The Enchanted Bay: Tales and Legends from Ernie O’Malley’s Irish Folklore Collection


Cormac K.H. O’Malley & Patrick J. Mahoney

A captivating compilation of Irish folk tales collected by revolutionary leader Ernie O’Malley.


October 2024

ISBN: 9781785375286 Categories: , ,


It is a little-known fact that Ernie O’Malley, renowned for his role in Ireland’s revolutionary struggle, was also a passionate collector of Irish folklore.

Centred on O’Malley’s native Clew Bay and its environs and transcribed by his son Cormac, The Enchanted Bay is a rich tapestry of tales that showcases the enduring power of the oral tradition in Ireland. From the entertaining exploits of the Gobán Saor, mythical master builder, to the Clare Island man who married a selkie, this collection offers a glimpse into the heart of Irish storytelling.

A testament to O’Malley’s multifaceted legacy, several of the stories in this compilation were gathered while he travelled Ireland as an IRA organiser. The insights he gained through folklore collecting would later inform his ambitious project of recording testimonies from former comrades, solidifying his place as a pivotal figure in the preservation of Irish history and culture.

The tales in these pages maintain the unique voices of local communities, conjuring an arcane, fascinating world that is slipping further from memory.

Preface: Dr Crίostóir Mac Cárthaigh
Reflections: Cormac K.H. O’Malley
Introduction: Patrick J. Mahoney
1. Tales of the Supernatural
2. Lore of the Sea
3. Heroic Tales and Anecdotes
4. Religious Tales and Legends
5. Historical Traditions
6. Rural Life and Tradition

About the Author
Cormac K.H. O’Malley was born in Ireland, moved to the USA in 1957, studied history at Harvard and law at Columbia, and enjoyed a successful thirty-year international legal career. In retirement, he has pursued research on modern Irish history and the legacy of his parents, Ernie O’Malley, and artist Helen Hooker O’Malley. He has lectured broadly on his family legacy and Irish history.