POPULAR TALES OF IRELAND.
These examples of Irish tradition are from a now extensive collection formed by the editor during the leisure of some years past. He would have preferred for several reasons to publish it in its entirety; but at the suggestion of the Director of the Revue Celtique the following tales (selected chiefly for their brevity) are offered as specimens of the tradition of the westernmost Celts, as now found existing in the mouths of the people.
OF A YOUNG MAN THAT ILL-TREATED HIS FATHER AND MOTHER.
There was a wild, ill-conducted young man in Ireland once, who lived with his parents. His days were given up to idleness, his nights to card-playing, drink, and debauchery; and when his father and his old mother talked to him about mending his evil habits the answer he gave them was to beat them. Well, time rolled on; the parents died; and one day, a long while after, some sentiment of remorse began, it would seem, to stir in his heart, for he bethought him of going to confession. He went to the priest, who asked him when was he at his duty last. He told him how long he had staid away. Then the priest began to question him as to the sins he had on his conscience; and the young man proceeded to tell ail his doings, his blackguardism, his drunkenness, his undutiful behaviour to his father and mother. The priest asked him did he ever raise his hand to beat them. "I did," he said, "bâte and ray-bate them." "And why," said the priest, "did you never come all this time to make your peace with God?" "I was afraid to come, [p.172] sir," he answered. "Well," said the confessor, when he had heard all, "I can do nothing for you. You must go to the bishop, and ask him to absolve you." To the bishop accordingly the young man had to betake himself. To him he related what brought him thither, and asked for the absolution which the priest had refused. The bishop listened to all he had to say about his past life, but when he had made an end, he told him that he could not undertake to absolve him, any more than the priest: ail he could do was to send him to Rome, to the Pope. Well, the young man set out on this journey, over sea first, then on foot over land, till in course of time he made his way to eternal Rome. There he sought the presence of the Pope, threw himself on his knees at his feet, and told him the history of his life, as he had told it to the priest and the bishop in Ireland. The Pope heard him out, and what he then commanded him to do was, to go back, and the first living thing he should meet on his way, to kneel down, kiss it and worship it. The young man shortly after left the city, and started off on his road home. On the way, towards evening, there met him a great leech-like thing, such as comes out of the river, and in obedience to the Pope's command, the young man knelt down and kissed it. The creature fastened the next instant in his throat, and all the strength of three men would not loosen its hold. He had at last to throw his handkerchief over it to cover it, and to drag himself and it, as well as he could, to a house by the road, where he asked for lodging for the night. There he withdrew to his own room. Next morning the people of the house waited a long time without his coming down, and at last, fearing something was wrong, they went to his door, which they found fastened on the inside. They forced it open, and then a fearful sight met their eyes. Of the young man there remained nothing but the fleshless bones; the rest of him had been devoured during the night.
(John Young, of Rathkeale, 27 april 1877.)
I can do nothing for you. Mr T. Wright in his notes (p. 55) to his edition of the Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, prosecuted for sorcery in 1324, by Richard de Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory (London, 1845), enumerates from a MS. of the fifteenth century the "casus quibus solus papa absolvit" and "casus quibus papa, sive episcopus, sive alius, eorum potestate accepta, absolvit." The former class includes
Incestum faciens, deflorans, aut homicida,
Sacrilegus, patris percussor, etc.;
Si qua suffocat partum, aut negligit occat,
Si pater aut mater violenter lditur, etc.;
Non scelus énorme vitii solvas sine papa;
Sacrilegus, cleri percussor sive parentum,
Taies vel similes Romam vadant, nisi sexus
Obstet femineus, aut debilis aut senis aetas, etc.
The discretion however allowed the bishop in certain cases is expressed by the line (ibid.),
Dictos qui possunt sine papa solvere solvant.
A great leech-like thing. Demons often appear in these stories in the form of a water-serpent or eel. In another unpublished story, too long to give here, the Devil appears wound as an eel round a butter-firkin. He is allowed to punish the impiety of a farmer's wife by devouring her body, but (as in the present tale) the soul is saved. Notwithstanding some differences of detail, this is the same story with Lou gouiat castigat of the Contes populaires recueillis en Agenais (Paris, 1874) of M. J. F. Bladé. In the Agenaise tale the sin of the young man is different; he provides himself with iron shoes for his journey; the bells of Rome sound at his approach ("Aqui las campanos que sous non l'arribado d'un gran peniten," the people say); and a companion of his makes the journey with him.
A woman had an ill-thriven youngster, who was lying in his cradle one day when
the little child belongingor thought to belongto mother neighbouring woman
came to the door with a message
from his mother, who wanted the loan of a sieve. "Chuir mo mhamaidhe asteach mé," said this latter, "ig iarraidhe iasacht an himide-haimide. My mammy sent me in to ask the loan of the himide-haimide." That was he childish name he gave the sieve. "Hd, hd!" laughed the fellow in he cradle, loud and bitter; "Nûair a bhi Coillte-Con an dsannuidhe's deas a déirthéa criathar. When Coillte-Con woods were growing it's xx bravely you could say 'sieve'."
It was a good three hundred years since the saplings of Coillte-Con were growing. After thus for the first time breaking silence, through losing all patience at the deception of the other joker, the sifreôg leaped out of his cradle, made for the door, and neither he nor his friend was ever seen after.
(Man from Laghtgeorge, 31 march, 1878.)
The very word ordinarily used for the good people, Sidhfir, Sidbeogaighe,
probably means the "Immortal Men, the little Immortals;" Slùagh Sidhe, the
Immortal Host, the Spanish Huesta Antigua,
Exercito Antiguo. We may compare O'Reilly's sidsat, they wait[ed], remained ji
sithbeo, siîhbûan, lasting, perpetual; sithbe, long life. In several traditions
concerning them the notion of great age is
implied, as here. In one of Croker's tales (Master and Man) Billy Mac Daniel's
sidhfer master say;
to him, "Billy, I will be a thousand years old to-morrow I think it ii, full time for me to get married." In the County of Galway the belle of the people is expressed in the saying, "No one dies in the Bruidhin) (the dwelling of the Spirits, the Bniden of ancient tales)."
The editor has not been able to identify the old wood alluded to Coillte-Conchubhair and Coillte-Conmaicne were respectively in the present Roscommonand Leitrim. There is a Cathair-a-con wood in Clare.
WHERE'LL I GO?
A voice used to be heard at night, crying ever from the butt of bush, "Where'll I go? Where'll I go?" A man was coming along that road one night, mellow with drink, and when he heard the ghost question, Where'll I go? "Where 'ould you go," he answered, "but to God out o'that, and leave the people in peace?" The spirit thanked him, and was never heard again.
(Young man at Clare, august, 1878.)
Cf. "Grsenzpfsehl verrùckt," Wolf (Niederkndische Sagen; Leipzig 1843, p. 509),
and Mùllenhoff "Das Gespenst mit dem Grenzpfahl Sagen, Mterchen und Lieder der
Herzogiliiimer Schleswig-Holstein un
1. cf. the berg in Norse legends of the Aesir.
[p.175] aaenbuTg; Kiel, 1845, p. 119). These two stories turn on the fraudulent displacement of a boundary post, which the rogue is condemned to run about with at night after his death, asking continually, "Wohin: soll ich ihn setzen? Wo soll ich ihn lassen?" A drunken man, who had fallen asleep in the haunted field, lifts his head and answers, "Ei, lumpenhund, setz' ihn wieder hin, wo du ihn genommen hast du: Dummbart du!" "Gott sei gedankt," cries the spirit; "Nun bin ch erlst!"
The "bush" in the Irish story was probably one of the solitary horns, which are always associated with the dead (they frequently mark graves), and are in Galway said to have all sprung up from dead rnen's lust scattered through the world.
THE GOOD PEOPLE'S QUESTION TO SAINT PATRICK.
I . LIMERICK.
Saint Patrick had a serving man called Crom Dubh, and he sent him out one day to
get wood for the fire for cooking; for all the beggars of the country used to be
fed at Saint Patrick's house. Crom
Dubh met some people who offered to draw the wood for him if he would put a
question to his master at the moment of the Elevation in the Mass from Dubh did
so on the Sunday following. "A
Phadraig," he said, "gai é an ùair a ra'ig na Slùagh Sidhe go Parrathas?"
