Once upon a time in ancient Ireland, there lived a noble chieftain named Lir, who was a member of the mystical race known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. After the death of his beloved wife, he married Aoife, the sister of his king, hoping to bring joy back into his life. Lir had four children from his first wife: a daughter, Fionnuala, and three sons, Aodh, Fiachra, and Conn.
Aoife, however, grew jealous of the deep love Lir held for his children. She felt overshadowed by their presence and began to harbor resentment in her heart. Unable to bear her jealousy, she decided to get rid of the children.
One day, while they were on a journey, Aoife led the children to a lake to swim. As they played in the water, she used her magical powers to cast a terrible spell, transforming them into swans. However, despite their transformation, the children retained their human minds, thoughts, and voices.
The Spell’s Duration
Realizing the enormity of her actions, Aoife regretfully proclaimed that they would remain as swans for 900 years: 300 years on Lough Derravaragh, 300 years in the Sea of Moyle, and 300 years on the waters of Inish Glora.
Lir’s Despair and Aoife’s Punishment
When Lir discovered what Aoife had done, he was devastated. The king, Aoife’s brother, punished her by transforming her into a demon for eternity.
The Life of Swans
Despite their predicament, the children endured their fate with grace. They spent their years swimming the waters of Ireland and using their beautiful, enchanting voices to sing songs of longing and hope.
The Arrival of Christianity
After centuries passed, the sound of a Christian bell broke the silence one morning. The bell signaled the arrival of Saint Patrick and the advent of Christianity in Ireland. The children, now old and weary, were discovered by a kind monk named Mochua who recognized them from their songs.
The Final Transformation
Mochua offered them protection and care. He crafted chains of silver to link them together, a sign of their unity. But when the king of Connacht tried to steal them away, a mist descended, and when it lifted, the swans had transformed back into their human forms. However, they were now aged, having lived through the centuries.
The Children of Lir’s Last Wish
In their final moments, the children of Lir were baptized into the Christian faith. Their last wish was to be buried together, two by two. Fionnuala and Aodh were placed in one grave, and Fiachra and Conn in another. Thus, even in death, they remained together, just as they had in life.