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Title: Ulster Folklore
Author: Andrews, Elizabeth
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Illustration: PLATE I. [_R. Welch, Photo._






In 1894 I was at the meeting of the British Association at Oxford, and
had the good fortune to hear Professor Julius Kollmann give his paper on
"Pygmies in Europe," in which he described the skeletons which had then
recently been discovered near Schaffhausen. As I listened to his account
of these small people, whose average height was about four and a half
feet, I recalled the description of Irish fairies given to me by an old
woman from Galway, and it appeared to me that our traditional "wee-folk"
were about the size of these Swiss dwarfs. I determined to collect what
information I could, and the result is given in the following pages. I
found that the fairies are, indeed, regarded as small; but their height
may be that of a well-grown boy or girl, or they may not be larger than
a child beginning to walk. I once asked a woman if they were as small as
cocks and hens, but she laughed at the suggestion.

I had collected a number of stories, and had become convinced that in
these tales we had a reminiscence of a dwarf race, when I read some of
Mr. David MacRitchie's works, and was gratified to find that the
traditions I had gathered were in accordance with the conclusions he had
drawn from his investigations in Scotland. A little later I made his
acquaintance, and owe him many thanks for his great kindness and the
encouragement he has given me in my work.

As will be seen in the following pages, tradition records several small
races in Ulster: the Grogachs, who are closely allied to the fairies,
and also to the Scotch and English Brownies; the short Danes, whom I am
inclined to identify with the Tuatha de Danann; the Pechts, or Picts;
and also the small Finns. My belief is that all these, including the
fairies, represent primitive races of mankind, and that in the stories
of women, children, and men being carried off by the fairies, we have a
record of warfare, when stealthy raids were made and captives brought to
the dark souterrain. These souterrains, or, as the country people call
them, "coves," are very numerous. They are underground structures, built
of rough stones without mortar, and roofed with large flat slabs. Plate
II. shows a fine one at Ardtole, near Ardglass, Co. Down. The total
length of this souterrain is about one hundred and eight feet, its width
three feet, and its height five feet three inches.[1] The entrance to
another souterrain is shown in the Sweathouse at Maghera[2] (Plate

As a rule, although the fairies are regarded as "fallen angels," they
are said to be kind to the poor, and to possess many good qualities. "It
was better for the land before they went away" is an expression I have
heard more than once. The belief in the fairy changeling has, however,
led to many acts of cruelty. We know of the terrible cases which
occurred in the South of Ireland some years ago, and I met with the same
superstition in the North. I was told a man believed his sick wife was
not herself, but a fairy who had been substituted for her. Fortunately
the poor woman was in hospital, so no harm could come to her.

Much of primitive belief has gathered round the fairy--we have the fairy
well and the fairy thorn. It is said that fairies can make themselves so
small that they can creep through keyholes, and they are generally
invisible to ordinary mortals. They can shoot their arrows at cattle and
human beings, and by their magic powers bring disease on both. They
seldom, however, partake of the nature of ghosts, and I do not think
belief in fairies is connected with ancestral worship.

Sometimes I have been asked if the people did not invent these stories
to please me. The best answer to this question is to be found in the
diverse localities from which the same tale comes. I have heard of the
making of heather ale by the Danes, and the tragic fate of the father
and son, the last of this race, in Down, Antrim, Londonderry, and Kerry.
The same story is told in many parts of Scotland, although there it is
the Picts who make the heather ale. I have been told of the woman
attending the fairy-man's wife, acquiring the power of seeing the
fairies, and subsequently having her eye put out, in Donegal and Derry,
and variants of the story come to us from Wales and the Holy Land.

I am aware that I labour under a disadvantage in not being an Irish
scholar, but most of those in Down, Antrim, and Derry from whom I heard
the tales spoke only English, and in Donegal the peasants who related
the stories knew both languages well, and I believe gave me a faithful
version of their Irish tales.

Some of these essays appeared in the _Antiquary_, others were read to
the Archæological Section of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, but
are now published for the first time _in extenso_. All have been
revised, and additional notes introduced. To these chapters on folklore
I have added an article on the Rev. William Hamilton, who, in his
"Letters on the North-East Coast of Antrim," written towards the close
of the eighteenth century, gives an account of the geology, antiquities,
and customs of the country.

The plan of the souterrain at Ballymagreehan Fort, Co. Down, was kindly
drawn for me by Mr. Arthur Birch. I am much indebted to the Council of
the Royal Anthropological Institute for their kindness in allowing me to
reproduce the plan of the souterrain at Knockdhu from Mrs. Hobson's
paper, "Some Ulster Souterrains," published in the _Journal_ of the
Institute, vol. xxxix., January to June, 1909. My best thanks are also
due to Mrs. Hobson for allowing me to make use of her photograph of the
entrance to this souterrain. The other illustrations are from
photographs by Mr. Robert Welch, M.R.I.A., who has done so much to make
the scenery, geology, and antiquities of the North of Ireland better
known to the English public.

  _August, 1913_.


[1] See "Ardtole Souterrain, Co. Down," by F. J. Bigger and W.
J. Fennell in _Ulster Journal of Archæology_, 1898-99, pp. 146, 147.

[2] I am much indebted to Mr. S. D. Lytle of that town for
kind permission to reproduce this view.



  INTRODUCTION                                                V

  FAIRIES AND THEIR DWELLING-PLACES                           1

  A DAY AT MAGHERA, CO. LONDONDERRY                          14

  ULSTER FAIRIES, DANES, AND PECHTS                          24


  SWITZERLAND                                                47

  FOLKLORE FROM DONEGAL                                      64

  GIANTS AND DWARFS                                          84

  THE REV. WILLIAM HAMILTON, D.D.                           105



     I. HARVEST KNOT                             _Frontispiece_

                                                    FACING PAGE


   III. ENTRANCE TO SWEATHOUSE, MAGHERA                      14

    IV. RUSH AND STRAW CROSSES                               17

     V. HARVEST KNOTS                                        19

    VI. "CHURN"                                              20


  VIII. THE OLD FORT, ANTRIM                                 36

    IX. GREY MAN'S PATH, FAIR HEAD                           49

     X. TORMORE, TORY ISLAND                                 73


        FORT IN LENAGH TOWNLAND                              97


        SOUTERRAIN AT BALLYMAGREEHAN                          6

        SOUTERRAIN AT KNOCKDHU                               30

  [Illustration: PLATE II. [_R. Welch, Photo._

Fairies and their Dwelling-places[3]

In the following notes I have recorded a few traditions gathered from
the peasantry in Co. Down and other parts of Ireland regarding the
fairies. The belief is general that these little people were at one time
very numerous throughout the country, but have now disappeared from many
of their former haunts. At Ballynahinch I was told they had been blown
away fifty years ago by a great storm, and the caretaker of the old
church and graveyard of Killevy said they had gone to Scotland. They
are, however, supposed still to inhabit the more remote parts of the
country, and the old people have many stories of fairy visitors, and of
what happened in their own youth and in the time of their fathers and

We must not, however, think of Irish fairies as tiny creatures who
could hide under a mushroom or dance on a blade of grass. I remember
well how strongly an old woman from Galway repudiated such an idea. The
fairies, according to her, were indeed small people, but no mushroom
could give them shelter. She described them as about the size of
children, and as far as I can ascertain from inquiries made in many
parts of Ulster and Munster, this is the almost universal belief among
the peasantry. Sometimes I was told the fairies were as large as a
well-grown boy or girl, sometimes that they were as small as children
beginning to walk; the height of a chair or a table was often used as a
comparison, and on one occasion an old woman spoke of them as being
about the size of monkeys.

The colour red appears to be closely associated with these little
people. In Co. Waterford, if a child has a red handkerchief on its head,
it is said to be wearing a fairy cap. I have frequently been told of the
small men in red jackets running about the forts; the fairy women
sometimes appear in red cloaks; and I have heard more than once that
fairies have red hair.

A farmer living in one of the valleys of the Mourne Mountains said he
had seen one stormy night little creatures with red hair, about the size
of children. I asked him if they might not have been really children
from some of the cottages, but his reply was that no child could have
been out in such weather.

An old woman living near Tullamore Park, Co. Down, described vividly
how, going out to look after her goat and its young kid, she had heard
loud screams and seen wild-looking figures with scanty clothing whose
hair stood up like the mane of a horse. She spoke with much respect of
the fairies as the gentry, said they formerly inhabited hills in
Tullamore Park, and that care was taken not to destroy their
thorn-bushes. She related the following story: As a friend of hers was
sitting alone one night, a small old woman, dressed in a white cap and
apron, came in and borrowed a bowl of meal. The debt was repaid, and the
meal brought by the fairy put in the barrel. The woman kept the matter
secret, and was surprised to find her barrel did not need replenishing.
At last her husband asked if her store of meal was not coming to an end;
she replied that she would show him she had sufficient, and lifted the
cover of the barrel. To her astonishment it was almost empty; no doubt,
had she kept her secret, she would have had an unlimited supply of meal.

I have heard several similar stories, and have not found that any evil
consequences were supposed to follow from partaking of food brought by
the fairies. Men have been carried off by them, have heard their
beautiful music, seen them dancing, or witnessed a fairy battle without
bringing any misfortune on themselves. On the other hand, according to a
story I heard at Buncrana, Co. Donegal, a little herd-boy paid dearly
for having entered one of their dwellings. As he was climbing among the
rocks, he saw a cleft, and creeping through it came to where a fairy
woman was spinning with her "weans," or children, around her. His sister
missed him, and after searching for a time, she too, came to the cleft,
and looking down saw her brother, and called to him to come out. He
came, but was never able to speak again.

In another case deafness followed intercourse with the fairies. An
elderly man at Maghera, Co. Down, told me that his brother when four or
five years old went out with his father. The child lay down on the
grass. After a while the father heard a great noise, and looking up saw
little men about two feet in height dancing round his son. He called to
them to be gone, and they ran towards a fort and disappeared. The child
became deaf, and did not recover his hearing for ten years. He died at
the age of seventeen.

To cut down a fairy thorn or to injure the house of a fairy is regarded
as certain to bring misfortune. An old woman also living at Maghera,
related how her great-grandmother had received a visit from a small old
woman, who forbade the building of a certain turf-stack, saying that
evil would befall anyone who injured the chimneys of her house. The
warning was disregarded, the turf-stack built, and before long four cows

I was told that when a certain fort in Co. Fermanagh was levelled to
the ground misfortune overtook the men who did the work, although,
apparently, they were only labourers, many of them dying suddenly. It
was also said that where this fort had stood there were caves or hollows
in the ground into which the oxen would fall when ploughing. An attempt
to bring a fort near Newcastle under cultivation is believed to have
caused the sudden death of the owner.

The fairies are celebrated as fine musicians; they ride on small horses;
the women grind meal, and the sound of their spinning is often heard at
night in the peasants' cottages. The following story is related as
having occurred at Camlough, near Newry.

A woman was spinning one evening when three fairies came into the house,
each bringing a spinning-wheel. They said they would help her with her
work, and one of them asked for a drink of water. The woman went to the
well to fetch it. When there she was warned, apparently by a friendly
fairy, that the others had come only to mock and harm her. Acting on the
advice of this friend, the woman, as soon as she had given water to the
three, turned again to the open door, and stood looking intently towards
a fort. They asked what she was gazing at, and the reply was: "At the
blaze on the fort." No sooner had she uttered these words than the three
fairies rushed out with such haste that one of them left her
spinning-wheel behind, which, according to the story, is now to be seen
in Dublin Castle. The woman then shut her door, and put a pin in the
keyhole, thus effectually preventing the return of her visitors.

In this story we have probably an allusion to the signal fires which
are believed by the peasantry to have been lit on the forts in time of
danger, one fort being always within view of another. These forts, or
raths, appear to have been the favourite abode of the fairies. To use
the language of the peasantry, these little people live in the "coves of
the forths," an expression which puzzled me until I found that coves, or
caves, meant underground passages--in other words, souterrains.

There are a number of these souterrains in the neighbourhood of
Castlewellan, and with a young friend, who helped me to take a few rough
measurements, I explored several.


Ballymagreehan Fort is a short distance from Castlewellan, near the
Newry Road. It is a small fort, and on the top we saw the narrow
entrance to the souterrain. Passing down through this, we found
ourselves in a short passage, or chamber, which led us to another
passage at right angles to the first. It is about forty feet in length
and three feet in width; the height varies from four to five feet. The
roof is formed of flat slabs, and the walls are carefully built of round
stones, but without mortar. At one end this passage appeared to
terminate in a wall, but at the other it was only choked with fallen
stones and débris, and I should think had formerly extended farther.

Herman's Fort is another small fort on the opposite side of
Castlewellan, in the townland of Clarkill. Climbing to the top of it, we
came to an enclosure where several thorn-bushes were growing. The farmer
who kindly acted as our guide showed us two openings. One of these led
to a narrow chamber fully six feet high, the other to a passage more
than thirty feet in length and about three feet wide, while the height
varied from three and a half feet in one part to more than five feet in
another. I was told that water is always to be found near these forts,
and was shown a well which had existed from time immemorial; the sides
were built of round stones without mortar, in the same way as the walls
of the passage.

We heard here of another souterrain about a mile distant, called
Backaderry Cove. It is on the side of a hill close to the road leading
from Castlewellan to Dromara. A number of thorn-bushes grow near the
place, but there is no mound, either natural or artificial. Creeping
through the opening, we found ourselves in a passage about forty feet in
length; a chamber opens off it nine feet in length, and between five and
six feet in height, while the height of the passage varies from four and
a half to five and a half feet. There is a tradition that this passage
formerly connected Backaderry with Herman's Fort.

Ballyginney Fort is near Maghera. I only saw the entrance to the
souterrain, but from what I heard I believe that here also there is a
chamber opening off the passage. The farmer on whose land the fort is
situated told me that one dry summer he had planted flax in the field
adjoining the fort. The small depth of soil above the flat slabs
affected the crop, so that by the difference in the flax it was easy to
trace where the passage ran below the field.

We have seen that the fairies are believed to inhabit the souterrains;
they are also said to live inside certain hills, and in forts where, so
far as is known, no underground structure exists. I may mention as an
example the large fort on the Shimna River, near Newcastle, where I was
told their music was often to be heard. There may be many souterrains
whose entrance has been choked up, and of which no record has been
preserved. Mr. Bigger gave last session an interesting account of one
discovered at Stranocum; another was accidentally found last September
in a field about three miles from Newry. Mr. Mann Harbison, who visited
the souterrain, writes to me that the excavation has been made in a
circular portion which is six feet wide and five feet high. A gallery
opens out of this chamber, and is in some places not more than three
feet six inches high.

The building of the forts and souterrains is ascribed by the country
people to the Danes, a race of whom various traditions exist. They are
said to have had red hair; sometimes they are spoken of as large men,
sometimes as short men. One old woman, who had little belief in fairies,
told me that in the old troubled times in Ireland people lived inside
the forts; these people were the Danes, and they used to light fires on
the top as a signal from one fort to another. I heard from an elderly
man of Danes having encamped on his grandmother's farm. Smoke was seen
rising from an unfrequented spot, and when an uncle went to investigate
the matter he found small huts with no doors, only a bundle of sticks
laid across the entrance. In one of the huts he saw a pot boiling on the
fire, and going forward he began to stir the contents. Immediately a
red-haired man and woman rushed in; they appeared angry at the
intrusion, and when he went out threw a plate after him.

The traditions in regard both to Danes and fairies are very similar in
different parts of Ireland. In Co. Cavan the country people spoke of the
beautiful music of the fairies, and told me of their living in a fort
near Lough Oughter. One woman said they were sometimes called Ganelochs,
and were about the size of children, and an old man described them as
little people about one or two feet high, riding on small horses.

In Co. Waterford I was told that the fairies were not ghosts: they lived
in the air. One man might see them while they would be invisible to

In an interesting lecture on the "Customs and Superstitions of the
Southern Irish," the Rev. J. B. Leslie, who has kindly allowed me to
quote from his manuscript, describes the fairies as "a species of beings
neither men nor angels nor ghosts.... They are connected in the popular
imagination with the Danish forts which are common in the country. In
these they seem to have their abode underground. At night they hold here
high revels--in grand banqueting-halls--and in these revels there must
always, I believe, be a living human being. The fairies are often called
the 'good people'; some think they are 'fallen angels.' They are usually
thought of as harmless creatures, unless, of course, they are interfered
with, when the power they wield is very great. They are very fond of
games; some testify that they have seen them play football, others
hurley, while playing at marbles is a special pastime, and I have even
heard of persons who have discovered 'fairy marbles' near or in these
forts. No one will interfere with the forts; they fear the power and
anger of the fairies."

While the fairies are generally associated with the forts, I heard both
in Co. Down and Co. Kerry of their living in caves in the mountains, and
a lad whom I met near the Gap of Dunloe described them as having cloven
feet and black hair.

A boatman at Killarney spoke of the Leprechauns as little men about
three feet in height, wearing red caps. He thought the fairies might be
taller, and spoke of their living in the forts. He said these forts had
been built by the Danes, who must have been small men, when they made
the passages so low. We thus see that fairies and Danes are both
associated with these ancient structures. Although the Irish peasant
speaks of these Danes having been conquered by Brian Boru, the structure
and position of the raths and souterrains point to their having been the
work of one of the earlier Irish races rather than of the medieval
Norsemen. Their name appears to identify them with the Tuatha de Danann
whose necromantic power is celebrated in Irish tales, and of whom,
according to O'Curry, one class of fairies are the representatives. I
know that some high authorities regard the Tuatha de Danann and the
fairies as alike mythological beings. The latter are certainly in
popular legend endowed with superhuman attributes; they can transport
people long distances, creep through keyholes, and the fairy changeling,
when placed on the fire, can escape up the chimney and grin at his
tormentors. If we ask the country people who are the fairies, the reply
is frequently, "Fallen angels." According to an old woman in Donegal,
these angels fell, some on the sea, some on the earth, while some
remained in the air; the fairies were those who fell on the earth.

These "fallen angels" may be the representatives of the spirits whom the
pagan Irish worshipped and strove to propitiate, and some of the tales
relating to the fairies may have their origin in the mythology of a
primitive people. But the raths and souterrains are certainly the work
of human hands, and I would suggest that in the legends connected with
them we have a reminiscence of a dwarf race who rode on ponies, were
good musicians, could spin and weave, and grind corn. The traditions
would point to their being red-haired.

Mr. Mann Harbison has kindly written to me on this subject, and
expresses his belief that the souterrains "were constructed by a
diminutive race, probably allied to the modern Lapps, who seem to be the
survivors of a widely distributed race." In another letter he says: "The
universal idea of fairies is very suggestive. The tall Celts, when they
arrived, saw the small people disappear in a mysterious way, and,
without stopping to investigate, imagined they had become invisible. If
they had had the courage or the patience to investigate, they would have
found that they had passed into their souterrain."

In his work "Fians, Fairies, and Picts," Mr. David MacRitchie argues
that these three names belong to similar if not identical dwarf races in
Scotland. The Tuatha de Danann he also regards as of the same race as
the fairies, or, to give them their Irish name, the Fir Sidhe, the men
of the green mounds.

The remains of the ancient cave-dwellers point to a primitive race of
small size inhabiting Europe. Dr. Munro, in his work "Prehistoric
Problems," refers to the skeletons discovered at Spy in Belgium by MM.
Lohest and De Pudzt. He describes them as examples of a very early and
low type of the human race, and states that Professor Fraipont, who
examined them anatomically, "came to the conclusion that the Spy men
belonged to a race relatively of small stature, analogous to the modern
Laplanders, having voluminous heads, massive bodies, short arms, and
bent legs. They led a sedentary life, frequented caves, manufactured
flint implements after the type known as Moustérien, and were
contemporary with the Mammoth."[4]

Let us compare this description with that in the ballad of "The Wee, Wee

    "His legs were scarce a shathmont's[6] length,
      And thick and thimber was his thigh;
    Between his brows there was a span,
      And between his shoulders there was three."

