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Romans elect Fabii as military tribunes. # 562


Treachery of three sons of Fabius Ambustus against Celts. # 562


(faht'na) The giant, King of Ulster. Nessa, his wife; father of Conor; succeeded at death by his half-brother, Fergus. Chief physician of Eochaid Airem. # 166 - 562


Arthur's grandson, son of Arthur's illegitimate son, Tom a' Lincoln. # 156


The sixteenth-century poet Edmund Spencer used Fairyland, as many lesser writers were afterwards to do, for the material of moral allegory. His fairyland adjoined Arthurian Britain, and the elfin and Arthurian knights moved to and fro across the borders. By a double symbolism, Fairyland was also contemporary Britain. Poor Spencer, in his unhappy exile in Ireland, might well feel that England was a fairyland. The moral pattern of the allegory is firmly and clearly traced. Its object is to illustrate the Twelve Vitues of Man, as laid down by Aristotle. There were to have been twelve books, each consisting of twelve cantos. Only six of these were completed, of which the first three were separately published in 1590. Even so, it is a monumental work. Each book has a hero, with his lady, engaged on a quest in the course of which he will perfect one virtue. The hero of the whole is Prince Arthur, who brings help to the heroes in each episode. He is destined to be himself the hero of the last tale and illustrates the crowning quality of magnanimity, in which all other virtues are contained. In the end he will gain the hand of Gloriana, the Fairie Queene. The first book is about Holiness; its hero is St George, the Red Cross Knight, his companion and lady is Una, or Truth, and his quest is to slay the Dragon Error and save Una's land from devastation. The hero of the second book is Guyon, who stands for Temperance, Alma is his lady. Guyon's quest is to defeat Acrasie, or Lust, and destroy her. The third book is about Chastity, and the warrior princess Britomart represents that virtue, with her irresistible spear. The subject of the fourth book is Friendship, represented by the two young knights, Campbell and Triamond, with their two ladies, Canacee and Cambina, sisters to the two knights respectively and both skilled in magic. It is by a magic draught given by Cambina that the two knights are knit in friendship. The fifth book is about Justice, with Artegall as its hero and an iron man, Talus or Punishment, as his page. His lady is Britomart. He has been sent to free Irene from Grantorto. The virtue of the sixth book is Courtesy, with Sir Calidore as its hero, whose quest is to defeat the Blatant Beast (False Report) and whose lady is Pastorella. The political application of the allegory is less clear. Queen Elizabeth is both Gloriana and Belphoebe, possibly also Britomart. Prince Arthur is probably Leicester, Artegall Lord Grey, under whom Spencer served in Ireland, Timias Sir Walter Raleigh and Calidore Sir Philip Sidney. The good characters in the allegory are perpetually deceived, waylaid and persecuted by a wicked magician, Archimago, a false witch, Duessa, and a variety of giants, hags, dragons and malevolent ladies. Both good and bad characters have a variety of magical instruments at their disposal: a magic mirror, an irresistible spear, a shield of adamant, a magic draught, a ring which saves the wearer from loss of blood, the Water of Life and the Tree of Life. We hear of fairy changelings, of shape-shifting and glamour of all sorts, and at least one English fairy tale, the story of Mr Fox (which may be found in Jacob's ENGLISH FAIRY TALES) is referred to. There is a profuse mixture of fairy types, for we have a number of references to Arthurian legend, particularly to Merlin, but there are even more classical references, and much of the machinery is drawn from Ovid and Homer. It is something of a feat to read the book straight through, though there is a compulsiveness about it which leads one on, and it is full of passages of particular beauty.# 100-338-614


Son of the Dwarf King, Hreidmar. Loki killed his brother Otr and had to cover him with gold in recompence. This caused dissension between Fafnir and another brother, Regin. Fafnir turned himself into a dragon in order to keep the gold. He was later slain by the hero Sigurd. # 166 - 664


John Aubrey was one of the most loveable of antiquarians. If it wasn't for him many old customs and fairy anecdotes would have been lost to the world. The passage below, probably from the now lost volume of HYPOMNEMATA ANTIQUARIA, is brought in: Briggs, THE ANATOMY OF PUCK. In the year 1633-4, soone after I had entered into my grammar at the Latin Schoole at Yatton Keynel, (near Chippenham, Wilts), our curate Mr Hart, was annoy'd one night by these elves or fayries. Comming over the downes, it being neere darke, and approaching one of the fairy dances, as the common people call them in these parts, viz, the greene circles made by those sprites on the grasse, he all at once sawe an innumerable quantitie of pigmies or very small people, dancing rounde and rounde, and singing, and making all maner of small odd noyses. He, being very greatly amaz'd, and yet not being able, as he sayes, to run away from them, being, as he supposes, kept there in a kind of enchantment, they no sooner perceave him but they surround him on all sides, and what betwixt feare and amazement, he fell down scarcely knowing what he did; and thereupon these little creatures pinch'd him all over, and made a sorte of quick humming noyse all the time; but at lenght they left him, and when the sun rose, he found himself exactly in the midst of one of these faiery dances. This relation I had from him myselfe, a few days after he was so tormented; but when I and my bedfellow Stump wente soon afterwards, at night time to the dances on the downes, we saw none of the elves or fairies. But indeede it is saide they seldom appeare to any persons who go to seeke for them. This passage is very characteristic of Aubrey's style and contains much that is characteristic of the fairies of that period, their love of dancing, their habit of pinching those that displeased them and their curious, indistinct manner of speech. # 41 - 100




Woman who nurtured many of the Fianna. # 562


This word derives from 'Fays' meaning Fates, and thought to be a broken form of Fatae. The classical three Fates were later multiplied into supernatural ladies who directed the destiny of men and attended childbirths. 'Fay-erie' was first a state of enchantment or glamour, and was only later used for the fays who wielded those powers of illusion. Although latterly fairies have been understood as diminutive beings inhabiting flowers etc., their true stature, both actual and mythical, is considerably greater. The term 'fairy' now cover a large area, from the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian elves to the British version of the Irish SIDHE dwellers, and the TYLWYTH TEG of Wales, are they bestowing gifts of prophecy and music, living in bliss in their own fairy hills. According to oral tradition, they originate from the angels of the Fall or are children of Adam by Lilith, the elder brethren of humanity who are neither divine nor human, but none the less immortal. # 100 - 166 - 370 - 441 - 711


The earliest of the medieval romances clearly mark their characters as fairy people. Sir Launfal is a Fairy Bride story, with the Taboo enforced by Tryamour, though to a less fatal issue than usual; King Orfeo makes the connection between the fairies and the dead as explicit as it is in many later accounts of the origin of the fairies. The German LANZELET is equally explicit about the fairy nature of the LADY OF THE LAKE and the Tir Nan Og fairyland which she inhabits. As the French sophisticated writers with their chivalric subtleties took over the primitive matter of Celtic legends, the fairy ladies became more of enchantresses and the magically-endowed knights lost their god-like powers. One true fairy-tale, SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, appears, late in time and treated with great subtlety but with full supernatural quality. Here we have the Celtic story of the beheading match, with the supernatural wizard appearing as challenger. Here we have Morgan Le Fay as a full evil fairy, able even to assume a dual form as the old hag and the tempting lady simultaneously. This story too shows a primitive form in giving a full heroic stature to Sir Gawain. But if the shape of the story is primitive, the style of the poetry is most accomplished. The northwest had a poet of quality in the anonymous author of SIR GAWAIN and THE PEARL. # 100


From the time of Chaucer onwards, the fairies have been said to have departured or to be in decline, but still they linger. Some 200 years later, Bishop Richard Corbet pursues the same theme:

Farewell rewards and fairies,
Good housewives now may say;
For now foul sluts in dairies
Do fare as well as they.
And though they sweep their hearths no less
Than maids were wont to do,
Yet who of late for cleanliness
Finds sixpence in her shoe?

A little later Aubrey has a story of a fairy driven away when Bells were hung in Inkberrow Church. He was heard lamenting:

'Neither sleep, neither lie,
Inkberrow's ting-tang hangs so high.'

Some two centuries later, Ruth Tongue picked up a similar story in Somerset, to be found in COUNTY FOLK-LORE VOL.VIII. It was about the farmer of Knighton Farm on Exmoor, who was on very friendly terms with the Pixies. They used to tresh his corn for him and do all manner of odd jobs, until his wife, full of good-will, left suits of clothes for them, and of course, like Brownies, they had to leave. But they did not lose their kindly feeling for the farmer, and one day, after the Withypool bells were hung, the pixy father met him. 'Wilt gie us the lend of thy plough and tackle?' he said. The farmer was cautious - he'd heard how the pixies used horses. 'What vor do 'ee want'n? he asked. 'I d'want to take my good wife and littlings out of the noise of they ding-dongs.' The farmer trusted the pixies, and they moved, lock, stock and barrel over to Windsford Hill, and when the old pack horses trotted home they looked like beautiful two-year-olds.

Those were only partial moves, not total evacuations, but they illustrate one of the factors that were said to drive the fairies out of the country. Kipling's 'Dymchurch Flit' in PUCK OF POOK'S HILL is probably founded on an actual Sussex folk tradition. Somewhere at the beginning of the 19th century, Hugh Miller recorded what was supposed to be the final departure of the fairies from Scotland at Burn of Eathie. It is to be found in THE OLD RED SANDSTONE as a footnote in Chapter ii.

On a Sabbath morning... the inmates of this little hamlet had all gone to church, all except a herd-boy, and a little girl, his sister, who were lounging beside one of the cottages; when, just as the shadow of the garden-dial had fallen on the line of noon, they saw a long cavalcade ascending out of the ravine through the wooded hollow. It winded among the knolls and bushes; and, turning round the northern gable of the cottage beside which the sole spectators of the scene were stationed, began to ascend the eminence toward the south. The horses were shaggy, diminutive things, speckled dun and grey; the riders, stunted, misgrown, ugly creatures, attired in antique jerkins of plaid, long grey cloaks, and little red caps, from under which their wild uncombed locks shot out over their cheeks and foreheads. The boy and his sister stood gazing in utter dismay and astonishment, as rider after rider, each one more uncouth and dwarfish than the one that had preceded it, passed the cottage, and disappeared among the brushwood which at that period covered the hill, until at length the entire rout, except the last rider, who lingered a few yards behind the others, had gone by. 'What are ye, little mannie? and where are ye going?' inquired the boy, his curiosity getting the better of his fears and his prudence. 'Not of the race of Adam,' said the creature, turning for a moment in his saddle: 'the People of Peace shall never more be seen in Scotland.' Aberdeenshire in the Northern Lowlands; the Highlanders would not so easily bid the fairies farewell. Indeed, in all the Celtic parts of Britain living traditions still linger. Even in the Midlands, in Oxfordshire, A. J. Evans, writing about the Rollright Stones in the FOLK-LORE JOURNAL of 1895, gives the last recorded tradition of the fairies. An old man, Will Hughes, recently dead when Evans wrote, claimed to have seen them dancing round the King Stone. They came out of a hole in the ground near it. Betsy Hughes, his widow, knew the hole: she and her playmates used to put a stone over it, to keep the fairies from coming out when they were playing there.

