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Title: Irish Fairy Tales
Author: Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939 [Editor], Yeats, Jack B. [Illustrator]
Language: English
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IRISH FAIRY TALES

Edited

With an Introduction

by

W. B. YEATS

Author of 'The Wanderings of Oisin,' Etc.

Illustrated by Jack B. Yeats



[Illustration: "PLAYING AWAY ON THE PIPES AS MERRILY AS IF NOTHING HAD
HAPPENED." (_Page_ 48.)]



London
T. Fisher Unwin
1892



_WHERE MY BOOKS GO._

    _All the words that I gather,
      And all the words that I write,
    Must spread out their wings untiring,
      And never rest in their flight,
    Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
      And sing to you in the night,
    Beyond where the waters are moving,
      Storm darkened or starry bright._

_W. B. YEATS._

LONDON, _January 1892_.



CONTENTS

                                                            PAGE

   INTRODUCTION                                               1

   LAND AND WATER FAIRIES

   THE FAIRIES' DANCING-PLACE                                13

   THE RIVAL KEMPERS                                         17

   THE YOUNG PIPER                                           32

   A FAIRY ENCHANTMENT                                       49

   TEIGUE OF THE LEE                                         53

   THE FAIRY GREYHOUND                                       69

   THE LADY OF GOLLERUS                                      77


   EVIL SPIRITS

   THE DEVIL'S MILL                                          95

   FERGUS O'MARA AND THE AIR-DEMONS                         112

   THE MAN WHO NEVER KNEW FEAR                              123


   CATS

   SEANCHAN THE BARD AND THE KING OF THE CATS               141

   OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK                                  151


   KINGS AND WARRIORS

   THE KNIGHTING OF CUCULAIN                                185

   THE LITTLE WEAVER OF DULEEK GATE                         195


   APPENDIX

   CLASSIFICATION OF IRISH FAIRIES                          223

   AUTHORITIES ON IRISH FOLKLORE                            234



INTRODUCTION

AN IRISH STORY-TELLER


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

Old Biddy Hart at any rate does not think so. Our bran-new opinions
have never been heard of under her brown-thatched roof tufted with
yellow stone-crop. It is not so long since I sat by the turf fire
eating her griddle cake in her cottage on the slope of Benbulben and
asking after her friends, the fairies, who inhabit the green
thorn-covered hill up there behind her house. How firmly she believed
in them! How greatly she feared offending them! For a long time she
would give me no answer but 'I always mind my own affairs and they
always mind theirs.' A little talk about my great-grandfather who
lived all his life in the valley below, and a few words to remind her
how I myself was often under her roof when but seven or eight years
old loosened her tongue, however. It would be less dangerous at any
rate to talk to me of the fairies than it would be to tell some
'Towrow' of them, as she contemptuously called English tourists, for I
had lived under the shadow of their own hillsides. She did not
forget, however, to remind me to say after we had finished, 'God bless
them, Thursday' (that being the day), and so ward off their
displeasure, in case they were angry at our notice, for they love to
live and dance unknown of men.

Once started, she talked on freely enough, her face glowing in the
firelight as she bent over the griddle or stirred the turf, and told
how such a one was stolen away from near Coloney village and made to
live seven years among 'the gentry,' as she calls the fairies for
politeness' sake, and how when she came home she had no toes, for she
had danced them off; and how such another was taken from the
neighbouring village of Grange and compelled to nurse the child of the
queen of the fairies a few months before I came. Her news about the
creatures is always quite matter-of-fact and detailed, just as if she
dealt with any common occurrence: the late fair, or the dance at
Rosses last year, when a bottle of whisky was given to the best man,
and a cake tied up in ribbons to the best woman dancer. They are, to
her, people not so different from herself, only grander and finer in
every way. They have the most beautiful parlours and drawing-rooms,
she would tell you, as an old man told me once. She has endowed them
with all she knows of splendour, although that is not such a great
deal, for her imagination is easily pleased. What does not seem to us
so very wonderful is wonderful to her, there, where all is so homely
under her wood rafters and her thatched ceiling covered with
whitewashed canvas. We have pictures and books to help us imagine a
splendid fairy world of gold and silver, of crowns and marvellous
draperies; but she has only that little picture of St. Patrick over
the fireplace, the bright-coloured crockery on the dresser, and the
sheet of ballads stuffed by her young daughter behind the stone dog
on the mantelpiece. Is it strange, then, if her fairies have not the
fantastic glories of the fairies you and I are wont to see in
picture-books and read of in stories? She will tell you of peasants
who met the fairy cavalcade and thought it but a troop of peasants
like themselves until it vanished into shadow and night, and of great
fairy palaces that were mistaken, until they melted away, for the
country seats of rich gentlemen.

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

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

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

W. B. YEATS.

CLONDALKIN,

_July 1891_.



NOTE


I have to thank Lady Wilde for leave to give 'Seanchan the Bard' from
her _Ancient Legends of Ireland_ (Ward and Downey), the most poetical
and ample collection of Irish folklore yet published; Mr. Standish
O'Grady for leave to give 'The Knighting of Cuculain' from that prose
epic he has curiously named _History of Ireland, Heroic Period_;
Professor Joyce for his 'Fergus O'Mara and the Air Demons'; and Mr.
Douglas Hyde for his unpublished story, 'The Man who never knew
Fear.'

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

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



LAND AND WATER FAIRIES



THE FAIRIES' DANCING-PLACE

BY WILLIAM CARLETON


Lanty M'Clusky had married a wife, and, of course, it was necessary to
have a house in which to keep her. Now, Lanty had taken a bit of a
farm, about six acres; but as there was no house on it, he resolved to
build one; and that it might be as comfortable as possible, he
selected for the site of it one of those beautiful green circles that
are supposed to be the play-ground of the fairies. Lanty was warned
against this; but as he was a headstrong man, and not much given to
fear, he said he would not change such a pleasant situation for his
house to oblige all the fairies in Europe. He accordingly proceeded
with the building, which he finished off very neatly; and, as it is
usual on these occasions to give one's neighbours and friends a
house-warming, so, in compliance with this good and pleasant old
custom, Lanty having brought home the wife in the course of the day,
got a fiddler and a lot of whisky, and gave those who had come to see
him a dance in the evening. This was all very well, and the fun and
hilarity were proceeding briskly, when a noise was heard after night
had set in, like a crushing and straining of ribs and rafters on the
top of the house. The folks assembled all listened, and, without
doubt, there was nothing heard but crushing, and heaving, and pushing,
and groaning, and panting, as if a thousand little men were engaged
in pulling down the roof.

'Come,' said a voice which spoke in a tone of command, 'work hard: you
know we must have Lanty's house down before midnight.'

This was an unwelcome piece of intelligence to Lanty, who, finding
that his enemies were such as he could not cope with, walked out, and
addressed them as follows:

'Gintlemen, I humbly ax yer pardon for buildin' on any place belongin'
to you; but if you'll have the civilitude to let me alone this night,
I'll begin to pull down and remove the house to-morrow morning.'

This was followed by a noise like the clapping of a thousand tiny
little hands, and a shout of 'Bravo, Lanty! build half-way between the
two White-thorns above the boreen'; and after another hearty little
shout of exultation, there was a brisk rushing noise, and they were
heard no more.

The story, however, does not end here; for Lanty, when digging the
foundation of his new house, found the full of a _kam_[1] of gold: so
that in leaving to the fairies their play-ground, he became a richer
man than ever he otherwise would have been, had he never come in
contact with them at all.

[Footnote 1: _Kam_--a metal vessel in which the peasantry dip
rushlights.]



THE RIVAL KEMPERS

BY WILLIAM CARLETON


In the north of Ireland there are spinning meetings of unmarried
females frequently held at the houses of farmers, called _kemps_.
Every young woman who has got the reputation of being a quick and
expert spinner attends where the kemp is to be held, at an hour
usually before daylight, and on these occasions she is accompanied by
her sweetheart or some male relative, who carries her wheel, and
conducts her safely across the fields or along the road, as the case
may be. A kemp is, indeed, an animated and joyous scene, and one,
besides, which is calculated to promote industry and decent pride.
Scarcely anything can be more cheering and agreeable than to hear at a
distance, breaking the silence of morning, the light-hearted voices of
many girls either in mirth or song, the humming sound of the busy
wheels--jarred upon a little, it is true, by the stridulous noise and
checkings of the reels, and the voices of the reelers, as they call
aloud the checks, together with the name of the girl and the quantity
she has spun up to that period; for the contest is generally commenced
two or three hours before daybreak. This mirthful spirit is also
sustained by the prospect of a dance--with which, by the way, every
kemp closes; and when the fair victor is declared, she is to be looked
upon as the queen of the meeting, and treated with the necessary
respect.

But to our tale. Every one knew Shaun Buie M'Gaveran to be the
cleanest, best-conducted boy, and the most industrious too, in the
whole parish of Faugh-a-ballagh. Hard was it to find a young fellow
who could handle a flail, spade, or reaping-hook in better style, or
who could go through his day's work in a more creditable or
workmanlike manner. In addition to this, he was a fine, well-built,
handsome young man as you could meet in a fair; and so, sign was on
it, maybe the pretty girls weren't likely to pull each other's caps
about him. Shaun, however, was as prudent as he was good-looking; and
although he wanted a wife, yet the sorrow one of him but preferred
taking a well-handed, smart girl, who was known to be well-behaved and
industrious, like himself. Here, however, was where the puzzle lay on
him; for instead of one girl of that kind, there were in the
neighbourhood no less than a dozen of them--all equally fit and
willing to become his wife, and all equally good-looking. There were
two, however, whom he thought a trifle above the rest; but so nicely
balanced were Biddy Corrigan and Sally Gorman, that for the life of
him he could not make up his mind to decide between them. Each of them
had won her kemp; and it was currently said by them who ought to know,
that neither of them could over-match the other. No two girls in the
parish were better respected, or deserved to be so; and the
consequence was, they had every one's good word and good wish. Now it
so happened that Shaun had been pulling a cord with each; and as he
knew not how to decide between, he thought he would allow them to do
that themselves if they could. He accordingly gave out to the
neighbours that he would hold a kemp on that day week, and he told
Biddy and Sally especially that he had made up his mind to marry
whichever of them won the kemp, for he knew right well, as did all
the parish, that one of them must. The girls agreed to this very
good-humouredly, Biddy telling Sally that she (Sally) would surely win
it; and Sally, not to be outdone in civility, telling the same thing
to her.

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

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

'Indeed there is that, good woman,' replied Biddy, smiling and
blushing to back of that again, because she knew her own fate
depended on it.

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

'Ay, so it seems.'

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

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

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

'Sure,' said the girl, 'you know that what we give from kindness ever
an' always leaves a blessing behind it.'

'Yes, acushla, when it _is_ given from kindness.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'The only news in the neighbourhood,' replied the other, 'is this
great kemp that's to take place at Shaun Buie M'Gaveran's. They say
you're either to win him or lose him then,' she added, looking
closely at Sally as she spoke.