(Patrick, what me will the Sluagh Sidhe go to Paradise?) "Donas dûbhais air
t'oide lûinteadha," said Saint Patrick, "ni ra'ig
siad go La an Breiîheamhantais hiirighthe (Grief and ill-luck to your teacher,
they'll not go there till the Day of Judgment, for certain)."
Before that the Good People used to put the sickles in the corn and the spades in the ground, and spade and sickle used to be seen working for men without visible assistance; but thenceforward the idhfir would do nothing. That question was put on the last Sunday in Lily, and ever since, that day for the first Sunday in August, it sometimes is called in Ireland, Dômhnach Chroim Duibh or Crom Dubh's Sunday.
(Old woman from Askeaton, 30 march 1879.)
When Saint Patrick was at the Rock O'Cashel, and the Friars were set in it, he and they were poor enough: and every day Saint Patrick's [p.176] serving man used to go out to gather firewood sufficient for the next day. While he was thus employed one Monday morning, up there comes to him a little redheaded man, who asked the servant what he was gathering. "The next day's firing," he said, "for Saint Patrick. What does he give you for that?" asked the little fellow. "Two-and fourpence a week," said the other. "Well," said the redheaded man, "I'll get you, in one day, as much firing as will last you the whole week and besides sparing your labour, I'll give you what your getting, you'll ask your master one question for me at the moment when he is raising the Host at Mass." The serving man said he would, and the stranger told him that the question was. Ce hiad na tri dream nàch bjeu feadh na Flaithis Dé go hrâth? (Who are the three sorts of people that never will see the kingdom of God). Well, the serving man found the week's bundle of firing lying ready for him in the morning at the stairfoot, and he resolved to do what he had undertaken to do. When Saint Patrick was on the altar on Sunday, and when the moment of the Elevation arrived, he suddenly heard the question put to him. Turning stern about towards the congregation he asked who was that unfortunate man that had put such a question as that to him. The man cried out that was he, his own servant; and Saint Patrick commanded him to come to him in the sacristy when the Mass was ended. When the servant did so, Saint Patrick told him that he would give him his answer, but he also told him that he might dig his grave that night. The three classes who have the least chance of Heaven are
Leanbh gan hàisteadh; agus
the Air Démons; a child unbaptized: and a priest's mistress. Saint Patrick commanded the man to go that night and dig a grave below his own depth, then to lay the spade and shovel over it crosswise, and to await Them; for they would come to get the answer of the question and he would be in deadly peril when they found what the answer was. On the Monday morning the man saw the little red fellow and the re of the Good People surrounding the spot where he was awaiting them. When they got their answer, they could not touch him, but fire flashed from their eyes and blazed from their mouths, and they tore the ground in their wrath. Since then the spade and shovel have always been crossed over graves in Ireland.
(Man from Oola, winter of 1875; old woman from Kilbehinny, 7 january 1876; old man from Kiidorrery, and others.)
According to one narrator the little red man was the Luprachdn (Clacharachdn, Cork). He said when he heard Saint Patrick's answer, "If that 's so, we'll do good and bad (Before that they had done nothing "but good"). When they saw the crossed grave, "It was well for you," said they, "and wise was the man that told you."
The answer was Céile Sagairt; leanbh gan bdisîeadh; agus Slûagh-Sidhe-Thùatha-Dé-Danann.
(Old man, D. L., from Broadford, Clare, but resident some thirty years in the Abbey, Limerick, where the editor heard this variation, 7 october, 1876.)
Saint Colum Cille had broken his golden chalice, and sent it by a servant to the mainland to have it repaired. The servant took it in his currach Cuisle* and on his way fell in with another currach, rowed by a stranger, who enquired his errand. When the man told it, the stranger blew his breath on the chalice, which got whole again; and bade him return it to Colum Cille and bring back word what he should say. Saint Colum said, Monûar! Monûar! fear na noibreacha sin, as go 'brdth nach b'fuil mahheamhnas lé fdghail aige (Alas, Alas, for the man of such Works, for ever there's no forgiveness to be got by him). On hearing the saint's reply the stranger exclaimed, "Woe is me, Manannân: mac Lir! for years I've helped the Catholics of Ireland, but I'll do it no more, till they're weak as water. I'll go to the grey waves in the Highlands of Scotland!"
(From the editor's brother, in Donegal, 1870.)
5. OTHER VARIATIONS (Cork, etc).
The serving man was pulling fraoch (heath) in a wood, to make a
nosna or faggot
of, when he found that the harder he pulled the firmer it was clinging to the
ground. At last he heard the voices of
people near him, telling him it was they that were holding the fraoch in the
earth. Their question was to be asked between the elevation of the Host and the
Chalice, of the priest at Mass, not of
Saint Patrick. Instead of Céile agairt, Leandn-sidhe-sagairt (spirit mistress,
succuba) occurs; and the Good People appear as Aingil Anùabkair (the Proud
Ofn Dubb, Black Crom. The Irish writers of the beginning of the century, who were so inaccurate in many things, were perhaps quite [p.178] right in identifying the name of this ancient Irish divinity with O'Reilly's cruim, "thunder" (O'Halloran, History of Ireland, Dublin 1804, I, 34; Reinsberg-Dùringsfeld mentions the Bohemian usai of throwing a buckgoat from the top of a tower, etc., with various superstitious ceremonies, on the 25 july, "ein Rest," as he think ce von einem ehemaligen Opferfest zu Ehren Perun's oder Donar's (Fest-Kalender ans Blimen, page 1862). Goats were thrown from height and burnt, in honour of the thunder-god. The work just cited also mentions Bohemian popular auguries drawn from the occurrence of thunder in August (p. 580).
Deainhna Aerig. One of the many popular names of the good people. Other names are Shiagh Si'dhe, Daine Maithe, Sidhfir, Sidheôgai'dhi na Uaisle, Aos 'An, Sliiagh na Marbh, Dream Aniiabhair, Ainj, Anûabhair; to which may be added Shiagh Cille, which, however the editor has not obtained, as he has obtained all the rest, from oral sources. Shiagh Cille (or the Host of the Churchyard) occurs one of the poems published by the Ossianic Society (Seilg-na-Féin\ os cionn Locha Deirg, Transs. VI. 156). As to Sidhe, Sidhfir, etc. see above. Daine Maithe is commonly englished "good people" but the words were originally used for "nobles," "the wellborn." Thus the Bodleian copy of the Annals of Innisfallen (Miscy. Ce' Socy. 1849, p. 13, note p.) records at the year 1234 the defeat; Trâigh-li by the Foreigners on the Gaidhels, wherein was slain Dia mait son of Cormac Liathanach, ocus daini maithi imdadi do Desm, main "and many (other) nobles of Deas Mûmha." Daine Maitl| would thus correspond to the names, "the Gentry," na Uaisle (the Noble, Highborn), applied to the same beings. Daine dna ("noble people") occurs in Leahhar-na-gCeart (ed. O'Donovan, p. 110). Tl; form Aos 'An (the Noble Folk) requires confirmation; for though it appears to be a genuine euphuistic popular name for the Sidhe^ aij corresponds to compounds like daine dna and the hving aos ûas. (nobility), the editor has only obtained it from one source, a woman from Kilbehinny, Limerick, and in the phrase Poc-Aos-'Ai referred to below. Dream Anûabhair, Aingil Anûabhair (V\htïQQ\^ Cork; Kildorrery, etc ) the excessively proud people, proud angel. The expression Slûagh na Marbh, Host of the Dead, has found its way into the Irish Catechism at present in use in the diocèse Tuara. There are early references to the Air Demons in Irish literature, for example, in the old rann cited by Keating:
Béchoill agas Danann (sorceresses of the Tûatha-Dé-Danann)
^ Feascor a ndraoidheacht fd dheoigh
iLe deamhnaibh odhra aieoir.
Béchoill and Danann
t Their magie withered away (?) at last
Through (by) pale démons of air.
l (Keating éd. Halliday, p. 208.)
