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How to find the Old Fairy Bridge on the Isle of Man. It’s far from the new one on the A2 and is a beautiful old bridge that has a long tradition related to fairies, Catholicism, and offerings.
Though historical accounts of why and how the bridge was built might be lost, the Manx people haven’t forgotten that the real Fairy Bridge is not the one you see when you drive on the A5 from Douglas to Castletown. It’s the ruin of a fairy tale stone bridge set among trees a short walk from Kewaigue Hill. But why are there two Fairy Bridges? And how do you find the original one, nestled far from any main roads?
The story that I’ve heard goes that fewer and fewer people were visiting the original site, so a government official decided to create a more accessible one that would draw more tourists. It’s worked, and most of the Island will greet fairies when they drive past on the A5. A true Manxie will say it in Manx Gaelic: Moghrey mie Vooinjer Veggey (Good morning fairies), Fastyr mie Vooinjer Veggey (Good afternoon fairies), or Oie vie Vooinjer Veggey (Good night fairies). But are we greeting in vain? Are the fairies really there?
How to Find the Real Fairy Bridge
Many people know of the existence of the real Fairy Bridge but aren’t quite sure where it is. Fortunately, with the help of online references and local help, I found it. I’ll be honest, though – we walked right past it the first time. I set off with my friend Clare, and we both passed over the footbridge on the Middle River without thinking of looking around that area. There isn’t a sign telling you to head off on the narrow track that follows the water, so we kept going and eventually split up, trying to find it.
After trekking back on my own, I made out the silhouette of the bridge’s arch through the trees and finally found what we were looking for! It’s far more magical and beautiful than the new site, and I spent some time wandering around and enjoying listening to the sound of the water and autumn leaves rustling above. Not a soul came by while I was there, but I did have a peek at the offerings left by past visitors. Some were coins, but others were letters asking the fairies to grant a happy holiday season, good weather, and a boyfriend. I was surprised that there weren’t more but found this article describing how someone cleaned up the site earlier this year.
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The Old Fairy Bridge is near Kewaigue School
The location of the real Fairy Bridge is here, but can also be easily found walking up the hill from Kewaigue school. Walk from the school until you see a cottage on the left (south) side of the road. Alongside the cottage is a farm track clearly signed as a public footpath. Follow this track for about ten or fifteen minutes until you reach the Middle River. Instead of going over the river on the footbridge, take the narrow track on the right alongside the water. You’ll be able to see the Fairy Bridge through the trees.
On Leaving Offerings
Once you’ve made it, please be courteous to the bridge and surrounding area. Though it’s a fun idea to leave an offering for the fairies, avoid leaving that will become unwelcome rubbish after you leave. That includes anything made of paper, plastic, cloth, or stuffing. Personally, I wouldn’t leave anything other than something that wild animals might appreciate, such as wild bird seed. I’m sure if the fair folk could pass on a message, it would be to leave the site as you found it and to make your wish in your heart and mind.
History of the Real Fairy Bridge
It turns out that the history of the Old Fairy Bridge and leaving offerings there is more political than magical. The tradition of saying hello to the fairies actually stems from the time when Catholicism was made illegal on the island. The bridge used to sit at the boundary of church lands and took a toll on those passing over. When the church was ousted, the common people took to saying hello to the fairies and leaving offerings for them as a hidden way of supporting the Church. They did this because public support of Catholicism would have been criminal.