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Full text of "Irish fairy tales"

University of California • Berkeley 



PAULINE FORE MOFFITT LIBRAJIY 




J7 




LIBRARY 



IRISH FAIRY TALES 





THE CHILDREN'S LIBRARY, 



THE BROWN OWL. 

A CHINA CUP, AND OTHER STORIES. 
STORIES FROM FAIRYLAND. 
THE LITTLE PRINCESS. 
THE STORY OF A PUPPET. 
TALES FROM THE MABINOGION. 
IRISH FAIRY TALES. 



(Others in the Press.) 



Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2008 witii funding from 

IVIicrQsoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/fairytalesirisliOOyeatriGli 




'PLAYING AWAY ON THE PIPES AS MERRILY AS IF 

NOTHING HAD HAPPENED." [Pa£-e 48. 



IRISH 
FAIRY TALES 



EDITED 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION 

BY 

W. B. YEATS 

AUTHOR OF ' THE WANDERINGS OF OISIN,' ETC. 



ILLUSTRATED BY JACK B, YEATS 



LONDON 

T. FISHER UNWIN 
1892 



WHERE MY BOOKS GO, 

All the words that I gather^ 

And all the words that I write ^ 
Must spread out their wings untiring^ 

And never rest in their flighty 
Till they come where your sad, sad 
heart is, 

And sing to you in the night, 
Beyond where the waters are 7noving, 

Storm darkened or starry bright. 

W, B, Yeats, 
London, January i8()2. 




CONTENTS 



Introduction 


PAGE 

I 


LAND AND WATER FAIRIES 




The Fairies' Dancing-Place 


13 


The Rival Kempers . 


17 


The Young Piper 


32 


A Fairy Enchantment 


49 


Teigue of the Lee . 


53 


The Fairy Greyhound 


69 


The Lady of Gollerus 


n 



viii CONTENTS 

EVIL SPIRITS 

PAGE 

The Devil's Mill . . -95 

Fergus O'Mara and the Air- 

DeMONS . . . .112 

The Man who never knew Fear . 123 

CATS 
Seanchan the Bard and the King 

OF THE Cats . . .141 

OwNEY and Owney-na-Peak . 151 

KINGS AND WARRIORS 
The Knighting of Cuculain . 185 
The Little Weaver of Duleek 

Gate . . . . i9S 

APPENDIX 

Classification of Irish Fairies . 223 
Authorities on Irish Folklore . 234 




INTRODUCTION 



AN IRISH STORY-TELLER 




AM often doubted when I 
say that the Irish peasantry 
still believe in fairies. 
People think I am merely 
trying to bring back a little of the 
old dead beautiful world of romance 
into this century of great engines and 
spinning -jinnies. Surely the hum of 
wheels and clatter of printing presses, to 
let alone the lecturers with their black 
coats and tumblers of water, have driven 
away the goblin kingdom and made 
silent the feet of the little dancers. 

B 



2 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Old Biddy Hart at any rate does not 
think so. Our bran-new opinions have 
never been heard of under her brown- 
thatched roof tufted with yellow stone- 
crop. It is not so long since I sat by 
the turf fire eating her griddle cake in 
her cottage on the slope of Benbulben 
and asking after her friends, the fairies, 
who inhabit the green thorn -covered 
hill up there behind her house. How 
firmly she believed in them ! how 
greatly she feared offending them ! For 
a long time she would give me no 
answer but *I always mind my own 
affairs and they always mind theirs.' 
A little talk about my great-grandfather 
who lived all his life in the valley below, 
and a few words to remind her how I 
myself was often under her roof when 
but seven or eight years old loosened 
her tongue, however. It would be less 
dangerous at any rate to talk to me of 
the fairies than it would be to tell some 
^ Towrow ' of them, as she contemptu- 
ously called English tourists, for I had 



INTRODUCTION 3 

lived under the shadow of their own 
hillsides. She did not forget, however, 
to remind me to say after we had 
finished, ' God bless them, Thursday ' 
(that being the day), and so ward off 
their displeasure, in case they were 
angry at our notice, for they love to 
live and dance unknown of men. 

Once started, she talked on freely 
enough, her face glowing in the firelight 
as she bent over the griddle or stirred 
the turf, and told how such a one was 
stolen away from near Coloney village 
and made to live seven years among 
* the gentry,' as she calls the fairies for 
politeness' sake, and how when she 
came home she had no toes, for she 
had danced them off; and how such 
another was taken from the neighbour- 
ing village of Grange and compelled to 
nurse the child of the queen of the 
fairies a few months before I came. 
Her news about the creatures is always 
quite matter-of-fact and detailed, just 
as if she dealt with any common occur- 



4 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

rence : the late fair, or the dance at 
Rosses last year, when a bottle of whisky 
was given to the best man, and a cake 
tied up in ribbons to the best woman 
dancer. They are, to her, people not so 
different from herself, only grander and 
finer in every way. They have the most 
beautiful parlours and drawing-rooms, 
she would tell you, as an old man told 
me once. She has endowed them with 
all she knows of splendour, although 
that is not such a great deal, for her 
imagination is easily pleased. What 
does not seem to us so very wonderful 
is wonderful to her, there, where all is 
so homely under her wood rafters and 
her thatched ceiling covered with white- 
washed canvas. We have pictures and 
books to help us imagine a splendid 
fairy world of gold and silver, of 
crowns and marvellous draperies ; but 
she has only that little picture of St. 
Patrick over the fireplace, the bright- 
coloured crockery on the dresser, and 
the sheet of ballads stuffed by her 



INTRODUCTION 5 

young daughter behind the stone dog 
on the mantelpiece. Is it strange, then, 
if her fairies have not the fantastic 
glories of the fairies you and I are 
wont to see in picture-books and read 
of in stories? She will tell you of 
peasants who met the fairy cavalcade 
and thought it but a troop of peasants 
like themselves until it vanished into 
shadow and night, and of great fairy 
palaces that were mistaken, until they 
melted away, for the country seats of 
rich gentlemen. 

Her views of heaven itself have the 
same homeliness, and she would be 
quite as naive about its personages if 
the chance offered as was the pious 
Clondalkin laundress who told a friend 
of mine that she had seen a vision of 
St. Joseph, and that he had 'a lovely 
shining hat upon him and a shirt- 
buzzom that was never starched in 
this world.' She would have mixed 
some quaint poetry with it, however; 
for there is a world of difference 



6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

between Benbulben and Dublinised 
Clondalkin. 

Heaven and Fairyland — to these has 
Biddy Hart given all she dreams of 
magnificence, and to them her soul 
goes out — to the one in love and 
hope, to the other in love and fear — 
day after day and season after season ; 
saints and angels, fairies and witches, 
haunted thorn-trees and holy wells, are 
to her what books, and plays, and 
pictures are to you and me. Indeed 
they are far more ; for too many among 
us grow prosaic and commonplace, but 
she keeps ever a heart full of music. 
* I stand here in the doorway,' she said 
once to me on a fine day, * and look at 
the mountain and think of the good- 
ness of God ' ; and when she talks of 
the fairies I have noticed a touch of 
tenderness in her voice. She loves 
them because they are always young, 
always making festival, always far off 
from the old age that is coming upon 
her and filling her bones with aches. 



INTRODUCTION 7 

and because, too, they are so like little 
children. 

Do you think the Irish peasant would 
be so full of poetry if he had not his 
fairies ? Do you think the peasant girls 
of Donegal, when they are going to 
service inland, would kneel down as 
they do and kiss the sea with their lips 
if both sea and land were not made 
lovable to them by beautiful legends 
and wild sad stories ? Do you think 
the old men would take life so cheerily 
and mutter their proverb, * The lake is 
not burdened by its swan, the steed by 
its bridle, or a man by the soul that is 
in him,' if the multitude of spirits were 
not near them ? 

W. B. Yeats. 

Clondalkin, 
July 1891. 





NOTE 

HAVE to thank Lady Wilde 
for leave to give * Seanchan 
the Bard * from her Ancient 
Legends of Ireland (Ward 
and Downey), the most poetical and 
ample collection of Irish folk-lore 
yet published; Mr. Standish O'Grady 
for leave to give * The Knighting of 
Cuculain* from that prose epic he 
has curiously named History of Ire- 
landy Heroic Period \ Professor Joyce 
for his 'Fergus O'Mara and the Air 
Demons ' ; and Mr. Douglas Hyde for 
his unpublished story, * The Man who 
never knew Fear.* 



NOTE 9 

I have included no story that has 
already appeared in my Fairy and 
Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry 
(Camelot Series). 

The two volumes make, I believe, 
a fairly representative collection of 
Irish folk tales. 



LAND AND WATER 
FAIRIES 





THE FAIRIES* DANCING- 
PLACE 

By William Carleton 

^NTY 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 re- 
solved 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 warned against this; but 



14 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

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 neigh- 
bours 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 
whisky, 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 strain- 
ing of ribs and rafters on the top of 
the house. The folks assembled all 
listened, and, without doubt, there 
was nothing heard but crushing, and 
heaving, and pushing, and groaning, 
and panting, as if a thousand little 



THE FAIRIES' DANCING-PLACE 15 

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 
to-morrow 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 exulta- 
tion, there was a brisk rushing noise, 
and they were heard no more. 



i6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

The Story, however, does not end 
here ; for Lanty, when digging the 
foundation of his new house, found 
the full of a kam ^ of gold : so that 
in leaving to the fairies their play- 
ground, he became a richer man than 
ever he otherwise would have been, 
had he never come in contact with 
them at all. 

^ Kam — a metal vessel in which the peasantry 
dip rushlights. 





THE RIVAL KEMPERS 

By William Carleton 

N the north of Ireland there 
are spinning meetings of un- 
married females frequently 
held at the houses of farm- 
ers, called kemps. Every young woman 
who has got the reputation of being 
a quick and expert spinner attends 
where the kemp is to be held, at an 
hour usually before daylight, and on 
these occasions she is accompanied by 
her sweetheart or some male relative, 
who carries her wheel, and conducts 
her safely across the fields or along 
the road, as the case may be. A 
c 



i8 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

kemp is, indeed, an animated and 
joyous scene, and one, besides, which 
is calculated to promote industry and 
decent pride. Scarcely anything can 
be more cheering and agreeable than 
to hear at a distance, breaking the 
silence of morning, the light-hearted 
voices of many girls either in mirth 
or song, the humming sound of the 
busy wheels — jarred upon a little, it 
is true, by the stridulous noise and 
checkings of the reels, and the voices 
of the reelers, as they call aloud the 
checks, together with the name of the 
girl and the quantity she has spun up 
to that period; for the contest is 
generally commenced two or three 
hours before daybreak. This mirthful 
spirit is also sustained by the prospect 
of a dance — with which, by the way, 
every kemp closes ; and when the fair 
victor is declared, she is to be looked 
upon as the queen of the meeting, 
and treated with the necessary respect. 
But to our tale. Every one knew 



THE RIVAL KEMPER S 19 

Shaun Buie M'Gaveran to be the 
cleanest, best-conducted boy, and the 
most industrious too, in the whole 
parish of Faugh-a-ballagh. Hard was 
it to find a young fellow who could 
handle a flail, spade, or reaping-hook 
in better style, or who could go through 
his day's work in a more creditable or 
workmanlike manner. In addition to 
this, he was a fine, well-built, handsome 
young man as you could meet in a 
fair; and so, sign was on it, maybe 
the pretty girls weren't likely to pull 
each other's caps about him. Shaun, 
however, was as prudent as he was 
good-looking ; and although he wanted 
a wife, yet the sorrow one of him but 
preferred taking a well -handed, smart 
girl, who was known to be well-behaved 
and industrious, like himself. Here, 
however, was where the puzzle lay on 
him; for instead of one girl of that 
kind, there were in the neighbourhood 
no less than a dozen of them — all 
equally fit and willing to become his 



20 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

wife, and all equally good-looking. 
There were two, however, whom he 
thought a trifle above the rest ; but so 
nicely balanced were Biddy Corrigan 
and Sally Gorman, that for the life of 
him he could not make up his mind 
to decide between them. Each of 
them had won her kemp ; and it was 
currently said by them who ought to 
know, that neither of them could over- 
match the other. No two girls in the 
parish were better respected, or deserved 
to be so; and the consequence was, 
they had every one's good word and 
good wish. Now it so happened that 
Shaun had been pulling a cord with 
each; and as he knew not how to 
decide between, he thought he would 
allow them to do that themselves if 
they could. He accordingly gave out 
to the neighbours that he would hold 
a kemp on that day week, and he told 
Biddy and Sally especially that he had 
made up his mind to marry whichever 
of them won the kemp, for he knew 



THE RIVAL KEMPERS 21 

right well, as did all the parish, that 
one of them must. The girls agreed 
to this very good-humouredly, Biddy 
telling Sally that she (Sally) would 
surely win it ; and Sally, not to be 
outdone in civility, telling the same 
thing to her. 

Well, the week was nearly past, there 
being but two days till that of the 
kemp, when, about three o'clock, there 
walks into the house of old Paddy 
Corrigan a little woman dressed in 
high -heeled shoes and a short red 
cloak. There was no one in the house 
but Biddy at the time, who rose up 
and placed a chair near the fire, and 
asked the little red woman to sit down 
and rest herself. She accordingly did 
so, and in a short time a lively chat 
commenced between them. 

* So, 'said the strange woman, there's 
to be a great kemp in Shaun Buie 
M'Gaveran's?' 

' Indeed there is that, good woman,' 
replied Biddy, smiling and blushing to 



22 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

back of that again, because she knew 
her own fate depended on it. 

*And,' continued the Httle woman, 
* whoever wins the kemp wins a 
husband ? ' 

' Ay, so it seems.' 

*Well, whoever gets Shaun will be 
a happy woman, for he*s the moral 
of a good boy.' 

* That's nothing but the truth, any- 
how,' replied Biddy, sighing, for fear, 
you may be sure, that she herself 
might lose him; and indeed a young 
woman might sigh from many a worse 
reason. *But,' said she, changing the 
subject, *you appear to be tired, honest 
woman, an' I think you had better eat 
a bit, an' take a good drink of hiinnhe 
ramwher (thick milk) to help you on 
your journey.' 

* Thank you kindly, a colleen,' said 
the woman ; * I'll take a bit, if you plase, 
hopin', at the same time, that you won't be 
the poorer of it this day twelve months,' 

*Sure,' said the girl, *you know 



THE RIVAL KEMPERS 23 

that what we give from kindness ever 
an' always leaves a blessing behind it. * 

* Yes, acushla, when it is given from 
kindness.' 

She accordingly helped herself to 
the food that Biddy placed before her, 
and appeared, after eating, to be very 
much refreshed. 

*Now,' said she, rising up, * you're 
a very good girl, an' if you are able 
to find out my name before Tuesday 
morning, the kemp-day, I tell you that 
you'll win it, and gain the husband.' 

* Why,' said Biddy, * I never saw you 
before. I don't know who you are, 
nor where you live; how then can I 
ever find out your name ? ' 

'^You never saw me before, sure 
enough,' said the old woman, *an' I 
tell you that you never will see me 
again but once ; an' yet if you have 
not my name for me at the close of 
the kemp, you'll lose all, an' that will 
leave you a sore heart, for well I know 
you love Shaun Buie.' 



24 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

So saying, she went away, and left 
poor Biddy quite cast down at what 
she had said, for, to tell the truth, she 
loved Shaun very much, and had no 
hopes of being able to find out the 
name of the little woman, on which, 
it appeared, so much to her depended. 

It was very near the same hour of 
the same day that Sally Gorman was 
sitting alone in her father's house, 
thinking of the kemp, when who 
should walk in to her but our friend 
the little red woman. 

* God save you, honest woman,' said 
Sally, *this is a fine day that's in it, 
the Lord be praised ! ' 

*It is,' said the woman, *as fine 
a day as one could wish for : indeed 
it is.' 

* Have you no news on your travels ? ' 
asked Sally. 

^ The only news in the neighbour- 
hood,' replied the other, * is this great 
kemp that's to take place at Shaun 
Buie M^Gaveran's. They say you're 



THE RIVAL KEMPER S 25 

either to win him or lose him then,' 
she added, looking closely at Sally as 
she spoke. 

' Fm not very much afraid of that,' 
said Sally, with confidence ; * but even 
if I do lose him, I may get as good.' 

^ It's not easy gettin' as good,' 
rejoined the old woman, *an' you 
ought to be very glad to win him, if 
you can.' 

* Let me alone for that,' said Sally. 
^Biddy's a good girl, I allow; but as 
for spinnin', she never saw the day 
she could leave me behind her. Won't 
you sit an' rest you?' she added; 
* maybe you're tired.' 

*It's time for you to think of it,' 
thought the woman, but she spoke 
nothing: *but,' she added to herself 
on reflection, *it's better late than 
never — I'll sit awhile, till I see a little 
closer what she's made of 

She accordingly sat down and chatted 
upon several subjects, such as young 
women like to talk about, for about 



26 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

half an hour; after which she arose, 
and taking her Httle staff in hand, she 
bade Sally good-bye, and went her 
way. After passing a little from the 
house she looked back, and could not 
help speaking to herself as follows : 

* She's smooth and smart, 
But she wants the heart ; 
She's tight and neat, 
But she gave no meat.' 

Poor Biddy now made all possible 
inquiries about the old woman, but to 
no purpose. Not a soul she spoke to 
about her had ever seen or heard of 
such a woman. She felt very dispirited, 
and began to lose heart, for there is 
no doubt that if she missed Shaun it 
would have cost her many a sorrowful 
day. She knew she would never get 
his equal, or at least any one that she 
loved so well. At last the kemp day 
came, and with it all the pretty girls 
of the neighbourhood to Shaun Buie's. 
Among the rest, the two that were to 



THE RIVAL KEMPERS 27 

decide their right to him were doubt- 
less the handsomest pair by far, and 
every one admired them. To be sure, 
it was a blythe and merry place, and 
many a light laugh and sweet song 
rang out from pretty lips that day. 
Biddy and Sally, as every one expected, 
were far ahead of the rest, but so even 
in their spinning that the reelers could 
not for the life of them declare which 
was the better. It was neck-and-neck 
and head-and-head between the pretty 
creatures, and all who were at the 
kemp felt themselves wound up to the 
highest pitch of interest and curiosity 
to know which of them would be 
successful. 

The day was now more than half 
gone, and no dififerenee was between 
them, when, to the surprise and sorrow 
of every one present, Biddy Corrigan's 
heck broke in two, and so to all appear- 
ance ended the contest in favour of 
her rival; and what added to her 
mortification, she was as ignorant of 



28 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

the red little woman's name as ever. 
What was to be done ? All that could 
be done was done. Her brother, a 
boy of about fourteen years of age, 
happened to be present when the 
accident took place, having been sent 
by his father and mother to bring them 
word how the match went on between 
the rival spinsters. Johnny Corrigan 
was accordingly despatched with all 
speed to Donnel M^Cusker's, the 
wheelwright, in order to get the heck 
mended, that being Biddy's last but 
hopeless chance. Johnny's anxiety 
that his sister should win was of 
course very great, and in order to lose 
as little time as possible he struck 
across the country, passing through, 
or rather close by, Kilrudden forth, a 
place celebrated as a resort of the 
fairies. What was his astonishment, 
however, as he passed a white -thorn 
tree, to hear a female voice singing, 
in accompaniment to the sound of a 
spinning-wheel, the following words : 



THE RIVAL KEMPERS 29 

* There's a girl in this town doesn't know my 

name; 
But my name's Even Trot — Even Trot.' 

* There's a girl in this town/ said 
the lad, * who's in great distress, for 
she has broken her heck, and lost a 
husband. I'm now goin' to Donnel 
M*Cusker's to get it mended.' 

'What's her name?' said the little 
red woman. 

* Biddy Corrigan.' 

The little woman immediately 
whipped out the heck from her own 
wheel, and giving it to the boy, desired 
him to take it to his sister, and never 
mind Donnel M^Cusker. 

*You have little time to lose,' she 
added, * so go back and give her this ; 
but don't tell her how you got it, nor, 
above all things, that it was Even Trot 
that gave it to you.' 

The lad returned, and after giving 
the heck to his sister, as a matter of 
course told her that it was a little red 
woman called Even Trot that sent it 



30 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

to her, a circumstance which made 
tears of delight start to Biddy's eyes, 
for she knew now that Even Trot was 
the name of the old woman, and 
having known that, she felt that some- 
thing good would happen to her. She 
now resumed her spinning, and never 
did human fingers let down the thread 
so rapidly. The whole kemp were 
amazed at the quantity which from 
time to time filled her pirn. The 
hearts of her friends began to rise, and 
those of Sally's party to sink, as hour 
after hour she was fast approaching her 
rival, who now spun if possible with 
double speed on finding Biddy coming 
up with her. At length they were 
again even, and just at that moment 
in came her friend the little red 
woman, and asked aloud, *Is there 
any one in this kemp that knows 
my name?' This question she asked 
three times before Biddy could pluck 
up courage to answer her. She at 
last said, 



THE RIVAL KEMPERS 31 

' There's a girl in this town does know your 

name — 
Your name is Even Trot — Even Trot. ' 

*Ay,' said the old woman, *and so 
it is ; and let that name be your guide 
and your husband's through life. Go 
steadily along, but let your step be 
even ; stop little \ keep always advanc- 
ing; and you'll never have cause to 
rue the day that you first saw Even 
Trot.' 

We need scarcely add that Biddy 
won the kemp and the husband, and 
that she and Shaun lived long and 
happily together ; and I have only now 
to wish, kind reader, that you and I 
may live longer and more happily still. 





THE YOUNG PIPER 
By Crofton Croker 

(HERE lived not long since, 
on the borders of the 
county Tipperary, a decent 
honest couple, whose names 
were Mick Flannigan and Judy Mul- 
doon. These poor people were blessed, 
as the saying is, with four children, all 
boys : three of them were as fine, stout, 
healthy, good-looking children as ever 
the sun shone upon ; and it was enough 
to make any Irishman proud of the 
breed of his countrymen to see them 
about one o'clock on a fine summer's 
day standing at their father's cabin 



THE YOUNG PIPER 33 

door, with their beautiful flaxen hair 
hanging in curls about their head, and 
their cheeks like two rosy apples, and 
a big laughing potato smoking in their 
hand. A proud man was Mick of 
these fine children, and a proud woman, 
too, was Judy; and reason enough 
they had to be so. But it was far 
otherwise with the remaining one, 
which was the third eldest : he was 
the most miserable, ugly, ill-conditioned 
brat that ever God put life into; he 
was so ill-thriven that he never was able 
to stand alone, or to leave his cradle ; 
he had long, shaggy, matted, curled 
hair, as black as the soot; his face 
was of a greenish -yellow colour; his 
eyes were like two burning coals, and 
were for ever moving in his head, as if 
they had the perpetual motion. Be- 
fore he was a twelvemonth old he had 
a mouth full of great teeth ; his hands 
were like kites' claws, and his legs were 
no thicker than the handle of a whip, 
and about as straight as a reaping- 

D 



34 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

hook : to make the matter worse, he 
had the appetite of a cormorant, and 
the whinge, and the yelp, and the 
screech, and the yowl, was never out 
of his mouth. 

