THE FAIRY MYTHOLOGY
The Soul Cages
Jack Dogherty lived on the coast of the county Clare. Jack was a
fisherman, as his father and his grandfather before him had been. Like them, too, he lived all alone (but
for the wife), and just in the same spot, too. People used to wonder why the Dogherty family were so fond
of that wild situation, so far away from all human kind, and in the midst of huge scattered rocks, with
nothing but the wide ocean to look upon. But they had their own good reasons for it.
The place was just, in short, the only spot on that part of the coast where anybody could
well live; there was a neat little creek, where a boat might lie as snug as a puffin in her nest, and out
from this creek a ledge of sunken rocks ran into the sea. Now, when the Atlantic, according to custom, was
raging with a storm, and a good westerly wind was blowing strong on the coast, many's the richly-laden
ship that went to pieces on these rocks; and then the fine bales of cotton and tobacco, and such like
things; and the pipes of wine, and the puncheons of rum, and the casks of brandy, and the kegs of Hollands
that used to come ashore. Why, bless you! Dunbeg Bay was just like a little estate to the Doghertys.
Not but that they were kind and humane to a distressed sailor, if ever one had the good luck
to get to land; and many a time, indeed, did Jack put out in his little corragh, that would breast
the billows like any gannet, to lend a hand towards bringing off the crew from a wreck. Bat when the ship
was gone to pieces, and the crew were all lost, who would blame Jack for picking up all he could find?
"And who's the worse of it?" said he. "For as to the king, God bless him! everybody knows
he 'a rich enough already, without gettin' what 'a floatin' in the say."
Jack, though such a hermit, was a good-natured, jolly fellow. No other, sure, could ever have
coaxed Biddy Mahony to quit her father's snug and warm house in the middle of the town of Ennis, and to go
so many miles off to live among the rocks, with the seals and sea-gulls for her next door neighbours. But
Biddy knew what's what, and she knew that Jack was the man for a woman who wished to be comfortable and
happy; for, to say nothing of the fish, Jack had the supplying of half the gentlemen's houses of the
country with the Godsends that came into the bay. And she was right in her choice, for no woman ate,
drank, or slept better, or made a prouder appearance at Chapel on Sundays than Mrs. Dogherty.
Many a strange sight, it may well be supposed, did Jack see, and many a strange sound did he
hear, but nothing daunted him. So far was he from being afraid of Merrows, or such like beings, that the
very first wish of his heart was fairly to meet with one. Jack had heard that they were mighty like
Christians, and that luck had always come out of an acquaintance with them. Never, therefore, did he dimly
discern the Merrows moving along the face of the waters in their robes of mist, but he made direct for
them; and many a scolding did Biddy, in her own quiet way, bestow upon Jack for spending his whole day out
at sea, and bringing home no fish. Little did poor Biddy know the fish Jack was after.
It was rather annoying to Jack that, though living in a place where the Merrows were as
plenty as lobsters, he never could get a right view of one. What vexed him more was, that both his father
and grandfather had often and often seen them; and he even remembered hearing, when a child, how his
grandfather, who was the first of the family that had settled down at the Creek, had been so intimate with
a Merrow, that, only for fear of vexing the priest, he would have had him stand for one of his children.
This, however, Jack did not well know how to believe.
Fortune at length began to think that it was only right that Jack should know as much as his
father and grandfather knew. Accordingly, one day, when he had strolled a little farther than usual along
the coast to the northward, just as he was turning a point, he saw something, like to nothing he had ever
seen before, perched upon a rock at a little distance out to sea: it looked green in the body, as well as
he could discern at that distance, and he would have sworn, only the thing was impossible, that it had a
cocked hat in his hand. Jack stood, for a good half hour, straining his eyes and wondering at it, and all
the time the thing did not stir hand or foot. At last Jack's patience was quite worn out, and he gave a
loud whistle and a hail, when the Merrow (for such it was) started up, put the cocked hat on its head,
and dived down, head foremost, from the rock.
Jack's curiosity was now excited, and he constantly directed his steps toward the point;
still he could never get a glimpse of the sea-gentleman with the cocked hat; and with thinking and
thinking about the matter, he began at last to fancy he had been only dreaming. One very rough day,
however, when the sea was running mountains high, Jack determined to give a look at the Merrow's rock,
(for he had always chosen a fine day before,) and then he saw the strange thing cutting capers upon the
top of the rock, and then diving down, and then coming up, and then diving down again. Jack had now only
to choose his time, (that is, a good blowing day,) and he might see the man of the sea as often as he
pleased. All this, however, did not satisfy him,--"much will have more;"--he wished now to get
acquainted with the Merrow, and even in this he succeeded. One tremendous blustery day, before he got to
the point whence he had a- view of the Merrow's rock, the storm came on so furiously that Jack was obliged
to take shelter in one of the caves which are so numerous along the coast, and there, to his astonishment,
he saw, sitting before him, a thing with green hair, long green teeth, a red nose, and pig's eyes. It had
a fish's tail, legs with scales on them, and short arms like fins. It wore no clothes, but had the cocked
hat under its arm, and seemed engaged thinking very seriously about something. Jack, with all his courage,
was a little daunted; but now or never, thought he; so up he went boldly to the cogitating fish-man, took
off his hat, and made his best bow.
