Category Archives: Unknown

The German struck by Strey

Well now it must have been around 1991 or 1992. I remember you see as Mary Robinson was still new as President and the German had taken a shine to her.

This German man, don’t ask me his name for I have no chance of remembering that, it’s all I can do to remember my dinner these days, anyway this German fella came over to Cork for to recover from some thing or another. It was some sort of upset anyway he was trying to recuperate from. Why he chose Cork I do not know, but he did.little-cottage-free images (2)

So he rented the wee cottage down the way from my farm, someways outside of Bantry town. I saw him from most days taking walks and we would pass the time, you know how it is. He was friendly enough. Not interested in taking in the tourist sites or anything like that, and he wasn’t a drinking man, not least in town but who knows what people do behind closed doors and it’s not for me to say.

He must have been here, in the valley just a few weeks. I’d see him walking 2 or 3 times a day, from the fields or my kitchen window you see.

Then this one day I see him rushing toward my house like a mad thing and it must have been around dusk then. Something had hold of him and no doubt. His clothes were sopping and grabbed at me talking gibberish and wouldn’t let go of my arms.

So I sat him down and got him speaking English and he said he had been out since morning walking. Walking and walking, he said he couldn’t stop and couldn’t find his way back.

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He was just walking around the same woodland path, through the creek, around a set of trees on that side of the creek, then he’d find himself back at the creek, walk through it to get to the other side, then around the same woodland path and back to the creek.

He was lost he said and every time he thought he figured the way out, he found himself back at the creek. And something telling him his house was on the other side of the creek so he crossed it and so it went over and again.

He was in a feckin torment. Had been going on for hours and hours so he said.

Well I gave it some thought and asked him, “Did you go near the old stones at all?” and he answered yes, he did.

And I told him I said “you don’t want to be going near those old stones. You’re after upsetting the Good Folk there”. Well o’course he had no idea of the Good Folk so I explained to him all I thought he need knowing, it wasn’t much but enough. “They’ve only put the Strey on you” I said, “They play tricks with your mind, get you lost and keep you lost. You can count yourself lucky they didn’t drown you in that creek”.

Well his face fell deathly pale and he made me walk with him, back to his wee house. He packed his bags and left. Right then. I walked with him to the road to Bantry and stood waiting with him until a car pulled up and gave him a ride.

Never saw that German again, poor fella got such a fright. But it’s true you know, what I said, he was lucky to get away with only a dose of the Strey. It could have been worse, much worse.

Barry – County Cork

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Our Cousin Quinn

This is a story that has been passed down, and around, my family for donkey’s years. As far as I know, it is the first time it has been written down and shared outside the family and I am curious to know if any of your readers have a similar story in their own family.

The last time I gave our cousin Quinn a thought was as passing mention in a paper for school. The subject was ‘The Good People’ (as we called them at the time) and their influence in County Galway, where my family had lived for many generations.

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My family moved from Ireland to Ottawa, Canada, 20 odd years ago but I was reminded of the story this past fall by my sister, who just returned from a visit to Ireland herself.

The story was always told by my Father, and not often, perhaps once a year at Christmas or Halloween. Now, my father was a pragmatic man, an Engineer in fact, not prone to sentimentality or melancholy, but when he told this story a change came over him. He spoke with a great reverence, as though every word were of enormous importance. (I also had a sense, even as a child, that he knew more than he told us and I wish now that I had pressed him to tell me more.)

Father always began by telling us that it was told him by his own Grandfather (on his Mother’s side) and that his Grandfather swore on the honour of his own Mother that every word of it was true.

Well here it is anyway, make of it what you will.

The story goes that in the year 1845, when the potato blight, or the Famine as it is commonly known, first struck, the Kelly’s (my Great Grandfather’s maternal ancestors), lived very near their cousins the Quinn’s. Both families were tenant farmers to the same landlord and by all accounts, they enjoyed a friendly association.

One thing of which Father was always adamant: the Kelly’s had no cause to speak ill, or muddy the name, of the Quinn’s. Then or now.

The two families, and their other neighbours, weathered the failed harvest of 1845 but disaster struck in 1846 when they were evicted from their cottages and forced to live on the road. The Kelly’s and the Quinn’s bid goodbye and travelled separately, scavenging for food as they went.

Months later, the Kelly’s and the Quinn’s crossed paths at a temporary ‘soup-kitchen’ provided by a wealthy landlord. (His generosity it is said, was dependent on the people promising to leave his lands once they had been fed.)

