Fairies have long been a part of the history and traditions of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Songs and music have long been the method for passing on the history and traditions.
In this collection of faerie songs we find some lighthearted imagery of fairies as we knew them when growing up as children. However the majority of the songs seem to depict some real and dangerous beings capable of deadly deeds, most commonly abductions of children and adults and sometimes even animals.
Author William Sharp (1855-1905) suggested that "the best thing to do - was to avoid the fairies. Meeting them even in innocent encounters was dangerous; doing them injury or insult was bound to be dangerous or deadly." The fairies of times past were a far cry from the sugary little tinsel-winged sprites we think of today; glittering wand in hand, often dressed in remarkably modern human garb, sitting in pretty flowers and amid fluffy bunny rabbits. Fairies as perceived by William Sharp, and his peers of that era, William Butler Yeats, George Russel, Reverend Robert Kirk, were powerful, dangerous, elusive and undoubtedly real.
An old saying in Scotland and Ireland, "Angels are just a fairy tale" suggests some of the Fae Folk may be of other worldly origins come down to earth a long time ago. Be that as it may there is another dimension out there, that of the Fae Folk. To find out more of these beings may I suggest reading such books as The Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, The Secret Lives of Elves & Fairies and The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns & Fairies both by the Rev. Robert Kirk.
The border region around Selkirk Scotland is home to a number of well known fairy tales, three of which are in this collection of songs: The Wee Wee Man, Tam Lin and True Thomas. Carterhaugh, the woods where Tam Lin lives is a genuine location, a wooded area where the Ettrick and Yarrow rivers meet. The area was once home to Sir Walter Scott where his works are still much loved. His "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border" contains local songs and tales of the area, including a version of Tam Lin.
Today if you are planning a trip to Scotland or Ireland or anywhere in Britain, for that matter, you might pick up tour guides and books that tell you about the history and culture of the area you want to visit. They’ll most likely tell you tales of ghosts and fairies, haunted castles, clan battles, caves and cliffs and fairy relics such as the Faerie Flag of the MacLeods of the Isle of Skye. A lady from the highlands was recently asked if they still believe in such things and she replied, "If you ask most of the local people that same question they will tell you no." She then added, "but they would be lying to you."