T[homas] Crofton Croker, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1825; 1826; 1834; 1828, &c.)

[ This page lists the main editions of Croker’s Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland - the first series of which was published by John Murray in 1825, to be followed by a second edition of the same in 1826 and, within the same year, a two-volume edition containing Part I & II - but also Part III, which shared the scond volume with Part II and was devoted to the fairy lore of Wales.

In 1834 Murray issued a selected edition of the Fairy Legends [... &c.] in one volume - containing 40 of the original 50 tales on Irish fairy lore. The third part, devoted to Wales, was entirely omitted from this printing. A new edition was published in concert with Thomas Tegg in 1838. This edition is properly called the Second Edition and must not be confused with the second edition of Part I, originally published in 1825 and reissued in 1826.

In 1859, Tegg alone published a new edition - Croker have died the year before. This was substantially the same in content as that of 1838 but was edited by Croker’s Blackwood’s confrère Thomas Wright and contained a biographical Memoir of Croker by his son, Thomas Francis Dillon Croker, and illustrations by Daniel Maclise. This edition was subsequently reprinted up to 1912 (by George Allen) and afterwards reprinted in facsimile by several publishers (e.g., Lemma 1971, and Collins 1998.) ]


The main editions:
  • Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, Part II [floral design] (London: John Murray MDCCCXXVIII [1828]), v-x [Preface], 327pp. (See details, infra.)
being Part II of the 1st Series;
  • Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland [3 vols. in 1 - i.e., Vols. 1 & 2 of orig. 3-vol. ser.] (London: John Murray MDCCCXXXIV [1834]), [iii]-iv, 344pp. (See details, infra.)
being the 1st edition in 1 vol.
  • Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland / Second Edition (London: John Murray, Albemerle Street; and Thomas Tegg & Son, Cheapside. MDCCCXXXVIII [1838]), [iii]-iv [Preface], 344pp. (See details, infra.)

Bibliographical Remarks: According to J. F. D. Croker, in his “Memoir” prefixed to the 1859 “new edition”, the first volume of the work appeared anonymously in 1825 and produced the complimentary letter from Sir Walter Scott afterwards attached to subsequent editions. A second edition in the following year [1826] occasioned by the success of the first, appeared with additional engravings after sketches by Daniel Maclise. This was followed by a 2nd and 3rd series (i.e., Parts 2 & 3) in 1827 [sic JFDC, but recte 1828]. Of the third part, he says: ‘though it appeared under the same title, namely “Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland” [it] may be considered as forming a separate work, inasmuch as it comprised the fairy superstitions of Wales and other countries, in addition to those current in Ireland.’ [1]

In so saying, he merely reiterates the author’s own remarks in a first edition of the full series (Pts. I, 2 & 3) which was also issued in 1828. In the Preface to Part II of this two-volume publication - of which Parts II & III occupy the second volume - Croker speaks of Part III as a being ‘separate work’ which concerned itself not with Irish fairy lore but with the ‘fairy superstitions [...] of Wales and other countries’, which he hoped would be considered ‘illustrative’ of the species found in Ireland. In the preface of the 1826 reprint edition, he had already heralded the third series with remark to the effect that the Welsh material would be included under the same title (i.e., Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland) as ‘affording additional proof that the fairy creed must have been a completed and connected system.’

In 1834 John Murray issued a new edition of Croker’s Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland in one volume, abbreviating the 3-part series by reducing the number of Irish stories from fifty stories to forty - as Croker explains in a 2-page preface - and by eliminating the contents of the third series entirely, a self-evident fact that Croker does not mention in his preface. Therein he also tells us that he has shortened the original by eliminating ‘all superfluous annotations’ while substituted ‘a brief summary [...] explanatory of the classification adopted’ at the end of each section. In all of this, he asserts, ‘nothing which illustrates in the slightest degree the popular Fairy Creed of Ireland has been sacrificed’ (Preface, p.2.) [On Croker’s annotations, see note, infra.]

It follows that the national integrity of the Irish stories proved to be their selling point with Murray, leaving the more ambitious scope of the third volume as a testimony to Croker’s belief in a wider folklore ‘system’ and his relations with such international folklore scholars as, most notably, the Brothers Grimm with whom he corresponded (and whose “Essay” affixed to their 1826 translation of his first series as Irische Elfenmärchen (1826). The volume contains a letter from Sir Walter to the author in response to the first volume (i.e., 1825) which was earlier prefixed to the 2nd edition of 1826 and here printed as an appendix. In it Scott confirms the similarity of Irish and Scottish folklore though owning the Banshee to be uniquely Irish.

