Thursday, October 29, 2009

Faerie tree's

There is a fairy tree opposite where I grew up and I have always been fascinated about it as a child growing up. That faerie tree is a Hawthorn tree and there is a tradition in Ireland that a single Hawthorn  growing in the middle of a field is a faerie tree, as the Hawthorn was seen in Celtic mythology as a gateway to the otherworld. I know from the picture that it looks like two trees but its all from the one root.
Irish faeries or 'Sidhe' in Irish, differ completely to the Hollywood vision of Leprechauns, they are not all small, dress in green and are cute with an Oirish accent. There are also many different types of  faerie or little people, some of them are good and some not so good, that and more  I will get into another time.
I was told when I was very small that if I wanted to see the faeries and get their gold I had to go to the tree at midnight. But I was to be very careful, as they are cunning magical beings and would trick me with their magic and I would be left without my pot of gold and could be dragged off to their world in the morning. I remember trying to stay awake until  midnight when I was five or six but I always fell asleep before my parents went to bed, once I did make it to the front door one night in my pyjamas after my parents had gone to bed, but was foiled by the height of the front door latch.  But you just cannot just arrive at the tree at midnight with one hand as long as the other*, you have to come armed with a hand-made three legged stool made from an Ash three. When I was young I had not the means to make myself such a stool and by the time I would have been able to fashion a stool I had gone past the stage of believing in faeries.
It is bad luck to cut down a faerie tree or damage it in any way, it is said that you will never know a good nights sleep again for the rest of your life.  The ill fated DeLorean car company that was the iconic symbol of the 1980's was built in a factory on a plot of ground where a faerie tree was said to stood. The tree was cut down to make way for the factory and folklorists contend that this is the reason for the companies failure, nothing at all to do with its finances or dodgy owner. More recently the Ennis bypass was delayed for a number of years due to a faerie tree on the chosen path of the moterway, the road eventually opened going around the faerie tree. This tree was said to be the meeting point of the faeries when they were on their travels, it was fenced off and the roadworks continued, but the poor faeries still have to cross a motorway.
* 'One hand as long as the other' is a way of saying , coming empty handed, as in if you had something in one hand it would not be as long as the other ;-).


Anonymous said...

Love this post <3 Reminds me of an article I read by a Norwegian folklorist who compared Irish and Norwegian faery belief. I'll see if I can dig it up and scan it if you're interested.

Have you read anything by Orla Melling by the way? She writes young adult books and uses a lot of these stories in her plots. Brilliant ones, particularly the one called Hunter's Moon.

Paz said...

glad you like it, please scan that for me. you read a folklorist story about an underage kid in his pyjamas what sort of sicko is he ;D.
BTW faerie stories are similar all over western Europe and never read Orla Melling, but when checking up histories on stories I have heard I came across the reference of hunters moon