In the windows from Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness, one can imagine this legend of undying love being spoken amongst fair maidens of Urquhart in giggles and sighs, or even of between lovers who knew their love forbidden. The legend goes thus:
Colum Cruitire of Ireland, whose daughter, Deirdire or Dearduil was the most beautiful in all of Ireland, the most beautiful virgin to ever walk in the lands of Ireland, had his daughter noticed by Conachar MacNessa, King of Ulster, in the 1st century AD. Conachar resolved to have Dearduil and she agreed if he would allow her to spend one year and one day as a virgin within his castle first. He agreed. During that time, Dearduil fell in love with Conachar’s cousin, Naois and Naois with her. Naois and Dearduil then made haste to Scotland to try and avoid the King’s wrath. They built a tower on Loch Naois – now called Loch Ness – and for one year they lived joyfully there. King Conachar found out and asked them to return to Ireland in peace and with his assurance for their safety. Dearduil believed the King false, but Naois returned to Ireland with his brothers and Dearduil. Naois and his brothers were slain at the King’s command and placed in the same grave. Dearduil, on seeing them in the open grave asked the dead to move enough to let her in with them, which they did and she lay with Naois and died. The king, enraged, order Dearduil to be placed in another grave on the other side of the stream from them, so that they could not be together in death. The eternal love sprouted a young pine tree from Naois’s grave and another young pine from Dearduil’s grave. The two pines grew, their branches intermingled above the stream and the two trees were joined, so that even in death Naois and Dearduil were together.
Those who believe in this legend, believe Loch Ness was another spelling for Loch Naois and got it’s name that way. I can imagine my Urquhart ancestors, in the cold of night or in moments of forbidden passion, speaking of this beautiful legend and of their own undying love for each other or waiting for the right lover to appear.
The legend also speaks of a king’s dishonor and to mind the words spoken by people, something some Urquharts learnt all too well in the dealings with the English King’s authorities.