Easy Stories in English is turning 100! On the first of December, we will have the 100th episode of the podcast. Wow, it’s hard to believe!
To celebrate 100 episodes, I want to put YOUR voices on the podcast. Record a message and say how Easy Stories in English has helped you to learn English. Maybe it has made you more confident, maybe it has made you read more, maybe you like listening in the car. Whatever the case, I want to hear from you!
I also want to have a special introduction with all of your voices. So make sure to record yourself saying, ‘Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.’
The introduction to the episode will be made from all YOUR voices, and I will play your messages about learning English on the show!
If you want to be part of the 100th episode, email your recording to Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. Make sure it’s less than a minute, so that there’s time for everyone’s recording!
Thank you all so much for listening, and I look forward to hearing your voices!
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is The Land of Youth. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Youth. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Youth. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Today’s story is a legend from Ireland. Ireland is a small country next to the United Kingdom. Ireland is an island—notice these two words are different. Ireland and island.
But Ireland, the island, is actually two countries. There is the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. But many Irish people want the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to be one country.
My dad is Irish. He grew up in the Republic of Ireland. But, to be honest, I’ve only been there for family funerals. So I don’t know Irish culture that well. I decided to not do Irish accents for this story—I know in some stories I do accents for the characters—because Irish accents are really hard to do, and I don’t want to do them badly. Maybe in future.
Also, I want to say that the spelling of Irish words is very unusual. So there are some Irish names in this story. When you read the spelling, you might think it is said one way, but it actually sounds very different. For example, the name ‘Neeve’ is spelt N-I-A-M-H. So make sure to listen while you read the transcript so that you don’t get confused by the names.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Land is the thing below you. So when you walk outside, you are walking on the land. Plants and trees grow on the land. Land can also mean country. For example, England is a land.
Youth means being young. So when you are not an adult yet, you are in your youth. However, someone who is 25 can be in their youth, as well. There is not a specific age when youth ends. ‘A youth’ also means a young person, but it is often used by old people who do not like young people. For example, if you are an old man and young boys are always running in your garden, you could say, ‘I don’t like these youths in my garden!’
Forever means always—always now and always in the future. For example, if you say, ‘I will love you forever,’ it means that you will never stop loving the person. No person or animal can live forever, but some things can last forever, or ‘live forever’. For example, plastic never goes away, so we can say that plastic lasts forever, unfortunately!
A druid is a man who does magic. Druids were part of Celtic societies. Most of Europe was Celtic before. Now, there are not many Celtic people, but in Ireland, Scotland and Wales people still speak Celtic languages. However, in these places now they do not have druids. Still, we see druids in films and TV shows. Druids were a bit like priests.
Your son-in-law is the husband of your child. For example, if your daughter gets married to a man called Bob, Bob is now your son-in-law. He is like your son, but he is not really your son. Still, you will probably think of him as part of the family. Some people do not like their son-in-laws or daughters-in-law at all!
Marry means to get married to someone, to join your life with someone because you love them. When you really love someone, you might go down on one knee and ask them, ‘Will you marry me?’ When people marry each other, they get special gold rings and put them on their fingers, and they have a big party. In the old days, mothers often wanted to marry their daughters to rich men.
Ugly means not beautiful, something that looks bad. Many people think they are ugly, even if they are not. In the UK, there was an art movement in the 1970s called brutalism. Because of this movement, many ugly buildings were built. But some people say that they are not ugly—they’re beautiful!
Cast a spell means to use magic. You move your hand, or a magic wand, and say magic words like ‘Abracadabra!’ or ‘Expecto patronum!’. Druids, wizards and witches cast spells. In Harry Potter, there are some very bad spells, like avada kedavra, which kills people.
Hunt means to chase and kill animals. In the past, people hunted on horses and used bows and arrows to kill animals. Now, when people hunt they usually walk and use guns to kill animals. In the past, people hunted for food, but these days, people usually hunt for fun.
