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By Lady Gregory 


Seven Short Plays 
Folk-History Plays, 2 vols. 
New Comedies 
The Image 
The Golden Apple 

Our Irish Theatre. A Chapter of Auto- 


Visions and Beliefs, 2 vols. 
Cuchulain of Muirthemne 
Gods and Fighting Men 
Saints and Wonders 
Poets and Dreamers 
The Kiltartan Poetry Book 


' There's no doubt at all but that there's the same 
sort of things in other countries ; but you hear 
more about them in these parts because the Irish 
do be more familiar in talking of them." 


Gbe "Knickerbocker press 


Copyright, 1920 



Ubc fmfcfcerbocfcer press, Hew IBorft 


THE Sidhe cannot make themselves visible to 
all. They are shape-changers ; they can grow 
small or grow large, they can take what shape they 
choose; they appear as men or women wearing 
clothes of many colours, of today or of some old 
forgotten fashion, or they are seen as bird or beast, 
or as a barrel or a flock of wool. They go by us in a 
cloud of dust; they are as many as the blades of 
grass. They are everywhere; their home is in the 
forths, the lisses, the ancient round grass-grown 
mounds. There are thorn-bushes they gather near 
and protect; if they have a mind for a house like 
our own they will build it up in a moment. They 
will remake a stone castle, battered by Cromwell's 
men, if it takes their fancy, filling it with noise and 
lights. Their own; country is Tir-nan-Og — the 
Country of the Young. It is under the ground or 
under the sea, or it may not be far from any of us. 
As to their food, they will use common things left 
for them on the hearth or outside the threshold, 
cold potatoes it may be, or a cup of water or of 
milk. But for their feasts they choose the best of 
all sorts, taking it from the solid world, leaving 
some worthless likeness in its place; when they 

iv Preface 

rob the potatoes from the ridges the diggers find 
but rottenness and decay ; they take the strength 
from the meat in the pot, so that when put on the 
plates it does not nourish. They will not touch 
salt; there is danger to them in it. They will go 
to good cellars to bring away the wine. 

Fighting is heard among them, and music that 
is more beautiful than any of this world; they are 
seen dancing on the rocks; they are often seen 
playing at the hurling, hitting balls towards the 
goal. In each one of their households there is a 
queen, and she has more power than the rest ; but 
the greatest power belongs to their fool, the Fool 
of the Forth, Amadan-na-Briona. He is their 
strongest, the most wicked, the most deadly; 
there is no cure for any one he has struck. 

When they are friendly to a man they give him 
help in his work, putting their strength into his 
body. Or they may tell him where to find treasure, 
hidden gold ; or through certain wise men or women 
who have learned from them or can ask and get 
their knowledge they will tell where cattle that 
have strayed may be found, or they will cure the 
sick or tell if a sickness is not to be cured. They 
will sometimes work as if against their own will or 
intention, giving back to the life of our world one 
who had received the call to go over to their own. 
They call many there, summoning them perhaps 
through the eye of a neighbour, the evil eye, or by 
a touch, a blow, a fall, a sudden terror. Those who 
have received their touch waste away from this 

Preface v 

world, lending their strength to the invisible ones; 
for the strength of a human body is needed by the 
shadows, it may be in their fighting, and certainly 
in their hurling to win the goal. Young men are 
taken for this, young mothers are taken that they 
may give the breast to newly born children among 
the Sidhe, young girls that they may themselves 
become mothers there. 

While these are away a body in their likeness, 
or the likeness of a body, is left lying in their place. 
They may be given leave to return to their village 
after a while, seven years it may be, or twice or 
three times seven. But some are sent back only 
at the end of the years allotted them at the time 
of their birth, old spent men and women, thought 
to have been dead a long time, given back to die 
and be buried on the face of the earth. 

There are two races among the Sidhe. One is 
tall and handsome, gay, and given to jesting and 
to playing pranks, leading us astray in the fields, 
giving gold that turns to withered leaves or to dust. 
These ride on horses through the night-time in 
large companies and troops, or ride in coaches, 
laughing and decked with flowers and fine clothes. 
The people of the other race are small, malicious, 
wide-bellied, carrying before them a bag. When a 
man or woman is about to die, a woman of the 
Sidhe will sometimes cry for a warning, keening 
and making lamentation. At the hour of death 
fighting may be heard in the air or about the house 
— that is, when the man in danger has friends 



among the shadows, who are fighting on his 

The dead are often seen among them, and will 
give help in danger to comrade or brother or friend. 
Sometimes they have a penance to work out, and 
will come and ask the living for help, for prayers, 
for the payment of a debt. They may wander in 
some strange shape, or be bound in the one place, 
or go through the air as birds. When the Sidhe 
pass by in a blast of wind we should say some words 
of blessing, for there may be among them some of 
our own dead. The dead are of the nature of the 
Saints, mortals who have put on immortality, who 
have known the troubles of the world. The Sidhe 
have been, like the Angels, from before the making 
of the earth. In the old times in Ireland they were 
called gods or the children of gods; now it is laid 
down they are those Angels who were cast out of 
heaven, being proud. 

This is the news I have been given of the people 
of the Sidhe by many who have seen them and 
some who have known their power. 


Coole, February, 1916. 


— Sea-Stories 




—Seers and Healers .... 


Biddy Early .... 


Mrs. Sheridan .... 


Mr. Saggarton .... 


"A Great Warrior in the Busi- 
ness "..... 


Old Deruane .... 



—The Evil Eye — the Touch —the 
Penalty .... 



—Away ...... 


Witches and Wizards and Irish Folk- 
lore ...... 








11 'T'HE Celtic Twilight" was the first book of Mr. 

• Yeats' s that I read, and even before I met him, 
a little time later, I had begun looking for news of the 
invisible world; for his stories were of Sligo and I felt 
jealous for Galway. This beginning of knowledge 
was a great excitement to me, for though I had heard 
all my life some talk of the faeries and the banshee 
(having indeed reason to believe in this last), I had 
never thought of giving heed to what I, in common with 
my class, looked on as fancy or superstition. It was 
certainly because of this unbelief that I had been told 
so little about them. Even when I began to gather 
these stories, I cared less for the evidence given in 
them than for the beautiful rhythmic sentences in which 
they were told. I had no theories, no case to prove, 
I but "held tip a clean mirror to tradition.* 1 

It is hard to tell sometimes what has been a real 
vision and what is tradition, a legend hanging in the 
air, a "vanity" as our people call it, made use of by 
a story-teller here and there, or impressing itself as 
a real experience on some sensitive and imaginative 
mind. For tradition has a large place in "the Book 


4 Visions and Beliefs 

of the People" showing a sowing and re- sowing, a 
continuity and rebirth as in nature. "Those" 
"The Others," "The Fallen Angels" have some of 
the attributes of the gods of ancient Ireland; we may 
even go back yet farther to the early days of the world 
when the Sons of God mated with the Daughters of 
Men. I believe that if Christianity could be blotted 
out and forgotten tomorrow, our people would not 
be moved at all from the belief in a spiritual world 
and an unending life; it has been with them since 
the Druids taught what Lucan called "the happy 
error of the immortality of the soul." I think we 
found nothing so trivial in our search but it may have 
been worth the lifting; a clue, a thread, leading through 
the maze to that mountain top where things visible 
and invisible meet. 

To gather folk-lore one needs, I think, leisure, 
patience, reverence, and a good memory. I tried not 
to change or alter anything, but to write down the 
very words in which the story had been told. Some- 
times Mr. Yeats was with me at the telling; or I would 
take him to hear for himself something I had been 
told, that he might be sure I had missed or added 
nothing. I filled many copybooks, and came to have 
a very faithful memory for all sides of folk-lore, 
stories of saints, of heroes, of giants and enchanters, 
as well as for these visions. For this I have had to 
11 pay the penalty" by losing in some measure that 
useful and practical side of memory that is concerned 
with names and dates and the multiplication table, 
and the numbers on friends' houses in a street. 

Sea-Stories 5 

It was on the coast I began to gather these stories, 
and I went after a while to the islands Inishmor, 
Inishmaan, Inisheer f and so I give the sea-stories 

/ was told by: 

A Man on the Height near Dun Conor: 

It's said there's everything in the sea the same 
as on the land, and we know there's horses in it. 
This boy here saw a horse one time out in the sea, 
a grey one, swimming about. And there were 
three men from the north island caught a horse 
in their nets one night when they were fishing for 
mackerel, but they let it go; it would have broke 
the boat to bits if they had brought it in, and any- 
how they thought it was best to leave it. One 
year at Kinvara, the people were missing their oats 
that was eaten in the fields, and they watched one 
night and it was five or six of the sea-horses they 
saw eating the oats, but they could not take them, 
they made off to the sea. 

And there was a man on the north island fishing 
on the rocks one time, and a mermaid came up 
before him, and was partly like a fish and the rest 
like a woman. But he called to her in the name 
of God to be off, and she went and left him. 

There was a boy was sent over here one morning 
early by a friend of mine on the other side of the 
island, to bring over some cattle that were in a 


8 Visions and Beliefs 

field he had here, and it was before daylight, and 
he came to the door crying, and said he heard 
thirty horses or more galloping over the roads 
there, where you'd think no horse could go. 

Surely those things are on the sea as well as on 
the land. My father was out fishing one night 
off Tyrone and something came beside the boat, 
that had eyes shining like candles. And then a 
wave came in, and a storm rose of a moment, and 
whatever was in the wave, the weight of it had like 
to sink the boat. And then they saw that it was 
a woman in the sea that had the shining eyes. 
So my father went to the priest, and he bid him 
always to take a drop of holy water and a pinch 
of salt out in the boat with him, and nothing would 
harm him. 

A Galway Bay Lobster-Seller : 

They are on the sea as well as on the land, and 
their boats are often to be seen on the bay, sailing 
boats and others. They look like our own, but 
when you come near them they are gone in an 
instant. {Note i.) 

My mother one time thought she saw our own 
boat come in to the pier with my father and two 
other men in it, and she got the supper ready, but 
when she went down to the pier and called them 
there was nothing there, and the boat didn't come 
in till two hours after. 

There were three or four men went out one day 
to fish, and it was a dead calm; but all of a sudden 

Sea-Stories 9 

they heard a blast and they looked, and within 
about three mile of the boat they saw twelve men 
from the waist, the rest of them was under water. 
And they had sticks in their hands and were strik- 
ing one another. And where they were, and the 
blast, it was rough, but smooth and calm on each 

There's a sort of a light on the sea sometimes ; 
some call it a "Jack O' Lantern" and some say 
it is sent by them to mislead them. {Note 2.) 

There's many of them out in the sea, and often 
they pull the boats down. {Note 3.) It's about 
two years since four fishermen went out from Aran, 
two fathers and two sons, where they saw a big 
ship coming in and flying the flag for a pilot, and 
they thought she wanted to be brought in to 
Gal way. And when they got near the ship, it 
faded away to nothing and the boat turned over 
and they were all four drowned. 

There were two brothers of my own went to 
fish for the herrings, and what they brought up 
was like the print of a cat, and it turned with the 
inside of the skin outside, and no hair. So they 
pulled up the nets, and fished no more that day. 
There was one of them lying on the strand here, 
and some of the men of the village came down of a 
sudden and surprised him. And when he saw he 
was taken he began a great crying. But they 
only lifted him down to the sea and put him back 
into it. Just like a man they said he was. And 
a little way out there was another just like him, 

io Visions and Beliefs 

and when he saw that they treated the one on 
shore so kindly, he bowed his head as if to thank 

Whatever's on the land, there's the same in the 
sea, and between the islands of Aran they can 
often see the horses galloping about at the 
bottom. {Note 4.) 

There was a sort of a big eel used to be in Tully 
churchyard, used to come and to root up the bodies, 
but I didn't hear of him of late — he may be done 
away with now. 

There was one Curran told me one night he 
went down to the strand where he used to be 
watching for timber thrown up and the like. And 
on the strand, on the dry sands, he saw a boat, a 
grand one with sails spread and all, and it up far- 
ther than any tide had ever reached. And he 
saw a great many people round about it, and it 
was all lighted up with lights. And he got afraid 
and went away. And four hours after, after sun- 
rise, he went there again to look at it, and there 
was no sign of it, or of any fire, or of any other 
thing. The Mara-warra (mermaid) was seen on 
the shore not long ago, combing out her hair. She 
had no fish's tail, but was like another woman. 

John Corley: 

There is no luck if you meet a mermaid and you 
out at sea, but storms will come, or some ill will 

There was a ship on the way to America, and a 

Sea-Stories 1 1 

mermaid was seen following it, and the bad weather 
began to come. And the captain said, "It must 
be some man in the ship she's following, and if we 
knew which one it was, we'd put him out to her 
and save ourselves. " So they drew lots, and the 
lot fell on one man, and then the captain was 
sorry for him, and said he'd give him a chance till 
tomorrow. And the next day she was following 
them still, and they drew lots again, and the lot 
fell on the same man. But the captain said he'd 
give him a third chance, but the third day the lot 
fell on him again. And when they were going to 
throw him out he said, " Let me alone for a while. " 
And he went to the end of the ship and he began to 
sing a song in Irish, and when he sang, the mermaid 
began to be quiet and to rock like as if she was 
asleep. So he went on singing till they came to 
America, and just as they got to the land the ship 
was thrown up into the air, and came down on the 
water again. There's a man told me that was surely 

And there was a boy saw a mermaid down by 
Spiddal not long ago, but he saw her before she 
saw him, so she did him no harm. But if she'd 
seen him first, she'd have brought him away and 
drowned him. 

Sometimes a light will come on the sea before the 
boats to guide them to the land. And my own 
brother told me one day he was out and a storm 
came on of a sudden, and the sail of the boat was 
let down as quick and as well as if two men were in 

12 Visions and Beliefs 

it. Some neighbour or friend it must have been 
that did that for him. Those that go down to the 
sea after the tide going out, to cut the weed, often 
hear under the sand the sound of the milk being 
churned. There's some didn't believe that till 
they heard it themselves. 

A Man from Roundstone: 

One night I was out on the boat with another 
man, and we saw a big ship near us with about 
twenty lights. She was as close to us as that rock 
(about thirty yards), but we saw no one on board. 
And she was like some of the French ships that 
sometimes come to Galway. She went on near us 
for a while, and then she turned towards the shore 
and then we knew that she was not a right ship. 
And she went straight on to the land, and when 
she touched it, the lights went out and we saw her 
no more. 

There was a comrade of mine was out one night, 
and a ship came after him, with lights, and she 
full of people. And as they drew near the land, 
he heard them shouting at him and he got afraid, 
and he went down and got a coal of fire and threw 
it at the ship, and in a minute it was gone. 

A Schoolmaster: 

A boy told me last night of two men that went 
with poteen to the Island of Aran. And when they 
were on the shore they saw a ship coming as if to 
land, and they said, "We'll have the bottle ready 

Sea-Stories 13 

for those that are coming." But when the ship 
came close to the land, it vanished. And presently 
they got their boat ready and put out to sea. And 
a sudden blast came and swept one of them off. 
And the other saw him come up again, and put out 
the oar across his breast for him to take hold of it. 
But he would not take it but said, "I'm all right 
again now, " and sank down again and was never 
seen no more. 

John Nagle: 

For one there's on the land there's ten on the sea. 
When I lived at Ardfry there was never a night 
but there was a voice heard crying and roaring, 
by them that were out in the bay. A baker 
he was from Loughrea, used to give short weight 
and measure, and so he was put there for a 

I saw a ship that was having a race with another 
go suddenly down into the sea, and no one could 
tell why. And afterwards one of the Government 
divers was sent down to look for her, and he told 
me he'd never as long as he'd live go down again, 
for there at the bottom he found her, and the cap- 
tain and the saloon passengers, and all sitting at 
the table and eating their dinner, just as they did 

A Little Girl: 

One time a woman followed a boat from Galway 
twenty miles out, and when they saw that she 

14 Visions and Beliefs 

was some bad thing, wanting some of them, they 
drowned her. 

Mrs. Casey: 

I was at home and I got some stories from a 
man I had suspected of having newses. And he 
told me that when he was a youngster he was at a 
height where there used to be a great many of 
them. And all of a sudden he saw them fly out to 
where a boat was coming from Duras with sea- 
weed. And they went in two flights, and so fast 
that they swept the water away from each side 
the boat, and it was left on the sand, and this 
they did over and over, just to be humbugging 
the man in the boat, and he was kept there a long 
time. When they first rose up, they were like 
clouds of dust, but with all sorts of colours, and 
then he saw their faces turned, but they kept 
changing colour every minute. (Note 5.) Laugh- 
ing and humbugging they seemed to be. 

My uncle that used to go out fishing for mackerel 
told me that one night some sort of a monster came 
under the boat and it wasn't a fish, and it had 
them near upset. 

At an evening gathering in Inishmaan, by a Son 
of the House: 

There was a man on this island was down on the 
beach one evening with his dog, and some black 
thing came up out of the sea, and the dog made for 
it and began to fight it. And the man began to 

Sea-Stories 15 

run home and he called the dog, and it followed 
him, but every now and again it would stop and 
begin to fight again. And when he got to the 
house he called the dog in and shut the door, and 
whatever was outside began hitting against the 
door but it didn't get in. But the dog went in 
under the bed in the room, and before morning 
it was dead. 

The Man of the House: 

A horse I've seen myself on the sea and on the 
rocks — a brown one, just like another. And I 
threw a stone at it, and it was gone in a minute. 
We often heard there was fighting amongst these. 
And one morning before daybreak I went down 
to the strand with some others, and the whole of 
the strand, and it low tide, was covered with blood. 

Colman Kane: 

I knew a woman on this island and she and her 
daughter went down to the strand one morning 
to pick weed, and a wave came and took the 
daughter away. And a week after that, the 
mother saw her coming to the house, but she 
didn't speak to her. 

There was a man coming from Galway here and 
he had no boatman. And on the way he saw a 
man that was behind him in the boat, that was 
putting up the sail and taking the management of 
everything, and he spoke no word. And he was 
with him all the way, but when the boat came to 

16 Visions and Beliefs 

land, he was gone, and the man isn't sure, but he 
thinks it was his brother. 

You see that sand below on the south side. 
When the men are out with the mackerel boats at 
early morning, they often see those sands covered 
with boys and girls. 

There were some men out fishing in the bay one 
time, and a man came and held on to the boat, and 
wanted them to make room for him to get in, and 
after a time he left them. He was one of those. 
And there was another of them came up on the 
rocks one day, and called out to Martin Flaherty 
that was going out and asked what was his name. 

There* s said to be another island out there that's 
enchanted, and there are some that see it. And 
it's said that a fisherman landed on it one time, and 
he saw a little house, and he went in, and a very 
nice-looking young woman came out and said, 
"What will you say to me?" and he said, "You 
are a very nice lady." And a second came and 
asked him the same thing and a third, and he made 
the same answer. And after that they said, "You'd 
best run for your life," and so he did, and his 
curragh was floating along and he had but just 
time to get into it, and the island was gone. But 
if he had said "God bless you," the island would 
have been saved. 

A Fisherman on Kilronan Pier : 
I don't give in to these things myself , but they'd 
make you believe them in the middle island. 

Sea-Stories 17 

Mangan, that I lodged with there, told rue of seeing 
a ship when he was out with two other men, that 
followed them and vanished. And he said one of 
the men took to his bed from that time and died. 
And Doran told me about the horse he saw, that 
was in every way like a horse you'd see on land. 
And a man on the south island told me how he saw 
a calf one morning on the strand, and he thought 
it belonged to a neighbour, and was going to drive 
it up to his field, when its mother appeared on the 
sea, and it went off to her. 

They are in the sea as well as on the land. 
That is well known by those that are out fishing 
by the coast. When the weather is calm, they 
can look down sometimes and see cattle and pigs 
and all such things as we have ourselves. And at 
nights their boats come out and they can be seen 
fishing, but they never last out after one o'clock. 

The cock always crows on the first of March 
every year at one o'clock. And there was a man 
brought a cock out with him in his boat to try 
them. And the first time when it crowed they all 
vanished. That is how they were detected. 

There are more of them in the sea than on the 
land, and they sometimes try to come over the 
side of the boat in the form of fishes, for they can 
take their choice shape. 

Pat O'Hagan: 

There were two fine young women — red -haired 
women — died in my village about six months ago. 

18 Visions and Beliefs 

And I believe they're living yet. And there are 
some have seen them appear. All I ever saw my- 
self was one day I was out fishing with two others, 
and we saw a canoe coming near us, and we were 
afraid it would come near enough to take away 
our fish. And as we looked it turned into a three- 
masted ship, and people in it. I could see them 
well, dark-coloured and dressed like sailors. But 
it went away and did us no harm. 

One night I was going down to the curragh, 
and it was a night in harvest, and the stars shining, 
and I saw a ship fully rigged going towards the 
coast of Clare where no ship could go. And when 
I looked again, she was gone. 

And one morning early, I and other men that 
were with me, and one of them a friend of the man 
here, saw a ship coming to the island, and he 
thought she wanted a pilot, and put out in the 
curragh. But when we got to where she was, 
there was no sign of her, but where she was the 
water was covered with black gulls, and I never 
saw a black gull before, thousands and crowds of 
them, and not one white bird among them. And 
one of the boys that was with me took a tarpin 
and threw it at one of the gulls and hit it on the 
head, and when he did, the curragh went down to 
the rowlocks in the water — up to that — and it's 
nothing but a miracle she ever came up again, 
but we got back to land. I never went to a ship 
again, for the people said it was on account of me 
helping in the Preventive Service it happened, and 

Sea-Stories 19 

that if I'd hit at one of the gulls myself, there would 
have been a bad chance for us. But those were 
no right gulls, and the ship was no living ship. 

The Old Man in the Kitchen: 

It's in the middle island the most of them are, and 
I'll tell you a thing that I know of myself that 
happened not long ago. There was a young girl, 
and one evening she was missing, and they made 
search for her everywhere and they thought that 
she was drowned or that she had gone away with 
some man. And in the evening of the next day 
there was a boy out in a curragh, and as he passed 
by a rock that is out in the sea there was the girl 
on it, and he brought her off. And surely she could 
not go there by herself. I suppose she wasn't 
able to give much account of it, and now she's 
after going to America. {Note 6.) 

And in Aran there were three boys and their 
uncle went out to a ship they saw coming, to pilot 
her into the bay. But when they got to where she 
was, there was no ship, and a sea broke over the 
canoe, and they were drowned, all fine strong men. 
But a man they had with them that was no use or 
of no account, he came safe to land. And I know 
a man in this island saw curraghs and curraghs 
full of people about the island of a Sunday morning 
early, but I never saw them myself. And one 
Sunday morning in my time there were scores and 
scores lying their length by the sea on the sand 
below, and they saw a woman in the sea, up to her 

20 Visions and Beliefs 

waist, and she racking her hair and settling herself 
and as clean and as nice as if she was on land. 
Scores of them saw that. 

There's a house up there where the family have 
to leave a plate of potatoes ready every night, 
and all's gone in the morning. {Note 7.) 

They are said to have all things the same as 
ourselves under the sea, and one day a cow was 
seen swimming as if for the headland, but before 
she got to it she turned another way and went 
down. And one time I got a small muc-warra 
(porpoise) and I went to cut it up to get what was 
good of it, for it had about two inches of fat, and 
when I cut it open the heart and the liver and 
every bit of it were for all the world like a pig 
you would cut up on land. 

There's a house in the village close by this 
that's haunted. My sister was sitting near it one 
day, and it empty and locked, and some other little 
girls, and they heard a noise in it, and at the same 
time the flags they were sitting on grew red-hot, 
that they had to leave them. And another time 
the woman of the house was sick, and a little girl 
that was sitting by the fire in the kitchen saw 
standing in the door the sister of the woman that 
was sick, and she a good while dead, and she put 
up her arm, as if to tell her not to notice her. 
And the poor woman of that house, she had no luck, 
nothing but miscarriages or dead babies. And one 
child lived to be nine months old, and there was 
less flesh on it at the end of the nine months than 

Sea-Stories 21 

there was the day it was born. She has a little 
girl now that's near a year old, but her arm 
isn't the size of that, and she's crabbed and not 
like a child as she should be. Many a one that's 
long married without having a child goes to the 
fortune-teller in Galway, and those that think 
anything of themselves go to Roundstone. 

A Man near Loughmore: 

I know a woman was washed and laid out, 
and it went so far that two half-penny candles 
were burned over her. And then she sat up, came 
back again, and spoke- to her husband, ^nd told 
him how to divide his property, and to manage 
the children well. And her step-son began to 
question her, and he might have got a lot out of 
her but her own son stopped him and said to let 
her alone. And then she turned over on her side 
and died. She was not to say an old woman. 
It's not often the old are taken. What use would 
there be for them? But a woman to be taken 
young, you know there's demand for her. It's 
the people in the middle island know about these 
things. There were three boys from there lost in 
a curragh at the point near the lighthouse, and 
for long after their friends were tormented when 
they came there fishing, and they would see ships 
there when the people of this island that were out 
at the same time couldn't see them. There were 
three or four out in a curragh near the lighthouse, 
and a conger-eel came and upset it, and they were 

22 Visions and Beliefs 

all saved but one, but he was brought down and for 
the whole day they could hear him crying and 
screeching under the sea. And they were not the 
only ones, but a fisherman that was there from 
Galway had to go away and leave it, because of 
the screeching. 

There was a coast-guard's wife there was all but 
gone, but she was saved after. And there's a boy 
here now was for a long time that they'd give the 
world he was gone altogether, with the state he was 
in, and now he's as strong as any boy in the island ; 
and if ever any one was away and came back 
again, it was him. Children used often to be 
taken, but there's a great many charms in use in 
these days that saves them. A big sewing-needle 
you'll see the woman looking for to put with a 
baby, and as long as that's with it, it's safe. But 
anyway they're always put back again into the 
world before they die in the place of some young 
person. And even a beast of any consequence if 
anything happens to it, no one in the island would 
taste it; there might be something in it, some old 
woman or the like. 

There were a few young men from here were kept 
in Galway for a day, and they went to a woman 
there that works the cards. And she told them of 
deaths that would come in certain families. And it 
wasn't a fortnight after that five boys were out 
there, just where you see the curragh now, and they 
were upset and every one drowned, and they were 
of the families that she had named on the cards. 

Sea-Stories 23 

My uncle told me that one night they were all 
up at that house up the road, making a match for 
his sister, and they stopped till near morning, 
and when they went out, they all had a drop taken. 
And he was going along home with two or three 
others and one of them, Michael Flaherty, said 
he saw people on the shore. And another of 
them said that there were not, andjny uncle said, 
"If Flaherty said that and it not true, we have a 
right to bite the ear off him, and it would be no 
harm. " And then they parted, and my uncle had 
to pass by the beach, and then he saw whole com- 
panies of people coming up from the sea, that he 
didn't know how he'd get through them, but they 
opened before him and let him pass. 

There were men going to Galway with cattle one 
morning from the beach down there, and they 
saw a man up to his middle in the sea — all of 
them saw it. 

There was a man was down early for lobsters on 
the shore at the middle island, and he saw a horse 
up to its middle in the sea, and bowing its head 
down as if to drink. And after he had watched it 
awhile it disappeared. 

There was a woman walking over by the north 
shore — God have mercy on her — she's dead since — 
and she looked out and saw an island in the sea, 
and she was a long time looking at it. It's known 
to be there, and to be enchanted, but only few can 
see it. 

There was a man had his horse drawing sea- 

24 Visions and Beliefs 

weed up there on the rocks, the way you see them 
drawing it every day, in a basket on the mare's 
back. And on this day every time he put the load 
on, the mare would let its leg slip and it would come 
down again, and he was vexed and he had a stick 
in his hand and he gave the mare a heavy blow. 
And that night she had a foal that was dead, not 
come to its full growth, and it had spots over it, 
and every spot was of a different colour. And 
there was no sire on the island at that time, so 
whatever was the sire must have come up from 
the sea. {Note 8.) 

A Man Watching the Weed- gatherers: 
There's no doubt at all about the sea-horses. 
There was a man out at the other side of the island, 
and he saw one standing on the rocks and he threw 
a stone at it and it went off in the sea. He said 
it was grand to see it swimming, and the mane and 
the tail floating on the top of the water. 

A Woman from the Connemara Side: 
I was told there was a mare that had a foal, 
and it had never had a horse. And one day the 
mare and foal were down by the sea, and a horse 
put up its head and neighed, and away went the 
foal to it and came back no more. 

And there was a man on this island watched his 
field one night where he thought the neighbours' 
cattle were eating his grass, and what he saw was 

Sea-Stories 25 

horses and foals coming up from the sea. And he 
caught a foal and kept it, and set it racing, and no 
horse or no pony could ever come near it, till one 
day the race was on the strand, and away with 
it into the sea, and the jockey along with it, 
and they never were seen again. 

Mrs. O'Dea and Mrs. Daly: 

There was a cow seen come up out of the sea 
one day and it walked across the strand, and its 
udder like as if it had been lately milked. And 
Tommy Donohue was running up to tell his father 
to come down and see it, and when he looked 
back it was gone out to sea again. 

There was a man here was going to build a new 
house, and he brought a wise woman to see would 
it be in the right place. And she made five heaps 
of stones in five places, and said, "Whatever heap 
isn't knocked in the night, build it there. " And 
in the morning all the heaps were knocked but one, 
and so he built it there. (Note 9.) 

One time I was out over by that island with 
another man, and we saw three women standing 
by the shore, beating clothes with a beetle. And 
while we looked, they vanished, and then we 
heard the cry of a child passing over our heads 
twenty feet in the air. 

I know they go out fishing like ourselves, for 
Father Mahony told me so; and one night I was 
out myself with my brother, beyond where that 
ship is, and we heard talk going on, so we knew 

26 Visions and Beliefs 

that a boat was near, and we called out to let 
them know we heard them, and then we saw the 
boat and it was just like any other one, and the 
talk went on, but we couldn't understand what 
they were saying. And then I turned to light my 
pipe, and while I lighted it, the boat and all in it 
were gone. 

Mrs. Casey: 

I got a story from an old man down by the sea 
at Tyrone. He says there was a man went down 
one night to move his boat from the shore where it 
was to the pier. And when he had put out, he 
found it was going out to sea, instead of to touch 
the pier, and he felt it very heavy in the water, 
and he looked behind him and there on the back 
of the boat were six men in shiny black clothes 
like sailors, and there was one like a harvest-man 
dressed in white flannel with a belt round his 
waist. And he asked what they were doing, and 
the man in white said he had brought the others 
out to make away with them there, and he took 
and cut their bodies in two and threw them one by 
one over the boat, and then he threw himself after 
them into the sea. And the boat went under water 
too, and the poor man himself lost his wits, but 
it came up again and he said he had never seen as 
many people as he did in that minute under the 
water. And then he got home and left the boat, 
and in the morning he came down to it, and there 
was blood in it; and first he washed it and then 

Sea-Stories 27 

he painted it, but for all he could do, he couldn't 
get rid of the blood. 

Peter Donohue: 

There was a woman, a friend of this man's, living 
out in the middle island, and one day she came down 
to where a man of this island was putting out his 
curragh to come back, and she said, "I just saw 
a great crowd of them — that's the Sheogue — going 
over to your island like a cloud. " And when he 
got home he went up to a house there beyond, 
where the old woman used to be selling poteen on 
the sly. And while he was there her little boy 
came running in and cried, "Hide away the poteen, 
for the police are on the island ! Such a man called 
to me from his curragh to give warning, for he saw 
the road full of them with the crowd of them and 
they witrf their guns and cutlasses and all the rest. " 
But the man was in the house first knew well what 
it was, after what he heard from the woman on the 
other island, and that they were no right police, 
and sure enough no other one ever saw them. And 
that same day, my mother had put out wool to 
dry in front of where that house is with the three 
chimneys, near the Chapel. And I was there 
talking to some man, one on each side of the yard, 
and the wall between us. And the day was as 
fine as this day is and finer, and not a breath of air 
stirring. And a woman that lived near by had her 
wool out drying too. And the wool that was in 
my mother's yard began to rise up, as if something 

28 Visions and Beliefs 

was under it, and I called to the other man to 
help me to hold it down, but for all we could do it 
went up in the air, a hundred feet and more, till we 
could see it no more. And after a couple of hours 
it began to drop again, like snow, some on the thatch 
and some on the rocks and some in the gardens. 
And I think it was a fortnight before my mother 
had done gathering it. And one day she was 
spinning it, I don't know what put it in my mind, 
but I asked her did she lose much of that wool. 
And what she said was, " If I didn't get more than 
my own, I didn't get less." That's true and no 
lie, for I never told a lie in my life — I think. But 
the wool belonging to the neighbouring woman 
was never stirred at all. 

And the woman that had the wool that wasn't 
stirred, she is the woman I married after, and that's 
now my wife. 

There was a man, one Power, died in this island, 
and one night that was bright there was a friend 
of his going out for mackerel, and he saw these 
sands full of people hurling, and he well knew 
Power's voice that he heard among them. 

There was a cousin of my own built a new house, 
and when they were first in it and sitting round the 
fire, the woman of the house that was singing for 
them saw a great blot of blood come down the 
chimney on to the floor, and they thought there 
would be no luck in the house and that it was a 
wrong place. But they had nothing but good luck 
ever after. 

Sea-Stories 29 

Peter Dolan: 

There was a man that died in the middle island, 
that had two wives. And one day he was out in the 
curragh he saw the first wife appear. And after 
that one time the son of the second wife was sick, 
and the little girl, the first wife's daughter, was 
out tending cattle, and a can of water with her and 
she had a waistcoat of her father's put about her 
body, where it was cold. And her mother ap- 
peared to her in the form of a sheep, and spoke to 
her, and told her what herbs to find, to cure the 
step-brother, and sure enough they cured him. 
And she bid her leave the waistcoat there and the 
can, and she did. And in the morning the waist- 
coat was folded there, and the can standing on it. 
And she appeared to her in her own shape another 
time, after that. Why she came like a sheep the 
first time was that she wouldn't be frightened. 
The girl is in America now, and so is the step- 
brother that got well. {Note 10.) 

A Galway Woman: 

One time myself, I was up at the well beyond, 
and looking into it, a very fine day, and no breath 
of air stirring, and the stooks were ripe standing 
about me. And all in a minute a noise began in 
them, and they were like as if knocking at each 
other and fighting like soldiers all about me. 

Mary Moran : 

There was a girl here that had been to America 
and came back, and one day she was coming over 

30 Visions and Beliefs 

from Liscannor in a curragh, and she looked back 
and there behind the curragh was the " Gan ceann " 
the headless one. And he followed the boat a 
great way, but she said nothing. But a gold pin 
that was in her hair fell out, and into the sea, that 
she had brought from America, and then it dis- 
appeared. And her sister was always asking her 
where was the pin she brought from America, and 
she was afraid to say. But at last she told her, 
and the sister said, "It's well for you it fell out, 
for what was following you would never have left 
you, till you threw it a ring or something made of 
gold." It was the sister herself that told me 

Up in the village beyond they think a great deal 
of these things and they won't part with a drop of 
milk on May Eve, and last Saturday week that was 
May Eve there was a poor woman dying up there, 
and she had no milk of her own, and as is the cus- 
tom, she went out to get a drop from one or other 
of the neighbours. But not one would give it 
because it was May Eve. I declare I cried when I 
heard it, for the poor woman died on the second 
day after. 

And when my sister was going to America she 
went on the first of May and we had a farewell 
party the night before, and in the night a little 
girl that was there saw a woman from that village 
go out, and she watched her, and saw her walk 
round a neighbour's house, and pick some straw 
from the roof. 

Sea-Stories 31 

And she told of it, and it happened a child had 
died in that house and the father said the woman 
must have had a hand in it, and there was no good 
feeling to her for a long while. Her own husband 
is lying sick now, so I hear. 



vol. i.— 3 33 




IN talking to the people I often heard the name of 
* Biddy Early, and I began to gather many stories 
of her, some calling her a healer and some a witch. 
Some said she had died a long time ago, and some 
that she was still living. I was sure after a while 
that she was dead, but was told that her house was 
still standing, and was on the other side of Slieve 
Echtge, between Feakle and Tulla. So one day I 
set out and drove Shamrock, my pony, to a shooting 
lodge built by my grandfather in a fold of the moun- 
tains, and where I had sometimes, when a young girl, 
stayed with my brothers when they were shooting the 
wild deer that came and sheltered in the woods. It 
had like other places on our estate a border name 
brought over from Northumberland, but though we 
called it Chevy Chase the people spoke of its woods and 
outskirts as Daire-caol, the Narrow Oak Wood, 
and Daroda, the Two Roads, and Druim-da-Rod, 
their Ridge. I stayed the night in the low thatched 


36 Visions and Beliefs 

house t setting out next day for Feakle "eight strong 
miles over the mountain. " It was a wild road, and 
the pony had to splash his way through two unbridged 
rivers, swollen with the summer rains. The red 
mud of the road, the purple heather and foxglove, the 
brown bogs were a contrast to the grey rocks and walls 
of Burren and Aidhne, and there were many low hills 
brown when near, misty blue in the distance; then 
the Golden Mountain, Slieve nan-Or, "where the last 
great battle will be fought before the end of the world. " 
Then I was out of Connacht into Clare, the brown 
turning to green pasture as I drove by Raftery's 
Lough Greine. 

I put up my pony at a little inn. There were 
portraits of John Dillon and Michael Davitt hanging 
in the parlour, and the landlady told me ParnelVs 
likeness had been with them, until the priest had 
told her he didn't think well of her hanging it there. 
There was also on the wall, in a frame, a warrant for 
the arrest of one of her sons, signed by, I think, Lord 
Cowper, in the days of the Land War. "He got 
half a year in gaol the same year Parnell did. He 
got sick there, and though he lived for some years the 
doctor said when he died the illness he got in gaol 
had to do with his death. " 

/ had been told how to find Biddy Early's house 
"beyond the little humpy bridge," and I walked on 
till I came to it, a poor cottage enough, high up on 
a mass of rock by the roadside. There was only a 
little girl in the house, but her mother came in after- 
wards and told me that Biddy Early had died about 

Seers and Healers 37 

twenty years before, and that after they had come 
to live in the house they had been "annoyed for a 
while " by people coming to look for her. She had sent 
them away, telling them Biddy Early was dead, 
though a friendly priest had said to her, u Why didn't 
you let on you were her and make something out of 
them? " She told me some of the stories I give below, 
and showed me the shed where the healer had 
consulted with her invisible friends. I had al- 
ready been given by an old patient of hers a "bot- 
tle" prepared for the cure, but which she had been 
afraid to use. It lies still unopened on a shelf in 
my storeroom. When I got back at nightfall to 
the lodge in the woods I found many of the neigh- 
bours gathered there, wanting to hear news of "the 
Tulla Woman" and to know for certain if she was 
dead. I think as time goes on her fame will grow 
and some of the myths that always hang in the air 
will gather round her, for I think the first thing I 
was told of her was, "There used surely to be 
enchanters in the old time, magicians and free- 
masons. Old Biddy Early's power came from the 
same thing. " {Note 11.) 

An Old Woman in the Lodge Kitchen says: 
Do you remember the time John Kevin beyond 
went to see Biddy Early, for his wife, she was sick 
at the time. And Biddy Early knew everything, 
and that there was a forth behind her house, and 
she said, "Your wife is too fond of going out late 
at night. " 

/ was told by a Gate-keeper: 

There was a man at Cranagh had one of his 
sheep shorn in the night, and all the wool taken. 
And he got on his horse and went to Feakle and 
Biddy Early, and she told him the name of the 
man that did it, and where it was hidden, and so 
he got it back again. 

There was a man went to Biddy Early, and 
she told him that the woman he'd marry would 
have her husband killed by his brother. And so 
it happened, for the woman he married was sitting 
by the fire with her husband, and the brother came 
in, having a drop of drink taken, and threw a pint 
pot at him that hit him on the head and killed him. 
It was the man that married her that told me this. 

Mrs, Kearns: 

Did I know any one that was taken by them? 
Well, I never knew one that was brought back 


40 Visions and Beliefs 

again. Himself went one time to Biddy Early for 
his uncle, Donohue, that was sick, and he found 
her there and her fingers all covered with big gold 
rings, and she gave him a bottle, and she said: 
"Go in no house on your way home, or stop no- 
where, or you'll lose it." But going home he had 
a thirst on him and he came to a public-house, 
and he wouldn't go in, but he stopped and bid the 
boy bring him out a drink. But a little farther 
on the road the horse got a fall, and the bottle was 

Mrs. Cregan: 

It's I was with this woman here to Biddy Early. 
And when she saw me, she knew it was for my 
husband I came, and she looked in her bottle and 
she said, "It's nothing put upon him by my people 
that's wrong with him." And she bid me give 
him cold oranges and some other things — herbs. 
He got better after. 

Daniel Curtin: 

Did I ever hear of Biddy Early? There's not 
a man in this countryside over forty year old that 
hasn't been with her some time or other. There's 
a man living in that house over there was sick 
one time, and he went to her, and she cured him, 
but says she, "You'll have to lose something, and 
don't fret after it. " So he had a grey mare and 
she was going to foal, and one morning when he 
went out he saw that the foal was born, and was 

Seers and Healers 41 

lying dead by the side of the wall. So he re- 
membered what she said to him and he didn't 

There was one Dillane in Kinvara, Sir William 
knew him well, and he went to her one time for 
a cure. And Father Andrew came to the house 
and was mad with him for going, and says he, "You 
take the cure out of the hands of God. " And Mrs. 
Dillane said, "Your Reverence, none of us can do 
that." "Well," says Father Andrew, "then I'll 
see what the devil can do and I'll send my horse 
tomorrow, that has a sore in his leg this long time, 
and try will she be able to cure him. " 

So next day he sent a man with his horse, and 
when he got to Biddy Early's house she came out, 
and she told him every word that Father Andrew 
had said, and she cured the sore. So after that, 
he left the people alone; but before it, he'd be 
dressed in a frieze coat and a riding whip in his 
hand, driving away the people from going to 

She had four or five husbands, and they all 
died of drink one after another. Maybe twenty 
or thirty people would be there in the day looking 
for cures, and every one of them would bring a 
bottle of whiskey. Wild cards they all were, or 
they wouldn't have married her. She'd help too 
to bring the butter back. Always on the first of 
May, it used to be taken, and maybe what would 
be taken from one man would be conveyed to 

42 Visions and Beliefs 

Mr. McCabe: 

Biddy Early? Not far from this she lived, 
above at Feakle. I got cured by her myself one 
time. Look at this thumb — I got it hurted one 
time, and I went out into the field after and was 
ploughing all the day, I was that greedy for work. 
And when I went in I had to lie on the bed with the 
pain of it, and it swelled and the arm with it, to 
the size of a horse's thigh. I stopped two or 
three days in the bed with the pain of it, and then 
my wife went to see Biddy Early and told her 
about it, and she came home and the next day it 
burst, and you never seen anything like all the 
stuff that came away from it. A good bit after 
I went to her myself, where it wasn't quite healed, 
and she said, "You'd have lost it altogether if 
your wife hadn't been so quick to come." She 
brought me into a small room, and said holy words 
and sprinkled holy water and told me to believe. 
The priests were against her, but they were wrong. 
How could that be evil doing that was all charity 
and kindness and healing? 

