THE FAIRY MYTHOLOGY
The following tales are some of those which we contributed to the
Irish Fairy Legends. Subjoined is a selection from the verses which we have written on various occasions,
chiefly to oblige our lady-friends. They are inserted merely to show that the writer could compose well-
rimed stanzas, while he lays no claim whatever to the title of poet.
The Harvest Dinner
It was Monday, and a fine October morning. The sun had been
some time above the mountains, and the hoar frost and the dew-tops on the gossamers1 were
glittering in the light, when Thady Byrne, on coming in to get his breakfast, saw his neighbour Paddy
Cavenagh, who lived on the other side of the road, at his own door tying his brogues.
"A good morrow to you, Paddy, honey," said Thady Byrne.
"Good morrow, kindly, Thady," said Paddy."
Why, thin, Paddy, avick, it isn't your airly risin', anyhow, that 'ill do you any harm this
"It's thrue enough for you, Thady Byrne," answered Paddy, casting a look up at the
sky; "for I b'leeve it 'a purty late in the day. But I was up, you see, murdherin' late last night.
"To be shure, thin, Paddy, it was up at the great dinner, yisterday, above at the big
house you wor."
"Ay was it; an' a rattlin' fine dinner we had uv it too."
"Why, thin, Paddy, agrah, what's to all you now, but you'd jist sit yourself down here
on this piece o' green sod, an' tell us all about it from beginnin' to ind."
"Niver say the word twist, man; I'll give you the whole full an' thrue account uv it,
They sat down on the roadside, and Paddy thus began.
"Well, you see, Thady, we'd a powerful great harvist uv it, you know, this year, an'
the min all worked like jewels, as they are; an' the masther was in great sperits, an' he promis'd he'd
give us all a grand dinner whin the dhrawin'-in was over, an' the corn all safe in the haggard. So this
last week, you see, crown'd the business; an' on Satherday night the last shafe was nately tied an' sint
in to the misthress, an' everything was flnisht, all to the tatchin' o' the ricks. Well, you see, jist as
Larry Toole was come down from headin' the last rick, an' we war takin' away the laddher, out comes the
misthress herself--long life to her--by the light o' the moon; an', 'Boys,' sez she, 'yez hav' flnish'd
the harvist bravely, an' I invite yez all to dinner here to-morrow; an' if yez come airly, yez 'ill git
mass in the big hall, widout the throuble o' goin' up all the ways to the chapel for it.'"
"Why, thin, did she raally say so, Paddy?"
"That she did--the divil the word o' lie in it."
"Well, go on."
"Well, if we didn't set up a shout for her, it 's no matther!"
"Ay, an' a good right yez had too, Paddy, avick."
"Well, you see, yistherday mornin'--which, God be praised, was as fine a day as iver
come out of the sky--whin I tuk the beard off o' me, Tom Conner an' I set off together for the big house.
An' I don't know, Thady, whether it was the fineness o' the day, or the thoughts o' the good dinner we
wor to have, or the kindness o' the misthress, that med my heart so light, but I filt, anyhow, as gay as
any skylark. Well, whin we got up to the house, there was every one o' the people that 's in the work,
min, women and childher, all come together in the yard; an' a purty sight it was to luk upon, Thady: they
wor all so nate an so clane, an' so happy."
"Thrue 'for you, Paddy, agrah; an' a fine thing it is, too, to work wid a raal gintleman
like the masther. But till us, avick, how was it the misthress conthrived to get the mass for yez: shure
Father Miley himself, or the codjuthor, didn't come over."
"No, in troth didn't they, but the misthress managed it betther nor all that. You see,
Thady, there 'a a priest, an ould friend o' the family's, one Father Mulhall's on a visit, this fortnight
past, up at the big house. He's as gay a little man as iver spoke, only he 's a little too fond o' the
dhrop,--the more 'a the pity,--an' it's whispered about among the sarvints that by manes uv it he lost a
parish he had down the counthry; an' he was an his way up to Dublin, whin he stopt to spind a few days
wid his ould finds the masther an' misthress.
"Well, you see, the misthress on Satherday, widout sayin' a single word uv it to any
livin' sowl, writes a letther wid her own hand, an' sinds Tom Freen off wid it to Father Miley, to ax him
for a loan o' the vistmints. Father Miley, you know 's a mighty ginteel man intirely, and one that likes
to obleege the quolity in anything that doesn't go agin' his juty; an' glad he was to hav' it in his power
to sarve the misthress; an' he sint off the vistmints wid all his heart an' sowl an' as civil a letther,
Tommy Freen says, for he hard the misthress readin' it, as ivir was pinned."
