A Celtic Tiger: Alive with Magic

There are fairies in Ireland.

Even today, there are people living on the Emerald Isle who believe in the presence of magic and little people. It’s no wonder; this country is one of those places in which you can easily taste the magic in the air.

Each time I go out into the country, I seem to pass a fairy tree, a single tree out in a field or on top of a hill all by itself. Supposedly, these are the homes of the fairies in Ireland, and woe comes to anyone who disturbs these places. While anywhere else, these tales would be told with a laugh and a smile; they are taken quite seriously here. Not too long ago, an entire highway was rerouted just to avoid cutting down a single fairy tale.

This love and respect for the supernatural is rooted deep in Irish history. Long before the Anglo-Saxons settled on the island, Celtic people worshiped a race of gods called the Tuatha de Danann, who were mighty, powerful and never grew old. Much of the early mythology of Ireland revolves around the adventures and great deeds of these beings.

Admittedly, I felt something of this power when I visited Newgrange. This passage tomb was built before the Celtic people inhabited Ireland during the Neolithic age. The people of this time worshiped the sun, and built the monument before the construction of the Egyptian pyramids began. Spiral and zig-zag artwork decorate the stones around the outside of the mound and inside the chamber. Without the man-made lights installed on the walls, the chamber would have been completely black. Only at the winter solstice does sunlight illuminate the chamber within, shining light onto the places where the ancient Neolithic people lay their dead.

In all reality, Ireland is a thoroughly modern country, and many of these superstitions are true only in the country. The Celtic Tiger era of the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a rapid modernization of the city areas, and now companies from around the world come to do business in Ireland. When I first arrived in Dublin, I was shocked by the number of people who had come to Ireland from elsewhere in Europe to work or learn.

However, Ireland still holds true to its roots. The place still holds the magic of the past, and the folktales that the Irish peasantry used to tell around fireplaces are still loved today. It’s easy to find Irish families who still tell stories about their ancestors being haunted by banshees or stray sods causing them to get lost. In Ireland, the magic is still alive.

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