IRISH FAIRY TALES
M. H. Gill & Son, Ltd.,
|Princess Finola and the Dwarf,
|The House in the Lake,
|The Little White Cat,
|The Golden Spears,
|The Fairy Tree of Dooros,
|The Enchanted Cave,
|The Huntsman’s Son,
The author of the tales contained in this volume was one of the brightest and most poetic spirits who have appeared in Ireland in the last half century. It is needless to say that he was also one of the most patriotic Irishmen of his generation––patriotic in the highest and widest sense of that term, loving with an ardent love his country, its people, its historic traditions, its hills and plains, its lakes and streams, its raths and mounds. Like all men of his type, he lived largely in the past, and his fancy revelled much in fairy scenes of childhood and youth.
The distractions of political life, into which he entered with characteristic enthusiasm, prevented Edmund Leamy from cultivating his favourite field of literature with that assiduity and sustained application necessary for the purpose of bringing viii out the really great intellectual powers with which he was endowed; otherwise, he would certainly have left to Ireland a large body of literature which would have been the delight of old and young. But in this volume he has given at least an indication of what he was capable of doing towards that end. No one can read these pages without feeling the charm of a fine and delicate fancy, a rare power of poetic expression, and a genuinely Irish instinct; without feeling also an intense regret that the mind and heart from which they proceeded were stilled in death long before the powers of his genius could have been exhausted.
To myself, as one of the most intimate friends of Edmund Leamy, it is a melancholy pleasure to have the privilege of writing these few words of introduction to a volume which, for the purpose of preserving his memory amongst his countrymen, needs no introduction at all. The claims of a long friendship, the knowledge of as stainless a life as has ever been lived, and admiration for moral and intellectual endowments of the rarest character, render it easy to praise. But I do not think that I indulge in undue expectation in predicting ix that the new audience to which this volume will come will rise from its perusal with something of the feelings of love, admiration, and regret which those who knew Edmund Leamy personally will ever cherish in their hearts.
J. E. REDMOND.
Dublin, June 2nd, 1906.
When the friends of the late Edmund Leamy were considering ways of honouring his memory they agreed that one way should be to republish this little book of Irish fairy tales. They knew that nothing would have been more grateful to himself, and that, in a manner, it would be an act of justice to his remarkable gifts. It would introduce a characteristic specimen of Leamy’s work to a race of readers who have appeared since it was written and who ought to be in a mood more appreciative of such literature than the mood which prevailed in that day. For the book has long been out of print. These “Irish Fairy Tales” were written, and printed on Irish paper, and published through an Irish publisher––Leamy would not bring out a book in any other way––before the Celtic renaissance had arrived. This is one of the facts which make them interesting. Perhaps, as some would tell us, seventeen years ago was a benighted time; at any rate we must admit it was rather dark from an Irish literary, or even “Irish xii Ireland,” point of view. It was before the Gaelic movement, and before we had such things as “intellectuals” and the “economic man,” or even the Irish Literary Theatre. Leamy’s gentle and loyal soul could have taken no influence from the asperity of some of the intervening ferment, “Parliamentarian” though he was. Had the impulse to write this volume come to him in this later period he would only have drawn from the time the nourishment which the atmosphere of sympathy always brings to the artist. But the impulse came to him before this period, in an atmosphere which held little that could nourish the