The Gaelic peasantry believed that certain otherworldly creatures kidnapped some of their new-born babies particularly those of good appearance and exchanged them with an old, emaciated, decrepit and ugly fairy creature who was known as a changeling. 


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The abducted children were not assumed dead but living in a timeless fairy place exiled from the mortal realm.  Sometimes a lactating woman was also abducted to suckle these kidnapped mortals and sometimes to suckle fairy babies.

Sometimes the changeling would procure a musical instrument such as a fiddle and play it wildly; forcing everyone in the house to dance against their will until exhaustion set in.  

The changeling was an unwelcome addition to any household and an attempt was always made at ejecting him, one method was to throw him across a fire, he would then vanish up the chimney cursing all those he'd left behind.

Original Drawing by John D. Batten colourised by Hilary Tully

Stories, Myths and Legends associated with Changelings

The Brewery of Eggshells

The Changeling



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