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BOOK 398.3.H995 c. 1 



3 T153 0012M357 7 

:: :: LEGENDS OF :: :: 


Drawn by] [.Una Hyde 

Leithin holds colloquy with the salmon of Assaroe 

Every ■ Irishman's ■ Library 

General Editors . ALFRED PERCEVAL Graves, m.a. 
William Magennis, m.a. Douglas Hyde, ll d. 





"Dionn reAct jcuniA aji An AirifiAn A^ur 
■6a mnfnir T>eAj; aji An rseAt." — SeAn TtA-oh. 


R4 ,; 

Printed by The 

Educational Company 

of Ireland Limited 

at The Talbot Press 



I have called the present volume " Legends of Saints 
and Sinners," which to a certain extent it is*; but I mean 
it for a book of Irish Christian folk-lore. My idea in com- 
piling it has been to give for the first time a collection of 
genuine Irish folk-lore which might be called " Christian." 
By this I mean folk-stories and folk-poems which are 
either entirely founded upon Christian conceptions, or 
else are so far coloured by them, that they could never 
have been told — at least in their present shape — had not 
Christianity established itself in Ireland. Every one of 
these stories conforms fairly to this standard, except one 
or two, which I give as necessary corollaries. They are 
all translations from the Irish. I have found hardly any 
such stories in English. They were mostly collected by 
myself from the mouths of native speakers, but three or 
four of them I have taken from Irish MSS. in my own 
possession, and a few more were given me by my friends. 
Not one of these stories was ever translated into English 
before, with the exception of those which I have taken 
from my own " Religious Songs of Connacht." 1 Many of 

1 And " Teig O'Kane," which I translated for Mr. Yeats nearly 
twenty years ago. 



these I decided to republish here, as they were practically 
lost amongst the heterogeneous mass of poems, prayers, 
charms, etc., in which they were embedded ; and, as the 
Religious Songs are little known, these stories which I 
have excerpted from them will be new to nineteen-twen- 
tieths of my readers. Several of these pieces have never 
been printed even in Irish, but I hope to shortly publish 
the original text of these, especially the Adventures of 
Leithin, which seems to belong to a strange and weird 
cycle of beast and bird-lore, now lost or almost lost, but 
of which we find hints here and there though we know 
nothing certain. 

Most of these pieces may be said to be in a true sense 
" folk-lore," seeing that they have almost all lingered 
more or less vividly in the memory of people who for the 
most part could neither read nor write. Some of them 
obviously come from Continental sources, though how they 
first found their way into Ireland is obscure, and the 
derivation of some of them cannot now be traced ; others, 
however, are of a purely native invention ; while a third 
class engrafts native traits and ideas upon foreign subject 

The stories in this collection cover a good deal of ground 
and present many various aspects of folk tradition and folk 
belief. Of native Saints we find legends concerning 
Patrick, Columcille, Deglan, Moling and Ciaran ; of 
foreign Saints we find legends of St. Peter, St. Paul and 
St. Martin; of unknown or mythical characters we find 
tales of Grainne Oigh, Friar Brian, The Old Woman 
of Beare, and Mulruana. Of other well-known names, 
Oisin and Oscar and Solomon appear. Curiously enough 


I have not chanced upon any folk-tale told about Saint 
Brig it, the " Mary of the Gael.'* There is, for some 
reason or other, a distinct predominance of Petrine stories 
among these legends. 

When we consider the collection as a whole, we find 
that its purely Irish aspect is apparent in many ways, 
and in none more than in the very characteristic dove- 
tailing of what is Pagan into what is Christian. But 
its omissions are even more distinctly Irish than its inclu- 

In most countries, for instance, the Devil is the great 
outstanding anthropomorphic conception added to the 
folk-lore of Europe by the introduction of Christianity ; 
and later the belief in Witches, who trafficked directly 
or indirectly with the Evil One, became extraordinary 
prevalent and powerful. Now the most striking fact 
about our collection is that the Devil personified rarely 
appears in it at all, and Witches never. The belief in 
Witches, and in Witches' Sabbaths, with which other 
nations were positively obsessed, and which gave rise to 
such hecatombs of unhappy victims in almost all the 
Protestant and in some of the Catholic countries in Europe, 
as well as in America, never found its way into native 
Ireland at all, or disturbed Gaelic sanity, although a few 
isolated instances occurred amongst the English settlers. 
The Highland Gaels, to whom the idea of witches was 
more familiar owing to their proximity to the Scottish 
Lowlands, which was one of the most witch-ridden 
countries in Europe, simply borrowed the English 
word for witch under the form " buitseach," and 


from that they coined the word " buitseachas " for 

The Irish, however, did not borrow even the name — 
they had never heard of the thing itself, and had naturally 
no name for a class of creatures with whom they had no 

It is true that the Evil Eye was known in Ireland, and 
I have found one or two prayers or charms against it ; x 
but so far as I have collected, I have not been able to find 
it made the basis of any story. 

In ancient times, however, there were creatures known 
in Ireland who appear to have had some of the character- 
istics of the Christian witches, but their conception is 
purely Pagan and owes nothing to Christianity. Their 
Irish name was await, and it was applicable to both sexes. 
In the old translation of the " Cath catharda " (the Irish 
version of Lucan's Pharsalia), Medea is called the chief 
amait or witch of the world. In the " Agallamh na 
Senorach " or Dialogue between St. Patrick on one side, 
and Oisin and Caoilte 2 on the other, we read of nine 
women amaits who were engaged in " amaidecht," and 
who used never allow a man or woman to escape them. 
" And they were not long there," says the thirteenth (?) 
century text," until they saw the nine black gloomy 
witches (amaits) coming to meet them ; and if the dead 
ever arose out of the ground the yells which they used to 
utter round them on all sides would have brought them 
forth [from their tombs] . And Patrick takes the holy water 

1 See " Religious Songs of Connacht," vol. II., p. 52. 

2 Pronounce Ussheen and Cweeltia. Oisfn is better known as 
Ossian in Scotland. 


and sprinkles it on the amaits, and they fled away from him 
until they reached Inis Guil, which is called the island 
of the shrine or the White Lake of Ceara. 1 And it was 
there they heard the last cry from them. And the people 
seated themselves on the sodded sward, and the King of 
Connacht spake then, 'that is the chasing of a good-cleric 
that thou hast given to the demons,' said he/ ' 

This word atnait, though lost in folk-speech, and never 
now used in the sense of witch, has nevertheless perpetu- 
ated itself in an extraordinary tradition in parts of Con- 
nacht. The appellation for the Fairy Palace, where the 
Good People or Tuatha De Danann dwell, is bruidhean 
(pronounced Breean with the b broad), and there is a 
belief that there is a denizen of the bruidhean called 
' amadan na bruidhne," which seems to mean the " fool 
of the palace " whose lightest touch is death. From the 
other creatures of the bruidhean one may escape scathe- 
less, but never from the " amadan." This '' amadan " I 
take to be a folk perversion or a diminutive of amait, and 
to have nothing at all to say to the word " amadan," " a 

The amait owes nothing to Christianity, but her equi- 
valent in modern folk-lore would rather be found in the 
story of " Conn among the goats," where the woman whom 

1 Now Loch Carra, in Co. Mayo. The bottom of this lake consists 
of white marl, which gives the water an extraordinary light green 
appearance ; hence it is called in old Irish documents Fionnloch 
Ceara, or the " white lake of Carra." The metrical Dinnsenchus, 
however, caimly ignoring this obvious physiological reason, evident 
to anyone who had ever examined the lake, gives a fantastic account 
of the white wings of angels, from which it says the water derived 
its name. 


all thought dead comes back from the grave, and kills her 
husband, or in the story of the Priest and Bishop, where 
the hanged woman comes back as a malevolent spirit to 
claim the priest ; or in some of the stories that Curtin 
collected around Dingle. 

It is quite true that there are many current tales or 
beliefs concerning more or less malignant old women who 
steal butter from their neighbours' churns by charms 
or exorcisms, who turn themselves into hares and suck the 
cows, and who are supposed to possess certain more or 
less supernatural powers. These old women, however, 
seldom or never figure in regular stories, nor have they 
given rise to a type or even to a common appellation. 
They are just known as " cailleacha " or hags. There is 
absolutely nothing in Irish folk-lore, so far as I am 
acquainted with it, to suggest the disgusting and obscene 
orgies of the witches' sabbaths, as we find them in other 
countries, or of incubi or succubi, or of intercourse with 
the devil, or of riding on broomsticks to keep appointments 
with the Evil One, or of conjuring up the dead, or even 
of producing wasting diseases in enemies, or making 
waxen or clay images of those whom they wished to 
injure. 1 

The Devil, too, in so far as he comes into Irish folk- 
lore, is a much less grotesque figure than the usual 
mediaeval conception of him, such as we see with 
horns and hooves in Albrecht Diirer's pictures. He 
is usually designated as the " Old Devil " or the 

1 I am not quite so certain about this last having never been prac- 
tised in Ireland, but I have certainly never been told any story about 
it, nor seen it mentioned in MSS. 


Aidhbherseoir, often contracted to Airseoir from the 
Latin Adversarius. He does not generally appear as 
roaming through the world seeking whom he may devour, 
but mostly keeps to his own abode in the Infernal Regions, 
where he must be sought. We meet him in both forms, 
as a wandering person and as king of the Lower Regions in 
my late friend's, Mr. Larminie's, very curious and inter- 
esting story of the woman who went to hell. He is not the 
popular or common character in our folk-lore that he is in 
Teutonic legend. He does not construct bridges, nor hold 
high festival on hill tops, and few or none of the curious 
freaks of nature as seen in rocks, chasms, and the like 
are attributed to him. The Devil's Bit and the Devil's 
Punch Bowl, so common in Anglo-Irish nomenclature, 
do not always correspond to the original Irish appella- 

When the survivors of the old Fianna, Oisin (or Ossian) , 
Caoilte and the rest, were told about Hell and the Devil 
by St. Patrick and his clergy, they could not, according to 
the Ossianic legends, comprehend it in the least, and the 
misunderstandings which the doctrine gave rise to were 
taken full advantage of by the composers of the Ossianic 
ballads. The idea of bringing the last great figure of 
Paganism, the warrior and poet Ossian, into contact with 
the first great Christian figure in Ireland, St. Patrick, 
was a brilliant one, and it gave birth to whole volumes 
of badinage and semi-comic wrangling in the popular 
ballads which told of the warrior and the cleric. These 
ballads used to be in great vogue at one time, and any 
seanchuidhe worthy of the name used to be able to repeat 


by heart many hundreds of lines of the dialogue between 
Patrick and Oisin. This is now nearly a thing of the past, 
but the poems exist in numberless manuscripts, and are 
not yet forgotten by the older Irish speakers, though the 
only specimen I have given in this volume is the Baptism 
of Oisin, and it is in prose. St. Patrick displays in places 
an excess of priestly rigour, but this is always done to set 
off the naivete of Oisin' s answers. 

i n-ipiteAnn ma bpiAti Aft Iaitti 

Aza <mi peAu rAirri "oo b|ionndX) ah c-ojt, 
ImceocAi-o cupA mA)t -o'nncij ah piAtin, 

-A^Uf CflACCAmAOIf «f« *6lA 50 fOll. 1 

But Oisin could not understand how Patrick's God could 
get the better of his Fianna, or why He should try to 
put them in hell at all. 

Were God and my son Oscar seen 

On Knocknaveen in combat long, 
And I saw my Oscar on the sod, 

It's then I'd say that God was strong. 

How is your God a better man 

(Or all your clan of clerics there) 
Than Finn, our Fenian chief, so great, 

So straight, so generous, so fair? 

The spirit of banter in which St. Patrick and the Church 
are treated, and which just stops short of irreverence, is, 
of course, a mediaeval and not a primitive trait. My 
friend, the late Mr. Nutt, thought that it is a trait more 

1 I wrote down this from the recitation of an old man near Monivea, 
Co. Gal way. I have not seen it in MS. Literally, " In hell of the 
pains in bondage is the gentle man (Fionn) who used to bestow the 
gold. You will go as the Fianna have gone, and let us talk about 
God yet awhile." 


characteristic of the twelfth than of any succeeding cen- 

It would be exceedingly easy to fill volumes with stories 
from the lives of Saints which exist either in old 
vellum or in paper MSS., but this has not been my aim. 
I have kept to actual folk survivals, and have drawn upon 
MSS. of Saints' lives only for the elucidation of the folk- 

Finally, I should say that after having collected Irish 
folk-lore for a quarter of a century, the amount of folk- 
stories which are wholly conditioned by Christianity or 
largely based upon Christian conceptions would be, in my 
opinion, about one story in four, or one story in five. 
There still remains the fascinating problem of their 
sources. If foreign, what was their origin and who 
brought them here ; if native, who invented them, and 
when, and with what purpose ? I have prefixed a few 
notes to each of the following stories which possibly 
may not be wholly uninteresting to the reader who has 
an eye for these problems. 


St. Patrick and Crom Dubh 
Mary's Weia ... 

how covetousness came into the church 

Knock Mueruana 

The Stone of Truth ... 

The Adventures of Leithin 

The Comparison as to Ages 

The Death of Bearachan 

Story of Soeomon 

Christmas Aems 

The Buriae of Jesus ... 

Saint Peter 

Legends of St. Degean 

St. Paue's Vision 

Oscar of the Feaie 

Oisin in Eephin 

The Priest who went to do Penance 

The Friars of Ureaur 


The Minister and the Gossoon 

The Keening of the Three Marys ... 

The Farmer's Son and the Bishop ... 

Shaun the Tinker 

Mary and St. Joseph and the Cherry Tree 




























The Student who eeft Coeeege 

The Heep of God in the Road 

The Minister's Son ... 

The Oed Woman of Be are 

The Oed Hag of Dingee 

The Poem of the Tor... 

coeumcieee and hls brother dobhran 

Bruadar and Smith and Geinn 

Friar Brian 

How the First Cat was Created 

God spare you your Heaeth... 

Teig O'Kane and the Corpse... 

Tomaus O'Cahan and the Ghost 

Prayer after Tobacco 

The Buideach, The Tinker, and The Beack 

The Great Worm of the Shannon ... 

The Poor Widow and Grania Oi 

The Gambeer of the Branch... 

The Beetee, The Dhardheee, and The Prui 

The Lady of the Aems 

St. Patrick and his Garron ... 

How Saint Moving got his Name 



. 166 


. 173 


. 178 


. 183 


. 192 


. 195 


. 198 


. 206 


. 210 


. 214 


. 217 


. 219 


. 238 

. 243 

. Donkey 

• 247 

. 258 


. 264 


. 273 




. 280 


. 283 

. 292 





This legend, told by Michael Mac Ruaidhri of Bally castle, 
Co. Mayo, is evidently a confused reminiscence of Crom 
Cruach, the great pagan idol which was overthrown by 
St. Patrick. 1 Though Crom appears as a man in this story, 
yet the remark that the people thought he was the lord of 
light and darkness and of the seasons is evidently due 
to his once supposed Godhead. The fire, too, which he 
is said to have kept burning may be the reminiscence of a 
sacrificial fire. 

From a letter written to Sir Samuel Ferguson 2 by the late 
Brian O'Looney, concerning Mount Callan in the Co. Clare, 
we see that this legend of Crom was widely circulated. 
' Domnach Lunasa or Lammas Sunday," says O'Looney, 
' the first Sunday of the month of August was the first 
' fruits' day, and a great day on Buaile-na-greine. On 
' Lammas Sunday, called Domnach Crom Dubh, and 
' anglicised Garland Sunday, every householder was sup- 
' posed to feast his family and household on the first 
1 fruits, and the farmer who failed to provide his people 

1 See my " Literary History of Ireland," pp. 84-88. Also Stokes 
edition of the " Tripartite Life," p. 92. 

2 See the paper read by Sir Samuel before the Royai Irish 
Academy, April 28, 1873. 


" with new potatoes, new bacon and white cabbage on that 
" day was called a felemuir gaoilhe, or wind farmer ; and if 
" a man dug new potatoes before Crom Dubh's day he 

" was considered a needy man The 

" assemblage of this day was called comthineol Chrnim 
" Dhuibh, or the congregation or gathering of Crom Dubh, 
" and the day is called from him Domnach Chrom Dubh, 
" or Crom Dubh's Sunday, now called Garland Sunday by 
" the English-speaking portion of the people of the sur- 
" rounding districts. This name is supposed to have been 
" derived from the practise of strewing garlands of flowers 
" on the festive mound [or Mount Callan] on this day, as 
" homage to Crom Dubh — hence the name Garland Sunday. 
" Assuredly I saw blossoms and flowers deposited upon 
" it on the first Sunday of August, 1844, and put some upon 
" it myself, as I saw done by those who were with me. 

" If you ask me who Crom Dubh was, I can only tell you 
" I asked the question myself on the spot. I was told that 
" Crom was a god and that Dubh or Dua meant a sacrifice, 
" which in combination made Crom Dubh, or Crom Dua, 
" that is, Crom's Sacrifice ; and this Sunday was set apart 
" for the feast and commemoration of this Crom Dubh, 
" whoever he may have been." 

It is interesting to find OXooney's old-time experiences 
in Co. Clare so far borne out by this legend from North 

The name Teideach given to Crom's son, is, as Mr. Lloyd 
acutely points out, founded upon a misunderstanding 
of the name of the hole which must have been " poll an 
t seidte," the puffing or blowing hole. Downpatrick, where 
these events are supposed to have taken place, is at the ex- 
treme northern extremity of Tyrawley, Co. Mayo, and all 
the other places are in its neighbourhood. 

For the leanndn sidhe, or fairy sweetheart (often supposed 
to be the muse of the poets), see O' Kearney's " Feis tighe 
Chonain." Oss. Soc. Publ. vol. II., pp. 80-103. For the 
Irish of this story, see " Lub na Caillighe," p. 33. 



Before St. Patrick came to Ireland there lived a chief- 
tain in the Lower Country 1 in Co. Mayo, and his name 
was Crom Dubh. Crom Dubh lived beside the sea in 
a place which they now call Dun Patrick, or Downpatrick, 
and the name which the site of his house is called by is 
Dun Briste, or Broken Fort. My story will tell why it 
was called Dun Briste. 

It was well and it was not ill, brother of my heart ! Crom 
Dubh was one of the worst men that could be found, but 
as he was a chieftain over the people of that country he 
had everything his own way ; and that was the bad way, 
for he was an evil-intentioned, virulent, cynical, 2 obstinate 
man, with desire to be avenged on every one who did not 
please him. He had two sons, Teideach and Clonnach, 
and there is a big hollow going in under the road at Gleann 
Lasaire, and the name of this hollow in Poll a' Teidigh 
or Teideach's hole, for it got its name from Crom Dubh's 
son, and the name of this hole is on the mouth of [i.e. t used 
by] English-speaking people, though they do not know the 
meaning of it. Nobody knows how far this hole is 
going back under the glen, but it is said by the old Irish 
speakers that Teideach used to go every day in his little 
floating curragh into this hole under the glen, and that this 
is the reason it was called Teideach's Hole. 

It was well, my dear. To continue the story, Crom 

1 Lower means " northern." It means round the Lagan, Creevagh 
and Ballycastle. 

2 Literally " doggish." The meaning is rather " snarling " or 
" fierce " than cynical. 


Dubh's two sons were worse than himself, and that leaves 
them bad enough ! Crom Dubh had two hounds of 
dogs and their names were Coinn Iotair and Saidhthe 
Suaraighe, 1 and if ever there were [wicked] mastiffs 
these two dogs were they. He had them tied to the two 
jaws of the door, in order to loose them and set them to 
attack people according as they might come that way ; 
and, to go further, he had a big fire kindled on the brink 
of the cliff so that any one who might escape from the 
hounds he might throw into the fire ; and to make a long 
story short, the fame of Crom Dubh and his two sons, 
and his two mastiffs, went far and wide, for their evil- 
doing ; and the people were so terrified at his name, not 
to speak of himself, that they used to hide their faces in 
their bosoms when they used to hear it mentioned in their 
ears, and the people were so much afraid of him that if 
they heard the bark of a dog they would go hiding in the 
dwellings that they had underground, to take refuge in, 
to defend themselves from Crom Dubh and his mastiffs. 

It is said that there was a linnaun shee 2 or fairy sweetheart 
walking with Crom Dubh, and giving him knowledge 
according as he used to require it. In place of his inclining 
to what was good as he was growing in age, the way he 
went on was to be growing in badness every day, and the 
wind was not quicker than he, for he was as nimble as a 
March hare. When he used to go out about the country 
he used to send his two sons and his two mastiffs before 
him, and they announcing to the people according as 

1 Pronounced like " Cunn eetir " and " sy-ha soory " — hound of 
rage and bitch of wickedness ? 

2 Linnaun shee, a fairy sweetheart. ; in Irish spelt " leannan 



they proceeded, that Crom Dubh was coming to collect 
his standing rent, and bidding them to have it ready for 
him. Crom Dubh used to come after them, and his 
trickster (?) along with him, and he drawing after him a 
sort of yoke like a wheelless sliding car, and according 
as he used to get his standing-rent it used to be thrown 
into the car, and every one had to pay according to his 
ability. Anyone who would refuse, he used to be brought 
next day before Crom Dubh, as he sat beside the fire, 
and Crom used to pass judgment upon him, and after the 
judgment the man used to be thrown into the fire. Many 
a plan and scheme were hatched against Crom Dubh to 
put him out of the world, but he overcame them all, for 
he had too much wizardry from the [fairy] sweetheart. 

Crom Dubh was continuing his evil deeds for many 
years, and according as the story about him remains 
living and told from person to person, they say that he was 
a native of hell in the skin of a biped, and through the horror 
that the people of the country had for him they would 
have given all that ever they saw if only Crom Dubh and 
his company could have been put-an-end-to ; but there 
was no help for them in that, since he and his company 
had the power, and they had to endure bitter persecution 
for years, and for many years, and every year it was 
getting worse ; and they without any hope of relief because 
they had no knowledge of God or Mary or of anything else 
which concerned heaven. For that reason they could not 
put trust in any person beyond Crom Dubh, because they 
thought, bad as he was, that it was he who was giving 
them the light of the day, the darkness of the night, and 
the change of seasons. 


It was well, brother of my heart. During this time 
St. Patrick was going throughout Ireland, working dili- 
gently and baptizing many people. On he went until 
he came to Fo-choill or Foghill ; and at that time and for 
long afterwards there were nothing but woods that grew 
in that place, but there is neither branch nor tree there 
now. However, to pursue the story, St. Patrick began 
explaining to the Pagans about the light and glory of the 
heavens. Some of them gave ear to him, but the most 
of them paid him no attention. After he had taken all 
those who listened to him to the place which was called 
the Well of the Branch to baptize them, and when he had 
them baptized, the people called the well Tobar Phadraig, 
or Patrick's Well, and that is there ever since. 

When these Pagans got the seal of Christ on their fore- 
head, and knowledge of the Holy Trinity, they began 
telling St. Patrick about the doings of Crom Dubh and his 
evil ways, and they besought him if he had any power 
from the All-mighty Father to chastise Crom Dubh, 
rightly or wrongly, or to give him the Christian faith if 
it were possible. 

It was well, brother, St. Patrick passed on over through 
Traigh Leacan, up Beal Traghadh, down Craobhach, and 
down under the Logan, the name that was on Crom 
Dubh's place before St. Patrick came. When St. Patrick 
reached the Logan, which is near the present Bally- 
castle, he was within a quarter of a mile of Crom Dubh's 
house, and at the same time Crom Dubh and Teideach 
his son were trying a bout of wrestling with one another, 
while Saidhthe Suaraighe was stretched out on the ground 
from ear to tail. With the squeezing they were giving 


one another they never observed St. Patrick making 
for them until Saidhthe Suaraighe put a howling bark 
out of her, and with that the pair looked behind them and 
they saw St. Patrick and his defensive company with 
him, making for them ; and in the twinkling of an eye 
the two rushed forward, clapping their hands and setting 
Saidhthe Suaraighe at them and encouraging her. 

With that Teideach put his fore finger into his mouth 
and let a whistle calling for Coinn Iotair, for she was at 
that same time hunting with Clonnach on the top of Glen 
Lasaire, and Glen Lasaire is nearly two miles from Dun 
Phadraig, but she was not as long as while you'd be saying 
De' raisias [Deo Gratias] coming from Glen Lasaire when 
she heard the sound of the whistle. They urged the two 
bitches against St. Patrick, and at the same time they did 
not know what sort of man St. Patrick was or where he 
came from. 

The two bitches made for him and coals of fire out of 
their mouths, and a blue venemous light burning in their 
eyes, with the dint of venom and wickedness, but just as 
they were going to seize St. Patrick he cut [marked] a ring 
round about him with the crozier which he had in his 
hand, and before the dogs reached the verge of the ring 
St. Patrick spoke as follows : — 

A lock on thy claws, a lock on thy tooth, 

A lock on Coinn Iotair of the fury. 

A lock on the son and on the daughter of Saidhthe Suaraighe. 

A lock quickly, quickly on you. 

Before St. Patrick began to utter these words there 
was a froth of foam round their mouths, and their hair 
was standing up as strong as harrow-pins with their fury, 


but after this as they came nearer to St. Patrick they 
began to lay down their ears and wag their tails. And 
when Crom Dubh saw that, he had like to faint, because he 
knew when they laid down their ears that they would not 
do any hurt to him they were attacking. The moment 
they reached St. Patrick they began jumping up upon 
him and making friendly with him. They licked both 
his feet from the top of his great toe 1 to the butt of his 
ankle, and that affection [thus manifesting itself] is 
amongst dogs from that day to this. St. Patrick began 
to stroke them with his hand and he went on making 
towards Crom Dubh, with the dogs walking at his heels. 
Crom Dubh ran until he came to the fire and he stood up 
beside the fire, so that he might throw St. Patrick 
into it when he should come as far as it. But as St. 
Patrick knew the strength of the fire beforehand he lifted 
a stone in his hand, signed the sign of the cross on the 
stone, and flung the stone so as to throw it into the middle 
of the flames, and on the moment the fire went down to the 
lowest depths of the ground, in such a way that the hole 
is there yet to be seen, from that day to this, and it is called 
Poll na Sean-tuine, the hole of the old fire (?), and when 
the tide fills, the water comes in to the bottom of the hole, 
and it would draw " deaf cows out of woods " — the 
noise that comes out of the hole when the tide is coming 

It was well, company 2 of the world ; when Crom Dubh 
saw that the fire had departed out of sight, and that the dogs 
had failed him and given him no help (a thing they had 

1 Rather " the space between the toes." 

2 A variant of "it was well, rny dear." 


never done before), he himself and Teideach struck out 
like a blast of March wind until they reached the house, 
and St. Patrick came after them. They had not far to 
go, for the fire was near the house. When St. Patrick 
approached it he began to talk aloud with Crom Dubh, 
and he did his best to change him to a good state of grace, 
but it failed him to put the seal of Christ on his forehead, 
for he would not give any ear to St. Patrick's words. 

Now there was no trick of deviltry, druidism, witch- 
craft, or black art in his heart, which he did not work for 
all he was able, trying to gain the victory over St. Pat- 
rick, but it was all no use for him, for the words of God 
were more powerful than the deviltry of the fairy] 

With the dint of the fury that was on Crom Dubh and 
on Teideach his son, they began snapping and grinding 
their teeth, and so outrageous was their fury that St. 
Patrick gave a blow of his crozier to the cliff under the 
base of the gable of the house, and he separated that much 
of the cliff from the cliffs on the mainland, and that is to 
be seen there to-day just as well as the first day, and that 
is the cliff that is called Dun Briste or Broken Fort. 

To pursue the story. All that much of the cliff is a good 
many yards out in the sea from the cliff on the mainland, 
so Crom Dubh and his son had to remain there until 
the midges and the scaldcrows had eaten the flesh off their 
bones. And that is the death that Crom Dubh got, and 
that is the second man that midges ate, 1 and our ancient 
shanachies say that the first man that midges ate was Judas 

1 See the story of Mary's Well, p. 17. 


after he had hanged himself ; and that is the cause why the 
bite of the midges is so sharp as it is. 

To pursue the story still further. When Clonnach saw 
what had happened to his father he took fright, and he 
was terrified of St. Patrick, and he began burning the 
mountain until he had all that side of the land set on fire. 
So violently did the mountains take fire on each side of 
him that himself could not escape, and they say that he 
himself was burned to a lump amongst them. 

St. Patrick returned back to Fochoill and round 
through Baile na Pairce, the Town of the Field, and Bein 
Buidhe, the Yellow Ben, and back to Clochar. The 
people gathered in multitudes from every side doing 
honourable homage to St. Patrick, and the pride of the 
world on them that an end had been made of Crom Dubh. 

There was a well near and handy, and he brought the 
great multitude round about the well, and he never left 
mother's son or man's daughter without setting on their 
faces the wave of baptism and the seal of Christ on their 
foreheads. They washed and scoured the walls of the well, 
and all round about it, and they got forked branches and 
limbs of trees and bound white and blue ribbons on them, 
and set them round about the well, and every one of them 
bowed down on his knees saying their prayers of thank- 
fulness to God, and as an entertainment for St. Patrick 
on account of his having put an end to the sway of Crom 

After making an end of offering up their prayers every 
man of them drank three sups of water out of the well, 
and there is not a year from that out that the people 
used not to make a turns or pilgrimage to the well, on the 


anniversary of that day ; and that day is the last Sunday 
of the seventh month, and the name the Irish speakers 
call the month by in that place is the month of Lughnas 
[August] and the name of the Sunday is Crom Dubh's 
Sunday, but, the name that the English speakers call 
the Sunday by, is Garland Sunday. There is never a 
year from that to this that there does not be a meeting 
in Cill Chuimin, for that is the place where the well is. 
They come far and near to make a pilgrimage to the well ; 
and a number of other people go there too, to amuse 
themselves and drink and spend. And I believe that the 
most of that rakish lot go there making a mock of the 
Christian Irish-speakers who are offering up their prayers 
to their holy patron Patrick, high head of their religion. 

Cuimin's well is the name of this well, for its name was 
changed during the time of Saint Cuimin on account of 
all the miraculous things he did there, and he is buried 
within a perch of the well in Cill Chuimin. 

There does be a gathering on the same Sunday at 
Dun Padraig or Downpatrick at the well which is called 
Tobar Brighde or Briget's Well beside Cill Brighde, and 
close to Dun Briste ; but, love of my heart, since the 
English jargon began a short time ago in that place the 
old Christian custom of the Christians is almost utterly 
gone off. 

There now ye have it as I got it, and if ye don't like it 
add to it your complaints. 1 

1 Apparently tell it with your complaint added to it. 




The following story I got from Proinsias O'Conchubhaii 
when he was in Athlone about fifteen years ago, and he heard 
it from a woman who herself came from Ballintubber, Co. 
Mayo. This Ballintubber is not to be confounded with 
the Roscommon place of the same name, which is called in 
Irish Baile-an tobair Ui Chonchubhair, or O'Conor's 
Ballintubber. The Mayo Ballintubber is celebrated for its 
splendid Abbey, founded by one of the Stauntons, a tribe 
who took the name of Mac a mhilidh (Mac-a-Veely or 
Mac Evilly) in Irish. The prophesy is current in Mayo 
that when the abbey is re-roofed Ireland will be free. My 
friend, Colonel Maurice Moore, told me that when he was 
a young boy he often wondered why the people did not roof 
the abbey, and so free Ireland without any more trouble. 
The tomb of the notorious Shaun na Sagart, the priest- 
hunter, which is not far away from it, is still pointed out 
by the people. It is probably he who is the " spy " in the 
following story, although his name is not mentioned. He 
belonged to a class who appear to have made it their business 
to track down priests and friars, which is alluded to in the 
following lines : 

It is no use for me to be saying it, 

Seeing your kinship with Donough-of-the-priest 

And with Owen-of-the-cards his father, 

With the people who used to cut off heads 

To put them into leather bags, 

To bring them down with them to the ci y, 

And to bring home the gold they got for them, 

For sustenance for wives and children. 


It will be noticed that it was Mary Mother who put the 
curing of the Blind into this well, and Owen O Duffy, the 
poet, says of her that she is 

A woman who put a hedge round every country. 

A woman to whom right inclines. 

A woman greatest in strength and power, 

A woman softest (i.e., most generous) about red gold. 

A woman by whom is quenched the anger of the king. 

A woman who gives sight to the blind. 

For the Irish text of this story, see " Religious Songs of 
Connacht," vol. I., p. ill. 

The abbey where the holy well broke out was, according 
to some, founded by Cathal O Conor in 1216, for the Augus- 
tinians, and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. 


Long ago there was a blessed well in Ballintubber (i.e., 
town of the well) , in the county Mayo. There was once a 
monastery in the place where the well is now, and it was 
on the spot where stood the altar of the monastery that 
the well broke out. The monastery was on the side of 
a hill, but when Cromwell and his band of destroyers 
came to this country, they overthrew the monastery, and 
never left stone on top of stone in the altar that they did 
not throw down. 

A year from the day that they threw down the altar — 
that was Lady Day in spring — the well broke out on the 
site of the altar, and it is a wonderful thing to say, that 
there was not one drop of water in the stream that was at 
the foot of the hill from the day that the well broke out. 

There was a poor friar going the road the same day, and 
he went out of his way to say a prayer upon the site of the 


blessed altar, and there was great wonder on him when he 
saw a fine well in its place. He fell on his knees and began 
to say his paternoster, when he heard a voice saying : 
" Put off your brogues, you are upon blessed ground, 
you are on the brink of Mary's Well, and there is the 
curing of thousands of blind in it ; there shall be a person 
cured by the water of that well for every person who 
heard mass in front of the altar that was in the place 
where the well is now, if they be dipped three times in 
it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 

When the friar had his prayers said, he looked up and 
saw a large white dove upon a fir tree near him. It was 
the dove who was speaking. The friar was dressed in 
faise clothes, because there was a price on his head, as 
great as would be on the head of a wild-dog [wolf J. 

At any rate, he proclaimed the story to the people of the 
little village, and it was not long till it went out through 
the country. It was a poor place, and the people in it had 
nothing [to live in] but huts, and these filled with smoke. 
On that account there were a great many weak-eyed people 
amongst them. With the dawn, on the next day, there 
were above forty people at Mary's Well, and there was 
never man nor woman of them but came back with good 

The fame of Mary's Well went through the country, and 
it was not long till there were pilgrims from every county 
coming to it, and nobody went back without being cured ; 
and at the end of a little time even people from other 
countries used to be coming to it 

There was an unbeliever living near Mary's Well. It 


was a gentleman he was, and he did not believe in the 
cure. He said there was nothing in it but pishtrogues 
(charms), and to make a mock of the people he brought 
a blind ass, that he had, to the well, and he dipped its 
head under the water. The ass got its sight, but the 
scoffer was brought home as blind as the sole of your 

At the end of a year it so happened that there was a 
priest working as a gardener with the gentleman who was 
blind. The priest was dressed like a workman, and 
nobody at all knew that it was a priest who was in it. 
One day the gentleman was sickly, and he asked his 
servant to take him out into the garden. When he came 
to the place where the priest was working he sat down. 
" Isn't it a great pity," says he, " that I cannot see my 
fine garden ? " 

The gardener took compassion on him, and said, " I 
know where there is a man who would cure you, but there 
is a price on his head on account of his religion." 

" I give my word that I'll do no spying on him, and I'll 
pay him well for his trouble," said the gentleman. 

" But perhaps you would not like to go through the 
mode of curing that he has," says the gardener. 

" I don't care what mode he has, if he gives me my 
sight," said the gentleman. 

Now, the gentleman had an evil character, because he 
betrayed a number of priests before that. Bingham was 
the name that was on him. However, the priest took 
courage and said, " Let your coach be ready on to-morrow 
morning, and I will drive you to the place of the cure ; 
neither coachman nor anyone else may be present but 


myself, and do not tell to anyone at all where you are 
going, or give anyone a knowledge of what is your busi- 

On the morning of the next day Bingham's coach was 
ready, and he himself got into it, with the gardener 
driving him. " Do you remain at home this time," 
says he to the coachman, " and the gardener will drive 
me." The coachman was a villain, and there was 
jealousy on him. He conceived the idea of watching the 
coach to see what way they were to go. His blessed 
vestments were on the priest, inside of his other clothes. 
When they came to Mary's Well the priest said to him, 
" I am going to get back your sight for you in the place 
where you lost it." Then he dipped him three times in 
the well, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Spirit, and his sight came to him as well as ever it 

" I'll give you a hundred pounds," said Bingham, " as 
soon as I go home." 

The coachman was watching, and as soon as he saw the 
priest in his blessed vestments, he went to the people of the 
law, and betrayed the priest. He was taken and hanged, 
without judge, without judgment. The man who was 
after getting back his sight could have saved the priest, 
but he did not speak a word in his behalf. 

About a month after this another priest came to Bing- 
ham, and he dressed like a gardener, and he asked work 
of Bingham, and got it from him ; but he was not long 
in his service until an evil thing happened to Bingham. 
He went out one day walking through his fields, and there 


met him a good-looking girl, the daughter of a poor man, 
and he assaulted her and left her half dead. The girl 
had three brothers, and they took an oath that they would 
kill him as soon as they could get hold of him. They 
had not long to wait. They caught him in the same 
place where he assaulted the girl, and hanged him on a 
tree, and left him there hanging. 

On the morning of the next day millions of flies were 
gathered like a great hill round about the tree, and 
nobody could go near it on account of the foul smell 
that was round the place, and anyone who would go near 
it the midges would blind them. 

Bingham's wife and son offered a hundred pounds to 
anyone who would bring out the body. A good many 
people made an effort to do that, but they were not able. 
They got dust to shake on the flies, and boughs of trees to 
beat them with, but they were not able to scatter them, nor 
to go as far as the tree. The foul smell was getting worse, 
and the neighbours were afraid that the flies and noisome 
corpse would bring a plague upon them. 

The second priest was at this time a gardener with 
Bingham, but the people of the house did not know that 
it was a priest who was in it, for if the people of the law T or 
the spies knew, they would take and hang him. The 
Catholics went to Bingham's wife and told her that they 
knew a man who would banish the flies. " Bring him 
to me," said she, " and if he is able to banish the flies, 
that is not the reward he'll get, but seven times as much." 

" But," said they, " if the people of the law knew, they 
would take him and hang him, as they hung the man who 
got back the sight of his eyes for him before." " But," 



said she, " could not he banish the flies without the know- 
ledge of the people of the law ? " 

1 We don't know," said they, " until we take counsel 
with him." 

That night they took counsel with the priest and told 
him what Bingham's wife said. 

" I have only an earthly life to lose," said the priest, 
" and I shall give it up for the sake of the poor people, 
for there will be a plague in the country unless I banish the 
flies. On to-morrow morning I shall make an attempt 
to banish them in the name of God, and I have hope 
and confidence in God that he will save me from my 
enemies. Go to the lady now, and tell her that I shall be 
near the tree at sunrise to-morrow morning, and tell her 
to have men ready to put the corpse in the grave." 

They went to the lady and told her all the priest 

" If it succeeds with him," said she, " I shall have the 
reward ready for him, and I shall order seven men to be 

The priest spent that night in prayer, and half an hour 
before sunrise he went to the place where his blessed vest- 
ments were hidden ; he put these on, and with a cross in 
one hand, and with holy-water in the other, he went to 
the place where were the flies. He then began reading out 
of his book and scattering holy- water on the flies, in the 
name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The 
hill of flies rose, and flew up into the air, and made the 
heaven as dark as night. The people did not know 
where they went, but at the end of half an hour there was 
not one of them to be seen 


There was great joy on the people, but it was not 
long till they saw the spy coming, and they called to the 
priest to run away as quick as it was in him to run. The 
priest gave to the butts (took to his heels), and the spy 
followed him, and a knife in each hand with him. When 
he was not able to come up with the priest he flung the 
knife after him. As the knife was flying out past the 
priest's shoulder he put up his left hand and caught it, 
and without ever looking behind him he flung it back. 
It struck the man and went through his heart, so that 
he fell dead and the priest went free. 

The people got the body of Bingham and buried it in 
the grave, but when they went to bury the body of the 
spy they found thousands of rats round about it, and there 
was not a morsel of flesh on his bones that they had not 
eaten. They would not stir from the body, and the 
people were not able to rout them away, so that they had 
to leave the bones over-ground. 

The priest hid away his blessed vestments and was 
working in the garden when Bingham's wife sent for him, 
and told him to take the reward that was for banishing the 
flies, and to give it to the man who banished them, if 
he knew him. 

" I do know him, and he told me to bring him the 
reward to-night, because he has the intention of leaving 
the country before the law-people hang him." 

" Here it is for you," said she, as she handed him 
a purse of gold. 

On the morning of the next day the priest went to the 
brink of the sea, and found a ship that was going to 
France. He went on board, and as soon as he had left 


the harbour he put his priest's-clothes on him, and gave 
thanks to God for bringing him safe. We do not know 
what happened to him from that out. 

After that, blind and sore-eyed people used to be 
coming to Mary's Well, and not a person of them ever 
returned without being cured. But there never yet was 
anything good in this country that was not spoilt by some- 
body, and the well was spoilt in this way. 

There was a girl in Ballintubber and she was about to be 
married, when there came a half-blind old woman to her 
asking alms in the honour of God and Mary. 

" I've nothing to give to an old blind-thing of a hag, 
it's bothered with them I am," said the girl. 

" That the marriage ring may never go on you until 
you're as blind as myself," says the old woman. 

Next day, in the morning, the young girl's eyes were 
sore, and the morning after that she was nearly blind, 
and the neighbours said to her that she ought to go to 
Mary's Well. 

In the morning, early, she rose up and went to the 
well, but what should she see at it but the old woman 
who asked the alms of her, sitting on the brink, combing 
her head over the blessed well. 

" Destruction on you, you nasty hag, is it dirtying 
Mary's Well you are ? " said the girl. " Get out of that 
or I'll break your neck." 

" You have no honour nor regard for God or Mary, you 
refused to give alms in honour of them, and for that 
reason you shall not dip yourself in the well." 

The girl caught a hold of the hag trying to pull her 


from the well, and with the dragging that was between 
them, the two of them fell into the well and were 

From that day to this there has been no cure in the 




I heard this story from a workman of the late Mr. Reding- 
ton Roche, of Rye Hill (in Irish, Druim an tseagail) near 
Monivea, Co. Galway. It was in Irish prose, but it re- 
minded me so strongly of those strange semi-comic medi- 
seval moralities common at an early date to most European 
languages — such pieces as Goethe has imitated in his poem 
of " St. Peter and the Horse Shoe "■ — that I could not 
resist the temptation to turn it into rhyme. I have heard 
a story something like this in the County Tipperary, only 
that it was told in English. This story is the reason (I 
think the narrator added) of the well-known proverbial 
rann : 

Four clerks who are not covetous 

Four Frenchmen who are not yellow, 

Four shoemakers who are not liars, 

Those are a dozen who are not in the country. 

More than one piece of both English and French literature 
founded upon the same motif as this story will occur to the 
reader. The original will be found at p. 161 of " The 
Religious Songs of Connacht," vol I. 


As once our Saviour and St. Peter 
Were walking over the hills together, 
In a lonesome place that was by the sea, 
Beside the border of Galilee, 
Just as the sun to set began 
Whom should they meet but a poor old man 


His coat was ragged, his hat was torn, 

He seemed inost wretched and forlorn, 

Penury stared in his haggard eye 

And he asked an alms as they passed him by. 

Peter had only a copper or two, 
So he looked to see what the Lord would do. 
The man was trembling — it seemed to him — 
With hunger and cold in every limb. 
But, nevertheless, our Lord looked grave, 
He turned away and he nothing gave. 
And Peter was vexed awhile at that 
And wondered what our Lord was at, 
Because he had thought him much too good 
To ever refuse a man for food. 
But though he wondered he nothing said, 
Nor asked the cause, for he was afraid. 

It happened that the following day 
They both returned that very way, 
And whom should they meet where "the man had been 
But a highway robber gaunt and lean ! 
And in his belt a naked sword — 
For an alms he, too, besought the Lord. 
" He's a fool," thought Peter, " to cross us thus, 
He won't get anything from us." 
But Peter was seized with such surprise 
He scarcely could believe his eyes, 
When he saw the Master, without a word, 
Give to the man who had the sword. 

After the man was gone again 
His wonder Peter could not restrain 
But turning to our Saviour said : 
" Master, the man who asked for bread, 
The poor old man of yesterday, 
Why did you turn from him away ? 
But to this robber, this shameless thief, 
Give, when he asked you for relief. 
I thought it most strange for you to do : 
We needn't have feared him, we were two. 
I have a sword here, as you see, 
And could have used it as well as he ; 
And I am taller by a span, 
For he was only a little man." 

" Peter," said the Lord, " you see 
Things but as they seem to be. 
Look within and see behind, 
Know the heart and read the mind, 
'Tis not long before you know 
Why it was I acted so." 


After this it chanced one day 
Our Lord and Peter went astray. 
Wandering on a mountain wide, 
Nothing but waste on every side. 
Worn with hunger, faint with thirst, 
Peter followed, the Lord went first. 
Then began a heavy rain, 
Lightning gleamed and gleamed again, 
Another deluge poured from heaven, 
The slanting hail swept tempest-driven. 
Then when fainting, frozen, spent, 
A man came towards them through the bent. 
And Peter trembled with cold and fright, 
When he knew again the robber wight. 
But the robber brought them to his cave, 
And what he had he freely gave. 
He brought them wine, he gave them bread. 
He strewed them rushes for a bed, 
He lent them both a clean attire 
And dried their clothes before the fire, 
And when they rose the following day 
He gave them victuals for the way, 
And never left them till he showed 
And put them on the straightest road. 

" The Master was right," thought Peter then, 
" The robber is better than better men. 
" There's many an honest man," thought he, 
" Who never did as much for me." 

They had not left the robber's ground 
Above an hour, when, lo, they found 
A man upon the mountain track 
Lying dead upon his back. 
And Peter soon, with much surprise, 
The beggarman did recognize. 
" Ochone ! " thought Peter, " we had no right 
To refuse him alms the other night. 
He's dead from the cold and want of food, 
And we're partly guilty of his blood." 
" Peter," said our Lord, " go now 
Feel his pockets and let us know 
What he has within his coat." 
Peter turned them inside out, 
And found within the lining plenty 
Of silver coins, and of gold ones twenty. 
" My Lord," said Peter, " now I know 
Why it was you acted so. 
Whatever you say or do with men, 
I never will think you wrong again." 
" Peter," said our Saviour, take 
And throw those coins in yonder lake, 


That none may fish them up again, 
For money is often the curse of men." 

Peter gathered the coins together, 
And crossed to the lake through bog and heather. 
But he thought in his mind " It's a real sin 
To be flinging this lovely money in. 
We're often hungry, we're often cold, 
And money is money — I'll keep the gold 
To spend on the Master, he needs the pelf, 
For he's very neglectful of himself." 
Then down with a splash does Peter throw 
The silver coins to the lake below, 
And hopes our Lord from the splash would think 
He had thrown the whole from off the brink. 
And then before our Lord he stood 
And looked as innocent as he could. 

Our Lord said : " Peter, regard your soul ; 
Are you sure you have now thrown in the whole ? " 
" Yes, all," said Peter, " is gone below, 
But a few gold pieces I wouldn't throw, 
vSince I thought we might find them very good 
For a sup to drink, or a bite of food. 
Because our own are nearly out, 
And they're inconvenient to do without. 
But, if you wish it, of course I'll go 
And fling the rest of the lot below." 

" Ah, Peter, Peter," said our Lord, 
" You should have obeyed me at my word. 
For a greedy man you are I see, 
And a greedy man you will ever be ; 
A covetous man you are of gain, 
And a covetous man you will remain." 

So that's the reason, as I've been told, 
All clergy are since so fond of gold. 




This story was told by my friend, Mr. Peter McGinley, 
who printed it in 1897 in the " Gaelic Journal " of that year. 
He told rne that though the story came from the Irish 
speaking part of the country it was in English it was first 
repeated to him when he was a young boy, and he retold 
it in Irish, without any change in the story itself. He says 
that he feels sure it is just as he heard it. The story comes 
from Gleann Domhain, which is near Gartan, in Donegal, 
celebrated as the birthplace of Colmcille, and Cnoc Mhaoil- 
ruandha is near at hand, and the lake is a little below it. 
The proverb, "as I have burned the candle I'll burn the 
inch," does not, he says, always signify impenitence, but 
means rather to hold out in any course, good or evil, until 
the last. The name Maolruanadha, which I have shortened 
into Mulruana, is variously anglicised Mulroney and 
Moroney. This story may remind the reader a little of 
Lewis's \ Monk." 


