Fairies’ homes dotting the landscape

A ringfort in Kilclone townland

Ireland’s landscape is dotted with remnants from earlier inhabits of the isle. Evidence has been found of human activity 8000 years ago from a hunter-gatherer settlement in Ireland and there may be earlier evidence still for human occupation. [ref] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35863186 [/ref] So even to someone living in the middle ages, there would have been thousands of generations of people who had inhabited the landscape before.                 Without access to the tools of modern day archeology, what were people supposed to think of these distant signs of people before them?                 Ireland is littered with the remnants of old ringforts. These were fortifications used during the iron and bronze ages, up to around 1000 AD. Circular in structure, they consisted of a raised hill surrounded by a wooden palisade with ditches around the outside. [ref] https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/fairy-forts-why-these-sacred-places-deserve-our-respect-1.3181259 [/ref] A small ringfort would be used by a farmer to protect his family and his lifestock, while a chieftan would have a huge ringfort to protect a village.                 Now all that can be seen of these long ago defenses are contoured circular rises. They are covered in grass, but are too prominent to be dismissed as naturally occurring. To a people far distanced… Continue reading

House spirits


In Germany they speak of kobolds, in Denmark, nisses, in Scotland and the north of England, brownies. [ref] The Fairy Mythology, by Thomas Keightley 1892 pg 200 [/ref] It seems nearly every European culture has a similar house spirit. If the spirit was kept happy they would generally be helpful in small ways, such as keeping the house clean. In the cases of brownies, it was recommended to place a small offering of milk in a corner, or when brewing beer to leave a small part of the wort for the brownie to partake of. If however, the house spirit was offended, they would make trouble, though again, usually in small ways. In a Midsummer’s Nights Dream by William Shakespeare, the character Puck is described at one stage as a hobgoblin, and is accused of the following mischief.  “…bootless make the breathless housewife churn; And sometime make the drink to bear no barm; Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?” [ref] Midsummer nights dream, by William Shakespeare [/ref] So basically, he makes people not be able to churn butter properly, or brew beer properly, or makes them get lost at night and laughs at their misfortune. So, it’s like having a… Continue reading