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Fairy rings

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  • My understanding of a fairy ring is a circle of fungi, I don't think these would have created physical raised areas, the fungi just continue to grow outward. Fairy ring in that sense is English as well as Irish.

    Fairy fort and ring fort would be interchangeable to my knowledge, and to some extent any evidence of a circular formation, especially one with hawthorn trees, would be considered a fairy fort. It only needs one family member going back generations to refer to any site of a similar kind as a fairy fort or fairy ring and it will be picked up and passed on and become local wisdom, the accepted description.

    The essential difference is that ring fort is an archeological term whereas fairy fort is purely legend and superstition.

    I had someone yesterday trying to convince me that any 'fairy fort' was called a souterraine, because that is what his grandson archeologist had told him. Its very easy for information to get scrambled.




  • looksee wrote: »
    My understanding of a fairy ring is a circle of fungi, I don't think these would have created physical raised areas, the fungi just continue to grow outward. Fairy ring in that sense is English as well as Irish.

    Fairy fort and ring fort would be interchangeable to my knowledge, and to some extent any evidence of a circular formation, especially one with hawthorn trees, would be considered a fairy fort. It only needs one family member going back generations to refer to any site of a similar kind as a fairy fort or fairy ring and it will be picked up and passed on and become local wisdom, the accepted description.

    The essential difference is that ring fort is an archeological term whereas fairy fort is purely legend and superstition.

    I had someone yesterday trying to convince me that any 'fairy fort' was called a souterraine, because that is what his grandson archeologist had told him. Its very easy for information to get scrambled.

    From what I can gather, that's about the size of it.
    I think where I went awry in my understanding is that where I grew up in Galway city there was a ring fort at the end of our street, where it was a common place for all the kids to play in. Hardly anyone called it a fairy fort- that term was generally ignored. So thanks for that (everyone). Additionally, I think I've been mistaking small rundown ring forts for large fairy rings; I would think then that the vast majority of what I had thought of as fairy rings would be proven on the map from earlier posts as ring forts, which, apparently, are also generally called fairy forts (;)).




  • Sorry if it’s a stupid question but was there some value attached to burying an infant at a fairy fort, in a folklore sense? Was there a tradition or reason for it?




  • Sorry if it’s a stupid question but was there some value attached to burying an infant at a fairy fort, in a folklore sense? Was there a tradition or reason for it?

    Don't know about the folklore sense.

    But from a practical view, if your child wasn't allowed to be buried in a consecrated burial ground it was the next best option in that you knew that the ground wasn't going to interfered with. Either their remains turned up by the plough or a house being built on top. Hasn't worked out like that always nowadays but you'd be thinking the same at the time for your loved ones to have some peace when they pass on.


    Time erases all memory though and there's many a farmer clearing stones from fields now that could have been burial markers. I even know of land stone clearances that farmers knew were gravestones and marked as burial ground on ordinance survey maps but still cleared to reseed land and cut silage off and protect the silage harvester. Many's the rath has been cleared in this area too not protected by superstition anymore.




  • Don't know about the folklore sense.

    But from a practical view, if your child wasn't allowed to be buried in a consecrated burial ground it was the next best option in that you knew that the ground wasn't going to interfered with. Either their remains turned up by the plough or a house being built on top. Hasn't worked out like that always nowadays but you'd be thinking the same at the time for your loved ones to have some peace when they pass on.


    Time erases all memory though and there's many a farmer clearing stones from fields now that could have been burial markers. I even know of land stone clearances that farmers knew were gravestones and marked as burial ground on ordinance survey maps but still cleared to reseed land and cut silage off and protect the silage harvester. Many's the rath has been cleared in this area too not protected by superstition anymore.

    Ah right that makes sense thank you.
    Real shame to see them being cleared innocently or otherwise


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  • Sorry if it’s a stupid question but was there some value attached to burying an infant at a fairy fort, in a folklore sense? Was there a tradition or reason for it?

    Exactly as Say my Name has stated.
    Plus it might have been a small comfort to know your still born infant was buried in land that may have been considered special to the ancients.
    Easier to remember the exact spot as well.




  • Nekarsulm wrote: »
    Exactly as Say my Name has stated.
    Plus it might have been a small comfort to know your still born infant was buried in land that may have been considered special to the ancients.
    Easier to remember the exact spot as well.

    That’s what I was thinking. I’d say apart from the practical element of the body not being disturbed there had to have been a special element to it into the ‘superstitious’ as we deem it now. It’s 2019 and we’re still talking about it in context in fairness. We were far more respe turbo and adherent to all this stuff back then.

    There almost certainly would have been some lore or traditional aspect to it.




  • Sorry if it’s a stupid question but was there some value attached to burying an infant at a fairy fort, in a folklore sense? Was there a tradition or reason for it?
    I was going to ask this question as well, in the form "why ring forts- and not cillíní.":)
    Don't know about the folklore sense.

    But from a practical view, if your child wasn't allowed to be buried in a consecrated burial ground it was the next best option in that you knew that the ground wasn't going to interfered with. Either their remains turned up by the plough or a house being built on top. Hasn't worked out like that always nowadays but you'd be thinking the same at the time for your loved ones to have some peace when they pass on.
    The practical view does seem to be the most plausible one.

    The burials within the ring forts relates to the initial question I posed in post #111; "what's the difference between a cillín and a lios/lisheen?". The plaque round the corner from me reads:""In loving memory of the little children buried in this and other lisheens in the parish", yet the map (https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=110167384&postcount=8) shows it as a cillín. From what I've learned here, I assume then that it is a lisheen, but that because of the burials it is officially a cillín. So it was originally a lisheen (the inner part of a ring fort), but was subsequently used as cillín. Would that be right?




  • I was going to ask this question as well, in the form "why ring forts- and not cillíní.":)


    The practical view does seem to be the most plausible one.

    The burials within the ring forts relates to the initial question I posed in post #111; "what's the difference between a cillín and a lios/lisheen?". The plaque round the corner from me reads:""In loving memory of the little children buried in this and other lisheens in the parish", yet the map (https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=110167384&postcount=8) shows it as a cillín. From what I've learned here, I assume then that it is a lisheen, but that because of the burials it is officially a cillín. So it was originally a lisheen (the inner part of a ring fort), but was subsequently used as cillín. Would that be right?

    We've no lisheens in this part of the world, south east. It all raths.
    There is a townsland called Killeen where on the old maps it marks a spot as a killeen burial ground and the road going to this is called Killeen lane. It's very close to a modern c of i church which is just across the road from a multidenominational old church site and old burial ground. So it's seems to reason it was close by the church grounds that maybe the rector or priest or whoever officiated at the burial at this killeen?
    I think this killeen was in a rath beside the lane.

    As I said though there's no use of the word lisheen around here. So in ignorance I assume it to mean a small rath.




  • Nothing unusual for a newer religeon to appropriate an older religeons site.
    Christianity did it wholesale, with sites, festivals, the whole shebang.
    Even Jesus's story is lifted to a degree from an earlier Persian religeon of Roman soldiers called Mithraism, (who was born on December 25th).
    One of his temples was discovered in London during building works, was preserved and can be visited.


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