The Kelly’s were grieved to learn that Quinn’s wife, who was pregnant at the time of their eviction, had succumbed to hunger and died, leaving her husband to care for their 5 children. Worse still, was the state of Quinn himself. The story goes that he was half-mad with delirium.

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Statue of Man in Dublin Famine Memorial.

We all know it is not uncommon for law-abiding, God-fearing people to make ‘uncharacteristic’ decisions at desperate times but as 1847 approached, and with the country on verge of catastrophe, Quinn came to Kelly with a crazy, and ungodly, offer.

(At this point in the story, and I remember this well, Father would pause, gaze down at the floor and say “we must not judge him harshly. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If it were not for Quinn, we would none of us be here today”.)

Quinn, he told Kelly, had been visited by the Wee Folk. The Good People. The Faerie.

fairy-tale-1376064 (2)He said the Faerie had come to him that very morning as he kneeled beside the river, his children asleep on nearby grass. There were 2 of them and Quinn described them to Kelly as naked, with red skin and very long legs. The Faerie spoke to him in Irish and with great pity in their eyes asked after his suffering.

As Quinn explained his troubles, the Faerie edged closer and closer until they were crouching close beside him. Quinn told Kelly he felt no fear and did not shy when they each placed a red hand upon the skin and bone of his back. Indeed, he said he felt a great warmth pulse through his body and closed his eyes as he listened to the Faerie hum in harmony with each other.

On opening his eyes, Quinn saw the Faerie were now sat in front of him and his children, who were wide awake and curious. “You may come with us” they said to Quinn, “You will work and eat and dance and be safe from pain and suffering”.

Quinn and Kelly knew of the Good People and their ways and their dangers. Every descendant of Kelly to have told the story has said that under normal circumstances Quinn would never have risked his children’s lives to the Faerie but we must remember, those were far from normal circumstances.

Quinn excitedly told Kelly that the Faerie extended their invitation to his ‘kind and worthy’ kin and invited Kelly and his family to join him. But no amount of impassioned pleading could convince Kelly to leave off his chances on the road, and in the hands of his God, to join the land of the Faeries and so it was, Quinn and Kelly parted ways. This time forever.

But, that was not the end of the story. Before he walked his starving children back to the river, Quinn whispered something into Kelly’s ear.

That whisper not only saved the lives of the Kelly family, but secured the prosperity of their descendants.

It is said, and long believed, that Quinn told Kelly if he would not go with the Faerie, they would offer him a gift to save his family from starvation. Kelly was told to go, under cover of darkness, to the old Oak tree standing at the curve of the river and there, dig to a shallow hole where there was buried a small wooden box filled to brim with coins.

Kelly did this, and following Quinn’s advice, took his family across the waters to England. There Kelly bid his time until the year 1855 when they returned to County Galway and bought a cottage and parcel of land.

The Kelly’s, and their descendants, farmed this land until the 1970’s but it has since been sold off and the Kelly’s scattered across Ireland, Canada, America and Australia too. But, I’m happy to say there are still some of the old family there, in Galway. They welcomed my sister recently and reminded her of the tale of ‘mad’ Quinn who they still say is ‘off with the Faeries’.

Mad or not, isn’t Quinn still remembered some 170 years later? As for descendants of the Kelly’s, we are going strong and I think all of us (privately or openly) are grateful to Quinn, and the Faerie of Ireland.

From John – Ottawa, Canada.

The Faerie Dog

I had an encounter with a Faerie when I was 8 or 9 years old. I don’t remember a lot of it myself, although I definitely remember it happening. big-foot-1312500 (2)

Luckily my Mum was there too and has told the story so many times since it happened, I couldn’t forget it if I tried!

I live in Dublin now raising my own children, but back in 1972 when we had our ‘encounter’, we were living outside of Bunclody in the County Wexford.

So, the day I encountered the Faerie dog had been like any other day. I was after getting off the school bus to find that, once again, Mum was late and not there in the car to drive me home. This had happened a thousand times before and I knew what to do: stand still and wait for her. This I did, and can remember running the nine times table through my mind over and over, for to keep myself occupied.

So, I was there alone, the bus long gone and the road was quiet but I wasn’t worried. It was a safe town after all.beetle-free (2)

Then I noticed this olive green car with 2 men in it drive past me, real slow like, looking at me all the while, then a few minutes later it drove past going the other way, turned and came back toward me.

All of a sudden, this black dog, or it could have been brown, appeared out of no place and stood beside me. It was big. Not so big as a wolfhound but heavier. I think it had a real barrel chest and a thick, short coat but can’t be certain, and to this day, I couldn’t tell you if it were male or female.

