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Who were the Celts? I asked the same thing, and the answer turned out to be more complicated than I thought.
What I suspected, and turned out to be true, is that the Celts have a lot of freaky stories and adventure tales. Imagine you were living in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall, or the Isle of Man in ancient times. Even now, a look at any of these countries takes you back in time…they are dank, dark, cold, but also freakishly beautiful.
Going into this, I thought the Celts were groups of people basically coming from the southwestern part of present day United Kingdom and Ireland and the northwestern part of present day France, and for all intents and purposes, that is the definition I’m going with.
I wasn’t sure whether the Irish are actually considered Celts, but I found out that Gaelic is considered a Celtic language along with Welsh and a few others. The other Celtic nations are Brittany (part of France), and Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Scotland.
There were Celtic nations in other parts of Europe as well, but the stories in this article come from the areas mentioned above, which are also the sources of the current Celtic language and couple more that scholars are attempting to reconstruct.
Padraic Colum was born in Ireland into a working class family in 1881. He eventually received an education through benefactors. He knew and work with the important Irish writers of the time, including Yeats. After 1914, he and his wife mostly lived in the United States.
He was known for making Irish folklore accessible to children, and three of his books were American Newbery Honor Books in the 1920’s and ‘30’s.
His books are appropriate for children ages 5 and up.
I associate King Arthur with England, but as several people pointed out when I included him in the article on English folk tales, he is Celtic.
There are more books about King Arthur that are appropriate for children at this post:
Free online versions of these books, and more with no log in required: Padraic Colum’s Works for Children
FREE recordings of Colum’s works
More FREE works by Padraic Colum at Project Gutenberg
Read about folklorist Joseph Jacobs here: FREE Stories from English folklore and history for Kids ages 8 to 11
Free online version with no log in: Favorite Celtic Fairy Tales
More Celtic Fairy Tales at the Internet Archive
FREE recordings of Joseph Jacobs’ stories
Joseph Jacobs’ works at Project Gutenberg
I cannot find anything about Louey Chisholm except that he (?) also wrote books written in Galician, a language spoken in parts of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
Free online version with no log in: Celtic Tales Told to the Children
Eleanor Hull’s family was from the part of Ireland that now forms Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. rather than the Republic of Ireland.
She was a cofounder of the Irish Texts Society.
Many of her books containing Irish literature and folklore can be found at the Internet Archive.
These books are appropriate for children about age 8 and up.
Free online version of The Boys’ Cuchulain with no log in required.
If you want more folktales from the Celts, look under the individual nations: Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and the Isle of Man.
Celtic Folklore for Adults
You should be able to find both of these in free editions.