Gods and Fighting Men – Lady Gregory .

deidreFight with the Firbolgs

It was in a mist the Tuatha de Danaan, the people of the gods of Dana, or as some called them, the Men of Dea, came through the air and the high air to Ireland.
It was from the north they came; and in the place they came from they had four cities, where they fought their battle for learning: great Falias, and shining Gorias, and Finias, and rich Murias that lay to the south. And in those cities they had four wise men to teach their young men skill and knowledge and perfect wisdom: Senias in Murias; and Arias, the fair-haired poet, in Finias; and Urias of the noble nature in Gorias; and Morias in Falias itself. And they brought from those four cities their four treasures: a Stone of Virtue from Falias, that was called the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny; and from Gorias they brought a Sword; and from Finias a Spear of Victory; and from Murias the fourth treasure, the Cauldron that no company ever went away from unsatisfied.
It was Nuada was king of the Tuatha de Danaan at that time, but Manannan, son of Lir, was greater again. And of the others that were chief among them were Ogma, brother to the king, that taught them writing, and Diancecht, that understood healing, and Neit, a god of battle, and Credenus the Craftsman, and Goibniu the Smith. And the greatest among their women were Badb, a battle goddess; and Macha, whose mast-feeding was the heads of men killed in battle; and the Morrigu, the Crow of Battle; and Eire and Podia and Banba, daughters of the Dagda, that all three gave their names to Ireland afterwards; and Eadon, the nurse of poets; and Brigit, that was a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that, and a woman of smith’s work, and it was she first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night. And’ the one side of her face was ugly, but the other side was very comely. And the meaning of her name was Breo-saighit, a fiery arrow. And among the other women there were many shadow-forms and great queens; but Dana, that was called the Mother of the Gods, was beyond them all.
And the three things they put above all others were the plough and the sun and the hazel-tree, so that it was said in the time to come that Ireland was divided between those three, Coil the hazel, and Cecht the plough, and Grian the sun.
And they had a well below the sea where the nine hazels of wisdom were growing; that is, the hazels of inspiration and of the knowledge of poetry. And their leaves and their blossoms would break out in the same hour, and would fall on the well in a shower that raised a purple wave. And then the five salmon that were waiting there would eat the nuts, and their colour would come out in the red spots of their skin, and any person that would eat one of those salmon would know all wisdom and all poetry. And there were seven streams of wisdom that sprang from that well and turned back to it again; and the people of many arts have all drank from that well.
It was on the first day of Beltaine, that is called now May Day, the Tuatha de Danaan came, and it was to the north-west of Connacht they landed. But the Firbolgs, the Men of the Bag, that were in Ireland before them, and that had come from the South, saw nothing but a mist, and it lying on the hills.
Eochaid, son of Erc, was king of the Firbolgs at that time, and messengers came to him at Teamhair, and told him there was a new race of people come into Ireland, but whether from the earth or the skies or on the wind was not known, and that they had settled themselves at Magh Rein.
They thought there would be wonder on Eochaid when he heard that news; but there was no wonder on him, for a dream had come to him in the night, and when he asked his Druids the meaning of the dream, it is what they said, that it would not be long till there would be a strong enemy coming against him.
Then King Eochaid took counsel with his chief advisers, and it is what they agreed, to send a good champion of their own to see the strangers and to speak with them. So they chose out Sreng, that was a great fighting man, and he rose up and took his strong red-brown shield, and his two thick-handled spears, and his sword, and he set out from Teamhair, and went on towards the place the. strangers were, at Magh Rein.
But before he reached it, the watchers of the Tuatha de Danaan got sight of him, and they sent out one of their own champions, Bres, with his shield and his sword and his two spears, to meet him and to talk with him.
So the two champions went one towards the other slowly, and keeping a good watch on one another, and wondering at one another’s arms, till they came near enough for talking; and then they stopped, and each put his shield before his body and struck it hard into the ground, and they looked at one another over the rim. Bres was the first to speak, and when Sreng heard it was Irish he was talking, his own tongue, he was less uneasy, and they drew nearer, and asked questions as to one another’s family and race.
And after a while they put their shields away, and it was what Sreng said, that he had raised his in dread of the thin, sharp spears Bres had in his hand. And Bres said he himself was in dread of the thick-handled spears he saw with Sreng, and he asked were all the aims of the Firbolgs of the same sort. And Sreng took off the tyings of his spears to show them better, and Bres wondered at them, being so strong and so heavy, and so sharp at the sides though they had no points. And Sreng told him the name of those spears was Craisech, and that they would break through shields and crush flesh and bones, so that their thrust was death or wounds that never healed. And then he looked at the sharp, thin, hard-pointed spears that were with Bres. And in the end they made an exchange of spears, the way the fighters on each side would see the weapons the others were used to. And it is the message Bres sent to the Firbolgs, that if they would give up one half of Ireland, his people would be content to take it in peace; but if they would not give up that much, there should be a battle. And he and Sreng said to one another that whatever might happen in the future, they themselves would be friends.
Sreng went back then to Teamhair and gave the message and showed the spear; and it is what he advised his people, to share the country and not to go into battle with a people that had weapons so much better than their own. But Eochaid and his chief men consulted together, and they said in the end: “We will not give up the half of the country to these strangers; for if we do,” they said, “they will soon take the whole.”
Now as to the Men of Dea, when Bres went back to them, and showed them the heavy spear, and told them of the strong, fierce man he had got it from, and how sturdy he was and well armed, they thought it likely there would soon be a battle. And they went back from where they were to a better place, farther west in Connacht, and there they settled themselves, and made walls and ditches on the plain of Magh Nia, where they had the great mountain, Belgata, in their rear. And while they were moving there and Putting up their walls, three queens of them, Badb and Macha and the Morrigu, went to Teamhair where the Firbolgs were making their plans. And by the power of their enchantments they brought mists and clouds of darkness over the whole place, and they sent showers of fire and of blood over the people, the way they could not see or speak with one another through the length of three days. But at the end of that time, the three Druids of the Firbolgs, Cesarn and Gnathach and Ingnathach, broke the enchantment.
The Firbolgs gathered their men together then, and they came with their eleven battalions and took their stand at the eastern end of the plain of Magh Nia.
And Nuada, king of the Men of Dea, sent his poets to make the same offer he made before, to be content with the half of the country if it was given up to him. King Eochaid bade the poets to ask an answer of his chief men that were gathered there; and when they heard the offer they would not consent. So the messengers asked them when would they begin the battle. “We must have a delay,” they said; “for we want time to put our spears and our armour in order, and to brighten our helmets and to sharpen our swords, and to have spears made like the ones you have. And as to yourselves,” they said, “you will be wanting to have spears like our Craisechs made for you.” So they agreed then to make a delay of a quarter of a year for preparation.
It was on a Midsummer day they began the battle. Three times nine hurlers of the Tuatha de Danaan went out against three times nine hurlers of the Firbolgs, and they were beaten, and every one of them was killed. And the king, Eochaid, sent a messenger to ask would they have the battle every day or every second day. And it is what Nuada answered that they would have it every day, but there should be just the same number of men fighting on each side. Eochaid agreed to that, but he was not well pleased, for there were more men of the Firboigs than of the Men of Dea.
So the battle went on for four days, and there were great feats done on each side, and a great many champions came to their death. But for those that were alive at evening, the physicians on each side used to make a bath of healing, with every sort of healing plant or herb in it, the way they would be strong and sound for the next day’s fight.
And on the fourth day the Men of Dea got the upper hand, and the Firbolgs were driven back. And a great thirst came on Eochaid, their king, in the battle, and he went off the field looking for a drink, and three fifties of his men protecting him; but three fifties of the Tuatha de Danaan followed after them till they came to the strand that is called Traigh Eothaile, and they had a fierce fight there, and at the last King Eochaid fell, and they buried him there, and they raised a great heap of stones over his grave.
And when there were but three hundred men left of the eleven battalions of the Firbolgs, and Sreng at the head of them, Nuada offered them peace, and their choice among the five provinces of Ireland. And Sreng said they would take Connacht; and he and his people lived there and their children after them. It is of them Ferdiad came afterwards that made such a good fight against Cuchulain, and Erc, son Of Cairbre, that gave him his death. And that battle, that was the first fought in Ireland by the Men of Dea, was called by some the first battle of Magh Tuireadh.
And the Tuatha de Danaan took possession of Teamhair, that was sometimes called Druim Cain, the Beautiful Ridge, and Liathdruim, the Grey Ridge, and Druim na Descan, the Ridge of the Outlook, all those names were given to Teamhair. And from that time it was above all other places, for its king was the High King over all Ireland. The king’s rath lay to the north, and the Hill of the Hostages to the north-east of the High Seat, and the Green of Teamhair to the west of the Hill of the Hostages. And to the northeast, in the Hill of the Sidhe, was a well called Nemnach, and out of it there flowed a stream called Nith, and on that stream the first mill was built in Ireland.
And to the north of the Hill of the Hostages was the stone, the Lia Fail, and it used to roar under the feet of every king that would take possession of Ireland. And the Wall of the Three Whispers was near the House of the Women that had seven doors to the east, and seven doors to the west; and it is in that house the feasts of Team-hair used to be held. And there was the Great House of a Thousand Soldiers, and near it, to the south, the little Hill of the Woman Soldiers.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregoryThe Fighting of the Friends

Lady Gregory’s Works:

“One time on Hy, one Brito of Columcille’s brotherhood was dying, and Columcille gave him his blessing but would not see him die, and went out into the little court of the house. And he had hardly gone out when the life went from Brito. And Columcille was out in the little court, and one of the monks saw him looking upward, and wonder on him, and he asked what was it he saw. And Columcille said, ‘I have seen just at this moment the holy angels fighting in the air against the power of the enemy, and I gave thanks to Christ, the Judge, because the winning angels have carried to heaven the soul of this stranger that is the first to have died among us in this island. And do not tell his secret to any person in my lifetime,’ he said.”
–“Saints and Wonders.”

“With that King Arthur entereth into a great forest adventurous, and rideth the day long until he cometh about evensong into the thick of the forest. And he espied a little house beside a little chapel, and it well seemed to him to be a hermitage… And it seemed to him that there was a strife in the chapel. The ones were weeping so tenderly and sweetly as it were angels, and the others spake so harshly as it were fiends …. The voices ceased as soon as he was within. He marvelleth how it came that this house and hermitage were solitary, and what had become of the hermit that dwelt therein. He drew nigh the altar of the chapel, and beheld in front thereof a coffin all discovered, and he saw the hermit lying therein all clad in his vestments, and his hands crossed upon his breast, and he had life in him yet, but he was nigh his end, being at the point of death … The King departed and so returned back into the little house, and sate him down on a seat whereon the hermit wont to sit. And he heareth the strife and the noise begin again within the chapel, and the ones he heareth speaking high and the others low, and he knoweth well by the voices that the ones are angels and the others devils. And he heareth that the devils are distraining on the hermit’s soul, and that judgment will presently be given in their favour, whereof make they great joy. King Arthur is grieved in his heart when he heareth that the angels’ voices are stilled. And while he sitteth thus, stooping his head toward the ground, full of vexation and d’scon tent, he heareth in the chapel the voice of a Lady that spake so sweet and clear that no man in this earthly world, were his grief and heaviness never so sore, but and he had heard the sweet voice of her pleading would again have been in joy… The devils go their way all discomfit and aggrieved; and the sweet Mother of our Lord God taketh the soul of the ……. And the angels take it and begin to sing for joy ‘Te Deum Laudamus.’ And the Holy Lady leadeth them and goeth her way along with them.”
–“The High History of the Holy Grail.” Translated by Sebastian Evans.

Before I had read this old story from “The High History of the Holy Grail” I had heard on our own roads of the fighting at the hour of death, and how the friends of the dying among the dead come and use their strength on his side, and I had been shown here and there a house where such a fight had taken place. In the old days it was a king or saint who saw and heard this unearthly battle; but now it is not those who live in palaces who are aware of it, and it is not around the roof of a fair chapel the hosts of good and evil gather in combat for the parting soul, but around the thatched and broken roof of the poor.

I was told by An Islander:

There are more of the Sheogue in America than what there are here, and more of other sort of spirits. There was a man from there told me that one night in America he had brought his wife’s niece that was sick back from the hospital, and had put her in an upper room. And in the evening they heard a scream from her and she called out “The room is full of them, and my father is with them, and my aunt.” And he drove them away and used the devil’s name and cursed them. And she was left quiet that night, but the next day she said “I’ll be destroyed altogether tonight with them.” And he said he’d keep them out, and he locked the door of the house. And towards midnight he heard them coming to the door and trying to get in, but he kept it locked and he called to them by way of the keyhole to keep away out of that. And there was talking among them, and the girl that was upstairs said that she could hear the laugh of her father and of her aunt. And they heard the greatest fighting among them that ever was, and after that they went away, and the girl got well. That’s what often happens, crying and fighting for one that’s sick or going to die.

Mrs. Meagher:

There was an old woman the other day was telling me of a little girl that was put to bake a cake, for her mother was sick in the room. And when she turned away her head for a minute the cake was gone. And that happened the second day and the third, and the mother was vexed when she heard it, thinking some of the neighbours had come and taken it away.
But the next day an old man appeared, and she knew he was the grandfather, and he said “It’s by me the cake was taken, for I was watching the house these three nights when I knew there was some one sick in it. And you never heard such a fight as there was for her last night, and they would have brought her away but for me that had my shoulder to the door.” And the woman began to recover from that time.

Tom Smith:

There does often be fighting when a person is dying. John Madden’s wife that lived in this house before I came to it, the night she died there was a noise heard, that all the village thought that every wall of every garden round about was falling down. But in the morning there was no sign of any of them being fallen.
And Hannay that lived at Caliir, the bonesetter, when I went to him one time told me that one night late he was walking the road near Ardrahan. And they heard a great noise of fighting in the castle he was passing by, and no one living in it and it open to the sky. And he turned in and was going up the stairs, and a lady in a white dress stopped him and wouldn’t let him pass up. But the next day he went to look and he found the floor all covered with blood.
And before John Casey’s death, John Leeson asked me one day were we fighting down at our place, for he heard a great noise of fighting the night before.

A Farmer:

As to fighting for those that are dying, I’d believe in that. There was a girl died not far from here, and the night of her death there was heard in the air the sound of an army marching, and the drurns beating, and it stopped over the house where she was lying sick. And they could see no one, but could hear the drums and the marching plain enough, and there were like little flames of lightning playing about it.
Did they fight for Johnny Casey? No, believe me it’s not among the faeries Johnny Casey is. Too old he is for them to want him among them, and too cranky.
I would hardly believe they’d take the old, but we can’t know what they might want of them. And it’s well to have a friend among them, and it’s always said you have no right to fret if your children die, for it’s well to have them there before you. And when a person is dying the friends and the others will often come about the house and will give a great challenge for him. They don’t want cross people, and they won’t take you if you say so much as one cross word. It’s only the good and the pious they want. Now isn’t that very good of them?


There was a young man I knew died, a fine young man, twenty-five years of age. He was seven or eight days ill, and the night he died they could hear fighting around the house, and they heard voices but they couldn’t know what they were saying. And in the morning the ground was all covered with blood.
When Connors the young policeman died, sure the mother said she never heard such fighting as went on within the house. And there was blood splashed high up on the walls. They never let on how he got the touch, but I suppose they knew it them-selves.

A Gatekeeper:

There was a girl near Westport was away, and the way it came on her was, she was on the road one day and two men passed her, and one of them said, “That’s a fine girl,” and the other said, “She belongs to my town,” and there and then she got a pain in her knee, and couldn’t walk home but had to be brought in a car. And she used to be away at night, and thorns in her feet in the morning, but she never said where she went. But one time the sister brought her to Kilfenora, and when they were crossing a bog near to there, she pointed out a house in the bog, and she said “It’s there I was last night.” And the sister asked did she know any one she saw in it, and she said “There was one I know, that is my mother’s cousin,” and she told her name. And she said “But for her they’d have me ill-treated, but she fought for me and saved me.” She was thought to be dying one time and given over, and my mother sent me to see her, and how was she. And she was lying on the bed and her eyes turned back, and she speechless, and I told my mother when I came home she hadn’t an hour to live. And the next day she was up and about and not a thing on her. It might be the mother’s cousin that fought for her again there. She went to America after.

An Aran Woman:

There’s often fighting heard about the house where one is sick, that is what we call “the fighting of the friends” for we believe it is the friends and the enemies of the sick person fighting for him.
I knew a house where there were a good many sleeping one night, and in the morning there was blood on the threshold, and the clothes of those that slept on the floor had blood on them. And it wasn’t long after that the woman of the house took sick and died.
One night there was one of the boys very sick within, and in the morning the grandmother said she heard a great noise of fighting in the night about the door. And she said: “If it hadn’t been for Michael and John being drowned, you’d have lost Martin last night. For they were there fighting for him; I heard them, and I saw the shadow of Michael, but when I turned to take hold of him he was gone.”

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregorySea Stories

Lady Gregory’s Works:

“The Celtic Twilight” was the first book of Mr. Yeats’s that I read, and even before I met him, a little time later, I had begun looking for news of the invisible world; for his stories were of Sligo and I felt jealous for Galway. This beginning of know-ledge was a great excitement to me, for though I had heard all my life some talk of the faeries and the banshee (have indeed reason to believe in this last), I had never thought of giving heed to what I, in common with my class, looked on as fancy or superstition. It was certainly because of this unbelief that I had been told so little about them. Even when I began to gather these stories, I eared less for the evidence given in them than for the beautiful rhythmic sentences in which they were told. I had no theories, no case to prove, I but “held up a clean mirror to tradition.”
It is hard to tell sometimes what has been a real vision and what is tradition, a legend hanging in the air, a “vanity” as our people call it, made use of by a story-teller here and there, or impressing itself as a real experience on some sensitive and imaginative mind. For tradition has a large place in “the Rook of the People” showing a sowing and re-sowing, a continuity and rebirth as in nature. “Those,” “The Others,” “The Fallen Angels” have some of the attributes of the gods of ancient Ireland; we may even go back yet farther to the early days of the world when the Sons of God mated with the Daughters of Men. I believe that if Christianity could be blotted out and forgotten tomorrow, our people would not be moved at all from the belief in a spiritual world and an unending life; it has been with them since the Druids taught what Lucan called “the happy error of the immortality of the soul” I think we found nothing so trivial in our search but it may have been worth the lifting; a clue, a thread, leading through the maze to that mountain top where things visible and invisible meet.
To gather folk-lore one needs, I think, leisure, patience, reverence, and a good memory. I tried not to change or alter anything, but to write down the very words in which the story had been told. Sometimes Mr. Yeats was with me at the telling; or I would take him to hear for himself something I had been told, that he might be sure I had missed or added nothing. I filled many copybooks, and came to have a very faithful memory for all sides of folk-lore, stories of saints, of heroes, of giants and enchanters, as well as for these visions. For this I have had to “pay the penalty” by losing in some measure that useful and practical side of memory that is concerned with names and dates and the multiplication table, and the numbers on friends’ houses in a street.
It was on the coast I began to gather these stories, and l went after a while to the islands Inishmor, Inishmaan, Inisheer, and so I give the sea-stories first.
I was told by:

A Man on the Height near Dun Conor:

   It’s said there’s everything in the sea the same as on the land, and we know there’s horses in it. This boy here saw a horse one time out in the sea, a grey one, swimming about. And there were three men from the north island caught a horse in their nets one night when they were fishing for mackerel, but they let it go; it would have broke the boat to bits if they had brought it in, and anyhow they thought it was best to leave it. One year at Kinvara, the people were missing their oats that was eaten in the fields, and they watched one night and it was five or six of the sea-horses they saw eating the oats, but they could not take them, they made off to the sea.
And there was a man on the north island fishing on the rocks one time, and a mermaid came up before him, and was partly like a fish and the rest like a woman. But he called to her in the name of God to be off, and she went and left him.
There was a boy was sent over here one morning early by a friend of mine on the other side of the island, to bring over some cattle that were in a field he had here, and it was before daylight, and he came to the door crying, and said he heard thirty horses or more galloping over the roads there, where you’d think no horse could go.
Surely those things are on the sea as well as on the land. My father was out fishing one night off Tyrone and something came beside the boat, that had eyes shining like candles. And then a wave came in, and a storm rose of a moment, and whatever was in the wave, the weight of it had like to sink the boat. And then they saw that it was a woman in the sea that had the shining eyes. So my father went to the priest, and he bid him always to take a drop of holy water and a pinch of salt out in the boat with him, and nothing would harm him.

A Galway Bay Lobster-Seller:

   They are on the sea as well as on the land, and their boats are often to be seen on the bay sailing boats and others. They look like our own, but when you come near them they are gone in an instant [1].
My mother one time thought she saw our own boat come in to the pier with my father and two other men in it, and she got the supper ready, but when she went down to the pier and called them there was nothing there, and the boat didn’t come in till two hours after.
There were three or four men went out one day to fish, and it was a dead calm; but all of a sudden they heard a blast and they looked, and within about three mile of the boat they saw twelve men from the waist, the rest of them was under water. And they had sticks in their hands and were striking one another. And where they were, and the blast, it was rough, but smooth and calm on each side.
There’s a sort of a light on the sea sometimes; some call it a “Jack O’Lantern”  and some say it is sent by them to mislead them.
There’s many of them out in the sea, and often they pull the boats down. It’s about two years since four fishermen went out from Aran, two fathers and two sons, where they saw a big ship corning in and flying the flag for a pilot, and they thought she wanted to be brought in to Galway. And when they got near the ship, it faded away to nothing and the boat turned over and they were all four drowned.
There were two brothers of my own went to fish for the herrings, and what they brought up was like the print of a cat, and it turned with the inside of the skin outside, and no hair. So they pulled up the nets, and fished no more that day. There was one of them lying on the strand here, and some of the men of the village came down of a sudden and surprised him. And when he saw he was taken he began a great crying. But they only lifted him down to the sea and put him back into it. Just like a man they said he was. And a little way out there was another just like him, and when he saw that they treated the one on shore so kindly, he bowed his head as if to thank them.
Whatever’s on the land, there’s the same in the sea, and between the islands of Aran they can often see the horses galloping about at the bottom.
There was a sort of a big eel used to be in Tully churchyard, used to come and to root up the bodies, but I didn’t hear of him of late–he may be done away with now.
There was one Curran told me one night he went down to the strand where he used to be watching for timber thrown up and the like. And on the strand, on the dry sands, he saw a boat, a grand one with sails spread and all, and it up farther than any tide had ever reached. And he saw a great many people round about it, and it was all lighted up with lights. And he got afraid and went away. And four hours after, after sunrise, he went there again to look at it, and there was no sign of it, or of any fire, or of any other thing. The Mara-warra (mermaid) was seen on the shore not long ago, combing out her hair. She had no fish’s tail, but was like another woman.

John Corley:

   There is no luck if you meet a mermaid and you out at sea, but storms will come, or some ill will happen.
There was a ship on the way to America, and a mermaid was seen following it, and the bad weather began to come. And the captain said, “It must be some man in the ship she’s following, and if we knew which one it was, we’d put him out to her and save ourselves.” So they drew lots, and the lot fell on one man, and then the captain was sorry for him, and said he’d give him a chance till tomorrow. And the next day she was following them still, and they drew lots again, and the lot fell on the same man. But the captain said he’d give him a third chance, but the third day the lot fell on him again. And when they were going to throw him out he said, “Let me alone for a while.” And he went to the end of the ship and he began to sing a song in Irish, and when he sang, the mermaid began to be quiet and to rock like as if she was asleep. So he went on singing till they came to America, and just as they got to the land the ship was thrown up into the air, and came down on the water again. There’s a man told me that was surely true.
And there was a boy saw a mermaid down by Spiddal not long ago, but he saw her before she saw him, so she did him no harm. But if she’d seen him first, she’d have brought him away and drowned him.
Sometimes a light will come on the sea before the boats to guide them to the land. And my own brother told me one day he was out and a storm came on of a sudden, and the sail of the boat was let down as quick and as well as if two men were in it. Some neighbour or friend it must have been that did that for him. Those that go down to the sea after the tide going out, to cut the weed, often hear under the sand the sound of the milk being churned. There’s some didn’t believe that till they heard it themselves.

A Man from Roundstone:

   One night I was out on the boat with another man, and we saw a big ship near us with about twenty lights. She was as close to us as that rock (about thirty yards), but we saw no one on board. And she was like some of the French ships that sometimes come to Galway. She went on near us for a while, and then she turned towards the shore and then we knew that she was not a right ship. And she went straight on to the land, and when she touched it, the lights went out and we saw her no more.
There was a comrade of mine was out one night, and a ship came after him, with lights, and she full of people. And as they drew near the land, he heard them shouting at him and he got afraid, and he went down and got a coal of fire and threw it at the ship, and in a minute it was gone.

A Schoolmaster:

   A boy told me last night of two men that went with poteen to the Island of Aran. And when they were on the shore they saw a ship coming as if to land, and they said, “We’ll have the bottle ready for those that are coming.” But when the ship came close to the land, it vanished. And presently they got their boat ready and put to sea. And a sudden blast came and swept one of them off. And the other saw him come up again, and put out the oar across his breast for him to take hold of it. But he would not take it but said, “I’m all right again now,” and sank down again and was never seen no more.

John Nagle:

   For one there’s on the land there’s ten on the sea. When I lived at Ardfry there was never a night but there was a voice heard crying and roaring, by them that were out in the bay. A baker he was from Loughrea, used to give short weight and measure, and so he was put there for a punishment.
I saw a ship that was having a race with another go suddenly down into the sea, and no one could tell why. And afterwards one of the Government divers was sent down to look for her, and he told me he’d never as long as he’d live go down again, for there at the bottom he found her, and the captain and the saloon passengers, and all sitting at the table and eating their dinner, just as they did before.

A Little Girl:

   One time a woman followed a boat from Galway twenty miles out, and when they saw that she was some bad thing, wanting some of them, they drowned her.

Mrs. Casey:

   I was at home and I got some stories from a man I had suspected of having newses. And he told me that when he was a youngster he was at a height where there used to be a great many of them. And all of a sudden he saw them fly out to where a boat was coming from Duras with seaweed. And they went in two flights, and so fast that they swept the water away from each side the boat, and it was left on the sand, and this they did over and over, just to be humbugging the man in the boat, and he was kept there a long time. When they first rose up, they were like clouds of dust, but with all sorts of colours, and then he saw their faces turned, but they kept changing colour every minute. Laughing and humbugging they seemed to be.
My uncle that used to go out fishing for mackerel told me that one night some sort of a monster came under the boat and it wasn’t a fish, and it had them near upset

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

   There was a man on this island was down on the beach one evening with his dog, and some black thing came up out of the sea, and the dog made for it and began to fight it. And the man began to run home and he called the dog, and it followed him, but every now and again it would stop and begin to fight again. And when he got to the house he called the dog in and shut the door, and whatever was outside began hitting against the door but it didn’t get in. But the dog went in under the bed in the room, and before morning it was dead.