"Your sarvint, sir," said Jack.--"Your servant, kindly, Jack Dogherty,"
answered the Merrow.--"To be shure, thin, how well your honour knows my name," said
Jack.--"Is it I not know your name, Jack Dogherty? Why, man, I knew your grandfather long before he
was married to Judy Began, your grandmother. Ah, Jack, Jack, I was fond of that grandfather of yours; he
was a mighty worthy man in his time. I never met his match above or below, before or since, for sucking in
a shellful of brandy. I hope, my boy," said the old fellow, "I hope you 're his own grandson.
"--"Never fear me for that," said Jack; "if my mother only reared me on brandy, 'tis
myself that 'ud be a suckin infant to this hour."--"Well, I like to hear you talk so manly; you
and I must be better acquainted, if it were only for your grandfather's sake. But, Jack, that father of
yours was not the thing; he had no head at all, not he."--"I'm shure," said Jack,
"sense your honour lives down undher the wather, you must be obleeged to dhrink a power to keep any
hate in you, at all at all, in such a cruel, damp, cowld place. Well, I often hard of Christhens dhrinkin'
like fishes;--and might I be so bould as to ax where you get the sperits?"--"Where do you get
them yourself Jack?" said the Merrow, with a knowing look.--"Hubbubboo," cries Jack,
"now I see how it is; but I suppose, sir, your honour has got a fine dhry cellar below to keep them
in."--"Let me alone for that," said the Merrow, with another knowing look.--"I'm shure,
" continued Jack, "it must be mighty well worth the luking at."--"You may say that,
Jack, with your own pretty mouth," said the Merrow; "and if you meet me here next Monday, just
at this time of the day, we will have a little more talk with one another about the matter."
Jack and the Merrow parted the beat friends in the world; and on Monday they met, and Jack
was not a little surprised to see that the Merrow had two cocked hats with him, one under each arm.
"Might I make so bould as to ask you, sir," said Jack, "why yer honour brought the two hats
wid you to-day? You wouldn't, shure, be goin' to giv' me one o' them, to keep for the curosity of the
thing?"--"No, no, Jack," said he, "I don't get my hats so easily, to part with them
that way; but I want you to come down and eat a bit of dinner with me, and I brought you the hat to dive
with."--"The Lord bless and presarve us cried Jack, in amazement, "would you want me to go
down to the bottom of the salt say ocean? Shure I'd be smoothered and choked up wid the wather, to say
nothin' of bein' dhrownded! And what would poor Biddy do for me, and what would she say?"--"And
what matter what she says, you pinkeen you? Who cares for Biddy's squalling? It 'a long before your
grandfather would have talked in that way. Many's the time he stuck that same hat on his head, and dived
down boldly after me, and many's the snug bit of dinner, and good shellful of brandy, he and I had
together, below under the water."--"Is it really, sir, and no joke?" said Jack; "why,
thin, sorra' be from me for ivir and a day afther, if I'll be a bit a worse man nor my grandfather was!
So here goes; but play me fair now. Here 's nick or nothin'!" cried Jack.--"That 's your
grandfather all over," said the old fellow. "So come along, my boy, and do as I do."
They both left the cave, walked into the sea, and then swam a piece until they got to the
rock. The Merrow climbed to the top of it, and Jack followed him, On the far side it was as straight as
the wall of a house, and the sea looked so deep that Jack was almost cowed.
"Now, do you see, Jack," said the Merrow, "just put this hat on your head, and
mind to keep your eyes wide open. Take hold of my tail, and follow after me, and you'II see what you'll
see." In he dashed, and in dashed Jack after him boldly. They went and they went, and Jack thought
they'd never stop going. Many a time did he wish himself sitting at home by the fireside with Biddy: yet,
where was the use of wishing now, when he was so many miles as he thought below the waves of the Atlantic?
Still he held hard by the Merrow's tail, slippery as it was. And, at last, to Jack's great surprise, they
got out of the water, and he actually found himself on dry land at the bottom of the sea. They landed just
in front of a nice little house that was slated very neatly with oyster-shells; and the Merrow, turning
about to Jack, welcomed him down. Jack could hardly speak, what with wonder, and what with being out of
breath with travelling so fast through the water. He looked about him, and could see no living things,
barring crabs and lobsters, of which there were plenty walking leisurely about on the sand. Overhead was
the sea like a sky, and the fishes like birds swimming about in it.
"Why don't you speak, man?" said the Merrow: "I dare say you had no notion
that I had such a snug little concern as this? Are you smothered, or choked, or drowned, or are you
fretting after Biddy, eh?" "Oh! not mysilf indeed," said Jack, showing his teeth with a
good-humoured grin, "but who in the world 'ud ivir ha' thought uv seem' sich a thing?"
