All over Ireland Fairy trees are believed to be sacred grounds for the ‘wee folk’. The superstitions surrounding Fairy trees are still very strong among the Irish, even for those who don’t believe in the wee folk. So the trees remain protected where they stand.
What is a Fairy Tree?
A Fairy tree is usually a Hawthorn or an Ash tree that stands out from any other tree of its kind because of its location. A Fairy tree is found standing by itself in a centre of a field or on the side of the road and they’re quite easy to spot, if you know what you are looking for. Some of these trees have stones surrounding their bases for protection, but who put them there? The locals or the wee folk?
Fairy Trees in Irish Folklore
Ireland is a place with thousands of folklore stories and Fairy trees are still commonly talked about to this day. Some believe these trees are the gateway between worlds for mortals and that of the faeries in the other-world.
Irish Mythology is split into four different cycles with the Mythological Cycle describing how faeries (Sidhe) moved to the other-world.
When the Milesians or Gaels arrived in Ireland they took up a dispute with the Tuatha Dé Danann, children of the Goddess Danu. The Tuatha Dé Danann retired underground and became known as the fairy people, sidhe, or the wee folk.
The wee folk had many entrances to the otherworld such as in burial mounds, under water and even at the base of Fairy trees. As you can imagine these gateways are extremely important for the movement of the wee folk so they are heavily protected by magic. You wouldn’t be considered mad if you just happened to spot a Pooka or Leprechaun at a Fairy tree.
Superstitions Surrounding Fairy trees
With Fairy trees being regarded as sacred sites for the wee folk there are many superstitions that surround them and as you’ve probably guessed involve magic and bad luck. Some believe if you damage or cut down one of these trees you’ll be faced with a life of bad luck. As you can imagine people are very wary of touching one.
Its certainly common for farmers to work around these trees even if it means they can’t grow crops where the tree stands. When travelling through Ireland you’ll often see a perfectly cultivated field with a Fairy tree standing in the centre and untouched, evidence of a farmer unwilling to risk his luck.
There are also many stories around Ireland of road works being delayed simply because a Fairy tree would be standing in its path, workers would refuse to touch the tree. In most occasions roads have been re-routed to by-pass the tree.
There is a story of the famous car manufacturer DeLorean who chopped down a fairy tree in order to build their factory in Dunmurry on the outskirts of Belfast. It’s believed DeLorean failed due to bad luck from chopping down the tree.
If you ever come across a fairy tree in Ireland our advice is not go near it. Any damage to the tree could bring unwanted bad luck.*