On this side of Glen Domhain, there is a little hill 
whose name is Mulroney 's Hill, and this is the reason 
why it was given that name. 

In old times there was a man living in a little house 
on the side of the hill, and Mulruana was his name. 
He was a pious holy man, and hated the world's vanities 


so much that he became a hermit, and he was always alone 
in that house, without anyone in his neighbourhood. He 
used to be always praying and subduing himself. He used 
to drink nothing but water, and used to eat nothing but 
berries and the wild roots which he used to get in the 
mountains and throughout the glens. His fame and 
reputation were going through the country for the holy 
earnest life that he was living. 

However, great jealousy seized the Adversary at the 
piety of this man, and he sent many evil spirits to put 
temptations on him. But on account of all his prayers 
and piety it failed those evil-spirits to get the victory over 
him, so that they all returned back to hell with the report 
of the steadfastness and loyalty of Mulruana in the 
service of God. 

Then great anger seized Satan, so that he sent further 
demons, each more powerful than the other, to put 
temptation on Mulruana. Not one of them succeeded in 
even coming near the hut of the holy man. Nor did it 
fare any better with them whenever he came outside, 
for he used always to be attentive to his prayers and 
ever musing on holy things. Then every evil-spirit 
of them used to go back to hell and used to tell the devil 
that there was no use contending with Mulruana, for that 
God himself and His angels were keeping him and giving 
him help. 

That account made Satan mad entirely, so that he deter- 
mined at last to go himself, hoping to destroy Mulruana, 
and to draw him out of the proper path. Accordingly 
he came one evening at nightfall, in the guise of a young 
woman, and asked the good man for lodging. Mulruana 


rudely refused the pretended woman, and banished her 
away from his door, although he felt a compassion for her 
because the night was wet and stormy, and he thought that 
the girl was without house and shelter from the rain and 
cold. But what the woman did was to go round to 
the back of the house and play music, and it was the 
sweetest and most melancholy music that man ever 

Because Mulruana had had a pity for the poor girl at 
the first, he listened now to her music, and took great 
delight in it, and had much joy of it, but he did not allow 
her into his hut. At the hour of midnight the devil 
went back to hell, but he had a shrewd notion that he had 
won the game and that he had caught the holy man. 
Mulruana had quiet during the remainder of the night, 
but instead of continuing at his prayers, as was his custom, 
he spent the end of the night, almost till the dawn of day, 
thinking of the beauty of the girl and of the sweetness of 
her music 

The day after that the devil came at the fall of night 
in the same likeness, and again asked lodging of Mulruana. 
Mulruana refused that, although he did not like to do it, 
but he remembered the vow he had made never to let 
a woman or a girl into his hut. The pretended woman 
went round to the back of the house, and she was playing 
music that was like fairy music until it was twelve o'clock, 
when she had to go away with herself to hell. The man 
inside was listening to the playing and taking great 
delight in it, and when she ceased there came over him 
melancholy and trouble of mind. He never slept a wink 
that night, and he never said a word of his prayers either, 


but eagerly thinking 1 of the young woman, and his heart 
going astray with the beauty of her form and the sweet- 
ness of her voice. 

On the morning of the next day Mulruana rose from his 
bed, and it is likely that it was the whisper of an angel 
he heard, because he remembered that it was not right 
for him to pay such heed to a girl and to forget his prayers. 
He bowed his knees and began to pray strongly and ear- 
nestly, and made a firm resolve that he would not think 
more about the girl, and that he would not listen to her 
music. But, after all, he did not succeed in obtaining a 
complete victory over his thoughts concerning the young 
woman, and consequently he was between two notions 
until the evening came. 

When the night was well dark the Adversary came 
again in the shape of the girl, and she even more beautiful 
and more lovely than she was before, and asked the man 
for a night's lodging. He remembered his vow and the 
resolve he had made that day in the morning, and he 
refused her, and threatened her that she should not come 
again to trouble him, and he drove her away with rough 
sharp words, and with a stern, churlish countenance, 
as though there were a great anger on him. He went into 
his hut and the girl remained near the hut outside, and she 
weeping and lamenting and shedding tears. 

When Mulruana saw the girl weeping and keenmg 
piteously he conceived a great pity for her, and com- 
passion for her came to him, and desire, and he did not 
free his heart from those evil inclinations, since he had 

1 This idiom, borrowed from the Irish, is very common in Anglo- 
Irish. It is not governed by the rules of English grammar. 


not made his prayers on that day with a heart as pure as 
had been his wont, and he listened willingly and gladly. 
It was not long until he came out, himself, in spite of his 
vow and his good resolutions, and invited the pretended 
woman to come into his hut. Small delay she made in 
going in ! 

It was then the King of Grace took pity at this man 
being lost without giving him time to amend himself, 
since he had ever been truly pious, diligent, humane, 
well disposed and of good works, until this great temptation 
came over him. For that reason God sent an angel to 
him with a message to ask him to repent. The angel 
came to Mulruana's house and went inside. Then the 
devil leapt to his feet, uttered a fearful screech, changed 
his colour, his shape, and his appearance. His own 
devilish form and demoniac appearance came upon him. 
He turned away from the angel like a person blinded with 
a great shining or blaze of light, and went out of the 

His senses nearly departed from Mulruana with the 
terror that overcame him. When he came to himself 
again the angel made clear to him how great was the sin 
to which he had given way, and how God had sent him 
to him to ask him to repent. But Mulruana never 
believed a word he said. He knew that it was the devil 
who had been in his company in the guise of a young 
woman. He remembered the sin to which he had con- 
sented, so that he considered himself to be so guilty that it 
would be impossible for him ever to obtain forgiveness 
from God. He thought that it was deceiving him the 
angel was, when he spoke of repentance and forgiveness. 


The angel was patient with him and spoke gently. He 
told him of the love and friendship of God and how He 
would never refuse forgiveness to the truly penitent, 
no matter how heavy his share of sins. Mulruana did not 
listen to him, but a drowning-man's-cry issued out of his 
mouth always, that he was lost, and he ever-cursing God, 
the devil and himself. The angel never ceased, but entreat- 
ing and beseeching him to turn to God and make re- 
pentance — but it was no use for him. Mulruana was as 
hard and as stubborn as he was before, all the time taking 
great oaths and blaspheming God. 

All the time the angel was speaking he had the appear- 
ance of a burning candle in his hand. At long last, when 
the candle was burnt all but about an inch, a gloom fell 
over the countenance of the angel and he stood out from 
Mulruana, and threatened him, and told him that his term 
of grace was almost expired, and, said he, unless you make 
repentance before this inch of candle is burnt away, God 
will grant you no more respite, and you will be damned 
for ever. 

Then there came silence on Mulruana for a while, 
as though he were about to follow the advice of the 
angel. But then on the spot he thought of the sin 
that he had done. On that, despair seized him, and the 
answer he gave the angel was, "as I have burned the 
candle I'll burn the inch." Then the angel spoke to 
him with a loud and terrible voice, announcing to 
him that he was now indeed accursed of God, and, 
said he, " thou shalt die to-morrow of thirst." Mul- 
ruana answered him with no submission, and said, " O 
lying angel, I know now that you are deceiving me. It 


is impossible that I should die of thirst in this place, and 
so much water round about me. There is, outside there, 
a well of spring water that was never dry, and there is a 
stream beside the gable of the house which would turn the 
wheel of a great mill no matter how dry the summer day, 
and down there is Loch Beithe on which a fleet of ships 
might float. It is a great folly for you to say that anybody 
could die of thirst in this place." But the angel departed 
from him without an answer. 

Mulruana went to lie down after that, but, if he did, he 
never slept a wink through great trouble of spirit. Next 
morning, on his rising early, the sharpest thirst that man 
ever felt came upon him. He leapt out of his bed and 
went to the stoap [pail] for water, but there was not a 
drop in it. Out with him then to the well, but he did not 
find a drop there either. He turned on his foot towards 
the stream that was beside the house, but it was dry before 
him down to the gravel. The banks and the pebbles 
in the middle of it were as dry as though they had never 
seen a drop of water for a year. Mulruana remembered 
then the prophecy of the angel and he started. A quaking 
of terror came upon him, and his thirst was growing every 
moment. He went running at full speed to Loch Beithe, 
but when he came to the brink of the lake he uttered one 
awful cry and fell in a heap on the ground. Loch Beithe 
too was dry before him 

That is how a cowherd found him the next day, lying 
on the brink of the lake, his eyes starting out of his head, 
his tongue stretched out of his throat, and a lump of white 
froth round his mouth. His awful appearance was such 
that fear would not let the people go near him to bury 



him, and his body was left there until birds of prey and 
wild dogs took it away with them 

That is how it happened Mulruana as a consequence 
of his sin, his impenitence, and his despair, and that is 
the reason why it is not right for any one to use the old 
saying, " As I've burnt the candle I'll burn the inch," 
and yonder is " Cnoc Mhaoilruanadha," Mulruana's Hill, 
as a witness to the truth of this story 




The Stone of Truth is as old as the times of the Druids. 
The celebrated Lia Fail was a stone of truth. Certain stones 
were oracles in old times. There was a stone in Oriel, and 
a celebrated stone called Cloeh Labhrais in the south which 
were oracular A man who suspected his wife made her 
stand upon the southern stone to swear that she had not 
wronged him. She spied a man she knew too well 
far away upon the mountain, and swore she had never done 
anything she ought not to have done — no more than with 
that man on the skyline. The heart of the stone was broken 
with this equivocation, and it burst asunder exclaiming 
bionn aii pnmne p6m fe^nb, " even truth itself is bitter." 

The idea is Pagan, but this story is motivated in a 
Christian manner, b3 T alleging that the stone derived its 
miraculous power from St. Patrick's having knelt on it in 
prayer. I got this story from Francis O'Conor. For the 
original Irish, see " R.eligious Songs of Connacht," vol. II., 
p. 230. 


There was a man in it, hundreds and hundreds of years 
ago, whose name was Paidin 1 O Ciarbhain [Keerwaun, or 
Kerwin] and he was living close to Cong in West Connacht. 
Paidin was a strange man ; he did not believe in God or in 
anything about him. It's often the priest thought to bring 
1 Pronounced " Paudyeen." 


him to Mass, but it was no use for him, for Paidin would 
not take the advice of priest or bishop. He believed that 
man was like the beast, and he believed that when man 
died there was no more about him. 

Paidin lived an evil life ; he used to be going from house 
to house by day, and stealing in the night. 

Now, at the time that St. Patrick was in West Connacht 
seeking to make Christians of the Pagans, he went down 
one day upon his knees, on a great flag stone, to utter 
prayers, and he left after him a great virtue in the same 
stone, for anybody who might speak above that stone, 
it was necessary for him to tell the clear truth, he could 
not tell a lie, and for that reason the people gave the name 
to that flag of the Stone of Truth 

Paidin used always to have a great fear of this stone, 
and it's often he intended to steal it. One night when he 
found an opportunity he hoisted the stone on his back, 
took it away with him, and threw it down into a great 
valley between two hills, seven miles from the place 
where it used to be, and the rogue thought that he was 
all right ; but the stone was back in its old place that 
same night without his knowing. 

Another night after that he stole the geese of the parish 
priest, and as the people doubted him, they said that they 
would bring him to the Stone of Truth. Paidin was 
laughing in his own mind, for he knew that he had the 
stone stolen ; but great was the surprise that was on him 
when he saw the stone before him in its own place. When 
he was put above the stone he was obliged to tell that he 
had stolen the geese, and he got a great beating from the 
priest. He made a firm resolution then that if he got 


an opportunity at the stone again, he would put it in a 
place that it would never come out of. 

A couple of nights after that he got his opportunity 
again, and stole the stone a second time. He threw it 
down into a great deep hole, and he went home rejoicing 
in himself. But he did not go a quarter of a mile from 
the -place until he heard a great noise coming after him. 
He looked behind him and he saw a lot of little people, 
and they dressed in clothes as white as snow. There 
came such fear over Paidin that he was not able to walk 
one step, until the little people came up with him, and 
they carrying the Stone of Truth with them. A man of 
them spoke to him and said : " O accursed Paidin, carry 
this stone back to the place where you got it, or you shall 
pay dearly for it." 

" I will and welcome," said Paidin. 

They put the stone upon his back and they returned the 
road on which they had come. But as the devil was 
putting temptation upon Paidin, he went and threw the 
stone into a hole that was deeper than the first hole, a hole 
which the people made to go hiding in when the war 
would be coming. The stone remained in that hole for 
more than seven years, and no one knew where it was but 
Paidin only. 

At the end of that time Paidin was going by the side of 
the churchyard, when he looked up at a cross that was 
standing there, and he fell into a faint. When he came to 
himself, there was a man before him and he clothed as 
white as the snow. He spoke to him and said : "O 
accursed Paidin, you are guilty of the seven deadly sins, 
and unless you do penance you shall go to hell. I am 


an angel from God, and I will put a penance on you. I 
will put seven bags upon you and you must carry them 
for one and twenty years. After that time go before the 
great cross that shall be in the town of Cong, and say three 
times, ' My soul to God and Mary,' spend a pious life 
until then, and you will go to heaven. Go to the priest 
now, if you are obedient (and ready) to receive my 

" I am obedient," said Paidin, " but the people will be 
making a mock of me." 

" Never mind the mock, it won't last long," said the 

After this conversation a deep sleep fell upon Paidin, and 
when he awoke there were seven bags upon him, and the 
angel was gone away. There were two bags on his right 
side, two bags on his left side, and three others on his back, 
and they were stuck so fast upon him that he thought 
that it was growing on him they were. They were the colour 
of his own skin, and there was skin on them. Next day 
when Paidin went among the people he put wonder on 
them, and they called him the Merchant of the Seven 
Bags, and that name stuck to him until he died. 

Paidin began a new life now. He went to the priest, 
and he showed him the seven bags that were on him, and 
he told him the reason that they were put on him. The 
priest gave him good advice and a great coat to cover the 
seven bags with ; and after that Paidin used to be going 
from house to house and from village to village asking 
alms, and there used never be a Sunday or holiday that 
he would not be at Mass, and there used to be a welcome 
before him in every place. 


About seven years after that Paidin was going by the 
side of the hole into which he had thrown the Stone of 
Truth. He came to the brink of the hole, went down on 
his two knees and asked God to send him up the stone. 
When his prayer was ended he saw the stone coming up, 
and hundreds of white doves round about it. The stone 
was rising and ever rising until it came into Paidin's pre- 
sence on the ground, and then the doves went back again. 
The next day he went to the priest and told him every- 
thing about the Stone of Truth, and the way it came up out 
of the hole. " I will go with you/' said the priest, " until 
I see this great wonder." The priest went with him to 
the hole and he saw the Stone of Truth. And he saw 
another thing which put great wonder on him ; thou- 
sands and thousands of doves flying round about the mouth 
of the hole, going down into it and coming up again. 
The priest called the place Poll na gColum or the Dove's 
Hole, and that name is on it until the present day. The 
blessed stone was brought into Cong, and it was not long 
until a grand cross was erected over it, and from that day 
to this people come from every place to look at the Doves' 
Hole, and the old people believed that they were St. 
Patrick's angels who were in those doves. 

The Stone of Truth was for years after that in Cong, 
and it is certain that it did great good, for it kept many 
people from committing crimes. But it was stolen at last, 
and there is no account of it from that out. 

Paidin lived until he was four score years of age, and 
bore his share of penance piously. When the one and 
twenty years that the angel gave him were finished, and he 
carrying the seven bags throughout that time, there came 


a messenger in a dream to say to him that his life in this 
world was finished, and that he must go the next day 
before the Cross of Cong and give himself up to God and 
Mary. Early in the morning he went to the priest and 
told him the summons he had got in the night. People 
say that the priest did not believe him, but at all events 
he told Paidin to do as the messenger had bidden him. 

Paidin departed, and left his blessing with his neigh- 
bours and relations, and when the clock was striking 
twelve, and the people saying the Angelical Salutation, 
Paidin came before the cross and said three times, " My 
soul to God and to Mary," and on the spot he fell dead 

That cross was in the town of Cong for years. A bishop, 
one of the O'DufTy's, went to Rome, and he got a bit of the 
true Cross and put it into the Cross of Cong. It was there 
until the foreigners came and threw it to the ground. The 
Cross of Cong is still in Ireland, and the people have an 
idea that it will yet be raised up in the town of Cong with 
the help of God. 




The following interesting story, which, so far as I 
know, has never been noted, has come down to us in 
a late Middle Irish text from which I now translate 
it for the first time. My attention was first called to 
it years ago by my friend, Dr. Nicholas O'Donnell 
of Melbourne, an Australian born and bred, but a 
good Irish scholar, who made a transcript of the 
story for me from an Irish MS. which he picked up in 
Australia. It may well have been taken from a vellum, 
for the initial letter is omitted and a great space left for 
the scribe to insert it in colours later on. I have 
carefully compared the copy of the Australian text 
with four other copies which I find in the Royal 
Irish Academy, the oldest of which however only dates 
from 1788, but I found virtually no difference between 
them, and it is evident that they are all drawn from 
the same original. There seems to be no variant 
known. There is an ancient poem of great interest bearing 
on this story, called the Colloquy between Fintan and the 
Hawk of Achill. It is in Egerton, 1782, and the text 
was published in " Anecdota from Irish MSS." vol. I., 
p. 24, but has never been translated. Fintan, who sur- 
vived the flood, holds colloquy with the bird, which asked 
him about his life, and Fintan asks the bird's age. " O 
hawk from cold Achill take a benison and a victory, from 
the time you were born of an egg, tell the number of 
[the years of] your life." 

" I am of the same age as thou, O Fintan, son of Bochra." 
The Bird asks Fintan " since he was a poet and a prophet " 


to tell him the greatest evils he had ever experienced. 
We learn from the answer that the ancient salmon in our 
story was really a rebirth of Fintan himself, and it is 
exceedingly interesting to find the wily old crow 1 who ate 
Iveithin's young ones, appear upon the scene again, as a 
leading personage in another drama. Fintan tells how the 
Creator placed him in the cold streams in the shape of a 
salmon, how he frequented the Boyne, the Bush, the Bann, 
the Suck, the Suir, the Shannon, the Slaney, the Liffey, 
etc., etc. At last he came to Assaroe. 

" A night I was on the wave in the north and I at seal- 
frequented Assaroe. I never experienced a night like that 
from the beginning to the end of my time. 2 

" I could not remain in the waterfall. I give a leap — 
it was no luck for me — the ice comes like blue glass between 
me and the pool of the son of Modharn. 

" There comes a crow out of cold Achill, above the 
inver of Assaroe, I shall not hide it, though it is a thing 
to keep as a secret. He swept away with him one of my 

" The Goll or Blind One of Assaroe has clung to me [as 
a name] from that night. Rough the deed. I am ever 
since without my eye. No wonder for me to be aged." 

The Bird. 

1 It was I who swallowed thy eye, O Fintan. I am the 
grey Hawk, who be's alone in the waist of Achill." 

Fintan demands eric [recompense] for his eye, but the 
implacable old crow answers : 

" little eric would I give thee, O Fintan, son of Bochra 
the soft, but that one remaining eye in the withered 
head quickly would I swallow it of one morsel." 

The bird goes on to tell Fintan about the various battles 
it had seen in Ireland. As for the battle of Moytura. in 

1 The word " preachan," though it usually means crow, is applied 
to the seabhac or hawk in this poem. In Co. Roscommon I always 
heard the Marsh Harrier (or Kite as they called him in English), 
termed " preachan gcearc " in Irish. 

2 Literally " of the world." 


" It was there thy twelve sons fell ; to see them, aw- 
some was the blow, and I gnawed off each fresh body 1 either 
a hand or one foot or one eye." 

The old crow it was who carried off the hand of Nuadh 
covered with rings, which had been lopped off in the slaugh- 
ter, and which was replaced later on by a silver hand, 
whence the King of the Tuatha De Danann received the 
cognomen of Nuadh of the silver hand, but his real hand 
was the play tiling of the crows' young for seven years. He 
recounts all the eyes he had picked out of heroes' heads 
after famous fights. It was he too who perched upon 
Cuchulainn's shoulder, when, dying, he had bound himself 
to the standing stone, 2 but though his life had almost de- 
parted from him the hero pierced him with his cletin 
curad or hero's little quill. " I came above the hero as 
his countenance was darkening in death to eat his eyes, 
it was not an errand of luck, I stoop my head. He feels 
me on his face, he raises up his weakening hand, he puts 
his hero's little quill through my body at the first effort (?) 
I take a troubled flight to Innis Geidh across the valleyed 
sea and draw forth from myself, rough the task, the hard 
tough shaft of the dartlet. The head remains in my body. 
It tortured my heart sorely : sound I am not since that day, 
and I conceal it not since I am old. It was I who slew, great 
the tidings, the solitary crane that was in Moy I,eana and 
the eagle of Druim Breac, who fell by me at the 
famous ford. 

It was I who slew, pleasant the supper, the solitary crane 
of blue Innis Geidh. It was I who chewed beneath 


was I who slew, royal the rout, the slender Blackfoot 
of Slieve Fuaid ; the Blackbird of Drum Seghsa of the 
streams died in the talons of my daughter." 

It is plain then that this ancient poem, found in 
Egerton 1782, and in the Book of Fermoy, actually pre- 
supposes our story, and has a close connection with it. 

1 Literally " limb." 

2 See my "Literary History of Ireland," p. 351. 



A gentle, noble, renowned patron there was of a time 
in the land of Ireland, whose exact name was Ciaran of 
Cluan. 1 A good faith had he in the mighty Lord. 

One day Ciaran bade his clerics to go look for thatch 
for his church, on a Saturday of all days, 2 and those 
to whom he spake were Sailmin, son of Beogan, and 
Maolan, son of Naoi, for men submissive to God were 
they twain, so far as their utmost diligence went, and many 
miracles were performed for Maolan, as Ciaran said in 
the stanza, 

Maolan, son of Naoi the cleric, 
His right hand be for our benison 
If the son of Naoi desired it 
To work miracles like every saint. 

And, moreover, Sailmin, son of Beogan, he was the 
same man of whom, for wisdom, for piety, and for 
religion, Ciaran spake the stanza, 

Sailmin melodious, son of Beogan. 
A faith godlike and firm. 
No blemish is in his body. 
His soul is an angel. 

He was the seventh son of the sons of Beogan of 
Burren, 3 and those men were the seven psalmists of 
Ciaran, so that from them are the " Youth's Cross " on 
the Shannon, and the [other] " Youth's Cross " on the 
high road to Clonmacnoise [named]. 

Howsoever the clerics fared forth alongside the Shan- 
non, until they reached Cluain Doimh. There they 
cut the full of their little curragh of white-bottomed 

1 i.e., Clonmacnoise. 2 Literally " especially." 3 In West Clare. 


green-topped rushes. But [before they had done] 
they heard the voice of the clerics' bell at the time of 
vespers on Sunday, so they said that they would not 
leave that place until the day should rise on them on 
Monday, and they spake the lay as follows : 

The voice of a bell I heard in Cluan 1 

On Sunday night defeating us, 

I shall not depart since that has been heard, 

Until Monday, after the Sunday. 

On Sunday did God shape-out Heaven, 

On that day was the King of the apostles born ; 

On Sunday was born Mary 

Mother of the King of Mercy. 

On Sunday, I say it, 

Was born victorious John Baptist. 

By the hand of God in the stream in the East 

Was he baptised on Sunday. 

On Sunday, moreover, it is a true thing, 
The Sou of God took the captivity out of hell. 
On a Sunday after the battle . . . ? 
Shall God deliver the judgment of the last day. 

On a Sunday night, we think it melodious, 

The voice of the cleric I hear, 

The voice I hear of a bell 

On Drum Diobraid above the pool. 

The voice of the bell I hear 

Making me to postpone -re turn . . . ? 

The voice of the bell I hear 

Bringing me to Cluan. 

By thy hand O youth, 

And by the King who created thee, 

My heart thinks it delightful 

The bell and the voice. 

Howbeit the clerics abode that night [where they were] 
for the love of the King of Sunday. Now there occurred, 
that night, a frost and a prolonged snow and a rigour of 

1 i.e., Clonmacnoise. 


cold, and there arose wind and tempest in the elements 
for their skaith, without as much as a bothy or a lean- 
to of a bed or a fire for them, and surely were it not for 
the mercy of God protecting them round about, it was 
not in the mind of either of them that he should be alive 
on the morrow after that night, with all they experienced 
of oppression and terror from the great tempest of that 
wild- weather, so that they never remembered their acts 
of piety or to say or sing a prayer (?) Nor could they 
sleep or rest, for their senses were turned to foolishness, 
for they had never seen the like or the equal of that storm, 
and of the bad weather of that night, for the venom of 
its cold and moreover for the bitterness of the morning 
[which followed it]. And as they were there on the 
morning of the next day they heard a gentle, low, lament- 
able, woe-begone conversation of grief above their heads 
on high, on a tall, wide-extended cliff. And [the meaning] 
was revealed to them through the virtue of their holiness, 
and although much evil and anxiety had they suffered, 
[still] they paid attention to the conversation and observed 
it. And they between whom the conversation was, 
were these, namely an eagle who was called Leithin 1 
and a bird of her birds 2 in dialogue with her, piteously 
and complainingly lamenting their cold-state, pitifully, 
sadly, grievously ; and said the bird to the eagle : 

" Leithin," said he, "do you ever remember the like 
of this morning or of last night to have come within 
thy knowledge before ? " 

1 Apparently " the little grey one," from " liath"-grey ; pronounced 
" Lay-heen." I have made her feminine and called her " she " 
in the translation, but the Irish makes her masculine. 

2 i.e., one of its own young eagles, or nestlings. 


" I do not remember," said Leithin, " that I ever heard 
or saw the like or the equal of them, since the world was 
created, and do you yourself remember, or did you ever 
hear of such [weather] ? " said the eagle to the bird. 

" There are people who do remember," said the bird. 

" Who are they ? " said the eagle. 

M Dubhchosach, the Black-footed one of Binn Gulban, 1 
that is the vast-sized stag of the deluge, 2 who is at Binn 
Gulban ; and he is the hero of oldest memory of all those 
of his generation (?) in Ireland. 

" Confusion on thee and skaith ! surely thou knowest 
not that ; and now although that stag be far away from 
me I shall go to see him, to find if I may get any know- 
ledge from him ! " 

Therewith Leithin went off lightly, yet was she scarcely 
able to rise up on high with the strength of the bad weather, 
and no more could she go low with the cold of the . . . ? 
and with the great abundance of the water, and, though 
it was difficult for her, she progressed lightly and low- 
flying, and no one living could reveal or make known 
all that she met of evil and of misery going to Ben Gulban 
looking for the Blackfoot. And she found the small- 
headed swift-footed stag scratching himself against a 
bare oak rampike. And Leithin descended on a corner 
of the rampike beside him. And she saluted the stag in 
his own language and asks him was he the Blackfoot. 
The stag said that he was, and Leithin spoke the lay : 

Well for you O Blackfoot, 

On Ben Gulban high, 
Many moors and marshes, 

Leap you lightly by. 

1 Now Ben Bulben in Co. Sligo. 2 i.e., " As old as the deluge." 


Hounds no more shall hunt you 

Since the Fenians fell, 
Feeding now untroubled 

On from glen to glen. 

Tell me stag high-headed, 

Saw you ever fall 
Such a night and morning ? 

You remember all. 

[The Stag Answers.] 

I will give you answer 

L£ithin wise and gray, 
Such a night and morning 

Never came my way. 

" Tell me, Blackfoot," said L£ithin, " what is thy 

' I shall tell thee," said the Blackfoot. " I remember 
this oak here when it was a little sapling, and I was born 
at the foot of the oak sapling, and I was reared upon that 
couch [of moss at its foot] until I was a mighty-great 
stag, and I loved this abode [ever], through my having 
been reared here. And the oak grew after that till it 
was a giant oak (?) and I used to come and constantly 
scratch myself against it every evening after my jour- 
neyings and goings [during the day] and I used [always] 
to remain beside it in such wise till the next morning, 
and if I had to make a journey or were hotly hunted I 
used to reach the same tree, so that we grew up with one 
another, until I became a mighty-great stag, and this 
tree became the bare withered rampike which you see, 
so that it is now only a big ruined shapeless-stump without 
blossom or fruit or foliage to-day, its period and life 
being spent. Now I have let a long period of years 1 go 

1 Or, " a cargo of five hundred years." 


by me, yet I never saw and never heard tell-of, in all that 
time, the like of last night." 

Leithin departs [to return] to his birds after that, 

and on his reaching home the other 1 bird spoke to him, 

' have you found out what you went to inquire about ? " 

" I have not," said Leithin, and she began to revile 
the bird for all the cold and hardships she had endured, 
but at last she said, " who do you think again would know 
this thing for me ? " said Leithin. 

" I know that," said the bird, " Dubhgoire the Black 
caller of Clonfert- of Berachan." 

" Well then I shall go seek him." 

And although that was far away from her, yet she 
proceeded until she reached Clonfert of St. Berachan, 
and she was observing the birds until they had finished 
their feeding [and were returning home], and then 
Leithin saw one splendid bird beautifully-topped, vic- 
torious-looking, of the size of a blackbird, but of the 
brightness of a swan, and as soon as it came into its 
presence Leithin asks it whether it were Dubhgoire. 
It said that it was. It was a marvel [to Leithin] when it 
said that it was, namely that the blackbird should be 
white, and Leithin spake the lay. 

" How is that O Dubhgoire, sweet is thy warbling, 
often hast thou paid thy calls throughout the blue- 
leaved forest. 

" In Clonfert of the bright streams and by the full plain 
of the Liffey, and from the plain of the LifTey coming 
from the east to Kildare behind it. 

1 Literally " second." 

2 Perhaps " Cluansost." There is no Berachan in Clonfert in the 
martyrologies. See " The Death of Bearachan," p. 63. 


" From that thou departest to thy nest in the Ciil 
which Brigit blessed. Short was it for thee to overleap 
every hedge till thou earnest to the townland in which 
Berachan was. 

" O Dubhgoire tell to me — and to count up all thy 
life — the like of yesterday morning, didst thou ever 
experience it, O Dubhgoire ? " 

[Dubhgoire answers.] 

" To me my full life was three hundred years before 
Berachan, the lifetime of Berachan I spent [added 
thereto], I was enduring in lasting happiness. 

" Since the time that Lughaidh of the Blades was for 
a while in the sovereignty of all Ireland I never ex- 
a perienced by sea or by land such weather as that which 
Leithin mentions in his lay." x 

" Well, then, my own errand to thee," said Leithin, 
" is to enquire if thou didst ever experience, or remember 
to have seen or [to have heard] that there ever came such 
a morning as yesterday for badness." 

"I do not remember that I ever saw such," said 
Dubhgoire, " or anything like it." 

As for Leithin, she was sad and sorrowful, for those 
tidings did not help (?) her, and she proceeded on her 
way till she reached her nest and birds. 

" What have you to tell us to-day ? " said the bird. 

" May you never have luck nor fortune," said Leithin. 
" I have no more news for you than I had when departing, 
except all my weariness from all the journey ings and 

1 Literally, " I never got on sea or land a knowledge of that lay 
of I^eithin's." 


wanderings which you contrive to get me to take, without 
my getting any profit or advantage out of you," and with 
that she gave a greedy venemous drive of her beak at the 
bird, so that she had like to have made a prey and flesh- 
torn spoil of it, with vexation at all the evil and misery 
she had experienced going to Kildare, so that the bird 
screeched out loudly and pitifully and miserably. 

[A while] after that Leithin said, " It's a pity and a 
grief to me if any one in Ireland knows [that there ever 
came a night worse than that night] that I myself do not 
know of it." 

" Well, then, indeed, there is one who knows," says 
the bird, " Goll of Easruaidh {i.e., the Blind One of 
Assaroe) and another name of him is the Eigne 1 of 
Ath-Seannaigh {i.e., the salmon of Ballyshannon) , and 
it is certain that he knows about that, if any one in the 
world knows about it." 

" It is hard for me to go the way you tell me," said 
Leithin, " yet should I like exceeding well to know about 
this thing." 

Howsoever she set out, and she never came down until 
she reached Assaroe of Mac Modhuirn, and she began 
observing and scrutinizing Assaroe until she saw the sal- 
mon feeding near the ford, and she saluted him and said, 
" Delightful is that O Goll, it is not with thee as with 
me, for our woes are not the same," and she spake the 

lay : 

[Leithin speaks.] 

" Pleasant is that [life of thine] O Goll with success (?) 

many is the stream which thou hast adventured, not the 

1 This is an old poetic word for a salmon. 


same for thee and for us, if we were to relate our wander- 

" It is to thee that I have come from my house, O Blind 
one of Assaroe, how far doth thy memory go back, or 
how far is thy age to be reckoned ? " 

[The Salmon answers.] 

" As for my memory, that is a long one. It is not easy 
to reckon it. There is not on land or in bush a person 
like me— none like me but myself alone ! 

" I remember, it is not a clear-cut remembrance, the 
displacing showers of the Deluge, four women and four 
men, who remained after it in the world. 

" I remember Patrick of the pens coming into the 
land of Ireland, and the Fir Bolg, manful the assembly, 
coming from Greece to take possession of it. 

" Truly do I mind me of Fintan's coming into the 
country close to me. Four men were the crew of his 
ship, and an equal number of females. 

" I remember gentle Partholan's taking the kingship 
over Ulster. I remember, a while before that, Glas, 
son of Aimbithe in Emania. 

" I chanced to be one morning that was fair, on this 
river, O Leithin, I never experienced a morning like 
that, either before it or after it. 

" I gave a leap into the air under the brow of my hard 
rock [here], and before I came down into my house 
[of water] this pool was one flag of ice. 

" The bird of prey 1 seized me above the land with a 

1 Laterally " eagle," but this is a mistake, it was not an eagle. 


furious ungentle onslaught, and bore away my clear blue 
eye. To me it was not a pleasant world." 

" Well now, my own object in coming to thee," said 
Leithin, " was to enquire of thee whether thou dost ever 
remember such a morning as was yesterday ? " 

" Indeed saw 1 such a morning," quoth Goll. " I 
remember the coming of the deluge, and I remember the 
coming of Partholan and of Fintan and the children of 
Neimhidh and the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha De Danann, 
and the Fomorians and the sons of Milesius and Patrick 
son of Alprunn, and I remember how Ireland threw off 
from her those troops, and I remember a morning 
that was worse than that morning, another morning 
not speaking of the great showers out of which the deluge 
fell. And the deluge left only four men and four women, 
namely, Noe, son of Laimhfhiadh and his wife, and Sem, 
Cam and Japhet, and their three wives, for in truth that 
was the crew of the ark, and neither [church] man nor 
canon reckon that God left undestroyed in the world 
but those four. However, wise men truly recount that 
God left another four keeping knowledge and tribal- 
descent and preserving universal genealogies, for God 
did not wish the histories of the people to fade, and so 
he left Fintan son of Laimhfhiadh towards the setting 
of the sun, south, keeping an account of the west of the 
world, and, moreover, Friomsa Fhurdhachta keeping 
the lordship of the north, and the prophet and the 
Easba ? duly ordering [the history of the] south. And 
those are they who were alive outside of the ark, and I 
remember all those people. And Leithin," said Goll, 


" I never saw the like of that morning for vemon except 
one other morning that was worse than the morning that 
you speak of, and worse than any morning that ever came 
before it. It was thus. One day I was in this pool and 
I saw a beautifully coloured butterfly with purple spots 
in the air over my head. I leapt to catch it, and before 
I came down the whole pool had become one flag of ice 
behind me, so that [when I fell back] it bore me up And 
then there came the bird of prey 1 to me, on his seeing 
me [in that condition], and he gave a greedy venemous 
assault on me and plucked the eye out of my head, and 
only for my weight he would have lifted me, and he threw 
the eye into the pool, and we both wrestled together 
until we broke the ice with the violence of the struggle, 
and with the [heat of the] great amount of crimson-red 
blood that was pouring from my eye, so that the ice was 
broken by that, so that with difficulty I got down into the 
pool [again], and that is how I lost my eye. And it is 
certain O Leithin," said Goll, " that that was by far the 
worst morning that I ever saw, and worse than this morn- 
ing that thou speakest of." 

Now as for the clerics, they took council with one 
another, and determined to await [the eagle's return] that 
they might know what she had to relate. However 
they experienced such hardships and anguish from the 
cold and misery of the night, and they could not [despite 
their resolution] endure to abide [the eagle's return]. So 
Maolan, the cleric, said, " I myself beseech the powerful 

1 Literally "eagle." MSS. reads " fiolar " — " the eagle," which 
is evidently a mistake. 


Lord, and the chosen Trinity, that the eagle, Leithin, 
may come with the knowledge she receives to Clonmac- 
noise and tell it to Ciaran," rand therewith they themselves 

Now as for Goll [the salmon], he asked Leithin, after 
that, who was it that sent her in pursuit of that knowledge. 

" It was the second bird of my own birds." 

" That is sad," said Goll, " for that bird is much older 
than thou or than I either, and that is the bird that picked 
my eye out of me, and if he had desired to make thee wise 
in these things it would have been easy for him. That 
bird," said he, " is the old Crow of Achill. And its 
talons have got blunted with old age, and since its vigour 
and energy and power of providing for itself have departed 
from it, its way of getting food is to go from one nest to 
another, smothering and killing every bird's young, and 
eating them, and so thou shalt never overtake thy own 
birds alive. And O beloved friend, best friend that 
I ever saw, if thou only succeedest in catching him alive 
on thy return, remember all the tricks he has played thee, 
and avenge thy birds and thy journeyings and thy 
wanderings upon him, and then too mind thee to avenge 
my eye." 

Leithin bade farewell to Goll, and off she went the self- 
same way she had come, in a mighty swift course, for she 
felt certain [now] that she would not overtake her birds 
alive in her nest. And good cause had she for that 
dread, for she only found the place of the nest, wanting 
its birds, they having been eaten by the Crow of Achill. 
So that all Leithin got as the result of her errand was the 
loss of her birds. 


But the old Crow of Achill had departed after its des- 
poiling [the nest], so that Leithin did not come upon it, 
neither did she know what way it had gone. 

Another thing, too, Leithin had to go every Monday, 
owing to the cleric's prayer, to Clonmacnoise. There the 
eagle perched upon the great pinnacle of the round tower 1 
of Clonmacnoise, and revealed herself to the holy patron, 
namely Ciaran. And Ciaran asked her for her news. And 
Leithin said she was [not ?] more grieved at her wander- 
ings and her loss than at that. Thereupon Ciaran said that 
he would give her the price and reward of her storytelling ; 
namely, every time that her adventures should be told, 
if it were stormy or excessive rain that was in it at the 
time of telling, it should be changed into fine sky and good 

And Leithin said that it was understood by her [all 
along] that it was not her birds or her nest she would 
receive from him ; and since that might not be, she was 
pleased that her journeyings and wanderings should not 
go for nothing. 

And [thereupon] Leithin related her goings from the 
beginning to the end, just as we have told them above. 
So those are the adventures of Leithin. Thus far. 

1 Literally " Bell-house." 




This is the folk-lore version of the last story, and it is 
very interesting because it lends strength to the assumption 
that the story may be a piece of pre-Christian folk-lore, 
and probably very much older than any documents. I 
think it is pretty obvious that St. Ciaran and his clerics 
were brought into the written version simply to insure the 
tale against any clerical hostility which might be displayed 
by well-intentioned friars or others who would say — 
" those are only foolish tales, let them be." But the pre- 
sence of St. Ciaran and his two clerics would be sure to 
disarm hostility, if any such were attempted. The whole 
of mediaeval Irish literature is full of examples of such 

This story was told by Joyce or Seoigtheach, of Poll na 
bracha, in Co. Galway, some years ago, for the Oireachtas. 
There are a great number of stories in Irish with regard 
to old age. A common saying which I have often heard, 
but with variants, is the following, which purports to tell the 
life of those things in the universe which will last longest : 

Tri cuaille fail, cu. 

Tri cu, each. 

Tri eich, duine. 

Tri daoine, iolar. 

Tri iolair, bradan. 

Tri bradain, iubhair (pronounced " ur.") 

Tri iubhair, eitre, 

Tri eitreacha o thus an domhain go deireadh an domhain 


i.e., a Three wattles (such as are placed in a hedge to fill 
a gap) = a hound's life, three hounds a steed, three steeds 
a man, three men an eagle, three eagles a salmon, three sal- 
mon a yew tree, three yew trees a ridge, three ridges 
from the beginning to the end of the world." " Eitre " has 
been explained to me as the old very wide ridges that used 
to be used in ancient times which left an almost indelible 
track in the ground. But my friend Mr. Hodgson took 
down a different explanation from Mathias O'Conor, and a 
different version, after " tri ur, eitre," came " tri eitre, 
'eye-ar'." and 'eitre' he explained as the mark of a 
plough on land, and ' aidhear' or " eye-ar " as the mark 
of a spade. 

The Crow of Achill is a bird that every Irish speaker in 
the West has heard of, but Raftery curiously made him a 
" raven." In one of his poems he says of a place in his 
beloved Mayo where birds delighted to resort : 

Ta an fiach dubh as Acaill ami 
Ta an seabhac as L,och Erne ann, 
Ta an t-iolrach o'n nGreig ann 
Agus an eala on Roimh. 

i.e., the Raven out of Achill is there, the Hawk from 
Lough Erne is there, the Eagle out of Greece and the Swan 
from Rome ! 


In the Island of Achill the Crow lived He never 
frequented wood, tree or bush, but an ancient forge 
in which he spent his time every evening throughout the 
year, and every year of his lifetime, lying on the anvil. 
And as it is the custom of birds usually to rub their beaks 
to the thing that is nearest to them, the Crow used to 
give an odd rub, now and again, to the horn of the anvil. 
At long last, in the end, the horn grew to be as thin and 
worn away as a knitting needle, by the continuous rubbing. 


One night there happened to be a great storm. There 
came frost, snow and wind, very violent. The roofing 
was swept away off the forge, and along with it went the 
plumage and feathers of the crow, and the poor crow was 
left in the morning after that dreadful night, and he with- 
out a feather or any plumage on his body, but just as 
much as if he had been scalded with boiling water. 

When the sun rose after that in the morning there 
came a rest and a calm, but the poor crow was afraid 
to go out, and [i.e., after] the flaying that had been done 
upon him during the night. " Oh," said he, " it's a 
long time I'm in this world, and I never felt a single other 
night of such bad weather as the night last night. It is 
my own opinion that there is not a single living creature 
in the entire world older than myself, unless it be the great 
Eagle of Leac-na-bhfaol, 1 and I'm in doubt but that the 
eagle is the older. I'll go to himself now until I get 
knowledge from him if he ever felt a night as cold and 
as venemous as the night we had last night." 

When the light of day came and the heat of the sun 
was right, my crow slipped off with the intention of 
journeying to the eagle. He was going and ever-going 
as well as he was able, seeing he was without feathers, 
until he came in the end, at long last, as far as the nest 
of the Eagle. 

" Aroo ! " says the Eagle ; " O Crow of my heart, 
what has happened to you, or where have your plumage 
and your feathers gone ? " 

" Oh, don't ask me that," said the Crow, " didn't 
yourself feel the cold and ill weather of last night ? " 

1 Pronounce I/ock-na-weel. 


" Well, indeed," said the Eagle, " I didn't notice one 
jot of the wild weather that you're talking of." 

" Heavy was your slumber then," said the Crow. 
" I never experienced any night myself that was one 
half as venemous as it was — and signs on me ! I am 
come now to you to find out from you did there ever 
come any night in your time that was colder than it ; 
because I was laying out in my own mind that you are 
older than I am." 

' I have no right- certainty as to my own age," said 
the Eagle ; but even if I had, I know that there is another 
creature who is still alive in the world and who is very 
much older than I am." 

" Who is that ? " said the Crow. 

" He is the Blind Trout of Assaroe," said the Eagle. 
" Go you, now, to that Trout, and perhaps you might 
get the solving of your question from him." 

The Crow went off and he never stopped nor stayed 
until he came as far as Assaroe, and he found out the 
Trout. He told his story then to the Trout, and told 
him that he came to find out from him if there had 
ever come a night in the world that was as cold as last 

" There did, and a thousand times colder," said the 

"I'd scarcely believe you," 1 said the Crow. 
1 Why, then," said the Trout, " if you don't believe 
me, you can go to an older authority than I." 

" And who is that authority ? " said the Crow. 

" The Old Woman of Beare," said the Trout. 

1 laterally " it's badly I'd believe you." 


' I'll go right away to her this moment," " said the 

" Wait yet," said the Trout, " until I tell you my 
own story. I was swimming on the surface of this pool 
one fine calm evening, as calm and as fine as any evening 
that ever I saw. There were thousands of flies above 
the pool. I sprang upward to catch the full of my 
mouth of them, and before I reached back again into the 
water there was ice on the [surface of the] water, and I 
was jumping and floundering on the flag of ice until the 
raven 2 came and picked the eyes out of my head. My 
share of blood began running fasts out of me, and I 
was there until the heat of the blood melted the flag of 
ice that was on the water, down through it, and let me 
down into the water again. That was the coldest night 
that I ever felt myself, and that is the way I lost my 
sight. I was christened the Blind Trout of Assaroe 
ever since, but some of the people call me the Old Trout 
of Assaroe. Alas, my bitter misfortune ! I am ever since 
without sight." 

The Crow heard him out, but he would not be easy 
or satisfied in his own mind until he should go on a visit 
to the Old Woman of Beare. 

" Farewell, Trout," said he, "I must go to the Old 
Woman now until I hear her own story." 

" May your journey succeed with you Crow, you will 
have neither loss nor hurt in the house of the Old 
Woman," said the Trout. 

1 Literally " now itself." 

2 Notice the use of the definite article. 

3 Literally " thickly." 


The Crow went off then, and he never stopped nor 
stayed until he came to the Old Woman's house. 

" Welcome, O Crow out of Achill," said she. " What 
is this has happened to you, or where are your plumage 
and feathers ?" 

" They are gone with the big wind," said he ; and with 
that he told his story to the Old Woman from beginning 
to end, and he put the same question to her that he had 
put before that to the Eagle and to the Trout — Did she 
ever feel any night that was as sore and venemous as 
last night ? 

" That's true for you," said she ; "I did feel a little 
stroke of cold at the beginning of the night, but I drew 
a wool pack over my head then, and I never felt anything 
but moonogues 1 of perspiration running off me again 
until morning." 

" Are you very old ? " said the Crow ; "or what age 
are you ? " 

" I have no certain date with regard to my age," said 
the Old Woman — " only this much. My father used 
to kill a beef every year, on the day I was born, in honour 
of my birthday, as long as he lived, and I followed the 
same custom, from that day to this. All the horns [of 
the beeves I killed] are on the loft in the barn and do you 
remain in my house until to-morrow, and if you like I'll 
send the servant boy to count them and you yourself 
can keep account of them [as he numbers them 
aloud.] 2 

On the morrow with the rise of day the servant went 

1 Literally " little bog-berries" 

2 See the story of "The Old Woman of Beare." 


up to count the horns, and he spent one full year, and a 
day over, at that work, and after all that there was only 
one corner of the loft emptied. 

And during all that time the Crow was taking his ease, 
and there was neither thirst nor hunger on him [so well 
was he treated] and his plumage and his feathers grew on 
him again. 

But even so, he got tired of keeping count. 

" I give you the branch " [palm of victory] said he 
to the Old Woman ; " you are as old as the old grand- 
mother long ago, who ate the apples," and he sped forth 
from the Old Woman and went home. 



