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SO far as their legends and traditions of the Seal-folk
are concerned, Ireland, the Outer Hebrides, Argyll
and her Islands, the Orkney and Shetland Isles,
Caithness and Sutherland, and the north-east coast of
Scotland — and even Norway and Greenland, for that
matter — share a folklore very similar to one another.
Although to-day the Children of the Seals are barely
remembered in the Hebrides except by the older
inhabitants, traditions and folk-tales of this elusive race are
still current in western Ireland, and also in the Northern
Authentic data about the Seal-folk are rare ; and the
writings of few folklorists contain any record of them.
The following traditions are perhaps the best of those I have
collected over a number of years.
The Seal-folk in Ireland.
Until quite recent times, the inhabitants of Donegal and of
the many islands lying off the west coast of Ireland believed
the seal to be of human origin, and capable of casting its
skin and assuming human form. The natives of Achill
Island, for example, still speak of their seal ancestry; and
the old folks of Achill strongly resent the killing of seals
along the neighbouring coasts.
Authorities on Irish folk-lore tell us that the families of
Coneely, O'Sullivan, O'Flaherty, and Mac-na-mara are
directly descended from the Seal-folk. To this day it is
quite a common occurrence to meet in western Ireland Gaels
who not only accept the tradition of the Seal-folk, but even

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