CELTIC FOLKTALES

For a list of texts online from all Celtic countries, see the ‘Sacred Texts’ website: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/index.htm

The best set of online texts is by D.L. Ashliman’s digital library; links to individual pages are in the country sections below (sadly he does not include Brittany or Cornwall on his site).

Ireland

See DL Ashliman’s list of online sources here: https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/ireland.html

The classic collections/texts are:

WB Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry(1888) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/yeats/fip/index.htm

Douglas Hyde, Beside the Fire(1910) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/btf/index.htm

Jeremiah Curtin, Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland(1890) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/mfli/index.htm

Lady Augusta Gregory,Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland(1920) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/vbwi/index.htm

St John D Seymour, Irish Witchcraft & Demonology(1913)http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/iwd/index.htm

St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan, True Irish Ghost Stories(1914) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/tigs/index.htm

Padraic Colum, The King of Ireland’s Son(1916) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/kis/index.htm

James Stephens, Irish Fairy Tales(1920) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ift/index.htm

Another key book is Sean O’Sullivan, Folktales of Ireland (University of Chicago Press,1966). In 1935, the creation of the Irish Folklore Commission, Béaloideas, set in motion the first organised efforts to collect and study a wide range of Irish folktales, both written and in the oral tradition. The Commission collected well over a million pages of manuscripts. Folktales of Irelandoffers chief archivist Sean O’Sullivan’s representation of that collection. These tales represent the first English-language collection of Gaelic folktales. You can also search the archives online at  https://www.ucd.ie/irishfolklore/en/and https://www.duchas.ie/en

I’m including it here because it’s one of my favourite books, though you really need to have a deep interest in the history of Irish storytelling (rather than the stories themselves) for it to be a worthwhile read (it’s a thick book, and expensive): Georges Denis Zimmerman, The Irish Storyteller(Four Courts Press, 2001)

Scotland

See DL Ashliman’s list of online sources here: https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/scotland.html

Core texts are:

Marian McNeill (1990; first published 1957-68). The Silver Bough4 vols. (Canongate)

DA MacKenzie (1935). Scottish Folk-Lore and Folk-Life(Blackie)

Ross, A (1976). The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands(Batsford)

JF Campbell, Popular Tales of the West Highlands(4 vols) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ptwh.htm

DA MacKenzie, Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth & Legend (1917) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/tsm/index.htm

Sir George Douglas,Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales(1901) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/sfft/index.htm

Robert Kirk, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairiesis a classic text: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/sce/index.htmIt was written by a Scottish clergyman, Robert Kirk, in 1691, but not printed until the early 19th century, It’s a detailed account of the inhabitants of fairyland, and a complex of mysterious extrasensory phenomena, including poltergeists, clairvoyance and doppelgangers (here called ‘co-walkers’).

See also: John Gregorson Campbell, The Gaelic Otherworld(Birlinn, 2005, 2008) Contains information on beliefs about fairies, witches and other supernatural beings in the Scottish Highlands & Islands. Campbell is one of the most significant Scottish folklorists of the nineteenth century. The book also contains information on beliefs and rituals about the traditional calendar.

Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica. Carmina Gadelicais a compendium of prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, literary-folkloric poems and songs, proverbs, lexical items, historical anecdotes, natural history observations, and miscellaneous lore gathered in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1860 and 1909. The material was recorded, translated, and reworked by the exciseman and folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912). http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg1/index.htm

The School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, has a good set of archives around Scottish folk customs: https://www.ed.ac.uk/literatures-languages-cultures/celtic-scottish-studies/archives

 

Wales

See DL Ashliman’s list of online sources here: https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/wales.html

Key texts:

W Jenkyn Thomas, The Welsh Fairy Book(1908) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/wfb/index.htm

Wirt Sykes, British Goblins: Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions(1880) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/wfl/index.htm

John Rhys, Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx(1901) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cfwm/index.htm

One of the best all-round books on Welsh folk customs is T Gwynne Jones: Welsh Folklore and Folk-Custom(Methuen,1929).

The National Museum of Wales has online resources here: https://museum.wales/collections/

Isle of Man

See DL Ashliman’s list of online sources here: https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/man.html

Key texts:

Edward Callow, The Phynodderre and Other Legends of the Isle of Man(1882) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/phy/index.htm

A.W. Moore, The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man(1891) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/fim/index.htm

John Rhys, Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx(1901) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cfwm/index.htm

‘As Manx as the Hills’ is a brilliant and comprehensive (non-academic) website for the transmission of Manx Folklore http://asmanxasthehills.com

Cornwall

See Mike O’Connor (2010).Cornish Folk Tales. (The History Press) for modern tellings.

Key texts:Bottrell, William. Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall. 3 vols:

Bottrell, William (1870). Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall.Vol 1 Penzance: W. CornishBottrell, William (1873). Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall. Vol 2. Penzance: Beare and Son
Bottrell, William (1880). Stories and folk-lore of West Cornwall. Vol 3. Penzance: F. Rodda – via Internet Archive.

The Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter has some online resources: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/ics/?fbclid=IwAR1JGTILQuJKjlMnDcjHA0N8RN59xo-fELhkbKFtWh-25pxZo4Nnk4zsAtQ

Brittany

Not surprisingly, given the fact that Brittany was settled by people from Cornwall, there’s a good deal of similarity between the folk traditions of Brittany, Cornwall and Wales.

There are no good English-language resources online, but the following two texts will be of interest:

Folk Tales of Brittany, Elsie Masson (1929) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ftb/index.htm

Legends and Romances of Brittany, Lewis Spence (1917) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/lrb/index.htm

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