Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"The Story of Tuan MacCairill" in Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens

"The Story of Tuan MacCairill" by James Stephens (1920, 22 pages, included in Irish Fairy Tales)

The Irish Quarter:  A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to July 1

Resources and Ideas

Please consider joining us for The  Irish Quarter, Year Two   All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or an email and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge.   There are links to 1000s of stories, old and new, on the resources page.  Guest Posts are also welcome.

James Stephens (1882 to 1950-Dublin) is now most read for his retelling of Irish fairy tales and myths in his Irish Fairy Tales.   He published several novels and in his day was a well known poet.   His best known novel is Crock of Gold.

"Considering joining us"
Stephens began his literary career through a series of poems that appeared in a  Sinn Féin publication   Through this he came to the attention of  George William Russell (who was sometimes known as "A. E. Russell) a leading writer, theosophist, and advocate of Irish Nationalism.   Through this contact Stephens was able to begin publishing plays and short stories.   He eventually became friends with James Joyce who at one time suggested to Stephens that he might help him complete Finnegan's Wake.   (I have previously posted on his short story, "A Rhinoceros, Some Ladies, and a Horse", centering on a young boy's first job, working as general helper at a Dublin theatrical agency.)

The stories in Irish Fairy Tales are mostly retelling of mythical tales about ancient Ireland, its mythical warriors, queens, and kings with lots of supernatural elements thrown in.   Most of the stories are set in Medieval Ireland.   The success of these stories in 1920 is, I think, related to the demand of the Irish that they be set free.   These stories helped rebuild the pride of the Irish in their past, in a time when the Irish ruled themselves.  

"My stories go back 5000
There are only two real characters is "The Story of Tuan MacCairill.   One is an abbot who was very shocked when he heard there were people in the vicinity  that still worshiped the old Gods. He finds that one of the local leaders, a much admired warrior and local king, Tuan MacCairill does not believe in the Gospel and follows old animistic ways.   He goes to his house and obtains admission and after a long conversation he seems to convince him of the truth of the Gospels.  The Tuan reveals to the abbot that he is in fact one of the original settlers of Ireland and is hundreds of years old.  He has lived in the forms of many animals in order to escape his enemies.   He began human again when he was, while in the form of a salmon, eaten by a queen who then subsequently gave birth to him in human form.   

This an interesting story.   Maybe it is in part now kind of a historical piece mainly but I liked it a lot and will read more of his Irish Fairy Tales.  

You can download Irish Fairy Tales from Manybooks for free.   

Mel u

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