One of the most remarkable discoveries of our Celtic research has been that the native population of the Rosses Point country, or as we have called it, the Sidhe world, in most essentials, and, what is most important, by independent folk-testimony, substantiate, the opinions and statements of the educated Irish mystics to whom we have just referred as follows- In Upper Rosses Point, Mrs. J. Conway told me about the 'gentry':- 'John Conway, my husband. who was a pilot by profession, in watching for in-coming ships used to go up on the high hill among the Fairy Hills; and there he often saw the gentry going down the hill to the strand. One night in particular he recognised them as men and women of the gentry; and they were as big as any living people. It was late at night about forty years ago.'
When, first I introduced myself to Owen Conway, in his bachelor quarters, a cosy cottage, at Upper Rosses Point, he said that Mr. W.B.Yeats and other men famous in Irish literature had visited him to hear about the fairies, and that even though he knew very little about the fairies he nevertheless likes to talk about them. Then Owen began to tell me about a man's ghost which both he and Bran Reggan had seen at different times on the road to Sligo, then about a woman's ghost which he and other people had often seen near where we were, and then about the exorcising of a haunted house in Sligo some sixty years ago by Father McGowan, who as a result, died soon afterwards, apparently having been killed by the exorcised spirits.
Finally I heard from him the following anecdotes about the fairies:-
'Nothing is more certain than there are fairies. The old folks always thought them the fallen angels. At the back of this house the fairies had their pass. My neighbours started to build a cow-shed, and one wall abutted on the pass was thrown down twice, and nothing but the fairies ever did it. The third time the wall was built it stood.'
'Where MacEwan's house stands was a noted fairy place. Men building the house saw fairies on horses coming across the spot, and the stone walls did not stop them at all.'
'A cousin of mine, who was a pilot, once went to the watch-house up there on the Point, to take his brother's place; and he saw ladies coming towards him as he crossed the Greenlands. At first he thought they were coming from a dance, but there was no dance going on then, and if there had been, no human beings dressed like them and moving as they were could have come from any part of the globe, and in so great a party, at that hour of the night. Then when they passed him and he saw how beautiful they were, he knew them for the gentry women.'
John O'Conway, one of the most reliable citizens of Upper Rosses Point offers the following testimony concerning the gentry.
'In olden times the gentry were very numerous about forts and here on the Greenlands, but rarely seen. They appeared to be the same as any living men. When people died it was said the gentry took them, for they would afterwards appear among the gentry.
'We had a ploughman of good habits, who came in one day too late for his morning's work, and he in excuse very seriously said: 'May be if you had travelled all night as much as I have you would' t talk. I was away with the gentry, and save for a lady I couldn't have been back now. I saw a long hall full of many people. Some of them I knew and some I did not know. The lady saved me by telling me to eat no food there, however enticing it might be.'
'According to the firm belief of one of my own relatives a sister of his was taken by the fairies on her own wedding night, and she appeared to her mother afterwards as an apparition. She seemed to want to speak, but her mother, who was in bed at the time, was thoroughly frightened, and turned her face to the wall. The mother is convinced that she saw this apparition of her daughter, and my relative thinks she might have saved her.
'This same relative who gives it as his opinion that his sister was taken by the fairies, at a different time saw the apparition of another relative of mine who also, according to similar belief, had been taken by the fairies when only five years old. The child-apparition appeared beside its living sister one day while the sister was going from the yard into the house, and it followed her in. it is said the child was taken because she was such a good girl.'