Minute Irish Stories Set
2 : 32-64
|32. The Ived Tree-Top
My little hut in Tuaim Inbhir, a mansion would not be more delightful, with its stars as ordained, with its sun, with its moon.
It was Gob/an that made it (that its tale may be told you) my darling, God of Heaven, was the thacher who has thatched it.
A house in which rain does not fall, a place in which spears are not
feared, as open as if in a garden without a fence around it.
33. The Druid’s Candle
Saint Patrick came one night to a farmer’s house, and there was a great
candle shining in some place near, and three or four of the farmer’s sons
had got their death through it for every one that would see it would get
his death. It was some evil thing that put it there, witchcraft that
the Druids used to be doing at that time the way the Freemasons do it in
England to this day. They do that, and they have a way of knowing
each other if they would meet in a crowd. But Saint Patrick went
to where the candle was, and it did him no harm and he put it out, and
it was never lighted again in Ireland.
34. Cromwell’s Bible
One time Cromwell was planning to put a wall or a paling all a round
the coast of England. He thought that was the only way to keep an
enemy out. He had a huge, black Bible--it would take a horse to draw
it!--and he had a servant always with him to take care of the Bible.
One day, himself and the servant set out and they never stopped until they
reached the coast. It w as a very warm day, and Cromwell was exhausted
when he reached the sea. Drowsiness and sleep were coming over him,
and he lay down on the strand to close his eyes. “Now,” said
he to the servant, “I’ll stretch myself for a while, and
you’re to take care of the Bible until I awake. And as if your
life depended on it, you’re not to open it. If you do, it will be
the worse for you!” He lay down and it wasn’t long till he was snoring
for himself. When the servant saw that he was asleep,
“By heavens, it won’t be long now till I find out what power
is in this Bible!” He opened it and, if he did, it wasn’t long
until a small, stout man jumped out on the strand before his eyes, and
then another and another until the strand was covered with them.
None of them was the size of your thumb, and they all were running around
and shouting: “Give me work! Give me work! Give me work!” The poor
servant was terrified, I’d say, when he saw the huge crowd all over
the strand, and his heart was full of fear that they would rouse
Cromwell. “May the Devil take the pack of ye!” he shouted. “Where
would I get work for ye? Why don’t ye start making ropes out of the sand?”
They started making ropes out of the sand, but, of course, if they were
at it since, they couldn’t make any ropes of it. They had to
give up in the end, and told the servant that it was beyond their powers.
“If that’s the way with ye,” said the servant, “I can’t help ye.
Off ye go in the name of the Devil to wherever ye came from, and
don’t be annoying me, yourselves and your work!” In they went, every
single madman of them
35. Goban, The Builder
The Goban was the master of sixteen trades. There was no beating
him ; he had got the gift. He went one time to Quyin Abbey when it
was building, looking for a job, and the men were going to their dinner,
and he had poor clothes, and they began to jibe at him and the foreman
said, “Make now a cat-and-nine-tails while we are at our dinner,
if you are any good.” And he took the chisel and cut in the rough
in the stone, a cat with nine tails coming from it, and there it was complete
when they came out from their dinner. There was no beating
him. He learned no trade, but he was master of sixteen. That
is the way, a man that has the gift will get more out of his own brain
than another will get through learning. There is many
a man without learning will get the better of a college-bred man, and will
have better words too. Those that make inventions in these days have
the gift, such a man now as Edison, with all he has got out of electricity.
36 .The Swine of the Gods
A few years ago a friend of mine told me of something that happened
to him when he was a young man and out drilling with some Connacht Fenians.
The were but a car-full, and drove along a hillside until they came
to a quiet place. The left the car and went further up the hill with their
rifles, and drilled for a while. As they were coming down again they
saw a very thin, long legged pig of the old Irish sort, and the pig began
to follow them. One of them cried out as a joke that it was a fairy
pig, and they all began to run to keep up the joke. The pig ran too,
and presently, how nobody knew, this mock terror became real terror, and
they ran as for their lives. When they got to the car
they made the horse gallop as fast as possible, but the pig still followed.
Then one of them put up his rifle to fire, but when he looked along the
barrel he could see nothing. Presently they turned a corner and came
to a village. The told the people of the village what had happened,
and the people of the village took pitchforks and spades and the like,
and went along the road with them to drive the pig away. When they
turned the corner they could not find anything.