The neighbours all suspected that 
he was something not right, particu- 
larly as it was observed, when people, 
as they do in the country, got about 
the fire, and began to talk of religion 
and good things, the brat, as he lay 
in the cradle, which his mother generally 
put near the fireplace that he might 
be snug, used to sit up, as they were 
in the middle of their talk, and begin 
to bellow as if the devil was in him in 
right earnest ; this, as I said, led the 
neighbours to think that all was not 
right, and there was a general consul- 
tation held one day about what would 
be best to do with him. Some advised 
to put him out on the shovel, but 
Judy's pride was up at that. A pretty 
thing indeed, that a child of hers 
should be put on r. shovel and flung 



THE YOUNG PIPER 35 

out on the dunghill just like a dead 
kitten or a poisoned rat; no, no, she 
would not hear to that at all. One 
old woman, who was considered very 
skilful and knowing in fairy matters, 
strongly recommended her to put the 
tongs in the fire, and heat them red 
hot, and to take his nose in them, and 
that would beyond all manner of doubt 
make him tell what he was and where 
he came from (for the general suspicion 
was, that he had been changed by the 
good people) ; but Judy was too soft- 
hearted, and too fond of the imp, so 
she would not give in to this plan, 
though everybody said she was wrong, 
and maybe she was, but it's hard to 
blame a mother. Well, some advised 
one thing, and some another; at last 
one spoke of sending for the priest, 
who was a very holy and a very learned 
man, to see it. To this Judy of 
course had no objection ; but one 
thing or other always prevented her 
doing so, and the upshot of the 



36 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

business was that the priest never saw 
him. 

Things went on in the old way for 
some time longer. The brat continued 
yelping and yowling, and eating more 
than his three brothers put together, 
and playing all sorts of unlucky tricks, 
for he was mighty mischievously in- 
clined, till it happened one day that 
Tim Carrol, the blind piper, going his 
rounds, called in and sat down by the 
fire to have a bit of chat with the 
woman of the house. So after some 
time Tim, who was no churl of his 
music, yoked on the pipes, and began 
to bellows away in high style; when 
the instant he began, the young fellow, 
who had been lying as still as a mouse 
in his cradle, sat up, began to grin and 
twist his ugly face, to swing about his 
long tawny arms, and to kick out his 
crooked legs, and to show signs of 
great glee at the music. At last 
nothing would serve him but he should 
get the pipes into his own hands, and 



THE YOUNG PIPER 37 

to humour him his mother asked Tim 
to lend them to the child for a minute. 
Tim, who was kind to children, readily 
consented; and as Tim had not his 
sight, Judy herself brought them to 
the cradle, and went to put them on 
him; but she had no occasion, for 
the youth seemed quite up to the 
business. He buckled on the pipes, 
set the bellows under one arm, and the 
bag under the other, worked them both 
as knowingly as if he had been twenty 
years at the business, and hlted up 
*Sheela na guira' in the finest style 
imaginable. 

All were in astonishment : the poor 
woman crossed herself. Tim, who, 
as I said before, was dark^ and did 
not well know who was playing, was 
in great delight; and when he heard 
that it was a little prechan not five 
years old, that had never seen a set of 
pipes in his life, he wished the mother 
joy of hei son ; offered to take him off 
her hands if she would part with him, 



38 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

swore he was a born piper, a natural 
genus^ and declared that in a little time 
more, with the help of a little good 
instruction from himself, there would 
not be his match in the whole country. 
The poor woman was greatly delighted 
to hear all this, particularly as what 
Tim said about natural genus quieted 
some misgivings that were rising in 
her mind, lest what the neighbours 
said about his not being right might 
be too true ; and it gratified her more- 
over to think that her dear child (for 
she really loved the whelp) would not 
be forced to turn out and beg, but 
might earn decent bread for himself. 
So when Mick came home in the 
evening from his work, she up and 
told him all that had happened, and 
all that Tim Carrol had said; and 
Mick, as was natural, was very glad 
to hear it, for the helpless condition of 
the poor creature was a great trouble 
to him. So next day he took the pig 
to the fair, and with what it brought 



THE YOUNG PIPER 39 

set off to Clonmel, and bespoke a 
bran-new set of pipes, of the proper 
size for him. 

In about a fortnight the pipes came 
home, and the moment the chap in 
his cradle laid eyes on them he squealed 
with delight and threw up his pretty 
legs, and bumped himself in his cradle, 
and went on with a great many comical 
tricks; till at last, to quiet him, they 
gave him the pipes, and he immediately 
set to and pulled away at * Jig Polthog,' 
to the admiration of all who heard him. 

The fame of his skill on the pipes 
soon spread far and near, for there 
was not a piper in the six next counties 
could come at all near him, in *01d 
Moderagh rue,' or *The Hare in the 
Corn,' or *The Fox-hunter's Jig,' or 
' The Rakes of Cashel,' or ' The Piper's 
Maggot,' or any of the fine Irish jigs 
which make people dance whether 
they will or no : and it was surprising 
to hear him rattle away *The Fox- 
hunt'; you'd really think you heard 



40 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

the hounds giving tongue, and the 
terriers yelping always behind, and 
the huntsman and the whippers-in 
cheering or correcting the dogs ; it 
was, in short, the very next thing to 
seeing the hunt itself. 

The best of him was, he was noways 
stingy of his music, and many a merry 
dance the boys and girls of the 
neighbourhood used to have in his 
father's cabin ; and he would play up 
music for them, that they said used 
as it were to put quicksilver in their 
feet ; and they all declared they never 
moved so light and so airy to any 
piper's playing that ever they danced 
to. 

But besides all his fine Irish music, 
he had one queer tune of his own, 
the oddest that ever was heard; for 
the moment he began to play it every- 
thing in the house seemed disposed to 
dance ; the plates and porringers used 
to jingle on the dresser, the pots and 
pot-hooks used to rattle in the chimney, 



THE YOUNG PIPER 41 

and people used even to fancy they 
felt the stools moving from under 
them ; but, however it might be with 
the stools, it is certain that no one 
could keep long sitting on them, for 
both old and young always fell to 
capering as hard as ever they could. 
The girls complained that when he 
began this tune it always threw them 
out in their dancing, and that they 
never could handle their feet rightly, 
for they felt the floor like ice under 
them, and themselves every moment 
ready to come sprawling on their 
backs or their faces. The young 
bachelors who wished to show off their 
dancing and their new pumps, and 
their bright red or green and yellow 
garters, swore that it confused them so 
that they never could go rightly through 
the heel and toe or cover the buckle^ or 
any of their best steps, but felt them- 
selves always all bedizzied and be- 
wildered, and then old and young 
would go jostling and knocking to- 



42 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

gether in a frightful manner; and 
when the unlucky brat had them all 
in this way, whirligigging about the 
floor, he'd grin and chuckle and chatter, 
for all the world like Jacko the monkey 
when he has played off some of his 
roguery. 

The older he grew the worse he 
grew, and by the time he was six years 
old there was no standing the house 
for him; he was always making his 
brothers burn or scald themselves, or 
break their shins over the pots and 
stools. One time, in harvest, he was 
left at home by himself, and when his 
mother came in she found the cat 
a-horseback on the dog, with her face to 
the tail, and her legs tied round him, 
and the urchin playing his queer tune 
to them ; so that the dog went barking 
and jumping about, and puss was 
mewing for the dear life, and slapping 
her tail backwards and forwards, which, 
as it would hit against the dog's chaps, 
he'd snap at and bite, and then there 



THE YOUNG PIPER 43 

was the philliloo. Another time, the 
farmer with whom Mick worked, a very 
decent, respectable man, happened to 
call in, and Judy wiped a stool with 
her apron, and invited him to sit 
down and rest himself after- his walk. 
He was sitting with his back to the 
cradle, and behind him was a pan of 
blood, for Judy was making pig's 
puddings. The lad lay quite still in 
his nest, and watched his opportunity 
till he got ready a hook at the end of 
a piece of twine, which he contrived to 
fling so handily that it caught in the 
bob of the man's nice new wig, and 
soused it in the pan of blood. Another 
time his mother was coming in from 
milking the cow, with the pail on her 
head : the minute he saw her he 
lilted up his infernal tune, and the 
poor woman, letting go the pail, 
clapped her hands aside, and began to 
dance a jig, and tumbled the milk all 
a-top of her husband, who was bringing 
in some turf to boil the supper. In 



44 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

short, there would be no end to telling 
all his pranks, and all the mischievous 
tricks he played. 

Soon after, some mischances began 
to happen to the farmer's cattle. A 
horse took the staggers, a fine veal calf 
died of the black-leg, and some of his 
sheep of the red-water ; the cows began 
to grow vicious, and to kick down the 
milk-pails, and the roof of one end of 
the barn fell in ; and the farmer took 
it into his head that Mick Flannigan's 
unlucky child was the cause of all the 
mischief. So one day he called Mick 
aside, and said to him, * Mick, you see 
things are not going on with me as 
they ought, and to be plain with you, 
Mick, I think that child of yours is the 
cause of it. I am really falling away 
to nothing with fretting, and I can 
hardly sleep on my bed at night for 
thinking of what may happen before 
the morning. So Td be glad if you'd 
look out for work somewhere else; 
you're as good a man as any in the 



THE YOUNG PIPER 45 

country, and there's no fear but you'll 
have your choice of work.' To this 
Mick replied, 'that he was sorry for 
his losses, and still sorrier that he 
or his should be thought to be 
the cause of them ; that for his own 
part he was not quite easy in his 
mind about that child, but he had 
him and so must keep him ' ; and he 
promised to look out for another place 
immediately. 

Accordingly, next Sunday at chapel 
Mick gave out that he was about 
leaving the work at John Riordan's, 
and immediately a farmer who lived a 
couple of miles off, and who wanted a 
ploughman (the last one having just 
left him), came up to Mick, and offered 
him a house and garden, and work all 
the year round. Mick, who knew him 
to be a good employer, immediately 
closed with him; so it was agreed 
that the farmer should send a car ^ to 
take his little bit of furniture, and that 
^ Car, a cart. 



46 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

he should remove on the following 
Thursday. 

When Thursday came, the car came 
according to promise, and Mick loaded 
it, and put the cradle with the child 
and his pipes on the top, and Judy sat 
beside it to take care of him, lest he 
should tumble out and be killed. They 
drove the cow before them, the dog 
followed, but the cat was of course left 
behind; and the other three children 
went along the road picking skeehories 
(haws) and blackberries, for it was a 
fine day towards the latter end of 
harvest. 

They had to cross a river, but as it 
ran through a bottom between two 
high banks, you did not see it till 
you were close on it. The young 
fellow was lying pretty quiet in the 
bottom of the cradle, till they came to 
the head of the bridge, when hearing the 
roaring of the water (for there was a 
great flood in the river, as it had rained 
heavily for the last two or three days). 



THE YOUNG PIPER 47 

he sat up in his cradle and looked 
about him ; and the instant he got a 
sight of the water, and found they 
were going to take him across it, oh, 
how he did bellow and how he did 
squeal ! no rat caught in a snap-trap 
ever sang out equal to him. * Whist ! 
A lanna,' said Judy, * there's no fear 
of you ; sure it's only over the stone 
bridge we're going.' — 'Bad luck to 
you, you old rip ! ' cried he, ' what a 
pretty trick you've played me to bring 
me here ! ' and still went on yelling, 
and the farther they got on the bridge 
the louder he yelled ; till at last Mick 
could hold out no longer, so giving 
him a great skelp of the whip he had 
in his hand, * Devil choke you, you 
brat ! ' said he, * will you never stop 
bawling ? a body can't hear their ears 
for you.' The moment he felt the 
thong of the whip he leaped up in the 
cradle, clapped the pipes under his 
arm, gave a most wicked grin at Mick, 
and jumped clean over the battlements 



48 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

of the bridge down into the water. 
* Oh, my child, my child ! ' shouted 
Judy, *he's gone for ever from me/ 
Mick and the rest of the children ran 
to the other side of the bridge, and 
looking over, they saw him coming out 
from under the arch of the bridge, 
sitting cross-legged on the top of a 
white-headed wave, and playing away 
on the pipes as merrily as if nothing 
had happened. The river was running 
very rapidly, so he was whirled away at 
a great rate ; but he played as fast, ay, 
and faster, than the river ran; and 
though they set off as hard as they 
could along the bank, yet, as the river 
made a sudden turn round the hill, 
about a hundred yards below the 
bridge, by the time they got there he 
was out of sight, and no one ever laid 
eyes on him more; but the general 
opinion was that he went home with 
the pipes to his own relations, the good 
people, to make music for them. 




A FAIRY ENCHANTMENT 




Story-teller — Michael Hart 
Recorder — W. B. Yeats 

N 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 

£ 



so IRISH FAIRY TALES 

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 



A FAIRY ENCHANTMENT 51 

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 



52 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

in a corpse and put it on the spit and 
set me turning it/ * That will do/ says 
he ; * you may go in there and lie down 
on the bed/ And in I went, nothing 
loath, and in the morning where was I 
but in the middle of a green field. 




TEIGUE OF THE LEE 



By Crofton Croker 




CAN'T stop in the house 
— I won't stop in it for 
all the money that is 
buried in the old castle of 
Carrigrohan. If ever there was such a 
thing in the world I — to be abused to 
my face night and day, and nobody to 
the fore doing it ! and then, if I'm 
angry, to be laughed at with a great 
roaring ho, ho, ho ! I won't stay in 
the house after to-night, if there was 
not another place in the country to 
put my head under.' This angry 
sohloquy was pronounced in the hall 



54 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

of the old manor-house of Carrigrohan 
by John Sheehan. John was a new 
servant ; he had been only three days 
in the house, which had the character 
of being haunted, and in that short 
space of time he had been abused and 
laughed at by a voice which sounded 
as if a man spoke with his head in a 
cask ; nor could he discover who was 
the speaker, or from whence the voice 
came. * I'll not stop here,' said John ; 
* and that ends the matter.' 

* Ho, ho, ho ! be quiet, John 
Sheehan, or else worse will happen to 
you.' 

John instantly ran to the hall 
window, as the words were evidently 
spoken by a person immediately out- 
side, but no one was visible. He had 
scarcely placed his face at the pane of 
glass when he heard another loud * Ho, 
ho, ho ! ' as if behind him in the hall ; 
as quick as lightning he turned his 
head, but no living thing was to be 
seen. 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 55 

* Ho, ho, ho, John ! ' shouted a 
voice that appeared to come from the 
lawn before the house : * do you think 
you'll see Teigue ? — oh, never ! as long 
as you live ! so leave alone looking 
after him, and mind your business ; 
there's plenty of company to dinner 
from Cork to be here to-day, and 'tis 
time you had the cloth laid.' 

* Lord bless us ! there's more of it ! 
— I'll never stay another day here,' 
repeated John. 

* Hold your tongue, and stay where 
you are quietly, and play no tricks on 
Mr. Pratt, as you did on Mr. Jervois 
about the spoons.' 

John Sheehan was confounded by 
this address from his invisible perse- 
cutor, but nevertheless he mustered 
courage enough to say, * Who are you ? 
come here, and let me see you, if you 
are a man ' ; but he received in reply 
only a laugh of unearthly derision, which 
was followed by a * Good-bye — I'll 
watch you at dinner, John ! ' 



56 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* Lord between us and harm ! this 
beats all ! I'll watch you at dinner ! 
maybe you will ! 'tis the broad day- 
light, so 'tis no ghost; but this is a 
terrible place, and this is the last day 
I'll stay in it. How does he know 
about the spoons ? if he tells it I'm a 
ruined man ! there was no living soul 
could tell it to him but Tim Barrett, 
and he's far enough off in the wilds of 
Botany Bay now, so how could he 
know it ? I can't tell for the world ! 
But what's that I see there at the 
corner of the wall ! 'tis not a man ! oh, 
what a fool I am ! 'tis only the old 
stump of a tree ! But this is a shock- 
ing place — I'll never stop in it, for I'll 
leave the house to-morrow; the very 
look of it is enough to frighten any 
one.' 

The mansion had certainly an air of 
desolation ; it was situated in a lawn, 
which had nothing to break its uniform 
level save a few tufts of narcissuses 
and a couple of old trees coeval with 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 57 

the building. The house stood at a 
short distance from the road, it was 
upwards of a century old, and Time 
was doing his work upon it ; its walls 
were weather-stained in all colours, its 
roof showed various white patches, it 
had no look of comfort ; all was dim 
and dingy without, and within there 
was an air of gloom, of departed and 
departing greatness, which harmonised 
well with the exterior. It required all 
the exuberance of youth and of gaiety 
to remove the impression, almost 
amounting to awe, with which you 
trod the huge square hall, paced along 
the gallery which surrounded the hall, 
or explored the long rambling passages 
below stairs. The ballroom, as the 
large drawing-room was called, and 
several other apartments, were in a 
state of decay ; the walls were stained 
with damp, and I remember well the 
sensation of awe which I felt creeping 
over me when, boy as I was, and full 
of boyish life and wild and ardent 



58 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

spirits, I descended to the vaults; 
all without and within me became 
chilled beneath their dampness and 
gloom — their extent, too, terrified me ; 
nor could the merriment of my two 
schoolfellows, whose father, a respect- 
able clergyman, rented the dwelling 
for a time, dispel the feelings of a 
romantic imagination until I once 
again ascended to the upper regions. 

John had pretty well recovered him- 
self as the dinner -hour approached, 
and several guests arrived. They were 
all seated at the table, and had begun 
to enjoy the excellent repast, when a 
voice was heard in the lawn. 

* Ho, ho, ho ! Mr. Pratt, won't you 
give poor Teigue some dinner? ho, 
ho ! a fine company you have there, 
and plenty of everything that's good ; 
sure you won't forget poor Teigue ? ' 

John dropped the glass he had in 
his hand. 

•Who is that?' said Mr. Pratt's 
brother, an officer of the artillery. 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 59 

*That is Teigue/ said Mr. Pratt, 
laughing, * whom you must often have 
heard me mention/ 

*And pray, Mr. Pratt,' inquired 
another gentleman, * who is Teigue ? ' 

* That,' he replied, * is more than I 
can tell. No one has ever been able 
to catch even a glimpse of him. I 
have been on the watch for a whole 
evening with three of my sons, yet, 
although his voice sometimes sounded 
almost in my ear, I could not see him. 
I fancied, indeed, that I saw a man 
in a white frieze jacket pass into the 
door from the garden to the lawn, but 
it could be only fancy, for I found the 
door locked, while the fellow, whoever 
he is, was laughing at our trouble. 
He visits us occasionally, and some- 
times a long interval passes between 
his visits, as in the present case ; it is 
now nearly two years since we heard 
that hollow voice outside the window. 
He has never done any injury that we 
know of, and once when he broke a 



6o IRISH FAIRY TALES 

plate, he brought one back exactly 
like it.' 

* It is very extraordinary,' exclaimed 
several of the company. 

*But,' remarked a gentleman to 
young Mr. Pratt, *your father said he 
broke a plate ; how did he get it with- 
out your seeing him ? ' 

* When he asks for some dinner we 
put it outside the window and go away ; 
whilst we watch he will not take it, 
but no sooner have we withdrawn 
than it is gone.' 

* How does he know that you are 
watching ? ' 

* That's more than I can tell, but he 
either knows or suspects. One day 
my brothers Robert and James with 
myself were in our back parlour, which 
has a window into the garden, when 
he came outside and said, " Ho, ho, 
ho ! Master James and Robert and 
Henry, give poor Teigue a glass of 
whisky." James went out of the room, 
filled a glass with whisky, vinegar, and 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 6i 

salt, and brought it to him. "Here, 
Teigue," said he, " come for it now." — 
" Well, put it down, then, on the step 
outside the window." This was done, 
and we stood looking at it. " There, 
now, go away," he shouted. We re- 
tired, but still watched it. " Ho, ho ! 
you are watching Teigue ! go out of 
the room, now, or I won't take it." We 
went outside the door and returned, 
the glass was gone, and a moment after 
we heard him roaring and cursing 
frightfully. He took away the glass, 
but the next day it was on the stone 
step under the window, and there were 
crumbs of bread in the inside, as if he 
had put it in his pocket ; from that 
time he has not been heard till to-day.' 
* Oh,' said the colonel, * I'll get a 
sight of him ; you are not used to 
these things; an old soldier has the 
best chance, and as I shall finish my 
dinner with this wing, I'll be ready for 
him when he speaks next — Mr. Bell, 
will you take a glass of wine with me ? ' 



62 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

' Ho, ho ! Mr. Bell/ shouted Teigue. 
* Ho, ho ! Mr. Bell, you were a Quaker 
long ago. Ho, ho ! Mr. Bell, you're a 
pretty boy ! a pretty Quaker you were ; 
and now you're no Quaker, nor anything 
else : ho, ho ! Mr. Bell. And there's 
Mr. Parkes : to be sure, Mr. Parkes looks 
mighty fine to-day, with his powdered 
head, and his grand silk stockings and 
his bran new rakish-red waistcoat. 
And there's Mr. Cole : did you ever 
see such a fellow ? A pretty company 
you've brought together, Mr. Pratt : kiln- 
dried Quakers, butter-buying buckeens 
from Mallow Lane, and a drinking 
exciseman from the Coal Quay, to meet 
the great thundering artillery general 
that is come out . of the Indies, and is 
the biggest dust of them all.' 

* You scoundrel ! ' exclaimed the 
colonel, *I'll make you show your- 
self; and snatching up his sword 
from a corner of the room, he sprang 
out of the window upon the lawn. In 
a moment a shout of laughter, so hollow, 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 63 

SO unlike any human sound, made 
him stop, as well as Mr. Bell, who with 
a huge oak stick was close at the 
colonel's heels; others of the party 
followed to the lawn, and the remainder 
rose and went to the windows. * Come 
on, coloneV said Mr. Bell ; ^ let us 
catch this impudent rascal.' 

