My daughter has a book of Irish folklore, and in it is a marvelous description of a ballybog, a type of very ugly fairy who does nothing. Ballybogs can’t speak or move much; their arms and legs are terribly skinny and useless. They have no necks. They smell terrible. Most sources I read to corroborate said ballybogs really don’t do anything to anyone. But one source says in a somewhat patronizing way that they can make people stray or be a little late. I mean, compared to most of Irish mythology, that’s just sad. So many figures are fierce or vengeful or at least incredibly protective of their space. But the ballybog…just not much going on there. As such, I am drawn to them. If I did any drawing, I’d make some kind of graphic novel about a ballybog.
The other source for today is a conversation that went on in my workplace during which someone referred to other workers–publicly–as dead wood. I immediately cringed and tried to imagine how terrible it would feel to be termed “dead wood.” But the ballybog is all about the dead wood. It’s his beat, making sure the bog continues in its slow decay. Maybe we can rebrand the ballybog as the patron fairy of steady yet unrecognized workers. Here’s “Dead Wood.”