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The Sidhe Header
"For all the hillside was haunted
By the faery folk come again
And down in the heart-light enchanted
Were opal-coloured men"
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The Sidhe (shee) are considered to be a distinct race, quite separate from human
beings yet who have had much contact with mortals over the centuries,
and there are many documented testimonies to this. Belief in this race of
beings who have powers beyond those of men to move quickly through the air
and change their shape at will once played a huge part in the lives of people living
in rural Ireland and Scotland.
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Whereas the fairy woman is young and beautiful, Caeilte himself is old and withered. When Patrick enquires of this, Caeilte tells him that:
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"She is of the Tuatha De Danaans who are unfading...
and I am of the sons of Mil, who are perishable and fade away".
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The sidhe of the subterranean mounds are also seen by the Irish as the descendants of the old agricultural gods of the Earth, (one of the most important being Crom Cruaich, the Crooked One of the Hill). These gods controlled the ripening of the crops and the milk yields of the cattle, therefore offerings had to be given to them regularly. In the Book of Leinster we discover that after their conquest the Tuatha De Danaan took revenge on  the sons of Mil by destroying their wheat and the goodness of the milk (the sidhe are notorious for this even today). The sons of Mil were thus forced to make a treaty with them, and ever since that time the people of Ireland have honoured this treaty by leaving offerings of milk and butter to the Good People.
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These distinct categories of sidhe beings ties in with the testimonies of seers who divide the sidhe into wood spirits, water spirits, air spirits and so on, the elemental spirits of each place.
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Lough Gur in County Limerick is a very magical place where we meet many of the sidhe kings and queens of Ireland. The lake lies within a circle of low lying hills, but once every seven years it appears as dry land, where an entrance to the Land of Youth may be found. The lake's guardian is known as Toice Bhrean (the lazy one) because she neglected to watch over the well, from which the lake sprang forth.It is believed that once every seven years a mortal meets their death by drowning in the lake, 'taken' by the Beann Fhionn, the White Lady.
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L. MacDonald DALRIADA MAGAZINE 1993

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