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Seals Have Mysterious Role in Ancient Irish Lore

Harbor seals hauled out on the rocks in Long Island Sound.

St. Patrick’s Day and seals aren’t a pairing that immediately comes to mind. But, according to Irish lore, there may be more to our seals than meets the eye.

Legend throughout Ireland and Scotland speaks of seal-folk, known as selkies (or selchies), who can shed their seal skin and walk on land in human form.

The most popular tales tell of selkies, usually women, who come ashore as fair maidens.  If a man is able to capture and hide her shedded skin, the selkie becomes bound as his wife. However, if she can find her skin, she is free to return to her home in the sea.

There are many stories depicting the selkie and there’s even “A Selkie Song.” Or, check out the classic movie The Secret of Roan Inish for Hollywood’s take on the mystical creatures (and some gorgeous shots of the Emerald Isle, as well)!

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The Maritime Aquarium inspires people of all ages to appreciate Long Island Sound
and protect it for future generations. A vibrant and entertaining learning environment,
it achieves this goal through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education.

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