The Irish are known for their incredible tales, many of which have been passed down through generations. Here are the best Irish stories for kids, from stories inspired by myth and ancient folklore to modern tales about our world today.
The Irish are world-renowned for their tall tales, ancient mythology, and folklore traditions. So, it is no surprise that the Emerald Isle is home to so many great stories your kids will love.
Whether you want to teach your little one something new about the island of Ireland or just need a fun new bedtime story, here is our rundown of the best Irish stories for kids.
5. The Children of Lir – the inspiration for Swan Lake
One of the most famous Irish folktales is the tale of the Children of Lir. This ancient myth mixes magical elements and druid beliefs with Christian messaging and morals.
The story follows Lir and his wife Aoibh, who have four children: one girl Fionnghuala, and three sons Aodh and twins, Fiachra and Conn.
Following the birth of the children, Aoibh suddenly dies, and Lir marries her sister Aoife. However, Aoife soon becomes jealous of Lir’s affection for his four children and designs to turn them into swans.
This Irish mythological tale is the inspiration behind the famous ballet Swan Lake and is undoubtedly one of the best Irish stories for kids.
4. Under the Hawthorne Tree by Marita Conlon McKenna – the tale of one of Ireland’s greatest tragedies
The Under the Hawthorne Tree trilogy by Marita Conlon McKenna is the perfect introduction to one of the most tragic and poignant periods of Irish history.
The trilogy tells the tale of the Great Famine, which took hold throughout Ireland from 1845 to the early 1850s.
This well-written retelling of the tragic time is not too difficult a read for young children. Because of this, it makes it the perfect accessible and informative leap into one of the most important pieces of Ireland’s history.
The trilogy tells the story through the eyes of three young siblings Eily, Peggy, and Michael.
The children lose almost everything they have at the outset of the Famine, but their love for each other is what keeps them going through their struggle to survive.
3. Paddy’s Pot of Gold by Dick King-Smith – a lighthearted tale of an Irish leprechaun
Next up on our list of best Irish stories for kids is a much more lighthearted offering. Paddy’s Pot of Gold by British author Dick King-Smith is inspired by Ireland’s little people, the leprechauns.
This is the perfect lighthearted bedtime story for your little one. Paddy’s Pot of Gold tells the tale of a young girl called Brigid. She can’t quite believe her eyes when she sees a carrot moving in her garden.
However, the carrot turns out to be Paddy, a tiny leprechaun with bright red hair.
Brigid befriends Paddy as the only human who can see the little creature, and the two embark on a quest to find his pot of gold.
Although not a traditional Irish folktale or even written by an Irish author, we love the Irish inspiration behind this lighthearted children’s tale.
2. The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde – a tale of loyalty, friendship, and greed
Wilde is primarily known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and his plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan.
However, what you may not know is that the Irish writer also penned some incredible short stories and fairytales. One of the most famous fairytales by the Irish writer is The Happy Prince.
First published in 1888 as The Happy Prince and other tales, the book contains five stories for children. These include The Nightingale and the Rose, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend, and The Remarkable Rocket.
Today, however, we are focusing on the title tale, which tells the story of the statue of the Happy Prince and his friend, the swallow.
The story tells the tale of love and sacrifice and greed and poverty.
1. Finn MacCool and the Giant’s Causeway – the perfect introduction to Irish folklore
Perhaps the most famous tale on our list of the best Irish stories for kids is the story of Finn MacCool and the Giant’s Causeway.
Taken from Irish mythology, this story follows a feud between the Irish giant Finn MacCool and his Scottish rival Benandonner.
According to the tale, it is thanks to the rivalry between the two giants that the iconic Giant’s Causeway came to be.