less than two minutes away so when Finn had not returned after an hour Al panicked. She should have paid more attention to what he had been saying to her. Come to think of it, he had been rubbing his head a lot lately. Sliding off the chair, she crossed the threshold to the kitchen. There was milk in the fridge. With thoughts running wild, her shaking hands dialled Finn’s number.
A key rattled in the door, stopping her in her tracks. She was going to give Finn a real telling to. The person who entered the room, however, was not Finn, but his friend Leon.
“Finn’s gone, Al.”
A wave of emotions was triggered by the announcement.
“What do you mean gone? Is he dead?”
Leon’s bewildered eyes stared at her. All he could do was nod in silence as tears streamed down his face.
Finn’s pace quickened as soon as he left the built-up area of his neighbourhood. His breath came in short bursts, not through exertion but from the excitement at the prospect of what lay ahead.
He soon came to a clearing just as the sun disappeared behind the hills. Finn caressed the fine stone he had been holding in his hands. He had not even wanted to risk putting it in his pocket in case it fell and he lost it.
Al was distraught. Leon’s efforts failed to calm her down.
“None of what you are saying makes any sense at all,” she cried out. “We must go to the police.”
“We can’t,” he told her evenly. “There’s nothing they can do. He’s gone Al. Just accept it.”
“But I can’t. What you’re saying is impossible.”
A sneaking suspicion made her think that the two men must have had an altercation. Finn had been accidentally murdered and his body disposed of by his frightened friend.
As the sun set, the few thin strips of clouds on the horizon turned shimmering gold. Clutching the stone tightly in his fist Finn closed his eyes and inhaled the crisp smell of the breeze. He listened to the lapping sounds of the water. The gentle breeze reminded him of her. He smiled.
He walked to the water’s edge, wading in until the water was waist high. People were swimming all around him but nobody seemed to notice him. He was an invisible, non-existent entity. Soothing, repetitive sounds of lapping waves came together in a gentle, hypnotic melody, casting a spell of serene tranquility. Finn could feel the pull of the water as he waded deeper and deeper into the waters of Lough Leane. It now reached up to his shoulders.
The current suddenly snatched him in its grip. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he felt his body being wrenched into the whirlpool, the water sucking him down, spinning faster and faster until dizziness completely overwhelmed him. He was finally returning to Tir na N’og and to the embrace of his beloved Niamh Cinn iir.
Little white clouds drifted lazily across the sky, hardly casting the slightest shadow on the sun.
“I’m going to the police.” Al was distraught.
Leon couldn’t stop the exasperated sound that left his lips. “You can’t do that. You’ll get us both in trouble.”
“Are you trying to implicate me in your murderous action? How diabolical!” Now that she had gathered her thoughts Al was livid. “How on earth are we going to explain Finn’s disappearance?”
“We’ll say he moved away. He always kept to himself anyway so I don’t think he will be missed.”
“I’ll miss him!”
“Sit down Al,” Leon said, his hand reaching out in a gesture of comfort and resting his hand over hers. “You know the legend of Oisin who fell in love with a beautiful woman while hunting on the shores of Lough Leane?”
A puzzled look creased Al’s brow. “Yes, why?”
“Finn is Oisin, the warrior who fell in love with Niamh Cinn iir.”
“No! The woman from the land of Tir na N’og…” her voice trailed off.
“Where nobody grows old and spring is eternal,” Leon finished off. “And Finn found a way to return to her.”
“Remember that caravan of travellers which passed through town last month? Well, one of them was a fortune teller. She gave Finn a stone which had been in her family for generations. Apparently its powers can take the holder to that land if they believe.”
“I guess not many believed in its powers since it’s still here.”
“Was,” he corrected.
As Christmas approached the streets got busier. Six months had already passed since the incident with Finn and Al’s life was finally coming together again. For the first time since that night from hell, she could breathe without the pain in her chest trying to cut off her oxygen. She reached out for her husband but his side of the bed was empty. She sat up for while then finally made her way downstairs.
He was sitting on the sofa in the living room. He raised his head as her shadow blanketed him. Sitting down next to him she smoothed the bald patch on his head. She thought about asking him if he was okay but decided against it. He had come back to her and that was all that mattered.
“Hey,” she slapped his arm. “We’ll be okay.”
She had finally made peace with God.
This story was written to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and was inspired by the Irish legend of Oisin.