Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Irish Fairy and Folk Tales” as Want to Read:
Irish Fairy and Folk Tales
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,588 ratings  ·  183 reviews
-- Nobel Prize winning writer and poet W.B. Yeats included almost every sort of Irish folk in this marvelous compendium of fairy tales and songs that he collected and edited for publication in 1892.
-- Yeats was fascinated by Irish myths and folklore, and joined forces with the writers of the Irish Literary Revival. He studied Irish folk tales and chose to reintroduce the
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by MetroBooks (NY) (first published 1888)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,588 ratings  ·  183 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, poetry
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 ...more
If you think the Grimm brothers were macabre, wait till you get a load at these clever tales.
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Excellent collection of the various folk lore of Ireland.

Yeats divides up the various types of folk tales from fairies (changlings, merrow, solitary fairies like the lepracaun, the pooka and banshee), to ghosts and also witches and fairy doctors.

He also has a collection of stories about saints, priests, the devil, giants and the royal leaders and the fairy tales about them. My personal favorite is the Twelve Wild Geese, which is a variation of the Twelve Swan Brothers with the same plot. The one


"WHILE I wrought out these fitful Danaan rhymes,
My heart would brim with dreams about the times
When we bent down above the fading coals
And talked of the dark folk who live in souls
Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;

A rapturous music, till the morning break
And the white hush end all but the loud beat
Of their long wings, the flash of their white feet."

They’re prevalent in the Irish poetry and music; I mean, the ghosts and the fairies [“
Morticia Adams
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Anne Holly
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family-library
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,
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, folk-tales
I don’t read short fiction and poetry very fast. Where I often devour novels in a day, an anthology of short stories may take months. After receiving W. B. Yeats’ Irish Folk and Fairy Tales for Christmas, I read a story or two per night over almost two months. Although some of the stories, being folktales, seemed very familiar as I read, there was often a brutal, Celtic twist to the “happily ever after” of the fairy tales of my youth.

In one story, a useless protagonist continually thwarts
Oct 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
I read this collection on a holiday in Ireland and the tales completely matched Ireland's mystical, mysty landscapes. Highlight of which was camping in a field of a farmer, who told us not to get too close to the middle, so as not to disturb the fairy fort.

I loved the stories in the beginning, but towards the end begun to grow tired of some of them. Didn't like most of the witches' tales, because of the superstituous/Christian morale.

Some of the tales are written in dialect, which makes for a
Adi Rocks Socks (semi hiatus)
What better way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day as a bibliophile than this?

(I know I’m not going to be done within the day — it’s 400 pages long, but it has pictures, and the child in me is excited at that prospect!)
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Occultists from Paraclesus to Elephas Levi, divide the nature spirits into gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, undines; or earth, air, fire, and water spirits. Their emperors, according to Elephas, are named Cob, Paralda, Djin, Hicks respectively The gnomes are covetous and of the melancholic temperament. Their usual height is but two spans, though they can elongate themselves into giants. The sylphs are capricious and of bilious temperament. They are in size and strength much greater than men, as ...more
This collection of Irish lore by Nobel laureate W. B. Yeats is extremely thorough. What most intrigues me about folk and fairy tales is their role as modern-day fables, offering advice about life and how to live it. Great for people interested in the nuances of Irish culture.
Nadine Jones
I know I read this a long time ago, but I need to re read b cause I can't remember it
Nicola Mansfield
Not a particularly entertaining book. I'm not a poetry person so Yeats' authorship had nothing to do with my choice of the book. The illustrations are very nice. Each tale is headed with a silhouette and then includes one or more detailed ink drawings depending on the length. This makes the book look like a children's book. However, the introductory essay on Yeats' connection with fairy tales is scholarly as are the notes on each tale at the back. This particular book contains a selection of ...more
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-me-to-me, 2018
3.5 rounded up
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best source for stories of haunted puddings and animate corpses.
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
This trifle of a book has more value as a pocket encyclopedia for the basic categories of apparitions that haunt the collective Irish imagination than as a collection of stories worth reading in their own right. The collection does contain a few standouts: the few poems here present are especially beautiful, and “Flory Cantillon’s Funeral” was my particular favorite for its simple, haunting ending. The rest of the stories are not bad, but they either bluster on for two or three pages too many, ...more
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It took me a while to finish this, largely because I'd read quite a few of the stories in other collections. There's a lot of Crofton Croker here, but there's a lot of other stuff too. It is rather a landmark collection, really, a key volume in the whole Celtic Revival, and it presents a nice variety of tales of various types and from various parts of the country. Included is the epic The Three Wishes, which drives one to have some sympathy for the devil, and the story of a bard's feud with the ...more
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Katherine Sas
This combination of two of Yeats' compilations of Irish folk and fairy tales gives a phenomenal sense of the spirit of Irish folklore. Some of the elements are familiar from other European traditions (for example I recognized cognates of the Grimms' Golden Bird & the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear as well as a few quotes, motifs, and characters of the earlier Irish myths found in sources like the Ulster Cycle) but the dry wit is uniquely Irish. The people and storytellers have a ...more
K.B. Pellegrino
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For all story tellers to revel in!
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And this was the first butterfly that was ever seen in Ireland; and now all men know that the butterflies are the souls of the dead, waiting for the moment when they may enter Purgatory, and so pass through torture to purification and peace

