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Celtic Folklore

Ireland  Wales  Scotland  Brittany  Cornwall  Manx  Fairies  General  Links

Some of these books and texts are translations of Celtic legends and sagas; others are retellings of the material, folklore, or literary works based on Celtic themes. During the 19th and early 20th Century there was a resurgence of interest in the folklore of Ireland, Wales and Scotland. This was reflected in a huge amount of literature based on the rich Celtic mythopoetic heritage, most of it very faithful to the original material, some in a more modern voice.

A good number of these files were originally scanned by Phillip Brown for his (now defunct) Celtic Folklore website. These are indicated by [PB].

 Celtic Midi files Music to listen to while you read Celtic folklore.


 The Voyage of Bran
by Meyer Kuno [1895]
Old Irish saga of a voyage to the pagan Celtic otherworld, with parallel English and Gaelic.

 The Second Battle of Mag Tuired (Cath Maige Tuired)
This Irish saga, from before the ninth Century A.D., is an account of the epic battle between the mythical Tuatha De Danann and Fomoire for Ireland.
It has deep roots in Indo-European mythology, told with Homeric grace and bawdy humor. There are many allusions to ancient pre-Christian Celtic traditions.

The Cattle Raid of Cualnge
by L. Winifred Faraday [1904]
The core text of the Ulster cycle: the epic tale of Cucchulain, the defender of Ireland.

 The Cattle-Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cúailnge)
The central epic of the Ulster cycle: the great Irish hero, Cuchulain of Ulster, and his battle against the forces of Queen Medb of Connaught.

 The Destruction of Dá Derga’s Hostel
Translated by Whitely Stokes [1910]

 Heroic Romances of Ireland (2 Vols.)
by A. H. Leahy [1905-6]
The Courtship of Etain, the Boar of Mac Datho, the Sickbed of Cuchulain, and the five “Tains” or Cattle-Forays, including the bizarre Tain bo Regamna, The Apparition of The Great Queen to Cuchulain.
This text was contributed to Project Gutenberg.

Lady Augusta Gregory was a close collaborator with W.B. Yeats, the Irish poet and mystic. These three books are her retellings of Irish mythology and folklore, and are among the best of the genre.
 Cuchulain of Muirthemne
by Lady Augusta Gregory [1902] [PB]

 Gods and Fighting Men
by Lady Augusta Gregory [1904] [PB]

 A Book of Saints and Wonders
by Lady Augusta Gregory [1906] [PB]
Irish Christian folklore, including Brigit, Columcille, St. Patrick, and the Voyage of Brendan.

 Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland
by Lady Augusta Gregory [1920] [PB]

 Yeats Index
 Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry
Edited and Selected by W. B. Yeats [1888]

 The Celtic Twilight
by W.B. Yeats [1893 and 1902]
This short book of essays by Yeats is a must-read.

 In The Seven Woods
by W. B. Yeats [1903]
A short book of poetry and a play by Yeats on Irish mythological themes.

 Later Poems
by W. B. Yeats [1922]
Some of Yeats’ best known poetry.

 Legends and Stories of Ireland
by Samuel Lover [1831, 1834] [PB]
An early 19th century collection of comic Irish short stories.

 The Irish Sketch-book
by William Makepeace Thackeray [1845] [PB]
A travelogue of Ireland of the 1840s, not much in the way of folklore, but good background information.

 The Ancient Irish Goddess of War
by WM Hennessey [1870]

 Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland
by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde [1887] [PB]
A volumnious collection of Irish folklore, including folk magic, not all of it authoritative.

 Myths and Folklore of Ireland
by Jeremiah Curtin [1890] [PB]

 Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts
by Patrick Kennedy [1891] [PB]
A huge collection of Irish folklore and legends, up through Christian times.

 The Aran Islands
by John M. Synge [1907] [PB]
A travelogue of the Aran Islands with beautiful woodcut illustrations.

 Celtic Wonder Tales
by Ella Young [1910] [PB]

 Beside the Fire
by Douglas Hyde [1910] [PB]
A scholarly collection of Irish folk stories.
The Preface of this book reviews many of the books included on this page.

 The Crock of Gold
by James Stephens [1912] [PB]
A novel based on Irish folklore.

 In Wicklow and West Kerry
by John M. Synge [1912] [PB]
A travelogue of rural Ireland at the turn of the 19th Century.

 Irish Witchcraft and Demonology
by St. John D. Seymour [1913].
This is a fascinating study of the witch-persecutions in Ireland, along with accounts of paranormal activity.

 True Irish Ghost Stories
by St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan [1914]
Bone-chilling tales of Irish ghosts, haunted houses, banshees, poltergeists, and more.

 The King of Ireland’s Son
by Padraic Colum [1916] [PB]

 The Druid Path
by Marah Ellis Ryan [1917]
A collection of short stories set in ancient and modern Ireland by an American author.

 The Candle of Vision
by AE (George William Russell) [1918]
Essays on Celtic mysticism.

 Irish Fairy Tales
by James Stephens [1920] [PB]
Irish lore retold by a master storyteller.

The Book of Kells
by Edward Sullivan [1920]
A description of the famous manuscript with detailed color plates.



 The Mabinogion
Lady Charlotte Guest, tr. [1877]
A group of Welsh tales from the Red Book of Hergest, a 14th Century manuscript maintained at Jesus College, Oxford.

 The Four Ancient Books of Wales
by William F. Skene [1868]
The only available translation of the complete corpus of Welsh Bardic poetry.

