The tales of Deirdre and Grania

These are the tales of Deirdre and Grania from the red branch of the mythology Irish.

tales of Deirdre and Grania

Tales of Deirdre and Grania

“Conchobar, King of Ulster was feasting one evening with the Knights of the Red Branch at his favorite storyteller, when they came to announce that their host's wife had just given birth to a daughter of astonishing beauty. The king immediately sent his best druid astrologer to draw the horoscope of the little being. The druid went to consult the stars, returned, collected his thoughts for a moment and, getting up, said to the commensals:
- This newborn will be named Deirdre or Tear. She will deserve this name. She will bring endless calamities to Ulster and Ireland, and for her, many heroes will experience exile and many death.
The knights were of the opinion that the child should be killed immediately. But the king, raising his right hand, said:
- Not. It would be unworthy of the Red Branch to commit villainy to avoid evils which are only possible. I will have the child brought up in such a way that she will be free from all harm. Then I will make her my wife, thus taking all the risk on myself.
In an old fort surrounded by gardens and high ramparts, Conchobar placed the child, who only had with her a guardian and the trusted druidess of the king, Lavarcame. Growing up thus in solitude, she came to the age of marriage, and she prevailed over all the virgins of her time by the thoughtful air, the passion of her eyes and the grace of her whole person.
One day when it was snowing, she saw fresh blood, which her guardian had just spilled in the courtyard. A crow came to drink it. Dreamy, the teenager said to Lavarcame, her poet:
- I love these three colors and I would like my fiancé to have such black hair, such red lips and such white skin. Last night, I saw this youngster in a dream and I wonder if he exists in the world.
"It exists," Lavarcame replied. One of the king's young knights resembles him like a brother. His name is Naisi.
Naisi and his two brothers Aïnli and Ardann were the sons of Usna, the favorite knights of the Red Branch, courteous, accomplished in peace, skillful and astute in the hunt, brave and triumphant in war:
'If it is so,' replied Deirdre, 'I shall be happy that you did not bring him to me.
- Are you unaware of the danger that you make us run? If the tutor learned such a thing, he would tell it to the king and the royal wrath shatters everything in front of him.
Deirdre didn't say a word. For days and days she remained sad and silent, and the memory of her dream filled her beautiful eyes with tears. Lavarcame, who loved her dearly, took pity on her. Unbeknownst to the tutor, she managed to bring the young people together. They fell in love with each other and Deirdre vowed never to marry a man or a king except Naisi.
Without waiting for Conchobar to hear about the wedding, Naisi and his brothers, bringing together three times fifty warriors, three times fifty servants, three times fifty women and three times fifty sleuths, embarked secretly for Caledonia. They were well received by the king of the country and enlisted in his troops. They won his trust by their courage and merit. Out of prudence, they kept Deirdre aside, preferring that the king here not see her.
All went well until the day when passing in front of Naisi's house, the royal steward saw the knight and his wife on their daybed. He ran to his master.
- On your orders, O king, I have been looking for a worthy companion for a long time. I finally found her. Deirdre, Naisi's companion, and who more than any other deserves to be the queen of the western world. Let's get rid of Naisi and take Deirdre as our wife.
The king had the baseness to accept and hatch a plot to slaughter the sons of Usna. The three brothers, who had made themselves loved, were notified in time. Mobilizing all their people, they fled on a moonless night and, from a safe distance, set up camp in a remote, harsh and savage district.
They had great difficulty in finding food for themselves in hunting and fishing. Instinctively, they had moved closer to the shore, which was watching Erinn in the distance.
About this time King Conchobar gave a feast in his home in Emain. At the end of the meal, he said to the knights of the Red Branch:
- I am happy to receive you in my home. Be frank and tell me if you think anything is missing.
All were of the opinion that nothing was missing.
"Yes," said the king, "we lack the sons of Usna." - yes, all the nobles said. - It is a great pity to know them in exile and in distress. They were Ulster's shield and they were good comrades.
"Let them return, then," continued the king. They will submit and I will restore their homes and lands to them.
Even as he spoke these friendly words, betrayal was in his heart, for he could not forgive Naisi for having taken Deirdre the Passionate from him.
When the feast was over, he called Fergus and said:
- It is you that I charge to bring back the sons of Usna and their clan. Take them my message of peace and goodwill. As a guarantee of security, you will put yourself in their hands. Now, remember two things. As soon as you get your foot back on Ulster soil, go straight to Barach Castle, standing on the cliff. And make sure that Usna's sons don't stop anywhere and eat no meal in Erinn before what I offer them.
Friend of Naisi and his brothers, Fergus accepts the mission with joy, without any suspicion, and leaves with his two sons, Illann and Buinn, and his shield bearer.
For his part, King Conchobar summons Barach and says to him:
- Prepare a feast for Fergus, on his return from Caledonia, and invite him with the sons of Usna.
Barach said he would fulfill the king's wish.
It should be remembered that in those distant times, when they entered the Red Branch, the knights made such and such commitments, which bound them for life. They could not violate these vows without being dishonored and ostracized by chivalry.
Yet, among Fergus' sworn obligations, was never to refuse the invitation to a feast. The king and Barach had not forgotten him.
Landing in Caledonia near the encampment of the sons of Usna, Fergus, like a good hunter, uttered his familiar call. Usna's sons were in their shelters. A polished wooden chessboard lay on the knees of Naisi and Deirdre, who were in a game.
At the first call, Naisi strained his ears and said
- The one who hails is a man from Erinn.
'No,' replied Deirdre, 'he's a Caledonian.
A few moments later a second call sounded.
- It is certainly there, said Naisi, a man of Erinn!
- No really ! repeated Deirdrée. And what does it matter? Let's continue our game.
At the third call, longer and more vibrant, Naisi stood up and said:
- I recognize the voice: it's Fergus' call! And he immediately sent his brother Ardann to meet him.
Deïirdrée had recognized Fergus' voice from the start. She kept her thoughts to herself. This visit did not bode well. When she opened up to Naisi, he said:
- Why, my queen, hide it from me?
- Last night, she replied, a vision slipped into my sleep. From the royal castle of Emain three crows came to bring us three drops of honey and, in exchange, they took away three drops of our blood.
- And what do you expect from this vision?
- Conchobar's message is honey, but his intention is blood.
However, Ardann, moved to see his old comrades again, had given them a warm hug. He brought them to Naisi and Deirdrée, who offered them a warm welcome.
"I bring you the king's greetings," said Fergus. If you return, he is ready to return your property and your Red Branch prerogatives.
"It is not appropriate for the Usna clan to come back to Erinn," Deirdre said. Here he is his master.
"Mother land is even better than independence," Fergus replied.
- I'm more free here, added Naisi, but Erinn is dearer to my heart.
He had spoken without the consent of Deirdre, who continued to fight the idea of returning.
"Your friends in Ulster are legion," Fergus said. Even if you had only enemies, am I not your hostage and your guarantee?
- In you, Fergus, concluded Naisi, we have full confidence and we are leaving!

