Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Can a sensible person could believe in fairies?

It’s hard to exaggerate the hold that fairies have exercised upon the Irish imagination. Though he wrote about them extensively, W.B. Yeats was somewhat agnostic on the question of whether they were real.  In his still wonderful to read collection The Celtic Twilight (1902) he asked if a sensible person could believe in fairies? This is what he wrote in response: “Even when I was a boy I could never walk in a wood without feeling that at any moment I might find before me somebody or something I had looked for without knowing what I looked for. And now I will at times explore every little nook of some poor coppice with almost anxious footsteps, so deep a hold has this imagination upon me.”

For my own part, I have never seen a fairy, though I have visited places where I know the feeling that Yeats described, where a mood comes over you, a sense that there is something there with you grander than the trees, and more secretive than the birds that huddle noiselessly in the branches. Reenadina Woods in Co Kerry is one such place, where stands one of Europe’s last great yew woodlands; Glenveagh Valley in Co Donegal also, where as one descends the wild mountainside, with the sun setting to your left, the mountain dark to your right and behind you, and where invisible streams chortle beneath the gorse: aye, there may be fairies there alright.   

1 comment:

  1. Loch a'dúin (the Lake of the Fort), Ballyhoneen, between Castlegregory and Cloghane; when the sun starts to set (and the place is alive with midges!) is such a place:
    Strong men have been known to hurry away from it as the sharp peak to the west of the lake begins to cast an ominous shadow over the black waters of the lake at sunset...(the midges may have had an influence there tho').
    Close by is Com an Áir (the Hollow of the Slaughter); naturally, it would be.
    It's not just spooky; it's pre-spooky.