It is said among the scops of
the O’Sullivans of Kerry
that in pagan times their ancient
ancestor tricked a moruadh
into marrying him, and that
this strange union brought him great wealth.
The first O’Sullivan was a
simple fisherman until the
day he witnessed a moruadh
come out of the sea and shed her
cloak in order that she might bask
naked in the warmth of the sun.
Now it is a known fact that the
power of the moruadh to
live in the sea derives from their
enchanted hooded sealskin cloaks.
When wearing them at sea they are
indistinguishable from seals.
Knowing this, O’Sullivan stole
her cloak while she slept and hid it
in the thatched roof of his hovel.
Robbed of her special garment, the
helpless moruadh agreed to
wed O’Sullivan and further
she agreed to bear him children.
It is worthy of note that the
ladies of the sea are not like
mermaids of Hans C. Andersen —
lady on top and fish below.
The absurdity! How could that
work sexually speaking? No,
a moruadh appears as a
human being except for a
little bit of webbing between
the fingers and toes, and flatter,
wider feet to aid in swimming.
This moruadh had knowledge of
the location of shipwrecks that
held a wealth of golden treasure,
and so O’Sullivan became
the richest man in Ireland.
He built a great castle but did
not raze his hovel — rather he
kept it as a storage shed, for
in its straw roof was hidden the
ultimate source of the power
that he must use to keep his wife.
But O’Sullivan’s good fortune
was not to last, for one day a
storm came and washed his wealth away.
His castle reduced to ruins,
he returned to his hut only
to find it destroyed, and his wife
discovered her old cloak amongst
the wreckage. When she donned it, the
sea called her back to its bosom.
She abandoned her husband and
children and was ne’er seen again.
Destitute and broken hearted,
O’Sullivan built his hovel
anew and took up his old nets
to be fisherman once more.
[The poet, author, and gentleman songster, Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD, resides in Kansas with his wife, children, and a poorly trained Airedale terrier. He maintains a part-time medical practice, is a member of the Codex Writers’ Group, and is the editor of Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine. Visit him at www.eretzsongs.blogspot.com.]