"Well, there was an alther, you see, got up in the big hall, jist bechune the two doors--
if ivir you wor in it--ladin' into the store-room, an' the room the childher sleep in; and whin iviry
thing was ready we all come in, an' the priest gev' us as good mass iviry taste as if we wor up at the
chapel for it. The misthress an' all the family attinded thimsilves, an' they stud jist widinside o' the
parlour-door; and it was raaly surprisin', Thady, to see how dacently they behaved thimsilves. If they wor
all their lives goin' to chapel they cudn't have behaved thimsilves betther nor they did."
"Ay, Paddy, mavourneen; I'll be bail they didn't skit and laugh the way some people
would be doin'."
"Laugh! not thimsilves, indeed. They'd more manners, if nothin' else, nor to do that.
Well, to go an 'aid my story: whin the mass was ovir we whit sthrollin' about the lawn an' place tilt
three o'clock come, an' thin you see the big bell rung out for dinner, an' may be it wasn't we that wor
glad to hear it. So away wid us to the long barn where the dinner was laid out; an' 'pon my conscience,
Thady Byrne, there's not one word o' lie in what I'm goin' to tell you; but at the sight o' so much
vittles iviry taste uv appetite in the world lift me, an' I thought I'd ha' fainted down an the ground
that was undher me. There was, you see, two rows o' long tables laid the whole Iinth o' the barn, an'
table cloths spred upon iviry inch o' them; an' there was rounds o' beef, an' romps o' beef, an' ribs o'
beef; both biled an' roast, an' there was ligs o' mootton, and han's o' pork, and pieces o' fine bacon,
an' there was cabbage an' pratees to no ind, an'a knife an' fork laid for ivirybody; an' barrils o' beer
an' porther, with the cocks in iviry one o' them, an' moogs an' porringirs in hapes. In all my born days,
Thady dear, I nivir laid eyes on sich a load o' vittles."
"By the powers o' dilph! Paddy, ahaygar, an' it was a grand sight shure enough. Tare
an' ayjirs! what ill loock I had not to be in the work this year! But go on, agra."
"Well, you see, the masther himself stud up at the ind uv one o' the tables, an' coot
up a fine piece o' the beef for us; and right forenint him at the other ind, sot ould Paddy Byrne, for,
though you know he is a farmer himself, yet the misthress is so fond uv him--he is sich a mighty dacint
man--that she would by all manner o' manes hav' him there. Then the priest was at the head o' th' other
table, an' said grace for us, an' thin fill to slashin' up another piece o' the beef for us: and forenint
him sot Jim Murray the stchewart; an' shure enough, Thady, it was oursilves that played away in grand
style at the beef an' the mootton, an' the cabbage, an' all th' other fine things. An' there was Tom Free;
and all th' other sarvints waitin' upon us an' handin' us dhrink, jist as if we wor so many grand
gintlemin that wor dinin' wid the masther. Well, you see, whin we wor about half doon, in walks the
misthress hursilf, an' the young masther, an' the young ladies, an' the ladies from Dublin that 'a down
on a visit wid the misthress, jist, as she said, to see that we wor happy and merry ovir our dinner; an'
thin, Thady, you see, widout anybody sayin' a single word, we all stud up like one man, an' iviry man an'
boy wid his full porringer o' porther in his hand dhrank long life an' success to the misthress and
masther an' iviry one o' the family. I don't know for others, Thady, but for mysilf; I nivir said a prayer
in all my life more from the heart; and a good right I had, shure, and iviry one that was there, too; for,
to say nothin' o' the dinner, is there the likes uv her in the whole side o' the counthry for goodness to
the poor, whethir they're sick or they're well. Wouldn't I mysilf. if it worn't but for her, be a lone an'
desolate man this blissed day?"
"It's thrue for you, avick, for she brought Judy through it betther nor any docther o'
"Well, to make a long story short, we et, an' we dhrank, an' we laughed, an' we talked,
till we wor tirt, an' as soon as it grew dusk; we wor all called agin into the hail: an' there, you see,
the mnisthress had got ovir Tim Connel, the blind piper, an' had sint for all the women that could come,
an' the cook had tay for thim down below in the kitchen; an' they come up to the hail, an' there was
chairs set round it for us all to sit upon, an' the misthress come out o' the parlour, an' 'Boys,' says
she, 'I hope yez med a good dinnir, an' I 'ye bin thinkin' uv yez, you see, an' I 'ye got yez plinty o'
partnirs, an' it's your own faults if yes don't spind a pleasint evinin'.' So wid that we set up another
shout for the misthress, an' Tim sthruck up, an' the masther tuk out Nilly Mooney into the middle of the
flure to dance a jig, and it was they that futted it nately. Thin the masther called out Dinny Moran, an'
dhragged him up to one o' the Dublin young ladies, an' bid Dinny be stout an' ax her out to dance wid him.
