Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary

hudden and duddenNo one can make fun of themselves like the Irish. This quite funny folktale is about about two rich but stupid farmers who will do anything to get their hands on a small piece of land between their two farms that is owned by a poor but clever farmer named Donald O’Neary. Of course, in the end good wins over evil at the expense of Donald’s greedy neighbours. Or does it?

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Pre-Intermediate level 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

The message of the story can best be summed up in the English : “The more you get, the more you want.” As usually happens in folktales, the greedy villains (Hudden and Dudden) come to a bad end. However, there is an interesting twist in this story. Donald O’Neary is clearly the and “winner” in the story, but he is hardly a hero. He rises from poverty to riches through trickery. First, he tricks a greedy man into buying a worthless cow-skin for a bag of gold. Next, he tricks Hudden and Dudden into unnecessarily killing all of their cows and getting a beating when they take the skins to market. Then, he tricks another greedy farmer into taking his place as Hudden and Dudden are carrying him away to be killed. And finally, he tricks Hudden and Dudden into jumping to their deaths in a lake. I think it would have been nice if the folktale was longer and had a fitting end to Donald.

Many folktales can be found around the world that follow similar s to those of other cultures. In many cases there are enough differences to show that this has probably happened by chance. However, sometimes parts of stories are so similar as to make it appear as if either one is taken from the other, or they both developed from a common earlier story. The great Danish poet and writer Hans Christian Andersen wrote that a small number of his stories were developed from Danish folktales he had heard as a child. One of these is Little Clause and Big Clause, which contains the same (unlikely) major events as Hudden and Dudden but is very different in much of the detail. Researchers have examined the history of both stories. It appears the origin of both was an eleventh century Latin poem, Unibos, which found its way into the culture of the Celts in Ireland and then spread from Ireland to Europe. We have included a copy of Little Clause and Big Clause above for interest.

celtic talesOur source for Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary was a children’s book called Celtic Folk and Fairy Tales by Australian folktale collector Joseph Jacobs, first published in 1892. The book can be downloaded in various e-book forms from Project Gutenberg here. An audiobook is available from Librivox here.


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bone(n: bone pl bones) The hard substance forming the skeleton of man, animals etc. 2000

calf(n: calf pl calves) The young of various large animals such as cow, elephant, whale etc. 5000

cart(n: cart pl carts) A vehicle with two wheels that is pulled by an animal such as a horse or donkey. The farmer packed the vegetables into his cart to take them to market. 3000

cattle(n: cattle, plural) A group of cows, bulls, or steers that are kept on a farm for meat or milk. 4000
(n: cattle-dog pl cattle-dogs) A special breed of dog developed in Australia for driving cattle over long distances across rough country.

fresh(adj: fresh, fresher, freshest) 1. [of food] Newly made, gathered, arrived; not frozen, canned, etc. 2. [of air] clean and pure, coming from the outdoors. 2. [of people etc] healthy; not tired. 3. [of weather etc] cool; refreshing. 4. [of water] without salt. 5. another; different; not already used, begun, worn, heard etc. a fresh piece of paper; fresh news 2000

hen(n: hen pl hens) An adult female chicken. 3000

jewel(n: jewel pl jewels) A precious stone (such as a diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire) that has been cut and polished.
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(adj: jeweled or jewelled) Covered in jewels. 3000

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lick(v: lick, licks, licked, licking) To pass the tongue over something so as to make it wet or eat it. 4000

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pole(n: pole pl poles) A long, straight piece of wood, metal, etc., often placed into or on the ground so that it stands straight up to hold or support something. 3000

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scales(n: scale or scales pl scales) A measuring instrument that is used for weighing people or things to show how heavy they are. He stepped onto the bathroom scale (U.S.) or scales (U.K). 2000

weigh(v: weigh, weighs, weighed, weighing) To find how heavy someone or something is; to measure the weight of someone or something. (วัดน้ำหนัก) 1000

weight(n: weight, weights) 1. A measurement that indicates how heavy a person or thing is. Please indicate your height and weight on the form. 2. A heavy object that is lifted during exercising. A 10-pound weight. (หน่วยวัดน้ำหนัก) 3. Something that causes worry or sadness. When I heard he was safe, I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my mind. (น้ำหนัก) 1000

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(n: plot pl plots) The series of events that form the story in a movie, novel, play, etc. 3000

(adj: anonymous) Not named or identified; written, made or done by someone unknown. 3000

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