It happened that on a misty summer morning as Finn and Oisin with many companions were hunting on the shores of Loch Lena they saw coming towards them a maiden, exceedingly beautiful, riding on a snow-white steed. She wore the garb of a queen; a crown of gold was on her head, and a dark-brown mantle of silk, set with stars of red gold, fell around her and trailed on the ground. Silver shoes were on her horse's hoofs, and a crest of gold nodded on his head. When she came near she said to Finn, "From very far away I have come, and now at last I have found you, Finn son of Cumhal."
Then Finn said, "What is your land and race, maiden, and what do you seek from me?
"My name," she said, "is Niam of the Golden Hair. I am the daughter of the King of the Land of Youth, and that which has brought me here is the love of your son Oisin." Then she turned to Oisin, and she spoke to him in the voice of one who has never asked anything but it was granted to her.
"Will you go with me, Oisin, to my father's land?"
And Oisin said, "That will I, and to the world's end," for the fairy spell had so wrought upon his heart that he cared no more for any earthly thing but to have the love of Niam of the Head of Gold.
Then the maiden spoke of the Land Oversea to which she had summoned her lover, and as she spoke a dreamy stillness fell on all things, nor did a horse shake his bit, nor a hound bay, nor the least breath of wind stir in the forest trees till she had made an end. And what she said seemed sweeter and more wonderful as she spoke it than anything they could afterwards remember to have heard, but so far as they could remember it it was this:
"Delightful is the land beyond all dreams,
As the magic song ended the Fians beheld Oisin mount the fairy steed and hold the maiden in his arms, and ere they could stir or speak she turned her horse's head and shook the ringing bridle, and down the forest glade they fled, as a beam of light flies over the land when clouds drive across the sun; and never did the Fianna behold Oisin son of Finn on earth again.
Yet what befell him afterwards is known. As his birth was strange, so was his end, for he saw the wonders of the Land of Youth with mortal eyes and lived to tell them with mortal lips.
The Journey to Fairyland
At length, coming from the forest path into the great clearing where the Hill of Allen was wont to rise, broad and green, with its rampart enclosing many white-walled dwellings, and the great hall towering high in the midst, he saw but grassy mounds overgrown with rank weeds and whin bushes, and among them pastured a peasant's kine. Then a strange horror fell upon him and he thought some enchantment from the land of Sidhe held his eyes and mocked him with false visions. He threw his arms abroad and shouted the names of Finn and Oscar, but none replied, and he thought that perchance the hounds might hear him, so he cried upon Bran and Skolawn and strained his ears if they might catch the faintest rustle or whisper of the world from the sight of which his eyes were holden, but he heard only the sighing of the wind in the whins. Then he rode in terror from that place, setting his face towards the eastern sea, for he meant to traverse Ireland from side to side and end to end in search of some escape from his enchantment
The Broken Spell
When the people saw that the doom that had been wrought was not for them they returned, and found the old man prone on the ground with his face hidden in his arms. So they lifted him up, and asked who he was and what had befallen him. Oisin gazed round on them with dim eyes, and at last he said, "I was Oisin the son of Finn, and I pray you tell me where he dwells, for his dun on the Hill of Allen is now a desolation, and I have neither seen him nor heard his hunting-horn from the western to the eastern sea." Then the men gazed strangely on each other and on Oisin, and the overseer asked, "Of what Finn do you speak, for there be many of that name in Erin?" Oisin said, "Surely of Finn mac Cumhal mac Trenmor, captain of the Fianna of Erin." Then the overseer said, "You are daft, old man, and you have made us daft to take you for a youth as we did a while ago. But we at least have now our wits again and we know that Finn son of Cumhal and all his generation have been dead these three hundred years. At the battle of Gowra fell Oscar, son of Oisin, and Finn at the battle of Brea, as the historians tell us; and the lays of Oisin, whose death no man knows the manner of, are sung by our harpers at great men's feasts. But now the Talkenn, Patrick has come into Ireland and has preached to us the One God and Christ His Son, by whose might these old days and ways are done away with; and Finn and his Fianna, with their feasting and hunting and songs of war and of love, have no such reverence among us as the monks and virgins of Holy Patrick, and the psalms and prayers that go up daily to cleanse us from sin and to save us from the fire of judgment." But Oisin replied, only half hearing and still less comprehending what was said to him, "If your God has slain Finn and Oscar, I would say that God is a strong man." Then they all cried out upon him, and some picked up stones, but the overseer bade them let him be until the Talkenn had spoken with him, and till he should order what was to be done.