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


From : Frank Martin and the Fairies

William Carleton

About this time there was said to have occurred a very remarkable circumstance, which gave poor Frank a vast deal of importance among the neighbours. A man named Frank Thomas, the same in whose house Mickey M’Rorey held the first dance at which I ever saw him, as detailed in a former sketch; this man, I say, had a child sick, but of what complaint I cannot now remember, nor is it of any importance. One of the gables of Thomas’s house was built against, or rather into, a Forth or Rath, called Towny, or properly Tonagh Forth. It was said to be haunted by the fairies, and what gave it a character peculiarly wild in my eyes was that there were on the southern side of it two or three little green mounds, which were said to be the graves of unchristened children, over which it was considered dangerous and unlucky to pass. At all events, the season was mid-summer, and one evening about dusk, during the illness of the child, the noise of a hand-saw was heard upon the Forth. This was considered rather strange, and after a little time, a few of those who were assembled at Frank Thomas’s went to see who it could be that was sawing in such a place, or what they could be sawing at so late an hour for every one knew that nobody in the whole country about them would dare to cut down the few white-thorns that grew upon the Forth. On going to examine, however, judge of their surprise, when after surrounding and searching the whole, place, they could discover no trace of either saw or sawyer. In fact, with the exception of themselves there was no one, either natural or supernatural, visible. They then returned to the house, and had scarcely sat down, when it was heard again within ten yards of them. Another examination of the premises took place, but with equal success. Now, however, while standing on the Forth, they heard the sawing in a little hollow, about a hundred and fifty yards below them, which was completely exposed to their, but they could see nobody. A party of them immediately went down to ascertain, if possible, what this singular noise and invisible labour could mean; but on arriving at the spot, they heard the sawing, too which were now added hammering, and the driving of nails upon the Forth above whilst those who stood on the Forth continued to hear it in the hollow. On comparing notes, they resolved to send down to Billy Nelson’s for Frank Martin, a distance of only about eighty or ninety yards. He was soon on the spot and without a moment’s hesitation solved the enigma. Tis’ the fairies, said he. I see them, and busy crathurs they are. But what are they sawing, Frank? They are makin’ a child’s coffin, he replied; they have the body already made an’ they’re now nailin’ the lid together. That night the child died, and the story goes that on the second evening afterwards, the carpenter who was called upon to make the coffin brought a table out from Thomas’s house to the Forth, as a temporary bench; and it is said that the sawing and hammering necessary for the completion of his task were precisely the same which had been heard the evening but one before- neither more nor less. I remember the death of the child myself, and the making of its coffin, but I think the story of the supernatural carpenter was not heard in the village for some months after its interment. Frank had every appearance of a hypochondriac about him. At the time I saw him, he might be about thirty-four years of age; but I do not think, from the debility of his frame and infirm health, that he has been alive for several years. He was an object of considerable interest and curiosity, and often have I been present when he was pointed out to strangers as the man that could see the good people.


Paddy Corcoran‘s Wife

William Carleton

Pady Corcoran’s wife was for several years afflicted with a kind of complaint which nobody could properly understand. She was sick, and she was not sick; she was well, and she was not well; she was as ladies wish to be who love their lords, and she was not as such ladies wish to be. In fact nobody could tell what he matter with her was. She had a gnawing at the heart which came heavily upon her husband; for, with the help of God, a keener appetite than the same gnawing amounted to could not be met with of a summer’s day. The poor woman was delicate beyond belief, and had no appetite at all, so she hadn’t barring a little relish for a mutton-chop, or a staik, or a bit o’ mait, anyway; for sure, God help her! She hadn’t the list inclination for the dhry pratie, or the dhrop o’ sour buttermilk along with it, especially as she was so poorly; and indeed, for a woman in her condition—for sick as she was, poor Paddy alwayss was made to believe her in that condition—but God’s will be done! She didn’t care. A pratie an’ a grain o’ salt was a welcome to her—glory be to his name!- as he best roast an’ boiled that ever was dressed; and why not? There was one comfort: she wouldn’t be long with him—long troublin’him; it matthered little what she got, but sure she knew herself that from the gnawin’ at her heart, she could never do good without the little bit o’ mait now and then’ an’ sure, if her own husband begridged it to her who else had she a better right to expect it from? Well, as we have said, she lay a bedridden invalid for long enough, trying doctors and quacks of all sorts, sexes, and size, and all without a farthing’s benefit, until, at the long run, poor Paddy was nearly brought to the last pass in striving to keep her in the bit o’ mait. The seventh year was now on the point of closing, when, one harvest day, as she lay bemoning her hae condition, on her bed beyond the kitchen fire, a little weeshy woman dressed in a neat read cloak, comes in, and sitting down by the hearth, says: Well, Kittty Corcoran, you’ve had a long lair of it there on the broad o’ her back for seven years, an’ you’re jist as far from ein’ cured as ever. Mavrone, ay said the other; in throth that’s what I was this minnit thinkin’ ov and a sorrowful thought it’s to me. It’s yer own fau’t that ever you wor there at all. Arra, now how is that? Asked Kitty; sure I wouldn’t be here if I could help it? Do you think it’s a comfort or a pleasure to me to be sick and bedridden? No, said the other, I do not; but I’ll tell you the truth: for the last seven years you have been annoying us. I am one o’ the good people; an.’ As I have a regared for you, I’m come to let you know the raison why you’ve been ill, if you’ll take the thrubble to remember, your childre threwn out yer dirty wather afther dusk an’ before sunrise, at the very time we’re passin’ yer door, which we pass twice a day. Now; if you avoid this, if you throw it out in a different place, an at a different time, the complaint you have will lave you; so will the gnawin’ at the heart; an’ you’ll be as well as ever you wor. If you don’t follow this advice, why, remain as you are an’ all the art o’ man can’t cure you. She then bade her good-bye and disappeared. Kitty, who was glad to be cured on such easy terms, immediately complied with the injunction of the fairy; and the consequence was, that the next day she found herself in as good health as ever she enjoyed during her life.


The White Trout, A legend of Cong

S. Lover

There was wanst upon a time, long ago, a beautiful lady that lived in a castle upon the lake beyant, and they say she was promised to a king’s son, and they wor to be married, when all of a sudden he was murthered, the crathur (Lord help us), and threwn into the lake above, and so, of course, he couldn’t keep his promise to the fair lady—and more’s the pity. Well, the story goes that she went out iv her mind, because av loosin’ the king’s son—for she was tendher-hearted, God help her, like the rest if us!—and pined away afer him , until at last, no one about seen her, good or bad; and the story wint that the fairies took her away. Well, sir, in coorse o’ time, the White Throut, God bless it, was seen in the sthrame beyant, and sure the people didn’t know what to think av the crathur, seein’ as how a white throut was never heard av afore, nor since’ and years upon years the throut was there, just where you seen it this blessed minit, longer nor I can tell--- aye throth, and beyant the memory o’ th’ ouldest in the village. At last the people began to think it must be a fairy; for what else could it be?—and no hurt nor harm was iver put an the white throut, until some wicked sinners of sojers kem to these parts, and laughed at all the people a’, and gibed and jeered them for thinkin’ o the likes; and one o’ them in partic’lar (had luck to him; God forgi’ me for saying it!) swore he’d catch the throut and ate it for his dinner-the blackguard! Well, what would yout hink o’ the villainy of the sojer? Sure enough he cotch the throut, and away wid him home, and puts an the fryin’-pan, and into it he pitches the purty little thing. The throut squeeled all as one as a Christian crathur, and, my dear, you’d think the sojer id split his sides laughin’- for he was a harden’d villain; and when he thought one side was done, he turns it over to froy the other; and, what would you think, but the divil a taste of a burn was an it all at all; and sure the sojer thought it was a quare throut that coiuld not be briled. But, says he, I'’l give it another turn by and by, little thinkin'’what was in store for him, the haythen. Well,, when he throught that side was done he turns it again, and lo and behold you, divil a taste more done that side was nor the other. Bad luck to me, says the sojer, but that bates the world, says he; but I’ll thry you again, by darlint, says he, as cunnin’ as you think yourself; and so with that he turns it over, but not a sign of the fire was on the purty throut. Well, says the desperate villain-(for sure, sir, only he was a desperate villain entirely, he might know he was doin a wrong thing, seein’ that all his endeavors was no good)—Well, says he, my jolly little throut, maybe yo’re fired enough, though you don’t seem over well dress’d; but you may be better than you look, like a singed cat, and a tit-bit afther all, says he; and with that he ups with his knife and fork to taste a piece o’ the throut; but, my jew’l the minit he puts his knife into the fish, there was a murtherin’ screech, that you’d think the life id have you if you hurd it, and away jumps the throut out av the fryin-pan into the middle o’ the flure; and an the spot where it fell, up riz a lovely lady—the beautifullest crathur that eyes ever seen, dressed in white, and a band o’ gold in her hair, and a sthrame o’ blood runnin’ down her arm. Look where you cut me, you villain, says she, and she held out her arm to him—and ,my dear, he thought the sight id lave his eyes. Couldn’t you lave me cool and comfortable in the river where you snared me, and not disturb me in my duty/ says she. Well, he thrimbled like a dog in a wet sack, and at last he stammered out somethin’, and begged for his life , and ax’d her ladyship’s pardin, and said he didn’t know she was on duty, or he was too good a sojer not to know betther nor to meddle wid her. I was on duty, then, says the lady; I was watchin’ for my true love that is comin’ by wather to me, says she, an’ if he comes while I’m away, an’ that I miss iv him, I’ll turn you into a pinkeen, and I’ll haunt you up and down for evermore, while grass grows or wather runs. Well the sojer thought the life id lave him, at the thoughts iv his bein’ turned into a pinkeen, and begged for mercy; and with that says the lady—Renounce your evil coorses, says she, you villain, or you’ll repint it too late; be a good man for the further, and go to your duty reg’lar, and now, says she, take me back and put me into the river again where you found me. Oh, my lady, says the sojer, how could I have the heart to drownd a beautiful lady like you? But before he could say another word, the lady was vanished, and there he saw the little throut an the ground. Well he put it in a clean plate, and away he runs for the bare life, for fear her lover would come while she was away; and he run, and he run, even till he came to the cave again, and threw the throut into the river. The minit he did, the wather was as red a blood for a little while, by rayson av the cut, I suppose, until the sthrame washed the stain away; and to this day there’s a little red mark an the throut’s side where it was acut. Well, sir, from that day out the sojer was an altered man, and reformed his ways, his duty reg’lar and fasted three times a –week-though it was never fish he tuk an fastin’ days, for afther the fright he got, fish id never rest an his stomach-savin’ your presence. But anyhow, he was an altered man as I said before, and in coorse o’ time he left the army, and turned hermit at last; and they say he used to pray evermore for the soul of the White Throut. ("going to his duty"= atttendance at the confessional).


A Donegal Fairy

Letitia Maclintock

Ay, it’s a bad thing to displeasure the gentry, sure enough—they can be unfriendly if they’re angered an’ they can be the very best o’ gude neighbours if they’re treated kindly. My mother’s sister was her lone in the house one day, wi’ a big pot o’ water boiling on the fire and ane o’ the wee folk fell down the chimney, and slipped wi his leg in the hot water. He let a terrible squeal out o’ him an’in a minute the house was full o’ wee crathurs pulling him out o’ the pot an’ carrying him across the floor. Did she scald you ? my aunt heard them saying to him. Na, na, it was mysel scalded my ainsel, quoth the wee fellow. A weel, a weel, says they. If it was your ainsel scalded yours’ we’ll say nothing, but if she had scalded you, we’d ha’ made her pay.


