"The King of the Fairies"

Irish Fairies
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Irish Fairies

Fairies are "Fallen angels who were not good enough to be saved, not bad enough to be lost." They are also "The gods of the earth" or "pagan Ireland."
They bring good to the good, and evil upon the evil. They're quickly offended, so never call them anything but the "gentry" or "doaine maithe" (the "Good People"), and if you leave a little milk for them overnight, or a scrap of fresh bread, they will do their best to keep misfortune away from you.
The Irish fairies divide themselves into two classes; the first are mainly kindly, and the second are full of uncharaitableness. These two groups, in turn, may be broken down into separate orders.
They have no inherent form, but change according to whim, or how the mind sees ]them. They are the creatures in your dreams, the visible world acting merely as their skin. They take what size and shape pleases them, and their chief occupation are feasting, fighting, making love, and playing the most beautiful love. The only industrious person among then is the Leprechaun (the "Shoe Maker").
Lady Wilde gives two kinds of fairies: 1. Merry and gently, and 2. Evil and sacrificing every year a life to Satan, for which they steal mortals. These fairies are counted among the Pookas, Fir Darrigs, and the like (not true fairies).

1. The Sociable Fairies

These fairies go in troops, quarreling and making love as men and women do. They are made up of land fairies, or Sheoques (Irish: Sidheog, "a little fairy"), and water fairies, or Merrows (Irish: Moruadh, "a sea maid"; masculine term is unknown). The term Sheoque may, upon occasion, be applied to both of them.

A. The Shoeque

Properly, they are the spirits that haunt the sacred thorn bushes and green raths. All over Ireland are little fields circled by ditches, which were to have been ancient fortifications for sheep folds. These fields are variously called raths, forts, or "royalties". Here the land fairies live, marrying and being given in marriage. It's said that have lured many a mortal down into their realm, and that many more have listened to their music until all human joys and cares drifted from their hearts, and they became great peasant seers, peasant musicians, "Fairy Doctors", or poets like Carolan, who gathered his tunes while sleeping on a fairy rath; or else they die within a year and a day, to live forever after among the fairies. These fairies are on the whole good, but have a mischievous habit of stealing children and leaving in their place a withered fairy of about a thousand or even two thousand years of age. Now and then there is a story of some real injury being done to a person by the land fairies, but it's almost always deserved as they bring and do good to the good and evil to the evil.

B. The Merrows

These water fairies are said to be common, but fishermen don't like to see them because they always bring bad weather. The men all have green teeth and hair, pigs eyes, and red noses, but their women are the most beautiful, for all their fish tails and the little duck-like scales between their fingers. There's no tales of the ale Marrows ever appearing, and may merely be just a local Muster tradition.
Sometimes they come from the sea, wondering the shore in the shape of little horn-less cows.

2. The Solitary Fairies

These fairies are almost all gloomy in some way. Some of them, however, have light hearts and brave attire.

A. The Leprechaun

(Irish: Leith bhrogan, "One Shoe Maker, also spelled leith brog, and leith phrogan, and is sometimes pronounced "Luchryamn")

This creature is seen sitting under a hedge continually mending a shoe, and anyone who catches him can make him deliver up his crocks of gold, buried during the war time, as he is a miser of great wealth; but if you take your eyes off of him, he vanishes like smoke. He's said to be a child of an evil spirit and a de-based fairy, and wears a red coat with seven buttons in each row, and a crocked-hat on who's point he sometimes spins like a top, and goes clad in a great frieze coat.

B. The Cluricaun

(Irish: Clobhain-cean)

This is also a creature of the Leprechaun type. given to him when he laid his shoemaking aide for the night and goes on a drinking spree. The rob wine-cellars and ride sheep and shepherds' dogs for all night, until morning finds them panting and mud-covered.

C. The Ganconer, or Gancanagh

(Irish: Gean-canough, "love-talker")

This is another creature of the Lepracaun type, but, unlike him, is a great idler. He appears in lonely valleys, a pipe always in his mouth, and spends all his time making love to shepherdesses and milk maids.