I do not, however, mean to suggest that the builders of the raths and
souterrains were contemporary with the men of Spy, but rather that a
small race of primitive men may have existed until a comparatively late
period in this country. Leading a desultory warfare with their
neighbours, they would carry off women and children, and injure the
cattle with their stone weapons. We should note that in the traditions
of the peasantry, and also in the old ballads, those who have been
carried off by the fairies can frequently be released from captivity,
and they return, not as ghosts, but as living men or women. May we not
see in these legends traces of a struggle between a primitive race,
whose gods may have been, like themselves, of diminutive stature, and
their more civilized neighbours, who accepted the teaching of the early
Christian missionaries?


[3] Communicated to Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, January
18, 1898.

[4] P. 141.

[5] "Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs," published anonymously,
but known to have been collected by David Herd (vol. i., p. 95, ed.

[6] The fist closed with thumb extended, and may be considered
a measure of about six inches.

A Day at Maghera, Co. Londonderry[7]

One fine morning last August I found myself in the quaint old town of
Maghera. My first visit was to the post-office, where I bought some
picture-cards, and inquired my way to Killelagh Church, the Cromlech,
and the Sweat-house, as it is called, where formerly people indulged in
a vapour-bath to cure rheumatism and other complaints. I was told to
follow the main street. This I did, and when I came to the outskirts of
the town I tried to get a guide, and spoke to a boy at one of the
cottages. He, however, knew very little, but fortunately saw an elderly
man coming down the road, who consented to show me the way, and proved
an excellent guide. His name is Daniel McKenna, a coach-builder by
trade. His father, who was teacher in Maghera National School for
thirty-five years, knew Irish well, and I understand gave Dr. Joyce
information in regard to some of the place-names in Co. Derry. Taking a
road which led in a north-westerly direction, we came to the Cromlech,
and a few yards farther on saw the old Church of Killelagh.


My guide pointed out that the doorstep was much worn, doubtless by the
feet of those who during many centuries had passed over it; he showed
me, too, the strong walls, and said the mortar had been cemented with
the blood of bullocks. This probably recalls an ancient custom, when an
animal--in still earlier times it might be a human being[8]--was slain
to propitiate or drive away the evil spirits and secure the stability of
the building. A similar tradition exists in regard to Roughan Castle,
the stronghold of Phelim O'Neill, in Co. Tyrone.

Leaving Killelagh Church, we continued our walk, and I asked my guide
about the customs and traditions of the country. He told me that on
Hallow Eve Night salt is put on the heads of children to protect them
from the fairies. These fairies, or wee folk, are about three feet in
height, some not so tall; they are of different races or tribes, and
have pitched battles at the Pecht's graveyard. This is a place covered
with rough mounds and very rough stones, and is looked on as a great
playground of the fairies; people passing through it are often led
astray by them. The Pechts, or Picts, were described to me as having
long black hair, which grew in tufts; they were small people, about four
feet six inches in height, thick set, nearly as broad as they were long,
strong in arms and shoulders, and with very large feet. When a shower of
rain came on, they would stand on their heads and shelter themselves
under their feet. Some years ago I was told a similar story in Co.
Antrim of the Pechts lying down and using their feet as umbrellas.[9]

I regretted we had not time to visit a large fort we passed on the way
to Ballyknock Farmhouse. Here we left the road, and, passing through
some fields, came to the old Sweat-house. As you will see from the
photograph kindly given to me by Mr. Lytle of Maghera, the entrance is
on the side of a bank. It is a much more primitive structure than those
at the Struel Wells, near Downpatrick. No mortar has been used in its
construction, and I should say it is an old souterrain, or part of a
souterrain. The following are rough measurements:

  Height of entrance       2 feet.
  Width of entrance       15 inches.
  Height of interior       5 feet 5 inches.
  Width of interior        3 feet.
  Length of interior       9 feet.

  [Illustration: PLATE IV. [_R. Welch, Photo._

This building, as already mentioned, was used by those suffering from
rheumatism, and near the entrance is a well in which the patients bathed
to complete the cure.

While we were resting I asked about rush crosses, which are put up in
many cottages at Maghera, and, gathering some rushes, Daniel McKenna
showed me how they were made. He told me that on St. Bridget's Eve,
January 31, children are sent out to pull rushes, which must not be cut
with a knife. When these rushes are brought in, the family gather round
the fire and make the crosses, which are sprinkled with holy water. The
wife or eldest daughter prepares tea and pancakes, and the plate of
pancakes is laid on the top of the rush cross. Prayers are said, and the
family partake of St. Bridget's supper. The crosses are hung up over
doors and beds to bring good luck. In former times sowans or flummery
was eaten instead of pancakes. I have heard of similar customs in other
places. At Tobermore those who bring in the rushes ask at the door, "May
St. Bridget come in?" "Yes, she may," is the answer. The rushes are put
on a rail under the table while the family partake of tea. Afterwards
the crosses are made, and, as at Maghera, hung up over doors and

This custom probably comes to us from pre-Christian times. The cross in
its varied forms is a very ancient symbol, sometimes representing the
sun, sometimes the four winds of heaven. Schlieman discovered it on the
pottery of the Troad; it is found in Egypt, India, China, and Japan, and
among the people of the Bronze Period it appears frequently on pottery,
jewellery, and coins.

Now, St. Bridget had a pagan predecessor, Brigit, a poetess of the
Tuatha de Danann, and whom we may perhaps regard as a female Apollo.
Cormac, in his "Glossary," tells us she was a daughter of the Dagda and
a goddess whom all poets adored, and whose two sisters were Brigit the
physician and Brigit the smith. Probably the three sisters represent the
same divine or semi-divine person whom we may identify with the British
goddess Brigantia and the Gaulish Brigindo.

May we not see, then, in these rush crosses a very ancient symbol, used
in pagan times, and which was probably consecrated by early Christian
missionaries, and given a new significance?

  [Illustration: PLATE V. [_R. Welch, Photo._

The harvest knots or bows are connected with another old custom which
was, until recently, observed at Maghera. When the harvest was gathered
in, the last handful of oats, the corn of this country, was left
standing. It was plaited in three parts and tied at the top, and was
called by the Irish name "luchter." The reapers stood at some distance,
and threw their sickles at the luchter, and the man who cut it was
exempt from paying his share of the feast. Daniel McKenna told me he had
seen some fine sickles broken in trying to hit the luchter. It was
afterwards carried home; the young girls plaited harvest knots and put
them in their hair, while the lads wore them in their caps and
buttonholes. A dance followed the feast. The knots, with the ears of
corn attached, are, I am told, the true old Irish type, while it is
thought that the smaller ones were made after a pattern brought from
England by the harvest reapers on their return home. I heard of the same
custom at Portstewart and also in the Valley of the Roe, where the last
sheaf of oats was called the "hare," and the throwing of the sickles was
termed the "churn." In some places the last sheaf itself was called the
"churn," but by whatever name it was known the man who hit it was
regarded as the victor, and was given the best seat at the feast, or a
reward of some kind. An old woman above ninety years of age repeated to
me a song about the churn, or kirn, and she and many others remember
well the custom and the feast which followed, when both whisky and tea
were served.

In some districts the last sheaf is termed the "Cailleagh,"[11] or old

A similar custom in Devonshire has been described by Mr. Pearse Chope
in the _London Devonian Year Book_ for 1910, p. 127. Here corn is wheat,
and a sheaf of the finest ears, termed the "neck," is carried by one of
the men to an elevated spot; the reapers form themselves into a ring,
and each man holding his hook above his head, they all join in "the
weird cry, 'A neck! a neck! a neck! We ha' un! we ha' un! we ha' un!'
This is repeated several times, with the occasional variation: 'A neck!
a neck! a neck! God sa' un! God sa' un! God sa' un!' After this ceremony
the man with the neck has to run to the kitchen, and get it there dry,
while the maids wait with buckets and pitchers of water to 'souse' him
and the neck." Mr. Chope adds that in most cases the neck is more or
less in the form of a woman, and undoubtedly represented the spirit of
the harvest, and that "the main idea of the ceremony seems to have been
that in cutting the corn the spirit was gradually driven into the last
handful.... As it was needful to cut the corn and bury the seed, so it
was necessary to kill the corn spirit in order that it might rise again
in fresh youth and vigour in the coming crop."[12]

I think we may safely assume that the Irish churn had a similar origin,
and that in throwing the sickles the aim of the ancient reapers was to
kill the spirit of the corn.

  [Illustration: PLATE VI. [_R. Welch, Photo._

We have seen that in the North of Ireland the last sheaf is
frequently termed the "hare," and in many other countries the corn
spirit takes the form of an animal. In his recent volumes of the _Golden
Bough_, entitled "Spirits of the Corn and the Wild," Dr. Frazer mentions
many animals, such as the wolf, goat, fox, dog, bull, cow, horse, hare,
which represent the corn spirit lurking in the last patch of standing
corn. He tells us that "at harvest a number of wild animals, such as
hares, rabbits, and partridges, are commonly driven by the progress of
the reaping into the last patch of standing corn, and make their escape
from it as it is being cut down.... Now, primitive man, to whom magical
changes of shape seem perfectly credible, finds it most natural that the
spirit of the corn, driven from his home in the ripe grain, should make
his escape in the form of the animal, which is seen to rush out of the
last patch of corn as it falls under the scythe of the reaper."[13]

To return to Maghera. The morning passed swiftly as I listened to my
guide's description of these old customs, and it was after two o'clock
when I said good-bye to him at his cottage, and found myself again in
the main street of Maghera. I now wished to visit the Fort of Dunglady,
and after a refreshing cup of tea, engaged a car. The driver knew the
country well, and, going uphill and downhill, we passed through the
village of Culnady, and were soon close to this fine fort. A few
minutes' walk, and I stood on the outer rampart, and gazed across the
inner circles at the cattle grazing on the central enclosure.

This fort was visited in 1902 by the Royal Society of Antiquaries of
Ireland, when a very interesting paper, written by Miss Jane Clark of
Kilrea, was read. She mentions that Dr. O'Donovan considered this fort
one of the most interesting he had met with; not so magnificent as the
Dun of Keltar at Downpatrick, but much better fortified, and states that
a map of the time of Charles I. represents Dunglady Fort as a prominent
object, and shows three houses built upon it, one of considerable size.
Quoting from an unpublished letter of Mr. J. Stokes, she refers to the
triple rampart, which makes the diameter of the whole to be three
hundred and thirty feet. There was formerly a draw well in the middle of
the fort, and at one time it was used as a burial-ground by members of
the Society of Friends. Miss Clark also referred to a smaller fort at
Culnady, which had been demolished. The two mounds in the centre of this
rath had been formed of earth on a stone foundation.

A rapid drive brought me back to Maghera in time for a short visit to
the ruins of the Church of St. Lurach, popularly known in the district
as St. Lowry. There is a curious sculpture of the Crucifixion over the
west doorway, which is shown in the sketch of this doorway by Petrie in
Lord Dunraven's "Notes on Irish Architecture."[14]

I must now conclude this account of my visit to Maghera, but may I
mention that farther north there are other interesting antiquities? The
large cromlech, called the Broadstone, is some miles from Kilrea. There
are several forts in the neighbourhood of that town, which draws its
supply of water from a fairy well.


[7] Read before the Archæological Section of the Belfast
Naturalists' Field Club, January 15, 1913.

[8] In "My Schools and Schoolmasters" (chap. x., pp. 222-223,
ed. 1854), Hugh Miller describes the goblin who haunted Craig House,
near Cromarty Firth, as a "grey-headed, grey-bearded, little old man,"
and the apparition was thus explained by a herdboy: "_Oh! they're
saying_ it's the spirit of the man that was killed on the
foundation-stone just after it was laid, and then built intil the wa' by
the masons, that he might keep the castle by coming back again; and
_they're saying_ that a' the verra auld houses in the kintra had
murderit men builded intil them in that way, and that they have a' o'
them this bogle."

In "The Study of Man," Professor Haddon gives a number of allusions to
the human sacrifice in the building of bridges (pp. 347-356).

[9] See p. 27.

[10] In Plate IV. the larger cross is of rushes, the smaller
one is made of straw.

[11] Mr. McKean kindly informs me that he has found this name
or its modification "Collya" in Counties Armagh, Monaghan, and Tyrone;
also near Cushendall, Co. Antrim, where the ceremony is called "cutting
the Cailleagh." He was told this Cailleagh was an old witch, and by
"killing" her and taking her into the house you got good luck. At
Ballyatoge, at the back of Cat Carn Hill, near Belfast, in the descent
to Crumlin, the custom is called "cutting the Granny." At Ballycastle,
Co. Antrim, the plait or braid is called the "car-line."

[12] Dr. Frazer also describes this Devonshire custom (see
_Golden Bough_, "Spirits of the Corn and the Wild," vol. i., pp.

[13] "Spirits of the Corn and the Wild," vol. i., pp. 304,

[14] Vol. i., p. 115.

Ulster Fairies, Danes and Pechts[15]

The fairy lore of Ulster is doubtless dying out, but much may yet be
learned about the "gentle" folk, and as we listen to the stories told by
the peasantry, we may well ask ourselves what is the meaning of these
old legends.

Fairies are regarded on the whole as a kindly race of beings, although
if offended they will work dire vengeance. They have no connection with
churchyards, and are quite distinct from ghosts. One old woman, who had
much to say about fairies, when asked about ghosts, replied rather
scornfully, that she did not believe in them. The fairies are supposed
to be small--"wee folk"--but we must not think of them as tiny creatures
who could hide in a foxglove. To use a North of Ireland phrase, they are
the size of a "lump of a boy or girl!" and have been often mistaken for
ordinary men or women, until their sudden disappearance marked them as

A farmer in Co. Antrim told me that once when a man was taking stones
from a cave in a fort, an old man came and asked him would it not be
better to get his stones elsewhere than from those ancient buildings.
The other, however, continued his work; but when the stranger suddenly
disappeared, he became convinced that his questioner was no ordinary
mortal. In after-life he often said sadly: "He was a poor man, and would
always remain a poor man, because he had taken stones from that cave."
The cave was no doubt a souterrain.

An elderly woman in Co. Antrim told me that when a child she one evening
saw "a little old woman with a green cloak coming over the burn." She
helped her to cross, and afterwards took her to the cottage, where her
mother received the stranger kindly, told her she was sorry she could
not give her a bed in the house, but that she might sleep in one of the
outhouses. The children made Grannie as comfortable as they could, and
in the morning went out early to see how she was. They found her up and
ready to leave. The child who had first met her said she would again
help her across the burn--"But wait," she added, "until I get my
bonnet." She ran into the house, but before she came out the old woman
had disappeared.

When the mother heard of this she said: "God bless you, child! Don't
mind Grannie; she is very well able to take care of herself." And so it
was believed that Grannie was a fairy.

I have also heard of a little old man in a three-cornered hat, at first
mistaken for a neighbour, but whose sudden disappearance proved him to
be a fairy.

In the time of the press-gang a crowd was seen approaching some
cottages. Great alarm ensued, and the young men fled; but it was soon
discovered that these people did not come from a man-of-war--they were

A terrible story, showing how the fairies can punish their captives, was
told me by an old woman at Armoy, in Co. Antrim, who vouched for it as
being "candid truth." A man's wife was carried away by the fairies; he
married again, but one night his first wife met him, told him where she
was, and besought him to release her, saying that if he would do so she
would leave that part of the country and not trouble him any more. She
begged him, however, not to make the attempt unless he were confident he
could carry it out, as if he failed she would die a terrible death. He
promised to save her, and she told him to watch at midnight, when she
would be riding past the house with the fairies; she would put her hand
in at the window, and he must grasp it and hold tight. He did as she
bade him, and although the fairies pulled hard, he had nearly saved her,
when his second wife saw what was going on, and tore his hand away. The
poor woman was dragged off, and across the fields he heard her piercing
cries, and saw next morning the drops of blood where the fairies had
murdered her.

Another woman was more fortunate; she was carried off by the fairies at
Cushendall, but was able to inform her friends when she and the fairies
would be going on a journey, and she told them that if they stroked her
with the branch of a rowan-tree she would be free. They did as she
desired. She returned to them, apparently having suffered no injury, and
in the course of time she married.

This story was told me by a man ninety years of age, living in
Glenshesk, in the north of Co. Antrim. He spoke of the fairies as being
about two feet in height, said they were dressed in green, and had been
seen in daylight making hats of rushes. In Donegal I was also told that
the fairies wore high peaked hats made of plaited rushes; but there, as
in most parts of Ulster, and indeed of Ireland, the fairies are said to
wear red, not green. In Antrim the fairies, like their Scotch kinsfolk,
dress in green, but even there are often said to have red or sandy hair.

The Pechts are spoken of as low, stout people, who built some of the
"coves" in the forts. An old man, living in the townland of Drumcrow,
Co. Antrim, showed me the entrance to one of these artificial caves, and
gave me a vivid description of its builders. "The Pechts," he said,
"were low-set, heavy-made people, broad in the feet--so broad," he
added, with an expressive gesture, "that in rain they could lie down and
shelter themselves under their feet." He spoke of them as clad in skins,
while an old woman at Armoy said they were dressed in grey. I have
seldom heard of the Pechts beyond the confines of Antrim, although an
old man in Donegal spoke of them as short people with large, unwieldy

The traditions regarding the Danes vary; sometimes they are spoken of as
a tall race, sometimes as a short race. There is little doubt that the
tall race were the medieval Danes, while in the short men we have
probably a reminiscence of an earlier race.

A widespread belief exists throughout Ireland that the Danes made
heather beer, and that the secret perished with them. According to an
old woman at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, the Danes had the land in
old times, but at last they were conquered, and there remained alive
only a father and son. When pressed to disclose how the heather beer was
made, the father said: "Kill my son, and I will tell you our secret";
but when the son was slain, he cried: "Kill me also, but our secret you
shall never know!" I have the authority of Mr. MacRitchie for stating
that a similar story is known in Scotland from the Shetlands to the Mull
of Galloway, but there it is told of the Picts.

We all remember Louis Stevenson's ballad of heather ale--how the son was
cast into the sea:

    "And there on the cliff stood the father,
      Last of the dwarfish men.

    "True was the word I told you:
      Only my son I feared;
    For I doubt the sapling courage
      That goes without the beard.
    But now in vain is the torture,
      Fire shall never avail;
    Here dies in my bosom
      The secret of heather ale."

The secret appears, however, to have been preserved for many centuries.
After visiting Islay in 1772, the Welsh traveller and naturalist,
Pennant, states that "Ale is frequently made in this island from the
tops of heath, mixing two-thirds of that plant with one of malt."[16]

Probably these islanders were descendants of the Picts or Pechts.

I do not know if there is any record of the making of heather beer in
Ireland in later times, but I heard the story of the lost secret in
Down, in Kerry, in Donegal, in Antrim, and everywhere the father and the
son were the last of the Danes. Does not this point to the Irish Danes
being a kindred race to the Picts? If we may be allowed to hold that the
Tuatha de Danann are not altogether mythical, I should be inclined to
believe that they are the short Danes of the Irish peasantry, who built
the forts and souterrains. I visited some Danes' graves near
Ballygilbert, in Co. Antrim; it appeared to me that there were
indications of a stone circle, the principal tomb was in the centre, the
walls built without mortar, and I was told that formerly it had been
roofed in with a flat stone. Various ridges were pointed out to me as
marking the small fields of these early people. I was also shown their
houses, built, like the graves, without mortar. Within living memory
these old structures were much more perfect than at present, many of
them having the characteristic flat slab as a roof; but fences were
needed, and the Danes' houses offered a convenient and tempting supply
of stones. In the same neighbourhood I was shown a building of
uncemented stone with flat slabs for the roof, and was told it had been
built by the fairies.

