By Helen Riddell
FOLLOWING reports that the fairy houses in Rineen Woods have all but disappeared – despite a few reappearing recently – could it be that the fairies have just moved west to take up residence in Dunboy Woods outside Castletownbere?
Over the past two weeks, fairy houses, pathways and woodland figures have magically appeared on trails in the woods adjacent to the ruins of O’Sullivan Bere’s castle at Dunboy. Local children Mason and Natasha Cronin came upon some of the houses recently, but despite gently knocking on the tiny doors, it seemed the fairies were sleeping.
Beara, however, is no stranger to fairies. In 1835, a local farmer found a tiny shoe on a remote sheep track between the Kenmare river and Castletownbere.
The shoe was just under three inches long and barely an inch at its widest – too long and narrow even for a doll’s shoe. The man who found the shoe assumed it belonged to the ‘little people’ and gave it to a local doctor, who later passed it on to the Somerville family of Castletownshend.
While on a lecture tour of America, the author Dr Edith Somerville gave the shoe to Harvard University scientists, who examined it in detail. The shoe had tiny hand-stitches and well-crafted eyelets (but no laces), and ‘was thought to be’ of mouse skin. As to it’s maker, he/she were never identified.