The Demna Aeir are perhaps identical with the Geinte Glinne; and the last
the same with glîn, "the firmament, the sky" (O'Don. ad S O'Reilly). Ceinte
Glinne would thus be the people, tribes
of the sky. As in parts of Indo-China a person afflicted with epilepsy, or like
mysterious seizures, is said to be "smitten by wind" or "smitten by a spirit"
(Athenaeum, 19 april 1879, p. 507), in
Ireland it is said of a man struck with paralysis, Fuair se poc (He has had a
stroke); and the affection is known as Poc on Spéur (a stroke from the sky), Poc
Aeridheacht (stroke of the Air
[powers]), Poc 'Aos-Ain. We may compare with this last term the words of the
school master Good, in Camden, who, after describing the procedure of an Irish
wise woman, called in cases of
obscure illness, says, "then returneth she home unto the sicke party, to try
whether it be the disease called Esane, which they are of opinion is sent by the
Pairies," etc. (Hollandes Camden, 2d.
edit. 1636).* The common Irish adjective aeridhe, aereach, aoiridhe, aoigheardha
(Reliques of Irish Jacobite Poetry, éd. John Daly. Dublin, 1844, p. 6) has the
sensés: 1. Aery, of the air. 2. Relating
to the Air Spirits, haunted; etc. (of places). 3. Under the influence of the Air
Spirits, wild, flighty, etc. Through a parallel Highland form of this word, the
word eery has without doubt found its way
into English. Aeridhe in the 3rd. sensé is a term often applied to tailors; and
in Ireland, as in other countries, that class of craftsmen are, like smiths,
associated in legends with the Good People or
with supernatural beings. (Asbjrnsen, Norske Huldreeventyr, I, 11-14. Cf.
Campbell, West Highland Tales, II, 58.)
Laughter, and especially violent laughter, seems to have been held, like sneezing, to indicate the unseen presence, and the influence on the Company, of the Spirits. In such a notion is perhaps to be sought the origin of the formula often heard from women after laughter, Cuis gdire Dhia chùinn! (Cause of laughter from God to us); and is not this the
* Epilepsy is called by significant names in Ireland: the Blessed-Sickness (Westmeath = morbus sacer); Tinneas Mûr Eôin Bâisûdhe (Limerick), morbus magnus loannis Baptistae. It is cured by St. John's Night dew, caught in a vessel covered with a white cloth.
[p.180] meaning of the Scottish belief that men become violently hilarious, fey, just before a violent death? The unexplained word fey recals the older uses of the French fée: un cheval belliqueux pommelé, avant une petite teste, un regard fier et courageux, et outre les bonnes conditions qui estoient en luy, il estait fée (Les facétieuses nuits de Straparole, éd. Jannet. Paris, 1857, I, 173).
A little redheaded man. The Irish Luprachdin, Lugh-chorpdin, seem to have been originally fire-and mine-dwarfs. 1. Like the Incubones of Petronius they appear guarding a treasure, and with red caps, red jackets, or red hair. It will be noticed that in the present case one of them promises money, and collects fuel. They have sporân-nascillingce, the purse always containing a shilling. 2. Their subterranean mill, Muilleann Leprachdn, is shown near Tuam. 3. The Luprachân is often betrayed by the tacking noise of his hammer as he works as a brogue-maker. This hammering recals the Welsh Knockers, whose sound has led to the discovery of so many mines, and the German mine-spirit Hâmmerling.
Slûagh-Sidhe-Thûatha-Dé-Danann. A valuable variation, identifying the Sidhe with the Irish Plèbes Deorum.
This same story appears in Scotland, but in a form very different from the foregoing. The saint, his servant, and the priest disappear, and are replaced by an old Cromarty farmer, who, seated among his sheep on a Sabbath noon, reading his Bible, is addressed by a woman in green, "Old man, you are reading the book; tell me if there be any offer of salvation in it to us." "The gospel of this book," he made answer, "is addressed to the lost children of Adam, but to the creatures of the other race." His interlocutor disappears with a shriek. (Hugh Miller, Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1858.)
The strong attachment of the Irish to their ancient pagan traditions is curiously illustrated by legends of the present class, where an attempt is made to christianize divinities, demigods or heroes which the converted pagan was unwilling to give up altogether. Thus one of the most popular of modern legends is Bâisteadh Oisin, the Baptism of Oisin; Oisin becomes servant to Saint Patrick, as Crom Dubh hère; Cu-Chulaind himself is reckoned among the saved; and the sea-god Manannân becomes a friendly power. A legend in the book of Fermoy which professes to account for the name Domnach Crom-Dubh relates how the salvation of Crom-Dubh was revealed to Saint Cainnech.
SLIABH-NA-MBAN-FIONN THRI LASADH
There was a woman once, somewhere on the borders of the counties of Limerick and Cork, and she was the laziest thing that ever walked. She let all the wool go on gathering for seven years, because she was too idle to spin it, and with other work it was the same. One night however she bethought her that it was high time to do some spinning, and after her husband had gone to bed she sat down and worked away at her wheel till it grew very late. As she sat there, suddenly in walked an old woman, who sat down uninvited and began to spin furiously. She made incredibly swift progress with the work, and then the two began to card. While they were so employed in came another woman, who cried,
Cior' ollai'ge, ciof allai' ge, cior' ollai'ge Uhdîhaoi;
Cior' ollai'ge fada fi'ge, as fada liom athdthaoi;
Carding wool, carding wool, wool ye are a-carding;
Carding wool so long and white, and still ye are but tardy.
She too sat down, and another came in, till the house filled with people. There were old and young women, all ready to spin, and weavers ready for their own work. They all sat down, and spun, carded, and wove at a fearful rate, the woman of the house looking on, and not knowing what to make of it all. They shortly finished, and then they cried out for a striuch-chdrddil, or treat after their work. They would take neither excuse nor denial, and the woman had at last to consent, and she went out to bring some water for the purpose from the well. But when she reached it, she heard a warning voice sound in her ear. "Don't give it them," it said. "All that ever the seven generations of your people had would not give them food to night." ÇNd tahhair aca: a raibh ig d'seacht sinnsear nd tabharjadh se hiadh dôibh 'nocht je. "And what'll I do," asked the woman. "You'll go back," answered the voice, "and dash that can of water against your door, and cry out,
Td Sliabh-na-m Ban-Fionn
Agus sliabh as a cheann
Tri dhearg lasadh,
There's the White Women's Hill
And a higher hill still
In a blaze of red fire!
"They'll all rush out of your house, and do you hurry in. Put the broom across the door; throw out the feet-water; take the band off the spinning-wheel; put the tongs up against the fireplace; and turn; the feet-water bowl and every other vessel down on its face." Going back to the house, the woman, as she was bid, dashed the canful of water against the door, and cried out at the top of her voice
Agus sllabh as a cheann
Tri dhearg lasadh!
A terrible hubbub arose that instant within, and the crowd came rushing, to the door. "M' jhear as mo plmstldhe!" (My husband and my children) cried the women, "Mo bhean as mo phdistidhe!"(My wife and my children) shouted the men, each hurrying off to save his own. The woman of the house in the meantime got inside and shut the door upon them. She stuck the broom across it; poured out the feet-water, and turned the bowl face downwards on the ground; took the string off the spinning wheel; set the tongs standing up against the fire-place; washed the cock's feet, and put him on the cleithbhek. She had not well finished when approaching noise, threatening voices and quickening feet, told her that her unbidden guests were coming back. "Are you there, Feet-Water," cried they, as they beat savagely at the door. "No," the Feet-Water made answer, "I'm under yere feet." "Open the door, Wheel," they cried. "I can't," said the Wheel, "the string is ofij me." "Open the door, Tongs." "I can't," said the Tongs, "she has set me standing against the fireplace." The Cock and the Broom, had to give the same answer; and the crew outside at last made off, leaving their parting curse to the woman's adviser. She had thus all the wool they had spun and wove; but from that out she changed a card in the matter of laziness; did her work regularly; and went to bed in proper time.
(Old woman from Kilbehinny, 12 aprii, 1877.)
Suidhedn-na-Mnd Finge afire.
Suidhedn-na-Miui-Finge, as it is called in the dialect of the locality, "the
White Woman's Seat," is a heap of stones on the summit Killawillin Mountain,
between Ballyhooly and Mallow. The Bean
Finr used to be seen walking out of these stones. Two men one day saw her
* A wicker shelf or perch, fixed against the wall or behind the door.
