When we saw Pat Noon’s video doing the Facebook rounds a few years ago, his farm lodged in our minds as a place that we would like to go.
Pat is a traditional Irish farmer. He tells us that his way of farming is dying out.
Always on the hunt for the old traditions, his story drew us in.
For Pat speaks openly about the faeries. Not only that, but he has a faery field which he keeps just for them. In his YouTube video (see the bottom of this article) he speaks about his encounters with the faeries and it is a compelling watch.
So naturally, when we decided to visit Ireland this summer for a two-week holiday, Green Hills Farm was our first stop.
Here are some of my musings I wrote during our stay there.
Seeking out the old ways
We have been here for five days now.
Talking to Pat about the old ways his father passed onto him, and his grandfather passed onto his father is almost as exciting as visiting the faery field itself.
Pat left school at fourteen, but he is proof that you don’t need a long education to be educated. He knows a lot about a lot of things. Gathered by our tent below the setting sun and around his kitchen table at times during the days we have covered off everything from Brexit to the Great Famine, to the meaning of the mackerel patterns in the evening sky.
When we asked Pat what traditions he practices at Samhain, he told us how he lights two bonfires, one at either end of his field. One by the fertility stone which has worn smooth from all the rubbing of hopeful hands, and one by the standing stone. He and his children create lanterns out of turnips and light up the field. When the fires have cooled down, the next day they sprinkle the ash in front of the field gates for good luck. They then rest until just beyond the Winter Solstice when work begins again on the 10th of January.
How far away our modern-day culture is from these old ways, and yet the old ways are still practiced through unbroken lineage.
When we asked how in the old times, the people would last through the winter, he told how his father would dig pits lined with clay to store the potatoes, cabbage, turnips and carrots. Here they would keep for a whole year as fresh as the day they were picked.
When we asked how the people used to entertain themselves in the long winter nights, he said they could sleep for the whole night when the mind was calm. He shared how they would gather around each other’s houses and share stories. A house where the people gathered was called the rambling house.
Pat has his own well, his own bog for digging peat. He has pigs, cows, chickens, geese, sheep, horses and dogs. Just like the old times.
Meeting of minds
When people I don’t know ask me what I do, I find it a tricky moment. How do I explain? What do I say so that they can understand, as people need some kind of reference? So when Pat asked, I tentatively said have you heard of shamanism?
That was it, the barrier was broken. It turns out Pat calls himself an elemental healer and carries out regular one to one energy healings from his farm, as well as travelling to Galway once a month to give healings there too.
It is so refreshing to talk of these things and make them ordinary. Pat says few people speak so freely here in Ireland. Many farmers are likely to practice some kind of faery lore, but they do not speak of it. Pat has begun too, as the faeries have told him to.
They want to show the world how the land needs to be protected. I believe along with him that this is one of the most important things we can do in these troubled times.
Today in the Faery Field I met with one of Pat’s friends from County Sligo, who has come for an energy healing. Immediately, like a bullet out conversation went straight in deep, and it was so refreshing.
He told me he has been for a long time drawn to the ancient ways. He is not interested in a cult religion which is just a few hundred years old. He went on to say that the ancient ones knew stuff, and it is this that he is interested in, not Christianity.
A few things have happened to him recently which have caused him to question and he began to think he was cracked. But now he realises that he is the normal one and it is everyone else who is cracked!
How familiar are these words with our own musings? How refreshing to talk of this rather than the weather in a first encounter with a stranger?
I have had my first faery encounter here in this field. I didn’t expect it, and what I have learnt about seeing faeries is that you can’t see them when you come to look for them.
They appear only when you have dropped your guard, and when you are no longer looking. A fleeting glimpse in the edge of my vision. I have heard them whistle to me from across the meadow on the Banshee Stone and their footsteps coming from below the ground.
As Jason and I walked around the meadow when we first arrived, we were bowled over by its mystery. I reckon there are over ten exquisite things here, where just one of these would be worth a trip to Ireland to see.
After our exploration on that first day we rested on one of the burial mounds. Lying on the grass we felt the rain fall on our skin, only to be dried a few minutes later by the sun shining through a break in the clouds.
That is typical weather here in County Galway. Shower, upon shower, upon showers. As we lay there, we experienced our first mysterious encounter. We heard footsteps coming from underground.
All kinds of people have been drawn to visit Pats farm, including royalty. We are just two of the long list of pilgrims who have come to visit the faeries here over the past ten years.
Pat believes very strongly that the faeries want people to come. They want people to see the importance of preserving places such as these. The Earth needs our protection.
In the trees the ravens are nesting, their chatty croak pierces the silence. We have a pair of buzzards circling the thermals above, watching down on us and one has just flown by at eye level checking me out.
The dragonflies are one of the marvels of my day today. There are a pair of red ones which come and sit by me, rolling their eyes as though they are watching what I am doing. One came to listen to the poem I wrote on top of the chieftain’s burial mound earlier this afternoon.
We are just on the edge of W.B. Yates land and so we were inspired to read a few of his poems and then see what flowed from us. I have come to see if I can catch some faery inspiration.
I am hoping a dragonfly might pass by and gift me a wave of brilliance from the faery realm. I am hoping some Yates poetry recitals might call them over to me. You never know!
So, what is here in the faery field which makes my heart beat faster beyond what I have already mentioned? How about the floating horse chestnut tree which has no trunk? Or the place of peace where the white thorn and the blackthorn meet?
The wishing tree where the ash and hawthorn grow from the same trunk? Or the ash tree akin to the Magical Faraway Tree? Or the old tumbled down monastery which was left in the 17th Century? The banshee stone? The labyrinth of Celtic burial mounds? Shall I go on?
... and if we ever needed confirmation of the significance of this place, then it is the siting of the monastery. The Christian settlers came to where the energy was, just as we have been drawn here.What if you don’t believe in faeries? Well for the non-believers, that is simple. Just try and stay there in that field alone after sundown. See how long you last!
Our lineage is broken in England. The oral passing down of the old ways has all but gone. There may be isolated pockets still remaining, but we know of none. Yet here, just 20 km from the centre of Ireland it still exists, and Pat has a hunger to share.
We lapped up this rarest of nectars over the best part of a week and we wholeheartedly recommend that you make the trip out here before too long too.
Here is the link to Pat’s website Green Hills Farm. He and his wife Eveline run the farmhouse as a B&B and there is a field for camping with basic facilities. Green Hills farm is about a 2.5-hour drive from Dublin, traveling west.