The following little story, taken down in Irish by my friend 
Father Kelleher from the dictation of Mary Sweeney, aged 
82, of Coolea, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, and sent me by Miss 
G. Schoepperle, who published the text in the revue Celtique 
in 191 1, is of great interest, because it is almost unique 
as showing a point of contact — one of the exceedingly few 
points of contact — between Breton and Irish folk-lore. 
" II n'est, que je sache, d'autre example en Irlande d'un 
messager surnaturel, tel que 1'enfant mysterieux qui parait 
dans le conte qui suit," says Miss Schoepperle, truly, but in 
Brittany, she goes on to say, the '* buguel (Irish, bu^cxMll) 
noz," i.e., the boy or herdsman of the night, is well known. 
It is generally described as a little child with its head too 
large for its body, which only seldom appears, but which 
is heard to cry and lament in fields or on deserted roads. 
Its apparition is a presage of death. Lebraz in his Legende 
de la Mort has more than one story of its appearance. 
The salient points in the following story which seem to 
connect it with the Breton legend are : (1) The gradual 
growth in size of the being which was at first small ; (2) the 
lamentations and cries which it utters, and (3) — most re- 
markable of all — that it described itself as a herdsman, 
and was a presage of death. 

The Bearchan of this story must have been the bishop of 
CUiAin-fOfCA in tli ^itge (King's County) about the year 
690. He was of the race of the X)aI\\^ax)a or Scoto-Irish, 
and was 21st in descent from C^i^brve tli<\"o>A who fought 
in the battle of Ce^nn pe^bp^c in 186 A. d. I have seen his 
pedigree in MS. There are about six other St. Bearchans, 
but so far as I know the only one who would have been at 


all likely to have attracted a body of legend to himself 
was this Bearchan of CUiAin-r-Ofc^, who was esteemed as 
a prophet and poet. Besides I find this very curious note 
in the Martyrology of Donegal compiled by Brother Michael 
O'Clery from the old books of Ireland in 1630 : 

TJoI'mc t)epcu\in t>a pfuotj 50 tuiAit>e m "Uib "P^il^i 1 
bpeponti 6 Ui t)ej\c.<\in, An m^ix)i jrOf cimciol ^n uifge. 
Ann fin aza cltu\inrop:d *j x\nn pn aza cempAtt 
t>ef\c*Mti Acuf "DO oi, i.e., " Berchan's vat has been 
found new in Ui Failgi in the territory of the Ui 
Berchain. The timber was still round the water 
[i.e., was still good enough to hold water.] It is 
there Cluainsosta is, and there Berchan's church is and 
was." So. then, there must have been some well-known 
story connected with Berchan's vat. The list of the great 
Earl of Kildare's library, which was drawn up in 15 18, con- 
tained a " St. Berchan's Book." Poems ascribed to him 
are found in the " Wars of the Gael and Gall." For other 
references to him, see my " Literary History of Ireland," 
210-11. 1 " Bearachan " is the modern pronunciation of the 
older Berchan. 


Bearachan of Glen Flesk 2 had a dream or vision that 
there was no danger of his ever dying until three kings 

1 See also O'Curry MS. Materials p. 412. — 418 and 432. Fer-da- 
lethe. or the " man of two halves," was another name for him, 
" because he spent half of his life in the world and half on pil- 
grimage ut ferunt periti." An old rann runs : 

Ceitfti pAi"6e gAi-oet n-jlAn 

peiffOl ATI CI ft .\ -OCAtlJA-OAft, 

Colum cilte moling lAn 
Often Ainn toioptiA agu. t)eft6An. 

i.e., " Four prophets of the clean Gael. The country from which 
they sprang was the better for them. Columbcille, full Moling, 
Brendan of Birr and Berchan." 

* Near Killarney in Co. Kerry. But, as I have shown, he was 
probably Bearchan of Cluainsosta. There is no Berchan of Glenflesk 
in any of the Irish martyrologies. 


should come to his house without asking or invitation. 
On a certain night they did pay him a visit. He told them 
that there would not be a bit of him alive in the morning. 
They passed a good part of the night eating and drinking 
away, and they making a jest of him [saying] that so long 
as they themselves were in the house there would be no 
danger of [anything happening] him. 

They got hold of a big dabhach or vat, and [they put] 
Bearachan in under the mouth of the vat [to protect him] 
and they three were round about it. 

He had not been long placed there by them when they 
heard a very clear little voice outside, and it crying ; and 
there was snow outside, and cold. 

They asked it, "what was outside and what it wanted." 

It said that it was a cow-herd and that it was perished. 

They left him outside for a good space of time. At last 
they let him in. He came in and sat down beside the 
fire, a poor little creature, and he shaking with the cold. 
They gave him food and drink, but he told them that he 
was too much frightened, and that he would not eat it. 

They had a fine red-hot fire, and he was warming himself 
at the fire. He was a very short time there till he began 
swelling with the [heat of the] fire and growing big. He 
drew a little musical instrument out of his pocket and 
started to play on it. And according as the music was 
a-playing by him the others were inclining to weaken 
and fall asleep, until they [all, at last] fell softly in a dead 

And when they awoke in the morning, they had no 
music and no Bearachan — nothing but his bones left 
bare and naked underneath the vat. 




How Solomon comes into Irish folk-lore is hard to say, 
but I have heard at least three stories about him, of which 
the present is the most interesting. I wrote it down, word 
for word, from the mouth of Michael Mac Ruaidhri, in 1896. 
There is an undoubtedly Eastern flavour about it, but how 
it came to the County Mayo I cannot imagine, for I have 
not been able to trace it to any known source. 

Solomon's name was better known in the middle ages 
in connection with the conjuration of spirits. "Fur solche 
halbe Hexenblut 1st Salomonis Schliissel gut," says Faust 
in the study scene, when threatened by the demon dog. 
Josephus mentions Solomon's power over ghosts, and a book 
of conjurations in Hebrew which was ascribed to Solomon 
was translated into Latin, French, Italian, German and 
Spanish. The best known German edition according to Zerfi 
(one of Faust's editors) is called " clavicula Salomonis et 
theosophia pneumatica." 


When Solomon's mother was sick, Solomon used to 
send a man from the village in which he was, to watch 
her every night ; and every man who used to be watching 
her had to come before sunrise next morning with word 
to Solomon of how his mother was, and the first man who 
would say that his mother was dead, his head was to be 


whipt off him, and hung upon a spear that was above the 
Great Door. And they used to go, man after man, each 
night in their turn, and five pounds was the reward for 
their work, which they used to get each night. It was 
well, and it was not ill, until it came to the turn of a 
widow's son to go to watch the mother of Solomon ; 
and the night that he was going to watch her she was very 
weak and overcome, and given up for death. 

When the account came to the widow's son to go and 
watch Solomon's mother, there came the weakness and the 
sweat of death upon him, and his mother began to keene 
for him, because she had no one but him. And as he was 
going home from the day's work that he had, that evening, 
he was weeping and troubled ; and there met him a half- 
fool, and he asked the widow's son for what cause was he 
weeping, and the widow's son told him as I am telling it 
to you. 

" What is the reward that you will get ? " said the half- 
fool to the widow's son. 

" Five pounds," says he to him. 

" My soul to God of the graces," says the half-fool, 
11 but I'll go in your place to night, if you give me the 
five pounds." 

" I'll give you five pounds, and something over," says 
the widow's son, " if you go there." 

True was the story. The half-fool went to watch 
Solomon's mother that night, and she was in the last 
agony when he went into the room, and he was watching 
her until after the hour of twelve at night ; and he heard 
a noise at the big door, and he rose upon his feet and 
walked to the big door, and there was a man at 


the big door, and he watching, looking in on a window 
that was in the big door. And the man who was in it 
was a body-servant of Solomon ; and Solomon had a 
great regard for this man, and he used to send this man 
every night to bring him word privately — to tell him 
if the man who was taking care of his mother was doing 
his business right. Now, there was none of the men who 
were watching his mother for a year so keenly- watchful as 
the half-fool who was watching her that night. No man 
of them heard the man who was at the big door any 
night except him. 

The half- fool opened the big door then, and there was 
an old sword hung up over the big door. When the big 
door was opened the body-servant thought to come in, 
but the half- fool drew the sword, and threw the head off 
him. He left him there and went to the sleeping- room 
where Solomon's mother wis, and he was not long in it 
until Solomon's mother died. 

Solomon was getting very uneasy about his servant as to 
what was the reason that he was not coming to him with 
tidings, as he used to come every other night. But, howso- 
ever, Solomon did not leave the house till morning, and he 
did not go to look for him. [He waited], but he did not 
come. And when the day came, the widow's son was not 
with Solomon before the rising of the sun, as the other 
men had been. Solomon did not go to rest, but he ever 
looking out through the window, and at long last he saw 
the widow's son — for he thought it was he was in it — 
coming to the palace. And when he came in to Solomon 
they saluted one another. And says the half-fool- 


it was he was in it— to Solomon, "lam asking pardon 
of you, O king and prince." 

" Why say you that ? " said Solomon. 

" I knocked the hat off your body-servant yesterday," 
said the half-fool. 

" You have your pardon got," said Solomon. 

" But, O thou best of the kings," said the half-fool, 
" the head was with the hat." And as Solomon was after 
giving him his pardon, he could not go back of his 

" Have you any other tidings with you ? " said Solomon. 

" I have," said he. 

" Tell them," said Solomon. 

" God's brightness is on the earth," said he. 

" The sun is risen," said Solomon. 

" It is," said the half-fool. 

" The stones that were above yesterday," said he, " they 
are going below now." 

" The plough is ploughing, then," said Solomon. 

" It is," said he, " and the first house in which you were 
reared, it is overthrown." 

" Then my mother is dead," said Solomon 

" She is," said the half-fool. 

" I shall have your head on the spear," said Solomon. 

" You shall not, O honest noble king," said the half- 
fool, " you yourself were the first man who said it." 

" By my honour," said Solomon, " it was I." 

Ye see now, that, as wise as Solomon was, the half-fool 
got the victory over him in wisdom. " There be's luck 
on a fool." " 

X A common proverb. 




There are many rhyming petitions and prayers amongst 
the " Askers of Alms " to be recited at the door of those 
from whom they crave assistance. One of the virtues most 
insisted upon in prayers and didactic poems is almsgiving. 
The following story was probably invented with a deli- 
berately didactic purpose. It was told by Mary Gowlan, 
Cathair-na-Mart (Westport), some twenty years ago. 
The Dardeels, or Dharadeels which came out of the mouth 
of the dying woman are the most loathsome insects known 
to the Irish peasant. They are black beetles with cocked tails. 
See the " Legend of the Dardeel, the Keerogue and the 


In the old time there was a married couple living near 
Cauher-na-Mart, 1 in the County Mayo. They had seven of 
a family, but God sent them worldly means, and they 
wanted for nothing but the love of God. 

The man was a pious and generous person, and was 
good to the poor, but the wife was a hard miser without 
mercy, who would not give alms to man or stranger, 
and after refusing the poor man she used not to be satisfied 
with that, but she used to give him abuse also. If a 
person able to do work were to come looking for alms from 

1 Westport. 


her, she would say, " Unless you were a lazy vagabone 
you would not be here now looking for alms and bothering 
my head with your talk ; " but if an old man or an old 
woman who could do no work would come to her, it is 
what she would say to them that they ought to be dead 
long before that. 

One Christmas night there was frost and snow on the 
ground. There was a good fire in Patrick Kerwan's 
house — that was the man's name — and the table was 
laid. Patrick, his wife and his family were sitting down 
at the table, and they ready to go in face of a good supper 
when they heard a knock at the door. Up rose the wife 
and opened it. There was a poor man outside, and she 
asked him what he was looking for. 

" I'm looking for alms in the honour of Jesus Christ, 
who was born on this festival night, and who died on the 
Cross of passion for the human race." 

' Begone, you lazy guzzler," she said, " if you were one 
half as good at working as you are at saying your prayers, 
you would not be looking for alms to-night, nor troubling 
honest people," and with that she struck the door to, in the 
face of the poor man, and sat down again at the table. 

Patrick heard a bit of the talk she gave the poor man, and 
he asked who was at the door. 

" A lazy good-for-nothing, that was looking for alms," 
said she, " and if it wasn't that it was a lazy vagabone that 
was in it, he would not come looking for alms from people 
who are earning their share of food hardly, but he would 
sooner be saying his old prayers than working for meat." 

Patrick rose. " Bad was the thing you did," said he, 
r ' to refuse anyone for a morsel of meat, and especially to 


refuse him on Christmas night. Isn't it God that sent 
us everything that we have ; there is more on this table 
than will be eaten to-night ; how do you know whether 
we shall be alive to-morrow ? " 

' Sit down," says she, " and don't be making a fool of 
yourself; we want no sermons." 

" May God change your heart," says Patrick, and with 
that he got the full of his two hands of bread and food, and 
out with him, following the poor man, going on the track of 
his feet in the snow as quick as he could, till he came up 
with him. He handed him the food then, and told him he 
was sorry for his wife's refusing him. " But," says he, 
"I'm sure there was anger on her." 

" Thank you for your food," said the poor man. He 
handed the food back again to him, and said " [there], you 
have your food and your thanks, [both]. I am an angel 
from heaven who was sent to your wife in the form of 
a poor man, to ask alms of her in the honour of Jesus 
Christ, who was born this night, and who suffered the 
passion of the Cross for the human race. She was not 
satisfied with refusing me, but she abused me also. You 
shall receive a great reward for your aims, but as for your 
wife she shall not be long until she is standing in the pre- 
sence of Jesus Christ to give Him an account of the way 
in which she spent her life on this world." 

The angel departed, and Patrick returned home. He 
sat down, but he could neither eat nor drink. 

" What's on you ? " says the wife, "did that stroller do 
anything to you ? " 

" My grief! it was no stroller was in it, but an angel 
from heaven who was sent to you in the shape of a man to 


ask alms of you, in honour of Jesus Christ, and you were 
not satisfied with refusing him, but you must abuse him 
with bad names. Now, your life on this world is not long, 
and in the name of God, I beseech you, make a good use of 

" Hold your tongue," she said, " I think that you saw a 
ghost, or that you lost your senses, and may God never 
relieve you, nor anyone else who would leave a good fire, 
and a good supper, running out in the snow after a lazy 
rap ; but the devil a much sense was in you ever." 

" If you don't take my advice, you'll repent when you'll 
be too late," said Patrick ; but it was no use for him to be 

When Little Christmas [New Year's Day] came, the 
woman was not able to get dinner ready ; she was deaf and 
blind. On the Twelfth Night she was not able to leave 
her bed, but she was raving and crying, " give them alms, 
alms, alms, give them everything in the house in the name 
of Jesus Christ." 

She remained for a while like that, between the death 
and the life, and she without sense. The priest came 
often, but he could do nothing with her. The seventh 
day the priest came to her, and he brought the last oil 
to anoint her with. 

The candles were lit, but they were quenched upon the 
spot. They tried to light them again, but all the coals 
that were in the county Mayo would not light them. Then 
he thought to put the oil on her without a candle, but on 
the spot the place was filled with a great smoke, and it was 
little but the priest was smothered. Patrick came to the 
door of the room, but he could go no further. He could 


hear the woman crying, " a drink, a drink, in the name of 
Christ ! " 

She remained like this for two days, and she alive, and 
they used to hear her from time to time crying out, " a 
drink, a drink," but they could not go near her. 

Word was sent for the Bishop O'Duffy, and he came at 
last, and two old friars along with him. He was carrying 
a cross in his right hand. When they got near Patrick's 
house, there came down on them with one swoop a mul- 
titude of kites, and it was little but they plucked the eyes 
out of the three. 

They came then to Patrick's door and they lit the 
candles. The bishop opened a book and said to the 
friars, " When I shall begin reading the prayers do ye 
give the responses." Then he said, " Depart, O Chris- 
tian soul " 

" She is not a Christian soul," said a voice, but they 
saw no one. 

The Bishop began again, " Depart, O Christian soul, 
out of this world, in the name of the all-powerful Father 
who created you." Before he could say more there came 
great thunder and lightning. They were deafened with 
the thunder ; the house was filled with smoke. The 
lightning struck the gable of the house and threw it down. 
The deluge came down so that the people thought it was 
the end of the world that was in it. 

The Bishop and the two friars fell to their prayers 
again. " O Lord, according to the abundance of Thy 
mercy, look mercifully upon her," said the Bishop. 
" Amen," said the friars. There came a little calm and 
the Bishop went over to the bed. Poor Patrick came to 


the other side of the bed, and it was not long until the 
woman opened her mouth and there came a host of 
dardeels out of it. Patrick let a screech and ran for fire 
to put on them. When he came back the woman was 
dead, and the dardeels gone. 

The Bishop said prayers over her, and then he himself 
went away and the two friars, and Patrick went out to get 
women to wash the corpse, but when he came back the 
body was not to be found either up or down. There was 
a purse of gold round its neck, and the purse went with the 
body, and there is no account of either of them from that 

Many was the story and version that the neighbours had 
about Patrick Kerwan's wife. Some of them say that the 
devil took her with him. Others said that the good people 
carried her away. At all events there is no account of her 

At the end of a month after that the speckled disease 
(smallpox) broke out amongst the children and they all 
died. There was very great grief on Patrick. He was 
alone, by himself, without wife, without children, but he 
said : " Welcome be the will of God." 

A short time after that, he sold all that he had and went 
into a monastery. He spent his life piously and died a 
happy death. May God grant us a good death and the 
life that is enduring. 




The first time I heard this poem was at the Galway 
Feis many years ago. A poor old man, called the Cean- 
nuidhe Coir (Canny Core) or Honest Merchant — I don't 
know what his real name was — recited it. I took him aside 
in the interval during the competitions and wrote the most 
of it down from his recitation. My friend, Eoghan 
O Neachtain, wrote the rest of it down for me from the old 
man's mouth later on, but with the greatest difficulty as 
he had lost his teeth and pronounced very badly. Neither of 
us ever heard the poem before, and it is obviously only a 
fragment of a long piece, now, I fear, hopelessly lost, in 
common with many others, once popular. Indeed, I 
have seen a copy of this poem written down by a man 
called Hessian some eighty years ago, who called it the 
Assire [=Aiseirghe], but it is hopelessly undecipherable. 
This curious piece refers to a story once so commonly 
known in Ireland that it may almost be said to 
have formed part of the regular account of the cruci- 
fixion. It is celebrated even more in Irish art than in Irish 
story and song. When examining a few years ago the re- 
mains of the beautiful abbey which gives to Ennis its Irish 
name of Mainistir na h-Innse, I saw where a portion of the 
stone carving had recently been laid bare, and there, as plain 
as though it had been carved yesterday, was a very spirited 
picture of the cock rising up out of the pot and getting ready 
to crow. This was included with the other symbols of the 
crucifixion. I have seen the same thing on old wooden 
crucifixes, and elsewhere. There seems to have been a 
body of legend in some way or other connecting the cock with 


the history of the Passion. A Coptic legend tells us that 
on the day of the betrayal a roasted cock had been served 
up to our L/ord, who bade it rise up and follow Judas, 
who was then upon his way to make his bargain with the 
chief priests. The cock rose up and did what it was 
ordered, and brought back word to our Lord that the arch- 
traitor had sold Him, " and for this that cock shall enter 
Paradise." Thevonet Voyages II. 75, quoted in Journal 
for Apocrypha. 

It is more likely, however, that the legend as we know 
it came from the second Greek form of the Gospel of Nico- 
demus, certain MSS. of which contain the following passage : 
" And when the Jews refused to receive again from Judas 
the thirty pieces of silver for which he had betrayed his 
Master, he threw them in their midst and went away. 
And he came home to make a halter out of a cord to hang 
himself with. There he found his wife sitting and roasting 
a cock upon the coals. And he said unto her : ' Rise wife 
and get a rope ready for me because I mean to hang myself 
as I deserve.' But his wife said unto him, ' Why speakest 
thou like that ? ' And Judas replied, ' Know then that I 
have unjustly betrayed my master, Jesus, to the evil-doers 
who have taken him before Pilate to put Him to death ; 
but He will rise again on the third day, and then woe to us." 
But his wife said unto him, ' Speak not so, and believe it 
not. For it is just as likely that this cock roasting on the 
coals will crow as that Jesus will rise, as thou sayest.' And 
while she was thus speaking the cock flapped his wings and 
crew thrice. Then was Judas yet the more convicted, 
etc." (Tischendorff, p. 289). The legend found its way into 
Scotland also. It is told in a bald version in Scotch Gaelic 
of only four verses, recovered by Carmichael (" Carmina 
Gadelica," vol. II., p. 176) : " That cock which you have 
in the pot pounded as fine as cabbage, the liar shall not leave 
the tomb until it crows upon the beam." For the original 
and literal translation, see " Religious Songs of Connacht." 



Virgin gentle, courteous., gracious, 
Whose goodness, which my soul embraces, 
A shaft of light through time and space is 
To lead it into heavenly places. 

Thy Holy Son, the King of Angels, 
Suffered passion, wounds, estrangement, 
In satisfaction for the ailments 
Of the sins which here assail us. 

He was laid in the tomb at the will of the King, 

He died with pains unstinted, 
The blood of His heart on the point of the dart, 

And death on His cold face printed. 

At the door of the tomb was a stone of gloom, 

Not a hundred men could heave it, 
But an angel came from heaven like flame 

To raise it and to leave it. 

The Magdalen came, and she came in her haste 

To wash His wounds in a minute, 
She searched through the gloom of the rock-hewn tomb, — 

No trace of the Lord was in it. 

She saw by the wall the grave clothes all 

Lying empty there, and started, 
And timidly asked of the soldier guard, 

" Where has our Lord departed." 

" I was here," said the guard, " I kept watch and kept ward, 

Why seek ye the truth to smother ? 
I've a nice little cock who boils here in my pot — 

And the one is as dead as the other." 

" I've a nice little cock who boils here in my pot, 

While the camp looks on and sees us, 
And until the cock rises out of the pot, 

He never shall rise, your Jesus." 

With that the dead cock flew out of the pot, 

And clapped with his wings loud crowing, 
" Ochone " ! cried the man, and his features grew wan, 

" Then Jesus is up and doing." 


[Spake the Virgin.] 

" I sicken, I sigh, with longing I die, 

If ye show me not where to find Him, 
To put balm in the cuts and the stabs and the wounds, 

Wherewith in His side the}- signed Him." 

He is gone where are gone the Apostles, and soon 
In Galilee thou shalt find him. 

[Spake Christ.] 

By Peter my Church has been holily built 

With flame of faithful endeavour, 
Though the body be stricken the soul hath no guilt, — 

Confess ye My name for ever. 

Here is another melodious little piece about the two 
Marys which I got from my friend Miss Agnes O'Far- 
relly, who got it from a young gossoon in Inismaan, or 
in Aranmore, I do not know which. 


Uprose the two Marys, 

Two hours ere day, 
And they went to the temple 

To keene and to pray. 

There came in the angel 

With candle so bright, 
" All hail to thee, Mary," 

Said God full of light. 

" And dost thou forget it, 

Thy passion and pain, 
And dost thou forget it, 

Thy slaying by men ? 

" And dost thou forget it, 

The spear and the threat, 
Which no children of Adam 

Could ever forget ? " 
* * * * 

Remember me, children 

Of Adam and Eve, 
And the heavens of God 

Ye shall surely receive. 




An old woman named Bridget Casey, from near Baile- 
'dir-dha-abhainn or Riverstown, Co. Sligo, told this story 
to F. O'Conor in Athlone, from whom I got it. For the 
original see " Religious Songs of Connacht," vol. I, p. 192. 


At the time that St. Peter and our Saviour were walking 
the country, many was the marvel that his Master showed 
him, and if it had been another person who was in it 
and who had seen half as much, no doubt his confidence 
in his Master would have been stronger than that of 

One day they were entering a town, and there was a 
musician sitting half-drunk on the side of the road and he 
asking for alms. Our Saviour gave him a piece of money, 
going by of him. There came wonder on Peter at that, 
for he said to himself, " many's the poor man in great want 
that my Master refused, but now He has given alms to this 
drunken musician ; but perhaps," says he to himself, 
" perhaps He likes music." 

Our Saviour knew what was in Peter's mind, but he 
did not speak a word about it. 

ST. PETER. 8l 

On the next day they were journeying again, and a poor 
friar (sic) met them, and he bowed down with age and 
almost naked. He asked our Saviour for alms, but He 
took no notice of him, and did not answer his request. 

" There's another thing that's not right," said Peter in 
his own mind. He was afraid to speak to his Master about 
it, but he was losing his confidence in Him every day. 

The same evening they were approaching another 
village when a blind man met them and he asking alms. 
Our Saviour talked with him and said, " What do you 
want ? " " The price of a night's lodging, the price of 
something to eat, and as much as I shall want to-morrow : 
if you can give it to me you shall get great recompense, 
and recompense that is not to be found in this sorrowful 

" Good is your talk," said the Lord, " but you are only 
seeking to deceive me, you are in no want of the price of 
a lodging or of anything to eat, you have gold and silver 
in your pocket, and you ought to give thanks to God 
for your having enough to do you till [next] day." 

The blind man did not know that it was our Saviour 
who was talking to him, and he said to him, " It is not 
sermons but alms I'm asking for, I am certain that if you 
did know that there was gold or silver about me you would 
take it from me. Get off now, I don't want your talk." 

" Indeed you are a senseless man," said the Lord, " you 
will not have gold or silver long," and with that He 
left him. / 7 1 L> % 

St. Peter was listening to the discourse, and he had a 
wish to tell the blind man that it was our Saviour who was 
talking to him, but he got no opportunity. But there was 


another man listening when our Saviour said that the 
blind man had gold and silver. It was a wicked plun- 
derer who was in it, but he knew that our Saviour never 
told a lie. As soon as He and St. Peter were gone, the 
robber came to the blind man and said to him, " give 
me your gold and silver or I'll put a knife through your 

" I have no gold or silver," said the blind man, " if I 
had, I wouldn't be looking for alms." But, with that, the 
robber caught hold of him, put him under him, and took 
from him all he had. The blind man shouted and 
screamed as loud as he was able, and our Saviour and 
Peter heard him. 

" There's wrong being done to the blind man," said 

" Get treacherously and it will go the same way," said 
our Saviour, " not to speak of the Day of Judgment." 

" I understand you, there is nothing hid from you, 
Master," said Peter. 

The day after that they were journeying by a desert, 
and a greedy lion came out. " Now, Peter," said our 
Saviour, " you often said that you would lose your life for 
me, go now and give yourself to the lion, and I shall 
escape safe." 

Peter thought to himself and said, " I would sooner 
meet any other death than let a lion eat me ; we are 
swift-footed, and we can run from him, but if I see him 
coming up with us I'll remain behind, and you can escape 

" Let it be so," said our Saviour. 

ST. PETER. 83 

The lion gave a roar, and off and away with him after 
them, and it was not long till he was gaining on them and 
close up to them. 

1 Remain behind, Peter," said our Saviour, but Peter 
let on that he never heard a word, and went running out 
before his Master. The Lord turned round and said to 
the lion, " go back to the desert," and so he did. 

Peter looked behind him, and when he saw the lion 
going back, he stood till our Saviour came up with him. 

' Peter," said He, " you left me in danger, and — what 
was worse than that — you told lies." 

" I did that," said Peter, " because I knew that you have 
power over everything, not alone over the lion of the 

' Silence your mouth, and do not be telling lies ; you 
did not know, and if you were to see me in danger to- 
morrow you would forsake me again. I know the 
thoughts of your heart." 

" I never thought that you did anything that was not 
right," said Peter. 

" That is another lie," said our Saviour. " Do you not 
remember the day that I gave alms to the musician who 
was half drunk, there was wonder on you, and you said to 
yourself that many's the poor man in great want, whom I 
refused, and yet that I gave alms to a drunken man because 
I liked music. The day after that I refused the old friar, 
and you said that that was not right ; and the same 
evening you remember what happened about the blind 
man. I will explain to you now why I acted like that. 
That musician did more good than twenty friars of his 
sort since ever they were born. He saved a girl's soul 


from the pains of hell. She wanted a piece of money, 
and was going to commit a deadly sin to get it, but the 
musician prevented her and gave her the piece of money, 
though he himself was in want of a drink at the same time. 
As for the friar, he was not in want at all ; although he 
had the name of friar he was a limb of the devil, and that 
was why I paid him no heed. As for the blind man, his 
God was in his pocket, for the old word is true, ' where 
your store is your heart will be with it.' " 

A short time after that Peter said, " Master, you have a 
knowledge of the most lonesome thoughts in the heart of 
man, and from this moment out I submit to you in every- 

About a week after that they were travelling through 
hills and mountains, and they lost their way. With the 
fall of the night there came lightning, thunder, and heavy 
rain. The night was so dark they could not see a sheep's 
path. Peter fell against a rock and hurt his foot so badly 
that he was not able to walk a step. 

Our Saviour saw a little light under the foot of a hill, 
and he said to Peter, ' k remain where you are, and I will go 
for help to carry you." 

There is no help to be found in this wild place," 
said Peter, " and don't leave me here in danger by 

" Be it so," said our Saviour, and with that he gave a 
whistle, and there came four men ; and who was captain of 
them but the person who robbed the blind man a while 
before that ! He recognized our Saviour and Peter, and 
told his men to carry Peter carefully to the dwelling-place 

ST. PETER. 85 

they had among the hills. ' These two put gold and 
silver in my way a short time ago," said he. 

They carried Peter into a chamber under the ground. 
There was a fine fire in it, and they put the wounded 
man near it, and gave him a drink. He fell asleep, 
and our Saviour made the sign of the cross with his 
finger above the wound, and when he awoke he was 
able to walk as well as ever. There was wonder on 
him when he awoke, and he asked " what happened to 
him." Our Saviour told him each thing and how it 

" I thought," said Peter, " that I was dead, and that I 
was up at the gate of heaven, but I could not get in, for 
the door was shut, and there was no doorkeeper to be 

' It was a vision you had," said our Saviour, " but it is 
true. Heaven is shut and is not to be opened until I die 
for the sin of the human race who put anger on My Father. 
It is not a common but a shameful death I shall get, but I 
shall rise again gloriously and open the heaven that was 
shut, and you shall be doorkeeper." 

" Ora ! Master," said Peter, " it cannot be that you 
would get a shameful death. Would you not allow me to 
die for you ? I am ready and willing." 

" You think that," said our Saviour. 

The time came when our Saviour was to get death. The 
evening before that He Himself and His twelve disciples 
were at supper, when He said, " There is a man of you 
going to betray Me." There was great trouble on them, 
and each one of them said, " Am I he ? ' But He said, 


" He who dips with his hand in the dish with Me, he is the 
man who shall betray Me." 

Peter said then, " If the whole world were against you," 
said he, "I will not be against you." But our Saviour 
said to him, " Before the cock crows to-night you will 
reneague (deny) Me three times." 

' I would die before I would reneague you," said 
Peter ; " indeed I shall not reneague you." 

When death-judgment was passed upon our Saviour, 
His enemies were beating Him and spitting on Him. 
Peter was outside in the court, when there came a servant- 
girl to him and said to him, " You were with Jesus." 
" I don't know," says Peter, " what you are saying." 

Then when he was going out the gate another girl said, 
' There's a man who was with Jesus," but he took his oath 
that he had no knowledge at all of Him. Then some of the 
people who were listening said, " There is no doubt at all 
but you were with Him ; we know it by your talk." He 
took the great oaths, then, that he was not with Him. And 
on the spot the cock crew, and then he remembered the 
words our Saviour said, and he wept the tears of repen- 
tance, and he found forgiveness from Him whom he 
denied. He has the kevs of heaven now, and if we shed 
the tears of repentance for our faults, as he shed them, 
we shall find forgiveness as he found it, and he will wel- 
come us with a hundred thousand welcomes when we 
go to the door of heaven. 



I wrote down the following legend of St. Deglan, word 
for word, in Irish, from the telling of my friend, Padraig 
O'Dalaigh, who comes himself from the Decies. 


When Deglan was leaving Rome he held his bell in 
his hand, but as he was going into the ship he left the bell 
upon a rock that was by the harbour, and forgot to bring 
it with him. The ship put out to sea, with the bell 
left on the rock behind it. 

When Deglan was coming near Ireland he remembered 
the bell, and knew that he had left it on the rock behind 
him in Rome. Old people say that long ago there used 
not to be much good in " a cleric without a bell." J 
Deglan knew that he would want the bell when he 
would land in Ireland, and he prayed God to send it to 

At the end of a little time what should be seen swimming 
behind the ship but the rock and the bell on it, just as 

1 " A cleric without a bell," and " the forgetting his bell by 
the cleric," are common proverbs in Irish. 


Deglan had left it at Rome. And when the vessel came 
to land, then the stone came into the harbour at Ardmore, 
and the stone comes up on the shore, and it is there yet. 
The stone is set high up on the top of two smaller stones, 
and room between the two for a man to pass out under 
them. If you were to see the hole you would feel certain 
that even a cat could not pass out through it, and yet a 
big man can pass through. 

Every Deglan's Day, the 24th of July, and the Sunday 
nearest to it, thousands of people come from all over 
the Decies, from twenty miles away, to the " pattern," 
and anyone who has anything the matter with him, 
either disease or pain or sickness, goes in under that 
stone, and believes firmly in his mind that he will be 
healed. Hundreds do that yet, up to the present day. 

About fifteen years ago the " pattern" was growing 
small and dying out, but a feis, the second feis in 
Ireland [in modern times] was held on Deglan's Sunday, 
and thousands and thousands of people came to it, and 
there had not been such a " pattern " for fifty years. 
I myself have often seen people passing under the stones. 

Every second person in the " seana-phoball," and in 
the parish of Ardmore also, is called Deglan down to the 
present day. Scarcely a month passes that a child is not 
christened Deglan. The explanation that the people 
give of the name of the parish called " Seana-phoball," 
or Old Parish, is that Deglan had made a parish of it 
and that there were Christians there before there was 
a parish, or before there were Christians in any other 
place in Ireland, and " old phoball" is the same as " old 
paroiste " or parish. 


[The above story is the folk version of part of the 
following, which is here translated for the first time from 
an Irish MS. in my own possession. St. Deglan's church 
is spoken of in the MS. as still standing, and his miracu- 
lous stone as being still preserved there when the account 
was written. This throws back the account many hun- 
dreds of years. I collated my MS. carefully with one 
written in 1758 [23 M 50], preserved in R.I.A. It has 
never been printed, but I believe my friend, Father Power, 
will soon publish the entire life of St. Deglan.] 

Of How Tramore Got Its Name. 

And the people of the island concealed the ship so that 
Deglan could not embark on it, for they disliked it greatly 
that Deglan should inhabit it, for fear they themselves 
might be banished out of it. 

His disciples then said to Deglan, " Father, thou often 
requirest to come to this place. We pray thee to avoid 
it, and mayest thou receive from God that the sea should 
ebb away from the land so that people may go into it 
with dry feet, for Christ has said that whatever shall 
be asked of My Father in My name He shall give it you, 
for it is not easy for thou to inhabit this place or to protect 

And Deglan said, " This place which was promised 
me by God and where my burial was promised, how 
shall I be able to avoid it ? But concerning this thing 
which ye desire me to do, namely, to inhabit it, I like not 
to pray against the will of God concerning the taking 
away from the sea its own natural movement ; howso- 


ever, at your entreaty I shall direct my petition to God, 
and whatsoever pleases God, let it be done." 

Deglan's disciples arose, and they said, " take thy staff 
as Moses did with the rod, and smite the sea with it, and 
God shall make manifest His own will to thee in that 
wise," and his disciples besought him to do that, for they 
were faithful people. His staff was [accordingly] given 
into Deglan's hand, and he smote the water with it in the 
name of the Trinity, and he made the sign of the cross of 
crucifixion with it on the water, and quickly the sea 
began to move out of his own place — so quickly that it 
was scarcely the swift monsters 1 of the sea could keep 
pace with it by swimming, and it left many of them on 
the shore high and dry, who were not able to depart with 
the sea on account of the rapidity with which it moved. 
And Deglan followed the sea with his crozier in his 
hand, and his disciples followed him, and there was a 
cry and a great sounding from the sea and from the 
monsters departing. And when Deglan reached the 
place where Tarmuin-na-mara is now, a young child 
of Deglan's disciples by the name of Mainchin spake, he 
being terrified at the noises of the sea and at the roaring 
of the unknown monsters with their mouths open, follow- 
ing the water. " Father," said he, " thou hast displaced 
the sea enough, for I am afraid of yonder awful monsters." 
At the word of the child the sea stopped. And Deglan 
did not like that, and he struck a light blow on his nose, 
and three drops of blood dropped from him to the ground 
under Deglan's feet in three places. And Deglan blessed 

1 Biastaide luathe na mara. 


the nose, and the blood ceased suddenly. And Deglan said, 
"it is not I who have removed the sea but the power of 
God, and it would have removed it further had it not 
been for the words thou spakest." And in the place where 
those drops of blood fell, three little wells of sweet shining 
water burst forth from them under the feet of Deglan. 
And those wells are still there. And they are seldom 
[without ?] that colour of blood upon them as a remem- 
brance of those miracles. And there is a mile in length 
and in breadth around them, and the name of it is " the 
tramore," or " great shore," and good and profitable 
is the land of Tramore, and there was [built] Deglan's 
monastery. And the crozier that Deglan had in his 
hand, when performing that miracle, its name was 
" Feardhacht Deglan." We shall say something more 
about its miracles in another place. 

Of How Ardmore Got Its Name, and of 

St. Deglan's Stone. 

Deglan proceeded to say mass in a church that lay 
before him in his way, and a small black stone was sent 
from heaven through the window of the church to him, 
and it remained on the altar in his presence. Great 
joy seized Deglan at beholding it, and he gave praise and 
glory to God for it. Now his mind was firmly set 
against ill ways and the unreason of the heathen after 
the possession of the stone, and he gave that stone to 
Lunan, son of the King of the Romans, who was in his 
company, to keep and to carry for him. And the name 


of that stone was Bobhur in Ireland, 1 namely Deglan's 
" Duibhin " (or little black thing) and it was from its 
colour it received that name, for by its colour it was 
black, and it revealed [things] by the grace of God, 
and Deglan performed many miracles [by it], and it 
remains to this day in Deglan's church 

and on one of these occasions (a visit to Rome) he went 
to a holy bishop of the Britons named David, to the 
church which is called Cillmhin [Killveen], which is 
beside the shore of the sea which divides Britain from 
Ireland. And the bishop received him with honour, and 
he was for forty days in his society, with love and joy, and 
he used to say mass each day there, and they knit them- 
selves together with bonds of brotherhood and partner- 
ship, and [they bound] the people of the place after them. 
And on his completing forty days there, they parted with 
salutation, and he said farewell to David and gave him 
a kiss in token of peace. And he himself and his disciples 
went to the shore of the sea to go into the ship to go to 
Ireland. And that stone I spake of, which was sent to 
Deglan from heaven, a monk was carrying it at the time ; 
for Deglan was unwilling ever to part with it, and it 
used always to be in his company. And when they came 
from the shore into the ship the monk had forgotten it, 
[and left it] on a rock which was on the shore. And until 
they had gone about half way over the sea they never 
remembered it. And when they did remember it 
Deglan was melancholy, and so was every one else, 

1 This passage about Bobhur is not in the R.I. A. copy, only the 
part about the Duibhin. 


after the gift, which had come down from heaven to 
Deglan, being forgotten in a place from which they never 
thought to get it back. Deglan looked above his head to 
heaven, and clearly prayed to God in his mind. And then 
he said to his disciples, " lay aside your melancholy, 
for God who made a gift of that stone from heaven at 
the first can now send it to us in an unusual ship." 
Wonderful and splendid it was that the rock without 
understanding or reason submitted to the Creator 
contrary to nature, for it swam directly after the ship, 
with the stone on it, and it was not long until Deglan 
and his disciples saw the rock after them, and the stone 
upon it. And when Deglan's people beheld that miracle, 
they were filled with the love of God and with honour 
for their master, Deglan. And Deglan spake prophe- 
tically : " Let the stone go on in front of you, and follow 
ye it, for whatsoever harbour it shall arrive at, it is near it 
that my city shall be, and my house and bishoprick, 1 
and it is from that place I shall go to God's heaven, and 
it is there that my resurrection shall be." And the stone 
went out past the ship, and ceased the great pace at which 
it had proceeded up to then, and remained a little in 
advance of the ship, so that it could be seen from on 
board the ship, yet in such wise that the ship might not 
overtake it. And the rock steered for Ireland so that 
it took harbour in the south, in the Decies, at an island 
that was at that time called Ard-Innis Caerach, or High 
Island of the Sheep, and the ship took the same harbour, 
as Deglan had told them. 

1 Mo chathair si agus mo thigheas easbogoidheacht in my MS 
*' Mo theaghdhais easbogoideachta " 23 M 50. 1758. 


Deglan, that holy man, went on shore, and he gave 
praise and glory and thanks to God because that he had 
reached the place of his resurrection on that island, where 
the sheep of the king of the Deise used to be kept usually 
and herded. And there was a pleasant high hill on it. 
And one of his disciples said to Deglan on going to the 
top of that hill " how shall this Ard beag (Little Height) 
support thy people." 

" Beloved son," said Deglan, " say not so. This 
is no Little Height, but an Ard Mor (Great Height)," 
and the name has clung to it ever since, namely Ardmore 
of Deglan. 






I took the following very curious account from an Irish 
MS. a couple of hundred years old, which had been thrown 
away on a loft in a farm house in the County Meath before 
I secured it. There are other copies of this story in the 
Royal Irish Academy, and a fragment in the library of 
University College, Dublin, but mine is the best copy I 
have met. There is no other version, so far as I know, 
of St. Paul's Vision that is at all like this. The Vision was 
at one time well known in Europe. It was at first, according 
to Tischendorf, probably composed in Greek, and there is a 
version of it in Syrian and another in Latin. The story is 
also found in old High German, in Danish, French and 
Slavonic. The best and longest Latin version is to be 
found in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris, but there is 
not a word in it, nor in the Greek, nor in the Syrian, of the 
driving of the soul out of the body, or of the angel Michael's 
guiding St. Paul to the bedside of the dying man. As it 
is unlikely that some Irish Gael composed all this out of his 
own head, I can only surmise that it is a translation of a 
Latin or Greek original now lost, and that the story now sur- 
vives through its translation into Irish alone. 

We know that the Irish have saved for us several pieces 
of an apocryphal or mystic character, whose originals are 


now lost, such as the extraordinary piece called the " Ever- 
new Tongue/' and the " Vision of Tundal." 

This story contains a close resemblance to the " Debate 
between the Body and the Soul/' which is usually known 
as the " Visio Philaberti/' ascribed to Walter Mapes, or 
Map, or else to Walter Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, and 
of which a kind of middle Irish version exists in the " Lea- 
bhar Breac " and was published by Atkinson in his " Passions 
and Homilies." Another imperfect version was published 
by Dottin in the " Revue Celtique/' 1903. My MS. 
from which I have taken this Vision of St. Paul's contains 
an excellent copy of it also. Almost all the Irish copies 
ascribe it to Grosseteste. 

The longest Latin version of this Vision contains 51 
chapters or sections, and deals with St. Paul's account of 
Paradise and his other wanderings, as well as with the 
infernal regions. 

There is a " Passion of St. Paul " in the Leabhar Breac, or 
Speckled Book, but there is not a word about this Vision 
in it. I found an account of St. Paul in another Irish 
MS., probably taken from some lost source. " A small, 
miserable-looking person was the apostle Paul. Broad 
shoulders he had ; a white face with a sedate demeanour. 
His head small. Pleasant bright eyes he had. Long 
brows, a projecting (?) nose and a long beard with a little 
grey hair." 

The horrid description of the soul leaving the body with 
such reluctance has a curious Pagan parallel in an exactly 
reverse sense in Lucan's Pharsalia, Book vi., 721, in the dread- 
ful account of the sorceress conjuring back a soul into the 
dead body, and its reluctance to enter it. " Adspicit adstan- 
tem projecti corporis umbram Exanimes artus, invisaque 
claustra timentem, Carceris antiqui : pavet ire in pectus 
apertum, Visceraque, et ruptas letali vulnere nbras. Ah 
miser extremum qui mortis munus iniquae, Eripitur non 
posse mori, etc. 

The mediaeval Irish translator of the Pharsalia revelled 
in this sorceress episode. 

For the original of the following piece, see " Religious 
Songs of Connacht," vol. II. 



The Apostle Paul, upon a certain time, chanced to be in 
a city of the name of Smyrna, in the land of Syria. And 
this is how Paul was, namely, making intercession with 
God, the all-powerful, to reveal to him something of the 
pains of hell, so that all the more for receiving that revel- 
ation, he might perform the will of God, and give in- 
struction to the congregations. And, as he was beseeching 
God in this wise, there cometh unto him a youth, and he 
asketh Paul to go with him, to confirm in his faith a man 
who was at the point of death. Paul departed along with the 
youth to the place where was the sick man, and him they 
found before them struggling with the Death. Now 
this is the manner wherein the soul parteth from the 
body — as saith St. Bernard, one of the arch-doctors 
of the Trinity. He saith that the Death cometh in a cold, 
unrecognisable, insufferable shape, stabbing the body 
with spits and arrows. And first it cometh into the outer 
members, namely the centre of the soles of the feet, and 
of the palms of the hands, in the veins, and in every other 
member of the body, until it hunt the noble soul before it 
out of every member of the body, even as the fisherman 
routeth the fish under the hollows of the banks (?) 
to the weedy-place (?) in which the net is set to catch 
them. Even so doth the Death, routing before it the 
soul into the heart — the first member of a person to be 
alive, and the last member to die. 

But, howsoever, upon the coming of Paul and of the 
messenger to the sick man, they perceived how he himself 



and the Death were struggling with one another, and that 
the Death was after taking possession of all the body, 
except that the soul was in the lower chamber of the 
heart, striving to conceal itself from the Death. But that 
was in vain for it, for when Death came to the heart, he 
began ploughing and boring the heart, for he felt certain 
that it was there the soul was. But when the soul felt 
its enemy and adversary the Death close to it, it thought 
to leave the body and to come forth out of the mouth, 
since it found no dwelling place nor shelter in the body. 
But it is what it finds before itself there, a frightful 
fearsome host of black, ugly-coloured devils, and fiery 
flames full of stench, and a loathsome, insufferable, evil 
smell coming forth out of their mouths, and each one of 
them watching with fierceness for the soul to come 
forth out of the mouth and out of the body, for it was in a 
state of damnation, without repentance, that this sinner 
was dying. And when the poor soul beheld this devilish 
guard in front of it, the soul returned fearful (?) and quak- 
ing and cometh into the passage of the nose and thought 
to come out there. But it beholds the same host before 
it. It returneth full of weariness and misery and goeth 
to the eyes, but it is what it findeth there before it — many 
black, ugly-coloured devils with fiery flames out of their 
mouths and gullets, and each of them saying, " What 
is this delay of Death's that he routeth not out to us this 
damned soul forth from the greedy body in which it is, 
till we bear it with us to its own abode — a place where there 
is darkness and eternal pain for ever and ever as its evil 
deeds have deserved [that were wrought] during the time 
that it was its own master ? " And on the poor soul's 


hearing these words it screamed and cried feebly, and 
wept tearfully, sorrowfully, and with bitter weariness, for 
it recognised then that it was parted from the eternal life 
for ever and ever, and it turns back again to the hollows 
of the ears, where it thought to find a way out, but it is 
what it finds there before it many loathly worms and evil- 
shaped terrific serpents of various kinds. When the soul 
saw that, it returned back to the heart, for it desired to 
go, as it seemed to it, into hiding, but it found Death 
before it there, ploughing and boring the heart. Then 
the soul considered that it had no escape on any side. 
It despaired of God and of the whole angelic court, and 
it went aloft to the crown of the head. It goes out and 
leaves the body and settles on the top of the head. It 
looks down at that tomb where it had been — namelv, the 
body — and said, " Oh ! all-powerful God ! is it possible 
that this is the body wherein I was for a brief [space of] 
happiness ; and if it is, where has gone the blue clear- 
seeing eye, or the crimson cheek ? 'Tis what I behold 
in place of the eyes — hollow dry cavities sucked back 
into the hollow of the skull ; the ruddy handsome cheek 
now dark and beetle-hued ; the mouth that was to-day 
red and shapely now closed, not to be opened, livid, 
hideous, without talk, without speech ; and oh ! all- 
powerful God ! alas for him who was deceived by 
the companion at the raising (?) of the body's strength, 
power, pride, and spirit, which was begotten and which 
was alive, and whose share of gold and treasures was 
great ; but I do not see one thing of all that in his pos- 
session now, nor advantaging nor comforting him at all ; 
but I see that it is ill he spent the gifts that God gave 


him, and that on account of this he has damned me for 

The body spake, and said : " If it were not for thee 
these devilish furious hosts would not come to claim me 
now. For this is how thou wast when thou wast bound 
to me ; thou wast an active, most powerful spirit, full of 
understanding and of feeling, and of clear intellect, of 
nobility and of honour ; thou didst recognise between 
evil and good ; whilst I was nothing but a fistful of clay, 
without beauty or strength, or feeling, or sense, or 
understanding, or power, or guidance, or movement, 
or sight, or hearing, until thou wast bound to me, 
and for that reason it is thou who art guilty and 
not I," 

" Thou greedy, carnal, unsubduable worm, all thou 
say est is not true, for I was a clean, glorious spirit," said 
the soul, " who had no necessity for food or clothing or 
for anything at all, of all that is on the earth, but the joy of 
holy life, until I was bound to thee. And this is why I 
was bound to thee, for thee to spend the activity of thy 
feet, the labour of thy hands, the sight of thy eyes, the 
hearing of thy ears, the speech of thy mouth, the thoughts 
of thy heart, and every other gift that God gave thee, 
so as to do ministering, to make submission, and to 
perform every other service to glorious God throughout 
thy period on this world, so that after that I and thou might 
find the fruit of those good deeds in the enjoyment of 
eternal glory in the company of God and of the Blessed 
Virgin Mary, and of all the angelic heavenly court, where 
cometh everyone who has done good deeds, such as 
fasting, alms-giving, prayers, acts of friendship to a 


neighbour, listening willingly to the words of God, 
and acting accordingly ; and who used not to refuse to 
relieve the necessity of the poor, and the like. But those 
are not the things that thou didst, but spending the gifts 
God gave with gluttony, drunkenness, adultery, pride, 
arrogance, greed ; with the ruin of thy neighbour's 
portion ; with lies, noisiness (?) anger, quarrelling, back- 
biting, folly, pitilessness, injustice, wrath, sloth, envy, 
lechery, with the spoil of the poor, and with every other 
sort of sin that the human body thought pleasant ; and lo ! 
what fruit hast thou for those misdeeds. Dead and feeble 
are thy limbs which were once active and strong ; closed 
is the mouth wherewith thou didst use to hold unlawful 
discourse ; weak is the tongue wherewith thou wast wont 
to utter obscene barbarous words, giving ill-fame, re- 
proach, disrespect, shame, contempt, displeasure, and every 
other sort [of evil] that thy thoughts and intellect could 
bring to mind. Deaf is the ear that used to listen with 
pleasure to murmurings, to scandal, to the back-biting 
of neighbours. Blind and hollow is the eye that used to 
look with greed, partiality, and malice. There is no 
fairness nor beauty in the hand on whose fingers the gems 
used to be. I see them not on thee now. And, more- 
over, I see not the gold nor the silver nor the various 
other goods which thou didst get by defrauding, which 
thou didst rob, which thou gottest from the weak, from the 
orphan, and from the miserable, with deceptions and ill- 
will. They are now in the possession of other people, 
and not one thing of them doing good to thee, but [doing] 
every evil that is possible to reckon. And, therefore, 
O greedy, lustful body, most unsubduable worm that God 


ever created, it is thou art most guilty and not I" said 
the soul. 