37. The Stuarts
As to the Stuarts, there are no songs about them and no praises in the
West, whatever there may be in the South. Why would there,
and they running away and leaving the country the way they did? And what
good did they ever do it? James the Second was a coward. Why
didn’t he go into the thick of the battle like the Prince of Orange? He
stopped on a hill three miles away, and rode off to Dublin, bringing
the best of his troops with him. There was a lady walking in the
street at Dublin when he got there, and he told her the battle was lost,
and she said, “faith you made good haste; you made no delay on the road.”
So he said no more after that. The people liked James well enough
before he ran; they didn’t like him after that..
38. One Queer Experience
A good many believe that the fairies will spirit away children. They
will carry off a healthy child and leave instead a weazened little
dwarf. One day they played that trick on a tailor, and he kept the
dwarf several years and it didn’t grow any, and was just the same shriveled
little thing it was in the beginning. Finally, the tailor made up
his mid what the matter was. So he heated his goose red hot and held
it over the dwarf, and said, “Now, get out of here-- I know you!”
But the dwarf never let on it noticed him; and the tailor lowered the goose
little by little till it almost touched the dwarf’s face. The n the
dwarf spoke and said, “Well I’ll leave, but first you go to the door
and look round the corner.” The man knew if he did that the dwarf
would get the best of him and he said he would not. Then the dwarf
saw ‘twas no use, and it sprang out of the cradle and went roaring
and cackling up the chimney, and a good child lay there in its place.
I had one queer experience myself. It was the time of the Fenian
troubles. I was sitting up late--I suppose it must have been after
midnight --but I hadn’t taken anything, and was as sober as I am this minute.
Well, it got to be very late, as I said, and by and by, I heard strange
noises, hundreds of them, and they were dragging dead bodies and
all that. I could hear their breathing, and I could hear their clothing
rub along against the wall. Then the ceiling and the sides of the room
I was in began to wave. I took a candle and went out in the hall,
and there was nothing there, doors all fastened, everything all right.
Now, what do you make out of that? I never have been able to account for
39.Shortening the Road
Himself and his son were walking the road together one day, and the
Goban said to the son, “Shorten the road for me.” So the son began to walk
fast, thinking that would do it, but the Goban sent him back home when
he didn’t understand what to do. The next day they were walking,
and the Goban said again to shorten the road for him, and this time he
began to run, and the Goban sent him home again. When he went in
and told the wife he was sent home the second time, she began to think,
and she said, “When he bids you shorten the road, it is that he wants you
to be telling him stories.” For that is what the Goban meant, but
it took the daughter-in-law to understand it. And it is what I was
saying to the other woman, that if one of ourselves w as making a journey,
if we had another along with us, it would not seem to be one half as long
as if we wouldn’t be alone. And if this is so with us, it is much
more with a stranger, and so I went up the hill with you to shorten the
road, telling you that story.
40. The Heather Beer
People say that the Danes were able to make the sweetest of beer from the tops of the heather. But the Irish people could not get the secret of it from them, although they tried their best.
When they were routing the Danes out of Ireland, they killed most of
them until there were only two left alive, a father and son. The
Irish made up their minds to try to get the secret of the beer from these
two , or it would be lost for ever. So they said to the pair
that were left that whoever of them would give up the secret would be let
41. Another Story
Seumas Salach, Dirty James, it is he brought all down. At the
time of the battle there was one of his men said,” I have my eye cocked,
and all the nations will be done away with,” and he pointing his cannon.
“Oh!” said James, “Don’t make a widow of my daughter.” If he didn’t say
that, the English would have been beat. It was a very poor thing
for him to do. I used to hear them singing “The White Cockade” through
the country--”King James was beaten and all his well-wishers; my grief,
my boy, that went with them!” But I don’t think their people had ever much
opinion of the Stuarts; but in those days they were all prone to versify.
But the Famine did away with all that. Sure King James ran all the
way from Boyne to Dublin after the battle. There was a verse made
about him. “It was the coming of King James that struck down Ireland,
With his one shoe Irish and his one shoe English, He that wouldn’t strike
a blow and that wouldn’t make a peace, he has left trouble for ever on
42. The Baptism of Conor MacNessa
43. The Battle of Clontarf
Clontarf was on the head of a game of chess. The generals of the Danes
were beaten at it, and they were vexed; and Cennedigh was killed on a hill
near Fermoy. He put the Holy Gospels in his breast as a protection,
but he was struck through them with a reeking dagger. It was Brodar,
that he Brodericks are descended from, that put a dagger through Brian’s
heart, and he attending to his prayers. What the Danes left in Ireland
were hens and weasels. And when the crock crows in the morning the
country people will always say “It is for Denmark they are crowing. Crowing
they are to be back in Denmark.”
