WHEN I had begun my search for folk-lore, the first to tell me he himself had seen the Sidhe was an old, perhaps half-crazed man I will call Michael Barrett (for I do not give the real names either of those who are living or who have left living relatives). I had one day asked an old woman who had been spinning wool for me, to be made into frieze by our weavers, if she had ever seen the faery host. She said, "I never saw them myself nor I don't think much of them; it is God that takes us or leaves us as He will. But a neighbouring man was standing in my door last night, and there's no day of the year he doesn't hear them or feel them.
"It's in his head I think it does be, and when he stood in the door last night I said 'the wind does be always in my ears and the sound of it never stops,' to make him think it was the same with him. But he said, 'I hear them singing and making music all the time, and one of them's after bringing out a little flute, and it's on it he's playing to them.' Sure he has half his chimney pulled down, where they used to be sitting and singing to him day and night. Rut those that are born in the daytime never have power to see or hear them all their life."
Another neighbour talked to me of him and said, "One night he was walking across the bog, and a lurcher, a bastard hound, with him. And something ran across the path in the shape of a white cat, and the lurcher went after him, and Barrett went home and to bed and left the door open for the lurcher to come m. And in the morning they found it there, lying under the table, and it paralysed and not able to stir. But after a few months it got better, and one night they were crossing the bog again and the same thing ran across their path, and this time in the form of a deer. But the dog wouldn't follow it again, but shrank behind Barrett until such time as it had passed by."
My spinning woman, coming another time with chickens to sell, said, "Barrett is after telling me this morning that they were never so bad as these last two nights. 'Friday fine-day' is what they say now, in Irish, and he got no sleep till he threatened to throw dirty water over them. The poor man, they do say they are mostly in his head now, but sure he was a fine fresh man twenty years ago, the night he saw them all linked in two lots, like slips of girls walking together. And it was that very same day that Hession's little girl got a touch from them. She was as fine a little girl as ever you saw, and her mother sent her into Gort to do a message. And on the road she met a red-haired woman, with long wisps of hair as bright as silver, and she said, 'Where are you going and who are you?' 'I'm going to Gort on a message,' says she, 'and I'm Mrs. Hessian's daughter of such a place.' Well, she came home, and that very night she got a pain in her thigh, with respects to you, and she and her mother have half the world walked since then, tryzng to get relief for her; but never a bit better did she ever get. And no doubt at all but that's the very same day Michael Barrett saw them in the field near Hessian's house."
I asked Mr. Yeats to come with me to see the old man, and we walked up the long narrow lane, from which we could see Slieve Echtge and the Burren hills, the little cabin with its broken chimney where Michael Barrett told us of those that had disturbed his rest. This was the first time we went together to enquire into the Hierarchy of the Sidhe, of which by degrees we have gathered so much traditional and original knowledge.
As to old Barrett, I saw him from time to time, and he told me he was still "tormented," and that "there is one that sat and sang b-b-b all the night" till a few evenings before he had got a bit of rag and tied it to a long stick, and hit at him when he came, and drove him out with the rest. And in the next spring I heard he was ill, and that "on Saturday he had been told by three he was to die." When I visited him I found him better, and he said that since the warning on Saturday they had left him alone "and the children that used to be playing about with them have gone to some other place; found the house too cold for them maybe." That was the last time I saw him; I am glad I had been able to help him to more warmth and comfort before the end.
I asked the old man's brother, a labourer, what he thought of Michael's visions, but he made little of them. "Old he is, and it's all in the brain the things he does be talking of. If it was a young man told us of them we might believe him, but as to him, we pay no attention to what he says at all. Those things are passed away, and you-I beg your pardon for using that word--a person--hears no more of them.
"John Casey saw queer things? So he might. Them that travel by night, why wouldn't they see queer things? But they'd see nothing if they went to their bed quiet and regular.
"Lydon that had the contract for the schoolhouse, we didn't mind much what he said happened him the night he slept there alone, and in the morning he couldn't stir across the floor from the place where he was. But who knows? Maybe he had too much drink taken before he went to bed. It was no wonder in the old times if there was signs and the like where murder had been. But that's come to an end, and time for it.
"There's another man, one Doran, has the same dreams and thoughts as my brother, and he leaves pieces of silver on the wall; and when they're took--it's the faeries! But myself I believe it's the boys do be watching him.
"No, these things are gone from the world, and there's not the same dread of death there used to be. When we die we go to judgment, and the places we'll get there, they won't be the same as what we had here. The charitable, the kind-hearted, lady or gentleman, who'd have a chance if they didn't? But the tyrants and schemers, what chance will there be for the like of them?
"You will have a good place there, Barrett, you and John Farrell. You have done your work better than most of us through all your life, and it's likely you'll be above us there.
"I did my work all my life, fair and honest every day; and now that I'm old, I'll keep on the same track to the last. Like a horse that might be racing at Galway racecourse or another, there might be eight leaps or ten leaps he might be frightened at; but when he's once over the last leap there's no fear of him. Why would he fail then, with the winning post so near at hand?"
I was told by A Gatekeeper:
There was once a family, the O'Hagans living in Dromore Hill, that now belongs to you, well-to-do people. And one day the son that had been at college was coming back, and there was a great dinner being made in the house. And a girl was sent off to a spring by the foith to get some water, and when she passed by the forth, she heard like the crying of a child and some one said to it "Nothing given to us today, no milk spilled for us, nothing laid out for us, but tonight we'll have what we want and there will be waste and overflow." And that evening the young man that was coming home got a fall from his horse, and was killed, and all the grand things for the dinner were thrown about and went to loss. So never begrudge the drop of milk you'll spill, or the bit you'll let fall, it might turn all to good in the end.
One night at the house below it was just getting dark, and a man came in the gate and to the door and came in and fell down on a chair. And when I saw him shaking and his face so white, I thought it was the fear gortha (the hungry grass) he had walked on, and I called to the wife to give him something to eat. But he would take nothing but a cop of water with salt in it, and when he got better he told us that when he was passing the big tree a man and a woman came out and came along with him. They didn't speak but they walked on each side of him, and then the woman seemed to go away, but the man's step was with him till he came in at the gate.
There was a girl of the Heniffs brought the dinner one day to where the men were working near where the river rises at Coole. And when she had left the dinner she began to gather kippeens, and put them in her shawl, and began to twist a rope of the ends of it to tie them up. And at that moment she was taken up, and where she found herself was in Gaiway, sitting in the Square. And she had no money, and she began to think of the friends she had there and to say, "If they knew where I was they'd give me money to bring me back." And in those days there was a coach that ran from Galway to Kiltartan, and she found herself in it, and it starting, and it left her safe and sound again at home.
There was a girl at Tyrone was bringing back some apples out of the garden there. And on the road she met a man, and she thought that he was one of the old St. Georges, and he asked where did she get the apples, and bid her put them down in the road, and when she opened the bundle they were all turned to eggs. So she put them up again and brought them home, and when she and her mother looked at them in the house they were beginning to crack, and the chickens to put their beaks through them; so they put them in the corner of the kitchen for the night, and in the morning when they went to look at them they were all turned to apples again, but they thought best not to eat them.
A Munster Woman:
There was a woman I knew in County Limerick, near Foynes--Mrs. Doolan, a nurse. She was called out of bed one night by a small man with a lamp, and he led her to a place she had never seen before, and into a house, and there was a woman m a bed and the child was born after she came. And I always heard her say it was a faery she attended. And the man led her back and gave her a sovereign, and bid her change it before sunrise.
And I know a boy lived on Lord Dunraven's property, one of a family of large farmers, and he had a settle-bed in the kitchen, and one night he saw the kitchen full of them, and they making up the fire and cooking, and they set out the table and ate at it.
I often heard they'd fight in November at the time of harvest, and my father told me that in the year of the famine there was great fighting heard up in the sky, and they were crying out, "Black potatoes, black potatoes, we'll have them now." I suppose it was one tribe of them fighting against another for them. And the oats in that year were all black as well as the potatoes.
A Clare Man:
I saw them myself one night I was going to Ennis with a load of straw. It was when we came to Bunnahow and the moon was shining, and I was on the top of the load of straw, and I saw them in a field. Just like jockeys they were, and riding horses, red clothes and caps they had like a jockey would have, but they were small. They had a screen of bushes put up in the field and some of the horses would jump over it, and more of them would baulk when they'd be put to it. The men that were with me didn't see them, they were walking in the road, but they heard the sound of the horses.
Another Clare Man:
I heard a churning one time in the hill up by the road beyond. I was coming back from Kinvara, and I heard it plain, no mistake about it. I was sorry after I didn't call down and ask for a drink. Johnny Moon did so, and got it. If you wish for a drink and they put it out for you, it's no harm to take it, but if you refuse it, some harm might happen to you. Johnny Henderson often told that he heard churning in that spot, but I wouldn't believe the sun rising from him, he had so many lies. But after that, I said, "Well, Johnny Henderson has told the truth for once anyhow."
There was Tom Gantly one evening was going to Coole, and he heard a step behind him and it followed him every bit of the way, till he got to the hall door of Coole House; but he could see nothing.
