Myths, Legends & Folklore
Artist Calls Accepted Artists
The Family Lir
This painting deals with the old Irish folk tale of “The Children of Lir”. The story tells of King Lir who married Aoibh, she bore him four children; Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra & Conn. Aoibh died and King Lir was sent a new wife, Aoife, who grew bitter and jealous of King Lir’s unwavering love for his children. She plotted to kill the children and due to their beauty and gentle nature she did not have the courage to kill them so instead she cast a spell on them changing them into beautiful white swans. The swans kept their human voices and it is said they would sing lamentful songs mourning the loss of their childhood. As swans, the children had to spend 300 years on Lough Derravaragh (a lake near their father’s castle), 300 years in the Sea of Moyle, and 300 years on the waters of Irrus Domnann. After 900 years a priest found the swans and after blessing them they changed into withered old people and died. They were buried in the same grave, together eternally.
This painting is a depiction of the story in a dramatic way. The main figures body is twisting and contorting into the shape of a swan while the other silhouetted figures represent the siblings already transformed. The stormy sky is symbolic for the turmoil and brutality felt by the children as their innocence is taken away through no fault of their own. The blue hue to this painting provides the tone of sadness and the protruding rock gives a sense of loneliness but not isolation as the children alway had a sense of companionship as they were destined to live the rest of their lives together. This story was engrained in our culture when I was a boy but the new generation of young people do not know anything of these old tales as they are not being told in schools anymore. Through these paintings I hope to spread these stories throughout the world so our Irish tradition of storytelling can be kept alive all while contributing to the arts.
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