So Dinny, you see, though he was ashamed to make so free wid the lady, still he was afeard not to do as
the masther bid him; so, by my conscience, he bowled up to her manfully, an' hild out the fist an' axed
her out to dance wid him, an' she gev' him her hand in a crack, an' Dinny whipt her out into the middle o'
the hail, forenint us all, an' pulled up his breeches an' called out to Tim to blow up 'The Rocks of
Cashel' for thim. An' thin my jewil if you wor but to see thim! Dinny flingin' the Jigs about as if they
'd fly from off him, an' the lady now here, now there, jist for all the world as if she was a spent, for
not a taste o' n'ise did she make on the flure that ivir was hard; and Dinny callin' out to Tim to play it
up fasther an' fasther, an' Tim almost workin' his elbow through the bag, till at last the lady was fairly
tirt, an' Dinny thin clapt his hands an' up jumpt Piggy Reilly, an' she attacked him bouldly, an' danced
down Dinny an' thin up got Johnny Regan an' put her down complately. An' sence the world was a world, I
b'leeve there nivir was such dancin' seen."
"The sarra the doubt uv it, avick I 'm sartin'; they 're all o' thim sich rael fine
dancers. An' only to think o' the lady dancin' wid the likes o' Dinny!"
"Well, you see, poor ould Paddy Byrne, whin he hears that the womin wor all to be there,
in he goes into the parlor to the misthress, an' axes her if he might make so bould as to go home and
fetch his woman. So the misthress, you see, though you know Katty Byrne 's no great favourite wid hur, was
glad ta obleege Paddy, an' so Katty Byrne was there too. An' thin ould Hugh Carr axt hur out to move a
minnet wid him, an' there was Hugh, as stiff as if he dined on one o' the spits, wid his black wig an'
his long brown coat, an' his blue stockin's, movin' about wid his hat in his hand, an' ladin' Katty about,
an' lukin' so soft upon her; an' Katty, in her stiff mob-cap, wid the ears pinned down undher her chin,
an' hum little black hat on the top uv her head; an' she at one corner curcheyin' to Hugh, an' Hugh at
another bowin' to her, an' iviry body wundhenin' at thim, they moved it so iligantly."
"Troth, Paady, avourneen, that was well worth goin' a mile o' ground to see."
"Well, you see; whin the dancin' was ovir they tuk to the singin', an' Bill Carey gev'
the 'Wounded Hussar,' an' the' Poor but Honest So'dger,' in sich style that yi'd have h'ard him up on the
top o' Slee Roo; an' Dinny Moran an' ould Tom Freen gev' us the best songs they had, an' the priest sung
the 'Cruiskeen Laun' for us gaily, an' one o' the young ladies played an' sung upon a thing widin in the
parlor, like a table, that was purtier nor any pipes to listen to."
"An' didn't Bill giv' yes 'As down by Banns's Banks I sthrayed?' Shune that's one o'
the best songs he has."
"An' that he did, till he med the very sates shake undher us; but a body can't remimber
iviry thing, you know. Well, where was I? Oh, ay! You see, my dear, the poor little priest was all the
night long goin' backwards an' forwards, iviry minit, bechune the parlor an' the hal; an' the sperits,
you see, was lyin' opin on the sideboord, an' the dear little man he cudn't, for the life uv him, keep
himself from it, so he kipt helpin' himself to a dhrop now an' a dhrop thin, till at last he got all as
one as tipsy. So thin he comes out into the hall among us, an' goes about whispenin' to us to go home, an'
not to be keepin' the family out o' their bids. But the misthress she saw what he was at, an' she stud up,
an' she spoke out an' she said,' Good people,' sez she, 'nivir mind what the priest says to yez; yez are
my company, an' not his, an' yes are heartily welcum to stay as long as yez like.' So whin he found he cud
get no good uv us at all, he rowled off wid himself to his bid; an' his head, you see, was so bothered wid
the liquor he'd bin taken', that he nivir once thought o' takin' off his boots, but tumbled into bed wid
thim upon him, Tommy Freen tould us, whin he wint into the room to luk afther him; and divil be in Tim,
when he h'ard it but he lilts up the 'Priest in his Boots;' and, God forgive us, we all burst out laughin',
for shure who could hilp it, if it was the bishop himself? "
"Troth, it was a shame for yez, anyhow. But Paddy, agrah, did yez come away at all?