He saw a gig one night on the road there by the wall and it full of ladies laughing and grandly dressed-the best of hats and feathers they had. And it turned and passed him a second time. And with the fright he got, he never would pass that bit of road by himself again.
There were two men went one night to catch rabbits in that field you have Jet now to Father Fahy, and the one next it. And when they were standing there they heard a churning below. So they went on a little way, and they heard a tambourine below, music going on and the beating of a drum. So they moved a little farther on and then they heard the sound of a fiddle from below. So they came home and caught no rabbits that night.
May is a great time with these strangers, and November is a bad month for them, and this month you're in now. I was trying the other day in the town to get a marriage made up for a girl that was seduced-and the family wouldn't have it this month because of that.
One night on the Kiltartan road I saw a flock of wool by the road side, and I gave a kick at it and it didn't move, and then another kick and it didn't move. So it can have been no natural thing.
And Lee told me that one night he saw red men riding through the country and going over ditches.
* * *
One time I was sick in the bed and I heard music, and I sat up and said: "Is it music I hear, or is it the squealing of pigs?" And they all said they could hear nothing. But I could hear it for a long time, and it the grandest I ever heard-and like a melodeon. And as to the tune, I couldn't tell what it was but I know that I had heard it before.
A Kerry Piper:
One time in Kerry there was a coach coming after me and it passed beside me, and I saw with it Mrs. Mitchell from the big house. And when it came near the bridge it sank into the earth, and I saw no more of it.
And one time I was at Ennistymon I saw the ass-car and the woman and the man out before me. I had a little ass of my own at that time, and I followed them thinking to overtake them, but when I was in the hollow they were on the hill, and when I was on the hill they were in the hollow. And when they got near to the bridge that is over the big river, they were not to be seen. For they can never cross over a mering (boundary) that is a nver.
One time I was at a party and I didn't leave the house till 2 o'clock so you may think it was late in the night before I got home. And after a while I looked back and I saw someone coming after me, a little old woman about so high (3 feet) and she wearing a white cap with a frilled border, and a red square and a red flannel petticoat. I set off to run when I saw her, for at that time I had the run of a hare, but when I got near home I looked back and she was after me still. When I got inside the door I fell on my two knees. And it was seven years before I got the better of that fright. And from that time to this I never got the run again that I used to have.
There was a respectable woman, Mrs. Gaynor, living in Cloon, told me that whenever she went out of Cloon in the direction of Fiddane in one part of the road there was a woman sometimes met her that she saw at no other time, and every time she'd meet her she'd spit in her face.
There is a family at Tirneevan and they were having a wed-ding there. And when it was going on, the wine ran short, and the spirits ran out and they didn't know what to do to get more, Gort being two miles away. And two or three strange people came in that they had never seen before. And when they found what was wanting they said that they'd go get it. And in a few minutes they were back with the spirits and the wine-and no place to get it nearer than Gort.
There was a herd's house up at Burren that no one could live in. But one Holland from Tirneevan said he'd take the place, and try how would he get on there. So he went with his family, and the first day the daughter made the place clean and swept it' and then she went out for a can of milk. And when she was coming in the door, it was knocked out of her hand and spilled over her. And that evening when they sat down to their supper the door opened and eight or nine people came in, and a red man among them. And they sat down and ate. And then they showed Holland one side of the room, and bid him to keep it always clean, and spring water in it.
There was a man woke about three o'clock one morning and he bade the servant girl go down and make the fire and put on the potatoes, where he had to be going out early. So she went down and there she saw one of them sitting by the hearth in the kitchen. So she ran upstairs with the fright she got to where the man 'vas in bed with his wife. So then he went down himself, and he saw one of them sure enough sitting by the fire and he asked "How did you come in?" And he said, "By the lock-hole of the door." And the man said, "There's the pot full of potatoes and you might as well have used a few of them." And he said, 'We have them used already; and you think now they are potatoes, but when you put the pot down on the fire you'll see they are no more than horse dung."
One night my father was beyond on the other side of the lake, going to watch an otter where the water goes away underground. And he heard voices talking, and he thought one was the voice of Father Nagle the parish priest of Kilbecanty, and the other the voice of Father Hynes from Cloon that does be late out fishing for eels. And when he came to where the voices were, there was no one at all in it. And he went and sat in the cave, where the water goes under, and there was a great noise like as il planks were being thrown down overhead. And you may think how frightened he was when he never took off his boots to cross the river, but run through it just as he was and never stopped tiil he got to the house.
Two men I saw one time over in Inchy. I was sitting milking the cow and she let a snore and I looked up and I saw the two men, small men, and their hands and their feet the smallest ever I saw, and hats turned back on their beads, but I did not see their faces. Then the cow rose her foot, and I thought, "it will be worse for me if she'll put her foot down on me," and I looked at her, and when I looked up again they were gone. Mrs. Stafford told me it was not for me they came, but for the cow, Blackberry, that died soon after.
There was a man in Gort was brought for a while to Tir-na-Og, that is a part of heaven.
McGarrity that was coming back one night to the new house beyond the lake saw two children, two little girls they were, standing beside the house. Paddy told me that, and he said they came there to foretell him he was stopping there too late.
I never saw them nor felt them all my life, and I walking the place night and day, except one time when for twelve nights I slept in the little house beyond, in the kitchen garden where the apples were being robbed that time because there was no one living at home. In the night-time in the loft above my head I used to hear a scratching and a scraping, and one time a plank that was above in it began to move about. But I had no fear but stopped there, but I did not put off my clothes nor stretch myself on the bed for twelve nights. They say that one man that slept in the same house was found in the morning choked in his bed and the door locked that they had to burst it in.
And in old Richard Gregory's time there was one Horan slept there, and one night he ran out of it and out of the Gort gate and got no leave to put his clothes on. But there's some can see those things and more that can't, and I'm one of those that can't. Walking Coole demesne I am these forty years, days and nights, and never met anything worse than myself.
But one night standing by the vinery and the moon shining, on a sudden a wind rose and shook the trees and rattled the glass and the slates, and no wind before, and it stopped as sudden as it came. And there were two bunches of grapes gone, and them that took them by the chimney and no other way.
One night since I lived here I found late at night that a black jennet I had at that time bad strayed away. So I took a lantern and went to look for him, and found him near Doherty's house at the bay. And when I took him by the halter, I put the light out and led him home. But surely as I walked there was a footstep behind me all the way home.
I never rightly believed in them till I met a priest about two years ago coming out from the town that asked his way to Mrs. Canan's, the time she was given over, and he told me that one time his horse stopped and wouldn't pass the road, and the man that was driving said, "I can't make him pass." And the priest said, "It will be the worse for you, if I have to come down into the road." For he knew some bad thing was there. And he told me the air is full of them. But Father Dolan wouldn't talk of such things, very proud he is, and he coming of no great stock.
One night I was driving outside Goole gate--close to where the Ballinamantane farm begins. And the mare stopped, and I got off the car to lead her, but she wouldn't go on. Two or three times I made her start and she'd stop again. Something she must have seen that I didn't see.
Beasts will sometimes see more than a man will. There were three young chaps I knew went up by the river to hunt coneens one evening, and they threw the dog over the wall. And when he was in the field he gave a yelp and drew back as if something frightened him.
Another time my father was going early to some place, and my mother had a noggin of turnips boiled for him that night before, to give him something to eat before he'd start. So they got up very early and she lighted the fire and put the oven hanging over it for to warm the turnips, and then she went back to bed again. And my father was in a hurry and he went out and brought in a sheaf of wheaten straw to put under the oven, the way it would make a quick blaze. And when he came in, the oven had been taken off the hook, and was put standing in the hearth, and no mortal had been there. So he was afraid to stop, and he went back to the bed, and till daybreak they could hear something that was knocking against the pot. And the servant girl that was in the house, she awoke and heard quick steps walking to the stable, and the door of it giving a screech as if it was being opened. But in the morning there was no sign there or of any harm being done to the pot.
Then the girl remembered that she had washed her feet the night before, and had never thought to throw out the water. And it's well known to wash the feet and not to throw the water out, brings some harm--except you throw fire into the vessel it stands in.
Late one night I was out walking, and a gun in my hand, and I was going down a little avenue of stones, and I heard after me the noise of a horse's steps. So I stopped and sat down on the stile, for I thought, the man that's with the horse, I'll have his company a bit of the way. But the noise got louder like as if it was twenty horses coming, and then I was knocked down, and I put out my foot to save the gun from being broken. But when I got up there was no hurt on me or on the gun, and the noise was all gone, and the place quiet. It was maybe four years after that or six, I was walking the same path with the priest and a few others, for a whale had come ashore, and the jaw-bones of it were wanted to make the piers of a gate. And the priest said to me, "Did you ever hear of the battle of Troy?" "I didn't hear but I read about it," says I. "Well," says he, "there was a man at that time called Simon, and they found that whenever he came out with them to fight there was luck with them, and when he wasn't with them, there'd be no luck. And that's why we put you in front of us, to lead us on the path, you having the same name." So that put it in my head, and I told him about what happened that night, and I said, "Now would you believe that?" "I would," says he. "And what are such things done by?" says I. "The fallen angels," he said, "for they have power to do such things and to raise wind and storm, but yet they have the hope of salvation at the last."
