Irish Fairy and Folk Tales
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Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,441 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Gathered by the renowned Irish poet, playwright, and essayist William Butler Yeats, the sixty-five tales and poems in this delightful collection uniquely capture the rich heritage of the Celtic imagination. Filled with legends of village ghosts, fairies, demons, witches, priests, and saints, these stories evoke both tender pathos and lighthearted mirth and embody what Yeat...more
ebook, 534 pages
Published 2003 by Barnes & Noble World Digital Library (first published 1892)
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Trevor
This surprised me – I was suspecting this to be very much like the Grimm or Calvino efforts. You know, lots of familiar fairy tales but told in a tippering way with a fetching Irish brogue. If you are after such then you’ll have to jump nearly to the very end of this collection. These stories would possibly come closer to ghost stories in a way. The relationship between the natural and supernatural is more dreamlike in these stories than in what I am used to in fairy tales. There is something mu...more
Anne Holly
I read this as part of my research for a short story I was writing, and it ended up taking up taking longer to read than the story did to write! That doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the book, though, as I found it quite interesting. Engrossing in parts, even.

Here, Yeats gathers and edits stories and myths from Ireland, largely from the translations and collections of other folklorists. It focuses mainly on the faeries, though it also includes water creatures (i.e. the merrow), witches, gho...more
Morticia Adams
A rich collection of beguiling tales of encounters between Irish peasant-folk and the Daoine Sidhe, the Fairy People, or “fallen angels who are not good enough to be saved, nor bad enough to be lost” as quoted by Yeats in his commentary. Here you will find merrows, changelings, leprechauns, the Banshee, the Pukka, Tir na Nog…..

The stories have been translated or transcribed, quite beautifully, from authentic oral sources by Gaelic specialists who have an imaginative sympathy with this world of m...more
Gary
This is one of my favorite folktale books. This work bring alive the legends and ghost tales of the people of Ireland in the 1900th century and back. My favorite being the Tale of ' Teig O'Kane and the Corpse.'Some of the best ghost stories can be found in these Irish legends and folk tale books.
Matthew
I love how creepy and morbid so much of this stuff is. Mermen who keep people's souls in cages under the sea? Yes please! Heroic priests! Drunken escapades! Witches and swans! And the most sadistic fairies you'll ever know!
Parrish Lantern
“People think I am merely trying to bring back a little of the old dead beautiful world of romance into this century of great engines and spinning Jinnies. Surely the hum of wheels and clatter of presses, to let alone the lecturers with their black coats and tumblers of water, have driven away the goblin kingdom and made silent the feet of the little dancers.”

W. B. Yeats, then goes on to state that Old Biddy Hart, in her thatched cottage has little use for such opinions, will hold no truck with...more
Bridgett
I loved this collection. Even though it's large, the stories are short, making it easy to maintain focus. I liked the ending stories which were variations on common fairy tales. I also learned more about fairies and their myths earlier on in the book.
Carol
Fairy's are mean.
Nicole
If you are a fan of old school folklore, this is the book for you. W.B. Yeats was a well-versed occultist, researcher, and writer in the late 1800s/early 1900s and collected these stories over a period of time. Each tale is set in old Ireland, and will whisk you away to the Emerald Isle for sure.

This is a compilation of stories including tales of mermaids (what the Irish called merrows), fairies (the wee folk or sidhe), old kings and queens, witches, ghosts, giants, and more. I thoroughly enjoye...more
John Kulm
Part of the appeal of fairytales, for me, is that I want to understand archetypes. That’s why archetypal literature intrigues me: Faust, Zarathustra, or modern examples like The Alchemist, and The Teachings of Don Juan. Irish fairytales have an interesting similarity to contemporary conversations about archetypal encounters and spirit guides.