  [Illustration: _SOUTERRAIN of KNOCKDHU Co. Antrim
  Drawn by Florence Hobson from the measurements made by M Hobson_]

In the same district I visited a fine souterrain at the foot of
Knockdhu, which was afterwards fully explored and measured by Mrs.
Hobson. She describes it as "a souterrain containing six chambers, with
a length of eighty-seven feet exclusive of a flooded chamber."[17] Mrs.
Hobson photographed the entrance to this souterrain, which is reproduced
in Plate VII.

  [Illustration: PLATE VII.

From the foregoing traditions it will be seen that Pechts, Danes, and
fairies are all associated with the remains of primitive man. I may add
that the small pipes sometimes turned up by the plough are called in
different localities Danes', Pechts', or fairies' pipes.

The peasantry regard the Pechts and the Danes as thoroughly human; with
the fairies it is otherwise. They are unearthly beings, fallen angels
with supernatural powers; but, while quick to revenge an injury or a
slight, on the whole friendly to mankind. "It was better for the country
before they went away," was the remark made to me by an old woman from
Garvagh, Co. Derry, and I have heard the same sentiment expressed by
others. They are always spoken of with much respect, and are often
called the "gentry" or the "gentle folk."

We hear of fairy men, fairy women, and fairy children. They may
intermarry with mortals, and an old woman told me she had seen a fairy's
funeral. Now, do these stories give us only a materialistic view of the
spirit world held by early man, or can we also trace in them a
reminiscence of a pre-Celtic race of small stature? The respect paid to
the fairy thorn is no doubt a survival of tree-worship, and in the
banshee we have a weird being who has little in common with mortal
woman. On the other hand, the fairies are more often connected with the
artificial Forts and souterrains than with natural hills and caves.
These forts and souterrains, as we have seen, are also the habitations
of Danes and Pechts. They are sacred spots--to injure them is to court
misfortune; but I have not heard them spoken of as sepulchres.

I have already mentioned that I have rarely, if ever, found among the
peasantry any tradition of fairies a few inches in height. In one of the
tales in "Silva Gadelica" (xiv.) we read, however, of the lupracan being
so small that the close-cropped grass of the green reached to the thigh
of their poet, and the prize feat of their great champion was the hewing
down of a thistle at a single stroke. Such a race could not have built
the souterrains, and probably owe their origin to the imagination of the
medieval story-teller. The lupracan were not, however, always of such
diminutive size. In a note to this story Mr. Standish H. O'Grady quotes
an old Irish manuscript[18] in which a distinctly human origin is
ascribed to these luchorpan or wee-bodies. "Ham, therefore, was the
first that was cursed after the Deluge, and from him sprang the
wee-bodies (pygmies), fomores, 'goatheads' (satyrs), and every other
deformed shape that human beings wear." The old writer goes on to tell
us that this was the origin of these monstrosities, "which are not, as
the Gael relate, of Cain's seed, for of his seed nothing survived the

It is true that in this passage the lupracan or wee-bodies are
associated with goatheads; but whether these are purely fabulous beings,
or point to an early race whose features were supposed to resemble those
of goats, or who perhaps stood in totem relationship to goats, it would
be difficult to say. What we have here are two medieval traditions, the
one stating that the pygmies are descendants of Cain, the other classing
them among the descendants of Ham. Does the latter contain a germ of
truth, and is it possible that at one time a people resembling the
pygmies of Central Africa inhabited these islands?

Those who have visited the African dwarfs in their own haunts have been
struck by the resemblance between their habits and those ascribed to the
northern fairies, elves, and trolls.

Sir Harry Johnston states that anyone who has seen much of the merry,
impish ways of the Central African pygmies "cannot but be struck by
their singular resemblance in character to the elves and gnomes and
sprites of our nursery stories." He warns us, however, against reckless
theorizing, and says: "It may be too much to assume that the negro
species ever inhabited Europe," but adds that undoubtedly to his
thinking "most fairy myths arose from the contemplation of the
mysterious habits of dwarf troglodyte races lingering on still in the
crannies, caverns, forests, and mountains of Europe after the invasion
of neolithic man."[20] Captain Burroughs refers to the stories of these
mannikins to be found in all countries, and adds that "it was of the
highest interest to find some of them in their primitive and aboriginal
state."[21] He speaks of the red and black Akka, and Sir Harry Johnston
also describes the two types of pygmy, one being of a reddish-yellow
colour, the other as black as the ordinary negro. In the yellow-skinned
type there is a tendency on the part of the head hair to be reddish,
more especially over the frontal part of the head. The hair is never
absolutely black--it varies in colour between greyish-greenish-brown,
and reddish.[22] We have seen how Irish fairies and Danes have red hair,
but I should infer of a brighter hue than these African dwarfs. The
average height of the pygmy man is four feet nine inches, of the pygmy
woman four feet six inches,[23] and although we cannot measure fairies,
I think the Ulster expression, "a lump of a boy or girl," would
correspond with this height. I do not know the size of the fairy's foot,
but, as we have seen, both Danes and Pechts have large feet, and so has
the African pygmy.[24] One of the great marks of the fairies is their
vanishing and leaving no trace behind, and Sir Harry Johnston speaks of
the baboon-like adroitness of the African dwarfs in making themselves
invisible in squatting immobility.[25]

Dr. Robertson Smith has shown that "primitive man has to contend not
only with material difficulties, but with the superstitious terror of
the unknown, paralyzing his energies and forbidding him freely to put
forth his strength to subdue nature to his use."[26] In speaking of the
Arabian "jinn," he states "that even in modern accounts _jinn_ and
various kinds of animals are closely associated, while in the older
legends they are practically identified,"[27] and he adds that the
stories point distinctly "to haunted spots being the places where evil
beasts walk by night."[28] He also shows that totems or friendly
demoniac beings rapidly develop into gods when men rise above pure
savagery,[29] and he cites the ancestral god of Baalbek, who was
worshipped under the form of a lion.[30]

If we see, then, that early man, terrified by the wild beasts, whether
lions or reptiles, ascribed to them superhuman powers, may not a similar
mode of thought have caused one race to invest with supernatural
attributes another race, strangers to them, and possibly of inferior
mental development? The big negro is often afraid to withhold his banana
from the pygmy, and the dwarfish Lapps and Finns have long been regarded
as powerful sorcerers by their more civilized neighbours. In like manner
the little woman, inhabiting her underground dwelling at the foot of the
sacred thorn-bush, might well be looked upon as an uncanny being, and in
after-ages popular imagination might transform her into the weird
banshee, the woman of the fairy mound, whose wailing cry betokens death
and disaster.


[15] Reprinted from the _Antiquary_, August, 1906.

[16] "Voyage to the Hebrides in 1772," p. 229. For a full
discussion of the subject, see Mr. MacRitchie's "Memories of the Picts,"
in the _Scottish Antiquary_ for 1900.

[17] See "Some Ulster Souterrains," _Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute_, vol. xxxix., January-June, 1909. The plan
was drawn by Miss Florence Hobson from the measurements made by Mrs.

[18] Rawl., 486, f.49, 2.

[19] "Silva Gadelica" (translation and notes), pp. 563, 564.

[20] "Uganda Protectorate," vol. ii., pp. 516, 517.

[21] "Land of the Pygmies," pp. 173, 174.

[22] "Uganda Protectorate," vol. ii. See pp. 527, 530; also
coloured frontispiece.

[23] "Uganda Protectorate," vol. ii., p. 532.

[24] _Ibid._, p. 532.

[25] _Ibid._, p. 513.

[26] "The Religion of the Semites," p. 115.

[27] _Ibid._, pp. 122, 123.

[28] _Ibid._, p. 123.

[29] _Ibid._, note _b_, p. 424.

[30] _Ibid._, p. 425.

Folklore connected with Ulster Raths and Souterrains[31]

As the title of this paper I have given "Folklore connected with
Ulster Raths and Souterrains," but if I used the language of the
country-people I should speak, not of raths and souterrains, but of
forths and coves. In these coves it is believed the fairies dwell, and
here they keep as prisoners women, children, even men. These
subterranean dwellings may not be known to mortals. I heard of a lad
being kept for several days in the fort of the Shimna, near Newcastle,
Co. Down, and I was told that the great rath at Downpatrick had been a
very gentle place, meaning one inhabited by fairies. In neither of these
forts is there, as far as is known, a souterrain, nor is there one in
the old fort at Antrim, a typical rath. In many cases we do find the
entrance to a souterrain is in a fort. I may mention Ballymagreehan
Fort, the stone fort near Altnadua Lough in Co. Down, and Crocknabroom,
near Ballycastle. Although not in Ulster, I may also refer to a fine
example of a rath with a souterrain in it, the Mote of Greenmount,
described by the Rev. J. B. Leslie in his "History of Kilsaran, Co.

  [Illustration: PLATE VIII. [_R. Welch, Photo._

Many souterrains have no fort above them. Take, for example, the one
near Scollogstown, Co. Down, with its numerous bridges, which it would
be decidedly unpleasant to face if little men were behind them shooting
arrows. Also Cloughnabrick Cave, near Ballycastle, which is not built
with stones, but hollowed out of the basaltic rock.

Fairies are not the only race connected with raths and souterrains. We
have two others, Danes and Pechts. It is generally believed that the
Danes built the forts; hence we find many of them called "Danes' forts."
I will describe one named from the townland in which it is situated,
Ballycairn Fort. It stands on a high bank overlooking the Bann, about a
mile north of Coleraine. The entire height is about twenty-six feet; at
perhaps twelve feet from the ground a flat platform is reached, and at
one end of this the upper part of the fort rises in a circular form for
about fourteen or fifteen feet. I was told the Danes who built it were
short, stout people, and as they had no wheelbarrows they carried the
earth in their leathern aprons. Here we seem to come in contact with a
very primitive people, probably wearing the skins of wild animals, and
who are said, like the fairies, to have sandy or red hair.

As far as is known no souterrain exists in Ballycairn Fort, although I
was shown a stone at the side which my guide said might be the entrance
to a "cove"; it appeared to me to be simply a piece of rock appearing
above the sod, or possibly a boulder. There is a tradition of fairies
living in this fort, as it is said that in "long ago" times the farmers
used to threaten their boys if they were not doing right, that the
fairies would come out of the fort and carry them away.

Many of the souterrains in this part of the world are now blocked up,
and of some the entrance is no longer known, although they have been
explored within living memory; others have been destroyed. There was a
souterrain a short distance from Ballycairn fort in a field opposite to
Cranogh National School. The master of this school told me that fifteen
or sixteen years ago these underground buildings existed, but now they
have been all quarried away. He also mentioned a tradition that there
was a subterranean passage under the Bann.

On the opposite bank of the river, near Portstewart, I heard of several
of these underground dwellings.

One was on the land of an old farmer eighty-four years of age. He told
me he had been in this cave, but no one could get in now. It had been
hollowed out by man, but the walls were not built of stones. There were
several rooms; you dropped from one to another through a narrow hole.
The rooms were large, but low in the roof; in one of them a quantity of
limpet-shells were found. He added that some said that the Danes had
built these caves, others that the clans made them as places of refuge.
He added that the Danes of those days had sandy hair and were short
people; not like the sturdy Danes of the present day. These are well
known to the seafaring population of Ulster, and we sometimes find the
old Danes spoken of as a tall, fair race; probably this is a true
description of the medieval sea-rovers. The short Danes I should be
inclined to identify with the Tuatha de Danann, and I believe that,
notwithstanding the magical portents which abound in the tales that have
come down to us, we have here a very early people who had made some
progress in the arts.

This double use of the name Dane seems at times to have perplexed the
older writers. The Rev. William Hamilton, in his "Letters on the
North-East Coast of Antrim," published towards the end of the eighteenth
century, gives a description of the coal-mines of Ballycastle[33] and of
the very ancient galleries, with the pillars, left by the prehistoric
miners, supporting the roof, which had been discovered some twelve years
before he wrote. He tells us that the people of the place ascribed them
to the Danes, but argues that these were never peaceable possessors of
Ireland, and that it is not "to the tumultuary and barbarous armies of
the ninth and tenth centuries ... we are to attribute the slow and
toilsome operations of peace." He mentions how the stalactite pillars
found in these galleries marked their antiquity, and ascribes them to
some period prior to the eighth century, "when Ireland enjoyed a
considerable share of civilization."

In the same way John Windele, writing in the _Ulster Journal of
Archæology_ for 1862, speaks of the mines in Waterford having been
worked by the ancient inhabitants, and adds: "One almost insulated
promontory is perforated like a rabbit-burrow, and is known as the
'Danes' Island,' the peasantry attributing these ancient mines, like all
other relics of remote civilisation, to the Danes."[34]

From my own experience I can corroborate this statement. An artificial
island in Lough Sessiagh, in Co. Donegal, was shown to me as the work of
the Danes. The forts on Horn Head and at Glenties are also ascribed to

The use of the souterrains was not confined to prehistoric times. The
one at Greenmount appears to have been inhabited by the medieval Danes,
as a Runic inscription, engraved on a plate of bronze, has been
discovered in it, the only one as yet found in Ireland. In 1317 every
man dwelling in an ooan, or caher's souterrain, was summoned to join the
army of Domched O'Brian.[35] The French traveller, Jorevin de Rocheford,
speaks of subterranean vaults where the peasants assembled to hear
Mass,[36] and in still more recent times the smuggler and the distiller
of illicit whisky found them convenient places of concealment.

In a former paper I referred to the lost secret of the heather beer, and
the tragic ending of the last of the Danes.[37] As the story was told me
near Ballycairn Fort, the father said: "Give my son the first lilt of
the rope, and I will reveal our secret"; but when the son was dead the
father cried: "Slay me also, for none shall ever know how the heather
beer was brewed!"

In a paper read to this club Mr. McKean[38] mentioned that this story
had been told to him in Kerry, where I, too, heard it. It appears to be
almost universal in Ulster. When visiting Navan Fort, the ancient
Emania, near Armagh, I was told that on this fort the Danes made heather
beer. I asked if any heather grew in the neighbourhood, but the answer
was, not now. There are variants of the tale. In some parts of Donegal
it is wine, not beer, that the Danes are said to have made. As a rule
the slaughter is taken for granted, and very little said about it; but a
farmer in Co. Antrim gave me a full account of the massacre, how at a
great feast a Roman Catholic sat beside each Dane, and at a given signal
plunged his dirk into his neighbour's side, until only one man and his
son remained alive; then followed the usual sequel.

These short Danes are said to have had large feet, and one man described
their arms as so long that they could pick anything off the ground
without stooping. Long arms are also a characteristic of the traditional
dwarf of Japan, probably an ancestor of the Aino.[39] As I mentioned in
a previous paper,[40] large feet are also a traditional characteristic
of the Pechts, who are generally said to have been clad in skins or in
grey clothes. They have occasionally superhuman attributes ascribed to
them. The same man who spoke of the long arms of the Danes said the
Pechts could creep through keyholes--they were like "speerits"--and he
evidently regarded both them and the fairies as evil spirits. At the
same time he said they would thresh corn or work for a man, but if they
were given food, they would be offended, and go away.

I think the close connection between Danes, Pechts, and fairies will be
apparent to all, although the fairy has more supernatural
characteristics, and in the banshee assumes a very weird form. Lady
Fanshawe has described the apparition she saw when staying, in 1649,
with the Lady Honora O'Brien, as a woman in white, with red hair and
ghastly complexion, who thrice cried "Ahone!" and vanished with a sigh
more like wind than breath. This was apparently the ghost of a murdered
woman, who was said to appear when any of the family died, and that
night a cousin of their hostess had passed away.[41] Similar stories, as
we all know, exist at the present day.

Except in the case of the banshee, fairies rarely partake of the nature
of ghosts, and I should note that in her description of the apparition
Lady Fanshawe does not use the word "banshee." In many respects the
fairies are akin to mortals--there are fairy men, fairy women, and fairy
children. Fairies often live under bushes, and I was told in Co. Armagh
that it would be a very serious matter to cut down a "lone" thorn-bush;
those growing in rows were evidently less sacred. Did the thorn-bush
hide the entrance to the subterranean dwelling?

The fairies are quick to revenge an injury or an encroachment on their
territory. A fire which occurred at Dunree on Lough Swilly was
attributed to the fairies, who were supposed to be angry because the
military had carried the works of their modern fort too near the fairy
rock. In some places the raths have been cultivated, but, as a rule,
this is looked upon as very unlucky, and sure to bring dire misfortune
on the man who attempts it. On the other hand, there appears to be no
objection to growing crops on the top of a souterrain. Many are, it is
true, afraid to enter these dark abodes, and others consider it unwise
to carry anything out of them. I have never heard them spoken of as
tombs, and the fairies are regarded, not as ghosts, but as fallen
angels, to whom no Church holds out a hope of salvation. Only in one
instance did a woman tell me that as fairies were good to the poor, she
thought there would be hope for them hereafter. The Irish fairy remains
a pagan; the ancient well of pre-Christian days may be consecrated to
the Christian saint, and patterns held beside it, but no pious pilgrim
prays on the rath or below the fairy rock.

We may now ask ourselves the meaning of these legends. The rath and
souterrain are undoubtedly the work of primitive man, yet here we have
the Sidh, inhabited by the fairy and the Tuatha de Danann. In the
"Colloquy of the Ancients"[42] we are told it was out of a Sidh, Finn's
chief musician, the dwarf Cnu deiriol came, and from another Sidh came
Blathnait, whom the small man espoused. It was fairy music which Cnu
taught to the musicians of the Fianna. It was out of a Sidh in the south
that Cas corach, son of the Olave of the Tuatha de Danann, came to the
King of Ulidia.[43]

In Derrick's "Image of Ireland," written in 1578, and published in
1581, the Olympian gods call upon certain little mountain gods, whom I
should be inclined to identify with the fairies, to come to their aid:

    "Let therefore little Mountain Gods
    A troupe (as thei maie spare)
    Of breechlesse men at all assaies,
    Both leauvie and prepare
    With mantelles down unto the shoe
    To lappe them in by night;
    With speares and swordes and little dartes
    To shield them from despight."[44]

May I, in conclusion, express my belief that in the traditions of
fairies, Danes, and Pechts the memory is preserved of an early race or
races of short stature, but of considerable strength, who built
underground dwellings, and had some skill in music and in other arts?
They appear to have been spread over a great part of Europe. It is
possible that, as larger races advanced, these small people were driven
southwards to the mountains of Switzerland, westward towards the
Atlantic, and northward to Lapland, where their descendants may still be
found. No doubt there is a large supernatural element, especially in the
stories of the fairies; but the same may be said of the tales of witches
in the seventeenth century. The witch was undoubtedly human, yet she was
believed, and sometimes believed herself, to possess superhuman powers,
and to be in communication with unearthly beings. We must also remember
the widespread belief in local spirits or gods, and a taller race of
invaders might well fear the magic of an earlier people long settled in
the country, even if the latter were inferior in bodily and mental


[31] Read before the Archæological Section of the Belfast
Naturalists' Field Club, February 12, 1908.

[32] Pp. 12-20. Several sections of this rath are given; also a
view showing Greenmount in 1748, and a plan of the same date--both from
Wright's "Louthiana," published in that year.

