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Welcome to your Library by the Sea! The following list of books will assist you as you learn about Selkies and the importance of seals in Irish tradition and folklore. Watch out for "+info" buttons, these can take you to links that contain more information if you would like to learn more.

Transcript

A Guide to Seals in Irish Tradition

Women of the Sea

The Selkie's Sorrow

The story of thady rua o'dowd

Folklore modernization

Welcome to your Library by the Sea! The following list of books will assist you as you learn about Selkies and the importance of seals in Irish tradition and folklore. Watch out for "+info" buttons, these can take you to links that contain more information if you would like to learn more.

A Guide to Seals in Irish Tradition

There are stories of fishermen hunting and wounding seals. They then find themselves caught in a bad storm out and sea and after the storm, they find themselves on an island they've never been before. On the island they meet a stranger who is wounded or scarred and they find out that it was the seal that they had injured. The stories end with the seal person asking them to promise to never hunt another seal.

Info

Selkie means "seal people" and refers to creatures who are half-fish or half-seal and half-human,and can be considered as Irish Mermaids.Internationally, it is believed that drowned people turn into seals. A breed of seals is despised and held sacred at the same time, because it is believed that they can become human under the seal skin.The Irish people believe that seeing a seal means that there will be a bad storm coming.

Women of the Sea

Selkies can be male, female, adult, and child. However, in folklore it is typically women who are found on the beach with their seal skins. They are usually caught by men and taken as wives.When a selkie becomes a human they shed their seal skin which can take the form of a coat or cloak. How men capture selkie women is by taking and hiding their seal skins. By doing so a selkie woman cannot transform back into her seal form, so she has no choice but to go with the man who stole her seal skin.

The Selkie's Sorrow

There is a sense of dissatisfaction wherever a selkie is. When they are seals, selkies yearn to be on land. When they become human and are captured, they mourn for and yearn for the sea, which they cannot return to unless they have their seal skins, which are hidden by their captors.

There is also a theme of child abandonment among selkie lore. When the selkie women are captured and married, they often have families and children. The stories tend to end with the selkies finding their seal skins, or their children finding and returning the seal skin. The selkie woman eventually returns to the sea, leaving their husband and children, and never being seen again.

The Story of Thady Rua O'Dowd

When Thady Rua O'Dowd rose to be the head of his clan he was to find a bride, which turned out to be a difficult task for him, as he had a hard time choosing. One day he took a walk on the beach to clear his head, when he stumbled upon a woman sitting on the beach combing her hair, with a cape next to her on the sand. He quickly fell in love with her, and knowing the stories of women from the sea, he quickly stole her cloak. Doing so made it so the seal woman, who was called Eve, could not return to the sea and she had no choice but to go with him. They married and started a family.

Eve always yearned for the sea. One day, one of their children saw Thady check on the place where he had hidden the seal skin cloak, and told Eve where it was. When she found it, she could no longer resist the tempation to return to the sea, so she left and took their seven children with her. When she returned to the ocean, she realized she could not take all of her children with her, so she turned five of them into rocks and left them on the beach, and took the remaining two with her as she went back into the sea.

Info

Folklore Modernization

It has long been said that the seal is the fisherman's enemy.

It is also believed that humans and seals are related, as seals tend to show human-like tendancies, such as bathing themselves and mothering their young. (There are accounts of mother seals breaking up fights between their young). As well as humans being born with webbed fingers or toes, which can be a sign of the relation.There are accounts of fisherman wounding or about to wound a seal and then the sea creature speaks and asks them not to hurt them.

+Info

  • The conversation regarding seals in Ireland is a conversation concerning the relationship between mankind and the natural environment.
  • Man harvests fur, meat, and oil from seals. Oil made from seal blubber is said to have healing properties.
  • Seals tend to steal fishermen's catch, so
fishermen try to kill the seals, which is contradictory becuse they are also held sacred in Irish tradition.

  • https://www.wildernessireland.com/blog/irish-myths-legends-part-4-selkies/#:~:text=There%20are%20many%20famous%20stories,could%20not%20makeup%20his%20mind.

More on Selkie Lore

  • https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/transcripts?SearchText=seals&SearchLanguage=ga&Page=1&PerPage=20
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAqXvNDBlPI

Youtube Link to a podcast! Give it a listen...

  • https://www.celtic-weddingrings.com/celtic-mythology/the-seal-people
  • https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/transcripts?SearchText=seals&SearchLanguage=ga&Page=1&PerPage=20