5 Minute Irish Stories  Set 4 : 95-122
Set 1:1-30 Set 2:32-64 Set 3:65-94 Set 4:95-122 Set 5:123-156 Set 6:157-192
95. Civil Irish and Wild Irish 

You who follow English ways, who cut short your curling hair, O slender hand of my choice, you are unlike the good son of Donnchadh! 

If you were he, you would not give up your long hair (the best adornment in all the land of Ireland) for an affected English fashion, and your head would not be tonsured. 

You think a shock of yellow hair unfashionable; he hates both the wearing of love-locks and being shaven-headed in the English manner-how unlike are your ways. 

E/oghan B/an the darling of noble women, is a man who never loved English customs; he has not set his heart  on English ways, he has chosen the wild life rather. 

Your ideas are nothing to E’oghan B’an; he would give breeches away for a trifle, a man who asked no cloak but a rag, who had no desire for doublet and hose. 

He would hate to have at his ankle a jeweled spur on a boot, or stockings in the English manner; he will allow no love-locks on him. 

A blunt rapier which could not kill a fly, the son of Donchadh does not think it handsome; nor the weight of an awl sticking out behind his rear as he goes to the hill of the assembly. 

Little he cares for gold-embroidered cloaks, or for a high well-furnished ruff, or for a gold ring which would only be vexatious, or for a satin scarf down to his heels. 

He does not set his heart on a feather bed, he would prefer to lie upon rushes; to the good son of Donnchadh a house of rough wattles is more comfortable than the battlements of a  castle. 

A troop of horse at the mouth of a pass, a wild fight, a ding -dong fray of foot soldiers, these are some  of the delights of Donnchadh’s son- and seeking contest with the foreigners. 

You are unlike E/oghan B/an ;  men laugh at you as you put your foot on the mounting-block; it is a pity that you yourself don't see your errors, O you who follow English ways. 
-Irish Laoiseach Mac an Bhaird 16th century. 

96. Lanty’s New House 

 Lanty M’Cluskey had married a wife, and, of course, it was necessary to have a house in which to keep her.  Now, Lanty had taken a bit of a farm, about six acres; but as there was no house on it, he resolved to build one; and that it might be as comfortable as possible, he selected for the site of it one of those beautiful green circles that are supposed  to be the playground of the fairies.  Lanty was warned against this.  But as he was a headstrong man, and not much given to fear, he said he would not change such a pleasant situation for his house, to oblige all the fairies in Europe.  He accordingly proceeded with the building, which he finished off very neatly.  And, as it is  usual on these occasions to give one’s neighbors and friends a  housewarming, so, in compliance with this good and pleasant old custom, Lanty, having brought home the wife in the course of the day,  got a fiddler, and a lot of whiskey, and gave those who had come to see him a dance in the evening. This was all very well, and the fun and hilarity were proceeding briskly, when a noise was  heard after night had set in, like a crushing and straining of ribs and rafters on the top of the house.  The folks assembled all listened, and without doubt there was nothing heard but crushing, and heaving,  and  pushing, and groaning, and panting, as if a thousand little men were  engaged in pulling down the roof.  “Come” said a voice, which spoke in a tone of command, “work  hard: you know we must have Lanty’s house down before midnight.”  This w as an unwelcome piece of intelligence to Lanty, who finding that his enemies were such as he could not cope with, walked out, and addressed them as follows:  “Gentlemen I humbly ask your  pardon for building on any place belonging to you, but if you’ll have the civilitude to let me alone this night, I’ll begin to pull down and remove the house tomorrow morning.”  This was followed by a noise like the slapping of a thousand tiny little  hands, and a shout of “Bravo, Lanty! Build halfway between the two white thorns above the boreen.”  And  after another hearty little shout of exultation, there was a brisk rushing noise, and they were  heard of no more. 
The story, however, does not end here, for Lanty, when digging the foundation of his new house, found the full of a kam of gold so that in leaving to the fairies their playground, he became a  richer man than ever he otherwise would have been, had he never come in contact with them at all. 

97. The Student's Life 

The Student’s life is pleasant, carrying on his studies; it is plain to you my friends, his is the most pleasant in Ireland. 

No king nor great prince nor landlord, however strong, coerces him; no taxes to the Chapter, no fines, no early-rising. 

Early-rising or sheep-herding he never undertakes them, nor yet does he pay heed to the watchmen in the night. 