[33] Part I., Letter IV., Edition 1822.

[34] _Ulster Journal of Archæology_, 1861-62, p. 212.

[35] See "Prehistoric Stone Forts of Northern Clare," by Thomas
J. Westropp, M.A., M.R.I.A. (_Journal of the Royal Society of
Antiquaries of Ireland_, vol. vi., fifth series, 1896).

[36] See "Illustrations of Irish History," by C. Litton
Falkiner, p. 416. He considers it probable that Jorevin de Rochefort was
Albert Jouvin de Rochefort, Trésorier de France.

[37] See Ulster Fairies, Danes and Pechts, p. 28.

[38] See Annual Report of Belfast Naturalists' Field Club,
1907-08, "A Holiday Trip to West Kerry," p. 73.

[39] See Mr. David MacRitchie's "Northern Trolls," read at the
Folklore Congress, Chicago, 1893, p. 12.

[40] See Ulster Fairies, Danes and Pechts, p. 27.

[41] See "Memoirs of Anne, Lady Fanshawe," edited by Herbert C.
Fanshawe, pp. 57-59.

[42] Translated by Mr. S. H. O'Grady in "Silva Gadelica,"
volume with translation and notes. (For Cnu and Blathnait, see pp.

[43] _Ibid._, pp. 187, 188.

[44] P. 38, Edinburgh, 1883; edited by John Small, M.A.,

Traditions of Dwarf Races in Ireland and in Switzerland[45]

In the traditions alike of Switzerland and of Ireland we hear of a
dwarfish people, dwellers in mountain caves or in artificial
souterrains, who are gifted with magical powers. The quaint figure of
the Swiss dwarf with his peaked cap has been made familiar to us by the
carvings of the peasantry, and in Antrim and Donegal the Irish fairy is
said to wear a peaked cap of plaited rushes. With rushes he also makes a
covering for his feet.[46]

Closely allied to the fairy is the Grogach, with his large head and
soft body, who appears to have no bones as he comes tumbling down the
hills. These Grogachs I heard of in North-East Antrim, and in them, as
in the fairies, the supernatural characteristics preponderate. I was
told that both were full of magic, and had come from Egypt.

We have, however, two other small races who are usually regarded by the
peasantry as strictly human, the Pechts and the Danes.[47] Two
traditions regarding Danes exist: sometimes we hear of tall Danes,
doubtless the medieval sea-rovers; sometimes of small Danes, the
builders of many of the raths and souterrains.

While the Danes are the great builders throughout Ireland, some of
the raths and souterrains, especially those in North-East Antrim, are
said to have been made by the Pechts. Last summer I visited one of
these, the cave of Finn McCoul. It is a souterrain situated in
Glenshesk, about three miles from Ballycastle. The ground above it is
perfectly flat, no fort or any inequality to mark the spot; indeed, the
farmer who kindly opened it for me had at first a difficulty in knowing
in what part of the field to dig, as the entrance had been covered. On
my second visit, however, I found he had discovered the spot. Entering a
narrow passage, I crept through an opening from one and a half to two
feet high, and found myself in a narrow chamber eight or nine feet long
and little over four feet in height. The roof was formed of large flat
slabs, which I was told were whinstone (basalt). At the opposite end of
this chamber there was another narrow opening, leading, I presume, to a
passage. I did not, however, venture farther; but I understand this
artificial cave extends for about twenty perches underground, and has
several chambers.

  [Illustration: PLATE IX. [_R. Welch, Photo._

I was told that this cave was the hiding-place of Finn McCoul. His
garden was pointed out to me on rising ground at some little distance,
and I was also informed that about fifty years ago his castle stood on
the hill; but nothing now remains of it, the stones having been used
when roads were made.

The following story was related to me on the spot: A Scotch giant came
over to fight Finn McCoul, but was conquered and slain. To celebrate
this victory Finn invited the Grey Man of the Path to a feast; but as
hares and rabbits would have been too small to furnish a repast for this
giant, Finn took his dog and went out to hunt red deer. They were
unsuccessful, and in anger he slew his dog Brown,[48] which afterwards
caused him much sorrow.

In the Grey Man of the Path we have, doubtless, a purely mythical
character, an impersonation of the mists which gather round Benmore,[49]
while Finn McCoul, or MacCumaill, is one of Ireland's greatest
traditional heroes. According to a well-known legend, he was a giant,
and united Scotland and Ireland by a stupendous mole, of which the cave
at Staffa and the Giant's Causeway are the two remaining fragments. In
Glenshesk he is only a tall man, between seven and eight feet in height.
Sometimes he is said to have been chief of the Pechts; sometimes he is
spoken of as their master, and it is said they worked as slaves to him
and the Fians.

According to tradition, the Pechts were very numerous, and must have
carried the heavy slabs for the roof of Finn McCoul's cave a distance of
several miles. Although usually looked on as strictly human,
supernatural characteristics are sometimes attributed to them. Like the
Swiss "Servan," both they and the Grogachs have been known to thresh
corn or do other work for the farmers.

I was told at Ballycastle of one man who always laid out at night the
bundles of corn he expected the Grogach to thresh, and each morning the
appointed task was accomplished. One night he forgot to lay the corn on
the floor of the barn, and threw his flail on the top of the stack. The
poor Grogach imagined that he was to thresh the whole, and set to work
manfully; but the task was beyond his strength, and in the morning he
was found dead. The farmer and his wife buried him, and mourned deeply
the loss of their small friend.

Clough-na-murry Fort is said to be a "gentle"[50] place, yet an old man
living near it told me he did not believe in the Grogachs; he thought it
was the Danes who had worked for the farmers. He said these Danes were a
persevering people, and that when they were in distress they would
thresh corn for the farmers, if food were left out for them. Others say
that the Danes were too proud to work.

One does not hear much of Brownies in Ulster; but I have been told they
were hairy people who did not require clothes, but would thresh or cut
down a field of corn for a farmer. On one occasion, out of gratitude for
the work done, some porridge was left for them on plates round the fire.
They ate it, but went away crying sadly:

    "I got my mate an' my wages,
    An' they want nae mair o' me."

Although, according to some, the Grogachs gladly accept food, others say
that they and the Pechts are offended if it is offered to them, and
leave to return no more.

I have not often heard of clothes being offered to the Pechts or
Grogachs, but the Rev. John G. Campbell relates a story of a Brownie in
Shetland who ground grain in a hand-quern at night. He was rewarded for
his labours by a cloak and hood left for him at the mill. These
disappeared in the morning, and with them the Brownie, who never came

A similar tale is told of a Swiss dwarf. At Ems, in Canton Valais, a
miller engaged the services of a "Gottwerg," and the little man worked
early and late, sometimes rising in the night to see that all was in
order. The mill produced twice as much as formerly, and at the end of
the year the dwarf was rewarded by a garment made of the best wool. He
put it on, jumped for joy, and crying out, "Now I am a handsome man, I
have no more need to grind rye," he disappeared, and was not seen

In these tales from Ireland, Scotland, and Switzerland, may there not be
a reminiscence of a conquered race of small stature, but considerable
strength, who worked either as slaves or for some small gift? No doubt
they were badly fed, and their clothing would be of the scantiest.

Like the Danes and the Pechts, the fairies live underground. There is a
widespread story of a fairy woman who begs a cottager not to throw water
out at the doorstep, as it falls down her chimney. The request is
invariably granted.

Some of these "wee folk" dwell in palaces under the sea. I heard a
story at Ballyliffan, in Co. Donegal, of men being out in a boat which
was nearly capsized by a heavy sea raised by a fairy. At last one sailor
cried out to throw a nail against the advancing wave; this was done, and
the nail hit the fairy. That night a woman, skilled in healing, received
a message calling upon her to go to the courts below the sea. She
consented, extracted the nail, and cured the fairy woman, but was
careful not to eat any food offered to her. This fairy is said to have
promised a man a pot of gold if he would marry her, but he refused.

An old man at Culdaff told me another tale of the sea. A fishing-boat
was nearly overwhelmed, when a fairy-boat was seen riding on the top of
a great wave, and a voice from it cried: "Do not harm that boat; an old
friend of mine is in it." The voice belonged to a man who was supposed
to be dead; but he had been carried off by the fairies, and would not
allow them to injure his old friend.

If the Irish fairy has power over the waves, the Swiss dwarf can divert
the course of the devastating landslip. I was told by an elderly man in
the Bernese Oberland of the destruction of Burglauenen, a village near
Grindelwald. All the cottages were overwhelmed by a landslip except one
poor hut, which had given shelter to a dwarf, who was seen, seated on a
stone, directing the moving mass away from the abode of his friends. A
similar story is told of the destruction of Niederdorf, in the
Simmenthal.[53] One Sunday evening a feeble little man clad in rags came
to the village; he knocked at several houses, praying the inmates to
give him, for the love of God, a night's shelter. Everywhere he was
refused--one hard-hearted woman telling him to go and break
stones--until he came to a poor basket-maker and his wife, who gave him
the best they had, and when he left he promised that God would reward
them. A week later the village was destroyed by a terrible landslip, but
here also the dwarf saved the dwelling of those who had befriended him.

In this story and in many others the Swiss dwarf appears as a good
Christian, but sometimes a rude and terrible form of paganism is
attributed to him. In the tale of the "Gotwergini im Lötschental"[54]
these dwarfs are accused of devouring children, and are said to have
buried an old woman alive. She was apparently one of themselves. When
they were laying her in the pit she wept bitterly, and begged that she
might go free, saying she could still cook. But the dwarfs showed no
pity: placing some bread and wine beside her, they covered in the grave.
Is this an instance of the primitive barbarism of killing those no
longer able to work, which is said still to exist among the Todas of
India, and of which traces have been found in the customs of Scandinavia
and other countries?[55]

The Irish fairy never appears as a Christian.[56] He is regarded by the
peasant as a fallen angel, and no Church holds out to him the hope of
salvation. I was told in Inishowen that a priest walking between
Clonmany and Ballyliffan was surrounded by the "wee folk," who asked
anxiously if they could be saved. He threw his book towards them, bade
them catch it, and he would give them an answer; but at the sight of the
breviary they scattered and fled.[57]

The Protestant Bible and hymn-book are equally dreaded by them, and are
used as a spell against their influence. I was told in the North of
Antrim of a woman who was nearly carried off by the fairies because her
friends had omitted to leave these books beside her. Luckily her
husband, who was sleeping by the fire, awoke in time to save her. A pair
of scissors, a darning-needle, or any piece of iron, would have been
efficacious as a charm, so would the husband's trousers, if thrown
across the bed.

While, as we have seen, the fairies are endowed with many supernatural
qualities, they have much in common with ordinary mortals; there are
fairy men, fairy women, and fairy children. I have more than once heard
of a fairy's funeral; they intermarry with mortals, and I have been told
that those who bear the name of Ferris are descended from fairies. I
presume Ferris is a corruption of Fir Sidhe. Fairies are never
associated with churchyards, nor are they usually looked on as the
spirits of the departed. The banshee may, indeed, partake to some extent
of a ghostly character. Lady Wilde speaks of her as the "spirit of
death--the most weird and awful of all the fairy powers," and adds, "but
only certain families of historic lineage or persons gifted with music
and song are attended by this spirit."[58]

It has often been stated that the banshee is an appanage of the great,
but this is not the belief of the peasantry of Ulster: many families in
humble life have a banshee attached to them. When in a curragh on Lough
Sessiagh, in Co. Donegal, the neighbouring hill of Ben Olla was pointed
out to me, and I was also shown a small cottage in which a girl named
Olla had lived. She was carried off by the fairies, and her wailing was
heard before the death of her mother, and again before the death of
several members of her family. A farmer, or even a labourer, may have a
banshee attached to his family--a little white creature was the
description given to me by a woman who said she had seen one; others say
that banshees are like birds.

To leave these weird apparitions, it will be seen that the ordinary
fairy, the Grogach, the Pecht, and the Dane, all inhabit underground
dwellings, although the fairy and Grogach are regarded more in the light
of supernatural beings. To cut down a fairy or a "Skiough" bush is to
court misfortune, sometimes to attempt an impossible task. In Glenshesk
some men tried to cut down a Skiough bush, but the hatchet broke; after
several failures they gave up, and the bush still flourishes. Another
bush was transplanted, but returned during the night.

To the Danes and Pechts the building of all the raths and souterrains
is ascribed, and in North-East Antrim the Pechts are said to have been
so numerous that, when making a fort, they could stand in a long line,
and hand the earth from one to another, no one moving a step. A
similar story is told of the Scotch Pechts by the Rev. Andrew Small
in his "Antiquities of Fife" (1823).[59] Speaking of the Round Tower
of Abernethy, "The story goes," he says, "that it was built by the
Pechts ... and that while the work was going on they stood in a row
all the way from the Lomond Hill to the building, handing the stones
from one to another.... That it has been built of freestone from the
Lomond Hill is clear to a demonstration, as the grist or nature of
the stone points out the very spot where it has been taken from--namely,
a little west, and up from the ancient wood of Drumdriell, about a mile
straight south from Meralsford." According to popular tradition in
Scotland, these Pechts or Picts were great builders, and many of the
edifices ascribed to them belong to a comparatively late period. Mr.
MacRitchie suggests that in the erection of some of these the Picts
may have been employed as serfs or slaves.[60] He believes the Pechts
to be the Picts of history. Mr. W. C. Mackenzie, on the other hand,
has suggested that they are an earlier dwarf race, the Pets or Peti,
who have been confused by the peasantry with the Picts.[61] This is
a matter I must leave to others to decide; but I may remark in passing
that in an ancient poem on the Cruithnians, preserved in the book of
Lecan, we have a suggestion that these Cruithnians or Picts were a
smaller race than their enemies, the Tuath Fidga. We are told how

      "God vouchsafed unto them, in munificence,
    For their faithfulness--for their reward--
    To protect them from the poisoned arms
    Of the repulsive horrid giants."[62]

Then follows an account of the cure discovered by the Cruithnian
Druid--how he milked thrice fifty cows into one pit, and bathing in this
pit appears to have healed the warriors and preserved them from harm.

In an article on "The Fairy Mythology of Europe in its Relation to Early
History,"[63] Mr. A. S. Herbert identifies the early dwarf race with
Palæolithic man, and states that from such skeletons as have been
unearthed "it is believed that they were a people of Mongolian or
Turanian origin, short, squat, yellow-skinned, and swarthy."

Professor J. Kollmann, of Basle, speaking of dwarf races, describes "the
flat, broad face, with a flat, broad, low nose and large nose

Compare these statements with the description given by Harris in the
eighteenth century of the native inhabitants of the northern and eastern
coasts of Ireland. "They are," he says, "of a squat sett Stature, have
short, broad Faces, thick Lips, hollow Eyes, and Noses cocked up, and
seem to be a distinct people from the Western Irish, by whom they are
called Clan-galls--_i.e._, the offspring of the Galls. The curious may
carry these observations further. Doubtless a long intercourse and
various mixtures of the natives have much worn out these distinctions,
of which I think there are yet visible remains."[65]

We have, indeed, had in Ireland from very early times a mingling of
various races, but in the North we are in the home of the Irish Picts or
Cruithnians, and possibly this description of Harris may indicate that
some of the inhabitants in his day bore marks of a dwarfish ancestry. I
have already drawn attention to a statement in an old Irish
manuscript[66] that the Luchorpan or wee-bodies, the Fomores and others,
were of the race of Ham. Keating also speaks of the Fomorians being
sea-rovers of the race of Cam (Ham), who fared from Africa,[67] and
states that among the articles of tribute exacted by them from the race
of Neimhidh were two-thirds of the children. Unless these were all
slaughtered, we have here an intermingling of races, and in the same way
it would be quite possible that Finn McCoul might be a tall man, and yet
the leader of the small Pechts. The capture of women and children has
been a common practice among savage races, and this I believe to be the
origin of many fairy-tales, rather than any reference to the abode of
the dead. Throughout the "Colloquy of the Ancients," Finn and the Fianna
frequently enter the green sidh--the mound where the Tuatha de Danann
dwell, and from which the fairies derive their name "fir-sidh."
Sometimes they fight as allies of the inmates; frequently they
intermarry with them.[68] Throughout this colloquy the dwellers in the
sidh possess many magical powers, but they hardly appear as gods of the
ancient Irish, and the verse in Fiacc's hymn referring to the worship of
the Sidis is not among the stanzas regarded as genuine by Professor

We see that both in Ireland and Switzerland there are many legends of
dwarf races who inhabit underground dwellings. In Switzerland their
skeletons have been found. Those discovered by Dr. Nuesch at
Schweizersbild, near Schaffhausen, have been minutely described by Dr.
J. Kollmann, Professor of Anatomy at Basle.[70] This burial-place dates
from the early Neolithic period; in it are found skeletons belonging to
men of ordinary height, and in close proximity the graves of dwarfs.

The neighbourhood of Schaffhausen appears to be rich in the remains of
early man; several skeletons have been found in the cave of Dachsenbüel,
two of them of small men, "such as in Africa would be accounted
pygmies."[71] Professor Kollmann mentions several other places in
Switzerland where skeletons of dwarfs have been found, as also in the
Grotte des Enfants on the Bay of Genoa. He also speaks of dwarf races
existing at the present day in Sicily, Sardinia, Sumatra, the Philippine
Islands, besides the well-known Veddas of Ceylon, the Andaman Islanders,
and the African pygmies. He believes that these small people represent
the oldest form of human beings, and that from them the taller races
have been evolved.

How long did these primitive people continue to exist in Ireland and
in Switzerland? It would be difficult to say. Tradition ascribes to them
a strong physique, but even if they could hold their own with the taller
races in the Neolithic period, it must have been hard for them to
contend with those who used weapons of bronze or iron, and, as we have
seen, iron is specially obnoxious to the fairies. The people, however,
who built the large number of souterrains dotted over Antrim and Down
could not be easily exterminated. Many of them may have been enslaved or
gradually absorbed in the rest of the population; others would take
refuge in retired spots, such as are still spoken of as "gentle" or
haunted by fairies. If I might hazard a conjecture, I should say that
both in Ireland and in Switzerland dwarf races had survived far into
Christian times, perhaps to a comparatively recent period. The Irish
fairy may possibly represent those who refused to accept the teaching of
St. Patrick and St. Columbkill, while St. Gall and other Irish monks may
have numbered Swiss dwarfs among their converts. Be this as it may, we
have certainly in Ulster the tradition of two dwarf races, the small
Danes and the Pechts, who are undoubtedly human. We are shown their
handiwork, and, primitive as are their underground dwellings, the
builders of the souterrains had advanced far beyond the stage when man
could only find shelter in the caves provided for him by Nature. How
many centuries did he take to learn the lesson? It is a far-reaching
question, but here fairy-tales and popular legends are silent. They keep
no count of time, although they may bring to us whispers from long-past


[45] Reprinted from the _Antiquary_, October, 1909.

[46] May it not be that Cinderella's glass shoe was really
green and derived its name from the Irish word _glas_, denoting that
colour, which is familiar to us in place-names? I make this conjecture
with diffidence. I know the usual explanation is that the shoe was made
of a kind of fur called in Old French vair, and that a transcriber
changed this word into _verre_. Miss Cox, in her "Cinderella," mentions
that she had only found six instances of a glass shoe. As Littré says in
the article on _vair_ in his Dictionary, a _soulier de verre_ is absurd.
A fur slipper, however, does not appear very suitable for a ball.

[47] See Ulster Fairies, Danes and Pechts, p. 27 _et seq._

[48] This is, no doubt, a corruption of Bran.

