Hardly a mythology exists that doesn’t include a “Land of Eternal Youth” tale. It could be a Shangra-La, isolated in a mountain valley somewhere or Ultima Thule for those brave souls who travel to the Northern Realms. There are Gypsy versions and Japanese variations, but, for my money, the Irish story is the most haunting in its terrible beauty and tragic end. How else can the Irish see things?
Tir Na Nog–Land of the Young. No, it is not a place on a distant and dismal shore across a dreadful river where the dead go to reside. Indeed, it’s a place of beauty and love and youth. Those who dwell there, however, are not mere mortals, they are god-like in a way. But it is a paradise. You stay there and everything stays fine…you are forever young.
But, as with all good things, there is a string attached. It’s only a minor point, though–you see, you can never leave Tir Na Nog. In truth, you can leave…but you can never return. This is not like leaving behind a dusty farm town full of broken-hearted maidens…and perhaps a child or two. There is more at stake here.
If you get restless, and you find the path out…you’d better think twice, for if you depart, you must never touch the ground of the outside world. If you do, by accident or intention, serious stuff will happen to you. Age will fall on your body very, very fast. If you lived 500 years in Tir Na Nog, well, you’ll soon look like a fast forward video of Joan Rivers’ life.
In the ancient day of Irish past, Niamh of the Golden Hair led the hero, Oisin to the “Land of the Young.” (Don’t ask, it’s a long story.) Oisin, a mortal, needed a guide to take him to that magical place. That’s the way it is in journey stories. The guide could be Gandalf, Yoda or Virgil.
In my case, it was Mariam, my wife. She saw this house and she loved it.
Which takes us to our home in the Adirondacks and the completion of the Tir Na Nog connection. We moved here full-time in 2011. We came up from New York City (now, there’s a place that can age you fast).
Our bodies are older now but our spirit has grown younger. Instead of collapsing on the sofa from riding the No. 2 train from downtown, we now collapse from kayaking for five hours or hiking ten miles. We continue to age when we visit the City, but, it seems to be at a faster rate.
So, I’ve come to the end of my story, sort of.
The real end is this:
- We bought a camp on a lake.
- We named it Tir Na Nog.
[Thanks to Wikipedia]