"Why at last we did, afther another round o' the punch to the glory an' success o' the
family. And now, Thady, comes the most surprisintest part o' the whole story. I was all alone, you see,
for my woman, you know, cudn't lave the childher to come to the dance; so, as it was a fine moonshiny
night, nothim' 'ud sarve me but I must go out into the paddock, to luk afther poor Rainbow the plough
bullock, that 's got a bad shouldher, and so by that manes, you see, I misst o' the cumpany, an' had to
go home all alone by myself. Well, you see, it was out by the back gate I come, an' it was thin about
twelve in the night, as well as I cud jidge by the Plough, an' the moon was shinin' as bright as a silver
dish, and there wasn't a sound to be hard, barrin' the screechin' o' the ould owl down in the ivy-wall;
an' I filt it all very pleasant, for I was sumhow rather hearty, you see, wid the dhrink I'd bin takin';
for you know, Thady Byrne, I'm a sober man."
"That's no lie for you, Paddy, avick. A little, as they say, goes a great way wid you.
"Well, you see, an I wint whistlin' to mysilf some o' the chunes they wor singin', and
thinkin' uv any thin, shure, but the good people; whin jist as I come to the corner o the plantation, an'
got a sight o' the big bush, I thought, faith, I seen sum things movin' backwards an' for'ards, an'
dancin' like, up in the bush. I was quite sartin it was the fairies that, you know, resort to it, for I
cud see, I thought, their little red caps an' green jackits quite plain. Well, I was thinkin', at first,
o' goin' back an' gittin' home through the fields; but, says I to myself; says I, what sh'uld I be afeard
uv? I'm an honest man that does nobody any harm; an' I h'ard mass this mornin'; an' it 's neither Holly
eve nor St. John's eve, nor any other o' their great days, an' they can do me no harm, I 'm sartin. So I
med the sign o' the crass, an' an I went in God's name, till I come right undher the bush; and what do
you think they wor, Thady, afther all?"
"Arrah, how can I till? But you wor a stout man anyhow, Paddy, agrah!"
"Why, thin, what was it but the green laves o' the ould bush, an' the rid bunches o' the
haves that war wavin' and shakin' in the moonlight. Well on I goes till I come to the cornir o' the Crab
road, whin I happined to cast my eyes ovir tow'st the little moat in the Moatfield, an' there, by my sowl!
(God forgive me for swaerin',) I seen the fairies in rael airnist."
"You did, thin, did you?"
"Ay, by my faith, did I, an' a mighty purty sight it was to see, too, I can tell you,
Thady. The side o' the moat, you see, that luks into the field was opin, and out uv it there come the
darlintest little calvacade o' the purtiest little fellows you ivir laid your eyes upon. They wor all
dhrest in green huntin' frocks, wid nice little rid caps on their heads, an' they wor all mounted on purty
little, long-tailed, white ponies, not so big as young kids, an they rode two and two so nicely. Well,
you see, they tuk right acrass the field, jist abuv the san'pit, an' I was wundherin' in myself what they
'd do whim they come to the big ditch, thinkin' they 'd nivir get over it. But I'll tell you what it is,
Thady. Misther Tom and the brown mare, though they. 're both o' thim gay good at either ditch or wall,
they're not to be talked uv in the same day wid thim. They tuk the ditch, you see, big as it is, in full
sthroke; not a man o' thim was shuk in his sate, nor lost his rank; it was pop, pop, pop, ovir wid thim;
and thin, hurra, away wid them like shot acrass the High Field, in the direction o' the ould church. Well,
my dear, while I was sthrainin' my eyes lukin' afther them, I hears a great rumblin' noise cumin' out o'
the moat, an' whim I turned about to luk at it, what did I see but a great ould family coach-an'-six
comin' out o' the moat, and makin' direct for the gate where I was stannin'. Well, says I, I 'in a lost
man now, anyhow. There was no use at all, you see, in thinkin' to run for it, for they wor dhrivin' at the
rate uv a hunt; so down I got into the gripe o' the ditch, thinkin' to snake off wid mysilf while they
war op'nin' the gate. But, be the laws, the gate flew open widout a sowl layin' a finger to it, the very
instant minuet they come up to it, an' they wheeled down the road jist close to the spot where I was
hidin', an' I seen thin as plain as I now see you; an' a quare sight it was, too, to see; for not a morsel
uv head that ivir was, was there upon one o' the horses, nor on the coachman neither, and yet, for all
that, Thady, the Lord Lef'nint's coach cudn't ha' med a handier nor a shorter turn nor they med out o' the
gate; an' the blind thief uv a coachman, jist as they wor makin' the wheel, was near takin' the eye out o'
me wid the lash uv his long whip, as he was cuttin' up the horses to show off his dhrivin'. I've my doubts
that the schamer knew I was there well enough, and that he did it all a purpose. Well, as it passed by me,
I peept in at the quolity widinside, an' not a head, no not as big as the head uv a pin, was there among
the whole kit o' them, an' four fine futmin that war stannin' behind the coach war jist like the rest o'
"Well, to be shure, but it was a quare sight."
