Selkie Cove

Around ten years ago, I had been working in the UK and during a break I decided to go on a short tour of the north of Scotland.

I had stayed overnight at Durness (a wonderful little village with some amazingly rustic buildings) and decided to head out early the next morning for some sightseeing.  This was in September, the weather had been much nicer than I expected, with most days warm (although overcast), and little of the rain I feared.

On my drive I happened to arrive at a roadside beach and selected this spot for a walk as the sun was to rise.  I parked on the side of the road in the pre-dawn light and after a few minutes in the car I set out walking to the beach.  The sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean were lovely in the cool morning air.

I walked around 200 yards towards the rocks on the left of the beach and realized that I could hear the soft sound of laughter, singing and playful shouts coming from further around the rocks.  This was a little confusing, as I thought I would be alone at this hour of the morning, and I didn’t see any houses close to this spot.  I also felt a little uneasy about it for some reason not obvious at the time.

I was told that the beaches around here were open to the public, and there were many walking trails, so I was confident that I was not encroaching on a private gathering.  As I grew closer, I was sure the voices were mostly (if not all) female.  I, perhaps naively, doubted I was in any danger as I am a fairly large man.  My only concern was that I may scare the people, yet despite this I wanted to see around the rocks and discover who had gathered so early on the beach.

Strangely, as I drew closer to the large rock outcrop that barred my view of the group around the small cove, the sound of their activity quieted to almost no noise.

The only sound were the waves, the wind, and some splashing of frolicking in the water.

A few seconds later I cleared the rocks and I finally had a view of the small beach.

To my confusion I noticed no people on the sand.  The only company that greeted me were some 15 or so grey seals, of various sizes.  Most were watching me from the safety of the water, while others swam further out into the bay.  While they were a lovely sight to behold in the early morning light, I was more curious as to the location of the people who were here.  I stood and looked about the small cove area and I saw no people or evidence that people had been here.

I decided to walk into the area and I sat down on the rocks to watch the sun rise over the ocean.  As I relaxed there, the seals swam away and I was left to my own thoughts.

It was maybe half an hour later that, in the light of the sun, I noticed the fresh footprints in the sand all around me.  It was the ones in front of me I examined first, they were smaller than my own feet so I believed they were from a young woman.

There were many prints around… some quite small (obviously children) and none appeared to be as large as my own foot prints.  The prints all appeared to come up from the water, and return to the water, with the waves quickly destroying the evidence of their passing.

I thought about it and I am not sure of what I saw… I admit it was still a little dark when I looked at the seals, yet I am sure that they were not people.  They were quiet large and grey, with no human hair or faces.  Yet I could not explain this.  I started to feel a sense of unease and I decided it would be better to go on about my day.  I quickly put it behind me and continued my day tour. 

That night, when I returned to my lodging, I mentioned my morning adventure to the landlady.

She drew quiet on my questions about the disappearing people and advised me not to talk to people about my experience.

She told me that I had encountered a group of Selkies, and that I should count myself lucky no misfortune had occurred to me.

Since then, I have always kept my experience a secret, only now telling you about it as I trust I will not be mocked.  I often wonder why I stopped at that beach and whether I sensed their presence or if it was just a coincidence.

Blair – U.S.

69 – Selkie Tales & a (true) Folklore Love Story: with special guests Tom and Rhonda Muir

selkie by katharine soutar
by Katharine Soutar. From orkneyology.com

On this week’s episode, we are joined by two very special guests: Storyteller and Author Tom Muir and Author of orkneyology.com, Rhonda Muir.

orkney stromness harbour (2)
Stromness Harbour, Orkney. From orkneyology.com

Tom and Rhonda are passionate about preserving old Orcadian lore and sharing the joy of storytelling with others and both share a particular interest, and affection, for the glorious Selkie.

tom and rhonda muir (2)
Tom and Rhonda Muir from orkneyology.com

Tom shares a few classic Selkie tales with us, and we discover just how powerful folklore is in connecting people: over generations, beyond cultures, and even across vast oceans.

So, if you love a good love story, buckle up, because you’re in for a treat: a thoroughly modern, true love story steeped in the luscious backdrop of Orkney Folklore.

PRIZE GIVEAWAY orkney folk tales book cover

Would you like to win a copy of Tom’s book ‘Orkney Fairy Tales’?

In this beautifully illustrated book, Tom shares ancient tales told fireside by the Picts and Vikings of fin folk, mermaids, witches and selkies and more.

Encounters with the Good People is giving away a copy of Tom’s wonderful book and winning has never been easier!

