light and shadow

This poem takes root in Irish mythology… the story of Fionn & Sadhbh.

Epilogue with background story to follow.


A dark sorcerer turns the beautiful maiden, Sadhbh (pron. Sive), into a doe with a magic hazel wand after she spurns his romantic advances. For 3 years, she wandered as a deer until a servant of the dark sorcerer took pity and told her she would transform to a human as soon as she entered the dún (fortress) of the Fianna.

The Fianna were great Irish warrior horsemen, famous for their adventures throughout ancient Ireland. Their heroic leader at this time was Fionn MacCumhaill (pron. Finn McCool – I know, great name, right?).

Interesting side note: WB Yeats’ famous epitaph (and closing lines of Under Ben Bulben) bleakly references the Fianna with “Horseman, pass by”.

Upon wandering into the Fianna fortress, Sadhbh is transformed back to a human. Fionn fell deeply in love with Sadhbh immediately – a love and passion for the ages – and they were soon married. They were inseparable. Sadhbh quickly became pregnant.

When the Vikings attempted to invade Kerry, Fionn and his Fianna departed to defend the motherland. While away, the dark sorcerer found Sadhbh and magically disguised himself as Fionn. She ran from the safety of the dún to embrace her lover, and the sorcerer turned her back to a doe. This time fixing his spell so neither the dún nor Fionn could protect her.

Upon returning from a successful battle, Fionn realized his pregnant wife was gone, and his heart shattered. For 7 years, he searched high and low for her, but she was never found.

At the end of these 7 years, they found a wild boy in the forest. Fionn knew immediately this was his son, as he greatly resembled his mother. Fionn took him home and named the child Oisín (pron. Oh-sheen) – a boy destined to become as famous as his father in Irish folklore. But that’s a story for another day.

I hope this vignette into the aftermath of these tragic events touches your heart reading it as much as it did my heart writing it. Sláinte! ☘ ☘ ☘


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