The [Real] Story of the Fairy Trees in Ireland – A Magical and Mystical Journey

Published Categorized as Tree Symbolism
fairy trees

Fairy Trees

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most magical places on earth: a real Fairy Tree in Ireland.

I mean a real one!

And while that may sound like something out of a children’s storybook, there is actually a long history and rich tradition surrounding these mystical trees.

If you’re ever lucky enough to visit them, it is a lifelong experience!

What Is a Fairy Tree?

A Fairy Tree is a type of plant found in Irish folklore. It is believed to be sacred to the fairies, and serves as a gateway between this realm and that of the fairies. Fairy trees are treated with utmost respect, as offending them may incur the wrath of the fairies.

Fairy trees were left standing alone in fields when the Celts cleared them for settlement purposes, and hundreds of years later people speculated that they were a gateway between two worlds – the mortal world and the world of fairies.

fairy trees in ireland

Fairy trees can be either Hawthorn or Ash trees. They have traditionally been used in Ireland for medicinal purposes such as treating stomach disorders and fevers, as well as relieving pain during childbirth. The wood from these trees was also used to make wands for divination rituals or protective charms against evil spirits or curses.

Fairy tree leaves were once used to make tea that was thought to induce visions similar to those experienced while under hypnosis or meditation.

Fairy Trees in Ireland

According to legend, centuries ago, when fairies still roamed free in Ireland, there was an ancient oak tree known as “Druid’s Oak”. The Druids worshipped this oak tree, believing it had magical powers that could heal all ailments, protect against evil spirits and bring good fortune to its worshippers.

One day while a Druid priestess was performing a ritual under the oak tree, she heard voices calling out from within it. She soon discovered that these voices belonged to two beautiful fairy princesses who had been trapped inside it since ancient times when they were captured by an evil sorcerer named King Nuath.

When they were set free by the priestess’s magic spell of liberation, they asked if they could stay with her at her home near the oak tree so that they could learn about human life on earth in exchange for sharing their magical powers with her forevermore. The fairy princesses soon became great friends with King Nuath’s daughter.

How do Fairy Trees figure in Irish folklore?

Irish folklore tells us that Fairy trees are a getaway for two worlds to collide. These two worlds are the mortal world and the other-world of fairies, with the trees and forts acting as an entrance between them. The faeries who moved to the otherworld became known as Sidhe or Wee Folk, who had many entrances to their world including in burial mounds, underwater and at the base of Fairy trees.

 fairy trees

According to Irish Mythology there are four different cycles which describe how faeries moved to their otherworld home. When Milesians or Gaels arrived in Ireland they took up a dispute with Tuatha Dé Danann children of Goddess Danu who retired underground becoming known as fairy people or sidhe (wee folk).

This explains why these gateways were so important for movement between worlds and heavily protected by magic with Pookas or Leprechauns often spotted at Fairy tree locations.

Legends and tales about the fairy trees

The ancient Irish believed that they could communicate with the Fairie folk by visiting their sacred sites like fairy trees or forts, where they would leave offerings such as milk, wine or bread in exchange for blessings or protection against evil spirits. According to legend, those who were brave enough could even enter the other-world through these mystical portals found in ancient oak trees.

fairy trees in ireland

In more recent times, people have reported strange sightings near fairy tree locations such as strange lights hovering above them at night time; unexplainable noises coming from inside them; sudden changes in weather around them; animals behaving strangely around them (such as not approaching a tree despite being hungry); apparitions appearing out of nowhere near them.

Fairy Tree Stories from Ireland

There are many stories associated with Irish Fairie trees, such as:

  1. The famous Ballytore Castle in County Wicklow is thought to be built on top of a fairy fort which was once used as an entrance between the mortal world and other-worlds.
  2. The Hill of Tara in County Meath is believed to be home to many fairies due to its abundance of Fairy Trees that still stand today; it is also known as one of Ireland’s ancient sacred sites since prehistoric times due its importance in religious ceremonies associated with paganism and druidic practices .

Magic and powers of the fairy trees

The fairy trees in Ireland are believed to have powerful magic and supernatural powers. They are considered sacred by many and treated with utmost respect, as they may take revenge on those who offend them. Some of the powers attributed to fairy trees include:

  1. Being gateways between this realm and that of the fairies, allowing them to travel between their own world and ours.
  2. Acting as meeting places for supernatural beings such as fairies or gods.
  3. Protecting itself from harm using sharp woody thorns or serrated leaves.
  4. Inspiring awe and wonder in those who come across it due to its magic aura or beauty (e.g., a lone hawthorn tree growing in the middle of a field).

Mythology and deities, gods of the trees

Myths and folklore associated with fairy trees in Ireland include gods and goddesses such as Brighid, who was worshipped as a goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. Other deities associated with the trees include Aengus Óg, the god of love; Manannán mac Lir, the sea god; and Lugh, the god of light.

