Men who would be King

A Fairy Story

Near Ochtertyre House there was a castle or keep at a little, long-gone place called Greenend. The family, who lived there, the Toshachs, (the name may originally have been Toshacks from the Gaelic “Taoiseach” meaning chief or leader. It has been suggested that they were Thanes of Leadenflower and Monzievaird in the early days of the Celtic Earls of Strathearn), and were the administrators and collector of rents for the crown properties in the district.

Ochtertyre House and Loch

Mr. Toshach, (I call him Mister because I do not know the correct form of address when chatting to or about a Thane), developed the habit of leaving the house in the evening to visit a fairy which had been imported from overseas. His wife after noticing this happening with some frequency became suspicious about her husband’s absences and decided to find out what was going on. She fastened a piece of worsted yarn to the button of his coat and, holding the ball in her hand she allowed the thread to unwind, and followed him at a distance. The trail of thread led her to a cave beside the river Turret where she found Toshach in close conversation with the fairy. She at once confronted both of them accusing him of infidelity, and in the melee of swinging arms the fairy escaped, and was never seen again. Bad luck followed the Toshachs ever afterwards and, as he was despised by the local community, he left the area and died abroad.

Perhaps the moral of the tale, ladies, is that if your husband tells you a tale about visiting fairies in the evening...get out your knitting needles!

This tale also surfaced in East Lothian – maybe they copied it from a traveller?!