Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/443

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Short Bibliographical Notices. 429

Legends of Saints and Sinners. Collected and translated from the Irish by Douglas Hyde, LL.D., D.Litt. London : T. Fisher Unwin, n.d. [181 5]. Crown 8vo, pp. xiv + 295. Price 2s. 6d.

This is a volume of an excellent new series, "Every Irishman's Library." It is a collection of genuine Irish folk-tales, which may be called Christian, and many of the tales are translated for the first time or gathered from sources not generally accessible. " Some of them," Dr. Hyde says, "obviously come from Continental sources, though how they first found their way to Ireland is obscure, and the derivation of some of them cannot now be traced ; others, how- ever, are of purely native invention ; while a third class engrafts native traits and ideas upon foreign subject matter." The dove- tailing of what is Pagan into what is Christian is very characteristic. It is to be noted that the Devil personified rarely appears, and Witches, with the terrible tales of Witch Sabbaths, are unknown. The tales chiefly relate to Irish Saints; among foreign Saints the name of St. Peter is predominant, followed by St. Paul and St. Martin. Among mythical characters we find Grainne Oigh, Father Brian, the Old Woman of Beare, Mulruana, and other well-known names, like Oisin, Oscar, and Solomon. How the tale of the Great Hebrew King, with its strong oriental flavour, came to Ireland is unknown. The Evil Eye was known in Ireland, but no tale is based on this belief, and while witches are unknown they are replaced by characters male and female, known as Amait, which are purely Pagan and owe nothing to Christianity. The Devil is a grotesque rather than a terrible figure, and Mr. Hyde warns us that names like "The Devil's Bit" and "The Devil's Punchbowl," so common in Irish nomenclature, do not always correspond to the original Irish appellation. One curious tale, " The Stone of Truth, or The Merchant of the Seven Bags," is based on the legend of the famous Lia Fail which has been ex- haustively discussed by Mr. Hartland ; ^ another, " The Death of Bearachan," is almost unique, as showing a point of contact between Breton and Irish folklore ; the story of " The Student who left College " embodies the belief in the danger of eating food of the Other World ; that of " The Old Woman of Beare " appears to be ^ Ritual and Belief, p. 290 et seqq.