"Well, away they wint tattherim' along the road, makin' the fire fly out o' the stones
at no rate. So when I seen they 'd no eyes, I knew it was onpossible they could ivir see me, so up I got
out o' the ditch, and afther them wid me along the road as fast as ivir l culd lay fut to ground. But whin
I got to the rise o' the hill I seen they wor a great ways a-head o' me, an' they 'd taken to the fields,
an' war makin' off for the ould church too. I thought they might have some business o' their own there,
an' that it might not be safe for sthrangers to be goin' afther thim; so as I was by this time near my own
house, I wint in and got quietly to bid, widout sayin' anyt'hing to the woman about it; an' long enough it
was before I cud get to sleep for thinkin' o' them, an' that's the raison, Thady, I was up so late this
mornin'. But wasn't it a sthrange thing, Thady?"
"Faith, an' shure it was, Paddy ahayger, as sthrange a thing as ivir was. But are you
quite sartin an' shure that you seen thim?"
"Am I sartin an' shure I seen thim? Am I sartin an' shure I see the nose there on your
face? What was to ail me not to see thim? Wasn't the moon shinin' as bright as day I An' didn't they pass
widin a yard o' me? And did ivir any one see me dhrunk, or hear me tell a lie?"
"It 's thrue for you, Paddy, no one ivir did, and myself doesn't rightly know what to
say to it?"2
The Young Piper
There was livin', it's not very long ago, on the borders o' the
county Wicklow, a dacint honest couple, whose names wor Mick Flanagan and Judy Muldoon. These poor people
wor blist, as the saying is, wid four childher, all buys: three o' them wor as fine, stout, healthy,
goodlukin' childher as ivir the sun shone upon; an' it was enough to make any Irishman proud of the breed
of his counthrymen to see thim about one o'clock on a find summer's day stannin' at their father's cabin-
door, wid their beautiful, fine flaxen hair hangin' in curls about their heads, an' their cheeks like two
rosy apples, an' a big, laughin' potato, smokin' in their hand. A proud man was Mick, o' these fine
childher, an' a proud woman, too, was Judy; an' raison enough they had to be so. But it was far otherwise
wid the remainin' one, which was the ouldest; he was the most miserable, ugly, ill-conditioned brat that
ivir God put life into: he was so ill thriven, that he was nivir able to stand alone or to lave his cradle;
he had long, shaggy, matted, curly hair, as black as the sut; his face was uv a greenish yollow colour;
his eyes wor like two burnin' coals, an' wor for ever movin' in his head, as if they had the parpaitual
motion. Before he was a twel'month ould he had a mouth full o' great teeth; his hands wor like kite's
claws, and his legs wor no thicker nor the handle of a whip, and about as straight as a rapin' hook; to
make the matther worse, he had the gut uv a cormorant, and the whinge, and the yelp, and the screech, and
the yowl, was never out of his mouth.
