Tessie and William Halliday dwelt for many years in the Townland of Tullyear, near Banbridge in the County of Down in the direction of Rathfriland.  Their cottage was beside an ancient earthen Fort, the origin of which was lost in antiquity.  Its perimeter was marked all round by hazelnut trees and part of a moat.  In the centre of the Fort was a very deep well. The place was inhabited with abundant wildlife as well as domestic animals, including hives of Honeybees. The Fort, Cottage and its Garden were sheer fascination for many with tales of Fairies and Banshees.  I can say that it was not just children who believed this folklore, with sounds of the night always making one uneasy.




Scene of enchantment in Old Tullyear,

With Hazel Trees thick all around,

Cloaking the ground where Pheasant appear,

And borrowing Badgers abound.


Hoot of the Owl in quiet of the night,

Bark of the Fox on the prowl,

Hen on the roost, frozen with fright,

As Reynard ignores the old Owl.


The Moon beaming down onto the Rath,

Creates a magical scene,

With Fairies arriving along every path,

Some dressed in tunics of green.


Dipping and veering Bats on the wing,

Pursue the Moth and the Fly,

As round the thorn the ‘Wee Folk’ sing,

Where big people dare not pry.


Monarch of the unseen, that Fairy Queen,

Presides o’er her subjects all,

But they disappear, no trace to be seen,

When the Cockerel maketh his call.


Monty Alexander 13.5.99

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