[p.183] and tried to get near her, but she withdrew between two stones and got out of their sight.
Tradition speaks however of many White Women, Mnâ Fionna, and tells that they were out one night, and visited the house of a certain woman, as in the foregoing story, where they were only got out by her device of shouting that Suidheân-na-Mnd-Finge was afire. In the subsequent dialogue the Key could not open the door for the unearthly visitors because the mistress had put him in her pocket. The Feet-Water makes a like refusal because she had cast him three yards beyond the threshold. The Tongs is keeping the fireplace and dares not stir. The White Women depart, crying "Donas dûbhais air do chômhairleach." (Grief and ill luck on your counsellor.)
(Man of over eighty from Kildorrery, 1874.)
Cnocdn-Bhaile-na-Gaoithe and Ratha-Bhaile-na-Gaoithe are near
TobarBél-atha-na-nanam, near Oranmore. In a house here close by the raths lived
a woman called Brighid Ni Tuathail, Anglice
Bridget Toole. One Friday night she and her daughters were busy preparing
frieze, bréidin, for the Galway market. It was after twelve, and the wearied
girls were for going to bed. The mother,
however, said it was better to stay up and finish the work. They therefore went
on with it for some time, when all on a sudden two women came in, followed by
two more, and more after them,
and each called out Tûirle as cdrla domhsa (A wheel and a card for me). They set
to work, and soon a great quantity of bréidin was prepared.
[Then comes the incident of the woman going to the well for a can of water, whither she is followed by a friend of hers among the mnd sidhe, who instructs her what to do.] The woman and her daughters, when the deceived Good People returned to the door, heard the water-can shivered to pieces outside: and the house-dog was found next morning dead on the wall. The great roll of bréidin, the fruit of the strange women's labour, was taken up high into the air, and let down again.
Some time after, Brighid Ni Tuathail went to the market of Galway to sell her frieze. A man she had never seen before came up to her and saluted her by her name. "Marach dhuit, Brighid Ni Tuathail; an é bréi- din Bhaiii-na-Gaoithe." (Good morrow to you, Bn'ghid Ni' Tuathail; is that Baile-na-Gaoithe frieze). Surprised to be called by her name by a man she never saw, and still more to hear him ask after the frieze made [p.184] at her house under such strange circumstances, she made him no answer; for she had no desire to be talking about the affair. Soon after, however, another man came up, and he too asked, An é bréidln Bhaili-na-Gaoithe? A third came, who asked, "How much do you charge for it?" "Two thirteens (the old money) a bandle," she answered. The man told her not to sell it, but to take it home, and while she kept it she would have luck. She obeyed his advice; and his words turned out quite true. Every thing prospered with them so long as they had the roll of frieze.
(Man at Oranmore, 1875.)
Localized at a hillock with this graceful name near Comar old castle, near Corrofm. Tôirne 's cdrla damhsa! each woman cried; and when ail the flax was spun they wanted more. The spinner's staying up late is supposed to have interfered with the diversions of the sidhe women.
(Young man at Tuam, 1875.)
5. CORK, KERRY.
It happened to a woman who lived at the foot of the famed Lunatics' Valley, Gleann-na-nGealî, in Kerry. The words were Td Sliabh-na-mBan-Fionn tri theinne, at which the spinners rushed out crying Af' jhear as mo Mann yc. (My husband and my children, etc.). The woman arranges the articles in the house in the way indicated in the other versions, with the following differences. The hair which people cut off is, in Munster at least, stowed away under the door lintels etc.; for if birds should get at and carry it away you would suffer from headache. Some say you will come back to look for it at the Last Day. This hair the woman was now to pull out and throw behind the fire. The bellows is also introduced into the story. The spinning women call upon the tongs, the bellows, the broom, etc., but each object replies Td mé sochair (I am easy).*
(Young man from Gianworth, now in America, 20 march, 1879.)
Three printed Irish variations of this story are known to the editor.
1. There is a hill so named in Kerry, besides the well-known mountain near Clonmel.
2. This mention of the tongs, wheel, broom, feet-water, recals a passage in the Institutes of Manu which may help us to connect the story with the East: "A house keeper has five places of slaughter [or where small living creatures may be slain]; his kitchen hearth, his grindstone, his broom, his pestle and mortar, his water pot, etc." (Institute of Hindu Law, ed. Sir W. Jones. Calcutta, 1796, p. 60.)
1. "Black Stairs on Fire," an imperfect and distorted Wexford version. Kennedy,
Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts (London, 1866). 2. "Crohan Hill's on
fire!" Folk-Lore of the County Donegal (Cornhill Magazine, February, 1877). 3. A version from Tipperary, more valuable
than any of the others, in the Kilkenny Archaeological Society's Journal.
The tradition has travelled over to Argyll and adjacent parts of the West of Scotland. "Dunvuilg ra theinne." Campbell, West Highland Tales (Edinburgh, 1860, II, 52-53).
The White Women in this story are apparently identical with the Dominae Albae of Gulielmus Alvernus, and their queen. Dame Habonde, Domina Abundia, may be one and the same personage with the Irish Anu, and with the Bean Finn mentioned above. It will be observed that in two cases the legend is associated with the White Woman or Women, and in a third with the Lunatics' Valley. In this last version there is an allusion to the cutting of hair, which superstition places, with many other things, under the rule of the Moon. In the Tipperary variation the women are horned. Taking these various points into account, it does not seem rash to see in these White Women, Nymphae Albae, Dominae Nocturnae, the personified moonbeams; and in their queen (who in mediaeval legends was called Habonde, Herodias, and Diana) the Moon.
GEROID lARLA AND AINE N' CHLIAR.
I. LOCH GUIRR.
This lake, all Munster knows, is enchanted; but the spell passes off it once in every seven years. The lake then, to whoever has the luck to behold it, appears dry; and the Tree may be partly seen at the bottom of it, covered with a Green Cloth. A certain bold fellow was at the spot one day at the very instant when the spell broke, and he rode his horse towards the tree and snatched away the Brat 'Uaine that covered it. As he turned his horse, and fled for his life, the Woman who sat on the watch, knitting under the cloth, at the foot of the tree, cried out,
Chûghat, chùghat, a bhûaine bhalbh!
Marcach à Thir na mBan Marbh
A' fûadach an bhruit liaine dhom bhathas.
1. The reader may be reminded of her ancient connexion with mountains.
Montium cuslos nemorumque, virgo,
Diva trifomis. (Hor. Carm. III, 22.)
Loch Gair, IV. Magg.
Awake, awake, thou silent tide!
From the Dead Women's Land a horseman rides,
From my head the green cloth snatching.
At the words the waters rose; and so fiercely did they pursue him that as he gained the edge of the lake one half of his steed was swept away, and with it the Brat 'Uaine, which he was drawing after him. Had that been taken, the enchantment was ended for ever.
(Old woman from Askeaton, 24 april, 1879.)
2. TADHG A BHI IM LORGSA.
There is another old tradition about this lake. Divided from it only by the road is the ancient burial-ground of Grange. It used to be found every morning that the graves here were all bored with holes, and as it was thought that possibly this was the work of dogs, a neighbouring gentleman directed two of his men to go to the place provided with guns, and watch during the night. To the amazement of these men they saw a great eel rise from the lake, and coming ashore, roll on and on over the ground till she had worked herself into the church-yard. Then she began to bury her snout in the soil over a grave, and was fast making her way into it, to feed on the dead people, when the men fired and hit her. When they came up they found her lying motionless, and to all seeming dead; and in this state they carried her to their master's place, and threw her down in a corner of the kitchen, where she lay all the next day. Now on the night following the mournful cries of another eel were heard about the lake, and some of the men who had heard them came into the Colonel's kitchen, and there began to tell what they had heard. "Tadhg a bhi im lorgsa!" said the eel in the corner, raising herself up, "Tadhg that was looking for me." "Im thig go dtf Thaidhg, in ainm an Diabhail," cried one of the astonished Company, "Go to Tadhg, in the name of the Devil;" and the creature glided through the door, rolled herself towards the lake, and there disappeared.
(Old man [M. Whelan] from Inchinlaurence. 26 march, 1877. The narrator, who is since deceased, had heard the tale from old people.)
This lake is however most celebrated in legend as the dwelling of Gerdid 'larla.