The neighbours all suspicted that he was somethin' not right, more especialy as it was
obsarved, that whin people, as they use to do in the counthry, got about the fire, and begun to talk o'
religion and good things, the brat, as he lay in the cradle which his mother ginerally put near the
fireplace that he might be snug, used to sit up, as they wor in the middle of their talk, and begin to
bellow as if the devil was in him in right airnest: this, as I said, led the neighbours to think that all
wasn't right wid him, an' there was a gineral consultashion held one day, about what id be best to do wid
him. Some advised to put him out an the shovel, but Judy's pride was up at that. A purty thing, indeed,
that a child of her's shud be put an a shovel, an' flung out on the dunghill jist like a dead kitten or a
pisoned rat; no, no, she wouldn't hear to that at all. One ould woman, who was considhered mighty skilful
an' knowin' intirely in fairy matthers sthrongly recomminded to put the tongs in the fire, an' to hate thim
rid hot, an' thin to take his nose in thim, an' that that id, beyant all manner o' doubt, make him tell
what he was, an' whare he come from (for the gineral supishion was, that he was changed by the good
people); but Judy was too saft-harted, an' too fond o' the imp, so she wouldn't giv' into this plan
neither, though iverybody said she was wrong; and may be so she was, but it's a hard thing, you know,
to blame a mother. Well some advised one thing and some another, at last one spoke of sindin fur the
priest, who was a very holy an' a very larned man, to see it; to this Judy uv coorse had no objection, but
one thing or another always purvinted her doing so, an' the upshot o' the business was that the priest
niver seen him at all. Well, things wint on in the ould way for some time longer. The brat continued
yelpin' an' yowlin', an' aitin' more nor his three brothers put together, an' playin' all sorts uv unlucky
thricks, for he was mighty mischievyously inclined, till it happened one day that Tim Carrol, the blind
piper, goin' his rounds, called in and sot down by the fire to hav' a bit o' chat wid the woman o' the
house. So afther some time, Tim, who was no churl uv his music, yoked an the pipes an' begun to bellows
away in high style; whin the instant minnit he begun, the young fellow, who was lyin' as still as a mouse
in his cradle, sot up, an begun to grin an' to twist his ugly phiz, an' to swing about his long tawny
arms, an' to kick out his cracked legs, an' to show signs o' grate glee at the music. At last nothin' id
sarve him but he must git the pipes into his own hands, an', to humour him, his mother axt Tim to lind
thim to the child for a minnit. Tim, who was kind to childher, readily consinted; and, as Tim hadn't his
sight, Judy herself brought thim to the cradle, an' wint to put thim an him, but she had no need, for the
youth seemed quite up to the business. He buckled an the pipes, set the bellows undher one arm and the bag
undher th' other, an' worked thim both as knowingly as iv he was twinty years at the thrade, an' lilted up
"Sheela na Guira," in the finest style that iver was hard.
Well, all was in amazemint; the poor woman crast herself: Tim, who, as I tould you afore,
was dark an' didn't well know who was playin,' was in grate delight; an' whin he hard that it was a little
prechaun, [an abridgment of Leprechaun] not aight years ould, that nivir seen a set of pipes
in all his days afore, he wished the mother joy iv her son; offered to take him aff her han's iv she'd
part wid him, swore he was a born piper, a nath'ral jainses, an' declared that in a little time more, wid
the help uv a little good tachein' frum himsilf there wouldn't be his match in the whole counthry round.
The poor woman was grately delighted to hear all this, particklarly as what Tim sed about nathral jainises
put an ind to some misgivin's that war risin' in hur mind, laist what the naybours sed about his not bein'
right might be only too thrue; an' it gratified hur too to think that her dear child (for she raely loved
the whelp) wouldn't be forced to turn out an' big, but might airn dacent, honest bread fur himsilf. So
whin Mick come home in the evenin' frum his work, she up an' she tould him all that happined, an' all that
Tim Carrol sed; an Mick, as was nath'ral, was very glad to hear it, for the helpless condition o' the poor
crather was a grate throuble to him; so nixt fair-day he tuk the pig to the fair of Naas, and wid what it
brought he whipt up, the nixt holiday that come, to Dublin, an' bespoke a bran new set o' pipes o' the
proper size fur him, an' the nixt time Tom Doolan whit up wid the cars, in about a fortnight after, the
pipes come home, an' the minnit the chap in the cradle laid eyes on thim, he squealed wid delight, an'
threw up his purty legs, an' bumped himsilf in his cradle, an' wint an wid a grate many comical thricks;
till at last, to quite him, they gev him the pipes, an' immajetly he set to an' pulled away at "Jig
Polthog," to th' admirashin uv all that hard him.
Well, the fame uv his skill an the pipes soon spread far an' near, for there wasn't a piper
in the nixt three counties cud come near him at all, in Ould Maudha Roo, or the Hare in the Corn, or The
Fox Hunther's Jig, or The Piper's Maggot, or any uv the fine ould Irish jigs, that make people dance
whether they will or no: an' it was surprisin' to hear him rattle away The Fox Hunt; you'd raaly think you
hard the hounds givin' tongue, an' the terriers yelpin' always behind, an' the huntsman an' the
whippers-in cheerin' or correctin' the dogs; it was, in short, the very nixt thing to seein' the hunt
itself. The best uv him was, he was no way stingy uv his music, an' many's the merry dance the boys an'
the girls o' the neighbourhood used to hav' in his father's cabin; an' he 'd play up music fur thim that,
they sed, used, as it wor, to put quicksilver in their feet; an' they all declared they nivir moved so
light an' so airy to any piper's playin' that ivir they danced to.
