Folktales about “sIlkies” (also known as selkies and selchies), seals who come ashore, shed their skins and take human form, abound in the Northern European countries of Iceland, Ireland and Scotland. These stories often weave tragic romantic themes of silkie lovers who must don their skins and return to the sea; and of human lovers who hide the skins so that the silkie becomes a prisoner of the land.

Silkies have been the subject of poems,
songs and movies. Perhaps the most renowned film is The Secret of Roan Inish, the tale of a baby raised by Irish silkies after being swept away at sea in a cradle. The rich heritage of the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland abound with silkie tales. To listen to a traditional Scottish melody used to call the seals, click here.

"When angels fell, some fell on the land, some on the sea.
The former are the faeries, and the latter were often said to be the seals."
~ anonymous Orcadian

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie In-depth information about silkie lore in history, music, books and film.

http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/index.html Excellent resource site about Scottish silkie lore and the history of the beautiful Orkney Islands.

http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Cafe/1614/Story/Silkie/Silkie.htm Silkie folktales and lyrics.

http://www.story-lovers.com/listsselkiestories.html Storytellers' story list of silkie tales.


For Children
Jackie Morris. The Seal Children. Frances Lincoln Children's Books. 2009. Ages 4 - 8.

Susan Cooper and Warwick Hutton. The Selkie Girl. Margaret K. McElderry. 1986. Ages 4 - 8.

Franny Billingsly.
The Folk Keeper. Jean Karl Books. 2001. Young adult.

David Thomson and Seamus Heaney (introduction). The People of the Sea: A Journey in Search of the Seal Legend. Counterpoint. 2002.

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photos copyright © 2007-2012
Robin Lindsey all rights reserved