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What are some of the classic Irish folktales?

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this is a quote from one of my all time favorite irish tales, the tain bo cuailgne;



As the army of Connacht was preparing to start out on their march into Ulster, Maeve's charioteer turned the chariot around so the right side faced the sun, in order to draw down power for a safe return, they saw a young girl in front of them. She had yellow hair. She wore a speckled cloak, fastened around her with a gold pin, a red embroidered tunic and sandals with gold clasps. Her brow was broad, her jaw narrow, her two eyebrows pitch black, with delicate dark lashes casting shadows halfway down her cheeks. You would think her lips were inset with Parthian scarlet. Her teeth were like an array of jewels between her lips. She had hair in three tresses: two wound up around her head, and the third down her back brushing her calves. She held a light gold weaving rod in her hand with gold inlay. Her eyes had triple irises, and two black horses drew her chariot, and she was armed.
"What is your name?", Maeve said to the girl....
"I am Fedelm and I am the woman poet of Connacht", said she.
"Have you the imbas forasnai, the light of foresight?" asked Maeve.
"I do." she replied. "Then look upon my host and tell me how you see them."
said Maeve.
"I see them crimson, I see them red." replied Fedelm.

"That cannot be right," Maeve said,"look again and tell me the truth."


"I see them crimson, I see them red." she said again. Then her eyes clouded and she gazed into the mist......

"I see a battle: a blonde man
with much blood about his belt
and a hero-halo around his head,
his brow full of victories.

Seven hard heroic jewels
are set in the iris of his eyes.
His jaws are`settled in a snarl.
He wears a looped, red tunic.

A noble countenance I see
working effect on womenfolk,
a young man of sweet coloring,
a form dragonish in the fray.

His great valor brings to mind
Cuchuilainn of Muirtheimne,
the hound of Culainn, full of fame.
Who he is I cannot tell;
but I see the whole host
colored crimson by his hand.

A giant on the plain I see
doing battle with the host,
holding in each of his hands
four quick short swords.

I see him hurling against that host
two gae bolga and a spear,
and an ivory hilted sword.
Each weapon to its' separate task

He towers on the battlefield
in breastplate and red cloak.
Across the sinister chariot wheel
the Warped Man deals death...
that fair form I first beheld
melted to a mis-shape.

I see him moving to the fray;
take warning, watch him well'
Cuchulainn, Sualdam's son!
Now I see him in pursuit.

Whole hosts he will destroy
making dense massacre.
In thousands you will yield your heads,
I am Fedelm, I hide nothing.

The blood starts from warriors wounds
-total ruin- at his touch:
your warriors dead the warriors of
Deda Mac Sinn prowling loose.
Torn corpses, woman wailing
because of him--The Forge Hound

-from the irish epic" The Tain Bo Cuailgne" translated by Thomas Kinsella
I have always been a fan of Yeats, and especially liked his poem entitled "The Song of Wandering Angus". It was loosely based on the tale of Aengus Mac Og, the god of love. He fell in love with the daughter of a sidhe king, and spent many years searching for her. At last after many trials they were united, and supposedly live to this day in Tir N' An Og.
I first read the story of Aengus in Yeats' book on faery and folk tales, which has been published and re-published many times.



The Song of Wandering Aengus
by W. B. Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.


from the site: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/117

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