Fairy stories have been passed down from generation to generation. While some of them are unquestionably untrue, it is hard to imagine that they are all based on falsehoods. In this in-depth article, we will look at five famous fairy stories; mainly from the UK and Ireland, but we'll also include a strange story from America.

1 – Anne Jeffries (1645)

One of the most famous fairy stories in the history of Cornwall occurred during the 17th century. It involved a woman named Anne Jeffries who not only met fairies, she visited fairyland, and when she returned home, she possessed miraculous powers of healing!

Image of Anne Jeffries

"The little people continued to visit Anne, and it was from them that she gained her powers"

Anne came from a poor family and was known for her regular jaunts to the countryside. One day, Anne was in the wild countryside singing little rhymes, and the hidden fairies seemingly took a liking to her. A few days later, when she was sitting in the study of the person she worked for, six little men clad in green appeared and brought her to a completely different world filled with lush gardens and palaces made of gold and silver.

She awoke lying in the grass near the arbour in the garden with her anxious friends looking at her. The little people continued to visit Anne, and it was from them that she gained her incredible healing powers. Anne was imprisoned by the authorities the following year (perhaps what she was doing was illegal) but was eventually released. She got married but refused to speak about her fairy encounters ever again.

2 – Neil Colton (1853?)

Walter Evans-Wentz was a famous American anthropologist who spent part of the early 20th century collecting fairy stories in Ireland. He spoke to a 73-year old man named Neil Colton who swore that he had an encounter with little people in County Donegal in the middle of the century. The exact date is unclear, but it has been suggested that the following happened in 1853.

Neil was gathering bilberries (similar to blueberries) with his brother and his cousin at the back of his family home when all three children heard music playing close by. They were astonished to discover that it was the music of 6-8 small people who were dancing in a circle no more than a few dozen yards away.

Neil Colton Witnessed Fairies Dancing

Neil Colton swears he witnessed 6-8 fairies dancing in a circle, before one in red approached.

According to Neil: “When they say us, a little woman dressed all in red came running out from them towards us, and she struck my cousin in the face with what seemed to be a green rush". The frightened children ran into the house, but Neil’s young cousin died almost as soon as they got inside.

Neil’s father called for Father Ryan who arrived at the house, said some prayers and then hit the cousin with a stole. Incredibly, the cousin came back to life. Who knows what really happened on that day but one thing is for sure, something astounding and inexplicable occurred. Before the fairy struck her, she grabbed Neil’s brother. According to Father Ryan, this prevented her from being taken by the fairies forever.

3 – The Latham Brothers (1913)

Just to prove that fairy stories are not just confined to the United Kingdom and Ireland, we have a bizarre tale to tell that involves three brothers, a tiny man, and two bloodthirsty dogs. When you read it, you may think it is the tale of a UFO but can some of these stories be explained away by the existence of fairies, or is there another reason for these odd occurrences?

In May 1913, the three Latham brothers, Clyde, Sid, and Silbie were chopping cotton on a farm near Farmersville, Texas. They were alerted to an unusual presence by the incessant barking of their two dogs, and when they went to investigate, the boys were stunned to see a tiny green man no more than 18 inches tall. According to the boys, the man was wearing a green rubber suit as opposed to having green skin.

Before he had time to flee, the man was set upon by the two dogs who ripped him to shreds. Amazingly, the victim had red blood and human-looking internal organs. The dogs refused to return to the spot where the remains lay for the rest of the day. The boys checked the body several times to make sure they didn't imagine things, but when they returned the next day, all traces of the strange man had vanished.

In 1978, Silbie’s grandson wrote to the Centre for UFO studies about the incident. Larry Sessions of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History interviewed Silbie and concluded that he was a remarkable man. However, Sessions believes that Silbie had an overactive imagination. Silbie angrily dismissed suggestions that his brothers played a trick on him or that he saw a very large frog.

4 – E. J. M. Reynolds (1948)

This is one of the few fairy stories where the person in question saw the creature on more than one occasion. While one sighting can be dismissed for a myriad of reasons, it is trickier to ignore separate signings. Reynolds was a boy when he was forced to evacuate from London to Horsham during World War II.

In 1948, he was in Horsham for the summer holidays when he encountered a tiny hairy man one moonlit night when setting rabbit traps. According to Reynolds: “I suddenly realized that a small hairy man had stepped out from the blackberry bush. He was no more than eighteen inches high and covered in hair.” Reynolds also pointed out that the man had a bare face with a ‘leathery look' and he possessed unusually long arms.

When he told the people he was staying with, they laughed in his face. A few days later, Reynolds was upstairs on a bus when he saw the hairy man again. It was in the middle of the day in a different location to the first sighting. The little man was casually strolling across a lawn. Needless to say, Reynolds didn’t draw attention to the second sighting.

5 – Brian Collins (Early 1990s)

Although this is the most recent of the fairy stories on the list, the date is unclear; but is believed to have been in the early 1990s. Brian Collins was 15-years old at the time and not only did he spot two fairies, but he also tried, and failed, to gain photographic evidence of his encounter.

Fairy Bridge

The famous Fairy Bridges of Donegal - where Brian Collins believes he spotted two fairies fishing.

Brian was on holiday in the Aran Islands off the coast of County Donegal. He was out walking one morning when he saw two men, no more than 3 ½ feet tall, fishing from a bank overlooking the water. They were laughing and speaking in Irish; perhaps they spotted Brian because as soon as he arrived, they jumped over the bank and vanished from view.

Brian couldn’t find them but did discover a pipe one of the men left behind. Bizarrely, it disappeared from the locked drawer he had kept it in. Brian saw the men again, so he recorded their conversation and took their photo. However, nothing came out on tape or on camera!

Final Words

There are thousands of recorded encounters with little people going back centuries. Surely all these fairy stories can’t be fake or the product of an overactive imagination? Stories range from the Wicklow Mountains all the way to Alaska. Even those who try to find logical explanations for every fairy story inevitably come up short on occasion.

Back to Fairy Stories