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Old Whiskers Wins a Wife and Aine Learns a Lesson
by Grainne Rowland

King Laoghaire's daughter, Aine, was of an age to be married. But, she was being very stubborn about the possible husbands her father presented to her.

"No, Father!" yelled Aine, stamping her foot. "Not one of these chieftains is good enough for me. I've looked at 79 of them. They are all too old, or too fat, or too thin, or too tall, or too short! Why, the last one had a scraggly beard down to his chest. No wonder I turned him down - Old Whiskers, indeed!"

"Then," roared King Laoghaire to his daughter, "I will marry you off to the first beggar who comes to the door!"

The next day the king stood guard at the door himself. Early in the morning, a beggar stopped at Tara to ask for alms. He was stooped over, wore patched and dirty clothing, and had a dirty beard. The king pulled him into the building and called his daughter.

"This is your husband!" he informed his daughter. "Now go with him and never let me see you again!"

Such was the law in old Ireland in those days that Aine had no choice but to follow the dirty beggar along the rocky road. As unhappy and angry as she was, Aine noticed that the beggar had a gentle voice and kindly manners.

They walked for many hours, breathing in the spring air. Finally, Aine asked, "Who owns all these fields?"

"Why, Old Whiskers owns these fields. He owns all the land in these parts."

"And who owns all these cattle?" Aine asked.

"Old Whiskers, of course!" answered the old beggar.

Maybe I should have married Old Whiskers, Aine thought. He owns everything.

As the day darkened, the beggar led Aine to a humble little house.

"Home, at last," he smiled as Aine entered. She saw a very poor, but neat room. There was one table, one chair, a fireplace, and very little else.

"Tomorrow," said the beggar to Aine, "you must go to town and sell these baskets I have made. We must eat."

But, the next day, Aine caught all the baskets on thorn bushes and tore them apart.

"Oh," she cried, "I can't carry such a heavy load. I lose my balance!"

The second day, the beggar sent Aine to market to sell the fish he had caught. But a pack of dogs ran off with the fish.

"Oh," cried Aine, "I can't carry fish and fight off dogs. I'm afraid of big dogs!"

"Well, then," sighed the beggar, "I must find you a job in the kitchen of the chieftain. The cook will teach you to fry, bake, and boil. Then, perhaps, you can earn your keep."

At the end of her first week in the kitchen, Aine was very hot and tired. She stood at the kitchen door. She watched the party given in honor of a handsome chieftain. He would be married tomorrow. Aine thought of all the extra cooking she would have to do for the wedding feast. She sighed unhappily. I wish I had listened to my father, she thought.

Aine was suddenly caught by the hand. She was in the middle of the dance floor, whirling with the chieftain. Her face went red, for she was still in her greasy cook's clothing. She tried to run away from the chieftain.

"Don't you know me?" asked the chieftain. "I am Old Whiskers. I am also the beggar. And, I am going to marry you tomorrow, if you'll have me!"

Just then, Aine's father appeared and hugged her. "I think you've learned your lesson, daughter," said King Laoghaire. "Will you marry Old Whiskers?"

"Oh, yes, Father!" laughed Aine. "I will never be so stuborn again!"

So Old Whiskers and Aine were married. And they lived happily ever after!

Princess by John R. Neill
King by Ivan Bilibin
Cottage by M. Birkett-Foster
Country Cottage by D. Elliott
Basket of Fish Postcard
Prince & Princess by Ivan Bilibin
from Barewalls Photos and Prints.

Baskets by Helen Paul from All Posters
Old Whiskers adapted from a poster of The Lord of the Rings
from All Posters & Prints

All Images shown are available for purchase. Any purchase made helps to support our site (and Bridget's fondness for fairytales). Thank you.


Fri, Feb 2, 2018

Valentine's Day in Ireland

All over the world, Valentine's Day is celebrated with flowers, chocolates and cards. But in Ireland, it's even more special. In 1836, a relic of St. Valentine was sent by Pope Gregory to the Carmelite Church in Dublin. Every year since then, on Valentine's Day, a casket containing the relic is carried in a procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and those in love. If you're lucky enough to be there, this little known Dublin church also sells Valentine's Day cards. But if you're like most young people, it's much more fun to give cards you've made yourself.
Photo Credit: Early Childhood Ireland

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

Favorite Fairytales told in Ireland
by Virginia Haviland

One of a landmark series back in print for a new generation of young readers to collect and cherish.
Click here for Fairy Tales

A Child's Treasury of Irish Rhymes
Compiled by Alice Taylor

This playful collection of poetry is culled from Taylor's childhood memories. It whisks readers' imaginations to the Emerald Isle, and in the tradition of Irish lore, fairies, elves and mischievous shoemakers flit magically among the pages.
Click here for Children's Rhymes.


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March 4, 2011
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