* Ho, ho ! Mr. Bell, here I am — 
here's Teigue — why don't you catch 
him ? Ho, ho ! Colonel Pratt, what a 
pretty soldier you are to draw your 
sword upon poor Teigue, that never 
did anybody harm.' 

* Let us see your face, you scoundrel,' 
said the colonel. 

^ Ho, ho, ho ! — look at me — look at 
me : do you see the wind, Colonel 
Pratt? you'll see Teigue as soon; so 
go in and finish your dinner.' 

*If you're upon the earth, I'll find 
you, you villain 1 ' said the colonel, 
whilst the same unearthly shout of 
derision seemed to come from be- 
hind an angle of the building. * He's 



64 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

round that corner/ said Mr. Bell, 
*run, run.' 

They followed the sound, which was 
continued at intervals along the garden 
wall, but could discover no human 
being; at last both stopped to draw 
breath, and in an instant, almost at 
their ears, sounded the shout — 

* Ho, ho, ho ! Colonel Pratt, do you 
see Teigue now? do you hear him? 
Ho, ho, ho ! you're a fine colonel to 
follow the wind.' 

*Not that way, Mr. Bell— not that 
way ; come here,' said the colonel. 

* Ho, ho, ho ! what a fool you are ; 
do you think Teigue is going to show 
himself to you in the field, there? 
But, colonel, follow me if you can : 
you a soldier ! ho, ho, ho ! ' The 
colonel was enraged : he followed the 
voice over hedge and ditch, alternately 
laughed at and taunted by the unseen 
object of his pursuit (Mr. Bell, who 
was heavy, was soon thrown out) ; 
until at length, after being led a weary 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 65 

chase, he found himself at the top of 
the cliff, over that part of the river Lee, 
which, from its great depth, and the 
blackness of its water, has received the 
name of Hell -hole. Here, on the 
edge of the cliff, stood the colonel out 
of breath, and mopping his forehead 
with his handkerchief, while the voice, 
which seemed close at his feet, ex- 
claimed, *Now, Colonel Pratt, now, if 
you're a soldier, here's a leap for you ! 
Now look at Teigue — ^why don't you 
look at him ? Ho, ho, ho ! Come 
along ; you're warm, I'm sure. Colonel 
Pratt, so come in and cool yourself; 
Teigue is going to have a swim ! ' The 
voice seemed as if descending amongst 
the trailing ivy and brushwood which 
clothes this picturesque cliff nearly 
from top to bottom, yet it was impos- 
sible that any human being could have 
found footing. *Now, colonel, have 
you courage to take the leap ? Ho, 
ho, ho ! what a pretty soldier you are. 
Good-bye; I'll see you again in ten 

F 



66 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

minutes above, at the house — look at 
your watch, colonel : there's a dive 
for you'; and a heavy plunge into 
the water was heard. The colonel 
stood still, but no sound followed, 
and he walked slowly back to the 
house, not quite half a mile from 
the Crag. 

* Well, did you see Teigue ? ' said his 
brother, whilst his nephews, scarcely 
able to smother their laughter, stood 
by. 

*Give me some wine,' said the 
colonel. *I never was led such a 
dance in my life ; the fellow carried 
me all round and round till he brought 
me to the edge of the cliif, and then 
down he went into Hell-hole, telling 
me he'd be here in ten minutes ; 'tis 
more than that now, but he's not 
come.' 

* Ho, ho, ho ! colonel, isn't he here ? 
Teigue never told a lie in his life : but, 
Mr. Pratt, give me a drink and my 
dinner, and then good-night to you all. 



TEIGUE OF THE LEE 67 

for I'm tired ; and that's the colonel's 
doing.' A plate of food was ordered ; 
it was placed by John, with fear and 
trembling, on the lawn under the 
window. Every one kept on the watch, 
and the plate remained undisturbed 
for some time. 

' Ah ! Mr. Pratt, will you starve 
poor Teigue? Make every one go 
away from the windows, and Master 
Henry out of the tree, and Master 
Richard off the garden wall.' 

The eyes of the company were 
turned to the tree and the garden wall ; 
the two boys' attention was occupied 
in getting down ; the visitors were 
looking at them ; and * Ho, ho, ho ! — 
good luck to you, Mr. Pratt 1 'tis a 
good dinner, and there's the plate, 
ladies and gentlemen. Good-bye to 
you, colonel ! — good-bye, Mr. Bell ! 
good-bye to you all ! ' brought their 
attention back, when they saw the 
empty plate lying on the grass; and 
Teigue's voice was heard no more 



68 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

for that evening. Many visits were 
afterwards paid by Teigue ; but 
never was he seen, nor was any 
discovery ever made of his person 
or character. 




THE FAIRY GREYHOUND 




BADDY M^DERMID was one 
of the most rollicking boys 
in the whole county of 
Kildare. Fair or pattern^ 
wouldn't be held barring he was in the 
midst of it. He was in every place, 
like bad luck, and his poor little farm 
was seldom sowed in season ; and 
where he expected barley, there grew 
nothing but weeds. Money became 
scarce in poor Paddy's pocket ; and 
the cow went after the pig, until nearly 

^ A merry-making in the honour of some 
patron saint. 



70 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

all he had was gone. Lucky however 
for him, if he had gomch (sense) enough 
to mind it, he had a most beautiful 
dream one night as he lay tossicated 
(drunk) in the Rath ^ of Monogue, be- 
cause he wasn't able to come home. 
He dreamt that, under the place where 
he lay, a pot of money was buried 
since long before the memory of man. 
Paddy kept the dream to himself until 
the next night, when, taking a spade 
and pickaxe, with a bottle of holy water, 
he went to the Rath, and, having made 
a circle round the place, commenced 
diggin' sure enough, for the bare life 
and sowl of him thinkin' that he was 
made up for ever and ever. He had 
sunk about twice the depth of his 
knees, when whack the pickaxe struck 
against a flag, and at the same time 
Paddy heard something breathe quite 
near him. He looked up, and just 

1 Raths are little fields enclosed by circular 
ditches. They are thought to be the sheep- 
folds and dwellings of an ancient people. 



1 




'fornent him there sat on his haunches a 

COMELY-LOOKING GREYHOUND." [Page 71. 



THE FAIRY GREYHOUND 71 

foment him there sat on his haunches 
a comely-looking greyhound. 

*God save you/ said Paddy, every 
hair in his head standing up as straight 
as a sally twig. 

*Save you kindly/ answered the 
greyhound — leaving out God, the 
beast, bekase he was the divil. Christ 
defend us from ever seeing the likes 
o^ him. 

*Musha, Paddy M*Dermid,' said 
he, * what would you be looking after 
in that grave of a hole you're diggin' 
there ? ' 

* Faith, nothing at all, at all,' an- 
swered Paddy ; bekase you see he 
didn't like the stranger. 

*Arrah, be easy now, Paddy M*Der- 
mid,' said the greyhound; * don't I 
know very well what you are looking 
for?' 

*Why then in truth, if you do, I 
may as well tell you at wonst, particu- 
larly as you seem a civil -looking 
gentleman, that's not above speak- 



72 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

ing to a poor gossoon like myself.' 
(Paddy wanted to butter him up a 
bit.) 

*Well then/ said the greyhound, 
* come out here and sit down on this 
bank,' and Paddy, like a gomulagh 
(fool), did as he was desired, but had 
hardly put his brogue outside of the 
circle made by the holy water, when 
the beast of a hound set upon him, 
and drove him out of the Rath ; 
for Paddy was frightened, as well he 
might, at the fire that flamed from 
his mouth. But next night he re- 
turned, full sure the money was there. 
As before, he made a circle, and 
touched the flag, when my gentleman, 
the greyhound, appeared in the ould 
place. 

* Oh ho,' said Paddy, * you are there, 
are you? but it will be a long day, 
I promise you, before you trick me 
again'; and he made another stroke 
at the flag. 

*Well, Paddy M^Dermid,' said the 



THE FAIRY GREYHOUND 73 

hound, * since you will have money, 
you must ; but say, how much will 
satisfy you ? ' 

Paddy scratched his conlaan, and 
after a while said — 

*How much will your honour give 
me?' for he thought it better to be 
civil. 

*Just as much as you consider 
reasonable, Paddy M^Dermid/ 

*Egad,' says Paddy to himself, 
* there's nothing like axin' enough.' 

*Say fifty thousand pounds,' said 
he. (He might as well have said a 
hundred thousand, for I'll be bail the 
beast had money gulloure.) 

* You shall have it,' said the hound ; 
and then, after trotting away a little 
bit, he came back with a crock full 
of guineas between his paws. 

* Come here and reckon them,' said 
he ; but Paddy was up to him, and 
refused to stir, so the crock was shoved 
alongside the blessed and holy circle, 
and Paddy pulled it in, right glad to 



74 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

have it in his clutches, and never 
stood still until he reached his own 
home, where his guineas turned into 
little bones, and his ould mother 
laughed at him. Paddy now swore 
vengeance against the deceitful beast 
of a greyhound, and went next night 
to the Rath again, where, as before, he 
met Mr. Hound. 

*So you are here again, Paddy?' 
said he. 

* Yes, you big blaggard,' said Paddy, 
* and I'll never leave this place until I 
pull out the pot of money that's buried 
here.' 

*0h, you won't,' said he. *Well, 
Paddy M'Dermid, since I see you are 
such a brave venturesome fellow I'll 
be after making you up if you walk 
downstairs with me out of the could ' ; 
and sure enough it was snowing like 
murder. 

* Oh may I never see Athy if I do,' 
returned Paddy, *for you only want 
to be loading me with ould bones. 



THE FAIRY GREYHOUND 75 

or perhaps breaking my own, which 
would be just as bad.* 

* Ton honour/ said the hound, * I 
am your friend ; and so don't stand 
in your own hght ; come with me and 
your fortune is made. Remain where 
you are and you'll die a beggar-man.' 
So bedad, with one palaver and an- 
other, Paddy consented; and in the 
middle of the Rath opened up a 
beautiful staircase, down which they 
walked ; and after winding and turning 
they came to a house much finer than 
the Duke of Leinster's, in which all 
the tables and chairs were solid gold. 
Paddy was delighted ; and after sitting 
down, a fine lady handed him a glass 
of something to drink \ but he had 
hardly swallowed a spoonful when all 
around set up a horrid yell, and those 
who before appeared beautiful now 
looked like what they were — enraged 
* good people ' (fairies). Before Paddy 
could bless himself, they seized him, 
legs and arms, carried him out to a 



76 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

great high hill that stood like a wall 
over a river, and flung him down. 
* Murder ! ' cried Paddy ; but it was no 
use, no use ; he fell upon a rock, and 
lay there as dead until next morning, 
where some people found him in the 
trench that surrounds the mote of Coul- 
hall, the * good people * having carried 
him there ; and from that hour to the 
day of his death he was the greatest 
object in the world. He walked double, 
and had his mouth (God bless us) where 
his ear should be. 



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THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 

By Crofton Croker • 

|N the shore of Smerwick 
harbour, one fine summer's 
morning, just at daybreak, 
stood Dick Fitzgerald 
* shoghing the dudeen,' which may be 
translated, smoking his pipe. The 
sun was gradually rising behind the 
lofty Brandon, the dark sea was getting 
green in the light, and the mists clear- 
ing away out of the valleys went rolling 
and curling like the smoke from the 
corner of Dick's mouth. 

*'Tis just the pattern of a pretty 
morning,' said Dick, taking the pipe 



78 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

from between his lips, and looking to- 
wards the distant ocean, which lay as 
still and tranquil as a tomb of polished 
marble. * Well, to be sure,' continued 
he, after a pause, * 'tis mighty lonesome 
to be talking to one's self by way of 
company, and not to have another soul 
to answer one — nothing but the child 
of one's own voice, the echo ! I know 
this, that if I had the luck, or may 
be the misfortune,' said Dick, with a 
melancholy smile, * to have the woman, 
it would not be this way with me ! and 
what in the wide world is a man with- 
out a wife ? He's no more surely than 
a bottle without a drop of drink in 
it, or dancing without music, or the 
left leg of a scissors, or a fishing-line 
without a hook, or any other matter 
that is no ways complete. Is it not 
so?' said Dick Fitzgerald, casting his 
eyes towards a rock upon the strand, 
which, though it could not speak, stood 
up as firm and looked as bold as ever 
Kerry witness did. 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 79 

But what was his astonishment at 
beholding, just at the foot of that rock, 
a beautiful young creature combing her 
hair, which was of a sea-green colour ; 
and now the salt water shining on it 
appeared, in the morning light, like 
melted butter upon cabbage. 

Dick guessed at once that she was 
a Merrow,^ although he had never seen 
one before, for he spied the cohuleen 
driuth^ or little enchanted cap, which 
the sea people use for diving down into 
the ocean, lying upon the strand near 
her; and he had heard that, if once 
he could possess himself of the cap 
she would lose the power of going 
away into the water: so he seized it 
with all speed, and she, hearing the 
noise, turned her head about as natural 
as any Christian. 

When the Merrow saw that her 

httle diving-cap was gone, the salt tears 

— doubly salt, no doubt, from her — 

came trickling down her cheeks, and 

^ Sea fairy. 



8o IRISH FAIRY TALES 

she began a low mournful cry with just 
the tender voice of a new-born infant. 
Dick, although he knew well enough 
what she was crying for, determined to 
keep the cohuleen driuth, let her cry 
never so much, to see what luck would 
come out of it. Yet he could not help 
pitying her ; and when the dumb thing 
looked up in his face, with her cheeks 
all moist with tears, 'twas enough to 
make any one feel, let alone Dick, who 
had ever and always, like most of his 
countrymen, a mighty tender heart of 
his own. 

* Don't cry, my darling,' said Dick 
Fitzgerald ; but the Merrow, like any 
bold child, only cried the more for 
that. 

Dick sat himself down by her side, 
and took hold of her hand by way of 
comforting her. 'Twas in no particular 
an ugly hand, only there was a small 
web between the fingers, as there is in 
a duck's foot ; but 'twas as thin and as 
white as the skin between egg and shell. 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 8t 

* What's your name, my darling ? ' 
says Dick, thinking to make her con- 
versant with him ; but he got no 
answer ; and he was certain sure now, 
either that she could not speak, or 
did not understand him : he therefore 
squeezed her hand in his, as the only 
way he had of talking to her. It's the 
universal language; and there's not a 
woman in the world, be she fish or 
lady, that does not understand it. 

The Merrow did not seem much 
displeased at this mode of conversa- 
tion ; and making an end of her whin- 
ing all at once, *Man,' says she, look- 
ing up in Dick Fitzgerald's face ; * man, 
will you eat me ? ' 

* By all the red petticoats and check 
aprons between Dingle and Tralee,' 
cried Dick, jumping up in amazement, 
* I'd as soon eat myself, my jewel ! 
Is it I eat you, my pet? Now, 'twas 
some ugly ill-looking thief of a fish put 
that notion into your own pretty head, 
with the nice green hair down upon it, 

G 



82 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

that is SO cleanly combed out this 
morning ! ' 

*Man/ said the Merrow, *what will 
you do with me if you won't eat me ? ' 

Dick's thoughts were running on a 
wife : he saw, at the first glimpse, that 
she was handsome; but since she spoke, 
and spoke too like any real woman, he 
was fairly in love with her. 'Twas the 
neat way she called him man that 
settled the matter entirely. 

* Fish,' says Dick, trying to speak to 
her after her own short fashion ; * fish,' 
says he, * here's my word, fresh and 
fasting, for you this blessed morning, 
that I'll make you Mistress Fitzgerald 
before all the world, and that's what 
ril do.' 

* Never say the word twice,' says 
she; *I'm ready and willing to be 
yours. Mister Fitzgerald; but stop, if 
you please, till I twist up my hair.' 
It was some time before she had settled 
it entirely to her liking ; for she guessed, 
I suppose, that she was going among 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 83 

Strangers, where she would be looked 
at. When that was done, the Merrow 
put the comb in her pocket, and then 
bent down her head and whispered 
some words to the water that was close 
to the foot of the rock. 

Dick saw the murmur of the words 
upon the top of the sea, going out 
towards the wide ocean, just like a 
breath of wind rippling along, and, 
says he, in the greatest wonder, * Is it 
speaking you are, my darling, to the • 
salt water ? ' 

'It's nothing else,' says she, quite 
carelessly ; * I'm just sending word 
home to my father not to be waiting 
breakfast for me; just to keep him 
from being uneasy in his mind.' 

* And who's your father, my duck ? ' 
said Dick. 

* What ! ' said the Merrow, * did you 
never hear of my father ? he's the king 
of the waves to be sure ! ' 

* And yourself, then, is a real king's 
daughter ? ' said Dick, opening his two 



84 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

eyes to take a full and true survey of 
his wife that was to be. *0h, I'm 
nothing else but a made man with 
you, and a king your father; to be 
sure he has all the money that's down 
at the bottom of the sea ! ' 

* Money/ repeated the Merrow, 

* what's money ? ' 

* 'Tis no bad thing to have when one 
wants it/ replied Dick ; * and may be 
now the fishes have the understanding 
to bring up whatever you bid them ? ' 

*0h yes/ said the Merrow, *they 
bring me what I want/ 

' To speak the truth then,' said Dick, 

* 'tis a straw bed I have at home before 
you, and that, I'm thinking, is no ways 
fitting for a king's daughter; so if 
'twould not be displeasing to you, 
just to mention a nice feather bed, 
with a pair of new blankets — but 
what am I talking about ? may be you 
have not such things as beds down 
under the water ? ' 

* By all means,' said she, * Mr. 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 85 

Fitzgerald — plenty of beds at your 
service. I've fourteen oyster-beds of 
my own, not to mention one just 
planting for the rearing of young ones.' 

*You have?' says Dick, scratching 
his head and looking a little puzzled. 
*Tis a feather bed I was speaking of; 
but, clearly, yours is the very cut of a 
decent plan to have bed and supper so 
handy to each other, that a person 
when they'd have the one need never 
ask for the other.* 

However, bed or no bed, money or 
no money, Dick Fitzgerald determined 
to marry the Merrow, and the Merrow 
had given her consent. Away they 
went, therefore, across the strand, 
from Gollerus to Ballinrunnig, where 
Father Fitzgibbon happened to be that 
morning. 

* There are two words to this bargain, 
Dick Fitzgerald,' said his Reverence, 
looking mighty glum. *And is it a 
fishy woman you'd marry ? The Lord 
preserve us ! Send the scaly creature 



86 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

home to her own people ; that^s my 
advice to you, wherever she came from.' 

Dick had the cohuleen driuth in his 
hand, and was about to give it back to 
the Merrow, who looked covetously at 
it, but he thought for a moment, and 
then says he, * Please your Reverence, 
she's a king's daughter.' 

*If she was the daughter of fifty 
kings,' said Father Fitzgibbon, * I tell 
you, you can't marry her, she being a 
fish.' 

* Please your Reverence,' said Dick 
again, in an undertone, *she is as 
mild and as beautiful as the moon.' 

* If she was as mild and as beautiful 
as the sun, moon, and stars, all put 
together, I tell you, Dick Fitzgerald,' 
said the Priest, stamping his right 
foot, *you can't marry her, she being 
a fish.' 

*But she has all the gold that's 
down in the sea only for the asking, 
and I'm a made man if I marry her ; 
and,' said Dick, looking up slily, ^ I can 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 87 

make it worth any one's while to do 
the job.' 

* Oh ! that alters the case entirely,' 
repHed the Priest ; * why there's some 
reason now in what you say : why 
didn't you tell me this before ? marry 
her by all means, if she was ten times 
a fish. Money, you know, is not to 
be refused in these bad times, and I 
may as well have the hansel of it as 
another, that may be would not take 
half the pains in counselling you that 
I have done.' 

So Father Fitzgibbon married Dick 
Fitzgerald to the Merrow, and like 
any loving couple, they returned to 
Gollerus well pleased with each other. 
Everything prospered with Dick — he 
was at the sunny side of the world ; 
the Merrow made the best of wives, 
and they lived together in the greatest 
contentment. 

It was wonderful to see, considering 
where she had been brought up, how 
she would busy herself about the house. 



88 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

and how well she nursed the children ; 
for, at the end of three years there 
were as many young Fitzgeralds — two 
boys and a girl. 

In short, Dick was a happy man, 
and so he might have been to the end 
of his days if he had only had the 
sense to take care of what he had got ; 
many another man, however, beside 
Dick, has not had wit enough to do 
that. 

One day, when Dick was obliged to 
go to Tralee, he left the wife minding 
the children at home after him, and 
thinking she had plenty to do without 
disturbing his fishing-tackle. 

Dick was no sooner gone than Mrs. 
Fitzgerald set about cleaning up the 
house, and chancing to pull down a 
fishing-net, what should she find be- 
hind it in a hole in the wall but her 
own cohuleen driuth. She took it out 
and looked at it, and then she thought 
of her father the king, and her mother 
the queen, and her brothers and sisters. 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 89 

and she felt a longing to go back to 
them. 

She sat down on a little stool and 
thought over the happy days she had 
spent under the sea ; then she looked 
at her children, and thought on the 
love and affection of poor Dick, and 
how it would break his heart to lose 
her. *But,' says she, *he won't lose 
me entirely, for I'll come back to him 
again, and who can blame me for going 
to see my father and my mother after 
being so long away from them ? ' 

She got up and went towards the 
door, but came back again to look 
once more at the child that was sleep- 
ing in the cradle. She kissed it gently, 
and as she kissed it a tear trembled for 
an instant in her eye and then fell on 
its rosy cheek. She wiped away the 
tear, and turning to the eldest little 
girl, told her to take good care of her 
brothers, and to be a good child her- 
self until she came back. The Merrow 
then went down to the strand. The 



90 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

sea was lying calm and smooth, just 
heaving and glittering in the sun, and 
she thought she heard a faint sweet 
singing, inviting her to come down. 
All her old ideas and feelings came 
flooding over her mind, Dick and her 
children were at the instant forgotten, 
and placing the cohuleen driuth on her 
head she plunged in. 

Dick came home in the evening, and 
missing his wife he asked Kathleen, his 
little girl, what had become of her 
mother, but she could not tell him. 
He then inquired of the neighbours, 
and he learned that she was seen going 
towards the strand with a strange- 
looking thing like a cocked hat in her 
hand. He returned to his cabin to 
search for the cohuleen driuth. It was 
gone, and the truth now flashed upon 
him. 