44. A Pig on the Road from Gort
There was a man coming along the road from Gort to Garryland one night,
and he had a drop taken ,and before him on the road he saw a pig walking.
And having a drop in, he gave a shout and made a kick at it and bid it
get out of that. And from the time he got home, his arm had swelled
from the shoulder to be as big as a bag, and he couldn’t use his hand with
the pain in it. And his wife brought him after
a few days to a woman that used to do cures at Rahasane. And on the
road all she could do would hardly keep him from lying down to sleep on
the grass. And when they got to the woman, she knew all that happened,
and says she:”It’s well for you that your wife didn’t let you fall
asleep on the grass, for if you had done that but for an instant, you’d
be a gone man.”
45. The Queen of Breffny
Devorgilla was a red-haired woman, and it was she put the great curse
on Ireland, bringing in the English through MacMurrough, that she went
from O’Rourke. It was to Henry the Second MacMurrough went, and he
sent Strongbow, and they stopped in Ireland ever since. But who knows
but another race might be worse, such as the Spaniards that were scattered
along the whole coast of Connacht at the time of the Armada. And
the laws are good enough. I heard it said the English
will be dug out of their graves one
46. Patrick Sarsfiled
Sarsfield was a great general the time he turned the shoes on his horse.
The English it was were pursuing him, and he got off and changed
the shoes the way when they saw the tracks they would think he went
another road. That was a great plan. He got to Limerick
then, and he killed thousands of the English. He was a great general.
47. In Defense of Women
Woe to him who speaks ill of women! It is not right to abuse them. They have not deserved, that I know, all the blame they have always had.
Sweet are their words, exquisite their voice, that sex for which my love is great; woe to him who does not scruple to revile them, woe to him who speaks ill of women!
They do no murder nor treachery, nor any grim or hateful deed, they do no sacrilege to church nor bell; woe to him who speaks ill of women!
Certain it is, there has never been born bishop nor king nor great prophet without fault, but from a woman; woe to him who speaks ill of women!
They are thrall to their own hearts, they love a man slender and sound-it would be long before they would dislike him. Woe to him who speaks ill of women!
An old fat greybeard, they do not desire a tryst with him-- dearer to
them is a young lad, though poor. Woe to him who speaks ill of women!
48. King Henry VIII
Henry the Eighth was crying and roaring and leaping out of the bed for
three days and nights before his death. And he died cursing his children,
and he that had eight millions when he came to the Throne, coining leather
money at the end.
49. Sarsfield Surrenders and Rory takes to the Hills
My uncle Donal used to tell me how his grandfather often told him that
when Limerick at last surrendered to William of Orange and there looked
nothing more to fight for, and that the French flag was set on one hill
and William’s flag on another for choice of the Irish fighters as they
marched out; and when these thronged solid to the French, with brave Patrick
Sarsfield at their head, one rough fellow, Rory, who in the fighting had
drawn everyone’s admiration, so reckless he was,--this Rory struck away
on his own. A
50. Magical Theft
Well, these women were just ordinary country women like you still see
around except that they were able to work this magic, whatever way they
did it. If you had cows, they could take the “profit” of them from
you. The milk you got from the cows would be useless, insipid
and lifeless, and they would have the butter for themselves. There
was a man living near here one time and he had eight cows. Day in
day out, he used to see this hare running about, in and out among the cows
in his fields. He didn’t know what the hare was doing there, but
he did notice that he was making nothing from the milk his cows were giving--
it was just like water. He had a dog, a pure black hound, and they
say that a hound without a speck of white in it that has a rod of
the rowan tree tied around its neck is the only animal that can catch a
hare like that. So one day when he saw the hare among the cows, he
loosed the hound after her. Hound and hare coursed the fields back
and forward and finally the hare made a jump over a high stone wall and
the hound caught her by the leg and broke it. The man knew
that the hound had caught the hare, and when he came up to where they were
what did he find there only an old hag who lived in the locality sitting
by the wall with the blood pouring out of her. The hag was brought
home and some time after that she died and the man went to the wake.
The were going round with the whiskey at the hag’s wake and he was offered
a glass too. “Here, drink a glass for the old woman.” they said.
