[DWJ] RE: Dwj Digest, Vol 12, Issue 18

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Wed Aug 23 20:06:56 EDT 2006

Judith said...

>On 23/8/06 10:15 AM, "Gill Othen" <gill at othen.fslife.co.uk> wrote:
>> My memory is that it was an Irish tale and she made them shirts out of
>> nettles. (Fractionally more plausible, as nettles are fibrous like flax.) 
>> I
>> have one version which seems to link it to "The Wild Swans" group of 
>> stories
>> - brothers turned into swans, whose only hope is if she throws the nettle
>> shirts over them the one night in the year they resue human form briefly.

(IIRC, it was thistle-*down* she was using, which is at least more plausible 
than, say, spinning straw into anything at all, let alone gold.)

>Ahah! Yes--isn't there a statue in a park in Dublin of this story? Dorian?

Yes.  In the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square is a statue of the 
Children of Lir, halfway between swan and human, IIRC (haven't been to look 
in quite a while; it's a rather nasty 1950s job, I think).

For those who don't know the tale, the Children of Lir were three sons and a 
daughter who were turned into swans by their jealous stepmother.  They got 
to be human again for one night a year, until Christianity came to Ireland 
and a holy man (sometimes St. Patrick himself) turned them back, whereupon 
all the centuries they'd lived landed upon them at once and they immediately 
died and went to Heaven.  I often wonder what the pre-Christian denoument 

The daughter, at least in the version I know, is swanified along with her 
brothers, but she is the smart one of the siblings and generally advises and 
makes sure they all survive.

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though to run away."
-Wm. Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 

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