Year after year did Dick Fitzgerald 
wait expecting the return of his wife, 
but he never saw her more. Dick 
never married again, always thinking 



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS 91 

that the Merrow would sooner or later 
return to him, and nothing could ever 
persuade him but that her father the 
king kept her below by main force ; 
* for,' said Dick, * she surely would not 
of herself give up her husband and her 
children/ 

While she was with him she was so 
good a wife in every respect that to 
this day she is spoken of in the tradition 
of the country as the pattern for one, 
under the name of The Lady of 

GOLLERUS. 



EVIL SPIRITS 





THE DEVIL'S MILL 

By Samuel Lover 

jOU see, sir, there was a 
colonel wanst, in times back, 
that owned a power of land 
about here — but God keep 
uz, they said he didn't come by it 
honestly, but did a crooked turn when- 
ever 'twas to sarve himself. 

Well, the story goes that at last the 
divil (God bless us) kem to him, and 
promised him hapes o' money, and all 
his heart could desire and more, too, 
if he'd sell his sowl in exchange. 

He was too cunnin' for that; bad 
as he was — and he was bad enough 



96 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

God knows — he had some regard for 
his poor sinful sowl, and he would not 
give himself up to the divil, all out ; 
but, the villain, he thought he might 
make a bargain with the old chap^ and 
get all he wanted, and keep himself 
out of harm's way still : for he was 
mighty 'cute — and, throth, he was able 
for Owld Nick any day. 

Well, the bargain was struck, and 
it was this-a-way : the divil was to give 
him all the goold ever he'd ask for, 
and was to let him alone as long as he 
could; and the timpter promised him 
a long day, and said 'twould be a great 
while before he'd want him at all, at 
all ; and whin that time kem, he was 
to keep his hands aff him, as long as 
the other could give him some work 
he couldn't do. 

So, when the bargain was made, 
*Now,' says the colonel to the divil, 
* give me all the money I want.' 

*As much as you like,' says Owld 
Nick ; * how much will you have ? ' 



THE DEVIL'S MILL 97 

* You must fill me that room/ says 
he, pointin' into a murtherin' big room 
that he emptied out on purpose — 
*you must fill that room/ says he, 
*up to the very ceilin' with goolden 
guineas.' 
■ ^ And welkem,' says the divil. 

With that, sir, he began to shovel 
the guineas into the room like mad; 
and the colonel towld him, that as 
soon as he was done, to come to him 
in his own parlour below, and that he 
would then go up and see if the divil 
was as good as his word, and had filled 
the room with the goolden guineas. 
So the colonel went downstairs, and 
the owld fellow worked away as busy 
as a nailer, shovellin' in the guineas by 
hundherds and thousands. 

Well, he worked away for an hour 
and more, and at last he began to get 
tired; and he thought it mighty odd 
that the room wasn't fillin' fasther. 
Well, afther restin' for awhile, he began 
agin, and he put his shouldher to the 

H 



98 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

work in airnest ; but still the room was 
no fuller at all, at all. 

* Och ! bad luck to me,' says the 
divil, *but the likes of this I never 
seen,' says he, * far and near, up and 
down — the dickens a room I ever kem 
across afore,' says he, ^ I couldn't cram 
while a cook would be crammin' a 
turkey, till now ; and here I am,' says 
he, Mosin' my whole day, and I with 
such a power o' work an my hands 
yit, and this room no fuller than five 
minutes ago.' 

Begor, while he was spakin' he seen 
the hape o' guineas in the middle of 
the flure growing littler and littler every 
minit ; and at last they wor disappear- 
ing, for all the world like corn in the 
hopper of a mill. 

* Ho ! ho ! ' says Owld Nick, ' is that 
the way wid you ? ' says he ; and wid 
that, he ran over to the hape of goold 
— and what would you think, but it 
was runnin' down through a great big 
hole in the flure, that the colonel made 



THE DEVIL'S MILL 99 

through the ceilin' in the room below ; 
and>that was the work he was at afther 
he left the divil, though he purtended 
he was only waitin' for him in his 
parlour; and there the divil, when he 
looked down the hole in the flure, seen 
the colonel, not content with the two 
rooms full of guineas, but with a big 
shovel throwin^ them into a closet a' 
one side of him as fast as they fell 
down. So, putting his head through the 
hole, he called down to the colonel : 

* Hillo, neighbour ! ' says he. 

The colonel looked up, and grew as 
white as a sheet, when he seen he was 
found out, and the red eyes starin' 
down at him through the hole. 

*Musha, bad luck to your impu- 
dence!' says Owld Nick : 'it is sthrivin' 
to chate me you are,' says he, *you 
villain ! ' 

' Oh, forgive me for this wanst ! ' 
says the colonel, * and, upon the honour 
of a gintleman,' says he, * I'll never 



lOo IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* Whisht ! whisht ! you thievin' rogue/ 
says the divil, * I'm not angry with you 
at all, at all, but only like you the 
betther, bekase you're so cute; — lave 
off slaving yourself there,' says he, 
*you have got goold enough for this 
time; and whenever you want more, 
you have only to say the word, and it 
shall be yours to command.' 

So with that, the divil and he parted 
for that time : and myself doesn't 
know whether they used to meet often 
afther or not; but the colonel never 
wanted money, anyhow, but went on 
prosperous in the world — and, as the 
saying is, if he took the dirt out o' the 
road, it id turn to money wid him ; 
and so, in course of time, he bought 
great estates, and was a great man 
entirely — not a greater in Ireland, 
throth. 

At last, afther many years of pros- 
perity, the owld colonel got stricken 
in years, and he began to have 
misgivings in his conscience for his 



THE DEVIL'S MILL loi 

wicked doings, and his heart was heavy 
as the fear of death came upon him ; 
and sure enough, while he had such 
murnful thoughts, the divil kem to 
him, and towld him he should go wid 
him. 

Well, to be sure, the owld man was 
frekened, but he plucked up his courage 
and his cuteness, and towld the divil, 
in a bantherin' way, jokin' like, that 
he had partic'lar business thin, that he 
was goin' to a party, and hoped an 
owld friend wouldn^t inconvaynience 
him that-a-way. 

The divil said he'd call the next 
day, and that he must be ready ; and 
sure enough in the evenin' he kem to 
him ; and when the colonel seen him, 
he reminded him of his bargain that 
as long as he could give him some 
work he couldn't do, he wasn't obleeged 
to go. 

^ That's thrue,' says the divil. 

* I'm glad you're as good as your 
word, anyhow,' says the colonel. 



I02 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* I never bruk my word yit,' says 
the owld chap, cocking up his horns 
consaitedly ; * honour bright/ says he. 

'Well then/ says the colonel, * build 
me a mill, down there, by the river,' 
says he, *and let me have it finished 
by to-morrow mornin'/ 

* Your will is my pleasure,' says the 
owld chap, and away he wint ; and 
the colonel thought he had nicked 
Owld Nick at last, and wint to bed 
quite aisy in his mind. 

But, jewel machree, sure the first 
thing he heerd the next mornin' was 
that the whole counthry round was 
runnin' to see a fine bran new mill 
that was an the river -side, where the 
evening before not a thing at all, at 
all, but rushes was standin', and all, 
of coorse, wonderin' what brought it 
there ; and some sayin' 'twas not lucky, 
and many more throubled in their 
mind, but one and all agreein' it was 
no good', and that's the very mill 
forninst you. 



THE DEVIL'S MILL 103 

But when the colonel heered it he 
was more throubled than any, of coorse, 
and began to conthrive what else he 
could think iv to keep himself out 
iv the claws of the owld one. Well, 
he often heerd tell that there was 
one thing the divil never could do, 
and I darsay you heerd it too, sir, 
— that is, that he couldn't make a 
rope out of the sands of the say; 
and so when the owld one kem to 
him the next day and said his job 
was done, and that now the mill was 
built he must either tell him somethin* 
else he wanted done, or come away 
wid him. 

So the colonel said he saw it was 
all over wid him. * But,' says he, 

* I wouldn't like to go wid you alive, 
and sure it's all the same to you, alive 
or dead ? ' 

*0h, that won't do,' says his frind; 

* I can't wait no more,' says he. 

* I don't want you to wait, my dear 
frind,' says the colonel; *all I want 



I04 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

is, that you'll be plased to kill me 
before you take me away.' 

* With pleasure,' says Owld Nick. 

* But will you promise me my choice 
of dyin' one partic'lar way ? ' says the 
colonel. 

* Half a dozen ways, if it plazes you,' 
says he. 

* You're mighty obleegin',' says the 
colonel ; * and so,' says he, ' I'd rather 
die by bein' hanged with a rope made 
out of the sa7ids of the say^^ says he, 
lookin' mighty knowin' at the owld 
fellow. 

* I've always one about me,' says 
the divil, * to obleege my frinds,' says 
he ; and with that he pulls out a rope 
made of sand, sure enough. 

*0h, it's game you're makin',' says 
the colonel, growin' as white as a sheet. 

*The game is mine, sure enough,' 
says the owld fellow, grinnin', with a 
terrible laugh. 

* That's not a sand-rope at all,' says 
the colonel. 



THE DEVIL'S MILL 105 

* Isn't it ? ' says the divil, hittin' him 
acrass the face with the ind iv the 
rope, and the sand (for it was made of 
sand, sure enough) went into one of 
his eyes, and made the tears come 
with the pain. 

* That bates all I ever seen or heerd,' 
says the colonel, sthrivin' to rally and 
make another offer ; * is there anything 
you caiiH do ? ' 

* Nothing you can tell me,' says the 
divil, *so you may as well leave off 
your palaverin' and come along at 
wanst.' 

* Will you give me one more offer,' 
says the colonel. 

*You don't desarve it,' says the 
divil; *but I don't care if I do'; 
for you see, sir, he was only playin' 
wid him, and tantalising the owld 
sinner. 

*A11 fair,' says the colonel, and with 
that he ax'd him could he stop a 
woman's tongue. 

*Thry me,' says Owld Nick. 



io6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* Well then,' says the colonel, * make 
my lady's tongue be quiet for the next 
month and I'd thank you.' 

* She'll never trouble you agin,' says 
Owld Nick ; and with that the colonel 
heerd roarin' and cryin', and the door 
of his room was thrown open and in 
ran his daughter, and fell down at 
his feet, telling him her mother had 
just dhropped dead. 

The minit the door opened, the 
divil runs and hides himself behind 
a big elbow-chair; and the colonel 
was frekened almost out of his siven 
sinses by raison of the sudden death 
of his poor lady, let alone the jeopardy 
he was in himself, seein' how the divil 
had forestalled him every way; and 
after ringin' his bell and callin' to 
his sarvants and recoverin' his daughter 
out of her faint, he was goin' away 
wid her out of the room, whin the 
divil caught howld of him by the 
skirt of the coat, and the colonel was 
obleeged to let his daughter be carried 



THE DEVIL'S MILL 107 

out by the sarvants, and shut the door 
afther them. 

* Well/ says the divil, and he grinn'd 
and wagg'd his tail, all as one as a 
dog when he's plaised ; * what do you 
say now ? ' says he. 

*0h/ says the colonel, 'only lave 
me alone until I bury my poor wife,' 
says he, *and I'll go with you then, 
you villain,' says he. 

* Don't call names,' says the divil ; 
*you had better keep a civil tongue 
in your head,' says he ; * and it doesn't 
become a gintleman to forget good 
manners.' 

'Well, sir, to make a long story 
short, the divil purtended to let him 
off, out of kindness, for three days 
antil his wife was buried ; but the 
raison of it was this, that when the 
lady his daughter fainted, he loosened 
the clothes about her throat, and in 
pulling some of her dhress away, he 
tuk off a goold chain that was on 
her neck and put it in his pocket. 



io8 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

and the chain had a diamond crass 
on it (the Lord be praised !) and the 
divil darn't touch him while he had 
the sign of the crass about him. 

Well, the poor colonel (God forgive 
him !) was grieved for the loss of his 
lady, and she had an illigant berrin — 
and they say that when the prayers 
was readin' over the dead, the owld 
colonel took it to heart like anything, 
and the word o' God kem home to 
his poor sinful sowl at last. 

Well, sir, to make a long story short, 
the ind of it was, that for the three 
days o' grace that was given to him 
the poor deluded owld sinner did 
nothin' at all but read the Bible from 
mornin' till night, and bit or sup didn't 
pass his lips all the time, he was so 
intint upon the Holy Book, but he 
sat up in an owld room in the far 
ind of the house, and bid no one 
disturb him an no account, and struv 
to make his heart bould with the words 
iv life; and sure it was somethin' 



THE DEVIL'S MILL 109 

strinthened him at last, though as the 
time drew nigh that the inuny was to 
come, he didn't feel aisy, and no 
wondher; and, bedad the three days 
was past and gone in no time, and 
the story goes that at the dead hour 
o' the night, when the poor sinner 
was readin' away as fast as he could, 
my jew'l, his heart jumped up to his 
mouth at gettin' a tap on the shoulder. 

* Oh, murther ! ' says he, * who's 
there?' for he was afeard to look 
up. 

^It's me,' says the owld one, and 
he stood right forninst him, and his 
eyes like coals o' fire, lookin' him 
through, and he said, with a voice 
that almost split his owld heart, 
* Come ! ' says he. 

* Another day ! ' cried out the poor 
colonel. 

* Not another hour,' says Sat'n. 

* Half an hour ! ' 

*Not a quarther,' says the divil, 
grinnin' with a bitther laugh; ^give 



no IRISH FAIRY TALES 

over your readin', I bid you/ says he, 
* and come away wid me.' 

* Only gi' me a few minits,' says he. 

* Lave aff your palaver in', you snakin' 
owld sinner,' says Sat'n ; * you know 
you're bought and sould to me, and 
a purty bargain I have o' you, you 
owld baste,' says he ; * so come along 
at wanst,* and he put out his claw 
to ketch him ; but the colonel tuk 
a fast hould o' the Bible, and begged 
hard that he'd let him alone, and 
wouldn't harm him antil the bit o' 
candle that was just blinkin' in the 
socket before him was burned out. 

* Well, have it so, you dirty coward,' 
says Owld Nick, and with that he 
spit an him. 

But the poor owld colonel didn't 
lose a minit (for he was cunnin' to 
the ind), but snatched the little taste 
o' candle that was forninst him out 
o' the candlestick, and puttin' it an 
the Holy Book before him, he shut 
down the cover of it and quinched 



THE DEVIL'S MILL iii 

the light. With that the divil gave 
a roar like a bull, and vanished in a 
flash o* fire, and the poor colonel 
fainted away in his chair; but the 
sarvants heerd the noise (for the divil 
tore aff the roof o* the house when 
he left it), and run into the room, 
and brought their master to himself 
agin. And from that day he was 
an althered man, and used to have 
the Bible read to him every day, for 
he couldn't read himself any more, 
by raison of losin' his eyesight when 
the divil hit him with the rope of 
sand in the face, and afther spit an 
him — for the sand wint into one eye, 
and he lost the other that-a-way, savin' 
your presence. 




FERGUS O'MARA ANr3 THE 
AIR-DEMONS 




By Dr. P. W. Joyce 

IF all the different kinds of 
goblins that haunted the 
lonely places of Ireland in 
days of old, air-demons were 
most dreaded by the people. They 
lived among clouds, and mists, and 
rocks, and they hated the human race 
with the utmost malignity. In those 
times lived in the north of Desmond 
(the present county of Cork) a man 
man named Fergus O'Mara. His farm 
lay on the southern slope of the 
Ballyhoura Mountains, along which 



FERGUS O'MARA 113 

ran the open road that led to his 
house. This road was not shut in by 
walls or fences; but on both sides 
there were scattered trees and bushes 
that sheltered it in winter, and made 
it dark and gloomy when you ap- 
proached the house at night. Beside 
the road, a little way off from the 
house, there was a spot that had an 
evil name all over the country, a little 
hill covered closely with copsewood, 
with a great craggy rock on top, from 
which, on stormy nights, strange and 
fearful sounds had often been heard — 
shrill voices, and screams, mingled 
with loud fiendish laughter; and the 
people believed that it was the haunt 
of air-demons. In some way it had 
become known that these demons had 
an eye on Fergus, and watched for 
every opportunity to get him into their 
power. He had himself been warned 
of this many years before, by an old 
monk from the neighbouring monastery 
of Buttevant, who told him, moreover, 
I 



H4 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

that SO long as he led a blameless, 
upright life, he need have no fear of 
the demons ; but that if ever he 
yielded to temptation or fell into any 
great sin, then would come the 
opportunity for which they were 
watching day and night. He never 
forgot this warning, and he was very 
careful to keep himself straight, both 
because he was naturally a good man, 
and for fear of the air-demons. 

Some time before the occurrence 
about to be related, one of Fergus's 
children, a sweet little girl about seven 
years of age, fell ill and died. The 
little thing gradually wasted away, but 
suffered no pain; and as she grew 
weaker she became more loving and 
gentle than ever, and talked in a 
wonderful way, quite beyond her years, 
of the bright land she was going to. 
One thing she was particularly anxious 
about, that when she was dying they 
should let her hold a blessed candle 
in her hand. They thought it very 



FERGUS O'MARA 115 

Strange that she should be so continu- 
ally thinking and talking of this ; and 
over and over again she made her father 
and mother promise that it should be 
done. And with the blessed candle 
in her hand she died so calmly and 
sweetly that those round her bed could 
not tell the exact moment. 

About a year after this, on a bright 
Sunday morning in October, Fergus 
set out for Mass. The place was 
about three miles away, and it was not 
a chape V but a lonely old fort, called 
to this day Lissanaffrin, the fort of the 
Mass. A rude stone altar stood at 
one side near the mound of the fort, 
under a little shed that sheltered the 
priest also; and the congregation 
worshipped in the open air on the 
green plot in the centre. For in those 
days there were many places that had 
no chapels ; and the people flocked to 

^ A fort is the same as a rath (see p. 70) ; 
a few are fenced in with unmortared stone walls 
instead of clay ditches. 



ii6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

these open-air Masses as faithfully as 
we do now to our stately comfortable 
chapels. The family had gone on 
before, the men walking and the women 
and children riding; and Fergus set 
out to walk alone. 

Just as he approached the Demons' 
Rock he was greatly surprised to hear 
the eager yelping of dogs, and in a 
moment a great deer bounded from the 
covert beside the rock, with three 
hounds after her in full chase. No 
man in the whole country round loved 
a good chase better than Fergus, or 
had a swifter foot to follow, and with- 
out a moment's hesitation he started 
in pursuit. But in a few minutes he 
stopped up short; for he bethought 
him of the Mass, and he knew there 
was little time for delay. While he 
stood wavering, the deer seemed to 
slacken her pace, and the hounds 
gained on her, and in a moment 
Fergus dashed off at full speed, forget- 
ting Mass and everything else in his 



FERGUS O'MARA 117 

eagerness for the sport. But it turned 
out a long and weary chase. Some- 
times they slackened, and he was 
almost at the hounds' tails, but the 
next moment both deer and hounds 
started forward and left him far behind. 
Sometimes they were in full view, and 
again they were out of sight in thickets 
and deep glens, so that he could guide 
himself only by the cry of the hounds. 
In this way he was decoyed across 
hills and glens, but instead of gaining 
ground he found himself rather falling 
behind. 

Mass was all over and the people 
dispersed to their homes, and all 
wondered that they did not see Fergus ; 
for no one could remember that he 
was ever absent before. His wife re- 
turned, expecting to find him at home ; 
but when she arrived there was trouble 
in her heart, for there were no tidings 
of him, and no one had seen him since 
he had set out for Mass in the morning. 

Meantime Fergus followed up the 



ii8 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

chase till he was wearied out ; and at 
last, just on the edge of a wild moor, 
both deer and hounds disappeared 
behind a shoulder of rock, and he lost 
them altogether. At the same moment 
the cry of the hounds became changed 
to frightful shrieks and laughter, such 
as he had heard more than once from 
the Demons' Rock. And now, sitting 
down on a bank to rest, he had full 
time to reflect on what he had done, 
and he was overwhelmed with remorse 
and shame. Moreover, his heart sank 
within him, thinking of the last sounds 
he had heard ; for he believed that he 
had been allured from Mass by the 
cunning wiles of the demons, and he 
feared that the dangerous time had come 
foretold by the monk. He started up 
and set out for his home, hoping to 
reach it before night. But before he 
had got half-way night fell and a 
storm came on, great wind and rain 
and bursts of thunder and lightning. 
Fergus was strong and active, however. 



b 



FERGUS O'MARA 119 

and knew every turn of the mountain, 
and he made his way through the storm 
till he approached the Demons* Rock. 
Suddenly there burst on his ears 
the very same sounds that he had 
heard on losing sight of the chase — 
shouts and shrieks and laughter. A 
great black ragged cloud, whirling 
round and round with furious gusts of 
wind, burst from the rock and came 
sweeping and tearing towards him. 
Crossing himself in terror and uttering 
a short prayer, he rushed for home. 
But the whirlwind swept nearer, till at 
last, in a sort of dim, shadowy light, 
he saw the black cloud full of 
frightful faces, all glaring straight at 
him and coming closer and closer. 
At this moment a bright light dropped 
down from the sky and rested in front 
of the cloud ; and when he looked up, 
he saw his little child floating in the 
air between him and the demons, 
holding a lighted candle in her hand. 
And although the storm was raging 



I20 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

and roaring all round, she was quite 
calm — not a breath of air stirred her 
long yellow hair — and the candle 
burned quietly. Even in the midst 
of all his terror he could observe her 
pale gentle face and blue eyes just as 
when she was alive, not showing traces 
of sickness or sadness now, but 
lighted up with joy. The demons 
seemed to start back from the light, 
and with great uproar rushed round to 
the other side of Fergus, the black 
cloud still moving with them and 
wrapping them up in its ragged folds ; 
but the little angel floated softly 
round, still keeping between them and 
her father. Fergus ran on for home, 
and the cloud of demons still kept 
furiously whirling round and round 
him, bringing with them a whirlwind 
that roared among the trees and bushes 
and tore them from the roots ; but 
still the child, always holding the 
candle towards them, kept floating 
calmly round and shielded him. 