"Well, come along my lad, and let's see what they've got for us to eat?"
Jack was really hungry, and it gave him no small pleasure to perceive a fine column of smoke
rising from the chimney, announcing what was going on within. Into the house he followed the Merrow, and
there he saw a good kitchen, right well provided with everything. There was a noble dresser, and plenty of
pots and pans, with two young Merrows cooking. His host then led him into the room, which was furnished
shabbily enough. Not a table or a chair was there in it; nothing but planks and logs of wood to sit on,
and eat off. There was, however, a good fire blazing on the hearth--a comfortable sight to Jack.
"Come, now, and I 'II show you where I keep--you know what," said the Merrow, with a sly look;
and opening a little door, he led Jack into a fine long cellar, well filled with pipes, and kegs, and
hogsheads, and barrels. "What do you say to that, Jack Dogherty?--Eh!--May-be a body can't live snug
down under the water!" "The divil the doubt of that," said Jack, "anyhow."
They went back to the room, and found dinner laid. There was no table-cloth, to be sure--but
what matter? It was not always Jack had one at home. The dinner would have been no discredit to the first
house in the county on a fast-day. The choicest of fish, and no wonder, was there. Turbots, and soles, and
lobsters, and oysters, and twenty other--kinds, were on the planks at once, and plenty of foreign spirits.
The wines, the old fellow said, were too cold for his stomach. Jack ate and drank till he could eat no
more: then, taking up a shell of brandy, "Here's to your honour's good health, sir," said he,
"though beggin' your pardon, its mighty odd, that as long as we're acquainted, I don't know, your
name yit." "That 's true, Jack," replied he; "I never thought of it before, but better
late than never. My name is Coomara." "Coomara! And a mighty dacint sort of a name it is, too,
" cried Jack, taking another shellful: "here 's, then, to your good health, Coomara, and may you
live these fifty years." "Fifty years!" repeated Coomara; "I 'm obliged to you,
indeed; if you had said five hundred, it would have been something worth wishing." "By the laws,
sir," said Jack, "yez live to a powerful great age here undlier the wather! Ye knew my
grandfather, and he 'a dead and gone betther nor sixty years. I 'm shure it must be a mighty healthy place
to live in." "No doubt of it; but come, Jack, keep the liquor stirring."
Shell after shell did they empty, and to Jack's exceeding surprise, he found the drink never
got into his head, owing, I suppose, to the sea being over them, which kept their noddles cool. Old
Coomara got exceedingly comfortable, and sang several songs; but Jack, if his life had depended on it,
never could remember any of them. At length said he to Jack, "Now, my dear boy, if you follow me, I
'll show you my curiosities!" He opened a little door, and led Jack into a large room, where Jack saw
a great many odds and ends that Coomara had picked up at one time or another. What chiefly took his
attention, however, were things like lobster-pots, ranged on the ground along the wall.
"Well, Jack, how do you like my curiosities?" said old Coo. "Upon my sowkins,
sir," said Jack, "they 're mighty well worth the lukin' at; but might a body make so bould as to
ax what thim things like lobster-pots are?" "Oh, the soul-cages, is it?" "The what,
sir?" "These things here that I keep the souls in." "Arrah! what sowls, sir? "
said Jack in amazement: "shure the fish ha' got no sowls in them?" "Oh, no," replied
Coo, quite coolly, "that they haven't; but these are the souls of drowned sailors." "The
Lord presarve us from all harm!" muttered Jack," how in the world did you conthrive to get thim?
" "Easily enough. I've only when I see a good storm coming on, to set a couple of dozen of these,
and then, when the sailors are drowned, and the souls get out of them under the water, the poor things are
almost perished to death, not being used to the cold; so they make into my pots for shelter, and then I
have them snug, and fetch them home, and keep them here dry and warm; and is it not well for them, poor
souls, to get into such good quarters?"
Jack was so thunderstruck he did not know what to say, so he said nothing. They went back
into the dining-room, and had some more brandy, which was excellent, and then, as Jack knew that it must
be getting late, and as Biddy might be uneasy, he stood up, and said he thought it was time for him to be
on the road.
"Just as you like, Jack," said Coo, "but take a doch an durrus before
you go; you've a cold journey before you." Jack knew better manners than to refuse the parting glass.
"I wondher" said he, "will I ivir be able to make out my way home." "What should
all you," said Coo, "when I show you the way?" Out they went before the house, and Coomara
took one of the cocked hats, and put it on Jack's head the wrong way, and then lifted him up on his
shoulder that he might launch him up into the water. "Now," says he, giving him a heave,
"you 'll come up just in the same spot yon came down in; and, Jack, mind and throw me back the hat.
" He canted Jack off his shoulder, and up he shot like a bubble--whirr, whirr, whiz--away he went up
through the water, till he came to the very rock he had jumped off where he found a landing-place, and
then in he threw the hat, which sunk like a stone.
