Emerald Isle

Irish Fairy Tales

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore, Irish fairy tales and More Irish Tales and Legends

Irish and celtic folk tales and fairy tales

Irish fairy tales have their roots in the distant twilight evenings of our ancestors, gathered around a wood fire in their homes or while out hunting or travelling. In this way they passed on the legends of those who came before them, warned of spirit-haunted glens and hills, and delighted young and old alike. Eyes would sparkle in the ruddy light of the flames and shared laughter or fear brought everyone closer together.

Of all the many lands under the sun, none have such a diversity and depth of fairy and folk stories as Ireland. Some of more recent vintage, many much older, and yet others dressed in modern clothes but whose substance has its foundation in far more ancient and eldritch stories passed from parent to child if not by the great bards themselves, read on to learn more of these living legends!

Stories that we call fairy tales were not the same as proper bardic histories and retellings like the Ulster Cycle, the Historical Cycle, the Fenian Cycle, the Mythological cycle, or even the Voyages, whose tellers were subject to strict rules and harsh discipline in order to make certain they were not changed from generation to generation.

They were not moral stories, meant to teach a lesson or educate listeners in proper behaviour. Neither were they parables, masking a deeper meaning in mundane words. They were and are as wild and as meaningless as the fairies themselves, as life itself can seem to be sometimes.

Around those crackling hearths danced the Banshee, the Dearg Due, the Pooka and the Gan Ceannach. The Cailleach wove her dread webs and wily adventurers stepped nimbly through them, deep wells spoke forgotten wisdom and gates opened through the old tombs, leading to strange worlds and places that could never be.

When you read a fairy tale you sit by the fireplace with those generations who came before, and thrill alongside them. Are many fairy tales based on real events and people, transformed by the storyteller's art? Some would say it could well be the case, but others would warn against being too shallow in our understanding of them.

Many of the fairy tales we enjoy today come from folkloric recorders in the 19th century, who put them down on paper for the first time in history, people like WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Edmund Leamy, and so we know that our sources can be relied upon. The likes of Oscar Wilde and so on wrote their own fairy tales in the early 20th century, but these often have the flavour of Germanic or general European stories, and so bring a different kind of enjoyment.

Before you lies one of the greatest collections of Irish fairy tales in the world, uniquely mapped out and chronicled for your pleasure – enjoy!


Irish Fairy Tales and Irish Folklore

If you'd like to leave a tip, just click here!

Archaeological information is licensed for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence from the National Monuments Service - Archaeological Survey of Ireland.

Note that this license DOES NOT EXTEND to folkloric, mythological and related information on the site. That data remains under full private copyright protection