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"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
The story of the little bird
by T. Crofton Croker
Once long ago in a monastery in Ireland there lived a holy man. He was walking one day in the garden of his monastery, when he decided to kneel down and pray, to give thanks to God for the beauty of the flowers and plants and herbs around him. As he did so, he heard a small bird singing, and never before had he heard any song as sweet. When his prayers were finished, the monk stood up and listened to the bird, and when the creature flew away from the garden singing as it went, he followed it.
In a while they came to a small grove of trees outside the monastery grounds, and there the bird continued its song. As the bird hopped from tree to tree, still singing all the while, the monk carried on following the little creature, until they had gone a great distance. The more the bird sang, the more the monk was enchanted by the music it made.
Eventually, the two had traveled far away from the monastery, and the monk realised that it would soon be nighttime. So reluctantly, he left the bird behind and retraced his steps, arriving back home as the sun was going down in the west. As the sun set, it l;it up the sky with all the colours of the rainbow, and the monk thought that the sight was almost as beautiful and heavenly as the song of the little bird he had been listening to all afternoon long.
But the glorious sunset was not the only sight that surprised the monk. As he entered the monastery gates, everything around him seemed changed from before. In the garden grew different plants, in the courtyard the monks had different faces, and even the monastery buildings seem to be different. The monk knew he was in the right place, but how could all these changes have taken place in just one afternoon?
The monk walked across the courtyard and greeted the first monk he saw. "Brother, how is it that our monastery has changed so much since this morning? There are new plants in the garden, new faces amongst the other monks, and even the stones of the monastery seem different.
The second monk looked at the first monk very carefully. Why do you ask these questions? There have been no changes here since this morning. And we have no new monks except for yourself, for even though you wear the habit of our order, I have not seen you before. The two monks looked at each other in wonder, Neither could understand what had happened. So the first monk started to tell his story. He said that he had gone for a walk in the monastery garden. He had heard the song of a little bird and then had followed it into the countryside.
As the first monk told his story, the second monk's expression turned from puzzlement to awe and surprise. He said, There's a tale in our order about a brother like you who went missing one day after a bird was heard singing. He was never seen again and no-one knew what had happened to him. All this happened two hundred years ago.
The first monk looked at the second monk and said - well, that is indeed my story and the time of my death has finally arrived. Praised be the lord for his mercies on me. And the monk begged the second monk to take his confession and give him absolution for the hour of his death was near. All this was done, the holy man died before midnight, and he was buried with great solemnity in the monastery graveyard.
Ever since then, the monks have retold this story. They say the little bird was an angel of the Lord, and that this was God's way of taking the soul of a man who was known for his holiness and his love for the beauties of nature.
Note: Originally Attributed to T. Crofton Croker who says he wrote it word for word as he heard it from an old woman at a holy well. This version is edited and adapted from Traditional Tales from Long , Long Ago retold by Philip Wilson. It's also retold by W. B Yeats in his famous book Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry(1888).
Images: Abbey Garden by Art Fronckowiak
Bird by Darryl Vlasak
From All Posters and prints
Monk: Lemon Grove Historical Society
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.
"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb
Fairies, gnomes, ogres, and a very clever Dachshund are just a few of the colorful characters woven into the tapestry of this Irish tale for all ages. Meet the royal cousins of the mythical Kingdom of the Bald Ferns and their flying dragon, FLASH. In exciting bite-sized chapters, they'll take you along on their adventures in Old Ireland. Visit the Magic Pool and the Enchanted Land of Oolagilbie. Make the long, cold trip to the mysterious and dangerous Ice Mountain. Attend a dragon wedding and see what the bride does, or doesn't, wear. These are a few of the stories in FLASH, the tale of an Irish dragon.
Click here for Flash.
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.