2 Faerie Encounters from Latvia

Hearing mournful Faerie music.

My own experience is not too long or complicated, it is about music, coming from nowhere.

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Several times as a child and once, very briefly, as an adult I have heard someone playing a sad tune on some kind of woodwind instrument in places, where you wouldn’t expect to find musicians at all (in the woods), or at least not playing such tunes (at the zoo full of kids).

The tune was, as I said, quite sad, tearful even and I heard it while looking at the scenes, one could describe as desolate: an abandoned construction project at the zoo, poorly cut clearing with stumps and branches all over the place. That was in my childhood. jean baptiste monge4 (3)

Recently, after all these years, I heard the music again.

Very briefly – just ten seconds at best – but it brought back the memories at once.

I am sure it was same low woodwind (a clarinet, perhaps) and on the sad, misty, rainy November afternoon.

And again, it was in the countryside – hardly any street musicians there.

What’s funny about it all – mysterious music is not a major part of either Russian, or Latvian folklore, on the other hand, both traditions say that supernatural entities have lives of their own, with their weddings and funerals, which implies music.

Perhaps, a fairy musician was expressing his sorrow at the sight of abandoned or poorly done work (Russian fairies rejoice at human diligence and are angered by neglect).

Also, I learned that the place, where I heard the music last time as an adult was a battlefield in both great wars (and not too small at that – a metal detectorist friend of mine says the ground there sings from all the metal – bullets, spent casings, shell fragments)… Appropriate place to play a sad tune.

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An Encounter with a Leshy?

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One summer morning, when I was in my early teens, my father sat at the breakfast table.

He said that, just that morning ,he met a man dressed as if he just got out of bed – slightly disheveled, wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, who came out of the woods asking, where he was.

The man seemed distressed, but quite sober, so my dad told him and the man was shocked when he learned that he is a full train stop away from his home.

Then the man told what had happened: as he was having his morning smoke, he decided to pop into the woods just across the lane from his house, which is not that uncommon.forest mushroom

Picking wild mushrooms is a popular activity and many people do just that – briefly search the edge of the woods before breakfast in hopes of finding half a dozen – enough to make a small bowl of sauce for dinner (those, who want to get more mushrooms go into the woods better equipped, covering as much of the body as the weather allows for fear of ticks and disease they can carry).

He found nothing and walked back. And walked… and then the woods became unfamiliar, and then he went out of the woods, where he saw unfamiliar houses and met my dad.

The man asked, where the train station was and went away, cursing and mumbling about not having any money and having to explain it all to his wife. There could, of course, be any number of rational explanations, perhaps the man was not as sober after all and just lost his way and the track of time, but someone familiar with Russian fairy lore can also suspect the work a Leshy – woodland spirit and lord of the woods (“a” is intentional – every forest has one, big forests have multiple, new forest will eventually have a new keeper move in).

leshy

Leshy is a largely benevolent entity, know to help people (it is said that if an ill baby suddenly falls silent, Leshy is sitting beside the bad comforting the baby and praying for recovery), but as with most fairy creatures, is easily offended, or can just be in a bad mood.

Then, he can play mean pranks on humans, his favorite is confusing a person, making him or her loose a sense of direction and go the wrong way even in familiar places (lose one’s way among three pine trees, as the saying goes), but he can also lure a person deep into the woods by calling in a familiar voices, or transporting a person to a different place altogether, which seemed to have happened here.

What offends a Leshy? forest rubbish

First of all, disrespect for the woods – shouting on top of your lungs, unless in distress, breaking branches as you go, littering (and our unfortunate man smoked, as you remember, perhaps threw a cigarette butt away) and so on.

Treading on Leshy’s favorite track through the forest is even more offensive to him, but this usually invites a more immediate and violent reaction, up to and including sudden gusts of wind lifting a person from the ground.

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Maybe, the man offended lord of the woods somehow, or may be it was just one of those days, when Leshy felt like pranking an unfortunate soul.

Or maybe, there is a mundane explanation, who knows…

– Edgar, Latvia.

 

 

Something in the Woods

I believe I’ve had several encounters with the Good People, since I was a small girl.  Too much has happened around me that I can’t really explain for it to be coincidental.