The Man of the House:

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

Colman Kane:

   I knew a woman on this island and she and her daughter went down to the strand one morning to pick weed, and a wave came and took the daughter away. And a week after that, the mother saw her coming to the house, but she didn’t speak to her.
There was a man coming from Galway here and he had no boatman. And on the way he saw a man that was behind him in the boat, that was putting up the sail and taking the management of everything, and he spoke no word. And he was with him all the way, but when the boat came to land, he was gone, and the man isn’t sure, but he thinks it was his brother.
You see that sand below on the south side. When the men are out with the mackerel boats at early morning, they often see those sands covered with boys and girls.
There were some men out fishing in the bay one time, and a man came and held on to the boat, and wanted them to make room for him to get in, and after a time he left them. He was one of those. And there was another of them came up on the rocks one day, and called out to Martin Flaherty that was going out and asked what was his name.
There’s said to be another island out there that’s enchanted, and there are some that see it. And it’s said that a fisherman landed on it one time, and he saw a little house, and he went in, and a very nice-looking young woman came out and said, “What will you say to me?” and he said, “You are a very nice lady.” And a second came and asked him the same thing and a third, and he made the same answer. And after that they said, “You’d best run of your life,” and so he did, and his curragh was floating along and he had but just time to get into it, and the island was gone. But if he had said “God bless you,” the island would have been saved.

A Fisherman on Kilronan Pier:

   I don’t give in to these things myself, but they’d make you believe them in the middle island. Mangan, that I lodged with there, told me of seeing a ship when he was out with two other men, that followed them and vanished. And he said one of the men took to his bed from that time and died. And Doran told me about the horse he saw, that was in every way like a horse you’d see on land. And a man on the south island told me how he saw a calf one morning on the strand, and he thought it belonged to a neighbour, and was going to drive it up to his field, when its mother appeared on the sea, and it went off to her.
They are in the sea as well as on the land. That is well known by those that are out fishing by the coast. When the weather is calm, they can look down sometimes and see cattle and pigs and all such things as we have ourselves. And at nights their boats come out and they can be seen fishing, but they never last out after one o’clock.
The cock always crows on the first of March every year at one o’clock. And there was a man brought a cock out with him in his boat to try them. And the first time when it crowed they all vanished. That is how they were detected.
There are more of them in the sea than on the land, and they sometimes try to come over the side of the boat in the form of fishes, for they can take their choice shape.

Pat O’Hagan:

   There was two fine young women–red-haired women–died in my village about six months ago. And I believe they’re living yet. And there are some have seen them appear. All I ever saw myself was one day I was out fishing with two others, and we saw a canoe coming near us, and we were afraid it would come near enough to take away our fish. And as we looked it turned into a three-masted ship, and people in it. I could see them well, dark-coloured and dressed like sailors. But it went away and did us no harm.
One night I was going down to the curragh, and it was a night in harvest, and the stars shining, and I saw a ship fully rigged going towards the coast of Clare where no ship could go. And when I looked again, she was gone.
And one morning early, I and other men that were with me, and one of them a friend of the man here, saw a ship coming to the island, and he thought she wanted a pilot, and put out in the curragh. But when we got to where she was, there was no sign of her, but where she was the water was covered with black gulls, and I never saw a black gull before, thousands and crowds of them, and not one white bird among them. And one of the boys that was with me took a tarpin and threw it at one of the gulls and hit it on the head, and when he did, the curragh went down to the rowlocks in the water-up to that-and it’s nothing but a miracle she ever came up again, but we got back to land. I never went to a ship again, for the people said it was on account of me helping in the Preventive Service it happened, and that if I’d hit at one of the gulls myself, there would have been a bad chance for us. But those were no right gulls, and the ship was no living ship.

The Old Man in the Kitchen:

   It’s in the middle island the most of them are, and I’ll tell you a thing that I know of myself that happened not long ago. There was a young girl, and one evening she was missing, and they made search for her everywhere and they thought that she was drowned or that she had gone away with some man. And in the evening of the next day there was a boy out in a curragh, and as he passed by a rock that is out in the sea there was the girl on it, and he brought her off. And surely she could not go there by herself. I suppose she wasn’t able to give much account of it, and now she’s after going to America.
And in Aran there were three boys and their uncle went out to a ship they saw coming, to pilot her into the bay. But when they got to where she was, there was no ship, and a sea broke over the canoe, and they were drowned, all fine strong men. But a man they had with them that was no use or of no account, he came safe to land. And I know a man in this island saw curraghs and curraghs full of people about the island of a Sunday morning early, but I never saw them myself. And one Sunday morning in my time there were scores and scores lying their length by the sea on the sand below, and they saw a woman in the sea, up to her waist, and she racking her hair and settling herself and as clean and as nice as if she was on land. Scores of them saw that.
There’s a house up there where the family have to leave a plate of potatoes ready every night, and all’s gone in the morning.
They are said to have all things the same as ourselves under the sea, and one day a cow was seen swimming as if for the headland, but before she got to it she turned another way and went down. And one time I got a small muc-warra (porpoise) and I went to cut it up to get what was good of it, for it had about two inches of fat, and when I cut it open the heart and the liver and every bit of it were for all the world like a pig you would cut up on land.
There’s a house in the village close by this that’s haunted. My sister was sitting near it one day, and it empty and locked, and some other little girls, and they heard a noise in it, and at the same time the flags they were sitting on grew red-hot, that they had to leave them. And another time the woman of the house was sick, and a little girl that was sitting by the fire in the kitchen saw standing in the door the sister of the woman that was sick, and she a good while dead, and she put up her arm, as if to tell her not to notice her. And the poor woman of that house, she had no luck, nothing but miscarriages or dead babies. And one child lived to be nine months old, and there was less flesh on it at the end of the nine months than there was the day it was born. She has a little girl now that’s near a year old, but her arm isn’t the size of that, and she’s crabbed and not like a child as she should be. Many a one that’s long married without having a child goes to the fortune-teller in Galway, and those that think anything of themselves go to Roundstone.

A Man near Loughmore:

   I know a woman was washed and laid out, and it went so far that two half-penny candles were burned over her. And then she sat up, came back again, and spoke to her husband, and told him how to divide his property, and to manage the children well. And her step-son began to question her, and he might have got a lot out of her but her own son stopped him and said to let her alone. And then she turned over on her side and died. She was not to say an old woman. It’s not often the old are taken. What use would there be for them? But a woman to be taken young, you know there’s demand for her. It’s the people in the middle island know about these things. There were three boys from there lost in a curragh at the point near the lighthouse, and for long after their friends were tormented when they came there fishing, and they would see ships there when the people of this island that were out at the same time couldn’t see them. There were three or four out in a curragh near the lighthouse, and a conger-eel came and upset it, and they were all saved but one, but he was brought down and for the whole day they could hear him crying and screeching under the sea. And they were not the only ones, but a fisherman that was there from Galway had to go away and leave it, because of the screeching.
There was a coast-guard’s wife there was all but gone, but she was saved after. And there’s a boy here now was for a long time that they’d give the world he was gone altogether, with the state he was in, and now he’s as strong as any boy in the island; and if ever any one was away and came back again, it was him. Children used often to be taken, but there’s a great many charms in use in these days that saves them. A big sewing-needle you’ll see the woman looking for to put back again into the world before they die in the place of some young person. And even a beast of any consequence if anything happens to it, no one in the island would taste it; there might be something in it, some old woman or the like.
There were a few young men from here were kept in Galway for a day, and they went to a woman there that works the cards. And she told them of deaths that would come in certain families. And it wasn’t a fortnight after that five boys were out there, just where you see the curragh now, and they were upset and every one drowned, and they were of the families that she had named on the cards.
My uncle told me that one night they were all up at that house up the road, making a match for his sister, and they stopped till near morning, and when they went out, they all had a drop taken. And he was going along home with two or three others and one of them, Michael Flaherty, said he saw people on the shore. And another of them said that there were not, and my uncle said, “If Flaherty said that and it not true, we have a right to bite the ear off him, and it would be no harm.” And then they parted, and my uncle had to pass by the beach, and then he saw whole companies of people coming up from the sea, that he didn’t know how he’d get through them, but they opened before him and let him pass.
There were men going to Galway with cattle one morning from the beach down there, and they saw a man up to his middle in the sea-all of them saw it.
There was a man was down early for lobsters on the shore at the middle island, and he saw a horse up to its middle in the sea, and bowing its head down as if to drink. And after he had watched it awhile it disappeared.
There was a woman walking over by the north shore-God have mercy on her-she’s dead since-and she looked out and saw an island in the sea, and she was a long time looking at it. It’s known to be there, and to be enchanted, but only few can see it.
There was a man had his horse drawing seaweed up there on the rocks, the way you see them drawing it every day, in a basket on the mare’s back. And on this day every time he put the load on, the mare would let its leg slip and it would come down again, and he was vexed and he bad a stick in his hand and he gave the mare a heavy blow. And that night she had a foal that was dead, not come to its full growth, and it had spots over it, and every spot was of a different colour. And there was no sire on the island at that time, so whatever was the sire must have come up from the sea.

A Man Watching the Weed-gatherers:

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

A Woman from the Connemara Side:

   I was told there was a mare that had a foal, and it had never had a horse. And one day the mare and foal were down by the sea, and a horse put up its head and neighed, and away went the foal to it and came back no more.
And there was a man on this island watched his field one night where he thought the neighbours’ cattle were eating his grass, and what he saw was horses and foals coming up from the sea. And he caught a foal and kept it, and set it racing, and no horse or no pony could ever come near it, till one day the race was on the strand, and away with it into the sea, and the jockey along with it, and they never were seen again.

Mrs O’Dea and Mrs. Daly:

   There was a cow seen come up out of the sea one day and it walked across the strand, and its udder like as if it had been lately milked. And Tommy Donohue was running up to tell his father to come down and see it, and when he looked back it was gone out to sea again.
There was a man here was going to build a new house, and he brought a wise woman to see would it be in the right place. And she made five heaps of stones in five places, and said, “Whatever heap isn’t knocked in the night, build it there.” And in the morning all the heaps were knocked but one, and so he built it there [9].
One time I was out over by that island with another man, and we saw three women standing by the shore, beating clothes with a beetle. And while we looked, they vanished, and then we heard the cry of a child passing over our heads twenty feet in the air.
I know they go out fishing like ourselves, for Father Mahony told me so; and one night I was out myself with my brother, beyond where that ship is, and we heard talk going on, so we knew that a boat was near, and we called out to let them know we heard them, and then we saw the boat and it was just like any other one, and the talk went on, but we couldn’t understand what they were saying. And then I turned to light my pipe, and while I lighted it, the boat and all in it were gone.

Mrs. Casey:

   I got a story from an old man down by the sea at Tyrone. He says there was a man went down one night to move his boat from the shore where it was to the pier. And when he had put out, he found it was going out to sea, instead of to touch the pier, and he felt it very heavy in the water, and he looked behind him and there on the back of the boat were six men in shiny black clothes like sailors, and there was one like a harvest-man dressed in white flannel with a belt round his waist. And he asked what they were doing, and the man in white said he had brought the others out to make away with them there, and he took and cut their bodies in two and threw them one by one over the boat, and then he threw himself after them into the sea. And the boat went under water too, and the poor man himself lost his wits, but it came up again and he said he had never seen as many people as he did in that minute under the water. And then he got home and left the boat, and in the morning he came down to it, and there was blood in it; and first he washed it and then he painted it, but for all he could do, he couldn’t get rid of the blood.

Peter Donohue:

   There was a woman, a friend of this man’s, living out in the middle island, and one day she came down to where a man of this island was putting out his curragh to come back, and she said, “I just saw a great crowd of them–that’s the Sheogue–going over to your island like a cloud.” And when he got home he went up to a house there beyond, where the old woman used to be selling poteen on the sly. And while he was there her little boy came running in and cried, “Hide away the poteen, for the police are on the island! Such a man called to me from his curragh to give warning, for he saw the road full of them with the crowd of them and they with their guns and cutlasses and all the rest.” But the man was in the house first knew well what it was, after what he heard from the woman on the other island, and that they were no right police, and sure enough no other one ever saw them. And that same day, my mother had put out wool to dry in front of where that house is with the three chimneys, near the Chapel. And I was there talking to some man, one on each side of the yard, and the wall between us. And the day was as fine as this day is and finer, and not a breath of air stirring. And a woman that lived near by had her wool out drying too. And the wool that was in my mother’s yard began to rise up, as if something was under it, and I called to the other man to help me to hold it down, but for all we could do it went up in the air, a hundred feet and more, till we could see it no more. And after a couple of hours it began to drop again) like snow, some on the thatch and some on the rocks and some in the gardens. And I think it was a fortnight before my mother had done gathering it. And one day she was spinning it, I don’t know what put it in my mind, but I asked her did she lose much of that wool. And what she said was, “If I didn’t get more than my own, I didn’t get less.” That’s true and no lie, for I never told a lie in my life-I think. But the wool belonging to the neighbouring woman was never stirred at all.
And the woman that had the wool that wasn’t stirred, she is the woman I married after, and that’s now my wife.
There was a man, one Power, died in this island, and one night that was bright there was a friend of his going out for mackerel, and he saw these sands full of people hurling, and he well knew Power’s voice that he heard among them.
There was a cousin of my own built a new house, and when they were first in it and sitting round the fire, the woman of the house that was singing for them saw a great blot of blood come down the chimney on to the floor, and they thought there would be no luck in the house and that it was a wrong place. But they had nothing but good luck ever after.

Peter Dolan:

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

A Galway Woman:

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

Mary Moran:

   There was a girl here that had been to America and came back, and one day she was coming over from Liscannor in a curragh, and she looked back and there behind the curragh was the “Gan ceann” the headless one. And he followed the boat a great way, but she said nothing. But a gold pin that was in her hair fell out, and into the sea, that she had brought from America, and then it disappeared. And her sister was always asking her where was the pin she brought from America, and she was afraid to say. But at last she told her, and the sister said, “It’s well for you it fell out, for what was following you would never have left you, till you threw it a ring or something made of gold.” It was the sister herself that told me this.
Up in the village beyond they think a great deal of these things and they won’t part with a drop of milk on May Eve, and last Saturday week that was May Eve there was a poor woman dying up there, and she had no milk of her own, and as is the custom, she went out to get a drop from one or other of the neighbours. But not one would give it because it was May Eve. I declare I cried when I heard it, for the poor woman died on the second day after.
And when my sister was going to America she went on the first of May and we had a farewell party the night before, and in the night a little girl that was there saw a woman from that village go out, and she watched her, and saw her walk round a neighbour’s house, and pick some straw from the roof.
And she told of it, and it happened a child had died in that house and the father said the woman must have had a hand in it, and there was no good feeling to her for a long while. Her own husband is lying sick now, so I hear.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregoryLady Gregory’s Work’s

Monsters and Sheoguey Beasts

The Dragon that was the monster of the early world now appears only in the traditional folktales, where the hero, a new Perseus, fights for the life of the Princess who looks on ciyjng at the brink of the sea, bound to a silver chair, while the Dragon is “put in a way he will eat no more kings’ daughters.” in the stories of today he has shrunk to eel or worm, for the persons and properties of the folklore of all countries keep being trans-formed or remade in the imagination, so that once in New England on the eve of George Washington’s birthday, the decorated shop windows set me wondering whether the cherry tree itself might not be a remaking of the red-berried dragon guarded rowan of the Celtic tales, or it may be of a yet more ancient apple. I ventured to hint at this in a lecture at Philadelphia, and next day one of the audience wrote me that he had looked through all the early biographies of Washington, and either the first three or the first three editions of the earliest–I have mislaid the letter–never mention the cherry tree at all. The monstrous beasts told of today recall the visions of Maeldune on his strange dream-voyage, where he saw the beast that was like a horse and that had “legs of a hound with rough sharp nails,” and the fiery pigs that fed on golden fruit, and the cat that with one flaming leap turned a thief to a heap of ashes; for the folk-tales of the world have long roots, and there is nothing new save their reblossoming.

I have been told by a Car-driver:

I went to serve one Patterson at a place called Grace Dieu between Waterford and Tramore, and there were queer things in it There was a woman lived at the lodge the other side from the gate, and one day she was looking out and she saw a wool-pack coming riding down the road of itself.
There was a room over the stable I was put to sleep in, and no one near me. One night I felt a great weight on my feet, and there was something very weighty coming up upon my body and I heard heavy breathing. Every night after that I used to light the fire and bring up coal and make up the fire with it that it would be near as good in the morning as it was at night. And I brought a good terrier up every night to sleep with me on the bed. Well, one night the fire was lighting and the moon was shining in at the window, and the terrier leaped off the bed and he was barking and rushing and fighting and leaping, near to the ceiling and in tinder the bed. And I could see the shadow of him on the walls and on the ceiling, and I could see the shadow of another thing that was about two foot long and that had a head like a pike, and that was fighting and leaping. They stopped after a while and all was quiet. But from that night the terrier never would come to sleep in the room again.

By Others:

The worst form a monster can take is a cow or a pig. But as to a lamb, you may always be sure a lamb is honest.
A pig is the worst shape they can take. I wouldn’t like to meet anything in the shape of a pig in the night.
No, I saw nothing myself, I’m not one of those that can see such things; but I heard of a man that went with the others on rent day, and because he could pay no rent but only made excuses, the landlord didn’t ask him in to get a drink with the others. So as he was coming home by himself in the dark, there was something on the road before him, and he gave it a hit with the toe of his boot, and it let a squeal. So then he said to it, “Come in here to my house, for I’m not asked to drink with them; I’ll give drink and food to you.” So it came in, and the next morning he found by the door a barrel full of wine and another full of gold, and he never knew a day’s want after that.
Walking home one night with Jack Costello, there was some-thing before us that gave a roar, and then it rose in the air like a goose, and then it fell again. And Jackeen told me after that it had laid hold on his trousers, and he didn’t sleep all night with the fright he got.
There’s a monster in Lough Graney, but it’s only seen once in seven years.

