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Deirdre (dârˈdrə, dērˈ–) [key], beautiful heroine of Irish legend. A druid prophesied at her birth that she would bring great misfortunes. Deirdre, chosen to be the wife of Conchobar, king of Ulster, fell in love with Naoise, the son of Usnach, and fled with him and his two brothers to Scotland. After a long idyllic stay there, they were enticed into returning to Ireland by Conchobar, who then treacherously killed the sons of Usnach. Deirdre, her heart broken, died on her lover's grave. This legend was very popular with the writers of the Irish literary renaissance, notably Yeats, Synge, and James Stephens.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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