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Irish Mythology

The Tuatha de Danaan: Midhir and Etain

pre-12th century—present. Old Irish | Modern Irish, folklore.

Ailell oversleeps. However, a man having the appearance of Ailell arrives at the trysting place.

Ailell, the brother of the High King of Ireland, has fallen in love with the King’s wife, Etain. He lies in his bed, unable to get up, so overcome is he with sickness of the heart.

The High King is called away and instructs his wife Etain to look after his brother Ailell. She soon discovers the cause of his illness and one day, tells him that she knows how to effect a cure. She will meet him secretly at dawn the next day in a place where they will be alone; and she will, reluctantly, give him his desire.

At the appointed time, Ailell oversleeps. However, a man having the appearance of Ailell arrives at the trysting place. Etain senses a difference in his demeanour and challenges him. Twice this happens. On the third morning he tells her that his name is Midhir and that he is of the Tuatha de Danaan, the People of the Goddess Dana who now live in the hills and the secret places of Ireland. He was once her husband, he tells her. She is surprised to hear this, since she has no recollection of ever being married to him.

Story fragment recounted from: Gregory, Lady A., 1904. Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, Arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory. John Murray, London. Reprinted, 1998. Irish Myths and Legends. Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia, USA. Part One: The Gods. Book IV: The Ever-living Living Ones. Chapter 7: Midhir and Etain, pp 100–11.


The Wooing of Etain – Wikipedia

Etain – Wikipedia

Myths and Legends of the Celts – English translations by Thomas Rolleston

Gods and Fighting Men – ancient tales of Ireland put into English by Lady Augusta Gregory. 1904. Project Gutenberg.


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