Irish folklore is a realm of unprecedented, colorful creatures and characters. T. Crofton Croker is just one of the many creators of these mythical stories. Croker, who lived from 1798-1854, is remembered as an Irish antiquary. He is said to have collected many of these tales from his time traveling in southern Ireland. Here’s a quick recap of a few of our favorites. Research Croker and the titles of these stories to read them in their entirety or learn more about him.
Master and Man
Master and Man is the story of a man who loved his drink. The main character, Billy McDaniel, fell in with a tiny fairy who offered him a cup full of drink one night. As payment, Billy was in the fairy’s service. At his master’s request—and Billy’s delight—they met every night to set off on “fine horses,” which appeared from bundles of rushes. Billy became the same size as his master during these escapades. The two traveled all of Ireland, entering homes and bars through keyholes, and drinking the finest drinks they had to offer. One night, the master took Billy to a wedding celebration where he said he intended to marry the bride and take her away from her young fiancé. Billy saved the girl by shouting out a “God Bless You” when she sneezed for a third time, but gave the entire wedding party a surprise when—upon being released from his duty to the fairy—landed squarely in the center of the wedding party’s table, as his full-size self.
The Soul Cages
The tale of Jack Dogherty is one of a man in search of a Merrow. He finally meets one named Coomara, who invites him to explore his world under the sea—including a visit to his personal home. Here, Jack inquires about Coomara’s collection of lobster pots and learns they are actually “soul cages” for the souls of drowned sailors. This greatly disturbed Jack and he set about making a plan to trick Coomara and free the souls of the sailors. After giving Coomara a good deal of drink, he snuck down to his home and turned over the pots, freeing the souls. Coomara was none the wiser about the event, but Jack’s conscience breathed a sigh of relief and the two remained friends for years to come.
The Giant’s Stairs
This is the story of a boy named Philip Ronayne, who was believed to have been taken from his parents when he was just 7 years old. His disappearance seemed inexplicable until a blacksmith named Robin Kelly, who lived in a nearby village had a mysterious dream involving Philip. The boy appeared to him in the dream and said he had been made the servant of the giant Mahon McMahon who lived in the rock at “The Giant’s Stairs,” and that he needed Robin’s help to be dismissed from his seven years of servitude. After some internal debate, Robin agreed and set off to free Philip from the grasp of the giant. As luck would have it, he did find Philip, who was somewhat frozen in time at the age of seven. After a mind-bending conversation with the giant, the two were cast out of the depths of the rock and free to return to their village to share the mythical tale of heroism.