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 ~

2019 Orkney Storytelling Festival Highlights

The Selkie's Revenge

A Scottish Traveller's story of terrible retribution

Fated to Drown

A wee, macabre tale from the Orkney island of Stronsay

The Three Wishes

An Irish tale about a lazy lout

The Battle of Summerdale

Orkney folklore springing from a famous battle

Illustration by Bryce Wilson

The Building of the Walls of Asgard

The Nordic myth

Two Orkney Stories of Selkie Men

A selkie story from the island of Sanday of an unexpected guest and another from Yesnaby about a missing woman

The Sheep Thieves

A "true" story from the Orkney island of Westray, told to Tom by his mother

The Theft of Idun and Her Apples

A Nordic Myth, where Loki betrays Idun and her apples of youth

Wayland Smith

A Germanic legend of the master of all smiths, and his terrible revenge on his abductor

~ NOT suitable for children ~

The Goita Skerry

A Shetland selkie story from the late, great Lawrence Tulloch

The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain

A Norwegian folk tale of how a brave young soldier saves the princesses from trolls

A Tale of Two Jarls

A Viking tale from the Orkneyinga Saga, showing that Vikings are not good at sharing

The Fair Isle Beacon

A tale from the Orkneyinga Saga about those tricksey Vikings

(Apologies for the abrupt ending - technical difficulties)

The Storm

A ghostly Irish tale

The Nightingale and the Rose

A wonderful, tragic story written by Oscar Wilde

* Dedicated to Tom's daughter, Josie, who made the stories happen again

The Princess in the Chest

A traditional folktale from Denmark

The Kelpie

A traditional Highlands Scottish kelpie tale

The Blacksmith and the Njugle

A Shetland water horse tale

The Queen's Necklace

A tender-hearted queen tries to help her people in this story by Helena Nyblom from Sweden

The Nucklavee

A traditional, creepy Orkney folktale from the island of Sanday. Probably not a good story for young children, but older kids will love it.

* Illustration by Bryce Wilson

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

~ Tales especially for the bairns ~

The Princess and the Pea

A classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen

The Emperor's New Clothes

Another Andersen classic story


The classic fairytale

The Elves and the Shoemaker

A classic tale of kindness


The French version of this classic story


A different version of Cinderella collected by the Brothers Grimm

The Three Princesses of Whiteland

A classic Norwegian folk tale

The Three Peas

A Slovenian folk tale about a poor boy trust who trusts to luck

Jamie Freel and the Fairies

A tale I heard from my friend, the great storyteller Audrey Parks from Northern Ireland.

This is my favourite story from her enchanting CD 'On the Tip of my Tongue', which I highly recommend.

The Three Kingdoms -
Copper, Silver and Golden

A Russian wonder tale of a hero's quest to save his mother


A Norwegian folktale that feminists will love

* Dedicated to Rhonda's mother, Cindy

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

A haunting folktale from France

* Dedicated to Rhonda

The Two Sisters

A folktale from the Faroe Islands

Art by Anna Anglemark

The Hedgehog

A Slovenian folktale showing that beauty is more than skin deep

The Companion

A Norwegian folktale about a mysterious servant

How Jack Went Out to Seek His Fortune

A Jack story showing why everybody needs a few good friends

The Dog and the Peacock

A Scottish Travellers' Christmas tale

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Hear audio folklore and fairytales online, told by Orcadian traditional storyteller Tom Muir. Recorded during Covid 19 lockdown from Scotland's Orkney Islands.

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!