A monster is a horrible person or animal who is very dangerous. For example, vampires, werewolves, mummies and zombies are all monsters. Monsters often eat people. Halloween is the night where monsters come to life. At least, in stories it is. If someone is very bad or strange, we can also call them a monster.
When you want to change how someone looks, you can give them a disguise. For example, maybe you want to talk to someone but you don’t want them to know who you are. So you disguise yourself. You put on glasses, grow a beard, change your clothes, change your voice and so on. People use disguises a lot in spy movies, like James Bond.
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A big thank-you to our new patrons: PINTO, Cristina Palermo, Audrius and Ola Włodyka. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Land of Youth
Once there was a place called Tír na nÓg. The name meant ‘the Land of Youth’. It was a magical land where everyone was young forever.
To decide who would be king in the Land of Youth, they had a game. All the men stood by the castle and ran to a chair. The first man who sat in the chair became king, and he was king for seven years. Then they played the game again and there was a new king.
But there was never a queen. A girl called Niamh wanted to be queen very much, but she could not be queen. There were no queens in the Land of Youth. Everyone said Niamh was beautiful, but Niamh didn’t want to be beautiful. She wanted to be strong and to be queen!
One year, Niamh’s father won the game and became the king. Niamh was very happy, and said, ‘Father, can I help you be king?’ But her father said, ‘No!’ He didn’t want help from other people. He wanted to be king on his own.
Niamh’s father was afraid of many things. He thought that someone might try to kill him so that they could be king. He thought that someone would run faster than him in the next game. But he had a druid who could see the future, so he asked him to see the future.
‘Nobody will kill you, my king. And only one person would run faster than you: your son-in-law. So if your daughter never gets married, you will not have a son-in-law, and you can be king forever.’
‘But how can I do that? My daughter is beautiful. Many men will want to marry her.’
‘I have magic, my king!’ said the druid. ‘I can make her so ugly that no man will want to marry her.’
‘Do it,’ said the King.
So the druid cast a spell. Niamh’s body changed. Her face now looked like a pig, and her body looked like a pig. She was strong and had lots of hair like a pig, but she was not beautiful anymore.
Her father was very sad, and said to the druid, ‘What can I do? I did not want this for my daughter!’
‘I am sorry,’ said the druid. ‘But I cannot change the spell. It is done.’
But Niamh was very happy. Actually, she had asked the druid to cast the spell on her. She wanted to be strong, like a pig. And now that she was ugly, no man would want to marry her. So she could do what she wanted.
‘I am going to Ireland,’ said Niamh. ‘The Land of Youth is boring.’
‘Be careful, Niamh,’ said the druid. ‘The spell will not break. But, if you marry the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, then the spell will break. Well, it will change. I do not know if it will break.’
‘Hah!’ said Niamh. ‘I will never get married.’
So Niamh went to Ireland and lived alone in the forest. Every day, she cut wood and carried the heavy trees. She was strong and happy.
There was a family who liked to go hunting in the forest. The men in the family were all very strong, but one of the sons, Oisín, was not so strong. His brothers always laughed and said, ‘Oisín, you are so weak!’ Niamh thought that this was stupid. Oisín wasn’t weak. He was not strong, but he was fast, and he hunted well. Niamh watched him, and thought he was very interesting.
One day, Oisín and his two brothers hunted a big pig. It was very dangerous, and the pig killed Oisín’s two brothers. But Oisín did not stop hunting it. Niamh thought he would die! But finally, Oisín was fast and clever, and he killed the pig.
Niamh saw all this, and thought that Oisín was amazing. But the young man could not take the pig home. It was too heavy, and he was too weak.
‘Oh no!’ said Oisín. ‘I have all this blood on me. If I go home, my father will think that I killed my two brothers. But I cannot take the pig home, because it is too heavy…’
“Hmm,” thought Niamh. “I want to help the boy, but if he sees me, he will want to kill me, because I look like a pig. But he is weak and tired… I will help him!”
So Niamh came out of the trees.
‘Hello, Oisín,’ she said. ‘I saw you kill the pig. You are a very clever man.’
