Fairies

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Earthen forts or ring forts are not the oldest manmade structures in Ireland but are probably the most ancient in this area, where many examples are found. They seem to be deliberately located in pairs e.g. Lisrace and Dromedy, Golan and Lammy, Knox and Tonitygorman. When a town land name begins with “lis” or “rath”, it indicates that the townland contains or is adjacent to a fort as in Lisrace, Lisnamallard, and Rathmoran. Few townland names in Fermanagh begin with Rath but many begin with “Lis”

People firmly believed fairies lived in forts. Everything that went wrong was blamed on the fairies but people could and did protect themselves by laying May flowers (Marsh Marigolds) outside doors of their homes on the night of April 30, which was May Eve.

Sometimes the fairies were held responsible for making the cows’ milk dry up or changing babies in a cradle. By placing a pair of tongs across the child’s cradle, they hoped to protect young babies from being stolen by the fairies. They only stole little boys so parents dressed boys in petticoats until they were several years old. The fairies would then leave them alone thinking they were girls.

There is a story about a local man who always walked with a limp. In farm houses of that time, the kitchen door opened out to the street. Maybe the door was not that well fitting or maybe it was worn at the bottom. Anyway the father was sitting at the fire and his little son was crawling about the floor. The father heard the boy yelling and went to see what was wrong. His leg was out under the door and the father tried to pull him back but he could feel his son being pulled out. After pulling hard he got the wee boy back but he always walked with a limp ever after.

It was said that in the townland of Carnmore, the fairies lived in Carn Rock, which they entered by the tunnel. Old Mr Annon, who lived nearby, was said to know where the entrance was but would tell no one for if anyone entered the tunnel that person would never come out again. There is a shallow Lough on the west side of the rock. Many years ago, it was decided to drain the Lough by opening up and lowering the outlet drain. One day men began to dig the drain. Next morning, when they returned to work, a huge boulder had been placed in the drain they had started the day before. They did not continue work, as they were certain the fairies had put the boulder in as a warning to stop work.

A family by the name of Mulligan, who were thought to have lived in Dernabacky, had a teenage son named Tom. One Halloween night Mrs Mulligan asked Tom to fetch a can of water from the well. Tom took the can and left the house but didn’t return. The family went out and called and searched but they saw no sign of their son that night nor for any night during the following year. Next year on Halloween night, the family and neighbours were in the Mulligan home lamenting about Tom when the door was opened and Tom walked in with his can of water.

He could not realize that he had been away a whole year nor could he remember anything of what had happened to him. From then on he was known as Fairy Tom. He went on to live a normal life and died an old man about 1900. It was said he always would go into fairy forts and spend nights with the fairies for he was seen leaving forts early in the morning.

Roy Murray remembers an old man relating this fairy story. Very early one summer morning he set out by horse and cart to get a load of turf from the bog up at Doon. It was a fine morning and the dew hung in pearly drops on the roadside grasses. Not a sound broke the morning stillness for not a soul was astir as he and his horse travelled on past Aghadrumsee. Suddenly, he saw two tiny folk at the side of the road, each carrying a little bundle of sticks. He said they looked like two wee tiny children with wee jackets and breeches and he was amazed they were out so early. He drove on but he kept wondering who they could be, for he knew there were no small children living anywhere near, and he always stressed how exceptionally tiny they were. To his death many, many years later the incident remained fresh in the old man’s mind and he always regretted not stopping to chat with the little people.