The Way the Fairies Went

The Way the Fairies Went

To the right of the Catholic Church you will find a collection of stone structures known as “The Way the Fairies Went”, also referred to as “The Pyramids”.   Kerry sculptor James Scanlon created this work with local stoneworkers to celebrate Sneem winning the National Tidy Towns Competition in 1987.

Financed by the Arts Council of Ireland, the project was completed in 1989-1990,  Scanlon’s work of environmental sculpture sits comfortably in the landscape.  Scanlon was inspired by  taking long walks through the area, the hills, rivers, bogs, rocks and a visit to the nearby Staigue Fort.   He also got inspiration from the Gaelic place names and folklore.   On the far side of Sneem river are Doirin an Mhuirigh, the wood of the Mariner, Lios an Rí, the fort of the king and Lios na Sioga, the fairy fort.

As a boy on the family farm in North Kerry, he recalled the siodh ghaoth, the fairy wind, which suddenly arises and knocks off the tops of haycocks and vanishes again.  Out of this memory came his idea of a spirit emanating from the fairy land on the far side of the river, creating these fantastical shapes of stone by magic, and hastily returning home again.

The pathways were designed to admit nothing larger than a fairy or a child.  “The Way the Fairies Went” won the National Landscape Award n the 1997 Tidy Towns Competition.