The Crock of Gold (unabridged)

Audio Sample

James Stephens

The Crock of Gold

Read by Gerry O'Brien


One of the great novels in the Irish comic tradition, The Crock of Gold (1912) consists of six parts. Bringing together pagan gods, policemen, prisoners, leprechauns and animals, the narrative concerns a philosopher and his quest to find the most beautiful woman in the world, Cáitilin Ni Murrachu, who has been abducted by the god Pan. His journey takes him from dark forests to the spectacular heights of pagan gods, as he experiences encounters that will change him forever.

With its unique combination of philosophy and Irish folklore, The Crock of Gold is full of humour, its central themes including the battle of the sexes and the difference between men and women.

The Times – Audiobook of the Week
  • Running Time: 5 h 46 m

    Download PDF booklet

    More product details
    Digital ISBN:978-1-78198-437-6
    Cat. no.:NA0572
    Produced by:Neil Rosser
    Edited by:Timothy Brown
    Released:March 23
  • Listen to this title at

    Listen to this title at the Naxos Spoken Word Library

Due to copyright, this title is not currently available in your region.

You May Also Enjoy

Audiobook of the Week

In these days of over-hyped and over-performed audiobook disappointments, hurrah for Naxos, the company that resurrects the great books of the past and takes pains to choose appropriate narrators, get pronunciations right and remove multiple takes of the same line that lazy producers sometimes miss.

I had never heard of The Crock of Gold (1912) or of James Stephens (1880–1950); I now know that The Crock of Gold is a fey miracle of satiric humour that frolics along thanks to Gerry O’Brien’s lilting, gusto-filled narration, and that Stephens was a friend of James Joyce, who in 1909 called him ‘the latest Irish genius’ and asked him to finish Finnegans Wake if he couldn’t.

Born in the Dublin slums and committed for begging to the Meath Reform School, Stephens made good – drinking up Irish culture and producing a succession of acclaimed novels and stories. The Crock of Gold is the tale of two wise philosophers, their two wiser wives who hail from the fairy Shee, and their two children, to say nothing of a coven of angry leprechauns in search of their stolen crock of gold and, dancing over all, the great gods Pan and Aengus Og. There are plenty of funny lines and much memorable wisdom. I hope Naxos will record Stephens’s Irish Fairy Tales next.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Gerry O’Brien brings a pleasant, slightly scratchy voice and a soft Irish accent to Stephens’s fantasy, first published in 1912. It’s the story of an unworldly philosopher, his wife – who is one of the fairy folk of Ireland – two gods, leprechauns, a naked maiden, and some blundering policemen. The tone and mood vary greatly in this disjointed work, but O’Brien matches and expresses them throughout. He takes advantage of the opportunities to act, adding emphasis, even passion where the story calls for it, without exaggeration or showiness. He also heightens slightly the Irish accents of the dialogue as compared to the narrative. As important as his acting skill is, his good-natured, thoughtful, and amiable manner makes him a fine companion for Stephens’s comically philosophical musing, and amusing, ramble.

W.M., AudioFile

One of Irish writer Stephens’s three original novels, this work was written in 1912 and is available through a new Naxos recording. Comprising six parts, the novel follows a philosopher seeking Cáitilin Ni Murrachu, the most beautiful woman in the world, who was rumored to have been abducted by the god Pan. Veteran Irish narrator Gerry O’Brien provides expert characterizations for the characters – the philosopher, his wife Cáitilin Ni Murrachu, and two gods. Listeners will delight in O’Brien’s lively tone and will likely appreciate hearing his accurate pronunciations of Irish words and names. Although the philosophical nature of this novel may have some questioning the overall plot, Stephens’s lush descriptions of nature make for a peaceful listen. This ground-breaking work showcases the relationships between men and women, humans and gods, and fantastical creatures like leprechauns. Running throughout all six books is the question of what makes women beautiful and what makes people happy. VERDICT: Although this 1912 novel offers phrases and ideas that may seem out of sync with modern times, listeners will relish the opportunity to ponder life’s questions while enjoying elaborate descriptions of the Irish countryside, read in O’Brien’s lilting voice. An excellent addition to any audio classics collection.

Amber Wessies, Library Journal

Recently viewed

See more Classic Fiction

NAB Articles