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    THE CHILDREN OF LIR: AN IRISH LEGEND
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    There was a time in ancient Ireland when the people believed
    in magic and in druids and spells. These were the days of
    the Tuatha De Danann tribe, the Goddess Danu and of Lir, the
    lord of the sea.

    Lir's wife, Eva, had given him four beautiful children. The
    two eldest, Fionnuala and Aodh, went swimming in a small
    lake. But these were no ordinary swimmers! They possessed
    gills for breathing and webbed feet as they were, after all,
    the offspring of 'the ruler of the land beneath the waves'.

    They met a messenger who told them that they were wanted by
    their father. They went home immediately only to find their
    father disturbed.

    'What is wrong father?' they enquired
    'Your mother has given birth to twins....' he replied
    '....and has gone off to rest'
    'What do you mean father?' they asked

    Lir explained that this was what humans called 'death' but
    that since they were immortal that their mother had gone
    to recover, possibly for a thousand years or more. The
    children were to look after the new brothers, Fiachra and
    Conn.

    The children kissed their mother for the last time and
    then left.

    As the children grew Lir's spirits declined until one day he
    met Aiofe, the sister of his wife. Aoife was possessed of
    magical powers and soon enough it was known that she and Lir
    would marry. The new family thrived under the influence of
    their new mother but not for long as guilt and jealousy
    about the childresn real mother took its toll on Aoifes
    health. She fell into sickness for a year but recovered only
    to start to become old before here time.

    Aoife was a changed woman now and one day suggested that she
    and the children should visit their grandfather. On the
    journey they stopped by a lake and she encouraged the
    children to go for a swim. The four children played happily
    in the water, not noticing that their stepmother was now
    standing at the waters edge wearing her fathers magic cloak.

    'For too long you children have stood between your father and
    I, but not for much longer!'
    she cried

    'We cannot be killed by you...' Aodh replied,
    '...we are the Children of Lir and if you harm us our ghosts
    will haunt you!'

    'I’m not going to kill you.....' she shouted
    '......but I am going to change you!'


    At this she bowed her head and started an inacntation. The
    children looked at each other in fear as they saw a red and
    gold circle envelope them on the water. They saw Aoife open
    up her cloak from which the great light of a fireball emerged
    and hurtled towards them, burning all in its wake.

    The fireball hit the water and caused masses of steam to
    rise about the children and they soon lost all feeling in
    their legs, arms, shoulders and head. They soon regained
    their sight only to see Aoife laughing at them. Aodh tried
    to attack her and flailed his arms about furiously but
    nothing happened except the splashing of water. He turned to
    look at his brothers and sister only to see that they had
    all been turned intot the most beautiful swans ever seen.

    Aoife scowled at them again and told them that they were to
    spend nine hundred years as swans, three hundred on Lough
    Derravaragh, three hundred on the Straits of Moyle and three
    hundred on the Isle of Inish Glora. To end the spell they
    would have to hear the bell of the new God.

    'I leave you with your voice however, and the most beautiful
    singing ever heard' she said.

    Lir searched for his children that day, but Aoife told him
    that they had been attacked and killed by wild boars.
    Fionnuala, now in swan form, approached her father and told
    him what Aoife had done. Lir was furious and banished Aoife
    into exile as an evil demon of the air.

    Lir faithfully visited his children and the power of his
    love ensured that their timeon the lake was one fo bliss. He
    knew thousgh that the 300 years of the first phase had passed
    and that the next phase of the spell was about to begin. The
    swans left for the Straits of Moyle, never to see their
    father again.

    Their time on the Northern Straits of Moyle were not so
    joyous, with frequent storms separating them, only for they
    to join up again. Another 300 years passed but they had
    survived together.

    They departed the cold straits and made their way towards
    Lough Derravaragh. They flew over th land, hoping to find
    their father's fort, but it was now nothing more than ruins.
    They wept because they knew the time of the
    Tuatha De Danann was gone.

    They travelled West to the waters of Inish Glora and found
    refuge on a small saltwater lake where time passed solowly.
    One day an old man named Mochua visited the lake and the
    children enquired of hiim if he was a follower of the new
    God. The startled man asked if they were the children of Lir
    and they told him that they were.

    'Are you a holy man?' asked Fiacra.
    'I am...' came the reply '

    The children knew that to break the spell that they would
    have to hear the bell of a new God toll in their own land.

    Mochua told them all about his new God and all about Saint
    Patrick who had brought his faith to their country.

    The children became excited as they knew that this was the
    new god their stepmother had told them of. They stayed with
    Mochua for many years who gave them sanctuary in a small
    chapel which he had built. He intended to make a bell and
    collected old swords, shileds and other metal to make it.
    The bell was now completed and was about to be rung when
    another disaster occurred.

    A Warrior dressed in armour entered the chapel. He had come
    for the children who were famed for their wonderful singing.

    'I am Liargren, King of Connaught' he shouted,
    'My wife desires those swans and I will have them...
    ...give them here or I wil tear this building down.'

    Fionnuala looked at Mochua and then siad that they would
    agree to go away with this King. Liargen was amazed to hear
    her speak but soon composed himself and ordered his men to
    take the children away. They were being loaded onto a carraige
    when suddenly, the church bell tolled loudly.

    Time seemd to stand still, but in another instant a great
    white mist had been blown off the nearby lake and enveloped
    the children as it had done 900 years before. The mist
    changed into all of the colours of the rainbow before a great
    wind gusted it away.

    The children had at last been transformed back into human
    form.

    Liagren fled immediately, never to return. Mochua baptized
    the beautiful children who had begun to age rapidly and so
    it was that the children of Lir, the last of the
    Tuatha De Danann died soon afterwards, their legend to live
    on forever.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    (C) Copyright The Information about Ireland Site, 2000
    The Leader in Free Resources from Ireland
    Free Irish coats of arms, screensavers, maps and more

    http://www.ireland-information.com
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


     



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