D. The Far Derrig

(Irish: Fear Dearg, "red man")

He wears a red cap and coat, and busies himself by being the practical joker of the other world. Of these solitary, and mainly evil fairies, there is no more lubberly wretch than his is; and, like the Pooka, he presides over evil dreams.

E. The Pooka

(Irish: Puca, derived from poc, "he-goat")

He seems to be one of the family of the nightmare, and has likely never to have appeared in human form, but being mixed up with the Far Darrig. He's usually found in the form of a horse, bull, goat, eagle, or an ass. He delights in getting a rider, whom he rushes through ditches and rivers, and over mountains with, and whom shakes off in the gray of the morning. He especially loved to plague drunkards, as the drunkard's sleep is his kingdom. At times he may take more unexpected forms than those of a beast or bird.

F. The Dullhan

He is the most gruesome thing. he either has no head, or is seen carrying it under his arm. He can also be seen driving a black coach, called coach-a-bower (Irish: Cotie-bodhar), drawn by headless horses. It's said that if it rambles up to your door and you open it, a basin of blood is thrown in your face. It's considered an omen of death to every house it passes, and in one village, it's rambling is said to be heard many times a year.

G. The Leanhaun Shee

(Irish: Leanhaun sidhe, "fairy mistress")

She seeks the love of men. If they refuse her, she becomes their slave; if they consent, they are hers, and can only escape by finding one to take their place. Her lovers waste away, as she lives on their life. Most Gaelic poets have had a Leanhaun Shee, as she inspires her slaves and is the Gaelic muse. All her lovers die young: She grows restless and carries them away to her realms, since death cannot destroy her power.

H. The Far Gorta ("man of hunger")

He is an emaciated fairy that travels through the land in times of famine, begging for alms and Bringing good luck to those that give.
I. The Banshee

(Irish: Bean-sidhe, "fairy woman")

Like the Far Gorta, she differs from the general run of solitary fairies by her general disposition. She, perhaps, isn't really one of Them at all, but is a sociable fairy grown solitary through so much sorry. Her name corresponds to the less common Farr Shee (Irish: Fear Shidhe), a male fairy. She wails over the death of a member of some old Irish family and is sometimes an enemy of the house and screams with triumph, but is more often a friend. If more than one Banshee comes to cry, the man/woman who is dying has either been very holy or very brave. Occasionally she is most undoubtedly one of the sociable fairies.
The Banshee is called badh, or bowa, in East Munster, and is called Bachuntha in one of Banim's novels.

J. Changelings

Sometimes the fairies fancy mortals, and carry them away into their own country, leaving behind instead some sickly fairy child, or a bewitched log that seems to be a mortal pinning away, dies, and is buried. Most commonly a child is stolen if it's looked on with envy by someone, as it is then in their power.
To test for a changeling, it was laid on a fire, and this was chanted over it: "Burn, burn, burn--if of the devil, burn; but if of God and the saints, be saved from harm" (Taken from Lady Wilde). If it's a changeling, it would rush up the chimney with a cry, as "fire is the greatest of enemies to every sort of phantom, in so much that those who have been apparitions fall into a swoon as soon as they are sensible of the brightness of fire" (from Giraldus Cambrensis).
Those carried away are to come accounts happy, having plenty of good living, music, and mirth. Others say they continually long for their earthly friends.

3. Other Fairies and Spirits

There are other solitary fairies of which too little is known to give them separate mentionings, They are House Spirits, the Water Sherie, a kind of "will-o-the-wisp" (and related to the English "Jack-O-Lantern"); the Sowlth, a formless, luminous creature; the Pasta (Irish: Piast-bestria), the lake dragon, and guardian of hidden treasure; and the Bo men fairies, who life in the marshes of County Down, and who destroy the unwary. They are suspected to be Scottish fairies, imported by Scotch settlers, and may be driven away by a blow from a particular kind of sea-weed. There is also the great tribe of ghosts called Thivishes in some parts.