 Prolegomena to the Study of Old Welsh Poetry
by Edward Anwyl [1903]

 The Gododdin Poems
from The Four Ancient Books of Wales by William F. Skene [1868]

 British Goblins
by Wirt Sikes [1881] [PB]
Despite the title, this book is actually a study of Welsh fairy folklore.

 The Welsh Fairy Book
by W. Jenkyn Thomas [1907] [PB]
A collection of Welsh legends and folktales for young readers.

 Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx
By John Rhys [1900] [PB]

 The Barddas of Iolo Morganweg
A visionary reconstruction of the Druidic and Bardic tradition, which had a huge influence on the modern Celtic and neo-Pagan revival. Or a notorious forgery, you decide…
 The Barddas, Vol. I by Iolo Morganwg, edited by J. Williams Ab Ithel [1862]
 The Barddas, Vol. II by Iolo Morganwg, edited by J. Williams Ab Ithel [1874]


 Carmina Gadelica, by Alexander Carmicheal
Prayers, invocations, blessings and charms, in English and Gaelic, from the Western Isles of Scotland.
 Carmina Gadelica, Vol. I by Alexander Carmicheal [1900].
    Carmina Gadelica, Vol. II by Alexander Carmicheal [1900].

 Popular Tales of the West Highlands, by J. F. Campbell
A four-volume comprehensive sourcebook of Scottish folklore.
 Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Vol. I [1890]
    Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Vol. II [1890]
    Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Vol. III [1890]
    Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Vol. IV [1890]

The Feuds of the Clans
by Alexander MacGregor [1907]
The epic feuds of the Scottish Highlands.

 The Celtic Dragon Myth
by J. F. Campbell and George Henderson [1911]
The ur-myth of the struggle with the dragon, told in fine Celtic form with giants, mermaids and sidhe. (English and Gaelic)

 The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
by Francis James Child [18821898].
The motherlode of ballad collections, including many variations on each ballad.

 The Poems of Ossian
by James Macpherson [1773]

 Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales
by Sir George Douglas [1773]

 Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend by Donald Alexander Mackenzie [1917]
 Notes on the Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland
by Walter Gregor [1881]

 The Prophecies of the Brahan Seer
by Alexander Mackenzie, intro. by Andrew Lang [1899]
The tale of the famed Scottish clarivoyant and his amazing, and very specific, predictions.



 Legends and Romances of Brittany
by Lewis Spence [1917]

 Folk Tales of Brittany
by Elsie Masson [1929]


 Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, (Volume 1)
by William Bottrell [1870]
Tales of Cornish Giants, Mermaids, Witches and Fairies; an essential source for the folklore of Cornwall.

Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, (Volume 2)
by William Bottrell [1873]
The second volume in Bottrell’s collection of Cornish lore and legend.


 The Phynodderree and Other Legends of the Isle of Man
by Edward Callow [1882]

 The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man
by A.W. Moore [1891]
Classic Manx folklore

 Traces of the Norse Mythology in the Isle of Man
by P.M.C. Kermode [1904]


Celtic Fairies

These are texts and studies about Celtic fairies, elves, and other supernatural creatures (as opposed to fairytales, which are a different matter altogether). Some of the books listed here are listed elsewhere on this page.

 The Secret Common-Wealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies
By Robert Kirk, ‘Comment’ by Andrew Lang [1893]
This monograph, originally written in 1691, is a classic of Scottish fairy folklore.
This etext was scanned from a very rare first printing of the Lang edition.

 Fairy Legends and Traditions
by Thomas Crofton Croker [1825] [PB]

 A Peep at the Pixies
by Anna Eliza Bray; Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne [1854]. [PB]

 The Fairy Mythology
by Thomas Keightley [1870]. [PB]

 British Goblins
by Wirt Sikes [1881] [PB]
Despite the title, this book is actually a study of Welsh fairy folklore.

 The Phynodderree and Other Legends of the Isle of Man
by Edward Callow [1882]

 Tales of the Dartmoor Pixies
by William Crossing [1890]. [PB]

 The Science of Fairy Tales
by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1891]. [PB]

 Tales of Fairies and of the Ghost World
by Jeremiah Curtin [1895] [PB]

 The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries
by W.Y. Evans-Wentz [1911] [PB]
A serious study of Fairy folklore and mythology, with an ethnographic approach.
The first book by Evans-Wentz, who later went on to translate many of the books of Tibetean Buddhism.

by Gertrude M. Faulding [1913]. [PB]

 The Coming of the Fairies
by Arthur Conan Doyle [1922]
A study of the famous Cottingley fairy photographs, by the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

General Studies

 Survivals in Belief Among the Celts
by George Henderson [1911]
An extensive review of evidence of pre-Christian beliefs in Celtic culture.

 Celtic Myth and Legend
by Charles Squire [1905]
A comprehensive treatment of Irish, Welsh, and British mythology, from the ancient pagan pantheons up to the Arthurian legends.

 The Religion of the Ancient Celts
by J. A. MacCulloch [1911]
An in-depth study of the pre-Christian Celtic religion.

 Celtic Fairy Tales
by Joseph Jacobs [1892] [PB]

 More Celtic Fairy Tales
by Joseph Jacobs [1894] [PB]

 Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race
by Thomas Rolleston [1911] [PB]
A recounting of the Irish Mythological Chronicles

 On the Study of Celtic Literature
by Matthew Arnold [1867] [PB]

 A Book of Folklore
by Sabine Baring-Gould [1913] [PB]

 Tom Tit Tot, An Essay on Savage Philosophy in Folk-Tale
by Edward Clodd [1898] [PB]


CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts [External Site] is a scholarly and very comprehensive archive of Celtic texts.