* * *
There is a monster of some sort down by Duras, it’s called the ghost of Fiddeen. Some say it’s only heard every seven years. Some say it was a flannel seller used to live there that had a short fardel. We heard it here one night, like a calf roaring.
One night my grandfather was beyond at Inchy where the lads from Gort used to be stealing rods, and he was sitting by the wall, and the dog beside him. And he heard something come running from Inchy Weir and he could see nothing, but the sound of its feet on the ground was like the sound of the feet of a deer. And when it passed by him the dog got in between him and the wall and scratched at him, but still he could see nothing but only could hear the sound of hoofs. So when it was passed he turned away home.
Another time, my grandfather told me, he was in a boat out on the lake here at Coole with two or three men from Gort. And one of them had an eel-spear and he thrust it into the water and it hit something, and the man fainted, and they had to carry him in out of the boat to land. And when he came to himself he said that what he struck was like a horse or like a calf, but whatever it was, it was no fish.
There is a boy I knew, one Curtin near Ballinderreen, told me that he was going along the road one night and he saw a dog. It had claws like a cur, and a body like a person, and he couldn’t see what its head was like. But it was moaning like a soul in pain, and presently it vanished, and there came most beautiful music, and a woman came out and he thought at first it was the Banshee, and she wearing a red petticoat. And a striped jacket she had on, and a white band about her waist. And to hear more beautiful singing and music he never did, but to know or to understand what she was expressing, he couldn’t do it. And at last they came to a place by the roadside where there was some bushes. And she went in there and disappeared under them, and the most beautiful lights came shining where she went in. And when he got home, he himself fainted, and his mother put her beads over him, and blessed him and said prayers. So he got quiet at last.
I would easily believe about the dog having a fight with something his owner couldn’t see. That often happens in this island, and that’s why every man likes to have a black dog with him at night–a black one is the best for fighting such things.
And a black cock everyone likes to have in their house–a March cock it should be.
I knew the captain of a ship used to go whale fishing, and he said he saw them by scores. But by his account they were no way like the ones McDaragh saw; it–was I described them to him.
We don’t give in to such things here as they do in the middle island; but I wouldn’t doubt that about the dog. For they can see what we can’t see. And there was a man here was out one night and the dog ran on and attacked something that was in front of him–a faery it was–but he could see nothing. And every now and again it would do the same thing, and seemed to be fighting something before him, and when they got home the man got safe into the house, but at the threshold the dog was killed.
And a horse can see many things, and if ever you’re out late, and the horse to stop as if there was something he wouldn’t pass, make the sign of the cross between his ears, and he’ll go on then. And it’s well to have a cock always in the house, if you can have it from a March clutch, and the next year if you can have another cock from a March clutch from that one, it’s the best. And if you go late out of the house, and that there is something outside it would be bad to meet, that cock will crow before you’ll go out.
I’m sorry I wasn’t in to meet you surely, knowing as much as I do about the faeries. One night I went with four or five others down by the mill to hunt rabbits. And when we got to the field by the river there was the sound of hundreds, some crying and the other part laughing, that we all heard them. And something came down to the river, first I thought he was a dog and then I saw he was too big and strange looking. And you’d think there wouldn’t be a drop of water left in the river with all he drank. An dl bid the others say nothing about it, for Patrick Green was lying sick at the mill, and it might be taken for a bad sign. And it wasn’t many days after that he died.
My father told me that one night he was crossing this road, he turned to the wall to close his shoe. And when he turned again there was something running through the field that was the size of a yearling calf, and black, and it ran across the road, and there was like the sound of chains in it. And when it came to that rock with the bush on it, it stopped and he could see a red light in its mouth. And then it disappeared. He used often to see a black dog in this road, and it used to be following him, and others saw it too. But one night the brother of the priest, Father Mitchell saw it and he told the priest and he banished it.
The lake down there (Lough Graney) is an enchanted place, and old people told me that one time they were swimming there, and a man had gone out into the middle and they saw something like a great big eel making for him, and they called out, “If ever you were a great swimmer show us now how you can swim to the shore,” for they wouldn’t frighten him by saying what was behind him. So he swam to the shore, and he only got there when the thing behind him was in the place where he was. For there are queer things in lakes. I never saw anything myself, but one time I was coming home late from Scariff, and I felt my hair standing up on my head, and I began to feel a sort of shy and fearful, and I could feel that there was something walking beside me. But after a while there was a little stream across the road, and after I passed that I was all right again and could feel nothing near.
I never saw anything myself but once, early in the morning and I going to the May fair of Loughrea. It was a little way outside of the town I saw something that had the appearance of a black pig, and it was running in under the cart and under the ass’s feet. And the ass would keep backing away from it, that it was hardly I could bring her along, till we got to the bridge of Cloon, and once we were over that we saw it no more, for it couldn’t pass the running water. And all the time it was with us I was hitting at it with my stick, and it would run from me then, for it was a hazel stick, and the hazel is blessed, and no wicked thing can stay when it is touched with it. It is likely the nuts are blessed too. Aren’t they growing on the same tree?
I was over at Phayre’s mill one time to get some boards sawed and they said l must wait an hour or so, where the mill wasn’t free. And I had a load of turf to get, and I went along the road. And I heard something coming after me in the gutter, and it stood up over me like an elephant, and I put my hands behind me and I said, “Madad Fior,” and he went away. It was just at the bridge he was, near Kilchriest, and when I was coming back after a while, just when I got to the bridge there, he was after me again. But I never saw him since then.
One time I was at the fair at Ballinasloe, and I but a young lad at the time, and a comrade with me that was but a young lad too. We brought in the sheep the Monday evening, and they were sold the Tuesday morning, and the master bid us to go home on the train. “Bad cess,” said my comrade, “are we to get no good at all out of the fair? Let us stop,” says he, “and get the good of it and go back by the mail train.” So we went through the fair together and went to a dance, and the master never knew, and we went home on the mail train together. We got out at Woodlawn and we were going home, and we heard a sort of a groaning and we could see nothing, and the boy that was ‘with me was frightened, for though he was a strong boy, he was a timorous man. We found then the groaning coming from beyond the wall, and I went and put my two fists on the wall and looked over it. There were two trees on the other side of the wall, and I saw walking off and down from one tree to the other, something that was like a soldier or a sentry. The body was a man’s body, and there was a black suit on it, but it had the head of a bear, the very head and puss of a bear. I asked what was on him. “Don’t speak to me, don’t speak to me,” he said, and he stopped by the tree and was groaning and went away.
That is all that ever I saw, and I herding sheep in the lambing season, and falling asleep as I did sometimes, and walking up and down the field in my sleep.
My father told me that in the bad times, about the year ’48, he used to be watching about in the fields, where the people did be stealing the crops. And there was no field in Coole he was afraid to go into by night except one, that is number three in the Lake Farm. For the dog that was about in those times stopped the night in the clump there. And Johnny Callan told me one night passing that field he heard the noise of a cart of stones thrown against the wall. But when he went back there in the morning there was no sign of anything at all. My father never saw the dog himself but he was known to be there and he felt him.
And as for the monster, I never saw it in Coole Lake, but one day I was coming home with my twobrothers from Tirneevan school, and there as we passed Dhulough we heard a great splashing, and we saw some creature put up its head, with a head and a mane like a horse. And we didn’t stop but ran.
But I think it was not so big as the monster over here in Coole Lake, for Johnny Callan saw it) and he said it was the size of a stack of turf. But there’s many could tell about that for there’s many saw it, Dougherty from Gort and others.
As to the dog that used to be in the road, a friend of his own was driving Father Boyle from Kinvara late one night and there it was–first on the right side and then on the left of the car. And at last he told Father Boyle, and he said. “Look out now for it, and you’ll see it no more,” and no more he did, and that was the last of it.
But the driver of the mail-car had often seen a figure of a woman following the car till it came to the churchyard beyond Ardrahan, and there it disappeared.
Father Boyle was a good man indeed–a child might speak to him. They said he had the dog or whatever it may be banished from the road, but of late I heard the driver of the mail-car saying he sees it on one spot on the road every night. And there’s a very lonely hollow beyond Doran’s house, and I know a man that never passed by that hollow but what he’d fall asleep. But one night he saw a sort of a muffled figure and he cried out three times some good wish-such as “God have mercy on you”-and then it gave a great laugh and vanished and he saw it no more. As to the forths or other old places, how do we know what poor soul may be shut up there, confined in pain?
Sure a man the other day coming back from your own place, Inchy, when he came to the big tree, heard a squealing, and there he saw a sort of a dog, and it white, and it followed as if holding on to him all the way home. And when he got to the house he near fainted, and asked for a glass of water.
There’s some sort of a monster at Tyrone, rising and slipping up and down in the sun, and when it cries, some one will be sure to die.
I didn’t believe in them myself till one night I was coming home from a wedding, and standing on the road beside me I saw John Kelly’s donkey that he always used to call Neddy. So he was standing in my way and I gave a blow at him and said, “Get out of that, Neddy.” And he moved off only to come across me again, and to stop me from going in. And so he did all the way, till as I was going by a bit of wood I heard come out of it two of the clearest laughs that ever you heard, and then two sorts of shouts. So I knew that it was having fun with me they were, and that it was not Neddy was there, but his likeness.
I knew a priest was stopped on the road one night by something in the shape of a big dog, and he couldn’t make the horse pass it.
One night I saw the dog myself, in the boreen near my house. And that was a bad bit of road, two or three were killed there.
And one night I was between Kiltartan Chapel and Nolan’s gate where I had some sheep to look after for the priest. And the dog I had with me ran out into the middle of the road, and there he began to yelp and to fight. I stood and watched him for a while, and surely he was fighting with another dog, but there was nothing to be seen.
And in the same part of the road one night I heard horses galloping, galloping past me. I could hear their hoofs, and they shod, on the stones of the road. But though I stood aside and looked-and it was bright moonlight-there were no horses to be seen. But they were there, and believe me they were not without riders.
Well, myself I once slept in a house with some strange thing. I had my aunt then, Mrs. Leary, living near, and I but a small little girl at the time. And one day she came to our house and asked would I go sleep with her, and I said I would if she’d give me a ride on her back, and so she did. And for many a night after that she brought me to sleep with her, and my mother used to be asking why, and she’d give no reason.
Well, the cause of her wanting me was this. Every night so sure as she put the candle out, it would come and lie upon her fret and across her body and near smother her, and she could feel it breathing but could see nothing. I never felt anything at all myself, I being sound asleep before she quenched the light. At last she went to Father Smith–God rest his soul!–and he gave her a prayer to say at the moment of the Elevation of the Mass. So the next time she attended Mass she used it, and that night it was wickeder than ever it had been.
So after that she wrote to her son in America to buy a ticket for her, and she went out to him and remained some years. And it was only after she came back she told me and my mother what used to happen on those nights, and the reason she wanted me to be beside her.
There was never any one saw so many of those things as Johnny Hardiman’s father on this estate, and now he’s old and got silly, and can’t tell about them any more. One time he was walking into Gort along the Kiltartan road, and he saw one of them before him in the form of a tub, and it rolling along.
Another time he was coming home from Kinvara, and a black and white dog came out against him from the wall, but he took no notice of it. But when he got near his own house it came out against him again and bit him in the leg, and he got hold of it and lifted it up and took it by the throat and choked it; and when he was sure it was dead he threw it by the roadside. But in the morning he went out first thing early to look at the body, and there was no sign at all of it there.
So I believe indeed that old Michael Barrett hears them and sees them. But they do him no mischief nor harm at all. They wouldn’t, and he such an old resident. But there’s many wouldn’t believe he sees anything because they never seen them themselves.
I never did but once, when I was a slip of a girl beyond at Lissatiraheely, and one time I went across to the big forth to get a can of water. And when I got near to it I heard voices, and when I came to where the water runs out they were getting louder and louder. And I stopped and looked down, and there in the passage where the water comes I seen a dog within, and there was a great noise-working I suppose they were. And I threw down the can and turned and ran, and never went back for it again. But here since I lived in Coole I never seen any-thing and never was afeared of anything except one time only in the evening, when I was walking down the little by-lane that leads to Ballinamantane. And there standing in the path before me I seen the very same dog that was in the old forth before. And I believe I leaped the wall to get away into the high-road. And what day was that but the very same day that Sir William–the Lord be with his soul!–was returned a Member of Parliament, and a great night it was in Kiltartan.
But I’m noways afeared of anything and I give you my word I’d walk in the dead of night in the nut-wood or any other place-except only the cross beyond Inchy, I’d sooner not go by there. There’s two or three has their life lost there–Heffernan of Kildesert, one of your ladyship’s own tenants, he was one. He was at a fair, and there was a horse another man wanted, but he got inside him and got the horse. And when he was riding home, when he came to that spot it reared back and threw him, and he was taken up dead. And another man–one Gallagher–fell off the top of a creel of turf in the same place and lost his life. And there was a woman hurted some way another time. What’s that you’re saying, John–that Gallagher had a drop too much taken? That might be so indeed; and what call has a man that laas drink taken to go travel upon top of a creel of turf?
That dog I met in the boreen at Ballinamantane, he was the size of a calf, and black, and his paws the size of I don’t know what. I was sitting in the house one day, and he came in and sat down by the dresser and looked at me. And I didn’t like the look of him when I saw the big eyes of him, and the size of his legs. And just then a man came in that used to make his living by making mats, and he used to lodge with me for a night now and again. And he went out to bring his cart away where he was afraid it’d be knocked about by the people going to the big bonfire at Kiltartan cross-roads. And when he went out I looked out the door, and there was the dog sitting under the cart. So be made a hit at it with a stick, and it was in the stones the stick stuck, and there was the dog sitting at the other side of him. So he came in and gave me abuse and said I must be a strange woman to have such things about me. And he never would come to lodge with me again. But didn’t the dog behave well not to do him an injury after he hitting it? It was surely some man that was in that dog, some soul in trouble.
Beasts will sometimes see more than a man will. There were three young chaps I know went up near Ballyturn to hunt coneens (young rabbits) and they threw the dog over the wall. And when he was in the field he gave a yelp and drew back as if something had struck him on the head. And with all they could do, and the rabbits and the coneens running about the field, they couldn’t get him to stir from that and they had to come home with no rabbits.
One time I was helping Sully, the butcher in Loughrea, and I had to go to a country house to bring in a measly pig the people had) and that he was to allow them something for. So I got there late and had to stop the night. And in the morning at daylight I looked from the window and saw a cow eating the potatoes, so I went down to drive him off. And in the kitchen there was lying by the hearth a dog, a speckled one, with spots of black and white and yellow. And when he saw me he got up and went over to the door and went out through it. And then I saw that the door was shut and locked. So I went back again and told the people of the house what I saw and they were frightened and made me stop the next night. And in the night the clothes were taken off me and a heavy blow struck me in the chest, and the feel of it was like the feel of ice. So I covered myself up again and put my hand under the bedclothes, and I never came to that house again.
I never seen anything myself, but I remember well that when I was a young chap there was a black dog between Coole gate-house and Gort for many a year, and many met him there. Tom Miller came running into our house one time when he was after seeing him, and at first sight he thought he was a man, where he was standing with his paws up upon the wall, and then he vanished out of sight. But there never was any common dog the size of him, and it’s many a one saw him, and it was Father Boyle that banished him out of it at last.
Except that thing at Inchy Weir, I never saw anything my-self. But one evening I parted from Larry Cuniffe in the yard, and he went away through the path in Shanwalla and bid me goodnight. But two hours after, there he was back again in the yard, and bid me light a candle was in the stable. And he told me that when he got into Shanwalla a little chap about as high as his knee, but having a head as big as a man’s body, came beside him and led him out of the path and round about, and at last it brought him to the limekiln, and there left him.
There is a dog now at Lismara, black and bigger than a natural dog, is about the roads at night. He wouldn’t be there so long if any one had the courage to question him.
Stephen O’Donnell in Connemara told me that one time he shot a hare, and it turned into a woman, a neighbour of his own. And she had his butter taken for the last two years, but she begged and prayed for life on her knees, so he spared her, and she gave him back his butter after that, a double yield.
There was a woman at Glenlough when I was young could change herself into an eel. It was in Galway Workhouse Hospital she got the knowledge. A woman that had the knowledge of doing it by witchcraft asked her would she like to learn, and she said that she would, for she didn’t know what it would bring on her. For every time she did it, she’d be in bed a fortnight after with all she’d go through. Sir Martin O’Neill when he was a young lad heard of it, and he got her into a room, and made her do it for him, and when he saw her change to an eel he got frightened and tried to get away, but she got between him and the door, and showed her teeth at him and growled. She wasn’t the better of that for a fortnight after.
Indeed the porter did me great good, a good that I’d hardly like to tell you, not to make a scandal. Did I drink too much of it? Not at all, I have no fancy for it, but the nights seemed to be long But this long time I am feeling a worm in my side that is as big as an eel, and there’s more of them in it than that, and I was told to put sea-grass to it, and I put it to the side the other day, and whether it was that or the porter I don’t know, but there’s some of them gone out of it, and I think it’s the porter.
I knew a woman near Clough was out milking her cow, and when she got up to go away she saw one of those worms coming after her, and it eight feet long, and it made a jump about eight yards after her. And I heard of a man went asleep by a wall one time, and one of them went down his throat and he never could get rid of it till a woman from the North came. And what she bade him do was to get a bit of old crock butter and to make a big fire on the hearth, and to put the butter in a half round on the hearth, and to get two men to hold him over it. And when the worms got the smell of the butter they jumped out of his mouth, seven or eight one after another, and it was in the fire they fell and they were burned, and that was an end of them.
As to hares, there’s something queer about them, and there’s some that it’s dangerous to meddle with, and that can go into any form where they like. Sure, Mrs. Madden is after having a young son, and it has a harelip. But she says that she doesn’t remember that ever she met a hare or looked at one. But if she did, she had a right to rip a small bit of the seam of her dress or her petticoat, and then it would have no power to hurt her at all.
Doran the herd says, he wouldn’t himself eat the flesh of a hare. There’s something unnatural about it. But as to them being unlucky, that may be all talk. But there’s no doubt at all that a cow is found sometimes to be run dry, and the hare to be seen coming away from her.
One time when we lived just behind Gort my father was going to a fair. And it was the custom in those days to set out a great deal earlier than what it is now. So it was not much past mid-night when he got up and went out the door, and the moon shining bright. And then he saw a hare walk in from the street and turn down by the garden, and another after it, and another and another till he counted twelve. And they all went straight one after another and vanished. And my father came in and shut the door, and never went out again till it was broad day-light.
There was a man watching the fire where two hares were cooking and he heard them whistling in the pot. And when the people of the house came home they were afraid to touch them, but the man that heard the whistling ate a good meal of them and was none the worse.
There was an uncle of my own lived over near Garryland. And one day himself and another man were going through the field, and they saw a hare, and the hound that was with them gave chase, and they followed.
And the hound was gaining on the hare and it made for I house, where the half-door was open. And the hound made a snap at it and touched it as it leaped the half-door. And when my uncle and the others came up, they could find no hare, but only an old woman in the house–and she bleeding. So there’s no doubt at all but it was she took the form of a hare. My uncle spent too much money after, and gave up his land and went to America.
As to hares, there was a man out with his greyhound and it gave chase to a hare. And it made for a house, and went in at the window, and the hound just touched the leg. And when the man came up, he found an old woman in the house, and he asked leave to search the house and so he did in every place, but there was no bare to be seen. But when he came in she was putting a pot on the fire, so he said that he must look in the pot, and he took the cover off, and it was full of blood. And before the hound gave chase, he had seen the hare sucking the milk from a cow.
As to hares, there’s no doubt at all there’s some that’s not natural. One night I was making pot-whiskey up in that hill beyond. Yes indeed, for three year, I did little but run to and fro to the still, and one December, I was making it for the Christmas and I was taken and got nine weeks in gaol for it–and £16 worth of whiskey spilled that night. But there’s mean people in the world; and he did it for half a sovereign, and had to leave the country after and go to England. Well, one night, I was watching by the fire where it was too fierce, and it would have burned the oats. And over the hill and down the path came two hares and walked on and into the wood. And two more after that, and then by fours they came, and by sixes, and I’d want a slate and a pencil to count all I saw, and it just at sunrise. And some of them were as thin as thin. And there’s no doubt at all that those were not haresI saw that night.
As to hares, they’re the biggest fairies of all. Last year the boys had one caught, and I put it in the pot to wash it and it after being skinned, and I heard a noise come from the pot–grr-grr–and nothing but cold water in it. And I ran to save my life, and I told the boys to have nothing to do with it, but they wouldn’t mind me. And when they tried to eat it, and it boiled, they couldn’t get their teeth into the flesh of it, and as for the soup, it was no different from potato-water.
The village of Lissavohalane has a great name for such things. And it’s certain that once one night every year, in the month of November, all the cats of the whole country round gather together there and fight. My own two cats were nearly dead for days after it last year, and the neighbours told me the same of theirs.
There was a woman had a cat and she would feed it at the table before any other one; and if it did not get the first meat that was cooked, the hair would rise up as high as that. Well, there were priests came to dinner one day, and when they were helped the first, the hair rose up on the cat’s back. And one of them said to the woman it was a queer thing to give in to a cat the way she did, and that it was a foolish thing to be giving it the first of the food. So when it heard that, it walked out of the house, and never came into it again.
There’s something not right about cats. Steve Smith says he knew a keeper that shot one, and it went into a sort of a heap, and when he came near, it spoke, and he found it was some person, and it said it had to walk its seven acres. And there’s some have heard them together at night talking Irish.
There was a hole over the door of the house that I used to live in, where Murphy’s house is now, to let the smoke out, for there was no chimney. And one day a black cat jumped in at the hole, and stopped in the house and never left us for a year. But on the day year he came he jumped out again at the same hole and didn’t go out of the door that was standing open. There was no mistake about it, it was the day year.
As to cats, they’re a class in themselves. They’re good to catch mice and rats, but just let them come in and out of the house for that; they’re about their own business all the time. And in the old times they could talk. And it’s said that the cats gave a shilling for what they have; fourpence that the housekeeper might be careless and leave the milk about that they’d get at it; and fourpence that they’d tread so light that no one would hear them, and fourpence that they’d be able to see in the dark. And I might as well throw out that drop of tea I left on the dresser to cool, for the cat is after that. There might be a hair in it, and the hair of a cat is poison.
There was a man had a house full of children, and one day he was taking their measure for boots. And the cat that was sitting on the hearth said, “Take my measure for a pair of boots along with the rest.” So the man did, and when he went to the shoemaker he told him of what the cat had said. And there was a man in the shop at the time, and he having two greyhounds with him, and one of them all black without a single white hair. And he said, “Bring the cat here tomorrow. You can tell it that the boots can’t be made without it coming for its measure.” So the next day he brought the cat in a bag, and when he got to his shop the man was there with his greyhounds, and he let the cat out, and it praying him not to loosen the bag. And it made away through the fields and the hounds after it, and whether it killed one of them I don’t know, but anyhow the black hound killed it, the one that had not a white hair on its body.
You should never be too attentive to a cat, but just to be civil and to give it its share.
Cats were serpents, and they were made into cats at the time, I suppose, of some change in the world. That’s why they’re hard to kill and why it’s dangerous to meddle with them. If you annoy a cat it might claw you or bite you in a way that would put poison in you, and that would be the serpent’s tooth.
There was an uncle of mine near Galway, and one night his wife was very sick, and he had to go to the village to get some-thing for her. And it’s a very lonely road, and as he was going what should he see but a great number of cats, walking along the road, and they were carrying a young cat, and crying it.
And when he was on his way home again from the village he met them again, and one of the cats turned and spoke to him like a person would, and said, “Bid Lady Betty to come to the funeral or she’ll be late.” So he ran on home in a great fright, and he couldn’t speak for some time after getting back to the house, but sat there by the fire in a chair. And at last lie began to tell his wife what had happened. And when he said that he had met a cat’s funeral, his own cat that was sleeping by the hearth began to stir her tail, and looked up at him, affectionate like. But when he got to where he was bid send Lady Betty to the funeral, she made one dash at his face and scraped it, she was so mad that she wasn’t told at once. And then she began to tear at the door, that they had to let her out.
For cats is faeries, and every night they’re obliged to travel over seven acres; that’s why you hear them crying about the country. It was an old woman at the strand told me that, and she should know, for she lived to a hundred years of age.
I saw three young weasels out in the sea, squealing, squealing, for they couldn’t get to land, and I put out a bunch of seaweed and brought them to the land, and they went away after. I did that for them. Weasels are not right, no more than cats; and I’m not sure about foxes.
Rats are very bad, because a rat if one got the chance would do his best to bite you, and I wouldn’t like at all to get the bite of a rat. But weasels are serpents, and if they would spit at any part of your body it would fester, and you would get blood poisoning within two hours.
I knew an old doctor–Antony Coppinger at Clifden–and he told me that if the weasels had the power of other beasts they would not have a human living in the world. And he said the wild wide wilderness of the sea was full of beasts mostly the same as on earth, like bonavs and like cattle, and they lying at the bottom of the sea as quiet as cows in a field.
It is wrong to insult a weasel, and if you pelt them or shoot them they will watch for you forever to ruin you. For they are enchanted and understand all things.
There is Mrs. Coneely that lives up the road, she had a clutch of young geese on the floor, and a weasel walked in and brought away one of them, but she said nothing to that.
But it came in again, and took a hold of another of the geese and Mrs. Coneely said, “Oh, I’m not begrudging you what you have taken, but leave these to me for it is hard I earned them, and it is great trouble I had rearing them. But go,” she said, ‘to the shoemaker’s home beyond, where they have a clutch, and let you spare mine. And that I may never sin,” she said, “but it walked out, for they can understand everything, and it did not leave one of the clutch that was at the shoemaker’s.”
It is why I called to you now when I saw you sitting there so near to the sea; I thought the tide might steal up on you, or a weasel might chance to come up with a fish in its mouth, and to give you a start. It’s best if you see one to speak nice to it, and to say, “I wouldn’t be begrudging you a pair of boots or of shoes if I had them.” If you treat them well they will treat you well.
And to see a weasel passing the road before you, there’s nothing in the world like that to bring you all sorts of good luck.
I was out in the field one time tilling potatoes, and two or three more along with me, and a weasel put its head out of the wall–a double stone wall it was–and one of the lads fired a stone at it. Well, within a minute there wasn’t a hole of the wall but a weasel had put its head out of it, about a thousand of them, I saw that myself. Very spiteful they are. I wouldn’t like them.
The weasels, the poor creatures, they will do nothing at all on you if you behave well to them and let them alone, but if you do not, they will not leave a chicken in the yard. And magpies, let you do nothing on them, or they will suck every egg and leave nothing in the garden; but if you leave them to themselves they will do nothing but to come into the street to pick a bit with the birds.
The granyog (hedgehog) will do no harm to chickens or the like; but if he will get into an orchard he will stick an apple on every thorn, and away with him to a scalp with them to be eating through the winter.
I met with a granyog one day on the mountain, and that I may never sin, he was running up the side of it as fast as a race-horse.
There is not much luck in killing a seal. There was a man in these parts was very fond of shooting and killing them. And seals have claws the same as cats, and he had two daughters, and when they were born, they had claws the same as seals. I believe there is one of them living yet.
But the thing it is not right to touch is the ron (seal) for they are in the Sheogue. It is often I see them on the strand, sitting there and wiping themselves on the rocks. And they have a hand with five fingers, like any Christian. I seen six of them, coming in a boat one time with a man from Connemara, that is the time I saw they had the five fingers.
There was a man killed one of them over there near the point. And he came to the shore and it was night, and he was near dead with the want of a blast of a pipe, and he saw a light from a house on the side of a mountain, and he went in to ask a coal of fire to kindle the pipe. And when he went in, there was a woman, and she called out to a man that was lying stretched on the bed in the room, and she said, “Look till you see who this man is. And the man that was on the bed says, “I know you, for I have the sign of your hand on me. And let you get out of this now,” he said, “as fast as you can, and it will be best for you.” And the daughter said to him, “I wonder you to let him go as easy as that.” And you may be sure that man made off and made no delay. It was a Sheogue house that was; and the man on the bed was the ron he had killed, but he was not dead, being of the Sheogues.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregoryLady Gregory’s Work’s


I have been told:

Yes, they say blacksmiths have something about them, and if there’s a seventh blacksmith in succession, from generation to generation, he can do many things, and if he gave you his curse you wouldn’t be the better of it. There was one near the cliffs, Pat Doherty, but he did no harm to any one, but was as quiet as another. He is dead now and his son is a blacksmith too [46].
There was a man one time that was a blacksmith, and he used to go every night playing cards, and for all his wife could say he wouldn’t leave off doing it. So one night she got a boy to stand m the old churchyard he’d have to pass, and to frighten him. So the boy did so, and began to groan and to try to frighten him when he came near. But it’s well known that nothing of that kind can do any harm to a blacksmith. So he went in and got hold of the boy, and told him he had a mind to choke him, and went his way.
But no sooner was the boy left alone than there came about him something in the shape of a dog, and then a great troop of cats. And they surrounded him and he tried to get away home, but he had no power to go the way he wanted but had to go with them. And at last they came to an old forth and a faery bush, and he knelt down and made the sign of the cross and said a great many “Our Fathers,” and after a time they went into the faery bush and left him. And he was going away and a woman came out of the bush, and called to him three times, to make him look back. And he saw that it was a woman that he knew before, that was dead, and so he knew that she was amongst the faeries.
And she said to him, “It’s well for you that I was here, and worked hard for you, or you would have been brought in among them, and be like me.” So he got home. And the blacksmith got home too and his wife was surprised to see he was no way frightened. But he said, “You might know that there’s nothing of that sort could harm me.”
For a blacksmith is safe from all, and when he goes out in the night he keeps always in his pocket a small bit of wire) and they know him by that. So he went on playing, and they grew very poor after.
And I knew a woman from the County Limerick had been away, and she could tell you all about the forths in this place and how she was recovered. She met a man she knew on the road) and she out riding with them all on horseback, and told him to bring a bottle of forge-water and to throw it on her, and so he did, and she came back again.
Blacksmiths surely are safe from these things. And if a black-smith was to turn his anvil upside down and to say malicious words, he could do you great injury.
There was a child that was changed, and my mother brought it a nice bit of potato cake one time, for tradesmen often have nice things on the table. But the child wouldn’t touch it) for they don’t like the leavings of a smith.
Blacksmiths have power, and if you could steal the water from the trough in the forge, it would cure all things.
And as to forges, there’s some can hear working and hammering in them through the night.:

Yes, they say blacksmiths have something about them, and if there’s a seventh blacksmith in succession, from generation to generation, he can do many things, and if he gave you his curse you wouldn’t be the better of it. There was one near the cliffs, Pat Doherty, but he did no harm to any one, but was as quiet as another. He is dead now and his son is a blacksmith too [46].
There was a man one time that was a blacksmith, and he used to go every night playing cards, and for all his wife could say he wouldn’t leave off doing it. So one night she got a boy to stand m the old churchyard he’d have to pass, and to frighten him. So the boy did so, and began to groan and to try to frighten him when he came near. But it’s well known that nothing of that kind can do any harm to a blacksmith. So he went in and got hold of the boy, and told him he had a mind to choke him, and went his way.
But no sooner was the boy left alone than there came about him something in the shape of a dog, and then a great troop of cats. And they surrounded him and he tried to get away home, but he had no power to go the way he wanted but had to go with them. And at last they came to an old forth and a faery bush, and he knelt down and made the sign of the cross and said a great many “Our Fathers,” and after a time they went into the faery bush and left him. And he was going away and a woman came out of the bush, and called to him three times, to make him look back. And he saw that it was a woman that he knew before, that was dead, and so he knew that she was amongst the faeries.
And she said to him, “It’s well for you that I was here, and worked hard for you, or you would have been brought in among them, and be like me.” So he got home. And the blacksmith got home too and his wife was surprised to see he was no way frightened. But he said, “You might know that there’s nothing of that sort could harm me.”
For a blacksmith is safe from all, and when he goes out in the night he keeps always in his pocket a small bit of wire) and they know him by that. So he went on playing, and they grew very poor after.
And I knew a woman from the County Limerick had been away, and she could tell you all about the forths in this place and how she was recovered. She met a man she knew on the road) and she out riding with them all on horseback, and told him to bring a bottle of forge-water and to throw it on her, and so he did, and she came back again.
Blacksmiths surely are safe from these things. And if a black-smith was to turn his anvil upside down and to say malicious words, he could do you great injury.
There was a child that was changed, and my mother brought it a nice bit of potato cake one time, for tradesmen often have nice things on the table. But the child wouldn’t touch it) for they don’t like the leavings of a smith.
Blacksmiths have power, and if you could steal the water from the trough in the forge, it would cure all things.
And as to forges, there’s some can hear working and hammering in them through the night.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregoryLady Gregory’s Work’s:

Friars and Priest Cures

An old woman begging at the door one day spoke of the cures done in her early days by the Friars at Esker to the north of our county. I asked if she had ever been there, and she burst into this praise of it:
“Esker is a grand place; this house and the house of Lough Cutra and your own house at Roxborough, to put the three together it wouldn’t be as big as it; it is as big as the whole town of Gort, in its own way; you wouldn’t have it walked in a month.
“To go there you would get cured of anything unless it might be the stroke of the Fool that does be going with them; it’s best not be talking of it. The clout he would give you, there is no cure for it.
“Three barrels there are with water, and to see the first barrel boiling it is certain you will get a cure. A big friar will come out to meet us that is as big as three. Fat they do be that they can’t hardly get through the door. Water there does be rushing down; you to stoop you would hear it talking; you would be afraid of the water.
“One well for the rich and one well for the common; blue blinds to the windows like little bars of timber without. You can see where the friars are buried down dead to the end of the world.
“They give out clothes to the poor, bedclothes and day clothes; it is the beautifullest place from heaven out; summer houses and pears; glass in the walls around.”

