This book was suggested to me for my novel research, and I have to say, I found it incredibly helpful in understanding the late 19th Century/early 20th Century Irish mentality about Faerie culture.
“Meeting the Other Crowd” is a collection of stories accumulated over several decades by folklorist, Eddie Lenihan. Most of the stories are only a few pages long, and range from little anecdotes about a neighbor who knew a guy over in Killkenny who told the story about what happened to his cousin, to full-blown tales by professional story tellers.
Lenihan did a lovely job of breaking the stories up into categories, so if you’re looking through this for research purposes, you don’t have to read the whole thing to find the tales you’re really looking for, although he doesn’t deal with specific Faerie creatures. The main thrust for most of these tales is the human reaction to the “other crowd” or the “good people”, so the stories aren’t usually specific. The Faerie world is still shrouded in a good deal of mystery and since these were told to Lenihan orally, there’s not a lot of description or world building. But the stories give an excellent insight into how terrified and respectful Irish people were towards these legendary creatures.
Each piece is laid out with a quote at the top and the year the story was collected, and then Mr. Lenihan’s explanation of the story afterward. Some of these explanations were helpful, and some of them just seemed like he felt he had to say something to keep the theme going, and don’t really add anything to the story.
The prose has also been transcribed almost verbatim from the oral dictation, so the rhythm of the stories takes a little getting used to. However, once I adjusted to the prose style, I thought it added a nice layer to the experience, since it felt like this 90 year-old storyteller was speaking directly to me through the page.
Although that brings me to the only downside of this book; since most of these stories were collected from people who were well into their twilight years and were not edited much by Lenihan, some of the stories don’t make a lot of sense. The plots are sometimes disjointed, and you can almost tell that the person is really telling you 2 or 3 stories that have become jumbled in their head after so many years.
But this was a very enjoyable read, and a must-have for anyone who loves folklore.