Fairies, Púca & New Year’s Eve: An 1860s Irish Folktale for Irish-Americans

Irish in the American Civil War

Tales of mythological creatures like fairies and púca remained popular in Ireland well into the 20th century. Many 19th century Irish emigrants carried a strong tradition of these stories with them to the United States. Traditional storytellers, the seanchaidhthekept these legends alive in the community, and many Irish-Americans remained eager to hear them even after their arrival in their new home. Evidence for this can be readily found in contemporary writings, such as the stories published in diaspora newspapers like the New York Irish-American Weekly. To give a flavour of both this tradition of storytelling and one of the ways they could be transmitted, this post reproduces one of these stories, first printed in 1864. It would have been widely read and retold throughout the Irish-American community in the United States, including among Irish soldiers in Union camps as they prepared for the dreadful summer campaigns of that year. 

The tradition…

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