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folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'

GUEST,elphin 24 Aug 07 - 05:33 AM
HouseCat 24 Aug 07 - 01:22 PM
MMario 24 Aug 07 - 01:51 PM
Darowyn 25 Aug 07 - 03:29 AM
Azizi 25 Aug 07 - 10:00 AM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Aug 07 - 10:38 PM
GUEST,elphin 26 Aug 07 - 04:07 PM
Azizi 26 Aug 07 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,trotter 26 May 08 - 10:32 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 08 - 02:35 AM
GUEST,Portia 27 May 08 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Jackie Boyce 16 Nov 12 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,Lighter 16 Nov 12 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Dragonsims 23 Jun 14 - 08:02 AM
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Subject: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,elphin
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 05:33 AM

Can anyone shed some light on 'Macananty' (or sometimes known as Macalinden)King of the Fairies in County Down, N Ireland?
I read a poem about him lately and have tried to find out more but sad to say 'NOTHING' has turned up. The poem was written in the 1800's so I thought there might be some folklore about him in local books, libraries (anywhere) but nothing! can anyone help?

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Subject: RE: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: HouseCat
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 01:22 PM

Don't ask me how I know this, but you might have some luck searching on They have alot of references to poetry and song.

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Subject: RE: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: MMario
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 01:51 PM

Found this out on ibiblio:

JOHN MACANANTY'S COURTSHIP. Irish, Air (3/4 time). D Major. Standard. One part. "Both the air and the words of this ballad appear to me to possess much simple beauty and feeling. I learned them from my father when I was a mere child, and I never heard the air with any one else. The ballad embodies one of the many forms of a superstition formerly very prevalent in Ireland, and not quite extinct even at the present day‑‑namely, a belief that the fairies often take away mortals to their palaces in the fairy forts, lisses, and pleasant green hills. Macananty or Macanantan was a fairy king who formerly enjoyed great celebrity in the north of Ireland, and whose fame extended also into the south. There is a hill called Scrabo in the county of Down, near Newtownards, on which is a great sepulchral carn. Under this hill and carn Macananty had his palace; and the place still retains much of its fairy reputation among the people of the district. Macananty himself is remembered in legend; and his name is quite familiar, especially among the people who inhabit the mountainous districts exztending from Dundalk to Newcastle in the county of Down. I find that here they call him in Irish Sheamus Macaneandan‑‑James Macanantan; buy both names, John and James, must have been added in recent times" (Joyce). Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 391, pgs. 198‑199.

JOHN MACANANTY'S WELCOME HOME. Irish, Air (4/4 time). G Major. Standard. AAB. "For John MacAnanty, the Fairy King of Scrabo, near Newtownards, see John MacAnanty's Courtship" (Joyce). Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 314, pg. 147.


T:John MacAnanty's Welcome Home




N:"Mod.: time well marked"

S:Joyce – Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909)

Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion


DGGA G2 GA|Bdef g2 fe|dBge dB AG|AG AB AB GE|DGGA G2 GA|

Bd ef g2 fe|dB gB Ac BA|GE GA G2:|

Bd|efgf ed Bd|edef g2 fe| dB ge dB AG|AG AB A2 Bd|efgf edBd|

edef g2 fe|dB gB Ac BA|GE GA G2||

'Sayings, Proverbs and Humour of Ulster' PRoffessor Byers, Belfast, 1904

"A poppular superstition previals in the Ards district of County Down that John MacAnanty, the Northern Fairy King, lived on Scrabo Hill and held his court in the interior of the cairn on it's summit."

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: Darowyn
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 03:29 AM

Where's Azizi when you need her?
Is not MacAnanty very close indeed to Mac Anansi?
For the King of the Faeries to be the son of the Trickster God , known in West Africa as "Anansi the Spider" is very plausible, and for the more romantic would allow the creation of all sorts of Atlantean links (or more conventional ones) between West African and Celtiberian mythology.