After the soul uttering those words miserably and 
wearily, an evil spirit of that damned host that was waiting 
to get the soul into its own possession spake, and said : 
" It is a wonder how long Death is without routing this 
damned soul to us forth out of the body." 

Another devil answered him and spake : " It is not 
possible for us to possess it or to take it until Jesus Christ 
pass judgment upon it first, according to its actions, bad 
and good. However, its possession for ever is ours ; for 
ever, because it was to us it did service and ministry whilst 
it was living, and ours is the possession of soul and 
body from the day of the last judgment for ever." 
. After the devils speaking these words, a shining, happy 
host of the angels of heaven lowered themselves, with 
singing of music, round about the body, and in their 
midst a Youth more glorious than the sun. Many awful, 
wide-opened wounds in His skin, and they dripping blood. 
The Youth spake to the dead, and asked him how he had 
spent the life that he got, or the gifts that God gave him. 
The body answered and said: " O Jesus Christ, O Lamb, 
Son of God, I am not able to deny it, that it was ill I 
spent my time and the gifts that I got ; that Thou didst 
suffer passion-pains and death on my behalf, and that 
I paid no regard to that, and therefore I am myself 
admitting that Thou hast no power (from the true 
right of Thy divinity, and from the plentifulness of my 
evil deeds, since I did not make repentance of them either 
early or late) not to pass judgment damning me now. 
And alas ! now I see the wrong, the loss, and the harm, 


of the neglect I was guilty of, in putting off repentance, 
until Thy messenger, the Death, came to me, and, my 
grief ! I was not prepared for him, and, moreover, I got 
no respite when he came, until he destroyed me — and 
that is my account of my life, and indeed it is more evil 
than it is good." 

" Well, then," said the Youth on whom were the 
wounds, " all that thou hast committed of faults and of 
evil deeds throughout thy life, if thou wert to make true 
repentance from thy heart of them, I would make thee as 
clean as the sun, and I would place thee in the company 
of the angels and of the saints, enjoying everlasting 
glory, and the devilish host which is waiting for thee 
would have no power nor might over thee. But since 
thou hast not done that, it is necessary to pass 
judgment upon thee according to thy deeds, bad and 

Then there came each one of the demon host that was 
waiting for the poor soul, and a roll of dark black parch- 
ment in the hand of each of them, in which was written 
all that the dead man had done in the service of the devil. 
On the Saviour Jesus Christ perceiving that, it was what 
He said, " Take with you this damned soul to hell, to pain 
it till the day of the general judgment, and from that out 
ye shall have the body as well as the soul, enduring 
eternal pains." 

Then came the devilish host that was waiting for the 
soul. They drew the poor soul with fiery crooks, and 
they made of it a lump of fire, and they were hunting it 
before them to hell, and it calling and crying out faintly 
and fearfully. 


Paul the Apostle was observing each thing of those, 
because it was God who had sent His messenger to him, 
so that he might get a view of the person who led a bad 
life, at the point of death, according to the prayer he had 
made. Then, upon the departure of the accursed host 
and of the soul out of sight, Paul cried aloud, weeping and 
lamenting, to get a sight of the end that was being brought 
upon the soul. Then the messenger asked Paul did he 
desire to get a sight of the pains of that soul and of the 
other damned souls. " I should so desire," said Paul, 
" if it were God's will." " Well, then," said the messen- 
ger, " I will give thee a sight of them, for I am not a man 
of this earth, but an angel that God has sent to thee to 
show thee these things, and I am Michael the Arch- 
Angel," said he. 

After these words the angel brought him to the brink of 
a valley that was stupendous for depth and fearfulness. 
Paul beheld, amongst the first things there, a great, dark, 
frightful river. Blacker than coal was its appearance, and 
jet black the bubbling terrible water that was in it, so that 
one puff alone of the venemous wind that used to come 
out of it would kill all the men and women of the world — 
were it not for the Spirit of God succouring them it would 
split stones and trees — and he beheld many loathly 
worms and snakes, and devils of divers shapes in it, 
raging, beating, gnawing (?), and bone-cutting one ano- 
ther ; cursing the day in which they were born or were 
created. And on the other opposite side of the river there 
was a dark cave in which were many damned souls scream- 
ing (?) ; being bound (?) and lashed. And some of them 
were in this wise, sitting on the fiery hearth of pains ; 


many black, ugly-shaped devils serving and administering 
the insufferable pains to them, such as fiery flames, 
sharp and hurting (?), and the devils tossing them and 
turning them (?) with sharp-pointed spits in those flames. 
And there was a resting- lake (?) of very cold ice, full of 
venom, into which the damned souls used to leap, seeking 
cooling and comfort from the sharp goading of the fire. 
However, no sooner would they go to the lake than they 
would leap out of it again into the fire, by reason of its 
cold, and of the sharp venom that was in the water, 
and here are the words some of them would say : — " O 
all-powerful God, is there any redemption or help in 
store for us, or shall we be for ever in these pains, or in 
what place is Death that he cometh not unto us to put us 
into nothingness, so that we might find a sleep, on our 
being dead ? " Another spirit of them answered and 
said : " O accursed, devilish, damned spirits," said he, 
" there is no help nor redemption laid out for you for 
ever and ever, because this is the end your misdeeds 
deserved whilst ye were in life, with pride, with haughtiness, 
with gluttony, with inordinate desire, and with every 
other sort of sin. Ye have spent the gifts that God gave 
you, namely feeling, beauty, strength, airiness (?), 
happiness, the sight of the eyes, the hearing of the 
ears, the speaking of the mouth, the movement of the 
limbs, and all those [given] to do the service of God. 
However, what ye have done was to spend them in the 
service of the devil, and it is he who shall give you your 
wages in pains, without help or relief, for ever and ever." 
" Knowest thou, O Paul," said the angel, " who they 
are who are pained like this ? " 


" I know not," said Paul, " but it is on them are the 
hardships impossible to count-up or to show-forth." 

" There," said the angel, " are the people of haugh- 
tiness and pride, who used to be bruising-to-pieces the 
poor, who gave themselves up to drinking and the evil 
desires of the world. Yon devils are beating them, and 
ministering to them eternal pains, and they shall be so 
for ever and ever, in eric for their misdeeds." 

Paul beheld another band upon the fiery hearth of pains, 
many loathsome beetle- worms and serpents gnawing and 
bone-cutting each member of them ; some of the worms 
going into their mouths and their necks and coming out on 
their ears, and the spirits themselves collecting and drawing 
those devils and those loathsome reptiles to themselves. 

" Knowest thou, O Paul," said the angel, " what people 
are pained like this ? " 

" I know not," said Paul. 

" Those," said the angel, " are the people of adultery 
and disgusting lust ; and in eric for the fair-coloured, 
gaudy clothes that they used to put upon themselves, both 
men and women, deceiving one another, those devils 
are for ever gnawing, overthrowing, and bone-cutting 

Paul beheld another lot upon the fiery hearth of hell. 
Great mountains of fire on every side of them, many ill- 
shaped devils throwing down those mountains upon the 
very top of them, bruising them together and bitter-urging 
them for ever. 

" Knowest thou, O Paul," said the angel, " what people 
are pained like this ? ' ; 


" I know not," said Paul. 

" Those/' said the angel, " are the people of greed, the 
lot who store and gather their neighbours' portion unlaw- 
fully, who used not to show mercy or give alms or act with 
humanity to the poor, and who used to oppress the 

Paul saw another lot of people on the fiery hearth of 
pains, ever-hideous devils, their eyes straying in their 
heads, being pained and bitter-tortured, and being 
tightened with fiery chains. 

" Knowest thou, O Paul," said the angel, " what 
people are pained like this ? " 

" I know not," said Paul. 

" Those are the people of envy, the lot who used to be 
tortured and burnt with envy and with jealousy when they 
used to see their neighbours' goods or possessions, and 
who would not be satisfied with the gifts that God would 
give themselves — and in eric for that they shall be tor- 
tured in this way for ever." 

Paul beheld another band upon the hearth of fiery pains, 
up to their chins in cold frosty water of the colour of coal. 
More stinking was that water than a dead carcase after 
corruption. Many reptiles, swimming before them in 
that water, they being tortured with famine and with 
thirst, their mouths opened, crying for food and drink, 
it set before them, without its being in their power to 
taste it, for as often as they would make an attempt 
it used to remove farther from them. 

" Knowest thou, O Paul," said the angel, " what people 
are pained like this ? " 


" I know not," said Paul. 

" Those are the people of gluttony, the people who 
never fasted nor abstained nor gave alms nor said prayers, 
who used to be eating and drinking forbidden food and 
drink, who used to give to the body its own satisfaction, 
with drunkenness, gluttony and lust, and never checked 
the want of the poor." 

Paul beheld another band upon the hearth of fiery 
pains, and this is how that lot were, with fiery flames out 
of their mouths and gullets. An evil disgusting, in- 
sufferable smell upon that flame. Their eyes ghastly 
wandering, straying in their heads ; they pulling one 
another and beating one another like fully famished lions. 

" Knowest thou, O Paul," said the angel, " what people 
are pained like that ? " 

" I know not," said Paul. 

" Those are the people of anger, of disobedience and 
of despair. They shall be thus for ever and ever." 

Paul beheld another lot very cold and dark, upon the 
hearth of pains, bound with chains upon their narrow 
beds, bruised and tortured and tightened in bondage by 
those chains, full of foulness and of evil disgusting smell, 
and every pain that it is possible to think of. 

" What people are those ? " said Paul. 

" Those," said the angel, " are the people of sloth who 
used to remain away from Mass, from sermons, and from 
the service of God. Through sloth they used to neglect 
and disregard good deeds, and alas for him who is 
journeying towards that kingdom," said the angel, " for 
that is the habitation of the fiery pains and of the misery, 


the lake of cold, the prison of gall, the cave of darkness, 
the congregation of curses, the hearth of anger, the ford 
of snow, the captivity of sloth, the abode of misery, the 
dungeon of venom, the court of dispute, the war of the 
damned devils, the lake and the sea that is filled with 
wrath, with want, with envy, with covetous desire, with 
jealousy, and with all evil. Uch hone y uch ! Alas for 
him who is journeying to it." 

Howsoever, the angel showed Paul, at full length and 
completely, the pains of hell. And, on Paul's beholding 
all that, with the grace of God, and with the help of the 
angel, he gave thanks to God for receiving that vision, 
and he fell to thinking bitterly about the numbers of 
people on the world who were journeying to those pains. 
Then the angel led Paul from the clouds of hell until he 
gave him a sight of the glory of the heaven of God. And, 
on Paul's beholding that sight, no sorrow of all he had 
had in his life oppressed him. He beheld the entire glory 
of the heavenly palace. He beheld our Saviour Jesus 
Christ in the midst of the angels on His throne, and the 
Lord gave Paul a gentle, friendly welcome, and told 
him that it was a short time until he should come to 
eternal glory. Then the angel took Paul with him from 
the sight of the glory [of heaven] , and left him in the place 
where he had found him at first, bade him farewell, 
and departed to heaven. 

Paul was throughout his life teaching and preaching to 
the congregations and to the Gentiles about the glory of 
the heavens and the pains of hell. 

Glory be to the living God ! 




I wrote down the following story from the mouth of 
John Cunningham of Ballinphuill, Co. Roscommon, on the 
high road between Frenchpark and Ballaghaderreen, about 
twenty years ago. Oscar's flail is well known in Irish 
tradition. The poet O'Kelly, in his series of English curses 
on Doneraile, alludes to it — 

May Oscar with his fiery flail 
To pieces dash all Doneraile. 

Mr. Stephen Gwynn, M.P., found a variant of this 
story in Donegal and has given a spirited poetic version 
of it. The story is also known in Waterford. It is pro- 
bably spread all over the lands occupied by the Gael, and 
contains elements that are exceedingly old. The very 
verses about " the humming gnat or the scintilla of a beam 
of the sun " which I wrote down from the mouth of old 
John Cunningham in the Co. Roscommon, had been already 
jotted down in phonetics by Magregor, the Dean of Lismore, 
in Argyllshire in the year 1512. I printed the whole story 
with a French translation and introduction in the " Revue 
Celtique," vol. 13, p. 425, showing how in the Tripartite life 
of St. Patrick the story of piercing a penitent's foot is told 
of a son of the King of Munster. But, as his name was 
doubtless soon forgotten, the story got fathered upon 

The story had its rise, no doubt, in the sorrow felt by the 
people when the clerics told them that their beloved Fenians 
and Oisin and Finn were damned, and the story was probably 
invented by some clever person to save them from perdition. 
There are scores of MSS. which contain disputes between 


St. Patrick and Oisin, or Ossian as the vScotch call him, 
on this very subject. See " Religious Songs of Connacht," 
vol. I., p. 209. For the allusion to Klphin, see the poem 
which follows. 


Saint Patrick came to Ireland, and Oisin met him in 
Elphin and he carrying stones. 

And whatever time it might be that he got the food, 
It would be long again till he would get the drink. 

" Oisin," says he, " let me baptize you." 

' Oh, what good would that do me ? " says Oisin. 

" Oisin," says St. Patrick, " unless you let me baptize 
you, you will go to hell where the rest of the Fenians are." 

" If," says Oisin, " Diarmaid and Goll were alive for 
us, and the king that w r as over the Fenians, if they were 
to go to hell they would bring the devil and his forge up 
out of it on their back." 

" Listen, O gray and senseless Oisin, think upon God, 
and bow your knee, and let me baptize you." 

' Patrick," says Oisin, " for what did God damn all 
that of people ? " 

' For eating the apple of commandment," says St. 

" If I had known that your God was so narrow-sighted 
that he damned all that of people for one apple, we would 
have sent three horses and a mule carrying apples to God's 
heaven to Him." 

" Listen, O gray and senseless Oisin, think upon God, 
and bow your knee, and let me baptize you. 


Oisin fell into a faint, and the clergy thought that he 
had died. When he woke up out of it, " O Patrick, 
baptize me," says he — he saw something in his faint, he 
saw the thing that was before him. The spear was in 
St. Patrick's hand, and he thrust it into Oisin's foot 
purposely ; and the ground was red with his share of 

" Oh," says St. Patrick to Oisin, " you are greatly 

" Oh, isn't that for my baptism ? " says Oisin. 

" I hope in God that you are saved," says St. Patrick, 
" you have undergone baptism and . . . . ?" 

" Patrick," says Oisin, " would you not be able to take 
the Fenians out of hell " — he saw them there when he 
was in his sleep. 

" I could not," says St. Patrick, " and any one who is in 
hell, it is impossible to bring him out of it." 

" Patrick," says Oisin, " are you able to take me to the 
place where Finn and the Fenians of Erin are ? ' 

" I cannot," says St. Patrick. 

As much as the humming gnat 
Or a scintilla of the beam of the sun, 
Unknown to the great powerful king 
Shall not pass in beneath my shield. 

" Can you give them relief from the pain ? " says Oisin. 

St. Patrick then asked it as a petition from God to give 
them a relief from their pain, and he said to Oisin that 
they had found relief. This is the relief they got from 
God. Oscar got a flail, and he requested a fresh thong 
to be put into the flail, and there went a green rush as a 
thong into it, and he got the full of his palm of green sand, 


and he shook the sand on the ground, and as far as the 
sand reached the devils were not able to follow ; but if 
they were to come beyond the place where the sand was 
strewn, Oscar was able to follow them, and to beat them 
with the flail. Oscar and all the Fenians are on this side 
of the sand, and the devils are on the other side, for St. 
Patrick got it as a request from God that they should not 
be able to follow them where the sand was shaken, — 
and the thong that was in the flail never broke since ! 




In the story which I have just given it is said that St. 
Patrick met Oisin when he was carrying stones in Elphin, 
a small village in the County Roscommon, which was once 
a great ecclesiastical centre founded by St. Patrick. I 
had often heard other people in Roscommon tell about 
Oisin 's carrying those stones in Elphin, and of St. Patrick 
meeting him there, but I always imagined that they had 
localised the story because they themselves belonged to the 
place. That this is not so, however, and that the story 
of the ancient warriors being forced to carry stones in his 
old age is old and genuine is proved by Magregor in Argyll- 
shire jotting down a verse 400 years ago in which Ossian 
tells how Finn had prophesied to him that he would yet be 
carrying stones for the " Tailgin." 

Bea tou schell a tarraing clooch, 
Ma in deyt how in weit wronyth. 

i.e., bet j cu real aj ca|ijiaiti$ clot, 
ffl n [rut] •ocelli cu on bic bfionAc 

and the very poem (which I give here, taken from a Belfast 
MS.) was written in phonetics by Magregor in far-away 

Magregor's first line as read by McLaughlin (Skene's 
Book of Lismore) runs " is fadda noch ni nelli fiym," but Dr. 
Cameron later on gave a more correct reading " is fadda 
not ni nelli finni." It is not to be translated as McLaugh- 
lan does, " long are the clouds this night above me," but 
" long is to-night in Elphin," ni nelli finni being evidently 
to be transliterated as " i n-Ailfinne." This poem may 
almost be looked upon as a pendant to the last piece. See 
my " Religious Songs of Connacht." 




Long was last night in cold Elphin, 
More long is to-night on its weary way, 

Though yesterday seemed to me long and ill, 
Yet longer still was this dreary day. 

And long, for me, is each hour new-born, 

I fall forlorn to grinding grief 
For the hunting lands, and the Fenian bands, 

And the long-haired generous Fenian Chief. 

I make no music, I find no feast. 

I slay no beast from a bounding steed, 
I give no gold, I am poor and old, 

I am cursed and cold without wine or mead. 

No more I court, and I hunt no more, 
These were before my strong delight, 

I have ceased to slay, and I take no prey, 
— Weary the day and long the night. 

No heroes come in their war array, 
No game I play, and no gold I win ; 

I swim no stream with my men of might, 
— Long is to-night in cold Klphin. 

Would I were gone from this evil earth, 
I am wan with dearth, I am old and thin, 

Carrying stones in my own despite, 
— Long is to-night in cold Klphin. 

Ask, O Patrick, of God, for grace, 

And tell me what place he will hold me in, 

And save my soul from the 111 One's might ' 
—For long is to-night in cold Klphin. 




This story I wrote down most carefully, word for word, 
from the telling of Mairtin Ruadh O Giollarnath, near 
Monivea, Co. Galway. He knew no English. I printed 
it in my " Sgeuluidhe Gaedhealach," published in Rennes. 
I know no variant of this story. 


There arose some little difference between three sons. 
A farmer's sons they were. One man of them said that 
he would leave home and go to an island {i.e., emigrate). 
Another man of them became a priest, and the eldest 
brother remained at home. 

The young priest never stopped until he went to 
Athlone to the college there, and he remained there for 
five years until his term had expired, and he was turned 
out a professed priest. He got himself ready, then, in 
the college, and said that he would go home to visit his 
father and mother. 

He bound his books together in his bag, and then he 
faced for home. There was no mode of conveyance 
at that time ; he had to walk. He walked all 
through the day until night was coming on. He saw a 


light at a distance from him. He went to it and found 
a gentleman's big house. He came into the yard and 
asked for lodgings until the morning. He got that from 
the gentleman and welcome, and the gentleman did not 
know what he would do for him, with the regard he had 
for him. 

The priest was a fine handsome man, and the daughter 
of the gentleman took, as you would say, a fancy to him, 
when she was bringing his supper — and a fine supper it 
was he got. When they went to sleep then the young 
woman went into the room where the priest was. She 
began entreating him to give up the church and to marry 
herself. The gentleman had no daughter but herself, 
and she was to have the house and place, all of it, and she 
told that to the priest. 

Says the priest, " don't tell me your mind," says he ; 
" it's no good. I am wed already to Mary Mother, and 
I shall never have any other wife," says he. She gave 
him up then when she saw that it was no good for her, 
and she went away. There was a piece of gold plate in 
the house, and when the young priest fell asleep she came 
back again into his room, and she put the gold plate 
unbeknownst to him into his bag, and out she went again. 

When he rose then, in the morning, he was getting 
himself ready to be going off again. It was a Friday, 
a fast day, that was in it, but she got a piece of meat 
and put it into his pocket, unbeknownst to him. Now 
he had both the meat and the gold plate in his bag, and off 
my poor man went, without any meal in the morning. 
When he had gone a couple of miles on his road, up she 
rose and told her father that the man that he had last 


night with him, " it was a bad man he was, that he stole 
the gold plate, and that he had meat in his pocket, going 
away of him, that she herself saw him eating it as he went 
the road that morning." Then the father got ready a 
horse and pursued him, and came up with him and got 
him taken and brought back again to his own house, 
and sent for the peelers. 

" I thought,'' said he, " that it was an honest man 
you were, and it's a rogue you are," said he. 

He was taken out then and given to the jury to be tried, 
and he was found guilty. The father took the gold 
plate out of the bag and showed it to the whole jury. 
He was sentenced to be hanged then. They said that any 
man who did a thing of that sort, he deserved nothing 
but to put his head in the noose 1 and hang him. 

He was up on the stage then going to be hanged, 
when he asked leave to speak in the presence of the people. 
That was given him. He stood up, then, and he told all 
the people who he himself was, and where he was going 
and what he had done ; how he was going home to his 
father and mother, and how he came into the gentleman's 
house. " I don't know that I did anything bad," said 
he, " but the daughter that this gentleman had, she came 
in to me, into the room, where I was asleep, and she asked 
me to leave the church and to marry herself, and I would 
not marry her, and no doubt it was she who put the gold 
plate and the fish into my bag," and he went down on his 
two knees then, and put up a petition to God to send them 
all light that it was not himself who was guilty. 

1 Literally, " in the gallows." 


" Oh, it was not fish that was in your bag at all but 
meat/' said the daughter. 

" It was meat perhaps that you put in it, but it was 
fish that I found in it," says the priest. 

When the people heard that, they desired to bring the 
bag before them, and they found that it was fish in the 
place of meat that was in it. They gave judgment then 
to hang the young woman instead of the priest. 

She was put up then in place of him to be hanged, 
and when she was up on the stage, going to be hanged, 
" Well, you devil," said she, " I'll have you, in heaven 
or on earth," and with that she was hanged. 

The priest went away after that, drawing on home. 
When he came home he got, after a while, a chapel and 
a parish, and he was quiet and satisfied, and everybody 
in the place had a great respect for him, for he was a fine 
priest in the parish. He was like this for a good while, 
until a day came when he went to visit a great gentleman 
who was in that place ; just as yourself might come into 
this garden, 1 or like that, and they were walking outside 
in the garden, the gentleman and himself. When he was 
going up a walk in this garden a lady met him, and when 
she was passing the priest on the walk, she struck a light 
little blow of her hand on his cheek. It was that lady 
who had been hanged who was in it, but the priest did 
not recognise her, [seemingly] alive, and thought she was 
some other fine lady who was there. 

She went then into a summer house, and the priest 
went in after her, and had a little conversation with her, 

1 Thi? storv was told to me in the garden of Mr. Reddington 
Roche, at Rye Hill. 


and it is likely that she beguiled him with melodious con- 
versation and talk before she went out. When she 
herself and he himself were ready to depart, and when they 
were separating from one another, she turned to him and 
said, " you ought to recognize me," said she, " I am 
the woman that you hanged ; I told you that day that I 
would have you yet, and I shall. I came to you now to 
damn you." With that she vanished out of his sight. 

He gave himself up then ; he said that he was damned 
for ever. He was getting no rest, either by day or by 
night, with the fear that was on him at her having met 
him again. He said that it was not in his power either 
to go back or forward — that he was to be damned for 
ever. That thought was preying on him day and night. 

He went away then, and he went to the Bishop, and he 
told him the whole story and made his confession to him, 
and told him how she met him and tempted him. Then the 
bishop told him that he was damned for ever, and that there 
was nothing in the world to save him or able to save him. 

" I have no hope at all, so ? " said the priest. 

The bishop said to him, " you have no hope at all, 
till you get a small load of cambrick needles," — the 
finest needles at all — " and get a ship, and go out to 
sea, and according as you go every hundred yards on the 
sea you must throw away a needle from you out of the 
ship. Be going then," says he, " for ever," says he, 
" until you have thrown away the last of them. Unless 
you are able to gather them up out of the sea and to bring 
them all to me back again here, you will be lost for ever." 

" Well that's a thing that I never shall do ; it fails 
me to do that," said the priest. 


He got the ship and the needles and went out to sea. 
according as he used to go a piece he used to throw a needle 
from him. He was going until he was very far away from 
land, and until he had thrown out the last needle. By 
the time he had thrown away the last needle, his own food 
was used up, and he had not a thing to eat. He spent 
three days then, on end, without bite or sup or drink, 
or means to come by them. 

Then on the third day he saw dry land over from him 
at a distance. " I shall go," said he, "to yon dry land 
over there, and perhaps we may get something there that 
we can eat." The man was on the road to be lost. 
He drew towards the place and walked out upon the dry 
land. He spent from twelve o'clock in the day walking 
until it was eight o'clock at night. Then when the night 
had fallen black, he found himself in a great wood, and 
he saw a light at a distance from him in the wood, and he 
drew towards it. There were twelve little girls there 
before him and they had a good fire, and he asked of them 
a morsel to eat for God's sake. Something to eat was 
got ready for him. After that he got a good supper, 
and when he had the supper eaten he began to talk to 
them, telling them how he had left home and what it was 
he had done out of the way, and the penance that had been 
put on him by the bishop, and how he had to go out to 
sea and throw the needles from him. 

" God help you, poor man," said one of the women, " it 
was a hard penance that was put upon you." 

Says he, "I am afraid that I shall never go home. 
I have no hope of it. Have you any idea at all for me 
down from heaven as to where I shall get a man who 


will tell me whether I shall save myself from the sins that 
I have committed ? " 

' I don't know," said a little girl of them, " but we 
have mass in this house every day in the year at twelve 
o'clock. A priest comes here to read mass for us, and 
unless that priest is able to tell it to you there is no use 
in your going back for ever." 

The poor man was tired then and he went to sleep. 
Well now, he was that tired that he never felt to get up, 
and never heard the priest in the house reading mass 
until the mass was read and priest gone. He awoke then 
and asked one of the women had the priest come yet. 
She told him that he had and that he had read mass 
and was gone again. He was greatly troubled and 
sorry then after the priest. 

Now with fear lest he might not awake next day, he 
brought in a harrow and he lay down on the harrow 
in such a way that he would have no means, as he 
thought, of getting any repose. 

But in spite of all that the sleep preyed on him so much 
that he never felt to get up until mass was read and the 
priest gone the second day. Now he had two days lost, 
and the girls told him that unless he got the priest the 
third day he would have to go away from themselves. 
He went out then and brought in a bed of briars on which 
were thorns to wound his skin, and he lay down on them 
without his shirt in the corner, and with all sorts of tor- 
ture that he was putting on himself he kept himself awake 
throughout the night until the priest came. The priest 
read mass, and when he had it read and he going away, 
my poor man went up to him and asked hirn to remain, 


that he had a story to tell him, and he told him then the 
way in which he was, and the penance that was on him, 
and how he had left home, and how he had thrown the 
needles behind him into the sea, and all that he had gone 
through of every kind. 

It was a saint who was in the priest who read mass, 
and when he heard all that the other priest had to tell him, 
" to-morrow," says the saint to him, " go up to such and 
such a street that was in the town in that country ; there 
is a woman there," says he, " selling fish, and the first 
fish you take hold of bring it with you. Fourpence the 
woman will want from you for the fish, and here is the 
fourpence to give her. And when you have the fish 
bought, open it up, and there is never a needle of all 
you threw into the sea that is not inside in its stomach. 
Leave the fish there behind you, everything you want is 
in its stomach ; bring the needles with you, but leave 
the fish." The saint went away from him then. 

The priest went to that street where the woman was 
selling fish, as the saint had ordered, and he brought the 
first fish he took hold of, and opened it up and took out 
the thing which was in its stomach, and he found the 
needles there as the saint had said to him. He brought 
them with him and he left the fish behind him. He 
turned back until he came to the house again. He spent 
the night there until morning. He rose next day, and 
when he had his meal eaten he left his blessing to the 
women and faced for his own home. 

He was travelling then until he came to his own home. 
When the bishop who had put the penance on him 
heard that he had come back he went to visit him. 


" You have come home ?" said the bishop. 
" I have," said he. 

" And the needles with you ? " said the bishop. 
" Yes," says the priest, " here they are." 
" Why then, the sins that are on me," said the bishop, 
" are greater than those on you." 

The bishop had no rest then until he went to the Pope, 
and he told him that he had put this penance on the priest, 
" and I had no expectation that he would come back for 
ever until he was drowned," said he. 

" That same penance that you put upon the priest 
you must put it on yourself now," said the Pope, " and 
you must make the same journey. The man is holy," 
said he. 

The bishop went away, and embaurkeci upon tb-e same 
journey, and never came back since. 



There is scarcely another country in Europe, outside 
perhaps of a part of Switzerland and the Tyrol, in which 
there is the same veneration for purity and female chastity 
as in the Irish-speaking provinces of Ireland. In the 
pathetic and well-known song which begins " ta me sinte ar 
do thuamba, "I am stretched upon thy tomb," the man who 
was in love with the maiden who had died says : 

The priests and the friars 

Wear faces of gloom 
At me loving a maiden 

And she cold in her tomb. 
I would lie on your grave-sod 

To shield you from rain, 
This the thought of you there, love, 

Has numbed me with pain. 

When my people are thinking 

That I am asleep, 
It is on your cold grave, love, 

My vigil I keep. 
With desire I pine 

And my bosom is torn, 
You were mine, you were mine, 

From your childhood my storeen. 

But the mourner is not left entirely without comfort 
when he remembers the purity of her who had died : 

You remember the night 

'Neath the thorn on the wold, 
When the heavens were freezing 

And all things were cold. 
Now thanks be to Jesus, 

No tempter came o'er you, 
And your maidenhood's crown 

Is a beacon before you. 


In the story about St. Peter we saw how our Lord is made 
to say that the old drunkard who had kept a woman from 
evil had done more good than the friars themselves. 

The following story seems to contain the same moral. 
It shows how it was not in the power of anything except 
virginity itself to banish the foul and evil spirit which had 
invaded the peace of the friars. There is a certain humour 
in the way in which the laziness, drunkenness and care- 
lessness of the piper are portrayed, for by this is thrown 
into better relief the excellence of the only good deed he 
had performed. 

The monastery of the friars is on the brink of the lake 
called Urlaur (floor), Orlar on the mar). Ar-lar (slaughter- 
site) suggested in the text, is only folk-etymology. The 
remains are still to be seen, just inside the borders of the 
County Roscommon, and on the brink of the Co. Mayo. 
The monastery was built by Edward Costello and his wife 
Finuala, a daughter of the O'Conor Donn for the Dominican 
Friars, and was dedicated to St. Thomas. The Dominicans 
settled in it about the year 1430. On the dissolution of the 
monasteries it was granted to Lord Dillon, and it has now, 
with the rest of his enormous property, been bought by 
the Congested Districts Board and distributed amongst 
the tenants. We are told that there was once a town there, 
but there is now no trace of it. The monastery, being in 
such a retired spot, was set aside for the reception of novices 
throughout Connacht. The " pattern " here spoken of, 
i.e., the gathering held in honour of the " patron " saint, 
used to take place on the 4th of August, St. Dominick's 
day. The place is four or five miles from the town of Kil- 
kelly, and Tavran or Towrann, where the piper came from, 
is a townland between Ballaghaderreen and L/OUgh Errit, 
not very far from Urlaur. For the original, see " Religious 
Songs of Connacht." 



In times long ago there was a House of Friars on the 
brink of Loch Urlaur but there is nothing in it now except 
the old walls, with the water of the lake beating up against 
them every day in the year that the wind be's blowing from 
the south. 

Whilst the friars were living in that house there was 
happiness in Ireland, and many is the youth who got good 
instructions from the friars in that house, who is now a 
saint in heaven. 

It was the custom of the people of the villages to gather 
one day in the year to a " pattern," in the place where 
there used to be fighting and great slaughter when the 
Firbolgs were in Ireland, but the friars used to be amongst 
the young people to give them a good example and to keep 
them from fighting and quarrelling. There used to be 
pipers, fiddlers, harpers and bards at the pattern, along 
with trump-players and music-horns ; young and old 
used to be gathered there, and there used to be songs, 
music, dancing and sport amongst them. 

But there was a change to come and it came heavy. 
Some evil spirit found out its way to Loch Urlaur. It 
came at first in the shape of a black boar, with tusks on it 
as long as a pike, and as sharp as the point of a needle 

One day the friars went out to walk on the brink of the 
lake. There was a chair cut out of the rock about twenty 
feet from the brink, and what should they see seated in the 
chair but the big black boar. They did not know what 
was in it. Some of them said that it was a great water-dog 


that was in it, but they were not long in doubt about it, 
for it let a screech out of it that was heard seven miles 
on each side of it ; it rose up then on its hind feet and was 
there screeching and dancing for a couple of hours. Then 
it leaped into the water, and no sooner did it do that 
than there rose an awful storm which swept the roof off 
the friar's house, and off every other house within seven 
miles of the place. Furious waves rose upon the lake 
which sent the water twenty feet up into the air. Then 
came the lightning and the thunder, and everybody 
thought that it was the end of the world that was in it. 
There was such a great darkness that a person could not 
see his own hand if he were to put it out before him. 

The friars went in and fell to saying prayers, but it was 
not long till they had company. The great black boar 
came in, opened its mouth, and cast out of it a litter of 
bonhams. These began on the instant running back- 
wards and forwards and screeching as loud as if there 
were the seven deaths on them with the hunger. There 
was fear and astonishment on the friars, and they did not 
know what they ought to do. The abbot came forward 
and desired them to bring him holy water. They did 
so, and as soon as he sprinkled a drop of it on the boar 
and on the bonhams they went our in a blaze of fire, 
sweeping part of the side-wall with them into the lake. 
" A thousand thanks to God," said the Father Abbot, 
" the devil is gone from us." 

But my grief ! he did not go far. When the darkness 
departed they went to the brink of the lake, and they saw 
the black boar sitting in the stone chair that was cut out 
in the rock. 


" Get me my curragh," said the Father Abbot, " and 
I'll banish the thief." 

They got him the curragh and holy water, and two of 
them went into the curragh with him, but as soon as they 
came near to the black boar he leaped into the water, the 
storm rose, and the furious waves, and the curragh and the 
three who were in it were thrown high up upon the land 
with broken bones. 

They sent for a doctor and for the bishop, and when 
they told the story to the bishop he said, " There is a limb 
of the devil in the shape of a friar amongst you, but I'll find 
him out without delay." Then he ordered them all to 
come forward, and when they came he called out the name 
of every friar, and according as each answered he was put 
on one side. But when he called out the name of Friar 
Lucas he was not to be found. He sent a messenger for 
him, but could get no account of him. At last the friar 
they were seeking for came to the door, flung down a 
cross that he had round his neck, smote his foot on it, 
and burst into a great laugh, turned on his heel, and into 
the lake. When he came as far as the chair on the rock 
he sat on it, whipped off his friar's clothes and flung 
them out into the water. When he stripped himself they 
saw that there was hair on him from the sole of his foot 
to the top of his head, as long as a goat's beard. He was 
not long alone, the black boar came to him from the bot- 
tom of the lake, and they began romping and dancing 
on the rock. 

Then the bishop enquired what place did the rogue 
come from, and the (father) Superior said that he came a 
month ago from the north, and that he had a friar's dress 



on him when he came, and that he asked no account from 
him of what brought him to this place. 

" You are too blind to be a Superior," said the bishop, 
" since you do not recognise a devil from a friar." While 
the bishop was talking the eyes of everyone present were 
on him, and they did not feel till the black boar came 
behind them and the rogue that had been a friar riding on 
him. " Seize the villain, seize him," says the bishop. 

" You didn't seize me yourself," says the villain, " when 
I was your pet hound, and when you were giving me the 
meat that you would not give to the poor people who 
were weak with the hunger ; I thank you for it, and I'll 
have a hot corner for you when you leave this world." 

Some of them were afraid, but more of them made an 
attempt to catch the black boar and its rider, but they went 
into the lake, sat on the rock, and began screaming so loud 
that they made the bishop and the friars deaf, so that they 
could not hear one word from one another, and they 
remained so during their life, and that is the reason they 
were called the " Deaf Friars," and from that day (to this) 
the old saying is in the mouth of the people, " You're as 
deaf as a friar of Urlaur." 

The black boar gave no rest to the friars either by night 
or day : he himself, and the rogue of a companion that he 
had, were persecuting them in many a way, and neither 
they themselves nor the bishop were able to destroy or 
banish them. 

At last they were determining on giving up the place 
altogether, but the bishop said to them to have patience till 
he would take counsel with Saint Gerald, the patron saint 
of Mayo. The bishop went to the saint and told him the 


story from beginning to end. " That sorrowful occur- 
rence did not take place in my county," said the saint, 
" and I do not wish to have any hand in it." At this 
time Saint Gerald was only a higher priest in Tirerrill (?) 
but anything he took in hand succeeded with him, for he 
was a saint on earth from his youth. He told the bishop 
that he would be in Urlaur, at the end of a week, and that 
he would make an attempt to banish the evil spirit. 

The bishop returned and told the friars what Gerald had 
said, and that message gave them great courage. They 
spent that week saying prayers, but the end of the week 
came, and another week went by, and Saint Gerald did 
not come, for " not as is thought does it happen." Gerald 
was struck with illness as it was fated for him, and he could 
not come. 

One night the friars had a dream, and it was not one 
man alone who had it, but every man in the house. In the 
dream each man saw a woman clothed in white linen, and 
she said to them that it was not in the power of any man 
living to banish the evil spirit except of a piper named 
Donagh O' Grady who is living at Tavraun, a man who did 
more good, says she, on this world than all the priests and 
friars in the country. 

On the morning of the next day, after the matin 
prayers, the Superior said, " I was dreaming, friars, last 
night about the evil spirit of the lake, and there was a ghost 
or an angel present who said to me that it was not in the 
power of any man living to banish the evil spirit except 
of a piper whose name was Donagh O' Grady who is 
living at Tavraun, a man who did more good in this world 
than all the priests and friars in the country." 


" I had the same dream too," says every man of them. 
It is against our faith to believe in dreams," says the 
Superior, " but this was more than a dream, I saw an 
angel beside my bed clothed in white linen." 

' Indeed I saw the same thing," says every man of 

" It was a messenger from God who was in it," said the 
Superior, and with that he desired two friars to go for the 
piper. They went to Tavraun to look for him and they 
found him in a drinking-house half drunk. They asked 
him to come with them to the Superior of the friars at 

" I'll not go one foot out of this place till I get my pay," 
says the piper. " I was at a wedding last night and I was 
not paid yet." 

" Take our word that you will be paid," said the 

" I won't take any man's word ; money down, or I'll 
stop where I am." There was no use in talk or flattery, 
they had to return home again without the piper. 

They told their story to the Superior, and he gave them 
money to go back for the piper. They went to Tavraun 
again, gave the money to the piper and asked him to come 
with them. 

" Wait till I drink another naggin ; I can't play hearty 
music till I have my enough drunk ? " 

" We won't ask you to play music, it's another business 
we have for you." 

O'Grady drank a couple of naggins, put the pipes under 
his oxter (arm-pit) and said, " I'm ready to go with ye 


" Leave the pipes behind you," said the friars, " you 
won't want them." 

" I wouldn't leave my pipes behind me if it was to 
Heaven I was going," says the piper. 

When the piper came into the presence of the Superior, 
the Superior began examining him about the good works 
he had done during his life. 

' I never did any good work during my life that I have 
any remembrance of," said the piper. 

" Did you give away any alms during your life ? " said 
the Superior. 

" Indeed, I remember now, that I did give a tenpenny 
piece to a daughter of Mary O'Donnell's one night. She 
was in great want of the tenpenny piece, and she was going 
to sell herself to get it, when I gave it to her. After a little 
while she thought about the mortal sin she was going to 
commit, she gave up the world and its temptations and 
went into a convent, and people say that she passed a 
pious life. She died about seven years ago, and I heard 
that there were angels playing melodious music in the 
room when she was dying, and it's a pity I wasn't listening 
to them, for I'd have the tune now ! " 

" Well," said the Superior, " there's an evil spirit in the 
lake outside that's persecuting us day and night, and we 
had a revelation from an angel who came to us in a dream, 
that there was not a man alive able to banish the evil 
spirit but you." 

" A male angel or female ? " says the piper. 

" It was a woman we saw," says the Superior, " she 
was dressed in white linen." 

" Then I'll bet you five tenpenny pieces that it 


was Mary O'Donnell's daughter was in it," says the 

" It is not lawful for us to bet," says the Superior, " but 
if you banish the evil spirit of the lake you will get twenty 
tenpenny pieces." 

" Give me a couple of naggins of good whiskey to give 
me courage," says the piper. 

" There is not a drop of spirits in the house," 
says the Superior, " you know that we don't taste it 
at all." 

" Unless you give me a drop to drink," says the piper, 
" go and do the work yourself." 

They had to send for a couple of naggins, and when the 
piper drank it he said that he was ready, and asked them 
to show him the evil spirit. They went to the brink of the 
lake, and they told him that the evil spirit used to come on 
to the rock every time that they struck the bell to announce 
the " Angel's Welcome " [Angelical Salutation]. 

" Go and strike it now," says the piper. 

The friars went, and began to strike the bell, and it was 
not long till the black boar and its rider came swimming to 
the rock. When they got up on the rock the boar let a 
loud screech, and the rogue began dancing. 

The piper looked at them and said, " wait till I give ye 
music." With that he squeezed on his pipes, and began 
playing, and on the moment the black boar and its rider 
leapt into the lake and made for the piper. He was think- 
ing of running away, when a great white dove came out of 
the sky over the boar and its rider, shot lightning down on 
top of them and killed them. The waves threw them up 
on the brink of the lake, and the piper went and told the 


Superior and the friars that the evil spirit of the lake and its 
rider were dead on the shore. 

They all came out, and when they saw that their enemies 
were dead they uttered three shouts for excess of joy. They 
did not know then what they would do with the corpses. 
They gave forty tenpenny pieces to the piper and told him 
to throw the bodies into a hole far from the house. The 
piper got a lot of tinkers who were going the way and gave 
them ten tenpenny pieces to throw the corpse into a deep 
hole in a shaking-scraw a mile from the house of the friars. 
They took up the corpses, the piper walked out before 
them playing music, and they never stopped till they cast 
the bodies into the hole, and the shaking-scraw closed over 
them and nobody ever saw them since. The " Hole of the 
Black Boar " is to be seen still. The piper and the tinkers 
went to the public house, and they were drinking till they 
were drunk, then they began fighting, and you may be 
certain that the piper did not come out of Urlaur with a 
whole skin. 

The friars built up the walls and the roof of the house 
and passed prosperous years in it, until the accursed 
foreigners came who banished the friars and threw down 
the greater part of the house to the ground. 

The piper died a happy death, and it was the opinion 
of the people that he went to Heaven, and that it may be 
so with us all ! 




This story of the two women I got from Francis O'Connor. 
He said he heard it from one Mary Casey, a Co. Gal way 
woman, but I don't know from what part of Gal way. It 
is I who am responsible for the dialogue form of it, which 
I have used instead of putting in an occasional bald " said 
Mary," " said Sheela " ; but it really was told more in a 
dramatic then a narrative form, the reciter's voice showing 
who was speaking. The words I have not interfered with. 

I once heard a dialogue not unlike this between two 
Melicete Indians in Canada who fell to discussing Theology 
over the camp-fire at night after hunting. One was a 
Catholic and the other a close replica of Maurya in our 

The story of Paidin Criona seems familiar to me, but I 
cannot think where or in what literature I have met it 


A hundred welcomes Sheela, it's a cure for sore eyes to 
see you ; sit down and rest and tell us your news. 

Musha ! I have no news. It is not news that's 
troubling me. 

dialogue between two old women. i37 

Arrah ! and what's troubling you ? sure you're not ill ! 

I'm not ill, thanks be to God and to His blessed mother, 
but I do be thinking of the four last ends — the Death and 
the Judgment, and Hell and Heaven, for I know I shan't 
be much longer in this sorrowful world, and I wouldn't 
mind if I were leaving it to-morrow. 

No nonsense at all of that sort ever comes into my head, 
and I'm older than you. I'm not tired of this world yet. 
I have knowledge of this world, and I have no knowledge 
at all of the other world. Nobody ever came back to tell 
me about it. I'll be time enough thinking of Death when 
he comes. And, another thing, — I don't believe that 
God created anyone to burn him in hell eternally. 


You're going astray Maurya ; were you at mass last 
Sunday ? 


Indeed and I was not ! I was doing a thing more profit- 
able. It was taking care of my hens I was, to keep them 
from laying abroad, or I wouldn't have the price of a grain 
of tea or sneesheen throughout the week. That bolgdn- 
beiceach Father Brian wouldn't give me a penny if it was 
to keep me from being hanged. He's only a miserable 
greedy sanntachdn. I had a little sturk of a pig last Christ- 
mas and he asked me to sell it to give him a shilling on 
Christmas Day, and as I didn't do that, he called out my 
name the Sunday after, in the chapel. He's not satisfied 


with good food, and oats for his horse, and gold and silver 
in his pocket. As I said often, I don't see any trade as 
good as a priest's trade ; see the fine working clothes they 
wear, and poor people earning it hard for them. 

