Here is the story of the mythological cycle Irish which is called The Tragic Death of the Children of Lir.
Bove Derg elected King of the Dedannans
After the battle of Tailltenn, the Dedannans of the five provinces of Erin gathered in a place of assembly, in order to examine their state, and to choose a king. For their lords said that it was better for them to have a king above all, than to be divided, as they were, serving various lords and princes.
So, of those who hoped to obtain sovereignty for themselves, the following lords were the noblest, namely: Bove Derg, the son of Dagda, his brother Angus, of Bruga on the Boyne, who, however, had no no burning desire to become king, preferring to stay what he was; Ilbrec from Assaroe; Lir by Shee Finnaha and Midir the Haughty by Bri-Leth.
So the lords went to the council, except the five named above, and the decision they came to was to elect Bove Derg, the son of Dagda, king of all the Dedannan people. When the election was made known to all, none of those who were disappointed took the matter to heart except the one Lir of Shee Finnaha. And when Lir found that the lords had chosen Bove Derg, he was greatly offended, and immediately left the assembly in anger, without taking leave of anyone, and without showing any sign of respect or obedience to the new king.
When the lords heard of this, they were angered, and they declared that they would follow him to Shee Finnaha, and kill him with spear and sword, and burn his house, because he did not obey the Lord. king whom they had elected in sovereign council.
But Bove Derg would not allow them to do so. “This man,” he said, “will defend his territory, and many will be killed, and I am nevertheless your king, although he has not submitted to me. "
Things stayed that way for a long time. But at last a great misfortune befell Lir, for his wife died after an illness of three days. It weighed heavily on him, and his heart was full of regret after her. His death, by the way, was a big event at the time, and it was talked about a lot through Erin.
When news reached the abode of Bove Derg, where the lords of the Dedannans were then assembled, the king said:
“As Lir's wife is now deceased, my friendship would be useful to him, if he was willing to accept it. For I have in my house three young daughters, the most beautiful and the most educated in all of Erin, namely, Eve, Eva, and Alva, my own adopted children, and the daughters of Allil de Ara. "
The Dedannans agreed to this, and said that their king had spoken with wisdom and truth.
So messengers were sent to Lir, and they were told to say to him:
"If you are ready to submit to the king, he will give you one of his three adopted children as a wife, and you will have his friendship forever." "
It pleased Lir to make this covenant, and accordingly he set out the next day from Shee Finnaha with a company of fifty chariots; and they neither stopped nor turned away until they reached the palace of Bove Derg, on the shore of the Great Lake. Their arrival brought much joy and happiness to the king and his household, for although Lir did not first submit to Bove Derg, he was a good man, and he was much loved by the king himself and of all its subjects. So Lir and his followers were given a warm welcome, and provided with all necessities, and they were well served that night.
The next day, Allil of Ara's three daughters sat on the same couch as the queen their foster mother, and the king said to Lir:
"Take your pick from the three maidens, and whichever one you choose, she will be your wife." "
“They are all beautiful,” Lir said, “and I can't tell which one outshines the others, so I'll take the older one, for she must be the noblest of the three. "
Then the king said: "Eve is the oldest, and it will be given to you if it is your desire." "
So Lir chose Eve for his wife, and they got married that same day.
Lir stayed for a fortnight in the king's palace, then he left with his wife for his own home, Shee Finnaha, where he celebrated his marriage with a grand royal wedding feast.
The Children of Lir
In time, Lir's wife bore him two children at the same time, a daughter and a son, whose names were Finola and Aed. A second time, she gave birth to two twins, two sons, who were named Ficra and Conn, and she died giving birth to them. This was a source of great pain for Lir, and he would almost have died of grief, if only his mind had not been diverted from his sadness by his great love for his four little children.
When news of Eve's death reached the home of Bove Derg, the king was in deep grief, and the people of his household uttered three loud cries of lamentation for her. And when their mourning was over, the king said:
“We mourn for our foster child, both for her own account and for the love of the good man to whom we had given her, for we are grateful for her covenant and her friendship. But our relationship will not be over, and our alliance will not be broken, for I will give him his sister to wife, my second adopted child, Eva. "
Messengers were sent to Lir at Shee Finnaha, to tell him about this, and he consented. So after some time he came to the king's house to marry her, and they were united; and he took her home to his own house.
The four children grew up in Eva's care. She cared for them tenderly and her love for them increased every day. They slept near their father, and he often got up from his bed at dawn, and went to their bed, to talk with them and to stroke them.
