There has always been a strong association in the Glens of Antrim between the hawthorn tree and fairies. Small, gnarled hawthorns, often of great age, survive on slopes and in fields where other obstructions to the plough have long since been removed. Stories abound of the misfortunes that have befallen those foolish enough to cut down a 'skeoch' as they are known. Some of the misfortunate have been 'struck dumb' or even had their head turned back-to-front.
Twigs of hazel are flavored by water diviners and noted for providing protection against mischievous fairies. Alder, on the other hand, is feared for harboring water spirits and the ash is said to be the first tree that lightning will strike, and should be avoided during a storm.
The survival of beliefs and traditions within the Glens continues to enrich the cultural heritage of the area, and, although not everyone will admit to believing in fairies, few would dare to cut down a hawthorn tree.
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