Our story starts many years ago when the island of Scariff were being dragged across the ocean from Beara in West Cork, to Dingle in County Kerry
The noise was horrendous and all the fairies immediately clamped their hands over their ears. With trembling knees they asked “What has happened”
The efforts from the past 11 days had taken their toll. The Hag of Beara was tired and disaster was imminent . The small small elfin like creatures who had jumped on board her ship, waited to hear the news.
“We have an impossible situation on our hands now,” said the Hag. “I was told not to look behind as something bad would happen if I did. I couldn’t help it as my curiosity got the better of me – so I peeked. We are all at risk now, it is everyone for themselves. Get your act together if you want to survive”.
With that, the rope broke…..and the islands was marooned forever.
Those who look out to sea from the harbour in Derrynane will see the islands of Deenish and Scariff, marooned forever since the day the straw rope broke. You will also see the enormous chasm through the front of the island of Scariff – this was where the rope was tied to pull the islands towards Dingle.
Being of great size, the Hag was able to wade her way back through the ocean to the mainland and carry on her journey by foot towards Dingle. However, even though fairies are known to be magical creatures, sadly they are not great at swimming.
When the little creatures looked across the ocean to the mainland they were at a loss as to know what to do – it was a long way away and there were massive waves beating against the shoreline trapping them on the island.
Survival was important and there were no woodlands on these islands – they had to make it to shore to find a lush forest. Fairies thrive amongst the leaves and ferns of woodlands and the few sea shells and harsh rocky environment was not a healthy place for them to be.
The fairy elders called a meeting to make a plan of escape….
After much discussion between the elder fairies and younger folk there was sadly no agreement on a united plan of action to escape from the islands. Separate groups emerged and they formed island clans, such as the Derrie’s and the Quin’s.
It was to far to fly for the fairies, so how to get away was the main cause for concern. Also, they had no wood to build a boat or any other building materials.’
The islands were a desperately difficult place to escape from – so how could the fairies get away? Being marooned here had also made everyone a little bit crazy so fights started too.
Finding an escape boat was the most important thing so every clan got to work.
The ‘Derrie‘ fairy clan were strong and believed that heavy materials were the best solution. On the other hand, the Quin clan were keen to use modern lightweight materials – with much success. Other groups had still to make up their minds. (By the way, the Derrie’s still call Quin’s ‘Lightweights’).
So what happened next? The Derrie’s decided to follow current trends in the area. The island of Skellig Michael nearby had a thriving community of monks living in beehive huts made of stones. They decided that they could build a boat in a similar fashion to the beehives and make their escape to the mainland….
They did – but what a journey they had to endure…
The suffering of Derrie fairies was terrible. Not alone had the building of the stone ship been a back breaking task, the voyage itself was full of danger (we will recount this epic voyage on another day). When they arrived on the mainland, many had already perished – mostly because of horrendous storm that had whipped the seas into an angry furnace.
This picture shows the Derrie stone ship shortly after arrival at Derrynane Bay (so named after the Derrie Clan)
The Stone Ship built by the Derrie fairies
When the Derrie fairies made their way onshore, they left behind a legacy that can still be seen to this day – a ship made of stone! Every hundred years since then, the ship has changed its appearance and you can see it today on the road to Lambs Head near Caherdaniel.