* * *
One clear night and the moon shining, I was walking home down this road) and I had a strong dog at that time. And just here where you stand he began to bark at something and he made rushes at it, and made as if he was worrying it) but I could see nothing, though if it had been even the size of a rat I must have seen it, the night was so clear. And I had to leave him at last and heard him barking and I was at the house-door before he came up with me.
I know a good many on the island have seen those, but they wouldn't say what they are like to look at, for when they see them their tongue gets like a stone.
Mrs. Hynes of Slieve Echtge:
When you see a blast of wind pass, pick a green rush and throw it after them, and say, 'God speed you." There they all are, and maybe the stroke lad at the end of them.
There was a neighbour of mine in late with me one night, and when he was going home, just as he passed that little road you see, a big man came over the wall in front of him, and was growing bigger as he went, till he nearly fainted with the fright he got.
They can do everything. They can raise the wind, and draw the storm.
And to Drogheda they go for wine, for the best wine is in the cellars there.
One night I and another lad were coming along the road, and the dog began to fight, as if he was fighting another dog, but we could see nothing and we called him off but he wouldn't come. And when we got home he answered us, and he seemed as if tired out.
There was a strange woman came to this island one day and told some of the women down below what would happen to them. And they didn't believe her, she being a stranger, but since that time, it's all been coming true.
I knew a woman that every night after she went to bed used to see some sort of a shadow that used to appear to her. So she went to some old woman, and she told her to sprinkle holy water about and to put a blackthorn stick beside her bed. So she got the stick and put it there and sprinkled the holy water, and it never appeared since then. Three sorts of holy water she got, from the priest and from the friars and from some blessed well. And she has them in three pint bottles in the window, and she'd kill you if you so much as looked at them.
I never saw anything myself, but one day I was going over the fields near Killeen, and it the quietest day of summer you ever saw. And all of a sudden I heard a great noise like thunder, and a blast of wind passed by me that laid the thistles low, and then all was quiet again. It might be that they were changing, for they change from place to place.
I would not give in to faeries myself but for one thing. There was a little boy of my own, and there was a wedding going to be here, and there was no bread in the house, and none to be had in Kilcolgan, and I bade him to go to Kinvara for bread. I pulled out the ass-car for him and he set out.
And from that time he was never the same, and now he is in the asylum at Ballinasbe.
Did he tell what happened? He never told me anything, but he told a neighbour that he met awful looking people on the road to Kinvara just about midnight, and that whatever they did to him, he could never recover it.
Often and often I heard things. A great shouting I heard one night inside Coole demesne--a hurling it must have been. Another time I was passing at night-time, near Reed the weaver's, and there were rocks thrown at me all along the road, but they did not touch me, and I could not see any one thing there. But I never went that road again at night-time.
It's said those that die are left in the place where they lived to do their penance. Often and often when I came to that house below, I felt knocks under the bed, and like some one walking over it.
Two men I know were going from Gort one night, and there near the wall of the demesne they saw two men ploughing, and they asked one another what could they be to be ploughing by night. And then they saw that as they ploughed, the land was going away from them, and they were gone themselves, and they saw them no more.
An Old Woman who was Housekeeper to the Donnellans:
I'll tell you how the fortune of the family began.
It was Tully O'Donnellan was riding home from Ballinasbe, or some other place, and it was raining, and he came to a river that was in flood, and there used to be no bridges in those times. And when he was going to ride through the river, he saw the greasa leprechaun on the bank, and he offered him a lift, and he stooped down and lifted him up behind him on the horse.
And when he got near where the castle was, he saw it in flames before him. And the leprechaun said, "Don't fret after it but build a new castle in the place I'll show you, about a stone's throw from the old one." "I have no money to do that," said Tully Donnellan. "Never mind that," said the leprechaun, "but do as I bid you, and you'll have plenty." So he did as he bade him, and the morning after he went to live in the new castle, when he went into that room that has the stone with his name on it now, it was full up of gold, and you could be turning it like you'd turn potatoes into a shovel. And when the children would go into the room with their father and mother, the nurses would put bits of wax on their shoes, the way bits of the gold would stick to them. And they had great riches and smothered the world with it, and they used to shoe their horses with silver. It was in racing they ran through it, and keeping hounds and horses and horns.
Old Pegs Kelly:
I seen the Sheogue but once, and that was five or six years ago, and I walking the railway where I was looking after my little hens that do be straying. And I saw them coming along, and in a minute I was in the middle of them. Shavings, and shavings, and shavings going along the road as fast as they could go. And I knew there was no shavings to be seen this many year, since the stakes were made for the railway down at Nolan's, and the carpenter that made them dead, and the shop where he made them picked clean. And I knew well they were the horses the Sheogue did be riding. But some that saw them said they looked like bits of paper. And I threw three stones after them and I heard them cry out as they went. And that night the roof was swept off Tom Dermot's house in Ryanrush and haystacks blown down. And John Brady's daughter that was daft those many years was taken, and Tom Horan's little girl that was picking potatoes, she and her brothers together. She turned black all of a minute and three days after, she was dead.
That's the only time I seen them, and that I never may again, for believe me that time I had my enough, thinking as I did that I hadn't more than three minutes to live.
A Herd's Wife:
Martin's new wife is a fine big woman, if she is lucky. But it's not a lucky house. That's what happened the last wife that lost her baby and died. William Martin knows well they are in it, but he is a dark man and would say nothing. I saw them myself about the house one time, and I met one on the forth going through the fields; he had the appearance of a man in his clothes. And sometimes when I look over at Martin's house there is a very dark look like a dark cloud over it and around it.
The other Army Man:
The faeries are all fallen angels. Father Folan told us from the altar that they're as thick as the sands of the sea all about us, and they tempt poor mortals. But as for carrying away women and the like, there's many that says so, but they have no proof. But you have only to bid them begone and they will go. One night myself I was after walking back from Kinvara, and down by the wood beyond I felt one coming beside me, and I could feel the horse that he was riding on and the way that he lifted his legs, but they didn't make a sound like the hoofs of a horse. So I stopped and turned around and said very loud "Be off!" And he went and never troubled me after. And I knew a man that was dying, and one came up on his bed and he cried out to it, "Get out of that, you unnatural animal!" And it left him. There's a priest I heard of that was looking along the ground like as if he was hunting for something, and a voice said to him "If you want to see them you'll see enough of them," and his eyes were opened and he saw the ground thick with them. Singing they do be sometimes and dancing, but all the time they have the cloven foot.
Fallen angels they are, and after they fell God said, "Let there be Hell, and there it was in a moment"--("God save us! It's a pity He said that word and there might have been no Hell today" murmurs the wife). And then He asked the devil what would he take for the souls of all the people. And the devil said nothing would satisfy him but the blood of a Virgin's Son. So he got that and then the gates of Hell were opened.
I never seen anything, although one night I was out after a cow till 2 o'clock in the morning and old Gantly told me he wondered at me to be out in this place, by the wood near the white gate where he saw a thing himself one night passing. But it's only them that's living in mortal sin can see such things, that's so Thomas, whatever you may say. But your ladyship's own place is middling free from them, but Ratlin's full of them.
And there's many say they saw the banshee, and that if she heard you singing loud, she'd be very apt to bring you away with her.
There was an old priest I knew--Father McManus--and when he would go walking in the green lawn before the house, his man, Keary, would go with him, and he carrying three sticks. And after a while the priest would say, "Cur do maide"--Fire your stick--as far as you can, and he would throw it. And he would say the same thing a second and a third time, and after that he would say, "We have no more to protect us now," and he would go in. And another priest I was talking to the other day was telling me they are between earth and air and the grass is full of them.
There was a boy I knew at Tyrone was a great card player. And one night about 10 o'clock he was coming home from a party, and he had the cards in his hands and he shuffling them as he went along. And presently he saw a man before him on the road, and the man stopped till he came up, and when he saw the cards, he says "Stop here and I'll have a game with you," for the moon was shining bright. So the boy sat down, and the stranger asked him had he any money, and he said he had five shillings after the night's play. "Well," says the man, "we'll play the first game for half-a-crown." So they sat down and put out the money on a flagstone that was much like a table, and they began to play, and the first game was won by the stranger. "Well now," says he, "we'll have another." So the boy began to shuffle the cards, but as he did, one card dropped on the ground, and he stooped down for it, and when he did, he saw the man's feet that were partly under the flagstone, and they were like the feet of a cow. So with the fright he got, he jumped up and began to run and never stopped till he got inside his house and had the door shut. And when he had been sitting there a few minutes, a knock came to the door, and he heard the voice of the stranger say, "It's well for you you ran away when you did, or you'd be where I am now." And he heard no more; it was the boy himself told me this.
I hear them in this house ever since the first night I came, in the kitchen, when all are in bed. Footsteps, I wouldn't think so much of, but scraping the potatoes, that's another thing.
A daughter I had that went to America died there, and the brother that came back told me that he was with her, and she going, and surely they all heard the jennet coming to the door, and when they opened it, there was nothing there, and many people standing and waiting about it. I knew a woman died beyond in Boher and left a house full of children and the night she died there was a light seen in the sick house.