The king, Bove Derg, loved them almost as much as their father. He went several times each year to Shee Finnaha to see them, and he used to bring them back often to his palace, where he kept them as long as he could each time, and he always felt sad when he did. sent them home.
At that time, too, the Dedannans used to celebrate the Feast of Time in the house of their lords, in turn, and when the feast took place at Shee Finnaha, these children were the delight and joy of the Dedannans. . For nowhere could four children be found so beautiful, so that those who saw them were always delighted by their beauty and their sweetness, and could not help but love them with all their heart.
The four Children of Lir are transformed into four white swans by their stepmother
So when Eva saw that Lir's children were receiving so much care and affection from their father, and everyone else who came to his house, it seemed to her that she was being neglected for their benefit, and a Poisonous sting of jealousy entered her heart, which turned her love into hatred, and she began to have feelings of bitter enmity for her sister's children.
Her jealousy poisoned her so much that she feigned illness, and lay in bed for nearly a year, filled with gall and plotting mischief, and at the end of that time she committed an evil and cruel act of treason on the children of Lir.
One day she ordered her horses to be harnessed to her chariot, and she set out for Bove Derg Palace, taking the four children with her.
Finola did not want to leave, for it had been revealed to her in a dark dream that Eva was holding on to some terrible act of fratricide, and she knew well that her mother-in-law intended to kill her and her brothers on that day. there, or some other way to bring ruin on them. But she wasn't able to avoid the spell that awaited her.
When they had gone far enough from Shee Finnaha on their way to the palace, Eva tried to convince her people to kill the children. “Kill them, and you will be rewarded with all the riches of this world that you can desire, for their father no longer loves me, and he neglected and abandoned me because of his great love for these children. "
But they heard his words with horror, and refused, saying, "We are not going to kill them." Frightening is the act you have envisioned, O Eva, and some misfortune will surely happen to you just for having thought of killing them ”.
Then she took the sword to kill them herself, but her female weakness prevented her, and she was not able to strike them.
So they went forward once more, and traveled until they came to the shore of Lake Darvra, where they stopped, and the horses were unhitched.
She led the children to the lake, and told them to go for a swim, and as soon as they entered the clear water, she hit them one by one with a druid wand, and turned them into four beautiful white swans. like snow. And she addressed these words to them:
“Go to your home, you swans, on the waves of Darvra; With the noisy birds begins your life of sadness: Your friends will mourn your fate, but none will be able to save you; Because I spoke the terrible words of fate. "
After that, Lir's four children turned their faces to their stepmother, and Finola spoke:
“Bad is the act you did, Eva; your friendship for us has been a friendship of treason, and you have caused our ruin for no reason. But the deed will be avenged, for the power of your sorcery is no greater than the druidic power that our friends will use to punish you, and the fate that awaits you is worse than ours. "
Our mother-in-law loved us a long time ago;
Our mother-in-law has now forged our misfortune:
With a wave of a magic wand and terrible words,
She has changed us into beautiful snow-white birds;
And we will live on the waters for all eternity,
By storms driven from shore to shore.
Finola spoke again and said, "Tell us now how long we will be in swan form, so that we know when our miseries are over." "
“It would have been better for you if you hadn't asked that question,” said Eva, “but I'll tell you the truth, as you asked. Three hundred years on the calm Lake Darvra, three hundred years on the Moyle Sea, between Erin and Alban, three hundred years in Irros Domnann and Inis Glora on the West Sea. Until the union of Largnen, the prince of the north, with Decca, the princess of the south, until the Taillkenn comes in Erin, bringing the light of pure faith and until you hear the sound of the Christian bell. And neither by your own power, nor by mine, nor by the power of your friends, you cannot be released until the time is right. "
Then Eva repented of what she had done, and she said, "Since I cannot give you any other redress, I will allow you to keep your own Gaelic language, and you will be able to sing some soft and plaintive music of fairies, which will surpass all the music in the world, and which will put to sleep all those who will listen to it. Besides, you will keep your human reason, and you will not be in pain because of your swan form. "
And she sang this lai:
Depart from me, you graceful swans;
The waters are now your home:
Your palace is the cave of mother-of-pearl,
Your layer the crest of the crystal wave,
And your coat foams the whiteness of milk!
Get away from me, o snow-white swans
With your music and the Gaelic word:
The crystalline Darvra, the winter Moyle,
The stormy shores of the Isle of Glora;
Three hundred years on each!
Read the Victorious, your unhappy father,
His loved ones in vain he will call;
Her heavy heart is a bug full of blood,
His house is joyless forever,
And his anger on me will melt away!
