This story takes place after the Tuatha De Danaan had gone to
live in the sidh. The position of High King fell open and so the kings of each sidh met to
hold an election.
Deargh, son of a respected druid, was chosen. King Lir, of
Fionnachaidh, was offended, as he had wanted to be king. He left in anger and the other
kings were all for riding after him to wound him for his treachery, but Deargh stopped
"We must rather have him with us than against us," he said to
Lir's own wife had died and he had been grief stricken and refused any
consolation. Deargh saw an opportunity to reconcile Lir with the kings.
So Deargh offered Lir one of his three foster daughters as a wife. They
met at the Lake of the Red Eye where Lir was to choose his wife but Lir could not choose
between the maidens as they were of equal beauty so he chose the eldest, Aeb (also known
as Ove), for she was the noblest.
Lir returned home with his wife and soon she became pregnant and gave
birth to twins, a daughter and a son, Fionnguala and Aed. Soon she was pregnant once more
and twin boys resulted, Fiachra and Conn, but the birth of these twins cost her her life.
Once again Lir was grief stricken and only his children could console
him. Deargh heard the news so he offered Aoifa, sister to Aeb, as a second wife.
Lir married Aoifa and they were happy. At first Aoifa loved her
sister's children and did what she could for them. Deargh to loved them like his own
grandchildren and they spent much time visiting him.
Their popularity became to have its effect on Aoifa and she became
jealous to the point of illness. During her time of illness she plotted how to get rid of
She planned to take them with her to see Deargh. Fionnguala had a dream
the night before and knew of the wicked intent that Aoifa had, but her fate had been
sealed and she had to go.
When they reached the Lake of the Oaks Aoifa attempts to incite the
people there into killing the Children of Lir in exchange for anything they wanted, but
the people would have nothing to do with it claiming it wicked to even think of such
Being a warrior woman Aoifa considered doing it herself but she lacked
the courage so she sent the children to bathe in the lake. Upon their entering the lake
she turned them into snow-white swans with a druid's wand and threw silver chains over
The curse could not be lifted off them until 900 years had passed and a
man from Connacht in the north and a woman from Munster in the south were married. With
this time set no one could undo the curse, not even the Tuatha De. Afraid of Lir's anger
she granted the swans gifts not usually found in birds. They received the gift of singing
and they retained the language of man and they retained their human mind and senses.
They spent three hundred years in the area conversing with the people
and singing them to sleep at night.
Then one night, they circled the lake three times and with a mournful
song of farewell they began winging their way to Scotland. On their way there a fierce
storm separated them, but they had planned for such an occurrence and so Fionnguala went
to Seal Rock to await her brothers. Conn and then Fiachra came, bedraggled and chilled, to
huddle under her wings. Only Aed remained to come and at last he too appeared and huddled
beneath his sister's breast. The four were reunited again.
One day a troop of horsemen approached. The swans recognised them as
Deargh's two sons, from the Otherworld. The sons told the swans of how their father and
Deargh were well but mourned the loss of the Children. Fionnguala sang a song lamenting
the fate of the Children of Lir.
The sons returned to the Otherworld and told of all they had seen and
Eventually another three hundred years past and during this time St
Patrick arrived in Ireland and the swans sang with the monks.
The full nine hundred years past and as Aoifa had said the Princess of
Munster and the Prince of Connacht were to be wed, but first the prince had to bring her
He went in search of them and found them swimming on the Lake of Birds.
He rowed out to the swans and removed the silver chains they wore and they were returned
to their human forms.
But their human forms had aged nine hundred years and they died within
the hour so he buried them with Conn and Fiachra on either side of Fionnguala and Aed at