Irish fairy stories and folk tales

Ireland has a rich heritage of folk tales and fairy stories dating back over thousands of years. Many of them concern great heroes like the legendary warrior Cuchulain, or the mythical giant Fin McCool.

There are also great love stories like that of Fair, Brown and Trembling – the Irish version of Cinderella. Some have happy endings, but there are also tales of great tragedy such as The Story of Deirdre.

Irish fairy stories and folk tales. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Many Irish stories feature leprechauns and their magic, sometimes to comical effect as in the Field of Boliauns, but sometimes dark and sinister too.

Ogham, the mysterious language of the trees The Origins of the Ogham alphabet are still a mystery for many historians, but it is primarily thought to be an early form of the Irish written Language. Bealtaine Fire

These are some of the best known Irish fairy stories, taken from Joseph Jacobs’ collection, Irish Fairy Tales published between 1891 and 1894.

The Children of Lir

The children turned into swans by their evil stepmother and made to wander for 900 years.

Fair, Brown and Trembling

This is very similar to the well known story of Cinderella but adds in a few extra twists and turns, as well as a little magic.

The Field of Boliauns

Leprechauns and the search for the elusive crock of gold.

Jack and His Comrades

A happy-go-lucky boy teams up with a donkey, a dog, a cat and cockerel to outwit a band of vicious robbers.

A Legend of Knockmany

The story of how Irish giant Finn McCool and his wife Oonagh outwitted the fearsome Scottish giant Cucullin.

The Story of Deirdre

Deirdre of the Sorrows is one of the best known tragic heroines in Celtic mythology.

Trees in Celtic Mythology

Trees in Celtic Mythology

Alder tree in Celtic mythology – balanced between male and female

Apple – healing, youthfulness and rebirth

Ash – one Ireland’s sacred trees

Aspen – sacred Celtic whispering tree

Birch – the tree of birth

Blackthorn – sinister tree of the dark side

Elder – a tree sacred to the Celts para para para para para

Mistletoe – sacred plant of the sun god para para para para para para

Yew – longevity and resurrection

The Celtic Tree Calendar – following the lunar cycle