THE CHILDREN OF LIR IRISH LEGENDS
Long ago in Ireland there was a king named Lir. • He had four children, a girl named Fionnuala and three sons, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. • They all live in a beautiful castle in the middle of a forest.
The children’s mother died and Lir married again, this time to the beautiful Aoife, daughter of King Bov the Red.
At first Aoife was kind to the children. As time went by, however, she saw that Lir loved them more than he loved her and she grew to hate them.
One warm summer’s day she took them to swim in the lake near the castle,Derravaragh. While the children splashed and played in the cool water, Aoife waved her magic wand, and changed them…
“This is the spell I lay upon you”, she said. “You will spend three hundred years on Lough Derravaragh, three hundred years on the Sea of Moyle and three hundred years on the Sea of Erris.
The spell will last until you hear the sound of a Christian bell. There are two things that I leave you, however – your own voices and the gift of song”.
When Lir passed by the lake, he was amazed to hear four swans call out his name. Fionnuala told him who they were.
“Our cruel stepmother has changed us into swans and no one can save us”, she cried. Lir was filled with grief and wept for his four lovely children.
When king Bob the Red heard the sad history, he changed his daughter into a large ugly moth.
Lir came to live beside the lake. He wished to be near his swan children and listen to the sweet singing. • When Lir died the children were very sad.
Here it was cold and stormy. They were often hungry and tossed about by the strong waves. At night Fionnuala sheltered her brothers from the cold winds with her great white wings.
After three hundred years on the Sea of Moyle, they flew to the west coast of Ireland and came to rest on the waters of the Sea of Erris.
Again they suffered from rain and wind and storm. Slowly the long years went by and they waited for an end to their lovely life on the sea.
Then, one day in spring, the swans heard the ringing of a church bell. • They were happy now, for soon they would be free of Aoife’s wicked spell.
Fionnuala and her brothers looked at each other and saw that they were no longer swans. • They danced and sang with delight. • The children had been swans for exactely nine hundred years.
Fionnuala and her brothers decided to return to lake Derravaragh. • The castle was still there as, beautiful as before. • They lived happily. • They played in the forest and swam in the lake, Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn, the Children of Lir.