Western Isles Folk Tales

Title: Western Isles Folk Tales

Writer: Ian Stephen

Publishing House: The History Press

Date of Publication: February 1st 2015 (first published October 15th 2014)

Rating: 5 stars

“Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked, melancholy isles Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.”

                                Charlotte Bronté

There are so many secrets hidden in the Western Isles where the landscape, the legends and the tales become one with the soul of the islanders. Wise women warn sailors against their curiosity, skulls react against annoying mortals, dead mothers protect the women who have decided to raise their children as their own. A crop-headed freckled lass is not hindered by the unimportant obstacles posed by arrogant (and ignorant…) men and strange old women are defeated by the courage of a black dog. 

Lovers elope and brave the stormy seas and those who wish to harm them. A young woman gives herself to the treacherous waters to reunite with her beloved. Wives hear the voices of their lost husbands narrating their tragic fate. A blind woman finds her sight when she sees the soulless body of her sailor son. Blue men, whose origins have been lost to the mists of time, rise from the sea to ask riddles to perplexed sailors. Bogeymen, spirits, witches are here but the finest stories are always the ones about ordinary people braving the elements and themselves.

Ian Stephen narrates tales from the six main islands of the Outer Hebrides – Harris, Lewis, South and North Uist, Barra and Benbecula – providing valuable information on the sources and versions of each story. His writing echoes the mystery and mysticism of the Western Isles, creating one of the most memorable stops in the exciting journey to the heart of British and Irish folklore.