Cross in the River

My name is Ann. I am 17 and I live in Ulster.

I haven’t told anyone this before (and my name isn’t even Ann) but I wanted to tell someone about a weird thing that is happening.

I like to hang out in these woods near my home. There’s a wee river runs through there and I usually just sit and sketch and listen to music. A few times I noticed some strange sounds around, but the woods are full of weird sounds and animals so I just ignored it.

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Then one day, it was in the autumn, I was sitting at a cross in the river, a place where it splits into two. There are three massive stones which turn the river and I was sitting atop one of them. I heard laughing, quiet like, then felt something brush against me, not hard but it knocked the pencil from my hand into the river. There was more laughing, I looked around but there was nothing there.

So I packed up and got the hell out of there and didn’t go back for a while. Then I had an idea. At the spot where the river splits, there are tall, dense trees and I climbed up and waited. Nothing happened. So I went back the next day, same thing. No weird sounds, no laughter or rustling. Then the third time, I was sat up there about 20 minutes when it happened.

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I heard chatter, and laughter but distant. Not distant far away, but quiet. Like the volume was turned down. Then it quickly got louder. I could make out 6 different voices talking. But they weren’t speaking English, although I picked up a few words in English. It was more like they were talking a few languages, all bunched together. I’m not certain, but there could have been some Irish or Nordic (my Dad watches those Nordic shows on tv).

The voices were really close now and when I looked down at the river and woods below me I could see movement and splashing, but not any real form of anyone. I called out ‘Who’s all there?” and it went silent. They were gone.

That was yesterday. I went back today and sat on the big rock again and waited and within 10 minutes they were back. Same thing. Quiet voices. I sat still and sort of whispered ‘Hello’. The water splashed in front of me as though several big people had jumped off the other big stones, then they started singing. 3 voices. They sounded like a chorus of birds, but real quiet and each singing a different song to the other. It was weird.

That’s all I remember. I woke up on the grass at the base of the big stone. I don’t know how long I’d lay there but everything was ok. Nothing bad happened. I called for them but they were gone. The song was real nice though. I’m pretty sure I’ll go back.

Anyway, searched for anyone talking about special places, you know where the other folk might hang out and found ‘thin places’. Now I’m wondering if the cross in my river is a thin place.

I can’t talk to my Dad or brother about it, they’ll think I’m taking the piss. Does anyone know much about it, or been around a thin place when the good folk are around? Is it safe?

Ann – Ulster

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A note from Kitty.

I have received some interesting information for Ann via Reddit on whether it is safe to return to the place of her encounter, and also some advice on what to do if she does choose to return. Many thanks to everyone for your input.

From Krakenwaffles: I’ve been doing some research lately for a project. Basically, leave the fairies alone, especially if you are already losing time. Fairyland exists out of our time and a few minutes there can last for years. (See the poem The Fairies by Allingham.) Fairies can give you amazing gifts, but they have a cost and often fairies just want to mess with people.

According to Kipling in Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) if there are many fairies around, the people nearby will get sick.

Fairies are capricious. They can reward humans they like but sometimes they want to keep those humans and replace them with changelings. Do not ever eat anything they give you and do not mess with their land (Glassie, Irish Folktales, 1985).

According to Yeats (Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland, 1888) fairies are fallen angels. They possess every charm but conscience. Good to the good, evil to the evil. Quickly offended but easily pleased by simple things. Listening to their music can drive you mad. Do not ever join in their songs! If you can’t improve the music somehow they will harm you. They can give magic healing knowledge to humans but this involves the humans being taken to fairyland for years.

According to Beveridge, Children into Swans (2014) thin places are surrounded by mist. It’s not wise to go into the mist because you might cross the border into fairyland.

You might come out ahead if they really like you and are being nice. Fairies can be amazing if they want to. But it would be a huge risk.

Whether or not you believe in fairies, this is what the sources say.

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From Darth_Bfheidir : I’m not a believer, but my mother always said to carry “iron from the earth to banish misfortune”, but what “iron from the earth” means I don’t know. I assume it means unwrought iron.

She also said that an offering of cake or bread is suppose to placate them so they take the bread instead of messing with the person.