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Most of these have been happy, for the most part, though cautionary.  Even in the event it scared me, I didn’t feel particularly threatened.  I hear a bell quite often, just a soft tinkling sound that my dog seems to key in on, which is usually followed by finding something that I’ve been missing.

I’m careful not to say thank you when this happens, but it’s a strange, comfortable sort of thing.  I don’t really have words to describe it.  I live in a semi rural area, wooded on all sides of the houses.  We have about half an acre of woods on the property, but we also have neighbors across the main road and on either side of my home.

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I like to go out for hours and sit on a swing in my yard, enjoying nature, and occasionally listening to music, sometimes singing, or reading, and the swing faces the woods, so you see darting shadows and animals which occasionally regard you with almost knowing eyes.

Recently, however, I’ve been experiencing things of a nature that has me on edge.

It started about a week before Samhain.  I was spending the weekend alone for the most part, my family was out of town, but I had to work and was unable to take the days off.

My cousin came up and we had a good time, with some comfort food and music, and playing games and just generally talking until early in the morning.

About 1:00 in the morning, my dog decided she had to go out, so I let her out, standing out on my front porch.

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There was a chill in the air, as is typical for a fall in the Mountain State, but there were alot of nightly noises.

My dog stayed close to the house, in the light, straying only to the edge of it and staying there.

I noticed a light then, drifting too high to be someone carrying a flashlight or a phone, which came around the trees from my neighbors home, across the road, around another neighbor’s car and then drifting to the woodline down the road where it disappeared.

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I’ve seen things out of the corner of my eye before, and it startled me to be sure, but I let it go and didn’t think much of it.

I mentioned it to my cousin, as strange as she could see me staring at it from inside the house but hadn’t seen it herself.

This MAY have been my mistake, but I cannot say for certain.

We continued our night as though nothing had happened, and she left about 2:30 in the morning.  I walked her to her car.  It was still a very clear night and fairly noisy.  She drove off, and I went back inside.

My dog was agitated and antsy, so I decided to settle in for a bit to see if this would let her in turn, calm down.   It did not.  So I took it to mean she needed to go outside.

It was now 3:00 in the morning and I stepped out onto the porch I’d just been on not half an hour prior.  It was dead silent and there was a thick fog that had rolled in out of nowhere.  My dog had her hackles raised and darted into the dark out of sight in the fog, definitely not in her nature.

I didn’t want to wake up my neighbors, but I was instantly on edge, peering through the fog trying to discern where she’d gone, hissing her name.  She came back several minutes later, coming just into the light from the porch, stopped and turned her head to look behind her, and wagged her tail, then came trotting back to me.

I was straining my ears, as she was obviously reacting to someone, and hesitantly called out “Brent, is that you?” hoping my neighbor was outside for some unknown reason at three in the morning and I just couldn’t see him.  What met my ears, however, was a scream.

I jumped, but then let out a sigh.

It was bone-chilling and sounded very much like a woman’s scream.  My brain automatically began rationing, as I calmed my hammering heart, that it was a fox.

And then I heard distant laughter.  Males, though I couldn’t make out the conversation.  Again, while it alarmed me, I figured one of the neighbourhood houses were having some sort of party and people were goofing around on a porch and was about to laugh, when I heard a horse.

Now, I should mention, that while I live in a rural area, no one for several miles has horses.  I was quick to head into the house, and was unable to sleep for several hours.  In fact, it was dawn before I was able to settle enough to sleep.

It was several days later and the family was back from their trip.  I was up before any of them, and took the dog outside as part of the morning routine. That thick fog and deep silence was back, and I felt uneasy, but let it go.

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She went out and came back to the porch, calm as calm could be.  And we were about to go back in when there was a low whistling from the dark around the side of my house, in the yard next to the wood.  My dog instantaneously perked her ears up and trotted to the stairs leading to that part of the yard with her tail wagging.

I couldn’t see anyone but I could sense that someone was there, and it unnerved me.  So I called to the dog and we headed back into the house, where I shut and locked the door up tight.