Anyway, this dog rested a paw on my foot, hard like, pushing my foot into the ground as it stared at the car approaching us. I remember the sound of it growling low and deep so that its whole body shuddered and the fur on its back shackled upright.

I was scared stiff. Truly I couldn’t move a muscle, not knowing whether to stay or run or whether to be more scared of the dog or the car.

The car with the 2 men stopped right in front of me and the fella in the passenger seat rolled his window down and said something like “hop in and come for a ride”.

Next thing I know, he opened the car door, stepped a foot out onto the road and the dog flew at him, grabbed his leg, shook it hard and pulled on it something fierce, I thought he was going to rip his whole leg off!

I remember the fella shrieking high, like a girl, and his pal hollering at him to get back in the car. But he just kept shrieking and wailing.

The dog was latched on that fella’s leg and wasn’t letting go and I tell you, the snarl coming from it was like nothing I’d heard before, or since. Just the thought of it gives me shivers, even today.

And that’s when I noticed my Mum pull up in her car behind. She hurled herself from out behind the wheel and round her car and the driver of the car hit the pedal.

The shrieking man was dragged along the road, half in the car, half out of it, with the dog still attached to his leg. There was blood everywhere, all over the road, all over the dog. It was awful. I remember the smell of the blood, sweet but foul, like a gutted fish left sat in the Sun.

My Mum stood in the middle of the road, flailing her arms and hurling abuse after the car. The dog let go the man and the car sped off. I was crying, Mum was screaming and the dog… well it was stood in the middle of the road too, but then it turned and looked hard at Mum.

No word of a lie, with only one glare, that dog silenced my Mum (and if you knew my Mum you’d think it a miracle!).

The dog, blood covering its head and chest and still dripping from its jaw, walked right up and stood about a metre in front of her. The two of them stood staring at each other for about half a minute. It wasn’t long but I remember it felt like forever.

Do you know, not for a second did I think it would attack her, I don’t know why, I just knew it wouldn’t. Anyway, then the dog walked away toward the cluster of trees I guess it came out of and it was gone.

Without a word, Mum scooped me up and put me in the car, a mustard Cortina it was (I loved that car), grabbed paper and pencils from her bag, and shoved them at me. Then she barked at me to write down everything that just happened, and fast. Well this I did, and she did the same. Every now and again she would say, “EVERYTHING, WRITE EVERY LITTLE THING”.

We both finished and sat in silence for I don’t know how long until eventually my Mum said, “you were just saved by a Faerie. And if we aren’t careful, we’ll forget the whole thing”.

Mum drove like a Banshee to my Auntie’s house which was only 5 minutes from the bus stop, and burst through her door yelling “Nora, I’ve just been scolded by a Faerie!”.

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Aunt Nora

We told Auntie Nora everything we could remember and then passed her our written notes. I remember my Auntie raising an eyebrow and saying “There’s a lot you have written that you didn’t tell me. You are forgetting and no doubt”.

Then she frowned and said to Mum “Please tell me you didn’t thank the Faerie”.

Of course I didn’t thank the Faerie Nora, what sort of fool do you take me for? You never thank a Faerie!”

I didn’t have a scratch on me, nothing to prove what had happened, and then I remembered my foot. The weight of the dog pushing on my foot. I rolled my sock off and there it was, a purple bruised pawprint. I saw it with my own eyes, and showed it to Mum and Auntie too. Not that Auntie needed convincing, she always believed in the Good Folk. Sure, she’d have plenty of stories for you herself.

That was the day I encountered a Faerie of Ireland. I can safely say that every week of every month of every year since that day in 1972, either Mum or Auntie have told this story to someone, to keep it alive like, so it’s never forgotten. Thank goodness my Mum knew enough of the Faerie to write the experience down before it was lost to us.

Oh! I almost forgot the best part. When the dog stood in front of Mum and stared at her, she said she heard its voice in her own mind. She wrote down only moments later what it had said to her.

Manys the time I have watched over your unguarded daughter. If she is left alone once more, I will claim her to live among Faerie.”

From Sharon – Dublin, Ireland

Billy Connelly’s Secret

Well, I don’t know much about Faeries but my Auntie Yvonne sure thought she did.

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When I was a kid, we would haul our caravan from Liverpool twice a year and stay in the backyard of Yvonne’s house at Tenby in Wales. Of course, being a teenager at the time, I thought it was an utter ‘drag’ but now I have many fond memories of those holidays.