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

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

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

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

She accordingly sat down and chatted upon several subjects, such as
young women like to talk about, for about half an hour; after which
she arose, and taking her little staff in hand, she bade Sally
good-bye, and went her way. After passing a little from the house she
looked back, and could not help speaking to herself as follows:

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

Poor Biddy now made all possible inquiries about the old woman, but to
no purpose. Not a soul she spoke to about her had ever seen or heard
of such a woman. She felt very dispirited, and began to lose heart,
for there is no doubt that if she missed Shaun it would have cost her
many a sorrowful day. She knew she would never get his equal, or at
least any one that she loved so well. At last the kemp day came, and
with it all the pretty girls of the neighbourhood to Shaun Buie's.
Among the rest, the two that were to decide their right to him were
doubtless the handsomest pair by far, and every one admired them. To
be sure, it was a blythe and merry place, and many a light laugh and
sweet song rang out from pretty lips that day. Biddy and Sally, as
every one expected, were far ahead of the rest, but so even in their
spinning that the reelers could not for the life of them declare which
was the better. It was neck-and-neck and head-and-head between the
pretty creatures, and all who were at the kemp felt themselves wound
up to the highest pitch of interest and curiosity to know which of
them would be successful.

The day was now more than half gone, and no difference was between
them, when, to the surprise and sorrow of every one present, Biddy
Corrigan's _heck_ broke in two, and so to all appearance ended the
contest in favour of her rival; and what added to her mortification,
she was as ignorant of the red little woman's name as ever. What was
to be done? All that could be done was done. Her brother, a boy of
about fourteen years of age, happened to be present when the accident
took place, having been sent by his father and mother to bring them
word how the match went on between the rival spinsters. Johnny
Corrigan was accordingly despatched with all speed to Donnel
M'Cusker's, the wheelwright, in order to get the heck mended, that
being Biddy's last but hopeless chance. Johnny's anxiety that his
sister should win was of course very great, and in order to lose as
little time as possible he struck across the country, passing through,
or rather close by, Kilrudden forth, a place celebrated as a resort of
the fairies. What was his astonishment, however, as he passed a
White-thorn tree, to hear a female voice singing, in accompaniment to
the sound of a spinning-wheel, the following words:

    'There's a girl in this town doesn't know my name;
    But my name's Even Trot--Even Trot.'

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

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

'Biddy Corrigan.'

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

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

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

    'There's a girl in this town does know your name--
    Your name is Even Trot--Even Trot.'

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

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



THE YOUNG PIPER

BY CROFTON CROKER


There lived not long since, on the borders of the county Tipperary, a
decent honest couple, whose names were Mick Flannigan and Judy
Muldoon. These poor people were blessed, as the saying is, with four
children, all boys: three of them were as fine, stout, healthy,
good-looking children as ever the sun shone upon; and it was enough to
make any Irishman proud of the breed of his countrymen to see them
about one o'clock on a fine summer's day standing at their father's
cabin door, with their beautiful flaxen hair hanging in curls about
their head, and their cheeks like two rosy apples, and a big laughing
potato smoking in their hand. A proud man was Mick of these fine
children, and a proud woman, too, was Judy; and reason enough they had
to be so. But it was far otherwise with the remaining one, which was
the third eldest: he was the most miserable, ugly, ill-conditioned
brat that ever God put life into; he was so ill-thriven that he never
was able to stand alone, or to leave his cradle; he had long, shaggy,
matted, curled hair, as black as the soot; his face was of a
greenish-yellow colour; his eyes were like two burning coals, and were
for ever moving in his head, as if they had the perpetual motion.
Before he was a twelvemonth old he had a mouth full of great teeth;
his hands were like kites' claws, and his legs were no thicker than
the handle of a whip, and about as straight as a reaping-hook: to
make the matter worse, he had the appetite of a cormorant, and the
whinge, and the yelp, and the screech, and the yowl, was never out of
his mouth.

The neighbours all suspected that he was something not right,
particularly as it was observed, when people, as they do in the
country, got about the fire, and began to talk of religion and good
things, the brat, as he lay in the cradle, which his mother generally
put near the fireplace that he might be snug, used to sit up, as they
were in the middle of their talk, and begin to bellow as if the devil
was in him in right earnest; this, as I said, led the neighbours to
think that all was not right, and there was a general consultation
held one day about what would be best to do with him. Some advised to
put him out on the shovel, but Judy's pride was up at that. A pretty
thing indeed, that a child of hers should be put on a shovel and
flung out on the dunghill just like a dead kitten or a poisoned rat;
no, no, she would not hear to that at all. One old woman, who was
considered very skilful and knowing in fairy matters, strongly
recommended her to put the tongs in the fire, and heat them red hot,
and to take his nose in them, and that would beyond all manner of
doubt make him tell what he was and where he came from (for the
general suspicion was, that he had been changed by the good people);
but Judy was too softhearted, and too fond of the imp, so she would
not give in to this plan, though everybody said she was wrong, and
maybe she was, but it's hard to blame a mother. Well, some advised one
thing, and some another; at last one spoke of sending for the priest,
who was a very holy and a very learned man, to see it. To this Judy of
course had no objection; but one thing or other always prevented her
doing so, and the upshot of the business was that the priest never
saw him.

Things went on in the old way for some time longer. The brat continued
yelping and yowling, and eating more than his three brothers put
together, and playing all sorts of unlucky tricks, for he was mighty
mischievously inclined, till it happened one day that Tim Carrol, the
blind piper, going his rounds, called in and sat down by the fire to
have a bit of chat with the woman of the house. So after some time
Tim, who was no churl of his music, yoked on the pipes, and began to
bellows away in high style; when the instant he began, the young
fellow, who had been lying as still as a mouse in his cradle, sat up,
began to grin and twist his ugly face, to swing about his long tawny
arms, and to kick out his crooked legs, and to show signs of great
glee at the music. At last nothing would serve him but he should get
the pipes into his own hands, and to humour him his mother asked Tim
to lend them to the child for a minute. Tim, who was kind to children,
readily consented; and as Tim had not his sight, Judy herself brought
them to the cradle, and went to put them on him; but she had no
occasion, for the youth seemed quite up to the business. He buckled on
the pipes, set the bellows under one arm, and the bag under the other,
worked them both as knowingly as if he had been twenty years at the
business, and lilted up 'Sheela na guira' in the finest style
imaginable.

All were in astonishment: the poor woman crossed herself. Tim, who, as
I said before, was _dark_, and did not well know who was playing, was
in great delight; and when he heard that it was a little _prechan_ not
five years old, that had never seen a set of pipes in his life, he
wished the mother joy of her son; offered to take him off her hands if
she would part with him, swore he was a _born_ piper, a natural
_genus_, and declared that in a little time more, with the help of a
little good instruction from himself, there would not be his match in
the whole country. The poor woman was greatly delighted to hear all
this, particularly as what Tim said about natural _genus_ quieted some
misgivings that were rising in her mind, lest what the neighbours said
about his not being right might be too true; and it gratified her
moreover to think that her dear child (for she really loved the whelp)
would not be forced to turn out and beg, but might earn decent bread
for himself. So when Mick came home in the evening from his work, she
up and told him all that had happened, and all that Tim Carrol had
said; and Mick, as was natural, was very glad to hear it, for the
helpless condition of the poor creature was a great trouble to him. So
next day he took the pig to the fair, and with what it brought set
off to Clonmel, and bespoke a bran-new set of pipes, of the proper
size for him.

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

The fame of his skill on the pipes soon spread far and near, for there
was not a piper in the six next counties could come at all near him,
in 'Old Moderagh rue,' or 'The Hare in the Corn,' or 'The Fox-hunter's
Jig,' or 'The Rakes of Cashel,' or 'The Piper's Maggot,' or any of the
fine Irish jigs which make people dance whether they will or no: and
it was surprising to hear him rattle away 'The Fox-hunt'; you'd really
think you heard the hounds giving tongue, and the terriers yelping
always behind, and the huntsman and the whippers-in cheering or
correcting the dogs; it was, in short, the very next thing to seeing
the hunt itself.

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

But besides all his fine Irish music, he had one queer tune of his
own, the oddest that ever was heard; for the moment he began to play
it everything in the house seemed disposed to dance; the plates and
porringers used to jingle on the dresser, the pots and pot-hooks used
to rattle in the chimney, and people used even to fancy they felt the
stools moving from under them; but, however it might be with the
stools, it is certain that no one could keep long sitting on them, for
both old and young always fell to capering as hard as ever they could.
The girls complained that when he began this tune it always threw them
out in their dancing, and that they never could handle their feet
rightly, for they felt the floor like ice under them, and themselves
every moment ready to come sprawling on their backs or their faces.
The young bachelors who wished to show off their dancing and their new
pumps, and their bright red or green and yellow garters, swore that it
confused them so that they never could go rightly through the _heel
and toe_ or _cover the buckle_, or any of their best steps, but felt
themselves always all bedizzied and bewildered, and then old and young
would go jostling and knocking together in a frightful manner; and
when the unlucky brat had them all in this way, whirligigging about
the floor, he'd grin and chuckle and chatter, for all the world like
Jacko the monkey when he has played off some of his roguery.

The older he grew the worse he grew, and by the time he was six years
old there was no standing the house for him; he was always making his
brothers burn or scald themselves, or break their shins over the pots
and stools. One time, in harvest, he was left at home by himself, and
when his mother came in she found the cat a-horseback on the dog, with
her face to the tail, and her legs tied round him, and the urchin
playing his queer tune to them; so that the dog went barking and
jumping about, and puss was mewing for the dear life, and slapping her
tail backwards and forwards, which, as it would hit against the dog's
chaps, he'd snap at and bite, and then there was the philliloo.
Another time, the farmer with whom Mick worked, a very decent,
respectable man, happened to call in, and Judy wiped a stool with her
apron, and invited him to sit down and rest himself after his walk. He
was sitting with his back to the cradle, and behind him was a pan of
blood, for Judy was making pig's puddings. The lad lay quite still in
his nest, and watched his opportunity till he got ready a hook at the
end of a piece of twine, which he contrived to fling so handily that
it caught in the bob of the man's nice new wig, and soused it in the
pan of blood. Another time his mother was coming in from milking the
cow, with the pail on her head: the minute he saw her he lilted up his
infernal tune, and the poor woman, letting go the pail, clapped her
hands aside, and began to dance a jig, and tumbled the milk all a-top
of her husband, who was bringing in some turf to boil the supper. In
short, there would be no end to telling all his pranks, and all the
mischievous tricks he played.

Soon after, some mischances began to happen to the farmer's cattle. A
horse took the staggers, a fine veal calf died of the black-leg, and
some of his sheep of the red-water; the cows began to grow vicious,
and to kick down the milk-pails, and the roof of one end of the barn
fell in; and the farmer took it into his head that Mick Flannigan's
unlucky child was the cause of all the mischief. So one day he called
Mick aside, and said to him, 'Mick, you see things are not going on
with me as they ought, and to be plain with you, Mick, I think that
child of yours is the cause of it. I am really falling away to nothing
with fretting, and I can hardly sleep on my bed at night for thinking
of what may happen before the morning. So I'd be glad if you'd look
out for work somewhere else; you're as good a man as any in the
country, and there's no fear but you'll have your choice of work.' To
this Mick replied, 'that he was sorry for his losses, and still
sorrier that he or his should be thought to be the cause of them; that
for his own part he was not quite easy in his mind about that child,
but he had him and so must keep him'; and he promised to look out for
another place immediately.

