Irish Grandfather

When I was a baby, my paternal grandfather looked at me and said, “She’s been here before. A changeling child.” That’s what you get with an Irish grandfather, I guess. I never knew the man. He died when I was five. But my memories of him are all a little odd. At one point, after my family had flown from Denver to Billings on a DC 3 (my dad and I air-sick the whole way) my grandfather took my little brother (aged 3?) and me (age 5?) to Hart Albins (department store) to buy clothes. Story tells it that I led my grandparents RIGHT to the white, frothy dress I wanted, and I’d never been there before. The changeling thing came out again. “How did she know where it was?”

My life is full of strange things like that, including living here and not somewhere else. Of writing the story of my family before I even knew they were my family. Twillight Zone stuff all over the place, inexplicable except by my Irish grandfather whom I never knew. Still, I walk around with his sticking-out ears, his droopy left eye and the small divot in the chin.

A changeling is not a good thing. They’re not fully human — being fairy folk — and are always dangerous to humans. The often appear when a fairy steals a human child and replaces it with a fairy — a changeling. OH well…


The Stolen Child

W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

11 thoughts on “Irish Grandfather

  1. I had my Irish grandfather, Kennedy, and lots of stuff with him too. Just read the original‘outlander’ and found out about changelings!

    • I had a great friend whose last name was Kennedy and he looked eerily like my bro. We joked about getting married (he was gay) so we could hyphenate our names (a 70s thing). I told my grandma and she said, “Don’t marry a Kennedy. If you think you’re about to, talk to me first.” I wish I knew the back story. 😀

  2. I’d love to fly on a DC-3. It is a classic, literally the plane that made global commercial passenger aviation a “thing.” One of the safest airliners ever built. I’d take lots of Dramamine first, though.

    • They don’t fly very high and that flight was all along the front range of the Rockies so much turbulence. We used more than one air-sickness bags. A LOT of people got sick on the flight. Still, it was really really cool to get to Billings in 1 1/2 hour instead of 12.

  3. I feel like I get a literature lesson here every day, Martha. That Yeats poem was quite enchanting and sad. Your grandfather must have known a thing or two about changelings. Some children look like they are ready for the university of life from the moment they are born.

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