He spends a while at backgammon, and at the tuneful harp, or again another while at wooing, and at courting a fair woman. 

He gets good profit from his  plough-team when early spring comes round-the fame of his plough is a handful of pens! 
-Irish, 17th century 

98.   Egan O’ Rahilly and the Minister 

There was a splendid green-boughed tree of great value growing for many years close by a church which the wicked Cromwell had plundered, above a spring overflowing with bright cold water, in a field of green turf which a thieving minister had extorted from an Irish gentleman; one who had been exiled across the wild seas thorough treachery, and not through the edge of the sword.  This stinking l out of a dammed minister wanted to  cut a long green bough of the tree to make household gear of it. None of the carpenters or workmen would touch the beautiful bough, for its shade was most  lovely, sheltering them as they lamented brokenly and bitterly for the bright champions who were stretched beneath the sod.  “I  will cut it” said a bandy meagre-shanked gallows bird of a son of this portly minister,  “ and get me an axe at once.”  The dull-witted oaf went up into the tree like a scared cat fleeing a pack of hounds, until he  came upon two branches growing one across the other. He tried to put them apart by the strength of his wrists, but they sprang from his hands in the twinkling of an eye across each other again, and gripped his gullet, hanging him high between air and Hell. It was then the accursed Sasenach was wriggling his legs in the hangman's  dance, and he standing on nothing, and his black tongue out the length of a yard, mocking at his father.  The minister screamed and bawled like a pig in a sack or a goose caught under a gate, and no wonder, while the workmen were getting a ladder to cut him down. 

Egan O’ Rahilly from Sliabh Luchra of the Heroes was there, watching the gallows-bird of the noose, and he recited this verse:- 
“Good is your fruit tree; 
may the bounty of this your fruit be on every branch! 
Alas that the trees of Ireland are not covered by your fruit every day!” 

What is the poor wild Irish devil saying? “ said the minister , “ He is lamenting your darling son,” said an idler who was beside him. “Here is two pence for you to buy tobacco with.” Said the fat badger of a Minster. “Thankee, minister of the son of courses” (the Devil) said Egan; and he recited a verse:- 
“Hurro, minister who gave me your two pence 
for lamenting your child! 
May the fate of that child befall he rest of them down to the last of them” 
-Irish 18th century 

99. Prosperity in the Time of Tadhg O’ Conchobhair 

....The nobleman for whom from wide-plained Codhal in the south the fruit and nuts of soft Munster have grown bright; owing to our chieftain every bright branched hazel has become red, and the fruits of the pleasant bending sloe bushes have grown jet black. 

In his time the cattle are like part of the Cattle-Tribute; Nuts are the hue of coppery gold for the descendant of gentle Mugh; the fruit-flowers in their fresh white tresses have sweetened the cool streams of the tree-blessed shore; green corn grows from the earth close up to the mighty woods, and the bright hazel branches are filled with sap. 

At evening, the flowers of the fair-plaited hazel have cooled the sunny earth, the home of stranger birds; drops of honey and of dew, like dark tears, will keep the fringe of the thin-grassed wood bent down; the saplings around the Boyle are bowed with nuts because the slow soft eye of the descendant of Bron looks down on them. 

Nuts dropping into the white-foamed murmuring Boyle will fall down beside the great trees with twisted boles; the flower of every tree of them like dark purple, is purple for the race of great Muircheertach. 

A shower of honey upon slim-formed saplings in the fresh bowed forks of the golden graceful wood- this is but another boon from his holding of the peace-and the slow cows with their full udders from the lands of the plain of great Tuam... 
-Irish Sea/an M/or O’ Clumh/ain 14th century J 

100. No man goes Beyond His Day 

A fisherman must follow the sea, and how can a man escape the day of his death?  There is such and such a time marked out for a man on this earth, and , when his day is come, if he went into an ant’s hole, death would find him there.  We have only our time, and , young or old, a man must go when he is called. 
There was a boat going out to Inis Tuaisceart once to fish from the rocks, and when they were halfway out they found that they had left the mast behind them.  So they went back for the mast.  And there was a man on the slip who was the best man on the island at fishing from the rocks, for  at every craft there is one man is better than all others, if it were only at driving nails with a hammer.  They set out again, taking this man with them, and, when they came to Inis Tuaisceart, they went about the island putting one man out on a rock here and another there,  till at last they were all in their places fishing.  After they had been thus for a time, the day began to rise  on them, and the boat went again to pick up the men.  But when they came to the rock where they had put this man out, he was not to be found.  A wave had come up out of the sea,  they said, and taken him, for death wanted him and his day was come , and when the went back at the beginning of the day it was not for the mast they went, as they thought, but for the man.  No man goes beyond his day. 

