The most happiest times of my life have been spent in Southern Ireland, as a Child on holiday in Cork, especially County Cork and then later as a grown woman, as a widow with my two Sons in Killarney, Co Kerry and such fond memories of laughing, fun and living.

As a child I have many memories of times spent talking to my wonderful Grandad Thomas Tringle, who was bedridden and totally blind, I never knew Grandad to have sight, yet for me he was so wise and it was as though he could see  he told me so much and showed me love, Grandad was the finest man I have ever known.  Thomas Tringle lived and died in a little hamlet called Kippaugh (pronounced Kip-pork) near Dunmanway, County Cork, he was an honest, funny, always singing strong man who had been a hard worker all his life until an accident shoeing his horse, when the horse rose a leg and kicked Grandad in the forehead, he lost his sight there and then.  Yet I never once heard Grandad complain.  Grandad loved all animals, especially Donkeys, Horses and Dogs, from Grandad I found my great love for them too.   He loved the countryside, he loved people, he taught me about the Land and the power of the Land how it enters your heart and soul, he would tell me about the sky the sun, the stars and the moon, he told me about the Fairy Rings the Fairies, the little people and their pots of gold, he gave me love and taught me love, he loved life – he had so little but he had everything and I adored him, I Loved him and I still do.

I would sit on the big bed that Grandad spent all his time, I would feed him his breakfast and he was so precise, pointing to his mustache if just a spot of porridge or boiled egg was left on it.  Grandad would tell me stories, but what I remember most of all were those very strong arms around me, those broad shoulders, that grey mustache and Grandad singing, always singing, always happy.  Grandad died the Winter of 1960 he was 91 years of age, my mother, Grandad’s second daughter was not allowed to travel from England to Ireland for the Funeral, her Doctor said she could not cope.  We were told that several hundreds of people travelled from far afield to attend Thomas Tringle’s Funeral, thats how much he was admired and loved. Thomas Tringle was the only Grandad I had, my Father’s Parents John and Ellen Morrissey died within weeks or months of each other, I think it was 1939/40, my Father had not been married to my mother long when he had to travel home to Cork twice for his parents Funerals, near enough one after the other.  My Father John Morrissey, a very reserved non drinking, quietly spoken, very intelligent Irish man from Blarney absolutely adored his beloved Mother.   My eldest Son, Jonathan looks just like my Father and has many of his ways, but then people say Jonathan is a carbon copy of  me, it makes me happy that means I look like my Father – something my mother would say was not true.



Below is an ancient Irish myth, “Children of Lir”.  King Lir and his four children and his powerful wife Aoife, which forms the basis the ballet classic, Swan Lake.


Many years ago, in ancient Ireland lived a King and ruler of the sea, called Lir.  He had a beautiful wife, called Eva, who gave him four children – eldest son Aodh, a daughter called Fionnula and twin boys, Fiachra and Conn.  When the children were young, their mother Eva died.  King Lir and the children were very sad and King Lir wanted a new mother for his young sons and daughter, so he married Eva’s sister Aoife who, it was said, possessed magical powers.

Aoife loved the children and Lir at first, but soon she became very jealous of the time that the King spent with Aodh, Fionnula, Fiachra and Conn.  She wanted to have all of his attention for herself.  One day, she took the children to swim in a lake while the sun was hot in the sky.  When they got there the children took to the water, Aoife used her powers to cast a spell over the children, which would turn them all into beautiful swans.

She knew that if she killed the children, their ghosts would haunt her forever, so instead, she cast this spell, forcing them to live as swans for 900 years; three hundred on Lake Derravaragh, three hundred on Straits of Moyle, and three hundred more on Isle of Inish Glora.  The spell would only be broken when the children heard the ringing of a bell and the arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland.

But Aoife’s spell had not taken away the children’s voices, and so it was that these four beautiful swans could sing beautiful songs and were able to tell their Father what had happened to them.  King Lir, who had been searching for his children, came down to the lake and saw Fionnuala, now a swan, who told him of spell cast on them by Aoife.  Enraged, King Lir banished Aoife into the mist, and she was never seen again.

Although saddened by his children’s fate, King Lir remained a good father and spent his days faithfully by the lake listening to their singing.  Their three hundred years on Lake Derravaragh were filled with joy, but at the end of this part of their spell, the children had to say goodbye to their father forever.  They travelled to the Straits of Moyle, where they spent three hundred years enduring fierce storms and spent much time separated from each other.  But they survived these three hundred years and eventually traveled together again, to fulfil final stage of their spell, on a small saltwater lake on Isle of Inish Glora.


For Cheryl who has Ireland in her soul.





Songs that my Grandad would sing all the time, his voice I can still hear.  The picture below of the House covered in the Red Ivy, strangely looks like the house my Father was brought up in.  He was born in Blarney Village but they moved when he was a young boy to the Commons Road, Cork.







5 thoughts on “THE BEAUTIFUL SWANS

  1. Thank you, Anna! Swan Lake is one of my favorite ballets (only beat out by The Nutcracker!). But I’ve never heard the story, believe it or not, though I’ve seen it a few times. That’s very sad… But I also so loved your stories about your granddad. You should write so much more about those times. It’s easy to hear the love for the land in your voice. I was so sad when we ended up not going on the cruise since you’d told me how close we’d be to his house. It was HIS, right? I would so love to take a tour over there wth YOU!


  2. A beautiful share Anna Cottage. Family and special memories of loved ones who have passed on are so nourishing for the heart and soul. Your share rings in a warmness for the upcoming season! Hope you are enjoying your coffee and/or tea today.


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