I wonder greatly at your talk. Your unbelief is great. 
I wonder that you speak so unmannerly about Father 
Brian, when if you were dying to-morrow, who would 
give you absolution but the same father ? 

Arrah ! Sheela, hold your tongue. Father Brian 
wouldn't turn on his heel, either for you or for me, without 
pay, even if he knew that it would keep us out of hell. 


The cross of Christ on us ! I never thought that it was 

that sort of a woman you were. Did you ever go to 

confession ? 


I went the day I was married, but I never bowed my 

knee under him before or since. 

You have not much to do now, and you ought to think, 
about your poor soul. 

That wouldn't keep the hens from laying abroad on me, 
and if I were to go to confess to Father Brian, instead of 
absolution it's a barging I'd get from him, unless I had a 
half-crown on the top of my fingers to give him. 

Father Brian isn't half as bad as you say ; I'm to go to 


his house this evening with fresh eggs and a print of butter. 
I'll speak to him about you if you give me leave. 


Don't trouble yourself about me, for I'm not going near 

Father Brian : when I'll be on my death-bed he'll come 

to me. 


And how do you know that it's not a sudden death 

you'd get, and what would happen to you if you were to 

get a " death without priest ? " 

And wouldn't I be as well off as the thousands who got 
death without e'er a priest. I haven't much trust in the 
priests. It's sinners that's in them all ; they're like our- 
selves, exactly. My own notion is that there's nothing in 
religion but talk. Did you ever hear mention of Paidin 
Criona 1 [wise Patsy]. 

I did, often. 


Very well ; did you ever hear his opinion about reli- 
gion ? 


Indeed, I never did, but tell it to me if you please. 

Musha, then, I will. There were three officers living in 
one house and Paudyeen Criona [Cree-on-a] was servant 
to them. There were no two of them of the same religion, 
and there used often to be a dispute amongst them — and 
every man of them saying that it was his own religion was 

1 rronounced " Taudycen Crec'na." 


the best religion. One day a man of them said, "We'll 
leave it to Wise Paudyeen as to which of us has the best 
religion." " We're satisfied," said the other two. They 
called in Paudyeen and a man of them said to him, 
" Paudyeen, I'm a Catholic, and what will happen to me 
after my death ? " 

" I'll tell you that," says Paudyeen. " You'll be put 
down into the grave, and you'll rise again and go up to 
the gate of heaven. Peter will come out and will ask 
you, ' what religion are you of.' You'll tell him, and 
he'll say, ' Go and sit in that corner amongst the 
Catholics.' " 

" I'm a Protestant," said the second man, " and what' 11 
happen to me after my death ? " 

" Exactly as the other man. You will be put sitting in 
the corner of the Protestants ! " 

" I'm a Hebrew," says the third man, " and what will 
happen to me after my death ? " 

" Exactly as the other two ; you will be put sitting 
amongst the Hebrews." 

Now there was no one of them better off than the other, 
as Paudyeen left them, and so the Catholic asked Paudyeen, 
" Paudyeen, what's your own religion ? " 

" I have no religion at all," says he. 

" And what' 11 happen to you after your death ? " 

" I'll tell you that. I shall be put down into the hole, 
I shall rise again and go up to the gate of heaven. Peter 
will come and ask me, ' of what religion are you ? ' I will 
say that I have no religion at all, and Peter will say then, 
■ come in, and sit down, or walk about in any place that 
you have a wish for.' " 


Now, Sheela, don't you see that he who had no religion 
at all was better off than the people who had a religion ! 
Every one of them was bound to the corner of his own 
creed, but Paudyeen was able to go in his choice place, 
and I'll be so too. 


God help you Maurya ; I'm afraid there's a long time 
before your poor soul in Purgatory. 

Have sense Sheela ; I'll go through Purgatory as 
quickly as lightning through a gooseberry bush. 

There's no use talking to you or giving you advice. 
I'll leave you. 

When Sheela was going out, Maurya let a screech out of 
her which was heard for a mile on every side of her. Sheela 
turned round and she saw Maurya in the midst of a flame 
of fire. Sheela ran as fast as was in her to Father Brian's 
house, and returned with him running to Maurya's house. 
But, my grief ! the house was burned to the ground, and 
Maurya was burnt with it ; and I am afraid that the [her] 
poor soul was lost. 




This curious little piece is another dialogue in the same 
form as the last. These are the only two stories, if one may 
call them stories, which I have found couched in this form, 
so partly for that reason I give it here. 


One day there was a poor little gossoon on the side of 
the road, and he taking care of an old sow of a pig, and a 
litter of bonhams along with her. A minister came the 
way, and he riding upon a fine horse, and he said to the 
gossoon, " Where does this road bring you ? ,: 

I'm here for a fortnight, and it never brought me 
anywhere yet. 

Now, isn't it the wise little boy you are ! Whose are 
the little pigs ? 

They're the old sow's. 

I know that, but I'm asking you who is the master of 
the bonhams. 

the minister and the gossoon. i43 

That little black-and-white devil that you see rooting, 
he's able to beat the whole of them. 

That's not what I'm asking you at all, but who is your 
own master ? 

My mistress's husband, a man as good as you'd get from 
here to himself. 

You don't understand me yet. Who is your mistress — 
perhaps you understand that ? 

I understand you well. She is my master's wife. 
Everyone knows that. 

You're a wise little boy ; and it's as good for me to let 
you be, but tell me do you know where Patrick O'Donnell 
is living ? 

Yes, indeed. Follow this road until you come to a 
boreen on the side of your thumb-hand. Then follow 
your nose, and if you go astray break the guide. 

Indeed, and you're a ripe (precocious) little lad ! What 
trade will you have when you'll be older ? 

Herding a pig. Don't you see that I'm putting in my 
term. What is your own trade ? 

144 legends of saints and sinners. 


A good trade. I am showing the people what is the 

way to heaven. 


Oh, what a liar ! You can't show the way to any place. 

You don't know the way to Patrick O'Donnell's, a man 

that everybody — big and little — in this country knows, 

and I'm certain sure you have no knowledge of the road 

to heaven. 


I'm beaten. Here's half a crown for you for your 

cleverness, and when I come again you'll get another 

Thank you. It's a pity that a fool like you doesn't come 
the way every day. 



I got the following poem from a schoolmaster called 
O' Kearney, near Belmullet, in West Mayo, who told me 
that he had taken it down from the recitation of an old man 
in the neighbourhood. I got another version of it after- 
wards from Michael Mac Ruaidhri of Bally castle, Co. Mayo, 
with quite a different "cur-fa" or refrain, namely och och 
agus 'och uch an after the first two lines, and och och agtis 
dch on o after the next two. Spelt phonetically in English 
and giving gh the guttural value of ch in German, and 
oa the same sound as in English roach and oo the sound of 
oo in pool, it would run — 

Let us go to the mountain 
All early on the morrow, 

Ugh oagh agus ugh oogh awn. 
Hast thou seen my bright darling, 
O Peter, good apostle, 

Ugh ugh agus oagh on 6. 

The agus " and " is pronounced nearly as " oggus." 
The story I have not traced, but it may have come from an 
Irish version of one of the apocryphal gospels. 


Let us go to the mountain 

All early on the morrow, 
(Ochone ! agus ochone, O !) 

Hast thou seen my bright darling, 
O Peter, good apostle ? " 
(Ochone ! agus ochone, O !) 


" Aye ! truly O Mother 

Have I seen him lately, 
(Ochone agus oehone, O !) 
Caught by his foemen, 

They had bound him straitly," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

" Judas, as in friendship, 

Shook hands, to disarm him," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
Oh, Judas ! vile Judas ! 

My love did never harm him. 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

No child has he injured, 

Not the babe in the cradle, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

Nor angered his mother 

Since his birth in the stable. 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

When the demons discovered 
That she was his mother, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
They raised her on their shoulders 
■ The one with the other ; 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

And they cast her down fiercely 
On the stones all forlorn, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

And she lay and she fainted 

With her knees cut and torn, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

" For myself, ye may beat me, 

But, oh, touch not my mother," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

" Yourself, — we shall beat you, 

But we'll slaughter your mother." 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

They dragged him off captive, 

And they left her tears flowing, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

But the Virgin pursued them 

Through the wilderness going, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

" Oh, who is yon woman ? 

Through the waste comes another," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 


" If there comes any woman 

It is surely my mother," 
(Ochone agus oehone, O !). 

" Oh John, care her, keep her, 

Who comes in this fashion," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
But Oh, hold her from me 
Till I finish this passion," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

When the Virgin had heard him 

And his sorrowful saying, 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
She sprang past his keepers 

To the tree of his slaying, 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

" What fine man hangs there 

In the dust and the smother ? " 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
" And do you not know him, 

He is your son, O Mother." 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

" Oh, is that the child whom 
I bore in this bosom, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
Or is that the child who 

Was Mary's fresh blossom ' I 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

They cast him down from them 
A mass of limbs bleeding, 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
" There now he is for you, 

Now go and be keening," 
(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

Go call the three Marys 

Till we keene him forlorn, 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
O Mother thy keeners 

Are yet to be born, 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 

Thyself shall come with me 

Into Paradise garden, 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 
To a fair place in heaven 

At the side of thy darling, 

(Ochone agus ochone, O !) 




The following story is an extract from a much longer piece 
in prose and verse, which I take from a manuscript in my 
own possession made by Patrick O Prunty (grand-uncle, 
I think of Charlotte Bronte), in 1764. It is called " the 
Counsel of Mac Lava from Aughanamullin to Red Archy, 
that is Red Shane, son of Bradach, son of Donal the gloomy, 
son of Shane, son of Torlogh, etc." In a manuscript in the 
Royal Irish Academy I find it entitled " The Counsel of 
Mac Lavy from Aughanamullin to his cousin Red Archy 
Litis on his forsaking his wife to take the yoke of piety 
on him, that is of Priestifying ; or, the ' Priest of the 
Stick ' by Laurence Faneen." In another MS. of mine, 
written by the well-known scribe Labhras O Fuarthain 
from Portlaw in Co. Waterford, in 1786, it is called 
" The Counsel of Mac Clava from Aughanamullin to Red 
Archy Mac a Brady." 

The poem is entirely satirical, and the gist of it is that the 
writer advises Archy not to be working like a poor man in 
dirt and misery, but from himself to earn the reputation of 
having a little Latin, and to become a bidlaire, a comic word 
for bull-promulgator or priest. Any kind of Latin he tells 
him will do with an uneducated congregation such as 
" Parva nee invideo " or " Hanc tua Penelope," or " Tuba 
mirum spargens sonum "or " ego te teneo, Amen ! " The 
poet tells his victim that when he is reading he can twist and 
stifle his voice " like a melodious droning and partly a 
humming (?) through the nose, and partly the smothering 
of a cough, and then the wealthy full-ignorant laity amongst 
the congregation shall say that it is a great pity the short- 


ness of breath, the pressure on the chest, and the tightness 
round the breast that strikes the blessed, loud-voiced, big- 
worded priest at the time of service." He then proceeds 
to tell him the following story, in the style of the Irish 
romances common in the eighteenth century. For the 
original Irish and the poem and notes, see vol. I., p. 180, 
" Religious Songs of Connacht." 


O, Cousin Archy, I must now tell you a little allegory 
which has a bearing upon your own present case, about a 
greedy, fat-boned, stoop-headed, bashful fellow of a son, 
that a long-bearded, broad-sided, cow-herd-ful, large- 
flock-having Farmer had, who was once on a time residing 
by the side of the island and the illustrious Church of 
Clonmacnois. And this aforesaid Farmer was accus- 
tomed to double his alms to a godly-blessed hermit 
who was living close by him, [giving] with excess of 
diligence beyond [the rest of] the congregation, in order 
that he might have the aid of this hermit in putting 
forward that blockhead (?) of a son towards the priest- 

At last, on the priest of that parish in which they were, 
dying, the Farmer promulgates and lays bare to the 
hermit the secret conception and intention which he had 
stored up for a long time before that, and it was what he 
said to him, that he considered, himself, that there was 
no person at all who would better suit that congregation 
as a parish priest than this son of his own, from the 
love of the priesthood which he had. 


The Farmer beseeches and begs him — giving him large 
offerings on the head of it — to go with his son to the 
presence of the Bishop of Clonmacnois. They set forth all 
three, side by side, on that journey, the farmer, the hermit, 
and the farmer's son, together with a great congregation of 
their friends and cousins, and of the Farmer's acquaintance 
accompanying him to the strand and harbour of that 
island of Clonmacnois. 

It was then a gentleman who was in the assembly asked 
the Farmer with prophesying truly-wise words whether he 
knew if his lad of a son were wise [educated] enough to 
receive the grade of priesthood on that occasion. He 
answered that he knew, himself, that he was, without any 
doubt, because he had been for seven years clerk of salt and 
water [i.e., acolyte] to the blessed godly Father who de- 
parted to heaven from us but now, and moreover, that he 
was plentiful with his Amens at time of mass or marriage, 
and that in this respect he had generally too much rather 
than too little. " Oh, I am satisfied," said the gentleman, 
turning his back on him, bursting into a fit of laughing. 

However, upon the Farmer thus satisfying the gentle- 
man's question, they were all silent, until the hermit's lad 
the " Shouting Attendant " (?) gave a shout at the beach, 
asking for a curach and means of transport to row to the 
island. After that comes to them a broad- wombed, long- 
timbered boat, with eight loutish, big-biting, lumpish (?), 
dawdling (?), raw-nosed (?), great-sleeping spalpeens of the 
parish on the left hand of the Farmer's son. They enjoin 
on the Farmer with his people to wait on the beach of the 
harbour until they themselves should come back. This 
they do. 


In the meantime, on the above-mentioned couple going 
into the bishop's presence, the hermit discloses the reason 
and meaning of his journey. The bishop consents, at the 
request of the hermit, to confer the degrees of priesthood on 
the Farmer's son, and makes some of the clergy who were 
along with him put scholarly questions to the youth, so 
that they might have some knowledge of the amount of his 
learning to give the bishop. However, they found 
nothing either great or small of any kind of learning 
whatsoever in him. After that they report to the bishop 
about the youth's ability. 

The bishop is angry at the clergy on hearing their 
report, and 'twas what he said that it was shame or fright (?) 
they put on the youth, and he himself calls him with him 
far apart, to the brink and very margin of the lake, in 
solitude, so that they came within the view of the Farmer 
and his people on the opposite side, and he addresses 
him in Latin with courteous truly-friendly words, and 
'twas what he said — 

Quid est sacr amentum in nomine Domini ? 

Qui fecit ccelum et t err am, says the fellow. 

Numquam accedes ad altare Dei, says the bishop. 

Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam, says the lad. 

Non fies sacerdos per me in scecula sceculorum, says 
the bishop. 

Amen, says he. 

Then was the bishop excessively enraged against the 
Farmer's son, and raised his arm with a thick-butted 
apple-knotted * * * * ? cudgel of a stick, that 
he had in his right hand, and begins lacing and 
leathering and whaling the Farmer's son without spar- 


ing, so that his blood and inwards ran down to the 
very ground. 

" Ow ! but that's sad, my son's case now," says the 
Farmer, " and I think myself that every comfort and satis- 
faction (?) and roasted hen and every bottle that he shall 
get like a prolute (prelate ?) sitting in his coverlet with 
kindness from this out, is not to be begrudged him ; for 
it's hard and pitiably, it's patiently, gently, meekly and 
humbly my child takes the religious yoke and the grade 
of priesthood on him this night, and it's not easily it will 
be forgotten by him to the termination of his career and 
his life, for it's diligently, piously, firmly, and soundly, 
the blessed bishop drives it into his memory with swift 
hand-blows of the large stick." 

However, on the bishop's parting from the Farmer's 
son, the aforesaid spalpeens came up to the young priest 
and asked his blessing. He lifted up his hands cleric- 
like and piously above their heads, and gave them 
general absolution, saying Asperges me Dornine hysoppo 
et mundabov, lavabis me et super nivern dealbabor. 

They carried him with them to the curach after that, and 
leapt into it, flowingly and high-spiritedly, until they 
reached land on the other side, and all that were in the 
island harbour made the same reverence to the Farmer's 
son, and they asked him where was his bull or charter 
of priesthood. 

He said he had no charter but the bull of the race 
of stoop-headed Conor Mac Lopus of Cavan to the 
Vicarage of Leargan, — the will of the people. 

They swore by the God of the elements that he never 
could have a better charter than that, and they bound 


themselves by the sun and the moon to defend that parish 
for him to the end of his term and his life. And they 
did so. 

And now Archy, the story which does not concern a 
smotan (?) is good, for it is you that the application of this 
story concerns, and it is the good advice to you to take the 
same grade of priesthood, and if blows of a stick be struck 
on you, it is small damage compared with every comfort 
and ease that you will get on the head of it, and in addition 
to every other advice I have given you, here are a couple of 
little ranns for you which shall be in your memory con- 
tinually, so that they may be a good help in every pinch 
that is before you. ****** 




I wrote down this story carefully from the mouth of 
Martain Ruadh O Giollarnath from near Monivea, Co. 
Galway. He had no English. The story is a well-known 
one. It is the basis of Father O'L-eary's delightful book 
" Seadna." It has been examined at great length with 
much learning and perspicacity by Carl Marstrander in the 
MisceJlan}' presented to Kuno Meyer, pp. 386 fL, to which 
I refer the reader. 

According to a Donegal story, called " Domhnall 
O Dochartaigh," taken down and given me by the late 
Mr. L/arminie, Death is the being who is tricked. But, 
according to a Galway story which I heard, the Tinker had 
a son whose godfather was Death. He became a doctor 
and cured everybody at whose feet he saw Death standing. 
Death gave him leave to do this. Attracted one day by a 
huge bribe he turned round the bed where the patient lay 
so that Death, who had been at the patient's head with intent 
that he should die, was now at the patient's foot, who conse- 
quently recovered. After this Death is tricked in much the 
same way as the Devil in our story. 


They were poor, both of them, the man and his wife. 
The man had no other means in the world except his day's 
pay, going here and going there, and earning his day's 
wages from place to place. 


The beginning of the harvest was come now, and he 
went in to the wife and said to her — Elleesh was the wife's 
name — " Elleesh," says he, " stand up," lays he, " and 
make ready my meal for me until I go to Kildare to- 

Elleesh got ready the meal for him as well as ever she 
was able, and she washed him and tidied him up and put 
good clean trousers on him, and himself got ready to be 
going. And the poor man did go, off he went. He had 
no provisions going away then, only four shillings to pay 
his way. 

He was going then and journeying until he came to the 
top of a bridge, and there he met with a stumble and was 
thrown on one knee. " Oh, musha," says he, " the 
devil break my neck when I'll pass this way again." 

He went on then and he never stopped until he came 
into Kildare, and he settled with a farmer there and spent 
four years with him without coming home at all. He 
never took one penny from the farmer in the course of 
the four years except as much as put clothing on him. 
Now at the end of -the four years he took it into his head 
to be going home again. 

And this was what he was getting in the year — five 
pounds. And likely enough, when he took it into his head 
to be going, that he said to the farmer and to the farmer's 
wife that he was to be departing in the morning. They 
gave him his share of money then. Then he made for 
home, and fifteen pounds was what he had coming home 
of him. He never spent but five pounds on his clothes 
all the time he was with the farmer. 

He was coming and ever-coming along the road until 


he came to a corner where four roads met. A poor man 
met him and asked alms of him. " God salute you," 
says he. 

" God and Mary salute you," says Shaun. 

" In Kildare you were," says he. 

" Well, yes," says Shaun. 

"You have money so," says he, "and I am asking 
my alms of you in honour of God and of Mary." 

" He gave him alms then — five pounds he gave him. 
" Now Shaun," says the poor man, when he was going 
away from him. " I don't like you to go away without 
giving you [your] earned reward for your five pounds. 
" What is the thing that you most wish for ? " 

" Anything that I desire," says Shaun, "me to have 
lots of money for it in my pocket. And anything that 
would be putting trouble on me, me to have leave to shut 
it up in this bottle which I have in my hand." 

" You'll get that," says he. 

He was going along then until he came to the corner 
of four other roads and another poor man met him. 
" God salute you," says the poor man. " God and Mary 
salute you." " You were in Kildare," said the poor man. 
" That's the place I was," says Shaun. " If you are 
coming back out of Kildare you're not without money, 
and I am asking my alms of you in honour of God and 
Mary. " It's short till I have my money spent," says 
Shaun. " But here," says he, putting the hand in his 
pocket, " here's five pounds for you." 

When he gave it to him, the poor man said, " I don't 
like you to go away without giving you a reward for your 
five pounds. What sort of a thing is it that you'd 


like best to have ? " " Any person that would be 
doing anything at all out of the way with me [me 
to be able] to put him into my budget and him to 
remain there until myself would give him leave to go 
away, or until myself would let him out. " You'll have 
that to get," says he. 

He went away, then, and he was travelling until he 
went where four other roads met. There was another 
poor man before him there. " This is the third man," 
says Shaun. " God salute you, Tinker Shaun," says he 
as soon as Shaun came up with him. " God and Mary 
salute you." " You're coming out of Kildare, Shaun," 
says he. " I am, indeed," says Shaun. But he said to 
himself, " Isn't it well how every man recognises me and 
without me recognising them." " I am asking my alms 
of you in honour of God and of Mary if you have any 
money with you coming from Kildare." " Oh, musha, 
I'll give you that and my blessing. I met another 
pair before this and I gave five pounds to each 
man of them, and here's five pounds for you." " I 
don't like you to go away Shaun without your reward, 
and what is the thing you'd have most desire for ? " 
" Well, then," says Shaun, " when I was at home I had 
an apple tree in the garden at the back of the house, and 
I used to be troubled with gossoons coming there and 
stealing the apples. I should like, since I am going home 
again now, that every person except myself who shall lay 
his hand on that tree that his hand should stick to it, 
and that he should have no power of himself to go away 
without leave from me. " You'll get that Shaun," says 


He was travelling then until he came to the bridge 
where he had stumbled as he was going to Kildare the 
time he was thrown on one knee. Who should be stand- 
ing on the bridge before him but the Devil. " Who 
are you ?" says Tinker Shaun. " I am the Devil," 
says he. 

" And what sent you here ? " says Shaun. 

" Well," says he, " when you went this way before 
didn't you say that if you were to go this way again might 
the Devil break your neck ? " 

" I said that," says Shaun. 

" Well, I've come before you now that I may break 
your neck." 

" Try if you can," said Shaun. The Devil moved 
over towards him and was going to kill him, when Shaun 
said, " In with you into my bag this moment and don't 
be troubling me." The Devil had to go into the bag 
because Shaun had that power. 

Shaun was going along then, and the Devil in the bag 
slung over his back. When he came to the next bridge 
he stood to take a rest and there were two women washing 
there. " I'll give ye five pounds and give my bag a good 
dressing with the beetles." They began beating it. 
" The bag is harder than the Devil himself," say they. 
" It is the Devil himself that's in it," says Shaun, " and lay 
on him." They beat it really then until they gave him 

He threw it up over his back then and off he went until 
he came to a forge. He went into the forge. " I'll 
give you five pounds," says he to the smith, " and strike 
a good spell on this bag." There were two smiths there 


and they began leathering the bag. " Why, then," says 
one of the smiths, " your bag is harder than the Devil 
himself." " It is the Devil himself that's in it," says 
Shaun, " and lay on him, ye, and beat him." One of the 
men put a hole in the bag with the blow he gave it and he 
looked in on the hole and he saw the Devil's eye at the 
hole. The poker was in the fire and it red hot The 
smith stuck it into the hole in such a way that he put it 
into the Devil's eye, and that's the thing which has left 
the old Devil half blind ever since. 

He raised the bag on his back then, and he was going 
away when the Devil rose up and burst the bag and de- 
parted from him. Shaun came home. 

At the end of a quarter of a year when Shaun was 
at home with the wife the Devil came to him again 
" You must come with me, Shaun," says he ; " make your 
soul," says he, " I'll give you death without respite." 

" I'll go with you," says Shaun ; " but give me respite 
until to-morrow until I have everything ready, and I'll 
go with you then and welcome." 

I won't give you any respite at all ; neither a day nor 
an hour, you thief." 

" I won't ask you for any respite," says Shaun, " only 
as long as I would be eating a single apple off that tree. 
Pull me one yourself, and I'll be with you." 

The old Devil moved over to the tree, and took hold 
of a branch to pluck an apple off it and he stuck to the 
branch, and was not able to loose himself. He remained 
there on the branch during seven years. 

One day that Shaun was in the garden again by himself 
he was not thinking, but he went gathering a bundle of 


kippeens for Elleesh, to make a fire for her, and what was 
the branch it should fall to him to cut for Elleesh but the 
branch in which the Devil was. The Devil gave a leap 
into the air. " Now Shaun," says he, " be ready ; 
you will never go either forward nor back. You must 
come with me on the spot." 

" Well I'll go," says Shaun ; "I'll go with you," says 
he ; " but it's a long time we are at odds with one ano- 
ther, and we ought to have a drink together. Elleesh 
has a good bottle and come in till we drink a drop of it 
before we go." " Why, then, I'll go with you," says the 
Devil, as there was the Devil's thirst on him after his being 
up in the tree so long. They drank their enough then 
inside in Elleesh's hovel, and when the Devil had the 
bottle empty he rose up standing, that he might get a grip 
of Shaun's throat to choke him. " In with you into the 
bottle," says Shaun. " In with you this moment," says 
he. " Did you think that you would play on me," says he. 
The Devil had to go into the bottle, and he spent seven 
years inside the bottle, with Shaun, without being 
let out. 

Now it fell out that Elleesh had a young son, and there 
was a bottle wanting to go for stuff for Elleesh. What 
was the bottle they should bring with them but the 
bottle in which the Devil was down, and when they took 
the cork out of it the Devil went off with himself. 

Shaun was gone away looking for gossips for his son. 
The Son of God met him. 

" God salute you, Shaun," says he. 

" God and Mary salute you." 

" Where were you going now, Shaun ? " says he. 


" I was hunting for gossips for my son," says 

" Would you give him to me, and I'll stand for 
him ? " 

" Who are you ? " says Tinker Shaun. 

"I am the Son of God " says he. 
1 Well, then, indeed, I won't give him to you," says 
Shaun, " you give seven times their enough to some 
people, and you don't give their half enough to other 

The Son of God departed. 

The King of Sunday met him then and they saluted 
one another. 

" Where were you going ? " says the King of Sunday. 

" Well, then, I was going hunting for a gossip for my 

" Will you give him to me ? " says the King of 

11 Who are you ? " says Shaun. 

" I am the King of Sunday." 

" Indeed, then, I won't give him," says Shaun. " You 
have only a single day in the week and you're not able to 
do much good that day itself." 

In this way he refused him, and the King of Sunday 
departed from him. 

Who should meet him then and he coming home but 
the Death. [The Devil was afraid to go near him again, 
but he sent the Death to meet him.] " Make your soul 
now Shaun," says he, "I have you." 

" Oh, you wouldn't give me death now," says Shaun, 
" until I baptise my son." 



" All right, baptise him/' said the Death. " Who 
will you put to stand for him ? " 

" I don't see any person," says Shaun, " better than 
yourself. It's you who will leave him longest alive," 
says he. 

When he got the son baptised he gave death to Shaun. 
He would not allow him to be humbugging him. 




I wrote down this poem from the mouth of Michael 
Mac Ruaidhri or Rogers, from near Ballycastle, in the 
Co. Mayo. The last five verses of it, which he had not got, 
I obtained from Martin O'Callaly (or Caldwell in English) 
in Erris, in the same county. There is a cherry tree carol 
in English, and an excellent one in German. The original 
legend was probably told of a date tree. A fifteenth century 
Dutch carol retains the date tree. In a legendary life of 
the Blessed Virgin, quoted by Jewitt in his book " The 
Nativity in Art and Song," we are told that the Blessed 
Virgin, during the flight into Egypt, resting in the heat of 
the noon day, saw a palm loaded with dates and desired 
them, but they were high up out of reach. Then the child 
Jesus, who was yet in the arms of Mary and had never 
spoken, lifted up his voice and said to the palm tree, 
" bend thy branches O tree, bow down and offer thy fruits 
to My mother," and immediately the tree bent down its 
top even to the feet of Mary, and all were nourished with 
the fruits it bore. And the palm tree remained bent to the 
earth awaiting that He whom it had obeyed should bid it 
again to rise. And Jesus said, " Arise, O palm tree ; thou 
shalt be the companion of the trees which grow in the 
paradise of my father." And while He was yet speaking 
behold an angel of the Lord appeared, and taking a branch 
from the tree he flew through the midst of heaven holding 
the palm in his hand. 

The story has found its way into art. In " A Flight into 
Egypt," by Martin Schongaur, angels bow the palm tree 


and St. Joseph gathers the dates. In a work of Andrea 
Solario (Milanese School) St. Joseph is seen giving the iruit 
with one hand to the Virgin, and with the other to her 
Divine Son. 

This poem was at one time known in the Highlands as 
well as Ireland, for Carmichael recovered a very poor and 
imperfect version of eight verses, which he printed in his 
monumental work " Carmina Gadelica," vol. II., p. 162 

A very pretty anonymous sixteenth century German 
Christmas hymn appears to allude to our story in the 
first verse, which runs as follows : — 

Als Gott der Herr geboren war 

Da war es kalt, 
Was sieht Maria am Wege stehn 

Ein Feigenbaum. 
Maria lass du die Feigen noch stehn 
Wir haben noch dreissig Meilen zu gehn. 

Es wird uns spat. 

The word "Als" must here be taken as equivalent to 


Holy was good St. Joseph 

When marrying Mary Mother, 

Surely his lot was happy, 
Happy beyond all other. 

Refusing red gold laid down. 

And the crown by David worn. 

With Mary to be abiding 

And guiding her steps forlorn. 

One day when the twain were talking, 
And walking through gardens early, 

Where cherries were redly growing, 

And blossoms were blowing rarely, 

Mary the fruit desired, 

For faint and tired she panted, 
At the scent on the breezes' wing 

Of the fruit that the King had planted. 


Then spake to Joseph, the Virgin, 

All weary and faint and low, 
" pull me yon smiling cherries 

That fair on the tree do grow, 

" For feeble I am, and weary, 

And my steps are but faint and slow, 

And the works of the King of the graces 
I feel within me grow." 

Then out spake the good St. Joseph, 

And stoutly indeed spake he, 
" I shall not pluck thee one cherry, 

Who art unfaithful to me. 

" Let him come fetch thee the cherries, 

Who is dearer than I to thee," 
Then Jesus, hearing St. Joseph, 

Thus spake to the stately tree. 

" Bend low in her gracious presence, 

Stoop down to herself, O tree, 
That My mother herself may pluck thee. 

And take thy burden from thee." 

Then the great tree lowered her branches 

At hearing the high command, 
And she plucked the fruit that it offered, 

Herself with her gentle hand. 

Loud shouted the good St. Joseph, 

He cast himself on the ground, 
" Go home and forgive me, Mary, 

To Jerusalem I am bound ; 
I must go to the holy city, 

And confess my sin profound." 

Then out spake the gentle Mary, 

She spake with a gentle voice, 
" I shall not go home, O Joseph, 

But I bid thee at heart rejoice, 
For the King of Heaven shall pardon 

The sin that was not of choice." 




The following curious story has parallels in many countries. 
It is probably founded upon the verse in II. Peter iii. 8. 
" Quia unus dies apud Dominum sicut mille anni et mille 
anni sicut unus dies " — " for a thousand years are with the 
L/ord as one day, and one day as a thousand years." It 
need not, however, be founded upon any Christian concep- 
tion, for the purely Pagan story of Oisin or Ossian in the 
" L/and of the Ever- Young " was known all over Ireland. 
Oisin thought he had spent only a short time in the Happy 
Other-World, but when he returned to Ireland he found 
he had been away for 300 years, and every one he knew had 

The reciter had forgotten what the name of the monastery 
was, but I believe it to have been the ancient abbey and 
school at Killarney, now in ruins. I have heard that the 
things told in this story, or one similar to it, were supposed 
to have happened there. 

The river with water as red as blood reminds us of Thomas 
of Ercildoune's experience when rapt away into faerie by 
the queen. 

O, they rode on, and farther on 

And they waded through rivers above the knee, 
And they saw neither sun or moon 

But they heard the roaring of the sea. 

It was mirk, mirk night, there was nae stern light 

And they waded through red blude to the knee, 

For a* the blude that's shed on earth 

Runs through the springs of that country. 

Hence it was small wonder that the student thought that 
the musicians belonged to the Fairy-Host. 


The fact that while in the other world he ate nothing, 
is pure Pagan tradition, for as is well known from many 
stories, classical and other, whoso eats or drinks of other- 
world food is precluded from returning to this life. Pro- 
serpine would not eat in Pluto's realm or she must have re- 
mained there. The six pomegranate seeds she swallowed 
cost her six months' stay there. 

For the text of this story, see " Religious Songs of Con- 
nacht," vol. II., p. 122. 


There came a number of young people from the County 
of Galway, to a great college, to learn and gain instruction, 
so as to become priests. I often heard the name of this 
college from my mother, but I do not remember it. It was 
not Maynooth. There was a man of these of the name of 
Patrick O'Flynn. He was the son of a rich farmer. His 
father and his mother desired to make a priest of him. He 
was a nice, gentle lad. He used not to go dancing with the 
other boys in the evening, but it was his* habit to go out 
with the grey-light of day, and he used to be walking by 
himself up and down under the shadow of the great trees 
that were round about the college, and he used to remain 
there thinking and meditating by himself, until some 
person would come to bring him into his room. 

One evening, in the month of May, he went out, as was 
his custom, and he was taking his walk under the trees 
when he heard a melodious music. There came a dark- 
ness or a sort of blindness over his eyes, and when he 
found his sight again he beheld a great high wall on every 
side of him, and out in front of him a shining road. The 
musicians were on the road, and they playing melodiously, 


and he heard a voice saying," Come with us to the land of 
delight and rest." He looked back and beheld a great high 
wall behind him and on each side of him, and he was not 
able to return back again across the wall, although he 
desired to return. He went forward then after the music. 
He did not know how long he walked, but the great high 
wall kept ever on each side of him and behind him. 

He was going and ever-going, until they came to a great 
river, and water in it as red as blood. Wonder came upon 
him then, and great fear. But the musicians walked across 
the river without wetting their feet, and Patrick O'Flynn 
followed them without wetting his own. He thought at 
first that the musicians belonged to the Fairy-Host, and 
next he thought that he had died and that it was a group of 
angels that were in it, taking him to heaven. 

The walls fell away from them then, on each side, and 
they came to a great wide plain. They were going then, 
and ever-going, until they came to a fine castle that was 
in the midst of the plain. The musicians went in, but 
Patrick O'Flynn remained outside. It was not long until 
the chief of the musicians came out to him and brought 
him into a handsome chamber. He spoke not a word, and 
Patrick O'Flynn never heard one word spoken so long 
as he remained there. 

There was no night in that place, but the light of day 
throughout. He never ate and he never drank a single 
thing there, and he never saw anyone eating or drinking, 
and the music never ceased. Every half-hour, as he 
thought, he used to hear a bell, as it were a church-bell, 
being rung, but he never beheld the bell, and he was 
unable to see it in any place. 


When the musicians used to go out upon the plain 
before the castle, there used to come a tribe of every sort 
of bird in the heavens, playing the most melodious music 
that ear ever heard. It was often Patrick O'Flynn said to 
himself, " It is certain that I am in heaven, but is it not 
curious that I have no remembrance of sickness, nor of 
death, nor of judgment, and that I have not seen God nor 
His Blessed Mother, as is promised to us ? ,: 

Patrick O'Flynn did not know how long he was in that 
delightful place. He thought that he had been in it only 
for a short little time, but he was in it for a hundred years 
and one. 

One day the musicians were out in the field and he was 
listening to them, when the chief came to him. He brought 
him out and put him behind the musicians. They departed 
on their way, and they made neither stop nor stay until 
they came to the river that was as red as blood. They 
went across that, without wetting their foot-soles, and went 
forward until they came to the field near the college where 
they found him at the first. Then they departed out 
of his sight like a mist. 

He looked round him, and recognised the college, but he 
thought that the trees were higher and that there was 
some change in the college itself. He went in, then, but 
he did not recognise a single person whom he met, and not 
a person recognised him. 

The principal of the college came to him, and said 
to him, " Where are you from, son, or what is your 
name ? " 

"lam Patrick O'Flynn from the County of Galway," 

said he. 


" How long are you here ? " said the principal. 

" I am here since the first day of March," said he. 

" I think that you are out of your senses," said the 
principal, " there is no person of your name in the college, 
and there has not been for twenty years, for I am more 
than twenty years here." 

" Though you were in it since you were born, yet I am 
here since last March, and I can show you my room and 
my books." 

With that he went up the stairs, and the principal after 
him. He went into his room and looked round him, and 
said, " This is my room, but that is not my furniture, and 
those are not my books that are in it." He saw an old 
bible upon the table and he opened it, and said : " This is 
my bible, my mother gave it to me when I was coming 
here ; and, see, my name is written in it." 

The principal looked at the bible, and there, as sure 
as God is in heaven, was the name of Patrick O'Flynn 
written in it, and the day of the month that he left 

Now there was great trouble of mind on the principal, 
and he did not know what he should do. He sent for 
the masters and the professors and told them the 

" By my word," said an old priest that was in it, "I 
heard talk when I was young, of a student who went away 
out of this college, and there was no account of him since, 
whether living or dead. The people searched the river 
and the bog holes, but there was no account to be had of 
him, and they never got the body." 

The principal called to them then and bade them 


bring him a great book in which the name of every per- 
son was written who had come to that college since it was 
founded. He looked through the book, and see ! Patrick 
O'Flynn's name was in it, and the day of the month 
that he came, and this [note] was written opposite to 
his name, that the same Patrick O'Flynn had departed 
on such a day, and that nobody knew what had become 
of him. Now it was exactly one hundred and one years 
from the day he went until the day he came back in that 

" This is a wonderful, and a very wonderful story," said 
the principal, " but, do you wait here quietly my son," 
said he, " and I shall write to the bishop." He did that, 
and he got an account from the bishop to keep the man 
until he should come himself. 

At the end of a week after that th3 bishop came and 
sent for Patrick O'Flynn. There was nobody present 
except the two. " Now, son," said the bishop, "go on 
your knees and make a confession." Then he made an 
act of contrition, and the bishop gave him absolution. 
Immediately there came a fainting and a heavy sleep over 
him, and he was, as it were, for three days and three nights 
a dead person. When he came to himself the bishop and 
priests were round about him. He rose up, shook himself, 
and told them his story, as I have it told, and he put 
excessive wonder upon every man of them. " Now," 
said he, " here I am alive and safe, and do as ye 

The bishop and the priests took counsel together. " It is 
a saintly man you are," said the bishop then, " and we shall 
give you holy orders on the spot." 


They made a priest of him then, and no sooner were 
holy orders given him than he fell dead upon the altar, and 
they all heard at the same time the most melodious music 
that ear ever listened to, above them in the sky, and they 
all said that it was the angels who were in it, carrying the 
soul of Father O'Flynn up to heaven with them. 



This story was written down by my friend, CM. Hodgson, 
from the mouth of one of his brother tenants, James Mac 
Donough, near Oughterard, in Connemara. Mac Donough 
called it " Conal, King of the Cats." In a Kerry version of 
this story it is a poor scholar and a thief who make the 
bet as to whether honesty or roguery is the best for a man 
to follow. The people they meet give it in favour of the 
thief. The poor scholar loses everything, eventually his two 
eyes. His going under the tombstone is properly motivated 
by saying that he meant to die there and would then be buried 
and have a tombstone. The rest of the story is pretty much 
the same as ours. My friend, the late Patrick OXeary, 
found a story called the " Three Crows," something like this, 
where the crows talk as the cats do in our story, and where 
they end by picking out the two bad men's eyes, but there 
is no bet made, the man is simply robbed and blinded for 
no particular reason. 


There were two merchants travelling along the road 
One of them said to the other that the help of God was 
in the road. The other said it was not. 

11 How shall we find that out ? " 

" We'll leave it to the judgment of the first man we 
will meet." 


It was short they went till they met a man. They 
asked him was the help of God in the road He told 
them that it was not. Whatever the bet was that they 
had made about it, he [i.e. t the man who said that the 
help of God was in the road] had to pay. 

Well, they walked along for another while, and this 
man said that he would not give it up [or admit], that 
the help of God was not in the road. 

" What bet will you make now ? " says the other man. 
' I've nothing left now except my eye, but I'll bet it 
with you," says he. 

" Well, leave the decision to the first man who shall 
meet us." 

The next man they met said the same as the first man, 
that the help of God was not in the road. 

The other man did nothing but put his finger into the 
eye and pluck it out. 

[Yet the man said] " I'll bet the other eye with you 
that the help of God is in the road, and let it be left 
to the judgment of the next man who shall meet 

It was short they went [had gone] when a man met 
them. They asked him was the help of God in the road. 
The man said that it was not. 

He plucked the other eye out of him then. 
" Now," said he [the blind man], " take me with you 
and leave me in the church." 

He took him with him and left him in under a flagstone 
in the church. 

At that time the cats used to be collecting in gatherings. 
[They collected in that same church that night]. When 


they were all gathered together, Conall, the king of the 
cats, said that himself would tell a story if it were not that 
he was afraid that some one would be listening. 

" Let us get up and search," said some of the cats. 
They searched through the churchyard and they found 
no one. 

" It is a year from to-night that I went in to the king's 
daughter. I rubbed my tale to her mouth, and her father 
is perished looking for a cure [for her]. There are 
twelve cats in her stomach." 

" Is there anything at all to cure her ? " says one of 
the cats. 

" There is," said Conall ; "if she were to get a drop 
of the water that is in the well here, it would cure her. 
If one of those [twelve cats inside her] were to get away 
they could kill all the kingdom." 

" Is there anything else of cure in the well ? " 

" There is," said Conall ; " if any one were blind, and 
he to put a drop of that water on his eyes he would get 
his sight." 

When they had gone away then in the morning, and 
were departed, the man that was listening to them rose up 
from [under] the flag. There was a herd or shepherd 
going by. He came to this man who was blind and spoke 
to him. 

" Well, now," says the blind man, " is there any well 
here ? " 

" There is," says the herd. 

" Leave me at the brink of the well." 

He left him there. 

He just put down his hand and splashed a drop of the 


water in on his two eyes ; and he had his sight then as 
well as ever he had. 

" Well now," says he to the herd, " would you be so 
kind as to give me a bottle ? " 

" I will," says the herd. 

He filled the bottle with the water of the well and off 
he went. He was travelling until he came to the king's 
house. He asked to let him in. 

The man who was on guard said that he would not let 
him in, that the king's daughter was sick and ill. 

He sent for the king. He told him [by the messenger] 
that there was a man at the gate who would cure his 

The king came out, and told the gate keeper to let in 
the man. 

When he came in the king took him back into the cham- 
ber where his daughter was. When he looked at her 
[he saw that] she was as big as a horse 

" Now," said he to the king, " send for your men at 
arms, bring them in here." 

When the men at arms were inside, he closed the door 
outside. He told them, anything that she should throw 
out, they must cut the head off it. 

He gave her a drop of the water that was in the bottle 
to drink. The moment she drank it she threw from her 
a live cat out of her stomach. The head was cut off it 
before it reached the ground. They did the same 
with the twelve cats that she threw out of her stomach. 
She rose up then as sound and as well as ever she 

The merchant was about to go away then, but the king 


would not allow him to depart. He said that he must 
marry his daughter. 

[They were married and happy.] 

They were one day going in their coach, and they saw 
the merchant who had made the bet that the help of God 
was not in the road. He spoke to him, and the merchant 
asked him where did he get all his riches. 

11 I got it in the place where you left me, in the church." 

He [the other merchant] went away then at night, and 
he went in under the same flag, and it happened to the cats 
that they came together that night. When they were all 
assembled together. " Tell a story, O Conall, king of 
the cats," said one of them. 

" I would tell a story," said he, " but I told one this 
very night last year, and a man was listening to me, and 
he cured the king's daughter with a bottle of the water 
that was in the well." 

" We'll rise up [and look] " said the cat ; " there won't 
be anyone listening to you to-night." 

They rose up and they searched until they came to the 
place where the man was under the flag. They pulled 
him out and tore him asunder. 

That is how it happened to him on account of the bet 
he had made that the help of God was not in the road. 





Perhaps no people ever gave such free rein to the ima- 
gination with regard to the infernal regions as did the 
Irish. It began with St. Fursa, whose story was known 
to Christendom through Bede, and Adamnan's Vision 
[he died about 704] is known over Europe. The last to let 
himself go in this way was Keating. See the amazing 
alliterative description in his " Three Shafts of Death/' 
Iyeabhar III. alt 10. 

It is curious to find a Mayo peasant reproducing a little 
of this racial characteristic in the present poem. I otten 
heard of this piece and made many attempts to get it, inter- 
viewing several people who I was told had got it, but I 
failed to get more than a few lines. My friend, John 
Mac Neill, wrote down for me the present version word for 
word from the recitation of Michael Mac Ruaidhri, but 
it is obviously only fragmentary. It is full (in the original, 
both prose and verse) of curious words and forms, and 
the periphrasis the " Virgin's Garb " for the scapular is 

For the original, see " Religious Songs of Connacht," vol. 
II., p. 134. 


There was a Roman Catholic girl at service in a minis- 
ter's house, and she was wearing the Virgin Mary's garb 
(i.e., a scapular). She once was getting ready to go to 
Mass, and when she was washing herself she took the 


garb off her, and laid it on one side. The minister's son 
came in, and he began rummaging (?) backwards and 
forwards through the room, and he met the garb. He 
caught it up in his hand and observed it closely. He 
put it round his neck, and when the girl turned about 
she saw the garb on the minister's son, and she got very 
furious. She gave a step forward and she tore the garb 
off his neck. She began railing at him and abusing him. 
She told him that it was not right nor fitting for a man 
of his religion to lay hold of that garb in his hand, seeing 
that he had a hatred and a loathing of the glorious Virgin, 
" and," says she to him, " since it has happened that 
you have laid hold of the blessed garb, unless you fast 
next Friday in eric for your sin, one sight of the country 
of the heavens you shall never see." 

Grief and great unhappiness came over the minister's 
son at the abuse the girl gave him, and he told her that he 
would fast the Friday. 

It was well, and it was not ill. When the minister's son 
went to sleep that night he got a fit of sickness, and he was 
very bad in the morning, and he told his mother that he 
would not let anyone next nor near him except the servant 
girl, and that he hoped that he would not be long in the fit 
of sickness. 

There was nobody attending him but the girl, because 
he had a full determination to fast through the Friday. He 
knew very well that if his mother were coming into the 
room he would have to eat some food from her, and that 
is the reason he would not let his mother in. 

When the Friday came he never tasted bit nor sup 
throughout the day. 


On the morning of Saturday his mother asked the girl 
how he was getting on. The girl said that he was going 
on nicely [literally, " coming to land "]. But when the girl 
went in at the hour of twelve o'clock in the day he was a 
corpse, and there came a great dispiritedness [literally, 
" much-drowning "] over the girl, and she began crying. 
She went out and told his mother that he was dead. 

The story went from mouth to mouth, and one person 
said to another that it was the girl who had killed 
him ; and they did not know what awful death they would 
give her. 

There was a heap of turf over against the kitchen, and 
they tied the girl with a chain, fastened in an iron staple 
that was at the gable of the house, and as soon as ever 
they would have the body buried they were to put oil and 
grease on the turf, and give it fire, to burn and to roast the 

On Monday morning when they went into the room to 
put the corpse into the coffin, the minister's son was there 
alive and alert, in his bed ; and he told them the vision 
that he had seen. 

He saw, he said, the fires of Purgatory, the mastiffs of 
Hell, and the great Devil, Judas, and he told them that it 
was the glorious Virgin who saved him, and who got him 
his pardon. She asked it of a request of her One-Son to 
put him into the world again to teach the people, and she 
got that request for him ; and if it had not been that he 
had worn the garb of the Virgin [though] only for a 
moment, when he was on earth, he would not have seen 
one sight of the country of the heavens for ever ; but it 
was that which saved him from the lowest depths of hell. 