The sun was just going down in the beautiful sky of a calm summer's evening. The evening star
was seen brightly twinkling in the cloudless heaven, and the waves of the Atlantic flashed in a golden
flood of light. So Jack, perceiving it was getting late, set off home; but when he got there, not a word
did he say to Biddy of where he had spent his day.
The state of the poor souls cooped up in the lobster-pots, gave Jack a great deal of trouble,
and how to release them cost him a great deal of thought. He at first had a mind to speak to the priest
about the matter; but what could the priest do, and what did Coo care for the priest? Besides, Coo was a
good sort of an old fellow, and did not think he was doing any harm. Jack had a regard for him too, and it
also might not be much to his own credit if it were known that he used to go dine with the Merrows under
the sea. On the whole, he thought his best plan would be to ask Coo to dinner, and to make him drunk, if
he was able, and then to take the hat and go down and turn up the pots. It was first of all necessary,
however, to get Biddy out of the way; for Jack was prudent enough, as she was a woman, to wish to keep the
thing secret from her.
Accordingly, Jack grew mighty pious all of a sudden, and said to Biddy, that he thought it
would be for the good of both their souls if she was to go and take her rounds at Saint John's Well, near
Ennis. Biddy thought so too, and accordingly off she set one fine morning at day dawn, giving Jack a
strict charge to have an eye to the place. The coast being clear, away then went Jack to the rock to give
the appointed signal to Coomara, which was, throwing a big stone into the water; Jack threw, and up sprang
Coo. "Good morrow, Jack," said he; "what do you want with me?" "Jist nothin' at
all to spake about, sir," replied Jack; "only to come and take pot-luck wid me, now that Biddy's
out of the way; if I might make so free as to ax you, an' shure it 's myself that's afther doin' so."
"It's quite agreeable, Jack, I assure you; what 's your hour?" "Any time that 's most
convanient to yoursilf, sir: say one o'clock, that you may go home, if you wish it, wid the
daylight." "I'll be with you," said Coo, "never fear me."
Jack went home and dressed a noble fish dinner, and got out plenty of his best foreign
spirits, enough for that matter to make twenty men drunk. Just to the minute came Coo, with his cocked hat
under his arm. Dinner was ready; they sat down, and ate and drank manfully. Jack thinking of the poor
souls below in the pots, plied old Coo well with brandy, and encouraged him to sing, hoping to put him
under the table, but poor Jack forgot that he had not the sea over his own head now to keep it cool. The
brandy got into it and did his business for him, and Coo reeled off home, leaving his entertainer as dumb
as a haddock on a Good Friday.
Jack never woke till the next morning, and then he was in a sad way. "Tis no use at all
for me thinkin' to make that ould Rapperee dhrunk," said Jack; "an' how in this world can I help
the poor sowis out o' the lobster pots." After ruminatin nearly the whole day, a thought struck him.
"I have it," said he, slapping his thigh; "I'll be bail Coo nivir saw a dhrop o' raal
potyeen as ould as he is, an' that's the thing to settle him! Och! thin isn't it well that Biddy won't be
home these two days yit; I can have another twist at him." Jack asked Coo again, and Coo laughed at
him for having no better head; telling him, he 'd never come up to his grandfather. "Well, but thry
me agin," said Jack, "and I'll be bail to dhrink you dhrunk and sober and dhrunk agin.
"--"Any thing in my power," said Coo, "to oblige you."
All this dinner, Jack took care to have his own liquor watered, and to give the strongest
brandy he had to Coo. At last, says he, "Pray, sir, did you ivir dhrink any potyeen? any raal
mountain-jew?"--"No," says Coo; what 's that, and where does it come from?"--"Oh!
that 's a sacret," said Jack, "but it 'a the right stuff; nivir believe me agin if it isn't
fifty times better nor brandy or rum either. Biddy's brother jist sint me a present of a little dhrop, in
exchange for some brandy and as you're an ould frind o' the family, I kep it to thrate you wid.
"--"Well, let 'a see what sort of thing it is," said Coo.
The potyeen was the right sort, it was first-rate, and had the real smack on it. Coo was
delighted with it; he drank and he sang, and he laughed and he danced, till he fell on the floor fast
asleep. Then Jack, who had taken good care to keep himself sober, snapt up the cocked hat, ran off to the
rock, leaped in, and soon arrived at Coo's habitation.
