Seanchaí, folklorist and story-teller Eddie Lenihan tells Kay Doyle his own story about how it all came to be.
If you drive very slowly at a point on the Newmarket-on-Fergus bypass in Co. Clare, you might notice what looks like a very ordinary green bush.
Nothing about this bush would make it stand out from the hundreds of other shrubs and bushes along the dual carriageway, but the story behind it is far from ordinary.
Back in 1999, when plans for a new motorway meant bulldozing this bush, renowned Irish folklorist and storyteller Eddie Lenihan, came to the rescue. He warned that this was in fact a fairy bush, and removing it would create grave, serious trouble.
He said that the bush was a marker in a fairy path and was the rendezvous point for Kerry fairies on their way to do battle with the Connacht fairies. Under the bush, he claimed, the Kerry fairies would regroup and consult on what might be the best tactics in battle. He said their white blood had been seen on a number of occasions on the surrounding grass.
Eddie wrote this in a letter which made international headlines at the time – the BBC, CNN and New York Times amongst others were all interested in this man who was fighting for the ‘good people’ – the fairies.
Today, that very bush still stands along the bypass (which had to be re-routed) with its worldwide coverage leading it to be quite the tourist attraction.
Eddie Lenihan might have made international headlines in the late nineties, but here in Ireland he was already an affirmed renowned folklorist and well respected mine of information on the ‘others’.
Born in 1950 in Brosna, Co Kerry to parents Jack and Rachel Lenihan (nee Morrissey), Edmund was one of three children. His father and uncle were harness-makers, but Eddie pursued a different path. He went to boarding school in Cork under the Presentation Brothers before going to University College Galway where he studied English, History and Latin and then spent an extra five years earning his MA in phonetics.