1] T. F. D. Croker, “Memoir”, in Fairy Legends and Traditions ... &c., by T. C. Croker, 1859 Edn., p.vii; available online; accessed 22.12.2011) Note also that T. F. D. Croker expressly states that “Barney Mahoney” and “Our Village” are not by T. C. Croker but by Mrs. [Marianne] Croker, contrary to the prevalent idea - then and afterwards. See, for instance, Henry Morley’s introduction to Popular Songs of Ireland (1886 Edn.) where he writes: ‘In 1832 followed “Barney Mahoney” and “Our Village” [...]’ (p.6.) In view of its special interest as an example of Anglo-Irish literary transactions, the full text of Barney Mahoney (2nd edn. 1832) has been copied on this website. (See RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics” > Croker > Barney Mahoney - via index or direct.

[ top ];Bibliographical details
Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, Part II (London: John Murray MDCCCXXVIII [1828]), v-x [Preface], 327pp.; ded.: “To Sir Walter Scott, Bart., This Volume is Inscribed, in Admiration of his Genius, and Gratitude for his Kindness, by T. Crofton Croker.” Printed in London by Thomas Davison, Whitefrairs [t.p. verso]. The Etchings by, and Wood engravings after the drawings of W. H. Brooke, F.S.A. [ded. verso.] CONTENTS:

[Sections:] The Merrow; The Dullahan; The Fir Darrig; Treasure Legends; Rocks and Stones [i.e., Pt. II, continuing on from Pt. I - with constituent stories in each thus-named section]. Full-page plates incl. facing t.p.: ‘What’s your name, my darling,” says Dick.’ (Note: the sprig on t.p. of this edn. appears at the end of “The Brewery of the Egg-Shells” in Fairy Legends, ... &c., Murray 1834 Edn., p.32.) ;Notes: Each title-section, signifying a class of narrative, has its own t.p. with blank verso and corresponding page-count - i.e., “The Merrow” [Pt. II, Sect 1; Fairy Legends, 1828, p.1], of which the first story is “The Lady of Gollerus” (pp.3-20) - as given in Table of Contents, infra. The text includes verse passages in Gaelic fonts, especially for songs, and Greek fonts occasional used in the annotations at the end of stories where comparable narratives or motifs in other literatures are cited. See also full-page plate facing the title-page and and another between pp.206-07 [facing p.207], &c.

Fairy Legends [... &c.], Pt. II (1828) - Contents

The Merrow
The Lady of Gollerus [3]
Flory Cantillon’s Funeral [21]
The Soul Cages [30]
The Lord of Dunkerron [59]
The Wonderful Tune [196]

The Dullahan
The Good Woman [85]
Hanlon’s Mill [103]
The Harvest Coach [112]
The Death Coach (Ballad) [133]
The Headless Horseman [138]

The Fir Darrig
Diarmid Bawn, the Piper [156]
Teigue of the Lee [164]

Ned Sheehy’s Excuse [178]
The Lucky Guest [203]

Treasure Legends
Dreaming Tim Jarvis [287]
Rent Day [298]
Scath-a-Legaune [244]
Linna-na-Payshtha [303]

Rocks and Stones
The Legend of Cairn Thierna [275]
The Rock of the Candle [280]
Clough-na-Cuddy [286]
Barney of Carn Thierna [303]
The Giant’s Stairs [315]

T.p. [none]
Fairy Legends / The Merrow: “The mysterious depths and wild and wond’rous forms of ocean old.” The Conchologist. (p.1.)
Fairy Legends / The Dullahan: - “Men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders.” Shakespeare. / “Says the Frair, ’tis strange headless horses should trot” Old Song. (p.83)
Fairy Legends / The Fir Darrig: ‘When’er such wanderers I meete, / As from their night-sports they trudge home, / With counterfeiting voices I greete, / And call them on, with me to roame / Through woods, through lakes, / Through bogs, through brakes; / Or else, unseene, with them I go, / All the nicke, / To play some tricke, / And frolicke it, with ho! ho! ho!’ Old Song
Fairy Legends / Treasure Legends: ‘Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back / When gold and silver becks me to come on.’ King John. ‘This is fairy gold, boy, and ’twill prove so.’ The Winter’s Tale.
Fairy Legends / Rocks and Stones: “Forms in silence frown’d, / shapeless and nameless; and to mine eye / Sometimes they rolled off cloudily, / Wedding themselves with gloom - or grew / Gigantic to my troubled view, / And seemed to gather round me.” Banim’s Celt’s Paradise.
See Preface under Quotations, infra.