The Brewery of Egg-shells

T. Crofton Croker

Mrs. Sullivan fancied that her youngest child had been exchanged by fairies theft, and certainly appearances warranted such a conclusion; for in one night her healthy, blue-eyed boy had become shrivelled up into almost nothing, and never ceased squalling and crying. This naturally made poor Mrs. Sullivan very unhappy; and all the neighbours, by way of comforting her, said that her own child was, beyond any kind of doubt, with the good people, and that one of themselves was put in his place. Mrs. Sullivan of course could not disbelieve what every one told her, but she did not wish to hurt the thing; for although its face was so withered , and its body wasted away to a mere skeleton, it had still a strong resemblance to her own boy. She, therefore, could not find it in her heart to roast it alive on the griddle, or to burn its nose off with the red-hot tongs, or to throw it out in the snow on the road-side, notwithstanding these, and several like proceedings, were strongly recommended to her for the recovery of her child. One day who should Mrs. Sullivan meet but a cunning woman well known about the country by the name of Ellen Leah (or Grey Ellen). She had the gift, however, she got it, of telling where the dead were, and what was good for the rest of their souls; and could charm away warts and woens, and do a great many wonderful things of the same nature. You'’re in grief this morning, Mrs. Sullivan, were the first words of Ellen Leah to her. You many say that, Ellen, said Mrs. Sullivan, and good cause I have to be in Grief, for there was my own fine child whipped off from me out of his cradle, without as much as by your leave or ask your pardon, and an ugly dony bit of a shirvelled-up fairy put in his place; no wonder, then, that you see me in grief, Ellen. Small blame to you, Mrs. Sullivan, said Ellen Leah, but are you sure t’is a fairy? Sure! Echoed Mrs. Sullivan sure enough I am to my sorrow, and can I doubt my own two eyes? Every mother’s soul must feel for me! Will you take an old woman’s advice? Said Ellen Leah, fixing her wild and mysterious gaze upon the unhappy mother; and, after a pause, she added, but maybe you’ll call it foolish? Can you get me back my child, my own child, Ellen? Said Mrs. Sullivan with great energy. If you do as I bid you, returned Ellen Leah, you’ll know. Mrs. Sullivan was silent in expectation, and Elen continued. Put down the big pot full of water on the fire, and make it boil like mad; then get a dozen new-laid eggs, break them, and keep the shells, but throw away the rest; when that is done, put the shells in the pot of boiling water, and you will soon know whether it is your own boy or a fairy. If you find that it is a fairy in the cradle, take the red-hot poker and cram it down his ugly throat, and you will not have much truble with him after that. I promise you. Home went Mrs. Sullivan, and did as Ellen Leah desired. She put the pot on the fire, and plenty of turf under it, and set the water boiling at such a rate, that if ever water was red-hot, it surely was. The child was lying, for a wonder, quite easy and quiet in the cradle, every now and then cocking his eye, that would twinkle as keen as a star in a frosty night, over at the great fire, and the big pot upon it; and he looked on with great attention at Mrs. Sulivan breaking the eggs and putting down the egg-shells to boil. At last he asked, with the voice of a very old man. What are you doing mammy? Mrs. Sullivan’s heart, as she said herself, was up in her mouth ready to choke her, at hearing the child speak. But she contrived to put the poker in the fire, and to answer, without making any wonder at the words, I’m brewing, a vick (my son). And what are you brewing, mammy/ said the little imp, whose supernatural gift of speech now proved beyond question that he was a fairy substitute. I wish the poker was red, thought Mrs. Sullivan; but it was a large one and took a long time heating; so she determined to keep him in talk until the poker was in a proper state to thrust down his throat, and therefore repeated the question. Is it what I’m brewing, a vick, said she, you want to know? Yes, mammy: What are you brewing returned the fairy Egg-shells, a vick, said Mrs. Sullivan. Oh! Shrieked the imp, staring up in the cradle, and clapping his hands together, I’m fifteen hundred years in the world and I never saw a brewery of egg-shells before! The poker was by this time quite red, and Mrs. Sullivan seizing it, ran furiously towards the cradle; but somehow or other her foot slipped and she fell flat on the floor, and the poker flew out of her hand to the other end of the house. However, she got up without much loss of time and went to the cradle, intending to pitch the wicked thing that was in it into the pot of boiling water, when there she saw her own child in a sweet sleep, one of his soft round arms rested upon the pillow-his features were as placid as if their repose had never been disturbed, save the rosy mouth, which moved with a gentle and regular breathing.



Far Darrig in Donegal

Pat Driver, the tinker, was a man well-accustomed to a wandering life, and to strange shelters; he had shared the beggar’s blanket in smoky cabins; he had crouched beside the still in many a nook and corner where poteen was made on the wild Innishowen mountains; he had even slept on the bare heather, or on the ditch, with no roof over him but the vault of heaven; yet were all his nights of adventure tame and commonplace when compared with the one especial night. During the day preceding that night, he had mended all the kettles and saucepans in Moville and Greencastle, and was on his way to Culdaff, when night overtook him on a lonely mountain road. He knocked at one door after another asking for a night’s lodging, while he jingled the halfpence in his pocket, but was everywhere refused. Where was the boasted hospitality of Innishowen, which he had never before known to fail? It was of no use to be able to pay when the people seemed so churlish. Thus thinking he made his way towards a light a little farther on, and knocked at another cabin door. An old man and woman were seated one at each side of the fire. Will you be pleased to give me a night’s lodging sir? Asked Pat respectfully. Can you tell a story? Returned the old man. No, then, sir I canna say I’m good at story-telling, replied the puzzled tinker. Then you maun just gang farther, for none but them that can tell a story will get in here. This reply was made in so decided a tone that Pat did not attempt to repeat his appeal, but turned away reluctantly to resume his weary journey. A story, indeed, muttered he. Auld wives fables to please the weans! As he took up his bundle of tinkering implements, he observed a man standing rather behind the dwelling- house, and, aided by the rising moon, he made his way towards it. It was a clean, roomy barn, with a piled-up heap of straw in one corner. Here was a shelter not to be despised; so Pat crept under the straw and was soon asleep. He could not have slept very long when he was awakened by the tramp of feet, and, peeping cautiously through a crevice in his straw covering, he saw four immensely tall men enter the barn, dragging a body which they threw roughly upon the floor. They next lighted a fire in the middle of the barn, and fastened the corpse by the feet with a great rope to a beam in the roof. One of them began to turn it slowly before the fire. Come on, said he, addressing a gigantic fellow, the tallest of the four-I’m tired; you be to tak’ your turn. Faix an’ troth, I’ll no’ turn him, replied the big man. There’s Pat Diver in under the straw, why wouldn’t he tak’ his turn? With hideous clamour the four men called the wretched Pat, who seeing there was no escape, thought it was his wisest plan to come forth as he was bidden. Now, Pat, said they, You’ll turn the corpse, but if you let him burn you’ll be tied up there and roasted in his place. Pat’s hair stood on end, and the cold perspiration poured from his forehead, but there was nothing for it but to perform his dreadful task. Seeing him fairly embarked in it, the tall men went away. Soon, however, the flames rose so high as to singe the rope, and the corpse fell with a great thud upon the fire, scattering the ashes and embers, and extracting a howl of anguish from the miserable cook, who rushed to the door, and ran for his life. He ran on until he was ready to drop with fatigue, when, seeing a drain overgrown with tall, rank grass, he thought he would creep in there and lie hidden till morning. But he was not many minutes in the drain before he heard the heavy tramping again, and the four men came up with their burthen, which they laid down on the edge of the drain. I’m tired, said one, to the giant; it’s your turn to carry him apiece now. Faix and troth, I’ll no’ carry him, replied he, but there’s Pat Diver in the drain why wouldn’t he come out and tak’ his turn? Come out, Pat, come out, roared all the men, and Pat, almost dead with fright, crept out. He staggered on under weight of the corpse until he reached Kiltown Abbey, a ruin festooned with ivy, where the brown owl hooted all night long, and the forgotten dead slept around the walls under dense, matted tangles of brambles and ben-weed. No one ever buried there now, but Pat’s tall companions turned into the wild graveyard, and began digging a grave. Pat, seeing them thus engaged, thought he might once more try to escape, and climbed up into a hawthorn tree in the fence hoping to be hidden in the boughs. I’m tired, said the man who was digging the grave, here take the spade, addressing the big man. It’s your turn. Faix an’ troth, it’s no’ my turn, replied he, as before. There’s Pat Diver in the tree, why wouldn’t he come down and tak’ his turn? Pat came down to take the spade, but just then the cocks in the little farmyards and cabins round the abbey began to crow, and the men looked at one another. We must go, said they, and well is it for you, Pat Diver, that the cocks crowed, for if they had not, you’d just ha’ been bundled into that grave with the corpse. Two months passed, and Pat had wandered far and wide over the county Donegal, when he chanced to arrive at Raphoe during a fair. Among the crowd that filled the Diamond he came suddenly on the big man. How are you , Pat Diver? Said he, bending down to look into the tinker’s face. You’ve the advantage of me, sir, for I havna’ the pleasure of knowing you, faltered Pat. Do you not know me, Pat? Whisper—When you go back to Innishowen, you’ll have a story to tell!



The Piper and the Puca

Douglas Hyde

In the old times, there was a half fool living in Dunmore, in the county Galway, and although he was excessively fond of music, he was unable to learn more than one tune, and that as the Black Rogue. He used to get a good deal of money from the gentlemen, for they used to get sport out of him. One night the piper was coming home from a house where there had been a dance, and he half drunk. When he came to a little bridge that was up by his mother’s house, he squeezed the pipes on, and began playing the Black Rogue (an rogaire dubh). The Puca came behind him, and flung him up on his own back. There were long horns of the Puca, and the piper got a good grip of them, and then he said- Destruction on you, you nasty beast, let me home. I have a ten-penny piece in my pocket for my mother, and she wants snuff. Never mind your mother, said the Puca, but keep your hold. If you fail, you will break your neck and your pipes. Then the Puca said to him, Play up for me the Shan Van Vocht (an t-seann-bhean-bhocht). I don’t know it, said the piper. Never mind whether you do or you don’t, said the Puca. Play up, and I’ll make you know. The piper put wind in his bag, and he played such music as made himself wonder. Upon my word, you’re a fine music-master, says the piper then; but tell me where you’re for bringing me. There’s a great feat in the house of the Banshee, on the top of Croagh Patric tonight, says the Puca, and I’m for bringing you there to play music, and, take my word, you’ll get the price of your trouble. By my word, you’ll save me a journey, then, says the piper, for Father William put a journey to Croagh Patric on me, because I stole the white gander from him last Martinmas. The Puca rushed him across hills and bogs and rough places, till he brought him to the top of Croagh Patric. Then the Puca struck three blows with his foot, and a great door opened, and they passed in together, into a fine room. The piper saw a golden table in the middle of the room, and hundreds of old women (cailleacha) sitting round about it. The old woman rose up, and said, A hundred thousand welcomes to you, you Puca of November (na Samhna). Who is this you have brought with you? The best piper in Ireland, says the Puca. One of the old women struck a blow on the ground, and a door opened in the side of the wall, and what should the piper see coming out but the white gander which he had stolen from Father William. By my conscience, then, says the piper, myself and my mother ate every taste of that gander, only one wing, and I gave that to Moy-rua (Red Mary), and it’s she told the priest I stole his gander. The gander cleaned the table and carried it away, and the Puca said, Play up music for these ladies. The piper played up, and the old women began dancing and they were dancing till they were tired. Then the Puca said to pay the piper, and every old woman drew out a gold piece, and gave it to him. By the tooth of Patric, said he, I’m as rich as the son of a lord. Come with me, says the Puca and I’ll bring you home. They went out then, and just as he was going to ride on the Puca, the gander came up to him , and gave him a new set of pipes. The puca was not long until he brought him to Dunmore, and he threw the piper off at the little bridge, and then he told him to go home, and says to him. You have two things now that you never had before-you have sense and music (ciall agus ceol) The piper went home, and he knocked at his mother’s door, saying, Let me in, I’m as rich as a lord, and I’m the best piper in Ireland. You’re drunk, said the mother. No, indeed, says the piper, I haven’t drunk a drop. The mother let him in, and he gave her the gold pieces, and, Wait now, says he, till you hear the music I’ll play. He buckled on the pipes, but instead of music, there came a sound as if all the geese and ganders in Ireland were screeching together. He awakened the neighbours and they all were mocking him, until he put on the old pipes, and then he played melodious music for them; and after that he told them all he had gone through that night. The next morning, when his mother went to look at the gold pieces, there was nothing there but the leaves of a plant. The piper went to the priest, and told him his story, but the priest would not believe a word from him, until he put the pipes on him, and then the screeching of the ganders and geese began. Leave my sight, you thief, said the priest. But nothing would do the piper till he would put the old pipes on him to show the priest that his story was true. He buckled on the old pipes, and he played melodious music, and from that day till the day of his death, there was never a piper in the county Galway was as good as he was.




