The Ways of Irish Ballybogs

As the stories go, the Irish Ballybogs are fascinating creatures who lived long ago in the Cornish and Welsh lands. Indeed, they lived in northern England and the Isle of Man as well.

The Irish Ballybogs are known by many interesting names, each with a clever little twist on their origination. The Cornish and Welsh have called them Peat Faeries, Mudbogs, and Bogles. The people in northern England and the Isle of Man have called them Boggies, Boggans, and Bog-a-boos. No matter what name they are called by, the Irish Ballybogs have been the guardians of the bogs.

A bog is the name given to a tract of land that is extremely wet and typically includes a wide area of open water. While the area of water is usually located in the center to the bog, the remaining area is wet, spongy, and marshy in appearance. Additionally, since the bog is often filled with the remains of decaying matter, mostly plantlike in substance, it is a rather unpleasant place to frequent.

Drainage in bogs is rather poor, which adds to the marshiness of the area. Nonetheless, numerous plants can be found growing in the bogs during the proper times of the year.

Long ago, the tales of the bogs regaled listeners with stories of human sacrifices to the fae (faeries) who resided within the marshy grounds. The purpose of the sacrifices was to appease the evil ones of the bog and provide protection to those offering the sacrifices. Indeed, some of the bogs located in northern England were found to contain the preserved remains of humans.

Although the Irish Ballybogs have been known to live in Wales, Cornouailles, England, and Ireland, there were greater numbers of them in Ireland. As one of their names (Peat Faeries) suggests, the Ballybogs are fond of peat, a substance of which Ireland had much.

Diminutive in size, these small creatures are strange looking with disproportioned bodies. Their heads seem to sit directly on the top of a round body without any neck at all. Plus, their spindly legs do not even look as though they could stand on their own, let alone hold up such a rotund shape. Their arms mirror the legs in appearance, turning the Ballybog into a frightful vision of weirdness. To top it all off, these wizened creatures appear to have been dipped in mud so much like a chocolate covered cherry, only in this case, a mud-covered Ballybog.

Repugnant in both appearance and sound, the Ballybogs are creatures that prefer to keep to themselves. Obviously, as guardians of the bogs, they live in the bog and prefer the mud holes that are so numerous in that type of location.

Whether due to their solitary existence or some quirk of nature, the Ballybogs cannot speak and only grunt in place of verbal language. This adds to the common belief that the Ballybog is one of the dumbest faeries. In fact, their grunting and slobbering behavior is reason enough to consider them somewhat less intelligent than humans and closer to the animal kingdom in that respect.

Since their main purpose in life is to protect the bogs, they cause relatively little mischief or damage. However, whether they have a mischievous streak or simply get bored, the Irish Ballybogs have been known to prey upon unsuspecting human travelers and lead them astray from the path. No real harm is ever done to these unwitting travelers other than a few hours of lost time and a bit of unexpected aggravation.

If you encounter the English Bogle on the other hand, you can expect more than your fair share of mischief. These tiny creatures, caked in mud and prone to nasty temperaments, look for trouble while causing it at the same time.

author: Susan M. Keenan

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