Traditions, folklore, history and more. If it's Irish, it's here. Or will be!
"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
Library: Books, Movies, Music
Prints & Photos
Bunús na Gaeilge
Circle of Prayer
Did You Know?
Write to Us
Links/Link to Us
Advertise with us
Awards & Testimonials
Help keep us free
Throughout the site you will see many items available for purchase from well-known merchants such as Amazon. Not interested in what we're featuring? It doesn't matter. Click on any link and then shop for whatever you wish - we will still get credit, if you buy something.
Thanks for your help.
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 Finns 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
Highland Heritage Society
Discover Northern Ireland
Index of All Children's Stories
Any purchase made helps to support our site (and the Irish Culture & Customs fairytale). Thank you.
Sat, Jul 15, 2017
Irish Seals and Selkie Tales
Two types of seals live in Ireland - the grey seal, which has a long snout like a dog's, and the common seal which has a round head. Grey seals live along the west coast; the common seal lives in inlets and on sandbanks. In medieval times, seal-hunting was common. But, most Irish people refuse to kill seals. One tradition says that after they die, fishermen turn into seals. Another legend says that seals shed their skins at night and become human. These are the Selkies; they have webs between their fingers and toes and must obey anyone who takes their oily skins; however, if they ever find their seal skins again, they will return to the sea. But, so the story goes, a Selkie wife will not forget her husband and children and can be seen swimming close to the shore watching over them.
Image: Grey seal swimming off Scattery Island in Co. Clare.
Click for More Culture Corner.
"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
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.