The Kildare Pooka

Patrick Kennedy

Mr. H—R--, when he was alive, used to live a good deal in Dublin, and he was once a great while out of the country on account of the ninety-eight business. But the servants kept on in the big house at Rath—all the same as if the family was at home. Well, they used to be frightened out of their lives after going to their beds with the banging of the kitchn-door, and the clattering of fire-irons, and the pots and plates and dishes. One evening they sat up ever so long, keeping one another in heart with telling stories about ghosts and fetches, and that when—what would you have it?—the little scullery boy that used to be sleeping over the horses, and could not get room at the fire, crept into the hot hearth, and when he got tired listening to the stories, sorra fear him, but he fell dead asleep. Well and good, after they were all gone and the kitchen fire raked up, he was woke with the noise of the kitchen door opening, and the trampling of an ass on the kitchen floor. He peeped out, and what should he see but a big ass, sure enough, sitting on his curabingo and yawning before the fire. After a little he looked about him, and began scratching his ears, as if he was quite tired, and says he, I may as well begin first as last. The poor boy’s teeth began to chatter in his head, for says he, Now he’s goin’ to ate me; but the fellow with the long ears and tail on him had something else to do. He stirred the fire, and then he brought in a pail of water from the pup, and filled a big pot that he put on the fire before he went out. He then put in his hand—foot, I mean—into the hot hearth, and pulled out the little boy. He let a roar out of him with the fright, but the pooka only looked at him, and thrust out his lower lip to show how little he valued him, and then he pitched him into his pew again. Well, he then lay down before the fire till he heard the boil coming on the water, and maybe there wasn’t a plate, or a dish, or a spoon on the dresser that he didn’t fetch and put into the pot, and wash and dry the whole bilin’ of ‘em as well as e’er a kitchen-maid from that to Dublin town. He then put all of them upon their places on the shelves; and if he didn’t give a good sweepin’ to the kitchen, leave it till again. Then he comes and sits forment the boy, let down one of his ears, and cocked up the other, and gave a grin. The poor fellow strove to roar out, but not a dheeg ‘ud came out of the throat. The last thing the pooka done was to rake up the fire, and walk out, giving such a slap o’ the door, that the boy thought the house couldn’t help tumbling down. Well, to be sure if there wasn’t a hullabullo next morning when the poor fellow told his story! They could talk of nothing else the whole day. One said one thing, another said another, but a fat, lazy scullery girl said the wittiest thing of all. Musha! Says she, if the pooka does be cleaning up everything that way when we are asleep what should we be slaving ourselves for doing his work? Shu gu dheine, (yes indeed), says another;’ them’s the wisest words you ever said, Kauth; it’s meeself won’t contradict you. So said, so done. Not a bit of a plate or dish saw a drop of water that evening, and not a besom was laid on the floor, and every one went to bed soon after sundown. Next morning everything was as fine as fine in the kitchen, and the lord mayor might eat his dinner off the flags. It was great ease to the lazy servants, you may depend, and everything went on well till a foolhardy gag of a boy said he would stay up one night and have a chat with the pooka. He was a little daunted when the door was thrown open and the ass marched up to the fire. An’ then, sir says he, at last, picking up courage, if it isn’t taking a liberty, might I ax who you are , and why you are so kind as to do half of the day’s work for the girls every night? No liberty at all, says the pooka, says he: I’ll tell you, and welcome. I was a servant in the time of Squire R’s father, and was the laziest rogue that ever was clothed and fed, and done nothing for it. When my time came for the other world, this is the punishment was laid on me- to come here and do all this labour every night, and then go out in the cold. It isn’t so bad in the fine weather; but if you only knew what it is to stand with your head between your legs, facing the storm from midnight to sunrise, on a bleak winter night. And could we do anything for your comfort, my poor fellow? Says the boy. Musha, I don’t know, says the pooka; but I think a good quilted frieze coat would help to keep the life in me them long nights. Why then, in troth, we’d be the ungratefullest of people if we didn’t feel for you. To make a long story short, the next night but two the boy was there again; and if he didn’t delight the poor pooka holding up a fine warm coat before him, it’s no mather! Betune the pooka and the man, his legs was got into the four arms of it, and it was buttoned down the breast and the belly, and he was so pleased he walked up to the glass to see how he looked. Well, says he, it’s a long lane that has no turning. I am much obliged to you and your fellow-servants. You have made me happy at last. Good-night to you. So he was walking out, but the other cried, Och! Sure youre going too soon. What about the washing and sweeping? Ah, you may tell the girls that they must now get their turn. My punishment was to last till I was thought worthy of a reward for the way I done my duty. You’ll see me no more. And no more they did, and right sorry they were for having been in such a hurry to reward the ungrateful pooka.



How Thomas Connolly Met the Banshee

J. Todhunter

Aw, the banshee, sir? Well, sir, as I was striving to tell ye I was going home from work one day, from Mr. Cassidy’s that I would tell ye of, in the dusk o’ the evening. I had more not a mile—aye, it was nearer twoi mile-to thrack to, where I was lodgin’ with a dacent widdy woman I knew, Biddy Maguire be name, so as to be near me work. It was the first week in November, an’ a lonesome road I had to travel, an’ dark enough, wid threes above it; an’ about half-ways there was a bit of a brudge I had to cross, over one o’ them little sthrames that runs into the Doddher. I walked on in the middle iv the road, for there was no toe-path at that time, Misther Harry, nor for many a long day afther that; but, as I wasa sayin’. I walked along till I come night upon thebrudge, where the road was a bit open, an’ there, right enough, I seen the hog’s back o’ the ould-fashioned brudge that used to be there till it was pulled down, an’ a white mist steamin’ up out o’ the wather all around it. Well, now, Misther Harry, often as I’d passed by the place before, that night it seemed sthrange to me, an'’like a place ye might see in a dhrame; and as'’I come up to it I began to feel a cowld wind blowin'’through the hollow o’ me heart. Musha Thomas, sez I to meself, is it yerself that’s in it? Sez I; so I put a bould face on it ,an ‘ I made a sthruggle to set one leg afore the other, ontil I came to the rise o’ the brudge. And there, God be good to us! In a cantle o’ the wall I seen an ould woman, as I thought, sittin’ on her hunkers, all crouched together, an’ her head bowed down, seemin’ly in the greatest affliction. Well, sir, I pitied the ould craythur, an thought I wasn’t worth a thraneen, for the mortial fright I was in, I up an’ sez to her, That’s a cowld lodgin’ for ye, ma’am. Well, the sorra ha’porth she sez to that, nor tuk no more notice o’ me than if I hadn’t let a word out o’ me, but kep’ rockin’ herself to an’ fro, as if her heart was breakin’; so I sez to her again, Eh, ma’am, is there anythin’ the matther wid ye? An’ I made for to touch her on the showldher, on’ly somethin’ stopt me, for as I looked closer at her I saw she was no more an ould woman nor she was an ould cat. The first thing I tuk notice to, Misther Harry, was her hair, that was sthreelin’ down over her showldhers, an’ a good yard on the ground on aich side of her. O, be the holy farmer, but that was the hair! The likes of it I never seen on mortial woman, young or ould, before nor sense. It grew as sthrong out of her as out of e’er a young slip of a girl ye could see; but the colour of it was a misthery to describe. The first squint I got of it I thought it was silbery grey, like an ould crone’s but when I got up beside her I saw, be the glance o’ the sky it was a soart iv an Iscariot colour, an’ a shine out of it like floss silk. It ran over her showldhers and the two shapely arms she was lanin’ her head on, for all the world like Mary Magdelen’s in a picther; and then I persaved that the grey cloak and the green gownd undhernaith it was made of no earthly matarial I ever laid eyes on. Now, I needn’t tell ye, sir, that I seen all this in the twinkle of a bed-post-long as I take to make the narration of it. So I made a step back from her, an’ The Lord be betune us an harm! Sez I, out loud, an’ wid that I blessed meself. Well, Misther Harry, the word wasn’t out o’ me mouth afore she turned her face on me. Aw, Misther Harry, but ‘twas that was the awfullest apparation ever I seen, the face of her as she looked up at me! God forgive me for sayin’ it, but ‘twas more like the face of the Axy Homo beyand in Marlboro Sthreet Chapel nor like any face I could mintion—as pale as a corpse, an’ a most o’ freckles on it, like the freckles on a turkey’s egg an’ the two eyes sewn in wid thread, from the terrible power o’ crying the’ had to do; an’ such a pair iv eyes as the’ wor, Misther Harry, as blue as two forget-me nots, an’ as cowld as the moon in a boghole of a frosty night, an’ a dead-an’-live look in them that sent a cowld shiver through the marra o’ me bones. Be the mortial! Ye could ha’ rung a tay cupful o’ cowld paspiration out o’ the hair o’ me head that minute, so ye could. Well, I thought the life ‘ud lave me intirely when she riz up from her hunkers, till, bedad! She looked mostly as tall as Nelson’s Pillar; an’ wid the two eyes gazin’ back at me, an’ her two arms stretched out before her, an’ a keine out of her that riz the hair o’ me scalp till it was as stiff as the hog’s bristles in a new hearth broom, away she glides-glides round the angle o’ the brudge, an’ down with her into the sthrame that ran undhernaith it. ‘twas then I began to suspect what she was. Wisha, Thomas! Says I to meself, sez I; an’ I make a great struggle to get me two legs into a throt, in spite o’ the spavin o’ fright the pair o’ them wor in; an’ how I brought meself home that same night the Lord in heaven only knows, for I never could tell; but I must ha’ tumbled agin the door, and shot in head foremost into the middle o’ the flure, whre I lay in a dead swoon for mostly an hour; and the first I knew was Mrs. Maguire stannin’ over me with a jorum o’ punch she was pourin’ down me throath (throat), to bring back the life into me, an’ me head in a pool of cowld wather she dashed over me in her first fright. Arrah, Misther Connolly, bhashee, what ails ye? Shashee, to put the scare on a lone woman like that? Shashee. Am I in this world or the next? Sez I. Musha! Where else would ye be on’y here in my kitchen? Shashee. O, glory be to God! Sez I, but I thought I was in Purgathory at the laste, not to mintion an uglier place, sez I, only it’s too cowld I find meself, an’ not too hot, sez I. Faix,an’ maybe ye wor more nor half-ways there on’y for me, shashee; but what’s come to you at all, at all? Is it your fetch ye seen, Mister Connolly? Aw, naboclish! (don’t mind it) sez I. Never mind what I seen, sez I. So be degrees I began to come to a little; an’ that’s the way I met the banshee, Misther Harry! But how did you know it really was the banshee after all, Thomas? Begor, sir, I knew the apparition of her well enough; but ‘twas confirmed by a sarcumstance that occurred the same time. There was a Misther O’ Nales was come on a visit, ye must know, to a place in the neighbourhood-one o’ the ould O’Nales iv the county Tyrone, a rale ould Irish family—an’ the banshee was heard keening round the house that same night, be more than one that wa in it; an’ sure enough, Misther Harry, he was found dead in his bed the next mornin’. So if it wasn’t the banshee I seen that time, I’d like to know what else it could a’ been.



