The Children of Lir

The Children of Lir, Gardens of Remembrance, Dublin

Visitors to the Gardens of Remembrance (An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin) in Dublin are presented with the impressive sculpture by Oisin Kelly, the ‘Children of Lir’. This Irish Legend tells of the Clann Lir and the story is recounted in one of the cycles of Irish mythology. The Mythological Cycle looks at the Tuatha Dé Danann a magical race of people who came to Ireland from four Cities in the north. Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions) compiled in the 11th Century tells how they arrived in 'dark clouds'. These people were attributed with supernatural powers and Lir was a Sea God and father of the legendary Manannán mac Lir.

Lir was also said to be the father of a daughter Fionnulla and three sons Aed, Fiachra and Conn. The statue in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance is based on the legend of these four 'Children of Lir'. Lir's wife and mother of his four children, Aiobh, died. Lir then married her sister Aiofe. In time she grew jealous of the children’s love for Lir and their mother and cast a spell upon them which changed them into swans. The spell was to last 900 years, 3oo years on Lough Derravaragh, 300 on the Sea of Moyle and 300 on Irrus Domnann near Inishglora. It would only be lifted when they heard the bell of the new God. Lir when he learnt of Aiofe’s act banished her to become a demon of the air.

After 900 years, when the time of the Tuatha Dé Danann had passed and aided by a monk, Mochua, the children heard the sound of a church bell. The spell was lifted and the children turned back into human form but aged rapidly and died.

The statue of 'The Children of Lir' in the Gardens of Remembrance depicts the rebirth of the Irish Nation after years of struggle. The Garden of Remembrance in Dublin is dedicated to those who gave their lives for Irish Freedom and was opened in 1966 by President Eamon de Valera on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The garden is located at Parnell Square at the northern end of O'Connell Street and was the site where a number of the leaders of the Rising were held before being taken to Kilmainham Gaol.


External links

The Manuscripts and Archives Research Library at Trinity College Dublin


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