In Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, I discovered a Faery Path. It quite was easy to find, or perhaps the term recognise is more appropriate, because it was not lost or hidden. That which the Faerie hide is not easily found. Local belief is that it will not do at all to block the paths that the Faerie have walked for millenia. Bad things tend to happen to those who do. So when one spots a seemingly random gap in a wall, ten to one says it is there so as not to obstruct a path that is used by the Little People.
In some situations it seems they will be satisfied with a style and I am not sure how one determines this. One thing is for sure. No one, at least no one of my generation or older, would dare obstruct the Faerie, and would never build a structure such as a house or barn in their way.
It took a while for me to work out where the path led. It seems the objection to obstruction does not extend to vegetation and at first it appeared that there was nowhere that anyone using this path through the wall could come from or go to.
But they are not called the little people for nothing, even though it is indeed a misnomer. They are not much smaller than you or I. Well. That is to say, they are quite a bit smaller than I am but not much shorter. I think they are called little people because they can vanish very easily. Assuming of course that you ever see them in the first place. I have already mentioned that I have seen them, so I speak with some authority on the subject.
As I explored, I discovered almost invisible gaps in the hedges in positions that aligned with the wall. They were narrow and suited to someone much slimmer and more lithe, but not impassable even for a tubby chap such I. Having passed through a few such gaps, and another hole in a wall I began to get a good idea of the general direction in which the path was heading.
After a twenty minute walk I came through a hedge into a small rock strewn field. Directly opposite was a dry stone wall constructed of the same rocks scattered around the paddock. Sitting on the style was a young man. As I approached he stood, a broad smile on his nut -brown face.
“Did I not tell yer we’d be meetin’ again?” he said, taking my hand and clasping it warmly.
I remembered a flute playing a stirring tune, and suddenly I recognised this young man. Not so young he was either, now I looked closer. His hazel eyes twinkled.
I stared… “Mr Wayland?”
“Did yer bring the sixpence lad?”
Around my neck was a black string. On the string was a small leather sovereign pouch that contained my wedding ring, which no longer fitted my chubby fingers, and a small disc of smooth polished silver that was an ancient worn sixpenny bit.
“Sure and would I come to the Old Country without it?” I asked in my best imitation of my Grandmother’s brogue. I took it out and showed him.
“Silver and Gold” he breathed. He sounded very relieved. “Sure and ye have silver and gold! When you told me you gave away the token I was worried about how we could rectify that. What is given cannot be taken back, and must be offered unasked for. But ye solved the problem ye’self! And with the right kind of gold. Gold that is given. Well done lad!”