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The heART of Ritual


Irish Folklore: 'The Wise Wife and the Mermaid'

"There was supposed to be a Mermaid living in Lough Key. Long ago she could be seen sitting on a rock on the shore, every day, combing her lovely, long, fair curly hair, but if she saw any human-being coming near she would dive into the water again. One day when she was combing her hair as usual, she was caught by a fisherman. He brought her home and put her sitting on a chair in the corner of the kitchen. He tried to made her talk but he did not succeed because she would not say a word for him. The Mermaid had lovely, golden, curly and it was hanging loosely down her back. Half of her body was like that of a human, but the half of her body from the waist down, was like that of a fish. When the fisherman's wife came in, she was very angry, when she saw the Mermaid because she knew well, if her husband did anything to the Mermaid it would be very unlucky. The fisherman spent that evening making a cage and when he was going to bed, he put the Mermaid into it. His wife waited up late and when her husband was asleep, she opened the door of the cage and let the Mermaid free. The Mermaid was very grateful to her for letting her free, but still she did not speak a word, but when she was leaving the house, she waved her hand at the woman. Then she dived into the water and she was never appeared in the same spot again." As told in County Roscommon in 1938. From Art by Boris Diodorov.


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