Yet, however often they may be reported as gone, the fairies still linger. In Ireland the fairy beliefs are still part of the normal texture of life; in the Highlands and Islands the traditions continue. Not only in the Celtic areas, but all over England scattered fairy anecdotes are always turning up. Like the chorus of policemen in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, they say, 'We go, we go,' but they don't go. # 39 - 100 - 164 - 368


The fairies appear to have an independent existence of their own, to lead their lives in subterranean or subaqueous countries, or on enchanted islands across the sea. They ride, revel, dance and hold their fairy markets, they pursue their own crafts, spin weave, make shoes and labour in the mines; and yet from time to time we come across extraordinary examples of their dependence upon humanity. The commonest stories about them are of their thefts of human babies and their periodic need of a human midwife to the fairies. It is possible that these last may be for the human brides stolen, but here again we see the fairy independence. Mortal blood seems needed to replendish the fairy stock. Sometimes it is needed literally: in the Isle of Man it was believed that if water was not left out for the fairies to drink, they would suck the blood of the sleepers in the house. This was reported by Evans Wentz in THE FAIRY-FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES. The other most obvious example of dependence was on human food. Again and again we are told of fairy thefts of grain, milk or butter, or of them carrying away the Foyson or goodness of food or cattle and leaving only a simulacrum behind. In some of the stories, such as the medieval tale of Malekin, the explanation might be that it was a human changeling who wished to return to the world again and so refrained from fairy food, but the instance are too frequent to allow of that as the sole explanation. In the friendly intercourse of fairy borrowing, they sometimes beg for a suck of milk from a human breast for a fairy baby, or a loan of human skill to mend a broken tool such as a broken ped. In Ireland in particular human strength is needed to give power to the fairy arms in faction fights or in hurling matches. Evans Wentz gives a report of this. Kirk suggests that many of the spectacles seen among the fairies are imitations or foreshadowings of human happenings, as some of the fairy funerals are supposed to be. Indeed however much the fairies may seem to resent human prying and infringements of fairy privacy, it would appear that the affairs of humanity are of more importance to them than they would wish us to suppose. # 100 - 370 - 711


The first very small traditional fairies that we know are the portunes recorded by Gervase of Tilbury. They were probably carried on in the stream of tradition by the fairies' connection with the dead, for the soul is often thought of as a tiny creature which comes out of a sleeping man and wanders about. Its adventures are the sleeper's dreams. By this means or others the tradition continued, and came up into literature in the 16th century. The first poet to introduce these small fairies into drama was John Lyly in ENDIMION. They are brought in for a short time, to do justice on the villain by the pinching traditional to the fairies. They punish not only the wrong done to Endimion, but the infringement of fairy privacy. Corsites has been trying to move the sleeping Endimion when the fairies enter, and pinch him so that he falls asleep. They dance, sing and kiss Endimion:

'Pinch him, pinch him, blacke and blue,
Sawcie mortalls must not view
What the Queene of Stars is doing,
Nor pry into our Fairy woing.'

The Maides Metamorphosis, published the same year as A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, has a scene reminiscent of Bottom's introduction to Titania's elves, and their song makes their tiny size apparent:

1 Fay: 'I do come about the coppes
Leaping upon flowers toppes;
Then I get upon a Flie,
Shee carries me abouve the skie,
And trip and goe.'

2 Fay: 'When a deaw drop falleth downe
And doth light upon my crowne,
Then I shake my head and skip
And about I trip.'

Drayton's Nimphidia is quite a long narrative poem, a parody of a courtly intrigue in miniature. The fairies in it are among the tiniest in the poetry of the period, but not strictly to scale. The Queen, Pigwiggen and all her ladies of honour take refuge in a cowslip bell, but the ladies ride a cricket, about ten times the size of their room, and the Queen's coach is a snail's shell. Neither the King nor the Queen has the powers that belong to Shakespeare's OBERON and TITANIA, not even the power of swift motion; the witch-fairy Nimphidia is the only potent one among them, and she relies on herbs and charms which might be used by mortal witches. The chief charm of the poem is in the littleness of the actors, the stampede of tiny ladies-in-waiting, the preparation of Pigwiggen for the tourney:

'When like an uprore in a Towne,
Before them every thing went downe,
Some tore a Ruffe, and some a Gowne,
Gainst one another justling:
They flewe about like Chaff i' th' winde,
For hast some left their Maskes behinde;
Some could not stay their Gloves to finde,
There never was such bustling...
And quickly Armes him for the Field,
A little Cockle-shell his Shield,
Which he could very bravely wield:
Yet could it not be pierced:
His Speare a Bent both stiffe and strong,
And well-neere of two Inches long;
The Pyle was of a Horse-flyes tongue,
Whose sharpnesse naught reversed.'

With PUCK we get back on to the plain road of folklore, Hobgoblin with his shape-shifting tricks:

'This Puck seemes but a dreaming dolt,
Still walking like a ragged Colt,
And oft out of a Bush doth bolt,
Of purpose to deceive us. And leading us makes us to stray, Long Winters nights out of the way, And when we stick in mire and clay, Hob doth with laughter leave us.'

William Browne of Tavistock belonged to the same set as Drayton and was one of the group who called themselves the 'Sons of Ben Jonson'. He and Drayton were both lovers of antiquities and both wrote long poems on the beauties of England, Drayton Polyolbion and Browne the delightful, unfinished Britannia's Pastorals, which incorporates a rambling narrative in his topography. The fairies play an important part in it. They are a little larger than Drayton's fairies, riding mice instead of insects, and a little more of folk fairies, having their fairy palace underground and to be seen through a self-bored stone as the Selkirkshire lassie saw Habetrot and her spinners. Like Habetrot, they too were great spinners and weavers, but do not seem to have been deformed by it. Robert Herrick's fairy writings may be sampled in an extract from Oberon's Feast and in The Fairies. The first is full of fanciful turns, and the second is straightforward folklore. # 100 - 109 - 193 - 246


Like elves, the fairies were originally the souls of the pagan dead, in particular those matriarchal spirits who lived in the preChristian realm of the Goddess. Sometimes the fairies were called Goddesses themselves. In several folk ballads the Fairy Queen is adressed as 'Queen of Heaven.' Welsh fairies were known as 'the Mother's Blessing.' Breton peasants called the fairies Godmothers, or Fates, from which comes Fay (la fe), from the Latin Fata. # 701 p 245


The very numerous fairy animals, of which there are many traditions in the British Isles, may be divided into two main classes. There are wild ones, that exist for their own purposes and in their own right, and the domesticated ones bred and used by the fairies. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between these two types, because the fairies occasionally allow their creatures to roam freely, as, for instance, the Cu Sith of the Highlands, which is generally kept as a watch dog in the Brughs, but is at times free to roam as its pleasure, and the Crodh Mara, which sometimes visit human herds. But the distinction is generally clear. The two kinds of fairy creatures occur very early in our traditions and are mentioned in the medieval chronicles. Examples are the Grant, a medieval Bogey-Beast mentioned by Gervase of Tilbury, and the small dogs and horses to be found in Giraldus Cambrensis' story of Elidor. Examples of the free Fairy Horses are the dangerous Each Uisge of the Highlands, the hardly less dangerous Kelpies, the Cabyll Ushtey of the Isle of Man, and such Bogies as the Brag, the Trash and the Shock. All these have some power of shape-shifting. The horses used by the fairies occur everywhere in the Heroic Fairy legends, whereever there is the Fairy Rade in which they are to be found. They have been taken over by the Devil where he haunts with the Yeth Hounds of the Devil's Dandy Dogs, and even with the Cwn Annwn, which once explicitly belonged to Gwyn ap Nudd. The fairy horses of the Tuatha De Danann are the most explicitly remembered. The Black Dogs are the most common of the wild dogs in England, but there are many bogey-beast dogs, the Barguest, the Gally-Trot, the Mauthe Doog of Man, and the Shock. The domestic Fairy Dogs most vividly remembered are Bran and Sceolan, the hunting dogs of Finn, and in the Cu Sith; but traditions of the Hounds of the Hills still linger in Somerset.

The fairy cattle were less fierce than the wild fairy horses. Occasionally these were independent, like the Dun Cow of Kirkham, and they were beneficent, not dangerous. The Elf-Bull was a lucky visitor to any herd, and so were the Gwartheg Y Llyn of Wales. There were, however, ferocious ghost bulls like the Great Bull of Bagbury. Of miscellaneous creatures, the most famous were the seal people, the Selkies and Roane. Cats were almost fairies in themselves, but there was a fairy cat in the Highlands, the Cait Sith, and a demon-god-cat, Big Ears, which appeared after horrible invocations. Afanc was a river monster of Wales, something like a giant beaver, and the Boobrie was a monstrous water-bird. Goats and deer may be said to have been fairies in their own proper shape, and many birds, the owl, the wren, the eagle and the raven had strong fairy associations. The salmon were a fairy creature, and even insects had their part. In fact the whole of these islands is rich in fairy zoology. # 100


One proof of the dependence upon mortals of the fairies is their eagerness to borrow from their human neighbours. This is particularly frequent in Scotland. They borrow grain and occasionally implements. They borrow the use of mills and of human fires. The story of the Isle of Sanntraigh is one which was used by Mac Ritchie to enforce his contribution to the theories of fairy origins. Indeed, all these examples of fairy borrowing fit in well with the suggestion that the first fairies were the remnants of a conquered people gone into hiding and yet creeping nervously around their conqerors for what pickings they could find, and the subject overlaps with fairy thefts. # 100


The fairies have a great reputation for various skills. They are seen and heard working on their own account, they teach skills to mortals and they do work for them. A vivid account of their activities is given by J. G. Campbell in SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND: The Fairies, as has been already said, are counterparts of mankind. There are children and old people among them; they practise all kinds of trades and handicrafts; they possess cattle, dogs arms; they require food, clothing, sleep; they are liable to disease, and can be killed. So entire is the resemblance that they have even been betrayed into intoxication. People entering their brughs, have found the inmates engaged in similar occupations to mankind, the women spinning, weaving, grinding meal, baking, cooking, churning, etc., and the men sleeping, dancing, and making merry, or sitting round a fire in the middle of the floor (as a Perthshire informant described it) 'like tinkers'. Sometimes the inmates were absent on foraging expeditions or pleasure excursions. The women sing at their work, a common practice in former times with Highland women, and use distaff, spindle, handmills, and such like primitive implements.

Their skill in spinning and weaving is famous, as is shown in such tales as Habetrot and Tom Tit Tot, but there is some qualification to this. In the Isle of Man the looms and spinning-wheels are guarded from the Lil'Fellas at night because they are likely to spoil the webs. This opinion is illustrated in a passage from Sophia Morrison's MANX FAIRY TALES about a fairy visit to a Manx house, a memorat taken down from James Moore:

I'm not much of a believer in most of the stories some ones is telling, but after all a body can't help believing a thing they happen to see for themselves.

I remember one winter's night - we were living in a house at the time that was pulled down for the building of the Big Wheel. It was a thatched house with two rooms, and a wall about six foot high dividing them, and from that it was open to the scrabs, or turfs, that were laid across the rafters. My Mother was sitting at the fire busy spinning, and my Father was sitting in the big chair at the end of the table taking a chapter for us out of the Manx Bible. My brother was busy winding a spool and I was working with a bunch of thing, trying to make two or three pegs.

'There's a terrible glisther on to-night,' my Mother said, looking at the fire. 'An' the rain comin' peltin' down the chimley.'

'Yes,' said my Father, shutting the Bible; 'an' we better get to bed middlin' soon and let the Lil'Ones in to a bit of shelter.'

So we all got ready and went to bed.

Some time in the night my brother wakened me with a: 'Shish! Listen boy, and look at the big light tha's in the kitchen!' Then he rubbed his eyes a bit and whispered: 'What's Mother doin' now at all?'

'Listen!' I said, 'An' you'll hear Mother in bed; it's not her at all; it must be the Little Ones that's agate the wheel!'

And both of us got frightened, and down with our heads under the clothes and fell asleep. In the morning when we got up we told them what we had seen, first thing.

'Aw, like enough, like enough,' my Father said, looking at the wheel. 'It seems your mother forgot to take the band off last night, a thing people should be careful about, for it's givin' Themselves power over the wheel, an' though their meanin's well enough, the spinnin' they're doin' is nothin' to brag about. The weaver is always shoutin' about their work, an' the bad joinin' they're makin' in the rolls.'

I remember it as well as yesterday - the big light that was at them, and the whirring that was going on. And let anybody say what they like, that's a thing I've heard and seen for myself.