She was a decent looking woman, no different 
from any other woman of the country. The boy 
she was married to at the time was lying drunk in 
the bed. There were side-cars and common cars 
and gentry and country people at the door, just 
like Gort market, and dinner for all that came, 
and everyone would bring her something, but she 
didn't care what it was. Rich farmers would 
bring her the whole side of a pig. Myself, I 

Seers and Healers 43 

brought a bottle of whiskey and a shilling's worth 
of bread, and a quarter of sugar and a quarter 
pound of tea. She was very rich, for there wasn't 
a farmer but would give her the grass of a couple 
of bullocks or a filly. She had the full of a field 
of fillies if they'd all been gathered together. She 
left no children, and there's no doubt at all that 
the reason of her being able to do cures was that 
she was away seven years. She didn't tell me 
about it but she spoke of it to others. 

When I was coming away I met a party of 
country people on a cart from Limerick, and they 
asked where was her house, and I told them: "Go 
on to the cross, and turn to the left, and follow 
the straight road till you come to the little humpy 
bridge, and soon after that you'll come to the 
house. " 

But the priests would be mad if they knew that 
I told any one the way. 

She died about twelve year ago; I didn't go to 
the wake myself, or the funeral, but I heard that 
her death was natural. 

No, Mrs. Early is no relation to Biddy Early — 
the nuns asked her the same thing when she was 
married. A cousin of hers had her hand cut with 
a jug that was broke, and she went up to her and 
when she got there, Biddy Early said: "It's a 
thing you never should do, to beat a child that 
breaks a cup or a jug. " And sure enough it was a 
child that broke it, and she beat her for doing it. 
But cures she did sure enough. 

44 Visions and Beliefs 

Bartley Coen: 

There was a neighbour of my own, Andrew 
Dennehy : 

I was knocked up by him one night to go to the 
house, because he said they were calling to him. 
But when they got there, there was nothing to be 
found. But some see these things, and some can't. 
It's against our creed to believe in them. And the 
priests won't let on that they believe in them 
themselves, but they are more in dread of going 
about at night than any of us. They were against 
Biddy Early too. There was a man I knew living 
near the sea, and he set out to go to her one time. 
And on his way he went into his brother-in-law's 
house, and the priest came in there, and bid him 
not to go on. "Well, Father," says he, "cure 
me yourself if you won't let me go to her to be 
cured." And when the priest wouldn't do that 
(for the priests can do many cures if they like to), 
he went on to her. And the minute he came in, 
"Well, " says she, "you made a great fight for me 
on the way." For though it's against our creed 
to believe it, she could hear any earthly thing that 
was said in every part, miles off. But she had 
two red eyes, and some used to say, "If she 
can cure so much, why can't she cure her own 

No, she wasn't away herself. It is said it was 
from a son of her own she got the knowledge, a 
little chap that was astray. And one day when 
he was lying sick in the bed he said: "There's 

Seers and Healers 45 

such and such a woman has a hen down in the pot, 
and if I had the soup of the hen, I think it would 
cure me." So the mother went to the house, and 
when she got there, sure enough, there was a hen 
in the pot on the fire. But she was ashamed to 
tell what she came for, and she let on to have 
only come for a visit, and so she sat down. But 
presently in the heat of the talking she told what 
the little chap had said. "Well," says the woman, 
"take the soup and welcome, and the hen too if it 
will do him any good." So she brought them with 
her, and when the boy saw the soup, "It can't 
cure me," says he, "for no earthly thing can do 
that. But since I see how kind and how willing 
you are, and did your best for me, I'll leave you a 
way of living. " And so he did, and taught her all 
she knew. That's what's said at any rate. 

Mr. Fahy: 

Well, that's what's believed, that it's from her 
son Biddy Early got it. After his death always 
lamenting for him she was, till he came back, and 
gave her the gift of curing. 

She had no red eyes, but was a fresh clean- 
looking woman ; sure any one might have red eyes 
when they'd got a cold. 

She wouldn't refuse even a person that would 
come from the very bottom of the black North. 

"I was with Biddy Early myself one time, and 
got a cure from her for my little girl that was sick. 

46 Visions and Beliefs 

A bottle of whiskey I brought her, and the first 
thing she did was to open it and to give me a glass 
out of it. "For, " says she, "you'll maybe want it 
my poor man." But I had plenty of courage in 
those days. 

The priests were against her; often Father Boyle 
would speak of her in his sermons. They can all 
do those cures themselves, but that's a thing it's 
not right to be talking about. 

The Little Girl of Biddy Early's House: 

The people do be full of stories of all the cures 
she did. Once after we came to live here a car- 
load of people came, and asked was Biddy Early 
here, and my mother said she was dead. When 
she told the priest he said she had a right to shake 
a bottle and say she was her, and get something 
from them. It was by the bottle she did all, to 
shake it, and she'd see everything when she looked 
in it. Sometimes she'd give a bottle of some cure 
to people that came, but if she'd say to them, 
"You'll never bring it home, " break it they should 
on the way home, with all the care they'd take of it. 

She was as good, and better, to the poor as to the 
rich. Any poor person passing the road, she'd 
call in and give a cup of tea or a glass of whiskey 
to, and bread and what they wanted. 

She had a big chest within in that room, and it 
full of pounds of tea and bottles of wine and of 
whiskey and of claret, and all things in the world. 
One time she called in a man that was passing 

Seers and Healers 47 

and gave him a glass of whiskey, and then she 
said to him, "The road you were going home by, 
don't go by it." So he asked why not, and she 
took the bottle — a long shaped bottle it was — and 
looked into it, holding it up, and then she bid him 
look through it, and he'd see what would happen 
him. But her husband said, "Don't show it to 
him, it might give him a fright he wouldn't get 
over." So she only said, "Well, go home by 
another road. " And so he did and got home safe, 
for in the bottle she had seen a party of men that 
wouldn't have let him pass alive. She got the 
rites of the Church when she died, but first she 
had to break the bottle. 

It was from her brother that she got the power, 
when she had to go to the workhouse, and he came 
back, and gave her the way of doing the cures. 

The Blacksmith I met near Tulla: 

I know you to be a respectable lady and an hon- 
ourable one because I know your brothers, meeting 
them as I do at the fair of Scariff. No fair it 
would be if they weren't there. I knew Biddy 
Early well, a nice fresh-looking woman she was. 
It's to her the people used to be flocking, to the door 
and even to the window, and if they'd come late 
in the day, they'd have no chance of getting to 
her, they'd have to take lodgings for the night in 
the town. She was a great woman. If any of the 
men that came into the house had a drop too much 
drink taken, she'd turn them out if they said an 

48 Visions and Beliefs 

unruly word. And if any of them were fighting 
or disputing or going to law, she'd say, M Be at one, 
and ye can rule the world." The priests were 
against her and used to be taking the cloaks and 
the baskets from the country people to keep them 
back from going to her. 

I never went to her myself — for you should know 
that no ill or harm ever comes to a blacksmith. 

An Old Midwife : 

Tell me now is there anything wrong about 
you or your son that you went to that house? I 
went there but once myself, when my little girl 
that was married was bad, after her second baby 
being born. I went to the house and told her 
about it, and she took the bottle and shook it and 
looked in it, and then she turned and said some- 
thing to himself [her husband] that I didn't hear — 
and she just waved her hand to me like that, and 
bid me go home, for she would take nothing from 
me. But himself came out and told that what 
she was after seeing in the bottle was my little 
girl, and the coffin standing beside her. So I 
went home, and sure enough on the tenth day 
after, she was dead. 

The lodge people came rushing out to see the pic- 
ture of Biddy Early's house and ask, "Did she 
leave the power to any one else? 11 and I told of the 
broken bottle. But Mr. McCabe said, "She only 

Seers and Healers 49 

had the power for her own term, and no one else 
could get it from her." 

I asked old Mr. McCabe if he had lost anything 
when she cured him, and he said: "Not at that time, 
but sometimes I thought afterwards it came on my 
family when I lost so many of my children. A grand 
stout girl went from me, stout and broad, what would 
ail her to go?" 

I was told by Mat King: 

Biddy Early surely did thousands of cures. Out 
in the stable she used to go, where her friends met 
her, and they told her all things. There was a 
little priest long ago used to do cures, — Soggarthin 
Mina, they used to call him, — and once he came 
in this house he looked up and said, "There — it's 
full of them — there they are." 

There was a man, one Flaherty, came to his 
brother-in-law's house one day to borrow a horse. 
And the next day the horse was sent back, but he 
didn't come himself. And after a few days more 
they went to ask for him, but he had never come 
back at all. So the brother-in-law went to Biddy 
Early's and she and some others were drinking 
whiskey, and they were sorry that they were near 
at the bottom of the bottle. And she said : ' ' That's 
no matter, there's a man on his way now, there'll 
soon be more." And sure enough there was, for 
he brought a bottle with him. So when he came in, 

VOL. 1—4 

So Visions and Beliefs 

he told her about Flaherty having disappeared. 
And she described to him a corner of a garden at 
the back of a house and she said, ' ' Go look and 
you'll find him there, " and so they did, dead and 

Another time a man's cattle was dying, and he 
went to her and she said, "Is there such a place as 
Benburb, having a forth up on the hill beyond 
there? for it's there they're gone." And sure 
enough, it was towards that forth they were 
straying before they died. 

An Old Man on the Beach: 

The priests were greatly against Biddy Early. 
And there's no doubt it was from the faeries she 
got the knowledge. But who wouldn't go to hell 
for a cure if one of his own was sick? And the 
priests don't like to be doing cures themselves. 
Father Flynn said to me (rather incoherent in the 
high wind), if I do them, I let the devil into me. 
But there was Father Carey used to do them, but 
he went wrong, with the people bringing too much 
whiskey to pay him — and Father Mahony has him 
stopped now. 

Maher of Slieve Echtge: 

I knew a man went to Biddy Early, and while 
she was in the other room he made the tongs red 
hot and laid them down, and when she came back 
she took them up and burned herself. And he 
said, if she had known anything she'd have known 

Seers and Healers 51 

not to touch it, that it was red hot. So he walked 
off and asked for no cure. 

The Spinning-Woman: 

Biddy Early was a witch, wherever she got it. 
There was a priest at Feakle spoke against her 
one time, and soon after he was passing near her 
house and she put something on the horse so that 
he made a bolt into the river and stopped there 
in the middle, and wouldn't go back or forward. 
Some people from the neighbourhood went to her, 
and she told them all about the whole place, and 
that one time there was a great battle about the 
castle, and that there is a passage going from here 
to the forth beyond on Dromore Hill, and to 
another place that's near Maher's house. And 
she said that there is a cure for all sicknesses 
hidden between the two wheels of Bally lee mill. 
And how did she know that there was a mill here 
at all? Witchcraft wherever she got it; away she 
may have been in a trance. She had a son, and 
one time he went to the hurling beyond at some 
place in Tipperary, and none could stand against 
him; he was like a deer. 

I went to Biddy Early one time myself, about 
my little boy that's now in America that was lying 
sick in the house. But on the way to her I met 
a sergeant of police and he asked where was I 
going, and when I told him, he said, to joke with 
me, "Biddy Early's dead." "May the devil 

52 Visions and Beliefs 

die with her," says I. Well, when I got to the 
house, what do you think, if she didn't know that, 
and what I said. And she was vexed and at the 
first, she would do nothing for me. I had a pound 
for her here in my bosom. But when I held it 
out she wouldn't take it, but she turned the rings 
on her fingers, for she had a ring for every one, and 
she said, "A shilling for this one, sixpence for 
another one." But all she told me was that the 
boy was nervous, and so he was, she was right in 
that, and that he'd get well, and so he did. 

There was a man beyond in Cloon, was walking 
near the gate the same day and his little boy with 
him, and he turned his foot and hurt it, and she 
knew that. She told me she slept in Ballylee mill 
last night, and that there was a cure for all things 
in the world between the two wheels there. Surely 
she was away herself, and as to her son, she brought 
him back with her, and for eight or nine year he 
lay in the bed in the house. And he'd never stir 
so long as she was in it, but no sooner was she gone 
away anywhere than he'd be out down the village 
among the people, and then back again before she'd 
get to the house. 

She had three husbands, I saw one of them when 
I was there, but I knew by the look of him he 
wouldn't live long. One man I know went to her 
and she sent him on to a woman at Kilrush — one 
of her own sort, and they helped one another. 
She said to some woman I knew: "If you have a 
bowl broke or a plate throw it out of the door, and 

Seers and Healers 53 

don't make any attempt to mend it, it vexes 
them, 11 

Mrs. McDonagh: 

Our religion doesn't allow us to go to fortune 
tellers. They don't get the knowledge from God, 
and so it must be from demons. 

The priests took the bottle from Biddy Early 
before she died, and they found black things in it. 

I never went to Biddy Early myself. I think 
there was a good deal of devilment in the things 
she did. The priests can do cures as well as she 
did, but they don't like to do them, unless they're 
curates that like to get the money. 

There was a man in Cloughareeva and his wife 
was that bad she would go out in her shift at 
night into the field. And he went to Biddy Early 
and she said, "Within three days a disgraced priest 
will come to you and will cure her. " 

And after three days the disgraced priest that 
had been put out for drink came bowling into the 
house, and they reached down from the shelf a 
bottle of whiskey. Father Boyle was mad when 
he heard of it, but he cured her all the same. 

There was a man on this estate, and he sixty 
years, and he took to the bed, and his wife went to 
Biddy Early and she said, "It can't be by them 
he's taken, what use would it be to them, he being 

54 Visions and Beliefs 

so old. " And Biddy Early is the one that should 
surely know. I went to her myself one time, to 
get a cure for myself when I fell coming down that 
hill up there, and got a hurt on my knee. And 
she gave me one and she told me all about the 
whole place, and that there was a bowl broken in 
the house, and so there was. The priests can do 
cures by the same power that she had, but those 
that have much stock don't like to be doing them, 
for they're sure to lose all. 

I knew one went to Biddy Early about his wife, 
and as soon as she saw him, she said, "On the 
fourth day a discarded priest will call in and cure 
your wife " ; and so he did — one Father James. 

Mrs. Nelly: 

The old man here that lost his hair went to 
Biddy Early but he didn't want to go, and we 
forced him and persuaded him. And when he got 
to the house she said, "It wasn't of your own free 
will you came here," and she wouldn't do anything 
for him. 

She didn't like either for you to go too late. 
Dolan's sister was sick a long time, and when the 
brother went at the last to Biddy Early she gave 
him a bottle with a cure. But on the way home 
the bottle was broke, and the car, and the horse 
got a fright and ran away. She said to him then, 
"Why did you go to cut down the bush of white 
thorn you see out of the window?" And then she 

Seers and Healers 55 

told him an old woman in the village had over- 
looked him — Murphy's sister — and she gave him 
a bottle to sprinkle about her house. I suppose 
she didn't like that bush being interfered with, 
she had too much charms. 

And when Doctor Folan was sent for to see her 
he was led astray, and it is beyond Ballylee he 
found himself. And surely she was taken if ever 
any one was. 

An Old Woman: 

I went up to Biddy Early's one time with 
another woman. A fine stout woman she was, 
sitting straight up on her chair. She looked at 
me and she told me that my son was worse than 
what I was, and for myself she bid me to take what 
I was taking before, and that's dandelions. Five 
leaves she bid me pick and lay them out on the 
table with three pinches of salt on the three middle 
ones. As to my son, she gave me a bottle for him 
but he wouldn't take it and he got better without. 

The priests were against her, but there was one 
of them passed near her house one day, and his 
horse fell forward. And he sent his boy to her and 
she said, "Tell him to spit on the horse and to say, 
1 God bless it,' " and he did and it rose again. He 
had looked at it proud-like without saying "God 
bless it" in his heart. 

Daniel Shea: 

It was all you could do to get to Biddy Early 

56 Visions and Beliefs 

with your skin whole, the priests were so set 
against her. I went to her one time myself, and 
it was hard when you got near to know the way, 
for all the people were afraid to tell it. 

It was about a little chap of my own I went, that 
some strange thing had been put upon. When 
I got to her house there were about fifty to be 
attended to before me, and when my turn came 
she looked in the bottle, a sort of a common green- 
ish one that seemed to have nothing in it. And 
she told me where I came from, and the shape of 
the house and the appearance of it, and of the 
lake you see there, and everything round about. 
And she told me of a lime-kiln that was near, and 
then she said, "The harm that came to him came 
from the forth beyond that." And I never knew 
of there being a forth there, but after I came home 
I went to look, and there sure enough it was. 

And she told me how it had come on him, and 
bid me remember a day that a certain gentleman 
stopped and spoke to me when I was out working 
in the hayfield, and the child with me playing 
about. And I remembered it well, it was old 
James Hill of Creen, that was riding past, and 
stopped and talked and was praising the child. 
And it was close by that forth beyond that James 
Hill was born. 

It was soon after that day that the mother and 
I went to Loughrea, and when we came back, the 
child had slipped on the threshold of the house and 
got a fall, and he was screeching and calling out 

Seers and Healers 57 

that his knee was hurt, and from that time he did 
no good, and pined away and had the pain in the 
knee always. 

And Biddy Early said, "While you're talking 
to me now the child lies dying," and that was at 
twelve o'clock in the day. And she made up a 
bottle for me, herbs I believe it was made of, and 
she said, "Take care of it going home, and what- 
ever may happen, don't drop it " ; and she wrapped 
it in all the folds of my handkerchief. So when I was 
coming home and got near Tillyra I heard voices 
over the wall talking, and when I got to the Rox- 
borough gate there were many people talking and 
coming to where we were. I could hear them and 
see them, and the man that was with me. But when 
I heard them I remembered what she said, and I 
took the bottle in my two hands and held it, and 
so I brought it home safely. And when I got 
home they told me the child was worse, and that 
at twelve o'clock the day before he lay as they 
thought dying. And when I brought the bottle 
to him, he pulled the bed-clothes up over his head, 
and we had the work of the world to make him 
taste it. But from the time he took it, the pain 
in the knee left him and he began to get better, 
and Biddy Early had told me not to let many days 
pass without coming to her again, when she gave 
me the bottle. But seeing him so well, I thought 
it no use to go again, and it was not on May Day, 
but it was during the month of May he died. He 
took to the bed before that, and he'd be always 

58 Visions and Beliefs 

calling to me to come inside the bed where he was, 
and if I went in, he'd hardly let me go. But I got 
afraid, and I didn't like to be too much with him. 

He was but eight years old when he died, but 
Ned Cahel that used to live beyond there then 
told me privately that when I'd be out of the house 
and he'd come in, the little chap would ask for the 
pipe, and take it and smoke it, but he'd never let 
me see him doing it. And he was old-fashioned 
in all his ways. 

Another thing Biddy Early told me to do was to 
go out before sunrise to where there'd be a bound- 
ary wall between two or three estates, and to bring 
a bottle, and lay it in the grass and gather the dew 
into it. But there were hundreds of people she 
turned away, because she'd say, "What's wrong 
with you has nothing to do with my business. " 

There was a Clare woman with me when I went 
there, and she told me there was a boy from a 
village near her was brought tied in a cart to Biddy 
Early, and she said, "If I cure you, will you be 
willing to marry me?" And he said he would. 
So she cured him and married him. I saw him 
there at her house. It might be that she had the 
illness put upon him first. 

The priests don't do cures by the same means, 
and they don't like to do them at all. It was in my 
house that you see that Father Gregan did one on 
Mr. Phayre. And he cured a girl up in the moun- 
tains after, and where is he now but in a mad- 
house. They are afraid of the power they do them 

Seers and Healers 59 

by, that it will be too strong for them. Some say 
the bishops don't like them to do cures because 
the whiskey they drink to give them courage before 
they do them is very apt to make drunkards of 
them. It's not out of the prayer-book they read, 
but out of the Roman ritual, and that's a book you 
can read evil out of as well as good. 

There was a boy of the Saggartons in the house 
went to Biddy Early and she told him the house 
of his bachelor [the girl he would marry] and he 
did marry her after. And she cured him of a 
weakness he had and cured many, but it was sel- 
dom the bottle she'd give could be brought home 
without being spilled. I wonder did she go to 
them when she died. She got the cure among them 

Mrs. Dillon: 

My mother got crippled in her bed one night — 
God save the hearers — and it was a long time 
before she could walk again with the pain in her 
back. And my father was always telling her to go 
to Biddy Early, and so at last she went. But 
she could do nothing for her, for she said, "What 
ails you has nothing to do with my business." 
And she said, "You have lost three, and one was a 
grand little fair-haired one, and if you'd like to 
see her again, I'll show her to you." And when 
she said that, my mother had no courage to look 
and to see the child she lost, but fainted then and 

60 Visions and Beliefs 

there. And then she said, "There's a field of corn 
beyond your house and a field with hay, and it's 
not long since that the little fellow that wears a 
Llanberis cap fell asleep there on a cock of hay. 
And before the stooks of corn are in stacks he'll 
be taken from you, but I'll save him if I can." 
And it was true enough what she said, my little 
brother that was wearing a Llanberis cap had gone 
to the field, and had fallen asleep on the hay a few 
days before. But no harm happened him, and 
he's all the brother I have living now. Out in the 
stable she used to go to meet her people. 

Mrs. Locke: 

It was my son was thatching Heniff's house 
when he got the touch, and he came back with a 
pain in his back and in his shoulders, and took to 
the bed. And a few nights after that I was asleep, 
and the little girl came and woke me and said, 
"There's none of us can sleep, with all the cars 
and carriages rattling round the house." But 
though I woke and heard her say that, I fell 
into a sound sleep again and never woke till morn- 
ing. And one night there came two taps at the 
window, one after another, and we all heard it 
and no one there. And at last I sent the eldest 
boy to Biddy Early and he found her in the house. 
She was then married to her fourth man. And she 
said he came a day too soon and would do nothing 
for him. And he had to walk away in the rain. 
And the next day he went back and she said, 

Seers and Healers 61 

"Three days later and you'd have been too late." 
And she gave him two bottles, the one he was to 
bring to a boundary water and to fill it up, and 
that was to be rubbed to the back, and the other 
was to drink. And the minute he got them he be- 
gan to get well, and he left the bed and could walk, 
but he was always delicate. When we rubbed 
his back we saw a black mark, like the bite of a 
dog, and as to his face, it was as white as a sheet. 
I have the bottle here yet, though it's thirty 
year ago I got it. She bid the boy to bring what- 
ever was left of it to a river, and to pour it away 
with the running water. But when he got well I 
did nothing with it, and said nothing about it — 
and here it is now for you to see. I never let on 
to Father Folan that I went to her, but one time 
the Bishop came, Maclnerny. I knew he was a 
rough man, and I went to him and made my 
confession, and I said, " Do what you like with me, 
but I'd walk the world for my son when he was 
sick." And all he said was, "It would have been 
no wonder if the two feet had been cut off from 
the messenger." And he said no more and put 
nothing on me. 

There was a boy I saw went to Biddy Early, 
and she gave him a bottle and told him to mind 
he did not lose it in the crossing of some road. 
And when he came to the place it was broke. 

Often I heard of Biddy Early, and I knew of a 

62 Visions and Beliefs 

little girl was sick and the brother went to Biddy 
Early to ask would she get well. And she said, 
"They have a place ready for her, room for her 
they have." So he knew she would die, and so 
she did. 

The priests can do things too, the same way as 
she could, for there was one Mr. Lyne was dying, 
a Protestant, and the priest went in and baptized 
him a Catholic before he died, and he said to the 
people after, "He's all right now, in another world." 
And it was more than the baptizing made him sure 
of that. 

Mrs. Brennan, in the house beyond, went one 
time to Biddy Early, where the old man was los- 
ing his health. And all she told him was to bid 
him give over drinking so much whiskey. So 
after she said that, he used only to be drinking gin. 

There was a boy went to Biddy Early for his 
father, and she said, "It's not any of my business 
that's on him, but it's good for yourself that you 
came to me. Weren' t you sowing potatoes in such a 
field one day and didn't you find a bottle of whis- 
key, and bring it away and drink what was in it?" 
And that was true and it must have been a bottle 
they brought out of some cellar and dropped there, 
for they can bring everything away, and put in its 
place what will look like it. 

There was a boy near Feakle got the touch in 

Seers and Healers 63 

three places, and he got a great desire to go out 
night-walking, and he got sick. And they asked 
Biddy Early and she said, " Watch the hens when 
they come in to roost at night, and catch a hold 
of the last one that comes." So the mother 
caught it, and then she thought she'd like to see 
what would Biddy Early do with it. So she 
brought it up to her house and laid it on the floor, 
and it began to rustle its wings, and it lay over 
and died. It was from her brother Biddy Early 
got the cure. He was sick a long time, and there 
was a whitethorn tree out in the field, and he'd 
go and lie under it for shade from the sun. And 
after he died, every day for a year she'd go to the 
whitethorn tree, and it is there she'd cry her fill. 
And then he brought her under and gave her the 
cure. It was after that she was in service beyond 
Kinvara. She did her first cure on a boy, after 
the doctors giving him up. 

An Old Man from Kinvara: 

My wife is paralysed these thirty-six years, 
and the neighbours said she'd get well if the child 
died, for she got it after her confinement, all in a 
minute. But the child died in a year and eleven 
months, and she got no better. And then they 
said she'd get taken after twenty-one years, but 
that passed, and she's just the same way. And 
she's as good a Christian as any all the time. 

I went to Biddy Early one time about her. She 
was a very old woman, all shaky, and the crankiest 

64 Visions and Beliefs 

woman I ever saw. And the husband was a fine 
young man, and he lying in the bed. It was a 
man from Kinvara half -paralysed I brought with 
me, and she would do nothing for him at first, and 
then the husband bid her do what she could. So 
she took the bottle and shook it and looked in it, 
and she said what was in him was none of her 
business. And I had work to get him a lodging 
that night in Feakle, for the priests had all the 
people warned against letting any one in that had 
been to her. She wouldn't take the whiskey I 
brought, but the husband and myself, we opened 
it and drank it between us. 

She gave me a bottle for my wife, but when I got 
to the workhouse, where I had to put her in the 
hospital, they wouldn't let me through the gate 
for they heard where I had been. So I had to hide 
the bottle for a night by a wall, on the grass, and 
I sent my brother's wife to find it, and to bring it 
to her in the morning into the workhouse. But 
it did her no good, and Biddy Early told her after 
it was because I didn't bring it straight to her, 
but had left it on the ground for the night. 

Biddy Early beat all women. No one could 
touch her. I knew a girl, a friend of my own, at 
Burren and she was sick a long while and the doc- 
tors could do nothing for her, and the priests read 
over her but they could do nothing. And at last 
the husband went to Biddy Early and she said, 
11 1 can't cure her, and the woman that can cure her 

Seers and Healers 65 

lives in the village with her." So he went home 
and told this and the women of the village came 
into the house and said, "God bless her," all ex- 
cept one, and nothing would make her come into 
the house. But they watched her, and one night 
when a lot of them were sitting round the fire 
smoking, she let a spit fall on the floor. So they 
gathered that up (with respects to you), and 
brought it in to the sick woman and rubbed it to 
her, and she got well. It might have done as well 
if they brought a bit of her petticoat and burned 
it and rubbed the ashes on her. But there's some- 
thing strange about spits, and if you spit on a 
child or a beast it's as good as if you'd say, "God 
bless it." 

John Curtin: 

I was with Biddy Early one time for my brother. 
She was out away in Ennis when we got to the 
house, and her husband that she called Tommy. 
And the kitchen was full of people waiting for her 
to come in. So then she came, and the day was 
rainy, and she was wet, and she went over to the 
fire, and began to take off her clothes, and to dry 
them, and then she said to her husband: "Tommy, 
get the bottle and give them all a drop. " So he 
got the bottle and gave a drink to everyone. But 
my brother was in behind the door, and he missed 
him and when he came back to the fire she said: 
41 You have missed out the man that has the best 
heart of them all, and there he is behind the door. " 

VOL. I. — S 

66 Visions and Beliefs 

And when my brother came out she said, " Give us 
a verse of a song," and he said, " I'm no songster," 
but she said, "I know well that you are, and a good 
dancer as well. " She cured him and his wife after. 
There was a neighbour of mine went to her too, 
and she said : ' ' The first time you got the touch was 
the day you had brought a cart of turf from that 
bog at Ballinabucky to Scahanagh. And when 
you were in the road you got it, and you had to lie 
down on the creel of turf till you got to the public 
road." And she told him that he had a pane of 
glass broke in his window and that was true enough. 
She must have been away walking with the faeries 
every night or how did she know that, or where the 
village of Scahanagh was? 

Mrs. Kenny has been twice to Biddy Early. 
Once for her brother who was ill, and light-headed 
and sent to Galway. And Biddy Early shook the 
bottle twice, and she said, "It is none of my busi- 
ness, and it's a heavy cold that settled in his head. " 
And she would not take the shilling. A red, red 
woman she was. 

Mary Glyn: 

I am a Clare woman, but the last fifty years I 
spent in Connacht. Near Feakle I lived, but I 
only saw Biddy Early once, the time she was 
brought to the committee and to the courthouse. 
She lived in a little house near Feakle that time, 
and her landlord was Dr. Murphy in Limerick, 

Seers and Healers 67 

and he sent men to evict her and to pull the house 
down, and she held them in the door and said: 
11 Whoever will be the first to put a bar to the house, 
he'll remember it." And then a man put his 
bar in between two stones, and if he did, he turned 
and got a fall someway and he broke the thigh. 
After that Dr. Murphy brought her to the court, 
"Faeries and all," he said, for he brought the 
bottle along with her. So she was put out, but 
Murphy had cause to remember it, for he was liv- 
ing in a house by himself, and one night it caught 
fire and was burned down, and all that was left of 
him was one foot that was found in a corner of the 
walls. She had four husbands, and the priest 
wouldn't marry her to the last one, and it was by 
the teacher that she was married. She was a 
good-looking woman, but like another, the day I 
saw her. My husband went to her the time 
Johnny, my little boy, was dying. He had a great 
pain in his temple, and she said: "He has enough 
in him to kill a hundred ; but if he lives till Monday, 
come and tell me. " But he was dead before that. 
And she said, "If you came to me before this, 
I'd not have let you stop in that house you're in. " 
But Johnny died; and there was a blush over his 
face when he was going, and after that I couldn't 
look at him, but those that saw him said that he 
wasn't in it. I never saw him since, but often and 
often the father would go out thinking he might see 
him. But I know well he wouldn't like to come 
back and to see me fretting for him. 

68 Visions and Beliefs 

We left the house after that and came here. A 
travelling woman that came in to see me one time 
in that house said, "This is a fine airy house, " and 
she said that three times, and then she said, " But 
in that corner of it you'll lose your son," and so 
it happened, and I wish now that I had minded 
what she said. A man and his family went into 
that house after, and the first summer they were in 
it, he and his sons were putting up a stack of hay 
in the field with pitchforks, and the pitchfork in 
his hand turned some way into his stomach and 
he died. 

It is Biddy Early had the great name, but the 
priests were against her. There went a priest one 
time to stop her, and when he came near the door 
the horse fell that was in his car. Biddy Early 
came out then and bid him to give three spits on 
the horse, and he did that, and it rose up then and 
there. It was himself had put the evil eye on 
it. "It was yourself did it, you bodach," she 
said to the priest. And he said, "You may do 
what you like from this out, and I will not meddle 
with you again. " 

Mrs. Crone: 

I was myself digging potatoes out in that field 
beyond, and a woman passed by the road, but I 
heard her say nothing, but a pain came on my 
head and I fell down, and I had to go to my bed 
for three weeks. My mother went then to Biddy 

Seers and Healers 69 

Early. Did you ever hear of her? And she looked 
in the blue bottle she had, and she said my name. 
And she saw me standing before her, and knew all 
about me and said, "Your daughter was digging 
potatoes with her husband in the field, and a 
woman passed by and she said, ' It is as good her- 
self is with a spade as the man,' " for I was a young 
woman at the time. She gave my mother a bottle 
for me, and I took three drinks of it in the bed, 
and then I got up as well as I was before. 

Peter Feeney: 

Biddy Early said to a man that I met in 
America and that went to her one time, that this 
place between Finevara and Aughanish is the most 
haunted place in all Ireland. 

Surely Biddy Early was away herself. That's 
what I always heard. And I hear that at a hurling 
near Feakle the other day there was a small little 
man, and they say he was a friend of hers and has 
got her gift. 


MRS. SHERIDAN, as I call her, was wrinkled 
and half blind, and had gone barefoot through 
her lifetime. She was old, for she had once met Raf- 
tery, the Gaelic poet, at a dance, and he died before the 
famine of '47. She must have been comely then, for he 
had said to her: " Well planed you are; the carpenter 
that planed you knew his trade "; and she was ready of 
reply and answered him back, "Better than you know 
yours, " for his fiddle had two or three broken strings. 
And then he had spoken of a neighbour in some way 
that vexed her father, and he would let him speak no 
more with her. And she had carried a regret for this 
through her long life, for she said: "If it wasn't for 
him speaking as he did, and my father getting vexed, 
he might have made words about me like he did for 
Mary Hynes and for Mary Brown. 11 She had 
never been to school she told me, because her father 
could not pay the penny a week it would have cost. 
She had never travelled many miles from the parish 
of her birth, and I am sure had never seen pictures 
except the sacred ones on chapel walls; and yet she 
could tell of a Cromwellian castle built up and of a 
drawbridge and of long-faced, fair-haired women, and 
of the yet earlier round house and saffron dress of 


Seers and Healers 71 

the heroic times, I do not know whether by direct 
vision, or whether as Myers wrote: "It may even be 
that a World-soul is personally conscious of all its 
past, and that individual souls, as they enter into 
deeper consciousness enter into something which is at 
once reminiscence and actuality. . . . Past jacts 
were known to men on earth, not from memory only 
but by written record; and these may be records, of 
what kind we know not, which persist in the spiritual 
world. Our retrocognitions seem often a recovery of 
isolated fragments of thought and feeling, pebbles 
still hard and rounded amid the indecipherable sands 
over which the mighty waters are * rolling evermore.' " 

She had never heard of the great mystic Jacob 
Behmen, and yet when an unearthly visitor told her the 
country of youth is not far from the place where we 
live, she had come near to his root idea that "the 
world standeth in Heaven and Heaven in the World, 
and are in one another as day and night." 

/ was told by Mrs. Sheridan: 

There was a woman, Mrs. Keevan, killed 
near the big tree at Raheen, and her husband 
was after that with Biddy Early, and she said 
it was not the woman that had died at all, but 
a cow that died and was put in her place. All 
my life I've seen them and enough of them. 
One day I was with Tom Mannion by the big 
hole near his house, and we saw a man and a 
woman come from it, and a great troop of children, 
little boys they seemed to be, and they went 
through the gate into Coole, and there we could see 
them running and running along the wall. And 
I said to Tom Mannion, " It may be a call for one 
of us." And he said, "Maybe it's for some other 
one it is. " But on that day week he was dead. 

One time I saw the old Colonel standing near 
the road, I know well it was him. But while I was 
looking at him, he was changed into the likeness of 
an ass. 

I was led astray myself one day in Coole when 
I went to gather sticks for the fire. I was making a 
bundle of them, and I saw a boy beside me, and a 
little grey dogeen with him, and at first I thought 
it was William Hanlon, and then I saw it was not. 
And he walked along with me, and I asked him 


74 Visions and Beliefs 

did he want any of the sticks and he said he did 
not, and he seemed as we were walking to grow 
bigger and bigger. And when he came to where 
the caves go underground he stopped, and I asked 
him his name, and he said, "You should know me, 
for you've seen me often enough. " And then he 
was gone, and I know that he was no living thing. 

There was a child I had, and he a year and a 
half old, and he got a quinsy and a choking in the 
throat and I was holding him in my arms beside 
the fire, and all in a minute he died. And the men 
were working down by the river, washing sheep, 
and they heard the crying of a child from over 
there in the air, and they said, "That's Sheridan's 
child. " So I knew sure enough that he was taken. 

Come here close and I'll tell you what I saw at 
the old castle there below (Ballinamantane) . I was 
passing there in the evening and I saw a great 
house and a grand one with screens (clumps of 
trees) at the ends of it, and the windows open — 
Coole house is nothing like what it was for size or 
grandeur. And there were people inside and 
ladies walking about, and a bridge across the river. 
For they can build up such things all in a minute. 
And two coaches came driving up and across the 
bridge to the castle, and in one of them I saw two 
gentlemen, and I knew them well and both of 
them had died long before. As to the coaches and 
the horses I didn't take much notice of them for 
I was too much taken up with looking at the two 
gentlemen. And a man came and called out and 

Seers and Healers 75 

asked me would I come across the bridge, and I 
said I would not. And he said, "It would be 
better for you if you did, you'd go back heavier 
than you came." I suppose they would have 
given me some good thing. And then two men 
took up the bridge and laid it against the wall. 
Twice I've seen that same thing, the house and 
the coaches and the bridge, and I know well I'll 
see it a third time before I die. {Note 12.) 

One time when I was living at Ballymacduff 
there was two little boys drowned in the river 
there, one was eight years old and the other eleven 
years. And I was out in the fields, and the people 
looking in the river for their bodies, and I saw a 
man coming away from it, and the two boys with 
him, he holding a hand of each and leading them 
away. And he saw me stop and look at them and 
he said, "Take care would you bring them from 
me, for you have only one in your own house, and 
if you take these from me, she'll never come home 
to you again. " And one of the little chaps broke 
from his hand and ran to me, and the other cried 
out to him, "Oh, Pat, would you leave me!" So 
then he went back and the man led them away. 
And then I saw another man, very tall he was, and 
crooked, and watching me like this with his head 
down and he was leading two dogs the other way, 
and I knew well where he was going and what he 
was going to do with them. 

And when I heard the bodies were laid out, I 
went to the house to have a look at them, and those 

76 Visions and Beliefs 

were never the two boys that were lying there, but 
the two dogs that were put in their places. I knew 
this by a sort of stripes on the bodies such as you'd 
see in the covering of a mattress; and I knew the 
boys couldn't be in it, after me seeing them led 

And it was at that time I lost my eye, something 
came on it, and I never got the sight again. All 
my life I've seen them and enough of them. One 
time I saw one of the fields below full of them, some 
were picking up stones and some were ploughing 
it up. But the next time I went by there was no 
sign of it being ploughed at all. They can do 
nothing without some live person is looking at 
them, that's why they were always so much after 
me. Even when I was a child I could see them, 
and once they took my walk from me, and gave 
me a bad foot, and my father cured me, and if he 
did, in five days after he died. 

But there's no harm at all in them, not much 

There was a woman lived near me at Bally- 
macduff, and she used to go about to attend 
women; Sarah Redington was her name. And she 
was brought away one time by a man that came 
for her into a hill, through a door, but she didn't 
know where the hill was. And there were people 
in it, and cradles and a woman in labour, and she 
helped her and the baby was born, and the woman 
told her it was only that night she was brought 

Seers and Healers 77 

away. And the man led her out again and put her 
in the road near her home and he gave her some- 
thing rolled in a bag, and he bid her not to look at 
it till she'd get home, and to throw the first handful 
of it away from her. But she wouldn't wait to get 
home to look at it, and she took it off her back and 
opened it, and there was nothing in it but cow- 
dung. And the man came to her and said, "You 
have us near destroyed looking in that, and we'll 
never bring you in again among us. " 

There was a man I know well was away with 
them, often and often, and he was passing one day 
by the big tree and they came about him and he had 
a new pair of breeches* on, and one of them came 
and made a slit in them, and another tore a little 
bit out, and then they all came running and tearing 
little bits till he hadn't a rag left. Just to be hum- 
bugging him they did that. And they gave him 
good help, for he had but an acre of land, and he 
had as much on it as another would have on a big 
farm. But his wife didn't like him to be going and 
some one told her of a cure for him, and she said 
she'd try it and if she did, within two hours after 
she was dead; killed they had her before she'd 
try it. He used to say that where he was brought 
was into a round very big house, and Cairns that 
went with them told me the same. {Note 13.) 

Three times when I went for water to the well, 
the water spilled over me, and I told Bridget after 
that they must bring the water themselves, I'd 
go for it no more. And the third time it was done 

78 Visions and Beliefs 

there was a boy, one of the HenifTs, was near, and 
when he heard what happened me he said, "It 
must have been the woman that was at the well 
along with you that did that. " And I said there 
was no woman at the well along with me. "There 
was," said he; "I saw her there beside you, and 
the two little tins in her hand." 

One day after I came to live here at Coole, a 
strange woman came into the house, and I asked 
what was her name and she said, "I was in it before 
ever you were in it, " and she went into the room 
inside and I saw her no more. 

But Bridget and Peter saw her coming in, and 
they asked me who she was, for they never saw her 
before. And in the night when I was sleeping at 
the foot of the bed, she came and threw me out on 
the floor, that the joint of my arm has a mark in it 
yet. And every night she came, and she'd spite 
me or annoy me in some way. And at last we got 
Father Nolan to come and to drive her out. And 
as soon as he began to read, there went out of the 
house a great blast, and there was a sound as loud 
as thunder. And Father Nolan said, "It's well for 
you she didn't have you killed before she went. " 

There's something that's not right about an old 
cat and it's well not to annoy them. I was in the 
house one night, and one came in, and he tried to 
bring away the candle that was lighted in the 
candlestick, and it standing on the table. And I 
had a little rod beside me, and I made a hit at him 

Seers and Healers 79 

with it, and with that he dropped the candle and 
made at me as if to tear me. And I went on my 
knees and asked his pardon three times, and when 
I asked it the third time he got quiet all of a 
minute, and went out at the door. 

And as to hares — bid Master Robert never to 
shoot a hare, for you wouldn't know what might 
be in it. There were two women I knew, mother 
and daughter, and they died. And one day I was 
out by the wood, and I saw two hares sitting by the 
wall, and the minute I saw them I knew well who 
they were. And the mother made as though she'd 
kill me, but the daughter stopped her. Bad they 
must have been to have been put into that shape, 
and indeed I know that they weren't too good. I 
saw the mother another time come up near the 
door as if to see me, and when she got near, she 
turned herself into a red hare. 

The priests can do cures out of their book, and 
the time the cure is done is when they turn the 
second leaf. There was a boy near Kinvara got a 
hurt and he was brought into a house and Father 
Grogan was got to do a cure on him. And he did 
it, and within two days the priest's brother was 
made a fool of, and is locked up in a madhouse 
ever since, and it near seven years ago. {Note 14.) 

