The Adventure of Conle
“You love simply because you cannot help it”
Conle the Red, son of Conn na Céad Catha , was standing one day on the hill of Uisnech with his father. As they spoke Conle saw a woman approach them and she was dressed in fine clothes.
“How are you and where do you come from?” Conle asked. He thought he knew all the good looking women in his father’s kingdom but he had never seen this one before.
The woman answered him and this is what she said:
I come from the land of the living,
a land that knows neither death, sin nor transgression.
We feast without preparing food
and never quarrel amongst ourselves.
We are called the people of peace.’
‘‘Who are you talking to son?’’ Conn interupted wondering why his son was talking to himself, for only Conle could see the woman.
The faerie woman answered him:
“He speaks to a woman of noble birth,
who is never threatened by death or old age.
I love Conle the Red and I call upon him
to come with me to a place
where he will retain his beauty and become immortal’’
Conn became greatly concerned and realising the sí were about and he called upon Corán, his druid to drive her away. The druid sang against her voice and his chanting was so powerful that she began to gradually disappear. Before she disappeared however, she threw Conle an apple which he automatically caught.
The next day Conle ate no food. Nor did any drink pass his lips. The only thing he would eat was his apple, which the fairy woman had given him and that remained whole, regardless of how much he ate of it. As time went by his longing for this strange woman increased. A month later as father ans son stood at the coast, looking out to sea, she appeared again and cried out to Conle:
“There Conle sits amongst the mortals and awaiting death.
The immortals invite you to their land.
Come and join us!”
Conn, who heard the voice, but still could not see anyone knew immediately who it was and called out in desperation for his druid, but she called out to him:
“Conn, your druid cannot help you for his powers are too weak!
Your charms won’t work against me this time!’’
Conle had been silent all this time. Conn asked him what was wrong.
“What’s wrong with you son? Why won’t you speak? Can’t you say something? Help me get rid of her. She’s up to no good!”
Conle did not respond for a while but succumbing to his father’s desperation swallowed hard and gathering his words together spoke earnestly to his father
’’It is not easy for me, for I love my people and it pains me to ever have to leave them but I long to be with this woman. She is the woman I love and I know that she cannot live here amongst us and because she cannot live here and I must go with her. I cannot live without her!’’
The woman encouraged him by saying:
You have a longing to go over the sea
and we shall go this very evening.
A glass boat and we will reach the land of Boadach,
a land that makes every man happy for it is only inhabited by girls.’’
It is not recorded how Conn reacted to this, but we can imagine that he reacted the same way any parent would when they realised they were going to lose their child for good. His druid could not help him and he himself was powerless to do anything. In any case he didn’t have any time for when she had finished speaking Conle jumped into the waiting boat and rowed with her into the sea. From this day on he was never seen again.
“Come away, o human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping
than you understand.”
W. B Yeats