Of course the girl in question could always do what you’re supposed to do and stay away, there is a reason these places are marked.

*

 

From BabydollValentine: I know hardly anything about fairies because I’ve just begun this journey.

I read her story and what the fae were doing didn’t seem malicious to me. Just playing and messing with her a bit. Kinda strange she woke up by a big rock tho.

If she decides to keep going back perhaps she could bring a small gift or treat like some cream??

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From BluePaws: A cold forged iron bell could work. If they appear again or you hear them, ring the bell and hopefully they will leave but if they don’t leave some sugar close to where they are, but not too close.

If that doesn’t work find somewhere else, better if that place doesn’t have any lakes, rivers, etc.

 

Playing with Pond Faerie

This is a story which my father has told me about my childhood. I was too young to remember any of the details so I will be relying on my father’s veracity, yet he isn’t a man prone to fantasy.

The incident occurred when I was a young child… possibly around 6 years of age. I was a blonde, curly haired, boy who wasn’t one for wandering.

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We were on a family picnic at a large park. The park was kind of in the country, but not too far from town. There were various areas of trees and bushes, as well as many ponds of green tinged water. There were other families about, but they were doing their own things away from us.

At some point I had gone for a wander to play and my parents paid me little attention until they noticed I had been gone for a while. Despite this, they were not too worried, we were in the country and it wasn’t a very populated area.

After a while, my father noticed I had been gone for some time and decided to go look for me. He wandered about the park and didn’t see me with any of the other children. He walked round and round without finding any trace of me. Apparently, he was starting to get a little worried, yet he was sure I was still there somewhere… he told me he was thinking that I was just hiding from him.

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He walked to the edge of one of the ponds and listened, to hear if he could find me. While he listened, he looked down at the water and noticed an odd bright green plant a short distance under the water. The plant appeared strange to him and something about it peaked his curiosity.

For a reason he can’t explain, he got down on his knees and reached into the water, and grasped the bright green plant.

He pulled the plant out and as it started to emerge, he realised it wasn’t a plant, it was my hair which he had grasped.

He lifted me into the air and I just looked at him calmly, then he put me on the grass and I sat down peacefully. He stared at me in shock and asked me what happened. In my childish language I told him that I was playing with some other children. They told me to follow them into the water and I was playing with them there, under the water.

The weirdest thing about this story is that I was sitting on the bottom of the pond for several minutes. I wasn’t hurt in any way and when I emerged I was calm and acted as though nothing traumatic had happened.

Danny – County Kerry

Her Fairy Garden

When my sister and I were kids, I’m a few years older than her anyway, she had one half of the back garden set up like a fairy wonderland.

My Ma and Dad helped her. Dad built a little fairy house, so small ‘only fairies could fit inside’ and a little pond next to it with frogs and fish and special plants that attracted birds.

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Ma gave her potted plants to decorate and hung tiny lights up between trees. My sister would also string up those little crisp packets. This was the early 80’s and everyone was doing it. You’d stick your empty crisp packets in the oven until they shrink to a tiny size. Well, she’d do this, then string the tiny colourful crisp packs up on the lower branches of bushes near the fairy house. She said the fairies loved them.

Anyway, she’d be out there all hours, her feet and fingernails always covered in dirt. I was only allowed to kick my football on the other side of the garden and woe me if it ventured onto her side (as it did from time to time…).

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I remember my mates and me watching her tend to the plants, sweeping leaves from around the fairy house and piling them up to make her own fairy fort, all the while talking to the fairies. We just laughed, thought she was mad.

When I got jack of her and her fairies taking up half the garden, Ma would always tell me they made her happy, and she made them happy. “They favour her”, she would say, “and don’t say a word against it… or them!”

This went on for years, well into her late teen years when she moved away to study. The fairy house and pond are long gone, but when she comes back to visit Ma and Dad, she still goes out and tidies the leaves and hangs a few ribbons or bells off the trees or plants a flower, then she’ll sit on the bench and talk to her ‘fairies’. After all this time, it is still really important to her.

