In the beautiful Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland, stands the Castle Dunvegan. The 12th century castle is the home of the MacLeods, an ancient Scottish clan. If you ever happen to visit, do ask them to show you their fairy flag which is there on display even today. If you believe fairies belong to, well, fairy tales, listen to this one, it’s for real….
Long, long ago a young chief of the famed Scottish clan, MacLeods, met a beautiful fairy princess and fell in love. Now Scottish isles are full of scenic glens and dales, ideal fairy territory and it’s not uncommon for a young man riding though the highlands to chance upon fairy folk if he looks around closely enough.
The young chief was a handsome lad and the fairy princess was equally smitten. She went to her father, the King of the Fairies, and told him that she wished to marry the young man she found in the forest.
“No! You can’t marry a human, my dear,” he said shaking his head,” We’re the Shining Folk, and you are a bean sidhe (a fairy princess), don’t forget!”
“But father, I love him!” she cried, her beautiful violet eyes shining with tears that looked like morning dew, “I will marry only him and none other!”
The Fairy King sighed and looked heavenwards. “Don’t you see? All humans will grow old and die one day. As for us, we are going to be there forever. You don’t want more heartbreak, do you? Think of that, how would it be, he growing old and dying one day and you living forever, mourning him?”
The fairy princess cried and cried. She refused to sleep or eat. Like all fathers who love their daughters, the fairy king’s heart melted. He couldn’t bear to see his beloved child this way. So he called her and said, “Okay, you win, for now at least. I will agree to a period of hand fasting but at the end of it, you must return to our fairy realm.”
Now hand fasting was a peculiar custom of those times in the Scottish Highlands, where for the duration of a year and a day, a man and woman could enter into marriage.
“But remember when you return you shall bring nothing human with you!” the King said. “Agreed!” said the princess smiling happily now as she hugged her father.
Very soon, the fairy princess had a grand ceremony where she married the MacLeod chief. Together, they returned to Dunvegan, the MacLeod castle as man and wife. A happy year passed by quickly, as good times usually do, and a beautiful baby boy was born to them. A year passed and then a day. The fairy princess knew her time was up.
Tearfully she hugged her husband and her baby close. “It’s time now. And go I must!” said she.
“You can’t leave me alone!” cried her husband who loved his wife so dearly. “Isn’t there some way you can…”
“No,’’ she replied through her tears, “besides, it’s I who will be henceforth alone, for our child shall stay with you! Do not ever let him shed a tear.”
Accompanied by her husband and baby son, the princess made her way to the fairy bridge where her father and their fairy clan was waiting for her.
Bidding her final goodbye to her new family, the fairy princess returned with the clan as promised.
To be continued……