[ top ];Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland [3 vols. in 1 - i.e., Vols. 1 & 2 of orig. 3-vol. ser.] (London: John Murray MDCCCXXXIV [1834]), [iii]-iv [Preface], 344pp.; Epigraph [t.p.]: ‘Come l’araba Fenice / Che si cia, ognun lo dice; / Dove sia, nessun lo-sa.’ - Metastasio [see note, infra]. The wood engravings after Designs by Mr. Brooke, R.H.A., Mr. M’Clise, and the AUTHOR. Ded. verses to Dowager Lady Chatterton [of] Castle Mahon [as infra], signed in engraved autograph-style: T. Crofton Croker; printed by A[ndrew] Spottiswoode, London.] Given on printed cover as The Family Library, No. XLVII/47 Price Five Shillings. (See Contents and extracts, attached.)

Contents [v-vi]

The Shefro
I. The legend of Knocksheogowna [3]
II. The Legend of Knockfierna [9]
III. The Legend of Knockgrafton [14]
IV. The Priest’s Supper [22]
V. The Brewery of Egg-shells [38]
VI. Legend of Bottle Hill [33]
VII. The Confessions of Tom Bourke [46]
VIII. Fairies or No Fairies [65]
  Notes on the section [72]

The Cluricaune
IX. The Haunted Cellar [75]
X. Master and Man [85]
XI. The Little Shoe [94]
  Notes on the section [96]

The Banshee
XII. The Bunworth Banshee [99]
XIII. The M’Carthy Banshee [105]
  Notes on the section [126]

The Phooka
XIV. The Spirit Horse [129]
XV. Daniel O’Rourke [134]
XVI The Crookened Back [145]
  Notes on the section [153]

Thierna na Oge
XVII. Fior Usga [155]
XVIII. Cormac and Mary (Ballad) [16]
XIX The Legend of Lough Gur [163]
XX. The Enchanted Lake [166]
XXI. The Legend of O’Donoghue [171];
  Notes on the section [174]

The Merrow
XXII. The Lady of Gollerus [177]
XXIII. Flory Cantillon’s Funeral [186]
XXIV. The Lord of Dunkerron (Ballad) [193]
XXV. The Wonderful Tune [196]
Notes on the section [206]

The Dullahan
XXVI. The Good Woman [209]
XXVII. Hanlon’s Mill [220]
XXVIII. The Death Coach (Ballad) [226]
XXIX. The Headless Horseman [229]
  Notes on the section [240]

The Fir Darrig
XXX. Diarmid Bawn, the Piper [243]
XXXI. Teigue of the Lee [249]
XXXII. Ned Sheehy’s Excuse [258]
XXXIII. The Lucky Guest [274
  Notes on the section [284]

Treasure Legends
XXXIV. Dreaming Tim Jarvis [287]
XXXV. Rent Day [298]
XXXVI. Linna-na-Payshtha [303]
  Notes on the section [310]

Rocks and Stones
XXXVII. The Legend of Cairn Thierna [313]
XXXVIII. The Rock of the Candle [317]
XXXIX. Clough-na-Cuddy [321]
XL. The Giant’s Stairs [333]
  [No Section Notes]

[Dedication, p.vi:]
                             “To the Dowager Lady Chatterton / Castle Mahon”
                             Thee, Lady, would I lead through Fairy-land
                             (When cold and doubting reasoners are exiled),
                             A land of dreams, with air-built castles piled;
                             The moonlight SHEFROS there, in merry band
                             With artful CLURICAUNE, should ready stand
                             To welcome thee - Imagination’s child!
                             Till on thy ear would burst so sadly wild
                             The BANSHEE’s shriek, who points her wither’d hand.
                             In the dim twilight the PHOOKA come,
                             Whose dusky form fades in the sunny light,
                             That opens clear calm LAKES upon they sight,
                             Where blessed spirits dwell in endless bloom.
                             I know thee, Lady - thou wilt not deride
                             Such Fairy Scenes. - Then onward with they Guide.
[signed:] T. Crofton Croker
[On the recipient of the Dedication, see note - infra.]

