Emerald Isle

Gan Ceanach

There are many types of fairy in Ireland, some more risky than others, and some to be avoided due to their habits rather than out of any particular malevolence. Such a one is the Gan Ceanach, whose name means “Without Love”.

Although you might think such a title would indicate a friendless creature of a lonely nature lacking in social graces of poor prospects and uncertain personal hygiene, nothing could be further from the truth! The Gan Ceanach is the Casanova of the Sidhe, a breaker of hearts and infamous libertine.

In truth he is, like many Sidhe, diminutive in stature although well groomed at all times and dressed in the latest fashions, although he can take the shape of any man he pleases, and can set a lady's heart a-flutter with murmured sweet nothings in his deep husky voice, like rich velvet.

It is said that a faint mist surrounds him, scented with strong and manly fragrances, and he always has some sparkling gems or jewellery to gift a lady that catches his fancy. He knows the thirty poems of De Danann courtship and the nine verses of the rose-strewn path, and can flatter with such subtlety that you'd think you were just passing the time with smalltalk even while you blushed.

Such is his charm that birds stop singing when he passes and dogs stop barking as he strolls happy go lucky about the countryside, but he casts no shadow for he's not truly of this world.

But alas for many a fair maid and not a few staid housewives, they learn too late the truth of his name! For when he's bored of his passion for one woman, away he goes and vanishes with the morning dew, as often to the races as to his next lover. So taken are women with his charm, sadly, that they usually pine away and die by the rising of the next new moon.

It is said a lady called Sarah O'Reilly in Wicklow survived his charms and chases him to this day!


Further Folk and Faerie Tales of Ireland