Folk-Lore/Volume 29/Sanctuaries and Fairies in West Ireland

Sanctuaries and Fairies in West Ireland.

Mr. T. J. Westropp, who is doing excellent work on the investigation on scientific lines of prehistoric remains in Ireland, has republished from the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (vol. xxxiv. Section C, No. 3) a paper on "The Ancient Sanctuaries of Knockaincy and Clogher, Co. Limerick." Here a cairn commemorates the cult of the goddess Aine, of the god-race of the Tuatha De Danann. She was a water-spirit, and has been seen, half-raised out of the water, combing her hair. She was a beautiful and gracious spirit, " the bestnatured of women," and is crowned with meadowsweet (spiræa), to which she gave its sweet smell. She is a powerful tutelary spirit, protector of the sick, and connected with the moon, her hill being sickle-shaped, and men, before performing the ceremonies, used to look for the moon—whether visible or not—lest they should be unable to return. They used to comb the sheaves on St. John's Eve, carrying lighted wisps to bring luck to crops and cattle. One day some girls saw her, and she showed them, through a ring, that the hill was crowded with fairies. Her son, the magic Earl of Desmond, is still seen riding over the ripples of Loch Gur until his horse's golden shoes are worn out. The paper is a valuable contribution to the prehistoric mythology of Ireland.