Grace Connor

Miss Letitia Mac Lintock

Thady and Grace Connor lived on the borders of a large turf bog, in the parish of Clondevaddock, where they could hear the Atlantic surges thunder in upon the shore, and see the wild storms of winter sweep over the Muckish mountain, and his rugged neighbours. Even in summer the cabin by the bog was dull and dreary enough. Thady Connor worked in the fields, and Grace made a livelihood as a peddler, carrying a basket of remnants of cloth, calico, drugget, and frieze about the country. The people rarely visited any large town, and found it convenient to buy from Grace, who was welcomed in many a lonely house, where a table was hastily claared, and she might display her wares. Being considered a very honest woman, she was frequently entrusted with commissions to the shops in Letterkenny and Ramelton. As she set out twords home, her basket was generally laden with little gifts for her children. Grace, dear, would one of the kind housewifes say, here’s a farrel (a cake with three pieces) of oaten cake, wi’ a taste o’ butter on it; tak’it wi’ you for the weans; or,. Here’s half-a-dozen of eggs; you’ ve a big family to support. Small Connors of all ages crowded round the weary mother, to rifle her basket of these gifts. But her thrifty, hard life came suddenly to an end. She died after an illness of a few hours, and was waked and buried as handsomely as Thady could afford. Thady was in bed the night after the funeral, and the fire still burned brightly, when he saw his departed wife across the room and bend over the cradle. Terrified, he muttered rapid prayers covered his face with the blanket; and on looking up again the appearance was gone. Next night he lifted the infant out of the cradle, and laid it behind him in the bed, hoping thus to escape his ghostly visitor; but Grace was presently in the room , and stretching over him to wrap up her child. Shrinking and shuddering the poor man exclaimed, Grace, woman, what is it brings you back? What is it you want wi’ me? I want naething fae you, Thaddy, but to put the wean back in her cradle, replied the spectre, in a tone of scorn. You’re too feared for me, but my sister Rose willna be feared for me—tell her to meet me tomorrow evening, in the old wallsteads. Rose lived with her mother, about a mile off, but she obeyed her sister’s summons without the least fear, and kept the strange tryste in due time. Rose, dear, she said, as she appeared before her sister in the old wallsteads, my mind’s oneasy about them twa’ red shawls that’s in the basket. Matty Hunter and Jane Taggart paid me for them, an’ I bought them wi’ their money., Friday was eight days. Gie them the shawls the morrow. An’ old Mosey M’Corkel gied me the price o’ a wiley coat; it’s in under the other things in the basket. An’ now farewell; I can get to my rest. Grace, Grace, bide a wee minute, cried the faithful sister, as the dear voice grew fainter, and the dear face began to fade-Grace, darling! Thady? The children? One word mair! But neither cries nor tears could further detain the spirit hastening to its rest!



The Black Lamb

Lady Wilde

It is a custom amongst the people, when throwing away water at night, to cry out in a loud voice, take care of the water; or literally, from the Irish, Away with yourself from the water—for they say that the spirits of the dead last buried are then wandering about, and it would be dangerous if the water fell on them. One dark night a woman suddenly threw out a pail of boiling water without thinking of the warning words. Instantly a cry was heard, as of a person in pain, but no one was seen. However, the next night a black lamb entered the house, having the back all fresh scalded, and it lay down moaning by the hearth and died. Then they all knew that this was the spirit that had been scalded by the woman, and they carried the dead lamb out reverently, and buried it deep in the earth. Yet every night at the same hour it walked again into the house, and lay down, moaned, and died; and after this had happened many times, the priest was sent for, and finally, by the strength of his exorcism, the spirit of the dead was laid to rest; the black lamb appeared no more. Neither was the body of the dead lamb found in the grave when they searched for it, though it had been laid by their own hands deep in the earth, and covered with clay.


The Radiant Boy

Mrs. Crow

Captain Stewart, afterwards Lord Castlereagh, when he was a young man, happened to be quartered in Ireland. He was fond of sport, and one day the pursuit of game carried him so far that he lost his way. The weather, too, had become very rough, and in this strait he presented himself at the door of a gentleman’s house, and sending in his card, requested shelter for the night. The hospitality of the Irish country gentry is proverbial; the master of the house received him warmly; and he feared he could not make him so comfortable as he could have wished, his house being full of visitors already, added to which some strangers, driven by the inclemency of the night, had sought shelter before him, but such accommodation as he could give he was heartily welcome to; whereupon he called his butler, and committing the guest to his good offices, told him he must put him up somewhere, and do the best he could for him. There was no lady, the gentleman being a widower. Captain Stewart found the house crammed ,and a very jolly party it was. His host invited him to stay, and promised him good shooting if he would prolong his visit a few days; and, in fine, he thought himself extremely fortunate to have fallen into such pleasant quarters. At length, after an agreeable evening, they all retired to bed, and the butler conducted him to a large room, almost divested of furniture, but with a blazing turf fire in the grate, and a shake-down on the floor, composed of cloaks and other heterogeneous materials. Nevertheless, to the tired limbs of Captain Stewart, who had had a hard day’s shooting, it looked very inviting; but before he lay down, he thought it advisable to take off some of the fire, which was blazing up the chimney in what he thought an alarming manner. Having done this, he stretched himself on his couch and soon fell asleep. He believed he had slept about a couple of hours when he awoke suddenly, and was startled by such a vivid light in the room that he thought it on fire, but on turning to look at the grate he saw the fire was out, though it was from the chimney the light proceeded. He sat up in bed, trying to discover what it was when he perceived the form of a beautiful naked boy, surrounded by a dazzling radiance. The boy looked at him earnestly and then the vision faded, and all was dark. Captain Stewart, so far from supposing what he had seen to be of a spiritual nature, had no doubt that the host, or the visitors, had been trying to frighten him. Accordingly, he felt indignant at the liberty, and on the following morning, when he appeared at breakfast, he took care to evince his displeasure by the reserve of his demeanor, and by announcing his intention to depart immediately. The host expostulated, reminding him of his promise to stay and shoot. Captain Stewart coldly excused himself, and at length, the gentleman seeing something was wrong, took him aside, and pressed for an explanation; whereupon Captain Stewart, without entering into particulars, said he had been made the victim of a sort of practical joking that he thought quite unwarrantable with a stranger. The gentleman considered this not impossible amongst a parcel of thoughtless young men, and appealed to them to make an apology; but one and all, on honor, denied the impeachment. Suddenly a thought seemed to strike him; he clapt his hand to his forehead, uttered an exclamation, and ran the bell. Hamilton, said he to the butler; where did Captain Stewart sleep last night? Well, sir, replied the man; you know every place was full-the gentlemen were lying on the floor three or four in a room-so I gave him the Boy’s Room; ; but I lit a blazing fire to keep him from coming out. You were very wrong, said the host; you know I have positively forbidden you to put anyone there, and have taken the furniture out of the room to ensure its not being occupied. Then retiring with Captain Stewart, he informed him, very gravely of the nature of the phenomena he had seen; and at length being pressed for further information, he confessed that there existed a tradition in the family, that whoever the Radiant boy appeared to will rise to the summit of power; and when he has reached the climax, will die a violent death, and I must say, he added, that the records that have been kept of his appearance go to confirm this persuasion.



Bewitched Butter (Donegal)

Miss. Letitia Maclintock

Not far from Rathmullen lived, last spring a family called Hanlon; and in a farm-house, some fields distant, people named Dogherty. Both families had good cows, but the Hanlons were fortunate in possessing a Kerry cow that gave more milk and yellower butter than the others. Grace Dogherty, a young girl, who was more admired than loved in the neighbourhood, took much interest in the Kerry cow, and appeared on night at Mrs. Hanlon’s door with the modest request- Will you let me milk your Moily (cow without horns)? An’ why was you wish to milk wee Moiley, Grace, dear, inquired Mrs. Hanlon. Oh, just because you’re sae throng at the present time. Thank you kindly, Grace, but I’m no too throng to do my ain work. I’ll no trouble you to milk. The girl turned away with a discontented air; but the next evening, and the next, found her at the cow-house door with the same request. At length Mrs. Hanlon, not knowing well how to persist in her refusal, yielded, and permitted Grace to milk the Kerry cow. She soon had reason to regret her want of firmness. Moiley gave no milk to her owner. When this melancholy state of things lasted for three days the Hanlons applied to a certain Mark McCarrion, who lived near Binton. That cow has been milked by someone with an evil eye, said he. Will she give you a wee drop, do you think? The full of a pint measure wad do. Oh, ay, Mark dear; I’ll get that much milk frae her, any way. Weel, Mrs. Hanlon, lock the door, an’ get nine new pins that was never used in clothes an’ put them into a saucepan wi’ the pint o’ milk. Set them on the fire, an’ let them come to the boil. The nine pins soon began to simmer in Moiley’s milk. Rapid steps were heard approaching the door, agitated knocks followed, and Grace Dogherty’s high-toned voice was raised in eager entreaty. Let me in, Mrs. Hanlon! She cried. Take off that cruel pot! Take out them pins, for they’re pricking holes in my heart, an’ I’ll never offer to touch milk of yours again.



The Witch Hare

Mr. And Mrs. S. C. Hall

I was out thraacking hares meeself, and I seen a fine puss of a thing hopping, hopping, in the moonlight, and whacking her ears about, now up, now down, and winking her great eyes, and---Here goes, says I, and the thing was so close to me that she turned round and looked at me , and then bounced back, as well as to say, do your worst! So I had the least grain in life of blessed powder left, and I put it in the gun- and bang at her! My jewel the scritch she gave would frighten a regiment, and a mist, like, came betwixt me and her, and I seen her no more, but when the mist wint off I saw blood on the spot where she had been , and I followed its track, and at last it led me—whist, whisper—right up to Katey MacShane’s door; and when I was at the thrashold, I opened the door, and there she was herself, sittin’ quite content in the shape of a woman, and the black cat that was sittin’ by here rose up its back and spit at me; but I went on never heedin’, and asked the ould---how she was and what ailed her. Nothing. Sis she. What’s that on the floor sis I. Oh, she says, I was cuttin’ a billet of wood, she says, wid the reaping hook, she says, an’ I’ve wounded mesel in the leg, she says, and that’s drops of my precious blood, she says.



The Horned Women

Lady Wilde

A rich woman sat up late one night carding and preparing wool, while all the family and servants were asleep. Suddenly a knock was given at the door, and a voice called—Open! Open! Who is there? Said the woman of the house. I am the Witch of the one Horn, was answered. The mistress, supposing that one of her neighbours had called and required assistance, opened the door, and a woman entered having in her hand a pair of wool carders, and bearing a horn on her forehead, as if growing there. She sat down by the fire in silence, and began to card the wool with violent haste. Suddenly she paused, and said aloud: Where are the women? They delay too long. Then a second knock came to the door, and a voice called as before, Open! Open! ?The mistress felt herself constrained to rise and open to the call, and immediately a second witch entered, having two horns on her forehead, and in her hand a wheel for spinning wheel. Give me place, she said, I am the Witch of the two horns, and she began to spin as quick as lightning. And so the knocks went on, and the call was heard, and the witches entered, until at least twelve women sat round the fire-the first with one horn, the last with twelve horns. And they carded the thread, and turned their spinning wheels, and wound and wove. All singing together an ancient rhyme, but no word did they speak to the mistress of the house. Strange to hear, and frightful to look upon, were these twelve women, with their horns and their wheels; and the mistress felt near to death, and she tried to rise that she might call for help, but she could not move, nor could she utter a word or a cry, for the spell of the witches was upon her. Then one of them called to her in Irish, and said---Rise, woman, and make us a cake. The mistress searched for a vessel to bring water from the well that she might mix the meal and make the cake, but she could find none. And they said to her, Take a sieve and bring water in it. And she took the sieve and went to the well; but the water poured from it, and she could fetch none for the cake, and she sat down by the well and wept. Then a voice came by her and said, Take yellow clay and moss and bind them together, and plaster the sieve so that will hold. This she did, and the sieve held water for the cake, and the voice said again- Return, and when thou comest to the north angle of the house, cry aloud three times and say. The mountain of the Fenian women and the sky over it is all on fire. And she did so. When the witches inside heard the call, a great and terrible cry broke from their lips, and they rushed forth with wild lamentation and shrieks, and fled away to Slievenamon, where was their chief abode. But the Spirit of the well bade the mistress of the house to enter and prepare her home against the enchantments of witches if they returned again. And first, to break their spells, she sprinkled the water in which she had washed her child'’s feet (the feet-water) outside the door on the threshold, secondly, she took the cake which the witches had made in her absence of meal mixed with the blood drawn from the sleeping family, and she broke the cake in bits, and placed a bit in the mouth of each sleeper, and they were restored; and she took the cloth they had woven and placed it half in and half out of the chest with the padlock; and lastly, she secured the door with a great crossbeam fastened in the jambs, so that they could not enter, and having done these things she waited. Not long were the witches in coming back, and they raged and called for vengeance. Open, Open! They screamed., open feet-water! I cannot, said the feet-water, I am scattered on the ground, and my path is down to the Lough. Open, open, wood and trees and beam! They cried to the door. I cannot, said the door, for the beam is fixed in the jambs and I have now power to move. Open, open, cake that we have made and mingled with blood! They cried again. I cannot, said the cake, for I am broken and bruised, and my blood is on the lips of the sleeping children. Then the witches rushed through the air with great cries and fled back to Slievenamon, uttering strange curses on the Spirit of the Well, who had wished their ruin; but the woman and the house were left in peace and a mantle dropped by one of the witches in her flight was kept hung up by the mistress as a sign of the night’s awful contest; and this mantle was in possession of the same family from generation to generation for five hundred years after.