The mythology surrounding fairy trees in Ireland is complex and varied due to its long history. It is believed that each tree is inhabited by a different deity or spirit that protects it from harm.

Some stories tell of fairies dancing around these sacred groves while others describe them as magical places where people can find peace or even cure their ailments. In some cases it is said that those who enter these forests never return again because they are magically transported to another world entirely.

Sidhe – Fairy folk

A sidhe is a supernatural being in Irish mythology. It is thought that the Sidhe or fairy folk descended from the Tuatha de Danann, Ireland’s most ancient supernatural race. The Tuatha de Danann were banished by the Milesians to live underground among the trees and bushes, where they became known as the sidhe or fairy folk.

Types of Sidhe (Sídhe)

There are three main types of sídhe in Ireland: The daoine sídhe (fairy people), the clurichaun (house spirit), and the leprechaun (mischievous elf).

  1. The daoine sídhe were said to be magical beings who lived in hills and mounds. They had great powers, such as shapeshifting into animals or people, controlling the weather, and granting wishes to those who visited their homes.
  2. The clurichaun is a mischievous spirit that lives inside of an old wine cellar or brewery. It likes to play pranks on humans by stealing wine or beer from them. The clurichaun has been known to cause mischief in homes where it has been summoned through rituals involving offerings of alcohol.
  3. The leprechaun is a small creature with magical powers that lives in forests near rivers or lakes. It wears green clothing, loves gold coins, and makes shoes for fairies out of dew collected from morning grasses .

What are the different types of fairy trees in Ireland

1. King-Tree – property of the fairy folk

A King-Tree is a Hawthorn or Ash tree that stands alone in fields and has large stones circling its base. It is believed to be the property of the fairy folk, and therefore it is considered taboo for humans to interfere with it.

In Irish folklore, these trees were often left standing when land was cleared for settlement purposes hundreds of years ago. It was believed that these trees held special powers associated with life and nature, so they were left untouched out of respect.

Today, King-Trees are still respected by many people in Ireland as they are thought to have magical properties that can protect those who visit them or live near them.

4. Sacred Trees

The sacred trees of Ireland are the Celtic Tree of Life, the Hawthorn tree and the Ash tree. The Celtic Tree of Life is a symbol of life, respect and protection in Irish folklore. The Hawthorn tree is associated with Bealtane, an ancient Celtic festival in Spring, and was considered a sacred tree due to its symbolic meaning. The Ash tree was also revered by the Celts as it provided them with wood for their homes and tools.

fairy trees

5. Beltane Tree

The Beltane Tree is a type of tree that is associated with the ancient Celtic festival of Bealtane. It was considered sacred, symbolizing love and protection, and was not to be disturbed. The Hawthorn tree in particular is thought to be a popular fairy tree due to its connection with this festival.

The Beltane Tree has become popular as a fairy tree because it represents nature’s beauty, strength, and fertility. It stands as an important symbol of life in Irish folklore and represents the connection between humans and nature. By leaving one tree standing alone in each field when they were cleared for settlement purposes hundreds of years ago, the Celts showed their respect for trees‘ role in life and nature – making them an even more significant symbol today.

6. Birch Tree

Birch trees are tall, slender trees with smooth grey bark. They are native to Ireland and can grow up to 30 meters tall. The leaves are triangular in shape and turn a brilliant yellow in the fall.

The birch tree is associated with the pagan goddess Brighid, who was believed to have special powers over healing, prophecy, fertility and prosperity. The ancient Celts considered it a sacred tree that provided protection from evil spirits.

fairy trees, birch tree

7. Hawthorn – Fairy tree

The hawthorn tree has long been associated with Ireland, dating back to ancient times. The Celtic festival of Bealtaine, which occurred in spring around the time of the blossoming of the hawthorn flowers, was considered a most auspicious time by our stone age and pre-Christian ancestors. The tree itself was imbued with sacred significance and became a focal point for these ceremonies.

It is believed that farmers must exercise great care when working around lone Hawthorn trees so as not to desecrate them; otherwise misfortune may befall them or their livestock.

fairy trees, hawthorne tree

8. Cherry Blossom Tree

Cherry blossom trees are also known as sakura trees. They are a type of flowering tree native to Asia, with distinctive pink blossoms that bloom in the springtime. The cherry blossom tree is an unusual type of fairy tree in Ireland because it is normally found in warmer climates, such as Japan or China.

Although the cherry blossom tree does not grow naturally in Ireland, it can still be used as a fairy garden accessory due to its beautiful appearance and symbolic meaning.

fairy trees, cherry blossom tree

9. Willow Tree

The Willow Tree is a species of tree that grows in Ireland. It is characterized by its long, slender branches that often droop towards the ground. The willow tree has long been associated with sorrow and grief due to its ability to shed its leaves quickly in response to changing environmental conditions.

