How the Sea Became Salty

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  • Teideal (Title): How the Sea Became Salty.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 840113.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): story.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): unavailable.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 22/11/1983.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): evening class.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

There were two brothers – one poor, and one rich. One day a stranger comes up to the poor man’s door and asks for something to eat – he says he’s already called at the house of the rich brother, but he was refused. The poor man asks him in, and gives him whatever he has. Afterwards, the stranger gives him a little mill which, like Aladdin’s lamp, will produce whatever the poor man asks it for. The poor man becomes wealthy, with land, houses, livestock, and all he wants to eat.

When the rich brother notices his poor brother’s sudden prosperity, he eventually finds out the cause. The poor brother lends him the mill to take with him on a sea voyage, but forgets to tell him the magic words needed to turn the mill off when it’s delivered what was wanted. Whilst at sea, the rich brother decides to replenish the boat’s supply of salt – but because he doesn’t know the charm needed to shut the device down, the mill continues to grind salt to this day.


This tale corresponds to an international tale-type, AT 565, ‘The Magic Mill.’