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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) More Sidhe
Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 23:00:10 

Rostrum asks:

>>So, don't keep me in suspense--what happens to the children in the
original version?  Does it have the bit about the flock dwindling to a
single bird?  I think that's the coolest part of the story.  (Also,
Wolfe's bit about baptism captures what really happened to the pagans in
Ireland pretty well.  And the baptism vs. attempted immortality is what
makes it such a good end to Weer's story.)<<

Well, they weren't part of a larger flock, per se. The spell laid on them by
Aeife was that they retain the forms of swans (but with minds and speech
intact) for three periods of three hundred years each, each period to be
spent near a particular body of water. There were four swans. After many
hardships and nine hundred years (during which time the Tuatha Dé Danann
were supplanted by the Milesians), they found themselves in the same sorry
position that Ossian found himself upon his return from Tir nan og (the Land
of Youth); the old gods were gone and the land and people were much
diminished from their former glory. They retreated to an isle, where
eventually they came in contact with a holy man (Christian, of course).
Versions differ, but whether before or after baptism, they loose their swan
shapes and find themselves shrunken, ancient, and decrepit, near death. They
are converted and soon die and are buried together in one grave.

I have a variety of books on Irish mythology, folklore, fairy tales, etc.
The story is a well known one, easily found in most any book that covers the
subject. The details and spellings differ, but the basic story is the same
wherever it is found. I like Charles Squire's _Celtic Myth And Legend Poetry
And Romance_, first published in 1905 as _The Mythology Of The British


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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