Accordingly, next Sunday at chapel Mick gave out that he was about
leaving the work at John Riordan's, and immediately a farmer who lived
a couple of miles off, and who wanted a ploughman (the last one having
just left him), came up to Mick, and offered him a house and garden,
and work all the year round. Mick, who knew him to be a good employer,
immediately closed with him; so it was agreed that the farmer should
send a car[2] to take his little bit of furniture, and that he should
remove on the following Thursday.

[Footnote 2: Car, a cart.]

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

They had to cross a river, but as it ran through a bottom between two
high banks, you did not see it till you were close on it. The young
fellow was lying pretty quiet in the bottom of the cradle, till they
came to the head of the bridge, when hearing the roaring of the water
(for there was a great flood in the river, as it had rained heavily
for the last two or three days), he sat up in his cradle and looked
about him; and the instant he got a sight of the water, and found they
were going to take him across it, oh, how he did bellow and how he did
squeal! no rat caught in a snap-trap ever sang out equal to him.
'Whist! A lanna,' said Judy, 'there's no fear of you; sure it's only
over the stone bridge we're going.'--'Bad luck to you, you old rip!'
cried he, 'what a pretty trick you've played me to bring me here!' and
still went on yelling, and the farther they got on the bridge the
louder he yelled; till at last Mick could hold out no longer, so
giving him a great skelp of the whip he had in his hand, 'Devil choke
you, you brat!' said he, 'will you never stop bawling? a body can't
hear their ears for you.' The moment he felt the thong of the whip he
leaped up in the cradle, clapped the pipes under his arm, gave a most
wicked grin at Mick, and jumped clean over the battlements of the
bridge down into the water. 'Oh, my child, my child!' shouted Judy,
'he's gone for ever from me.' Mick and the rest of the children ran to
the other side of the bridge, and looking over, they saw him coming
out from under the arch of the bridge, sitting cross-legged on the top
of a white-headed wave, and playing away on the pipes as merrily as if
nothing had happened. The river was running very rapidly, so he was
whirled away at a great rate; but he played as fast, ay, and faster,
than the river ran; and though they set off as hard as they could
along the bank, yet, as the river made a sudden turn round the hill,
about a hundred yards below the bridge, by the time they got there he
was out of sight, and no one ever laid eyes on him more; but the
general opinion was that he went home with the pipes to his own
relations, the good people, to make music for them.



A FAIRY ENCHANTMENT

_Story-teller_--MICHAEL HART

_Recorder_--W. B. YEATS


In the times when we used to travel by canal I was coming down from
Dublin. When we came to Mullingar the canal ended, and I began to
walk, and stiff and fatigued I was after the slowness. I had some
friends with me, and now and then we walked, now and then we rode in a
cart. So on till we saw some girls milking a cow, and stopped to joke
with them. After a while we asked them for a drink of milk. 'We have
nothing to put it in here,' they said, 'but come to the house with
us.' We went home with them and sat round the fire talking. After a
while the others went, and left me, loath to stir from the good fire.
I asked the girls for something to eat. There was a pot on the fire,
and they took the meat out and put it on a plate and told me to eat
only the meat that came from the head. When I had eaten, the girls
went out and I did not see them again.

It grew darker and darker, and there I still sat, loath as ever to
leave the good fire; and after a while two men came in, carrying
between them a corpse. When I saw them I hid behind the door. Says one
to the other, 'Who'll turn the spit?' Says the other, 'Michael Hart,
come out of that and turn the meat!' I came out in a tremble and began
turning the spit. 'Michael Hart,' says the one who spoke first, 'if
you let it burn we will have to put you on the spit instead,' and on
that they went out. I sat there trembling and turning the corpse until
midnight. The men came again, and the one said it was burnt, and the
other said it was done right, but having fallen out over it, they both
said they would do me no harm that time; and sitting by the fire one
of them cried out, 'Michael Hart, can you tell a story?' 'Never a
one,' said I. On that he caught me by the shoulders and put me out
like a shot.

It was a wild, blowing night; never in all my born days did I see such
a night--the darkest night that ever came out of the heavens. I did
not know where I was for the life of me. So when one of the men came
after me and touched me on the shoulder with a 'Michael Hart, can you
tell a story now?'--'I can,' says I. In he brought me, and, putting me
by the fire, says 'Begin.' 'I have no story but the one,' says I,
'that I was sitting here, and that you two men brought in a corpse
and put it on the spit and set me turning it.' 'That will do,' says
he; 'you may go in there and lie down on the bed.' And in I went,
nothing loath, and in the morning where was I but in the middle of a
green field.



TEIGUE OF THE LEE

BY CROFTON CROKER


I can't stop in the house--I won't stop in it for all the money that
is buried in the old castle of Carrigrohan. If ever there was such a
thing in the world!--to be abused to my face night and day, and nobody
to the fore doing it! and then, if I'm angry, to be laughed at with a
great roaring ho, ho, ho! I won't stay in the house after to-night, if
there was not another place in the country to put my head under.' This
angry soliloquy was pronounced in the hall of the old manor-house of
Carrigrohan by John Sheehan. John was a new servant; he had been only
three days in the house, which had the character of being haunted, and
in that short space of time he had been abused and laughed at by a
voice which sounded as if a man spoke with his head in a cask; nor
could he discover who was the speaker, or from whence the voice came.
'I'll not stop here,' said John; 'and that ends the matter.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mansion had certainly an air of desolation; it was situated in a
lawn, which had nothing to break its uniform level save a few tufts of
narcissuses and a couple of old trees coeval with the building. The
house stood at a short distance from the road, it was upwards of a
century old, and Time was doing his work upon it; its walls were
weather-stained in all colours, its roof showed various white patches,
it had no look of comfort; all was dim and dingy without, and within
there was an air of gloom, of departed and departing greatness, which
harmonised well with the exterior. It required all the exuberance of
youth and of gaiety to remove the impression, almost amounting to awe,
with which you trod the huge square hall, paced along the gallery
which surrounded the hall, or explored the long rambling passages
below stairs. The ballroom, as the large drawing-room was called, and
several other apartments, were in a state of decay; the walls were
stained with damp, and I remember well the sensation of awe which I
felt creeping over me when, boy as I was, and full of boyish life and
wild and ardent spirits, I descended to the vaults; all without and
within me became chilled beneath their dampness and gloom--their
extent, too, terrified me; nor could the merriment of my two
schoolfellows, whose father, a respectable clergyman, rented the
dwelling for a time, dispel the feelings of a romantic imagination
until I once again ascended to the upper regions.

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

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

John dropped the glass he had in his hand.

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

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

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

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

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

'But,' remarked a gentleman to young Mr. Pratt, 'your father said he
broke a plate; how did he get it without your seeing him?'

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

'How does he know that you are watching?'

'That's more than I can tell, but he either knows or suspects. One day
my brothers Robert and James with myself were in our back parlour,
which has a window into the garden, when he came outside and said,
"Ho, ho, ho! Master James and Robert and Henry, give poor Teigue a
glass of whisky." James went out of the room, filled a glass with
whisky, vinegar, and salt, and brought it to him. "Here, Teigue,"
said he, "come for it now."--"Well, put it down, then, on the step
outside the window." This was done, and we stood looking at it.
"There, now, go away," he shouted. We retired, but still watched it.
"Ho, ho! you are watching Teigue! go out of the room, now, or I won't
take it." We went outside the door and returned, the glass was gone,
and a moment after we heard him roaring and cursing frightfully. He
took away the glass, but the next day it was on the stone step under
the window, and there were crumbs of bread in the inside, as if he had
put it in his pocket; from that time he has not been heard till
to-day.'

'Oh,' said the colonel, 'I'll get a sight of him; you are not used to
these things; an old soldier has the best chance, and as I shall
finish my dinner with this wing, I'll be ready for him when he speaks
next--Mr. Bell, will you take a glass of wine with me?'

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

'You scoundrel!' exclaimed the colonel, 'I'll make you show yourself';
and snatching up his sword from a corner of the room, he sprang out of
the window upon the lawn. In a moment a shout of laughter, so hollow,
so unlike any human sound, made him stop, as well as Mr. Bell, who
with a huge oak stick was close at the colonel's heels; others of the
party followed to the lawn, and the remainder rose and went to the
windows. 'Come on, colonel,' said Mr. Bell; 'let us catch this
impudent rascal.'

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

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

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

'If you're upon the earth, I'll find you, you villain!' said the
colonel, whilst the same unearthly shout of derision seemed to come
from behind an angle of the building. 'He's round that corner,' said
Mr. Bell, 'run, run.'

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

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

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

'Ho, ho, ho! what a fool you are; do you think Teigue is going to show
himself to you in the field, there? But, colonel, follow me if you
can: you a soldier! ho, ho, ho!' The colonel was enraged: he followed
the voice over hedge and ditch, alternately laughed at and taunted by
the unseen object of his pursuit (Mr. Bell, who was heavy, was soon
thrown out); until at length, after being led a weary chase, he found
himself at the top of the cliff, over that part of the river Lee,
which, from its great depth, and the blackness of its water, has
received the name of Hell-hole. Here, on the edge of the cliff, stood
the colonel out of breath, and mopping his forehead with his
handkerchief, while the voice, which seemed close at his feet,
exclaimed, 'Now, Colonel Pratt, now, if you're a soldier, here's a
leap for you! Now look at Teigue--why don't you look at him? Ho, ho,
ho! Come along; you're warm, I'm sure, Colonel Pratt, so come in and
cool yourself; Teigue is going to have a swim!' The voice seemed as if
descending amongst the trailing ivy and brushwood which clothes this
picturesque cliff nearly from top to bottom, yet it was impossible
that any human being could have found footing. 'Now, colonel, have you
courage to take the leap? Ho, ho, ho! what a pretty soldier you are.
Good-bye; I'll see you again in ten minutes above, at the house--look
at your watch, colonel: there's a dive for you'; and a heavy plunge
into the water was heard. The colonel stood still, but no sound
followed, and he walked slowly back to the house, not quite half a
mile from the Crag.

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

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

'Ho, ho, ho! colonel, isn't he here? Teigue never told a lie in his
life: but, Mr. Pratt, give me a drink and my dinner, and then
good-night to you all, for I'm tired; and that's the colonel's
doing.' A plate of food was ordered; it was placed by John, with fear
and trembling, on the lawn under the window. Every one kept on the
watch, and the plate remained undisturbed for some time.

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

The eyes of the company were turned to the tree and the garden wall;
the two boys' attention was occupied in getting down; the visitors
were looking at them; and 'Ho, ho, ho!--good luck to you, Mr. Pratt!
'tis a good dinner, and there's the plate, ladies and gentlemen.
Good-bye to you, colonel!--good-bye, Mr. Bell! good-bye to you all!'
brought their attention back, when they saw the empty plate lying on
the grass; and Teigue's voice was heard no more for that evening.
Many visits were afterwards paid by Teigue; but never was he seen, nor
was any discovery ever made of his person or character.