To leave a few cold potatoes, the first of them, outside, you should surely do it, and not to leave the house without spring water. I knew a boy that was sleeping up in the loft of a house and one night they had forgotten to leave water within in the kitchen. And about midnight he awoke and he saw through a hole in the loft two women, and one of them just after having a baby. And they said, "What way will we wash the child, and no water here; we must take the pan of milk down from the shelf." So the boy said out loud the way they'd hear him, "I must go for spring water. I forgot to leave it below." So he went and got it and left it there, and let on not to see them. And--for I forget what time after that--there was no morning he put his clothes on but he'd find a half-crown in his boot. To do you harm? No, but the best of neighbours they are, if you don't chance to offend them.
In Donegal one night some of the people were at a still in the mountains, and on a sudden they heard a shot fired, and they thought it was a signal given to the police) and they made home to the village. And all the night they could hear like the tramp of horses and of police and the noise of cars passing by, but nothing could be seen. And next day the police came in earnest, and searched about the place where they had been at work at the still, but no one was there and they found nothing. So they knew it was a warning they were after being given.
One day old Fogarty of Clough was cutting rods in Coole with a black-handled knife, and he put it in his pocket, and presently he felt for it and it was gone. But when he went home and went into the house, there was the knife lying on the table.
My wife's brother was on a cock of hay in that field beyond one tune, and he sat down to rest and he saw them hurling in red caps and blue, and a crowd looking in at them. But he said nothing to the men that were with him. They are mostly in foiths and lonesome places.
An old man, Kelleher, living in the Wicklow Mountains, told me and W. B. Yeats and Miss Pollexfen:
I often saw them when I had my eyesight; one time they came about me, shouting and laughing and there were spouts of water all around me. And I thought that I was coming home, but I was not on the right path and couldn't find it and went wandering about, but at last one of them said, "Good-evening, Kelleher," and they went away, and then in a moment I saw where I was by the stile. They were very small, like little boys and girls, and had red caps.
I always saw them like that, but they were bigger at the butt of the river; they go along the course of the rivers. Another time they came about me playing music and I didn't know where I was going, and at last one of them said the same way, "Good evening, Kelleher," and I knew that I was at the gate of the College; it is the sweetest music and the best that can be heard, like melodeons and fifes and whistles and every sort.
Mrs. Kelleher says: I often hear that music too, I hear them playing drums.
K: We had one of them in the house for a while, it was when I was living up at Ticnock, and it was just after I married that woman there that was a nice slip of a girl at that time. It was in the winter and there was snow on the ground, and I saw one of them outside, arid I brought him in and put him on the dresser, and he stopped in the house for a while, for about a week.
Mrs. K: It was more than that, it was two or three weeks.
K: Ah! maybe it was--I'm not sure. He was about fifteen inches high. He was very friendly. It is likely he slept on the dresser at night. When the boys at the public-house were full of porter, they used to come to the house to look at him, and they would laugh to see him but I never let them hurt him. They said I would be made up, that he would bring me some riches, but I never got them. We had a cage here, I wish I had put him in it, I might have kept him till I was made up.
Mrs. K: It was a cage we had for a thrush. We thought of putting him into it, but he would not have been able to stand in it.
K: I'm sorry I didn't keep him--I thought sometimes to bring him into Dublin to sell him.
Mrs. K: You wouldn't have got him there.
K: One day I saw another of the kind not far from the house, but more like a girl and the clothes greyer than his clothes, that were red. And that evening when I was sitting beside the fire with the Missus I told her about it, and the little lad that was sitting on the dresser called out, "That's Geoffrey-a-wee that's coming for me," arid he jumped down and went out of the door and I never saw him again. I thought it was a girl I saw, but Geoffrey wouldn't be the name of a girl, would it?
He had never spoken before that time. Somehow I think that he liked me better than the Missus. I used to feed him with bread and milk.
Mrs. K: I was afraid of him--I was afraid to go near him, I thought he might scratch my eyes out--I used to leave bread and milk for him but I would go away while he was eating it.
K: I used to feed him with a spoon, I would put the spoon to his mouth.
Mrs. K: He was fresh-looking at the first, but after a while he got an old look, a sort of wrinkled look.
K: He was fresh-looking enough, he had a hardy look.
Mrs. K: He was wearing a red cap and a little red cloth skirt.
K: Just for the world like a Highlander.
Mrs. K: He had a little short coat above that; it was checked and trousers under the skirt and long stockings all red. And as to his shoes, they were tanned, and you could hardly see the soles of them, the sole of his foot was like a baby's.
K: The time I lost my sight, it was a Thursday evening, and I was walking through the fields. I went to bed that night, and when I rose up in the morning, the sight was gone. The boys said it was likely I had walked on one of their paths. Those small little paths you see through the fields are made by them.
They are very often in the quarries; they have great fun up there, and about Peacock Well. The Peacock Well was blessed by a saint, and another well near, that cures the headache.
I saw one time a big grey bird about the cowhouse, and I went to a comrade-boy and asked him to come and to help me to catch it, but when we came back it was gone. It was very strange-looking and I thought that it had a head like a man.
I never saw them except what I told you, the dog fighting, and I heard the horses, and at that same time I saw smoke coming out of the ground near Foley's house at Corker, by the gate.
My mother lived for twenty years in Coole, and she often told me that when she'd pass Shanwalla hill there would people come out and meet her and--with respects to you--they'd spit in her face.
Faeries of course there are and there's many poor souls doing their penance, and how do we know where they may be doing it?
I might not believe myself there are such things but for what happened not long after I was married when my first little girl was but a week old. I had gone up to Ballybrit to tie some sheep and put fetters on them, and I was waiting for Haverty to come and help me tie them. The baby was a little unwell that day but I was not uneasy about her. But while I was waiting for Haverty, a blast of wind came through the field and I heard a voice say quite clear out of it "Katie is gone." That was the little one, we had called her Catherine, but though she wasn't a week in the world, we had it shortened already to Kate. And sure enough, the child got worse, and we attended her through the night, and before daybreak she was gone.
An Army Man:
Two nights ago a travelling man came and knocked at John Hanlon's house at 11 o'clock, where he saw a light in the window and he asked would there be any one out hurling so late as that For in coming by the field beyond the chapel he saw it full of people, some on horses, and hurling going on, and they were all dressed like soldiers, and you would hear their swords clinking as they ran. And he was not sure were they faeries till he asked John Hanlon was it the custom of people in this country to go hurling so late as that. But that was always a great field for them. From eleven to two, that is the time they have for play, but they must go away before the cock crows. And the cock will crow sometimes as early as 1 o'clock, a right one.
It was in the night that Christ our Saviour rose there were some Jews sitting around the fire, and a cock boiling in the pot. And one of them said, "He'll never rise again until that cock crows." And the cock rose out of the pot and crowed, and he that was speaking got scalded with the water that was splashed about.
A Connemara Man:
One night I was sleeping over there by the dresser and I heard them ("Would you say the day of the week," says the old woman. "It's Thursday," said I. "Thank you," says the old man, and goes on) I heard them thick all about the house--but what they were saying I couldn't know.
The Old Woman:
It was my uncle that was away at nights and knew the time his horse fell in the ditch, and he out at sea. And another day he was working at the bridge and he said, "Before this day is over, a man will be killed here." And so it happened, and a man was killed there before 12 o'clock. He was in here one day with me, and I said, "I don't give in to you being away and such things." And he says: "Urn, Um, Um," three times, and then he says, "May your own living be long." We had a horse, the grandest from this to Galway, had a foal when in this place-and before long, both horse and foal died. And I often can hear them galloping round the house, both horse and foal. And I not the only one, but many in the village even hear them too.
Young Mrs. Phelan:
Often I saw a light in the wood at Derreen, above Ballytum. It would rise high over the trees going round and round. I'd see it maybe for fifteen minutes at a time, and then it would fall like a lamp.
In the month of May is their chief time for changing, and it's then there's blowing away of hay and such things and great disturbance.
A Mayo Man:
One time I was led astray in a town, in Golden Hill in Staffordshire. I was in the streets and I didn't know what way to turn all of a sudden, and every street looked like a wood before me, and so I went on until I met some man I knew, and I asked him where I was, and I went in, and stayed drinking with the others till 10 o'clock and I went home sober.
I saw the white rabbit too at Golden Hill. (One of the other men puts in, "There is always a white rabbit seen there, that turns into a woman before any misfortune happens, such as an accident.") I was walking along the road, and it ran beside me, and then I saw a woman in white before me on the road, and when I got to her, she was gone. And that evening a woman in a house nearby fell dead on her own doorstep.
Another time near this, I was passing the barn where Johnny Rafferty the carpenter and his son used to be working, but it was shut and locked and no one in it. But when I came near it, I felt as if I was walking on wood, and my hair stood up on my head, and I heard the noise of tools, and hammering and sawing in it.
Old Doran told me that he was near Castle Hacket one time and saw them having a fair, buying and selling for all the world like ourselves, common people. But you or I or fifty others might have been there like him and not seen them. It's only them that are born at midnight that has the second sight.
