The Fate of the Son of Usnach

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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A fine poem—The Fate of the Son of Usnach—relates the trials of Deirdri the Fair. Dr. Keating has this version: "Caffa the Druid foreboded and prophesied for the daughter (Deirdri, just born), that numerous mischiefs and losses would happen the Province (Ulster) on her account. Upon hearing this, the nobles proposed to put her to death forthwith. 'Let it not be done so,' cried Conor (King), 'but I will take her with me, and send her to be reared, that she may become my own wife.'" It was in her close retreat that she was seen and loved by Naisi, the son of Usnach, and this brought on a fearful war between Ulster and Alba.

The Book of Leinster has the story of one that loved the Queen, who returned the compliment, but was watched too well to meet with him. He, however, and his foster-brother, were turned, by a Druidic spell, into two beautiful birds, and so gained an entrance to the lady's bower, making their escape again by a bird transformation. The King had some suspicion, and asked his Druid to find out the secret. The next time the birds flew, the King had his watch; and, as soon as they resumed their human appearance, he set upon them and killed both.

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