I have been told:

The Esker friars used to do great cures–Father Callaghan was the best of them. They used to do it by reading, but what it was they read no one knew, some secret thing.
There was a girl brought from Calre one time that had lost her wits, and she tied on a cart with ropes. And she was brought to Father Callaghan and he began reading over her, and then he made a second reading, and at the end of that, he bid them unloose the ropes, and when they did she got up quite quiet, but very shy looking and ashamed, and would not wait for the cart but walked away.
Father Callaghan was with a man near this one time, one Tully, and they were talking about the faeries and the man said he didn’t believe in them at all. And Father Callaghan called him to the door and put up his fingers and bade him look out through them, and there he saw hundreds and hundreds of the smallest little men he ever saw and they hurling and killing one another.
The friars are gone and there are missioners come in their place and all they would do for you is to bless holy water, and as long as you would keep it, it would never get bad.
My daughter, Mrs. Meehan, that lives there below, was very bad after her first baby being born, and she wasted away and the doctors could do nothing for her. My husband went to Biddy Early for her, but she said, “Mother for daughter, father for son” and she could do nothing for her because I didn’t go. But I had promised God and the priest I would never go to her, and so I kept to my word. But Mrs. Meehan was so bad she kept to the bed, and one day one of the neighbours said I had a right to bring her to the friars at Esker. And he said, “It’s today you should be in it, Monday, for a Monday gospel is the best, the gospel of the Holy Ghost.” So I got the cart after and put her in it, and she lying down, and we had to rest and to take out the horse at Lenane, and we got to Craughwell for the night. And the man of the house where we got lodging for the night said the priest that was doing cures now was Father Blake and he showed us the way to Esker. And when we got there he was in the chapel, and my daughter was brought in and laid on a form, and I went out and waited with the cart, and within half an hour the chapel door opened, and my daughter walked out that was carried in. And she got up on the cart herself. It was a gospel had been read over her. And I said, “I wish you had asked a gospel to bring with you home.” And after that we saw a priest on the other side of a dry stone wall, and he learning three children. And she asked a gospel of him, and he said, “what you had today will do you, and I haven’t one made up at this time.” So she came home well. She went another time there, when she had something and asked for a gospel, and Father Blake said, “We’re out of doing it now, but as you were with us before, I’ll do it for you.” And she wanted to give him £1 but he said, “If I took it I would do nothing for you.” So she said, “I’ll give it to the other man,” and so she did.
I often saw Father Callaghan in Esker and the people brought to him in carts. Many cures he did, but he was prevented often. And I knew another priest did many cures, but he was carried away himself after, to a lunatic asylum. And when he came back, he would do no more.
There was a little chap had but seven years, and he was doing no good, but whistling and twirling, and the father went to Father Callaghan, that was just after coming out of the gaol when he got there, for doing cures; it is a gaol of their own they had. The man asked him to do a cure on his son, and Father Callaghan said, “I wouldn’t like him to be brought here, but I will go some day to your house; I will go with my dog and my hound as if fowling, and I will bring no sign of a car or a carriage at all.” So he came one day to the house and knocked at the door. And when he came in he said to the father, “Go out and bring me in a bundle of sally rods that will be as thin as rushes, and divide them into six small parts,” he said, “and twist every one of the six parts together.” And when that was done, he took the little bundle of rods, and he beat the child on the head with them one after another till they were in flitters and the child roaring. Then he laid the child in the father’s arms, and no sooner there than it fell asleep, and Father Callaghan said to the father, “What you have now is your own, but it Wasn’t your own that was in it before.”
There used to be swarms of people going to Esker, and Father Callaghan would say in Irish. “Let the people in the Sheogue stand at one side,” and he would go over and read over them what he had to read.
There was an uncle of my own was working at Ballycluan the time the Quakers were making a place there, and it was the habit when the summer was hot to put the beds out into the barn. And one night he was sleeping in the barn, and something came and lay on him in the bed; he could not see what it was, but it was about the size of the foal of a horse. And the next night it came again and the next, and lay on him, and he put out his left hand to push it from him, and it went from him quite quiet, but if it did, when he rose in the morning, he was not able to stretch out his hand, and he was a long time like that and then his father brought him to the friars at Esker, and within twelve minutes one of them had him cured, reading over him, but I’m not sure was it Father Blake or Father Callaghan.
But it was not long after that till he fell off his cart as if he was knocked off it, and broke his leg. The coppinger had his leg cured, but he did not live long, for the third thing happened was, he threw up his heart’s blood and died.
For if you are cured of one thing that comes on you like that, another thing will come on you in its place, or if not on you, on some other person, maybe some one in your own family. It is very often I noticed that to happen.
The priests in old times used to have the power to cure strokes and madness and the like, but the Pope and the Bishops have that stopped; they said that the people will get out of witchcraft little by little.
Priests can do cures if they will, and it’s not out of the Gospel they do them, but out of a book specially for the purpose, so I believe. But something falls on them or on the things belonging to them, if they do it too often.
But Father Keeley for certain did cures. It was he cured Mike Madden’s neck, when everyone else had failed–so they had–though Mike has never confessed to it.
The priests can do cures surely, and surely they can put harm on you. But they wouldn’t do that unless they’d be sure a man would deserve it. One time at that house you see up there beyond, Roche’s, there was a wedding and there was some fighting came out of it, and bad blood. And Father Boyle was priest at that time, and he was vexed and he said he’d come and have stations at the house, and they should all be reconciled.
So he came on the day he appointed and the house was settled like a chapel and some of the people there was bad blood between came, but not all of them, and Roche himself was not there. And when the stations were over Father Boy]e got his book, and he read the names of those he had told to be there, and they answered, like a schoolmaster would call out the names of his scholars. And when Roche’s name was read and he not there to answer, with the dint of madness Father Boyle quenched the candles on the altar, and he said this house and all that be-long to it will go away to nothing, like the froth that’s going down the river.
And if you look at the house now you’ll see the way it is, not a stable or an outhouse left standing, and not one of the whole family left in it but Roche, and he paralysed. So they can do both harm and good.
There was a man out in the mountains used to do cures, and one day on a little road the priest met him, and stopped his car and began to abuse him for the cures he was doing.
And then the priest went on, and when he had gone a bit of the road his horse fell down. And he came back and called to the man and said, “Come help me now, for this is your doing, to make the horse fall.” And the man said, “It’s none of my doing, but it’s the doing of my master, for he was vexed with the way you spoke. But go back now and you’ll find the horse as he was before.” So he went back and the horse had got up and was standing, and nothing wrong with him at all. And the priest said no more against him from that day.
My son is lame this long time; a fine young man he was, about seventeen years–and a pain came in his knee all of a moment. I tried doctors with him and I brought him to the friars in Loughrea, and one of them read a gospel over him, and the pain went after that, but the knee grew out to be twisted like. The friar said it was surely he had been overheated. A little old maneen he was, very ancient. I knew well it was the drochuil that did it; there by the side of the road he was sitting when he got the frost.
There was a needlewoman used to be sewing late on a Saturday night, and sometimes if there was a button or a thread wanting she would put it in, even if it was Sunday morning; and she lived in Loughrea that is near your own home. And one day she went to the loch to get a can of water, and it was in her hand. And in a minute a blast of wind came that rose all the dust and the straws and knocked herself. And more than that, her mouth was twisted around to her poll.
There were some people saw her, and they brought her home, and within a week her mother brought her to the priest. And when he saw her he said, “You are the best mother ever there for if you had left her nine days without bringing her to was me, all I could do would not have taken off her what is on her.” He asked then up to what time did she work on the Saturday night, and she said up to one or two o’clock, and sometimes on a Sunday morning. So he took off what was on her, and bade her do that no more, and she got well, but to the last there was a sort of a twisted turn in her mouth.
That woman now I am telling you of was an aunt of my own.
Father Nolan has a kind heart, and he’d do cures. But it’s hard to get them, unless it would be for some they had a great interest in. But Father McConaghy is so high in himself, he wouldn’t do anything of that sort. When Johnny Dunne was bad, two years ago, and all but given over, he begged and prayed Father McConaghy to do it for him. And he refused and said, “You must commit yourself to the mercy of Almighty God,” and Johnny Dunne, the poor man, said, “It’s a hard thing for a man that has a house full of children to be left to the mercy of Almighty God.”
But there’s some that can help. My father told me long ago that my sister was lying sick for a long time, and one night a beggarman came to the door and asked for shelter. And he said, “I can’t give you shelter, with my daughter lying sick in the room.” “Let me in, it’s best for you,” says he. And in the morning he went away, and the sick girl rose up, as well as ever she was before.
Father Flaherty, when he was a curate, could open the eyes that were all but closed in death, but he wouldn’t have such things spoken of now. Losses they may have, but that’s not all. whatever evil thing they raise, they may not have strength after to put it down again, and so they may be lost themselves in the end.
Surely they can do cures, and they can tell sometimes the hour you’d go. There was a girl I knew was sick, and when the priest came and saw her, he said, “Between the two Masses tomorrow she’ll be gone,” and so she was. And those that saw her after, said that it was the face of her mother that died before that was on the bed, and that it was her mother had taken her to where she was.
And Mike Barrett surely saw a man brought in a cart to Father Curley’s house when he lived in Cloon, and carried upstairs to him, and he walked down out of the house again, sound and well. But they must lose something when they do cures–either their health or something else, though many say no one did so many cures as Father Fitzgerald when he was a curate. Father Airlie one time was called in to Glover’s house where he was lying sick, and did a cure on him. And he had a cow at the time that was in calf. And soon after some man said to him “The cow will be apt soon to calve,” though it wasn’t very near the time. And Father Airlie said “She’ll never live to do that.” And sure enough in a couple of days after she was dead.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregoryWitches and Wizards and Irish Folk-Lore (W.B. Yeats)

Ireland was not separated from general European speculation when much of that was concerned with the supernatural. Dr. Adam Clarke tells in his unfinished autobiography how) when he was at school in Antrim towards the end of the eighteenth century, a schoolfellow told him of Cornelius Agrippa’s book on Magic and that it had to be chained or it would fly away of itself. Presently he heard of a farmer who had a copy and after that made friends with a wandering tinker who had another. Lady Gregory and I spoke of a friend’s visions to an old countryman. He said “he must belong to a society”; and the people often attribute magical powers to Orangemen and to Freemasons, and I have heard a shepherd at Doneraile speak of a magic wand with Tetragramaton Agla written upon it. The visions and speculations of Ireland differ much from those of England and France, for in Ireland, as in Highland Scotland, we are never far from the old Celtic mythology; but there is more likeness than difference. Lady Gregory’s story of the witch who in semblance of a hare, leads the hounds such a dance, is the best remembered of all witch stories. It is told, I should imagine, in every countryside where there is even a fading memory of witchcraft. One finds it in a sworn testimony given at the trial of Julian Cox, an old woman indicted for witchcraft at Taunton in Somersetshire in 1663 and quoted by Joseph Glanvill. “The first witness was a huntsman, who swore that he went out with a pack of hounds to hunt a hare, and not far from Julian Cox her house he at last started a hare: the dogs hunted her very close, and the third ring hunted her in view, till at last the huntsman perceiving the hare almost spent and making towards a great bush, he ran on the other side of the bush to take her up and preserve her from the dogs; but as soon as he laid hands on her, it proved to be Julian Cox, who had her head grovelling on the ground, and her globes (as he expressed it) upward. He knowing her, was so affrighted that his hair on his head stood on end; and yet spake to her, and ask’d her what brought her there; but she was so far out of breath that she could not make him any answer; his dogs also came up full cry to recover the game, and smelled at her and so left off hunting any further. And the huntsman with his dogs went home presently sadly affrighted.” Dr. Henry More, the Platonist, who considers the story in a letter to Glanvill, explains that Julian Cox was not turned into a hare, but that “Ludicrous Daemons exhibited to the sight of this huntsman and his dogs, the shape of a hare, one of them turning himself into such a form, another hurrying on the body of Julian near the same place,” making her invisible till the right moment had come. “As I have heard of some painters that have drawn the sky in a huge landscape, so lively, that the birds have flown against it, thinking it free air, and so have fallen down. And if painters and jugglers, by the tricks of legerdemain can do such strange feats to the deceiving of the sight, it is no wonder that these aerie invisible spirits have far surpassed them in all such prestigious doings, as the air surpasses the earth for subtlety.” Glanvill has given his own explanation of such cases elsewhere. He thinks that the sidereal or airy body is the foundation of the marvel, and Albert de Rochas has found a like foundation for the marvels of spiritism. “The transformation of witches,” writes Glanvill, “into the shapes of other animals … is very conceivable; since then, ’tis easy enough to imagine that the power of imagination may form those passive and pliable vehicles into those shapes,” and then goes on to account for the stories where an injury, say to the witch hare. is found afterwards upon the witch’s body precisely as a French hypnotist would account for the stigmata of a saint. “When they feel the hurts in their gross bodies, that they receive in their airy vehicles, they must be supposed to have been really present, at least in these latter, and ’tis no more difficult to apprehend, how the hurts of those should be translated upon their other bodies, than how diseases should be inflicted by the imagination, or how the fancy of the mother should wound the foettis, as several credible relations do attest.”
All magical or Platonic writers of the times speak much of the transformation or projection of the sidereal body of witch or wizard. Once the soul escapes from the natural body, though but for a moment, it passes into the body of air and can transform itself as it please or even dream itself into some shape it has not willed.

“Chameleon-like thus they their colour change,
And size contract and then dilate again

   One of their favourite stories is of some famous man, John Haydon says Socrates, falling asleep among his friends, who presently see a mouse running from his mouth and towards a little stream. Somebody lays a sword across the stream that it may pass, and after a little while it returns across the sword and to the sleeper’s mouth again. When he awakes he tells them that he has dreamed of himself crossing a wide river by a great iron bridge.
But the witch’s wandering and disguised double was not the worst shape one might meet in the fields or roads about a witch’s house. She was not a true witch unless there was a compact (or so it seems) between her and an evil spirit who called himself the devil, though Bodin believes that he was often, and Glanvill always, “some human soul forsaken of God,” for “the devil is a body politic.” The ghost or devil promised revenge on her enemies and that she would never want, and she upon her side let the devil suck her blood nightly or at need.
When Elizabeth Style made a confession of witchcraft before the Justice of Somerset in 1664, the Justice appointed three men, William Thick and William Read and Nicholas Lambert, to watch her, and Glanvill publishes an affidavit of the evidence of Nicholas Lambert. “About three of the clock in the morning there came from her head a glistering bright fly, about an inch in length which pitched at first in the chimney and then vanished.” Then two smaller flies came and vanished. “H; looking steadfastly then on Style, perceived her countenance to change, and to become very black and ghastly and the fire also at the same time changing its colour; whereupon the Examinant, Thick and Read, conceiving that her familiar was then about her, looked to her poll, and seeing her hair shake very strangely, took it up and then a fly like a great miller flew out from the place and pitched on the table board and then vanished away. Upon this the Examinant and the other two persons, looking again in Style’s poll found it very red and like raw beef. The Examinant ask’d her what it was that went out of her poll, she said it was a butterfly, and asked them why they had not caught it. Lambert said, they could not. I think so too, answered she. A little while after the informant and the others, looking again into her poll found the place to be of its former colour. The Examinant asked again what the fly was, she confessed it was her familiar and that she felt it tickle in her poll, and that was the usual time for her familiar to come to her.” These sucking devils alike when at their meal, or when they went here and there to do her will or about their own business, had the shapes of pole-cat or cat or greyhound or of some moth or bird. At the trials of certain witches in Essex in 1645 reported in the English state trials a principal witness was one “Matthew Hopkins, gent.” Bishop Hutchinson, writing in 1730, describes him as he appeared to those who laughed at witchcraft and had brought the witch trials to an end. “Hopkins went on searching and swimming poor creatures till some gentlemen, out of indignation of the barbarity, took him, and tied his own thumbs and toes as he used to tie others, and when he was put into the water he himself swam as they did. That cleared the country of him and it was a great pity that they did not think of the experiment sooner.” Floating when thrown into the water was taken for a sign of witchcraft. Matthew Hopkins’s testimony, however, is uncommonly like that of the countryman who told Lady Gregory that he had seen his dog and some shadow fighting. A certain Mrs. Edwards of Manintree in Essex had her hogs killed by witchcraft, and “going from the house of the said Mrs. Edwards to his own house, about nine or ten of the clock that night, with his greyhound with him, he saw the greyhound suddenly give a jump, and run as she had been in full course after a hare; and that when this informant made haste to see what his greyhound so eagerly pursued, he espied a white thing, about the bigness of a kitlyn, and the greyhound standing aloof from it; and that by and by the said white imp or kitlyn danced about the grey-hound, and by all likelihood bit off a piece of the flesh of the shoulder of the said greyhound; for the greyhound came shrieking and crying to the informant, with a piece of flesh torn from her shoulder. And the informant further saith, that coming into his own yard that night, he espied a black thing proportioned like a cat, only it was thrice as big, sitting on a strawberry bed, and fixing the eyes on this informant, and when he went to-wards it, it leaped over the pale towards this informant, as he thought, but ran through the yard, with his greyhound after it, to a great gate, which was underset with a pair of tumble strings, and did throw the said gate wide open, and then vanished; and ‘he said greyhound returned again to this informant, shaking and trembling exceedingly.” At the same trial Sir Thomas Bowes, Knight, affirmed “that a very honest man of Manintree, whom he knew would not speak an untruth affirmed unto him, ‘hat very early one morning, as he passed by the said Anne West’s door” (this is the witch on trial) “about four o’clock, it being a moonlight night, and perceiving her door to be open so early in the morning, looked into the house and presently there came three or four little things, in the shape of black rabbits, leaping and skipping about him, who, having a good stick in his hand, struck at them, thinking to kill them, but could not; but at last caught one of them in his hand, and holding it by the body of it, he beat the head of it against his stick, intending to beat out the brains of it; but when he could not kill it that way, he took the body of it in one hand and the head of it in another, and endeavoured to wring off the head; and as he wrung and stretched the neck of it, it came out between his hands like a lock of wool; yet he would not give over his intended purpose, but knowing of a spring not far off, he went to drown it; but still as he went he fell down and could not go, but down he fell again, so that he at last crept upon his hands and knees till he came at the water, and holding it fast in his hand, he put his hand down into the water up to the elbow, and held it under water a good space till he conceived it was drowned, and then letting go his hand, it sprung out of the water up into the air, and so vanished away.” However, the sucking imps were not always invulnerable for Glanvill tells how one John Monpesson, whose house was haunted by such a familiar, “seeing some wood move that was in the chimney of a room, where he was, as if of itself, discharged a pistol into it after which they found several drops of blood on the hearth and in divers places of the stairs.” I remember the old Aran man who heard fighting in the air and found blood in a fish-box and scattered through the room, and I remember the measure of blood Odysseus poured out for the shades.
The English witch trials are like the popular poetry of England, matter-of-fact and unimaginative. The witch desires to kill some one and when she takes the devil for her husband he as likely as not will seem dull and domestic. Rebecca West told Matthew Hopkins that the devil appeared to her as she was going to bed and told her he would marry her. He kissed her but was as cold as clay, and he promised to be “her loving husband till death,” although she had, as it seems, but one leg. But the Scotch trials are as wild and passionate as is the Scottish poetry, and we find ourselves in the presence of a mythology that differs little, if at all, from that of Ireland. There are orgies of lust and of hatred and there is a wild shamelessness that would be fine material for poets and romance writers if the world should come once more to half-believe the tale. They are divided into troops of thirteen, with the youngest witch for leader in every troop, and though they complain that the embraces of the devil are as cold as ice, the young witches prefer him to their husbands. He gives them money, but they must spend it quickly, for it will be but dry cow dung in two circles of the clock. They go often to Elfhame or Faeryland and the mountains open before them and as they go out and in they are terrified by the “rowtling and skoylling” of the great “elf bulls.” They sometimes confess to trooping in the shape of cats and to finding upon their terrestrial bodies when they awake in the morning the scratches they had made upon one another in the night’s wandering, or should they have wandered in the images of hares the bites of dogs. Isobell Godie who was tried at Loclilay in 1662 confessed that “We put besoms in our beds with our husbands till we return again to them… and then we would fly away where we would be, even as straws would fly upon a highway. We will fly like straws when we please; wild straws and corn straws will be horses to us, and we put them betwixt our feet and say horse and hillock in the devil’s name. And when any see these straws in a whirlwind and do not sanctify themselves, we may shoot them dead at our pleasure.” When they kill people, she goes on to say, the souls escape them “but their bodies remain with us and will fly as horses to us all as small as straws.” It is plain that it is the “airy body” they take possession of; those “animal spirits” perhaps which Henry More thought to be the link between soul and body and the seat of all vital function. The trials were more unjust than those of England, where there was a continual criticism from sceptics; torture was used again and again to distort confessions, and innocent people certainly suffered; some who had but believed too much in their own dreams and some who had but cured the sick at some vision’s prompting. Alison Pearson who was burnt in 1588 might have been Biddy Early or any other knowledge-able woman in Ireland today. She was convicted “for haunting and repairing with the Good Neighbours and queen of Elfhame, these divers years and bypast, as she had confessed in her depositions, declaring that she could not say readily how long She was with them; and that she had friends in that court who were of her own blood and who had great acquaintance of the queen of Elfhame. That when she went to bed she never knew where she would be carried before dawn.” When they worked cures they had the same doctrine of the penalty that one finds in Lady Gregory’s stories. One who made her confession before James I. was convicted for “taking the sick party’s pains and sicknesses upon herself for a time and then translating them to a third person.”


There are more women than men mediums today; and there have been or seem to have been more witches than wizards. The wizards of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries relied more upon their conjuring book than the witches whose visions and experiences seem but half voluntary, and when voluntary called up by some childish rhyme:

Hare, hare, God send thee care;
I am in a hare’s likeness now,
But I shall be a woman even now;
Hare, hare, God send thee care

   More often than not the wizards were learned men, alchemists or mystics, and if they dealt with the devil at times, or some spirit they called by that name, they had amongst them ascetics and heretical saints. Our chemistry, our metallurgy, and our medicine are often but accidents that befell in their pursuit or the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life. They were bound together in secret societies and had, it may be, some forgotten practice for liberating the soul from the body and sending it to fetch and carry them divine knowledge. Cornelius Agrippa in a letter quoted by Beaumont, has hints of such a practice. Yet like the witches, they worked many wonders by the power of the imagination, perhaps one should say by their power of up vivid pictures in the mind’s eye. The Arabian philosophers have taught, writes Beaumont, “that the soul by the power the imagination can perform what it pleases; as penetrate heavens, force the elements, demolish mountains, raise valleys to mountains, and do with all material forms as it pleases.”

He shewed hym, er he wente to sopeer,
Pores tes, parkes ful of wilde deer;
Ther saugh he hertes with hir hornes hye,
The gretteste that evere were seyn with ye.

Tho saugh he knyghtes justing in a playn;
And after this, he dide hym swich plaisaunce,
That he hym shewed his lady on a daunce
On which hymself he daunced, as hym thoughte.
And whan this maister, that this magyk wroughte,
Saugh it was tyme, he clapte his handes two,
And, farewel! al our revel was ago

   One has not as careful a record as one has of the works of witches, for but few English wizards came before the court, the only society for psychical research in those days. The translation, however, of Cornelius Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia in the seventeenth century, with the addition of a spurious fourth book full of conjurations, seems to have filled England and Ireland with whole or half wizards. In 1703, the Reverend Arthur Bedford of Bristol, who is quoted by Sibley in his big book on astrology, wrote to the Bishop of Gloucester telling how a certain Thomas Perks had been to consult him. Thomas Perks lived with his father, a gunsmith, and devoted his leisure to mathematics, astronomy, and the discovery of perpetual motion. One day he asked the clergyman if it was wrong to commune with spirits, and said that he himself held that “there was an innocent society with them which a man might use, if he made no compacts with them, did no harm by their means, and were not curious in prying into hidden things, and he himself had discoursed with them and heard them sing to his great satisfaction.” He then told how it was his custom to go to a crossway with lantern and candle consecrated for the purpose, according to the directions in a book he had, and having also consecrated chalk for making a circle. The spirits appeared to him “in the likeness of little maidens about a foot and a half high … they spoke with a very shrill voice like an ancient woman” and when he begged them to sing, “they went to some distance behind a bush from whence he could hear a perfect concert of such exquisite music as he never before heard; and in the upper part he heard something very harsh and shrill like a reed but as it was managed did give a particular grace to the rest.” The Reverend Arthur Bedford refused an introduction to the spirits for himself and a friend and warned him very solemnly. Having some doubt of his sanity, he set him a difficult mathematical problem, but finding that he worked it easily, concluded him sane. A quarter of a year later the young man came again, but showed by his face and his eyes that he was very ill and lamented that he had not followed the clergyman’s advice for his conjurations would bring him to his death. He had decided to get a familiar and had read in his magical book what he should do. He was to make a book of virgin parchment, consecrate it, and bring it to the cross-road, and having called up his spirits, ask the first of them for its name and write that name on the first page of the book and then question another and write that name on the second page and so on till he had enough familiars. He had got the first name easily enough and it was in Hebrew, but after that they came in fearful shapes, lions and bears and the like, or hurled at him halls of fire. He had to stay there among those terrifying visions till the dawn broke and would not be the better of it till he died. I have read in some eighteenth century book whose name I cannot recall of two men who made a magic circle and who invoked the spirits of the moon and saw them trampling about the circle as great bulls, or rolling about it as flocks of wool. One of Lady Gregory’s story-tellers considered a flock of wool one of the worst shapes that a spirit could take.
There must have been many like experimenters in Ireland. An Irish alchemist called Butler was supposed to have made successful transmutations in London early in the eighteenth century, and in the Life of Dr. Adam Clarke, published in 1833, are several letters from a Dublin maker of stained glass describing a transmutation and a conjuration into a tumbler of water of large lizards. The alchemist was an unknown man who had called to see him and claimed to do all by the help of the devil “who was the friend of all ingenious gentlemen.”

