Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  Celtic  Index  Previous  Next 

The Hags of the Long Teeth


LONG ago, in the old time, there came a party of gentlemen from Dublin to Loch Glynn a-hunting and a-fishing. They put up in the priest's house, as there was no inn in the little village.
The first day they went a-hunting, they went into the Wood of Driminuch, and it was not long till they routed
a hare. They fired many a ball after him, but they could not bring him down. They followed him till they saw him going into a little house in the wood.
When they came to the door, they saw a great black dog, and he would not let them in.
"Put a ball through the beggar," said a main of them. He let fly a ball, but the dog caught it in his mouth, chewed it, and flung it on the ground. They fired another ball, and another, but the dog did the same thing with them. Then he began barking as loud as he could, and it was not long till there came out a hag, and every tooth in her head as long as the tongs. "What are you doing to my pup?" says the hag.
"A hare went into your house, and this dog won't let us in after him," says a man of the hunters.
"Lie down, pup," said the hag. Then she said: "Ye can come in if ye wish." The hunters were afraid to go in, but a man of them asked: "Is there any person in the house with you?"
"There are six sisters," said the old woman. "We should like to see them," said the hunters. No sooner had he said the word than the six old women came out, and each of them with teeth as long as the other. Such a sight the hunters had never seen before.
They went through the wood then, and they saw seven vultures on one tree, and they screeching. The hunters began cracking balls after them, but if they were in it ever since they would never bring down one of them.
There came a gray old man to them and said: "Those are the hags of the long tooth that are living in the little house over there. Do ye not know that they are under enchantment? They are there these hundreds of years, and they have a dog that never lets in anyone to the little house. They have a castle under the lake, and it
is often the people saw them making seven swans of themselves, and going into the lake."
When the hunters came home that evening they told everything they heard and saw to the priest, but he did not believe the story.
On the day on the morrow, the priest went with the hunters, and when they came near the little house they saw the big black dog at the door. The priest put his conveniences for blessing under his neck, and drew out a book and began reading prayers. The big dog began barking loudly. The hags came out, and when they saw the priest they let a screech out of them that was heard in every part of Ireland. When the priest was a while reading, the hags made vultures of themselves and flew up into a big tree that was over the house.
The priest began pressing in on the dog until he was within a couple of feet of him.
The dog gave a leap up, struck the priest with its four feet, and put him head over heels.
When the hunters took him up he was deaf and dumb, and the dog did not move from the door.
They brought the priest home and sent for the bishop. When he came and heard the story there was great grief on him, The people gathered together and asked of him to banish the hags of enchantment out of the wood, There was fright and shame on him, and he did not know what he would do, but he said to them: "I have no means of banishing them till I go home, but I will come at the end of a month and banish them."
The priest was too badly hurt to say anything. The big black dog was father of the hags, and his name was Dermod O'Muloony. His own son killed him, because he found him with his wife the day after their marriage, and killed the sisters for fear they should tell on him.
One night the bishop was in his chamber asleep, when one of the hags of the long tooth opened the door and came in. When the bishop wakened up he saw the hag standing by the side of his bed. He was so much afraid he was not able to speak a word until the hag spoke and said to him: "Let there be no fear on you; I did not come to do you harm, but to give you advice. You promised the people of Loch Glynn that you would come to banish the hags of the long tooth out of the wood of Driminuch. If you come you will never go back alive."
His talk came to the bishop, and he said: "I cannot break my word."
"We have only a year and a day to be in the wood," said the hag, "and you can put off the people until then."
"Why are ye in the woods as ye are?" says the bishop.
"Our brother killed us," said the hag, "and when we went before the arch-judge, there was judgment passed on us, we to be as we are two hundred years. We have a castle under the lake, and be in it every night. We are suffering for the crime our father did." Then she told him the crime the father did.
"Hard is your case," said the bishop, "but we must put up with the will of the arch-judge, and I shall not trouble ye."
"You will get an account, when we are gone from the wood," said the hag. Then she went from him.
In the morning, the day on the morrow, the bishop came to Loch Glynn. He sent out notice and gathered the people. Then he said to them: "It is the will of the arch-king that the power of enchantment be not banished for another year and a day, and ye must keep out of the wood until then. It is a great wonder to me that ye never saw the hags of enchantment till the hunters
came from Dublin.--It's a pity they did not remain at home."
About a week after that the priest was one day by himself in his chamber alone. The day was very fine and the window was open. The robin of the red breast came in and a little herb in its mouth. The priest stretched out his hand, and she laid the herb down on it. "Perhaps it was God sent me this herb," said the priest to himself, and he ate it. He had not eaten it one moment till he was as well as ever he was, and he said:
"A thousand thanks to Him who has power stronger than the power of enchantment."
Then said the robin: "Do you remember the robin of the broken foot you had, two years this last winter."
I remember her, indeed," said the priest, "but she went from me when the summer came."
"I am the same robin, and but for the good you did me I would not be alive now, and you would be deaf and dumb throughout your life. Take my advice now, and do not go near the hags of the long tooth any more, and do not tell to any person living that I gave you the herb." Then she flew from him.
When the house-keeper came she wondered to find that he had both his talk and his hearing. He sent word to the bishop and he came to Loch Glynn. He asked the priest how it was that he got better so suddenly. "It is a secret," said the priest, "but a certain friend gave me a little herb and it cured me."
Nothing else happened worth telling, till the year was gone. One night after that the bishop was in his chamber when the door opened, and the hag of the long tooth walked in, and said: "I come to give you notice that we will be leaving the wood a week from to-day. I have one thing to ask of you if you will do it for me."
"If it is in my power, and it not to be against the faith," said the bishop.
"A week from to-day," said the hag, "there will be seven vultures dead at the door of our house in the wood. Give orders to bury them in the quarry that is between the wood and Ballyglas; that is all I am asking of you."
"I shall do that if I am alive," said the bishop. Then she left him, and he was not sorry she to go from him.
A week after that day, the bishop came to Loch Glynn, and the day after he took men with him and went to the hags' house in the wood of Driminuch.
The big black dog was at the door, and when he saw the bishop he began running and never stopped until he went into the lake.
He saw the seven vultures dead at the door, and he said to the men: "Take them with you and follow me."
They took up the vultures and followed him to the brink of the quarry. Then he said to them: "Throw them into the quarry: There is an end to the hags of the enchantment."
As soon as the men threw them down to the bottom of the quarry, there rose from it seven swans as white as snow, and flew out of their sight. It was the opinion of the bishop and of every person who heard the story that it was up to heaven they flew, and that the big black dog went to the castle under the lake.
At any rate, nobody saw the hags of the long tooth or the big black dog from that out, any more.

Next: William of the Tree