West of Britain, there is an island, barren and rocky. Unforgiving winds pummel limestone cliffs on her windward side until the sanest man would be driven to uneasy fits of temper. No one should rightfully survive here, where fog and mist and legend conspire to drown the spirit and smother hope of wealth and riches and the easy life. And yet people do and always have.
Like the heath that clings to granite boulders in Galway and survives uncomplainingly in thin sandy soil on the storm battered West Coast of Ireland, you have to be able to make do with what you have, huddle together and bloom where you’re planted. When denied real treasures of a favorable climate and fertile ground, you are forced to make up for a lack of geographic blessings in other ways.
There is grace in sacrifice and nobility in the desolate bluffs where neither hindrance of tree nor mountain deliver a day’s respite from Atlantic tantrums. The names of fathers and fathers and fathers who lived and died and dreamed and downed a pint on bleak Sundays are etched on stones. Their remains buried beneath markers in the soft earth, finally free of the chill and the damp, they have joined the legions gone to their Maker, Whomever they believed that to be. Druid or Catholic, Protestant or Celt, for the Irish, religion is a sport and it takes many forms.
On the Emerald Isle there is the religion of myth and legend, the religion of magic and storytelling. These are products of that great Irish pastime, visiting the pub religiously and downing a pint to warm the spirit and loosen the imagination. If the Irish exaggerate then they’ve earned the right.
Celtic heritage, as old as Greek and Roman, had a god for every purpose. They worshipped nature - animals and trees, earth and sky and like most pre-Christian people, Celts were greatly superstitious and fearful. Pookas and banshees, changelings and Leprechauns were not cute. Changelings, nasty beings who were substituted for real infants, brought bad luck on a household. Banshees were either real people or terrifying ghostly apparitions who visited the living who were about to leave this earth.
Pookas, who nowadays are portrayed as merry pot bellied garden faeries who resemble Yoda, were the most terrifying fairies of all, who could take on any form and came out at night, sometimes appearing as a horse with ‘sulphurous yellow eyes and a long wild mane’.
The most famous of all are leprechauns, perhaps because the promise of riches being part of those tales.
The word leprechaun is derived from two ancient Celtic words, one meaning pygmy and the other meaning shoemaker. As with all myth and legend, their story began with a grain of truth. When the Danes invaded Ireland they supposedly left behind buried pots of treasure and the leprechauns have ever been guardians of said pots of gold. These fairies were up to no good either and would visit the larder while the house slept, kidnap a goat or sheep and ride it through the countryside half or wholly inebriated.
Leprechauns have been witnessed but never captured always promising riches in exchange for their freedom. One must never take their eye off a leprechaun or he will vanish in an instant.
The Lepracaun : Or Fairy Shoemaker
By William Allington
You watch your cattle the summer day,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay;
How would you like to roll in your carriage.
Look for a duchess's daughter in marriage?
Seize the Shoemaker--then you may!
"Big boots a-hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
White for a wedding-feast,
Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,
So we make a shoe;
Getting rich every stitch,
This keen miser-fairy hath,
Hid in mountains, woods, and rocks,
Ruin and round-tow'r, cave and rath,
And where the cormorants build;
From times of old
Guarded by him;
Each of them fill'd
Full to the brim
I caught him at work one day, myself,
In the castle-ditch, where foxglove grows,--
A wrinkled, wizen'd and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron-shot in his lap--
(A grasshopper on my cap!
Away the moth flew!)
Buskins for a fairy prince,
Brogues for his son,--
Pay me well, pay me well,
When the job is done! "
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt.
I stared at him; he stared at me;
"Servant, Sir!" "Humph!" says he,
And pull'd a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, look'd better pleased,
The queer little Lepracaun;
Offer'd the box with a whimsical grace,-
Pouf! he flung the dust in my face,
And, while I sneezed,
March is For Green
By Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)
Druids, Mound, Chief, Emerald, Names, Sacrifice, Hair, Spain, Arrows, Shamrocks, Patrick, West
As wee bairns we were warned
listen to your ma and pa or a druid will
wave their magic wand and
you will be whisked away.
