Folktales study by Alfred Nutt
In 1910 Dr Alfred Nutt wrote a postcript to the Introduction of Douglas Hyde 'Beside the Fire' collection of Irish folklore which introduced a deeper meaning to the peasant lore then mere imaginative concoction in that the professor was able to disect the forms of stories into 3 distinct types.
1. Being stories of a prior divinity being in communication with mankind and desiring devine desires from the earth beings.
These godlike desires usaully revolving around a unity of form with mankind [sex and its new creation] and an ambrosiaic pleasant life.
An era of shape changing and aid to helpless hapless mankind where the god figure can often be outwitten by mere mortals even though they are wise and strong.
The mortal wants to secure the aid of the supernatural personified and has a relationship with the devine similar to the faery to the peasant.
A 1,200 year alliance of the supernatural being helping mortal man.
The supernatural forces are powerless without the cooperation of mortals and this is their Nemesis.
The inevitabilty fatalizm of them both is accepted.
Mankind must depend on the supernatural and the supernatural forces or beings are powerless without mankind.
An ideal of Animisim prevails in these early divinity stories as do forces.
There is a life force connection to all, not only human.
Each is a part of the greater unified interdependent whole beyond mankind alone.
These characterized by Fate as it applies to them.
Nutt defines types of stories as being in 3 catagories,
optomisic= nursery rymes
where the prince and the princess marry and live happily ever after
hero tales which present a hero and a villien.
All usually tragic in there endings with the death of young heros
'What the gods love die young.'
The 3 great hero tales explore the lives of semi gods and sons of gods as are expressed in Greek,Teutonic and Celtic lore
Zeus [Sky] confounds the Titan
Apollo [ap o llo] kills the Python [Pit ton]
Lug overpowers Balor
Indra outsmarts Vrilra
The Teuton and Iran myth expresess the power of good vs evil and express the final conflict 'Anses' as does Chirsitain/Jew and Muslim
and continues this through the end of time.
All the Hero sagas express tragedy.
All express magic and other world wonderland of gods, faery.
Old king are in being and when heros come to us they are liable to death and
This is the price they must pay to be in the neither world of Earth life.
The great Hero sagas are;
Cuchulain and Ferdiad
The faery tales are,
'Once upon a time' stories at times based on the actions of real persons in a distant unrevealed time no longer understood.
These too divide into the catagories of optomistic, human and tragic.
Such as the Gabhra ,Diarmaid of the Finn cycle.
The faerytale analogs to the life of the sacred tree.
The myth ,the epos, the fairy.
The tree is rooted in the soil and the decaying leaves mingle with the soil and earth and return in substance to the root of the tree to nurture it and keep it alive.
The wooden house likewise decays and mingles with the soil,
the earth ,but the brick or stone house leaves fragments and can be found.
The anology to the Cosmos .
All is connected. the space, the time, the forces, the animal the mortal and the gods of desire.
The tales also express a human to human realationsip as in
The king of Ireland son,
and in the Rooney storys.
The folk of Ireland are immemorially conservative in formula, structures of Fate and Nature and the Heredity.
They observe Faith, Sympathetic magic and ritual in all their stories From the old magic divinity powered tales to the hero sagas to the Faery relationship and the human to human relationships and these stuctures passed down from seanache to seanache for centures without the slightest deviation of tales or structure.
In reading Dr Nutts incisive postcript to the Hyde introduction to folklore tales and his classifcations anyalisis of the relaltionship of death to life ,
The breath crossing becoming the death and reabsorbtion.
The new life as expressed in the Cosmos and the great religions.
The ethos of Brahamin and Muslim Fate and Christain/Jewdeo renewal.
All ties into the old devine and fairy stories as told in the folklore by the long respected characters.
Some copied into the written form by the ollams and filia, the two dual records of the written and read corresponding to the oral folk remembrance passed down generation to generation from time immemorail connecting mankind and animal life to cosmic life.
Hero stories , fairy stories, divine stories, other world person stories, all being connected to Cosmic and Being stories.
The story of life and death and Fate.
The Irish dictionary of today provides us with no word for Fate.
Fath in Irish gaelic means reason or cause or motive.
A Fathach is a giant, like a titan.
A fathsceal is a parable or a legend
The stuff of folklore.
The English equivilant of Fate is cinn iuach or dan which means Fate or fatal.
A deadly blow.
a cinn is to devide or determine and additionaly plural use of ceann the head, many heads.
The only use of 'uach' in Irish is Uacht meaning testiment or will giving 'cenn i uach' meaning as the many headed testiment or will,
or the upper head .
Dan is interpreted as meaning a poem interpreting fate to be a poem or destiny.
Reviving into word an old meaning in the gaelic of a consept.
Modern Irish recongises 'f' the symbol as 'Fat' and eclipes itself.
So we define it as Fa, Fe, Fi ,Fo ,Fum ,of the fili and the dru.
The river of life and the close of the druid ,a verb
li the color and fe the fathom.
The color of the Fathom. A rainbow.
Dr Hyde is his introcution sadly points out the loss of the gaelic Irish where in 1847, 4 million spoke this tongue as their native mothers milk birth language and by 1849 in the holocast of the Great Famine the spoken Irish was nearly extinct.
He relates to us the mean art of the Shanache from Shawn Cunningham [Seagan O Cuineagain]
on the border of Roscomain and Mayo where he had never spoken English till 15 years of age.
He had been taught his lessons from a south Irish schoolmaster at a Hedge school who drilled him to memorize the Irish MS poems.
When a new schoolmaster was assigned a stick was placed about his neck to be marked whenever an Irish word slipped from his lips and notch was made when a child failed to speak English.
By these notches on the stick he was beaten and beaten again every time he was heard to speak his birth tongue, Irish ,regardless of his lack of Knowelege of English.
This Pavlovain beating devise was used all over Munster and Connacht to kill the Irish tongue and continued under the days of O Connell the Great Emancipator of Ireland whose statue stands over the north Liffy on O Connell St; and the Catholic priesthood and parlmiamentarians whose members also drove the Irish teachers out of their diocese and burned their Irish books.
The Irish thus acquired a fear and shame for speaking or understanding their native tongue and a stanger today is stil looked upon as a bible thumping Englishman in trying to speak a few Irish words.
Irish nationalist fell into a conformity with this assimalation by force doctrine and advised the Irish native that did not already know Irish to leave it alone.
And thus the great history written and oral of this island nation passed into confetti and oblivian.
Sold for pence to second hand book dealers and disperced like hedge fund packaged mortages, to the far corners of the earth.
America, Canada, Australia, New Zeland.
Gone to the four winds, the gaoth ceat, and lost to the Irish and the world forever.
In todays modern world of communications the folktale and the story are no longer recited or dramatised or sung as in the days when no electronic gagetry existed.
The populous will not sit still for them and go out rather than hear the literary works of their own ancestors and the past.
They would rather listen to the Geimneac na mbo and hence the misty past settles into a nonexistant being ,unknown and unfathomed by its own decendants.
copyrigth 24 March 2011
sourse: Beside the Fire, Douglas Hyde, Irish Academic Press,
1978, from the London 1910 edition.
Republic of Ireland