Fairy funerals

Usually the fairy folk are considered to be immortal, at least until the return of the Christ, yet occasionally there are to be found accounts of fairy funerals.

Allan Cunningham in his Lives of Eminent British Painters records that William Blake claimed to have seen a fairy funeral. ‘Did you ever see a fairy’s funeral, madam? said Blake to a lady who happened to sit next to him. ‘Never, Sir!’ said the lady. ‘I have,’ said Blake, ‘but not before last night.’ And he went on to tell how, in his garden, he had seen ‘a procession of creatures of the size and colour of green and grey grasshoppers, bearing a body laid out on a rose-leaf, which they buried with songs, and then disappeared’. They are believed to be an omen of death.

Here and there in England, Wales, and Scotland are other accounts, but in Ireland the fairies are generally believed to be undying.

In the tales of the Tuatha de Danann, it is related that Goibniu the Smith made an ale which when drunk provided the drinker with eternal youth and freedom from disease. This provided daoine sidhe with the ability to live on in happiness beneath the hillocks of Ireland.