Anyway, I recently got to thinking, my sister has what most would call a ‘charmed life’. She’s the kind of person whose toast lands butter side up if you get my meaning. Her life isn’t perfect but she is lucky. If she buys a raffle ticket, she wins. When she goes for job, she gets it. She’s always been lucky. Not long after getting her first car, the brakes failed and she ran off the road at speed, the car rolled and was a write-off, but she didn’t have a scratch on her. No word of a lie, not a scratch.

My sister is the sweetest person I’ve ever known, honestly, to know her is to love her. She always wears this look, like a crooked smile, as though she has a secret, that people find so charming. And I don’t know what I’m saying, but after all this time, now I’m older, I wonder if she has always had a secret.

Name withheld at request – Dublin.

Faerie Muse?

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I don’t know if this is really Faerie related or not but I’ll tell you anyway.

You know they say that some people have been ‘touched’ by the Wee Folk? Well I’ve often wondered if I saw it in action.

I’ve been to loads of concerts and seen Christy Moore many times, solo, with Sinnot, Lunny and Planxty too, and every performance was memorable but there was this one time something happened I’ll never forget.

It was a normal rowdy crowd, a few hundred, half-torn and well up for the night. Moore walks out on stage, unassuming as always, with his guitar in hand, and I swear, the air was sucked out of the whole room.

The crowd to a one, gasped, as though God or William Wallace or a wailing Banshee herself had walked on stage.

And so they were, mesmerized and silent for a good 7 seconds and he looked more than a wee surprised himself. Of course, he kicked in some banter and the crowd breathed again, all at once. Yelling and clapping began and the night took off, but what had happened was, well the best word I can use is ‘unnatural’.

No offence to Christy but he’s an ordinary looking fella, so it wasn’t his looks took our collective breath away. I’ve often wondered what the hell happened that night.

So, if you believe the Wee Folk occasionally act as muse and single out a Human for special attention, maybe take a closer look at Christy Moore.

Grant – Glasgow

The Night Grandad saw Banshee

So as a younger man my Grandad saw a Banshee. It was his ‘ghost story’ he told me but I didn’t realise that he actually believed it, or that it was true.

He was the most skeptical person I ever knew. His name in the bible is after the non-believer. He was a such a skeptic, it was almost shocking as he was a good Catholic. But to the day he died he swears he saw her.

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He was walking a country road late one evening, he was from Dublin but outside the city back then everywhere was countryside, the suburbs weren’t really established then.

That’s when he saw her, a beautiful dark haired woman crying and combing out her long hair just sitting on an old boundary wall for a field. He was terrified because Banshees are death omens.

From what I can remember he was so scared he ran back the way he came.

I know back when I was a child I asked him who died but he said he prayed for her and no one died.

Niamh – Ireland

Graveyard Visit

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Me and a friend are avid historians. We sort of like old historical monuments. I live in a city (Waterford) where there are many old historical features castles, city walls, burial grounds, ruins, churches etc.

One summer me and my friend decided to check out some old graveyards. We were mostly using Google maps to find the places. Many of these were in secluded areas, so we were relying on aerial photographs.

One of these was in quite a remote area. I think it was a famine graveyard from Ireland’s “Great Hunger”, or at least some of the victims may have been buried there, so it it’s very likely it may have actually pre-dated this period.

We ventured in and we are waist-deep in nettles, weeds, and grass. The writings on the headstones were indecipherable. As we left this graveyard we were met by the landowner. Now, he didn’t mind us being in there as we explained we were just interested in the historical element of the graveyard. We had a long conversation about the place.

The way he spoke about the place was sort of eerie. He said that there were bodies under an area new road was built over. For some reason he also talked about a fairy bush. He believed that some workers who had interfered with this fairy bush had succumbed to horrible accidents shortly after trying to remove the fairy bush.

He seemed genuine in his conviction.

The man had grown up in the area and had lived there all his life. He had a reverence for the land he lived on and an utmost respect for the dead that lived just a stones throw from his house.

Rob – Waterford

A Faerie Father

I have an Aunty who believes her daughter, my cousin, was fathered by a Faerie.

The story goes, when she was 16 Aunty disappeared for a week and when she got back home, she was pregnant.