Some couple of Irish miles from Loch Guirr, at the foot of the ancient hill of Cnoc-'Aine, and close by the brink of the little river Camôg, [p.187] stands the square tower of an old castle; and at no great distance off is another spot, also by the bank of the river, called by the country people the Bonn, or foundation, which is the site of another castle. In these two castles, according to the tradition of the place, lived long ago a famous Earl of Desmond, and his more famous enchanted son, Gerôid 'larla, Earl Gerald. They say that the Earl of Desmond led very much the life of a libertine, and that walking one morning along the river's edge he saw a beautiful woman seated by the water, combing out her long hair after bathing. Her cloak was laid behind her on the grass, and knowing that if he had but possession of this he would have her in his power, the Earl advanced noiselessly from behind, and seized it before its owner was aware of his approach.
The beautiful woman was 'Aine-n'-Chli'ar herself; and she told the Earl that he never could have had his will with her had he not seized her cloak. She told him further that she would bear him a son, whom he was to bring up with all possible care, like any other gentleman, sparing no cost on his education. One caution however she gave her lover: he was not to show surprise at anything, how strange soever, his son should do. When the usual time of nature was accomplished 'Aine brought one day to the Earl his infant son; and the father's pride was great in him, then and after, as he grew up from year to year to manhood. Of these years nothing specially strange is handed down. The young earl led just such a life as any other young lord of his day; and he excelled in the accomplishments of his age and rank. But one memorable evening it happened that there was a gathering of great ladies and gentlemen at the castle of the Earl of Desmond. There was dancing, and of all the ladies none could vie with a certain one among the guests. The grace and the endurance of this young woman were however beaten, every one said, by those of the young Earl Gerald himself. When the dance was ended, this lady engaged him in another contest, for while ail were seated at the supper-table she suddenly arose, and at one leap cleared guests, table, dishes and all, and then leaped back again. The old Earl of Desmond turned to his son and said, "Can you do anything like that?" "No," said Gerôid. "Well, stand up and try. Don't let yourself be beaten by a woman." Thus commanded, Gerôid 'larla rose to his feet, and making a spring from where he stood, leaped right into a bottle, and then leaped out again. There was great admiration at this feat; and with the rest the Earl of Desmond looked in the greatest astonishment at his son, saying he never thought he had such power. "Were you not warned," said the young Earl, "never to show won- [p.188] der at anything I might do? Now you have forced me to leave you." He turned about at the words, and walked from the hall, his father and others following him. He walked out on the brink of the Camg, which almost washes the base of the castle, and they saw him step from the bank on the water. Up to that instant he had the shape of an ordinary man, but when he touched the water he was transformed into a goose, and in that form away he swam before their eyes. Where he went to was an island in Loch Guirr, and from this he has his name of Gé-an-Oiledin, the Goose of the Island. From this too comes the imprecation which many yet use in that cursing county, but few understand, "Imheacht-Gédh-an Oileàin ort!" "That you may go like the Goose of the Island."
Though he no longer dwelt in the castle at Knockainy after this, it is said that Gerôid used to sometimes visit his father; that when the old; lord was drawing near his end he made his will in favour of 'Aine and his strange child; and that both mother and son came to the castle the night before his death.
After the death of the Earl o' Desmond, 'Aine long continued to dwell on Cnoc-'Aineas indeed she dwells in it yet. But in those days it was not such a rich and fertile pièce of land as much of its surface, where clear of rock, is now. Gerdid came one day to visit his mother, and looking round on the bare soil he said, Is fad' cathadh corna inso, a h' Aine (It is long since barley was winnowed here, 'Aine). Next morning when he looked at the hill it was all planted with pease, set by his mother during the night.
Another time, coming from Loch Guirr on a like visit, it would seem that, though he was of the water himself, he was yet in danger of his life at the ford of Cnoc-'Aine. "beag ndr hddhag mé san dth-san thair," he said, "I was all but drowned in yon ford to the east." The day following, when he returned to the ford, behold, 'Aine had laid down the casdn, the set of massive stepping-stones by the aid of which people now cross the swollen water in safety. But some old people say that it was not 'Aine, but another enchanted woman, the Cailleach Bhiiirach, that laid these stones.
* The first word means a hooded woman. Bïàrach (al. Bérach, Biorach) probably means "horned." The Cailleach Bhérach seems, like 'Anu, to be the Moon. Like the Beat! Fhinn, she has given her name to mountains; and the fine well at Oranmore, which runs wine every seventh year, is called from her, Tobar-na-Caill'ighe Béaraighe. Atâ tiobrad ag an Easga, "There is a well at the Moon," says Find in the Fcis-Tighe Chonâin (p. 174). She appears in Cantire tradition, wherein she repairs every seventh year to a certain medicinal well to renew her youth [The White Wife etc., by Cuthbert [p.189] 'Aine is sometimes to be seen, half her body above the waters, on the bosom of Loch Guirr, combing her hair, as the Earl of Desmond beheld her by the bank of the Camg. The commoner account is that she dwells within the hill which bears her name, and on which she has often been seen. Every Saint John's Night the men used to gather on the hill from all quarters. They where formed in ranks by an old man called Quinlan, whose family yet (1876) live on the hill; and cliars, bunches, that is, of straw and hay tied upon poles, and lit, were carried in procession round the hill and the little moat on the summit, Mullach-Crocdin-Idmh-lé-leab'-an-Triùir (the hillock-top near the grave of the three). Afterwards people ran through the cultivated fields, and among the cattle, waving thèse cliars, which brought luck to crops and beasts for the following year, There was this about the night of the clîars, that if you came, say, from some neighbouring village to join in the sport it was necessary that on getting on the hill you should look at the moon, and mark what her position was in regard to the place to which you had to return: otherwise you would lose your way when the cliars were cut, and you had to get back home in the darkness. One Saint John's Night it happened that one of the neighbours lay dead, and on this account the usual cliars were not lit. Not lit, I should say, by the hands of living men; for that night such a procession of cliars marched round Cnoc-'Aine as never was seen before, and 'Aine herself was seen in the front, directing and ordering every thing. On another Saint John's Night a number of girls had staid late on the hill, watching the cliars and joining in the games. Suddenly 'Aine appeared among them, "thanked them for the honour they had done her," but said that now she wished them to go home, as they wanted the hill to themselves. She let them understand whom she meant by "they," for calling some of the girls she made them look through a ring, when behold, the hill appeared
Bede. London, 1865. P. 124). She is a wonderful reaper-carries, that is, the moonsickle. She places stepping-stones etc. in the waters; and the floods, it is said, can never rise above them,a character which recals certain attributes of Diana:
Hanc tibi, marmoreo caesam de monte, Diana,
Regina undaruni, nympha decus nemorum, etc.
(Given as from Gruter by Tollius in his curious Fortuiata, Amstelaedami, 1687, p. 77.)
Montium domina ....,
(Catulli V. 501)
jhe is said in the Lough Cooter neighbourhood, Clare, to have been, like lo and
Bôinn, 1 cow.
The identification of 'Anu, at least, with the moon is not new. See the papers of Nicholas Kearney (Trans. Kilk. Arch. Soc. 1852. Trans. Oss. Soc. 1854) where the original lore is as curious as the reasoning is loose.
[p.190] crowded with people before invisible. Another time she came one nigh into the house of some people whose friends are yet living at one end of the hill, and brought them a sheep. So long as the family kept the animal, luck remained with them, and when they parted with it, he abandoned them.
'Aine is spoken of as "the best-hearted woman that ever lived" and the oldest familles about Knockainy are proud to claim descent from her. These Sliochî-'Aine (descendants of 'Aine) include the O'Briens Dillanes, Creeds, Laffins, Deas. We must add Fitzgeralds, what few remain thereabouts.
The meadow-sweet, or queen-of-the-meadow, is thought to be 'Aine's plant, and to owe to her its fragrant odour.
Of her son's appearances at Loch Guirr there are many legends. According to one, which differs from the foregoing account, a grand castle stood where now roll the waters of the lake, and in it live Gerôid 'larla and his wife. She bore him three children, each of which was taken from her at its birth. He warned her not to lament for the loss; but when the third infant was taken from her she could not restrain her tears. When the enchanted Earl saw her weeping he drew out his handkerchief and placed it over her eyes. That instant the water rose over the castle and all in it, and Gerôid showed his wife how the tears shed from her eyes had destroyed one of the eyes of her child. But placing his handkerchief to the infant's eye, it became as sound as before. On a clear day, as you go over the lake in a boat, you can see the towers and windows of the castle far down in the water.