Through the cycles of grief and fear of time
If no language can express our anguish;
Until Faith sheds its heavenly rays,
Until you hear Taillkenn's hymn of praise,
And the voice of the Christian bell!
Then, ordering her horses to be harnessed to her chariot, she set off west, letting the four white swans swim on the lake.
Our father will watch and cry in vain;
He will never see us come back.
Four beautiful children, happy at home;
Four white swans on the feathery foam;
And we will live on the waters for all eternity,
By storms driven from shore to shore.
The four white swans of Lake Darvra.
When Eva arrived at Bove Derg's house, the lords welcomed her, and the king asked her why she had not brought Lir's children to him.
"Because," she replied, "Lir doesn't love you anymore, and he doesn't want to entrust his children to you, lest you harm them." "
The king was very astonished and disturbed by this, and he said, “How can this be? Because I love these children much more than I love mine. "
But he imagined in his mind that Eva had hatched some betrayal against them. He sent quick messengers north to Shee Finnaha, inquire about the children, and request that they be sent to him.
When the messengers had delivered their message, Lir was surprised, and he asked, "Didn't the children reach the palace with Eva?" "
They replied, “Eva came alone, and she told the king that you refused to let the children come. "
Lir's heart was sad and aching when he heard this, and then he was convinced that Eva had annihilated her four beautiful children. So early the next morning his chariot was harnessed for him, and he set out with his retinue for the king's palace, and they traveled at full speed until they reached the shore of Lake Darvra.
Lir's children will approach the cavalcade, and Finola says these words:
I see a magical troop of warriors,
From the ridge over there, come to the shore;
I see them descend into the valley,
Their bent chariots advancing slowly;
I see their shields and the golden meshes,
Their spears and helmets sparkling intensely.
Ah! I know this proud crew well;
I know their thoughts too well today:
The Dedannan troop and the royal Lir;
Four pink children they are looking for:
Too early, alas! they will find us here,
Four snowy swans like talking children!
Come on, dear brothers, let's approach the coast,
To welcome Lir's mysterious troop.
Oh, sorry welcome! lamentable day,
Who will never bring a brilliant tomorrow!
Unhappy father, condemned forever
To mourn our fate in hopeless pain!
When Lir approached the shore, he heard the birds talking, and, in astonishment, he asked them how it was that they had human voices.
“Know, Lir,” Finola said, “that we are your four children, who have been turned into swans and condemned by the witchcraft of our mother-in-law, our own mother's sister, Eva, because of her dire jealousy. "
When Lir and his people heard this, they uttered three long, painful cries of grief and lamentation.
After a while, their father asked them: "Is it possible to restore you to your first forms?"
"It is not possible," replied Finola; “No man has the power to set us free until Largnen from the north and Decca from the south are united. Three hundred years we will be on Lake Darvra, three hundred years on the currents of the Moyle Sea, three hundred years on the Sea of Glora to the west. And we're not going to return to our human form until Taillkenn comes with his pure faith in Erin, nor before we hear the voice of the Christian bell. "
And again the people uttered three loud cries of pain.
“Since you have kept your language and your sanity,” said Lir, “come ashore, and you will live at home, conversing with me and my people. "
“We are not allowed to leave the waters of the lake, and we can no longer live with our people. But the wicked Eva has allowed us to keep our human reason, and our Gaelic language, and we also have the power to sing the plaintive music of the fairies, so sweet that those who listen to us would never want to know any other happiness. Stay with us tonight, and we will sing our music for you. "
Lir and his people remained on the shore of the lake and the swans sang their slow fairy music, which was so sweet and sad, that the people, as they listened, fell into a calm and sweet sleep.
By dawn the next morning, Lir got up, and he said goodbye to his children for the moment, to go get Eva.
The time has come for me to go:
Never again, alas! my dear children,
Your pink smiles will not brighten my heart,
Nor the light in Lir's dark house.
Dark was the day the first time I took
This Eva live with me!
Hard was the heart of the woman who operated
This cruel and evil fate!
I lie down to rest, in vain;
Because during the endless sleepless night,
My little adored ones, such as in themselves,
Still stand there in front of my eyes.
Finola, once my pride and joy;
The dark Aed, adventurous and daring;
The brilliant Ficra, amiable, mischievous boy;
And little Conn, with his golden curls;
Tied to the reed-covered shores of Darvra,
By Eva's evil magical power:
Oh, children, children, never again
My heart will never know an hour of peace!