Now there was a special mound
on the west end of the wee village
supposedly the chief druid would come
on special days and spread his dust on certain folks
The dust did not bring emeralds or gold,
but good luck like a bumper crop
or a new pair of good fitting shoes,
or to meet the right lad or lass life for your life
On this mound no names were ever orally spoken
just your special thoughts were read by
the wisest of all druids, Simon O’Rourke
who your mind he read so very well
Sacrifices were made in the form of odd things
five legged goat, frog with two heads
three legged chicken and
special rocks and other things treasured there abouts.
One ugly lass with bright red hair
shaved her head and left the hair there
The following new moon it really happened
the Laird’s son came and took her away.
But one overly libated bard stood on the mound
reciting ribald Burns verse.
He turned into a goat without a rain coat
and was banished to the plains of Spain where it did rain.
Some of the lovelorn and crotchety old folk
were shot with arrows from a fat cupid
and with bowed legs and nobly knees
they joined and danced all night in the breeze
But the mound did abound in special favors I tell you
when Molly Snow found a five leaf shamrock.
But when she presented it in hopes of a new beau
she called it a clover and was turned into a frog.
But her silent admirer from afar
dance the jig on the mound and spread the
blarney so well, the druid wiped his nose
and they became little people in charge of the
But after centuries of this special druid
and the magic mound
the potato famine came and
they all went away, settling in the west.
Yes I know it is so because me own ma and pa
well quite a few way back
just happened to have settled near
old John Sutter’s mill.
And now they still are the dustmen of the valley
taking all seriously
beliving in the old ways
maybe that is why I am a four legged frog.
A Celtic Tale
By Phyllis Ann (Starbird55@comcast.net)
Long ago and far away there lived a girl named Willow. She was a Druid, some would say Celtic.
Willow was a lovely girl, and her parents named her after a sacred tree. She loved all of nature as she was taught. A poetic girl she was, and she often wrote of the Emerald Isle.
Her Mother, Aideen, was a beautiful woman. She had long red hair which her name was taken from, flame. She often wore green which accented her hair and china like skin. Her husband, Angus, was a stout man of upright character and well thought of by his peers. Willow had no siblings but she did own a goat who she named Aoife.
Willow was often seen in the forest looking after her goat and sitting under the mighty Oaks writing her poems and playing her lyre. One day a young man came by. He was from another clan that lived on the other side of the bridge. He sat down and began to tell Willow all about the little people that he had seen on frequent occasions. Willow was a very superstitious girl, and she thought her goat was a reincarnated relative. That is why she took him everywhere and often read and sang to him. The young man's name was Bowen, and he carried arrows in a pouch slung on his back as well as a bow. Willow inquired as to what was he intending doing with them. He said he had been hunting. Willow said he must be mindful of Cernunnos, lord of the animals, and not to anger him. Bowen said he was more hungry than to be afraid. She gave him a funny look and glanced down at her broach. It was given to her by her Grandmother to ward off evil spirits.
After much talk of the under world, and other worlds, Willow bade the young man goodbye after giving him a Shamrock, which she felt he would be in need of. She and Aoife set off for home where she intended to recant the story of the young man Bowen and his arrows and bow. She also was mindful of Cernunnos and said some chants along the way.
The sidhe of the subterranean mounds are also seen by the Irish as the descendants of the old agricultural gods of the Earth, (one of the most important being Crom Cruaich, the Crooked One of the Hill). These gods controlled the ripening of the crops and the milk yields of the cattle, therefore offerings had to be given to them regularly so Willow was to milk the other goats when she got home and offer this so as to assure a good deal of milk from them in the future. She traded the milk for other things the family needed.
Once back at home she saw her Mother sitting on the step braiding her long flame red hair while the little lad who lived on the lane, Patrick, watched. Her Mother often cared for him and treated him as her son as she tended to him much of the time while his Mother was off doing chores.
Willow's Father, Angus, was off to Lough Gur in County Limerick. It is a very magical place where you could meet many of the sidhe kings and queens of Ireland. Angus wanted some of the magic to rub off on him. He even thought he might run across some little people while there, maybe a rainbow and maybe fortune. He said that many of the sidhe folk have encounters or relationships with mortals. The Earl of Desmond once saw Aine combing her hair on the bank of a river. He fell in love with her and seizing her cloak made her his wife. The offspring of this union was Aine's enchanted son Geroid Iarla, who lives under the lake awaiting his return to the world of men. Once every seven years he emerges from the water as a phantom riding on a white horse. This old tale was told by Angus many times, and he thought he might be lucky enough to see Geroid Iarla because it was seven years, the time.
