The following bits and pieces appeared in 1939 in the book Country Cracks: Old Tales from the County of Armagh by T. G. F. Paterson , curator of Armagh County Museum. Paterson wrote down the stories he heard in his rambles around the countryside. These are the stories he heard in townlands in and around the district of Markethill.
Armaghbrague WHY THE FAIRIES LEFT IRELAND
"The raison people would up-end the egg when they picked the mate from it, and drive the spoon through its bottom, was that the wee people wudn't be able till sail away in it. Me grandfather did it and his grandfather afore him. But there wur some that didn't and that's why there are no wee people now."
Tanderagee-Tassagh THEY WERE PLENTIFUL, TOO, AT ONE TIME
" Witches there were in days bygone. There's fact for that. They were part of the times then. Nowadays people are too busy with other things till be dabbling in ` Black Art.' I mind well the oul' people talking of a woman that cud take butter from the cows. She was seen at it many a morning. There she'd be in the grazing trailing a rope behind her. And that brought all the butter from that field till her. And the rope wasn't hay or straw mind ye but made of human hair that she had gathered the country over. Nothing cud be done about that kind of one. But there was another sort that ye might shoot at, the kind that went about as hares on the same arn.1 Ye had to have a silver bullet for them bodies and they were plentiful too at one time. It was quare about the hair rope but sure many a thing happened then to put the country in an uproar. I mind a ghost that kept the whole townland in the house at night for many a long year, but God only knows where the thing is now." 1 Errand.
Terryhoogan, 1928 HE KNOWED ALL
" Me gran'father minded a fight at the graveyard gate between two funerals that arrived tilgither. It wus a hell of a scrap by he's account. They went for each other like Turks, alI because of a notion that the corp who was first through the gates wud hev the other bludy fella to chop and carry for him. People wur quare in them days-why if oul' weemin had water till throw out an' it was night, they'd be afeared to do it in case it was hurtful to some one, but whether it was ghosts or fairies they wur afeared of I heven't a notion. An' if he went for a walk in the graveyard an' tripped on a grave it was bad, but heaven help ye if ye spread yer length in such a spot. Ye might just as well go home an' make yer will. Many a grave was hoked 1 in the oul' days, an' not be people wantin' bodies for doctors at all, but be people wantin' skins for charms. It's a pity till God ye wurn't here in me gran'father's time. He knowed all." 1 Re-opened.
Tassagh district ELF-SHOT
" Cows were sometimes elf-shot when I wus wee. I mind a man cud cure the bother. He'd take a bit of a kindled turf from the fire be the tongs an' move it from side to side an' say a bit of a prayer. It wus then put under the cow's nose an' she wus soon better."
Hamilton's Bawn, c. 1930 IT'S GOOD TILL BE ALIVE
" It wus a gran' hirin' fair they used till have here but who needs sarvent boys now ? Shure the young fellas now wud rather drive a bus or go till Ameriky or one of them foreign places, than feel the reins atween their fingers. Ay ! it's a hard life the farmers have but it's good till be alive an' in the fiefs with the horses at times. Ye have a guess as till how the saysons go when yer in the open. Not but what they've changed too. I doubt whether it wus wise till alter the clock. Shure what has foolish man till do with God's own time. But mind ye I'm not denyin' the long evenin's is good for them that has the time till skite about. But what about the mornin's an' the dew on the grass, an' nothin' a doin' at all, at all, until it's nearing the middle of the day ? "
Corran KELLY'S TALE: THE GREY STONE OF CORRAN
1 When I wus a boy it wus often I'd be on the mountain above wi' oul' Sammy Morrison who wus herd till the Moores of Lisnadill. An' it's often he toul' me brothers an' me that a bull of the oul' days-mebbe indeed the one that chased Patrick he's self-is buried in under the Grey Stone. The marks of its feet are on stones till this very day. That wus in the oul' days an' the oul' people always had it that the ` Bull's Track ' in Ballymacnab wus made be that very animal. They said it went clane mad when Patrick tried to settle on Carrickatuke. An' the dancin' an' roarin' of it put the fear of God in the whole countryside-and no wonder, for shure ivery night it wud be wreckin' all that Patrick hed built be day on Carrick beyaut. Ah sure, only for that bull Armagh wud be on the fine site-that's if the story is true-an' mind ye there's something in oul' stories or they wudn't be toul'. The bull went mad; ay, completely crazy, an' he riz at Carrick an' lit at Ballymacnab, an' the noise wus awful. It frightened even Patrick, an' he gathered the country from far an' near, an' they slew the baste an' dragged him till Corran." 1 Standing on Corran mountain, at a height of 850 ft., the Grey Stone is some seven miles S. of Armagh.
Tullynagin 96 "THEY GOT NO GOOD OF HER AFTER."
