The Claddagh Changeling

In this short film, our animators – Ada & James – take inspiration from folklore relating to the fairies and fairy changelings.

The first part of their story relates to an old custom when throwing out dirty water, water that had been used for cooking or washing. In order not to soak the “little people” or “good people” (i.e. the fairies) the person throwing out the water would give an advance warning, such as: Chugaibh, chugaibh, an t-uisce salach! Coinnigh as an mbealach! (Here comes the dirty water! Keep out of the way!). People especially avoided throwing out water after dark. The fear was that the water would dirty the fairies and make them angry – they are peculiarly fond of cleanliness and neatness – and that disaster would follow: a hen, a pig, a cow, even a child, might sicken and die.

The second part of the tale relates to the once widespread belief that fairies stole babies – usually baby boys – and replaced them with fairy babies, changelings.


  • ARSENBERG, Conrad M. (1988) The Irish Countryman: An Anthropological Study. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press (originally published in 1937).
  • BOURKE, Angela (2006) The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story. London: Pimlico.
  • EVANS-WENTZ, W.Y. (2002) The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications (originally published in 1911).
  • YEATS, W.B. (ed.)(1998) Fairy & Folk Tales of Ireland. New York, NY: Touchstone (originally published in 1888).

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