Indeed, I won’t” said he “for I got my fill of her”. May morning
was a terrible time for working charms of all kinds but especially for
stealing the “profit” of your milk. One May morning this man was
coming up through Altnapaste and he saw this hag, back and forward through
a field, pulling an iron chain after her and this is what she was
saying: “Come all to me, come all to me.” The man was riding on horseback
on the road and watching all this and he shouts: “The half of it for
me.” That was all there was to that but when he got home he noticed that
his cows had an awful lot of milk. All the vessels he had about the
house were filled to overflowing with milk. He told the priest about
it and eventually things were put right again. He had got half of
what the old hag had been asking for herself.
51. A worse than Cromwell
Cromwell was very bad but the drink is worse. For a good many that Cromwell killed should go to heaven, but those that are drunk never see heaven. And as to drink, a man that takes the first glass is as quiet and as merry as a pet lamb; and after the second glass he is as knacky as a monkey; and after the third glass he is as ready for battle as a lion; and after the fourth glass he is like as swine as he is. “I am thirsty” Tha Tort Orm,” that was one of our Lord’s seven words on the Cross, where he was dry. And a man far off would have given him drink; but there was a drunkard at the foot of the Cross, and he prevented him.
52. Willie Brennan
Brennan was born in Kilmurry, near Kilworth. He listed in the
army and then he deserted out of it. They were hunting him around
the country day and night. One day outside at Leary’s Bridge, Brennan
met the Pedlar Bawn. I never heard him called by another name.
The Pedlar was traveling for a firm in Cork, going about the country selling
different kinds of things. Brennan put the blunderbuss up to him
and made him hand out what he had watch and chain and all. Then the
Pedlar asked him to give hi m some token to show to the people of the firm
in Cork that he had met him. “Tell them that you met Brennan the
Highwayman.” “Give me some token that you met me, or I’ll be put to jail,”
said the Pedlar. “What have I to do for you?” asked Brennan. “Fire
a shot through this side of my old coat,” said the Pedlar. He did.
“Fire another through this side now,” said the Pedlar. So he did.
“Here! Said the Pedlar. “Fire another through my old hat.” Brennan did.
“Come!” said the Pedlar. “Fire another through my old cravat.”
53 . A son of the Dean
There was a son of Dean Swift was a great rider, and the Dean made him
a bet of two hundred pounds that he would not leap over the drop at the
edge of the cliffs of Moher, where there is a wall close to the brink.
But the son made a leap sideways over the wall, that was standing
sideways the same as that press, and so he was over the drop in the leap,
but he landed again on the ground. He won the two hundred pounds
doing that. There was another son of the Dean that was called Fireball,
and that used to put his own son standing out in the front of the house
and an egg on his head, and he would fire his gun and put the two halves
of the egg to different sides. Hadn’t the son a great nerve to stand
and let him do that? But fireball said he would shoot him if he did
54. Saint Kevin
One day in spring before the blossoms were on the trees, a young man grievously afflicted with the falling sickness fancied that an apple would cure him, and the dickens an apple tree at all was about the place. But what mattered that to the Saint! He ordered a score of fine yellow pippins to grow upon a willow, and the boy gathered and ate and was cured.
The Saint was one day going up Derrybawn, and he meets a woman
that carried five loaves in her apron.
The Saint managed to get from King O’ Toole a grant of the land upon
which he built his churches. The king was old and weak in himself,
and took a mighty liking to a goose, a live goose,. And in course of time
the goose was like the master , old and weak. So O’Toole sent
for his Holiness. And his Holiness went to see what would the pagan--for
King O’Toole was a heathen--want with him. “God save ye,” says the
Saint. “God save ye kindly,” says the king. “A better answer than
I expected,” says the Saint. “Will ye make my goose young?” says
the king. “What’ll ye give me? Says the Saint. “What’ll ye ask? Says the
king. “All I’ll ask will be as much of the valley as he’ll fly over.”
Says the Saint. “Done,” says the king.
55 . The Man Who Lost his Shadow
A man named Brasil bought an island from a Danish chieftain, but the
chieftain had to go back to Lochlainn before the bargain was completed.
Brasil had to travel to Lochlainn after him to get the papers from him.
He spent a long time looking for him here and there, until at last he was
directed to the chieftain’s castle. Brasil went in and found the
chieftain sitting at a table which was covered with all kinds of documents.
