"Even a newspaper man, if you entice him into a cemetery at midnight, will believe in phantoms, for every one is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough. But the Celts is a visionary without scratching." -- from the Introduction
In this charming collection, readers will find themselves transported to the shadowy, twilit world of Celtic myth and legend -- where the deenee shee (fairy people) work their mischief, where priests and the devil wage an endless struggle for the souls of humankind, where clever wives outwit murderous giants and druids cast geise (spells).
The majority of the tales presented here were collected in the nineteenth century by such folklorists as William Allingham, T. Crofton Croker, Douglas Hyde, and Lady Wilde (Oscar Wilde's mother). From this rich legacy, William Butler Yeats, who drew upon Irish fairy lore for his own poetry and plays, chose an especially interesting and representative selection: "The White Trout; A Legend of Cong," "The Brewery of Egg-shells," "The Soul Cages," "The Kildare Pooka," "The Black Lamb," "The Horned Women," "The Phantom Isle," "King O'Toole and his Goose," "The Demon Cat," "The Giant's Stairs," "The Twelve Wild Geese," and many more -- 64 in all.
Now lovers of myth and legend can immerse themselves in this treasury of time-honored tales brimming with the warmth, charm, and age-old peasant lore of rural Ireland. An Introduction and Notes by W. B. Yeats help elucidate the background of the stories and their meaning and role in Irish life and culture.