The Irish fairy tales recorded by Yeats take on a special meaning when seen as archetypal, and understood as the product of the inner-work described by Car...more
Anna [Floanne]
Abbastanza delusa da questa raccolta di fiabe incentrate sulla mitologia celtica e le credenze popolari della tradizione irlandese. Attirata dal nome del celebre poeta e drammaturgo irlandese, premio Nobel per la letteratura, William Butler Yeats che curò e scelse i racconti e le ballate più rappresentative di vari autori irlandesi, mi ero avvicinata a questo libro con l'aspettativa di scoprire qualcosa di più su folletti e lepricani. In realtà le storie si assomigliano tutte troppo e, se pur ra...more
Anna
It's somewhat hard to rate and review a collection of fairy tales, really--it's not like the usual collection of short stories. However, Yeats managed to put together a number of stories that are quaint and entertaining. Not only that, but he provides notes about the creatures and people found therein, as well as cross-referencing another writer and folklore collector: Lady Wilde (whose own collection I haven't quite gotten around to reading yet). Being rather interested in these sorts of tales,...more
Gary
When he was young, Irish poet William Butler Yeats published two collections of Irish folktales: *Fairy and Folk Tales of the irish Peasantry* (1888) and *Irish Fairy Tales* (1892). Between these two collections, he assembled over 300 tales. He also addresses fairy themes in *Celtic Twilight*, a collection of poetry/nonfiction. Any of these books would be excellent reading for anyone interested broadly in folklore or specifically in Irish stories or Yeats.

This collection includes 19 stories (an...more
Mary Overton
From Yeats' end notes [note Paracelsus' opinion of scientists]:
"It has been held by many that somewhere out of the void there is a perpetual dribble of souls; that these souls pass through many shapes before they incarnate as men - hence the nature spirits. They are invisible - except at rare moments and times; they inhabit the interior elements, while we live upon the outer and the gross. Some float perpetually through space, and the motion of the planets drives them hither and thither in curre...more
Caitlin
I am a sucker for fairy tales and this beautiful collection of Irish stories is charming and informative. I would appreciate more background and explanation of the key fairy figures but the stories are well written and entertaining. It is like entering a secret world of what people believed for centuries in Ireland. The Irish are very attached to their mythology and when reading these stories they just feel magical. As much as I love other cultures' mythologies and fairy tales the Irish ones jus...more
Jana Light
This is a collection of disparate tales, so of course it feels a bit uneven when reading straight through, rather than picking one or two to read with specific intention. However, some of the stories are so jarringly short that I was never quite sure how to read the first couple paragraphs, or how invested to get in the characters - this proved to be a little unsettling at times, and also kind of amusing when some stories in my head read like "the woman lost her goose and then BAM SHE DIED BECAU...more
Katsumi
Yeats has long been one of my favorite poets; however, I did not expect his re-telling of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales to be up to his poetry standard. With that said, let me say he does an excellent job re-telling these old stories and if you have any interest whatsoever in fairy tales or Irish Mythology, read this book. "The Trooping Fairies" and "Witches, Fairy Doctors" were 2 of my favorite chapters but overall the whole book is a delight to read. It's an easy read, some stories are funny, som...more
Kit
This collection of tales, edited by the poet W. B. Yeats from various other sources, is thorough and generally entertaining. Some of the stories are written in dialect, which can be a bit difficult to navigate if the reader is not accustomed to the liberal use of terms like "Misther" or "troth." There is a heavy emphasis on fairies, banshees, and other mischievous spirits, with only one mention of the notable Irish hero "Fin M'Cool." That aside, this is an enjoyable read and a worthy addition to...more
Cori
Some of the stories were really interesting. But it didn't make up for the fact that it is a very hard read. I can usually breeze through books, but this is probably one of the hardest reads I've ever encountered.