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregorySeers and Healers

In talking to the people I often heard the name of Biddy Early, and I began to gather many stories of her, some calling her a healer and some a witch. Some said she had died a long time ago, and some that she was still living. I was sure after a while that she was dead, but was told that her house was still standing, and was on the other side of Slieve Echtge, between Feakie and Tulla. So one day I set out and drove Shamrock, my pony, to a shooting lodge built by my grandfather in a fold of the mountains, and where I had sometimes, when a young girl, stayed with my brothers when they were shooting the wild deer that came and sheltered in the woods. It had like other places on our estate a border name brought over from Northumberland, but though we called it Chevy Chase the people spoke of its woods and outskirts as Daire-caol, the Narrow Oak Wood, and Daroda, the Two Roads, and Druim-da-Rod, their Ridge. I stayed tile night in the low thatched house, setting out next day for Feakle “eight strong miles over the mountain.” It was a wild road, and the pony had to splash his way through two unbridged rivers, swollen with the summer rains. The red mud of the road, the purple heather and foxglove, the brown bogs were a contrast to the grey rocks and walls of Burren and Aidline, and there were many low hills, brown when near, misty blue in the distance; then the Golden Mountain, Slieve nan-Or, “where the last great battle will be fought before the end of the world.” Then I was out of Connacht into Clare, the brown turning to green pasture as I drove by Raftery’s Lough Greine.
I put up my pony at a little inn. There were portraits of John Dillon and Michael Davitt hanging in the parlour, and the landlady told me Parnell’s likeness had been with them, until the priest had told her he didn’t think well of her hanging it there. There was also on the wall, in a frame, a warrant for the arrest of one of her sons, signed by, I think, Lord Cowper, in the days of the Land War. “He got half a year in gaol the same year Parnell did. He got sick there, and though he lived for some years the doctor said when he died the illness he got in gaol had to do with his death.”
I had been told how to find Biddy Early’s house “beyond the little hum py bridge,” and I walked on till I came to it, a poor cottage enough, high up on a mass of rock by the roadside. There was only a little girl in the house, but her mother came in afterwards and told me that Biddy Early had died about twenty years before, and that after they had come to live in the house they had been “annoyed for a while” by people coming to look for her. She had sent them away, telling them Biddy Early was dead, though a friendly priest had said to her, “Why didn’t you let on you were her and make something out of them?” She told me some of the stories I give below, and showed me the shed where the healer had consulted with her invisible friends. I had already been given by an old patient of hers a “bottle” prepared for the cure, but which she had been afraid to use. It lies still unopened on a shelf in my storeroom. When I got back at nzght fall to the lodge in the woods I found many of the neighbours gathered there, wanting to hear news of “the Tulla Woman” and to know for certain if she was dead. I think as time goes on her fame will grow and some of the myths that always hang in the air will gather round her, for I think the first thing I was told of her was, “There used surely to be enchanters in the old time, magicians and freemasons. Old Biddy Early’s power came from the same thing.” [11]

An Old Woman in the Lodge Kitchen says:

Do you remember the time John Kevin beyond went to see Biddy Early, for his wife, she was sick at the time. And Biddy Early knew everything, and that there was a forth behind her house, and she said, “Your wife is too fond of going out late at night.”

I was told by a Gate-keeper

There was a man at Cranagh had one of his sheep shorn in the night, and all the wool taken. And he got on his horse and went to Feakie and Biddy Early, and she told him the name of the man that did it, and where it was hidden, and so he got it back again.
There was a man went to Biddy Early, and she told him that the woman he’d marry would have had her husband killed by his brother. And so it happened, for the woman he married was sitting by the fire with her husband, and the brother came in, having a drop of drink taken, and threw a pint pot at him that hit him on the head and killed him. It was the man that married her that told me this.

Mrs. Kearns

Did I know any one that was taken by them? Well, I never knew one that was brought back again. Himself went one time to Biddy Early for his uncle, Donohue, that was sick, and he found her there and her fingers all covered with big gold rings, and she gave him a bottle, and she said: “Go in no house on your way home, or stop nowhere, or you’ll lose it.” But going home he had a thirst on him and he came to a public-house, and he wouldn’t go in, but he stopped and bid the boy bring him out a drink. But a little farther on the road the horse got a fall, and the bottle was broke.

Mrs. Cregan

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

Daniel Curtin

Did I ever hear of Biddy Early? There’s not a man in this countryside over forty year old that hasn’t been with her some time or other. There’s a man living in that house over there was sick on time, and he went to her, and she cured him, but says she, “You’ll have to lose something, and don’t fret after it.” So he had a grey mare and she was going to foal, and one morning when he went out he saw that the foal was born, and was lying dead by the side of the wall. So he remembered what she said to him and he didn’t fret.
There was one Dillane in Kinvara, Sir William knew him well, and he went to her one time for a cure. And Father Andrew came to the house and was mad with him for going, and says he, “You take the cure out of the hands of God.” And Mrs. Dillane said, “Your Reverence, none of us can do that.” “Well,” says Father Andrew, “then I’ll see what the devil can do and I’ll send my horse tomorrow, that has a sore in his leg this long time, and try will she be able to cure him.”
So next day he sent a man with his horse, and when he got to Biddy Early’s house she came out, and she told him every word that Father Andrew had said, and she cured the sore. So after that, he left the people alone; but before it, he’d be dressed in a frieze coat and a riding whip in his hand, driving away the people from going to her.
She had four or five husbands, and they all died of drink one after another. Maybe twenty or thirty people would be there in the day looking for cures, and every one of them would bring a bottle of whiskey. Wild cards they all were, or they wouldn’t have married her. She’d help too to bring the butter back. Always on the first of May, it used to be taken, and maybe what would be taken from one man would be conveyed to another.

Mr. McCabe

Biddy Early? Not far from this she lived, above at Feakle. I got cured by her myself one time. Look at this thumb–I got it hurted one time, and I went out into the field after and was ploughing all the day, I was that greedy for work. And when I went in I had to lie on the bed with the pain of it, and it swelled and the arm with it, to the size of a horse’s thigh. I stopped two or three days in the bed with the pain of it, and then my wife went to see Biddy Early and told her about it, and she came home and the next day it burst, and you never seen anything like all the stuff that came away from it. A good bit after I went to her myself, where it wasn’t quite healed, and she said, “You’d have lost it altogether if your wife hadn’t been so quick to come.” She brought me into a small room, and said holy words and sprinkled holy water and told me to believe. The priests were against her, but they were wrong. How could that be evil doing that was all charity and kindness and healing?
She was a decent looking woman, no different from any other woman of the country. The boy she was married to at the time was lying drunk in the bed. There were side-cars and common cars and gentry and country people at the door, just like Gort market, and dinner for all that came, and everyone would bring her something, but she didn’t care what it was. Rich farmers would bring her the whole side of a pig. Myself, I brought a bottle of whiskey and a shilling’s worth of bread, and a quarter of sugar and a quarter pound of tea. She was very rich, for there wasn’t a farmer but would give her the grass of a couple of bullocks or a filly. She had the full of a field of fillies if they’d all been gathered together. She left no children, and there’s no doubt at all that the reason of her being able to do cures was that she was away seven years. She didn’t tell me about it but she spoke of it to others.
When I was coming away I met a party of country people on a cart from Limerick, and they asked where was her house, and I told them: “Go on to the cross, and turn to the left, and follow the straight road till you come to the little humpy bridge, and soon after that you’ll come to the house.”
But the priests would be mad if they knew that I told anyone the way.
She died about twelve year ago; I didn’t go to the wake my-self, or the funeral, but I heard that her death was natural.
No, Mrs. Early is no relation to Biddy Early–the nuns asked her the same thing when she was married. A cousin of hers had her hand cut with a jug that was broke, and she went up to her and when she got there, Biddy Early said “It’s a thing you never should do, to beat a child that breaks a cup or a jug.” And sure enough it was a child that broke it, and she beat her for doing it. But cures she did sure enough.

Bartley Coen

There was a neighbour of my own, Andrew Dennehy:
I was knocked up by him one night to go to the house, because he said they were calling to him. But when they got there, there was nothing to be found. But some see these things, and some can’t. It’s against our creed to believe in them. And the priests won’t let on that they believe in them themselves, but they are more in dread of going about at night than any of us. They were against Biddy Early too. There was a man I knew living near the sea, and he set out to go to her one time. And on his way he went into his brother-in-law’s house, and the priest came in there, and bid him not to go on. “Well, Father,” says he, “cure me yourself if you won’t let me go to her to be cured.” And when the priest wouldn’t do that (for the priests can do many cures if they like to), he went on to her. And the minute he came in, “Well,” says she, “you made a great fight for me on the way.” For though it’s against our creed to believe it, she could hear any earthly thing that was said in every part, miles off. But she had two red eyes, and some used to say, “If she can cure so much, why can’t she cure her own eyes?”
No, she wasn’t away herself. It is said it was from a son of her own she got the knowledge, a little chap that was astray. And one day when he was lying sick in the bed he said: “There’s such and such a woman has a hen down in the pot, and if I had the soup of the hen, I think it would cure me.” So the mother went to the house, and when she got there, sure enough, there was a hen in the pot on the fire. But she was ashamed to tell what she came for, and she let on to have only come for a visit, and so she sat down. But presently in the heat of the talking she told what the little chap had said. “Well,” says the woman, “take the soup and welcome, and the hen too if it will do him any good.” So she brought them with her, and when the boy saw the soup, “It can t cure me,” says he, “for no earthly thing can do that. But since I see how kind and how willing you are, and did your best for me, I’ll leave you a way of living.” And so he did, and taught her all she knew. That’s what’s said at any rate.

Mr. Fahy

Well, that’s what’s believed, that it’s from her son Biddy Early got it. After his death always lamenting for him she was, till he came back, and gave her the gift of curing.
She had no red eyes, but was a fresh clean-looking woman, sure any one might have red eyes when they’d got a cold.
She wouldn’t refuse even a person that would come from the very bottom of the black North.
I was with Biddy Early myself one time, and got a cure from her for my little girl that was sick. A bottle of whiskey I brought her, and the first thing she did was to open it and to give me a glass out of it. “For,” says she, “you’ll maybe want it my poor man.” But I had plenty of courage in those days.
The priests were against her; often Father Boyle would speak of her in his sermons. They can all do those cures themselves, but that’s a thing it’s not right to be talking about.

The Little Girl of Biddy Early’s House

The people do be full of stories of all the cures she did. Once after we came to live here a carload of people came, and asked was Biddy Early here, and my mother said she was dead. When she told the priest he said she had a right to shake a bottle and say she was her, and get something from them. It was by the bottle she did all, to shake it, and she’d see everything when she looked in it. Sometimes she’d give a bottle of some cure to people that came, but if she’d say to them, “You’ll never bring it home,” break it they should on the way home, with all the care they’d take of it.
She was as good, and better, to the poor as to the rich. Any poor person passing the road, she’d call in and give a cup of tea or a glass of whiskey to, and bread and what they wanted.
She had a big chest within in that room, and it full of pounds of tea and bottles of wine and of whiskey and of claret, and all things in the world. One time she called in a man that was passing and gave him a glass of whiskey, and then she said to him., “The road you were going home by, don’t go by it.” So he asked why not, and she took the bottle–a long shaped bottle it was–and looked into it, holding it up, and then she bid him look through it, and he’d see what would happen him. But her husband said, “Don’t show it to him, it might give him a fright he wouldn’t get over.” So she only said, “Well, go home by another road.” And so he did and got home safe, for in the bottle she had seen a party of men that wouldn’t have let him pass alive. She got the rites of the Church when she died, but first she had to break the bottle.
It was from her brother that she got the power, when she had to go to the workhouse, and he came back, and gave her the way of doing the cures.

The Blacksmith I met near Tulla

I know you to be a respectable lady and an honourable one because I know your brothers, meeting them as I do at the fair of Scariff. No fair it would be if they weren’t there. I knew Biddy Early well, a nice fresh-looking woman she was. It’s to her the people used to be flocking, to the door and even to the window, and if they’d come late in the day, they’d have no chance of getting to her, they’d have to take lodgings for the night in the town. She was a great woman. If any of the men that came into the house had a drop too much drink taken, she’d turn them out if they said an unruly word. And if any of them were fighting or disputing or going to law, she’d say, “Be at one, and ye can rule the world.” The priests were against her and used to be taking the cloaks and the baskets from the country people to keep them back from going to her.
I never went to her myself–for you should know that no ill or harm ever comes to a blacksmith.

An Old Midwife

Tell me now is there anything wrong about you or your son that you went to that house? I went there but once myself, when my little girl that was married was bad, after her second baby being born. I went to the house and told her about it, and she took the bottle and shook it and looked in it, and then she turned and said something to himself [her husband] that I didn’t hear–and she just waved her hand to me like that, and bid me go home, for she would take nothing from me. But himself came out and told that what she was after seeing in the bottle was my little girl, and the coffin standing beside her. So I went home, and sure enough on the tenth day after, she was dead.
The lodge people came rushing out to see the picture of Biddy Early’s house and ask, “Did she leave the power to any one else?” and I told of the broken bottle. But Mr. McCabe said, “She only had the power for her own term, and no one else could get it from her.”
I asked old Mr. McCabe if he had lost anything when she cured him, and he said: “Not at that time, but sometimes I thought afterwards it came on my family when I lost so many of my children. A grand stout girl went from me, stout and broad, what would ail her to go?”

I was told by Mat King

Biddy Early surely did thousands of cures. Out in the stable she used to go, where her friends met her, and they told her all things. There was a little priest long ago used to do cures–Soggarthin Mina, they used to call him–and once he came in this house he looked up and said, “There–it’s full of them–there they are.”
There was a man, one Flaherty, came to his brother-in-law’s house one day to borrow a horse. And the next day the horse was sent back, but he didn’t come himself. And after a few days more they went to ask for him, but he had never come back at all. So the brother-in-law went to Biddy Early’s and she and some others were drinking whiskey, and they were sorry that they were near at the bottom of the bottle And she said: “That’s no matter, there’s a man on his way now, there’ll soon be more.” And sure enough there was, for he brought a bottle with him. So when he came in, he told her about Flaherty having disappeared. And she described to him a corner of a garden at the back of a house and she said, “Go look and you’ll find him there,” and so they did, dead and buried.
Another time a man’s cattle was dying, and he went to her and she said, “Is there such a place as Benburb, having a forth up on the hill beyond there? for it’s there they’re gone.” And sure enough, it was towards that forth they were straying before they died.

An Old Man on the Beach

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

Maher of SIeve Echtge

I knew a man went to Biddy Early, and while she was in the other room he made the tongs red hot and laid them down, and when she came back she took them up and burned herself. And he said, if she had known anything she’d have known not to touch it, that it was red hot. So he walked off and asked for no cure.

The Spinning-Woman

Biddy Early was a witch, wherever she got it. There was a priest at Feakle spoke against her one time, and soon after he was passing near her house and she put something on the horse so that he made a bolt into the river and stopped there in the middle, and wouldn’t go back or forward. Some people from the neighbourhood went to her, and she told them all about the whole place, and that one time there was a great battle about the castle, and that there is a passage going from here to the forth beyond on Dromore Hill, and to another place that’s near Maher’s house. And she said that there is a cure for all sicknesses hidden between the two wheels of Ballylee mill. And how did she know that there was a mill here at all? Witchcraft wherever she got it; away she may have been in a trance. She had a son, and one time he went to the hurling beyond at some place in Tipperary, and none could stand against him; he was like a deer.
I went to Biddy Early one time myself, about my little boy that’s now in America that was lying sick in the house. But on the way to her I met a sergeant of police and he asked where was I going, and when I told him, he said, to joke with me, “Biddy Early’s dead.” “May the devil die with her,” says I. Well, when I got to the house, what do you think, if she didn’t know that, and what I said. And she was vexed and at the first, she would do nothing for me. I had a pound for her here in my bosom. But when I held it out she wouldn’t take it, but she turned the rings on her fingers, for she had a ring for every one, and she said, “A shilling for this one, sixpence for another one.” But all she told me was that the boy was nervous, and so he was, she was right in that, and that he’d get well, and so he did.
There was a man beyond in Cloon, was walking near the gate the same day and his little boy with him, and he turned his foot and hurt it, and she knew that. She told me she slept in Ballylee mill last night, and that there was a cure for all things in the world between the two wheels there. Surely she was away herself, and as to her son, she brought him back with her, and for eight or nine year he lay in the bed in the house. And he’d never stir so long as she was in it, but no sooner was she gone away anywhere than he’d be out down the village among the people, and then back again before she’d get to the house.
She had three husbands, I saw one of them when I was there, but I knew by the look of him he wouldn’t live long. One man I know went to her and she sent him on to a woman at Kilrush–one of her own sort, and they helped one another. She said to some woman I knew: “If you have a bowl broke or a plate throw it out of the door, and don’t make any attempt to mend it, it vexes them.”

Mrs. McDonagh

Our religion doesn’t allow us to go to fortune tellers. They don’t get the knowledge from God, and so it must be from demons.
The priests took the bottle from Biddy Early before she died, and they found black things in it.
I never went to Biddy Early myself. I think there was a good deal of devilment in the things she did. The priests can do cures as well as she did, but they don’t like to do them, unless they’re curates that like to get the money.
There was a man in Cloughareeva and his wife was that bad she would go out in her shift at night into the field. And he went to Biddy Early and she said, “Within three days a disgraced priest will come to you and will cure her.”
And after three days the disgraced priest that had been put out for drink came bowling into the house, and they reached down from the shelf a bottle of whiskey. Father Boyle was mad when he heard of it, but he cured her all the same.
There was a man on this estate, and he sixty years, and he took to the bed, and his wife went to Biddy Early and she said, “It can’t be by them he’s taken, what use would it be to them, he being so old.” And Biddy Early is the one that should surely know. I went to her myself one time, to get a cure for myself when I fell coming down that hill up there, and got a hurt on my knee. And she gave me one and she told me all about the whole place, and that there was a bowl broken in the house, and so there was. The priests can do cures by the same power that she had, but those that have much stock don’t like to be doing them, for they’re sure to lose all.
I knew one went to Biddy Early about his wife, and as soon as she saw him, she said, “On the fourth day a discarded priest will call in and cure your wife”; and so he did–one Father James.

Mrs. Nelly

The old man here that lost his hair went to Biddy Early but he didn’t want to go, and we forced him and persuaded him. And when he got to the house she said, “It wasn’t of your own free will you came here,” and she wouldn’t do anything for him.
She didn’t like either for you to go too late. Dolan’s sister was sick a long time, and when the brother went at the last to Biddy Early she gave him a bottle with a cure. But on the way home the bottle was broke, and the car, and the horse got a fright and ran away. She said to him then, “Why did you go to cut down the bush of white thorn you see out of the window?” And then she told him an old woman in the village had overlooked him–Murphy’s sister–and she gave him a bottle to sprinkle about her house. I suppose she didn’t like that bush being interfered with, she had too much charms.
And when Doctor Folan was sent for to see her he was led astray, and it is beyond Ballylee he found himself. And surely she was taken if ever any one was.

An Old Woman

I went up to Biddy Early’s one time with another woman. A fine stout woman she was, sitting straight up on her chair. She looked at me and she told me that my son was worse than what I was, and for myself she bid me to take what I was taking before, and that’s dandelions. Five leaves she bid me pick and lay them out on the table with three pinches of salt on the three middle ones. As to my son, she gave me a bottle for him but he wouldn’t take it and he got better without.
The priests were against her, but there was one of them passed near her house one day, and his horse fell forward. And he sent his boy to her and she said, “Tell him to spit on the horse and to say, “God bless it,'” and he did and it rose again. He had looked at it proud-like without saying “God bless it” in his heart.

Daniel Shea

It was all you could do to get to Biddy Early with your skin whole, the priests were so set against her. I went to her one time myself, and it was hard when you got near to know the way, for all the people were afraid to tell it.
It was about a little chap of my own I went, that some strange thing had been put upon. When I got to her house there were about fifty to be attended to before me, and when my turn came she looked in the bottle, a sort of a common greenish one that seemed to have nothing in it. And she told me where I came from, and the shape of the house and the appearance of it, and of the lake you see there, and everything round about. And she told me of a lime-kiln that was near, and then she said, “The harm that came to him came from the forth beyond that.” And I never knew of there being a forth there, but after I came home I went to Jook, and there sure enough it was.
And she told me how it had come on him, and bid me remember a day that a certain gentleman stopped and spoke to me when I was out working in the hayfield, and the child with me playing about. And I remembered it well, it was old James Hill of Creen, that was riding past, and stopped and talked and was praising the child. And it was close by that forth beyond that lames Hill was born.
It was soon after that day that the mother and I went to Loughrea, and when we came back, the child had slipped on the threshold of the house and got a fall, and he was screeching and calling out that his knee was hurt, and from that time he did no good, and pined away and had the pain in the knee always.
And Biddy Early said, “While you’re talking to me now the child lies dying,” and that was at twelve o’clock in the day. And she made up a bottle for me, herbs I believe it was made of, and she said, “Take care of it going home, and whatever may happen, don’t drop it”; and she wrapped it in all the folds of my handkerchief. So when I was coming home and got near Tillyra I heard voices over the wall talking, and when I got to the Roxborough gate there were many people talking and coming to where we were. I could hear them and see them, and the man that was with me. But when I heard them I remembered what she said, and I took the bottle in my two hands and held it, and so I brought it home safely. And when I got home they told me the child was worse, and that at twelve o’clock the day before he lay as they thought dying. And when I brought the bottle to him, he pulled the bed-clothes up over his head, and we had the work of the world to make him taste it. But from the time he took it, the pain in the knee left him and he began to get better, and Biddy Early had told me not to let many days pass without coming to her again, when she gave me the bottle. But seeing him so well, I thought it no use to go again, and it was not on May Day, but it was during the month of May he died. He took to the bed before that, and he’d be always calling to me to come inside the bed where he was and if I went in, he’d hardly let me go. But I got afraid, and I didn’t like to be too much with him.
He was but eight years old when he died, but Ned Cahel that used to live beyond there then told me privately that when I’d be out of the house and he’d come in, the little chap would ask for the pipe, and take it and smoke it, but he’d never let me see him doing it. And he was old-fashioned in all his ways.
Another thing Biddy Early told me to do was to go out before sunrise to where there’d be a boundary wall between two or three estates, and to bring a bottle, and lay it in the grass and gather the dew into it. But there were hundreds of people she turned away, because she’d say, “What’s wrong with you has nothing to do with my business.”
There was a Clare woman with me when I went there, and she told me there was a boy from a village near her was brought tied in a cart to Biddy Early, and she said, “If I cure you, will you be willing to marry me?” And he said he would. So she cured him and married him. I saw him there at her house. It might be that she had the illness put upon him first.
The priests don’t do cures by the same means, and they don’t like to do them at all. It was in my house that you see that Father Gregan did one on Mr. Phayre. And he cured a girl up in the mountains after, and where is he now but in a madhouse. They are afraid of the power they do them by, that it will be too strong for them. Some say the bishops don’t like them to do cures because the whiskey they drink to give them courage before they do them is very apt to make drunkards of them. It’s not out of the prayer-book they read, but out of the Roman ritual, and that’s a book you can read evil out of as well as good.
There was a boy of the Saggartons in the house went to Biddy Early and she told him the house of his bachelor [the girl he would marry] and he did marry her after. And she cured him of a weakness he had and cured many, but it was seldom the bottle she’d give could be brought home without being spilled. I wonder did she go to them when she died. She got the cure among them anyway.

Mrs. Dillon

My mother got crippled in her bed one night-God save the hearers–and it was a long time before she could walk again with the pain in her back. And my father was always telling her to go to Biddy Early, and so at last she went. But she could do nothing for her, for she said, “What ails you has nothing to do with my business.” And she said, “You have lost three, and one was a grand little fair-haired one, and if you’d like to see her again, I’ll show her to you.” And when she said that, my mother had no courage to look and to see the child she lost, but fainted then and there. And then she said, “There’s a field of corn beyond your house and a field with hay, and it’s not long since that the little fellow that wears a Llanberis cap fell asleep there on a cock of hay. And before the stooks of corn are in stacks he’ll be taken from you, but I’ll save him if I can.” And it was true enough what she said, my little brother that was wearing a Llanberis cap had gone to the field, and had fallen asleep on the hay a few days before. But no harm happened him, and he’s all the brother I have living now. Out in the stable she used to go to meet her people.

Mrs. Locke:

It was my son was thatching Heniff’s house when he got the touch, and he came back with a pain in his back and in his shoulders, and took to the bed. And a few nights after that I was asleep, and the little girl came and woke me and said, “There’s none of us can sleep, with all the cars and carriages rattling round the house.” But though I woke and heard her say that, I fell into a sound sleep again and never woke till morning. And one night there came two taps at the window, one after another, and we all heard it and no one there. And at last I sent the eldest boy to Biddy Early and he found her in the house. She was then married to her fourth man. And she said he came a day too soon and would do nothing for him. And he had to walk away in the rain. And the next day he went back and she said, “Three days later and you’d have been too late.” And she gave him two bottles, the one he was to bring to a boundary water and to fill it up, and that was to be rubbed to the back, and the other was to drink. And the minute he got them he began to get well, and he left the bed and could walk, but he was always delicate. When we rubbed his back we saw a black mark, like the bite of a dog, and as to his face, it was as white as a sheet.
I have the bottle here yet, though it’s thirty year ago I got it. She bid the boy to bring whatever was left of it to a river, and to pour it away with the running water. But when he got well I did nothing with it, and said nothing about it-and here it is now for you to see. I never let on to Father Folan that I went to her, but one time the Bishop came, Maclnerny. I knew he was a rough man, and I went to him and made my confession, and I said, “Do what you like with me, but I’d walk the world for my son when he was sick.” And all he said was, “It would have been no wonder if the two feet had been cut off from the messenger.” And he said no more and put nothing on me.
There was a boy I saw went to Biddy Early, and she gave him a bottle and told him to mind he did not lose it in the crossing of some road. And when he came to the place it was broke.
Often I heard of Biddy Early, and I knew of a little girl was sick and the brother went to Biddy Early to ask would she get well. And she said, “They have a place ready for her, room for her they have.” So he knew she would die, and so she did.
The priests can do things too, the same way as she could, for there was one Mr. Lyne was dying, a Protestant, and the priest went in and baptized him a Catholic before he died, and he said to the people after, “He’s all right now, in another world.” And it was more than the baptizing made him sure of that.
Mrs. Brennan, in the house beyond, went one time to Biddy Early, where the old man was losing his health. And all she told him was to bid him give over drinking so much whiskey. So after she said that, he used only to be drinking gin.
There was a boy went to Biddy Ear]y for his father, and she said, “It’s not any of my business that’s on him, but it’s good for yourself that you came to me. Weren’t you sowing potatoes in such a field one day and didn’t you find a bottle of whiskey, and bring it away and drink what was in it?” And that was true and it must have been a bottle they brought out of some cellar and dropped there, for they can bring everything away, and put in its place what will look like it.
There was a boy near Feakle got the touch in three places, and he got a great desire to go out night-walking, and he got sick. And they asked Biddy Early and she said, “Watch the hens when they come in to roost at night, and catch a hold of the last one that comes.” So the mother caught it, and then she thought she’d like to see what would Biddy Early do with it. So she brought it up to her house and laid it on the floor, and it began to rustle its wings, and it lay over and died. It was from her brother Biddy Early got the cure. He was sick a long time, and there was a whitethorn tree out in the field, and he’d go and lie under it for shade from the sun. Anf after he died, every day for a year she’d cry her fill. And then he brought her under and gave her the cure. It was after that she was in service beyond Kinvara. She did her first cure on a boy, after the doctors gave him up.