Aideen wasn't sure he should make the journey, but she never argued with Angus as he was a good provider. Willow was home with her as well as others in the clan, so off he went. Willow went to tend the goats taking Aoife with her.
It was almost the time of sacrifice. Willow did not like to think about it as Celtic Druids engaged extensively in human sacrifice.The slaves and dependents of Gauls of rank would be burnt along with the body of their master as part of his funerary rites. Lucky for her that she wasn't a slave nor none of her clan.
To the West was where the worst lived, and she and her Clan stayed far away from them. The fairy queen of the palace was the goddess of the local tribes. They were the guardians of her Irish clan.
Many days passed, and Angus returned home with tales of Lough Gur. He swore that he saw a leprechaun wearing a jacket with seven rows of buttons with seven buttons to each row, and then he pulls from his pocket a button he said came from that little jacket. He claims he has the seventh button from the seventh row which will bring him great luck. Aideen smiled and held the button in her palm for luck. It must be put in a very safe place and no one must know about it.
The button brought such luck that Willow had the baby brother that she thought she would never have. Her parents named him Tiarnán, meaning 'lord, superior, chief'. This was the name of many kings and saints. And so it was that Angus, Aideen, Willow and Tiarnan lived in Celtic Ireland for many years along with their goats, the favored one being Aoife.
Aoife, a wonderful goat you are.
Living in luxury as if you were a star.
A lovely lass to tend to your every whim and wish.
You drink your water from a silver dish.
Aoife, the favored one of your Clan.
You are reincarnated from a beloved man.
By Norma (Twi1ite@sbcglobal.net)
West of Crowns, in the hold of an old Viking ship,
March is For Green
On the rough seas of Irish, stowaway was she,
An Irish hound, copper coated and free,
Now hear the tale of her.
An old pagan witch incanted her to be
An Irish Hound for Viking Kings
And in holds of ships wailing lilts did sing,
Endearing charming dog.
Landing she mingled among the crowds,
No one noted she wasn’t allowed, and then
While ropes were tied and boats towed in,
Banished Druida in her secret returned.
She climbed the cliffs of ancient stone,
Scratched and clawed to old Boru’s mound,
Enterprising was this red-furred hound,
And she wailed ‘til she made children cry.
Her spirit rose from her master’s grave,
And supernaturally she fled,
Streaks of black and white and red,
Across a gold and topaz field.
She entered emerald trees sky tall,
Wove through them across sapphire glass,
Where emerald chunks rose through crevice
Spread paws on shore and slept.
Nymphs and fairies and leprechauns,
Transparently flew through her dreams,
Unworldly, she, not what she seems,
She is a lassie fair.
Her love, too, served the ancient Boru,
The grandest of Chiefs of the Isle,
She and her love danced for his smile,
Still her love was to gods sacrificed.
She found her home to Boru’s mound
Moaning her old Chief goodbye,
Running where her lover died
In emeralds and sapphires blue.
Druida's tears mist the rainbow hue skies,
Spun copper hair sailing, trailing,
Beauteous maiden now remaining,
Circling and whirling blossoms blowing.
So when you touch a soft sweet breeze,
Whispering mournful melodious tunes,
Druida calls her lover lost to moons,
And gods before all remembrance.
By Amy (Fabulousfilly@aol.com)
along the mound of dirt i spot
and arrow lying down,its tip is pointing west
was this arrow used to cut the chief of the tribe:
names i cannot pronounce
actions i do not denounce
may he be burried on sacred ground
underneath his sacred mound.
beneath the green grass of this nation
green is a color of celebration
March is For Green
By Cottage Lady (email@example.com)
Mound, Druids, Hair, Sacrifice, Emerald, Chief, Arrows, Patrick, Shamrock
The snakes slithered all over
The slimy mound in a clearing
In the forest.
Brown-robed Druids formed a circle
Holding their staffs on high,
The beautiful Maureen with her
Long raven hair was tied to a tree
In the clearing.
