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The Children of Lir is an Irish fairy tale that is one of the more well known and beloved of the country's mythology. Different versions of the tale exist, including a full length novelization by Michael Scott but in a nutshell the tale is as follows:

Lir of the title is a King in Ancient Ireland and a member of the Tuatha De Danann - a race of immortal fairies - and is married to a beautiful woman called Eve/Eva with four children Fionnuala, Aedh/Aodh and twins Fiachra and Conn. While the children are still young they lose their mother. In some versions she dies, others she goes into a long lasting sleep. After her death Lir marries her sister Aoife/Aife who initially loves the children but grows to hate them as she fears Lir loves them more than her.

One day Aoife takes the children to Lake Deravaragh (a real lake in Ireland) and casts an enchantment on them, transforming them into swans and forcing them to remain that way for 900 years. Per the terms of the spell they must spend 300 years on the lake, 300 on the Sea of Moyle and a final 300 on the Bay of Inish Glora and then they can early be turned back by hearing the sound of the Bell of New God. They live out the years of the enchantment and in the final years they cross paths with a Christian monk (in some versions St Patrick himself) who agrees to build a church and bell for them. The swans become famous for their beautiful singing voices and on the day they are to hear the bell the Princess of Munter demands to have them as a present. As they are taken away they hear the sounds of the bell and turn back into their human forms. Some versions have them turn into withering old people who die quickly. Others have them keep their youth since they are immortal.

Tropes used in The Children of Lir include: