The Endless Love of Baile and AillinnBecome a Patron!
Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales tales of Ireland
The TrueLove of Baile and Aillinn
Baile the son of Buan was renowned through Ulster and all of Ireland for his tale-telling, and loved for his his kindly nature, but most of all by by Aillinn, daughter of Lughaidh. From afar they shared sweet messages and poetry, and as time passed she grew to love him more and more, and he in kind. Everyone spoke well of them and looked forward to their first meeting.
But the mischievous wee folk of the ancient places grew jealous when they heard about this, and so they whispered in the dreams of the druids and seers that never in this life would the two be together. In the fogs of sorcerous fires and the rolling of the bones it was proclaimed, but the two lovers paid no heed.
They decided to meet at Ros na Rí, in the house of Mael Dubh on the banks of the Boyne, and each set out on their journey. Baile went south from Emain Macha until he reached trá Baile, that is Baile's beach, where the chariots were unyoked and they began to dance, play music and drink mead in high spirits.
The suddenly they saw in the distance a man approach, and he was a strange sort of man, with limbs of different length and a cold face like stone. He moved in fits and starts, erratically going from one place to the next with great speed, then stopping for a while.
Curious as to the nature of this apparition, Baile went to him and asked him his business.
“To Tuaig-Inber I am going and back northward now from Mount Leinster, and I have no news but that the daughter of Lughaidh, son of Fergus, has given love to Baile, son of Buan, and was coming to meet him, when the warriors of Leinster overtook her and killed her, as druids and good seers foretold of them, that they would not meet in life. This is my news.”
Then the stranger flew swift as an arrow away across the waters.
Struck to his heart with sorrow and grief, poor Baile dropped dead at the news, and his men raised a great mourning over his passing. A tall stone rath they built, and upon it grew a yew tree. In later years, the top of this tree formed itself into a likeness of Baile's head, to the astonishment of all.
Meanwhile the unsettling stranger flew on his way southwards, where he came across the maiden Aillinn, and was likewise asked his news and business.
“I have no news worth lamenting here,” he said, “but by the side of trá Baile I saw the men of Ulster at funeral games, digging a rath and placing a stone and writing the name of Baile, son of Buan, the royal heir of Ulster, who was coming to meet a sweetheart and lady-love to whom he had sworn himself, for it is not their fate to meet in life.”
And off the stranger flew again, as Aillinn gave a great and grievous wail, keening to silence the world, and then swooned into death. Where she was buried an apple tree grew, and after seven years the shape of Aillinn's head grew on its top.
After seven years the poets cut the wooden heads from atop the yew and apple trees, and shaped them into tablets, on which they wrote the love poetry, marriages and wooings of Ulster and Leinster.
Then one Halloween, a great feast was held by king Cormac. He invited poets and men of high art and deep craft to share the celebrations at his table. One of them had brought the tablet of Baile, and another the tablet of Aillinn. His curiosity aroused, the king had both tablets brought to him, and held one in each hand, facing each other.
Then to the astonishment of all, the two leaped from his hands and stuck together, twining round one another in an unbreakable embrace! And they were kept thereafter like the other jewels and treasures in the treasury at Tara.
Below on the map is marked the river Boyne, in Ireland.