He spent [after that] seven years in the world teaching 
people, and telling them the right religion, and all his 
family turned Catholics, and it was the minister's son 
who composed the dan or poem. 


The body, it lies in the sleep of the dead, 

And the candles above it are burning red ; 

The old women sit, all silent and dreaming, 

But the young woman's cheeks with tears are streaming. 

Oh, listen, listen, and hear the story 

Of what are the sins that shut out from glory. 

Promises, lies, penurious hoarding, 

How troubled, how cursed, how damned the story ! 

But it was there that I saw the wonder ! 

Three great piles of fire, 

And the least fire it rose in a spire 

Like fifteen tons of turf on fire, 

Or a burning mountain, higher and higher. 

It was not long until I saw 

The three great mastiffs, 

The'r gullets opened, 

And they a-burning 

Like great wax candles 

In a mountain hollow, 

Waiting for my poor soul 

To tear and to swallow, 

To bring down to hell's foulness 

In anguish to wallow. 

I was taken to the gates of hell, 

And the hair was burnt off my forehead, 

And a sieve of holes was put through my middle ; 

It was then it stood to me, that night I fasted, 

And wore the garb of the Blessed Virgin, 

Or my flesh and my blood had been burned to a puff of ashes. 

It was then the jury of the twelve sat on me, 
Their evil will than their good will was stronger, 
And all that I did since my days of childhood 
Was writ upon paper in black and white there ; 
One paper in my hand, on the ground another, 
To conceal a crime I had no power. 


On turning round of me towards the right-hand side, 
I beheld the noble, bles ed Justice 
Beneath his bright mantle, 

And he asked of me, with soft, blessed words, 
" Where was I living when I was on the earth, 
And whether I were not the poor soul who had to go to the 

On turning round of me, towards the left-hand side, 

I beheld the Great Devil that got the bribe, 

Going to fall upon me from above [literally, " on the lop of my 

branches or limbs,"] 
And it was then that the thirst grew upon my poor soul ! 
And, oh ! God ! oh ! it was no wonder ! 

I looked up and beheld the Blessed Virgin, 

I asked a request of her to save me from the foul devils. 

She lowered herself down actively, quickly, 

She laid herself upon her polished smooth knee 

And asked a request of her One-Son and her child, 

To put me in the top of the branches, or in the fold of a stone, 

Or under the ground where the weasel goes, 

Or on the north side where the snow blows, 

Or in the same body again to teach the people, 

— And the blessing of God to the mouth that tells it. 



The Old Woman of Beare may, perhaps, have been an 
historical personage. Kuno Meyer has printed a touching 
poem (of the nth century as he thinks) ascribed to her. 
" It is the lament of an old hetaira who contrasts the pri- 
vations and sufferings of her old age with the pleasures of 
her youth when she had been the delight of kings." The 
ancient prose preface runs, " The Old Woman of Beare, 
Digdi was her name. Of Corcaguiny she was, i.e., of the 
Ui Maic Iair-chonchinn. Of them also was Brigit, daughter 
of Iustan, and Liadain, the wife of Cuirither, 1 and Uallach, 
daughter of Muinegan. 2 Saint Finan had left them 
a charter that they should never be without an illustrious 

woman of their race She hadseven periods of 

youth, one after another, so that every man who had lived 
with her came to die of old age, so that her grandsons and 
great-grandsons were tribes and races." Legends about 
her are common all over Ireland, and even verses are 
ascribed to her. There is another story about her in 
O Fotharta's " Siamsa an Gheimhridh," p. 116. She was 
either a real character, an early Ninon de 1'Enclos, or else 
a mythic personage euphemized by the romancists. 

There is a short legend about her under the title of Mor 
ni Odhrain, written down in County Donegal by, I think, 
Mr. Ivloyd, in which O'Donnell comes to visit her, and 
counts the bones of 500 beeves, one of which she had killed 
every year. Mr. Timony found the same story in Blacksod 

1 A poetess and the heroine of the tale, " The Meeting of I^iadain 
and Cuirither," published by Kuno Meyer. 

2 A poetess who died in 932. 


Bay, only she was there called "Aine an chnuic." She is 
said in one version to have resided in " Teach Mor," 
" the house furthest west in Ireland/' which Mr. Lloyd 
identified with Tivore on the Dingle promontory, and in a 
southern version which I also give she is called The Old 
Woman of Dingle. 

The vision told here as having been seen by the Old Woman 
is extremely like a story in the " Dialogus Miraculorum 
of Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dist. xii., cap. 20, quoted by 
Landau in his " Quellen des Dekameron," and again by 
Lee in " The Decameron, its Sources and Analogues." It 
runs as follows : — 

" The leman of a priest before her death had made 
for herself shoes with thick soles, saying ' bury me in them 
for I shall want them.' The night of her death a knight 
was riding down the street in the bright moonlight, 
accompanied by his attendants, when they heard a 
woman screaming for help. It was this woman in 
her shift, and with the new shoes on her feet, fleeing 
from a hunter. One could hear the terrible sound of 
his horn and the yelping of his hounds. The knight 
seized the woman by her hanging tresses, wound them 
round his left arm, and drew his sword to protect her. The 
woman, however, cried out, " Let me go, let me go, he is 
coming." As the knight, however, would not let her go, 
she tore herself away from him, and in so doing left her locks 
wound round his arm ; the hunter then caught her up, 
threw her across his horse and rode away with her. On the 
knight returning home he related what he had seen and was 
not believed until they opened the woman's grave and found 
that her hair was missing." 

This is obviously the same story as that in our text, with 
the incidents of the knight and the hair omitted. 

It contains, however, (1) the woman and her particular 
sin ; (2) the fleeing before the hounds ; (3) the pursuing 
huntsman ; though in peculiarly Irish fashion, it is merci- 
fully left uncertain as to whether she was overtaken or not. 

The 8th novel of the 5th day of the Decameron seems to 
have been drawn from some cognate source. The hero 
perceives " correndo verso il luogo dove egli era una 


bellissima giovane ignuda — piagnendo e gridando forte 
merce. E oltre a questo le vide a fianchi due grandissimi 
e fieri mastini." This is the soul of a dead woman with 
hell-hounds pursuing her. The very word " mastini " 
being the same as in the Irish story. 

In the second incident that happened to the Cailleach 
there appears to be a reminiscence of Sindbad the sailor. 
But the story of the four herds who lifted the bier which 
all the men at the funeral had been unable to move, is 
told somewhat differently at p. 36 of Michael Timony's 
"Sgealta gearra so-leighte an iarthair." It is there put 
into the mouth of "Aine an chnuic," Aine of the hill, 
who may be the same as the "Old Woman of Beare," 
and the four herds, the coffin — and a rider on a black horse 
who accompanied them — all disappeared in the side 
of a rock which opened to receive them and closed after 
them. "Aine" of " Cnoc Aine," or "Aine's hill," was 
the queen of the Limerick Fairies, but I hardly think that 
it is she who has got into the Mayo folk, tale. 

There is a proverb in Connacht which says, speaking of 
the oldest lives in the world, " the life of the yew tree, the 
life of the eagle, 1 and the life of the Old Woman of Beare." 

See Kuno Meyer's edition of the song of the Old Woman 
of Beare in " Otia Merseiana " and " O Fotharta's Siamsa 
an Gheimhridh," p. 116, see also " The Vision of Mac 
Conglinne," p. 132, and my " Sgeuluidhe Gaedhealach." 

The following story I wrote down very carefully word 
for word, about fifteen years ago, from the telling of Michael 
Mac Ruaidhri, of Ballycastle, Co. Mayo. 


There was an old woman in it, and long ago it was, 
and if we had been there that time we would not be here 
now ; we would have a new story or an old story, and 

1 See the story " The Adventures of I,eithin." 


that would not be more likely than to be without any 
story at all. 

The hag was very old, and she herself did not know 
her own age, nor did anybody else. There was a friar 
and his boy journeying one day, and they came in to the 
house of the Old Woman of Beare. 

" God save you," said the friar. 

' The same man save yourself," said the hag ; " you're 
welcome, 1 sit down at the fire and warm yourself.'' 

The friar sat down, and when he had well finished 
warming himself he began to talk and discourse with the 
old hag. 

" If it's no harm of me to ask it of you, I'd like to know 
your age, because I know you are very old " [said the friar], 

" It is no harm at all to ask me," said the hag ; " I'll 
answer you as well as I can. There is never a year since 
I came to age that I used not to kill a beef, and throw the 
bones of the beef up on the loft which is above your head. 
If you wish to know my age you can send your boy up 
on the loft and count the bones. 

True was the tale. The friar sent the boy up on the 
loft and the boy began counting the bones, and with all 
the bones that were on the loft he had no room on the loft 
itself to count them, and he told the friar that he would 
have to throw the bones down on the floor — that there 
was no room on the loft. 

" Down with them," said the friar, " and I'll keep 
count of them from below." 

The boy began throwing them down from above and the 

1 Literally. ' He (i.e., God) is your life " ; the equivalent of 
" hail ! " " welcome." 


friar began writing down [the number] , until he was about 
tired out, and he asked the boy had he them nearly 
counted, and the boy answered the friar down from the 
loft that he had not even one corner of the loft emptied 

' If that's the way of it, come down out of the loft and 
throw the bones up again," said the friar 

The boy came down, and he threw up the bones, and 
[so] the friar was [just] as wise coming in as he was going 

' Though I don't know your age," said the friar to the 
hag, " I know that you haven't lived up to this time 
without seeing marvellous things in the course of your 
life, and the greatest marvel that you ever saw — tell it to 
me, if you please." 

" I saw one marvel which made me wonder greatly," 
said the hag. 

" Recount it to me," said the Friar, " if you please." 

" I myself and my girl were out one day, milking 
the cows, and it was a fine, lovely day, and I was just 
after milking one of the cows, and when I raised my head 
I looked round towards my left hand, and I saw a great 
blackness coming over my head in the air. " Make 
haste," says myself to the girl, " until we milk the cows 
smartly, or we'll be wet and drowned before we reach home, 
with the rain." I was on the pinch 1 of my life and so 
was my girl, to have the cows milked before we'd get the 
shower, for I thought myself that it was a shower that 
was coming, but on my raising my head again I looked 

1 Literally, " the boiling of the angles-between-the-fingers was on 


round me and beheld a woman coming as white as the 
swan that is on the brink of the waves. She went past 
me like a blast of wind, and the wind that was before her 
she was overtaking it, and the wind that was behind her, 
it could not come up with her. It was not long till I saw 
after the woman two mastiffs, and two yards of their tongue 
twisted round their necks, and balls of fire out of their 
mouths, and I wondered greatly at that. And after the 
dogs I beheld a black coach and a team of horses drawing 
it, and there were balls of fire on every side out of the 
coach, and as the coach was going past me the beasts 
stood and something that was in the coach uttered from 
it an unmeaning sound, and I was terrified, and faintness 
came over me, and when I came back out of the faint I 
heard the voice in the coach again, asking me had I seen 
anything going past me since I came there ; and I told him 
as I am telling you, and I asked him who he was himself, 
or what was the meaning of the woman and the mastiffs 
which went by me. 

" I am the Devil, and those are two mastiffs which I 
sent after that soul." 

" And is it any harm for me to ask," says I, " what 
is the crime the woman did when she was in the 
world ? " 

" That is a woman," said the Devil, " who brought 
scandal upon a priest, and she died in a state of deadly 
sin, and she did not repent of it, and unless the mastiffs 
come up with her before she comes to the gates of Heaven 
the glorious Virgin will come and will ask a request of her 
only Son to grant the woman forgiveness for her sins, 
and the Virgin will obtain pardon for her, and I'll be out 


of her. But if the mastiffs come up with her before she 
goes to Heaven she is mine. ,, 

The great Devil drove on his beasts, and went out of 
my sight, and myself and my girl came home, and I was 
heavy, and tired and sad at remembering the vision which I 
saw, and I was greatly astonished at that wonder, and I 
lay in my bed for three days, and the fourth day I arose 
very done up and feeble, and not without cause, since any 
woman who would see the wonder that I saw, she would 
be grey a hundred years before her term of life 1 was 

" Did you ever see any other marvel in your time ? ,: 
says the friar to the hag. 

" A week after leaving my bed I got a letter telling 
me that one of my friends was dead, and that I would have 
to go to the funeral. I proceeded to the funeral, and on 
my going into the corpse-house the body was in the coffin, 
and the coffin was laid down on the bier, and four men 
went under the bier that they might carry the coffin, and 
they weren't able to even stir 2 the bier off the ground. 
And another four men came, and they were not able 
to move it off the ground. They were coming, man after 
man, until twelve came, and went under the bier, and they 
weren't able to lift it. 

" I spoke myself, and I asked the people who were at the 
funeral what sort of trade had this man when he was in 
the world, and it was told me that it was a herd he was. 
And I asked of the people who were there was there any 
other herd at the funeral. Then there came four men 

1 Literally, " before her age being spent." 2 Literally, " give it wind." 


that nobody at all who was at the funeral had any know- 
ledge or recognition of, and they told me that they were 
four herds, and they went under the bier and they lifted 
it as you would lift a handful of chaff, and off they went 
as quick and sharp as ever they could lift a foot. Good 
powers of walking they had, and a fine long step I had 
myself, and I cut out after them, and not a mother's son 
knew what the place was to which they were departing 
with the body, and we were going and ever going until 
the night and the day were parting from one another, 
until the night was coming black dark dreadful, until the 
grey horse was going under the shadow of the docking 
and until the docking was going fleeing before him. 1 

The roots going under the ground, 

The leaves going into the air, 
The grey horse a-neeing apace, 

And I left lonely there. 

" On looking round me, there wasn't one of all the 
funeral behind me, except two others. The other people 
were done up, and they were not able to come half way, 
some of them fainted and some of them died. Going 
forward two steps more in front of me I was within in a 
dark wood wet and cold, and the ground opened, and I 
was swallowed down into a black dark hole without a 
mother's son or a father's daughter 2 next nor near me, 
without a man to be had to keen me or to lay me out ; so 
that I threw myself on my two knees, and I was there 
throughout four days sending my prayer up to God to 

1 The fairies ride their little grey horse*, and stable them at night 
under the leaves of the copog or dock-leaf, or docking. But if they 
arrive too late and night has fallen, then the copog has folded her 
leaves and will not shelter them 

2 Literally, " man's daughter." 


take me out of that speedily and quickly. And with the 
fourth day there came a little hole like the eye of a needle 
on one corner of the abode where I was ; and I was 
a-praying always and the hole, was a-growing in size day 
by day, and on the seventh day it increased to such a size 
that I got out through it. I took to my heels 1 then when 
I got my feet with me on the outside [of the hole] going 
home. The distance which I walked in one single day 
following the coffin, I spent five weeks coming back the 
same road, and don't you see yourself now that I got 
cause to be withered, old, aged, grey, and my life to be 
shortening through those two perils in which I was." 

" You're a fine, hardy old woman all the time," said 
the friar. 

1 Literally, " I gave to the soles." Many people still say in speak- 
ing English, " I gave to the butts." The Irish word means butt as 
well as sole. 




It is quite obvious that this story from south-west Kerry 
represents in a feebler manner the same tradition as the 
story which we have just given from north Mayo, about 
the Old Woman of Beare. Note that in the Mayo story 
the appearance of the woman was also prefaced by the 
blackness of a shower. It is to the Old Woman of Beare that 
the answer is ascribed in Connacht in which she gives the 
reason for her longevity, only it is differently worded there. 

I never carried the dirt of one puddle beyond another (?) 

I never ate food, but when I would be hungry. 

I never went to sleep but when I would be sleepy. 

I never threw out the dirty water until I had taken in the clean. 

This Kerry version of the story was written down by 
Seamus Shean Ua Connaill, of Sgoil Chill Roilig, and pub- 
lished in " The Lochrann, Mi Eanair agus Feabhra," 191 1. 

In Donegal the reasons given are : — 

I never ate a morsel till I'd be hungry, 

I never drank a drop till I'd be thirsty. 

I never sat at the fire without being working. 

If I had not work of my own to do I got it from somebody else." 


There was a woman in Dingle long ago. She lived 
300 years and more. Her name was the Old Hag of 
Dingle. The story spread throughout Ireland that she 


had lived for 300 years, and many people used to come to 
see her. 

The Emperor of France and the Earl of Kerry and 
many other kings and princes came journeying to her, 
and they asked her what age she was. She told them 
that she was 300 years and more. They asked her what 
it was in her opinion which gave her so long a life, beyond 
any one else. 

She told them that she did not know that, except that 
her little finger and the palm of her hand never saw the 
air, and that she never remained in her bed but as long 
as she would be sleepy, and that she never ate meat except 
when she would be hungry. 

She would not herself give any other account of the 
reason for her long life except that. They said to her 
that they were sure that she had seen many a marvel, 
seeing that she had lived all that time. 

She said that she never saw anything that she could 
marvel at particularly, except one day [said she] that 
gentlemen were here and wanted to go out to the Skelligs, 
and they got a crew. There was a young priest who was 
here along with them. They went off and a boat with 
them. A very fine day it was. 

She told them that when they were half way to the 
Skelligs, the men saw the shower 1 coming along the sea 
from the north-west, and the weather growing cold. Fear 
came upon them and they said to face the boat for the land, 
but the priest told them to keep up their courage, and 
that there would be no land now, and that perhaps with the 

1 Note the Irish idiom — the definite for the indefinite article. 



help of God there was no danger of them. The shower 
was coming on, and the priest said that he himself saw 
a woman in the shower, and a very great fear came upon 
them then ; but when the shower was coming idown] 
on them they all saw her, and her face in the shower, 
against the wind. When she was making for them the 
priest moved over to the stern of the boat, he took to him 
his stole and put it round his neck. He said : 

" What have you done that has damned you ? " 

" I killed an unbaptized child," said she. 

" That did not damn you," said the priest. 

" I killed two," said she. 

" That also did not damn you," said he. 

" I killed three," said she. 

" Ah ! that damned you," said he. He drew to him 
his book. He did a little reading on her. She turned her 
back then. He gave her that much advantage. They 
went off then and the weather cleared for them, and 
they went on their way to the Skelligs. They went all 
over the Skelligs and they came home. 

' I saw that, and that was the greatest wonder I ever 
saw," said she. 



I have heard more than one poem in which occurs a dia- 
logue between a living person and the soul of a dead man. 
I got the following from Mr. John Kearney, a schoolmaster, 
at Belmullet, Co. Mayo. The poem is well known round 
Belmullet, but I have a suspicion that this version of it is 
not complete. I have not been able, however, to secure 
a fuller one. It is locally known as the Dan or Poem of the 
Tor. This Tor is a rock in the sea some twelve miles from 
land. There is a lighthouse upon it now, but of course that 
was not so when the poem took shape, and no more lonesome 
place than it for a soul dreeing its weird could be conceived. 
The soul was put to do penance on this solitary rock. With 
the verse about the soul parting from the body under rain 
under wind, compare the fine North of England wake-dirge 
with the refrain- — 

Fire and sleet and candle light. 
And Christ receive thy saule. 

I have come across other allusions in Irish unpublished 
literature, prayers, etc., to the South being the side of 
the good angels and the North the side of the bad ones. 

On the side of the north black walls of fire, 
On the side of the south the people of Christ. 

The " geilt" which the interlocutor supposes that the ghost 
may be, is a person who goes wild in madness, and such a 
one was supposed to have the power of levitation, and to 
be able to raise himself in the air and fly. See the extra- 
ordinary story of Suibhne Geilt, vol. xii. of the Irish Texts 
Society. See my " Religious Songs of Connacht," vol. i., 
p. 270. 




fellow yonder on the mountain 
Who art being tortured at the Tor, 

[I put] a question on thee in the name of Jesus, 
Art thou a man of this world or a geilt ? 


Since the question is put in the name of Jesus, 
Indeed I shall answer it for thee : 

1 am not a person of this world, nor a geilt, 
But a poor soul who has left this world, 
And who never went to God's heaven since. 


[I put] a question to thee again 
Without doing thee harm : 
How long since thou didst leave this world, 
Or art thou there ever since ? 


Twenty years last Sunday 

The soul parted with the [evil] -inclined body, 

Under rain, under wind ; 

And if it were not for the blessing of the poor on the world, 

I would be hundreds of years more there. 

When I was upon the world 

I was happy and airy, 

And I desired to draw profit to myself, 

But I am [now] in great tribulation, paying for that. 

When I used to go to Sunday Mass 

It was not mercy I used to ask for my soul, 

But jesting and joking with young men, 

And the body of my Christ before me. 

When I would arrive home again 

It was not of the voice of the priest I would be thinking, 

But of the fine great possessions 

I left behind me at home. 

Good was my haggard and my large house ; 

And my brightness (?) to go out to the gathering, 

Riding on a young steed, 

Banquet and feast before me. 

I set no store by my soul, 

Until I saw the prowess of Death assembling : 

On the side of the north, black walls of fire 

On the side of the south the people of Christ 

Gathering amongst the angels, 

The Glorious Virgin hastening them. 


" I do not know," says Peter, 
" Does Christ recognize him ? " 

I do not know," said Christ, 
" Bitter alas ! I do not recognize him." 

Then spake the Glorious Virgin, 

And lowered herself on her white knees, 

'' O my son, was it not for thee were prepared 

The heaps of embers 

To burn thy noble body ?" 

Mother, helpful, glorious, 

If it be thy will to take him to heaven, 

1 let him with thee, 

And surely one thousand years at the Tor were better for 

Than one single hour in foul hell. 




This very interesting story of Columcille's brother, 
Dobhran, is common amongst Highlanders, but I have 
found no trace of it in Ireland, nor any mention of a Dobhran. 
This particular version was written down by the late Rev. 
Father Allan MacDonald, of Eriskay, who collected a great 
deal of the folk-lore of that island. The same story was told 
to me, but somewhat differently, by a Canadian priest from 
Sydney, Nova Scotia, one of the Clan MacAdam (really 
Mac Eudhmoinn) and the sixth in descent from the first 
refugee of his name who fled to Canada after Culloden. 
He said he had often heard the story, and that Dobhran 
when he climbed to the edge of the grave uttered three 
sentences, but two of them he had forgotten, the third was 
" cha n'eil an iorron chomh dona agus a thathar ag radh," 
(sic.) i.e., " Hell is not as bad as people say." It was 
then Columcille cried out, " liir, uir air Dobhran." " Clay, 
clay on Dobhran's mouth before he says any more ! " l 

Here follow some stories from Irish sources about Colum- 
cille himself. His life was written at considerable length by 
Adamnan, one of his successors in the Abbacy of Iona, 
who was born only twenty-seven years after Columcille's 
death, and has come down to us in the actual manuscript 
written by a man who died in 713 ; to that we know a good 
deal about the saint. There exist five other lives of him. 
According to the Leabhar Breac he died of self-imposed 

1 See Celtic Review, vol. V., p. 107. 


Columcille's Fasting. 

Colum's angel, whose name was Axal (a name derived 
from " Auxilium ") requested him to " take virginity 
around him," but he refused " unless a reward therefor " 
be given to him. " What reward seekest thou/' said the 
angel. " I declare/' said Columcille, " it is not one reward 
but four." " Mention them/' said the angel. " I will," 
said Columcille, ' ' namely, A death in Repentance, A death 
from Hanger, and death in Youth 1 — for hideous are bodies 
through old age." " Even more shall be given thee," said 
the angel, " for thou shalt be chief prophet of heaven and 

And that was fulfilled. He went into pilgrimage, and 
he was young when he died, and of hunger he perished, 
but it was wilful hunger. 

And this is the cause of that hunger of his. Once it came 
to pass as he was going round the graveyard in Iona that he 
saw an old woman cutting nettles to make pottage thereof. 
" Why art thou doing that, poor woman ? " said Colum- 
cille. " O dear father," quoth she, " I have one cow and 
she has not calved yet, and I am expecting it, and this is what 
has served rne for a long time back." 

Columcille then determines that pottage of nettles 
should be the thing that should most serve him thenceforth 
for ever, and said, " Since it is because cf her expecting the 
one uncertain cow that she is in this great hunger, meet 
were [the same] for us though great be the hunger wherein 
we shall abide expecting God. For better and certain is what 
we expect, the eternal kingdom." And he said to his servant, 
" Pottage of nettles give thou to me every night without 
butter, without a sip therewith." 

" It shall be done," said the cook. And he bores the 
mixing stick of the pottage so that it became a pipe, and he 
used to pour the milk into that pipe and mix it all through 

1 See Stokes' Calendar of Oengus, p. xcix. The fourth request is 
not mentioned, nor yet in O'Donnell's Life, where the storv is 
much better told. See " Zeitschrift far Celt. Philologie," vol. IV. 
p. 278, 


the pottage. Then the church folk notice this, namely, 
the cleric's goodly shape, and they talk of it among them- 
selves. This is made known to Columcille, and then he 
said, " May they who take your place be always 
murmuring !" 

' Well ! " quoth he to the servant, " what do you put for 
me into the pottage every day? " " Thou thyself are witness" 
said the man, " but unless it comes out of the stick with which 
the pottage is mixed, I know of nothing else therein save 
pottage only." 

Then the secret is revealed to the cleric and he said, 
'* Prosperity and good-deed for ever to thy successor," said 
he. And this is fulfilled. 

It was then, too, that Boethine told him the remarkable 
vision he had, namely, three chairs seen by him in heaven ; 
to wit, a chair of gold, and a chair of silver, and a chair of 
glass. " [The meaning of] that is manifest," said Colum- 
cille, "the chair of gold is Ciaran 1 son of the carpenter, for 
his generosity and hospitality ; the chair of silver is thou thy- 
self, Boethine, because of the purity and lustre of thy 
devotion ; the chair of glass is I myself, for, though my 
devotion is delightful, I am fleshly and I am often frail !" 
As a certain poet said — 

Colum, fair formed, powerful, 
Face red, broad, radiant, 
Body white, fame without deceit, 
Hair curling, eye grey, luminous. 

St. Patrick prophesied the coming of Columcille, accord- 
ing to the great Life of Columcille, written by Manus 
O'Donnell, at Lifford, in the year 1532, of which more than 
one contemporary vellum copy exists. 2 

St. Patrick Prophesies Concerning Columcille.s 

Once upon a time, as Patrick was finding labour and great 
inconvenience in converting the men of Ireland and their 

1 For Ciaran, see the story of the Eagle Leithin. 

2 The Bodleian copy consists of 120 pages of vellum, each leaf 
measuring 17 by 1 1 J inches. 

3 See Zeitschrift fiir Celt, Phil. vol. III. p. 534, translated by Dr. 


women to the faith, he was sorry that he did not know how 
they would be off for faith and for piety after his own time, 
or how would God prosper them, seeing all the labour he 
was getting from them. And he used to pray to God 
earnestly to give him knowledge of that. 

Then an angel came to him and addressed him, saying 
that it was according to the vision to be revealed to him 
in his sleep the coming night, that Ireland would be, as 
regards the faith during his own life, and after him for 
evermore. And this is the vision that was given him [the 
next night]. 

He saw all Ireland red on fire, and the flame which rose 
from it went up into the further aerial spaces, and afterwards 
he saw that fire being quenched, only big hills remained on 
fire, far apart from one another ; and then again he saw how 
even the hills went out, except something like lamps or 
candles which remained alight in the place of each hill. He 
saw again even those go out, and only embers or sparks 
with a gloom upon them remaining ; however, these smoul- 
dered in a few places far scattered throughout Ireland. 

The same angel came to him and told him that those were 
the conditions through which Ireland should pass after him. 
Upon hearing that, Patrick wept bitterly, and spoke with a 
great voice and said : " O God of all power, dost Thou 
desire to damn and to withdraw Thy mercy from the people 
to whom Thou didst send me to bring a knowledge of 
Thyself. Though I am unworthy that Thou shouldst 
hear me, O Lord, calm Thy anger in their regard, and 
receive the people of this island of Ireland into Thy own 

And on his finishing these words, the angel spoke in a 
pacifying tone, and said, " Look to the north of thee," said 
he, " and thou shalt behold the change of God's right hand." 
Patrick did as the angel bade him, for he looked to the north, 
and he beheld a light arising there, not great at first, then 
waxing and tearing the darkness asunder, so that all Ireland 
was lighted by it as by the first flame, and he saw it go 
through the same stages afterwards. 

And the angel explained the meaning of that vision to 
Patrick, saying that Ireland would be alight with faith and 


piety during his own time, but that darkness would come 
over that light at his death. However, there would be good 
people here and there in Ireland after him, as were the far- 
sundered hills on fire ; but when those good people died 
there would come people not so good in their stead, like the 
lamps and candles of which we have spoken already, and that 
the faith would be sustained by them only as the embers 
that were in gloom and mist, until the son of eternal light 
should come, namely Columcille. And although little 
at first, in coming into the world, nevertheless he would 
sow and preach the word of God and increase the faith, 
so that Ireland should blaze up in his time as it did in the 
time of Patrick ; and that it would never blaze in the same 
way again, although there would be good pious people after 
him. And that the Church of Ireland would go into decay 
at the end of time after that, so that there would be, there, 
of faith and piety, only a semblance of the embers, or little 
sparks covered with gloom and darkness of which we have 
spoken already. 


Columcille began to build on Iona. He gathered 
together a great host of people. But all that he used to 
build in the day, it used to be thrown down at night. 
That drove him to set people to keep a watch on Iona. 
Every morning those men [whom he had set to watch] 
used to be dead at the foot of Iona. He did not continue 
long to set people to watch there, but since he himself 
was a holy man he went and remained watching Iona to 
try if he could see or find out what was going wrong with 
it. He was keeping to it and from it, and they were saying 
that it was on the scaur of the crag near the sea that she 
was, I did not see her. 

He saw a Biast coming off the shore and one half of it 


was a fish and the other half in the likeness of a woman. 
She was old, with scales. When she shook herself she 
set Iona and the land a-quaking. There went from her 
a tinkling sound as it were earthenware pigs (jars) a-shaking. 
Columcille went down to meet her and spoke to her, 
and asked her did she know what was killing the people 
whom he was setting to watch Iona in the night. She 
said she did. " What was happening to them ? " said he. 
She said, " Nothing but the fear that seized them at her 
appearance ; that when she was a-coming to land the 
heart was leaping out of its cockles 1 with them." 

" Do you know," said he, " what is throwing down 
Iona that I am building ? " 

" I do," said she, " Iona will be for ever falling so, O 
holy Columcille. It is not I who am throwing it down, 
but still it is being thrown down." 2 

' Do you know now any means by which I can make 
Iona go forward ? " 

" I do," said she. " O holy Columcille, to-morrow you 
shall question all the people that you have at work to find 
out what man will consent to offer himself alive [to be 
buried] under the ground, and his soul shall be saved if 
he consents to do that, and people shall never see me here 
afterwards. Iona shall go forward without any doubt." 

On the morrow he put the question to the great host 
of people, " Was there any one of them at all who would 
consent to offer himself alive on condition that his soul 
should be saved in heaven ? " 

1 The " cockles of the heart " is <* common expression in Anglo- 
Irish. It is taken from the Irish, ^nchall, meaning really a cowl. 
2 Thathar ag a leagadh. The autonomous form in Scotch Gaelic. 


There was not one man of them willing to go into the grave 
although he was told that his soul would be saved by the 
decree of God. She [the Blast] had told him too that the 
grave had to be seven times as deep as the man's length. 

Poor Dobhran, his brother, was on the outskirts of the 
crowd. He came over and stood behind his brother, 
Columcille, and said that he was quite willing to be offered 
up alive under the ground on condition that Iona might 
be built up by his holy brother Columcille, and he gave 
credence to Columcille that his soul would be saved by 
the decree of God. 

Said Columcille, "Although I have no other brother 
but poor Dobhran, I am pleased that he has offered himself 
to go to the grave, and that the Blast shall not be seen 
coming any more to the shore for ever." 

The grave was made seven times the height of the 
man in depth. When Dobhran saw the grave he turned 
to Columcille and asked him as a favour to put a roof over 
the grave and to leave him there standing so long as it 
might please God to leave him alive. 

He got his request — to be put down alive into the grave. 
He was left there. 

Columcille came and began to work at Iona [again], 
and he was twenty days working, and Iona was going 
forward wondrously. He was pleased that his work was 

At the end of twenty days when everything was con- 
jectured to be going on well, he said it were right to look 
what end had come to poor Dobhran, and [bade] open 
the grave. 

Dobhran was walking on the floor of the grave [when 


the roof was taken off] . When Dobhran saw that the grave 
was opened and when he heard all the world round it, 
he gave an expert leap out of it to the mouth of the grave 
and he put up his two hands on high on the mouth of the 
grave. He supported himself on the [edge of the] grave 
[by his hands.] There was a big smooth meadow 
going up from Iona and much rushes on it. All the 
rushes that Dobhran's eyes lit upon grew red, and that 
little red top is on the rushes ever. 

Columcille cried out and he on the far side, " Clay ! 
clay on Dobhran's eyes ! before he see any more of the 
world and of sin ! " 

They threw in the clay upon him then and returned to 
their work. And nothing any more went against Colum- 
cille until he had Iona finished. 


A Curse 


This extraordinary piece of cursing cannot properly 
be called folk-lore. It is purely pagan in spirit, though the 
poet has called upon the Deity under all the appellations 
by which he was known to the Gaels, as King of Sunday (see 
the story of Shaun the Tinker), the One Son, the King of the 
Angels, the King of Luan (Monday or Judgment day), the 
King of Brightness, the Son of the Virgin, etc. I know 
nothing certain about the circumstances which gave rise 
to this amazing effusion. It cannot be very old, however, 
since the last verse mentions the " black peeler." Possibly 
it was composed not more than seventy years ago. The poet 
has cleverly interwoven the names of his three enemies in all 
sorts of different collocations. I give the piece as of interest 
though not actual folk-lore. It was first published in Iris- 
leabhar na Gaedhilge by Father Dinneen. For the original 
and other curses of the same nature, see "Religious Songs of 
Connacht," vol. II., p. 274. 


Bruadar and Smith and Glinn, 
Amen, dear God, I pray, 

May they lie low in waves of woe, 
And tortures slow each day ! 

Amen ! 

Bruadar and Smith and Glinn 
Helpless and cold, I pray, 

Amen ! I pray, O King, 
To see them pine away. 

Amen ! 


Bruadar and Smith and Glinn 

May flails of sorrow flay ! 
Cause for lamenting, snares and cares 

Be theirs by night and day ! 

Amen ! 

Blindness come down on Smith, 

Palsy on Bruadar come, 
Amen, O King of Brightness ! Smite 

Glinn in his members numb, 

Amen ! 

Smith in the pangs of pain, 

Stumbling on Bruadar's path, 
King of the Elements, Oh, Amen ! 

Let loose on Glinn Thy wrath. 

Amen ! 

For Bruadar gape the grave, 

Up-shovel for Smith the mould, 
Amen, O King of the Sunday ! Leave 

Glinn in the devil's hold. 

Amen ! 

Terrors on Bruadar rain, 

And pain upon pain on Glinn, 
Amen, O King of the Stars ! and Smith 

May the devil be linking him. 

Amen ! 

Glinn in a shaking ague, 

Cancer on Bruadar's tongue, 
Amen, O King of the Heavens ! and Smith 

For ever stricken dumb. 

Amen ! 

Thirst but no drink for Glinn, 

Smith in a cloud of grief, 
Amen ! O King of the Saints ! and rout 

Bruadar without relief. 

Amen ! 

Smith without child or heir, 

And Bruadar bare of store, 
Amen, O King of the Friday ! Tear 

For Glinn his black heart's core. 


Bruadar with nerveless limbs, 

Hemp strangling Glmn's last breath. 

Amen, O King of the World's Light ! 
And Smith in grips with death. 

Amen ! 


Glinn stiffening for the tomb, 

Smith wasting to decay, 
Amen, King of the Thunder's gloom ! 

And Bruadar sick alway. 


Smith like a sieve of holes, 
Bruadar with throat decay, 

Amen, King of the Orders ! Glinn 
A buck-show every day. 

Amen ! 

Hell-hounds to hunt for Smith, 
Glinn led to hang on high, 

Amen, King of the Judgment Day I 
And Bruadar rotting by. 

Amen ! 

Curses on Glinn, I cry, 
My curse on Bruadar be, 

Amen, O King of the Heaven's high I 
Let Smith in bondage be. 

Amen I 

Showers of want and blame, 
Reproach, and shame of face, 

Smite them all three, and smite again, 
Amen, O King of Grace ! 

Amen ! 

Me-t, may the three, away, 
Bruadar and Smith and Glinn, 

Fall in a swift and sure decay 
And lose, but never win. 

Amen ! 

May pangs pass through thee Smith, 
(Let the wind not take my prayer), 

May I see before the year is out 
Thy heart's blood flowing there. 

Amen 1 

Leave Smith no place nor land, 
Let Bruadar wander wide. 

May the Devil stand at Glinn's right hand, 
And Glinn to him be tied. 

Amen ! 

All ill from every airt 

Come down upon the three, 

And blast them ere the year be out 
In rout and misery. 

Amen ! 


Glinn let misfortune bruise, 

Bruadar lose blood and brains. 
Amen, O Jesus ! hear my voice, 

Let Smith be bent in chains. 

Amen ! 

I accuse both Glinn and Bruadar, 

And Smith I accuse to God, 
May a breach and a gap be upon the three, 

And the Lord's avenging rod. 

Amen ! 

I$ach one of the wicked three 

Who raised against me their hand, 
May fire from heaven come down and slay 

This day their perjured band, 

Amen 1 

May none of their race survive, 

May God destroy them all, 
Each curse of the psalms in the holy books 

Of the prophets upon them .fall ! 

Amen ! 

Blight skull, and ear, and skin, 

And hearing, and voice, and sight, 
Amen ! before the year be out, 

Blight, Son of the Virgin, blight ! 

Amen ! 

May my curses hot and red 

And all I have said this day, 
Strike the Black Peeler too, 

Amen, dear God, I pray I 

Amen ! 




This story was written down, word for word, and given 
me by my friend Mr. C. M. Hodgson, from the telling of James 
Mac Donagh, one of his brother tenants, near Oughterard, 
Co. Galway. It is obvious that the story is only a frag- 
ment, and very obscure, but it is worth preserving 
if only for the sake of Friar Brian's striking answer to 
the Devil, which would come home with particular force 
to all who have ever bought or sold at an Irish fair ; 
the acceptance of " earnest " money is the clinching 
of the bargain, behind which you cannot go. If you 
receive " earnest " in the morning you may not sell again, 
no matter how much higher a price may have been offered 
you before evening. I have heard another story about 
Friar Brian. 


There was a young man in it long ago, and long ago 
it was, and he had a great love for card-playing and 
drinking whiskey. He came short [at last] of money, 
and he did not know what he would do without money. 
A man met him, and he going home in the night. 
" I often see you going home this road," said the man 
to him. 

There's no help for it now," says he ; 'I have no 


" Now," says the man, " I'll give you money every 
time you'll want it, if you will give to me written with 
your own blood [a writing to say] that you are mine such 
and such a year, at the end of one and twenty years." 

It was the Devil who was in it in the shape of a 

He gave it to him written with his share of blood 
that he would be his at the end of one and twenty years. 

He had money then every time ever he wanted it until 
the one and twenty years were almost out, and then fear 
began coming on him. He went to the priest and he 
told it [all] to him. " I could not do any good for you," 
says the priest. " You must go to such and such a 
man who is going into Ellas thrum (?) He has so much 
of the Devil's influence (?) that he does be able to 
change round the castle door any time the wind is 
blowing [too hard] on it." 

He went to this man and he told him his story. " I 
wouldn't be able to do you any good," says he, " you 
must go to Friar Brian." 

He went to Friar Brian and told him his story. The 
one and twenty years were all but up by this time. " Here 
is a stick for you," said Friar Brian, " and cut a ring 
[with the stick] round about the place where you'll stand. 
He [the Devil] won't be able to come inside the place 
which you'll cut out with this stick. And do you be 
arguing with him, and I'll be watching you both," says 
he. ; Tell him that there must be some judgment 
[passed] on the case before you depart [to go away] with 

" Very well," says the man. 


When the appointed hour came the man was 
standing in the place he said. The Devil came to him. 
He told the man that the time was up and that he had to 
come along. 

The man began to say that the time was not up. He 
cut a ring round about himself with the stick which Friar 
Brian had given him. " Well, then," says the man, 
says he [at last], " we'll leave it to the judgment of the 
first person who shall come past us." 

" I am satisfied," says the Diabhac. 1 

Friar Brian came to the place where they were. " What 
is it all about from the beginning ? " says Friar Brian. 
The Diabhac told him that he had this man bought for 
one and twenty years, and that he had to come with him 
to-day ; " it is left to you to judge the case." 

" Now," says Friar Brian, says he, " if you were to go 
to a fair to buy a cow or a horse, and if you gave earnest 
money for it, wouldn't you say that it was more just 
for you to have it than for the man who would come in 
the evening and who would buy it without paying any 
earnest money for it ? " 

"I say," says the Diabhac, "that the man who paid 
earnest money for it first, ought to get it." 

" And now," says Friar Brian, " the Son of God paid 
earnest for this man before you bought him." 
The Diabhac had to go away then. 

Friar Brian asked then what would be done to him 
now when he had not got the man. 

1 Diabhac, pronouuced in Connaught, d'youc; a homonym for the 
more direct diabhal — devil, as " deil " in English. 


' I shall be put into the chamber which is for Friar 
Brian," said the Diabhac. « 

" And now," said Friar Brian to the man whom he 
had saved, " I saved you now," says he, " and do you save 

" What will I be able to do for you to save you ? " 

" Get the axe," says Friar Brian to him, " take the head 
off me," says he, and cut me up then as fine as 
tobacco." 2 

He did that, and Friar Brian repented then, and he 
was saved. 

He suffered himself to be cut as fine as tobacco on ac- 
count of all he had ever done out of the way. There now, 
that was the end of Friar Brian. 

1 The meaning seems to be, that the devil who lost his quarry 
would suffer the same punishment as was reserved for Friar Brian. 

2 Compare the story of the Tobacco Prayer, p. 244. 




I got the following story from rny friend Dr. Conor 
Maguire, of Claremorris. It explains how the first cat and 
first mouse were created. I heard many such stories ex- 
plaining the origin of this thing or the other from the Red 
Indians in Canada, but, of 'course, none of them had any- 
thing to say to Christianity. It is impossible to tell the age 
of this legend, but it may be taken for granted that such 
themes were common in Pagan times just as they are 
amongst the Red Men to-day, and it may well be that this 
story in its origin is older than Christianity itself, and that 
a saint may have taken the place of an enchanter when the 
people became Christians. I think it is pretty certain that 
this story originally concerned only the flour — the food of 
man — and the mice — the enemy of the flour — and the cat — 
the enemy of the mice ; and that the mention of the sow 
and her litter is a late and stupid interpolation. 


One day Mary and her Son were travelling the road, 
and they heavy and tired, and it chanced that they went 
past the door of a house in which there was a lock of 
wheat being winnowed. The Blessed Virgin went in, 
and she asked an alms of wheat, and the woman of the 
house refused her. 


" Go in again to her," said the Son, " and ask her for 
it in the name of God." 

She went, and the woman refused her again. 

" Go in to her again," said He, " and ask her to give you 
leave to put your hand into the pail of water, and to thrust 
it down into the heap of wheat, and to take away with you 
all that shall cling to your hand." 

She went, and the woman gave her leave to do that. 
When she came out to our Saviour, He said to her, " Do 
not let one grain of that go astray, for it is worth much 
and much." 

When they had gone a bit from the house they looked 
back, and saw a flock of demons coming towards the 
house, and the Virgin Mary was frightened lest they might 
do harm to the woman. " Let there be no anxiety on you," 
said Jesus to her ; " since it has chanced that she has given 
you all that of alms, they shall get no victory over her." 

They travelled on, then, until they reached as far as a 
place where a man named Martin had a mill. ' Go in," 
said our Saviour to His mother, "since it has chanced that 
the mill is working, and ask them to grind that little 
gx&m-een for you." 

She went. " O musha, it's not worth while for me," 
said the boy who was attending the querns, " to put that 
little lockeen a-grinding for you." Martin heard them 
talking and said to the lout, " Oh, then, do it for the 
creature, perhaps she wants it badly," said he. He did it, 
and he gave her all the flour that came from it. 

They travelled on then, and they were not gone any 
distance until the mill was full of flour as white as snow. 
When Martin perceived this great miracle he understood 


well that it was the Son of God and His Mother who 
chanced that way. He ran out and followed them, at his 
best, and he made across the fields until he came up with 
them, and there was that much haste on him in going 
through a scunce of hawthorns that a spike of the haw- 
thorn met his breast and wounded him greatly. There 
was that much zeal in him that he did not feel the pain, 
but clapt his hand over it, and never stopped until he 
came up with them. When our Saviour beheld the 
wound upon poor Martin, He laid His hand upon it, 
and it was closed, and healed upon the spot. He said to 
Martin then that he was a fitting man in the presence of 
God; "and go home now," said He, " and place a fistful 
of the flour under a dish, and do not stir it until morning." 
When Martin went home he did that, and he put the 
dish, mouth under, and the fistful of flour beneath it. 

The servant girl was watching him., and thought that 
maybe it would be a good thing if she were to set a dish 
for herself in the same way, and signs on her, she set it. 

On the morning of the next day Martin lifted his dish, 
and what should run out from under it but a fine sow and 
a big litter of bonhams with her. The girl lifted her own 
dish, and there ran out a big mouse and a clutch of young 
mouselets with her. They ran here and there, and 
Martin at once thought that they were not good, and he 
plucked a big mitten off his hand and flung it at the 
young mice, but as soon as it touched the ground it 
changed into a cat, and the cat began to kill the young 
mice. That was the beginning of cats. Martin was a 
saint from that time forward, but I do not know which 
of the saints he was of all who were called Martin. 



There is an Anglo-Irish proverb to the effect that " fine 
words butter no parsnips," and an Irish one runs " Ni 
bheathuigheann na briathra na braithre," " words don't 
feed friars." This story is also told in other parts of the 
country about a cobbler. I have translated this version 
of it from the Iyochrann " Marta agus Abran, 1912," written 
down by " Giolla na lice." 


There was a smith in Skibbereen long ago, long before 
the foreigners nested there, and people used to be coming 
to him who did not please him too well. When he would 
do some little turn of work for them in the forge they 
used only have a " God spare you your health " for him. 
It's a very nice prayer, " God spare you your health," but 
when the smith used to go out to buy bread he used not 
to get it without money. Prayers, no matter how good, 
would not do the business for him. He used often to 
be half mad with them, but he used not to say anything. 
He was so vexed with that work one day that he took 
a hound he had from his house into his forge, and he 
tied it there with a wisp of hay under it. ' Yes," said 
he, "we will soon see whether the prayers of these 
poor people will feed my hound." 


The first person who came and had nothing but a 
"God spare you the health" in place of payment. "Right," 
said the smith, " let my hound have that." 

Other people came to the forge, and they without any 
payment for the poor smith but that same fine prayer, and 
according as the smith used to get the prayers he used 
to bestow them on the hound. He used to give it no other 
food or drink. The prayers were the hound's food, but 
they made poor meat for him, for the smith found him 
dead in the morning after his being dependent on the feed- 
ing of the prayers. 

A man came to the forge that day and he had a couple 
of hinges and a couple of reaping hooks, that were not 
too strong, to be fixed. The smith did the work, and the 
man was thinking of going, " God spare you the health," 
said he. Instead of the answer " Amen ! Lord ! and you 
likewise " ; what the smith did was to take the man 
by the shoulder. " Look over in the corner," said he ; 
" my hound is dead, and if prayers could feed it, it ought 
to be fat and strong. I have given every prayer I got this 
while back to that hound there, but they have not done 
the business for it. And it's harder to feed a man than 
a hound. Do you understand, my good man ? " 

He did apparently, for he put his hand in his pocket. 
" What's the cost ? " said he. 

It was short until all the neighbours heard talk of the 
death of that hound of the smith's, and much oftener 
from that out used their tune to be, " What's the cost, 
Dermot ? " than " God spare you your health." 




