Irish Folktales

Irish Folktales

3.92 (345 ratings by Goodreads)
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The 125 tales in this volume represent all facets of Irish identity. From the wild Gaelic west coast to the urban communities of Belfast and Dublin, this collection stretches from the first wars of the ancient kings to the celebrated Celtic renaissance and right up to the present more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 17mm | 253g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140175814
  • 9780140175813

Review Text

Many of these folk tales are culled from the collections of other folklorists; some have been gathered and first published here by editor Glassie. Divided according to subject (Faith, Wit, Mystery, History, and Fireside Tales), some are from modern times, some traditional; all parts of Ireland are represented. And as one would expect, there is charm aplenty. The language ranges from poetic ("Aye, it's nature breaks through the eyes of a cat, sure enough. When the moon is riding high and the wind tearing the trees, and the shadows black with cold, who is it calls them from the hearth? Tell me that? And obey they must, and obey they do") to droll ("He was so mean that his soul was as narrow as a knitting needle, and if you had a cold in the head he would grudge it to you"). The tales themselves are eloquent examples of the Irish love of humor and the Irish respect for the powers of the little people and the Good People (the fairies), saints and the devil - as documented in strange tales of banshees and changeling children, beautiful women who are really seals in human form, folks who offend the fairies in some way and suffer fearsome consequences. Though stories of the doings of ancient heroes are longer-winded and less involving than some of the stories on humbler subjects, no collection of Irish folklore would be complete without them. All in all, the tales seem to have been set down from tape recordings, and their charm is their artlessness, the fidelity of their rendering of the language and inflections of the storytellers. (A typical ending: "He was an old beardy man. I saw him. He's not so very long dead now. That's that.") Glassie's introduction is informative, too, about the tradition and methods of collecting folk tales, and about the problems arising from an outsider's distorting the tale by his presence, as well as by freezing an oral art form in ink. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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345 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 36% (124)
4 30% (102)
3 27% (92)
2 6% (22)
1 1% (5)
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