Children of Lir

Children of Lir (an Irish folk tale)

Swans' Pond

Once there was a great and mighty warrior, name of Lir, who believed himself worthy of the title of King, but his fate was not to be.

The Tuatha Dé Danann were blessed with four treasures, each brought to Inis Fáil from the four great cities of Murias, Gorias, Findias and Falias. From Falias, they brought the magical stone, Lia Fáil.   It had the power to reveal the name of the true King.  When it came the time for choosing, Lir presented himself before the stone.  Lia Fáil resounded not upon the approach of Lir, but instead chose his rival, the greater of the two men, Bodb Dearg.

Lir, went with a heavy heart and parted company with new king’s men, not accepting Bodb’s authority. The king’s men wanted to go after him, but Bodb knew it was a fool’s errand, and held them back from attacking Lir’s house.

The months passed and the cycle of the seasons continued their passage through time.  Lir was to later lose his wife to death’s fingers, and in being a good king, Bodb offered the hand of friendship to Lir, and invited him to feast within his court.

At the feast Bodb offered the gift of one of his three daughters. Lir accepted.  He chose the elder of the three. He came to love both the inner and the outer beauty of his new wife. She bore him children, first a son and daughter, then later two sons, Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn.   The couple loved their children dearly, and in each of them, Lir saw the beauty of his wife reflected.

Lir was to bear yet another great grief; his wife died in childbirth. The loss weighed heavy also upon the heart of Bodb Dearg, but in friendship again, offered the second of his three daughters to Lir, to lie with him as his wife and care for her sister’s children.  Her name was Aoife.

Lir, in caring deeply for his four children, never let them out of his sight and even in slumber he kept them within his sight. This great love was too much for Aoife to bear, and in her jealousy, she lured the four children to the dark lake.

There, Aoife planned to take the lives from each and every one of them.  Her heart was dark, but yet, she had not the strength within her to do it.  Instead she took up a druid’s wand and turned Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn into swans, cursing them to 300 years of feathered imprisonment.  But with the curse, came three gifts: reason, speech and song.

Many a traveller has passed the shores of Lough Derravaragh and accepted the wisdom of the four swans who dwelled 300 years upon its waters.  Many a fisher who cast his net in the Sea of Moyle has spoken of the stories told to him by the four swans who dwelled 300 years upon its waves and if you take a walk beside Irrus Domnann, you may still hear their plaintive song.


Irish legend retold by Safar Fiertze, 2015.

A response to Day 11 of the Writing 101 challenge, Blogging University: To pay attention to the length of sentences and mix it up a bit.

I also thought it was time I added another tale to the “Stories Speak” collection and inspired by Debbie, chose the Children of Lir legend.


4 thoughts on “Children of Lir

  1. A beautiful story well told, Safar.
    Also its a Swan story that i HADNT heard of before!

    i have a swan – well, peacock – story , from the Dai people in Xishuangbanna , Yunnan, on my blog.

    the swan myths tend to overlap with peacocks, cranes, and other large birds.

    thanks for sharing this one, its amazing, and a new take on the swan maidens. 🙂 x


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