Of the crafts in which fairies are distinguished, the most curious and contradictory is smithy work, when we consider the fairies' fear of cold iron. Gnomes were, from of old, reputed metal-workers, and many famous swords and breastplates were wrought by them, but in the tale of 'The Isle of Sanntraigh' the fairies, who were governed by the dirk stuck into the hillside, taught their captives unusual skill in metal-work, from which the rescued boy afterwords profited. As is common in folk-lore, there is no explanation of this anomaly. A notable literary use of this theme is made by Rudyard Kipling in REWARDS AND FAIRIES the sequel to PUCK OF POOK'S HILL.

Lepracauns were reputed to be highly skilled at their trade, but since there is no record that they made shoes for other than fairy feet, there is no means of testing this.

Goblins labouring in the mines were proverbial in the 17th century for producing no results by their deedy labours. Boat-building, on the other hand, was a work on which they nightly laboured and which they could transfer to human protgs. Ewan Wentz, in the FAIRY-FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES, collected a story from a Barra piper about how an apprentice boat-builder, who had picked up a fairy's girdle, was given the gift of a master's skill when he returned it to her. The gift remained even after he had told how he acquired it. One undoubted gift of the fairies was that of skill in music, and there are many stories of how the MacCrimmons, the most famous family of Scottish pipers, were given their skill by the gift of a black chanter to a despised younger son of the family. The gift was accompanied by tuition. Many songs and airs have come out of fairy hills and have survived the change into the human world. # 100 - 131 - 249 - 368 - 485 - 711


Equivalent, sidh (shee). The tumulus at New Grange, Ireland regarded as dwelling-place of Fairy-Folk. Some of the most beautiful of the antique Irish folk-melodies, the Coulin, are traditionally supposed to have been overheard by mortal harpers at the revels of the Fairy Folk. Conary Mr (Mor) lured by the Fairy Folk into breaking his geise; they seal all sources of water against mac Cecht; besides these events describes Rolleston Fergus mac Leda, Conan mac Morna, and Keelta and the Fairy Folk, and furthermore Gwyn ap Nudd, King of Welsh Fairy Folk (Tylwyth Teg). # 562


Allan Cunningham in his LIVES OF EMINENT BRITISH PAINTERS records that William Blake claimed to have seen a fairy funeral. 'Did you ever see a fairy's funeral, madam? said Blake to a lady who happened to sit next to him. 'Never, Sir!' said the lady. 'I have,' said Blake, 'but not before last night.' And he went on to tell how, in his garden, he had seen 'a procession of creatures of the size and colour of green and grey grashoppers, bearing a body laid out on a rose-leaf, which they buried with songs, and then disappeared'.

Most people would deny the possibility of a fairy funeral, believing the fairies to have lives co-terminous with this earthly world, or else that they dwindle and disappear in the course of ages, like the Small People of Cornwall. Yet, here and there, people claim, like Blake, to have seen fairy funerals. One of these is preserved in the archives of the School of Scottish Studies among the fairy experiences of Walter Johnstone, one of the travelling people of Perthshire. He found a ruined house near Tom na Toul with a well near it. He was just going to dip his can into the well when he saw a light coming out of the bushes. Two wee men came out, about six inches tall, carrying a coffin between them. They were wearing bowler hats, not the 'lum hats' usually worn at Scottish funerals. Dr. T. F. G. Paterson of Armagh Museum collected a similar account from one of the old people:

A man once followed a fairy funeral. He was up late at night an' heard the convoy comin'. He slipped out an' followed them an' they disappeared into Lisletrim Fort (a triple-ringed fort near Cullyhanna). He heard the noise of them walking plain, but saw none of them.

Kirk in his incomparable work puts a period to fairy lives and also mentions funerals:

There Men travell much abroad, either presaging or aping the dismall and tragicall Actions of some amongst us; and have also many disastorous Doings of their own, as Convocations, Fighting, Gashes, Wounds, and Burialls, both in the Earth and Air. They live much longer than wee; yet die at last, or at least vanish from that State.

A little later he says: 'They are not subject to sore Sicknesses, but dwindle and decay at a certain Period, all about ane Age.'

Some people are not certain that their funerals are not part of this 'presaging or aping the dismall and tragicall Actions' of men; at least it is so in Bowker's 'Fairy Funeral', in his GOBLIN TALES OF LANCASHIRE. Two men were once walking home towards Langton village on a clear moonlight night. One was the old cow-doctor, Adam, and the other was a lively young fellow called Robin. As they came up to the church the first stroke of twelve sounded and they passed it as the chimes pealed out. A moment later they stopped, for the peal of the passing-bell began to ring. They counted the strokes, and after twenty-six they stopped - Robin was twenty-six years old. They wondered who it could be among his companions, but decided that they would know in the morning, and hurried on towards home. But as they reached the drive and lodge of the ancient abbey, the gate swung open and a little dark figure came out with a red cap on his head. He was waving his arms and singing a sweet but mournful dirge, and he was followed by a procession dressed like him which bore in the midst of it a tiny coffin with the lid pushed back so that the face was visible. The two men drew back into the hedge, but as the coffin passed old Adam leant forward, and in the moonlight saw the face of the corpse. 'Robin, mi lad,' he said, 'it's the picter o'thee as they hev i' the coffin!' Robin started forward, and saw it was indeed the miniature of his own face. The bell still tolled and the funeral cortge passed on towards the church. Robin took it for a death warning and determined to know the appointed time. Adam tried to restrain him, but he hurried after the Feeorin, and, touching the leader, he asked, trembling, 'Winnot yo' tell mi heaw lung I've to live?' At once, with a flash of lightning and a spatter of rain, the whole procession vanished, and the two men made their way homeward as best they could through wind and rain.

From that time Robin was a changed man. There was no more riot and merriment for him. His only comfort was to sit with old Adam at night and talk over what they had seen and heard. In a month's time he fell from a stack and was fatally injured.

This is the fullest account of a warning funeral, but there are reports of them in Galloway and Wales. The Welsh corpse-candles are among the Will O' The Wisp phenomena discussed by Aubrey and Sikes, but these are ascribed to the spirits of the dead rather than to the fairies. # 86 - 100 - 172 - 331 - 370


All the Heroic Fairies spent a great part of their time in solemn rides, and their horses, large or small according to the riders, were often described. The fairies described by Elidor were small, but noble, and they had horses and hounds proportioned to their size, the Welsh Gwragedd Annwyn rode on milk-white horses and the Fairy Rade described in the Scottish ballads was on horses of varying colours richly caparisoned with tinkling bells. The Tuatha De Danann, who were conquered and driven underground by the Milesians and who afterwards dwindled down into the Daoine Sidhe, were the very cream of the heroic fairies, and their horses were eloquently described by Lady Wilde in her ANCIENT LEGENDS OF IRELAND:

And the breed of horses they reared could not be surpassed in the world - fleet as the wind, with the arched neck and the broad chest and the quivering nostril, and the large eye that showed they were made of fire and flame, and not of dull, heavy earth. And the Tuatha made stables for them in the great caves of the hills, and they were shod with silver and golden bridles, and never a slave was allowed to ride them. A splendid sight was the cavalcade of the Tuatha-de-Danann knights. Seven-score steeds, each with a jewel on his forehead like a star, and seven-score horsemen, all the sons of kings, in their green mantles fringed with gold, and golden helmets on their head, and golden greaves on their limbs, and each knight having in his hand a golden spear.

And so they lived for a hundred years and more, for by their enchantments they could resist the power of death.

A few pages later she tells of the last of these royal steeds:

Of the great breed of splendid horses, some remained for several centuries, and were at once known by their noble shape and qualities. The last of them belonged to a great lord in Connaught, and when he died, all his effects being sold by auction, the royal steed came to the hammer, and was bought up by an emissary of the English Government, who wanted to get possession of a specimen of the magnificent ancient Irish breed, in order to have it transported to England.

But when the groom attempted to mount the high-spirited animal, it reared, and threw the base-born churl violently to the ground, killing him on the spot.

Then, fleet as the wind, the horse galloped away, and finally plunged into the lake and was seen no more. So ended the great race of the mighty Tuatha-de-Danann horses in Ireland, the like of which has never been seen since in all the world for majesty and beauty. # 100 - 728


The fairies have a code of morality of their own and are strict in enforcing it. We can deduce something of their nature from the degree of severity with which they punish infringements of their code. In the first place, they are a secret people and punish any attempts at spying or infringements of fairy privacy, often to the utmost of their power. In the various Fairy Ointment stories, there are varying degrees of culpability. Sometimes the midwife to the fairies touches her own eye inadvertently with a finger still smeared with the ointment, and often she is allowed the benefit of the doubt and only the fairy sight is taken from her. In the tale of CHERRY OF ZENNOR, Cherry had wilfully offended to spy on her master from jealousy and she was left the sight of her human eye and only banished from Fairyland. In the parallel story of JENNY PERMUEN, Jenny made no mention of the fairy ointment and reported herself as sent back from Fairyland when the year and a day for which she was hired was over.

No penalty except that of inability to return was imposed on them for reporting their adventures. The most severe punishment was rightly inflicted on Joan, Squire Lovell's housekeeper, in Hunt's story in POPULAR ROMANCES OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND of 'How Joan Lost the Sight of her Eye'. This was inflicted for sheer meddling. Joan was on no legitimate business, but was merely paying a friendly call on Betty Trenance, reputed to be a witch but actually a fairy. Peeping through the latch-hole before she knocked, she saw Betty anointing her children's eyes with a green ointment, which she hit carefully away before answering the door. Joan, however, contrived to get hold of the ointment, and touched her eye with it with the usual result. When she betrayed her fairy sight to Betty's husband, he not only blinded her right eye but tricked her into a ride on a devilish horse who nearly carried her into Toldava fowling pool in the company of the Devil and all his rout.

People who spied on the fairy revels or boasted of fairy favours were generally punished, sometimes with blights and illnesses, and those who stole fairy treasures did so in danger of their lives. Spies were often punished only by pinching, like Richard of Lelant, the old fisherman who saw Lelant Church lit up and climbed up to peep in at a window. Inside the church he saw the funeral procession of a fairy queen, and foolishly betrayed himself by an exclamation of surprise. At once the fairies flew past him, pricking him with sharp weapons. He only saved his life by flight (Hunt). The 'old Miser on the Fairy Gump' in Hunt's story, who tried to capture the royal dais and table at the revels on the Gump, deserved a severer punishment. Just as he raised his hat to cover the high table, a whistle rang out, a thousand cobwebs were thrown over him and he was bound to the earth, pinched, pricked and tormented till cockcrow. In the morning he hobbled down to the town, no richer than he had been, and permanently tormented by rheumatism. It must be acknowledged that he deserved it. Lack of generosity, rudeness and selfishness are all unpopular with fairies, as many traditional fairy-tales show. Gloomy fellows are disliked, and a merry heart is popular. - One of the most notable traits of the fairies is their strong interest in neatness and orderly ways. They expect to find the hearths that they visit swept clean, with fresh water set out for their use. A breach of this habit is often punished, as in the tale of the milkmaid who forgot to leave out clean water for the fairy babies and refused to get up when reminded of it. Her companion dragged herself out of bed to set the water and was rewarded with a silver sixpence, but the milkmaid was punished by seven years' painful lameness. Scols and wife-beating husbands are both likely to be punished. In short, the faults chiefly condemned by them are undue curiosity, meanness, sluttishness, illtemper and bad manners. # 100 - 331 - 675


