The fairies of Ireland have little to do with rainbows, pots of gold, or green top hats, but plenty to with abductions, mysterious illnesses, and potatoes that bleed red. They are the remnants of a conquered, but powerful (magical?) race, allowed to live on by the Gaelic peoples of Ireland, but only within the “fairy forts”, stone forts and earthen mounds that dot the Irish countryside.
|Dun Aengus ring fort on Inishmore, Aran Islands|
Do I believe in the Other Crowd? Read Leave a Drop for the Wee Folk, Part 1 and decide for yourself if my own encounter with the fairies is genuine.
One thing, however, is certain. The wee folk (a euphemistic name–there is nothing small about them) reflect a human tendency to fear the people we have conquered or marginalized. Why, if they were conquered, did the Tuatha de Danann retain the power to steal infants and curse crops? Perhaps they were fighting back against their Gaelic conquerors in subversive, secretive ways that eventually came to be seen as magical. Perhaps the guilt of the conquering people took the form of pathological fear.
To me, the tradition of leaving one’s last sip of Guinness for the wee folk is a reminder of the debt humans owe each other (and our Creator) for the horrors we commit against one another.