Tiveragh Fairy Hill (Cushendall)

The Tiveragh Fairy Hill
Cushendall, Northern Ireland

Legend and lore has it that this very broad sided hill with steep sides overlooking the small village of Cushendall in Northern Ireland is the gateway to Tir na nOg. A place very well known locally to be haunted by faeries, leprechauns, elves, and pixies … this giant hill is a natural fortress all in its own and easily seen to be claimed as a stronghold by the fae. Fairy tales mention many stories about it rising up on pillars during the twilight evening with glimmering meriment of faeries frolicking and dining. Many believe that the wee folk live in this hill that is accessed by a nearby cave. As the warning goes, if ye are mortal, regardless of how appeasing the faerie music may sound, if you wander within, you’ll never be seen again on this plane of existence. Time holds a whole different rhythm in Faerieworlds.

We however, of fae persuasion, did venture up the hill at the turn of twilight just as the sun was going down. We spied the hill with visions of faerie impressions while across the valley atop Ossian’s Grave – the Megalithic tomb believed to be the burial spot of the fabled poet and bard Oisin. Now Oisin was lured into fae, into Tir na nOg where he lived until he requested to return to the land of mortals to visit his family. Of course due to faerie time, he came back several hundred years later to find them all gone and deceased. He fell off his faerie steed and became a blind old man wandering these fields eventually dying. If the faerie tale is true, this would be the hill he would have rode out of and across the valley would have been his grave overlooking it … curiouser and curiouser. Midway along the way up the base of the hill is one of the most magnificent Faerie Thorn Trees I’ve ever encountered. As usual with these faerie hills, I always find a wee hole just big enough for the Victorian sized fae to enter within, usually lined with heavy rocks, making it look peculiarly like its a miniature mine rather than a animal hole. We climbed atop as the sun was going down, empowered by the feelings of the ancient ones. Archaeologically though, this may be a massive hillfort. I’m looking for those records and will post my findings here.

    On Tiv-ra Hill near Cushendall,
    I heard a commotion behind a wall,
    I stopped and looked over, and boys-o-boys!

    Now what do you think was making the noise?
    Twas a Hurley match – and may I choke -–
    It was two wee teams of the Fairy folk
    That was rippling’ and tearing’ and weltin’ away
    In the light of the moon was bright as day.

    And their playing pitch was hardly as big
    As my Uncle Barney’s potato rig;
    And me there watchin’ them puck and clout –
    At the back o’ the wall with my eyes stuck out.

    When all at once, like the squeal of a hare,
    A wee voice shouted, “Who’s that up there?””
    And a bit off a thing about nine – inch tall
    Came climbing up to the top of the wall.

    And he stood there; he stood about pot -size
    With his two wee fingers up at my eyes,
    And its God’s own truth that I’m speakin’ mind ye,
    “”Get out o’ that,” says he, “or I’ll blind ye!””

    Aye that’s what he said, “I’ll blind ye,” says he,
    And by Jing what he said was enough for me,
    Did I run? Aye surely; I didn’t miss -–
    And I haven’t seen Tiveragh from that to this.

    ~ H.Browne

    The Fairy Hill Tiveragh is a fairy hill and near to Cushendall,
    And nobody goes there at night, no nobody at all.
    The hill is small, the sides are steep.
    And I have heard it said That flickering lights go in and out While everyone’s in bed.
    And on the top two hawthorns grow, A white one and a red.
    ~ John Irvine Desmond

~ Yours truly, Leaf McGowan

(more…)

Want to follow the travels of Sir Thomas Leaf? Click Here!
Share

 


Niamh

Niamh
“Niamh of the lovely hair” was the daughter of the Irish Sea God, Manannon Mac Lir. She was the Queen of the Tir na n-Og, the mythological race of Faeries who lived in the Land of the Eternal Youth. She would ride on her Faerie steed “Embarr” across the waves to the West Coast of Ireland quite often. On one of these trips, she met members of the warrior group known as the Fianna. One of the warriors, a bard named Oisin, she came to have a liking for. He fell for her with love at first sight. She quickly took him on her horse with her back to Tir na n-Og. She was most notorious for having been the Faerie princess who lured off the great Bard Oisin to Faerieland where they were married and she had hoped he would have been fine residing at in the Land of the Eternal Youth. After three years in Faerie, He grew weary and tired, missing his family, and asked to return to his land to see them. She set him off on the same white magical steed that she brought him to the land of Faerie on, the horse “Embarr” (means “Imagination”) and warned for him not to step foot off his horse when he returns to the human world. He discovered three years in Faerie was three hundred years in Human. He accidentally fell off Embarr when he was trying to help some farmers move a big stone, and Embarr ran home, across the waves. Poor Oisin immediately became a blind old man to wander Ireland searching for his family and his Niamh. He could never find the entrance to Tir na n-Og again. Niamh waited and waited for him, but Oisin never returned. She had become pregnant with his daughter, Plur na mBan, a beautiful Faerie princess known as “The Flower of the Lady”. After many years, Niamh went back to the mortal world to search Ireland high and low for her sweet Oisin. She was too late, Oisin had died and disappeared forever. His tomb somewhere up in Northern Ireland near the Giant’s Causeway. During her wanders searching for Oisin, she met the Faeries of Brittany who invited her to join them. She didn’t, but rather sent them a magical moving picture of herself. This upset the Brittany Faeries who placed her in a deep wood where she wandered for a long time with a light on her forehead eternally lost. After she discovered her escape, she experienced great disappointment and anger with the Brittany Fae, and returned to Tir na n-Og, presumably casting a magic spell that took all of the Brittany’s faerie children with her in revenge.

