West Pharmaceutical Services is building a new factory in Waterford, Ireland, with plans to employ more than 150 people upon completion in 2018, reports The Irish Times. However, the construction site is situated over an ancient ringfort (also known as a rath, or fairyfort) which dates back thousands of years.
Lore Keeper Sounds Alarm
Eddie Lenihan, famed Irish author, storyteller, and broadcaster, warns West Pharmaceutical that destruction or removal of the Knockhouse fairyfort would spell dire consequences and bad luck for all those involved in construction or clearing the ancient dwelling, according to the Irish Examiner.
Lenihan is one of only a few remaining practicing seanchaithe, or traditional storyteller and lore keeper. The seanchaithe, much like bards, memorize and preserve the oral traditions, history, and laws of the ancient Celtic culture. Lenihan has personally written to the American firm, and says,”I am no campaigner, I just like to see things respected. I said to them [West Pharmaceutical Services], in that letter, that if that factory is built, and I hope the factory is built on another location because Waterford needs the jobs, but if it is built there, wait and see what happens.
“It’s not a matter of if it will close but when it will close. People will think you are a crank if you say something like this and there will be much laughter.”
It is apparently no laughing matter to locals, who heeded the call to preserve the ancient fairyfort, and took no part in the construction. Workers needed to be brought in from outside Waterford to continue the job.
Ringforts, Home of the Fairy Folk
The Knockhouse fairyfort is of special archaeological interest because it is thought to date to 800 A.D., whereas most Irish ringforts date from the late Iron Age.
Ringforts were ancient circular settlements which were surrounded and enclosed by one or more earthen or stone banks and ditches. Sometimes wooden palisades would be erected on one of the high banks, serving as extra protection from wolves, foxes, boars, or human invaders. However, while these simple constructions are called forts, they were not military structures, but mainly agricultural settlements or farmsteads, and were not designed for warfare, notes website Irish Imbas.
As the ringforts fell out of use after centuries, locals did not know what the remaining ruins were originally for, and explained the strange, circular, built-up sites as the homes of fairies. It is believed that to disturb these sites is to provoke fairies. It is often said that leprechauns, notorious trickster fairies, keep their gold in the forts.
Developing Despite Warning
According to RTE News, “The Council has known about this ring fort for many years and the company is working with the local authority and the National Monuments Office to excavate the site. However, a local campaign group say not enough is being done and they do not want to see the ring fort concreted over after the archaeological dig is finished.”
The pharmaceutical firm issued a statement confirming the land was going to be developed, and the ringfort demolished, but any artifacts found would be recorded and preserved.
Lenihan says of destruction of the fairyfort, “It will be more than bad luck, there are stories after stories of it. I’d be the first to be skeptical, I’m not one of those people who believes everything they hear. I’ve been collecting folklore for 40 years and a lot of the stories are bunkum, but not all… You can have one coincidence or two coincidences … but after a while you realize that it can’t be a coincidence.”
In recent history, the bankruptcy of a billionaire has been blamed upon the disturbance of ancient dwellings. In 2011, Ireland’s richest man, developer Sean Quinn, suffered a catastrophic financial downfall after moving a megalithic burial tomb to make way for a quarry.
News site Irish Central lists incidents that occurred during work on the M3 motorway in 2007 and are described as evidence of malevolent curses and bad luck from disturbing ancient dwellings: “In June 2007, Minister for the Environment Dick Roche signed an order destroying the Lismullin Henge. Lismullin Henge was a 4,000-year-old astronomical observatory and place of worship and hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds of the century. Roche was since held up by an armed gang in the Druids Glen Hotel and also lost his job.
“Martin Cullen, then minister for transport, nearly got sucked out of a helicopter when the door fell off on one of his extravagantly expensive trips. The chief Health and Safety Officer was seriously injured by a falling tree when felling began at Rath Lugh in 2007.”
Since the pharmaceutical company is pushing forward with development despite Lenihan’s warnings, a group in Waterford is campaigning to have the fort preserved inside the main factory building as a tourist attraction. This is perhaps the only way to avoid destruction of the site, and prevent the perceived wrath of the fairy folk.
Republished with permission. Read the original at Ancient Origins.