A Terrible Revenge

By the close of the 19th century in Ireland encounters with Earth and Otherworld spirits were still common occurrences, especially in western rural areas. Many writers and antiquarians were about the business of collecting these stories, W.B. Yeats and Lady Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s mother, among the more famous. Lady Wilde published some of her findings in her 1887 book Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, & Superstitions of Ireland, which clearly reflects the nature of these encounters having shifted from a relationship with to a fear of these spirit entities. One of her stories, A Terrible Revenge, is among many that give strong warning of faery revenge and begs a question Yeats might ask – which holds the greater peril, letting them in or barring the door?

cottage doorThe fairies often take a terrible revenge if they are ever slighted or offended. A whole family once came under their ban because a fairy woman had been refused admittance into the house. The eldest boy lost his sight for some time, and through he recovered the use of his eyes yet they always had a strange expression, as if he saw some terrible object in the distance that scared him. And at last the neighbours grew afraid of the family, for they had brought ill-luck wherever they went, and nothing prospered that they touched.