But besides all his fine Irish music, he had one quare chune uv his own, the oddest that iver
was hard; fur the minnit he begun to play it iverything in the house seemed disposed to dance; the plates
an' porringers used to jingle an the dhresser, the pots an' pot-hooks used to rattle in the chimbley, an'
people used even to fancy they felt the stools movin' frum undher thim; but, how--iver it might be wid the
stools, it is sartin that no one cud keep long sittin' an them, fur both ould and young always fell to
caperin' as hard as ivir they cud. The girls complained that whin he begun this chime it always threw thim
out in their dancin', an' that they nivir cud handle their feet rightly, fur they felt the flure like ice
undher thim, an' thimsilves ready iviry minnit to come sprawlin' an their backs or their faces; the young
bachelors that wanted to show aff their dancin' an' their new pumps, an' their bright red or green an'
yellow garthers, swore that it confused thim so that they cud nivir go rightly through the heel-and-toe,
or cover-the-buckle, or any nv their best steps, but felt thimsilves always bedizzied an' bewildhered, an'
thin ould an' young id go jostlin' an' knockin' together in a frightful manner an' whin the anlooky brat
had thim all in this way whirligiggin' about the flure, he'd grin an' he 'd chuckle an' he 'd chather,
jist fur all the world like Jocko, the monkey, whin he 'a played off sum uv his roguery.
The oulder he grew the worse he grew, an' by the time he was noine year ould there was no
stannin' the house for him; he was always makin' his brothers burn or scald thimsilves, or brake their
shins ovir the pots an' stools. One time in harvist, he was left at home by himself; an' whin his mother
come in she found the cat a horseback on the dog wid hur face to the tail, an' hur legs tied round him,
an' the urchin playin' his quare chune to thim, so that the dog wint barking an jumpin' about, an' puss
was miowin' fur the dear life, an' slappin' her tail backwards an' forwards, which whin it id hit agin the
dog's chaps, he'd snap at it an' bite it, an' thin there was the philhiloo. Another time the farmer Mick
worked wid, a mighty dacint kind uv a man, happened to call in, an' Judy wiped a stool wid her apron an'
axed him to sit down an rest himself afther his walk. He was sittin' wid his back to the cradle, an'
behind him was a pan o' blood, fur Judy was makin' hog's puddin's; the lad lay quite still in his nist,
an' watched his opportunity till he got ready a hook at the hid uv a piece o' packthread an' he conthrived
to fling it so handy that it cotcht in the bob o' the man's nice new wig, an' soused it in the pan o'
blood. Another time his mother was comin' in from milkin' the cow, wid the pail an her head, an' the very
minnit he saw her, he lilted up his infernal chune, an' the poor woman lettin' go the pail, clapped her
hands aside an' begun to dance a jig, an' tumbled the milk all atop uv her husband, who was bringin' in
some turf to bile the supper. In short there id be no ind to tellin' all his pranks, an' all the
mischievyous tricks he played.
Soon afther, some mischances begun to happen to the farmer's cattle; a horse tuk the staggers,
a fine vale calf died o' the blacklig, an' some uv his sheep o' the rid wather; the cows begun to grow
vicious, an' to kick down the milkpails, an' the roof o' one hid o' the barn fell in; an' the farmer tuk
it into his head that Mick Flannagan's onlooky child was the cause uv all the mischief. So, one day, he
called Mick aside, an' sed to him, "Mick," sez he, "you see things are not goin' on wid me
as they ought to go; an' to be plain an' honest wid you, Mick, I think that child o' yours is the cause uv
it. I am raaly fallin' away to nothin', wid frettin', an' I can hardly sleep an my bed at night for
thinkin' o' what may happen afore the mornin'. So I 'd be glad af you'd luk out fur work somewhare else;
you 're as good a man as any in the whole counthry, there 'a no denyin' it, an' there's no fear but you'll
have yer choice o' work." To this Mick med answer, and sed, "that he was sorry indeed for his
losses, and still sorrier that he or his shud be thought to be the cause o' thim; that, for his own part,
he wasn't quite aisy in his mind about that child, but he had him, an' so he must keep him;" an' he
promised to Iuk out fur another place immajetly.
So nixt Sunday at chapil, Mick gev out that he was about lavin' the work at John Riordan's,
an' immajetly a farmer, who lived a couple o' miles aff, an' who wanted a ploughman (the last one havin'
jist left him), come up to Mick, an' offered him a house an' garden, an' work all the year round. Mick,
who knew him to be a good employer, immajetly closed wid him. So it was agreed that the farmer shud sind
his car to take his little bit o' furniture, an' that he shud remove an the following Thursday.