FERGUS O'MARA 121 

At length he arrived at his house; 
the door lay half-open, for the family 
were inside expecting him home, list- 
ening with wonder and affright to the 
approaching noises ; and he bounded 
in through the doorway and fell flat on 
his face. That instant the door — 
though no one was near — was shut 
violently, and the bolts were shot home. 
They hurried anxiously round him to 
lift him up, but found him in a death- 
like swoon. Meantime the uproar out- 
side became greater than ever; round 
and round the house it tore, a roaring 
whirlwind with shouts and yells of rage, 
and great trampling, as if there was 
a whole company of horsemen. At 
length, however, the noises seemed to 
move away farther and farther off from 
the house, and gradually died away in 
the distance. At the same time the 
storm ceased, and the night became 
calm and beautiful. 

The daylight was shining in through 
the windows when Fergus recovered 



122 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

from his swoon, and then he told his 
fearful story; but many days passed 
over before he had quite recovered 
from the horrors of that night. When 
the family came forth in the morning 
there was fearful waste all round and 
near the house, trees and bushes torn 
from the roots, and the ground all 
trampled and torn up. After this the 
revelry of the demons was never again 
heard from the rock; and it was 
believed that they had left it and 
betaken themselves to some other 
haunt. 




THE MAN WHO NEVER KNEW 
FEAR 




Translated from the Gaelic by 
Douglas Hyde 

[HERE was once a lady, and 
she had. two sons whose 
names were Louras (Law- 
rence) and Carrol. From 
the day that Lawrence was born no- 
thing ever made him afraid, but Carrol 
would never go outside the door from 
the time the darkness of the night 
began. 

It was the custom at that time when 
a person died for people to watch 
the dead person's grave in turn, one 



124 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

after another; for there used to be 
destroyers going about stealing the 
corpses. 

When the mother of Carrol and 
Lawrence died, Carrol said to Law- 
rence — 

*You say that nothing ever made 
you afraid yet, but I'll make a bet 
with you that you haven't courage 
to watch your mother's tomb to-night.' 

*I'll make a bet with you that I 
have,' said Lawrence. 

When the darkness of the night 
was coming, Lawrence put on his 
sword and went to the burying-ground. 
He sat down on a tombstone near his 
mother's grave till it was far in the 
night and sleep was coming upon him. 
Then he saw a big black thing coming 
to him, and when it came near him he 
saw that it was a head without a body 
that was in it. He drew the sword to 
give it a blow if it should come any 
nearer, but it didn't come. Lawrence 
remained looking at it until the light 



THE MAN WHO KNEW NO FEAR 125 

of the day was coming, then the head- 
without-body went, and Lawrence came 
home. 

Carrol asked him, did he see any- 
thing in the graveyard. 

* I did,' said Lawrence, * and my 
mother's body would be gone, but that 
I was guarding it.' 

*Was it dead or alive, the person 
you saw ? ' said Carrol. 

* I don't know was it dead or alive,' 
said Lawrence ; * there was nothing in 
it but a head without a body.' 

* Weren't you afraid ? ' says Carrol. 

* Indeed I wasn't,' said Lawrence ; 
'don't you know that nothing in the 
world ever put fear on me.' 

*ril bet again with you that you 
haven't the courage to watch to-night 
again,' says Carrol. 

*I would make that bet with you,' 
said Lawrence, *but that there is a 
night's sleep wanting to me. Go 
yourself to-night.' 

* I wouldn't go to the graveyard 



126 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

to-night if I were to get the riches of 
the world,' says Carrol. 

* Unless you go your mother's body 
will be gone in the morning,' says 
Lawrence. 

* If only you watch to-night and to- 
morrow night, I never will ask of you 
to do a turn of work as long as you 
will be alive,' said Carrol, * but I think 
there is fear on you.' 

*To show you that there's no fear 
on me,' said Lawrence, * I will watch.' 

He went to sleep, and when the 
evening came he rose up, put on his 
sword, and went to the graveyard. He 
sat on a tombstone near his mother's 
grave. About the middle of the night 
he heard a great sound coming. A 
big black thing came as far as the 
grave and began rooting up the clay. 
Lawrence drew back his sword, and 
with one blow he made two halves of 
the big black thing, and with the 
second blow he made two halves of 
each half, and he saw it no more. 



THE MAN WHO KNE W NO FEAR 127 

Lawrence went home in the morning, 
and Carrol asked him did he see any- 
thing. 

*I did/ said Lawrence, 'and only 
that I was there my mother's body 
would be gone.' 

*Is it the head -without -body that 
came again ? ' said Carrol. 

* It was not, but a big black thing, 
and it was digging up my mother's 
grave until I made two halves of it.' 

Lawrence slept that day, and when 
the evening came he rose up, put on 
his sword, and went to the churchyard. 
He sat down on a tombstone until it 
was the middle of the night. Then 
he saw a thing as white as snow and 
as hateful as sin ] it had a man's head 
on it, and teeth as long as a flax-carder. 
Lawrence drew back the sword and 
was going to deal it a blow, when it 
said — 

* Hold your hand ; you have saved 
your mother's body, and there is not 
a man in Ireland as brave as you. 



128 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

There is great riches waiting for you 
if you go looking for it.' 

Lawrence went home, and Carrol 
asked him did he see anything. 

*I did,' said Lawrence, *and but 
that I was there my mother's body 
would be gone, but there's no fear of 
it now.' 

In the morning, the day on the 
morrow, Lawrence said to Carrol — 

' Give me my share of money, and 
I'll go on a journey, until I have a 
look round the country.' 

Carrol gave him the money, and he 
went walking. He went on until 
he came to a large town. He went 
into the house of a baker to get bread. 
The baker began talking to him, 
and asked him how far he was 
going. 

* I am going looking for some- 
thing that will put fear on me,' said 
Lawrence. 

* Have you much money ? ' said the 
baker. 



THE MAN WHO KNE W NO FEAR 129 

*I have a half-hundred pounds,' 
said Lawrence. 

*I'll bet another half-hundred with 
you that there will be fear on you if 
you go to the place that I'll bid you,' 
says the baker. 

* I'll take your bet,' said Lawrence, 
' if only the place is not too far away 
from me.' 

' It's not a mile from the place where 
you're standing,' said the baker ; ' wait 
here till the night comes, and then 
go to the graveyard, and as a sign 
that you were in it, bring me the 
goblet that is upon the altar of the 
old church {all) that is in the grave- 
yard.' 

When the baker made the bet he 
was certain that he would win, for 
there was a ghost in the churchyard, 
and nobody went into it for forty years 
before that whom he did not kill. 

When the darkness of the night 
came, Lawrence put on his sword and 
went to the burying -ground. He 

K 



I30 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

came to the door of the churchyard 
and struck it with his sword. The 
door opened, and there came out a 
great black ram, and two horns on 
him as long as flails. Lawrence gave 
him a blow, and he went out of sight, 
leaving him up to the two ankles in 
blood. Lawrence went into the old 
church, got the goblet, came back 
to the baker's house, gave him the 
goblet, and got the bet. Then the 
baker asked him did he see anything 
in the churchyard. 

*I saw a big black ram with long 
horns on him,' said Lawrence, *and 
I gave him a blow which drew as 
much blood out of him as would 
swim a boat; sure he must be dead 
by this time.' 

In the morning, the day on the 
morrow, the baker and a lot of people 
went to the graveyard and they saw 
the blood of the black ram at the 
door. They went to the priest and 
told him that the black ram was 



THE MAN WHO KNE W NO FEAR 131 

banished out of the churchyard. The 
priest did not believe them, because 
the churchyard was shut up forty years 
before that on account of the ghost 
that was in it, and neither priest nor 
friar could banish him. The priest came 
with them to the door of the church- 
yard, and when he saw the blood he 
took courage and sent for Lawrence, 
and heard the story from his own 
mouth. Then he sent for his blessing- 
materials, and desired the people to 
come in till he read mass for them. 
The priest went in, and Lawrence and 
the people after him, and he read mass 
without the big black ram coming as 
he used to do. The priest was greatly 
rejoiced, and gave Lawrence another 
fifty pounds. 

On the morning of the next day 
Lawrence went on his way. He 
travelled the whole day without seeing 
a house. About the hour of midnight 
he came to a great lonely valley, and 
he saw a large gathering of people 



132 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

looking at two men hurling. Lawrence 
stood looking at them, as there was 
a bright light from the moon. It 
was the good people that were in 
it, and it was not long until one of 
them struck a blow on the ball and 
sent it into Lawrence's breast. He 
put his hand in after the ball to draw 
it out, and what was there in it but the 
head of a man. When Lawrence got 
a hold of it, it began screeching, and 
at last it asked Lawrence — 

* Are you not afraid ? ' 

* Indeed I am not,' said Lawrence, 
and no sooner was the word spoken 
than both head and people disappeared, 
and he was left in the glen alone by 
himself. 

He journeyed until he came to 
another town, and when he ate and 
drank enough, he went out on the 
road, and was walking until he came 
to a great house on the side of the 
road. As the night was closing in, he 
went in to try if he could get lodging. 



THE MAN WHO KNE W NO FEAR 133 

There was a young man at the door 
who said to him — 

*How far are you going, or what 
are you in search of? ' 

* I do not know how far I am going, 
but I am in search of something that 
will put fear on me,' said Lawrence. 

* You have not far to go, then,' said 
the young man; *if you stop in that 
big house on the other side of the road 
there will be fear put on you before 
morning, and I'll give you twenty 
pounds into the bargain.' 

* I'll stop in it,' said Lawrence. 
The young man went with him, 

opened the door, and brought him 
into a large room in the bottom of the 
house, and said to him, *Put down 
fire for yourself and I'll send you 
plenty to eat and drink.' He put 
down a fire for himself, and there 
came a girl to him and brought him 
everything that he wanted. 

He went on very well, until the 
hour of midnight came, and then he 



134 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

heard a great sound over his head, and 
it was not long until a stallion and a 
bull came in and commenced to fight. 
Lawrence never put to them nor from 
them, and when they were tired fight- 
ing they went out. Lawrence went to 
sleep, and he never awoke until the 
young man came in in the morning, 
and he was surprised when he saw 
Lawrence alive. He asked him had 
he seen anything. 

* I saw a stallion and a bull fighting 
hard for about two hours,' said Law- 
rence. 

* And weren't you afraid ? ' said the 
young man. 

* I was not,' says Lawrence. 

* If you wait to-night again, I'll give 
you another twenty pounds,' says the 
young man. 

* I'll wait, and welcome,' says Law- 
rence. 

The second night, about ten o'clock, 
Lawrence was going to sleep, when two 
black rams came in and began fighting 



THE MAN WHO KNE W NO FEAR 135 

hard. Lawrence neither put to them 
nor from them, and when twelve 
o^clock struck they went out. The 
young man came in the morning and 
asked him did he see anything last 
night. 

* I saw two black rams fighting,' said 
Lawrence. 

*Were you afraid at all?' said the 
young man. 

' I was not,' said Lawrence. 

*Wait to-night, and I'll give you 
another twenty pounds,' says the 
young man. 

* All right,' says Lawrence. 

The third night he was falling 
asleep, when there came in a gray old 
man and said to him — 

* You are the best hero in Ireland ; I 
died twenty years ago, and all that time 
I have been in search of a man like 
you. Come with me now till I show 
you your riches ; I told you when you 
were watching your mother's grave that 
there was great riches waiting for you.' 



136 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

He took Lawrence to a chamber 
under ground, and showed him a large 
pot filled with gold, and said to him — 

*You will have all that if you give 
twenty pounds to Mary Kerrigan the 
widow, and get her forgiveness for me 
for a wrong I did her. Then buy this 
house, marry my daughter, and you 
will be happy and rich as long as you 
live.' 

The next morning the young man 
came to Lawrence and asked him did 
he see anything last night. 

*I did,' said Lawrence, *and it's 
certain that there will be a ghost always 
in it, but nothing in the world would 
frighten me; I'll buy the house and the 
land round it, if you like.' 

* I'll ask no price for the house, but 
I won't part with the land under a 
thousand pounds, and I'm sure you 
haven't that much.' 

* I have more than would buy all the 
land and all the herds you have,' said 
Lawrence. 



THE MAN WHO KNE W NO FEAR 137 

When the young man heard that 
Lawrence was so rich, he invited him 
to come to dinner. Lawrence went 
with him, and when the dead man's 
daughter saw him she fell in love with 
him. 

Lawrence went to the house of Mary 
Kerrigan and gave her twenty pounds, 
and got her forgiveness for the dead 
man. Then he married the young 
man's sister and spent a happy life. 
He died as he lived, without there 
being fear on him. 



i 



CATS 




SEANCHAN THE BARD AND 
THE KING OF THE CATS 



By Lady Wilde 

BHHWHEN Seanchan, the renowned 
fffin ^^^^' ^^^ made Ard-File, 
■^^ or Chief Poet of Ireland, 
Guaire, the king of Con- 
naught, to do him honour, made a 
great feast for him and the whole 
Bardic Association. And all the 
professors and learned men went to 
the king's house, the great ollaves of 
poetry and history and music, and of 
the arts and sciences ; and the learned, 
aged females, Grug and Grag and 
Grangait ; and all the chief poets and 



142 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

poetesses of Ireland, an amazing num- 
ber. But Guaire the king entertained 
them all splendidly, so that the ancient 
pathway to his palace is still called 
' The Road of the Dishes.' 

And each day he asked, * How fares 
it with my noble guests?' But they 
were all discontented, and wanted 
things he could not get for them. 
So he was very sorrowful, and prayed 
to God to be delivered from * the 
learned men and women, a vexatious 
class.' 

Still the feast went on for three 
days and three nights. And they 
drank and made merry. And the 
whole Bardic Association entertained 
the nobles with the choicest music 
and professional accomplishments. 

But Seanchan sulked and would 
neither eat nor drink, for he was 
jealous of the nobles of Connaught. 
And when he saw how much they 
consumed of the best meats and wine, 
he declared he would taste no food 



SEANCHAN THE BARD 143 

till they and their servants were all 
sent away out of the house. 

And when Guaire asked him again, 
* How fares my noble guest, and this 
great and excellent people ? ' Seanchan 
answered, *I have never had worse 
days, nor worse nights, nor worse 
dinners in my life.' And he ate 
nothing for three whole days. 

Then the king was sorely grieved 
that the whole Bardic Association 
should be feasting and drinking while 
Seanchan, the chief poet of Erin, was 
fasting and weak. So he sent his 
favourite serving -man, a person of 
mild manners and cleanliness, to offer 
special dishes to the bard. 

* Take them away,' said Seanchan ; 
'- ril have none of them.' 

*And why, O Royal Bard?' asked 
the servitor. 

* Because thou art an uncomely youth,' 
answered Seanchan. * Thy grandfather 
was chip-nailed — I have seen him; I 
shall eat no food from thy hands.' 



144 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Then the king called a beautiful 
maiden to him, his foster - daughter, 
and said, * Lady, bring thou this 
wheaten cake and this dish of salmon 
to the illustrious poet, and serve him 
thyself/ So the maiden went. 

But when Seanchan saw her he 
asked: *Who sent thee hither, and 
why hast thou brought me food ? ' 

*My lord the king sent me, O 
Royal Bard,' she answered, * because 
I am comely to look upon, and he 
bade me serve thee with food my- 
self.' 

* Take it away,' said Seanchan, * thou 
art an unseemly girl, I know of none 
more ugly. I have seen thy grand- 
mother; she sat on a wall one day 
and pointed out the way with her 
hand to some travelling lepers. How 
could I touch thy food?' So the 
maiden went away in sorrow. 

And then Guaire the king was indeed 
angry, and he exclaimed, *My male- 
diction on the mouth that uttered 



SEANCHAN THE BARD 145 

that ! May the kiss of a leper be on 
Seanchan's lips before he dies ! ' 

Now there was a young serving-girl 
there, and she said to Seanchan, 

* There is a hen's Qgg in the place, my 
lord, may I bring it to thee, O Chief 
Bard?' 

*It will suffice,' said Seanchan; 

* bring it that I may eat.' 

But when she went to look for it, 
behold the egg was gone. 

* Thou hast eaten it,' said the bard, in 
wrath. 

*Not so, my lord,' she answered; 
*but the mice, the nimble race, have 
carried it away.' 

*Then I will satirise them in a 
poem,' said Seanchan; and forthwith 
he chanted so bitter a satire against 
them that ten mice fell dead at once 
in his presence. 

* 'Tis well,' said Seanchan ; * but the 
cat is the one most to blame, for it 
was her duty to suppress the mice. 
Therefore I shall satirise the tribe of 

L 



146 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

the cats, and their chief lord, Irusan, 
son of Arusan; for I know where 
he lives with his wife Spit-fire, and his 
daughter Sharp-tooth, with her brothers 
the Purrer and the Growler. But I 
shall begin with Irusan himself, for 
he is king, and answerable for all the 
cats.' 

And he said: 'Irusan, monster of 
claws, who strikes at the mouse but 
lets it go; weakest of cats. The 
otter did well who bit off the tips of 
thy progenitor's ears, so that every 
cat since is jagged-eared. Let thy tail 
hang down ; it is right, for the mouse 
jeers at thee.' 

Now Irusan heard these words in 
his cave, and he said to his daughter 
Sharp-tooth: *Seanchan has satirised 
me, but I will be avenged.' 

*Nay, father,' she said, 'bring him 
here alive that we may all take our 
revenge.' 

* I shall go then and bring him,' said 
Irusan ; ' so send thy brothers after me. 



SEANCHAN THE BARD 147 

Now when it was told to Seanchan 
that the King of the Cats was on his 
way to come and kill him, he was 
timorous, and besought Guaire and 
all the nobles to stand by and protect 
him. And before long a vibrating, 
impressive, impetuous sound was heard, 
like a raging tempest of fire in full 
blaze. And when the cat appeared 
he seemed to them of the size of a 
bullock ; and this was his appearance 
— rapacious, panting, jagged - eared, 
snub - nosed, sharp - toothed, nimble, 
angry, vindictive, glare -eyed, terrible, 
sharp-clawed. Such was his similitude. 
But he passed on amongst them, not 
minding till he came to Seanchan; 
and him he seized by the arm and 
jerked him up on his back, and made 
off the way he came before any one 
could touch him ; for he had no other 
object in view but to get hold of the 
poet. 

Now Seanchan, being in evil plight, 
had recourse to flattery. *0 Irusan,' 



148 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

he exclaimed, * how truly splendid thou 
art : such running, such leaps, such 
strength, and such agility ! But what 
evil have I done, O Irusan, son of 
Arusan ? spare me, I entreat. I invoke 
the saints between thee and me, O 
great King of the Cats.* 

But not a bit did the cat let go his 
hold for all this fine talk, but went 
straight on to Clonmacnoise, where 
there was a forge ; and St. Kieran 
happened to be there standing at the 
door. 

* What ! ' exclaimed the saint ; ' is 
that the Chief Bard of Erin on the 
back of a cat? Has Guaire's hospi- 
tality ended in this ? ' And he ran for 
a red-hot bar of iron that was in the 
furnace, and struck the cat on the 
side with it, so that the iron passed 
through him, and he fell down lifeless. 

*Now my curse on the hand that 
gave that blow ! ' said the bard, when 
he got upon his feet. 

* And wherefore ? ' asked St. Kieran. 



SEANCHAN THE BARD 149 

* Because/ answered Seanchan, * I 
would rather Irusan had killed me, 
and eaten me every bit, that so I 
might bring disgrace on Guaire for 
the bad food he gave me ; for it was 
all owing to his wretched dinners that 
I got into this plight.' 

And when all the other kings heard 
of Seanchan's misfortunes, they sent 
to beg he would visit their courts. 
But he would have neither kiss nor 
welcome from them, and went on his 
way to the bardic mansion, where the 
best of good living was always to be 
had. And ever after the kings were 
afraid to offend Seanchan. 

So as long as he lived he had the chief 
place at the feast, and all the nobles 
there were made to sit below him, and 
Seanchan was content. And in time 
he and Guaire were reconciled; and 
Seanchan and all the ollaves, and the 
whole Bardic Association, were feasted 
by the king for thirty days in noble 
style, and had the choicest of viands 



i5o IRISH FAIRY TALES 

and the best of French wines to drink, 
served in goblets of silver. And in 
return for his splendid hospitality the 
Bardic Association decreed unani- 
mously a vote of thanks to the king. 
And they praised him in poems as 
* Guaire the Generous,' by which name 
he was ever after known in history, 
for the words of the poet are immortal. 



11 


S 


^ 


3 


m 


^58 


^m 


P!^^ 


m)m 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 

By Gerald Griffen 



||%ra^fi»g|HEN Ireland had kings of 

KKhI ^^^ ^^^ — when there was 
B^^U no such thing as a coat 
made of red cloth in the 
country — when there was plenty in 
men^s houses, and peace and quietness 
at men's doors (and that is a long time 
since) — there lived, in a village not far 
from the great city of Lumneach,^ two 
young men, cousins : one of them 
named Owney, a smart, kind-hearted, 
handsome youth, with limb of a delicate 
form, and a very good understanding. 

^ The present Limerick. 



152 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

His cousin's name was Owney too, and 
the neighbours christened him Owney- 
na-peak (Owney of the nose), on ac- 
count of a long nose he had got — a 
thing so out of all proportion, that 
after looking at one side of his face, it 
was a smart morning's walk to get 
round the nose and take a view of the 
other (at least, so the people used to 
say). He was a stout, able-bodied 
fellow, as stupid as a beaten hound, 
and he was, moreover, a cruel tyrant 
to his young cousin, with whom he 
lived in a kind of partnership. 

Both of them were of a humble 
station. They were smiths — white- 
smiths — and they got a good deal of 
business to do from the lords of the 
court, and the knights, and all the 
grand people of the city. But one 
day young Owney was in town, he saw 
a great procession of lords, and ladies, 
and generals, and great people, among 
whom was the king's daughter of the 
court — and surely it is not possible for 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 153 

the young rose itself to be so beautiful 
as she was. His heart fainted at her 
sight, and he went home desperately in 
love, and not at all disposed to business. 

Money, he was told, was the surest 
way of getting acquainted with the 
king, and so he began saving until he 
had put together a few hogs,'^ but 
Owney-na-peak, finding where he had 
hid them, seized on the whole, as he used 
to do on all young Owney's earnings. 

One evening young Owney's mother 
found herself about to die, so she 
called her son to her bedside and said 
to him: *You have been a most 
dutiful good son, and 'tis proper you 
should be rewarded for it. Take this 
china cup to the fair, — there is a fairy 
gift upon it, — use your own wit, look 
about you, and let the highest bidder 
have it — and so, my white-headed boy,^ 
God bless you ! ' 

* A hog^ IS. id. 

* White-haired boy, a curious Irish phrase 
for the favourite child. 



