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Index of All Children's Stories

Kids' Ireland Library

The Piper's Tale
by Grainne Rowland

"Collin, how did you ever learn to play the pipes* like that? For years, you've only known one tune. Now you've played for more than an hour, and every tune is different. What happened?"

"Well," said Collin, "do you remember the party on All Hallow's Eve? They asked me to play my one tune, 'The Black Piper', and to tell some jokes."

"I started home just before midnight. I hadn't gone far. There was no moon. Suddenly, I heard the sound of galloping behind me. The hoofbeats were coming closer and closer. They were getting louder and louder. I whipped around and saw bursts of fire coming from a huge, black horse's nostrils. His hooves were kicking up fiery sparks from the stones on the road."

"Then the beast flipped me over his muscled neck and onto his strong, solid back. My heart was beating so fast I couldn't even yell. Grabbing for the thick mane, I hung on hard. What was happening?"

"Slowly, my heart stopped pounding so fast. I looked at the strange horse. It was the Pooka! His eyes flashed red. He galloped so fast I could hardly hold on to his mane and my pipes, too."

"Collin, please play me a reel," asked the Pooka politely. I nearly lost my seat from the surprise of hearing him speak!

"But, Pooka, I can only play 'The Black Piper'", said I.

But the Pooka said, "Collin, give it a try."

My fingers covered the holes in the chanter. I squeezed with my elbow. The music that came from my pipes was the most beautiful I'd ever heard. Am I really playing this wonderful music, I wondered.

"Yes, you are," said the Pooka, reading my thoughts. "Don't be so surprised. Soon, you'll be playing even better!"

The Pooka had come to a stop in front of a high hill. He stamped his hoof twice, causing sparks to fly. A hidden door opened into the hill.

Down a long, dark tunnel we went. I heard noises that sounded like a party. I heard harp music. As the tunnel curved to the left, we entered a large, brightly-lit meadow. I saw people dancing in clothes of shimmering cloth.

"Pooka!" shouted the Good People (for that is who they were). "You've brought a piper! Now we can really dance!"

"But I only know one tune," I protested.

"No, you don't. Play!" ordered the Pooka. And I played. I played like I'd never played before. I played tunes I'd never heard before. The Good People danced. Even the Pooka danced!

After hours of playing, my pipes were finally quiet. I sank to the ground wearily. The queen of the Good People put a green cloth bag into my hands. It was full of gold coins.

"Thank you for the wonderful music," she smiled. "From now on, you will be Ireland's greatest piper. Perhaps we will see you again one day."

When the sun rose, I found myself in front of my cottage, my pipes in my arms. I gave the gold to my wife. Then I tried a tune, and I could still play whatever I wished!"

"So that's how I got the gift of music from the Pooka and the Good People, and sometimes I still play for them!"

*Collin played the Uillean Pipes which are very different from Scottish or Highland Bagpipes. The word Uillean is pronounced illawn which is Irish for elbow. Highland Bagpipes are played standing, Uilleann Pipes are played sitting. Highland Bagpipes are for the outdoors, Uilleann Pipes are for indoor playing. The Highland bagpipes are usually learned by rote from written music and judged in competitions. Uilleann Pipes are played in a wide variety of styles; individual players create their own versions of tunes which will vary from player to player. Lastly, Uilleann Pipers don't normally learn from sheet music but learn how to play by ear. And, it is a very hard instrument to learn.

Uillean Piper from O'Brien Clan page
Black Horse from Bare Walls Art Prints. Artist unknown
Gold Coins from Google Images
Uilleann Pipes from Kennedy's Uilleann Pipes

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Wed, Jan 3, 2018

FOTA Wildlife Park

Only 10,000 cheetahs remain in their natural habitat and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork, Ireland, is the world's leading breeder of this endangered species. Fota is among the most modern wildlife parks in Europe. It was opened in 1983 and has more than 70 species living in natural open surroundings with no obvious barriers. Only the cheetahs are behind fences.
Another species which is being saved from extinction at Fota is the white tailed sea eagle. It disappeared from Ireland in the early 1900's, but is now being bred at the park and re-introduced to the wild in Co. Kerry.
Fota is open to the public in the summer and is very popular with Irish families, as well as tourists.

Click for More Culture Corner.

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

An Irish Halloween
by Sarah Kirwan Blazek, James Rice (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Blazek and Rice (An Irish Night Before Christmas) describe what ensues one "Snap Apple Night," when three goblins force a Wise Woman to cure their sick companion.
Edited from an Amazon review
Click here for Irish Halloween.

To School Through The Fields

What a delight this little book is! And oh, the fun parents or grandparents will have either reading it for themselves or to the children. And for those youngsters who know how to read, every chapter tells a warm-hearted tale of what it was like to grow up in rural Ireland not so long ago.
Click here for School through the Fields

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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March 4, 2011
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