Best Bewitching Irish Myths And Legends For March Reading

Selkies, swans, and saviors of trapped damsels! Irish Myths and Legends host a cast of fantastic characters and stories that fuse the land to its people.

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A photo of a majestic looking seaside is in the background with three Irish Myth and Legends book covers lined up together in front.

The first time I visited Ireland was for a family trip with my husband and our two toddlers that had been tediously delayed over a year by the COVID-19 pandemic and felt long overdue. It was my first time leaving the United States and my expectations were illogically high. I wanted to see spacious, endlessly green land, friendly people, rocky cliffs, ancient ruins and castles, and majestic churches and abbeys. Ireland promised all of that to my naïve wanderer’s heart and when we arrived, it delivered even more. Ireland gave my family experiences that could never be recreated in any other country in the world and begged us to return (which we did less than a year later!).

It was not just the scenery or the architecture that captured our attention. Irish culture is ripe with pints of Guinness and pubs of rowdy redheads, yes, but also with stories that anchor the people to the earth on which they were born. Their sense of belonging surpasses their nationality — it is fused into the identity of the people and the land. Irish people throughout our visit were not only eager to share their tea and company but also their stories and traditions. 

Here are five books that continue the tradition of sharing Irish Myths and Legends with people all over the world. 

The Names Upon the Harp: Irish Myths and Legends by Marie Heaney

The Names Upon the Harp: Irish Myths and Legends by Marie Heaney, book cover of an woman singing to the heavens with swans flying above
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Our first stop when arriving in Ireland was a local jeweler based out of County Cavan who gave us the unexpected treat of hours of her family’s company in addition to lending us endless toys, tourist guides, and books, including The Names Upon the Harp. She explained that many of her pieces were inspired by this children’s book that held only the most well-known classic Irish Myths and Legends and was written by the wife of the famous Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. However, what stands out most in the book is the illustrations by P.J. Lynch, which are both haunting and elegant, lending to the mystical aura of the stories that unfold.

Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales by Kate Forrester

Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales by Kate Forrester, book cover in celtic knot borders that feature dragons, cow, witch,and fairy
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This collection of sixteen Celtic tales is not only about Ireland but Scotland, Wales, and Brittany as well. The tales were translated in the 19th and 20th centuries and are brought to life with vibrant illustrations by Kate Forrester. The inclusion of various Celtic origins also gives the reader a unique perspective into understanding how interwoven the Celtic cultures really were. 

Irish Tales of the Fairies and the Ghost World by Jeremiah Curtin

Irish Tales of the Fairies and the Ghost World by Jeremiah Curtin, book cover depicting a woman among sprites in the forest
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This untraditional book of Irish tales was written over a century ago by a Smithsonian Institution ethnographer and first-generation American to Irish parents, Jeremiah Curtin, who went to commune with Irish villagers who believed ardently in the existence of fairies. Curtin became an expert in Irish folklore by recording thirty first-hand accounts of fairies and ghosts by people who not only believed in their existence but also had intimate knowledge of their affairs in meddling with the human world. 

Irish Fairy Tales and Folklore by W.B. Yeats

Irish Fairy Tales and Folklore by W.B. Yeats
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If you are looking for an enduring rendition of Irish Myths and Legends, look no further than W.B. Yeatss Irish Fairy Tales and Folklore. The poet, considered one of the greatest of the twentieth century, was a loyal Irishman who never considered himself English and was even a senator of the Irish Free State. His collection of over seventy classic Irish stories written in lyrical, captivating prose is suited for any reader interested in Irish literature and ideal for everyone interested in the cultural preservation of his beguiling homeland. 

Favourite Irish Legends: Best Loved Tales from Ireland by Yvonne Carroll, Fiona Waters, and Felicity Trotman

Favourite Irish Legends: Best Loved Tales from Ireland by Yvonne Carroll, Fiona Waters, and Felicity Trotman
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This book of Irish legends is ideally suited for engaging the young minds of children with the magnificent heroes and heroines, villains, and deities of Irish mythology. The stories in it include The Children of Lir, The Brown Bull of Cooley, Deirdre of the Sorrows, and The Salmon of Knowledge, among others. Since the book is written with children in mind, readers should be warned that a guide to pronouncing Irish words might be necessary if you plan to read it aloud!

If you haven’t been to Ireland yet — or even if you have — you are sure to be booking your flights after reading all of these otherworldly Irish Myths and Legends!


Are you interested in reading more about books by Irish authors? Check out this Bookstr article!

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