Fairy trees or bushes are often seen growing around fairy forts ( ringforts). They are said to guard the entrance to the fairy world.
Hawthorn has been used for generations as hedging in Ireland. However, a lone tree or bush is not to be interfered with!
As it flowers in May it has always been associated with the Celtic festival of Bealtaine, celebrating the beginning of Summer. Many know it as the “May Flower”.
While it is ok to make garlands with hawthorn, there is a belief that bringing it into the house brings bad luck.
This is a story from County Donegal written by a school child in 1938 as recorded in Duchas.ie, a digitized collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren in Ireland in the 1930s.
“One time a man named O’Donnell had some men working in the bog. There was an old hawthorn tree growing there and the men rooted it up and threw it aside. At dinner time the man sent his little son to a stream that was close by for a can of water. He met a little man and the man said “follow me”. The little lad followed him. When the boy did not return with the water the father set out to see why he delayed so long but he could not see his son anywhere around. He then became alarmed and all the men set out to search for the boy but it was of no use the boy had disappeared. At least one of the men remembered about the tree they had rooted and told the father that perhaps they had done wrong by interfering with a hawthorn tree. The father then put the tree back again to its old place and shortly afterwards they saw the little boy at the bank of the river. When asked where he had been the boy replied that he met a man who made him follow him step by step”
The Schools’ Collection, Volume 1028, Page 407