Golden King

Fairylore: The Fairy King’s Gold

The Fairies of the Blue Stack Mountains

Many years ago, the Blue Stack Mountains were full of fairies, most being miners that extracted gold or silver from deep under the earth. In the Winter, their numbers were augmented, by the arrival of the Fairy King of Ulster who would hold court there for nine weeks every year without fail. During his stay, great merriment was made and the fairies would dance and sing all through the night.

People used to go there by the light of the full “Fairy Moon”, the November full moon, to see their dances and in their quieter moments to hear their haunting songs. Fairies are far more skilled in the arts of dancing and singing than humans, and after hearing the song of the fairies some often liken human singing, at its best, to the braying of a donkey. The sites of these great dances can still be detected, today, by the rings of dark green grass that the fairies have left behind.

In the time of the flourishing fairy kingdom, there lived a greedy but humorous old man, known as Hugh McFadden, who used to make frequent trips across the mountains to Donegal Town to stock up on Winter provisions. One day he was crossing the mountains, and was passing through a narrow, isolated valley and was suddenly overcome by tiredness. He sat down to rest, and within a few moments he had dropped off to sleep, and his bag had fallen by his side.

When he was fast asleep the fairies came and carried him away, bag and all, and took him deep under the ground. When he awoke he found himself in the Fairy King’s great palace of gold, surrounded by dancing fairies. First, they led him to the splendid gold throne room where he met the king of the fairies and his queen, who were so enamoured of Old Hugh’s humour that they said the had a great plan for him and promised to give him a gift before he left their kingdom.

Then, they showed him the wonderful gardens overgrown with magnificent exotic flowers, and they continued to dance all around him until he fell asleep. When he was sound asleep, they carried him back to the exact spot where they had found him. When he awoke he thought he had been dreaming, so he looked for his bag, and pulled it up, but he could hardly lift it. When he opened it, it was filled with gold coins.

Back home again

He managed to pick the bag up, and turning around, he headed off home.
When he arrived home, his wife Maddy said, “Where have you been? You’ve been gone for three days, and whatever happened to the provisions we need?”

“I’ve got something here that’s more important,” he said, and showed his wife the gold coins.
“Why did you bring them here?”, said the wife angrily.

He was confused as to why his wife should be so angry about bringing home a fortune in gold coins. Tired and weary he put the money in a box under the bed.

Next morning, when he awoke, he thought he’d go to the town to buy lots of things, and he went to get some of the coins, but to his amazement he found it full of rocks covered in yellow paint with an old piece of parchment that read, in handwriting very similar to his own, “Part of the Greater Plan”. A few moments later, his next door neighbour, Barny Branigan, knocked at the door, and in good humour, asked him why, he had dug up his garden and taken his decorative painted rocks. He had no answer to this.

He didn’t tell anyone the real story, of how he had been fooled by the Fairy King who loved to mock and laugh at human foibles. But some folks, knowing of the ways of the Fairy King, knew he had been taken by the fairies to their home under the mountain.

In the years that followed, the incident was gradually forgotten. Hugh’s behaviour, however, showed some odd quirks. After a few glasses of Powers whiskey, he would attempt to dance and sing. Prior to the incident, he had shunned dancing. Some guessed that he was imitating the graceful movements and the melodic singing of the fairy dance. But even by human standards he was an awful singer, and his songs sounded like the cawing of an irritated crow. He also stayed well away from the Blue Stack mountains which was unusual for anyone living in his neighbourhood.

A hundred years after the incident, a New York tourist, also named McFadden, under the guise of investigating his family roots, rented the old Branigan place, towards the end of October. On the last day of his visit he went to the hardware store bought a spade and dug a 9 foot hole and recovered the box of gold. He left a piece of parchment for the owners which read, “Part of the Greater Plan”.