Irish Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of Ireland

OISÍN

Irish Hero God

Also known as Osheen, Ossian

Picture of the Irish Hero God Oisín from our Irish mythology image library. Illustration by Chas Saunders.

God of Amnesia and Passing Time

Son of the Fenian Hero Fionn mac Cumhaill and a Goddess called Sadb, who Finn ran across when she was a deer. The circumstances become increasingly bizarre. Sadb was abducted by persons unknown whilst pregnant. Fionn mac Cumhaill ran across a small boy when out with his hounds one day, not realizing it was his son Oisín. Finn was a great one for cross-country running into strange situations with dogged persistence.

It now turns out that Sadb had been the granddaughter of Dagda, making Ogma, God of Eloquence, an uncle of Oisín. What with Finn having eaten the Salmon of Knowledge, without seemingly having digested it, all the eloquence and wisdom got passed to Oisín who became top poet, songwriter and sensational lyre-plucker.

Then Oisín met Niamh, a daughter of Manannán mac Lir (how many daughters does this God have?) as she came trotting up on her steed with the golden mane and silver hooves. To his delight she invited him for a ride to “The Land of Promise”

We don’t know what went on there, but it went on for a long time, and Oisín not having been able to send a Postcard home with “having a Lovely Time — see you all soon’ scrawled on it, due to there being no postal service at all, thought he should just nip home to let folks know. Niamh lent him her magic horse, but warned him he must not get off it, as it would return without him, and there would be no way back.

Back in Ireland, Oisín found he had done a Rip Van Winkle’ sort of thing, although he had not done so much sleeping, but you get the general picture — everyone he had known was either dead or departed. Helping some men to clear a boulder from a track, he slipped off the horse and thud. Then the thudding of hooves and the horse was gone. He tried to jump up and found that he himself was now incredibly old and frail.

It is said he was found and taken to tell his tale to St. Patrick, because by now the new-fangled Christianity was claiming the land.

Oisín Facts and Figures

Name: Oisín
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: Osheen, Ossian

Gender: Male
Type: God
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Heroics
Area of expertise: Hero

Good/Evil Rating: OKAY, not bad
Popularity index: 1058

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Article last revised on May 23, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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