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One Photo; One Story: Faeries

In the foyer of the Ashley Park house hangs a plaque of a dove in flight mounted on wood and the poem reads:

“Lest we forget the people who have lived here in this house before us. They had to leave everything when God called them. We must do likewise”.

As 2005 came to a close, my wife Kelly and I stayed in this house. Just off of N52, Nenagh, County Tipperary.

Owned by the Mounsey Family, we struck up several conversations with Sean, the elder patriarch of the house. He told us stories about the land and facts about this historic home. The house was built around 1700 on 76 acres of woodland and gardens on the Loch Ourna near the edge of the Slieve Ought Mountains. The trees were old gigantic beech trees with thick underbrush of rocks and dirt mounds. Sean told us that the trees here were very old and protected faery forts.

Anytime Kelly had a question he would always begin his answer with a very polite “yes miss”, and provide his answer. He took us on an oral journey about the estate and wove in tales of Ireland’s mystical magical beings. His family had purchased the house in 1983. After several years of dilapidation the floors were rotted out when they moved in. He talked of the gardens and the ring forts that existed on the grounds. Ring forts were used in the sixth through tenth centuries to protect livestock from predators and thieves. Hidden amongst the forts are burrows and small areas used to store things and provide a place to hide. When the ring forts fell out of use the faeries moved in.

Sean told us that he was sure some had lived on the property. So! We decided to go on a quest.

Armed with flashlights, a digital camera, and a flask of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kelly and I went for a late night walk. Several hundred yards into the darkness and mist of a late December night, we came upon a dense wood of old growth trees and bush. The trees were thick, old and seemed wise. You could tell they stretched into the night for centuries, what tales they would tell. We stopped to admire how old the place felt and that the woods were alive. Not menacing or threatening, but alive with energy. When we snapped a photo and the flash went off, we heard small creatures scream as if they were sounding an alarm. They scurried up the wood and away from our position and into the night. Hair stood on the back of our necks as we apologized and walked back to the house.

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