Three Ulster students spent some time under him, and at last they formed a design of performing a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They asked his permission, which he granted on one condition. "You will die," said he, "before you return. And now give me your solemn promise that, when your spirits are freed from their mortal bonds, you will not ascend to heaven till you come and announce to me the time of my own death, and whether I shall obtain eternal happiness or not."
"We make that promise," said the three together.
They died at Jerusalem: and when St. Michael was about to conduct their spirits to heaven, they mentioned the necessity they were under of returning to their preceptor, and making the revelation demanded. "Go," said he. They appeared before the great scholar, and thus revealed his destiny:--"You have made changes in the canon--you have been incontinent--you have neglected to sing the Altus [a] for seven years. In three years you shall die, and hell is your destination."
" Not so," said the frightened man. "I will never more make a letter of alteration in the canon; I will lead a pure life; I will sing the Altus seven times every night; I will turn with true contrition to my Maker. Is it not written, 'the impiety of the impious, in whatever hour he shall turn from it, shall not injure him'?"
So he changed his practices; he lived a mortified and pious life; and at the end of the three years, on the day of his decease, he was again visited by the three spirits who, in the appearance of doves, came to give him an assurance of salvation, and bring comfort to the assistants at his death-bed.
A smith, whose forge was on the Kerry side of the Shannon, was disturbed one night by an impatient traveller, whom he afterwards discovered to be one of the provincial fairy kings proceeding to make war on the fairy tribes of Cork, and anxious to have h'is horse shod. The steed was so fiery and impatient of restraint that the smith dreaded to touch his hoof, whereupon Fear Dhoirche at once plucked the leg off and handed it to the artist, who was thus enabled to do his office without risk of being pranced on or kicked. The inventor of the following legend had some such fiction as the above in his mind, when he told the world--
[a] The Altus is a hymn in praise of the Holy Trinity (still extant) composed by St. Colum Cille in his monastery at Iona. O'Carroll had a beloved and pious son, for whose recovery from illness he had got the Altus seven times solemnly chanted. 'The youth, however, died the death of the just, and the father never sang the hymn again till after the warning.