The erudite Lessing styles a preface “the history of a book.” Now, though there can be no necessity for a preface in that sense of the word to the reprint of a work of mere whim, which has been nearly ten years before the public, yet a few words are requisite to prevent the present condensed and revised edition from being considered an abridgement. However compact may be the mode of printing adopted, the act of compressing into one volume the three in which the “Fairy Legends” originally appeared, involved to a certain extent the necessity of selection, perhaps the most difficult of all tasks judiciously to perform; but the following statement will show the system proceeded on. Forty tales descriptive of Irish superstitions now appear instead of fifty. All superfluous annotations have been struck out, and a brief summary at the end of each section substituted, explanatory [iii] of the classification adopted, and which a few additional notes have been introduced, as well as upon the text. It is therefore hoped that this curtailment will be regarded as an essential improvement; some useless repetition in the tales being thereby avoided, and much irrelevant matter in the notes dispensed with, although nothing which illustrates in the slightest degree the popular Fairy Creed of Ireland has been sacrificed. At the same time, the omission of a portion of the ten immaterial tales will sufficiently answer donhts idly raised as to the question of authorship.’ (pp.[iii]-iv; end.] (Note: This preface is printed in both the 1834 and 1838 editions.)


Note: The Shefro is prefaced with an epigraph from Milton: “Fairy elves / Whose midnight revels, by a forest side / Or fountain, some belated peasant sees, / Or dreams he sees, while over-head the Moon, / Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth, / Wheels her pale course” -

Concluding verses (1834, 1838 Edns., p.341.)

                             And now farewell! the fairy dream is o’er;
                             The tales my infancy had loved tohear,
                             Like blissful visions, fade and disappear.
                             Such tales Momonia’s peasants tell no more!
                             Vanished are MERMAIDS from her sea-beat shore;
                             Check’d is the HEADLESS HORSEMAN’S strange career;
                             FIR DARRIG’S voice no longer mocks the ear,
                             Nor ROCKS bear wondrous imprints as of yore!
                             Such is “the march of mind.” But did the fays
                             (Creatures of whim - the gossamer of will)
                             In Ireland work such sorrow and such ill
                             As stormier spirits of our modern days?
                             Oh land beloved! no angry voice I raise;
                             My constant prayer - “May peace be with the still!”

Appendix - Letter from Sir Walter Scott [dated 27th April 1825 / Abbotsford, Melrose (pp.342-44)

[ top ];Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland / Second Edition (London: John Murray, Albemerle Street; and Thomas Tegg & Son, Cheapside. MDCCCXXXVIII [1838]), [iii]-iv [Preface], 344pp.; ‘Come l’araba Fenice / Che si cia, ognun lo dice; / Dove sia, nessun lo-sa.’ - Metastasio, and with ded. verses to Dowager Lady Chatterton [of] Castle Mahon. signed in autograph-style: T. Crofton Croker; concluding verses [p.341], with a letter from Sir Walter Scott as Appendix, pp.342-44; printed by Bradbury & Evans, Whiteside; final page.] (Contents identical to those of 1834 edition as supra.)

[ top ]

Metastasio?: - The epigraph of Fairy Legends and Traditions [1835-28] (1834 Edn.) - “Come l’araba Fenice / Che si cia, ognun lo dice; / Dove sia, nessun lo-sa” - is therein attributed to Metastasio. However, his verses, here quoted, were also taken up by Lorenzo Da Ponte in his libretto for Mozart’s Don Giovanni, as follows: ‘E’ la fede degli amanti / Come l’araba fenice: / che vi sia, ciascun lo dice; / dove sia, nessun lo sa. // Se tu sai dov’ha ricetto, / dove muore e torna in vita, / me l’addita, e ti prometto / di serbar la fedeltà’. (See Commentary at L’autore: Da ‘Ponte rubò a Metastasio la prima quartina di un’arietta che il Così fan tutte renderà universale’ [online: - acccessed 21.12.2011.]

[ top ];Superfluous?: Croker tells us, in his Preface to Fairy Legends ... &c.] (1834 Edn.): ‘all superfluous annotations’ in the earlier series (1825-28) have been eliminated, and that ‘a brief summary ... explanatory of the classification adopted’ has been substituted at the end of each section; but see the lengthy note on the first page of the second ‘legend’ which takes the form of the 14-line quotation explaining the naming of Knock Doinne Firinne [i.e., mountains of Donn of the Truth], here attributed to Edward O’Reilly. Besides attesting to the authenticity of Irish-place names - just as a one-line note appended to the first story - i.e., “The Legend of Knocksheogowna”) similarly explains the meaning of that place name [“The Hill of the Fairy Calf”, p.8, n.) - there is evidence here of the beginnings of a latter-day reverence for the Gaelic dinnsenchas which served Seamus Heaney as a point of departure for his theory of ‘Sense of Place’ in Irish writing in his 1977 lecture of that name. Similarily, many of the subsequent stories are attended by a short note at some point or other - e.g., “The Legend of Knockgrafton” where the sobriquet of the central character, Lushmore, is explained in a footnote that simply notifies us simply that Gl. lushmore [lus mor] is a ‘the great herb - digitalis purpurea’. In large part, the function of the footnote is to convey the idea that the botanical lore of the poor man of Aherlow at the centre of the story is a folkloric counterpart of a form of knowledge classified by science in the Linnean taxonomic system - thus conferring on it the prestige of an intuitive, yet essentially accurate, system of natural science. [BS]

