What do we owe our parents? This Irish tale, which is thought to have come from an old French fable, brings three generations together to answer the question.
The bones of the story:
- An elderly father lived with his son, his daughter-in-law and his grandson.
- He was of an age where he couldn’t help much around the house or in the farm, and his son decided that we was good for nothing but eating and smoking.
- The son felt that his father was consuming too little and giving nothing back, so he kicks him out.
- Wife begs him to give his father a blanket for the cold.
- Tiny voice comes from man’s son (often a baby for the “miracle” effect”) commanding father to give only half a blanket, because “I’ll need the other half when I turn you out.”
- Story ends there in Glassie’s version, but in other versions, son is shamed and brings father back into the home.
- Glassie, Henry H. (1995) Irish folktales, p85. Collected in 1963 from James Loughran, a farmer, in County Louth.
- Konta, Annie Lemp (1910) The History of French Literature from the Oath of Strasburg to Chanticler, pp. 37-38
- Big collection in Old Grandfathers and Their Grandsons on D. L. Ashliman’s pages.
ATU 980 (folktales about old people who are saved by their grandsons)