For centuries, the Children of Lir has been infused into the Irish folklore. Over tim, there have been various versions of the legend that has surfaced. Some of the versions are accurate while some of them are completely contrast to the original version. Looking at the original version of the legend, there is a deep history that is associated with the Christren of Lir.
The Original Story of The Children of Lir
Thousands of years ago, at the time when the warlords ruled the land, the legend was set in ancient Ireland. The community of people called Tuatha De Danann got their name from the goddess Dana. When the Gales invaded the land, they had defeated Tuatha De Danann in a battle. Once the fight was over, people wanted to have a king who would give them direction and rule them. In turn, the king would add strength to the political standing of the country and ward off the Gales.
As a result, the people chose Bodhbh Dearg as their king. Bodhbh or Bov the Red as he was popularly known hailed from Lough Derg. The choice of Bov the Red was acceptable by everyone in the land except one person called Lir who was from Fews in Armagh County. Lir had wanted to be the king and was not the choice of the people. His refusal to accept Bodhbh as the king made Lir get a price put for his head. The decision to finish off Lir was the choice of the people, but Bodhbh refused to persecute Lir.
Soon, the king offered Lir a hand to marry one of his foster daughters. The decision came after the king found out that Lir had lost his first wife to severe illness. The marriage was conditional that Lir accepts Bodhbh as a king first. The deal was a success, and Lir married the eldest daughter of Bodhbh, Aobh. Lir was pleased with Aobh, and she bore him several children. However, when she delivered her twin sons, she died, and Lir was devastated.
The king came forward to help Lir again and gave him a choice of marrying another of his foster daughters. The wife he chose was the sister of Aobh. Even after the marriage, Lir still loved his second wife and loved is children beyond measure. Aoife, his current wife, did not like it and acted like she was sick for a year to draw attention to herself. A legend also talks about her being barren and that Lir did not want any more children.
The cruel step-mother was so jealous of her nieces and nephews that she plotted to get rid of them to get her husband’s attention. In the end, under the pretexts of taking the children to visit relatives, she drove the children and to a secluded spot and asked the servants to kill them. When they refused, she tried to kill them as well but couldn’t bring herself to do it. She took the children to Loch Dairbhreach and asked them to go clean themselves in the lake. When the children were there, she cast a spell on them and turned them into swans. Fionnuala, the daughter, cursed Aoife and made her reduce the spell. As a result, the swans were able to keep their ability to speak, and they were able to sing the music of Sidhe beautifully. Till today, swans are protected and revered in Ireland.