There are many old superstitions of the wonderful influence
of the ash tree. The old Christmas log was of ash wood, and its
use was helpful to the future prosperity of the family. Venomous
animals, it was said, would not take shelter under its
branches. A carriage with its axles made of ash wood was believed
to go faster than a carriage with its axles made of any
other wood, and tools with handles made of this wood were
supposed to enable a man to do more work than he could do
with tools whose handles were not of ash. Hence the reason that
ash wood is generally used for tool handles. It was upon ash
branches that witches were enabled to ride through the air, and
those who ate the red buds of the tree on St. Johns Eve were
rendered invulnerable to witches influence.
In speaking of the ash, reference was often to the mountain
ash or rowan tree.
Porteous, Alexander. Forest Folklore, Mythology, and Romance.
London George Allen & Unwin, 1928.