The Children of Lir

The Children of Lir is a story I read when I was younger and the memory of the sadness evoked by that book is still with me. 

I suppose I could speculate that I remember it well because it was beautifully written and illustrated (which it was), or because I was young and impressionable (which I also was), but I think it was both of those things, combined with the fact that many, if not most, stories for younger children have got a happy feel to the book, whereas this one didn’t. 

And while you could argue that this story has in fact got a happy ending, I remember at the time thinking that the happy ending did nothing to compensate for the miserable and lonely lives the swans lived when they were trapped in their swan bodies for 900 years! 

The dog-eared version I have (from 1983) by Michael Scott is full of wonderful references to old Ireland and the legends from long ago.  The story is about 4 siblings who were changed into swans by their wicked step-mother.  They were forced to live for 900 years on the lakes and seas of Ireland.  The only thing she could not do was take away their voices and so they sang and talked in the story.

It is a book you could easily read to a younger child or one that an older child would enjoy for themselves and I would recommend it to anyone (young or old) who is interested in magical and mythical Irish stories.

Children of Lir

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.