Fallen angels, they say they are. And they'd do more harm than what they do but for the hope they have that some day they may get to heaven. Very small they are, and go into one another so that what you see might only be a sort of a little bundle. But to leave a couple of cold potatoes about at night one should always do it, and to sweep the hearth clean. Who knows when they might want to come in and warm themselves.
Not to keep the water you wash your feet in in the house at night, not to throw it out of the door where it might go over them, but to take it a bit away from the house, and if by any means you can, to keep a bit of light burning at night, if you mind these three things you'll never be troubled with them.
That woman of mine was going to Mass one day early and she met a small little man, and him with a book in his hand. "Where are you going?" says he. "To the chapel beyond," says she. "Well," says he, "you'd better take care not to be coming out at this hour and disturbing people," says he. And when she got into the chapel she saw him no more.
An Old Woman with Oysters from Tyrone:
Oh, I wouldn't believe in the faeries, but it's no harm to believe in fallen angels!
My own sons are all for education and read all books and they wouldn't believe now in the stories the old people used to tell. But I know one Finnegan and his wife that went to Esserkelly churchyard to cry over her brother that was dead. And all of a sudden there came a pelt of a stone against the wall of the old church and no one there. And they never went again, and they had no business to be crying him and it not a funeral.
Francis, my son that's away now, he was out one morning before the daybreak to look at a white heifer in the field. And there he saw a little old woman, and she in a red cloak--crying, crying, crying. But he wouldn't have seen that if he had kept to natural hours.
There were three girls near your place, and they went out one time to gather cow-dung for firing. And they were sitting beside a small little hill, and while they were there, they heard a noise of churning, churning, in the ground beneath them. And as they listened, all of a minute, there was a noggin of milk standing beside them. And the girl that saw it first said, "I'll not drink of it lest they might get power over me." But the other girl said,
"I'll bring it home and drink it." And she began to ridicule them. And because of she ridiculing them and not believing in them, that night in bed she was severely beaten so that she wasn't the better of it for a long time.
Often they'll upset a cart in the middle of the road, when there's no stone nor anything to upset it And my father told me that sometimes after he had made the hay up into cocks, and on a day without a breath of wind, they'd find it all in the next field lying in wisps. One time too the cart he was driving went over a leprechaun--and the old woman in the cart had like to faint.
Mr. Hosty of Slieve Echtge:
I never would have believed the shadow of a soul could have power, till that hurling match I saw that I told you about.
It was in the old time it happened, that there was war in heaven. He that was called the brightest of the angels raised himself up against God. And when they were all to be thrown out, St. Michael spoke up for them for he saw that when the heavens were weeded out they'd be left without company. So they were stopped in the falling, in the air and in the earth and in the sea. And they are about us sure enough, and whenever they'll be saved I don't know, but it is not for us to say what God will do in the end.
I often heard that our winter is their summer-sure they must have some time for setting their potatoes and their oats. But I remember a very old man used to say when he saw the potatoes black, that it was to them they were gone. "Sure" he used to say, "the other world must have its way of living as well as ourselves."
Dolan I was talking to the other day, and I asked him if faeries used not to be there. And he said, "They're in it yet. There where you're standing, they were singing and dancing a few nights ago. And the same evening I saw two women down by the lake and I thought it was the ladies from the house gone out for a walk, but when I came near, it was two strange women I saw, sitting there by the lake, and their wings came, and they vanished into the air."
I was cutting trees in Inchy one time. And at 8 o'clock one morning when I got there, I saw a girl picking nuts with her hair hanging down over her shoulders, brown hair, and she had a good clean face and was tall and nothing on her head, and her dress was no way gaudy, but simple. And when she felt me coming, she gathered herself up and was gone as if the earth had swallowed her up. And I followed her and looked for her, but I never could see her again from that day to this, never again.
There was a herd's house near Loughrea that had a bad name; and a strange woman came in one time and told the woman of the house that she must never throw dirty water out of the back-door. "For," said she, "if you had clean linen hanging there on a line before the fire, how would you like any one to come in and to throw dirty water over it?" And she bid her leave food always on the dresser. "For," said she, "wherever you leave it we'll be able to find it." And she told how they often went into Loughrea to buy things, and provisions, and would look like any other person, and never be known, for they can make themselves visible or invisible as they like. You might be talking to one of them and never know she was different from another. At our place there used to be a good many of these people about, these Ingentry women or women from the North we sometimes call them. There was one came into the house one day and told my mother she didn't get all her butter in the nulk. And she told her the servant-girl was stealing and hiding some of it, for in these days servants were cheap and we kept a couple; you'd get them for about five shillings a quarter. And my mother went to look, and then she went out of the house, and went off in a minute in a blast. And the husband that was coming into the house, he never saw her at all, and she going out of the door.
Sunset is a bad hour, and just before sunrise in the morning, and about 12 o'clock in the day, it's best not to be too busy or going about too much.
An Aran Man:
Sometimes they travel like a cloud, or like a storm. One day I was setting out the manure in my own garden and they came and rolled it in a heap and tossed it over the wall, and carried it out to sea beyond the lighthouse.
People say two days of the week, they name two days. Some say Thursday, and some say whatever day it is, and the day before it, and then they can't be heard. In the village beyond, there were a good many people in a house one night, and lights in it, and talking, and of a sudden some one opened the door-and there outside and round the house they were listening to them-and when the door was open they were all seen, and made off as thick as crows to the forth near the Burren hills.
There was one Ward was walking one night near Castle Taylor, and in that big field that's near the corner where Burke was murdered he saw a big fire, and a lot of people round about it, and among them was a girl he used to know that had died.
Last week in that field beyond there, the hay was all taken up, and turned into the next field in wisps.
You must put the potatoes out for them before they are put on the table, for they would not touch them if they had been touched by common persons.
And I saw Horan that had the orchard here bought run to our house in the middle of the night naked with nothing on but his trousers, where he was after being beat out of the house in the kitchen garden. Every night when he was going to bed there did a knocking come in the loft over his head, but he gave no attention to it. But a great storm Came and a great lot of the apples was blown down and he gathered them up and filled the loft with them, thinking when he showed them to get compensation. And that is the night he was beat out of bed. And John Phelan knows well what things used to be in that house.
My father? Yes indeed he saw many things, and I tell you a thing he told me, and there's no doubt in the earthly world about it. It was when they lived at Inchy they came over here one time for to settle a marriage for Murty Delvin's aunt. And when they had the business settled, they were going home again at dead of night. And a man was after getting married that day, one Delane from beyond Kilmacduagh, and the drag was after passing the road with him and his party going home. And all of a minute the road was filled with men on horses riding along, so that my father had to take shelter in Delane's big haggard by the roadside. And he heard the horsemen calling on Delane's name. And twenty-one days after, Delane lay dead.
There's no doubt at all about the truth of that, and they were no riders belonging to this world that were on those horses.
There was a woman walking in the road that had a young child at home, and she met a very old man, having a baby in his arms. And he asked would she give it a drop of breast-milk. So she did, and gave it a drink. And the old man said: "It's well for you that you did that, for you saved your cow by it. But tomorrow look over the wall into the fields of the rich man that lives beyond the boundary, and you'll see that one of his was taken in the place of yours." And so it happened.
In the old times there used to be many stories of such things, half the world seemed to be on the other side.
I used not to believe in them myself, until one night I heard them hurling. I was coming home from town with Jamsie Flann; we were not drunk but we were hearty. Coming along the road beyond we heard them hurling in the field beside us. We could see nothing but we'd hear them hit the ball, and it fly past us like the lightning, so quick, and when they hit the goal, we heard a moan-"Oh! ah! "--that was all. But after we went a little way we sat down by a little hill to rest, and there we heard a thousand voices talking. What they said, we couldn't understand, or the language, but we knew that it was one side triumphing over the other.
But the nights are queer--surely they are queer by sea or by land. There was a friend of mine told me he was out visiting one night, and coming home across the fields he came into a great crowd of them. They did him no harm, and among them he saw a great many he knew, that were dead, five or six out of our own village. And he was in his bed for two months after that, and he told the priest of it. He said he couldn't understand the talk, it was like the hissing of geese, and there was one very big man, that seemed the master of them, and his talk was like you'll hear in a barrel when it's being rolled.
There's a hill, Cruach-na-Sheogue down by the sea, and many have seen them there dancing in the moonlight.
There was a man told me he was passing near it one night, and the walls on each side of the road were all covered with people sitting on them, and he walked between, and they said nothing to him. And he knew many among them that were dead before that. Is it only the young go there? Ah, how do we know what use they may have for the old as well as for the young?
There are but few in these days that die right. The priests know about this more than we do, but they don't like to be talking of them because they might be too big in our minds.
They are just the same in America as they are here, and my sister that came home told me they were, and the women that do cures, just like the woman at Clifden, or that woman you know of.
There was one she went to out there, and when you'd come in to ask a cure she'd be lulled into a sleep, and when she woke she'd give the cure. Away she was while the sleep lasted.
The Spinning Woman.
No, I never seen them myself, and I born and bred in the same village as Michael Barrett. But the old woman that lives with me, she does be telling me that before she came to this part she was going home one night, where she was tending a girl that was sick, and she had to cross a hill forth. And when she came to it, she saw a man on a white horse, and he got to the house before her, and the horse stopped at the back-door. And when she got there and went in, sure enough the girl was gone.