A man was once going to the fair of Hospital, on the ninth of July with a black horse which he intended to sell. Near Loch Guirr he met gentleman that he had never seen before, who asked him what he would take for that beast. The man said such and such a price, and the stranger told him he would give him that money, and that he need not take the trouble of going on to the fair. The purchaser brought the country man into some large house near, which also was entirely new as strange to him, and there he showed him in the stable five other horses all grey. The newly-bought black horse was put in with them, so
1. So Bryan Merriman calls Aoibhill of Craigliath, Cro'idhe gan aon lochd.
2. Spiraea ulmaria.One of its Irish names is Airgiod-lûachra. The Englishman notwithstanding the opinion of Dr. Prior (Popular Names of British Plants, s. v.), see to be nothing but "mtadow-sweat." Cf. the Welsh name of the same plant, Chv Arthur = sudor Arturi (Welsh Botanology, by Hugh Davies, London, 1813, p. 180), the Irish name of the St. John's Wort. Allas Mhuire (sudor Mariae); W. Chwys M (Buttercups). Meadow-sweet is called in Limerick maid-sweet.
[p.191] that made six. Shortly after the man prepared to return home, and asked the gentleman for the money. The buyer however now offered him a smaller sum, pretending to believe that the bargain was for that amount. the countryman stood out for the price agreed on; the other still maintained that he agreed for less. At last he told the man to go to the stable and take his horse back; he would have nothing more to say to him. The vendor accordingly went to the stable, but what was his bewilderment to now find six grey horses there, out of which he could never choose his own. Tears came into the poor man's eyes, and he bitterly reproached the owner of the grey horses. That personage had only wanted to lave a laugh at him from the beginning, and he at last brought out the man's horse, in its proper colour, and sent him home, glad to get his property safe out of that bedevilled spot, and vowing to keep out of Geroid 'larla's way for the future.
In another story, omitted here for brevity's sake, a countryman is grown three coïts beneath the lake, and told that when those coïts have grown to horses and their gold shoes are worn out, Gerôid 'larla shall come back to head the Irish.
As to the manner of Geroid's disappearance from the earth, one story which must also be here omitted relates that some men of the Clerys, whose enmity he had incurred, lay in wait for him near Loch Guirr, that they saw his horse, which he used to ride furiously, gallop swiftly by them, but the Earl was not to be seen on his back, and has never been seen since.
Others relate that the sudden disappearance of the Earl was due to he same woman knitting who is mentioned above. She could have saved him when he called on her, but she said "Ni tiucfad an ao'chor go gcnirfead an biredn' Idr a chûil. I'll not come at any rate till I put the needle in the back of the stocking as knitters do when laying aside their work. Lâr a' chûil, middle of the back of the stocking). That much delay ruined him, and the enchantment came on him. Others again say he was taken up into the clouds of heaven; and here is a rann to that effect remembered by old people, which names the three enchanted heroes of Munster:
Donn Firinne; as Ribedrd a Chairn;
As Gerôid 'larla a chuaig i nealthaibh.
Donn Firinne; and Robert of the Mound;
And Gerald the Earl that evanished in the clouds.
I. So Virgilius, another magician, disappeared at last in a storm.
1. From people at Knockainy and its neighbourhood, october, 1876.
2. Episode of Geroid and his wife from old woman from Kilfmnar 15 september, 1876.
3. Horses épisode from old man from Inchinlaurence 26 march, 1876.
4. Rann from old man from Kildorrery near 90 years of age.
1. "Loch Guirr." This legend is obviously related to Mr.
West Highland Tales, II, 42-45), where the rhym is A bhean bhalbha bhean bhalbh
A thàinig oirnn a tir nan sealg;
Fhir a tha'n uachdar a' bhruth etc.
Bûaine (which is probably a corruption) is explained to mean the tic the waters of the lake. "Dead Women" probably means mortal women like marhu dutaini, "shortlived mortals," in the legend of Condla C; (LU. 120). The Tree in the lake, at whose base a Woman sits knitting seems to correspond to the Eastern world and fire-orsoma-tree, springing out of a lake, the identification of which with the ash Yggdrasil one of the many striking features of Kuhn's remarkable book. (Herabkunft des Feuers und des Gttertranks, pp. 124-153). The Ir woman knitting, who is clearly connected in some way with Geroi fate, seems to answer to the Norse three Fates, Past, Present, Future, (beings who appear as women spinning) whose office it is water from the well of the Past to bedew the earth and keep it green and fresh.1
The tree is conceived as subterranean (as the roots of Yggdra strike down to the lower world); and the Green Cloth above is perhaps the earth's vegetation. The editor hopes to take an early occasion to treat the subject more at length, but he will here briefly indicate one or two of his conclusions. j
a. The notion of a world-tree has left other ancient traces in tradition. As in the Veda two birds sit on the top of the imperishable açvattha, one eating its figs and the other looking on (apud Kuhn, cit. 127) so in the Dd Brôn Flatha Nime (the Two Sorrows of the Kingdom of Heaven, LU. 17) Elias appears beneath the Tree of Life.
I, Balbh is a poetical epithet sometimes found applied to the Boyne (Bôinn); and its earliest form this tale was perhaps associated with that legendary well overshadowecy nine hazels, whence the Boyne issued, and into which fell the red nuts of knowledge apparently another analogue of the world fire- and soma-tree and the waters at its r. (Cf. Curry, M. and C. 11, 141-144; Hardy, Legends and Theories of the Buddha, London, 1866, pp. 92, 93, 96; and vid. infra.)
[p.192] paradise, and a Gospel in his hand, for preaching to the birds upon the free, which are meanwhile eating its berries. "Large berries now those: sweeter than all honey, and more intoxicating than all wine."
b. This same tree is named by the glossarist on the Féiire Oenguso at he 20 april. "A great tree that was in the Eastern World, and the heathens used to worship it, so that the Christians fasted against the saints of all Europe that the tree might fall, et statim cedidit" (51c) Leabhar Breac, facs. 86).
c. The legend of a Heaven-Tree is often transferred to an earthly locality. An instance of this was the ever green tree of unknown kind which stood at a well before the temple at Upsala. The trees (often ashes) over rish holy wells had apparently a like pagan origin and significance. The belief about Saint Brigit's Oak at Kildare,
I that Oak of Saint Bride, which nor Devil nor Dane,
Nor Saxon nor Dutchman could rend from her fane,
recals Yggdrasill, and Virgil's oak
quae quantum vertice ad auras
Aetherias, tantum radice in Tartara tendit. (Georg. II, 291.)
As the lizard menaces the Iranian haoma, in the lake Vouru Kasha, near the tree
bearing every kind of seed, and as serpents guard Yggdrasill's roots, a lizard
appears at the foot of the oak, the crest
of the Ui Duinn, who claim Saint Brigit as their kinswoman.
, à. In this conception is to be sought the key to the meaning of the obscure name Beltene (May). The theory that the first element is the name of an old solar- or fire-god has many adherents yet, not by any means confined to the class of the superficial and half-educated. As hinted above, the editor has here only space to state conclusions, and will leave detailed inquiry for another occasion. The following however would seem to be the true explanation.
