Americans may avoid stepping under ladders, stay clear of black cats, or throw salt over their shoulders to avoid bad luck. The Irish may laugh, but they have their own superstitions, or better yet, cultural myths that go back many, many years. But even though it’s treated more as a tale than a truth, most Irish wouldn’t dare disturb a fairy ring, or fairy tree, or a fairy fort.
Fairy trees are most commonly Hawthorn trees. Ethereal, and somewhat witchy, I wouldn’t cut one down.
A fairy ring can be made up of wild mushrooms that mysteriously grow in a ring, or ancient stones in a circle, even Hawthorn trees situated in a circle. A fairy fort, also known as raths, is a hillfort or earthen mound.
Fairies are said to live underground, but can also mingle with the human world. There could be a fairy sitting next to you and you wouldn’t even know it. They’re cunning and clever, playful tricksters, maybe some are cute, but they’re exacting, and if you get on their bad side—vengeful.
A black dog is often considered a fairy in disguise. There’s a story in my family of my Irish grandmother getting lost in a cemetery as a little girl and being led home by a black dog who suddenly appeared. They can be loving if you’re on their good side. And for your sake, I hope you stay on their good side.
Here are some parting tips if you want to avoid ticking off a fairy:
- Don’t call them by name. You can call them: The Good Folk, The Folk, The Good Neighbors, etc.
- Appease them with offerings
- Leave your front and back door open so they can freely pass through
- Don’t disturb fairy trees, or forts, or rings
In other words, when in doubt: Leave well enough alone.
In a remote—and superstitious—village in County Cork, Ireland, Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan must solve a murder where the prime suspects are fairies . . .
Family is everything to Siobhán: her five siblings; her dear departed mother for whom the family business, Naomi’s Bistro, is named; and now her fiancé, Macdara Flannery. So precious is her engagement that Siobhán wants to keep it just between the two of them for a little longer.
But Macdara is her family, which is why when his cousin Jane frantically calls for his help, Siobhán is at his side as the two garda rush from Kilbane to the rural village where Jane and her mother have recently moved. Unfortunately, tragedy awaits them. They find Jane, who is blind, outside the cottage, in a state. Inside, Aunt Ellen lies on her bed in a fancy red dress, no longer breathing. A pillow on the floor and a nearby teacup suggest the mode of death to their trained eyes: the woman has been poisoned and smothered. Someone wanted to make sure she was dead. But who?
Devout believers in Irish folklore, the villagers insist the cottage is cursed—built on a fairy path. It turns out Ellen Delaney was not the first to die mysteriously in this cottage. Although the townsfolk blame malevolent fairies, Siobhán and Macdara must follow the path of a murderer all too human—but just as evil.
About The Author
Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.