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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Kilmoon (b)

In the Townland of Lisdoonvarna, already mentioned, there is a remarkable round hill called Lios a tSiodhain (Liss-a-tee-aun), i.e., the Fort of the Shee-aun or Fairy Hill. I have seen hundreds of these shee-auns or fairy hills in Connaught. They are generally beautiful green round hillocks with the remains of a fort or Dumha on the summit, and always believed to be the haunts and palaces of the fairies. On the belief of the Irish regarding these shee-auns and their inhabitants, the Book of Lismore will throw a flood of light. It will appear from it that the shee or fairies were not believed to be demons or fallen angels, but the spirits of the Tuatha de Dananns and some of the Milesian tribes whom they induced to live along with them in those hills. It has puzzled the Irish linguists and lexicographers to explain the meaning of the word sidh (shee) which they find sometimes used to signify a hill and sometimes a fairy. O’Flaherty and Colgan thought that the word was originally applied to a hill and afterwards figureatively a fairy, because he inhabited the shee or hill.

The Irish called aerial spirits or phantoms sidhe, because they are seen to come out of pleasant hills, where the common people imagine they reside, which fictitious habitations are called by us Sidhe or Síodha. - Ogygia.

But the original meaning of the word seems to be spirit, breath, wind, like the Latin spiritus and the Greek 'pyevµa' which signify at one time, wind, breath, and another ghost or spirit. Sidh is still used in every part of Ireland to signify a blast of wind and a fairy. Mention is made of the shee in Tirechan’s annotations on the Life of St. Patrick in such a manner that one might imagine he understood the shee to be disembodied men.

Et quocumque essent aut quacumque forma, aut quacumque plebe, aut quacumque regione non cognoverunt; sed illos viros Side aut deorum terrenorum aut fantasiam estimaverunt.

 

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