The McGaughey's had a cow on the Cashel an' it wus supposed-indeed it wus true as the Gospel-that the cow wus tuk from them at times. One night they saw it bein' tuk, an' followed it all the way to Ballymacnab. An' there in an' oul' house, now down, they foun' it. An' it wus bein' milked, an' there wus a houseful of childer an' some of them ill wid the faver, or so they were toul'. The people in the house axed that the cow wud be left, an' said her milk wud increase. But no-the McGaugheys wud have her away. An' away they tok her, but they got no good of her after.
Tallybrone96 "BUSINESS OF HIS OWN."
Shure in Granemore above, Pat Coman was out one night on business of he's own. An' there was a publichouse in he's way, but before he cud reach it he wus caught be a party, an' he not knowin' who they wur or what. An' they had a jar of whiskey, an' for pace sake, he carried it. An' they all went along the road till they come to a house a wee bit off it, at no great distance. It wus lighted, an' the fiddles wur goin', an' there wus playin' an' dancin"Conran left down the whiskey, an' tried till git goin', for he suspicioned what they wur, but they made him dance. An' he had a bye-name--"Nate Coat "it wus. An' they nearly murdered him wid steppin' it out. An' the better he footed it, the more they yelled, "Nate Coat, ye are doin' it well."Chokin' with thirst he wus, when they offered him whiskey an' hard put till refuse it, for he wus no temperance looney. But shure if he had, he wad niver have got back till tell the crack.
Farranamucklagh 99 "THE HEADSTRONG MAN."
Me grandfather, God rest him, wus aye a headstrong man. One day the cows wur breakin' something tarrable. An' he laid han' on one of the gentry bushes to cut a branch till stop a gap. But sure he got a fall he niver overed. He wus threw right through the scrubbery intill the river below, an' he wus a done man from that very day.
Cashel 97 THE CABIN UNDER THE HILL.
On this very farm on the groun' you're stannin' on there wus a cow in me grandfather's time. An' when the rest of the cattle wud be comin' till the byre she wud always disappear. An' one night they caught her goin', an' they grabbed her tail an' swung till her, till she reached a shough in the bank of the glen. An' they held on, an' soon they fOUlld themselve5 in a wee cabin under the hill. An' in it there wus a wee woman, an' a houseful of wee ones, an' niver a taste of milk. An' she begged them till lave her the cow but they wudn't. They spoke her ill, an' toul her it wus wicked she wus till be coaxin' the cow. An' shure they might as well have left her, for in the mornin' she wus dead at the stake.
Ballymacnab 100 THE FAIRY THORN.
In that field over the road there wus the finest thorn iver, though it's wasteing now. An' Larry McParland, he's the one that caused it. Shure he tried till stub it down, an' wusn't he threw right across the field till the very road itself, as many another can tell ye besides meself. An' now it will soon be down with the cattle scratchin' it, but the divil a one wud lay han' till it otherwise, an' it in as good a field as iver wus.
Ballymacnab 98 THE WHITE SHEET.
Alice McParland wus far too fond of hoardin'1 the cows in the forth as long as iver there wus glimmer of light. Well once a white sheet riz in the ring an' went roun' an' roun' the hill, an' mebbe she didn't git a fright. She knew then she wusn't wanted there, an' she niver stayed late no more. An' that's as true as ye like, for I heared it many a time. 1. Hoardin', herding.
Farranamucklagh 101 GREED FOR LAND.
The Boyles in Farlagh beyant wur greedy for lan'. An' they wur fren's of me own too. An' they broke up a gentle place for bye they had bother in the ploughin'. An' the very nixt mornin', their two horses, as good bastes as ye'd fine in the whole of the country, killed their selves be runnin' away an' breakin' their necks in the glen. An' that part of the Boyles went to clean desolation, an' soon they had neither horse, cow or calf till their backs.
Farranamucklagh 101 "THE BONNY WEE WOMAN
." A mind me aunt an' me-I wus the quare wee nipper then-goin' down till the river for water, an' there on the other side wus the bonniest wee woman ye iver saw. An' me an' me aunt, well, me an' her, run back till the house, an' toul' me uncles. An' off they come as fast as their legs wud carry them, but not a hate they saw at all, at all. That wus sixty years ago or more, an' she wus the size of a wee one of two or three.
Cashel 102 THE FAIRY LAST.
Me father wus hoardin' in the Relig one day--he wus sarvent boy till them that had it. An' he saw a cobbler's sate an' the purtiest wee last ye iver saw beside it. An' into he's pocket he put it, but when he got home the oul' people wur so afeared, he put it back. An' he marked the spot, an' the very ni:`t day when he looked for it, shure it wus gone!
Granemore FALLEN ANGELS
" Some said the wee people wur fallen angels, an' that some stuck in the skies an' niver reached the groun'. There's something in our prayers about it but I can't remember. The Lord wus in a passion an' He cleared them all out because they wur so impident like. Thought they wur as good as Himself. But he calmed in the middle before they'd all fallen an' that's why some are still in the air. It's harm they'd do till Ireland too, mebbe, only that they hope to get back till Heaven some days.
Farranamucklagh 103 THE COW THAT LIVED IN A CAVE.