The salve, sometimes an oil and sometimes an oinment, by which human eyesight penetrates the Glamour which fairies can cast over it, and see things as they really are. It also penetrates the spells which cause invisibility. We are told most about it in stories of the Midwife to the Fairies. The first version of the tale is told in the 13th century writings of Gervase of Tilbury in the account of the Dracae of Brittany. Early as it is, it is the complete story: the fetching of a human midwife at night to an unknown house, the ointment given her to anoint the eyes of the newborn child and the strange enlightenment that follows her casual use of it on one of her own eyes; and as it followed, as in all the later stories, by the innocent betrayal of her forbidden vision and the blinding of the seeing eye. There are dozens of such stories with slight modifications, but Professor John Rhys in CELTIC FOLKLORE VOL. I, gives what may well be the complete story, the tale of Eilean. The fairy ointment occurs in another, slightly different story, Cherry of Zennor (q.v.). In this story in Hunt's collection a country girl seeking service is engaged by a Fairy Widower as nursemaid to his little boy, and one of her duties is to anoint the eyes of her charge every morning. Her master is amorous and friendly and she is very happy with him, until curiosity about the strange things that happen in her new home leads her to use the ointment on her own eyes, when she sees all sorts of things going on around her, her master as amorous with the midget fairies at the bottom of the spring as he ever was with her. Jealousy leads her to betray herself, and her master regretfully dismisses her though he does not injure her sight. It is clear from the story that the fairy master's first wife was a mortal, which suggests that the ointment was needed only for hybrid fairies, for whole fairies by their own nature could see through the glamour. # 100 - 331 - 554




Several seventeenth-century magical manuscripts contain spells to obtain power over fairies. Some were to call them up, some to dismiss them from places were treasure was to be found, and some to gain their help and advice. The one that follow are from the Bodleian Library (MS. Ashmole 1406): An excellent way to gett a Fayrie, but for my selfe I call margarett Barrance but this will obtaine any one that is not allready bound. First gett a broad square christall or Venus glasse in length and breadth 3 inches, then lay that glasse or christall in the bloud of a white henne 3 wednesdayes or 3 fridayes: then take it out and wash it with holy aqua and fumigate it: then take 3 hazle stickes or wands of an yeare groth, pill them fayre and white, and make soe longe as you write the spiritts name, or fayries name, which you call 3 times, on every sticke being made flatt one side, then bury them under some hill whereas you suppose fayries haunt, the wednesday before you call her, and the friday followinge take them uppe and call hir at 8 or 3 or 10 of the clocke which be good plannets and howres for that turne: but when you call, be in cleane Life and turne thy face towards the east, and when you have her bind her to that stone or Glasse. An Ungt. to annoynt under the Eyelids and upon the Eyelidds evninge and morninge, but especially when you call, or finde your sight not perfect. (That is, an ointment to give sight of the fairies) pt. (precipitate?) sallet oyle and put it into a Viall glasse but first wash it with rose water, and marygold flower water, the flowers be gathered towards the east, wash it til the oyle come white, then put it into the glasse, ut supra. and thou put thereto the budds of holyhocke, the flowers of mary gold; the flowers or toppes of wild time the budds of younge hazle, and the time must be gatherred neare the side of a hill where fayries use to go oft, and the grasse of a fayrie throne, there, all these putt into the oyle, into the glasse, and sett it to dissolve 3 dayes in the sonne, and thou keep it for thy use; ut supra. # 100


# 562: Land of the Dead; Cleena, a Danaan maiden once living in Mananan's country, the Land of Youth beyon the sea. Escaping thence with a mortal lover, she landed on the southern coast of Ireland, but was lulled to sleep on the beach by fairy music played by a minstrel of Mananan, when a great wave of the sea swept up and carried her back to Fairyland. Connla's Well is under the sea, in the Land of Youth in Fairyland, and in which are the hazels of wisdom and inspirations; war carried on against Fairyland by Eochy, who at last recovers his wife, Etain. CuChulain in, and Laeg's visit to Fairyland; Fergus mac Leda and Fairyland (q.v.); tales of the Fianna concerned with Fairyland; Oisin's (Usheen) journey to Fairyland in Tales of the Ossianic cycle (q.v.); Finn and the Fianna rescue the Fairyland from a rival Fairy king; rescue of FairyLand by Pwyll, in the tale: PWYLL, PRINCE OF DYFED.

# 156: In Spenser's FAERIE QUEENE, the realm in which Arthur had adventures before becoming king. The poem is an allegory, with Fairyland standing for England of Spenser's day. The inhabitants claimed descent from Elf (who was created from Prometheus) and a fay from the gardens of Adonis. Early kings included Elfin, son of Elf, who ruled England and America; Elfinan, who founded the city of Cleopolis; Elfiline, who built a golden wall around it; Elfinell, who defeated the goblins in battle; Elfant; Elfar, who killed two giants, one with two heads, the other with three; and Elfinor, who built a brazen bridge upon the sea. The immediate family of Gloriana, queen of Fairyland, of whom Arthur became enamoured, was: ELFICLEOS, King of Faerie, his sons: Elferon (King of Faerie) and Oberon (King of Faerie), and Oberon's daughter, Gloriana (Queen of Faerie). See: CAPTIVES IN FAIRYLAND, and TIME IN FAIRYLAND. # 156 - 562


(fl) The Stone of Fal cried out under every legitimate king of Ireland who stepped upon it. See: INIS FAIL. # 166


# 562: The city of Falias. See: Dana. # 454: It was one of four cities from whence the Tuatha de Danaan came to Ireland. Its master of wisdom was called Morfessa, and it was from here that the Stone of Fal derived. See: HALLOWS. # 454 - 562


# 562: The pearl of Beauty, wife of Mananan; sets her love on CuChulain; returns to her home with Mananan. # 454: The sister of Labraid. She was given to CuChulain after he had helped Labraid. Emer taunted CuChulain about this new love and he relinquished her. She returned to Mananan, who shook his cloak between the lovers that they might never again meet. # 266 - 454 - 548 - 562




Even the most flaccid and degenerate of the literary fairies have some point in common with the fairies in folk tradition, but as a rule, the poets and story-tellers pick out one aspect from the varied and intricate world of fairy tradition, and the aspect chosen differs not only from poet to poet but from one period to another. The fairies of medieval romances are among the heroic fairies in type, of human size and often amorous of mortals, expert in enchantment and glamour, generally beautiful but occasionally hideous hags. Many of them are half-forgotten gods and goddesses, euhemerized into mortals with magical powers. The goddesses are more frequent than the gods. It was literary fashion which chose out this type because the romances derived from Celtic hero tales founded on the Celtic Pantheon; scattered references in the medieval chronicles show that very different types of fairies were available to the medieval poets if they had chosen to use them.

A different type of spirit, though no less true tradition, appears among the Elizabethan and Jacobean Fairies. It is true that Spencer uses the fairies, enchanters and witches of the Arthurian legends in the machinery of his FAERIE QUEENE, but on the whole the spotlight is turned upon the diminutive fairies. They appear in John Lyly's ENDIMION, in the anonymous MAIDES METAMORPHOSIS and the WISDOME OF DR DODYPOL, and above all in a MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Queen Mab in ROMEO AND JULIET is even more minute than the elves who waited on Titania. The Jacobean poets followed hard on the fashion. The diminutive fairies in Drayton, HERRICK, ET AL., made an extravaganza of Shakespeare's little fairies until, with the DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE, they became miracles of littleness. Even Milton in PARADISE LOST used the elves to illustrate diminution and small size. The exception to these dainty and miniature fairies is the rougher, homely Hobgoblin, by whatever name he is called - Robin Goodfellow, Puck or the Lubbard Fiend. Since that period, the tiny fairies have constantly haunted literature. The 18th century was the first period in which books were written expressly for the edification of children. Educational text books had been written before - one of the first books printed was Caxton's BABEES BOOK to train pages in etiquette, and there were Latin and French conversation books, but works of fiction were first written expressly for children in the 18th century. At the end of the 17th century the sophisticated French fairy-stories of Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy were translated into English. They began as real traditional tales, polished to meet the taste of the French court, and they were equally popular in England. Half the court seem to have tried their hands at them, and as time went on they moved farther away from their original. The Fairy Godmothers, already at one remove from folk fairies, became relentless moralists, driving their protgs along the path to virtue. The trend persisted into the 19th century, and it was not until a quarter of it had passed that the researches of the folklorists began to have some effect on children's literature. The Romantic Revival, however, had begun before this to affect the writings of the poets. Collins, Scott, Hogg and Keats wrote in the folk-fairy tradition, and as the century went on writers of children's stories followed them; Jean Ingelow and J. H. Ewing are among the best. At the beginning of the 20th century, an extreme tenderness and sensibility about children almost overwhelmed the folk fairies and turned them into airy, tenuous, pretty creatures without meat or muscles, made up of froth and whimsy. Rudyard Kipling fought against this tendency in PUCK OF POOK'S HILL, and now in Tolkien, his predecessors and successors, we enjoy a world in which imagination has superseded fancy; but whimsy is still with us in the works of the weaker writers. # 100


Fata Morgana is the Latin name for Morgan le Fay, the Arthurian version of the old Celtic Death-goddess, Morrigan or Mara. The term Fata Morgana is now applied to a certain kind of mirage, often seen in the Strait of Messina, said to represent Morgan's secret palace beneath the waves. It was Morgan who ruled the Fortunate Isles of the honoured dead, and who carried away the corpse of King Arthur to this western paradise. # 701 p 247


Three triangles created the emblem of the Fate Goddesses: Weird Sisters (from the Saxon wyrd, meaning 'fate'). Three of anything arranged in triads suggested a total of nine, so in some traditions the Fate goddesses became nine, like the Nine Morgans of the Fortunate Isles in Celtic myth. - In Scandinavia, the sign of fate was called the valknut, Knot of the Vala. A Vala was either a female spirit ruling the fates of men-a Valkyrie-or her representative on earth. # 701


A son of Vortigern. # 156


The Fawn or Deer is a favourite form adopted by nymphs and fairies to allow them to escape. It was the shape taken by the fairy-mother to the Gaelic bard Ossian (Little Fawn), and she bore him while in this guise; for this reason he could never eat venison. # 161


The Land of the Wee Folk; Iubdan, King of Faylinn. # 562


'Fay' was the earliest form in which the word 'fairy' appears. It is generally supposed to be a broken-down form of 'Fatae', the Fates, which in Romance tradition became less formidable and multiplied in number. The word 'fairy' was originally 'fayerie', the enchantment of the fays, and only later became applied to the people working the enchantment rather than to the estate of illusion. # 100


(fd'elm ny'hre) 'Fresh-Heart.' Daughter of Conchobar; wife of Cairpre Niafer. # 166


# 562: Prophetess from Fairy Mound of Croghan, questioned by Maev: 'How seest thou our host?' asked Maev. 'I see them all be-crimsoned, red,' replied the prophetess. 'Yet the Ulster heroes are all in their pangs - there is none that can lift a spear against us,' said Maev. 'I see the host all be-crimsoned,' said Fedelma. 'I see a man of small stature, but the hero's light is on his brow - a stripling young and modest, but in battle a dragon; he is like unto CuChulain of Murthemney; he both wondrous feats with his weapons; by him your slain shall lie thickly.' (CuChulain, as the son of the god Lugh, was not subject to the curse of Macha which afflicted the other Ultonians.) At this the vision of the weaving maiden vanished, and Maev drove homewards to Rathcroghan wondering at what she had seen and heard.

