According to Yeats' Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry the fear gorta walks the earth during times of famine, seeking alms from passers-by. In this version the fear gorta can be a potential source of good luck for generous individuals. Harvey relates a myth that the fear gorta was a harbinger of famine during the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, and that the spirit originally arises from a patch of hungry grass (féar gortach).
- Yeats, W. B. (ed.) Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. 1888.
- Harvey, Steenie. Twilight places: Ireland's enduring fairy lore. World and I, March 1998, v13 n3
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