Three Irish Myths/Legends

One Queer Experience

A good many believe that the fairies will spirit away children. They will carry off a healthy child and leave instead a weazened little dwarf. One day they played that trick on a tailor, and he kept the dwarf several years and it didn't grow any, and was just the same shriveled little thing it was in the beginning. Finally, the tailor made up his mid what the matter was. So he heated his goose red hot and held it over the dwarf, and said, "Now, get out of here--I know you!"

But the dwarf never let on it noticed him; and the tailor lowered the goose little by little till it almost touched the dwarf's face. Then the dwarf spoke and said, "Well I'll leave, but first you go to the door and look round the corner." The man knew if he did that the dwarf would get the best of him and he said he would not. Then the dwarf saw 'twas no use, and it sprang out of the cradle and went roaring and cackling up the chimney, and a good child lay there in its place.


Froech and the Fairy Women

They heard a sound of wailing throughout Cruachu; and three times fifty women were seen with purple tunics and green hoods, and silver bracelets round their arms. People went to meet them to find out why they were lamenting "For Froech son of Idhath" said one of the women, "the darling boy of the king of the fairy hills of Ireland". Then Froech heard their wail. "Take me out," said he to his followers, "that is the wail of my mother and of the womenfolk of Boann." He was taken out thereupon and brought to them. The women came round him, and took him away to the fairy hill of Cruachu.

The next evening they saw him come back, with fifty women around him, whole and hale without blemish or wound. All the women were of like age and shape and like loveliness and like beauty and like straightness and like figure, in the dress of the fairy women, so that there was no telling one from the other. The people were almost smothered in crowding round them. They departed at the gateway of the courtyard. As they went away, they gave forth their cry, so that the people who were in the court were thrown prostrate. Hence it is that the musicians of Ireland have got the tune "the Wail of the Fairy Women.... (Irish 8th century)


Drowned Giantess

A woman, whose breasts had not grown, was cast up on a sea shore in Europe. She was fifty feet tall, that is from her shoulders to her feet, and her chest was seven feet across. There was a purple cloak on her. Her hands were tied behind her back and her head had been cut off; and it was in this way that the wave cast her up on land.

Another woman was cast up from the sea in Scotland and she was a hundred and ninety-tow feet long; there were seventeen feet between her breasts, an sixteen was the length of her hair and seven the length of the finger of her hand. Her nose was seven feet long, and there were two feet between her eyebrows. Every limb of her was as white as the swan of the foam of the wave. (Irish 14-15th century)

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