# 454: She was the witch who had the fostering of Corc. It was while he was in her care that he gained his name for one night, when her sister witches were assembling, one of them called out 'I bless everything, except what is under the cauldron.' Corc was singed by the blast of the fire on one ear, thus earning the name 'Red'. # 454 - 562


(fl'e mid) (also Felim) Son of Dall; Conchobar's story-teller. # 166


Finn and his Fianna Fin were in the Scottish Gaelic tradition translated into Finn and the Feinne, and the Fenian Brochs were said to be built by them. According to David Mac Ritchie, in his TESTIMONY OF TRADITION and other writings, the Feens were a dwarfish Ugrian people who were spread over Finland, Lapland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, northern Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and who were conquered and driven underground by the Milesians or Scots. This follows the old Irish traditional history (see TUATHA DE DANANN) and is plausibly presented by Mac Ritchie with a wealth of evidence, though with more attention to that which confirms his theory than to that which tends to disprove it. He also makes the Silkies and Roane a part of the same pattern, Finmen and Finwomen in their sealskin kayaks. If we subscribe to his theory, we have to abandon the great figure of Ossian, towering on his white horse above the puny modern men, for a stunted, cunning Magician with almost superhuman strength of muscle, but we may leave them their music, tale-telling and wealth of golden treasure. # 100 - 409


The Two Feet Symbol. There is reason to think that this symbol were earlier than any known mythology. The symbol of the feet or footprint is very widespread. It is found in the ancient Egypt, India, and occurs in rock-carvings in Scandinavia, and is found sculptured on dolmens in Brittany. In Ireland it passes for the footprints of St Patrick or St Columba. # 562




In Wolfram's PARZIFAL, son of Gahmuret and Belcane. He and Perceval, his half-brother, went to Arthur's court after they met. He fell in love with the Grail damsel, Repanse de Schoie. He became a Christian and they went to India where they became the parents of Prester John. Because his parents were of different colours, Feirefiz was piebald. # 156


Son of Dall, father of Deirdre; his feast to Conor and Red Branch heroes, where he bade Cathbad, the Druid, perform divination for Felim's newborn infant, Deirdre. 'The infant shall be fairest among the women of Erin, and shall wed a king, but because of her shall death and ruin come upon the Province of Ulster.' # 562


Tristan's grandfather, father of Meliodas and Mark, according to TRISTANO RICCARDIANO. In the TAVOLA RITONDA, Felix was King of Cornwall and Liones. In Malory, Meliodas and Mark were brothers-inlaw. # 156


  1. Wife of Alis, who was Emperor of Constantinople. See: CLIGS.
  2. 2. Queen of Ireland in DURMART LE GALLOIS.
# 156


(fr), plur. fir (fr) A man. # 166


(fr r'gin) Great-grandson of Donn Desa; foster-brother of Conaire Mor.

# 166


The kingdom of Feramorc over which Scoriath is king. Maon taken to Feramorc. # 562


# 166: (Fercartna) # 454: He was the poet of Cu Roi. When he discovered that Blanaid had been responsible for his master's death, he seized her and together they plunged off the cliffs of the Beare Peninsula to their deaths. # 562: Ferchertne (fr'hrt ne) Chief poet and entertainer of Conchobar. # 166 - 454 - 562


# 562: (fr de'a) (Ferdiad or Fer Diad) Duel between CuChulain and Ferdia; son of the Firbolg, Daman, friend of CuChulain; rallies to Maev's foray against Ulster; consents to Maev's entreaty that he should meet and fight his friend CuChulain; the struggle; CuChulain slays Ferdia; buried by Maev. # 454: The oldest friend and companion-in-arms of CuChulain, with whom he was taught at the court of Scathach in Alba. He was of Connact and found himself forced to combat CuChulain at the ford, when Ulster was being attacked by Maev for the possession of the Brown Bull of Daire. They fought for three days; at the end of each day thay bathed each other's wounds and slept in the same blanket. But at the last CuChulain used his great spear, the Cae Bolg, against which no man could stand. CuChulain had asked his charioteer, Loegaire, to incite his anger with insults and gibes and it was so that Ferdiad died at his friend's hand. # 166 - 266 - 367 - 454 - 562


# 156: A ploughboy who aspired to knighthood, having seen Arthur and his knights. After various adventures he married Galiene, the Lady of Lothian. His horse was called Arondiel. A Knight of the Round Table of Cornish provenance, a follower of Tristan, was also so called, but this is probably a different character. See: BLACK KNIGHT. # 562: Nemedian chief who slays Connan. # 156 - 562


# 562: (fr'gus moc l'de) The Wee Folk and Fergus mac Leda; visited by Eisirt, King of Wee Folk's bard; visited by Iubdan, King of Wee Folk. The blemish of Fergus: Fergus was never tired of exploring the depths of the lakes and rivers of Ireland; but one day, in Loch Rury, he met with a hideous monster, the Muirdris, or riverhorse, which inhabited that lake, and from which he barely saved himself by flying to the shore. With the terror of this encounter his face was twisted awry; but since a blemished man could not hold rule in Ireland, his queen and nobles took pains, on some pretext, to banish all mirrors from the palace, and kept the knowledge of his condition from him. One day, however, he smote a bondmaid with a switch, for some negligence, and the maid, indignant, cried out: 'It were better for thee, Fergus, to avenge thyself on the river-horse that hath twisted thy face than to do brave deeds on women!' Fergus bade fetch him a mirror, and looked in it. 'It is true,' he said; 'the river-horse of Loch Rury has done this thing.' The conclusion may be given in the words of Sir Samuel Ferguson's fine poem on this theme. Fergus donned the magic shoes, took sword in hand, and went to Loch Rury:

"For a day and a night
Beneath the waves he rested out of sight,
But all the Ultonians on the bank who stood
Saw the loch boil and redden with his blood.

When next at sunrise skies grew also red
He rose, and in his hand - the Muirdris head.
Gone was the blemish!
On his goodly face
Each trait symmetric had resumed its place:
And they who saw him marked in all his mien

A king's composure, ample and serene.
He smiled; he cast his trophy to the bank,
Said, 'I, survivor, Ulstermen!' and sank."

This fine tale has been published in full from an Egerton MS., by Standish Hayes O'Grady, in his SILVA GADELICA. The humorous treatment of the fairy element in the story would mark it as belonging to a late period of Irish legend, but the tragic and noble conclusion unmistakably signs it as belonging to the Ulster bardic literature, and it falls within the same order of ideas, if it were not composed within the same period, as the tales of CuChulain. # 166: A Red-Branch warrior. Not to be confused with Fergus mac Roich.

See also: FERGUS MAC LEIDE, THE DEATH OF. # 166 - 562


The title of this story, like many other titles in early Irish literature, is not precisely indicative of the main interest of the narrative. Though most of the tale is devoted to the visit of the king of the Lepracauns to the court of Ulster, the story belongs essentially to the Tom Thumb tradition, and many of the amusing incidents remind us of the adventures, later recounted by Swift, of Gulliver in the Country of Brobdingnag. The setting is ostensibly that of the old Ulster cycle, for Fergus mac Leide was one of the Red Branch warriors, although he is seldom mentioned in the stories of the Ulster group. He gains a certain prestige in Irish narrative literature, perhaps, through being confused with the famous Fergus mac Roig. The strange narrative of his death as related in Cross' and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES is not mentioned in the early stories dealing with the heroes of Emain Macha. Their account is usually regarded as having been composed about 1100, and the reader of this story will recall that in modern Irish folk-lore the lepracaun's are diminutive fairy shoemakers. # 166


# 166: (moc r'eh) # 562: Son of Roy, Facthna's half-brother; succeeds to kingship of Ulster; loves Nessa; sent to invite return of Naisi and Deirdre to Ireland; the rebellion of Fergus mac Roi; compact with CuChulain; reputed author of the 'Tain'; slain by Ailell.

# 454: King of Ulster before Nessa begged him to relinquish his reign for one year, in favour of her son Conchobar who thereafter ruled and Fergus was permanently dethroned. For this insult, Fergus helped Maeve and the forces of Connact. Because he was one of CuChulain's fosterers and teachers, he refused to engage in combat with him at the ford, making an agreement to spare CuChulain if CuChulain agreed to let him run away on a later occasion. He was the messenger of Conchobar to persuade Deirdriu and the sons of Usnach to return to Ulster. Later he became a voluntary exile in Connacht in protest against the killing of the sons of Usnech. He was slain at the instigation of Ailill who found him swimming with Maeve in a lake. # 166 - 188 - 454 - 562


Son of Erc; stone of Scone used for crowning; ancestor of British Royal Family. # 562


Rescued from enchanted cave by Goll. # 562


Quoted; his description of King Fergus mac Leda's death. See: FERGUS MAC LEDA. # 562


A knight who made various assertions to Arthur and Meliodas, among them that he was never jealous of his beauteous wife, Verseria. They tested him in this but, although they arranged for him to find Verseria in the embraces of Gawain, he did not become jealous. # 156


The Manx name for the Fairy host. Their hearing was omniscient and for this reason, people would speak very carefully or quietly about them. # 454




# 454: Often translated as the Fairies, Fferyllt is probably derived from the Welsh for Virgil 'Fferyll', who had a reputation in medieval times for being a magician and alchemist. Ceridwen is said to have consulted the books of the Fferyllt in preparing her cauldron of inspiration which Gwion drank. 'Fferyllt' means chemist in modern Welsh. # 439 - 454 - 562 - 711


A name common all over England for a double or Co-Walker, very similar to the North Country Waff. When seen at night, it is said to be a death portent, and is at all times ominous. Aubrey in his MISCELLANIES records that: The beautiful Lady Diana Rich, daughter to the Earl of Holland, as she was walking in her father's garden at Kensington, to take the fresh air before dinner, about eleven o'clock, being then very well, met with her own apparition, habit, and every thing, as in a lookingglass. About a month after, she died of the small-pox. And it is said that her sister, the Lady Isabella Thynne, saw the like of herself also, before she died. This account I had from a person of honour. # 38 - 100


(Fler) Nearly all traces of Fflur's legend have been lost. Her name, meaning Flower, establishes her as one with the other Flower Maidens of British mythology - Blanaid, Guinevere, Blodeuwedd. She was beloved as Caswallawn, but was carried off by Julius Caesar, according to the meagre evidence of the TRIADS. Caswallawn's quest in search of her, even to the gates of Rome, suggests that Fflur may indeed be one of the many faces of Sovereignty. # 104 - 439 - 454


An ancestor of Arthur in the maternal pedigree in BONEDD YR ARWR. # 156


A well in Caernarvon with oily-looking water which was said to have acquired this appearance from animal fat in Arthur's kitchen. # 156


(fe'c al moc con'hin) Husband of Finn's aunt and one of Finn's fosterers. # 166


(fe'h a) 1. Son of Firaba; cuts off eight-and-twenty hands of the Clan Calatin; gives spear to Finn. 2. Son of Conchobar. # 166 - 562


The story of the birth of King Fiacha Broad-crown begins, according to O'Grady in SILVA GADELICA, in the same way as that of Cormac and ends like that of Conchobar. The night before the battle in which he (as well as Art) was killed, Eogan, King of Munster, cohabited with the daughter of a druid at her father's request. The girl conceived and when her time came her father said it was an ill thing she was not brought to bed the following morning, for had it been then, the child would have overtopped all Ireland. She replied that the child would not be born before then unless it came through one of her sides. She sat astride a stone in the mid ford, appealing to the rock to maintain her. When she was loosened next day she died, and the child's head had been flattened against the stone - hence he was called Fiacha Broad-crown. # 504 - 548


(Fe-ah-ra) One of the Children of Lir. He was turned into a swan by his step-mother, Aoife. # 454 - 562


(fe'h ra moc fr'gu sa) Fiachra Caech, son of Fergus mac Roich. # 166


(fe'al) Daughter of Forgall Monach; sister of Emer; rejected by CuChulain on account of her relations with Cairpre Niafer. # 166




# 166: Fian (fe'n), plur. Fianna (feen-a). The Fianna of Erin was a kind of military Order composed mainly of the members of Clan Bascna and Clan Morna, and who were supposed to be devoted to the service of the High King and to the repelling of foreign invaders; almost all the Fianna of Erin slain in battle of Gowra.

# 454: The warband of Ireland, composed of 150 chiefs, each having under them twenty-seven men. The requirements for joining the Fianna were vigorous. Each man had to know by heart the poet's repertoire, submit to an initiatory test of his skills and courage, including having spears thrown at him, and being able to withdrawn a thorn from his foot while stooping under a low branch and running. Besides warriors, they had druids, physicians and musicians amongst their number. As it was a warband which upheld the country, each man was free of tribal retribution if he killed a member of any family, nor might his own family avenge him if he was killed on active service. The most famous leader of the Fianna was Fionn mac Cumhal - they are analogous to the Round Table Knights and King Arthur. The modern English equivalent is Fenians.