It's worth it if you're super interested in various types of Irish lore, but if you're looking for a quick read this is definitely not your book.
Emma
Jan 13, 2014 Emma marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research-faeries
WB. Yeats has two books available legally and free at Project Gutenberg: "Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry" http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/33887
Pubbed 1888

"Irish Fairy Tales" http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31763
Pubbed 1892

These are two separate novels but Goodreads seems easily confused by this.
Lee Ann
This is a wonderful collection, and a great resource for anyone who uses Irish folklore for inspiration in their own creative writing (like me). I've read a lot of similar collections over the past year or so, but I think this one was my favorite. It's very concise (unlike Lady Gregory's which, although wonderful as well, dragged on at some points since many of the stories were the same), informative, and overall an entertaining read with many striking, interesting stories and characters. I'm go...more
Mike Christani
This book, with its charming folk tales, of fairies, ghosts, giants, etc etc, helped me quit smoking once when I was 23. The stories are charming, presented by an open-minded WB Yeats (whose own works are among the tales and poems). For pure enjoyment, as well as learning of the discerning morailty of seemingly chaotic fairies, it's a great read. The stories usually aren't more than five pages long, and are complete tales in themselves. Great for a train, plane, or quiet evening.
Bruce
This collection of charming tales provides a comprehensive picture of the legends and stories that form the heritage of the Irish. Most of the selections are short, easily read in a brief setting. They are funny and varied and quaint. Most are told with dialect and lilt and are wonderful to read aloud. Herein one is introduced to trooping fairies, changelings, solitary fairies, ghosts, witches, saints, T’yeer-Na-N-Oge, giants, kings, queens, and princesses. Enjoy!
Nicole
This is not exactly the I-can't-put-it-down kind of book, but that it's mostly because it is composed, of course, of individual tales. It is a very nice choice if you are looking for something brief to read every night or for some quick, light yet literary rich reading. The tales themselves capture the folkloric aspects of the country very handsomely; quite able to make the reader feel the real essence of this culture.
Diane
Sep 13, 2007 Diane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This book was one of the first books I ever owned for myself. My great-grandfather used to tell me stories out of it before I could read them myself, and when I figured out that I could read them on my own without waiting for him to visit I was ecstatic! I am currently working on my third or fourth edition of the book...having had the misfortune of "lending" it out to people who "forget" to return it.
Leah Beecher
I guess I can give this one three stars. We only read two of the tales written in here. It served it purpose as a good supplement reading to our homeschool study unit of Ireland. From the fairy tales that we read I will say that they would be for a 3rd grade and up level. The stories are more abstract, written more formal, and with a darker undertone than a typical Americanized fairy tale.
Tom Schulte
A very enjoyable and lively collection of fantastic, quaint tales collected by Yeats from various sources. They are arranged topically by the type of fantasty element: leprechauns, witches, giants, etc. This makes some read too similar, but owning the book and dipping in over a few months has been a real joy. Many tales are much more absurdist and even modernistic than I woud have expected.
Tom Schulte
A very enjoyable and lively collection of fantastic, quaint tales collected by Yeats from various sources. They are arranged topically by the type of fantasty element: leprechauns, witches, giants, etc. This makes some read too similar, but owning the book and dipping in over a few months has been a real joy. Many tales are much more absurdist and even modernistic than I woud have expected.
Tom Schulte
A very enjoyable and lively collection of fantastic, quaint tales collected by Yeats from various sources. They are arranged topically by the type of fantasty element: leprechauns, witches, giants, etc. This makes some read too similar, but owning the book and dipping in over a few months has been a real joy. Many tales are much more absurdist and even modernistic than I woud have expected.
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William Butler Yeats (pronounced /ˈjeɪts/) was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, se...more
More about W.B. Yeats...
The Collected Poems Selected Poems Poetry, Drama and Prose (A Norton Critical Edition) Selected Poems and Four Plays The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore

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“On November Eve they are at their gloomiest, for according to the old Gaelic reckoning, this is the first night of winter. This night they dance with the ghosts, and the pooka is abroad, and witches make their spells, and girls set a table with food in the name of the devil, that the fetch of their future lover may come through the window and eat of the food. After November Eve the blackberries are no longer wholesome, for the pooka has spoiled them.” 3 likes
“every one is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough. But the Celt is a visionary without scratching.” 0 likes
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