A Candle in the Window by Finn McCool the Magic Leprechaun Cat

Nollaig Shona! That, in Gaelic, the language of my homeland, Ireland, means Happy Christmas. Ireland is a land of magic and at no time is the magic felt more then at Christmas.

A revered Irish Christmas tradition is the “Candle in the Window”, meant to light the way for the Holy Family and for any poor traveler looking for shelter.

This is the Christmas story of a young Irish girl, named Mary, a tiny Fairy Princess named, Realta, a Magic Leprechaun Kitten named Niall and a very special Candle in the Window.
* * *
Realta hurried through the church yard sheltered in a grove of trees to her home on the Hill of Tara. It was just beginning to snow as she entered the Fairy Underworld through a secret passage at the base of one of the ancient trees. Once through the portal, she was within a beautiful, sunlit glen, full of flowers and a rushing waterfall whose waters filled a deep blue pond. Everywhere, fairies filled the air, only Realta was bound to the earth, for she had no wings.

Soon, she stood before her home, a beautiful crystal palace that sparkled in the sunlight.

“Where have you been, Realta?” her mother, Fairy Queen Oona, asked, as Realta passed the queen’s parlor on her way to her room.

“I have been to the Wishing Steps,” Realta replied. “To wish for wings, so I can fly.”

“It is no use wishing for wings, Realta, they must be earned.”

“Yes, I know, but how shall I earn them?”

“The Fates will provide you a way when you are ready,” Queen Oona replied, lovingly. “It takes a brave heart to earn one’s wings. Perhaps, you should not be so hasty.”

“Do you know what day it is in the Land Above, Mother?” Realta asked.

“It is the day the humans call Christmas Eve. Why do you ask?”

“Fairy Godmother, Solas, has told me that great magic happens at Christmas,” Realta said. “Is it only humans who experience this magic?”

“I’m afraid so, for we do not celebrate the day.”
“I see,” Realta said dejectedly. “May I have your permission to go to the church and watch the Christmas service?”

“Yes, of course.”

In the Land Above, another small child, 5-year-old, Mary McCarty, stood admiring the large white candle on the window ledge. Its base surrounded by a wreath of holly.

“This evening, Mary, you will light the candle,” her Mother, Elisabeth said. “Because your name is Mary, the same as the Mother of the Baby Jesus, it is a special honor for you to light the candle.”

Pointing to the manager scene set beneath the Christmas tree that lacked the figures of the Holy Family, she continued, “The light from the candle is meant to show them the way to shelter, so they will have a place to stay when the Baby Jesus is born.”

“Now, Mary” her mother went on, “You must lie down for your nap; otherwise, you will be too tired to show the Baby Jesus to his home. Come, I will tuck you in.”

Mary could not sleep. She slipped from her bedroom. She could hear her mother singing a Christmas Carol as she prepared the evening meal. Mary stood before the manger scene. Proudly, she thought about how lighting the candle would bring the Holy Family safely home.

Suddenly, Mary felt a draft. She turned to the front door and saw that it had been left open a wee bit. She also saw a tiny, white kitten poke its head inside and look around.

“Kitten!” shouted a delighted Mary to her Mother. The call was lost in the din of clanking pots and her Mother’s singing. Mary ran to the door but in doing so scared the kitten. It ran across the yard and into the woods.

“Kitten, come back!” Mary called, and without thinking, ran out the door and into the woods. Soon, Mary was lost.

Realta emerged from the Land Below into a winter wonderland. The snow now covered the ground. Light as a feather, she was able to walk on its surface without leaving a single footprint. As she came around an old tree stump, she was knocked down by a bundle of white fur rushing through the woods. She picked herself up and came face to face with a white kitten with enormous blue eyes.

Frightened, she begged, “Oh, please don’t eat me, kitten!”

Instead of attacking her, the kitten, seeing she wore a crown on her head, replied, “I would never do that Fairy Princess. My deepest apologies, I hope you are not hurt.”
“My name is Realta and I am not hurt, thank you,” Realta replied. “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“My name is Niall, the Magic Leprechaun Kitten. I have done a terrible thing,” Niall said woefully. “I was to go to the McCarty home and endear myself to the young girl, Mary, so she would take me in and give me a home. It’s what we Magic Leprechaun Cats do.”