101. A light tokens the Death of Mr. Corrigan 

Well, I was coming along the road convenient to Drumbargy Lane.  And I seen this light.  And it seemed for the start--I couldn’t just say whether it started from Francy’s or whether it come past it.  But it was a little below Francy’s when I seen it first.  And it was a powerful light and what struck me was that: wasn’t it a wonder that it wasn’t blacked out, do you see, for the way it was at that time it was only the underpart of a bicycle light that you'd see; the upper part of the glass had to be either blacked or there had to be a black cloth over it.  It was during the war, do you see.  But this was a full light.  And it came on very, very,very, very very, quick. And it was just coming forward to where the  turn is on the road when it disappeared.  So I was on this side of Drumbargy Lane at that time.  And the thought that struck me was that they either got a burst or a puncture or something had happened to the bicycle.  So I came on anyway, expecting for to come across some man in difficulty, or some person, man or woman.  But there was nobody on the road.  So I took from that, that it was some kind of token.  John O’Prey was working here with Francy’s father at the time.  And he was coming home one night.  And this  light came along, as he thought, meeting him.  But it went out before they met.  And there was nobody on the road.  I just don’t know how long it was before I seen it that John O’Prey seen it. But Francy’s father died about in a week or a fortnight, a short time after. 

102. Who Will Buy a Poem 

I ask, who will buy a poem? Its meaning is the true learning of sages. Would anyone take, does anyone want, a noble poem which would make him immortal? 

Though tis is a poem of close-knit lore, I have walked all Munster with it, every market-place from cross to cross- 
and it has brought me no profit from last year to the present. 

Though a groat would be small payment, no man nor any woman offered it; not a man spoke of the reason, but neither Irish nor English heeded me. 

An art like this is no profit to me, though it is hard that it should die out ; 
it would be more dignified to go and make combs- why should anyone else take up poetry? 

Corc of Cashel lives no more, nor Cian, who did not hoard up cattle nor the price of them, men who were generous  in rewarding-poets--alas, it is good-bye to the race of /Eibhear. 

The prize for generosity was never taken from them, until Cobhtach died, and T/al; I spare to mention the many kindreds for whom I might have continued to make poetry. 

I am like a trading ship that has lost its freight, after the FitzGeralds who deserved renown. I hear no offers--how that torments me! It is a vain quest about which I ask. 
-Irish Mahon O’ Hefferman 17th century J 

 103. The Lawyer and the Devil 

There was this man in it one time and he had three sons and he wanted to make something of them but hadn't the money.  So he sells himself to the Divil to rise money to school the three boys, and he did.  He made one a priest, the other a doctor and the third one was a lawyer.   The Divil gave him the money to pay for their education.  But anyway, at the end of seven years the Divil showed up to claim the old man and his soul and take him and it down to Hell.  He had his three sons there, or one at a time in with him.  So when the Divil come the priest began to pray and beg and appeal for the sparings for his father, and in the heel of the hunt he got a few years more off the Divil for his father.  When that was up and the Divil came again the doctor was there and he appealed for sparings for his father and got them.  And when the Divil come a third time to claim the old fellow the lawyer was there.  The lawyer says to the divil: 
“You’ve given sparings to my father twice already and I know you can’t be expected to do it again.  But,” says he, “ as a last request,  will you give him sparings while that butt of a candle is there?” 
The candle was burning on the table.  The divil said he would; it was only a butt of a candle and wouldn’t  be long in it.  At that the lawyer picks up the butt of a candle and blows it out and puts it in his pocket.  And that was that! The divil had to keep to his bargain and go without the old man, for the lawyer held on to the butt of a candle.  Trust the lawyer to beat the Divil. 

