Fear of Fairies Not Preventing Destruction of Ringforts Anymore
Tuesday 1st, June 2021
For centuries not a single person in Ireland would even think of getting near to, let alone remove a ringfort with the belief that to do so would bestow misfortune.

Fairy Forts also known as ring forts were believed in Ireland to be supernatural, and the stories followed the lines that a curse or retribution would be enacted upon anyone that damaged, disturbed or destroyed a ringfort.

About half of the estimated 60,000 forts have disappeared. The last survey, carried out by the Heritage Council in 2001, showed the trend accelerated in the final decades of the last century, especially since Ireland joined the now EU in the early 1970s.

The advent of EU-backed intensive farming has changed the face of the landscape and structures which stood there, for thousands of years in some cases, have been bulldozed away. The building of motorways has also meant the loss of forts and other archaeological remains. In the book 'Men Who Eat Ringforts', Sinead Mercier says there is really zero protection for our archaeological sites. Following opposition to roadway building in the early 2000s, she says legislation was amended to allow virtually unlimited discretion to destroy monuments under the National Monuments Amendment Act 2004.

A prime example of the fear fairies have had in Ireland in the past was the case of the Newmarket-on-Fergus bypass in Latoon, Co. Clare. The story made international headlines in 1999 when the plans for the new motorway required the removal of the hedge. This news made its way to Eddie Lenihan, a renowned Irish storyteller who has a long history in story telling to fight for the preservation of the hedge.

Lenihan went on to write a letter which was published in the Irish Times and picked up by a New York Times correspondent, "It went what you would call 'viral'".

"That's when the fun started," he says. "People from the BBC, CNN, French and Swedish news channels and publications came over. By that stage, they couldn't demolish the bush."

Today the fairy bush still stands with most passerbys having no idea the impact the single hedge had on the motorway.
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