All was as still as a churchyard at midnight--not a Merrow young or old, was there. In he
went and turned up the pots, but nothing did he see, only he heard, he thought, a sort of a little whistle
or chirp as he raised each of them. At this he was surprised, till he recollected what the priest had often
said. that nobody living could see the soul, no more than they could see the wind or the air. Having now
done all he could do for them he set the pots as they were before, and sent a blessing after the poor
souls to speed them on their journey wherever they were going. He now began to think of returning; he put
on the hat (as was right,) the wrong way; but 'when he got out, he found the water so high over his head
that he had no hopes of ever getting up into it now that he had not old Coomara to give him a lift. He
walked about looking for a ladder, but not one could he find, and not a rock was there in sight. At last
he saw a spot where the sea hung rather lower than anywhere else, so he resolved to try there. Just as he
came to it, a big cod happened to put down his tail. Jack made a jump and caught hold of it, and the cod,
all in amazement, gave a bounce and pulled Jack up. The minute the hat touched the water, pop away Jack
was whisked; and up he shot like a cork, dragging the poor cod, that he forgot to let go, up with him tail
foremost. He got to the rock in no time, and without a moment's delay hurried home rejoicing in the good
deed he had done. But, meanwhile, there was fine work at home; for our friend Jack had hardly left the
house on his soul-freeing expedition, when back came Biddy from her soul-saving one to the well. When she
entered the house and saw the things lying thrie-na heelah on the table before her--" Here 's
a purty job," said she, "that blackguard of mine--what ill luck I had ivir to marry him--he's
picked up some vagabone or other, while I was prayin' for the good of his sowl; and they've bin dhrinkin'
up all the potyeen that my own brother gev' him, and all the sperits, to be shure, that he was to have
sould to his honour." Then hearing an outlandish kind of grunt, she looked down and saw Coomara lying
under the table. "The blessed Vargin help an' save me," shouted she, "if he hasn't made a
rael baste of himself. Well, well, well to be shure, I often hard till of a man makin' a baste of himself
wid dhrink, but I niver saw it afore! Oh hone, oh hone,--.Jack, honey, what 'ill I do wid you, or what
'ill I do widout you? How can any dacint woman ivir think of livin' wid a baste?"
With such like lamentations, Biddy rushed out of the house and was going, she knew not where,
when she heard the well known voice of Jack, singing a merry tune. Glad enough was Biddy to find him safe
and sound, and not turned into a thing that was like neither fish nor flesh. Jack was obliged to tell
her all; and Biddy, though she had half a mind to be angry with him for not telling her before, owned that
he had done a great service to the poor souls. Back they both went most lovingly to the house, and Jack
wakened up Coomara; and perceiving the old fellow to be rather dull, he bid him not be cast down, for
'twas many a good man's case; said it all came of his not being used to the potyeen, and recommended him,
by way of cure, to swallow a hair of the dog that bit him. Coo, however, seemed to think he had had quite
enough: he got up, quite out of sorts, and without having the good manners to say one word in the way of
civility, he sneaked off to cool himself by a jaunt through the salt water.
Coomara never missed the souls. He and Jack continued the best friends in the world; and no
one, perhaps, ever equalled Jack at freeing souls from purgatory; for he contrived fifty excuses for
getting into the house below the sea, unknown to the old fellow; and then turned up the pots, and let out
the souls. It vexed him, to be sure, that he could never see them; but as he knew the thing to be
impossible, he was obliged to be satisfied. Their intercourse continued for several years. However, one
morning, on Jack's throwing in a stone, as usual, he got no answer. He flung another, and another; still
there was no reply. He went away, and returned the next morning; but it was to no purpose. As he was
without the hat, he could not go down to see what had become of old Coo; but his belief was, that the old
man, or the old fish, or whatever he was, had either died, or had removed away from that part of the
Barry Of Cairn Thierna
Fermoy, though now so pretty and so clean a town, was once as poor
and as dirty a village as any in Ireland. It had neither barracks, nor church, nor school, nor anything
to admire. Two-storied houses were but few: its street (for it had but one) was chiefly formed of
miserable mud cabins; nor was the fine scenery around sufficient to induce the traveller to tarry in its
paltry, dirty inn, beyond the limits actually required.
In those days it happened that a regiment of foot was proceeding from Dublin to Cork. One
company, which left Caher in the morning, had, with 'toilsome march,' passed through Mitchelstown, tramped
across the Kilworth mountains; and, late of an October evening, tired and hungry, reached Fermoy, the last
stage but one to their quarters. No barracks, as we have said, were then built there to relieve them; and
every voice was raised, calling to the gaping villagers for the name and residence of the billet-
"Why, thin, can't ye be aisy, now, and let a body tell you," said one. "Shure,
thin, how can I answer you all at onst," said another. "Anan!" cried a third, affecting not
to understand the sergeant, who addressed him. "Is it Mr. Consadine you want replied a fourth,
answering, à l' Irlandaise, the question, by asking another. "Bad luck to the whole breed and
seed of the sogers!" muttered a fifth villager, between his teeth. "It 'a come to ate poor
people that work for their bread, out of house and home, yez are?' "Whisht, Teigue, can't you, now?
" said his neighbour, jogging the last speaker; "there 'a the house, gintlemen. You see it
there, yondher, forenint you, at the bottom of the sthreet, wid the light in the winddy; or, stay, shure
it 'a mysilf id think little of runnin' down 'odd you, poor crathurs! for 'tis tirt and wairy yez must be
afther the road."--"That 's an honest fellow," said several of the dust-covered soldiers;
and away scampered Ned Flynn, with all the men of war following close at his heels.
