The Mermaid Rocks

(Local Castleconnor legend)

 

Thady Rua O'Dowd was elected chieftain of his clann after his father died. His first task, before he could take up the new position, was to find a bride. This was a difficult task since there were so many to choose from, and he found that those he liked most were cold towards him, while he wasn't fond enough of those who would have him for a husband. For weeks and weeks he paced up and down the golden sands of Enniscrone beach until one morning, as he rounded the bend at Scurmore, he saw the most beautiful maiden he had ever seen in his life. She was sitting on a rock combing her hair and singing a haunting sea-song. Thady crept up close to this beautiful creature from the sea, and, snatching her fish-tail cloak which lay beside her, he made his feelings known to her. He told her of his situation, and promised he'd love her forever and a day. She returned his love and they soon were married. Thady was the happiest man in the world that day and for many days and years to come.

To ensure his future happiness, he hid the fish-tail carefully where his new bride, Eve, would never dream of finding it, because he feared he would lose her if she discovered it. When spring came and the daffodils grew around his fort at Castleconnor, Eve bore him the first of seven fine strong healthy children. Summer followed spring, and autumn beckoned winter over several years, and when the youngest was able to run and leap like a hare, Thady had to leave his fort for a period. Before he left, he checked the spot where the fish-tail was hidden, and placed it in an even better hiding-place. The youngest child spotted Thady at this task and told Eve where his daddy had "hidden a bag of gold before he went away". When Eve found the fish-tail, the longing to return to the sea came back to her, and, gathering her seven children together, they set off for the sea at Scurmore.

They rested on top of the hill above Enniscrone and viewed the beautiful golden strand below, and Eve, knowing that she could not take all seven children with her into the sea, changed five of them into rocks. These granite boulders are to be seen to this day, close to the road at Scurmore, and are known as "The Children of the Mermaid". Eve and the two remaining children moved silently towards the seashore, and on the way one of those was turned into a rock. When she reached the water, she placed the youngest snugly inside her cloak and swam joyfully out to sea to meet the friends of her youth. She was never again seen.

All that remains of Eve's family are the six boulders, five arranged in a circle, and one larger boulder sitting on the slope looking out over Bartragh Island in Killala Bay.

It is said that the boulders weep each time an O'Dowd passes away.

The Mermaid Rocks, Scurmore, Enniscrone

Five of the children of the mermaid were turned to rocks here, another on the way to the sea, and she took one with her into the sea. Spot the water of Killala Bay in the distance, and Bartragh Island.

Map showing Mermaid Rocks

 

Detail from map of Scurmore, Co. Sligo, showing Mermaid Rocks and Scurmore Motte. The motte has a boundary wall around its base.

 

Mural in school shelter: Thady Rua's Castle

Mural in school shelter: Thady Rua O'Dowd

Mermaid Rocks with LEGO, Third Class

(Click image to enlarge)

Empowering Minds with LEGO

The school joined the Empoweringminds project in autumn 2000, and the three third class girls of 2003/2004, built these models to represent the legend of the Mermaid Rocks.

The girls worked as a team and it took three sessions to complete. The castle has a drawbridge which is raised and lowered by means of the lever on the wall at the left. Thady Rua O'Dowd is perched on top beside the modern day Castleconnor GAA flag. There is a pizza on the table on the green. The children are shown playing in boats and the black circular bricks are the granite boulders into which six of the seven will be absorbed for eternity.