104.The Wild Man of the Woods 

Dismal is this life, to be without a soft bed; a cold frosty dwelling, harshness of snowy wind. 
Cold icy wind, faint shadow of a feeble sun, the shelter of a single tree on the top of the level moor. 
Enduring the shower, stepping along deer-paths, traversing greeswards on a morning of raw frost... 
-Irish 12th century J 

105. The Blood of Adam 

There was a priest in this parish long ago, and the old people used to tell us a lot of stories about him. He was a fine singer, they said, and he could play the fiddle finely and he was very fond of music.  He was a noted horseman, too, although it was a horse that killed him in the end--it was how he was out one night on a sick call, and it was late and very dark when he was coming home, and the horse stumbled and threw him, and they found him in the morning and his neck broken.  It was behind on the Gort a ‘ Ghleanna road it happened, just at the bridge halfways down the hill.  W ell, what I’m telling you happened a good while before that, on another night when he was out riding late, when he was back on the lower road, near the county bounds.  It was a bright moonlight night and he was walking the horse along when he heard this sweet music coming from the bank of the river , and he stopped to listen to it.  After a while he put the horse at the ditch of the road and cleared it into the field and down to the river.  And there was this very big crowd of small people, men and women about as big as a twelve-years-old child, and they all gathered around listening to a lot of them that were playing every kind of musical instrument.  And the priest was sitting on his horse, enjoying  the music, when some of them saw him. “Tis a priest, “ they said and the music stopped.  And they all gathered around the horse.  And one of them, the head m an of them, maybe, spoke up.  “Such a  question,  Father, and will you answer it?”  “I will, and welcome, if I have the  answer,” says the priest.  “What we want to know is this, will we go to Heaven?” says the little man.  “I do not know,” says the priest, “but I can tell you this much: if you  have any drop of Adam ‘s blood in your veins, you have as good a chance of Heaven as any man, but if you have not, then you have no right to Heaven.””Och/on /O!” says the little man.  And they all went off along the riverbank, all crying and wailing so that it would break your heart to listen to them. 

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106. Thomas Moore and the Tramp 

Thomas Moore was lying looking, him and this other, his companion, looking at the Meeting of the Waters and bragging: it was such beautiful scenery, gorgeous, never saw anything like it.  An this poor tramp came up, And badly dressed, in rags, and bad boots on him with his toes sticking out through his shoes.   And he asked help of Thomas Moore. And Thomas didn’t recognize him at all; he ignored him asking for help.  And he stood  for a few minutes and he started his wee poem as follows: 

“ If Moore was a man without place of abode, 
Without clothes on his back, and him walking the road, 
Without bit in his belly or shoes on his feet, 
He wouldn't give a damn where the bright waters meet.” 

This Moore told him, “Repeat that,” he says “again.” So the tramp repeated it again.  And he put his hand in his pocket, and he gave him half a sovereign.  He says , “That's as good as I ever heard,” he says,  “I couldn't do it better meself .”  That was that.  It was a great piece of composition.  It was me father told me that one; it was him that I heard at it.  Surely 

107. Hare and Hound 

John McLoughlin that lived out the Point Road had this hound.  There never was the beating of her. She pupped in a teapot. One time she was carrying the pups, and a hare rised up and she made after it and ripped the belly out of herself on this ditch, on wire or something;and the pups, the greyhound  pups, spilled out of her.  And one of them up like hell and after the hare and stuck till her till he caught and killed her,  And when the greyhound died., John McLouchlin had her skinned and he put a   back into a waistcoat with her skin.  And one day he was out over the water hunting and this hare started up; and begod, he said, the back of the waistcoat on him barked! 

108. The Banshee Cries for the O’Briens 

The Banshee always cries for the O’Briens.  And Anthony O’ Brien was a fine man when I married him, and handsome, and I could have had great marriages if I didn't choose him, and many wondered at me.  And when he was took ill and in the bed, Johnny Rafferty  came in one day, and says he, “Is Anthony living?” and I said he was. “For,” says he, “as I was passing, I heard crying, crying from the hill where the forths are, and I thought it must be for Anthony, and that he was gone.” And then Ellen, the little girl, came running in, and she says, “I heard the mournfullest crying that  ever you heard just behind the house.”   And I said, “It must be the Banshee.” And Anthony heard me say that where he was lying in the bed, and he called out.  “If it’s the Banshee it’s for me, and I must die today or tomorrow.” And in the middle of the next day, he died. 

109. The  Wild Man Comes to the Monastery 

.....There was a time when I thought sweeter than the quiet converse of monks, the cooing of the ringdove flitting about the pool. 

There was a time when I thought sweeter than the sound of a little bell beside me, the warbling of the blackbird from the gable and the belling of the stag in the storm. 