An Old Man from Kinvara

My wife is paralysed these thirty-six years, and the neighbours said she’d get well if the child died, for she got it after her confinement, all in a minute. But the child died in a year and eleven months, and she got no better. And then they said she’d get taken after twenty-one years, but that passed, and she’s just the same way. And she’s as good a Christian as any all the time.
I went to Biddy Early one time about her. She was a very old woman, all shaky, and the crankiest woman I ever saw. And the husband was a fine young man, and he lying in the bed. It was a man from Kinvara half-paralysed I brought with me, and she would do nothing for him at first, and then the husband bid her do what she could. So she took the bottle and shook it and looked in it, and she said what was in him was none of her business. And I had work to get him a lodging that night in Feakle, for the priests had all the people warned against letting any one in that had been to her. She wouldn’t take the whiskey I brought, but the husband and myself, we opened it and drank it between us.
She gave me a bottle for my wife, but when I got to the workhouse, where I had to put her in the hospital, they wouldn’t let me through the gate for they heard where I had been. So I had to hide the bottle for a night by a wall, on the grass, and I sent my brother’s wife to find it, and to bring it to her in the morning into the workhouse. But it did her no good, and Biddy Early told her after it was because I didn’t bring it straight to her, but had left it on the ground for the night.
Biddy Early beat all women. No one could touch her. I knew a girl, a friend of my own, at Burren and she was sick a long while and the doctors could do nothing for her, and the priests read over her but they could do nothing. And at last the husband went to Biddy Early and she said, “I can’t cure her, and the woman that can cure her lives in the village with her.” So he went home and told this and the women of the village came into the house and said, “God bless her,” all except one, and nothing would make her come into the house. But they watched her, and one night when a lot of them were sitting round the fire smoking, she let a spit fall on the floor. So they gathered that up (with respects to you), and brought it in to the sick woman and rubbed it to her, and she got well. It might have done as well if they brought a bit of her petticoat and burned it and rubbed the ashes on her. But there’s something strange about spits, and if you spit on a child or a beast it’s as good as if you’d say, “God bless it.”

John Curtin

I was with Biddy Early one time for my brother. She was out away in Ennis when we got to the house, and her husband that she called Tommy. And the kitchen was full of people waiting for her to come in. So then she came, and the day was rainy, and she was wet, and she went over to the fire, and began to take off her clothes, and to dry them, and then she said to her husband: “Tommy, get the bottle and give them all a drop.” So he got the bottle and gave a drink to everyone. But my brother was in behind the door, and he missed him and when he came back to the fire she said: “You have missed out the man that has the best heart of them all, and there he is behind the door.” And when my brother came out she said, “Give us a verse of a song,” and he said, “I’m no songster,” but she said, “I know well that you are, and a good dancer as well.” She cured him and his wife after.
There was a neighbour of mine went to her too, and she said:
“The first time you got the touch was the day you had brought a cart of turf from that bog at Ballinabucky to Scahanagh. And when you were in the road you got it, and you had to lie down on the creel of turf till you got to the public road.” And she told him that he had a pane of glass broke in his window and that was true enough. She must have been away walking with the faeries every night or how did she know that, or where the village of Scahanagh was?
Mrs. Kenny has been twice to Biddy Early. Once for her brother who was ill, and light-headed and sent to Galway. And Biddy Early shook the bottle twice, and she said, “It is none of my business, and it’s a heavy cold that settled in his head.” And she would not take the shilling. A red, red woman she was.

Masy Glyn

I am a Clare woman, but the last fifty years I spent in Connacht. Near Feakle I lived, but I only saw Biddy Early once, the time she was brought to the committee and to the courthouse. She lived in a little house near Feakle that time, and her landlord was Dr. Murphy in Limerick, and he sent men to evict her and to pull the house down, and she held them in the door and said: “Whoever will be the first to put a bar to the house, he’ll remember it.” And then a man put his bar in between two stones, and if he did, he turned and got a fall some-way and he broke the thigh. After that Dr. Murphy brought her to the court, “Faeries and all,” he said, for he brought the bottle along with her. So she was put out, but Murphy had cause to remember it, for he was living in a house by himself, and one night it caught fire and was burned down, and all that was left of him was one foot that was found in a corner of the walls. She had four husbands, and the priests wouldn’t marry her to the last one, and it was by the teacher that she was married. She was a good-looking woman, but like another, the day I saw her. My husband went to her the time Johnny, my little boy, was dying. lie had a great pain in his temple, and she said: “He has enough in him to kill a hundred; but if he lives till Monday, come and tell me.” But he was dead before that. And she said, “if you came to me before this, I’d not have let you stop in that house you’re in.” But Johnny died; and there was a blush over his face when he was going, and after that I couldn’t look at him, but those that saw him said that hewasn’t in it. I never saw him since, but often and often the father would go out thinking he might see him. But I know well he wouldn’t like to come back and to see me fretting for him.
We left the house after that and came here. A travelling woman that came in to see me one time in that house said, “This is a fine airy house,” and she said that three times, and then she said, “But in that corner of it you’ll lose your son,” and so it happened, and I wish now that I had minded what she said. A man and his family went into that house after, and the first summer they were in it, he and his sons were putting up a stack of bay in the field with pitchforks, and the pitchfork in his hand turned some way into his stomach and he died.
It is Biddy Early had the great name, but the priests were against her. There went a priest one time to stop her, and when he came near the door the horse fell that was in his car. Biddy Early came out then and bid him to give three spits on the horse, and he did that, and it rose up then and there. It was himself had put the evil eye on it. “It was yourself did it, you bodach,” she said to the priest. And he said, “You may do what you like from this out, and I will not meddle with you again.”

Mrs. Crone

I was myself digging potatoes out in that field beyond, and a woman passed by the road, but I heard her say nothing, but a pain came on my head and I fell down, and I had to go to my bed for three weeks. My mother went then to Biddy Early. Did you ever hear of her? And she looked in the blue bottle she had, and she said my name. And she saw me standing before her, and knew all about me and said, “Your daughter was digging potatoes with her husband in the field, and a woman passed by and she said, ‘It is as good herself is with a spade as the man,’ ” for I was a young woman at the time. She gave my mother a bottle for me, and I took three drinks of it in the bed, and then I got up as well as I was before.

Peter Feeney

Biddy Early said to a man that I met in America and that went to her one time, that this place between Finevara and Aughanish is the most haunted place in all Ireland.
Surely Biddy Early was away herself. That’s what I always heard. And I hear that at a hurling near Feakle the other day there was a small little man, and they say he was a friend of hers and has got her gift.


MRS. SHERIDAN, as I call her, was wrinkled and half blind, and had gone barefoot through her lifetime. She was old, for she had once met Raftery, the Gaelic poet, at a dance, and he died before the famine of ’47. She must have been comely then, for he had said to her: “Well planed you are; the carpenter that planed you knew his trade”; and she was ready of reply and answered him back, “Better than you know yours,” for his fiddle had two or three broken strings. And then he had spoken of a neighbour in some way that vexed her father, and he would let him speak no more with her. And she had carried a regret for this through her long life, for she said: “If it wasn’t for him speaking as he did, and my father getting vexed, he might have made words about me like he did for Mary Hynes and for Mary Brown.” She had never been to school she told me, because her father could not pay the penny a week it would have cost. She had never travelled many miles from the parish of her birth, and I am sure had never seen pictures except the sacred ones on chapel walls; and yet she could tell of a Cromwellian castle built up and of a drawbridge and of long-faced, fair-haired women, and of the yet earlier round house and saffron dress of the heroic times, I do not know whether by direct vision, or whether as Myers wrote: “It may even be that a World-soul is personally conscious of all its past, and that individual souls, as they enter into deeper consciousness enter into something which is at once reminiscence and actuality. . . . Past facts were known to men on earth, not from memory only but by written record; and these may be records, of what kind we know not, which persist in the spiritual world. Our retro cognitions seem often a recovery of isolated fragments of thought and feeling, pebbles still hard and rounded amid the indecipherable sands over which the mighty waters are ‘rolling evermore.’
She had never heard of the great mystic Jacob Behman, and yet when an unearthly visitor told her the country of youth is not far from the place where we live, she had come near to his root idea that “the world standeth in Heaven and Heaven in the World, and are in one another as day and night.”

I was told by Mrs. Sheridan:

There was a woman, Mrs. Keevan, killed near the big tree at Raheen, and her husband was after that with Biddy Early, and she said it was not the woman that had died at all, but a cow that died and was put in her place. All my life I’ve seen them and enough of them. One day I was with Tom Mannion by the big hole near his house, and we saw a man and a woman come from it, and a great troop of children, little boys they seemed to be, and they went through the gate into Coole, and there we could see them running and running along the wall. And I said to Tom Mannion, “It may be a call for one of us.” And he said, “Maybe it’s for some other one it is.” But on that day week he was dead.
One time I saw the old Colonel standing near the road, I know well it was him. But while I was looking at him, he was changed into the likeness of an ass.
I was led astray myself one day in Coole when I went to gather sticks for the fire. I was making a bundle of them, and I saw a boy beside me, and a little grey dogeen with him, and at first I thought it was William Hanlon, and then I saw it was not. And he walked along with me, and I asked him did he want any of the sticks and he said he did not, and he seemed as we were walking to grow bigger and bigger. And when he came to where the caves go underground he stopped, and I asked him his name, and he said, “You should know me, for you’ve seen me often enough.” And then he was gone, and I know that he was no living thing.
There was a child I had, and he a year and a half old, and he got a quinsy and a choking in the throat and I was holding him in my arms beside the fire, and all in a minute he died. And the men were working down by the river, washing sheep, and they heard the crying of a child from over there in the air, and they said, “That’s Sheridan’s child.” So I knew sure enough that he was taken.
Come here close and I’ll tell you what I saw at the old castle there below (Ballinamantane). I was passing there in the evening and I saw a great house and a grand one with screens (clumps of trees) at the ends of it, and the windows open-Coole house is nothing like what it was for size or grandeur. And there were people inside and ladies walking about, and a bridge across the river. For they can build up such things all in a minute. And two coaches came driving up and across the bridge to the castle, and in one of them I saw two gentlemen, and I knew them well and both of them had died long before. As to the coaches and the horses I didn’t take much notice of them for I was too much taken up with looking at the two gentlemen. And a man came and called out and asked me would I come across the bridge, and I said I would not. And he said, “It would be better for you if you did, you’d go back heavier than you came.” I suppose they would have given me some good thing. And then two men took up the bridge and laid it against the wall. Twice I’ve seen that same thing, the house and the coaches and the bridge, and I know well I’ll see it a third time before I die [12].
One time when I was living at Ballymacduff there was two little boys drowned in the river there, one was eight years old and the other eleven years. And I was out in the fields, and the people looking in the river for their bodies, and I saw a man coming away from it, and the two boys with him, he holding a hand of each and leading them away. And he saw me stop and look at them and he said, “Take care would you bring them from me, for you have only one in your own house, and if you take these from me, she’ll never come home to you again. And one of the little chaps broke from his hand and ran to me, and the other cried out to him, “Oh, Pat, would you leave me!” So then he went back and the man led them away. And then I saw another man, very tall he was, and crooked, and watching me like this with his head down and he was leading two dogs the other way, and I knew well where he was going and what he was going to do with them.
And when I heard the bodies were laid out, I went to the house to have a look at them, and those were never the two boys that were lying there, but the two dogs that were put in their places. I knew this by a sort of stripes on the bodies such as you’d see in the covering of a mattress; and I knew the boys couldn’t be in it, after me seeing them led away.
And it was at that time I lost my eye, something came on it, and I never got the sight again. All my life I’ve seen them and enough of them. One time I saw one of the fields below full of them, some were picking up stones and some were ploughing it up. But the next time I went by there was no sign of it being ploughed at all. They can do nothing without some live person is looking at them, that’s why they were always so much after me. Even when I was a child I could see them, and once they took my walk from me, and gave me a bad foot, and my father cured me, and if he did, in five days after he died.
But there’s no harm at all in them, not much harm.
There was a woman lived near me at Ballymacduff, and she used to go about to attend women; Sarah Redington was her name. And she was brought away one time by a man that came for her into a hill, through a door, but she didn’t know where the hill was. And there were people in it, and cradles and a woman in labour, and she helped her and the baby was born, and the woman told her it was only that night she was brought away. And the man led her out again and put her in the road near her home and he gave her something rolled in a bag, and he bid her not to look at it till she’d get home, and to throw the first handful of it away from her. But she wouldn’t wait to get home to look at it, and she took it off her back and opened it, and there was nothing in it but cowdung. And the man came to her and said, “You have us near destroyed looking in that, and we’ll never bring you in again among us.”
There was a man I know well was away with them, often and often, and he was passing one day by the big tree and they came about him and he had a new pair of breeches on, and one of them came and made a slit in them, and another tore a little bit out, and they all came running and tearing little bits till he hadn’t a rag left. Just to be humbugging him they did that. And they gave him good help, for he had but an acre of land, and he had as much on it as another would have on a big farm. But his wife didn’t like him to be going and some one told her of a cure for him, and she said she’d try it and if she did, within two hours after she was dead; killed they had her before she’d try it. He used to say that where he was brought was into a round very big house, and Cairns that went with them told me the same [13].
Three times when I went for water to the well, the water spilled over me, and I told Bridget after that they must bring the water themselves, I’d go for it no more. And the third time it was done there was a boy, one of the Heniffs, was near, and when he heard what happened me he said, “It must have been the woman that was at the well along with you that did that.” And I said there was no woman at the well along with me. “There was,” said he; “I saw her there beside you, and the two little tins in her hand.”
One day after I came to live here at Coole, a strange woman came into the house, and I asked what was her name and she said, “I was in it before ever you were in it,” and she went into the room inside and I saw her no more.
But Bridget and Peter saw her coming in, and they asked me who she was, for they never saw her before. And in the night when I was sleeping at the foot of the bed, she came and threw me out on the floor, that the joint of my arm has a mark in it yet. And every night she came, and she’d spite me or annoy me in some way. And at last we got Father Nolan to come and to drive her out. And as soon as he began to read, there went out of the house a great blast, and there was a sound as loud as thunder. And Father Nolan said, “It’s well for you she didn’t have you killed before she went.”
There’s something that’s not right about an old cat and it’s well not to–annoy them. I was in the house one night, and one came in, and he tried to bring away the candle that was lighted in the candlestick, and it standing on the table. And I had a little rod beside me, and I made a hit at him with it, and with that he dropped the candle and made at me as if to tear me. And I went on my knees and asked his pardon three times, and when I asked it the third time he got quiet all of a minute, and went out at the door.
And as to hares–bid Master Robert never to shoot a hare, for you wouldn’t know what might be in it. There were two women I knew, mother and daughter, and they died. And one day I was out by the wood, and I saw two hares sitting by the wall, and the minute I saw them I knew well who they were. And the mother made as though she’d kill me, but the daughter stopped her. Bad they must have been to have been put into that shape, and indeed I know that they weren’t too good. I saw the mother another time come up near the door as if to see me, and when she got near, she turned herself into a red hare.
The priests can do cures out of their book, and the time the cure is done is when they turn the second leaf. There was a boy near Kinvara got a hurt and he was brought into a house and Father Grogan was got to do a cure on him. And he did it, and within two days the priest’s brother was made a fool of, and is locked up in a madhouse ever since, and it near seven years ago [14].
There was a boy of the Nally’s died near a year ago; and when I heard he was dead I went down to the house, and there I saw him outside and two men bringing him away, and one of them said to me, “We couldn’t do this but for you being there watching us.” That’s the last time I saw any of them.
There was a boy got a fall from a cart near the house beyond, and he was brought in to Mrs. Raynor’s and laid in the bed and I went in to see him. And he said what he saw was a little boy run across the road before the cart, and the horse took fright and ran away and threw him from it. And he asked to be brought to my house, for he wouldn’t stop where he was; “for” says he, “the woman of this house gave me no drink and showed me no kindness, and she’ll be repaid for that.” And sure enough within the year she got the dropsy and died. And he was carried out of the door backwards, but the mother brought him to her own house and wouldn’t let him come to mine, and ’twas as well, for I wouldn’t refuse him, but I don’t want to be annoyed with them any more than I am.
Did you know Mrs. Byrne that lived in Doolin? Swept she was after her child was born. And near a year after I saw her coming down the road near the old castle. “Is that you, Mary?” I said to her, “and is it to see me you are coming?” But she went on. It was in May when they are all changing [15]. There was a priest, Father Waters, told me one time that he was after burying a boy, one Fahy, in Kilbecanty churchyard. And he was passing by the place again in the evening, and there he saw a great fire burning, but whether it was of turf or of sticks he couldn’t tell, and there was the boy he had buried sitting in the middle of it.
I know that I used to be away among them myself, but how they brought me I don’t know, but when I’d come back, I’d be cross with the husband and with all. I believe when I was with them I was cross that they wouldn’t let me go, and that’s why they didn’t keep me altogether; they didn’t like cross people to be with them. The husband would ask me where I was, and why I stopped so long away, but I think he knew I was taken and it fretted him, but he never spoke much about it. But my mother knew it well, but she’d try to hide it. The neighbours would come in and ask where was I, and she’d say I was sick in the bed-for whatever was put there in place of me would have the head in under the bed-clothes. And when a neighbour would bring me in a drink of milk, my mother would put it by and say, “Leave her now, maybe she’ll drink it tomorrbw.” And maybe in a day or two I’d meet someone and he’d say, “Why wouldn’t you speak to me when I went into the house to see you?” And I was a young fresh woman at that time. Where they brought me to I don’t know, or how I got there, but I’d be in a very big house, and it round, the walls far away that you’d hardly see them, and a great many people all round about. I saw there neighbours and friends that I knew, and they in their own clothing and with their own appearance, but they wouldn’t speak to me nor I to them, and when I’d met them again I’d never say to them that I saw them there. But the others had striped clothes of all colours, and long faces, and they’d be talking and laughing and moving about. What language had they? Irish of course, what else would they talk?
And there was one woman of them, very tall and with a long face, standing in the middle, taller than any one you ever saw in this wor]d, and a tail stick in her hand; she was the mistress. She had a high yellow thing on her head, not hair, her hair was turned back under it, and she had a long yellow cloak down to her feet and hanging down behind. Had she anything like that in the picture in her hand? [a crown of gold balls or apples.] It was not on her head, it was lower down here about the body, and shining, and a thing [a brooch] like that in the picture, but down hanging low like the other. And that picture you have there in your hand, I saw no one like it, but I saw a picture like it hanging on the wall [16]. It was a very big place and very grand, and a long table set out, but I didn’t want to stop there and I began crying to go home. And she touched me here in the breast with her stick, she was vexed to see me wanting to go away. They never brought me away since. Grand food they’d offer me and wine, but I never would touch it, and sometimes I’d have to give the breast to a child.
Himself died, but it was they took him from me. It was in the night and he lying beside me, and I woke and heard him move, and I thought I heard some one with him. And I put out my hand and what I touched was an iron hand, like knitting needles it felt. And I heard the bones of his neck crack, and he gave a sort of a choked laugh, and I got out of the bed and struck a light and I saw nothing, but I thought I saw some one go through the door. And I called to Bridget and she didn’t come, and I called again and she came and she said she struck a light when she heard the noise and was coming, and someone came and struck the light from her hand. And when we looked in the bed, himself was lying dead and not a mark on him.
There was a woman, Mrs. Leary, had something wrong with her, and she went to Biddy Early. And nothing would do her but to bring my son along with her, and I was vexed. What call had she to bring him with her? And when Biddy Early saw him she said, “You’ll travel far, but wherever you go you’ll not escape them.” The woman he went up with died about six months after, but he went to America, and he wasn’t long there when what was said came true, and he died. They followed him as far as he went.
And one day since then I was on the road to Gort, and Madden said to me, “Your son’s on the road before you.” And I said, “How could that be, and he dead?” But still I hurried on. And at Coole gate I met a little boy and I asked did he see any one and he said, “You know well who I saw.” But I got no sight of him at all myself.
I saw the coach one night near Kiltartan Chapel. Long it was and black, and I saw no one in it. But I saw who was sitting up driving it, and I knew it to be one of the Miskells that was taken before that [17].
One day I was following the goat to get a sup of milk from her, and she turned into the field and up into the castle of Lydican and went up from step to step up the stairs to the top, and I followed and on the stairs a woman passed me, and I knew her to be Colum’s wife. And when we got to the room at the top, I looked up, and there standing on the wall was a woman looking down at me, long-faced and tall and with grand clothes, and on her head something yellow and slippery, not hair but like marble [18]. And I called out to ask her wasn’t she afraid to be up there, and she said she was not. And a shepherd that used to live below in the castle saw the same woman one night he went up to the top, and a room and a fire and she sitting by it, but when he went there again there was no sign of her nor of the room, nothing but the stones as before.
I never saw them on horses; but when I came to live at Peter Mahony’s he used to bring in those red flowers [ragweed] that grow by the railway, when their stalks were withered, to make the fire. And one day I was out in the road, and two men came over to me and one was wearing a long grey dress. And he said to me, “We have no horses to ride on and have to go on foot, because you have too much fire.” So then I knew it was their horses we were burning [19].
I know the cure for anything they can do to you, but it’s few I’d tell it to. It was a strange woman came m and told it to me, and I never saw her again. She bid me spit and use the spittle, or to take a graineen of dust from the navel, and that’s what you should do if any one you care for gets a cold or a shivering, or they put anything upon him.
One time I went up to a forth beyond Raheen to pick up a few sticks, and I was beating one of the sticks on the ground to break it, and a voice said from below, “Is it to break down the house you want?” And a thing appeared that was like a cat, but bigger than any cat ever was. And another time in a forth a man said, “Here’s gold for you, but don’t look at it till you go home.” And I looked and I saw horse-dung and I said, “Keep it yourself, much good may it do you.” They never gave me anything did me good, but a good deal of torment I had from them. And they’re often walking the road, and if you met them you wouldn’t know them from any other person; but I’d know them well enough, but I’d say nothing-and that’s a grand bush we’re passing by-whether it belongs to them I don’t know, but wherever they get shelter, there they might be-but anyway it’s a very fine bush–God bless it.
And when you speak of them you should always say the day of the week. Maybe you didn’t notice that I said, “This is Friday” just when we were hardly in at the gate.
It’s very weak I am, and took to my bed since yesterday. They’ve changed now out of where they were near the castle, and it’s inside Coole demesne they are. It was an old man told me that, I met him on the road there below. First I thought he was a young man, and then I saw he was not, and he grew very nice-looking after, and he had plaid clothes. “We’re moved out of that now,” he said, “and it’s strangers will be coming in it. And you ought to know me,” he said. And when I looked at him I thought I did.
And one day I was down in Coole I saw their house, more like a big dairy, with red tiles and a high chimney and a lot of smoke out of it, and there was a woman at the door and two or three outside. But they’ll do you no harm, for the man told me so. “They needn’t be afraid,” he said, “we’re good neighbors, but let them not say too much if the milk might go from the cows now and again.”
I was over beyond Raheen one time, and I saw a woman milking and she at the wrong side of the cow. And when she saw me she got up, and she had a bucket that was like a plate, and it full of milk and she gave it to a man that was waiting there, that I thought first was one of the O’Heas, and they went away. And the cow was a grand fine one, but who it belonged to I didn’t know-maybe to themselves.
It’s about a week ago one night some one came into the room in the dark, and I saw it was my son that I lost-he that went to America–James. He didn’t die, he was whipped away-I knew he wasn’t dead, for I saw him one day on the road to Gort on a coach, and he looked down and he said, “That’s my poor mother.” And when he came in here, I couldn’t see him, but I knew him by his talk. And he said, “It’s asleep she is,” and he put his two hands on my face and I never stirred. And he said, “I’m not far from you now.” For he is with the others inside Coole near where the river goes down the swallow hole. To see me he came, and I think he’ll be apt to come again before long. And last night there was a light about my head all the night and no candle in the room at all.
Yes, the Sidhe sing, and they have pipers among them, a bag on each side and a pipe to the mouth, I think I never told you of one I saw.
I was passing a field near Kiltartan one time when I was a girl, where there was a little lisheen, and a field of wheat, and when I was passing I heard a piper beginning to play, and I couldn’t but begin to dance, it was such a good tune; and there was a boy standing there, and he began to dance too. And then my father came by, and he asked why were we dancing, and no one playing for us. And I said there was, and I began to search through the wheat for the piper, but I couldn’t find him, and I heard a voice saying, “You’ll see me yet, and it will be in a town.” Well, one Christmas eve I was in Gort and my husband with me, and that night at Gort I heard the same tune beginning again–the grandest I ever heard-and I couldn’t but begin to dance. And Glynn the chair-maker heard it too, and he began to dance with me in the street, and my man thought I had gone mad, and the people gathered round us, for they could see or hear nothing. But I saw the piper well, and he had plaid clothes, blue and white, and he said, “Didn’t I tell you that when I saw you again it would be in a town?”
I never saw fire go up in the air, but in the wood beyond the tree at Raheen I used often to see like a door open at night, and the light shining through it, just as it might shine through the house door, with the candle and the fire inside, if it would be left open.
Many of them I have seen-they are like ourselves only wearing bracket clothes [20], and their bodies are not so strong or so thick as ours, and their eyes are more shining than our eyes. I don’t see many of them here, but Coole is alive with them, as plenty as grass; I often go awhile and Sit inside the gate there. I saw them make up a house one time near the natural bridge, and I saw them coming over the gap twice near the chapel, a lot of little boys, and two men and a woman, and they had old talk and young talk. One of them came m here twice, and I gave him a bit of bread, but he said, “There’s salt in it” and he put it away [21].
When Annie Rivers died the other day, there were two funerals in it, a big funeral with a new coffin and another that was in front of them, men walking, the handsomest I ever saw, and they with black clothes about their body. I was out there looking at them, and there was a cow in the road, and I said, “Take care would you drive away the cow.” And one of them said, “No fear of that, we have plenty of cows on the other side of the wall.” But no one could see them but myself. I often saw them and it was they took the sight of my eyes from me. And Annie Rivers was not in the grand coffin, she was with them a good while before the funeral.
That time I saw the two funerals at Rivers’s that I was telling you about, I heard Annie call to those that were with her, “You might as well let me have Bartley; it would be better for the two castles to meet.” And since then the mother is uneasy about Bartley, and he fell on the floor one day and I know well he is gone since the day Annie was buried. And I saw others at the funeral, and some that you knew well among them. And look now, you should send a coat to some poor person, and your own friends among the dead will be covered, for you could see the skin here. [She made a gesture passing her hand down each arm, exactly the same gesture as old Mary Glynn of Slieve Echtge had made yesterday when she said, “Have you a coat you could send me, for my arms are bare.” and I had promised her one.]