There wus once a cave near till the fairy thorn, an' often an' often in the oul' days a wee woman wus seen in an' about it. An' she had a cow, an' the cow wus for iver grazin' the field, but no one cud iver git near it, for it always went back to the cave.
THE BANSHEE. I've heard it. It follows us, an' it follows the McParlands too. I've heard it aroun' this very house. It cried for our Arthur, an' Barney O Toole heared it too. That wus in '85. I niver saw it, but there's them that say it's like a wee woman. It's some kind of spirit, I'm thinkin', mebbe a kind of the wee people.
THE FAIRY FORT AT CLADYMORE. The wee people owned it, an' wur for iver houl'in' balls an' dances in it. Me father heared an' saw them. An' oul' John McKee who is living till this very day both saw an' heared them. Once they nearly had him away. He wus bringin' home the cattle when they come upon him. An' he wus hard put till escape but he got a grip on the tail of a cow an' shure he wus saved. Indeed an' it's the purtiest an' smallest fort ye iver saw. An' well might it be, for it wus niver touched by mortal but once, an' that by oul' Pat Rafferty that's gone. An' it wus only a spade-ing he dug till he tuk a pain in he's leg that niver mended an' he wus lame for the rest of he's day.
THE PLOUGHING OF THE RELIG AT CASHEL 93
THE PLOUGHING OF THE RELIG AT CASHEL. Shure it wus in oul' McParland's time it wus done an' the countryside wus afeared for him, but nothing happened. An' he had the finest corn ye iver saw. From far an' near they cum till see it an' till wonder at it. The heads wur as long as yer arm an' reachin' far above the wall of the Relig. An' it ripened. An' one evenin' himself an' some others wur there. An' he says, says he, "I'll cut it cum the morrow if help can be got."An' they who wur with him promised till give a hand. But in the mornin' when they got there shure it wus bare as yer fist--deil the corn or anything--not even a stubble. An' it give them such a fright they niver tried it again. An' I remember me mother tellin' me-she's the one had all the oul' stories, but it's seldom I listened for I used to think the oul' people were crazy-of someone crossing the Relig one evenin'. An' the music wus so good he cudn't keep from steppin' till it. An' he jigged till it long an' well till he foun' it right under he's feet. An' then he got the fear upon him an' hooked it quick as he cud. An' it wus well he wus able. An' there wus me father's sister who tuk some dry branches from the oul' fairy thorn at the foot of the hill. She picked them to light the fire with. But they flew right out an' couped her over, an' shure it wus well she met with no worse. An' in Segahan river beyant they did their wee bits of washing. Shure there's the purtiest pots ye iver saw, an' they in the stones themselves-just where the river divides Geordie Armstrong from Paddy McKee. Many a time I have seen them an' many a time the oul' people saw the fairies washing.
THE SECOND MARRIAGE 90 (Dorsy Carrickrovaddy) 90
THE SECOND MARRIAGE. A woman died an' left her husband sorrowing with a baby boy. He's grief wus tarrable, but quick an' sudden over like, as such griefs sometimes are. An' before he's wife wus more than coul' in oul' burial groun' of Creggan, he's fancy wus captured be another. An' in a short time he wus again before the altar. But he's second marriage wus not as happy as he's first. He's new wife was jealous an' the son of the first marriage fared ill at the han's of the stepmother. This went on till one evenin' the first wife appeared till him an' toul' him that she wus with the wee people but so unhappy about their boy that she be till return, an' that he alone cud help her do so. He, poor sowl, wus all flustered for what wus he till do with two wives-even if they did agree-which wus far from likely. However he promised to rescue her when she pled to be allowed to be a sarvent to him an' the wife all her days, if allowed to look after her boy. An' at the same time she promised niver till be a trouble to either of them in any way. There wus but one plan of rescue. An' that was be the aid of the milk of a particular CONV in the byre. . An' the milk had to be gathered in a can free from water as the least drop would prevent the escape an' prove fatal to her. To those conditions the husband agreed an' give his promise true to not mention the subject till livin' sowl. He did not keep his bargain though for he toul' his wife. An' in the byre when he wnsn't lookin' she spilled some water in. That wus on Hallow Eve, an' he wus till know he's wife as the wee people rode past the house that night, because she wud be ridin' on the third grey horse. He waited with the milk on the kitchen dresser an' shure enough he soon heared them comin'. An' out he went till the gable of the house an' threw the milk over the lady on the third grey horse. She tumbled off an' there wus a great commotion. An' in the mornin' the road wus all blud. The wee people had killed her as she said they wud, if water should be in the milk an' they find out she had spoke of them till mortals. An' mebbe he lived happy ever after when he heared about the water ?
