Monday, 5 January 2015


A gathering of the European Rainbow Family took place at Ballyhupahaun in the Slieve Bloom mountains. Approximately two thousand people from all around the world attended and although the core group was possibly only half that number, during their three week stay their was a continuos stream of people arriving and leaving on a daily basis.

I first heard of the event when I was on my annual visit to my mother who was living in Glastonbury, Somerset in early July 1993. 
I was in the town when I bumped into an old friend who was waiting at a bus stop and just as her bus arrived she said “I’m going to Ireland soon to a Rainbow Camp” and before I could ask whereabouts, she was gone.

Early the next day I too was on my way back to Ireland via Pembroke in Wales, to catch the ferry to Rosslare followed by a two and half hour drive to my then bachelor home.  A few days later I was having a cup of tea and a chat with my turf supplier, when his wife told me about the Rainbow people who were camping up in the mountains. I waited for a couple of days before making a visit to the camp and the very first person I met was my friend from Glastonbury!

Photo © Senator John Whelan 1993
European Rainbow Family Gathering at Ballyhupahaun, Slieve Blooms 1993
Further information in regard to the Rainbow Gathering can be read at

After that I was a frequent visitor and towards the end of the gathering she asked if she, her daughter and other friends could come and stay with me for a few days. I happily agreed and also offered to take them to Cork to catch the Swansea ferry if they supplied the petrol. 

So we eventually set off to take a slow meandering route to Cork, via counties Offaly, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry. Our destination in Kerry was of course Dingle and a visit to see Fungi the dolphin. Once there I parked on the quay side and waited whilst they took the boat to see the popular marine mammal. 
Afterwards we drove around Dingle bay looking for a secluded spot to pitch two small tents. We found a small grassy promontory on the bank of a creek which seemed to be last resting place for old trawlers.

Dingle Bay and Harbour (see inset below)

A creek of Dingle bay.
We camped very close to the two smaller boats
Both maps: source Apple Maps

Myself and another man took one tent whilst the three women had the other with sufficient room between the two tents for a small cooking fire. Behind us was a rusting boundary fence belonging to the overgrown garden of a derelict cottage and front of us a wide creek. 

Sleep came easily for we had had a busy day. 
During the night I was awoken by a noise that could best be described as the sound of children playing in the school yard. It was coming from behind our tent and getting progressively closer. I finally heard an authoritative male voice say “Leave them alone! They are alright”.
I lay quietly in my sleeping bag wondering whether to awaken my companion but decided that it was pointless so started to drift back to sleep. Again I was disturbed by exactly the same noise of children playing and the male voice. Eventually I slept.

Next morning all five of us gathered by the fire where I began telling my companion what I had heard during the night.  At the same time Ms S started to relate to her companions exactly the same account. She too had heard the children playing and the male voice!

Later I looked in the over-grown garden to see if it had been disturbed at all. No grass had been flattened, no footprints were visible, there were no signs of a human presence having been there.
To this day I have no idea of the source of the nocturnal noises. 

Dingle Faeries perhaps ?

Has anyone an explanation or had a similar experience in Dingle or elsewhere ?


  1. How fascinating...Dingle faeries perhaps, could be right enough.
    margaret x

    1. Thank you Margaret the experience is glued into my memory.

  2. Hello Heron: I have always wanted to attend a Rainbow Gathering - how wonderful that you were able to! One of my dearest friends, sadly deceased, used to go all the time - she started going very early on (they started here in the 70s, I believe)
    Dingle fairies? Umm, that phrase is in the Urban Dictionary but somehow I don't think that is the definition you're referring to. ;)

    1. Thank you Carol for your comment and education regarding US version of the Dingle Fairy :)

    2. extra to above: The Rainbow Gatherings always held an attraction for me, it was the drumming that I greatly admired, as well as their philosophy of life. The worlds politicians could learn a lot from them.

    3. Sorry about that, Heron - I wasn't sure if Dingle had its own mythical fairies, so that's why I searched the phrase.

      I completely agree with you - and again, hope I can attend one at some point in my life.

    4. No bother Carol, their are lots of fairies all over Ireland.

      The one thing about the Rainbow Family is that it attracts people of all ages neither is it commercial, for all of it's needs are paid for from the Magic Hat.

  3. Do the Rainbow Gatherings still happen? Fascinating story about your experience. Did you ever do any research to see if others had had a similar experience or anything that might have explained it? Xxx

    1. Yes they do still happen Fran regardless of the HSE'ees mental nutters cluttering countries with rules and regs. Just walk your fingers on the browser
      or take a look at
      No didn't bother to research it because in rural areas the little people live on.
      If you were to walk away from the modern electrical and electronic gadgets and live as the old folks did you would experience all that nature has - I think.

    2. You are so right Heron! There is so much that people don't hear, see or feel in cluttered material lives. I have never been to Dingle, but I think that it would be the same the world over in the quiet places. The voices are there, all of nature is there.

    3. Hello Irene thank you very much for your precise understanding, am certain that your reasoning is correct.

  4. If not fairies, ghosts. Have you researched the past of the place?

    1. Dingle's history goes back six thousand years to the Mesolithic period and a lot of people have lived there in that time Joanne.


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