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Iona: Details & pictures of the Isle of Iona

Must do things when you visit Iona . . .

Dance at the fairy mound

On the road leading west, just before the Machair is a little grassy knoll by the name of Sithean Mor (the big fairy mound) and across the road from it Sithean Beg (the little fairy mound).

Once upon a time, two fishermen were returning to the village after a hard day at sea. It was a wet and windy night and the men stooped forward as they fought there way through the storm. Leaving the Machair the men made their way past Sithean Beg just as they had done on many a night. but this night, as they were passing something strange happened. All of a sudden the rain stopped and the noise of the wind gave way to an eerie music. The men stopped and faced the little hillock. From nowhere a beautiful lady appeared - the fairy queen. but the two men did not realise that she was a fairy and the younger of the two, entranced by the fairies spell, followed her - leaving the real word behind and entering the fairy mound. Night after night the older man pleaded at the mound for the fairies to let his friend go - but his cries went unnoticed. But precisely one year after the event two fairies appeared in response to the old man's pleas. In exchange for the heavy load of fish he was carrying the fairies let his friend go free. Free from a life of dance, for it transpired that the young man had spent the entire year dancing to please the fairy queen.

There is only one way to avoid this fate when you pass the fairy mound - you must spin round three times as you sing, "O' fairy queen of Sithean Beg, I dance for you and all you kin. Let me pass by freely now, don't come out - I won't come in." 

Map of Iona showing location of the Fairy Mound

Map of Iona showing location of the Fairy Mound

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