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Leary's New House
"No!" interrupted his friend. "Don't you see that ring of mushrooms? This is the fairies' dancing ground. You can't disturb this place. It will only bring bad luck to you!"
"Oh," scoffed Leary, "who's afraid of the fairies? They don't even exist. It's just an old story to frighten children. Shall we build here, wife?"
Aine whispered, "If you think it is safe, husband, then we will build here."
The next day Leary began to build the house. It was a strong house. The walls were built of stone. The roof was thatched. A newly-painted blue door was put up. It took a week, but the house was perfect!
When the house was finished, Leary and Aine decided to give a party for their friends. They bought food and drink. Leary hired fiddlers, a harpist, and one who played the whistle.
The party began in the afternoon with an excellent dinner. Everyone ate until they were full. Then the music began. People danced in the house and spilled out into the yard. The music was so cheerful that even the animals in the field danced!
The guests were still dancing when the sun went down. But suddenly everyone stopped! What was that noise? It sounded as if thousands of people were working on the roof. The sounds of grunting, panting, tearing, pushing, and heaving were heard clearly. Then there was scratching at the door. Finally the scrape of stone on stone was heard. But no one was seen.
"It's the fairies," whispered a woman.
"I told you they would be angry," said Leary's friend.
"Will they tear down our beautiful home?" Aine asked tearfully.
Leary went outside. He looked all around the house and up to the roof. He saw no one, but he spoke to the invisible visitors.
"I am sorry if I have offended you," he said.
"Leary, you have built your home on our dancing field. The house must come down by midnight!" replied a small voice, but one easily heard.
"Wait," said Leary, "if you will stop tearing apart my house, I promise I will take it down myself tomorrow. I will leave you plenty of room to dance."
A thousand small hands began to clap. Tiny voices cheered.
"Well, then, since you agree to give us back our space, we will stop. Do you see that spot over there between those two trees?"
"Yes," answered Leary.
"Then build your house there. And if you will leave us a bowl of milk every night on your doorstep, we will not trouble you."
"That is a good deal," replied Leary. "It will be done."
The next day, Leary tore down his house. He began to dig the foundation of the new house where the fairies had told him.
Suddenly his shovel hit something hard. Leary dug it up with his fingers. It was a huge black pot. And the pot was full of gold coins!
Leary and Aine lived happily ever after, and they never were bothered by the fairies again!
Images: House with blue door from a painting called Glimpses of Ireland by Loretta B. Wenger. Loretta was born in North Carolina and has lived with her family in the Philippines, China and Hungary. She loves animals and the great outdoors and wants her paintings to give people a feeling of harmony and peace with nature, as well as an abiding respect for our diminishing resources. Her paintings and limited edition prints can be found in many private collections throughout the world. We are very grateful that she has given us permission to feature Glimpse of Ireland in this story. To view this work and other paintings in her gallery, please click here: Blue Door
No Christmas dinner in Ireland would be complete without the fun of finding a Christmas Cracker by your plate. And, no, it's not something you eat! These crackers are tubes covered with brightly coloured foil. Each tube is usually filled with a paper hat, a silly toy, a joke and a strip of paper which will make a pop when the cracker is pulled. Each end of the tube is twisted so the treats inside won't fall out. The fun begins when each cracker is pulled by two people and the cracker splits. In many homes, the crackers are pulled before dinner begins so that families can wear the funny paper hats throughout the meal. In other homes, the crackers are pulled after dinner. No matter when they're pulled, crackers always make the Christmas feast more fun.
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March 4, 2011