* * *

Would I have gone among them if I had died last month? I think not. I think that I have lived my time out, since my father was taken.
He was a young man at that time, and one time I was out in the field, and I got a knock on the foot, and a lump rose; there is the mark of it yet. It was after that I was on the road with my father, near Kinvara, and a man came and began to beat him. And I thought that he was going to beat me, and I got in near the wall and my father said, “Spare the girl!” “I will do that, I will spare her,” said the man. He went away then, and within a week my father was dead.
And my mother told me that before the burying, she saw the corpse on the bed, sitting on the side of the bed, and his feet hanging down. I saw my father often since then, but not this good while now. He had always a young appearance when I saw him.
A big woman came to the window and looked in at me, the time I was on the bed lately. “Rise up out of that,” she said. I saw her another time on the road, and the wind blew her dress open, and I could see that she had nothing at all on underneath it.
In May they are as thick everywhere as the grass, but there’s no fear at all for you or for Master Robert. I know that, for one told it to me.
“Tir-nan-og” that is not far from us. One time I was in the chapel at Labane, and there was a tall man sitting next me, and he dressed in grey, and after the Mass I asked him where he came from. “From Tir-na- nog,” says he. “And where is that?” I asked him. “It’s not far from you,” he said; “it’s near the place where you live.” I remember well the look of him and him telling me that. The priest was looking at us while we were talking together [22].”
She died some years ago and I am told.
“There is a ghost in Mrs. Sheridan’s house. They got a priest to say Mass there, but with all that there is not one in it has leave to lay a head on the pillow till such time as the cock crows.


I was told one day by our doctor, a good fowler and physician, now, alas, passed away, of an old man in Glare who had knowledge of “the Others,” and 1 took Mr. Yeats to see him.
We found him in his hayfield, and he took us to his thatched lime-white house and told us many things. A little later we went there again to verify what I had put down. I remember him as very gentle and courteous, and that a cloth was spread and tea made for us by his daughters, he himself sitting at the head of the table.
Mr. Yeats at that time wore black clothes and a soft black hat, but gave them up later, because he was so often saluted as a priest. But this time another view was taken, and I was told after a while that the curate of the Glare parish had written to the curate of a Gonnacht parish that Lady Gregory had come over the border with “a Scripture Reader” to try and buy children for proselytising purposes. But the Connacht curate had written back to the Glare curate that he had always thought him a fool, and now he was sure of it.

The old man I have called Mr. Saggarton said

Our family dimimshed vcry much till at last there were but three brothers left, and they separated. One went to Ennis and another came here and the other to your own place beyond. It was a long time before they could make one another out again. It was my uncle used to go away among them.When I was a young chap, I’d go out in the field working with him, and he’d bid me go away on some message, and when I’d come back it might be in a faint I’d find him. It was he himself was taken; it was but his shadow or some thing in his likeness was left behind. He was a very strong man. You might remember Ger Kelly what a strong man he was, and Stout, and six feet two inches in height. Well, he and my uncle had a dispute one time, and he made as if to strike at him, and my uncle, without so much as taking off his coat, gave one blow that stretched him on the floor. And at the barn at Bunahowe he and my father could throw a hundred weight over the collar beam, what no other could do [23]. My father had no notion at all of managing things. He lived to be eighty years, and all his life he looked as innocent as that little chap turning the hay. My uncle had the same innocent look; I think they died quite happy.
One time the wife got a touch, and she got it again, and the third time she got up in the morning and went out of the house and never said where she was going. But I had her watched, and I told the boy to follow her and never to lose sight of her, and I gave him the sign to make if he’d meet any bad thing. So he followed her, and she kept before him, and while he was going along the road something was up on top of the wall with one leap a red-haired man it was, with no legs and with a thin face [24]. But the boy made the sign and got hold of him and carried him till he got to the bridge. At the first he could not lift the man, but after he made the sign he was quite light. And the woman turned home again, and never had a touch after. It’s a good job the boy had been taught the sign. Make that sign with your thumbs if ever when you’re walking out you feel a sort of a shivering in the skin, for that shows there’s some bad thing near, but if you hold your hands like that, if you went into a forth itself, it couldn’t harm you. And if you should any time feel a sort of a pain in your little finger, the surest thing is to touch it with human dung. Don’t neglect that, for if they’re glad to get one of us, they’d be seven times better pleased to get the like of you.
Youngsters they take mostly to do work for them, and they are death on handsome people, for they are handsome themselves. To all sorts of work they put them, and digging potatoes and the like, and they have wine from foreign parts, and cargoes of gold coming in to them. Their houses are ten times more beautiful and ten times grander than any house in this world. And they could build one of them up in that field in ten minutes. Clothes of all colours they wear, and crowns like that one in the picture, and of other shapes [25]. They have different queens, not always the same. The people they bring away must die some day; as to themselves, they were living from past ages, and they can never die till the time when God has His mind made up to redeem them.
And those they bring away are always glad to be brought back again. If you were to bring a heifer from those mountains beyond and to put it into a meadow, it would be glad to get back again to the mountain, because it is the place it knows.
Coaches they make up when they want to go driving, with wheels and all, but they want no horses. There might be twenty of them going out together sometimes, and all full of them. They are everywhere around us, and may be within a yard of us now in the grass. But if I ask you, “What day is tomorrow,” and you said, “Thursday,” they wouldn’t be able to overhear us. They have the power to go in every place, even on to the hook the priest is using.
There was one John Curran lived over there towards Bunahowe, and he had a cow that died, and they were striving to rear the calf-boiled hay they were giving it, the juice the hay was boiled in. And you never saw anything to thrive as it did. And one day some man was looking at it and he said, “You may be sure the mother comes back and gives it milk.” And John Curran said, “How can that be, and she dead?” But the man said, “She’s not dead, she’s in the forth beyond. And if you go towards it half an hour before sunrise you’ll find her, and you should catch a hold of her and bring her home and milk her, and when she makes to go away again, take a hold of her tail and follow her.” So he went out next morning, half an hour before sunrise, up toward the forth, and brought her home and milked her, and when the milking was done she started to go away and he caught a hold of the tail and was carried along with her. And she brought him into the forth, through a door. And behind the door stood a barrel, and what was in the barrel is what they put their finger in, and touch their forehead with when they go out, for if they didn’t do that all people would be able to see them. And as soon as he got in, there were voices from all sides. “Welcome, John Curran, welcome, John Curran.” And he said: “The devil take you, how well you know my name; it’s not a welcome I want, it’s my cow to bring home again.” So in the end he got the cow and brought her home. And he saw there a woman that had died out of the village about ten years before, and she suckling a child [26].
Surely I knew Biddy Early, and my uncle was a friend of hers. It was from the same power they got the cures. My uncle left me the power, and I was well able to do them and did many, hut my stock was all dying and what could I do? So I gave a part of the power to Mrs. Tohin that lives in Gort and she can cure a good many things. Biddy Early told me herself that where she got it was when she was a servant girl in a house, there was a baby lying in the cradle, and he went on living for a few years. But he was friendlv to her and used to play tunes for her and when he went away he gave her the bottle and the power.
She had but to look in it and she’d see all that had happened and all that was going to happen. But he made her make a promise never to take more than a shilling for any cure she did, and she would not have taken fifty pounds if you offered it to her, though she might take presents of bread and wine and such things.
The cure for all things in the world? Surely she had it and knew where it was. And I knew it myself too–but I could not tell you of it. Seven parts I used to make it with, and one of them is a thing that’s in every house.
There’s a lake beyond there, and my uncle one day told us by name of a man that would be drowned there at twelve o’clock that day. And so it happened.
One time I was walking on the road to Galway, near the sea, and another man along with me. And I saw in a field beside the road a very small woman walking down towards us, and she smiling and carrying a can of water in her hand, and she was dressed in a blue spencer. So I asked the other man did he see her, and he said he did not, and when I came up to the wall she was gone.
One time myself when I went to look for a wife, I went to the house, and there was a hen and some chickens before the door. Well, after I went home one of the chickens died. And what do you think they said, but that it was I overlooked it.
They hate me because I do cures, and they hated Biddy Early too. The priests do them but not in the same way–they do them by the power of Almighty God.
My wife got a touch from them, and they have a watch on her ever since. It was the day after I married and I weht to the fair at Clarenbridge. And when I came back the house was full of smoke, but there was nothing on the hearth but cinders, and the smoke was more like the smoke of a forge. And she was within lying on the bed, and her brother was sitting outside the door crying. So I went to the mother and asked her to come in, and she was crying too. And she knew well what had happened, but she didn’t tell me, but she sent for the priest. And when he came he sent me for Geoghegan and that was only an excuse to get me away, and what he and the mother tried to bring her to do was to face death, and they knew I wouldn’t allow that if I was there. But the wife was very stout and she wouldn’t give in to them. So the priest read more, and he asked would I be willing to lose something, and I said, so far as a cow or a calf I wouldn’t mind losing that. Well, she partly recovered, but from that day, no year went by but I lost ten lambs maybe or other things. And twice they took my children out of the bed, two of them I have lost. And the others they gave a touch to. That girl there–see the way she is, and can’t walk. In one minute it came on her out in the field, with the fall of a wall [27].
It was one among them that wanted the wife. A woman and a boy we often saw come to the door, and she was the matchmaker. And when we would go out, they would have vanished.
Biddy Early’s cure that you heard of, it was the moss on the water of the mill-stream between the two wheels of Ballylee. It can cure all things brought about by them, but not any common ailment. But there is no cure for the stroke given by a queen or a fool. There is a queen in every house or regiment of them. It is of those they steal away they make queens for as long as they live or that they are satisfied with them.
There were two women fighting at a spring of water, and one hit the other on the head with a can and killed her. And after that her children began to die. And the husband went to Biddy Early and as soon as she saw him she said, “There’s nothing I can do for you, your wife was a wicked woman, and the one she hit is a queen among them, and she is taking your children one by one and you must suffer till twenty-one years are up.” And so he did.
The stroke of a fool, there’s no cure for either. There are many fools among them dressed in strange clothes like one of the mummers that used to be going through the country. But it might be the fools are the wisest after all. There are two classes, the Dundonians that are like ourselves, and another race, more wicked and more spiteful. Very small they are and wide, and their belly sticks out in front, so that what they carry they don’t carry it on the back, but in front, on the belly in a bag [28].
They were fighting when Johnny Casey died; that’s what often happens. Everyone has friends among them, and the friends would be trying to save you when the others would be trying to bring you away. Youngsters they pick up here and there, to help them in their fights and in their work. They have cattle and horses, but all of them have only three legs.
They don’t have children themselves, only the women that are brought away among them, they have children, but they don’t live for ever) like the Dundonians.
The handsome they like, and the good dancers. And if they get a boy amongst them, the first to touch him, he belongs to her.
There was a boy was a splendid dancer, and straight and firm, for they don’t like those that go to right or left as they walk. Well, one night he was going to a house where there was a dance, and when he was about half-way to it, he came to another house, where there was music and dancing going on. So he turned in, and there was a room all done up with curtains and with screens, and a room inside where the people were sitting, and it was only those that were dancing sets that came to the outside room.
As to their treasure, it’s best to be without it. There was a man living by a forth, and where his house touched the forth, he built a little room and left it for them, clean and in good order, the way they’d like it. And whenever he’d want money, for a fair or the like, he’d find it laid on the table in the morning. And when he had it again, he’d leave it there, and it would be taken away in the night. But after that going on for a time he lost his son.
There was a room at Crags where things used to be thrown about, and everyone could hear the noises there. They had a right to clear it out and settle it the way they’d like it. You should do that in your own big house. Set a little room for them–with spring water in it always-and wine you might leave–no, not flowers–they wouldn’t want so much as that–but just what would show your good will.
Now I have told you more than I told my wife.


It was on the bounds of Connemara I heard of this healer, and went to see his wife in her little rockbuilt cabin among the boulders, to ask if a cure could be done for Mr. Yeats, who was staying at a friend’s house near, and who was at that time troubled by uncertain eyesight.
One evening later we walked beside the sea to the cottage where we were to meet the healer; a storm was blowing and we were glad when the door was opened and we found a bright turf fire.
He was short and broad, with regular features, and his hair was thick and dark, though he was an old man. He Wore a flannel-sleeved waistcoat, and his trousers were much patched on the knees. He sat on a low bench in the wide chimney nook, holding a soft hat in his hands which kept nervously moving. The woman of the house came over now and then to look at the iron tripod on the hearth. She, like the healer, spoke only Irish. The man of the house sat between us and interpreted, holding a dip candle in his hands. A dog growled without ceasing at one side of the hearth, a reddish cat sat at the other. The woman seemed frightened and angry at times as the old man spoke, and clutched the baby to her breast.

I was told by the man of the house, Coneely

There’s a man beyond is a great warrior in this business, and no man within miles of the place will build a house or a cabin or any other thing without him going there to say if it’s in a right place.
It was Fagan cured me of a pain I had in my arm, I couldn’t get rid of. He gave me a something to drink, and he bid me go to a quarry and to touch some of the stones that were lying outside it and not to touch others of them. Anyway I got well.
And one time down by the hill we were gathering in the red seaweed, and there was a boy there that was leading a young horse, the same way he’d been leading him a year or more. But this day of a sudden he made a snap to bite him, and secondly he reared as if to jump on top of him, and thirdly turned around and made at him with the hoofs. And the boy threw himself to one side and escaped, but with the fright he got he went into his bed and stopped there. And the next day Fagan came and told him everything that had happened, and he said, “I saw thousands on the strand near where it was last night.”

Pagan’s wife said to me in her house

Are you right? You are? Then you’re my friend. Come here close and tell me is there anything himself can do for you?
I do the fortunes no more since I got great abuse from the priest for it. Himself got great abuse from the priest too–Father Haverty–and he gave him plaster of Paris–I mean by that he spoke soft and blathered him, but he does them all the same, and Father Kilroy gave him leave when he was here.
It was from his sister he got the cure. Taken she was when her baby was born. She died in the morning and the baby at night. We didn’t tell John of it for a month after, where he was away, caring horses. But he knew of it before he came home, for she followed him there one day he was out in the field, and when he didn’t know her she said, “I’m your sister Kate.” And she said, “I bring you a cure that you may cure both yourself and others.” And she told him of the herb and the field he’d find it growing, and that he must choose a plant with seven branches, the half of them above the clay and the half of them covered up. And she told him how to use it.
Twenty years she’s gone, but she’s not dead yet, but the last time he saw her he said that she was getting grey. Every May and November he sees her, he’ll be seeing her soon now. When her time comes to die, she’ll be put in the place of some other one that’s taken, and so she’ll get absolution [29].
He has cured many. But sometimes they are vexed with him, for some cure he has done, when he interferes with some person they’re meaning to bring away. And many’s the good beating they gave him out in the fields for doing that.
Myself they gave a touch to, here in the thigh, so that I lost my walk; vexed with me they are for giving up the throwing of the cup.
A nurse she’s been all the time among them. And don’t believe those that say they have no children. A boy among them is as clever as any boy here, but he must be matched with a woman from earth. And the same way with their women, they must get a husband here. And they never can give the breast to a child, but must get a nurse from here.
One time I saw them myself, in a field and they hurling. Bracket caps they wore and bracket clothes that were of all colours.
Some were the same size as ourselves and some looked like gossoons that didn’t grow well. But himself has the second sight and can see them in every place.
There’s as many of them in the sea as on the land, and some-times they fly like birds across the bay.
The first time he did a cure it was on some poor person like ourselves, and he took nothing for it, and in the night the sister came and bid him not to do it any more without a fee. And that time we lost a fine boy.
They’ll all be watching round when a person is dying; and suppose it was myself, there’d be my own friends crying, crying, and themselves would be laughing and jesting, and glad I’d go [30].
There is always a mistress among them. When one of us goes among them they would all be laughing and jesting, but when that tall mistress you heard of would tip her stick on the ground, they’d all draw to silence.
Tell me the Christian name of your friend you want the cure for. “William Butler,” I’ll keep that [31]. And when himself gathers the herb, if it’s for a man, he must call on the name of some other man, and call him a king–Righ–and if it’s for a woman he must call on the name of some other woman and call her a queen that is calling on the king or the queen of the plant.

Pagan said to W. B. Yeats and to me

It’s not from them the harm came to your eyes. I see them in all places–and there’s no man mowing a meadow that doesn’t see them at some time or other. As to what they look like, they’ll change colour and shape and clothes while you look round. Bracket caps they always wear. There is a king and a queen and a fool in each house of them, that is true enough-but they would do you no harm. The king and the queen are kind and gentle, and whatever you’ll ask them for they’ll give it. They’ll do no harm at all if you don’t injure them. You might speak to them if you’d meet them on the road, and they’d answer you, if you’d speak civil and quiet and show respect, and not be laughing or humbugging-they wouldn’t like that. One night I was in bed with the wife beside me, and the child near me, near the fire. And I turned and saw a woman sitting by the fire, and she made a snap at the child, and I was too quick for her and got hold of it, and she was at the door and out of it in one minute, before I could get to her.
Another time in the field a woman came beside me, and I went on to a gap in the wall and she was in it before me. And then she stopped me and she said: “I’m your sister that was taken; and don’t you remember how I got the fever first and you tended me, and then you got it yourself, and one had to be taken and I was the one.” And she taught me the cure, and the way to use it. And she told me that she was in the best of places, and told me many things that she bound me not to tell. And I asked was it here she was kept ever since, and she said it was, but she said, “In six months I’ll have to move to another place, and others will come where I am now, and it would be better for you if we stopped here, for the most of us here now are your neighbours and your friends.” And it was she gave me the second sight [32]..
Last year I was digging potatoes and a man came by, one of them, and one that I knew well before. And he said, “You have them this year, and we’ll have them the next two years.” And you know the potatoes were good last year and you see that they are bad now, and have been made away with [33]. And the sister told me that half the food in Ireland goes to them, but that if they like they can make out of cow-dung all they want, and they can come into a house and use what they like and it will never be missed in the morning.
The old man suddenly stooped and took a handful of hot ashes in his hand, and put them my his pocket. And presently he said he’d be afraid tonight going home the road. When we asked him why, he said he’d have to tell what errand he had been on.
He said one eye of W. B. Y.’s was worse than the other, and asked if he had ever slept out at nights. We asked if he goes to enquire of them (the Others) what is wrong with those who came to him and he said, “Yes, when it has to do with their business–but in this case it has nothing to do with it [34].”

Coneely said next day

I walked home with the old man last night, he was afraid to go by himself. He pointed out to me on the way a graveyard where he had got a great beating from them one night. He had a drop too much taken after being at a funeral, and he went there and gathered the plant wrong. And they came and punished him, that his head is not the better of it ever since.
He told me the way he knows in the gathering of the plant what is wrong with the person that is looking for a cure. He has to go on his knees and say a prayer to the king and the queen and the gentle and the simple among them, and then he gathers it, and if there are black leaves about it, or white ones, but chiefly a black leaf folded down, he knows the illness is some of their business; but for this young man the plant came fresh and green and clean. He has been among them and has seen the king and the queen, and he says that they are no bigger than the others, but the queen wears a wide cap, and the others have bracket caps.
He never would allow me to build a shed there beside the house, though I never saw anything there myself.


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

I was told by Old Deruane

I was born and bred in the North Island, and ten old fathers mine are buried there.
I can speak English, because I went to earn in England in the hard times, and I was for five quarters in a country town called Manchester; and I have threescore and fifteen years.
I knew two fine young women were brought away after childbirth, and they were seen after in the North Island going about with them. One of them I saw myself there, one time I was out late at night going to the east village. I saw her pattern walking on the north side of the wall, on the road near me, but she said nothing. And my body began to shake, and I was going to get to the south side of the wall, to put it between us; but then I said, “Where is God?” and I walked on and passed her, and she looked aside at me but she didn’t speak. And I heard her after me for a good while, but I never looked back, for it’s best not to look back at them.
And there was another woman had died, and one evening late I was coming from the schoolmaster, for he and I are up to one another, and he often gives me charity. And then I saw her or her pattern walking along that field of rock you passed by just now. But I stopped and I didn’t speak to her, and she went on down the road, and when she was about forty fathoms below me I could hear her abusing some one, but no one there. I thought maybe it was that she was vexed at me that I didn’t question her. She was a young woman too. I’ll go bail they never take an old man or woman-what would they do with them? If by chance they’d come among them they’d throw them out again.
Another night I was out and the moon shining, I knew by the look of it the night was near wore away. And when I came to the corner of the road beyond, my flesh began to shake and my hair rose up, and every hair was as stiff as that stick. So I knew that some evil thing was near, and I got home again. This island is as thick as grass with them, or as sand; but good neighbours make good neighbours, and no woman minding a house but should put a couple of the first of the potatoes aside on the dresser, for there’s no house but they’ll visit it some time or other. Myself, I always brush out my little tent clean of a night before I lie down, and the night I’d do it most would be a rough night. How do we know what poor soul might want to come in?
I saw them playing ball one day when the slip you landed at was being made, and I went down to watch the work. There were hundreds of them in the field at the top of it, about three feet tall, and little caps on them; but the men that were working there, they couldn’t see them [35]. And one morning I went down to the well to leave my pampooties in it to soak-it was a Sabbath morning and I was going to Mass-and the pampooties were hard and wore away my feet, and I left them there. And when I came back in a few minutes they were gone, and I looked in every cleft, but I couldn’t find them. And when I was going away, I felt them about me, and coming between my two sticks that I was walking with. And I stopped and looked down and said, “I know you’re there,” and then I said, “Gentlemen, I know you’re here about me,” and when I said that word they went away. Was it they took my pampooties? Not at all-what would they want with such a thing as pampooties? It was some children must have taken them, and I never saw them since.
One time I wanted to settle myself clean, and I brought down my waistcoat and a few little things I have, to give them a rinse in the sea-water, and I laid them out on a stone to dry, and I left one of my sticks on them. And when I came back after leaving them for a little time, the stick was gone. And I was vexed at first to be without it, but I knew that they had taken it to be humbugging me, or maybe for their own use in fighting. Por there is nothing there is more fighting among than them. So I said, “Welcome to it, Gentlemen, may it bring you luck; maybe you’ll make more use of it than ever I did myself.”
One night when I was sleeping in my little tent, I heard a great noise of fighting, and I thought it was down at Mrs. Jordan’s house, and that maybe the children were troublesome in the bed, she having a great many of them. And in the morning as I passed the house I said to her, “What was on you in the night?” And she said there was nothing happened there, and that she heard no noise. So I said nothing but went on; and when I came to the flag-stones beyond her house, they were covered with great splashes and drops of blood. So I said nothing of that either, but went on. What time of the year? Wait till I think, it was this very same time of the year, the month of May.
One time I was out putting seed in the ground, and the ridges all ready and the seaweed spread in them; and it was a fine day, but I heard a storm in the air, and then I knew by signs that it was they were coming. And they came into the field and tossed the seaweed and the seed about, and I spoke to them civil and then they went into a neighbour’s field and from that down to the sea, and there they turned into a ship, the grandest that ever I saw.
There was a man was passing by that Sheogney place below, fishing in his curragh, and when they were about a mile out they saw a ship coming towards them, and when they looked again, instead of having three masts she had none, and just when they were going to take up the curragh to bring it ashore, a great wave came and turned it upside down. And the man that owned her got such a fright that he couldn’t walk, and the other two had to hold him under the arms to bring him home. And he went to his bed, and within a week after, he was dead.
One night I heard a crying down the road, and the next day, there was a child of Tom Regan’s dead. And it was a few months after that, that I heard a crying again. And the next day another of his children was gone.
There was a fine young man was buried in the graveyard below, and a good time after that, there was work being done in it, and they came on his coffin, and the mother made them open it, and there was nothing in it at all but a broom, and it tied up with a bit of a rope.
There was a man was passing by that Sheogney place below, “Breagh” we call it. And he saw a man come riding out of it on a white horse. And when he got home that night there was nothing for him or for any of them to eat, for the potatoes were not in yet. And in the morning he asked the wife was there anything to eat, and she said a neighbour had sent in a pan of meal. So she made that into stirabout, and he took but a small bit of it out of her hand to leave more for the rest. And then he took a sheet, and bid her make a bag of it, and he got a horse and rode to the place where he saw the man ride out, for he knew he was the master of them. And he asked for the full of the bag of meal, and said he’d bring it back again, when he had it. And the man brought the bag in, and filled it for him and brought it out again. And when the oats were ripe, the first he cut, he got ground at the mill and brought it to the place and gave it in. And the man came out and took it, and said whatever he’d want at any time, to come to him and he’d get it.
In a bad year they say they bring away the potatoes and that may be so. They want provision, and they must get them at one place or another.

Mr. McArdle joins in and says

This I can tell you and be certain of, and I remember well that the man in the third house to this died after being sick a long time. And the wife died after, and she was to be buried in the same place, and when they came to the husband’s coffin they opened it, and there was nothing in it at all, neither brooms nor anything else.
There’s a boy, I know him well, that was up at that forth above the house one day, and a blast of wind came and blew the hat off him. And when he saw it going off in the air he cried out, “Do whatever is pleasing to you, but give me back my cap!” And in the moment it was settled back again on to his head.