My parents got up and got ready for work, we made breakfast and I didn’t mention this to them, as they tend to make light of things and make me feel like I’ve gone crazy because “these things don’t exist.”

I was in for the shock of a lifetime though.

Because I heard my father swear, which he never does, when he opened up the door to use the remote start on his car and ensured it turned on so the heat would get started, as it was a very chilly morning.

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My mother and I both looked and there, sitting on the porch was my dog, who wagged her tail at us, and then bolted off of the porch into the fog.

Dad started out the door after her, and mom was on his heels, but they both stopped when I, panicked now, shouted for them NOT to go outside.

We’d all seen her, collar and all on my porch, but in the midst of the arguing, I pointed out that our dog was asleep on the floor in the living room, and I didn’t know what was outside but I was very much afraid.

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I have a set of old iron keys that I use for a decoration, which I retrieved from the wall with a look that did not barter room for discussion and I walked my parents to their car.

Nothing has happened since, and the feeling of foreboding is gone now, but I have been carrying these large heavy iron keys to and from my car when I leave the house after dark.

I’m taking every available precaution, paying close attention to my surroundings.  My feelings of peace are restored when i’m outside in the daytime, but I can remember every detail about that encounter and it’s stuck with me and I’m finding myself gazing into the dark expanse between my car and the wood line almost every night as I head out for work.

Jennifer – West Virginia, U.S.

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Faeries by the old Elm Tree

A lovely tale which reminds us that there may be a good reason why a particular place, (in Kit’s case a running brook beside an old Elm Tree) calms or refreshes your spirit.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, he was in the company of friendly Faerie, no doubt pleased at his quiet appreciation of Mother Nature…

*

I’ve just been reminded of a story from when I was around 10-11.

I used to walk home from my junior school through a wood (it was longer but meant I didn’t have to walk on the road). There was a brook which disappeared into a rudimentary brick-built tunnel mainly torn up by tree roots of an old elm tree.

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So, on good days I would sit there for awhile, dropping things into the brook to watch them disappear into the darkness of this tunnel. It felt like a very special and secret place and although I was a very talkative kid it was my time for silence.

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One day, I was playing with a friend from my village and we went to take some topsoil in a wheelbarrow to her Nan who lived near the wood. I’d never met her before (although I had seen her around). My friend introduced me and the Nan replied “Oh you’re the little boy who plays with the faeries up by the elm tree“.

Now at the time I assumed she meant “I was away with the faeries” a local saying that meant in your own world. I was surprised because I always thought I’d been alone and unwatched so the fact my friend’s Nan had clearly seen me was a bit embarrassing.

However, a few years later my friend told us that her Nan kept a journal about her time with the faeries in the wood. I now like to think that my playing by that brook wasn’t alone but was overwatched by others and in turn they talked to my friends Nan about me.

Needless to say, as a teen I always made sure not to get up to anything in that wood that could get back to my friends Nan!

Kit Cox.

Encounter with Scottish Forest Faerie

I hope you enjoy this incredibly vivid account of an encounter in a dark, wet Scottish forest. In all honesty, I’m not sure I would have remained as composed as Kelly. I find it particularly interesting that the Faerie seemed to ‘test’ Kelly, and appreciate her feisty nature. – Kitty.

*

I was living in my car at this time, my partner lived in his. We both had one dog each with us, but we were freezing cold and struggling to cope with the elements.

We were temporarily homeless and had nowhere else to go. On this particular night we were on the beach at Oban.

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Oban, Scotland.

The wind was strong and it was below freezing. My partner suggested we go to the forest. It was a place he often camped in, and he had left a small tent in a secret location there, it was his emergency home.

I agreed to spend the night in the tent, because I needed to lay down flat, and my car was too small to sleep in and relax.scot forest logs

The forest itself was on an incline. The ground was very muddy and slippery. We only had the moonlight to help us navigate our way up through the trees. I had to climb over fallen trees and crawl under the low laying ones. I was not in a good mood.

We found the tent and it was in a state of disrepair. The front zip had broken and the inner bedroom compartment zip only went down half way. So this made the tent colder than usual.

I complained constantly about our plight, while the wind whistled round the tent and the cold froze my fingers and toes.