THE FAIRY GREYHOUND


Paddy M'Dermid was one of the most rollicking boys in the whole county
of Kildare. Fair or pattern[3] wouldn't be held barring he was in the
midst of it. He was in every place, like bad luck, and his poor little
farm was seldom sowed in season; and where he expected barley, there
grew nothing but weeds. Money became scarce in poor Paddy's pocket;
and the cow went after the pig, until nearly all he had was gone.
Lucky however for him, if he had _gomch_ (sense) enough to mind it, he
had a most beautiful dream one night as he lay tossicated (drunk) in
the Rath[4] of Monogue, because he wasn't able to come home. He dreamt
that, under the place where he lay, a pot of money was buried since
long before the memory of man. Paddy kept the dream to himself until
the next night, when, taking a spade and pickaxe, with a bottle of
holy water, he went to the Rath, and, having made a circle round the
place, commenced diggin' sure enough, for the bare life and sowl of
him thinkin' that he was made up for ever and ever. He had sunk about
twice the depth of his knees, when _whack_ the pickaxe struck against
a flag, and at the same time Paddy heard something breathe quite near
him. He looked up, and just fornent him there sat on his haunches a
comely-looking greyhound.

[Footnote 3: A merry-making in the honour of some patron saint.]

[Footnote 4: Raths are little fields enclosed by circular ditches.
They are thought to be the sheep-folds and dwellings of an ancient
people.]

[Illustration: "FORNENT HIM THERE SAT ON HIS HAUNCHES A COMELY-LOOKING
GREYHOUND." (_Page 71._)]

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

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

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

'Faith, nothing at all, at all,' answered Paddy; bekase you see he
didn't like the stranger.

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

'Why then in truth, if you do, I may as well tell you at wonst,
particularly as you seem a civil-looking gentleman, that's not above
speaking to a poor gossoon like myself.' (Paddy wanted to butter him
up a bit.)

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

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

'Well, Paddy M'Dermid,' said the hound, 'since you will have money,
you must; but say, how much will satisfy you?'

Paddy scratched his conlaan, and after a while said--

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

'Just as much as you consider reasonable, Paddy M'Dermid.'

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

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

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

'Come here and reckon them,' said he; but Paddy was up to him, and
refused to stir, so the crock was shoved alongside the blessed and
holy circle, and Paddy pulled it in, right glad to have it in his
clutches, and never stood still until he reached his own home, where
his guineas turned into little bones, and his ould mother laughed at
him. Paddy now swore vengeance against the deceitful beast of a
greyhound, and went next night to the Rath again, where, as before, he
met Mr. Hound.

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

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

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

'Oh may I never see Athy if I do,' returned Paddy, 'for you only want
to be loading me with ould bones, or perhaps breaking my own, which
would be just as bad.'

''Pon honour,' said the hound, 'I am your friend; and so don't stand
in your own light; come with me and your fortune is made. Remain where
you are and you'll die a beggar-man.' So bedad, with one palaver and
another, Paddy consented; and in the middle of the Rath opened up a
beautiful staircase, down which they walked; and after winding and
turning they came to a house much finer than the Duke of Leinster's,
in which all the tables and chairs were solid gold. Paddy was
delighted; and after sitting down, a fine lady handed him a glass of
something to drink; but he had hardly swallowed a spoonful when all
around set up a horrid yell, and those who before appeared beautiful
now looked like what they were--enraged 'good people' (fairies).
Before Paddy could bless himself, they seized him, legs and arms,
carried him out to a great high hill that stood like a wall over a
river, and flung him down. 'Murder!' cried Paddy; but it was no use,
no use; he fell upon a rock, and lay there as dead until next morning,
where some people found him in the trench that surrounds the _mote_ of
Coulhall, the 'good people' having carried him there; and from that
hour to the day of his death he was the greatest object in the world.
He walked double, and had his mouth (God bless us) where his ear
should be.



THE LADY OF GOLLERUS

BY CROFTON CROKER


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

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

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

Dick guessed at once that she was a Merrow,[5] although he had never
seen one before, for he spied the _cohuleen driuth_, or little
enchanted cap, which the sea people use for diving down into the
ocean, lying upon the strand near her; and he had heard that, if once
he could possess himself of the cap she would lose the power of going
away into the water: so he seized it with all speed, and she, hearing
the noise, turned her head about as natural as any Christian.

[Footnote 5: Sea fairy.]

When the Merrow saw that her little diving-cap was gone, the salt
tears--doubly salt, no doubt, from her--came trickling down her
cheeks, and she began a low mournful cry with just the tender voice
of a new-born infant. Dick, although he knew well enough what she was
crying for, determined to keep the _cohuleen driuth_, let her cry
never so much, to see what luck would come out of it. Yet he could not
help pitying her; and when the dumb thing looked up in his face, with
her cheeks all moist with tears, 'twas enough to make any one feel,
let alone Dick, who had ever and always, like most of his countrymen,
a mighty tender heart of his own.

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

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

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

The Merrow did not seem much displeased at this mode of conversation;
and making an end of her whining all at once, 'Man,' says she, looking
up in Dick Fitzgerald's face; 'man, will you eat me?'

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

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

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

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

'Never say the word twice,' says she; 'I'm ready and willing to be
yours, Mister Fitzgerald; but stop, if you please, till I twist up my
hair.' It was some time before she had settled it entirely to her
liking; for she guessed, I suppose, that she was going among
strangers, where she would be looked at. When that was done, the
Merrow put the comb in her pocket, and then bent down her head and
whispered some words to the water that was close to the foot of the
rock.

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

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

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

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

'And yourself, then, is a real king's daughter?' said Dick, opening
his two eyes to take a full and true survey of his wife that was to
be. 'Oh, I'm nothing else but a made man with you, and a king your
father; to be sure he has all the money that's down at the bottom of
the sea!'

'Money,' repeated the Merrow, 'what's money?'

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

'Oh yes,' said the Merrow, 'they bring me what I want.'

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

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

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

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

'There are two words to this bargain, Dick Fitzgerald,' said his
Reverence, looking mighty glum. 'And is it a fishy woman you'd marry?
The Lord preserve us! Send the scaly creature home to her own people;
that's my advice to you, wherever she came from.'

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

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

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

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

'But she has all the gold that's down in the sea only for the asking,
and I'm a made man if I marry her; and,' said Dick, looking up slily,
'I can make it worth any one's while to do the job.'

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

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

It was wonderful to see, considering where she had been brought up,
how she would busy herself about the house, and how well she nursed
the children; for, at the end of three years there were as many young
Fitzgeralds--two boys and a girl.

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

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

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

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

She got up and went towards the door, but came back again to look once
more at the child that was sleeping in the cradle. She kissed it
gently, and as she kissed it a tear trembled for an instant in her eye
and then fell on its rosy cheek. She wiped away the tear, and turning
to the eldest little girl, told her to take good care of her brothers,
and to be a good child herself until she came back. The Merrow then
went down to the strand. The sea was lying calm and smooth, just
heaving and glittering in the sun, and she thought she heard a faint
sweet singing, inviting her to come down. All her old ideas and
feelings came flooding over her mind, Dick and her children were at
the instant forgotten, and placing the _cohuleen driuth_ on her head
she plunged in.

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

Year after year did Dick Fitzgerald wait expecting the return of his
wife, but he never saw her more. Dick never married again, always
thinking that the Merrow would sooner or later return to him, and
nothing could ever persuade him but that her father the king kept her
below by main force; 'for,' said Dick, 'she surely would not of
herself give up her husband and her children.'

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



EVIL SPIRITS



THE DEVIL'S MILL

BY SAMUEL LOVER


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

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

He was too cunnin' for that; bad as he was--and he was bad enough God
knows--he had some regard for his poor sinful sowl, and he would not
give himself up to the divil, all out; but, the villain, he thought he
might make a bargain with the _old chap_, and get all he wanted, and
keep himself out of harm's way still: for he was mighty 'cute--and,
throth, he was able for Owld Nick any day.

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

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

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

'You must fill me that room,' says he, pointin' into a murtherin' big
room that he emptied out on purpose--'you must fill that room,' says
he, 'up to the very ceilin' with goolden guineas.'

'And welkem,' says the divil.

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

Well, he worked away for an hour and more, and at last he began to get
tired; and he thought it _mighty odd_ that the room wasn't fillin'
fasther. Well, afther restin' for awhile, he began agin, and he put
his shouldher to the work in airnest; but still the room was no
fuller at all, at all.

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

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

'Ho! ho!' says Owld Nick, 'is that the way wid you?' says he; and wid
that, he ran over to the hape of goold--and what would you think, but
it was runnin' down through a great big hole in the flure, that the
colonel made through the ceilin' in the room below; and that was the
work he was at afther he left the divil, though he purtended he was
only waitin' for him in his parlour; and there the divil, when he
looked down the hole in the flure, seen the colonel, not content with
the _two_ rooms full of guineas, but with a big shovel throwin' them
into a closet a' one side of him as fast as they fell down. So,
putting his head through the hole, he called down to the colonel:

'Hillo, neighbour!' says he.

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

'Musha, bad luck to your impudence!' says Owld Nick: 'it is sthrivin'
to chate _me_ you are,' says he, 'you villain!'

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

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

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

At last, afther many years of prosperity, the owld colonel got
stricken in years, and he began to have misgivings in his conscience
for his wicked doings, and his heart was heavy as the fear of death
came upon him; and sure enough, while he had such murnful thoughts,
the divil kem to him, and towld him _he should go wid him_.

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

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

'That's thrue,' says the divil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the colonel said he saw it was all over wid him. 'But,' says he, 'I
wouldn't like to go wid you alive, and sure it's all the same to you,
alive or dead?'

'Oh, that won't do,' says his frind; 'I can't wait no more,' says he.

'I don't want you to wait, my dear frind,' says the colonel; 'all I
want is, that you'll be plased to kill me before you take me away.'

'With pleasure,' says Owld Nick.

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

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

'You're mighty obleegin',' says the colonel; 'and so,' says he, 'I'd
rather die by bein' hanged with a rope _made out of the sands of the
say_,' says he, lookin' mighty knowin' at the _owld fellow_.

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

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

'The _game is mine_, sure enough,' says the owld fellow, grinnin',
with a terrible laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Thry me,' says Owld Nick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Well, sir, to make a long story short, the divil purtended to let him
off, out of kindness, for three days antil his wife was buried; but
the raison of it was this, that when the lady his daughter fainted, he
loosened the clothes about her throat, and in pulling some of her
dhress away, he tuk off a goold chain that was on her neck and put it
in his pocket, and the chain had a diamond crass on it (the Lord be
praised!) and the divil darn't touch him while he had _the sign of the
crass_ about him.

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

Well, sir, to make a long story short, the ind of it was, that for the
three days o' grace that was given to him the poor deluded owld sinner
did nothin' at all but read the Bible from mornin' till night, and bit
or sup didn't pass his lips all the time, he was so intint upon the
Holy Book, but he sat up in an owld room in the far ind of the house,
and bid no one disturb him an no account, and struv to make his heart
bould with the words iv life; and sure it was somethin' strinthened
him at last, though as the time drew nigh that the _inimy_ was to
come, he didn't feel aisy, and no wondher; and, bedad the three days
was past and gone in no time, and the story goes that at the dead hour
o' the night, when the poor sinner was readin' away as fast as he
could, my jew'l, his heart jumped up to his mouth at gettin' a tap on
the shoulder.