154 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

The young man drew the Httle 
bedcurtain down over his dead 
mother, and in a few days after, 
with a heavy heart, he took his 
china cup, and set off to the fair of 
Garry o wen. 

The place was merry enough. The 
field that is called Gallows Green now 
was covered with tents. There was 
plenty of wine (poteen not being known 
in these days, let alone parliament\ a 
great many handsome girls, and 'tis 
unknown all the keoh that was with the 
boys and themselves. Poor Owney 
walked all the day through the fair, 
wishing to try his luck, but ashamed to 
offer his china cup among all the fine 
things that were there for sale. Even- 
ing was drawing on at last, and he was 
thinking of going home, when a strange 
man tapped him on the shoulder, and 
said: *My good youth, I have been 
marking you through the fair the whole 
day, going about with that cup in your 
hand, speaking to nobody, and looking 



OWNBV AND OWNEY-NA'PEAK 155 

as if you would be wanting something 
or another/ 

^ I'm for selling it/ said Owney. 

'What is it you're for selling, you 
say?' said a second man, coming up, 
and looking at the cup. 

*Why then,' said the first man, 
'and w^hat's that to you, for a prying 
meddler? what do you want to know 
what it is he's for selling ? ' 

* Bad manners to you (and where's 
the use of my wishing you what you 
have already?), haven't I a right to 
ask the price of what's in the fair ? ' 

' E'then, the knowledge o' the price 
is all you'll have for it,' says the first. 
'Here, my lad, is a golden piece for 
your cup.' 

* That cup shall never hold drink or 
diet in your house, please Heaven,' 
says the second; 'here's two gold 
pieces for the cup, lad.' 

'Why then, see this now — if I was 
forced to fill it to the rim with gold 
before I could call it mine, you shall 



iS6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

never hold that cup between your 
fingers. Here, boy, do you mind me, 
give me that, once for all, and here's 
ten gold pieces for it, and say no more.' 

* Ten gold pieces for a china cup ! ' 
said a great lord of the court, who just 
rode up at that minute, ' it must surely 
be a valuable article. Here, boy, 
here are twenty pieces for it, and give 
it to my servant.' 

* Give it to mine,' cried another lord 
of the party, * and here's my purse, where 
you will find ten more. And if any 
man offers another fraction for it to 
outbid that, I'll spit him on my sword 
like a snipe.' 

*I outbid him,' said a fair young 
lady in a veil, by his side, flinging 
twenty golden pieces more on the 
ground. 

There was no voice to outbid the 
lady, and young Owney, kneeling, gave 
the cup into her hands. 

' Fifty gold pieces for a china cup,' 
said Owney to himself, as he plodded 



OIVNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 157 

on home, * that was not worth two ! 
Ah ! mother, you knew that vanity had 
an open hand.' 

But as he drew near home he de- 
termined to hide his money somewhere, 
knowing, as he well did, that his cousin 
would not leave him a single cross to 
bless himself with. So he dug a little 
pit, and buried all but two pieces, 
which he brought to the house. His 
cousin, knowing the business on which 
he had gone, laughed heartily when he 
saw him enter, and asked him what 
luck he had got with his punch-bowl. 

*Not so bad, neither,' says Owney. 
* Two pieces of gold is not a bad price 
for an article of old china.' 

* Two gold pieces, Owney, honey ! 
Erra, let us see 'em, maybe you would ? ' 
He took the cash from Owney's hand, 
and after opening his eyes in great 
astonishment at the sight of so much 
money, he put them into his pocket. 

*Well, Owney, I'll keep them safe 
for you, in my pocket within. But 



158 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

tell US, maybe you would, how come 
you to get such a mo7't o' money for an 
old cup o' painted chaney, that wasn't 
worth, maybe, a fi'penny bit ? ' 

*To get into the heart o' the fair, 
then, free and easy, and to look about 
me, and to cry old china, and the first 
man that co7ne up, he to ask me, what 
is it I'd be asking for the cup, and I to 
say out bold: "A hundred pieces of 
gold," and he to laugh hearty, and we to 
huxter together till he beat me down to 
two, and there's the whole way of it all.' 

Owney-na-peak made as if he took 
no note of this, but next morning early 
he took an old china saucer himself 
had in his cupboard, and off he set, 
without saying a word to anybody, to 
the fair. You may easily imagine that 
it created no small surprise in the place 
when they heard a great big fellow 
with a china saucer in his hand crying 
out : * A raal chaney saucer going for a 
hundred pieces of goold ! raal chaney 
— who'll be buying ? ' 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 159 

* Erra, what's that you're saying, you 
great gomeril?' says a man, coming 
up to him, and looking first at the 
saucer and then in his face. *Is it 
thinking anybody would go make a 
viuthaim of himself to give the like for 
that saucer ? ' But Owney-na-peak had 
no answer to make, only to cry out : 
* Raal chaney ! one hundred pieces of 
goold ! ' 

A crowd soon collected about him, 
and finding he would give no account 
of himself, they all fell upon him, beat 
him within an inch of his life, and after 
having satisfied themselves upon him, 
they went their way laughing and 
shouting. Towards sunset he got up, 
and crawled home as well as he could, 
without cup or money. As soon as 
Owney saw him, he helped him into 
the forge, looking very mournful, 
although, if the truth must be told, 
it was to revenge himself for former 
good deeds of his cousin that he set 
him about this foolish business. 



i6o IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* Come here, Owney, eroo/ said his 
cousin, after he had fastened the forge 
door and heated two irons in the fire. 
^ You child of mischief ! ' said he, when 
he had caught him, *you shall never 
see the fruits of your roguery again, for 
-I will put out your eyes.' And so 
saying he snatched one of the red-hot 
irons from the fire. 

It was all in vain for poor Owney to 
throw himself on his knees, and ask 
mercy, and beg and implore forgive- 
ness ; he was weak, and Owney- na- 
peak was strong; he held him fast, 
and burned out both his eyes. Then 
taking him, while he was yet fainting 
from the pain, upon his back, he 
carried him off to the bleak hill of 
Knockpatrick,! a great distance, and 
there laid him under a tombstone, and 

1 A hill in the west of the County of 
Limerick, on the summit of which are the 
ruins of an old church, with a burying-ground 
still in use. The situation is exceedingly 
singular and bleak. 



OIVNBY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK i6i 

went his ways. In a little time after, 
Owney came to himself. 

* O sweet light of day ! what is to 
become of me now?' thought the 
poor lad, as he lay on his back under 
the tomb. * Is this to be the fruit of 
that unhappy present? Must I be 
dark for ever and ever? and am I 
never more to look upon that sweet 
countenance, that even in my blind- 
ness is not entirely shut out from me ? ' 
He would have said a great deal more 
in this way, and perhaps more pathetic 
still, but just then he heard a great 
mewing, as if all the cats in the world 
were coming up the hill together in 
one faction. He gathered himself up, 
and drew back under the stone, and 
remained quite still, expecting what 
would come next. In a very short 
time he heard all the cats purring and 
mewing about the yard, whisking over 
the tombstones, and playing all sorts of 
pranks among the graves. He felt the 
tails of one or two brush his nose ; and 

M 



i62 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

well for him it was that they did not 
discover him there, as he afterwards 
found. At last — 

* Silence ! ' said one of the cats, 
and they were all as mute as so many 
mice in an instant. 'Now, all you 
cats of this great county, small and 
large, gray, red, yellow, black, brown, 
mottled, and white, attend to what I'm 
going to tell you in the name of your 
king and the master of all the cats. 
The sun is down, and the moon is up, 
and the night is silent, and no mortal 
hears us, and I may tell you a secret. 
You know the king of Munster's 
daughter ? ' 

* O yes, to be sure, and why wouldn't 
we ? Go on with your story,' said all 
the cats together. 

* I have heard of her for one,' said 
a little dirty-faced black cat, speaking 
after they had all done, *for I'm the 
cat that sits upon the hob of Owney 
and Owney -na- peak, the whitesmiths, 
and I know many's the time young 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAIC 163 

Owney does be talking of her, when he 
sits by the fire alone, rubbing me down 
and planning how he can get into her 
father's court.' 

* Whist, you natural ! ' says the cat 
that was making the speech, * what do 
you think we care for your Owney, or 
Owney-na-peak ? ' 

*Murther, murther!' thinks Owney 
to himself, *did anybody ever hear 
the aiqual of this ? ' 

*Well, gentlemen,' says the cat 
again, 'what I have to say is this. 
The king was last week struck with 
blindness, and you all know well, how 
and by what means any blindness may 
be cured. You know there is no dis- 
order that can ail mortal frame, that 
may not be removed by praying a 
round at the well of Barrygowen^ 

^ The practice of praying rounds, with the 
view of healing diseases, at Barrygowen well, 
in the County of Limerick, is still continued, 
notwithstanding the exertions of the neighbour- 
ing Catholic priesthood, which have diminished, 
but not abolished it. 



i64 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

yonder, and the king's disorder is such, 
that no other cure whatever can be 
had for it. Now, beware, don't let the 
secret pass one o' yer lips, for there's a 
great-grandson of Simon Magus, that 
is coming down to try his skill, and he 
it is that must use the water and 
marry the princess, who is to be given 
to any one so fortunate as to heal her 
father's eyes ; and on that day, gentle- 
men, we are all promised a feast of 
the fattest mice that ever walked the 
ground.' This speech was wonderfully 
applauded by all the cats, and presently 
after, the whole crew scampered off, 
jumping, and mewing, and purring, 
down the hill. 

Owney, being sensible that they were 
all gone, came from his hiding-place, 
and knowing the road to Barrygowen 
well, he set off, and groped his way 
out, and shortly knew, by the rolling 
of the waves,^ coming in from the point 
of Foynes, that he was near the place. 
^ Of the Shannon. 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 165 

He got to the well, and making a 
round like a good Christian, rubbed 
his eyes with the well-water, and look- 
ing up, saw day dawning in the east. 
Giving thanks, he jumped up on his 
feet, and you may say that Owney-na- 
peak was much astonished on opening 
the door of the forge to find him there, 
his eyes as well or better than ever, 
and his face as merry as a dance. 

*Well, cousin,' said Owney, smiling, 
* you have done me the greatest service 
that one man can do another; you 
put me in the way of getting two pieces 
of gold,' said he, showing two he had 
taken from his hiding-place. ^ If you 
could only bear the pain of suffering 
me just to put out your eyes, and lay 
you in the same place as you laid me, 
who knows what luck you'd have ? ' 

* No, there's no occasion for putting 
out eyes at all, but could not you lay 
me, just as I am, to-night, in that place, 
and let me try my own fortune, if it be 
a thing you tell thruth ; and what else 



i66 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

could put the eyes in your head, after 
I burning them out with the irons ? ^ 

* You'll know all that in time/ says 
Owney, stopping him in his speech, 
for just at that minute, casting his eye 
towards the hob, he saw the cat sitting 
upon it, and looking very hard at him. 
So he made a sign to Owney-na-peak 
to be silent, or talk of something else ; 
at which the cat turned away her eyes, 
and began washing her face, quite 
simple, with her two paws, looking 
now and then sideways into Owney's 
face, just like a Christian. By and by, 
when she had walked out of the forge, 
he shut the door after her, and finished 
what he was going to say, which made 
Owney-na-peak still more anxious than 
before to be placed under the tomb- 
stone. Owney agreed to it very readily, 
and just as they were done speaking, 
cast a glance towards the forge window, 
where he saw the imp of a cat, just 
with her nose and one eye peeping 
in through a broken pane. He said 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 167 

nothing, however, but prepared to 
carry his cousin to the place; where, 
towards nightfall, he laid him as he 
had been laid himself, snug under the 
tombstone, and went his way down the 
hill, resting in Shanagolden that night, 
to see what would come of it in the 
morning. 

Owney-na-peak had not been more 
than two or three hours or so lying 
down, when he heard the very same 
noises coming up the hill, that had 
puzzled Owney the night before. See- 
ing the cats enter the churchyard, he 
began to grow very uneasy, and strove to 
hide himself as well as he could, which 
was tolerably well too, all being covered 
by the tombstone excepting part of 
the nose, which was so long that he 
could not get it to fit by any means. 
You may say to yourself, that he was 
not a little surprised, when he saw the 
cats all assemble like a congregation 
going to hear mass, some sitting, some 
walking about, and asking one another 



i68 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

after the kittens and the like, and more 
of them stretching themselves upon the 
tombstones, and waiting the speech of 
their commander. 

Silence was proclaimed at length, and 
he spoke : * Now all you cats of this 
great county, small and large, gray, 
red, yellow, black, brown, mottled, or 
white, attend ' 

* Stay ! stay ! ' said a little cat with 
a dirty face, that just then came running 
into the yard. *Be silent, for there 
are mortal ears listening to what you 
say. I have run hard and fast to say 
that your words were overheard last 
night. I am the cat that sits upon 
the hob of Owney and Owney-na-peak, 
and I saw a bottle of the water of 
Barrygowen hanging up over the 
chimbley this morning in their house/ 

In an instant all the cats began 
screaming, and mewing, and flying, as 
if they were mad, about the yard, 
searching every corner, and peeping 
under every tombstone. Poor Owney- 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 169 

na-peak endeavoured as well as he could 
to hide himself from them, and began 
to thump his breast and cross him- 
self, but it was all in vain, for 
one of the cats saw the long nose 
peeping from under the stone, and in 
a minute they dragged him, roaring 
and bawling, into the very middle of 
the churchyard, where they flew upon 
him all together, and made smithereens 
of him, from the crown of his head to 
the soles of his feet. 

The next morning very early, young 
Owney came to the churchyard, to see 
what had become of his cousin. He 
called over and over again upon his 
name, but there was no answer given. 
At last, entering the place of tombs, he 
found his limbs scattered over the earth. 

* So that is the way with you, is it ? ' 
said he, clasping his hands, and looking 
down on the bloody fragments ; * why 
then, though you were no great things 
in the way of kindness to me when 
your bones were together, that isn't 



170 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

the reason why I'd be glad to see 
them torn asunder this morning early.* 
So gathering up all the pieces that he 
could find, he put them into a bag he 
had with him, and away with him to 
the well of Barrygowen, where he lost 
no time in making a round, and 
throwing them in, all in a heap. In 
an instant, he saw Owney-na-peak as 
well as ever, scrambling out of the 
well, and helping him to get up, he 
asked him how he felt himself. 

* Oh ! is it how I'd feel myself you'd 
want to know ? ' said the other ; * easy 
and I'll tell you. Take that for a 
specimen ! ' giving him at the same 
time a blow on the head, which you 
may say wasn't long in laying Owney 
sprawling on the ground. Then with- 
out giving him a minute's time to 
recover, he thrust him into the very 
bag from which he had been just 
shaken himself, resolving within him- 
self to drown him in the Shannon at 
once, and put an end to him for ever. 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 171 

Growing weary by the way, he 
stopped at a shebeen house over- 
right Robertstown Castle, to refresh 
himself with a mornings before he'd 
go any farther. Poor Owney did not 
know what to do when he came to 
himself, if it might be rightly called 
coming to himself, and the great bag 
tied up about him. His wicked cousin 
shot him down behind the door in the 
kitchen, and telling him he'd have his 
life surely if he stirred, he walked in 
to take something that's good in the 
little parlour. 

Owney could not for the life of him 
avoid cutting a hole in the bag, -to 
have a peep about the kitchen, and 
see whether he had no means of escape. 
He could see only one person, a simple- 
looking man, who was counting his 
beads in the chimney-corner, and now 
and then striking his breast, and look- 
ing up as if he was praying greatly. 

*Lord,' says he, *only give me 
death, death, and a favourable judg- 



172 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

ment ! I haven't anybody now to look 
after, nor anybody to look after me. 
What's a few tinpennies to save a 
man from want ? Only a quiet grave 
is all I ask.' 

* Murther, murther ! ' says Owney 
to himself, * here's a man wants death 
and can't have it, and here am I going 
to have it, and, in troth, I don't want 
it at all, see.' So, after thinking a 
little what he had best do, he began to 
sing out very merrily, but lowering his 
voice, for fear he should be heard in 
the next room : 

* To him that tied me here, 

Be thanks and praises given ! 
I'll bless him night and day, 

For packing me to heaven. 
Of all the roads you'll name, 

He surely will not lag, 
Who takes his way to heaven 

By travelling in a bag ! ' 

*To heaven, ershtshin}^'^ said the 
man in the chimney-comer, opening 

^ Does he say ? 



OWNEV AND OWNEY'NA'PEAK 173 

his mouth and his eyes ; * why then, 
you^d be doing a Christian turn, if you'd 
take a neighbour with you, that's tired 
of this bad and villainous world.' 

* You're a fool, you're a fool ! ' said 
Owney. 

*I know I am, at least so the 
neighbours always tell me — but what 
hurt ? Maybe I have a Christian soul 
as well as another ; and fool or no fool, 
in a bag or out of a bag, I'd be glad 
and happy to go the same road it is 
you are talking of.' 

After seeming to make a great 
favour of it, in order to allure him the 
more to the bargain, Owney agreed to 
put him into the bag instead of himself ; 
and cautioning him against saying a 
word, he was just going to tie him, 
when he was touched with a little 
remorse for going to have the innocent 
man's life taken : and seeing a slip of 
a pig that was killed the day before, in 
a corner, hanging up, the thought 
struck him that it would do just as 



174 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

well to put it in the bag in their place. 
No sooner said than done, to the great 
surprise of the natural, he popped the 
pig into the bag and tied it up. 

* Now,^ says he, * my good friend, go 
home, say nothing, but bless the name 
in heaven for saving your life; and you 
were as near losing it this morning as 
ever man was that didn't know.' 

They left the house together. Pre- 
sently out comes Owney-na-peak, very 
hearty ; and being so, he was not able 
to perceive the difference in the 
contents of the bag, but hoisting it 
upon his back, he sallied out of the 
house. Before he had gone far, he 
came to the rock of Foynes, from the 
top of which he flung his burden into 
the salt waters. 

Away he went home, and knocked 
at the door of the forge, which was 
opened to him by Owney. You may 
fancy him to yourself crossing and 
blessing himself over and over again, 
when he saw, as he thought, the ghost 



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 175 

Standing before him. But Owney 
looked very merry, and told him not 
to be afraid. *You did many is the 
•good turn in your life,' says he, *but 
the equal of this never.' So he up 
and told him that he found the finest 
place in the world at the bottom of the 
waters, and plenty of money. *See 
these four pieces for a specimen,' 
showing him some he had taken from 
his own hiding hole: *what do you 
think of that for a story ? ' 

* Why then that it's a droll one, no 
less ; sorrow bit av I wouldn't have a 
mind to try my luck in the same way ; 
how did you come home here before 
me that took the straight road, and 
didn't stop for so much as vay gusthah^ 
since I left Knockpatrick ? ' 

*0h, there's a short cut under the 
waters,' said Owney. * Mind and only 
be civil while you're in Thiernaoge,^ 
and you'll make a sight o' money.' 

^ Literally— wj//^ in. 
^ The abode of the fairies. 



176 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Well became Owney, he thrust his 
cousin into the bag, tied it about him, 
and putting it into a car that was 
returning after leaving a load of oats, 
at a corn-store in the city, it was not 
long before he was at Foynes again. 
Here he dismounted, and going to 
the rock, he was, I am afraid, half 
inclined to start his burden into the 
wide water, when he saw a small skiff 
making towards the point. He hailed 
her, and learned that she was about 
to board a great vessel from foreign 
parts, that was sailing out of the river. 
So he went with his bag on board, 
and making his bargain with the captain 
of the ship, he left Owney-na-peak along 
with the crew, and never was troubled 
with him after, from that day to this. 

As he was passing by Barrygowen 
well, he filled a bottle with the water ; 
and going home, he bought a fine 
suit of clothes with the rest of the 
money he had buried, and away he 
set off in the morning to the city of 



OIVNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK 177 

Lumneach. He walked through the 
town, admiring everything he saw, 
until he came before the palace of 
^he king. Over the gates of this he 
saw a number of spikes, with a head 
of a man stuck upon each, grinning 
in the sunshine. 

Not at all daunted, he knocked very 
boldly at the gate, which was opened 
by one of the guards of the palace. 

* Well ! who are you, friend ? ' 

*I am a great doctor thafs come 
from foreign parts to cure the king's 
eyesight. Lead me to his presence 
this minute.' 

*Fair and softly,' said the soldier. 

* Do you see all those heads that are 
stuck up there ? Yours is very likely 
to be keeping company by them, if 
you are so foolish as to come inside ■ 
these walls. They are the heads of 
all the doctors in the land who came 
before you; and that's what makes 
the town so fine and healthy this time 
past, praised be Heaven for the same!' 

N 



178 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* Don^t be talking, you great gomeril,' 
says Owney; 'only bring me to the 
king at once.' 

He was brought before the king.. 
After being warned of his fate if he 
should fail to do all that he undertook, 
the place was made clear of all but a 
few guards, and Owney was informed 
once more, that if he should restore 
the king's eyes, he should wed with 
the princess, and have the crown after 
her father's death. This put him in 
great spirits, and after making a round 
upon his bare knees about the bottle, 
he took a little of the water, and rubbed 
it into the king's eyes. In a minute 
he jumped up from his throne and 
looked about him as well as ever. 
He ordered Owney to be dressed out 
like a king's son, and sent word to 
his daughter that she should receive 
him that instant for her husband. 

You may say to yourself that the 
princess, glad as she was of her father's 
recovery, did not like this message. 



OWNEV AND OWNEY'NA'PEAK 179 

Small blame to her, when it is con- 
sidered that she never set her eyes 
upon the man himself. However, her 
mind was changed wonderfully when 
he was brought before her, covered 
with gold and diamonds, and all sorts 
of grand things. Wishing, however, 
to know whether he had as good a 
wit as he had a person, she told him 
that he should give her, on the next 
morning, ail answer to two questions, 
otherwise ' she would not hold him 
worthy of her hand. Owney bowed, 
and she put the questions as follows : 

* What is that which is the sweetest 
thing in the world ? * 

' What are the three most beautiful 
objects in the creation ? * 

These were puzzling questions ; but 
Owney having a small share of brains 
of his own, was not long in forming 
an opinion upon the matter. He was 
very impatient for the morning ; but 
it came just as slow and regular as if 
he were not in the world. In a short 



i8o IRISH FAIRY TALES 

time he was summoned to the court- 
yard, where all the nobles of the land 
assembled, with flags waving, and 
trumpets sounding, and all manner of 
glorious doings going on. The princess 
was placed on a throne of gold near 
her father, and there was a beautiful 
carpet spread for Owney to stand 
upon while he answered her questions. 
After the trumpets were silenced, she 
put the first, with a clear sweet voice, 
and he replied : 

* It's salt ! ' says he, very stout, out. 
There was a great applause at the 

answer; and the princess owned, 
smiling, that he had judged right. 