[49] The Grey Man's Path is a fissure on the face of Benmore or
Fair Head, by which a good climber can ascend the cliff. It has been
suggested that this Grey Man is one of the old gods, possibly Manannan,
the Irish sea-god. In the _Ulster Journal of Archæology_ for 1858, vol.
vi., p. 358, there is an account given of the Grey Man appearing near
the mouth of the Bush River to two youths, who believed they would have
seen his cloven foot had he not been standing in the water. They had at
first mistaken the apparition for an ordinary man.

[50] A place inhabited by fairies, or "gentlefolk."

[51] "Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland,"
p. 188.

[52] Dr. J. Jegerlehner, "Was die Sennen erzählen, Märchen und
Sagen aus dem Wallis," pp. 102, 103.

[53] See "Der Untergang des Niederdorfs" in "Sagen und
Sagengeschichten aus dem Simmenthal," vol. ii., pp. 29-44, by D.

[54] See "Am Herdfeuer der Sennen, Neue Märchen und Sagen aus
dem Wallis," pp. 26-31, by Dr. J. Jegerlehner.

[55] See "Folklore as an Historical Science," by Sir G.
Laurence Gomme, pp. 67-78.

[56] I have heard of only one exception.

[57] Patrick Kennedy, in "A Belated Priest," tells how the
"good people" surrounded a priest on a dark night, and asked him to
declare that at the Last Day their lot would not be with Satan. He
replied by the question, "Do you adore and love the Son of God?" There
came no answer but weak and shrill cries, and with a rushing of wings
the fairies disappeared (see "Fictions of the Irish Celts," p. 89).

In "The Priest's Supper," the good people are anxious to know if their
souls will be saved at the Last Day, but when an interview with a priest
is suggested to them they fly away (see "Fairy Legends and Traditions of
the South of Ireland," by T. Crofton Croker, pp. 36-42).

[58] "Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of
Ireland," vol. i., p. 250.

[59] It is quoted by Mr. David MacRitchie in "Testimony of
Tradition," p. 67.

[60] "Testimony of Tradition," p. 68.

[61] See "The Picts and Pets" in the _Antiquary_ for May, 1906,
p. 172.

[62] "The Irish Version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius,"
edited, with a translation and notes, by James H. Todd, D.D., F.T.C.
(Dublin, 1848). The verse quoted is given at p. lxix, additional notes.

[63] See the _Nineteenth Century_, February, 1908.

[64] See "Ein dolichokephaler Schädel aus dem Dachsenbüel und
die Bedeutung der kleinen Menschenrassen für das Abstammungsproblem der
Grossen." His words are: "In dem platten, breiten Gesicht sitzt dann
eine platte, breite, niedrige Nase, mit breiter Nasenwürzel." He is
speaking of the characteristics of the present dwarf races found
throughout the world, and quotes the authority of Hagen.

[65] Sir James Ware's "Antiquities of Ireland," translated,
revised, and improved, with many material additions, by Walter Harris,
Esq., vol. ii., chap. ii., p. 17 (Dublin, 1764). The above is taken from
one of the additional notes by Harris.

[66] Quoted by Mr. Standish H. O'Grady in "Silva Gadelica"
(translation and notes), pp. 563, 564. See Ante p. 32.

[67] Keating's "History of Ireland," book i., chap. viii.
Translation by P. W. Joyce, LL.D., M.R.I.A.

[68] See Cael's "Wooing of Credhe" in "The Colloquy of the
Ancients"; "Silva Gadelica," by Standish H. O'Grady, volume with
translation and notes, pp. 119-122.

[69] See "Life of St. Patrick," p. 264.

[70] See Der Mensch, "Separat-Abzug aus den Denkschriften der
Schweiz Naturforschenden Gesellschaft," Band xxxv, 1896.

[71] See the paper already referred to, "Ein dolichokephaler
Schädel," etc. Professor J. Kollmann's words are: "Die man in Africa
wohl zu den Pygmäen zählen wurde."

Folklore from Donegal[72]

The stories current among the peasantry are varied, especially in
Donegal, where we hear of giants and fairies, of small and tall Finns,
of short, stout Firbolgs or Firwolgs, of Danes who made heather ale, and
sometimes of Pechts with their large feet.

According to one legend, the fairies were angels who had remained
neutral during the great war in heaven. They are sometimes represented
as kindly, but often as mischievous. Near Dungiven, in Co. Derry, I was
told of a friendly fairy who, dressed as an old woman, came one evening
to a cottage where a poor man and his wife lived. She said to the wife
that if the stone at the foot of the table were lifted she would find
something that would last her all her days. As soon as the visitor was
gone, the wife called to her husband to bring a crowbar; they raised the
stone, and under it was a crock of gold.

The old man who related this story to me had himself found in a bog a
crock covered with a slate. He hoped it might be full of gold, but it
only contained bog butter, which he used for greasing cart-wheels.

A carman at Rosapenna told me how the fairies would lead people astray,
carrying one man off to Scotland. A girl had her face twisted through
their influence, and had to go to the priest to be cured. "He was," the
man added, "one of the old sort, who could work miracles, of whom there
are not many nowadays." Near Finntown a girl had offended the fairies by
washing clothes in a "gentle" burn, or stream haunted by the little
people. Her eyes were turned to the back of her head. She, too, invoked
the aid of a priest, and his blessing restored them to their proper

Donegal fairies appear able to adapt themselves to modern conditions. I
was told at Finntown they did not interfere with the railway, as they
sometimes enjoyed a ride on the top of the train. Although usually only
seen in secluded spots, they occasionally visit a fair or market, but
are much annoyed if recognized.

In the following story we have an illustration of intercourse between
fairies and human beings: An old woman at Glenties was called upon by a
strange man to give her aid at the birth of a child. At first she
refused, but he urged her, saying it was not far, and in the end she
consented. When he brought her to his dwelling she saw a daughter whom
she had supposed to be dead, but who was now the wife of the fairy man.
The daughter begged her not to let it be known she was her mother, and,
giving her a ring, bade her look on it at times and she would know when
they could meet. She also added that her husband would certainly offer a
reward, but she implored her mother not to accept it, but to ask that
the red-haired boy might be given to her. "He will not be willing to
part from him," the daughter added; "but if you beg earnestly, he will
give him to you in the end." The mother attended her daughter, and when
his child was born the fairy man offered her a rich reward, but she
refused, praying only that the red-haired boy might be given to her. At
first the father refused, but when she pleaded her loneliness, he
granted her request. The daughter was well pleased, told her mother they
might meet at the fair on the hill behind Glenties, but warned her that
even if she saw the fairy man she must never speak to him. The old woman
returned to her home, taking her grandson, the red-haired boy, with her.
She kept the ring carefully, and it gave her warning when she would meet
her daughter on the hill at Glenties. These interviews were for a long
time a great comfort to mother and daughter, but one day, in the joy of
her heart, the mother shook hands with and spoke to the fairy man. He
turned to her angrily asking how she could see him, and with that he
blew upon her eyes, so that she could no longer discern fairies. The
precious ring also disappeared, and she never again saw her daughter.

Variants of this story were told to me by an old woman at
Portstewart, and by a man whom I met near Lough Salt during the
Rosapenna Conference of Field Clubs. In these versions there is no
mention of the red-haired boy, nor of the old woman being the mother of
the fairy man's wife; she is simply called in to attend to her. When
rubbing ointment on the infant, she accidentally draws her hand across
one of her eyes and acquires the power of seeing the fairies. Shortly
afterwards she meets the fairy man at a market or fair, and inquires for
his wife. He is annoyed at being recognized, asks with which eye she
sees him, blows upon it, and puts it out.[73]

In another Donegal legend the fairies gain possession of a bride, and
would have kept her in captivity had not their plans been frustrated by
a mortal. This is the story as told to me near Gweedore, and also at
Kincasslagh, a small seaport in the Rosses. Owen Boyle lived with his
mother near Kincasslagh, and worked as a carpenter. One Hallow Eve, on
his return home, he found a calf was missing, and went out to look for
it. He was told it was behind a stone near the spink or rock of
Dunathaid, and when he got there he saw the calf, but it ran away and
disappeared through an opening in the rock. Owen was at first afraid to
follow, but suddenly he was pushed in, and the door closed behind him.
He found himself in a company of fairies, and heard them saying: "This
is good whisky from O'Donnel's still. He buried a nine-gallon keg in the
bog; it burst, the hoops came off, and the whisky has come to us." One
of the fairies gave Owen a glass, saying he might be useful to them that
night. They asked if he would be willing to go with them, and, being
anxious to get out of the cave, he at once consented. They all mounted
on horses, and away they went through Dungloe, across the hills to
Dochary, then to Glenties, and through Mount Charles to Ballyshannon,
and thence to Connaught. They came to a house where great preparations
were being made for a wedding. The fairies told Owen to go in and dance
with any girl who asked him. He was much pleased to see that he was now
wearing a good suit of clothes, and gladly joined in the dance. After a
time there was a cry that the bride would choose a partner, and the
partner she chose was Owen Boyle. They danced until the bride fell down
in a faint, and the fairies, who had crept in unseen, bore her away.
They mounted their horses and took the bride with them, sometimes one
carrying her and sometimes another. They had ridden thus for a time when
one of the fairies said to Owen: "You have done well for us to-night."
"And little I have got for it," was the reply; "not even a turn of
carrying the bride." "That you ought to have," said the fairy, and
called out to give the bride to Owen. Owen took her, and, urging his
horse, outstripped the fairies. They pursued him, but at Bal Cruit
Strand he drew with a black knife a circle round himself and the bride,
which the fairies could not cross. One of them, however, stretched out a
long arm and struck the bride on the face, so that she became deaf and
dumb. When the fairies left him, Owen brought the girl to his mother,
and in reply to her questions, said he had brought home one to whom all
kindness should be shown. They gave her the best seat by the fire; she
helped in the housework, but remained speechless.

A year passed, and on Hallow Eve Owen went again to Dunathaid. The door
of the cave was open. He entered boldly, and found the fairies enjoying
themselves as before. One of them recognized him, and said: "Owen Boyle,
you played us a bad trick when you carried off that woman." "And a
pretty woman you left with me! She can neither hear nor speak!" "Oh!"
said another, "if she had a taste of this bottle, she could do both!"
When Owen heard these words he seized the bottle, ran home with it, and,
pouring a little into a glass, gave it to the poor girl to drink.
Hearing and speech were at once restored. Owen returned the bottle to
the fairies, and, before long, he set out for Connaught, taking the girl
with him to restore her to her parents. When he arrived, he asked for a
night's lodging for himself and his companion. The mother, although she
said she had little room, admitted them, and soon Owen saw her looking
at the girl. "Why are you gazing at my companion?" he asked. "She is so
like a daughter of mine who died a twelvemonth ago." "No," replied Owen;
"she did not die; she was carried off by the fairies, and here she is."
There was great rejoicing, and before long Owen was married to the girl,
the former bridegroom having gone away. He brought her home to
Kincasslagh, and not a mile from the village, close to Bal Cruit Strand,
may be seen the ring which defended her and Owen from the fairies. It is
a very large fairy ring, but why the grass should grow luxuriantly on it
tradition does not say.

During the Field Club Conference at Rosapenna a variant of this story
was told me by a lad on the heights above Gortnalughoge Bay. Here the
man who rode with the fairies was John Friel, from Fanad. They went to
Dublin and brought away a young girl from her bed, leaving something
behind, which the parents believed to be their dead daughter. Meanwhile
the young girl was taken northwards by the fairies. As they drew near to
Fanad, John Friel begged to be allowed to carry her, and quickly taking
her to his own cottage, kept her there with his mother. The girl was
deaf and dumb, but there was no mention of the magic circle or of the
blow from the fairy's hand. At the end of the year John Friel, like Owen
Boyle, pays another visit to the fairies, overhears their conversation,
snatches the bottle, and a few drops from it restore speech and hearing
to the girl. He takes her to Dublin. Her parents cannot at first believe
that she is truly their daughter, but the mother recognizes her by a
mark on the shoulder, and the tale ends with great rejoicing.[74]

In these stories we see the relations between fairies and mortals. The
fairy man marries a human wife; he appears solicitous for her health,
and is willing to pay a high reward to the nurse, but the caution his
wife gives to her mother shows her fear of him, and when the latter
forgets this warning and speaks to the husband, he effectively stops all
intercourse between her and her daughter.

In another story we see that it was the living girl who was carried off,
and only a false image left to deceive her parents.[75] It is true that,
through the magic of the fairies, she becomes deaf and dumb, but when
this is overcome, she returns home safe and sound. The black knife used
by Owen Boyle was doubtless an iron knife, that metal being always
obnoxious to the fairies.

Stories of children being carried off by fairies are numerous. There was
a man lived near Croghan Fort, not far from Lifford, who was short, and
had a cataract--or, as the country-people call it, a pearl--on his eye.
He was returning home after the birth of his child, when he met the
fairies carrying off the infant. They were about to change a benwood
into the likeness of a child, saying:

    "Make it wee, make it short;
    Make it like its ain folk;
    Put a pearl in its eye;
    Make it like its Dadie."

Here the man interrupted them, throwing up sand, and exclaiming: "In
the name of God, this to youse and mine to me!" They flung his own child
at him, but it broke its hinch, or thigh, and was a cripple all its

  [Illustration: PLATE X. [_R. Welch, Photo._

It is not often that fairies are associated with the spirits of the
departed, but in Tory Island and in some other parts of Donegal it is
believed that those who are drowned become fairies. In Tory Island I
also heard that those who exceeded in whisky met the same fate.

According to the inhabitants of this island, fairies can make themselves
large or small; their hair may be red, white, or black; but they dress
in black--a very unusual colour for fairies to appear in. It may perhaps
be explained by remembering that Tory Island, or Toirinis, was a
stronghold of the Fomorians, whom Keating describes as "sea rovers of
the race of Cam, who fared from Africa."[76] I need hardly add that
"Cam" is an old name for "Ham." I should infer that the fairies of Tory
Island represent a dark race.

King Balor, it is true, is not of diminutive stature. I heard much of
this chieftain with the eye at the back of his head, which, if
uncovered, would kill anyone exposed to its gaze. He knew it had been
said in old times that he should die by the hand of his daughter's son,
and he determined his daughter should remain childless. He shut her up
in Tormore, with twelve ladies to wait on her. Balor had no smith on the
island, but at Cloghanealy, on the mainland, there lived a smith who had
the finest cow in the world, named Glasgavlen. He kept a boy to watch
it, but, notwithstanding this precaution, two of Balor's servants
carried off the cow. When the herd-boy saw it was gone, he wept
bitterly, for the smith had told him his head would be taken off if he
did not bring her back. Suddenly a fairy, Geea Dubh, came out of the
rock, and told the boy the cow was in Tory, and if he followed her
advice he would get it back. She made a curragh for him, and he crossed
over to Tory, but he did not get the cow. The tale now becomes confused.
We hear of twelve children, and how Balor ordered them all to be
drowned, but his daughter's son was saved. The fairy told the herd-boy
that, if the child were taken care of, it would grow up like a crop
which, when put into the earth one day, sprouts up the next.

The boy took service under Balor, and the child was sent to the ladies,
who brought him up for three years. At the end of that time the herd boy
took him to the mainland, where he grew up a strong youth, and worked
for the smith. On one occasion Balor sent messengers across to the
mainland, but the lad attacked them and cut out their tongues. The
maimed messengers returned to Tory, and when Balor saw them he knew that
he who had done this deed was the dreaded grandson. He set out to kill
him; but when the youth saw Balor approaching the forge, he drew the
poker from the fire and thrust it into the eye at the back of the King's

The wounded Balor called to his grandson to come to him, and he would
leave him everything. The youth was wise; he did not go too near Balor,
but followed him from Falcarragh to Gweedore. "Are you near me?" was the
question put by the King as he walked along, water streaming from his
wounded eye; and this water formed the biggest lough in the world, three
times as deep as Lough Foyle.

I have given this story as it was told to me by an elderly man in a
cottage on Tory Island.

A version of it is related by the late Most Rev. Dr. MacDevitt in the
"Donegal Highlands." It is referred to by Mr. Stephen Gwynn, M.P., in
"Highways and Byways in Donegal and Antrim," and a very full narrative
is given by Dr. O'Donovan in a note in his edition of the "Annals of the
Four Masters."[77] Dr. O'Donovan states that he had the story from Shane
O'Dugan, whose ancestor is said to have been living in Tory in the time
of St. Columbkille. Here we read of the stratagem by which Balor,
assuming the shape of a red-haired little boy, carried off the famous
cow Glasgavlen from the chieftain MacKineely, and it is not the herdboy,
but the chieftain himself, who is wafted across to Tory Island and
introduced to Balor's daughter. Three sons are born; Balor orders them
all to be drowned, but the eldest is saved by the friendly banshee and
taken to his father, who places him in fosterage under his brother, the
great smith Gavida. After a time MacKineely falls a victim to the
vengeance of Balor, and is beheaded on the stone Clough-an-neely, where
the marks of his blood may still be seen.

Balor now deems himself secure. He often visits the forge of Gavida, and
one day, when there, boasts of his conquest of MacKineely. No sooner has
he uttered the proud words than the young smith seizes a glowing rod
from the furnace and thrusts it through Balor's basilisk eye so far that
it comes out at the other side of his head.

It will be noted that in this version Balor's death is instantaneous;
nothing is said about the deep lough formed by the water from his eye.

According to O'Flaherty's "Ogygia," Balor was killed at the second
battle of Moyture "by a stone thrown at him by his grandson by his
daughter from a machine called Tabhall (which some assert to be a

If Balor is the grim hero of Tory Island, on the mainland we hear much
of Finn McCoul. I was informed that he had an eye at the back of his
head, and was so tall his feet came out at the door of his house. How
large the house was, tradition does not say. The island of Carrickfinn
opposite to Bunbeg is said to have been a favourite hunting-ground of
Finn McCoul. When crossing over to this island, I was told by the
boatman that the Danes were stout, small, and red-haired, and that they
lived in the caves. The Finns, he said, were even smaller, dark yellow

Near Loughros Bay I saw the Cashel na Fian, but whether it was built by
tall or small Finns I do not know. Part of the wall was standing, built
in the usual fashion with stones without mortar.

This cashel was on a height, and near it I was shown some old fields,
the ridges farther apart than those of the present day, and I was told
they might be the fields of those who built the cashel, or perhaps of
the Firbolgs. The old man who acted as my guide softened the _b_ in the
Irish manner, and spoke of those people as the Firwolgs; he said they
were short and stout, and cultivated the lands near the sea.

To the Danes are ascribed the kitchen-middens on Rosguill, and the lad
I met above Gortnalughoge Bay, told me they lived and had their houses
on the water, I should infer after the fashion of the lake-dwellers. He
could not tell me the height of these Danes, but those who built the
forts and cashels have often been described to me as short and
red-haired. As I have stated on former occasions, I should be inclined
to identify these short Danes with the Tuatha de Danann. I visited one
of their cashels above Dungiven, under which there is a souterrain, and
I also went to one on a hill above Downey's pier at Rosapenna. I believe
it is the Downey's Fort marked on the Ordnance Survey map. It appeared
to be regarded as an uncanny spot; treasure is said to be hidden under
it, and I had a difficulty in getting anyone to take me to it. A little
girl, however, acted as guide, and a young farmer, who had at first
refused, joined me on the top. I took some very rough measurements of
this cashel. From the outer circumference it was about 60 by 60 feet;
the walls had fallen inwards, so it was impossible to say how thick they
had been originally, but the space free from stones in the centre
measured about 25 by 25 feet.

The young farmer told me of some rocks at a place he called Dooey, on
which crosses were inscribed. I believe that near Mevagh, in addition to
the spiral markings, which were visited by many members of the
Conference, there is another rock on which crosses are also inscribed.