The Witch’s Excursion

Patrick Kennedy

Shemus Rua (Red James) awakened from his sleep on night by noises in his kitchen. Stealing to the door, he saw half-a-dozen old women sitting round the fire, jesting and laughing, his old housekeeper, Madge, quite frisky and gay, helping her sister crones to cheering glasses of punch. He began to admire the impudence and imprudence of Madge, displayed in the invitation and the riot, but recollected on the instant her officiousness in urging him to take a comfortable posset, which she had brought to his bedside just before he fell asleep. Had he drunk it, he would have been just now deaf to the witches’ glee. He heard and saw them drink his health in such a mocking style as nearly to tempt him to charge them, besom in hand, but he restrained himself. The jug being emptied, one of them cried out, Is it time to be gone? And at the same moment, putting on a red cap, she added- By yarrow and rue, and my red cap too, Hie over to England. Making use of a twig which she held in her hand as a steed she gracefully soared up the chimney, and was rapidly followed by the rest. But when it came to the house-keeper, Shemus interposed. By your leave ma’am, said he, snatching twig and cap. Ah, you desateful ould crocodile! If I find you here on my return, there’ll be wigs on the green- By yarrow and rue, And my red cap too, Hie over to England. The words were not out of his mouth when he was soaring above the ridgepole, and swiftly ploughing the air. He was careful to speak no word (being somewhat conversant with witch-lore), as the result would be a tumble, and the immediate return of the expedition. In a very short time they had crossed the Wicklow hills, the Irish Sea and the Welsh mountains, and were charging, at whirlwind speed, the hall door of a castle. Shemus, only for the company in which he found himself, would have cried out for pardon expecting to be mummy against the hard oak door in a moment; but all bewildered, he found himself passing through the keyhole, along a passage, down a flight of steps, and through a cellar-door key-hole before he could form any clear idea of his situation. Waking to the full consciousness of his position, he found himself sitting on a stallion, plenty of lights glimmering round, and he and his companions, with full tumblers of frothing wine in hand, hob-nobbing and drinking healths as jovially and recklessly as if the liquor was honestly come by, and they were sitting in Shemus’s own kitchen. The red birredh (cap) has assimilated Shemus’s nature for the time being to that of his unholy companions. The heady liquours soon got into their brains, and a period of unconsciousness succeeded the ecstasy, the head-ache, the turning round of the barrels, and the scattered sight of poor Shemus. He woke up under the impression of being roughly seized, and shaken, and dragged up stairs, and subjected to a disagreeable examination by the lord of the castle, in his state parlour. There was much derision among the whole company, gentle and simple, on hearing Shamus’s explanation, and as the thing occurred in the dark ages, the unlucky Leinsterman was sentenced to be hung as soon as the gallows could be prepared for the occasion. The poor Hibernian was n the cart proceeding on his last journey, with a label on his back, and another on his breast, announcing him as the remorseless villain who for the last month had been draining the casks in my lord’s vault every night. He was surprised to hear himself addressed by his name and in his native tongue, by an old woman in the crowd. Ach, Shemus, alanna! Is it going to die you are in a strange place without your cappen d’yarrag?( red cap) These words infused hope and courage into the poor victim’s heart. He turned to the lord and humbly asked leave to die in his red cap, which he supposed had dropped from his head in the vault. A servant was sent for the head-piece, and Shemus felt lively hope warming his hear while placing it on his head. On the platform he was graciously allowed to address the spectators, which he proceeded to do in the usual formula composed for the benefit of flying stationers-Good people all, a warning take by me, but when he had finished the line, My Parents reared me tenderly, he unexpectedly added- By yarrow and rue, etc., and the disappointed spectators saw him shoot up obliquely through the air in the style of a sky-rocket that had missed its aim. It is said that the lord took the circumstance much to heart, and never afterwards hung a man for twenty-four hours after his offense.



The Legend of O’Donoghue

T.Crofton Croker

In an age so distant that the precise period is unknown, a chieftain named O’Donoghue ruled over the country which surrounds the romantic Loch Lean, now called the lake of Killarney. Wisdom, beneficence, and justice distinguished his reign , and the prosperity and happiness of his subjects were their natural results. He is said to have been as renowned for his warlike exploits as for his pacific virtues; and as a proof that his domestic administration was not the less rigorous because it was mild, a rocky island is pointed out to strangers, called O’ Donoghue’s Prison, in which this prince once confined his own son for some act of disorder and disobedience. His end—for it cannot correctly be called his death-was singular and mysterious. At one of those splendid feasts for which his court was celebrated, surrounded by the most distinguished of his subjects, he was engaged in a prophetic relation of the events which were to happen in ages yet to come. His auditors listened, now wrapt in wonder, now fired with indignation, burning with shame, or melted into sorrow, as he faithfully detailed the heroism, the injuries, the crimes, and the miseries of their descendants. In the midst of his predictions he rose slowly from his seat, advanced with a solemn, measured, and majestic tread into the shore of the lake, and walked forward composedly upon its unyielding surface. When he had nearly reached the center he paused for a moment, then, turning slowly round, looked toward his friends, and waving his arms to them with the cheerful air of one making a short farewell, disappeared from their view. The memory of the good O’Donoghue has been cherished by successive generations with affectionate reverence; and it is believed that at sunrise, on every May-day morning, the anniversary of his departure he revisits his ancient domains; a favored few only are in general permitted to see him , and this distinction is always an omen of good fortune to the beholders; when it is granted to many it is a sure token of an abundant harvest-a blessing, the want of which during this prince’s reign was never felt by his people. Some years have elapsed since the last appearance of O’Donoghue. The April of that year had been remarkably wild and stormy; but on May-morning the fury of the elements had altogether subsided. The air was hushed and still; and the sky which was reflected in the serene lake, resembled a beautiful but deceitful countenance, whose smiles, after the most tempestuous emotions, tempt the stranger to believe that it belongs to a soul which no passion has ever ruffled. The first beams of the rising sun were just gilding the lofty summit of Glennaa, when the waters near the eastern shore of the lake became suddenly and violently agitated, though all the rest of its surface lay smooth and still as a tomb of polished marble, the next morning a foaming wave darted forward, and, like a proud high-crested war-horse, exulting in his strength, rushed across the lake toward Toomies mountain. Behind this wave appeared a stately warrior fully armed, mounted upon a milk-white steed; his snowy plume waved gracefully from a helmet of polished steel, and at his back fluttered a light blue scarf. The horse apparently exulting in his noble burden, sprung after the wave along the water, which bore him up like a firm earth, while showers of spray that glittered brightly in the morning sun were dashed up at every bound. The warrior was O’Donoghue; he was followed by numberless youths and maidens, who moved lightly and unconstrained over the watery plain, as the moonlight fairies glide through the fields of air; they were linked together by garlands of delicious spring flowers, and they timed their movements to strains of enchanting melody. When O'’Donoghue had nearly reached the western side of the lake he suddenly turned his steed, and directed his course along the wood –fringed shore of Glenaa, preceded by the huge wave that curled and foamed up as high as the horse’s neck, whose fiery nostrils snorted above it. The long train of attendants followed with playful deviations the track of their leader, and moved on with unabated fleetness to their celestial music, till gradually , as they entered the narrow strait between Glenaa and Dinis, they became involved in the mists which still partially floated over the lakes, and faded from the view of the wondering beholders: but the sound of their music still fell upon the ear, and echo, catching up the harmonious strains, fondly repeated and prolonged them in soft and softer tones, till the last faint repetition died away, and the hearers awoke as from a dream of bliss.



Oh, ullagone! Ullagone! This is a wide world, but what will we do in it, or where will we go? Muttered Bill Doody, as he sat on a rock by the lake of Killarney. What will we do? Tomorrow’s rent-day, and Tim the Driver swears if we don’t pay our rent, he’ll cant every ha’perth we have; and then sure enough there’s Judy and myself, and the poor grawls, (children) will be turned out to starve on the high-road, for the never a halfpenny of rent have I!-Oh hone, what ever I should live to see this day! Thus did Bill Doody bemoan his hard fate, pouring his sorrows to the reckless waves of the most beautiful of lakes, which seemed to mock his misery as they rejoiced beneath the cloudless sky of a May morning. That lake, glittering in sunshine, sprinkled with fairy isles of rock and verdure, and bounded by giant hills of ever-varying hues, might with its magic beauty, charm all sadness but despair;’ for alas, How ill the scene that offers rest And heart that cannot rest agree! Yet Bill Doody was not so desolate as he supposed; there was one listening to him he little thought of, and help was at hand from a quarter he could not have expected. What’s the matter with you, my poor man? Said a tall, portly-looking gentleman, at the same time stepping out of a furze-brake. Now Bill was seated on a rock that commanded the view of a large field. Nothing in the field could be concealed from him ,except this furze-break, which grew in a hollow near the margin of the lake. He was, therefore, not a little surprised at the gentleman’s sudden appearance, and began to question whether the personage before him belonged to this world or not. He, however, soon mustered courage sufficient to tell him how his crops had failed, how some bad member had charmed away his butter, and how Tim the Driver threatened to turn him out of the farm if he didn’t pay up every penny of the rent by twelve o’clock next day. A sad story, indeed, said the stranger; but surely, if you represented the case to your landlord’s agent, he won’t have the heart to turn you out. Heart, your honour; where would an agent get a heart! Exclaimed Bill. I see your honour does not know him; besides, he has an eye on the farm this long time for a fosterer of his own; so I expect no mercy at all, only to be turned out. Take this, my poor fellow, take this, said the stranger, pouring a purse full of gold into Bill’s old hat, which in his grief he had flung on the ground. Pay the fellow your rent, but I’ll take care it shall do him no good. I remember the time when things went otherwise in this country when I would have hung up such a fellow in the twinkling of an eye! These words were lost upon Bill, who was insensible to everything but the sight of the gold, and before he could unfix his gaze, and lift up his head to pour out his hundred thousand blessings, the stranger was gone. The bewildered peasant looked around in search of his benefactor, and at last he thought he saw him riding on a white horse a long way off on the lake. O’Donoghue, O’Donoghue! Shouted Bill; the good, the blessed O’ Donoghue! And he ran capering like a madman to show Judy the gold, and to rejoice her heart with the prospect of wealth and happiness. The next day Bill proceeded to the agent’s not sneakingly, with his hat in his hand, his eyes fixed on the ground, and his knees bending under him; but bold and upright, like a man conscious of his independence. Why don’t you take off your hat, fellow? Don’t you know you are speaking to a magistrate? Said the agent. I know I’m not speaking to the king, sir, said Bill; and I never takes off my hat but to them I can respect and love. The Eye that sees all knows I’ve no right either to respect or love an agent! You scoundrel! Retorted the man in office, biting his lips with rage at such an unusual and unexpected opposition. I’ll teach you how to be insolent again; I have the power, remember. To the cost of the country, I know you have, said Bill who still remained with his head as firmly covered as if he was Lord Kingsdale himself. But come, said the magistrate; have you got the money for me? This is rent-day. If there’s one penny of it wanting or the running gale that’s due, prepare to turn out before night, for you shall not remain another hour in possession. There is your rent, said Bill, with an unmoved expression of tone and countenance; you’d better count it, and give me a receipt in full for the running gale and all. The agent gave a look of amazement at the gold; for it was gold-real guineas! And not bits of dirty ragged small notes that are not fit to light one’s pipe with. However willing the agent may have been to ruin, as he thought, the unfortunate tenant, he took up the gold, and handed the receipt to Bill, who strutted off with it as proud as a cat of her whiskers. The agent going to his desk shortly after, was confounded at beholding a heap of gingerbread cakes instead of the money he had deposited there. He raved and swore, but all to no purpose; the gold had become gingerbread cakes, just marked like the guineas, with the king’s head; and Bill had the receipt in his pocket; so he saw there was no use in saying anything about the affair, as he would only get laughed at for his pains. From that hour Bill Doody grew rich; all his undertakings prospered; and he often blesses the day that he met with O’Donoghue, the great prince that lives down under the lake of Killarney.



