The landscape of Ireland is dotted with ancient monuments and with most unexplored it enshrouds them in a veil of mystery. There are numerous mounds, too many to count including Iron Age ring forts and even older tumuli like the one near Grianán of Aileach in Co. Donegal which dates to the Neolithic period.
In Irish folklore these are often referred to as Fairy Forts dwelled in by fairies and elves. In Irish mythology there exists an ancient and supernatural race known as the Aos Sí or Aes Sídhe who live beneath these forts and mounds. From my previous posts on Irish mythology I have often written about the Other World or Spiritual World that exists parallel with the Earthly World and within this world live the spirits of the ancient ancestors, gods and nature spirits. Mythology has also recorded that under the terms of defeat, the Tuatha Dé Danann retreated underground and the Sea God, Manannán mac Lir placed spells of invisibility over parts of Ireland hiding the Danann from human eyes. The ancient gods would only appear by night from their earthly mounds to help people in need, therefore becoming known as fairies or elves.
In the past, very strong superstition was held by Irish people, perhaps not as much today, in relation to the treatment of such mounds and ring forts. Druid magic enshrined these monuments and to damage, destroy or knock a fort was seen as bad luck and a curse would be placed upon you by the fairies. I have heard many an old yarn told on how bad luck fell on a family for tampering with the homes of the fairies. In fact accidents have occurred and befell on people for having damaged ring and hill forts with no plausible explanations!
Many believe that these mounds are ancient burial grounds and belong to the ancient races of Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Without excavations we cannot be sure what lies beneath such places and is this not the intended purpose? Leaving the shroud of mystery hang over them like a veil of mist that creeps in from the Atlantic on a damp day.
Not only mounds and ring forts are treated with superstition but also trees like the Whitethorn tree which is considered to be precious to the Aos Sí. When motorways were under construction in Ireland, certain ancient and mystical trees were not disturbed and roads built around them. This certainly signals a strong connection to the ancient ancestors and the nature spirits or is it fear of the unknown? Perhaps it is about having respect for our history and heritage.
The Aos Sí or Aes Sídhe are always present, living in the spiritual world, hidden from our eyes. Protectors of the land and its people, but be warned, these ancient races will not think twice about defending themselves and their homes!