This story of Teig (in the ballad " Tomaus " O'Cahan or 
O'Kane) and the corpse, was told to me nearly thirty 
years ago by an old man from near Fenagh in the 
County Leitrim, whom I met paying his rent to 
a relative of mine in the town of Mohill. He must 
have been one of the last Irish speakers in that district. 
There does not appear to be a trace of Irish left there now. 
I did not write down the story from his lips, but wrote it 
out afterwards from memory. I took down the ballad, 
however, from his recitation so far as he had it ; and I 
afterwards came across a written version of it in the hand- 
writing of Nicholas O'Kearney, of the County L,outh. 
The ballad as written by him coincides pretty closefy with 
my version, but breaks off apparently in the middle, as 
though O'Kearney had not time to finish the rest of it. 
The first twenty-three verses are from O' Kearney's version, 
the rest are from mine. O'Kearney remarks in English 
at the top of the page : " The following fragment is one 
of our wild fairy adventures versified .... the 
fragment is preserved on account of the singular wildness 
of the air." 

The only other Irish poem nearly in the same metre 
which I know of is a poem by Cormac Dall, or Cormac 
Common, which my friend Dr. Maguire, of Claremorris, 
took down the other day from the recitation of an old 

It is on Halloweve night that one is especially liable to 


adventures like those of Tomaus O'Cahan, but it is well 
known that all gamblers coming home at night are exposed 
to such perils. 


There was once a grown-up lad in the County Leitrim, 
and he was strong and lively, and the son of a rich farmer. 
His father had plenty of money, and he did not spare it 
on the son. Accordingly, when the boy grew up he liked 
sport better than work, and, as his father had no other 
children, he loved this one so much that he allowed him 
to do in everything just as it pleased himself. He was 
very extravagant, and he used to scatter the gold money 
as another person would scatter the white. He was 
seldom to be found at home, but if there was a fair, or a 
race, or a gathering within ten miles of him, you were 
dead certain to find him there. And he seldom spent 
a night in his father's house, but he used to be always 
out rambling, and, like Shawn Bwee long ago, there was 

" gradh gach cailin i mbrollach a leine," 

" the love of every girl in the breast of his shirt," and it's 
many's the kiss he got and he gave, for he was very hand- 
some, and there wasn't a girl in the country but would fall 
in love with him, only for him to fasten his two eyes on her, 
and it was for that someone made this rann on him — 

" Feuch an rogaire 'g iarraidh poige, 

Ni h-iongantas mor e" a bheith mar ata 
Ag leanamhaint a gcomhnuidhe d'arnan na graineoige 
Anuas 's anios 's nna chodladh 'sa la." 

.e. — " Look at the rogue, it's for kisses he's rambling, 
It isn't much wonder, for that was his way ; 
He's like an old hedgehog, at night he'll be scrambling 
From this place to that, but he'll sleep in the day." 


At last he became very wild and unruly. He wasn't 
to be seen day nor night in his father's house, but always 
rambling or going on his kailee (night-visit) from place 
to place and from house to house, so that the old people 
used to shake their heads and say to one another, " it's 
easy seen what will happen to the land when the old man 
dies ; his son will run through it in a year, and it won't 
stand him that long itself." 

He used to be always gambling and card-playing and 
drinking, but his father never minded his bad habits, and 
never punished him. But it happened one day that the 
old man was told that the son had ruined the character 
of a girl in the neighbourhood, and he was greatly angry, 
and he called the son to him, and said to him, quietly 
and sensibly — " Avic," says he, " you know I loved you 
greatly up to this, and I never stopped you from doing 
your choice thing whatever it was, and I kept plenty of 
money with you, and I always hoped to leave you the house 
and land and all I had, after myself would be gone ; but 
I heard a story of you to-day that has disgusted me with 
you. I cannot tell you the grief that I felt when I heard 
such a thing of you, and I tell you now plainly that unless 
you marry that girl I'll leave house and land and every- 
thing to my brother's son. I never could leave it to anyone 
who would make so bad a use of it as you do yourself, 
deceiving women and coaxing girls. Settle with yourself 
now whether you'll marry that girl and get my land as a 
fortune with her, or refuse to marry her and give up all 
that was coming to you ; and tell me in the morning which 
of the two things you have chosen." 

" Och ! murdher sheery ! father, you wouldn't say 


that to me, and I such a good son as I am. Who told you 
I wouldn't marry the girl ? " says he. 

But the father was gone, and the lad knew well enough 
that he would keep his word too ; and he was greatly 
troubled in his mind, for as quiet and as kind as the father 
was, he never went back of a word that he had once said, 
and there wasn't another man in the country who was 
harder to bend that he was. 

The boy did not know rightly what to do. He was in 
love with the girl indeed, and he hoped to marry her some 
time or other, but he would much sooner have remained 
another while as he was, and follow on at his old tricks — 
drinking, sporting, and playing cards ; and, along with 
that, he was angry that his father should order him to 
many and should threaten him if he did not do it. 

" Isn't my father a great fool," says he to himself. 
" I was ready enough, and only too anxious, to marry 
Mary ; and now since he threatened me, faith I've a great 
mind to let it go another while." 

His mind was so much excited that he remained between 
two notions as to what he should do. He walked out into 
the night at last to cool his heated blood, and went on to 
the road. He lit a pipe, and as the night was fine he 
walked and walked on, until the quick pace made him 
begin to forget his trouble. The night was bright and the 
moon half full. There was not a breath of wind blowing, 
and the air was calm and mild. He walked on for nearly 
three hours, when he suddenly remembered that it was 
late in the night, and time for him to turn. " Musha ! 
I think I forgot myself," says he ; "it must be near 
twelve o'clock now." 


The word was hardly out of his mouth when he heard 
the sound of many voices and the trampling of feet on the 
road before him. " I don't know who can be out so late 
at night as this, and on such a lonely road," said he to 

He stood listening and he heard the voices of many 
people talking through other, but he could not under- 
stand what they were saying. " Oh, wirra ! " says he, " I'm 
afraid. It's not Irish or English they have ; it can't 
be they're Frenchmen ! " He went on a couple of yards 
further, and he saw well enough by the light of the moon 
a band of little people coming towards him, and they were 
carrying something big and heavy with them. "Oh, 
murdher ! " says he to himself, "sure it can't be that they're 
the good people that's in it ! " Every rib of hair that 
was on his head stood up, and there fell a shaking on his 
bones, for he saw that they were coming to him fast. 

He looked at them again, and perceived that there were 
about twenty little men in it, and there was not a man at all 
of them higher than about three feet or three feet and a 
half, and some of them were grey, and seemed very old. 
He looked again, but he could not make out what was 
the heavy thing they were carrying until they came up 
to him, and then they all stood round about him. They 
threw the heavy thing down on the road, and he saw 
on the spot that it was a dead body. 

He became as cold as the Death, and there was not a 
drop of blood running in his veins when an old little 
grey maneen came up to him and said, " Isn't it lucky 
we met you, Teig O'Kane ? " 

Poor Teig could not bring out a word at all, nor open 


his lips, if he were to get the world for it, and so he gave 
no answer. 

" Teig O'Kane," said the little grey man again, " isn't 
it timely you met us ? " 

Teig could not answer him. 

" Teig O'Kane," says he, " the third time, isn't it 
lucky and timely that we met you ? " 

But Teig remained silent, for he was afraid to return 
an answer, and his tongue was as if it was tied to the roof 
of his mouth. 

The little grey man turned to his companions, and there 
was joy in his bright little eye. " And now," says he, 
" Teig O'Kane hasn't a word, we can do with him what 
we please. Teig, Teig," says he, " you're living a bad 
life, and we can make a slave of you now, and you cannot 
withstand us, for there's no use in trying to go against us. 
Lift that corpse." 

Teig was so frightened that he was only able to utter the 
two words, " I won't ; " for as frightened as he was, 
he was obstinate and stiff, the same as ever. 

" Teig O'Kane won't lift the corpse," said the little 
maneen, with a wicked little laugh, for all the world like the 
breaking of a lock of dry kippeens, and with a little harsh 
voice like the striking of a cracked bell. '■' Teig O'Kane 
won't lift the corpse — make him lift it ; " and before the 
word was out of his mouth they had all gathered round 
poor Teig, and they all talking and laughing through 

Teig tried to run from them, but they followed him, and 
a man of them stretched out his foot before him as he ran, 
so that Teig was thrown in a heap on the road. Then 


before he could rise up, the fairies caught him, some by 
the hands and some by the feet, and they held him tight, in 
a way that he could not stir, with his face against the ground. 
Six or seven of them raised the body then, and pulled it 
over to him, and left it down on his back. The breast of 
the corpse was squeezed against Teig's back and shoulders, 
and the arms of the corpse were thrown around Teig's 
neck. Then they stood back from him a couple of yards, 
and let him get up. He rose, foaming at the mouth and 
cursing, and he shook himself, thinking to throw the 
corpse off his back. But his fear and his wonder were 
great when he found that the two arms had a tight hold 
round his own neck, and that the two legs were squeezing 
his hips firmly, and that, however strongly he tried, he 
could not throw it off, any more than a horse can throw 
off its saddle. He was terribly frightened then, and he 
thought he was lost. " Ochone ! for ever," said he to 
himself, " it's the bad life I'm leading that has given the 
good people this power over me I promise to God and 
Mary, Peter and Paul, Patrick and Bridget, that I'll mend 
my ways for as long as I have to live, if I come clear out 
of this danger — and I'll marry the girl." 

The little grey man came up to him again, and said he to 
him, " Now, Teigeen," says he, " you didn't lift the body 
when I told you to lift it, and see how you were made to 
lift it ; perhaps when I tell you to bury it you won't bury 
it until you're made to bury it ! " 

" Anything at all that I can do for your honour," said 
Teig, " I'll do it," for he was getting sense already, and if it 
had not been for the great fear that was on him, he never 
would have let that civil word slip out of his mouth. 



The little man laughed a sort of laugh again. " You're 
getting quiet now, Teig," says he. " I'll go bail but you'll 
be quiet enough before I'm done with you. Listen to 
me now, Teig O'Kane, and if you don't obey me in all 
I'm telling you to do, you'll repent it. You must carry 
with you this corpse that is on your back to Teampoll- 
Demuis, and you must bring it into the church with you, 
and make a grave for it in the very middle of the church, 
and you must raise up the flags and put them down again 
the very same way, and you must carry the clay out of the 
church and leave the place as it was when you came, so 
that no one could know that there had been anything 
changed. But that's not all. Maybe that the body won't 
be allowed to be buried in that church ; perhaps some 
other man has the bed, and, if so, it's likely he won't 
share it with this one. If you don't get leave to bury it 
in Teampoll-Demuis, you must carry it to Carrick-fhad- 
vic-Oruis, and bury it in the churchyard there ; and if 
you don't get it into that place, take it with you to Team- 
poll-Ronain ; and if that churchyard is closed on you, 
take it to Imlogue-Fhada ; and if you're not able to 
bury it there, you've no more to do than to take it to Kill- 
Breedya, and you can bury it there without hindrance. 
I cannot tell you what one of those churches is the one 
where you will have leave to bury that corpse under the 
clay, but I know that it will be allowed you to bury him at 
some church or other of them. If you do this work rightly, 
we will be thankful to you, and you will have no cause to 
grieve ; but if you are slow or lazy, believe me we shall 
take satisfaction of you." 

When the grey little man had done speaking, his com- 


rades laughed and clapped their hands together. " Glic ! 
Glic ! Hwee ! Hwee ! " they all cried ; " go on, go on, 
you have eight hours before you till daybreak, and if you 
haven't this man buried before the sun rises, you're lost." 
They struck a fist and a foot behind on him, and drove him 
on in the road. He was obliged to walk, and to walk fast, 
for they gave him no rest. 

He thought himself that there was not a wet path, or a 
dirty boreen, or a crooked contrary road in the whole 
county that he had not walked that night. The night was 
at times very dark, and whenever there would come a cloud 
across the moon he could see nothing, and then he used 
often to fall. Sometimes he was hurt, and sometimes he 
escaped, but he was obliged always to rise on the moment 
and to hurry on. Sometimes the moon would break out 
clearly, and then he would look behind him and see the 
little people following at his back. And he heard them 
speaking amongst themselves, talking and crying out, and 
screaming like a flock of sea-gulls ; and if he was to save 
his soul he never understood as much as one word of what 
they were saying. 

He did not know how far he had walked, when at last 
one of them cried out to him, " Stop here ! ' He stood, 
and they all gathered round him. 

" Do you see those withered trees over there ? " says the 
old boy to him again. " Teampoll-Demuis is among 
those trees, and you must go in there by yourself, for we 
cannot follow you or go with you. We must remain here. 
Go on boldly." 

Teig looked from him, and he saw a high wall that was in 
places half broken down, and an old grey church on the 


inside of the wall, and about a dozen withered old trees 
scattered here and there round it. There was neither leaf 
nor twig on any of them, but their bare crooked branches 
were stretched out like the arms of an angry man when he 
threatens. He had no help for it, but was obliged to go 
forward. He was a couple of hundred yards from the 
church, but he walked on, and never looked behind him 
until he came to the gate of the churchyard. The old 
gate was thrown down, and he had no difficulty in entering. 
He turned then to see if any of the little people were 
following him, but there came a cloud over the moon, and 
the night became so dark that he could see nothing. He 
went into the churchyard, and he walked up the old 
grassy pathway leading to the church. When he reached 
the door, he found it locked. The door was large and 
strong, and he did not know what to do. At last he drew 
out his knife with difficulty, and stuck it in the wood to 
try if it were not rotten, but it was not. 

" Now," said he to himself, " I have no more to do ; 
the door is shut, and I can't open it." 

Before the words were rightly shaped in his own mind, a 
voice in his ear said to him, " Search for the key on the 
top of the door, or on the wall." 

He started. " Who is that speaking to me ?" he cried, 
turning round ; but he saw no one. The voice said in his 
ear again, " Search for the key on the top of the door, or on 
the wall." 

" What's that ? " said he, and the sweat running from 
his forehead ; " who spoke to me ? " 

" It's I, the corpse, that spoke to you ! " said the voice. 

" Can you talk ? " said Teig. 


" Now and again," said the corpse. 

Teig searched for the key, and he found it on the top of 
the wall. He was too much frightened to say any more, 
but he opened the door wide, and as quickly as he could, 
and he went in, with the corpse on his back. It was as 
dark as pitch inside, and poor Teig began to shake and 

" Light the candle," said the corpse. 

Teig put his hand in his pocket, as well as he was able, 
and drew out a flint and steel. He struck a spark out of it, 
and lit a burnt rag he had in his pocket. He blew it until 
it made a flame, and he looked round him. The church 
was very ancient, and part of the wall was broken down. 
The windows were blown in or cracked, and the timber of 
the seats was rotten. There were six or seven old iron 
candlesticks left there still, and in one of these candlesticks 
Teig found the stump of an old candle, and he lit it. He 
was still looking round him on the strange and horrid place 
in which he found himself, when the cold corpse whis- 
pered in his ear, " Bury me now, bury me now ; there is a 
spade and turn the ground." Teig looked from him, 
and he saw a spade lying beside the altar. He took it 
up, and he placed the blade under a flag that was in the 
middle of the aisle, and leaning all his weight on the 
handle of the spade, he raised it. When the first flag was 
raised it was not hard to raise the others near it, and he 
moved three or four of them out of their places. The 
clay that was under them was soft and easy to dig, but he 
had not thrown up more than three or four shovelfuls, 
when he felt the iron touch something soft like flesh. 
He threw up three or four more shovelfuls from around 


it, and then he saw that it was another body that was 
buried in the same place. 

"I am afraid I'll never be allowed to bury the two 
bodies in the same hole," said Teig, in his own mind. 
" You corpse, there on my back," says he, " will you be 
satisfied if I bury you down here ? ' But the corpse 
never answered him a word. 

" That's a good sign," said Teig to himself. " Maybe 
he's getting quiet," and he thrust the spade down in the 
earth again. Perhaps he hurt the flesh of the other body, 
for the dead man that was buried there stood up in the 
grave, and shouted an awful shout. " Hoo ! hoo ! I 
hoo ! ! ! Go ! go ! ! go ! ! ! or you're a dead, dead, 
dead man ! " And then he fell back in the grave again. 
Teig said afterwards, that of all the wonderful things 
he saw that night, that was the most awful to him. His 
hair stood upright on his head like the bristles of a pig, 
the cold sweat ran off his face, and then came a tremor 
over all his bones, until he thought that he must fall. 

But after a while he became bolder, when he saw that 
the second corpse remained lying quietly there, and he 
threw in the clay on it again, and he smoothed it overhead, 
and he laid down the flags carefully as they had been 
before. " It can't be that he'll rise up any more," said 

He went down the aisle a little further, and drew near 
to the door, and began raising the flags again, looking for 
another bed for the corpse on his back. He took up three 
or four flags and put them aside, and then he dug the clay. 
He was not long digging until he laid bare an old woman 
without a thread upon her but her shirt. She was more 


lively than the first corpse, for he had scarcely taken any 
of the clay away from about her, when she sat up and began 
to cry, " Ho, you bodach (clown) ! Ha, you bodach ! 
Where has he been that he got no bed ? " 

Poor Teig drew back, and when she found that she was 
getting no answer, she closed her eyes gently, lost her 
vigour, and fell back quietly and slowly under the clay. 
Teig did to her as he had done to the man — he threw the 
clay back on her, and left the flags down overhead. 

He began digging again near the door, but before he had 
thrown up more than a couple of shovelfuls, he noticed a 
man's hand laid bare by the spade. " By my soul, I'll 
go no further, then," said he to himself ; " what use is 
it for me ? " And he threw the clay in again on it, and 
settled the flags as they had been before. 

He left the church then, and his heart was heavy enough, 
but he shut the door and locked it, and left the key where 
he found it. He sat down on a tombstone that was near 
the door, and began thinking. He was in great doubt 
what he should do. He laid his face between his two 
hands, and cried for grief and fatigue, since he was dead 
certain at this time that he never would come home alive. 
He made another attempt to loosen the hands of the corpse 
that were squeezed round his neck, but they were as tight 
as if they were clamped ; and the more he tried to loosen 
them, the tighter they squeezed him. He was going to 
sit down once more, when the cold, horrid lips of the dead 
man said to him, " Carrick-fhad-vic-Oruis," and he 
remembered the command of the good people to bring 
the corpse with him to that place if he should be unable 
to bury it where he had been 


He rose up and looked about him. " I don't know the 
way," he said. 

As soon as he had uttered the words, the corpse stretched 
out suddenly its left hand that had been tightened round 
his neck, and kept it pointing out, showing, him the road he 
ought to follow. Teig went in the direction that the fingers 
were stretched, and passed out of the churchyard. He 
found himself on an old rutty, stony road, and he stood 
still again, not knowing where to turn. The corpse 
stretched out its bony hand a second time, and pointed out 
to him another road — not the road by which he had come 
when approaching the old church. Teig followed that 
road, and whenever he came to a path or road meeting it, 
the corpse always stretched out its hand and pointed with 
its fingers, showing him the way he was to take. 

Many was the cross-road he turned down, and many 
was the crooked boreen he walked, until he saw from him 
an old burying-ground at last, beside the road, but there 
was neither church nor chapel nor any other building 
in it. The corpse squeezed him tightly, and he stood. 
" Bury me, bury me in the burying-ground," said the 

Teig drew over towards the old burying-place, and he 
was not more than about twenty yards from it, when, 
raising his eyes, he saw hundreds and hundreds of ghosts — 
men, women, and children — sitting on the top of the wall 
round about, or standing on the inside of it, or running 
backwards and forwards, and pointing at him, while he 
could see their mouths opening and shutting as if they 
were speaking, though he heard no word, nor any sound 
amongst them at all. 


He was afraid to go forward, so he stood where he was, 
and the moment he stood, all the ghosts became quiet, and 
ceased moving. Then Teig understood that it was trying 
to keep him from going in that they were. He walked a 
couple of yards forwards, and immediately the whole 
crowd rushed together towards the spot to which he was 
moving, and they stood so thickly together that it seemed 
to him that he never could break through them, even 
though he had a mind to try. But he had no mind to 
try it. He went back broken and disspirited, and when 
he had gone a couple of hundred yards from the burying- 
ground, he stood again, for he did not know what way 
he was to go. He heard the voice of the corpse in his 
ear, saying " Teampoll-Ronain," and the skinny hand 
was stretched out again, pointing him out the road. 

As tired as he was, he had to walk, and the road was 
neither short nor even. The night was darker than ever, 
and it was difficult to make his way. Many was the toss he 
got, and many a bruise they left on his body. At last he 
saw Teampoll-Ronain from him in the distance, standing in 
the middle of the burying-ground. He moved over 
towards it, and thought he was all right and safe, when he 
saw no ghosts nor anything else on the wall, and he 
thought he would never be hindered now from leaving 
his load off him at last. He moved over to the gate, 
but as he was passing in, he tripped on the threshold. 
Before he could recover himself, something that he could 
not see seized him by the neck, by the hands, and by the 
feet, and bruised him, and shook him up, and choked him, 
until he was nearly dead ; and at last he was lifted up, and 
carried more than a hundred yards from that place, and 


then thrown down in an old dyke, with the corpse still 
clinging to him. 

He rose up, bruised and sore, but feared to go near the 
place again, for he had seen nothing the time he was thrown 
down and carried away 

" You, corpse up on my back," said he, " shall I go over 
again to the churchyard ? ' ' — but the corpse never answered 
him. " That's a sign you don't wish me to try it again," 
said Teig. 

He was now in great doubt as to what he ought to do, 
when the corpse spoke in his ear, and said " Imlogue- 

" Oh, murder ! " said Teig, " must I bring you there ? 
If you keep me long walking like this, I tell you I'll fall 
under you." 

He went on, however, in the direction the corpse pointed 
out to him. He could not have told, himself, how long he 
had been going, when the dead man behind suddenly 
squeezed him, and said, " There ! " 

Teig looked from him, and he saw a little low wall, that 
was so broken down in places that it was no wall at all. It 
was in a great wide field, in from the road ; and only for 
three or four great stones at the corners, that were more 
like rocks than stones, there was nothing to show that there 
was either graveyard or burying-ground there. 

" Is this Imlogue-Fhada ? Shall I bury you here ? " 
said Teig. 

" Yes," said the voice. 

" But I see no grave or gravestone, only this pile of 
stones," said Teig. 

The corpse did not answer, but stretched out its long 


fleshless hand, to show Teig the direction in which he was 
to go. Teig went on accordingly, but he was greatly terri- 
fied, for he remembered what had happened to him at the 
last place. He went on, " with his heart in his mouth," 
as he said himself afterwards ; but when he came to within 
fifteen or twenty yards of the little low square wall, there 
broke out a flash of lightning, bright yellow and red, with 
blue streaks in it, and went round about the wall in one 
course, and it swept by as fast as the swallow in the clouds, 
and the longer Teig remained looking at it the faster it 
went, till at last it became like a bright ring of flame round 
the old graveyard, which no one could pass without being 
burnt by it. Teig never saw, from the time he was born, 
and never saw afterwards, so wonderful or so splendid a 
sight as that was. Round went the flame, white and 
yellow and blue sparks leaping out from it as it went, and 
although at first it had been no more than a thin, narrow 
line, it increased slowly until it was at last a great broad 
band, and it was continually getting broader and higher, 
and throwing out more brilliant sparks, till there was 
never a colour on the ridge of the earth that was not to be 
seen in that fire ; and lightning never shone and flame 
never flamed that was so shining and so bright as 

Teig was amazed ; he was half dead with fatigue, and he 
had no courage left to approach the wall. There fell a 
mist over his eyes, and there came a soorawn in his head, 
and he was obliged to sit down upon a great stone to 
recover himself. He could see nothing but the light, and 
he could hear nothing but the whirr of it as it shot round 
the paddock faster than a flash of lightning. 


As he sat there on the stone, the voice whispered once 
more in his ear, " Kill-Breedya " ; and the dead man 
squeezed him so tightly that he cried out. He rose again, 
sick, tired, and trembling, and went forwards as he was 
directed. The wind was cold, and the road was bad, and 
the load upon his back was heavy, and the night was dark, 
and he himself was nearly worn out, and if he had had 
very much farther to go he must have fallen dead under 
his burden. 

At last the corpse stretched out its hand, and said to 
him, " Bury me there." 

" This is the last burying-place," said Teig in his own 
mind ; " and the little grey man said I'd be allowed to 
bury him in some of them, so it must be this ; it can't 
be but they'll let him in here." 

The first faint streak of the ring of day was appearing in 
the east, and the clouds were beginning to catch fire, but it 
was darker than ever, for the moon was set, and there were 
no stars. 

" Make haste, make haste ! " said the corpse ; and Teig 
hurried forward as well as he could to the graveyard, which 
was a little place on a bare hill, w r ith only a few graves in it. 
He walked boldly in through the open gate, and nothing 
touched him, nor did he either hear or see anything. He 
came to the middle of the ground, and then stood up and 
looked round him for a spade or shovel to make a grave. 
As he was turning round and searching, he suddenly per- 
ceived what startled him greatly — a newly-dug grave right 
before him. He moved over to it, and looked down, and 
there at the bottom he saw a black coffin. He clambered 
down into the hole and lifted the lid, and found that (as he 


thought it would be) the coffin was empty. He had hardly 
mounted up out of the hole, and was standing on the 
brink, when the corpse, wnich had clung to him for more 
than eight hours, suddenly relaxed its hold of his neck, and 
loosened its shins from round his hips, and sank down with 
a plop into the open coffin. 

Teig fell down on his two knees at the brink of the 
grave, and gave thanks to God. He made no delay then, 
but pressed down the coffin lid in its place, and threw in 
the clay over it with his two hands ; and when the grave 
was filled up, he stamped and leaped on it with his 
feet, until it was firm and hard, and then he left the 

The sun was fast rising as he finished his work, and the 
first thing he did was to return to the road, and look out 
for a house to rest himself in. He found an inn at last, 
and lay down upon a bed there, and slept till night, Then 
he rose up and ate a little, and fell asleep again till morn- 
ing. When he awoke in the morning he hired a horse and 
rode home. He was more than twenty-six miles from 
home where he was, and he had come all that way with 
the dead body on his back in one night. 

All the people at his own home thought that he must 
have left the country, and they rejoiced greatly when they 
saw him come back. Everyone began asking him where 
he had been, but he would not tell anyone except his 

He was a changed man from that day. He never drank 
too much ; he never lost his money over cards ; and espe- 
cially he would not take the world and be out late by 
himself of a dark night. 


He was not a fortnight at home until he married Mary, 
the girl he had been in love with ; and it's at their wedding 
the sport was, and it's he was the happy man from that day 
forward, and it's all I wish that we may be as happy as 
he was. 


Come hear my walking, my midnight walking, 
A cause of dread, and a cause of dread, 

With that corpse of faierie could get no stretching 
Amongst the dead men, amongst the dead. 

[The Corpse speaks.] 

" Raise my dead body with no rejoicing 
And a beef I'll give thee, a beef I'll give, 

[Tomaus answers.] 

" If I should settle on that condition 
Where is the beef, and where is the beef ? ,; 

[The Corpse speaks.] 

" It's old Shaun Bingham and Shaun Oge Bingham 

My sureties be, my sureties be, 
In the crooked letter I wrote a ticket 

To Bel-in-Assan beside the sea." 

" You will get a heaplet beneath the midden 
So green and gloomy, green and gloomy, 

Then take it with thee for thy provision 
Beneath thy armpit — against thy journey." 

The corpse was raised on Tomaus his back, 
In the ways of night, in the ways of night, 

Through roads that were narrow and hard and crooked, 
By the pale moonlight, by the pale moonlight. 


And long was the route, and the cross-track journey, 
Through miry bogs and through dripping glooms, 

Westward to Lugh-moy-more-na-mrauher 1 

Of the grass green tombs, of the grass green tombs. 

[The Corpse speaks.] 

" At thy right hand is a spade for digging, 

Behind the door post it will be found, 
With a strong thrust, thrust ; with a thrust not timid, 

And turn the ground, and turn the ground." 

[Tomaus speaks.] 

11 At my right hand did I find the spade, 

'Twas behind the door there, behind the door, 

And a strong thrust downward I quickly made 
Through the earthen floor, through the earthen floor." 

" I struck it strongly, I drove it down, 

Through the upper earth, through the upper earth, 
Till I broke the thigh of the English clown, 

Who was sleeping there in his clay cold berth." 

"'A thousand pililloos,' cries the trooper, 
1 Where is my pistol that I may slay ? ' 

Cries Mary O'Reilly, Lord Guido's wife, 

1 Come clear the way there, come clear the way ! ' " 

[The Corpse speaks.] 

" Oro ! oh Tomaus ! oro ! oh Tomaus ! 

Do not leave me here I beseech of thee, 
I've a mother's relative's son in Craggan 

And it's buried there I shall have to be." 

On Tomaus his back was the body hoisted, 
In the ways of night, in the ways of night, 

Through roads that were crooked and rough and narrow 
By the pale moonlight, by the pale moonlight. 

1 = great I<outh of the Friars. 


" Going down of a race and in great disorder, 
To the Craggan More, to the Craggan More, 

I found a spade at my right hand lying 

Behind the door there, behind the door." 

" I found a spade at my right hand laid, 
Behind the door there, behind the door, 

Two thrusts that were heavy and strong I made 

Through the earthen floor, through the earthen floor " 

<< » 

Til I broke the hip bone of Watson Harford 
Was beneath the ground and he raised a clamour, 
' Hubbubboo/ cried the Gowa Dhu 

' Where is my hammer, where is my hammer.' ' 

[The Corpse speaks.] 

" Oro ! oh Tomaus ; uch, uch, uch, oh ! 

Do not leave me here I beseech of thee, 
For my father's brother's son is in Derry 

And it's buried there I shall have to be." 

'* On reaching the place all spent and lonely 

And I despairing, and I despairing, 
The gates were all strongly barred before me 

But I smote upon them with sudden daring." 

" Said the Mayor of the place, in his grave clothes rising, 
In his winding sheet from his clay bed taken, 

' Why knock so hard, each to his part ; 
Come dead awaken, come dead awaken.' 

" Bodies and coffins came pouring upwards 

From the ground beneath in the pale moonlight, 

And they ranged themselves in a raging rabble 
On the bare wall's height, on the bare wall's height." 

'" A hundred pililloos ! ' cried they all, 

' What is the matter, where are we hurried ? ' " 



" It is one of your friends who has died and here 
Is the place where he says that he must be buried. 

For his kindred are here and it's well they are, 
Then take him from me, and good's my riddance." 

[The Ghost asks.] 

" Who of his people is buried here 

To claim admittance, claim admittance ? " 


" I know not myself of what tribe my man is 
On the ridge of earth if I'm not a liar, 

There's a stir and a voice in him, ask himself, 
Of himself inquire, himself inquire." 

The corpse was raised on Tomaus his back, 
Than a gad more tight, than a gad more tight, 

Till he took a skreep to the Teampoll-Demuis, 
And he found it fastened that weary night. 

[The Corpse speaks.] 

" Search for the key, you will find it lying 
Behind the door, or upon the wall." 

He searched for the key and he found and opened 
And wide and silent and dark was all. 

[The Corpse speaks again.] 

11 Oro, oh, Tomaus ! Oro, oh, Tomaus ! 

Oh, bury me quick out of sight and sound, 
See yonder the spade forenenst you lying, 

And turn the ground, and turn the ground." 

He took the spade in his hand, and quickly 
He turned the ground so black and bare, 

Till he broke the bones of an English bodach 

Who had long been there, who had long been there. 


" Blood and owns, you broke my bones," 

That man kept crying with teeth that chatter, 

And then spoke Smiler, the wife of Simon, 
" What is the matter ? What is the matter ? ' 

" Where was he, or where did he pass his life, 
That he's got no bed where he now may go ? " 


" He's there before you who knows it best. 
You must ask him yourself, for I do not know." 

Then Feeny arose and he took some snuff 
And he seized an alpeen and gripped it tight, 

And there was the slashing and noise and smashing 
Till the morning light, till the morning light. 

The Corpse was raised on Tomaus his back, 
Like a tightened gad, like a tightened gad, 

And he brought it up, and he brought it down, 
And the way was long and the way was bad. 

To Carrick-vic-oruis and Teampoll-Ronain 
And Imlogue-Fhada the corpse was hurried. 

But in Kill-Vreedya the skreep was over 

The corpse was buried, the corpse was buried. 

a stick and a stone on it, 
And bad luck on it ! 



There is at times a certain connection between the use 
of tobacco and the solemn presence of the dead. Both 
snuff and tobacco for smoking are handed round at wakes. 
Pipes and tobacco are, in fact, the principal portion of the 
equipment of the corp-house. To the present moment when 
one accepts a pinch of snuff it is customary to say in Irish, 
" the blessing of God be with the souls of your dead." I 
have heard this a hundred times. But I never heard the 
tobacco prayer except once or twice from very old people ; 
and, in spite of this story, I don't believe that it was ever 
in any way usual to say a prayer over tobacco except perhaps 
in some isolated parts of the country. All I can say is 
that I have never heard it said spontaneously. This 
story was written down word for word for me by my friend 
Mr. John Mac Neill from the recitation of Michael Mac Rury 
01 Rogers, from Bally castle, in the County Mayo. The 
tobacco prayer 1 translated, runs as follows : — 

Eighteen fulls of the churchyard of Patrick, of the mantle 2 of Brigit, 
of the tomb of Christ, of the palace of Rome, of the church of God, be 
with thy soul (and with the soul of him above whose head was this 
tobacco), 3 and with the souls of the dead in Purgatory all together. 

May not more numerous be 

The grains of sand by the sea, 

Or the blades of grass on the lea, 

Or the drops of dew on the tree, 

Than the blessings upon thy soul 

And the souls of the dead with thee, 

And my soul when the life shall flee. 
It is for God to give shelter, light, and the glory of the heavens 
to the souls of the dead of Purgatory. 

1 For the original, see my "Religious Songs of Connacht," vol. II. 
p. 66. 

2 The Mantle of Brigit is a common expression. Even in Scotland 
" St. Bride and her brat [mantle] " is a well-known saying, 

3 This obviously shows that the prayer was intended to be said 
at wakes. 


The story was evidently invented with the didactic 
intention of encouraging the use of prayer, and of incul- 
cating the truth that just as we ought to be thankful to 
God for our meals, so ought we to be thankful to Him for 
our tobacco, and for all the good things of life. 


There was a woman in it long ago, and she had an 
only son. When he came to age she sent him to college, 
and made a priest of him. After his coming from the 
college he was a short little while at home ; and he was 
one day walking out in the garden when there came a 
saint [in the air] over his head, and spoke down to 
him, and told the priest that he himself and all who 
belonged to him were damned on account of his 

The priest asked him what was the crime his mother 
had committed, and the saint told him that she was smok- 
ing tobacco for twelve years and had never said the tobacco 
prayer all that time 

" Bad enough ! " says the priest, " is there anything 
at all down from heaven to set that right ? " says the 

" There's nothing but one thing alone," says he, 
" and this is it. When you go into your mother tell her 
as I have told it to you. And unless she shall be pre- 
pared to suffer the death that I'll tell you, not a sight 
of the country of heaven will your mother or anyone 
of her family see for ever." 

" What death is it ? " said the priest to him. 


11 She must let you," says he, " carve every bit off her 
body as fine as sneeshin." 

The priest went into the house and a heavy load on his 
heart. He sat upon a chair and there was a great grief 
to be seen in his face. His mother asked him what was 
on him, and what had happened to him since he went 

" Ah, there's nothing on me but a little weariness," 
says he, " kindle the pipe for me mother," says he, " I'd 
like to get a blast of tobacco." 

" I'll kindle it and welcome," says she, " I thought 
avourneen," says she, " that you were not using tobacco." 

" Ah, maybe a whiff would take this weariness off me," 
said he. 

True was the story. She put a coal in the pipe, and 
after smoking enough of the pipe herself she handed it 
to the priest, but she never said the prayer. And that 
was the reason the priest had told her to kindle the pipe, 
hoping that she would say the prayer, but she did not. 

" Poor enough ! " said the priest in his own mind. 

The priest told her then as the saint had told him, 
and she threw herself on her two knees praying God and 
shedding tears, and, said she, " a hundred welcomes 
to the graces of God, and if it is the death that God has 
promised me, I am satisfied to suffer it ; go out now my 
son," says she, " and when I'll be ready for you to get to 
your work I'll call you in." 

The priest went out, fervently reading and praying to 

The mother washed and cleaned herself. She got 
sheets and sharp knives ready for the work, and when 


she had everything prepared she called the priest to come 
in. And as the priest turned round on his foot, the 
brightness came over his head again, and it said to him 
that all his family had found forgiveness for their sins, 
on account of the earnest repentance that his mother 
was after making, and the awful death that she was fully 
satisfied to suffer. 

The priest came into the house, and a great joy in his 
heart, and his mother was stretched on the length of her 
back on the table, and sheets under her and over her, and 
her two hands stretched out from her, and she praying to 
God, and two sharp knives by her side; and, says the 
priest to her, " Rise up, mother," says he, "I have got 
forgiveness from the King of the graces, for our sins, 
and I beseech you now from this day out, do not forget 
to diligently offer up the tobacco prayer every time you 
use it." 

And true was the story. There was never a time from 
that day till the day that the priest's mother went into 
the clay that she did not earnestly offer up the prayer 
to God and to the glorious Virgin. 

And the old people throughout the country [added the 
reciter, talking of West Mayo] are offering up that same 
prayer daily, and they shall do so as long as a word of our 
Irish language shall remain alive on the green island of the 



I got this story from O'Connor, who himself got it from 
a man of the name of Peter Srehane, who lived near Castle- 
bar, Co. Mayo. 

It is a melange of many curious beliefs, metempsychosis, 
" St. Patrick's Purgatory " (so well known over Europe 
in the middle ages), the purse of Fortunatus, fairy gold 
changing to pebbles, etc. I printed this story with a 
French translation in my " Sgeuluidhe Gaedhealach." It 
is the 23rd story in that volume. 


In times long ago there was a poor widow living near 
Castlebar, in the County Mayo. She had an only son, 
and he never grew one inch from the time he was five 
years old, and the people called him Buideach 1 as a 

One day when the Buideach was about fifteen years of 
age his mother went to Castlebar. She was not gone 
more than an hour when there came a big Tinker, and a 

1 Or better. Buighdeach, pronounced Bweed-yach, i.e., Bweed-ya 
with a guttural ch (as in \och\ at the end. 


Black Donkey with him, to the door, and "Are you in, 
woman of the house ? " said the tinker. 

' She is not," said the Buideach, " and she told me not 
to let anyone in until she'd come home herself." 

The Tinker walked in, and when he looked at the 
Buideach he said, " Indeed you're a nice boy to keep 
anyone at all out, you could not keep out a turkey cock." 

The Buideach rose of a leap and gave the big Tinker 
a fist between the two eyes and pitched him out on the 
top of his head, under the feet of the Black Donkey. 

The Tinker rose up in a rage and made an attempt to 
get hold of the Buideach, but he gave him another fist 
at the butt of the ear and threw him out again under 
the feet of the Black Donkey. 

The donkey began to bray pitifully, and when the 
Buideach went out to see [why], the Tinker was dead. 
" You have killed my master," said the Black Donkey, 
" and indeed I am not sorry for it, he often gave me a 
heavy beating without cause." 

The Buideach was astonished when he heard the 
Black Donkey speaking, and he said, " You are not a 
proper donkey." 

" Indeed, I have only been an ass for seven years. 
My story is a pitiful one. I was the son of a gentleman." 

" Musha, then, I would like to hear your story," said 
the Buideach. 

" Come in, then, to the end of the house. Cover up the 
Tinker in the dunghill, and I will tell you my story." 

The Buideach drew the dead man over to the dunghill 
and covered him up. The Black Donkey walked into the 
house and said, " I was the son of a gentleman, but I was 


a bad son, and I died under a heavy load of deadly sins 
on my poor soul ; and I would be burning in hell now 
were it not for the Virgin Mary. I used to say a little 
prayer in honour of her every night, and when I went into 
the presence of the Great Judge I was sentenced to hell 
until His mother spoke to the Judge and He changed his 
sentence, and there was made of me a Black Donkey, 
and I was given to the Tinker for the space of seven 
years, until he should die a worldly [or corporeal] death. 
The Tinker was a limb of the devil, and it was I who gave 
you strength to kill him ; but you are not done with 
him yet. He will come to life again at the end of seven 
days, and if you are there before him he will kill you 
as sure as you are alive/' 

" I never left this townland since I was born," said 
the Buideach, " and I would not like to desert my mother." 

" Would it not be better for you to leave your mother 
than to lose your life in a state of mortal sin and be for ever 
burning in hell ? " 

" I don't know any place where I could go into hiding," 
said the Buideach ; " but since it has turned out that 
it was you who put strength into my hand to kill the Tin- 
ker, perhaps you would direct me to some place where 
I could be safe from him." 
" Did you ever hear talk of Lough Derg ? " 

" Indeed, I did," said the Buideach ; " my grandmother 
was once on a pilgrimage there, but I don't know where 
it is. 

" I will bring you there to-morrow night. There is 
a monastery underground on the island, and an old friar 
in it who sees the Virgin Mary every Saturday. Tell him 


your case and take his advice in every single thing. He 
will put you to penance, but penance on this world is 
better than the pains of hell for ever. You know where 
the little dun 1 is, which is at the back of the old castle. 
If you are in the dun about three hours after nightfall 
I shall be there before you and bring you to Lough Derg. 

" I shall be there if I'm alive," said the Buideach ; 
" but is there any fear of me that the Tinker will get up 
before that time ? " 

" There is no fear," said the Black Donkey, " unless 
you tell somebody that you killed him. If you tell any- 
thing about him he will get up and he will slay yourself 
and your mother." 

" By my soul, then, I'll be silent about him," said the 

That evening when the Buideach's mother came home 
she asked him did anybody come to the house since 
she went away. 

" I did not see anyone," said he, " but an old pedlar 
with a bag, and he got nothing from me." 

" I see the track of the shoe of a horse or a donkey 
outside the door, and it was not there in the morning 
when I was going out," said she. 

" It was Paidin Eamoinn the fool, who was riding 
Big Mary O'Brien's ass," said the Buideach. 

The Buideach never slept a wink all that night but 
thinking of the Tinker and the Black Donkey. The next 
day he was in great anxiety. His mother observed that 
and asked him what was on him. 

1 Literally, " fort," pronounced like " dhoon." Usually a half- 
levelled earthen rampart. l 


" There's not a feather on me," says he. 

That night when the mother was asleep the Buideach 
stole out and never stopped until he came to the little 
dun ; the Black Donkey was there before him and said, 
" Are you ready ? " 

" I am," said the Buideach, " but I am grieved that I 
did not get my mother's blessing ; she will be very 
anxious until I come back again." 

" Indeed she will not be anxious at all, because there 
is another Buideach at your mother's side At home, so 
like you that she won't know that it is not yourself that's 
in it ; but I'll bring him away with me before you come 

" I am very much obliged to you and I am ready to go 
with you now," said he. 

'* Leap up on my back ; there is a long journey before 
us," said the Donkey. 

The Buideach leapt on his back, and the moment he 
did so he heard thunder and saw great lightning. There 
came down a big cloud which closed around the black ass 
and its rider. The Buideach lost the sight of his eyes, 
and a heavy sleep fell upon him, and when he awoke he 
was on an island in Lough Derg, standing in the presence 
of the ancient friar. 

The friar began to talk to him, and said, ''What brought 
you here, my son ? " 

1 Well, then, indeed, I don't rightly know," said the 

" I will know soon," said the friar ; " come with 

He followed the old friar down under the earth, until 


they came to a little chamber that was cut in 
the rock. ' Now," said the friar, " go down on 
your knees and make your confession and do not conceal 
any crime." 

The Buideach went down on his knees and told every- 
thing that happened to him concerning the Tinker and the 
Black Donkey. 

The friar then put him under penance for seven days 
and seven nights, without food or drink, walking on his 
bare knees amongst the rocks and sharp stones. He 
went through the penance, and by the seventh day there 
was not a morsel of skin or flesh on his knees, and he was 
like a shadow with the hunger. When he had the penance 
finished the old friar came and said, " It's time for you 
to be going home." 

" I have no knowledge of the way or of how to go 
back," said the Buideach. 

" Your friend the Black Donkey will bring you back," 
said the friar. " He will be here to-night ; and when 
you go home spend your life piously and do not tell to 
anyone except to your father-confessor that yo were 

" Tell me, father, is there any danger of me from the 
Tinker ? " 

" There is not," said the friar ; " he is an ass [himself 
now] with a tinker from the province of Munster, and he 
will be in that shape for one and twenty years, and after 
that he will go to eternal rest. Depart now to your 
chamber. You will hear a little bell after the darkness 
of night [has fallen], and as soon as you shall hear it, go 
up on to the island, and the Black Donkey will be there 


before you, and he will bring you home ; my blessing 
with you." 

The Buideach went to his room, and as soon as he heard 
the bell he went up to the island and his friend the Black 
Donkey was waiting for him. 

" Jump up on my back, Buideach, I have not a moment 
to lose," said the donkey. 

He did so, and on the spot he heard the thunder and 
saw the lightning. A great cloud came down and en- 
veloped the Black Donkey and its rider. Heavy sleep fell 
upon the Buideach, and when he awoke he found himself 
in the little dun at home standing in the presence of the 
Black Donkey. 

" Go home now to your mother. The other Buideach 
is gone from her side ; she is in deep sleep and she 
won't feel you going in." 

" Is there any fear of me from the Tinker ? " said he. 

" Did not the blessed friar tell you that there is not," 
said the Black Donkey. " I will protect you. Put your 
hand in my left ear, and you will get there a purse which 
will never be empty during your life. Be good to poor 
people and to widows and to orphans, and you will have 
a long life and a happy death, and heaven at the 

The Buideach went home and went to sleep, and the 
mother never had had a notion that the other Buideach 
was not her own son. 

At the end of a week after this the Buideach said to his 
mother, " Is not this a fair day in Castlebar ? " 
" Yes, indeed," said she. 


" Well then, you ought to go there and buy a cow," 
says he. 

' Don't be humbugging your mother or you'll have no 
luck," says she. 

" Upon my word I am not humbugging," said he. 
" God sent a purse my way, and there is more than the 
price of a cow in it." 

" Perhaps you did not get it honestly ; tell me where 
did you find it ? " 

" I'll tell you nothing about it, except that I found it 
honestly, and if you have any doubt about my word, let 
the thing be." 

Women are nearly always given to covetousness, and 
she was not free from it. 

" Give me the price of the cow." 

He handed her twenty pieces of gold. " You'll get a 
good cow for all that money," said he. 

" I will," said she, " but I'd like to have the price of a 


" Do not be greedy, mother," said he ; " you won't 

get any more this time." 

The mother went to the fair and she bought a milch 
cow, and some clothes for the Buideach, and when he 
got her gone he went to the parish priest and said that 
he would like to make confession. He told the priest 
then everything that happened to him from the time he 
met the Tinker and the Black Donkey. 

" Indeed, you are a good boy," said the priest, "give me 
some of the gold." 

The Buideach, gave him twenty pieces, but he was not 
satisfied with that, and he asked for the price of a horse. 


"I did not think that a priest would be covetous/' said he, 
" but I see now that they are as covetous as women. Here 
are twenty more pieces for you ; are you satisfied now ? " 
' I am, and I am not," said the priest. " Since you 
have a purse which will never be empty as long as you 
live, you should be able to give me as much as would set 
up a fine church in place of the miserable one which we 
have in the parish now." 

' Get workmen and masons, and begin the church, 
and I'll give you the workmen's wages from week to week," 
said the Buideach. 

" I'd sooner have it now," said the priest. " A thousand 
pieces will do the work, and if you give them to me now 
I'll put up the church." 

The Buideach gave him one thousand pieces of gold 
out of the purse, and the purse was none the lighter for it. 

The Buideach came home and his mother was there 
before him, with a fine milch cow and new clothes for 
himself. ' Indeed, that's a good cow," said he ; " we 
can give the poor people some milk every morning." 

' Indeed they must wait until I churn, and I'll give 
them the buttermilk — until I buy a pig." 

' It's the new milk you'll give the poor people," said 
the Buideach, " we can buy butter." 

" I think you have lost your senses," says the mother. 
" You'll want the little share of riches which God sent 
you before I'm a year in the grave." 

" How do you know but that I might not be in the grave 
before you ? " said he ; " but at all events God will send 
me my enough." 

When they were talking there came a poor woman, 


and three children to the door and asked for alms in the 
honour of God and Mary. 

