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Fairies At The Bottom Of My Garden...

Mike Harding | 15:32 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

I have two small boys in my care at the moment, Tobias and Felix (six years and almost five years respectively).

Before we went to Ireland for a weeks holiday, I told them a lot of stories about leprechauns and fairies. ­

I had to really, since there is a tree at the bottom of my garden in Connemara where leprechauns have been seen dancing on a summer's night, and the house itself borders on a townland called Sheeauns which translates as the hill or slope of the fairies.

Right on the edge of my townland of Cloon and Sheeauns itself, is a pure white quartz standing stone, a rare thing of magic and beauty with a cowshed and an ESB electricity supply pole right beside it.

Before we left England, I told Toby and Felix the story of a fiddler who was coming home after playing for a dance, who found himself caught in a fairy fort one dark night and rambled around and around lost in the darkness until the dawn came and he found his way out again.

All the while he was wandering lost in the old fairy fort he heard a strange air coming from out of the ground.

By the time the dawn came, he had it off by heart. The fiddler's name was Johnny Doherty and the name of the tune is 'Paddy's Rambles In The Park'.

Nobody plays it better than Dezi Donnelly and his recording of it on his CD 'Familiar Footsteps' is a classic of world music.

I played it to Toby and Felix after the story and they loved the wildness and the majesty of the music.

Two days later we were at Manchester airport waiting for the Galway flight and there was Dezi himself heading out for a recording session with Sharon Shannon.

Both boys were, you might say, gobsmacked. I'm going to try and play the track in one of the next few programmes - it truly is a great piece of music.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great Story Mike. Synchronicity !

    And I've been approached to develop a schools project on the Painting 'Tobias and the Angel' by the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio.It's a painting that's inspired a lot of stories, some of which are mentioned in The Book of Tobit, perhaps you could tell the lad the one about the huge fish that sprang out of a lake to attack Tobias, and Raphael ( his guardian angel) encourages him to kill it but to keep certain parts of the fish in order to heal his fathers blindness. (they also use other parts to cast out a devil who has killed everyone of Tobias new girlfriends seven previous suitors!)


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