Firbolgs, Danes, Finns, and Pechts, of whom I have spoken on former
occasions, are all strictly human; and if the fairy has been more
spiritualized, I think, in many of the traditions, we may see how
closely he is allied to ancient and modern pygmies.

Fairies intermarry freely with the human race; they are not exempt from
death, and sometimes come to a violent end. At Kincasslagh a graphic
story was told me by an old woman of how two banshees attacked a man
when he was crossing the "banks" at Mullaghderg. His faithful dog had
been chained at home, but, knowing the danger, escaped, saved his
master, and killed one of the banshees. Her body was found next morning
in the sand: she had wonderful eyes, small legs, and very large feet. I
may mention that large feet are characteristic of the Pechts.

It is true that those who are drowned may become fairies, but if a
fisherman be missing, who shall say whether he lies at the bottom of the
ocean or has been carried captive to a lonely cave. In later times, when
the fairies were associated with fallen angels, one who had not received
the last rites of the Church might naturally be supposed to become a

In the tales of the giants we are brought face to face with beings of
great strength, but in a low stage of civilization. Balor, we have seen,
had no smith on Tory Island, and in a story of the fight between the
giant Fargowan and a wild boar, his sister Finglas goes to his
assistance with her apron filled with stones. Misled by the echo, she
jumps backwards and forwards across Lough Finn until at last her long
hair becomes entangled and she is drowned. It is believed that her
coffin was found when the railway was being made; the boards were 14
feet long. Sometimes the works of Nature are ascribed to the giants; we
have all heard of Finn McCoul as the artificer of the Giant's Causeway,
and near Glenties I was shown perched blocks, which had been thrown by
the giants. On the other hand, these giants, with all their magic, are
often very human; perhaps we are listening to the tales of a small race,
who exaggerated the feats of their large but savage neighbours. Writing
in 1860, J. F. Campbell, in his introduction to the "Tales of the West
Highlands," says: "Probably, as it seems to me, giants are simply the
nearest savage race at war with the race who tell the tales. If they
performed impossible feats of strength, they did no more than Rob Roy,
whose putting-stone is now shown to Saxon tourists ... in the shape of a
boulder of many tons."[79] Turning to fairies, the same writer says: "I
believe there was once a small race of people in these islands, who are
remembered as fairies.... They are always represented as living in green
mounds. They pop up their heads when disturbed by people treading on
their houses. They steal children. They seem to live on familiar terms
with the people about them when they treat them well, to punish them
when they ill-treat them.... There are such people now. A Lapp is such a
man; he is a little flesh-eating mortal, having control over the beasts,
and living in a green mound, when he is not living in a tent or sleeping
out of doors, wrapped in his deerskin shirt."[80]

Since these words were written, our knowledge of dwarf races has been
greatly increased; their skeletons have been found in Switzerland and
other parts of Europe. We are all familiar with the pygmies of Central
Africa, and the members of this Club will remember the interesting
photographs of them shown by Sir Harry Johnston. Besides the Andamnan
Islanders, we have dwarf races in various parts of Asia, and doubtless
we have all read with interest the account of the New Guinea dwarfs,
sent by the members of the British Expedition, who are investigating
that Island under many difficulties.

Dr. Eric Marshall describes these pygmies as "averaging four feet six
inches to four feet eight inches in height, wild, shy, treacherous
little devils; these little men wander over the heavy jungle-clad hills,
subsisting on roots and jungle produce, hunting the wallaby, pig, and
cassowary, and fishing in the mountain torrents.... The only metal tool
they possessed was a small, wedge-shaped piece of iron, one inch by two
inches, inserted into a wooden handle, and answering the purpose of an
axe, and with this the whole twenty-acre clearing had been made. None
but those who have worked and toiled in this dense jungle can really
appreciate the perseverance and patience necessary to accomplish this,
for many of the trees are from twelve to fifteen feet in

Throughout Donegal we find many traces of the primitive belief that men
or women can change themselves into animals. At Rosapenna I was told of
a hare standing on its hind-legs like an old woman and sucking a cow,
the inference being plainly that the witch had transformed herself into
a hare. I heard similar stories at Glenties. Here I was told of a man
who killed a young seal, but was startled when the mother, weeping,
cried out in Irish: "My child, my child!" Never again did he kill a

A story illustrating the same belief is told by John Sweeney, an
inspector of National Schools, who wrote about forty years ago a series
of letters describing Donegal and its inhabitants.[82] In his account of
Arranmore he says: "Until lately the islanders could not be induced to
attack a seal, they being strongly under the impression that these
animals were human beings metamorphosed by the power of their own
witchcraft. In confirmation of this notion, they used to repeat the
story of one Rodgers of their island, who, being alone in his skiff
fishing, was overtaken by a storm, and driven on the shore of the Scotch
Highlands. Having landed, he approached a house which was close to the
beach, and on entering it was accosted by name. Expressing his surprise
at finding himself known in a strange country, and by one whom he had
never seen, the old man who addressed him bared his head, and, pointing
to a scar on his skull, reminded Rodgers of an encounter he had with a
seal in one of the caves of Arranmore. 'I was,' he said, 'that seal, and
this is the mark of the wound you inflicted on me. I do not blame you,
however, for you were not aware of what you were doing.'"

I fear I have lingered too long over these old-world stories. To me
they point to a far-distant past, when Ulster was covered with forests,
in which the red deer and perhaps the Irish elk roamed, and inhabited by
rude tribes, some of them of dwarfish stature, others tall; but these
giants were apparently even less civilized than their smaller
neighbours. Wars were frequent; the giant could hurl the unwieldy mass
of stone, and the dwarfish man could send his arrow tipped with flint.
Even more common was the stealthy raid, when women and children were
carried off to the gloomy souterrain. How long did these rude tribes
survive? It would be difficult to say; possibly until after the days of
St. Patrick and St. Columkill.

I will not, however, indulge in a fancy sketch. The pressing need is not
to interpret but to collect these old tales. The antiquary of the
future, with fuller knowledge at his command, may be better able to
decipher them; but if they are allowed to perish, one link with the past
will be irretrievably lost.


[72] Read before the Archæological Section of the Belfast
Naturalists' Field Club, February 8, 1911.

[73] In "Celtic Folklore," vol. i., p. 210 _et seq._, Sir John
Rhys relates a similar story. Here the woman is brought to a place which
appears to her to be the finest she has ever seen. When the child is
born the father gives her ointment to anoint its eyes, but entreats her
not to touch her own with it. Inadvertently she rubs her finger across
her eye, and now she sees that the wife is her former maidservant
Eilian, and that she lies on a bundle of rushes and withered leaves in a
cave. Not long afterwards the woman sees the husband in the market at
Carnarvon, and asks for Eilian. He is angry, and, inquiring with which
eye she sees him, puts it out with a bulrush.

From Palestine we have another variant of this story. The Rev. J. E.
Hanauer, in "Folklore of the Holy Land," pp. 210 _et seq._, tells of a
woman at El Welejeh who had spoken unkindly to a frog. The next night,
on waking, she found herself in a cave surrounded by strange,
angry-looking people; one of these "Jân" reproached her bitterly, saying
that the frog was his wife, and threatening her with dire consequences
unless a son were born. She assisted at the birth of the child, who was
fortunately a boy, and was given a _mukhaleh_ or _kohl_ vessel, and was
bidden to rub some of this _kohl_ on the infant's eyes. When she had
done this, she rubbed some on one of her own eyes, but before she had
time to put any on the other the vessel was angrily taken from her. She
was rewarded with onion-leaves, which in the morning turned to gold.
Some time afterwards this woman was shopping at El Kuds, when she saw
the Jennizeh pilfering from shop to shop. She spoke to her and kissed
the baby, but the other answered fiercely, and, poking her finger into
the woman's eye, put it out.

[74] In "Guleesh na Guss Dhu," Dr. Douglas Hyde gives us a
similar tale from Co. Mayo. See "Beside the Fire," pp. 104-128.

[75] In "Folk Tales from Breffny," by B. Hunt, there is a story
(pp. 99-103), "The Cutting of the Tree," which tells of how the fairies,
when baffled in their endeavour to carry off the mistress of the house,
left in the kitchen a wooden image "cut into the living likeness of the
woman of the house."

[76] See _ante_, p. 60.

[77] Pp. 18-21.

[78] "Ogygia," part iii., chap. xii.

[79] Pp. xcix, c.

[80] Pp. c, ci.

[81] See _Morning Post_, December 28, 1910. In his work,
"Pygmies and Papuans," which gives the results of this expedition, Mr.
A. F. R. Wollaston also describes these pygmies (see especially pp.

[82] I was shown a MS. copy of some of these letters by a
relative of the writer at Burtonport. I believe they were written for a
newspaper, and were afterwards republished in "The Derry People," under
the title "The Rosses Thirty Years Ago." They contain much interesting
information in regard to the traditions current among the peasantry.

Giants and Dwarfs[83]

The population of Ulster is derived from many sources, and in its
folklore we shall find traces of various tribes and people. I shall
begin with a tale which may have been brought by English settlers.

In "Folklore as an Historical Science" Sir G. Laurence Gomme has given
several variants of the story of the Pedlar of Swaffham and London
Bridge. Most of these come from England, Scotland, and Wales, but among
them there are also a Breton and a Norse version. I have found a local
variant in Donegal. An elderly woman told me that at Kinnagoe a "toon"
or small hamlet about three miles from Buncrana, there lived a man whose
name, she believed, was Doherty. He dreamt one night that on London
Bridge he should hear of a treasure. He set out at once for London, and
when he came there walked up and down the bridge until he was wearied.
At last a man accosted him and asked him why he loitered there. In
reply, Doherty told his dream, upon which the other said: "Ah, man! Do
you believe in drames? Why, I dreamt the other night that at a place
called Kinnagoe a pot of gold is buried. Would I go to look for it? I
might loss my time if I paid attention to drames." "That's true,"
answered Doherty, who now hurried home, found the pot of gold, bought
houses and land, and became a wealthy man.

Whether this story embodies an earlier Irish legend I do not know, but I
should say that the mention of London Bridge points to its having been
brought over by English settlers. Sir G. L. Gomme tells us that "the
earliest version of this legend is quoted from the manuscripts of Sir
Roger Twysden, who obtained it from Sir William Dugdale, of Blyth Hall,
in Warwickshire, in a letter dated January 29, 1652-53. Sir William says
of it that 'it was the tradition of the inhabitants, as it was told me

May not some of the planters brought over by the Irish Society have
carried this legend from their English home, giving it in the name
Kinnagoe a local habitation?

Most of our folklore comes, however, from a very early period. Our
Irish fairy, although regarded as a fallen angel, is not the medieval
elf, who could sip honey from a flower, but a small old man or woman
with magical powers, swift to revenge an injury, but often a kindly
neighbour. No story is told more frequently than that of the old fairy
woman who borrows a "noggin" of meal, repays it honestly, and rewards
the peasant woman by saying that her kist will never be empty, generally
adding the condition as long as the secret is kept. The woman usually
observes the condition until her husband becomes too inquisitive. When
she reveals the secret the kist is empty.

Another widespread tale is that of the fairy woman who comes to the
peasant's cottage, sometimes to beg that water may not be thrown out at
the door, as it comes down her chimney and puts out the fire; sometimes
to ask, for a similar reason, that the "byre," or cowhouse, may be
removed to another site. In some tales it is a fairy man who makes the
request. If it is refused, punishment follows in sickness among the
cattle; if complied with, the cows flourish and give an extra supply of
milk. In one instance the "wee folk" provided money to pay a mason to
build the new cowhouse. We may smile, and ask how the position of the
cowhouse could affect the homes of the fairies; but if these small
people lived in the souterrains, as tradition alleges, we may even at
the present day find these artificial caves under inhabited houses. At a
large farmhouse on the border of Counties Antrim and Londonderry I was
told one ran under the kitchen. At another farm near Castlerock, Co.
Londonderry, the owner opened a trapdoor in his yard, and allowed me to
look down into a souterrain. At Finvoy, Co. Antrim, I was shown one of
these caves over which a cottage formerly stood. A souterrain also runs
under the Glebe House at Donaghmore, Co. Down. The following extract is
from a work[84] in preparation, by the Rev. Dr. Cowan, Rector of the
parish, who, in describing this souterrain, writes: "The lintel to the
main entrance is the large stone which forms the base of the old Celtic
cross, which stands a few yards south of the church. Underneath the
cross is the central chamber, which is sixty-two feet long, three feet
wide and upwards of four feet high, with branches in the form of
transepts about thirty feet in length. From these, again, several
sections extend ... one due north terminating at the Glebe House (a
distance of two hundred yards) underneath the study, where, according to
tradition, some rich old vicar in past times fashioned the extreme end
into the dimensions of a wine-cellar."

According to another tradition--an older one, no doubt--this chamber
under the study was the dressing-room of the small Danes, who after
their toilet proceeded through the underground passages to church. They
had to pass through many little doors, down stairs, through parlours,
until they came to the great chamber under the cross where the minister
held forth. I shall not attempt to guess to what old faith this minister
or priest belonged, or what were the rites he celebrated; but the stairs
probably represent the descent from one chamber to another, and the
little doors the bridges found in some souterrains, and, I believe, at
Donaghmore, where one stone juts out from the floor, and a little
farther on another comes down from the roof, leaving only a narrow
passage, so that one must creep over and under these bridges to get to
the end of the cave.

The Danes are regarded by the country people as distinctly human, and
yet there is much in them that reminds us of the fairies; indeed, I was
told by two old men--one in Co. Antrim, and the other in Co. Derry--that
they and the wee-folk are much the same. In a former paper[85] I
referred to the difference in dress ascribed to the fairies in various
parts of the country. I am inclined to believe that this indicates a
variety of tribes among the aboriginal inhabitants. In the fairies who
dress in green may we not have a tradition of people who stained
themselves with woad or some other plant? These fairies are chiefly
heard of in North-East Antrim. In some parts of that county they are
said to wear tartan, but in other parts of Ulster the fairies are
usually, although not universally, described as dressing in red. Do
these represent a people who dyed themselves with red ochre, or who
simply went naked? In Tory Island I was told the fairies dressed in
black; and Keating informs us that the Fomorians, who had their
headquarters at Toirinis, or Tory Island, were "sea-rovers of the race
of Cam, who fared from Africa."[86]

Stories of the fairies or wee-folk are to be found everywhere in
Ulster, and the Danes are also universally known; but one hears of the
Pechts, chiefly in the north-east of Antrim, where the Grogach is also
known. The following story was told to me in Glenariff, Co. Antrim:

A Grogach herded the cattle of a farmer, and drove them home in the
evening. He was about the size of a child, and was naked. A fire was
left burning at night so that he might warm himself, and after a time
the daughter of the house made him a shirt. When the Grogach saw this he
thought it was a "billet" for him to go, and, crying bitterly, he took
his departure, and left the shirt behind him. As I pointed out on a
former occasion,[87] in many respects the Grogach resembles the Swiss
dwarf. The likeness to the Brownie is also very marked. At Ballycastle I
was told the Grogach was a hairy man about four feet in height, who
could bear heat or cold without clothing.

Patrick Kennedy has described a Gruagach as a giant, and states that the
word "Gruagach" has for root _gruach_--"hair," giants and magicians
being "furnished with a large provision of that appendage."[88] This
Gruagach was closely related to the fairies, and, indeed, we shall find
later in a Donegal story a giant ogress spoken of as a fairy woman. In
Scotland, as well as in the South of Ireland, the name is Gruagach, but
in Antrim I heard it pronounced "Grogach." I was also told near
Cushendall that the Danes were hairy people.

One does not hear so much about giants in Antrim as in Donegal, but in
Glenariff I was told of four, one of whom lifted a rock at Ballycastle
and threw it across the sea to Rathlin--a distance of five or six miles.
Great as this feat was, a still greater was reported to me near
Armoy,[89] where I was shown a valley, and was told the earth had been
scooped out and thrown into the sea, where it formed the Island of

The grave of the giant Gig-na-Gog is to be seen some miles from Portrush
on the road to Beardiville.[90] I could not, however, hear anything of
Gig-na-Gog, except that he was a giant.

In the stories of giants we no doubt often have traditions of a tall
race, who are sometimes represented as of inferior mental capacity. At
other times we appear to be listening to an early interpretation of the
works of Nature. The Donegal peasant at the present day believes that
the perched block on the side of the hill has been thrown by the arm of
a giant. In the compact columns of the Giant's Causeway and of Fingal's
Cave at Staffa primitive man saw a work of great skill and ingenuity,
which he attributed to a giant artificer; and Finn McCoul is credited
with having made a stupendous mole, uniting Scotland and Ireland. This
Finn McCoul has many aspects. He does not show to much advantage in the
following legend, which I heard on the banks of Lough Salt in Donegal:
Finn was a giant but there was a bigger giant named Goll, who came to
fight Finn, and Finn was afraid. His wife bade him creep into the
cradle, and she would give an answer to Goll. When the latter appeared,
he asked where was Finn. The wife replied he was out, and she was alone
with the baby in the cradle. Goll looked at the child, and thought, if
that is the size of Finn's infant, what must Finn himself be? and
without more ado he turned and took his departure.[91] This Finn had an
eye at the back of his head, and was so tall his feet came out at the
door of his house. We are not told, however, what was the size of the

  [Illustration: PLATE XI. [_R. Welch, Photo._

In this tale Finn shows little courage, but as a rule he is represented
as a noted hero. I was told a long story at Glenties in Donegal of the
three sons Finn had by the Queen of Italy. He had seen her bathing in
Ireland, and he stole her clothes, so she had to stay until she could
get them back. After a time she found them, and returned to her own
country, where she gave birth to three sons--Dubh, Kian, and Glasmait.
When they were fourteen years of age the King of Italy sent them away
that they might go to their father Finn.

They arrived in Ireland, and when Finn saw them he said: "If those three
be the sons of a King, they will come straight on; if not, they will ask
their way." The lads came straight on, knelt before Finn, and claimed
him as their father. He asked them who was their mother, and when they
said the Queen of Italy, Finn remembered the stolen clothes, and
received them as his sons.

One day the followers of Finn could not find his dividing knife, and
Dubh determined to go in search of it. He put a stick in the fire, and
said he would be back before the third of it was burnt out. He followed
tracks, and came to a house where there was a great feast. He sat down
among the men, and saw they were cutting with Finn's knife. It was
passed from one to another until it came to Dubh, who, holding it in his
hand, sprang up and carried it off.

When Dubh got home he wakened Kian and said: "My third of the stick is
burnt, and now do you see what you can do." Kian followed the tracks,
and got to the same place. He found the men drinking out of a horn. One
called for whisky, another for wine, and whatever was asked, the horn
gave. Kian heard them say it was Finn's horn, and that his knife had
been carried off the previous night. Kian waited, and when the horn came
he grasped it tightly and ran off home, where he found his third of the
stick was burnt. He waked Glasmait, and told him two-thirds of the night
had passed, and it was now his turn to go out. Glasmait followed the
same tracks, but when he came to the house blood was flowing from the
door, and, looking in, he saw the place full of corpses. One man only
remained alive. He told Glasmait how they had all been drinking when
someone ran off with Finn McCoul's horn. "One man blamed another," he
said; "they quarrelled and fought until everyone was killed except
myself. Now I beseech you throw the ditch[92] upon me and bury me. I do
not wish to be devoured by the fairy woman, who will soon be here. She
is an awful size, and upon her back is bound Finn McCoul's sword of
light,[93] which gives to its possessor the strength of a hundred men."
The man gave Glasmait some hints to aid him in the coming fight, and
added: "Now I have told you all, bury me quick."

