Seán Ó Súilleabháin, editor
For over fifteen hundred years, Ireland has been predominantly
Christian. Religion has been a continuous force in various aspects of
Irish life. As one might expect, a rich body of religious folktales and
legends – both fanciful and credible - were part of the repertoire of
the storyteller. Religious legends bring immediacy to traditions of the
Holy Family, Saints and the Devil. The stories in this book offer moral
guidelines for a Christian life. The tradition was never fully oral and
the influence of religious literature and church institutions is
The tales vary in subject matter and include specifically
Irish saint-lore as well as more general tales of the Holy Family. Tales
• The tale of ‘Saint Patrick and Crom Dubh’, which
describes how the pagan Crom Dubh was converted to Christianity by St
Patrick, and how the last Sunday in July came to be known as ‘Domhnach
Chrom Dubh’ in recognition of this miraculous event.
• The tale
‘Our Lady’s Visit’ encompasses the concept of miraculous plenty as an
international narrative, which tells of the house of a poor woman who is
visited by the Mother of God in the guise of an old woman. In return
for her kindness to the old woman, the woman of the house is given every
kind of food she will ever need.
The tales presented in this
book were first published in Irish in 1952 in an Ireland that was very
different to the Ireland of today. The one hundred and thirty-five tales
were edited and annotated by Seán Ó Súilleabháin who was then archivist
with the Irish Folklore Commission. Ó Súilleabháin drew his material
from the manuscript collection in what is today the National Folklore
Collection, University College Dublin.
Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann is pleased to publish this work, in translated form, of one of the most popular volumes of Béaloideas.