The Irish have always had a way with words. Long ago they took on a language not their own and learned to re-word it into pure magic. Nowhere is this magic more in evidence than in their short stories—stories that combine lyricism, humor and tragedy with rare imagination set in simple backgrounds, largely without props. The seemingly effortless art of the best Irish writers has an appeal that is naive and highly sophisticated at the same time; the disarming simplicity with which the tales are spun being somewhat misleading at first reading. In this anthology there are gathered, for the first time in America, some of the more representative examples of Irish short fiction. The emphasis is on variety. All are a delight to read. All have universal appeal. Only 21 of the 44 have previously been published in this country.