# 100: The account of the Fianna and of the career of Finn Mac Cumhal, drawn from the Ancient Manuscripts of Ireland, is to be found in Lady Gregory's GODS AND FIGHTING MEN and also in O'Grady's SILVA GADELICA. An account of the manuscript sources of these tales is given in Professor O'Curry's LECTURES ON THE MS. MATERIALS OF ANCIENT IRISH HISTORY. James Stephen's IRISH FAIRY TALES, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, gives a delightfully humorous turn to some of the stories. The Fianna were an order of chivalry whose qualifications were even more rigid than those of King Arthur's Round Table. They are given in detail in GODS AND FIGHTING MEN: And the number of the Fianna of Ireland at that time was seven score and ten chief men, every one of them having three times nine fighting men under him. And every man of them was bound to three things, to take no cattle by oppression, not to refuse any man, as to cattle or riches; no one of them to fall back before nine fighting men. And there was no man taken into the Fianna until his tribe and his kindred would give securities for him, that even if they themselves were all killed he would not look for satisfaction for their death. But if he himself would harm others, that harm was not to be avenged on his people. And there was no man taken into the Fianna till he knew the twelve books of poetry. And before any man was taken, he would be put into a deep hole in the ground up to his middle, and he having his shield and a hazel rod in his hand. And nine men would go the length of ten furrows from him and would cast their spears at him at the one time. And if he got a wound from one of them, he was not thought fit to join with the Fianna. And after that again, his hair would be fastened up, and he put to run through the woods of Ireland, and the Fianna following after him to try could they wound him, and only the length of a branch between themselves and himself when they started. And if they came up with him and wounded him, he was not let join them; or if his spears had trembled in his hand, or if a branch of a tree had undone the plaiting of his hair, or if he had cracked a dry stick under his foot, and he running. And they would not take him among them till he had made a leap over a stick the height of himself, and till he had stooped under one of the height of his knee, and till he had taken a thorn out from his foot with his nail, and he running his fastest. But if he had done all these things, he was of Finn's people. It was good wages Finn and the Fianna got at that time; in every district a townland, in every house the fostering of a pup or a whelp from Samhain (sov'an) to Beltaine (baalt'an), and a great many things along with that. But good as they pay was, the hardships and the dangers they went through for it were greater. For they had to hinder the strangers and robbers from beyond the seas, and every bad thing, from coming into Ireland. And they had hard work enough in doing that. This royal band were served by a great retinue of Druids, physicians, minstrels and musicians, messengers, door-keepers, cup-bearers and huntsmen, besides fifty of the best serving-women in Ireland, who worked all the year round making clothes for the Fianna in a rath on Magh Femen. There was constant intercourse with the Tuatha De Danann; many of the men had fairy mistresses and fairy brides; Finn's chief musician was the fairy Cnu Deireoil, the 'little Nut', a little man with golden hair, about four feet high, said to be a son of Lugh of the Long Hand; a fairy helper would suddenly join them, and they would be constantly assailed by hideous supernatural Hags, Giants and Wizards. It was an active life, full of delights and dangers, and it went on until old age overtook Finn, and his Fianna went down under dissensions, jealousies and deaths. # 100 - 166 - 267 - 454 - 467 - 503 - 504 - 562 - 619




Decorated clasps. # 730


(fi'hel) A game played with pieces on a board, probably similar to chess. # 166




A knight who lent Guinevere a stone which he had obtained from his fairy mistress. Guinevere coveted the stone which made the wearer beautiful, wise and invincible. When she had returned it, she sent Gawain to retrieve it which he did by fighting Finbeus. # 156


Dectera's sister, foster-mother to CuChulain; mother of Conall. # 562


Island of Finchory. # 562


# 562: Findabair of the Fair Eyebrows. Daughter of Maev; offered to Ferdia if he will meet and fight CuChulain. # 454: Daughter of Ailill mac Matach of Connacht and Medb. She loved Fraoch but he would not pay her dowry, until bribed by Medb (sometimes called Maeve), he agreed to take her in return for his help in battle against Ulster. Secretly Maeve offered Findabair to every champion who would fulfil this task, but all refused, save Fraoch, because they knew they would face the invincible CuChulain. When that hero killed Fraoch, Findabair died of a broken heart. # 166 - 367 - 454 - 562




It was one of the four cities from which the Tuatha de Danaan came to Ireland. Its master of wisdom, Uscias, gave Nuadu his sword. See: HALLOWS. # 166 - 454


# 562: Druid, of whom Finn learns poetry and science. # 454: A poet who lived by the Boyne. He guarded the Salmon of Knowledge for seven years, knowing that whoever ate of it would have all knowledge. His pupil, Demne (Fionn mac Cumhal in disguise) helped him roast it and sucked his thumb where the hot juices spurted out upon him. And so Fionn gained all knowledge. # 267 - 454 - 562 - 583


Fionn mac Cumhal is sometimes called this in Gaelic Scotland. The name also derived some popularity from the bogus epic, OSSIAN, written by MacPherson in the late eighteenth century; drawing on oral stories about the Fianna. James MacPherson fabricated a set of romantic Celtic poems which impressed and fired Europe to a reconsideration of Celtic culture, though his work was soon discovered to be a fake. See also: BRODICK, ARRAN and STAFFA and LOCH ASHIE, HIGHLAND. # 454


Conor mav Nessa's physician; his pronouncement (re) Conall's 'brain ball' by which Ket has wounded the king. # 562


The city of Finias. See: DANA, and FINDIAS. # 562


(finn mac coo'al) (FIONN MAC CUMHAL or FINN MAC COOL) # 100: Finn, find (fen), or fionn (f-yoon) Means: White, beautiful, a fair-haired person. The last and greatest leader of the Fianna. He was the son of Cumhal (coo-al) Mac Baiscne, who had been head of the Fianna of Ireland and had been killed by the sons of Morna who were contending against him for the headship. Finn's mother was Muirne, granddaughter of Nuada of the Tuatha De Danann, and of Ethlinn, the mother of Lugh of the Long Hand, so he was godlike and fairy race. After Cumhal was killed, Finn's mother sent him away to the care of a female Druid, for the sons of Morna were looking for him to kill him too. There he was trained, strenuously and in secret, and sent from place to place for safety and further education. He was trained in poetry, and he aquired two magical skills; whilst he was in training to the poet Finegas he accidentally tasted the salmon of knowledge and gained his magic tooth, and he drank a mouthful of water of the well of the moon which gave him the power of prophecy. At last his training was complete, and he went up at the time of Samhain (sow-in) to the High King's palace at Teamhair (Tara). The High King recognized him by his likeness to his father, and putting the smooth horn into his hand, which gave him immunity from attack, he asked him who he was. Finn told him his whole story and asked to be admitted to the Fianna; and the king granted it to him, for he was the son of a man whom he had trusted. Now every year at Samhain for the past nine years the Hall of Teamhair had been burned down by a fairy musician called Aillen Mac Midhna, who played so sweet an air that no one who heard it could help falling asleep, and while they slept he loosed a burst of flame against the place so that it was consumed. That night the king asked the Fianna if anay man among them would attempt the watch, and Finn offered to do so. While he was going the round an old follower of his father offered him a magic spear of bitterness, which smelt so sharply that it would keep any man awake. By the use of this spear, Finn killed Aillen and rescued the Hall for ever. He was made leader of the Fianna, and Goll Mac Morna, his chief and most bitter enemy, made willing submission to him, and was ever after his true follower and friend, though he still picked quarrels with all his kinsmen.

Many stories of his adventures were told, of his hounds and cousins, Bran and Sceolan, of the birth of his son Oisin, the poet and warrior, of his old age, and the last sad moment when he let the saving water trickle through his fingers, leaving Diarmuid (Dermot with the Love Spot) to die in revenge for his unwilling abduction of Grania, Finn's young queen.

# 562: Fothad slain in a battle with FmC; Dermot of the Love Spot a follower of FmC; Osianic Cycle clusters round FmC; Oisin, son of FmC; the coming of FmC, his Danaan ancestry, Murna of the White Neck his mother, Cumhal his father; Demna his original name, but account of the whiteness of his skin and his golden hair the name Finn (Fair One) was his hereafter; he slays Lia; taught poetry and science by Druid Finegas; eats of the Salmon of Knowledge; slays goblin at Slieve Fuad; made captain of the Fianna of Erin; makes a covenant with Conan; Dermot of the Love Spot, friend of FmC; He weds Grania; Oisin, son of FmC; Geena mac Luga, one of his men; teaches the maxims of the Fianna to mac Luga; Murna, his mother; His hounds, Bran and Skolawn (Sceolan); He weds Sadbh; she is taken from him by enchantment; Niam of the Golden Hair comes to him; experience in the enchanted cave; He is rescued by Goll; 'The chase of Slievegallion' and Finn mac Cumhal; 'The Masque of Finn mac Cumhal' by Standish O'Grady, the Hard Gilly (Gilla Dacar and FmC; bewails Oscar's death; in all Ossianic literature no complete narrative of death of Finn mac Cumhal; tradition says he lies in trance in an enchanted cave, like Kaiser Barbarossa.

# 454: Son of Cumhal and Muirne. He was fostered by a druidess, Bodhmall, and a woman-warrior, Liath Luachra, who taught him battleskills and the Arts. Calling himself Demne, he went to learn poetry of Finneces and obtained the thumb of knowledge; aquired by sucking his thumb when the salmon of knowledge was roasting for Finneces to consume. In following years, he had only to chew his thumb to have foreknowledge of events. His two hounds, Bran and Sceolan, were really his nephews in dog-form, because they had human knowledge they were wiser than all other dogs. He became head of the Fianna, fighting all the enemies of Ireland. He was father of Oisin by Sadbh. His attempt to marry Grainne failed because he was ageing and she eloped with Diarmuid. He pursued them both and brought about Diarmuid's death. He outlived his grandson Oscar and saw the slaughter of his Fianna at the Battle of Gabhra. He did not die but wasted away into the Otherworld where, like Arthur, he is said to sleep. He is credited with building the causeway between Ireland and Scotland, where he appears in many folk-stories as the ever-living and cunning hero. Mongan is said to be a later reincarnation of Fionn. His many adventures can be found in selective works. # 100 - 166 - 267 - 454 - 467 - 504 - 562 - 583 - 654


A folktale version of the birth of Finn has a great deal in common with that of Lugh. It was prophesied that Cumhal mac Airt would be killed in the first battle he fought after he married, so he knew no woman for a long time. Eventually he secretly married the king's daughter, who was closely guarded from men because of a prophesy that her son would deprive the king of his kingdom. Before going to his fatal battle Cumhal told his mother that if a son were born she should hide him. A son was born and, at the king's command, he was thrown into the loch, but he came up holding a live salmon in his hand. His grandmother then disappeared with him and despite the king's orders that all male infants be killed she succeeded in rearing him in a chamber in a tree. When he was fifteen, the boy defeated the king's people at a game of hurley. Whereupon the king asked, 'Who is that Finn Cumhal (white cap)?' 'Finn will be his name, and Finn mac Cumhail he is,' exclaimed the grandmother. The king pursued them but succeeded only in slaying the grandmother. # 270 - 548


This story gives the reasons for the long enmity between Finn and the sons of Urgriu, the tragic outcome of which is related in THE DEATH OF FINN. Stories of the boyhood of traditional characters, in Irish as well as in other heroic literature, are the natural result of the public demand for more material concerning favorite national heroes. THE BOYHOOD DEEDS OF FINN, unfortunately, comes down to us incomple-te. It contains a number of striking passages of nature poetry, done in the best bardic tradition of the second period (about 1200 to 1350), as yet unmarred by the exaggerated piling up of epithets that characterizes much later Irish poetry. The reader will notice some similarity between this story and THE BOYHOOD DEEDS OF CUCHULAIN. He will also observe that THE BOYHOOD DEEDS OF FINN differs in certain respects from the parallel account given in THE CAUSE OF THE BATTLE OF CNUCHA. The two represent two different streams of tradition, one older than the other. # 166


