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How old was Oisin in Celtic Mythology?

Celtic mythology is full of fascinating stories and characters, but one of the most prominent and beloved figures is Oisin, the poet and warrior of Ireland. Oisin was the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, the legendary leader of the Fianna, a band of heroic warriors who defended Ireland from invaders and monsters. Oisin inherited his father’s courage and skill in battle, but he also had a gift for eloquence and poetry, which he learned from his mother Sadhbh, a goddess who was turned into a deer by a druid.

Oisin’s life was full of adventures and wonders, but also of love and sorrow. He traveled across Ireland and beyond with his father and the Fianna, fighting enemies and making friends. He composed many poems and songs that celebrated the deeds and virtues of his people. He also encountered many supernatural beings, such as fairies, giants, and gods.

But perhaps his most famous and tragic adventure was his journey to Tir na nOg, the Land of Youth, where he fell in love with Niamh, the daughter of the sea god Manannan mac Lir. Niamh invited Oisin to join her in her father’s realm, where time stood still and no one ever grew old or died. Oisin agreed and left Ireland with her on a magical horse.

How did Oisin lose his youth?

Oisin and Niamh lived happily in Tir na nOg for what seemed like three years to him, but in fact was three hundred years in earthly time. They had two sons, Oscar and Finn, and a daughter, Plor na mBan. Oisin enjoyed the beauty and peace of Tir na nOg, but he also missed his father and his friends in Ireland. He asked Niamh if he could visit them once more. Niamh agreed, but warned him not to touch the ground or he would never be able to return to Tir na nOg.

Oisin rode back to Ireland on Niamh’s horse Embarr, but he found it changed beyond recognition. The Fianna were gone, the people were smaller and weaker, and Christianity had replaced the old religion. He searched for his father’s home on Almu Hill, but he found it ruined and deserted.

As he wandered around, he saw some men trying to move a large stone. He offered to help them by lifting it onto their wagon. But as he did so, the girth of his saddle broke and he fell to the ground. As soon as his feet touched the earth, he aged rapidly and became a blind and withered old man who was over 300 years old. His horse ran away and returned to Tir na nOg.

What happened to Oisin after that?

Oisin was found by some monks who took pity on him and brought him to their monastery. There he met Saint Patrick, who had brought Christianity to Ireland. Oisin told Saint Patrick about his life with Fionn and the Fianna, and about his love for Niamh and Tir na nOg. Saint Patrick tried to convert Oisin to Christianity, but Oisin refused to abandon his old beliefs.

Oisin died soon after telling his stories to Saint Patrick. He never saw Niamh or Tir na nOg again. But his poems and songs lived on in the oral tradition of Ireland for centuries, until they were written down by later poets and scholars.

Published Date

15 April, 2023


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