|"The Changeling," Arthur Rackham|
Those of you familiar with medieval history are undoubtedly aware of the custom of "proof of age," where people used landmark events as a means of legally establishing the time of their birth.
Well, I dare anyone to top this one. ("Dundee Telegraph," August 12, 1909)
At a meeting of the Limavady Pension Committee an old woman told a fairy tale that proved the credence sometimes attached to the folk-lore of the fireside. Mr J. A. Lang, J.P., occupied the chair. Among the applicants was Annie Mintire, a bent old woman from Faughanvale. Questioned as to her age, she said she did not remember the year, but she had a distinct recollection of being born on Hallowe'en night in 1839, and of having been stolen by the fairies.After that testimonial, I should hope they did.
The Chairman —"You are quite sure of that?" " I am as certain of it as that live," emphatically replied the lady. "Fortunately my brother was returning from Carndonagh, and he heard the noise of their singing and their dancing, and he had a book with him, which he threw into the wood at Carrowkeel. The fairies then abandoned me, and my brother lifted me in his arms and brought me back to my mother."
"There was much joy at your return, I presume?" said the Chairman. Applicant said there was great rejoicing over her rescue. Her mother was in ecstasy at getting back her baby, and the people celebrated the event, by feasting, and there was a considerable quantity of drink consumed. The witness was asked if she could think of any other incident that would enable her to fix her age. but the time of her birth and abduction by the wee people were all she had guide her. The Pension Officer said there was no record of her age in either the 1841 or 1851 census. The committee, however, decided to grant the pension.