There was a boy of the N ally's died near a year 
ago; and when I heard he was dead I went down 
to the house, and there I saw him outside and two 
men bringing him away, and one of them said to 
me, "We couldn't do this but for you being there 

80 Visions and Beliefs 

watching us. " That's the last time I saw any of 

There was a boy got a fall from a cart near the 
house beyond, and he was brought in to Mrs. 
Raynor's and laid in the bed and I went in to see 
him. And he said what he saw was a little boy 
run across the road before the cart, and the horse 
took fright and ran away and threw him from it. 
And he asked to be brought to my house, for he 
wouldn't stop where he was; "for" says he, "the 
woman of this house gave me no drink and showed 
me no kindness, and she'll be repaid for that." 
And sure enough within the year she got the dropsy 
and died. And he was carried out of the door 
backwards, but the mother brought him to her 
own house and wouldn't let him come to mine, and 
'twas as well, for I wouldn't refuse him, but I don't 
want to be annoyed with them any more than I am. 

Did you know Mrs. Byrne that lived in Doolin? 
Swept she was after her child was born. And near 
a year after I saw her coming down the road near 
the old castle. "Is that you, Mary?" I said to 
her, "and is it to see me you are coming?" But 
she went on. It was in May when they are all 
changing. {Note 15.) There was a priest, Father 
Waters, told me one time that he was after burying 
a boy, one Fahy, in Kilbecanty churchyard. And 
he was passing by the place again in the evening, 
and there he saw a great fire burning, but whether 
it was of turf or of sticks he couldn't tell, and there 

Seers and Healers 81 

was the boy he had buried sitting in the middle of 

I know that I used to be away among them 
myself, but how they brought me I don't know, 
but when I'd come back, I'd be cross with the 
husband and with all. I believe when I was with 
them I was cross that they wouldn't let me go, 
and that's why they didn't keep me altogether, 
they didn't like cross people to be with them. 
The husband would ask me where I was, and 
why I stopped so long away, but I think he knew 
I was taken and it fretted him, but he never spoke 
much about it. But my mother knew it well, but 
she'd try to hide it. The neighbours would come 
in and ask where was I, and she'd say I was sick 
in the bed — for whatever was put there in place of 
me would have the head in under the bed-clothes. 
And when a neighbour would bring me in a drink 
of milk, my mother would put it by and say, 
" Leave her now, maybe she'll drink it tomorrow." 
And maybe in a day or two I'd meet someone and 
he'd say, "Why wouldn't you speak tome when I 
went into the house to see you?" And I was a 
young fresh woman at that time. Where they 
brought me to I don't know, or how I got there, 
but I'd be in a very big house, and it round, the 
walls far away that you'd hardly see them, and a 
great many people all round about. I saw there 
neighbours and friends that I knew, and they in 
their own clothing and with their own appearance, 
but they wouldn't speak to me nor I to them, and 

VOL. I — 6 

82 Visions and Beliefs 

when I'd meet them again I'd never say to them 
that I saw them there. But the others had striped 
clothes of all colours, and long faces, and they'd be 
talking and laughing and moving about. What 
language had they? Irish of course, what else 
would they talk? 

And there was one woman of them, very tall and 
with a long face, standing in the middle, taller 
than any one you ever saw in this world, and a 
tall stick in her hand; she was the mistress. She 
had a high yellow thing on her head, not hair, her 
hair was turned back under it, and she had a long 
yellow cloak down to her feet and hanging down 
behind. Had she anything like that in the picture 
in her hand? [a crown of gold balls or apples.] It 
was not on her head, it was lower down here about 
the body, and shining, and a thing [a brooch] like 
that in the picture, but down hanging low like the 
other. And that picture you have there in your 
hand, I saw no one like it, but I saw a picture like 
it hanging on the wall. {Note 16.) It was a very 
big place and very grand, and a long table set 
out, but I didn't want to stop there and I began 
crying to go home. And she touched me here in the 
breast with her stick, she was vexed to see me 
wanting to go away. They never brought me 
away since. Grand food they'd offer me and wine, 
but I never would touch it, and sometimes I'd 
have to give the breast to a child. 

Himself died, but it was they took him from me. 
It was in the night and he lying beside me, and I 

Seers and Healers 83 

woke and heard him move, and I thought I heard 
some one with him. And I put out my hand and 
what I touched was an iron hand, like knitting 
needles it felt. And I heard the bones of his neck 
crack, and he gave a sort of a choked laugh, and I 
got out of the bed and struck a light and I saw 
nothing, but I thought I saw some one go through 
the door. And I called to Bridget and she didn't 
come, and I called again and she came and she 
said she struck a light when she heard the noise 
and was coming, and someone came and struck 
the light from her hand. And when we looked 
in the bed, himself was lying dead and not a mark 
on him. 

There was a woman, Mrs. Leary, had something 
wrong with her, and she went to Biddy Early. And 
nothing would do her but to bring my son along 
with her, and I was vexed. What call had she to 
bring him with her? And when Biddy Early saw 
him she said, "You'll travel far, but wherever you 
go you'll not escape them. " The woman he went 
up with died about six months after, but he went to 
America, and he wasn't long there when what was 
said came true, and he died. They followed him as 
far as he went. 

And one day since then I was on the road to 
Gort, and Madden said tome, "Your son's on the 
road before you." And I said, "How could that 
be, and he dead? " But still I hurried on. And at 
Coole gate I met a little boy and I asked did he 

84 Visions and Beliefs 

see any one and he said, "You know well who 
I saw." But I got no sight of him at all myself. 

I saw the coach one night near Kiltartan Chapel. 
Long it was and black, and I saw no one in it. 
But I saw who was sitting up driving it, and I 
knew it to be one of the Miskells that was taken 
before that. {Note 17.) 

One day I was following the goat to get a sup 
of milk from her, and she turned into the field 
and up into the castle of Lydican and went up 
from step to step up the stairs to the top, and I 
followed and on the stairs a woman passed me, 
and I knew her to be Colum's wife. And when 
we got to the room at the top, I looked up, and 
there standing on the wall was a woman looking 
down at me, long-faced and tall and with grand 
clothes, and on her head something yellow and 
slippery, not hair but like marble. {Note 18.) 
And I called out to ask her wasn't she afraid to be 
up there, and she said she was not. And a shep- 
herd that used to live below in the castle saw 
the same woman one night he went up to the 
top, and a room and a fire and she sitting by it, 
but when he went there again there was no sign 
of her nor of the room, nothing but the stones as 

I never saw them on horses; but when I came 
to live at Peter Mahony's he used to bring in 
those red flowers [ragweed] that grow by the 

Seers and Healers 85 

railway, when their stalks were withered, to make 
the fire. And one day I was out in the road, and 
two men came over to me and one was wearing 
a long grey dress. And he said to me, " We have 
no horses to ride on and have to go on foot, because 
you have too much fire." So then I knew it was 
their horses we were burning. (Note 19.) 

I know the cure for anything they can do to you, 
but it's few I'd tell it to. It was a strange woman 
came in and told it to me, and I never saw her 
again. She bid me spit and use the spittle, or to 
take a graineen of dust from the navel, and that's 
what you should do if any one you care for gets a 
cold or a shivering, or they put anything upon him. 

One time I went up to a forth beyond Raheen 
to pick up a few sticks, and I was beating one of the 
sticks on the ground to break it, and a voice said 
from below, "Is it to break down the house you 
want?" And a thing appeared that was like a cat, 
but bigger than any cat ever was. And another 
time in a forth a man said, "Here's gold for you, 
but don't look at it till you go home." And I 
looked and I saw horse-dung and I said, "Keep it 
yourself, much good may it do you." They never 
gave me anything did me good, but a good deal 
of torment I had from them. And they're often 
walking the road, and if you met them you 
wouldn't know them from any other person; but 
I'd know them well enough, but I'd say nothing — 

86 Visions and Beliefs 

and that's a grand bush we're passing by — whether 
it belongs to them I don't know, but wherever 
they get shelter, there they might be — but anyway 
it's a very fine bush — God bless it. 

And when you speak of them you should always 
say the day of the week. Maybe you didn't notice 
that I said, "This is Friday" just when we were 
hardly in at the gate. 

It's very weak I am, and took to my bed since 
yesterday. They've changed now out of where 
they were near the castle, and it's inside Coole 
demesne they are. It was an old man told me that, 
I met him on the road there below. First I thought 
he was a young man, and then I saw he was not, 
and he grew very nice-looking after, and he had 
plaid clothes. "We're moved out of that now," 
he said, "and it's strangers will be coming in it. 
And you ought to know me, " he said. And when 
I looked at him I thought I did. 

And one day I was down in Coole I saw their 
house, more like a big dairy, with red tiles and a 
high chimney and a lot of smoke out of it, and 
there was a woman at the door and two or three 
outside. But they'll do you no harm, for the man 
told me so. "They needn't be afraid," he said, 
"we're good neighbours, but let them not say too 
much if the milk might go from the cows now and 
again. " 

I was over beyond Raheen one time, and I saw 
a woman milking and she at the wrong side of the 

Seers and Healers 87 

cow. And when she saw me she got up, and she 
had a bucket that was like a plate, and it full of 
milk and she gave it to a man that was waiting 
there, that I thought first was one of the O'Heas, 
and they went away. And the cow was a grand 
fine one, but who it belonged to I didn't know — 
maybe to themselves. 

It's about a week ago one night some one came 
into the room in the dark, and I saw it was my 
son that I lost — he that went to America — James. 
He didn't die, he was whipped away — I knew he 
wasn't dead, for I saw him one day on the road to 
Gort on a coach, and he looked down and he said, 
1 ' That's my poor mother. " And when he came in 
here, I couldn't see him, but I knew him by his 
talk. And he said, "It's asleep she is," and he 
put his two hands on my face and I never stirred. 
And he said, "I'm not far from you now." For 
he is with the others inside Coole near where the 
river goes down the swallow hole. To see me he 
came, and I think he'll be apt to come again before 
long. And last night there was a light about my 
head all the night and no candle in the room at all. 

Yes, the Sidhe sing, and they have pipers among 
them, a bag on each side and a pipe to the mouth, 
I think I never told you of one I saw. 

I was passing a field near Kiltartan one time 
when I was a girl, where there was a little lisheen, 
and a field of wheat, and when I was passing I 

88 Visions and Beliefs 

heard a piper beginning to play, and I couldn't 
but begin to dance, it was such a good tune; and 
there was a boy standing there, and he began to 
dance too. And then my father came by, and he 
asked why were we dancing, and no one playing 
for us. And I said there was, and I began to 
search through the wheat for the piper, but I 
couldn't find him, and I heard a voice saying, 
" You'll see me yet, and it will be in a town. " Well, 
one Christmas eve I was in Gort and my husband 
with me, and that night at Gort I heard the same 
tune beginning again — the grandest I ever heard — 
and I couldn't but begin to dance. And Glynn the 
chair-maker heard it too, and he began to dance 
with me in the street, and my man thought I had 
gone mad, and the people gathered round us, for 
they could see or hear nothing. But I saw the 
piper well, and he had plaid clothes, blue and white, 
and he said, "Didn't I tell you that when I saw 
you again it would be in a town? " 

I never saw fire go up in the air, but in the 
wood beyond the tree at Raheen I used often to 
see like a door open at night, and the light shining 
through it, just as it might shine through the house 
door, with the candle and the fire inside, if it would 
be left open. 

Many of them I have seen — they are like our- 
selves only wearing bracket clothes {Note 20), 
and their bodies are not so strong or so thick as 
ours, and their eyes are more shining than our eyes. 

Seers and Healers 89 

I don't see many of them here, but Coole is 
alive with them, as plenty as grass; I often go 
awhile and sit inside the gate there. I saw them 
make up a house one time near the natural bridge, 
and I saw them coming over the gap twice near 
the chapel, a lot of little boys, and two men 
and a woman, and they had old talk and young 
talk. One of them came in here twice, and I gave 
him a bit of bread, but he said, "There's salt in 
it" and he put it away. (Note 21.) 

When Annie Rivers died the other day, there 
were two funerals in it, a big funeral with a new 
coffin and another that was in front of them, men 
walking, the handsomest I ever saw, and they 
with black clothes about their body. I was out 
there looking at them, and there was a cow in the 
road, and I said, "Take care would you drive 
away the cow." And one of them said, "No fear 
of that, we have plenty of cows on the other side 
of the wall' 1 But no one could see them but 
myself. I often saw them and it was they took the 
sight of my eyes from me. And Annie Rivers was 
not in the grand coffin, she was with them a good 
while before the funeral. 

That time I saw the two funerals at Rivers' s 
that I was telling you about, I heard Annie call 
to those that were with her, "You might as well 
let me have Bartley ; it would be better for the two 
castles to meet." And since then the mother is 

90 Visions and Beliefs 

uneasy about Bartley, and he fell on the floor one 
day and I know well he is gone since the day 
Annie was buried. And I saw others at the funeral, 
and some that you knew well among them. And 
look now, you should send a coat to some poor 
person, and your own friends among the dead will 
be covered, for you could see the skin here. [She 
made a gesture passing her hand down each arm, 
exactly the same gesture as old Mary Glynn of Slieve 
Echtge had made yesterday when she said, "Have 
you a coat you could send me, for my arms are 
bare? " and I had promised her one] 

Would I have gone among them if I had died 
last month? I think not. I think that I have lived 
my time out, since my father was taken. 

He was a young man at that time, and one time 
I was out in the field, and I got a knock on the 
foot, and a lump rose; there is the mark of it yet. 
It was after that I was on the road with my father, 
near Kinvara, and a man came and began to 
beat him. And I thought that he was going to 
beat me, and I got in near the wall and my father 
said, "Spare the girl!" "I will do that, I will 
spare her," said the man. He went away then, 
and within a week my father was dead. 

And my mother told me that before the burying, 
she saw the corpse on the bed, sitting on the side 
of the bed, and his feet hanging down. I saw my 
father often since then, but not this good while now. 
He had always a young appearance when I saw him, 

Seers and Healers 91 

A big woman came to the window and looked 
in at me, the time I was on the bed lately. "Rise 
up out of that, " she said. I saw her another time 
on the road, and the wind blew her dress open, and 
I could see that she had nothing at all on under- 
neath it. 

In May they are as thick everywhere as the 
grass, but there's no fear at all for you or for Master 
Robert. I know that, for one told it to me. 

"Tir-nan-og" that is not far from us. One 
time I was in the chapel at Labane, and there was a 
tall man sitting next me, and he dressed in grey, 
and after the Mass I asked him where he came 
from. "From Tir-nan-og," says he. "And where 
is that? " I asked him. "It's not far from you, " he 
said; "it's near the place where you live." I 
remember well the look of him and him telling me 
that. The priest was looking at us while we were 
talking together. {Note 22.) 

She died some years ago and I am told:^ 
"There is a ghost in Mrs. Sheridan's house. 
They got a priest to say Mass there, but with all that 
there is not one in it has leave to lay a head on the 
pillow till such time as the cock crows." 


/WAS told one day by our doctor, a good fowler and 
physician, now, alas, passed away, of an old 
man in Clare who had knowledge of "the Others," 
and I took Mr. Yeats to see him. 

We found him in his hay field, and he took us to his 
thatched lime-white house and told us many things. 
A little later we went there again to verify what I had 
put down. I remember him as very gentle and cour- 
teous, and that a cloth was spread and tea made for 
us by his daughters, he himself sitting at the head of 
the table. 

Mr. Yeats at that time wore black clothes and a 
soft black hat, but gave them up later, because he was 
so often saluted as a priest. But this time another 
view was taken, and I was told after a while that the 
curate of the Clare parish had written to the curate of 
a Connacht parish that Lady Gregory had come 
over the border with "a Scripture Reader" to try 
and buy children for proselytizing purposes. But the 
Connacht curate had written back to the Clare curate 
that he had always thought him a fool, and now he 
was sure of it. 


The old man I have called Mr. Saggarton said: 
Our family diminished very much till at last 
there were but three brothers left, and they sepa- 
rated. One went to Ennis and another came here 
and the other to your own place beyond. It was a 
long time before they could make one another out 
again. It was my uncle used to go away among 
them. When I was a young chap, I'd go out in the 
field working with him, and he'd bid me go away 
on some message, and when I'd come back it might 
be in a faint I'd find him. It was he himself was 
taken ; it was but his shadow or some thing in his 
likeness was left behind. He was a very strong 
man. You might remember Ger Kelly what a 
strong man he was, and stout, and six feet two 
inches in height. Well, he and my uncle had a 
dispute one time, and he made as if to strike at 
him, and my uncle, without so much as taking off 
his coat, gave one blow that stretched him on the 
floor. And at the barn at Bunahowe he and my 
father could throw a hundred weight over the 
collar beam, what no other could do. {Note 23.) 
My father had no notion at all of managing things. 
He lived to be eighty years, and all his life he 
looked as innocent as that little chap turning the 
hay. My uncle had the same innocent look; I 
think they died quite happy. 


94 Visions and Beliefs 

One time the wife got a touch, and she got it 
again, and the third time she got up in the morning 
and went out of the house and never said where 
she was going. But I had her watched, and I told 
the boy to follow her and never to lose sight of 
her, and I gave him the sign to make if he'd meet 
any bad thing. So he followed her, and she kept 
before him, and while he was going along the road 
something was up on top of the wall with one 
leap — a red-haired man it was, with no legs and 
with a thin face. (Note 24.) But the boy made 
the sign and got hold of him and carried him till 
he got to the bridge. At the first he could not lift 
the man, but after he made the sign he was 
quite light. And the woman turned home again, 
and never had a touch after. It's a good job 
the boy had been taught the sign. Make that 
sign with your thumbs if ever when you're walking 
out you feel a sort of a shivering in the skin, for 
that shows there's some bad thing near, but if 
you hold your hands like that, if you went into a 
forth itself, it couldn't harm you. And if you 
should any time feel a sort of a pain in your little 
finger, the surest thing is to touch it with human 
dung. Don't neglect that, for if they're glad to 
get one of us, they'd be seven times better pleased 
to get the like of you. 

Youngsters they take mostly to do work for 
them, and they are death on handsome people, 
for they are handsome themselves. To all sorts 
of work they put them, and digging potatoes and 

Seers and Healers 95 

the like, and they have wine from foreign parts, 
and cargoes of gold coming in to them. Their 
houses are ten times more beautiful and ten times 
grander than any house in this world. And they 
could build one of them up in that field in ten min- 
utes. Clothes of all colours they wear, and crowns 
like that one in the picture, and of other shapes. 
{Note 25.) They have different queens, not always 
the same. The people they bring away must die 
some day; as to themselves, they were living from 
past ages, and they can never die till the time when 
God has His mind made up to redeem them. 

And those they bring away are always glad to be 
brought back again. If you were to bring a heifer 
from those mountains beyond and to put it into a 
meadow, it would be glad to get back again to the 
mountain, because it is the place it knows. 

Coaches they make up when they want to go 
driving, with wheels and all, but they want no 
horses. There might be twenty of them going 
out together sometimes, and all full of them. 

They are everywhere around us, and may be 
within a yard of us now in the grass. But if I ask 
you, "What day is tomorrow," and you said, 
"Thursday, " they wouldn't be able to overhear us. 
They have the power to go in every place, even 
on to the book the priest is using. 

There was one John Curran lived over there 
towards Bunahowe, and he had a cow that died, 
and they were striving to rear the calf — boiled 
hay they were giving it, the juice the hay was 

96 Visions and Beliefs 

boiled in. And you never saw anything to thrive 
as it did. And one day some man was looking at 
it and he said, ' ' You may be sure the mother comes 
back and gives it milk." And John Curran said, 
" How can that be, and she dead? " But the man 
said, "She's not dead, she's in the forth beyond. 
And if you go towards it half an hour before sunrise 
you'll find her, and you should catch a hold of her 
and bring her home and milk her, and when she 
makes to go away again, take a hold of her tail 
and follow her." So he went out next morning, 
half an hour before sunrise, up toward the forth, 
and brought her home and milked her, and when 
the milking was done she started to go away and he 
caught a hold of the tail and was carried along with 
her. And she brought him into the forth, through 
a door. And behind the door stood a barrel, and 
what was in the barrel is what they put their 
finger in, and touch their forehead with when they 
go out, for if they didn't do that all people would 
be able to see them. And as soon as he got 
in, there were voices from all sides. "Welcome, 
John Curran, welcome, John Curran." And 
he said: "The devil take you, how well you know 
my name; it's not a welcome I want, it's my cow 
to bring home again." So in the end he got 
the cow and brought her home. And he saw 
there a woman that had died out of the village 
about ten years before, and she suckling a child. 
{Note 26.) 

Surely I knew Biddy Early, and my uncle was a 

Seers and Healers 97 

friend of hers. It was from the same power they 
got the cures. My uncle left me the power, and I 
was well able to do them and did many, but my 
stock was all dying and what could I do? So I 
gave a part of the power to Mrs. Tobin that lives 
in Gort, and she can cure a good many things. 
Biddy Early told me herself that where she got it 
was when she was a servant girl in a house, there 
was a baby lying in the cradle, and he went on 
living for a few years. But he was friendly to her 
and used to play tunes for her and when he went 
away he gave her the bottle and the power. She 
had but to look in it and she'd see all that had 
happened and all that was going to happen. But 
he made her make a promise never to take more 
than a shilling for any cure she did, and she would 
not have taken fifty pounds if you offered it to 
her, though she might take presents of bread and 
wine and such things. 

The cure for all things in the world? Surely she 
had it and knew where it was. And I knew it 
myself too — but I could not tell you of it. Seven 
parts I used to make it with, and one of them is a 
thing that's in every house. 

There's a lake beyond there, and my uncle one 
day told us by name of a man that would be 
drowned there at twelve o'clock that day. And so 
it happened. 

One time I was walking on the road to Gal way, 

VOL. I — 7 

98 Visions and Beliefs 

near the sea, and another man along with me. 
And I saw in a field beside the road a very small 
woman walking down towards us, and she smiling 
and carrying a can of water in her hand, and she 
was dressed in a blue spencer. So I asked the other 
man did he see her, and he said he did not, and 
when I came up to the wall she was gone. 

One time myself when I went to look for a wife, 
I went to the house, and there was a hen and some 
chickens before the door. Well, after I went home 
one of the chickens died. And what do you think 
they said, but that it was I overlooked it. 

They hate me because I do cures, and they hated 
Biddy Early too. The priests do them but not 
in the same way — they do them by the power of 
Almighty God. 

My wife got a touch from them, and they have a 
watch on her ever since. It was the day after I 
married and I went to the fair at Clarenbridge. 
And when I came back the house was full of smoke, 
but there was nothing on the hearth but cinders, 
and the smoke was more like the smoke of a forge. 
And she was within lying on the bed, and her 
brother was sitting outside the door crying. So I 
went to the mother and asked her to come in, and 
she was crying too. And she knew well what had 
happened, but she didn't tell me, but she sent for 
the priest. And when he came he sent me for 

Seers and Healers 99 

Geoghegan and that was only an excuse to get 
me away, and what he and the mother tried to 
bring her to do was to face death, and they knew I 
wouldn't allow that if I was there. But the wife 
was very stout and she wouldn't give in to them. 
So the priest read more, and he asked would I be 
willing to lose something, and I said, so far as a cow 
or a calf I wouldn't mind losing that. Well, she 
partly recovered, but from that day, no year went 
by but I lost ten lambs maybe or other things. 
And twice they took my children out of the bed, 
two of them I have lost. And the others they gave 
a touch to. That girl there, — see the way she is, 
and can't walk. In one minute it came on her out 
in the field, with the fall of a wall. (Note 2J.) 

It was one among them that wanted the wife. A 
woman and a boy we often saw come to the door, 
and she was the matchmaker. And when we 
would go out, they would have vanished. 

Biddy Early's cure that you heard of, it was the 
moss on the water of the mill-stream between the 
two wheels of Ballylee. It can cure all things 
brought about by them, but not any common ail- 
ment. But there is no cure for the stroke given 
by a queen or a fool. There is a queen in every 
house or regiment of them. It is of those they 
steal away they make queens for as long as they 
live or that they are satisfied with them. 

There were two women fighting at a spring of 
water, and one hit the other on the head with a can 

ioo Visions and Beliefs 

and killed her. And after that her children began 
to die. And the husband went to Biddy Early and 
as soon as she saw him she said, "There's nothing 
I can do for you, your wife was a wicked woman, 
and the one she hit is a queen among them, and she 
is taking your children one by one and you must 
suffer till twenty-one years are up. ' ' And so he did. 
The stroke of a fool, there's no cure for either. 
There are many fools among them dressed in 
strange clothes like one of the mummers that used 
to be going through the country. But it might be 
the fools are the wisest after all. There are two 
classes, the Dundonians that are like ourselves, 
and another race, more wicked and more spiteful. 
Very small they are and wide, and their belly 
sticks out in front, so that what they carry they 
don't carry it on the back, but in front, on the 
belly in a bag. {Note 28.) 

They were fighting when Johnny Casey died; 
that's what often happens. Everyone has friends 
among them, and the friends would be trying to 
save you when the others would be trying to bring 
you away. Youngsters they pick up here and 
there, to help them in their fights and in their 
work. They have cattle and horses, but all of 
them have only three legs. 

They don't have children themselves, only the 
women that are brought away among them, they 
have children, but they don't live for ever, like the 

Seers and Healers 101 

The handsome they like, and the good dancers. 
And if they get a boy amongst them, the first to 
touch him, he belongs to her. 

There was a boy was a splendid dancer, and 
straight and firm, for they don't like those that go 
to right or left as they walk. Well, one night he was 
going to a house where there was a dance, and 
when he was about half-way to it, he came to 
another house, where there was music and dancing 
going on. So he turned in, and there was a room 
all done up with curtains and with screens, and a 
room inside where the people were sitting, and it 
was only those that were dancing sets that came 
to the outside room. 

As to their treasure, it's best to be without it. 
There was a man living by a forth, and where his 
house touched the forth, he built a little room and 
left it for them, clean and in good order, the way 
they'd like it. And whenever he'd want money, 
for a fair or the like, he'd find it laid on the table 
in the morning. And when he had it again, he'd 
leave it there, and it would be taken away in the 
night. But after that going on for a time he lost 
his son. 

There was a room at Crags where things used to 
be thrown about, and everyone could hear the 
noises there. They had a right to clear it out and 
settle it the way they'd like it. You should do that 

102 Visions and Beliefs 

in your own big house. Set a little room for them 
— with spring water in it always — and wine you 
might leave — no, not flowers — they wouldn't want 
so much as that — but just what would show your 
good will. 

Now I have told you more than I told my wife. 

"a great warrior in the business" 

rwas on the bounds of Connemara I heard of this 
healer, and went to see his wife in her little rock- 
built cabin among the boulders, to ask if a cure could 
be done for Mr. Yeats, who was staying at a friend's 
house near, and who was at that time troubled by 
uncertain eyesight. 

One evening later we walked beside the sea to the 
cottage where we were to meet the healer; a storm was 
blowing and we were glad when the door was opened 
and we found a bright turf fire. 

He was short and broad, with regular features, and 
his hair was thick and dark, though he was an old 
man. He wore a flannel- sleeved waistcoat, and his 
trousers were much patched on the knees. He sat on 
a low bench in the wide chimney nook, holding a soft 
hat in his hands which kept nervously moving. The 
woman of the house came over now and then to look 
at the iron tripod on the hearth. She, like the healer, 
spoke only Irish. The man of the house sat between 
us and interpreted, holding a dip candle in his hands. 
A dog growled without ceasing at one side of the 
hearth, a reddish cat sat at the other. The woman 
seemed frightened and angry at times as the old man 

spoke, and clutched the baby to her breast. 


/ was told by the man of the house, Coneely: 

There's a man beyond is a great warrior in this 
business, and no man within miles of the place will 
build a house or a cabin or any other thing without 
him going there to say if it's in a right place. 

It was Fagan cured me of a pain I had in my 
arm, I couldn't get rid of. He gave me a some- 
thing to drink, and he bid me go to a quarry and 
to touch some of the stones that were lying outside 
it and not to touch others of them. Anyway I got 

And one time down by the hill we were gathering 
in the red seaweed, and there was a boy there that 
was leading a young horse, the same way he'd 
been leading him a year or more. But this day of a 
sudden he made a snap to bite him, and secondly he 
reared as if to jump on top of him, and thirdly 
turned around and made at him with the hoofs. 
And the boy threw himself to one side and escaped, 
but with the fright he got he went into his bed and 
stopped there. And the next day Fagan came and 
told him everything that had happened, and he 
said, "I saw thousands on the strand near where 
it was last night." 

Pagan's wife said to me in her house: 
Are you right? You are? Then you're my 

106 Visions and Beliefs 

friend. Come here close and tell me is there 
anything himself can do for you? 

I do the fortunes no more since I got great abuse 
from the priest for it. Himself got great abuse 
from the priest too — Father Haverty — and he 
gave him plaster of Paris, — I mean by that he 
spoke soft and blathered him, but he does them 
all the same, and Father Kilroy gave him leave 
when he was here. 

It was from his sister he got the cure. Taken 
she was when her baby was born. She died in the 
morning and the baby at night. We didn't tell 
John of it for a month after, where he was away, 
caring horses. But he knew of it before he came 
home, for she followed him there one day he was 
out in the field, and when he didn't know her she 
said, "I'm your sister Kate." And she said, "I 
bring you a cure that you may cure both yourself 
and others. ' ' And she told him of the herb and the 
field he'd find it growing, and that he must choose 
a plant with seven branches, the half of them above 
the clay and the half of them covered up. And 
she told him how to use it. 

Twenty years she's gone, but she's not dead yet, 
but the last time he saw her he said that she was 
getting grey. Every May and November he sees 
her, he'll be seeing her soon now. When her time 
comes to die, she'll be put in the place of some 
other one that's taken, and so she'll get absolution. 
{Note 29.) 

He has cured many. But sometimes they are 

Seers and Healers 107 

vexed with him, for some cure he has done, when 
he interferes with some person they're meaning to 
bring away. And many's the good beating they 
gave him out in the fields for doing that. 

Myself they gave a touch to, here in the thigh, 
so that I lost my walk ; vexed with me they are for 
giving up the throwing of the cup. 

A nurse she's been all the time among them. 
And don't believe those that say they have no 
children. A boy among them is as clever as any 
boy here, but he must be matched with a woman 
from earth. And the same way with their women, 
they must get a husband here. And they never 
can give the breast to a child, but must get a nurse 
from here. 

One time I saw them myself, in a field and they 
hurling. Bracket caps they wore and bracket 
clothes that were of all colours. 

Some were the same size as ourselves and some 
looked like gossoons that didn't grow well. But 
himself has the second sight and can see them in 
every place. 

There's as many of them in the sea as on the 
land, and sometimes they fly like birds across the 

The first time he did a cure it was on some poor 
person like ourselves, and he took nothing for it, 
and in the night the sister came and bid him not to 
do it any more without a fee. And that time we 
lost a fine boy. 

They'll all be watching round when a person is 

108 Visions and Beliefs 

dying; and suppose it was myself, there'd be my 
own friends crying, crying, and themselves would 
be laughing and jesting, and glad I'd go. {Note 30.) 
There is always a mistress among them. When 
one of us goes among them they would all be 
laughing and jesting, but when that tall mistress 
you heard of would tip her stick on the ground, 
they'd all draw to silence. 

Tell me the Christian name of your friend you 
want the cure for. " William Butler," I'll keep that. 
{Note 31.) And when himself gathers the herb, 
if it's for a man, he must call on the name of some 
other man, and call him a king — Righ — and if it's 
for a woman he must call on the name of some other 
woman and call her a queen that is calling on the 
king or the queen of the plant. 

Fagan said toW.B. Yeats and to me: 
It's not from them the harm came to your eyes. 
I see them in all places — and there's no man mow- 
ing a meadow that doesn't see them at some time 
or other. As to what they look like, they'll change 
colour and shape and clothes while you look round. 
Bracket caps they always wear. There is a king 
and a queen and a fool in each house of them, that 
is true enough — but they would do you no harm. 
The king and the queen are kind and gentle, and 
whatever you'll ask them for they'll give it. 
They'll do no harm at all if you don't injure them. 
You might speak to them if you'd meet them on 

Seers and Healers 109 

the road, and they'd answer you, if you'd speak 
civil and quiet and show respect, and not be laugh- 
ing or humbugging — they wouldn't like that. One 
night I was in bed with the wife beside me, and the 
child near me, near the fire. And I turned and 
saw a woman sitting by the fire, and she made a 
snap at the child, and I was too quick for her and 
got hold of it, and she was at the door and out of 
it in one minute, before I could get to her. 

Another time in the field a woman came beside 
me, and I went on to a gap in the wall and she was 
in it before me. And then she stopped me and she 
said: "I'm your sister that was taken; and don't 
you remember how I got the fever first and you 
tended me, and then you got it yourself, and one 
had to be taken and I was the one." And she 
taught me the cure, and the way to use it. And 
she told me that she was in the best of places, and 
told me many things that she bound me not to tell. 
And I asked was it here she was kept ever since, 
and she said it was, but she said, "In six months 
I'll have to move to another place, and others will 
come where I am now, and it would be better for 
you if we stopped here, for the most of us here now 
are your neighbours and your friends." And it 
was she gave me the second sight. {Note 32.) 

Last year I was digging potatoes and a man 
came by, one of them, and one that I knew well 
before. And he said, "You have them this year, 
and we'll have them the next two years." And 
you know the potatoes were good last year and 

no Visions and Beliefs 

you see that they are bad now, and have been 
made away with. {Note 33.) And the sister told 
me that half the food in Ireland goes to them, but 
that if they like they can make out of cow-dung all 
they want, and they can come into a house and 
use what they like and it will never be missed in 
the morning. 

The old man suddenly stooped and took a hand- 
ful of hot ashes in his hand, and put them in his 
pocket. And presently he said he'd be afraid to- 
night going home the road. When we asked him 
why, he said he'd have to tell what errand he had 
been on. 

He said one eye of W. B. Y.'s was worse than the 
other, and asked if he had ever slept out at nights. 
We asked if he goes to enquire of them (the Others) 
what is wrong with those who came to him and he 
said, "Yes, when it has to do with their business — 
but in this case it has nothing to do with it." 
(Note 34.) 

Coneely said next day: 

I walked home with the old man last night, he 
was afraid to go by himself. He pointed out to me 
on the way a graveyard where he had got a great 
beating from them one night. He had a drop too 
much taken after being at a funeral, and he went 
there and gathered the plant wrong. And they 
came and punished him, that his head is not the 
better of it ever since. 

He told me the way he knows in the gathering 

Seers and Healers in 

of the plant what is wrong with the person that is 
looking for a cure. He has to go on his knees and 
say a prayer to the king and the queen and the 
gentle and the simple among them, and then he 
gathers it, and if there are black leaves about it, 
or white ones, but chiefly a black leaf folded down, 
he knows the illness is some of their business; but 
for this young man the plant came fresh and green 
and clean. He has been among them and has 
seen the king and the queen, and he says that 
they are no bigger than the others, but the queen 
wears a wide cap, and the others have bracket caps. 
He never would allow me to build a shed there 
beside the house, though I never saw anything 
there myself. 


y^\LI> DERUANE lived in the middle island of 
v^ Aran, Inishmaan, where I have stayed more 
than once. He was one of the evening visitors to the 
cottage I stayed in, when the fishers had come home 
and had eaten, and the fire was stirred and flashed 
on the dried mackerel and conger eels hanging over 
the wide hearth, and the little vessel of cod oil had a 
fresh wick put in it and lighted. The men would sit 
in a half -circle on the floor, passing the lighted pipe 
from one to another; the women would find some work 
with yarn or wheel. The talk often turned on the 
fallen angels or the dead, for the dwellers in those 
islands have not been moulded in that dogma which 
while making belief in the after-life an essential, 
makes belief in the shadow-visit of a spirit yearning 
after those it loved a vanity, a failing of the great 
essential, common sense, and sets down one who be- 
lieves in such things as what Burton calls in his 
Anatomy "a melancholy dizzard" 


/ was told by Old Deruane: 

I was born and bred in the North Island, and 
ten old fathers of mine are buried there. 

I can speak English, because I went to earn in 
England in the hard times, and I was for five 
quarters in a country town called Manchester; 
and I have threescore and fifteen years. 

I knew two fine young women were brought 
away after childbirth, and they were seen after 
in the North Island going about with them. One 
of them I saw myself there, one time I was out 
late at night going to the east village. I saw her 
pattern walking on the north side of the wall, on 
the road near me, but she said nothing. And my 
body began to shake, and I was going to get to the 
south side of the wall, to put it between us; but 
then I said, "Where is God?" and I walked on and 
passed her, and she looked aside at me but she 
didn't speak. And I heard her after me for a good 
while, but I never looked back, for it's best not 
to look back at them. 

And there was another woman had died, and 
one evening late I was coming from the school- 
master, for he and I are up to one another, and he 
often gives me charity. And then I saw her or her 
pattern walking along that field of rock you passed 

VOL. I— 8 113 

ii4 Visions and Beliefs 

by just now. But I stopped and I didn't speak to 
her, and she went on down the road, and when she 
was about forty fathoms below me I could hear her 
abusing some one, but no one there. I thought 
maybe it was that she was vexed at me that I 
didn't question her. She was a young woman too. 
I'll go bail they never take an old man or woman 
— what would they do with them? If by chance 
they'd come among them they'd throw them out 

Another night I was out and the moon shining, 
I knew by the look of it the night was near wore 
away. And when I came to the corner of the road 
beyond, my flesh began to shake and my hair rose 
up, and every hair was as stiff as that stick. So I 
knew that some evil thing was near, and I got 
home again. This island is as thick as grass with 
them, or as sand ; but good neighbours make good 
neighbours, and no woman minding a house but 
should put a couple of the first of the potatoes 
aside on the dresser, for there's no house but 
they'll visit it some time or other. Myself, I 
always brush out my little tent clean of a night 
before I lie down, and the night I'd do it most 
would be a rough night. How do we know what 
poor soul might want to come in? 

I saw them playing ball one day when the slip 
you landed at was being made, and I went down to 
watch the work. There were hundreds of them 
in the field at the top of it, about three feet tall, and 
little caps on them ; but the men that were working 

Seers and Healers 115 

there, they couldn't see them. {Note 35.) And 
one morning I went down to the well to leave my 
pampooties in it to soak — it was a Sabbath morn- 
ing and I was going to Mass — and the pampooties 
were hard and wore away my feet, and I left them 
there. And when I came back in a few minutes 
they were gone, and I looked in every cleft, but I 
couldn't find them. And when I was going away, 
I felt them about me, and coming between my two 
sticks that I was walking with. And I stopped and 
looked down and said, "I know you're there, " and 
then I said, "Gentlemen, I know you're here about 
me, " and when I said that word they went away. 
Was it they took my pampooties? Not at all — 
what would they want with such a thing as 
pampooties? It was some children must have 
taken them, and I never saw them since. 
I One time I wanted to settle myself clean, and I 
brought down my waistcoat and a few little things 
I have, to give them a rinse in the sea-water, and 
I laid them out on a stone to dry, and I left one of 
my sticks on them. And when I came back after 
leaving them for a little time, the stick was gone. 
And I was vexed at first to be without it, but I 
knew that they had taken it to be humbugging 
me, or maybe for their own use in fighting. For 
there is nothing there is more fighting among than 
them. So I said, " Welcome to it, Gentlemen, may 
it bring you luck; maybe you'll make more use of. 
it than ever I did myself." 

One night when I was sleeping in my little tent, 

n6 Visions and Beliefs 

I heard a great noise of fighting, and I thought it 
was down at Mrs. Jordan's house, and that maybe 
the children were troublesome in the bed, she 
having a great many of them. And in the morning 
as I passed the house I said to her, "What was on 
you in the night?" And she said there was 
nothing happened there, and that she heard no 
noise. So I said nothing but went on ; and when I 
came to the flag-stones beyond her house, they 
were covered with great splashes and drops of 
blood. So I said nothing of that either, but went 
on. What time of the year? Wait till I think, it 
was this very same time of the year, the month of 

One time I was out putting seed in the ground, 
and the ridges all ready and the seaweed spread in 
them; and it was a fine day, but I heard a storm in 
the air, and then I knew by signs that it was they 
were coming. And they came into the field and 
tossed the seaweed and the seed about, and I 
spoke to them civil and then they went in to a 
neighbour's field, and from that down to the sea, 
and there they turned into a ship, the grandest 
that ever I saw. 

There was a man on this island went out with 
two others fishing in his curragh, and when they 
were about a mile out they saw a ship coming 
towards them, and when they looked again, in- 
stead of having three masts she had none, and 
just when they were going to take up the curragh 
to bring it ashore, a great wave came and turned it 

Seers and Healers 117 

upside down. And the man that owned her got 
such a fright that he couldn't walk, and the other 
two had to hold him under the arms to bring him 
home. And he went to his bed, and within a week 
after, he was dead. 

One night I heard a crying down the road, and 
the next day, there was a child of Tom Regan's 
dead. And it was a few months after that, that I 
heard a crying again. And the next day another of 
his children was gone. 

There was a fine young man was buried in the 
graveyard below, and a good time after that, there 
was work being done in it, and they came on his 
coffin, and the mother made them open it, and 
there was nothing in it at all but a broom, and it 
tied up with a bit of a rope. 

There was a man was passing by that Sheoguy 
place below, "Breagh" we call it. And he saw a 
man come riding out of it on a white horse. And 
when he got home that night there was nothing for 
him or for any of them to eat, for the potatoes 
were not in yet. And in the morning he asked the 
wife was there anything to eat, and she said a 
neighbour had sent in a pan of meal. So she made 
that into stirabout, and he took but a small bit of 
it out of her hand to leave more for the rest. And 
then he took a sheet, and bid her make a bag of it, 
and he got a horse and rode to the place where he 
saw the man ride out, for he knew he was the 
master of them. And he asked for the full of the 
bag of meal, and said he'd bring it back again. 

n8 Visions and Beliefs 

when he had it. And the man brought the bag 
in, and filled it for him and brought it out again. 
And when the oats were ripe, the first he cut, he 
got ground at the mill and brought it to the place 
and gave it in. And the man came out and took 
it, and said whatever he'd want at any time, to 
come to him and he'd get it. 

In a bad year they say they bring away the 
potatoes and that may be so. They want provi- 
sion, and they must get them at one place or 

Mr. McArdle joins in and says: 

This I can tell you and be certain of, and I 
remember well that the man in the third house to 
this died after being sick a long time. And the 
wife died after, and she was to be buried in the 
same place, and when they came to the husband's 
coffin they opened it, and there was nothing in it 
at all, neither brooms nor anything else. 

There's a boy, I know him well, that was up at 
that forth above the house one day, and a blast of 
wind came and blew the hat of! him. And when 
he saw it going off in the air he cried out, "Do 
whatever is pleasing to you, but give me back my 
cap!" And in the moment it was settled back 
again on to his head. 

