Between land and sea, there is a place where myths are real.

“You’re going to love this movie!”

There was no escaping my Mom’s enthusiasm.  I had not even heard of “The Secret of Roan Inish”, but my mother is renowned for her exquisite taste in all things, so obviously I didn’t question her judgement.  

Cover of "The Secret of Roan Inish"

Cover of The Secret of Roan Inish

I was born in Miramichi, New Brunswick.  The salt and sand is in my blood.  Many legends speak of those born near the water and if they find themselves landlocked, they experience an indescribable longing that lasts all their days.  So understandably, I have always been drawn to any story that takes place near the water.  Even a glimpse of that life is enough to sustain me, if only for a little while.

The Secret of Roan Inish is set on the West Coast of Ireland in the 1940’s.  It follows a girl named Fiona who is sent to live with her Grandparents.  She soon becomes privy to the whisperings in the Village concerning her family’s relationship with the Selkies of Roan Inish and the truth about the disappearance of her baby brother, swept out to sea in his cradle.   

Selkies are a part of the Faerie Realm and can be found in Icelandic, Faroese, Scottish, and Irish legends.  They live as seals but are able to shed their skins and live on land.  If you find a Selkie’s skin and hide it from them, they are not able to return to their true form.  Many fishermen have taken Selkie brides, but soon realize that human rules do not apply to these beautiful and mysterious creatures. Not much has been written about Selkie men, but I do know that they typically seek out women who are unhappy in their marriages.  If a woman wants to call to a male Selkie, she must shed 7 tears into the sea.  This love affair will be like no other, but be warned, the Selkies cannot stay.  They must return to the sea, often leaving heartbreak in their wake. 

Stamp FO 580 of the Faroe Islands: The Seal Wo...

Stamp FO 580 of the Faroe Islands: The Seal Woman (kópakonan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother was right.  “The Secret of Roan Inish” is a beautiful film and remains one of my favorites.  I went on a girls weekend to Canmore, Alberta a few years ago and brought it for our movie night.  As I was watching it, something occurred to me that hadn’t before.  A “what if” question started to form and from that, a story was born.  There’s nothing more exciting than diving deep into the myths and legends of the Faerie Realm.  I am still in the research phase and look forward to seeing where this one takes me. 

“The Secret of Roan Inish” is based on the novel “The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry” by Rosalie K Fry and newer editions of the book now boast the same title as the film.

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2 Comments

Filed under The Faeries

2 responses to “Between land and sea, there is a place where myths are real.

  1. Hello, KS – I have never heard of this movie, but now absolutely MUST see it. I mentioned the dream I had about silkies – it was almost a full year ago – and thought you might be interested in reading it. Here it is:

    PIRATES,SKILIES AND CHANTING FRIENDS, OH MY!!
    October 23, 2012

    I am with a small group of friends, and we are all at an ocean’s edge. The night is falling, and the water is turning very dark and choppy. Over the horizon, we see a fast-moving ship – it is full of sails and rigs, and somehow, even though we don’t see it, we know it’s flying The Jolly Roger.

    What follows is a series of images only, without any connections that I remember: We are on-board this pirate ship as stowaways; everyone is dressed in 18th century clothing; We forage for food; I am reminded of a Dr. Who episode, ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’; from my hiding place, I learn that these pirates are after “the biggest treasure of all!” And then it all becomes clear again.

    I am hiding at the bottom or a barrel through a small hole in the lid, as the captain spreads out a map . In the usual cliché way, an X marks the spot somewhere around the middle of the page. Beside him, I see a beautiful young woman with short black hair and haunting eyes. She’s dressed in nothing more than a plain white chemise. He grabs her hand as he jabs a dagger right at the X…

    … and suddenly, within a heartbeat, we are all standing in a very smelly old marketplace with dilapidated stalls and weather-beaten houses. The people don’t pay attention to us (yes, all of us stowaways have been discovered, but now are in no danger of walking the plank) as we make our way through the various poor displays. The good folks of the town are more interested in catching all the seals that have suddenly overtaken the streets. The people are catching them, and some are killed on the spot, but most of them are simply held captive by way of ropes, cages, and even with bare hands. I know immediately that this means fresh food for the people, seal skins to be made into coats and blankets. These people are desperate. When they finally see us, they are understandably afraid, and try to hide the seals.

    But that is not the reason we’re here, certainly not to plunder these poor folks. The young woman steps forth and lifting her hands calls out in a wild voice. Suddenly, all the seals surround her – somehow the cages and ropes and arms are insufficient to hold these animals – and escort her to the water’s edge. She turns to the grief-stricken people, who are now facing a very hard winter indeed, and promises them all their needs will be met. She steps into the water and immediately shrinks down, becoming a seal herself, a beautiful sleek black coated one.

    I get a final glimpse of the townspeople laughing and crying with joy that their Silkie has joined them again, before all quickly fades and I find myself on a reverse side of the beach. (It felt as though the reflections now became the reality.) This beach is occupied by a small group of my friends and me, and I am very happy to see that Adrienne is there. We’re all huddling for warmth, because the cold cutting wind is blowing straight off the white-capped dark waters. It’s insistent and intent on separating us, however, and soon we walk away from each other to stand some twenty yards apart. Sandbars appear, and we stand on these in a semi-circle around the ocean.

    Briefly, a shimmering woman rises out of the waves, the same Silkie that travelled on the pirate ship, and in a voice that was all waves and wind, tells us: “It is almost time – the end is nearly here. This is not the time to falter in your faith. This is not the time to try anything new. It is, rather, a time to fall back on your own Traditions and work your magick the way you were taught, each according to your own knowledge, and bring forth into Manifestation your connection with the Divine. You are all as wicks of candles, and together you will channel it all into One!!”

    Adrienne and I look at each other with new understanding. All around the beach I see men and women rising, hands uplifted, chanting. We smile in understanding as we too lift our hands and begin to invoke the Quarters…

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