There was a time when I thought sweeter than the voice of a lovely woman beside me, to hear at maitns the cry of the heath-hen  of the moor. 

There was a time when I thought sweeter the howling of  wolves, than the voice of a priest indoors, baa-ing and bleating. 

Though you like your ale with ceremony in the drinking-halls. I like better to snatch a drink of water in my palm from a spring. 

Though you think sweet, yonder in your church, the gentle talk of your students, sweeter I think the splendid talking the wolves make in Glenn mBolC/ain. 

Though you like the fat and meat which are eaten in the drinking halls, I like better to eat a head of clean water-cress in a place without sorrow... 
-Irish 12th century J 

110. Iniskeen’s on Fire 

There was a woman and she had a wee baby boy in a cradle.  Them days there was no such thing as a pram.  So this boy come in, and the child was taken out of the cradle, and this funny boy got into it.  The child was never seen, and the funny boy was in the cradle all he time.  And a man come in , a neighbor man come in, and the boy in the cradle says, “Gimmie a Light for me Pipe”.Gimmie a coal there outtta the fire.” So the boyo got the coal and he smoked. And then there was another man going to a blacksmith.  He was going to get a loy  fixed.  It wasn't a spade now; it was a loy.  So the man was going away to get the loy fixed with the blacksmith.  He looked into the cradle.  And he knew it was no child.  He knew it was no baby.  And the boy in the cradle put up his head.  “Would you give me a light for me pipe,” he says.  So the man that went in, he went out to the street, and he let a big curse out of him: “Inishkeen’s on fire” “Iniskeen’s on fire.” The boyo got up and hopped out of the cradle and away and he never was seen after. 
He was frightened you see, when he heard about the fire in Iniskeen.  That's  where they lived, you see. I often heard me husband telling it.  The man says, “Inishkeen’s on fire.” So he disappeared. I often heard him telling me that. 

111. The Horse’s Last Drunk 

Do you know that the jennet is the most willing animal in the world? Man alive a jennet never knows when he is done.  Years ago, I saw a jennet drawing a load up Patrick's Hill in Cork, and that's like the side of a mountain.  The load was too much for it and for all its trying the jennet could go no farther.  But do you know what happened? With the height of willingness and the power of pulling, its eyes came out of its head before it, for they were the only part of it free and not tackled to the cart.  That was willingness for you!  The man who owned that jennet was carrying from Cork to Kenmare.  It was in the days before there were any motorcars and before their like had been thought about at all.  He was coming one day with the divil of a load of wheat, maybe it could be about a ton weight and he saw  that his horse was failing.  He wondered if he had overfed her or what could ail her.  He wanted to get into the town of Macroom that night at least .  Well, he had a bottle of poteen with him, and he put It back into the horse, and she was as lively as could be for another piece of the road.  But just when he was to the east of Macroom, didn't the horse lie down on the road, under the load and the divil a stir from her.  They thought that she was dead.  There wasn't a move out of her, no matter what they did. One of the men with him said that they had as well make the best of it, and if they skinned her they would be able to sell the s kin in Macroom.  So they set to, and they skinned her, and when they had that done she moved.  She  wasn't dead at all, but only dead drunk with the poteen she had taken, and the cold had put a stir into her when the skin was off.  They were in the devil of a fix, for the skin was after stiffening.  One hopped over the wall, and killed four of the sheep and skinned them, and they sewed the warm skins on to the horse, and she got up after   the debauch, and pulled away as good as ever. 
Ever after that he used to shear her twice a year--and you should have seen the grand fleece she had on her.  She lived for fourteen years after that with two shearings a year. 

 112. Terry the Grunter 

There  was at one time, an old tramp called Tery the Grunter who used to wander round these parts often times.  The lived principally on his wits and he composed satires about people who did not please him.  He happened to be in Sligo when a certain solicitor died and he asked some of this’man’s brother solicitors for help.  They refused him.  When the funeral was starting four solicitors carried the coffin part of the way to the cemetery.  Terry the Grunter gave the following descriptions of the affair: 

There’s a knave overhead and four underneath, 
The body is dead and the soul on a journey 
The Devil is at law and he wants an attorney. 

When the Protestant church at Riverstown was being built,  the bishop of Elphin came to consecrate it.  He met our hero who, as usual, was on the lookout for money.  The bishop refused him and the tramp wrote the following: 

An English bishop came from Elphin, 
To consecrate the church at Cooper Hill; 
 But if the Devil himself came up from Hell, 
He would do it fully as well! 

