When the sun sets on Midsummer’s Eve it is Midsummer’s Night, when all the supernatural beings and forces are said to wander about. In many parts of Europe bonfires are kept to keep malevolent spirits away, and this tradition is still maintained in some parts of Ireland where the bonfires are temporarily exempt from the normal regulations. Midsummer’s Night, rather than Halloween, was referenced in Dublin author Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. However, thanks to Shakespeare, Midsummer’s Night is mostly associated in modern times with benevolent fairy folk. In Ireland fairy folk were mostly regarded as large, frightening beings, but pixies, brownies and leprechauns were an exception, being small nymphs associated with nature. When children in Wicklow are told there are fairies living at the bottom of their gardens they will often see them on summer’s nights in twilight, and if you don’t believe me, just look at this photo:
To catch a glimpse of these creatures on balmy nights is to momentarily have disbelief suspended, and to feel that sense of magic which is normally lost to adults. These fairies of Wicklow gardens are a remarkable species of small moth with feathered wings like those imagined on angels. A detailed photo of the moth, which is known as the White Plume Moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla), in no way lessens its incredible appearance. It is a magical being, to say the least, and has a remarkable habit of disappearing into the undergrowth so that you doubt your own eyes.