Abstract

This article explores how everyday concerns related to Irish emigration are symbolically addressed in a range of supernatural legends documented in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It seeks to illuminate how uncanny tales that feature emigrants departing from Ireland relate to the shared worlds of meaning of those who told and listened to them, showing how legends about affliction and miraculous abundance both draw on and construct cultural scripts. It also considers stories that articulate and reinforce traditional ideas about community members who were said to be abducted by the fairies and living in their midst. This was just one aspect of supernatural beliefs that was condemned as part of a larger rationalist and religious campaign by the Catholic Church and others to root out vernacular customs or “superstition,” a theme that informs a number of legends.

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