The  ISFNR Belief Narrative Network Online Lectures deal with folk beliefs of all kinds, and the narratives that are used to pass them on. The idea is that in the first week of each month, various international scholars present pre-recorded lectures on the subject of their choice which will later go on to be freely available on the ISFNR web site to anyone who wishes to make use of them as part of their research or in their teaching. The initial on-line showing is  nonetheless always followed by a half an hour live on-line zoom meeting in which those who attend will be able to ask the speaker questions. 

The lectures take place on the first Friday of each month at 17.00 Central European time, except during the summer months of July and August. 

Next lecture

Jenny Butler

Fairy Belief Narratives, Indigenous Knowledge and Connection to Place

December 02, 2022. at 5 p.m. CET

Speaker's Biography:

Dr Jenny Butler is a Lecturer in the Study of Religions Department at University College Cork and is the President of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR). Her research focuses on otherworld traditions, intangible cultural heritage, ritual, and the intersections of religion and folklore. She is currently conducting an ethnographic research project on “Fairy Lore and Landscapes”: http://fairyloreandlandscapes.com/


This presentation approaches fairy belief narratives as indigenous knowledge, as cultural memory, and meaningful connection to the land and sites upon and within it. On the Irish landscape, there exist so-called “fairy places”, especially “fairy trees” (hawthorn) and “fairy forts” (ringforts). The Irish mythology records the aos sí, the mythical “people of the mounds” who inhabit the “hollow hills”, living underground beneath their human neighbours. The term “fairy” came to be used during the colonisation of Ireland when the population was forced to speak English instead of Gaelic and when the placenames were anglicised, thus losing meanings found in the native language. This, alongside many processes of change and modernisation, led to a disconnection of people and place particularly with regard to general awareness of how the otherworldly realm is intertwined with the physical terrain in the traditional worldview. This presentation explores the present-day status of fairy lore and connection to these sites. Based in ethnographic research in Ireland, reference will also be made to comparative research findings in Iceland and in Newfoundland, Canada.