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Legends and Sagas  England

Celtic Folklore

Ireland  Wales  Scotland  Brittany  Fairies  General  

Some of these books and texts are translations of Celtic legends and sagas; others are retellings of the material, folklore, or literary works based on Celtic themes. During the 19th and early 20th Century there was a resurgence of interest in the folklore of Ireland, Wales and Scotland. This was reflected in a huge amount of literature based on the rich Celtic mythopoetic heritage, most of it very faithful to the original material, some in a more modern voice.

A good number of these files were originally scanned by Phillip Brown for his (now defunct) Celtic Folklore website. These are indicated by [PB].

  Celtic Midi files Music to listen to while you read Celtic folklore.


  The Second Battle of Mag Tuired (Cath Maige Tuired) This Irish saga, first written down in the ninth Century A.D. is an account of the epic battle between the mythical Tuatha De Danann and Fomoire for Ireland. It has deep roots in Indo-European mythology, told with Homeric grace and bawdy humor. There are many allusions to ancient pre-Christian Celtic traditions.
  The Cattle-Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cúailnge) The Cattle-Raid of Cooley is the central epic of the Ulster cycle. It tells of the great Irish hero, Cuchulain of Ulster, and his battle against the forces of Queen Medb of Connaught.
  The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel
Translated by Whitely Stokes [1910]
  Heroic Romances of Ireland (2 Vols.). by A. H. Leahy [1905-6]
Includes the Courtship of Etain, the Boar of Mac Datho, the Sickbed of Cuchulain, and the five "Tains" or Cattle-Forays, including the bizarre Tain bo Regamna, The Apparition of The Great Queen to Cuchulain. This etext has been submitted to Project Gutenberg.

Lady Augusta Gregory was a close collaborator with W.B. Yeats, the Irish poet and mystic. These three books are her retellings of Irish mythology and folklore, and are among the best of the genre.

Cuchulain of Muirthemne by Lady Gregory [1902] [PB]
  Gods and Fighting Men by Lady Gregory [1904] [PB]
  A Book of Saints and Wonders by Lady Gregory [1906] [PB]
  Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland by Lady Gregory [1920] [PB]

  Yeats Index
  Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry
   Edited and Selected by W. B. Yeats [1888]
  The Celtic Twilight by W.B. Yeats [1893 and 1902]
   This short book of essays by Yeats is a must-read.

  In The Seven Woods    by W. B. Yeats [1903]
This is a short book of poetry and a play by Yeats on Irish mythological themes.

  Legends and Stories of Ireland by Samuel Lover [1831, 1834] [PB]
   An early 19th century collection of comic Irish short stories.

  The Irish Sketch-book by William Makepeace Thackeray [1845] [PB]
   A travelogue of Ireland of the 1840s, not much in the way of folklore, but good background information.

  Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde [1887] [PB]
   A volumnious collection of Irish folklore, including folk magic, not all of it authoritative.

  Myths and Folklore of Ireland by Jeremiah Curtin [1890] [PB]
  Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts by Patrick Kennedy [1891] [PB]
   A huge collection of Irish folklore and legends, up through Christian times.

  The Aran Islands by John M. Synge [1907] [PB]
   A travelogue of the Aran Islands with beautiful woodcut illustrations.

  Celtic Wonder Tales by Ella Young [1910] [PB]
  Beside the Fire by Douglas Hyde [1910] [PB]
   A scholarly collection of Irish folk stories. The Preface of this book reviews many of the books included on this page.

  The Crock of Gold by James Stephens [1912] [PB]
   This is a novel based on Irish folklore.

  In Wicklow and West Kerry by John M. Synge [1912] [PB]
   A travelogue of rural Ireland at the turn of the 19th Century

  The King of Ireland's Son by Padraic Colum [1916] [PB]
  The Druid Path by Marah Ellis Ryan [1917]
   This is a collection of short stories set in ancient and modern Ireland by an American author.

  The Candle of Vision by AE (George William Russell) [1918]
Essays on Celtic mysticism.

  Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens [1920] [PB]


  The Mabinogion Lady Charlotte Guest, tr. [1877]
   The Mabinogion is a group of Welsh tales from the Red Book of Hergest, a 14th Century manuscript maintained at Jesus College, Oxford.

  The Four Ancient Books of Wales
by William F. Skene [1868]
This is the only available translation of the complete corpus of Welsh Bardic poetry.

  Prolegomena to the Study of Old Welsh Poetry
by Edward Anwyl [1903]
  The Gododdin Poems
   from The Four Ancient Books of Wales by William F. Skene [1868]
  British Goblins by Wirt Sikes [1881] [PB]
   Despite the title, this book is actually a study of Welsh fairy folklore.

  The Welsh Fairy Book by W. Jenkyn Thomas [1907] [PB]
   A collection of Welsh legends and folktales for young readers.

  Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx By John Rhys [1900] [PB]


  The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child [1882-1898].
This is the motherlode of ballad collections, including many variations on each ballad.

  Popular Tales of the West Highlands by J. F. Campbell. [1890]
This is a four-volume comprehensive sourcebook of Scottish folklore.

  The Poems of Ossian by James Macpherson [1773]
  Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales by Sir George Douglas [1773]
  Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend by Donald Alexander Mackenzie [1917]
  Notes on the Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland by Walter Gregor [1881]


  Legends and Romances of Brittany by Lewis Spence [1917]
  Folk Tales of Brittany by Elsie Masson [1929, Copyright not renewed]

Celtic Fairies

These are texts and studies about Celtic fairies, elves, and other supernatural creatures (as opposed to fairytales, which are a different matter altogether). Some of the books listed here are listed elsewhere on this page.

The Secret Common-Wealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies By Robert Kirk, 'Comment' by Andrew Lang [1893]
   This monograph, originally written in 1691, is a classic of Scottish fairy folklore, and this etext was scanned from a very rare first printing of the Lang edition.

  The Coming of the Fairies by Arthur Conan Doyle [1922]
A study of the famous Cottingley fairy photographs, by the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

  Fairy Legends and Traditions by Thomas Crofton Croker [1825] [PB]
  British Goblins by Wirt Sikes [1881] [PB]
   Despite the title, this book is actually a study of Welsh fairy folklore.

  Tales of Fairies and of the Ghost World by Jeremiah Curtin [1895] [PB]
  A Peep at the Pixies by Anna Eliza Bray; Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne [1854]. [PB]
  Tales of the Dartmoor Pixies by William Crossing [1890]. [PB]
  The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz [1911] [PB]
   This is a serious study of Fairy folklore and mythology, with an ethnographic approach. This was the first book by Evans-Wentz, who later went on to translate many of the books of Tibetean Buddhism.

  Fairies by Gertrude M. Faulding [1913]. [PB]
  The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley [1870]. [PB]
  The Science of Fairy Tales by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1891]. [PB]

General Studies

  The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J. A. MacCulloch [1911]
  Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs [1892] [PB]
  More Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs [1894] [PB]
  Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race by Thomas Rolleston [1911] [PB]
  On the Study of Celtic Literature by Matthew Arnold [1867] [PB]
  A Book of Folklore by Sabine Baring-Gould [1913] [PB]
  Tom Tit Tot, An Essay on Savage Philosophy in Folk-Tale by Edward Clodd [1898] [PB]