In Ireland, it was believed that if you broke off a branch from a willow tree on All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), you would dream about your future husband/wife the following night.

Many people believed that if you slept under the shade of a willow tree during hot summer days then you would suffer from nightmares. Furthermore, some traditional healers used parts of the willow tree for medicinal purposes such as using its bark for pain relief or an anti-inflammatory agent.

fairy trees, willow tree

10. Blackthorn Tree – associated with Samhain

The blackthorn tree (Prunus spinosa) is a deciduous tree native to Europe and Asia. It grows up to 25 meters tall, has dark green pinnate leaves, and white flowers that bloom in the springtime. The blossoms are followed by small black berries that can be used for food or medicine. The wood of the blackthorn tree is hard and durable, making it popular for use in tools such as pitchforks and walking sticks.

In Ireland, the blackthorn tree is associated with Samhain (late October), representing the dark side of the year, while its counterpart—the hawthorn—represents the light side of life.

fairy trees, blackthorne tree

Blackthorn trees are considered sacred by many cultures around the world due to their magical powers; however, they also hold warnings against harming them due to their fierce nature when provoked.

For example, according to one folk tale from Oxfordshire collected by folklorist Ruth Tongue , anyone who dares cut down an old blackthorn will have their house burned down by fairies as punishment for their actions .

How to find and visit a fairy tree in Ireland?

These magical Fairy Trees can be found all over Ireland – just keep an eye out for any lone hawthorn trees!

  1. Identify a lone hawthorn or ash tree which is most prominent in the countryside. Fairy trees are often easy to spot as lone fixtures within a meadow or along a rock wall. Look for sharp, woody thorns and serrated leaves on the tree in springtime.
  2. Visit places of ancient pagan importance, holy sites and random fields in Ireland that are known to have fairy trees nearby. Some popular suggestions include The Hill of Tara located in County Meath; St Brigid’s Well located in County Kildare; Killary Harbour located in Connemara; Ben Bulbin located in County Sligo and Knockainy located in County Limerick.
  3. Capture the magic: The magic of a fairy tree isn’t hidden in a fairy door or garden – it’s deep within the earth surrounding the tree as the conduit to the Otherworld.
  4. Respect the trees by not disturbing them as they may grant you good fortune for doing so!

FAQ

Are Fairy Trees a real phenomenon?

Even these days many superstitions are associated with fairy trees, and they are treated with utmost respect in order to avoid any possible repercussions from offending the fairies.

For example, there is a story about two men who cut down a fairy tree without respecting its sanctity. According to legend, this angered the fairies who then cursed both men: one died immediately after chopping down the tree while another took his own life in despair years later after he was unable to recover from his grief over losing his partner.

Modern-day delays caused by concerns over “sacred” fairy trees can also be considered evidence of their existence since people still believe they have special powers today despite advancements in science and technology .

fairy trees

Yes, there are many superstitions and taboos related to fairy trees. For example, it is believed that

  • damaging or cutting down a fairy tree will bring misfortune to the offender for the rest of their life.
  • Taking a bough from a blooming fairy tree during spring is also considered bad luck.
  • People also tie strips of fabrics and beads around the branches in hopes that it will be blessed with good luck.

How do Fairy Trees represent Irish culture?

Fairy trees represent Irish culture because they are a source of fascination and enchantment. The connection between Fairy Trees and Ireland’s culture can be seen through their importance in folklore stories and their symbolism as protectors of gateways between worlds.

Additionally, their significance as symbols of connection to one another and the universe is representative of Ireland’s rich culture.

What makes a tree a fairy tree?

What makes a tree a fairy tree is its location and the type of tree it is. According to Irish folklore, a lone hawthorn tree growing in the middle of a field is considered to be a fairy tree.

Other types of trees may also be considered as fairy trees depending on their location, such as an ash growing in an area known for its supernatural activity.

fairy trees

Are all hawthorn trees fairy trees?

All hawthorn trees are not fairy trees. Only those that are found in isolated locations or at ancient sites or holy wells are considered to be fairy trees. Hawthorn and Ash trees that grow on farmlands or in other areas are not considered to be fairy trees.

The location of the tree makes it special and gives it magical properties associated with faeries, which makes it different from other Hawthorn or Ash trees that may grow on someone’s farmland.

Can you cut down a fairy tree?

Yes, you can cut down a fairy tree, however, it is not wise to do so as it may bring bad luck upon yourself or your family. Fairy trees are considered sacred sites for the wee folk and there are many superstitions surrounding them.

It is generally believed that if you damage or cut down one of these trees your life will be filled with bad luck, so most farmers around Ireland work around them instead of removing them completely from their fields. Additionally, many road works have been delayed due to fairy trees being in the path and workers refusing to touch them due to their supernatural powers.

leslieszabo

By leslieszabo

I like silence. I like balance.