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 10:00 AM

Hat tip to Darowyn for alerting me by pm to this thread.


The possibility of any connection between "Macananty 'King of the Fairies'" and the trickster character "Anansi" is intriguing. There's no doubt that the ananty portion of the name "Macananty" {son of Ananty?} is very similar in spelling and pronunciation to the word "anansi" which literally means "spider" in the Twi language spoken by the Akan peoples of Ghana, Togo, and The Ivory Coast {West Africa}.

But similarly spelled words which may or may not be pronounced the same, and may even have similar meanings can have different etymological origins. If any connections exists between Macananty and Anansi, they would be difficult to prove. But that said, I'd like to share my thoughts about the meaning of Anansi, without directly addressing the question of whether the words or characters Anansi and Macananty are related.

** provides a brief, if somewhat convoluted overview of the character Anansi as found in folktales in Ghana, the Caribbean, and the USA. That wikipedia page also provides this list of variant forms for the Akan name Kweku Ananse [That name literally means "Spider born on Wednesday"]:

"Anancy (Jamaica, Grenada)
Aunt Nancy (In South Carolina, Aunt Nancy is sometimes used as folk name for the spider, because the term is the Americanized version of Anansi).
Compé Anansi
Kweku Anansi (Akan)

-snip- "Anansi The Spider Man: A West African Trickster In The West Indies"
by Christopher K. Starr; University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago; August 1999 provides a brief overview of the importance of the Anansi stories in the Caribbean. "In the folklore of the West Indies, Anansi enjoys a dominant position not paralleled by any other trickster figure. While most Americans have probably at least heard of Br'er Rabbit, and Till Eulenspiegel is similarly recognized in Germany and the Netherlands, each of these tricksters is merely one among a great many well-known folk figures in his respective country. Anansi, in contrast, is the West Indian folk hero. Folktales are often referred to as "Anansi stories", and a collection of folktales in which he did not figure very prominently would be unthinkable".

See this information about "trickster tales" from
"... a trickster figure such as the [African American toast] Signifying Monkey enjoys stirring up trouble for its own sake. All trickster figures, however, are rather wise too. Perhaps they know that laughing at trouble (and even creating trouble just to laugh) has a special kind of transformative power. Tricksters can level the playing field in a flash and make it possible for burdened and uptight people to suddenly feel lighthearted and playful. Tricksters show up in the folklore and creation myths of a number of cultures worldwide, including African, Haitian, Native American (or American Indian) and African American…

Trickster tales are a type of folktale in which animals are portrayed with the power of speech and the ability to behave like humans. The dominant characteristic of the trickster is his or her ingenuity, which enables the trickster to defeat bigger and stronger animals. A variant of the trickster tale is the escape story, in which the figure must extricate himself from a seemingly impossible situation. Closely linked to the rhetorical practice known as "signifying," trickster tales generally serve satirical or parodic purposes by poking fun at various types of human behavior. In African and African American trickster tales, the trickster figure is often a monkey, a hare, a spider, or a tortoise…"


However, there is much more to Anansi than entertaining/socializing trickster tales told to children. You will note that I'm taking great pains Not to call Anansi a god. I don't believe that the Akan referred to or considered Anansi a god, certainly not in the same way as the Akan Supreme diety Nyame is/was considered a God, or the important Akan river diety Tano is/was considered a god. Yet, on a number of levels, there are similarities on a deeper level in Akan culture between Anansi and the Nigeria {West Africa}Yoruba trickster god Eshu-Legba who is also found in the Caribbean and South America [not to mention among those African Americans who have beome members of the Yoruba religion of orisha-vodun. See this quote about the duality between the gospel and the blues:

"Eshu-Elegba, known as both a divine spirit and the Devil. Associated with change, Eshu-Elegba is portrayed as both holy and evil, and thus symbolizes the crossroads. Elegba, or "owner-of-the-power," also is a messenger, between men and gods, and among men. He is the African equivalent of Hermes. Moreover, as a messenger and deliverer of current news among men, he is the epitome of the West African griot, the Irish Bard, and the ultimate informer through art and spirituality. Eshu-Elegba continues to represent the dual nature and basic principles of African-influenced religion and culture, even today"...