Further Folk and Faerie Tales of Ireland
Once upon a time there was a poor woman with three daughters, and one day the eldest decided to seek her fortunes in the world. “Mother,” she said, “bake me a cake and kill my chicken, for I am away to the wide world.” And so her mother did just that, and when all was ready, her mother asked “which will you have ... [more]
A fair witch crept to a young man's side, And he kissed her and took her for his bride. But a shape came in at the dead of night, And filled the room with snowy light. And he saw how in his arms there lay A thing more frightful than words may say. And he rose in haste, and followed the Shape Till morning crowned an eastern cape. ... [more]
Once upon a time, not so long ago, a lovely young couple had just gotten married in the Irish countryside. It was a wonderful ceremony and all had remarked on how beautiful the bride looked, when suddenly their festivities and dancing were interrupted by the groom, who rushed into the crowd shouting that his Margaret was missing! Well they ... [more]
They do say that once upon a time, long ago, there lived a lady of great beauty in a castle on a lake, and her hair was fair as gold, shining in the summer sun. She had been promised to a king's son, the lord of a nearby kingdom, but as he was coming to see her one dark November evening, who should come upon him but the warriors of a jealous lo ... [more]
One evening in late November, which is the time of year when the spirits of Ireland have the most power, the prettiest girl in all the land was going to the ancient well for water. Then, as chance would have it, her foot turned on a loose stone, and she fell. It was bad luck, but when she got back to her feet, it seemed as though she was in a stran ... [more]
Baile the son of Buan was renowned through Ulster and all of Ireland for his tale-telling, and loved for his his kindly nature, but most of all by by Aillinn, daughter of Lughaidh. From afar they shared sweet messages and poetry, and as time passed she grew to love him more and more, and he in kind. Everyone spoke well of them and looked forward to ... [more]
In the olden days there was a man who played the pipes, but he was not famous for it, or if he was it was for the wrong reasons, since he had but the one tune, a jaunty jig called The Black Rogue. Now it happened one dark night that he was on his way home after entertaining the gentlemen, and with a few pence in his pocket and a few drinks under hi ... [more]
Times were hard in Ireland back years ago, and while some might say they've had it tough today, it was not a patch on the hardships people endured in times gone by. And so it was with Michael McGovern, a poor farmer with hardly an acre of stony soil to rent, who looked upon his three young sons with love for the life of them and fear for their ... [more]
There was a prince in Ireland a long, long time ago, back when Ireland still had princes, and O'Donall was his name. A brave fellow he was, and powerful, but given to risk and heedless thrills in his hunting and leaping and running and swimming, all the better to impress his friends. He was lord of a wide land, and he wasn't hard on the poo ... [more]
A woman was out one day looking after her sheep in the valley, and coming by a little stream she sat down to rest, when suddenly she seemed to hear the sound of low music, and turning round, beheld at some distance a crowd of people dancing and making merry. And she grew afraid and turned her head away not to see them. Then close by her stood a you ... [more]
They say that in Ireland you will enjoy all four seasons in a day, but on this day the four seasons were high and glorious summer, or so it seemed to Tom Fitzpatrick as he walked along a narrow road between two tall hedges in harvest time. As he walked, he chanced to hear a strange ringing like a tiny bell, and he paused, puzzled as to what it migh ... [more]
Connla of the Fiery Hair was one of the sons of Conn of the Hundred Battles, and his favourite son, a swift and agile warrior with a voice that could make the mountains tremble. Himself and his father climbed the heights of Usna on Samhain, when he saw coming towards them a slender maiden of great beauty, clad in strange clothes. “Where do ... [more]
Strange are the ways of the Fairies of Ireland, and strange the look about them, but for all their wild and untamed manner they follow rules written in the ripples of willow-branches on still ponds, and laws murmured by the echo of birdsong in deep wells. Once there was a woman sitting in her cottage, a humble enough abode, and she was making wo ... [more]
There are many types of fairy in Ireland, some more risky than others, and some to be avoided due to their habits rather than out of any particular malevolence. Such a one is the Gan Ceanach, whose name means “Without Love”. Although you might think such a title would indicate a friendless creature of a lonely nature lacking in socia ... [more]
There are a great many raths or fairy forts of old scattered throughout Ireland today, numbering in the tens of thousands, and it is here, the wise say, that the good people or fairy folk gather to hold their revels. Nobody would dare to cross, let alone build on a fairy dwelling in the past, marking as they did the boundary between our civilise ... [more]
Near to the town of Fermoy in Ireland lies the great stack of Cairn Thierna, not as wide about nor as tall as some mountains perhaps but feared and respected by the local people nonetheless. For all around it and along its flanks are tall heaps of stones they say are the work of the fairy folk, or the old people who lived here long ago. And you ... [more]
On the road going down to Cork there's an old set of four walls that used to once be called Ronayne's Court. Although there's little enough to see of it nowadays still the stack of the chimneys stands proud, and on it can be seen the coat of arms of the family that built it and used to live there. They were a fine couple and had one ... [more]
It was known in times past in Ireland that there were men and women who could talk to the fairies, ask favours from them, and even live among them, and some used this acquaintance to work their will on the world, for good or for ill. Most famous, perhaps, among these people were the fairy healers of old. Biddy Early is the best known of their ki ... [more]
James Mac Neill was as strapping a young fellow as you could hope to meet, and likely with it. Never did he walk away from a tussle or a drink, and never far from his hand was his shillelagh. He had no fears save the lacking of a pint, no cares except for who would pay for it, and not a thought in his head but how to have fun after it. One cold ... [more]
Maurice Mulreaney was well known for travelling about the countryside without fear of anything living or otherwise, as quick to cross a graveyard or fairy mound as you or I would be to cross the street, for he didn't believe in that which he couldn't see with his own two eyes or touch with his own two hands, and he didn't bother with ol ... [more]