Ludwig Mühlhausen, Séamus Ó Caiside and Scéal Rí na Gréige: The Tale of ‘Three Golden Children’ (ATU 707) in 1937 Donegal

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‘The Tale of the King of Greece’ (‘Scéal Rí na Gréige’), a previously unpublished Donegal variant of ATU International Folktale Type 707 ‘The Three Golden Children’ recorded by Mühlhausen from Séamus Ó Caiside, is at the focus of attention in this book. Although versions of the tale existed throughout Ireland, some of which will be discussed below, I propose to demonstrate that the tale travelled to Ireland from abroad. The origin of the text owes much to the adaptations of Oriental tales first recorded in France in the eighteenth century by Antoine Galland (1704-1717) from his Syrian informant Hannā Diyāb, and subsequently rendered into English by Burton, Lane and Lang, who were responsible for the text reaching Ireland, disseminated across the island orally, but more so via the medium of print. previous studies of adaptations of foreign sources on the Irish soil have not dealt with the introduction of a tale that entered Irish oral tradition through its adaptation into Irish from the English version available originally in print. The book fills a lacuna that exists in our understanding of the development of an international folktale type in Ireland in terms of its form, context, and dissemination.

The book presents a case study of the so-called ATU 707 ‘Three Golden Children’ Irish ecotype, including its variants, some of which, I believe, were adapted from the foreign counterpart available in print. The events in the run-up to the tale’s collector visit to Ireland along with an overview of the data collected during his trip provide the study with a historical and ethnographical context and are discussed in chapters 1 and 2. The Irish ecotypes of ATU 707 are discussed from a comparative point of view, along with an examining of tale-type’s dissemination in the country from the 1880’s to the 1930s in chapter 3. Chapters 4 and 5 will take an international perspective into discussion and will assess how the popular publications of The Arabian Tales Entertainments and the Grimm Brothers’ Children and Household Stories influenced the formulation of a specific ATU 707 Irish ecotype. The book follows the methodology of critical textual analysis: chapters 3-5 serve as the extensive commentary to the Modern Irish text of the tale, with the dialectal readings appearing in footnotes, and accompanied by its translation into English and German in appendix 1. A list of the folklore motifs found in a number of variants discussed in the book is found in appendix 2. The list of The Arabian Nights Entertainments publications available in Ireland in the nineteenth and early twentieth century is included in appendix 3. Appendix 4 presents the transcriptions of four variants discussed in chapters 3 and 4, three of which have been normalised according to the up-to-date spelling standard of Modern Irish. The book is accompanied by an index, that contains the names of persons, organisations and places, the titles of the tales and compositions mentioned throughout, and a bibliography.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherFolklore Fellows Communications
Number of pages234
ISBN (Print)978-951-41-1142-6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameFolklore Fellows Communications
PublisherSuomalainen Tiedeakatemia - Academia Scientiarum Fennica
ISSN (Print)0014-5815


  • Irish oral tradition
  • Ludwig Mühlhausen
  • Teelin
  • international folktale
  • text adaptation
  • Séamus Ó Caiside
  • 1937
  • Donegal
  • Arabian Nights
  • The Grimm Brothers
  • Straparola
  • Irish Folklore Commission
  • folklore
  • folklore collection
  • Modern Irish translations
  • German scholars in Ireland
  • story-telling
  • Douglas Hyde
  • Jeremiah Curtin
  • ATU 707

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