The Fairy Forts of Ireland


Our bus driver and guide on the trip around Ireland was Bill Mahoney. I wish Bill could have sat down with us and talked more in-depth about the many intriguing places we saw from our bus windows or stopped at to briefly explore. Bill was a walking encyclopedia of Ireland and knew so much history and folklore that listening to him was fascinating. However, we listened from our bus seats and Bill spoke through a speaker system as he drove the bus. The Irish, quite naturally, speak with a broad Irish brogue. They learn Gaelic or “Irish” as Bill said, as part of their school studies.

One of the fascinating features of the landscape are the “fairy rings” or fairy forts. They are the circular remains of ancient fortifications built during the early Middle Ages. Huts and people, cattle and farm animals may have lived there for safety. Now there’s nothing left but reminders–a circular pile of stones or an earthen mound. Lots of legends exist about the fairy rings. Most agree that they are best left alone. Superstition says that if the owner of the land wants to do away with the fort to have more land for farming, or for any other reason, he had better think twice. Bad things happen to anyone who disturbs these remnants of an earlier civilization.

With the mist creeping down from the gorse-covered hills like watchful spirits, the crumbling remains of castles that dot the landscape, and the feeling of enchantment in the crisp air, it is easy to wonder about an earlier time and past civilizations. One thing I’m sure of–if I ever happen to be striding through the green fields of Ireland and come upon a circle of stones or dirt, you can be very sure I’ll treat them with respect and tiptoe carefully away. It’s not that I’m superstitious, but I have an abiding respect for the legends and stories of those fairy forts of Ireland.




  1. Ireland, a land of enchantment…a lovely story, Blanche

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