By W.Y. Evans-Wentz.
On the ancient Hill of Tara, from whose heights the High Kings once ruled all Ireland, from where the sacred fires in pagan days announced the annual resurrection of the sun, the Easter Tide, where the magic of Patrick prevailed over the magic of the Druids, and where the hosts of the Tuatha De Danann were wont to appear at the great Feast of Samain, to-day the fairy-folk of modern times hold undisputed sovereignty. And from no point better than Tara, which thus was once the magical and political centre of the Sacred Island, could we begin our study of the Irish Fairy-Faith. Though the Hill has lain unploughed and deserted since the curses of Christian priests fell upon it, on the calm air of summer evenings, at the twilight hour, wondrous music still sounds over its slopes, and at night long, weird processions of silent spirits march round its grass-grown raths and forts. It is only men who fear the curse of the Christians; the fairy-folk regard it not.
The Rev. Father Peter Kenney, of Kilmessan, had directed me to John Graham, an old man over seventy years of age, who has lived near Tara most of his life; and after I bad found John, and he had led me from rath to rath and then right through the length of the site where once stood the banquet hail of kings and heroes and Druids, as he earnestly described the past glories of Tara to which these ancient monuments bear silent testimony, we sat down in the thick sweet grass on the Sacred Hill and began talking of the olden times in Ireland, and then of the good people’ : -
The ‘Good People’s’ Music.-‘ As sure as you are sitting down I beard the pipes there in that wood (pointing to a wood on the north-west slope of the Hill, and west of the banquet hall). I heard the music another time on a hot summer evening at the Rath of Ringlestown, in a field where all the grass had been burned off; and I often heard it in the wood of Tara. Whenever the good people play, you hear their music all through the field as plain as can be; and it is the grandest kind of music. It may last half the night, but once day comes, it ends.’
Who the ‘ Good People’ are. - I now asked John what sort of a race the ‘good people’ are, and where they came from, and this is his reply :-‘ People killed and murdered in war stay on earth till their time is up, and they are among the good people. The souls on this earth are as thick as the grass (running his walking-stick through a thick clump), and you can’t see them; and evil spirits are just as thick, too, and people don’t know it. Because there are so many spirits knocking (going) about they must appear to some people. The old folk saw the good people here on the Hill a hundred times, and they’d always be talking about them. The good people can see everything, and you dare not meddle with them. They live in raths, and their houses are in them. The opinion always was that they are a race of spirits, for they can go into different forms, and can appear big as well as little.’
This is taken from The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries.
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