Out with you upon the wild waves, Children of the King! Henceforth your cries shall be with the flocks of birds.The Children of Lir is an Irish legend. The original Irish title is Clann Lir or Leannaí Lir, but Lir is the genitive case of Lear. Lir is more often used as the name of the character in English. The legend is part of the Irish Mythological Cycle, which consists of numerous prose tales and poems found in medieval manuscripts.
Their mother Aoibh died and the children missed their mother terribly and Bodb, wanting to keep Lear happy, sent another of his daughters, Aoife, to marry Lear.
Aoife grew jealous of the children's love for each other and their father so she plotted to get rid of the children. On a journey with the children to Bodb's house, she ordered her servant to kill them but the servant refused. In anger, she tried to do it herself, but didn't have the courage. Instead, she used her magic to turn the children into swans. When Bodb heard of this, he transformed Aoife into an air demon for eternity.
As swans, the children had to spend 300 years on Lough Derravaragh (a lake near their father's castle), 300 years in the Sea of Moyle, and 300 years on the Isle of Glora (Inis Gluaire). To end the spell, they would have to be blessed by a monk. While the children were swans, Saint Patrick converted Ireland to Christianity.
Each child was tied to the other with silver chains to ensure that they would stay together forever. However the wife of the King of Leinster, daughter of the King of Munster, Deoch wanted the swans for her own, so she ordered her husband, Lairgean to attack the monastery and seize the swans. In this attack, the silver chains were broken and the swans transformed into old, withered people.
Another version of the legend tells that as the king was leaving the sanctuary with the swans, the bell of the church tolled releasing them from the spell. Before they died they each were baptised and then later buried with Fionnuala, the daughter, in the middle, Fiacre and Conn, the twins, on either side of her, and Aodh in front of her.
Another ending is that they suffered on the three lakes for 900 years, then they heard the bell. They came back to the land and a priest found them. The swans asked the priest to turn them back into humans, so he did, but they were over 900 years old, so they died and lived happily in heaven with their mother and father.
It has been suggested that the site of Lir's castle is currently occupied by Tullynally Castle, home of the Earl of Longford, as the name "Tullynally" is the anglicised form of Tullach na n-eala or "hill of the swan".
A Statue of the Children Of Lir resides in the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square in Dublin, Ireland. It symbolises the rebirth of the Irish nation following 900 years of struggle for independence from Britain, much as the swans were "reborn" following 900 years. The story is retold within Gods and Fighting Men by Irish folklorist Lady Augusta Gregory, first published in 1904, and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
Folk-rock Group Loudest Whisper recorded an album based on a stage presentation of the legend in 1973-74. Folk metal-band Cruachan published a song called Children of Lir on their album Folk-Lore in 2002.
Silent o Moyle be the roar of thy water
Break not ye breezes your chain of repose
While murmuring mournfully Lir's lonely daughter
Tells to the night star her tale of woes
When shall the swan her death note singing
Sleep with wings in darkness furled
When will Heaven it's sweet bells ringing
Call my spirit from this stormy world?
Sadly o Moyle to thy winter-wave weeping
Fate bids me languish long ages away
Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping
Still doth the pure light its dawning delay
When shall that day-star mildly springing
Warm our Isle with peace and love?
When will Heaven its sweet bell ringing
Call my spirit to the fields above?
Young people will opt for Irish when it provides good career opportunities ; More young people would study higher level Irish if a third-level sector was developed to offer Irish-speaking vocational courses such as business, law and information technology, argues Pl Muir
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