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all proceeded together somewhat joyfully, until they came to Fioncha. They found the place where their father's palace had stood, and all around it, without either house or inhabitants, but everything looking dreary and dull. They saw smoke at a distance, and the four came towards it, and uttered three mournful cries, and Fingula repeated these words :
A mournful wonder is this place to me,
Which once I knew so well!
Where Lir was wont to dwell.
Nor welcome spoken!
My heart is broken.
This was not in our father's time of old,
A loveless, lightless waste,
Or princely guest to taste.
Is bleak and lonely!
Save memory only.
Holds all who once were dear!
But keener grief is here.
Through dry leaves creeping !
The children of Lir remained in the place where their father and their ancestors had lived, and where they had themselves been nursed and educated, and late at night they began to sing most melodious music. In the morning they took wing and flew until they came to Inis Gluaire Breanain, and they began to sing there; so that all the birds of the country that could swim came to that place, which was called Lochan na Heanlaithe (or the Lake of the Birds). They continued in that condition for a long time, until the Christian doctrine was preached in those countries, when St. Patrick came to Ireland, and St. Macaomh Og came to Inis Gluaire Breanain. The first night he came there the children of Lir heard the sound of the bell ringing near them, and were greatly rejoiced. They hastened towards the place from whence they heard the bells, and the three sons of Lir made such speed that they left Fingula by herself.
“What is the matter with you, dear brethren ? " said Fingula.
“We cannot tell,” they replied, “ we know not how to account for the heavenly music we have heard.”
“I will explain it to you,” said she; “ that is the bell of Macaomh Og, and it is by him you shall be released from your pain and trouble, and you shall be comforted”; and she said these lines :
List, list to the sound of the anchoret's bell,
Who clings to his doctrine with constant rudeavor,
List, children of Lir, to the sound of the bell. The children of Lir were listening to the music of the bell until the saint had finished his prayers.
“Let us now," said Fingula, "sing our own music to the great Ruler of the heavens and the earth”; and they sung the most melodious-strains of praise and adoration. Macaomh Og was listening, and in the morning early he came to the Lake of the Birds. Coming close to the shore, he asked them, were they the children of Lir?
“We are, indeed,” they answered.
“I am most thankful to hear it,” said he, “for it was to relieve you that I was sent to this island, rather than to any other part of Ireland.”
On hearing these words the children of Lir came to the shore, and depended on his word. He took them down to his residence, where they remained listening to his instructions and joining in his devotions day after day. Macaomh Og sent for a craftsman and desired him to make two silver chains, which he accordingly did. One of them he put between Eugene and Fingula, and the other between Cornn and Fiacra.
The king who governed Conact at that time was named Lairgnean, the son of Colman (the same of whom Fingula had spoken to her father on the Lake of the Speckled Oak), and his queen's name was Deocha, the daughter of Ingri, son of Black Hugh. Deocha came to hear of the wonderful birds, and, being seized with a violent desire of possessing them, requested the king to procure them for her. He replied that he could never persuade himself to ask Macaomh Og to give them up. Deocha, enraged at his refusal, declared that she never again would spend a night within the palace of Glairgnea, as the king's residence was called, unless she got the swans; and, leaving the palace, she travelled to Kill da Luadh (now called Killaloe) and took up her abode at her own home. When Lairgnean found her so resolute, he sent a messenger three several times for the birds, but could not obtain them. Then he came himself to Macaomh Og, and asked him if it were true he had refused his messengers.
“It is true," answered Macaomh Og.
“Then,” said the king, “it is true, likewise, that I will take them with me whether you are willing or otherwise.”
As he said this he rushed toward the altar near which they stood, and seized the two chains which coupled them together. No sooner had he done so, than the swans lost their plumage, their beautiful feathers disappeared, and the three sons of Lir appeared three withered old men, with their bones seeming to project through their skin; while Fingula, instead of the graceful swan that sung such enchanting strains, became an old shrivelled hag, fleshless and bloodless. The King let fall the chains, and returned home, while Macaomh Og uttered many lamentations after the birds, and pronounced a malediction on Lairgnean. Fingula then said :
“Come hither, holy father, and give us baptism, for we are as much concerned at parting with you as you in parting with us. You are to bury us together in this manner. Place Cornu and Fiacra at my back, and place Eugene before me”; and she again said, “Baptize us, holy father, and make us happy."
After that they departed this life, and the children of Lir were buried by Macaomh Og as Fingula had desired. He raised the earth in the form of a tomb, and placed a stone over them, on which he carved their names in the Ogham character, and wept bitterly above their grave. It is thought that their souls went to heaven. For Lairgnean, who was the immediate cause of their death, Macaomh Og predicted his fate in the following lines :
Ill shoot of Colman's royal line,
Thine own cold heart shall feel,
Thou whose unholy zeal
Her fruitless rapine wail,
A shivering spectre pale !
Ill shoot of Colman's royal line ! Not long after, Lairgnean and his wife died a sudden death, according to the prediction of Macaomh Og, which concludes the history of the Swans of Lir.