Old Deruane goes on: 

There are many can do cures, because they have 
something walking with them, what one may call a 

Seers and Healers 119 

ghost from among the Sheogue. A few cures I 
can do myself, and this is how I got them. I told 
you that I was for five quarters in Manchester, 
and where I lodged were two old women in the 
house, from the farthest end of Mayo, for they 
were running from Mayo at the time because of 
the hunger. And I knew that they were likely to 
have a cure, for St. Patrick blessed the places he 
was not in more than the places he was in, and 
with the cure he left and the fallen angels, there 
are many in Mayo can do them. 

Now it's the custom in England never to clean 
the table but once in the week and that on a Satur- 
day night. And on that night all is set out clean, 
and all the crutches of bread and bits of meat and 
the like are gathered together in a tin can, and 
thrown out in the street, and women that have 
no other way of living come round then with a bag 
that would hold two stone, and they pick up all 
that's thrown out in the street, and live on it for a 
week. And often I didn't eat the half of what was 
before me, and I wouldn't throw it out, but I'd 
bring it to the two old women that were in the 
house, so they grew very fond of me. 

Well, when the time came that I thought to 
draw towards home, I brought them one day to a 
public-house and made a drop of punch for them, 
and then I picked the cure out of them, for I was 
wise in those days. 

Those that get a touch I could save from being 
brought away, but I couldn't bring back a man 

120 Visions and Beliefs 

that's away, for it's only those that have been 
living among them for a while that can do that. 
There was a neighbour's child was sick, and I got 
word of it, and I went to the house, for the woman 
there had showed me kindness. And I went in to 
the cradle and I lifted the quilt off the child's face 
and you could see by it, and I knew the sign, that 
there was some of their work there. And I said, 
"You are not likely to have the child long with 
you, Ma'am." And she said, "Indeed I know I 
won't have him long." So I said nothing but I 
went out, and whatever I did, and whatever I got 
there, I brought it again and gave it to the child, 
and he began to get better. And the next day I 
brought the same thing again, and gave it the 
child, and I looked at it and I said to the mother, 
1 ' He'll live to comb his hair grey. ' ' And from that 
time he got better, and now there's no stronger child 
in the island, and he the youngest in the house. 

After that the husband got sick, and the woman 
said to me one day, "If there's anything you can 
do to cure him, have pity on me and on my children, 
and I'll give you what you'll wish." But I said, 
"I'll do what I can for you, but I'll take nothing 
from you except maybe a grain of tea or a glass of 
porter, for I wouldn't take money for this, and I 
refused £2 one time for a cure I did." So I went 
and I brought back the cure, and I mixed it with 
flour and made it into three little pills that it 
couldn't be lost, and gave them to him, and from 
that time he got well. 

Seers and Healers 121 

There's a woman lived down the road there, and 
one day I went in to the house, when she was after 
coming from Galway town, and I asked charity of 
her. And it was in the month of August when the 
bream fishing was going on, and she said, "There's 
no one need be in want now, with fresh fish in the 
sea and potatoes in the gardens"; and gave me 
nothing. But when I was out the door she said, 
1 ' Well, come back here. ' ' And I said, ' ' If you were 
to offer me all you brought from Galway, I 
wouldn't take it from you now. " 

And from that time she began to pine and to 
wear away and to lose her health, and at the end of 
three years, she walked outside her house one day, 
and when she was two yards from her own thresh- 
old she fell on the ground, and the neighbours 
came and lifted her up on a door and brought her 
into the house, and she died. 

I think I could have saved her then — I think 
I could, when I saw her lying there. But I 
remembered that day, and I didn't stretch out a 
hand and I spoke no word. 

I'm going to rise out of the cures and not to do 
much more of them, for they have given me a 
touch here in the right leg, so that it's the same 
as dead. And a woman of my village that does 
cures, she is after being struck with a pain in the 

Down by the path at the top of the slip from 
there to the hill, that's the way they go most 

122 Visions and Beliefs 

nights, hundreds and thousands of them. There 
are two old men in the island got a beating from 
them; one of them told me himself and brought 
me out on the ground, that I'd see where it was. 
He was out in a small field, and was after binding 
up the grass, and the sky got very black over him 
and very dark. And he was thrown down on the 
ground, and got a great beating, but he could see 
nothing at all. He had done nothing to vex them, 
just minding his business in the field. 

And the other was an old man too, and he was 
out on the roads, and they threw him there and 
beat him that he was out of his mind for a time. 

One night sleeping in that little cabin of mine, 
I heard them ride past, and I could hear by the 
feet of the horses that there was a long line of 

This is a story was going about twenty years 
ago. There was a curate in the island, and one 
day he got a call to the other island for the next 
day. And in the evening he told the servant maid 
that attended him to clean his boots good and 
very good, for he'd be meeting good people where 
he was going. And she said, " I will, Holy Father, 
and if you'll give me your hand and word to marry 
me for nothing, I'll clean them grand." And he 
said "I will; whenever you get a comrade I'll 
marry you for nothing, I give you my hand and 
word. " So she had the boots grand for him in the 
morning. Well, she got a sickness after, and after 

Seers and Healers 123 

seven months going by, she was buried. And six 
months after that, the curate was in his parlour one 
night and the moon shining, and he saw a boy and 
a girl outside the house, and they came to the 
window, and he knew it was the servant girl that 
was buried. And she said, "I have a comrade 
now, and I came for you to many us as you gave 
your word." And he said, "I'll hold to my word 
since I gave it," and he married them then and 
there, and they went away again. (Note 36.) 






" OOME friendly Teydmena, sorry to see my 
O suffering plight, said to me: 'This is because 
thou hast been eye-struck — what ! you do not under- 
stand 'eye-struck' ? Certainly they have looked in 
your eyes, Khalil. We have lookers (God cut them 
off!) among us, that with their only (malignant) 
eye-glances may strike down a fowl flying; and you 
shall see the bird tumble in the air with loud shrieking 
kdk-kd-kd-kd-kd. Wellah their looking can blast a 
palm-tree so that you shall see it wither away. 
These are things well ascertained by many faith- 
ful witnesses. " — Doughty' s Travels in the Arabian 

There is one visit I have always been a little re- 
morseful about. It was in Mayo where I had gone 
to see the broken walls and grass-grown hearthstone 
that remain of the house where Raftery the poet was 
born. I was taken to see an old woman near, and the 
friend who was with me asked her about "Those." 
I could see she was unwilling to speak, and I would 
not press her, for there are some who fear to vex in- 
visible hearers; so we talked of America where she 
had lived for a little while. But presently she said, 


128 Visions and Beliefs 

" All I ever saw of them myself was one night 
when I was going home, and they were behind 
in the field watching me. I couldn't see them but I 
saw the lights they carried, two lights on the top of a 
sort of dark oak pole. So I watched them and they 
watched me, and when we were tired watching one 
another the lights all went into one blaze, and then 
they went away and it went out." She told also one 
or two of the traditional stories, of the man who had a 
hump put on him, and the woman "taken" and 
rescued by her husband, who she had directed to seize 
the horse she was riding with his left hand. 

Then she gave a cry and took up her walking stick 
from the hearth, burned through, and in two pieces, 
though the fire had seemed to be but a smouldering 
heap of ashes. We were very sorry, but she said 
"Don't be sorry. It is well it was into it the harm 
went." I passed the house two or three hours after- 
wards; shutters and door were closed, and I felt that 
she was fretting for the stick that had been "to America 
and back with me, and had walked every part of the 
world, " and through the loss of which, it may be, she 
had "paid the penalty." 

I told a neighbour about the doctor having attended 
a man on the mountains — and how after some time, 
he found that one of the children was sick also, but 
this had been hidden from him, because if one had to 
die they wanted it to be the child. 

"That's natural," he said. "Let the child pay 
the penalty if it has to be paid. That's a thing that 
might happen easy enough" 

/ was told by M. McGarity; 

There was a boy of the Cloonans I knew was at 
Killinane thatching Henniff 's house. And a woman 
passed by, and she looked up at him, but she never 
said, "God bless the work." And Cloonan's 
mother was in the road to Gort and the woman 
met her and said, "Where did your son learn 
thatching? " And that day he had a great fall and 
was brought home hurt, and the mother 
went to Biddy Early. And she said, "Didn't 
a red-haired woman meet you one day going 
into Gort and ask where did your son learn 
thatching? And didn't she look up at him as 
she passed? It was then it was done." And 
she gave a bottle and he got well after a while. 
{Note 37.) 

Some say the evil eye is in those who were 
baptized wrong, but I believe it's not that, 
but if, when a woman is carrying, some one 
that meets her says, "So you're in that way," 
and she says, "The devil a fear of me," as 
even a married woman might say for sport or 
not to let on, the devil gets possession of the child 
at that moment, and when it is .born it has the 
evil eye. 

vol. 1—9 I2 9 

130 Visions and Beliefs 

Margaret Bartly: 

There was a woman below in that village where 
I lived to my grief and my sorrow, and she used 
to be throwing the evil eye, but she is in the poor- 
house now — Mrs. Boylan her name is. Four she 
threw it on, not children but big men, and they 
lost the walk and all, and died. Maybe she didn't 
know she had it, but it is no load to any one to say 
"God bless you." I faced her one time and told 
her it would be no load to her when she would see 
the man in the field, and the horses ploughing to 
say " God bless them, " and she was vexed and she 
asked did I think she had the evil eye, and I said 
I did. So she began to scold and I left her. That 
was five years ago, and it is in the poor-house in 
Ballyvaughan she is this two years; but she can do 
no harm there because she has lost her sight. 

Mrs. Nelly of Knockmogue : 

There was a girl lived there near the gate got 
sick. And after waiting a long time and she getting 
no better the mother brought in a woman that 
lived in the bog beyond, that used to do cures. 
And when she saw the girl, she knew what it was, 
and that she had been overlooked. And she said, 
" Did you meet three men on the road one day, and 
didn't one of them, a dark one, speak to you and 
give no blessing?" And she said that was so. 
And she would have done a cure on her, but we 
had a very good priest at that time, Father Hay den, 
a curate, and he used to take a drop of liquor and 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 131 

so he had courage to do cures. And he said this 
was a business for him, and he cured her, and the 
mother gave him money for it. 

It was by herbs that woman used to do cures, 
and whatever power she got in the gathering of 
them, she was able to tell what would happen. 
But she was in great danger all her life from 
gathering the herbs, for they don't like any one 
to be cured that they have put a touch on. 

Mrs. Clerey: 

I can tell you what happened to two sons of 
mine. A woman that passed by them said, 
"You've often threatened me by night, and my 
curse is on you now." And the one answered her 
back but the other didn 't. And after that they both 
took sick, but the one that didn't answer her was 
the worst. And they pined a long time. And I 
brought the one that was so bad over to Kilronan 
to the priest and he read over him. It was a lump 
in his mouth he had, that you could hardly put 
down a spoonful of milk, and there was a good 
doctor there and he sliced it, and he got well. 
But the priest often told me that but for what he 
did for him he would never have got well. For 
there's no doubt there's some in the world it's not 
well to talk with. 

The time my son got the pain, he came in roaring 
and said he got a stab in the knee. It was surely 
some evil thing that put it on him. There are 
some that have the evil eye, and that don't know 

132 Visions and Beliefs 

it themselves. Father McEvilly told me that. 
He said a woman that was carrying, and that was 
not married, but that got married while she was 
carrying, she might put the evil eye on you, and 
not know it at all. And he said anyway it would 
be no great load to say "God bless you" to any 
one you might meet. 

The priests can do cures if they like, but those 
that have stock don't like to be doing it, Father 
Folan won't do it, but Father McEvilly would. 

One time my brother got a great pain, and my 
father sent me to Father Gallagher, to ask could he 
cure and read the Mass of the Holy Ghost over 
him. But when I asked him he called out, "I 
won't do that, I won't read for any one." He was 
afraid to go as far as that for fear it might fall on 
his stock, that he had a great deal of. 

James Fdhey: 

Do you think the drohuil is not in other places 
besides Aran? My mother told me herself that 
she was out at a dance one evening, and there was 
a fine young man there and he dancing till he had 
them all tired ; and a woman that was sitting there 
said "He can do what he likes with his legs, " and 
at that instant he fell dead. My mother told me 
that herself, and she heard the woman say it, and 
so did many others that were there. 

Frank McDaragh: 

There's none can do cures well in this island 
like Biddy Early used to do. I want to know of 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 133 

some good man or woman in that line to go to, for 
that little girl of my own got a touch last week. 
Coming home from Mass she was, and she felt a 
pain in her knee, and it ran down to the foot and 
up again, and since then the feet are swelled, you 
might see them. 

Mrs. Meade: 

And about here they all believe in the faeries — 
and I hear them say — but I don't give much heed 
to it — that Mrs. Hehir the butcher's sister that 
died last week — but I don't know much about it. 
But anyhow she was married three years, and had 
a child every year, and this time she died. And 
when the coffin was leaving the house, the young 
baby began to scream, and to go into convulsions, 
for all the world as if it was put on the fire. 

Another says about this same woman, Mrs. 

It's overlooked she was when she went out for 
a walk with a scholar from the seminary that is 
going to be a priest, and she without a shawl 
over her head. It's then she was overlooked ; they 
seeing what a fine handsome woman she was, she 
was took away to be nurse to themselves. 

Mrs. Quade: 

A great pity it was about Mrs. Hehir and she 
leaving three young orphans. But sure they do be 
saying a great big black bird flew into the house 

134 Visions and Beliefs 

and around about the kitchen — and it was the 
next day the sickness took her. 

The Doctor: 

Mrs. Hehirs was a difficult case to diagnose, and 
I could not give it a name. At the end she was 
flushed and delirious; and when one of the women 
attending her said, " She looks so well you wouldn't 
think it was herself that was in it at all," I knew 
what was in their minds. Afterwards I was told 
that the day the illness began she had been churn- 
ing, and a strange woman came in and said, M Give 
me a hold of the staff and I'll do a bit of the 
churning for you. " But she refused and the woman 
said, "It's the last time you'll have the chance of 
refusing anyone that asks you" and went out, 
and she was not seen again, then or afterwards. 

J. Madden: 

There's one thing should never be done, and 
that's to say "That's a fine woman," or such a 
thing and not to say "God bless her." I never 
believed that till a man that lives in the next 
holding to my own told me what happened to a 
springer he had. She was as fine a creature as 
ever you seen, and one day a friend of his came in 
to see him, and when he was going away, "That's 
a grand cow," says he, but he didn't say "God 
bless it." Well, the owner of the cow went into 
the house and he sat down by the fire and lit a 
pipe, and when he had the pipe smoked out he 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 135 

came out again, and there she was lying down and 
not able to stir. So he remembered what happened 
and he went after his friend, and found him in 
a neighbour's house. And he brought him back 
with him, and made him go into the field and 
say, "God bless it," and spit on the cow. And 
with that she got up and walked away as well as 

John McManus: 

They can only take a child or a horse or such 
things through the eye of a sinner. If his eye 
falls on it, and he speaks to praise it and doesn't 
say "God bless it," they can bring it away then. 
But if you say it yourself in your heart, it will do 
as well. 

There was a man lived about a mile beyond 
Spiddal, and he was one day at a play, and he was 
the best at the hurling and the throwing and every 
game. And a woman of the crowd called out to 
him, "You're the straightest man that's in it." 
And twice after that a man that was beside him 
and that heard that said, saw him pass by with 
his coat on before sunrise. And on the fifth day 
after that he was dead. 

He left four or five sons and some of them went 
to America and the eldest of them married and was 
living in the place with his wife. And he was going 
to Galway for a fair, and his wife was away with 
her father and mother on the road to Galway and 

136 Visions and Beliefs 

she bid him to come early, that she'd have some 
commands for him to do. So it was before sunrise 
when he set out, and he was going over a little side 
road through the fields, and he came on the biggest 
fair he ever saw, and the most people in it. And 
they made a way for him to pass through and a 
man with a big coat and a tall hat came out from 
them and said, u Do you know me?" And he said, 
"Are you my father?" And the man said, "I am, 
and but for me you'd be sorry for coming here, but 
I saved you, but don't be coming out so early in 
the morning again." And he said, "It was a year 
ago that Jimmy went to America. And that was 
time enough." And then he said, "And it was 
you that drove your sister away, and gave her no 
fortune." And that was true enough. 

One time there was two brothers standing in a 
gap in that field you're looking at. And a woman 
passed by, I wouldn't like to tell you her name, for 
we should speak no evil of her and she's dead now, 
— the Lord have mercy on her. And when she 
passed they heard her say in Irish, "The devil 
take you," but whether she knew they were there 
or not, I don't know. And the elder of the brothers 
called out, "The devil take yourself as well. " But 
the younger one said nothing. And that night the 
younger one took sick, and through the night he 
was calling out and talking as if to people in the 
room. And the next day the mother went to a 
woman that gathered herbs, the mother of the 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 137 

woman that does cures by them now, and told her 
all that happened. 

And she took a rag of an old red coat, and went 
down to the last village, and into the house of the 
woman that had put it, the evil eye, on him. 
And she sat there and was talking with her, and 
watched until she made a spit on the floor, and 
then she gathered it up on the rag and came to the 
sick man in the bed and rubbed him with it, and 
he got well on the minute. 

It was hardly ever that woman would say " God 
bless the work" as she passed, and there were some 
would leave the work and come out on the road 
and hold her by the shoulder till she'd say it. 

A Man on the Boat: 

There are many can put on the drohuil. I knew 
a child in our village and a neighbour came in and 
said, "That's a fine child"; and no sooner was he 
gone than the child got a fit. So they brought 
him back and made him spit on the child and it 
got well after. Those that have that power, I 
believe it's born with them, and it's said they can 
do it on their own children as well as on ours. 

There was a boy called Faherty, nephew to 
Faherty that keeps the licensed house, and he was 
a great one for all games, and at every pattern, and 
whenever anything was going on. And one time 
he went over to Kilronan where they had some 
sports, and it the 24th of June. And they were 

138 Visions and Beliefs 

throwing the weight, and he took it up and he 
threw it farther than the police or any that were 
there; and the second time he did the same thing. 
And when he was going to throw it the third time, 
his uncle came to him and said "It's best for you 
to leave it now; you have enough done. " But he 
wouldn't mind him, and threw it the third time, 
and farther than they all. 

And the next year at that time on the 24th of 
June, he was stretched on his bed, and he died. 
And some one was talking about the day he did so 
much at Kilronan, and the father said : ' ' I remem- 
ber him coming into the house after that, and he 
put up his arm on the dresser as if there was some- 
thing ailed him." And the boy spoke from his 
bed and said, "You ought to have said 'God bless 
you' then. If my mother had been living then 
she'd have said it, and I wouldn't be lying here 

There were two other fine young men died in the 
same year, and one night after, the three of them 
appeared to a sick man, Jamsie Power,on the south 
island, and talked with him. But they didn't 
stay long because, they said, they had to go on to 
the coast of Clare. 

My own first-born child wasn't spared. He was 
born in February and all the neighbours said they 
never saw so fine a child. And one night towards 
the end of March, I was in the bed, and the child 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 139 

on my arm between me and the wall, sleeping warm 
and well, and the wife was settling things about 
the house. And when she got into bed, she wanted 
to take the child, and I said, ' ' Don't stir him, where 
he's so warm and so well"; but she took him in 
her own arm. And in the morning he was dead. 
And up to the time he was buried, you'd say he 
wasn't dead at all, so fresh and so full in the face 
he looked. 

There was a neighbour about the same time had 
a child and it was in the bed with them, but it was 
sick. And one night he was sure he heard some 
one say outside the house, "It's time he should be 
stretched out to me." So he got up and opened 
the window, and he threw a vessel of dirty water 
over whatever was outside, and he heard no more, 
and his child got well and grew up strong. 

An Island Woman: 

And there's some people the fishermen wouldn't 
pass when they are going to the boats, but would 
turn back again if they'd meet them. One day 
two boys of mine, Michael and Danny, were down 
on the rocks, bream-fishing with lines, and I had a 
job of washing with the wife of the head coast-' 
guard. But when it came to one o'clock something 
came over me, and I thought the boys might 
have got the hunger, and I went to Mrs. Patterson 
and said I must leave work for that day, and I 
went and bought a three-halfpenny loaf and 
brought it down to where they were fishing, and 

140 Visions and Beliefs 

when I got there I saw that Michael the younger 
one was limping, and I said, "It must be from the 
hunger you're not able to walk." "Oh, no," he 
said, "but it's a pain I got in my heel, and I can't 
put it to the ground. " And when we got home he 
went into his bed, and he didn't leave it for three 
months. And one day I said to him, "What was 
it happened you, did you meet any one on the road 
that day that said anything to you?" And he 
said, "I did, I met a woman of the village and she 
said, ' It's good to be you and to have a fine basket 
of bream,' and she said no more than that, and 
that very minute the pain came on my heel. But 
I won't tell you her name, for fear there'd be a 
row." But I made him tell me, and I promised 
never to say a word to her and I never did; but 
he's not the first she did that to. 

An Old Man with a Basket: 

They can put the drohuil here and I suppose in 
all parts, and you should watch not to let any one 
meet you unless they would say, "God bless you, " 
and spit. 

There was a woman in this island lost her walk 
for a year and a half, till they went to Galway to a 
woman that throws the cups, and she bid them go 
into the next house where there was a black man 
living, and give him tobacco to be smoking, and 
take up the spit and rub his leg. And she got well 
after that. 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 141 

There was another man in that island besides 
that neighbour of mine that would give the drohuil 
— the evil eye. Tom Griffith his name was. There 
was one Flanagan came back from Clare one day 
with three bonifs he bought there. And Griffith 
came out as he passed and said, "No better bonifs 
than those ever came into the island. " And when 
Flanagan came home, there was a little hill in the 
front of his house and two of them fell down against 
it on their side. And when Mrs. Flanagan came 
out to see the bonifs, there was only one of them 
living before her. 

There's a man in this island now puts the evil 
eye — the drohuil. It's about four years since I 
heard of him doing it last. There was a nice young 
woman he passed and he said, "You're the best 
walker in Aran." And that day she got a pain in 
her leg and she took to her bed, and there she lay 
for six months, and then she sent for him, and he 
was made — with respects to you — to throw a spit 
on her. And after that she got well and got up 
again. And there was a child died about the same 
time, and the friends said it was he did it. . Ned 
Buckley is his name. Devil a foot he ever goes to 
a wedding or such like; they wouldn't ask him, 
they'd be afraid of him. But he goes to Mass — at 
least he did in his bloom — but he's an old man now. 
Does the priest know about him? It's not likely 
he does. There's no one would like to go and make 
an attack on him like that. And anyway the 

14 2 Visions and Beliefs 

priests don't like any one to speak to them of such 
things, they'd sooner not hear about them. 

Mrs. Folan: 

There was one of my brothers overlooked, no 
doubt at all about that. He was the best rower of 
a canoe that ever was, and there was a match at 
Kin vara today and he won it, and there was a 
match at Ballyvaughan tomorrow and he was in 
it, and the foam was as high as mountains, that 
the hooker could hardly stand, and he won there. 
And when he was come to the pier and the people 
all running to carry him in their arms, the way the 
jockey is carried after a race, he was ruz up his 
own height off the ground, and no one could see 
what did it. 

He was wrong in the head after that, and he 
would sit by the hearth without speaking. My 
mother that would be out binding the wheat would 
say to me now and again " There he is coming 
across to us, " and she put it on me to think it, but 
I could see nothing, for it is not everyone can see 
those things. Then she would ask the father when 
we went in, did he stir from the fireside, and when 
he said he never stirred she knew it was his shadow 
she saw and that he had not long to live, and it 
was not long till he was gone. 

Mr. Stephens: 

There was a man coming along the road from 
Gort to Garryland one night, and he had a drop 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 143 

taken, and before him on the road he saw a pig 
walking. And having a drop in, he gave a shout 
and made a kick at it and bid it get out of that. 

And from the time he got home, his arm had 
swelled from the shoulder to be as big as a bag, and 
he couldn't use his hand with the pain in it. And 
his wife brought him after a few days to a woman 
that used to do cures at Rahasane. 

And on the road all she could do would hardly 
keep him from lying down to sleep on the grass. 
And when they got to the woman, she knew all 
that happened, and says she: "It's well for you 
that your wife didn't fall asleep on the grass, for if 
you had done that but for an instant, you'd be a 
gone man." 

Mrs. Casey: 

There was a woman lived near Ballinasloe and 
she had two children, and they both died, one after 
the other. And when the third was born, she 
consulted an old woman, and she said to watch the 
cradle all day where it was standing by the side of 
the fire. And so she did, and she saw a sort of a 
shadow come into it, and give the child a touch. 
And she came in, and drove it away. And the 
second day the same thing happened, and she was 
afraid that the third time the child would go, the 
same as the others. So she went to the old woman 
again, and she bid her take down the hanger from 
the chimney, and the tongs and the waistcoat of the 
child's father and to lay them across the cradle, 

144 Visions and Beliefs 

with a few drops of water from a blessed well. 
So she did all this and laid these three things in 
the cradle, but she saw the shadow or whatever it 
was come again, and she ran in and drove it away. 
But when she told the old woman she said " You 
need trouble yourself no more about it being 
touched or not, for no harm will come to it if you 
keep those three things on it for twelve days. " So 
she did that, and reared eight children after, and 
never lost one. 

An Old Woman from Kinvara: 

Did I know any one was taken? My own brother 
was, and no mistake about it. It was one day he 
was out following two horses with the plough, and 
it was about five o' clock, for a gentleman was 
passing when he got the touch, and one of his ten- 
ants asked him the time, and he said five o'clock. 
And what way it came I don't know, but he fell 
twice on the stones — God bless the hearers and the 
place I'm telling it in. And at ten o'clock the next 
morning he was dead in his bed. Young he was, 
not twenty year, and nothing ailed him when he 
went out, but the place he was ploughing in that 
day was a bad pass. Sure and certain I am it's by 
them he was taken. I used often to hear crying in 
the field after, but I never saw him again. 

A Connemara Woman: 

There was a boy going to America, and when 
he was going he said to the girl next door " Wher- 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 145 

ever I am, when you are married I'll come back to 
the wedding"; and not long after he went to 
America he died. And when the girl was married 
and all the friends and neighbours in the house, he 
appeared in the room, but no one saw him but his 
comrade he used to have here, and the girl's 
brother saw him too, but no one else. And the 
comrade followed him and went close to him and 
said, "Is it you indeed?" And he said, "It is, and 
from America I came tonight." And he asked, 
"How long did that journey take?" and he said, 
"Three-quarters of an hour," and then he went 
away. And the comrade was never the better of 
it, or he got the touch or the other called him, very 
true friends as they were, and he soon died. But 
the girl is now middle-aged and is living in that 
house we are just after passing and is married to 
one Kelly. 

Whether all that die go among them I can't say, 
but it is said they can take no one without the 
touch of a Christian hand, or the want of a bless- 
ing from a Christian that would be noticing them. 

A North Galway Woman : 

There are many young women taken in child- 
birth. I lost a sister of my own in that way. 

There's a place in the river at Newtown where 
there's stepping-stones in the middle you can get 
over by, and one day she was crossing, and there 
in the middle of the river, and she standing on a 
stone, she felt a blow on the face. And she looked 

VOL. I — 10 

146 Visions and Beliefs 

round to see who gave it and there was no one 
there, so then she knew what had happened, and 
she came to the mothers house, and she carrying 
at the time. I was a little slip at that time, with 
my books in my hand coming from school, and I 
ran in and said to my mother, "Here's Biddy 
coming, " and she said, " What would bring her at 
this time of day?" But she came in and sat down 
on a chair and she opened the whole story, and 
my mother said to quiet her, "It was only a pain 
in the ear you got, and you thought it was a blow." 
And she said, " I never got a blow that hurted me 
like that. " And the next day, and every day after 
that, the ear would swell a little in the afternoon, 
and then she began to eat nothing, and five minutes 
after her baby was born she died. And my mother 
used to watch for her for three or four years after, 
thinking she'd come back, but she never did. 

There was a forth near our house in Meath, and 
when I was a baby a woman was carrying me in 
her arms, and she walked down the four steps that 
led into it, and there was a nice garden around it, 
and she slipped and fell, and my cheek struck 
against one of the steps — you can see the mark 
yet that I got there. And the woman told my 
mother and said, "It's a wonder the child wasn't 
taken altogether then and there." 

One day I was out digging in the field for my 
brothers, and there was a sort of a half-ditch 
between the oats and the potatoes, and I was 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 147 

digging ^ down, and of a sudden a sleep came on 
me and I lay down. And I suppose I had been 
asleep about twenty minutes when I was waked 
with a hard clout on the face. And I thought it 
was one of my brothers and I called out, "You 
have no right to give me a clout like that. " But 
my brother was away down the field, and came 
when he heard me calling. And I felt a pain in my 
side as well, and I went into the house and didn't 
leave it for two months after with pleurisy, and 
the pain never left me till after I was married. 
I suppose I must have been on some way of 
theirs, or some place that belonged to them and 
that was known to be an enchanted place, and 
my father used often to see it lighted up with 

A Man Herding Sheep: 

I'll tell you now what happened to a little one 
of my own. She was just five years. And the day 
I'm speaking of she was running to school down 
the path before me, as strong and as funny as the 
day she was born, and laughing and looking back 
at me. And that night she went to bed as well as 
ever she was. And it was about eleven o'clock 
in the night she awoke and gave a great cry, and 
she said there was a great pain in her knee, and it 
was in no other part of her. And in the morning 
she had it yet, and her walk had gone, and I lifted 
her and brought her out into the street, and she 
couldn't walk one step if you were to give her the 

148 Visions and Beliefs 

three isles of Aran. And she lived for two nights 
after that. 

When the doctor came and I told him, he said 
it was the strangest case he ever heard of, and the 
schoolmistress said, "I thought if I'd brought that 
child to the hill beyond and threw her down into 
the sea it would do her no harm, she was that 

But if such things happen, it happened to her, 
and touched she was. It was not death, it was 
being took away. 

An Old Woman in an Aran village: 

I'll tell you what happened a son of my own 
that was so strong and so handsome and so good a 
dancer, he was mostly the pride of the island. And 
he was that educated that when he was twenty-six 
years, he could write a letter to the Queen. And 
one day a pain came in the thigh, and a little lump 
came inside it, and a hole in it that you could 
hardly put the point of a pin in, and it was always 
drawing. And he took to his bed and was there 
for eleven months. And every night when it 
would be twelve o'clock, he would begin to be 
singing and laughing and going on. And what the 
neighbours said was, that it was at that hour there 
was some other left in his place. I never went to 
any one or any witchcraft, for my husband wouldn't 
let me but left it to the will of God ; and anyway at 
the end of the eleven months he died. 

And his sister was in America, and the same 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 149 

thing came to her there, a little lump by the side of 
the face, and she came home to die. But she died 
quiet and was like any other in the night. 

And a daughter-in-law of mine died after the 
second birth, and even the priest said it was not 
dead she was, he that was curate then. I was 
surprised the priest to say that, for they mostly 
won't give in to it, unless it's one that takes a drop 
of drink. 

An Old Man in the Kitchen: 

I had a son that it was mostly given in to in 
Aran to be the best singer to give out a couple of 
verses, so that he'd hardly go out of the house but 
some one would want to be bringing him into 
theirs. And he took sick of a sudden, with a pain 
in the shoulder. I went to the doctor and he says, 
"Does your wife take tea?" "She does when she 
can get it;" says I, and he told me then to put the 
spout of the kettle to where the pain was. And 
after that he went to Galway Hospital, but he got 
no better there and a Sister of Mercy said to him 
at last, "I'm thinking by the look of you, your 
family at home is poor." "That's true enough," 
says he. Then says she : "It's best for you to stop 
here, and they'll be free from the cost of burying 
you. " But he said he'd sooner go die at home, if 
he had but two days to live there. So he came back 
and he didn't last long. It's always the like of 
him that's taken, that are good for singing or 
dancing or for any good thing at all. And young 

150 Visions and Beliefs 

women are often taken in that way, both in the 
middle island and in this. 

Patrick Madden: 

I'll tell you how I lost the first son I had. He 
was just three years old and as fine and as strong 
as any child you'd see. And one day my wife said 
she'd bring the child to her mother's house to stop 
the evening with her, for I was going out. And 
there was a neighbour of ours, a man that lived 
near us, and no one was the better of being spoken 
to by him. And as they were passing his house he 
came out, and he said, "That's the finest child 
that's in the island." And a woman that was 
passing at the same time stopped and said, "It 
was the smallest that ever I saw the day it was 
born, God bless it. " And the mother knew what 
she meant, and she wanted to say "God bless 
him, " but it was like as if a hand took and held her 
throat, and choked her that she couldn't say the 
words. And when I came to the mother's house, 
and began to make fun with the child, I saw a 
round mark on the side of his head, the size of a 
crown piece. And I said to the wife," Why would 
you beat the child in the head, why don't you get 
a little rod to beat him if he wants it?" And she 
said that she had never touched him at all. 

And at that time I was very much given to 
playing cards, and that night I went out to a 
friend's house to play. And the wife before she 
went to bed broiled a bit of fish and put it on a 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 151 

plate with potatoes, and put it in a box in the 
room, for fear it might be touched by a cat or a 
rat or such like. But I was late coming in and 
didn't mind to eat it. And the next night I was 
out again. And when we were playing cards we'd 
play first with tobacco and we'd go on to tea, and 
we'd end up with whiskey. And the next morning 
when the wife opened the box she laughed and she 
said "You didn't drink your tea when you were 
out last night, for I see you have your dinner 
eaten." And I said, "Why should you say that? 
I never touched it." And she held up the plate 
and showed me that the potatoes were taken off 
it ; but the fish wasn't touched, for it was a bit of 
a herring and salty. 

Well, the child was getting sick all the day, and 
I didn't go out that evening. And in the night we 
could hear the noise as if of scores of rats, going 
about the room. And every now and again I 
struck a light, but so soon as the light was in it 
we'd hear nothing. But the noise would begin 
again as soon as it was dark, and sometimes it 
would seem as if they came up on the bed, and I 
could feel the weight of them on my chest as if 
they would smother me. 

And in the morning I chanced to open the box 
where the dinner used to be put, and it as big a box 
as any in Aran, and when I opened it I saw it was 
all full of blood, up the sides and to the top, that 
you couldn't put your hand in without it getting 
bloody. I said nothing but shut the lid down again. 

152 Visions and Beliefs 

But after, when I came into the house, I saw the 
wife rubbing at it with a thing they call flannel 
they got at Killinny, and I asked her what was 
she doing, and she said, "I'm cleaning the box, 
where it's full of blood." And after that I gave 
up the child and I had no more hope for its life. 
But if they had told me that about the neighbour 
speaking to him, I'd have gone over, and I'd have 
killed him with my stick, but I'd have made him 
come and spit on him. After that we didn't hear 
the noise the same again, but we heard like the 
sound of a clock all through the night and every 
night. And the child got a swelling under the feet, 
and he couldn't put a foot to the ground. But 
that made little difference to him, for he didn't 
hold out a week. 

I lost another son after — but he died natural, 
there was nothing of that sort. And I have one 
son remaining now, and one day he went to sleep 
out in a field and that's a bad thing to do. And 
the sister found him there, and when she woke him 
he couldn't get up hardly, or move his hand, and 
she had to help him to the house. 

Pat Doherty: 

I know a gentleman too got the touch, one of the 
Butlers. It was on a day he made a great leap he 
got it. And he went to the bed and for three or 
four days he couldn't stir, and red marks came 
out over him shaped like a bow. And then I went 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 153 

for the priest and brought him to see him, and 
when he heard of the marks, "I'm as bad as that 
myself," he said, making fun ; " for I'm after making 
a journey in a curragh." But when the clothes 
were stripped back and he saw his skin, "Oh, mur- 
der!" he said, and he put on his stole and got out 
a book. And he said, "Did you hear what I did 
to the man at Iona? He went to the well with a tin 
can for water, and when he got to the well, a few 
yards away from it, it was spilled. And he went 
back and filled it again, and the second time at the 
well it was spilled, and he fell along with it, and he 
got a little cut in the fall, and he began to bleed, 
and all the people said as much blood as would be 
in three men came away from him. And they sent 
for me, and the minute I came the bleeding stopped, 
and he was all right again and the cut closed up. " 

And then he put his head down and what he 
read I don't know, but he hardly got to the turn 
of the road outside the house, when the boy stood 
up from the bed and asked for something to eat. 

Another time I was drawing turf that came in 
the boats from Connemara to Kilronan pier. And 
of a sudden there came a swelling in my arm, and 
it was next day the size of an egg, and it turned 
black. And I couldn't lift the arm, and Healy the 
coast-guard said to me to go to Doctor Lydon. 
And I said I would, but in the way I met with 
Father Jordan and I showed it to him. And he 
said; "What do you want with your Healy and 

154 Visions and Beliefs 

your Lydons? Let me see it. " And he pressed his 
hand on it two or three times like that, and the 
swelling began to go, and when I got home they 
were clearing weed on the shore, and I was able 
to go down and to give them a hand with it. 

A Piper: 

There was a cousin of my own used to feel some 
heavy thing coming on him in the bed in the night 
time. And he went to the friars at Esker to take 
it off of him, and they took it off. But Father 
Williams said, " If this is gone from you some other 
thing will be put on you." And sure enough it 
wasn't a twelvemonth after, he was carting planks 
and the horse fell, and the planks fell on his foot 
and broke it in two pieces. And after that again 
he got a fall, over some stones, and he died with 
throwing off blood. 

I had a fall myself in Galway the other day that 
I couldn't move my arm to play the pipes if you 
gave me Ireland. And a man said to me — and 
they are very smart people in Galway — that two 
or three got a fall and a hurt in that same place. 
"There is places in the sea where there is drown- 
ing, " he said, "and places on the land as well where 
there do be accidents, and no man can save himself 
from them, for it is the Will of God. " 

Mrs. Scanlon: 

Some people call Mrs. Tobin "Biddy Early." 
She has done a good many cures. Her brother 
was away for a while and it was from him 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 155 

she got the knowledge. I believe that it's before 
sunrise that she gathers the herbs, anyway no 
one ever saw her gathering them. (Note 38.) 
She has saved many a woman from being brought 
away when their child was born, by whatever 
she does. She told me herself that one night 
when she was going to the lodge gate to at- 
tend the woman there, three magpies came 
before her and began roaring into her mouth, 
to try to drive her back. Father Folan must 
know about her, but he is a dark man and 
says nothing, and anyway the priests know as 
much, and are as much in dread as any one 

I wish I had sent for her for my own little boy. 
It's often he asked me to bring him to the friars 
at Loughrea. But he never would tell how or 
where he got the touch. It came like a lump in the 
back, and he got weaker and smaller till you could 
put him into a tin can, and he twenty years. Often 
I asked him about it, but he'd say nothing. I 
believe that they are afraid to tell or they would 
be worse treated. I asked him was it at the jump- 
ing, for they used to be jumping over a pole, and 
he said it was not, and that he never took a jump 
that was too much for him. 

But some that saw his back said he had been 
beat. And when the Doctor came in to see him, 
he was lying on the bed, and he turned him over 
and looked at him and said, "If he had all Lady 
Gregory's estate he couldn't live a week." And 
sure enough within five days he died. And many 

156 Visions and Beliefs ' 

of the neighbours said they never heard such a 
storm of wind as rose about the house that night. 
I never saw him since, and I went late and early, in 
the mill and down by the river. But it's maybe a 
hundred or two hundred miles he was brought 

Tom Flatley: 

There is a priest now, a curate down in Clough- 
more, is doing great cures. There is often silence 
between him and the parish priest, Father Rock, 
for he wouldn't like him to be doing them. There 
was a little chap went to bed one night as well as 
yourself, and in the morning he rose up with one 
of his ears as deaf as that he wouldn't hear you if 
he died. And the mother brought him to Father 
Dolan and he came out as well as ever he was. It 
was but a fortnight ago that happened, and I 
didn't hear did the misfortune fall on any of the 

But wherever there is a cure something will go, 
and what would a sheep or a heifer be beside a 
misfortune on a child? 

There was a priest near Ennis, a woman I knew 
went to for a cure, and he wouldn't do it. u Tha 
me bocht," he said, "I am poor, but I will not do 
it." "I will pay you well," said the woman. "I 
will not do it," said he, "for my heart was killed 
two years ago with one I did. And it isn't money 
I'd ask of you if I did it," he said, "but to offer 
you my blessing and the blessing of God." 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 157 

Mrs. Casey: 

There was a woman down by the sea that had a 
very severe time when her baby was born, and 
they did not think she or the baby would live after. 
So the husband went and brought Father Rivers 
and he said, "Which would you sooner lose — the 
wife or the child — for one must go?" And the 
husband said, ' ' If the wife is taken I might as well 
close the door." And then Father Rivers said, 
"She's going up and down like the swinging of a 
clock, but for all that I'll strive to keep her for 
you, but maybe you must lose two or more." 
So he read some prayers over her, and the next 
day the baby died, and a fine cow out in the field, 
but the woman recovered and is living still. But 
Father Rivers died within two years. They never 
live long when they do these cures, because that 
they say prayers that they ought not to say. 

There's Father Heseltine of Killinan has lost 
his health and no person knows where he is. They 
say he's gone abroad because he did a cure on one 
of his sisters. 

Mrs. Cassilis: 

A young mare I lost. It was on the 15th August, 
something came on it in the field, and it did no 
good, and the son was tending it. And on S. 
Colman's Day he was taken with a weakness in 
the chapel that they had to bring him home, and 
he did not go fasting to the chapel. He got well, 

158 Visions and Beliefs 

but the mare died. I didn't mind that, I knew 
something must go, and it was better the mare 
to go than the son. 

There were many said, the mare not to have 
died there would be no chance for him. So I am 
well content, for whatever way we'll struggle we 
might get another mare. But a person to go, 
there is no one for you to get in his place. 

A County Galway Magistrate: 

That time I was laid up at Luke Manning's they 
sent for Father Heseltine to "read a gospel" over 
me. He said when he came in, "You'll lose some- 
thing tonight." I heard him say this, but what 
he read over me I don't know, it seemed a sort of 
muttering. At all events I got well after it, and 
the next morning, a sheep was found dead. 

Pat Hayden: 

My father was gardener here at Coole in the 
time of Mr. Robert's grandfather. He was sick 
one time, and he thought to go to the friars at 
Esker for a cure, and he asked Mr. Gregory for the 
loan of a horse, and he bade him to take it. So he 
saddled and bridled the horse, and he set out one 
morning and went to the friars, and whatever they 
did they cured him, and he came back again. But 
in the morning the horse was found dead in the 
stable. I suppose whatever they took off him 
they put upon the horse. And when Mr. Gregory 
came out in the morning, "How is Pat?" he says 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 159 

to one of the men. "Pat is well," says he, "but 
the horse he brought with him is dead in the 
stable." "So long as Pat is well," said Mr. 
Gregory, "I wouldn't mind if five horses in the 
stable were dead." 

