Oils on canvas 30 × 30cm
Tradition claimed that ringforts were “fairy forts” imbued with Druids’ magic and believers in the fairies did not alter them. The early pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland (known as the Tuatha Dé Danann and Fir Bolg) came to be seen as mythical and were associated with stories of fairies, also known as the “Good People”. Fairy forts and prehistoric Tumuli were seen as entrances to their world.
Even cutting brush, especially the sceach or whitethorn, on fairy forts was reputed to be the death of those who performed the act. Other traditions hold that a Leprechaun may allegedly know of hidden gold in a Fairy fort. In literature, British author Rudyard Kipling made allusions to the process by which such legends grow in his 1906 novel, Puck of Pook’s Hill. (wiki)
The Hawthorn – Whitethorn Tree
Hawthorn is widespread in Ireland being valuable for both wildlife and farmers. It’s service as a hedgerow tree comes from its resilience to trimming, forming a dense livestock barrier with the added deterrent of thorns. It grows just about anywhere. Though the wood is strong , it is seldom used now.
Formerly it was used in mallets, tool handles and mill wheels. It also makes excellent charcoal. Folklore attached to it is abundant and it is commonly found near ‘holy wells’, though it is unlucky to bring fresh blossoms, or haws, into the house (it was believed that they smelt like the plague!) The small leaves of the Hawthorn are irregularly lobed and usually herald the arrival of spring. But it is the flowers and berries which are of interest to wildlife.
Hawthorn is an excellent wildlife plant, supplying both food and fortified shelter. The flowers, which appear around May, (another name for Hawthorn is May) are heavily scented and attract bees and wasps. The berries are devoured by the many birds, and help sustain them through the early winter. Some birds have been known to defend ‘their’ Hawthorn from other birds!