Searching for Fairies in Ireland: Can YOU Spot the Wee People in my Photos?!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: traveling Ireland is like stepping into a fairytale.

I absolutely adore the fact that so many locals swear by the tales I was told of; from a giant building a bridge from Ireland to Scotland to the presence of fairies, the Irish sure know how to tell a story or two. Fairies, however, might not just be all about tales…..

On my tour of Ireland with Shamrocker Adventures, we stopped at a fairy fort. A fairy, what? Yes, I said a fairy fort. You see, there are fairy trees that grow all throughout Ireland; these trees are said to be portals between earth and the fairy world. These magical dwellings are actually Hawthorn trees, protected and thought to be bad luck if cut down or if even bumped into. When traveling through the countryside, you can actually see lone Hawthorn trees in the middle of a farmers field, or even in the middle of a roadway (one caused so much commotion, it halted the construction of a road for months!), seeing as no one will disturb them to avoid a curse.

(If you want to hear how serious some people take the curse of the fairies, should you destroy one of their trees, check out some of this bad luck.)

Before we were able to experience the fort, we first had to be lectured in an extremely serious tone: “NO one is to break the rules I am about to tell you or else you will NOT be allowed to continue the tour with us.” Whoa! I was not sure what was so serious, but the stories that followed definitely made me ponder on the thought of “what if”…

1.) Almost every time Dave (our tour guide) goes to the fairy fort, he gets a really weird feeling.
2.) During one tour with another guide, a guy ran up to a fairy tree and peed on it. When the group returned to the bus, it wouldn’t start, and had to wait hours for another one to come and pick them up. The bus made it all the way to the stranded group, but wouldn’t start once it was all loaded. They ended up going through something like 5 buses that day until one finally was able to drive away from the fort, and spent hours stranded in the middle of nowhere.
3.) During another tour with another guide, a guy kicked a tree, took a step, fell and broke his ankle.

So, we were told numerous times to NOT mess with the fairies. (This goes hand in hand with that link above about messing with the trees!) Upon entering you MUST say hello to the fairies, and when leaving you MUST thank them for allowing you into their fort. Also, we were told to not, under any circumstances, stray off of the path and into the fort.

The fort itself is something that you could easily drive right past without knowing what it was about; it simply looks like a ring of trees with a stump in the middle of the ring. Per the rules, we were not allowed into the ring, as that is reserved only for the locals who “understand and know how the tiny little guys work,” but we were able to walk around the ring, which was mostly like walking on mounds of tree roots.

The outer ring of the fairy fort

Now, of course we all wanted to see a freakin’ fairy, and we were told that there’s a chance! You have to take pictures of the stump in the middle of the field; the stump is the remnants of the original fairy tree, which fell over, but now a new tree is sprouting from the very stump. If a fairy is present, then blue orbs will appear in the photo taken of the stump. All around the stump are pieces of ribbon and cloths tied; these are left from the locals who are praying to the fairies, and again, only the locals can do so.

If you zoom into some of my pictures, you can see some blue streaks of lights, said to be fairies. Whether or not they actually are is another question, but I definitely admire the beliefs of the Irish!

Now, you’re probably going to think “why the heck am I looking at the same pictures of trees and a stump?!” …. zoom in on a few and you can see some blue streaks flight/orbs (they appear around the stump, since it’s the original fairy tree). One of my friends from the tour is sending me a picture that she took, which has crazy orbs; once I get it, I’ll update my post with her picture. Again, you have to look very closely to see a streak of blue, which only shows in a couple of my photos, so try to see if you can spot one!

Fairies or not, visiting a fairy fort was actually a pretty cool experience; I LOVE learning about local cultures and beliefs when I travel, and keeping with Irish folklore, it definitely makes the country that more lovable!

What are your thoughts on searching for fairies in Ireland? If you’ve been to a fort and have any cool pictures I’d love to see them!

UPDATE: Here’s my friend’s picture with more blue orbs:

dani fairy pic
Photo credit: Daniela Martens

A HUGE thanks to Shamrocker Adventures for hosting my travels and allowing me to soak up the magic of the fairy fort! All opinions, like always, are my own.

About The Roaming Bean (109 Articles)
You're probably wondering what the heck is a "Roaming Bean"... Given that I am clearly not a Bean, and my name is Jen, what gives with this Bean thing, right? A friend of mine called me JenBean as a child, and it kinda stuck. Actually, it really stuck... even my license plate says Jenbean. And seeing as I have this grand lust to wander the world, The Roaming Bean seemed suitable. I've changed my career path more times than I have my underwear (minus all the times I've gone commando).... from animating, to forensic pathology, to international business, to fashion marketing and even to my wonderful and favorite of the bunch, degree in culinary arts, nothing kept my attention. Nothing was fun enough to do every day for the rest of my life. I mean, even though I cooked for celebrities in the heart of Hollywood, CA, why the hell would I want to sweat my ass off in a ridiculously HOT kitchen for most of the day and go home smelling like beef and onions? And the chef hat?? Do you know what that did to my hair?? Enter traveling.... The rainy day I descended down the tower of Notre Dame in Paris, gripping on to the railing for dear life so not to slip and tumble to an early death from the torrential down pour that was causing a small flood in the stairwell, my life changed. When I safely made it to the ground, legs shaky from an apparent lack of fitness it requires to walk up and down 387 steep stairs, I realized my hands were stained a delightful copper color from the rusted hand rail I had so dearly clung to. Desperate to get the icky stuff off my supple hands, and no running water in sight, I did what any other hopeless idiot would have done: I washed my hands in the nearest Parisian gutter. It was that moment that changed my life... I threw away my hair dryer, my rolling luggage and my dignity. I let my hair go natural, I bought a back pack and I CAMPED through Europe for a month and a half. Yes my friends, I crossed over into a savage traveling beast. Ok, a lot of people travel that way. But I didn't. And I'm so incredibly thankful for that rainy day in Paris that made me realize the world is a pretty sweet place. That realization led me on a quest; a quest to get out there, see things, soak up some local culture and eat my way around the world (with minimal food-related illnesses, such as but not limited to raging diarrhea).

8 Comments on Searching for Fairies in Ireland: Can YOU Spot the Wee People in my Photos?!

  1. I wish I could come across a fairy. Nice article I really enjoyed it. I found another interesting peace on Irish fairies and elves online. I enjoy all of the mythology Ireland has to offer.

  2. Hi. Where is the Fairy Fort located?

  3. Searching for Fairies in Ireland: Can YOU Spot the Wee People in my Photos?! « The Roaming Bean

  4. Heh – given my experience in Ireland, you’d think I’d cut down one of the trees, chopped it up, lit the wood on fire, and roasted marshmallows…

    I’m against kicking trees in general practice, anyway. After all, the bark protects the vascular tissue, the most important part of the tree. Doesn’t anybody watch The Lorax anymore? (The classic 70’s animated 16mm film we all saw in elementary school, that is, not that new… uh… thing…)

    • Oh man! Maybe you did disrupt one of their trees with the lack of luck you had! (I’m very happy, by the way, that you can approach a terrible situation with some sort of humor!…)

      And the only Lorax I know is the original 🙂

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