Children of Lir

The Children of Lir legend is of particular interest to the people of South Armagh since the Palace of Lir was located hereabouts, South Armagh, in the townland of Armaghbrague and reputedly about a mile from the present day Newtownhamilton. 

We were also [Slieve Gullion etc.] the hunting ground of such legendary heroes as Finn MacCool and of Cuchullain.  When Christianity came to these shores, Patrick is said to have set up his first Church in Armaghbrague [which is how it got its name, and the story is told on this website] and we have the site of St Moninna’s convent [Killeavy old churches] and St Bridget’s well just a mile away.  We have more ancient megalithic sites of the early inhabitants and invaders, per square kilometre, than anywhere else in Ireland.

Why would the visitor go elsewhere? 

But I set out to tell you of the Children of Lir.


After the Milesian conquest, the de Danann chose Bov the Red over Lir as their King.  The latter withdrew to Shee Finnehy [‘Stronghold of the White Field’] under a large hill in Armagh.  Bov the Red wished to appease his rival and he offered Eve, his foster daughter in marriage to Lir.  The union was very happy and blessed in time with two sets of twins, Finola and Aed and Fiacra and Conn.  Sadly Eve died after the second birth.  After a suitable period of mourning Bov offered the hand of his second foster daughter Eva to Lir.  In the end it was accepted.

Eva settled in Shee Finnehy and tended her husband and his children dutifully.  They loved her and Lir again knew great happiness. 

But then the fiend of jealousy entered Eva’s heart.  She grew to believe that the love, attention and care showered on the children belonged of right to her.  Nothing could console her.  One day she ordered her chariot to be yoked and ordered the children to accompany her to the king’s [their grandfather’s] palace at Lough Derg. 

When she had gone some way she stopped the chariot and tried to persuade the servants to kill the children.  They, horrified, refused.  When they arrived at Lake Derravaragh in the centre of Ireland, she again stopped.  She ordered the children to bathe in the lake while the horses rested.  When they entered the lake she struck them one by one with a druid’s wand and changed them into four beautiful snow-white swans. 

The rest of the story later!

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