(FINN MAC CUMHAL) No cycle of heroic tales in any country is regarded as complete with-out the story of the death of the central hero. All readers of epic literature recall the death of Beowulf, of Siegfried, and of Roland. In medieval Ireland the desire for harmony and system called into existence the death tales of not only the central heroes CuChulain and Finn, but also of other famous warriors and kings. The story of Finn's death no doubt belongs to an early and authentically Irish tradition. The date of composition of the piece in its present form has not been established, but it is comparatively late, probably of about the same period as THE COLLOQUY OF THE OLD MEN. The rhetoric is flamboyant and, at times, over-conventionalized, yet the narrative is direct, and proceeds inevitably to its conclusion without interruption. The final scene in which the fierce old warrior faces his lifelong enemies in his last battle is one of memorable tragic dignity. The story begins with a great boar-hunt held by Finn and his companions. During a pause in the activities there is told the story of the origin of Finn's magic horn, which bears a mysterious curse. Then the boar-hunt itself is resumed. Oscar kills a terrible boar that has long been feared by the people of Erin. Right there starts the selection brought by Cross and Slover in their ANCIENT IRISH TALES, but the actual death of Finn is not included, since the end of the story is lacking in the manuscript. # 166




The arch-enemy of Donn Cuailgne. Finnbhenach had been through many incarnations, in many shapes, before he became a white bull. Together they were the cause of strife between Maeve and Ailill. # 454




# 562: The Salmon of Knowledge, of which Finn eats. # 454: Survivor of the Flood, father of Cessair. He hid in a cave in the form of a salmon. He passed through countless transformations, remembering all that had passed in Ireland. He appeared to later Irishmen who were disputing the ordering of Ireland and told them her entire history and the associations each place had had. # 454 - 469 - 548 - 562


(fin'tan moc n'll) In 'The Intoxication of the Ulstermen,' the ruler over a third of Ulster along with CuChulain and Conchobar. # 166


See: FINN.




(fee-un-oo'la) Daughter of Lir and step-daughter of Aoife; Aoife's transformation into swans of Fionuala and her brothers. See: CHILDREN OF LIR. # 562


(fir vulag) See: FIRBOLGS.


The Nimble Men or Merry Dancers were the names given by Highlanders to the Aurora Borealis. In SCOTTISH FOLK LORE AND FOLK LIFE, by Mackenzie, gives a good account of the tradition about the Fir Chlis, distinguishing their 'everlasting battle' from the more hurtful activities of the Sluagh. He himself was told of the 'Nimble Men' engaging in fights between the clans of two chiefs, rivals for the possession of a fairy lady. The bright red sky sometimes seen beneath the moving lights of the aurora is sometimes called 'the pool of blood'. J. G. Campbell, in his SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS, says that the blood of the wounded, falling to the earth and becoming congealed, forms the coloured stones called 'blood stones', known in the Hebrides also by the name of FUIL SIOCHAIRE 'fairy blood'. In Ireland, according to William Allingham's poem 'The Fairies', the spirits composing the aurora are more truly 'Merry Dancers', for the old fairy king is decribed as: Going up with music on cold starry nights, to feast with the Queen of the gay Northern Lights.

According to Lewis Spence in THE FAIRY TRADITION, the Fir Chlis were supposed to be those fallen angels whose fall was arrested before they reached the earth. This Christian theory of the Origin of Fairies was particularly prevalent in the Highlands, for almost every Highlander was a theologian. The Suffolk name for the Northern Lights is Perry Dancers. # 12 - 100 - 131 - 415 - 609


(fir yaraga) (FIR DARRIG) In his IRISH FAIRY AND FOLK TALES, Yeats says about the Fir Darrig:

The FAR DARRIG (fear dearg), which means the Red Man, for he wears a red cap and coat, busies himself with practical joking, especially with gruesome joking. This he does and nothing else.

The example he gives is 'The Far Darrig in Donegal', which is a version of 'The Story-Teller at a Loss', in which a man who fails to produce a story on request suffers a succession of macabre experiences which prove to be illusions designed to provide him with material for a story. The Far Darrig in this story is described as the big man, 'a gigantic fellow, the tallest of the four'. The Fear Dearg of Munster was, according to Crofton Croker, a little old man, about two and a half feet in height, wearing a scarlet sugar-loaf hat and a long scarlet coat, with long grey hair and a wrinkled face. He would come in and ask to warm himself by the fire. It was very unlucky to refuse him. The Cluricaune in his account was only six inches high, thus rather devaluated. There is, however, another Fir Darrig, a red-headed man, who occurs in stories of humans trapped in Fairyland. He is generally taken to be a human captive in Fairyland, and it is his advice and help which enables the human visitor to escape. Examples are to be found in Lady Wilde's ANCIENT LEGENDS OF IRELAND, VOL. I, 'Fairy Music' and 'Fairy Justice', and the same character occurs in many Scottish stories. # 100 - 165 - 728 - 756


(fir fl'ga) Probably the Manxmen. # 166


# 562: (fir vulag) Nemedian survivors who return to Ireland; name signifies 'Men of the Bags'; the FirBolg, FirDomnan, and Galionin races general-ly designated as the Firbolgs; the Danaan's and the Firbolgs. # 100: The first inhabitants of Ireland, according to ancient traditions, were the Firbolgs, who were conquered and driven into the Western Islands by the Tuatha De Danann. The Firbolgs became the first Fairies of Ireland, Giant-like, grotesque creatures. They and the Tuatha De Danann may be compared with the Titans and the Olynpic gods of Greece. # 454: They settled in Ireland, fleeing Greece where they had been enslaved and made to carry earth in bags. They afterwards made ships out of these bags and sailed to Spain. They held Ireland after the death of Nemed until the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan. # 100 - 454 - 469 - 562




Whereas Tara is the seat of kingship, several considerations associate Uisnech with the druids. It was at Uisnech that Mide (eponym of Meath), chief druid of the people of Nemed, lit the first fire. The fire blazed for seven years, 'so that he shed the fierceness of the fire for a time over the four quarters of Ireland'. From that fire were kindled every chief fire and every chief hearth in Ireland. 'Wherefore Mide's successor is entitled to a sack (of corn) with a pig from every house-top in Ireland.' And the indigenous druids said: 'Evil (MI-D, a pun) to us is the fire that has been kindled in the land.' On Mide's instructions, these druids were marshalled into a house and their tongues were cut out. He buried the tongues in the ground of Uisnech and sat upon them. Another story of the lightning of a symbolical fire is linked with the neighbourhood of Uisnech. It is told to explain how Delbaeth got his name. Banished with his five sons from Munster 'he went to the cairn of Fiachu and kindled there a druidical fire, out of which burst five streams of flame. And he set him a son to each stream. From these descend the five Delbnas. Hence the name Delbaed, "shape-fire", clung to him.' The lightning of a fire as a ritual proclamation of the ascendancy of the one who lights it occurs in several other Celtic stories. For example, St David on taking possession of the land which bears his name lit a fire, to the dismay of the local chieftain - 'the kindler of that fire shall excel all in powers and renown in every part that the smoke of his sacrifice has covered, even to the end of the world'. Similarly St Patrick, through lighting the Pashcal fire, usurped the privileges of the druids who were preparing a fire at Tara. The story of the founding of the monastery of Loch Ree by St Ciarn recalls Nemed's company of eight. 'With eight upon the Loch Ciarn travelled but with twelve hundred on land....A fire was lit by the clergy.... Said his wizards to Diarmait: "The purpose for which yon fire is kindled tonight is such that it will never be put out." ' According to the Welsh laws, the right to enter and occupy land which one's father occupied until his death was the right to uncover the fire Datanhud. Mention may also be made of the firm tradition that a humble squatter who builds a house on the waste during the course of one night, and has smoke rising from the chimney by the dawn of a new day, gains possession of the site and the land around to the distance to which he can throw an axe from his cabin door. In Irish tradition, Partholon, Tuatha De Danann, and the Sons of Mil are all said to have struck the land of Ireland at Beltaine, the beginning of a new summer, the time of year when it is the custom to rise early to see dawn breaking - and when 'ship-processions' used to form a part of the folk-ritual in several of the coastal districts of Britain. It is said that the Great Assembly of Uisnech used to be held at Beltaine, and though we are not told at what time of the year the people of Nemed landed, it is a safe presumption that Mide's fire is the archetypal Beltaine fire. Cormac's Glossary, as well as Keating's History, states that Beltaine fires served to preserve cattle from disease throughout the following year, and the Glossary also says that the druids chanted spells over the fires. The custom of kindling them with a fire-drill survived in some districts until modern times, and Beltaine continued to be THE occasion when the lighting of the fire on the hearth of every home was charged with danger and significance. # 548


A strange fish monster which looked like a mounted knight. Arthur fought it in order to release a fairy called the Lady of the Fair Hair. # 156


# 156: A king encountered during the Grail Quest. He is sometimes, but not always, identified with the Maimed King. He is called Pelles in the VULGATE VERSION, in which the Maimed King is named Parlan or Pellam. In Manessier's Continuation we are told he was wounded by fragments of a sword which had killed his brother, Goon Desert. By Chrtien we are told he could not ride as a result of his infirmity, so he took to fishing as a pastime. Robert de Boron gives his name as Bron and tells us he earned his title by providing fish for Joseph of Arima-thea. In SONE DE NAUSAY he is identified with Joseph of Arimathea himself. By Wolfram he is called Anfortas. # 454: The name given to the Grail King after he fed a multitude of followers from a single fish. The name may have arisen from a play on the French terms 'pcheur' (fisherman) and 'pcheur' (sinner), since the Wasteland is caused by the king's sin or blemish. See: WOUNDED KING. # 30-156-451-454-461


This name is what the Goddess of Sovereignty calls herself when she meets Niall. It means 'lordship' or 'sovereignty'. Frequently, in Irish tradition, candidate kings are offered a cup to drink from which is called the dergflaith or 'cup of red lordship', which denotes their acceptability to the goddess. # 438 - 454


Historians tell us that the names for Flamborough, Humberside, and for Scarborough (north of Flamborough) are derived from the personal names of two brothers who are mentioned in the 'Kormak's Saga' of the Old Norsemen. Kormak Fleinn (the javelin) and Thorgils Skarthi (the hare-lipped) are traditionally named as the founders (respectively) of these two northern towns. They were great warriors, and by the time their epics had been told and retold up to the fourteenth century (the time-home of so much British legend), Skarthi had been turned into a mighty giant, perhaps through confusion with the nordic giantess Skadi, the mother of Freya, said to dwell in the zodiacal region of Taurus. The better known giant Grim gave us the more recognisable Grimsby, and is respectably portrayed on the town's seal. The remains of Fleinn are more in evidence however, for although he is reputed to have arrived shipwrecked among the white cliffs of Flamborough, he gave up sea-roving and built the first house there from the wreckage of his boat. One wonders why the myth-makers did not have him living in Robin Lythe's Cave (replete with smuggler legends as it is) which has a height of at least 50 feet in the central part. However, there is some hidden meaning in the giant not exactly burning his boats, but certainly settling down. There is some truth in the story, for as a popular guide to Flamborough village rightly said, 'The people come of a Viking stock, as not only eyes and hair and thick-set frames, but many of the words in everyday use attest.' In former times it was a commonplace to derive the name 'Flamborough' from other sources - as 'the place of the flame' - forgetful for the fact that the Anglo-Saxon 'flaen' is one of several words for 'sword or arrow', and that in Doomesday Book the name is written 'Flaynburg.