Whin Thursday come, the car come accordin' to promise, an' Mick loaded it, an' put the cradle
wid the child an' his pipes an the top, an' Judy sat beside it to take care uv him, laste he shud tumble
out an' be kilt; they dray the cow afore thim, the dog folled; but the cat, uv course, was lift behind:
an' the other three childer wint along the road, pickin' haves and blackberries; for it was a fine day
towst the latther ind uv harvist. They had to crass a river; but as it run through the bottom between two
high banks, you didn't see it till you wor close up an it. The young fellow was lyin' purty quite in the
bottom o' the cradle, till they come to the head o' the bridge, whin hearin' the roarin' o' the wather
(for there was a grate flood in the river, as there was heavy rain for the last two or three days), he sot
up in his cradle, an' luked about him; an' the minnit he got a sight ov the wather, an' found they wor
goin' to take him acrass it, oh! how he did bellow, an' how he did squeal. "Whisht, alanna,"
sed Judy, "there 'a no fear o' yer; shure it 'a only ovir the stone bridge we 're goin'."
"Bad luck to yer, ye ould rip," sez he, "what a purty thrick yuv played me, to bring me
here;" an' he still wint an yellin', and the farther they got an the bridge, the loudher he yelled;
till at last Mick cud hould out no longer; so givin' him a skelp o' the whip he had in his han',
"Divil choke you, you crukked brat," sez he; "will you nivir stop bawlin'? a body can't
hear their ears for you." Well, my dear, the instant minnit he felt the thong o' the whip, he jumped
up in the cradle, clapped the pipes undher his arm, an' lept dane ovir the battlemints o' the bridge down
into the wather. "Oh, my child! my child!" shouted Judy; "he's dane gone for ivir frum me.
" Mick an' the rest o' the childher 'run to the other side o' the bridge an' lukt down, an' they seen
him comin' out from undher the arch o' the bridge, sittin crass-liggs an the top uv a big white-headed
wave, an' playin' away an the pipes, jist as if nothin' had happened at all. The river was runnin very
hard, so he was whirled away at a grate rate; but he played away as fast, ay, and faster nor the river run.
They set aff as hard as they cud along the bank; but as the river med a suddint turn round the hill, about
a hundred yards below the bridge, by the time they got there he was out o' sight, an' no one ivir led eyes
an him sence; but the gineral belief is, that he wint home wid the pipes to his own relations--the good
people--to make music fur thim.
1. As we have above given an etymon of cobweb, we will here repeat our note
on the word gossamer in the Fairy Legends.
"Gossamers, Johnson says, are the long white cobwebs which fly in the air in calm sunny weather, and
be derives the word from the Low Latin gossapium. This is altogether unsatisfactory. The gossamers
are the cobwebs which may be seen, particularly of a still autumnal morning, in such numbers in the furze-
bushes, and which are raised by the wind and floated through the air, as thus exquisitely pictured by
Browne in his Britannia's Pastorals (ii. 2),
The milk-white gossamers not upwards snowed.
Every lover of nature must have observed and admired the beautiful appearance of the gossamers in the
early morning, when covered with dew-drops, which, like prisms, separate the rays of light, and shoot
the blue, red, yellow, and other colours of the spectrum, in brilliant confusion. Of King Oberon
we are told--
A fiche mantle be did wear,
A much wore probable origin of gossamer than that proposed by Johnson is suggested by what baa been
now stated. Gossamer is, we think, a corruption of gorse, or gois samyt, i.e. the
samyt, or finely-woven silken web that lies on the gorse or furze. Voss, in a note on his Luise
(iii. 17), says that the popular belief in Germany is, that the gossamers are woven by the Dwarfs.
Made of tinsel gossamer,
Bestrew'd over with a few
Diamond drops of morning dew.
2. In the notes on this story Mr. Croker gives the following letter:--
"The accuracy of the following story I can vouch for, having heard it told several times by the
person who saw the circumstances.
"About twenty years back, William Cody, churn-boy to a person near Cork, had, after finishing his
day's work, to go through six or eight fields to his own house, about twelve o'clock at night. He was
passing alongside of the ditch of a large field, and coming near a quarry, he heard a great cracking of
whips on the other side. He went on to a gap in the same ditch, and out rode a little horseman, dressed
in green, and mounted in the best manner, who put a whip to his breast, and made him stop until several
hundred horsemen, all dressed alike, rode out of the gap at full speed, and swept round a glen. When the
last horseman was clear off, the sentinel clapt spurs to his horse, gave three cracks of his whip, and was
out of sight in a second.
"The person would swear to the truth of the above, as he was quite sober and sensible at the time.
The place had always before the name of being very airy [the Scottish eirie].
"Royal Cork Institution, P. BATH. June 3, 1825."