113. Elegy on Druim nDen 

How bare is your stronghold, Druim nDen! Very bare is your rampart and your site.  I see, of the flowers once lavish on you from now for ever you shall be bare. 

Lovely were your borders and your verge, sweet the call of cuckoos that dwelt around you; shining was your wall, spacious and splendid, and your fortress encircled with green-leaved oaks. 

You were a protection against need and sorrow, you were a fence and a forest clearing; it is my longing to set my back to your wall and my face towards your wide demesne. 

But I am in the west of Ireland and you in the east are all on fire; the grazing herd crops the meadow 
the meal is ground without the miller. 

Rarely comes any that would be better; every frame shall be brought low; you shall be a  hall for tearful austere nuns, though now you are grass grown and bare. 
-Irish 11th century. 

114. A clock Token 

One night the clock in my room struck six and it had not struck for years, and two nights after--on Christmas night--it struck six again, and  afterwards I heard that my sister in America had died just at  that hour.  So now I have taken the weights off the clock, that I wouldn’t hear it again. 

115. John Brodison and the Policeman 

There was a famous character in our country.  He lived at Bellanaleck, he was the name of John Brodson. 
He was a famous liar. 
Aye, he was a famous liar.  I knew him.  I was often talking to him.  He was a kind of a smart old boy, you know: quick-witted. He was coming out  of Enniskillen one night   with the ass and cart.  And the law was: ye had to have a light after a certain time on a cart,  do you see, when it was dark. Ye had to have a light.  So the policeman was standing at Bellanaleck Cross and Brodison knew that the police would be there at the time.  So he got out of the cart. And he took the donkey out of the cart, and he tied it behind.  And he got into the shafts, and he started to pull the cart, and the donkey walking behind him anyway.  And when he came to the Cross, the policeman says, “Brodison,” he says.  “Ye have no light.”  “Where’s your light, Brodison?” “Ask the driver,” he says. Aye “ask the  driver.” 
Well that was the sort of a boy he was .  Ah, he had great bids in him. 

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116. The Little Boys who Went to Heaven 

....Don/an son of Liath, one of Sen/an’s disciples, went to gather dulse on the shore, with two little boys who were studying along with him. The sea carried off his boat from him, so that he had no boat to fetch the boys, and there was no other boat on the island to rescue the boys.  So the boys were drowned on a rock; but on the next day their bodies were carried so that they lay on the beach of the island.  Their parents came then and stood on the beach, and asked that their sons should be given them alive.  Sen/an said to Donn/an, “Tell the boys to arise and speak with me.” Donn/an said to the boys,  “You may arise to talk with your parents, for Sen/an tells you to do so.” They arose at once at Sen/an’s command, and said to their parents,  “ You have done  wrong to us, bringing us away from the land to which we came”. “How could you prefer,” said their mother to them “to stay  in that land rather than to come to us?” “Mother,” they said, “though you should give us power over the whole world and all its enjoyment and delight, we should think it no different from being in prison, compared with being in the life and in the world to which we came.  Do not delay us, for it is time for us to go back again to the land from which we have come; and God shall bring it their parents gave them their consent, and they went together with Sen/an to his oratory; and the sacrament was given them, and they went to Heaven, and their bodies were buried in front of the oratory where Sen/an lived.  And these were the first dead who were buried in Scatterly Island... 
-Irish 10th century J 

117.  How St. Scoithin Got His Name 

Once upon a time he met Barra of Cork, he walking on the sea and Barra in a ship. “How is it that you are walking on the sea?  Said Barra. “It is not the sea at all but a flowery blossomy field,” said Scoithin and he took up in his hand a crimson flower and threw it from him to Barra in the ship.  And Scoithin said “How is it that a ship is floating on the field?” At those words, Barra stretched his hand down into the sea and took a salmon out of it, and threw it to Scoithin.  And it is from tat flower (scoth) that he is called Scoithin. 
-Irish 10th-11th century. J 