As to Auntie Yvonne, well she was one of a kind. Her house was full of cats. More than I could count, and more than she could name too. She would just call them all ‘sweetie’ or ‘dear’ or ‘darling’. I remember seeing cat hair just floating on the air and landing on food and in cups of tea. It never bothered Yvonne a dot.

The back door to her house stood open 9 months of the year, so the cats could go in and out unbothered and she had those macramé hanging baskets everywhere! Inside the house and outside. She said they afforded the Faerie a safe and pleasant place to land, or nap, away from the cats.

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Mind you, they all contained hard plants like cactus, “because” she said, “it’s all good and well for Faerie to visit, but I don’t want them so comfortable they want to stay“. So it was, while we would go to the beach or the park, Yvonne would stay home and spend half the day walking around with a watering can talking or singing to the plants, or perhaps wetting the Faerie!

And good God, she must have driven her neighbours made. From dawn til dusk you would hear her holler “I’m coming out now!” or, “I’m going in now!”. To warn the Faeries you see, in case any were crossing by her backdoor, Yvonne believed it a necessary courtesy to warn the Faerie of her movements so she didn’t step on them. She said that passing Faerie will always cross a doorway. I don’t know about that, but I know I never got a sleep in at Yvonne’s house, every morning from 5am I would be woken by her yelling “Coming out noooooow”.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about Yvonne and Billy Connelly.

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Once darkness fell, Yvonne’s life revolved around the telly, and why wouldn’t it, her telly was top of the range for the time. (No one really knows where she got her money from but that’s another story).

Yvonne covered her velvet lounge in crochet blankets which were themselves covered in cat hair. Mum and Dad sat with Yvonne and the cats on the lounge. Mum and Yvonne sipping their Pimm’s and lemonade, and Dad his beer,  but I refused to get covered in cat hair, (and wasn’t allowed the Pimm’s) so always sit on the purple vinyl pouf. That is how we spent every evening of our Tenby holiday, gathered around the telly.

If the telly was King, Michael Parkinson was its Prince. Yvonne adored him and och! I remember being mortified when she regaled us with all his sexy qualities.

Anyhow, Billy Connelly came to be a regular sort of guest on Parkinson’s show and I happened to be at Yvonne’s house several times when Connelly made an appearance. Every single time Connelly made his way down those stairs and sat down beside Parky, Yvonne lowered her voice to a hush and told us most earnestly that Connelly was “touched by the Faerie”.

Look at him” she’d say and point at the telly, “He wears the skin of an ordinary man but look, just look at how he has people enthralled. Mesmerized, euphoric, they forget themselves when he’s talking. Mark my word, he is no ordinary man. He is touched, there is no doubt. That is Faerie work”.

Then, she would sit back on her furry crochet blanket and laugh so hard she would pee herself. And this was a young woman, she must have been in her late 30’s at the time, with an otherwise healthy bladder, she would literally pee herself with laughter.

Connelly wasn’t the only person she thought ‘touched’ by Faerie. I can tell you that, according to Yvonne, Charlie Chaplin, Van Gogh and Elvis Presley were also ‘touched’.

Well, if it is true Faerie ‘touch’ some ordinary people, turn them into something a little bit special, then Yvonne was surely touched herself. She was an extraordinary woman. I wish I had taken the time to talk to her more, to know her better. I can’t help thinking this world would be a better place if there were more people like my Auntie Yvonne.

From Michelle, Liverpool, UK

At Wicklow Station

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I’ve never told anyone this before, and I don’t know for certain what it was I saw, but I’ll tell you what happened anyway.

A couple of years ago, I was taking the Wicklow-Dublin train, it was summer, around dusk. Dark outside, but not so dark I couldn’t see. The train was sat at Wicklow station, just waiting to depart and I was looking out the window at those big trees on the west side which overlook the tracks. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but anyhow, right up the top of the second to biggest tree was perched 3 ‘creatures’.

I could make out their form and definitely see their eyes because they were glowing red. At a guess I’d say they were each the size a bear cub, and they were covered in a thick coat which must have been a brown, definitely not black because I wouldn’t have seen them at all, but for the glowing eyes.

Anyway, they were sat up there looking down and it felt like they were looking right at me. The lights were on in the carriage so I’ve no doubt they could see me.

And now this is why I have never told anyone. As the train crunched into gear and began moving, one of the ‘creatures’ raised its hand or paw or whatever it was, and waved.

I remember being sure it was waving at me and I instinctively waved back!

Whenever I’m at the station I look for them in the trees but have never seen them again.

I’m not saying they were Faerie, but I don’t know what they were. Not any animal I’ve ever seen before, ever, let alone in a Wicklow tree!