To enter this book giveaway, simply tell me which member of the Good People is your favourite, or which Faerie you find the most interesting. So, it might not be a friendly helpful faerie, it might be the one you would least like to encounter, but I would love to know which Faerie you find most interesting and why.

Simply send me a quick message. You can email me, leave a message on my website, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: whatever suits you best. Everyone who shares their favourite Faerie with me goes in the draw to win a copy of Tom’s book ‘Orkney folk tales’.

So get thinking and get typing, I can’t wait to hear from you. Giveaway closes on Friday 22nd May. Winner announced on Monday 25th May.

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Fancy buying me a coffee? tea7

If you enjoy Encounters with the Good People and would like to give me a hand to continue in this work, please consider buying me a ‘coffee’ (I prefer tea actually…).

This is a really quick, simple and safe way for you to donate and support my work. Simply click on the ‘Buy me a coffee icon on my website and you will be helping to create and produce ‘Encounters with the Good People’ Podcast and YouTube videos.

All support is greatly appreciated. Cheers, Kitty.

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Fancy more Encounters with the Good People?

Did you know you can experience ‘Encounters with the Good People’ on video?

Dan and I are lovingly producing videos for each of our Podcast episodes. You can find them on our YouTube channel. We upload a new one regularly. If you enjoy our videos, please Like, Subscribe and Share with like-minded folk.

For a daily peek at modern and historical encounters with the Good People, plus loads of great links, conversation starters and otherwise hard-to-find information on the Good People, visit Kitty’s Facebook page:

Or, for a dose of Faerie on the go, drop into Kitty’s ‘Faerie Lucky Dip’ over at Instagram and Twitter. Kitty posts once a day and you never know what you might get. Faerie top tips, fun facts, art, poems, and short tales.

Do you have your own tale of a Faerie sighting or encounter?
Perhaps you have your own story to share?

Kitty would love to hear from you and share your tale on our website.

Our website is bursting with true, and amazing, tales of encounters with the Good People from folk all over the world. You’re sure to find a tale there to get you thinking… Thanks to everyone who has shared their own experiences with us so far. www.encounterswiththegoodpeople.com

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Podcast Credits

Edited by Magic Dan

Theme Music:
‘Irish Coffee’ by Giorgio di Campo

Additional Music:
‘‘Old Soul’ and ‘Dancers in the Fire’ by Jonny Easton.
‘Happy Farmer’ by Chiro.

West Scotland Silkie

This is such a curious tale. I’m so pleased that the story of the ‘Portrush Selkie’, here in this collection, served to remind Em from Belfast of this story about her Granny. And that she shared it with us!!! – Kitty.

waves

I was reading the post about the ‘Portrush Selkie’ and it reminded me of something.

chair

Years ago, I would have been in my early twenties, my aunt and I were going through my Granny’s things after she passed.

She used to wear this old overcoat and floppy hat, every day (whenever I see that show Vera I laugh coz she reminds me of my Granny), she’d go out walking along the coast road or along the shoreline in that hat and coat.

In the pocket of the overcoat was a small tatty notebook and worn down pencil.

And inside the notebook were loads of this scribbling.

It took me a minute to figure out her writing but turned out she was keeping a sort of log of sightings she was making of what she called a Silkie.

The notes went back a bit, about 5 years before she died but stopped about 6 months before she died. I suppose that was when she stopped walking.

seals 4

She made comments about where she saw the Silkie, what the weather was like on the day, how many people were about and what it was doing and what mood she thought it was in!

You know like, happy, melancholy, playful, agitated. She even wrote ‘aroused’ in one entry.

(Don’t ask me how she knew it was aroused.)

Seems like most of the sightings were on or around this outcrop of black rocks. I know the place. black rocks

It has this broad overhang over the rocks and not a cave as such but a sort of nook in it. I’m in Ireland now, and this on the west coast of Scotland.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since reading the story of the Portrush Selkie. I  might even go up there for a visit.

Anyhow, my Aunt was really interested in the notebook too and ended up taking it with her. I wish now i’d asked to keep it.

I was wondering if anyone else has heard of a Silkie on the west coast of Scotland?

Em – Belfast.

If you, or someone you know, has any knowledge of Silkie dwelling on the west coast of Scotland, please let us know. I’m sure many of us would be very curious for any information or photos of the area Em’s Granny took her walks…

 

 

The Portrush Selkie

Thank you for your interest in my Father’s story. I’ll just explain how I came to have it.

