The Legend of the Moruadh

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]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s