Glasmait threw the ditch upon him, and hid himself in a corner. The
Banmore, or large woman, now came in, and began her horrible repast. She
chose the fat men; three times she lifted Glasmait, but rejected him as
too young and lean. At last she lay down to sleep. Glasmait followed the
advice he had received. He touched her foot, but jumped aside to avoid
the kick. He touched her hand, but jumped aside to avoid her slap. When
she was again asleep, he drew his sword and cut the cords which bound
the sword of light to her back, and seized upon it. She roused herself,
and for two hours they fought, until in the end Glasmait ripped open her
body, when, behold, three red-haired boys sprang out and attacked him.
He slew two of them, but the third escaped. Glasmait returned home with
the sword of light, and found his third of the stick burnt.

The three sons now presented their father with the dividing knife, the
drinking horn, and the sword of light, and there was great rejoicing
that these had been recovered.

Some time after this a red-haired boy appeared, and begged to be taken
into Finn's service for a twelvemonth, saying he could kill birds and do
any kind of work. When asked what wages he looked for, he replied that
he hoped when he died, Finn and his men would put his body in a cart,
which would come for it, and bury him where the cart stopped.

The red-haired boy worked well, but at the end of the year he suddenly
died. A cart drawn by a horse appeared, and Finn and his men tried to
place the body in it; but it could not be moved until the horse wheeled
round and did the work itself, starting immediately afterwards with its
load. Finn and his men followed, but a great mist came on, so that they
could not see clearly. At last they arrived at an old, black castle
standing in a glen. Here they found the table laid, and sat down to eat,
but before long the red-haired boy appeared alive, and cried vengeance
upon Finn and his sons. The men tried to draw their swords, but found
them fastened to the ground, and the red-haired boy cut off fifty heads.

Now, however, the great Manannan appeared. He bade the red-haired boy
drop his sword, or he would give him a slap that would turn his face to
the back of his head. He also bade him replace the heads on the fifty
men. The red-haired boy had to submit, and after that he troubled Finn
no more. Manannan dispelled the mist, and brought Finn and his men back
to their own home, where they feasted for three days and three nights.

This somewhat gruesome story contains several points of interest. The
stealing of the clothes is an incident which occurs with slight
variations in many folk-tales. In "The Stolen Veil"[94] Musäus tells us
how the damsel of fairy lineage was detained when her veil was carried
off, and it was only after she had recovered it that she was able, in
the guise of a swan, to return to her home.

We have read, too, of how the Shetlander captured the sealskin of the
Finn woman, without which she could not return as a seal to her
husband.[95] It should also be noted that the fairy ogress is a large
woman, apparently a giantess, while her three sons have the red hair so
often associated with the fairies. At the end of the tale Finn and his
men are saved by Manannan, the Celtic god of the sea, who has given his
name to the Isle of Man. In Balor of Tory Island the great Fomorian
chief, we have another giant, with an eye at the back of his head, which
dealt destruction to all who encountered its gaze. I was told in Tory
Island that when Balor was mortally wounded water fell so copiously from
his eye that it formed the biggest lough in the world, deeper even than
Lough Foyle.[96]

These giants belonged to an olden time and a very primitive race. They
have passed away, and are no longer like the fairies--objects of fear or

The fairies, being believed to be fallen angels, are especially
dreaded on Hallow Eve night. In some places oatmeal and salt are put on
the heads of the children to protect them from harm. I first heard of
this custom in the valley of the Roe, where there are a large number of
forts said to be inhabited by the fairies. The neighbourhood of Dungiven
on that river is rich in antiquities. I was told there was a souterrain
under the Cashel or "White Fort," said to have been built by the Danes.
There is another under Carnanban Fort, and not far from this there are
the stone circles at Aghlish. An old woman of ninety-six showed them to
me, and said it was a very gentle[97] place, and it would not be safe to
take away one of the stones.

  [Illustration: PLATE XII. [_R. Welch, Photo._

Here we have an instance of the strong belief that to interfere in any
way with stone, tree, or fort, belonging to the fairies is certain to
bring disaster. About sixty-five years ago, when the railway was being
made between Belfast and Ballymena, an old fort with fairy bushes in the
townland of Lenagh stood on the intended track, and had to be removed.
The men working on the line were most unwilling to meddle with either
fort or bushes. One, however, braver than the rest began to cut down a
thorn, when he met with an accident which strengthened the others in
their refusal. In the end the fort had to be blown up, I believe by the
officials of the railway, and underneath it a very fine spearhead and
other implements were found.[98]

A fort near Glasdrumman, Co. Down, was demolished by the owner, but the
country-people noted that the man who struck the first blow was injured
and died soon afterwards, while the owner himself became a permanent
invalid. A woman living near this fort related that in the evening after
the work was begun she heard an awful screech from the fort; presumably
the fairies were leaving their home.

A curious story was told me by an old woman in the Cottage Hospital at
Cushendall. A man at Glenravel named M'Combridge went out one evening to
look for his heifer, but could not find it. He saw a great house in one
of his fields, where no house had been before, and, wondering much at
this, he went in. An old woman sat by the fire, and soon two men came in
leading the heifer. They killed it with a blow on the head and put it
into a pot. M'Combridge was too much afraid to make any objection; he
rose, however, to leave the house, but the old woman said: "Wait; you
must have some of the broth of your own heifer." Three times she made
him partake of the broth, and he was then unable to leave the house. She
put him to bed, and the man gave birth to a son. He fell asleep, but was
wakened by something touching his ear, and found himself on the grass
near his home, and the heifer close to his ear.

This fantastic story no doubt represents a dream, but does it contain a
reminiscence of the couvade, where, after the birth of the child, the
father goes to bed? Sir E. B. Tylor, in the "Early History of Mankind,"
has shown how widespread this custom was both in the Old and the New

In these stories, drawn from various parts of Ulster, we seem to hear
echoes of a very distant past. The giants often appear as savages of low
intelligence. In the fairies, I think, we may plainly see a tradition of
a dwarf race, although it is true that the country-people do not regard
them as human beings; indeed, I was told in Co. Tyrone that when the
fairies were annoying a man he threw his handkerchief at them, and asked
if among them all they could show one drop of blood. This, being
spirits, they could not do. In the Grogach the human element is more
pronounced, and both Danes and Pechts are usually regarded as men and
women like ourselves, although of smaller stature. It will thus be seen
that in Ulster we have traditions of giants, fairies, Grogachs, Danes,
and Pechts; and in Donegal I was also told of a small race of yellow
Finns. Can we identify any of these with the prehistoric races of the
British Isles and of Europe?

It has been held by many that the relics of Palæolithic man do not
occur in Ireland, but the Rev. Frederick Smith has found his implements,
some of them glaciated, at Killiney[99]; and Mr. Lewis Abbott, who has
made the implements of early man a special study, believes that
Palæolithic man lived and worked in Ireland. In a letter to me he states
that this opinion is based on material in his possession. "I have," he
writes, "the Irish collection of my old friend, the late Professor
Rupert Jones; in this there are many immensely metamorphosed, deeply
iron-stained (and the iron, again, in turn further altered), implements
of Palæolithic types.... They are usually very lustrous or highly
'patinated,' as it is called." In his recent paper, "On the
Classification of the British Stone Age Industries,"[100] in describing
the club studs, Mr. Abbott writes: "I have found very fine examples in
the Cromer Forest bed, and under and in various glacial deposits in
England and Ireland." How long Palæolithic man survived in Ireland it
would be difficult to say, but in such characters as the fairy ogress we
are brought face to face with a very low form of savagery. It will be
noted that her sons are red-haired. Now, I have often found red hair
ascribed to fairies and Danes, but not to Pechts. This persistent
tradition has led me to ask whether red was the colour of the hair in
some early races of mankind. The following passage in Dr. Beddoe's
Huxley Lecture[101] favours an affirmative answer: "There are, of
course, facts, or reported facts, which would lead one to suspect that
red was the original hair colour of man in Europe--at least, when living
in primitive or natural conditions with much exposure, and that the
development of brown pigment came later, with subjection to heat and
malaria, and other influences connected with what we call

We have seen that the implements of early man are found in spots sacred
to the fairies. The Rev. Gath Whitley considers the Piskey dwarfs the
earliest Neolithic inhabitants of Cornwall, and describes them as a
small race who hunted the elk and the deer, and perhaps, like the
Bushmen, danced and sang to the light of the moon.[102] Our traditional
Irish fairies bear a strong resemblance to these Piskey dwarfs of
Cornwall, and also to the Welsh fairies of whom Sir John Rhys writes
that when fairyland is cleared of its glamour there seems to be
disclosed "a swarthy population of short, stumpy men, occupying the most
inaccessible districts of our country.... They probably fished and
hunted and kept domestic animals, including, perhaps, the pig, but they
depended largely on what they could steal at night or in misty weather.
Their thieving, however, was not resented, as their visits were believed
to bring luck and prosperity."[103] This description might apply to our
Ulster fairies, who in many of the stories appear as a very primitive
people. In some of the tales, however, the fairies are represented in a
higher state of civilisation. They can spin and weave; they inhabit
underground but well-built houses, and in the Irish records they are
closely associated with the Tuatha de Danann.

I believe these Tuatha de Danann are the small Danes, who, according to
tradition, built the raths and souterrains. The late Mr. John Gray[104]
would ascribe a Mongoloid origin to them. In a letter written to me
shortly before his death he stated his belief that the Danes and Pechts
"were of the same race, and were identical with a short, round-headed
race which migrated into the British Isles about 2,000 B.C. at the
beginning of the Bronze Age.... The stature of these primitive Danes and
Pechts was five feet three inches, and they must have looked very small
men to the later Teutonic invaders of an average stature of five feet
eight and a half inches."

In his papers, "Who built the British Stone Circles?"[105] and "The
Origin of the Devonian Race,"[106] Mr. Gray has fully described this
round-headed race, who buried in short cists, and whom he believes to
have been a colony from Asia Minor of Akkadians, Sumerians, or Hittites,
who migrated to England by sea in order to work the Cornish tin-mines
and the Welsh copper-mines.

For a fuller exposition of these views I must refer the reader to Mr.
Gray's very interesting articles.

In regard to the Tuatha de Danann, according to Keating,[107] they came
from Greece by way of Scandinavia. This might lead us to infer a
northern origin, or, at least, that they had taken a different route
from those who came by the Mediterranean to the West of Europe. They
appear to have known the use of metals and to have ploughed the land.

Dr. O'Donovan, in writing of these Tuatha de Danann, says: "From the
many monuments ascribed to this colony by tradition and in ancient Irish
historical tales, it is quite evident that they were a real people, and
from their having been considered gods and magicians by the Gaedhil or
Scoti who subdued them, it may be inferred that they were skilled in
arts which the latter did not understand." Referring to the colloquy
between St. Patrick and Caoilte MacRonain, Dr. O'Donovan says that it
appears from this ancient Irish text that "there were very many places
in Ireland where the Tuatha de Dananns were then supposed to live as
sprites or fairies." He adds: "The inference naturally to be drawn from
these stories is that the Tuatha de Dananns lingered in the country for
many centuries after their subjugation by the Gaedhil, and that they
lived in retired situations, which induced others to regard them as

What is here averred of the Tuatha de Danann may be true of other
primitive races who may have survived long in Ireland. It is difficult
to exterminate a people, and they could not be driven farther west.

It appears to me that in the traditions of the Ulster peasantry we see
indications of a tall, savage people, and of various races of small men.
Some were in all probability veritable dwarfs, like those whose
skeletons have been found in Switzerland, near Schaffhausen. Others may
have been of the stature of the round-headed race described by Mr. John
Gray, but in tradition they all--fairy, Grogach, Pecht, and Dane--appear
as little people. In these tales we have not a clear outline--the
picture is often blurred--but as we see the red-haired Danes carrying
earth in their aprons to build the forts, the Pechts handing from one to
another the large slabs to roof the souterrains, and the Grogachs
herding cattle, we catch glimpses of the life of those who in long past
ages inhabited Ireland.


[83] Reprinted from the _Antiquary_, August, 1913.

[84] "An Ancient Irish Parish, Past and Present."

[85] See Ulster Fairies, Danes, and Pechts, p. 27.

[86] Keating, "History of Ireland," book i., chap. viii.
(translation by P. W. Joyce, LL.D., M.R.I.A.). See _ante_, p. 60.

[87] See Traditions of Dwarf Races in Ireland and in
Switzerland, pp. 50-52.

[88] "Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts," second edition,
p. 123 note.

[89] A village about six miles from Ballycastle, where there is
a round tower.

[90] It is referred to in the "Guide to Belfast and the
Adjacent Counties," by the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, 1874, pp.
205, 206; also by Borlase in "Dolmens of Ireland," vol. i., p. 371.

[91] A similar tale, but with more details, is related of Finn
by William Carleton. It was first published in Chambers' _Edinburgh
Journal_ in January, 1841, with the title, "A Legend of Knockmary," and
was reprinted in Carleton's collected works under the title "A Legend of
Knockmany." It is given by Mr. W. B. Yeates in his "Irish Fairy and Folk
Tales." In Carleton's tale Finn's opponent is not Goll, but Cuchullin.
In the notes first published in Chambers' _Journal_ reference is,
however, made to Scotch legends about Finn McCoul and Gaul, the son of
Morni, whom I take to be the same as Goll. A version of the story is
also given by Patrick Kennedy in "Legendary Fictions of the Irish
Celts," under the title "Fann MacCuil and the Scotch Giant," pp.
179-181. This Scotch giant is named Far Rua, and the fort to which he
journeys is in the bog of Allen.

[92] In Ireland "ditch" is used for an earth fence.

[93] Claive Solus was the name given to it by the old woman,
who narrated the story, and she translated it "sword of light."

[94] See J. K. A. Musäus, "Volksmährchen der Deutschen," edited
by J. L. Klee (Leipzig, 1842); "Der geraubte Schleier," pp. 371-429.

[95] See "The Testimony of Tradition" (London, 1890, pp. 1-25),
by Mr. David MacRitchie, F.S.A.Scot.; also by the same author, "The
Aberdeen Kayak and its Congeners." Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. xlvi. (1911-12), pp. 213-241. Mr.
MacRitchie believes that the magic sealskin was a Kayak.

[96] See p. 75.

[97] Fairy-haunted.

[98] This spearhead is in the possession of Mr. Robert Bell, a
member of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, from whom I heard this

[99] "The Stone Age in North Britain and Ireland," by the Rev.
Frederick Smith, Appendix, p. 396.

[100] See _Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute_,
vol. xli., 1911, p. 462.

[101] "Colour and Race," delivered before the Anthropological
Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, October 31, 1905.

[102] "Footprints of Vanished Races in Cornwall," by the Rev.
D. Gath Whitley, published in the _Journal of the Royal Institution of
Cornwall_, 1903, vol. xv., part ii., p. 283.

[103] "Celtic Folklore," vol. ii., chap. xii., pp. 668, 669.

[104] Treasurer to the Anthropological Institute.

[105] Read before Section H of the British Association at the
Dublin Meeting, September, 1908, published in _Nature_, December 24,
1908, pp. 236-238.

[106] Published in _London Devonian Year-Book_, 1910.

[107] "History of Ireland," book i., chap. x.

[108] See "Annals of the Four Masters," vol. i., note at p.

The Rev. William Hamilton, D.D.[109]


    "Here, hapless Hamilton, lamented name!
    To fire volcanic traced the curious frame,
    And, as his soul, by sportive fancy's aid,
    Up to the fount of time's long current strayed,
    Far round these rocks he saw fierce craters boil,
    And torrent lavas flood the riven soil:
    Saw vanquished Ocean from his bounds retire,
    And hailed the wonders of creative Fire."


These lines are taken from a poem, "The Giant's Causeway," written in
1811, when the nature of the basaltic rocks was regarded as doubtful,
and many held that their origin was to be traced to the action of water
rather than fire. Hamilton is rightly brought forward as a champion of
the volcanic theory. In his "Letters concerning the Northern Coast of
Antrim," published towards the close of the eighteenth century, he
adduces strong reasons to show that the Giant's Causeway is no isolated
freak of Nature, but part of a vast lava field which covered Antrim and
extended far beyond the Scottish islands. Nor does he confine his
attention to geology, but fulfils the promise on the title page, giving
an account of the antiquities, manners, and customs of the country. To
those who care to read of this part of the world before the days of
railroads and electric tramways, when Portrush was a small fishing
village, and the lough which divides Antrim from Down bore the name of
the ancient city of Carrickfergus, this old volume will possess many
attractions. Three copies lie before me; two belong to editions
published in the author's lifetime; the third was printed in Belfast in
1822, and contains a short memoir and a portrait of Dr. Hamilton. The
latter is taken from one of those black silhouettes by which, before the
art of photography was known, our grandfathers strove to preserve an
image of those they loved. In this imperfect likeness we can see below
the wig a massive forehead, and features which betoken no small
determination of character. We can well believe that we are gazing on
the face of a scholar, a man of science, a divine, of one who believed
that death, even in the tragic form in which it came to him, was but the
laying aside of a perishable machine, the casting away of an instrument
no longer able to perform its functions.

William Hamilton was born in December, 1757, in Londonderry, where the
family had resided for nearly a century, his grandfather having been one
of the defenders of the city during the famous siege. Little is known of
his boyhood. Before he was fifteen he entered the University of Dublin,
and after a distinguished career obtained a fellowship in 1779. It was
while continuing his theological and literary studies that his attention
was drawn to the new sciences of chemistry and mineralogy. We can
imagine the ardent student attracting around him a band of kindred
spirits, who, meeting on one evening of the week under the name of
Palæosophers, studied the Bible and ancient writings bearing on its
interpretation, and the next, calling themselves Neosophers, discussed
the phenomena of Nature, and the discoveries of Cavendish, or the views
of Buffon and Descartes. Nor did his marriage in 1780 to Sarah Walker
interrupt these pursuits.

Hamilton was one of the founders of the Royal Irish Academy, and
dedicated his "Letters concerning the Coast of Antrim" to the Earl of
Charlemont, the first president of that body. The book opens with an
account of his visit to the Island of Raghery or Rathlin, where he was
charmed with the primitive manners of the people and the friendly
relations existing between them and their landlord. He examined the
white cliffs, the dark basaltic columns, and the ruins of the old
castle, where Robert Bruce is said to have made a gallant defence
against his enemies. Here he found cinders embedded in the mortar,
showing that the lime used in building the walls had been burnt with
coal. This is adduced as a proof that the coal-beds near Fair Head had
been known at an early period, possibly at a time anterior to the Danish
incursions of the ninth and tenth centuries--a view confirmed by the
discovery of an ancient gallery extending many hundred yards
underground, and in which the remains of the tools and baskets of the
prehistoric miners were found.

In a later letter a history is given of the Giant's Causeway, and of the
various opinions which have been held regarding its origin. Beginning
with the old tradition[110] that the stones had been cut and placed in
position by the giant, Fin McCool or Fingal, when constructing a mighty
mole to unite Ireland to Scotland, Hamilton alludes to the crude notions
exhibited in some papers published in the early Transactions of the
Royal Society. He criticizes severely "A True Prospect of the Giant's
Causeway," printed in 1696 for the Dublin Society, showing how the
imagination of the artist had planted luxuriant forest-trees on the wild
bay of Port Noffer, and transformed basaltic rocks into comfortable
dwelling-houses. The two beautiful paintings made by Mrs. Susanna Drury
in 1740 are referred to in very different language, and anyone who has
seen engravings of these will endorse his opinion, and feel that this
lady has depicted, with almost photographic accuracy, the Causeway and
the successive galleries of basaltic columns, which lend a weird and
peculiar grandeur to the headlands of Bengore.

