Thursday, October 17, 2013

Merrow, not meow - Mermaid Myths Continued

Hi! Thank you for dropping in to Myth Perceptions where I'm sharing with you various myths and legends I've discovered while researching for my fantasy writing!

Sorry I'm late posting this month, friends. Continuing my research into mermaid myths around the world, I actually encountered a new "to me" myth - the Irish Merrow, thanks to one of my fav paranormal authors, Seanan McGuire.

In "One Salt Sea", half-fae heroine, October Daye, helps solve a kidnapping case involving the two sons of a Merrow and land Fae. If you haven't read any of the October Daye series, you should give it a serious look. You'll learn a LOT about the fae and October is an amazing character! 

So, what's a Merrow? A Merrow is an Irish mermaid or merman. Like most of the merpeople around the world, merrow are human looking from the waist up, fish from the waist down. The Merrow have a comb parting their green hair along crest of their heads and pale webbing between their fingers. They always wear magical red caps made, interestingly enough, of feathers. The cap is called a cohuleen druith which enables them to dive beneath the waves to return to their homes. The merrow often leave the sea to travel about on land, sometimes as small hornless cows or as lovely women wrapped in red capes. Without their cohuleen druith, they are stuck on land, making the caps their weakness. (I could find no explanation for the reason a mermaid would need help to go beneath the waves, and why a feathered cap.)

It is also said that they appear before storms and can capsize boats with careless disregard for the humans on board. Such actions can range from playfulness to fits of rage, but their fae nature makes them naturally careless of weak mortals.

The mermaids are beautiful creatures and enjoy dallying with human males. In the water, they can be wild and careless, but on land, they are gentle and affectionate, making them excellent targets for fishermen seeking amenable wives. If the cohuleen druith is hidden away, the merrow must stay on land, but if she ever finds the cap, she is inexorably drawn to return to the water, abandoning husband and family, never to return. Even with this threat of possible enslavement, female merrows actively seek human lovers and will lure men under the waves to live in enchanted pleasure.

The mermen are far less attractive with red eyes, rosy piglike noses, and gross bodies. They are said to be overly partial to whisky, hence the red noses and eyes. (This might also explain why female merrows are trolling in human "waters" for lovers, eh?) They will also capture humans, but to serve as slaves.

In conclusion, the merrow seem to combine several mythic forms--mermaid, siren, selkie--into one intriguing package topped with a jaunty red feathered cap.

Next month, I'll conclude the mermaid series with some general observations and conclusions. Hope you'll drop by.

Denise Golinowski is a reader and writer of fantasy and romance. Her newest enovella, Collector's Item, is available from  The Wild Rose Press.

Her first enovella, The Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and the Scholar is also available  through the Wild Rose Press. You can visit her blog at Golinowski's Gambol.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting how different cultures take the same general mythology and shape it as their own. Makes you wonder...are they REALLY myths? :-)