118. The Farmer’s Answers 

There was a poor man one time-Jack Murphy his name was; and rent day came, and he hadn’t enough to pay his rent.  And he went to the landlord, and asked would he give him time.  And the landlord asked when would he pay him; and he said he didn’t know that.  And the landlord said:”Well, if you can answer three questions I’ll put to you, I’ll let you off the rent altogether.  But if you don’t answer them, you will have to pay it oat once, or to leave your farm.  And the three questions are these: How much does the moon weigh? How many stars are there in the sky? What is it I am thinking?” And he said he would give him till the next day to think of the answers.  And Jack was walking along, very downhearted; and he met  with a friend of his, one Tim Daly; and he asked what was on him.  And he told him how he must answer the landlord’s three questions on tomorrow, or to lose his farm. “And I see no use in going to him tomorrow,” says he, “for I’m sure I will not be able to answer his questions right.” Let me go in your place,” says Tim Daly, “for the landlord will not know one of us from the other, and I’m a good hand at answering questions, and I’’ engage I’ll get you through.”   So he agreed to that.  And the next day Tim Daly went in to the landlord, and says he:” I’m come now to answer your three questions.” Well, the first question the landlord put was: “What does the moon weigh?” And Tim Daly says: “It weighs four quarters.” Then the landlord asked: “How many stars are in the sky?” “Nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine.” Says Tim.  “How do you know that?” says the landlord. “Well, “ says Tim, “if you don’t believe me, go out yourself tonight and count them.” Then the landlord asked him the third question: “What am I thinking now?”  “You are thinking it’s to Jack Murphy you’re talking, and it is not, but to Tim Daly.” So the landlord gave  in then. And  Jack had the farm free from that out. 

119. Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral 

Dean Swift was a great man; very sharp-tongued he was, and fond of women terribly.  Himself and his man Jack went riding to some place and they went for shelter into a public-house.  There was a fire on the hearth and there were two men sitting beside it and they made no offer to move aside where the Dean and Jack wore very simple clothes, knee breeches as the gentlemen used to do.  So the Dean says to Jack, “Did you put up the horses?” “I did”, says Jack.  “What did you give them for a feed?” says the Dean.  “I gave them a feed of oysters,” says Jack. So when the two men heard that they went out for to look at the great wonder, the horses to be eating oysters.  And when they came in, the Dean and Jack had their two places taken by the fire.  The dean was eating his dinner one time and he gave Jack but the bone with very little    left on it. “ It is the sweetest bit that is next the bone.” Says he.  Well, a while after they were on the road, and he bade Jack to tie up his horse where he’d have a feed of grass. So Jack brought him to a big stone and tied his head to it. “Sure you told me yourself,” says Jack, “the sweetest of the grass is next the stone!”  Some eggs Jack brought him one time, in his hand, just as you might be bringing             them to a man out on a bog. “Let you put a plate under everything you will bring from this out,” says the Dean.  So the next morning when Jack brought up his boots, he had put a plate under them.  The Dean sent Jack for a woman  one night, and it was a black woman Jack brought up to the hotel, and the Dean never saw her till morning, and when he did he thought it was the devil. He sacked  Jack that time.  “What  were you sacked for?” says Jack’s mother. “It is that he sent me for a pullet and I brought back a hen,” says Jack “That’s no great fault,” says the mother and she went to the Dean and said he had a right to take  Jack back again, and so he did. 

120. A big Potato 

John Brodison tells this story that one season, some years ago, he had a field of potatoes convenient to the Sligo and Leitrim Railway Line. And it was a  very steep hill that he had the potatoes planted in.  And they had done remarkably well, and when it came to the time for to dig them, they turned out a powerful fine crop of potatoes.  And he was digging, he tells us, one day, and he came to a spot on the ridge and he found out that there was a potato from one brow to the other.  So, he got behind, as he thought, this potato for to roll it out.  But he found out that it had grew across the furrow in through a ridge on both sides of the ridge that it was planted on.  So he had to go to both these ridges and dig all the mold that was around the potato.  So then when he had it properly uncovered, he found out that it was a very deep distance in the ground.  And he had to start for to rise it with a spade out of the ground.  And he was a very long time a-digging the mold from round it, for to get it, to get the spade in under it.  But finally the mold all cleared  and he started with the spade, rising it up,  and rising it up, and rising it up, till finally he got it to the top of the round.  And it joined to roll.  So he was that much fatigued and tired after the job that he had it;  he never bothered looking where it went to.  And he started again, and he heard a cart coming along the road from the direction  of Enniskillen.  And the next thing he heard was a terrible bang.  So  he  looked round, and he seen where  this cart had tumbled. So  he stuck the spade.  He run down to it.  He found that the pratie had rolled onto the road, and in trying to get by it, the man hadn’t enough room between the pratie and the other hedge for to get by clear, and the wheel of the cart went up onto the potato, and it tumbled.  So there  it was; there was nothing only sacks of meal and sacks of flour lying here and in all directions.  And the horse was lying on its side in the road.  But then, in them days there was a lot of  people traveling on horses’ carts and donkey ‘s carts, and it wasn’t very long till there came a go of men making for home.  So, them all got down and they got the horse released from the cart.  And they got the horse up on his feet again.  So, they had to take and they had to move every sack that was lying along the hedge away from about the cart  still they got the cart back on its wheels again and got it pulled alongside the potato. So then they had to help this man again put on his load again.  So, it was getting very near night, and he tells us that he didn’t like for to leave it on the road all  night for fear of more capsizers or more accidents.  So he went home.  And he had a talk with the wife.  So they came to the conclusion that they’d put the donkey in the cart, and that they’d start away with the crosscut, and that they’d cut it into shares and draw it to the house.   So they started anyway, and at a very late hour they had it all cut at the house.  So, that was a terrible hard night,  he said,  one of the hardest nights of his life between the way he had to labor  for to  get the potato up out of the earth and then the hardship that he had that night, him and the wife after. 
Oh, John used to tell that story. 
Oh, many a good story John told. 