[ top ]

Chattertons/Castle Mahon
The Chatterton baronetcy at Castle Mahon, Co. Cork, was created in 3rd Aug. 1801 for James Chatterton (d.1806) - i.e., a Union peerage, to judge by the date. Sir James was shortly succeeded by Sir William Abraham Chatterton (1794-1855), and then by Sir James Charles Chatterton (1794-1874). Sir James was sometime MP for Cork (1849-52) and Sherriff of Cork in 1851. The title became extinct at his death. (See Wikipedia > Chatterton Baronets - online; accessed 02.01.2012.)
Lady Chatteron in Croker’s dedication is designated Dowager, and was therefore the widow of the 1st Baron Chatterton (d.1806) since, at the date of publication the better-known Lady Georgiana Chatterton (1806-1876; née Henrietta Georgiana Marcia Lascelles Iremonger) had just married William Abraham Chatterton, his son - as she did on 3rd Aug. 1824. Georgina Chatterton was a lady novelist, in which capacity the object of a scathing review by George Eliot in the Westminster Review on publication of her novel Compensation in 1856.
She wrote one book which is manifestly about Ireland and to this she gave a title reminiscent of T. Crofton’s Croker’s celebrated Researches in the South of Ireland (1824) - coincidentally published in the year of her marriage. The work in question was called Rambles in the South of Ireland (1839) and was privately printed for the author unlike sundry of her other works.
Georgina Chatterton was the daughter of Rev. Lascelles Iremonger, prependary at Winchester. During the early days of her marriage, she and her husband experienced financial difficulties in Ireland and lived more frugallymoved in Dorset and afterwards at Rolls Park in Essex, from 1852. Lady Chatterton married Edward Heneage Dering four years after the death of Sir William (that is, in 1859). In 1867 the Derings settled at Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire, forming what has been called a menage-à-quatre with the owner of the property, Marmion Edward Ferrers and his wife Rebecca, who was Georgiana’s niece.
Georgiana converted to the Catholicism a year before her death, following the example of her second husband who commemorated her life in a biography (E. H. Dering, Memoirs of Georgiana, Lady Chatterton, 1878). She herself issued numerous romantic novels and some biographical and travel works. The first, appearing anonymously, was Aunt Dorothy’s Tales (1837), after which she used the name Georgiana Chatterton for all her work.
Her style has been described as “uniformly unmemorable” and on her death “her financial position seems to have affected neither the quantity nor the type of her writing” (DNB). Her work was the subject of a scathing review by George Eliot under the title “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” in the Westminster Review:

‘There are few women, we suppose, who have not seen something of children under five years of age, yet in “Compensation,” a recent novel of the mind-and-millinery species, which calls itself a “story of real life,” we have a child of four and a half years old talking in this Ossianic fashion:

“Oh, I am so happy, dear gran’mamma; - I have seen, - I have seen such a delightful person: he is like everything beautiful, - like the smell of sweet flowers and the view from Ben Lomond; - or no, better than that - he is like what I think of and see when I am very very happy; and he is really like mamma, too when she sings; and his forehead is like that distant sea,” she continued, pointing to the blue Mediterranean; “there seems no end - no end; or like the clusters of stars I like best to look at on a warm fine night ... Don’t look so ... your forehead is like Loch Lomond, when the wind is blowing and the sun is gone; I like the sunshine best when the lake is smooth ... So now - I like it better than ever ... it is more beautiful still from the dark cloud that has gone over it, when the sun suddenly lights up all the colours of the forests and shining purple rocks, and it a all reflected in the maters below.”

We are not surprised to learn that the mother of this infant phenomenon, who exhibits symptoms so alarmingly like those of adolescence repressed by gin, is herself a phoenix. We are assured, again and again, that she had a remarkably original mind, that she was a genius, and “conscious of her originality,” and she was fortunate enough to have a lover who was also a genius, and a man of “most original mind”’.

See Literary Heritage / West Midlands > Georgina Chatterton - online; accessed 02.01.2012.

[close ]

[top ]