Liam – Wicklow

The Night Visitor

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Bridget McManus was my Mother and it must be said, was as sensible as the day is long. She told me this Tale not long before she passed in 1962.

In around 1920, my parents, Donal and Bridget McManus, were both in their early twenties and not long married.

Donal had an uncle, his Mother’s brother, there in Chicago who promised him work and a place to stay until they got theirselves settled and, I suppose, it seemed a grand offer.

Donal and Bridget bid a warm farewell to both their families and emigrated from Kilkenny, Ireland to Chicago, America in search of prosperity and adventure. And so it was, adventure they found, only not in the shape they had dreamed of.

This Tale finds them only weeks after arriving in Chicago. Donal and Bridget were asleep in the attic room of Uncle’s house, enjoying the deep sleep reserved for those with a clear conscience.

Bridget woke first. She heard 3 knocks at the Attic window. An impossibility sure, and yet she swore it were true. So, Bridget heard 3 knocks and sat up to see her there. Sat at the end of their bed, smiling silently was Donal’s own Mother, Orla.

There was nothing unnatural to her appearance, she looked altogether familiar: her Sunday shawl wrapped around her shoulders, her hair curled and her hands resting softly in her lap.

Bridget shook Donal to wake and they both sat up and looked upon the vision of Orla: sitting with the grace of her renown, and smiling, just smiling.

Donal spoke and this is what he said: “Mother dear, why have you come? What have you to tell me dearest?” But his Orla did not answer. She tilted her head a little and smiled warmly then disappeared from before their eyes. Donal and Bridget both swear they felt a weight lift from the bed as she disappeared.

There was no more sleep to be had that night and no drop of whiskey or pot of tea could settle their helpless agitation. Donal and Bridget dressed and waited, pacing the floor or gazing out the attic window.

When dawn arrived, Donal told his uncle of the apparition. As Donal spoke, the breath in Uncle’s chest tightened and he fell pale. “Tis the Good People” he said, “they have followed our kin across the western sea. Didn’t the very same thing happen to my cousin, there in Boston… I am afraid dear Donal, dire news is upon the wind”.

Donal hurried to the Church Rectory for to ask a kindness. Very few people had a telephone of their own in the day so, as was the way of things, he turned to the Church for help. Donal used the church telephone to call the telephone in the Church at Kilkenny, and heard the news he had dreaded.

Donal’s Mother had passed on only hours before. It was sudden and, they said, painless. She had been strong as an ox until the minute she died.

Donal was terribly shaken. He returned to Uncle’s house wearing the face  of a Motherless son. “She came for to say goodbye” is all he said.

Emigration may have promised Donal and Bridget a heavy purse but aren’t some things more important anyway?

That very day, they left Chicago for New York and the first voyage home

Joe McManus

Playing with Pond Faerie

This is a story which my father has told me about my childhood. I was too young to remember any of the details so I will be relying on my father’s veracity, yet he isn’t a man prone to fantasy.

The incident occurred when I was a young child… possibly around 6 years of age. I was a blonde, curly haired, boy who wasn’t one for wandering.

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We were on a family picnic at a large park. The park was kind of in the country, but not too far from town. There were various areas of trees and bushes, as well as many ponds of green tinged water. There were other families about, but they were doing their own things away from us.

At some point I had gone for a wander to play and my parents paid me little attention until they noticed I had been gone for a while. Despite this, they were not too worried, we were in the country and it wasn’t a very populated area.

After a while, my father noticed I had been gone for some time and decided to go look for me. He wandered about the park and didn’t see me with any of the other children. He walked round and round without finding any trace of me. Apparently, he was starting to get a little worried, yet he was sure I was still there somewhere… he told me he was thinking that I was just hiding from him.

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He walked to the edge of one of the ponds and listened, to hear if he could find me. While he listened, he looked down at the water and noticed an odd bright green plant a short distance under the water. The plant appeared strange to him and something about it peaked his curiosity.

For a reason he can’t explain, he got down on his knees and reached into the water, and grasped the bright green plant.

He pulled the plant out and as it started to emerge, he realised it wasn’t a plant, it was my hair which he had grasped.

He lifted me into the air and I just looked at him calmly, then he put me on the grass and I sat down peacefully. He stared at me in shock and asked me what happened. In my childish language I told him that I was playing with some other children. They told me to follow them into the water and I was playing with them there, under the water.

The weirdest thing about this story is that I was sitting on the bottom of the pond for several minutes. I wasn’t hurt in any way and when I emerged I was calm and acted as though nothing traumatic had happened.

Danny – County Kerry