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I bought a mat and a sleeping bag to lay on, but as soon as I got in the sleeping bag, that is when the rain started. It poured down and soon the tent floor was soaking, which in turn saturated my sleeping bag. By now, I was a snivelling wreck.

I just sat crying and feeling sorry for myself suddenly, two men started talking to each other at the back of the tent. I could hear them as clear as anything. They sounded like they were having a normal day to day chat but I could not make out any of their words, even though I felt it was familiar, like English.

The chat seem to last some time, possibly about half an hour. During this time I tried to think of any possible reason why, or how, anyone had found this actual spot, that was well hidden from the public, and why they should be stood chatting in a storm.

The chat ended. After a few moments I heard the sound of heavy foot prints walk around the tent, crunching sticks under foot. My heart was pounding in fear, because we were so vulnerable.

Suddenly something hit the tent, it hit it so hard the canvas came inwards towards me. This happened 3 times. It was as if someone was using a heavy stick to strike the tent. My heart was beating so fast, I could barely speak. The dogs started barking and jumping around. Then silence.

I was now so distressed I was on my knees rocking backwards and forwards. I hadn’t slept for nights, and I was exhausted. I closed my eyes and tried to lull myself to sleep.

tent in rain

That is when I heard the music. It was coming from further up the forest. There was no housing up there, or anywhere a band could play. Yet, it sounded like a band was starting. I heard a rich, male voice start to sing out in to the wind. I could not make out the words, but he sounded like a young man.

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The violins sounded out, yet they were not violins. The instruments where familiar, yet nothing I had heard of in my day to day life.

The music got louder and louder and it was like a party was starting. I heard lots of voices start to join in. It gave me comfort, but it intrigued me so much, because I wanted to know how and why anyone would want to party in a storm, in the middle of winter, in a cold, muddy forest. It made no sense.

I still had my eyes closed, but now I “saw” all these faces coming towards me, mocking me, teasing me, trying to scare me. Some were hideous and frightening, some human like and handsome. The one I recall the most was the young man. I somehow linked his face to the voice that was singing. He had a mop of dark curly hair and beautiful green eyes, he looked Irish to me, he was the one with the cheeky smile.

I was so infuriated by my plight that I had no time for fear now. So the scary faces that growled at me, I swore at, and told them to back off. Their expressions changed. Some looked bemused, one looked shocked. Then suddenly, it was if they thought “who the hell is this woman?”, and they softened up towards me. I honestly felt like they came to ward me off, and some came to welcome me, but in the end, it was like a general acceptance. I really believed at this point that I was in THEIR forest, and that they had decided I could stay.

I spoke in my mind to the faces and their expressions is where I got their answers. I asked them if I should leave my partner, because I blamed him for out plight, and one laughed, the other looked confused, and the other face rolled its eyes! In other words, “it was none of their business!”

So they disappeared. That is when the wind picked up, and started to whistle through the trees. I could not believe what I was hearing, it was like the trees where singing! It was so beautiful, it hypnotised me. I felt like I should leave the tent and follow the sound, and go and join the fairies, but at this point, my partner told me to stay inside. It was like I was been lulled out of the tent.

I stayed put and then suddenly the wind died down, then the rain stopped.

That is when the ball of light came bouncing in to the tent. It was like a purple, lit up bouncy ball. It came in and knocked things over. There was no explanation for what it was. The dogs went insane and started barking at it at running towards it. I was sat opened mouthed in absolute wonder.

It bounced out of the tent and disappeared.

That is when I fell asleep.

The next morning I asked my partner if he saw or heard anything, to which he replied, “Congratulations Fallbrook, you met the fairies”.

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We got a job soon after and moved into a park. During the coming winter when the season ended, they came back to see me twice. Both times they struck the caravan three times! I knew it was them. I called out “hello”.

I believe the fairies are like people. You get the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think they saw my distress, and some wanted to help me, while others wanted to scare me out of their forest, but they came around because I am strong spirited. I see them as my friends.

I try to protect the forest, because I believe it is their home. I also think that when I go to other places on the west coast of Scotland, they recognise me.

They are hidden, but real. I love them. I hope to meet them again and talk to them. I just hope that my circumstances are nicer than the last time.