I never saw anything myself, but one night I was passing the boreen near Kinvara, and a tall man with a tall hat and a long coat came out of it. He didn't follow me, but he looked at me for a while, and then he went away.
And one time I saw the leprechaun. It's when I was a young woman and there was black frieze wanting at Ballylee, and in those days they all thought there could no black frieze be spun without sending for me. So I was coming home late in the evening. and there I saw him setting by the side of the road, in a hollow between two ridges. He was very small, about the height of my knee, and wearing a red jacket, and he went out of that so soon as he saw me. I knew nothing about him at that time. The boys say if I'd got a hold of his purse I'd be rich for ever. And they say he should have been making boots; but he was more in dread of me than I of him, and had his instruments gathered up and away with him in one second.
There used to be a lot of things seen, but someway the young people go abroad less at night, and I'm thinking the souls of some of those may be delivered by this time.
There was a boy looked out of the door, and he saw a woman milking the cow. But after, when he went to milk her, he found as much milk as ever there was.
There was a woman at Kilbecanty was out one evening and she saw a woman dressed in white come after her, and when she looked again she had disappeared into a hole in the wall. Small she must have grown to get into that. And for eleven days after that, she saw the same appearance, and after eleven days she died.
There was another woman lived at Kilbecanty, just beside the churchyard, you can see the house yet And one day she found a plate of food put in at the door, the best of food, meat and other things. So she ate it and the next day the same thing happened. And she told a neighbouring woman about it, and she left her door open, and a plate of food was left in to her that night. But when she saw it she was afraid to eat it, but took it and threw it out. And the next day she died. But the woman that ate the food, nothing happened to her.
There was one Halloran took that farm on the road beyond one time, but he locked the house up, not meaning to go and live in it yet a while, and he kept the key in his pocket. But one night late he was coming by and he saw a light in the window and looked in, and he saw a woman sitting by a fire she was after lighting. So he ran away and never went to live in the house after.
One night myself coming back from Kelly's I saw a man by the side of the road, and I knew him to be one Cuniff that had died a year before.
There were two men stealing apples in a garden, and when they tried to get out there was a soldier at the door with a sword in his hand. And at the door there he was still before them; so they had to leave the two bags of apples behind.
One night myself I was driving the jennet I had at that time to Cappagh and I went past a place one Halvey had bought and I saw a man having a white front to his shirt standing by the wall, and I said to myself, "Halvey is minding this place well," and I went on, and I saw the man following me, and the jennet let a roar and kicked at me, and at that time we passed a stile, and I saw him no more.
I don't know did old Michael see anything or was it in his head. But James, and brother that died, told me one time that he was crossing the way beyond from Brennan's, where the stones are. And there he saw a hurling going on. He never saw a field so full before. And he stood and watched them and wasn't a big frightened, but the dog that was with him shrank between his legs and stopped there.
And my father told me that one time he was stopping with my uncle up there near Mrs. Quaid's, in a house that's pulled down since. And he woke up and saw the night so bright that he went out. And there he saw a hurling going on, and they had boots like soldiers and were all shining with the brightness of the night.
And Micky Smith God rest his soul saw them at midday passing in the air above Cahir, as thick as birds.
Niland that met the coach that time and saw them other times, he told me that there were two sets among them. The one handsome and tall and like the gentry; the others more like our-selves, he said. and short and wide, and the body starting out in front, and wide belts about their waists. Only the women he saw, and they were wearing white cans with borders, and their hair in curls over the forehead and check aprons and plaid shawls. They are the spiteful ones that would do you a mischief, and others that are like the gentry would do nothing but to laugh and criticize you.
One night myself I was outside Loughrea on the road, about 1 o'clock in the morning and the moon was shining. And I saw a lady, a true lady she was, dressed in a sort of a ball dress, white and short in the skirt, and off the shoulders. And she had long stockings and dancing shoes with short uppers. And she had a long thin face, and a cap on her head with frills, and every one of the frills was the breadth of my six fingers. As to flowers or such things, I didn't notice, for I was more fixed in looking at the cap. I suppose they wore them at balls in some ancient times. I followed her a bit, and then she cross the road to Johnny Flanigan the joiner's house, that had a gate with piers. And I went across after her, to have a better view, and when she got to the pier she shrank into it and there was nothing left.
Johnny Kelly that lives in Loughrea was over here one evening, where he had some cattle on the land at Coole. And where the river goes away, he saw two ladies sitting, ladies he thought them to be, and they had long dresses. And they rose up and went on to that hole where the water is and the trees. And there all of a sudden they rose a storm and went up in it, with a sort of a roar or a cry and passed away through the air.
And I was in the house with my wife and I heard the cry, and I thought it might be some drunken man going home, and it about 10 o'clock in the evening. And I went to the door, and presently Kelly came in and you'd have thought him a drunken man, walking and shaking as he did with the fright he got seeing them going off away in the storm.
I went over to see Kate Cloran the other day, knowing that she had seen some of these things. And she told me that she was led astray by them one time-a great lot of them, they were dressed in white blouses and black skirts and some of them had crimson mantles, but none of them had any covering on their head, and they had all golden hair and were more beautiful than any one she had ever seen.
And one night she met the coach and four, and it was full of ladies. letting the window up and down and laughing out at her. They had golden hair, or it looked so with the lights. They were dressed in white, and there were bunches of flowers about the horses' heads. Roses, chiefly, some pink and some blue. The coachmen were strange looking, you could not say if they were men or women-and their clothes were more like country clothes. They kept their heads down that she could not see their faces, but those in the carriage had long faces, and thin, and long noses.
They are of the same size as we are. People only call them diminutive because they are made so when they're sent on certain errands.
There was a man of Ardrahan used to see many things. But he lost his eyesight after. It often happens that those that see these things lose their earthly sight.
The coach and four is seen by many. It appears in different forms, but there is always the same woman in it. Handsome I believe she is, and white; and there she will always be seen till the end of the world.
It's best to be neighbourly with them anyway--best to be neighbourly.
There was a woman woke one night and she saw two women by the fire, and they came over and tried to take away her baby. But she held him and she nudged her husband with her arm, but he was fast asleep. And they tried him again, and all she could do wouldn't waken the husband, but still she had the baby tight, and she called out a curse in the devil's name. So then they went away, for they don't like cursing.
One night coming home from Madden's where I was making frames with him, I began to tremble and to shake, but I could see nothing. And at night there came a knocking at the window, and the dog I had that would fight any dog in Ireland began to shrink to the wall and wouldn't come out. And I looked out the door and saw him. Little clothes he had on, but on his head a quarter cap, and a sort of a bawneen about him. And I would have followed him, but the rest wouldn't let me.
Another time I was crossing over the stile behind Kiltartan chapel into Coole, and others along with me. And a great blast of wind came, and two trees were bent and broken and fell into the river, and the splash of water out of it went up to the skies. And those that were with me saw many figures, but myself I only saw one, sitting there by the bank where the trees fell, dark clothes he had, and he was headless.
They can take all shapes and it's said a pig is the worst, but I believe if you take no notice of them and bless yourself as they pass, they'll do you no harm at all.
There were two men walking by a forth that's beyond Cloon, and one of them must have been in it at some time, for he told the other to look through his arm, and when he looked he could see thousands of people about walking and driving, and ladies and gentry among them.
There was a man in Cloon and he was very religious and very devout and he didn't believe in anything. But one day he was at the Punch-bowl out on the Ennis road, and there he saw two coaches coming through the thick wood and they full of people and of ladies, and they went in to the bushes on the other side. And since he saw that he'd swear to them being there.
There was a woman living over near Tirneevan, and one morning three men came galloping up on three horses, and they stopped at the door and tied up the horses and walked in, and they strangers. And the woman put the tongs over the cradle where the baby was sleeping, for that is a pishogue. And when they saw the tongs, they looked at one another and laughed, but they did him no harm, but pulled out the table and sat down and played cards for a while, and went away again.
But if they're well treated, and if you know how to humour them, they're the best of neighbours.
There was a woman seen not long ago, all in white, and she standing in a stream washing her feet. But you need never be afraid of anything that's white.
There was a woman I know was away sometimes and used to go into a forth among them. She told me about it, and she said there was big and small among them as there are here. And they wore caps like hurling cans, all striped with blue and different colours, and their dress striped the same way.
A Seaside Man:
There was a girl below in Spiddal was coming home from Galway with her father, and just at the bridge below she saw the coach and four. Like a van it was, with horses, and full of gentlemen. And she tried to make her father see it' and he couldn't. And it passed along the road, and then turned down into a field, over the stones, and it got to the strand and ran along it for a while, and what became of it then I don't know. My father told me that one night he came from a wake, and in the field beyond, that was all a flag then, but the man that owns it has it covered with earth now, he saw about twelve ladies all in white, and they dancing round and round and a fiddler or a flute-player or whatever he was in the middle. And he thought they were some ladies from Spiddal, and called out to them that it was late to be out dancing. And he turned to open the door of the house, and while he was turning they were gone.