The chieftain welcomed him and gave him food and drink. Brasil then
told him that he had come from Ireland to get the papers dealing with the
agreement. “ I have them here,” said the chieftain. “But maybe you
would like to stay here in this place with us. I promise that you
will be well off--better off than you would be at home.”
56 . Saint Finbar
Long long ago, before Saint Finbar came to Gougane, the little lake
was between the mountains, and on a calm day you would like to be looking
at it, the water was so still. At that time there was a small house
there and a widow and her son lived in it. They had one cow, and
every day the son would mind the cow while his mother was busy around the
57. Emmet’s Dress
It was a pity to hang so fine a man. I was looking at his picture
a while ago, and his dress, very nice, knee breeches and a collar turned
over, they dressed very nice in those days. But now you’ll see a
man having a thing stiff the same as a washboard in front of him ,and one
button in it, and you wouldn’t know has he a soutane under it or anything
at all. It is likely the linen Emmet was wearing was made at home,
for I remember the days when every house had flax sowed in the garden.
There was a man going to be hanged in Galway one time and his wife went
to see him the night before, and all s he said was. “Where will I sow the
flax this year?” He was vexed at that and he said, “Is that
all you are come to say to me?” “Is it that you are in a sulk because
you are going to be hanged in the morning?” says the wife. That was
all she said.
58. Happy for You, Blind Man!
Happy for you, blind man, who see nothing of women!
Would God I had been blind before I saw her curling hair, her white flanked splendid snowy body; ah, my life is distressful to me.
I pitied blind men until my peril grew beyond all sorrow, I have changed my pity, though pitiful, to envy; I am ensnared by the maid of the curling locks.
Alas for him who has seen her, and alas for him who does not see her every day; alas for those trapped in her love, and alas for those who are set free!
Alas for him who goes to meet her, and alas for him who does not meet
her always, alas for him who was with her, and alas for him who is not
O’Connell was a great man, wide big arms he had. It was he left
us the cheap tea; to cheapen it he did, that was at that time a shilling
for one bare ounce. His heart is in Rome and his body in Glasnevin.
A lovely man, he would put you on your guard; he was for the country, he
was for all Ireland.
60. The Best Road to Heaven
There was a woman I knew was very charitable to the poor; and she’d
give them the full of her apron of bread, or of potatoes or anything she
had. And she was only lately married. And one day, a poor woman
came to the door with her children and she brought them to the fire, and
warned them and gave them a drink of milk; and she sent out to the barn
for a bag of potatoes for them. And the husband came in, and he said:”Kitty,
if you go on this way, you won’t leave much for ourselves.” And she said:
“He that gave us what we have, can give us more.“ And the next
day when they went out to the barn, it was full of potatoes--more than
were ever in it before. And when she was dying, and her children
about her, the priest said to her:”Mrs. Gallagher, it’s in Heaven
you’ll be at twelve o’clock tomorrow.
61.The Black Art
A man and his wife were living in Malinmore long ago, and they had an
only daughter, a young girl. As with every couple of that kind, the
daughter was the apple of their eye.
62.The Terry Alts
The Terry Alts were a bad class; everything you had they’d take
from you. It was against herding they began to get the land, the
same as at the present time. And women they would take; a man
maybe that hadn’t a perch of land would go to a rich farmer’s house
and bring away his daughter. And I, supposing, to have some
spite against you, I’d gather a mob and do every bad thing to destroy you.
That is the way they were, a bad class and doing bad deeds. One of
hem went to confession to the priest, that asked him how many crimes did
he do, and he said, “I was at thirteen killings between Clare and Connacht.”
He met with a dreadful death. His tongue came four inches out, that
neither priest nor doctor could put it in.
If the brown leaves were gold that the wood lets fall, if the white
wave were silver, Finn would have given it all away.
Parnell was a very good man, and a just man, and if he had lived to
now, Ireland would be different to what it is. The only thing ever
could be said against him was the influence he had with that woman.
And how do we know but that was a thing appointed for him by God?
Parnell had a back to him, but O’Connell stood alone. He fought a
good war in the House of Commons. Parnell did a great deal, getting
the land. He wouldn’t like at all that you’d wrong the poor.
I often heard he didn’t die at all--it was very quick for him to go.
I often wondered there were no people smart enough to dig up the coffin
and to see what is in it, at night they could do that. No one
knows in what soil Robert Emmet was buried, but he was made an end of sure
enough. Parnell went through Gort one day, and he called it the fag-end
of Ireland, just as Lady Morgan called the North the Athens of Ireland.