Away With The Fairies

Meaning of “Away With The Fairies”

The phrase “away with the fairies” means to live in a dream world and distracted. The phrase applies to the people who refuse to face reality and also lack concentration.

Origin of “Away With The Fairies”

The phrase “away with the fairies” was originated from Scottish or Irish / Gaelic myths. However, it was mentioned in a letter written by William Drummond, a Scottish bard, in 1636. The sentence goes: “As for the Fairy Queen, of whom you wrote to me, her Apparitions of late have bewitched so many, that I find sundry ready to dance with the fairies.” This mention of fairies as taking away people or bewitching them. It has further led to the use of this phrase as “away with the fairies” which was then mentioned in a newspaper, Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, published in New Zealand. The phrase appeared in its publication of May 1909. It retold an Irish story a character, Michael Coyne, trying to convince the audience that his rival has gone “away with fairies” and not killed by him. Since then, the phrase has become popular in writing.

Examples in Literature

Examples #1

Away With The Fairies by Douglas McClarty

If you put an ear
to this ancient ground
You might just hear
a mystical sound
Only on nights
when there’s a full moon
They will play and sing
their haunting tune
The Uilleann pipes,
a harp and a flute
there could be
a boran a fiddle and a lute
The fairies are singing
and dancing below
A place were no person
is welcome to go
If you venture near
this fairy fort, beware
No harm will come
to those who just stare
But for others who disturb
these fairy sites
they could be cursed
with sleepless nights
So be still and listen
don’t make a sound
And forever you’ll be drawn
to a fairy mound.

The poet states that whosoever goes near the fairy fortress and listens the fairies playing music is bewitched by their beauty. However, when he disturbs them, he is cursed with sleepless nights. Therefore, the best course of action for the visitors is to listen to the fairies’ music silently and enjoy it. The use of the phrase in the title of the poem points to this fantasy world. However, the meanings are almost the same that a person who wants to shun reality, may live in a world of fantasy for some time and then return.

Examples #2

Away with The Fairies by Tom Rosenthal

I love her and she loves me and we love everybody
From Tintin to Tarzan except for Robert Mugabe
We dance along and sing along in high grass and daisies
And everybody knows we’re away with the fairies.

This stanza has been taken from a song. Although the whole lyric revolves around the world of fantasy built by the singer, this stanza contains a specific theme. The singer believes that he and his beloved love everything and everybody. He sarcastically adds that Mugabe, a Zimbabwean leader, lives in a world of fantasy. He claims that everybody knows that using the phrase by the end of the stanza to further clarify that they are distracted.

 Examples #3

Away With The Fairies: Living between Two Worlds by Zoë Marriott

When you hear the expression ‘Away with the fairies’, you imagine someone rather useless. Someone chronically distracted, with a short attention span and no common sense. Someone – if we’re not being polite – a bit batty. It’s a description that’s been attached to me all my life: my mother’s standard explanation for inexplicable behaviour. ‘I’m sorry about Zoë! Never mind Zoë! She’s just away with the fairies.’ (Courtesy, RLF)

The first paragraph of the article is about Zoe’s own fantasy world. The title also points to the same meanings of the phrase. The writer has explained the phrase, suggesting that it also applies to the situation when a person does not hold attention to one thing and feels distracted. As it happened with her at home, her mother used to state that “She’s just away with the fairies” implying that she is lost in her fantasy world.

Examples #4

Away with the Fairies by J. McKeaveney

“No”, said Sean quietly, “because you’re away with the fairies and I thought it would remind you of where you come from.” Rosie did not know what to say. She loved her little fairy already by she was unnerved by Sean’s candour, “I am not away with fairies!” she exclaimed, trying to sound bright and breezy when, in fact, she was struggling to quell a rising tide of hysteria within her.

The story is about a young woman, Rosie Maguire, who is in a quest to find love and happiness. This paragraph shows that when Sean makes fun of her fantasy world, she becomes furious. Both of the characters use this phrase. Sean uses is to show her that she is dreamier, while Rosie uses it in a negative form to disprove his claim.

Examples in Sentences

Examples #1: “Although Anna was talking to John, it seems that John was away with fairies for long. He didn’t remember most of the conversation.”

Examples #2: “Do you think I am away with the fairies? I am paying attention to everything Kyle said.”

Examples #3: “Sometimes going away with the fairies is a good thing. In a busy life, every person needs to step away from reality for a short time.

Examples #4: “Nora jumped up from her seat in the meeting room. She suddenly snapped from her daydream and confessed that she was away with the fairies for a while.”

Examples #5: “Colt always knew that he is a good listener. Unless the person keeps repeating what he says, he is never away with the fairies.”