First, the Northern antiquaries seem to have been quite accurate in seeing a representative of the world-tree in the May-tree, or May-pole, and the Christmas tree. It will be noticed that the Félire reference occurs in the period of the great spring solar celebration. The usage yet survives n Galway, Donegal, Westmeath and elsewhere of planting a May-Tree or May-Bush (Crann-Bealtaine, Dos-Bealtaine) on the dunghill or before the farmhouse door, and eventually throwing it into the bonefire. The name of the festival, La Beltene, was the same as La Bile-tenidh (or Bele-tenidh), May of the Fire-Tree, and came from the bonefire and May-tree usage.*
1. Text printed, Beitrage zur Vergleichenden Sprachforschung, 1871, pp. 52-53.
2. Scott calls the Highland May-fires the Beltane-Tree (Border Minstrelsy).
O'Donovan had the explanation of Bealtaine before his eyes; for the Four
Masters, at the age of the World 3505 record the mythic battle 1 Bile-Tineadh,
and in a note that deservedly honoured
Celtic scholar correctly translates Bile-Tineadh "the ancient Tree of the Pire,"
are attempts to localize the battle in Meath. The battle was perhaps nothing but
the fight at May between Summer
and Winter which is represented by a mock battle on Celtic ground on May Day
(Train, Histy. of the Isle of Man, 1845. II. 118. Waldron, Description, 154). Bêle, belle, Ar\§\\o "bellow-tree," is a
parallel form to bile, as is noted by O'Donovan who mentions the connexion of
such a sacred tree in the popular mind with fire. "They believe that the house
in which any part of xx should be
burnt would soon meet the same fate." (O'D. ad O'Reil. V. Bile.) With Bile-tenidh
cf. the similar compound Craf-tineCrad teinidh, which occurs as an ancient
It is unnecessary to remind Irish scholars of the numerous references to sacred trees which occur in the ancient literature. One however may be cited from the Leabhar Breac, which would go to show that each church had its treeoften, no doubt, over a well ixx is a Mucrain an iarthar Connacht ata Daire Echdroma, ocus atcither bile na cille de, muig, ocus in tan tiagar for a hiarrad isin doire ni fagubar hi; ocus atcluii ter guth in chluig ocus in sailmchedul indsin ocus ni fagubar in chell fessin... "It is in Mucraime in the western part of Connacht that Daire Ect droma is; and the tree of the church is seen from the open country, and when one goes to look for it in the oak-wood it is not found; air the sound is heard there of the bell and of the psalm chanting and the church itself is not found."
(Note on the Fclire, L. B. facs. 87.)
2. Tadhg a bhi im lorgsa. These words are proverbial in the south of Ireland.
Some interesting variations (from Galway, etc.) are omitted. The notion of evil
creatures feeding on the dead occurs in
Eastern stories (Arabian Tales, from the French into English by R. Héron.
Edinburgh. 1792. Vol. I. pp. 240-241).
3. 'Aine n' Chliar. 'Aine, 'Anu is an Irish divinity in whom lunar characteristics are easily recognisable. She is understood to be surname
I . And sometimes "bell-tree," a name which seems to have given birth to later legends. Cf. the tree in the arms of Glasgow, with a bell hanging from its bough, a bird on its top, and a salmon at its base. This salmon (notwithstanding the Fish and Ring story) seems to answer to the Irish salmon of knowledge (Eô Fesa) at the foot of the hazels in the well mentioned above. (P. 192 n.)
[p.195] n' Chliar from the wisps lit in her honour; but cli'ar (which seems unknown to dictionaries) is perhaps corrupted from Cliach, the ancient name of the territory in which Cnoc-'Aine is situated. The reader will nave noticed the significant belief about the necessity for observing the Tioon when ascending the hill on Saint John's Night. 'Aine hère appears as the mermaid love of the Earl of Desmond, and as the ancestress of certain families, like the Mélusine of French tradition. Her association with the particular hill in question may possibly be due to its shape, for it seems to form a rough crescent. One of its old names was Carrdn earaidhe (Trans. Oss. Socy. 1857. P. 114, note 4. cf. carrdn, a sickle). O'Donovan however makes "Carn Fearadaigh" a different hill ad OR. s. V.).
Ribedrd a' Chairn is one of the Barrys, enchanted in Carn-Tighernaigh near Fermoy. He is the subject of a legend admirably told by Croker. Passing to the Geroid 'larla legend, its chief elements seem to be [a] his birth from a waterwoman, who has been allied to a mortal lover; [b] the alliance of Geroid, himself a being of the waters, with a mortal wife [c] the young earl's leap into and out of a bottle; [d] his disappearance as a goose;* [e] his disappearance from his horse's back, or into the clouds; [f] the horses legend; [g] his present enchantment among the Sidhfir, whence he is to return. We can only select the more noteworthy of these features for remark here. The tradition of Gerôid's virgin recals classical legends of the birth of heroes on the banks of rivers:
ille Aeneas quem Dardanio Anchisae
Aima Venus Phrygii genuit Simoentis ad undam (Aeneid. 1, 617-618), where the reader may be referred to Heyne's note.
Of the many stories of alliances between waterwomen and Christian men we may
select a typical one from Vincent of Beauvais. The original Latin text is not at
hand, and the tale may be
presented in the French of De Lancre [Tableau de l'inconstance des mauuais anges
et demons. A Paris, mdcxiii]. "Le roy Roger régnant en Sicile, un jeune comme
fort bon nageur se baignant de
nuict aux rais de la Lune avec plusieurs autres; voyant ce luy sembloit
quelqu'un qui se noyoit, croyât ne ce fust de ses compagnons il court après pour
le sauuer: et comme cust bien avant plongé
le bras dans l'eau pour le secourir, il troune ne c'est une femme: laquelle
avant empoignée il tire hors par les heueux: et ne pouvant sur l'heure en tirer
aucune parole, il la mené
* A goose is offered in sacrifice to the Russian water spirit (Ralston, R. Popular Songs, 129).
[p.196] en son logis, et la trouuant de très-belle forme, il s'en amouracha si for qu'il l'espousa publiquement, et en eut un bel enfant. De là à quelque temps un sien compagne et luy estant en propos, comme il luy eus asseuré que c'estoit un phantasme, il s'en va à elle, et désirant rompn son silence, il luy dict fort aigrement, Que si elle ne vouloit reueler soi origine et extraction, qu'il tueroit leur enfant deuât elle. A quoy elli respondit: Ha misérable, tu me prives de ta présence me contraignan de parler, car si tu m'eusses permis de garder tousjours le silence qu m'estoit commandé, i'eusse demeuré avec toy à tout jamais, au lieu qui maintenant tu me perds et ne me verras plus. Ce qu'ayant dict, soudan elle disparut et s'esuanoùit: et l'enfant deuenu grand, et aimant à nage comme son père, s'estant faict considérer à plusieurs qui le voyoiêt nage au mesme endroict que sa mère fut trouvee, cette mesme femme phantastique parut, qui le rauit deuanttout le mode, et ne se vit jamais plus; Geroid betrays his supernatural origin by his power of leaping into a bottle, as in a tale of Indian origin the démon who assumes the forn of the minister's son diminishes his size and enters a jug, a feat impossible to the real son. (Jùlg, History of Ardshi-Bordshi, Khan apud De Gubernatis, Zoological Mythology, I, 136; Sagas from the Far East, 260).
The legend of Geroid 'larla's trick upon the countryman is old, as is shown by a letter written from Limerick in august, 1640, by a Mr Holme to the Archbishop of Armagh, who was at Oxford, in which it is related as fact. Castleconnell was then believed to be haunted by "the enchanted Earl of Desmond" and his people (O'Donovan in Irish Penny Magazine, 1841, p. 186). The story is also associated with a moat near Letterkenny, Donegal, called Marcach's Stable, and was no doubt told of Marcach (a grandson of Manannân mac Lir) when Desmom and Kildare were still under the rule of chiefs of Irish race.2
The historical personage around whom these traditions have gathered is Garrett, fourth Earl of Desmond, called "the Poet" and "the Magician." Irish writers praise him for his knowledge of the native learning, and his bounty to its professors; and he is the "Gerroyd erle" to whom were attributed some of the poems in The Dean of Lismore's Book (Edinburgh, 1862, pp. xci, xciv, xcvi). The Four Masters and other Irish writers record his death in the ordinary course of nature, after the victory of penance, in 1598 or 1399. A lear-
1. There is also a joke about conjurers in England pretending to jump into a quart pot.
2. Bruodar, who wrote in the seventeenth century, alludes to Gerôid 'larla "triaiti na ccaoil-each, Lord of the slender steeds."
[p.197] ned writer however in the Kerry Magazine for 1855, who would seem to have had access to family papers, agrees better with popular tradition in stating that Earl Gerald "disappeared mysteriously from his camp or castle" of the Island in Kerry in 1597 (p. 125).