" I have nothing for ye this time," said the widow. 

11 Don't say that, mother," said the Buideach. " I have 
alms to give in the name of God and His mother Mary." 
With that he went out and gave a gold piece to the poor 
woman, and said to his mother, " Milk the cow and give 
those poor children a drink." 

" I will not," said the mother. 

" Then I'll do it myself," said he. 

He got the vessel, milked the cow, and gave lots of new 
milk to the poor children and to the woman. When they 
were gone away the mother said to him, " Your purse will 
be soon empty." 

" I have no fear of that," said he ; " it's God who sent 
it to me, and I'll make a good use of it," says he. 

"Have your own way," 1 said she; "but you'll be 
sorry for it yet." 

The next day lots of people came to the Buideach 
asking for alms, and he never let them go away from him 
empty- [handed]. The name and fame of the Buideach 
went through the country like lightning and men said 
that he was in partnership with the good people [i.e. fairies]. 
But others said that it was the devil who was giving him 
the gold, and they made a complaint against him to the 
parish priest. But the priest said that the Buideach was 
a decent good boy, and that it was God who gave him the 
means, and that he was making good use of them. 

The Buideach went on well now, and he began growing 
until he was almost six feet high. 

1 Literally, " do you our will." 


His mother died and he fell in love with a pretty girl, 
and he was not long until they were married. 

He had not a day's luck from that time forward. His 
wife got to know that he had a wonderful purse and 
nothing could satisfy her but she must get it. He refused 
her often, but she was giving him no rest, day or night, 
until she got the purse from him at last. Then, when she 
got it, she had no respect for it. She went to Castlebar 
to buy silks and satins, but when she opened the purse 
in place of gold pieces being in it there was nothing but 
pieces of pebbles. She came back and great anger on her ; 
and said, " Isn't it a nice fool you made of me giving me 
a purse filled with little stones instead of the purse with 
the gold in it." 

" I gave you the right purse," said he ; "I have no 
second one." 

He seized the purse and opened it, and as sure as I'm 
telling it to you, there was nothing in it but little bits of 

There was an awful grief upon the Buideach, and it 
was not long until he was mad, tearing his hair, and beating 
his head against the wall. 

The priest was sent for but he could get neither sense 
nor reason out of the Buideach. He tore off his clothes 
and went naked and mad through the country. 

About a week after that the neighbours found the 
poor Buideach dead at the foot of a bush in the little dun. 

That old bush is growing in the dun yet, and the people 
call it the " Buideach's Bush," but [as for himself] it is 
certain that he went to heaven. 




This curious conception of the greatest river in Ireland 
owing its origin to the struggles of a great worm or serpent 
is new to me. I got it from Pronisias O'Conor, who was 
in the workhouse in Athlone at the time, and he got it 
himself from a man called George Curtin from near Urlaur l 
on the borders of Mayo and Roscommon, who had also been 
in the workhouse. Unfortunately, after writing it down, 
I lost the first half of the story, which was the most interest- 
ing, and I have had to supply a brief summary of it in brack- 
ets, so far as my very imperfect recollection of it goes. I 
have quite forgotten the incidents which led up to the 
druids' prophecy and the Worm's hearing about it. 


[The druid foretold that a man was coming to Ireland 
who would banish all the snakes, dragons and serpents. 
The great Ollpheist, or worm, or serpent, was at this time 
in the pool near the Arigna mountains, from which the 
Shannon partly takes its rise. It heard of this prophecy 
and was greatly concerned about its future. It determined 
to leave Ireland and make his way to the sea before the 
man came who should have the power to kill or banish 
serpents. The man the druid had prophesied about was 
Saint Patrick. 

1 For this place, see the story of the " Friars of Urlaur." 


The story describes the desperate efforts of the great 
worm to make a waterway for itself by cutting away 
the hole in which it was enclosed. It was its efforts to 
escape which made the river Shannon. At every pro- 
minent part of the Shannon its adventures are related. 
As it went on its way, working a channel for itself by which 
to swim out to the sea, it used to commit the most terrible 
depredations on cattle and sheep, and destroy the country 
wherever it happened to be The adventures of the worm 
at Jamestown, Athleague, Lanesborough and other places 
are described. Near Athleague the people, led by a 
drunken piper called O'Rourke, made head against it, but 
it swallowed the piper at one gulp. The noise of the 
pipes was too much for it and it threw him up again, after 
a time, but it lost several days work at the river. After 
getting rid of the piper who had so troubled its inside 
it began to work hard to make up for the time it had lost 1 ] 
for it was greatly afraid of the good and powerful man 
who was to come. 

After a week or so O'Rourke was blind drunk again, 
and he faced for the place where the Great Worm had 
been before, but by this time it had worked its passage 
far away from that place. The piper, however, walked 
into the river, and everyone thought that he was drowned, 
but one of the enchanted eels was left in the hole and the 
eel put O'Rourke under enchantment too, and it was 
not long until they heard him playing music in the hole. 
But he never came up on land since. Only every morning 
and evening they used to be listening to him playing 
music in the hole, and from that day to this there is no 

1 Here begins the half which I did not lose. 


other name on that same spot but the Piper's Hole. And 
everybody in Athlone knows the Piper's Hole as well 
to-day as the people who were alive a thousand years 
ago knew it. 

The Great Worm went on very well until it came to 
the place which is now Lough Ree. There was a great 
tribe of venemous serpents there and they attacked it. 
Some went in front of it, others came behind it, others 
came on each side of it. They fought for seven nights 1 
and seven days ; they made the hard ground soft and the 
soft ground hard. They sent stones and great rocks 
flying more than half a mile up in the air. Floods of 
blood were running as plentiful as the water itself, and 
indeed people thought that it was the end of the world 
that was in it. The battle went on for a month without 
any signs of victory on one side or the other, and the 
people of the villages round about were in great fear ; but 
as the old saying puts it, every battle has an end. When 
the most of the serpents were dead they asked the Great 
Worm for peace. He granted that and both sides were 
rejoiced. The Great Worm was wounded and bruised 
and in much pain. 

After that great battle the Worm had to take a rest, 
and that gave great ease to the people of the villages, 
because it ate neither cow nor sheep nor pig for the space 
of three months, but it ate up all the serpents that it had 
killed in the fighting. It never left so much as a bit of 
bone behind it, and the people began to think that it 
would never claim its food off them any more. But 
so soon as it set to work again they had to supply it with 

1 The night is usually put before the day in Irish. 


cows, sheep, and pigs once more, because it thought that 
this was its [lawful] wages for cutting out the river for 
them. And everyone knows that the river did much 
good for the country on each side of it ; and only 
for the Great Worm there would have been no river. 

The Worm worked hard and went on well until 
it came to the place which is now Lough Derg. The 
venemous serpents were collected before it in that 
place and they gave it battle. If hundreds attacked 
it in Lough Ree thousands attacked it in Lough Derg, 
and the first battle was only sport in comparison to this 
one. They attacked before, behind, and on every side, 
and some of them made holes under its belly so that they 
might be able to thrust it through in that place, and such 
a cutting and scalping and tearing and killing there had 
never been in the world before, and it's likely that there 
won't be again. They made the dry earth wet, the wet 
earth dry, and they sent stones and great rocks flying 
into the air quick as lightning, and God help the man 
one of them would fall on, it was a warrant of death for 
him. They fought for a month without appearance of 
victory on either side, and during all that time the lake 
was red (dearg) with blood, and the old people say that 
this is the reason it was called Loch Dearg or Derg. After 
a month of fighting the Worm gained the battle. It rose 
of one leap in the air, and came down on top of the ser- 
pents, making a mash of them, and those that were not 
killed went off over the country. 

The Worm was torn and wounded and in great pain 
after this hard battle, and had to take a long rest. But 
it never went in pursuit of food from the people of the 


villages, because it ate its enough of the serpents every day 
until the last of them was eaten by it 

As soon as its wounds were closed and it had rested, 
it began working again, and nothing wonderful happened 
to it until it came to the place where the city of Limerick 
is to-day. In that place there was a great troop of en- 
chanted heroes near the spot where the Treaty Stone is 
now. The warriors threatened it and told it not to come 
any further, but it challenged them to battle. They 
attacked it with battle-axes and great clubs, and they were 
cutting it and beating it throughout the day until they 
thought it was dead. Then they went away. But as 
soon as the sun went down it came to itself again and it 
was as strong as it was at the commencement of the 
battle. It came up on land and went to the castle of the 
enchanted warriors. They were asleep, and it threw 
down the castle on top of them and killed every mother's 
son of them. Then it returned to go in face of its work. 

It went on well after leaving Limerick, for there was 
nothing to hinder it. For that reason it made the river 
wider in that place than in any other. But as soon as it 
got out into the sea a great whale met it and it had to fight 
a hard battle, and was nearly beaten, when a sea-maiden 
came and helped it and they killed the whale. 

The sea-maiden and the Great Worm went on side by 
side until they came to a village on the coast, where there 
were about three score of men in boats fishing. The G reat 
Worm was very hungry and began swallowing them down 
greedily, men and boats and all, until the sea-maiden spoke 
and said that it was a shame. That angered it and it 
attacked her, but she was too clever for it. She drew 


out a golden comb with venom in it, and thrust it into the 
Worm's eye and blinded it out and out. Then said the 
Worm to her, " I would sooner be dead than alive ; put 
a hole in my stomach with your scissors." She did that 
and it died in a moment. 

The water was ebbing, and when it had gone out the 
Great Worm was left dead on the sand. The people of 
the villages round about came ; they opened the worm, 
and every mother's son that he had swallowed they found 
alive and in a heavy sleep at the bottom of their boats. 
The bones of the Great Worm remained on the shore of 
Bantry Bay until the fishermen made oars out of them. 
If my story is not true, there is no water in the sea and 
no river Shannon in Ireland. 




This story I got from Pronisias O' Conor when he was 
in the workhouse in Athlone, and he had it from one Rose 
Grennan or in Irish, Roise nic Ghrianain, from a parish 
near Athlone. 

This story is chiefly remarkable for the introduction of 
Grainne Oigh, which seems to mean Grania the virgin. But 
who was Grainne ? My narrator could tell me nothing 
about her. She occurs in the story of " William of the 
Tree " in my " Beside the Fire," and Alfred Nutt has an 
interesting note on her at p. 194, but it throws no light 
upon the subject. There, as here, she appears as a 
beneficent being, very pious, powerful and mysterious, 
and able to work miracles. The town of Moate, in Co. 
Westmeath, is called in Irish the Moat of Grainne Og, who 
is said to have been a Munster princess, very good and very 
wise, and there seems to have been some body of legend 
connected with her, alluded to by Caesar Otway in his 
' Tour in Connaught," p. 55. See also Joyce's " Names 
of Places," vol. I, p. 270. Whether Grainne Og and Grainne 
Oigh are the same person seems doubtful, but I should think 
it very probable, and the appellation of " Oigh " may have 
tended to some confusion with Muire Oigh. Except in these 
two stories, one from O'Conor and the other from a man 
named Blake, near Ballinrobe, I have never met or heard 
or read of any allusion to this being. But the town of 
Athlone, being half in Westmeath, the county with which 
Grainne Og is associated, and the very old woman who 
told this story being from the borders of that county, 


would suggest that there was some connection between 
the mysterious being and the princess from whom Moate is 
said to have got its name. 


Long, long ago there was a poor Widow living in the 
County Clare, and she had seven children, and the eldest 
was only ten years old. It was a Christmas night that was 
in it, and she had not a morsel to give them to eat, and 
since she hadn't, she prayed God to take them to Himself. 

It was not long after her prayer until the door opened 
and Crania Oi 1 walked in and two young women after 
her, carrying a big dish filled with fine food. They 
were all clad in raiment as white as mountain snow. The 
Widow welcomed the ladies, and she said, " Perhaps ye 
would give some relief to a poor family that is fasting 
all the day." 

" God has sent us in answer to your prayer to give 
you relief at the present time, and to ask if you are ready 
and submissive to part with the whole of your family." 

" I am not," said the Widow. 

" Did you not pray to God to take them to Himself 
a short while ago ? " 

" Indeed, I don't know," said she, " I was half mad at 
seeing them fasting, but if God has a place for myself 
along with my family I am obedient and ready to go." 

Then Grania Oi laid dow r n the dish upon the table 
and said to the Widow, " Eat that, yourself and your family, 

1 In Irish " Grainne Oigh," pronounced like " Grania O-ee." 


and when it's eaten I'll come again." Then they went out 
an J it was not long till the Widow and her family began 
eating, and when they were satisfied, still the food on the 
dish was no less than when they began to take from it. 

They were eating at that dish and it never emptied 
until the evening before Good Friday. That evening the 
Widow and her family were without bite or sup and they 
were hoping for Grania Oi and the two young women. 
But when the darkness of the night was falling a tall thin 
man walked in. He was dressed in a gentleman's garb. 
The Widow gave him a chair, and asked him to sit down 
and tal~ a rest. 

" I have no time to sit down," said he, "I have lots 
of business to do. You yourself and your family are 
without bite or sup." 

" We are," said she, " but I hope for succour soon." 

" Have no hope in the promise of a woman of beauty 
or you will be deceived. The woman who gave you the 
dish is participator w T ith the fairies, she is trying to get 
your family from you ; but pay her no attention." 

There was great fear on the poor Widow, and she said, 
" It was a messenger from God who brought us the dish." 

' Believe me they were fairies who brought you the 
dish and that it was fairy food that was in it," said the 
thin man, " and if you accept another dish from her, 
yourself and your family will be in Knock Ma 1 amongst 
the fairies ; have you ever heard of that place ? " 

^noc Meadha, generally called in English " Castlehacket," 
a hill to the west of Tuam, Co. Galway, reputed to be the head- 
quarters of all the Tuatha de Danann and shee-folk of Connacht. 
There dwell Finvara and Nuala, king and queen of the fairies of that 
province. Many stories are told about it. 


" Indeed I have," said she ; " but we shall have no more 
to do with the fairies. I and my family would sooner die 
of the hunger than accept a bite or sup from her again." 

" But don't you know that she has power over you 
on account of all the fairy food you yourself and your 
family have eaten this four months, and now unless ye 
take my advice ye shall be lost." 

" Thank you," said the Widow, " it is a friend who would 
give me good advice." 

Now it was the Devil who was talking to the Widow ; 
He had come to put temptation on her. " Well," said 
he, " you have holy water in the house." 

" I have," said she. 

" I can tell you that it is fairy water, and that there is 
no virtue in it. Go now and throw it in the fire." The 
woman did so. But no sooner did she do so than there 
arose a blue flame, and the house was filled with smoke of 
the same colour. When the smoke cleared away he said, 
" Well, one part of the fairies' power is gone. You have 
a cross, throw it in the fire, and they will have no power 
over you at all. And then as soon as you are free from 
them I will give yourself and your family a means of 
livelihood, and, better than that, yourself and your family 
shall have great riches if you do as I shall tell you." 

" I don't like to burn my cross, it was my mother who 
gave it to me," said the Widow. 

Then he pulled out a purse filled with gold and silver, 
and said, " I had this purse to give you if you had accepted 
my advice, and not that alone, but yourself and your 
family would have had a long life." 

Great greed for riches came upon the poor Widow, and 


she said. " I ask your pardon, noble sir, I am submissive 
to you in every thing. I myself and my family are under 
your control." 

At that he handed her the purse and said : " Throw the 
cross into the fire." She did so, but instead of its burning 
there began a stream of blood to come from it. "Ha! 
ha ! " said he, " look at the fairy blood. Here ! put your 
name to this paper. I must give my master an account 
that I have given you the purse and that you are freed 
from the Shee-folk, and under my control." 

The poor woman put her hand to the pen and made 
her mark, because she did not know how to write or read, 
and she did not know what was in the paper. He held 
the paper on the moment to the fire till it was dry, and he 
went out leaving the cross in the fire and blood running 
from it. As soon as he was gone the Widow took up the 
cross. The blood ceased and there was no sign of 
burning upon it. She was greatly astonished and did not 
know what she would do. 

While she was thinking of the wonderful things that 
had happened she heard a voice calling her. When she 
went to the door she saw Grania Oi and two maidens 
carrying a great dish filled with food. 

' We don't want any fairy food," said the Widow. 
" We have plenty of gold and silver. Go to Knock Ma, 
and don't come near us any more." 

Grania Oi thought that the Widow had lost her senses, 
and she said : " In God's name have sense, and in Christ's 
name come here till I talk with you." She did not wish to 
come, but some power drew her forward until she stood 
in front of Grania Oi, and she shaking from head to foot. 


" What happened to you since I was here before, and 
where did you get the gold and the silver ? " 

" A princely [a generous] man came to me this evening, 
and said that you were a fairy woman, and that you were 
giving myself and my family fairy food in order to get 
us into your power. He told me to throw the holy water 
into the fire, and when I did that there rose a blue flame 
out of it, and the house was filled with smoke of the 
same colour. When the smoke cleared away he said, 
" One part of the fairies' power is gone. You have a 
cross, throw it into the fire and they won't have any power 
at all over you ; and when you're freed from them I'll 
give yourself and your family a means of livelihood, and 
better than that, you and your family will have great 
riches. I told him that I did not like to burn my cross, 
that it was my mother who gave it to me, but he said, 
1 I had this purse for you if you had taken my advice, 
and not only that, but that I and my family would have 
a long life.' Greed for riches came over me, and I begged 
his pardon, saying that I would be submissive to him in 
everything, and that I and my family were under his 
control. With that he handed me the purse and said, 
' Throw the cross into the fire.' I did so, but in place of 
burning, a stream of blood began to flow out of it. He 
laughed and said that it was fairy blood that was in it. 
Then he gave me a paper to put my name to, because he 
h ad an account to give his master that he had given me the 
purse — and that I was free from the Shee. 1 I cannot 
write or read, but I made a mark with the pen. When 

1 This is the Irish word translated by " fairy," in Irish 
" ridhe " : a common diminutive is sidheo'g " shee-ogue." 


he went away I took up the cross and it was not 

" I put the cross of Christ between myself and you, 
accursed woman. You have sold your soul and the souls 
of your family to the devil for the sake of gold and silver, 
and now you are lost for ever, and you have shed the 
blood of Christ before the day of His crucifixion. Go 
to your parish priest as soon as you can and tell him every- 
thing, and how it happened, and tell him that it was 
Grania Oi who sent you to him. If you yourself are lost 
your family is not lost for there is no deadly sin upon 

The Widow went into the house and took out the 
purse, and asked, " What shall I do with this gold and 
silver ? " 

" Throw it into the fire and say at the same time, ' I 
renounce the devil and all his works.' " 

As soon as she threw the purse into the fire and said the 
words, the Devil came into her presence and said, " You 
cannot renounce me. You are mine in spite of priest, 
bishop, or pope. I have the bargain under your [own] 

" In the name of Jesus go away from me," said the 
Widow ; and when he heard that name he was obliged 
to go. 

The Widow went to the priest and told him the story. 
" I am afraid," said he, " that you are lost ; but at all 
events I'll write to the bishop about you. Go home now 
and begin doing penance. I'll send for you when I get 
an answer from the bishop." 


When she came home she found the family eating 
out of a great dish which Grania Oi had left with them ; 
but the eldest of them said to her not to put her hand 
in the dish, that this was the lady's order, but that when 
she should be in want of food they would give it to 

At the end of a week the priest sent for her, and said 
that he had got an answer from the bishop to say that he 
would not be able to have any hand in the case until he 
would get an order from the Pope ; but he bade her to 
make repentance day and night. 

At the end of a month after this the priest sent for her 
again, and said, " I have a letter from the Pope to say that 
there is only one way to save you. Put off your shoes and 
go on a pilgrimage to Lough Derg. Don't sleep the second 
night in any house, and only eat one meal in the twenty- 
four hours, make the journey of the cross seven times 
in the day and seven times in the night for seven days. 
Take no bread with you, and neither gold nor silver, but 
ask alms in the name of God, and when you come back 
again I shall tell you what it is proper for you to do. 
Here is a piece of the true cross to keep the Devil from 
you. Go now in the name of God." 

When the widow came home Grania Oi was before her 
at the door, and asked what the priest had said to her. 
She told her everything that she had to do. " Go without 
delay," said Grania Oi, " and I'll take care of your family 
until you come back." 

The Widow went away. She endured thirst and 
hunger, cold and bitter hardship. But she did everything 
as the Pope had ordered. At the end of three months 


she came back and it was scarcely her own family recog- 
nised her, she was so withered and thin. 

It was not long until the priest came and said, " You 
have a pilgrimage to make to Croagh Patrick, and you 
must walk on your knees from the foot to the top of the 
Reek, 1 and no doubt you will see a messenger from God 
on the top of the Reek, and you will obtain knowledge 
from him. Go, now, or perhaps you would be late." 
The Widow departed, although her feet were cut and the 
blood coming from them. She went on her knees at the 
foot of the Reek, and she was two days and two nights 
going to the top of it. When she sat down a faintness 
came over her and she fell into a sleep. 

When she awoke Grania Oi was by her side. She 
handed her a paper and said, " Look ! is that the paper 
you put your hand to when you sold yourself and your 
family ?" 

" I see that it is," said the poor Widow. " I give a 
thousand thanks and laudations to God that I am saved." 

When she came home the priest came and said Mass 
in the house. The Widow went to confession. She 
herself and her seven children received the body of Christ 
from the priest, and at the end of half an hour she herself 
and her family were dead, and there is no doubt but that 
they all went to heaven, and that we may go to the same 
place ! 

1 Croagh Patrick or Reek Patrick is one of the highest mountains 
in Connacht. It is 2,510 feet high and difficult to climb. St 
Patrick is reputed to have driven all the serpents in Ireland into the 
sea down its slopes. It has always been a noted pilgrimage. 



This is a story which used to be common in West Ros- 
common and East Mayo. I often heard it when I was young. 
The following version was written down and given me by 
my friend Mr. John Rogers [Seaghan O Ruaidhri] 
about five miles away from the place where I used to be told 
the same story. He published it in 1900 in " Irishleabhar 
na Gaedhilge." There is another story also about a 
gambler who played cards with the devil. 


Long ago there used to be a king over every kind 
of trade and special society and it was the " Gambler of 
the Branch " l who was king over all the gamblers and 
players, and he was so skilful that nobody on the face of 
the earth could win a match against him in playing cards 
or any other game. 

At last, and on account of this, he grew lonesome and 
dissatisfied, and he said that since he was not able to get 
a game with a man of this world that he would go to try 
it in the other world. He went off, walking away, and he 

1 " To bear alway the branch," is the Irish expression for having 
first place, or in English, carrying off the palm. 



never stopped of that journey until he came to the great 
doors of hell, and knocked stoutly at them. " Who 
is there ? " said the porter. 

' I am ; I the Gambler of the Branch from the upper 
world," said he, " and I am seeking to play a game of 
cards with the Arch-demon." 

The Arch-demon came, and he said, " What stake have 
you to play for with me, for I only play for people's 
souls ?" 

" I'll play my own soul against one of these that you 
have in bondage in this place." 

" I'll bet it," says the Demon. 

The Gambler won the first game, and so he did most of 
the others, until he had gained every soul in the place 
but one, and the Devil would not stake that one no matter 
how hard the Gambler urged him. He gathered them 
together then, but when the poor soul that was left behind 
saw them departing it let a screech out of it that would 
split a stone, but there was no help for it. 

He drove them before him then, like a flock of sheep, 
and said, " What will be done with ye 1 now ? " 

" O friend, take us to heaven, take us to heaven," said 

" It's as good for me, since ye are here," says he, and 
he drove them away with him until he came to the 
great white gates of heaven. 

The gates opened and they were welcomed, and the 
souls went in. And the porter-saint said to the Gambler, 
" Won't yourself come in ? " 

1 Anglo-Irish very sensibly uses " ye " for the plural of thou in 
all cases, " you " having become ambiguous. 


" If I get leave to bring in the cards, I'll go," said the 
Gambler ; " but if I don't, I won't." 

' You won't get that permission," said the saint, but 
leave them on the wall here outside the gate, and go in, till 
you see those souls counted in their place. And you can 
come out after a while for the cards if you wish." 

The Gambler did that. He went in, and has forgotten 
ever since to come out for them. 

That is the way the Gambler of the Branch went to 
heaven, and that is the reason that when a slow messenger 
delays in the house he has been sent to with a message, 
people say, " You forgot to return as the Gambler of the 
Branch did." 




I have often heard versions of the following story. This 
particular one was written down in Irish by my friend 
Domhnall O Fotharta of Connemara, who printed it in his 
" Siamsa an gheimhridh " in 1892. 

My friend the O'Cathain tells me that the reason the 
dardaol (pronounced in Mid-Connacht dhardheel) is burnt, is 
because if you stamp on it with your foot, or kill it with 
a stone or a stick, then the next time your foot or the stick 
or the stone strikes a person or an animal it will give rise 
to a mortal injury. That is the reason the dardaol is taken 
up on a shovel and put in the fire, or else destroyed by a 
hot coal. 

The scientific name of the dardaol is " ocypus olens," 
in English he is sometimes called the " devil's coach-horse." 
He is really a useful creature and very voracious. He 
preys on most insects injurious to farm crops. He is very 
fearless and assumes an attitude of attack when interfered 
with, opening his jaws and turning his long tail over his 
back as if to sting. This looks very formidable and intimi- 
dating, but the fact is that, in common with the rest of the 
beetle tribe, he has no sting. 

I had the good fortune to twice see a dardaol kill a worm. 
On each occasion the creature sprang into the air in a 
manner I could not have conceived possible, and came down 
on the uphappy worm. It never loosed its hold, but held 
on for nearly ten minutes, the worm struggling and swelling 
all the time, until it finally appeared to be dead. One of 
these dardaols was quite small, not much over three-quarters 


of an inch, but the other one was very large, an inch and a 
half or so, and the worm it killed might have been 3^ or 4 
inches long. 

The ciarng or keerogue is one of the common species of 
ground beetles or " carabus," probably " violaceus." He 
is a large active insect, usually called a "clock " in Anglo- 
Irish. " One keerogue knows another," is a common Irish 
proverb. He is about an inch in length. 

The Prumpolaun [priompollan] is the large common 
dung beetle, " geotrupes stercorarius." It is the heavy, 
slow-flying beetle, which at dusk flies about searching for 
dirty places to deposit its eggs, and as its weight and short 
body render it difficult for it to steer, it is apt to strike 
the wayfarer in the face. It is the " shard-born beetle " 
of the poet. 

In the south of Ireland the dardaol is generally known 
as dearg-a-daol, and in the Anglo-Irish of Connacht he is 
called a " crocodile." There are other allusions to this 
intimidating insect in this book. Its dull black colour 
and threatening movements have made the little creature an 
object of unmerited hatred and superstition in many other 
countries besides Ireland. 


At the time that Jesus was flying from those who were 
betraying Him it chanced that He passed through a field 
in which was a sower who was sowing wheat-seed. His 
disciples said to the sower that if any man were to ask 
him " if Jesus out of Nazareth had passed that way," 
he was to give them this answer : " He passed through 
this field the time we were sowing the seed in it [but 
not since.]" 

The next day the farmer went out to look at his field 
for fear the birds of the air might be doing any damage 


[to the grain he had sowed the day before]. But 
astonishment seized him when he beheld the wheat 
[he had sowed the day before] ripe and yellow and of the 
colour of gold, and fit to be reaped. 

The farmer called on his mehill [troop of workmen] 
to bring sickles with them and cut the wheat. And while 
they were cutting it it chanced that the spies came through 
it. They asked the man whose the field was, whether 
he had seen Jesus out of Nazareth going that way. The 
farmer answered them and told them what he had been 
bidden to tell : " He went through this field when we 
were sowing the wheat that we are reaping to-day." 

The keerogue put his head out of a hole and said 
" ine, ine, 1 yesterday ! yesterday ! " to let them know 
that Jesus had gone past the day before. 

As they were talking with the keerogue, the dhardheel 
put his head out of another hole and said," ger ! ger ! 
ger ! " " sharp ! sharp, sharp," three times over, to make 
them feel that if they followed Jesus sharply they would 
lay hold of Him. 

" O vo, vo ! boiling and burning and fire on you," said 
the prumpolaun, for he was afraid that the spies might 
understand the words that were said to them, and that 
they might follow Jesus sharply to lay hold of Him. 

It is a fashion still amongst the people of West Connacht 
when a dhardheel comes into any house to run for the 
tongs, take a red coal and blow it, and lay it on the dhar- 
dheel to burn it, saying at the same time, " the sins of 
the day, of my life, and of my seven ancestors on you." 

1 Pronounce in-yae\ 


When they get hold of a keerogue the head is cut off 
it and they say the same words that it said itself, " ine ! 
ine " ! while cutting the head off it. But nothing bad is 
done to the prumpolaun on account of the pity it had for 
our Saviour when He was flying from the Jews. 




This was a story told by Michael S. Seoidhigh or Joyce 
from Turlogh More, Co. Galway, for the Oireachtas many 
years ago. 

The form of the story is obviously corrupt and con- 
fused. Why should the woman tell her experiences to 
the voice above her head. There can be little doubt that 
it was the voice who directed her and that when she had 
come home, chastened and enlightened, she then told the 
story as it is here. Either that, or it is the fragment of 
a longer story in which both a strange man and the 
supernatural voice each played a part. 


There was once a lady, and there never was such an 
almsgiver as she was. When her master used to be at 
home she would go upstairs, and when she had no other 
way of giving she would take the inside garment off her 
own body and hand it out to the poor people. 

She had three sons and one of them died. He was one 
and twenty years old when he died. After that she was 
greatly angered with the Son of God. 

It was not long after that until another son went, who 
was twenty-two years old. And a great trouble fell upon 
her after their both dying. 

Two years after that the third son died on her. 

She went away then [half crazed]. She got a bag and 
began asking alms [like any beggar]. She spent the day 


going [on her quest] until night came on, and she never 
found house or wattled-shelter, under which she might 
put her head. She heard a voice above her, and she 
wondered. " What has sent you here ? " said the voice, 
" methinks you had no cause to take up with misery 
were it not your own senselessness." 

" I had not," said she, " but I think I never did any- 
thing against the Son of God, and He has taken from me 
a son who was twenty-one years old, a son as nice as there 
was in the parish. Well I did not half mind that — the 
Son of God's taking him from me — until a year from that 
day He took the second son from me. Two years from 
that day the third son was taken from me, and then I went 
and took a bag with me and said that I would never again 
do another day's service to God. I was [always] so good 
to the Son of God and the glorious Virgin that I never 
thought that He would put such punishment upon me. 
But He put such punishment on me that I went looking 
for alms. Away [from my home] I went and proceeded 
to look for alms, and I never met house or wattled-shelter. 
A man came to me before you [came] and he said to me, 
1 What has brought you here ? ' I told him that the Son 
of God had taken my three children from me. ' Go in,' 
said he, ' into yonder house in which you see the light ? ' 
I went in, and what should I see there but a corpse and 
three lighted candles. I remained there watching the body 
and plenty of grief and fear on me. At the hour of mid- 
night a slumber of sleeping fell upon me, for I was hungry 
and troubled. When I awoke out of the sleep I found 
food and drink and everything I desired laid out before 
me. I ate and drank my enough. After that I fell asleep, 


and when I awoke there was nothing there but a bare 
field, and my bag laid under my head. I arose and stood 
up and threw the bag over my shoulders and turned back 
again, and the same man met me a second time. ' Where 
did you spend the night ? ' said he. ' I spent it watching 
a corpse,' said I. ' Did you get your enough to eat and 
drink ? ' ' I did,' said I. ' Why did you take up with 
misery ? ' ' Well I did take up with misery,' said I, 
1 I had a son who was twenty-one years old and he was 
taken from me. A year from that day the second son was 
taken from me, and two years from that day the third 
son was taken. I went off then and I said that I would 
not do one morsel of God's rules any more.' 

1 Go home, now,' said the man, ' God was so good 
to you that He did not desire you to find shame or scandal. 
That first son that you had — he was to have been hanged 
[if he had lived] for slaying a man. And the second son, 
he was to have been banished far away to an island in the 
sea for stealing cattle [had he lived] . And the third son — 
a woman was to have sworn against him that he was the 
father of her child, although he never had anything, good 
or bad, to do with her. Go home now and mind your own 
business. God had so much consideration for you that 
He did not wish such pain to come down on you 
or your children, since you were yourself so good to the 
poor. Those [three sons] shall be three candles before 
you, and the three don't know which of them will arrange 
your bed under you in the Heaven of God.' ' 

According to what authors say, there are no other four 
who [now] enjoy greater pleasure and happiness than 
they ! 



This story of St. Patrick I got from Pronisias O'Conor. 
It seems to have a certain affinity with the story of Crom 
Dubh (which see). St. Patrick does not play a very 
desirable part in this tale. He uses his private knowledge 
of his garron's capacity as a weight-bearer to the detri- 
ment of his neighbour, the story-teller drawing no 
distinction between what was legal and what was morally 
equitable ! 

The story of the serpent's candle must be old and well- 
known, for it is alluded to in the widely-circulated poem 
the " Dirge of Ireland," by O'Connell, said to have been a 
Bishop of Kerry. Talking of St. Patrick's exploits he says 
it was he who u tfmc coirme^t n^ cApp-Aige te n ^ 
fme1■oex^X),' , " who quenched the candle of the Rock by 
his nod." 


When Saint Patrick came to Ireland to kindle the light 
of Grace in this island, many troubles were coming upon 
him. The island was rilled with snakes, north, south, 
east and west, but it was God's will that Patrick should 
put them under foot. 

When he came to West Connacht he had a servant 

whose name was Fin tan, a pious and faithful man. One 

iay when he was drawing towards the Reek, and the 


demons running away before him in fear, it chanced that 
Fintan was travelling in front of the saint, and the serpents 
came round him and killed him. When the saint came 
he found Fintan dead on the road. He was grieved, but 
he went on his knees and prayed to God to bring his 
servant to life again. No sooner had he his prayers finished 
than Fintan rose up as well as ever he was. Patrick gave 
thanks to God, and said, " In God's name we will set up 
a church here as a sign of the great power of God, and 
we will call it Achaidh Cobhair." J 

The saint bought a garron or nag for carrying 3 tones, and 
he blessed it ; for no burden had ever been laid upon it that 
it was not able to carry. Then he got workmen, masons 
and carpenters, and began to found the church. After 
a while the men began clamouring that they had nothing 
to eat. There was great famine and scarcity in the 
country that year. Meal was so scarce that few- 
people had any to spare, or to sell, either for gold or 

There was a man named Black Cormac living near the 
place. He had the full of a barn of bags of meal. The 
saint took the men and the garron with him one morning 
to the house of Black Cormac, and he inquired how much 
would he be asking for as much meal as the garron would 
be able to carry on his back. Cormac looked at the garron 
and said " so much " — naming his price. " It's a bar- 
gain," said the saint, handing him money down. The 
men went into the barn and brought out a great bag 
and set it on the garron's back. Cormac said that it 

1 i.e., Field of Help. This is folk etymology. Now Augha- 
gower, in Mayo 


would break the creature's back. " Never mind," said 
the saint, " keep packing bags on him until I tell you 
to stop." They put bag after bag on him until they had 
a pile as big as a small house. " Drive on now," says the 
saint. The garron went off as readily and quickly as 
though it had only one bag. There was great anger on 
Black Cormac, and he said, " My share of trouble on ye, 
ye have me destroyed out and out." There was amaze- 
ment upon every person who saw the garron and the load 
that was on him. 

A short time after this the workmen asked the saint for 
meat, for they were working very hard. Some of them 
said that they heard that Black Cormac had a bull to sell 
cheap. The saint sent for Cormac, and asked him how 
much would he be wanting for the bull. Now it was a 
savage bull who had killed many people, and since Cormac 
hated the saint with a great hatred he hoped the bull 
would kill him, and he told him, " You can have the bull 
for nothing if you go yourself for him." " I'm very 
thankful to you," said the saint, " I'll go for him in the 
evening when I'll have my work done." 

That evening the saint went to Black Cormac's house 
and asked him to show him the field where the black bull 
was. He was greatly delighted and said, " Follow me ; 
the walk is not a long one." He brought the saint down 
to a boreen, and showed him the bull in the field and said 
to him, " Take him with you now if you can." The 
saint went into the field, and when the bull saw him it 
raised its head and tail in the air and came towards him 
in anger. He raised his crozier and made the sign of 
Christ between himself and the bull. The beast lowered 


his head and his tail and followed the saint as quietly as 
a lamb. 

When the saint came home he killed the bull and told 
the men, " Take the flesh with ye, but leave the skin and 
the bones." They took the flesh with them and ate it. 

A week after that Black Cormac came to the saint and 
said, " I hear people saying that you are an honest man, 
but I know that you have done me a great wrong." " How 
so ? " said the saint. " About my meal and my bull," 
said he. "I gave you your own bargain for the meal, 
and as for your bull, you can have it back if you wish it." 

" How could I get it back, and it eaten by you and 
your workmen ? " said Black Cormac. 

The saint called for Fintan and told him, " Bring me 
the skin and bones of the bull." He brought them to 
him and he prayed over them, and in a moment the bull 
leapt up as well as ever he was. " Now," said the 
saint, " take your bull home with you." 

Black Cormac was greatly surprised, and when he went 
home he told the neighbours that it was an enchanter 
the saint was, and that his own bull was a blessed bull, 
and that it was proper that the people should worship it. 
They believed that, and they said that they would come 
on Sunday morning. 

The saint heard what Cormac had done, and he threa- 
tened him saying not to lead the people astray from the 
true faith that he himself was teaching them ; but Black 
Cormac would not listen to him. On Sunday morning 
some of the people gathered along with him to worship 
the bull, and Black Cormac was the first to go into the 
field to set an example, and he went to prostrate himself 


in presence of the bull, but the beast came and put his two 
horns under him behind, and tossed him up in the air so 
high that when he came to the ground he was dead. The 
people remember that, still, in West Connacht, as 
Cormac Dubh's Sunday. 

When Saint Patrick finished his church he said Mass in 
it, and after that he faced for the Reek, for many of the 
serpents had gone up that hill out of fear of the saint. 
For that reason he followed them and found that they 
were up on the top of the Reek. 

When he came to the bottom he dug a great hole, and 
he went up on the Reek and drove the serpents down. 
They fell into the hole and were all drowned but two. 
Those two escaped from him. One of them went into 
a hole in a great rock near the Mouth of the Ford 1 in 
Tirawley, and wrought great havoc amongst the people. 

Every night when the sun would be going down this 
serpent used to light a candle, and anybody who would 
see the light used to fall dead. The people called this 
serpent Serein, and the rock is to be seen to this day, 
and it is called Carrig-Sercin. The saint followed this 

He and his servant, Fintan, came to a little 
village near Carrig-Sercin, and the saint asked a widow 
for lodgings for himself and his servant. " I'll give you 
that," said she, " but I must close my door before set of 
sun." " Why so ? " said the saint. " There is a serpent 
in a hole of a rock out in the sea ; he lights a candle every 
evening before sunset, and anybody who sees that light 

1 Ballina, Co. Mayo. 


falls dead. He has great destruction made amongst the 

' Have you a candle in the house ? " said the saint. 
" Indeed I have not," said she. " Have you the makings 
of a candle," said the saint. " No," said she ; " but I 
have dry rushes." 

Then the saint drew out a knife and opened Fintan's 
stomach and took a bit of lard out of it, and gave it to the 
woman of the house, and told her to make a candle. She 
did as he had directed, and when the candle was made 
the saint lit it and stood in the mouth of the dcor. It 
was not long until the serpent lit his candle, but no 
sooner was it lit than it fell dead. The people thanked 
the saint greatly, and he explained to them the mighty 
power and the love of God, and baptized them all. 

When the other serpent escaped St. Patrick, it never 
stopped until it went in on a little island that was in the 
north of the country. The name of this serpent was 
Bolan Mor, or Big Bolaun. He was as big as a round 
tower. St. Patrick pursued Bolan ; but when he came 
as far as the lake he had no boat to take him to the island. 
He stripped off his clothes, and with his crozier in his 
hand he leapt into the water and began swimming to the 

When the serpent saw the saint coming to him he took 
to the water, and when he came as far as the saint he opened 
his mouth, and, as sure as I'm telling it, he swallowed the 
saint. Bolan Mor had a great wide stomach, and when 
the saint found himself shut up there he began striking 
on every side with his crozier, and Bolan Mor began to 
throw a flood of blood out of his mouth, until the water 


of the lake was red (dearg) , and there is no name on the 
lake from that day to this but Loch Dearg. The saint 
was beating Bolan M6r with the crozier until he killed 
him. Then he made a hole in his side and came out, and 
drew Bolan Mor's body to land after him. 

There was wonder and great joy on the people of the 
villages round about, because neither man, beast, nor 
bird had come to the lake since Bolan came there but he 
had swallowed down into his big stomach, and it was 
great good for them he to be dead. 

The next day the saint got a boat, and he and Fintan 
and a number of the people from the villages went to the 
island. St. Patrick blessed the little island, and it was 
not long until a number of pious men came and cut out 
[the site of] a monastery on the island, and from that 
time to the present, good people go on a pilgrimage to 
that blessed island. 1 

St. Patrick remained for a time amongst the people 
near Loch Derg teaching and baptising them. And as 
soon as some of them were able to teach the others he 
returned to Aughagower. While the saint had been 
away from them some of them had fallen into unbelief, 
but so soon as he came back they returned to the true 
faith of St. Patrick and never lost it more. Many people 
also came to the saint seeking to buy the little garron 
from him ; but he would not sell it. 

One day the king who was over Connacht at that time 
came and said, " I hear you have a wonderful garron, 
and that he is able to carry a heavy load." 

* i.e., I<ough Derg. 


He is a good garron," said the saint, " no load has failed 
him since I bought him, and I wouldn't like to part with 

" I'll give you as much gold as he will be able to carry 
on his back in one load in one day from rise of sun until 
it sets. It is thirty miles from my castle to this place and 
he must do the journey in one day." 

" Perhaps you have not as much gold in the house as 
the garron can carry," said the saint. 

" If I haven't," said the king, " I'll give you as much 
as will found three churches for you, and you'll have your 
garron, too." 

" It's a bargain," said the saint. 

The king had a coach, a tent and servants, and he said, 
" I'll wait here till morning and you can come to my castle 
with me, and the morning after you can go home with 
your load. 

" Very well, let it be so," said the saint. 

On the morning of the next day they all departed, 
the saint riding on the garron, and the king and his ser- 
vants in the coach. The king drove his horses as fast as 
they were able to run, to see would the garron be able to 
keep up with them. But if they had to go seven times as 
quick the garron was able for them. St. Patrick remained 
that night at the king's castle and next morning before sun- 
rise the king brought himself and his garron to his treasury. 
The treasurer was there with his men. They filled a great 
bag with gold and put it on the garron's back. " Will 
he be able to carry it home ? " said the king. " He will, 
and twenty times as much," said the saint. He filled 
another bag and put it on him, and another bag after that. 


11 Isn't there his enough of a load on him now ? " said the 
king. " There isn't a half or a quarter of a load yet on 
him/' said the saint. They were putting [bags] on him 
until every ounce in the treasury was on him. Then 
the saint said, " To show that there isn't half a load on 
him yet, put two or three tons of iron on top of the gold." 
They did that, and the garron walked out as lightly as 
though there had been nothing in it but a bag of oats. 
" Now," said the saint, " you see that my garron-££W 
hasn't half a load on him yet." " I see he has not," said 
the king. ' There is more power in your garron than 
in all the horses of the Ard-ri. 1 Take your garron home 
again, and begin and set up those churches, and I'll pay 
the cost." 

The saint rode on his garron and came home. He soon 
began to put up the three churches, and the king paid the 
costs. But the garron carried every stone that went to 
the building. The people have the old saying still when 
they want to praise anyone, " May you have the strength 
of Patrick's garron ! " 

When the three churches were finished he bestowed his 
garron on the brethren, and he himself went northward, 
lighting a coal of faith throughout Ireland which was 
never quenched, and never shall be quenched. 

When the great judgment shall come it is St. Patrick 
who will judge the children of the Gael. 

1 i.e., The High King. 




There is hardly any Irish saint of whom more legends 
are related, at least in our literature, than of Saint Moling. 
He was both a poet and a prophet. Some stories bring him 
into contact with Goban Saor, the great builder. He 
figures largely in the extraordinary tale of " Suibhne Geilt." 
See also the story of the "Death of Bearchan." The following 
legend was printed by my friend, Sean Toibin, in the 
" L/Ochrann" a couple of years ago. I was sure it was taken 
from oral sources, but he has just told me to my surprise, 
that he was only retelling what he had read in Irish, not 
what he had heard or taken down orally. However, as 
the story had been set up in print, and as I have here no 
other story about St. Moling it may stay, only the reader 
must understand that it is not actual surviving folk-lore, 
but a retelling from an Irish MS. 


[He was first called Taircheal, and he was pupil to a 
cleric] Taircheal went out one day, and he had 
two bags, one on his back and one in front of him. 
He took his master's stick in his hand and off he set in 
this guise. He went round Luachair on pilgrimage, and 
he was there reciting his rosary when he saw T coming tow- 
ards him the Fuath 1 and his people ; a black, dark, truly 

1 Pronounced " Foo-a." A weird shape, phantom, or spectre. 


ugly band were they, and they had the form of demons. 
And they used never give quarter to anyone. And this 
was the number of those who were there, namely the 
Fuath himself, his wife, his gillie, his hound, and nine 

Says the Fuath to his people, " Wait ye there and I'll 
go talk to yon man who is alone, and since I took up with 
a life of plundering and stealing I never felt a desire to 
protect any man except that one only." He gripped his 
sword and went over to meet Taircheal. 

He said to Taircheal, " Whence have you come from, 
you eater of beastings ? " 

" Whence have you come from yourself, you black 
burnt gruagach 1 ? " said the young man. 

" I'll take your bags off you, and your head too, unless 
you listen to me," said the Fuath. 

" By my father's hand you won't unless I wish it my- 
self," said Taircheal. 

' By the hand of him who taught me, but I'll ply my 
weapon on you," said the Fuath. 

" I'd think it easier to put you down than boiled meat," 
said Taircheal. 

" Listen or I'll stick this point in through the middle 
of your heart," said the Fuath. 

" I swear," said the young man, " that I'll strike you 
on the head with this stick, it is the crozier of my master 
and tutor, and he promised that it should never be broken 
in single combat." 

Then fear possessed the Fuath, and he called to his 

1 Literally, " long-haired one." It is a term for a wizard or warlock. 


people to come and help him. The other Fuaths came. 
Then it was plain to Taircheal that he had no way of 
escape or of withdrawing. 

' We'll kill you now, brown Taircheal," said the 
Fuath's hag, " I'll thrust you through with my knife, and 
you'll get death and. violent dissolution." 

" I ask a request of ye," said Taircheal. 

" What is it ?" said the Fuaths. 

" Let me go to the other side of that ditch, and give 
three steps in the path of the King of Heaven and 
Earth," said he. 

The Fuaths laughed. " That's all you want ?" said 
they. "That's all," said he. 

" Have it then," said the hag, " for you won't go from 
us, for we are as swift as the deer of the hill, and this 
hound of ours is as swift as the wind." 

Then Taircheal walked to the ditch, and gave his three 
leaps. He went so far, of the first leap, that they thought 
he was no bigger [when he landed] than a crow on top of 
the hill. The second leap he gave they did not see him 
at all, and they did not see whether it was to heaven or 
earth he had gone. Of the third leap he landed upon 
the wall of his tutor's church. 

" That way he's gone," said the Fuath's hag. Then 
they rose up and ran, both hound and person, so that their 
cry and yell was heard a mile overhead in the upper air. 
The hounds and populace of the village came out each one 
of them to protect the youth, for it was plain to them that 
he was being pursued by the Fuaths. But he leapt down 
off the wall and ran into the church, and began returning 
thanks to God in presence of his tutor. 


" What angry madness is on you, son ?" said the tutor. 

" Nothing much, my tutor," said Taircheal, " it was 
the Fuaths who were hunting me ; " and he told him the 
story how he had leaped [ling] from Luachair in his three 

'' Great is your leap [ling] my pupil," said the priest, 
and it was for you that the angel Victor made the pro- 
phecy, and Moling [= my leap] of Luachair shall be your 
name henceforth from the leaps that you have leapt." 



Printed in Ireland