Saturday 14 February 2015

Man Cuts Down Fairy Tree, Man Dies from Curse (1964 News Report)

Remarkable piece of Irish archival TV footage which demonstrates the power which belief in fairies once held over rural Irish communities. 

In this particular case, a sacred Fairy Thorn (Hawthorn) is removed to make way for a new road construction project in County Down. The man who cut the tree down dies (according to a woman in the report), and then the community gives the Fairy Thorn tree a funeral in its honour. Nothing is reported of how they felt about the sacrilegious ad hoc lumberjack.

The purpose of the funeral was to give respect to the fairy folk whom Irish people lived in dire fear of, and it was not until Walt Disney that fairies were transformed into loveable sprites. Our Gaelic, Nordic, Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic ancestors took fairies very seriously and did not want them to come anywhere near us. Which is why the woman in the story explains how her mother - as a little girl - hid in fear from a fairy when she saw one.

The Fairy Tree

All night around the thorn tree,
The little people play,
And men and women passing
Will turn their heads away.
From break of dawn til moonrise,
Alone it stands on high,
With twisted springs for branches,
Across the winter sky.

They’ll tell you dead men hung there,
Its black and bitter fruit,
To guard the buried treasure
Round which it twines its root.
They’ll tell you Cromwell hung them,
But that could never be,
He’d be in dread like others
To touch the Fairy Tree.

But Katie Ryan who saw there
In some sweet dream she had,
The Blessed Son of Mary
And all His face was sad.
She dreamt she heard Him saying:
“Why should they be afraid?”
[Repeat: “Why should they be afraid?”]
When from a branch of thorn tree
The crown I wore was made?

From moonrise round the thorn tree
The little people play
And men and women passing
Will turn their heads away.
But if your heart’s a child’s heart
And if your eyes are clean,
You’ll never fear the thorn tree
That grows beyond Clogheen.

1 comment:

  1. they're more real than Jesus,use to see them everywhere when I was little one