* But now,' said she, * for the second. 
What are the three most beautiful 
things in the creation ? ' 

*Why,' answered the young man, 
* here they are. A ship in full sail — 
a field of wheat in ear — and ' 

What the third most beautiful thing 
was, all the people didn't hear; but 
there was a great blushing and laughing 



OWNEV AND OWNEY'NA'PEAK i8i 

among the ladies, and the princess 
smiled and nodded at him, quite 
pleased with his wit. Indeed, many 
said that the judges of the land them- 
selves could not have answered better, 
had they been in Owney's place ; nor 
could there be anywhere found a more 
likely or well-spoken young man. He 
was brought first to the king, who 
took him in his arms, and presented 
him to the princess. She could not 
help acknowledging to herself that his 
understanding was quite worthy of his 
handsome person. Orders being im- 
mediately given for the marriage to 
proceed, they w^ere made one with all 
speed; and it is said, that before 
another year came round, the fair 
princess was one of the most beautiful 
objects in the creation. 



KINGS AND WARRIORS 





THE 
KNIGHTING OF CUCULAINi 

By Standish O'Grady 

|NE night in the month of 
the fires of Bel, Cathvah, 
the Druid and star-gazer, 
was observing the heavens 
through his astrological instruments. 
Beside him was Cuculain, just then 
completing his sixteenth year. Since 
the exile of Fergus MacRoy, Cuculain 
had attached himself most to the Ard- 
Druid, and delighted to be along with 
him in his studies and observations. 

^ Cuculain was the great hero of legendar)' 
Ireland. 



i86 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Suddenly the old man put aside his 
instruments and meditated a long time 
in silence. 

*Setanta,' said he at length, *art 
thou yet sixteen years of age ? ' 

* No, father,* replied the boy. 

* It will then be difficult to persuade 
the king to knight thee and enrol thee 
among his knights,* said Cathvah. 
*Yet this must be done to-morrow, 
for it has been revealed to me that 
he whom Concobar MacNessa shall 
present with arms to-morrow, will be 
renowned to the most distant ages, 
and to the ends of the earth. Thou 
shalt be presented with arms to-morrow, 
and after that thou mayest retire for 
a season among thy comrades, nor 
go out among the warriors until thy 
strength is mature.' 

The next day Cathvah procured the 
king's consent to the knighting of 
Cuculain. Now on the same morning, 
one of his grooms came to Concobar 
MacNessa and said : * O chief of the 



KNIGHTING OF CUCULAIN 187 

Red Branch, thou knowest how no 
horse has eaten barley, or ever occupied 
the stall where stood the divine steed 
which, with another of mortal breed, 
in the days of Kimbay MacFiontann, 
was accustomed to bear forth to the 
battle the great war -queen, Macha 
Monga-Rue; but ever since that stall 
has been empty, and no mortal steed 
hath profaned the stall in which the 
deathless Lia Macha was wont to 
stand. Yet, O Concobar, as I passed 
into the great stables on the east side 
of the courtyard, wherein are the steeds 
of thy own ambus, and in which is that 
spot since held sacred, I saw in the 
empty stall a mare, gray almost to 
whiteness, and of a size and beauty 
such as I have never seen, wha turned 
to look upon me as I entered the 
stable, having very gentle eyes, but 
such as terrified me, so that I let fall 
the vessel in which I was bearing curds 
for the steed of Konaul Clareena ; and 
she approached me, and laid her head 



i88 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

upon my shoulder, making a strange 
noise.' 

Now as the groom was thus speak- 
ing, Cowshra Mend Macha, a younger 
son of Concobar, came before the 
king, and said : * Thou knowest, O my 
father, that house in which is preserved 
the chariot of Kimbay MacFiontann, 
wherein he and she, whose name I 
bear, the great queen that protects 
our nation, rode forth to the wars in 
the ancient days, and how it has been 
preserved ever since, and that it is 
under my care to keep bright and 
clean. Now this day at sunrise I 
approached the house, as is my custom, 
and approaching, I heard dire voices, 
clamorous and terrible, that came from 
within, and noises like the noise of 
battle, and shouts as of warriors in 
the agony of the conflict, that raise 
their voices with short intense cries 
as they ply their weapons, avoiding 
or inflicting death. Then I went back 
terrified, but there met me Minrowar, 



KNIGHTING OF CUCULAIN 189 

son of Gerkin, for he came but last 
night from Moharne, in the east, and 
he went to look at his own steeds; 
but together we opened the gate of 
the chariot -house, and the bronze of 
the chariot burned like glowing fire, 
and the voices cried out in acclaim, 
when we stood in the doorway, and 
the light streamed into the dark 
chamber. Doubtless, a great warrior 
will appear amongst the Red Branch, 
for men say that not for a hundred 
years have these voices been heard, 
and I know not for whom Macha 
sends these portents, if it be not for 
the son of Sualtam, though he is not 
yet of an age to bear arms.' 

Thus was Concobar prepared for 
the knighting of Cuculain. 

Then in the presence of his court, 
and his warriors, and the youths who 
were the comrades and companions 
of Cuculain, Concobar presented the 
young hero with his weapons of war, 
after he had taken the vows of the 



I90 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Red Branch, and having also bound 
himself by certain gaesa.^ But Cuculain 
looked narrowly upon the weapons, 
and he struck the spears together and 
clashed the sword upon the shield, and 
he brake the spears in pieces, and the 
sword, and made chasms in the shield. 

* These are not good weapons, O 
my King,' said the boy. 

Then the king presented him with 
others that were larger and stronger, 
and these too the boy brake into 
little pieces. 

* These are still worse, O son of 
Nessa,' said the boy, 'and it is not 
seemly, O chief of the Red Branch, 
that on the day that I am to receive 
my arms I should be made a laughing- 
stock before the Clanna Rury, being 
yet but a boy.' 

But Concobar MacNessa exulted 
exceedingly when he beheld the amaz- 

^ Curious vows taken by the ancient warriors. 
Hardly anything definite is known of them. 
—Ed. 



KNIGHTING OF CUCULAIN 191 

ing Strength and the waywardness of 
the boy, and beneath delicate brows 
his eyes glittered like gleaming swords 
as he glanced rapidly round on the 
crowd of martial men that surrounded 
him ; but amongst them all he seemed 
himself a bright torch of valour and 
war, more pure and clear than polished 
steel. But he beckoned to one of 
his knights, who hastened away and 
returned, bringing Concobar's own 
shield and spears and the sword out 
of the Tayta Brae, where they were 
kept, an equipment in reserve. And 
Cuculain shook them and bent them, 
and clashed them together, but they 
held firm. 

* These are good arms, O son of 
Nessa,' said Cuculain. 

Then there were led forward a pair 
of noble steeds and a war -car, and 
the king conferred them on Cuculain. 
Then Cuculain sprang into the chariot, 
and standing with legs apart, he stamped 
from side to side, and shook and shook, 



192 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

and jolted the car until the axle brake 
and the car itself was broken in pieces. 

* This is not a good chariot, O my 
King/ said the boy. 

Then there were led forward three 
chariots, and all these he brake in 
succession. 

* These are not good chariots, O chief 
of the Red Branch,' said Cuculain. *No 
brave warrior would enter the battle or 
fight from such rotten foothold.' 

Then the king called to his son 
Cowshra Mead Macha and bade him 
take Lseg, and harness to the war- 
chariot, of which he had the care, 
the wondrous gray steed, and that one 
which had been given him by Kelkar, 
the son of Uther, and to give Laeg a 
charioteering equipment, to be chariot- 
eers of Cuculain. For now it was 
apparent to all the nobles and to the 
king that a lion of war had appeared 
amongst them, and that it was for 
him Macha had sent these omens. 

Then Cuculain's heart leaped in his 



KNIGHTING OF CUCULAIN 193 

breast when he heard the thunder of 
the great war-car and the mad whinny- 
ing of the horses that smelt the battle 
afar. Soon he beheld them with his 
eyes, and the charioteer with the golden 
fillet of his office, erect in the car, 
struggling to subdue their fury. A 
gray, long-maned steed, whale -bellied, 
broad-chested, behind one yoke; a 
black, ugly-maned steed behind the 
other. 

Like a hawk swooping along the 
face of a cliff when the wind is high, 
or like the rush of the March wind 
over the plain, or like the fleetness of 
the stag roused from his lair by the 
hounds and covering his first field, 
was the rush of those steeds when they 
had broken through the restraint of 
the charioteer, as though they galloped 
over fiery flags, so that the earth shook 
and trembled with the velocity of their 
motion, and all the time the great car 
brayed and shrieked as the wheels of 
solid and glittering bronze went round, 
o 



194 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

for there were demons that had their 
abode in that car. 

The charioteer restrained the steeds 
before the assembly, but nay-the-less a 
deep pur, Uke the pur of a tiger, pro- 
ceeded from the axle. Then the 
whole assembly lifted up their voices 
and shouted for Cuculain, and he 
himself, Cuculain the son of Sualtam, 
sprang into his chariot, all armed, with 
a cry as of a warrior springing into his 
chariot in the battle, and he stood 
erect and brandished his spears, and 
the war -sprites of the Gaeil shouted 
along with them, to the Bocanahs and 
Bananahs and the Genitii Glindi, the 
wild people of the glens, and the 
demons of the air, roared around him, 
when first the great warrior of the 
Gseil, his battle-arms in his hands, stood 
equipped for war in his chariot before 
all the warriors of his tribe, the kings 
of the Clanna Rury, and the people of 
Emain Macha. 





THE LITTLE WEAVER OF 
DULEEK GATE 

By Samuel Lover 

|0U see, there was a waiver 
lived, wanst upon a time, 
in Duleek here, hard by 
the gate, and a very honest, 
industherous man he was, by all 
accounts. He had a wife, and av 
coorse they had childhre, and small 
blame to them, and plenty of them, so 
that the poor little waiver was obleeged 
to work his fingers to the bone a'most 
to get them the bit and the sup ; but 
he didn't begridge that, for he was an 
industherous craythur, as I said before. 



196 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

and it was up airly and down late with 
him, and the loom never standin* still. 
Well, it was one mornin' that his wife 
called to him, and he sitting very 
busy throwin^ the shuttle ; and says she, 
*Come here,' says she, * jewel, and 
ate your brekquest, now that it's ready.' 
But he never minded her, but wint an 
workin'. So in a minit or two more, 
says she, callin' out to him agin, * Arrah, 
lave off slavin' yourself, my darlin', and 
ate your bit o' brekquest while it is 
hot.' 

*Lave me alone,' says he, and he 
dhruv the shuttle fasther nor before. 

Well, in a little time more, she goes 
over to him where he sot, and says she, 
coaxin' him like, *Thady, dear,' says 
she, * the stirabout will be stone cowld 
if you don't give over that weary work 
and come and ate it at wanst.' 

' I'm busy with a patthern here that 
is brakin' my heart,' says the waiver; 
' and antil I complate it and masther 
it intirely I won't quit.' 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 197 

*0h, think o' the iligant stirabout, 
that 'ill be spylte intirely.' 

'To the divil with the stirabout,' 
says he. 

*God forgive you,' says she, *for 
cursin' your good brekquest.' 

* Ay, and you too,' says he. 

*Throth, you're as cross as two 
sticks this blessed morning, Thady,' 
says the poor wife; *and it's a heavy 
handful I have of you when you are 
cruked in your temper ; but stay there 
if you Hke, and let your stirabout grow 
cowld, and not a one o' me 'ill ax you 
agin ; ' and with that off she wint, and 
the waiver, sure enough, was mighty 
crabbed, and the more the wife spoke 
to him the worse he got, which, you 
know, is only nath'ral. Well, he left 
the loom at last, and wint over to the 
stirabout, and what would you think 
but whin he looked at it, it was as 
black as a crow ; for, you see, it was 
in the hoighth o' summer, and the 
flies lit upon it to that degree that 



198 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

the Stirabout was fairly covered with 
them. 

* Why, thin, bad luck to your 
impidence,' says the waiver ; * would 
no place sarve you but that? and is 
it spyling my brekquest yiz are, you 
dirty bastes?' And with that, bein* 
altogether cruked-tempered at the time, 
he lifted his hand, and he made one 
great slam at the dish o' stirabout, and 
killed no less than three score and tin 
flies at the one blow. It was three 
score and tin exactly, for he counted 
the carcasses one by one, and laid 
them out on a clane plate, for to 
view them. 

Well, he felt a powerful sperit risin' 
in him, when he seen the slaughther 
he done, at one blow ; and with that 
he got as consaited as the very dickens, 
and not a sthroke more work he'd do 
that day, but out he wint, and was 
fractious and impident to every one he 
met, and was squarin' up into their 
faces and sayin', * Look at that fist ! 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 199 

that's the fist that killed three score 
and tin at one blow — Whoo ! ' 

With that all the neighbours thought 
he was crack'd, and faith, the poor 
wife herself thought the same when he 
kem home in the evenin', afther spendin' 
every rap he had in dhrink, and 
swaggerin' about the place, and lookin* 
at his hand every minit. 

* Indeed, an' your hand is very 
dirty, sure enough, Thady jewel,' says 
the poor wife ; and thrue for her, for 
he rowled into a ditch comin' home. 
* You had betther wash it, darlin'.' 

*How dar' you say dirty to the 
greatest hand in Ireland?' says he, 
going to bate her. 

* Well, it's nat dirty,' says she. 

* It is throwin' away my time I have 
been all my life,' says he ; * livin' with 
you at all, and stuck at a loom, nothin' 
but a poor waiver, when it is Saint 
George or the Dhraggin I ought to be, 
which is two of the siven champions 
o' Christendom.' 



20O IRISH FAIRY TALES 

*Well, suppose they christened him 
twice as much/ says the wife; 'sure, 
what's that to uz ? ' 

* Don't put in your prate,' says he ; 
* you ignorant sthrap,' says he. * You're 
vulgar, woman — you're vulgar — mighty 
vulgar ; but I'll have nothin' more to 
say to any dirty snakin' thrade again — 
divil a more waivin' I'll do.' 

*0h, Thady dear, and what'll the 
children do then ? ' 

* Let them go play marvels,' says he. 

* That would be but poor feedin' for 
them, Thady.' 

*They shan't want for feedin',' says 
he ; * for it's a rich man I'll be soon, 
and a great man too.' 

*Usha, but I'm glad to hear it, 
darUn', — though I dunna how it's to be, 
but I think you had betther go to bed, 
Thady.' 

* Don't talk to me of any bed but 
the bed o' glory, woman,' says he, 
lookin' mortial grand. 

* Oh ! God send we'll all be in glory 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 201 

yet,' says the wife, crassin' herself; 
*but go to sleep, Thady, for this 
present.' 

* I'll sleep with the brave yit,' says he. 

* Indeed, an' a brave sleep will do 
you a power o' good, my darlin',' says 
she. 

* And it's I that will be the knight ! ' 
says he. 

*A11 night, if you plaze, Thady,' 
says she. 

*None o' your coaxin',' says he. 
* I'm detarmined on it, and I'll set off 
immediantly, and be a knight arriant.' 

* A what ? ' says she. 

* A knight arriant, woman.' 

* Lord, be good to me, what's that ? ' 
says she. 

* A knight arriant is a rale gintleman,' 
says he; * going round the world for 
sport, with a swoord by his side, takih' 
whatever he plazes for himself; and 
that's a knight arriant,' says he. 

Well, sure enough he wint about 
among his neighbours the next day, and 



202 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

he got an owld kittle from one, and a 
saucepan from another; and he took 
them to the tailor, and he sewed him 
up a shuit o' tin clothes like any knight 
arriant and he borrowed a pot lid, and 
that he was very partic'lar about, bekase 
it was his shield and he wint to a frind o' 
his, a painther and glazier, and made him 
paint an his shield in big letthers — 



<v 



IM THE MAN OF ALL MIN, 

THAT KILLED THREE SCORE AND TIN 

AT A BLOW.' 

'When the people sees that,' says 
the waiver to himself, *the sorra one 
will dar' for to come near me.' 

And with that he towld the wife to 
scour out the small iron pot for him, 
' For,' says he, * it will make an iligant 
helmet ' ; and when it was done, he put 
it an his head, and his wife said, * Oh, 
murther, Thady jewel, is it puttin' a 
great heavy iron pot an your head you 
are, by way iv a hat ? ' 

*Sartinly,' says he; 'for a knight 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 203 

arraint should always have a weight an 
his brain^ 

*But, Thady dear,' says the wife, 
* there's a hole in it, and it can't keep 
out the weather.' 

*It will be the cooler,' says he, 
puttin' it an him ; ' besides, if I don't 
like it, it is aisy to stop it with a wisp 
o' sthraw, or the like o' that.' 

*The three legs of it looks mighty 
quare, stickin' up,' says she. 

'Every helmet has a spike stickin' 
out o' the top of it,' says the waiver ; 
*and if mine has three, it's only the 
grandher it is.' 

* Well,' says the wife, getting bitther 
at last, *all I can say is, it isn't the 
first sheep's head was dhress'd in it.' 

* Your sarvint, mcCam^ says he ; and 
off he set. 

Well, he was in want of a horse, and 
so he wint to a field hard by, where the 
miller's horse was grazin', that used 
to carry the ground corn round the 
counthry. 



204 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

* This is the idintical horse for me,' 
says the waiver ; * he is used to carryin' 
flour and male, and what am I but 
XkiQ flower o^ shovelry in a coato' mail\ 
so that the horse won't be put out iv 
his way in the laste.' 

But as he wasridin'himout o' the field, 
who should see him but the miller. 

* Is it Stalin' my horse you are, honest 
man ? ' says the miller. 

*No,' says the waiver; 'I'm only 
goin' to ^A:ercise him,' says he, * in the 
cool o' the evenin' \ it will be good for 
his health.' 

* Thank you kindly,' says the miller ; 
* but lave him where he is, and you'll 
obleege me.' 

*I can't afford it,' says the waiver, 
runnin' the horse at the ditch. 

* Bad luck to your impidence,' says 
the miller ; * you've as much tin about 
you as a thravellin' tinker, but you've 
more brass. Come back here, you 
vagabone,' says he. 

But he was too late ; away galloped 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 205 

the waiver, and took the road to Dublin, 
for he thought the best thing he could 
do was to go to the King o* Dublin 
(for Dublin was a grate place thin, and 
had a king iv its own), and he thought, 
maybe, the King o* Dublin would give 
him work. Well, he was four days 
goin* to Dublin, for the baste was not 
the best and the roads worse, not all 
as one as now; but there was no 
turnpikes then, glory be to God ! When 
he got to Dublin, he wint sthrait to the 
palace, and whin he got into the 
coortyard he let his horse go and graze 
about the place, for the grass was 
growin' out betune the stones ; every- 
thing was flourishin' thin in Dublin, 
you see. Well, the king was lookin' 
out of his dhrawin'-room windy, for 
divarshin, whin the waiver kem in; 
but the waiver pretended not to see 
him, and he wint over to a stone sate, 
undher the windy — for, you see, there 
was stone sates all round about the 
place for the accommodation o' the 



2o6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

people — for the king was a dacent, 
obleeging man; well, as I said, the 
waiver wint over and lay down an one 
o' the sates, just undher the king's 
windy, and purtended to go asleep; 
but he took care to turn out the front 
of his shield that had the letthers an 
it ; well, my dear, with that, the king 
calls out to one of the lords of his 
coort that was standin* behind him, 
howldin' up the skirt of his coat, 
accordin' to rayson, and says he : * Look 
here,' says he, * what do you think of 
a vagabone like that comin' undher 
my very nose to go sleep ? It is thrue 
I'm a good king,' says he, *and I 
'commodate the people by havin' sates 
for them to sit down and enjoy the 
raycreation and contimplation of seein' 
me here, lookin' out a' my dhrawin'- 
room windy, for divarshin; but that 
is no rayson they are to make a hotel 
o' the place, and come and sleep 
here. Who is it at all?' says the 
king. 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 207 

* Not a one o' me knows, plaze your 
majesty.' 

* I think he must be a furriner/ says 
the king; 'bekase his dhress is out- 
landish.' 

*And doesn't know manners, more 
betoken,' says the lord. 

*I'll go down and circumspect him 
myself,' says the king ; * folly me,' says 
he to the lord, wavin' his hand at the 
same time in the most dignacious 
manner. 

Down he wint accordingly, followed 
by the lord ; and whin he wint over to 
where the waiver was lying, sure the 
first thing he seen was his shield with 
the big letthers an it, and with that, 
says he to the lord, * Bedad,' says he, 
*this is the very man I want.' 

*For what, plaze your majesty?' 
says the lord. 

* To kill that vagabone dragghin, to 
be sure,' says the king. 

*Sure, do you think he could kill 
him,' says the lord, *when all the 



2o8 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Stoutest knights in the land wasn't 
aiquil to it, but never kem back, and 
was ate up alive by the cruel desaiver.' 

' Sure, don't you see there,' says the 
king, pointin' at the shield, ^that he 
killed three score and tin at one blow ? 
and the man that done that^ I think, 
is a match for anything.' 

So, with that, he wint over to the 
waiver and shuck him by the shouldher 
for to wake him, and the waiver rubbed 
his eyes as if just wakened, and the 
king says to him, * God save you,' said 
he. 

*God save you kindly,' says the 
waiver, purtendit^ he was quite 
onknowst who he was spakin' to. 

* Do you know who I am,' says the 
king, *that you make so free, good 
man ? ' 

' No, indeed,' says the waiver ; * you 
have the advantage o' me.* 

* To be sure I have,' says the king, 
nioighty high ; * sure, ain't I the King 
o' Dublin ? ' says he. 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 209 

The waiver dhropped down an his 
two knees forninst the king, and says 
he, ^ I beg God's pardon and yours for 
the Hberty I tuk ; plaze your holiness, 
I hope you'll excuse it.' 

*No offince,' says the king; *get 
up, good man. And what brings you 
here ? ' says he. 

*rm in want o' work, plaze your 
riverence,' says the waiver. 

'Well, suppose I give you work?' 
says the king. 

*ril be proud to sarve you, my 
lord,' says the waiver. 

