Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs

My tall bookcase precariously leans to the right as its so full of books. So this morning whilst looking for another book. I came across my copy of "Celtic Fairy Tales" by Joseph Jacobs which is illustrated in black and white by Victor Ambrus. Victor did not illustrate the original books though only this nineties one. This hard backed book was first published in 1891 but my copy is a 1995 version. I have no idea where I brought this fairy tale book and why? But I am glad I did.

It contains the two collections by Joseph Jacobs "Celtic fairy Tales" - which was first published in 1891 and also "More Celtic fairy Tales" published a bit later in 1894. My love of history, and also witches, wizards and all things magical found it a delight! I read some of the tales in this book, told originally long ago by word of mouth and wondered at their origin. Some of these stories go back to the Pagan and pre Christian era. Stories told around the fireside and passed on to future generations to retell in Gaelic. They are pretty gory in places and murder is common in these tales with hags, goblins, fairy maidens, ghosts, sea maidens, kings and giants. Most of the stories came from Ireland originally with a couple from Wales and one from England.

Not only are they fairy stories but an insight into history and for me a glimpse of my ancestors from County Mayo in Ireland. Did they listed or retell some of these? Many people of the eighteenth and nineteenth century and before believed of the existence of fairies, hobgoblins, speaking animals, giants and dwarfs. Superstition was rife and many peasant folk went to some length to ward of bad luck and keep witches away. Primitive pre Christian beliefs including polygamy and that the soul being external and able to exist in an object.

Well my pleasant morning delving into this book has led me to buy an older Fairy tale version by Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy is an Irish ancestor name on my father's side but they were rather prolific!
So I would recommend reading this book if you are interested in the fairy folk and folklore or history. 

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