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This is a monthly column that we hope parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or older siblings will share with children of all ages. Most are by our guest columnist, Grainne Rowland; a master spinner of stories who re-tells the tale so well they are once again fresh and new.
"There was a place in childhood that I remember well, And there a voice of sweetest tone bright fairy tales did tell."
Index of All Children's Stories
Kids' Ireland Library
Once upon a time in Ireland, there lived a woman called Shiela. Shiela had a small baby whom she loved above all else.
One Saturday morning, she noticed that her baby did not look right. Her baby boy was fat, healthy, and happy. This "thing" in her baby's crib was thin and looked like a skeleton. It was ugly and had shifty eyes, not at all like Shiela's baby. This baby "thing" never stopped crying. Shiela was at wit's end. Where was her son? What was in her son's crib? And would it never stop wailing?
Shiela's neighbors came and tried to comfort her. They told her that what was in her baby's crib was certainly a changeling. She must ask the wise woman what to do.
Shiela left her small thatched cottage and went along the road to the wise woman's house. But she traveled slowly because tears were pouring down her cheeks. She missed her little son and worried about him. Had the good people really taken her baby and left one of theirs in his place? Were they treating her son kindly? Would she ever see him again? These and other sad thoughts chased each other through her mind.
When Sheila was in the wise woman's house, she told the woman the whole story. The wise woman asked many questions about the baby in Sheila's cottage. Finally, after talking for two hours, the wise woman said, "Yes, you have a changeling. Here is what you must do."
When sheila returned to her home, she hurried to her chicken house and collected a dozen eggs. Going into her house, she did not look at the changeling. Instead, she went to the hearth, started a huge, hot fire, and put on a big pot of water. When the water was boiling, Sheila broke the eggs and threw away the yolks and whites. But she kept the shells.
Sheila noticed that the changeling, for once, was very quiet. She saw from the corner of her eye that it was watching what she did very closely. But Sheila never looked at it directly.
Sheila tossed the egg shells into the boiling water.
"What are you doing, Mother?" asked the baby.
Sheila knew then that the baby was indeed a changeling, for her own son was too young to speak.
"I am brewing, my son," replied Sheila.
"What are you brewing, Mother?" asked the changeling in the creaky voice of a very old man.
"I am brewing egg shells, son," said Sheila.
"I have lived for fifteen hundred years and I have never seen anyone brew egg shells before," laughed the changeling.
At that, Sheila jumped up from the fireplace and ran toward the changeling. But she had risen so quickly that she slipped and fell. When she got up and ran to the crib, the changeling was no longer there. But there was her own dear baby, sleeping quietly and with a smile on his lips.
Sheila gently picked him up. Tears slipped down her face and dropped onto his head. But this time the tears were tears of joy!
Mother & Child in Cradle, Thatched cottage and Eggs in Basket from Allposters & Prints.
Index of All Children's Stories
Thu, Apr 13, 2017
Making a May Bush for Beltane
Beltane is on May 1st and it’s a very old celebration to mark the beginning of the summer season. Long ago, children saved the colored shells from their hard-boiled Easter eggs and added them to the decorations for the May Bush which was a small shrub chosen for the honour. It was cut down and placed in front of the house in the days or weeks before Beltane. The children would then decorate it with flowers, ribbons, and Easter egg shells. Candles or rush lights* were attached to the bush and were lighted at dusk. In the cities, the May Bush was made by neighbours and sometimes there were attempts to steal it by folks from other neighbourhoods. It was said that you’d be taking the year's luck from the rightful owners. So, the May Bushes were fiercely guarded until the evening of May Day, when the bush would be cast into the Beltane Bonfire.
*To find out about rush lights, please click Wikipedia.
Photo Credit: RushMi.
Click for More Culture Corner.
"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
In Ireland in the 1780s, a young boy and girl who find a wolf's den in the forest vow to protect the animals from the superstitious townspeople and the greed of the hunters. Rave reviews including this one from Booklist:
"Convincing characters, tense action, and powerful conflicts makethis book an outstanding choice."
To learn more or to purchase, please click The Last Wolf in ireland.
Children's Irish Dictionary
by Hippocrene Books
As a total beginner in Irish, this has taught me quite a few words. The illustrations are beautifully done, and best of all, each word is given a rough English spelling of its pronunciation. Edited from an amazon review.
Click here for Kid's Irish Dictionary.
A lovely collection of well known Irish songs from the turn of the twentieth century. This album was created as a gift to MaryLee's Nana, Rose Burke Duval. The first half are songs well known to grandparents and the second half are original and traditional songs for children.
Click here for Irish Songs.