Children of Lir, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Children of Lir, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 840103.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): story.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): unavailable.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 04/10/1983.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): evening class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

A childhood encounter with four swans near his home prompts Joe to request this well-known legend from a man in the village:

The four children of Lir are enchanted by their evil stepmother into the form of swans, to spend 900 years wandering from one body of water to another and only to be free of enchantment when they hear the Angelus bell tolling. When Lir learned what his wife had done, he turned her into a beetle – thereby condemning her to be burned by every person who found one in the house – but he could do nothing to reverse the enchantment laid upon his children. At the end of 900 years, following many hardships, the children – still in the form of swans – are able to set foot on dry land once again. An aristocratic lady sees them and determines to provide the four swans as pets for her son; but at that moment the Angelus sounds and the spell is broken. The four elderly people who emerge from the guise of swans receive baptism before they die. The story explains why no one in Ireland is allowed to hunt swans.