Mr. Consadine, the billet-master, was, as may be supposed, a person of some, and on such
occasions as the present, of no small consideration in such a place as Fermoy. He was of a portly build,
and of a grave and slow movement, suited at once to his importance and to his size. Three inches of fair
linen were at all times visible between his waistband and waistcoat. His breeches-pockets were never
buttoned; and, scorning to conceal the bull-like proportions of his chest and neck, his shirt-collar was
generally open, as he wore no cravat; and a flaxen bob-wig commonly sat fairly on his head, and squarely
on his forehead. Such, then, was Mr. Consadine, billet-master-general and barony sub-constable, who was
now just getting to the end of his eighth tumbler, in company with the proctor, who at that moment had
begun to talk of coming to something like a fair settlement about his tithes, when Ned Flynn knocked.
"See who's at the door, Nilly," said the eldest Miss Consadine, raising her voice,
and calling to the barefooted servant girl. "Tis the sogers, sir, is come! " cried Nelly,
running back into the room without opening the door. "I hear the jinketin' of their swoords and
bagnets on the pavin' -stones."--"Divil welcome them at this hour o' the night," said Mr.
Consadine, taking up the candle, and moving off to the room on the opposite side of the hail, which served
him for an office.
Mr. Consadine's own pen, and that of his son Tom were now in full employment. The officers
were sent to the inn; the sergeants, corporals, etc., were billeted on those who were on indifferent terms
with Mr. Consadine; for, like a worthy man as he was, he leaned as light as he could on his friends. The
soldiers had nearly all departed for their quarters, when one poor fellow, who had fallen asleep, leaning
on his musket against the wall, was awakened by the silence, and starting up, he went over to the table at
which Mr. Consadine was seated, hoping his worship would give him a good billet. "A good billet, my
lad," said the billet-master-general, "that you shall have, and on the biggest house in the
whole place. Do you hear, Tom! make out a billet for this honest man upon Mr. Barry of Cairn
Thierna." "On Mr. Barry of Cairn Thierna!" said Tom, with a look of amazement. "Yes,
to be sure, on Mr. Barry of Cairn Thierna--the great Barry!" replied his father, giving a nod.
"Isn't he said to keep the grandest house in this part of the counthry?--or stay, Tom, jist hand me
over the paper, and I'll write the billet myself."
The billet was made out accordingly; the sand glittered on the signature and broad flourishes
of Mr. Consadine, and the weary grenadier received it with becoming gratitude and thanks. Taking up his
knapsack and firelock, he left the office, and Mr. Consadine waddled back to the proctor to chuckle over
the trick he had played on the soldier, and to laugh at the idea of his search after Barry of Cairn
Thierna's house. Truly had he said no house could vie in capacity with Mr. Barry's; for like Allan A-
Dale's, its roof was the blue vault of Heaven, with its crescent so pale.
Barry of Cairn Thierna was one of the chieftains who, of old, lorded it over the barony of
Barrymore, and for some reason or other, he had become enchanted on the mountain of Cairn Thierna, where
he was known to live in great state, and was often seen by the belated peasant.
Mr. Consadine had informed the soldier that Mr. Barry lived a little way out of the town, on
the Cork road; so the poor fellow trudged along for some time with eyes right and eyes left, looking for
the great house; but nothing could he see only the dark mountain of Cairn Thierna before him, and an odd
cabin or two on the road-side. At last he met a man, of whom he asked the way to Mr. Barry's. "To Mr.
Barry's?" said the man; "what Barry is it you want?" "I can't say exactly in the dark,
" returned the soldier. "Mr. What's-his-name, the billet-master, has given me the direction on
my billet; but he said it was a large house, and I think he called him the great Mr. Barry."
"Why, sure, it wouldn't be the great Barry of Cairn Thierna you 're asking after?" "Aye,
" said the soldier, "Cairn Thierna--that 's the place. Can you tell me where it is?"
"Cairn Thierna!" repeated the man--"Barry of Cairn Thierna! I'll show you the way, and
welcome; but it 's the first time in all my born days that ever I h'ard of a soger bein' billeted on Barry
of Cairn Thierna. 'Tis a quare thing, anyhow, for ould Dick Consadin to be sindin' you up there,"
continued he; "but you see that big mountain before you--that's Cairn Thierna. Any one will show you
Mr. Barry's when you get to the top of it, up to the big hape of stones."
The weary soldier gave a sigh as he walked forwards toward the mountain; but he had not
proceeded far when he heard the clatter of a horse coming along the road alter him, and, turning his head
round, he saw a dark figure rapidly approaching. A tall gentleman, richly dressed, and mounted on a noble
gray horse, was soon at his side, when the rider pulled up, and the soldier repeated his inquiry after Mr.
Barry of Cairn Thierna. "Why, I'm Barry of Cairn Thierna, myself," said the gentleman, "and
pray what 's your business with me, friend." "I have got a billet on your house, sir,"
replied the soldier, "from the billet-master of Fermoy." "Did you, indeed," said Mr.