Mrs. Manning: 

There was a friar in Esker could do cures. Many 
I've seen brought to him tied in a cart, and able 
to walk home after. Father Callaghan he was. 
There was one man brought to him, wrong in his 
head he was, and he cured him and he gave him 
some sort of a Gospel rolled up, and bid him to 
put it about his neck, and never to take it off. 
Well, he went to America after that and was as 
well as another and got work, and sent home £10 
one time to Father Callaghan he was that grateful 
to him. 

But one day in America he was shaving, and 
whether he cut the string or that he took it off I 
don't know, but he laid the charm down on a table. 
And when he looked for it again, if he was to burn 
the house down he couldn't find it. And it all came 
back on him again, and he was as bad as he was 

So the wife wrote home to Father Callaghan, 
and he sent out another thing of the same sort; 
and bid him wear it, and from the time he put it on, 
he got well again. A priest has the power to do 
cures, but if he does he can keep nothing, one thing 
will die after another. 

160 Visions and Beliefs 

Biddy Early could do the same thing, she had 
to cast the sickness on some other thing — it might 
be a dog or a goat or a bird. 

Priests can do cures if they will, but they are 
afraid to do them because their stock will die, and 
because they are afraid of loss in the other world as 
well as in this. There's a neighbour of your own 
lost his milch cow the other day for a small one 
he did, — Father Mulhall that is. 

There was Father Rivers was called in to a woman 
that was bad, between Roxborough and Dunsandle. 
And he said to the father," Which would you sooner 
keep, the wife or the child?" And he said, "Sure 
I'd sooner have the wife than all the children of the 
world. " So Father Rivers went in and cured her 
so that she got well, but he put whatever she had 
on the son, so that he grew up an idiot. Harmless 
he used to be, not doing much. Well, when he 
came to twenty years, the mother said, "Come 
outside into the field, and cut the eyes of a few 
stone of potatoes for me." But he took up the 
graip that was at the door and made at her to kill 
her. And she ran in and shut the door, and then 
he made for the window and broke it. And at that 
time Mr. Singleton from Ceramina was passing 
by, and he stopped and called some men and they 
took him and took the graip from him, and he was 
brought away to Ballinasloe Asylum, but he didn't 
live more than six months after. Waiting all that 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 161 

time he was to do his revenge, but hadn't the 
power to do it till the twenty years were up. 

There is a man that is living strong and well in 
the village of Lochlan and that has sixteen or 
seventeen children, and one time something came 
on him and he wore away till there was no more 
strength in him than in that thraneen. And there 
was an old woman used to be doing cures with 
herbs, and he sent for her, and she went out into 
the field and she picked two or three leaves of a 
plant she knew of. And as she was carrying it 
through the fields to the house she fell dead. 

And his strength came back to him when the 
death fell on her and he was as well and as strong 
as ever he was. I will bring you three of those 
leaves if I have to walk two miles — three-cornered 
leaves they are (penny royal). No harm will come 
upon me, for I am nothing but an old hag. Before 
sunrise they must be picked, and the best day to 
do it is a Friday. 

An Old Army Man : 

I knew a man had charms for headache and for 
toothache and other things, and he did a great 
many cures, but all his own children began to die. 
So then he put away the charms, and made a 
promise not to do cures for others again ; and after 
that he lost no more children. 

Priests can do cures as well as Biddy Early did, 
and there was a man of the neighbours digging 

TOL. I — II 

162 Visions and Beliefs 

potatoes in that field beyond, and a woman passed 
by, and she never said anything. And presently 
the top of his ringers got burned off, and he called 
out with the pain, a blast he got from her as she 
passed. Often he'd come into this house, and 
crying out with the hurt of the pain. And at last 
he went to the priests at Esker, and they cured 
him, but they said, "Your own priests could have 
done the same for you. " And when he came back 
there were two cows dead. 

And the same thing when Carey's wife — that is a 
tenant of your own — was sick, they called in 
Father Gardiner and he cured her, and he told 
them to watch by her for two or three days. And 
then the priest went out to see the stabling, and 
Carey with him, for Carey had always a pair of 
good horses. And when they went into the stable, 
the horses were dead before them. 

It was Flaherty gave his life for my sister that 
was his wife. When she fell sick he brought her to 
Biddy Early in the mountains beyond. And she 
cured her the first time. But she said, "If you 
bring her again, you'll pay the penalty." But 
when she fell sick again he brought her, but he 
stopped a mile from the house. But she knew it 
well, and told the wife where he was, and that time 
the horse died. But the third time she fell sick 
he went again, knowing full well he'd pay the 
penalty; and so he did and died. But she was 
cured; and married one O'Dea afterwards. 

Evil Eye — Touch — Penalty 163 

The priests know well about these things, but 
they won't let on to have seen them, and the people 
don't much like to be telling them about them. 
But there was Father Gallagher that did cures by- 
means of them, and at last he got a touch himself, 
and was sent for a while to an asylum, and now he 
has promised to leave them alone. Fallen angels 
some say they are. I know a man that saw them 
hurling up there in Hanlon's field. Red caps they 
wore and looked very diminutive, but they were 
hurling away like Old Boots. 

The way the bad luck came on Tom Hurley was 
when a cow fell sick on him and lay like dead. He 
had a right to leave it or to kill it ; but the father- 
in-law cut a bit off the leg of it and it rose again, 
and they sold it for seven pounds at the fair of 
Tubber. But he had no luck since then, but lost 
four or five head of cattle, near all that he owned. 

There was a man did a cure on his son that 
came from America sick. He didn't like to see him 
ailing, and one night he did the cure. But before 
sunrise the sight of one of his eyes was gone. 

A Mountainy Man: 

There's some people living about three miles 
from here on Slieve-Mor, and they came from the 
North at the time of the famine, and they can do 
cures, but they don't like to say much about it — 
for the people of the North all have it. Their 

164 Visions and Beliefs 

names are natural, McManus, and Irwin and 
Taylor. There's one of them gave a cure for a 
man that was sick, and he grew better, but a calf 
died. And the son was going to him again, but the 
mother said: "Let him alone, let him die, or we'll 
lose all the stock"; for she'd sooner have the 
husband die than any other beast. So the son was 
out and he met the man, and he said, "It is to me 
you're coming?" And the son said it was, for he 
didn't like to tell about what his mother said or 
about the death of the calf. So the man got him a 
bottle, and said he'd come home with him, but 
when they were on the road they met some one 
that spoke of the death of the calf. So when the 
man heard that, he was angry and he said, "If I 
knew that I wouldn't have helped you," and he 
broke the bottle against the wall. So the father 
died, and the wife kept the stock — a very unkind 
woman she was. 

There was a woman of my village never put a 
shoe on her feet from the time of her birth till the 
time of her death. Doing a penance she said she 
was. And she never married and would never eat 

As to cures, there's none can do them like the 
priests can, if they will. There was a woman I 
knew, and her little boy was sick and couldn't 
move. And she got the priest to come and do a 
cure on him, but no one knew what he did. And 

Evil Eye— Touch — Penalty 165 

often he said to the woman : "You have a horse and 
a pony, and which do you value the most?" And 
she said she valued the pony the most. And next 
day the horse had died, but the little boy got well. 

A Man of the Islands: 

There's an old woman here now — there she is 
passing the road — that does cures with herbs. But 
last year she got a sore hand and she had to go to 
the hospital, and before she came back they took 
two ringers off her. And there's no luck about 
bone-setters either. There's one here on the 
island and a good many go to him. But he had 
but one son and he never did any good, and now 
he's gone away from him. 

John Curtis: 

When Father Callan was a curate he did a cure 
for me one time for my cattle, and I gave him half 
a sovereign in his hand for it, in this road. It was 
the time I had so much trouble, and my brothers 
trying to rob me, and but for our landlord I would- 
n't have kept the farm. And all my stock began to 
die. There was hardly a day I'd come out but 
I'd see maybe two or three sheep lying there in the 
field with froth at their mouths, and they turning 
black. The same thing was happening Tommy 
Hare's stock, and he went to Father Callan 
and he came to the house and read some sort of a 
Mass and took the sickness off them. So then I 
went to him myself, and he said he'd read a Mass 

166 Visions and Beliefs 

in the chapel for me, and so he did. And the stock 
were all right from that time, and the day he came 
to see them and that I gave him the money, there 
ran a dog out of Roche's house and came behind 
the priest and gave him a bite in the leg, that he 
had to go to Dublin to cut it out. Why did the 
dog do it? He did it because he was mad when he 
saw the stock getting well. And weren't the 
Roches queer people that they wouldn't kill the 
dog when the priest wanted it, the way he'd be 
in no danger if the dog would go mad after? 





PWYLL, Prince of Dyved . . . let loose the dogs 
in the wood and sounded the horn and began 
the chase. And as he followed the dogs he lost his 
companions; and while he listened to the hounds he 
heard the cry of other hounds, a cry different from his 
own, and comingin the opposite direction. . . . And 
he saw a horseman coming towards him on a large 
light-grey steed with a hunting horn round his neck, 
and clad in garments of grey woollen in the fashion 
of a hunting garb, and the horseman drew near and 
spoke to him thus: ... "A crowned King I am 
in the land whence I come . . . . There is a man 
whose dominions are opposite to mine, who is ever 
warring against me, and by ridding me of this op- 
pression which thou can'st easily do, shalt thou gain 
my friendship. 11 il Gladly will I do this, 11 said he. 
* ' Show me how I may. w "I will show thee. Behold, 
thus it is thou may est. I will send thee to Annwyvn 
in my stead, and I will give thee the fairest lady thou 
didst ever befrold to be thy companion, and I will put 
my form and semblance upon thee, so that not a page 
of the chamber nor an officer nor any other man that 
• 169 

170 Visions and Beliefs 

has always followed me shall know that it is not I. 
And this shall be for the space of a year from tomor- 
row and then we will meet in this place. " . . . 
"Verily," said Pwyll, "what shall I do concerning 
my kingdom ? ' ' Said A rawn : " I will cause that no 
one in all thy dominions, neither man nor woman, 
shall know that I am not thou, and I will go there 
in thy stead." — "The Mabinogion." > 

/ was told by a Man of Slieve Ecktge: 
That girl of the Cohens that was away seven 
year, she was bid tell nothing of what she saw, but 
she told her mother some things and told of some 
she met there. There was a woman — a cousin of 
my own — asked was her son over there, and she 
had to press her a long time, but at last she said 
he was. And he was taken too with little provoca- 
tion, fifty years ago. We were working together, 
myself and him and a lot of others, making that 
trench you see beyond, to drain the wood. And it 
was contract work, and he was doing the work of two 
men and was near ready to take another piece. And 
some of them began to say to him, ' ' It's a shame for 
you to be working like that, and taking the bread 
out of the hands of another, " and I standing there. 
And he said he didn't care, and he took the spade 
and sent the scraws out flying, to the right and to 
the left. And he never put a spade into the ground 
again, for that night he was taken ill, and died 
shortly after. Watched he was, and taken by them. 

As to the woman brought back again, it was 
told me by a boy going to school there at the 


172 Visions and Beliefs 

time, so I know there's no lie in it. It was one of 
the Taylors, a rich family in Scariff . His wife was 
sick and pining away for seven years, and at the end 
of that time one day he came in he had a drop of 
drink taken, and he began to be a bit rough with her. 
And she said, ' ' Don't be rough with me now, after 
bearing so well with me all these seven years. But 
because you were so good and so kind to me all that 
time, " says she, "I'll go away from you now and I'll 
let your own wife come back to you. " And so she 
did, for it was some old hag she was, and the wife 
came back again and reared a family. And before 
she went away, she had a son that was reared a 
priest, and after she came back, she had another 
son that was reared a priest, so that shows a bless- 
ing came on them. (Note 39.) 

A Man on the Beach: 

I remember when a great many young girls 
were taken, it is likely by them. And two year 
ago two fine young women were brought away 
from Aranmor one in a month and one in a week 
after the birth. And lately I heard that her own 
little girl and another little girl that was with her 
saw one of them appear in a cabin outside when 
she came to have a look at the child she left, but 
she didn't want to appear herself. 

John Flatley: 

There was a man I knew, Andy White, had a little 
chap, a little summach of four years. And one 

Away 173 

day Andy was away to sell a pig in the market at 
Mount Bellew, and the mother was away someplace 
with the dinner for the men in the field, and the 
little chap was in the house with the grandmother, 
and he sitting by the fire. And he said to the 
grandmother: "Put down a skillet of potatoes for 
me, and an egg." And she said: "I will not; 
what do you want with them, sure you're not long 
after eating." And he said, "Take care but I'll 
throw you over the roof of the house. " And then 
he said, "Andy" — that was his father — "is after 
selling the pig to a jobber, and the jobber has it 
given back to him again, and he'll be at no loss by 
that, for he'll get a half-a-crown more at the end. " 
So when the grandmother heard that she wouldn't 
stop in the house with him but ran out, and he 
only four years old. 

When the mother came back and was told about 
it she went out and she got some of the leaves of 
the Lus-Mor, and she brought them in and put 
them on him; and he went, and her own child 
came back again. They didn't see him going or 
the other coming, but they knew it by him. But 
if her child had died among them, and they can 
die there as well as in this world, then he wouldn't 
come back, but that shape in his place would take 
the appearance of death. 

Mrs. Cooke: 

There's a man in Kildare that lost his wife. 
And every night at twelve o'clock she came back, 

174 Visions and Beliefs 

to look at her child. And it was told the husband 
that if he had twelve men with him with forks when 
she came in, they would be able to stop her from 
going out again. 

So the next night he was there, and with him his 
twelve friends with forks. And when she came 
in they shut the door, and when she could not get 
out she sat down and was quiet. 

And one night she was sitting by the hearth 
with them all, she said to her husband, "It's a 
strange thing that Lenchar would be sitting there 
so quiet, with the bottom after being knocked out 
of his churn. " 

So the husband went to Lenchar's house, and he 
found it was true what she had said, and the bot- 
tom was after being knocked out of his churn. 
But after that he left her, and lived in the village 
and wouldn't go near her any more. 

Myself, I saw when I was but a child a woman 
come to the door that had been seven years with 
the good people, but do you think that could be 
true? And she had two strong girls with her. 
My brother was ill at the time, where he had his 
hip hurt with the shaft of a cart he was backing 
into the shed, and my father asked her could she 
cure him. And she said, "I will, if you will give 
me the reward I ask for." "What is that?" said 
he. And she stooped down and pointed at a little 
kettle that stood below the dresser, and it was the 
last thing my mother had bought in this world 

Away 175 

before she died. So he was vexed because she cast 
her eye on that, and he bid her go out of the house 
for she wouldn't get it, and so she went away. 

But I remember well her being there and telling 
us that while the seven years were going by, she 
was often glad to come outside the houses in the 
night-time, and pick a bit of what was in the pigs' 
troughs. And she bid us always to leave a bit 
somewhere about the house for them that couldn't 
come in and ask for it. And though my father 
was a cross man and didn't believe in such things, 
to the day of his death he never dared to go up to 
bed without leaving a bit of food outside the door. 
{Note 40.) 

A Herd: 

The McGarritys in the house beyond, they 
have plenty of money. It was money they got 
out, buried money, and they are after them. 

There is one of them — Ned — is rather silly; 
I meet him often on the farm stretched by the 
side of the wall. He met with something one 
night and he is not the same since then. 

There is another of them was walking one 
evening by the brink of the bushes and he met 
with two fillies — he thought them to be fillies — 
and one of them called out, "How are you, John?" 
and he legged it home as fast as he could. It is 
likely it was the father or the uncle. 

Sure leaving town one time he was brought away 
to the railway station, and some of the people 

176 Visions and Beliefs 

brought him hither again and set him towards 
home and he was brought back to the very same 
place. They had a right to have got the priest 
to say a few Masses in that house before they went 
to live in it at all. 

It was the time their uncle was dying there was 
a whistle heard outside and the man in the bed 
answered it, and it was that very night he died. 
To keep money you would get out like, that is not 
right unless you might give the first of it in a few 
Masses. It was the man the money was took from 
gave that whistle. 

Mrs. Donnely: 

My mother told me that when she was a young 
girl, and before the time of side-cars, a man that 
was living in Duras married a girl from Ardrahan 
side. And it was the custom in those days for a 
newly married girl to ride home on a horse, behind 
her next-of-kin. 

And she was sitting behind her uncle on the 
horse, and when they were passing by Ardrahan 
churchyard he felt her to shiver and nearly to slip 
off the horse, and he put his hand behind for to 
support her, and all he could feel in his hand was for 
all the world like a piece of tow. So he asked her 
what ailed her, and she said that she thought of 
her mother when she was passing by the church- 
yard. A year after that when her baby was born, 
then she died. But everyone said the night she 
was taken was on her wedding-night. 

Away 177 

And sure a sister-in-law of my own was taken 
the same way that poor Mrs. Hehir was. It was a 
couple of days after her baby was born, and I went 
to see her, and she Fardy's daughter and niece to 
Johnson that has the demesne land. And she was 
sitting up on the bed and so well and so strong 
that her mother says to me, "Catherine, try could 
you get a chicken any place; I think she'll be 
able to eat it tomorrow." "Chicken's is scarce, 
ma'am," says I, "but anyway I'll do my best and 
someway or other I'll find one." 

Well, after that we left, and her husband being 
tired with the nights he'd been sitting up came 
with us to sleep at the house of his uncle, Johnson. 
And hardly had he got to the house when bad 
news followed him. And when he got home his 
wife was dead before him. Hardly were we out of 
the house when she said to her mother "Take off 
my boots." "Sure, you have no boots on," said 
the mother. "Well, " says she, "lay me at the foot 
of the bed." And presently she says, "Send 
in to the Mclnerneys and ask them if the coffin 
they have is a better one than mine." And the 
mother saw she was going, and sent for the hus- 
band, but she was gone before he could come. And 
she so well and sitting up in the bed. But Hehir's 
wife was out of bed altogether, and brought her 
husband his tea in the hayfield before she was took. 

And now I'll tell your ladyship a story that's all 
truth and no lie. There was an uncle of my own 

vol. 1— ia 

178 Visions and Beliefs 

living near Kinvara, and one night his wife was 
coming home from Kinvara town, and she passed 
three men that were lying by the roadside. And 
the first of them said to her in Irish, "Go home, 
my poor woman." And the second said, "Go 
home if you can. " And when she got home and 
told the story, she said the voice of the second was 
like the voice of her brother that was dead. 

And from that day she began to waste away, and 
was wasting for seven year, until she died. And 
at the last some person said to her husband, "It's 
time for you to ask her what way she's been spend- 
ing these seven years." 

So he went into the room where she was on the 
bed, and said, "I believe it's time to ask you now 
what way have you been spending these seven 
years. " And she said, "I'll tell you presently when 
you come in again, but leave me now for a while. " 
And he went back into the kitchen and took his 
pipe for to have a smoke before he'd go back and 
ask her again. And the servant girl that was in 
the house was the first to go into the room, and 
found her cold and dead before her. 

They had her took away before she had the 
time to tell what she had been doing all those 
seven years. 

J. Kenny: 

I was in a house one night with a man used to 
go away with the faeries. He got up in the night 
and opened the house door and went out. About 

Away 179 

four hours he was away, and when he came back 
he seemed to be very angry. I saw him putting 
off his clothes. 

Nora Whelan: 

Indeed Moneen has a great name for things 
that do be going on there beside that big forth. 
Sure there's many can hear them galloping, gallop- 
ing all the night. You know Stephen's house at 
the meadow ? Well, his daughter got a touch from 
them one night when she heard them going past 
with horses and with carriages, and she the only 
one in the house that felt them. She got silly 
like for a bit, but she's getting better now. 

An old woman from Loughrea told me that a 
woman, I believe it was from Shragwalla close to 
the town, was taken away one time for fourteen 
years when she went out into the field at night with 
nothing on but her shift. And she was swept there 
and then, and an old hag put into the bed in her 
place, and she suckling her young son at the time. 

It was a great many years after that, there was 
a pedlar used to be going about, and in his travels 
he went to England. And up in the north of 
England he saw a rich house and went into the 
kitchen of it, and there he saw that same woman, 
in a corner working. And he went up to her and 
said, "I know where you come from." "Where's 
that?" says she, and he gave her the name of her 
own village. Well, she laughed and she went out 
of the kitchen, and I don't know did she buy 

180 Visions and Beliefs 

anything from him. But anyhow not long after 
that she come back and walked into her own house. 

The husband never knew her, but the boy that 
was then fourteen year come up and touched her, 
and the father cried out, "Leave off putting your 
hand to that fine dress," for she had very rich 
clothes on. But she stood up and said, "I'm no 
other than your wife come back again, and the 
first thing you have to do is to bring in all you can 
carry of turf, and to make a big fire here in the 
middle of the floor. " 

Well, the old hag was in the room within, in the 
bed where she'd been lying a long time, and they 
thinking she was dying. And when the smoke of 
the fire went in at the door she jumps up and away 
with her out of the house, and tale or tidings of her 
they never had again. 

My mother often told me about her sister's 
child — my cousin — that used to spend the nights 
in the big forth at Moneen. Every night she went 
there, and she got thin and tired like. She used to 
say that she saw grand things there, and the horses 
galloping and the riding. But then she'd say, 
"I must tell no more than that, or I'll get a great 
beating." She wasted away, but one night they 
were so sure that she was dead they had the pot 
boiling full of water to wash her. But she re- 
covered again and lived five years after that. 

Sure there was a faery in the house out beyond 
fourteen years. Katie Morgan she was called. Sh 1 

Away 181 

never kept the bed, but she'd sit in the corner of the 
kitchen on a mat, and from a good stout lump of a 
girl that she was she wasted to nothing, and her 
teeth grew as long as your fingers and then they 
dropped out. And she'd eat nothing at all only 
crabs and sour things. And she'd never leave the 
house in the day-time, but in the night she'd go 
out and pick things out of the fields she could eat. 
And the hurt she got or whatever it was touched 
her, it was one day that she was swinging on the 
corner gate just there by the forth. She died 
as quiet as another. But you wouldn't like to be 
looking at her after the teeth fell out. 

Martin Rabitt: 

There's some people it's lucky to meet and 
others it's unlucky, and if you set off to go to 
America or around the world, and one of the 
unlucky ones comes and speaks to you on the boat, 
you might as well turn back and come home again. 

My own sister was taken away, she and her 
husband within twenty-four hours, and not a thing 
upon them, and she with a baby a week old. Well, 
the care of that child fell on me, and sick or sorry 
it never was but thriving always. 

And a friend of mine told me the same thing. 
His wife was taken away in child-birth — and the 
five children she left that did be always ailing and 
sickly — from that day there never was a hap'orth 
ailed them. 

Did the mother come back to care them ? Sure 

182 Visions and Beliefs 

and certain she did, and I'm the one can tell that. 
For I slept in the room with my sister's child after 
she dying; and as sure as I stand here talking to 
you, she was back in the room that night. 

Walking towards nightfall myself, I've seen the 
shadows dancing before me, but I wasn't af eared, 
no more than I am of you. And I've felt them 
other times crying and groaning about the house. 

As to the faeries, up beyond Ballymore there's a 
woman that was said to be with them for seven 
years. But she came back after that and had an 
impediment in her speech ever since. 

Martin King: 

There's a little forth on this side of Clough be- 
hind Glyn's house, and there was a boy in Clough 
was said to have passed a night and a day in it. 
I often saw him, and he was dull looking, but for 
cleverness there was no one could touch him. I 
saw a picture of a train he drew one time, with not 
a bolt nor a ha'porth left out ; and whatever he put 
his hand to he could do it, and he with no more 
teaching than any other poor boy in the town. 
I believe that he went to America afterwards. 

And I remember a boy was about my own age 
over at Annagh at the other side of the water, and 
it's said that he was away for two years. Anyway 
for all that time he was sick in bed, and no one 
ever saw bit or sup cross his lips in all that time, 

Away 183 

though the food that was left in the room would 
disappear, whatever happened it. He recovered 
after and went to America. 

There was a girl near taken, in the Prestons* 
house. I saw her myself in the bed, near gone. 
But of a sudden she sat up and looked on the floor 
and began to curse, and then they left her for they 
can't bear curses. They have the hope of Heaven 
or they wouldn't leave one on the face of the earth, 
and they are afraid of God. They'll not do you 
much harm if you leave them alone ; it's best not 
to speak to them at all if you should meet them. 
If they bring any one away they'll leave some old 
good-for-nothing thing in its place, and the same 
way with a cow or a calf or such things. But a 
sheep or a lamb it's beyond their power to touch, 
because of our Lord. 

An Old Butcher: 

I was born myself by daylight, and my mother 
often told me that I'd never see anything worse 
than myself. There's some can see those things 
and some that can't. 

But one time I went up by the parish of Kil- 
lisheen to look for half -beef , I having at the time 
a contract for the workhouse. And I went astray 
on the mountains, and near Killifin I came to a 
weaver's house and went in. And there was sitting 
in the corner such a creature as I never saw before, 
with nothing on him but a shirt, and eyes that 

1 84 Visions and Beliefs 

would go through you. And I wouldn't stop in 
the house but went out again. And the weaver 
followed me and says he, "Is it afraid of him you 
are? " "It is," says I. " I thought you would be," 
says he, "and would you believe that he's my own 
son, and as fine a young chap as ever you seen 
until seven year ago when I sent him to Clough on 
a message, and he fell going over a wall, and it's 
then he got the touch, and it's like this he's been 
ever since. " "Does he ask to eat much?" says I. 
" He'd eat the whole world, " says he. "Then it's 
not your son that's in it, you may be sure of that," 
says I, and I turned and went away and never 
went back there again. 

And it's not many year ago that such a lot of 
fine women were taken from Clough, very sudden, 
after childbirth — fine women — I knew them all 
myself. And I'll tell you a thing I heard of in the 
country. There was a woman died, and left her 
child. And every night at twelve o'clock she'd 
come back, and brought it out of the bed to the 
fire, and she'd comb it and wash it. And at last 
six men came and watched and stopped her at the 
door, and she went very near to tear them all 
asunder. But they got the priest, and he took it 
off her. Well, the husband had got another wife, 
and the priest came and asked him would he put 
her away, and take the first again. And so he did, 
and he brought her to the chapel to be married to 
her again, and the whole congregation saw her 
there. That was rather hard on the second wife? 

Away 185 

Well, but wasn't it a great thing for the first poor 
creature to be brought back? Sure there's many 
of those poor souls wandering about. 

Sure enough, some are brought away and kept 
for years, but sometimes they come back again. 
There was a woman beyond at Cahirmacun was 
away for a year, and came back and reared a 
family after. They know well what happened 
them, but they don't speak of it. There was a 
young fellow got a touch there near Ballytown, and 
a little chap met him wandering in the field. And 
he bid him put out food for him every night, for 
he had none of their food ate yet, and so they 
hadn't got full power over him. So food was left 
for him, "and after a time he came back as well as 

A Connemara man: 

There are many that die and don't go out of the 
world at all. The priests know that. There was 
a boy dying in a house up the road, and the priest 
came to him and he was lying as if dead, that he 
could not speak nor hear, and the priest said, " The 
boys have a hand in this. " He meant by that, the 
faeries. I was outside the house myself at the 
time, for the boy was a friend of mine, and I 
didn't like him to die. And you never saw such 
a storm as arose when the priest was coming to the 
house, a storm of wind, and a cloud over the moon. 
But after a while the boy died, and the storm went 
down and the moon shone out as bright as before. 

1 86 Visions and Beliefs 

There was a man was said to go away of nights 
with them. When he got the call, away he must 
go if he liked it or not. 

And one day he was out in the bay with some 
others, and all of a sudden he said, "Let me go 
home, my horse is like to die. " And they wouldn't 
mind him for a time, but at last they turned and 
rowed home, and they found his horse that was 
well when he went out, stretched on the field. 

Another time he was with a man that had a 
grand three-year-old filly and was showing it to 
him. And he said, "You won't have her long"; 
and it wasn't long after that she died. 

Mrs. Feeney: 

There was a man died and his wife died, and 
an uncle took charge of the children. The man 
had a shop but the uncle lived a little way from 
the shop, and he would leave the children alone 
through the night. There were two men making 
a journey, and a storm rose up, and they asked 
could they have a part of the night in the house 
where the shop was, and the uncle said they could, 
and he went to his own house. 

The men were sitting up by the fire and the 
children were sleeping at the other side of the room. 
And one of the men said to the other "God rest the 
soul of the man that died here. He was a good 
man." And the other said, "The wife wasn't so 
good." And just then they heard a noise below, 
and they saw the wife that had died coming into 

Away 187 

the room and she went across and lay down on the 
bed where the baby was. And the baby that was 
crying before got quiet then and made no sound 
at all. 

But as to the two men, bad as the storm was 
outside, they thought better to be out in it than 
to stop in the room where the woman was, so they 
went away. It was to quiet the baby she used to 
come back. 

There was an old woman I remember, Mrs. 
Sheridan, and she had to go with them for two or 
three hours every night for a while, and she'd 
make great complaints of the hardship she'd meet 
with, and how she'd have to spend the night going 
through little boreens or in the churchyard at 
Kin vara, or they'd bring her down to the seashore. 
They often meet with hardships like that, those 
they bring with them, so it's no wonder they're 
glad to get back. This world's the best. 

There was a woman living over there near 
Aughsulis, and a few years ago she lost a fine young 
milch cow, with its first calf. And she and the 
three boys in the house salted it down and they ate 
the half of it and they couldn't eat the other half, 
it was too hard or too tough, and they put it 
under the dung that was in the yard, the way it 
would melt into it. And when the springtime 
came, they turned up the dung, and in the place 
it was buried they found nothing but three planks 

1 88 Visions and Beliefs 

of the wood that's cut in Connemara — deal they 
call it. So the cow never died, but was brought 
away with themselves. For many a young boy 
and young woman goes like that, and there's no 
doubt at all that Mary Hynes was taken. There's 
some living yet can remember her coming to the 
pattern was there beyond, and she was said to be 
the handsomest girl in Ireland. (Note 41.) 

There's a man now living between this place and 
Kinvara, Fannen his name is, and he goes away 
with them, and he's got delicate and silly like. 
One night he was in that bad place that's near the 
chapel of Kinvara, and he found a great crowd of 
them "about him and a man on a white horse 
was with them, and tried to keep him, and he 
cried and struggled and they let him go at last. 
But now the neighbours all say he does be going 
with them, and he told me himself he does. I 
wouldn't be afraid of him when I'd meet him on 
the road, but many of the neighbours would be 

And two of his sons have got silly. They found 
a bar of gold one time out playing in the field, and 
the money they got for it they put it in the bank. 
But I believe it's getting less now, and what 
good did it do them when they went like that? 
One of the boys was to be a priest, but they 
had to give that up when he got silly. It was 
no right money. And they'd best not have 
touched it. 

Away 189 

Mrs. Finnegan: 

Dreams, we should not pay too much attention 
to, and we should judge them well, that is, if a 
dream is bad or good, we should say "It's a good 
dream* ' ; and we should never tell a dream to any- 
one fasting; and it's said if you tell your dream 
to a tree fasting, it will wither up. And it's better 
to dream of a person's downfall than of him being 
up. When the good people take a cow or the like, 
you'll know if they did it by there being no fat 
on what's left in its place and no eyes in it. When 
my own springer died so sudden this year, I was 
afraid to use it. But Pat Hevenor said, "It's a 
fool you are, and it might save you the price of a 
bag of meal to feed the bonifs with a bit of it." 
And he brought the cart and brought it home to 
me. So I put down a bit to boil for the bonifs to 
try it, for I heard that if it was their work, it would 
go to water. But there was fat rising to the top, 
that I have enough in the shed to grease the cart 
wheels for a year. So then I salted a bit of it down. 

If they take any one with them, yourself or 
myself it might be, they'll put some old spent man 
in his place, that they had with them a long time, 
and the father and the mother and the children 
will think it is the child or the father or the mother 
that is in it. And so it may be he'd get absolution. 
But as for the old faeries that were there from the 
beginning, I don't know about them. {Note 42.) 

It's said that if we know how to be neighbourly 
with them, they'd be neighbourly and friendly with 

190 Visions and Beliefs 

us. It's said it was they brought away the po- 
tatoes in the bad time, when all the potatoes turned 
black. But it wasn't for spite, it was because they 
wanted them themselves. 

Mrs. Casey: 

There was a woman in Ballinamore died after 
the baby being born. And the husband took 
another wife and she very young, that everyone 
wondered she'd like to go into the house. And 
every night the first wife came to the loft, and 
looked down at her baby, and they couldn't see 
her; but they'd know she was there by the child 
looking up and smiling at her. 

So at last some one said that if they'd go up in 
the loft after the cock crowing three times they'd 
see her. And so they did, and there she was, with 
her own dress on, a plaid shawl she had brought 
from America, and a cotton skirt with some edging 
at the bottom. 

So they went to the priest, and he said Mass in 
the house, and they didn't see so much of her after 
that. But after a year, the new wife had a baby. 
And one day she bid the first child to rock the cradle. 
But when she sat down to it, a sort of a sickness 
came over her, and she could do nothing, and the 
same thing always happened, for her mother didn't 
like to see her caring the second wife's baby. 

And one day the wife herself fell in the fire and 
got a great many burns, and they said that it was 
she did it. 

Away 191 

So they went to the blessed well Tubbermacduagh 
near Kinvara, and they were told to go there every 
Friday for twelve weeks, and they said seven 
prayers and gathered seven stones every time. 
And since then she doesn't come to the house, but 
the little girl goes out and meets her mother at a 
faery bush. And sometimes she speaks to her 
there, and sometimes in her dreams. But no one 
else but her own little girl has seen her of late. 

There was one time a tailor, and he was a wild 
card, always going to sprees. And one night he 
was passing by a house, and he heard a voice say- 
ing, "Who'll take the child? " And he saw a little 
baby held out, and the hands that were holding 
it, but he could see no more than that. So he 
took it, and he brought it to the next house, 
and asked the woman there to take it in for the 

Well, in the morning the woman in the first house 
found a dead child in the bed beside her. And she 
was crying and wailing and called all the people. 
And when the woman from the neighbouring 
house came, there in her arms was the child 
she thought was dead. But if it wasn't for the 
tailor that chanced to be passing by and to 
take it, we know very well what would have 
happened it. 

That's a thing happens to many, to have faery 
children put upon them. 

192 Visions and Beliefs 

A Man at Corcomroe: 

There was one Delvin, that lies under a slab 
yonder, and for seven years he was brought away 
every night, and into this abbey. And he was 
beat and pinched, and when he'd come home he'd 
faint; but he used to say that the place that he 
went to was grander than any city. One night 
he was with a lot of others at a wake, and they 
knew the time was coming for him to go, and they 
all took hold of him. But he was drawn out of the 
door, and the arms of those that were holding him 
were near pulled out of their sockets. 

Mischievous they are, but they don't do much 
harm. Some say they are fallen angels, and hope 
yet to be saved. 

A Slieve Echtge Woman: 

I knew another was away for seven years — and it 
was in the next townland to this she lived. Bridget 
Clonkelly her name was. There was a large family 
of them, and she was the youngest, and a very fine- 
looking fair-haired girl she was. I knew her well, 
she was the one age with myself. 

It was in the night she used to go to them, and 
if the door was shut, she'd come in by the key-hole. 
The first time they came for her, she was in bed 
between her two sisters, and she didn't want to go. 
And they beat her and pinched her, till her brother 
called out to know what was the matter. 

She often told me about them, and how she was 
badly treated because she wouldn't eat their food. 

Away 193 

She got no more than about three cold potatoes 
she could eat all the time she was with them. 

All the old people about here put out food every 
night, the first of the food before they have any of 
it tasted themselves. And she said there was a 
red-haired girl among them, that would throw her 
into the river she got so mad with her. But if 
she'd had their food ate, she'd never have got 
away from them at all. 

She married a serving-man after, and they went 
to Sydney, and if nothing happened in the last 
two years they're doing well there now. 

Mrs. Casey: 

Near my own house by the sea there was a girl 
went out one day to get nuts near the wood, and 
she heard music inside the wood. And when she 
went home she told her mother. But the next 
day she went again, and the next, and she stopped 
so long that the mother sent the other little girl 
to look for her, but she could see no one. But she 
came in after a time, and she went inside into the 
room, and while she was there the mother heard 
music from the room; but when the girl came out 
she said she heard nothing. But the next day 
after that she died. 

The neighbours all came in to the wake, and 
there was tobacco and snuff there, but not much, 
for it's the custom not to have so much when a 
young person dies. But when they looked at the 
bed, it was no young person they saw in it, but an 

VOL. I — 13 

194 Visions and Beliefs 

old woman with long teeth that you'd be frightened, 
and the face wrinkled, and the hands. So they 
didn't stop but went away, and she was buried the 
next day. And in the night the mother would hear 
music all about the house, and lights of all colours 
flashing about the windows. 

She was never seen again except by a boy that 
was working about the place. He met her one 
evening at the end of the house, dressed in her own 
clothes. But he could not question her where she 
was, for it's only when you meet them by a bush 
you can question them there. 

A Man of Slieve Echtge: 

There was a man, and he a cousin of my own, 
lost his wife. And one night he heard her come 
into the room, where he was in bed with the child 
beside him, and he let on to be asleep, and she took 
the child and brought her out to the kitchen fire 
and sat down beside it and suckled it. 

And then she put it back into the bed again, and 
he lay still and said nothing. The second night 
she came again, and he had more courage and he 
said, "Why have you got no boots on?" For he 
saw that her feet were bare. And she said, "Be- 
cause there's iron nails in them." So he said, 
" Give them to me," and he got up and drew all the 
nails out of them, and she brought them away. 

The third night she came again, and when she 
was suckling the child he saw that she was still 
barefoot, and he asked why didn't she wear the 

Away 195 

boots. "Because," says she, "you left one sprig 
in them, between the upper and the lower sole. 
But if you have courage," says she, "you can do 
more than that for me. Come tomorrow night 
to the gap up there beyond the hill, and you'll 
see the riders going through, and the one you'll see 
on the last horse will be me. And bring with you 
some fowl droppings and urine, and throw them at 
me as I pass, and you'll get me again." Well he 
got so far as to go to the gap, and to bring what she 
told him, and when they came riding through the 
gap, he saw her on the last horse, but his courage 
failed him, and he let it drop, and he never got the 
chance to see her again. 

Why she wanted the nails out of her boots? 
Because it's well known they will have nothing to 
do with iron. And I remember when every child 
would have an old horse nail hung round its neck 
with a bit of straw, but I don't see it done now. 

There was another man though, one of the family 
of the Coneys beyond there, and his wife was away 
from him four years. And after that he put out 
the old hag was in her place, and got his wife back 
and reared children after that, and one of them 
was trained a priest. 

There was a drunken man in ScarifT, and one 
night he had drink taken he couldn't get home, and 
fell asleep by the roadside near the bridge. And 
in the night he awoke and heard them at work with 

196 Visions and Beliefs 

cars and horses. And one said to another, "This 
work is too heavy, we'll take the white horse 
belonging to so and so " — giving the name of a rich 
man in the town. So as soon as it was light he 
went to this man, and told him what he had heard 
them say. But he would only laugh at him and 
say, "I'll pay no attention to what a drunkard 
dreams." But when he went out after to the 
stable, his white horse was gone. 

That's easy understood. They are shadows, 
and how could a shadow move anything? But 
they have power over mankind that they can 
bring them away to do their work. 

There was a woman used to go out among them 
at night, and she said to her sister, "I'll be out on 
a white horse and I'll stop and knock at your 
door," and so she would do sometimes. 

And one day there was a man asked her for a 
debt she owed, and she said, "I have no money 
now." But then she put her hand behind her and 
brought it back filled with gold. And then she 
rubbed it in her hand, and when she opened the 
hand there was nothing in it but dried cow-dung. 
And she said, "I could give you that but it would 
be no use to you." 

An Old Woman Talking of Cruachmaa: 
I remember my father being there, and tell- 
ing me of a girl that was away for seven years, 

Away 197 

and all thought she was dead. And at the end of 
the seven years she walked back one day into her 
father's house, and she all black-looking. And she 
said she was married there and had two children, 
but they died and then she was driven away. And 
she stopped on at her father's house, but the neigh- 
bours used to say there was never a day but she'd 
go up the hill and be there crying for one or two 

An Old Woman who only Speaks Irish: 
I remember a young man coming to the island 
fourteen years ago that had never been in it before 
and that knew everything that was in it, and could 
tell you as much as to the stones of the chimney 
in every house. And after a few days he was gone 
and never came again, for they brought him about 
to every part. But I saw him and spoke to him 

Mr. Sullivan: 

There was a man had buried his wife, and she 
left three children. And then he took a second 
wife, and she did away with the children, hurried 
them off to America, and the like. But the first 
wife used to be seen up in the loft, and she making 
a plan of revenge against the other wife. 

The second one had one son and three daughters ; 
and one day the son was out digging the field, and 
presently he went into what is called a faery hole. 
And there was a woman came before him, and, 

198 Visions and Beliefs 

says she, ' ' what are you doing here trespassing on 
my ground ? ' ' And with that she took a stone and 
hit him in the head, and he died with the blow of 
the stone she gave him. And all the people said 
it was by the faeries he was taken. 

Peter Henderson: 

There was a first cousin of mine used sometimes 
to go out the house, that none would see him going. 
And one night his brother followed him, and he 
went down a path to the sea, and then he went into 
a hole in the rocks, that the smallest dog wouldn't 
go into. And the brother took hold of his feet 
and drew him out again. He went to America 
after that, and is living there now; and sometimes 
in his room they'll see him kicking and laughing 
as if some were with him. 

One night when some of the neighbours from 
these islands were with him, he told them he'd 
been back to Inishmaan, and told all that was going 
on. And some would not believe him. And he 
said, "You'll believe me next time. " So the next 
night he told them again he had been there, and 
he brought out of his pocket a couple of boiled 
potatoes and a bit of fish and showed them, so 
then they all believed it. 

An Old Man from the State of Maine says, hear- 
ing this: 

I knew him in America, and he used often to visit 
this island, and would know about all of them were 

Away 199 

living, and would bring us word of them, and all 
he'd tell us would turn out right. He's living yet 
in America. 

An Aran Woman: 

There was a woman in Killinny was dying, and 
it was she used to be minding the Lodge over there, 
and when she was near death her own little girl 
went out, and she saw her standing, and a black- 
haired woman with her. And she came back and 
said to her father "Don't be fretting, my mother's 
not there in the bed, I saw her up by the Lodge 
and a black woman with her, that took her in with 
her." And there was a man from Arklow there, 
and he said, "That's not your wife at all that's in 
the bed — that's not Maggie Mulkair. That is a 
black woman and Maggie Mulkair is red-haired." 
And the husband looked in the bed, and so it 
wasn't Maggie Mulkair that was in it, but at 
that minute she died. It's well known they bring 
back the old to put in the place of the young. 

