Back in 1991, when my daughter was eight and my son eleven, my family got to go to Ireland. Since it was my children’s first trip there, I wanted it to be special. I wanted to stay in special places. After much research(half the fun of travel for me), I stumbled across a castle in Ireland that had a B&B. Called Castle Matrix, it was about twenty miles south of Shannon, and had been renovated from a 15th century tower castle by a mad Renaissance man named Sean O’Driscoll. We were so lucky on that trip. Sean was still alive, and he spent our trip enchanting us with tales of his land, which had originally been a sacred site to the goddess Matres, and later the site where the first potato was planted in Ireland. He”d restored the castle to amazing condition, and collected not only an astounding library, but incredible artifacts(I held one of Napoleon’s death masks in my hand). We sat at his table in the old hall–with no electricity–until three in the morning talking about how one of the secrets to the true Holy Grail was hidden in the walls by the old Templars. Yes, that holy Grail. I heard the theory behind DaVinci Code years before the book hit.
Anyway, at the time of our first visit, Sean had a three year old son named Kieran my childen immediately named “the fairy child.” It was easy to see why. He was small, delicate, with flaming red hair, and ears that had just a bit of a tip to them. Most amazing, he had the oldest, wisest dark eyes that were just a bit slanted. It was as if he’d seen it all before and was vastly amused. My kids adored him. I adored him. In the years since, I’ve been able to visit my friend Liz, Kieran’s mother and Sean’s widow when I’ve been in Ireland(sadly, she can no longer manage a B&B, but if you’re near the Castle, see if you can get a tour). The second time I visited, after a lapse of about five years, I admitted to my friends and authors Karyn Witmer and Kimberly Cates, who went with me, that I couldn’t wait to see how Kieran had grown. And then we got there, and I swear to you on my mother’s grave, that he hadn’t. Not a bit. Oh, he was taller, but he looked not at all older, except for those amazing quiet, watching eyes of his. He’d developed a very sly sense of humor and a passion for basketball. But he was still the fairy child.
I’ve been since, to see him gain even more height, but otherwise stay the same fairy child. Liz spent all her time preserving the castle that was Sean’s gift and Kieran’s inheritance. It’s been viciously difficult. But Kieran was her life.
I went back to Ireland this May, after not seeing Liz or Kieran for about three years. As usual, I called beforehand. The phone was disconnected. I tried the email. No. Then I just googled the castle. And that was when I found out that my fairy child, that fey, wise, charming child of Ireland had died the year before of ravaging leukemia. He was eighteen. I was distraught. I called my friends and my children who had known him, and they couldn’t believe it either.
Actually, I could. I believe in reincarnation, because as a nurse I’ve seen that the children who don’t remain with us all, to a child, have the oldest, wisest eyes I’ve ever seen. I truly believe that they’ve learned the lessons we were sent here for, and are simply finished with their journey. We weren’t meant to have Kieran long. But I’m still grieving that bright spirit. So I asked Liz’s permission, and then I inserted Kieran into the Daughters of Myth series. This way, Kieran has just returned to the land of faery, from which I knew he’d come to brighten all our lives. And I think, when I think of him, of the brilliant WB Yeats poem The Stolen Child
Come away, o human child,
To the water and the wild,
With a faery hand in hand,
for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
eileenkathleen, the evil twins
7 thoughts on “The Fairy Child”
Thanks so much for sharing this story about Kieran. It almost brought me to tears reading about how he touched your life. I’m so glad that he’s in the Daughters of Myth series. I look forward to seeing him again in the next two books.
BTW, I also wanted to say a BIG Thank You for finally giving Zeke his story. What an awesome journey he had! I’ve followed the Kendall’s from the very beginning. I love the series and even though it’s taken years, I’m a bit sad to know that it’s over. I’m so glad they’ve all got their HEA though. My copies of Jake and Lee’s books are almost worn out because I’ve reread them about a million times! 🙂
I look forward to the continuation of the Daughters of Myth series and I’m excited about any future books that you’ve got planned as Kathleen Korbel!
Wow, finally stumbled across your webpage Eileen, with apologies for my oh so dodgy memory or is it trips to other space/time continuums with little left for regular living here and now!? Thank you for your wonderful memories of Kieran, who still is part of my daily consciousness sometimes in the oddest of ways. Saw him one day years ago as a small green man in the long grass near the gateway looking towards the castle but very still, like a hologram perhaps until finally I had to look away, knowing he wouldn't be there afterwards. Went back into the castle only to find that he or his image had protected me from the fall of all the rubble from what had been a sealed fireplace on the second level underneath the fireplace canopy in the banquet hall. It had come out with such force it had gone halfway across the floor, bricks, stones and all, where I had been working just a few minutes before going outside.
My laptops and phone all appear to have been hacked at times, but still hope to hear from you. Love to all of you, Liz
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I was privileged to meet Sean, Liz and Kieran in 1985, when he was a tiny boy. A new acquaintance, Aengus O'Carroll, who was (and still may be) the proprietor of the John Foster printshop in Bunratty Folk Village, was a protegé of Sean's, from Wicklow. When I wandered into the shop (and bought many, many hand-colo(u)red prints which currently adorn my walls, Aengus wrote me out an introduction to Sean. It was hard to reach Castle Matrix, but I managed and it was a magical visit. I left a manuscript for Sean to read and now wish I still had it, even though now my writing is mostly poetry. It was eerie to discover that I had put into the MS ideas which must have simply been imbedded deeply in my Irish roots! I understand Liz is now gone, also. What a pity to lose such interesting people!
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I was just reading aloud to my mother the journal that she kept during our visit to Ireland in 1986. I came across the entry from July 22 that tells of our adventure with Sean and Liz at Castle Matrix. We actually held the sheep while they sheered them – a pretty great way for two city girls to spend an afternoon in Ireland. Afterwards Sean took us on a tour of the castle and spoke of its wonderfully complex history – the birthplace of the Methodist religion??
We climbed to the top of the roof and looked out over the countryside with awe, marveled at the spiral staircases – curved so as to offer protection from intruders – and felt as though we had lived there hundreds of years ago.
I’m sorry that we didn’t get to meet The Fairy Child, who was then not yet a twinkle in his father’s eye, but am so grateful for the lasting memories and the taste of Ireland that the O’Driscolls gave to us.