8 Ballyfey Tales - Man of Stone

Chp 2 pt1
Man of Stone

The place-name ‘Ballyfey’ is derived from ‘bally’, the Irish baile meaning homestead or settlement and ‘fey’, the English word meaning otherworldliness, supernatural or having magical powers.

Ballyfey is not officially recognised by the authorities, which the inhabitants find is a blessing rather than a hindrance, so none of the usual official buildings are to be found there and the people are left to organise themselves. They do so in an orderly way, inherited and passed on by the former inhabitants and builders of the settlement.
Nothing much has changed here over the years because people are quite content to leave things as they have always been, though none would claim it to be Utopia.

Ballyfey nestles in the middle of a wide open valley amid rolling hills, bordered all around by a large oak forest, said by some to be the oldest in Ireland. The small community lives mainly in two rows of single storied cottages, set on either side of a very wide street. There are a few other residences within a hundred yards or so in any direction which, though set apart, are also part of Ballyfey.

The main settlement consists of homes and homes with businesses attached, The Craft Shoppe is a fine example, run by a flame headed, vibrant woman of indeterminate age whose name is Seersha. To some she was a bit scatty or eccentric even, yet she has a very friendly nature. The sign outside of her shop shows a pair of knitting needles crossed with a feather quill, surrounded by a border of stars.
Inside it is extremely well stocked, packed from floor to ceiling with all manner of items: knitting needles, wool of various colours, garment patterns for cloaks, gowns and robes, coloured inks, quill pens, paints and paint brushes, canvases, card and paper. The Craft Shoppe also specialised in an array of crystal balls of different sizes and colours from clear, through to white and the most popular black ones. Other shelves held untrained wands of various materials and last but not least, a whole host of cauldrons, flasks and bottles.

Next door stood The Bookshop, which sold books, almanacs, astrology and moon charts, maps and compasses.
A few doors down was a well stocked Apothecary’s shop from whom all manner of herbs, lotions, potions, salves, mortar and pestles, jars, jugs and measures of various sizes could be bought fromJean-Pierre.
On the opposite side of the road is a bakery, a grocery store with a pub attached, a butchers which sold fruit cake and a dairy offering butter, milk, cream and Ballyfey cheese.

Visitors from the outside world rarely strayed into Ballyfey and when they did all that they saw was a thick fog and a muddy road with a smelly, stagnant duck pond at the end. It did not take them long to find their way out. You may wonder how this was achieved? One answer maybe the magic which surrounds the place   but the correct one would be that it was due to the weather workers who live at either end of the settlement.

There were visitors though on a daily and almost nightly basis, for someone would arrive to either consult or simply talk to one of the notable residents. Living in Ballyfey was the Arch Grand Wizard plus several Arch Druids of various Orders, though not all, for some preferred to live elsewhere. The small settlement was also home to The Grand High Witches and High Priestesses of several Moon Orders as well as the notable Hedge-witches all of whom played their own part at the various celebrations.

There is a small stream that flows to the lake of The Night Goddess and goes very near to Ballyfey roughly in a west to east direction; on it’s banks are two cottages, one either side of the settlement. On the western side is Brambles Cafe which is popular with many of the visiting druids and on the eastern side a cottage with a curious doorway, that is shaped like a horseshoe. This is where the fine metals of bronze, gold and silver are crafted by two brothers Goban and Ciaran.

Their favourite pastime when not creating wonders, is fishing and as the river is so close it is very handy for them.

Ciaran said “Goban, now that we have completed our tasks for day, how’s about we go and do a spot of fishing ?”

“That’s a great idea Ciaran because I saw some trout jumping when I was on my morning walk by the shallows just where that stony place is ”

The two brothers picked up their fishing rods, walked down to the river and Goban was correct the trout were jumping. The only problem was that the fish were not taking the bait. After a while Goban and Ciaran decided to lie down on the bank to enjoy the sunshine.

Several minutes passed when Ciaran said “ Are you hearing what I am hearing Goban?”

To which his brother retorted “ As you haven’t told me what you are hearing I don’t know, do I ?”

“Well, it sounds to me as if the river is talking to us” said Ciaran.

Goban listened, then said “Yes, you are right Ciaran.
I am certain that I heard the name Sive mentioned once or twice and other words too but I was unable to hear them properly”

Ciaran said “I think we need to tell some one about this, what about the Big Wizard ? “

“No, I don’t think he would be the right person to approach. But I tell you what, how about if we go to Brambles for a coffee and speak with one of the Witches ? “ said Goban

“Now your talking!”.

Leaving their fishing rods on the grass they hurried along the river bank as far as the bridge, then stepped on to the road
and entered the front garden of Brambles to make their way into the cafe. Rosheen was at the counter and gave a big smile when the two men walked in saying, “Well look who is here, what can I do for you two today ?”

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