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THE THREE DAUGHTERS OF THE KING OF THE SEA by Terry Flanagan

FOREWORD: In the Folklore of Ireland and other maritime countries, there is a profusion of stories concerning seals. Possibly due to the fact that they come ashore and that their head, when seen at a distance above water, bears a resemblance to a human head, it was said that they were human beings under a spell. In other tales they were called Selkies, mythological creatures who could take on a human form.

A Selkie on Inis Oírr wearing her hood!

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Many years ago, there was one family of Conneelys (Ó Conghaile) living in Errismore very close to the sea. They had one son, a fine young man. On May Day each year, three seals used to come ashore on a very big flat rock that was high above the tide. There was a cave, five or six yards deep, at the back of the rock, under a cliff.

When the seals came up on the rock, each of them used to take off the hood that was tied about its neck and throw it into the cave behind them. As soon as they took off the hoods, they became the three finest women that the sun had ever shone upon, and they would go out swimming, each with a golden head of hair. The third woman was the most beautiful of all. When they grew tired after swimming for two or three hours, they would come back on to the rock again. Each of them would then take her own hood and tie it about her neck. She would become a seal immediately. After spending about half an hour on the rock, the three seals would dive into the sea together and disappear from sight.

Young Conneely used to watch them every May Day. He liked the youngest woman best of all. He was working in the field one day at the end of Spring when he met an old man who he never saw before. He spoke to the old man, each of them telling his own story. Conneely told him about the three seals that used to come to the rock every May Day.

'There's one of them a lot nicer and more beautiful than the other two,' said he.

'I'd say that you have a liking for her,' said the man.

'Indeed, I have,' said Conneely. 'I'm in love with her, but I've no chance of ever getting her.'

'I have an idea who they are' said the man. 'I have heard talk about them. What would you give to the person who would tell you the way you might get the one you want?'

'Oh, I'm only a poor man,' said Conneely. 'All I could give you as a reward is my seven thousand blessings.'

'That's a good reward,' said the man. 'I'll tell you what you must do. When next May Day comes, hide yourself in the cave early in the morning, and when they throw their hoods into it, you must put the young seals hood inside your shirt. Keep the other two hoods in your hands. The three women will be screaming and wailing, each of them asking for her own hood, and saying that their father will kill them if they aren't home by a certain hour. They are the three daughters of the King of the Sea. You mustn't give the youngest woman her hood, at any price, no matter what screaming and complaining she does. Give the hoods to the other two. Then walk towards your house, and the youngest one will follow you. You must hide the hood in a place she'll never see it. If she does, you'll have finished with her.'

'You may be sure that I'll never give her the hood,' said Conneely. 'I love her too much for that!'

The old man then stood up and left, and Conneely never laid eyes on him again. May Day came, and at dawn, Conneely hid himself in the cave. Soon the three seals came up to the rock. Each of them took off the hood, and threw it into the cave, and they were the finest women to have ever raised their faces to the sky. The youngest was the most beautiful of all. When the three women jumped in to swim, Conneely picked up her hood and shoved it inside his shirt. He kept the other two in his hands. He waited until they came back to the rock. When they saw him with the hoods in his hands, they asked him for them, but he refused. They started to wail at the top of their voices, saying that their father would kill them if they weren't home early in the evening. He threw her hood to the eldest, and to the second eldest. The two seals jumped into the sea together and swam off.

The youngest seal was left behind, and her cries could be heard for miles. He told her that he wouldn't give her the hood and he asked her to go home with him. She had no wish to, but she had no option but to follow him to his house. She spent the night there, and they got married the next day. He hid the hood in the roof of the house, between the thatch and the sods. They lived happily together, and five sons were born to them. There wasn't a better worker to be found. But each day, when he was out at sea, fishing, she would weep her fill.

One fine summer's day, the husband was out at sea, fishing, and his wife was working in the fields. When she looked back at the house, it was on fire. There were two or three other houses nearby and she shouted to them for help. Two or three men came and started throwing water on the burning thatch, while she stood watching them. Suddenly, a large clump of thatch fell down near her and in it was the hood. She grabbed it, tied it about her neck and she was immediately turned into a seal. She ran down to the sea and was gone.