Furthermore, the "spider's web" is a powerful spiritual symbol used throughout the world of the interrelatedness of all things, and other "heavy duty" concepts . See this excerpt from :

"The archetype of the spider has a long history in human consciousness. In Greek mythology, Arachne was a mortal weaver who challenged Minerva to a contest of weaving. Arachne's skill was marvelous, both in product and in the act of weaving. She carried the sin of hubris, and paid the price for it. A mortal cannot be as good as the gods, the myth goes, and she was going to be destroyed for her arrogance. However, since her skill nearly matched Minerva's, she was transformed into a spider. (Bullfinch's Mythology) Celtic legend tells of prisoners who take the lesson of patience and persistence from spiders, who rebuild their webs daily when they are torn down. Native American symbolism sees the spider archetype as the keeper of the past and its connection to the future. (Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews) "In India the spider is the weaver of the web of Maya, illusion. In her web she stands as the center of the world. In her spinning of the web and devouring her prey she parallels the waxing and waning of the Moon, involution and evolution, the alternation of birth and death. The spider, as the Moon, then weaves the destiny of everything in the world." ( The threads of the spider are part of every culture, interpreted in many ways. Spider is the symbol of Fate, the weaver of the past into the future, a teacher, a destroyer, even a trickster..."


There's a lot more that could be said about this subject including cultural similarities between the what the Celts, the Akans, and the Vedic people worshipped, and what they held to be sacred. For those interested this subject I recommend these online articles: Journal of Religion in Africa
"The Universe Has Three Souls" ; Notes on Translating Akan Culture
Philip F.W. Bartle

and The Celtic Vedic Connection: Part I.

Consider, for instance, the similarity between the fact that the [West African] Akan Supreme God, Onyame's name meaning "the shining one" and the Celtic term for the Gods is 'Deuos' and the Vedic term is 'Devas', both terms meaning "Shining Ones"...

I've included this last hyperlink because-as per the question about any possible connection between Anansi and MacAnanty, King of the Fairies, if {as that article purports} there are connections between Celtic and Vedic culture, and because as history proves there are connections between African {particularly ancient Abyssinian {Ethiopian/Nubian} cultures and Vedic cultures, then there are also connections between Celtic and Akan people. I believe that a=b=c because if my understanding is correct, the Akan people consider themselves to be Nilotic people {ie. their ancestors derived from the Nile Valley, specifically the Upper Nile and its tributaries, where most Sudanese Nilotic speaking people live." for definition of "Nilotic"

Therefore, there could be a connection between Akan mythology and Vedic mythology and Celtic mythology.

Note that I said "could" be. Definitely, your guess is just as good as mine.

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 10:38 PM

Don't forget that the 'Celtic' languages are just one branch of the Indo-European group; so any perceived connection would apply to almost every other European culture as well, on both linguistic and folkloric grounds; modern 'Celtic Separatist' fantasies notwithstanding.

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,elphin
Date: 26 Aug 07 - 04:07 PM

I am dumbfounded, I am interested in folklore. I never thought that anyone was as deep into it as Azazi. I used to live near to Newtownards and had never heard of him until lately and would love to know more. I will keep searching, thankyou for such interesting facts. If anyone else hears or comes across anymore information please post.
Thanks again

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Aug 07 - 05:44 PM

Thanks, Elphin, I think.


Like most other Mudcat members and guests, I'm interested in learning more about this and other subjects related to folklore.

