There’s no point in coming to Ireland if you don’t believe a little bit… in magic!
Notwithstanding its tourist use, a certain idea of the supernatural floats in the Irish air. The birth of the leprechaun – this green blighter who is ubiquitous in souvenir shops – goes back a long way, to the 8th century or so. It has long been an integral part of Irish culture, which explains its commercial use now.
The farfadets are, like in other European mythologies, dwarves who hoard the Pot of Gold, but who do not hesitate to lie and trick the humans (the Nibelung and Harry Potter are not far away, in my opinion), and they are said to bring good luck to those who can find either one of them or the Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbows. Good luck with that ..
While waiting to see a leprechaun, we are sure to see stone: Ireland is full of churches and castles. For the watchfull visitor, Irland is visually a bit like the Greece of the Anglo-Saxon world. When it comes to castles, whether they are in ruins or in good condition, any self-respecting Irish castle is a haunted castle. A number of these legends are close to the history of the Irish rebellion against the British invader and related casualties.
This is the case of Tully Castle where many women and children were massacred on Christmas Day in 1641. Or the castle of Clifden in Connemara, haunted by the victims of the great famine, or that of Leslie castle haunted by a young man who perished during WW1. Malahide castle, next to Dublin, is in this respect even award winning: as „the most haunted castle in Ireland“, it has had ghost appearances for 800 years! Currently, 5 ghosts would haunt the castle full-time, the two best known being the jester Puck who died of a broken heart and the lady in white, who regularly comes out of her portrait hanging in the great hall. Is is said that many visitors have seen apparitions in Malahide, I let you go and judge for yourself.
By the way, if you come to Malahide, take time to walk in its sublime gardens, and especially its fairy garden – in the purest Anglo Saxon tradition, see the pictures – I let you surrender to its charm. Don’t forget to sit in one of the wishing chairs and make a wish there!
In another idea of magic, if you go to Blarney Castle near Cork, do not forget to kiss a certain stone upside down (true story) in order to acquire the gift of eloquence. According to legends, this stone was originally used by St Jacob, St Colomba or the kings of Scotland, it may even be part of the famous « stone of destiny », then once it arrived in Ireland, that’s a fact, the stone was integrated at the top of the tower of the castle. All nonsense, you think? Perhaps, nevertheless, people queue sometimes for more than an hour to be able to kiss the Blarney Stone (it may be necessary to think about a post-pandemic contactless version, but that’s another story!)
Last remark: many Irish families have their own legend, with « a relative who.. ». Many sentences in Ireland begin anyway with „I have a cousin who“ (see article to come « The Irish way of networking »), well, some of these sentences can end with a family legend, for example a story of wild fire or a scream in the night..
In short, no need to come to Ireland, if you do not believe (a little) in magical forces, don’t forget: absence of proof is not proof of absence!