Did you know there are Fairy Trees dotting the fields all over Ireland? Though “fairies” is not the name these mischievous sprites prefer to be called – it’s “Wee Folks” to you and I. Fairy Trees are fascinating and fun. But don’t ever, ever take their power lightly!
Traveling through Ireland is like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale storybook. Around every turn is a tale of wonder. The traditional Celtic folklore in Ireland tells that a lone Hawthorne tree growing in the middle of a field is called a fairy (or faerie) tree. This tree is the gateway between the worlds of the mortals and the world of the faeries. These wee folk are very protective of their portals – and legend has it, will severely punish those who damage or destroy their trees.
The stories claim that bad luck will befall anyone who cuts down the faerie tree. The wee folk will see to it that you will never get a good nights sleep again for the rest of your life. Real life examples abound, including the DeLorean car factory in the 1980’s that was built on a plot of land where a faerie tree stood. Even though the owners were warned, they destroyed the tree and the company was doomed to failure.
Those familiar with Irish folklore take these threats seriously. So much so that a recent highway bypass in Ennis was re-routed around a faerie tree on the original proposed path. This particular tree was said to be especially important as it was the meeting point of traveling wee folk from all around the Otherworld.
The magical Wee Folk, faeries, or fairies are called ‘Sidhe’ in Irish. Legend tells that when the Milesians – a mythical race described in the 11th century Book of Invasions – came to Ireland, they banished the faeries to the underground. The wee folk took their pots of gold and hid them near the trunks of Hawthorne trees. A popular story among Irish children is that in order to see that pot of gold, you must go to the tree at the stroke of midnight and sit on a three legged stool made from an Ash tree.
Hmmm…I wonder where I might find a stool made from Ash?
If you’re like me, while you’re in Ireland you want to see one of these for yourself. Today, popular Fairy Trees to visit in Ireland are found at the Hill of Tara in County Meath, St. Brigid’s Well in County Kildare, Ben Bulbin in County Sligo and Knockainy in County Limerick. Local people still tie ribbons or strips of colorful cloth to the fairy tree as a symbol of their prayers or wishes.
Here’s hoping all of your fairy tree wishes come true!