My name is Niamh. I am from Ireland and I am one of the creators of this website. I am in in China while I write this. I cycled my bicycle here from Tashkent, Uzbekistan and hope to go around the world. Above is a photo of me when I was about 10. I think I am wearing my dad's sweater over my school uniform.
I will tell the story of where I got my name. My name comes from an Irish legend about Niamh Cinn Oir (Niamh of the golden hair) who lives in a land called Tir na nOg (the land of the young). My parents both had blonde hair when they were young, so they thought that I would too - but as you can see from my photo, I didn't.
Here is the folktale:
Long ago in Ireland, lived a man called Oisin. He was the handsome son of Finn and the poet of the Fianna. The Fianna were soldiers who were also storytellers and singers. Oisin had red hair and sky-blue eyes. He was tall and strong. Finn was proud of Oisin because he could tell the history of the Fianna with exciting stories and poems.
One summer day, Finn, Oisin and the Fianna were cooking fish on the beach and singing songs. Then the singing stopped in the middle of a word. They saw a lady riding a white horse over the water. As the horse splashed towards shore, Oisin saw that the rider was the most beautiful rider he had ever seen.
The blue-eyed lady rode towards Finn. He blonde hair flowed around her face. He cloak sparkled like jewels in the sun.
"I am Niamh," she explained. "I have come to Ireland from Tir na nOg, the land of the young. I once saw Oisin while he was out hunting. I have fallen in love with him."
Turning to look at Oisin, she continued. "Tir na nOg is a land where the sun always shines. No one is ever sick or old. Everyone eats their favorite food and plays games. There are storytellers and music. The houses are made of gold and jewels. Birds sing. Colorful flowers grow. People wear soft, glittering clothes. Oisin, please come to Tir na nOg with me!"
By this time, Oisin had fallen in love with Niamh too. He turned and hugged Finn and said goodbye to his Fianna friends. He jumped up onto the horse and off they rode over the water. Finn had tears sliding down his face. He knew that he would never see his son again.
Niamh and Oisin travelled for hours over the waves. The horse galloped over the water as if it was dry land.
When they reached Tir na nOg, Oisin could hardly believe his eyes! The houses looked like castles shining in the light. The trees were full of ripe fruit. The fruit looked sweeter and juicier than Oisin had ever seen. In the air were the sounds of singing and the smells of roasting meat and fresh bread. On Oisin's skin, the breeze felt soft and warm.
Oisin was happy for many years. But one day, about ten years later, Oisin began to miss Ireland. He missed his father and the Fianna. He even missed the Irish rain! He asked to borrow the magic horse to visit Ireland once more.
Niamh agreed, but she told Oisin that many things had changed in Ireland. She also warned him that if his feet touched the ground, he could never return to Tir na nOg.
Oisin rode to Ireland as fast as he could. When he arrived, he scratched his head in puzzlement. The men of Ireland seemed much smaller and weaker than those he had known before. Worse yet, Finn and the Fianna were no longer alive! A few people had heard of the Fianna, but thought they were only an old myth.
Oisin cried. He discovered that what had seemed like ten years in Tir na nOg had really been three hundred years in Ireland.
As he rode along, thinking sad thoughts, he saw fifteen men trying to move a rock. They pushed and pulled. They could not move it! Oisin reached down and easily lifted the rock. But as he did, he lost his balance and fell off the magic horse. The horse ran off to the sea.
The fifteen men watched in fear. Oisin, a young, strong man was changing into a very, very old man. His hair turned white. He stooped with age. He spoke in a creaky voice as he told the men about Tir na nOg. He told of his friends the Fianna.
Oisin died of old age in front of the men The men buried Oisin in the soil of Ireland, the land he loved.
This is my drawing of Niamh Cinn Oir from the story along with some Celtic designs.