It's one of the most enduring mysteries of Irish life, the contrast between our often epic landscape and the fairly homespun people you will often find living in the midst of it all.

Places with talismanic names like Tara, Newgrange, the Giant’s Causeway, and the Grianan of Aileach are Massey’s subject, and they suggest that the link between this world and the world of myth and magic was once much more porous.

Irish myths stretch all the back into antiquity, and they have lost none of strange their power to captivate. In Massey’s book and in the Irish tradition places are always the inextricable staging post for stories, so she includes the first great mythological cycles of the Tuatha De Danann (the people of the goddess Danu) and their battles with the Fomorians, the demonic tribe they battled for control of Ireland. She also includes the equally pre-Christian Ulster Cycle, with tales of Diarmuid and Grainne, Cu Chulainn and the Fianna.

Legendary Ireland: Myths And Legends of Ireland

Legendary Ireland: Myths And Legends of Ireland

The Irish reverence for the natural world is reflected in the stories of St. Colmcille, who was said to fear the sound of an axe in his beloved oak Grove of Derry more than all the torments and fires of hell.

The celebration of the natural world and the close connection to it are everywhere found in this striking collection, which take us to 28 different sites around the country.

Dufour, $17.44