My Father was a traveling man, he was known as The Grey. My Mother was a settled woman. They both tried each other’s way of living but neither could manage it for more than a few months at a time. So, when I was around 6 years old, Mother and I went our own way, settling in Cornwall with her family while Father took to the road. We saw him from time to time, but he rarely came this far south.

A few months ago, a traveling family known to us paid a visit with the sad news my Father had died. They gave us his few belongings and I was surprised to find Father had been writing an account of his life. In mind, I think, to publish. It would have been a colorful read, and there are several tales of him crossing paths with the Little People.

There is one in particular I want to share with you because it seems to be one Faerie rarely mentioned when discussing the Little People.

Well I’ll give you Father’s story exactly as he had it drafted in his notes. Of course, he didn’t write it himself, a friend would have helped him with that, but it sounds like his voice good enough.

Anyway, you are welcome to share his words. Who know, one day I might make a book of his notes.

John – Cornwall

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The year was 1966. I spent the good part of the summer and autumn working out of a pub there in Portrush (Northern Ireland). It is a fishing town ye know, and me regulars were fishing men. Twas a rough sort of place, not a place for tourists if ye get me meaning. Well i ran the bar and broke up the fights, but there weren’t many of them anyway. The job paid, and left me days to free and that suited me well enough.

I’m not one for going out on the sea meself, I prefer me feet on the ground, but often turned me ear toward the talk of the fishing men, for they were never short of a line or two.

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Well I heard manys the tale over that stained bar, and most I couldnae repeat for fear of of offending some one or another, then there are those I have long forgotten altogether, but a few I remember right well and are worth the repeating.

Ye see, from time to time, the fishing men would turn their talk to the woman of the water who dwelled at Portrush Head out there. The Selkie.

selkie freeimages (3)

One day, I heard this between two fishing men…

“I saw Herself today”

“Ah, ye did”

“She turned me round well enough”

“She turned ye round, aye she did”

“Just clear o’the harbour, She crossed me bow 3 times there”

“Not wanting ye to see open water, so?”

“Aye”

“After I’d gone out was it?”

“Aye ye were in the deep by then”

“Ye turned yerself back then”

“Aye, that I did”

I’d need both me hands to count the times I heard this conversation. The fishing men were familiar with Selkie and held that if She crossed yer path, that is yer bow, 3 times it meant ‘turn yer boat around and get yer feet on dry land’.

Twas a warning of sorts. Not that they feared Herself, not a jot of that, no, they were fond of Herself, but believed She knew if bad luck would befall them in the deep water and so at every corner, did heed her warning and stay dry that day.

They would only speak of Herself among each other mind, only among the fishing men. If a brickie or a farming man walked in the door they’d shut up quick shot. But they didn’t seem to mind me listening in, sure wasn’t I pouring their drinks anyway.

They said other things about Her too, that if ye caught Her playful she would come alongside the boat and squeal in delight as She swam through the wash, but not any boat. She had her favorites.

There were a handful o’boats out of Portrush She had no regard for at all. It was said if She saw a fishing boat take more than their share from the sea, or creatures from the water that were too small for taking, well bad luck would follow them until such time her temper cooled.

There was this one day, the fishing men came in early. They’d been drinking for hours before I got to the pub meself. All the boats had gone out that morning and why wouldn’t they? It was a clear, bright morning as I remember it meself. No sign of a Selkie warning. But not an hour out to sea, Herself appears, singing a loud, wailing song byside each boat before swimming swift onto the next.

Well, some took heed, those fellas telling the story o’course, and turned for safety of the harbor. Others couldnae see the warning for the coin ye see, and ignored Her. Didn’t a mighty storm blow up in the same hour and smash one of the boats to bits. The others who ignored Her made it back to safety of harbor but with boats battered for their trouble.

Three dead so they told me, and wishing it weren’t so with every jar.

“She told em”menacing-clouds-1312090 (2)

“She did that”

“She could do no more”

“She could not”

“They know, the fairy folk…”

“Aye, they know well enough”

Well there was a great sadness for a time and the fishing men didnae mention Selkie for weeks after. I asked em one night, how was Herself and I tell ye, it were like getting teeth pulled, getting them to talk.

“She hasnae come by, since the storm”

“But we’ve heard Her”

“Aye, we’ve heard Her well enough, singing from yonder rocks”

“Broken hearted She sounds”

“None can say they don’t care for us, the fairy folk”

“None who know, can say that”

I cannae say if those fellas told their families about Selkie, and how She took care of the fishing folk, but about a week after that they were back chatting about Her again. She was out with the boats, swimming byside and having a lark.

And their spirits were lifted. They were fond of Her and no doubt.

The Grey.