There was a girl in the County Clare, and she 
went to get married, and she and the husband 
were riding back on the one horse and it slipped 
and fell. And when she got to the house, she sat 
quiet and not a word out of her. And everybody 
said she used to be a pleasant, jolly girl, but this 
was like an old woman. 

And she sat there by the hob for three days and 
she didn't turn her face to the people. But the 

200 Visions and Beliefs 

husband said, "Let her alone, maybe she's shy 
yet." But his mother got angry at last and she 
said, "I'd sooner be rubbing stones on the clothes 
than watching an idle woman." And she went 
out to the flax and she said to the girl, "You'd best 
get the dinner ready before the men come in." 
But when she came in there was nothing done; 
and she gave her a blow with some pieces of the 
flax that were in her hand, and said, "Get out of 
this for a good-for-nothing woman!" And with 
that she went up the chimney and was gone. And 
the mother got the dinner ready, and then she went 
out, not knowing in the world how to tell the hus- 
band what she had done. But when she got to the 
field where they were working, there was the girl 
walking down the hill, and she took the two hands 
of the mother and said, ' ' It's well for me you hadn't 
patience to last two days more or I'd never have 
got back, but I never touched any of the food while 
I was with them." 

Mrs. Casey: 

There was a girl one time, and a boy wanted to 
marry her, but the father and mother wouldn't 
let her have him, for he had no money. And he 
died, and they made a match for her with another. 
And one day she was out going to her cousins' 
house, and he came before her and put out his 
hand and said, "You promised yourself tome, and 
come with me now. " And she ran, and when she 
got to the house she fell on the floor. And the 

Away 201 

cousins thought she had taken a drop of drink, 
and they began to scold her. 

Another day after that she was walking with 
her husband and her brother, and a little white 
dog with them, and they came to a little lake. 
And he appeared to her again, and the husband 
and the brother didn't see him, but the dog flew at 
him, and began barking at him and he was hitting 
at the dog with a stick, and all the time trying to 
get hold of the girl's hand. And the husband and 
the brother wondered what the dog was barking at 
and why it drew down to the lake in the end, and 
out into the water. For it was into it that he 
was wanting to draw the girl. 

It's a strange thing that you'll see a man in his 
coffin and buried; and maybe a fortnight after, 
the neighbours will tell you they saw him walk- 
ing about. There was one Flaherty lived up at 
Johnny Reed's and he died. And a few days later 
Johnny Reed's sister and another woman went out 
with baskets of turnips to the field where the sheep 
were, to throw them out for them. And when they 
got to the field they could see Flaherty walking, 
just in the same clothes he had before he died, long 
skirts and a jacket, and frieze trousers. So they 
left the turnips and came away. 

There was a man up there near Loughrea, one 
of the Mahers, was away for seven years. In the 

202 Visions and Beliefs 

night he'd be taken, and sometimes in the day- 
time when he was in the bed sick, that's the time 
he'd be along with them; riding out and going out 
across the bay, going as fast as the wind in the sky. 
Did he like to be with them? Not at all, he'd 
sooner be at home ; and it is bad for the health too 
to be going out these rough nights. There were 
three men near him that had horses, Daniel O'Dea 
and Farragher and Flynn, and he told them they 
should sell their horses. And Daniel O'Dea and 
Farragher sold theirs, but the other man wouldn't 
mind him. And after a few days his horse died. 
Of course they had been with him at night riding 
their own horses, and that's how he knew what 
would happen and gave the warning. 

The Spinning Woman: 

There was a man got married, and he began to 
pine away, and after a few weeks the mother asked 
him what ailed him. And he opened his coat and 
showed her his breast inside, that it was all torn 
and bloody. And he said: "That's the way I am; 
and that's what she does to me in the nights." 
So the mother brought her out and bid her to pick 
the green flax, and she was against touching it, but 
the mother made her. And no sooner had she 
touched three blades of it but she said, "I'm gone 
now, " and away with her. And when they went 
back to the room they found the daughter lying 
in a deep sleep, where she had just been put 

Away 203 

An Old Woman at Kinvara: 

There was a woman put in her coffin for dead, 
but a man that was passing by knew that she wasn't 
dead, and he brought her away and married her 
and lived with her for seven years, and had seven 
children by her. And one day he brought her to 
a fair near the place she came from, and the people 
that saw her said: "If that woman that died ever 
had a sister, that would be her sister." So he let 
it out to them then about her. But his mother 
always minded her, that she wouldn't wet her 
hands. But one day the mother was hurried, and 
the woman made a cake. And after making it 
she washed her hands, and with that they had her 
again and she went from the husband and from 
her children. 

A Herd: 

One time I was tending this farm for Flaherty, 
and I came in late one evening after being out with 
cattle, and I sent my wife for an ounce of tobacco, 
and I stopped in the house with the child. And 
after a time I heard the rattle of the door, and the 
wife came in half out of her mind. She said she 
was walking the road and she met four men, and 
she knew that they were not of this world, and 
she fell on the road with the fright she got, but she 
thought one of them was her brother, and he put 
his hand under her head when she fell, so that she 
got no hurt. And for a long time after she wasn't 
in her right mind, and she'd bring the child out in 

204 Visions and Beliefs 

the field, to see her brother. And at last I brought 
her to the priest, and when we were on the way 
there she called out that those fields of stones 
were full of them, and they all dressed in tall hats 
and black coats. But the priest read something 
over her and she's been free from them since then. 

There were three women died within a year, one 
here, John Harragher's wife, and two at Inishmaan. 
And the year after they were all seen together, 
riding on white horses at the other side of the 

There were two young women lived over in that 
village you see there, and they were not good 
friends, for they were in two public houses. And 
one of them died in January, after her baby being 
born. Some said it was because of her mother or 
the nurse giving her strong tea, but it wasn't 
that, it was because her time had come. And 
when the other woman heard it she said to her 
husband, "Give me the concertina, and I'll play 
till you dance for joy that Mrs. Considine is 
gone." But in April her own child was born, and 
though the doctor tried to save her he couldn't 
and she died. 

And since then they're often seen to appear 
walking together. People wonder to see them 
together, and they not friends while they lived. 
But it's bad to give way to temper, and who is 
nearer to us than a neighbour? 

Away 205 

A Young Woman: 

I know a girl that lost her mother soon after she 
was born. And surely the mother came back to her 
every night and suckled her, for she'd lie as quiet 
as could be, without a bottle or a hap'orth and 
they'd hear her sucking. And one night the grand- 
mother felt her daughter that was gone lying in 
the clothes, and made a grab at her, but she was 
gone. Maybe she'd have kept her if she'd taken 
her time, for there's charms to bring such back. 
But the little girl grew, that she was never the 
same in the morning that she was the night before, 
and there's no finer girl in the island now. I call 
to my own mother sometimes when things go 
wrong with me, and I think I'm always the better 
of it. And I often say those that are gone are 
troubled with those they leave behind. But God 
have mercy on all the mothers of the world! 

Mrs. Maker: 

There was a woman with her husband passing 
by Esserkelly, and she had left her child at home. 
And a man came and called her in, and promised to 
leave her on the road where she was before. So 
she went, and there was a baby in the place she 
was brought to, and they asked her to suckle it. 
And when she had come out again she said, "One 
question I'll ask. What were those two old women 
sitting by the fire ? ' ' And the man said , ' ' We took 
the child today, and we'll have the mother tonight 
and one of them will be put in her place, and the 

206 Visions and Beliefs 

other in the place of some other person." And 
then he left her where she was before. 

But there's no harm in them, no harm at all. 

Tom Hislop: 

Scully told me he was by the hedge up there 
by Ballinamantane one evening and a blast came, 
and as it passed he heard something crying, crying, 
and he knew by the sound that it was a child that 
they were carrying away. 

And a woman brought in at Esserkelly heard a 
baby crying and a woman singing to it not to fret, 
for such a woman would die that night or the next 
and would come to mind her. And the very next 
night the woman she heard the name of died in 

At Aughanish there were two couples came to the 
shore to be married, and one of the new-married 
women was in the boat with the priest, and they 
going back to the island. And a sudden blast of 
wind came, and the priest said some blessed Aves 
that were able to save himself, but the girl was 

Peter Hanrahan: 

No, I never went to Biddy Early. What would 
they want with the like of me? It's the good and 
the pious they come for. 

I remember fourteen years ago how eleven 

Away 207 

women were taken in childbirth from this parish. 
But as to the old, what business would they have 
with them? They'd be nothing but a bother to 
them. There was a woman living by the road 
that goes to Scahanagh, and one day a carriage 
stopped at her door, and a grand lady came out of 
it, and asked would she come and give the breast 
to her child, and she said she couldn't leave her 
own children. But the lady said no harm would 
happen her, and brought her away to a big house, 
but when she got there she wouldn't stop, but 
went home again. And in the morning the 
woman's cow was dead. And the husband that 
had a card for carding flax looked through it; and 
in the place of the cow, there was nothing but an 
old man. 

And there was a man and a girl that gave one 
another a hard promise he never to marry any 
other woman, and she never to marry any other 
man. But he broke his promise and married 
another. And the girl died, and one night he saw 
a sort of a shadow coming across the grass, and 
she spoke to him, and it was the girl he had prom- 
ised to marry, and she kept him in talk till mid- 
night. And she came every night after that, and 
would stop till midnight, and he began to waste 
away and to get thin, and his wife asked him what 
was on him, and she picked out of him what it was. 
And after that the girl asked him to come and 
save her, and she would be on the second first 

208 Visions and Beliefs 

horse going through a gap. And he went, and 
when he got there his courage failed, and he did 
nothing to save her, but after that he never saw 
her again. 

Mrs. Roche: 

There was a woman used to go away with them, 
and they'd leave her at the doorstep in the morn- 
ing, and she wouldn't be the better for a long time 
of all she'd gone through. She got out of it after, 
and was a fine woman when I knew her. 

My mother told me of a woman that used to go 
with them, and one night they were passing by a 
house, and there was no clean water in it, and it 
was readied up. And they said, "We'll have the 
blood of the man of the house." And there was a 
big pot of broth on the fire for the morning, for the 
poor people had no tea in those days; and the 
woman said, "Won't broth do you?" And they 
took the broth. And in the morning early, the 
woman after she was left back went to the house, 
and there was the woman of the house getting 
ready the broth, for it looked just like it did be- 
fore. And she said, "Throw it out before you lose 
your husband." For she knew that the first 
that would taste it would die, and that it's to the 
man of the house that the first share is always 

My mother was always wanting to call one of 
her children Pat, the name of her own father, but 

Away 209 

my father always made her give them some differ- 
ent name. But when one of the youngest was 
born he said, "Give him what name you like." 
So they gave him the name of her father; and he 
was like the apple of her eye, she was so fond of 
him. But a sickness came on him and he wasted 
away, and she went to a strange forge and brought 
forge water away, for she wouldn't take it from 
our own forge, and gave him a drink of it. And I 
saw her and I said to her, "I'll tell my father you're 
giving forge water to Paddy." And she said, "If 
you do I'll kill you," so I said nothing. And she 
gave him a second drink of it and not a third, for 
he was gone before he could get it. If it had been 
her own child, it would have saved him, but she 
told me after she knew it was another, his knee- 
caps were so big and other parts of his body. 

There was another little one she lost. She was 
sitting one time nursing it outside the door, and a 
lady and a gentleman came up the road, and the 
lady said, "Who are you nursing the child for?" 
And she said, "For no one in the world but God 
and myself. " And then the lady and the gentle- 
man were gone and no sign of them, though it was 
a straight road, you know that long straight road 
in Galway that goes by Prospect, and it wasn't 
many days after that when the child got ill, and 
in a few days it was dead. And when it was lying 
there stretched out on two chairs, the lady came 
in again and looked at it and said, "What a pity!" 
And then she said, "It's gone to a better place." 

VOL. I — 14 

210 Visions and Beliefs 

" I hope it may be so," said my mother, stiff like 
that; and she went away. 

I was delicate one time myself, and I lost my 
walk, and one of the neighbours told my mother 
it wasn't myself that was there. But my mother 
said she'd soon find that out, for she'd tell me that 
she was going to get a herb that would cure me, and 
if it was myself I'd want it, but if I was another 
I'd be against it. So she came in and she said to 
me, "I'm going to Dangan to look for the lus-mor, 
that will soon cure you." And from that day I 
gave her no peace till she'd go to Dangan and get 
it ; so she knew that I was all right. She told me 
all this afterwards. 

M. Cushin: 

It is about the forths they are, not about the 
churchyards. The Amadan is the worst of them 

They say people are brought away by them. 
I knew a girl one time near Ballyvaughan was said 
to be with them for nine months. She never eat 
anything all that time, but the food used to go all 
the same. 

There was a man called Hession died at that 
time and after the funeral she began to laugh, and 
they asked her what was she laughing at, and she 
said, "You would all be laughing yourselves if you 
could open the coffin and see what it is you were 
carrying in it." The priest heard of her saying 
that and he was vexed. 

Away 211 

Did they open the coffin? They did not, where 
would be the use, for whatever was in it would be 
in the shape of some person, young or old. They 
would see nothing by looking at that. 

There was a woman near Feakle, Mrs. Colman, 
brought away for seven years; she was the priest's 
sister. But she came back to her husband after, 
and she cured till the day of her death came every 
kind of sores, just putting her hand on them and 
saying, "In the Name of the Father, of the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost." 

There was a man in Gort was brought for a 
time to Tir-ran-og, that is a part of heaven. 

A North Galway Woman: 

There was a woman died near this after her 
baby being born, and there was only the father 
to mind it. And a girl of the neighbours that came 
in to watch it one night said that surely she saw 
the mother come back to it, and stoop down to the 
cradle and give it the breast. And anyway she 
grew and throve better than any other child 
around. And there was a woman died near 
Monivea, and sometimes in the daytime they'd 
see her in the garden combing the children's hair. 

There was a Connemara man digging potatoes 
in that field beyond, and he told us that back in 
Connemara there was a woman died, and a few 
nights after she came back and the husband saw 

212 Visions and Beliefs 

her. And she said, "Let you not put a hand on 
me yourself, but I'll come back tomorrow night and 
others with me, and let me not cross the threshold 
when we are going out, but let your brother be 
there that has the strength of six men in him, and 
let him hold me. ' ' And so they did, and she reared 
four children after. 

There was a woman died two houses from this, 
and it wasn't many days after she being buried the 
woman in the next house, Sibby her name is, 
came in here in the morning, and she told me she 
saw her coming in here the night before. And the 
sweat was on Sibby's face and she said, ' ' God knows 
I am speaking the truth. Why would I put a lie 
on that poor woman?" And why would she 

And she said that in the night when she was in 
her bed, and two or three children along with her, 
the woman that had died came beside the bed and 
called her, and then she went out and said, "I'll 
come again and I'll bring my company with me." 

And so she did, for she came back and her com- 
pany with her, and they with umbrellas and hats 
in their hands, dressed grand, just now like the 
servants at Newtown. And she stooped over the 
bed again, and she said, "It was through Thomas 
I was lost." For there was one of her sons was 
called Thomas, and coming home one day he got 
a little turn of his foot, that the mother was doing 
what she could for with herbs and the like for a 

Away 213 

long time, so that he got well all but a little limp. 
So that's why she said that it was through Thomas 
she was lost. And she said, "There'll be a station 
at Athenry on such a day, and send three of the 
children" — and she named the three — "to do it for 
me." And so they did, and she was seen no more. 
And I'm sure it was no lie Sibby was telling. And 
she told the priest about what she saw and all he 
said was, "Well, if you saw that you're happy." 

There was a woman died, and every night she'd 
come back and bring the baby to the fire, and dress 
it and suckle it. And the brother got to speak with 
her one night, and she said, "Oh why wasn't I put 
in the coffin with my own dress on that I was wear- 
ing? It's ashamed I was to go into such a crowd 
and such a congregation with nothing about me 
but a white sheet. And if it wasn't that I saw a 
boy of the neighbours among them that I knew 
before, I would have been very lonely." 

There were two boys that were comrades, and 
if you'd see Dermot you'd say, "Where is Pat?" 
And if you'd see Pat you'd say, "Where is Der- 
mot?" And one of them died, and everybody 
wondered at the comrade not being all the day to 
the corpse-house. And when he came in the even- 
ing he took a pinch of snufl, and he held it to the 
nose of the boy that was laid out on the table and 
he saw it sniff a little. So he made up the fire and 
he called another boy, and they laid the body down 

214 Visions and Beliefs 

behind the fire; and if they did away with it, the 
boy himself came walking in at the door. 

There was a girl I heard of brought away among 
them — and there was the finest of eating to be had. 
But there's always a friend in such places, and she 
got warning not to eat a bit of the food without 
she'd get salt with it. So when they put her down 
to eat, she asked a grain of salt, but not a grain 
was to be had. So she would eat nothing. But 
I believe they did away with her after. 

John Phelan: 

Mike Folan was here the other day telling us 
newses, and he told the strangest thing ever I 
heard — that happened to his own first cousin. 
She died and was buried, and a year after, her 
husband was sitting by the fire, and she came back 
and walked in. He gave a start, but she said, 
"Have no fear of me, I was never in the coffin and 
never buried, but I was kept away for the year." 
So he took her again and they reared four children 
after that. She was Mike Folan 's own first cousin 
and he saw the four children himself. 

An Old Army Man: 

My family were of the Glynns of Athenry. 
I had an aunt that married a man of the name of 
Roche, and their child was taken. So they 
brought it to the Lady Well near Athenry, where 

Away 215 

there's patterns every fifteenth of August, to duck 
it. And such a ducking they gave it that it 
walked away on crutches, and it swearing. And 
their own child they got back again, but he didn't 
live long after that. 

There was a man I know, that was my comrade 
often, used to be taken away for nights, and he'd 
speak of the journeys he had with them. And he 
got severe treatment and didn't want to go, but 
they'd bring him by force. He recovered after, 
and joined the army, and I was never so surprised 
as I was the day he walked in when I was in India. 

Mrs. Brown: 

There was a woman in Tuam, Mrs. Shannon 
knew her well, was said to be away for seven years. 
And she was always sitting in the corner by the 
fire, not speaking, but a kind of a sound like moan- 
ing she'd make to herself; and they'd always bring 
her her dinner over in the corner, and if any one 
came in to see her — and many came hearing she 
was away — she'd draw the shawl over her face. 
And at the end of the seventh year she began to get 
a little life and strength coming in to her, and with- 
in a week she was strong and well, and lived a 
good many years after. And it's not long since 
some one that had a falling out with her daughters 
said to them, "It's well known your mother was 
away in Cruachmaa." And the poor girls when 
they heard that said cried a great deal. 

216 Visions and Beliefs 

Mrs. Casey: 

Some people from Lismara I was talking to told 
me there was a girl the mother thought to be 
away, and she'd go out in the evening. And the 
mother followed her one time, and after she went 
a bit into the fields she saw her with an old woman 
very strangely dressed, with a white cap with an 
edging, and a green shawl and a black apron and 
a red petticoat. And the woman was smoking, 
and she gave the girl a smoke of the pipe. And 
the mother went home, and by and by the girl 
came in, and she smelling of tobacco. And the 
mother asked where was she ? And she said, in some 
neighbour's house ; and the mother knew she wasn't 
there, but that she was going with the faeries. 
And two or three days after that, they had her 
taken altogether ; and the clergy that attended her 
said it was some old hag that was put in her place. 

Mrs. Oliver: 

There was Farly Folan's wife going, going, 
and all the night they thought that she was at the 
last puff. But the minute the cock crew, she 
sat up straight and strong. "I had a hard fight 
for it," she said, "but care me well now ye have 
me back again." And she lived a bit, but not 
long, after that. 

That child of the Latteys that is silly, she was 
walking about today shaking hands with every- 
one that would come into the house. And the 
reason she's like that is, when she was born the 

Away 217 

breath had left her and the mother began to cry 
and to scream and to roar, and then the breath 
came back. She had a right to have let her go 
and not to have brought her back. 

There's a girl of Fardy Folan's is said to be away. 
Anyway she's a fool, and a blow from her would 
kill you, it is always like that with a fool. And 
it was her mother I told you of that was as they 
thought gone, and that sat up again and said, 
"Take care of me now, I had a hard fight for it." 
But indeed she didn't live long after that. 

Mrs. Feeney: 

When one is taken, the body is taken as well as 
the spirit, and some good-for-nothing thing left in 
its place. What they take them for is to work 
for them, and to do things they can't do them- 
selves. You might notice it's always the good 
they take. That's why when we see a child good 
for nothing we say, "Ah, you little faery." 

There was a man lost his wife and a hag was put 
in her place, and she came back and told him to 
come out at night where she'd be riding with the 
rest, and to throw something belonging to her 
after her — he'd know her by her being on a white 
horse. And so he did and got her back again. 
And when they were going home he said, "I'll 
have the life of that old hag that was put in your 
place. " But when they got to the house, she was 
out of it before him, and was never heard of again. 

218 Visions and Beliefs 

There was a man telling me it was in a house 
where the woman was after a youngster, and she 
died, that is, we'll call it died, but she was taken, 
that the husband saw her coming back to give the 
breast to the child and to wash it. And the second 
night he got hold of her and held her until morning, 
and when the cock crowed she sat down again and 
stayed ; they had no more power over her. 

Surely some go among them for seven years. 
There was Kitty Hayes lived at Kilcloud, for 
seven years she had everything she could want, and 
music and dancing could be heard around her 
house every night, and all she did prospered; but 
she ate no food all that time, only she took a drink 
of the milk after the butter being churned. But 
at the end of the seven years all left her, and she 
was glad at the last to get Indian meal. 

There was a man driving cattle from Craugh- 
well to Athenry for a fair. And it was before sun- 
rise and dark, and presently he saw a light by the 
side of the road, and he was glad of it, for he had no 
matches and he wanted to light his pipe to smoke 
it. So he turned aside, and there were some people 
sitting there, and they brought him in, through a 
sort of a door and asked him to sit down. And so 
he did, and he saw that they were all strangers, 
not one he knew among them. And there was a 
fire and they put food and drink on the table, and 
asked him what would he have. And there op- 

Away 219 

posite him he saw his own cows that were brought 
in too, and he knew that he was in a faery place. 
But in all these places there's always one well- 
wisher, so while he was sitting there, an old woman 
came to him and whispered in his ear, "Don't for 
your life eat a bit or drink a drop of what they give 
you, or you'll never go away again." So he would 
take nothing. If it hadn't been for the old woman, 
he might have taken something, just not to vex 
them. And at sunrise they let him out, and he 
was on the road again and his cattle before him. 

Well, when he was coming back from the fair, 
there were two men with him, and he pointed them 
out the place where all this happened, for when 
three persons are together, there's no fear of any- 
thing and they can say what they like. And the 
others told him it was a faery place and many 
strange things had happened there. And they 
told him how there was a woman had a baby lived 
close by there, and before it was a week old her 
husband had to leave her because of his brother 
having died. And no sooner was she left alone 
than she was taken, and they sent for the priest 
to say Mass in the house, but she was calling out 
every sort of thing they couldn't understand, and 
within a few days she was dead. 

And after death the corpse began to change, and 
first it looked like an old woman, and then like an 
old man, and they had to bury it the next day. 
And before a week was over she began to appear. 
They always appear when they leave a child like 

220 Visions and Beliefs 

that. And surely she was taken to nurse the faery 
children, just like poor Mrs. Raynor was last year. 

There's a well near Kinvara, Tubbermacduagh 
it's called, and it's all hung with rags, and piles of 
seven stones about it, for it's a great place to bring 
children to, to get them back when they've been 
changed by the faeries. Nine days they should 
be going to it, and saying prayers each day. And 
you'll see the child that's coming back will be like 
itself one day and like an old person another day 
and sometimes it will feel a picking, picking at 
it and it in its mother's arms. McCullagh's 
daughter that was taken is often to be seen there. 

When any one is taken something is put in their 
place — even when a cow or the like goes. There 
was one of the Simons used to be going about the 
country skinning cattle and killing them, even for 
the country people if they were sick. One day 
he was skinning a cow that was after dying by the 
roadside, and another man with him. And Simon 
said, ''It's a pity he can't sell this meat to some 
butcher, he might get something for it. " But the 
other man made a ring of his fingers like this, and 
looked through it and then bade Simon to look, 
and what he saw was an old piper; and when he 
thought he was skinning the cow, what he was 
doing was cutting off his leather breeches. So it's 
very dangerous to eat beef you buy from any of 

Away 221 

those sort of common butchers. You don't know 
what might have been put in its place. 

A Man at Corcomroe: 

There was Shane Rua that was away every night 
for seven years. He told his brother-in-law that 
told me that in that hill behind the abbey there 
is the most splendid town that was ever seen. 
Often he was in it, and ought not to have been talk- 
ing about it, but he said he wouldn't give them the 
satisfaction of it, he didn't care what they did to 
him. But he fainted that night they took him 
from the wake, and you know what a strong 
man Peter Nestor was, and he couldn't hold 

Buried he is now beside that wall. 

Cloran the plumber's mother was taken away, 
it's always said. The way it's known is, it was not 
long after her baby was born but she was doing 
well. And one morning very early a man and his 
wife were going in a cart to Loughrea one Thursday 
for the market, and they met some of those people 
and they asked the woman that had her own child 
with her, would she give a drink to their child that 
was with them, and while she was doing it they 
said, "We won't be in want of a nurse tonight, 
we'll have Mrs. Cloran of Cloon." And when 
they got back in the evening, Mrs. Cloran was dead 
before them. 

They said it of Glynn's wife last year. And 

222 Visions and Beliefs 

anyway, her mother was taken in the same way 
before her. 

There was a boy I know lived between our house 
and Clough, and his hand was lame all his life from a 
burn he got when he was a child. And one even- 
ing in winter he walked out of the house and was 
never heard of or seen again, or any account of 
him. And it was not the time of year to go look for 
work, and anyway, he could never make a living 
with his lame hand. 

Mrs. Casey: 

My sister told me that near Tyrone or Clough- 
ballymore there was a man walking home one 
night late, and he had to pass by a smith's forge 
where one Kinealy used to work. And when he 
came near, he heard the noise of the anvil, and he 
wondered Kinealy would be working so late in the 
night. But when he went in he saw that they were 
strange men that were in it. So he asked them 
the time, and they told him, and he said, "I won't 
be home this long time yet." And one of the men 
said, " You'll be home sooner than what you think." 
And another said, "There's a man on a grey horse 
gone the road, you'll get a lift from him." And he 
wondered that they'd know the road he was going 
to his home. But sure enough as he was walking 
he came up with a man on a grey horse, and he gave 
him a lift. But when he got home his wife saw 
that he looked strange-like, and she asked what 

Away 223 

ailed him, and he told her all that happened. 
And when she looked at him she saw that he was 
taken. So he went into the bed, and the next 
evening he was dead. And all the people that 
came in knew by the appearance of the corpse that 
it was an old man had been put in his place, and 
that he was taken when he got on the grey horse. 
For there's something not right about a grey horse 
or a white horse, or about a red-haired woman. 

There was a girl buried in Kilisheen, one of the 
Shaws, and when she was laid out on the bed a 
woman that went in to look at her saw that she 
opened her eyes, and made a sort of a face at her. 
But she said nothing, but sat down by the hearth. 
But another woman came in after that and the 
same thing happened, and she told the mother, and 
she began to cry and to roar that they'd say such a 
thing of her poor little girl. But it wasn't the little 
girl that was in it at all but some old person. 
And the man that nailed down the coffin left the 
nails loose, and when they came to Kilisheen 
churchyard he looked in, and not one thing was 
inside it but the sheet and a bundle of shavings. 

There was a man lived beyond on the Kinvara 
road, and his child died and he buried it. But he 
was passing the place after, and he asked a light 
for his pipe in some house, and after lighting it he 
threw the sod, and it glowing, just where he buried 
the child, and what do you think but it came back 

224 Visions and Beliefs 

to him again, and he brought it to its mother. 
For they can't bear fire. 

There was a tailor working in a house one time, 
and the woman of the house was near wore out 
with a baby that was always petting and crying 
for the breast-milk and never quiet, and he as thin 
as the tongs. Well, one day she made a big fire, 
and went out for a can of water to put in the pot. 
And the tailor had taken notice of the child and 
knew he was a lad. So no sooner was the woman 
gone than he took hold of him and said, "I know 
well what you are, and I'll put you at the back of 
the fire unless you'll give me a tune." So when 
he felt the fire he said he would; and where did he 
bring his bagpipes from but down from the rafters, 
and played them till the woman came back again. 
So when she had the fire well settled up round the 
pot, he told her what the child was that had her 
wore out screeching for the breast. And he made 
as though to put him on the fire. And with that 
it made one leap and was out of the door, and 
brought the bagpipes with it and was never seen 
again. Aren't they the schemers now to do such 
things as that? 

Honor Whelan: 

There is a boy now of the Egans, but I wouldn't 
for the world let them think I spoke of him, but it's 
two years since he came from America. And since 
that time he never went to Mass or to church or to 

Away 225 

market or to stand on the cross-roads or to the 
hurling or to nothing. And if any one comes into 
the house, it's into the room he'll slip not to see 
them. And as to work, he has the garden dug to 
bits, and the whole place smeared with cow-dung, 
and such a crop as was never seen, and the alders 
all plaited that they look grand. 

One day he went as far as Castle Daly church, 
but as soon as he got to the door he turned straight 
round again as if he hadn't power to pass it. I 
wonder he wouldn't get the priest to read a Mass 
for him or some such thing. But the crop he has 
is grand, and you may know well that he has some 
that help him. 

There was a boy in the bed for seven years, 
and when the seven years were at an end there 
was a tailor working in the house, and he kept his 
eye on him, and sat working where he could see 
into the room. And so all of a sudden he got up, 
and walked out into the kitchen and called to his 
mother for his breeches. For it was himself 
come back again. 

There was a man used to disappear every night, 
and no one knew where he went. But one morning 
a boy that was up saw him on the side of the 
mountain beyond, putting on his boots. So then 
it was known he had been at these hurlings. 

There was a sister of my own went away among 

VOL. I — 15 

226 Visions and Beliefs 

them in a trance. She went to America after, 
but didn't live long. 

Mrs. Hayden of Slieve Echtge: 

There was a woman one time travelling here 
with my sister from Loughrea, and she had her 
child in the cart with her. And as they went along 
the road, a man came out of a sort of a hollow 
with bushes beside the road, and he asked the 
woman to come along with him for a minute. 
And she reddened, but my sister bid her go, and 
so she went. And the man brought her into a 
house, and there lying on a bed was a baby, and 
she understood she was to give suck to it and so 
she did, and came away; and when she was away 
out, she saw that the man that brought her was 
her brother that was dead, and that is the reason 
she was chosen. 

There was another woman, my husband knew 
her, was taken and an old hag put in her place, 
that keeps to her bed all the time. And when the 
seven years were at an end, she got restless like, 
for they must change every seven years. 

So she told the husband the way he should 
redeem his wife, and where he'd see her with the 
riders if he'd go out to some place at night. And 
so he did, and threw what he had at her and she 
sitting on a horse behind a young man. And when 
they came home, the old hag was gone. She said 
the young man was very kind to her and had never 
done anything to offend her. And she had two 

Away 227 

or three children and left them behind. But for 
all that she was glad to come back to her own 
house. When children are left like that, the 
mother being brought back again, it's then they 
want a nurse for them, to give them milk and to 
attend them. 

I know a man was away among them. Every 
night he would be taken and his wife got used to it 
after some time; at first she didn't like him to be 
taken out of the bed beside her. And in harvest, 
to see that man reap — he'd reap three times as 
much as any other help he had — of course that's 
well known. 

One Dempsey: 

There was a girl at Inniskill in the east of the 
country, of the same name as my own, was lying 
on a mat for eight years. When she first got the 
touch the mother was sick, and there was no room 
in the bed, so they laid a mat on the floor for her, 
and she never left it for the eight years; but the 
mother died soon after. 

She never got off the mat for any one to see. 
But one night there was a working-man came to 
the house, and they gave him lodging for the 
night, and he watched from the other room, and in 
the night he saw the outer door open, and three 
or four boys come in, and a piper with them or a 
fiddler — I'm not sure which — and he played to 
them and they danced, and the girl got up off the 

228 Visions and Beliefs 

mat and joined them. And in the morning when 
he was sitting at breakfast he looked over to her 
where she was lying and said, "You were the best 
dancer among them last night." 

There was a priest came when she had been 
about two years lying there and said something 
should be done for her, and he came to the house 
and read Masses, and then he took her by the 
hand and bid her stand up. But she snatched the 
hand away and said, "Get away you devil." At 
last Father Lahifl came to Inniskill, and he came 
and whatever he did, he drove away what was 
there, and brought the girl back again, and since 
then she walks and does the work of the house as 
well as another. And Father Lahiff said in the 
Chapel it was a shame for no priest to have done 
that for her before. 


Sibby Dempsey of my own name that lives in the 
next house to me is away still. Every time I go 
back she can tell me if anything happened me, and 
where I was or what I did. And more than that, 
she can tell the future and what will happen you. 
But there's not many like to go to her, for the 
priest is against her, and if he'd hear you went to 
her house he'd be speaking against you at the altar 
on Sundays. But she has a good many cured. 
Some she cured that were going to be brought to 
the asylum in Ballinasloe. By charms she does it, 
wherever she gathers herbs, she that never left the 

Away 229 

bed these ten years. Twenty years she was when 
she got the touch, and it's on her ten years 

There was a woman had a little girl, and her side 
got paralysed that she couldn't stir, and she went to 
the priest, Father Dwyer — he's dead since. For the 
priests can do all cures, but they wouldn't like to 
be doing them, to bring themselves into danger. 
And she asked him to do a cure on the little girl, 
but what he said was, "Do you ask me to take 
God's own mercy from Himself?" So when she 
heard that, she went away, and she went to Sibby 
Dempsey. And she is the best writer that ever 
you saw, and she got a pen and wrote some words 
on a bit of paper, and gave them to the old woman 
to put on the little girl's arm, and so she did, and 
on the moment she was cured. 

We don't talk much to her now, we don't care 
to meddle much with those that have been brought 
back, so we keep out of her way. She'll most likely 
go to America. 

To bring any one back from being in the faeries 
you should get the leaves of the lus-mor and give 
them to him to drink. And if he only got a little 
touch from them and had some complaint in him 
at the same time, that makes him sick-like, that 
will bring him back. But if he is altogether in 
the faeries, then it won't bring him back, for he'll 
know what it is and he'll refuse to drink it. 

In a trance the soul goes from the body, but to 

230 Visions and Beliefs 

be among the Sheogue the body is taken and some- 
thing left in its place. 


That girl I was telling you about in my own 
village, Sibby Dempsey, I had a letter about her the 
other day when I was in Cashel, and she that had 
been in her bed seventeen years is walking out and 
going to Mass, a nice respectable woman. They 
told me no more than that in the letter, but Tom 
Carden the policeman that had been there for his 
holiday told that there had come a wandering 
woman — one of her own sort, it's likely — to the 
house one night, and asked a lodging in the name 
of God. Sibby called out, and asked Maggie, the 
girl, who was that? And the woman stopped the 
night, and whatever they did was between them- 
selves, and in the morning the wandering woman 
went away, and Sibby got up out of the bed, that 
she never had left for seventeen years. Now she 
never was there all that time in my belief, for if 
it was an oak stick was lying there through all 
those years wouldn't it be rotten? It is in the 
faeries she was, and it not herself used to be in it 
in the night-time. {Note 43.) 

{Later.) Sibby Dempsey is getting ready now 
for her wedding. She is all right now ; she has gone 
through her years. 

But what do you say to what happened her 
father shortly after she being brought back? His 

Away 231 

horse fell with him coming home one evening and 
both his legs were broke, and the horse was killed. 
That is the revenge they took for the girl being 
taken away from them. 

One Lanigan: 

My own mother was away for twenty-one years, 
and at the end of every seven years she thought it 
would be off her, but she never could leave the bed. 
She could not sit up and make a little shirt or such 
a thing for us. It was of the fever she died at last. 

The way she got the touch was one day after 
we left the place we used to be in. And we got our 
choice place in the estate, and my father chose 
Cahirbohil, but a great number of the neighbours 
went to Moneen. And one day a woman that 
had been our neighbour came over from Moneen, 
and my mother showed her everything and told 
her of her way of living. And she walked a bit of 
the way with her, and when they were parting 
the woman said, " You'll soon be the same as such 
a one," and as she turned away she felt a pain in 
her hand. And from that day she lost her health. 
My father went to Biddy Early, but she said it was 
too late, she could do nothing, but she would take 
nothing from him. 

There was a man out at Roxborough, Colevin 
was his name, was known to be away with them. 
And one day there were a lot of the people footing 
turf, and a blast of wind came and passed by. 

232 Visions and Beliefs 

And after it passed a joking fellow that was among 
them called out, "Is Colevin with you ? ' ' And the 
blast turned and knocked an eye out of him, that 
he never had the sight of it again. 

/. Joyce: 

There was a little chap I used to go to school 
with was away. He was in bed for three or four 
years, and then he could only walk on two sticks, 
till one day his father was going into Clough and 
he wanted to go, and the father said, "They'll be 
laughing at you going on your two sticks." So 
then he said, "Well, I'll go on one, " and threw one 
away and after that he got rid of the other as 
well — and got all right. He never would tell any- 
thing about where he was, but if any one asked 
him he'd begin to cry. He was very smart at his 
books, and very handy, so that when he got well he 
got a good offer of work and went to America. 

An Islander: 

There was a girl on the middle island used to be 
away every night, and they never missed her, for 
there was something left in her place, but she got 
thin in the face and wasted away. She told the 
priest at last, and he bid her go and live in some 
other place, and she went to America, and there 
she is still. And she told them after, it was a com- 
rade she had among them used to call her and to 
bring her about to every place, and that if she 
took a bit of potato off the skib in the house, it 

Away 233 

might be on Black Head she'd be eating it. And 
to parties the other girl would bring her, and she'd 
be sitting on her lap at them. 

But those that are brought away would be glad 
to be back. It's a poor thing to go there after this 
life. Heaven is the best place, Heaven and this 
world we're in now. 

A Man whose Son is Said to be Away: 
I don't know what's wrong with my son unless 
that he's a real regular Pagan. He lies in the bed 
the most of the day and he won't go out till even- 
ing and he won't go to Mass. And he has a mem- 
ory for everything he ever heard or read. I never 
knew the like. Most people forget what they read 
in a book within one year after. 

A Travelling Man: 

A man I met in America told me that one time 
before they left this country they were working in 
a field. And in the next field but one they saw a 
little funeral, a very little one, and it passed into 
a forth. And there was a child sick in the house 
near by; and that evening she died. But they 
had her taken away in the daytime. 

Mr. Feeney: 

It's a saying that the Sheogue take away the 
blackberries in the month of November; anyway 
we know that when the potatoes are taken it's 

234 Visions and Beliefs 

by the gentry, and surely this year they have put 
their fancy on them. 

I know the brothers of a man that was away for 
seven years, and he was none the better for it and 
had no riches after. It was in that place beyond 
— where you'd see nothing but hills and hollows — 
but when he was brought in, he saw what was like 
a gentleman's avenue, and it leading to a grand 
house. He didn't mind being among them, when 
once he got used to it and was one of the force. Of 
course they wouldn't like you to touch a bush that 
would belong to them. They might want it for 
shelter; or it might only be because it belongs to 
them that they wouldn't like it touched. 

There was one of the Readys, John, was away 
for seven years lying in the bed, but brought away 
at nights. And he knew everything. And one 
Kearney up in the mountains, a cousin of his own, 
lost two hoggets and came and told him. And he 
saw the very spot where they were and bid him to 
bring them back again. But they were vexed at 
that and took away the power, so that he never 
knew anything again, no more than another. 

Surely I believe that any woman taken in child- 
birth is taken among them. For I knew of a 
woman that died some years ago and left her young 
child. And the woman that was put to look after 
it neglected it. And one night the two doors were 
blown open, and a blast of wind came in and 

Away 235 

struck her, and she never was the better of it 

A Herd: 

There was a house I stopped in one night near 
Tallaght where I was going for a fair, and there was 
a sick girl in the house, and she lying in a corner 
near the fire. 

And some time after, I was told that no one 
could do anything for her, but that one evening a 
labouring man that was passing came in and asked 
a night's lodging. And he was sitting by the fire 
on a stool and the girl behind him. 

And every now and again when no one was look- 
ing he'd take a coal of fire and throw it under the 
stool on to where she was lying till he had her 
tormented. And in the morning there was the girl 
lying, and her face all torn and scarred. And he 
said, "It's not you that was in it these last few 
months." And she said, "No, but I wouldn't be 
in it now but for you. And see how the old hag 
that was in it treated me, she was so mad with the 
treatment that you gave her last night." 

There was one Cronan on the road to Galway, 
I knew him well, was away with them seven years. 
It was at night he used to be brought away, and 
when they called him, go he should. They'd 
leave some sort of a likeness of him in his place. 
He had a wart on his back, and his wife would rub 
her hand down to feel was the wart there, before 

236 Visions and Beliefs 

she'd know was it himself was in it or not. He 
told some of the way he used to be brought riding 
about at night, and that he was often in that castle 
below at Ballinamantane. And he saw then a 
great many of his friends that were dead. 

And Mrs. Kelly asked him did ever he see her 
son Jimmy that died amongst them. And he told 
her he did, and that mostly all the people that he 
knew, that had died out of the village, were 
amongst them now. 

Himself and his pony would go up to the sky. 

And if his wife had a clutch of geese, they'd be 
ten times better than any other ones, and the wheat 
and the stock and all they had was better and more 
plentiful than what any one else had. Help he 
got from them of course. And at last the wife got 
the priest in to read a Mass and to take it off him. 
But after that all that they had went to flitters. 

A Hillside Woman: 

Surely there are many taken ; my own sister that 
lived in the house beyond, and her husband and 
her three children, all in one year. Strong they 
were and handsome and good — the best — and 
that's the sort that are taken. They got in the 
priest when first it came on the husband, and soon 
after a fine cow died and a calf. But he didn't 
begrudge that if he'd get his health, but it didn't 
save him after. Sure Father Andrews in Kilbren- 
nan said not long ago in the chapel that no one 
had gone to heaven for the last ten years. 

Away 237 

But whatever life God has granted them, when 
it's at an end go they must, whether they're 
among them or not. And they'd sooner be among 
them than to go to Purgatory. 

There was a little one of my own taken. Till he 
was a year old he was the stoutest and the best and 
the finest of all my children, and then he began to 
pine till he wasn't thicker than that straw; but 
he lived for about four years. 