‘Who are you?!’ said Oisín.
‘I am Niamh. Do not be afraid. I look like a pig, but I am really a person. I will help you carry the pig you hunted.’
‘I don’t believe you!’ said Oisín.
‘Fine, don’t believe me,’ said Niamh. Then she picked up the pig and started walking. ‘I can carry it myself. I am very strong.’
But finally, Oisín helped her, and they carried the pig through the forest. When they were close to Oisín’s house, Niamh left.
‘Where are you going?’ said Oisín. ‘My family will want to say thank you.’
‘Don’t be stupid,’ she said. ‘They will think I am a monster and that I hurt you.’
‘Can I see you again?’ said Oisín.
Niamh laughed. ‘You really want to see me again?’ Most men thought she was too strong and too ugly. But Oisín liked her. ‘Fine, come to the forest at night and we will talk.’
So every night, Niamh and Oisín met and talked. They became very close, and Niamh thought that she loved Oisín. But there was a problem: she couldn’t meet Oisín’s family. They would think she was a monster.
Then, one day, Oisín told Niamh about his father.
‘He is called Fionn mac Cumhaill, and he is a great hunter. I will never be strong like him.’
Niamh remembered what the druid had said: ‘If you marry the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, then the spell will break.’
‘Oisín!’ she said. ‘We have to get married!’
‘Believe me. If we get married, I will be a normal girl again, and we can be happy!’
Oisín didn’t think that she was ugly now, but he wanted her to join his family. So he said yes, and they got married in the forest at night. They found a man who could marry them, and disguised Niamh so that he could not see her face.
But when Niamh and Oisín kissed, the spell was not broken. Niamh did not change. Instead, Oisín changed. His face became like a pig, and his body became like a pig. Now they were both ugly and strong, like pigs!
‘Oh no!’ said Niamh. ‘I am so sorry, Oisín, I did not know…’
Oisín laughed. ‘Do you still like me?’
‘Of course I do!’
‘Then it does not matter. I am strong now, like you. We will go to my family. They will understand, because we are in love.’
But Oisín’s family did not understand. They thought that Niamh and Oisín were monsters, and Fionn mac Cumhaill said, ‘Leave! Never come back! You are not my son!’
For many days, Oisín cried. He loved his family, but they did not understand him.
‘Come,’ said Niamh. ‘We will go back to the Land of Youth, Tír na nÓg. I have an idea.’
Niamh disguised them both. They wore heavy clothes, so that nobody could see their faces. They waited for the time of the game in Tír na nÓg, and then they went there.
‘You will run in the game,’ said Niamh.
Oisín was happy to run. He was very fast and very strong, so he easily won. Niamh’s father was very angry. Who was this strange man, and how did he win?!
‘But the druid told me this can’t happen!’ said the King. ‘He said that only my son-in-law would be faster than me, the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill!’
‘I am your son-in-law!’ said Oisín. He took off the disguise, and all the people in the Land of Youth gasped. Niamh went and stood with him, and took off her disguise. ‘I have married your beautiful daughter, and now I am king.’
‘And I am queen!’ said Niamh.
‘No!’ said Niamh’s father. ‘There can be no queen in Tír na nÓg!’
‘Actually, there can,’ said Oisín. ‘I am king, and I say that there will be a queen.’
So Niamh became queen, and she was very happy. Because she and Oisín were strong, fast and clever, nobody could kill them. So they were king and queen for seven years, and after that, Oisín won the game again, so they were king and queen again.
One day, the druid said to the queen, ‘You know, I could cast another spell. I could make you beautiful again. You don’t have to be pigs forever.’
But Niamh just laughed. ‘We want to be pigs forever! Pigs are strong and clever. Anyway, the people of Tír na nÓg love us.’
And it was true. The people loved their king and queen, and everyone was happy in the Land of Youth.
Of course, Niamh and Oisín were not king and queen forever. Finally, they got bored of it, so one year Oisín ran slowly, and someone else got to the chair first.
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