Fairy Greyhound, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Fairy Greyhound, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 841421.
  • 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): Joan Rabinowitz.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): unavailable.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): radio programme (KRAB).
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

A child, shortly to be baptised, is abducted from its home one night by the fairies, who leave a changeling in its place. The screams of the child are heard by a man living nearby, who is meant to have been the child’s godfather the following day. This man possesses a greyhound who, hearing the child’s wails as it is spirited down the road, tears at the door to get out. At length the owner lets it out, and follows the dog on foot so as not to lose the valuable animal. Eventually the man catches up with the greyhound, and discovers the missing child nestled between its front legs for warmth.

The man takes the child home and entrusts it to his elderly mother; he then goes to the house of the neighbor, who is distraught from discovering that her baby has – as she thinks – died. The man builds a roaring turf fire, and then looks into the cradle where the supposedly-dead baby is lying, and catches it laughing. He threatens the ‘corpse’ with disposal in the fire, whereupon ‘the quare fellow’ – the fairy changeling – disappears in a spark through the roof. The man then goes home, returns with the actual infant, and restores it to its mother.

Joe swears that this actually happened, and that his grandmother knew the woman who, as a baby, had been rescued by the greyhound, and that the the people were so impressed with the greyhound that they honoured him with a wake and a funeral when he died, and put up a statue in his memory.


A number of Joe’s songs and stories relate to the belief in people being stolen by fairies. See Tháinig Bean Cois Leasa, The Fairy Boy, The Fairy Frog, The Woman Who Came Back from the Dead, Why children are stolen by the fairies, The Changeling, and the lullabies Seoithín, Seo-hó and Dún do Shúil.

This story may be related to AT 101, ‘Old dog as rescuer of child.’

A recording date of 19th October 1984 appears in the documentation but this is likely to be the broadcast date, as Joe Heaney died in May of that year.