She writhed against her bonds to no
Avail, she was doomed to be a sacrifice
For the Emerald Aisle.
A poisonous snake was held up
To her breast by the chief
Of the Druids,
When an arrow
Strong and true struck him
In the chest.
The others fled as Patrick
Stepped from behind the
Crest of a hill
To set Maureen free, taking
Her hand and leading her
Out of the dark forest,
And ever since that time
Shamrocks have grown at the
Base of that tree.
March is For Green
By Sharon (ByGolly25@aol.com)
PATRICK admired her auburn HAIR
With her his life he wanted to share
He bought for her an EMERALD ring
Asked her if she would go WEST on a fling
Only if we marry she answered with a smile
Well duh, he said not withput guile
Marriage was what I wanted from you
So off to the preacher the couple flew
SHAMROCKS she carried as a bouquet
Lets make this a wonderful wedding day
So they agreed to change her NAME to his
Last name was O'Mally for Patrick and Liz
March is For Green
By susi (Texaswishr@aol.com)
Shamrocks on my windowsill
As close to Ireland as I'll ever be
Three and four leaf clovers
Tiny white blossoms pleasure me
I stand at my sink, out my window I gaze
The shamrocks in my line of sight
My thoughts a million miles away
Trying to find an answer to my plight
I really am trying to find a job
My income is simply not enough
It stays the same while the bills go up
Living month to month is tough
Ah well, i've got a roof o'er my head
And food to eat, i'm comfortable and healthy
My optimistic shamrocks bloom
No matter if i'm not wealthy
These Irish Shamrocks cheer me up
And make my day seem brighter
What if I never see the land of green?
I'll just stay here and be a poor, broke writer
March is For Green
By Marilyn-Lara (LaraOct7@aol.com)
Deep in the forest where the moss was greener and the ferns were bigger than anywhere
on earth, lived a wee man named Seamus and his wee wife, Erin. Now, so as not to
mislead you, let me make it clear straight away that Seamus and Erin weren't youngsters.
In fact, they appeared shortly after an alien space ship touched down and left a
canister-like container on the Irish soil.
There were only a few human beings In Ireland when Seamus and Erin arrived so the two had
no way of knowing just how unique they were. They thought every man carried a little
leather pouch with magical coins. They thought all men made their own brew to drink; they
thought every Irishman played a tin whistle.
One March morning, after a brief rain-shower, a young maiden living several miles away
looked up in the sky and saw the most beautiful rainbow she had ever seen. She was
mesmerized and found herself walking toward it. It was a beautiful arch with one end
touching down in a meadow. Was it possible, she wondered, that there would be a pot of
gold at the end?
The air was full of butterflies and honeybees, and the meadow was lush with green grass.
Clusters of shamrocks grew at the edge of the forest where the rainbow seemed to end.
However, the rainbow's end mysteriously always appeared ahead of the young maiden so she never felt she was getting any closer.
The forest undergrowth was wet from the rain and raindrops were still dripping from the
canopy of leaves. She knew she should turn back but something seemed to push her
along. Was that music she heard, or was it coming from the birds?
Just ahead, a shaft of light..brilliant..sliced through the trees and made a
bright circle on forest floor. Surprised, she stopped and wondered if she dared go
A wee man and a wee woman caught her eye and she stood gazing. Was she seeing things?
Sitting on logs in a circle were dozens of little men, drinking from jugs and stomping
their feet in time to the music of a fiddle.
A pot sat near by and inside the pot were coins of gold emiting a glow so bright as
she had never before seen. 'The pot at the end of the rainbow,' she thought. 'I found the
pot at the end of the rainbow'.
In her excitement, the young maiden was caught up with the music and started to twirl and
dance. And so did the trees start to swing. The butterflies dipped and soared and the
honeybees buzzed merrily.
The wee man and his wee wife soon became aware of the maiden who had ventured into their
forest and they beckoned her to come join them. She did and it wasn't long until she
found herself spinning so fast she couldn't stop.
The dancing lasted all night but by daybreak the forest was quiet again. Not one jug had
been left behind nor was the forest floor trampled so one would know there had been
dancing. The tree canopy had closed and the little people had gone back to where they had
What became of the young maiden no one knows, but it was told that the wee man and his
wee wife had a brand-new wee one at their house.