Best wishes,


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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,trotter
Date: 26 May 08 - 10:32 AM

there's a folklore and fairy tour of scrabo hill on friday 20th June. Light hearted stuff, but it revolves around Shane McNanty etc

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 08 - 02:35 AM

19th century Ireland produced a proliferation of 'Oirish' literature and poetry claiming to be 'folklore', but which was in fact extremely patronising, and having nothing whatever to do with 'the folk' - to me, this sounds suspiciously like such a piece.
It spilled over into the 20th c. with many Hollywood production abounding with 'quaint' but somewhat 't'ick' Paddies, a prime example being 'Darby O'Gill and the Little People'.
There are plenty of examples of the genuine article; in 1991, Irish folklore journal Béaloideas devoted a whole edition to the subject entitled 'The Fairy Hill is on Fire'; well worth seeking out.
Jim Carroll

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,Portia
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:38 PM

There are a couple of songs and a story of MacAnanty in Jackie Boyce's book 'Songs of the County Down'. ( see Pages 52 - 55 and 263 -266 ).
I'm not sure from your posting if you still live in the area but as all the Libraries in Co.Down hold copies of this book you should have no trouble finding it.
Hope this helps.
Guest Portia

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,Jackie Boyce
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 08:55 AM

The person who gave me the story was Samuel Curry snr (now deceased) he was in his late eighties when he told me re remembers the 'master' in school reading from a book, stories of Macananty. The book then was very old but the whole book was on Macananty's life, love (as told in 'Songs of the County Down') and battles with other fairie folk.
I have searched for this book that the 'master' was reading from but alas to no avail!

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 10:25 AM

It's just possible that the book Jackie Boyce's informant remembered was "Ballads of Down," by George Francis Savage-Armstrong (London, 1901).

P. 93-97 contain a dialect poem called "Macananty: Fairy King of Scrabo Hill." It isn't nearly as elaborate as Samuel Curry described, but after so many years he may have mixed it up with something else.

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Subject: RE: folklore: Macananty 'King of the Fairies'
From: GUEST,Dragonsims
Date: 23 Jun 14 - 08:02 AM

"Macananty: Fairy King of Scrabo Hill,

If you know scrabo hill like I do, there may be a place for you to see, if you stand on the tide bank wall, facing scrabo tower on top of scrabo hill, you will see where two quarry's where a long time ago, one on the left and one on the right, the quarry's have a flash point where there was a section in the middle of the hill that was not touched.

at night when raining only, at 3.33am, if you take a walk from the path that links both quarry's at the newly made stairs on the path, and walk up the hill taking a 33 degree heading and persevering 3 quarters of the way up you will come to what looks like a tomb with a small seating area in-font of the door, to make sure you are at the right place you will see a large scribed heart on the roof of the tomb above your head. touch the scribing and ask for what you need to make other peoples life better, be careful with your thoughts though as you can not ask for what you need or you can not stage the event.

once you have done this stand up and look the way you came up then quickly turn around...... remember be careful guys as this is stuff we just don't understand yet. Good luck

theirs a place down the portaferry road called temple of the winds, built before the large house next to it called mount Stewart, the temple of the winds is 9 miles away from scrabo but this is in complete sight of the hill, as it looks over the Strangford Lough, its relation with the the tower is secret, but after many years living in the area i started to pick up on the clues, as other people must have known about the true power of scrabo hill and not just Macananty,

when on floor 2 of the temple of the winds there is a wooded floor that is cordoned of so you cant walk on it. the detail on the floor is of a star with multipliable points, use your Iphone to plot the points GPRS location only on the 3 points that face the hill, then leave and resort to a map of the area, draw straight lines from each point crossing through the hill, taking into account the earth's curvature, then simply walk each line up the hill, you will find some crazy stuff, and i mean crazy, to me I think there is a grave there of King Khan, very very old, with no paths to be prepare to get mucky. have no idea who King Khan is its not king Kong lol. king khan. but strangely there is a other route that has a other surprise on it, that is to powerful to be wrote and can only be said.

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