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Legend of the Selkie


Have you seen a mermaid type woman, but she didn’t have a fish’s tail? You may have stumbled upon a Selkie. They are legendary creatures from Ireland and Scotland, many of the stories come from the Orkney Islands. Even the name itself comes from the early Scots word selich which means seal.



The basic legend goes that a Selkie would live out her life in the water as a seal-like creature. When she would venture on land she would shed her skin to become a beautiful woman. Many times a passing fisherman would find her discarded furry attire and take it with him. This meant that the poor Selkie could not return home to the sea. She would then be trapped on land with the fisherman until he gave back her seal skin or she could steal it. In many of the stories, this did not happen until she had a few children first. In others she may choose to stay on land to be with her love (the fisherman) until years pass and she yearns to return to the freedom of the sea. Overall these are usually tragic love stories.

Today the Selkie is still one of the lesser known of the Celtic legendary creatures, but if you find yourself looking at the image of a woman and the sea, but no fish scales in site, you can let your friends knot the story of the seal women known as Selkies.

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