Scary stories from a lovely place
Here he is. Born on the 24th June, weighing 2.965kg Oisín Harold Reid has made us four. Now Stephen and I have one each. And in the early mornings that is quite literally what it feels like.
Oisín is very cute, of course. And tiny. And really hairy. He has dark hair on his head, cheeks, back, shoulders, ears. It comes from Stephen, who is not particularly hairy, but he has all the dark colours. This is how Oisín is different from Silas.
If you’re wondering about the name, join the queue. It’s Gaelic and in common usage in Ireland, Stephen’s home. It means ‘Little Deer’. We wondered about the wisdom of giving Oisín a true Gaelic name, spelling and all, but we are comfortable in the decision now. No, it’s not pronounced ‘Oysin’ and no, jokes aren’t appreciated. It’s pronouned ‘Uh-sheen’, with the emphasis on the first syllable. No, not ‘Uh-sheem’ and no it’s not middle eastern, despite the hair.
There are lots of cool Gaelic folkloric stories to be read about Oisín. His story is also intertwined with many others. And like all good folklore it’s not made up, Ireland really is a magical place. I’ll leave you to fill in the details, but as a crash course the story of Oisín goes like this.
Oisín is the son of Fionn Mac Cumhaill (pron Finn McCool) and a beautiful woman who had been turned into a deer by a sage. Fionn was the leader of the Fianna, a Spartan type band of forest warriors. Oisín passed all their initiation rites and then became a legendary member of the Fianna.
One day when Oisín was leading the Fianna he met a beautiful blonde woman riding a white horse and wearing a long blue dress adorned with silver stars. This was Niamh (pron Nieve), the princess of Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth. She had heard of Oisín’s famed warrior spirit, courage and skill as a poet. Oisín returned with her to the land of youth where he lived for hundreds of years.
But Oisín longed for home and the friendship of his Fianna brothers and father. Niamh, concerned for Oisín traveling back to his home land instructed him to take her white horse and not to dismount. Once back home Oisín, devastated to find everyone he knew long dead, helps some men move an enormous boulder. He falls from Niamh’s horse and as soon as he touches the ground is transformed into an old man, no longer under the spell of eternal youth. Never able to return again to Niamh or Tír na nÓg Oisín is cared for until his death by St Patrick who records his story.
Hopefully our Oisín will somehow be able to follow in his namesake’s footsteps, not so much in the land of eternal youth stuff, but in the courage, the poetry writing and the love for his family and home.