Lir then went away, and traveled southwest until he reached the king's palace, where he was received, and Bove Derg began to reproach him, in Eva's presence, for not having brought the kids.
“Alas,” said Lir, “it was not by me that the children were prevented from coming. But Eva, your foster child, their mother's sister, by a felon trick has transformed them by her sorcery into four white swans on Lake Darvra.
The king was confused and distressed by this news, and when he looked at Eva, he knew by her face that what Lir had told him was true, and he began to rebuke her in a harsh and angry voice.
“The wicked trick you have committed,” he said, “will be worse for you than for the children of Lir, for their suffering will come to an end, and they will be happy at last. "
Again he spoke to her more fiercely than before, and he asked her which form among all the others, on the earth or above the earth, or under the earth, she hated the most, and in which she dreaded being transfigured the most.
And she, who was obliged to answer sincerely, declared: "An air demon". "This is how you will look," Bove Derg said, and as he spoke he hit her with a druidic wand, and transfigured her into an air demon. She opened her wings, and flew with a cry up high and far through the clouds, and she is still an air demon, and she must remain an air demon, until the end of the time.
Then Bove Derg and the Dedannans gathered on the shore of the lake, and camped there, for they wished to stay with the birds, and listen to their music. The Milesians ran up and camped there in the same way, for historians say that no music that was ever heard in Erin could be compared with the song of these swans.
And so the swans spent their time. During the day they conversed with the men of Ireland, both the Dedannans and the Milesians, and chatted lovingly with their foster friends and companions, and at night they sang their slow and sweet fairy music, the sweetest ever. had never been heard by men, so that all who listened to him, even those who were in sorrow, sickness or pain, forgot their sorrows and sufferings, and fell into a sweet sleep, whence they woke up happy and radiant.
So they continued, the Dedannans and the Milesians, in their encampments, and the swans on the lake, three hundred years. And at the end of this time, Finola said to his brothers:
“Do you know, my dear brothers, that we have come to the end of our stay here, and that we only have this night to spend on Lake Darvra? "
When the three sons of Lir heard this, they were in great distress and grief, for they were almost as happy on Lake Darvra, surrounded by their friends, and conversing with them from day to day, as if they had been in the their father's house in their own natural forms, when they should now live on the dark and stormy sea of Moyle, far from all human society.
Early the next morning they arrived at the lake, to speak to their father and their friends for the last time, and to say goodbye to them, and Finola sang this lai:
Farewell, farewell, our dear father!
The sad last hour has come:
Farewell, Bove Derg! farewell to all,
Until the terrible day of the curse!
We leave beloved friends and landscapes,
For a house of sorrow and sorrow;
And that day of misfortune
Must come and finish,
Before we meet again!
We will live for centuries on the stormy Moyle,
In loneliness and fear;
The sweet words of loving friends
We will never hear them again.
Four happy children a long time ago;
Four swans white as snow today;
And on the wild sea of Moyle
Our covers will be
Cold and salty spray.
Over there on the misty river of time
When three hundred years have passed
Three hundred more in the storm and the cold,
On the desolate shores of Glora;
Until the noble Decca was Largnen's wife;
Until North and South unite;
Until the hymns are sung,
And let the bells ring,
At the dawn of the light of pure faith
Arise, my brethren, from the waves of Darvra,
On the wings of the south wind;
We leave father and friends today
Behind us in immeasurable pain.
Ah! sad, separation, and sad our flight
To Moyle's tempestuous heart;
Because the day of misfortune
Must come and finish,
Before we meet again!
The four swans then spread their wings, and rose above the surface of the water in plain sight of all their friends, until they reached a great height in the air. Then, after resting looking down for a while they flew straight north, until they reached the Moyle Sea between Erin and Alban.
The men of Ireland were affected by their departure, and they made a law, and proclaimed throughout the land, that no one was to kill a swan in Erin from that day forward.
The four white swans on the sea of Moyle
As for the children of Lir, their refuge was miserable and their situation bad on the sea of Moyle. Their hearts were twisted with pain for their father and their friends, and when they looked towards the steep, rocky coasts, which stretched far away, and saw the great dark and wild sea around them, they were overcome with fear. and despair. They also began to suffer from cold and hunger, so all the hardships they had endured on Lake Darvra seemed nothing compared to their suffering on the Moyle Sea Current.
