Friday, August 28, 2020
Saturday, August 22, 2020
This ancient breed native to Ireland is now being perpetuated at Kylemore Abbey in Ireland. When travel restrictions are eased, if you're of a mind to go, I highly recommend this spot. And do not miss their cafeteria! LOL.
Credit: Wild-Eyed Southern Celt
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Saturday, August 15, 2020
This week I'd like to bring you another, chronological excerpt from my short story, Legend of M'Rith. This fantasy romance can be found in DCL Publications' Enchanted Fairy Tales.
Set in Ireland in 1844, M'Ruth's tale is one of loss and love as half fairie/half elf M'Rith is abandoned by the other fae. Left near a human village, M'Rith has spent her long years alone, unseen, until she witnesses something shocking.
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"Her kitten companion had not returned from whatever morning task occupied her, so M’Rith the faerie began her daily journey alone. Jays screamed a warning...silly birds, as though she would hurt them...while deer only bounded a short space away, leading little male fawns with their orderly rows of spots and their haphazardly-spotted sisters. A skunk returning from nightly rounds passed her near the stream, heading for a homecoming drink. The industrious little creature, bright eyes fixed on the ground, barely spared her a glance. He couldn’t; he was too nearsighted. Still, even faeries gave a wide berth to skunks searching for provender.
The sun waxed more powerful as she went, causing a fine sheen of dampness beneath her gown. It was the price she paid for growing large, to feel some discomforts as mortals did. Pausing, she drank cool water from the stream before entering woodlands bordering the fields where humans grew sturdy crops of oats and barley. But they were not yet edible. Fruit trees were not bearing yet, either, and M’Rith reluctantly conceded she would need whatever food the villagers had left her that day. Their encroachment upon lands her kind had once inhabited could not be stopped. Forced to subsist on their superstitious offerings, she never willingly let them see her, but drifted along byways and cart paths like a puff of smoke or a vagrant spring breeze, shielded by a glamour.
The ground was wet on the bottom slopes of the fields, where some tree limbs had been brought down by the weight of water on their almost fully-sprung leaves. She touched the trees gently to convey a healing. They were silent friends, affording shelter and edible nuts, and she hated to see them wounded in the course of natural happenings. Seeing them sawed down and made into dwellings was worse. She did not mind that humans took straw for thatch, nor was the burning of dead wood too painful. They could not conjure a spell to warm themselves, after all. But the murder of living trees...oh, that was hard. Thinking of it always put her into a state of discomfort.
The slow tolling of their church bell set her teeth on edge. The religious ones were no friends to her, apparently viewing her as a challenger to their version of the divine being. Her steps slowed and dragged as she approached the village through a tree line offering partial concealment in the unlikely event anyone could see her. That had happened only a handful of times in a hundred years.
The preoccupied humans would be no threat that day. She could see people walking by ones and pairs and small groups in the direction of the building with the bell, but it was not their usual day to go there. Something felt amiss. They were quiet and wore dark clothing heavier than needed.
Tiptoeing parallel to their street, scarlet-clad feet barely touching the ground, M’Rith slipped along behind houses, among gardens and bright clouds of feeding butterflies which parted graciously for her passage. Insatiably curious, she was attracted by the sight of so many people going to the same place. Rarely was there anything interesting to watch. As a rule, they were dull creatures consumed with toil.
Her lips drew back slightly when she saw the man wearing a white collar emerge from the bell building. Many people were friendly to the Fair Folk, but not that one. She paused to watch from behind a venerable old apple tree where she had often taken fruit—only the windfall or the requisite three apples set out by a human seeking a favor. She never robbed. M’Rith had done no injury to any human, though she could.
The collared man was speaking to a younger man. M’Rith shuddered at the sight of that one, too. He was the blacksmith, possessor of iron, which could mortally wound her. She had seldom seen him, only his wife who left her many good things in hope of having a child. M’Rith had sprinkled her path with faerie dust because of it and eventually seen that the woman was increasing. There should be a child by now, but the blacksmith was alone. The collar man put a hand on his shoulder, then took him into the bell building. All the others followed, silently. The doors of the building closed and the village was deserted.
Yes, things felt distinctly odd. But it was a good time to look for breakfast.
There were juicy pickings that day. Beside doors and in gardens she found bread and jam and eggs, milk, honey in the comb, even some mead. There were small cakes, rare treats with delicious sweet icing, and round cookies of ground nuts with flour and precious sugar. It was unprecedented—a banquet. Only a few dogs left on chains challenged her and they were easily avoided. M’Rith had brought a wrap to carry food, but she hadn’t enough room for everything, so she ate as much as she could stuff in her cheeks and tried stuffing the rest elsewhere—in her gown, in her wrap knotted round her neck, anywhere.
Consumed by a haze of gluttony, she was startled by the pealing of the bell a little while later. She jumped, casting her eyes about, but no one was there. Not a single soul. Curtains of homespun and lace fluttered in the breeze through open windows, their owners nowhere to be seen.
The bell didn’t usually ring after the humans had gone inside their building. Now it rang a handful of times, not the long call it uttered on the customary day. When it ceased, birds resumed chirping. The sun shone warmly and rainwater left over from the night pattered from trees onto eager grass nearly growing before her eyes. Though things looked normal, she felt an undercurrent, enormous and implacable. And then, suddenly, she understood.
The doors of the bell building opened with a groan. Several men emerged, a large box carefully balanced on their shoulders, while the collar man and the blacksmith followed closely. Behind them, what looked like everyone living in that village followed, from the oldest granny to babes in arms. Taking careful, constrained steps, they turned not in the direction of the houses, but the other way. Chilled, M’Rith realized they were going to the place of dead humans, which her kind avoided. They barely understood death.
