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Shell and The Children of Lir

Kevin G - Erris News December 2011

According to Shell’s latest Corrib Gas update, The tunnel boring machine (TBM) that is planned to tunnel under Sruwadducon Bay  has been named ‘Fionnuala’ in ‘honour’ of the children of Lir.

Children of Lir statue at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin

In the story of the children of Lir the 4 children Aodh, Fiachra, Conn and Fionnuala are stricken by their jealous step-mother Aoife and turned into swans. In some remorse for her terrible deed, she leaves them their human voices, to lament and sing of the terrible hardships of living on the sea. 900 years they are to live as swans. 300 years on Lough Derravaragh, 300 years on the sea of Moyle and 300 years on the seas off Iorras Domhnann.

Sruwadducon Bay  (the bay of the Dog of Conn) is named after Conn one of the children of Lir, as the seas off Erris are where the children of Lir spent their last 300 years. They returned to human form before dying and are said to be buried on Inis Gluaire.  The ground there is said to be sanctified.

‘Fionnuala the TBM’ is 140 m long and weighs almost 500 tonnes.  It is painted with the Mayo colours and will be transported to Erris for early next summer. Shell plan to bore a 4.5 m diameter 4.9 km tunnel up Sruwadducon Bay, to gas-pipe landfall site at Glengad Beach. Is this Shell’s gift to Sruwadducon, this ancient and beautiful area where some of the first Celtic peoples settled?  It seems more like ‘bod nimhneach an ghaill dhaill’  (the poisonous penis of the blind foreigner). Will Sruwadducon Bay be excavated and treated like  ‘collateral trash’?

The TBM is being constructed by 'Herrenknecht' close by the town of ‘Schwanau’ in Germany.  A Literal translation of Schwanau is ‘Swan of the little river’ , and the towns emblem is a swan. How insulting to the name and geist of their own town, that they should manufacture there such a machine. A swan to kill all other swans and drive them away.

Last year 27 swans (a conference of swans) gathered on the water in Sruwadducon. They stayed together as the tide rose and fell for a day before flying out of the bay to the sea. Swans are also associated with the Irish struggle for freedom.

It brings bad luck to those who kill them. Let us invoke the curse of Mannanan McLir (a Celtic god of the sea) on Shell, may their hopes founder and be crushed by the Sea.

In the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, there is a statue of the Children of Lir spiralling upwards as swans to soar into the sky. They are a symbol of peoples desire for Freedom. Do we want to throw our freedom away and give it to Shell?

Spirit of Place - The Children of Lir (monument at Ceathrú Thaidhg) by Lyle McElderry -

Posted Date: 
11 December 2011