Barry; "well, then, it is not very far off; follow me and you shall be well taken care of, depend
He turned off the road, and led his horse up the steep side of the mountain, followed by the
soldier, who was astonished at seeing the horse proceed with so little difficulty, where he was obliged to
scramble up, and could hardly find or keep his footing. When they got to the top, there was a house, sure
enough, far beyond any house in Fermoy. It was three stories high, with fine windows, and all lighted up
within, as if it was full of grand corn-party. There was a hall-door too, with a flight of stone steps
before it, at which Mr. Barry dismounted, and the door was opened to him by a servant-man, who took his
horse round to the stable. Mr. Barry, as he stood at the door, desired the soldier to walk in, and,
instead of sending him down to the kitchen, as any other gentleman would have done, brought him into the
parlour, and desired to see his billet. "Ay," said Mr. Barry, looking at it and smiling,
"I know Dick Consadine well--he 's a merry fellow, no doubt, and, if I mistake not, has got some
capital good cows down on the inch-field of Carrickabrick; a sirloin of beef would be no bad thing for
supper, my man, eh?"
Mr. Barry then called out to some of his attendants, and desired them to lay the cloth, and
make all ready, which was no sooner done than a smoking sirloin of beef was placed before them. "Sit
down, now, my honest fellow," said Mr. Barry, "you must be hungry after your long day's march.
" The soldier with a profusion of thanks for such hospitality, and acknowledgments for such
condescension, sat down and made, as might be expected, an excellent supper; Mr. Barry never letting his
jaws rest for want of helping until he was fairly unable to eat more. Then the boiling water was brought
in, and such a jug of whiskey punch as was made! Take my word for it,--it did not, like honest Robin
Craig's, require to be hung out on the bush to let the water drain out of it.
They sat together a long time, talking over the punch, and the fire was so good, and Mr.
Barry himself was so free a gentleman, and had such fine conversation about everything in the world, far
or near, that the soldier never felt the night going over him. At last Mr. Barry stood up, saying it was
a rule with him that every one in his house should be in bed by twelve o'clock, "And," said he,
pointing to a bundle which lay in one corner of the room, "take that to bed with you, it's the hide
of the cow I had killed for your supper; give it to the billet-master when you go back to Fermoy, in the
morning, and tell him that Barry of Cairn Thierna sent it to him. He will soon understand what it means,
I promise you; so, good night, my brave fellow; I wish you a comfortable sleep and every good fortune;
but I must be off and away out of this long before you are stirring." The soldier gratefully
returned his host's good wishes, and went off to the room which was shown him, without claiming, as
every one knows he had a right to do, the second best bed in the house.
Next morning the sun awoke him. He was lying on the broad of his back, and the skylark was
singing over him in the beautiful blue sky, and the bee was humming close to his ear among the heath. He
rubbed his eyes; nothing did he see but the clear sky, with two or three light morning clouds floating
away. Mr. Barry's fine house and soft feather bed had melted into air, and he found himself stretched on
the side of Cairn Thierna, buried in the heath, with the cowhide which had been given him, rolled up under
his head for a pillow.2
"Well," said he, "this bates cockfighting, anyhow! Didn't I spind the
plisantest night I iver spint in my life with Mr. Barry last night? And what in the world has becom' of
the house, and the hall door with the steps, and the very bed that was undher me?" He stood up. Not
a vestige of a house or any thing like one, but the rude heap of stones on the top of the mountain, could
he see; and ever so far off lay the Blackwater, glittering with the morning sun, and the little quiet
village of Fermoy on its banks, from whose chimneys white wreaths of smoke were beginning to rise upwards
into the sky. Throwing the cowhide over his shoulder, he descended, not without some difficulty, the steep
side of the mountain, up which Mr. Barry had led his horse the preceding night with so much ease; and he
proceeded along the road, pondering on what had befallen him.
When he reached Fermoy, he went straight to Mr. Consadine's, and asked to see him. "Well,
my gay fellow," said the official Mr. Consadine, recognising, at a glance, the soldier; "what
sort of an entertainment did you meet with from Barry of Cairn Thierna?" "The best of good
thratement, sir," replied the soldier; "and well did he spake of you, and he disired me to give
you this cowhide as a token to remimber him by." "Many thanks to Mr. Barry for his generosity,
" said the billet-master, making a low bow, in mock solemnity; "many thanks indeed, and a right
good skin it is, wherever he got it."
Mr. Consadine had scarcely finished the sentence, when he saw his cow-boy running up the
street, shouting and crying aloud, that the best cow in the Inch-field was lost and gone, and nobody knew
what had become of her, or could give the least tidings of her.
The soldier had spread out the skin on the ground for Mr. Consadine to see it; and the cow-
boy looking at it, exclaimed--"That is her hide, wherever she is; I'd take my Bible oath to the two
small white spots, with the glossy black about thim; and there's the very place where she rubbed the hair
off her shouldher last Martinmas." Then clapping his hands together, he literally sang "the tune
the old cow died of." This lamentation warn stopped short by Mr. Consadine: "There is no manner
of doubt about it," said he. "It was Barry that kilt my best cow, and all he has left me is the
hide o' the poor baste to comfort myself with; but it will be a warnin' to Dick Consadine, for the rest of
his life, nivir again to play off his thricks upon thravellers."
