The Children of Lir

thumbs_all-pix-for-blog-121-of-1303Hi everyone

Some people, no matter how mindful, may never heard one of the most moving of ancient Irish legends – the story of The Children of Lir: a beautiful princess and her three brothers. A wicked stepmother turned them into swans, condemning them to spend 300 years on Lake Derravaragh, another 300 on the Sea of Moyle, between Scotland and Ireland, and the final 300 on the waters around Inish Glora.

As the last of the 900 years comes to an end, one morning the swans hear the sound of a church bell echoing across the water.  The swans come to the island shore, and the monk who has rung the bell (it is Saint Patrick) comes out to meet them. He blesses them and sprinkles them with holy water.

Suddenly there on the shore is an incredibly old woman, with three very old men. The old woman puts her arms around her brothers and, as St Patrick baptises each of them, each sinks to the ground and dissolves into dust. That night St Patrick sees four swans winging their way through the moonlit clouds to heaven.

For some reason that legend touches something deep in me, but I wish I knew what.

Four years ago I went to Lake Derravaragh, just to see where the legend began. As I stood on the lakeshore, a golden disc of sun was sinking towards the horizon, putting a golden path across the lake. As I watched, a swan slowly moved into that path of light and for one extraordinary moment was silhouetted against the gold. I actually caught it on camera.

I would like to claim that I saw all four swans, but there were only two. And the second one nearly spoiled the scene, as it was over among the reeds hunting for goodies, with its backside up in the air and its neck down in the water. Most undignified for a swan. Yet swans are forever at it (why do you think they have those necks?), and they can spoil any lake scene when they lose their dignity and behave like that. But, as I once heard someone say, sure they’re only human.      Best to everyone. ~ David


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