on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Superstitions and Folklore

Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon

Born in Dublin Ireland, Paul spent much of his early childhood years growing up in County Sligo, located in the North West of Ireland. Set in the shadow of a two thousand foot tall mountain known as Tievebaun. Paul's grandmother, Margaret, a mystical woman had a great influence over him. Today Paul lives with his wife Francesca and daughter Ana Claire in Greensboro North Carolina. In his 20 plus years living here he has carved out a reputation as a sculptor/ artist and photographer and much of his work is influenced by those early day experiences which capture the imagination of so many who have come to know his work.


As a young child, the superstitions and folklore I experienced staying at my grandparents in the mountains of County Sligo left a lasting impression on me. Living in a thatched cottage beneath a 2000 foot tall mountain with no electricity and running water set the scene for a magical setting, particularly when sitting around an evening turf fire listening to my grandmother’s stories of fairies and ghosts. All the time the oil lamps flicker straining for its golden light to reach into the darker recesses of the kitchen. The mountain range that dominated this region is steeped in ancient history and Mythology. I felt when I was breathing in the air with a soft mist on my face I felt connected to an older time, sharing this space with the seen and the unseen.

The Red man

Sculpted in cement I created this fairy character that is known as the Red Man. The Red Man is another similar version of the leprechaun, in that he is a small creature about half the size of a man. His name is Irish for ‘red man’, given to him because – you guessed it- he dressed from head to toe in red, including a scarlet hat and cloak. He is also usually depicted with long grey hair and a wrinkled face. Like the leprechaun and Clurichaun, he is a fan of practical jokes, usually leaning towards the more gruesome kind. His appearance is also a sign of impending bad luck.

Banshee Tower

The Banshee Tower, Ducketts Grove Castle, County Carlow, Ireland. It is believed that the voices of the past and the ghosts of their owners haunt the high tower and the grounds of the roofless shell of Duckett’s Grove. The eerie atmosphere and spooky stories that shroud the skeletal ruins of this once magnificent Gothic mansion, built in the first half of the 19th century, are probably the main reason for the mystery and fantasy that arise from these beautiful remains.

Celtic Merrow

Celtic Merrow is another of my sculpted cement figures. It should not be assumed that merrows are kindly and well-disposed towards mortals. As members of the sidhe, or Irish fairy world, the inhabitants of the Land beneath the Waves have a natural antipathy towards humans. In some parts of Ireland, they are regarded as messengers of doom and death.

The tower at Kildavnet

The tower at Kildavnet on Achill Island is thought to have been constructed by the Clan O’Malley in about 1429, but is associated locally with a descendant of the original builders, Grace O’Malley or Granuaile. This legendary pirate queen is thought to have been born around 1530 and died in about 1603. The Tower at Kildavnet is one of a series of such strongholds that Granuaile established along the western seaboard (she is said to be buried in a similar tower on Clare Island) as she dominated the waters during the 16th century.

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