ON THIS VERY ROAD IT HAPPENED Cladymore 87
"In the morning it was stones" Cladybeg 89
"IN THE MORNING IT WAS STONES." Shure the only fairies that do be goin' now are the sort that are about ye all the time. I mane them that's like vou or me. But bedad it wnsn't always so, for I mind oul' Robert Stevenson of Corran beyant-as dacent a man as iver trod shoe leather-tellin' how he an' long John Williamson comin' from a wake wur axed to dance in the fairy forth above. An' hell till sich a night's sport they iver had. But they wur afeared till stay till mornin', though the fairies spoke them kindly. There wus lashin's an' lavin's of mate an' drink, but the divil a bite crossed their jaws. An' rather than have the wee people think them cornaptious, an' partly because of the crack they'd had, they agreed till a present of money. An' indeed an' doubles, in the mornin' it wus stones, an' that's as true as I tell it.
"The times are changes" Cladymore 89
"THE TIMES ARE CHANGED." The very childer used till be afeared till daunder on the hill in the heel of the evenin'. An' no wonder. Shure it wus said the wee people wud be dukeing1 in shoughs ready till grab them. Many a mallyvogin2 I got meself because of them. An' sure the cattle themselves wudn't as much as munch a bite once darkness had come. Ay divil the blade wud they let in their gubs.3 Home they'd ramp as fast as they cud. Shure it wus quare altogither. An' now if ye mention fairies to the wee ones they think yer full of whigmaleeries-or mebbe worse. God, ay, the times are changed. But it's speyedi the fairies will come again. But it wus an' oul' harl of bones without gumption or sense who said it, an' mebbe they'll niver.
1. Hiding by bending down.
3. Gubs, mouths.
THE BULL'S TRACK
1 It's on the way till Armagh like, an' there's nothing till touch it the whole world over. Shure I niver believed it meself until me an' some others footed it down. An' there it wus as plain as ye like. I saw it with me own two eyes an' I tell ye it's the grandest scenery ye iver saw. Shure the marks of the baste's cloots are as plain this blessed day, as they wur when Patrick himself wus here. An' that's so many years gone by, none but them as has the larnin' can tell. Ay, many a time I heared the story of how the bull riz on the Brague an' niver touched earth till he lit at Ballymacnab. An' then he riz again an' come down on the side of Navan Rath. An' he back an' he leps on another in Lisnadill. An' after that he went clane mad. An' the country up an' slaughtered him. An' they buried him on Corran, an' there he lies under a lump of a stone. An' some say he wus no bull at all, but the very oul' divil himself-an' mebbe he wus. Who knows? 1 These "hoof "indented boulders besides being associated with the animal that caused so much trouble to Patrick are linked up with the famous bull that caused Queen Maeve's invasion of Ulster.
Armaghbrague 83 ST. PATRICK AND THE BULL.
It's often I heared tell of the bull that jumped off Carrick1 above. It wus the one that stopped the buildin' of Armagh in the Brague above. Night after night all that wud be built by the saint wud be undone in the mornin'. At last a guard wus set, an' the bull wus seen. But shure it lepped from there till Ballymacnab an' wus in such a temper it lepped again. An' in its anger it went right over the hill where Armagh is the day. So it back again, but it knowed it wus bate. An' the roars of it wur somethin' tarrable. It frighted the country roun'. An' they gathered from far an' near. An' the strong ones among them killed the baste near the Corran above. An' the largest stone in Ireland wus drawed till the top, for shure it wus no ordinary bull at all, but a wicked spirit of sorts sent to torment Patrick he's self. An' there it wus laid an' the stone above it, an' there it is, till this very day, on the mountain for all till see. 1 Carrickatuke, the highest point in Armaghbreague townland. Situate in the historic territory of the Fews, it rises to a height of 1,200 feet and commands a very extensive view. According to the legend, St. Patrick wished to build his church on Armaghbreague but was so troubled by this Bull that he abandoned the site in favour of Armagh. The name Armaghbreague means false or illusory Armagh.
Corran 86 THE STORIES MAY NOT BE TRUE
" The bull pushed over during the night all that Patrick set up be day. An' Patrick wus very annoyed an' cursed the bull an' it went mad. The whole of Armagh wus after it. It raged an' tore for miles aroun', but whether it wus killed by Patrick's curses or died of a temper, I don't remember. It wus wonderful the way the saints cud curse in the oul' days. The same Patrick wus good at it be all accounts. He'd ring he's Bell on ye and curse ye for little. An' ride over ye if he tuk the notion. He killed he's sister that way. An' ivery time she riz he turned the horses an' drew the chariot over her again. She soon died of it. But God wasn't always pleased with him for capers of that sort. He tried it once on a man but God raised the groun' an' the wheels did no damage. That should have been a lesson to him. But the stories may not be true. The oul' people toul' them anyhow. I Patrick's Bell. A relic of the mid-fifth century-an ancient iron bell dipped in bronze-one of the chicf treasures of the See of Armagl1 It had a beautiful shrinc made for it by Donnell O'Lochlan, Monarch of Ireland, during the Primacy of Donnel McAuley, Archbishop of Annagh, from I09I to IIo5. The Bell and Shrine are now in the National Museum, Dublin.