Share

 


Wishing Trees

 


Wishing Tree @ Brigid’s Well in Kildare, Ireland

 

Wishing Trees
“Wishing Trees” are very common throughout Ireland, England, and Scotland. They are usually individual trees upon which “folk magic”, “folk spells”, “faerie offerings”, or “prayers” are offered. Sometimes it is particular to a specific species, where the tree lives, or how it looks. Many times they are associated with faeries or a particular Deity. They are very common alongside sacred wells in Ireland and the UK. The practice usually involves petitions or offerings made to the tree, a nature spirit associated with the tree, a Saint, a God/dess, or the ancestors with a request for a wish to be fulfilled.

Coin trees involve offering of coins to a particular tree. These are often hammered into an old trunk, branch, or small tree. Sometimes these are oaks, rowan trees, hawthorns, ash, or thorn trees. Some hawthorns serve for fertility magic such as a common one in Argyll, Scotland by the Ardmaddy House. Sometimes hundreds of coins are hammered into the bark and wood with the belief that a wish will be granted for each of the coins added. A similar one that is well known is by the sacred well of ST. Maree in Loch Maree, Gairloch, Scotland that has hundreds of coins hammered into it. Also all over the Yorkshire Dales, such as in the pictures shown here I took during a hike, are found with hundreds of coins offered to nature spirits and/or faeries for a granting of a wish.

Clootie Wish Trees (a.k.a. Cloughtie or Rag Trees) are found next to sacred wells throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. This involves the practice of tying a piece of cloth, often called “clouties”, “clooties”, or “cloughties” to ask for a answer to a prayer, a wish, and/or a petition. As the rag decays, so will the illness; or so will the petition come true. It is a form of sympathetic magic. One of the most well known “wishing trees” is the Madron Well in Cornwall. With the Madron well, a sacred well of healing, it is believed that as the cloth rots, the ailment that one is seeking a cure for disappears. Even Charles Darwin recorded the finding of a “wishing tree” in his travels in Argentina called “Walleechu” which was treated by the local inhabitants as a Deity. It was festooned with offerings such as cigars, food, water, and cloth hung from the branches by bright strips of colored thread. Popular wishing trees in Hong Kong is the “Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree” near the “Tin Hau Temple” in Lam Tsu where paper tied to an orange and thrown up in the trees that stick will grant the petitioner a wish. The wishing tree next to Brigid’s Well in Kildare is a common tree for petitioning healing requests.


Penny offerings for good luck and as gifts to the Fae
“Wishing Tree”
Yorkshire Dales, England

The Wishing Tree at Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Well
not only consists of rags, but trinkets, rosaries, jewelry, prayer cards, toys, personal effects, and other items given as offerings. You can see these at Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees. The concept is to leave behind something of yourself or someone that you love that is in need of prayers, healing, or petitions. The concept with the rags is that when it decays so will the illness that it represents. This is a kind of sympathetic magical rite. Unfortunately some pilgrims to the sites don’t realize how the spell or magic works. You can see this when they tie a piece of a plastic bag on the tree. Plastic will take forever to decay, so will the illness it is to represent. If only they knew! In addition to the rags, others leave coins, jewelry, rings, prayer cards, figurines, toys, personal effects, clothing items such as belts, shoes, garments, and trinkets. The cloutie and Wish trees found at Tobar Ghobnatan are considered to be dedicated to the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan holy pilgrimage site and monastic settlement known as “Tobar Ghobnatan”. This is the legendary home of St. Gobnait/Ghobnatan. It is located a kilometer south of the village of Ballyvourney where her church Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built.

113013-140

(more…)

Share