There appears to be little doubt that the "Island" referred to in the name Gé-an-Oileâin is the Castle of the Island, and that the legend of the disappearance of Gerôid 'larla has been transferred from Kerry to the lake in the neighbouring county, where, according to O'Donovan (ad IVMM. 1398) Earl Garrett had a castle. It is plainly a mistake to say, in the tradition as presented above, that Gerôid "used to sometimes visit his father" after his transformation, for Imîheacht Gédh-an-Oiledin is emphatically Imtheacht gan casadh go hrdthto go and never come back. There is probably some connexion in tradition of the carrying off or disappearance of Gerôidwho came from the waters and went back to themwith the fact that the son of the historical earl was also drowned in the Suir (IVMM. 1 398. 1 399, Daly).
The legend or myth of the transformation of Garrett of Desmond, Gerôid 'larla, and his return to the watery realm of his people, may have found its way into Ireland from the continent of Europe, whence his family originally came. For in the first form of the story Garrett, Gerôit, Gerald, must have been united to an ordinary woman, obliged to leave her through her disregard of a certain prohibition, and then carried away on the waters in the shape of a goose. (In some printed legends he takes the form of a huge eel.) This is in substance the story of the good Gerhard Schwan, or Gerhard Gans, Duke of Swabia, Charlemagne's brother-in-law, and that of the Swan-Knight, Helias, Lohengrin.
In most of these versions of the legend the goose is replaced by a swan, though both "Gérard Swan" and "Gérard Goose" occur. On the Lower Rhine Gerhard becomes Genêt (Simrock, Mythol. 89). There is a certain significance in the connexion of the Swan-Knight with Swabia, since genealogists have amused themselves by tracing the descent of the Fitzgeralds, to whom the Gé-an-Oileâin belonged, the Carews, etc. to the ancient lords of that country. One would look for some traces of the story of 'Aine and Gerôid in heraldry; as in the arms of the houses of Guelderland, Cleves and Rheineck the swan appears, and the mermaid is found in numerous other cases. Nothing of the sort seems to be extant in the case of the Irish family; but the editor has found traces of a story of one of its members, a noted duellist, who is tricked into taking off his shoes and stockings in a coffee-house to prove that the Fitzgeralds are not web-footed. Such a story would be evidence, and the present writer [p.198] would be grateful for a reference to it. There is a term glégeal constantly associated with the name at present, ("Gearaltach glégeal") which as it stands means "white", "bright", "fair", but which one is tempted to regard as a corruption of some older compound. Can it have contained the element gé (a goose)?
The legend of a spellbound chief and his enchanted band awaiting the hour of their deliverance to sally forth to battle is as well-known in Ireland as elsewhere. Now told of one of the Mac Mathgamhnas, now of an O'Donchadha; in Cork, of Barry of Carn Tighernaigh, in Galway, of Cailpin Galchobhair; its most common form makes the chief Gerôid 'larla, generally an Earl of Desmond, occasionally an Earl of Kildare. The locality is, as we have, seen Loch Guirr, or Mulahether fort, or Kilkea Castle, or the rath of Mullaghmast. In Innishowen Gerôid 'larla has even taken the place of ONéill or Marcach. MM. Kuhn and Schwartz are without doubt right in understanding the battle mentioned in such stories as the war between the Aesir at the end of the world. "Die grosse Schlacht, welche einst stattfinden wird, ist der beim Weltunt ergang eintretende Kampf, zu welchem Heimdallr die Gtter mit seinen Giallarhorn zusammenrufen wird" (Norddeutsche Sagen, Leipzig, 1848, p. 496). An important form of the Irish legend places the enchantment in Mullaghmast (Kennedy, Legendary Fictions, 172-174), which was famous in popular tradition in Camden's time as the future scène of the final war: As for the Giants dance as also of that most "bloody battell which shall be one day betweene the English and the Irish at MoUeaghmast, I willingly leave unto the credulous lovers of fabulous antiquity, and the vaine beleevers of prophesies. For my purpose is not to give fond tales the telling." Holland's Camden. 2d edit. 1656, p. 88). Mythologists have again been apparently right in referring the German legends to Odin; and Simrock sees in Gerhard, Gerret etc. one of the many names of that divinity. Nor is evidence wholly wanting of the existence of traditions making Gerhard or Gerold of SwabiaGerhard Goose or Gerhard Swanthe hero who, when the spell is broken, shall return to the upper world. We cannot be far wrong in the conjecture that among the enchanted warriors at the old castle of
1. It should be added that two versions of the Knight of the Swan story have been recently (October, 1879) found by the editor in Westmeath. One is closely allied to the Flemish popular tale Der Ritter mit dem Schwan (D. Sagg. 540). The other seems to be more Celtic; and its scene is partly laid in Tir-na-h'Oige, the Land of Youth. Ail three stories appear to be related to the ancient tale Oîdeadh Chloinne Lir, the Tragic End of the Children of Ler.
2. A modern ballad connects the tradition with Lord Edward Fitzgerald.
[p.199] Gerolds-eck was originally that Duke Gerold who fought on his knee before Charlemagne at Roncesvalles, and whose valour was believed to have won for the Swabians the right to take their place in the van of battle. "Geroldseck, ein altes Schloss im Wasgau, von dem man vor Jahren her viel Abenteuer erzaehlen hren: dass nêemlich die uralten deutschen Helden, die Knige Ariovist, Herman, Wittechind, der hùrnen Siegfried und viele andere in demselben Schlosse zu gewisser Zeit des Jahres gesehen wùrden; welche, wann die Deutschen in den hchsten Nthen und am Untergang sein wùrden, wieder da heraus und mit eth'chen alten deutschen Vlkern denselben zu Hilf erscheinen sollten." (Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, 21).
There seems to be a connexion between the Gerhard of legend and a god or giant of the underworld, or the world of the dead (Simrock, Der Gute Gerhard). The Eddie giant Geiroedhr is the lord of subterranean treasure; and it is worthy of note that his daughter Giâlp in a certain passage has the power of causing a river to overflow when she intends to drown Thor.*
The editor hopes to be able to hereafter obtain a less imperfect version of this story than that here published. In another fragment the Earl says of himself "Mise mac righ Sidhe Gallaibh agus m' ainm Gearôid 'larla," I am the Sidhe prince of the Gaill, and my name is Gerôid 'larla. This can only have been his answer to the question of his too curious wife, just as in the Lohengrin tale. Others, while making Gearôid mac Gearailt (Gerald mac Gerald) the Priom Stdhe na Mi'imhan (chief Sidhe of Munster give him, with Donn mac Miledh and Riobdirdde Barra, a fourth companion, Domhnall-na-ngeil-eich a Loch-Léin, Domhnall Donchadha of the white steeds, in Killarney Lake.
Hammersmith. London. 1879.
The editor was absent from home when the first proofs of the foregoing sheets
were sent to him for revision. His corrections arrived too late to be carried
out; and he must ask the indulgence of his
readers for such typographical errors as they may find, and request a reference
I . cf. also the passage sup. p. 188 where Gerôid 'larla says, "I was all but drowned" etc., with legends of Odin or Thor wading. Since the above was written a Norwegian scholar has come to the conclusion that the Geirdhr of the Edda is no other than Geryon; and that parts of the Edda exhibit traces of the influence of the Apocalypse. Afîenbladet, 3 November.
[p.200] the following Errata. The title should also be read "Irish Popular Traditions."
P. 174, 1. 8, read Sidheôgaidhe.
P. 178, l. 24, instead of itndadiread imdha eli.
1. 25, read Desmumhain and suppress the brackets.
1. 34, read Skibbereen.
P. 179, 1. 10, read glin.
A relic of the Swan-Knight story is possibly preserved in the following English child's game-rhyme, which the editor has not met with in print. It was obtained from a young woman from Northamptonshire.
A number of little girls join hands and form a ring. "They all jump round, and sing to a certain air:
I saw a ship a sailia',
A sailin' on the sea,
And oh it was laden
With pretty things for me.
There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold,
The salis were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold.
Four and twenty sailors,
That sat upon the deck,
Were four and twenty white mice
With chains about their necks.
The captain was a Duck,
With a packet on his back,
And when the ship began to move,
The captain cried Quack! Quack!
The game ends by the girls following one of their number, in a string, ail
quacking like ducks.
Cailleach Bhidrach.Lucian, in the first book of his Vera Historia, describes a wonderful well at the moon: