In Celtic Mythology the land of eternal youth and eternal life did exist, is this just a fable or does it have any substance in our thinking to day of U.F.O.s and our parents from The Planet of the eternals.
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Irish Myths and Legends Tir Na nOg and eternal youth
From the land of the living to a magical world, read the story of Oisin and enter the gateway to Tir Na nOg…..
The legend of Tir Na nOg, the land of youth, is one that every Irish person is familiar with and one that many of us wish was true! The quest for eternal youth has obsessed man through the ages and legends such as Tir Na nOg inspire us to dream.
Tir Na nOg was an enchanted land where the beautiful Tuatha de Danann lived. According to Celtic mythology, the Tuatha De Danann were the last generation of gods and goddesses to rule Ireland and they were possessed with magical abilities and great skills in the Arts. They were eventually conquered in battle but were allowed to stay in Ireland if they remained underground. From then on they became known as the Celtic fairies we read about in ancient myth.
The story of Tir Na nOg is closely linked to the story of Oisin, one of the great heroes and poets of ancient Ireland. Oisin was the son of Fionn Mac Cumhal and he became a member of Fionn’s band of legendary heroes, the Fianna. The Fianna possessed enormous courage, strength and skill in hunting and war and they also lived by a high moral code. One of the Fianna principles was to marry only for love - and not money!
Fionn and the Fianna were eventually defeated in battle but Oisin’s adventures were only beginning. One day while out hunting, a beautiful maiden approached him. Her name was Niamh of the Golden Hair, one of the Tuatha De Danann and the daughter of Manannan, the god of the sea. Niamh chose Oisin to be her lover and live with her in Tir Na nOg.
They travelled through many strange and wonderful lands on her magic white horse until eventually they reached Tir Na nOg. There they were married and lived a long and happy life together in this enchanted fairyland.
Nobody ever grew old or sick in Tir Na nOg and Oisin spent 300 years there without looking or feeling a day older! But even the land of eternal youth couldn’t banish memories and he began to miss his people and his home terribly. Niamh understood his need to visit the mortal world again and see his friends and she provided him with a fairy horse to take him there. She warned him however that he must not set foot on the earth – if he did, he would never be able to return.
Oisin arrived back in Ireland to see that much had changed over 300 years! Fionn and his men were long dead and the Fianna were by now the stuff of legends. Oisin didn’t like what he saw and decided to return to Tir Na nOg and his beloved Niamh. On his way back he came across some men trying to lift a heavy rock and bent down to help them. Tragedy struck when he slipped from the saddle and fell to the ground. Oisin fell on mortal soil and was instantly transformed into an old blind man.
He wandered Ireland for many years before St. Patrick took him into his house and tried to convert him to Christianity. Oisin told St. Patrick everything about Fionn and the warriors of ancient Ireland and Tir Na nOg. He eventually died without ever again setting eyes upon Niamh and Tir Na nOg.
And thus the story of Tir Na nOg ends with something that we all know well by now: Eternal youth is for fairies and not mortals - but that shouldn’t stop us dreaming!