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

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

'Another day!' cried out the poor colonel.

'Not another hour,' says Sat'n.

'Half an hour!'

'Not a quarther,' says the divil, grinnin' with a bitther laugh;
'give over your reading I bid you,' says he, 'and come away wid me.'

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

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

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

But the poor owld colonel didn't lose a minit (for he was cunnin' to
the ind), but snatched the little taste o' candle that was forninst
him out o' the candlestick, and puttin' it an the Holy Book before
him, he shut down the cover of it and quinched the light. With that
the divil gave a roar like a bull, and vanished in a flash o' fire,
and the poor colonel fainted away in his chair; but the sarvants heerd
the noise (for the divil tore aff the roof o' the house when he left
it), and run into the room, and brought their master to himself agin.
And from that day he was an althered man, and used to have the Bible
read to him every day, for he couldn't read himself any more, by
raison of losin' his eyesight when the divil hit him with the rope of
sand in the face, and afther spit an him--for the sand wint into one
eye, and he lost the other that-a-way, savin' your presence.



FERGUS O'MARA AND THE AIR-DEMONS

BY DR. P. W. JOYCE


Of all the different kinds of goblins that haunted the lonely places
of Ireland in days of old, air-demons were most dreaded by the people.
They lived among clouds, and mists, and rocks, and they hated the
human race with the utmost malignity. In those times lived in the
north of Desmond (the present county of Cork) a man man named Fergus
O'Mara. His farm lay on the southern slope of the Ballyhoura
Mountains, along which ran the open road that led to his house. This
road was not shut in by walls or fences; but on both sides there were
scattered trees and bushes that sheltered it in winter, and made it
dark and gloomy when you approached the house at night. Beside the
road, a little way off from the house, there was a spot that had an
evil name all over the country, a little hill covered closely with
copsewood, with a great craggy rock on top, from which, on stormy
nights, strange and fearful sounds had often been heard--shrill
voices, and screams, mingled with loud fiendish laughter; and the
people believed that it was the haunt of air-demons. In some way it
had become known that these demons had an eye on Fergus, and watched
for every opportunity to get him into their power. He had himself been
warned of this many years before, by an old monk from the neighbouring
monastery of Buttevant, who told him, moreover, that so long as he
led a blameless, upright life, he need have no fear of the demons; but
that if ever he yielded to temptation or fell into any great sin, then
would come the opportunity for which they were watching day and night.
He never forgot this warning, and he was very careful to keep himself
straight, both because he was naturally a good man, and for fear of
the air-demons.

Some time before the occurrence about to be related, one of Fergus's
children, a sweet little girl about seven years of age, fell ill and
died. The little thing gradually wasted away, but suffered no pain;
and as she grew weaker she became more loving and gentle than ever,
and talked in a wonderful way, quite beyond her years, of the bright
land she was going to. One thing she was particularly anxious about,
that when she was dying they should let her hold a blessed candle in
her hand. They thought it very strange that she should be so
continually thinking and talking of this; and over and over again she
made her father and mother promise that it should be done. And with
the blessed candle in her hand she died so calmly and sweetly that
those round her bed could not tell the exact moment.

About a year after this, on a bright Sunday morning in October, Fergus
set out for Mass. The place was about three miles away, and it was not
a chapel,[6] but a lonely old fort, called to this day Lissanaffrin,
the fort of the Mass. A rude stone altar stood at one side near the
mound of the fort, under a little shed that sheltered the priest also;
and the congregation worshipped in the open air on the green plot in
the centre. For in those days there were many places that had no
chapels; and the people flocked to these open-air Masses as
faithfully as we do now to our stately comfortable chapels. The family
had gone on before, the men walking and the women and children riding;
and Fergus set out to walk alone.

[Footnote 6: A fort is the same as a rath (see p. 70); a few are
fenced in with unmortared stone walls instead of clay ditches.]

Just as he approached the Demons' Rock he was greatly surprised to
hear the eager yelping of dogs, and in a moment a great deer bounded
from the covert beside the rock, with three hounds after her in full
chase. No man in the whole country round loved a good chase better
than Fergus, or had a swifter foot to follow, and without a moment's
hesitation he started in pursuit. But in a few minutes he stopped up
short; for he bethought him of the Mass, and he knew there was little
time for delay. While he stood wavering, the deer seemed to slacken
her pace, and the hounds gained on her, and in a moment Fergus dashed
off at full speed, forgetting Mass and everything else in his
eagerness for the sport. But it turned out a long and weary chase.
Sometimes they slackened, and he was almost at the hounds' tails, but
the next moment both deer and hounds started forward and left him far
behind. Sometimes they were in full view, and again they were out of
sight in thickets and deep glens, so that he could guide himself only
by the cry of the hounds. In this way he was decoyed across hills and
glens, but instead of gaining ground he found himself rather falling
behind.

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

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

Suddenly there burst on his ears the very same sounds that he had
heard on losing sight of the chase--shouts and shrieks and laughter. A
great black ragged cloud, whirling round and round with furious gusts
of wind, burst from the rock and came sweeping and tearing towards
him. Crossing himself in terror and uttering a short prayer, he rushed
for home. But the whirlwind swept nearer, till at last, in a sort of
dim, shadowy light, he saw the black cloud full of frightful faces,
all glaring straight at him and coming closer and closer. At this
moment a bright light dropped down from the sky and rested in front of
the cloud; and when he looked up, he saw his little child floating in
the air between him and the demons, holding a lighted candle in her
hand. And although the storm was raging and roaring all round, she
was quite calm--not a breath of air stirred her long yellow hair--and
the candle burned quietly. Even in the midst of all his terror he
could observe her pale gentle face and blue eyes just as when she was
alive, not showing traces of sickness or sadness now, but lighted up
with joy. The demons seemed to start back from the light, and with
great uproar rushed round to the other side of Fergus, the black cloud
still moving with them and wrapping them up in its ragged folds; but
the little angel floated softly round, still keeping between them and
her father. Fergus ran on for home, and the cloud of demons still kept
furiously whirling round and round him, bringing with them a whirlwind
that roared among the trees and bushes and tore them from the roots;
but still the child, always holding the candle towards them, kept
floating calmly round and shielded him.

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

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



THE MAN WHO NEVER KNEW FEAR

TRANSLATED FROM THE GAELIC BY DOUGLAS HYDE


There was once a lady, and she had two sons whose names were Louras
(Lawrence) and Carrol. From the day that Lawrence was born nothing
ever made him afraid, but Carrol would never go outside the door from
the time the darkness of the night began.

It was the custom at that time when a person died for people to watch
the dead person's grave in turn, one after another; for there used to
be destroyers going about stealing the corpses.

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

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

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

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

Carrol asked him, did he see anything in the graveyard.

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

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

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

'Weren't you afraid?' says Carrol.

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

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

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

'I wouldn't go to the graveyard to-night if I were to get the riches
of the world,' says Carrol.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Hold your hand; you have saved your mother's body, and there is not a
man in Ireland as brave as you. There is great riches waiting for you
if you go looking for it.'

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

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

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

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

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

'I am going looking for something that will put fear on me,' said
Lawrence.

'Have you much money?' said the baker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the morning of the next day Lawrence went on his way. He travelled
the whole day without seeing a house. About the hour of midnight he
came to a great lonely valley, and he saw a large gathering of people
looking at two men hurling. Lawrence stood looking at them, as there
was a bright light from the moon. It was the good people that were in
it, and it was not long until one of them struck a blow on the ball
and sent it into Lawrence's breast. He put his hand in after the ball
to draw it out, and what was there in it but the head of a man. When
Lawrence got a hold of it, it began screeching, and at last it asked
Lawrence--

'Are you not afraid?'

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

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

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

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

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

'I'll stop in it,' said Lawrence.

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

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

'I saw a stallion and a bull fighting hard for about two hours,' said
Lawrence.

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

'I was not,' says Lawrence.

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

'I'll wait, and welcome,' says Lawrence.

The second night, about ten o'clock, Lawrence was going to sleep, when
two black rams came in and began fighting hard. Lawrence neither put
to them nor from them, and when twelve o'clock struck they went out.
The young man came in the morning and asked him did he see anything
last night.

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

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

'I was not,' said Lawrence.

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

'All right,' says Lawrence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CATS



SEANCHAN THE BARD AND THE KING OF THE CATS

BY LADY WILDE


When Seanchan, the renowned Bard, was made _Ard-Filé_ or Chief Poet of
Ireland, Guaire, the king of Connaught, to do him honour, made a great
feast for him and the whole Bardic Association. And all the professors
and learned men went to the king's house, the great ollaves of poetry
and history and music, and of the arts and sciences; and the learned,
aged females, Grug and Grag and Grangait; and all the chief poets and
poetesses of Ireland, an amazing number. But Guaire the king
entertained them all splendidly, so that the ancient pathway to his
palace is still called 'The Road of the Dishes.'

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

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

But Seanchan sulked and would neither eat nor drink, for he was
jealous of the nobles of Connaught. And when he saw how much they
consumed of the best meats and wine, he declared he would taste no
food till they and their servants were all sent away out of the
house.

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

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

'Take them away,' said Seanchan; 'I'll have none of them.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then Guaire the king was indeed angry, and he exclaimed, 'My
malediction on the mouth that uttered that! May the kiss of a leper
be on Seanchan's lips before he dies!'

Now there was a young serving-girl there, and she said to Seanchan,
'There is a hen's egg in the place, my lord, may I bring it to thee, O
Chief Bard?'

'It will suffice,' said Seanchan; 'bring it that I may eat.'

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

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

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

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

''Tis well,' said Seanchan; 'but the cat is the one most to blame, for
it was her duty to suppress the mice. Therefore I shall satirise the
tribe of the cats, and their chief lord, Irusan, son of Arusan; for I
know where he lives with his wife Spit-fire, and his daughter
Sharp-tooth, with her brothers the Purrer and the Growler. But I shall
begin with Irusan himself, for he is king, and answerable for all the
cats.'

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

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

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

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

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

Now Seanchan, being in evil plight, had recourse to flattery. 'O
Irusan,' he exclaimed, 'how truly splendid thou art: such running,
such leaps, such strength, and such agility! But what evil have I
done, O Irusan, son of Arusan? spare me, I entreat. I invoke the
saints between thee and me, O great King of the Cats.'

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

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

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

'And wherefore?' asked St. Kieran.

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

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

So as long as he lived he had the chief place at the feast, and all
the nobles there were made to sit below him, and Seanchan was content.
And in time he and Guaire were reconciled; and Seanchan and all the
ollaves, and the whole Bardic Association, were feasted by the king
for thirty days in noble style, and had the choicest of viands and
the best of French wines to drink, served in goblets of silver. And in
return for his splendid hospitality the Bardic Association decreed
unanimously a vote of thanks to the king. And they praised him in
poems as 'Guaire the Generous,' by which name he was ever after known
in history, for the words of the poet are immortal.