Cladymore "ON THIS VERY ROAD IT HAPPENED.
" It wus a coul' an' frosty evenin' an' the night showed signs of bein' worse. I only heared tell of it but I knowed the man well. The night wus frosty an' he wus out late burnin' straw in his praties to keep them warm an' save them from takin' the frost. On this very road it happened. Where you an' me is now. He wus goin' home an' met a wee man an' woman who axed how far it wus till Clady Chapel. He toul' them an' they said, "Lave us a bit of the road."An' he did. An' then they got there the wee man said, said he, "Mebbe ye haven't had yer supper yet ? "But he said, said he, "I had, just before I left home for the pratie-fiel'."An' the first thing he seen after that wus a wee fire an' a griddle of bread atop of it. An' the wee man rayched for a farl of bread an' broke it in two an' give it till him with a silver half-crown. But he put both in his pocket for indeed he wus afeared till ate the bread. An' he thanked them both an' bid them good-night, an' niver stopped runnin' till he got till Donaghy's below. An' when he put he's han' in he's pocket shure he had only a stone. An' indeed he wus feareder than iver, for he wus still a half-mile from he's home an' divil the sowl afoot. He wus in a tarrable sweat. But home he got. An' he niver stayed out late no more-not even to save the praties.
Cashel 82 THE FAIRIES AND FINN. I heared me grandfather say that many a night when he wud be bringin' home the cattle he had to git on the ditch in this very loanin' till let them pass on their way till the glen. An' there wur giants here as well as the wee people, but shure the wee people wur last. Finn McCool he's self spent many a day on this very hill. 1 An' it wus here he put an' en' to an impident foreign giant that wus lookin' for fighting. Ay, an' buried him in under yon stone on the brow of the hill.
1 Cashel in Lisnadill parish, so called from the fine cashel on the summit of the above hill, in which was found the largest amber bead yet discovered in Ireland.
FAIRY MUSIC. Me father he didn't live here, but in Killyfaddy beyant the broad road. He wus chased by the wee people once. It wus near to the "Hog's Back '' 1 an' he had been till a cailey at a neighbour's house. An' on he's way home he had till cross the bog at Broughan. An' it was there he first heared the fiddlin' an' playin'. An' the steps of the dancin' wur so plain he cud hardly thole from havin' a fling he's self. But he got afeared when he thought of me mother an' all we wee ones at home alone. An' he flew as quick as he cud, but the faster he went the quicker the music. An' he run, an' he run, an' they after him. But he bate them. An' when he cleared the big hedge in he's fright an' lit in our garden, shure they cum no farther, but cheered an' shouted an' toul' him it wus he wus the soupel man. An' that happened to him good enough.
1 See note to "The Rampar."
"They were heard on the looms" Drumorgan 79
THE "RAMPAR." The Killeen1 "Rampar"is a gentle place. There wur lots of wee people on it in days past. I cud show ye a house near it that had to be re-built. It wus first put on the "Rampar,"but every night something happened to what wus built during the day. So it had to be moved. A man of the wee people rode the "Rampar"on horseback in them days. He wus a wee wee man on a wee wee white pony horse, an' he WUS king of them all. 1 Killeen near Armagh city. The "ramDar "is the old entrenchment sho~`n on O.S. maps as "f)ane's Cast."Traditionally associated with the district of Emain NIacha of which the Navan Rath is the centre. It is still traceablc also in the townlands of Latmacollum, Lisnadill and Killyfaddy, and l~nockbanc in Middleto~vn parish.
IT IS THE REAL PLACE OURS
"IT IS THE REAL PLACE, OURS ! " Our cove is a gentry cove an' the real home of the wee people. They haven't been seen in my day, but indeed a short time before I come here they wur seen in plenty. An' I may tell ye they wur seen in Keady not so long past. Many a time the man who lived here before me, an' who's not so long dead, duked the hedges till see them. But shure they only laughed at him an' pulled he's coat tails when he wudn't be lookin'. Nobody indeed has iver gone down. They're too afeared of the wee people. The woman before me said they come behine an' plucked her skirts many a time. She wud niver let us talk about them after night. "Their faces from us an' their backs till us,"she wud say, "an' they're all good people."It wus desperate here with them at one time- why they even played tig aroun' the plough. It's the real place, ours-there's not the like of it in Ireland.
"IT WAS SHE HAD THE BAD LUCK."