How did it come on him? I know that well. 
He was the grandest ever you saw, and I proud of 
him, and I brought him to a ball in this house and 
he was able to drink punch. And I was stopped 
one day at a house beyond, and a neighbouring 
woman came in with her child and she says, "If 
he's not the stoutest he's the longest," and she 
took off her apron and the string to measure them 
both. I had no right to let her do that but I 
thought no harm at the time. But it was from 
that night he began to screech and from that time 
he did no good. He'd get stronger through the 
winter, and about the Pentecost, in the month of 
May, he'd always fall back again, for that's the 
time they're at the worst. 

I didn't have the priest in. It does them no 
good, but harm, to have a priest take notice of 
them when they're like that. 

It was in the month of May at the Pentecost he 
went at last. He was always pining, but I didn't 
think he'd go so soon. At the end of the bed he 
was lying with the others, and he called to me and 

238 Visions and Beliefs 

put up his arms. But I didn't want to take too 
much notice of him or to have him always after 
me, so I only put down my foot to where he was. 
And he began to pick straws out of the bed and to 
throw them over the little sister beside him, till 
he had thrown as much as would thatch a goose. 
And when I got up, there he was dead, and the 
little sister asleep beside him all covered with 

Mrs. Madden: 

There were three women living at Ballinakill 
— Mary Grady, the mother, and Mary Flanagan 
the daughter, and Ellen Lydon that was a by- 
child of her's; and they had a little dog called 
Floss that was like a child to them. And the 
grandmother went first and then the little dog, 
and then Mary Flanagan within a half year. And 
there was a boy wanted to marry Ellen Lydon 
that was left alone. But his father and mother 
wouldn't have her, because of her being a by-child. 
And the priest wouldn't marry them not to give 
offence. So it wasn't long before she was taken 
too, and those that saw her after death knew that 
it was the mother that was there in place of her. 
And when the priest was called the day before she 
died he said, "She's gone since twelve o'clock'this 
morning, and she'll die between the two Masses 
tomorrow, " for it was Father Hubert, • that had 
understanding of these things. And so she 

Away 239 

There was a man had a son, and he was lying in 
the bed a long time. And one day, the day of the 
races, he asked the father and mother were they 
going to them, and they said they were not. 
"Well," says he, "I'll show you as good sport as 
if you went." 

And he had a dog, and he called to it and said 
something to it, and it began to make a run and to 
gallop and to jump backwards and forwards over 
the half-door, for there was a very high half-door 
to the house. "So now," says he, "didn't you 
see as good sport as if you were in the Newtown 

There was my own uncle that lived where the 
shoemaker's shop is now, and two of his children 
were brought away from him. And the third he 
was determined he'd keep, and he put it to sleep 
between the wife and himself in the bed. And one 
night a hand came at the window and tried to take 
the child, and he knew who the hand belonged to, 
and he saw it was a woman of the village that was 
dead. So he drove her away and held the child, 
and he was never troubled again after that. 

H. Henty: 

There was an old man on the road one night near 
Burren and he heard a cry in the air over his head, 
the cry of a child that was being carried away. 

240 Visions and Beliefs 

And he called out some words and the child was 
let down into his arms and he brought it home. 
And when he got there he was told that it was dead. 
So he brought in the live child, and you may be 
sure that it was some sort of a thing that was good 
for nothing that was put in its place. 

It's the good and the handsome they take, and 
those that are of use, or whose name is up for some 
good action. Idlers they don't like, but who would 
like idlers? 

There is a forth away in County Clare, and 
they say it's so long that it has no end. And 
there was a pensioner, one Gavornan, came back 
from the army, and a soldier has more courage 
than another, and he said he'd go try what was in 
it, and he got two other men to go with him, and 
they went a long, long way, and saw nothing. 
And then they came to where there was the sound 
of a woman beetling. And then they began to 
meet people they knew before, that had died out 
of the village, and they all told them to go back, 
but still they went on. 

And then they met the parish priest of Bally- 
vaughan, Father Cregan that was dead. And he 
told them to go back and so they turned and 
went. They were just beginning to come to the 
grandeur when they were turned away. Those 
that are brought away among them never come 
back, or if they do they're not the same as they 
were before. 

Away 241 

Honor Whelan: 

There was a woman beyond at Ardrahan died, 
and she came back one night and her husband 
saw her at the dresser, looking for something to 
eat. And she slipped away from him that time, 
but the next time she came he got hold of her, and 
she bid him come for her to the fair at some place, 
and watch for her at the Customs' gap and she'd 
be on the last horse that would pass through. 
And then she said, "It's best for you not come 
yourself but send your brother." So the brother 
came and she dropped down to him and he brought 
her to his house. But in a week after he was dead 
and buried. And she lived a long time, and never 
would speak three words to any one that would 
come into the house, but working, working all the 
day. I wouldn't have liked to live in the house 
with her after her being away like that. I don't 
think the old go among them when they die, but 
believe me, it's not many of the young they spare, 
but bring them away till such time as God sends 
for them. It's about fourteen years since so many 
young women were brought away after their child 
being born — Peter Roche's wife, and James Shan- 
nan's wife, and Clancy's wife of Lisdaragh — hun- 
dreds were carried off in that year — they didn't 
bring so many since then. I suppose they brought 
enough then to last them a good time. 

All go among them when they die except the 
old people. And it's better to be there than in 
the pains of Purgatory. As to Purgatory, I don't 

VOL. I — 16 

242 Visions and Beliefs 

think it is after being with them we have to go 
there. But I know we're told to give some cloth- 
ing to the poor, and it will be thrown down after- 
wards to quench the flames for us. 

A Policeman's Wife: 

There was a girl in County Clare was away, 
and the mother used to hear horses coming about 
the door every night. And one day the mother 
was picking flax in the house, and of a sudden there 
came in her hand an herb with the best smell and 
the sweetest that ever was smelt (Note 44). And 
she closed it with her hand, and called to the son 
that was making up a stack of hay outside "Come 
in, Denis, for I have the best smelling herb that ever 
you saw. " And when he came in she opened her 
hand, and the herb was gone clear and clean. She 
got annoyed at last with the horses coming about 
the door, and some told her to gather all the fire 
into the middle of the floor and to lay the little 
girl upon it, and to see could she come back again. 
So she did as she was told, and brought the little 
girl out of the bed and laid her on the coals. And 
she began to scream and to call out, and the neigh- 
bours came running in, and the police heard of 
it, and they came and arrested the mother and 
brought her to the Court-house before the magis- 
trate, Mr. Mac Walter, and my own husband was 
one of the police that arrested her. And when the 
magistrate heard all, he said she was an ignorant 
woman, and that she did what she thought right, 

Away 243 

and he would give her no punishment. And the 
girl got well and was married. It was after she 
was married I knew her. 

An Old Woman at Chiswick: 

There was a woman went to live in a house 
where the faeries were known to be very much 
about. And the first day she was there one of 
them came in and asked her for the loan of a pot, 
and she gave it. And the next day she came in 
again and asked for the loan of some meal, and 
when she got it the woman said, ' ' I hope you'll find 
it to be fine enough." "It is," she said, "and to 
show you I think it fine and good, I'll mix it here 
and boil the stirabout and we'll eat it together." 
And so they did. And she said "We'll always be 
your friends ; and what you may miss in the morn- 
ing, never grudge it, for you'll have more than 
what you lost before night." And her tribe was 
going away, and when she was going out the door, 
she made a hole with her heel in the stone, and she 
filled it up with mud and earth, and she said "If 
we die or if anything happens to us, blood will 
come in this hole and fill it. " 

There was a girl used to be away with them, 
you'd never know when it was she herself that was 
in it or not till she'd come back, and then she'd 
tell she had been away. She didn't like to go, 
but she had to go when they called to her. And 
she told her mother always to treat kindly whoever 

244 Visions and Beliefs 

was put in her place, sometimes one would be put, 
and sometimes another, for she'd say "If you are 
unkind to whoever's there, they'll be unkind to 


Three of my uncles were taken by them, young 
men; some sort of a little cold they got between 
them, and there wasn't more than two months 
before the first of them going and the last. They 
were seen after by a man that lived in the house 
between there and the school, and that used often 
to see them, and to bring them in to dinner with 




IRELAND was not separated from general 
European speculation when much of that was 
concerned with the supernatural. Dr. Adam Clarke 
tells in his unfinished autobiography how, when he 
was at school in Antrim towards the end of the 
eighteenth century, a schoolfellow told him of 
Cornelius Agrippa's book on Magic and that it 
had to be chained or it would fly away of itself. 
Presently he heard of a farmer who had a copy 
and after that made friends with a wandering 
tinker who had another. Lady Gregory and I 
spoke of a friend's visions to an old countryman. 
He said "he must belong to a society"; and 
the people often attribute magical powers to 
Orangemen and to Freemasons, and I have 
heard a shepherd at Doneraile speak of a magic 
wand with Tetragramaton Agla written upon 
it. The visions and speculations of Ireland dif- 
fer much from those of England and France, for 


248 Visions and Beliefs 

in Ireland, as in Highland Scotland, we are never 
far from the old Celtic mythology; but there 
is more likeness than difference. Lady Gregory's 
story of the witch who in semblance of a hare, 
leads the hounds such a dance, is the best remem- 
bered of all witch stories. It is told, I should 
imagine, in every countryside where there is 
even a fading memory of witchcraft. One finds it 
in a sworn testimony given at the trial of Julian 
Cox, an old woman indicted for witchcraft at 
Taunton in Somersetshire in 1663 and quoted by 
Joseph Glanvill. "The first witness was a hunts- 
man, who swore that he went out with a pack of 
hounds to hunt a hare, and not far from Julian 
Cox her house he at last started a hare: the dogs 
hunted her very close, and the third ring hunted 
her in view, till at last the huntsman perceiving 
the hare almost spent and making towards a 
great bush, he ran on the other side of the bush to 
take her up and preserve her from the dogs ; but as 
soon as he laid hands on her, it proved to be Julian 
Cox, who had her head grovelling on the ground, 
and her globes (as he expressed it) upward. He 
knowing her, was so affrighted that his hair on his 
head stood an end; and yet spake to her, and ask'd 
her what brought her there; but she was so far out 
of breath that she could not make him any answer; 
his dogs also came up full cry to recover the game, 
and smelled at her and so left off hunting any 
further. And the huntsman with his dogs went 
home presently sadly affrighted." Dr. Henry 

Witches and Wizards 249 

More, the Platonist, who considers the story in 
a letter to Glanvill, explains that Julian Cox 
was not turned into a hare, but that " Ludicrous 
Daemons exhibited to the sight of this huntsman 
and his dogs, the shape of a hare, one of them 
turning himself into such a form, another hurry- 
ing on the body of Julian near the same place, " 
making her invisible till the right moment had 
come. "As I have heard of some painters that 
have drawn the sky in a huge landscape, so lively, 
that the birds have flown against it, thinking it 
free air, and so have fallen down. And if painters 
and jugglers, by the tricks of legerdemain can do 
such strange feats to the deceiving of the sight, it is 
no wonder that these aerie invisible spirits have far 
surpassed them in all such prestigious doings, as 
the air surpasses the earth for subtlety. " Glanvill 
has given his own explanation of such cases else- 
where. He thinks that the sidereal or airy body 
is the foundation of the marvel, and Albert de 
Rochas has found a like foundation for the marvels 
of spiritism. "The transformation of witches," 
writes Glanvill, "into the shapes of other animals 
. . . is very conceivable; since then, 'tis easy 
enough to imagine, that the power of imagination 
may form those passive and pliable vehicles into 
those shapes, " and then goes on to account for the 
stories where an injury, say to the witch hare, is 
found afterwards upon the witch's body precisely 
as a French hypnotist would account for the 
stigmata of a saint. "When they feel the hurts 

250 Visions and Beliefs 

in their gross bodies, that they receive in their 
airy vehicles, they must be supposed to have been 
really present, at least in these latter; and 'tis no 
more difficult to apprehend, how the hurts of those 
should be translated upon their other bodies, than 
how diseases should be inflicted by the imagination, 
or how the fancy of the mother should wound the 
foetus, as several credible relations do attest. " 

All magical or Platonic writers of the times 
speak much of the transformation or projection of 
the sidereal body of witch or wizard. Once the 
soul escapes from the natural body, though but 
for a moment, it passes into the body of air and 
can transform itself as it please or even dream 
itself into some shape it has not willed. 

"Chameleon-like thus they their colour change, 
And size contract and then dilate again." 

One of their favourite stories is of some famous 
man, John Haydon says Socrates, falling asleep 
among his friends, who presently see a mouse 
running from his mouth and towards a little 
stream. Somebody lays a sword across the stream 
that it may pass, and after a little while it returns 
across the sword and to the sleeper's mouth again. 
When he awakes he tells them that he has dreamed 
of himself crossing a wide river by a great iron 

But the witch's wandering and disguised double 
was not the worst shape one might meet in the 
fields or roads about a witch's house. She was 

Witches and Wizards 251 

not a true witch unless there was a compact (or so 
it seems) between her and an evil spirit who called 
himself the devil, though Bodin believes that he 
was often, and Glanvill always, "some human 
soul forsaken of God," for "the devil is a body 
politic." The ghost or devil promised revenge 
on her enemies and that she would never want, 
and she upon her side let the devil suck her blood 
nightly or at need. 

When Elizabeth Style made a confession of 
witchcraft before the Justice of Somerset in 1664, 
the Justice appointed three men, William Thick 
and William Read and Nicholas Lambert, to 
watch her, and Glanvill publishes an affidavit of 
the evidence of Nicholas Lambert. "About three 
of the clock in the morning there came from her 
head a glistering bright fly, about an inch in 
length which pitched at first in the chimney and 
then vanished." Then two smaller flies came 
and vanished. "He, looking steadfastly then on 
Style, perceived her countenance to change, and 
to become very black and ghastly and the fire 
also at the same time changing its colour; where- 
upon the Examinant, Thick and Read, conceiving 
that her familiar was then about her, looked to her 
poll, and seeing her hair shake very strangely, took 
it up and then a fly like a great miller flew out 
from the place and pitched on the table board and 
then vanished away. Upon this the Examinant 
and the other two persons, looking again in Style's 
poll, found it very red and like raw beef. The Ex- 

252 Visions and Beliefs 

aminant ask'd her what it was that went out of 
her poll, she said it was a butterfly, and asked them 
why they had not caught it. Lambert said, they 
could not. I think so too, answered she. A little 
while after, the informant and the others, looking 
again into her poll, found the place to be of its 
former colour. The Examinant asked again what 
the fly was, she confessed it was her familiar and 
that she felt it tickle in her poll, and that was the 
usual time for her familiar to come to her." These 
sucking devils alike when at their meal, or when 
they went here and there to do her will or about 
their own business, had the shapes of pole-cat or 
cat or greyhound or of some moth or bird. At the 
trials of certain witches in Essex in 1645 reported 
in the English state trials a principal witness was 
one "Matthew Hopkins, gent." Bishop Hutchin- 
son, writing in 1730, describes him as he appeared 
to those who laughed at witchcraft and had brought 
the witch trials to an end. "Hopkins went on 
searching and swimming poor creatures, till some 
gentlemen, out of indignation of the barbarity, took 
him, and tied his own thumbs and toes as he used 
to tie others, and when he was put into the water 
he himself swam as they did. That cleared the 
country of him and it was a great pity that they 
did not think of the experiment sooner." Floating 
when thrown into the water was taken for a sign of 
witchcraft. Matthew Hopkins's testimony, how- 
ever, is uncommonly like that of the countryman 
who told Lady Gregory that he had seen his 

Witches and Wizards 253 

dog and some shadow fighting. A certain Mrs. 
Edwards of Manintree in Essex had her hogs killed 
by witchcraft, and "going from the house of the 
said Mrs. Edwards to his own house, about nine 
or ten of the clock that night, with his greyhound 
with him, he saw the greyhound suddenly give a 
jump, and run as she had been in full course after a 
hare; and that when this informant made haste to 
see what his greyhound so eagerly pursued, he 
espied a white thing, about the bigness of a kitlyn, 
and the greyhound standing aloof from it; and 
that by and by the said white imp or kitlyn danced 
about the greyhound, and by all likelihood bit off 
a piece of the flesh of the shoulder of the said 
greyhound; for the greyhound came shrieking and 
crying to the informant, with a piece of flesh torn 
from her shoulder. And the informant further 
saith, that coming into his own yard that night, he 
espied a black thing proportioned like a cat, only 
it was thrice as big, sitting on a strawberry bed, 
and fixing the eyes on this informant, and when 
he went towards it, it leaped over the pale towards 
this informant, as he thought, but ran through the 
yard, with his greyhound after it, to a great gate, 
which was underset with a pair of tumble strings, 
and did throw the said gate wide open, and then 
vanished; and the said greyhound returned again 
to this informant, shaking and trembling exceed- 
ingly." At the same trial Sir Thomas Bowes, 
Knight, affirmed "that a very honest man of 
Manintree, whom he knew would not speak an 

254 Visions and Beliefs 

untruth, affirmed unto him, that very early one 
morning, as he passed by the said Anne West's 
door" (this is the witch on trial) "about four 
o'clock, it being a moonlight night, and perceiving 
her door to be open so early in the morning, looked 
into the house and presently there came three or 
four little things, in the shape of black rabbits, 
leaping and skipping about him, who, having a 
good stick in his hand, struck at them, thinking to 
kill them, but could not; but at last caught one 
of them in his hand, and holding it by the body 
of it, he beat the head of it against his stick, intend- 
ing to beat out the brains of it ; but when he could 
not kill it that way, he took the body of it in one 
hand and the head of it in another, and endeav- 
oured to wring off the head; and as he wrung and 
stretched the neck of it, it came out between his 
hands like a lock of wool; yet he would not give 
over his intended purpose, but knowing of a 
spring not far off, he went to drown it; but still 
as he went he fell down and could not go, but 
down he fell again, so that he at last crept upon 
his hands and knees till he came at the water, 
and holding it fast in his hand, he put his hand 
down into the water up to the elbow, and held it 
under water a good space till he conceived it was 
drowned, and then letting go his hand, it sprung 
out of the water up into the air, and so vanished 
away." However, the sucking imps were not al- 
ways invulnerable for Glanvill tells how one John 
Monpesson, whose house was haunted by such a 

Witches and Wizards 255 

familiar, "seeing some wood move that was in the 
chimney of a room, where he was, as if of itself, 
discharged a pistol into it after which they found 
several drops of blood on the hearth and in divers 
places of the stairs." I remember the old Aran 
man who heard fighting in the air and found blood 
in a fish-box and scattered through the room, and 
I remember the measure of blood Odysseus poured 
out for the shades. 

The English witch trials are like the popular 
poetry of England, matter-of-fact and unimagi- 
native. The witch desires to kill some one and 
when she takes the devil for her husband he as 
likely as not will seem dull and domestic. Re- 
becca West told Matthew Hopkins that the devil 
appeared to her as she was going to bed and told her 
he would marry her. He kissed her but was as cold 
as clay, and he promised to be "her loving hus- 
band till death," although she had, as it seems, but 
one leg. But the Scotch trials are as wild and pas- 
sionate as is the Scottish poetry, and we find our- 
selves in the presence of a mythology that differs 
little, if at all, from that of Ireland. There are 
orgies of lust and of hatred and there is a wild 
shamelessness that would be fine material for 
poets and romance writers if the world should come 
once more to half-believe the tale. They are 
divided into troops of thirteen, with the youngest 
witch for leader in every troop, and though they 
complain that the embraces of the devil are as 
cold as ice, the young witches prefer him to their 

256 Visions and Beliefs 

husbands. He gives them money, but they must 
spend it quickly, for it will be but dry cow dung 
in two circles of the clock. They go often to 
Elfhame or Faeryland and the mountains open 
before them and as they go out and in they are 
terrified by the "rowtling and skoylling" of the 
great "elf bulls." They sometimes confess to 
trooping in the shape of cats and to rinding upon 
their terrestrial bodies when they awake in the 
morning the scratches they had made upon one 
another in the night's wandering, or should they 
have wandered in the images of hares the bites of 
dogs. Isobell Godie who was tried at Lochlay in 
1662 confessed that "We put besoms in our beds 
with our husbands till we return again to them 
. . . and then we would fly away where we would 
be, even as straws would fly upon a highway. We 
will fly like straws when we please; wild straws 
and corn straws will be horses to us, and we put 
them betwixt our feet and say horse and hillock in 
the devil's name. And when any see these straws 
in a whirlwind and do not sanctify themselves, we 
may shoot them dead at our pleasure." 1 When 
they kill people, she goes on to say, the souls 
escape them "but their bodies remain with us 
and will fly as horses to us all as small as straws." 
It is plain that it is the "airy body" they take 
possession of; those "animal spirits" perhaps 
which Henry More thought to be the link between 

1 1 have modernized the old lowland Scotch in these quotations 
from Pitcairn's Criminal Trials. 

Witches and Wizards 257 

soul and body and the seat of all vital function. 
The trials were more unjust than those of England, 
where there was a continual criticism from sceptics ; 
torture was used again and again to distort con- 
fessions, and innocent people certainly suffered; 
some who had but believed too much in their own 
dreams and some who had but cured the sick at 
some vision's prompting. Alison Pearson who 
was burnt in 1588 might have been Biddy Early 
or any other knowledgeable woman in Ireland 
today. She was convicted "for haunting and 
repairing with the Good Neighbours and queen of 
Elfhame, these divers years and bypast, as she 
had confessed in her depositions, declaring that 
she could not say readily how long she was with 
them; and that she had friends in that court who 
were of her own blood and who had great acquaint- 
ance of the queen of Elfhame. That when she 
went to bed she never knew where she would be 
carried before dawn." When they worked cures 
they had the same doctrine of the penalty that 
one finds in Lady Gregory's stories. One who 
made her confession before James I. was convicted 
for "taking the sick party's pains and sicknesses 
upon herself for a time and then translating them 
to a third person." 


There are more women than men mediums to- 
day; and there have been or seem to have been 

VOL I — 17 

258 Visions and Beliefs 

more witches than wizards. The wizards of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries relied more 
upon their conjuring book than the witches whose 
visions and experiences seem but half voluntary, 
and when voluntary called up by some childish 
rhyme : 

Hare, hare, God send thee care; 
I am in a hare's likeness now, 
But I shall be a woman even now; 
Hare, hare, God send thee care. 

More often than not the wizards were learned men, 
alchemists or mystics, and if they dealt with the 
devil at times, or some spirit they called by that 
name, they had amongst them ascetics and he- 
retical saints. Our chemistry, our metallurgy, and 
our medicine are often but accidents that befell 
in their pursuit of the philosopher's stone, the 
elixir of life. They were bound together in secret 
societies and had, it may be, some forgotten 
practice for liberating the soul from the body and 
sending it to fetch and carry them divine know- 
ledge. Cornelius Agrippa in a letter quoted by 
Beaumont has hints of such a practice. Yet, 
like the witches, they worked many wonders by 
the power of the imagination, perhaps one should 
say by their power of calling up vivid pictures 
in the mind's eye. The Arabian philosophers 
have taught, writes Beaumont, "that the soul 
by the power of the imagination can perform 
what it pleases; as penetrate the heavens, force 

Witches and Wizards 259 

the elements, demolish mountains, raise valleys 
to mountains, and do with all material forms as it 
pleases. " 

He shewed hym, er he wente to sopeer, 
Forestes, parkes ful of wilde deer; 
Ther saugh he hertes with hir homes hye, 
The gretteste that evere were seyn with ye. 

Tho saugh he knyghtes justing in a playn; 
And after this, he dide hym swich plaisaunce, 
That he hym shewed his lady on a daunce 
On which hymself he daunced, as hym though te. 
And whan this maister, that this magyk wroughte, 
Saugh it was tyme, he clapte his handes two, 
And, farewel ! al our revel was ago. 

One has not as careful a record as one has of the 
works of witches, for but few English wizards came 
before the court, the only society for psychical 
research in those days. The translation, however, 
of Cornelius Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia in 
the seventeenth century, with the addition of a 
spurious fourth book full of conjurations, seems 
to have filled England and Ireland with whole 
or half wizards. In 1703, the Reverend Arthur 
Bedford of Bristol who is quoted by Sibley in his 
big book on astrology wrote to the Bishop of 
Gloucester telling how a certain Thomas Perks 
had been to consult him. Thomas Perks lived 
with his father, a gunsmith, and devoted his 
leisure to mathematics, astronomy, and the dis- 

2<5o Visions and Beliefs 

covery of perpetual motion. One day he asked 
the clergyman if it was wrong to commune 
with spirits, and said that he himself held that 
"there was an innocent society with them which 
a man might use, if he made no compacts with 
them, did no harm by their means, and were 
not curious in prying into hidden things, and 
he himself had discoursed with them and heard 
them sing to his great satisfaction." He then 
told how it was his custom to go to a crossway 
with lantern and candle consecrated for the pur- 
pose, according to the directions in a book he had, 
and having also consecrated chalk for making a 
circle. The spirits appeared to him "in the like- 
ness of little maidens about a foot and a half high 
. . . they spoke with a very shrill voice like an 
ancient woman" and when he begged them to 
sing, "they went to some distance behind a bush 
from whence he could hear a perfect concert of 
such exquisite music as he never before heard; 
and in the upper part he heard something very 
harsh and shrill like a reed but as it was managed 
did give a particular grace to the rest." The 
Reverend Arthur Bedford refused an introduction 
to the spirits for himself and a friend and warned 
him very solemnly. Having some doubt of his 
sanity, he set him a difficult mathematical prob- 
lem, but finding that he worked it easily, concluded 
him sane. A quarter of a year later, the young 
man came again, but showed by his face and his 
eyes that he was very ill and lamented that he had 

Witches and Wizards 261 

not followed the clergyman's advice for his con- 
jurations would bring him to his death. He had 
decided to get a familiar and had read in his 
magical book what he should do. He was to make 
a book of virgin parchment, consecrate it, and bring 
it to the cross-road, and having called up his 
spirits, ask the first of them for its name and 
write that name on the first page of the book and 
then question another and write that name on the 
second page and so on till he had enough familiars. 
He had got the first name easily enough and it was 
in Hebrew, but after that they came in fearful 
shapes, lions and bears and the like, or hurled at 
him balls of fire. He had to stay there among those 
terrifying visions till the dawn broke and would 
not be the better of it till he died. I have read 
in some eighteenth-century book whose name I 
cannot recall of two men who made a magic circle 
and who invoked the spirits of the moon and 
saw them trampling about the circle as great bulls, 
or rolling about it as flocks of wool. One of Lady 
Gregory's story-tellers considered a flock of wool 
one of the worst shapes that a spirit could take. 
There must have been many like experimenters 
in Ireland. An Irish alchemist called Butler was 
supposed to have made successful transmutations 
in London early in the eighteenth century, and 
in the Life of Dr. Adam Clarke, published in 1833, 
are several letters from a Dublin maker of stained 
glass describing a transmutation and a conjura- 
tion into a tumbler of water of large lizards. The 

262 Visions and Beliefs 

alchemist was an unknown man who had called 
to see him and claimed to do all by the help of 
the devil "who was the friend of all ingenious 

W. B. Y. 




Note i. The Faery People. The first detailed account 
of the Faery People of the Gaelic race was made by the Rev- 
erend Robert Kirk in 1691. His book which remained in 
manuscript till it was discovered by Sir Walter Scott in 1815 
was called The Secret Commonwealth, an essay "of the nature 
of the subterranean (and for the most part invisible people) 
heretofore going under the names of elves, fays, and faeries." 
Kirk was a Gaelic scholar, a translator into Gaelic of the 
Psalms. He is described upon his tomb as Lignce hibernce 
lumen, for in his day little distinction was made between the 
Irish and the Scottish-Irish among whom he lived and whose 
words he has recorded. He died a year after he had finished his 
manuscript or, as the people of his parish say, was taken by the 
faeries. The Reverend William 1 aylor, the present incumbent of 
Abberfoyle, Kirk's old living, told Mr. Wentz that it was generally 
believed at the time of Kirk's death, that the faeries had carried 
him off because he had looked too deeply into their secrets. He 
seems to have fainted while walking upon a faery knoll, a little 
way from his own door, and to have died immediately. Mr. 
Wentz found one old Gaelic speaker who believed that his spirit 
had been taken, but others who said there was nothing in the 
grave but a coffin full of stones, for body and soul had been 
taken. Mr. Lang prints a tradition that Kirk appeared to his 
cousin Graham of Ducray and could have been saved if the cousin 
had dared to throw a knife over the apparition's head. 

Kirk describes "the subterranean people" or "the abstruse 
people," as he sometimes calls them, much as they are described 
today in Galway or in Mayo. He is clear that they are not 
demons and like Father Sinistrari, a Catholic theologian of 
Padua, quotes the Scriptures in support of this opinion. The 
"abstruse people" are not indeed, without sin though midway 


266 Visions and Beliefs 

between men and angels, but being in no way "drenched into so 
gross and dredgy bodies as we, are especially given to the more 
spiritual and haughty sins. " "Whatever their own laws, be sure 
according to ours and equity natural civil and revealed" they do 
wrong by "their stealing of nurses to their children and that other 
sort of Plaginism in catching our children away (may seem to 
heir some estate in those invisible dominions) which never return. 
For the inconvenience of their succubi who tryst with men it is 
abominable, but for swearing and intemperance they are not 
observed so subject to this irregularity as to envy, spite, hypocri- 
sy, lying, and simulation. " Some have thought the spirit controls 
of our best mediums no better. "They are not subject to sore 
sickness, but dwindle and decay at a certain period all about ane 
age" and "they pass after a long healthy life into one orb and 
receptacle fitted to their degree till they come under the general 
cognism at the last day." They are the "Sleagh Math or the 
good people" being called so by the "Irish" . . . "to prevent the 
dint of their ill-attempts " and being "of a middle nature betwixt 
man and angel" have "intelligent, studious spirits, and light 
changeable bodies (like those called astral) somewhat of the 
nature of a condensed cloud and best seen in twilight. Their 
bodies are so pliable through the subtlety of the spirits that agi- 
tate them that they can make them appear or disappear at 
pleasure. Some have bodies or vehicles so spongeous, thin, and 
desiccate, that they are fed by only sucking into some fine spiri- 
tuous liquors that pierce like pure air and oil; others feed more 
gross on the f oisone or substance of corns and liquors or corn itself 
that grows upon the surface of the earth which these faeries 
steal away, partly invisible, partly preying on the grain as do 
crows and mice. " Lady Gregory has a story of the crying of new 
dropped lambs of faery in November and some evidence that 
there is a reversal of the seasons, our winter being their summer, 
and some such belief was known to Kirk for "when we have 
plenty they have scarcity at their homes ; and on the contrary (for 
they are empowered to catch as much prey everywhere as they 
please)." "Their bodies of congealed air are sometimes carried 
aloft, other whiles grovel in different shapes and enter into any 
cranny or cleft of the earth where air enters to their ordinary 
dwellings, the earth being full of cavities and cells and there 
being no place nor creature but is supposed to have other animals 
greater or lesser, living in or upon it as inhabitants, and no such 

Notes 267 

thing as a pure wilderness in the whole universe" and we must 
always "labour for that abstruse people as well as for ourselves." 
Unless Kirk is in error, as seems probable, they are unlike the 
Irish faeries who shift but twice a year in May and in November, 
when the ancient Irish perhaps shifted from their winter houses to 
summer pastures or home again, for they have formed the custom 
to "remove to other lodgings at the beginning of each quarter of 
the year, so traversing till doomsday some being impudent [im- 
potent?] of staying in one place and finding some ease by so purn- 
ing [turning] and changing habitations," and at these times 
they are much seen when "their chameleon-like bodies swim in 
the air near the earth with bag and baggage." He is evidently 
puzzled how to place them among the orders and admits that 
it is uncertain " what at the last revolution will become of them 
when they are locked up into ane unchangeable condition." He 
even believes that they are so beset with anxiety upon this sub- 
ject that have they "any frolic fits of mirth 'tis as the confirmed 
grinning of a mort head." 

Many of the second-sighted men about him would have 
nothing of this doctrine and still believed, it seems, the old Celtic 
theory of the rebirth of the soul, a Manichaean and gnostic 
doctrine, for being "unwary in their observations" they believed 
what the "abstruse people" themselves declared "one averring 
those subterranean people to be departed souls attending awhile 
in this inferior state and clothed with bodies procured through 
their alms deeds in this life ; fluid, active ethereal vehicles to hold 
them that they may not scatter or wander or be lost in the totum 
or the first nothing; but if any were so impious as to have given 
no alms they say when the souls of such do depart, they sleep in an 
uncertain state till they resume the terrestrial body." These 
bodies, come at by the giving of alms, suggest to one that body of 
Christ which, as Boehme taught, alone enables the shade to escape 
from turba magna the great wrath and dream-like transforma- 
tion into the shape of beasts. One remembers also the celestial 
body of the seventeenth century Platonists. The power attributed 
to almsgiving calls to mind those tales of clothes given to the 
poor in some ghost's name thereby enabling the ghost to be 
decked out in their double. Lady Gregory has found the idea of 
rebirth in Aran, but in what seems the Cabalistic form not the 
Celtic; and it occurs again and again in the Gaelic romances. 
Cuchulain was the rebirth of Lug; and Mongan who was killed 

268 Visions and Beliefs 

by Arthur of Britain was the rebirth of Finn Mac Cool. 
Here and there through the seventeenth century Platonists, 
Kirk's contemporaries, one finds some story that might have 
been in Lady Gregory's book. Glanvill in the second part of his 
Sadducismus Triumphatus published in 1674 nas an Irish tale 
where the dead and the faeries are associated as in Gal way today. 
"A gentleman in Ireland near to the Earl of Orrery's seat sending 
his butler one afternoon to buy cards; as he passed a field, he, to his 
wonder, espied a company of people sitting round a table, with a 
deal of good cheer before them in the midst of a field. And he 
going up towards them, they all arose and saluted him, and 
desired him to sit down with them." But one of them said these 
words in his ear: "Do nothing this company invites you to." " He 
therefore refused to sit down at the table, and immediately the 
table and all that belonged to it were gone; and the company are 
now dancing and playing upon musical instruments, and the 
butler being desired to join himself to them; but he refusing this 
also, they fall all to work, and he not being to be prevailed with 
to accompany them in working, any more than in feasting and 
dancing, they all disappeared, and the butler is now alone. " For 
some days attempts are made to carry away the butler. During 
one of these he is levitated in the presence of the Earl of 
Orrery and certain of his guests. Then the man who warned 
him to do nothing he was bid, came to his bedside. "'I have 
been dead,' said the spectre or ghost, 'seven years and you know 
that I lived a loose life. And ever since have been hurried up 
and down in a restless condition with the company you saw and 
shall be till the Day of Judgment.' " 

Throughout the Middle Ages, there must have been many 
discussions upon those questions that divided Kirk's Highlanders. 
Were these beings but the shades of men? Were they a separate 
race? Were they spirits of evil? Above all, perhaps, were they 
capable of salvation? Father Sinistrari in De Dcemonialitate et 
Incubis, et Succubis, reprinted in Paris with an English transla- 
tion in 1879, tells a story which must have been familiar through 
the Irish Middle Ages, and the seed of many discussions. The 
Abbot Anthony went once upon a journey to visit St. Paul, the 
first hermit. After travelling for some days into the desert, he met 
a centaur of whom he asked his road and the centaur, muttering 
barbarous and unintelligible words, pointed to the road with his 
outstretched hand and galloped away and hid himself in a wood. 

Notes 269 

St. Anthony went some way further and presently went into a 
valley and met there a little man with goat's feet and horns upon 
his forehead. St. Anthony stood still and made the sign of the 
cross being afraid of some devil's trick. But the sign of the cross 
did not alarm the little man who went nearer and offered some 
dates very respectfully as it seemed to make peace. When the 
old Saint asked him who he was, he said: "I am a mortal, one of 
those inhabitants of the desert called fauns, satyrs, and incubi, 
by the Gentiles. I have come as an ambassador from my people. 
I ask you to pray for us to our common God who came as we 
know for the salvation of the world and who is praised throughout 
the world." We are not told whether St. Anthony prayed but 
merely that he thought of the glory of Christ and thereafter of 
Christ's enemies and turning towards Alexandria said: "Woe 
upon you harlots worshipping animals as God." This tale so 
artfully arranged as it seems to set the pious by the ears may have 
been the original of a tale one hears in Ireland today. I heard or 
read that tale somewhere before I was twenty, for it is the subject 
of one of my first poems. But the priest in the Irish tale, as I 
remember it, tells the little man that there is no salvation for such 
as he and it ends with the wailing of the faery host. Sometimes 
too, one reads in Irish stories of hoof -footed creatures, and it may 
well be that the Irish theologians who read of St. Anthony in 
Sinistrari's authority, St. Hieronymus, thought centaur and 
homunculus were of like sort with the shades haunting their 
own raths and barrows. Father Sinistrari draws the moral that 
those inhabitants of the desert called "fauns and satyrs and 
incubi by the Gentiles" had souls that could be shrived, but 
Irish theologians in a country full of poems very upsetting to 
youth about the women of the Sidhe who could pass, it may be 
even monastic walls, may have turned the doubtful tale the 
other way. Sometimes we are told following the traditions of the 
eleventh-century poems that the Sidhe are "the ancient inhabi- 
tants of the country" but more often still they are fallen angels 
who, because they were too bad for heaven and not bad enough 
for hell, have been sent into the sea and into the waste places. 
More probably still the question was never settled, sometimes 
Christ was represented as throwing them into hell till someone 
said he would empty the whole paradise, and thereupon his hand 
slackened and some fell in this place and some in that other, as 
though providence itself were undecided. Father Sinistrari is 

270 Visions and Beliefs 

conscious of weighty opponents but believes that Scripture is 
upon his side. He quotes St. John, Chapter x., verse 16: "And 
other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must 
bring and they shall hear my voice and there shall be one fold and 
one shepherd. " He argues that the commentators are wrong who 
say that the fold is the synagogue and the other sheep the Gentiles, 
because the true church has been from the beginning of the world, 
and has had nothing to do with Jewish observances, for its revela- 
tions were made to the first man and Jews and Gentiles have 
belonged to it. If the Gentiles were not also of Christ's fold, he 
would not have sent them prodigies to announce his birth, the 
star of the Magi, the silencing of their oracle, a miraculous spring 
of oil at Rome, the falling down of the images of Egyptian gods 
and so on. The other fold should therefore, he thinks, refer 
to those "rational animals" who sent their ambassador to St. 
Anthony and who were to hear Christ's voice "either directly 
through Himself or through His apostles." He argues that they 
are a race superior to the human and must not be confused with 
angels and devils who are pure spirits being in a final state of 
salvation or of judgment. He has written his book as a guide to 
confessors who have frequently, it seems, to protect men and 
women, often nuns or monks, who are plagued by spirits or 
tempted by spirit lovers, and to apportion penalties to those who 
have fallen. It is a great sin should they confuse their lovers with 
devils, for then they "sin through intention," but otherwise it is a 
venal sin, and seeing that incubi and succubi by reason of their 
"rational and immortal" spirits are the equal of man and by 
reason of their bodies being "more noble because more subtle," 
"more dignified than man, " a commerce that does not "degrade 
but rather dignify our nature" (et hoc homo jungens se incubo 
non vilificat, immo dignificat suam naturam). The incubus, 
(or succuba) however, does, he holds, commit a very great sin 
considering that we belong to an inferior species. It is difficult 
to drive them away, for unlike devils they are no more subject 
to exorcism than we are ourselves, but just as we cannot breathe 
in the higher peaks of the Alps because of the thinness of the air, 
so they cannot come near to us if we make certain conditions of 
the air. They are of different kinds but always one or other of 
the four elements predominates, and those who are predominantly 
fiery cannot come if we make the air damp, and those that are 
watery cannot come if we use hot fumigations and so on. You 

Notes 271 

can generally judge the kind by remembering that a man attracts 
spirits according to his own temperament, the sanguine, the 
spirits of fire, and the lymphatic, those of watery nature, and 
those of a mixed nature, mixed spirits; but it is easy to make 
mistakes. He tells of the case that came into his own experience. 
He was asked to drive a spirit away that was troubling a young 
monk and advised hot fumigations because it was by their means 
"a very erudite theologian" drove away a spirit who made 
passionate love in the form of "a very handsome young man to a 
certain young nun" after holy candles burning all night and "a 
crowd of relics and many exorcisms" had proved of but as little 
value as her own vows and fasts. A vessel made of "glass-like 
earth" containing "cubeb seed, roots of both aristolochies, great 
and small cardamon, ginger, long pepper, caryophylias, cinnamon, 
cloves, mace, nutmeg, calamite, storax, benzoin, aloes wood root, 
one ounce of triasandates and three pounds of half brandy and 
water, " was set upon hot ashes to make it fume, and the door and 
window of the cell were closed. The young friar, a deacon of the 
great Carthusian priory of Padua, was further advised to carry 
about with him perfumes of musk, amber, chive, peruvian bark, 
and the like, and to smoke tobacco and drink brandy perfumed 
with musk. All was to no purpose for the spirit appeared to him 
in many forms such as "a skeleton, a pig, an ass, an angel, a bird" 
or " in the figure of one or other of the friars. ' ' These appearances 
seem to have had no object except that like the Irish faeries the 
spirit was pleased to make game of somebody. Presently it came 
in the likeness of the abbot and heard the young deacon's 
confession and recited with him the psalms Exsurgat Deus 
and Qui habitat and the Gospel according to St. John, and 
bent its knee at the words Verbum caro factum est, and then 
after sprinkling with holy water and blessing bed and cell and 
commanding the spirit to come there no more, it vanished. 
Presently in the likeness of the young friar, it called at the vicar's 
room and asked for some tobacco and brandy perfumed with 
musk of which it was, it said, extremely fond, and having received 
them "disappeared in the twinkling of an eye." Sinistrari, 
however, having decided that the demon must be igneous or "at 
the very least aerial, since he delighted in hot substances" and 
since the monk's temperament seemed "choleric and sanguine," 
advised the vicar to direct his penitent to strew about the cell 
and hang by the window and door bundles of "water-lily, liver- 

272 Visions and Beliefs 

wort, spurge, mandrake, house-leek, plantain," and henbane and 
other herbs of a damp nature which drove the spirit away though 
it came once to the cell door to speak of Sinistrari all the evil it 
could. He has other like stories; one to show the uselessness 
of mere sacred places and objects, describes a woman followed to 
the steps of the Cathedral altar and there stripped by invisible 

One remembers a passage in Plutarch: "But to believe the 
gods have carnal knowledge, and do delight in the outward 
beauty of creatures, that seemeth to carry a very hard belief. 
Yet the wise Egyptians think it probable enough and likely, that 
the spirit of the gods hath given original of generation to women, 
and does beget fruits of their bodies; howbeit they hold that a 
man can have no corporal company with any divine nature." 