The Phantom Isle

Giraldus Cambrensis

Among the other islands is one newly formed, which they call the Phantom Isle, which had its origin in this manner. One calm day a large mass of earth rose to the surface of the sea, where no land had ever been seen before, to the great amazement of the islanders who observed it. Some of them said that it was a whale, or other immense sea-monster; others remarking that it continued motionless, said, No; it is land. In order, therefore, to reduce their doubts to certainty, some picked young men of the island determined to approach nearer the spot in a boat. When, however, they came so near to it that they thought they should go on shore, the island sank in the water and entirely vanished from sight. The next day it re-appeared, and again mocked the same youths with the like delusion. At length, on their rowing towards it on the third day, they followed the advice of an older man, and let fly an arrow, barbed with red-hot steel, against the island; and then landing, found it stationary and habitable. This adds one to the many proofs that fire is the greatest of enemies to every sort off phantom; in so much that those who have seen apparitions, fall into a swoon as soon as they are sensible of the brightness of fire. For fire, both from its position and nature, is the noblest of the elements, being a witness of the secrets of the heavens. The sky is firey; the planets are firey; the bush burnt with fire but was not consumed; the Holy Ghost sat upon the apostles in tongues of fire.- 12th century



The Story of the Little Bird

T. Crofton Croker

Many years ago there was a very religious and holy man, one of the monks of a convent, and he was one day kneeling at his prayers in the garden of his monastery, when he heard a little bird singing in one of the rose-trees of the garden, and there never was anything that he had heard in the world so sweet as the song of that little bird. And the holy man rose up from his knees where he was kneeling at his prayers to listen to its song; for he thought he never in all his life heard anything so heavenly. And the little bird, after singing for some time longer on the rose-tree, flew away to a grove at some distance from the monastery, and the holy man followed it to listen to its singing, for he felt as if he would never be tired of listening to the sweet song it was singing out of its throat. And the little bird after that went away to another distant tree, and sung there for a while, and then to another tree, and so on in the same manner, but ever farther and farther away from the monastery, and the holy man still following it farther, and farther, and farther still listening delighted to its enchanting song. But at last he was obliged to give up, as it was growing late in the day, and he returned to the convent; and as he approached it in the evening, the sun was setting in the west with all the most heavenly colours that were ever seen in the world, and when he came into the convent, it was nightfall. And he was quite surprised at everything he saw, for they were all strange faces about him in the monastery that he had never seen before, and the very place itself, and everything about it, seemed to be strangely altered; and, altogether, it seemed entirely different from what it was when he had left in the morning; and the garden was not like the garden where he had been kneeling at his devotion when he first heard the singing of the little bird. And while he was wondering at all he saw, one of the monks of the convent came up to him, and the holy man questioned him, Brother, what is the cause of all these strange changes that have taken place here since the morning? And the monk that he spoke to seemed to wonder greatly at his question, and asked him what he meant by the changes since morning? For, sure, there was no change; that all was just as before. And then he said, Brother, why do you ask these strange questions, and what is your name? For you wear the habit of our order, though we have never seen you before. So upon this the holy man told his name, and said that he had been at mass in the chapel in the morning before he had wandered away from the garden listening to the song of a little bird that was singing among the rose-trees, near where he was kneeling at his prayers. And the brother, while he was speaking, gazed at him very earnestly, and then told him that there was in the convent a tradition of a brother of his name, who had left it two hundred years before, but that what was become of him was never known. And while he was speaking, the holy man said. My hour of death is come; blessed be the name of the Lord for all his mercies to me, through the merits of his only-begotten Son. And he kneeled down that very moment, and said, Brother, take my confession, for my soul is departing. And he made his confession, and received his absolution, and was anointed and before midnight he died. The little bird, you see, was an angel, one of the cherubims or seraphims; and that was the way the Almighty was pleased in His mercy to take to Himself the soul of that holy man.


Conversion of King Laoghair’s Daughters

Once when Patrick and his clerics were sitting beside a well in the Rath of Crogan, with books open on their knees, they saw coming towards them the two young daughters of the King of Connaught. ‘Twas early morning, and they were going to the well to bathe. The young girls said to Patrick, Whence are ye, and whence come ye? And Patrick answered, It were better for you to confess to the true God than to inquire concerning our race. Who is God? Said the young girls, and where is God and of what nature is God, and where is His dwelling-place? Has your God sons and daughters, gold and silver? Is He in heaven, or on earth, in the sea, in rivers, in mountainous places, in valleys? Patrick answered them, and made known who God was, and they believed and were baptized, and a white garment put upon their heads; and Patrick asked them would they live on or would they die and behold the face of Christ/ They chose death, and died immediately, and were buried near the well Clebach.


The Demon Cat

Lady Wilde

There was a woman in Connemara, the wife of a fisherman; as he had always good luck, she had plenty of fish at all times stored away in the house ready for market. But, to her great annoyance, she found that a great cat used to come in at night and devour all the best and finest fish. So she kept a big stick by her, and determined to watch. One day, as she and a woman were spinning together, the house suddenly became quite dark; and the door was burst open as if by the blast of the tempest, when in walked a huge black cat, who went straight up to the fire, and then turned round and growled at them. Why, surely this is the devil, said a young girl, who was by, sorting fish. I’ll teach you how to call me names, said the cat; and, jumping at her, he scratched her arm till the blood came. There now, he said, you will be more civil another time when a gentleman comes to see you. And with that he walked over to the door and shut it close, to prevent any of them going out, for the poor young girl, while crying loudly from fright and pain, had made a desperate rush to get away. Just then a man was going by, and hearing the cries, he pushed open the door and tried to get in; but the cat stood on the threshold, and would let no one pass. On this the man attacked him with his stick, and gave him a sound blow; the cat, however, was more than a match in the fight, for it flew at him and tore his face and hands so badly that the man at last took to his heels and ran away as fast as he could. Now, it’s time for my dinner, said the cat, going up to examine the fish that was laid out on the tables. I hope the fish is good today. Now, don’t disturb me, nor make a fuss; I can help myself. With that he jumped up, and began to devour all the best fish, while he growled at the woman. Away, out of this, you wicked beast, she cried, giving it a blow with the tongs that would have broken its back only it was a devil; out of this, no fish you have today. But the cat only grinned at her, and went on tearing and spoiling and devouring the fish, evidently not a bit the worse for the blow. On this, both the women attacked it with sticks, and struck hard blows enough to kill it, on which the cat glared at them, and spit fire, then, making a leap, it tore their heads and arms till the blood came, and the frightened women rushed shrieking from he house. But presently the mistress returned, carrying with her a bottle of holy water; and , looking in, she saw the cat still devouring the fish and not minding. So she crept over quietly and threw holy water on it without a word. No sooner was this done than a dense black smoke filled the place, through which nothing was seen but the two red eyes of the cat, burning like coals of fire. Then the smoke gradually cleared away, and she saw the body of the creature burning slowly till it became shriveled and black like a cinder, and finally disappeared. And from that time the fish remained untouched and safe from harm, for the power of the evil one was broken, and the demon cat was seen no more.



The Long Spoon

Patrick Kennedy

The devil and the hearth-money collector for Bantry set out one summer morning to decide a bet they made the night before over a jug of punch. The wanted to see which would have the best load at sunset, and neither was to pick up anything that wasn’t offered with the good-will of the giver. They passed by a house and they learned the poor ban-a-t’yee (woman of the house) cry out to her lazy daughter, Oh, musha-----take you for a lazy sthronsuch (lazy thing) of a girl! Do you intend to get up today? Oh;oh, says the taxman, there's’ a job for you, Nick. Ovock, says the other, it wasn't’ from her heart she said it; we must pass on. The next cabin they were passing, the woman was on the bawnditch (enclosure wall) crying out to her husband that was mending one of his brogues inside: Oh, tattheration to you, Nick! You never rung them pigs, and there they are in the potato drills rootin’ away; the----run to Lusk with them. Another windfall for you, says the man of the inkhorn, but the old thief shook his horns and wagged his tail. So they went on, and ever so many prizes were offered to the black fellow without him taking one. Here it was a gorsoon playing marvels when he should be using his clappers in the corn –field; and then it was a lazy drone of a servant asleep with his face to the sod when he ought to be weeding. No one thought of offering the hearth-money man even a drink of butter-milk, and at last the sun was within half a foot of the edge of Coolagh. They were just then passing Monmolin, and a poor woman that was straining her supper in a skeeoge outside her cabin-door, seeing the two standing at the bawn gate, bawled out, Oh, here’s the hearth-money man—run away wid him. Got a bite at last, says Nick. Oh, no, no! it wasn’t from her heart, says the collector. Indeed, an’ it was from the very foundation-stones it came. No help for misfortunes; in with you, says he, opening the mouth of his big black bag; and whether the devil was ever after seen taking the same walk or not, nobody ever laid eyes on his fellow-traveler again.



The Farie’s Dancing-Place

William Carleton

Lanty M’Clusky 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 play-ground of the fairies. Lanty was armed 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 neighbours and friends a house-warming, 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, 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 was 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; Gintlemen, I humbly ax yer pardon for buildin’ on any place belongin’ 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 clapping of a thousand tiny little hands, and a shout of Bravo, Lanty! Build half-way 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 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 (metal vessel=Kam); so that in leaving the fairies their play-ground, he became a richer man than ever he otherwise would have been, had he never come in contact with them at all.



A fairy Enchantment

Story-teller: Michael Hart

Recorder: W.B. Yeats

In the times when we used to travel by canal I was coming down from Dublin. When we came to Mullingar the canal ended, and I began to walk, and stiff and fatigued I was after the slowness. I had some friends with me, and now and then we walked, now and then we rode in a cart. So on till we saw some girls milking a cow, and stopped to joke with them. After a while we asked them for a drink of milk. We have nothing to put it in here, they said, but come to the house with us. We went home with them and sat round the fire talking. After a while the others went, and left me loath to stir from the good fire. I asked the girls for something to eat. There was a pot on the fire and they took the meat out and put it on a plate and told me to eat only the meat that came from the head. When I had eaten, the girls went out and I did not see them again. It grew darker and darker, and there I still sat, loath as ever to leave the good fire, and after a while two men came in, carrying between them a corpse. When I saw them I hid behind the door. Says one to the other, Who’ll turn the spit? Says the other, Michael Hart, come out of that and turn the meat! I came out in a tremble and began turning the spit. Michael Hart, says the one who spoke first, if you let it burn we will have to put you on the spit instead, and on that they went out. I sat there trembling and turning the corpse until midnight. The men came again, and the one said it was burnt, and the other said it was done right, but having fallen out over it, they both said they would do me no harm that time; and sitting by the fire one of them cried out, Michael Hart, can you tell a story? Never a one, said I. On that he caught me by the shoulders and put me out like a shot. It was a wild, blowing night; never in all my born days did I see such a night—the darkest night that ever came out of the heavens. I did not know where I was for the life of me. So when one of the men came after me and touched me on the shoulder with a Michael Hart, can you tell a story now?- I can, says I. In he brought me, and putting me by the fire says Begin. I have no story but the one, says I, that I was sitting here, and that you two men brought in a corpse and put it on the spit and set me a turning it. That will do, says he, you may go in there and lie down on the bead. And in I went, nothing loath, and in the morning where was I but in the middle of a green field.


