Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mrs. O'Byrn's handyman and the fairy folk.


Mrs. O'Byrn's handyman.



We visited a Mrs. O'Byrn in Sligo, near Drumcliff. She owned the house where Edward's mother had grown up, (where W. B. Yeats had also played a few years earlier) and her handy man, a wonderful fellow, showed us a fairy fort up behind the house. This was a very mysterious and muddy place. "Tread lightly" he said (echoing Yeats), and then you won't sink in the mud, and the fairy folk won't take you.

Being taken by the fairy folk is not a good thing. They don't always give you back and sometimes when they do give you back, they keep your best parts. No fun.

He taught us that fairy folk like circles and if you have an "O" in front of your family name, like Mrs. O'Byrn, then you should leave off the "O" so the fairies won't covet it. Having something that fairies covet is also not a good thing.

We talked about banshees, how he'd actually seen one once, a little old lady with long white hair. (They generally appear in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron or a little old hag, representing the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death. She is usually seen wearing either a grey, hooded cloak or some form of grave clothing. She may also appear as a washer-woman, and is seen apparently washing the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die.) He told there was one outside his lodgings the night before. He had not heard it he was quick to point out (because it foretells death and in our culture we tend to try to avoid this event), but a neighbor woman had heard it. (I wonder if she's alright.)

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