Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Grania, the daughter of an Irish king. Grania is intended to be the bride of Finn. She is young, beautiful, self-controlled, and initially calm about her impending marriage. She nurses a childhood memory of a great warrior whom she once saw in her father’s courtyard. This half-fanciful attachment is in contrast to her cool, well-mannered demeanor. The knowledge that this warrior is one of Finn’s men provokes her decision to desert Finn. Her sense of dignity remains constant even in poverty and sorrow and supports her when she is, in turn, deserted by Diarmuid.


Finn, a king of Ireland and leader of the Fenian warriors. He is in late middle age, and he plans to take a young wife for the sake of happiness and comfort. Like Grania, he at first seems reasonable and prudent in his affections, yet when he is faced with Grania’s passion for Diarmuid, Finn is overwhelmed by jealousy and hounds the fleeing couple for years, devoting all of his energy to the possession of Grania. Despite his rage, Finn shows an astute understanding of the conflicts within himself and within Diarmuid and Grania, and he proves capable of not only cruelty but also compassion.


Diarmuid, one of the chief warriors of the Fenians, known both for his bravery in battle and for his success with women. Perhaps his most prized quality is his loyalty to Finn, which he swears is immutable. It is his sense of honor that causes Diarmuid to leave with Grania; he feels obliged to protect her from the unjust wrath of the jealous Finn. Love and honor are in perpetual conflict within him, however, even after he gives in to his desire for Grania. On his deathbed, he has no memory of her but thinks only of his friendship with Finn.