|The peddler of Ballghaderreen, Dublin, Ireland.|
Once upon a time, in Ireland, there lived a little girl named Fiona. She was very happy because her father loved her, and her mother loved her and that was all she needed. Yet this happiness would not last. One day, her mother caught a fever. Before the week was out, her poor soul had gone to God. The little girl wept piteously; her father hardened his heart. The lonely years passed and Fion grew to be a lovely young maid. True to the promise she had made her mother, the girl worked hard and obeyed her father. Every day she swept the house and made the soup. She served her father porridge in the morning and tea in the afternoon. One day, as the sunshine streamed through the windows of the cottage and shone full on the maiden’s face, her father was overcome by the resemblance of his daughter to his poor departed wife. He declared then and there that he would marry her. Fiona begged him to listen to reason but he would not and the girl ran sobbing from his sight. To the barn she ran, and there she burrowed deep into the straw of the horse stall. That’s when she hear a voice. “Why do you cry so, my daughter?” asked the filly as it flicked its tail. “My father would marry me,” cried the girl, “and I will not so dishonor myself before God.” “Then you must do as I say.” counseled the filly. “Tell your father that you will marry him, but that first you must have a dress as white as the moon.” The following day at breakfast, Fiona asked her father for a dress as white as the moon. By suppertime he brought it to her, and declared he would marry her in the morn. Now Fiona went back to the barn, and told the filly how quickly her father had obtained the dress. “Well then, now you must ask for a dress as yellow as the sun.” And this Fiona did and again her father laid it before her by sunset. Again the girl sought advice from the filly, and now the horse told her to ask for a dress as pearly as the stars in the night sky. But her father brought this dress as quickly as before and Fiona despaired.
“Stop your crying and go to your father.” said the filly. “Tell him that you will marry him in the morning, but first you must have a cloak made from the skin of twelve cats.” This Fiona did and before she had blown her candle out that night, her father was back with the cloak. No sooner had her father given her the catskins and shut the door behind him, Fiona donned the cloak and fled into the night. She ran and ran until she could run no longer. Then she nestled into the leaves under an old oak tree, wrapped her cloak around her, and went to sleep. She was awakened next morning by the sight of the young prince who owned the forest and not knowing what to say to him, she said nothing at all. Even when he tossed her over the back of his horse and carried her back to his castle, she said not a word. So her took her to his mother, who soon found tasks to keep the strange, mute girl occupied. One day, he decided to give a ball. When the first night of the affair came, Catskins cast off her fur cloak and slipped into her dress as white as the moon. She slipped into the ball, danced with the prince, and was gone before he could ask her name. The next day he went out hunting with his men as before, but they noticed that a change had come over him. He was silent and glum and when questioned, said he could not put the strange girl’s face out of his mind. That night the prince called for a maidservant to bring him a basin and a towel. Fiona heard his call and quickly brought them to him. The next day the ball continued. Now Catskins came wearing the dress that was as yellow as the sun. Again she danced with the prince, and again was gone before he knew it. That night he called for hot water and towels. Catskins heard his call and brought them to him. The next night was the third, and final, night of the ball. The prince was determined to find out who the mysterious girl was, and so he devised a plan. Slipping a gold ring into his pocket, he waited until the stranger arrived. Tonight she was dressed in a gown as pearly as the stars in the night sky. Quick as wink, the prince whisked her onto the dance floor. Before the music ended he slid the ring onto her finger. In her haste to run away, she did not notice. But now the prince called for a needle and thread. Catksins had just time to draw the cloak over the pearly gown, draw thread through a needle and run upstairs. That’s when the prince saw the ring on her finger! He tugged the catskin cloak off, and there stood Fiona in her pearly gown. Now all the words she had kept inside her tumbled out. When the prince heard how she had deceived her wicked father and preserved her purity, he declared he would marry her there and then. So he did. And —though you whisper and shout—this tale’s told out.
Notes: This is from Cox, M.R. (1892/2010),
Story # 170, The Princess in the Catskin. It is taken from Fireside Stories of Ireland, Kennedy, P. (1875).
Montessori Connection 6-9: Language/Nomenclature of Animals/Masculine & Feminine.
1. Read the story and find out what kind of animal helps Fiona make plans.
2. Remember that it is a filly. Do you know what a filly is? Ask a friend.
3. List five animals that help Cinderella in different stories, or five barnyard animals. ( chicken, cow, pig, horse, goat).
4. Fold a piece of paper into two columns.
5. Label one female and the other male.
6. List the names for female animals from the list: hen, cow, sow, filly or mare, nanny-goat).
7. List the names for male animals from the list: rooster, bull, stallion, billy-goat.
Ages 9-12: History/Ireland/Saint Patrick
1. Remember that this story comes from Ireland, the same country that Fair, Brown, and Trembling (2/23/11) comes from.
2. Find Ireland on the globe.
3. Learn about Saint Patrick:Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick's Day Symbols, or The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh, or put on a play: No snakes in Ireland: A play for St. Patrick's Day.