For countless centuries folks gathered around the campfire, in the cave or grass hut recounting the adventures and tales of their people, passing on such stories from generation to generation.
As with every culture, Irish folk tales were passed down from elders to the younger generation by word of mouth. Sitting around great campfires of the Celtic Warriors or near the hearth in the castles of Ireland, or by the cistin (kitchen) fires of cottages, where stories have endured and gained embellishment over the years.
Ireland, as you know, is the home of the Leprechauns, the Faeries, the Mermaids, the Changelings and the Monsters which phater and mehter have retold and thrilled the wee bairn as well as the old folks with for centuries. Many folks may say this is the "a stor mo chroi", ("love of my heart"), to sit and listen to the folklore of their land.
There is so much more to Ireland than just the Leprechaun and the wee folk. There is a beauty in the tales of love, chivalry, heroes and heroines. There are morals and lessons to be learned. There are also the monsters, tricksters and other spirits that cause havoc and fear even among the brawniest of men. However, we will talk about these demons and bringers of bad news another time.
Some tales are about babes who teach their parents lessons, as in Half A Blanket, by Michael J. Murphy. In this tale, the parents are tired of taking care of the elderly Grandfather who is near helpless and messy when eating. The parents decide to turn him out of their home and after some thought think they should at least give him a blanket. The small babe in the cradle, who has never to this time spoken a word, says, "NO! Give him half a blanket and keep the other half near by, so when you are old it will be a reminder as to what I should do with you." Needless to say, the parents quickly decided to keep the old man home and give him tender loving care till the end of his days.
There were great tellers of tales, some well known throughout the world and some just somebody's grandfather. One of the best was William Butler Yeats, author, poet and Nobel Prize winner. Yeats was born in an Irish seaside village, Sandymount in County Dublin in June of 1865. Yeats was very influential and one of the founders of the Irish Literary Revival. Most of his works were based on Irish mythology and history and the people. He had great respect for the people and the Irish legends. He found his voice in his writing, where he could express the feelings against the harsh rules of the Nationalists. He was for the people, the legends, the beauty and the history of Ireland. This was evident in his works. In The Celtic Twilight of 1893, Yeats wrote about a fictional character:
"Paddy Flynn is dead;....He was a great teller of tales, and unlike our common romancers, knew how to empty heaven, hell, and purgatory, faerieland and earth, to people his stories. He did not live in a shrunken world, but knew of no less ample circumstance than did Homer himself. Perhaps the Gaelic people shall by his like bring back again the ancient simplicity and amplitude of imagination.....Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet." By: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), The Celtic Twilight (1893)
The beauty and love of Ireland was born in the legends and the hearts of the people and will live forever in their folklore.
"May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold. And at the end of all your rainbows may you find a pot of gold." - An old Irish blessing
If you would like to learn and read more about Irish Folklore, you can purchase some books I recommend at the Amazon links below.