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For Centuries, Inishtrahull’s solidarity has been of great benefit to the Island’s resident Fairies.
As darkness falls, Inishtrahull has always been said to become a very
different Island where Inishowen’s wee folk can still hold their charm
away from watchful eyes. But it was not always so, after years of
turmoil and strange happenings, the original Islanders eventually
accepted the customs and values of the Fairies and learned to live in
harmony with them by respecting their ways and traditions, they knew all
too well the Wrath of the Leprechaun.
The long nights of winter
mean more frolicking time for the fairies and it is then when their
winter festivals become more visible from Inishowen with the majestic
beauty of the Northern Lights dancing in the sky above Inishtrahull
Island. They are very fond of Poitìn and Whiskey and they love to dance.
The lack of large trees and other cover on the Island meant that the
Island’s Leprechaun’s took sanctuary beneath the ground and so they
constructed a vast network of underground passages and caves on the
Island with various small entrance and exit points, many of which are
still clearly visible today and were avoided at all costs by the
Inishtrahull’s original Lighthouse was fraught with
bad luck and mishappenings due to the fact that an ancient Whitethorn
Tree (The Fairy Tree) was destroyed on the site where the Lighthouse was
built. The Whitethorn Tree is a sacred monument to the Fairies and this
fact was understood by the Islanders and many people who lived on the
The Site of the original Lighthouse was selected by
outsiders who gave little thought to the Islanders values and
traditions, the Builders laughed off any intervention made by certain
native Islanders in relation to “Wee People” or “Fairies”.
unsavory events that occurred (which I will not cover here) during and
after the construction of the original Lighthouse were severe for those
who selected the site, the outsiders who built it and the Islanders
they employed to help them during construction.
wrath was so severe that it was eventually decided to completely
demolish the original Lighthouse and relocate it to a neutral area on
the Island that was not used by the Fairies, although the true reason
for the relocation of the Lighthouse was kept secret from the public at
the time, the Islanders made sure that it was not forgotten, they told
the details far and wide back on the mainland and to all who docked at
the Island. Of all the men and women who played a part in the
construction of the Original Lighthouse, not one of them escaped the
leprechaun's eventual revenge. The various pieces of construction
material belonging to the original Lighthouse are still laying on the
Island today, it was said that anyone who utilised them for their own
benefit or removed them from the Island would be followed by bad luck
The Island's wee people needed no boat to go from Inishtrahull to the mainland and back.
They used special mirrors known as "Pictas", they had been gifted the
Pictas by the High King Áed Findliath of Ireland in the year 872 A.D
after the Leprechauns played a key role in releasing his mistress Niamh
from the spell of an evil demon, after all, a leprechaun’s intentions
are neither fully evil or fully good. The High King knew this fact all
too well and so the Pictas were gifted to the Fairies on one condition,
that they would never be used against him or his heirs as long as the
throne remained on the Island of Ireland, this also meant that the
Leprechauns could not use the Pictas to steal any of the royal treasure
from the royal vaults, which was King Áed’s main concern at the time.
The Leprechauns agreed to the King's terms and they were given 5 pictas
in all, 1 of which was located on Inishtrahull and another on the
mainland. The Pictas worked like a doorway from one to the other. In
effect, it was said that the Pictas doorway could be opened, closed and
locked by the Fairies.
The Picta’s frame was made of Pure Gold
and the mirror itself was made of an unknown material that resembled a
normal mirror when it was in its static state. The Pictas were highly
prized items among Seers of that time and also the very scarce
Scientific community of that day. The Pictas were also highly sought
after by Treasure Hunters who were aware of their existence.
the 16th Century, a Picta was unwittingly discovered in a small cave
behind Bunagee Pier (still visible by boat today) by a fisherman from
Carrowmenagh called Tadhg O Riann. Believing the Picta to be a valuable
Gold mirror & being from a poor family, Tadhg made his way to Mr.
O`Doherty the Blacksmith in Carndonagh that afternoon telling him the
exact place where he had found it. He sold the mirror to the Blacksmith
who gave Tadhg a relatively small price for it. That night, Tadhg
visited Beatie’s Pub near Carrowmenagh where he used most of the money
he received from the sale of the Picta to buy as much Whiskey as he
could drink, he told everyone in the Pub the story of the Gold mirror he
had found in the small cave and pawned in Carndonagh that day, Tadhg
left the Pub that night to walk home but he was never seen again.
Meanwhile in Carndonagh, you can only imagine The Blacksmith’s surprise
when his newly acquired mirror started flashing and 3 small
Leprechaun’s emerged from it after dark that evening! One eyewitness
recalled hearing very loud screaming from coming from the upstairs of
Mr. O`Doherty’s house similar to that of an old woman. Mr O`Doherty did
not turn up for work the next morning or any day after that, his
neighbours believed he had emigrated to America but could not understand
why he would up and leave everything in the middle of the night,
without telling a soul..
When Hugh Bana, an Inishtrahull man
visiting Carrowmenagh shortly afterward heard the story about the
Blacksmith and Tadhg, he allocated the disappearances of both men to the
Leprachauns of Inishtrahull. The Carrowmenagh people banished Hugh from
the Village for spreading such a story.
Many Treasure hunters
have searched the small caves in and around Bunagee Pier where Tadhg
originally found the Picta, but to this day nothing of interest has been
uncovered, the Leprechaun’s are still believed to use the Pictas as a
means of transport to and from Inishtrahull but the location of the
Picta on the mainland has never been determined, and the Picta on
Inishtrahull is believed to be kept deep underground in the Fairy Caves.
My great Grandmother told me this story many times and warned
me at the end each time, that if I ever came across a Picta, to (a) not
look into it and (b) most importantly leave it where it lies.