121. The Old Times in Ireland 

The first man ever lived in Ireland was  Partholan, and he is buried and his greyhound along with him at some place in Kerry.  The Nemidians came after that and stopped for a while and then they all died of some disease.  And then the Firbolgs came, the best men that ever were in Ireland,  and they had no law but love, and there was never such peace and plenty in Ireland.  What religion had they? None at all. And there was a low sized race came that worked the land of Ireland a long time.  They had their time like the others.  Tommy Niland was sitting beside me one time the same as yourself, and the day warm as this day, and he said, “In the old times you  could buy a cow for one and sixpence, and a horse for two shillings.  A and if you had lived in those days, Padriac, you’d have your cow and your horse.”  For there was a man in those times bought a cow for one and sixpence, and when he was driving her home he sat down by the roadside crying, for fear he had given too little.  And the man that sold him as he was going home he sat down by the roadside crying, for fear that he had taken too much.  For the people were very innocent at  that time and very kind.  But Columcille laid it down in his prophecy that every generation would be getting smaller and more liary; and that was true enough.  And in the old days if there was a pig killed, it would never be sent to the saltery but everyone that came would get a bit of it.  But now, a pig to be killed, the door of the house would be closed, and no one to get a bit of it at all.  In the old times the people had no envy, and they would be writing down  the stories and  the songs for one another.  But they are too  enormous now to do that.  And as to the people in the towns, they don’t care for such things now, they are too corrupted with drink. 

122.Nera and the Dead Man
“Ailill and Medb, King and Queen of Connacht, are in their palace at Ráth Cruchan.  It is the eve of Samhain, the modern Hallow-e’en, and great was the darkness of that night and its horror. Ailill promises to reward anyone who will put a withe round the foot of either of two captives who had been hanged the day before.  A number of men make  the attempt, but return in terror with their errand unfulfilled.  At length Nera sets off for the gallows. He put a withe round the foot of one of the two captives Thrice it sprang off again.  Then the captive said to him unless he put an extra spike on it the spike of the wood itself would not close on it.  Then Nera put an extra spike on it.  The hanged man then asks Nera to take him on his back to the house which is nearest to us saying that he was thirsty when hanged and now wants a drink.  When they arrive at the nearest house there is a lake of fire round it.  There is no drink for us in that house says the captive.  The fire is always raked there.
Nera carries him to the second house but they cannot enter as a lake of water surrounds the house.  There is never a washing nor a bathing tub nor a slop pail in it at night after sleeping.  They go to the third house and here the dead man enters.  There were tubs for washing and bathing in it and a drink in each of them. also a slop pail on the floor of the house.  He (the hanged man) then drinks a draught from each of them (he tosses a handful of ashes at the barking dog and it falls down dead and before the people have a chance to wake) he and scatters the last sip from his lips at the faces of the people that were in the house so that they all died. Henceforth it is not good to have either a tub for washing or bathing or a fire without raking or a slop pail in a house after sleeping..”   Nera at this point is really scared- so much so that he runs off into the night and still to this day that dead man is still occupying the small house in the hills of Ireland somewhere……

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