And so they lived, until one night a great storm hit the sea. When she saw the sky filled with dark and threatening clouds, Finola spoke to her brothers:
“Dear brothers, we are ill prepared for this night, for it is certain that the coming storm will separate us, and now we must choose a place of meeting, or we may not see each other again. "
And they replied: "Dear sister, you speak truthfully and wisely, so let us choose Carricknarone, because it is a rock that we know very well. "
And they chose Carricknarone as their meeting place.
Midnight came, and with it the onset of the storm. A wild and brutal wind swept across the dark sea, lightning streaked [the sky], and great waves arose, and their violence and roar increased.
The swans were quickly scattered over the waters, so that not a single one of them knew in which direction the others had been driven. Throughout that night they were tossed about by the roaring winds and waves, and it was with great difficulty that they preserved their lives.
Towards morning the storm subsided, and the sea became calm and smooth again, and Finola swam towards Carricknarone. But she couldn't find any of her brothers there, she couldn't see any trace of them when she looked all around the top of the rock overlooking the broad seafront.
So she was terrified, because she thought she would never see them again, and she began their plaintive lament in these terms:
The heartbreaking anguish and misfortune of this life
I am no longer able to bear them:
My wings are numb with this merciless frost;
My three little brothers are scattered and lost;
And I am left here in despair.
My three little brothers, I won't see them anymore
Until the dead rise from the grave:
As I often sheltered them with my wings and my chest,
And I soothed their sorrows and rocked their rest,
As the dark night fell around us!
Ah, where are my brothers, and why have I lived,
This last affliction the worst to know?
What is left now if not a life of despair?
Because, alas! I am no longer able to bear
This heartbreaking anguish and this misfortune.
Soon after, she looked out to sea again, and she saw Conn coming towards the rock, with her head bowed, and her feathers all soaked in the salt spray, and she greeted him with a happy heart.
Shortly afterwards, Ficra appeared, but he was so weakened by the rain and the cold and the hardships, that he was barely able to reach the place where Finola and Conn were standing, and when they spoke to him, he couldn't utter a single word in return. So Finola put them both under her wings, and she said:
“If Aed were here now, everything would be happy for us. "
In no time they saw Aed coming towards them, his head held high, his feathers all dry and beaming; and Finola gave him a cheerful welcome. She then put it under the feathers of her breast, while Conn and Ficra remained under her wings, and she said to them:
“My dear brethren, although you may judge this night to be very bad, we will have many like it from now on. "
So they lived for a long time on the sea of Moyle, experiencing difficulties of all kinds, until one winter night a great wind, snow and very severe frost came upon them, such as none of this. they had endured could not be compared to the distress that night. Finola spoke these words:
Our life is a life of misfortune;
No shelter or rest, we find:
Let the snow rush sharply;
How cold is this winter wind!
Frozen sea spray,
From the dark north-easterly wind,
I protect my three brothers,
Under my wings and my chest.
Our mother-in-law sent us here,
And we know the distress well:
In the cold and hunger and fear;
Our life is a life of misfortune!
Another year passed on the Sea of Moyle, and a night of January, a terrible frost fell on the land and the sea, so that the waters froze and became a solid floor of ice all around them. The swans lay on Carricknarone all night, and their feet and their wings were caught in the ice, so that in the morning they had to struggle hard to leave their place, and they left the skin of their feet, the feathers of their wings and the feathers of their breasts clinging to the rock.
"Sad is our condition, tonight, my beloved brethren," declared Finola, "we are forbidden to leave the sea of Moyle, and yet we will not suffer the salt water, for if it enters our wounds, I fear that we do not die of pain. "
And she said this lai:
Our fate is deplorable here today;
Our naked and frozen bodies,
Soaked in the sour and brackish spray,
And torn apart on this rocky hill!
Cruel the jealous heart of our mother-in-law
Who banishes us from the house;
Transformed into swans by magic art,
To row the foam of the ocean
This dark and snowy winter day,
Our bath is the vast ocean;
In the scorching summer ray that thirsts,
Our drink is the brackish tide.
And there, in the midst of steep rocks, we remain,
In this stormy bay;
Four children bound by an enchantment;
Our fate is deplorable today!
They were forced to swim the Moyle Current, however, wounded and torn as they were, for if the brine was harsh and bitter they could not avoid it. They stayed as close as they could to the coast, until after a long time the feathers of their breasts and wings grew again, and their wounds were healed.
After that, they lived there for many years, sometimes visiting the shores of Erin, and sometimes the Cape of Alban. But they always returned to the Sea of Moyle, for it was destined to be their abode until the end of three hundred years.
