Celtic Mythology and Folklore


By Tammy Trail

Greek and Roman Mythology never really made much of an impression on me. I know in some schools its part of a general curriculum to learn about Zeus and the many exploits of the dysfunctional celestial beings. It’s just my opinion, but they all seemed like mean, nasty “gods” and the poor humans were put in their charge to see how much we would take from them before we got angry.

Now I am not an expert by any shape of the imagination when it comes to knowing about Celtic folklore.  I find most of them make more sense to me then some. Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are mostly surrounded by water, so it seems perfectly normal for a sea deity by the name of Manannan mac Lir to exist in Irish Mythology. This king of the sea is fabled to escort those who have passed from this world to go into the “Other world”. He would be offered bundles of reeds, meadow grasses, and yellow flowers in a ritual accompanied by prayer for his aid and protection in fishing. He is also known to cover a person or place in a protective “mist” against a known enemy.

Then there are the really interesting tales of Fairies. These wee creatures are known in two different classes. Those who fly, and the others who roam on the ground. They can be benevolent, or not so much so in that they do love to stir up trouble when vexed. My favorite is the “Brownie”, oh how I wish I had one! Brownies are house elves. They wait until the household is asleep, and during the night they tidy up the messes made by the family. I can see myself jumping out of bed with more pep in my step if I knew there was a clean house to wake up to that’s for sure!fairy


Pooka’s are shape shifting fairies. They can also be benevolent or malevolent. Remember the Jimmy Stewart movie called “Harvey”? Well the big white rabbit was a Pooka. He liked Jimmy Stewart well enough, but I think he must have like to play practical jokes on the rest of the people. That’s one of my favorite childhood movies. A classic.

Banshee means “fairy woman”. She foretells the death of a member of a household. She does not cause their death,  but cries and wails as if in mourning. Some say she is an old hag, while other stories tell of a young woman with long blonde hair in a white dress is the Banshee. Whatever form she comes in, I’m very glad I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her.

The most commonly known Fairy is the Leprechaun. We see him frequently during the month of March during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. He likes to play practical jokes on gullible humans, and invade our breakfast cereal. You know….Lucky Charms!  He likes to tempt us with pots of gold at the end of rainbows too.

In most old civilizations, you will find stories of some sort of spirits that aid a warrior in battle through protection or valor. Whether it’s tale originates in Greece, Rome, Norway, or Ireland, people were looking for an explanation for the trials of life, the tragedy of death, or just a reason for everyday hurts. Thus a benevolent, unseen spirit would walk through it with them until they heard the message of a real God who would give them a purpose for living, triumph over death, and a hope for the future. Thank you, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.



2 thoughts on “Celtic Mythology and Folklore

  1. Tammy — you took me back to my childhood, watching a couple of my favorite Disney movies — “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” (with a PRE-007 Sean Connery!) and “The Gnome-Mobile” with one of my favorite actors playing a double role: Walter Brennan.

  2. Thanks Don. Those are also two movies that take me back to childhood as well. Sunday nights at my Grandma’s were spent watching Disney and eating Jiffy Pop Popcorn! lol

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