There was a man walking one night and he felt a woman come and walk behind him, and she all in white. And the two of them walked on till sunrise, and then a cock crowed, and the man said, "There's the cock crowing." And she said, "That's only a weak cock of the summer." And soon after another cock crowed, and he asked did she hear it, and she said, "That's but a poor cock of the harvest." And the third time a cock crowed and when the raaa asked her she said, "That's a cock of March. And you're as wise as the man that doesn't tell Friday's dream on Saturday." For if you dream on a Friday, you must never tell the dream of a Saturday.
My mother told me, and she wouldn't tell a lie, that one time she went to a wake at Ardrahan. And about 12 o'clock, the night being hot, she and her sister went out to the back of the house. And there they saw a lot of people running as hard as they could to the house, and knocking down the walls as they came to them, for there were a lot of small stones. And she said to her sister, "These must be all the first cousins corning, and there won't be room to sit in the house when they come in." So they hurried back. But no one ever came in or came to the door at all.
They are said to be outside the door there often. And some see them hurling, small they are then, and with grey coats and blue caps. And the car-driver told me--he wouldn't tell a lie--that he often passed them walking like soldiers through the hollow beyond.
An Old Man on Slieve Echtge:
One night I was walking on that mountain beyond, and a little lad with me, Martin Lehane, and we came in sight of the lake of Dairecaol. And in the middle of the lake I saw what was like the shadow of a tall fire tree, and while I was looking it grew to be like the mast of a boat. And then ropes and rigging came at the sides and I saw that it was a ship; and the boy that was with me, he began to laugh. Then I could see another boat, and then more and more till the lake was covered with them, and they moving from one side to another. So we watched for a while, and then we went away and left them there.
It's only a few days ago, I was coming through the field between this and the boreen, and I saw a man standing, a countryman you'd say he was. And when I got near him, all at once he was gone, and when I told Mrs. Raftery in the next house, she said she didn't wonder at that, for it's not very long ago she saw what seemed to be the same man, and he vanished in the same way.
There's a woman living up that road beyond, is married to a man of the Matthews, and last year she told me that a strange woman came into her house, and asked had she good potatoes. And she said she had. And the woman said: "You have them this year, but we'll have them next year." And she said: "When you go out of the house, it's your enemy you'll see standing outside," that was her near neighbour and was her worst enemy.
They'll often come in the night, and bring away the food. I wouldn't touch any food that had been lying about in the night, you wouldn't know what might have happened it. And my mother often told me, best not eat it, for the food that's cooked at night and left till the morning, they will have left none of the strength in it.
There was a hurling seen in a field near our house, little men they were in green with red caps, and a sergeant of police and his men that were going by stopped to ]ook at them, but Johnny Roland a boy I know, was standing in the middle of them all the time in the field, and never saw anything at all.
A North Galway Woman:
There was a man living over at Caramina, beyond Moyne, Dick Regan was his name, and one night he was walking over a little hill near that place. And when he got to the top of it, he found it like a fair green with all the people that were in it, and they buying and selling just like ourselves. And they did him no harm, but they put a basket of cakes into his hand and kept him selling them all the night. And when he got home, he told the story. And the neighbours when they heard it gave him the name of the cakes and to the day of his death he was called nothing but Richard Crackers.
There was a smith, and a man called on him late one evening, and asked him to shoe a horse for him and so he did. And then he offered him pay but he would take none. And the man took him out behind the house, and there were three hundred horses with riders on them, and a hundred without, and he said, "We want riders for those," and they went on.
An Aran Man:
A man that came over here from Connemara named Costello told me that one night he was making poteen, and a man on a white horse came up, and the horse put his head into the place they were making it, and then they rode away again. So he put a bottle of the whiskey outside the place, and in a little time he went and looked and it was empty. And then he put another bottle out, and in a little time he looked again, and it was empty. And then he put a third, but when he looked the whiskey in it had not been stirred. And he told me he never did so much with it or made so much profit as he did in that year.
They are everywhere. Tom Deruane saw them down under the rocks hurling and they were all wearing black caps. And sometimes you'd see them coming on the sea, just like a barrel on the top of the water, and when they'd get near you, no matter how calm the day, you'd have a hurricane about you. That is when they are taking their diversions. And one evening late I was down with the wife burning kelp on the rocks, where we had a little kiln made. And we heard a talking and a whispering about us on the rocks, and my wife thought it was the child that the sister was bringing down to her, and she said, "God bless the son!" but no one came, and the talking went on again, and she got uneasy, and at last we left the kelp and came home; and we weren't the first that had to leave it for what they heard in that place.
Fallen angels they are said to be. God threw a third part of them into Hell with Lucifer, and it was Michael that interceded for the rest, and then a third part was cast into the air and a third on the land and the sea. And here they are all about us as thick as grass.
A Needlewoman from North Galway Working at Coole:
Myself and Anne (one of the maids) went up the middle avenue after dark last night and we got a fright, seeing what we thought to be faeries. They were men dressed in black clothes like evening clothes, wearing white ruffles round their necks and high black hats without brims. Two walked in front and one behind, and they seemed to walk or march stiff like as if there was no bend in the leg. They held something in each hand and they stopped before the gate pier where there is a sort of cross in white like paint, then they disappeared and we turned and ran.
(When they were going up to bed, I am told, "Anne suddenly stopped under the picture of Mary Queen of Scots and called out, 'That is like the frill they wore' and sank down on the stairs in a kind of faint.")
One time at home I was out about dusk, and presently I heard a creaking, and a priest walked by reading his prayers. But when he came close I saw it was Father Ryan that was dead some time before. And I ran in and told a woman, who used to help in milking, what I had seen, and she said, "If it's Father Ryan you saw I don't wonder, for I saw him myself at the back of the door there only a week ago."
There was a boy was making a wall near Cruachmaa and a lot of them came and helped him, and he saw many neighbours that were dead among them. And when they had the wall near built another troop of them came runing and knocked it down. And the boy died not long after.
A Young Man:
My father told me that he was down one time at the north shore gathering wrack, and he saw a man before him that was gathering wrack too and stooping down. He had a black waistcoat on him and the rest of his clothes were flannel just like the people of this island. And when my father drew near him, he stooped himself down behind a stone; and when he looked there, there was no sight or mind of him.
One time myself when I was a little chap, about the size of Michael there, I was out in the fields, and I saw a woman standing on the top of a wall, and she having a child in her hand. She had a long black coat about her. And then she got down and crossed over the field, and it seemed to me all the time that she was only about so high (three feet) and that there was only about two feet between her and the ground as she walked, and the child always along with her. And then she passed over another wall and was gone.
The Spinning Woman:
There was a new-married woman, and the husband was going out and he gave her wool to spin and to have ready for him. And she couldn't know what in the world to do, for she never learned to spin. And she was there sitting at it and a little man came in, and when she told him about it he said he'd bring it away and spin it for her and bring it back again. And she asked for his name, but he wouldn't tell that. And soon after there was a ragman going the road and he saw a hole and he looked down and there he saw the little man, and he stirring a Pot of stirabout with one hand and spinning with the other hand, and he was singing while he stirred: " ----- is my name (that's his name in Irish but I won't tell you the meaning of it) and she doesn't know it, and so I'll bring her along with me." So the ragman went in and came to the young woman's house, and told her what the man was singing. So when he came with the wool she called him by his name, and he threw the wool down and went away; for he had no power over her when she knew his name.
Mary Glynn of Slieve Echtge:
That's it, that's it, the other class of people don't like us to be going out late, we might be in their way, unless it's for a case, or a thing that can't be helped. And this is Monday, no, Mrs. Deruane, not Tuesday--we'll say it's Monday. It's at night they're seen, God bless them, and their music is heard, God bless them, the finest music you ever heard, like all the fifers of the world and all the instruments, and all the tunes of the world. There was one of those boys that go about from house to house on the morning of the new year, to get a bit of bread or a cup of tea or anything you'll have ready for him, and he told us that he was coming down the hill near us, and he had the full of his arm of bits of bread, and he heard the music, for it was but dawn, and he was frightened and ran and lost the bread. I heard it sometimes myself and there's no music in the world like it, but it's not all can hear it. Round the hill it comes, and you going in at the door. And they are quiet neighbours if you treat them well. God bless them and bring them all to heaven!
For they were in heaven once, and heaven was the first place there was war, and they were all to be done away with, and it was St. Peter asked the Saviour to help them. So he turned His hand like this, and the sky and the earth were full of them, and they are in every place, and you know that better than I do because you read books.
Mary Glynn and Mary Irwin:
One night there was bonavs in the house--God bless the hearers and the place it's told in--God bless all we see and those we don't see!--And there was a man coming to rise dung in the potato field in the morning, and so, late at night, Mary Glynn was making stirabout and a cake to have ready for breakfast.
