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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Irish Folklore: Dying Traditions?

From Henry Glassie's The Stars of Ballymenone:
"When you are young," Tommy Lunny said, "you do laugh at what the old people say, but then the young get older." The young rip ahead, assuming the world is as it appears. That is their job. The job of the old is to keep the argument open. In generation after generation, rambling observers note that only the old people tell stories of ghosts and fairies. In generation after generation, they predict, on that basis, the death of traditions, not understanding that tales and beliefs are tied both to historical eras and stages in life. The young get older, and the old have heard and seen. Their world is complex, unstable. A long life of experiences has taught them to believe, and taught them to doubt, and they assemble their findings into tales for others to consider. Peter Flanagan tells stories of tokens and fairies and ghosts, he said, "for your own decision whether to believe it or not. I wouldn't ask you; it's a matter for yourself."

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