I did meet them again, but that is another story.

I swear my story is true. I really did see them, and hear them. My dogs saw them. They see us, but it is hard for us to see them. I believe that you need the second sight to see them.

Kelly Fallbrook – Scotland.

Beware the Faerie Ring

Now I believe in the Good People and my family know ways of dealing with them and it’s a lucky thing too.

It was May last, 2018, my boyfriend and I were cycling the track through a place called the Black Valley in County Kerry. It sounds gloomy but really it’s a lovely place. It was a bright morning and we set out early, hoping to beat the weather coming in later that day.

bike under treeSo anyway, we’d been riding only about 30 minutes when I saw a lovely painted horse there, stood beneath a fairy tree looking at us, and I mean staring at us. Hard like.

If you don’t know what a fairy tree is I’ll tell you, it’s a lone hawthorn tree sitting in the middle of a field all by itself. And so it was this fairy tree with the horse stood under.

I don’t know what it was about this horse, but I felt like it was calling me or something, so I told my boyfriend to stop and we hopped off our bikes, climbed the stone wall and walked over to it.

As we got closer, I could see the horse was shattered, exhausted like. With eyes beseeching or something but not moving, standing right still. And then I saw why, surrounding the horse, about a yard from his hooves, was a neat circle of mushrooms.

My boyfriend reached his arm out to pat the horse and I smacked it down and said “Don’t go putting your arm in a feckin fairy ring” so I said.

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I thought a minute then decided it best to call me Mam and ask her. So I did and she told me what to do.

With my boyfriend holding my left arm, I stood close to the outside of the mushroom ring and leaned my right arm into the ring and grabbed the mane of the horse, which was neatly plaited, and pulled it out. I’d like to tell you it was a gentle tug but the Good People don’t give up their mischief easy so it was more of a yank.

The horse stumbled when it got out of the ring and then took off. I’m sure he was grateful, although he didn’t stick around to say so.horse painted

I knew we’d used up all our luck that day so we turned around and rode home. Spent the rest of the day on the couch with Netflix!

We went back the next weekend to check on the horse and he looked grand. He was well away from the fairy tree mind!

But we really were lucky, especially being it was May. Without my boyfriend there to hold one of my arms I wouldn’t think of reaching into that fairy ring for fear of never getting out myself.

I’d like to think the Good People were just having some fun with the horse. Dancing and singing all night long and plaiting its mane and all, I surely hope they meant it no harm, for they do have a care for animals but you can never be sure.

My advice to anyone spotting a fairy ring is to stay well away, never step in it, no matter what. Even if there is a pile of coins or a diamond ring or anything else sat in the middle of the ring, keep walking, don’t stop and don’t be tempted.

And best stay clear of the fairy trees too, just leave them be and you should have no trouble.

Emily – County Kerry.

At Wicklow Station

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I’ve never told anyone this before, and I don’t know for certain what it was I saw, but I’ll tell you what happened anyway.

A couple of years ago, I was taking the Wicklow-Dublin train, it was summer, around dusk. Dark outside, but not so dark I couldn’t see. The train was sat at Wicklow station, just waiting to depart and I was looking out the window at those big trees on the west side which overlook the tracks. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but anyhow, right up the top of the second to biggest tree was perched 3 ‘creatures’.

I could make out their form and definitely see their eyes because they were glowing red. At a guess I’d say they were each the size a bear cub, and they were covered in a thick coat which must have been a brown, definitely not black because I wouldn’t have seen them at all, but for the glowing eyes.

Anyway, they were sat up there looking down and it felt like they were looking right at me. The lights were on in the carriage so I’ve no doubt they could see me.

And now this is why I have never told anyone. As the train crunched into gear and began moving, one of the ‘creatures’ raised its hand or paw or whatever it was, and waved.

I remember being sure it was waving at me and I instinctively waved back!

Whenever I’m at the station I look for them in the trees but have never seen them again.

I’m not saying they were Faerie, but I don’t know what they were. Not any animal I’ve ever seen before, ever, let alone in a Wicklow tree!

Liam – Wicklow

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.

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

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

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