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The Faerie Kings

The great Faerie king of Co. Galway in the west of Ireland is Finnbheara (Finnvarr). Cnoc Meadha is his abode, a prominent hill west of Tuam, on top of which is a burial mound. To the north west is Magh Tuireadh, where the legendary battle between the Fir Bolgs and the Tuatha De Danaans took place.

There are many stories which illustrate Finnbheara's liking for earthly women. He would often draw young girls away to dance all night with him in his palace, but the next morning they were always found safely asleep in bed. One particular nobleman was not so fortunate, however. His bride was taken one time by the Faerie king. The bride's old nurse told the noble that he must dig down into the sidhe mound, starting at the top. But during the night the fairies of the mound filled the tunnel back in with earth. This happened again on the second night. In despair the nobleman turned to the old nurse again, who told him to sprinkle the earth with salt and place a line of burning turf around the trench, as the sidhe could not resist that. The following morning the bride was found safe in her bed.

Finnbheara is also known to love horses, and he is usually seen riding a black horse with flaring red nostrils.

Donn of Knockfierna

In Co. Limerick the Faerie king Donn of Knockfierna is well remembered. There is a large earthern fort on his hill and a number of dolmens known as the 'Giants Graves'. You can see the entrance to his Faerie palace. Donn is the ancient Celtic god of the Dead who rules the rocky islands to the south west on the Atlantic coast. Donn is also known in Co. Fermanagh as the ancestor of the Maguires, whom he helped in their battles. Sometimes he is seen riding on a white horse on stormy nights, when people would exclaim: "Donn is galloping in the clouds tonight". Donn now more closely resembles a medieval Irish landlord than a god. He rules quite strictly but will aid his people when needed. He is also believed to fight against rival hosts in other counties, the winner carrying off the best potato crop for that year.

It will be noted that the Faerie queens and kings are in fact the old pagan gods and goddesses 'in disguise' who have long been revered by the Irish. It has been said that the Celtic gods of Ireland had long been wiped out, buried under the sway of Catholicism. Yet anyone who has been to Ireland, or listened to her many folk tales can see for themselves that this is very far from the reality. The old gods live on in folk tales as the giants of the hill; the Gobhan

Saor who built all the bridges of Ireland; the Gille Decair, a clown and trickster; the carl (serf) of the drab coat and many others. The old deities were once worshipped throughout Ireland, however it is in the west that they are best remembered now, the east having been more Christianized and anglicised, and subject to more invasions. By contrast, the west of Ireland, to which the native Irish were driven ("to hell or Connaught") has held on longer to her ancient heritage.