One of the greatest and perhaps the manipulative romantic legend of the Irish myth is of Diarmuid and Grainne. The story to an extent is similar the legends of Kind Arthur and his love for his wife Guinevere and right-hand man Sir Lancelot. Long ago in the state of Ireland and during the time of Fianna lived the greatest and most famous warrior in Finn mac Cumhaill’s leadership named Diarmuid O’Duibhne. While Grainne was the most beautiful woman of Ireland and the daughter of the daughter of Cormac MacAirt, the High King of Ireland. Their tale is full of manipulation, heartbreak, betrayal, lust, and most importantly love.
The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne
The tale begins with Diarmuid in his childhood. He was the son of a man named Donn and was raised along with his half-brother; the son of a man named Roc. One day the son of Roc was scared by an animal and so he ran and hid between the legs of Donn. Donn squeezed the kid until he was dead. When Roc found his child’s broken body he was shattered and thus cursed him in rage. He performed a magical ceremony and brought his son back to life in the body of a wild boar. He put a geasa over the boar to kill Donn’s son Diarmuid. Roc knew that Diarmuid has a geasa that he won’t ever pierce the skin of a pig and thus would not be able to kill the boar. Then Roc set free the boar into the jungle until he is prepared to execute the plan.
In the meanwhile, Diarmuid grew to be one of the greatest warriors of Fianna and passed the rigorous tests to be in the army. He was loyal to Finn Mac Cumhaill and saved his life several times. In the process, both became great friends, but Diarmuid was not just a warrior but a heartthrob for thousands of girls as well. He was recognized very beautiful as he was born with the Bol Sherca in the middle of his forehead. A Bol Sherca is a magical spot that can make anyone fall in love with Diarmuid who saw it. Diarmuid also knew that this would cause him more trouble than peace and so he hid it by keeping long hairs that cover his forehead.
Finn Mac Cumhaill was the most powerful man in Fianna and had magical powers to heal anyone who drank water from his hands. He was feisty, honorable, and desired but he knew that these years will only grow on him leaving him uncared and alone. Thus, he planned to get married and discussed the same with his comrades. They all agreed that the only woman in Ireland fit to be his wife was the daughter of the High King Cormac Mac Airt. Grainne was courted by Ireland’s most eligible Princes and Chieftains, who all her life had been in love with a boy she has seen when she was 12 playing hurling, the wind had blown his hair back from his face, and she had fallen in love with him.
But when she heard that Finn Mac Cumhail had sent her proposal, she was flattered. She decided that she had waited enough for that boy, and it is now time to move on. Grainne said yes to the marriage. A great feast was held to celebrate their soon-to-be union. When she peeked through the curtain to see her future husband, was surprised to see that Finn was an old man who had a son almost her age. She immediately regretted her decision but was helpless to do otherwise. Just then Finn moved out of the way, and she saw a man seated next to him- Diarmuid O’Duibhne. Grainne was shocked to see that Diarmuid was the same boy she was in love with all along. Now Grainne was confident to whom she shall marry.
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Grainne put a sleeping posset in the wine and passed it through everyone in the room. Soon everyone was asleep except her and Diarmuid. She put a geasa on him to run away with her and Diarmuid had no other choice than to accept her decision. Though he felt pain as he had never betrayed Finn, he could not go against a geasa. Unhappily Diarmuid went away with Grainne. The next morning when Finn woke up, he was in a rage as his dearest friend has betrayed him. He ordered a mass hunt to track the lovers down and bring them to him.
On the run, Diarmuid and Grainne met with Aengus Óg, the god of love who blessed the couple and approved their match however also warned them that their life ahead would be full of danger and mistreat. He told them that they were never going to be able to sleep in a house with one door and never be able to eat where they cooked, or sleep where they ate. They would have to keep moving.
For a very long time, Finn chased them, but they were never caught. On his way, Finn would find raw meat or fish left by Diarmuid as a message that he had not touched Grainne. But one day when a splash of water hit her thighs, she shamed Diarmuid by saying that water has more courage than him. Diarmuid made her his wife that day and left no more messages from then onwards. One night, the couple slept in a house with seven doors and was caught up by Finn. Each man from Fianna guarded each gate with the seventh one guarded by Finn himself. Diarmuid sent Grainne with Aengus Óg to safety and then set out to face them. He was allowed to cross all the doors but when he went to the last door, Finn threatened to kill him. Diarmuid tricked him and jumped over their heads and ran away to join Gráinne.
After years of running and never being able to rest at a place at one time, the couple decided to make peace with Finn. They visited his castle and apologized to him for everything. Finn also agreed to put aside his anger and welcomed them back. Finn and Diarmuid were friends again, but Grainne always remembered the warning of Aengus Óg.
Years later, Finn and Diarmuid went hunting in the forest where they encountered a wild boar who directly attacked Diarmuid fatally injuring him. The wild boar was Roc’s son who completed his geasa by injuring Diarmuid. The dying Diarmuid asked Finn for water so he could save his life. Finn agreed and went to the river, and carried water back to Diarmuid, but at the last moment, he remembered with bitterness how Diarmuid betrayed him by running with Grainne. In anger he let the water trickle out of his fingers. When regained his consciousness and once again brought water for Diarmuid- it was too late as his friend had already died.