'Very well,' says the king. *You 
killed three score and tin at one blow, 
I understan',' says the king. 

* Yis,' says* the waiver \ * that was the 
last thrifle o' work I done, and I'm 
afeard my hand '11 go out o' practice 
if I don't get some job to do at wanst.' 

* You shall have a job immediantly,' 
says the king. * It is not three score 
and tin or any fine thing like that; 
it is only a blaguard dhraggin that 



210 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

is disturbin' the counthry and ruinatin' 
my tinanthry wid aitin' their powlthry, 
and I'm lost for want of eggs,' says the 
king. 

*Throth, thin, plaze your worship,' 
says the waiver, *you look as yollow 
as if you swallowed twelve yolks this 
minit.* 

*Well, I want this dhraggin to be 
killed,' says the king. * It will be no 
throuble in life to you ; and I am only 
sorry that it isn't betther worth your 
while, for he isn't worth fearin' at all ; 
only I must tell you, that he lives in 
the County Galway, in the middle of a 
bog, and he has an advantage in that.' 

*0h, I don't value it in the laste,' 
says the waiver; 'for the last three 
score and tin I killed was in a soft 
place. ^ 

* When will you undhertake the job, 
then ? ' says the king. 

* Let me at him at wanst,' says the 
waiver. 

* That's what I like,' says the king; 



k 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 211 

* you're the very man for my money,' 
says he. 

* Talkin' of money,' says the waiver ; 
' by the same token, I'll want a thrifle 
o' change from you for my thravellin' 
charges/ 

*As much as you plaze,' says the 
king ; and with the word, he brought 
him into his closet, where there was 
an owld stockin' in an oak chest, 
burstin' wid goolden guineas. 

* Take as many as you plaze,' says 
the king; and sure enough, my dear, 
the little waiver stuffed his tin clothes 
as full as they could howld with them. 

* Now, I'm ready for the road,' says 
the waiver. 

* Very well,' says the king ; * but you 
must have a fresh horse,' says he. 

* With all my heart,' says the waiver, 
who thought he might as well ex- 
change the miller's owld garron for a 
betther. 

And maybe it's wondherin' you are 
that the waiver would think of goin' to 



212 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

fight the dhraggin afther what he heerd 
about him, when he was purtendin' to 
be asleep, but he had no sitch notion ; 
all he intended was, — to fob the goold, 
and ride back again to Duleek with his 
gains and a good horse. But, you see, 
cute as the waiver was, the king was 
cuter still ; for these high quolity, you 
see, is great desaivers; and so the 
horse the waiver was put an was larned 
on purpose; and sure, the minit he 
was mounted, away powdhered the 
horse, and the divil a toe he'd go but 
right down to Galway. Well, for four 
days he was goin' evermore, until at 
last the waiver seen a crowd o' people 
runnin' as if owld Nick was at their 
heels, and they shoutin' a thousand 
murdhers and cryin', *The dhraggin, 
the dhraggin ! ' and he couldn't stop 
the horse nor make him turn back, but 
away he pelted right forninst the 
terrible baste that was comin' up to 
him, and there was the most nefaarious 
smell o' sulphur, savin' your presence. 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 213 

enough to knock you down ; and, faith 
the waiver seen he had no time to lose, 
and so he threw himself off the horse 
and made to a three that was growin^ 
nigh hand, and away he clambered up 
into it as nimble as a cat ; and not a 
minit had he to spare, for the dhraggin 
kem up in a powerful rage, and he 
devoured the horse body and bones, 
in less than no time; and then he 
began to sniffle and scent about for the 
waiver, and at last he clapt his eye an 
him, where he was, up in the three, and 
says he, * In throth, you might as well 
come down out o* that,' says he ; ^ for 
I'll have you as sure as eggs is mate.' 

* Divil a fut Til go down,' says the 
waiver. 

* Sorra care, I care,' says the dhrag- 
gin; *for you're as good as ready 
money in my pocket this minit, for 
I'll lie undher this three,' says he, * and 
sooner or later you must fall to my 
share ' ; and sure enough he sot down, 
and began to pick his teeth with his 



214 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

tail, afther the heavy brekquest he 
made that mornin' (for he ate a whole 
village, let alone the horse), and he got 
dhrowsy at last, and fell asleep; but 
before he wint to sleep, he wound him- 
self all round about the three, all as one 
as a lady windin' ribbon round her 
finger, so that the waiver could not 
escape. 

Well, as soon as the waiver knew he 
was dead asleep, by the snorin' of him 
— and every snore he let out of him 
was like a clap o' thunder — that minit 
the waiver began to creep down the 
three, as cautious as a fox ; and he was 
very nigh hand the bottom, when, bad 
cess to it, a thievin' branch he was 
dipindin' an bruk, and down he fell 
right a-top o' the dhraggin ; but if he 
did, good luck was an his side, for 
where should he fall but with his two 
legs right acrass the dhraggin's neck, 
and, my jew'l, he laid howlt o' the 
haste's ears, and there he kept his grip, 
for the dhraggin wakened and en- 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 215 

dayvoured for to bite him; but, you 
see, by rayson the waiver was behind 
his ears, he could not come at him, 
and, with that, he endayvoured for to 
shake him off; but the divil a stir 
could he stir the waiver; and though 
he shuk all the scales an his body, he 
could not turn the scale agin the 
waiver. 

'By the hokey, this is too bad 
intirely,' says the dhraggin; *but if 
you won't let go,' says he, *by the 
powers o' wildfire, I'll give you a ride 
that 'ill astonish your siven small sinses, 
my boy ' ; and, with that, away he flew 
like mad ; and where do you think he 
did fly ? — bedad, he flew sthraight for 
Dublin, divil a less. But the waiver 
bein' an his neck was a great disthress 
to him, and he would rather have had 
him an inside passenger ; but, anyway, 
he flew and he flew till he kem slap up 
agin the palace o' the king ; for, bein' 
blind with the rage, he never seen it, 
and he knocked his brains out — that 



2i6 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

is, the small thrifle he had — and down 
he fell spacheless. An^ you see, good 
luck would have it, that the King o' 
Dublin was lookin' out iv' his dhrawin'- 
room windy, for divarshin, that day 
also, and whin he seen the waiver 
ridin' an the fiery dhraggin (for he was 
blazin* like a tar-barrel), he called out 
to his coortyers to come and see the 
show. * By the powdhers o' war, here 
comes the knight arriant,' says the 
king, 'ridin' the dhraggin that's all 
afire, and if he gets into the palace^ yiz 
must be ready wid the fire ingines^ 
says he, *for to put him out.'' But 
when they seen the dhraggin fall out- 
side, they all run down -stairs and 
scampered into the palace-yard for to 
circumspect the curosity \ and by the 
time they got down, the waiver had got 
off o' the dhraggin's neck, and runnin' 
up to the king, says he, *Plaze your 
holiness,' says he, *I did not think 
myself worthy of killin' this facetious 
baste, so I brought him to yourself for 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 217 

to do him the honour of decripitation 
by your own royal five fingers. But I 
tamed him first, before I allowed him 
the liberty for to dar' to appear in your 
royal prisince, and you'll oblige me if 
you'll just make your mark with your 
own hand upon the onruly haste's 
neck/ And with that the king, sure 
enough, dhrew out his swoord and 
took the head aff the dirty brute as 
clane as a new pin. Well, there was 
great rejoicin' in the coort that the 
dhraggin was killed ; and says the king 
to the little waiver, says he, ^ You are a 
knight arriant as it is, and so it would 
be of no use for to knight you over 
agin ; but I will make you a lord,' 
says he. 

* O Lord ! ' says the waiver, thunder- 
struck like at his own good luck. 

* I will,' says the king ; ' and as you 
are the first man I ever heer'd tell of 
that rode a dhraggin, you shall be 
called Lord Mount Dhraggin,' says he. 

* And Where's my estates, plaze your 



2i8 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

holiness ? * says the waiver, who always 
had a sharp look-out afther the main 
chance. 

*0h, I didn't forget that/ says the 
king; *it is my royal pleasure to 
provide well for you, and for that 
rayson I make you a present of all the 
dhraggins in the world, and give you 
power over them from this out,' says 
he. 

' Is that all ? ' says the waiver. 

* All ! ' says the king. * Why, you 
ongrateful little vagabone, was the like 
ever given to any man before ? ' 

*I b'lieve not, indeed,' says the 
waiver ; * many thanks to your majesty.' 

* But that is not all I'll do for you,' 
says the king; *ril give you my 
daughther too in marriage,' says he. 
Now, you see, that was nothin' more 
than what he promised the waiver in 
his first promise ; for, by all accounts, 
the king's daughther was the greatest 
dhraggin ever was seen, and had the 
divil's own tongue, and a beard a yard 



THE LITTLE WEAVER 219 

long, which she purtended was put an 
her by way of a penance by Father 
Mulcahy, her confissor; but it was 
well known it was in the family for 
ages, and no wondher it was so long, 
by rayson of that same. 



1 



APPENDIX 



1 


^^^^^^^^^^^ 


1 fl^!*^M 




^5^^^^ 


Si 


^ 






CLASSIFICATION OF 
IRISH FAIRIES 

IRISH Fairies divide them- 
selves into two great classes : 
the sociable and the solitary. 
The first arfe in the main 

kindly, and the second full of all un- 

charitableness. 

The Sociable Fairies 

These creatures, who go about in troops, 
and quarrel, and make love, much as men 
and women do, are divided into land 
fairies or Sheoques (Ir. Sidheog, *a little 
fairy,') and water fairies or Merrows (Ir. 
Moruadh^ * a sea maid ' ; the masculine is 
unknown). At the same time I am 



224 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

inclined to think that the term Sheoque 
may be applied to both upon occasion, 
for I have heard of a whole village 
turning out to hear two red -capped 
water fairies, who were very * little fairies ' 
indeed, play upon the bagpipes. 

I. The Sheoques, — The Sheoques 
proper, however, are the spirits that 
haunt the sacred thorn bushes and the 
green raths. All over Ireland are little 
fields circled by ditches, and supposed to 
be ancient fortifications and sheepfolds. 
These are the raths, or forts, or * royalties,' 
as they are variously called. Here, 
marrying and giving in marriage, live 
the land fairies. Many a mortal they 
are said to have enticed down into their 
dim world. Many more have listened to 
their fairy music, till all human cares 
and joys drifted from their hearts and 
they became great peasant seers or * Fairy 
Doctors,' or great peasant musicians or 
poets like Carolan, who gathered his 
tunes while sleeping on a fairy rath ; or 
else they died in a year and a day, to live 
ever after among the fairies. These 
Sheoques are on the whole good; but 



IRISH FAIRIES 225 

one most malicious habit have they — 
a habit worthy of a witch. They steal 
children and leave a withered fairy, a 
thousand or maybe two thousand years 
old, instead. Three or four years ago a 
man wrote to one of the Irish papers, 
telling of a case in his own village, and 
how the parish priest made the fairies 
deliver the stolen child up again. At 
times full-grown men and women have 
been taken. Near the village of 
Coloney, Sligo, I have been told, lives an 
old woman who was taken in her youth. 
When she came home at the end of 
seven years she had no toes, for she had 
danced them off. Now and then one hears 
of some real injury being done a person 
by the land fairies, but then it is nearly 
always deserved. They are said to have 
killed two people in the last six months 
in the County Down district where I am 
now staying. But then these persons 
had torn up thorn bushes belonging to 
the Sheoques. 

2. The Merrows. — These water fairies 
are said to be common. I asked a 
peasant woman once whether the fisher- 
Q 



226 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

men of her village had ever seen one. 
^ Indeed, they don't like to see them 
at all/ she answered, *for they always 
bring bad weather.' Sometimes the 
Merrows come out of the sea in the 
shape of little hornless cows. When in 
their own shape, they have fishes' tails 
and wear a red cap called in Irish 
cohuleen driuth (p. 79). The men among 
them have, according to Croker, green 
teeth, green hair, pigs' eyes, and red 
noses ; but their women are beautiful, 
and sometimes prefer handsome fisher- 
men to their green-haired lovers. Near 
Bantry, in the last century, lived a 
woman covered with scales like a fish, 
who was descended, as the story goes, 
from such a marriage. I have my- 
self never heard tell of this grotesque 
appearance of the male Merrows, and 
think it probably a merely local Munster 
tradition. 

The Solitary Fairies 

These are nearly all gloomy and 
terrible in some way. There are, how- 



IRISH FAIRIES 227 

ever, some among them who have light 
hearts and brave attire. 

1. The Lepricaun (Ir. Leith bhrogan^ 
i,e, the one shoe maker). — This creature 
is seen sitting under a hedge mending 
a shoe, and one who catches him can 
make him deliver up his crocks of gold, 
for he is a miser of great wealth ; but if 
you take your eyes off him the creature 
vanishes like smoke. He is said to be 
the child of an evil spirit and a debased 
fairy, and wears, according to Mc Anally, 
a red coat with seven buttons in each 
row, and a cocked-hat, on the point of 
which he sometimes spins like a top. In 
Donegal he goes clad in a great frieze coat. 

2. The Cluricaun (Ir. Clobhair-cean 
in O' Kearney). — Some writers consider 
this to be another name for the Lepricaun, 
given him when he has laid aside his 
shoe -making at night and goes on the 
spree. The Cluricauns' occupations are 
robbing wine-cellars and riding sheep 
and shepherds' dogs for a livelong night, 
until the morning finds them panting and 
mud-covered. 

3. The Gonconer or Ganconagh (Ir. 



228 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

Gean-canogh^ i.e. love-talker). — This is a 
creature of the Lepricaun type, but, unlike 
him, is a great idler. He appears in 
lonely valleys, always with a pipe in his 
mouth, and spends his time in making 
love to shepherdesses and milkmaids. 

4. The Far Darrig (Ir. Fear Dearg, 
i.e. red man). — This is the practical joker 
of the other world. The wild Sligo story 
I give of *A Fairy Enchantment' was 
probably his work. Of these solitary 
and mainly evil fairies there is no more 
lubberly wretch than this same Far 
Darrig. Like the next phantom, he pre- 
sides over evil dreams. 

5. The Pooka (Ir. Puca^ a word 
derived by some from poc^ a he-goat). — 
The Pooka seems of the family of the 
nightmare. He has most likely never 
appeared in human form, the one or two 
recorded instances being probably mis- 
takes, he being mixed up with the Far 
Darrig. His shape is usually that of a 
horse, a bull, a goat, eagle, or ass. His 
delight is to get a rider, whom he rushes 
with through ditches and rivers and 
over mountains, and shakes off in the 



IRISH FAIRIES 229 

gray of the morning. Especially does he 
love to plague a drunkard : a drunkard's 
sleep is his kingdom. At times he takes 
more unexpected forms than those of 
beast or bird. The one that haunts the 
Dun of Coch-na-Phuca in Kilkenny takes 
the form of a fleece of wool, and at night 
rolls out into the surrounding fields, 
making a buzzing noise that so terrifies 
the cattle that unbroken colts will run 
to the nearest man and lay their heads 
upon his shoulder for protection. 

6. The Dullahan. — This is a most 
gruesome thing. He has no head, or 
carries it under his arm. Often he is 
seen driving a black coach called coach- 
a- bower (Ir. Coite-bodhar\ drawn by 
headless horses. It rumbles to your 
door, and if you open it a basin of blood 
is thrown in your face. It is an omen 
of death to the houses where it pauses. 
Such a coach not very long ago went 
through Sligo in the gray of the morning, 
as was told me by a sailor who believed 
he saw it. In one village I know its 
rumbling is said to be heard many times 
in the year. 



I 



230 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

7. The Leanhaun Shee (Ir. Lean- 
haun sidhe^ i.e. fairy mistress). — This spirit 
seeks the love of men. If they refuse, 
she is their slave ; if they consent, they 
are hers, and can only escape by finding 
one to take their place. Her lovers 
waste away, for she lives on their life. 
Most of the Gaelic poets, down to quite 
recent times, have had a Leanhaun Shee, 
for she gives inspiration to her slaves and 
is indeed the Gaelic muse — this malig- 
nant fairy. Her lovers, the Gaelic poets, 
died young. She grew restless, and 
carried them away to other worlds, for 
death does not destroy her power. 

8. The Far Gorta (man of hunger). 
— This is an emaciated fairy that goes 
through the land in famine time, beg- 
ging and bringing good luck to the 
giver. 

9. The Banshee (Ir. Bean-sidhe^ />. 
fairy woman). — This fairy, like the Far 
Gorta, differs from the general run of 
solitary fairies by its generally good 
disposition. She is perhaps not really 
one of them at all, but a sociable fairy 
grown solitary through much sorrow. 



IRISH FAIRIES 231 

The name corresponds to the less 
common Far Shee (Ir. Fear Sidhe), a 
man fairy. She wails, as most people 
know, over the death of a member of 
some old Irish family. Sometimes she 
is an enemy of the house and screams 
with triumph, but more often a friend. 
When more than one Banshee comes 
to cry, the man or woman who is dying 
must have been very holy or very brave. 
Occasionally she is most undoubtedly one 
of the sociable fairies. Cleena, once an 
Irish princess and then a Munster goddess, 
and now a Sheoque, is thus mentioned 
by the greatest of Irish antiquarians. 

O'Donovan, writing in 1 849 to a friend, 
who quotes his words in the Dublin 
University Magazine^ says : * When my 
grandfather died in- Leinster in 1798, 
Cleena came all the way from Ton Cleena 
to lament him ; but she has not been 
heard ever since lamenting any of our 
race, though I believe she still weeps in 
the mountains of Drumaleaque in her 
own country, where so many of the race 
of Eoghan More are dying of starvation.' 
The Banshee on the other hand who cries 



232 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

with triumph is often believed to be no 
fairy but a ghost of one wronged by an 
ancestor of the dying. Some say wrongly 
that she never goes beyond the seas, 
but dwells always in her own country. 
Upon the other hand, a distinguished 
writer on anthropology assures me that 
he has heard her on ist December 1867, 
in Pital, near Libertad, Central America, 
as he rode through a deep forest. She 
was dressed in pale yellow, and raised a 
cry like the cry of a bat. She came to 
announce the death of his father. This 
is her cry, written down by him with the 
help of a Frenchman and a violin. 



i 



-^A 






'^^ 



He saw and heard her again on 5th 
February 1 871, at 16 Devonshire Street, 
Queen's Square, London. She came this 
time to announce the death of his eldest 
child ; and in 1 884 he again saw and heard 
her at 28 East Street, Queen's Square, 
the death of his mother being the cause. 
The Banshee is called dad/t or 5owa 



IRISH FAIRIES 233 

in East Munster, and is named Bachuntha 
by Banim in one of his novels. 

Other Fairies and Spirits. — Besides 
the foregoing, we have other solitary 
fairies, of which too little definite is 
known to give them each a separate men- 
tion. They are the House Spirits, of 
whom *Teigue of the Lee' is probably an 
instance ; the Water Sherie, a kind of 
will-o'-the-wisp ; the Sowlth, a formless 
luminous creature ; the Pastha (Piast- 
bestia\ the lake dragon, a guardian of 
hidden treasure ; and the Bo men fairies, 
who live in the marshes of County Down 
and destroy the unwary. They may be 
driven away by a blow from a particular 
kind of sea -weed. I suspect them of 
being Scotch fairies imported by Scotch 
settlers. Then there is the great tribe of 
ghosts called Thivishes in some parts. 

These are all the fairies and spirits 
I have come across in Irish folklore. 
There are probably many others undis- 
covered. 

W. B. Yeats. 

Co. Down, June 1891. 





AUTHORITIES ON IRISH 
FOLKLORE 

jROKER'S Legends of the South 
of Ireland ; Lady Wilde's 
Ancient Legends of Ireland^ 
and Ancient Channs ; Sir 
William Wilde's Irish Popular Super- 
stitio7is ; McAnally's Irish Wonders ; 
Irish Folklore^ by Lageniensis (Father 
O'Hanlan) ; Curtins's Myths and Folk- 
lore of Ireland \ Douglas Hyde's Beside the 
Fire and his Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta ; 
Patrick Kennedy's Legendary Fictions of 
the Irish Peasantry^ his Banks of the 
Boro^ his Evenings on the Duffrey^ and 
his Legends of Mount Leinster\ the chap- 
books, Royal Fairy Tales^ and Tales of 
the Fairies. There is also much folk- 
lore in Carleton's Traits and Stories ; 



IRISH FOLKLORE 235 

in Lover's Legends and Stories of the 
Irish Peasantry ; in Mr. and Mrs. S. C. 
Hall's Ireland', in Lady Chatterton's 
Ra7nbles in the South of Ireland \ in 
Gerald Griffen's Tales of a fury Room 
in particular, and in his other books in 
general. It would repay the trouble if 
some Irish magazine would select from 
his works the stray legends and scraps 
of fairy belief. There is much in the 
Collegians. There is also folklore in 
the chap-book Hibernian Tales ^ and a 
Banshee story or two will be found in 
Miss Lefanu's Memoirs of my Grand- 
7nother^ and in Barrington's Recollections. 
There are also stories in Donovan's 
introduction to the Four Masters. The 
best articles are those in the Dublin and 
London Magazine (" The Fairy Grey- 
hound" is from this collection) for 1827 
and 1829, about a dozen in all, and David 
Fitzgerald's various contributions to the 
Review Celtique in our own day, and 
Miss M^Clintock's articles in the Dublin 
University Magazine for 1878. There 
are good articles also in the Dublin 
University Magazine for 1839, and 



236 IRISH FAIRY TALES 

much Irish folklore is within the pages 
of the Folklore Journal and the Folklore 
Record^ and in the proceedings of the 
Kilken7iy ArchcBological Society, The 
Penny Journal, the Newry Magazine, 
Dufffs Sixpenny Magazine, and the 
Hiberniaft Magazine, are also worth a 
search by any Irish writer on the look- 
out for subjects for song or ballad. My 
own articles in the Scots Observer and 
National Observer give many gatherings 
from the little-reaped Connaught fields. 
I repeat this list of authorities from my 
Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish 
Peasantry, — a compilation from some of 
the sources mentioned, — bringing it down 
to date and making one or two corrections. 
The reader who would know Irish tradi- 
tion should read these books above all 
others — Lady Wilde's Ancient Legends, 
Douglas Hyde's Beside the Fire, and a 
book not mentioned in the foregoing list, 
for it deals with the bardic rather than 
the folk literature, Standish O'Grady's 
History of Ireland, Heroic Period — per- 
haps the most imaginative book written 
on any Irish subject in recent decades. 




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