Mam says my grandparents were livid and told everyone outside the family that she went over to England with a pal on a shopping trip and was ‘taken advantage of’, by an English scoundrel, but Aunty tells a different story.

She says she remembers it well. It was broad daylight on the day of the Summer solstice and she was walking home from the bus-stop with two bags of groceries, when she heard some music coming from a nearby ringed fort.

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She says she was smart enough not to go near the music but remembers stopping on the road just to listen.

Next thing she knows, she’s walking in the front door a week later and sick as a parrot.

The whole pregnancy was woeful and she was sent to hospital a handful of times in a dire state. Anyway, my cousin was born early but perfect, and so she has always been.

If it were me I’d probably be pissed with everyone thinking me Da was a Faerie, but it doesn’t bother my cousin at all. She just laughs.

Name withheld at request – County Roscommon

The May Magpie

I have enjoyed reading about other people’s experiences with fairy of Ireland and wanted to share my story too, although it’s not really about me at all.

In May 1992, I stayed 4 weeks at a Bed & Breakfast in far north Donegal. I won’t trouble you with the reason for my extended stay, suffice to say I departed a better man than had arrived.

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I want to tell you about Nora, my host at the B&B. She has been in my thoughts lately, as I have come to realize she probably saved my life.

Nora ran her house with the routine of a drill sergeant and expected absolute courtesy from her guests. She fed me three times a day, insisted I hike at least once a day (regardless of the weather) and dragged more ‘pleases’ and ‘thankyous’ from me in those 4 weeks than my Mom had managed in 20 years! But she was by no means a hard woman. She had a soft spot for troubled souls like me and… she believed in fairies.

I arrived in Donegal in early May. The one month in the year so Nora told me, you are most likely to be stolen or attacked by a fairy. Though I never (knowingly) saw one myself, according to Nora her garden was teeming with them.

She spoke to them, and about them, politely, as though they were distant relations but there was one that caused her constant worry. The May Magpie.magpie-1332420 (2).jpg

According to Nora, a lone magpie in May is a disagreeable fairy in disguise with a mind to cause you harm.

And she had one in her garden.

There it is as every year before,” she said as she set breakfast to the table in the sunroom (which overlooked the garden), “come to test me. I’ll be keeping the cat inside til June now, hope you’re not allergic”.

She had a tight smile on her lips and a keen eye on the magpie as she spoke. “If you slight the May magpie, it will bring a world of trouble to your door the likes you had never known”.

I had to stifle my young self from laughing as Nora assured me she could handle the fairies and knew how to appease the May magpie.

And so, for the next 4 weeks I watched. Every morning, after serving my breakfast, Nora ventured into the garden to greet the waiting May magpie.

She bowed her head in greeting and spoke a familiar word or two.

Good day to you, and isn’t it a fine one?” or “You are looking well yourself” she would say.

And every day after serving my lunch, she would venture back into the garden, make a little small talk and leave a bowl of Guinness for it to drink.

They say there’s a change coming from the West now”.

And would never think of hitting the sack without checking in… “I’m off out after tea, so I’ll bid you goodnight” she once hollered from the backdoor.

One day I even heard her give the May magpie the time, “It’s a quarter past the midday now” she said as she pinned washing on the line.

That lone May magpie, at least for the month of May, was treated as Nora’s most revered and dare I say, feared, guest. I can only wonder what might have happened if Nora had displeased the May magpie for no matter how I tried, she would never venture into that conversation.

I have seen and done many things in my life that are best forgotten, but memories of Nora and her May magpie have never left me. In fact, the words Nora told me back then, ring just as true today.

A kind word goes a long way” she said, “it just wants you to acknowledge it. To say I see you. You have no need to harm me nor I you. Let us live byside each other in peace.That is all we need tell any of the fairies”.

Even now, after all these years, I still think about the fairies in Ireland and still nod my regards to a lone magpie.

Just in case.

Daniel – Philadelphia

Edinburgh Orb

This is a story from Scotland but I figure Scottish and Irish Faeries are like cousins, right? So I’ll tell you anyway.