A large portion of Hamilton's work is occupied with a minute
investigation of these headlands, and of the lofty promontory of Fair
Head. A description is given of the jointed columns of the Causeway,
whose surface presents a regular and compact pavement of polygon stones;
we are told that this basaltic rock contains metallic iron, and that he
has himself observed how, in the semicircular Bay of Bengore, the
compass deviates greatly from its meridian, and each pillar or fragment
of a pillar acts as a natural magnet. He also points out that columnar
rocks are found in many parts of Antrim, and traces the basaltic plateau
from the shores of Lough Foyle to the valley of the Lagan; nay more, he
bids us extend our gaze, and remember "that whatever be the reasonings
that fairly apply to the formation of the basaltes in our island, the
same must be extended with little interruption over the mainland and
western isles of Scotland, even to the frozen island of Iceland, where
basaltic pillars are to be found in abundance, and where the flames of
Hecla still continue to blaze."[111]

Hamilton argues, in opposition to the views of many of his
contemporaries, that the vicinity of the Giant's Causeway to the sea has
nothing whatever to do with the peculiar structure of its jointed
columns, which he ascribes to their having been formed by the
crystallization of a molten mass. The following are his words:

"Since, therefore, the basaltes and its attendant fossils[112] bear
strong marks of the effects of fire, it does not seem unlikely that its
pillars may have been formed by a process, exactly analogous to what is
commonly denominated crystallization by fusion.... For though during the
moments of an eruption nothing but a wasteful scene of tumult and
disorder be presented to our view, yet, when the fury of those flames
and vapours, which have been struggling for a passage, has abated,
everything then returns to its original state of rest; and those various
melted substances, which, but just before, were in the wildest state of
chaos, will now subside and cool with a degree of regularity utterly
unattainable in our laboratories."[113]

It is true that modern geologists would not apply the term
"crystallization" to the process by which the basaltic columns have been
formed, but all would agree that they have assumed their peculiar shape
during the slow cooling of the molten lava of which they consist; thus
Professor James Thomson[114] states that the division into prisms has
arisen "by splitting, through shrinkage, of a very homogeneous mass in

It would be tedious to repeat the reasoning by which Hamilton, following
in the steps of the French geologists, Desmarest and Faujas de St. Fond,
establishes the volcanic origin of the basalt. It is true, he assumes
the position of an impartial narrator, and brings forward at
considerable length the objections which had been urged against this
theory, but only to show that each one of them admits of a full and
complete answer. Thus he states that the absence of volcanic cones does
not embarrass the advocates of the system: "According to them, the
basaltes has been formed under the earth itself and within the bowels of
those very mountains where it could never have been exposed to view
until, by length of time or some violent shock of nature, the incumbent
mass must have undergone a very considerable alteration, such as should
go near to destroy every exterior volcanic feature. In support of this,
it may be observed that the promontories of Antrim do yet bear very
evident marks of some violent convulsion, which has left them standing
in their present abrupt situation, and that the Island of Raghery and
some of the western isles of Scotland do really appear like the
surviving fragments of a country, great part of which might have been
buried in the ocean."[115]

We thus see that Hamilton clearly perceived that great changes,
sufficient to sweep away lofty mountains, had taken place since those
old lava streams had flowed over the land. It is true that science has
advanced since his day with gigantic strides. Some things which he
regarded as doubtful have become certain, and others which he regarded
as certain have become doubtful, yet I trust that the preceding extracts
will show that his account of the basaltic rocks of Antrim may still be
read with interest and profit.

As an antiquarian, Hamilton touches on the evidences of early culture in
Ireland. He mentions the large number of exquisitely wrought gold
ornaments found in the bogs, and translates for us a poem of St.
Donatus, which, although doubtless a fancy sketch, shows the reputation
enjoyed by the island in the ninth century.

    "Far westward lies an isle of ancient fame
    By nature bless'd, and Scotia is her name,
    An island rich--exhaustless is her store
    Of veiny silver and of golden ore;
    Her fruitful soil for ever teems with wealth,
    With gems her waters, and her air with health.
    Her verdant fields with milk and honey flow,
    Her woolly fleeces vie with virgin snow;
    Her waving furrows float with bearded corn,
    And arms and arts her envy'd sons adorn.
    No savage bear with lawless fury roves,
    No rav'ning lion thro' her sacred groves;
    No poison there infects, no scaly snake
    Creeps through the grass, nor frog annoys the lake.
    An island worthy of its pious race,
    In war triumphant, and unmatch'd in peace."[116]

In referring to the doctrines and practices of the ancient Irish
Church, Hamilton enters on the field of controversy. It shows how widely
his book was known when we find the _Giornale Ecclesiastico_ of Rome
taking exception to some of his views. This criticism led to the
insertion in the second edition of the work, of a letter[117] dealing
more fully with ecclesiastical matters. The reasoning, even when
supported by the high authority of Archbishop Ussher, may possibly fail
to convince us of the identity of the Church of St. Patrick and St.
Columba with the Church of the Reformation; but we shall find abundant
proof of the vigour and independence which characterized not only the
early monks, but the Irish schoolmen of the Middle Ages.

Before this letter was published, Hamilton had accepted the living of
Clondevaddock in Donegal, and had taken up his abode amid the wild but
beautiful scenery surrounding Mulroy Bay. Here he expected to spend a
tranquil life, watching over the education of his large family, and
combining with his clerical duties the pursuit of science and
literature. In a favourable situation for observing variations of
temperature and the action of rain, wind, and tide, he pursued the
investigation of a subject which had already engaged his attention
before leaving Dublin. In a memoir[118] published after his death he
suggests that the cutting down of the forests may have affected a
sensible change in the climate of Ireland, and gives several instances
of the encroachment of the sea sand on fertile and inhabited land.
Perhaps the most striking is that of the town of Bannow in Wexford. It
was a flourishing borough in the early part of the seventeenth century,
while in his day the site was marked only by a few ruins, appearing
above heaps of barren sand, and where at the time of an election a
fallen chimney was used as the council table of that ancient and loyal

When we read the closing pages of this paper it is difficult to believe
that troubled times were so near at hand; and even when he wrote his
"Letters on the French Revolution," Hamilton could not have foreseen
that he was soon to fall before the same spirit of wild vengeance, which
claimed so many noble victims on the banks of the Seine and the Loire.

He acted as magistrate as well as clergyman, and during nearly seven
years he was treated with respect and confidence by the people among
whom he lived. No doubt the majority of them did not regard him as their
pastor, but they appreciated his efforts for their temporal welfare; we
are told that the country was advancing in industry and prosperity, and
remained tranquil when other parts of Ulster were greatly disturbed. At
last, however, the revolutionary wave reached this remote district, and
a trivial incident inflamed the minds of the inhabitants against Dr.

On Christmas night, 1796, while the memorable storm which in the south
drove the French fleet from Bantry Bay was at its height, a brig, laden
with wine from Oporto, was shipwrecked on the coast of Fanet, not far
from Dr. Hamilton's dwelling. In those days the peasantry regarded
whatever was brought to them by the sea as lawful booty, and were little
disposed to brook the interference of magistrate or clergyman. We are
told "that Dr. Hamilton's active exertions on this melancholy occasion
gave rise to feelings of animosity on the part of some of his
parishioners." This animosity was fomented by popular agitators. A
stormy period ensued. One evening a band of insurgents surrounded the
parsonage demanding the release of some prisoners, and for more than
twenty-four hours the house was closely besieged. Two of the servants
made their way with difficulty to the beach, hoping to escape by sea and
bring succour from Derry, but they found holes had been bored in the
boats, which rendered them unserviceable. Dr. Hamilton acted with much
courage and coolness. He refused to accede to the demands of his
assailants, saying he was not to be intimidated by men acting in open
violation of the laws; at the same time, by repressing the ardour of the
guard of soldiers, he showed his anxiety to prevent bloodshed. In
company with a naval officer, he undertook the perilous task of passing
in disguise through the rebel cordon, and returned with a body of
militia. On seeing this reinforcement, the peasantry lost courage, and,
throwing away their arms, dispersed quickly to their homes, so that the
victory was achieved without loss of life.

The country now became apparently more tranquil, and in early spring Dr.
Hamilton paid a visit to the Bishop of the diocese at Raphoe. He was
returning to his parish, when the roughness of the weather delayed his
crossing Lough Swilly, and he turned aside to see a brother clergyman
near Fahan. He was easily prevailed upon to pass the night in the
hospitable rectory of Sharon, and no doubt the visit of an old college
friend was hailed with delight by the crippled Dr. Waller, whose
infirmities obliged him to lead a secluded life. Probably the
conversation turned on the state of the country; Dr. Waller, his wife,
and her niece would inquire about the perils from which their guest had
recently escaped. Perhaps they would congratulate themselves on the
security of their neighbourhood compared with the wilder parts of
Donegal. Suddenly the tramp of a band of men was heard. It is said that
Dr. Hamilton's quick ear first caught the sound, and knew it to be his
death-knell; but he was not the only victim--his hostess fell before
him. Let us hear the story of that terrible tragedy as it was reported
to the Irish House of Commons. Speaking on March 6, 1797, four days
after the event, Dr. Brown said:

"As that gentleman (Dr. Hamilton) was sitting with the family in Mr.
Waller's house, several shots were fired in upon them, the house was
broken open, and Mrs. Waller, in endeavouring to protect her helpless
husband by covering him with her body, was murdered. Mr. Hamilton, from
the natural love of life, had taken refuge in the lower apartments.
Thence they forced him, and as he endeavoured to hold the door they held
fire under his hand until they made him quit his hold. They then dragged
him a few yards from the house, and murdered him in the most inhuman and
barbarous manner."[119]

From a letter written by Dr. Hall to the _Gentleman's Magazine_ (March,
1797), we learn that the assassins retired unmolested and undiscovered.
Nor were any of them ever brought to justice, although popular
tradition, among both Catholics and Protestants, says that misfortune
dogged their footsteps, and each one of them came to an untimely end.
Dr. Hamilton's body remained exposed during the night, and was only
removed the following morning, when it was taken to Londonderry and
interred in the Cathedral graveyard. Here his name is recorded on the
family tombstone; and in 1890 his descendants erected a tablet to his
memory in the chancel of the Cathedral.

Hamilton obtained the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1794, and shortly
before his death he was elected a Corresponding Member of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh. We have seen how he was cut off in the full vigour
of mind and body--his last memoir unprinted--and surely we may echo the
lament of his contemporaries, and feel that he was one who had conferred
honour on his native land. Yet, while they mourned his loss as a public
calamity, his friends would recall his words, and remember that to him
death was but the entrance to a new life--the casting away of a covering
which formed no part of his true self.


[109] Reprinted from the _Sun_, May, 1891.

[110] See Letter I., part ii., edition 1822.

[111] Letter VI., part ii., pp. 183, 184. Compare with this
passage the following enunciation of the results of modern geological
investigation. "A marked feature of this period in Europe was the
abundance and activity of its volcanoes.... From the south of Antrim,
through the west coast of Scotland, the Faröe Islands and Iceland, even
far into Arctic Greenland, a vast series of fissure eruptions poured
forth successive floods of basalt, fragments of which now form the
extensive volcanic plateaux of these regions." (Sir A. Geikie,
"Geological Sketches at Home and Abroad," pp. 347, 348).

[112] Hamilton uses this word in its old meaning of rock or
stone. He expressly states that basalt does not contain the slightest
trace of animal or vegetable remains.

[113] Letter VII., part ii., pp. 187, 188, 189.

[114] See "Collected Papers," p. 430, edited by Sir Joseph
Larmor, Sec. R.S., M.P., and James Thomson, M.A.

[115] Letter VII., part ii., p. 194.

[116] Letter IV., part i., p. 52.

[117] Letter V, part i.

[118] See Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. vi., p.

[119] See report in the _Belfast Newsletter_, March 6-10,


  Abbott, W. J. Lewis, F.G.S., 99, 100

  Abernethy Round Tower, 57

  Aino, 42

  Antrim, old fort at, 36

  Ardtole souterrain, vi

  Armoy, 26, 90

  Arranmore, 82

  Backaderry souterrain, 7

  Ballycairn Fort, 37, 38, 41

  Ballycastle, 39, 50, 89

  Ballyginney Fort and Souterrain, 7, 8

  Ballyliffan, 52, 55

  Ballymagreehan Fort and Souterrain, 6

  Balor, 73-76, 79

  Banshee, 31, 35, 42, 43, 56, 78

  Beddoe, Dr., 100, 101

  Bell, Robert, 97

  Boyle, Owen, saves bride from fairies, 68-71

  Bridget, Eve of St., 17, 18

  Brownie, 51, 89

  Burglauenen, destruction of, 53

  Bury, Professor, 61

  Cailleagh, 19

  Campbell, J. F., 79, 80

  Castlewellan, 6, 7

  Chope, R. Pearse, B.A., 19, 20

  "Churn," 19, 20

  Cinderella, 47

  Clark, Miss Jane, 22

  Coal-mines, ancient, near Ballycastle, 39, 107-8

  Columbkill, St., 63, 83

  Cowan, Rev. Dr., 86, 87

  Cruithnians, 58

  Culdaff, 53

  Culnady, 21, 22

  Cushendall, 89, 98

  Danes, 8-11, 28-31, 34, 37-42, 45, 51, 57, 77, 78, 88, 89, 102, 104

  Derrick's Image of Ireland, 44, 45

  Donaghmore, Co. Down, souterrain at, 86, 87

  Donatus, St., poem describing Scotia or Ireland, 112

  Downpatrick, rath at, 22, 36

  Drumcrow, 27

  Drury, Mrs. Susanna, 108

  Dunglady Fort, 21, 22

  Dunloe, Gap of, 10

  Emania, 41

  Fair Head, 49, 107, 108

  Fairies, capture of women and children by, 26, 69-73
    compared with African pygmies, 33, 34
    dress of, 27, 88
    a dwarf race, 13, 45, 104
    dwelling under sea, 52, 53
    inhabit forts and souterrains, 8, 31, 36, 86
    intermarriage with the human race, 65 _et seq._
    vanish, 25, 34

  Fanshawe, Lady, 42, 43

  Fargowan, 79

  Fiacc's hymn, 61

  Finglas, 79

  Finn McCoul, 48-50, 76, 79, 90-95, 108

  Finn, Lough, 79

  Finns, 64, 78

  Finntown, 65

  Finvoy, 86

  Frazer, J. G., D.C.L., 20, 21

  Friel, John, saves young girl from the fairies, 71

  Gempeler, D., 53

  Giants, 79, 89, 90, 96, 99

  Giant's Causeway, 50, 90, 105, 108-111

  Glasdrumman Fort, 97, 98

  Glenties, 65, 66, 79

  Goll, 91

  Gomme, Sir G. L., 54, 84, 85

  Gottwerg and Gottwergini, 52, 54

  Gray, John, B.Sc., 102, 104

  Greenmount, Mote at, 36, 37, 40

  Grey Man of the Path, 49

  Grogach, 47, 50, 51, 57, 89, 99, 104

  Gweedore, 68, 75

  Ham, 32, 60, 73

  Hamilton, Rev. W., D.D., F.T.C.D., 39, 105-118

  Hanauer, Rev. J. E., 67

  Harbison, Mann, 8, 11, 12

  Harris, 59, 60

  Harvest knots, 18, 19

  Heather ale, 28, 29, 41

  Herd (David), 13

  Herman's Fort and Souterrain, 6, 7

  Hobson, Mrs., viii, 30

  Hunt, B., 72

  Hyde, Dr. Douglas, 71

  Infant carried off by fairies, but saved by father, 72, 73

  Jegerlehner, Dr. J., 52, 54

  Johnston, Sir Harry, 33, 34, 80

  Keating, 60, 88, 103

  Killelagh Church, 14, 15

  Kilrea, 23

  Kincasslagh, 68, 70, 78

  Knockdhu, souterrain at, 30

  Kollmann, Professor Julius, v, 59, 61, 62

  Lenagh Townland, fort blown up, 97

  Leprechaun, Lupracan, Luchorpan, 10, 32

  Leslie, Rev. J. B., 9, 37

  London Bridge legend, 84, 85

  Luchter, 18

  Lurach, St., church of, 22

  Lytle, S. D., vi, 16

  Maghera, Co. Down, 4, 7

  Maghera, Co. Londonderry, 14-23

  Manannan, 49, 95, 96

  McKean, E. J., B.A., 19, 41

  McKenna, Daniel, 14, 17, 18

  MacKenzie, W. C., F.S.A.Scot., 58

  MacRitchie, David, F.S.A.Scot., v, 12, 28, 29, 42, 57, 58, 96

  Marshall, Dr. Eric, 81

  Mortar, cemented with the blood of bullocks, 15

  Mourne Mountains, 2, 28

  Munro, Dr., 12

  Neosophers, 107

  New Guinea, pygmies in, 80, 81

  Niederdorf, destruction of, 53, 54

  Nuesch, Dr., 61

  O'Donovan, Dr., 22, 75, 76, 103

  O'Grady, Standish H., 32, 44, 61

  O'Neill, Phelim, castle of, 15

  Oughter, Lough, 9

  Palæolithic man, 59, 99, 100

  Palæosophers, 107

  Patrick, St., 61, 63, 83

  Pechts, 15, 16, 27, 31, 50, 57, 78, 99, 102, 104

  Pennant, 29

  Piskey Dwarfs of Cornwall, 101

  Portstewart, 19, 38, 67

  Rathlin Island, 90, 107

  Red hair ascribed to fairies and Danes, 2, 9, 34, 37, 100
    possibly the original hair colour in Europe, 100

  Rhys, Sir John, 67, 101

  Rochefort, Jorevin de, 40, 41

  Roe, Valley of the, 19, 96, 97

  Rosapenna, 65, 67, 71

  Roughan Castle, 15

  Rowan tree, 27

  Rush crosses, 17, 18

  Schaffhausen, skeletons of dwarfs discovered near, v, 61, 62, 104

  Seals, belief that human beings could change into, 81, 82

  Sealskin of Finn woman, 96

  Sea sand, encroachment on land, 114

  Smith, Dr. Robertson, 34, 35

  Smith, Rev. Frederick, 99

  Sidh, 44, 61

  Sidis, 61

  Silva Gadelica, 32, 44, 61

  Souterrains, 6-8, 16, 30, 31, 36-41, 86, 87

  Spy, men of, 12, 13

  Staffa, 50

  Stone circles at Aghlish, 97

  Stranocum, souterrain at, 8

  Sweeney, John, 82

  Sword of light, 93, 94

  Thomson, Professor James, 110

  Tobermore, 17

  Todas, 54

  Tormore, 73

  Tory Island, 73-76, 88, 96

  Tuatha de Danann, 11, 12, 18, 29, 77, 102, 103

  Tullamore Park, 2, 3

  Wee, wee man, 13

  Whitley, Rev. Gath, 101

  Windele, John, 40



Transcriber's Note

Illustrations have been moved near the relevant section of the text.

Inconsistencies have been retained in spelling, hyphenation and grammar,
except where indicated in the list below:

  - "FAIRHEAD" changed to "FAIR HEAD" on Page xiii
  - Period added after "inches" on Page 16
  - Bracket added after "1854" in Footnote 8
  - Period changed to comma after "304" in Footnote 13
  - Comma changed to period after "1906" in Footnote 15
  - Quote added before "furnished" on Page 89
  - Period added after "669" in Footnote 103
  - Period and quote added after "regions" in Footnote 111
  - Period removed after "104"  in Page 119
  - Period added after "B" on Page 120
  - "Niederdorff" changed to "Niederdorf" on Page 120

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