5/20/13

The Last Fairy in Ireland

On March 18, 1895, in County Tipperary, Ireland, two miserable figures sat on a limestone wall.

Michael’s twisted face told the tale. He was living in a fog, on the verge of collapsing. He’d not eaten well nor had proper sleep in 14 days. Since his wife had fallen ill. Or rather, since she’d been exchanged for that… thing… that had occupied her bed. He’d made daily four mile treks through the snow and rain and cold only to find the doctor not at home. And when the doctor did at last call upon his door, he was drunk and dismissive. When he walked four miles in the other direction to find Father Ryan, he at least did come to administer the Anointing but he refused to return again. No matter. By that time, he was sure that the Seanchaidhe was right. It was not pneumonia and that was not Bridget. The sudden unexpected flippancy of the beast was what finally led to his decisive actions.
But the question still nagged him: why hadn’t it flown up the chimney?

In his peripheral vision, he could see his friend nodding off.

“Look alive, Jack,” Michael said. “This be the third night, you still think the procession will pass by the ringfort?”

Jack sat up straight. “In the name of God, Michael, I do! Look for the white horse. You cut the reins as it passes by and your wife will be freed. The white horse, Michael…”

Four days later, the burnt mangled body of Bridget Cleary was found in a shallow grave a half mile away. Even as he was being arrested, Michael swore that it wasn’t his wife. It was a fairy. He’d only tortured and burned the changeling in order to get his beloved back. Why couldn’t they understand?

12 comments:

Karinann said...

This one sent chills down my spine. Where do you find these incredible stories!
I missed them~glad you're back :)

cyurkanin said...

Thanks, Karinann :) I seem to stumble upon a lot of these stories by accident while actually writing one about something else entirely (as is the case with this one). I don't know what I'd do without Ireland, I've probably written more related to Ireland than any other country except America!

Bella said...

Wow . . . if it disturbs me that much, I know it's got to be good. Really enjoying your blog so far!

cyurkanin said...

Thanks, Bella :) That means a lot to me!

Prixie said...

Oh My God! This one was rather creepy...made me feel as if someone walked over my grave.

cyurkanin said...

Thanks, Prixie! Hmmm, chilling, disturbing, and creepy seems to be the consensus thus far :)

td Whittle said...

I enjoyed this story, Christopher, and the accompanying photo was perfect. I read, too, the link that told the whole tale. I can't help but think that many of these people who killed or who made accusations against others as witches, changelings, etc. never believed their own claims at all, but only used these excuses to validate their murderous behaviour. History is rife with these horrific stories, isn't it? Of course, spouse murder is still going on today, only now, you get locked up elsewhere for claiming you thought your wife a fairy.

cyurkanin said...

td, I'd think it was the case more often than not that it was more a situation of everybody choosing to stick to what they childishly/selfishly/culturally believed originally rather what was truly evident. However, in this case, I DO think this man lost his mind in the sleepless and stressful days/weeks of his wife's illness. Latching onto the fairy story, with all of its coincidences, was a convenient escape for his fatigued mind.

td Whittle said...

Yeah, probably true. I guess it's hard to wrap one's mind around though. My husband could be crazed with sleeplessness and stress and would never in a pink fit try to stuff me into a fire or kill me. Having said that, if a man or woman was already mentally a bit borderline and then became highly stressed, who knows? Also, they lived in different times, where the night was owned by the wee folk and the witches. It would not be fair to judge their beliefs against ours, when we can always switch on a light to rid ourselves of frightening shadows.

cyurkanin said...

If you think about it though, we moderns have plenty of weefolk and witches of our own that go by different names, just as real to us as it was to them. I'm sure I do anyway :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Last night's cozy bedtime reading was the article A Prevalence of Witches (with the alternative title The Exorcists--Filipino Style). It was pretty much the same story as this one, with Filipino asuang standing in for Irish changelings.

The very last sentence of the article goes: ". . . the rest of us are still fleeing a past we unknowingly carry and which may at moments of extreme anxiety, engulf, with terrible results, our civilised Christian selves."

(Classic Joaquin, by the way--but his journalism rather than his fiction.)

cyurkanin said...

That's just torture, ma'am. You know very well that I'm at your mercy when it comes to Joaquin's writing...