148 The European Sky- God.
She had come to claim Finn's son as her husband. To Oisin, who fell in love with her at sight, she described her home :
' It is the country is most beautiful of all that are under the sun ; the trees are stooping down with fruit and with leaves and with blossom.
Honey and wine are plentiful there, and everything the eye has ever seen ; no wasting will come on you with the wasting away of time ; you will never see death or lessening.
You will get the royal crown of the King of the Young that he never gave to any one under the sun. It will be a shelter to you night and day in every rough fight and in every battle.'
Oisin, dazzled by the prospect, bade his father farewell, and went off with Niamh on the white horse across the sea. On their way, among other marvels, they saw a young girl on a brown horse pursued by a young man on a white horse : the girl held a golden apple ; the man had a crimson cloak and a gold-hilted sword. In the Country of the Young, the Country of Victory, Oisin wedded Niamh. He had by her two sons and a daughter, on whom she bestowed a wreath and crown of kingly gold. Three hundred years later he was fain to revisit Erin, and did so, traversing the sea on the white horse. He was, however, warned by Niamh not to dismount from his charger, on pain of becoming an old man withered and blind. In a moment of forgetfulness he disobeyed her bidding, and paid the penalty.
In The Sick-bed of Cuchulain^ one of the best-known episodes of the Ultonian cycle, occurs a parallel to the
^ There is a text and translation by O'Curry in Atlantis i. 362 ff., ii. 98 ff., by Bryan O'Looney in Gilbert's Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland 1874-1878 i. pi. 37 f., ii. appendix 4, A-I ; a text and para- phrase by Windisch in Irische Texte i. 197 ff. ; a French rendering by G. Dottin and H. D'Arbois L'ipopie celtique p. 170 ff. ; English renderings by Lady Gregory Ctichnlain of Muirthemne p. 276 ff. and, more literally, by A. H. Leahy Her-oic Romances i. 51 ff.