The White TroutBecome a Patron!
Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales tales of Ireland
The strange tale of a long lost love from misty times of yore
They do say that once upon a time, long ago, there lived a lady of great beauty in a castle on a lake, and her hair was fair as gold, shining in the summer sun. She had been promised to a king's son, the lord of a nearby kingdom, but as he was coming to see her one dark November evening, who should come upon him but the warriors of a jealous lord who fancied the lady for himself, and they murdered him on the spot!
They cast his body into the lake and made no secret of their wicked deed, boasting of it in their own halls, until sure enough the lady heard tell and was struck with grief and sorrow. The story goes, she went out of her mind pining after him, for she was tender hearted as well as lovely, and was in the end taken away by the fairies of the loch.
In due course the Seanchaí have it that a strange trout was seen in the stream beyond, and people didn't know what to make of it, for a white trout was never before heard of. For years and years the trout lived there, beyond the memory of the oldest folk alive today.
At last the people began to think it must be some kind of fairy itself, for what else could it be? And no hurt nor harm was put to the white trout, until one day some wicked soldiers from a different land came to those parts, and laughed at everyone.
A grand merry joke they thought it, this reverence for a fish, and they jibed and jeered at the locals for thinking it. One of them in particular reckoned he'd put an end to this superstition by catching the trout and eating it for his dinner!
Sure enough he caught the trout, and away home with him where he put on the frying pan and dropped the trout into it. The trout gave a human screech, and the soldier near to split his sides laughing, for he was a hardened villain, and when he thought one side was done, he flipped it over and fried the other.
But what do you know, and not a singe was to be seen on the trout, which showed no ill from its predicament, save only the squealing! And the soldier thought it a queer trout indeed that couldn't be fried.
“But,” he thought, “I'll give it another turn till we see,” never thinking what was in store for him.
Eventually he thought that side was done, and he turned the trout over, but again, the side he thought done was uncooked!
“Bad luck to me,” said the soldier, “but that beats the world. I'll try you again my darling, as cunning as you think yourself!”
And with that he turned it over and over, but never a sign of fire was on the pretty trout.
“Well,” said the villain, “my jolly little trout, maybe you're fried enough, although you don't seem over well dressed, but you may be better than you look, like a singed cat, and a morsel after all.”
So he took his knife and fork and jabbed the knife into the fish, when there was a murderous shriek that you'd think would turn your hair white, and away jumped the trout from the frying pan into the middle of the floor! And in that spot where it fell, up rose a lovely lady, the most beautiful creature that eyes had ever seen, dressed in white with a band of gold on her hair, and a stream of blood running down her arm.
“Look where you cut me, you blackguard!” said she, and you'd think the sight would have left his eyes in shock.
“Couldn't you leave me cool and comfortable in the river where you snared me, and not disturb my duty?” said she.
Well I can tell you he trembled like a dog in a wet sack, and at last he stammered out his apologies and begged for his life, asking her pardon, saying he didn't know she was on duty and he didn't know not to meddle with her.
“I was on duty,” said the lady, “I was watching for my true love that is coming by the water to me. If he comes while I'm away and I miss him, I'll turn you into a sprat and hunt you up and down forever more, while grass grows and water runs.”
The soldier's life near left him in terror, and he begged for his life, and with that the lady said
“Renounce your wicked ways, you blaggard, or you'll repent it too late, and get yourself into confession regularly. Now, take me back and put me into the river again, where you found me.”
“Oh my lady,” he said, “but how could I have the heart to drown a beautiful lady like you?”
But before he could say another word, the lady had vanished, and there he saw the little trout on the ground! Well, he put it on a clean plate and away he ran for the bare life of him, for fear her lover passed while she was away, and he ran and ran until he got to the stream. There he threw the trout into the water, and watched as it all turned red for a minute, before washing away.
From that day forward the soldier was a changed man, reformed in his ways, fasting three times a week – although not on fish, since fish never sat right in his stomach after that – and going to confession regularly.
And they say he used to pray evermore for the soul of the white trout.
The trout was taken and returned somewhere in the vicinity of Cong, marked on the map below.