One hears today in Galway, stories of love adventures between 
countrywomen or countrymen and the People of Faery — there 
are several in this book and these adventures have been always a 
principal theme to Gaelic poets. A goddess came to Cuchulain 
upon the battlefield, but sometimes it is the mortal who must go 
to them. "Oh beautiful woman, will you come with me to the 
wonderful country that is mine? It is pleasant to be looking at 
the people there: beautiful people without any blemish; their 
hair is of the colour of the flag flower, their fair body is as white 
as snow, the colour of the foxglove is on every cheek. The young 
never grow old there, the fields and the flowers are as pleasant to 
be looking at as the blackbird's eggs; warm and sweet streams of 
mead and wine flow through that country; there is no care and no 
sorrow upon any person ; we see others, but we ourselves are not 
seen." Did Dame Kettler, a great lady of Kilkenny who was 
accused of witchcraft early in the fifteenth century, find such a 
lover when she offered up the combs of cocks and the bronzed 
tail feathers of nine peacocks; or had she indeed, as her enemies 
affirmed at the trial, been enamoured with "one of the meaner 
sort of hell"? 

Note 2. This light occurs again and again in modern spiritism 
as in old legends. It shows in some form in almost every dark 
seance. Grettir the Strong saw it over buried treasure. It 
surrounded the head of Hereward the Wake in childhood, and 
in the middle of the nineteenth century. Baron Reichenbach 
called it "odic light" and published much evidence taken down 

Notes 273 

from his "sensitives" who saw it about crystals, magnets, and 
one another, and over new-made graves. Holman Hunt repre- 
sents in his Flight into Egypt the souls of the Innocents encircled 
by creeping and clinging fire. When this fire encircles a good 
spirit it is generally described as white and brilliant, but about the 
evil as lurid and smoky. 

Note 3. When I was a boy, there was a countryman in a 
Sligo madhouse who was sane in all ways except that he saw, in 
pools and rivers, beings who called and beckoned. I have myself 
known a landscape painter who after painting a certain stagnant 
pool was nightly afflicted by a dream of strange shapes, bidding 
him to drown himself there. The obsession was so strong that he 
could not throw it off during his waking hours, and for some days 
struggled with the temptation. I was with him at the time and 
had noticed his growing gloom and had questioned him about it. 

Note 4. Bran, in the Voyage of Bran when sailing, meets 
Manannan the sea-god. "And Manannan spoke to him in a song, 
and it is what he said: 

"It is what Bran thinks, he is going in his curragh over the 
wonderful, beautiful, clear sea; but to me, from far off in my 
chariot, it is a flowery plain he is riding on. 

"What is a clear sea to the good boat Bran is in, is a happy 
plain with many flowers to me in my two-wheeled chariot. 

"It is what Bran sees, many waves beating across the clear 
sea; it is what I myself see, red flowers without any fault. 

"The sea-horses are bright in summer-time, as far as Bran's 
eyes can reach ; there is a wood of beautiful acorns under the head 
of your little boat. 

"A wood with blossom and with fruit, that has the smell of 
wine; a wood without fault, without withering, with leaves of the 
colour of gold. " {Gods and Fighting Men, by Lady Gregory.) 

Note 5. Swedenborg describes these colours and I have a note 
of similar visions as seen by a fellow-student of mine at the 
Dublin Art School. Mrs. Besant in her Ancient Wisdom and 
other writers of the Modern Theosophical School describe them 
and moralize about them. 
vol 1— 18 

274 Visions and Beliefs 

Note 6. There are constant stories in the history of modern 
spiritism of people carried through the air often for considerable 
distances. It is not my business to weigh the evidence at this 
moment, for I am concerned only with similarity of belief. The 
medium, Mrs. Guppy, somewhere in the "sixties" was believed 
to have been carried from Hampstead, a pen in one hand and an 
account book in the other, and dropped on to the middle of a table 
in South Conduit Street. Lord Dunraven was one of a number of 
witnesses who testified to having seen the medium Hume float 
out of one window of the upper room, where they were sitting, 
and in at another window. I read the other day in a spiritistic 
paper, of two boys carried through the air in Italy and dropped in 
front of a bishop who immediately handed them over to the 
police. And of course the folk-lore of all countries and the legends 
of the saints are full of such tales. 

Note 7. The offering to the Sidhe is generally made at 
Hallowe'en, the old beginning of winter, and upon that night I 
was told when a boy the offering was still made in the slums of 

Note 8. Father Sinistrari speaks of a like commerce between 
beasts and spirits. "Et non solum hoc evenit cum mulieribus, 
sed etiam cum equabus, cum quibus commicetur; quae si libenter 
coitum admittunt, ab eo curantur optime, ac ipsarum jubae varie 
artificiosis et inextricabilibus nodis texuntur; si autem ilium 
adversentur, eas male tractat, percutit, macras reddit, et tandem 
necat, ut quotidiana constat experienta. 

Note 9. Houses built upon faery paths are thought to be 
unlucky. Often the thatch will be blown away, or their inhabi- 
tants die or suffer misfortune. 

Note 10. The number of quotations I can find to prove the 
universality of the thought that the dead and other spirits change 
their shape as they please is but lessened by the fewness of the 
books that are near my hand in the country where I am writing. 
John Heydon, "a servant of God and secretary of nature," 
writing in 1662 in The Rosie Cross Uncovered which is the last 
book of his Holy Guide says that a man may become one of the 
heroes: "A hero, " he writes, " is a daemon, or good genius, and a 

Notes 275 

genius a partaker of divine things and a companion of the holy 
company of unbodied souls and immortal angels who live accord- 
ing to their vehicles a versatile life, turning themselves proteus- 
like into any shape." 

And Mrs. Besant, a typical writer of the modern Theosophical 
School, insists upon these changes of form, especially among those 
spirits that are most free from the terrestrial body and explains 
it by saying that, "astral matter takes form under every impulse 
of thought." Swedenborg I have already quoted in my long 
essay, but to prove that the shape-changer is a part of general 
literature — I have but Wordsworth and Milton under my hand. 
When the white doe of Rylstone shows itself at the church door 
according to its Sunday custom, one has one tale to tell, another 
another, but an Oxford student will have it that it is the faery 
that loved a certain "shepherd-lord. " 

"'Twas said that she all shapes could wear." 
And Milton writes like any Platonist of his time: 

"For Spirits, when they pie 
Can either sex assume, or both ; so soft 
And uncompounded is their essence pure, 
Not ty'd or manacled with joint or limb, 
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones, 
Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose, 
Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure, 
Can execute their aery purposes, 
And works of love or enmity fulfil." 

Note i i . The seers and healers in this section differ but little 
from clairvoyants and spirit mediums of the towns, and explain 
their powers in much the same way. Indeed one of Lady Greg- 
ory's story-tellers will have it that America is more full than 
Ireland of faeries, and describes the mediums there to prove it. 
It is often through some virtue in these country seers and healers 
that the faeries or spirits are able to affect men and women and 
natural objects. Mrs. Sheridan says that a child could not have 
been taken if she had not been looking on, and one hears again and 
again that even when the faeries fight among themselves or play 
at hurley, there must be a man upon either side. We are all in a 
sense mediums, if the village seer speaks truth, for through any 

276 Visions and Beliefs 

unsanctified emotion, love, affection, admiration, the spirits may 
attain power over a child or horse or whatever is before our eyes, 
and perhaps, as the controls of mediums will sometimes say, they 
can only see the world through our eyes. Albert de Rochas, 
borrowing a theory from the seventeenth century, has suggested 
with the general assent of spiritists that the fluidic or sidereal 
body of the medium, the mould upon which the physical body is, 
it may be, built up, is more detachable than in persons who are not 
mediums, and that the spirits make themselves visible by trans- 
forming it into their own shape or into what shape they please and 
attain by its means a power over physical objects. (See L'Exteri- 
orisation de la Motricite.) Instead of the expensive crystal of the 
Bond Street clairvoyant, Biddy Early gazed into her bottle, but 
that is almost the whole difference. If the dreams and visions of 
Connacht have more richness and beauty than those of Camber- 
well, it is that Connacht, having no doubts as to our survival of 
death, is not always looking for but one sort of evidence, and so 
can let things happen as they will. The brother or sister or the 
like who comes to the knowledgeable man or woman after death 
is but the "guide" that has been so common in England and 
America, since the Rochester rappings, and a country form of 
Plutarch's "daemon." At other moments, however, "seer" or 
"healer" resembles a witch or wizard rather than a modern 

In one thing, however, they always resemble the medium and 
not the witch. They seem to have no dealings with the devil. 
The Irish Trials for witchcraft of the English and continental 
type took place among the English settlers. I have never come 
across a case of a "compact" nor has Lady Gregory, nor have I 
read of one. 

Note 12. It is almost unthinkable to Lady Gregory and 
myself, who know Mrs. Sheridan, that she can ever have seen a 
drawbridge in a picture or heard one spoken of. Nor does this 
instance stand alone. I have had in my own family what seemed 
the accurate calling up of an unknown past but failing a link of 
difficult evidence still unfound, coincidence, though exceedingly 
unlikely, is still a possible explanation. I have come upon a 
number of other cases which are, though no one case is decisive, 
a powerful argument taken altogether. In The Adventure (Mac- 

Notes 277 

Millan), an elaborate vision of this kind is recorded in detail and, 
accepting the record as accurate, the verification is complete. 
Two ladies found themselves in the garden of the Petit Trianon 
in the midst of what seemed to be the court of Marie Antoinette, 
in just the same sudden way in which some countryman finds 
himself among ladies and gentlemen dressed in what seem the 
clothes of a long passed time. The record purports to have been 
made in November and December 1901, whereas the vision 
occurred in August. This lapse of time does not seem to me to 
destroy the value of the evidence, if the record was made before 
its corroboration by long and difficult research. ' Accepting the 
good faith of the narrators, both well-known women and of 
established character, its evidence for some more obscure cause 
than unconscious memory can only be weakened by the discovery 
in some book or magazine accessible to the visionaries before their 
visit to the Trianon, of historical information on such minute 
points as the dress Marie Antoinette wore in a particular month, 
and the position of ornamental buildings and rock work not now 
in existence. There is a great mass of similar evidence in Denton's 
Soul of Things though its value is weakened by his not sufficiently 
allowing for thought transference from his own mind to that of 
his sensitives. 

A " theosophist " or "occultist" of almost any modern school 
explains such visions by saying they are "pictures in the astral 
light" and that all objects and events leave their images in the 
astral light as upon a photographic plate, and that we must dis- 
tinguish between spirits and these unintelligent pictures. I was 
once at Madame Blavatsky's when she tried to explain predes- 
tination, our freedom and God's full knowledge of the use that 
we should make of it. All things past and to come were present 
to the mind of God and yet all things were free. She soon saw 
that she had carried us out of our depth and said to one of her 
followers with a mischievous, mocking voice: "You with your 
impudence and your spectacles will be sitting there in the Akasa 

1 Since writing the above the authors of An Adventure have 
shown me a mass of letters proving that they spoke of the 
visions to various correspondents before the corroboration, and 
showing the long and careful research that the corroboration 
involved. W. B. Y. 

October, 1918. 

278 Visions and Beliefs 

to all eternity" and then in a more meditative voice, "No, not to 
all eternity for a day will come when even the Akasa will pass 
away and there will be nothing but God, chaos, that which every 
man is seeking in his heart." Akasa, she was accustomed to 
explain as some Indian word for the astral light. Perhaps that 
theory of the astral pictures came always from the despair of 
some visionary to find understanding for a more metaphysical 
theory. It is, however, ancient. To Cornelius Agrippa it is the 
air that reflects, but the air is something more than what the 
word means for us. "It is a vital spirit passing through all 
beings giving life and substance to all things ... it imme- 
diately receives into itself the influences of all celestial bodies, 
and then communicates them to the other elements as also to all 
mixed bodies. Also it receives into itself as if it were a divine 
looking-glass the species of all things, as well natural as artificial," 
it enters into men and animals "through their pores" and "makes 
an impression upon them as well when they sleep as when they 
awake and affords matter to divers strange dreams and divina- 
tions. . . . Hence it is that a man passing by a place where 
a man was slain and the carcase newly laid is moved by fear and 
dread; because the air in that place being full of the dread species 
of man-slaughter does being breathed in, move and trouble the 
spirit of the man with a like species . . . whence it is that 
many philosophers were of the opinion that the air is the cause 
of dreams." Henry More is more precise and philosophical and 
believes that this air which he calls Spiritus Mundi contains all 
forms, so that the parents when a child is begotten, or a witch 
when the double is projected as a hare, but as it were, call upon 
the Spiritus Mundi for the form they need. The name "Astral 
Light" was given to this air or spirit by the Abbe Constant who 
wrote under the pseudonym of Elephas LeVi and like Madame 
Blavatsky, claimed to be the voice of an ancient magical society. 
In his Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie published in the fifties, he 
described in vague, eloquent words, influenced perhaps by the 
recent discovery of the daguerreotype these pictures which we 
continually confuse with the still animate shades. A more 
clear exposition of a perhaps always incomprehensible idea 
is that of Swedenborg who says that when we die, we live 
over again the events that lie in all their minute detail in 
our memory, and this is the explanation of the authors of The 
Adventure who believe, as it seems, that they were entangled 

Notes 279 

in the memory of Marie Antoinette. I have met students who 
claimed to have had knowledge of Levi's sources and who believed 
that when at last a spirit has been, as it were, pulled out of 
its coil, other spirits may use its memory, not only of events 
but of words and of thoughts. Did Cornelius Agrippa iden- 
tify soul with memory when, after quoting Ovid to prove 
that the flesh cleaves to earth, the ghost hovers over the grave, 
the soul sinks to Oxos, and the spirit rises to the stars, he explains 
that if the soul has done well it rejoices with the almost fault- 
less spirit, but if it has done ill, the spirit judges it and leaves it 
for the devil's prey and "the sad soul wanders about hell without 
a spirit and like an image?" Remembering these writings and 
sayings, I find new meaning in that description of death taken 
down by Lady Gregory in some cottage: "The shadow goes 
wandering and the soul is tired and the body is taking a rest." 

I was once talking with Professor James of experiences like to 
those in The Adventure and said that I found it easiest to under- 
stand them by believing in a memory of nature distinguished 
from individual memory, though including and enclosing it. He 
would, however, have none of my explanation and preferred to 
think the past, present, and future were only modes of our per- 
ception and that all three were in the divine mind, present at 
once. It was Madame Blavatsky's thought, and Shelley's in the 
Sensitive Plant: 

" That garden sweet, that lady fair, 
And all sweet shapes and odours there, 
In truth have never passed away; 
'Tis we, 'tis ours, are changed, not they. 

" For love, and beauty, and delight, 
There is no death nor change; their light 
Exceeds our organs, which endure 
No light, being themselves obscure.'* 

Note 13. The ancient Irish had quadrilateral houses built of 
logs, and round houses of clay and wattles. O 'Sullivan, in his 
introduction to O'Curry's Manners and Customs, writes: "The 
houses built in Duns and in stone caiseal, and those surrounded by 
mounds of earth, were, probably in all cases round houses." A 
Bo Aires, or farmer with ten cows was supposed to have a house 

280 Visions and Beliefs 

at least twenty-seven feet wide but the houses of better off 
men must have made one room of considerable size, a whole 
household sleeping on beds, sometimes with low partitions be- 
tween, raying out from the wall like spokes of a wheel. Petrie 
thought the great quadrilateral banqueting hall of Tara was once 
ninety feet wide. 

Note 14. In The Roman Ritual, there is an exorcism for 
evil spirits and a ceremony for the succour of the sick (cura 
infirmorum). And in the beginning of the chapter containing 
this ceremony (Caput IV., verse 12), it is stated that images 
of Christ, the Virgin, and of saints especially in veneration of 
the sick man, may cure him if brought into the room. In the 
ceremony of exorcism, the priest is directed to make numerous 
signs of the cross over the possessed person (sic. rubric: Tres 
cruces sequentes fiant in pectore dcemoniaci). The spirit is com- 
manded to be gone in the name of the Father, of the Son, and 
of the Holy Spirit. The ceremony with psalms covers twenty-six 
pages of my copy. The exorcism is described as a driving out of 
the "most unclean spirit" of every phantasm and every legion. 
It commands the "most evil dragon, in the name of the immacu- 
late lamb who walked upon the asp and the basilisk and cast down 
the lion and the dragon " to " go down out of this man. " 

In the ceremony for the sick, the priest places his hand on the 
head of the sick man and says: 

"Let them place their hands on the sick and they shall be well 
[Super cegros manus imponent, et bene habebunt]. May Christ 
Son of Mary, Saviour of the world and Lord, by the merits and 
intercession of his holy apostles Peter and Paul and of all the 
saints be clement and propitious to you." 

The ceremony is ten pages and contains various psalms and 
selections from the Gospels. 

Round these two ceremonies have gathered in the minds of the 
country people, at least, many traditional ideas. When any one 
is cured, there is a victim, some other human being or some animal 
will die. If one remembers that diseases were very commonly 
considered to be the work of demons, one sees how the story of the 
Gadarene swine would support the tradition. I know not into 
what subtlety the dreaming mind may not carry the thought, for 
some few months ago in France, an excommunicated miracle- 
working priest said in my hearing: "There is always a victim; 

Notes 281 

so-and-so was the victim for France," naming a holy Italian nun 
who had just died. "And so-and-so," naming a living holy 
woman, "is the victim for my own village." Various medieval 
saints, and even certain witches, cured sick persons by taking the 
disease upon themselves. 

Christian Scientists and Mental Healers are often afraid of 
themselves acquiring the disease which they drive out of their 
patient ; they sometimes speak of the effort that it costs them to 
shake it off. I was told a story the other day, which I have 
proved not to be true, but which is evidence of the belief. A 
woman said to me some such words as these: " My friend so-and- 
so, who is a Mental Healer, was staying in the country. She saw a 
woman there with a strange look. She asked what was wrong, and 
found that this woman was expecting a periodical fit of madness. 
She offered to undertake her cure, and brought her to her own 
house. The patient became violent, but my friend was able by 
faith and prayer to soothe her till she fell asleep. My friend went 
downstairs exhausted, and lay upon the sofa. Presently she saw 
strange shadows coming into the room and knew they had come 
from the patient upstairs, and these shadows, taking the form of 
swine, threw themselves upon her and only after a long struggle 
could she throw them off. " The swine and their attack were all 
moonshine, but the healer, whom I found and questioned, did 
believe that she saw shadows leaving the patient. 

The transference of disease was a generally recognized part of 
medieval and ancient medicine; and Albert de Rochas gives 
considerable space to it in his U Exteriorization de la Sensibilite, 
Paris, 1909. He quotes from a seventeenth-century writer, Abbe" 
de Vellemort, many examples from medical and scientific writers 
of that time who believed themselves to have transferred diseases 
from their patients to animals and to trees and to various sub- 
stances, "Mumia" as they called them, which absorb des esprits 
qui resident dans le sang and then describes various experiments 
made in 1885 by Dr. Babinski "Chef de Clinique de M. Charcot" 
in transferring now by magnets, now by suggestion various forms 
of nervous disease from one patient to another. Where these 
diseases were produced in the first instance by suggestion, the 
patient from whom the disease was transferred, was freed from it f 
but where the disease was natural and the cause of the patient 
being at the hospital, there was no cure although in one case 
there was improvement. Albert de Rochas then quotes as 

282 Visions and Beliefs 

follows from a lecture given by Dr. Luys to La Soci£te* de Biolo- 
gie in 1894. 

"M. D'Arsonval has, according to a communication from an 
English physician, given an account at the last meeting of the 
Socidte de Biologie, of the persistent action in a magnetized iron 
bar of the magnetic fluid, which to a certain extent, kept a memory 
of its former state. 

"My researches of the same kind have given me proofs some 
time since of analogous phenomena with the help of magnetized 
crowns placed on the head of a subject in an hypnotic state. 

" In this case, it is a question not only of storing vibrations of 
magnetic nature, but of really living nature, of real cerebral 
vibrations through the coating of the brain, stored in a magnetic 
crown, in which they remain for a greater or less length of time. 

" To arrive at this phenomenon, instead of using an unresponsive 
physical instrument, I use a reacting living being — an hypnotized 
subject, who has thus become sensitive to living magnetic vibra- 
tions. I am presenting to the Society the magnetized crown, like 
several other models which I have already shown. It is adapted 
to the head by means of a system of straps, encircles it and leaves 
the frontal region free. 

"It also forms a bent magnet with a positive and a negative 
pole. This crown was put, more than a year ago, on the head of a 
woman suffering from melancholia with ideas of persecution, 
agitation, and a tendency to suicide, etc. The application of the 
crown lead to the patient's getting slowly better after five or six 
stances; and at the end of ten days I thought I could send her 
back to the hospital without any danger. At the end of a fort- 
night, the crown having been isolated, the idea came to me quite 
empirically of placing it on the head of the ' subject ' now before 

"He is a male, hypnotizable, hystSrique, given to frequent fits 
of lethargy. What was my surprise to see this subject, put into 
the somnambulistic state, complaining in exactly the same terms 
as those the cured patient had used a fortnight before. 

"He first of all took on the sex of the patient; he spoke in the 
feminine gender; he complained of violent headache; he said he 
was going mad, that his neighbours came into his room to do him 
harm. In a word, the hypnotic subject had, thanks to the mag- 
netized crown, taken on the cerebral state of the melancholic 
patient. The magnetized crown had been powerful enough to 

Notes 283 

draw off the morbid cerebral influx of the patient (who got well), 
which had persisted, like a memory, in the intimate (or innermost) 
texture of the magnetic strip of metal. 

"This is a phenomenon we have produced many times, for 
several years; not only with the subject now present, but with 

"This communication is, amongst physiological phenomena, 
on a line with M. D'Arsonval's on the persistence of certain 
anterior states in inorganic bodies; it will no doubt cause much 
astonishment and scepticism amongst those who are not accus- 
tomed to hypnologic research. 

"Doubts will be cast on the sincerity of the subject, on his 
tendency to produce wonders, to being carried away, and also on 
what may perhaps seem too easy an acquiescence on the part of 
the operator. 

"To all these objections I will only answer: that this pheno- 
menon of the transmission of the psychical states of a subject by 
means of a magnetized crown which keeps given impressions is 
quite in the order of the phenomena formerly communicated by 
M. D'Arsonval. And, further, the first time I made this experi- 
ment, it was done without my knowing, in an entirely empirical 
way. The impregnated crown was put on the head of the hyp- 
notic subject about a fortnight after it had been put on the 
patient's head. There has therefore necessarily been a first opera- 
tion, of which I did not foreknow the results; for we did not know 
any more than the hypnotized subject, what was going to happen, 
and the subject reacted, motu proprio, without any excitant other 
than the magnetic crown. 

" So one can assert, without trying to draw any other conclusions, 
that certain vibratory states of the brain, and probably of the 
nervous system, are capable of storing themselves in a magnetized 
bent strip of metal, as the magnetic fluid is stored in the soft bar 
of iron, and of leaving persistent traces; still further, that one 
can only destroy this persistent magnetic property by fire. The 
crown has to be red-hot before it ceases to act, as M. D'Arsonval 
found to be the case with the iron bar." 

Albert de Rochas makes this notable comment: 

"The same phenomenon would certainly have been produced 
had the patient been dead, and so one might by this means have 
a sort of evocation of a personality no longer of this world. " 

284 Visions and Beliefs 

Note 15. As late as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
the Irish were accustomed to leave their houses on the plains and 
valleys in spring and live with their cattle on the uplands, return- 
ing to the valleys and plains in time to reap the harvest. Before 
tillage became general they may not have returned till the chill of 
autumn. From this perhaps came the faery flittings of May and 

Note 16. The pictures shown were drawings of spirits 
"A. E. " made from his own visions. The yellow thing upon the 
head was, I suppose, some sort of crown. These countrywomen 
have seen so little gold that they do not describe anything as "of 
gold" or "like gold." They will say of yellow hair that it is 
"bright like silver." 

Note 17. The death-coach or more properly coiste-bodhar or 
"deaf-coach," so called from its rumbling sound. It is usually 
an omen of death. 

Note 18. The thing "yellow and slippery, not hair but like 
marble" is evidently a crown of gold. Are these spirits in dress 
of ancient authority the shepherds of the more recent dead? 

Note 19. I have read somewhere, but cannot remember 
where, that ragweed was once used to make some medicine for 
horses. This would account for its association with them in the 
half-fantasy, half-vision of the country seers. In the same way, 
the mushroom ring of the faeries is, it seems, a memory of some 
intoxicating liquor made of mushrooms, when intoxication was 
mysterious. The storyteller speaks of "those red flowers," 
showing how vague her sense of colour, or her knowledge of 
English, for ragweed is, of course, yellow. 

Note 20. " Bracket " is Irish for " speckled " and seems to me 
a description of the plaids and stripes of medieval Ireland. 

Note 21. Bodin in his De Magorum Dtetnonomania speaks of 
salt as a spell against spirits because a "symbol of eternity." 

Note 22. Tir-na-n-og, the country of the young, the paradise 
of the ancient Irish. It is sometimes described as under the 

Notes 285 

earth, sometimes as all about us, and sometimes as an enchanted 
island. This island paradise has given rise to many legends; 
sailors have bragged of meeting it. A Dutch pilot settled 
in Dublin in 1614, claimed to have seen it off the coast of 
Greenland in 61 ° of latitude. It vanished as he came near, but 
sailing in an opposite direction he came upon it once more, but 
Giraldus Cambrensis claimed that shortly before he came to 
Ireland such a phantom island was discovered off the west coast 
of Ireland and made habitable. Some young men saw it from the 
shore; when they came near it, it sank into the water. The next 
day it reappeared and again mocked the same youths with the 
like delusion. At length, on their rowing towards it on the third 
day, they followed the advice of an older man, and let fly an 
arrow, barbed with red-hot steel, against the island; and then 
landing, found it stationary and habitable. 

Note 23. Supernatural strength is often spoken of by the people 
as a sign of faery power. It is also enumerated in The Roman Ritual 
among the signs of possession. I have read somewhere that the 
priests of Apollo showed it in their religious transports. 

Note 24. "Materializations" are generally imperfect. The 
spirit makes just enough of mind and form for its purpose. Even 
when the form is only visible to the clairvoyant there may still be 
materialization, though not carried far enough to affect ordinary 

Note 25. The picture was made by "A. E." of one of the 
formsThe sees in vision. 

Note 26. The barrel which contained a brew that made the 
spirits invisible is probably the cauldron of the god Dagda, 
called "The Undry" "because it was never empty." The 
Tuatha-de-Danaan, the old Irish divine race, brought with them 
to Ireland four talismans, the sword, the spear, the stone, and 
the cauldron. Rhys, in his Celtic Heathendom, compares it with 
the Irish well of wisdom, overhung by nine hazels, and the 
Welsh "Cauldron of the Head of Hades," set over a fire, blown 
into a flame by the breath of nine young girls. Girls and hazels 
were alike, he thinks, symbols of time because of the nine days 
of the old Celtic week, and comparable with the nine Muses, 

286 Visions and Beliefs 

daughters of Memory. Nutt thought the Celtic cauldron the 
first form of the Holy Grail. 

Note 27. In my record of this conversation I find a sentence 
that has dropped out in Lady Gregory's. The old man used these 
words: "And I took down a fork from the rafters and asked her 
was it a broom and she said it was," and it was that answer that 
proved her in the power of the faeries. She was "suggestible" 
and probably in a state of trance. 

Note 28. The Dundonians are, of course, the Tuatha-de- 
Danaan, and those with the bag are the "firbolg" or "bag-men, " 
we have now, it may be, a true explanation of a name Professor 
Rhys has interpreted with intricate mythology. I wonder if 
these bags are related to the Sporran of the Highlanders. 

Note 29. Here though maybe but in seeming, spiritism and 
folk-lore are at issue with one another. The spirit of the seance 
room is described as growing to maturity and remaining in that 
state. In Swedenborg it moves toward "the day-spring of its 
youth." Among the country people too, one sometimes hears of 
the dead growing to the likeness of thirty years in heaven and 
remaining so. Thirty years, I suppose, because at that age Christ 
began his ministry. The idea that underlies Mrs. Fagan's 
statement seems to be that we have a certain measure of life to 
live out on earth or in some intermediate state. Are the inhabi- 
tants of this "intermediate state" the "earthbound" of the 

Note 30. Professor Lombroso quotes from Professor Faffofer 
the following description of how he received news of the death of 
Carducci: "On the 18th of February, in the evening, our spirit- 
friends did not at once give us notice of their presence at our 
sitting, and we waited for them about half an hour. 'Remigo,' 
on being asked the reason why they had delayed, replied: ' We are 
in a state of agitation and confusion here. We have just come 
from a festival — of grief for you and joy for us. We have been 
present at the death-bed of Carducci. " He had died that day 
and in that very hour and the news had not yet arrived by the 
ordinary channels." 

Notes 287 

Note 31. I was the patient; it seemed to be the only way of 
coming to intimate speech with the knowledgeable man. 

Note 32. The ghosts of "spiritism" are constantly changing 
place or state. Sometimes for this reason they must say "good- 
bye" to a medium. That they are passing to a "higher state" 
seems to be the usual phrase. See for instance the account signed 
by A. I. Smart and a number of witnesses, published in The 
Medium and Daybreak, of June 15, 1877. 

Note 33. I have been several times told that a great battle for 
the potatoes preceded the great famine. What decays with us 
seems to come out, as it were, on the other side of the picture and 
is spirits' property. 

Note 34. This is true but he might have guessed it from the 
difference of my glasses; one is plain glass. 

Note 35. They are only small when "upon certain errands," 
but when small, three feet or thereabouts seems to be the almost 
invariable height. Mary Battle, my uncle George Pollexfen's 
second-sighted servant told me that "it is something in our eyes 
makes them big or little." People in trance often see objects 
reduced. Mrs. Piper when half awakened will sometimes see 
the people about her very small. 

Note 36. The same story as that in one of the most beautiful 
of the " Noh " plays of Japan. I tell the Japanese story in my 
long terminal essay. 

Note 37. Mediums have often said that the spirits see this 
world through our eyes. John Heydon, upon the other hand, 
calls good spirits " The eyes and ears of God." 

Note 38. The herbs were gathered before dawn, probably 
that the dew might be upon them. Dew, a signature or symbol of 
the philosopher's stone, was held once to be a secretion from 
dawning light. 

Note 39. The most puzzling thing in Irish folk-lore is the 
number of countrymen and countrywomen who are "away." A 

288 Visions and Beliefs 

man or woman or child will suddenly take to the bed, and from 
that on, perhaps for a few weeks, perhaps for a lifetime, will be at 
times unconscious, in a state of dream, in trance, as we say. 
According to the peasant theory these persons are, during these 
times, with the faeries, riding through the country, eating or 
dancing, or suckling children. They may even, in that other 
world, marry, bring forth, and beget, and may when cured of their 
trances mourn for the loss of their children in faery. This state 
generally commences by their being "touched" or "struck" by a 
spirit. The country people do not say that the soul is away and 
the body in the bed, as a spiritist would, but that body and soul 
have been taken and somebody or something put in their place so 
bewitched that we do not know the difference. This thing may be 
some old person who was taken years ago and having come 
near his allotted term is put back to get the rites of the church, 
or as a substitute for some more youthful and more helpful per- 
son. The old man may have grown too infirm even to drive cattle. 
On the other hand, the thing may be a broomstick or a heap of 
shavings. I imagine that an explanatory myth arose at a very 
early age when men had not learned to distinguish between 
the body and the soul, and was perhaps once universal. The 
fact itself is certainly "possession" and "trance" precisely as we 
meet them in spiritism, and was perhaps once an inseparable 
part of religion. Mrs. Piper surrenders her body to the control 
of her trance personality but her soul, separated from the body has 
a life of its own, of which, however, she is little if at all conscious. 
There are two books which describe with considerable detail 
a like experience in China and Japan respectively: Demon 
Possession and Allied Themes, by the Rev. John L. Nevius, D.D. 
(Fleming H. Revell & Co., 1894);. Occult Japan, by Percival 
Lowell (Houghton, Mifflin, 1 895) . In both countries, however, the 
dualism of body and soul is recognized, and the theory is therefore 
identical with that of spiritism. Dr. Nevius is a missionary who 
gradually became convinced, after much doubt and perplexity, of 
the reality of possession by what he believes to be evil spirits 
precisely similar to that described in the New Testament. These 
spirits take possession of some Chinese man or woman who falls 
suddenly into a trance, and announce through their medium's 
mouth, that when they lived on earth they had such and such a 
name, sometimes if they think a false name will make them more 
pleasing they will give a false name and history. They demand 

Notes 289 

certain offerings and explain that they are seeking a home; and 
if the offerings are refused, and the medium seeks to drive them 
from body and house they turn persecutors; the house may catch 
fire suddenly; but if they have their way, they are ready to be 
useful, especially to heal the sick. The missionaries expel them 
in the name of Christ, but the Chinese exorcists adopt a method 
familiar to the west of Ireland — tortures or threats of torture. 
They will light tapers which they stick upon the fingers. They 
wish to make the body uncomfortable for its tenant. As they 
believe in the division of soul and body they are not likely 
to go too far. A man actually did burn his wife to death, in 
Tipperary a few years ago, and is no doubt still in prison for it. 
My uncle, George Pollexfen, had an old servant Mary Battle, and 
when she spoke of the case to me, she described that man as very 
superstitious. I asked what she meant by that and she explained 
that everybody knew that you must only threaten, for whatever 
injury you did to the changeling the faeries would do to the living 
person they had carried away. In fact mankind and spiritkind 
have each their hostage. These explanatory myths are not a 
speculative but a practical wisdom. And one can count perhaps, 
when they are rightly remembered, upon their preventing the more 
gross practical errors. The Tipperary witch-burner only half 
knew his own belief. "I stand here in the door," said Mary 
Battle, "and I hear them singing over there in the field, but I 
have never given in to them yet. " And by "giving in " I under- 
stood her to mean losing her head. 

The form of possession described in Lowell's book is not 
involuntary like that the missionary describes. And the possessing 
spirits are believed to be those of holy hermits or of the gods. He 
saw it for the first time on a pilgrimage to the top of Mount On- 
take*. Close on the border of the snow he came to a rest house 
which was arranged to enclose the path, that all, it would seem, 
might stop and rest and eat and give something to its keeper. 
Presently he saw three young men dressed in white who passed 
on in spite of the entreaties of the keeper. He followed and 
presently found them praying before a shrine cut in the side of a 
cliff. When the prayer was finished one of them took from his 
sleeve a stick that had hanging from it pieces of zigzag paper, 
and sat himself on a bench opposite the shrine. One of the others 
sat facing upon another bench, clasping his hands over his breast 
and closing his eyes. Then the first young man began a long 
vol 1 — 19 

290 Visions and Beliefs 

evocation, chanting and twisting and untwisting his fingers all the 
time. Presently he put the wand with the zigzag paper into the 
other's hands and the other's hands began to twitch, and that 
twitching grew more and more. The man was possessed. A 
spirit spoke through his mouth and called itself the God, 

Now the evoker became very respectful and asked if the peak 
would be clear of clouds, and the pilgrimage a lucky one, and if the 
god would take care of those left at home. The god answered 
that the peak would be clear until the afternoon of the day 
following and all else go well. The voice ceased and the evoker 
offered a prayer of adoration. The entranced man was awakened 
by being touched on the breast and slapped upon the back and 
now another of the three took his place. And all was gone through 
afresh; and when that was over the third young man was en- 
tranced in his turn. 

Mr. Lowell made considerable further investigation and records 
many cases, and was told that the god or spirit would sometimes 
speak in a tongue unknown to the possessed man, or gave useful 
medical advice. He is one of the few Europeans who have wit- 
nessed what seems to be an important right of Shinto religion. 
Shintoism, or the Way of the Gods, until its revival in the last half 
of the nineteenth century remained lost and forgotten in the roots 
of Japanese life. It had been superseded by Buddhism, if Mr. 
Lowell was correctly informed, as completely as this old faery faith 
of Ireland has been superseded by Christianity. Buddhism, how- 
ever, having no Christian hostility to friendly spirits, does not 
seem to have done anything to discourage a revival which was 
one of the causes that brought Japan under the single rule of 
the Mikado. It had always indeed in certain of its sects 
practised ceremonies that had for their object the causing of 

There is a story in The Book of the Dun Cow which certainly 
describes a like experience, though Prof. Rhys interprets it as a 
solar myth. I will take the story from Lady Gregory's Cuchulain 
of Muirthemne. The people of Ulster were celebrating the fes- 
tival of the beginning of winter, held always at the beginning 
of November. The first of November is still a very haunted day 
and night. A flock of wild birds lit upon the waters near to 
Cuchulain and certain fair women. " In all Ireland there were not 
birds to be seen that were more beautiful." 

Notes 291 

One woman said: '"I must have a bird of these birds on each 
of my two shoulders.' 'We must all have the same,' said the 
other women. ' If any one is to get them, it is I that must first 
get them,' said Eithne Inguba, who loved Cuchulain. 'What 
shall we do?' said the women. 'It is I will tell you that,' said 
Levarcham, 'for I will go to Cuchulain from you to ask him to 
gef them.'" 

So she went to Cuchulain and said: '"The women of Ulster 
desire that you will get these birds for them.' Cuchulain put his 
hand upon his sword as if to strike her, and he said: 'Have the 
idle women of Ulster nothing better to do than to send me catch- 
ing birds today?' 'It is not for you,' said Levarcham, 'to be 
angry with them; for there are many of them are half blind today 
with looking at you, from the greatness of their love for you.'" 

After this Cuchulain catches the birds and divides them 
amongst the women, and to every woman there are two birds, but 
when he comes to his mistress, Eithne Inguba, he has no birds 
left. '"It is vexed you seem to be,' he said, 'because I have 
given the birds to the other women.' 'You have good reason 
for that,' she said, 'for there is not a woman of them but would 
share her love and her friendship with you; while as for me no 
person shares my love but you alone.' " Cuchulain promises her 
whatever birds come, and presently there come two birds who 
are linked together with a chain of gold and "singing soft music 
that went near to put sleep on the whole gathering. " Cuchulain 
went in their pursuit, though Eithne and his charioteer tried to 
dissuade him, believing them enchanted. Twice he casts a stone 
from his sling and misses, and then he throws his spear but 
merely pierces the wing of one bird. Thereupon the birds dive 
and he goes away in great vexation, and he lies upon the ground 
and goes to sleep, and while he sleeps two women come to 
him and put him under enchantment. In the Connacht stories 
the enchantment begins with a stroke, or with a touch from some 
person of faery and it is so the women deal with Cuchulain. 
"The woman with the green cloak went up to him and smiled 
at him and she gave him a stroke of a rod. The other went up to 
him then and smiled at him and gave him a stroke in the same 
way; and they went on doing this for a long time, each of them 
striking him in turn till he was more dead than alive. And then 
they went away and left him there." The men of Ulster found 
him and they carried him to a house and to a bed and there he 

292 Visions and Beliefs 

lay till the next November came round. They were sitting about 
the bed when a strange man came in and sat amongst them. 
It was the God, ^Engus, and he told how Cuchulain could be 
healed. A king of the other world, Labraid, wished for Cuchu- 
lain 's help in a war, and if he would give it, he would have the 
love of Fand the wife of the sea god Manannan. The women who 
gave him the strokes of the rods were Fand and her sister Liban, 
who was Labraid 's wife. They had sought his help as the Con- 
nacht faeries will ask the help of some good hurler. Were they 
too like our faeries "shadows" until they found it? When the 
god was gone, Cuchulain awoke, and Conahar, the King of Ulster, 
who had been watching by his bedside, told him that he must go 
again to the rock where the enchantment was laid upon him. 
He goes there and sees the woman with the green cloak. She is 
Liban and pleads with him that he may accept the love of Fand 
and give his help to Labraid. If he will only promise, he will 
become strong again. Cuchulain will not go at once but sends 
his charioteer into the other world. When he has his charioteer's 
good report, he consents, and wins the fight for Labraid and is the 
lover of Fand. In the Connacht stories a wife can sometimes 
get back her husband by throwing some spell-breaking object 
over the heads of the faery cavalcade that keeps him spellbound. 
Emir, in much the same way, recovers her husband Cuchulain, 
for she and her women go armed with knives to the yew tree upon 
Baile's strand where he had appointed a meeting with Fand and 
outface Fand and drive her away. 

We have here certainly a story of trance and of the soul leaving 
the body, but probably after it has passed through the minds of 
story-tellers who have forgotten its original meaning. There is no 
mention of any one taking Cuchulain 's place, but Prof. Rhys in 
his reconstruction of the original form of the story of "Cuchulain 
and the Beetle of Forgetfulness," a visit also to the other world, 
makes the prince who summoned him to the adventure take his 
place in the court of Ulster. There are many stories belonging 
to different countries, of people whose places are taken for a time 
by angels or spirits or gods, the best known being that of the 
nun and the Virgin Mary, and all may have once been stories of 
changelings and entranced persons. Pwyll and Arawyn in the 
Mabinogion change places for a year, Pwyll going to the court of 
the dead in the shape of Arawyn to overcome his enemies, and 
Arawyn going to the court of Dyved. Pwyll overcomes Arawyn 's 

Notes 293 

enemies with one blow and the changeling's rule at Dyved was 
marvellous for its wisdom. In all these stories strength comes 
from men and wisdom from among gods who are but shadows. 
I have read somewhere of a Norse legend of a false Odin that took 
the true Odin's place, when the sun of summer became the wintry- 
sun. When we say a man has had a stroke of paralysis or that he 
is touched we refer perhaps to a once universal faery belief. 

Note 40. I suppose this woman who was glad to "pick a bit 
of what was in the pigs' trough" had passed along the roads in a 
state of semi-trance, living between two worlds. Boehme had for 
seven days what he called a walking trance that began by his 
gazing at a gleam of light on a copper pot and in that trance 
truth fell upon him "like a bursting shower. " 

Note 41. A village beauty of Bally Lee. Raftery praised 
her in lines quoted in my Celtic Twilight, and Lady Gregory 
speaks of her in her essay on Raftery in Poets and Dreamers. 

Note 42. An old, second-sighted servant to an uncle of 
mine used to say that dreams were no longer true "when the 
sap began to rise" and when I asked her how she knew that, she 
said; "What is the use of having an intellect unless you know 
a thing like that." 

Note 43. "In the faeries " is plainly a misspeaking of the old 
phrase "in faery" that is to say "in glamour " "under enchant- 
ment." The word "faery" as used for an individual is a modern 
corruption. The right word is "fay." 

Note 44. The sudden filling of the air by a sweet odour is a 
common event of the Seance room. It is mentioned several 
times in the " Diary" of Stanton Moses.