Episode 41: Irish Fairylore 2 – Fairymore?

“No matter what one doubts one never doubts the faeries”

Carbury Castle
The ruins of Carbury Castle, the site of the first story

The second of two episodes on Irish fairy lore with three more tales of the Aos Sí. If you’ve missed part 1 it’s here: Episode 40: Irish Fairylore 1 – Aos Sí what you did there

Featuring a new trendy get rich quick scheme (robbery), absolutely banging tunes and highly restrictive music licencing laws, and what’s sure to be a heroic rescue!

And I even include a Leprechaun (kind of)!

I’ve tried over these two episodes to give a good selection of the kind of stories that feature fairies from all across Ireland – but there are hundreds, thousands of stories, and this little look at them has barely scratched the surface.

If you want more stories then do scroll down to the links to The National Folklore Collection, and you can also find a little on other items mentioned in the podcast – turf cutting, the Puck Festival and some tunes played on the Uilleann pipes.

“Get him in sight, hold him tight!”

— William Allingham – ‘The Lepracaun’

National Folklore Collection digitisation

The process of folklore collecting as recorded in the archive The Photographic Collection, M010.18.00108,  CC BY-NC 4.0 

As I mention at the end of the episode a lot of my material for this came from dúcahs.ie, the National Folklore collection digitisation project, all available online for your perusal.

This really is such an exceptional resource – basically as many folk stories as you want, many of which you’ll have never heard or read before, plus insights into all kinds of different areas of folklore and life in the past generally.

I thoroughly recommend exploring it yourself if you’re so inclined, there’s a great weekly pick here, which is a decent place to start: Weekly Pick.

You should also consider checking out their own genuinely excellent podcast: Blúiríní Béaloidis (The podcast is English language).

But if you want guidance from me here are some stories I’ve enjoyed stumbling across on a variety of topics. While all these stores are in English there is a lot of great Irish content on there as well, so if you can speak Irish you’ll get even more out if it.

I make no claim that these are the best of what the archive has to offer. These really are just a few I randomly stumbled across and enjoyed I also reserve the right to tell any of these on future podcast episodes!

Enchanted Frogs – a proper lengthy fairy tale type of story featuring frogs, giants, rainbows, a wise man and not one but two march cocks. (A March cock is a magical animal in a number of Irish folktales – a cockerel born from an egg laid in the first Tuesday of March and hatched out on a Tuesday of the same month)

A mother comes back – A fairly horrifying story about the faeries and the dead and awful parents – no winners in this one.

A battle with a ghost A reminder of why you don’t get into a fist fight with a ghost/

Some later collecting, from 1985. The Photographic Collection, M010.01.00488

John Cloney was in a wake in Glynn – One of those accounts that’s not really a story but a reporting of facts, featuring a death marked by strange and terrifying events – a storm and a fetch

There was a boy and a girl going together – Not my usual type of story for the podcast but this is just a little slice of life tale of two gold diggers and the thwarting of their plan, that particularly tickled me

Michael Roberts – the local Necromancer – No Necromancy happens in these very short little accounts of a clearly very powerful wizard using his powers for petty fraud and I especially love his lizard-like defence mechanism

The Merrimaid – A fairly typical mermaid story but featuring the odd, but not unique, detail of mermaid traits passed down not to her children, but to the children of the man who abducted her when had them with another woman.

A Hidden Treasure – A very short hidden treasure story with a brutal ending

Turf cutting – as mentioned in the third story of the episode The Photographic Collection, B025.18.00001CC BY-NC 4.0

Uilleann Pipes

In the second story of this episode I make reference to the Uilleann pipes but am unable to include much music actually played on the pipes, as I was unable to find much material licensed correctly. If you’re interested in hearing the sounds of this distinctly Irish instrument then there’s a great selection of tunes in this video below. Tunes may or may not have come from the fairies.

The Puck fair

In the second story I briefly mention the Puck fair in Killorglin – a fair that goes on to this very day and now attracts tourists from far and wide. It’s particularly notable for the goat that is crowned King of the Fair for its duration.

Though it is now a modern affair and there are modern videos available on it I was particularly taken with the charm of this 1965 video on the topic.

Selected Sources

For more general sources on Irish Fairylore see the list in the sources for Episode 40: Irish Fairylore Part 1

Musical credits for Episode 41: Irish Fairylore 2

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Welcome to Tales of Britain & Ireland: A podcast telling folktales, myths and legends from across Britain and Ireland. Hosted by Graeme Cooke.

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