We sent our vision aswim like a swan on the river

14 November 2005

Sunday was Remembrance Sunday. We don’t really celebrate[1] this here in Ireland, mainly because of the whole evil English army part of our history. This despite the fact that thousands of Irish people volunteered and died in both World Wars.

You won’t see many people wearing poppies in Ireland, and the usual suspects[2] have done their best to portray the poppy as some sort of a glorification of the British Empire and Imperialism. Going so far as to say that if BBC presenters are “forced” to wear the poppy then it should also be compulsory for them to wear the Easter Lily[3] Quite how that works I’m not sure.

Took a wander round the Garden of Remembrance on Sunday. Although to be honest my visit had more to do with the fact that it was a sunny (if cold) day and I was a little bored of telly, than anything to do with Remembrance Sunday.

The Garden is dedicated to all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. The statue represents the Children of Lir

In Irish legend the Lir and his wife Aebh had four children; The eldest a daughter named Fionuala, and three boys, Aed, Fiachra and Conn. Aebh was the daughter of Bodb Dearg the ruler of the Tuatha de Dannan, but she died in childbirth. And Bodb offered Lir another of his daughters, Aoife, in marraige.

Aoife became jealous of Lir’s children, thinking tha Lir loved them more than her. She took the children swimming, and while they were in the lake she took her revenge. She cursed them to spend nine hundred years as swans. But these were the children of Lir the sea-god, and she could not take away their voices and eventually Lir discovered what Aoife had done.

But Lir was unable to break the curse. He told the Bodb Dearg what Aoife had done, and Aoife was asked what she feared most in the world. Forced to answer truthfully she said “to be a spirit of the air”, and so was transformed into that as punishment. But the four children of Lir could not be freed, not until the 900 years had passed. By this time Christianity had come to Ireland, and the bells of the churches broke the spell, turning the swans back into people. But they were children no more[4] four ancient people were baptised before they died, and were buried the way they had always lived – together, with Conn on Fionnuala’s right, Fiachra on her left, and Aodh between her arms.

Course, it is likely that the bits about the church and christianity were added in, and the church sought to adopt pagan rituals and legends into its own history.

There is a bit more to the legend that that brief outline. But that’ll have to do you.


  1. that sounds wrong, commemorate?
  2. Sinn Fein
  3. you won’t see all that many people wearing this either
  4. – You know, being 900 years old. They were wrinkly and decrpit and falling to bits…*for some reason this footnote did not appear, so I’ve redone it*

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