OWNEY AND OWNEY-NA-PEAK

BY GERALD GRIFFEN


When Ireland had kings of her own--when there was no such thing as a
coat made of red cloth in the country--when there was plenty in men's
houses, and peace and quietness at men's doors (and that is a long
time since)--there lived, in a village not far from the great city of
Lumneach,[7] two young men, cousins: one of them named Owney, a smart,
kind-hearted, handsome youth, with limb of a delicate form, and a very
good understanding. His cousin's name was Owney too, and the
neighbours christened him Owney-na-peak (Owney of the nose), on
account of a long nose he had got--a thing so out of all proportion,
that after looking at one side of his face, it was a smart morning's
walk to get round the nose and take a view of the other (at least, so
the people used to say). He was a stout, able-bodied fellow, as stupid
as a beaten hound, and he was, moreover, a cruel tyrant to his young
cousin, with whom he lived in a kind of partnership.

[Footnote 7: The present Limerick.]

Both of them were of a humble station. They were
smiths--white-smiths--and they got a good deal of business to do from
the lords of the court, and the knights, and all the grand people of
the city. But one day young Owney was in town, he saw a great
procession of lords, and ladies, and generals, and great people, among
whom was the king's daughter of the court--and surely it is not
possible for the young rose itself to be so beautiful as she was. His
heart fainted at her sight, and he went home desperately in love, and
not at all disposed to business.

Money, he was told, was the surest way of getting acquainted with the
king, and so he began saving until he had put together a few
_hogs_,[8] but Owney-na-peak, finding where he had hid them, seized on
the whole, as he used to do on all young Owney's earnings.

[Footnote 8: A _hog_, 1s. 1d.]

One evening young Owney's mother found herself about to die, so she
called her son to her bedside and said to him: 'You have been a most
dutiful good son, and 'tis proper you should be rewarded for it. Take
this china cup to the fair,--there is a fairy gift upon it,--use your
own wit, look about you, and let the highest bidder have it--and so,
my white-headed boy,[9] God bless you!'

[Footnote 9: White-haired boy, a curious Irish phrase for the
favourite child.]

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

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

'I'm for selling it,' said Owney.

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

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

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

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

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

'Why then, see this now--if I was forced to fill it to the rim with
gold before I could call it mine, you shall never hold that cup
between your fingers. Here, boy, do you mind me, give me that, once
for all, and here's ten gold pieces for it, and say no more.'

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

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

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

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

'Fifty gold pieces for a china cup,' said Owney to himself, as he
plodded on home, 'that was not worth two! Ah! mother, you knew that
vanity had an open hand.'

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

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

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

'Well, Owney, I'll keep them safe for you, in my pocket within. But
tell us, maybe you would, how come you to get such a _mort_ o' money
for an old cup o' painted chaney, that wasn't worth, maybe, a fi'penny
bit?'

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

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

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

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

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

It was all in vain for poor Owney to throw himself on his knees, and
ask mercy, and beg and implore forgiveness; he was weak, and
Owney-na-peak was strong; he held him fast, and burned out both his
eyes. Then taking him, while he was yet fainting from the pain, upon
his back, he carried him off to the bleak hill of Knockpatrick,[10] a
great distance, and there laid him under a tombstone, and went his
ways. In a little time after, Owney came to himself.

[Footnote 10: A hill in the west of the County of Limerick, on the
summit of which are the ruins of an old church, with a burying-ground
still in use. The situation is exceedingly singular and bleak.]

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

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

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

'I have heard of her for one,' said a little dirty-faced black cat,
speaking after they had all done, 'for I'm the cat that sits upon the
hob of Owney and Owney-na-peak, the white-smiths, and I know many's
the time young Owney does be talking of her, when he sits by the fire
alone, rubbing me down and planning how he can get into her father's
court.'

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

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

'Well, gentlemen,' says the cat again, 'what I have to say is this.
The king was last week struck with blindness, and you all know well,
how and by what means any blindness may be cured. You know there is no
disorder that can ail mortal frame, that may not be removed by praying
a round at the well of Barrygowen[11] yonder, and the king's disorder
is such, that no other cure whatever can be had for it. Now, beware,
don't let the secret pass one o' yer lips, for there's a
great-grandson of Simon Magus, that is coming down to try his skill,
and he it is that must use the water and marry the princess, who is to
be given to any one so fortunate as to heal her father's eyes; and on
that day, gentlemen, we are all promised a feast of the fattest mice
that ever walked the ground.' This speech was wonderfully applauded by
all the cats, and presently after, the whole crew scampered off,
jumping, and mewing, and purring, down the hill.

[Footnote 11: The practice of praying rounds, with the view of healing
diseases, at Barrygowen well, in the County of Limerick, is still
continued, notwithstanding the exertions of the neighbouring Catholic
priesthood, which have diminished, but not abolished it.]

Owney, being sensible that they were all gone, came from his
hiding-place, and knowing the road to Barrygowen well, he set off, and
groped his way out, and shortly knew, by the rolling of the waves,[12]
coming in from the point of Foynes, that he was near the place. He
got to the well, and making a round like a good Christian, rubbed his
eyes with the well-water, and looking up, saw day dawning in the east.
Giving thanks, he jumped up on his feet, and you may say that
Owney-na-peak was much astonished on opening the door of the forge to
find him there, his eyes as well or better than ever, and his face as
merry as a dance.

[Footnote 12: Of the Shannon.]

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

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

'You'll know all that in time,' says Owney, stopping him in his
speech, for just at that minute, casting his eye towards the hob, he
saw the cat sitting upon it, and looking very hard at him. So he made
a sign to Owney-na-peak to be silent, or talk of something else; at
which the cat turned away her eyes, and began washing her face, quite
simple, with her two paws, looking now and then sideways into Owney's
face, just like a Christian. By and by, when she had walked out of the
forge, he shut the door after her, and finished what he was going to
say, which made Owney-na-peak still more anxious than before to be
placed under the tombstone. Owney agreed to it very readily, and just
as they were done speaking, cast a glance towards the forge window,
where he saw the imp of a cat, just with her nose and one eye peeping
in through a broken pane. He said nothing, however, but prepared to
carry his cousin to the place; where, towards nightfall, he laid him
as he had been laid himself, snug under the tombstone, and went his
way down the hill, resting in Shanagolden that night, to see what
would come of it in the morning.

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

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

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

In an instant all the cats began screaming, and mewing, and flying, as
if they were mad, about the yard, searching every corner, and peeping
under every tombstone. Poor Owneyna-peak endeavoured as well as he
could to hide himself from them, and began to thump his breast and
cross himself, but it was all in vain, for one of the cats saw the
long nose peeping from under the stone, and in a minute they dragged
him, roaring and bawling, into the very middle of the churchyard,
where they flew upon him all together, and made _smithereens_ of him,
from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.

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

'So that is the way with you, is it?' said he, clasping his hands, and
looking down on the bloody fragments; 'why then, though you were no
great things in the way of kindness to me when your bones were
together, that isn't the reason why I'd be glad to see them torn
asunder this morning early.' So gathering up all the pieces that he
could find, he put them into a bag he had with him, and away with him
to the well of Barrygowen, where he lost no time in making a round,
and throwing them in, all in a heap. In an instant, he saw
Owney-na-peak as well as ever, scrambling out of the well, and helping
him to get up, he asked him how he felt himself.

'Oh! is it how I'd feel myself you'd want to know?' said the other;
'easy and I'll tell you. Take that for a specimen!' giving him at the
same time a blow on the head, which you may say wasn't long in laying
Owney sprawling on the ground. Then without giving him a minute's time
to recover, he thrust him into the very bag from which he had been
just shaken himself, resolving within himself to drown him in the
Shannon at once, and put an end to him for ever.

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

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

'Lord,' says he, 'only give me death, death, and a favourable
judgment! I haven't anybody now to look after, nor anybody to look
after me. What's a few tinpennies to save a man from want? Only a
quiet grave is all I ask.'

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

    'To him that tied me here,
      Be thanks and praises given!
    I'll bless him night and day,
      For packing me to heaven.
    Of all the roads you'll name,
      He surely will not lag,
    Who takes his way to heaven
      By travelling in a bag!'

'To heaven, _ershishin_?'[13] said the man in the chimney-corner,
opening his mouth and his eyes; 'why then, you'd be doing a Christian
turn, if you'd take a neighbour with you, that's tired of this bad and
villainous world.'

[Footnote 13: Does he say?]

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

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

After seeming to make a great favour of it, in order to allure him the
more to the bargain, Owney agreed to put him into the bag instead of
himself; and cautioning him against saying a word, he was just going
to tie him, when he was touched with a little remorse for going to
have the innocent man's life taken: and seeing a slip of a pig that
was killed the day before, in a corner, hanging up, the thought struck
him that it would do just as well to put it in the bag in their
place. No sooner said than done, to the great surprise of the natural,
he popped the pig into the bag and tied it up.

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

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

Away he went home, and knocked at the door of the forge, which was
opened to him by Owney. You may fancy him to yourself crossing and
blessing himself over and over again, when he saw, as he thought, the
ghost standing before him. But Owney looked very merry, and told him
not to be afraid. 'You did many is the good turn in your life,' says
he, 'but the equal of this never.' So he up and told him that he found
the finest place in the world at the bottom of the waters, and plenty
of money. 'See these four pieces for a specimen,' showing him some he
had taken from his own hiding hole: 'what do you think of that for a
story?'

'Why then that it's a droll one, no less; sorrow bit av I wouldn't
have a mind to try my luck in the same way; how did you come home here
before me that took the straight road, and didn't stop for so much as
my _gusthah_[14] since I left Knockpatrick?'

[Footnote 14: Literally--_walk in_.]

'Oh, there's a short cut under the waters,' said Owney. 'Mind and only
be civil while you're in Thiernaoge,[15] and you'll make a sight o'
money.'

[Footnote 15: The abode of the fairies.]

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

As he was passing by Barrygowen well, he filled a bottle with the
water; and going home, he bought a fine suit of clothes with the rest
of the money he had buried, and away he set off in the morning to the
city of Lumneach. He walked through the town, admiring everything he
saw, until he came before the palace of the king. Over the gates of
this he saw a number of spikes, with a head of a man stuck upon each,
grinning in the sunshine.

Not at all daunted, he knocked very boldly at the gate, which was
opened by one of the guards of the palace. 'Well! who are you,
friend?'

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

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

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

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

You may say to yourself that the princess, glad as she was of her
father's recovery, did not like this message. Small blame to her,
when it is considered that she never set her eyes upon the man
himself. However, her mind was changed wonderfully when he was brought
before her, covered with gold and diamonds, and all sorts of grand
things. Wishing, however, to know whether he had as good a wit as he
had a person, she told him that he should give her, on the next
morning, an answer to two questions, otherwise she would not hold him
worthy of her hand. Owney bowed, and she put the questions as follows:

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

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

These were puzzling questions; but Owney having a small share of
brains of his own, was not long in forming an opinion upon the matter.
He was very impatient for the morning; but it came just as slow and
regular as if he were not in the world. In a short time he was
summoned to the courtyard, where all the nobles of the land assembled,
with flags waving, and trumpets sounding, and all manner of glorious
doings going on. The princess was placed on a throne of gold near her
father, and there was a beautiful carpet spread for Owney to stand
upon while he answered her questions. After the trumpets were
silenced, she put the first, with a clear sweet voice, and he replied:

'It's salt!' says he, very stout, out.