In the fort1 at one time there wus a lone bush so large and branchy ye cud have stud under it all day without iver bein' wet. About a ton of stones lay aroun' it near till the size of duck's eggs, but what they wur there for nobody knowed. The tree itself wus blown down on the windy night an' carried right across the fiel's to the road. But niver a sowl laid han's on it or touched it until it wasted away of itself. Near the same fort too, just outside the ring, there was at one time the finest pillar-stone in Ireland, but oul' Mrs. Rice had it destroyed, an' it wus she had the bad luck, all her cows dyin' of disorders an' she clai~nin' compensation off two townlan's an' blackguardin' her dacent neighbours. But the same Mrs. Rice she went too far when she cut down the oul' thorns on the fort. She niver saw another winter, but God rest her, shure she cud niver see the harm of it. The fort was always a gentle place. I mind me father that's dead this many a year, hearing the finest music there that iver wus heared-deed the finest music that iver wus heared wus nothin' till the music he heared at the oul' bush in the fort. An' the light wus beautiful an' playin' all aroun' it. An' another fort here was clane destroyed by John Brady. He wus one of the wealthiest men of his day-with a dozen race-horses, an' mebbe more, in England. But he lost all his money an' people said it wus well he come till no worse. An' there wus another lone bush in Ballyheridan of great repute on George John Flerming's land. An' he tuk it down an' burned it. An' he wasted right away an' he a man of thirty four acres. 1 Ballyheridan, near Armagh City.
THE BELL OF KILLYLOUGHRAN
BANTY'S BUSH.1 Banty had a neighbour who wus also a favourite with the wee people. An' when the neighbour needed money she had merely to visit the bush an' there she always, always, foun' a plentiful supply. But she cudn't houl' her tongue with regard til1 her wealth, so the wee people wur annoyed. An' the divil a penny she got after. Banty, howiver, wus wiser, an' she lived until she died always in favour with the wee people. An' she niver toul' a livin' sowl, so that disproves the silly sayin' that no woman cud keep a secret.
1 A place of pilgrimage in Ballindarragh townland near Markethill. Banty's bush is a wishing tree, but it is very different from the ordinary wishing-tree, in whose trunk one sticks a pin, or on whose branches one leaves a cherished handkerchief. At Banty's bush when you wish, you sit in a comfortable ratural seat in the tree tself. Of these seats there are several, rising one above the other, and while you wish you have a pleasant prospect of a beautiful and far-stretching countryside bounded in the dim distance by the Mountains of Mourne.
THEY WERE NOT OUR CONCERN 55
" Lights travelled along the rampar'1 in the oul' days. Many a night me mother saw them. Indeed they'd shake ye, she said, the fright of them. Coaches travelled along it too with people in them laughing, an' them not earthly. You may be sure they wurn't her consarn, so she niver bothered till spy on them. 1. The Black Pig's Dyke.
McGRAHAN BROKE IT UP 47
1 Sure an' I'll tell ve the yarn as it's toul' aroun' here. McGrahan broke it up. An' he nearly killed himself with the horses. They wur so bothersome in it the neighbours wur shure he'd stop. But the divil a bit of him. An' it wus he had the sorra's own black bad luck after. Shure didn't he die in a sheet because of the sores on an' about him. Mebbe indeed it wus only blud-poisoning he had-for meself I won't be after sayin'-for it's little faith I wud put in the like-but there ye are. I A pa.tly-destroyed cashel in Cargans townland near Silverbridge
Creggan Bane WHEN THE WEE PEOPLE CAME TO IRELAND 40.
When the wee people come to Ireland first, it wus in wee boats made of egg-shells. Hundreds an' thousands of them floated in on the coasts an' up the very wee-est rivers till the country wus full of them. Soon they settled down an' it wus in those days Ireland wus the lan' of glory ! That was long before it wus iver the land of saints. Sure St. Patrick wus this way he's self. But that has divil a hate to do with the wee people, exceptin' that it wus after he come that they first wanted till leave. They niver had much likin' for religion an' it's wise they wur for it is it that has ruined Ireland-there's far too many kinds of it in it. It huffed the wee people anyhow. An' when more an' more fancy religions grew up they wudn't be after stayin' at all, an' all the Creggan fairies went off to Dundalk Bay again in their egg-shell steamers. An' there's been no luck at all since they left, an' it's partly the fault of ourselves that they are gone. When I wus young I mind me gran'father wud always drive he's spoon through the bottom of he's egg when he picked the mate from the inside of it. But the priest says now that the wee people were niver here at all, at all, an' the Protestant clargy say the same, though what they can tell of it's only be hearsay, for iverybody knows they wurn't here when Patrick come.
Kilnasaggart THE WART STONE OF KILNASAGGART 39
1 An' shure I know it well. It's an oul' stone wid a hole in that wud be good for warts. But shure Thomas Mallon used till be able till cure them as well. He jist come down an' said, "Kate, here's a penny,"an' I've niver had a wart since, thank God, for it's they's the quare articles ! He cud do it with childer an' big people both. He wud give ye a penny an' say, "I'll buy yer wart."He wus Paddy's father that is now in bed. A wee black snail will cure them, too. Cut it open ye must an' rub it on the wart an' then ye stick it on a thorn. An' as it withers away, away goes yer wart. I tried it meself once an' it's a sure cure. Ye must meet it be the way an' pick it up. It's no good whatever till look for it. But doctors don't like them cures. They'd like that people shouldn't know about them. 1 In Edenappagh townland, near the village of Jonesborough. The famous pillar stone of Kilnasaggart, the earliest known inscribed stone of the Christian Period in Ireland stands in the next field-it dates back to the year 714.