Her five sons followed her to the shore but failed to find her. They returned home, crying for their mother. When Conneely returned home in the evening, the house was half burned, his wife had gone and the children were waiting for him. He sat down with them, and he too cried his fill until morning. As soon as the children got up in the morning, they went down to where they had seen their mother go into the sea, hoping to see her. And they did. She came in close to the shore where they were and spoke to them. And there wasn't a day that came during the next five years that they didn't go down to the sea, and she came every day and talked to them. When the five years were up, she told them that they would never see her again.

There were very few Conneelys in Errismore at that time. But you couldn't count all of them now, that descended from the five sons of the seal-woman. That's why, to this very day, it is said that the Conneelys are related to the seals.

You can read about the seal colony on Inis Oírr here.

Irish Seals: The Three Daughters of the King of the Sea - An article provided by The Information about Ireland Site.

Áras Éanna, our local arts centre has launched it's summer 2019 schedule.

We are privileged to have a great arts centre in Inis Oírr. The management there have been doing fabulous work and continue to attract artists and performers of great renown. Aras Éanna is a multi functioning arts space that includes an artists studio space, a 75 seat theatre, two galleries and a café. There are also various rooms for workshops or classes. It provides a rare opportunity to see some of these local, Irish and international acts in an intimate venue.

You might come to Inis Oírr especially to see a particular act or artist, or just happen to drop to the arts centre as you pass by. Either way, you are sure to find it a unique experience. You can see the current schedule on their website here.

To find Áras Éanna, just continue on past Cill Ghobnait (number 12 on our map) up the hill for about 150 yards.

The Burren Slow Food festival begins in Inis Oírr this year. We are big fans of the slow food movement. Its philosophy of Good, Clean and Fair food complements our belief in sustainable low impact tourism. This festival is organised by Slow Food Clare which has peen promoting local and traditional food for 15 years.

The festival kicks off with a seafood supper in Tigh Ned on Friday 10th May. This is a great endorsement of the quality local fare that they have been serving in Tigh Ned for a number of years. Their crab salad and fish battered in the craft beer Inis Beer are so sought after you may need to book ahead!

Indeed the foodie culture in Inis Oírr has been steadily establishing itself for several years now. Teach an Tae serves homegrown produce and was included in the Top 100 Places To Eat in Ireland by the Irish Times in 2017 & 2018.

With an ever increasing number of quality food options there is even more reason to visit us in Inis Oírr!

Cleasathon Brochure

The Inis Oírr Cleasathon 10k and 5k road runs take place on 13th April this year. By now a well established annual event, it has been kindly handed over to our local secondary school Coláiste Ghobnait to organise. The students will develop and promote the event as a business project.

Thanks to the cleasathon team for their great work to date, and the best of luck to the students and all involved. Ná lagfidh Dia sibh!

Visit their website to register here

This year Inis Oírr Currach Races will be held on the last weekend of July (28/7/19) -subject to the weather conditions. The festivities include Tug O'War, weight throwing, kid’s races and other competitions as well as music and craic. For the latest updates check out their facebook page.

A currach is a traditional Irish boat with a design which is unique to Ireland & Scotland. It has evolved over time, and there are many regional variations. A modern currach is constructed with a timber frame, a canvas is stretched over the frame and it is then coated in tar. This makes a lightweight and versatile boat. In good hands, it is capable of handling surprisingly heavy seas.

The currach was an integral part of island life for centuries. It was a working boat, used for fishing, cargo and transportation. The tradition of currach racing has been kept up on each of the islands and most seaside towns around the west coast.  For more information check out this article about its history.

This year we have expanded our family range of bikes to include tag-alongs. These are perfect for younger family members who may not be up to cycling for long on their own. They get to cycle or coast as they wish, while feeling like they have their own bike. Tag-along bikes have been such a hit that we have already ordered more!

The recommended age group for the tag-alongs is 4 to 10 years up to a maximum weight of 75lb (34Kg)

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