One day they arrived at the mouth of the Bann on the north coast of Erin, and looking inward, they saw a large troop of horsemen approaching directly from the southwest. They were mounted on white horses and dressed in brightly colored clothes, and as they ascended towards the shore their weapons glistened in the sun.
"Don't you know that cavalcade over there?" Finola asked his brothers.
“We don't know them,” they replied, “but it is probable that they are a group of Milesians, or perhaps a troop of our own people, the Dedannans.
They swam to the shore, to find out who the strangers were, and the horsemen on their side, when they saw the swans, immediately recognized them, and walked towards them until they were within earshot.
In fact, it was a group of Dedannans, and the lords who commanded them were the two sons of Bove Derg, King Dedannan, namely Aed of the Spirited, and Fergus the Chess Player, with a third of the Fairy Army. They had long searched for the children of Lir along the northern coasts of Erin, and now that they had found them they were merry, and they and the swans greeted each other with tender expressions of friendship and love. 'love. Lir's children asked for [news] from the Dedannans, including their father Lir, and Bove Derg, and all the rest of their friends and acquaintances.
"They are all well," replied the chief, "and they and the Dedannans in general are now gathered at your father's house in Shee Finnaha, celebrating the Feast of Time, pleasantly and pleasantly." Their happiness would indeed be complete, except that you are not with them, and that they do not know where you have been since you left Lake Darvra.
“Miserable has been our life since that day,” said Finola, “and no language can tell of the suffering and pain we endured on the sea of Moyle.
And she sang these words:
Ah, happy is Lir's bright home today,
With the mead, the music, the leaves of the poets:
But dark and cold the home of her children,
Forever cast on the brackish scum.
Our twisted feathers are thin and light
When the strong wind blows in the winter night:
Yet often we were dressed, a long time ago,
Of purple coats and snowy furs.
On the dark Moyle stream our food and our wine
are sandy seagrass and bitter brine:
Yet often we feasted in ancient times,
And we drank the nutty mead out of golden goblets.
Our beds are rocks in soaked caves;
Our lullaby the roar of the waves:
But rich and soft layers we once had,
And harpists rocked us every night to put us to sleep.
Lonely we swim on the stormy current,
Through frost and snow, through storm and rain:
Alas for the days around us came
Lords and princes and friends we loved!
My little twin brothers under my wings
Hold tight, when the north wind stings bitterly,
And Aed snuggles up close to my chest;
Thus, side by side in the night we rest.
Our father's tender kisses, Bove Derg's hugs,
The light of Mannanan's divine face,
The love of Angus, all, all are lost;
And we live, on the waves for eternity!
After that, they said goodbye to each other, as Lir's children were not allowed to stay away from Moyle Current. As soon as they separated, the Faerie Cavalcade returned to Shee Finnaha, where they reported to the Dedannan Lords all that had happened, and described the plight of the children of Lir. And the lords answered:
“It is not in our power to help them, but we are happy that they are alive, and we know that in the end the enchantment will be broken, and that they will be released from their sufferings. "
As for the children of Lir, they returned to their home on the sea of Moyle, and they remained there until they reached the end of the years.
The four white swans on the western sea
And when their three hundred years were completed, Finola said to his brothers, “It is time for us to leave this place, for our time here has come to an end. "
The hour has come, the hour has come;
Three hundred years have passed:
We leave this dark and sad house,
And we're flying west, at last!
We leave the Moyle stream forever;
On the clear cold wind we go;
Three hundred years around the island of Glora,
Where winter storms blow!
There is no sheltered abode, no place of rest,
From the angry breath of the storm:
Flee, brothers, flee, to the far west,
Because the time has finally come!
So the swans left the Sea of Moyle, and flew westward, until they reached Irros Domnann and the sea around the Isle of Glora. They stayed there for a long time, suffering greatly from storms and cold, and in no way better off than they were in the Moyle Sea.
It happened that a young man named Ebric, from a good family, the owner of a piece of land along the shore, noticed the birds and heard their songs.
He took great pleasure in listening to their plaintive music, and he came down to the shore almost every day, to see them and to converse with them, so that he came to love them very much, and they appreciated him. too. This young man told his neighbors the story of the talking swans, so that the news spread far and wide, and it was he who shaped the story, after hearing it from the swans themselves, and told it as it is told here.
Once again their sorrows began again, and to describe what they suffered on the great western sea would only repeat again the story of their life on the Moyle. But one particular night came, it froze so badly that the whole surface of the sea, from Irros Domnann to Achill, froze to a very great depth and the snow was blown by a northwesterly wind. That night it seemed to the three brothers that they could not endure their sufferings any longer, and they began to complain loudly and pitifully. Finola tried to console them, but she was not able to do so, as they were moaning even more, and then she began to moan with the others.
