Monday, October 7, 2013

Ireland: Mythical, Magical, Mystical

Today's special guest is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. In her own words, she says:

I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were.  I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others.  Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write.  Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.


How did you become interested in the myths and magic of Ireland?

I had grown up with Irish fairy tales from my mother, and had always held a soft spot in my mind for those stories.  When I grew up, I developed an intense interest in history, especially that of the Celtic countries.  My first trip anywhere on my own was to Ireland – I suppose it was just natural that I would learn as much as I could about this magical place. 

What was required to research the sites you include in your book?

Since I haven’t been able to visit all the counties in Ireland, I got some help from several of my friends, including Michele Erdvig at and Corey Taratuta and Liam Hughes at  They were fantastic help in gathering data from places I’d not yet been, and offering suggestions for places to share.  Corey and Liam also run a site called that I’ve contributed to, that show even more hidden places and sites.  They continue to update it all the time, and have an interactive map to help you plan.

What was your favorite site? Tell us about it, and why it left such an impression with you.

I would have to say my favorite was the Hill of Tara.  From a purely physical view, this is a rather lumpy bit of land on the east coast of Ireland, north of Dublin.  However, knowing what created this place, its history and its mythical significance, transforms it into a magical place of power. 

The Hill of Tara is a collection of earthworks that used to be a fort, and was where Irish kings were crowned for hundreds of years.  It has a stone called the Lia Fáil, which was supposed to shriek when a true king of Ireland rode his chariot over it, signaling that the goddess of the land accepted him as her earthly representative.

I first came to the Hill of Tara on the second day of my very first trip to Ireland, in 1996.  It was rather early in the morning, around 9am, on a cool August day, and there was no one else there, save a couple stray sheep on the hillside.  The grass was still quite wet with dew as I climbed this ancient hill fort, and stood on top. 

The view, as I looked out, was like a carpet of farmsteads, quilted in shades of green, and I felt as if I could see the entire island laid out before me.  I swear I could feel the power of the land funnel through me like a fountain, and I felt energized, unique, and powerful.  I will never forget that day, and though I’ve been back several times, I was never able to repeat that experience.

What tips would you give first-time travelers to Ireland?

That’s a whole section of my book!  But the first, and probably the most important is not to try to do too much.  You must always plan a trip as if you’ll be back, as you can’t possibly see all you want to see in a week or two.  Slow down, enjoy the trip, and don’t try to do the ‘green blur’ tour! 

Will you be writing more books about Ireland?

I am currently writing a similar book on Scotland, but I may go back and write something else on Ireland.  Or I may update the book with a new edition every couple years, with more hidden places, for instance.


Do you find yourself drawn to the magic of the Emerald Isle? Would you like to see places beyond the typical tourist traps? Come, join me on a journey through the mists of legend, into the hidden places of mystery. Immerse yourself in the legends and myths, the history that has made this island precious in the hearts and minds of millions. Along with the tales and history, there is practical information on planning your trip, budgeting your costs, and finding the best places to while away the magical hours of your holiday.


The Magical Facet The Fair Folk

Everyone has heard of fairies, of creatures with supernatural powers to curse, to bless, to find gold, or to cause mischief. Literature and art is full of them from Shakespeare to contemporary artists Amy Brown or Jasmine Beckett-Griffith. Western culture, especially in the US, is bred on Disney’s Tinker Bell, children’s books of flower fairies from Victorian artists, and grim tales of the darker side of these Fae folk.

In Ireland, fairies, known as the Sídhe (pronounced shee) or the Good Folk, originate from the Tuatha Dé Danann, the people who immigrated to the island before the Sons of Míl. Supposedly full of powers, the Tuatha Dé Danann could not bear to be near iron, and therefore their superior skills were for naught. Rather than leave the land they loved, they agreed to reside below the earth. For this reason, caves are said to be entrances into their underworld homes. Traces of this legend can be seen in the classic film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, where Darby is led under a mountain to the Fairy King’s palace.

Ireland has countless portals, be they hills, hawthorn trees, caves, wells, or other sacred places.

A more Christianized origin of these creatures claim they are angels which fell to Earth before humans resided there. They live beneath the waves or gardens, and while some are evil, others can be helpful as long as they are treated with respect.

While many modern legends show the fairies to be sweet, kind, magical creatures, this is really a Victorian creation. The traditional views in Ireland and Scotland show the Sídhe to be mischievous to the point of cruelty a force to be reckoned with. They are not sought out by the wise. In fact, most of the herb and spell lore of an almost forgotten era is meant to instruct how to keep you from coming to the Folks’ attention.


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