The next day, a favorable wind carried their galleys to the foot of the cliff where the castle of Barach stood. While the horses and luggage were unloading, Deirdre sat down on a high rock, from where she could see the blue promontories of Caledonia, and, sadly, she sang this farewell:

Dear will remain to me the harsh Caledonia,
Our asylum, and the leaning green of its hillsides,
And its narrow glens and its thundering waters
Falling from rock to rock in whitening rain!

I loved to cross its marine rivers
In my light canoe that cradled my sleep.
On our dear mansion the sun was smiling
From the love of Naisi, nestled on my chest.

The land where we loved is the land of life
Which is worth to us the ground where we were born,
For us who hold nothing above love,
Nothing at the cost of the call of the married voice!

Farewell, Caledonia, where I knew joy
To be all in Naisi! cruel heartbreaks!
It is he himself who wants, blind to my torments,
Tear me away from your mountains where the mist spreads!

Welcoming the exiles, Barach said to Fergus:
- I have prepared a three-day feast for you and I invite you to take your share.
Fergus felt his heart sink and his forehead turn crimson. In a violent voice, he replied:
- It's a plan of treachery. You know that, according to my wish, I cannot refuse you, and you also know that I am honored to lead on the hour to the king the sons of Usna, for whom I answer for my life.
"I know," replied Barach; but my feast is steaming and I stand by my invitation.
“What should I do…” Fergus cried, turning to Naisi.
It was Deirdre who answered
- The choice is yours, Fergus. It is fairer to leave your feast than to abandon the sons of Usna whose safe-conduct you are.
Fergus paused a moment to think it over and added:
- I will not forsake the sons of Usna. I will give them for safeguard, on honor, my two sons Illann and Buinn.
- Big thank you, growled angry Naisi, for saving them! We are used to defending ourselves!
Deirdre, his brothers, Fergus' sons and the rest of the clan set out with him, while Fergus remained, dismayed and full of bad omens.
Deirdre tried to get them to camp while they waited for Barach's feast to end; but the king had said that they came "without the delay of a meal", and they did not want to irritate him or, above all, to appear cowardly.
The next hour Deirdre slowed down, lay down on a mound, and fell asleep. When Naisi realized he missed her, he came back to her.
- Why are you lingering, my princess? he asked.
- I fell asleep and dreamed a vision. Of our two companions, Illann sided with us, but Buinn turned against us. And I saw Illann without a head; and I saw Buinn unharmed and unharmed.
- Why always these ugly omens? said Naisî. The king is frank and will keep his word.
Arrived at one o'clock from the palace, they halted and Dëirdrée spoke:
- O Naisi, above Emain, see this blood-colored cloud. Believe me: come and take refuge with the hero Cuchullain, until Fergus returns, for there is pretense and treachery in the air.
And Naisi to answer:
- I cannot, my beloved; it would be fearful and we have no fear.
They resumed their walk towards the king's house. And Deirdre said again:
– Naisi, here is the sign that will fix you on Conchobar’s intentions. If he invites you to his table, you will be safe, because a Irish has never harmed a guest. If he sends you to the Red Branch house, fear everything.
When the great gate of the palace opened, Conchobar immediately said to his stewards:
- Lead the welcome sons of Usna, and all their people, to the house of the Red Branch.
Deirdre once again begged them not to enter.
- Never, said Illann the faithful, never have we shown cowardice. We will not start today.
The people of the clan sat down and did honor to the mouth-watering dishes and drinks that make you forgetful.
Deirdre and Usna's sons barely touched it. Isolating themselves, Deirdre and Naisi asked for a chess board and began to play.

In his home, Conchobar thought of Deirdre.
- Who wants to go to the Red Branch to tell me if Deirdre has retained the beauty that made her the queen of the world?
Lavarcame nodded that she was ready to go.
She loved Usna's sons and her dear Deirdre, whom she had raised. She covered them with caresses, in the midst of her tears. And she tells them
- Loved children, a night of treachery is brewing. The king has resolved your death. Try to resist until Fergus and his men arrive.
