Tales for Troubled Times

~ Folktale Archive ~

Tom's original greeting from what has become the Tales for Troubled Times folklore archive:

"In these surreal days of illness and self-isolation due to COVID-19 I found myself wondering what more I can do to help people get through the long days. If ever there was a need for stories, then this is it.

I'm recording rough, one-take stories of favourite folk tales. I must admit, they are rougher than I would normally do. All the stumbles are left in. This is not about showcasing my storytelling skills. It's not about 'me', it's about us.

These are stories that I don't normally tell, as well as old favourites. The lack of an audience is a great miss. It is just me, alone in an attic bedroom with a small recording device on a cushion.

I hope you find some tales that help to get you through the day and imagine better days. Please take care and stay safe.

Love, Tom."

(Tales especially for the bairns are here.)

~ Tales for everyone ~

Oisin and Niamh

A Celtic myth from Ireland

The City Under the Sea

A mermaid folktale from the Orkney island of Sanday

Robbie Haa and the Black Laird

A Scottish Traveller story of an evil ghost's revenge

* NOT suitable for children or anyone of a sensitive nature

The Suitor from the Sea

An Orkney tale from the island of South Ronaldsay, South Parish

The Watch

A ghost story from the Orkney island of Hoy

For our friend, Jo Jones

Illustration by another dear friend, Sheila Faichney

The Tomten

Sometimes helpful farm spirits can be a nuisance

The Gypsy's Ghost

A Swedish story of a girl who is being courted by a ghost

Prince Lindworm

A classic Nordic tale

For Tom's wife, Rhonda

Boray Isle

An unusual selkie tale from Orkney

How the Fin Folk Lost Eynhallow

An Orkney story about how a man had his revenge on the mythical Fin Folk

Illustration by Bryce Wilson

The Buried Moon

This story shows how the Moon helps to drive away evil

The Nurse who Broke Her Promise

A Cornish tale of a midwife who delivers a pisky (pixie) child ... and the consequences

Da Slokkit Koli

A spooky Shetland tale

Thomas the Rhymer

A Scottish tale, dedicated to Tom's Slovenian sister Kat

Two Orkney Shipwrecks

Two true stories of shipwrecks in Orkney

The Giant Who had no Heart in His Body

A classic fairy tale from Norway

The Book of the Black Arts

A chilling Orkney folk tale about an evil book

The Stolen Winding Sheet

A ghost story from the island of Sanday about the dire consequences of stealing from the dead

Illustration by Bryce Wilson

The Lord's Prayer

A Scottish Travellers' tale of how a tramp tricked a minister into giving charity

The Girl who Kissed a Knight out of Necessity

In which a knight learns a lesson in humility

The Shetlander and the Polar Bear

A tale that Tom heard from the great Shetland storyteller Lawrence Tulloch

The Pickpocket

A tale about a talented family

Some of these stories are also available in Tom's folklore books.

~ Tales especially for the bairns ~

The King of the Birds

Find out who gets to be the king of the birds

The Three Dogs

A German fairy tale

Ash Lad and His Companions

How the Ash Lad was helped by some strange companions

- a Norwegian tale

Sturdy Hans

How strength and courage save a princess from a dragon

The Three Wishes

This tale shows that you must be careful what you wish for.

The Three Oranges

A French fairytale

The Sun

A Slavic folktale in the Luck Child tradition


Find out how a small boy defeated an evil troll

The Boy who Went to the North Wind

A story about the time the North Wind had to compensate a boy for his lost flour

Tom Fitzpatrick and the Leprechaun

In which Tom finds out how tricksy a leprechaun can be

Mr Vinegar

 An English folktale - how Mr Vinegar found a fortune and lost it again

The Golden Fish

A Russian folktale about being content with what you have

The Golden Cradle

A Scottish folk tale for the bairns

The Sleeping Beauty of the Woods

The classic tale


A classic fairy tale from Germany

The Frog Prince

A German fairy tale

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The original version of this classic fairy tale - be warned, it's rather gruesome and not like Disney.

Beauty and the Beast

The original version of this classic French fairy tale, which is quite a lengthy story - settle in for a long one!

Puss in Boots

The classic tale

Hansel and Gretel

The old German folktale collected by the brothers Grimm

  1. Page 1
  2. Page 2
  3. Page 4
  4. Page 5

You might like these pages, too!

  • Tales for Troubled Times - page 5

    Humans have always told ourselves stories during troubled times. Stories comfort, inspire and encourage. Hear audio of traditional tales and folklore online.

  • Books by Tom Muir - Orcadian Folklorist, Storyteller and Historian

    Books by Tom Muir - The Orcadian storyteller and folklorist tells traditional tales from his native Orkney Islands. His humorous delight comes through the stories. Tom wears another hat, as well - that of historian. Visit Orkneyology.com to discover Tom's world of stories.

  • Tales for Troubled Times - page four

    Humans have always told ourselves stories during troubled times. Stories comfort, inspire and encourage. Join us and hear traditional tales and folklore online.

Tom Muir's Tales for Troubled Times. Listen free to fairytales, bedtime stories and folklore online at home. Let the soothing voice of the storyteller soothe and inspire with ancient lore.

Mermaid image (Rhonda's pages) and storyteller image (Tom's pages), and all other illustrations except where noted are here by the courtesy of our dear friend - Stromness author, artist and historian, Bryce Wilson MBE, who owns all copyrights. Thanks, Bryce!