Showing posts with label fairies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fairies. Show all posts

Friday, March 1, 2019

Digital Storytelling: Taken by the Fairies with Mary Flynn

Left to right: Betty Moore, Mary Flynn, and Joanne Morrissey.
Digital storytelling is a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their own family and community history. Many people have stories about family members and local places that often go untold. Digital storytelling helps interpret and make community history accessible.

Watch below as Mary Flynn, originally from Shearstown and currently living in Otterbury, Newfoundland, tells the story of her first cousin, Molly, who was taken by the fairies as a child:

Or click here to watch the video on YouTube.

If this video elicits memories for you, or if you'd like to arrange a digital storytelling workshop for your community, contact Dale Jarvis at

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Conception Bay South fairy story, circa 1944, by Donald W. Smith.

A while back, Karen Smith, the owner of SeaGlass B&B in New Perlican, sent me a fairy story from her father, Donald W. Smith, of Manuels. What follows is his version of a fairy encounter or abduction from 1944. It features some of the classic NL fairylore motifs, such as missing or compressed time, and the use of bread as a protective charm.

Donald William Smith was born February 11, 1932. He married Phoebe Warren on April 28, 1953 and they had 6 children and over 65 wonderful years together. Unfortunately, Mr Smith had been in declining health for the past few months, and passed peacefully away on Sunday December 9, 2018. Our thoughts go out to the family. 

Here is Mr. Smith's story:

Conception Bay South, 1944 

Don Smith 12 years old, John Nickelson (Nick) age 50ish, and his dog 

We left Cherry Lane, Manuels to go fishing for trout at Thomas Pond on a Wednesday afternoon. Mom let me go because Ethel (John’s friend) didn’t like Nick to go in the woods fishing by himself. After two hours of walking about five miles we reached our fishing spot. It was starting to get dark so we decided to lay down for a rest and planned to get up at 5am to fish all day. When I woke up I realized the sun had already set and we had slept all night and the entire next day. The dog was still laid next to us and we felt rested but surprised that we lost the entire day. And thought it was too late to head home so we fished for a short while and ate supper. We lay down again and next thing we know another day has passed and it is evening again. Each time we woke the scene was exactly the same as the first. The dog never barked or wandered away during the night or day. On Friday we woke at dusk again. Nick was worried about getting home as they had a snack bar to run on Saturday and Ethel would be poisoned with him if he didn’t get back. So before things got out of hand Nick insisted that we try to find our way out of the woods in the dark. After 3 hours or more we finally made it home. I was expecting Mom to be mad and she was. I explained as best I could what had happened and she remarked that I must have been taken by the fairies. That was the last time I was allowed to go fishing for a long time after that. Although I still saw Nick from time to time, he never once mentioned our ordeal to me or anyone else. I’m not sure I believe in fairies but I have no explanation of how we lost time for 3 days and nights with no recollection. My father, Walter Smith, often cautioned us youngsters to wear a piece of clothing inside out or carries a piece of bread in our pockets while walking in the woods for fear of being taken by the fairies.

Donald W. Smith
Atkins Road, Manuels, CBS NL

You can read a 2016 CBC article on Karen's "zombie fairy" photoshoot here, inspired by some of the fairy stories she heard growing up.  Photo of Donald and Phoebe Smith courtesy Karen Smith via facebook. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Fairy Lore in Witless Bay

Pat Carew, 2014. Photo by Emma Tennier-Stuart.
In September 2014, as part of Memorial University’s Folklore Field School, Emma Tennier-Stuart interviewed Babe Walsh, Bride Finn, Pat Carew, and Bernadette Maddigan about ghosts and fairy lore in Witless Bay.

In these interviews personal and community ghost and fairy stories are told. This includes stories of people being taken by the fairies, hearing music in the woods, and beliefs about how to ward off the fairies such as keeping bread in your pocket. There are also stories of ghostly animals – talking black dogs and ghost cows. Bernadette describes the death tokens seen before the death of a loved family member or pet.

