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Deirdre and the Sons of Usna

Composer: Tim Porter. Musical Drama,1974

A Druid prophesies over a pregnant woman:

"...Bright are her lips, vermilion red.
She'll bring evil to Ireland.
As a ferret works destruction in a rabbit's burrow
So she'll work destruction in Ulster.
Truly, it is a girl there,
Deirdre, the Troubler,
And evil will come of her!"

To outwit fate, Conachur, the great King, has the child Deirdre brought up in a remote place, where she will see no man. As she grows, the King conceives a growing, wild, jealous passion for the girl he has not seen. Naoise, eldest son of Usna, has been schooled without sight of women. He and Deirdre happen to meet. And there the trouble starts. It is not the way of fate to be outwitted...

"Deirdre and the Sons of Usna" is based in part on James Stephens' version of the famous incident in the "Tain Bo Cuailnge".

Cast list

The Dagda
Concachur, King of Ulster
Lavarcham, an old woman, his chief advisor and friend
Fergus, his chief statesman
Fiachra, his bastard son
Cathfa, his chief druid
Cuchullin, Champion of Ireland
Emer, his wife
Young Warriors: Naoise, son of Usna
                       Ainnle, son of Usna
                       Ardan, son of Usna
                       Buinne, son of Fergus
                       Iolann, son of Fergus
Noblemen: Bricria
A Herald
A Guard
Two Gypsies, playing accordian and drum
A Party of Children
A Band of Drums and Fifes
Soldiers, Guards, Mercenaries, Hags, Common People, etc.


1 flute/piccolo
1 oboe
3 clarinets in A
1 bassoon
1 French horn
3 tenor trombones
3 percussion
6 violins
3 violas
3 cellos
3 double basses


Aug/Sept 1977: Folk House, Bristol