An Irish Love Story...
One night while Aengus (the masculine version of Aibhlinn), the Irish god of youth and love, was sleeping, a beautiful, young girl came to him in his dreams. When he awoke, he had the strangest feeling that it was more than a dream. He was so overcome by the young woman’s beauty that he fell madly in love with her.
Soon after the dream, Aengus fell ill because he had stopped eating. For a year, he was visited by physicians from all across Ireland, but no one could diagnose him. Then someone sent for Fergne, who was able to diagnose a man simply by looking at him. It was also said he could tell how many were sick inside a home from the amount of rings of smoke that could be seen over it.
Immediately, Fergne took Aengus aside and told him that he was suffering from unrequited love, and his illness was brought on because he had not told anyone. Fergne’s suggestion was to call on Bóann (goddess of the River Boyne and Aegnus’s mother), who would be able to answer his problems.
Bóann decided to search for this girl to end her son’s suffering, but after a year, she was still unable to find her. This made her turn to Dagda, Aengus’s father and the King of Sídhe of Ireland. Dagda then sent out messengers to Bodb, the King of Sídhe of Munster, because of his renowned knowledge of the land. Bodb accepted the challenge, and said that in one year he would find the girl.
At the end of the year, Bodb returned to Dagda with news of a girl that could possibly be her. So, Aegnus returned with him to Síd ar Femuin where he would stay three days and three nights. Bodb told Aegnus that he could show him the girl, but he was powerless to give her to him.
They went to a lake where three fifties of young girls stood. Aegnus spotted the girl immediately for she stood a full head and shoulders above the other girls. Also, while all of the other girls were connected by a silver chain, hers was a burnished gold. She also wore a silver necklace.
Aengus knew that he could not take her back home with him, but he was delighted to finally have found her and learn her name, Cáer Ibormeith.
Dagda then turns to Ailill and Medb to get the girl for Aegnus, but they reply that they cannot. They then go to the girl’s father Ethal Abúail, but he replies he will not give his daughter to Dagda. Dagda then attacks the other king’s land to get the girl, but on capture, Ethal Abúail confesses he cannot give her to him because she is more powerful than he.
He told them that Cáer rotates from being a bird to a human each year. Alill and Dagda forced Ethal to tell them when she would next be a bird to which he replied the following Samhain. He said she would be at Loch Bél Dracon surrounded by three fifties of swans. They returned home to tell Aegnus he could get her on this date at this place by calling to her.
On the following Samhain, Aegnus went to the Loch Bél Dracon. There he saw three fifties of white birds with gold hair. He asked Cáer to come and speak with him. She asked who was calling, and he replied that it was Aegnus. She then said she would come if she could return to the water. Aegnus promised her that she could. They both then walked around the lake three times to bind the promise before both turning into birds and flying off together. They would then sing a song that would put everyone to sleep for three nights and three days. After that, Cáer would forever stay with Aegnus.