The wood so softly singing
In a language strange to hear
And the song it sings will find you
As the twilight draws you near


Eibhlín Ní Ghuinníola

There are several stories in the Irish folklore record of a healing woman called Eibhlín Ní Ghuinníola. One of the things said about her was that she had a fairy lover who was seen with her when she was out gathering herbs.

In a commentary on the stories, Gearóid Ó Crualaoich says:

" … that a 'fairy lover' , a leannán sí was often seen with Eibhlín Ní Ghuinníola as she gathered plants. The Saol Sí, the fairy realm, is the ancestral cultural embodiment of that imaginative mythological and spiritual otherworld lying beyond the 'normal' ranges of human perception. It can, on occasion, manifest itself in figures like the leannán sí, as well as the Cailleach-goddess, or in the activities - and in the narrative of the activities - of those women who fulfilled the social roles of wise healer, keening-woman or country midwife. Such women, acting decisively in the face of affliction and life crisis, draw their autonomy and legitimacy from the tradition and the traditional narratives of the Cailleach-goddess and in the narratives of former occupiers of their own roles such as Eibhlín Ní Ghuinníola".

from The Book of the Cailleach



I was alerted to the publication OTHERWORLD on the excellent TAIRIS blog. It's a collection of Irish songs of the Otherworld realms on a CD (sample above) which comes as part of a definitive book on the subject reviewed HERE

It seems to me indispensable. And if you buy it from Kenny's of Galway it's cheaper than Amazon:


The Woman Who Used To See The Fairies

An old woman lived in Gleann Fhreastail one time and she was aged and wise. It was said that she used to see the fairies. I don't know myself. Any wake she used attend, she frequently went off into a weakness during it. She would be a long time in the swoon before she would come out of it. It was out of those fainting fits that she'd used to bring prophetic knowledge, so they said.

Irish Folklore Commission Vol 30

There was a woman here long ago they used to call Máire Ní Mhurchú she lived at Eyeries Beg. She lived in many other places too, along with that, and she was no sooner in one place than in another. It used to be said, and I suppose it was a true saying, that she used to go with the fairies and the people of the night. This night, she was back in the west with some women who were stripping flax …..

[The women are working all night at this task and are without tobacco for their clay pipes as they are awaiting the arrival of carters with supplies from Cork some distance away]

….. when it was getting on for midnight, footsteps came to the door and there was a knock on the door. Máire Ní Mhurchú , the poor woman, took her cloak and bade them goodnight and went out the door.

When day broke she came in drowned wet and prostrate with exhaustion. They put her up to the fire , put dry clothes on her and were trying to revive her since she was almost dead.

When she came to she was very satisfied that they had made so much of her and she told them that the carters were not far away …, that she had passed them as they were coming down Loch á Bhoun and they would be there tomorrow. They did not believe that she could have arrived so quickly from Loch á Bhoun except that a few of them knew of her journeying. But it was true for the carters arrived the next day and then they all believed her.

Irish Folklore Commission Vol 623

Collected in Irish