Many people behind the two men were weeping, stumbling as if their legs would barely support them. M’Rith paused to watch, because she had the strongest feeling the blacksmith’s wife lay inside that suffocating box, and her child with her. M’Rith knew the women did not always survive their confinements. Men had spoken of it in the fields, sometimes, with a quiet and terrible grief.
“Return to your beginning, human lady,” she murmured—a warm whisper on the breeze, floating and then forgotten, like a rose petal.
Her pleasure in the brilliant day spoiled, she retreated from that place of sadness as quickly as faerie feet could take her."
Friday, August 7, 2020
In 1840s Ireland, the encroachment of humans has driven most Fae creatures to the isolated West, except for M'Rith. Half fairie, half elf, never fully accepted by either, she has been left in the green East by her Queen Mother with only the promise of a mortal lover to console her. Yet years have gone by without her mother's prophecy being fulfilled, until M'Rith has simply learned to live unseen, in an uneasy truce with her human neighbors.
Kieran, the village blacksmith, has lost his wife and unborn child to an untimely death. He alone, of all the humans, appears able to see M'Rith, yet he is a worker of iron which can mortally injure the Fae. Can this be the lover her mother promised?
There were touches of her everywhere, like ghostly fingerprints: jellies and jams neatly put by in the larder, sheets and clothes smelling of her scented soap, pine floors scrubbed nearly white, simple furniture made rich with a polish of bees’ wax and fragrant oils. In his house, Kieran had every comfort but her presence. Eventually, he had to leave.
His feet took him by rote to the pub. The only other choice was his forge, where there was not another cobweb to sweep or a thing to put away. Like his house, it was in perfect order. But without his wife to broaden the focus of his life, rapidly narrowing to a thin tunnel of possibilities, Kieran saw no other choices. House, pub or forge. Forge. Pub. House. It all came down to the same thing in the end. She wasn’t there.
Silas, the owner, looked from behind his bar as the creaking door announced his now-frequent patron. “Ale?”
“If you please.” It was all Kieran drank, even in his grief. Silas came round the bar to one of the boards spread across empty barrels where Kieran had taken a bench. Crinkled pork rinds sat in a crock, beckoning customers to increase their thirst, but Kieran didn’t touch them.
“I cannot believe the weather has held fair an entire fortnight,” the older man remarked, putting down a mug of rich, creamy ale. It was a thing to remark in Ireland, where it always rained.
“Aye.” No one had gotten much more than that out of Kieran in two weeks, but Silas had enough steam for both of them.
“’Tis the work of the Fair Folk.”
Kieran smiled sourly. “Don’t let Father Donnelly hear.” Silas only lay one finger alongside his nose, aconspiratorial grin shining through his handlebar mustache. “He won’t from me if he doesn’t from you.”
“No chance of that.” No, no chance at all. His wife had believed in the faeries, even if he did not. Kieran stared moodily into his drink while dust motes sparkled in sunlight streaming through two high windows above Silas’s stout door.
Raised in their village, never more than ten miles from it, Brighid had been a simple woman. She had believed in the Fair Folk, even going so far as to allege they were responsible for her conceiving their long awaited child—the child that killed her. Kieran knew that was nonsense. It was only that such things had been important to her, so in her honor he put out food from her funeral feast. Everyone did. Surely it was no business of the priest’s if an extra bit of milk was set down for the cat that day or a couple of cakes were behind the privy. And although Kieran was sure it only resulted in a few fat dogs, it was true that the days had stretched cloudless and balmy. He was beginning to feel lonely for a spot of rain.
“I think we have their protection,” Silas went on. “D’ye know how many trees came down on buildings in Loughderry during that last storm? And here nothing more than branches. They’ll be weeks cleaning the muddy mess from their flood. We’re no farther from the river than they are. I tell you, it’s uncanny. They lost most of their sheep to the bloat and we weren’t out a single one. Good Lord, even our vegetables are twice the size of theirs! They say you could club a man with our carrots.”
“Or take his head off with a cabbage.” Kieran nodded. “I’ve heard it, too. The truth is their soil is leached out.”
“Well, there may be something to that. I wouldn’t like to be planting taties all the time. At least we have cabbages to clout with.” Kieran didn’t respond. To someone who knew him well, as Silas did, it was obvious that he had lost weight and was looking poorly. “You might work a little less,” Silas counseled gently.
Kieran gave him a startled look. “And do what?”
“Go and fish, man! The days are getting longer. The boys and I are about to set up some bowls on the green of an evening—for practice, like—and then take it on the road with those Loughderry lads. See if they can keep up with their blarney, free ale to the winners. Which will be us.” As if thoughts of ale prompted him, Silas took Kieran’s mug to refill. “You can be our score keeper if you’re not of a mind to bowl.” Rounding the bar, he lowered it on the boards. “Don’t stay in your cottage with her ghost.”
Silas blanched. “Aye. ‘Tis what I meant to say, Kieran. Sorry.”
Kieran waved a dismissive hand. The villagers had not known the babe nine months in his wife’s womb. She had been a stranger to them, but not to him though she had never drawn a breath. Fair as a rose she would have been, if she had breathed. But how could she, when her mother could not? And so his baby daughter rested now in her mother’s arms. In the ground. Silently, he put down two coins and stood.
“Don’t you want the rest of your ale?”
Kieran just shook his head. “Put it out for the faeries. We could use some rain.”
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For more of this story, join me here at the Celtic Rose for additional installments of "Legend of M'Rith." This and two other short stories by Lynn Hubbard and Jae El Foster are available for purchase in "Enchanted Fairy Tales." Purchase it here at: