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The Burren: The Legend of Connor O'Quin and the Swan Maiden

Tradition has it here that Connor O'Quin of Inchiquin had one day observed a beautiful lady on the southern brink of the lake, at a place called still Dúnán-Uí-Chuinn in the act of combing her hair, and being smitten with her beauty he made his way round from his own side of the lake to where he saw her, but when he arrived there she had disappeared. He went back disappointed and watched the next day for her re-appearance, which happened at the same time as on the day before, on which he made his way round towards her, but when he approached the place, she was again vanished from his view. He then resolved not to be foiled the third time, and taking his station the following morning behind a clump of trees near the spot where she appeared, he had not waited long before he saw her coming up out of the lake and throwing off a dark hood that covered her upper part. She commenced immediately combing her hair.

O'Quin, taking advantage of her long flowing hair covering her eyes for a moment, made a spring and caught her in his arms, without ever saying, your sarvant, madam, or any other dacent good-morrow of the kind, upon which she turned about at him and laughing asked him what he wanted with her; he said to make her his wife; she at once agreed, and giving him her hood to keep, went over to his Castle with him where they lived happily for three years.

Inchiquin Lake and Castle
Inchiquin Lake and Castle

In the meantime, the O'Brien of Leimeneagh and the other Chiefs of the Country proposed to hold a tournament and race at Comhad, upon which O'Quin's wife begged of him when he would go to the assembly neither to invite or reject the invitation of anybody at the assembly to feast. He promised to comply with her request, but forgot his promise, for he invited O'Brien who came with all his retinue to dine with him that evening. The lady had a plentiful and sumptuous dinner ready, which when she served up she left the company to enjoy, and taking her hood in her hand rushed out and plunged into the lake, and was never seen afterwards.

O'Quin and O'Brien played deeply at cards that night, when the latter had the good fortune to win the former's patrimony, and obliging him to quit his Castle, allowed him to build a place a little to the northwest, now called by some De Clare's ruins, but by others O'Quin's.

John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 'The antiquities of County Clare': letters containing information relative to the antiquities of the County of Clare collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1839. Ennis, Clasp Press, 1997.

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