Read if you're interested on fairies, changelings, leprachauns, banshees, merrows, disappearing islands, ghosts, giants, witches, fairy doctors, the Devil, saints, kings, queens, earls, and robbers. Or if you have been currently obessing over
pretty wide spread of stories in here. my favorites were the ones literally translated from Irish, along with the ones which were scary or creepy (which is quite a few of these, even outside the sections pertaining to witches and the devil and ghosts). But some of the stories just kind of drag on and go nowhere. I read this to get a taste of pre- Christian Irish religion, mythology and culture, and to get in what sense those things persisted, and in what sense Christianity itself is/was "pagan" ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For this book, I just read a few stories under the T'yeer-na-n-oge section. In Irish folklore, T'yeer-na-n-oge or Tir-na-n-Og, is The Land of Youth and many believe it to be the home of most of fairies. The fairy tales I read revolved around a healing lake, a just and benevolent king, and fairies. T'yeer-na-n-oge is a strange place that stops time, but if you are able to leave it, all your time catches up with you. This book was a little hard to read because some of the words are in Gaelic; I ...more
In English there is plenty of choice when it comes to Irish folk and fairy tales but if you'd like a Dutch edition, then the stories in Ierse elfenverhalen en andere volksvertellingen uit Ierland, collected by William Butler Yeats. is the book for you!

See also Summer Challenge 2014 (message 45) for a review in Dutch.
Annette Jordan
A lovely collection of folk tales featuring a range of brings such as giants,witches, fairies, leprechauns and ghosts. The collection is collated and edited by Yeats but features contributions from many others including renowned Gaelic scholar and president of Ireland Douglas Hyde. There are also several poems and songs included. I particularly enjoyed the book as it reminded me of the stories my grandparents would often tell, down to the style of language used.
Dev Sodagar
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I think I was hoping for something different from this. I was expecting some form of Epic Sagas and whilst a few of those tales exist in this (including a weird-ass Finn - Cuchulainn mashup)... the majority are folk tales in line with
Enjoyable but not what I'd been looking for.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Complete Fairy Tales
  • The Táin: From the Irish Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge
  • Japanese Fairy Tales
  • Celtic Myths and Legends
  • Perrault's Fairy Tales
  • Russian Fairy Tales
  • Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (Llewellyn's Sourcebook Series)
  • Yeats: The Man and the Masks
  • Celtic Fairy Tales
  • Irish Sagas & Folktales
  • The Arabian Nights
  • Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things
  • Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic (Llewellyn's Practical Magick)
  • A Celtic Miscellany: Translations from the Celtic Literatures
  • ضارب الرمل حكايات شعبية من كوريا
  • Scary Stories for Young Foxes
  • Amy, Number Seven (Replica, #1)
  • Viewfinder
See similar books…
William Butler Yeats 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, serving as its chief ...more
“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.” 7 likes
“every one is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough. But the Celt is a visionary without scratching.” 3 likes
More quotes…