I’ve posted earlier versions of this one, but here is the version I currently do at circles:
The Sailor and His Wife
There was a sailor from Waterford, and he had the perfect life. He loved the sea, the salt spray in his face, he loved his wife. He was as carefree as a southern breeze.
His wife died of a fever while he had sailed away. When he returned, she was already deep in the dirt. He never got to say goodbye
The sailor raged at this injustice. It was not her time, he cried, and he swore that he would not rest until The Lord returned her to the living.
With the sea as his companion, he sailed far and away. He took pilgrimage to every shrine, prayed to every saint, begged the Lord for mercy. There was no answer.
The Lord would not hear him, so he took his plea to the gods of his father’s father’s father. He sailed to Ynis Mon, and there drank the henbane tea. He awoke on a crystal ship pulled by shimmering souls, and in the center stood the god of the sea and ferryman to the Otherworld, Mannanan Mac Lir. He begged Mac Lir to bring his wife back, how he was doing his duty to the sea when she was taken. He wept tears as salty as any ocean.
It had been many years since anyone had prayed to Mac Lir, and the sailor was one of his own. “I will grant you this boon on one condition. You must give up what you love most. You must give up the sea. If you ever set upon the sea again, I will reclaim what I have given.”
The sailor did not hesitate, though he knew the ache in his heart, he chose love.
When he returned to Waterford, his wife was waiting for him.
They lived in bliss for many, many years, with many children, but every morning the sailor went down to the shore and watched the rolling of the waves. His wife never questioned why, for she never knew the pact he made with Mac Lir.
After forty years, the sailor died. His wife, now very old, knew how he loved the sea, and instead of burying him deep in the dirt, she set him in a boat and with the help of their children, cast him into the sea. When the boat was no longer in sight, the waves capsized the little boat, and Mac Lir took all that belonged to him.
When the sailor reached the Otherworld, his wife was waiting for him. They lived in bliss for eternity.