The Death of Bran

One day Finn was hunting and Bran went following after a fawn. And they were coming towards Finn, and the fawn called out, and it said: If I go into the sea below I will never come back again; and if I go up into the air above me, it will not save me from Bran. For Bran would overtake the wild geese, she was that swift. Go out through my legs, said Finn then. So the fawn did that, and Bran followed her; and as Bran went under him, Finn squeezed his two knees on her, at that she died on the moment. And there was great grief on him after that, and he cried tears down the same as he did when Osgar died. And some said it was Finn’s mother the fawn was, and that it was to save his mother he killed Bran. But that is not likely, for his mother was beautiful Murine, daughter of Dadg, son of Nuada of the Tuatha de Danaan, and it was never heard that she was changed into a fawn. It is more likely it was Oisin’s mother was in it. But some say Bran and Sceolan are still seen to start at night out of the thicket on the hill of Almhuin.



The Midwife of Listowel

J. Curtin

Why do you call the fairies good people? Asked I. I don’t call them the good people myself, answered Duvane, but that is what the man called them who told me the story. Some call them the good people to avoid vexing them. I think they are called the good people mostly by pious men and women, who say that they are some of the fallen angels. How is that? They tell us that when the Lord cast down the rebel angels the chief of them all and the ringleaders went to the place of eternal punishment, but that the Lord stopped his hand while a great many were on the way. Wherever they were when he stopped his hand there they are to this day. Some of these angels are under the earth; others are on the earth, and still others in the air. People say that they are among us at all times, that they know everything htat is going on, that they have great hope of being forgiven at the day of judgment by the Lord and restored to heaven, and that if they hadn’t that hope they would destroy this world and all that’s in it. At this juncture the mason called out: I will not say whether I think the fairies are fallen angels or who they are, but I remember a case in which a woman lost an eye through the fairies. If you do, said I, I hope you will tell it. I will indeed, said he. There was an old woman, a midwife, who lived in a little house by herself between this and Listowel. One evening there was a knock at the door; she opened it, and what should she see but a man who said she was wanted, and to go with him quickly. He begged her to hurry. She made herself ready at once, the man waiting outside. When she was ready the man sprang on a fine, large horse, and put her up behind him. Away raced the horse then. They went a great distance in such a short time that it seemed to her only two or three miles. They came to a splendid large house and went in. The old woman found a beautiful lady inside. No other woman was to be seen. A child was born soon, and the man brought a vial of ointment, told the old woman to rub it on the child, but to have a great care and not touch her own self with it. She obeyed him and had no intention of touching herself, but on a sudden her left eye itched. She raised her hand, and rubbed the eye with one finger. Some of the ointment was on her finger, and that instant she saw great crowds of people around her, men and women. She knew that she was in a fort among fairies, and was frightened, but had courage enough not to show it, and finished her work. The man came to her then, and said; I will take you home now. He opened the door, went out, sprang to the saddle, and reached his hand to her, but her eye was opened now and she saw that in place of a horse it was an old plough beam that was before her. She was more in dread than ever, but took her seat, and away went the plough beam as swiftly as the very best horse in the kingdom. The man left her down at her own door, and she saw no more of him. Some time after there was a great fair at Listowel. The old midwife went to the fair, and there were big crowds of people on every side of her. The old woman looked around for a while and what did she see but the man who had taken her away on a plough beam. He was hurrying around, going in and out among the people, and no one knowing he was in but the old woman. At last the finest young girl at the fair screamed and fell in faint-the fairy had thrust something into her side. A crowd gathered around the young girl. The old woman, who had seen all, made her way to the girl, examined her side, and drew a pin from it. The girl recovered. A little later the fairy made his way to the old woman. Have you seen me before? Asked he. Oh, maybe I have, said she. Do you remember that I took you to a fort to attend a young woman? I do. When you anointed the child did you touch any part of yourself with the ointment I gave you? I did without knowing it; my eye itched and I rubbed it with my finger. Which eye? The left. The moment she said that he struck her left eye and took the sight from it. She went home blind of one eye, and was that way the rest of her life.



Tom Daly and the Nut-Eating Ghost

Tom Daly lived between Kenmare and Skneem, but nearer to Kenmare, nad had an only son, who was called Tom, after the father. When the son was eighteen years old Tom Daly died, leaving a widow and this son. The wife was paralyzed two years before Tom’s death, and could rise out of bed only as she was taken out, but as the fire was near the bed she could push a piece of turf into it if the turf was left at hand. Tom Daly while alive was in the employ of a gentleman living at Drummond Castle. Young Tom got the father’s place, and he looked on his godfather as he would on his own father, for the father and godfather had been great friends always, and Tom’s mother was as fond of the godfather as she was of her own husband. Four years after old Tom died the godfather followed him. He was very fond of chestnuts, and when he came to die he asked his friends to put a big wooden dish of them in his coffin, so he might come at the nuts in the next world. They carried out the man’s wishes. The godfather was buried, and the bed-ridden widow mourned for him as much as for her own husband. The young man continued to work for the gentleman at Drummond Castle, and in the winter it was often late in the evening before he could come home. There was a short cut from the gentleman’s place through a grove and past the graveyard. Young Tom was going home one winter night, the moon was shining very brightly. While passing the graveyard he saw a man on a big tomb that was in it, and he cracking nuts. Young Daly saw that it was on his grandfather’s tomb the man was, and when he remembered the nuts that were buried with him he believed in one minute that it was the godfather who was before him. He was greatly in dread then, and ran off as fast as ever his legs could carry him. When he reached home he was out of breath and panting. What is on you, asked the mother, and to be choking for breath? Sure I saw my godfather sitting on the tomb and he eating the nuts that were buried with him. Bad luck to you, said the mother; don’t be belying the dead, for it is as great a sin to tell one lie on the dead as ten on the living. God knows, said Tom, that I’d not belie my godfather, and ‘tis he that is in it; and hadn’t I enough time to know him before he died? Do you say in truth, Tom, that ‘tis your godfather? As sure as you are my mother there before me ‘tis my godfather that’s in the graveyard cracking nuts. Bring me to him, for the mercy of God, till I ask him about your own father in the other world. I’ll not do that, said Tom. What a queer thing it would be to bring you to the dead. Isn’t it better to go, Tom dear, and speak to him? Ask about your father, and know is he suffering in the other world. If he is we can relieve him with masses for his soul. Tom agreed at last, and, as the mother was a cripple, all he could do was to put a sheet around her and take her on his back. He went then towards the graveyard. There was a great thief living not far from Kemmare, and he came that night towards the estate of the gentleman where Tom was working. The gentleman had a couple of hundred fat sheep that were grazing. The thief made up his mid to have one of the sheep, and he sent an apprentice boy that he had to catch one, and said that he’d keep watch on the top of the tomb. As he had some nuts in his pockets, the thief began to crack them. The boy went for the sheep, but before he came back the thief saw Tom Daly, with his mother on his back. Thinking that it was his apprentice with the sheep, he called out, Is she fat? Tom Daly, thinking it was the ghost asking about the mother , dropped her and said, Begor, then, she is and heavy! Away with him, then, as fast as ever his two legs could carry him, leaving the mother behind. She, forgetting her husband and thinking the ghost would kill and eat her, jumped up, ran home like a deer, and was there as soon as her son. God spare you, mother, how could you come! Cried Tom, and be here as soon as myself? Sure I moved like a blast of March wind, said the old woman; ‘tis the luckiest ride I had in my life, for out of the fright the good Lord gave me my legs again.


James Murray and Saint Martin

Told By Timothy Sheahy/ J.Curtin

There was a small farmer named James Murray, who lived between this and Slieve Mish. He had the grass of seven cows, but though he had the land, he hadn’t stock to put on it; he had but the one cow. Being a poor man, he went to Cork with four firkins of butter for a neighbour. He never thought what day of the month it was until he had the butter sold in the city, and it was Saint Martin’s eve at the time. Himself and his father before him and his grandfather had always killed something to honor St. Martin, and when he was in Cork on St. Martin’s eve he felt heartsore and could not eat. He walked around and muttered to himself: I wish to the Almighty God I was at home; my house will be disgraced forever. The words weren’t out of his mouth when a fine looking gentleman stood before him and asked: What trouble is on you, good man? James Murray told the gentleman. Well, my poor man, you would like to be at home to-night? Indeed, then, I would, and but for I forgot the day of the month, it isn’t here I’d be now, poor as I am. Where do you live? Near the foot of Slieve Mish, in Kerry. Bring out your horse and creels, and you will be at home. What is the use in talking? ‘Tis too far for such a journey. Never mind; bring out your horse. James Murray led out the horse, mounted, and rode away. He thought he wasn’t two hours on the road when he was going in at his own door. Sure, his wife was astonished and didn’t believe that he could be home from Cork in that time; it was only when he showed the money they paid him for the other man’s butter that she believed. Well, this is St. Martin’s eve! It is, said she. What are we to do? I don’t know, for we have nothing to kill. Out went James and drove in the cow. What are you going to do? Asked the wife. To kill the cow in honour of St. Martin. Indeed, then, you will not. I will, indeed, and he killed her. He skinned the cow and cooked some of her flesh, but the woman was down in the room at the other end of the house lamenting. Come up now and eat your supper, said the husband. But she would not eat, and was only complaining and crying. After supper the whole family went to bed. Murray rose at daybreak next morning, went to the door, and saw seven gray cows, and they feeding in the field. Whose cows are those eating my grass? Cried he, and ran out to drive them away. Then he saw that they were not like other cattle in the district, and they were fat and bursting with milk. I’ll have the milk at least, to pay for the grass they’ve eaten, said James Murray. So his wife milked the gray cows and he drove them back to the field. The cows were contented in themselves and didn’t wish to go away. Next day he published the cows, but no one ever came to claim them. It was the Almighty God and St. Martin who sent these cows, said he, and he kept them. In the summer all the cows had heifer calves, and every year for seven years they had heifer calves, and the calves were all gray, like the cows. James Murray got very rich, and his crops were the best in the country. He bought new land and had a deal of money put away; but it happened on the eighth year one of the cows had a bull calf. What did Murray do but kill the calf. That minute the seven old cows began to bellow and run away, and the calves bellowed and followed them, all ran and never stopped till they went into the sea and disappeared under the waves. They were never seen after that, but, as Murray used to give away a heifer calf sometimes during the seven years, there are cows of that breed around Slieve, Mish, and Dingle to this day, and every one is as good as two cows.



