Cnoc a’ tSíodhán

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One day, the man was walking along the hill near his house when suddenly he heard pipes being played like he had never heard before. The sound seemed to come from under the ground, in front of him. As he drew closer the music grew louder, and he saw a flat stone set in the hillside under a whitethorn tree and lifting this up he saw a flight of stairs leading downwards. Going down these he found himself in a hall of great splendor and at the head of a great table laid out for a big feast there sat the piper, dressed in a kilt of beautiful green with silver buckled shoes and playing the wonderful music. The piper made the man welcome and invited him to sit at the table and immediately the hall was filled with lots of people dressed like the piper. They sat at the table, made the man very welcome and the feast began. There was the finest of food and wine and music and the feasting carried on well into the night.

When eventually the feasting was over his new friends told him it was time to go so he bade farewell to them and headed back up the stairs and when he reached to top he put the stone back just as he had found it. He then set off down the hill to his home and as he walked the place seemed unfamiliar and alas when he came to his home place there was nothing there but nettles and briars and no sign of human habitation at all apart from the ruins of what looked like a very old house. The man was greatly disturbed by this and then he realised that he must have been in “Cnoc a’ tSíodhán”, the Fairy Hill and that he had been there for many years. He walked on a little further and did not recognise the countryside at all and when he saw a house further on he made his way towards it.

In the house was a very old man, a cobbler, mending boots. “Come in” said the cobbler, “You are a stranger in these parts” he said when he saw the very old man with a beard down to his knees. “Yes” said the man, “I am a stranger even though I should not be a stranger here”. And he told him his story of walking on the hill and hearing the magic music. He told him of the stone and the steps and what had happened when he met the piper. The cobbler was amazed when the man told him his name, saying: “Yes, I remember. I remember hearing my great grandfather tell the story that he had heard from his father of an old man who went up the hill one day a very long time ago and never came back. And so you must be the man I heard of…”

And the man who had been in Cnoc a’ tSíodhán sat down on the cobbler’s bench, and suddenly felt himself getting weaker and weaker. The priest came from the church and gave him the last rites, and as soon as that was done he crumpled down and died. The people gathered and buried him in a corner of the parish graveyard and sometimes when there is a gathering in a house for the stations or a wedding they tell the story of the man who visited “Cnoc a’ tSíodhán”.

There is hill in our area and it is now called Mount Browne. Sheeaun Park is the name of the townland at the foot of the hill and but many of the old people still call it by it’s old name “Cnoc a’ tSíodhán” or “the Hill of the Fairies” and the Kilskeagh people remember the fun they had crossing the hill on their way to Carnaun School long ago before there were bicycles or buses. 

Poem “The Fairies”  by William Allingham“  Up the airy mountain … 

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Written by Edel Browne

Published here 05 Feb 2021 and originally published 2012

Page 010 of Athenry Mythology

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