We now have an amazing Patreon page as well, where you can listen to the many myths and legends on the Emerald Isle! Exclusive to our Patreon, you can now hear stories of ancient Ireland, folklore and fairy tales and more, all professionally narrated. It's at times like these that it's most important to support artists and creative people whose income might be reduced, so if you'd like to support the work that goes into Emerald Isle, the Patreon can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/emeraldisle
Further Folk and Faerie Tales of Ireland
May is a magical month in more ways than one! The beginning of May marked one of the cross quarters of the year, when the world grew thin in certain places, as the old folks used to say, and the Sidhe and other spirits could travel over and back between our world and theirs. The exact date wanders from year to year mind you, sometimes earlier, some ... [more]
The author of the Long Black Hand was a man called Richard Cronnolly, born in Ballinderreen County Galway in 1828. He spent his spare time in the record office where he studied old documents. Although he was not a wealthy man and had no help from anyone, he found a publisher just before he died at the very young age of thirty five. The Long Blac ... [more]
Not all that long ago there lived a decent family on the border of Tipperary, Michael Flannagan and Judy his wife were the two that were in it. Although they were not blessed with wealth, they were blessed with children, four sons to be exact. Three of these lads were as fine and stout a trio as you'd ever hope to see, and it was enough to m ... [more]
One of the many ancient Irish traditions whose origin has been lost to the ever-deepening mists of time is that of the wishing tree. They were also called rag trees, raggedy bushes, or clooty or cloughtie trees, and they can often be found growing next to or near holy wells and springs. When people gathered around the old turf fires in Ireland, ... [more]
The Sceach Geal is a tree that grows in Ireland and throughout the north of the world and its name means “bright thorn”. It was known in Brehon law as an Aithig fedo or a Commoner of the Wood, a quickthorn like its ferocious cousin the blackthorn, and it is also called hawthorn, the gentle bush, the lone thorn, the May tree, the hedgeth ... [more]
Throughout Ireland can be found many holy wells and blessed springs, most of which predate the arrival of Christianity on the island, but which were consecrated by the Church to the service of Christ. Within some of these wells and deepnesses, the old legends tell, swim sacred guardians and fish of strange repute! To this day the people of Irela ... [more]
Lough Gur is a place of great antiquity and the source of many strange rumours and legends, surrounded by misty forests and low rolling hills, not all of which are natural in origin! Once there was an island in the middle of the lake, but now it is a peninsula, and it is joined to the eastern shore by a causeway, not far from the village of Aney ... [more]
There was a farmer in County Kerry who had a nice little cottage for himself and his wife, but the thatched roof was in a terrible state of disrepair and unlikely to last another winter. Unlike the stone houses and cottages in the west, Kerry cottages were less sturdy, and so he knew he had to build himself another place to live. He searched thr ... [more]
Long ago in Ireland, at the dawn of the Christian age, Irish monasteries and schools were famed throughout Europe and the world for the depth of their knowledge and the quality of the education they gave to princes, lords and nobles who travelled from all parts to attend them. One of the most famous early Christian theologians who taught in thes ... [more]
The people of Ireland before the time of Saint Patrick had many strange customs, and some of these survive even to this very day, often mixed and combined with Christian rites and beliefs! One of those traditions was the sunwise walk. What this meant was, in order for good luck to attend an event, you had to walk around it sunwise or deiseal, pr ... [more]
We have a saying in Ireland, that it's the only place in the world where you can get all four seasons in the one day – well there's truth in that, but Irish weather can be even stranger than most people realise! So it is with the Gaoth Sidhe, which means “the fairy wind,” and is pronounced “gwee sheeha”. Oft ... [more]
One upon a time in Ireland, in the farthest west of County Clare, there lived a brave young chieftain whose name was O'Quinn. A kindly enough man was he, and fair to behold, of ruddy locks and clean limbs, and he made his Dún on a flat plain near to a clearwater spring, the purest in all of Ireland and perhaps all the world. He was co ... [more]
Cursing of various sorts has a history as long and rich as Ireland's own, stretching from the very earliest tales of the first settlers in Ireland all the way to the modern day. Whether a quick muttered malediction on someone who had crossed you or an elaborate, lengthy poem intended to satirise and ruin the legacy of a king, the mallacht, or c ... [more]
Much has been said but little written of the old Irish piseóg, the word of the curse. Now the same term is often used to refer to general traditions and superstitions in Ireland, things like if you're ever lost, turn your socks inside out to find your way home, or opening the back door if you hear a knock at the front door, to let the fa ... [more]
Dotted around Ireland in many places can be found bullán stones, meaning “bowls”, which are stones, large and small, with a depression or bowl in them, often filled with water. These are usually of great antiquity, stretching back before the time of St Patrick and before the time of Cú Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and ... [more]
There's a common misconception some might have about fairies, which is the idea that fairies are nice friendly little spirits, trailing pixie dust and turning pumpkins into luxury vehicles. As any of the old folk of Ireland could tell you, nothing could be further from the truth, for a fairy in wrath is more dangerous than a hive of wasps or a ... [more]
Sometimes when out and about travelling the lesser known byways of Ireland, you might come across a little stone arrowhead or piece of flint shaped by hands long gone, and people would tell you not to touch it for fear it might carry the tinneas sióg, the sickness of the fairy mounds! For it was that fairies, the sidhe, were known to hurl ... [more]
The sinister crone of the woods, the wishing thorn, there are as many tales told of the blackthorn trees of Ireland as there are spiky thorns on its branches. The people who came before, whose blood still runs in some, planted them around their tombs and sacred places and bound the lunantisidhe, or moon fairies to protect them, save only on the ful ... [more]
Once upon a time there was a poor woman with three daughters, and one day the eldest decided to seek her fortunes in the world. “Mother,” she said, “bake me a cake and kill my chicken, for I am away to the wide world.” And so her mother did just that, and when all was ready, her mother asked “which will you have ... [more]
A fair witch crept to a young man's side, And he kissed her and took her for his bride. But a shape came in at the dead of night, And filled the room with snowy light. And he saw how in his arms there lay A thing more frightful than words may say. And he rose in haste, and followed the Shape Till morning crowned an eastern cape. ... [more]