Fairy lore in different countries is very interesting. Certainly in terms of Cornwall, similar to Wales and Brittany, and in many ways similar to the Aos Sí in Ireland, the “fairies”, and there are different kinds, are not these benevolent, butterfly-winged sprites appropriated by Victorian imagination at all. They can be good, they can be bad, or just ambivalent; however, they are to be treated with respect at all times and left well alone. The older generations were often reluctant even to mention them, for naming is calling; instead, they would use euphemisms or allegorical phrases to refer to them – typical in Cornwall would be to talk about the “Little People” (Pobol Vean) or in Wales the “Fair Family” (Tylwyth Teg) lest by using their “real” names you call upon them to your cost. In Ireland I believe that there are similar folk traditions. Sadly, it seems, Victorian imagination has prevailed and in many cases they have been reduced to picturesque images to use on souvenirs. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t tempt the wrath of the good people nor mess around with them and there was a case not so long ago about a major road that was diverted in Ireland so as not to cut down a fairy tree.
If you’re interested, there is a legend from South West Britain about a battle between the pixies and the fairies that the pixies won, the result of which was that the pixies held all of the land to the west of the River Parrett (Dorset/Somerset). The town of Ottery Saint Mary in Devon also has celebration in June, around midsummer, called Pixie Day, that commemorates the banishing of the pixies to a cave by the Bishop of Exeter in the 14th century! Allegory for the banishing of old beliefs? The celebration itself only dates from the 1950s, but the lore it’s based on seems to be a lot older, the cave where the pixies were banished, the Pixies’ Parlour, can be found nearby and it was visited, I believe, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1793, thereby inspiring him to write the Songs of the Pixies.