Did you know that in Ireland, in 1999 a ‘sacred’ bush in Co Clare was protected after it was deemed to be the abode of fairies? And that the plans for a motorway bypass had been worked upon or modified in such a way that the bush wouldn’t be destroyed?
There are also many caves across Ireland where, as the story goes, the tragic lovers Diarmuid and Grainne sought shelter in, and hid. And one of these caves is in the Gleniff Horseshoe, which itself is a place full of magic and breath-taking beauty. (According to legend, after Diarmuid and Grainne made their escape, they never slept in the same cave for more than a night. Another version of the legend says that in the shadow of the majestic Ben Bulben/Benbulbin mountain, Diarmuid dies in Grainne’s arms.) When we visited Gleniff, I immediately felt the place come alive with a thousand stories, and I imagined what it must have looked like in Diarmuid and Grainne’s time.
The world around us is full of such stories. No matter where we travel to – each region has a rich repertoire of folklores and fairy tales. And that is why this blog on World Folklore Day, which falls on 22nd August every year.
If you are like me, you will always have a ear on the ground, and a little notepad by your side so that these fascinating stories don’t escape! I love folklores and fairy tales – whether they are told over a bonfire or under the shade of a tree, or chased in libraries, bookstores and walking tours around historical places.
In fact, I have made a habit of picking up a book or two whenever I am travelling. Most of these are illustrated, and apparently meant for children, but who doesn’t like a good story?
So from Ireland (which is where we reside since the past three or so years), I have a hardbound copy of Edna O’Brien’s Tales For The Telling – Irish Folk & Fairy Tales. It is most beautifully illustrated by Michael Foreman, and I have spent many pleasant days and nights leafing through the book, and immersing myself in the world of Irish folklore.
From the United Kingdom, I picked up a copy of Fairy Tales by Miles Kelly, and this collection has stories from different authors like J M Barrie, Joseph Jacobs, E Nesbit and many others. My favourite story from the collection is called Sweet-one-darling and the Dream-fairies by Eugene Field.
From Turkey, I picked up a copy of The Best Anecdotes of Nasreddin Hoca. In fact, the bazaar where I bought the book in Istanbul was brimming with such characters (and cats) that I still distinctly remember that beautiful afternoon. It is called the Old Book Market or Bazaar and is very close to the popular Grand Bazaar. I would definitely recommend you to visit the place if you are ever in Istanbul.
From Stockholm, Sweden, I bought Elsa Beskow’s Woody, Hazel and Little Pip, as well as Children of the Forest. Though I have never been to Russia, I have copies of Russian folk tales at my bookshelf in India. These were a gift whilst I was growing up and introduced me to the world of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the brave.
Then of course, there are folklores that are always passed on by the oral tradition of storytelling, and you may never find them in a book. I absolutely love those as well, and that is why conversations with local people, guardians of forts and palaces, tea shop owners, and even people that you find at a pitstop or a pub are all good sources for letting you in in the folklores of the region.
Happy Folklore day people, and do let me know if you have a folklore or two to share, or if you have visited a place that was full of folklores and legends!