Aileen A Roon (Ellen My Love)
Carrol O'Daly is the Lochinvar of Ireland. He and Ellen Cavanagh were
intimate from childhood. The result was love; but Ellen's father insisted on her marrying a wealthier
suitor. On the wedding-night Carrol came disguised as a harper, and played and sung this air, which he had
composed for the occasion. Ellen's tenderness revived in full force; she contrived to make her father, the
bridegroom, and the guests drink to excess, and by morning she and Carrel were beyond pursuit.
The following lines were written one evening to gratify a lady who wished to have the
writer's idea of what Carrol might have sung. The air is generally known under the name of Robin
What are the joys wealth and honours bestow?
Do they endure like true love's steady glow?
Shadows of vanity,
Mists of the summer sky,
Soon they disperse and fly,
Aileen a roon!
Time was when Aileen tripped light as the fawn,
Spying young Carrol approach in the dawn,
Ere the sun's early beam
Glittered on lake and stream,--
Oh! that was bliss supreme,
Aileen a roon!
Or when mild even's star beamed in the west,
Bringing to nature the season of rest--
At that sweet hour to rove,
Down by yon spreading grove,
Breathing forth vows of love,
Aileen a roon!
Aileen forgets, but her Carrol more true,
As these past scenes memory brings to his view.
Heaves many a heavy sigh,
Breaking his heart is nigh--
And canst thou let him die?
Aileen a roon!
These verses are adapted to the well-known air. They were suggested
by a passage from Rousseau's works, quoted by Alison in his Essay on Taste. Though real names are
mentioned, the scenery and subject are purely ideal.
Calmly at eve shone the sun o'er Lake Leman,
Bright in his beam lay the watery expanse,
Softly the white sails reflected his gleaming,
Groves, banks, and trees their slow shadows advance.
Cool from the mountains the summer-gale breathed,
Laden with fragrance the lake it came o'er;
Leman, exulting, danced joyous beneath it,
Light crisped waves gently roll to the shore.
At that soft hour on the blue Leman rowing,
Slowly a sage urged his bark by a grove,
Silently musing, his lofty mind glowing,
Viewing earths pomp and the glories above
As o'er the lake the long shadows extended,
Whispering the breeze, lulled each sense to repose;
Calm he reclined, and as slumber descended,
Visions of bliss to his fancy arose.
Heaven to his view seemed arrayed in new glory,
Earth breathed forth fragrance and basked in the ray
Clad in loose raiment, more white than the hoary
Front of Mont Blanc, came a son of the day.
Lightly his wand o'er the slumberer extending,
While with new joy laughed the earth, sky, and lake;
Love in his accents with soft pity blending,
Shedding content, thus the bright vision spake:--
"Hither I come, from ray cloud-crowned station,
Touched with thy grief; to shed balm o'er thy mind '
I am the Spirit to whom, at creation,
Charge was by Heaven o'er this region assigned.
List to my accents, thou hunted by malice!
Let what I utter sink deep in thy breast:
Fly from mankind, to the lakes, hills, and valleys,
Thus, thus alone, shall thy spirit find rest.
"But if again to the world thou now fliest,
Thou should return, and again meet thy foes,
Think on this hour, when for comfort thou sighest,
And the bright scene will dispel all thy woes."
Gone was the vision: eve's star now was glancing,
Cold came the breeze o'er the blue curling stream;
Waked from his slumber, his heart with joy dancing,
Homeward he turned, and still mused on his dream.
1. We must here make an honest confession. This story had no foundation but a
German legend. [see Nixies--Germany] All that is not to be found there is our own pure invention. Yet we
afterwards found that it was well-known on the coast of Cork and Wicklow. "But," said one of our
informants, "It was things like flower-pots he kept them in." So faithful is popular tradition
is these matters! In this and the following tale there are some traits by another hand which we are now
unable to discriminate.
2. It is not very likely that the inventor of this legend knew anything about the Amadigi of B. Tasso, yet
in that poem we meet this circumstance more than once. In c. ii., when night falls on the young knight
Alidoro, in the open country, he finds a pavilion pitched beside a fountain, with lights in it, and hears
a voice which invites him to enter it. He there sups and goes to sleep in a rich bed, and on awaking in
the morning (iii. 38) finds himself lying in the open air. Another time (c. viii) be comes to a fair inn,
in a wild region, where he is entertained and his wounds are dressed by a gentle damsel, and on awaking
in the morning he finds himself lying under a tree. The tent and inn were the work of his protectress, the
Fairy Silvana. Another Fairy, Argea, entertains (c. xxxiii.) a king, queen, knight and ladies, in a
stately palace. At night they retire to magnificent chambers, and in the morning they find themselves
lying in a mead, some under trees, others on the sides of a stream, with more of the beauties of the
ladies displayed than they could have desired.