Just outside the lovely seaside village of Allihies is a small sacred site dedicated to the Children of Lir.(Clann Lir) Their lives are celebrated in their ancient story,one of the three sorrows of Irish storytelling.
Children of Lir
A sign posted by Beara Tourism reads as follows:
“The story of the children of Lir is a well known legend in Ireland. Many areas in Ireland claim to be the landing spot of the swans after their 900 year journey on the seas and lakes of Ireland. The children were the sons and daughters of Lir, a member of the Tuatha de Danaan clan, who married Eve daughter of King Bov the Red, King of the Tuatha de Danaan. Eve and Lir were blissfully married and had a set of twins-Aed and Finola, and after a short period there followed another set of twins, 2 boys, Conn and Fiara. Unfortunately Eve died soon after and Lir,not wanting his children growing up without the love of a mother, married Eva, King Bov’s second daughter. This was a happy marriage until Eva became jealous of Lir’s devotion of his children.”
“Overcome with hatred she brought the children to Lough Darravagh near their home and transformed them into swans. Realising what she had done and overcome with remorse, she attempted to release the spell but could only ease their distress by enabling them to speak and sing and to remain as swans for 900 years until Christianity was introduced into Ireland. The swans spent the first 300 years on Lough Darravagh close to their home. The next 300 years was spent on the Sea of Moyle, a cold and desolate area between Scotland and the north of Ireland. The last 300 years they endured on the Atlantic sea. When their time was over the swans attracted by the ringing of a bell rung by a monk living in Allihies village in the Beara Peninsula, came ashore and immediately were changed back into their human form. The children were by now old men and women (and) were baptised by the monk. A short time later they died and were buried under these large white boulders. Traditionally rounds were made by the local people circling the boulders. Money was placed under the boulders as an offering to the children.”
What’s interesting to note is that there is another Ring of Beara connection to the Children of Lir story. Glenbeg Lake may have been one of the swans’ resting places before the children heard the bells ringing.
This is truly a land of mystery and stories.
Would You Like to Learn More?
- The Children of Lir, by artist PJ Lynch
- A poignant and beautiful painting by PJ Lynch, depicting the last moments of the Children of Lir.
- Ireland Information: The Children of Lir
- A re-telling of the story, The Children of Lir.
- Allihies, County Cork, Ireland
- Information about Allihies, County Cork, Ireland. The mythical site is located in this lovely seaside village.
- Ancient Texts
- This site not only includes the story entitled, “The Fate of the Children of Lir”, but also is endeavoring to provide the largest on-line library of ancient texts in the world. View Larger Map