Click here to listen and learn more about ghost, fairy lore and token beliefs.
Bernadette Maddigan, 2014. Photo by Emma Tennier-Stuart.
~Terra Barrett

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Launch - Folk Belief and Legends of Bay Roberts and Area

The Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation invite you to the official public launch of our booklet:

“Folk Belief and Legends of Bay Roberts and Area”

Saturday, 3 May 2014
2:00 p.m.
Bay Roberts Pavilion, Bay Roberts, NL
Free Admission, Booklet cost: $5.00

Join us for the launching event of our booklet “Folk Belief of Bay Roberts and Area” to see just how rich your local stories are and learn a dozen different ways to cure a wart. The booklet is a collection of anecdotes that celebrates the oral history, folk beliefs, storytelling traditions, ghost stories, fairies stories, and folk remedies that have been passed down through the generations in Bay Roberts and surrounding communities. Much of the material presented was submitted by students in Kim Welsh’s grade 10 English class, and rounded out with oral history interviews with elders in the region. Come by to hear some tales, have a cup of tea, and purchase a copy to take home (just $5.00). 

You can preview the booklet in pdf format here.
Book illustration by Graham Blair.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Finding Folklore in Foxtrap

Today the ICH office visited Queen Elizabeth Regional High School in Foxtrap to talk about local folklore and supernatural belief. Dale and I visited with Lori-Ann Ash and Darrell Sneyd's grade ten English classes to discuss local superstitions, charms, ghost stories, fairy stories and urban legends. We also explored oral tradition, the transmission of folk belief and offered advice about collecting oral histories. To help the students out, we developed a one-page questionnaire for them to take home and use while interviewing parents, family members, friends, or neighbours.

During our visit the students told us some great stories of the supernatural. The following is an urban legend recalled by a female student:
In grade three or four the older girls at school would tease the younger girls about a monster in the toilet. The legend is that one stall, identified with a mark of red spray paint, has a creature living in the toilet and if you flush it, a green slimy hand reaches up, grabs you and pull you down. When I got to grade six, I realized this was made up but by that time we used it to scare the younger girls too, and kept it going. My younger sister goes to that school and that urban legend is still told today.

Another young woman, whose mother is from Denmark, told a Danish folktale about a man who was plaqued and tormented by the nisse, which are elves. The story the student told is as follows:
An old man was out in his garden, smoking his pipe and tending to his horses, when the nisse began to torment him. The nisse stole his pipe and used it to fill his home with smoke. The old man,thinking his house was on fire, called for help. Firemen arrived to put out the fire but they couldn't find any flames. When the old man suggested it was the nisse and that 'the fire was in his mind', the firemen promptly dowsed the man's head with a bucket of water.
We were also very excited to receive a little narrative regarding fairy belief in the area. According to one student, "in the elementary schoolyard there is a fence and we were told that if we went near the fence while wearing green, the fairies would take you away."

We are heading back to Queen Elizabeth Regional High School tomorrow afternoon to see what the students collected and to help them write up their folklore findings.

Here are the questions the students are using:

  1. Is there a place in your community that people say is haunted? ....a haunted cemetery, a haunted walkway, a haunted cliff or rock, a house, or other building? What are the ghostly stories connected to these places?
  2. When you were growing up, were there any places you were told not to go because the fairies would get you? Where was this and what are the stories you were told?
  3. What are the local stories about shipwrecks? ...buried treasures? What about ghost or weather lights seen on the water?
  4. Are there any people who are believed to be witches in the community? Why do people think this? What kind of powers does this person have? 
  5. Have you ever had a visit from the Old Hag while you were sleeping? What happened and do you believe that this experience was real or just a dream?
  6. Do you know of any special charms, superstitions, cures or remedies that are used in your community?

Teachers, librarians or museums: you can download a pdf of these questions right here.