After a while Finola spoke to them saying: “My dear brethren, believe in the great and splendid God of truth, who made the earth with its fruit, and the sea with its wonders, put your trust in him, and he will make you. will send help and comfort. "
“We believe in Him,” they said.
“And I too,” said Finola, “I believe in God, who is perfect in everything, and who knows all things. "
And at the appointed hour they all had faith, and the Lord of heaven sent them help and protection, so that neither cold nor storm struck them from that time on, as long as they sojourned on the sea. from West.
So they continued [to live] on Irros Domnann, until they had fulfilled their allotted time there. And Finola addressed the sons of Lir “My dear brothers, the end of our time here has come, we are now going to visit our father and our people. "
And his brethren were happy when they heard it. So they rose lightly from the face of the sea, and flew east with joyful hope, until they reached Shee Finnaha. But when they alighted, they found the place deserted and lonely, its rooms were all in ruins and covered with tall grass and forests of nettles, no houses, no fire, no trace of human presence.
Then the four swans gathered together, and they uttered three dismal cries of pain.
And Finola sang this lai:
What does this sad, this terrible change mean,
Who dries up my heart of misfortune?
My father's house, sad and lonely,
Its rooms and gardens invaded by weeds,
A terrible and strange reversal!
No conquering hero, no hunting dogs,
No shield in a row on its walls,
No shiny silver goblet, no merry cavalcade,
No assemblies of young people or noble ladies,
To brighten up its desolate rooms!
A harbinger of sadness that the house of our youth
totally in ruins, abandoned, and bare.
Alas for the leader, the gentle and courageous;
His glory and his sorrows are silent in the grave,
And we still have to live in despair!
From ocean to ocean, from age to age,
We have lived the fulfillment of times;
a life such as men never heard the same,
In suffering and sorrow our fate was sealed,
By the merciless crime of our mother-in-law!
The children of Lir stayed that night in the ruins of the palace, the home of their ancestors, where they themselves had been fed, and several times during the night they sang their sad, sweet fairy music.
Early the next morning they left Shee Finnaha, and flew west to Inis Glora, where they landed on a small lake. There they began to sing so softly that all the birds of the neighborhood gathered round them in a troop on the lake, and on its shore, to listen to them, so that the little lake was called the lake of the Troops of Birds.
During the day, the birds usually flew to distant places on the coast to feed, sometimes to Iniskea of the Solitary Crane, now called Achill, and sometimes south to the rocks of the Sea of Bonn, and to many other islands and headlands along the West Sea shore, but they returned to Inis Glora every night.
They lived this way until Saint Patrick came in Erin with pure faith, and until Saint Kemoc came to Inis Glora.
The first night that Kemoc spent on the island, Lir's children heard his bell at the hour of the mastiffs, tinkling faintly in the distance. And they greatly shuddered, and sprang up, and ran like fools, for the sound of the bell was strange and terrible to them, and its chords filled them with great fear. The three brothers were more frightened than Finola, so they left her almost alone, but after a while they came to her, and she asked them:
“Do you know, my brothers, what is that sound? "
And they replied, “We heard a weak, frightened voice, but we do not know what it is. "
"It is the voice of the Christian bell," declared Finola, "and now the end of our suffering is near, for this bell is the signal that we will soon be freed from our enchantment, and freed from our life of suffering, for God wanted it. "
And she sang this lai:
Hear, O swans, the voice of the bell,
The sweet bell we have dreamed of for years;
Her notes fluttering on the night breeze say
May the end of our long life of pain be near!
Hear, O swans, the heavenly chords;
It is the ringing of the sweet bell of the anchorite on the mastiffs:
He came to free us from sorrow, from pain,
Cold and stormy shores where we stay!
Have faith in the glorious Lord of heaven;
He will free us from Eva's druidic spells:
Be grateful and happy, for our freedom is near,
And listen with joy to the voice of the bell!
Then his brothers calmed down, and the four swans remained listening to the music of the bell, until the clerk had finished his mastiffs.
“Let's sing our music now,” says Finola.
And they sang a deep, sweet and plaintive chord of fairy music, to praise and thank the King, High and great, of heaven and earth.
Kemoc heard the music from where he was, and he listened in astonishment. But after a while it was revealed to him that it was Lir's children who sang this music, and he was happy, for he had come to seek them.
