Irish Folktales for St. Patrick's Day

March 11, 2013 | Scott

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Before any major holiday, library customers raid each branch’s seasonal picture book shelves, clearing them almost entirely for weeks. With St. Patrick’s Day arriving early next week, it might be difficult to find books on this holiday. Luckily, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates all things Irish and is a perfect opportunity to introduce readers to folk tales and folklore of the Emerald Isle.

Kids love reading and having folk tales read to them with their unique combination of the everyday with the fantastical. Passed down orally from generation to generation, most cultures have their own set of folk tales but from culture to culture, they often have many similarities—the details are varied but the stories are very familiar.

Get your green on with this selection of Irish folk tale and folklore resources below.

Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife Finn McCool and the Great Fish
Finn McCool and the Great Fish & Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife
These two picture books recount stories about the largest giant in Ireland. You’ll notice the different spellings of Finn’s last name; this kind of variation sometimes happens with stories that are passed down orally, similar to the differences in spelling found in Greek and Roman mythology. 

Leprechaun in Late Winter Leprechauns and Irish Folklore
Leprechaun in Late Winter & Leprechauns and Irish Folklore
No Irish folk tale booklist would be complete without an appearance by leprechauns and what better way to introduce them to kids through a popular early chapter book series, Magic Tree House! In this instalment, Jack and Annie travel back in time to 19th century Ireland to meet a mysterious leprechaun girl. The accompanying “Fact Tracker” extends the story experience providing additional information on fairies, leprechauns and why Irish stories have stood the test of time.

The Wonders of Donal O'DonnellThe Wonders of Donal O’Donnell
This beautifully illustrated picture book is geared more towards older readers with its exploration of death and loss through four traditional Irish tales.  An Irish father who has recently lost his son returns home one day to find three peddlers taken in by his wife who offer their stories filled with wonder and magic. 

Brave Margaret
Brave Margaret
With the shared folklore between Ireland and Scotland, my first thought on this book is whether or not it inspired the most recent Pixar movie, Brave. Even so, Brave Margaret is worth a look especially for those wanting to introduce kids to strong female characters that defy stereotypes. As the intended champion of a magical sword, it is Margaret who saves the prince.