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The Kildare Lurikeen

A young girl that lived in sight of Castle Carberry, near Edenderry, was going for a pitcher of water to the neighbouring well one summer morning, when who should she see sitting in a sheltery nook under an old thorn, but the Lurikeen, working like vengeance at a little old brogue only fit for the foot of a fairy like himself. There he was, boring his holes, and jerking his waxed ends, with his little three-cornered hat with gold lace, his knee-breeches, his jug of beer by his side, and his pipe in his mouth. He was so busy at his work, and so taken up with an old ballad he was singing in Irish, that he did not mind Breedheen till she had him by the scruff o' the neck, as if he was in a vice. "Ah, what are you doin'?" says he, turning his head round as well as he could. "Dear, dear! to think of such a purty colleen ketchin' a body, as if he was afther robbin' a hen roost! What did I do to be thrated in such an undecent manner? The very vulgarest young ruffin in the townland could do no worse. Come, come, Miss Bridget, take your hands off, sit down, and us have a chat, like two respectable people." "Ah, Mr. Lurikeen, I don't care a wisp of borrach [a] for your politeness. It's your money I want, and I won't take hand or eye from you till you put me in possession of a fine lob of it." "Money, indeed! Ah! where would a poor cobbler like me get it? Anyhow there's no money hereabouts, and if you'll only let go my arms, I'll turn my pockets inside out, and open the drawer of my seat, and give you leave to keep every halfpenny you'll find." "That won't do; my eyes'll keep going through you like darning needles till I have the gold. Begonies, if you don't make haste, I'll carry you, head and pluck, into the village, and there you'll have thirty pair of eyes on you instead of one." "Well, well! was ever a poor cobbler so circumvented! and if it was an ignorant, ugly bosthoon that done it, I would not wonder; but a decent, comely girl, that can read her Poor Man's Manual at the chapel, and--" "You may throw your compliments on the stream there; they won't do for me, I tell you. The gold, the gold, the gold! Don't take up my time with your blarney." "Well, if there's any to be got, it's undher the ould castle it is; we must have a walk for it. Just put me down and we'll get on." "Put you down indeed! I know a trick worth two of that; I'll carry you." "Well, how suspicious we are Do you see the castle from this?" Bridget was about turning her eyes from the little man to where she knew the castle stood, but she bethought herself in time.

They went up a little hill-side, and the Lurikeen was quite reconciled, and laughed and joked; but just as they got to the brow, he looked up over the ditch, gave a great screetch, and shouted just as if a bugle horn was blew at her ears--" Oh, murdher! Castle Carberry is afire." Poor Biddy gave a great start, and looked up towards the castle. The same moment she missed the weight of the Lurikeen, and when her eyes fell where he was a moment before, there was no more sign of him than if everything that passed was a dream.

This passage in the natural history of the Lurikeen is furnished by the chronicler of the "Rath C.-Pooka." The only instance of a Wexford Lurikeen that we can recall, differs only slightly from this. Wexford Molly was as vigilant as Kildare Biddy, and never took eye or hand off him till he pointed out the very stalk of booliaun bui under which the treasure lay. There was no other weed of the kind within half the field of it at the moment, but when Molly returned in half an hour, attended by father and brothers with spades and picks, all round the spot, to a considerable distance, was as thick with booliauns as a plantation with young trees.

The next tale cannot boast of a very remote origin in its present form, having been written in the beginning of the last century, but it is an adaptation of one as old as the times of paganism. These ancient fictions, when thoroughly abandoned to a traditional existence, passing from the mouths of one generation of story-tellers to the ears of their successors, or even left to the mercy of careless and ignorant scribes, suffered considerable damage. We find in those that have been preserved by the peasantry passages in the worst taste, grotesque, extravagant, and unintentionally ludicrous, which never were uttered by the educated and really gifted bards, who found a welcome in the hall of chief or king, or at the public assembly.

We do not make this remark in a fault-finding spirit with our peasantry. They have saved a great number of legends peculiar to themselves, as well as the fairy and household stories, which are the common property of most of the countries of Europe.

We conclude the present section with:


[a] Coarse tow. The mere English reader will in vain attempt the horrible sound of this word. Let him apply to a native to pronounce it for him.

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