ME FATHER KNOWED A WOMAN 23
"ME FATHER KNOWED A WOMAN." The wee people wur very cruel sometimes. Me father knowed a woman that nearly died in her confinement because of the fairies striving till take her. They wanted the baby an' they wanted her too, till be a nurse for their children. They nearly tore her out of bed at times but she beat them The cries of her wur something awful an' all the time she had to houl' on till the bed or it is out they wud have torn her.
Drumsavage 22 THE FAIRY KITCHEN.
The Wilson's of Rowantree Hill had to shift their byre because of the nuisance that run into the fairies' kitchen. An' indeed if they hadn't done it there's nothing surer than their luck would have left them.
Ballindarragh 28 "WOMAN, WHERE'S YOUR BROOMSTICK?
" There wus an' oul' witch here that had a cat that cud talk. The oul' people all knowed about it. Many a time they got a fright passin' when they heared it say till her, "Woman, where's yer broomstick, it's time we wus afut? "Sometimes, too, she turned herself or the cat intill a hare, an' then stole the milk from the neighbours' cows. When she'd be in that shape the dogs wudn't luk at her or go near her. She cud have tuk the butter from the churn, too. Even the cows wurn't safe from her greedy eye. An' when she died, the cat wus aroun' for many a day until at last it wus riddled with silver, as she shud have been herself.
1 The usual method of disposing of a witch when she was in animal form was to load the gun with threepenny bits borrowed from persons poorer than the one afflicted hy her evil doings.
Killycarn 35 THE FAIRY HUNT.
Two oul' men who lived in Kelly's bottom1 wur sittin' at the dure one evenin' suppin' sowans when up walked two wee men in green coats an' white caps. They wur wee people right enough, mebbe fairy horsemen, for in the oul' days there wus a fairy hunt here that always ended in the forth. An' the two oul' men wur twin brothers an' done out of the same boul.2 It was a great age they lived till, but they're gone now.
1 A low-lying field on a farm is often so described.
2 Twins and baptised from the same font.
Ballybrolly 45 THE NAVAN DRAGON.
1 Pearls an' gold galore lie in the lake but the divil a one has iver seen them, for the dragon won't iver let a body near them, who has not the rightful blud of the owner in him. Shure it's been seen twice in recent years, once by oul' O Rourke who wus mowing wid he's back till the lake, when he heared a hiss 'tween a screech an' a whis'le that nearly caused him till fall head over heels in the water. He saw the face of it as it sunk in the middle of the lake an' his very hair stood on en'. It give him such a fright he niver went back, an' the water wus that disturbed, the very wee waterhens, they up an' away too. An' he wid them an' glad till go. But he wus not the last till see it, for shure ye know there's a passage from it till the King's Stables2 beyant. An' one day over in Tray-ye know the place-it's always full from the bottom wid water, an' there the Kings of Ulster in the oul' days, watered their horses an' washed their chariots like. Well, me boul' O Toole thought he wud drain the water away. An' in he started till cut the bank an' it so lovely an' round it wus a pity till destroy the shape. But, bedad, it's little diggin' he did for up popped the dragon so big that the water cud hardly be seen for it. An' it spittin' something awful an' its eyeballs wicked wid fire. But shure that's all he knows about it, except that he's not the same man since. Ay, an' for many a long day after, he tuk till his bed.
1 "Navan Rath" near Annagh city. This earthwork encloses an area of over 12
acrcs, and is said to have been erected by Queen Macha in the year 350 B.C.
For almost seven centuries it uas the centre of power, law and learning for
all thc fair lands of Ulster. It was there Cuchullain carried daily a bull-calf
up the slope and as the calf grew, so his strength increased, until at last
he carried with ease the full-grown bull to the summit. There too, the setting
for the tragic story of Deirdre, one of the three great sorrows of Irish story
telling and there also evolved the epics that made "the Tain "the greatest cycle
of Irish story. Even Tara was but secondary to this regal settlement in point
of antiquity, a fact which no doubt influenced Patrick in his choice of Armagh
as the capital of our country in church affairs-- though "Navan "or Emain Macha,
had been deserted a century previous to his arrival.
2 A basin-shaped earthen enclosure of unusual type and minus the enclosing trench of the ordinary ringfort.
Ballymacnab 52 "A THROUGH-OTHER OLD BIT
." She was a through-other oul' bit an' none too sonsy
at that, for it wus often said she wus given till ridin' a broomstick. But all
the same she wus come of oul' residenters an' when she was past fendin' for
herself the neighbours wur good till her, an' sent the wee ones with milk an'
male many a time. But they wur always afeared till go in for they'd heared many
a crack they shouldn't. An' when they thumped the dure their hearts wud be in
their mouths till she slithered out till them, for there wus always the chance
that she might not appear as herself, at all, at all.
An' she wus the last one till see the wee people here. Before they left the country they went till the house to her. An' what do ye think for ? Why they went till tell her they wur goin' till war. An' she an' them being sich frien's, they bid1 till tell her.