When morning rose, he came to the shore of the lake, and he saw the four white swans swimming on the water. He spoke to them, and asked them if they were Lir's children.
They replied, "We are indeed Lir's children, and we were metamorphosed into swans long ago by our wicked mother-in-law."
“I thank God for having found you,” said Kemoc, “because it is for you that I came to this small island in preference to all the other islands of Erin. Come now to the earth, and trust in me; for it is in this place that you are destined to be freed from your enchantment. "
They then came, filled with joy at the words of the clerk, to the coast, and placed themselves under his care. He led them to his own house, and sent for a skillful workman, he made him make two sparkling and thin silver chains, and he placed one chain between Finola and Aed, and the other chain he placed it between Ficra and Conn. .
They thus lived with him, listening to his teachings day by day, and joining his devotions. They were the joy and pleasure of the cleric and he loved them, with all his heart, and the swans were so happy that the memory of all the sufferings they had suffered during their long life on the waters now caused them neither pain nor distress.
The Children of Lir regain their human form and die
The king who reigned over Connaught at this time was Largnen, the son of Colman, and his queen was Decca, the daughter of Firmin, king of Munster, the same king and queen that Eva had spoken of in her prophecy long centuries before.
then tales of these wonderful speaking swans were brought to Queen Decca, and their whole story was told to her, so that before she even saw them, she could not help but love them, and she was seized. of a strong desire to own them herself. So she went to the king, and begged him to go to Kemoc and get the swans. But Largnen says he didn't want to ask Kemoc for them. Whereupon Decca became indignant, and declared that she would not sleep another night in the palace until she had obtained the swans for her. So she left the palace immediately, and went south, to her father's house.
Largnen, when he found out she was gone, hastily sent after her, saying he would try to get the swans, but the messengers did not reach her until she reached Killaloe. However, she returned with them to the palace, and as soon as she arrived the king sent to ask Kemoc to send the birds to the queen, but Kemoc refused to give them.
This made Largnen very angry, and he immediately left for the cleric's house. As soon as he arrived he asked the clerk if it was true that he had refused to give the swans to the queen. And when Kemoc replied that it was true, the king, very angry, went to where the swans were standing, and, seizing the two silver chains, one in each hand, he pushed the birds aside. the altar, and turned to the door of the church, intending to bring them by force to the queen, as Kemoc followed him, alarmed by fear that they would be hurt.
The king had hardly advanced, when suddenly the white feather garments faded and disappeared, and the swans returned to their human form, Finola transformed into an extremely old woman, and the three sons into three weak old men, with white hair, gaunt and wrinkled.
When the king saw this, he rushed forward in terror, and immediately left the place without uttering a single word, while Kemoc rebuked him and bitterly castigated him.
As for Lir's children, they turned to Kemoc, and Finola said:
“Come, blessed cleric, and baptize us without delay, for our death is at hand. You will mourn for us afterwards, Kemoc, but the truth is that you are no more saddened at parting from us than we are at parting from you. Dig our grave here and bury us together, and as I often sheltered my brothers when we were swans, place us in the grave like this: Conn beside me on my right, Ficra on my left, and Aed in front of me. "
Come, blessed cleric, with the book and prayer
Baptize us and confess us here:
Hurry, clerk, hurry because the hour has come,
And death is finally near!
Dig our grave, deep, deep,
Near the church that we have loved so much;
This little church, where we first heard
The voice of the Christian bell.
As often in life my dear brothers
I comforted near me until I fell asleep
Ficra and Conn under my wings,
And Aed in front of my chest;
So place them both on either side
Very close, like the love that binds me;
Place Aed so close in front of my face,
And put their arms around me.
So we will rest for eternity,
My dear brothers and I:
Hurry, clerk, hurry, baptize and confess,
Because death is finally here!
Then the children of Lir were baptized, and they died immediately. And when they died, Kemoch lifted up his eyes, and behold, he saw a vision of four beautiful children, with shining silver wings, and their faces beaming with joy. They looked at him for a moment, but while looking at him, they disappeared upwards, and he did not see them anymore. And he was filled with contentment, for he knew that they had gone to heaven, but when his gaze returned to the four bodies lying in front of him, he became sad and wept.
And Kemoc had a large grave dug near the little church, and the children of Lir were buried together, as Finola had requested, Conn on his right hand, Ficra on his left, and in front of his face Aed. And he lifted up a mound over them, and set up a tombstone over it, with their names engraved in Ogam, after which he lamented for them, and their funeral rites were performed.
So far, we have told the distressing story of the fate of Lir's children.