Mary Irwin's brother was asleep within on the bed. And there came the sound of the grandest music you ever heard from beyond the stream, and it stopped here. And Micky awoke in the bed, and was afraid and said, "Shut up the door and quench the light," and so we did. It's likely they wanted to come into the house, and they wouldn't when they saw us up and the lights about. But one time when there were potatoes in the loft, Mary Irwin and her brothers were well pelted with them when they sat down to their supper. And Mary Glynn got a blow on the side of her face from them one night in the bed. And they have the hope of Heaven, and God grant it to them. And one day there was a priest and his servant riding along the road, and there was a hurling of them going on in the field. And a man of them came and stood on the road and said to the priest, "Tell me this for you know it, have we a chance of Heaven?" "You have not," said the priest ("God forgive him," says Mary Glynn--"a priest to say that"); and the man that was of them said, "Shut your fingers in your ears till you have travelled two miles of the road; for when I go back and tell what you are after telling me to the rest, the crying and bawling and the roaring will be so great that if you hear it you'll never hear a noise again in this world." So they put their fingers then in their ears, but after a while the servant said to the priest, "Let me take out my fingers now." And the priest said, "Do not." And then the servant said again, "I think I might take one finger out." And the priest said, "As you are so persevering you may take it out." So he did, and the noise of the crying and the roaring and the bawling was so great that he never had the use of that ear again..
Callan of Slieve Echtge:
We know they are in it, for Father Hobbs that was our parish priest saw them himself one time there was a station here, and when some said they were not in it, he said, "I saw them in a field myself, more people than ever I saw at twenty fairs." It was St. Peter spoke for them, at the time of the war, when the Saviour was casting them out; he said to Him not to empty the heavens. And every Monday morning they think the Day of Judgment may be coming, and they will see Heaven.
There's never a funeral they are not at, walking after the other people. And you can see them if you know the way, that is to take a green rush and to twist it into a ring, and to look through it. But if you do, you'll never have a stim of sight in the eye again, and that's why we don't like to do it.
Resting they do be in the daytime, and going about in the right.
One time I was coming home from a fair and it was late in the right and it was dark and I didn't know was I on the right road. And I saw a cabin in a field with a light in it, and I went and knocked at the door and a man opened the door and let me in, and he said, "Have you any strange news?" and I said, "I have not," and he said, "There is no place for you here," and he put me out again. For that was a faery hill, and when they'll ask have you strange news, and you'll say you have not, they'll do nothing for you. So I went back in the field, and mere were men carrying a coffin, and they said, "Give us a hand with this." And I put my hand to it to help them to lift it. And as we walked on we came to a house and we went in and there was a fire on the hearth, and they took the body out of the coffin and put it before the fire, and they said, "Now let you keep turning it." So I sat there and turned it, and then they took it up and we went on till we came to another house and the same thing happened there, and they put me to turn the body. And when we went out from there they all vanished, and there was the cabin before me again with the light in it. And when the man came to the door and asked me, "Is there any strange news?" I said, "There is indeed," and told him all that had happened. And then I looked round, and I was within a few yards of my own house.
When you see a blast of wind, and it comes sudden and carries the dust with it, you should say, "God bless them," and throw something after them. How do we know but one of our own may be in it? Half of the world is with them.
We see them often going about up and down the hill, Jack O'Lanthorn we call them. They are not the size of your two hands. They would not do you much harm, but to lead you astray.
The Spinning Woman:
I remember one day a strange woman coming in and sitting down there--very clever looking she was, and she had a good suit of clothes. And I bid her rest herself and I'd give her a cup of tea, and she said, "I travelled far today and you're the first that offered me that." And when she had it taken she said, "If I had a bit of tobacco, and a bit of bacon for my dinner, I'd be all right." And I made a sign to the woman I have, under the table, to give her a bit of tobacco. So she got it for her and she said, "I shouldn't take it, and this the second time today you divided it." And that was true, for a neighbouring boy had come in in the morning and asked for a loan of a bit, and she had cut it for him. And I said, "Go to that house beyond and the woman will give you a bit of bacon"; and she said, "I won't go to that woman, for it was she told you that one of the neighbours was bringing away her butter from her," and so she had, sure enough. And then she said, she must be in Cruachmaa that night, and she went away and I never saw her again.
A Mayo Man:
One time I was working in England near Warrington, and I was walking the road alone at night, and I saw a woman under an umbrella in the mist and I said, "Is it a living thing you are or dead?" And she vanished on the minute. And I sat down by the hedge for a while, and I heard feet walking, walking, up and down inside the hedge, and I am sure they were the same thing. And then two strange men passed me, dressed in working clothes, but talking gibberish that I could not under-stand, and I know that they were no right men. So I went in towards the town and I met a policeman, and he took up his lamp and made it shine in my face, for they carry a lamp in their belt and they will take the measurement of your face with it, the same as by daylight. And he said, "There never was a worse road for an Irishman to walk than this one." It was maybe because of the land and the rough people of it he said that.
My sister and her husband were driving on the Kinvara road one day, and they saw a carriage coming behind them, and it with bright lamps about it. And they drew the car to one side to let it pass. And when it passed they saw it had no horses, and the men that were sitting up where the drivers should he were headless.
There's many has seen the coach, in different shapes, and some have seen the riders going over the country. Drumconnor is a great place for these things. The Sheehans that lived in the castle had no peace or rest. Mrs. Sheehan looked up one day she was outside, and there was some person standing at the window, and in a moment it was headless. And they'd see them coming in at the gate, sometimes in the shape of a woman, and a sort of a cape in the old fashion and a handkerchief over the head, and sometimes in the shape of a cow or such things. And noises they'd hear, and things being thrown about in the house and packs of wool thrown down the stairs.
And they had a good many children, and all the best and the best-looking were taken. And at last they got the owner to build them a house outside, and since that they have no trouble and have lost no more children.
Bivers of Cloonrnore one time when he was going to Loughrea, at the fish-pond corner saw the coach. I didn't see it, but I saw him draw aside and say to Leary not to let on they saw it.
Meagher another time saw it, and it full of children all in white.
But Egan beyond, he'd never let on to believe in such things and would make them out to be nothing-he has such a gift of talking.
And one time in the night I and my husband woke and heard the car rattling by, and we thought it was St. George going to Ballylee Castle, till we asked in the morning. Four horses it has and they headless, and sure and certain we heard it pass that night.
And I knew a boy met the coach and four one time. Drawn by four horses it was, and lights about it and music, and the horses dressed with flowers. And in it were sitting ladies, very clever-looking and wild, and their hair twisted up on their heads, and when they went on a little way they called to some man on the road to come with them, and he refused, and they laughed at that and ridiculed him.
I never saw the coach and four with these two eyes; but one time I heard it pass by, about 11 o'clock at night, when I was sitting up mending the sole of a boot. Surely it passed by, but I would not look out to see what it was like.
For there was a woman I knew was walking with a man one night from Kilcolgan to Oranmore. And as they were sitting by the roadside they heard the coach and four coming. And the man stood up and looked at it, but he had no right to do that, he should have turned his head away. And there were grand people in it, ladies, and flowers about them. But no sooner did he look at it than he was struck blind and never had his eyesight since.
It's best not to look at them if they pass. And when you go along the road and a storm comes in the calm and raises all the dust of the road up in the air, turn your head another way, for it's they that are passing. In the month of May is the most time they do be travelling. And it's best not to go near water then, near a river or a lake.
When my father was dying my mother was sitting with him, and she heard a car pass the door, going light and quick, but when it passed down the road again it went heavy, and that was the coach and four.
There was Sully had the forge one time, and passing one night down the road towards Nolan's gate, he saw a brake pass full of ladies and gentlemen, as he thought, and he believed it to be St. George's carriage. But at Nolan's gate, it turned and came up again, and whatever he saw, when he got home he took to his bed for some days with the fright he got.
Kelly told me one time he saw the coach and four driving through the field above Dillon's, with four horses. And wasn't that a strange place for it to be driving through all the rocks?
There was boys used to be stealing apples from the orchard at Tyrone, and something in white with a candle used to come after them, and then change to something in red. So they went to a forth, and they went to the side of it where the sun rises and there they made the mark of the cross, but after all they had to leave going after the apples.
There was a woman down at Silver's the other night, and when I was standing to go home she said, "I wonder you not to be afraid to go through these fields." So I asked her did ever she see anything, and she said, "I was with another girl one day near Inchy gate, and we heard a voice, and we saw the coach and four coming and we were afraid, and we went in under the bushes to hide ourselves. It passed by us then, it was big and long, longer than a carriage you could see now, and there were people in it, men and women dressed in all colours, blue and red and pink and black, but I could not say what had they on their heads And there was a man on the box, not a coachman but just a Christian, and he driving the four horses.
"As to the horses, the two that were in front were grey, but the two that were near the carriage were brown; it gave me a great fright at the time."
There is no light about it in the daytime, but at night it is all shining.
There was a girl saw it one time in the same way, drawn by horses that were without heads. She got a great fright and she ran home. And in the morning when she got up, she that had been a dark-haired girl was as white as snow, and her hair grey. She is living yet and is up to nearly a hundred years.
My father would never believe in anything till one time he was walking near Seanmor with another smith, and he stopped and said "I can't go on with all the people that's in that field." And my father said "I don't see any people." And the other said "Put your right foot on my right foot, and your hand on my right shoulder." And he did, and he saw a great many in the field, but not so many as the other saw; fine men and all dressed in white shirts, shining they were so white. He told us about it when he came home, and he said he wished he didn't see them. He was dead within the twelvemonth, and the man that was with him was dead before that, not much time between them.