There was a great applause at the answer; and the princess owned,
smiling, that he had judged right.

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

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

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



KINGS AND WARRIORS



THE KNIGHTING OF CUCULAIN[16]

BY STANDISH O'GRADY


One night in the month of the fires of Bel, Cathvah, the Druid and
star-gazer, was observing the heavens through his astrological
instruments. Beside him was Cuculain, just then completing his
sixteenth year. Since the exile of Fergus MacRoy, Cuculain had
attached himself most to the Ard-Druid, and delighted to be along with
him in his studies and observations. Suddenly the old man put aside
his instruments and meditated a long time in silence.

[Footnote 16: Cuculain was the great hero of legendary Ireland.]

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

'No, father,' replied the boy.

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

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

Now as the groom was thus speaking, Cowshra Mend Macha, a younger son
of Concobar, came before the king, and said: 'Thou knowest, O my
father, that house in which is preserved the chariot of Kimbay
MacFiontann, wherein he and she, whose name I bear, the great queen
that protects our nation, rode forth to the wars in the ancient days,
and how it has been preserved ever since, and that it is under my care
to keep bright and clean. Now this day at sunrise I approached the
house, as is my custom, and approaching, I heard dire voices,
clamorous and terrible, that came from within, and noises like the
noise of battle, and shouts as of warriors in the agony of the
conflict, that raise their voices with short intense cries as they ply
their weapons, avoiding or inflicting death. Then I went back
terrified, but there met me Minrowar, son of Gerkin, for he came but
last night from Moharne, in the east, and he went to look at his own
steeds; but together we opened the gate of the chariot-house, and the
bronze of the chariot burned like glowing fire, and the voices cried
out in acclaim, when we stood in the doorway, and the light streamed
into the dark chamber. Doubtless, a great warrior will appear amongst
the Red Branch, for men say that not for a hundred years have these
voices been heard, and I know not for whom Macha sends these portents,
if it be not for the son of Sualtam, though he is not yet of an age to
bear arms.'

Thus was Concobar prepared for the knighting of Cuculain.

Then in the presence of his court, and his warriors, and the youths
who were the comrades and companions of Cuculain, Concobar presented
the young hero with his weapons of war, after he had taken the vows of
the Red Branch, and having also bound himself by certain gæsa.[17]
But Cuculain looked narrowly upon the weapons, and he struck the
spears together and clashed the sword upon the shield, and he brake
the spears in pieces, and the sword, and made chasms in the shield.

[Footnote 17: Curious vows taken by the ancient warriors. Hardly
anything definite is known of them.--ED.]

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

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

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

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

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

Then there were led forward a pair of noble steeds and a war-car, and
the king conferred them on Cuculain. Then Cuculain sprang into the
chariot, and standing with legs apart, he stamped from side to side,
and shook and shook, and jolted the car until the axle brake and the
car itself was broken in pieces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE LITTLE WEAVER OF DULEEK GATE

BY SAMUEL LOVER


You see, there was a waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in Duleek here,
hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous man he was, by all
accounts. He had a wife, and av coorse they had childhre, and small
blame to them, and plenty of them, so that the poor little waiver was
obleeged to work his fingers to the bone a'most to get them the bit
and the sup; but he didn't begridge that, for he was an industherous
craythur, as I said before, and it was up airly and down late with
him, and the loom never standin' still. Well, it was one mornin' that
his wife called to him, and he sitting very busy throwin' the shuttle;
and says she, 'Come here,' says she, 'jewel, and ate your brekquest,
now that it's ready.' But he never minded her, but wint an workin'. So
in a minit or two more, says she, callin' out to him agin, 'Arrah,
lave off slavin' yourself, my darlin', and ate your bit o' brekquest
while it is hot.'

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

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

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

'Oh, think o' the iligant stirabout, that 'ill be spylte intirely.'

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

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

'Ay, and you too,' says he.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Oh, Thady dear, and what'll the children do then?'

'Let them go play marvels,' says he.

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

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

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

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

'Oh! God send we'll all be in glory yet,' says the wife, crassin'
herself; 'but go to sleep, Thady, for this present.'

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

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

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

'All night, if you plaze, Thady,' says she.

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

'A what?' says she.

'A knight arriant, woman.'

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

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

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

'I'M THE MAN OF ALL MIN,
THAT KILL'D THREE SCORE AND TIN
AT A BLOW.'

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

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

'Sartinly,' says he; 'for a knight arraint should always have _a
woight an his brain_.'

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

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

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

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

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

'_Your sarvint, ma'am_,' says he; and off he set.

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

'This is the idintical horse for me,' says the waiver; 'he is used to
carryin' flour and male, and what am I but the _flower_ o' shovelry in
a coat o' _mail_; so that the horse won't be put out iv his way in the
laste.'

But as he was ridin' him out o'the field, who should see him but the
miller.

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

'No,' says the waiver; 'I'm only goin' to _ax_ercise him,' says he,
'in the cool o' the evenin'; it will be good for his health.'

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

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

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

But he was too late; away galloped the waiver, and took the road to
Dublin, for he thought the best thing he could do was to go to the
King o' Dublin (for Dublin was a grate place thin, and had a king iv
its own), and he thought, maybe, the King o' Dublin would give him
work. Well, he was four days goin' to Dublin, for the baste was not
the best and the roads worse, not all as one as now; but there was no
turnpikes then, glory be to God! When he got to Dublin, he wint
sthrait to the palace, and whin he got into the coortyard he let his
horse go and graze about the place, for the grass was growin' out
betune the stones; everything was flourishin' thin in Dublin, you see.
Well, the king was lookin' out of his dhrawin'-room windy, for
divarshin, whin the waiver kem in; but the waiver pretended not to see
him, and he wint over to a stone sate, undher the windy--for, you see,
there was stone sates all round about the place for the accommodation
o' the people--for the king was a dacent, obleeging man; well, as I
said, the waiver wint over and lay down an one o' the sates, just
undher the king's windy, and purtended to go asleep; but he took care
to turn out the front of his shield that had the letthers an it; well,
my dear, with that, the king calls out to one of the lords of his
coort that was standin' behind him, howldin' up the skirt of his coat,
accordin' to rayson, and says he: 'Look here,' says he, 'what do you
think of a vagabone like that comin' undher my very nose to go sleep?
It is thrue I'm a good king,' says he, 'and I 'commodate the people by
havin' sates for them to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and
contimplation of seein' me here, lookin' out a' my dhrawin'-room
windy, for divarshin; but that is no rayson they are to _make a hotel_
o' the place, and come and sleep here. Who is it at all?' says the
king.

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

'I think he must be a furriner,' says the king; 'bekase his dhress is
outlandish.'

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

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

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

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

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

'Sure, do you think he could kill him,' says the lord, 'when all the
stoutest knights in the land wasn't aiquil to it, but never kem back,
and was ate up alive by the cruel desaiver.'

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

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

'God save you kindly,' says the waiver, _purtendin'_ he was quite
onknowst who he was spakin' to.

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

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

'To be sure I have,' says the king, _moighty high_; 'sure, ain't I the
King o' Dublin?' says he.

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

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

'I'm in want o' work, plaze your riverence,' says the waiver.

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

'I'll be proud to sarve you, my lord,' says the waiver.

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

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

'You shall have a job immediantly,' says the king. 'It is not three
score and tin or any fine thing like that; it is only a blaguard
dhraggin that is disturbin' the counthry and ruinatin' my tinanthry
wid aitin' their powlthry, and I'm lost for want of eggs,' says the
king.

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

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

'Oh, I don't value it in the laste,' says the waiver; 'for the last
three score and tin I killed was in a _soft place_.'

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

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

'That's what I like,' says the king; 'you're the very man for my
money,' says he.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And maybe it's wondherin' you are that the waiver would think of goin'
to fight the dhraggin afther what he heerd about him, when he was
purtendin' to be asleep, but he had no sitch notion; all he intended
was,--to fob the goold, and ride back again to Duleek with his gains
and a good horse. But, you see, cute as the waiver was, the king was
cuter still; for these high quolity, you see, is great desaivers; and
so the horse the waiver was put an was larned on purpose; and sure,
the minit he was mounted, away powdhered the horse, and the divil a
toe he'd go but right down to Galway. Well, for four days he was goin'
evermore, until at last the waiver seen a crowd o' people runnin' as
if owld Nick was at their heels, and they shoutin' a thousand murdhers
and cryin', 'The dhraggin, the dhraggin!' and he couldn't stop the
horse nor make him turn back, but away he pelted right forninst the
terrible baste that was comin' up to him, and there was the most
_nefaarious_ smell o' sulphur, savin' your presence, enough to knock
you down; and, faith the waiver seen he had no time to lose, and so he
threw himself off the horse and made to a three that was growin' nigh
hand, and away he clambered up into it as nimble as a cat; and not a
minit had he to spare, for the dhraggin kem up in a powerful rage, and
he devoured the horse body and bones, in less than no time; and then
he began to sniffle and scent about for the waiver, and at last he
clapt his eye an him, where he was, up in the three, and says he, 'In
throth, you might as well come down out o' that,' says he; 'for I'll
have you as sure as eggs is mate.'

'Divil a fut I'll go down,' says the waiver.

'Sorra care, I care,' says the dhraggin; 'for you're as good as ready
money in my pocket this minit, for I'll lie undher this three,' says
he, 'and sooner or later you must fall to my share'; and sure enough
he sot down, and began to pick his teeth with his tail, afther the
heavy brekquest he made that mornin' (for he ate a whole village, let
alone the horse), and he got dhrowsy at last, and fell asleep; but
before he wint to sleep, he wound himself all round about the three,
all as one as a lady windin' ribbon round her finger, so that the
waiver could not escape.

Well, as soon as the waiver knew he was dead asleep, by the snorin' of
him--and every snore he let out of him was like a clap o'
thunder--that minit the waiver began to creep down the three, as
cautious as a fox; and he was very nigh hand the bottom, when, bad
cess to it, a thievin' branch he was dipindin' an bruk, and down he
fell right a-top o' the dhraggin; but if he did, good luck was an his
side, for where should he fall but with his two legs right acrass the
dhraggin's neck, and, my jew'l, he laid howlt o' the baste's ears, and
there he kept his grip, for the dhraggin wakened and endayvoured for
to bite him; but, you see, by rayson the waiver was behind his ears,
he could not come at him, and, with that, he endayvoured for to shake
him off; but the divil a stir could he stir the waiver; and though he
shuk all the scales an his body, he could not turn the scale agin the
waiver.

