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Kids' Ireland
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."
Samuel Lover

Index of All Children's Stories

Kids' Ireland Library

How The Causeway Came to Be
Edited and adapted from Irish folklore by Bridget Haggerty

What caused the Giants Causeway? Scientists say that millions of years ago, there were huge volcanic eruptions and after they were over, thousands of strange-looking columns appeared on the coast of Co. Antrim. Is that really what happened? The Seanchai*, or Irish story-teller, has a far different tale to tell.

It's said that the Causeway was built by a gentle giant, Fionn MacCumhain, or Finn McCool. Even legend, though, has its contrasting accounts. In one tale, Finn was said to be in love with a lady giant who lived on the Scottish island of Staffa, and that he built the Causeway in order to safely bring her home to Ireland. In fact, there's a similar though smaller collection of the strange columns on Staffa's coastline, and geographically, Ireland and Scotland were once much closer than they are today.




The other legend says that Finn built the Causeway due to an ongoing argument with a Scottish giant named Benandonner who could not swim. In an argument one day, while they were shouting at each other over the Sea of Moyle, Finn took a clump of earth and flung it at his enemy. The land fell in the sea and became the Isle of Man, while the huge hole left in Ireland became Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles.

As the arguments continued, Finn decided to build the Causeway in order to make it easy for Benandonner to come and fight him. After so much hard work, Finn was exhausted and he fell asleep.

Here again, there are different versions of the same story.

Oonagh was Finn’s wife. When she heard the sound of thunderous footsteps, she knew it was Brenandonner come to fight Finn. Oonagh took one look at the gigantic visitor on her doorstep and realised this was a battle Finn could never win. She threw a blanket over her sleeping husband and stuck a bonnet on his head. There was no possible way Finn could defeat Benandonner for he was too small.

Where's Finn?" roared Benandonner. "Shusha, shusha", whispered OOnagh - "You'll wake the wee one!" Benandonner looked at the snoring Finn. His jaw dropped 10 feet. If the child was that hefty, what size would the father be? Benandonner wasn't sticking around to find out. He ran like the wind, destroying part of the Causeway in his wake so Finn could not pursue him.

The other story says that Benandonner had arranged to fight Finn but when he got to Finn's house , Finn's wife said he had been delayed. To pass the time, the Scottish giant decided to play with the baby (who was actually Finn in disguise). Finn promptly bit off Bennandonner's magic middle finger. Finn knew that this would cause caused the Scottish giant to lose his strength. Brenandonner roared in pain and when he saw that his magic middle ginger was gone he ran back to Scotland, howling, never to be seen in Antrim again.

*Seanchai is pronounced shawnakey

Resources:
Content:
Highland Heritage Society
Discover Northern Ireland

Images:
Giants Causeway
Discover Northern Ireland
Saraphina.com/moseyUK
Pretentia.com/celticadventure
Fee Fi Fo Fum by Tony Sarge
Isle of Man
Lough Neagh
Baby



Index of All Children's Stories



Kids Reading - from All Posters
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Sat, Apr 12, 2014

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.

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"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb



The Last Wolf in Ireland
by Elona Malterre

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.



 

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