Emerald Isle

Leannan Sidhe

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales from Irish Gods and Monsters

The fairy muse of the otherworld

It's well known that the people of Ireland are gifted in poetry, music, writing and the arts, and many have to come to these shores to admire these works. But there is one who moves through the misty glens and dappled glades of Ireland and it is the poets who whisper to her in the darkest hours of the night, hoping for an answer!

This fairy creature is called the Leannán Sidhe, which means the fairy lover, once one of the Dé Danann who were banished to the mounds by iron-armed Gaelic invaders, and her embrace is deadly – or so some say. She is known through the lands of the Gael, Scotland and among the Manx, offering wisdom and beauty to the young men of Ireland who were talented poets, artists, musicians and writers.

While she herself has no face, or at least she has never been described, when these men set eyes upon her she becomes the most beautiful woman they have ever seen, and they devote themselves to her until their obsession ends in madness and a terrible death, either by their own hand or by wasting away!

And yet the more they suffer, the more they are drawn to her fey glory - every waking moment becoming a quest to find her, and an unbearable waiting until she graces them once again with her presence, and their shaking pens write all the more magnificently. To them she becomes desire itself, an occult pathway to strange realms almost beyond the imagination.

But legends tell that even death itself is no release from her embrace, for she brings these tormented souls back to the otherworld where they sing for her forever!

If so much as the rumour of a Leannán Sidhe was heard near an old Irish village or town, panic would ensue, for people knew her appetites and the price to be paid! But if a man had enough strength of will, he could refuse her charms, and then she would become his servant, which happened rarely enough.

Only to a man of Milesian blood will she come, and some have speculated that she desires to eternally torment the children of the race that drove hers beneath the fairy hills.

She may have been a servant of Queen Áine who made her abode in Cnoc Áine, or Knockainy as it is known today, in County Limerick, marked on the map below.

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