"An',"says the spokesman, "we may niver be back ! ''
An' she up an' she says, "Och, but ye will now. Shure it's die I wud without ye's."An' with that she started till yammer. Says she, "I cud niver thole the whole winter through without news of ye's."
Says he, "We'll leave ye a sign."
"An' what will it be ? "says she.
"Keep yer blinkers on the well,"says he. "If we're bayte, it's bludy the water 'ill be."
An' bludy water it wus, an' she tuk a brash an' died of heart loneliness for them, an' that wus the en' of her.
An' mind ye all, all be it she was but a wee croul of a woman, she wusn't a bit afeared of man or brute, even in the bad times, when it wus far from safe for a man till be alone, let be a woman. An' them that toul' me the story of her well knowed all about her an' her fairy frien's.
Bid = had to.
Lisnadill 65 CRICKETS ARE LUCKY
" Crickets is lucky but aisy huffed. I heared of a man on he's cailey1 who come home late at night an' foun' all the crickets suppin' he's milk an' porridge. He wus real angry, he wus. An' he grabbed the tongs an' shoved crickets an' all in the fire. But when it come Sunday an' he went to put on he's bits of best clothes, shure the whole of the back was cut out of he's coat. He had till go to the tailor with it before he cud be seen again in it. An' the crickets riz an' left the house an' niver come back, an' all his luck went with them.
1 "On his cailey"; doing a round of his neighbours' houses for conversation and amusement, sometimcs also spoken of as being "out for a crack."
Drumconwell 68 "HE COULD NEVER BEAR THE SIGHT OF A HOUND." In a house on the roadside near the oul' forth there lived a man some fifty years ago who had a great weakness for hunting. He woke up one fine night to find a pack of hounds in the field at the side of his house, and wus so overjoyed at the prospect of a hunt that he hardly tuk time to dress. He no sooner reached the hounds than off they went in full cry, and they tuk him backwards and forwards an' roun' about the countryside until at long last he foun' himself in the oul' forth. An' there the fairies set upon him. An' they pulled his hair an' beat him hard an' well but at last they let him go an' till his dyin' day he could never bear the sight of a houn'."
Drumconwell 69 FAIRIES ON HER LOOM.
Near the forth in the oul' days lived a weaver an' often at night she heared the fairies at work on her loom. Many an' many a time she heared them talkin' an' laughin' but always when she tried till see them, they wud be gone.
Seagahan 75 THE BANSHEE.
I saw the Banshee when oul' Boyle's mother died. I wus comin' home in the dusk with a load of sods, an' the oul' gray horse an me mother with me. An' says she till me, "Some poor woman has lost her man or mebbe a son."An' the thing wore a shroud as if had come from a coffin, an' its hair wus streamin' in the wind. We both saw it. An' me mother, she said a prayer or mebbe two. "That's the Banshee,"says she. Ay, it cried for many an oul' family here, an' some say it's one that has gone before. Be that as it may, no human heart cud utter such grief, so, mind ye, I doubt it.
Ballymacnab, THE FAIRY THORN.
I wus but a wee lad then, an' I am eighty-two now. Me an' me two brothers wur playin' tig aroun' the oul' bush, when a wee affair riz up at the foot of the thorn. An' jist as I stopped on rme step an' spoke till it, down it went again. An' oul' O Neill who wus heavy with years even then, an's dead this many a long day-wus hoardin' the cows. An' he called till us that we wur near in the middle of them. An' there they wur all aroun' us, cloddin' an' caperin' wid each other. An' we wur well afeared an' ran till O Neill.
Killyfaddy "THE CHURN.
" In Killyfaddy townland the entrenchment 1 shown as "Dane's Cast ''1 is locally called the "Hog's back "and is reputed to be haunted by a ghostly pig. At one time people were afraid to cross it after night. Here in the old days little bags of oatmeal were attached to necklets and hung around the children's necks. This kept the fairies away. In the harvest time the last few stalks of the corn were always cut by throwing the sickle, or reaping hook, at them. They were then plaited and put around the master's neck. He purchased his freedom by givin' a supper-the old harvest home. The custom was called "the churn "and the plait of straw (known as the Calliagh) was taken into the house and preserved until the following year. I remember that myself. 1 See note to "The Rampar."
Cladybeg 82 "LOOKING FOR A DANCE."
I remember meself an' three others one night. It's many a long year ago. It wus lookin' for a dance we wur but divil a thing we got but a fright. We wur takin' the short cut over the fiel' till the loanin', an' the wee people wur there in hundreds. Playin' games they wur. An' there wus step-dancin' too. Sich clappin' of han's an' merrymakin' ye niver did hear. They had a fife an' a fiddle an' mebbe the best of a band-but we wur afeared to go near. We footed it quickly for them that falls under the spell of the wee people's music are goners completely. This tradition is general in the county regarding the danger of "listenillg in "to fairy broadcasts.