And she left all crying. Her tears dried, she said to the king:
- Good and bad news I bring you. The three valuable torches which are the sons of Usna have been returned to you and they will give you the sovereign power of all Ireland. As for Deirdre, she isn't what she used to be: her young forms have vanished and the regal splendor of her face.
The king listened, confident and suspicious. Her jealousy in her heart rose and fell like the tide in a sea cave.

Suddenly he called one of the knights, Trendorn.
- Do you know, he said, who killed your father in single combat?
- Yes, said the other. It was Naisi who killed him.
- Go to the Red Branch and let me know about Naisi and Deirdre.
Finding the doors and windows closed, Trendorn got scared. He was about to turn on his heel when he saw a bull's-eye left ajar. He climbed a ladder that allowed him to see the great hall, the warriors making their preparations, and Naisi with Deirdre, both leaning on their chessboard. Looking up at his partner to encourage him to play, Deirdre saw the face spying on them. She touched Naisi's arm who was lifting a pawn. He followed the direction of her gaze and aiming with a sure eye, he flipped the coin and poked Trendorn's eye out.
Screaming in pain and rage, the traitor said to the king
- The sons of Usna sit in the Red Branch as if they were its kings. As for Deirdre, she is still a queen of grace and beauty.
At these words, Conchobar's jealousy flared even more and he took all measures so that the sons of Usna could not escape their fate. He ordered his mercenaries to assault the house of the Red Branch and bring him the sons of Usna, dead or alive.
The walls and the heart-shaped oak windows valiantly supported the assault. So the soldiers gathered brambles and piles of wood all around, and set them on fire. Soon flames rose on all sides. Usna's sons took counsel. Buinn, Fergus' eldest son, stepped forward and said:
- It is up to me to repel the first assault, because I am your guarantor here instead of my father.
The doors were opened to him and with a select group of men, he made an sortie, slain three times fifty mercenaries and succeeded in smothering the flames. But he didn't come back. The king secretly offered him his favor and a fine and good estate. Buinn cowardly agreed and betrayed his father and his friends. He was not rewarded for it. At this same hour, a disease fell on the domain and struck it with eternal sterility: it is still today the dreary Fuad moor.
Hearing this wicked, the second son, Luann, heartbroken, stood up and said:
- Son of Usna, I am, through my father Fergus, your second guarantor. Will not betray you. As long as this vibrant claymore lives in my hand, I will be faithful to you. It is my honor to repel the second assault.
The mercenaries returned to the assault and, with water hammers, tried to break down the door. Illann opened it wide and, with his followers, threw himself on the attackers whom they dispersed under their blows. He took advantage of the respite to tell Naisi where things were going, who, to hold everyone's courage high, calmly continued his game of chess with Deirdre.
Conchobar took advantage of this halt in another way. He called his son Fiéra and said to him:
- Illann and you were born the same night. He has his father's arms; take mine, my shield, my two spears and my blue-bladed claymore. Go and fight like a man.
They all made a circle to see the two sons of the chief grappling with each other. Illann won and although Fiéra took shelter behind his father's shield, he was about to be pierced, when the butcher uttered a moan echoed by the voice of the sea. The hero Conall heard it on the threshold of his doorstep. fort. “The king is in danger! He cried, and he leapt to his arms.
In the blink of an eye he was there, a passage opened and believing that it was his king bending under the heavy shield, he dealt Fergus' son a fatal blow. Raising his haggard eyes to him, Illann moans:
- Is that you, Conall? Is it your sword that strikes without knowing who, without knowing that I am fighting to save the sons of Usna from the treachery of Conchobar?
Turning his pain and rage on the other sticking out from under the shield, Conall sent his head flying in the distance. Then he strode away, silent and frowning.