Old Deruane goes on

There are many can do cures, because they have something walking with them, what one may call a ghost from among the Sheogue. A few cures I can do myself, and this is how I got them. I told you that I was for five quarters in Manchester, and where I lodged were two old women in the house, from the farthest end of Mayo, for they were running from Mayo at the time because of the hunger. And I knew that they were likely to have a cure, for St. Patrick blessed the places he was not in more than the places he was in, and with the cure he left and the fallen angels, there are many in Mayo can do them.
Now it’s the custom in England never to clean the table but once in the week and that on a Saturday night. And on that night all is set out clean, and all the crutches of bread and bits of meat and the like are gathered together in a tin can, and thrown out in the street, and women that have no other way of living come round then with a bag that would hold two stone, and they pick up all that’s thrown out in the street, and live on it for a week. And often I didn’t eat the half of what was before me, and I wouldn’t throw it out, but I’d bring it to the two old women that were in the house, so they grew very fond of me.
Well, when the time came that I thought to draw towards home, I brought them one day to a public-house and made a drop of punch for them, and then I picked the cure out of them, for I was wise in those days.
Those that get a touch I could save from being brought away, but I couldn’t bring back a man that’s away, for it’s only those that have been living among them for a while that can do that. There was a neighbour’s child was sick, and I got word of it, and I went to the house, for the woman there had showed me kindness. And I went in to the cradle and I lifted the quilt off the child’s face and you could see by it, and I knew the sign, that there was some of their work there. And I said, “You are not likely to have the child long with you, Ma’am.” And she said, “Indeed I know I won’t have him long.” So I said nothing but I went out, and whatever I did, and whatever I got there, I brought it again and gave it to the child, and he began to get better. And the next day I brought the same thing again, and gave it the child, and I looked at it and I said to the mother, “He’ll live to comb his hair grey.” And from that time he got better, and now there’s no stronger child in the island, and he the youngest in the house.
After that the husband got sick, and the woman said to me one day, “If there’s anything you can do to cure him, have pity on me and on my children, and I’ll give you what you’ll wish.” But I said, “I’ll do what I can for you, but I’ll take nothing from you except maybe a grain of tea or a glass of porter, for I wouldn’t take money for this, and I refused £2 one time for a cure I did.” So I went and I brought back the cure, and I mixed it with flour and made it into three little pills that it couldn’t be lost, and gave them to him, and from that time he got well.
There’s a woman lived down the road there, and one day I went in to the house, when she was after coming from Galway town, and I asked charity of her. And it was in the month of August when the bream fishing was going on, and she said, “There’s no one need be in want now, with fresh fish in the sea and potatoes in the gardens”; and gave me nothing. But when I was out the door she said, “Well, come back here.” And I said, “If you were to offer me all you brought from Galway, I wouldn’t take it from you now.”
And from that time she began to pine and to wear away and to lose her health, and at the end of three years, she walked outside her house one day, and when she was two yards from her own threshold she fell on the ground, and the neighbour’s came and lifted her up on a door and brought her into the house, and she died.
I think I could have saved her then–I think I could, when I saw her lying there. But I remembered that day, and I didn’t stretch out a hand and I spoke no word.
I’m going to rise out of the cures and not to do much more of them, for they have given me a touch here in the right leg, so that it’s the same as dead. And a woman of my village that does cures, she is after being struck with a pain in the hand.
Down by the path at the top of the slip from there to the hill, that’s the way they go most nights, hundreds and thousands of them. There are two old men in the island got a beating from them; one of them told me himself and brought me out on the ground, that I’d see where it was. He was out in a small field, and was after binding up the grass, and the sky got very black over him and very dark. And he was thrown down on the ground, and got a great beating, but he could see nothing at all. He had done nothing to vex them, just minding his business in the field.
And the other was an old man too, and he was out on the roads, and they threw him there and beat him that he was out of his mind for a time.
One night sleeping in that little cabin of mine, I heard them ride past, and I could hear by the feet of the horses that there was a long line of them.
This is a story was going about twenty years ago. There was a curate in the island, and one day he got a call to the other island for the next day. And in the evening he told the servant maid that attended him to clean his boots good and very good, for he’d be meeting good people where he was going. And she said, “I will, Holy Father, and if you’ll give me your hand and word to marry me for nothing, I’ll clean them grand.” And he said “I will; whenever you get a comrade I’ll marry you for nothing, I give you my hand and word.” So she had the boots grand for him in the morning. Well, she got a sickness after, and after seven months going by, she was buried. And six months after that, the curate was in his parlour one night and the moon shining, and he saw a boy and a girl outside the house, and they came to the window, and he knew it was the servant girl that was buried. And she said, “I have a comrade now, and I came for you to marry us as you gave your word.” And he said, “I’ll hold to my word since I gave it,” and he married them then and there, and they went away again.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland.

lady-gregorycollected and arranged by

Lady Gregory

G. P. Putman’s sons, New York and London, 1920

Herbs, Charms and Wise Women

There is a saying in Irish, “An old woman without learning, it is she will be doing charms”; and I have told in “Poets and Dreamers” of old Bridget Ruane who came and gave me my first knowledge of the healing power of certain plants, some it seemed having a natural and some a mysterious power. And I said that she had “died last winter, and we may be sure that among the green herbs that cover her grave there are some that are good for every bone in the body and that are very good for a sore heart.”
As to the book she told me of that had come from the unseen and was written in Irish, I think of Mrs. Sheridan’s answer when I asked in what language the strange unearthly people she had been among had talked: “Irish of course-what else would they talk?” And I remember also that when Blake told Crabb Robinson of the intercourse he had had with Voltaire and was asked in what tongue Voltaire spoke he said, “To my sensations it was English. It was like the touch of a musical key. He touched it probably in French, but to my ear it became English”.
I was told by her:
There is a Saint at the Oratory in London, but I don’t know his name, and a girl heard of him in London, and he sent her back to Gort, and he said, “There’s a woman there that will cure you,” and she came to me, and I cured her in two days. And if you could find out the name of that Saint through the Press, he’d tell me his remedies, and all the world would be cured. For I can’t do all cures though there are a great many I can do. I cured Pat Carty when the doctor couldn’t do it, and a woman in Gort that was paralysed and her two sons that were stretched. For I can bring back the dead with the same herbs our Lord was brought back with–the slanlus and the garblus. But there are some things I can’t do. I can’t help any one that has got a stroke from the Queen or the Fool of the Forth.
I know a woman that saw the Queen one time, and she said she looked like any Christian. I never heard of any that saw the Fool but one woman that was walking near Gort, and she called out, “There’s the Fool of the Forth coming after me.” So her friends that were with her called out though they could see nothing, and I suppose he went away at that for she got no harm. He was like a big strong man, and half-naked-that’s all she said about him.
It was my brother got the knowledge of cures from a book that was thrown down before him on the road. What language was it written in? What language would it be but Irish. Maybe it was God gave it to him, and maybe it was the other people. He was a fine strong man, and he weighed twenty-five stone-and he went to England, and then he cured all the world, so that the doctors had no way of living. So one time he got on a ship to go to America, and the doctors had bad men engaged to shipwreck him out of the ship; he wasn’t drowned but he was broken to pieces on the rocks, and the book was lost along with him. But he taught me a good deal out of it. So I know all herbs, and I do a good many cures, and I have brought a great many children home, home to the world-and never lost one, or one of the women that bore them. I was never away myself, but I am a cousin of Saggarton, and his uncle was away for twenty-one years.
This is dwareen (knapweed) and what you have to do with this is to put it down, with other herbs, and with a bit of three-penny sugar, and to boil it and to drink it for pains in the bones, and don’t be afraid but it will cure you. Sure the Lord put it in the world for curing.
And this is corn-corn (small aromatic tansy); it’s very good for the heart-boiled like the others.
This is atair-talam (wild camomile), the father of all herbs-the father of the ground. This is very hard to pull, and when you go for it, you must have a black-handled knife.
And this is camal-buide (loosestrife) that will keep all bad things away.
This is fearaban (water buttercup) and it’s good for every bone of your body.
This is dub-cosac (lichen), that’s good for the heart, very good for a sore heart. Here are the sianlus(plantain) and the garblus (dandelion) and these would cure the wide world, and it was these brought our Lord from the Cross, after the ruffians that was with the Jews did all the harm to Him. And not onc could be got to pierce His heart till a dark man came and said, “Give me the spear, and I’ll do it,” and the blood that sprang out touched his eyes and they got their sight.
And it was after that, His Mother and Mary and Joseph gathered their herbs and cured His wounds. These are the best of the herbs, but they are all good, and there isn’t one among them but would cure seven diseases. I’m all the days of my life gathering them, and I know them all, but it isn’t easy to make them out. Sunday evening is the best time to get them, and I was never interfered with. Seven “Hail Marys” I say when I’m gathering them, and I pray to our Lord and to St. Joseph and St. Colman. And there may be some watching me, but they never meddled with me at all.

Mrs. Quaid:

Monday is a good day for pulling herbs, or Tuesday, not Sunday. A Sunday cure is no cure. Thecosac (lichen) is good for the heart, there was Mineog in Gort, one time his heart was wore to a silk thread, and it cured him. The slanugad (ribgrass) is very good, and it will take away lumps. You must go down when it’s growing on the scraws, and pull it with three pulls, and mind would the wind change when you are pulling it or your head will be gone. Warm it on the tongs when you bring it and put it on the lump. The lus-mor (mullein) is the only one that’s good to bring back children that are away. But what’s better than that is to save what’s in the craw of a cock you’ll kill on St. Martin’s Eve and put it by and dry it, and give it to the child that’s away.
There’s something in green flax I know, for my mother often told me about one night she was spinning flax, before she was married and she was up late. And a man of the faeries came in. She had no right to be sitting up so late, they don’t like that. And he told her to go to bed, for he wanted to kill her, and he couldn’t touch her while she was handling the flax. And every time he’d tell her to go to bed, she’d give him some answer, and she’d go on pulling a thread of the flax, or mending a broken one, for she was wise, and she knew that at the crowing of the cock he’d have to go. So at last the cock crowed, and he was gone, and she was safe then, for the cock is blessed.

Mrs. Ward:

As to the lus-mor, whatever way the wind is blowing when you begin to cut it, if it changes while you’re cutting it, you’ll lose your mind. And if you’re paid for cutting it, you can do it when you like, but if not they mightn’t like it. I knew a woman was cutting it one time, and a voice, an enchanted voice, called out, “Don’t cut that if you’re not paid, or you’ll be sorry,” But if you put a bit of this with every other herb you drink, you’ll live for ever. My grandmother used to put a bit with everything she took, and she lived to be over a hundred.

An Old Man on the Beach:

I wouldn’t give into those things, but I’ll tell you what happened to a son of my own. He was as fine and as stout a boy as ever you saw, and one day he was out with me, and a letter came and told of the death of some one’s child that was in America, and all the island gathered to hear it read. And all the people were pressing to each other there. And when we were coming home, he had a bit of a kippeen in his hand, and getting over a wall he fell, and some way the kippeen went in at his throat, where it had a sharp point and hurt the palate of his mouth, and he got paralysed from the waist up.
There was a woman over in Spiddal, and my wife gave me no ease till I went to her, and she gave me some herb for him. He got better after, and there’s no man in the island stronger and stouter than what he is but he never got back the use of his left hand, but the strength he has in the other hand is equal to what another man would have in two. Did the woman in Spiddal say what gave him the touch? Oh well, she said all sorts of things. But I wouldn’t like to meddle too much with such as her, for it’s by witchcraft I believe it’s done. There was a woman of the same sort over in Roundstone, and I knew a man went to her about his wife, and first she said the sickness had nothing to do with her business, but he said he came too far to bring back an answer like that. So she went into a little room, and he heard her call on the name of all the devils. So he cried out that that was enough, and she came out then and made the sign of the Cross, but he wouldn’t stop in it.
But a priest told me that there was a woman in France used to cure all the dumb that came to her, and that it was a great loss and a great pity when she died.

Mrs. Cloonan:

I knew some could cure with herbs; but it’s not right for any one that doesn’t understand them to be meddling with them. There was a woman I knew one time wanted a certain herb I knew for a cure for her daughter, and the only place that herb was to be had was down in the bottom of a spring well. She was always asking me would I go and get it for her, but I took advice, and I was advised not to do it. So then she went herself and she got it out, a very green herb it was, not watercress, but it had a bunch of green leaves. And so soon as she brought it into the house, she fell as if dead and there she lay for two hours. And not long after that she died, but she cured the daughter, and it’s well I didn’t go to gather the herb, or it’s on me all the harm would have come.
I used to be gathering an herb one time for the Bishop that lived at Loughmore, dandelion it was. There are two sorts, the white that has no harm in it, that’s what I used to be gathering, and the red that has a pishogue in it, but I left that alone.

Old Heffernan:

The best herb-doctor I ever knew was Conolly up at Ballyturn. He knew every herb that grew in the earth. It was said that he was away with the faeries one time, and when I knew him he had the two thumbs turned in, and it was said that was the sign they left on him. I had a lump on the thigh one time and my father went to him, and he gave him an herb for it but he told him not to come into the house by the door the wind would be blowing in at. They thought it was the evil I had, that is given by them by a touch, and that is why he said about the wind, for if it was the evil, there would be a worm in it, and if it smelled the herb that was brought in at the door, it might change to another place. I don’t know what the herb was, but I would have been dead if I had it on another hour, it burned so much, and I had to get the lump lanced after, for it wasn’t the evil I had.
Conolly cured many a one. Jack Hall that fell into a pot of water they were after boiling potatoes in, had the skin scalded off him and that Doctor Lynch could do nothing for, he cured.
He boiled down herbs with a bit of lard, and after that was rubbed on three times, he was well.
And Pat Cahel that was deaf, he cured with the rib-mas-seala, that herb in the potatoes that milk comes out of. His wife was against him doing the cures, she thought that it would fall on herself. And anyway, she died before him. But Connor at Oldtown gave up doing cures, and his stock began to die, and he couldn’t keep a pig, and all he had wasted away till he began to do them again; and his son does cures now, but I think it’s more with charms than with herbs.

John Phelan:

The bainne-bo-bliatain (wood anemone) is good for the headache, if you put the leaves of it on your head. But as for the us-mor it’s best not to have anything to do with that.

Mrs. West:

Dandelion is good for the heart, and when Father Prendergast was curate here, he had it rooted up in all the fields about, to drink it, and see what a fine man he is. Garblus; how did you hear of that? That is the herb for things that have to do with the faeries. And when you’d drink it for anything of that sort, if it doesn’t cure you, it will kill you then and there. There was a fine young man I used to know and he got his death on the head of a pig that came at himself and another man at the gate of Ramore, and that never left them, but was at them all the time till they came to a stream of water. And when he got home, he took to his bed with a headache, and at last he was brought a drink of thegarblus and no sooner did he drink it than he was dead. I remember him well. Biddy Early didn’t use herbs, but let people say what they like, she was a sure woman. There is something in flax, for no priest would anoint you without a bit of tow. And if a woman that was carrying was to put a basket of green flax on her back, the child would go from her, and if a mare that was in foal had a load of flax put on her, the foal would go the same way.

Mrs. Allen:

I don’t believe in faeries myself, I really don’t. But all the people in Kildare believe in them, and I’ll tell you what I saw there one time myself. There was a man had a splendid big white horse, and he was leading him along the road, and a woman, a next-door neighbour, got up on the wall and looked at him. And the horse fell down on his knees and began to shiver, and you’d think buckets of water were poured over him.
And they led him home, but he was fit for nothing, and everyone was sorry for the poor man, and him being worth ninety pounds. And they sent to the Curragh and to every place for vets, but not one could do anything at all. And at last they sent up in to the mountains for a faery doctor, and he went into the stable and shut the door, and whatever he did there no one knows, but when he came out he said that the horse would get up on the ninth day, and be as well as ever. And so he did sure enough, but whether he kept well, I don’t know, for the man that owned him sold him the first minute he could. And they say that while the faery doctor was in the stable, the woman came to ask what was he doing, and he called from inside, “Keep her away, keep her away.” And a priest had lodgings in the house at the same time, and when the faery doctor saw him coming, “Let me out of this,” says he, and away with him as fast as he could. And all this I saw happen, but whether the horse only got a chill or not I don’t know.

James Mangan:

My mother learned cures from an Ulster woman, for the Ulster women are the best for cures; but I don’t know the half of them, and what I know I wouldn’t like to be talking about or doing, unless it might be for my own family. There’s a cure she had for the yellow jaundice; and it’s a long way from Ennistymon to Creevagh, but I saw a man come all that way to her, and he fainted when he sat down in the chair, he was so far gone. But she gave him a drink of it, and he came in a second time and she gave it again, and he didn’t come a third time for he didn’t want it. But I don’t mind if I tell you the cure and it is this: take a bit of the dirt of a dog that has been eating bones and meat, and put it on top of an oven till it’s as fine as powder and as white as flour, and then pound it up, and put it in a glass of whiskey, in a bottle, and if a man is not too far gone with jaundice, that will cure him.
There was one Carthy at Imlough did great cures with charms and his son can do them yet. He uses no herbs, but he’ll go down on his knees and he’ll say some words into a bit of unsalted butter, and what words he says, no one knows. There was a big man I know had a sore on his leg and the doctor couldn’t cure him, and Doctor Moran said a bit of the bone would have to come out. So at last he went to Jim Carthy and he told him to bring him a bit of unsalted butter the next Monday, or Thursday, or Saturday, for there’s a difference in days. And he would have to come three time, or if it was a bad case, he’d have to come nine times.
But I think it was after the third time that he got well, and now he is one of the head men in Persse’s Distillery in Galway.

A Slieve Echtge Woman:

The wild parsnip is good for gravel, and for heartbeat there’s nothing so good as dandelion. There was a woman I knew used to boil it down, and she’d throw out what was left on the grass. And there was a fleet of turkeys about the house and they used to be picking it up. And at Christmas they killed one of them, and when it was cut open they found a new heart growing in it with the dint of the dandelion.
My father went one time to a woman at Ennis, not Biddy Early, but one of her sort, to ask her about three sheep he had lost.
And she told him the very place they were brought to, a long path through the stones near Kinvara. And there he found the skins, and he heard that the man that brought them away had them sold to a butcher in Loughrea. So he followed him there, and brought the police, and they found him–a poor looking little man, but he had £60 within in his box.
There was another man up near Ballylee could tell these things too. When Jack Fahy lost his wool, he went to him, and next morning there were the fleeces at his door.
Those that are away know these things. There was a brother of my own took to it for seven years–and we at school. And no one could beat him at the hurling and the games. But I wouldn’t like to be mixed with that myself.
There was one Moyra Colum was a great one for doing cures. She was called one time to see some sick person, and the man that came for her put her up behind him, on the horse. And some youngsters began to be humbugging him, and humbugging is always bad. And there was a young horse in the field where the youngsters were and it began to gallop, and it fell over a stump and lay on the ground kicking as if in a fit. And then Moyra Colum said, “Let me get down, for I have pity for the horse.” And she got down and went into the field, and she picked a blade of a herb and put it to the horse’s mouth and in one minute it got up well.
Another time a woman had a sick cow and she sent her little boy to Moyra Colum, and she gave him a bottle and bade him put a drop of what was in it in the cow’s ear. And so he did and in a few minutes he began to feel a great pain in his foot. So into the Street and broke it, and she said, “It’s better to lose the cow than to lose my son.” And in the morning the cow was dead.
The herbs they cure with, there’s some that’s natural, and you could pick them at all times of the day; there’s a very good cure for the yellow jaundice I have myself, and I offered it to a woman in Ballygrah the other day, but some people are so taken up with pride and with conceit they won’t believe that to cure that sickness you must take what comes from your own nature. She’s dead since of it, I hear. But I’ll tell you the cure, the way you’ll know it. If you are attending a funeral, pick out a few little worms from the earth that’s thrown up out of the grave, few or many, twenty or thirty if you like. And when you go home, boil them down in a sup of new milk and let it get cold; and believe me, that will cure the sickness.
There’s one woman I knew used to take a bit of tape when you’d go to her, and she’d measure it over her thumb like this; and when she had it measured she’d know what was the matter with you.
For some sicknesses they used herbs that have no natural cure, and those must be gathered in the morning early. Before twelve o’clock? No, but before sunrise. And there’s a different charm to be said over each one of them. It is for any sort of pain these are good, such as a pain in the side. There’s themeena madar, a nice little planteen with a nice little blue flowereen above on it, that’s used for a running sore or an evil. And the charm to be said when you’re picking it has in it the name of some old curer or magician, and you can say that into a bit of tow three times, and put it on the person to be cured. That is a good charm. You might use that yourself if it was any one close to you was sick, but for a stranger I’d recommend you not do it. They know all things and who are using it, and where’s the use of putting yourself in danger?

James Mangan:

My mother learned to do a great many cures from a woman from the North and some I could do myself, but I wouldn’t like to be doing them unless for those that are nearest me; I don’t want to be putting myself in danger.
For a swelling in the throat it’s an herb would be used, or for the evil a poultice you’d make of herbs. But for a pain in the ribs or in the head, it’s a charm you should use, and to whisper it into a bit of tow, and to put it on the mouth of whoever would have the pain, and that would take it away. There’s a herb called rif in your own garden is good for cures. And this is a good charm to say in Irish:

A quiet woman.
A rough man.
The Son of God.
The husk of the flax.

The Old Man on the Beach:

In the old times all could do druith–like freemasonry–and the ground was all covered with the likeness of the devil; and with druith they could do anything, and could put the sea between you and the road. There’s only a few can do it now, but all that live in the County Down can do it.

Mrs. Quaid:

There was a girl in a house near this was pining away, and a travelling woman came to the house and she told the mother to bring the girl across to the graveyard that’s near the house before sunrise and to pick some of the grass that’s growing over the remains. And so she did, and the girl got well. But the mother told me that when the woman had told her that, she vanished away, all in a minute, and was seen no more.
I have a charm myself for the headache, I cured many with it. I used to put on a ribbon from the back of the head over the mouth, and another from the top of the head under the chin and then to press my hand on it, and I’d give them great relief and I’d say the charm. But one time I read in the Scriptures that the use of charms is forbidden, so I had it on my conscience, and the next time I went to confession I asked the priest ‘vas it any harm for me to use it, and I said it to him in Irish. And in English it means “Charm of St. Peter, Charm of St Paul, an angel brought it from Rome. The similitude of Christ, suffering death, and all suffering goes with Him and into the flax.” And the priest didn’t say if I might use it or not, so I went on with it, for I didn’t like to turn away so many suffering people coming to me.
I know a charm a woman from the North gave to Tom Mangan’s mother, she used to cure ulcers with it and cancers. It was with unsalted butter it was used, but I don’t know what the words were.

John Phelan:

If you cut a hazel rod and bring it with you, and turn it round about now and again, no bad thing can hurt you. And a cure can be made for bad eyes from the ivy that grows on a white-thorn bush. I know a boy had an ulcer on his eye and it was cured by that.

Mrs. Creevy:

There was Leary’s son in Gort had bad eyes and no doctor could cure him. And one night his mother had a dream that she got up and took a half-blanket with her, and went away to a blessed well a little outside Gort, and there she saw a woman dressed all in white, and she gave her some of the water, and when she brought it to her son he got well. So the next day she went there and got the water, and after putting it three times on his eyes, he was as well as ever he was.
There was a woman here used to do cures with herbs-a midwife she was. And if a man went for her in a hurry, and on a horse, and he’d want her to get up behind him, she’d say, “No,” that she was never on horseback. But no matter how fast he’d go home, there she’d be close after him.
There was a child was sick and it was known itself wasn’t in it. And a woman told the mother to go to a woman she told her of, and not to say anything about the child but to say, “The calf is sick” and to ask for a cure for it. So she did and the woman gave her some herb, and she gave it to the child and it got well.
There was a man from Cuillean was telling me how two women came from the County Down in his father’s time, mother and daughter, and they brought two spinning wheels with them, and they used to be in the house spinning. But the milk went from the cow and they watched and saw it was through charms. And then all the people brought turf and made a big fire outside, and stripped the witch and the daughter to burn them. And when they were brought out to be burned the woman said, “Bring me out a bit of flax and I’ll show you a pishogue.” So they brought out a bit of flax and she made two skeins of it, and twisted it some way like that (interlacing his fingers) and she put the two skeins round herself and the daughter, and began to twist it, and it went up in the air round and round and the two women with it, and the people all saw them going up, but they couldn’t stop them. The man’s own father saw that himself.
There was a woman from the County Down was living up on that mountain beyond one time, and there was a boy in the house next to mine that had a pain in his heart, and was crying out with the pain of it. And she came down, and I was in the house myself and I saw her fill the bowl with oatenmeal, and she tied a cloth over it, and put it on the hearth. And when she took it off, all the meal was gone out of one side of the bowl, and she made a cake out of what was left on the other side, and ate it. And the boy got well.
There was a woman in Clifden did many cures and knew everything. And I knew two boys were sent to her one time, and they had a bottle of poteen to bring her, but on the road they drank the poteen. But they got her another bottle before they got to the house, but for all that she knew well, and told them what they had done.
There’s some families have a charm in them, and a man of those families can do cures, just like King’s blood used to cure the evil, but they couldn’t teach it to you or to me or another.
There’s a very good charm to stop bleeding; it will stop it in a minute when nothing else can, and there’s one to take bones from the neck, and one against ulcers.

Kevin Ralph:

I went to Macklin near Loughrea myself one time, when I had an ulcer here in my neck. But when I got to him and asked for the charm, he answered me in Irish, “The Soggarth said to me, any man that will use charms to do cures with will be damned.” I persuaded him to do it after, but I never felt that it did me much good. Because he took no care to do it well after the priest saying that of him. But there’s some will only let it be said in an outhouse if there’s a cure to be done in the house.

A Woman in County Limerick:

It is twenty year ago I got a pain in my side, that I could not stoop; and I tried Siegel’s Syrup and a plaster and a black blister from the doctor, and every sort of thing and they did me no good. And there came in a man one day, a farmer I knew, and he said, “It’s a fool you are not to go to a woman living within two miles of you that would cure you-a woman that does charms.” So I went to her nine times, three days I should go and three stop away, and she would pass her hand over me, and would make me hold on to the branch of an apple tree up high, that I would hang from it, and she would be swinging me as you would swing a child. And she laid me on the grass and passed her hands over me, and what she said over me I don’t know. And at the end of the nine visits I was cured, and the pain left me. At the time she died I wanted to go lay her out but my husband would not let me go. He said if I was seen going in, the neighbours would say she had left me her cures and would be calling me a witch. She said it was from an old man she got the charm that used to be called a wizard. My father knew him, and said he could bring away the wheat and bring it back again, and that he could turn the four winds of heaven to blow upon your house till they would knock it.

A Munster Midwife:

Is it true a part of the pain can be put on the man? It is to be sure, but it would be the most pity in the world to do it; it is a thing I never did, for the man would never be the better of it, and it would not take any of the pain off the woman. And shouldn’t we have pity upon men, that have enough troubles of their own to go through?

Mrs. Hollaran:

Did I know the pain could be put on a man? Sure I seen my own mother that was a midwife do it. He was such a Molly of an old man, and he had no compassion at all on his wife. He was as if making out she had no pain at all. So my mother gave her a drink, and with that he was on the floor and around the floor crying and roaring. “The devil take you,” says he, and the pain upon him; but while he had it, it went away from his wife. It did him no harm after, and my mother would not have done it but for him being so covetous. He wanted to make out that she wasn’t sick.

Mrs. Stephens:

At childbirth there are some of the old women are able to put a part of the pain upon the man, or any man. There was a woman in labour near Oran, and there were two policemen out walking that night, and one of them went into the house to light his pipe. There were two or three women in it, and the sick woman stretched beyond them, and one of them offered him a drink of the tea she had been using, and he didn’t want it but he took a drink of it, and then he took a coal off the hearth and put it on his pipe to light it and went out to his comrade. And no sooner was he there than he began to roar and to catch hold of his belly and he fell down by the roadside roaring. But the other knew something of what happened, and he took the pipe, and it having a coal on it, and he put it on top of the wall and fired a shot of the gun at it and broke it; and with that the man got well of the pain and stood up again.
No woman that is carrying should go to the house where another woman is in labour; if she does, that woman’s pain will come on her along with her own pain when her time comes.
A child to come with the spring tide, it will have luck.