“What’s so bad about that?” Realta asked.

“When Mary saw me, her cries of delight scared me and I ran off into the woods.” Niall paused, and then added, “Unfortunately, Mary followed me and now she is lost. I fear she will not be found in time.”

“We must hurry and save her, Niall,” Realta declared. “But, as you can see, I have no wings to fly.”

“Hop onto my back and I will carry you,” Niall said.

Realta climbed onto the Niall’s back. Holding onto his furry ruff, she rode him to where he had left Mary. She was nowhere in sight. Now, it was dark. How would they find her?

“Listen,” Niall said. A whimpering cry was coming from just over a small hill. Quickly, he carried them towards the sound. There, huddled under a tree, was Mary. Cautiously, they approached.

Through her tears, Mary thought she saw the white kitten and on its back, a fairy. She’d heard stories of the little people, but they were just stories, she’d been told, not real.

“Please don’t be afraid, Mary” Realta said, softly. “Niall, the Magic Leprechaun Kitten, is sorry he got you lost. We’ve come to help you.”

“I’m so cold,” Mary cried. “I want to go to sleep.”

“No! Mary! You mustn’t go to sleep,” Realta said, urgently, as she jumped from Niall’s back and ran to the stricken child.

Just then, a terrible wailing came from deep in the woods.

“It is the White Lady and the Banshees; they’ve come for the child’s soul.” Realta said the fright evident in her voice. “How can we stop them, we are so small?”

“I will stop them,” Niall said.

As a white mist in the shape of a woman, surrounded by wailing beasts, floated toward them, Niall said, “Realta, stay with Mary.”
Niall is Gaelic for knight, a champion, and so he would be, for a Magic Leprechaun Cat has the power to change his appearance and in the blink of an eye, the kitten became a knight in shining armor with a magic sword powerful enough to send the evil spirits back from where they came. With one swipe of Niall’s magic sword, the evil spirits were gone.

Just then, they could hear people calling Mary’s name. But, they were headed in the wrong direction.

“Oh, if only I could fly,” said Realta, “I could lead them by my fairy light to Mary.”

It was then she heard the voice of her Fairy Godmother, Solas, “You have been brave in the face of great danger, Realta, fly and save the child for I grant you your wings.”

There appeared on Realta’s back a pair of shimmering, gossamer wings.

“Go, Realta, I will stay with Mary and keep her warm,” Niall said, once more a furry white kitten.

And so, Realta flew swiftly through the darkness.

“They must believe in the power of my fairy light to lead them to Mary,” Realta thought silently

“Look there!” Mary’s mother called to her husband, Michael. “I see a fairy light. We must follow it!”

Realta’s light retreated back into the woods, followed by Mary’s parents. As they crossed over the crest of the hill, they heard a kitten mewing loudly. Then, by the light of their lantern, they saw Mary, the white kitten cuddled close to keep her warm. The fairy light was gone.

Mary’s Father carried her home wrapped in warm blankets, the kitten in Mary’s arms.

Magically, Mary had survived without any ill effects, save for a wild story of a Fairy Princess name Realta and a Magic Leprechaun Kitten named Niall.

Once home and with her Mother’s hand to steady hers, Mary lit the candle. Christmas Day the manger would be home to the Holy Family led to the McCarty house by Mary’s candle in the window.

©Finn McCool, the Magic Leprechaun Cat, 2009
Illustrations by Cheyenne Booker – All rights reserved
First published by


  1. July 1st, 2010

    I can’t believe that nobody has commented on this story. I first read it in one of Floyd’s monthly stories (last year or the year before)and just loved it. I found Finn McCool’s page on Facebook today and it led me (with a few asides)to this story. It is a magical story for a magical season. Thank you.

  2. Doe
    November 22nd, 2010

    Love the story and the artwork brings it to life! Thank you for sharing!
    Happy Holidays and blessings to all! May we always remember why we celebrate Christmas!

  3. Jan
    December 23rd, 2010

    Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful stories you have written. The artwork is so beautiful and a wonderful addition to your magical words. My kindergarten children love hearing your stories….they add a bit of magic to all seasons!

  4. December 23rd, 2010

    To all who leave coments…thank you. They mean so much to us.

Leave a reply