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One night, not so long ago, me and a mate booked into a hotel in Edinburgh. We were in town to watch the Hibernian v Dundee game at Easter Stadium and didn’t fancy the drive home after, you know. The game wasn’t worth writing about (nil all draw) and we hit the town after.

So the boozer closed and we were well soused and found a van for a bite to eat and set off for the hotel. For the life of us, we couldn’t remember the name of our hotel or where it was. So we started walking and ended up in Holyrood Park, miles from the stadium.

We were sobering up and thinking of sleeping in the park when a circular light like an orb, appeared about 20 feet from us. The light alternated between white and green.

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Of course, we followed it and followed it, for we had no other thing to do, but no matter how fast we walked, or ran, it always stayed 20 feet ahead of us. We couldn’t catch it and couldn’t see anything surrounding it. It’s hard to describe, but the orb didn’t light up the space around it, just itself.

So we followed the orb until it stopped still in front of a gate. It was only then we caught up and saw it. Only it wasn’t an orb, but a small fellow, maybe four foot tall, with very dark, wrinkled skin and a big head, stood there smiling. He tipped his hat and said “Cheerio” and was gone. We were standing in front of our hotel, and sober.

James – Falkirk, Scotland

The Treehouse

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When I was about 10, my dad decided to build me a treehouse over the 4th July holidays.

Our backyard was fantastic, it was more like a meadow, with rolling grass, flowers growing wild along the fences, iron gates and unruly trees of amazing colours. A great garden for a kid to explore.

Dad was a carpenter and knew how to build, he was no hack, he knew wood, he knew trees and had the best tools, but no matter what he did, he could not keep this treehouse together.

He chose an old oak tree which stood right in the middle of the yard and began by setting the supporting beams in the ground with cement. He had no problems with that but when he moved on to the braces and platform, that’s when the trouble started.

The next morning he went outside to find the braces and platform on the ground and the screws (stainless steel) he had inserted in the tree pulled out and the threads flattened and un-useable.

He thought it was stupid kids messing around and vowed to finish the tree that very day. He worked all day and into the evening and, apart from the rails, got the basic treehouse built.

Next morning, same thing, only this time all the treehouse, except the supporting beams, was in a heap on the ground. Dad was seething. We couldn’t talk to him all day he was so angry. He rebuilt the whole thing again and this time, at nightfall, stayed up in the treehouse with a torch and waited to see if the kids returned.

Next morning, I came downstairs to find Dad sitting in at the kitchen table, face pale and hands clasped around a glass of Mum’s brandy. Mum sat next to him with her hand on his shoulder and shook her head at me as if to say ‘don’t ask’.

So I walked over and looked out the window at the backyard and there, all over the ground, were scattered the various pieces of the treehouse. The only thing standing were the supporting beams.

Not a word was said, but later that day Dad took the chainsaw to the beams and cut them off at ground level and stored the wood neatly under the house. All plans for a treehouse were abandoned.

Fast forward 6 years, at my sister’s wedding, Dad got rolling drunk and I asked him what happened that night in the treehouse. He told me that he had been visited, not by neighbourhood kids, but by 3 creatures.

They came at him not from the ground below but scurried across from the branches of other trees. They were covered in green fur and their eyes were big as plates. He said he shone his torch at them and they growled and banged their fists into the wood of the treehouse.

Dad was terrified and tried to grab the ladder to get down when they started tearing the treehouse apart, only not with their hands, but seemingly with their eyes. He said they stared at the joins and the screws and seconds later they just separated and fell to the ground.

Dad jumped to the grass below and stood watching the demolition in astonishment but not fear. He said, once he was on the ground, he felt no fear of them.

When they had finished, the 3 creatures lay their hands on the wounded parts of the tree and mumbled like some sort of ritual. Then they were gone. Dad didn’t see where they went, they were just gone from sight and his treehouse building days were behind him.

Dad grabbed me by the lapel of my tux and said “That old oak was a Fairy Tree, we got off light. Never touch a Fairy Tree”.

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And the tree? well, Dad built a (metal) fence around the tree so no-one can climb it or even touch it.

Sean – Pennsylvania