'By the hokey, this is too bad intirely,' says the dhraggin; 'but if
you won't let go,' says he, 'by the powers o' wildfire, I'll give you
a ride that 'ill astonish your siven small sinses, my boy'; and, with
that, away he flew like mad; and where do you think he did
fly?--bedad, he flew sthraight for Dublin, divil a less. But the
waiver bein' an his neck was a great disthress to him, and he would
rather have had him an _inside passenger_; but, anyway, he flew and he
flew till he kem _slap_ up agin the palace o' the king; for, bein'
blind with the rage, he never seen it, and he knocked his brains
out--that is, the small thrifle he had--and down he fell spacheless.
An' you see, good luck would have it, that the King o' Dublin was
lookin' out iv' his dhrawin'-room windy, for divarshin, that day also,
and whin he seen the waiver ridin' an the fiery dhraggin (for he was
blazin' like a tar-barrel), he called out to his coortyers to come and
see the show. 'By the powdhers o' war, here comes the knight arriant,'
says the king, 'ridin' the dhraggin that's all afire, and if he gets
_into the palace_, yiz must be ready wid the _fire ingines_,' says he,
'for to _put him out_.' But when they seen the dhraggin fall outside,
they all run downstairs and scampered into the palace-yard for to
circumspect the _curosity_; and by the time they got down, the waiver
had got off o' the dhraggin's neck, and runnin' up to the king, says
he, 'Plaze your holiness,' says he, 'I did not think myself worthy of
killin' this facetious baste, so I brought him to yourself for to do
him the honour of decripitation by your own royal five fingers. But I
tamed him first, before I allowed him the liberty for to _dar'_ to
appear in your royal prisince, and you'll oblige me if you'll just
make your mark with your own hand upon the onruly baste's neck.' And
with that the king, sure enough, dhrew out his swoord and took the
head aff the _dirty_ brute as _clane_ as a new pin. Well, there was
great rejoicin' in the coort that the dhraggin was killed; and says
the king to the little waiver, says he, 'You are a knight arriant as
it is, and so it would be of no use for to knight you over agin; but I
will make you a lord,' says he.

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

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

'And where's my estates, plaze your holiness?' says the waiver, who
always had a sharp look-out afther the main chance.

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

'Is that all?' says the waiver.

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

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

'But that is not all I'll do for you,' says the king; 'I'll give you
my daughther too in marriage,' says he. Now, you see, that was nothin'
more than what he promised the waiver in his first promise; for, by
all accounts, the king's daughther was the greatest dhraggin ever was
seen, and had the divil's own tongue, and a beard a yard long, which
she _purtended_ was put an her by way of a penance by Father Mulcahy,
her confissor; but it was well known it was in the family for ages,
and no wondher it was so long, by rayson of that same.



APPENDIX



CLASSIFICATION OF IRISH FAIRIES


Irish Fairies divide themselves into two great classes: the sociable
and the solitary. The first are in the main kindly, and the second
full of all uncharitableness.


THE SOCIABLE FAIRIES

These creatures, who go about in troops, and quarrel, and make love,
much as men and women do, are divided into land fairies or Sheoques
(Ir. _Sidheog_, 'a little fairy,') and water fairies or Merrows (Ir.
_Moruadh_, 'a sea maid'; the masculine is unknown). At the same time I
am inclined to think that the term Sheoque may be applied to both
upon occasion, for I have heard of a whole village turning out to hear
two red-capped water fairies, who were very 'little fairies' indeed,
play upon the bagpipes.

1. _The Sheoques._--The Sheoques proper, however, are the spirits that
haunt the sacred thorn bushes and the green raths. All over Ireland
are little fields circled by ditches, and supposed to be ancient
fortifications and sheep-folds. These are the raths, or forts, or
'royalties,' as they are variously called. Here, marrying and giving
in marriage, live the land fairies. Many a mortal they are said to
have enticed down into their dim world. Many more have listened to
their fairy music, till all human cares and joys drifted from their
hearts and they became great peasant seers or 'Fairy Doctors,' or
great peasant musicians or poets like Carolan, who gathered his tunes
while sleeping on a fairy rath; or else they died in a year and a day,
to live ever after among the fairies. These Sheoques are on the whole
good; but one most malicious habit have they--a habit worthy of a
witch. They steal children and leave a withered fairy, a thousand or
maybe two thousand years old, instead. Three or four years ago a man
wrote to one of the Irish papers, telling of a case in his own
village, and how the parish priest made the fairies deliver the stolen
child up again. At times full-grown men and women have been taken.
Near the village of Coloney, Sligo, I have been told, lives an old
woman who was taken in her youth. When she came home at the end of
seven years she had no toes, for she had danced them off. Now and then
one hears of some real injury being done a person by the land fairies,
but then it is nearly always deserved. They are said to have killed
two people in the last six months in the County Down district where I
am now staying. But then these persons had torn up thorn bushes
belonging to the Sheoques.

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


THE SOLITARY FAIRIES

These are nearly all gloomy and terrible in some way. There are,
however, some among them who have light hearts and brave attire.

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

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

3. _The Gonconer or Ganconagh_ (Ir. _Gean-canogh_, _i.e._
love-talker).--This is a creature of the Lepricaun type, but, unlike
him, is a great idler. He appears in lonely valleys, always with a
pipe in his mouth, and spends his time in making love to shepherdesses
and milkmaids.

4. _The Far Darrig_ (Ir. _Fear Dearg_, _i.e._ red man).--This is the
practical joker of the other world. The wild Sligo story I give of 'A
Fairy Enchantment' was probably his work. Of these solitary and mainly
evil fairies there is no more lubberly wretch than this same Far
Darrig. Like the next phantom, he presides over evil dreams.

5. _The Pooka_ (Ir. _Púca_, a word derived by some from _poc_, a
he-goat).--The Pooka seems of the family of the nightmare. He has most
likely never appeared in human form, the one or two recorded instances
being probably mistakes, he being mixed up with the Far Darrig. His
shape is usually that of a horse, a bull, a goat, eagle, or ass. His
delight is to get a rider, whom he rushes with through ditches and
rivers and over mountains, and shakes off in the gray of the morning.
Especially does he love to plague a drunkard: a drunkard's sleep is
his kingdom. At times he takes more unexpected forms than those of
beast or bird. The one that haunts the Dun of Coch-na-Phuca in
Kilkenny takes the form of a fleece of wool, and at night rolls out
into the surrounding fields, making a buzzing noise that so terrifies
the cattle that unbroken colts will run to the nearest man and lay
their heads upon his shoulder for protection.

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

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

8. _The Far Gorta_ (man of hunger).--This is an emaciated fairy that
goes through the land in famine time, begging and bringing good luck
to the giver.

9. _The Banshee_ (Ir. _Bean-sidhe_, _i.e._ fairy woman).--This fairy,
like the Far Gorta, differs from the general run of solitary fairies
by its generally good disposition. She is perhaps not really one of
them at all, but a sociable fairy grown solitary through much sorrow.
The name corresponds to the less common Far Shee (Ir. _Fear Sidhe_), a
man fairy. She wails, as most people know, over the death of a member
of some old Irish family. Sometimes she is an enemy of the house and
screams with triumph, but more often a friend. When more than one
Banshee comes to cry, the man or woman who is dying must have been
very holy or very brave. Occasionally she is most undoubtedly one of
the sociable fairies. Cleena, once an Irish princess and then a
Munster goddess, and now a Sheoque, is thus mentioned by the greatest
of Irish antiquarians.

O'Donovan, writing in 1849 to a friend, who quotes his words in the
_Dublin University Magazine_, says: 'When my grandfather died in
Leinster in 1798, Cleena came all the way from Ton Cleena to lament
him; but she has not been heard ever since lamenting any of our race,
though I believe she still weeps in the mountains of Drumaleaque in
her own country, where so many of the race of Eoghan More are dying of
starvation.' The Banshee on the other hand who cries with triumph is
often believed to be no fairy but a ghost of one wronged by an
ancestor of the dying. Some say wrongly that she never goes beyond the
seas, but dwells always in her own country. Upon the other hand, a
distinguished writer on anthropology assures me that he has heard her
on 1st December 1867, in Pital, near Libertad, Central America, as he
rode through a deep forest. She was dressed in pale yellow, and raised
a cry like the cry of a bat. She came to announce the death of his
father. This is her cry, written down by him with the help of a
Frenchman and a violin.

[Illustration: music no caption ]

He saw and heard her again on 5th February 1871, at 16 Devonshire
Street, Queen's Square, London. She came this time to announce the
death of his eldest child; and in 1884 he again saw and heard her at
28 East Street, Queen's Square, the death of his mother being the
cause.

The Banshee is called _badh_ or _bowa_ in East Munster, and is named
_Bachuntha_ by Banim in one of his novels.

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

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

W. B. YEATS.

CO. DOWN, _June 1891_.



AUTHORITIES ON IRISH FOLKLORE


Croker's _Legends of the South of Ireland_; Lady Wilde's _Ancient
Legends of Ireland_, and _Ancient Charms_; Sir William Wilde's _Irish
Popular Superstitions_; McAnally's _Irish Wonders_; _Irish Folklore_,
by Lageniensis (Father O'Hanlan); Curtins's _Myths and Folklore of
Ireland_; Douglas Hyde's _Beside the Fire_ and his _Leabhar
Sgeulaigheachta_; Patrick Kennedy's _Legendary Fictions of the Irish
Peasantry_, his _Banks of the Boro_, his _Evenings on the Duffrey_,
and his _Legends of Mount Leinster_; the chap-books, _Royal Fairy
Tales_, and _Tales of the Fairies_. There is also much folklore in
Carleton's _Traits and Stories_; in Lover's _Legends and Stories of
the Irish Peasantry_; in Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall's _Ireland_; in Lady
Chatterton's _Rambles in the South of Ireland_; in Gerald Griffen's
_Tales of a Jury Room_ in particular, and in his other books in
general. It would repay the trouble if some Irish magazine would
select from his works the stray legends and scraps of fairy belief.
There is much in the _Collegians_. There is also folklore in the
chap-book _Hibernian Tales_, and a Banshee story or two will be found
in Miss Lefanu's _Memoirs of my Grandmother_, and in Barrington's
_Recollections_. There are also stories in Donovan's introduction to
the _Four Masters_. The best articles are those in the _Dublin and
London Magazine_ ("The Fairy Greyhound" is from this collection) for
1827 and 1829, about a dozen in all, and David Fitzgerald's various
contributions to the _Review Celtique_ in our own day, and Miss
M'Clintock's articles in the _Dublin University Magazine_ for 1878.
There are good articles also in the _Dublin University Magazine_ for
1839, and much Irish folklore is within the pages of the _Folklore
Journal_ and the _Folklore Record_, and in the proceedings of the
_Kilkenny Archæological Society_. The _Penny Journal_, the _Newry
Magazine_, _Duffy's Sixpenny Magazine_, and the _Hibernian Magazine_,
are also worth a search by any Irish writer on the look-out for
subjects for song or ballad. My own articles in the _Scots Observer_
and _National Observer_ give many gatherings from the little-reaped
Connaught fields. I repeat this list of authorities from my _Fairy and
Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry_,--a compilation from some of the
sources mentioned,--bringing it down to date and making one or two
corrections. The reader who would know Irish tradition should read
these books above all others--Lady Wilde's _Ancient Legends_, Douglas
Hyde's _Beside the Fire_, and a book not mentioned in the foregoing
list, for it deals with the bardic rather than the folk literature,
Standish O'Grady's _History of Ireland, Heroic Period_--perhaps the
most imaginative book written on any Irish subject in recent decades.


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