Cliodna’s Wave

And it was in the time of the Fianna of Ireland that Ciabhan of the Curling Hair, the king of Ulster’s son, went to Manannan’s country. Ciabhan now was the most beautiful of the young men of the world at that time, and he was as far beyond all othe king’s sons as the moon is beyond the stars. And Finn liked him well, but the rest of the Fianna got to be tired of him because there was not a woman of their women, wed or unwed, but gave him her love. And Finn had to send him away at the last, for he was in dread of the men of the Fianna because of the greatness of their jealousy. So Ciabhan went on till he came to the Strand of the Cairn, that is called now the Strand of the Strong Man, between Dun Sobairce and the sea. And there he saw a curragh, and it having a narrow stern of copper. And Ciabhan got into the curragh, and his people said: Is it to leave Ireland you have a mind, Ciabhan? It is indeed, he said, for in Ireland I get neither shelter or protection. He bade farewell to his people then, and he left them very sorrowful after him, for to part with him was like the parting of life from the body. And Ciabhan went on in the curragh, and great white shouting waves rose up about him, every one of them the size of a mountain; and the beautiful speckled salmon that are used to stop in the sand and the shingle rose up to the sides of the curragh, till great dread came on Ciabhan, and he said: By my word, if it was on land I was I could make a better fight for myself. And he was in this danger till he saw a rider coming towards him on a dark grey horse having a golden bridle, and he would be under the sea for the length of nine waves, and he would rise with the tenth wave, and no wet on him at all. And he said: What reward would you give to whoever would bring you out of this great danger? Is there anything in my hand worth offering you? Said Ciabhan. There is, said the rider, that you would give your service to who ever would give you his help. Ciabhan agreed to that, and he put his hand into the rider’s hand. With that the rider drew him on to the horse, and the curragh came on beside them till they reached to the shore of Tir Tairngaire, the Land of Promise. They got off the horse there, and came to Loch Luchra, the Lake of the Dwarfs, and to Manannan’s city, and a feast was after being made ready there, and comely serving boys were going round with smooth horns, and playing on sweet-sounding harps till the whole house was filled with the music. Then there came in clowns, long-snouted, long-heeled, lean, and bald, and red, that used to be doing tricks in Manannan’s house. And one of these tricks was, a man of the mto take nine straight willow rods, and to throw them up to the rafters of the house, and to catch them again as they came down, and he standing on one leg, and having but one hand free. And they thought no one could do that trick but themselves, and they were used to ask strangers to do it, the way they could see them fail. So this night when one of them had done the trick, he came up to Ciabhan, that was beyond all the Men of Dea or the Sons of the Gael that were in the house, in shape and in walk and in name, and he put the nine rods in his hand. And Ciabhan stood up and he did the feat before them all, the same as if he had never learned to do any other thing. Now Gebann, that was a chief Druid in Manannan’s country, had a daughter, Cliodna of the Fair Hair, that had never given her love to any man. But when she saw Ciabhan she gave him her love, and she agreed to go away with him on the morrow. And they went down to the landing-place and got into a curragh, and they went on till they came to Teite’s Strand in the southern part of Ireland. It was from Teite Brec the Freckled the strand got its name, that went there one time for a wave game, and three times fifty young girls with her, and they were all drowned in that place. And as to Ciabhan, he came on shore, and went looking for deer, as was right, under the thick branches of the wood; and he left the young girl in the boat on the strand. But the people of Manannan’s house came after them, having forty ships. And Iuchnu, that was in the curragh with Cliodna, did treachery, and he played music to her till she lay down in the boat and fell asleep. And then a great wave came up on the strand and swept her away. And the wave got its name from Cliodna of the Fair Hair, that will be long remembered.-Lady Gregory



The Birth of Bran

This, now is the story of the birth of Bran. Finn’s mother, Muirne, came one time to Almhuin, and she brought with her Tuiren, her sister. And Iollan Eachtach, a chief man of the Fianna of Ulster, was at Almhuin at the time, and he gave his love to Tuiren, and asked her in Marriage, and brought her to his own house. But before they went, Finn made him give his word he would bring her back safe and sound if ever he asked for her, and he bade him find sureties for himself among the chief men of the Fianna. And Iollan did that and the sureties he got were Caoilte and Goll and Lugaidh Lamha, and it was Lugaidh gave her into the hand of Iollan Eachtach. But before Iollan made that marriage, he had a sweetheart of the Sidh, Uchdealb of the Fair Breast; and there came great jealousy on her when she knew he had taken a wife. And she took the appearance of Finn’s woman-messenger, and she came to the house where Tuiren was, and she said: Finn sends health and long life to you, queen, and he bids you to make a great feast; and come with me now, she said, till I speak a few words with you for there is hurry on me. So Tuiren went out with her, and when they were away from the house the woman of the Sidh took out her dark Druid rod from under her cloak and gave her a blow of it that changed her into a hound, the most beautiful that was ever seen. And then she went on, bringing the hound with her, to the house of Fergus Fionnliath, king of the harbour of Gallimh. And it is the way Fergus was, he was the most unfriendly man to dogs in the whole world, and he would not let one stop in the same house with him. But it is what Uchtdealb said to him.: Finn wishes you life and health, Fergus, and he says to you to take good care of his hound till he comes himself; and mind her well, she said, for she is with young, and do not let her go hunting when her time is near, or Finn will be no way thankful to you. I wonder at that message, said Fergus, for Finn knows well there is not in the world a man has less liking for dogs than myself. But for all that, he said I will not refuse Finn the first time he sent a hound to me. And when he brought the hound out to try her, she was the best he ever knew, and she never saw the wild creature she would not run down; and Fergus took a great liking for hounds from that. And when her time came near, they did not let her go hunting any more, and she gave birth to two whelps. And as to Finn, when he heard his mother’s sister was not living with Iollan Eachtach, he called to him for the fulfillment of the pledge that was given to the Fianna. And Iollan asked time to go looking for Tuiren, and he gave his word that if he did not find her he would give himself up in satisfaction for her. So they agreed to that, and Iollan went to the hill where Uchtdealb was, his sweetheart of the Sidhe, and told her the way things were with him, and the promise he had made to give himself up to the Fianna. If that is so, said she, and if you will give me your pledge to keep me as your sweetheart to the end of your life, I will free you from that danger. So Iollan gave her his promise, and she went to the house of Fergus Fionnliath, and she brought Tuiren away and put her own shape on her again, and gave her up to Finn. And Finn gave her to Lugaidh Lamha that asked her in marriage. And as to the two whelps, they stopped always with Finn and the names he gave them were Bran and Sceolan.-Lady Gregory


Red Ridge

There was another young man came and served Finn for a while, out of Connacht he came, and he was very daring and the Red Ridge was the name they gave him. And he all but went from Finn one time, because of his wages that were too long in coming to him. And the three battalions of the Fianna came trying to quiet him, but he would not stay for them. And at the last Finn himself came, for it is a power he had, if he would make but three verses he would quiet any one. And it is what he said: Daring Red Ridge, he said, good in battle, if you go from me today with your great name it is a good parting for us. But once at Rath Cro, he said, I gave you three times fifty ounces in the one day and at Carn Ruidhe I gave you the full of my cup of silver and of yellow gold. And do you remember, he said, the time we were at Rath Ai, when we found the two women, and when we ate the nuts myself and yourself were there together. And after that the young man said no more about going from him. And another helper came to Finn one time he was fighting at a ford, and all his weapons were used or worn with the dint of the fight. And there came to him a daughter of Mongan of the Sidhe, bringing him a flat stone having a chain of gold to it. And he took the stone and did great deeds with it. And after the fight the stone fell into the ford, that got the name of Ath Liag Finn. And that stone will never be found till the Woman of the Waves will find it, and will bring it to land on a Sunday morning; and on that day seven years the world will come to an end.-Lady Gregory


Conn Crither

Finn now, when he had turned from his road to go to Credhe’s house, had sent out watchmen to every landing-place to give warning when the ships of the strangers would be in sight. And the man that was keeping watch at the White Strand was Conn Crither, son of Bran, from Teamhair Luachra. And after he had been a long time watching, he was one night west from the Round Hill of the Fianna that is called Cruachan Adrann, and there he fell asleep. And while he was in his sleep the ships came; and what roused him was the noise of the breaking of shields and the clashing of swords and of spears, and the cries of women and children and of dogs and horses that were under flames, and that the strangers were making an attack on. Conn Crither started up when he heard that, and he said: It is great trouble has come on the people through my sleep, and I will not stay living after this, he said, for Finn and the Fianna of Ireland to see me, but I will rush into the middle of the strangers he said, and they will fall by me till I fall by them. He put on his suit of battle then and ran down towards the strand. And on the way he saw three women dressed in battle clothes before him, and fast as he ran he could not overtake them. He took his spear then to make a cast of it at the woman who was nearest him, but she stopped on the moment, and she said: Hold your hand and do not harm us , for we are not come to harm you but to help you. Who are you yourselves? Said Conn Crither. We are three sisters, she said, and we are come from Tir nan Og, the Country of the Young, and we have all three given you our love, and no one of us loves you less than the other and it is to give you our help we are come. What way will you help me? Said Conn. We will give you good help, she said, for we will make Druid armies about you from stalks of grass and from the tops of the watercress, and they will cry outto the strangers and will strike their arms from their hands, and take from them their strength and their eyesight. And we will put a Druid mist about you now, she said, that will hide you from the armies of the strangers, and they will not see you when you make an attack on them. And we have a well of healing at the foot of Slieve Iolair, the Eagle’s mountain, she said, and its waters will cure every wound made in battle. And after bathing in that well you will be as whole and as sound as the day you were born. And bring whatever man you like best with you, she said and we will heal him along with you. Conn Crither gave them his thanks for that, and he hurried on on the strand. And it was at that time the armies of the King of the Great Plain were taking spoils from Traig Moduirn in the north to Finntraighe in the south. And Conn Crither came on them and the Druid army from him, and he took their spoils from them, and the Druid army took their sight and their strength from them, and they were routed, and they made away to where the King of the Great Plain was, and Conn Crither followed killing and destroying. Stop with me, king-hero, said the king of the Great Plain, that I may fight with you on account of my people, since there is not one of them that turns to stand against you. So the two set their banners in the earth and attacked one another, and fought a good part of the day until Conn Crither struck off the king’s head. And he lifted up the head, and he was boasting of what he had done. By my word, he said, I will not let myself be parted from this body till some of the Fianna, few or many, will come to me.-Lady Gregory


Lomna’s Head

Finn took a wife one time of the Luigne of Midhe. And at the same time there was in his household one Lomna, a fool. Finn now went into Tethra, hunting with the Fianna, but Lomna stopped at the house. And after a while he saw Coirpre, a man of the Luigne, go in secretly to where Finn’s wife was. And when the woman knew he had seen that, she begged and prayed of Lomna to hide it from Finn. And Lomna agreed to that, but it preyed on him to have a hand in doing treachery on Finn. And after a while he took a four-square rod and wrote in Ogham on it, and these were the words he wrote- An alder stake in a paling of silver; deadly nightshade in a bunch of cresses; a husband of a lewd woman; a fool among the well-taught Fianna; heather on the bare Ualann of Luigne. Finn saw the message, and there was anger on him against the woman; and she knew well it was from Lomna he had heard the story, and she sent a message to Coirpre bidding him to come and kill the fool. So Coirpre came and struck his head off, and brought it away with him. And when Finn came back in the evening, he saw the body, and it without a head. Let us know whose body is this, said the Fianna. And then Finn did the divination of rhymes, and it is what he said: It is the body of Lomna; it is not by a wild boar he was killed; it is not by a fall he was killed; it is not in his bed he died; it is by his enemies he died; it is not a secret to the Luigne the way he died. And let out the hounds now on their track, he said. So they let out the hounds, and put them on the track of Coirpre, and Finn followed them, and they came to a house, and Coirpre in it, and three times nine of his men , and he cooking fish on a spit; and Lomna’s head was on the spike beside the fire. And the first of the fish that was cooked Coirpre divided between his men, but he put no bit into the mouth of the head. And then he made a second division in the same way. Now that was against the Fianna, and the head spoke, and it said. As speckled white-bellied salmon that grows from a small fish under the sea; you have shared a share that is not right; the Fianna will avenge it upon you, Coirpre. Put the head outside said Coirpre, for that is an evil word for us. Then the head said from outside, It is in may pieces you will be; it is great fires will be lighted by Finn in Luigne. And as it said that, Finn came in, and he made an end of Coirpre, and of his men.-Lady Gregory

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