In this mystical month of the rare, full-moon at Summer Solstice, the time has come for the Roaring Kelly Band to enlighten you about Selkies. The Selkies, known as Seal-Faeries or Roan as they are called in Ireland, inhabit the seas around the islands of western Ireland, Orkney, and Shetland. These island dwellers have numerous legends relating to the Selkie-folk who are not malicious creatures but rather gentle shapeshifters with the ability to transform from playful seals into beautiful, nimble humans. How do Selkies accomplish this mystic feat? In some folk tales the magical transformation occurs once a year, usually on the Summer Solstice or on Midsummer’s Eve. Folklore tells us that once in human form, the Selkie-folk merrily dance on the moonlit seashore or bask on sun drenched rocks. Some tales tell of onlookers who unintentionally disturb the Selkie-folk during their dances. The Selkies then quickly snatch up their skins and run swiftly back to the safety of the sea. If for any reason they lost their seal skins, they would be unable to change back and would be trapped in human form.
Storytellers often spin tales of male members among the Selkie folk who had many trysts with human females, married and unmarried. A Selkie man in human form is a handsome, charming creature with almost supernatural seductive powers over mortal women. These Selkie-men shed their skins, hide them carefully, and head inland, seeking illicit relations. Should any mortal woman wish to make contact with a Selkie-man, she should simply shed seven tears into the sea at dawn during a high tide and a Selkie man would then appear to her at the last light of day.
If the Selkie-men are attractive in the eyes of earth-born women, the enchanting, alluring Selkie women are legendary. A female Selkie can shed her seal skin and become a beautiful, enthralling woman. A common thread in Selkie folklore are tales of young men who either trick or steal a Selkie woman’s seal skin thereby preventing her from returning to the sea. The men then force the Selkie to marry them, very often eventually siring children. She may even love the mortal man a little, but a Selkie never stops looking for her skin. In all the tales, the Selkie woman eventually finds her skin. It may take her a hundred years, but she finds it, and returns to the sea. Always.
It is also believed that certain families were descended from seals. These families were known as the ‘sliocha nan ron’. They were believed to be under the enchantment of the seals and to carry seal blood in their veins.
Often, the local people living on the islands can hear strange, sorrowful music out at sea that moves them deeply. This is the ‘Dan nan Ron’, the song of the seals, which can transfix the listener into a hypnotic trance of wonder and mystery making time stand still.
There are rumors that The Roaring Kelly Band harbors a Selkie among its members. Could it be our alluring and talented flute player whose wistful music so captivates and enchants? You’ll have to join us and listen to find out for yourself. You be the judge at our next Roaring Kelly Band performance this Sunday, June 26, from 4 to 6 pm at O’Connor’s Pub, 210 NE 2nd Street in Delray Beach.