The Fairy Folklore of the Wicklow Mountains

Here is a fascinating post by David Halpin of Circle Stories. Note the mention of Keadeen, Kilranelagh graveyard, and Krishuna (Crossoona Rath) – these places all feature on the Kilranelagh tour.


Keadeen Mountain has some of the most interesting fairy encounters of all the Wicklow mountains.
There are stories and local accounts of the good people, strange lights and processions of The Wild Hunt, and other ghostly apparitions.
One testimony in particular mentions a string of lights emerging from the cairn and travelling to another nearby monument.
There have been accounts of fairy abductions, cases of missing time, people being pixie-led and often associated with fairies wearing red.
Incidentally, the road at the foot of Keadeen is known locally as ‘the far road’ perhaps the roots of this odd name relate to these processions?
“One time there was a little girl and she lived somewhere up about Rustyduff. It was in the harvest time and she was out in the fields. She saw something like an angel and she was turned into a fairy. Her father missed her and she was found on the hill of Sliseagh.”
https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5044717/5034246/5136510
This may be the same incident documented by another person in this next account except for the mention that the girl was actually turned into a fairy.
This can often be an indication that the person has been chosen to be a healer or mystic.
We have also seen how refusing such a fairy gift can be a very bad idea in previous posts.
Note how in the next version the girl is deemed to have been “foolish ever after”.
“Lambs of Rustyduff were putting in hay. Lar Doyle’s sister, Mary, then seven or eight years old was left behind in the haggard while the men went to their dinner. It was about mid-day. When they came back to the haggard, they missed the child.
During that night the stack of hay was turned over two or three times.
The child was gone for two or three days and was found on Sleesha (Mugduff).
She was asleep on the side of the hill. The wonder was how she lived without food so long.
She was foolish ever after, but was able to relate how little men in red, took her off. She lived to be 40 or 50 years old.”
https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5044715/5033791/5136115
In this next account we see the documenting of certain nights being when fairies appeared, as well as the movement from one rath to another. Really, this is such an important detail which appears in fairy-lore worldwide.
“At this Rath in Krishuna it is said the fairies gather on certain nights. They ride on the wings of the wind and retreat at cockcrow to the rath of Mullaghmast in Kildare. The people of this neighbourhood are said to keep a black cock in order to defeat the more evil minded of the fairies and to preserve them from harm.”
https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5044724/5034696/5136511
This next account details the misfortune which befalls a house which has been built upon a fairy path. In a previous post I have written about how a structure might have to be altered or even destroyed in order to accommodate the parade of fairies.
“A man named Cremin – a herd – lived in a house in Colbinstown near Kilranelagh graveyard. The house was built on a fairy path. Every night between the hours of eleven and twelve o’clock the door would open and footsteps would pass through the house, but the man never could see anyone.
One night, a crowd of men were in the house, playing cards. All of a sudden they heard stones falling. They got very much alarmed and asked the man of the house what it was, because they thought that the end had fallen out of the house. He only laughed at them and said, “that happens every night and when we go out in the morning there is not a stone more of less there”.
https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5044715/5033842
This eye-witness account of fairies moving from site to site documents the troop moving from one ancient site to another once again.
In this case, it’s interesting to note how the fairies are seen both in their physical form as well as being perceived as shining lights in this account.
“Mrs Cullen’s grandmother lived in Bernamuck or Dernamuck.
She used call out the children – big grown-up boys and girls – to look at the stream of horsemen and women riding from Willie’s Rock, through Hawkins’ yard, and on to Valentines’ field in Rustyduff. The children could not see them, but she often saw them on a summer’s evening.
Mrs Murphy and Mrs White often saw lights in the Rath in Rustyduff – Valentines’ Rath. Even about thirty years ago they saw lights going up to it.”
https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5044715/5033791/5136115
In the photos I’ve used for this post you can hopefully get a good visual indication of how these sites relate to each other.
I’ve chosen photos of Boleycarrigeen and Castleruddery stone circles with Keadeen Mountain in the background.
Then, to mirror that, I’ve posted a shot from Keadeen’s summit looking down towards Boleycarrigeen stone circle.
How important was Keadeen in ancient times?
Well, what we can say for sure is that there is no higher mountain or landmark between Kaedeen and Newgrange. In fact, this is also the case with Uisneach.
Here’s a tantalising piece of information for those who are interested in the work of Alexander Thom: Keadeen to Newgrange works out at almost exactly 100’000 megalthic yards!
Of course, Castleruddery stone circle also has plenty of local lore of its own.
The white quartz entrance stones themselves are said to possess a healing, feminine energy as well as being the reason why the circle is so strongly associated with ancestor spirits.
Throughout Ireland the prominence of white quartz is telling.
The reflective properties would have lent a shining aspect to sites such as Seefin and Newgrange but what is less well known is the amount of white quartz inside the sites themselves.
Quartz is well known for its spiritual an animistic properties.
Dr. Ffion Reynolds suggests that we should not so much associate white quartz as a stone of the dead, rather we should remember that ancient people saw it having a ‘life force’ of its own.
http://www.academia.edu/…/Regenerating_Substances…
Considering white quartz as a receiver of information then makes the alignment links all the more interesting.
Was white quartz meant to assist the spirits appearance and communication at ancient sites, and is this why we find it inside so many places considered to be entrances to the Otherworld?
One thing is certain, whether entrances or not, the associated beliefs and folklore tell of a long tradition of fairy movement from one ancient Wicklow site to another.
(C.) David Halpin.

(C.) David Halpin.

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