Irish Couples of the Ages

Posted by Brendan O' Rourke on the 13th of February 2012 at 09:54:45

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so we whipped out the history books and searched through Ireland’s past for some of its more romantic stories. The result: our top three Irish Couples of the Ages.

Diarmuid and Grainne

Lay Me Down
Diarmuid and Gráinne

Our first Irish Couple of the Ages is Diarmuid and Gráinne. Theirs is a story of love and loss. A story of two star crossed lovers who were pursued for their illicit affair. A story that goes a little something like this:

Fionn was the leader of a warrior band called the Fianna, but after the death of his wife Maigneis, the cold and lonely nights became a bit too much to bear. So off went his men and found the beautiful Gráinne (daughter of the High King Cormac mac Airt) and just like that they set a date. However when it came to their betrothal feast, Gráinne had already started to feel the chill of cold feet. Fionn was quite a bit older than her and she’d spent the whole night making eyes at one of Fionn’s hunky warriors – Diarmuid.

So she did what any girl would do in this situation and she slipped all the guests a trickle of sleeping potion… all bar one – Diarmuid, who she tried to persuade to run away with her. Diarmuid decided to play hard to get and refused to run away out of loyalty to Fionn. But he quickly gave in after she threatened him with a magic spell.

So off the two went on their jolly way evading Fionn and his men at every turn. The chase went on for quite some time, covering much of the island of Ireland and the couple’s resting places have become known as “Diarmuid and Gráinne’s beds”. It all got a bit tense for a while, but thanks to Diarmuid’s foster father Aengus, peace was made between the two and the lovers settled in Keshcorran, County Sligo where they had five children. But alack, alas, all good things must come to an end, and one day Diarmuid and Fionn embarked on a manly boar hunt – which would result in Diarmuid’s death leaving Gráinne heartbroken for the rest of her life.

There are many variations of this story, but the folklore still lives on today in some of Ireland’s most beautiful regions, where you just might stumble across one of Diarmuid and Gráinne’s beds.

Yeats and Gonne

She’s gone, gone, Gonne…
Yeats and Maud Gonne

He is one of if not Ireland’s most celebrated of literary figures. But for all his talent, it didn’t make him immune to love or worse… unrequited love. Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please for Irish Couple of the Ages number two: W.B.Yeats and Maud Gonne.

The pair met back in 1889 – Yeats at the tender age of 24 and Ms. Gone at the tenderer age of 23. In reflection of their first meeting, Maud Gonne exclaimed that she first met him as a “paint-stained art student”. So maybe it wasn’t love at first sight for her, but for W.B. Yeats, Maud Gonne became his obsession. He became utterly infatuated with her beauty and he had no qualms about saying so (dedicating a number of poems to her).

In 1891, Yeats visited Gonne, got down on one knee and popped the big question. Gonne said no. This moment in Yeats’ life was in his words the point at which “the troubling in my life began”. But our boy W.B. wasn’t the sort to just throw in the towel… if at first you don’t succeed… you get right back in that saddle. So in 1899, he proposed again to which Maud said no. In 1900 he thought… third time lucky, but she shot him down again. And finally in 1901 Yeats once again popped the question and this time… this time… actually she said no again. Then, to his horror in 1903, she married the Irish nationalist Major John MacBride.

The marriage was not to last thought and ended in an early disaster. After this Yeats and Gonne’s friendship continued and in 1908, they finally consummated their relationship.

Moral of the story: persistence is key.

The Sweetest Thing
Bono and Ali Hewson

We’ve all been there. You’ve messed up and you know it. Maybe you said the wrong thing. Maybe you made a shambles of the grocery shopping again or maybe you committed one of cardinal sins of a long term relationships and… didn’t do anything for her birthday! You’re in the dog house and it ain’t pleasant.

There’s two ways to go from here. You can be stubborn stand you’re ground and engage in a game of wits that you’ll probably lose or you can grovel. Of course if you’re superstar Bono, then you have a small advantage. Which brings us to our third and final Irish couple of the ages: Bono and Ali Hewson.

When Bono bailed on Ali Hewson’s birthday to spend time in the recording studio working on The Joshua Tree sessions, he found himself in that all too familiar situation. But Bono is a man of action, so he did what any man would do (if you have millions at your disposal). He got up, dusted himself off and made a public apology via the music video for “The Sweetest Thing”, enlisting various A-listers along the way from Riverdance to Boyzone. Also, at Ali’s request, all proceeds from the single went to her favourite charity: The Chernobyl Children’s Project International.

So take a leaf from Bono’s book this Valentine’s day and get creative. If you haven’t already seen the video you can watch it in full below. It’s the thought that counts.

So there you have it. Our top three Irish Couples of the Ages. Ireland is a country full of romance, with a surprise around every corner and needless to say, gazing out over our fair isle’s stunning landscapes is always better with someone at your side. So, if you really want to get your loved one something special this Valentine’s Day then check out one of our Romantic Tours today or read our blog about some of Ireland's most romantic places to visit!

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