Pucas, Banshees, and Cailleachas
A Story by the First President of Ireland
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein
― Albert Einstein
Irish Folk and Fairy Tales-March 23 to March 29
Irish Short Story Week Is Extended to March 31!
Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two, March 12 to March 31, All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or an e mail and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge.
|"Mr Hyde, if you need a
first Lady, call me"
Douglas Hyde (1860 to 1949, Castlerea County, Ireland) is highly praised by William Butler Yeats as one of the leaders in preserving Irish Folk Tales and in the translation of the stories from Gaelic to English. In so doing, Yeats tells us he showed great literary skill and really did a lot to preserve old traditions. The anthology collected by Yeats was first published in 1888 when Hyde was 28. When I checked the Wikipedia article on him, it said he was the first President of Ireland (1938 to 1945). At first I thought OK there must be two Douglas Hydes but in fact Hyde did go from young folklorist and academic to president of Ireland fifty three years after this story was published. (If you want to found out how this happened, it is very interesting, you read find out here.)
There are more creatures in the Irish Night than just fairies and leprechauns. There are puca which are animal spirits. They can take many animal embodiments but mostly commonly take the form of a horse, perhaps a horse with horns, wings or blazing red eyes. Banshees are spirits, perhaps of the fairy class, whose primary function seems to be to grieve for the dead. Caillleacheas, a less common term, I think, are old women, perhaps witches but certainly with some minor black magic powers. They like to gather in large groups at night.
As the story opens we meet a man who lives in Dunmore with his mother. He is described as "half a fool", he is a very good flute player but has never learned more than one song, "The Black Rogue". One day as he was crossing over a bridge, pucas and such like to hide under bridges,a puca in the form of a horned horse takes him and flings him on his back and tells him they are going to the house of a local banshee where there is a large party going on for all the local Caillleacheas. The puca tells him that if he does a good job playing they will reward him with lots of gold coins and may even bring him to full intelligence.
What happens next is fun and interesting and fully in the tradition of the tricks of the folks from the spirit world. I will leave the rest of the plot unspoiled. You can download the full Folk and Fairy Tales of the Irish from Manybooks.
|"Mr Hyde, you are our favorite President"