Gathering his last strength, the faithful Illann threw his weapons into the fort of the Red Branch, gave the sons of Usna a last cry for help and, sliding on the green grass, he felt the light darkening in his eyes. and gave up the spirit.
The siege recommenced as night approached. During the first vigil, Ardann contained the mercenaries with a successful counterattack. During the second watch, Aïnli took guard and kept the enemy at a distance. During the third watch, Naisi led the exit and made a terrible massacre of the mercenaries: they lay crowded like dead leaves after the winter in a thick forest.
They were falling too, Naisi's followers, and he wondered if he could withstand a final assault.
“Go up,” he cried to Lavarcame, “quickly climb up the last wall, and see to the east if you don't see Fergus and his men.
When Lavarcame returned, she was even more dejected: she had seen nothing but the green grass and the cattle grazing.
Then Naisi held a last piece of advice with his brothers. After that, they made a strong wall of their men, swords, and shields around Deirdre, and coming out in a single mass, they trampled three hundred hirelings underfoot.
Doubting that he would ever overcome Usna's sons, Conchobar summoned the druid Cathbad, who had friendship for Naisi and his brothers.
- These sons of Usna are brave. My pleasure would be to take them back to my service. You who are loved by them, will find them. Tell them to lay down their arms, to submit and I will return my favor and all the prerogatives of the Red Branch to them. I pledge my word as a king and my faith as a knight.
Confidently, Cathbad carried out his mission. The sons of Usna welcomed these openings with joy, threw down their weapons and went to pay homage! But they were hardly defenseless when the king had them seized and shackled. To find an executioner, he scanned the circle of soldiers; but not an Ulsterian accepted this opprobrium. A stranger named Mainy, whose two brothers had been killed by Naisi in a fair fight, finally signaled that he was ready to obey.
Then Ardann spoke:
- As being the youngest, I ask to be slaughtered first, so as not to see the death of my brothers.
- Me, I was born before Naisi, then said Aïnli, I ask to be struck before him.
"My sword," said Naisi then, "which Lir's son gave me," has the virtue of never leaving the blow it once struck unfinished. May it strike us all. all three together and we will die at the same time.
And Mainy popped all three heads at the same time.
As for Deirdre, she tore her golden hair and cried out in fury and panic. Then, finally calmed down, she remained as if lost, and in a slow chant sang this lament:

The generous lions closed their eyelids
And I am left alone to moan.

The torches of bravery have extinguished their light
And in their night I want to die.

They were my bulwark against wild wolves
And against the meaner man.

Sometimes they put up a fresh bed of leaves for me,
On their shields setting me down.

They carried me away, they rocked me with their deep voices
In the ravines, under the walnut trees.

They were beautiful, they were good, they were brave,
And I rekindled their homes.

The spear raised, when they slaughtered the deer,
When they harpooned the salmon,

They exulted, if I admired with my purple eyes
Their sure eye of young hawks.

Over jealous king I had chosen my master,
My brave, my beloved, my friend.

With him that I lose, I will disappear,
Deirdre, wife of Naisi.

That I loved this independent and rough life
Where every day has its peril!

Where our burning love populated the loneliness
Fires that hid exile from us!

Treachery has tamed your royal run,
Your righteousness in combat:

I want to accompany your too loyal soul,
Who, without me, would not understand.

Friends, dig the pit and wider and deeper,
For the four of us and not for these three:

Deirdre wants to sleep there all her death, happy
With her husband and her kings!

When she had finished exhaling her complaint, she let herself fall on Naisi's body and everything immediately ceased to live. They erected a large stone cairn over the tomb and carved in high Ogham letters the name of Deirdre and the three sons of Usna. "