Arrow and name seem to meet in one curious old custom (now discontinued, but noted until well into the nineteenth century) when the Lord of the Manor would annually stand upon Flamborough Head and shoot an arrow tipped with a coin towards the North Sea, shouting, 'If there be a King of Denmarks, this is our sign of loyalty' - a strange way to offer danegeld. Perhaps there is some throw-back to pagan customs in the old ritual by which the coffins of women were usually carried to their graves by women. In 1894, Colonel Armytage recorded that, 'If a fisherman on his way to the boats should meet a woman, a parson or a hare, he will turn back, for he will have no luck that day...' # 702


The so-called 'griffin' which is recognized as the 'Beast' of the City of London, and stands at the western end of Fleet Street, is really a dragon. The true griffin is an eagle in the top half, and a lion in the bottom half. This 'Beast' is one of the supporters of the shield of the City of London and, as Wilfrid Scott-Giles points out, had an unnatural origin. It seems that originally the City shield was supported by lions but, by the sixteenth century, over the shield in the city seal was a helmet with a curious fan-shaped crest. This was later interpreted as being the wing of a monster, and it was this misinterpretation which prompted the designers at a later stage to adopt a winged dragon as a supporter for the City shield. Thus, as ScottGiles confirms, the City dragons have no heraldic ancestry. For other mention of the London dragon, see BATTLE, EAST SUSSEX. # 702


A heathen writer, whose Arabic book formed a source for poet Kyot. # 562


The original pagan Lily Maid reappeared in medieval legends in many different guises including that of the Arthurian Elaine. The threelobed lily seems to have represented the Triple Goddess from a remote era, like the shamroch in pagan Ireland. Because the people knew it as a sacred symbol, it was placed on many banners and coats of arms, and eventually came to represent French royalty in general. # 701 p 426


# 156: A son of Gawain who was amongst the party that surprised Lancelot and Guinevere together. He was killed by the escaping Lancelot. # 454: One of Gawain's various illegitimate sons. In this instance, one of the two such sons by the unnamed sister of a Round Table Knight called Brandiles. He is supposed to have joined the attempt to entrap Lancelot in the Queen's chamber, and was killed by Lancelot during his escape. # 156 - 454


Wife of Floriant and daughter of the Emperor of Constantinople. # 156


The hero of the romance FLORIANT ET FLORETE. He was the son of Elyadus, King of Sicily, and the fosterling of Morgan le Fay. He was member of Arthur's court and Arthur supported him against the Emperor of Constantinople who made war on him. Floriant fell in love with Florete, the Emperor's daughter and married her. See: WHITE STAG. # 156


1. The niece of King Joram whom Gawain married and who bore him Wigalois. Elsewhere she is called Floree, daughter of the King of Escavalon. 2. The Queen of Kanadic who raised Arthur's son Ilinot, but later caused his death from love-sickness by sending him away. # 156


An enchantress who learned her arts from Merlin. She sent him a herd of magic horses and a crystal tower on a chariot drawn by firebreathing elephants. She killed herself when she perceived the beauty of Iseult.# 156


Blodeuwedd, the Welsh Flower-Bride, formed of blossoms by the magicians Gwydion and Math. She betrayed her intended husband, Llew, and caused him to undergo the Threefold Death at the hands of her lover, the hunter Gronw Pebr. Gwydion later transformed her into an owl, the night bird with a 'flower face'. See: BLODEUWEDD. # 628 p 66


The mother of Iseult in the Icelandic SAGA OF TRISTAN. # 156


The Celtic hero CuChulain was conceived when his mother-to-be swallowed him in the form of a fly. Perhaps the 'Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly' in the traditional folk song was one of these pre-Christian mothers. # 701 p 416


This was made by Merlin and is found in the French romance THE FAIR MAGALONA AND PETER, SON OF THE COUNT OF PROVENCE. # 156


The Foawr (fooar). The Manx equivalent of the Highland Fomorians. Like them, the Foawr are stone-throwing Giants. They are great ravishers of cattle, but do not seem to be Ogres. Dora Broome in FAIRY TALES FROM THE ISLE OF MAN has a story, 'Chalse and the Foawr', of a light-hearted young fiddler caught and carried home by a Foawr. One would expect it to end like the Polyphemus incident, but Chalse escapes by climbing up the giant's chimney. Nothing much is told of the giant who rode Jimmy Squarefoot, except that he threw stones at his wife, but in one of Sophia Morrison's MANX FAIRY TALES we have a complete Tom Tit Tot story in which the spinning is done by a giant whose name is Mollyndroat. The prize of the guessing contest in this tale is the possession of the woolen thread spun. Mollyndroat was the least grasping of all the Goblin spinners. # 100 - 105 - 485


One of the three goddesses of Sovereignty to whom Amergin promised the honour of naming Ireland. See: BANBA, and ERIU. # 454 - 562


(fodeen shaughrawin) see: STRAY SOD.


A son of Necthan, slain by CuChulain. # 562


Conor's youngest son; leads boy corps against Maev. # 562


# 166: (Fo-vor-ee-an) # 562: A misshapen, violent people representing the powers of evil in their battle with the Partholanians; Nemedians in constant warfare with Fomorians and their tyranny over country of Ireland; encounter between the Danaans and Fomorians. # 454: The original inhabitants of Ireland who lived beyond the sea or under it, according to legend. Various of the invading peoples were attacked by them, particularly the Tuatha de Danaan with whom they came to pitch battle. Their king was Balor. They were probably a remembrance of the earliest native peoples, of non-Celtic stock; they accumulated every possible association with evil and darkness in legend.

# 100: A race of demons, hideous and evil, against whom most of the successive invaders of Ireland had to fight. There is no record of their arrival, so presumably they had been there from the beginning, surviving the various hazards that exterminated the successive waves of colonizers. According to the BOOK OF CONQUESTS, the first unnamed inhabitants had perished in the Great Flood. Then came the children of Partholon, who waged war against the Fomorians and were finally destroyed by a great pestilence. After them came the people of Nemed, who fared even worse aginst the Fomorians than their predecessors, for they were enslaved by them and had to pay every November a yearly tribute of two thirds of their children and two thirds of their cattle. At length in a great battle they conquered the Fomorians and killed Conann, their king; but they themselves were so cruelly disminished in numbers that they left the country. Then came the Firbolgs, who had no trouble with the Fomorians, but were defeated by another wave of invaders, the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha conquered the Fir Bolgs, but allowed them to retain the province of Connacht. They also came into conflict with the Fomorians, but compromised with them to a certain extent, even to intermarriage. However, the war broke out again in the end, and the Fomorians were finally conquered at the second battle of Moytura. It has been suggested among the theories of Fairy Origins that these successive waves of invasion describe the conflicts of religious cults and practices. If this is so, the Fomorians would represent a primitive religion that entailed barbaric human and animal sacrifices. They were a race of sea-pirates with semi-supernatural characteristics who opposed the earliest settlers in Ireland. Later claiments identified them with the Scandinavians, who invaded the island during the eigth century. The Highland Fomorians were a race of giants, less evil than the Irish demons. # 100 - 166 - 267 - 454 - 562


Son of Conor mac Nessa; slays Maev. # 562


Place on the river Dee where one champion at a time would meet CuChulain and where the struggle at the ford between CuChulain and Ferdia took place. # 562


1. Forgall Monach (fr'gal mn'ah) A powerful chieftain with semisupernatural powers, the Lord of Lusca, father of Emer; He sent CuChulain to learn arms of Scathach, confident that he would not return alive. But the hero returned, and when Forgall tried to escape he was killed by CuChulain who then married Emer. 2. The poet of Mongan. # 166 - 266 - 454 - 562




Like the Blessed Islands: the earthly paradise located variously to the west of Ireland or applied to the Canary or Madeira Islands. According to the VITA MERLINI, it is ruled over by Morgan and her nine attendant muses. Analogous to Avalon. # 242 - 454 - 632


In the MORTE ARTHURE, Arthur dreamt that he beheld Fortune spinning her wheel on which he was placed. The wheel was then twirled about until he was smashed to fragments. He was told that this presaged his downfall. # 156


King, slain in battle with Finn mac Cumhal; wager as to place of death made by Mongan. # 562


The Celtic fairyland-paradise was a country of eternal youth with a wonderful fountain at its center, dispensing the waters of life. The fountain was also identified with the Cauldron of Regeneration. Several stories told of heroes reaching the fountain by entering a dragon-mouth - a mythic metaphor for the dangerous vagina dentata or menstrual taboo. # 701 p 341


This was created by Merlin according to ASTRE, a seventeenth-century novel begun by Honor d'Urf (1567-1625) and concluded by his secretary, Baro. It is in the section by Baro that the fountain is mentioned. It was guarded by lions which would not eat a pure and honest person. # 156


The fountain in which Esclarmonde bathed in the Terrestrial Paradise.# 156


( 'The Answerer'). Terrible sword brought by Lugh from the Land of the Living. # 562


In Arthurian romance, this country is sometimes called by the older name of Gaul. In the Arthurian period the Franks, from whom its present name derived, had established themselves there by about AD 457. Childeric I ruled them until about AD 481 when he was succeeded by Clovis I, possibly the King Claudas of Arthurian tales. From AD 511 Clovis's sons divided the kingdom. Pharamond, who perhaps comes originally from Frankish tradition, is the King of France in some Arthurian sources. CULHWCH mentions two French kings, Paris and Iona, at Arthur's court. # 156


A country, formerly called Servage, conquered by Tristan. # 156


He was loved by Findabair, daughter of Ailill and Maeve. He refused to pay a bride-price for her but agreed to accept her if he helped Maeve beat the Ulstermen. He was killed by CuChulain. # 367 - 454


An historical figure who became the subject of romance in which he was accredited with various magical activities and abilities, including the creation of a Bronze Head which uttered prophecies. The suggestion that this was initially to help protect England suggests a memory of the Celtic god Bran, whose head was buried under White Mount at the Tower of London to protect the land. Bacon, who was in reality a scolar and alchemist, lived in the thirteenth century. He finally retired to a life of seclusion. # 454


In Wolfram, the father of the Grail King Amfortas. # 156


A Germanic people who gave their name to islands off the coast of the Netherlands and Germany. The Byzantine historian Procopius, who was writing in the traditional Arthurian period, numbers the Frisians among the barbarian invaders of Britain. Layamon says that King Calin of Friesland was subject to Arthur. In the ALLITERATIVE MORTE ARTHURE, King Frederick of Friesland was an ally of Mordred. # 156


A dwarf who betrayed King Mark's secret that he had horses' ears. Mark had his head cut off. # 156


Celtic tradition has the frog as Lord of the Earth; it also represents the healing waters. # 161


A Roman tribune who ruled Gaul for the Emperor Leo. When Arthur invaded Gaul, he defeated Frollo in battle. Frollo retreated to Paris, outside which city he was slain by Arthur in single combat. The Vulgate LANCELOT makes him an ally of King Claudas and a claimant to the throne of Gaul. Elsewhere he is said to have been a German who became King of Gaul. In the PROSE TRISTAN he had a son called Samaliel who eventually became a knight of great renown. Is sometimes confused with Rollo, the first of the Norman dukes of Danish origin, who reigned 911 - 931. # 156 - 181


(foo'am-nach). Wife of Midir the Proud of the Sidhe; her jealousy of a second bride, Etain, made her transform Etain into a butterfly by magic art; Midir beheaded Fuamnach when he discovered her treachery. # 267 - 562


These malicious spirits were found near water, both inland and seawater. Fuaths were thought to be the parents of Brollachans. # 454


Geoffrey lists him as an early King of Britain, and John of Fordun (a Scottish historian) claims he was an ancestor of Lot. # 156


Actual historical character who lived at the time of King John Lackland and was one of the barons who opposed his greedy rule. He later became the subject of a lengthy romance in which his adventures with dragons and witches, monsters and beautiful maidens dressed his life with a border of myth and legend. He has many parallels with Robin Hood and seems for a time to have lived the real life of an outlaw. He is one of the few characters who really deserve the description Norman rather than English or Saxon. # 454


(foor'bi he fr'ben) A son of Conchobar; slayer of Medb; a protg of CuChulain. # 166